FORMER US President George W Bush has spoken emotionally about the agony of living through the 9/11 terrorist atrocity and feeling powerless to save the lives of his people.
Little more than 15 minutes later an aide whispered into his ear: "A second plane has hit the second tower. America is under attack!"
He recalls: "My first reaction was anger. 'Who the hell...would do that to America?'
"And then I immediately focused on the children. And the contrast between the notion of an attack and the innocence of children clarified my job. And that's to protect people."
After making a hasty statement he was whisked away to board the Presidential jet Air Force One with the intention of heading back to Washington.
He says: "I wanted to be in Washington DC as the commander-in-chief at a time of war."
But soon after take-off the aircraft banked off course on the orders of the US Secret Service. For the next several hours he was flown between air bases and bunkers in Florida, Louisiana and Nebraska, struggling to keep in contact with his key aides in the White House trying to respond to the attack.
"I wasn't happy about it. I told them, I said, 'We're going to Washington.' And then, they held their ground, because they felt it
would be irresponsible for me to head back into a city that had just been attacked when in fact we didn't know what else might come."
"Not only was I having trouble communicating with people on the ground, the images of the attacks were kind of flickered back and forth on the TV.
"I was very frustrated, of course.
"We'd be flying through these TV zones and you'd see images of 9/11, of the incidents on 9/11... and then as we got out of the coverage, they'd die off.
"There was a lot of sadness on Air Force One.
"We had seen the images of people dying and... and I just knew that the heartbreak... that was... ravaging families." He said: "We didn't know if there were other planes that had been hijacked, so the first decision I made on Air Force One was to give our Air Force orders to shoot down commercial aircraft that did not respond to orders to land.
"It would have been awfully difficult for an Air Force pilot to shoot down a commercial airliner full of, full of our citizens.
"And yet, that was a decision I made because I thought it was the best way to protect the country at that point in time."
"I was informed that the fourth plane, Flight 93 went down in a field in rural Pennsylvania. And for a moment I thought, that plane might have gone down because of the order I had given.
"It took a while for us to get the information on Flight 93. But eventually we learned about the heroics of the passengers on that airplane."
President Bush says: "You really don't know what it's like to be a wartime President until the moment occurs."
He says: "I made the decisions as best I could in the fog of war. But I was determined. Determined to protect the country. And I was determined to find out who did it and go get 'em."
He recalls how he had to give the all-clear to shoot down a commercial airliner on route from Madrid to the USA because it had not responded to a request to land, only to learn five minutes later it had actually landed at Lisbon. He says: "It's during this moment that I made the decision; I'm going back to Washington, over the objections of just about everybody else.
"I'd had it. I said, 'I need to get home.'
"A lot had developed. It was important to wrap the day up with the presidential speech assuring people that the government was functioning and responding, and that we would take the appropriate actions necessary to protect our country. And I damn sure wasn't gonna give it from a bunker in Nebraska.
"I wanted to give it from the Oval office. I didn't want the enemy to have the psychological victory of a president speaking from a bunker in the heartland of our country. And not speaking from the capital that had been attacked."
Back at the White House, he says, "I saw Laura and gave the big hug. And, you know, we didn't need to say a lot. The hug did it. The hug was all that was necessary."
There was time for more late drama still after the President had gone to bed, he says, 'only to be woken over fears another jet was heading for the White House.
"I couldn't sleep, I was thinking about the images. Thinking about what I needed to do. Thinking about the day. Thinking about the next day.
"And I heard a guy breathing heavily. And it's 'Mr President. Mr President. You've got to come now. The White House is under attack.'
"I grab Laura. I grab Barney the Scottish terrier. Spot, the Springer spaniel follows, and off we go.
"Agents in front of us. Agent behind us. And Laura and me. People armed with automatic weapons, and, we're hustling along. And, finally, get back into the secure bunker."
It turned out to be a false alarm, caused by an Air Force fighter jet returning to Andrews Air Base without having switched his radio beacon to the right frequency.
Mr Bush recalls visiting the site of the Twin Towers on September 14.
He says: "There was still smoke in the air... Water on the ground... It was dim. It was dark. There was no light. And all your senses were on alert. And it was... it was a... it was a ugly scene."
The President insists: "The terrorists never won. They may have thought they won. They inflicted terrible damage on people's lives and on our economy, but they were never going to defeat America.
"They just didn't understand us. They didn't know that we're a nation of compassionate, kind people who are very courageous and would not yield to their barbaric tactics."
He tells how he was in Dallas with wife Laura this year when President Obama rang to tell him that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
"My response was, I congratulated him, and the special operators that conducted a very dangerous mission.
"I was grateful. I didn't...feel any great sense of happiness. Or jubilation. I felt a sense of closure. And I felt a sense of gratitute that justice had been done."
He says: "Eventually, September the 11th will be a date on the calendar; it'll be like Pearl Harbor day.
"For those of us who lived through it, it'll be a day that we'll never forget."
He has also relived the moment he thought his order to shoot down any commercial airliner that refused to land had led to further loss of innocent lives.
President Bush has opened his heart in an exclusive TV interview with National Geographic Channel to mark the tenth anniversary of the day hijacked planes destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre and crashed into the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people.
He spoke of his frustration at being flown around America for hours on end, at the request of his security advisers, while the world watched Americans dying before their eyes on TV.
He told National Geographic Channel director Peter Schnall: "The most powerless I ever felt was when I was watching people jump to their death on TV, and there's nothing I could do about it."
The President was famously at the Emma E Booker elementary school in Saratoga, Florida, highlighting education reform and listening to young pupils read when he was first told a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York.
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