Former White House Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, Andy Card is the person who famously walked into the classroom the President was visiting when the terrorists attacks of 9/11 happened.
He is the one who comes into the room and whispers into the President’s, “America is under attack”.
But what was going on behind the scenes, when President Bush was informed that a second plane had hit the other tower of the World Trade Center?
In an interview with Fox News’ Martha McCallum, Card recalls the events, how he reacted, and how he advised the President.
Card had been outside the room organizing the schedule for the visit, when he was informed of the first plane crashing in New York.
Andy Card recalls how a few moments later the same person informed him that the second plane had hit the other tower. He says his first thought was UBL, Usama Bin Laden.
That is when he decided to inform the President, he stated the events matter of fact in order not to invite a question from Bush.
“I leaned into the President and whispered in his ear, ‘A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.'”
And then everything changed. The decision was made to let the lesson that had begun in the classroom continue and then the President would make a quick statement before leaving for Washington D.C.
President Bush addressing the nation after 9/11
Bush stayed in the classroom for another seven minutes, which gave Card the time he needed to get the FBI director on the phone, get a line open to Vice President Dick Chenney, and another one to the situation room.
There was also the fact that Bush needed to get back to Air Force One as quickly as possible, but first the President needed to talk to the FBI.
One of the most interesting aspects of the interview is Card saying he had to fight President Bush on his wish to return to D.C.
Card comments Bush argued with him, “I am the President and I want to return to the White House now.”
The Pentagon on 9/11
Bush said, “we’re going back to Washington D.C.” according to Card.
He argued the Secret Service was advising against returning immediately, since they didn’t know if Andrews Air Force Base was secure. The pilot of Air Force One didn’t want to bring the plane in either.
“The Secret Service keep telling me no,” Card says. But President Bush was adamant about returning.
“He was ordering me.” he recalls. “I’m the President of the United States and we’re going back to Washington D.C.”
Andy Card had to keep cool, calm, and collected telling Bush, “Mr. President, I don’t think you want to make that decision right now.”
He says the President got pretty upset with him, but he made him reflect on the consequences of returning to Washington without knowing whether he could safely get back to the White House.
Ultimately they returned to D.C. and met the President’s wishes. After two pit stops in Louisiana and Nebraska, they arrived at about 7:30 that evening and Bush addressed the American people at 8:30.
When asked about how the President reacted to the attacks, Card says that once they got in the air, they were able to watch footage of the Twin Towers collapsing and they “just stood there in silence”.
The site of the crash of Flight 93 in Shankesville, Pennsylvania
Andy Card became one of the unforgettable faces of the terrible day that is 9/11, when he interrupted the lesson taking place at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School to tell the President of the United States that terrorists had attacked the mainland.