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(Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Is Told of the Second Crash but Continues with a Routine Briefing

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is told that a second plane has crashed into the World Trade Center by Vice Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr., his senior military assistant, but continues with a routine intelligence briefing. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 7/18/2002 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 130] Rumsfeld learned about the first crash at the WTC during a meeting in his private dining room at the Pentagon, but he assumed it was an accident (see Shortly After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Vogel, 2007, pp. 428; Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 334-335] After the meeting ended he returned to his office to receive his daily intelligence briefing. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37] Giambastiani was at the meeting in Rumsfeld’s private dining room and similarly returned to his office when it ended—apparently around 9:00 a.m.—to continue with his regular work. The television in his office was on and so he saw the second hijacked plane crashing into the WTC live, at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). He apparently realized right away that the incident was a terrorist attack. “Then there was absolutely no doubt in anybody’s mind that it was not a random event or an accident,” he will later comment, adding, “There was absolutely no doubt in my mind.” He goes to tell Rumsfeld what has happened. “I went in and informed the secretary [of defense],” he will say. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 7/18/2002 pdf file] “Someone came in and said that another plane had hit a different tower of the World Trade Center,” Rumsfeld will recall. [US Department of Defense, 8/12/2002] The two men apparently now realize the seriousness of the crisis. “When the second plane hit the World Trade Center, it became clear that it was more than an accident,” Rumsfeld will comment. [CBS, 9/8/2002] “We knew there was a problem here,” Giambastiani will say. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 7/18/2002 pdf file] However, Rumsfeld continues with his intelligence briefing. “[H]e resumed the briefing while awaiting more information,” the 9/11 Commission Report will state. He will still be in his office receiving the briefing at 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon is attacked (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37; Vogel, 2007, pp. 438-439]

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Edmund Giambastiani

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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