FTN –09/08/02 - Part 2

face the nation logo, 2009
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with our expanded edition of Face the Nation.

Gloria Borger is standing by at Ground Zero in New York this morning. With her is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.


GLORIA BORGER, "U.S. News & World Report": Thanks, Bob.

Senator Clinton and I are actually here at the Verizon building, which is right across the street from Ground Zero. And even on a Sunday morning, Bob, the work is continuing here.

Senator Clinton, I guess I just have to ask you, one year later, being back here at Ground Zero, your thoughts.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-NY: Well, Gloria, as were you pointing out to me, you look back at this site, and the enormity of it is more than television can capture. I thought that the first time I came down on September the 12th to see the extraordinary devastation.

And yet no one thought we would be ahead of schedule and below budget on the cleanup effort. And so many people deserve the gratitude of all of us for the rescue and recovery and the cleanup work, which is going on as we speak right behind us.

BORGER: Right. Now, Congress has come through with the $20 billion that you asked for.

CLINTON: That's right, $21.4 billion actually.

BORGER: OK -- that you asked for for the cleanup here. Is that going to be enough, Senator, for New York?

CLINTON: Well, Gloria, probably not, but we're very grateful for what we've received from the president and the Congress. And it has enabled us to move forward, not only on the physical cleanup and the rebuilding, but on a lot of the human costs that have to be paid.

And there are so many people who lost somebody or who are grievously injured who are still coping with that, people who still don't have a job and aren't back in their apartments yet. So we have a lot of work ahead of us. But I'm so grateful on behalf of New York to thank all of America for what has been done.

BORGER: One year later, the talk, as we heard with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Bob, talk of war in Iraq. This morning's "New York Times" reports that Iraq has been busy this past year trying to purchase equipment to make nuclear weapons. There's also talk that Iraq has the capacity to build and deliver chemical weapons.

Is that enough for you to vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq?

CLINTON: You know, Gloria, I think the goal that we all share to remove this regime that does absolutely pose a threat now or in the future is one that I fully subscribe to.

And I'm looking forward to the president coming before the American people Wednesday night, going before the United Nations on Thursday, to make the best case possible. Because I think what we want is to not only a shared goal, but an understanding of the means and the level of commitment.

And I heard Secretary Rumsfeld outline some of the grave concerns that he has spoken to, which I share.

BORGER: But have you heard enough yet?

CLINTON: Well, we're hearing more. You know, as it comes along, more information is put out, and we have to evaluate it carefully. But we also have to know what exactly the intentions are militarily, who will go with us. And I'm hoping that we will have more support than just our very good friend Tony Blair. What our potential unintended consequences are as well.

How we hope to be able to pursue our mission in Afghanistan at the same time, which I think is still critical.

So there's a lot of unanswered questions that we're in the process now of answering.

BORGER: What if we had to go it alone, Senator?

CLINTON: If it were the right thing to do, we would do it. There is no doubt in my mind, and I would support it.

BORGER: Now, you talk about finishing the work in Afghanistan. And last week, former President Clinton said that we ought to go after Osama bin Laden first and then we ought to go after Saddam Hussein. Is that what you think?

CLINTON: Well, I think there are a number of priorities in the war against terrorism. Obviously, here in New York, our priority has been our nation's priority, which is to rout out and eliminate the terrorist network.

And we also have to be very careful that Afghanistan doesn't implode and create a vacuum in which terrorism can once again flourish.

That has been our nation's policy ever since September the 11th, and I don't want anything to take away from that emphasis. Now, I believe we can do more than one thing at a time, but we also have to be extremely cognizant of the fact that these terrorists are determined adversaries, and we have to be sure that we do not, in any way, slack on our effort to get rid of them.

BORGER: The vice president said this morning that he would like a vote in the Congress authorizing the use of force or something like that before Congress leaves in October before the elections. Will that be something you would be willing to give him, a vote?

CLINTON: Well, I think that we do need a vote. The timing on it is something that I leave to the administration, the leadership to work out.

BORGER: And I guess one last question, Senator, as we sit here and we look out over Ground Zero, I'd like to know your thoughts about what you think should be here to memorialize September 11th.

CLINTON: You know, Gloria, I wish I had the imagination and expertise of an architect or a designer or an artist to be able to describe it.

I know that I want a memorial that stands the test of time, that will not only remind us of what happened, but continue to uplift our spirits and pay homage to the lost and the values of America that they were lost for.

I'd like to see a life that once again brings people down here. You know, performing space and cultural destinations, retail and residential and a school and the sound of children as well as commerce.

This was a thriving neighborhood. You know, when some of my colleagues came down with me about a week after, they were surprised to learn that people lived here; children went to school here. They rode their bikes around the World Trade Center.

So we want it, once again, to demonstrate the reality that New York is the global financial capital of the world, but we also want it to be a place where people raise their children, where tourists come to have a moment of silence and where all of us know that life has returned, which, in many ways, is the best tribute we could pay to those who were lost.

BORGER: Thank you very much. Thanks for coming here today. Thanks for being with us, Senator Clinton.

And we'll go back to you in Washington, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much, Gloria, and thank you, Senator Clinton.

We'll continue with our expanded edition of Face the Nation after a short break.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people...


... and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.




SCHIEFFER: (OFF-MIKE) perhaps the most important thing it reminded us of is something we may have forgotten in this country, and that is that there is a difference between celebrity and heroism.

Well, today we're going to talk with some real American heroes, some of the firemen who were on the scene that day at Ground Zero. For that, we're going back to Gloria, who is with them now.


BORGER: Thanks, Bob.

Joining us now is Charlie Wells -- he's a deputy chief of emergency service operations for the New York City Fire Department -- and retired Fire Lieutenant Dennis O'Berg.

Thank you both for being with us here today.

You both spent much of this past year here at Ground Zero. You were also both here on September 11th.

Chief Wells, can you look back to that day and tell us what happened to you on that day?

CHIEF CHARLIE WELLS, New York City Fire Dept.: Well, I was just starting my tour and driving along the Southern State Parkway, and the radio started to get very busy and a lot of Brooklyn units, EMS units, were being redeployed into Manhattan. And for the first few seconds, I really didn't realize where they were going, and then finally there was a report of an explosion at the World Trade Center.

So, you know, I got on the air, told them I was available, and they assigned me to the box, and I responded in. And when I got to West Street, I parked at Barkley and got dressed in my gear and walked down West Street to the command post. And both towers had been attacked at that time.

BORGER: What did you see?

WELLS: Well, you know, both towers heavily involved in smoke and flame. There were people in desperate moments jumping.

And I reported to the command post. They said to take the corner of Liberty and West and establish a medical treatment sector and triage point, which I did.

And as we were moving equipment and personnel to the west side of West Street for the point of safety, a firefighter, Tim Brown from Rescue 3, was assigned to OEM came up and said there were many casualties in the South Tower lobby. So I got a triage team together and we started to run down Liberty Street. And we felt this vibration, and we ended up getting into a doorway. And we got trapped up for a while, which ended up being the Marriott hotel's Tall Ship Pub.

BORGER: Mr. O'Berg, you were also here at Ground Zero that day...

LT. DENNIS O'BERG, New York City Fire Dept, ret.: Yes.

BORGER: ... and you lost your son, a fireman...

O'BERG: Yes.

BORGER: ... Dennis O'Berg, Jr., here that day. Tell us about Dennis.

O'BERG: Well my son, he was a loving, caring, great son. As close to a perfect son that any parent would want. Loving husband to his wife Christine.

They were only married 11 and a half months. He was only on the fire department for seven and a half months, probie.

He was assigned to Ladder 105. They lost the whole group of men there, the whole tour that was working. And they haven't been found.

One fella' from 219 who was working with them that day, John Cipora, they DNA'd him, and we're still waiting for word from the medical examiner.

BORGER: And you've come down here...

O'BERG: Yes, for the first couple, three months, I was at home dealing with the emotional aspect of it with my family and the shock of that day. What happened was I don't remember 80 percent of the day, and that's what prompted me to retire after that day.

But I got up one morning in December and I told my wife, "I'm going to go down to the site and see what I can do." I came down a week after the 11th, but I was just walking around in a daze. Somebody come up to me that I knew and just was walking with me, and I had to leave.

But from before Christmas right through to the end, I was coming down. And we, some of the other fathers that were down here, we bonded. We knew each other over the course of the years, our careers. And now we're bonded by blood, really, because we lost our sons. And some have recovered them, and some haven't.

But in a way, it was a fulfillment for me that I felt I was doing something.

It made me still feel that I was still on the fire department. And it just didn't work out where I, you know, recovered my son. And not that I was just looking for my son, but we were looking for everybody that was lost here.

BORGER: Chief Wells, you were also involved in trying to recover, and sometimes it was successful and sometimes it was not. How did you deal with that?

WELLS: I think everybody just had the purpose to, you know, go back to work, to go back to work and do what you could to move the effort along to, you know, in the beginning, to hopefully rescue people, and then as time wore on, to recover people.

And my own effort was to do whatever I could so that as many people could be recovered. My brother-in-law, Bobby Regan, was listed as missing and married to my sister Donna, two beautiful kids, Caitlin and Brendan.

And finally on New Year's Day, 2002, Bobby was recovered with a number of men from his company. And right before we went on, Dennis and I were talking, and Dennis, apparently, was there that day as well.

So a personal thank you from my family to you and to the men of 205, 118, the whole department who was able to make recoveries.

And that basically drove me, day to day, to come to work to do what I had to do.

BORGER: I guess, Mr. O'Berg, I'd like to ask both of you, you've spent so much time here this past year. What would you like to see happen to this hallowed ground here as a memorial?

O'BERG: I'd like to see the entire (inaudible) area, 16 acres, dedicated, because my son is really still here, along with a lot of other people that haven't been recovered.

I'd like to see something on the -- like the Vietnam Memorial Wall, maybe even with an etching of the person's bust, their face. I'd also like to see that 10 and 10 firehouse over there, let the city sell that and put a firehouse within the perimeter of the site. Because 343 firefighters died here. What better place to have a firehouse? I mean, it may sound strange, but their spirit would have like someplace to go.

BORGER: Thank you very much. It doesn't sound strange at all.

Thank you to both of you for being here with us today.

Back to you in Washington, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much, Gloria.

And what a remarkable thing to hear men say that they simply saw a responsibility to go back to work. That's what heroism is.

We'll continue with our expanded edition of Face the Nation after this short break.


SCHIEFFER: Joining us now to put a little perspective on all of this, David Halberstam, the author of "Firehouse," also the recent author of "War in a Time of Peace." Also with us this morning, our friend Tom Friedman, foreign affairs columnist of "The New York Times," who has a new book out, titled "Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11th."

David, let me start with you, because I was so touched by your book. You wrote this story, these fellows that came out of this firehouse. Thirteen of them went to fire...

DAVID HALBERSTAM, Author: Thirteen went down, and 12 died that day.

SCHIEFFER: And twelve died that day. In listening to these firemen this morning, it just reminds me again, and I think you used the phrase "the noble acts."

HALBERSTAM: The nobility of ordinary people, I think, is something that all journalists search for. And occasionally early in the civil rights days, I saw it, and certainly on this date, ordinary people just rising above. I think it's the great strength of the country. And those men, there's just a classic example of it.

SCHIEFFER: They're just remarkable. I was also struck by -- I'll tell you something. Your book was very instructive to me about how firemen work.

One of the most interesting things I found in the book, you pointed out that when a person is a policeman, the further he gets promoted up the line, the further from the action he gets. But firemen still, it's the chief who leads the men into the burning building.

HALBERSTAM: First in and last out. And I think the sense that this great tragedy hits one little institution, 12 men, men who lived together, risked their lives together, cooked together, repair each others houses together, have grown up together. I mean, it is an astonishing extended family.

And it's an interesting place, Bob. It's masculine without being macho.

There's no strutting, because they know who does it and no one struts. You do it, and you don't boast about it. It's a very understated kind of call to duty.

SCHIEFFER: We learned a lot about ourselves in these months since 9/11, didn't we, Tom?

TOM FRIDEMAN, "The New York Times": You know, listening to the two of you talk and listening to the firemen, it does remind me of something that always angered me most about 9/11, Bob. And it was that these people, the Osama bin Ladens, they think they knew it -- they don't know us at all. You know, they don't really -- they have no real clue about this country. They think we are crass, materialistic, rich and secular because we have no values.

Now, we may be rich and we may be materialistic, but it's actually because we have values -- values of entrepreneurship, liberty, individualism, respect for women's empowerment, et cetera. And that's really the bedrock, it seems to me, of the nobility of ordinary Americans, which is really the power.

And it goes back to -- the thing that struck me most about this morning is your thing on the Pentagon. The fact that it was just those construction workers that really drove, you know, the schedule and the rebuilding of it.

But the whole notion that these people had -- that this isn't a religious country. My God, you get anywhere...

HALBERSTAM: There is such a religiosity to the firemen. I mean, it really is there. Captain Gormley, told me one time, you know, do we do this for religious reasons. Yes. We have a daily conversation with God. Do we do it for God? Not really, but it's of them.

You know, in combat in Vietnam, when a kid runs out under fire and carries off a wounded colleague, it's a buddy. These men -- and the most lasting image of 9/11 will be all the people coming out and the firemen going in.

These men go in day after day, sworn to risk their lives for absolute strangers. That really is a religious calling.

SCHIEFFER: I'm glad you brought this up, Tom, because it goes to the point that we sometimes forget Americans not only will rescue their buddies under fire, they'll go on to the battlefield just to get the dead and bring them back so they can have a proper burial.

It seems to me, and you talk about the values, the great values of this country, the bedrock of this country is that people feel a responsibility to each other.

The day after 9/11, I'll never forget going up to the Capitol. Suddenly there was no road rage. Suddenly we all remembered that we were a part of something that was larger than all of us were. We didn't know if we'd gone through a day when the plane that went down in Pennsylvania may have crashed into the Capitol, and many of us who were at the Capitol thought a lot about that and thought about those passengers.

But the idea that Americans are willing to take responsibility and they see responsibility, it seems to me that's the great strength of this country.

I want to ask you both about -- you heard the secretary of defense. Are we about to go to war with Iraq, Tom?

FRIDEMAN: I still think -- what struck me most about what he said was that the president hasn't made the case yet. That really jumped out at me, because I thought it was the perfect depiction of what has happened here the last couple of months.

This administration, either deliberately, by accident, it was probably a little of both, leaked their war plans before they leaked the rationale for the war. And I think now they're trying to catch up with themselves. Because having leaked those war plans out there without a convincing case to Congress, the U.N. and the American people, let alone the world at large, other people came in and defined the war aim for them. "Oh, it's about oil.
It's about American bullying. It's about a whole host of other things."

So what I'm encouraged by is that it seems to be now the administration, the president's going to go to New York to the U.N. and to the Congress, and he is going to make the case to Congress, make the case to the U.N. And I hope that will accomplish three things that we really need, Bob.

One is, the American people, if we are going to do this, and there is a moral and strategic argument for doing it, we better be united because this is all about rebreaking and rebuilding another country half a world away. If we are going to do this, the world has to see we've gone that extra mile to avoid a war, an extra mile and then some to avoid a war. And if we're going to do this, we better have a plan that we all are confident can work.

SCHIEFFER: And we better all understand in the beginning, this is going to take a while. This is not something you are going to do in 24 hours.

It seems to me, David, one of the things, if there were lessons from Vietnam and I think there probably were, one of the lessons there was the government can't simply say, "You got to trust us on this. We know things you don't know."

HALBERSTAM: No, and I'm not sure the government does, because in Vietnam they didn't and they said they did. I mean, Tom and I before we were coming on -- and Tom's column has just been, you know, brilliant. It's hard for those ordinary mortals to deal with someone who has won the Pulitzer three times. But it's like getting "The New York Times," which is a great paper and in addition getting a separate paper.

But I was thinking -- we were talking before and I said that I remembered -- I did in "The Best and the Brightest" when George Ball did one of his dove papers, he did a quote from Emerson at the head of it. "Events are in the saddle and ride mankind." This is a historic junction, if you're thinking of going to war with another country in the Middle East, in the terms of the consequences to other countries, consequences to Pakistan, consequences to alliances.

It is really something that ought to be a last option, only when everything else fails. Does it pull you away from the primacy of going after the Al Qaida, the terrorists? Does it fragment badly your coalition? Does it create a generation of otherwise semi-moderate young people in the world of Islam who therefore are going to be committed to making the lives of your own children and grandchildren that much harder? Are we going to do, in effect, maybe what bin Laden wants us to do if we do this?

This is a terrible junction, and we ought to be -- we should not move to it precipitously.

SCHIEFFER: Something to be taken very, very seriously.

Gentleman, thank you so much. We could talk for another hour, as far as I'm concerned, but we have to leave it there.

Finally, I would say today, when the country came together after 9/11, I said that many younger Americans were seeing something they had never seen before, and that was a united America.

During the horror of those days, I said it was important for us to recognize that grief is a part of healing, but that, as a country, we must never surrender to despair, nor was there a need to, because American resolve was still the most powerful force on earth.

It does not diminish the tragedy of what happened on 9/11 to remember that a united America was able to vanquish a far greater evil once before during War World II. Rather, that memory should only increase our resolve for what may be ahead.

There can be no accommodation or appeasement of terrorists who deliberately take the lives of innocent people. They must be eliminated or set apart from the rest of us. The only argument can be over how to do it. But it is doable. And together, we can find a way, as we have found a way before.

I believe that more strongly today than I did 12 months ago because of what I have seen since then. Others may have been willing to kill themselves and the innocent to publicize their cause, but we saw something far different: the noble courage of thousands of our people, Americans from every strata of our society, who were willing to risk and sometimes give their lives to save the innocent.

This has been a terrible time, but a time when all of us have again realized how much we need and depend on each other, and like most of you, I am sure, a time when I have never been prouder to be an American.

That's it for us. We will we see you next week.