If You Want To Humble An Empire

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LYLE OWERKO / POLARIS

(9 of 20)

Senator Robert Byrd, the Senate's president pro tempore and fourth in line to the presidency, was put in a chauffeured car and driven to a safe house, as were Speaker Dennis Hastert and other congressional leaders. There were rumors flying that the fourth plane, the one that went down in Pennsylvania, had been headed for the Capitol or Camp David. The safe houses are scattered throughout the Washington, northern Virginia and southern Maryland area. The Secret Service has similar safe houses where they can take the Vice President and other top Administration officials as well. They are homes, offices, in some cases even fire stations, that have secure phones so that the leaders can still communicate.

By 11 A.M., the streets in Washington were gridlocked with people trying to get out. In a place that doesn't tend to carpool, co-workers had stuffed themselves into available vehicles. Both the 14th Street Bridge and Arlington Memorial Bridge, leading to Virginia and past the Pentagon, had been closed, as were the airports and Union Station. On the corner of Constitution Avenue and 14th Street, day-care workers from the Ronald Reagan Building clutched frightened toddlers into a tight bunch. Hysteria was gripping the city: senior generals at the Pentagon phoned children and other relatives, warning them not to drink tap water for the next 36 hours. They feared reservoirs might be poisoned.

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was flying back to the U.S. from Switzerland when his airliner was ordered to turn back. He reached vice chairman Roger Ferguson by phone as soon as he could, and Ferguson coordinated contacts with Reserve banks and Governors both in Washington and around the country. The goal: to make sure U.S. banks would keep functioning.

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