‘War on Terror’ president re-tells the 9/11 story as he lived it

While all Americans remember where they were on the day of the deadliest attack on this nation’s soil, few have had the opportunity to hear about it from the American at the center of the tragedy and its aftermath. For the first time on camera, former President George W. Bush has shared his experiences, feelings, and responses on September 11, 2001.

On Sunday, August 28th, two weeks before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the National Geographic Channel will air “George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview.” The film contains no narration other than Bush’s answers to questions posed by executive producer and director Peter Schnall. Viewers will see the terror attacks through the eyes of a president facing crisis.

The account is apolitical. National Geographic presents the emotional and grave human aspect of one American grappling with what so many others felt that day, and of his decision-making process in the midst of an unprecedented attack on the U.S.

“There were no politics, no agenda as he recalled what happened that day,” said Schnall, who conducted the interview with Bush over two days. “What you hear is the personal story of a man who also happened to be our president.”

Indeed, the juxtaposition of pictures and footage of the crashing planes, crumbling towers, and smoldering buildings with the president’s reaction and response likely will bring many viewers to tears — recalling the human tragedy and their own emotions — regardless of their political ideology or their feelings about Bush’s presidency.

The former president begins his account with his morning jog and describes the moment, during his visit to a local school, when he learned the nation was under attack. His story takes us through each of the attacks, the decisions he made, the measures he and his cabinet took to ensure Americans’ safety, his communications with the country and other branches of government, and his visits to the attack sites.


“The most powerless I ever felt was watching people jump to their death,” Bush says in the film. “And there was nothing I could do about it.”