Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

Grilled to Order

What we’d Like to ask when Bush and Cheney take the hot seat
by James Ridge­way
Mon­do Wash­ing­ton

On Thurs­day, Bush and Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney will sit togeth­er and speak—off the record and in private—to the 9–11 Com­mis­sion. Bush and Cheney can make a record of the inter­view, but the com­mis­sion, under a bizarre agree­ment, is pro­hib­it­ed from doing so.

By refus­ing to appear sep­a­rate­ly or in pub­lic, the two may have tak­en the pan­el for a ride, but they can’t avoid the tough ques­tions for­ev­er. Both give every sign of hav­ing been asleep at the switch on 9–11. Worse, for months they have been engaged in col­lu­sion to obstruct jus­tice by thwart­ing first con­gres­sion­al and then com­mis­sion inves­ti­ga­tions. Soon­er or lat­er, both must be served with sub­poe­nas, sworn to tell the truth, and ordered to tes­ti­fy under threat of impeach­ment and/or crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion.

Let’s start with Bush. Here’s the set­up: Morn­ing, Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001. At 8:40 NORAD is noti­fied Flight 11 has been hijacked. At 8:43 NORAD is noti­fied Flight 175 is hijacked. At 9, Bush arrives at the Book­er Ele­men­tary School in Sara­so­ta, Flori­da, where he takes a call from Con­doleez­za Rice before enter­ing an ele­men­tary school class­room for a pho­to op. Cer­tain­ly by that moment Rice must have known that one plane had hit the World Trade Cen­ter and anoth­er had been hijacked.

Now a few sim­ple ques­tions for our pres­i­dent, the last six from the Fam­i­ly Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, whose mem­bers lost loved ones on 9–11:

1. What did you know about the emerg­ing cri­sis before speak­ing to Rice?

2. Who told you? What was your response?

3. What did Rice tell you?

4. And why, after speak­ing to her, did you go ahead with a mean­ing­less pho­to op?

5. Why was Flight 77 allowed to plow into the Pen­ta­gon 52 min­utes after Flight 11 had smashed into the WTC?

6. Giv­en the warn­ings on hijack­ings and fly­ing bombs, why were there only 14 fight­er planes assigned to cov­er the entire U.S., with only sev­en air­borne that morn­ing?

7. A brief­ing pre­pared for senior U.S. offi­cials in ear­ly July 2001 stat­ed: “Based on a review of all-source report­ing over the last five months, we believe that [bin Laden] will launch a sig­nif­i­cant ter­ror­ist attack against U.S. and/or Israeli inter­ests in the com­ing weeks. The attack will be spec­tac­u­lar and designed to inflict mass casu­al­ties against U.S. facil­i­ties or inter­ests. Attack prepa­ra­tions have been made. Attack will occur with lit­tle or no warn­ing.” As the weeks went by, senior offi­cials con­tin­ued to receive intel­li­gence infor­ma­tion warn­ing of an immi­nent Al Qae­da attack.

Did you receive such warn­ings before 9–11? If so, what did you do in response?

8. Mr. Pres­i­dent, Euro­pean secu­ri­ty forces were wide­ly report­ed to have pre­pared elab­o­rate mea­sures to pre­vent a pos­si­ble bin Laden attempt to assas­si­nate you at the G8 Sum­mit in Genoa, Italy, in July 2001. Accord­ing to Ger­man intel­li­gence sources, the plot involved bin Laden pay­ing Ger­man neo-Nazis to fly remote-con­trolled mod­el air­craft packed with Sem­tex into the con­fer­ence hall and blow the lead­ers of the indus­tri­al­ized world to smithereens. The reports were tak­en so seri­ous­ly that you stayed overnight on an air­craft car­ri­er off­shore, accord­ing to CNN, and oth­er world lead­ers stayed on a lux­u­ry ship. Two days before the sum­mit began, the BBC report­ed: “The huge force of offi­cers and equip­ment which has been assem­bled to deal with unrest has been spurred on by a warn­ing that sup­port­ers of Sau­di dis­si­dent Osama bin Laden might attempt an air attack on some of the world lead­ers present.”

Italy sur­round­ed the sum­mit with anti-air­craft bat­ter­ies, kept fight­ers over­head, and closed off local air­space. No attack occurred. U.S. offi­cials at the time stat­ed that the warn­ings were “unsub­stan­ti­at­ed,” but after 9–11 reversed them­selves and took cred­it for pre­vent­ing an attack. Were you aware of the planned Al Qae­da attack on Genoa using planes as weapons? If so, what did you do to safe­guard the home­land and U.S. facil­i­ties over­seas?

9. As com­man­der in chief on the morn­ing of 9–11, why did­n’t you return imme­di­ate­ly to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., or the Nation­al Mil­i­tary Com­mand Cen­ter once you became aware that Amer­i­ca was under attack? At specif­i­cal­ly what time did you become aware that Amer­i­ca was under attack? Who informed you of this fact?

10. Please explain why you remained at the Sara­so­ta, Flori­da, ele­men­tary school for a press con­fer­ence after you had fin­ished lis­ten­ing to the chil­dren read, when, as a ter­ror­ist tar­get, your pres­ence poten­tial­ly jeop­ar­dized their lives?

11. What was the pur­pose of the sev­er­al stops of Air Force One on Sep­tem­ber 11? Was Air Force One at any time dur­ing the day a tar­get of the ter­ror­ists? Was Air Force One’s code ever breached on Sep­tem­ber 11?

12. Was there a rea­son for Air Force One lift­ing off with­out a mil­i­tary escort, even after ample time had elapsed for mil­i­tary jets to arrive?

13. What prompt­ed your refusal to release the infor­ma­tion regard­ing for­eign spon­sor­ship of the ter­ror­ists, as illus­trat­ed in the inac­ces­si­ble redact­ed 28 pages from the Joint Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Inquiry Report? What actions have you per­son­al­ly tak­en since 9–11 to thwart for­eign spon­sor­ship of ter­ror­ism?

14. Who approved the flight of the bin Laden fam­i­ly out of the Unit­ed States when com­mer­cial flights were ground­ed, when there was time for only min­i­mal ques­tion­ing by the FBI, and espe­cial­ly when two of those same indi­vid­u­als had links to WAMY, a char­i­ty sus­pect­ed of fund­ing ter­ror­ism? Why were bin Laden fam­i­ly mem­bers grant­ed that spe­cial priv­i­lege and pro­tec­tion, when pro­tec­tion was­n’t avail­able to Amer­i­can fam­i­lies whose loved ones were killed on 9–11?

Now for the vice pres­i­dent:

1. Mr. Cheney, we know—more or less—what Bush did on 9–11. What did you do? A chronol­o­gy, please.

2. Did you receive any orders from Bush that morn­ing? If so, what were they?

3. Did you issue any orders, either in your own or in the pres­i­den­t’s name, to civil­ian and/or mil­i­tary agen­cies of the U.S. gov­ern­ment that day? If so, what were they?

4. Before 9–11, Bush entrust­ed you to head a task force to work along­side the new Office of Nation­al Pre­pared­ness, a part of FEMA. This office is sup­posed to over­see a “nation­al effort” to coor­di­nate all fed­er­al pro­grams for respond­ing to domes­tic attacks. You told the press, “One of our biggest threats as a nation” may include “a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion over­seas. We need to look at this whole area, often­times referred to as home­land defense.”

The focus was to be on state-fund­ed ter­ror­ists using weapons of mass destruc­tion, and you men­tioned nei­ther bin Laden nor Al Qae­da. Your task force was sup­posed to report to Con­gress by Octo­ber 1, 2001, after a review by the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil. Bush stat­ed that he would “peri­od­i­cal­ly chair a meet­ing of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil to review these efforts.” Yet nei­ther your review nor Bush’s seems to have tak­en place before 9–11. Your dead­line was a cou­ple of weeks lat­er.

What had you done up to then? How many meet­ings had you held? Who were the mem­bers of your task force?

Addi­tion­al report­ing: Ali­cia Ng and Phoebe St John


No comments for “Grilled to Order”

Post a comment