Secrets of 9/11: New details of chaos, nukes emerge

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When chief of staff Andrew Card knelt down and told George Bush "America is under attack" 15 years ago Sunday, the words he whispered in the president's ear in a Florida classroom launched what was supposed to be a planned, orderly response to a national emergency.

But what followed instead was chaos, a breakdown in communication and protocol that risked international conflict and could have made Sept. 11, 2001, a still bigger tragedy. There were live nukes on the tarmac at U.S. airbases, a failed communications system, and a security protocol for the president and his potential successors — the "continuity of government" plan — that only one top official followed.

Based on a review of newly unclassified documents, memoirs and other published accounts, and interviews with U.S. officials, NBC News has learned that:

  • Three dozen live nuclear weapons were aboard U.S. Air Force bombers at three airbases when al Qaeda struck New York and Washington.
  • Because of inadequate communications equipment and procedures, top U.S. officials couldn't talk to each other or to anyone else. Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to speak to Bush to know why the U.S. was preparing to go to DEFCON 3 — but the White House couldn't put him through to Air Force One. Bush had no way to receive phone calls.
  • After Bush left Florida, where he had been reading a book to schoolkids, his plane was low on fuel but for hours had nowhere to land.
  • Most of the top 10 people in the president's line of succession, including Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, either refused to follow the protocol and go to their designated secure sites, or were out of the country, or were never contacted.
  • Now-disgraced Speaker of the House Denny Hastert, third in line, observed protocol and was taken to an underground bunker in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But that left him out of touch with all other top government leaders.
  • Attorney General John Ashcroft was in a government plane and tried to return to Washington, but was turned away by the FAA.
  • Education Secretary Rod Paige, 16th in line to the White House, was left on the tarmac in Sarasota, Florida. He rented a car and drove back to Washington.

RELATED: See images as 9/11 unfolded

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New images emerge as 9/11 unfolded
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New images emerge as 9/11 unfolded

Vice President Cheney watches coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on television.

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

President Bush with Vice President Cheney and senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney talks with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Mary Matalin.

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney with senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney with senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney and Lynne Cheney aboard Marine Two.

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

President Bush with Vice President Cheney and senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney with senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Secretary of State Colin Powell in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney with Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney and senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Laura Bush in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney and Lynne Cheney depart the White House on Marine Two.

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney with Condoleezza Rice, Lynne Cheney and senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

CIA Director George Tenet listens to President Bush's address in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

President Bush with Vice President Cheney and senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney with senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

President Bush with Vice President Cheney and senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Secretary of State Colin Powell in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney with senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney with senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney and Lynne Cheney in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

Vice President Cheney with senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Photo courtesy: The U.S. National Archives

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Because of the confused response on 9/11, the U.S. made several changes to its continuity of government protocol and its security preparations in the event of another attack on the capital.

  • There is a new hardened bunker for top White House officials in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.
  • A number of mobile missile batteries are deployed around the Washington area. Their locations are not disclosed and they are moved regularly.
  • A new, secure communications system has been built in Wyoming that can keep top officials connected 24/7 should an emergency arise.

But past experience suggests that the "continuity of government" protocol may still be difficult to execute in the event of another crisis. After all, the plan had to be revised after glitches in the response to the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981 and again after a 1983 war game that the Russians mistook for the real thing, only to be swamped by the confusion of Sept. 11.

War Games Turn Real World

Perhaps the biggest newly uncovered secret is that on the morning of 9/11, when Al Qaeda struck New York and Washington, the Pentagon's annual "Global Guardian" war game was in full swing. Three dozen real nuclear weapons had been loaded onboard intercontinental bombers in North Dakota, Missouri, and Louisiana.

When Bush left Florida on Air Force One amid fears that terrorists would try take down the presidential plane, he flew right into the middle of the war game.

Air Force One had climbed out of Sarasota airport 51 minutes after American Airlines Flight 11 plowed into the North tower of the World Trade Center and 12 minutes after the Pentagon was struck. The fourth and final hijacked passenger plane, United Flight 93, was still aloft over Pennsylvania.

According to a new Pentagon history of 9/11, the pilot of Air Force One "flew the plane as high and fast as possible for better security." The president's aircraft can — and did — fly as high as 48,000 feet that day.

Because of intelligence of a specific terrorist threat to "Angel," the codename for the President's plane, Bush was sent essentially into orbit. His plane was low on fuel, and had no firm destination. The Bush national security team finally selected Barksdale Air Force Base outside Bossier City, Louisiana, as a place to put down temporarily because it had a secure area for refueling.

Adm. Richard Mies, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which was overseeing the war game, had pulled the plug on the exercise as soon as he heard the news of the attacks in Washington and New York,according to an interview published this week in the Omaha World-Herald.

The game had turned "real world," as the military likes to say, with war planners considering the various scenarios — the scariest of which was a terrorist plane attacking one of the airbases hosting nuclear warheads. Barksdale, where Bush was headed, was one of the primary B-52 bomber bases in the world.

"You would destroy half of Bossier City with the explosions," Al Buckles, Strategic Command's watch officer that day, revealed to the Omaha World Herald last week. "Nuclear weapons were exposed."

When STRATCOM got word that President Bush wanted to land at Barksdale, munitions specialists scrambled to finish unloading the bombers.

Meanwhile, the Russians were calling. They had detected preparations for a readiness increase of U.S. military forces — DEFCON 3 — scheduled for implementation at 10:53 EST.

Gen. Ralph "Ed" Eberhart, the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs that day, told the 9/11 Commission in now-declassified Top Secret testimony that moving to DEFCON 3 was hotly debated. It was not intended for 9/11 type scenarios, but rather nuclear war. It "could have complicated the response to the attacks," Eberhart noted.

Rather than stand-down nuclear forces, as STRATCOM was doing at Barksdale, DEFCON response rules directed increased readiness. And if the alert level moved to DEFCON 2, the next highest level, nuclear weapons would again have to be reloaded on the B-52's.

With U.S. forces worldwide going on alert, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Alexander Vershbow, called the White House Situation Room: Russian President Vladimir Putin "wanted to speak with Bush."

Coincidently, the Russians were in the middle of their own nuclear war exercise and their intelligence had now detected telltale signs of enhanced American force posture.

For 30 minutes, White House communicators tried to establish a secure line between Air Force One and the Kremlin, finally giving up. Russian-speaking National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice then got on the phone with the Russian president to agree on a cooperative stand-down.

Rice was in the underground bunker beneath the East Wing of the White House with Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who was directing the FAA's decision to clear American skies of all aircraft.

Still in limbo, Air Force One was circling over Northern Florida.

And inside the plane, Bush was furious, virtually unable to communicate with the outside world at a time of crisis.

RELATED: 14 most iconic images of 9/11

16 PHOTOS
9/11/2001: 14 most iconic images of 9/11
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9/11/2001: 14 most iconic images of 9/11
The south tower of the World Trade Center, left, begins to collapse after a terrorist attack on the landmark buildings in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Gulnara Samoilova)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: (FILE PHOTO) A fiery blasts rocks the south tower of the World Trade Center as the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the building September 11, 2001 in New York City. Almost two years after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, the New York Port Authority is releasing transcripts on August 28, 2003 of emergency calls made from inside the twin towers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Plumes of smoke pour from the World Trade Center buildings in New York Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. Planes crashed into the upper floors of both World Trade Center towers minutes apart Tuesday in a horrific scene of explosions and fires that lead to the collapse of the 110-story buildings. The Empire State building is seen in the foreground. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

Sarasota, UNITED STATES: TO GO WITH AFP STORY 'Americans mark 9/11 anniversary with new questions on vulnerability' - (FILES) US President George W. Bush has his early morning school reading event interupted by his Chief of Staff Andrew Card (L) shortly after news of the New York City airplane crashes was available in Sarasota, Florida 11 September 2001. AFP Photo Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

A person falls from the north tower of New York's World Trade Center as another clings to the outside, left center, while smoke and fire billow from the building, Tuesday Sept. 11, 2001. Terrorists crashed two hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and brought down the twin 110-story towers Tuesday morning. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Americans mark 9/11 anniversary with new questions on vulnerability' - This 11 September 2001 file photo shows Marcy Borders covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York. Borders was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area. The woman was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Messages scrawled in debris dust on the ladder truck door of Ladder Company 24 join a growing memorial on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001 in New York City to the firefighers from the company who lost their lives in the suspected terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Ladder Company 24 lost 7 firemen in the attack, including Fire Chaplain Father Mychal Judge. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
New York, UNITED STATES: TO GO WITH AFP STORY 'Americans mark 9/11 anniversary with new questions on vulnerability' - (FILES) The rubble of the World Trade Center smoulders following a terrorist attack 11 September 2001 in New York. Americans mark the fourth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks Sunday nagged by new burning questions about their readiness to confront a major disaster after the debacle of Hurricane Katrina. AFP PHOTO/Alex Fuchs (Photo credit should read ALEX FUCHS/AFP/Getty Images)
** FILE ** In this Sept. 14, 2001 file photo, as rescue efforts continue in the rubble of the World Trade Center, President George W. Bush puts his arms around firefighter Bob Beckwith while standing in front of the World Trade Center in New York. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File) 
Emergency workers at ground zero on Sept. 11, 2001 after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
394471 13: Firefighter Tony James cries while attending the funeral service for New York Fire Department Chaplain Rev. Mychal Judge, in front of the St. Francis of Assisi Church September 15, 2001 in New York City. Judge died while giving the last rites to a fireman in the collapse of the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center was destroyed after both the landmark towers were struck by two hijacked planes in an alleged terrorist attack on September 11. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 8: The 'Tribute in Light' memorial as seen from Bayonne, New Jersey, consists of two shafts of light to represent the World Trade Center Twin Towers, is tested before the fifth anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks September 8, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Sylwia Kapuscinski/Getty Images)
The New York newspapers Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001, show coverage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

NEW YORK- SEPTEMBER 3: A wax replica of Thomas Franklin's photograph from September 11, is seen at Madame Tussaud's wax museum September 3, 2002 in New York City. The replica is to be part of an exhibit at the museum called 'Hope: Humanity and Heroism.' (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Those on board were told to switch their cell phones off so the plane could not be tracked. Bush could talk to Dick Cheney, but the official communicators hadn't been able to put a call through to his wife Laura for more than three hours. "I couldn't believe that the president of the United States couldn't reach his wife in the Capitol Building," Bush later wrote in Decision Points.

To add fuel to Bush's fire, the Secret Service and his national security team also discouraged him from returning to Washington, worrying that the capital was still a target.

"We had the president who didn't want to follow our plans for a nuclear attack, which is hide him, keep him safe and allow continuity of government," says Air Force One pilot Mark Tillman, a now retired Air Force Colonel who wrote his own book about that day.

After 40 minutes of circling over Florida, the decision was finally made to land at Barksdale, where the plane could refuel, and the President could record a short statement from the Commander-in-Chief.

Air Force One touched down at 11:40 AM, while the nuclear weapons were still being unloaded just a few hundred feet away, according to a STRATCOM deputy, who spoke to NBC News after Mies revealed the still secret nuclear weapons connection in the Omaha World-Herald.

Left behind in Sarasota, though, was Secretary of Education Rod Paige. He'd gone to Emma Booker Elementary School with the President that morning, but was left at the school when Air Force One took off. Paige, 16th in line to succeed the president, made his own way back to Washington in a rental car.

RELATED: See damage to the Pentagon on 9/11

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9/11 damage to the Pentagon
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9/11 damage to the Pentagon
U.S. Navy handout photo dated September 12, 2001 shows a section of the Pentagon in ruins following the September 11, 2001 attack on the building in Arlington, Virginia. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Michael W. Pendergrass/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY DISASTER POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
A rescue helicopter surveys damage to the Pentagon as firefighters battle flames after an airplane crashed into the U.S. military Headquarters outside of Washington in this September 11, 2001 file photo. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan and his body was recovered, President Barack Obama announced on May 1, 2011. "Justice has been done," Obama said in a dramatic, late-night White House speech announcing the death of the elusive mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the New York and Washington. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)
A U.S. Army helicopter hovers before landing in front of the damaged area of the Pentagon Building September 17, 2001. Both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York City were attacked September 11 when hijacked commercial jetliners crashed into the buildings. REUTERS/Larry Downing LSD/ME
Heavy machinery works on the damaged portion of the Pentagon in Washington September 18, 2001. Pentagon officials said they have recovered 97 bodies as of yesterday and identified 11. REUTERS/William Philpott WP
Heavy machinery works on the damaged portion of the Pentagon in Washington September 19, 2001. The southwest side of the building was heavily damaged September 11 when hijacked American AIrlines 77 crashed into it. REUTERS/William Philpott WP
A policeman stands guard October 5, 2001 on the perimeter of the impact zone where a commerical struck the Pentagon on September 11. Pentagon officials showed reporters the damage to the Pentagon and reconstruction efforts which are under way today. REUTERS/Win McNamee WM
U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visit the Pentagon to view the damage the day after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
The moon rises as rescue workers continue to fight fires and inspect the damage at the Pentagon in Washington, DC 12 September 2001 after a hijacked commercial jet crashed into the building, 11 September 2001. US President George W. Bush said thousands are feared dead in the attack and earlier crashes which collapsed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. AFP PHOTO/Shawn THEW (Photo credit should read SHAWN THEW/AFP/Getty Images)
DATE:09/12/2001 SLUG:ME/PENTAGON CREDIT:TRACY A WOODWARD/TWP Day two photos of plane attack at Pentagon, Arlington, VA. Early morning view of damage to Pentagon. Original Filename: MEPENTA2.jpg (Photo by Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
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Cheney and Rumsfeld Say No

Bush ultimately flew back to Washington, after stopping at NORAD headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. By then it was clear he wasn't the only member of the line of succession who wasn't following the continuity of government plan.

Had Air Force One been attacked, and had the White House been hit by United Airlines Flight 93 as the terrorists intended, the list of who would be in charge turns into a tangled mess.

The first in line to succession, Cheney, stayed at the White House. Cheney wrote in his autobiography, "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir," that when his aide told him that he had to evacuate to his designated bunker outside Washington, he looked at him like he was insane and said he wasn't going anywhere.

If Cheney had been killed, presidential succession would have passed to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who was third in line. Unlike other top officials, he followed protocol on 9/11. He was whisked away to Mount Weather, an underground bunker in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia. There, he spent the day out of touch with the national leadership.

The fourth in line, 83-year old Sen.Robert Byrd of West Virginia, also refused to go anywhere and was taken to his Capitol Hill home.

The fifth in line to be president, Secretary of State Colin Powell, was in Peru.

The sixth, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, was in Japan.

The seventh, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was in a smoldering Pentagon, and also refused to evacuate. He instead sent his deputy Paul Wolfowitz to "Site R," the underground bunker at Raven Rock on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.

Eighth in line, Attorney General John Ashcroft, was in a government plane. When he ordered it turned around to return to the capital, the FAA wouldn't let him enter Washington airspace.

The ninth in line, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, was never contacted, according to White House records.

Commerce Secretary Don Evans, 10th in line, waited in his downtown office for someone to contact him to tell him what to do; and when no one did, he had an aide drive him home to McLean, where he sat and watched television.

Layer upon layer of systems and contingency plans, some 50 years old, had been created and tweaked more than once. But on that day, not one of the principals knew the plans in any detail and four of the five top successors to the presidency declined to follow the continuity of government protocols.

The system that has been set up is so secret, even the 9/11 Commission was unable to penetrate what really happened that day. It was stonewalled by guardians of the "special program" and thwarted by a nervous White House that was uniquely privy to all of what went wrong: the communications that failed, the successors who were lost, the rules that was ignored or wrongly executed, the little problem of nuclear weapons ... and Putin.

Beyond problems with the succession, the events of 9/11 also exposed another weakness in the system. A senior official who had been the Pentagon's continuity manager noted that if one of the hijacked planes had flown to the Capitol building, where Congress was in session, it could have led to constitutional crisis.

Under law, if a majority of congressmen and women were killed, the House of Representatives would not be able to deliberate because it would have lacked a quorum. And unlike the Senate, members of the House can only be released through a special election. The House, moreover, is charged with selecting a president if there is no available constitutional successor.

Who would have been in charge and what would have happened remains a nightmare that still drives close to a billion dollars a year in preparation just in case.

And as for the man who could have been king — Hastert — he entered the Federal Medical Center prison in Rochester, Minnesota, in June 2016.

RELATED: Portraits of 9/11 rescue dogs

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9/11/2001: Rescue Dogs
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9/11/2001: Rescue Dogs
BRETAGNE, age 13, Cypress TX. Denise Corliss and Bretagne were at the World Trade Center from September 17 to the 27th with TX-TF-1.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
BRETAGNE, age 13, Cypress TX. Denise Corliss and Bretagne were at the World Trade Center from September 17 to the 27th with TX-TF-1.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
TUFF, age 12, Ashland MO. Tuff and Tom Andert arrived in New Jersey with the MO-TF-1 at 11:00 pm on the 11th to start working early the next day the World Trade Center.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
MERLYN, age 14, Otis CO. Merlyn, owned by Ann Wichmann, was deployed with handler Matt Claussen and worked the night shift while Ann and search dog Jenner worked during the day as part of CO-TF-1. They searched the rubble of the World Trade Center for five days starting on September 24.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
SCOUT, age 14, McCordsville IN. IN-TF-1 was activated on the morning of the 11th. Together with Blake Wallis, Scout was deployed to the World Trade Center the same afternoon. Their last shift was on Wednesday the 19th.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
ORION, age 13, Vacaville CA. Orion and Robert Macaulay were part of the third wave of deployments and worked with the CA-TF-4 at the World Trade Center from September 23 to October 1.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Blake Wallis / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
ABIGAIL, age 13, Ojai CA. Abigail and Debra Tosch were deployed together with Duke and Howard Orr, arriving on the evening of September 17 at the World Trade Center and then searching for 10 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Blake Wallis / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
MOXIE, age 13, Winthrop MA. Moxie and her handler, Mark Aliberti, arrived at the World Trade Center with MA-TF-1 on the evening of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, and searched the site for 8 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
RED, age 11, Annapolis MD. Red and Heather Roche were deployed to the Pentagon from September 16 until the 27th. They were part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines and later joined the MD-TF-1.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
HOKE, age 13, Denver CO. Julie Noyes and Hoke were also part of CO-TF-1. With Julie by his side, Hoke was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 24 and searched for 5 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
GUINNESS, age 15, Highland CA. Sheila McKee and Guinness flew the evening of the 12th with CA-TF-6 and started working on the morning of the 13th. They were deployed to the World Trade Center for 11 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
TARA, age 16, Ipswich MA. Tara and Lee Prentiss arrived at the World Trade Center with MA-TF-1 on the night of the 11th. They were there for 8 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
ABIGAIL, age 13, Ojai CA. Abigail and Debra Tosch were deployed together with Duke and Howard Orr, arriving on the evening of September 17 at the World Trade Center and then searching for 10 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
Collect picture of Scout and unknown dog working at 9/11 site.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Blake Wallis / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
BAILEY, age 14, Franklin TN. Bailey and Keith Lindley were deployed to the Pentagon with TN-TF-1. They arrived the morning of the 12th and searched for 9 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
MERLYN, age 14, Otis CO. Merlyn, owned by Ann Wichmann, was deployed with handler Matt Claussen and worked the night shift while Ann and search dog Jenner worked during the day as part of CO-TF-1. They searched the rubble of the World Trade Center for five days starting on September 24.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
KAISER, age 12, pictured at home was deployed to the World Trade Center September 11, 2001.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
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