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Briant, Chuck (Charles)

9/11 Pentagon Attack Oral History

"You hope that nothing like this will ever happen again, but the world being what it is, there are no guarantees."

Date of Interview: 11 April 2002

Interviewer: CAPT Michael McDaniel, USNR, Navy Combat Documentation Detachment 206

At the time of the attack, Mr. Briant was working as the NCIS Liaison to the OPNAV (CNO) staff where he also provided support to N3/N5.  On the morning of the attack, he had a few meetings at the Navy Command Center at the Pentagon before leaving for a meeting at NCIS headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard. 

Oral History Summary:
Following meetings with the Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI) and the OPNAV N3/N5 staff at the Navy Command Center at the Pentagon, Mr. Briant headed to the Washington Navy Yard for meetings at the NCIS headquarters. He had just arrived when the attacks on New York City began. At that point, Mr. Briant called the Navy Command Center and spoke with Dan Shanower. Within five minutes of the end of that call, by Mr. Briant’s estimation, Dan Shanower and many of the others Mr. Briant had been in meetings with earlier that day were gone. At the Washington Navy Yard, Mr. Briant and others worked to set up a mini command center with communications for the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and Admiral Keating (N3/N5), who had all come to the Washington Navy Yard following the attack. He spent the rest of the day focused on what he could do to support them.

Late that night, after reporting to the Navy Annex, Admiral Porterfield, Director of Naval Intelligence, expressed concerns about the classified materials that would have been left unattended in the Navy Command Center following the attack. Shortly before dawn the following morning, Mr. Briant entered the damage zone to potentially identify and retrieve unsecured sensitive material. He subsequently entered again later that day. On that day and the days following, he was tasked with observing and reporting to Admirals Keating and Porterfield on the work of the criminal investigators at the scene. Mr. Briant was able to gain access to the Navy Command Center by offering his assistance and knowledge of the layout to investigators. He and other members of his NCIS team worked on accounting for the personnel who were lost in the attack.

In his oral history, Mr. Briant reflected on what might have been had he stayed behind at the Pentagon that morning. He also talked at length about the working relationships he had with those that died in the Navy Command Center. He went through how it felt to know that many of the personnel he’d seen that morning were gone. He also discussed the emotional struggles that the first responders were inevitably dealing with, and the assistance offered by the Chaplains. He also discussed the impacts of the attack on the intelligence community and his personal plans for the future.

Content Warnings: Sensitive Content

Oral History Abstract and Transcript: Briant, Charles Pentagon Attack Oral History (PDF, 474kb)

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Published: Thu Jun 10 17:31:26 EDT 2021