The President’s Actions on September 11

One of the most important aspects of the 9/11 attack is the behavior of the President and top members of his Administration before, during and after the attacks.

Although the attack has received intense media scrutiny in nearly all of its aspects, very little has ever been mentioned about the President’s strange actions on that day, that have been viewed by many as suspicious in the extreme. Yet the silence of the American media on the subject has given rise to even more negative speculations.

Just prior to the attack, on July 26, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft suddenly stopped flying on civilian airlines, citing unspecified “terrorist threats.” Ashcroft later absolutely refused to answer any media questions about his sources for this specific concern on his part.

On September 10, 2001, a group of senior Pentagon officials suddenly cancelled a trip by commercial aircraft, citing “security reasons.”

On September 11, 2001, President George Bush flew with a significant number of his senior staff to Sarasota, Florida where he visited Emma E. Booker Elementary School. In a well-covered media event, Bush attended a meeting of school children and read portions of a child’s book to them.

A laudatory and paid professional Hollywood-created pre-election television movie about Bush shows him receiving the news of the 9/11 attack but like all reportage on this specific subject, it deals with error and not fact. With strong controversy about exact events of the day swirling about the President, no one can be exactly certain when he actually learned of the attacks. CIA Director George Tenet, lunching with a former U.S. Senator, David Boren, remarked as soon as he learned of the first attack that, “. . . this has bin Laden’s fingerprints all over it.”

Although Tenet was informed immediately of the attack, Bush’s entourage still insists the President did not hear about it until at least fifteen minutes after the first attack occurred, considerably after television viewers saw the smoke-engulfed building on CNN. Reporters covering the school event noted the President had received an urgent telephone call from his security advisor, Condoleezza Rice immediately after he got out of the Presidential limousine and shortly after the first incident.

None of the accounts concerning this matter, delivered at various times by members of the President’s White House staff, are in agreement. Bush himself has offered several versions of the time he first learned of the attack. The President stated on December 4, 2001 that “I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower . . . the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly myself, and I said, ‘Well, there’s one terrible pilot.’ I said, ‘it must have been a horrible accident.’ But I was whisked off there. I didn’t have much time to think about it.”

On January 5, 2002, Bush said: “First of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building. There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was a pilot error, and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake . . .”

Neither of these statements is correct. There was no current television footage of the hijacked civil airliner seen anywhere in the United States until an amateur video tape appeared one day later. The President’s post-event recollections stand in direct contradiction to all of the national media reportage of the morning of September 11 and it also contradicts his nationally televised speech of that evening. The President stated, “Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans.” What these “emergency plans” might have been have never been mentioned since, by anyone, and this statement is thoroughly disproved by Bush’s statements that he believed the crash to be the result of pilot error.

Bush also claimed he first learned of the attack from his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. Bush said Card told him, “Here’s what you’re going to be doing. You are going to meet so-and-so, such-and such. Then Andy Card said, ‘By the way, an aircraft flew into the World Trade Center.’”

Presidential Press Secretary Ari Fleischer commented on this publicly and alleged that Card had informed Bush of the attack “as the President finished shaking hands in a hallway of school officials.” However, other reporters claimed that Karl Rove personally gave the news to the President.

What has been clearly established is that the President continued to interact with the school children, for the benefit of the media, for a considerable time after the Federal Aviation Administration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the National Military Command Center, the Pentagon, the remaining personnel in the White House, the Secret Service and even Canada’s Strategic Command, had all been made aware that three commercial American aircraft had been hijacked.

In spite of this general knowledge, Bush and his aides and advisors remained at the school for nearly an hour after initial news of the attack had been broadcast on CNN. Thirty minutes after the first attack, Bush was recorded on film as telling the young students, “These are great readers! Very impressive! Thank you all so much for showing me your reading skills. I bet they practice too, don’t you? Reading more than they watch TV? Anybody do that? Read more than you watch TV?” (Hands are raised) “Oh, that’s great! Very good! Very important to practice! Thanks for having me. I’m very impressed!”

Although the President and his staff were fully aware that major terrorist attacks had been launched against important targets on the East Coast, Bush remained with the school children for some time. It was later put out by his staff that he did not wish to unduly alarm or upset the children. This story is specious in the extreme because if the terrorist attacks were as serious as they appeared, placating children should have been the least worry of the Commander-in-Chief. Bush did not contact any of the military units charged with defending prominent targets — and the fighters that had been scrambled would have been unable to shoot down any hijacked aircraft without a specific Presidential order.

Nor were any Presidential orders issued to ground all commercial aircraft slated to take off. This order came not from Bush or any member of his staff but from FAA Administrator Ben Sliney.

When Air Force One took off with the President and his entourage safely on board, it headed west to carry the President away from the apparent target areas. While the President and his staff, like Vice President Cheney were safely ensconced in concrete bunkers, the Mayor of New York and his staff were at the center of the attack area taking charge of the confused situation.

The excuse offered by the Bush staff for the bunkering of the President is that an unnamed intelligence agency had advised the President that “Arab terrorists” had the transponder codes for Air Force One, and to fly in the aircraft would be dangerous in the extreme. This story, like the rest of the self-serving myths put forth by loyalists that day, was completely false and later admitted as such.

There is, of course, no specific evidence that the President’s trip to Sarasota, Florida was designed to remove him from the potential and strongly suspected dangers in Washington DC; nor do his subsequent inconsistent and shifting accounts of his actions prove that he and his immediate entourage were anticipating the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. However, a great mass of circumstantial evidence would certainly point very clearly, and strongly, in that direction.

In the intervening time, it has become evident that the Bush Administration has done everything within its power to block any official investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 9/11 attack. In previous matters, such as Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination, the administrations concerned made every public effort to support official investigations, and the American media made every public effort to support findings of the various investigative bodies (but only insofar as these findings supported the administration’s views).

Frantic attempts on the part of the Bush people, and especially on the part of the President himself, to either totally avoid any investigation into the background of the September 11, 2001 attacks or, second best, to completely derail it, does not speak well of its motives, but it certainly highlights their foreknowledge.

Evidence that the President and his senior staff were fully aware of the impending attacks and made no effort to stop them, issued no timely warnings to American military units to prepare for such attacks and simply awaited them with the full knowledge that they would then be able to attack and occupy Iraq, secure its enormous oil reserves and support Israeli policies in the Mid East, is not only circumstantial evidence but direct evidence as well.

The sudden decision of the President to take his top staff with him to Florida where he read “My Pet Goat” to a class of minority children and then showed absolutely no emotion when informed that there were massive terrorist attacks against American soil is quite simply not believable but his panicked flight, not to Washington but to a secure bunker in the Midwest is indeed typical of him. Bush is a physical and moral coward and his actions are never those of a bold or competent leader.

Franklin Roosevelt has long been suspected of knowing, through intelligence intercepts, that the Japanese were about to launch an attack against the United States and, wishing to get the United States into a European war, did and said nothing to let the approaching Japanese know he was aware of them and worse, neither Roosevelt or any of his military staff warned the U.S. military commanders at Pearl Harbor or Manila that an attack was in train.

It is never seriously been put forward that either Roosevelt or Bush actively plotted against the country for personal or political reasons but by being fully aware and informed of a pending attack and permitting it, by default, to happen, were indeed guilty of the thousands of deaths that followed.

How could an obviously sophisticated terrorist plan involving perhaps as many as 50 identified persons and in training for at least two years, possibly escape the notice of our intelligence services, especially the CIA or the NSA? When one considers the number of people involved in this plot, the wide-spread geographical locations of the plotters, the fact that most of them used a telephone system long known to be thoroughly and completely compromised by the US NSA, for international calls, and that large amounts of cash were transferred from foreign banks to American accounts, the idea that none of the American intelligence and counter-intelligence agencies, and by implication, the White House itself, had the slightest warning of impending disaster, is completely impossible to believe.