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On the evening of September 11th, 2001, the White House held a Press Conference. The stated purpose of the press conference? To "give you a walk-through of the President's day; what he did when he learned various pieces of information."
Isn't that amazing? It was the evening of September 11th and only a few hours ago the U.S. had suffered an unprecedented terrorist attack. Under these circumstances, what was the most pressing information the White House needed to share with U.S. citizens? Was it the extent of destruction in New York and Washington? The progress of emergency operations? The organization of an investigation to see how this could have happened?
No. Apparently, from the White House point of view, the most important information was a detailed itinerary of the president's movements on that morning of 9-11.
Why would the White House conduct such a peculiar exercise during such a crisis? What were they thinking? Our only explanation is that they wanted to establish an alibi for Mr. Bush.
But why would the White House believe they needed an alibi? Were they being paranoid?
We don't think so.
All over the country, people were asking how come no planes had been "scrambled" (sent into the air) during the attack. What was wrong with the military command? What was wrong with President Bush, who is Commander in Chief of the military?
Rumors were circulating that the President spent the crucial period from 9:00 to 9:30 AM in a classroom, reading a story about a pet goat.
Of course it was actually *the children* who read the story, not Mr. Bush. Mr. Bush only sat there and listened and smiled and clapped and cheered and gave the children pep talks while a second commercial jet hit the World Trade Center and, we are told, two other commercial jets reversed course, speeding towards Washington, D.C. (2)
At the White House press conference, the president's Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, said that on the morning of 9-11, Mr. Bush was quickly informed and that he immediately carried out his responsibilities. Bush supposedly arrived at the Booker School shortly before 9:00 AM and then, after shaking some hands, was briefed by his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, and by his National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice.
But Fleischer also claimed that Mr. Bush didn't know the attack was terrorist in nature until well after these two briefings. Supposedly, neither Card nor Rice said anything about hijackings and terrorists when they spoke to Mr. Bush!
The Key to the White House Spin
In order to believe the White House, people had to believe that Mr. Card and Ms. Rice did not know that the first WTC crash resulted from a hijacking. Because if they *did know* then why wouldn't they tell Mr. Bush when they spoke to him, supposedly just after 9 AM?
And if they did tell him, why wouldn't he immediately contact his military commanders, i.e., do his job?
In order for people to swallow the line that Mr. Card and Ms. Rice did not know this was a terrorist attack they also had to believe that the FAA (the Federal Aviation Administration) and the U.S. military did not know.
Because both the FAA and the military monitor air traffic. Once they knew a plane had been hijacked, they would have informed the Secret Service and the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice. And the Secret Service and Ms. Rice would have informed the President.
Thus Mr. Bush would have known a terrorist attack was underway.
And this would mean the whole White House story was a lie.
For the first few days government officials and the media reported that the air safety/air defense system did *not* know there was an attack until after the Pentagon crash.
As long as this was the official story, Mr. Fleischer's explanation could stand. If nobody was aware of the attack then nobody could have told Mr. Bush. And just as the military couldn't take action if they didn't know there was an attack, neither could Mr. Bush.
Gen. Myers Says, We Didn't Know 'til 9:45...
As late as September 13th, General Richard B. Myers, vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put forward this 'nobody-took-action-because-nobody-knew' line. This was in response to questions from Senators during Myers' nomination hearing to be head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Here's what Myers said:
Unfortunately for the White House spin, the 'nobody-took-action-because-nobody-knew' story turned out to be a loser. Counter-information appeared in the press, including a damning article by Matthew Wald, published in the New York Times on September 13th. (4)
That same day, at General Richard B. Myers' Senate hearing, the senators criticized the official story. They literally demanded something better. And they got it. Myers, soon to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rewrote his story.
...I Mean 8:45!
At the start of the hearings, Myers had said the military only sent planes up "after the Pentagon was hit" around 9:45 AM. At the end of the hearings, he said the military took action around 8:45 - a full hour earlier! (3)
After Myers' testimony, the Armed Forces Committee went into closed (non-public) session until the afternoon of September 14th. Because this was a secret session, we have no record of what was said.
But after the end of the secret session, on the evening of September 14th, CBS evening news put forward a whole new account of what happened on September 11th. Without divulging who was the source of this new and mind-boggling information, CBS claimed that contrary to previous reports, the military had dispatched fighter jets as early as 8:38 AM. In other words the FAA *did* know a terrorist attack was going on and *did* contact the military and the military *did* act. They were just too late.
Then on September 16th Vice President Cheney was interviewed on MEET THE PRESS. During that interview, he asserted that the Secret Service established open lines to the FAA as soon as the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Thus by around 8:45 AM the Secret Service *had to know* a terrorist attack was underway.
What a Mess
The Secret Service knew. Therefore National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Chief of Staff Andrew Card knew. And, according to Mr. Fleischer, Mr. Bush spoke to Andrew Card and took a call from Ms. Rice shortly after he entered the Booker School around 9 AM. Which would mean Mr. Bush knew a terrorist attack was in progress.
If people took the new official story, that the air safety/air defense establishment *knew* a major terrorist attack was underway by 8:38 AM, and if they combined it with Fleischer's claim, namely that Mr. Bush spoke to his advisers just after 9 AM, then the logical conclusion was: either Mr. Bush was guilty of criminal negligence or Mr. Bush was guilty of treason.
Thus the White House press statement on the evening of 9-11 had created a disaster far worse than the one it was concocted to solve. Sir Walter Scott knew what he was talking about when he wrote:
If Your Web's a Mess, Spin Spin Spin!
To fix their tangled web, the White House folks did two things.
First, they quietly dropped Fleischer's statement about what Mr. Bush "did when he learned various pieces of information." They guessed that Mr. Fleischer's words would be forgotten in the shock of events. We believe they guessed right.
Second, after a decent interval, they floated a whole new explanation of what Mr. Bush learned and what he did and when he did it on the morning of 9-11. This was put forward by Mr. Bush himself during two so-called Town Hall meetings. The first was in December 2001 in Florida. The second was in January 2002 in California. Of course, the new spin further tangled the web. So many stories, so many lies. But the White House hoped nobody would look too deep.
They were not hoping in vain. It is our observation that the mainstream Western press can be relied upon not to look too deep. But we are not the mainstream Western press. So, let us go carefully through the stages of this process.
In forthcoming Sections of this article we shall examine:
* The official story from 9-11 until the evening of 9-14, including its obvious flaws. (This was the story that jibed with what Fleischer said on the evening of the 11th.)
* The transformation of the official story during the Senate Armed Forces hearing on September 13th. This transformation is amazingly clear from the transcript of the hearing. If the hearing had been televised, nobody would have believed the official story. However, not one TV station in the U.S. broadcast the hearing.
* The main new official story, floated by CBS on the evening of September 14th. (Only later was CBS parroted by the government)
* A secondary story floated by the CIA and Islamic Fundamentalists and repeated by various other folks. According to this secondary story, "the Jews did it." This was intended for the consumption of Muslims around the world as well as for critics of US policy and others who doubted the official story.
* The revision of the White House spin on "what Mr Bush learned and did and when", as put forward by President Bush in the Town Hall meetings in Florida and California, in December and January.
* Footnotes and Further Reading Follow the Appeal, Below *