Eight hours after the attacks, Donald Rumsfeld
, then U.S. Secretary of Defense, declares "The Pentagon is functioning."
At 8:32 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials were notified Flight 11 had been hijacked and they in turn notified the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD scrambled two F-15s from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts and they were airborne by 8:53 a.m.
Because of slow and confused communication from FAA officials, NORAD
had 9 minutes' notice that Flight 11 had been hijacked, and no notice
about any of the other flights before they crashed. After both of the Twin Towers had already been hit, more fighters were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia at 9:30 a.m.
At 10:20 a.m. Vice President Dick Cheney issued orders to shoot down
any commercial aircraft that could be positively identified as being
hijacked. However, these instructions were not relayed in time for the
fighters to take action. Some fighters took to the air without live ammunition, knowing that to
prevent the hijackers from striking their intended targets, the pilots
might have to intercept and crash their fighters into the hijacked
planes, possibly ejecting at the last moment.
For the first time in history SCATANA was invoked, establishing an ATC Zero
condition, closing all airspace and immediately grounding all
non-emergency civilian aircraft in the United States, Canada, and
several other countries, and so stranding tens of thousands of passengers across the world. The Federal Aviation Administration
closed American airspace to all international flights, causing about
five hundred flights to be turned back or redirected to other countries.
Canada received 226 of the diverted flights and launched Operation Yellow Ribbon to deal with the large numbers of grounded planes and stranded passengers.
The 9/11 attacks had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the American people.
Police and rescue workers from around the country took leaves of
absence, traveling to New York City to help recover bodies from the
twisted remnants of the Twin Towers. Blood donations across the U.S. surged in the weeks after 9/11.
The deaths of adults who were killed in the attacks or died in rescue operations resulted in over 3000 children losing a parent.
Subsequent studies documented children's reactions to these actual
losses and to feared losses of life, the protective environment in the
aftermath of the attacks, and effects on surviving caregivers.
Military operations following the attacks
At 2:40 p.m. in the afternoon of September 11, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi
involvement. According to notes taken by senior policy official Stephen
Cambone, Rumsfeld asked for, "Best info fast. Judge whether good enough
hit S.H." (Saddam Hussein) "at same time. Not only UBL" (Osama bin
Laden). Cambone's notes quoted Rumsfeld as saying, "Need to move swiftly – Near
term target needs – go massive – sweep it all up. Things related and
council declared the attacks on the United States were an attack on all
NATO nations which satisfied Article 5 of the NATO charter. This marked
the first invocation of Article 5, which had been written during the
Cold War with an attack by the Soviet Union in mind. Australian Prime Minister John Howard invoked Article IV of the ANZUS treaty. The Bush administration announced a War on Terror,
with the stated goals of bringing bin Laden and al-Qaeda to justice and
preventing the emergence of other terrorist networks. These goals would
be accomplished by imposing economic and military sanctions against
states perceived as harboring terrorists, and increasing global
surveillance and intelligence sharing.
On September 14, 2001 a joint resolution
was passed by the United States Congress authorizing US Presidents to
fight terrorists and the nations that harbor them called the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists.
On October 7, 2001, the War in Afghanistan began when U.S. and British forces initiated aerial bombing campaigns targeting Taliban and Al-Qaeda camps, then later invaded Afghanistan with ground troops of the Special Forces.
The overthrow of the Taliban rule of Afghanistan by a U.S.-led
coalition was the second-biggest operation of the U.S. Global War on
Terrorism outside of the United States, and the largest directly
connected to terrorism. Conflict in Afghanistan between the Taliban insurgency and the ISAF is ongoing. The Philippines and Indonesia, among other nations with their own internal conflicts with Islamic terrorism, also increased their military readiness.
President Bush addresses a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001
Following the attacks, President Bush's approval rating soared to 90%.
On September 20, 2001 he addressed the nation and a joint session of
the United States Congress regarding the events of September 11 and the
subsequent nine days of rescue and recovery efforts, and described his
intended response to the attacks. New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's highly visible role won him high praise in New York and nationally.
Many relief funds were immediately set up to assist victims of the attacks, with the task of providing financial assistance to the survivors of the attacks
and to the families of victims. By the deadline for victim's
compensation on September 11, 2003, 2,833 applications had been received
from the families of those who were killed.
Contingency plans for the continuity of government and the evacuation of leaders were also implemented almost immediately after the attacks. However, Congress was not told that the United States had been under a continuity of government status until February 2002.
In the largest restructuring of the U.S. government in contemporary history, the United States enacted the Homeland Security Act of 2002, creating the Department of Homeland Security. Congress also passed the USA PATRIOT Act, saying it would help detect and prosecute terrorism and other crimes.
Civil liberties groups have criticized the PATRIOT Act, saying it
allows law enforcement to invade the privacy of citizens and that it
eliminates judicial oversight of law enforcement and domestic
intelligence. In an effort to effectively combat future acts of terrorism, the National Security Agency (NSA) was given broad powers. NSA commenced warrantless surveillance
of telecommunications which was sometimes criticized since it permitted
the agency "to eavesdrop on telephone and e-mail communications between
the United States and people overseas without a warrant".
Numerous incidents of harassment and hate crimes against Muslims and
South Asians were reported in the days following the 9/11 attacks. Sikhs were also targeted because Sikh males usually wear turbans, which are stereotypically associated with Muslims.
There were reports of verbal abuse, attacks on mosques and other
religious buildings (including the firebombing of a Hindu temple), and
assaults on people, including one murder: Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh mistaken for a Muslim, was fatally shot on September 15, 2001 in Mesa, Arizona.
According to an academic study, people perceived to be Middle Eastern
were as likely to be victims of hate crimes as followers of Islam
during this time. The study also found a similar increase in hate crimes
against people who may have been perceived as Muslims, Arabs and others
thought to be of Middle Eastern origin.
A report by the South Asian American advocacy group known as South
Asian Americans Leading Together, documented media coverage of 645 bias
incidents against Americans of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent
between September 11 and September 17. Various crimes such as vandalism,
arson, assault, shootings, harassment, and threats in numerous places
Muslim American reaction
Muslim organizations in the United States were swift to condemn the
attacks and called, "upon Muslim Americans to come forward with their
skills and resources to help alleviate the sufferings of the affected
people and their families". These organizations included the Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America,
and the Shari'a Scholars Association of North America. Along with
monetary donations, many Islamic organizations launched blood drives and
provided medical assistance, food, and shelter for victims.
and his wife attending a commemoration service for the victims of the September 11 attacks, 16 November 2001
The attacks were denounced by mass media and governments worldwide.
Across the globe, nations offered pro-American support and solidarity.
Leaders in most Middle Eastern countries, and Afghanistan, condemned
the attacks. Iraq was a notable exception, with an immediate official
statement that, "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their
crimes against humanity". While the government of Saudi Arabia officially condemned the attacks, privately many Saudis favored bin Laden's cause. As in the United States, the aftermath of the attacks saw tensions increase in other countries between Muslims and non-Muslims.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368
condemned the attacks, and expressed readiness to take all necessary
steps to respond and combat all forms of terrorism in accordance with
their Charter. Numerous countries introduced anti-terrorism legislation and froze bank accounts they suspected of al-Qaeda ties. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies in a number of countries arrested alleged terrorists.
Tens of thousands of people attempted to flee Afghanistan following the attacks, fearing a response by the United States. Pakistan,
already home to many refugees from previous conflicts, closed its
border with Afghanistan on September 17, 2001. Approximately one month
after the attacks, the United States led a broad coalition of international forces to overthrow the Taliban regime from Afghanistan for their harboring of al-Qaeda.
Though Pakistani authorities were initially reluctant to align
themselves with the United States against the Taliban, they permitted
the coalition access to their military bases, and arrested and handed
over to the U.S. over 600 suspected al-Qaeda members.
The U.S. set up the Guantanamo Bay detention camp
to hold inmates they defined as "illegal enemy combatants". The
legitimacy of these detentions has been questioned by the European Union
and human rights organizations.
The 9/11 attacks had a major effect on the economy of New York City
The attacks had a significant economic impact on United States and world markets. The stock exchanges did not open on September 11 and remained closed until September 17. Reopening, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 684 points, or 7.1%, to 8921, a record-setting one-day point decline. By the end of the week, the DJIA had fallen 1,369.7 points (14.3%), at the time its largest one-week point drop in history. In 2001 dollars, U.S. stocks lost $1.4 trillion in valuation for the week.
In New York City, about 430,000 job-months and $2.8 billion dollars
in wages were lost in the three months after the attacks. The economic
effects were mainly on the economy's export sectors. The city's GDP
was estimated to have declined by $27.3 billion for the last three
months of 2001 and all of 2002. The U.S. government provided
$11.2 billion in immediate assistance to the Government of New York City in September 2001, and $10.5 billion in early 2002 for economic development and infrastructure needs.
Also hurt were small businesses in Lower Manhattan
near the World Trade Center, 18,000 of which were destroyed or
displaced, resulting in lost jobs and their consequent wages. Assistance
was provided by Small Business Administration loans, federal government Community Development Block Grants, and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Some 31,900,000 square feet (2,960,000 m2) of Lower Manhattan office space was damaged or destroyed. Many wondered whether these jobs would return, and if the damaged tax base would recover.
Studies of the economic effects of 9/11 show the Manhattan office
real-estate market and office employment were less affected than first
feared, because of the financial services industry's need for
North American air space was closed for several days after the
attacks and air travel decreased upon its reopening, leading to a nearly
20% cutback in air travel capacity, and exacerbating financial problems
in the struggling U.S. airline industry.
The September 11 attacks also led indirectly to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as additional homeland security spending, totaling at least $5 trillion.
Survivors were covered in dust after the collapse of the towers
The thousands of tons of toxic debris resulting from the collapse of
the Twin Towers contained more than 2,500 contaminants, including known
carcinogens. Subsequent debilitating illnesses among rescue and recovery workers are said to be linked to exposure to these carcinogens. The Bush administration ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
to issue reassuring statements regarding air quality in the aftermath
of the attacks, citing national security; however, the EPA did not
determine that air quality had returned to pre-September 11 levels until
Health effects also extended to residents, students, and office workers of Lower Manhattan and nearby Chinatown. Several deaths have been linked to the toxic dust, and the victims' names will be included in the World Trade Center memorial. Approximately 18,000 people have been estimated to have developed illnesses as a result of the toxic dust.
There is also scientific speculation that exposure to various toxic
products in the air may have negative effects on fetal development. A
notable children's environmental health center is currently analyzing
the children whose mothers were pregnant during the WTC collapse, and
were living or working nearby.
A study of rescue workers released in April 2010 found that all those
studied had impaired lung functions, and that 30–40% were reporting
little or no improvement in persistent symptoms that started within the
first year of the attack.
Years after the attacks, legal disputes over the costs of illnesses
related to the attacks were still in the court system. On October 17,
2006, a federal judge rejected New York City's refusal to pay for health
costs for rescue workers, allowing for the possibility of numerous
suits against the city.
Government officials have been faulted for urging the public to return
to lower Manhattan in the weeks shortly after the attacks. Christine
Todd Whitman, administrator of the EPA in the aftermath of the attacks,
was heavily criticized by a U.S. District Judge for incorrectly saying
that the area was environmentally safe. Mayor Giuliani was criticized for urging financial industry personnel to return quickly to the greater Wall Street area.
Government policies toward terrorism
As a result of the attacks, many governments across the world passed legislation to combat terrorism.
In Germany, where several of the 9/11 terrorists had resided and taken
advantage of that country's liberal asylum policies, two major
anti-terrorism packages were enacted. The first removed legal loopholes
that permitted terrorists to live and raise money in Germany. The second
addressed the effectiveness and communication of intelligence and law
enforcement. Canada passed the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act, that nation's first anti-terrorism law. The United Kingdom passed the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. Similarly, New Zealand enacted the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.
In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security was created to coordinate domestic anti-terrorism efforts. The USA Patriot Act
gave the federal government greater powers, including the authority to
detain foreign terror suspects for a week without charge, to monitor
telephone communications, e-mail, and Internet use by terror suspects,
and to prosecute suspected terrorists without time restrictions. The
Federal Aviation Administration ordered that airplane cockpits be
reinforced to prevent terrorists gaining control of planes, and assigned
sky marshals to flights. Further, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act
made the federal government, rather than airports, responsible for
airport security. The law created a federal security force to inspect
passengers and luggage, causing long delays and concern over passenger
The impact of 9/11 extends beyond the political arena into society
and culture in general. Immediate responses to 9/11 included greater
focus on home life and time spent with family, higher church attendance,
and increased expressions of patriotism such as the flying of flags.
The radio industry responded by removing certain songs from playlists,
and the attacks have subsequently been used as background, narrative or
thematic elements in film, television, music and literature. Already-running television shows as well as programs developed after 9/11 have reflected post-9/11 cultural concerns.9/11 conspiracy theories have become social phenomena, despite negligible support for such views from expert scientists, engineers, and historians.
Immediately after the attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation started PENTTBOM,
the largest criminal inquiry in the history of the United States. At
its height, more than half of the FBI's agents worked on the
investigation and followed a half-million leads. The FBI concluded that there was "clear and irrefutable" evidence linking al-Qaeda and bin Laden to the attacks.
The FBI was able to quickly identify the hijackers, including leader
Mohamed Atta, when his luggage was discovered at Boston's Logan Airport.
Due to a mix-up, the luggage failed to make it aboard American Airlines
Flight 11 as planned. The luggage contained the hijackers' names,
assignments and al-Qaeda connections. "It had all these Arab-language
(sic) papers that amounted to the Rosetta stone of the investigation",
said one FBI agent.
Within hours of the attacks, the FBI released the names and in many
cases the personal details of the suspected pilots and hijackers.
By midday, the U.S. National Security Agency and German intelligence
agencies had intercepted communications pointing to Osama bin Laden.
On September 27, 2001, the FBI released photos of the 19 hijackers,
along with information about possible nationalities and aliases. Fifteen of the men were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one (Atta) from Egypt, and one from Lebanon.
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
(9/11 Commission), chaired by former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean,
was formed in late 2002 to prepare a thorough account of the
circumstances surrounding the attacks, including preparedness for and
the immediate response to the attacks. On July 22, 2004, the 9/11 Commission issued the 9/11 Commission Report.
The report detailed the events of 9/11, found the attacks were carried
out by members of al-Qaeda, and examined how security and intelligence
agencies were inadequately coordinated to prevent the attacks. Formed
from an independent bipartisan group of mostly former Senators,
Representatives, and Governors, the commissioners explained, "We believe
the 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination,
policy, capabilities, and management".
The commission made numerous recommendations on how to prevent future
attacks, and in 2011 was dismayed that several of its recommendations
had yet to be implemented.
Collapse of the World Trade Center
The north tower continues to burn after the collapse of the south tower
The exterior support columns from the lower level of the south tower remained standing after the building collapsed
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology investigated
the collapses of the Twin Towers and 7 WTC. The investigations examined
why the buildings collapsed, what fire protection measures were in place
and evaluated how fire protection systems might be improved in future
The investigation into the collapse of 1 WTC and 2 WTC was concluded in
October 2005 but that of 7 WTC wasn't finalized until August 2008.
The NIST found that the fireproofing on the Twin Towers' steel
infrastructures was blown off by the initial impact of the planes and
that, had this not occurred, the towers would likely have remained
standing. A study published by researchers of Purdue University
confirmed that, if the thermal insulation on the core columns were
scoured off and column temperatures were elevated to approximately 700 °C (1,292 °F), the fire would have been sufficient to initiate collapse.
The director of the original investigation stated that, "the towers
really did amazingly well. The terrorist aircraft didn’t bring the
buildings down; it was the fire which followed. It was proven that you
could take out two thirds of the columns in a tower and the building
would still stand." The fires weakened the trusses supporting the floors, making the floors
sag. The sagging floors pulled on the exterior steel columns causing
the exterior columns to bow inward. With the damage to the core columns,
the buckling exterior columns could no longer support the buildings,
causing them to collapse. Additionally, the report found the towers'
stairwells were not adequately reinforced to provide adequate emergency escape for people above the impact zones.
NIST concluded that uncontrolled fires in 7 WTC caused floor beams and
girders to heat and subsequently "caused a critical support column to
fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the
Internal review of the CIA
The Inspector General of the CIA
conducted an internal review of the CIA's pre-9/11 performance and was
harshly critical of senior CIA officials for not doing everything
possible to confront terrorism. He criticized their failure to stop two
of the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, as they
entered the United States and their failure to share information on the
two men with the FBI.
In May 2007, senators from both major U.S. political parties drafted
legislation to make the review public. One of the backers, Senator Ron Wyden
said, "The American people have a right to know what the Central
Intelligence Agency was doing in those critical months before 9/11."[ In the President's Daily Brief,
dated August 6, 2001, a CIA memo mentions uncorroborated reporting from
a foreign intelligence service suggesting that Bin Laden was "Determined To Strike in US" and may want to hijack an airplane to secure the release of Islamic extremist prisoners.
One World Trade Center under construction in January 2012
On the day of the attacks, New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani
proclaimed, "We will rebuild. We're going to come out of this stronger
than before, politically stronger, economically stronger. The skyline
will be made whole again."
The damaged section of the Pentagon was rebuilt and occupied within a year of the attacks. The temporary World Trade Center PATH station
opened in late 2003 and construction of the new 7 World Trade Center
was completed in 2006. Work on rebuilding the main World Trade Center
site was delayed until late 2006 when leaseholder Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed on financing. One World Trade Center is currently under construction at the site and at 1,776 ft (541 m) upon completion in 2013, will become the tallest building in North America.
On the World Trade Center site, three more office towers are expected
to be built one block east of where the original towers stood. Though
initial construction has commenced on all three of these towers, they
are expected to be completed after the completion of One World Trade
The Tribute in Light on September 11, 2011, on the tenth anniversary of the attacks, seen from New Jersey
. The building lit up in red, white, and blue is the new One World Trade Center under construction.
In the days immediately following the attacks, many memorials and vigils were held around the world. In addition, people posted photographs of the dead and missing all around Ground Zero.
A witness described being unable to "get away from faces of innocent
victims who were killed. Their pictures are everywhere, on phone booths,
street lights, walls of subway stations. Everything reminded me of a
huge funeral, people quiet and sad, but also very nice. Before, New York
gave me a cold feeling; now people were reaching out to help each
One of the first memorials was the Tribute in Light, an installation of 88 searchlights at the footprints of the World Trade Center towers. In New York, the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition was held to design an appropriate memorial on the site. The winning design, Reflecting Absence,
was selected in August 2006, and consists of a pair of reflecting pools
in the footprints of the towers, surrounded by a list of the victims'
names in an underground memorial space. Plans for a museum on the site have been put on hold, following the abandonment of the International Freedom Center in reaction to complaints from the families of many victims.
The Pentagon Memorial was completed and opened to the public on the seventh anniversary of the attacks in 2008. It consists of a landscaped park with 184 benches facing the Pentagon.
When the Pentagon was repaired in 2001–2002, a private chapel and
indoor memorial were included, located at the spot where Flight 77
crashed into the building.
In Shanksville, a permanent Flight 93 National Memorial
is planned to include a sculpted grove of trees forming a circle around
the crash site, bisected by the plane's path, while wind chimes will
bear the names of the victims. A temporary memorial is located 500 yards (457 m) from the crash site.
New York City firefighters donated a cross made of steel from the World
Trade Center and mounted on top of a platform shaped like the Pentagon. It was installed outside the firehouse on August 25, 2008.
Many other permanent memorials are being constructed elsewhere, and
scholarships and charities have been established by the victims'
families, along with many other organizations and private figures.
On every anniversary, in New York City, the names of the victims who
died there are read out against a background of somber music. The
President of the United States attends a memorial service at the
Pentagon, and also asks Americans to observe a moment of silence in observance of Patriot Day. Smaller services are held in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which are usually attended by the President's spouse.