9/11 Attack FactsOn the morning of September 11th, terrorists hijacked four planes at Boston's Logan airport. Their goal was to cripple the U.S. economy by destroying its centers of power: Wall Street, the Pentagon and the White House. The first two planes successfully hit their targets: American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into Tower One of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am, and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into Tower Two at 9:03 am. By 10:05 am, millions of television viewers saw Tower Two collapse, and Tower One follow it at 10:28 am. Tower 7 collapsed at 5:20 pm.
Meanwhile, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 AM. The building collapsed at 10:10 am.
The terrorists planned to fly United Airlines Flight 93 into a key U.S. target like the Capitol building or White House. At 9:23 am, after the World Trade Tower crashed, dispatcher Ed Ballinger texted all flights he was following, including Flight 93, "Beware any cockpit intrusion two a/c hit World Trade Center." Five minutes later, the terrorists killed the pilots and took control of the plan. By that time, at least 10 of the passengers had talked to loved ones via cell phone, and knew of the World Trade Tower attacks and their probable fate. At 9:57, the brave passengers attacked the terrorists. Flight 93 crashed into the fields of Pennsylvania at 10:03 am, killing all 30 people aboard.
9/11 Death TollNearly 2,600 people died at the World Trade Center, 125 died at the Pentagon and 256 died on the four planes. The total death toll of 2,975 surpassed that at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. (Source: 9/11 Commission Report; CBS News, "Official 9/11 Death Toll Climbs by One," September 10, 2009)
2001 RecessionThe stock market closed for four trading days after the attacks, the first time since the Great Depression. (In March 1933, President Roosevelt closed the markets for two days, as part of a bank holiday to prevent a run on the banks.) The stock market reopened on September 17, 2001. The Dow promptly fell 7.13%, closing at 8,920.70. The 617.78 point loss was the Dow's worst one-day drop ever.
The 9/11 attacks aggravated the 2001 recession, which started in March 2001. The economy had contracted 1.3% in the first quarter, but had bounced up 2.7% in the second quarter. The attacks made the economy contract 1.1% in the third quarter, extending the recession. The 2001 recession was caused by the Y2K scare, which created a boom and subsequent bust in internet businesses.
Although the recession was officially over by November 2001, threats of war drove the Dow down for another year, until October 9, 2002, when it closed at 7,286.27, a 37.8% decline from its peak. No one knew for sure if the bull market had begun until the Dow hit a higher low on March 11, 2003, closing at 7,524.06. Unemployment continued to climb until June 2003, when it reached 6% -- the peak for that recession.
War on TerrorOn September 20, President Bush called for the War on Terror. In his speech, he said “Americans should not expect one battle but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.” Then he put it into action.
Bush launched the War in Afghanistan to find and bring to justice Osama bin Laden, the head of the al-Quada organization that master-minded the 9/11 attacks. The Afghan War did not cost much initially –- $20 billion, plus $13 billion to launch Homeland Security. However, on March 21, 2003, President Bush sent troops into Iraq. He said the CIA had found weapons of mass destruction, and that Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, was aiding Al Qaeda operatives. In its first year, the War in Iraq cost twice as much as the one in Afghanistan -- $50 billion compared to $30 billion for FY 2003. And the costs kept mounting. By the end of Bush's term in office, the War on Terror cost $864.82 billion. This was in addition to increased Defense Department and Homeland Security spending.
President Obama increased spending for the War on Terror, although he didn't call it that. In just three years he requested $477 billion –- more than half the actual Bush "War on Terror" initiative that lasted eight years. The total War on Terror costs have been more than $1.3 trillion. This doesn't count all defense and security spending, which was $851 billion for FY 2013 alone.