The Secretary of Defense Stands Down on 9/11
The CNN documentary "America Remembers," includes footage of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's immediate actions after the Pentagon was hit. CNN's Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr describes what happened : "Secretary Rumsfeld was in his suite of offices on the other side of the building from the impact zone. He felt it and he immediately was on the attack site within moments, much to the displeasure of his security people, but he did it, and there are pictures of the secretary helping other men carry stretchers of the injured."
View the footage here:
Yet surely, as secretary of defense, shouldn't Rumsfeld have been concerning himself with defending America from further attacks? What if there'd been another attack on the Pentagon? In fact, emergency workers had to be evacuated from the area at+around+10:15+a.m., due to an erroneous report of another hijacked aircraft approaching. And according to the recent Vanity Fair "9/11 Live" article, false reports of hijackings continued "well into the afternoon" of 9/11. So why wasn't Rumsfeld helping to protect his country?
In fact, military instructions indicate that the secretary of defense had a specific role to play in helping co-ordinate the response to the attacks. Military instruction CJCSI 3610.01A from June 1, 2001 required: "In the event of a hijacking, the NMCC [the National Military Command Center, located within the Pentagon] will be notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA. The NMCC will, with the exception of immediate responses as authorized by reference d, forward requests for DOD assistance to the Secretary of Defense for approval." (However, it is worth noting that this requirement for defense secretary approval was not new, as some people mistakenly believe. The previous instruction for dealing with hijackings, CJCSI 3610.01, dated July 31, 1997, also required it.)
Therefore, if 9/11 was really a surprise attack (as the U.S. government claims), why did Rumsfeld, at the time when he should have been helping coordinate the military's response, hurry outside for a photo opportunity? According to the 9/11 Commission, "The Secretary of Defense did not enter the chain of command until the morning's key events were over." Not only does it seem that the U.S. Air Force was stood down during the 9/11 attacks: So too was there a stand down of the secretary of defense.