New York City activist

December 22, 2007

Bush at Booker School on the morning of 9/11

Two days ago, in a post about My main reasons for being suspicious about 9/11, I wrote the following about Bush’s behavior on the morning of 9/11/2001:

Once the second plane hit, it was obvious that there was a coordinated attack. If the President was not in on the plot, then there was every reason to believe that he was a likely next target. That being the case, he should have been immediately whisked off to an undisclosed location. He should not have remained in any previously-announced location especially any previously-announced location where his presence also endangered the lives of children, such as a school. By dawdling for almost a half hour in a classroom which, even worse, was near an airport Bush was, at the very least, guilty of reckless endangerment. The only way he could not be putting himself and all those children in danger would be if he knew enough about the plot to know that he personally was not a target.

Furthermore, Bush, as the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces, had an obligation to turn his full attention to the attack ASAP. By not having done so, he is, at the very least, guilty of criminal negligence, if not treason.

Let me digress, for a moment, to the first day of the Iraq war in 2003. On the first day of the invasion, I heard an interview with one of the generals on the radio. The general was asked a question about the “weapons of mass destruction.” I don’t remember the general’s exact words, but his answer was something to the effect of, “oh, we’ll worry about them later.” I thought, wait a minute! If you’ve just invaded a country that really does have weapons of mass destruction, you don’t worry about them later, you worry about them immediately. Destroying them should be your top strategic priority. Thus I figured out, on the first day of the war, that the WMD excuse must have been a lie. Sure enough, later it turned out that I was right.

This example does not absolutely prove, as a universal rule, that whenever high officials who should be acting like they’re in obvious danger don’t act like they’re in danger, this necessarily and always means that they must be lying about the nature of the danger. However, when high officials who should be acting like they’re in obvious danger don’t act like they’re in danger, this is indeed good grounds for suspicion about the nature of the danger.

(For more about this and related matters, see the Emperor’s Clothes website.)

In a comment, ref1 replied with a link to a page about Bush at Booker School on Mike Williams’s “9/11 Myths” website. I hadn’t seen this particular page before, though I’ve read many, probably most, of the pages on that site.

Mike Williams suggests that there might have been legitimate reasons for the Secret Service not to move Bush out of the Booker School immediately, but to wait until they had a better idea of what was going on. He makes some good points.

Before I discuss Williams’s page in detail, I will first point out that his arguments, if correct, do absolve the Secret Service of any blatant wrongdoing, but do not absolve Bush. For example, the Secret Service might have had legitimate reasons for preferring that Bush stay exactly where he was, not even leaving the classroom until the Secret Service figured out a plan. But Bush himself, in order to do his job as President, should have insisted otherwise. Even if he didn’t leave the school, he should have insisted, at the very least, that he be allowed to leave the classroom ASAP and move to an otherwise empty room where he could be alone with people who could keep him informed about what was going on. There was clearly a national emergency in which every second counted. So, Bush should not have spent a full twenty minutes in the classroom listening to children read about a pet goat.

Anyhow, Mike Williiams first writes the following in response to some people’s perception that Bush’s slowness about leaving the school implies that not only Bush, but also at least one person in the Secret Service, knew enough about the 9/11 plot to know that Bush was not in danger:

We’re constantly told that no, 9/11 wouldn’t have required a lot of people to pull off, compartmentalisation and the “need to know” would have limited those with inside knowledge. And yet claims such as this keep adding more people to the list. Because plainly, you couldn’t simply have one or two security service personnel knowing Bush wouldn’t be attacked: it would have to be all, to avoid confusion and people speaking out. And enough of the hierarchy for them not to be disciplined about it later.

No, it would only have taken just one lackadaisical person in a position of authority to create a bottleneck that slowed everything down. Furthermore, even if Williams’s arguments further down on the page are not valid, the one lackadaisical person night nevertheless have been able to use arguments similar to Williams’s as an excuse, if questioned afterwards about the slow response.

If this were true, then the conspirators have now got another large group of people who, if any of them were to go public, could blow the whole story. Because it doesn’t matter what else they know, simply saying that they knew Bush was safe would be a serious leak.

Indeed it would be, which is why, if anyone in the Secret Service had reason to knew anything about the plot at all, then it could only have been at most a few especially highly-trusted people.

And the gain to the conspirators of letting these people know is what, exactly? How does giving the security service advance knowledge of the attack, then letting them behave in what’s claimed to be an unrealistic way, help the conspiracy at all?

Indeed, I can’t think of any good reason why anyone in the Secret Service would need to have been told anything.

So, if we can find a way to exonerate the Secret Service, then we can thereby remove a weakness from the case against Bush.

Let’s also remember that Bush was also criticised for his actions after leaving school, as he flew around the country rather than return to Washington. Are we to believe that he knew he was safe in Florida, but believed he might still be in danger afterwards? What kind of faulty foreknowledge is this?

Perhaps Bush belatedly realized that he had better start acting like he was in danger?

Perhaps there’s an alternative explanation for the actions of the security service, then. Maybe they weren’t sure where to take him, for instance. How did they know that the attackers might not be relying on Bush being moved? Perhaps there was a truck bomb waiting for Bush to be moved to the airport. Maybe there was an ambush planned there. What if Air Force One was the target? The Security Service staff at the school with Bush did not have an overview of what was going on, and as Bush was in an area that was secure on the ground, at least, then surely it’s reasonable to take time to consider where Bush should go next. And take guidance from someone who was in the loop, back at the White House.

Indeed, figuring out where Bush should go once he left town might have taken quite a bit of time.

However, if I were in charge of Bush’s Secret Service detail, I think I would have dispatched someone to contact the local police for advice on finding a good local place for Bush to go temporarily, while other people in the Secret Service continued to work on the more complicated question of where Bush should go once he left town. Finding a good temporary local destination should not have taken more than 10 or 15 minutes. And it does seem to me that getting Bush out of the school ASAP should have been considered urgent enough to justify a two-step move.

But I suppose it’s possible that the Secret Service might have had a rule like “When in doubt, stay put.” Or perhaps the Secret Service did try to find a good temporary local destination and couldn’t find one.

Williams then goes on to discuss the contrasting case of Dick Cheney, who was moved to a secure location immediately. As Williams points out, this was a simple matter of moving Cheney from one part of the White House to another, not nearly as complicated as figuring out where and how to move Bush.

In support of the idea that the Secret Service needed help figuring out where to move Bush, Williams cites a passage from Against All Enemies by Richard A Clarke, who was the man in charge of the White House Situation Room at the time.

Anyhow, I can see how it might have been most convenient, from the viewpoint of the Secret Service, for Bush not only to stay at the school but also to stay in the classroom while the Secret Service was still trying to figure out what was going on. If Bush stayed in the classroom, then no one else had to move either, and the Secret Service could focus singlemindedly on the question of where to go next. If Bush stayed in the classroom, this also meant one less person butting in on the Secret Service’s phone calls to Washington, D.C. And the Secret Service’s responsibility was only for Bush’s safety, not for making sure that Bush did his job as President.

So, I can envision the Secret Service suggesting, innocently, that Bush stay in the classroom.

The question is why Bush accepted this suggestion, rather than insisting that he be allowed to do his job, which would have required him to be in the loop ASAP.

I still think that Bush’s non-reaction is extremely suspicious.

For more about this matter, see also my earlier post about “Stand down” evidence on the “Emperor’s Clothes” site, including FAA web pages, November 3, 2007.


  1. Just a quick opinion. After reading several main stream articles discussing the secret service methods, as well as browsing through the secret service website, I have an pretty clear opinion that the president simply couldn’t do anything without the secret service’s approval. Especially under a threat. I’m very sure Bush also knew that. And I’m sure he was waiting for more information and instructions.

    Comment by ref1 — December 22, 2007 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

  2. It still seems to me that Bush could have asked to be moved out of the classroom and into a room where he could be in the loop. And it seems to me that a request for such a move ASAP, within the same building, should not have been a big deal, if only he had asked for it. It doesn’t seem to me that it should have taken the Secret Service longer than five minutes, if that long, to find a suitable room. Moving Bush out of the building would have been a much bigger deal, of course.

    Anyhow, next time you refer to websites you just recently looked at, I would appreciate it very much if you could post links to specific pages.

    Comment by Diane — December 22, 2007 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  3. The 9/11 Commission Report says, regarding Bush at the Booker School, after he finally left the classroom, “He then returned to a holding room shortly before 9:15.” Note the word “returned.” So there wasn’t an issue of the Secret Service needing time to find and secure a room where he could be alone with his advisors (or at least available for consultation when needed). There was already a secure room for him to “return” to. So, apparently it was Bush himself who decided to stay in the classroom for at least “another five to seven minutes,” listening to the children read, rather than go to a room where he could give his full attention to the attacks.

    Bush’s alleged reason, according to the 9/11 Commission report, was that he “felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening.” But couldn’t he have just calmly excused himself??? Surely the children reading about a pet goat weren’t going to help him “better understand what was happening.”

    And then, according to the 9/11 Commission Report:

    Between 9:15 and 9:30, the staff was busy arranging a return to Washington, while the President consulted his senior advisers about his remarks. No one in the traveling party had any information during this time that other aircraft were hijacked or missing. Staff was in contact with the White House Situation Room, but as far as we could determine, no one with the President was in contact with the Pentagon. The focus was on the President’s statement to the nation. The only decision made during this time was to return to Washington.

    In other words, preparing and making a public statement was supposedly more urgent than contacting anyone who might be involved in responding to the attacks.

    Comment by Diane — January 14, 2008 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

  4. Remember the time issues. At that moment they had no idea it was a much bigger attack. Two planes had hit two WTC towers. They even thought the first one was a small jet at first.

    New York is in crisis. At the moment they think that’s it. The didn’t know there was anything to respond to anymore. The president has to address the nation in these situations. In hindsight it’s easy to think, why didn’t they immediately contact the military or someone else.

    You run from conclusion (something had to be wrong with the response) to finding suspicious evidence to support that conclusion. You find it suspicious that the people didn’t act like the best trained, most calm and collective people ever. Well, that is exactly the best evidence for 9/11 NOT being an inside job.

    Comment by ref1 — January 14, 2008 @ 10:12 pm | Reply

  5. Once the second plane hit at 9:03, it was clearly part of a cooordinated attack, and Flught 77 was also known to have been hijacked by this time. So, yes, there was every reason, at that moment, to believe that it was part of a larger attack. Indeed, at 9:05, Andrew Card whispered to Bush that “America is under attack.”

    It is true that most people had “no idea it was a much bigger attack” when the first plane hit. But you’re the first and only person I’ve ever seen making that excuse regarding the second plane. All other sources I’ve seen so far, including official ones, admit that the second plane was obviously part of a larger attack, and that, by that point, there was every reason to expect at least a possibility of more to come.

    ref1 wrote:

    You find it suspicious that the people didn’t act like the best trained, most calm and collective people ever.

    I find it suspicious that people, especially high officials, acted like they hadn’t been trained at all, when in fact they had been. If the “war games” prove nothing else, they prove at least that the problem wasn’t a “failure of imagination.” Also I find it suspicious that high officials were, if anything, too “calm,” finding other things to do rather than attend to the crisis at hand.

    Comment by Diane — January 15, 2008 @ 9:32 am | Reply

  6. (This comment is an edited pingback.)

    The post linked below discusses, primarily, the behavior of Donald Rumsfeld.

    – Diane

    Pingback by George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Myers: Their whereabouts on 9/11 « New York City activist — January 15, 2008 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  7. Let me clear something.

    There was clearly a large attack after the second plane, and reason to suspect more could have been coming. But at that moment they had no idea of what, when, how. They should have done something different, sure. But it’s easy to say afterwards.

    Comment by ref1 — January 16, 2008 @ 6:24 am | Reply

  8. Attacks, battles, etc. of any kind are always unpredictable. You never know what the enemy may do next, or where, when, or how.

    That’s no excuse for total unpreparedness for a given type of attack, especially if the attack type in question is one that the military has specifically trained for. It’s also no excuse for the lackadaisicalness displayed by high officials. Obviously, in any kind of attack, every second counts.

    Comment by Diane — January 16, 2008 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

  9. In response to this comment by ref1, after another post of mine here on this blog:

    Bush is clearly guilty of at least criminal negligence, if not worse.

    As we discussed on this page above, at 9:05 on the morning of 9/11/2001, Bush was specifically informed that “America is under attack.”

    But even the 9/11 Commission report (edited by Philip Zelikow, who is likely to have been biased in Bush’s favor) admits that Bush did not “return to a holding room” until “shortly before 9:15.”

    Note the word “return,” which implies that he had already been there, which implies that that particular room had already been secured for him by the Secret Service. So, it would not have been a big deal for the Secret Service to escort him back to that “holding room.”

    In any kind of attack, every second counts, or, at least, very well might count. That’s elementary.

    Bush was one of only two people in the entire country who were authorized to give an order to shoot down a plane. Thus it was clearly necessary that he be available for consultation on a moment’s notice.

    So he should have returned to that “holding room” ASAP.

    Whether it would actually have done any good is another question. But it was clearly his duty, at that point, to attend to the crisis. At the very least he should have made himself maximally available to his advisors by returning to a room where he could be alone with them whenever needed.

    Comment by Diane — February 14, 2008 @ 3:27 pm | Reply

  10. Regarding your statement “So the Secret Service would appear to be blameless here” a friend of mine would like me to share with you the statements below.

    You may be unaware of several facts that make this conclusion untenable, such as a statement made to the media (by Ari Fleischer, I think) before Bush’s entourage entered the school, to the effect that “We know what’s going on in New York, and we’ll have a statement later.” More important, as documented by Griffin, the FAA knew of trouble on several airliners by then. An airliner had crashed into the best-known terrorist target in the United States after a dozen quite specific warnings had been given in the preceding six weeks by other governments, by the CIA director, and by anti-terrorism specialists John O’Neill and Richard Clarke. Other airliners were also known, by at least some of the top operational people on duty in the FAA, to be off-course or out of radio contact by that same time.

    This was about six weeks after Bush slept on a moored ship instead of a hotel and *anti-aircraft guns were emplaced to defend him *at Genoa, Italy for the G-8 conference.

    In the context of ALL this, the Secret Service should have been on hair-trigger alert, and certainly alert to a threat from the skies. The Secret Service didn’t need to know where to go right away, they just needed to get Bush off the ground and away from his publicly known location. If I recall correctly, the threat to Air Force One that was made using Secret Service code — indicating that the threatener had and up-to-date, inside knowledge of Secret Service operations — did not come in until after the president came back out of the school. So that cannot be the reason the team at the school kept him there until well after the second WTC tower had been hit. Certainly by then, there was no rational reason to let him stay in the school.

    Finally, one of the Secret Service agents on duty allegedly DID suggest that Bush should be rushed away, but he was overruled by the agent in charge. I don’t know if Griffin documented that, but I’ve seen the claim made in more than one place. That doesn’t make it true, and obviously it needs solid documentation before being published anywhere by us.

    Taken together, in context, all this is as damning as the video of the Secret Service agent spreading his arms in a “What the hell?” gesture as he follows an order to step off the running board of Kennedy’s limo in Dealey Plaza.

    Comment by 911dust — February 27, 2008 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  11. > the threat to Air Force One that was made using Secret Service code — indicating that the threatener had and up-to-date, inside knowledge of Secret Service operations

    This issue has been addressed @:

    Comment by patricksmcnally — February 28, 2008 @ 10:47 am | Reply

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