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(iBN Features) – Since 2001, the beginning of September doesn’t just mean the end of summer for kids and back-to-school sales for parents anymore. Now it also means a time for all Americans to reflect on the 9/11 attacks on the United States. As the country prepares to mark the ninth anniversary of that tragic day, it’s a good time to ponder what has changed and ask if we are safer now than we were then.
One person with a unique ability to answer those questions and address those concerns is Robert J. Darling, author of the recently published book 24 Hours Inside the President’s Bunker: 9/11/01: The White House. Now a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, on the morning of September 11, 2001, Darling was a U.S.M.C. helicopter pilot assigned to the White House to oversee the travel logistics for then-President Bush’s trip to Florida. As the tragic events of that morning began to unfold, Darling ended up manning phones in the White House basement bunker, observing first-hand the response of the highest echelon of the federal government to the rolling crises, and getting an inside look at the history in the making. It was Darling who personally briefed then-Vice President Dick Cheney on the trajectory of United Airlines Flight 93 towards Washington, D.C. (before it crashed in Shanksville, Pa.) and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice about rumors of a (false) threat to the President’s plane in Florida.
Flash forward nine years and Darling, now a civilian, says a lot has changed for the better in terms of preventing another 9/11. “The security of our borders and ports have been improved,” he says. “I believe America is absolutely safer today. Obviously there are programs you wish were better run, better funded, but unmistakably we are better off than we were then.”
Having said that, Darling also cautions that lurking dangers and major concerns remain: “We face a persistent and evolving terrorism threat. Obviously, Al-Qaeda is still out there and operating, despite our aggressive pursuit. While we’ve improved our surveillance systems and response capabilities, our enemies have also evolved and have increased in numbers over the last nine years. They still very much see us as the enemy.”
As for tactics, Darling foresees emerging threats there too. “We’re better off but our enemies are adapting as well. There is always a possibility of another 9/11, but probably not with the use of airliners. They’re adapting, trying new ways of getting at us – bio-terrorism, domestic terrorism, cyber threats, etc. We’re always at risk, so it’s important to stay ahead of them, to be continuously vigilant. The potential exists for another terrible day.”
Thursday 5th of August 2010
What an interview! Lt. Co. Robert Darling has written a book about being in the Presidents bunker during 9/11 and it is an incredible book!Join John as he interview Co. Darling.
Hello all! And thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you’ve had a chance to read my new book, 24 Hours Inside the President’s Bunker. If so, I’d like to know what you thought about it. It was truly a day that changed my life and our country forever. I’d also like to hear about your 9/11/01 experience. Where were you? Who were you with? How has the attack changed your life? I look forward to hearing from you.
It has taken a long time to get through the mess, but I have finally finished my book!
24 hours inside the President’s Bunker: 09-11-01 the White House