Military ignored Cheney’s 9/11 shoot-down order

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Newly published audio this week reveals that Vice President Dick Cheney's infamous Sept. 11, 2001 order to shoot down rogue civilian aircraft was ignored by military officials, who instead ordered pilots to only identify suspect aircraft.

That revelation is one of many in newly released audio recordings compiled by investigators for the 9/11 Commission, published this week by The Rutgers Law Review. Featuring voices from employees at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and American Airlines, the newly released multimedia provides a glimpse at the chaos that emerged as the attack progressed.

Most striking of all is the revelation that an order by Vice President Dick Cheney was ignored by the military, which saw his order to shoot down aircraft as outside the chain of command. Instead of acknowledging the order to shoot down civilian aircraft and carrying it out, NORAD ordered fighters to confirm aircraft tail numbers first and report back for further instructions.

Cheney's order was given at "about 10:15" a.m., according to the former VP's memoirs, but the 9/11 Commission Report shows United flight 93 going down at 10:06 a.m. Had the military followed Cheney's order, civilian aircraft scrambling to get out of the sky could have been shot down, exponentially amplifying the day's tragedy.

Far from sending fighters to chase after the hijacked aircraft, as Bush administration officials have repeatedly said they did, the new audio tapes paint a picture of bedlam and unpreparedness.

The situation was so chaotic, military officials received the exact location of one of the aircraft that hit the World Trade Center towers just nine minutes before impact. It even took a military official calling the FAA some 30 minutes after American Airlines Flight 77 went off course before the nation's defense apparatus began scrambling. Moments later the jet is said to have slammed into the Pentagon.

Despite these latest disclosures, the vast majority of materials gathered during the investigation of 9/11 remains a secret, even over the wishes of the 9/11 commissioners. Among that information is a 30-page summary of the commission's interview with President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney; black box data; minutes from a secret, high-level "continuity of government" meeting; and information on America's overseas intelligence-gathering on al Qaeda.

Withheld from the audio released by Rutgers was a high-level meeting held by top administration officials, where they discussed continuity of government measures to be implemented if the president were to be killed or a mass casualty event were to occur. In Cheney's memoir, he claims to have ordered a staffer to hang up on that meeting when a technical glitch caused a degradation in audio quality. Instead of going directly there to participate in discussions about how to sustain the government, Cheney decided to watch television news.

9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean has said most of the investigation's materials are classified for no apparent reason, and urged that the National Archives release the 9/11 files to the public as soon as possible. He's also suggested that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tried to impede the investigation when it turned towards al Qaeda intelligence gathering methods.

As many as 92 tapes of terror war captives being tortured by CIA operatives were later destroyed. Officials suggested these recordings depicted torture sessions with terrorism suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri. Along with the tapes, detailed records of the CIA's so-called "torture flights," showing the planes, destinations and even the passengers, were also destroyed.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced in June that after a lengthy investigation, a probe of the CIA's interrogations during the Bush-era would not proceed.

This video is from ABC News, broadcast Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011.

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Reply to Nor Cal Truth

Nor Cal Truth: "There are now new tapes that verify Cheney gave a shootdown order."

Yes, but this is nothing new, he gave the (authorized) order long after UA 93 crashed (~10:30), when everything was over and done with.

Nor Cal Truth: "Military ignored his order because he did not have proper authorization."

They know Cheney isn't part of the NCA and therefore any orders given by Cheney to shoot down aircraft are moot. James argued in July 2010 that Bush and Rumsfeld (who together comprise the NCA), knowingly stayed out of the loop leaving it to Cheney to give the shootdown order, after it was too late, all three knowing it wouldn't have the force of authority if it came from Cheney, but it would look like they tried to do their job nonetheless.

Nor Cal Truth: "Bush and Cheney left the 9/11 Commission with the impression that Bush had given the order."

Yes and no. What we have here is a contradiction in the official record. Officially, the records say that no order to shoot down aircraft was given until about 10:30, after Cheney got authorization from Bush. However, the attacks had ended by then, and the Mineta incident, regardless of whether it involved only UA 93, or both AA 77 and UA 93, took place before this contact between Bush and Cheney happened, making any "shootdown" order by Cheney unauthorized, because Cheney isn't part of the NCA.

So the NCA was out of the loop, Cheney allegedly gave an (unauthorized!) shootdown order during the 9/11 Commission UA 93 version of the Mineta incident, and then gave another order at around 10:30, this time with authorization from Bush, obtained via a phone call.

Everything they did was do nothing with the greatest amount of plausible deniability. Bush and/or Rumsfeld should have been available for shootdown authority in the case of an intercept. So, not only were the intercepts impeded with various exercises, delays and deviation from SOP, had any plane been intercepted, it couldn't have been shot down because the triangle Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld hid their deliberate passivity by leaving Cheney in charge, and not show up or authorize Cheney to do anything until the attacks had completed.

Nor Cal Truth: "Because their testimony was not recorded we have no idea what they said, but it appears that at least one of them lied (both by accomplice to)."

At various times, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice lied about this incident both under oath and in the press. See here.

Nor Cal Truth: "The order to shoot down was gven too late, by the wrong person."

First, by the wrong person, and this isn't even certain, and this was too late already, then again, with authorization, but even later, and more pointless. All to give the appearance of decisive action on the part of the administration while all they did was excise themselves from the loop.

Nor Cal Truth: "No fighter pilots were able to identify any of the flights visually (officially)."

I don't know. I believe one team is said to have almost intercepted UA 93, according to the official story. Everything said above is based on the official story and the contradictions in it. There are obviously other options, outside of official documents and claims from Bush officials in the press, but the mutually contradictory statements on the official record provide for an inescapable "j'accuse".

Nor Cal Truth: "Right so far?"

As Jimd3100 puts it:
"Bush and Rumsfeld conducted the stand down. Cheney attempted to cover for them."

"Cheney is protecting these traitors, Rumsfeld deserted his post and has never been held accountable, and Bush's Saudi and CIA friends assisted the hijackers, and he covered that up like the traitor that he is........"


Thanks for taking the time to explain further.

It's really nice to have peer discussion.

No prob

I had somewhat of an epiphany when I read Jimd3100's piece a year ago.

very good insight.

very good insight.