It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Originally posted by CatHerder
If there was a 'big event' tomorrow (terrorist attack, natural disaster, etc) would your President being physically in the White House make any difference? I don't see how.
Once he was out of the classroom, did Bush immediately leave Booker? No. He stayed in the adjacent room with his staff, calling Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice, and preparing a speech. [Telegraph, 12/16/01, St. Petersburg Times 9/8/02] Incredibly, even as uncertain information began to surface, suggesting that more planes had been hijacked (eventually 11 planes would be suspected) [CBS, 9/11/02], Bush was allowed to make his remarks at 9:30 - exactly the time and place stated on his advance schedule. [Federal News Service, 9/10/01, see the transcript of his speech here] Why hasn't Bush's security staff been criticized for their completely inexplicable decision to stay at the school? And why didn't Bush's concern for the children extend to not making them and the rest of the 200 or so people at the school terrorist targets?
At 9:16, NORAD was notified that Flight 93 had been hijacked, and at 9:24 it was notified that Flight 77 had also been hijacked and was heading toward Washington (though, as discussed above, the hijacking was known long before this). [NORAD, 9/18/01] No media report has suggested that the possible shooting down of hijacked airplanes was discussed at this time, however. It appears the discussion was not broached until after 9:55. [Washington Post, 1/27/02, CBS, 9/11/02] At about 9:26, it was either FAA head Jane Garvey or FAA administrator Ben Sliney (and not Bush) who decided to halt all airplane takeoffs in the US. [Time, 9/14/01, USA Today, 8/13/02] Additionally, no evidence has appeared suggesting Bush had a role in ordering any fighters into the skies.
By 9:35, Bush's motorcade was ready to take him to the Sarasota airport where Air Force One was waiting. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] At 9:37, Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Bush was informed as his motorcade got near the airport. (Apparently Bush could be reached by phone in his limousine at this time.) [Washington Times, 10/8/02, Telegraph, 12/16/01] The motorcade arrived around 9:43 and pulled up close to Air Force One. Security conducted an extra-thorough search of all the baggage for the other passengers, delaying takeoff until 9:55. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B)]
A year later, Chief of Staff Andrew Card recalled that, "As we were heading to Air Force One... [we] learned, what turned out to be a mistake, but we learned that the Air Force One package could in fact be a target." [MSNBC, 9/9/02] This echoes the report mentioned above that "terrorists targeted the president and Air Force One... maybe even while they were on the ground in Sarasota ..." [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/16/01] This only increases the strangeness that Bush wasn't immediately evacuated at 9:03 as some of his security had recommended.
Bush spoke by telephone to Cheney as the motorcade raced to the airport. [St. Petersburg Times 9/8/02] Supposedly, during this call Bush issued an order to ground all flights within the country. [Sarasota Magazine, 11/01] The FAA did shut down the nationwide air traffic system at around 9:45. [MSNBC, 9/22/01, CNN, 9/12/01, New York Times, 9/12/01, Newsday, 9/10/02, Washington Post, 9/12/01] But other reports state that it was FAA administrator Ben Sliney who made the decision without consulting anyone. [USA Today, 8/13/02, USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] For some time it was claimed that Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta had made the decision, but it was later revealed that Mineta didn't even know of the order until 15 minutes later. Apparently, "FAA officials had begged [the reporter] to maintain the fiction." [Slate, 4/2/02] The idea that Bush made the decision is even less plausible. In fact, there is no evidence at all to suggest that Bush had by this point made even one decision relevant to his security or that of the country.
Air Force One took off at either 9:55 or 9:57 a.m. [CNN, 9/12/01, New York Times, 9/12/01, Telegraph, 12/16/01, CBS, 9/11/02, Washington Post, 9/12/01, Washington Post, 1/27/02, AP, 9/12/01] Communications Director Dan Bartlett remembered, "It was like a rocket. For a good ten minutes, the plane was going almost straight up." [CBS, 9/11/02]
But, incredibly, Air Force One took off without any military fighter protection. This defies all explanation. Recall that at 9:03 a.m., one of Bush's security people said, "We're out of here. Can you get everyone ready?" [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02] Certainly, long before Bush left the elementary school at 9:35 a.m., arrangements would have been made to get fighters to Sarasota as soon as possible. Not only would it have been advisable to protect Air Force One, but it would have been only sensible as another way to protect Bush on the ground from terrorist attack even before he left the school. In Florida, there were two bases said to have fighters on 24-hour alert, capable of getting airborne in approximately five minutes. Homestead Air Station, 185 miles from Sarasota, and Tyndall Air Station, 235 miles from Sarasota; both had the highest readiness status on 9/11. Presumably, as happened at other bases across the country, just after 9:03, base commanders throughout Florida would have immediately begun preparations to get their fighters ready. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Fighters left bases on the same alert status and traveled similar distances to reach Washington, DC, well before 10:00, so why were the fighters delayed in Florida? [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02]
Military planes should have been over Sarasota by the time Bush left Booker at 9:35 a.m. Yet, as will be described below, more than one hour after Air Force One took off, there were still no fighters protecting it!
An administration official claimed, "The object seemed to be simply to get the President airborne and out of the way." [Telegraph, 12/16/01] But without fighter cover this makes little sense, because the sky was arguably more dangerous than the ground. At the time, there were still over 3,000 planes in the air over the US [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)], including about half of the planes in the region of Florida where Bush was. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/7/02] Recall, too, that the Secret Service learned of a threat to Bush and Air Force One "just minutes after Bush left Booker Elementary." Karl Rove, also on Air Force One, confirmed that a dangerous threat was known before the plane took off: "They also made it clear they wanted to get us up quickly, and they wanted to get us to a high altitude, because there had been a specific threat made to Air Force One.... A declaration that Air Force One was a target, and said in a way that they called it credible." [New Yorker, 10/1/01]
Once he was airborne, Bush talked to Cheney again and Cheney recommended that Bush "order our aircraft to shoot down these airliners that have been hijacked." [CBS, 9/11/02] "I said, 'You bet,'" Bush later recalled. 'We had a little discussion, but not much.'" [Newsday, 9/23/01, USA Today, 9/16/01, Washington Post, 1/27/02] However, even though only Bush had the authority to order a passenger plane shot down [CNN, 10/26/99], the order was apparently given before Bush discussed it with Cheney. One flight commander recalled, "After the Pentagon was hit, we were told there were more [airliners] coming. Not 'might be'; they were coming." A call from someone in the White House declared the Washington area "a free-fire zone," meaning, according to one of the responding fighter pilots, "we were given authority to use force, if the situation required it." [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02]
Extraordinary times can demand extraordinary measures, so having someone other than Bush give this order could be understandable. But Bush was available and talking to people like Cheney after 9:30 a.m. Around this time, officials feared that as many as 11 airliners had been hijacked [CBS, 9/11/02], so why weren't Bush and Cheney even considering this course of action until about 10:00 a.m.? Was Bush being kept out of the loop in reality, or only in the media reports?
Is the lateness of this discussion merely political spin to reduce speculation that Flight 93 had been shot down? Flight 93 was still in the air after the Bush authorization, and fighters were given orders to shoot it down if necessary. [ABC News, 9/11/02] NORAD knew at 9:16 a.m. that Flight 93 was hijacked [NORAD, 9/18/01], but supposedly fighters weren't scrambled until minutes before it crashed at 10:06 a.m.
Shortly after takeoff, Cheney apparently informed Bush of "a credible threat" to Air Force One. [AP, 9/13/01 (D)] US Representative Adam Putnam "had barely settled into his seat on Air Force One ... when he got the news that terrorists apparently had set their sights on the plane." [Orlando Sentinel, 9/14/01] The Secret Service had received an anonymous call: "Air Force One is next." The caller allegedly knew the agency's code words relating to Air Force One procedures. Pilot Colonel Mark Tillman was told of the threat and he asked that an armed guard be stationed at the cockpit door. The Associated Press reported that the threat came "within the same hour" as the Pentagon crash (i.e., before 10:00 a.m., roughly when the plane took off). [AP, 9/13/01 (D)] Details suggest this threat was not the same as the earlier one, but it's hard to know for sure.
In his comments at Booker, Bush said he was immediately flying back to Washington, but soon after takeoff, he, Cheney and the Secret Service began arguing whether it was safe to fly back to the capital. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Andrew Card told Bush, "We've got to let the dust settle before we go back." [St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02] The plane apparently stayed over Sarasota until the argument was settled. Accounts differ, but until about 10:35 a.m. [CBS, 9/11/02 (B), Washington Post, 1/27/02], Air Force One "appeared to be going nowhere. The journalists on board – all of whom were barred from communicating with their offices – sensed that the plane was flying in big, slow circles." [Telegraph, 12/16/01]
Cheney apparently called Bush again at 10:32 a.m., and told him of another threat to Air Force One. Within minutes, the argument was over, and the plane turned away from Washington and flew to Louisiana instead. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Bush recalled: "I wanted to come back to Washington, but the circumstances were such that it was just impossible for the Secret Service or the national security team to clear the way for Air Force One to come back." [CBS, 9/11/02] Given that the rocket-like takeoff was due to a threat, this must have been another threat, possibly even a third threat.
Around 10:55 a.m., there was yet another threat to Air Force One. The pilot, Colonel Mark Tillman, said he was warned that a suspect airliner was dead ahead. "Coming out of Sarasota there was one call that said there was an airliner off our nose that they did not have contact with." Tillman took evasive action, pulling his plane even higher above normal traffic. [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] Reporters on board noticed the rise in elevation. [Dallas Morning News, 8/28/02, Salon, 9/12/01] The report was apparently a false alarm, but it shows the folly of having Bush fly without a fighter escort.
Originally posted by James the Lesser
Yet he is a god to the south/racist/GOP, sad.