Dick Cheney after 9/11
US Vice President Dick Cheney puts a foot up as the World Trade Center's twin towers blaze. US National Archives/Reuters

New photographs of US leaders during the hours after 9/11 have been released by the US National Archives.

The most striking image (above) shows Vice President Dick Cheney with a foot up on his desk as he watches the Twin Towers belching smoke on TV. Another photograph shows Cheney clutching his head as he makes a fraught telephone call (see below).

Other images show an anxious former President George Bush Jr formulating strategy after the attack. Also prominent in the collection are former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, as well as worried aides.

The images were shot inside the White House by Cheney's staff photographer, according to the US Public Broadcasting Service. Many of them were taken in the Emergency Operations Centre, a secure underground bunker below the White House's East Wing, which is claimed to be able to withstand a nuclear attack.

The photographs were released by the National Archives after a Freedom of Information Act request by filmmaker Colette Neirouz Hanna.

The 9/11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, with most deaths resulting from attacks using hijacked passenger jets on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

Cheney and "Scooter" Libby
Cheney clutches his head watched by Chief of Staff I Lewis "Scooter" Libby and concerned aides. US National Archives/Reuters
9/11: Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell
A troubled Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell in the bunker. US National Archives/Reuters
9/11  Bush and aides
An anxious President Bush surrounded by his senior staff. US National Archives/Reuters