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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Remember 9/11

On May 23, 2003, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta testified before the 9/11 Commission. Here is part of his opening statement:
By this time [shortly after the second WTC tower was hit], my office had contacted the White House. A brief moment later, the White House called my chief of staff and asked if I could come to the White House and operate from that location. I decided that, given the nature of the attack and the request, that I should be at the White House directly providing the president and the vice president with information.

When I got to the White House, it was being evacuated. I met briefly with Richard Clark, a National Security Council staff member, who had no new information. Then the Secret Service escorted me down to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, otherwise known as the PEOC. I established contact on two lines, one with my chief of staff at the Department of Transportation, and the second with Monty Belger, the acting deputy administrator of the FAA, and Jane Garvey, both of whom were in the FAA operations center.

And as the minutes passed, the developing picture from air traffic control towers and radar screens became increasingly more alarming. Some aircraft could not be contacted. While on a normal day that may be just a communications snafu, we were faced with trying to quickly sort out minor problems from significant threats. We did not know how many more attacks might be in progress.

The FAA began to restrict air travel in the Northeast United States by a combination of actions which included sterilizing air space in certain regions and at various airports, and ultimately a nationwide ground stop of all aircraft for all locations, regardless of destination.

Within a few minutes, American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
A few minutes later in the testimony, Mineta is asked by commission member Lee Hamilton about his time in the PEOC:
MR. HAMILTON: We thank you for that. I wanted to focus just a moment on the Presidential Emergency Operating Center. You were there for a good part of the day. I think you were there with the vice president. And when you had that order given, I think it was by the president, that authorized the shooting down of commercial aircraft that were suspected to be controlled by terrorists, were you there when that order was given?

MR. MINETA: No, I was not. I was made aware of it during the time that the airplane coming into the Pentagon. There was a young man who had come in and said to the vice president, "The plane is 50 miles out. The plane is 30 miles out." And when it got down to, "The plane is 10 miles out," the young man also said to the vice president, "Do the orders still stand?" And the vice president turned and whipped his neck around and said, "Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?" Well, at the time I didn't know what all that meant. And --

MR. HAMILTON: The flight you're referring to is the --

MR. MINETA: The flight that came into the Pentagon.
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Cheney "entered the underground tunnel leading to the shelter at 9:37." According to the report, AA Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:37:36. The report goes on to say:
Once inside, Vice President Cheney and the agents paused in an area of the tunnel that had a secure phone, a bench, and television. The Vice President asked to speak to the President, but it took time for the call to be connected.
at 9:55 the Vice President was still on the phone with the President advising that three planes were missing and one had hit the Pentagon. We believe this is the same call in which the Vice President urged the President not to return to Washington. After the call ended, Mrs. Cheney and the Vice President moved from the tunnel to the shelter conference room.
There is conflicting evidence about when the Vice President arrived in the shelter conference room. We have concluded, from the available evidence, that the Vice President arrived in the room shortly before 10:00, perhaps at 9:58.
The report goes on to describe a similar scenario to the one described by Mineta, of a military aide coming in to tell Cheney that "the aircraft is 80 miles out...the aircraft is 60 miles out." The report says that these updates occurred "probably between 10:12 and 10:18." The report also states that the last of the four hijacked airliners, United Flight 93, crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:15. My mapping software tells me that Shanksville is 120 miles from Washington, and the map in the report shows that the plane had been heading east for some time and hadn't been any closer than 120 miles from DC since shortly after takeoff. The report doesn't mention Mineta at all in its summary of this time period. It mentions Mrs. Cheney as having been in the bunker, but not the transportation secretary.

And while the commissioners in general did an atrocious job in following up on interesting points raised, Hamilton did ask Mineta about United 93:
MR. HAMILTON: With respect to Flight 93, what type of information were you and the vice president receiving about that flight?

MR. MINETA: The only information we had at that point was when it crashed.

MR. HAMILTON: I see. You didn't know beforehand about that airplane.

MR. MINETA: I did not.
Okay, here's the gist. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta gave testimony that was coherent, consistent, and public. Vice President Cheney gave, in private not-under-oath chatting, an account that was apparently at best confused (perhaps because he was concerned that W might spill the beans while they met with the commissioners together). Mineta reports that Cheney was with him at around 9:30 that morning, receiving reports about a plane approaching shortly before the Pentagon was struck. Mineta's testimony strongly suggests that Cheney clearly knew that a plane was approaching Washington before the Pentagon was hit, contrary to the official story. (And for those of us who justifiably believe the worst of our government, his testimony about "Do the orders still stand?" can easily be read to refer to stand-down orders, not the shoot-down orders Mineta later interprets them as.) Mineta denies any similar reports about flight 93. Nevertheless, the 9/11 Commission report denies Cheney's presence in the room with Mineta around 9:30, and moves Mineta's story about the plane approaching the Pentagon to 45 minutes later, and makes it about flight 93 instead.

The Bushies did everything possible to impede, delay and hinder all investigations into the events of 9/11. They benefitted immensely politically and financially from the tragic events of that day. The most ridiculous 9/11 conspiracy theory of all is the official one.

There's lots more about the Mineta testimony and the whole 9/11 coverup in general.