Top officials in the U.S. military chain of command consistently failed to exercise authority during the period of the actual attacks from 8:20 a.m. to 10:06 a.m. on September 11, 2001.
1. President George W. Bush: In the 45 minutes after the first attack (8:46 a.m.), Bush and a large entourage of White House staff, including Secret Service personnel and members of the Situation Room staff, proceeded with a planned visit to the Emma Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. Much of this occasion was broadcast live on local and national television. Bush later said he thought the first attack was an accident, when he learned of it at 8:55 a.m., although this was at least 17 minutes after the FAA had informed NORAD that Flight 11 had been hijacked. At 9:05 a.m., while listening to children read in a classroom, he was informed of the second crash in a three-second whisper from his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. Card has repeatedly claimed he said, “A second plane has hit the Towers. America is under attack.” Bush did not ask for a clarification, and no one on his staff moved to activate a response. Multiple video documentations of the event show the president remained seated for at least seven minutes, and in the classroom for up to 13 minutes after 9:05 a.m. A full investigation would determine answers to the following: When was the White House entourage informed about the hijackings? What is the significance of Bush’s later public statements, on two occasions, saying he had seen the first crash on television? (The only known footage of the first crash at 8:46 a.m. was not made available by the media until many hours after the attacks.) After the second crash (9:03 a.m.), why didn’t the staff act then to protect the commander-in-chief and arrange for him to exercise decision-making authorities during a national emergency? A withdrawal from the schoolroom could have been easily effected without disturbing the children, yet Bush was allowed to stay in the room and listen to children read for a period of up to 13 minutes. Was there no concern for the President’s safety, given that “America was under attack”? Who directed the Secret Service to keep the entourage in the school until Bush’s brief statement of 9:32 a.m., which was broadcast nationally? Was the presidential staff not informed about the third flight by then hurtling towards its target in Washington, DC? The conduct of Bush and the entourage in the school, during the decisive period of the actual attacks, is in marked contrast to the rapid movements across the country during the rest of the day, when the attacks had been concluded, and to reports from the White House in subsequent days (later retracted) that Air Force One itself had been a target of the attacks. (For a complete treatment of news stories and other documentations of the above, see “An Interesting Day: President Bush’s Movements and Actions on 9/11” by Allan Wood and Paul Thompson, at cooperativeresearch.org)
2. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: On hearing of the first and second plane crashes, Rumsfeld continued with a lecture to members of Congress, and then took a private briefing until the Pentagon itself was hit (see, for example, statements by Rumsfeld on “Larry King Live” (CNN, 12/5/01); and Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke (WBZ Boston, 9/15/01)). Rumsfeld has said he then went to the part of the building that had been struck, to assist in rescue efforts.
a. At 9:46 a.m., the National Military Command Center (“NMCC”) at the Pentagon was still trying to locate both Rumsfeld and General Myers for a crisis meeting, according to the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 38). The report presents no evidence Rumsfeld was involved in decision-making before 10:30 a.m. Asked about Rumsfeld’s apparent lack of response in his capacity as Secretary of Defense until about 25 minutes after the final crash, Commission Vice-Chairman Hamilton told a reporter, “I’m not going to answer that question,” and turned away (Gail Sheehy, Mother Jones, 7/7/04).
b. On June 1, 2001, Rumsfeld signed on to a revision of previous procedures for interception of errant flights, which specified for the first time that cases of potential intercept orders for errant flights are to be forwarded “to the Secretary of Defense for approval.” (CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF INSTRUCTION, J-3 CJCSI 3610.01A) This goes unmentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report. A full investigation must determine what effect, if any, this revision had on actual practice after June 1, and on September 11 itself; and whether the order makes Rumsfeld culpable for his absence from command and authority as Secretary of Defense during the decisive time of the attacks.
c. In public testimony under oath before the Kean Commmission on March 23, 2004, Rumsfeld reiterated previous statements that he “had no idea hijacked airliners would be used as weapons” and concluded with the statement, “I plead ignorance.” This gives rise to suspicion, given the many warnings of an attack of this nature in the years and weeks leading up to September 11 and the Pentagon MASCAL (mass casualty) action of October 24, 2000, a live emergency response exercise simulating the crash of an airliner into the Pentagon. Was Rumsfeld not informed about the MASCAL drill by his predecessor, Defense Secretary William Cohen? Was he also unaware of the warnings and the President’s Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001 entitled “BIN LADIN DETERMINED TO STRIKE IN U.S.”? (See, Appendix B3, online at www.Justicefor911.org; and the Army news service report on the MASCAL exercises, online at www.mdw.army.mil/news/Contingency_Planning.html)
3. Gen. Richard Myers: Myers was the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the attacks (in the absence of Gen. Hugh Shelton, who was on a transatlantic flight). Myers has said that after hearing of the first WTC crash, he thought it was an accident. This gives rise to suspicion, given the many warnings of an attack of this nature and the Pentagon MASCAL (mass casualty) action of October 2000 (see, Appendix B-3, online). Was Myers unaware of the warnings, the President’s Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001, or the MASCAL exercise of the previous year?
a. According to his own reported statements and as confirmed in an exchange with Sen. Max Cleland at the Senate hearings of 9/13/04, Myers after hearing of the first plane crash (8:46 a.m.) proceeded to enter a meeting at the Capitol offices of Sen. Cleland. He has said he did not learn of the second attack until coming out of the meeting, just moments before the Pentagon was hit (at 9:38 a.m.).
b. Myers’s statements go uncontested in the 9/11 Commission Report, but conflict directly with those of Richard Clarke in the book Against All Enemies (2004). Clarke on page 5 of his book places Myers in a teleconference on the crisis, surrounded by generals and colonels and specifically talking about a wargame codenamed “Vigilant Warrior.” According to Clarke this was at 9:28 a.m. (one of the few precise times specified by Clarke in his account). Clarke quotes Myers as follows: “Not a pretty picture, Dick. We are in the middle of Vigilant Warrior, a NORAD exercise, but … Otis has launched two birds toward New York. Langley is trying to get two up now [toward Washington]. The AWACS are at Tinker and not on alert.” [Ellipsus in the original. A full investigation would determine whether this ellipsus was the result of a redaction by CIA or White House readers who cleared the book for publication, and would determine the content of the redacted material and its further implications. Note also that if Clarke’s account is true, Myers is showing he was aware of interception attempts prior to the Pentagon attack, contrary to his testimony to the Senate two days later, see, Appendix A1.]
4. General Montague Winfield, director of the National Military Command Center (“NMCC”) at the Pentagon: On the evening of September 10, Winfield arranged to be relieved of his scheduled shift at the NMCC on the next morning from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. This (and the further absence during most of that period of Rumsfeld, Myers and Bush) left his rookie second in command, then Capt. Joseph Leidig, in control of national crisis management at the NMCC during the two hours of the actual attacks.
a. In a written statement released by the Kean Commission prior to the testimony of Joseph Leidig on June 17, 2004, Leidig wrote: “On 10 September 2001, Brigadier General Winfield, U.S. Army, asked that I stand a portion of his duty as Deputy Director for Operations, NMCC, on the following day. I agreed and relieved Brigadier General Winfield at 0830 on 11 September 2001.” Gen. Winfield was originally scheduled to testify before the Kean Commission on June 17, 2004, but canceled shortly beforehand. [Note: According to Lt. Col. Dawne Deskins of NEADS, the FAA Boston Center informed NORAD of the Flight 11 diversion at 8:31 a.m. (ABCNEWS, 9/11/02); according to the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 32), the alert to NEADS was at 8:38 a.m.]
b. A full investigation would determine whether Gen. Winfield was aware of the warning allegedly received by “top Pentagon brass” on “the night before the attacks, causing some” of them “to cancel a trip,” as reported by Newsweek two weeks consecutively (Newsweek, 9/13/01 and 9/20/01). A full investigation would also determine whether Gen. Winfield was aware of other advance warnings of imminent attack and of the Pentagon MASCAL exercise of October, 2000 (see, Appendix B3, online), and would question Gen. Winfield about why he decided on short notice to have himself relieved from command for two hours from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on September 11.
c. In a Times-Discovery Channel documentary of 2002 (“The Pentagon Attack,”) Gen. Winfield is seen in a videotaped interview describing how part of the attacks were experienced at the NMCC, also speaking on the process of determining the fate of Flight 93 after its crash at 10:06 a.m., as though he had been present. Was Gen. Winfield actually present at the NMCC at any point between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on September 11, and if so, was he exercising his command authority?
5. Many of the above facts appear at various points in the 9/11 Commission Report, especially in Chapter 1, but are not presented in an associated fashion. When combined, they strongly suggest the possibility of a cumulative and deliberate abdication of responsibility by key high officials during the time of the actual 9/11 attacks. A full investigation would closely scrutinize this collective failure to exercise authorities and duties, and consider the probable-cause circumstantial case that this was, in fact, the result of foreknowledge about attack details and/or motivated by a desire to avoid responsibility for the consequences of the events.
6. A full investigation would also closely scrutinize the roles on September 11 of:
a. Vice-President Richard Cheney, the highest civilian official who apparently was “in the loop” during the duration of the 9/11 attacks;
b. Gens. Ralph Eberhart and Larry Arnold, the commanders of NORAD on September 11 and highest military officials who were apparently “in the loop”;
c. Capt. Leidig at the NMCC, who assumed command there almost exactly at the time the military became aware of the attacks, according to official accounts;
d. Officials at the FAA such as Benjamin Sliney, then FAA National Operations Manager, who was on his first day at that position;
e. A full investigation would also scrutinize roles played by any and all of the above-named and other civilian and military officials in the planning and execution of the multiple air defense wargames conducted on the morning of September 11, 2001 (see, Appendix A1).
f. A full investigation would also specifically attempt to determine whether the above-named persons were aware of, or should have been aware, of the variety of indicators and warnings that aerial attacks would be staged by suicide pilots within the United States in the period leading up to September 11, 2001 (see, Appendix B3, online).
7. In May 2001, Cheney took charge of a counterterrorism task force under his purview. On September 11, he was the highest official involved in a command capacity during the period of the actual attacks. At an as-yet unspecified time after the first plane crash at 8:46 a.m., open phone-lines were established between the White House (where Cheney and Transportation Secretary Mineta were present), the Secret Service, FAA and NORAD (FAA, 5/21/03; Cheney on NBC, 9/16/01). The 9/11 Commission Report presents only short and highly selective passages from transcripts of these conversations. An investigation would if necessary issue subpoenas to obtain these transcripts and examine them towards clarifying the actual sequence of events and command structures for both: the pre-scheduled wargames and the defense response to the unfolding attacks.
(Forward to PAKISTANI ISI.)