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'NBC Nightly News,' "Attack on America,"
6:30 PM ET, 11 September 2001,
"Tuesday President Bush returns to White House on Marine One,"
Anchor: Tom Brokaw, Jim Miklaszewski reporting.

TOM BROKAW, anchor: I'm told that Marine One, the helicopter bearing the president from Andrews Air Force Base back to the White House, now is landing on the White House lawn. We do expect to hear from the president before the end of this night. He has had a long and challenging day, beginning in Florida, then going to Louisiana and then to Offutt Air Force Base, the home of the Strategic Arm Command, before returning here to his office at the White House. This evening he'll be meeting with his national security advisers. By then Colin Powell, the secretary of state, may be back from his trip to Peru, also Condoleezza Rice, who's been in the White House all day long and informed him of all of this and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, who has managed to stay in the White House, too. These are the kinds of days that you know in the back of your mind may occur when you become the president of the United States and the commander in chief when you're on the campaign trail. But the cold, hard reality has been visited on this president, one of the greatest national security crises this country has faced in many, many years within his first year in office. So let's just watch for a moment and see if we can't see the president as he gets off the helicopter and then under very heavy guard. There is extraordinary security now at the White House. Sharpshooters on the roof. People have been cleared out. Our correspondents are operating from across the street. We'll see whether we can see him as he moves from Marine One into the Oval Office.

Mik, we had, as we expected earlier today, the president had a fighter plane escort coming from Omaha back to Washington. And my guess is that he must have had one earlier today when he left Florida and also when he went from from Louisiana up to SAC. Jim Miklaszewski:


JIM MIKLASZEWSKI reporting: It was shortly after the attacks occurred on the World Trade Center that the Pentagon went into a crisis mode. They were trying to establish exactly what additional threats there may be, and then it was just about, oh, 28 minutes after that that the airplane hit here. It was after the attack on the Pentagon that the Air Force then decided to scramble F-16s out of the DC National Guard Andrews Air Force Base to fly cover, a--a protective cover over Washington, DC. It was something straight out of a war zone, Tom. One Air Force officer standing next to me looking up into the sky at the F-16s said, 'My God, we're flying cover on the nation's capital.'


BROKAW: All right, Jim. Let's continue to watch here as the president still is on Marine One. We do expect that momentarily he'll be exiting that helicopter and moving briskly into the Oval Office. Laura Bush, he had talked to earlier today. She had been moved to a secure location. His brother Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency in the state of Florida after the president left today, a contingency that a lot of governors took around the country. Secret Service detail exiting first. There were Secret Service offices and a number of other government offices in the World Trade Center. There's the president now walking to what will prove to be one of the longest and most important nights of his presidency back into the White House Oval Office. We do expect him to address the nation later. His father, obviously, was president during the Operation Desert Storm, the Persian Gulf War. His father had been the ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA and vice president of the United States for eight years before he occupied the Oval Office. There is very little in your experience as governor of Texas or even as a senator of the United States or almost any other job to prepare you for these kinds of occasions.