Rare Photos Show George Bush’s Reaction Inside White House Bunker During 9/11


Chilling photographs capture the moment of horror within the White House as the September 11 terrorist attacks unfolded 17 years ago.

The images show President George W Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice among other government staff as they meet to discuss and respond to the costliest attack on US soil in history, in which almost 3,000 people died.

US National Archives/Flickr

In the photos, President Bush looks tense as he converses with top officials in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a highly-secure bunker situated below the East Wing, which can withstand nuclear hits and ‘other devastating attacks’.

Then first lady Laura Bush, Cheney’s wife, Lynne Cheney, and other senior government officials including CIA Director George Tenet, Dick Cheney’s lawyer, David Addington and Chief of Staff Andrew Card also feature in the photographs.

US National Archives/Flickr

The photos were taken by the vice president’s staff photographer and were captured shortly before President Bush’s famous address to the nation, which was aired to record numbers worldwide.

When the planes hit, it was Cheney who was in charge of the White House, while George Bush was present at a school in Sarasota, Florida, where he was filmed receiving the devastating news.

US National Archives/Flickr

The majority of the photos were taken within a secure basement within the White House and were released through a Freedom of Information request by the documentarian Colette Neirouz Hanna, whose work with PBS has focused on the Bush administration.

US National Archives
september 11 2001 white house imagesUS National Archives

The US National Archives released the images in a Flickr album which is available to view here.

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