BUSH ON 9/11 TIMELINE

By Paul Thompson

Other Sections of the Timeline:

The Complete Timeline parts 1 and 2 (excluding Day of 9/11)
The Abridged Timeline (a good place to start)
Introduction and credits, help needed, and links
The latest update

Articles
The Two Ziad Jarrahs
Sept. 11's Smoking Gun: The Many Faces of Saeed Sheikh
Alhazmi & Almihdhar: The Hijackers Who Should Have Been Caught
They Tried to Warn Us
Is There More to the Capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Than Meets the Eye?
An Interesting Day: George Bush Jr. on 9/11
The Failure to Defend the Skies on 9/11

Summaries

9/11 Paymaster Saeed Sheikh
9/11 Mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
ISI Director Mahmood Ahmed
Nabil al-Marabh
Would Be Hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar
Escape from Afghanistan
Foreign Intelligence Warnings
Randy Glass

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Subdivisions
Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
Day of 9/11
Flight 11
Flight 175
Flight 77
Flight 93
Bush on 9/11

 
Colored categories:
American Airlines Flight 11. Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles. 81 passengers, nine flight attendants, two pilots, Hijackers:
Waleed Alshehri (Seat 2B), Wail Alshehri (Seat 2A), Mohamed Atta (Seat 8D, the likely pilot), Abdulaziz Alomari (Seat 8G) and Satam Al Suqami (Seat 10B).
United Airlines Flight 93. Flying from Newark to San Francisco. 38 passengers (out of 182 seats), five flight attendants, two pilots. Hijackers: Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alnami, Ziad Jarrah (the likely pilot) and Saeed Alghamdi (had flight training).
United Airlines Flight 175. Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles. 56 passengers, seven flight attendants, two pilots. Hijackers:
Marwan Alshehhi (the likely pilot), Fayez Ahmed Banihammad (Alshehri) (had flight training), Mohand Alshehri (had flight training), Hamza Alghamdi and Ahmed Alghamdi.
American Airlines Flight 77. Boeing 757 flying from Dulles Airport outside Washington to Los Angeles. 58 passengers, four flight attendants and two pilots. Hijackers: Khalid Almihdhar (Seat 12B), Majed Moqed (Seat 12A), Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi (Seat 5F), and Hani Hanjour (the likely pilot).
George Bush's movements and sayings.
All other events.

Organization abbreviations:
FAA: US Federal Aviation Administration
NORAD: US North American Aerospace Defense Command
NEADS: Northeast Air Defense Sector, the part of NORAD covering Boston, New York and Washington

All times are Eastern Standard time zone
Bush on 911

Approximate times are marked in parentheses.


(6:00 a.m.) President Bush has just spent the night at Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida. Surface-to-air missiles have been placed on the roof of the resort. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02] Bush wakes up around 6:00 a.m. and is preparing for his morning jog. [MSNBC, 10/27/02, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), Telegraph, 12/16/01] A van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent pull up to the Colony stating they have a “poolside” interview with the president. They are turned away for not having an appointment. [Longboat Observer, 9/26/01] Was this an assassination attempt modeled on the one used on Afghani leader Ahmed Massoud two days earlier? [Time, 8/4/02]


The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, where Bush stays the night before 9/11. [Colony Resort website]

(6:31 a.m.) Bush goes for a four-mile jog around the golf course at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort. [6:30, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 6:30, MSNBC, 10/27/02, 6:32, Washington Times, 10/7/02]

(8:00 a.m.) Bush sits down for his daily intelligence briefing. "The President's briefing appears to have included some reference to the heightened terrorist risk reported throughout the summer" but contained nothing serious enough to call National Security Adviser Rice. The briefing ends at about 8:20. [Telegraph, 12/16/01]

(8:20 a.m.) Boston flight control decides that Flight 11 has probably been hijacked, but apparently it doesn't notify other flight control centers for another five minutes, and don't notify NORAD until up to 20 minutes later. ["About 8:20," Newsday, 9/23/01, "about 8:20," New York Times, 9/15/01] ABC News will later say, "There doesn't seem to have been alarm bells going off, traffic controllers getting on with law enforcement or the military. There's a gap there that will have to be investigated." [ABC News, 9/14/01]

8:25 a.m. Boston flight controllers notify other flight control centers of the Flight 11 hijacking, but supposedly they don't notify (NORAD for another 6 or 15 minutes (see 8:31 a.m. and 8:40 a.m.). [8:25:00, Guardian, 10/17/01] Why isn't NORAD also notified at this time? Note that this means the controllers working Flights 77 and Flight 93 would have been aware of Flight 11's hijacking from this time. [Village Voice, 9/13/01]


Secretary of State Colin Powell leaves Lima, Peru after hearing the news. [AFP]

(Around 8:30 a.m.) Just prior to learning about the 9/11 attacks, many of the US's leaders are scattered across the US and overseas. Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice are at their offices in the White House. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is at his office in the Pentagon, meeting with a delegation from Capitol Hill. Secretary of State Powell is in Lima, Peru. CIA Director Tenet is at breakfast with his old friend and mentor, former senator David Boren (D), at the St. Regis Hotel, three blocks from the White House. General Henry Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is flying across the Atlantic on the way to Europe. Attorney General Ashcroft is flying to Milwaukee. FBI Director Mueller is in his office at FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is at his office at the Department of Transportation. [Senate Commerce Committee, 9/20/01] Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh is at a conference in Montana. [ABC, 9/14/02 (B)] George Bush Sr. is supposedly on a flight from Washington to St. Paul, Minnesota, and has his plane diverted to Milwaukee when the air ban begins. [Time, 9/24/01]

8:31 a.m. NORAD employee Lt. Colonel Dawne Deskins later says that Boston flight control notifies NORAD of Flight 77's hijacking at this time, not at 8:40 as has been widely reported, even by Deskins previously (see 8:40 a.m.). [ABC News, 9/11/02] Another later report states, "Shortly after 8:30 a.m., behind the scenes, word of a possible hijacking [reaches] various stations of NORAD." [ABC News, 9/14/02] If Deskins' most recent account is right, Boston flight controllers wait about 10 minutes after they are sure Flight 11 was hijacked before notifying NORAD. Otherwise, Boston waits about 20 minutes.

(8:35 a.m.) Bush's motorcade leaves for Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. [8:30, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 8:35, Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01, 8:39, Washington Times, 10/7/02] He said farewell to the management at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort at 8:20. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Note that an early report that as Bush is leaving the resort, a reporter asks him, "Do you know what's going on in New York?" [ABC News, 9/11/01], appears to be mistaken. Perhaps it happens when Bush arrives at the school?

(8:40 a.m.) Boston flight control supposedly notifies NORAD that Flight 11 has been hijacked (another account says it happens earlier (see 8:31 a.m.). [8:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:38, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:40, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:40, AP, 8/19/02, 8:40, Newsday, 9/10/02] This is about 20 minutes after traffic control noticed the plane had its transponder beacon and radio turned off. Such a delay in notification would be in strict violation of regulations.

8:43 a.m.  NORAD is notified that Flight 175 has been hijacked. [8:43, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:43, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:43, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:43, AP, 8/19/02, 8:43, Newsday, 9/10/02] Apparently NORAD doesn't need to be notified, because by this time NEADS technicians have their headsets linked to the FAA in Boston to hear about Flight 11, and so NORAD learns instantly about Flight 175. [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Note that this means the controllers working Flight 77 and Flight 93 would have been aware of both Flight 175 and Flight 11's hijacking from this time.


Flight 11 hits the WTC North Tower at 8:46. [Gamma Press] Note that few images exist of this hit.

8:46 a.m.  Flight 11 slams into the north tower, 1 World Trade Center. Investigators believe it still had about 10,000 gallons of fuel and was traveling 470 mph. [New York Times, 9/11/02] Approximately 2662 people are killed on the ground between this crash and the crash of Flight 175. [AP, 8/19/02] [8:45, CNN, 9/12/01, 8:45, New York Times, 9/12/01, 8:46 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 8:46, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:46, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:46, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:46, AP, 8/19/02, 8:46, USA Today, 9/3/02, 8:46, USA Today, 8/13/02, 8:46, Newsday, 9/10/02, 8:47:00, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:48, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 8:46:26, New York Times, 9/11/02, 8:46:26, seismic records]

(After 8:46 a.m.) Bush will say in a speech later that evening: "Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans." [White House.gov, 9/11/01] Whatever these plans were, they don't seem to involve scrambling aircraft at this time.

(After 8:46 a.m.) Shortly after the WTC is hit, the FAA has an open telephone line with the Secret Service, keeping them informed of all events. [Cheney: "The Secret Service has an arrangement with the FAA. They had open lines after the World Trade Center was... " - he stops himself before finishing the sentence, NBC, 9/16/01]

(After 8:46 a.m.) Brigadier General Montague Winfield is in command of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), "the military's worldwide nerve center." [CNN, 9/4/02] According to NORAD command director Captain Michael Jellinek, at some point not long after the WTC hit, telephone links are established with the National Military Command Center (NMCC) located inside the Pentagon (but on the opposite side from where the Pentagon explosion will happen), Canada's equivalent command center, Strategic Command, theater commanders, and federal emergency-response agencies. An Air Threat Conference Call is initiated. At one time or another, Bush, Cheney, key military officers, leaders of the FAA and NORAD, the White House, and Air Force One are heard on the open line. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, CNN, 9/4/02, ABC News, 9/11/02] Says Winfield, "All of the governmental agencies there that, that were involved in any activity that was going on in the United States at that point, were in that conference." [ABC News, 9/11/02] The call continues right through the Pentagon explosion, as the NMCC doesn't even feel the impact. [CNN, 9/4/02] However, despite being in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't join the NMCC or the call until 10:30 (see 10:30 a.m.).

(After 8:46 a.m.) A few minutes after the 8:46 WTC crash, CIA Director Tenet is told of the crash while he is eating breakfast with former Senator David Boren. Boren says Tenet is told that the WTC has been attacked by an airplane: "I was struck by the fact that [the messenger] used the word attacked." Tenet then hands a cell phone back to an aide and says to Boren, "You know, this has bin Laden's fingerprints all over it." [ABC, 9/14/02] Why is Bush supposedly under the impression the crash was an accident well after Tenet has been told it was an attack? Does Tenet try to communicate with Bush at this time?


In this map, the yellow star is roughly where Bush's motorcade is when Flight 11 crashes at 8:46, and the orange star is where he is when told about the crash a few minutes later. [Made with Yahoo Maps]

(Between 8:46 - 8:55 a.m.) When Flight 11 hits the WTC at 8:46, Bush's motorcade is crossing the John Ringling Causeway on the way to Booker Elementary from the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. [Washington Times, 10/8/02] Sarasota Magazine claims that Bush is on Highway 301, just north of Main Street when he is told that a plane had crashed in New York City. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Around the same time, news photographer Eric Draper is riding in another car in the motorcade with Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, and overhears Fleischer say on a cell phone, "Oh, my God, I don't believe it. A plane just hit the World Trade Center." Fleischer is told he will be needed on arrival to discuss reports of the crash. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/01, Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] Fleischer is told this "just minutes" after the first news reports. [MSNBC, 10/29/02] Congressman Dan Miller also says he is told about the crash just before meeting Bush at Booker at 8:55. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Some reporters waiting for him to arrive also learn of the crash just minutes after it happens. [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] It would make sense that Bush is told about the crash immediately and at the same time that others hear about it. Yet Bush and others claim he isn't told until he arrives at the school.

8:48 a.m. The first news reports appear on TV and radio that a plane may have crashed into the WTC. [New York Times, 9/15/01, CNN, 9/11/01] Many others don't come until a few minutes later. For instance ABC first breaks into regular programming with the story at 8:52. [ABC, 9/14/02]

(After 8:50 a.m.) "During the hour or so that American Airlines Flight 77 [is] under the control of hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side of the Pentagon, military officials in [the Pentagon's National Military Command Center (see After 8:46 a.m.)] [are] urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do." [New York Times, 9/15/01] Since the Pentagon is struck around 9:38, this means that shortly after the first signs of trouble, clearly by at least 8:50, the military knows that Flight 77 is hijacked, even though, supposedly, NORAD is not officially notified until 9:24.


White House Situation Room Director Deborah Loewer.

(Before 8:55 a.m.) Captain Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, is traveling in Bush's motorcade toward a Saratoga elementary school. She receives a message from her deputy in the White House Situation Room about the first WTC crash. As soon as the motorcade reaches the school, she runs from her car to Bush's car, and passes the message on to Bush. [Catholic Telegraph, 12/7/01, AP, 11/26/01] However, it appears Bush already knows (see (Between 8:46 - 8:55 a.m.)). Note that Bush maintains it is Karl Rove who tells him a few minutes later.


Bush's motorcade arrives at Booker Elementary. [A still from Booker video]

(8:55 a.m.)  Bush's motorcade arrives at Booker Elementary School. [8:46, ABC News, 9/11/02, 8:55, Washington Times, 10/7/02, 8:55, Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01, "just before 9:00," Telegraph, 12/16/01, "shortly before 9:00," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02, "just before 9:00," New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), 9:00, Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] The trip is said to take 20 minutes, which confirms he arrives around 8:55, if it is true he left around 8:35. [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B), MSNBC, 10/29/02]


Karl Rove [Reuters], Andrew Card [AP], and Dan Bartlett.

(Between 8:55 - 9:00 a.m.) Just after the WTC crash, the beepers of politicians' aides are going off with news of the first WTC crash as Bush arrives and enters Booker Elementary School. According to photographer Eric Draper, standing nearby, Bush advisor Karl Rove rushes up, takes Bush aside in a corridor, and tells him about the calamity. Rove says the cause of the crash was unclear. Bush replies, "What a horrible accident!" Bush also suggests the pilot may have had a heart attack. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Dan Bartlett, White House Communications Director, also says he is there when Bush is told: "[Bush] being a former pilot, had kind of the same reaction, going, was it bad weather? And I said no, apparently not." [ABC News, 9/11/02] One account explicitly says that Rove tells Bush the WTC has been hit by a large commercial airliner. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] However, Bush later remembers Rove saying it appeared to be an accident involving a small, twin-engine plane. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] In a later recollection, Bush recalls that it is chief of staff Andrew Card who first warns him and says, "'Here's what you're going to be doing; you're going to meet so-and-so, such-and-such.' And Andy Card says, 'By the way, an aircraft flew into the World Trade Center.'" [Washington Times, 10/7/02] Says a reporter who was standing nearby, "From the demeanor of the President, grinning at the children, it appeared that the enormity of what he had been told was taking a while to sink in." [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] ["Shortly before 9:00," Daily Mail, 9/8/02, "just before 9:00," Telegraph, 12/16/01] In fact, Bush has already been told about the crash twice before this (see (Between 8:46 - 8:55 a.m.) and (Before 8:55 a.m.)). He should also be aware that NORAD has known since 8:40, if not before, that Flight 11 has been hijacked, and since 8:43 that Flight 175 has been hijacked. The New York Times points out that flight controllers learn Flight 77 has been hijacked "within a few minutes" of 8:48. [New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] Is Bush and his aides putting on a charade to pretend he doesn't know there is a national emergency? If so, why?


Booker Elementary principal Gwen Tose-Rigell. [A still from Booker video]

(Between 8:55 - 9:00 a.m.) Just after Bush arrives at Booker Elementary School and is briefly told of the WTC crash, he is whisked into a holding room and updated on the situation via telephone by National Security Advisor Rice. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/01, Time, 9/12/01] Rice later claims, "He said, what a terrible, it sounds like a terrible accident. Keep me informed." [ABC News, 9/11/02] School principal Gwen Tose-Rigell is then summoned to a room to talk with the President: "He said a commercial plane has hit the World Trade Center, and we're going to go ahead and go on, we're going on to do the reading thing anyway." [AP, 8/19/02 (D)] One local reporter notes that at this point, "He could and arguably should have left Emma E. Booker Elementary School immediately, gotten onto Air Force One and left Sarasota without a moment's delay." [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/12/01 (B)] Why doesn't he? Note that CIA Director Tenet has already been told it was terrorism (see (After 8:46)) and Bush certainly should have been told by Rice of the three known hijackings at this time, if he hasn't been told already. How could Bush continue to think there is only a single-plane accident?

(8:56 a.m.) The New York Times later writes, "'American 77, Indy,' the controller said, over and over. 'American 77, Indy, radio check. How do you read?' By 8:56 a.m., it was evident that Flight 77 was lost." Yet the same newspaper then points out NORAD is not notified about it for another 28 minutes and doesn't find that strange! [New York Times, 10/16/01] Another New York Times article points out that flight controllers learn Flight 77 has been hijacked "within a few minutes" of 8:48. [New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] Why are fighters not scrambled now to find Flight 77?

(9:01 a.m.)
Bush later makes the following statement: "And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower - the TV was obviously on, and I use to fly myself, and I said, 'There's one terrible pilot.' And I said, 'It must have been a horrible accident.' But I was whisked off there - I didn't have much time to think about it." [CNN, 12/4/01] He has repeated the story on other occasions. [White House, 1/5/02, CBS, 9/11/02] However, it has been noted that Bush doesn't have access to a television until 15 or so minutes later. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] A Boston Herald article later says, "Think about that. Bush's remark implies he saw the first plane hit the tower. But we all know that video of the first plane hitting did not surface until the next day. Could Bush have meant he saw the second plane hit - which many Americans witnessed? No, because he said that he was in the classroom when Card whispered in his ear that a second plane hit." The article points out that Bush had told the story more than once, and asks, " How could the commander-in-chief have seen the plane fly into the first building - as it happened?" [Boston Herald, 10/22/02] By 8:31 or 8:40, NORAD knew that Flight 11 was hijacked, and by 8:43, they knew Flight 175 was hijacked. Bush has just been briefed by his National Security Advisor on the situation. How he can only think, "There's one terrible pilot," based on an impossible television viewing?


Flight 175 an instant before it hits the WTC south tower. [AP]

(9:03 a.m.)  Flight 175 hits the south tower, 2 World Trade Center. Millions watch the crash live on television. Approximately 2662 people are killed on the ground between this crash and the crash of Flight 11. [AP, 8/19/02] F-15 fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base are still 71 miles or eight minutes away. [9:02, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:02, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:02, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:03, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:03 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:03, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:03, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:03, AP, 8/19/02, 9:03, Newsday, 9/10/02, 9:03, USA Today, 9/3/02, 9:03, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:05, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:05, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:02:54, New York Times, 9/11/02, 9:02:54, seismic records] The Otis Air National Guard Base is 188 miles from New York City. According to NORAD's timeline, fighters left Otis 11 minutes earlier. If they were still 70 miles away, then that means they must have been traveling about 650 mph, when the top speed for an F-15 is 1875 mph!

(9:03 a.m.) According to Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill, just after Bush enters a Booker Elementary classroom, a Marine responsible for carrying Bush's phone walks up to Balkwill, who is standing in a nearby side room. While listening to someone talk to him in his earpiece, the Marine asks, "Can you get me to a television? We're not sure what's going on, but we need to see a television." Three Secret Service agents, a SWAT member, the Marine and Balkwill turn on the television in a nearby front office just as Flight 175 crashes into the WTC. "We're out of here," the Marine tells Balkwill. "Can you get everyone ready?" [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02] So apparently some of Bush's security want him to leave the school immediately - why does he stay until 9:34?


Bush meets teacher Sandra Kay Daniels. [A still from Booker video]

(9:03 - 9:06 a.m.) Bush enters Sandra Kay Daniels' second-grade class for a photo-op to promote Bush's education policies. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Numerous reporters who travel with the president, as well as members of the local media, watch from the back of the room. [AP, 8/19/02 (D)] Altogether there about 150 people in the room, 16 of them the children in the class. He is introduced to the children and poses for a number of staged pictures. The teacher then leads the students through some reading exercises (video footage shows this lasts about three minutes). [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] Bush later claims that while he is doing this lesson, he is thinking what he will say about the WTC crash. "I was concentrating on the program at this point, thinking about what I was going to say. Obviously, I felt it was an accident. I was concerned about it, but there were no alarm bells." [Washington Times, 10/7/02] The children are just getting their books from under their seats to read a story together when Chief of Staff Andrew Card comes in to tell Bush of the second WTC crash (see (9:06 a.m.)). [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] [9:02, Washington Times, 10/8/02, 9:03, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:04, Daily Mail, 9/8/02, according to photographer Eric Draper, who is in the room] Note that Card comes in at the conclusion of the first half of the planned lesson, and "[seizes] a pause in the reading drill to walk up to Mr. Bush's seat." [Washington Times, 10/7/02, Washington Times, 10/8/02] Why doesn't Bush take this opportune moment to leave the room?


Vice President Cheney (pointing finger) with Rice and others in the underground bunker Cheney was carried into. This facility is called the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. [White House]

(After 9:03 a.m.) Secret Service agents burst into Vice President Cheney's White House office. They carry him under his arms - nearly lifting him off the ground - and propel him down the steps into the White House basement and through a long tunnel toward an underground bunker. ["Just after 9:00," ABC, 9/14/02 (B), around 9:06 when Bush is being told of the second WTC hit, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), same time Bush is being told, Telegraph, 12/16/01, shortly after Bush's speech at 9:30, CBS, 9/11/02, 9:32, Washington Post, 1/27/02] At about the same time, National Security Adviser Rice is told to go to the bunker as well. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Accounts of when this happens vary widely, from around 9:03 to 9:32. But since ABC News claims Cheney is in the bunker when he is told Flight 77 is 50 miles away from Washington, accounts of this taking place after 9:27 appear to be incorrect (see (9:27 a.m.)). The one eyewitness account, David Bohrer, a White House photographer, says it takes place just after 9:00. [ABC, 9/14/02 (B)] Why doesn't this happen to Bush at the same time? Are reports of this happening to Cheney later spin meant to make Bush remaining in public seem less strange?


Andrew Card tells Bush the second WTC tower has been hit. [White House via AP] See a vide of Bush's reaction here: [ABC, 9/14/02]

(9:06 a.m.)  Bush is in a Booker Elementary School second-grader classroom. His chief of staff, Andrew Card, enters the room and whispers into his ear, "A second plane hit the other tower, and America's under attack." [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] [9:05, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), 9:05, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:05, Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02, 9:07, Washington Times, 10/8/02, ABC News reporter Ann Compton, who is in the room, says she is struck "So much so that I [write] it down in my reporter's notebook, by my watch, 9:07 a.m.," ABC News, 9/11/02] Intelligence expert James Bamford describes Bush's reaction: "Immediately [after Card speaks to Bush] an expression of befuddlement passe[s] across the President's face. Then, having just been told that the country was under attack, the Commander in Chief appear[s] uninterested in further details. He never ask[s] if there had been any additional threats, where the attacks were coming from, how to best protect the country from further attacks.... Instead, in the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor, he simply turn[s] back to the matter at hand: the day's photo op." [Body of Secrets, James Bamford, 4/02 edition, p. 633] Bush continues listening to the goat story. Then, in an event noticeable in its absence, as one newspaper put it, "For some reason, Secret Service agents [do] not bustle him away." [Globe and Mail, 9/12/01] Bush later says of the experience, "I am very aware of the cameras. I'm trying to absorb that knowledge. I have nobody to talk to. I'm sitting in the midst of a classroom with little kids, listening to a children's story and I realize I'm the Commander in Chief and the country has just come under attack." [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Bush continues to listen to the goat story for about ten more minutes (see (9:06 - 9:16 a.m.)). The reason given is that, "Without all the facts at hand, George Bush ha[s] no intention of upsetting the schoolchildren who had come to read for him." [MSNBC, 10/29/02] Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is only three and a half miles away, and in fact the elementary school was chosen as the location for a photo op partly because of its closeness to the airport. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/12/02] Why doesn't the Secret Service move Bush away from his known location?


Bush listens to the Pet Goat story.

(9:06 - 9:16 a.m.) Bush, having just been told of the second WTC crash (see (9:06 a.m.)), does not leave the Sarasota, Florida, classroom he entered around 9:03. Rather, he stays and listens as 16 Booker Elementary School second-graders take turns reading a story called Pet Goat, about a girl's pet goat. [AFP, 9/7/02] They are just about to begin reading when Bush is warned of the attack. One account says that the classroom is then silent for about 30 seconds, maybe more. Bush then picks up the book and reads with the children "for eight or nine minutes." [Tampa Tribune, 9/1/02] In unison, the children read out loud, "The - Pet - Goat. A - girl - got - a - pet - goat. But - the - goat - did - some - things - that - made - the - girl's - dad - mad." And so on. Bush mostly listens, but does ask the children a few questions to encourage them. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] At one point he says, "Really good readers, whew! ... These must be sixth-graders!" [Time, 9/12/01] In the back of the room, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer catches Bush's eye and holds up a pad of paper for him to read, with "DON'T SAY ANYTHING YET" written on it in big block letters. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] Otherwise, Bush is completely cut off from outside developments. CNN reported in 1999, "Only the president has the authority to order a civilian aircraft shot down." [CNN, 10/26/99] The pilot of one of the planes flying to catch Flight 175 notes that it wouldn't have mattered if he caught up with it, because only Bush could order a shootdown, and Bush is at a public event at the time. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] If that fighter had caught up to Flight 175, would thousands have needlessly died because Bush didn't leave this classroom? (Note that three articles claim that Bush leaves the classroom at 9:12 [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), Telegraph, 12/16/01, Daily Mail, 9/8/02], but the video of Bush in the room lasts longer than that. That video also has edits and ends before Bush leaves. The above time is a rough guess based mostly on the Tampa Tribune estimate).


Bush with his "Pet Goat" book in Sandra Kay Daniels' elementary school classroom. [Eric Draper]

(9:16 a.m.)  Bush leaves the Sarasota classroom where he has been since about 9:03. The children finish their lessons and put away their readers. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Bush advises the children to stay in school and be good citizens. [Tampa Tribune, 9/1/02, St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B)] He also tells the children, "Thank you all so very much for showing me your reading skills." [ABC News, 9/11/02] One student also asks Bush a question, and Bush gives a quick response on his education policy. [New York Post, 9/12/02] A reporter asks, "Mr. President, are you aware of the reports of the plane crash in New York? Is there any..." This question is interrupted by an aide who has come into the room, saying, "All right. Thank you. If everyone could please step outside." Bush then says, "We'll talk about it later." [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] Bush then tells school principal Gwen Tose-Rigell, who is in the room, about the terror attacks and why he has to leave. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] He then goes into an empty classroom next door and meets with his staff there. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Bush's program with the children was supposed to start at 9:00 and end 20 minutes later. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/16/01] So he leaves the classroom only a couple of minutes earlier than planned, if at all (as the goodbyes and questions on the way out may have taken another minute or two).


Bush in a holding room before giving his speech. Communications director Dan Bartlett points to the TV, and the clock reads 9:25. [White House]

(Between 9:16 - 9:29 a.m.) Bush works with his staff to prepare a speech he will deliver at 9:29. He intermittently watches the television coverage in the room. [Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] He also speaks on the phone to advisors, first calling National Security Advisor Rice, then Vice President Cheney, then New York Governor George Pataki. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] This would have been a good time to discuss if hijacked planes should be shot down or not, but apparently that conversation doesn't happen until after 9:55.


President Bush speaks at 9:29 in the library of Booker Elementary School. [From Booker Elementary website]

9:29 a.m. Still inside Booker Elementary School, Bush gives a brief speech in front of about 200 students, plus many teachers and reporters. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] He says, "Today we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country" (see the text of the speech here [Federal News Service, 9/11/01]). The talk occurs at exactly the time and place stated in his publicly announced advance schedule - making Bush a possible terrorist target. [9:24, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:28, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:30, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:30, New York Times, 9/12/01, speech begins at 9:29:55 according to an ABC News timing device, advanced schedule 9:30 in Federal News Service, 9/10/01]

(9:34 a.m.) Bush's motorcade leaves Booker Elementary School and heads toward Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. [9:34, Washington Times, 10/8/02, 9:35, Telegraph, 12/16/01] A few days after 9/11, Sarasota's main newspaper reports, "Sarasota barely skirted its own disaster. As it turns out, terrorists targeted the president and Air Force One on Tuesday, maybe even while they were on the ground in Sarasota and certainly not long after. The Secret Service learned of the threat just minutes after Bush left Booker Elementary." [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/16/01] A year later, Chief of Staff Andrew Card says, "As we were heading to Air Force One, we did hear about the Pentagon attack, and we also learned, what turned out to be a mistake, but we learned that the Air Force One package could in fact be a target." [MSNBC, 9/9/02] Real threat or not, this only increases the strangeness that Bush wasn't immediately evacuated as some of his security recommended at 9:03. And why would Bush take off in Air Force One without fighter escort if a threat to Air Force One was just discovered?


This photo was taken mere moments after the Pentagon crash. [SIPA]

9:38 a.m.  Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon.  Approximately 125 on the ground are later determined killed or missing. [9:37, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:37, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:38, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:38, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:38, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:38, CBS, 9/11/02 (B), 9:39, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:40, AP, 8/19/02, 9:43, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:43, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, At 9:39:02 on NBC News, reporter Jim Miklaszewski states that, "Moments ago, I felt an explosion here at the Pentagon," Television Archive, WDCN 9:30]


A thorough security check before boarding Air Force One delays takeoff. [AFP]

9:43 a.m. Bush's motorcade arrives at Sarasota's airport and pulls up close to Air Force One. He learns a plane has hit the Pentagon as the motorcade gets near the airport. Bush immediately boards the plane. [Washington Times, 10/8/02, Telegraph, 12/16/01] Security then does an extra-thorough search of all the baggage for the other passengers, delaying takeoff until 9:55. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B)]

9:48 a.m. The Capitol building in Washington begins evacuation, 24 minutes after the FAA has warned a hijacked plane appeared to be headed toward Washington (see 9:24 a.m.). [AP, 8/19/02] Senator Tom Daschle, majority leader of the Senate, later states, "Some capitol policemen broke into the room and said, we're under attack. I've got to take you out right away." Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, third in line of succession to the presidency behind Vice President Cheney, is in the Capitol building with other congresspeople. Only after this time are Hastert and others in the line of succession moved to secure locations. Some point after this, Hastert and other leaders are flown by helicopter to secret bunkers. [ABC News, 9/11/02] It is later reported that the target for Flight 93 was the Capitol building, so had that flight not been delayed 40 minutes before takeoff, it is possible most senators and congresspeople would have been killed.


Air Force One departs Sarasota. [AP]

(9:56 a.m.) Bush departs from the Saratoga, Florida, airport on Air Force One. [9:54, Dallas Morning News, 8/28/02, 9:55, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), 9:55, Daily Mail, 9/8/02,9:55, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:55, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:55, AP, 9/12/01, 9:55, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:57, CBS, 9/11/02 (B), 9:57, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:57, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:57, Telegraph, 12/16/01] Amazingly, his plane takes off without any fighters protecting it. "The object seemed to be simply to get the President airborne and out of the way," says an administration official. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] There are still 3,520 planes in the air over the US. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] About half of the planes in the region of Florida where Bush is are still in the air. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/7/02] With so many reports of hijacked planes, how is being in the sky unescorted any safer than being on the ground?


Where is the security covering Bush in this picture around 9:43 a.m.? [AP] Around 3:00 p.m., Bush is "guarded by soldiers clad in fatigues and gripping machine guns" when he emerges from Air Force One. [Salon, 9/12/01]

(After 9:56 a.m.)  After flying off in Air Force One, Bush talks to Vice President Cheney on the phone. Cheney recommends that Bush authorize the military to shoot down any plane under control of the hijackers. "I said, 'You bet,'" Bush later recalls. "We had a little discussion, but not much." ["After Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon," Newsday, 9/23/01, time unknown, USA Today, 9/16/01, "Once airborne, Bush spoke again to Cheney," Washington Post, 1/27/02, after Bush is airborne, CBS, 9/11/02] Flight 93 is still in the air, and fighters are given orders to intercept it and possibly shoot it down. [ABC News, 9/11/02] If this decision was so easy to make, why wasn't it given earlier? Bush was available to make this decision at any time after leaving the Booker Elementary classroom around 9:16. Why hasn't he okayed the shooting down of any aircraft during that time, when it's been known there is a hijacked plane (Flight 77) headed toward Washington since at least 9:24?

(9:56 - 10:40 a.m.) Air Force One takes off and quickly gains altitude. One passenger later says, "It was like a rocket. For a good 10 minutes, the plane was going almost straight up." [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] Once the plane reaches cruising altitude, it flies in circles. Journalists on board sense this, because the television reception for a local station generally remains good. "Apparently Bush, Cheney and the Secret Service argue over the safety of Bush coming back to Washington. [Salon, 9/12/01, Telegraph, 12/16/01]


WTC south tower collapses at 9:59. [AP]

9:59 a.m.  The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by Flight 175 at 9:02. [9:50, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:59, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:59, AP, 8/19/02, 9:59, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:59 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:05, CNN, 9/12/01, 10:05, New York Times, 9/12/01 , 9:59:39, US Army authorized seismic study, 9:59:04, seismic records]

(10:08 a.m.) Bush is told of the crash of Flight 93 a few minutes later. Because of Cheney's earlier order, he asks, "Did we shoot it down or did it crash?" Several hours later, he is assured it crashed. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

10:28 a.m.  The World Trade Center's north tower collapses. It was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46. [10:28, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 10:28, CNN, 9/12/01, 10:28, New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:28, AP, 8/19/02, 10:28 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:29, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 10:28:31, seismic records] The death toll could have been much worse - an estimated 15,000 people made it out of the WTC to safety. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02]

10:31 a.m. "The FAA [allows] military, and law enforcement flights to resume (and some flights that the FAA can't reveal that were already airborne)." All civilian, military and law enforcement flights were ordered to land as soon as reasonably possible about one hour earlier (see (9:26 a.m.)). [Time, 9/14/01]

10:32 a.m. Cheney calls Bush and tells him of a threat to Air Force One. He is told it would take between 40 minutes and 90 minutes to get a protective fighter escort up to Air Force One. His plane turns toward Louisiana soon after. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Many doubt the existence of this threat. For instance, Representative Martin Meehan (D) says, "I don't buy the notion Air Force One was a target. That's just PR, that's just spin." [Washington Times, 10/8/02] A later account calls the threat "completely untrue," and says Cheney probably made the story up. A well-informed, anonymous Washington official says, "It did two things for [Cheney]. It reinforced his argument that the President should stay out of town, and it gave George W an excellent reason for doing so." [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Why wouldn't Air Force One already have a fighter escort, and why would it take so long for new planes to arrive? Does Cheney also delay a fighter escort? Why does he apparently lie to keep Bush away?

(10:35 a.m.) Air Force One turns toward Louisiana. It has been decided Bush cannot go directly to Washington. [About 10:30, CBS, 9/11/02 (B), about 10:42, Washington Post, 1/27/02]


Colonel Mark Tillman in the cockpit of Air Force One. [CBS]

(10:55 a.m.) Colonel Mark Tillman, pilot of Air Force One, is told there is a threat to Bush's plane. Tillman has an armed guard placed at his cockpit door while the Secret Service double-checks the identity of everyone on board. Then traffic controllers warn that a suspect airliner is dead ahead. Says Tillman, "Coming out of Sarasota there was one call that said there was an airliner off our nose that they did not have contact with." Tillman takes evasive action, pulling his plane high above normal traffic. [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] Reporters on board notice the rise in elevation. [10:55 according to a reporter who writes it in her notebook, Dallas Morning News, 8/28/02, "just before 11:00," Salon, 9/12/01] The report is apparently a false alarm. The alarm shows the folly of having Bush get in Air Force One at this time without a fighter escort.


President Bush (center, stooped down) and staff look out the windows of Air Force One to see their newly arrived fighter escorts. [White House]

(Between 10:55 - 11:30 a.m.) No fighters escort Bush's Air Force One until somewhere in this time period. At 10:32, Cheney said it would take until about 11:10 to 12:00 to get a fighter escort to Air Force One. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] According to one account, around 10:00 Air Force One "is joined by an escort of F-16 fighters from a base near Jacksonville, Florida," but this is contradicted by Cheney's comment reported a month later. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Another account says, "At 10:41, ... Air Force One headed toward Jacksonville to meet jets scrambled to give the presidential jet its own air cover." [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] But apparently when Air Force One takes evasive action around 10:55 there is still no fighter escort (see 10:55 a.m.). NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold later says, "We scrambled available airplanes from Tyndall [near Tallahassee, not Jacksonville, Florida] and then from Ellington in Houston, Texas," but he doesn't say when. [Code One Magazine, 1/02] In another account, two F-16s eventually arrive, piloted by Shane Brotherton and Randy Roberts, from the Texas Air National Guard, not from any Florida base. [CBS, 9/11/02] By 11:30 there are six fighters protecting Air Force One. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Given that two of the seven bases said to have fighters on alert on 9/11 are in Florida, Homestead Air Station, 185 miles from Sarasota, and Tyndall Air Station, 235 miles from Sarasota, not to mention the Jacksonville base, why don't fighters escort Air Force One from takeoff, or a few minutes later?


The approximate route of Bush's journey on Air Force One is shown in yellow. Keep in mind the plane flies in circles somewhere in Florida for about 40 minutes before heading west. Why do the first planes scrambled to defend the plane come from Ellington, Texas, and not any of the three likely Florida bases?

11:45 a.m. Air Force One lands at Barksdale Air Force base near Shreveport, Louisiana. "The official reason for landing at Barksdale was that Bush felt it necessary to make a further statement, but it isn't unreasonable to assume that - as there was no agreement as to what the President's movements should be - it was felt he might as well be on the ground as in the air." [Salon, 9/12/01, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), Telegraph, 12/16/01, CBS, 9/11/02] If this is true, then having him take off without any fighter escort makes even less sense.


Air Force One at Barksdale Air Force Base. [AP]

(12:00 Noon) Bush arrives at the Barksdale Air Force base headquarters in a Humvee escorted by armed outriders. Reporters and others are not allowed to say where they are. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Compare this level of security to the complete lack of any security measures to protect Bush earlier in the day when it is learned that a second plane has hit the WTC.

12:36 p.m. Bush gives a short speech that is taped and played by the networks at 1:04 p.m. ["Just after 12:30," Salon, 9/12/01, 12:36, Washington Times, 10/8/02] In a speech at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, President Bush announces that security measures are being taken and says: "Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts." [MSNBC, 9/22/01, CNN, 9/12/01, New York Times, 9/12/01] He also states, "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended." [ABC News, 9/11/02]

(12:58 p.m.) Bush spends most of his time at Barksdale Air Force base arguing on the phone with Cheney and others over where he should go next. "A few minutes before 1 p.m.," he agrees to fly to Nebraska. As earlier (see 10:32 a.m.), there are rumors of a "credible terrorist threat" to Air Force One. [Telegraph, 12/16/01]

1:04 p.m.  President Bush puts the US military on high alert worldwide. [CNN, 9/12/01, AP, 8/19/02]

(1:30 p.m.)  President Bush leaves Barksdale Air Force Base for Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base, home to the US Strategic Command. [1:15, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 1:31, Salon, 9/12/01, 1:44, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 1:48, CNN, 9/12/01] He travels with Chief of Staff Andrew Card, senior advisor Karl Rove, communications staffers Dan Bartlett, Ari Fleischer and Gordon Johndroe, and a reduced number of reporters. [Salon, 9/12/01]

(2:50 p.m.) Air Force One lands at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. Bush stays on the plane for about 10 minutes before entering United States Strategic Command at 3:06. [Salon, 9/12/01] Bush is taken into an underground bunker designed to withstand a nuclear blast. There, he uses an advanced strategic command and communications center to teleconference directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and members of the National Security Council. The meeting ends at 4:15. [Telegraph, 12/16/01, Washington Times, 10/8/02] [2:50, Daily Mail, 9/8/02, 2:50, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 2:50, Salon, 9/12/01, 3:07, AP, 8/19/02] Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta also participate in the teleconference. [ABC News, 9/11/02]


This photo of Bush speaking to Cheney shortly after leaving Offutt is later used for Republican fundraising. [White House]

(4:33 p.m.)  President Bush leaves Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for Washington. [4:30, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 4:30, CNN, 9/12/01, 4:36, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 4:36, Washington Times, 10/8/02]

(6:54 p.m.)  Bush arrives back at the White House, after exiting Air Force One at 6:42 and flying across Washington in a helicopter. [ABC News, 9/11/02] [6:34, Salon, 9/12/01, 6:54, Washington Times, 10/8/02, 6:54, CNN, 9/12/01, 6:54, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 7:00, AP, 8/19/02]

(7:00 p.m.) Secretary of State Powell returns to Washington from Lima, Peru. Ten hours after the attacks began, he is finally able to speak to Bush for the first time when they both arrive at the White House at about the same time. Powell later says of his flight, "And the worst part of it, is that because of the communications problems that existed during that day, I couldn't talk to anybody in Washington." [ABC News, 9/11/02] The Telegraph later theorizes, "Why so long? In the weeks before September 11 Washington was full of rumors that Powell was out of favor and had been quietly relegated to the sidelines..." [Telegraph, 12/16/01]


Bush addresses the nation. [White House]

8:30 p.m.  Bush addresses the nation on live TV. [CNN, 9/12/01] In what will later be called the Bush Doctrine, he states,"We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

9:00 p.m. Bush meets with his full National Security Council, followed roughly half an hour later by a meeting with a smaller group of key advisers. Bush and his advisors have already decided bin Laden is behind the attacks. CIA Director Tenet says that al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan are essentially one and the same. Bush says, tell the Taliban we're finished with them. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

(11:30 p.m.) Before going to sleep, Bush writes in his diary, The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today. ... We think it's Osama bin Laden." [Washington Post, 1/27/02
]