Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik remembers standing in downtown Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, looking up at the burning buildings and thinking, “What the hell just happened?”
“About three or four minutes after I got there, there was this enormous explosion,” Kerik told Dean Obeidallah Friday. “Nobody ever imagined this kind of attack… We didn’t realize we under attack until the second plane hit.”
Kerik and Mayor Rudy Giuliani learned about the simultaneous attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon after phoning Vice President Dick Cheney. When they hung up the call with the White House, which was in the process of evacuating, Kerik remembers “the building we were in started to move, started to shake.”
“The door slammed open, Chief [James] Esposito … he yells ‘get down, it’s coming down!’ … it was tower 2. It was imploding and it imploded basically on top of us.”
Kerik, Giuliani and the entire cabinet were “trapped inside 75 Barclay for about 25 minutes” before they were able to make their escape onto Church Street in downtown Manhattan.
“We called for the evacuation of City Hall, Police Headquarters, the Empire State Building — every major building we could think of, we had to make sure they were evacuated. We didn’t know how many more planes there would be, did they have ground attacks planned, were they going to do something in the mass transit system — we knew none of this.”
Fifteen years later, two images remain ingrained in Kerik’s memory; witnessing people jumping off the side of the tower and walking into NYPD headquarters to meet with the families of the 23 members of the force that were missing.
“It was a horrific time for us,” Kerik said. “No department in the country had taken those kind of loses.”
In remembrance of the 15th anniversary of September 11th, SiriusXM Insight Ch. 121 will air special programming of “the Dean Obediallah Show” with interviews including with Kerik, Fareed Zakaria, Soledad O’Brien, Ayman Mohyeldin, Joy Reid and Bill Carter on Saturday, September 10th at 10 am ET and Sunday, September 11th at 12 am ET, 8 am ET and 4 pm ET