06/19/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Secret History: What Happened Inside The Pentagon After Being Struck On 9/11

His own building was burning. Lower Manhattan, too. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld knew little else about what was happening to America as he huddled with his brain trust near the National Military Command Center, deep inside the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

When word had first started to circulate about a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York, Joint Staff officers at the Pentagon grew anxious. When a second plane struck, there was no doubt about it--a terrorist attack was underway. Then came something even more unthinkable: a huge explosion on the western side of the Pentagon, followed by a massive inferno. The nation's military headquarters was under attack, too.

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