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8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001: Preparations Underway at Pentagon for President Bush’s Arrival Later in the Day Edit

Fire truck parked outside the Pentagon. [Source: Jon Culberson] Preparations are underway at the Pentagon heliport, located about 150 feet from the west side of the building, for the expected arrival of President Bush at around midday. Bush had left from the Pentagon the previous day for his visit to Florida. He occasionally uses the Pentagon heliport rather than the White House grounds when going by helicopter to and from Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base. [GOLDBERG ET AL., 2007, PP. 64] The White House grounds are unavailable because the annual congressional picnic is scheduled to take place there this afternoon. The White House hosts this event for members of Congress and select staffers; around 1,200 guests are due to attend, until the attacks lead to it being canceled. [SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE, 9/11/2001; SCHEIB AND FRIEDMAN, 2007, PP. 254-255; HAYES, 2007, PP. 344] Three firefighters from the fire department at nearby Fort Myer had arrived at the Pentagon at around 7:30 a.m. to man the fire station next to the heliport. [NEWSWEEK, 9/28/2001; JEMS, 4/2002, PP. 22 ; GOLDBERG ET AL., 2007, PP. 65] One of them, Alan Wallace, decides to pull the fire truck out of the fire station and place it in a position more accessible to the heliport landing pad. [FIRST DUE NEWS, 4/17/2003] The truck is equipped with the special chemical foam used in fighting jet fuel fires. [GOLDBERG ET AL., 2007, PP. 65] Wallace parks it about 15 feet from the Pentagon’s west wall, facing towards the landing pad. Wallace later recalls that, with many vehicles—belonging to the Secret Service and other agencies—expected to be around for the president’s arrival, “I wanted the crash truck out of the station and parked in a good location, for easy access to the heliport in case of an emergency.” [FIRST DUE NEWS, 4/17/2003] When the Pentagon is hit at 9:37, the aircraft will crash into an area of the building next to the heliport (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [USA TODAY, 9/12/2001; AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 9/7/2006] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Alan Wallace Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Shortly After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001: DC Air National Guard Officers Learn of First WTC Crash, Think It Is an Accident

Logo of the 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard. [Source: Air National Guard] Pilots and officers with the District of Columbia Air National Guard (DCANG) are notified of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, but mistakenly assume this must have been an accident and continue with a meeting they are holding. [RASMUSSEN, 9/18/2003; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/11/2004 ; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 122] The 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard, which includes the 121st Fighter Squadron, is based at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, 10 miles southeast of Washington. [DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AIR NATIONAL GUARD, 7/24/2001; GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 8/21/2005; GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 1/21/2006] Pilots and Flight Managers in Meeting - Some DCANG officers are currently in a conference room at their unit at Andrews, conducting the weekly scheduling meeting, where plans for the upcoming week are discussed. According to Captain Brandon Rasmussen, a pilot who is also the chief of scheduling with the unit, about five or six people are in the meeting. [RASMUSSEN, 9/18/2003; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/11/2004 ] As well as Rasmussen, those present include Major David McNulty, the senior intelligence officer of the 113th Wing; pilots Marc Sasseville and Daniel Caine; and a new officer, Mark Valentine. Officers Think Crash Is an Accident - An intelligence officer interrupts the meeting and says a plane has just flown into the WTC. However, the meeting participants assume the crash is an accident involving a small aircraft. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/8/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/11/2004 ; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 122] Rasmussen will later recall: “[A]ll of us in the meeting kind of looked at each other and looked outside the window, it was clear blue skies. It doesn’t get any more flying weather than that. So we thought, ‘What kind of a moron can’t see those big buildings right in front of them?’ We all figured it was just some light civil aircraft… little Cessnas, Piper Cubs, or whatever, someone doing some sightseeing flying up and down the Hudson and just not paying attention where he was going.” Therefore, “we continued on with the meeting, thinking we’d catch the news clips later on in the day.” The scheduling meeting will continue until its participants learn of the second plane hitting the WTC and realize this is a terrorist attack (see (9:04 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [RASMUSSEN, 9/18/2003; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/11/2004 ; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 122-123] Some at Base Suspicious about Crash - However, according to the Washington Post, at least some individuals with the DC Air National Guard are “immediately suspicious” upon hearing of the first crash. Pilot Heather Penney Garcia will recall having wondered, “How do you make a mistake like that?” (Penney Garcia is at the 121st Fighter Squadron headquarters at Andrews, though whether she is attending the scheduling meeting is unstated.) Only Four DCANG Pilots Available - Members of the 121st Fighter Squadron have just returned from “Red Flag,” a major training exercise in Nevada (see Late August-September 8, 2001). Most of the squadron’s pilots, who fly commercial planes in their civilian lives and are involved with the unit on only a part-time basis, are consequently away from the base on this day, either back at their airline jobs or on leave, according to different accounts. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 2/27/2004; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 156] Of the seven pilots the squadron has available at the base today, three have just taken off for a training mission over North Carolina (see 8:36 a.m. September 11, 2001), meaning only four available pilots are left at the base. [9/11 COMMISSION, 2/17/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 2/27/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/8/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/11/2004 ] DCANG Not Part of NORAD Air Defense Force - The DC Air National Guard flies the F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighter, and its mission includes providing “capable and ready response forces for the District of Columbia in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency.” [DC MILITARY (.COM), 6/2001; GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 8/21/2005] Unlike other Air National Guard units, it reports to the president, instead of a state governor. It works closely with Secret Service agents who are across the runway at Andrews Air Force Base, in the Air Force One hangar. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2002; VOGEL, 2007, PP. 445] According to Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine, the 121st Fighter Squadron is “not standing alert on Sept. 11” because the DC Air National Guard is “not assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command air defense force.” [AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 9/9/2002] Entity Tags: Brandon Rasmussen, Daniel Caine, David McNulty, Mark Valentine, Marc Sasseville, District of Columbia Air National Guard, Heather Penney Garcia Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

8:48 a.m. September 11, 2001: Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Preparing for Global Guardian Exercise When Attacks Start Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana is an important node in the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001) on 9/11. Colonel Mike Reese, director of staff for the 8th Air Force, is monitoring several television screens at the base as part of the exercise when he sees CNN cut into coverage of the first World Trade Center crash, two minutes after it happens. He watches live when the second plane hits the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. Reese says that at this point, “we knew it wasn’t a mistake. Something grave was happening that put the nation’s security at risk.” An article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune later recounts how awareness of the real attacks impacts those participating in the exercise: “Immediately [the Barksdale staff’s] focus turned to defense, securing Barksdale, Minot [North Dakota], and Whiteman [Missouri] air force bases, where dozens of aircraft and hundreds of personnel were involved in the readiness exercise ‘Global Guardian.’ The exercise abruptly ended as the United States appeared to be at war within its own borders. Four A-10s, an aircraft not designed for air-to-air combat, from Barksdale’s 47th Fighter Squadron, were placed on ‘cockpit alert,’ the highest state of readiness for fighter pilots. Within five minutes, the A-10s, equipped only with high intensity cannons, could have been launched to destroy unfriendly aircraft, even if it was a civilian passenger airliner.” Lt. Col. Edmund Walker, commander of the 47th Fighter Squadron, a novice pilot still in training, is sitting in his fighter along with other pilots in other fighters, ready to take off, when they are ordered back to the squadron office. They are told they are no longer practicing. Walker recalls, “We had to defend the base against any aircraft, airliner or civilian. We had no idea. Would it fly to the base and crash into the B-52s or A-10s on the flight line?” [TIMES-PICAYUNE, 9/8/2002] When President Bush’s Air Force One takes off from Sarasota, Florida, at approximately 9:55 a.m., it has no destination, and circles over Florida aimlessly. But around 10:35 (see (10:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001), it begins heading towards Barksdale Air Force Base. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002; CBS NEWS, 9/11/2002] It finally arrives at Barksdale around 11:45 a.m. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; CBS NEWS, 9/11/2002] It’s never been explained exactly why Bush traveled from Florida to Barksdale. The Daily Telegraph has reported, “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.” [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] Entity Tags: Offutt Air Force Base, Mike Reese, Global Guardian, Eni, James O. Ellis Jr Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 8:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Serious Communications Problems Experienced in Washington Area, Affect Key Government Officials In the Washington, DC, area, members of the public, emergency responders, and government officials experience serious communications problems. Telephone and cell phone services around the capital remain unavailable to members of the public for most of the day. [VERTON, 2003, PP. 149]

Particular problems are experienced around the Pentagon. Reportedly, cellular and landline telephone communications there are “virtually unreliable or inaccessible during the first few hours of the response,” after it is hit at 9:37 (see After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 7/2002, PP. C36] 

Some senior government officials also experience communications difficulties:

CIA Director George Tenet has problems using his secure phone while heading from a Washington hotel back to CIA headquarters, located about eight miles outside Washington (see (8:55 a.m.-9:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [INDEPENDENT, 11/6/2002; TENET, 2007, PP. 161-162] 
Secretary of State Colin Powell has to take a seven-hour flight from Peru, to get back to the capital. He later complains that, during this flight, “because of the communications problems that existed during that day, I couldn’t talk to anybody in Washington” (see (12:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] 
Between the time of the second WTC attack and about 9:45 a.m., Vice President Dick Cheney, who is at the White House, has problems reaching Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert at the US Capitol by secure telephone (see (9:04 a.m.-9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [DAILY HERALD (ARLINGTON HEIGHTS), 9/11/2002; HAYES, 2007, PP. 336-337] 
Even President Bush experiences difficulties communicating with Washington after leaving a school in Florida, and subsequently while flying on Air Force One (see (9:34 a.m.-11:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] 

A classified after-action report will later be produced, based on observations from a National Airborne Operations Center plane launched near Washington shortly before the time of the Pentagon attack (see (Shortly Before 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to one government official, the report indicates that the nation was “deaf, dumb, and blind” for much of the day. [VERTON, 2003, PP. 150-151] Members of the public in New York City also experience communications problems throughout the day, particularly with cell phones (see (After 10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Colin Powell, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Dennis Hastert, George J. Tenet, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:04 a.m.) September 11, 2001: DC Air National Guard Officers Realize US Is under Attack, Yet No Fighters Are Launched Pilots and officers with the District of Columbia Air National Guard (DCANG) at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, realize the US is under terrorist attack when they learn of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center, yet the first DCANG fighter to launch in response to the attacks will not take off until more than 90 minutes later. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 44; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 122-123] Intel Officer Reports Crash - The 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard, which includes the 121st Fighter Squadron, is based at Andrews. [DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AIR NATIONAL GUARD, 7/24/2001; GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 8/21/2005] Some of its pilots and officers who are in the unit’s weekly scheduling meeting at the base learned of the first crash when an intelligence officer interrupted their meeting to bring them the news, but they assumed it was an accident (see Shortly After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). After the second plane hits the WTC at 9:03 a.m., the intelligence officer returns. He bursts into the room, yelling: “It’s happened again! The second tower has been hit! And it’s on purpose!” [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/8/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/11/2004 ; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 122] Officers Realize This Is a 'Coordinated Attack' - Those in the meeting realize this is a terrorist attack. Captain Brandon Rasmussen, a pilot who is also the chief of scheduling with the unit, will later recall: “At that point [the] meeting adjourned, this is no longer a pure accident, somebody is meaning to do this. I think everybody knew that this was a coordinated attack that was happening. We had no idea who it was by, but it was definitely intentional when you get two airplanes hitting both towers.” The officers head down the hall to the break room, where the television is on. Seeing the coverage from New York, they realize that large airliners hit the towers, not “light civil aircraft” as they previously thought. People 'Launched into Action' - One officer exclaims, “Well, holy sh_t, if this is a terrorist attack, we need to get something in the air!” [RASMUSSEN, 9/18/2003; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 123] Lieutenant Colonel Steve Chase, who is at the operations desk, will later describe: “People just launched into action. There was a buzz in the unit. People got on the radio and telephones to higher headquarters.” [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2002] Leadership Only Acts after Pentagon Attack - However, Rasmussen will say that the 121st Fighter Squadron only takes proper action in response to the attacks after the Pentagon is hit at 9:37 a.m. He will recall that, after learning of the second attack, “we didn’t know what we could possibly do, that’s New York City way up the road. So… like everybody else in America, we’re just standing by and watching the news. Time dilatation between the towers being hit and when the Pentagon was hit, but the news [broke] about the Pentagon being hit, and by that time they were in our backyard. At that point, the squadron leadership went into action.… As soon as the Pentagon was hit, we knew that we were going to be sticking around home and being quite busy.” [RASMUSSEN, 9/18/2003] Brigadier General David Wherley, the commander of the DC Air National Guard, will only head across the base to assist the response at the 121st Fighter Squadron’s headquarters after the Pentagon attack occurs (see (Shortly After 9:39 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2002; VOGEL, 2007, PP. 445-446] Jets Take Off over 90 Minutes Later - According to Knight Ridder, “Air defense around Washington, DC, is provided mainly by fighter planes from Andrews.” [KNIGHT RIDDER, 9/11/2001] Yet the first DCANG fighter jet to take off in response to the attacks does not launch until 95 minutes after the second crash, at 10:38 a.m. (see (10:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and this has no missiles, only training ammunition. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 44] The first fully armed jets will take off from Andrews at 11:11 a.m. (see 11:11 a.m. September 11, 2001). [FILSON, 2003, PP. 84; 9/11 COMMISSION, 2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 2/17/2004] Entity Tags: 121st Fighter Squadron, District of Columbia Air National Guard, Steve Chase, Brandon Rasmussen Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:29 a.m.-9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Pentagon Command Center Begins High Level Conference Call

The National Miilitary Command Center, inside the Pentagon. [Source: National Military Command Center] Captain Charles Leidig is temporarily in command of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), “the military’s worldwide nerve center.” In response to the attacks on the World Trade Center, he convenes a conference call. [CNN, 9/4/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004 ] Telephone links are established between 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. 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, 6/3/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] NORAD command director Captain Michael Jellinek claims this call was initiated “at once” after the second WTC tower was hit. [AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 6/3/2002] However, the 9/11 Commission concludes it starts at 9:29 a.m. According to the commission, it begins as an all-purpose “significant event” conference. But at 9:30, Leidig states that it has just been confirmed that Flight 11 is still airborne and is heading toward Washington, DC. (This incorrect information apparently arose minutes earlier during a conference call between FAA centers (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001).) In response to this erroneous report, the significant event conference is ended at around 9:34. It then resumes at about 9:37 as an air threat conference call, which lasts for more than eight hours. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 37] This is broadcast over a loudspeaker inside the NMCC. [US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 8/31/2003] Brigadier General Montague Winfield, who later takes over from Leidig in charge of the NMCC, 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, 9/11/2002] The call continues right through the Pentagon explosion; the impact is not felt within the NMCC. [CNN, 9/4/2002] However, despite being in the Pentagon when it is hit, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld doesn’t enter the NMCC or participate in the call until 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Mike Jellinek, Montague Winfield, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush, National Military Command Center, Federal Aviation Administration, Charles Leidig, Donald Rumsfeld Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Asks White House Bunker for Air Force One Fighter Escort and Shootdown Authorization Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, who is in the White House Situation Room, requests a fighter escort for Air Force One and authorization for the Air Force to shoot down threatening aircraft. According to Clarke’s own account, when they see President Bush starting his short speech from the Booker Elementary School library on television (at about 9:30), he and others in the Situation Room briefly discuss getting the president away from the school to somewhere safer. Clarke then telephones the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, which contains Vice President Dick Cheney and others. He speaks with Army Major Mike Fenzel and instructs him: “Mike, somebody has to tell the president he can’t come right back here [to Washington]. Cheney, Condi, somebody. Secret Service concurs. We do not want them saying where they are going when they take off. Second, when they take off, they should have fighter escort. Three, we need to authorize the Air Force to shoot down any aircraft—including a hijacked passenger flight—that looks like it is threatening to attack and cause large-scale death on the ground. Got it?” Fenzel replies, “Roger that, Dick, get right back to you.” This conversation appears to take place shortly before the Pentagon attack occurs, so roughly around 9:35 or 9:36, as soon afterwards Secret Service Director Brian Stafford slips Clarke a note stating that radar shows an aircraft heading their way (see (9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and then Ralph Seigler, the Situation Room deputy director, reports an explosion having occurred at the Pentagon. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 6-7] However, it is unclear how long it takes for Clarke’s requests to be implemented. According to some accounts, fighters do not arrive to accompany Air Force One until an hour or more after it takes off (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Reports are also contradictory as to when shootdown authorization is given for the Air Force. According to Clarke’s own recollections, it is given between around 9:38 and 9:56 (see (9:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Other accounts, including that of the 9/11 Commission, state that it is not given until after 9:56, possibly as late as 10:20 (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Mike Fenzel Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:34 a.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Leaves Booker Elementary School for Sarasota Airport, Initially Heading in Wrong Direction; Possible Threat En Route

Bush’s motorcade on its way to the Sarasota airport. [Source: CBC] President Bush’s motorcade leaves Booker Elementary School bound for Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. It initially heads off in the wrong direction, though, and has to perform a U-turn in order to proceed toward the airport. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/8/2002; WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/22/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] 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, 9/16/2001] 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, 8/30/2002] ABC News reporter Ann Compton, who is part of the motorcade, recalls, “It was a mad-dash motorcade out to the airport.” [BBC, 9/1/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Kevin Down, Ann Compton, Andrew Card, Secret Service Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:34 a.m.-11:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: President’s Attempts at Communicating with White House Severely Hindered Edit

Bush trying to use a cell phone while sitting next to Andrew Card as his motorcade nears the Sarasota airport. [Source: Associated Press] After departing the Booker Elementary School, President Bush experiences problems trying to communicate with the White House. On his way to Air Force One, he is unable to get a secure phone line to Dick Cheney, and has to rely instead on using a borrowed cell phone. According to the CBC, even this cell phone doesn’t work. Lee Hamilton, vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, claims the difficulty is because the members of Bush’s entourage, all suddenly trying to call Washington, create a “communication jam.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; NEW YORK TIMES, 6/18/2004; OBSERVER, 6/20/2004; CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] Yet after boarding Air Force One the problems continue, despite the plane’s elaborate communications equipment. Bush will later tell the 9/11 Commission “that he was deeply dissatisfied with the ability to communicate from Air Force One,” and that “this was a very major flaw.” Thomas Kean, chair of the Commission, says Bush’s inability to communicate with the White House is “scary on both sides because the president is the only one who can give certain orders that need to be given.” [NBC, 4/4/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] Some time before 11:45 a.m., Bush’s senior adviser Karen Hughes tries calling him through the White House switchboard. In a shaky voice, the operator tells her, “Ma’am, we can’t reach Air Force One.” Hughes is very frightened as, she says, “I never had that happen before.” [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002; CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] Entity Tags: Lee Hamilton, Thomas Kean, George W. Bush, Karen Hughes Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Bush Learns of Attack on Pentagon While his motorcade is traveling from the Booker Elementary School to the Sarasota airport, President Bush learns about the attack on the Pentagon. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 39; FLEISCHER, 2005, PP. 141] How exactly Bush learns of it is unclear, as he is reportedly experiencing serious communications problems during this journey, being unable to contact his staff at the White House (see (9:34 a.m.-11:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] His chief of staff Andrew Card is also in the presidential limousine. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/8/2002] Card will later recall, “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, 9/11/2002] Entity Tags: Andrew Card, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Shortly After 9:39 a.m.) September 11, 2001: DC Air National Guard Commander Learns of Pentagon Attack, Rushes to Squadron Headquarters The commander of the District of Columbia Air National Guard (DCANG) at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, finally heads across the base to the headquarters of the 121st Fighter Squadron, which is part of the DCANG, and joins his officers in responding to the terrorist attacks. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2002; VOGEL, 2007, PP. 445-446] Squadron Leaders Not yet Gone 'Into Action' - Brigadier General David Wherley, the commander of the 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard, is in his office at Andrews. He has already given his officers the go-ahead to use the unit’s missiles, so they can be unloaded from storage and put onto fighter jets (see (Shortly After 9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 156-157, 184] However, according to Captain Brandon Rasmussen, one of the DCANG pilots, it is only after the Pentagon is hit that “the squadron leadership went into action.” [RASMUSSEN, 9/18/2003] Wherley Runs across Base - The Washington Post will report that Wherley’s “first inkling that the attacks would go beyond New York was when one of his officers, whose husband worked at the Pentagon, saw on television that the building had been hit and began shrieking.” After briefly comforting the woman, Wherley dashes from his office and runs several hundred yards across the base to the headquarters of the 121st Fighter Squadron. Wherley Doesn't Want Jets Launched Yet - Unlike other Air National Guard units, the DCANG reports to the president, rather than a state governor. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2002; VOGEL, 2007, PP. 445] Furthermore, since the Secret Service provides protection to the president, who is the commander in chief of the US military, it has some authority over the military, including the DCANG. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 123] DCANG squadron officers have already heard from their Secret Service contacts, who have asked them about getting fighters launched (see (Shortly After 9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [FILSON, 2003, PP. 78] But after arriving at the 121st FS headquarters, Wherley says he wants more explicit authorization before launching aircraft. He tells the squadron officers: “We have to get instructions. We can’t just fly off half-cocked.” [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2002; VOGEL, 2007, PP. 445-446] Takes over Call from White House - At the operations desk, Major Daniel Caine has recently been called by a Secret Service agent at the White House Joint Operations Center, who is requesting armed fighter jets over Washington. After Wherley has arrived at the 121st FS headquarters, Caine passes the phone to him, telling the caller, “Here’s my boss.” Caine then says, “I’m going to fly.” [FILSON, 2003, PP. 78; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/8/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/11/2004 ] Despite his responsibilities as the unit’s supervisor of flying, Caine has decided to get airborne himself, and heads off to join the other pilots preparing to take off from Andrews. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 76; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 184] Wherley will talk over the phone with the Secret Service, and try to obtain instructions for the launching of his fighter jets (see (Shortly After 9:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001, (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001, (10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001, and (Between 10:16 a.m. and 10:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/28/2003; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 184-185, 218] Entity Tags: David Wherley, Daniel Caine, District of Columbia Air National Guard, Brandon Rasmussen, 121st Fighter Squadron Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:43 a.m. September 11, 2001: President Bush Reaches Sarasota Airport and Boards Air Force One

Bush boards Air Force One in Sarasota, Florida, waving to people below as if the day were like any other. [Source: Agence France-Presse] President Bush’s motorcade arrives at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, racing across the tarmac there and pulling up close to Air Force One. Bush ascends the stairs by the left wing onto the plane. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 98-99; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 39] He pauses in the doorway to wave to photographers. The St. Petersburg Times will later note that this raises “further questions about security [on 9/11].” [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/4/2004] Meanwhile, 13 members of the press, and others such as congressmen Dan Miller (R) and Adam Putnam (R), hurry onto the plane through its rear entrance. [SARASOTA MAGAZINE, 9/19/2001; BBC, 9/1/2002] Secret Service agents with dogs hurriedly check people’s luggage. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/8/2002] Even White House employees who are wearing special lapel pins identifying themselves as such have their belongings checked by the bomb-sniffing dogs. According to journalist and author Bill Sammon, the mood is “extraordinarily tense.” A military aide snaps: “We gotta hurry up and get out of here. Let’s go!” [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 99] Secret Service agents are yelling, “Move it, move it, move it!” [BBC, 9/1/2002] But White House chief of staff Andrew Card is reportedly “frustrated because so many guests [have] come on the plane and [are] delaying the takeoff.” [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/8/2002] Air Force One will not take off until about 9:56 (see (9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] Entity Tags: Adam Putnam, Andrew Card, George W. Bush, Secret Service, Dan Miller Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Requests Protection for His Family

President Bush’s daughters Barbara and Jenna. [Source: ABC News] After boarding Air Force One, President Bush is concerned about the safety of his wife and daughters. [NEW YORKER, 9/25/2001] He heads directly to his private cabin near the front of the plane, and then his first act is to order his Secret Service agents to get additional protection for his twin daughters Barbara and Jenna, who are both at university, and his wife Laura, who is on Capitol Hill. By about 10:35, Bush will learn that all three have successfully been moved to safe locations. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 16; SAMMON, 2002, PP. 99-100 AND 108] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Secret Service Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Bush Aides Debate Where to Fly Air Force One 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.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Mark Tillman, Secret Service, Andrew Card Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Before 9:55 a.m. September 11, 2001: AWACS Plane on Training Mission Instructed to Follow Air Force One

Ben Robinson. [Source: US Air Force] An Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane is directed toward Sarasota, Florida, where President Bush is currently located, and will accompany Air Force One as it carries Bush back to Washington, DC. The AWACS has been flying a training mission off the east coast of Florida (see Before 9:55 a.m. September 11, 2001). NORAD now instructs it to head toward Sarasota, on Florida’s west coast. Pilot Thinks This Is an Exercise - Several months previously, Major General Larry Arnold, the commanding general of NORAD’s Continental US Region, made arrangements with Brigadier General Ben Robinson, the commander of the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, for AWACS support to be provided during training exercises simulating attacks on the United States. As Arnold will later recall, the pilot of the AWACS that NORAD now contacts “thought it was an exercise.” However the pilot is then told “what happened at the World Trade Center” and realizes “his responsibility was to follow the president.” Arnold will say: “We told him to follow Air Force One, and he asked the question we all asked: ‘Where is it going?’ We said: ‘We can’t tell you. Just follow it.’” [FILSON, 2002; CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 1/2002; FILSON, 2003, PP. 86-87] AWACS Escorts President to Washington - The time the AWACS plane gets close enough to Air Force One to be of assistance to it is unclear. According to journalist and author Bill Sammon, by around 10:30 a.m., it has not yet arrived to protect the president’s plane. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 107] Arnold will recall that NORAD maintains “the AWACS overhead the whole route,” as Air Force One flies to Barksdale Air Force Base, then Offutt Air Force Base, and then back to Washington. [CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 1/2002] AWACS Is a 'Wonderful Asset' - According to Mark Rosenker, the director of the White House Military Office, AWACS planes “give you the big picture in the sky. They’re able to identify what’s a friend, what’s a foe.” Rosenker, who will fly with Bush on Air Force One after it takes off from Sarasota (see (9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001), says the AWACS is “a wonderful asset to have up there for us, it tremendously helped us to be able to guide for where we needed to go, to what potential problems we might encounter.… [I]t was an important part of what we needed to do to guarantee the safety of the president of the United States.” [WHITE HOUSE, 8/29/2002] Entity Tags: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Larry Arnold, Mark Rosenker, 552nd Air Control Wing Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

After 9:55 a.m. September 11, 2001: Ellington Fighters Airborne on Local Training Mission Two F-16s from the 147th Fighter Wing, Ellington Air National Guard Base, Texas, are said to be already airborne on a local training mission when they are instructed to escort Air Force One after it departs Sarasota, Florida, with President Bush on board. [AMERICAN DEFENDER, 12/2001 ; CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 1/2002] Entity Tags: Ellington Air National Guard Base, 147th Fighter Wing, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Air Force One Gets Airborne Without Fighter Escort

Air Force One departs Sarasota. [Source: Associated Press] President Bush departs from the Sarasota, Florida, airport on Air Force One. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/12/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/16/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002; DAILY MAIL, 9/8/2002; ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002; CBS NEWS, 9/11/2002; WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/22/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] 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, 12/16/2001] There are still 3,520 planes in the air over the US. [USA TODAY, 8/13/2002] About half of the planes in the Florida region where Bush’s plane is are still airborne. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/7/2002] 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] Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Texas Air National Guard Jets Directed toward Air Force One

Two F-16s belonging to the 147th Fighter Wing. [Source: Gonda Moncada / Texas Military Forces] Four armed F-16 fighter jets belonging to the Texas Air National Guard are directed toward Air Force One in order to escort the president’s plane. [BBC, 9/1/2002; CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003; BOMBARDIER, 9/8/2006 ; ROSENFELD AND GROSS, 2007, PP. 40] SEADS Sends Fighters toward Air Force One - Air Force One has taken off from Sarasota, Florida (see (9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and the White House has requested a fighter escort for it (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001). [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/4/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 38] NORAD’s Southeast Air Defense Sector (SEADS) orders jets that belong to the 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard toward the president’s plane. [CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 4/2002; FILSON, 2003, PP. 87; ROSENFELD AND GROSS, 2007, PP. 40] Major General Larry Arnold, the commanding general of NORAD’s Continental US Region, will later recall: “We were not told where Air Force One was going. We were told just to follow the president.” [CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 1/2002] Ellington Field an 'Alert' Site - The 147th Fighter Wing is based at Ellington Field, a joint civil and military use airport about 15 miles south of Houston. [HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/9/2003; GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 8/21/2005; GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 1/21/2006] Ellington Field is one of NORAD’s seven “alert” sites around the US, which all have a pair of armed fighters ready to take off immediately if called upon. [AIRMAN, 12/1999; AIR FORCE MAGAZINE, 2/2002] Pilots Not Told What Their Target Is - Two of the F-16s sent toward Air Force One are on the ground at Ellington Field and have been placed on “battle stations,” with the pilots sitting in the cockpits, when the scramble order is received. [CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 4/2002] The other two have been flying a training mission (see After 9:55 a.m. September 11, 2001), and are pulled off it to escort Air Force One. [AMERICAN DEFENDER, 12/2001 ; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 255] Among the four pilots are Shane Brotherton and Randy Roberts. Their new mission is so secret that their commander does not tell them where they are going. When they ask what their target is, the commander says, “You’ll know when you see it.” Brotherton will later recall, “I didn’t have any idea what we were going up [for] until that point.” [CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 255] Jets First to Reach Air Force One - At least two of the 147th Fighter Wing F-16s will be seen from Air Force One at around 11:30 a.m., although an official will tell reporters on board that fighters are escorting the plane about 15 minutes before that time (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). They are the first fighters to reach Air Force One after it left Sarasota, according to most accounts. [USA TODAY, 9/11/2001; FILSON, 2003, PP. 87; CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003; ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/4/2004; ROSENFELD AND GROSS, 2007, PP. 40; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 255] However, a few accounts will indicate the first jets to reach it belong to a unit of the Florida Air National Guard located at Jacksonville International Airport (see (10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 9/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] The 147th Fighter Wing F-16s will accompany Air Force One all the way to Washington, DC. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87-88; GALVESTON COUNTY DAILY NEWS, 7/9/2005] Entity Tags: Larry Arnold, 147th Fighter Wing, Randy Roberts, Southeast Air Defense Sector, Shane Brotherton Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001: White House Finally Requests Continuity of Government Plans, Air Force One Escort, and Fighters for Washington According to the 9/11 Commission: “An Air Force lieutenant colonel working in the White House Military Office [joins] the [NMCC’s air threat] 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, DC.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gave the order to implement the Continuity of Government plan a few minutes earlier, from inside the White House Situation Room (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Before that, he had requested a fighter escort for Air Force One (see (Between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and combat air patrols over all major US cities (not just Washington), according to his own recollection (see (Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 7-8] Entity Tags: Stephen J. Hadley, Richard A. Clarke, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline, Civil Liberties

(10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Fighters Possibly Scrambled from Florida Air Base toward Air Force One, but Apparently Do Not Reach It

An F-15 Eagle from the 125th Fighter Wing. [Source: Shaun Withers / US Air Force] Fighter jets belonging to a military unit in Jacksonville, Florida, launch to escort Air Force One after it takes off from Sarasota, Florida (see (9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001), some accounts will later indicate. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/16/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] However, other accounts will indicate that these jets, if launched, never reach the president’s plane. [CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 1/2002; CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 255] Fighters Reportedly Launched - The New York Times will report that at 10:41 a.m., Air Force One is “headed toward Jacksonville to meet jets scrambled to give the presidential jet its own air cover.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/16/2001] And, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph, after Air Force One climbs to 40,000 feet, it is “joined by an escort of F-16 fighters from a base near Jacksonville.” [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] These reports are presumably referring to jets belonging to the 125th Fighter Wing, a unit of the Florida Air National Guard located at Jacksonville International Airport. The wing keeps two F-15s on alert at Homestead Air Reserve Base, near Miami, ready for immediate takeoff, as part of NORAD’s air sovereignty mission. [AIRMAN, 12/1999; GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 8/21/2005; FLORIDA AIR NATIONAL GUARD, 2009] Fighters Likely Launched from Homestead - If 125th Fighter Wing jets are scrambled to accompany Air Force One, it appears they would be the unit’s F-15s on alert at Homestead, rather than its fighters at Jacksonville Airport. Major Charles Chambers, who is at the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon, will state within a week of the attacks, “Fighters had been scrambled from Homestead [Air Reserve Base] and were escorting Air Force One westward.” [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 9/2001] In contrast, at Jacksonville International Airport, according to a 2007 report in the Florida Times-Union, “Within hours of the 2001 terrorist attacks, the wing’s aircraft were sitting on a JIA runway ready for the order to scramble.” [FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/15/2007] And an account published by the Florida Air National Guard will only say, “On Sept. 11, 2001, several loaded F-15 aircraft lined Runway 13/31 [at Jacksonville Airport] for the first time in history.” [EAGLE'S EYE, 2007 ] Fighters Apparently Do Not Reach Air Force One - Most accounts will contradict Chambers’ claim that, if indeed 125th Fighter Wing jets are scrambled toward the president’s plane, they are subsequently “escorting Air Force One westward.” According to the 1st Air Force’s book about 9/11, it is in fact “[f]our F-16s from the 147th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard,” that accompany Air Force One “from the panhandle of Florida to Barksdale Air Force Base.” [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87] CBS News will report that the first fighters to reach Air Force One are two F-16s from the 147th Fighter Wing (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 255] And Major General Larry Arnold, the commanding general of NORAD’s Continental US Region, will only say that 147th Fighter Wing F-16s “chased Air Force One and landed with the president at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana,” making no mention of any 125th Fighter Wing jets being scrambled. [CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 1/2002] At NORAD’s other alert site in Florida besides Homestead—a unit at Tyndall Air Force Base—the two alert fighters are put on “battle stations,” but apparently do not take off to escort Air Force One (see (10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87] Entity Tags: Larry Arnold, 125th Fighter Wing, Charles Chambers Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Updated on Fighter Situation, Told Flight 93 Still Headed toward Washington Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told by White House Situation Room Deputy Director Ralph Seigler, “Secret Service reports a hostile aircraft ten minutes out.” Two minutes later, he is given an update: “Hostile aircraft eight minutes out.” In actual fact, when Flight 93 crashed at 10:06 a.m., it was still about 15 minutes away from Washington. Clarke is also told that there are 3,900 aircraft still in the air over the continental US (which is roughly accurate); four of those aircraft are believed to be piloted by terrorists (which is inaccurate by this time). Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Richard Myers then reports: “We have three F-16s from Langley over the Pentagon. Andrews is launching fighters from the DC Air National Guard. We have fighters aloft from the Michigan Air National Guard, moving east toward a potential hostile over Pennsylvania. Six fighters from Tyndall and Ellington are en route to rendezvous with Air Force One over Florida. They will escort it to Barksdale.” [NORTH AMERICAN AEROSPACE DEFENSE COMMAND, 9/18/2001; CLARKE, 2004, PP. 8-9] However, fighters do not meet up with Air Force One until about an hour later (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Franklin Miller, a senior national security official who is working alongside Clarke on 9/11, and another official who is also in the Situation Room, will later fail to recall hearing any warning that a plane could be only minutes away. [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/30/2004] The time of this incident is unstated, but the Michigan fighters are not diverted until after 10:06 a.m. (see (After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001). If it takes place after 10:06 a.m., this would parallel similar warnings about Flight 93 after it has already crashed provided to Vice President Dick Cheney elsewhere in the White House (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Secret Service, Richard B. Myers, Franklin Miller, Ralph Seigler, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001: 1st Fighter Wing Cannot Assist NORAD as It Has Been Told to Stand By

Logo of the 1st Fighter Wing. [Source: US Air Force] The 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, notifies NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) that it is unable to provide fighter jets to escort the president’s plane, Air Force One, because a lieutenant general at the Air Combat Command (ACC) has instructed the wing to stand by. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 239-240] The White House has requested a fighter escort for Air Force One (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001), and officers at the headquarters of the Continental US NORAD Region in Florida have been calling around to find any available jets that might be able to provide that escort, irrespective of what branch of the military they belong to. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 38; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 239] Wing Told to Stand By - As a result, a colonel from the 1st Fighter Wing now calls NEADS. He says that although his unit would love to help, the lieutenant general at ACC has told it to stand by, as, technically, the wing belongs to ACC, not NORAD. Author Lynn Spencer will comment, “In times of war, commanders can waive a significant amount of the military bureaucracy and make such decisions.” However, “they are assuming an enormous personal responsibility if they do so and something terribly wrong happens.” Personnel at NEADS are thus “reminded of the military bureaucracy governing orders and authorizations.” [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 239-240] Wing's F-15s Take Off Following Attacks - F-15s from the 1st Fighter Wing will take off later on—“within two hours” of the terrorist attacks, according to one account—to provide “protection for the National Command Authority and the rest of the nation’s civilian and military leadership,” and to patrol the skies of the East Coast. [AIR FORCE ASSOCIATION, 10/2/2002; LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, 1/2005; 1ST FIGHTER ASSOCIATION, 3/14/2006] Eventually, fighters from Ellington Field in Texas and elsewhere will escort Air Force One (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 1/2002; FILSON, 2003, PP. 87] ACC Is Air Force's Combat Arm - The ACC, which is headquartered at Langley Air Force Base, is the main combat arm of the US Air Force, and is responsible for supplying forces to regional military commanders around the world. [VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 9/20/2001; US AIR FORCE, 2/26/2010] The 1st Fighter Wing is the “host unit” at Langley, and, as such, operates and maintains one of the largest fighter bases in the ACC. It includes three fighter squadrons, which fly the F-15 Eagle fighter jet. [VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 9/20/2001; LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, 11/2003; AIR FORCE PRINT NEWS, 11/9/2006] Entity Tags: Northeast Air Defense Sector, Air Combat Command, 1st Fighter Wing Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001: Cheney Calls Bush; Receives Shootdown Authorization, According to 9/11 Commission In a phone call with Vice President Dick Cheney, President Bush authorizes the military to shoot down hostile aircraft. Minutes earlier, in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, a military aide had asked Cheney for the authority to engage what appeared to be an inbound aircraft, and Cheney had promptly given it (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). During a subsequent quiet moment, deputy White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, who is also in the PEOC, suggested to Cheney that he contact the president to confirm the engage order. Therefore at 10:18 a.m., according to White House logs, Cheney calls Bush, who is on board Air Force One, and speaks with him for two minutes. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer notes that at 10:20 a.m., Bush informs him that he has authorized the shootdown of aircraft, if necessary. According to the 9/11 Commission, “Fleischer’s 10:20 note is the first mention of shootdown authority.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 41 AND 465] Bush’s senior adviser Karl Rove, who is also on Air Force One, gives a similar account, later telling NBC News that “at about 10:20,” Bush goes from his office into the private cabin in front of it, “and took a phone call, and came back in and said that he had talked to the vice president and to the secretary of defense and gave the authorization that [the] military could shoot down any planes not under control of their crews that were gearing critical targets.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] But other accounts indicate the president gives the shootdown authorization earlier than this. Bush and Cheney will claim that Bush gives the authorization during a call estimated to occur between about 10:00 and 10:15 (see (Between 10:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 40] Similarly, according to journalists Bob Woodward and Bill Sammon, Bush gives it in a call with Cheney soon after 9:56, when Air Force One takes off (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 102; WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 17-18; WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke says it is given even earlier. He states that, at some point between about 9:38 and 9:56, he is instructed to tell the Pentagon it has authorization from the president to shoot down hostile aircraft (see (9:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [ABC NEWS, 11/29/2003; CLARKE, 2004, PP. 8] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Ari Fleischer Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

10:32 a.m. September 11, 2001: Cheney Warns Bush of Apparent Threat to Air Force One; Official Account Murky, Disbelieved by Many 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. Later, many will express doubt about 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, 10/8/2002] A later account will call the threat “completely untrue,” and say 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, 12/16/2001] In 2004, the Wall Street Journal will investigate the alleged threat and report two differing accounts of this episode, one from White House spokesman Dan Bartlett, and the other from the office of Vice-President Cheney. No Actual Threat - Bartlett will say there had not been any actual threat, but that word of a threat results from confusion in the White House bunker, as multiple conversations go on simultaneously. Many of these exchanges apparently relate to rumors that turn out to be false, such as reports of attacks on the president’s ranch in Texas and the State Department. Bartlett will say, “Somebody was using the word ‘angel,’ [a code word for Air Force One and] that got interpreted as a threat based on the word ‘angel.’” Cheney's Account Changes - The vice president’s office will say it still could not rule out that a threat to Air Force One actually had been made. Cheney initially says word of the threat had been passed to him by Secret Service agents, but two former senior Secret Service agents on duty that day will deny their agency played any role in receiving or passing on the threat. An official in Cheney’s office will then say that Cheney was mistaken and that he had received word of the threat from “a uniformed military person” manning the underground bunker. Apparently, nobody knows the identity of this person. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/22/2004 ] Entity Tags: Martin Meehan, George W. Bush, Dan Bartlett, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Secret Service Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


(10:37 a.m.-11:09 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Plane Incorrectly Reported to Have Crashed at Camp David Edit

The press incorrectly reports that an airliner has crashed on or near Camp David. [DAILY RECORD (BALTIMORE), 9/12/2001; US DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, 3/2002] Camp David is the presidential retreat, located about 70 miles north of Washington, DC, in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland. [FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS, 10/2/2000; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 7/30/2007] On Air Force One, at 10:37, White House chief of staff Andrew Card relays to the president the incorrect report of the crash. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 108] At around 11:09, CBS News reports that “a plane apparently has crashed at or near Camp David.” [BROADCASTING AND CABLE, 8/26/2002] An early article by Forbes states, “There are reports of a fourth airliner [having] been brought down near Camp David… by US military fighters.” [FORBES, 9/11/2001] And an early report by the Northwestern Chronicle similarly states, “Air Force officials say an airliner has been forced down by F-16 fighter jets near Camp David.” [NORTHWESTERN CHRONICLE, 9/11/2001] Theresa Hahn, the catering manager for a restaurant in the Camp David area, hears the erroneous report. She subsequently describes, “Lots of fire trucks were on the road and no one can get up there.” But J. Mel Poole, the Catoctin Mountain Park superintendent, states there has been “no crash at Camp David.” [DAILY RECORD (BALTIMORE), 9/12/2001] At some point, the FAA calls the military to confirm the crash, and is reassured that no crash occurred at Camp David. [FRENI, 2003, PP. 42] The actual Flight 93 crash site is about 85 miles northwest of Camp David. [PBS, 9/11/2001] The Secret Service reportedly tells the White House that Flight 93 may have been on a course for Camp David. [PITTSBURGH CHANNEL, 9/11/2001] And, following a military briefing, Representative James Moran (D-VA) tells reporters that Flight 93 was apparently heading for Camp David. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001; WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/12/2001] (However, the 9/11 Commission will later state that its intended target was either the White House or the Capitol building. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 14] ) The source of the incorrect report of the Camp David crash is unclear. However, when the FAA’s Washington Center first informed NEADS that Flight 93 had crashed, at 10:15, it simply reported that it had gone down “somewhere up northeast of Camp David” (see 10:15 a.m. September 11, 2001), so this may have created some of the confusion. [VANITY FAIR, 8/1/2006] There are also numerous false reports of terrorist attacks having taken place in Washington, DC around this time (see (Between 9:50-10:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Some commentators make the connection that the 9/11 attacks come 23 years after the signing of the Camp David accords—a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt—on September 17, 1978. [FORBES, 9/11/2001; VILLAGE VOICE, 9/11/2001; DAILY RECORD (BALTIMORE), 9/12/2001] WCBS reports, “[T]here is speculation that perhaps, perhaps, this may be in retaliation for those accords.” [BROADCASTING AND CABLE, 8/26/2002] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, J. Mel Poole, Andrew Card, James Moran, Theresa Hahn, Secret Service Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(10:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Heads for Louisiana on Air Force One, Following Warning from Cheney and Rice

Bush’s travels on 9/11. [Source: Yvonne Vermillion/ MagicGrapix.com] After Vice President Dick Cheney had alerted the president to a possible threat to Air Force One (see 10:32 a.m. September 11, 2001), Bush and his aides had begun discussing whether to change directions. They are currently flying off the coast of South Carolina, about half way on their 900-mile journey from Florida back to Washington, DC. Bush had suggested diverting to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, but Cheney favored him heading to a military base, such as Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. At 10:41, Cheney had called the president again, telling him that both National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and himself agreed that Washington was no longer safe enough for Bush’s return. The president therefore gives the order for his plane to divert. Within minutes, Air Force One turns sharply to the left, and heads toward Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana, a distance of about 800 miles away. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 106-109; WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(10:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Air Force One Takes Evasive Action from False Alarm

Colonel Mark Tillman in the cockpit of Air Force One. [Source: CBS News] Col. 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, 9/11/2002] Reporters on board notice the rise in elevation. [SALON, 9/11/2001; DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/28/2002] The report is apparently a false alarm. Entity Tags: Secret Service, Mark Tillman Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 11:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Vladimir Putin Speaks with President Bush Russian President Vladimir Putin phones President Bush while he is aboard Air Force One. Putin is the first foreign leader to call Bush following the attacks. He earlier called the White House to speak with the president, but had to speak with Condoleezza Rice instead (see Between 10:32 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. September 11, 2001). Putin tells Bush he recognizes that the US has put troops on alert, and makes it clear that he will stand down Russian troops. US forces were ordered to high alert some time between 10:10 and 10:46 a.m. (see (10:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001) Bush later describes, “In the past… had the President put the—raised the DEF CON levels of our troops, Russia would have responded accordingly. There would have been inevitable tension.” Bush therefore describes this phone call as “a moment where it clearly said to me, [President Putin] understands the Cold War is over.” [US PRESIDENT, 10/1/2001; US PRESIDENT, 11/19/2001; CNN, 9/10/2002] Putin also sends a telegram to Bush today, stating: “The series of barbaric terrorist acts, directed against innocent people, has evoked our anger and indignation.… The whole international community must rally in the fight against terrorism.” [RUSSIAN EMBASSY, 9/17/2001] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Fighter Jets Finally Reach Air Force One to Escort It

President Bush (center, bending) and others look out the windows of Air Force One as their fighter escort arrives. [Source: White House] President Bush, his entourage, and reporters accompanying them on board Air Force One notice fighter jets escorting their plane for the first time. Air Force One is currently flying westward over Mississippi, toward Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. [USA TODAY, 9/11/2001; SAMMON, 2002, PP. 109; CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003] The White House requested a fighter escort for it (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001) and the Secret Service asked Major General Larry Arnold, the commanding general of NORAD’s Continental US Region, to provide that escort. [CODE ONE MAGAZINE, 1/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 38; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 255] Passengers Notice Fighters - Now, air traffic control radios Colonel Mark Tillman, the pilot of Air Force One, and notifies him, “[Y]ou’ve got two F-16s at about your—say, your 10 o’clock position.” [CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 255] Reporters on board notice a fighter flying alongside the plane’s right wing, and then spot another one alongside its left wing. [USA TODAY, 9/11/2001] According to a photographer on the plane, these jets are “so close that we could see the pilot’s head.” [BBC, 9/1/2002] Bush also notices the fighters. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 109] White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett will later recall: “The staff, and the president and us, were filed out along the outside hallway of his presidential cabin there and looking out the windows. And the president gives them a signal of salute, and the pilot kind of tips his wing, and fades off and backs into formation.” [CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003] Fighters Maybe Arrived Earlier, but Remained out of Sight - According to most accounts, the jets alongside Air Force One belong to the 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87; CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003; ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/4/2004; ROSENFELD AND GROSS, 2007, PP. 40; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 255] But a few accounts will indicate they belong to a unit of the Florida Air National Guard in Jacksonville (see (10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 9/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] Four 147th Fighter Wing jets have been directed toward the president’s plane to accompany it (see (After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87; ROSENFELD AND GROSS, 2007, PP. 40] But according to Sarasota Magazine, Air Force One is “currently being escorted by six jet fighters.” [SARASOTA MAGAZINE, 9/19/2001] Fifteen minutes earlier, at 11:14 a.m., an official, whose identity is unstated but who is not a member of the White House staff, told the reporters on Air Force One that the plane already had plenty of military escort, but the fighters were not visible at that time, presumably meaning they were escorting the plane from a distance. [USA TODAY, 9/11/2001] Jets Protecting '80-Mile Bubble' around Air Force One - The two jets seen by the passengers on Air Force One are reportedly being flown by pilots Shane Brotherton and Randy Roberts of the 147th Fighter Wing. Roberts will later recall, “We were trying to keep an 80-mile bubble… around Air Force One, and we’d investigate anything that was within 80 miles.” [CBS NEWS, 9/10/2003; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 255] The 147th Fighter Wing jets will accompany Air Force One to Barksdale Air Force Base, then on to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and finally to Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, DC. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87-88; GALVESTON COUNTY DAILY NEWS, 7/9/2005] Entity Tags: Dan Bartlett, 147th Fighter Wing, Randy Roberts, Mark Tillman, Shane Brotherton, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(11:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Congressmen Meet with President 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. September 11, 2001). [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/4/2004] Entity Tags: Adam Putnam, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Dan Miller Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

11:45 a.m. September 11, 2001: Air Force One Lands at Louisiana Air Force Base

Air Force One at Barksdale Air Force Base. [Source: Win McNamee/ Reuters] 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.” [SALON, 9/11/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/16/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; CBS NEWS, 9/11/2002] Entity Tags: Barksdale Air Force Base, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(12:58 p.m.-1:25 p.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Argues with Cheney and Others about Where He Should Go Next; Agrees to Stay Away from Washington President Bush spends most of his time at Barksdale Air Force Base arguing on the phone with Vice President Dick Cheney and others over where he should go next. The media are now starting to ask about the president’s whereabouts, and why he has not returned to Washington. “A few minutes before 1 p.m.,” Bush 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, 12/16/2001] In addition, there are reports of other unaccounted for planes that are seen as possible threats: two international flights and two domestic ones. A senior administration official will later comment, “That’s a potential of four missiles in the air, and we were concerned that if Air Force One landed in a predictable place, one of those planes could hit it on the ground.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/16/2001] At 1:25, Bush speaks with his chief of staff Andrew Card and the head of the Secret Service detail. He tells them: “I want to go back home ASAP. I don’t want whoever this is holding me outside of Washington.” But the Secret Service agent replies, “Our people say it’s too unsteady still,” and Card adds, “The right thing is to let the dust settle.” Bush acquiesces. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 119] In a book about the Secret Service, author Philip Melanson will later comment on the president’s failure to promptly return to Washington: “If the president appeared less than resolute at any point… it was the fault of agents who were overzealous in their desire to protect him, administration sources have offered.” Yet, “The Service, whose first duty that day or any other day is to protect the president, has never publicly pointed out that Bush could have overruled them at any time and ordered Air Force One to Washington, DC.” [MELANSON, 2002, PP. 326] Entity Tags: Andrew Card, Secret Service, George W. Bush, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

1:05 p.m. September 11, 2001: Report of Airplane Approaching President Bush’s Ranch Turns out to Be False Alarm

Logan Walters. [Source: SCF Partners] While he is at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, President Bush receives an intelligence report from the US Strategic Command (Stratcom), informing him that a high-speed object is heading for his ranch in Crawford, Texas. It is already more than 45 minutes since US airspace had been cleared of all aircraft except military and emergency flights (see 12:16 p.m. September 11, 2001). Bush orders an underling to notify everyone at the ranch about this. [NEW YORKER, 9/25/2001; SAMMON, 2002, PP. 117; CBS NEWS, 9/11/2002] In the White House Situation Room, they are also informed of the rogue aircraft. Logan Walters, who is Bush’s personal aide, calls the ranch’s caretaker and tells him, “Get as far away from there as you can.” Senior national security official Franklin Miller then receives a phone call informing him that a combat air patrol (CAP) has been established over the ranch. [DRAPER, 2007, PP. 142] (A CAP is an aircraft patrol with the purpose of intercepting and destroying hostile aircraft before they reach their targets. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 4/12/2001] ) Miller heads to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House to ask Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley about the CAP. Both men agree that it seems unnecessarily excessive. When Miller returns to the Situation Room, he sets about calling off the CAP, but finds that it was o’t even established to begin with, and that, furthermore, the report of a rogue aircraft was a false alarm. [DRAPER, 2007, PP. 143] A threat to Air Force One had allegedly been received earlier on (see 10:32 a.m. September 11, 2001), but this too is later deemed to have been a false alarm. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 554] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Franklin Miller, US Strategic Command, Logan Walters, Stephen J. Hadley Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(1:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Air Force One Leaves Louisiana; Flies to Nebraska President Bush leaves Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on Air Force One, and flies to Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base, where the US Strategic Command is located. 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, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; MSNBC, 9/22/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later reveals that the president’s decision to head to Offutt instead of returning to Washington is due to a plan called “Continuity of Government” (COG). This program, which dates back to the Reagan administration, originally planned to set up a new leadership for the US in the event of a nuclear war. It was activated for the first time shortly before 10:00 a.m. this morning (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 4/7/2004; ABC NEWS, 4/25/2004] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke, Dan Bartlett, Karl Rove, Gordon Johndroe, Ari Fleischer, Andrew Card Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(1:45 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Louisiana Air National Guard Fighters Scrambled to Protect Air Force One

An F-15 from the 159th Fighter Wing. [Source: Louisiana National Guard] Fighter jets belonging to the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 159th Fighter Wing are launched in order to accompany Air Force One after it takes off from Barksdale Air Force Base. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/30/2007] The 159th Fighter Wing is located at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. [GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 1/21/2006] SEADS Scrambles Fighters - Although the wing is not one of NORAD’s alert units around the US, NORAD’s Southeast Air Defense Sector (SEADS) scrambles four of its fighters around the time President Bush is leaving Barksdale Air Base on board Air Force One (see (1:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). The fighters had already been loaded with live missiles by the time Air Force One landed at the base (see 11:45 a.m. September 11, 2001). According to weapons officer Major Jeff Woelbling, “As we were all watching the news, the wing leadership decided to configure our jets and get ready.” Military Unaware of Air Force One's Route - At the time Air Force One leaves Barksdale, SEADS is unaware of its next destination. Lieutenant Colonel Randy Riccardi, the commander of the 122nd Fighter Squadron, which is part of the 159th Fighter Wing, will later recall, “When Air Force One took off out of Barksdale, we were scrambled because SEADS didn’t know his route of flight.” Riccardi will add: “We were in a four-ship and turned north toward Barksdale and the president was already airborne. We were 300 miles behind him since SEADS didn’t know where he was going.” The 159th Fighter Wing jets will accompany Air Force One until it is near Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (see 2:50 p.m. September 11, 2001). They then turn around and return to base. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87] When Air Force One landed at Barksdale, it was already being escorted by jets from the 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard (see (After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Those jets will continue escorting the president’s plane until it reaches Washington, DC. [GALVESTON COUNTY DAILY NEWS, 7/9/2005; BOMBARDIER, 9/8/2006 ] Entity Tags: 159th Fighter Wing, Randy Riccardi, Jeff Woelbling, Southeast Air Defense Sector Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

2:50 p.m. September 11, 2001: President Bush Arrives in Nebraska; Enters Strategic Command Center

The entrance to the Offutt Air Force Base’s bunker, very far underground. Bush officials are seen here entering it on 9/11. [Source: CBC] Having left Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana at around 1:30 p.m. (see (1:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), 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. [SALON, 9/11/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] 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. September 11, 2001). 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. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 2/27/2002; WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/8/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Offutt Air Force Base Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(4:33 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Pilots of Jets Escorting Air Force One Not Notified When President Leaves Offutt Air Base Fighter pilots who have been escorting Air Force One as it transports President Bush across the US are not informed that the president’s plane is departing Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and have to try and catch up with it after they hear it taking off. The pilots belong to the 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard. Four F-16s from the wing have been escorting Air Force One since before it landed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Pilots Told They Would Be Called When Air Force One Is Leaving - After Air Force One landed at Offutt Air Force Base (see 2:50 p.m. September 11, 2001), the F-16s landed there as well. The fighter pilots then met with Colonel Mark Tillman, the pilot of Air Force One. Tillman asked them about the capabilities of the F-16. He also took down their cell phone numbers and said he would call them when Air Force One would be leaving the base. However, he was unable to tell them where Air Force One would be going next, so the fighter pilots could not file a flight plan. The fighter pilots then headed off to get a snack and a drink. Air Force One Takes Off, Pilots Not Informed - However, they are not informed when Air Force One, with Bush on board, takes off from Offutt (see (4:33 p.m.) September 11, 2001). One of the fighter pilots, Major Shane Brotherton, will later recall: “We were eating our snacks and heard jet noise. It was Air Force One and they’d never called us. We got to the jets and he’s taxiing fast and never stopped. Now we’re taxiing fast and we blast off.” By the time the fighters are airborne, Air Force One is 100 miles ahead of them. Some Iowa Air National Guard fighters from Sioux City are also now airborne to protect the president’s plane, but the 147th Fighter Wing jets continue to follow it. Brotherton will recall: “All across the country we were playing catch up, because [Air Force One] was moving. And we didn’t catch up until we were nearing Washington.” [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87-88] Entity Tags: 147th Fighter Wing, Mark Tillman, Shane Brotherton Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Before 6:42 p.m. September 11, 2001: Unknown Aircraft Racing Toward Air Force One As Air Force One is approaching Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, with the president on board, the FAA reports an aircraft racing towards it. Fighters quickly intercept the aircraft, which turns out to be a Lear business jet, “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” [FILSON, 2003, PP. 88] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(6:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Makes Brief, Secret Visit to Pentagon? Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England will later claim that President Bush makes an unpublicized visit to the Pentagon at this time. In 2007, England will recall in a speech, “Then that night, on 9/11, we had a meeting in the Pentagon—and I remember this well, because the president came to the Pentagon that evening, at 6:15 in the evening… And the president came and met in the conference room right next to Secretary Rumsfeld’s office. And he came and he said, ‘Get ready.’ He said,‘Get ready.’ He said, ‘This is going to be a long war.’” [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 1/22/2007] If this account is true, then Air Force One must have flown very quickly from Nebraska (if reports are true Bush left at 4:33 (see (4:33 p.m.) September 11, 2001), the plane would have travelled at about 700 mph, faster than its official top speed of 600 mph), and Bush must have stayed at the Pentagon briefly before arriving live on camera at the White House around 6:45 (see (6:54 p.m.) September 11, 2001). If Bush did go to the Pentagon, is it not exactly clear why or why no account would mention it until 2007. Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Gordon England Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(6:54 p.m.) September 11, 2001: President 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, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/21/2002; ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002; WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/8/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 12, 2001: Threat to Air Force One? Stories Conflict White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer explains that President Bush went to Nebraska because “[t]here was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were targets.” The next day, William Safire of the New York Times writes, and Bush’s political strategist, Karl Rove, confirms, that the Secret Service believed “‘Air Force One may be next,’ and there was an ‘inside’ threat which ‘may have broken the secret codes [i.e., showing a knowledge of presidential procedures].’” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/13/2001 ] By September 27, Fleischer begins to backpedal on the claim that there were specific threats against Air Force One and/or the president, and news stories flatly contradict it. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/27/2001] 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, 12/16/2001] By 2004, a Bush spokesperson says there was no threat, but Cheney continues to maintain that there may have been. Cheney also claims the Secret Service passed him word of the threat, but two Secret Service agents working that day deny their agency played any role in receiving or passing on such a threat. The threat was allegedly based on the use of the word “Angel,” the code word for Air Force One, but Secret Service agents later note that the code word was not an official secret, but a radio shorthand designation that had been made public well before 2001. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/22/2004 ] Entity Tags: Ari Fleischer, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush, Secret Service, Karl Rove Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 1, 2002: Powell Contradicts Cheney; Says UN Inspectors Should Return to Iraq In an interview with the BBC, Secretary of State Colin Powell states that he favors the return of UN inspectors as a necessary “first step” in dealing with Iraq. He says: “Iraq has been in violation of these many UN resolutions for most of the last 11 or so years. So as a first step, let’s see what the inspectors find, send them back in, why are they being kept out.” Regarding the decision of whether or not the use of military action would be required, he says: “The world has to be presented with the information, with the intelligence that is available. A debate is needed within the international community so that everybody can make a judgment about this.” [INDEPENDENT, 9/2/2002] His comments directly contradict statements made by Vice President Dick Cheney in a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on August 7 (see August 7, 2002), and another speech to the Nashville convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on August 26 (see August 26, 2002). White House Insists No Conflict - Interestingly, it also comes one day after Scott McClellan, the White House deputy press secretary, told reporters: “The view of the administration is united and one in the same. We are singing from the same songbook.” [CNN, 8/30/2002] But commentators are concluding otherwise, which spurs another statement from Washington, this one from White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who the next day tells reporters as they accompany him on Air Force One: “There is no difference in position between Cheney, Powell, and President Bush. It’s much ado about no difference.” [CNN, 9/3/2002] Powell 'Shocked' at Cheney's Remarks - Privately, Powell is “shocked” by Cheney’s statements, according to his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson. Wilkerson will later recall: “Here we were saying one thing out of one side of our mouth, and here was the vice president speaking to what you might call a semi-official military audience and he was saying the exact opposite. Undercutting every bit of diplomacy before that diplomacy actually got off the ground. And I remember Powell coming back from a principals’ meeting where he had made some remonstrance to the president about what’s going on. And the president had said something which he was wont to say about most things like this. He said, ‘Oh, that’s just Dick.’” [DUBOSE AND BERNSTEIN, 2006, PP. 176-177] Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Ari Fleischer, Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson, Scott McClellan Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

July 7, 2003: State Department Memo Identifying Plame Wilson Sent to Powell through White House The State Department sends a memo (see June 10, 2003) to Secretary of State Colin Powell as he is traveling with President Bush and other senior White House officials to Africa. Powell is seen during the flight walking around Air Force One with the memo in his hand. The memo concerns the trip by former ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger, where he learned that allegations of Iraq attempts to purchase Nigerien uranium were false (see February 17, 2003, March 7, 2003, March 8, 2003, and 3:09 p.m. July 11, 2003), and reveals his wife as a covert CIA agent. [NEW YORK TIMES, 7/16/2005; RICH, 2006, PP. 180] The paragraph identifying Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA official is marked “S-NF,” signfying its information is classified “Secret, Noforn.” Noforn is a code word indicating that the information is not to be shared with foreign nationals. [WASHINGTON POST, 7/21/2005; NEWSWEEK, 8/1/2005] When Wilson’s op-ed debunking the uranium claim and lambasting the administration for using it as a justification for war appears in the New York Times (see July 6, 2003), Powell’s deputy, Richard Armitage, calls Carl Ford, the head of the State Department’s internal intelligence unit, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) at Ford’s home. Armitage asks Ford to send a copy of the Grossman memo to Powell, who is preparing to leave for Africa with Bush. Ford sends a copy of the memo to the White House for transmission to Powell. The memo relies on notes by an analyst who was involved in a February 19, 2002 meeting to discuss whether to send someone to Africa to investigate the uranium claims, and if so, who (see February 19, 2002). The notes do not identify either Wilson or his wife by name, and erroneously state that the meeting was “apparently convened by” the wife of a former ambassador “who had the idea to dispatch” her husband to Niger because of his contacts in the region. Wilson is a former ambassador to Gabon. Plame Wilson has said that she suggested her husband for the trip, introduced him at the meeting, and left after about three minutes (see February 13, 2002). The memo identifies Wilson’s wife as Valerie Wilson; when conservative columnist Robert Novak outs her as a CIA agent (see July 14, 2003), he identifies her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame. The memo will later become a matter of intense interest to investigators attempting to learn how Plame Wilson’s identity was leaked to the press (see (July 15, 2005)). [NEW YORK TIMES, 7/16/2005; RICH, 2006, PP. 180] Entity Tags: Joseph C. Wilson, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, George W. Bush, Carl W. Ford, Jr., Valerie Plame Wilson, Richard Armitage, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of State, Colin Powell, Robert Novak Timeline Tags: Niger Uranium and Plame Outing

July 11, 2003: White House Media Officials Urge Reporters to Look into Origins of Wilson Niger Trip While aboard Air Force One (see July 11, 2003), White House communications director Dan Bartlett and press secretary Ari Fleischer urge reporters, including Time correspondent John Dickerson, to write about the origins of Joseph Wilson’s CIA-backed mission to Niger (see February 21, 2002-March 4, 2002). Dickerson will later write that when he subsequently learns Wilson’s wife is a CIA official (see July 14, 2003), he then understands what he calls “the wink-wink nudge-nudge I was getting about who sent Wilson.” [OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL, 10/3/2005 ; SLATE, 2/7/2006] Entity Tags: Bush administration, Ari Fleischer, Joseph C. Wilson, John Dickerson, Dan Bartlett Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda, Niger Uranium and Plame Outing

1:26 p.m. July 12, 2003: White House Press Secretary Reveals Plame Wilson’s CIA Identity to Post Reporter White House press secretary Ari Fleischer reveals Valerie Plame Wilson’s CIA status to Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. Fleischer, returning from Africa aboard Air Force One, attacked the credibility of Plame Wilson’s husband, war critic Joseph Wilson, just hours before (see 3:20 a.m. July 12, 2003). Since then, Vice President Dick Cheney has coordinated a White House strategy to discredit Wilson (see July 12, 2003). Fleischer tells Pincus that the White House paid no attention to the 2002 mission to Niger by Wilson (see February 21, 2002-March 4, 2002) because it was set up as a boondoggle by Wilson’s wife, whom Fleischer incorrectly identifies as an “analyst” with the agency working on WMD issues. Pincus will not reveal the Fleischer leak until October 2003. [PINCUS, 7/12/2003 ; NIEMAN WATCHDOG, 7/6/2005; MARCY WHEELER, 2/12/2007] Reporter Murray Waas will later write that Fleischer outed Plame Wilson to Pincus and others “in an effort to undermine Wilson’s credibility.” [AMERICAN PROSPECT, 4/22/2005] Fleischer will later testify that he did not inform Pincus of Plame Wilson’s identity (see June 10, 2004 and January 29, 2007). “No sir,” he will say. “I would have remembered it if it happened.” [MARCY WHEELER, 1/29/2007] Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Joseph C. Wilson, Bush administration, Ari Fleischer, Murray Waas, Valerie Plame Wilson, Walter Pincus Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda, Niger Uranium and Plame Outing

September 7, 2003: ’Propaganda’ Docudrama of 9/11 Airs, Portrays Bush as ‘Action-Movie Superhero’

The video sleeve for ‘DC 9/11.’ [Source: Internet Movie Database (.com)] Showtime broadcasts a “docudrama” about the 9/11 attacks and the White House’s response, entitled DC 9/11: Time of Crisis. According to New York Times author and media critic Frank Rich, the film drastically rewrites history to portray President Bush as “an unironic action-movie superhero.” In the movie, Bush—portrayed by actor Timothy Bottoms, who played Bush in Comedy Central’s satiric That’s My Bush!—is shown overruling his Secret Service detail and ordering Air Force One to return to Washington immediately, an event which never happened (see 10:32 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (4:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). “If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come and get me!” the movie Bush shouts. “I’ll be at home, waiting for the b_stard!” The movie Bush has other lines that establish his desire to get back to Washington, including, “The American people want to know where their damn president is!” and “People can’t have an AWOL president!” In one scene, a Secret Service agent questions Bush’s demand to return to Washington by saying, “But Mr. President—” only to be cut off by Bush, who snaps, “Try ‘Commander in Chief.’ Whose present command is: Take the president home!” In reality, most of the orders on 9/11 were given by Vice President Dick Cheney and counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, but in the movie, Bush is the man in charge. “Hike military alert status to Delta,” he orders Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. “That’s the military, the CIA, foreign, domestic, everything,” he explains. “And if you haven’t gone to Defcon 3, you oughtta.” To Cheney, he barks: “Vice? We are at war.” The White House team are, in Rich’s words, “portrayed as the very model of efficiency and derring-do.” [WASHINGTON POST, 6/19/2003; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/5/2003; RICH, 2006, PP. 25-26] New York Times reviewer Alessandra Stanley notes that Bush is the unquestioned hero of the film, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair portrayed as “not very eloquent” and Cheney depicted as “a kowtowing yes-man.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/5/2003] Conservative Pundits Influenced Script - The movie is produced by Lionel Chetwynd, whom Rich calls “the go-to conservative in B-list Hollywood.” For the movie script, Chetwynd was given unprecedently broad access to top White House officials, including Bush. He also received the assistance of conservative Washington pundits Charles Krauthammer, Morton Kondracke, and Fred Barnes, who cover the Bush White House for such media outlets as Fox News, the Weekly Standard, and the Washington Post. Rich later writes that much of the film seems based on Bob Woodward’s “hagiographic [book] Bush at War (see November 25, 2002).” [WASHINGTON POST, 6/19/2003; RICH, 2006, PP. 25-26] Propaganda Effort? - Before the movie airs, Toronto Sun columnist Linda McQuaig called the film an attempt to mythologize Bush in a fashion similar to Hollywood’s re-creation of the Wild West’s Wyatt Earp, and wrote that the film “is sure to help the White House further its two-pronged reelection strategy: Keep Americans terrified of terrorism and make Bush look like the guy best able to defend them.” Texas radio commentator Jim Hightower added that the movie would present Bush as “a combination of Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger.… Instead of the doe-eyed, uncertain, worried figure that he was that day, Bush-on-film is transformed into an infallible, John Wayne-ish, Patton-type leader, barking orders to the Secret Service and demanding that the pilots return him immediately to the White House.” Chetwynd himself has acknowledged that he is a “great admirer” of Bush, and has close ties to the White House. In late 2001, Bush appointed him to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. “This isn’t propaganda,” Chetwynd insisted during the shooting of the movie, adding: “Everything in the movie is [based on] two or three sources. I’m not reinventing the wheel here.… I don’t think it’s possible to do a revision of this particular bit of history. Every scholar who has looked at this has come to the same place that this film does. There’s nothing here that Bob Woodward would disagree with.… It’s a straightforward docudrama. I would hope what’s presented is a fully colored and nuanced picture of a human being in a difficult situation.” [WASHINGTON POST, 6/19/2003] Rich will later write that the film is “unmistakably a propaganda effort on behalf of a sitting administration.” [RICH, 2006, PP. 25-26] Blaming the Clinton Administration - Perhaps most questionably, Stanley writes, the film “rarely misses a chance to suggest that the Clinton administration’s weakness was to blame for the disaster.” Bush, she notes, is portrayed as a more decisive leader than his predecessor: in the film, he tells Blair over the telephone: “I want to inflict pain [on the attackers]. Bring enough damage so they understand there is a new team here, a fundamental change in our policy.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/5/2003] 9/11 Widow Unhappy with Film - Kristen Breitweiser, who lost her husband in the attack on the World Trade Center, calls the film “a mind-numbingly boring, revisionist, two-hour-long wish list of how 9/11 might have gone if we had real leaders in the current administration.” She adds: “It is understandable that so little time is actually devoted to the president’s true actions on the morning of 9/11. Because to show the entire 23 minutes from 9:03 to 9:25 a.m., when President Bush, in reality, remained seated and listening to ‘second grade story-hour’ while people like my husband were burning alive inside the World Trade Center towers, would run counter to Karl Rove’s art direction and grand vision.” Breitweiser questions numerous aspects of the film: “Miscellaneous things that surprised me included the fact that the film perpetuates the big fat lie that Air Force One was a target. Forgive me, but I thought the White House admitted at the end of September 2001 that Air Force One was never a target, that no code words were spoken and that it was all a lie (see 10:32 a.m. September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2001). So what gives?… Not surprisingly, there is no mention of accountability. Not once does anyone say, ‘How the hell did this happen? Heads will roll!’ I was hoping that, at least behind closed doors, there were words like, ‘Look, we really screwed up! Let’s make sure we find out what went wrong and that it never happens again!’ Nope, no such luck.” [SALON, 9/8/2003] Entity Tags: Charles Krauthammer, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Richard A. Clarke, Showtime, Alessandra Stanley, Tony Blair, Bob Woodward, Morton Kondracke, Lionel Chetwynd, Timothy Bottoms, Kristen Breitweiser, Donald Rumsfeld, Clinton administration, Fred Barnes, Frank Rich, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, Linda McQuaig, Jim Hightower Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Domestic Propaganda, 2004 Presidential Election

November 27, 2003: President Bush Visits Troops in Baghdad for Thanksgiving

President Bush holding the fake turkey. [Source: AP / Anja Niedringhaus] President Bush makes a surprise visit to Iraq to have a carefully staged “Thanksgiving dinner with the troops” at the Baghdad International Airport. [WHITE HOUSE, 11/27/2003] Most of the 600 or so troops present for the meal are from the Army’s 1st Armored Division and 82nd Airborne units. For security reasons, Bush never leaves the airport, and leaves shortly after the meal. Bush’s entrance is carefully choreographed, with Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer telling the gathered troops that the most senior official present should read Bush’s Thanksgiving proclamation. Then, turning to a curtained-off area and asking, “Is there anybody back there who’s more senior than us?” Bush enters the area wearing military fatigues. [USA TODAY, 11/27/2003] Fake Turkey - Bush poses with a lovely, huge, golden-brown turkey. The turkey is not real, but merely a prop prepared by the food service arm of Kellogg, Brown and Root. The troops actually eat turkey and vegetables from a cafeteria-style steam tray. White House officials later claim not to have known about the enormous decorative bird, and say that Bush’s memorable photo-op of him holding the fake turkey was an impromptu moment that was not planned in advance. Military sources later say that such decorative turkeys are standard features of holiday “chow lines.” [CBS NEWS, 11/27/2003] Some Soldiers Denied Dinner - Not all the soldiers at the airport are able to eat with the president, or in fact are able to eat at all. In December, Sergeant Loren Russell writes in a letter to Stars & Stripes that soldiers from his unit were denied entrance to the Bob Hope Dining Facility, where Thanksgiving dinner was being served, “because they were in the wrong unit.” Russell writes that his soldiers “understand that President Bush ate there and that upgraded security was required. But why were only certain units turned away? Why wasn’t there a special meal for President Bush and that unit in the new dance hall adjoining the 1st Armored Division’s band building? And all of this happened on Thanksgiving, the best meal of the year when soldiers get a taste of home cooking.” [STARS AND STRIPES, 1/27/2007] Secret Flight - The trip to Iraq is conducted under conditions of extreme secrecy; only Laura Bush and a very few top officials are told of the planned visit. Had word leaked of the trip, it would have been canceled. Most White House officials and reporters are told that Bush would spend the holiday at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Instead, Bush, accompanied by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, is driven away in an unmarked vehicle. At a nearby airport, he boards Air Force One from the back stairs instead of the usual front entrance. After stopping at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, where the entourage picks up a few aides, and four reporters and one camera crew sworn to secrecy, the aircraft departs for Iraq. In all, the press corps traveling with the president totals five reporters, five photographers, a TV producer, and a two-person camera crew. All the media members in the group had agreed to surrender their cell phones and wireless e-mail devices beforehand in order to keep them from surreptitiously reporting on the impending trip. [USA TODAY, 11/27/2003; PRESSTHINK, 12/3/2003; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/14/2006] Public Relations Effort - According to New York Times columnist and media reporter Frank Rich, the trip was set in motion by the White House’s public relations team and its desire to chase the Chinook tragedy (see November 2, 2003 and November 2, 2003) off the front pages. [RICH, 2006, PP. 110] White House officials say that Bush had been talking about such a visit for weeks, and the final decision to go was reached the day before in a conference call between Bush and Vice President Cheney. [USA TODAY, 11/27/2003] Journalism professor Jay Rosen later observes that the willing participation of reporters in this kind of event destroys the boundaries between reporters and the subjects they cover. Rosen will write: “The whole notion of the trip as an independently existing thing that could be ‘covered’ is transparently false, as the White House warning to journalists demonstrates. If word leaked out, the trip was to be canceled—it would no longer exist—and the airplane would turn around and head back to Washington. That does not mean the trip was illegitimate to undertake or to treat as news; but it does mean that its potential legitimacy as news event lies outside the logic of ‘things happen and we cover them’ or ‘the president took decisive action and the press reported it.’ Here, the press took action and it was equally decisive. It agreed, first, to go along and record the scene and then to keep the flight a secret; and these decisions by journalists were not incidental to Bush’s decision to go but integral to it. Would the trip have made sense, would the danger have been justified, if reporters and camera crews were not taken along? The answer is clearly no. But this means the press is part of the presidency, an observation that, while true enough, makes it harder to cover the presidency as an independently existing thing.” [PRESSTHINK, 12/3/2003] Negative Reactions - An Army nurse at the American hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, which receives and treats wounded US troops coming from Iraq and Afghanistan, has a different take on Bush’s visit. In an e-mail to the Boston Globe, the nurse, who does not wish her name made public, will write: “My ‘Bush Thanksgiving’ was a little different.… I spent it at the hospital taking care of a young West Point lieutenant wounded in Iraq. He had stabilization of his injuries in Iraq and then two long surgeries here for multiple injuries; he’s just now stable enough to send back to the USA. After a few bites of dinner I let him sleep, and then cried with him as he woke up from a nightmare. When he pressed his fists into his eyes and rocked his head back and forth he looked like a little boy. They all do, all 19 on the ward that day, some missing limbs, eyes, or worse.… It’s too bad Mr. Bush didn’t add us to his holiday agenda. The men said the same, but you’ll never read that in the paper. Mr. President would rather lift fake turkeys for photo ops, it seems. Maybe because my patients wouldn’t make very pleasant photos… most don’t look all that great, and the ones with facial wounds and external fixation devices look downright scary. And a heck of a lot of them can’t talk, anyway, and some never will talk again.… Well, this is probably more than you want to know, but there’s no spin on this one. It’s pure carnage.… Like all wars, the ‘shock and awe’ eventually trickles down to blood and death. But you won’t see that. I do, every single day.” Globe columnist Joan Vennochi will add: “How much of this is enough for the president of the United States? It depends whether the goal is public relations for a presidential campaign or public acknowledgment of the consequences of war—the human consequences. They are convalescing in places like Landstuhl.” [BOSTON GLOBE, 12/11/2003] In 2007, author Annia Ciezadlo will recall her Thanksgiving in Baghdad during the same time. Ciezadlo, who spent the holiday with an Iraqi family, will write: “We saw pictures of him later, serving Thanksgiving dinner to American soldiers, posing like a waiter with a great big [turkey] on a tray. He never left the base. ‘You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq,’ he told the troops, ‘so we don’t have to face them in our own country.’ An Iraqi friend once told me it was that line about fighting in Iraq to make America safer that turned his adoration of Mr. Bush into hatred.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 11/27/2007] Entity Tags: Dan Bartlett, Frank Rich, George W. Bush, Annia Ciezadlo, Kellogg, Brown and Root, Condoleezza Rice, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, US Department of the Army, Loren Russell, Laura Bush, Jay Rosen, L. Paul Bremer Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation, Domestic Propaganda, 2004 Presidential Election

January 22, 2004: Grand Jury Subpoenas White House Records The federal grand jury investigating the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert CIA identity subpoenas a large amount of White House records, including Air Force One telephone logs from the week before Plame Wilson’s public outing (see July 14, 2003); records created in July 2003 by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG—see August 2002), a White House public relations group tasked with crafting a public relations strategy to market the Iraq war to the public; a transcript of press secretary Ari Fleischer’s press briefing in Nigeria currently missing from the White House’s Web site (see 3:20 a.m. July 12, 2003); a list of guests at former President Gerald Ford’s July 16, 2003 birthday reception; and records of Bush administration officials’ contacts with approximately 25 journalists and news media outlets. The journalists include Robert Novak, the columnist who outed Plame Wilson, Newsday reporters Knut Royce and Timothy Phelps (see July 21, 2003), five Washington Post reporters including Mike Allen and Dana Priest (see September 28, 2003 and October 12, 2003), Time magazine’s Michael Duffy (see 11:00 a.m. July 11, 2003), NBC’s Andrea Mitchell (see July 8, 2003 and October 3, 2003), MSNBC’s Chris Matthews (see July 21, 2003), and reporters from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press. The subpoenas will be accompanied by a January 26 memo from White House counsel Alberto Gonzales that will set a January 29 deadline for production of the subpoenaed documents and records. Gonzales will write that White House staffers will turn over records of any “contacts, attempted contacts, or discussion of contacts, with any members of the media concerning [former ambassador Joseph] Wilson, his trip, or his wife, including but not limited to the following media and media personnel.” White House spokeswoman Erin Healy later says, “The president has always said we would fully comply with the investigation, and the White House counsel’s office has directed the staff to fully comply.” White House press secretary Scott McClellan will say: “It’s just a matter of getting it all together.… At this point, we’re still in the process of complying fully with those requests. We have provided the Department of Justice investigators with much of the information and we’re continuing to provide them with additional information and comply fully with the request for information.” [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, 1/22/2004; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, 1/22/2004; NEWSDAY, 3/5/2004; WASHINGTON POST, 3/6/2004] Entity Tags: Chris Matthews, US Department of Justice, Bush administration, Valerie Plame Wilson, Wall Street Journal, White House Iraq Group, Ari Fleischer, Time magazine, Alberto R. Gonzales, Andrea Mitchell, Scott McClellan, Timothy Phelps, Newsday, Gerald Rudolph Ford, Erin Healy, Dana Priest, Knut Royce, Robert Novak, NBC News, Michael Duffy, Associated Press, New York Times, MSNBC, Mike Allen Timeline Tags: Niger Uranium and Plame Outing

March 30, 2004: Senior Official Disputes Richard Clarke’s Account of 9/11

Franklin Miller. [Source: The Cohen Group] A national security official that worked alongside counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke on September 11 openly disputes Clarke’s account of events in the White House Situation Room on 9/11. [SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 3/31/2004] Clarke has put forward his account in the dramatic first chapter of his just-published book Against All Enemies, which has already topped the Amazon.com bestsellers list. [REUTERS, 3/26/2004; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 3/30/2004] His critic, Franklin Miller, is a senior aide to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who admits that he was often a bureaucratic rival of Clarke. Miller tells the New York Times that almost none of the conversations described in the first chapter of Clarke’s book match his own recollection of events. [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/30/2004]

In his book, Clarke recalls the Secret Service requesting fighter escorts to protect Air Force One after it took off from Sarasota, Florida, where the president had been visiting an elementary school. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 6] However, Miller says a young aide in the Situation Room had in fact made this request to him. He had initially told the aide he had seen too many movies, but after reconsidering had asked Condoleezza Rice whether to call up fighter support, and she had told him to go ahead. [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/30/2004] 
Clarke’s book claims that Miller had urged Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to take a helicopter out of the burning Pentagon, and Rumsfeld responded, “I am too goddamn old to go to an alternate site.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 8-9] Miller says he never spoke to Rumsfeld on 9/11. [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/30/2004] 
Clarke recounts how the Situation Room Deputy Director Ralph Seigler had called out, “Secret Service reports a hostile aircraft ten minutes out,” left the room, and then returned soon after to report, “Hostile aircraft eight minutes out” (see (After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 9-10] Yet Miller and Sean McCormack, the spokesman of the National Security Council who was also in the Situation Room that morning, do not recall this. They say that Seigler himself denies making such an announcement, though Seigler declines to be interviewed by the New York Times about it. [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/30/2004] 
Clarke claims that at one point he had gathered his staff from the Situation Room around him and told them to leave for their own safety, but they had declined. He had written that Miller then “grabbed a legal pad and said, ‘All right. If you’re staying, sign your name here,’” so a list could be e-mailed out of the building. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 12] But Miller says, “That paragraph was a complete fiction,” adding that he made no such statement. According to Miller, Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had instructed the staff members to keep the Situation Room running, and there had never been any question about whether they could stay or go. [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/30/2004] 

Miller says Clarke “did a hell of a job that day. We all did.” But he says Clarke’s account is “a much better screenplay than reality was.” The New York Times is unable to contact Clarke to get his response to Miller’s allegations. [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/30/2004] Entity Tags: Sean McCormack, Richard A. Clarke, Ralph Seigler, Franklin Miller Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Mid 2004): 9/11 Commission Staff Doubts Cheney’s Account of Shootdown Order on 9/11 Edit

John Farmer. [Source: Publicity photo] The team of investigators on the 9/11 Commission that is investigating the events of the morning of September 11 comes to believe that a key part of Vice President Dick Cheney’s account is false. The team, led by John Farmer, is convinced that the decision to authorize the military to shoot down threatening aircraft on 9/11 was made by Cheney alone, not by President Bush. According to journalist and author Philip Shenon: “If Farmer’s team was right, the shootdown order was almost certainly unconstitutional, a violation of the military chain of command, which has no role for the vice president. In the absence of the president, military orders should have been issued by Defense Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld, bypassing the vice president entirely.” No Evidence - Other than Cheney’s own account of his actions that morning, and a subsequent attempt Bush made to confirm this account, the team has found no evidence that the president was involved in making the shootdown decision before Cheney issued the order, and much evidence that he was unaware of this decision. Shenon will describe: “Even in moments of crisis, the White House keeps extraordinary records of communications involving Bush and his senior staff; every phone call is logged, along with a detailed summary of what happened during the call.… But for 9/11, the logs offered no evidence of a call between Cheney and Bush in which Bush authorized a shootdown. And Farmer’s team reviewed more than just one set of communications logs. There were seven of them—one maintained by the White House telephone switchboard, one by the Secret Service, one by the Situation Room, and four separate logs maintained by military officers working in the White House.” [SHENON, 2008, PP. 265-266] Issued by Cheney - The Commission believes Cheney issued the shootdown order between around 10:10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. on 9/11, in response to reports of an aircraft heading toward Washington (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 41] No Notes - Yet deputy White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, who was with Cheney at the time, had reportedly “not heard any prior conversation on the subject [of shooting down aircraft] with the president.” As Newsweek describes: “Nor did the real-time notes taken by two others in the room, Cheney’s chief of staff, ‘Scooter’ Libby—who is known for his meticulous record-keeping—or Cheney’s wife, Lynne, reflect that such a phone call between Bush and Cheney occurred or that such a major decision as shooting down a US airliner was discussed.… National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and a military aide said they remembered a call, but gave few specifics.” [NEWSWEEK, 6/20/2004] The notes of White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who had been on Air Force One with the president, show no reference to a shootdown order until several minutes after Cheney issued it (see 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). "Completely Understandable" - Daniel Marcus, the general counsel of the 9/11 Commission, will later say he thought: “[I]n many ways, it would have been completely understandable for Cheney to issue a shootdown order without authorization from Bush. Whatever the constitutional issues, it would have been difficult to second-guess Cheney about a decision to save the White House from destruction if a suicide hijacker was bearing down on the capital and there were only seconds to act.” Yet, as Marcus will recall, Cheney’s staff is “obsessed with showing that he didn’t give the order.” [SHENON, 2008, PP. 266-267] Cheney Angry - White House lawyers will subsequently lobby the 9/11 Commission to amend its treatment of the shootdown issue in one of its staff reports (see June 15, 2004). [NEWSWEEK, 6/20/2004] And, on this same issue, an angry Cheney will try to get the 9/11 Commission Report changed just before it is released (see Shortly Before July 22, 2004). [SHENON, 2008, PP. 411-412] Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, John Farmer, 9/11 Commission, Daniel Marcus Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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