'Today is Pearl Harbor': George W. Bush Presidential Library releases White House emails from 9/11

George W. Bush addresses the nation on 9/11
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

"Turn on CNN."

The email arrived at 8:56 a.m. on September 11, 2001, sent from Tucker Eskew, the director of the White House media affairs office, to three of his colleagues. Eskew's command marks one of the first responses on what would become a day of incomprehension, horror, and grief for staffers of the White House — recorded in detail in the emails passed back and forth between friends, colleagues, and family. Now, at the request of The New York Times, a limited selection of those emails has been cleared by the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and are available to read, recalling the reactions on a day that began a new era of American history, 14 years ago on Friday:

9:20 a.m. — "Today is Pearl Harbor."Mary Matalin, the counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney, receives this from David Horowitz, a conservative writer.9:23 a.m. — "Strength to You."Joshua B. Bolten, a deputy chief of staff, receives this from Dan Price, a colleague. [The New York Times]

From later that night:

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5:07 p.m. — "Unbelievable. Just got back into the White House, after having been in the 'bunker' all afternoon."[White House aide Clay] Johnson replies to his sister.5:28 p.m. — "Are you feeling secure there?"Mr. Johnson's sister answers.5:31 p.m. — "If it's safe enough for the president to return to, it's safe enough for me."Mr. Johnson responds. [The New York Times]

Read more of the emails over at The New York Times.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at TheWeek.com. She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.