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Hannity

Rudy Giuliani Reflects on 9/11 Five Years Later

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Welcome to a special edition of "Hannity & Colmes." We are coming to you live tonight on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It was a day of great tragedy, great courage and, of course, great sacrifice. It was the day America changed.

We begin tonight with the man who came to symbolize the courage displayed by so many Americans that day, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Mr. Mayor, welcome back to the program. Good to see you.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: Thank you, Sean. Nice to be here.

HANNITY: Hard to believe it's five years, isn't it?

GIULIANI: Very hard to believe it's five years. Sometimes it feels like yesterday when you go through the memories of it and you think about it. Sometimes it feels like a long time ago, but I think about it every day.

HANNITY: Why don't you walk us through that day from your perspective? The tower gets hit first. What are you thinking? And where were you?

GIULIANI: Strangest thing is it was a beautiful day. And I was having breakfast at the Peninsula Hotel with two friends of mine, Denny Young and Bill Simon. And when breakfast ended, one of the police officers walked up to Denny and whispered in his ear. I could see a little bit of a concerned expression on Denny's face and he came over to me and said there is a fire at the World Trade Center, a twin engine plane hit the North Tower, and it sounds like it's pretty bad, so we better get down there.

So I said goodbye to Bill and he said, "God bless you," which I don't think he realized the significance of it at the time he said it. And we got into the van, and as we headed down there, each succeeding minute you started to realize it was worse and worse and worse.

And then the second plane hit and we were notified of that, and we were about a mile away. But it wasn't until we actually got there, and I got there — the North Tower — going up to the fire department command post that I realized how bad it was. I mean, when I realized it was — and I knew at that point it was a terrorist attack.

I knew intellectually it was real bad, but emotionally I didn't really understand it until I got there, and I was watching debris come down. And then I saw this man jump, and seeing that, watching a human being like jumping 100 floors out of a fire, all of a sudden created a totally different feeling that this is beyond anything we've ever experienced before.

And you'd end up having these doubts. Can you get through it? And then every time you'd think that you'd just say a little prayer or just say to yourself, you know, free people can handle things like this. You just have to believe it.

HANNITY: Then you had to leave, and that's when the tower — you sort of got caught in all of that, too.

GIULIANI: What happened was the police department set up a temporary command post inside an office building that was a Merrill Lynch office building on the street floor. They basically commandeered it, took it over and put in some extra telephones and used the telephones there.

I was in that building, about two and a half blocks away, when the first of the two towers that came down came down.

HANNITY: You heard it obviously?

GIULIANI: It was like an earthquake. I was on the phone waiting to talk to Vice President Cheney. I was on the phone with the White House. I had called the White House.

I had gotten Chris Henick on the phone. I had asked air support for the city. He had informed me about the Pentagon being attacked, which I had only heard as a rumor at that point. And he told me something about they were evacuating the White House.

So at that point, I thought there were going to be a lot more attacks. I thought we were in for who knows how many more attacks. And I think we'd also been informed by Washington that there was seven or 10 planes unaccounted for. So the police commissioner and the deputy police commissioner, the chief — we were sort of talking about how do we deploy police? Where do we send them? What might be next?

And then I was waiting for the vice president, and the White House called me back, and as I'm waiting for the vice president, I hear the phone, I hear like a click, like the phone goes off. And I see the desk in front of me shaking. And then I hear Chief Esposito of the police department yell out the tower came down.

I look outside of the little anteroom, the little cubicle I was in, and I see people going under the desk. And I actually at first didn't know what was going on. Of course, when he said the tower came down, I thought he meant the radio tower on top of the World Trade Center. I didn't think he meant the whole building came down.

But then you could hear a tremendous noise. You could see the desk shaking, I guess like an earthquake. When you looked outside, you could see this big cloud going through the streets. It looked like the depictions you see of a nuclear bomb, you know, this gray cloud, even with debris in it.

And then we were in that — we were trapped in that building for a period of time. And then we got out. When we got out into the lobby of this other building, I had to make a quick decision. The decision was do we remain in the building or do we go outside?

And we had some of the press with us at the time, and we wanted to make a communication to the rest of the city. I wanted to give them the information I had been given, which was to go north. And I thought to myself if we stay in the building and this building comes down — because I had no idea what was going to happen in connection with — if this building comes down, everybody will be killed. The mayor, the police commissioner, the head of the health department, three deputy mayors. Basically the core of city government would be gone.

If we go outside, some people will get injured, because some people were coming in bloody and pretty well hurt from what had happened. If we go outside, it's unlikely that everybody will be killed. We may have some casualties, but at least more people will make it. So that's why we decided to go outside and to go to another command post a little further north. And it was during that period that the second building came down.

But I have to say that the people were inspiring, the way they acted. Because I was — the first thing I did was to communicate go north. I said remain calm, go north.

When I said remain calm I looked out the side of my eye because I was talking to a reporter. And I could see people were remaining calm. There were hundreds of people fleeing, and some of them were running but not like in panic and then they would all stop and help people. We stopped and helped a guy, put him in a car and, I mean, we did that, but that was only, we were only like an example of what, basically, everybody was doing.

HANNITY: It's amazing in times like this it's the worst of people, it's evil before your eyes. And then on the other side it brings the best out of people.

GIULIANI: They all saved a lot of time by not panicking. You know, sometimes in a horrible attack like that or emergency like that, the evacuation can do more damage than the attack. People panic. They crush each other. They get in each other's way. And this was totally the opposite of that. They all helped each other. I mean, it was really — maybe it was the first moment of many that day that gave me inspiration.

I mean, the day is a total contradiction of the worst experiences of my life and the best experiences of my life. The most horrible evil, losing wonderful people, reports of people dead and gone. And then these wonderful things you would see of people's heroism and bravery and ability to fight back. The construction workers coming there and volunteering.

HANNITY: And here we are five years later. Pretty united then, pretty divided now on the issue of the War on Terror. Does it surprise you? What does it mean to you? Daryl Worley wrote a song, "Have You Forgotten?" Do you think it's easy to forget the magnitude of what happened this day and the danger in the future? Do you think some people forget that? Is that part of the divide?

GIULIANI: I do. I do think that some people, that maybe it's natural. You know, it's a very painful event. Maybe as a nation the most painful event we have had maybe since Kennedy's assassination, John Kennedy's assassination, Pearl Harbor. Those would be the events it would be like.

And people want to either forget about it or they want to deal with it euphemistically. The reality is we don't have the luxury to do that. I mean, it's still going on.

When I think of the attacks of September 11, I think of them as ongoing attacks. I mean, it's not like — Pearl Harbor is part of our history. It's now consigned to history, and a lot of things can be learned from it but it's history. It's not presently affecting us.

September 11 is presently affecting us. The same group of people, loosely defined as Islamic fanatics, still want to come here and kill us. They want to do it again. They just demonstrated that. We just saw a demonstration of that in London. I mean, maybe they wanted to do worse. We're still in this. It's still not over. And I think people want to make it over. You know, they would — it's just easier to deal with life if you pretend this is over, but it's not.

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