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Before 9/11

Warning Signs (228)
Foreign Intelligence Warnings (27)
Insider Trading (36)
Counterterrorism Before 9/11 (181)
Able Danger (39)
Military Exercises (38)
Hunt for bin Laden (73)
Pipeline Politics (54)

Al-Qaeda Members

Al-Qaeda in Germany (42)
Alhazmi and Almihdhar (74)
Other 9/11 Hijackers (48)
Marwan Alshehhi (21)
Mohamed Atta (37)
Ziad Jarrah (9)
Hani Hanjour (15)
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (33)
Zacarias Moussaoui (40)
Nabil al-Marabh (10)

Geopolitics and 9/11

Pakistani ISI (126)
Randy Glass (7)
Sibel Edmonds (6)
Saeed Sheikh (3)
Mahmood Ahmed (3)
Drugs (21)
Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden Family (110)
Bin Laden Family (33)
Israel (33)
Iraq (49)
US Dominance (34)

Day of 9/11

All day of 9/11 events (401)
Flight AA 11 (62)
Flight UA 175 (49)
Flight AA 77 (70)
Flight UA 93 (105)
George Bush
Dick Cheney (24)
Donald Rumsfeld (24)
Richard Clarke (22)

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan (49)
Investigations (166)
9/11 Congressional Inquiry (0)
9/11 Commission (0)
Other 9/11 Investigations (0)
Other events (79)
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Complete 911 Timeline: Bush's actions on 9/11

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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(6:00 a.m.): Two Hijackers Fly to Boston

       Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari's flight from Portland to Boston takes off. [FBI, 10/4/01] Two passengers later say Atta and Alomari board separately, keep quiet, and do not draw attention to themselves. [Washington Post, 9/16/01; Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari
          

(6:00 a.m.): Bush Interview or Assassination Attempt?

       President Bush has just spent the night at Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida. Surface-to-air missiles have been placed on the roof of the resort (it is not known if this was typical of presidential security before 9/11, or if this was related to increased terror warnings). [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02] Bush wakes up around 6:00 a.m. and is preparing for his morning jog. [MSNBC, 10/27/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] A van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent arrives at the Colony Beach Resort, stating they have a “poolside” interview with the president. They do not have an appointment and they are turned away. [Longboat Observer, 9/26/01] Some question whether this was an assassination attempt modeled on the one used on Afghan leader Ahmed Massoud two days earlier (see September 9, 2001). [Time, 8/4/02 (B)] Longboat Key Fire Marshal Carroll Mooneyhan was reported to have overheard the conversation between the men and the Secret Service, but he later denies the report. The newspaper that reported this, the Longboat Observer stands by its story. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04] Witnesses recall seeing Mohamed Atta in the Longboat Key Holiday Inn a short distance from where Bush was staying as recently as September 7, the day Bush's Sarasota appearance was publicly announced. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04; Longboat Observer, 11/21/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Carroll Mooneyhan, Mohamed Atta, NBC, Secret Service
          

(6:31 a.m.): Bush Goes Jogging

      
The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, where Bush stays the night before 9/11.
President Bush goes for a four-mile jog around the golf course at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort. [MSNBC, 10/27/02; Washington Times, 10/7/02; Washington Post, 1/27/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(8:00 a.m.): Bush Receives Daily Intelligence Briefing

       President Bush sits down for his daily intelligence briefing. “The president's briefing appears to have included some reference to the heightened terrorist risk reported throughout the summer,” but it contained nothing serious enough to cause Bush to call National Security Adviser Rice. The briefing ends around 8:20 a.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice
          

(8:30 a.m.): Some US Leaders Are Scattered; Others in D.C.

      
Secretary of State Colin Powell leaves his Lima, Peru hotel after hearing the news.
Just prior to learning about the 9/11 attacks, top US leaders are scattered across the country and overseas:
President Bush is in Sarasota, Florida. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Secretary of State Powell is in Lima, Peru. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

General Henry Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is flying across the Atlantic on the way to Europe. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Attorney General Ashcroft is flying to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh is at a conference in Montana. [ABC News, 9/14/02 (B)]
Others are in Washington:
Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice are at their offices in the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is at his office in the Pentagon, meeting with a delegation from Capitol Hill. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

CIA Director Tenet is at breakfast with his old friend and mentor, former senator David Boren (D), at the St. Regis Hotel, three blocks from the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

FBI Director Mueller is in his office at FBI Headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is at his office at the Department of Transportation. [Senate Commerce Committee, 9/20/01]

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is at a conference in the Ronald Reagan Building three blocks from the White House. [Clarke, 2004, pp 1]

People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, Henry H. Shelton, Robert S. Mueller III, Condoleezza Rice, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Joeseph M. Allbaugh, Richard A. Clarke, Norman Mineta, Donald Rumsfeld, David Boren, Colin Powell, George Tenet, George W. Bush
          

(8:35 a.m.): Sweeney Continues to Provide Flight 11 Updates

       Flight attendant Amy Sweeney continues to describe what is happening onboard Flight 11 to Michael Woodward at Logan Airport. At some point prior to this, she explains that flight attendants are giving injured people oxygen. They have made an announcement over the PA system asking if there is a doctor or nurse on board. Sweeney is calling from the rear of the coach section. She explains that the passengers in coach, separated by curtains from the violence in first class, are calm, believing that there is some type of medical emergency at the front of the plane. Then, at this time, the plane suddenly lurches, tilting all the way to one side, then becomes horizontal again. Then she says it begins a rapid descent. She tries to contact the cockpit again, but still gets no response. [ABC News, 7/18/02; New York Observer, 2/11/04]
People and organizations involved: Madeline ("Amy") Sweeney, Michael Woodward
          

(8:35 a.m.): Bush Motorcade Leaves for Elementary School

      
The destination of Bush's motorcade is Booker Elementary School.
President Bush's motorcade leaves for Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. [Washington Times, 10/7/02; Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01; BBC, 9/1/02; Washington Post, 1/27/02] His official schedule had him leaving at 8:30. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04] He said farewell to the management at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort at 8:20 a.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

8:46 a.m.: Flight 11 Hits the North Tower of the World Trade Center

      
Flight 11 hits the WTC North Tower at 8:46. This video still is the only well-known image of this crash.
Flight 11 slams into the WTC North Tower (Building 1). Seismic records pinpoint the crash at 26 seconds after 8:46 a.m. [New York Times, 9/12/01; NORAD, 9/18/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); New York Times, 9/11/02; USA Today, 12/20/01; Newsday, 9/10/02; USA Today, 8/13/02] Investigators believe the plane still has about 10,000 gallons of fuel and is traveling approximately 470 mph. [New York Times, 9/11/02] The plane strikes the 93rd through 98th floors in the 110-story building. No one above the crash line survives; approximately 1,360 people die. Below the crash line, approximately 72 die and more than 4,000 survive. Both towers are slightly less than half full at the time of the attack, with between 5,000 to 7,000 people in each tower. This number is lower than expected. Many office workers have not yet shown up to work, and tourists to the observation deck opening at 9:30 A.M. have yet to arrive. [USA Today, 12/20/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

(After 8:46 a.m.): FAA Establishes Open Telephone Line with the Secret Service

       Shortly after the WTC is hit, the FAA opens a telephone line with the Secret Service to keep the White House informed of all events. [Sources: Richard ("Dick") Cheney] A few days later, Vice President Cheney will state, “The Secret Service has an arrangement with the FAA. They had open lines after the World Trade Center was ...” (He stopped himself before finishing the sentence.) [MSNBC, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service
          

(After 8:46 a.m.): Emergency Response Plans Activated by Officials, Not by Bush

       President Bush will say in a speech later that evening, “Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans.” [White House, 9/11/01] However, the Wall Street Journal reports that lower level officials activate CONPLAN (Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan) in response to the emerging crisis. CONPLAN, created in response to a 1995 Presidential Decision Directive issued by President Clinton and published in January 2001, details the responsibility of seven federal agencies if a terrorist attack occurs. It gives the FBI the responsibility for activating the plan and alerting other agencies. Bush in fact later states that he doesn't give any orders responding to the attack until after 9:55 a.m. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04; Conplan, 1/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

(8:46 a.m.): Bush, Some Aides Reportedly Still Unaware of Flight 11 Hijack

       President Bush is traveling through Sarasota, Florida, in a motorcade when the first WTC attack occurs. According to the 9/11 Commission, “no one in the White House or traveling with the president knew that [Flight 11] had been hijacked [at this time]. Immediately afterward, duty officers at the White House and Pentagon began notifying senior officials what had happened.” However, according to reports, Bush is not notified about the crash until his motorcade reaches its destination, even though there is a secure phone in his vehicle for just this type of emergency, and even though others in the motorcade are notified. Reportedly, not even Jane Garvey, head of the FAA, nor her deputy have been told of a confirmed hijacking before they learn about the crash from the television. [Bamford, 2004, pp 17; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Jane Garvey
          

(Between 8:46-8:55 a.m.): Bush's Motorcade Quickly Hears of Flight 11 Crash, but Bush Reportedly Still Unaware

      
Bush's travels in the Sarasota, Florida, region, with key locations marked.
When Flight 11 hits the WTC at 8:46 a.m., President Bush's motorcade is crossing the John Ringling Causeway on the way to Booker Elementary from the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. [Washington Times, 10/8/02] Sarasota Magazine claims that Bush is on Highway 301, just north of Main Street when he is told that a plane has crashed in New York City. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Around the same time, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who riding in another car in the motorcade, is talking on his cell phone, when he blurts out: “Oh, my God, I don't believe it. A plane just hit the World Trade Center.” (The person with whom Fleischer is speaking remains unknown.) Fleischer is told he will be needed on arrival to discuss reports of the crash. [Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02; Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/01] This call takes place “just minutes” after the first news reports. [MSNBC, 10/29/02] Congressman Dan Miller also says he is told about the crash just before meeting Bush at Booker elementary school at 8:55 a.m. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Some reporters waiting for him to arrive also learn of the crash just minutes after it happens. [CBS News, 9/11/02 (B)] It would make sense that Bush is told about the crash immediately, at the same time that others hear about it. Yet the official story remains that Bush is not told about the crash until he arrives at the school. Author James Bamford comments, “Despite having a secure STU-III phone next to [Bush] in the presidential limousine and an entire national security staff at the White House, it appears that the president of the United States knew less than tens of millions of other people in every part of the country who were watching the attack as it unfolded.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 17]
People and organizations involved: James Bamford, Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush, World Trade Center, Dan Miller
          

(8:55 a.m.): Situation Room Director Informs Bush of WTC Crash

      
Captain Deborah Loewer.
Captain Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, is traveling in President Bush's motorcade toward Booker Elementary School, when she learns of the first WTC crash from her deputy in the Situation Room at the White House. According to some reports, as soon as the motorcade reaches the school, Loewer runs from her car to Bush's car, and informs Bush. [Catholic Telegraph, 12/7/01; Associated Press, 11/26/01] Note that Bush maintains that he learns of the crash at a later time.
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Deborah Loewer
          

(8:55 a.m.): Bush Arrives at Elementary School for Photo-Op

      
Bush's motorcade arrives at Booker Elementary School.
President Bush's motorcade arrives at Booker Elementary School for a photo-op to promote his education policies. [Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02; Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B); Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01; ABC News, 9/11/02; Washington Times, 10/7/02] If he left the Colony Resort around 8:35 a.m. as reported, the timing of his arrival at 8:55 a.m. is consistent with the fact that the trip from the resort to the school is said to take 20 minutes. [MSNBC, 10/29/02; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B); St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(Between 8:55-9:00 a.m.): Bush First Told About WTC Crash?; Suggests Accident

      
Karl Rove, Andrew Card, and Dan Bartlett.
President Bush's motorcade has arrived at Booker Elementary School and Bush enters the school with his entourage. The beepers of politicians' aides are going off with news of the first WTC crash as Bush arrives. According to one account, Bush learns of the crash when adviser Karl Rove takes Bush aside in a school corridor and tells him about the calamity. According to this account, Rove says the cause of the crash was unclear. Bush replies, “What a horrible accident!” Bush also suggests the pilot may have had a heart attack. This account is recalled by photographer Eric Draper, who was standing nearby at the time. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Dan Bartlett, White House Communications Director, also says he is there when Bush is told: “[Bush] being a former pilot, had kind of the same reaction, going, was it bad weather? And I said no, apparently not.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] One account states that Rove tells Bush the WTC has been hit by a large commercial airliner. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] However, Bush later remembers Rove saying it appeared to be an accident involving a small, twin-engine plane. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] In a third version of the story, Bush later recalls that he first learns of the crash from chief of Staff Andrew Card, who says, “ ‘Here's what you're going to be doing; you're going to meet so-and-so, such-and-such.’ And Andy Card says, ‘By the way, an aircraft flew into the World Trade Center.’ ” [Washington Times, 10/7/02] “From the demeanor of the president, grinning at the children, it appeared that the enormity of what he had been told was taking a while to sink in,” according to a reporter standing nearby at the time. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Andrew Card, Dan Bartlett, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Eric Draper
          

(9:00 a.m.): Clarke Alerted to Crisis, Immediately Activates CSG

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is at a conference three blocks from the White House when a telephone call alerts him to the crisis. He runs to his car. He responds, “Activate the CSG on secure video. I'll be there in less than five.” The CSG is the Counterterrorism and Security Group, comprising the leaders of the government's counterterrorism and security agencies. Clarke hurriedly drives to the White House. [Clarke, 2004, pp 1]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Counterterrorism and Security Group
          

(9:00 a.m.): Rice Informs Bush Flight 11 Has Accidentally Hit the WTC, but Knows Nothing Else

       National Security Adviser Rice later claims she is in her White House office when she hears about the first WTC crash just before 9:00 a.m. She recalls, “I thought to myself, what an odd accident.” She reportedly speaks to President Bush around 9:00 a.m. on the telephone, and tells him that a twin-engine plane has struck the WTC tower. She says, “That's all we know right now, Mr. President.” [Newsweek, 12/31/01] Rice later claims, “He said, what a terrible, it sounds like a terrible accident. Keep me informed.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] Despite her title of National Security Adviser, she is apparently unaware that NORAD has scrambled planes after learning of two hijackings in progress at least 15 minutes ago. She goes ahead with her usual national security staff meeting. [Newsweek, 12/31/01] Author James Bamford comments, “Neither Rice nor Bush was aware that the United States had gone to ‘battle stations’ alert and had scrambled fighter jets into the air to intercept and possibly take hostile action against multiple hijacked airliners, something that was then known by hundreds of others within NORAD, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Pentagon.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 17] Congressman Dan Miller, who is waiting in a receiving line to meet Bush, says he waits a few minutes for the call to end. Bush appears unbothered when he greets Miller after the call. Miller recalls, “It was nothing different from the normal, brief greeting with the president.” [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Dan Miller, James Bamford
          

(9:00 a.m.): Informed of the First Plane Crash, Bush Goes Ahead with Photo-Op

       Sarasota elementary school principal Gwen Tose-Rigell is summoned to a room to talk with President Bush. She recalls, “He said a commercial plane has hit the World Trade Center, and we're going to go ahead and go on, we're going on to do the reading thing anyway.” [Associated Press, 8/19/02 (D)] One local reporter notes that at this point, “He could and arguably should have left Emma E. Booker Elementary School immediately, gotten onto Air Force One and left Sarasota without a moment's delay.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/12/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, George W. Bush, Gwen Tose-Rigell
          

(9:01 a.m.): La Guardia Flight Controllers and Port Authority Unaware of Hijackings

       An unidentified woman in the La Guardia control tower speaks to a Port Authority police officer. La Guardia is one of two major New York City airports. The Port Authority patrols both the WTC and the city's airports. The woman asks the officer what has happened at the WTC, and the officer replies that he has learned from the news that a plane crashed into it. [New York Times, 12/30/03] Around the same time, one flight controller in the tower says to another, “But you don't know anything.” The other responds, “We don't know. We're looking at it on Channel 5 right now.” [Bergen Record, 1/4/04] “Nothing on the [later released transcripts] shows that the La Guardia controllers knew that the planes flying into their airspace had been seized by terrorists, or that military aircraft were screaming in pursuit over the Hudson River.” Port Authority officials appear to be equally oblivious. [New York Times, 12/30/03]
People and organizations involved: La Guardia Airport
          

(9:01 a.m.): Bush Claims to See First WTC Crash on Television While at Elementary School

       President Bush later makes the following statement: “And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower—the television was obviously on, and I use to fly myself, and I said, ‘There's one terrible pilot.’ And 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.” [CNN, 12/4/01] He has repeated the story on other occasions. [CBS News, 9/11/02; White House, 1/5/02] Notably, the first WTC Crash was not shown live on television. Further, Bush does not have access to a television until 15 or so minutes later. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] A Boston Herald article later notes, “Think about that. Bush's remark implies he saw the first plane hit the tower. But we all know that video of the first plane hitting did not surface until the next day. Could Bush have meant he saw the second plane hit—which many Americans witnessed? No, because he said that he was in the classroom when Andrew Card whispered in his ear that a second plane hit.” The article, noting that Bush has repeated this story more than once, asks, “How could the commander in chief have seen the plane fly into the first building—as it happened?” [Boston Herald, 10/22/02] A Bush spokesman later calls Bush's repeated comments “just a mistaken recollection.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(9:03-9:06 a.m.): Bush Enters Classroom Photo-Op, Still Claims to Think WTC Crash Is Accidental

      
President Bush enters Sandra Kay Daniels' classroom.
President Bush enters Sandra Kay Daniels' second-grade class for a photo-op to promote Bush's education policies. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Numerous reporters who travel with the president, as well as members of the local media, watch from the back of the room. [Associated Press, 8/19/02 (D)] Altogether, there are about 150 people in the room, 16 of whom are children in the class. He is introduced to the children and poses for a number of pictures. The teacher then leads the students through some reading exercises (video footage shows this lasts about three minutes). [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] Bush later claims that during this lesson, he is thinking what he will say about the WTC crash. “I was concentrating on the program at this point, thinking about what I was going to say. Obviously, I felt it was an accident. I was concerned about it, but there were no alarm bells.” [Washington Times, 10/7/02] The children are just getting their books from under their seats to read a story together when Chief of Staff Andrew Card comes in to tell Bush of the second WTC crash. [Washington Times, 10/8/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] According to the Washington Times, Card comes in at the conclusion of the first half of the planned lesson, and “[seizes] a pause in the reading drill to walk up to Mr. Bush's seat.” [Washington Times, 10/7/02; Washington Times, 10/8/02]
People and organizations involved: Andrew Card, Sandra Kay Daniels, George W. Bush
          

9:03 a.m.: Flight 175 Crashes into WTC South Tower; Millions Watch Live on Television

      
Flight 175 an instant before it hits the WTC south tower.
Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the World Trade Center (Tower Two). Seismic records pinpoint the time at six seconds before 9:03 a.m. (rounded to 9:03 a.m.). [USA Today, 9/3/02; New York Times, 9/11/02; USA Today, 12/20/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); New York Times, 9/12/01; CNN, 9/17/01; NORAD, 9/18/01; CNN, 9/12/01] Millions watch the crash live on television. The plane strikes the 78th through 84th floors in the 110-story building. Approximately 100 people are killed or injured in the initial impact; 600 people in the tower eventually die. All but four of those killed work above the crash point. The death toll is far lower than in the North Tower because about two-thirds of the South Tower's occupants have evacuated the building in the 17 minutes since the first tower was struck. [USA Today, 12/20/01] The combined death toll from the two towers is estimated at 2,819, not including the hijackers. [Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

9:03 a.m.: Bush's Security Agents Watch Second WTC Crash on Television; Bush Continues with Photo-Op

      
Flight 175 hits he WTC south tower. The picture is taken from a traffic helicopter.
According to Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill, just after President Bush enters a Booker Elementary classroom, a Marine responsible for carrying Bush's phone walks up to Balkwill, who is standing in a nearby side room. While listening to someone talk to him in his earpiece, the Marine asks, “Can you get me to a television? We're not sure what's going on, but we need to see a television.” Three Secret Service agents, a SWAT member, the Marine, and Balkwill turn on the television in a nearby front office just as Flight 175 crashes into the WTC. “We're out of here,” the Marine tells Balkwill. “Can you get everyone ready?” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02] However, Bush stays at the school for another half-hour. Who makes the decision to stay—and why—remains unclear, and the Secret Service won't comment on the matter. Philip Melanson, author of a book on the Secret Service, comments, “With an unfolding terrorist attack, the procedure should have been to get the president to the closest secure location as quickly as possible, which clearly is not a school. you're safer in that presidential limo, which is bombproof and blastproof and bulletproof. ... In the presidential limo, the communications system is almost duplicative of the White House—he can do almost anything from there but he can't do much sitting in a school.” [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04]
People and organizations involved: Secret Service, George W. Bush, Bill Balkwill
          

(9:06-9:16 a.m.): Bush Reads Pet Goat Story for Nearly Ten Minutes; Warned Not to Talk

      
President Bush and Sandra Kay Daniels read the goat story while the media watches.
President Bush, having just been told of the second WTC crash, stays in the Booker Elementary School Classroom, and listens as 16 Booker Elementary School second-graders take turns reading “The Pet Goat.” It's a simple story about a girl's pet goat. [Editor and Publisher, 7/2/04; Agence France-Presse, 9/7/02] They are just about to begin reading when Bush is told of the attack. One account says that the classroom is then silent for about 30 seconds, maybe more. Bush then picks up the book and reads with the children “for eight or nine minutes.” [Tampa Tribune, 9/1/02] In unison, the children read aloud, “The—Pet— Goat. A—girl—got—a—pet—goat. But—the—goat—did— some—things—that—made—the—girl's—dad—mad.” And so on. Bush mostly listens, but does ask the children a few questions to encourage them. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] At one point he says, “Really good readers, whew! ... These must be sixth-graders!” [Time, 9/12/01] In the back of the room, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer catches Bush's eye and holds up a pad of paper for him to read, with “ DON' T SAY ANYTHING YET” written on it in big block letters. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] (Note that three articles claim that Bush leaves the classroom at 9:12 a.m.) [Daily Mail, 9/8/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] However, a videotape of the event lasts for “at least seven additional minutes” and ends before Bush leaves. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04] (The timing of this entry is a rough approximation based mostly on the Tampa Tribune estimate. Much of this video footage is shown in Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. [New York Times, 6/18/04 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush
          

(9:06 a.m.): Bush Told WTC Hit Again and America's Under Attack; He Continues Photo-Op

      
Andrew Card speaks to President Bush and tells him of the second World Trade Center crash.
President Bush is in a Booker Elementary School second-grader classroom. His chief of staff, Andrew Card, enters the room and whispers into his ear, “A second plane hit the other tower, and America's under attack.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02; Washington Times, 10/8/02; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B); ABC News, 9/11/02] Intelligence expert James Bamford describes Bush's reaction: “Immediately [after Card speaks to Bush] an expression of befuddlement passe[s] across the president's face. Then, having just been told that the country was under attack, the commander in chief appear[s] uninterested in further details. He never ask[s] if there had been any additional threats, where the attacks were coming from, how to best protect the country from further attacks. ... Instead, in the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor, he simply turn[s] back to the matter at hand: the day's photo-op.” [Bamford, 2002, pp 633] Bush begins listening to a story about a goat. But despite the pause and change in children's exercises, as one newspaper put it, “For some reason, Secret Service agents [do] not bustle him away.” [Globe and Mail, 9/12/01] Bush later says of the experience, “I am very aware of the cameras. I'm trying to absorb that knowledge. I have nobody to talk to. I'm sitting in the midst of a classroom with little kids, listening to a children's story and I realize I'm the commander in chief and the country has just come under attack.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] Bush listens to the goat story for about ten more minutes. The reason given is that, “Without all the facts at hand, George Bush ha[s] no intention of upsetting the schoolchildren who had come to read for him.” [MSNBC, 10/29/02] Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is only three and a half miles away. In fact, the elementary school was chosen for the photo-op partly because of its closeness to the airport. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/12/02] Why the Secret Service does not move Bush away from his publicized location that morning remains unclear.
People and organizations involved: Secret Service, James Bamford, Andrew Card, George W. Bush
          

(Between 9:16-9:29 a.m.): Bush Works on Speech with Staff; Makes No Decisions

      
Bush in a holding room before giving his speech. Communications director Dan Bartlett points to the TV, and the clock reads 9:25.
President Bush works with his staff to prepare a speech he will deliver at 9:29 a.m. (see 9:29 a.m.) He intermittently watches the television coverage in the room. [Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] He also speaks on the phone to advisers, first calling National Security Adviser Rice, then Vice President Cheney, then New York Governor George Pataki. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Bush often turns to look at a television screen. He declares, “We're at war.” [BBC, 9/1/02] Bush later claims he makes no major decisions about the crisis until after boarding Air Force One at 9:55 a.m. (see (9:56 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, George E. Pataki, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

(9:16 a.m.): Bush Takes His Time Leaving Classroom Photo-Op

      
Bush continues to read the goat story.
President Bush leaves the Sarasota classroom where he has been since about 9:03 a.m.(see 9:03 a.m.). The children finish their lessons and put away their readers. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Bush advises the children to stay in school and be good citizens. [Tampa Tribune, 9/1/02; St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B)] He also tells the children, “Thank you all so very much for showing me your reading skills.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] One student also asks Bush a question, and Bush gives a quick response on his education policy. [New York Post, 9/12/02] A reporter asks, “Mr. President, are you aware of the reports of the plane crash in New York? Is there any...” This question is interrupted by an aide who has come into the room, saying, “All right. Thank you. If everyone could please step outside.” Bush then says, “We'll talk about it later.” [CBS News, 9/11/02 (B)] Bush then tells school principal Gwen Tose-Rigell, who is in the room, about the terror attacks and why he has to leave. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] He then goes into an empty classroom next door and meets with his staff there. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Bush's program with the children was supposed to start at 9:00 a.m. and end 20 minutes later. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/16/01] He leaves the classroom only a couple of minutes earlier than planned, if at all. The “goodbyes” and questions on the way out may have taken another minute or two.
People and organizations involved: Gwen Tose-Rigell, George W. Bush
          

(9:29 a.m.): Pentagon Command Center Begins High Level Conference Call

      
The National Miilitary Command Center, inside the Pentagon.
Captain Charles Leidig is in command of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), “the military's worldwide nerve center.” [CNN, 9/4/02] Telephone links are established with the NMCC located inside the Pentagon (but on the opposite side of the building from where the explosion will happen), Canada's equivalent Command Center, Strategic Command, theater commanders, and federal emergency-response agencies. An Air Threat Conference Call is initiated and it lasts for eight hours. At one time or another, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, key military officers, leaders of the FAA and NORAD, the White House, and Air Force One are heard on the open line. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] NORAD command director Captain Michael Jellinek claims this happens “immediately” after the second WTC hit. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] However, the 9/11 Commission concludes it starts nearly 30 minutes later, at approximately 9:29 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Brigadier General Montague Winfield, who later takes over for Leidig, says, “All of the governmental agencies that were involved in any activity going on in the United States at that point, were in that conference.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] The call continues right through the Pentagon explosion; the impact is not felt within the NMCC. [CNN, 9/4/02] However, despite being in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't enter the NMCC or participate in the call until 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, National Military Command Center, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Mike Jellinek, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal Aviation Administration, Charles Leidig, Montague Winfield
          

9:29 a.m.: President Bush Makes a Scheduled Speech; Proclaims Terrorist Attack on Our Country

      
President Bush begins speaking at 9:29 in the library of Booker Elementary School.
Still inside Booker Elementary School, President Bush gives a brief speech in front of about 200 students, plus many teachers and reporters. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] He says, “Today we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.” [Federal News Service, 9/11/01] The talk occurs at exactly the time and place stated in his publicly announced advance schedule—making Bush a possible terrorist target. [Washington Post, 9/12/01; CNN, 9/12/01; New York Times, 9/12/01; MSNBC, 9/22/01] This is the last most Americans will see of Bush until the evening. reporters at Booker Elementary School.
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(After 9:30 a.m.): Secret Service Finally Rushes Bush Out of School

       Kevin Down, a Sarasota police officer, recalls that immediately after President Bush's speech concludes, “The Secret Service agent [runs] out from the school and [says] We're under terrorist attack, we have to go now.” [BBC, 9/1/02] The motorcade departs a few minutes later.
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Kevin Down, Secret Service
          

(9:34 a.m.): Bush Leaves Booker Elementary School for Sarasota Airport; Possible Threat En Route

      
Bush speaks on a cell phone while sitting next to Andrew Card as his motorcade travels to the Sarasota airport.
President Bush's motorcade leaves Booker Elementary School and heads toward Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Washington Times, 10/8/02; Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04] A few days after 9/11, Sarasota's main newspaper reports, “Sarasota barely skirted its own disaster. As it turns out, terrorists targeted the president and Air Force One on Tuesday, maybe even while they were on the ground in Sarasota and certainly not long after. The Secret Service learned of the threat just minutes after Bush left Booker Elementary.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/16/01] Kevin Down, a Sarasota police officer at the scene, recalls, “I thought they were actually anticipating a terrorist attack on the president while we were en route.” [BBC, 8/30/02] ABC News reporter Ann Compton, who is part of the motorcade, recalls, “It was a mad-dash motorcade out to the airport.” [BBC, 9/1/02] A year later, Chief of Staff Andrew Card says, “As we were heading to Air Force One, we did hear about the Pentagon attack, and we also 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]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Andrew Card, Kevin Down, Ann Compton, Secret Service
          

(After 9:37 a.m.): Cheney Tells Bush to Stay Away from Washington

       Having learned that the Pentagon had been hit, Vice President Cheney telephones President Bush, who is on his way to the Sarasota airport, and tells him that the White House has been “targeted.” Bush says he wants to return to Washington, but Cheney advises him not to “until we could find out what the hell was going on.” According to Newsweek, this call takes place in a tunnel on the way to the PEOC underground bunker. Cheney reaches the bunker “shortly before 10:00 a.m.” [Newsweek, 12/31/01] The 9/11 Commission's account largely follows Newsweek's. He reaches the tunnel around the time of the Pentagon crash and lingers by a television and secure telephone as he talks to Bush. The commission has Cheney enter the bunker just before 10:00, but they note, “There is conflicting evidence as to when the vice president arrived in the shelter conference room.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Indeed, in other accounts, including those of Richard Clarke and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Cheney reaches the bunker before the Flight 77 crash at 9:37 a.m. [Clarke, 2004, pp 3-4; ABC News, 9/11/02; 9/11 Commission Report, 5/23/03 Sources: Norman Mineta, Richard A. Clarke] Regardless of Cheney's location, as Cheney and Bush talk on the phone, Bush once again refrains from making any decisions or orders about the crisis. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

9:37 a.m.: Flight 77 Crashes into Reinforced Section of the Pentagon

      
The Pentagon explodes.
Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. Approximately 125 people on the ground are later determined killed or missing. [MSNBC, 9/3/02; ABC News, 9/11/02; CBS News, 9/11/02 (B); Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); USA Today, 8/13/02; CNN, 9/17/01; Guardian, 10/17/01; NORAD, 9/18/01] Flight 77 strikes the only side of the Pentagon that had recently been renovated—it was “within days of being totally [renovated].” [Defense Department, 9/15/01] “It was the only area of the Pentagon with a sprinkler system, and it had been reconstructed with a web of steel columns and bars to withstand bomb blasts. The area struck by the plane also had blast-resistant windows—two inches thick and 2,500 pounds each—that stayed intact during the crash and fire. While perhaps, 4,500 people normally would have been working in the hardest-hit areas, because of the renovation work only about 800 were there...” More than 25,000 people work at the Pentagon. [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, US Department of Defense
          

9:43 a.m.: Bush Learns of Attack on Pentagon as Motorcade Reaches Sarasota Airport

      
Bush boards Air Force One in Sarasota, Florida, waving to people below as if the day were like any other.
President Bush's motorcade arrives at Sarasota's airport and pulls up close to Air Force One. As the motorcade nears the airport, he learns a plane has hit the Pentagon. Bush immediately boards the plane. [Washington Times, 10/8/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] Congressman Dan Miller and others hurry up the rear steps of the plane while Bush enters through the exposed front stairs. Bush pauses in the doorway to wave to photographers. The St. Petersburg Times notes this raises “further questions about security [on 9/11].” [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04] Security then does an extra-thorough search of all the baggage of the other passengers, delaying takeoff until 9:55 a.m. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Dan Miller
          

(9:45 a.m.): Bush Aides Debate Where to Fly Air Force Once

       According to the 9/11 Commission, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, the lead Secret Service agent, the president's military aide, and Air Force One pilot Colonel Mark Tillman, confer on a possible destination for Air Force One around this time. According to witnesses, some support President Bush's desire to return to Washington, but the others advise against it. The issue is still not decided when Air Force One takes off around 9:55 a.m. (see (9:56 a.m.)). [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Mark Tillman, Secret Service, Andrew Card
          

(9:45 a.m.): White House Finally Evacuated

      
Secret Service with automatic weapons directing people away from the White House.
The White House begins a general evacuation. This comes about 30 minutes after the probable time Vice President Cheney has been evacuated from the White House (see (9:10 a.m.)). [New York Times, 9/12/01; MSNBC, 9/22/01; Washington Post, 1/27/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)] Initially the evacuation is orderly, but soon the Secret Service agents are yelling that everyone should run. [ABC News, 9/11/02]
People and organizations involved: Secret Service
          

(After 9:56 a.m.): Bush and Cheney Confer on Actions to Be Taken

       After flying off in Air Force One, President Bush talks on the phone to Vice President Cheney. Cheney recommends that Bush authorize the military to shoot down any plane under control of the hijackers. “I said, ‘You bet,’ ” Bush later recalls. “We had a little discussion, but not much.” [CBS News, 9/11/02; Washington Post, 1/27/02; USA Today, 9/16/01; Newsday, 9/23/01] The 9/11 Commission claims that Cheney tells Bush three planes are still missing and one has hit the Pentagon. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Bush later says that he doesn't make any major decisions about how to respond to the 9/11 attacks until after Air Force One takes off [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04] , which fits with this account of Bush approving shootdown authorization shortly after take off.
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush
          

(9:56 a.m.): Air Force One Gets Airborne Without Fighter Escort

      
Air Force One departs from Sarasota.
President Bush departs from the Sarasota, Florida, airport on Air Force One. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B); Washington Post, 1/27/02; Associated Press, 9/12/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; ABC News, 9/11/02; Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04; CBS News, 9/11/02 (B); Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] Amazingly, his plane takes off without any fighters protecting it. “The object seemed to be simply to get the president airborne and out of the way,” says an administration official. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] There are still 3,520 planes in the air over the US. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] About half of the planes in the Florida region where Bush's plane is are still airborne. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/7/02] Apparently, fighters don't meet up with Air Force One until about an hour later. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims to have heard around 9:50 a.m. from the bunker containing Vice President Cheney that fighter escort had been authorized. [Clarke, 2004, pp 8-9]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

(9:56-10:40 a.m.): Air Force One Takes Off, Then Flies in Circles While Bush and Cheney Argue

       Air Force One takes off and quickly gains altitude. One passenger later says, “It was like a rocket. For a good ten minutes, the plane was going almost straight up.” [CBS News, 9/11/02 (B)] Once the plane reaches cruising altitude, it flies in circles. Journalists on board sense this because the television reception for a local station generally remains good. “Apparently Bush, Cheney, and the Secret Service argue over the safety of Bush coming back to Washington.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] For much of the day Bush is plagued by connectivity problems in trying to call Cheney and others. He is forced to use an ordinary cell phone instead of his secure phone. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush, Secret Service
          

9:59 a.m.: White House Finally Requests Continuity of Government Plans, Air Force One Escort, and Fighters for Washington

       The 9/11 Commission Reports, “An Air Force Lieutenant Colonel working in the White House Military Office [joins] the [NMCC] conference and state[s] that he had just talked to Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The White House request[s]: (1) the implementation of Continuity of Government measures, (2) fighter escorts for Air Force One, and (3) the establishment of a fighter combat air patrol over Washington, D.C.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gave the Continuity of Government orders a few minutes before from inside the White House (see (Between 9:45-9:55 a.m.)). This is consistent with Bush's claim that he doesn't make any major decisions about the 9/11 attacks until shortly before 10:00 a.m.
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Richard A. Clarke, National Military Command Center
          

9:59 a.m.: South Tower of WTC Collapses

      
The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.
The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by Flight 175 at 9:03 A.M., 57 minutes earlier (see 9:03 a.m.). [Washington Post, 9/12/01; ABC News, 9/11/02; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); MSNBC, 9/22/01; New York Times, 9/12/01 (B); USA Today, 12/20/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

(Between 10:00-10:15 a.m.): Bush and Cheney Said to Confer on Shootdown Orders, 9/11 Commission Doubts Their Account

       According to a 9/11 Commission staff report, Vice President Cheney is told that a combat air patrol has been established over Washington. Cheney then calls President Bush to discuss the rules of engagement for the pilots. Bush authorizes the shootdown of hijacked aircraft at this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] According to a Washington Post article, which places the call after 9:55 a.m., “Cheney recommended that Bush authorize the military to shoot down any such civilian airliners—as momentous a decision as the president was asked to make in those first hours.” Bush then talks to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to clarify the procedure, and Rumsfeld passes word down the chain of command. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Cheney and Bush recall having this phone call, and National Security Adviser Rice recalls overhearing it. However, as the commission notes, “Among the sources that reflect other important events that morning there is no documentary evidence for this call, although the relevant sources are incomplete. Others nearby who were taking notes, such as the vice president's chief of staff, [I. Lewis ‘Scooter’] Libby, who sat next to him, and [Lynne] Cheney, did not note a call between the president and vice president immediately after the vice president entered the conference room.” The commission also apparently concludes that no evidence exists to support the claim that Bush and Rumsfeld talked about such procedures at this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Commission Chairman Thomas Kean says, “The phone logs don't exist, because they evidently got so fouled up in communications that the phone logs have nothing. So that's the evidence we have.” Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton says of the shootdown order, “Well, I'm not sure it was carried out.” [New York Daily News, 6/18/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (C)] Newsweek reports that it “has learned that some on the commission staff were, in fact, highly skeptical of the vice president's account and made their views clearer in an earlier draft of their staff report. According to one knowledgeable source, some staffers ‘flat out didn't believe the call ever took place.’ ” According to a 9/11 Commission staffer, the report “was watered down” after vigorous lobbying from the White House. [Newsweek, 6/20/04] An account by Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek (who was overseeing NORAD's Colorado headquarters, where he claims to hear Bush give a shootdown order), as well as the order to empty the skies of aircraft, appears to be discredited. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01]
People and organizations involved: Lee Hamilton, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, 9/11 Commission, George W. Bush, Mike Jellinek
          

(After 10:06 a.m.): Bush, Told of Flight 93 Crash, Wonders If It Was Shot Down

       President Bush is told that Flight 93 crashed a few minutes after it happened, but the exact timing of this notice is unclear. Because of Vice President Cheney's earlier order, he asks, “Did we shoot it down or did it crash?” Several hours later, he is assured that it crashed. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush
          

10:32 a.m.: Air Force One Threatened? Some Doubt Entire Story

       Vice President Cheney reportedly calls President Bush and tells him of a threat to Air Force One and that it will take 40-90 minutes to get a protective fighter escort in place. Many doubt the existence of this threat. For instance, Representative Martin Meehan (D) says, “I don't buy the notion Air Force One was a target. That's just PR, that's just spin.” [Washington Times, 10/8/02] A later account calls the threat “completely untrue,” and says Cheney probably made the story up. A well-informed, anonymous Washington official says, “It did two things for [Cheney]. It reinforced his argument that the president should stay out of town, and it gave George W. an excellent reason for doing so.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Martin Meehan, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush
          

(10:35 a.m.): Bush Heads for Louisiana on Air Force One

       Air Force One turns toward a new destination of Barksdale Air Force Base, near Shreveport, Louisiana, in response to a decision that Bush should not go directly to Washington. [Washington Post, 1/27/02; CBS News, 9/11/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(10:55 a.m.): Air Force One Takes Evasive Action from False Alarm

      
Colonel Mark Tillman in the cockpit of Air Force One.
Colonel Mark Tillman, pilot of Air Force One, is told there is a threat to President Bush's plane. Tillman has an armed guard placed at his cockpit door while the Secret Service double-checks the identity of everyone on board. Air traffic controllers warn that a suspect airliner is dead ahead, according to Tillman: “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 takes evasive action, pulling his plane high above normal traffic. [CBS News, 9/11/02 (B)] Reporters on board notice the rise in elevation. [Dallas Morning News, 8/28/02; Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] The report is apparently a false alarm.
People and organizations involved: Secret Service, Mark Tillman
          

(Between 10:55-11:41 a.m.): Fighter Escort Finally Reaches Air Force One? Reports Conflict

      
President Bush (center, bending) and others look out the windows of Air Force One as their fighter escort arrives.
No fighters escort President Bush's Air Force One until around this time, but accounts conflict. At 10:32 a.m., Vice President Cheney said it would take until about 11:10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to get a fighter escort to Air Force One. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] However, according to one account, around 10:00 a.m., Air Force One “is joined by an escort of F-16 fighters from a base near Jacksonville, Florida.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] Another report states, “At 10:41 [am.] ... Air Force One headed toward Jacksonville to meet jets scrambled to give the presidential jet its own air cover.” [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] But apparently, when Air Force One takes evasive action around 10:55 a.m., there is still no fighter escort. NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold later says, “We scrambled available airplanes from Tyndall [near Tallahassee and not near Jacksonville, Florida] and then from Ellington in Houston, Texas,” but he does not say when this occurs. [Code One Magazine, 1/02 Sources: Larry Arnold] In yet another account, two F16s eventually arrive, piloted by Shane Brotherton and Randy Roberts, from Ellington, not from any Florida base. [CBS News, 9/11/02] The St. Petersburg Times, after interviewing people on Air Force One, estimate the first fighters, from Texas, arrive between 11:00 and 11:20. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04] By 11:30 a.m., there are six fighters protecting Air Force One. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] The BBC, however, reports that the Ellington, Texas, fighters are scrambled at 11:30 a.m., and quotes ABC reporter Ann Compton, inside Air Force One, saying fighters appear out the windows at 11:41 a.m. [BBC, 9/1/02] Given that two of the seven bases said to have fighters on alert on 9/11 are in Florida (Homestead Air Station, 185 miles from Sarasota; and Tyndall Air Station, 235 miles from Sarasota), why a fighter escort does not reach Air Force One earlier remains unclear. Philip Melanson, author of a book on the Secret Service, comments, “I can't imagine by what glitch the protection was not provided to Air Force One as soon as it took off. I would have thought there'd be something in place whereby one phone call from the head of the security would get the fighters in the air immediately.” [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04]
People and organizations involved: Randy Roberts, Ann Compton, Shane Brotherton, Secret Service, George W. Bush
          

(11:30 a.m.): Congressmen Meet with Bush

       Two congressmen, Dan Miller (R) and Adam Putnam (R), are on Air Force One. they've been receiving periodic updates on the crisis from President Bush's adviser Karl Rove. At this time, they're summoned forward to meet with the president. Bush points out the fighter escort, F-16s from a base in Texas, has now arrived. He says that a threat had been received from someone who knew the plane's code name. However, there are doubts that any such threat ever occurred (see 10:32 a.m.). [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04]
People and organizations involved: Dan Miller, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, Adam Putnam
          

(12:00 Noon): Senator Hatch Repeats Intelligence Community's Conclusion That Osama Bin Laden Is Responsible

       Senator Orrin Hatch (R), a member of both the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, says he has just been “briefed by the highest levels of the FBI and of the intelligence community.” He says, “they've come to the conclusion that this looks like the signature of Osama bin Laden, and that he may be the one behind this.” [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Orrin Hatch, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

11:45 a.m.: Air Force One Lands at Louisiana Air Force Base

      
Air Force One at Barksdale Air Force Base.
Air Force One lands at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. “The official reason for landing at Barksdale was that President Bush felt it necessary to make a further statement, but it isn't unreasonable to assume that—as there was no agreement as to what the president's movements should be—it was felt he might as well be on the ground as in the air.” [CBS News, 9/11/02; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B); Salon, 9/12/01 (B); Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Barksdale Air Force Base, George W. Bush
          

(12:00 Noon): Bush Provided Tight Security in Louisiana

      
Bush escorted into Barksdale Air Force Base.
President Bush arrives at the Barksdale Air Force Base headquarters in a Humvee escorted by armed outriders. Reporters and others are not allowed to say where they are. Bush remains in this location for approximately one hour, recording a brief message and talking on the phone. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Barksdale Air Force Base
          

12:16 p.m.: US Airspace Cleared of All Civilian Aircraft

       US airspace is clear of aircraft except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights are still landing in Canada. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (C)] At 12:30 p.m., the FAA reports about 50 (non-civilian) planes still flying in US airspace, but none are reporting problems. [CNN, 9/12/01; New York Times, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Canada
          

12:36 p.m.: Bush Records Second Speech; Aired About 30 Minutes Later

      
Bush records a speech at Barksdale Air Force Base.
President Bush records a short speech that is played by the networks at 1:04 p.m. [Washington Times, 10/8/02; Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] In a speech at the Louisiana base, President Bush announces that security measures are being taken and says: “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.” [New York Times, 9/12/01; MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01] He also states, “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.” [ABC News, 9/11/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(12:58 p.m.): Bush Argues with Cheney, Others About Where He Should Go Next

       President Bush spends most of his time at Barksdale Air Force Base arguing on the phone with Vice President Cheney and others over where he should go next. “A few minutes before 1 p.m.,” he agrees to fly to Nebraska. As earlier, there are rumors of a “credible terrorist threat” to Air Force One that are said to prevent his return to Washington. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush
          

1:02 p.m.: Rumsfeld Calls for War

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld later claims that he says to President Bush on the phone, “This is not a criminal action. This is war.” [Washington Times, 2/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush
          

1:04 p.m.: Military on High Alert Worldwide

       President Bush announces that the US military has been put on high alert worldwide. [Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); CNN, 9/12/01] Apparently, this occurs in a televised speech that was actually recorded half an hour earlier.
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(1:30 p.m.): Air Force One Leaves Louisiana; Flies to Nebraska

       President Bush leaves Louisiana on Air Force One, and flies to Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base, where the US Strategic Command is located. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Salon, 9/12/01 (B); Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] He travels with Chief of Staff Andrew Card, senior adviser Karl Rove, communications staffers Dan Bartlett, Ari Fleischer, and Gordon Johndroe, and a small group of reporters. [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: US Strategic Command, Ari Fleischer, Karl Rove, Andrew Card, Gordon Johndroe, Dan Bartlett, George W. Bush, Offutt Air Force Base
          

2:50 p.m.: Bush Arrives in Nebraska; Enters Strategic Command Center

       Having left Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana at around 1:30 p.m. (see (1:30 p.m.)), Air Force One lands at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. President Bush stays on the plane for about ten minutes before entering the United States Strategic Command bunker at 3:06 p.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] Offutt Air Force Base appears to be the headquarters of the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian that was “in full swing” at the time the attacks began (see 8:30 a.m.). While there, the president spends time in the underground Command Center from where Global Guardian was earlier being directed, being brought up to date on the attacks and their aftermath. [Washington Times, 10/8/02; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Offutt Air Force Base, George W. Bush
          

(3:00 p.m.): Bush Meets with Top Officials via Video Conference Call

      
President Bush takes part in a video teleconference at Offutt Air Force Base. Chief of Staff Andrew Card sits on his left, and Admiral Richard Mies sits on his left.
President Bush begins a video conference call from a bunker beneath Offutt Air Force Base. He and Chief of Staff Andrew Card visually communicate directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, and others. [ABC News, 9/11/02; Washington Times, 10/8/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] According to Clarke, Bush begins the meeting by saying, “I'm coming back to the White House as soon as the plane is fueled. No discussion.” Clarke leads a quick review of what has already occurred, and issues that need to be quickly addressed. CIA Director Tenet states that al-Qaeda is clearly behind the 9/11 attacks. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld states that about 120 fighters are now above US cities. [Clarke, 2004, pp 21-22] The meeting ends at 4:15 P.M. [Washington Times, 10/8/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Richard Armitage, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, Norman Mineta, al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Andrew Card
          

3:55 p.m.: Bush Said to Be at Undisclosed Location

       White House adviser Karen Hughes briefly speaks to the media and says President Bush is at an undisclosed location, taking part in a video conference. This is possibly the only in-person media appearance by any Bush administration official since the attacks and until a news conference by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld at 6:40 p.m. [CNN, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Karen Hughes
          

(4:00 p.m.): Bush Determined to Return to Washington; Rove Later Misinforms Public About Threat to Bush

       President Bush has just told his advisers that he is returning to Washington as soon as the plane is fueled— “No discussion.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 21-22] Yet, Bush adviser Karl Rove later says that at this time President Bush is hesitant to return to Washington because, “they've accounted for all four [hijacked] planes, but they've got another, I think, three or four or five planes still outstanding.” [New Yorker, 9/25/01] However, the FAA points out there are no such reports and that Bush had been quickly informed when domestic US skies were completely cleared at 12:16 p.m. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Federal Aviation Administration, Karl Rove
          

(4:33 p.m.): Air Force One Leaves Nebraska; Heads Toward Washington

      
This photo of Bush speaking to Cheney shortly after leaving Offutt is later used for Republican fundraising.
President Bush leaves Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for Washington. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Washington Times, 10/8/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(6:54 p.m.): Bush Returns to White House

       President Bush arrives at the White House, after exiting Air Force One at 6:42 p.m. and flying across Washington in a helicopter. [Salon, 9/12/01 (B); ABC News, 9/11/02; Washington Times, 10/8/02; CNN, 9/12/01; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

8:30 p.m.: Bush Gives Third Speech to Nation, Declares Bush Doctrine

      
Bush addresses the nation from the White House.
President Bush addresses the nation on live television. [CNN, 9/12/01] In what will later be called the Bush Doctrine, he states, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(9:00 p.m.): Bush Meets with Advisers, Declares War Without Barriers

      
President Bush (below television screen) meeting with the National Security Council in a bunker below the White House. In the far row from left to right, are Attorney General Ashcroft, President Bush, Chief of Staff Card, CIA Director Tenet, and counterterrorism "tsar" Ckarke. In the near row, Secretary of State Powell can be seen waving his hand, and National Security Advisor Rice sits to his right.
President Bush meets with his full National Security Council in the PEOC beneath the White House for about 30 minutes. He then meets with a smaller group of key advisers. Bush and his advisers have already decided bin Laden is behind the attacks. CIA Director Tenet says that al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan are essentially one and the same. Bush says, “Tell the Taliban We're finished with them.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02] He goes on to say, “I want you all to understand that we are at war and we will stay at war until this is done. Nothing else matters. Everything is available for the pursuit of this war. Any barriers in your way, they're gone. Any money you need, you have it. This is our only agenda.” When Rumsfeld points out that international law only allows force to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush yells, “No. I don't care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 23-24]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, National Security Council, George Tenet, George W. Bush, Taliban, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice
          

(11:30 p.m.): Bush Sees New Pearl Harbor

       Before going to sleep, President Bush writes in his diary, “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today. ... We think it's Osama bin Laden.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush
          


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