The September 11, 2001 attack was the worst terrorist attack in the history of United States. In a new collection of never-before-seen photographs, then President George W Bush can be seen responding to the attack.
The photos, taken by Eric Draper, Bush’s personal photographer, were released by George W Bush Presidential Library and Museum last week in response to a FOIA request by Colette Neirouz Hanna, coordinating producer for the Kirk Documentary Group, which has covered the legacy of 9/11 in multiple films for FRONTLINE.
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“Capturing that story was difficult,” Draper told the website Storybench in a 2015 interview. “I had to focus on being in the right place at the right time and push back the emotions that I was feeling to truly capture the story. Everyone did their job that day and I knew my job was to have a crystal clear focus to document what was in front of me, for others to place it into history.”
The images take us inside the White House and provide a rare glimpse into Bush’s actions on 9/11.
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On the morning of September 11, 2001, Bush was visiting Emma E Brooker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida when news of the attack on the World Trade Center broke.
The president and his staff, including Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, pictured left, were then brought to a holding room at the school, where he prepared to address the nation.
The president was whisked onto Air Force One and was flown to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Here he is shown watching television coverage of the attacks from his office on the plane.
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President George W Bush talks on the telephone at the General Dougherty Conference Center at Barksdale Air Force Base.
The president with senior adviser Karl Rove at Barksdale Air Force Base.
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The president with White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card at Barksdale Air Force Base. Before leaving the base, the president held a press conference at which he said, “Make no mistake: The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”
The president is consoled by Lt Col Cindy Wright of the White House Military Office aboard Air Force One. After leaving Louisiana, the president was flown to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska before he headed back to Washington DC.
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President Bush arrived at the White House Presidential Emergency Operations Center around 7 pm. Here he is shown with his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
At 8:30 pm, the president addressed the nation from the White House. In his speech, he set the tone for the wars to come in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I’ve directed the full resources for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice,” the president said. “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them.”
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The president’s speech on the teleprompter.
Immediately following the speech, the president has a national security meeting with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and others.
PHOTOS: Eric Draper Courtesy of the George W Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
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