On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrived at the Pentagon and, as he did every morning, reviewed policy at a small, round wooden table once used by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, the legendary Union leader. It was going to be a busy day, full of meetings with House members, haggling over the defense budget.
He started with a working breakfast; a few minutes after his guest departed, Rumsfeld was informed by an aide that an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center’s twin towers. Assuming it was a tragic accident, he flipped on the television but put it on mute, and turned back to his papers. A senior intelligence official then entered Rumsfeld’s office and briefed him on various global hotspots. There was no inkling, for the moment, that what had happened at the World Trade Center was of cataclysmic importance.
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