Condoleeza Rice recalls chaos and tension after 9/11 attacks
Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has revealed in a British TV documentary how she tried to stop ex- president George W Bush from returning to Washington immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, DPA reported.
Rice, who was National Security Adviser at the time, said she raised her voice during a heated argument on the telephone and hung up on Bush.
"I said to him in a raised voice, and I had never raised my voice to the president before, I said: 'You cannot come back here'. I hung up. The president was quite annoyed with me to say the least," Rice said in a Channel 4 documentary.
"The president got on the phone and he said: 'I'm coming back'. "I said: 'You cannot come back here. The United States of America is under attack, you have to go to safety. We don't know what is going on here'. "He said: 'I'm coming back'. I said: 'You can't'."
"I've known the president a long time and I knew that he wanted nothing more than to be there at the helm of the ship," she added. He flew from Florida back to Washington in the wake of the attacks.
Rice, who served as secretary of state from 2005 to 2009, also talked about the cramped and chaotic conditions in the bunker beneath the White House where she was sheltering with former vice-president Dick Cheney.
"There were so many people in the bunker that the oxygen levels started dropping and the secret service came in and said we've got to get some people out of here," she recalled.
"They literally went around telling people that they weren't essential and they had to leave."
Meanwhile, the government communication systems were failing and even Bush resorted to an unsecured line to talk to Washington.
"Despite all of the sophisticated hierarchy, sophisticated command and control equipment that we had, at that moment much of it didn't function very well and people instead did whatever they could to communicate messages. And frankly we then had to make it up."
"I think back on the number of cell phones that were probably used to communicate the most sensitive information because somebody was driving in or somebody couldn't get to a landline," said Rice.
"And I think how really dangerous that was because if the terrorists were monitoring our communications, they would have heard a lot on cell phones."
The documentary, 9/11: State of Emergency, which also features interviews with military leaders, air traffic controllers, and ordinary people caught up in the attacks, will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Saturday, the 9th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.