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September 10, 2001: President Bush Arrives at Longboat Key Resort; Tight Overnight Security Includes Surface-to-Air Missiles At 6:30 p.m., President Bush arrives at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 13; SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE, 9/10/2002] He is in Florida as part of a weeklong effort to place a national spotlight on education and reading, and visited a school in Jacksonville earlier in the day. [ABC NEWS, 9/10/2001; FLORIDA TIMES-UNION (JACKSONVILLE), 9/10/2001] In preparation for the president’s visit to the resort, all guests have been cleared out of the building “to make way for the invasion of White House staffers, aides, communications technicians—even an antiterrorism unit.” Overnight, snipers and surface-to-air missiles are located on the roof of the Colony and adjacent structures, to protect the president. “The Coast Guard and the Longboat Key Police Department manned boats that patrolled the surf in front of the resort all night. Security trucks with enough men and arms to stop a small army parked right on the beach. An Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane circled high overhead in the clear night sky.” [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 13 AND 25; SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE, 9/10/2002] Whether this is a typical level of security for a presidential visit, or is increased due to recent terror warnings, is unstated. Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
(6:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Bush Interview or Assassination Attempt? President Bush has just spent the night at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida. [SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE, 9/10/2002] He wakes up around 6:00 a.m. and is preparing for his morning jog. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/16/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; MSNBC, 10/27/2002] A van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent arrives at the Colony Beach Resort, stating they have a “poolside” interview with the president. They do not have an appointment and are turned away. [LONGBOAT OBSERVER, 9/26/2001] Some question whether this was an assassination attempt modeled on the one used on Afghan leader Ahmed Massoud two days earlier (see September 9, 2001). [TIME, 8/4/2002] Longboat Key Fire Marshal Carroll Mooneyhan was reported to have overheard the conversation between the men and the Secret Service, but he later denies the report. The newspaper that reported this, the Longboat Observer stands by its story. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/4/2004] Witnesses recall seeing Mohamed Atta in the Longboat Key Holiday Inn a short distance from where Bush was staying as recently as September 7, the day Bush’s Sarasota appearance was publicly announced. [LONGBOAT OBSERVER, 11/21/2001; ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/4/2004] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Mohamed Atta, Secret Service, NBC, Carroll Mooneyhan Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
(6:31 a.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Goes Jogging
The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, where Bush stays the night before 9/11. [Source: Colony Beach and Tennis Resort] President Bush goes for a four-mile jog around the golf course at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002; WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/7/2002; MSNBC, 10/27/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
8:00 a.m. September 11, 2001: President Bush Briefly Meets Local Law Enforcement Officials
Charlie Wells. [Source: Publicity photo] Having returned to the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort after his morning jog, President Bush meets for a brief chat in his penthouse suite with Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells, Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill, Sarasota Police Chief Gordon Jolly, and Manatee County Sheriff’s Colonel Ken Pearson. Wells later recalls the president was “totally unsuspecting about what is to happen.… It looked like, to me, he’s saying, ‘Glad to see you, but I’m ready to get on to the school and meet the kids.’” The four law enforcement officials will later travel to the Sarasota school in the president’s motorcade. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 36; SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE, 9/10/2002] Entity Tags: Bill Balkwill, Charlie Wells, George W. Bush, Ken Pearson, Gordon Jolly Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
(8:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush’s Motorcade Leaves for Elementary School
The destination of Bush’s motorcade is Booker Elementary School. [Source: MSNBC] President Bush’s motorcade leaves the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, bound for the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] The president had gotten into his Cadillac limousine after “much shaking of hands and posing for pictures and saying pleasant things to local VIPs who had been invited to the Colony to see him off.” [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 38] According to the official schedule, the president is supposed to leave the resort at 8:30 a.m. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/4/2004] While some accounts say he leaves on time, according to Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon, who is traveling with the president on this day, Bush’s limousine does not set off until 8:39. [SARASOTA MAGAZINE, 9/19/2001; SAMMON, 2002, PP. 38; WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002; BBC, 9/1/2002; NATIONWIDE SPEAKERS BUREAU, INC., 2004] If Sammon’s time is correct then this is unusual, as Bush has a reputation for being very punctual. [CNN, 2/2/2001; LONDON TIMES, 6/30/2005] His unpaid education adviser Sandy Kress in fact says that, prior to this day, “I’ve never known [the president] to be late.” [KESSLER, 2004, PP. 137] With Bush in town, the police have shut down traffic in both directions along the nine-mile journey to the school, “leaving the roads utterly deserted for Bush’s long motorcade, which barreled along at 40 mph, running red lights with impunity.” [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 38-39] Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
(Between 8:46 a.m. and 8:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Bush’s Motorcade Quickly Hears of Flight 11 Crash, but Bush Reportedly Still Unaware
Bush’s travels in the Sarasota, Florida, region, with key locations marked. [Source: Yvonne Vermillion/ MagicGraphix.com] When Flight 11 hits the WTC at 8:46 a.m., President Bush’s motorcade is crossing the John Ringling Causeway on the way to Booker Elementary School from the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. [WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/8/2002] White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is riding in a motorcade van, along with adviser Karl Rove and Mike Morell, the CIA’s White House briefer. Shortly after the attack, Fleischer is talking on his cell phone, when he blurts out: “Oh, my God, I don’t believe it. A plane just hit the World Trade Center.” (The person with whom he is speaking remains unknown.) Fleischer is told he will be needed on arrival at the school to discuss reports of the crash. [CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, 9/17/2001; ALBUQUERQUE TRIBUNE, 9/10/2002; TENET, 2007, PP. 165-166] This call takes place “just minutes” after the first news reports of the attack according to one account, or “just before 9:00 a.m.” according to another. [MSNBC, 10/29/2002; KESSLER, 2004, PP. 138] Fleischer asks Morell if he knows anything about a small plane hitting the World Trade Center. Morell doesn’t, and immediately calls the CIA Operations Center. He is informed that the plane that hit the WTC wasn’t small. [KESSLER, 2003, PP. 193; TENET, 2007, PP. 165-166] Congressman Dan Miller also says he is told about the crash just before meeting Bush at Booker Elementary School at 8:55 a.m. [SARASOTA MAGAZINE, 9/19/2001] Some reporters waiting for Bush to arrive also learn of the crash just minutes after it happens. [CBS NEWS, 9/11/2002] It would make sense that the president would be told about the crash immediately, at the same time that others hear about it. His limousine has “Five small black antennae sprouted from the lid of the trunk in order to give Bush the best mobile communications money could buy.” [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 38] Sarasota Magazine in fact claims that Bush is on Highway 301, just north of Main Street, on his way to the school, when he receives a phone call informing him a plane has crashed in New York City. [SARASOTA MAGAZINE, 9/19/2001] Yet the official story remains that he is not told about the crash until he arrives at the school (see (Between 8:55 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Author James Bamford comments, “Despite having a secure STU-III phone next to him in the presidential limousine and an entire national security staff at the White House, it appears that the president of the United States knew less than tens of millions of other people in every part of the country who were watching the attack as it unfolded.” [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 17] Entity Tags: Michael J. Morell, Dan Miller, George W. Bush, James Bamford, Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer, World Trade Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline