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Washington 9/11

1 hour
First broadcast:
Saturday 10 September 2011

September 11, 2001 dawned bright and clear on the East coast of the United States.

At 8:46 am President George W Bush was in Florida promoting his education policy and Vice President Dick Cheney was in Washington when a Boeing 767 - American Airlines flight 11 - crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower.

It was the first of four commercial planes used as weapons that day in attacks on New York and the capital that led to the loss of thousands of lives and changed the world.

This is the dramatised story - reconstructed from multiple documents and memoires - of how Bush, from his plane Air Force One circling high above the United States, and Cheney, in the White House bunker, responded in the first few hours after the 9/11 attacks and how the decisions they took that day set the course of the Bush presidency and triggered the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Michael Eaton's drama reconstructs a chaotic day, when communications failed, protocols were abandoned; radar signals were misinterpreted and rescue aircraft came close to being shot down.

It was a day that united America and saw tremendous acts of personal sacrifice and courage, but alongside the immediate response to the crisis there was also a hidden tussle for power and control, with some of Bush's key lieutenants moving swiftly to press an agenda that would determine US foreign policy for the remainder of the Bush presidency and put in place - The War on Terror.

  • Cast And Production

    President George W Bush - William Hope

    Vice President Dick Cheney - Stuart Milligan

    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - Garrick Hagon

    National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice - Tanya Moodie

    Chief of Staff Andrew Card - Richard Laing

    Major Robert Darling - Philip Rosch

    Laura Bush - Lorelei King

    CIA Director George Tenet - Bill Roberts

    Secretary of State Colin Powell - Nathan Osgood

    Other parts played by members of the cast.

    Produced by Richard Clemmow

    Directed by Dirk Maggs

    A Perfectly Normal Production for BBC World Service

  • BBC World Service: 9/11 - Ten Years On

    BBC World Service: 9/11 - Ten Years On

    A decade on, BBC World Service reflects on the impact of the 9/11 attacks with a collection of programmes - from 2011 and from the archive

    Listen to more programmes on 9/11


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