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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Ground Zero of Terror; Teaching Jihad; Unfinished War; New al Qaeda Tape; Tracking Down al Qaeda; A Second Chance; Debunking Doubt; Safety Gaps; Defending the Skies; Toxic Toll

Aired September 11, 2006 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENELLE MCMILLAN, SURVIVED COLLAPSE OF NORTH TOWER: I am not going to make it. I am going to die here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: But she survived. The last person rescued from the rubble. What the last five years have been like for her.

Forty-one ways to make America safer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our frustration is that so many of these recommendations we have made are really no-brainers. They're very common sense solutions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: So why haven't all of them been implemented by now? We are keeping them honest.

And clinging to conspiracies. Skeptics who don't believe a plane did this to Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE WILSON, COMPUTER ANIMATOR: They say a large jet hit it. It should have hit the lawn. The lawn should be damaged. The spools (ph) should be gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Can this man and his computer turn the doubters into believers?

From Afghanistan, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. "Ground Zero of Terror." Here is Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Five 9/11s since that terrible day. That day we shall never forget. This is the scene right now in lower Manhattan, a live picture. Those twin beams of light, rising skyward, symbolizing the buildings and the people in them who died, 343 firefighters, 60 police officer from the NYPD and Port Authority police -- 2,749 people in all. The lights will be lit throughout the night.

The Pentagon also gleaming tonight. A live picture -- 184 people killed there; 40 more when United Flight 93 went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Here on the Afghan/Pakistan border, this is where the battle after 9/11 began, and the fight still continues to this day. It is a fight being fought here on the Afghan side of the border and also on the Pakistan side of the border.

You have heard it described not just as a military battle, but a war of ideas. And in some case, the war of ideas is being lost in the madrassas, in these religious schools in Pakistan that some say are the breeding grounds of terror.

CNN's Nic Robertson investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's late, 10:00 o'clock at night. We are uncertain about what we are witnessing. Are these devoted and peace loving students of Islam? Or is it a school where students gravitate to terrorism?

We're in Lehoul (ph), Pakistan. Dozens of children, some only five, are painstakingly memorizing every word of the Koran, every word. It can take years.

(On camera): These children begin their studies at about 6:00 o'clock in the morning. They get a break for breakfast around 8:00 a.m. Then they go back to their books. They get a break for lunch, then studying again all afternoon. A long break in the early evening, and then back to their books again.

(Voice-over): But is this about love, love of Islam or hate, hate for the U.S. and the West?

(On camera): Extremists could try to recruit young men from here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My students never do bomb blasts.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): School like this are called madrassas. There are 15,000 in Pakistan.

This man, Mullah Abdul Rashid Ghazi, runs some of the largest anywhere. He says he met Osama bin Laden and describes himself as being ideologically close to the world's most wanted terrorist. In fact, he says jihad, war with oneself and one's enemies, a holy war, is part of the Koran, so he must teach it.

ABDUL RASHID GHAZI, PAKISTANI MULLAH: We have been asked by the government many times that you should stop teaching the jihad. So we tell them that we can't stop it because we cannot make any amendment in Islam. ROBERTSON: In the 1980s the madrassas launched graduates of holy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. In the 1990s madrassas produced leaders and soldiers for the Taliban. And since 9/11, they have incubated a growing hatred for the West, declaring the war on terror a campaign against all Muslims.

GHAZI: If you talk about Afghanistan, yes, we say that American army can be attacked in Afghanistan and in Iraq, American army, because they are aggressive.

ROBERTSON: This young man took four years to memorize the Koran. For him, it was especially difficult. He doesn't understand a word of it because he doesn't speak Arabic, but he does understand the promised rewards.

JABER ISMAIL, AMERICAN MADRASSA STUDENT: If a person that memorizes the Koran, you know, he can take six people to heaven like this.

ROBERTSON: Jaber Ismail is American. Five years ago, two months after 9/11, he and his parents moved here from California to get a religious education. And now, he may never get to go back to U.S. Twice he has tried to go home, but he says the U.S. is keeping him out, and says U.S. officials suspect he has been in a terrorist training camp here.

His cousin has already been convicted by a U.S. court.

ISMAIL: I don't think they believe me, you know.

ROBERTSON: Why not?

ISMAIL: Because they said I have to do a lie detector test and I was thinking like, you know, I was born in the United States. Why do I have to take a lie detector test to enter my own country.

ROBERTSON (on camera): As we're leaving his village, I must admit to being a little bit confused. Is it as simple as Jaber Ismail says, that he came here to study the Koran, didn't get tempted into terror training? It is very, very hard to discern fact from fiction.

(Voice-over): After all, last summer the investigations of the London subway and bus bombings found some of to bombers had visited Pakistan shortly before the attack. Pakistan and the madrassas were implicated. And Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf tried to crack down on the madrassas, but many defied him.

GHAZI: We are against Musharraf. I mean, we say that he is a dictator. He is an agent. He's an agent of the United States.

ROBERTSON: And yet, despite growing Western suspicions that madrassas turn young innocence into easy converts for terrorism, madrassas have never been more popular. Mullah Ghazi says anger at the U.S. and the West is great for his schools.

GHAZI: 40 percent increase in the number of students and the number of people who are donating.

ROBERTSON: That is why we are not sure what we saw in the class this day. Devoted and focused students who love the Koran and Islam or if the day's lessons focus on the jihad chapter. Were we seeing the groundwork of recruitment for the next generation of holy warriors angry at the U.S.?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Fascinating. Well, whatever the roots of terror, they are dealing with it here on a daily basis.

Earlier today, I talked to top American commander here in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Five years ago today, you were actually in the Pentagon on 9/11.

LT. GEN. KARL EIKENBERRY, U.S. ARMY: I was.

COOPER: What happened?

EIKENBERRY: Anderson, I was on the third floor of the Pentagon and getting a briefing and one of the four planes that the terrorists had hijacked smashed into the Pentagon and came in, hit the first, second floor.

I am very fortunate to be alive. The plane literally passed beneath the office that I was in. We managed to get out. And I think there is a, you know, an aspect of fate as I look at myself here now in Afghanistan with this honor of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) our forces.

COOPER: I think a lot of people in the United States, you know, they watched with great interest those months right after 9/11, with the fight here and the toppling of the Taliban regime and the pushing of al Qaeda out of Afghanistan. The Taliban is back, though. Five years later, I mean, the fighting going on in the south is very intense. How is it, why has the Taliban been able to come back?

EIKENBERRY: First of all, important to remember that the government of Afghanistan is still very new, and trying to stand up. And so we are trying to stand up an afghan army after 30 years of chaos, an Afghan police force, trying to get the government up and operating. So against that growth of Taliban influence into some of these areas that you might call vacuums, you've got a growing strength of the government of Afghanistan that is contesting that.

And then secondly, we are fighting an enemy that doesn't respect international borders and boundaries, and so we have a regional problem that we are dealing with here, and that remains a challenge.

COOPER: How frustrating is it five years on that Osama bin Laden is still out there? EIKENBERRY: When we talk about the international terrorist network, of who bin Laden does not shut down the international terrorist network. Now, with regard to bin Laden, it is important that bin Laden is eventually captured or killed. It's important for the American people as we reflect back on 9/11. All the American people killed that were killed on that day. It's critical for justice that that man is brought to justice one day. And every day that we are here, we continue the search for him. And one day he will either be killed or captured.

COOPER: You're confident of that?

EIKENBERRY: I am confident of that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Well, of course, it was expected, but on this 9/11 anniversary, there was a new tape from al Qaeda, al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, releasing a tape. Yet again, of course, it was well produced as all the tapes are. And in it, of course, there were threats as there always are.

CNN's Brian Todd has been looking at the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Al Qaeda's number two leader puts his own spin on the September 11th anniversary with a new warning to the West.

AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI, AL QAEDA SECOND IN COMMAND (through translator): Your leaders are hiding from you the true extent of the disaster that will shock you.

TODD: Former CIA officers we spoke to, who tracked al Qaeda in the Middle East, believe that when Ayman al-Zawahiri's warning of a shock, he means a non-conventional attack.

GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: You know, they have stated their intention to conduct catastrophic attacks on us. They've stated their intention to eventually use WMD against us.

TODD: Al-Zawahiri also warns the West the battlefield will shift away from Afghanistan and Iraq to two new fronts.

AL-ZAWAHIRI (through translator): The first is the Gulf, from where you will be expelled, Allah willing, at which point your economic ruin will be achieved.

TODD: The second front, Israel, where Zawahiri says jihadi reinforcements are getting closer. Former CIA officers say al Qaeda's aim is twofold, to demonstrate Israel's military can be beaten and to overthrow regimes in the Persian Gulf.

BERNTSEN: Without a doubt, they're going to come after us in the Persian Gulf, in the Gulf states and in Saudi Arabia. I mean, it is significant to us for economic reasons. It is where most of the world's oil comes from.

TODD: How will those regimes be targeted? Former CIA officers tell CNN many of al Qaeda's fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan are Saudis, and that when the U.S. leaves, those fighters will head home for attacks on oil facilities, shipping or...

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Compounds where Westerners live, hotels that are frequented by Westerners, truck bombs against military installations. These are all the natural things that they have trained to do and probably carried out contingency casings to do. They could for example, mount assassination attacks on key leaders.

TODD (on camera): For those operations, intelligence experts say al Qaeda will need new recruits. And that they believe is a key part of the strategy behind these recent messages from Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I am joined now by CNN's Nic Robertson, as well as CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen, who probably knows more about Osama bin Laden than just about anybody. He met with bin Laden in the late 90s. Also, I'm joined by Gary Berntsen, a former CIA officer who hunted bin Laden. His book is "Jawbreaker." It is a fascinating read, personal account of what it was in those days after 9/11, hunting the world's most wanted terrorist.

Gary, we appreciate you joining our round table.

Peter, let me start off with you. How much is what we are seeing on the ground here in Afghanistan, the violence, the fighting, the responsibility of al Qaeda? How much of an impact does al Qaeda still have on the ground here?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, both the Taliban and the U.S. military have the same view on the al Qaeda presence here, which is that they're providing advice, logistical support, maybe some money. So they're playing an important role, but not I think a primary role in Afghanistan.

Certainly, you know, in Pakistan, they're remain pretty vibrant. They reached out to London, attacked London July 7, 2005. So, they're an important player here, but one of several.

COOPER: Pakistan really is the nexus, I mean, not just of what happened after 9/11, but really even now the bombings in London, the planning of the airport bombings in London. Pakistan is at the center of it all.

BERGEN: Pakistan is a very religious country. It's a country that's based on Islam. That's how the nation was founded. Some of the London bombers are of Pakistani decent. They went back there. They went to Cashmeri groups where Pakistan has a long running dispute with India over the area of Cashmere. There are groups of the Pakistan government has been sponsoring jihadi groups essentially to fight their undercover to the civilian face of the army they say.

There is this sort of jihadi feeling among people there. Al Qaeda has been able to play off that. They ran and hid there after 9/11. Most of the senior al Qaeda people that have been arrested so far have been arrested in Pakistan. This is a place where al Qaeda can feel comfortable. Clearly they have been. That's where many of them have been arrested.

COOPER: And of course now there's the cease-fire agreement. There's likely, according to intelligence sources we've all been talking to, going to be an up tick in cross-border operations.

Gary Berntsen, in the book "Jawbreaker," which I'm about half way through and is an amazing read about what it was like hunting for bin Laden. How did he get away? I mean, he fled to those Tora Bora mountains. You guys were on his trail. What happened?

BERNTSEN: Well, there was a battle that went on for several weeks beginning in very late November where we started conducting air strikes. We started with four Americans and about 10 Afghan guards/guides. We would then move to bring an SF team into support. We would have multiple observation points and created gigantic triangle, by which we were calling in the air strikes, using lasers to light them up. And eventually he would fall back further and further back into the mountains as this battle went on. And eventually, because the area was so large, and that we were short on forces, we needed to have more U.S. boots on the ground. He was able to cross into Pakistan, very likely on foot, close to 15 or 16 December.

COOPER: Why weren't you able to get more boots on the ground, more U.S. soldiers on the scene to stop that retreat?

BERNTSEN: Well, we started with eight, then we had 12 more added. And then ultimately, the decision made in Washington was not to bring 600 to 800 Rangers as I had requested, but instead to use Delta Force, which is 40. And the 40 men in Delta Force did a fabulous job for command and control and working with the Eastern alliance, but it was not enough to close encounter, rapidly enough, to destroy bin Laden's force before he could escape.

COOPER: Gary, what have you learned about hunting al Qaeda that can be applied today? It is a difficult battle, the enemy has changed.

BERNTSEN: In all counter terrorism operations, speed is critical. You don't get a lot of looks. If you've got them on scene, you need to have your strike forces close to your intelligence capability, and you need to be able to move very, very quickly. And that is either with kinetic power or with personnel. And you can't be afraid to move in and be wrong. Even if you are wrong, OK, fine, you can pull your people back out. But if you have a lead, you need to pursue it, you need to run every lead to ground.

COOPER: We have been critical on this program in the last hour or so of Pakistan signing the cease-fire deal with militants based on what intelligence sources are telling us. They had been effective, though, with some high profile arrests of al Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan.

BERGEN: Every senior al Qaeda leader really since 9/11 has either been captured or killed in Pakistan, which is sort of a good news story and a bad news story. The good news, the Pakistanis are cooperating quite a lot on this fight. The bad news is that al Qaeda has rebased itself in Pakistan.

COOPER: How is that possible? I mean, where is the money coming from?

ROBERTSON: Well it perhaps doesn't really need money for them to rebase there. It's sort of the ideological support within the population. If we are going to catch them, if they're going to be caught, you need the support of the community. They, the community, seemed to like al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy better than they like us, if they were there. Otherwise, they would turn them over.

COOPER: Gary Berntsen, is Pakistan the key to defeating al Qaeda?

BERNTSEN: Pakistan is the key, 160 million people. We are not all that popular in Pakistan. And there are large parts of that country that are not controlled by the central government, and it is very, very, a very profitable area for al Qaeda and the Taliban, which have a symbiotic relationship to sort of advance their interests.

COOPER: Well, Gary, the book is "Jawbreaker." And as I said, it's a great read. It's clearly a book the CIA did not want you to publish. A lot of it has been redacted. You kept in at it. It's sort of a fascinating read on what you could say and what you couldn't say.

Nic and Peter, as well, thank you very much.

A lot more ahead. When we come back, we're going to take a look again at the hunt for Osama bin Laden and what the battle is like on the ground here now, the nature of the threat that they are facing, these soldiers everyday, day in and day out. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has been a second explosion here in Manhattan at the trade center. We are getting reports that a part of the tower, the second tower, the one a bit further to the south of us has collapsed. We are checking on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, of course, when the twin towers -- you are looking at a live shot now from lower Manhattan of the tributes in light, a stark reminder of course of that terrible day. When the twin towers collapsed, nearly 3,000 people died. Amazingly, though, 20 people were buried in the rubble survived.

Janelle Guzman was the last person brought out alive from Ground Zero.

CNN's Gary Tuchman has her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have known Genelle Guzman McMillan now for five years.

(Voice-over): Meeting her for the first time after she was buried alive.

(On camera): The first time I saw you, you were in your hospital bed after surviving the collapse of the trade center tower. You look great.

GENELLE GUZMAN MCMILLAN, SURVIVED COLLAPSE OF NORTH TOWER: Thank you.

TUCHMAN: How do you feel?

MCMILLAN: I feel great. Thank God.

TUCHMAN: In the horrific hours after the terrorist attack, only 20 people trapped under the rubble were successfully rescued. Janelle was number 20.

(On camera): You were there for 27 hours, right? With no food, no water. Did you start yelling for people to come find you?

MCMILLAN: Yes. I started calling.

TUCHMAN: And no one heard you?

MCMILLAN: No one heard me on that day. By Tuesday, no one heard.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): She worked on the 64th floor of the north tower. The building collapsed when she reached Floor 13. Her head was stuck between two pillars. Her right leg had been crushed by concrete pinning her down.

Did you think you were never going to get out of there alive?

MCMILLAN: Yes. I think I was going the die when I saw that it became dark and no one came and I am not hearing any noises, nobody around. So I thought, I am not going to make it. I'm going the die here. I'm going to see myself slowly dying.

TUCHMAN: Her family thought she was dead. But then she heard sounds and the darkness gave way to light.

MCMILLAN: I put my hands through a little crack in the ceiling, like in the wall, and I felt the person hold my hand and finally found my hand, and he said, I got you. And I said, thank God.

TUCHMAN: She was rushed to the hospital, where her fiance, Roger, found her.

What did you say to her?

ROGER MCMILLAN, GENELLES' HUSBAND: I cried. We both cried.

TUCHMAN: And then what did you say?

R. MCMILLAN: Honey, what took you so long to get out?

TUCHMAN: Doctors thought they would have to amputate Genelle's leg, but after four surgeries and six weeks in the hospital, they saved it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can do one at a time if you want.

TUCHMAN: She went through painful and grueling rehab.

G. MCMILLAN: That was harder than being buried under the rubble. I mean, you know, getting to the hospital, all the surgery, trying to walk again, doing the physical therapy, it was hard. I thought I was never going to get out.

TUCHMAN: She married her fiance, had two babies, and is now back at work for the same employer she worked for in the World Trade Center, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

(On camera): Can you believe, Janelle, five years later that you survived what happened, that you were in the a collapse of a 110-story building and that you survived it? Can you believe it?

J. MCMILLAN: I can't believe it, but it's real. All I know it's real and somebody was looking out for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Follow me. Stay together.

TUCHMAN: Genelle hasn't seen the Oliver Stone movie, "World Trade Center," but says she wants to. Millions who've seen the movie, know the inspiring story of the two police officers rescued under the rubble. But some people in Genelle's office don't know the story of the woman in their midst who was rescued after those officers. Her boss says her modesty is endearing.

JIM STEVEN, PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY: Genelle is always upbeat and positive. There is always a smile on her face when she comes in in the morning, even when she goes home at the end of the day, there's the same smile.

TUCHMAN: Genelle Guzman MacMillan lost many of her office friends on September 11, 2001. Her grief is accompanied by increased faith in God, and a refusal to live in fear.

G. MCMILLAN: I love tall buildings. I always loved tall buildings, but I'm not afraid. I don't think I will be because I feel to myself that somebody is watching over me. And if it is my time to go, to depart this earth, so be it. It just wasn't my turn.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (on camera): We are standing on the northeast corner of the Ground Zero site right now. And about 100 yards away from me is where Genelle was found on September 12th. She was found 27 hours, 1:30 in the afternoon on September 12th right here on the Ground Zero side.

Thousands of people have been out here all day. They're looking at the flowers, they're looking at the artwork on the fences, and it is here in this very spot...

COOPER: Obviously, we are having some technical trouble with Gary Tuchman. They're reporting from near Ground Zero. Genelle Guzman's story is a remarkable one indeed, a small story of hope, something to hold onto on this fifth anniversary of 9/11.

You know, amazingly, there are those who believe that a plane never hit the Pentagon. A lot of conspiracy theories abound about a cruise missile or some sort of explosive device.

When we come back, the story of one man who has made it his mission to debunk those conspiracy theories. Next, when 360 continues live from Afghanistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You're looking at a live shot of the Pentagon, 184 lights, each light representing one of the people who died at the Pentagon or while onboard American Airlines Flight 177 that crashed into the Pentagon.

Of course, there are conspiracy theorists to this day who say that a plane never hit the Pentagon. They say it was a cruise missile. There are many different theories. One man has made it his mission to set the record straight, to debunk those theories.

Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre has his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Until now, these jerky video sequences from a Pentagon security camera were the best and only available visual record of the final seconds of American Airlines Flight 77.

But magnify the image, and in the pixels, instead of a plane some see a conspiracy.

Enter Mike Wilson, a computer animator in Escondido, California, who sees something else in the indistinct video, a way to debunk the doubters.

MIKE WILSON, COMPUTER ANIMATOR: Here I am starting my crime scene investigation. Exhibit A are the lamp poles. Five lamp poles, and all were knocked down.

MCINTYRE: Using software called Solid Works, Wilson matches up the evidence, pictures of the snapped light poles, with the flight path of the Boeing 757. It adds up.

It's what his company, Integrated Consultants, does, makes realistic computer recreations based on available evidence.

WILSON: A lot of people claim it was a missile. And of course, a missile was too small to knock down all of these lamp poles. So right away, you are starting to debunk some of the myths out there.

The security booth is important because this is where a lot of the controversy started.

MCINTYRE: Just like some of the skeptics, Wilson was puzzled. The fuzzy image looks too small to be a jetliner. Then it came to him. The security camera had a wide angle fish eye lens.

WILSON: A fish eye lens distorts things sort of like a car mirror. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. So you end up, through the fish eye lens, the jet looks very, very tiny.

MCINTYRE: Once again, calibrate the assumption, and the facts seem to fit.

What about the mocking questions on the Internet about why the lawn near the Pentagon didn't appear scorched or scarred?

WILSON: They say if a large jet hit, it should have hit the lawn, the lawn should be damaged, the spools (ph) should be gone. But if you look at the film, you can see that the jet in fact flew over the lawn. And then just barely missed the spools before hitting the wall. So there is a few more myths that were debunked right there.

MCINTYRE: And the biggest canard of all? No plane wreckage, hardly.

WILSON: Many people say there is no wreckage, and I show plenty of photos of wreckage.

MCINTYRE: Wilson labored some 300 hours on his pet project, but it's still a work in progress. He has heard the plane may have banked a little to the left, so he'd like to tweak that. And he's got more detailed technical reports on the damage inside, so he would like to show that too. But even that won't be the final word.

WILSON: A lot of people that, you know, wow, I didn't see it that before. Thank goodness, but there is a few people out there who still get upset with me. I don't think they will ever believe anything else.

MCINTYRE: Wilson said what drove me to this labor of love was the fear that some American soldier might believe some of the Internet conspiracies because they can seem so convincing. He hopes that what he believes is the truth will prevail. Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

COOPER: Well, as American Airlines Flight 77 -- I think I misspoke before, I said 177. American Airlines Flight 77.

In the 9/11 Commission wrote in great detail about how the plane hit into the Pentagon. They also had a number of recommendations about how to prevent future attacks on the United States of America.

The question is now why two years after that 9/11 Commission report, so many of the recommendations haven't been followed. We'll take a look at that. Joe Johns is keeping them honest, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It is so hard to look at.

More than two years ago the 9/11 Commission issued 41 recommendations on how to make America safer, but now two plus years on, some of the most basic of their suggestions haven't been followed up on. The question is why.

Tonight, CNN's Joe Johns is keeping them honest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sudden terror, destruction beyond imagination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out! Get out!

JOHNS: And chaos. Police, firefighters and ambulance workers rushed to the scene and found out they couldn't talk to each other. The first responders were on different frequencies and people in the buildings couldn't talk by radio to people on the street. That communication breakdown made an impossible job even harder. And there's little doubt it cost lives.

MARY FETCHET, 9/11 FAMILY MEMBER: We know it was a problem that contributed actually to my son's death on September 11th. He was in Tower Two and was told to remain in the building. And people that were actually evacuating were sent back up. And the first responders were unable to communicate.

JOHNS: Mary Fetchet's son, Brad, was killed at the World Trade Center. In her grief, she took action, pushing for the creation of the September 11 Commission. Now, two years after the commission recommended setting aside a common frequency for all first responders, it still isn't in place.

Witness Hurricane Katrina, similar problem. Fire, police, military and rescue could not talk to each other.

The former chairman of the commission said radio space or spectrum is urgently need. GOVERNOR TOM KEAN, 9/11 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: Our first responders still don't have the help they need. They still can't talk to each other in a way they could. That cost lives on 9/11. It cost lives even more lives with Katrina.

JOHNS: But the target date for actually doing that is not for another three years -- 2009. Even worse, there's still no plan to get the right radio gear for all emergency personnel.

STEVEN JONES, FIRST RESPONSE COALITION: The first responders can't communicate. They can't do the jobs that they signed up to do. They can't coordinate their efforts. That puts not only their lives in jeopardy, but also the lives of the communities that they protect in jeopardy as well.

JOHNS: It's also an issue of money. States and localities don't have the funds needed to purchase the new equipment. The bureaucratic delay has been frustrating for the 9/11 families.

FETCHET: And I can't understand why people are dragging their feet. I can't understand why they haven't embraced the 9/11 recommendations in their totality.

JOHNS: Former commission members want to see the government act sooner rather than later. We will be watching and keeping them honest.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, of course, on 9/11, United Flight 93, it was those passengers really who were the last line of defense. They are the ones who were heroes on that day and brought the plane down, averting what could have been an even greater catastrophe happening in Washington.

The country's air defense system has improved certainly since 9/11. The question is how and how much and is it enough?

CNN's David Mattingly joins us now live from Shanksville, Pennsylvania -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Anderson, a lot has changed since 9/11. As one man found out, there are some extreme measures in place and ready to go for any intruder who flies too close to the wrong place in Washington, D.C.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): In May of 2005, Troy Martin was at the controls of this single-engine Cessna, flying south from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. Somewhere along the way, he got lost and made the worst mistake of his life.

TROY MARTIN, STUDENT PILOT: At one point, one of the F-16s flew directly in front of us. And when we flew through the wake, it jarred the aircraft, like hitting a very large pothole, and that scared me, because I thought, oh, we have been shot.

MATTINGLY: Just a student pilot at the time, Martin was sitting shoulder to shoulder with a licensed pilot. But neither of the men had a clue they were heading directly for Washington, D.C. And they were unable to make radio contact with the two armed F-16s or Blackhawk helicopter, that were scrambled to intercept.

MARTIN: When I rolled out of that turn, I saw the Washington Monument, and I knew exactly at that point where we were.

MATTINGLY: On the ground, the capitol went on red alert. Thousands of people were ordered to flee from important buildings and sent running for their lives.

MARTIN: What can I do but grit my teeth, and really expected to die.

MATTINGLY: Martin had come face to face with an elaborate post 9/11 air defense system, and he was pushing it to its limits. By the time he finally made a turn to the west, he was within two miles of the White House.

What the episode revealed, according to some experts, was an air defense system that seemed to work just the way it was supposed to.

LARRY JOHNSON, AVIATION SECURITY EXPERT: The good news is we do have a better response capability, but the reality though is that we still do not have perfect security, and that may be unattainable.

MATTINGLY: Troy Martin's situation escalated because of radio communication problems. But he was in a small airplane that did not pose a catastrophic threat. It was slow enough that helicopters and fighters had time to react and assess. Some say a fast-moving jet hijacked from a nearby airport would still be difficult to stop.

JOHNSON: No one should labor under the illusion that there is a full-up system in place ready to go that covers the nation and can be in any place in two or three minutes.

MATTINGLY: Martin know he is lucky to be alive. At the moment he was taken to custody, cameras failed to catch his profound moment of relief.

JOHNSON: I kissed the tarmac. It was good to be on the ground.

MATTINGLY: But the question remains, will the nation be relieved as well if air defense systems encounter another serious threat?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (on camera): After his experience, Troy Martin says he no longer wants to be a pilot and he won't pursue that pilot's license. Instead, he's starting a new business that will help train pilots all around the country to, among other things, avoid the mistake that he made -- Anderson.

COOPER: Hmm. David Mattingly, thanks. Appreciate that report.

When we come back, the horrors of 9/11 which continue for many first responders. They say toxins released at Ground Zero have caused them health problems, life threatening health problems. We'll take a look at the evidence.

Also, before we go to break, the images and words of Photographer Joel Meyerowitz, as seen through his book "Aftermath."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VOICE OF JOEL MEYEROWITZ, "AFTERMATH: WORLD TRADE CENTER ARCHIVE": The last beam is one of those miracles of ordinary life asserting itself over the direction of the bureaucracy. Some worker down there, no one knows who, said, hey, why don't we save one of these big core columns and make it the last body out on the last day.

A chaplain came to bless it, you know, and the iron workers came and cut through it. And they floated that beam onto the truck, and then the most amazing thing happened. People just swarmed over it. And signed the beam like crazy. Everybody put their signature on it. And then a bunch of men jumped up on top, and they covered it in a black cloth and they tucked it in around the ends.

I am hoping that the humility and the devotional qualities of the people who did the work will be written in their gestures.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A live picture from lower Manhattan, the tribute in lights on this five-year anniversary.

Thousands of people who worked at Ground Zero say the effects of working there are now destroying their lives. Many are sick, some are dying, and they say it is related to the work they did at Ground Zero.

CNN's Randi Kaye investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On September 11th, 2001, hundreds of emergency responders rushed to the World Trade Center. Among them, NYPD Detectives John Walcott and Rich Volpe

RICH VOLPE, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: I remember you couldn't see your hand in front of your face, number one. I remember constantly coughing and constantly gagging.

KAYE: Now retired, they're no longer fighting to save others, they're fighting to stay alive themselves.

JOHN WALCOTT, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Right now I'm on borrowed time; 5 percent only live as long as I have.

KAYE: John is battling leukemia; Rich, severe asthma and double kidney failure. Both blame their illnesses on exposure to toxins like benzene, dioxin and asbestos at Ground Zero.

DR. STEPHEN LEVIN, MOUNT SINAI MEDICAL CENTER: I want you to breathe real deep in and out through your mouth.

KAYE: Dr. Stephen Levin heads the largest screening program for 9/11 responders at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. The center just released a study of Ground Zero workers that found 70 percent had developed respiratory problems.

LEVIN: New onset sinusitis among people who never had sinus problems before. And people who have developed asthma who never had asthma before in their lives.

DAVID WORBY, ATTORNEY: And this is a list of the cancers.

KAYE: Attorney David Worby says he has more than 8,000 clients who got sick at Ground Zero.

WORBY: It was the worst toxic waste site ever.

KAYE: Worby says more than 350 of his clients have cancer, 1,000 have severe respiratory ailments. More than 60 of them are already dead.

(On camera): Consider this, when the towers fell, all of the material used to build them and everything inside them turned to dust, which was inhaled by everyone at the scene.

WALCOTT: It took about three weeks to get a mask and then a couple of weeks later, they told us it was the wrong filter.

KAYE (voice-over): The city says it supplied more than 200,000 respirators to workers, but many chose not to wear them after the EPA declared the air in lower Manhattan safe.

CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, if there is any good news out of all this, it's that everything we've tested for, which includes asbestos, lead and VOCs, have been below any level of concern for the general public health. Obviously for those who are down here, these are very important.

WORBY: 50,000 people worked around the clock trying to do some good with a government told them the air is safe and the water is safe and you are going to be OK, and now they are sick and dying.

KAYE: But could his clients' cancers really be connected to Ground Zero? Worby says he's done his own research and suggests the unique combination of toxic materials has accelerated the formation of cancers.

(On camera): Based on your expertise, how long after exposure do you think it would take for someone to develop cancer?

LEVIN: In most cancer periods, that latency period, that delay is more often 20 and 25 years. Is it possible that we could be seeing something in the World Trade Center mix of exposures that could accelerate that? It would really violate our understanding of the biology of cancer, but we can't close our minds to the possibility.

KAYE (voice-over): Rich remains focused on staying strong and praying a healthy kidney comes his way.

And John, after six months of chemotherapy, his leukemia is in remission. The days of coaching high school hockey are over. He is too weak. So instead, he skates the ice with his daughter. In the face of death, family is top priority.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: When we come back, we continue live from Afghanistan. The war on terror here continues. The fight, very real, day in and day out. When we come back, my "Reporters Notebook."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Soldiers from the Bravo Company, Third Brigade, 10th Mountain Division facing the border with Pakistan, guarding this base 24 hours a day. Thee mission very real here. The battle intensifying over these last two months or so. And likely to intensify in the coming months as well.

We have been trying to get as big a sense of the story as possible. It of course, Afghanistan is such a big country, it is so spread out. We tried to get cameras in as many places as possible. We've been followed around in the last several days by a photographer from Geddy Images, Brent Sturdon (ph), who's been taking pictures of us as we work behind the scenes.

Here are some of his pictures with some of my "Reporter's Notebook."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): A few minutes after we landed in Kabul, there was a suicide attack. When we got to scene, they were hosing down the street. I didn't understand why at first, but then I saw there were chunks of flesh all over the ground.

There are moments here it feels like Iraq. At the hotel where we stay there are guards and bomb checks. All of us have to wear bulletproof vests.

When we drove outside Kabul, we hired a half dozen armed guards. When we stopped for lunch, one of them carried his propelled rocket propelled grenade to the table just in case.

(On camera): No matter how much time you spend here, you only feel like you are getting glimpses, a furtive glance at what life is really like.

(Voice-over): Women in burkas pass you by, avoiding your glances, refusing to talk. There have been elections and progress, openness unheard of under the Taliban. You can buy CDs and perfume. There's even a western-style mall where young men dress up in their finest clothes. None of it seems stable, however. None of it seems permanent.

In Jalalabad we found what was once Osama bin Laden's home, headquarters for al Qaeda. Now it's empty. Mud walls, dirt floors, all of it fading into dust.

At times, it feels like this is a land of dust. The old, the young, generations have come and gone, countless wars, endless conflicts. In the end, they, us, everyone, everything blows away with the wind. In the end, in Afghanistan, only these mountains, this land remains.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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