Donahue for Aug. 13
Donahue [TV show]
August 13, 2002
Read the complete transcript to Tuesdays show
Guests: Michael Moore, Jean Charles Brisard, Kristen Breitweiser
PHIL DONAHUE, HOST: Well, he's here. You look up style in the dictionary, there's a picture of this man, Michael Moore. Look at this. Ralph Lauren himself.
Well, Michael, only 20 - how many weeks on the best-twenty-three weeks on "New York Times" bestseller. "Stupid White Men"? Holy cow, you and Ann Coulter up there. I don't know how this happened. But a liberal is actually making a dollar and a half on his book. Congratulations. Not an easy achievement there.
MICHAEL MOORE, ANTI CORPORATE GADFLY: Thank you, Phil.
DONAHUE: And I should tell them where you are. You are in Flint, Michigan. And behind you was the Buick plant?
MOORE: That's right. This was, behind me here, the largest, longest assembly line in the world at one time. It's called the Buick City facility. Every Buick in the world back in the '50s and '60s was made here. And they shut it down a couple of years ago. And right now they're in the process of tearing it down.
And what you're looking at on the tape here-and this is the former world headquarters of Buick here in Flint. This came down just a couple of hours ago. There are signs all over the place here that say "demolition is progress." But nothing is planned to replace this facility. Twenty thousand people work here, Phil.
DONAHUE: And it's closed down and it's been razed, why, Michael?
Give us your read here. What happened to those jobs?
MOORE: Those jobs went elsewhere to places where General Motors and companies like them can exploit people with lower wages, no unions, no benefits. It wasn't because the car sales went south. The car sales have been at an all-time high. Last October, the month after 9/11, was the largest month for car sales in the history of the automobile.
And I believe last month was right up in the top five, in the history of the automobile for car sales. The cars are selling. The corporations here, especially General Motors, are making profits in the billions.
They're not tearing down this plant because people stopped buying Buicks. They're tearing it down because they found a much cheaper way to make the car, without thinking about who's going to be left to buy the cars because they no longer have jobs in places like Flint.
DONAHUE: I was not invited to Waco to the president's economic forum.
Of course, you know, the mail these days.
MOORE: You don't check your e-mail enough, Phil. That's the problem.
You have to be on-line more.
DONAHUE: Neither were you, Michael. Now, so, what do you think now? We've got Charles Schwab. We've got lots of heavyweights down there with my president in Waco-good idea?
MOORE: I've been kind of conducting my own little economic forum here in Flint today. And actually, it was very similar to Bush's in one respect. No Democrats were invited. No members of Congress.
But I actually went up to the man from the Oval Office. I didn't invite any Republicans either. I was just walking around Flint here today talking to some people. And, boy, I'll tell you, what we saw today down in Waco was not reality. This was just some kind of weird, bizarre show.
If they had TV cameras back in the days of the Roman empire, these would be the people, like, having a conference on why Rome was burning. Except these are the people that set the fire. And they're all down there at Waco discussing it.
Just-you know, I'm laughing only because I'm angry about it, actually. I think it's just-the ruse and the audacity of this, at such a time when people are struggling thoroughly to survive in this country, that they're down there. The fox is guarding the henhouse. And they're down there telling us, oh, the hens are fine. Don't worry about the eggs. Lots of productivity going on, you know.
I mean, look, the good thing, Phil, is that you and I live in a country where people are actually pretty smart. And you can't fool them.
And what went on down there today, nobody's fooled by it. Nobody is fooled by it.
DONAHUE: You think that the stock market literally played-rolled the dice with working people's money, especially throughout the '90s. And you make the point that 401Ks really took the biggest hit here.
MOORE: Well, you did a great job when you had the people down there in Houston showing what happened there, with people that were suckered into this. I mean, I've never bought a share of stock. And most of my friends have bought stock and people I know.
And I always thought that I was kind of crazy not getting into this. But I couldn't understand if you spend money on something, aren't you supposed to get something back for it? I mean, it always looked like Las Vegas to me.
And what I feel bad about are people like here in the Flint, Michigans of this country. They invested their money in the rich man's game. It's not their game. You know, it's rigged. It's rigged to support the rich guy.
The thing that's going on with Martha Stewart, that goes on all the time. Because these people, they lunch together, they golf together. They hang out together. They share information. They know what's going on. They know where to put their money.
The average person though is suckered into this thinking, yes, I'm going to be part of the system, too. I'm going to be part of the American dream.
And I don't know how many shows, Phil, I've been on in the last decade where I've had to listen to commentators tell me, Mike, you don't get it. You know, more than half the country owns stock. Corporate America isn't just a couple of rich guys. It's owned by everybody.
Yeah, well, who's getting screwed right now? You know? The everybody, who they mean. The average working person. Not the rich guy. They're not suffering a recession. They're doing just fine.
They've got billions and billions of dollars in the bank. And they're not going to share, you know, a slice of that pie anytime soon.
DONAHUE: Yes. I don't want to run out of time. We want to bring you back for the second segment because there's lots of things.
Michael, if you hadn't supported Ralph Nader, we might have had a president in there a little closer to the people and without these Republican values that seem to suggest that all business is good, more business is better, bigger business is best.
MOORE: That was you, Phil. It was not me.
DONAHUE: My fault.
MOORE: It's all your fault.
DONAHUE: Now, what do you say? Come on, I want you to tell me what you say when they sneak up from behind and hit you with that?
MOORE: All I hear from everybody is, man, you guys were right. You know? I mean, you called it a long time ago. You said we were getting screwed, we were going to get screwed more. And it's exactly what happened.
You know, what I tell people is first of all-and I guess it just sounds like I'm beating a dead horse now, but let me just beat it one more time. Al Gore won the election. He got the most votes. He won Florida as far as most of these investigations are concerned. This election was a ripoff, most people know it.
Bush is not going to have a second term. And he's going to get his comeuppance this November. They're going to lose the House. I firmly believe that.
And it's not because the country shifted towards the Democrats. I just think that they've had it. And it's going to be the only way they're going to be able to respond, to say they don't like what's going on.
Can I just point something out, Phil?
MOORE: Just an example of what happened today. Here's a quote from Bush down at the economic conference there. He said, "The government accounting system is pretty kind of hard to explain. I've been there 18 months trying to figure it out." And then everybody laughed.
You know, that's the kind of clown we've got in the White House right now. And people see this. And they watch all of his Republican rich buddies there. All these people, like Schwab, you mentioned, who contributed $900,000 to his campaign and to the Republicans.
They're all sitting there laughing at this, while they're out here wondering, is my pension going to be there? How am I going to pay the doctors bills? Why do my kids have to work at McDonald's so we have a three-income household to pay the bills? You know, and they're sitting down there in Waco laughing at this?
I'm telling you, there's going to be hell to pay come November. And the people who are going to lose these seats are the Republicans, as a result of Bush and their policies, and this charade down in Waco today.
DONAHUE: Brother Moore, who is an author, is also, as you know, a documentarian. I'm told he got a 10-minute standing ovation at Cannes- you know, where all the beautiful people hang out with that movie meeting they have every year? I mean, the guy got this special prize. A huge recognition. And the first time ever, it was awarded to a documentary.
We'll talk about that documentary. It's about Columbine, America, guns, our culture, and a bank that gives you a gun if you open an account! I wouldn't lie to you. We'll be back in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NADER CAMPAIGN RALLY, BOSTON, MA-OCTOBER 2000)
DONAHUE: He's a voice of the working man. He's Flint, Michigan's own. He's the son my mother wanted to have. His name is Michael Moore, right here!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONAHUE: Well, there we are on the campaign trail with Ralph Nader. Lots of respect for you out there, Michael. No kidding. You got the big bump from those crowds at the Garden, FleetCenter. I tell you what, you're a hit. And now Cannes-or do you say Cannes?
MOORE: I never figured that out. The French say it's somewhere in between, so I just don't ever say the word.
DONAHUE: Right. Did you wear a black tie for this?
MOORE: Yes. I came and I didn't have one on, and they wouldn't let me through. So I tried to buy one off a sound guy who was there from a TV crew. It was ugly, Phil.
DONAHUE: All right, here we go. The film that won you the award. Special prize, 55th annual Cannes festival France. All the gorgeous people there. Standing O he gets for this. This is titled "Bowling for Columbine."
The shooters at Columbine high school bowled the morning of the massacre. And this is just a scene from America, the gun culture, guns are good, everybody should have a gun. Here you are going to the bank that gives a-here it is. Watch this. He goes into a bank, wants a gun.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE")
MOORE: I'm here to open an account.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, what type of account would you like?
MOORE: I want the account where I can get the free gun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do a C.D. and we'll give you a gun. We have a whole brochure here you can look at. Once we do the background check and everything, it's yours to go.
MOORE: OK. All right. That's the account I'd like to open.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a vault which at all times we keep at least 500 firearms.
MOORE: Five-hundred of these you have in your vault.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In our vault.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to do a background check.
MOORE: At the bank here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the bank. Which we are a licensed firearm dealer.
MOORE: Oh, you are. You're a bank and a licensed firearm dealer.
What do I put for race? White or Caucasian?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Caucasian.
MOORE: Caucasian. I knew you were going to make me spell that. Cau-ca-sian. Is that right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MOORE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that's the part they're going to be worried about.
MOORE: "Have you been adjudicated, mentally defective, or have you ever been committed to a mental institution?" I've never been committed to a mental institution. What does that mean, have I ever been adjudicated, mentally defective?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It would be something involved with a crime.
MOORE: Oh, with a crime. Oh, OK. So if I'm just normally mentally defective, but not criminal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go, Mike.
MOORE: OK, thank you very much. Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have one personally.
MOORE: That's a nice tension.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is. And it's a straight shooter. It' a straight shooter, let me tell you.
MOORE: Wow. Sweet. Well, here's my first question. Do you think it's a little dangerous hanging out with guns in a bank?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONAHUE: Where is that bank, Michael?
MOORE: That's right here in Michigan, Phil.
DONAHUE: A Michigan bank, huh? Boy, they must be thrilled with you.
Incidentally, somebody blamed shock rocker Marilyn Manson for the Columbine shooting. You make this point and you go to interview him. Marilyn Manson is a him. See? I'm not so old. Show them this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARILYN MANSON, SHOCK ROCKER: The two biproducts of that whole tragedy were violence in entertainment and gun control, and how perfect that that was the two things that we were going to talk about with the upcoming election.
And also, then we forgot about Monica Lewinsky and we forgot about-the president was shooting bombs overseas, yet I'm a bad guy because I have sang some rock and roll songs. And who is a bigger influence, the president or Marilyn Manson? You know, I'd like to think me. But I'm going to go with the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONAHUE: Just one more, Michael, from your documentary. Here you are talking to Marilyn Manson. Go get 'em.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?
MANSON: I wouldn't say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say. And that's what no one did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONAHUE: Michael, I want to talk about this and we will, when we come back in just a moment.
DONAHUE: We're back with Michael Moore, who joins us from Flint, Michigan. If you joined us late, that pile of rubble behind him was once the longest auto assembly line in the world. I speak of the Buick assembly plant in Flint, Michigan. Tiger Woods just won the Buick Open in Michigan, and they don't make Buicks there anymore.
MOORE: And the Buick open was right here in flint. They can play golf here under Buick, but you can't get a job here for Buick.
DONAHUE: Michael, I want to talk more about some of the things you cover in your book. Airport safety. Talk about the Bic lighter.
MOORE: Actually, I'm adding a chapter to my book on my Web site. I'm covering a number of these things. And the first question I'm posing is, why is it that the Bic lighters and the matches are allowed on planes when there's that whole long list of nutty things-from toenail clippers to kniting needles to dry ice or-you know, that you can't bring on the plane. But you can bring on matches or a lighter. And you can't smoke on the plane.
So I was saying this on the book tour down in Washington, D.C. And during the signing a congressional aide comes up to me and he says, well, the Bic lighters and the matches were on the original FAA list to ban. But the tobacco companies lobbied the Bush administration to remove them from the list.
So, the priorities of this administration were quite clear to me at that point, if they weren't already.
DONAHUE: We mentioned-incidentally, what does the pilot-I heard you say this on CSPAN. What does the pilot of a commuter airline make, or start at? Say, like, American Eagle, the high wing guys?
MOORE: American Eagle, the starting pay is slightly under $17,000 a year. Starting pay for a pilot, first year. That's a pilot. They range anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 on all these commuter airlines.
The person flying you up there in the plane is actually sometimes making less than the kid at Taco Bell. You know, but that never gets discussed in terms of our safety. It's a labor issue, you know. Don't want to talk about that.
DONAHUE: You call our attention to these things as you stand before the rubble of your own hometown, once the epicenter of the automobile industry. And now, here we are trying to figure out what will happen next.
I've established that you're on "The New York Times" bestseller list. You've been there for 23 weeks. And you weren't even-we weren't-you weren't even reviewed, is that so?
MOORE: It has not been reviewed in the "Times" or in 95 percent of the papers in this country. Tonight is the very first time I've been on MSNBC in the six months that the book has been on the bestseller list.
DONAHUE: You haven't been.
MOORE: I have not been, no. It's been a virtual blackout, but it hasn't mattered.
DONAHUE: Thank goodness. You came to the right man. I'm going to-believe me, I'm going to make some people shake at this place tomorrow. I thank you, Michael. Next, the money trail...
MOORE: I'm so glad you're back on the air, Phil.
DONAHUE: ... of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Back in a moment.
DONAHUE: Welcome back. In his book, "Forbidden Truth"-"U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for bin Laden" its subtitle-author Jean Charles Brisard makes some disturbing allegations regarding a connection between oil, Saudi Arabia, the Clinton and Bush administrations and al Qaeda.
Well, Mr. Brisard, sir, your book is the talk of Europe. It's a best-seller. Obviously, Europe has grabbed this with both hands. Not so here. We're paying-it's not that you're being ignored, but...
JEAN CHARLES BRISARD, FRENCH INTELLIGENCE INVESTIGATOR: It just arrived.
BRISARD: Just arrived in the U.S.
DONAHUE: It just got here. OK. Well, we'll see what happens. In this book, you make the point that-you seem to say that all the dots connect to Saudi Arabia.
DONAHUE: And those dots include George Bush, Sr.-Bush 1 - as well as al Qaeda and the United States government itself. Make your case for us here, sir.
BRISARD: I don't want to talk about politics tonight, OK? So-but the fact is, on the one hand, you have Saudi Arabia, a known-a well-known country for business with the Western countries, and is doing-this country is doing business with the United States and with others.
BRISARD: And in that part of the business, you have probably corporate interests, and probably you find in some years George Bush, Sr., and probably George Bush, the actual president. And on the other hand, Saudi Arabia is funding fundamentalism-radical fundamentalism-around the world.
BRISARD: ... especially al Qaeda.
BRISARD: That's two different points.
DONAHUE: OK. But you are-you are suggesting that because of oil-rich Saudi Arabia and our connection to them, we were less than enthusiastic in pursuing al Qaeda before 9/11. Do I understand that?
DONAHUE: The reason we didn't want to pursue al Qaeda and go after these people in Afghanistan-now, this is before 9/11, before the worst attack in our history. The reason we didn't want to do that is because it would roil Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's got to be careful. It is certainly a center of-a significant number of fundamental Islamicists live there. And we didn't want to mess up this relationship with oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Do I understand it?
BRISARD: Yes. Yes, because you cannot at the same time do business with that country, say every day it's an ally of the United States, of the Western countries generally, and at the same time point out the role of that country in the financing and the funding and sponsoring...
DONAHUE: Of terrorism.
BRISARD: ... of terrorism.
DONAHUE: But I don't see how you-you know, Saudi Arabia exiled, expelled Usama bin Laden.
BRISARD: Yes, I know. That's the official story about it.
BRISARD: Yes. "The Forbidden Truth," that's the title of our book, the truth we don't want to see.
DONAHUE: OK. You're-you're not suggesting that it was a ruse to expel him? They didn't-he scared them, didn't he?
BRISARD: Yes, because he was in Saudi Arabia. Yes, in fact. But for years after he was expelled, he was able to do business with companies in Saudi Arabia...
BRISARD: ... involving companies based in Saudi Arabia, involving individuals based in Saudi Arabia. So yes, he was expelled. That's all.
DONAHUE: Yeah. Are you suggesting that this interest in not roiling Saudi Arabia or not making trouble in this area was because we wanted to build a pipeline?
BRISARD: No. What happened is that, in fact, we wanted-everybody wanted, especially U.S. corporate oil wanted, a stable regime in Afghanistan...
BRISARD: ... a stable regime, to be able to build that pipeline, a regime that was able to control the entire Afghanistan.
DONAHUE: Right. But we wanted the pipeline, did we not?
BRISARD: Yes. Yes.
DONAHUE: And we wanted to control it.
DONAHUE: And we wanted to build it.
DONAHUE: And so this interest-you-here's you're suggesting, and I don't know if you're...
DONAHUE: You're suggesting that the Bush family, with ties to oil and Texas, had an interest in seeing that the construction of this pipeline through Afghanistan continued or moved forward, and that, you're suggesting, slowed us up and reduced our enthusiasm for going after al Qaeda and terrorism.
BRISARD: Again, I'm not going on the book about a specific link with with...
DONAHUE: OK, but...
BRISARD: ... any of these families...
DONAHUE: You'll agree that this is a suggestion. This is an implication in your book. You may...
BRISARD: What we say in our book is that the-several big U.S. corporations, including Unocal, for instance, wanted to built that pipeline since 1996. And since that date, U.S. governments, whether under Clinton or under Bush, have helped them go through that project. That means negotiate with the Taliban. That means be accommodating with the Taliban. And it's only finally after September 11th that the U.S. government discovered the real nature of the regime.
DONAHUE: OK. I just want to just take these folks to school here. Here's Afghanistan. This is the pipeline we would like to build. This is the Caspian area, very rich oil reserves here.
DONAHUE: Lots and lots of-maybe more than anyplace else on earth. So you go through Afghanistan. No such pipeline exists now. Here are the alternatives. Go through Iran. "No," says the United States. "We don't want to go through Iran. It's too dangerous." Go through Russia? Certainly not. We want to be able to control this. Do I have it here?
BRISARD: Yes. That's it. Yes. Yes. Basically, that's it. That's the cheapest way and the shortest way to go through...
DONAHUE: But you're not here to say that it is in the-it was-it was the enthusiasm for building the pipeline that made the administration be less than aggressive in its-in its treatment of al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden before 9/11.
BRISARD: I'm speaking about the treatment of the Taliban regime. Yes, we were soft with the Taliban regime probably because of that pipeline, that big pipeline. It's an $8 billion project, so...
BRISARD: ... it's important.
DONAHUE: What is the nature of the lawsuit to which you will attach your own name, as an attorney at law, that is to be filed in this country this week?
BRISARD: I'm simply part of that effort to bring to justice those who sponsored, financed or give any facility to al Qaeda and to Usama bin Laden during those years for him to be able to carry out such a tragedy as the September 11th attacks.
DONAHUE: This will be filed under the terms what we call tort law.
BRISARD: That's right. That's right.
DONAHUE: Tort law says-tort law is asbestos...
DONAHUE: ... Firestone tires-that if you're responsible...
DONAHUE: ... for the injury or the death...
BRISARD: You have to pay for that. You have to pay for that.
DONAHUE: Assuming it could be proved in court that you were negligent...
BRISARD: Yes. Of course. Of course.
DONAHUE: ... and so on.
BRISARD: Of course. Of course. That's the basic principle of the lawsuit, yes. And it's done, of course, on the behalf of the families of the victims because that's the essential. I was meeting last week with a French mother who lost her son. She told me, "The only thing they recovered from my son was a bone." When you hear a mother say that, you say someone has to pay for that. Someone has to be accountable for that. And that's the purpose of the lawsuit.
DONAHUE: You must be somewhat distracted by the fact there has been no real independent investigation of all these events here...
BRISARD: The investigation, at least on the financial side, is under way, is being carried out...
BRISARD: ... to identify those individuals or entities that...
BRISARD: ... participated in the financing of al Qaeda.
BRISARD: In fact, it was-you were asked to conduct an investigation regarding the finances of Usama bin Laden.
DONAHUE: So you-this is about banks and who's giving the money...
BRISARD: Yeah. Yeah.
DONAHUE: ... and how it gets in, and so on. And this, obviously, would be evidence at the trial. So?
BRISARD: Probably, yes. Yes.
DONAHUE: So in your effort, then, to trace the-to follow the money trail of al Qaeda, you came up with this. You're not saying President Bush 1, the president's father, went to-with the Carlyle group to the Middle East, or to that region, for the purpose of promoting the pipeline?
BRISARD: OK, so let's assume, if we're speaking again about Saudi Arabia, that the U.S. government, whoever it is, has probably a real problem to address the issue of the responsibility of Saudi Arabia in the tragedy of September 11th, OK, for obvious reasons-economic and strategic interests, whether personal or not. But that's precisely the purpose of the lawsuit, what the government cannot do...
BRISARD: ... justice can do it.
BRISARD: But you're honest enough to tell us that, as compelling as this book is, absorbing and-you don't have a smoking gun, do you. Do you?
BRISARD: Well, the fact is, again,...
DONAHUE: This is all implication.
DONAHUE: It's circumstance...
BRISARD: Yes. That has to be proven, of course.
DONAHUE: So oil interests trumped...
BRISARD: Yes. Yes.
DONAHUE: - going after the terrorists prior to 9/11.
BRISARD: That's what at least told me the former anti-terrorism director of the FBI, John O'Neill, yes.
DONAHUE: Well, let me say that...
BRISARD: ... don't want to-to run after the Saudis.
DONAHUE: John O'Neill, the former FBI counter-terrorist-head of counterrorism...
DONAHUE: ... who quit, was the security man for the World Trade Center...
DONAHUE: ... when the planes hit, died in the rubble.
DONAHUE: How ironic is that? And you talked to him.
BRISARD: And he's the one that sent you on this trail in the first place.
BRISARD: Yeah. Right.
DONAHUE: So-wow. Well, Jean Charles Brisard, we'll watch with interest your lawsuit to be filed this week on behalf of loved ones of the victims of 9/11. And I thank you very much for sharing this intriguing story with us.
Next, a September 11th widow-not unconnected here-demands an investigation into the act of terrorism that led to her husband's death.
Back in a moment.
DONAHUE: Well, Kristen Breitweiser is one of many widows left behind after September 11th. But in the midst of her grief, she's decided to wage a battle against the United States government, demanding answers to why her husband had to die.
Thank you so much, Kristen. You know, I read the "Vanity Fair" piece which called our attention to you. You eloped, you said, with your husband, and you weren't even pregnant. Made me smile. And there are not a lot of smiles in this story. He called you from his office. What floor was he on?
KRISTEN BREITWEISER, HUSBAND KILLED ON 9/11: He was on the 94th floor. He called at 8:51 to tell me that he was OK. He said "Sweets, don't worry. I'm fine." And I didn't know what he was talking about. I didn't have the television on. And he said, "You don't know?" You know, I was sitting at my desk and...
DONAHUE: Now, wait a minute. Didn't he say something about heat and...
BREITWEISER: That's what I was just going to say.
DONAHUE: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Go ahead.
BREITWEISER: He was sitting at his desk and had a window seat. And he said "My cheek got warm, and I looked over and there was this huge fireball" and...
DONAHUE: The other building.
BREITWEISER: Which was the other building. And he knew that I wouldn't know what building he was in. And he said, "I didn't want you to worry. I just wanted you to know that I'm OK and that it's not my building and that I love you and I just didn't want you to worry." I said, "OK," you know? He said, "Turn the television on," and I turned the TV on. And he's, like, "I have to go. We're going to go watch it on the television. Don't worry, though. I love you." And I'm, like, "OK, just be careful." And that was the last I spoke to him. And about three minutes later, I saw his building explode.
DONAHUE: So you're watching live television. You have received the call from your husband saying "Don't worry." You turn on the TV, you see the second plane hit and you know, don't you?
BREITWEISER: I knew right away. I knew approximately where his office was because he said that he was looking directly across at tower one. And I just had a feeling inside. And then when I saw the building subsequently collapse, I just said, "My God, he is gone." And I fell to the floor and...
DONAHUE: Was your 3-year-old daughter there?
BREITWEISER: And my dog and...
DONAHUE: Probably wanting to know what's going on with Mom. That's - OK, so here you are. You know you're not alone. Nothing anybody's going to say is going to ever make you feel better. You got to hold up. You've got a daughter you got to worry about, all the rest.
But as the days go on-do I understand this, that-you know, and you start to put yourself together here, was it an anger that you felt?
BREITWEISER: I think what really initially started was I saw the picture of the president in, I think it was "Newsweek" or "Time" magazine, and I read the caption. And the caption said, you know, "Andy Card telling the president about the second plane." And then I read that he proceeded to read for 25 minutes to the 2nd-graders. He was in a Sarasota school that morning for a reading program.
And I read it again, and I thought it was, you know, misreported. And it wasn't, and I got upset. I said, you know, this nation was under attack. It was clear that we were under attack. Why didn't the Secret Service whisk him out of that school? He was on live local television in Florida. The terrorists, you know, had been in Florida. I mean, we find out that out now. He was less than 10 miles from an airport.
BREITWEISER: And I-I am concerned. I want to know why the Secret Service did not whisk him away. I want to know why he is the commander-in-chief of the United States of America, our country was clearly under attack, it was after the second building was hit. I want to know why he sat there for 25 minutes.
DONAHUE: Yeah. Well, I don't want to argue this with you at all. You know, there's lots of things that would make Americans upset, to be sure. I think the president might argue, you know, those kids were there. He's the president. If he acts like he's nervous or in a hurry-I don't know. Less forgiving-you know, I'm less generous about the issue of what happened after those planes took off. And I think you feel this way, too. Do you want to talk about that?
BREITWEISER: You know, I think...
DONAHUE: Two took off from Boston, one from Dulles.
BREITWEISER: Right. And I think that I have a lot of problems with the Pentagon. I don't understand how a plane could hit our Defense Department, which is the Pentagon, an hour after the first plane hit the first tower. I don't understand how that is possible.
I'm a reasonable person. But when you look at the fact that we spend a half trillion dollars on national defense and you're telling me that a plane is able to hit our Pentagon, our Defense Department, an hour after the first tower is hit? There are procedures and protocols in place in this nation that are to be followed when transponders are disconnected, and they were not followed on September 11th.
DONAHUE: Right. You make the case that they scrambled and escorted Payne Stewart's plane faster, you think.
BREITWEISER: Right. We use that as an example in our meetings.
DONAHUE: I've only a couple seconds here, but I want you to get this in.
DONAHUE: Go ahead. They got up there quickly with the golfer...
BREITWEISER: They got up there right away.
DONAHUE: ... who was deprived of oxygen. Everybody fell asleep on the airplane.
BREITWEISER: They got there very quickly. Moreover, the jets that were scrambled on September 11th were not only late, but they were sent from Air Force bases 200 miles away.
DONAHUE: We'll be back in just a moment with Kristen.
DONAHUE: Kristen Breitweiser-there's her husband. He was killed when the second plane hit the World Trade Center on September 11th. She saw the plane hit his building after he called her. Middletown, New Jersey, Kristen.
You want an independent investigation. Now, let's make this point here. Incidentally, you came here with three other widows, didn't you? You guys must be tight.
BREITWEISER: They're my family. We are all family. And it is how we have all survived in the last year.
DONAHUE: Tell me about what your-what's-what is September 11th Advocates all about? What do you want to happen?
BREITWEISER: At this point, we are fighting for an independent investigation, an investigation into 9/11 removed from the political process. We don't feel comfortable with Congress investigating itself, basically. You have congressional committees that had oversight duties with the FBI and the CIA. We want politics removed. We want pure accountability, and we feel that an independent investigation is needed to have that.
We've had independent investigations with regard to Pearl Harbor, with regard to the shuttle accident. If there's a car accident, you have an investigation. We have waited 11 months, and I think it is deplorable that these women and myself have to leave our children, our homes, and go down to Washington and beg for answers. To have the right to have answers, we have to beg. And it's disgusting.
DONAHUE: Yeah. It's hard to believe that you had to beg. Now, you have to be well received when you go to Washington. I mean, people have got to be treating you like an egg.
BREITWEISER: I think we are well received, but I think there was a definite reticence on behalf of certain individuals that are fighting this independent investigation. And I'm sorry. There are 3,000 lives lost and three million questions remaining.
DONAHUE: Would you care to name those individuals?
BREITWEISER: No. I mean, I don't think it's too hard to say. I mean, I think that the newspapers have reported openly that the White House is against it. I understand that they're probably embarrassed. But unfortunately, my husband was murdered by Middle Eastern terrorists at his desk, and I would like some answers. You have President Bush out there saying that he wants transparency and accountability on behalf of Fortune 500 CEOs. I would like some transparency and accountability on behalf of, you know, President Bush and his workers, who were the individuals that failed my husband and the 3,000 other people that day.
DONAHUE: So you have to say, then, while you have been accorded all the courtesies we would expect to be extended to a widow, there's nothing - - you don't see anything substantial happening.
BREITWEISER: No. I think, you know, the legislation was brought to the House. It passed the House. We were very pleased with that. It's now sitting in the Senate, and the Senate needs to do its job. I am sick and tired of people not doing the right thing. I am sick and tired of having nothing being done since September 11th.
This country is not safe. I want to feel safe in this country. And I think that, to quote Edmund Burke, all that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. And at this point, the families feel that way. We feel that nothing is being done to make this country safe.
And you know, it's interesting to say, at this time of year, everyone is asking us, you know, what can we do to memorialize, what can we do to memorialize. And you know what? An independent investigation. Let's make sure our husbands, our loved ones did not die in vain. Let's make sure that all the children that will now have to grow up with this horror, this devastation in their lives will have some answers, will be able to make sense of it.
That's part of the grieving process. You need to have answers so that you can move on.
DONAHUE: So we see all this action, military go, go, go, bomb, bomb, bomb...
DONAHUE: ... bang, bang, bang. That's the whole thing. And you know, we can't be-I don't think we want to send somebody to jail for wanting to go out and find who's responsible for this. But you want an independent investigation on the events before 9/11. I understand that.
BREITWEISER: I want an independent investigation into the 24 hours of September 11th. I want to know why certain things failed. I want to know why my husband was told to return to his desk when the FAA comes out on Monday with a press conference saying that it was an excruciating 11 minutes for the controllers to think about that airliner heading dead center on my husband's building. Eleven minutes on an express elevator in tower two would have been my husband's life.
DONAHUE: Right. You hope-you prayed that your husband just vaporized without pain. But you got then a notice of-tell me that. We only have 20 seconds.
BREITWEISER: In October, I received my husband's wedding band, which I wear on my finger. And it was recovered with a part of his finger. And that's all I have, is his wedding band, which is a miracle. It was recovered from ground zero, and I recovered a part of his finger.
DONAHUE: Kristen Breitweiser, I thank you very, very much.
BREITWEISER: Thank you.
DONAHUE: Thank you.
Now it's time
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