“How’s that guy a general?,” Giuliani said about Gen. Milley.
Giuliani criticized Gen. Milley for describing Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as “not strategically important.”
“I wanted to grab his stars and shove it down his throat and say, ‘it’s 400 miles from China, asshole! China is going to be our enemy for the next 40 years! You have an airbase 400 miles from them and you’re giving it up? Idiot! What the hell is wrong with you? Who pays you? Christ!'”
Giuliani also slammed Joe Biden’s Afghanistan policy.
“What Biden did in the last two weeks is freaking insane,” Giuliani said, to applause from the audience.
The former mayor also spoke about his own role overseeing the aftermath of 9/11 in New York City.
“20 years ago, I did my job for the country. I’m very proud of it,” he said.
New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman said the event took place at a Cipriani restaurant and that lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova were in attendance and former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon.
Last month, President Joe Biden said the Justice Department would review classified FBI documents on the 9/11 investigation and the alleged role of Saudi Arabia’s government in the attacks.
The document released on Saturday was declassified on the 20th anniversary of the attack and is from 2016.
The released document had multiple witness testimonies and showed several connections between two of the hijackers and Saudi associates, but did not find any evidence that the Saudi government was involved in the attacks.
It said the FBI suspected Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi student in Los Angeles, of being a Saudi intelligence agent that was involved in giving two hijackers – Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar – help with travel, lodging, and money.
Fifteen of the 19 men who hijacked four airplanes on 9/11 were Saudi Arabian.
The Saudi government has repeatedly denied playing any role in the attacks. In a statement on Wednesday, the Saudi Embassy said it welcomed the declassification of the documents.
“As the administrations of the past four US presidents have attested, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has unwaveringly condemned and denounced the deplorable crimes that took place against the United States, its close ally and partner,” the statement said.
9/11 Families United said the report made revelations “implicating numerous Saudi government officials, in a coordinated effort to mobilize an essential support network for the first arriving 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar.”
“Twenty years ago today they murdered our loved ones and inflicted immeasurable pain and suffering on our lives,” said Terry Strada of 9/11 Families United, whose husband, Tom, was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. “Now the Saudis’ secrets are exposed and it is well past time for the Kingdom to own up to its officials’ roles in murdering thousands on American soil.”
Former President George W. Bush drew a parallel between domestic extremists and foreign extremists during a speech commemorating 9/11.
Bush on Saturday gave a speech on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where he paid tribute to the passengers of Flight 93 who fought extremist hijackers and crashed into field there 20 years ago in the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil.
“We have seen growing evidence, that the dangers to our country can come not only from across borders, but from violence that gathers within,” the president said in the speech. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremest abroad and violent extremists at home.”
These groups are “children of the same foul spirit, and it our continuing duty to confront them,” Bush added.
Two decades after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the US faces a bigger danger from white supremacists and far-right militants within US borders, according to experts in US law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Matt Chandler, the former deputy chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, previously told Insider that the threat environment post-9/11 “continues to be dynamic, with both foreign and domestic terrorism threats, each of which have metastasized in concerning ways.”
The former commander-in-chief pointed to several similarities between the two extremist groups, such as a “disdain for pluralism,” a “disregard for human life,” and a “determination to defile national symbols” – the last one seemingly referencing the January 6 Capitol riot.
Bush previously remarked that the violent pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol building after the results of the 2020 election left him “sick to [his] stomach” and “really disturbed.”
“When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own,” Bush said in his Saturday speech. “Maligned force seems at work in our common life. That turns every disagreement into an argument and every argument into a clash of cultures. So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear, and resentment.”
While Republicans, like Ohio Rep. Jim Banks, are telling conservative members of Congress to “lean into the culture war,” Bush has been a prominent Republican voice pushing back against a far-right movement within the Party.
“I was down there right after the event and I brought a big crew of people down. And I helped, a lot of other people helped. Those first responders are very brave,” Trump told the outlet.
Trump also revealed that “two big firemen” took him to safety after hearing creaks coming from a nearby building, which appears to be a new addition to the story.
“I said, ‘That building is going to come down,’ and two big firemen grabbed me and grabbed other people, and they just moved out of that area. Never came down, but I never heard a noise like that. And it was a scary situation,” Trump told Newsmax.
Although he was seen at Ground Zero in the days after the attack, there was no evidence that he helped, according to Vice News.
Head was living in Barcelona when the terrorist attack struck New York City and started going by the name Tania.
As Tania Head, she became heavily involved in the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, later becoming its president.
Head claimed to have been chairing a Merrill Lynch meeting on the 78th floor of the South Tower on 11 September, when a plane crashed into the building.
She described her traumatic experiences in vivid detail, including seeing her assistant being decapitated and crawling through the carnage before being helped to safety by a kind volunteer.
She also claimed that her fiance Dave, who she sometimes called her husband, died in the North Tower.
Dave, whose surname was withheld by The New York Times to protect his identity, was a real person who lost his life in the terrorist attack.
His family and friends told the paper that they had never heard of Head and had not been aware of a relationship between them.
Similarly, actor and comedian Steve Rannazzisi claimed to have made a narrow escape from the 54th floor of the South Tower after the first plane crashed into the North Tower.
In 2015, Rannazzisi admitted it was a lie after The New York Times confronted him with evidence that undermined his account.
“I was not at the Trade Center on that day,” he said in a statement provided to the paper. “I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry.”
“For many years, more than anything,” Rannazzisi said, “I have wished that, with silence, I could somehow erase a story told by an immature young man. It only made me more ashamed. How could I tell my children to be honest when I hadn’t come clean about this?”
According to psychiatrist Jean Kim, misguided people such as Head and Rannazzisi sometimes try to manipulate traumatic events for material or emotional gains.
“We shouldn’t necessarily just feel enraged by these individuals (although it certainly is tempting.)”, Kim wrote in The Washington Post.
“These are usually ultimately sad, lonely, empty people who capitalize on this unprecedented capacity for charity.”
Many family businesses are passed down from generation to generation, like an heirloom or secret recipe. They aren’t typically inherited through tragedy. But taking over two businesses before the age of 25 is a responsibility Kaley Young, now 28, says she assumed in order to keep the legacy of her parents, Beth and Keith, alive.
At 19, she began running her mother’s Long Island Pilates studio, Hot Pilates Secret, after Beth died of breast cancer. And at 24, after Keith, a first responder to the 9/11 attacks, died of a rare form of cancer, she took over his cutting-board business, Cup Board Pro.
“It feels like an honor to be able to have done that,” Young said of taking over the family’s businesses. “There’s so much love that they poured into what they both did.”
Today, a family friend runs Hot Pilates Secret, and Cup Board Pro, led by Young, has a licensing deal with the home-goods company Williams Sonoma. In channeling her own grief into passion projects, Young has continued a family legacy that spans generations and exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of seeking growth through loss.
“This isn’t just about Kaley picking up the baton from her mom and dad. This is who she was meant to be,” said Matt Higgins, a guest judge on “Shark Tank” who invested in Cup Board Pro. “There’s a lot more happening here than a family running with their parents’ dream.”
An entrepreneurial spirit from a young age
Young is the oldest of three siblings – her brother, Christian, is 24, and her sister, Keira, is 18 – and grew up watching her parents chase their professional passions. Early on, Beth harbored dreams of opening her own dance and Pilates studios, while Keith worked as a firefighter.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Keith had just put Kaley and Christian on the bus for school when he learned of the attacks. He raced to his station in Brooklyn but was instructed to stay put. Fueled with tense energy, he started cooking.
When the family bought their dream home in Wantagh, on Long Island, Beth turned her aspirations into a reality. The house came with a backyard barn that Beth converted into a dance studio before launching Hot Pilates Secret.
As Young tells it, the studio was a way for Beth to cope with the loss of her own father, who also died of cancer, and help others heal physically and emotionally. She’d often tell Young, “you have to sweat to destress.”
Young began assisting her mother with the business when she was a high school freshman and was managing it by the time she was a junior. In 2011, Beth was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer but didn’t want to close the studio and place of healing she created. Young kept the business, and Beth’s dreams, alive as her mother sought treatment.
The same year, Young enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to study graphic design. In the fall of Young’s sophomore year, the cancer overtook Beth’s body. After her mother’s death, Young had to decide between continuing school and pausing to support her family. Her father still needed someone to run the studio, which helped pay the mortgage on their house, and care for her siblings.
“I felt honored that my dad trusted me enough to continue it and so many people in our community believed in me as well,” Young said.
With a promise to herself that she’d complete her degree one day, Young left school. Back at home, she grew Hot Pilates Secret by offering teacher training and yoga retreats. But taking over the studio this time wasn’t just about fulfilling her mother’s dreams; it helped Young cope.
“After my mom passed away, I continued her Pilates studio as my own healing,” Young said. “I was mourning my mom at her studio.”
Some people, like Young, process loss by turning their negative energy from grief into creative work, explained Dr. Shelley Carson, a lecturer at Harvard University, in an article for the meditation and mindfulness app Headspace. “Research shows that the mere expression of emotion in artistic form when you are hurting is beneficial,” she told Headspace.
From first shipments to ‘Shark Tank’
Beth’s studio wasn’t Young’s only side project. While still in high school, she also lent her entrepreneurial talents to her father’s burgeoning business, Cup Board Pro, a cutting board with a detachable pocket for scraps. Her father created the tool based on his experiences in the kitchen and asked Young to create a website and shoot promotional videos.
The duo paused their work on Cup Board Pro to tend to Beth’s illness, but a year after Beth’s death, Keith was invited to appear on Food Network’s cooking-competition show “Chopped.” He became a two-time champion of the show, which gave him the confidence to revisit the company.
His first shipment of 2,000 cutting boards arrived in December 2015, the same month he received a terrible diagnosis of his own: He had synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks the body’s soft tissues, almost surely a result of his rescue efforts after 9/11. Keith died in March 2018 and, once again, Young vowed to fulfill her parent’s dream.
Opportunity quickly came knocking – or calling.
One month after Keith’s death, producers from “Shark Tank” contacted Young about coming on the show. “It felt like that was a sign from our dad to continue it,” Young said. “‘Shark Tank’ was the show he dreamt about going on.”
In October, the episode featuring Young and her siblings premiered. All five celebrity investors were visibly moved by their story and impressed by the quality of the product, especially the logo, which noted that 343 firefighters died on 9/11. They were also encouraged to know Young and her siblings had sold 300 cutting boards in the weeks before filming.
Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, and Higgins made an extremely rare decision to partner on an offer, proposing a $100,000 investment for 20% equity, just 10% more than the trio’s initial ask. The sharks also promised to donate any profits from their stake in Cup Board Pro to a charity that supported firefighters who were sick from 9/11. After filming, John helped the trio snag a licensing deal from Williams Sonoma.
“You think about all of the inflection points an entrepreneur goes to that makes the difference in the outcome,” said Higgins, cofounder of venture-capital firm RSE Ventures and former press secretary for New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. “To pick herself back up, three months after her dad died, and end up on that set is extraordinary.”
Fulfilling a dream of her own
A licensing deal with Williams Sonoma allowed Young to take a step back from Cup Board Pro. She’s still the owner but doesn’t have to manage the day-to-day operations of the business. Additionally, Williams Sonoma helped scale the product by offering different colors and sizes, which sell for $70-$100.
“We were so impressed by Kaley, and it was so clear she’s taking charge of that family professionally and personally,” said Kendall Coleman, the director of public relations at Williams Sonoma. “She’s not just the big sister; she’s the boss.”
Young returned to FIT in 2017, this time focusing on interior design, and completed her associate’s degree in 2019. The next year, she sold Hot Pilates Secret to family friend Chrissi Forde. (Young and Forde wouldn’t disclose the details of the deal.)
“I had it for seven years, and it was an incredible seven years,” Young said, “but I knew it was my time to grow a little more.”
For Young, that meant finally focusing on one of her professional dreams: starting a business of her own. In February 2020, she launched her interior-decorating company, Kaley Young Design. Today, she has six clients – the maximum number she can handle as a solo entrepreneur – and has a wait list of eager customers.
Despite entering a new chapter of her life, Young upholds her parents’ tradition of hosting Christmas for the family. She also created a tradition of her own: Loved ones now gather for dinner on her parents’ birthdays and “heaven anniversaries,” often pulling recipes from Keith’s cookbook, which will be re-released in October.
“It lets their spirits live on,” she said, “like they were here.”
This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Paul Grattan, a 42-year-old NYPD officer, about his experience during 9/11. It has been edited for length and clarity.
The morning of September 11, 2001, was pretty routine for me.
I remember thinking it was a beautiful morning. I was 22 at the time, living in Bay Bridge, Brooklyn, and enrolled in the New York City Police Academy. As a recruit, we had to show up to our assigned training facility by 7 a.m., so I usually woke up by 4 a.m. to make sure I was there on time. My facility was near the 84th Precinct, next to the fire department in downtown Brooklyn.
That day, we were supposed to be learning how to testify as police officers, so we walked to the Kings County Criminal Court to observe a criminal case. During training, our supervisor was alerted that a plane had struck one of the Twin Towers. He told us to make our way back to the training center because there was an emergency.
Walking back to the training center, I could see the top of the north tower was on fire
Some of the other recruits said they hoped firefighters were already there to put it out. But as we got to the training building’s classroom, which had big, west-facing windows, we watched the second plane strike the south tower.
We knew at that point at least one building was compromised, and the other was also burning.
We were told to assemble at the 84th Precinct, along with other departments throughout the area, and get ready to mobilize. I was assigned to help people evacuate downtown, get across the Manhattan Bridge, and receive medical attention. I was stationed at the end of the bridge in Brooklyn, and as a police recruit, we were in a modified police uniform and didn’t have any equipment.
We didn’t have smartphones at the time, and cell service was down, so I was only hearing bits and pieces of information about similar attacks in Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, which at the time I thought were just rumors.
Less than an hour after the second plane struck the south tower, it fell. I thought about how many firefighters must’ve died in that moment.
People crossing the Manhattan Bridge were covered in fine, gray dust
At one point, we were delivered cases of water, and I remember pouring water on people whose eyes and faces were coated with debris.
There were several injured people whom we directed to ambulances, but I don’t recall anyone being severely injured. Some people were still carrying their briefcases, which I thought was odd. To be honest, I was having trouble wrapping my head around what was happening.
I got back home that night at 2 a.m., and when I walked into my apartment, my landline was ringing
It was my father. I hadn’t communicated with my parents all day – as a young guy, it never occurred to me that people would be worried about me. I told my dad I was OK and that I had to report back to work in two hours.
When we returned back to the police academy weeks later, after dealing with the fallout of 9/11, we received a letter from the police recruit class at the Los Angeles Police Department. It said despite the distance between our two cities, we support you and are here for you. The commander of our academy photocopied the letter and gave it to every recruit. I kept that letter after all these years and saved it in a plastic sleeve, and recently reached out to one of the LAPD officers who signed it.
After 9/11, I wasn’t paranoid, but it did take a while for the events of the day to sink in and to understand the magnitude of what happened
I remember working 16-hour days and driving along the expressway to see the two most prominent buildings in New York missing, fires still smoldering, and dust everywhere. I remember the highways being shut down and having dedicated lanes for nurses and doctors to get to work. I don’t think New York has ever been locked down like that before, even under COVID-19.
Anybody that says that they saw something like this coming, or were preparing for something like this to happen, is lying
There’s no way anyone could have predicted the scale and scope of the tragedy.
The events of 9/11 informed my last 20 years of being a police officer and solidified why I decided to dedicate my life to public service. I’m thankful to have been able to help in some way. I’ve reflected on that day over the years, and I think it truly has made me a better cop.
The events of 9/11 have been in the back of my mind throughout my entire career
I’ve made it a point during my time as a police officer to advocate for other first responders who’ve been affected by the toxins of Ground Zero, making sure they sign up for the right health programs, and have access to the victims’ compensation fund.
However, I think being a first responder made me more aware and prepared for how something so bad could happen. My biggest fear, as we start to get further away from 9/11, is that we start to forget exactly what happened that day.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway recorded a hefty $2.4 billion of underwriting losses from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. However, a nuclear assault could have put the investor’s company out of business entirely, along with its insurance peers.
“Had a nuclear device been available to Osama bin Laden, the loss could have bankrupted most of the industry, Berkshire very much included,” Buffett wrote in a Washington Post editorial in November 2001. He added that the total insured losses could have surpassed $1 trillion, exceeding the combined value of the world’s property-casualty insurers at the time.
Berkshire counts Geico, National Indemnity, and General Reinsurance among its subsidiaries, making it one of the largest insurers in the world. Its underwriting losses from 9/11 dealt a $1.5 billion blow to its net earnings, fueling a sharp decline from $3.3 billion in 2000 to less than $800 million in 2001. Berkshire stomached an estimated 3% to 5% of the global insurance industry’s losses from the incident.
Buffett kicked himself in his letter to Berkshire shareholders in 2001. He knew a major terrorist attack could occur, and was aware of the devastating impact it might have on Berkshire. Yet he failed to adjust the insurance policies his company was writing, which would have softened the blow to its bottom line.
“I violated the Noah rule: Predicting rain doesn’t count; building arks does,” he said. The investor added that Berkshire was perfectly willing to pay out upwards of $2 billion following a catastrophe, but in the case of 9/11, it hadn’t charged enough for assuming the risk that led to a loss of that scale.
Berkshire wasn’t cowed by the episode, however. In the months after 9/11, it was one of the few insurers to actively cover terrorism losses. For example, it wrote policies for multiple international airlines, Chicago’s Sears Tower, and a North Sea oil platform, Buffett disclosed in his letter.
While Berkshire sold a significant amount of terrorism insurance after 9/11, it limited its coverage of nuclear, chemical, and biological attacks, Buffett noted during his company’s annual shareholder meeting in 2002.
A major nuclear explosion would pose an existential threat to Berkshire, he explained, while a biological attack in a major factory or office building would result in workers’ compensation losses that could “make the World Trade Center loss look like nothing.”
Buffett emphasized that the human cost of a terrorist attack far exceeds the insurance costs, but asserted that Berkshire has to consider whether it can cover claims. If the company collapsed into bankruptcy, it wouldn’t be able to compensate those involved in the disaster, not to mention others who suffered injuries years ago but rely on insurance payouts to live, he said.
Charlie Munger, Buffett’s business partner and Berkshire’s vice-chairman, underscored the tragedy of 9/11, but framed it as an important lesson for the company.
“To the extent that September 11th has caused us to be less weak, foolish, and sloppy, as we plainly were in facing some plain reality, it’s a plus,” he said at the meeting in 2002.
Berkshire’s fallout from 9/11 pales in comparison to the deaths, injuries, and national trauma caused by the attack. But it showed that even careful insurers can be caught off-guard by catastrophes, and taught Buffett and Munger some important lessons.
The anniversary of 9/11 is being appropriated by COVID-19 conspiracy theorists in a “shameless” fashion, experts say.
I News report that Telegram channels – a site renowned for hosting far-right and conspiratorial groups – are sharing messages conflating the two events, describing the pandemic and the terrorist attack as “the elites waging a biological and genetic war against the population.”
The paper states that one message reads: “Right now, with the excuse of a false pandemic crisis, we find ourselves in a similar situation, where our freedoms and constitutional rights are being threatened worldwide, in order to impose a toxic gene-therapy vaccine, using bribery.”
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe to get and is not “gene therapy,” with Dr. Adam Taylor, a virologist and research fellow at the Menzies Health Institute, Queensland, Griffith University, told Reuters, “there is zero risk of these vaccines integrating into our own genome or altering our genetic makeup.”
Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, told I News: “Conspiracy theorists shamelessly recycle outlandish claims to fit the story of the day-whether it’s the anniversary of 9/11, the pandemic or any other major news story.
“Their propaganda has been given new life by technology owned by companies that turn a blind eye to the spread of hate and misinformation.
“As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, these outlandish conspiracy theories cause pain to the families of the thousands of victims-as well as create new threats to the general public.”
“9/11 was the first major crisis to take place in the social media era,” said Dr. Aram Sinnreich, professor in the school of communication at American University, told Forbes – and social media has become only more prevalent in everyone’s lives.
President Joe Biden called for unity ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, citing the cooperation that emerged days after the unprecedented terror attacks.
“In the days that followed September 11, 2001, we saw heroism everywhere in places expected and unexpected. We also saw something all too rare: national unity,” Biden said.
He added: “To me, that’s the central lesson of September 11th: Unity is our greatest strength.”
Biden paid tribute to the almost 3,000 people who died in the attack.
“To the families of the 2,977 people from more than 90 nations killed on September 11, 2001, in New York City, Arlington, Virginia, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the thousands of more that were injured, America and the world commemorate you and your loved ones,” Biden said.
They’ll first visit lower Manhattan to honor the 2,763 people who died when the World Trade Center collapsed. Their next stop will be Shanksville, PA, to pay tribute to the 40 passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, who died while thwarting hijackers from crashing the plane into the US Capitol.
They will also visit the Pentagon, where 184 people died after American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.
“No matter how much time has passed, these commemorations bring everything painfully back as if you just got the news a few seconds ago,” Biden said in his speech.
Sen. Joni Ernst called President Joe Biden’s plan to get more Americans vaccinated an attempt to draw attention away from the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Speaking on Fox News on Friday, the Iowa Republican and combat veteran accused the Biden administration of “leading by coercion” and questioned the motives of the plan.
“I would agree with the point that is being made by so many of my colleagues that this is a diversion away from 9/11, away from the 20th anniversary, and away from the debacle that was his Afghanistan withdrawal,” Ernst said.
The White House announced a COVID-19 action plan on Wednesday to address the rise of the Delta variant, which has caused case counts to surge across the US. The plan included a rule that will require companies with more than 100 employees to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for their employees or submit them to weekly testing.
Republicans immediately condemned the plan and vowed to fight against it, setting up battles between Washington and GOP-led states.
Saturday is the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, when hijackers crashed multiple passenger planes on US soil, killing nearly 3,000 Americans. The anniversary also comes less than two weeks after the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan that ended with the Taliban back in power, almost 20 years after they were ousted by US-led forces.
Ernst isn’t the only lawmaker to accuse Biden of using the vaccine plan as a distraction. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, also a Republican, called the vaccine plan an attempt to turn attention away from Afghanistan.
Biden and the first lady have a packed agenda for the anniversary on Saturday. He’s planning to visit three 9/11 sites, in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, where the attacks occurred.
He also signed an executive order last week to declassify documents pertaining to 9/11 that families of victims have requested for years.