Former SWFL congressman recalls being in DC on 9/11

Reporter: Chris Cifatte Writer: Derrick Shaw
Porter Goss. Credit: WINK News.

For a lot of us this week, the memories of 9/11 will come flooding back — the personal moments, pictures we can’t forget and the emotions.

The same holds true for one of our neighbors in Southwest Florida, who was also one of our representatives in Washington D.C. that day, 20 years ago.

Porter Goss, who was then a congressional representative and later head of the CIA had a lot of the same questions we all had.

β€œAre there any other planes coming in?” Goss said. β€œDo you think the Capitol is going to be the next target?”

The questions the rest of us only hoped someone was trying to answer.

β€œOh my gosh, if there’s another airliner out there, do we shoot it down? Or do we not? Do we, you know, are innocent people, more collateral damage, going to happen to save other people?”

Was our government still functioning to protect us?

β€œAnd the answer was not working very well,” Goss said. β€œI can tell you we were caught sound asleep in my view.”

β€œIt was a confusing, unbelievable day,” Goss said. β€œMy day went from trying to look out for the protection of people immediately around me, my staff, my family, visitors in Washington. We got, as you know, told to leave our offices. We had to close the Capitol. People didn’t have any place to go because the police wouldn’t let us off the hill.”

β€œSo here you have a bunch of people you’ve told to evacuate. You put out into the open space and say, β€˜Oh you’re on your own,’” Goss said.

Even though we know so much more now about what happened, Goss says there are some lessons we’re forgetting.

“Their banner says ‘We love death more than life’. They’re not going away,” Goss said.

Goss remembers the moments and the lessons and strength that can come from the fear and uncertainty.

“There is no question that we had no concept of what was happening. That we were running around like chickens in the courtyard after the first planes went in, and we thought we might get hit in Washington, and the Pentagon got hit. Then, the plane went down in Shanksville,” Goss said. β€œI’m convinced that plane was aimed for the United States Congress because it’s an easier building target than the White House was.”

“Are we gonna get hit again? And what’s it gonna look like?” Goss said.

Goss told us marking 20 years since 9/11 should remind us that there is evil in the world. Good people, he says, sometimes give evil too many chances to succeed.

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