Chain Of Command

Jon Gold

I remember being taught long ago that the only two responsibilities a Vice President has is to break a tying vote in the Senate and to take over as President in the event the President is killed or in surgery. The Vice President is not part of the military chain of command. I’m going to post some information for you, and let you come to your own conclusions. My basic premise is that I don’t think Cheney had the authority to do what he did on 9/11. Which to me, sounds like a BIG thing. I know that Continuity of Government (COG) was activated that morning, but if that gave Cheney authority, you would think the pilots would have been aware of that, which it appears they weren’t (if that was the case). Did his lack of authority cause other confusion? In 2015, photos were released that seemed to show Cheney could not have been in the PEOC prior to the Pentagon being hit, despite all of the available information that suggests it. Because I can’t prove that the photos are fake, or that the footage was played back on a VCR, I have to take them at face value, and put that issue on the shelf. Because of the situation with communications from Bush and that Rumsfeld was “missing,” it set up a scenario apparently where Cheney could do what he did. That’s probably just a coincidence.

The Vice President

The V.P.'s Job: The only duty the U.S. Constitution assigns the Vice President is to act as presiding officer of the Senate. But the Vice President also serves as ceremonial assistant to the President and is an important part of the President's administration.

The Second Highest Office: The Vice President is only "a heartbeat away" from becoming the President. He or she must be ready to become President or Acting President if anything happens to the President. Thirteen Vice Presidents have gone on to become President, eight because of the death of a President. (Gerald Ford became President after Richard M. Nixon resigned, and the rest were elected to the office.)

(9:34 a.m.-11:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush’s Attempts at Communicating with White House Are Severely Hindered

After departing the Booker Elementary School, President Bush experiences problems trying to communicate with the White House. On his way to Air Force One, he is unable to get a secure phone line to Dick Cheney, and has to rely instead on using a borrowed cell phone. According to the CBC, even this cell phone doesn’t work. Lee Hamilton, vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, claims the difficulty is because the members of Bush’s entourage, all suddenly trying to call Washington, create a “communication jam.” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; New York Times, 6/18/2004; Observer, 6/20/2004; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 9/10/2006] Yet after boarding Air Force One the problems continue, despite the plane’s elaborate communications equipment. Bush will later tell the 9/11 Commission “that he was deeply dissatisfied with the ability to communicate from Air Force One,” and that “this was a very major flaw.” Thomas Kean, chair of the Commission, says Bush’s inability to communicate with the White House is “scary on both sides because the president is the only one who can give certain orders that need to be given.” [NBC, 4/4/2004; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 9/10/2006] Some time before 11:45 a.m., Bush’s senior adviser Karen Hughes tries calling him through the White House switchboard. In a shaky voice, the operator tells her, “Ma’am, we can’t reach Air Force One.” Hughes is very frightened as, she says, “I never had that happen before.” [Washington Post, 1/27/2002; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 9/10/2006]

(10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Missing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Finally Enters NMCC

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, missing for at least 30 minutes, finally enters the NMCC, where the military’s response to the 9/11 attacks is being coordinated. [CNN, 9/4/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld later claims that he only started to gain a situational awareness of what was happening after arriving at the NMCC. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld was in his office only 200 feet away from the NMCC until the Pentagon crash at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). His activities during this period are unclear. He went outside to the Flight 77 crash site and then stayed somewhere else in the Pentagon until his arrival at the NMCC. Brigadier General Montague Winfield later says, “For 30 minutes we couldn’t find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the [NMCC].” [ABC News, 9/11/2002] Winfield himself apparently only shows up at the NMCC around 10:30 a.m. as well.

The President's Book of Secrets

“Shoestring” from 911blogger has written a new article entitled “Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 'Deserted His Post' While America Was Under Attack on 9/11.” In that article, there is some new information from a book called “The President's Book of Secrets,” by David Priess, page 244.

From his article…

“The failure of Donald Rumsfeld to help deal with the crisis after the second crash at the World Trade Center occurred is particularly alarming considering that some of his colleagues apparently tried to get him involved with the military's response to the attacks at that time, but he rejected their advice. This indicates that he made a conscious decision to do nothing.

For example, when she entered his office to give him his intelligence briefing, Denny Watson told Rumsfeld: "Sir, you just need to cancel this [briefing]. You've got more important things to do." But he replied: "No, no. We're going to do this."

And when Victoria Clarke and Larry Di Rita came in and tried to get Rumsfeld to cancel his schedule, he refused to do so. They advised him to cancel his appointments for the rest of the day, presumably so he could focus on responding to the attacks. But, astonishingly, he told them: "No! If I cancel my day, the terrorists have won."

Even when Clarke and Di Rita pulled out a copy of his agenda, took him through it point by point, and showed him why each appointment could be canceled, Rumsfeld remained unmoved. His only response was to turn to the television on his desk and look at the coverage of the attacks in New York. After Clarke and Di Rita left the office, he just returned to skimming through the President's Daily Brief.”

Cheney recalls taking charge from bunker

September 11, 2002 Posted: 9:51 PM EDT (0151 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As horrified Americans watched the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, unfold on their television sets, Vice President Dick Cheney directed the U.S. government's response from an emergency bunker.

The actions included moving key members of Congress to a secure location and having the Secret Service bring his wife, Lynn, to the bunker.
Cheney was in his West Wing office when he received word that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. He watched TV and hoped that his instincts were wrong.

"It was a clear day, there were no weather problems, and then we saw the second airplane hit in real time," Cheney told CNN's John King in an interview in the vice president's office.

"At that moment, you knew this was a deliberate act. This was a terrorist act."

He called President Bush in Florida and spoke with top aides. Then his door burst open.

"My [Secret Service] agent all of a sudden materialized right beside me and said, 'Sir, we have to leave now.' He grabbed me and propelled me out of my office, down the hall, and into the underground shelter in the White House," Cheney said.

In White House terminology, it is the PEOC, short for the Presidential Emergency Operations Center.

"I didn't know that it existed until I was actually down there, and I'm sure I could find my way back there to this day," said Mary Matalin, a counselor to the vice president.

A relic of the Cold War, the deep underground bunker became the vice president's base of operations on the first day of a new war.

After the planes struck the twin towers, a third took a chunk out of the Pentagon. Cheney then heard a report that a plane over Pennsylvania was heading for Washington. A military assistant asked Cheney twice for authority to shoot it down.

"The vice president said yes again," remembered Josh Bolton, deputy White House chief of staff. "And the aide then asked a third time. He said, 'Just confirming, sir, authority to engage?' And the vice president -- his voice got a little annoyed then -- said, 'I said yes.'"

It was a rare flash of anger from a man who knew he was setting the tone at a White House in crisis.

"I think there was an undertone of anger there. But it's more a matter of determination. You don't want to let your anger overwhelm your judgment in a moment like this," Cheney said.

Word came that Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. Aides frantically called the White House to find out whether a military jet had shot it down.
"The vice president was a little bit ahead of us," said Eric Edelman, Cheney's national security advisor. "He said sort of softly and to nobody in particular, 'I think an act of heroism just took place on that plane.'"

Cheney and staffers watched in horror as the first tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. Matalin remembered the moment.

"Oddly everything just stopped. Not for long, but it did stop totally at that moment," she said. "[Cheney] emoted in a way that he emotes, which was to stop."

After the brief lull, Cheney and the White House staffers got back to business, which included checking the tail numbers of the last airplanes unaccounted for when national air traffic was ordered to halt.

"It was about 12:15 or 12:20 [p.m. ET] when I said to the vice president, 'Mr. Vice President, all the planes are down, and he said, 'Great, thank you very much,'" Edelman said.

Some aides suggested that Cheney was a possible target and should not stay at the White House. He said no.

"I had communications with the president, communications with the Pentagon, Secret Service and so forth. And we could continue to operate there, and if I left, I'd lose all that," Cheney said.

Lynn Cheney was a constant presence. She leaned in at one point to tell the vice president that their daughters were fine.

"It's something you think about, but again, it's not so much a personal consideration at that point. It may have been for people who didn't have anything to do," Cheney said.

It was the bunker's first test in an actual emergency, a day of crisis with some hitches.

Cheney wanted to track TV reports of the devastation and listen in on communications with the Pentagon.

"You can have sound on one or the other and he found that technically imperfect," Matalin recalled.

The vice president had a few words with the president just before the latter's address to the nation. CIA Director George Tenet watched from the bunker, waiting for Bush to convene a late-night meeting of the National Security Council.

"I guess the thing I was struck by was the extent to which he had begun to grapple with these problems and to make decisions, that we were in a war on terror," Cheney said.

Cheney spoke once more to the president, and then took a nighttime ride past the Pentagon, heavily damaged in the attacks.

"I recall watching the vice president, who was staring out the window at the Pentagon, and wondering what he may be thinking about, the responsibilities he would have in the future. A pretty sobering moment," said Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff.

It is a memory that Cheney said has shaped every day since then.

"As we lifted off and headed up the Potomac [River], you could look out and see the Pentagon, see that black hole where it'd been hit. A lot of lights on the building, smoke rising from the Pentagon," he said.

"And you know, it really helped to bring home the impact of hat had happened, that we had in fact been attacked."

The Shot Heard Round the World

By Evan Thomas On 2/26/06 at 7:00 PM

Dick Cheney has never been your normal politician. He has never seemed as eager to please, as needy for votes and approval and headlines as, say, Bill Clinton. Cheney can seem taciturn, self-contained, a little gloomy; in recent years, his manner has been not just unwelcoming but stand-offish. This is not to say, however, that he is entirely modest and self-effacing, or that he does not crave power as much as or more than any office-seeker. This, after all, is a man who, in conducting a search for George W. Bush's vice president, picked himself. Indeed, since 9/11, Cheney has struck a pose more familiar to readers of Greek tragedies than the daily Hotline. At times, he appears to be the lonely leader, brooding in his tent, knowing that doom may be inevitable, but that the battle must be fought, and that glory can be eternal.

If, as he ponders the Threat Matrix at his daily intelligence briefing, Cheney really sees himself as a modern Achilles or Hector on the plains at Troy, he is not just being grandiose. A few weeks after 9/11, NEWSWEEK has learned, Cheney worried that he and his family and his staff might have been exposed in an anthrax attack. According to knowledgeable former officials, a mysterious letter turned up at the vice president's mansion. (A former senior law-enforcement official recalled that sensors went off.) The alarm turned out to be false. Still, to be safe, Cheney and his entourage began taking Cipro, the powerful antibiotic. The story was hushed up. (Cheney's office referred NEWSWEEK to the Secret Service, which declined to comment.) Cheney prefers to be a quiet warrior, severe perhaps, but not bleak--just resolute (This is Jon. Cheney and others started taking CIPRO on the day of 9/11).

Stoicism can be a great attribute in a leader. "I have no feelings," the statesman Gen. George C. Marshall once said, "except for those I reserve for Mrs. Marshall." And there can be no doubt that, privately, Cheney was badly upset by shooting another man, 78-year-old Tex-as lawyer Harry Whittington, in a hunting accident. That night Cheney sat alone on the porch of his guesthouse, saying very little as others came and went. "He was shaken, crushed, miserable," his host, Katharine Armstrong, told NEWSWEEK. "I could have gotten up and wrapped my arms around the vice president." But she didn't; no one did. (Lynne Cheney had not accompanied her husband on the trip.)

In human terms, it is perfectly understandable why Cheney was in no mood to talk to reporters then or for several days thereafter. It is a little odd, however, that he did not speak to President George W. Bush until Monday morning, 36 hours after the shooting, and just as peculiar that Bush did not call him. The talking heads immediately speculated that Bush had somehow cooled on the vice president for his handling of the shooting incident, for pushing the invasion of Iraq, for becoming a lightning rod for administration critics.

Cheney is often lauded as that rare No. 2 who, having no political ambition for himself, can give his all to the president. But Cheney's aloofness from the ebb and flow of politics and public opinion has apparently dulled his senses in a way that is not helpful to his boss, who has been busy lately defending his administration from criticism that it was badly out of touch during Hurricane Katrina.

Sounding less than convinced himself, Bush tried to calm down the hunting-accident press flap. Cheney, said Bush, had done "just fine" with Fox News anchorman Brit Hume, who was granted an exclusive interview with the veep four days after the shooting.

Cheney's words and manner in that 20-minute session were indeed affecting: "Ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry," he said, speaking in a monotone but looking grave and sad. "That is something I'll never forget... It was... one of the worst days of my life." Cheney's backers lashed out at the pundits and comics for taking ghoulish delight in the accident. "The vice president has so pissed off the establishment media that they've been waiting for anything to get him," says former senator Alan Simpson, Cheney's old Wyoming friend of 40 years.

But the shooting incident once again drew attention to the unusual nature of Cheney's power. He remains by far the most powerful vice president in history, and one of the most secretive and mysterious public officials to ever hold such high office in America. He is caricatured as a Darth Vader, spooky, above the law; nefarious.

What happened to the genial, gently amusing Dick Cheney of the 2000 vice presidential debate? After he and Al Gore's running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, exchanged good-humored quips, more than a few voters wondered why the tickets couldn't be flipped--allowing a couple --of affable, common-sensical Washington hands to run for president instead of Bush and Gore, who at times seemed like the wounded sons of great political dynasties, groaning under the burden of expectation. Cheney, the conservative that moderates once seemed to like, has strangely iced over in recent years. Even his old friends sometimes wonder if he has not grown angrier, more suspicious, even paranoid. Last fall, Brent Scowcroft, national-security adviser in the George H.W. Bush administration, caused a stir by telling The New Yorker magazine, "I consider Cheney a good friend--I've known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore."

Has Cheney changed? Has he been transformed, warped, perhaps corrupted--by stress, wealth, aging, illness, the real terrors of the world or possibly some inner goblins? The few who know him (and few really do) aren't saying much, except to argue that he takes a longer view than the mean politics of the moment. But there is no doubt that Cheney has become less amiable, less open, less willing to conciliate and seek common ground than he was as a younger politician. A man who was shepherded by the Secret Service to his bunker during 9/11 has stayed there--even when that has not been helpful to the president.

Guessing at the causes of his darkening persona is a favorite Washington pastime. A widely held theory is that Cheney, 65, was affected by heart surgery (he has had four heart attacks, angioplasty, a quadruple bypass and a pacemaker). It is true that heart patients sometimes undergo mood or even personality changes, but there is no solid evidence in Cheney's case.

A surer bet may be that he changed with his circumstances. As President Gerald Ford's young (age 34) chief of staff, as a six-term congressman and then as secretary of Defense in the Bush 41 administration, Cheney was surrounded by, and required to work with, moderate Republicans. Though his own politics were very conservative, there was always someone around like former Reagan chief of staff and Bush secretary of State James A. Baker to rein him in.

Then, in 1995, Cheney became CEO of Halliburton Co., the giant military contractor. He entered the exclusive preserve of very rich men who could, by and large, get their way. The new role suited Cheney. He began going on frequent hunting trips, partaking of a sport he had enjoyed since youth. (His partners in recent years have included various tycoons and sports heroes including oilman T. Boone Pickens and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach.) He flew around on corporate jets; aides and retainers attended to his whims. His political ties were to True Believer conservatives--especially his wife, Lynne, a feisty ideologue and, by most reports, a bit of a diva, though an engaging one.

The VIP world inhabited by Cheney is perfectly symbolized by the Armstrong Ranch, where the hunting accident occurred. More than 50,000 acres of rolling country, the ranch is "Gosford Park" with a twang--not quite as gilded or as pampered as an English country house on a shooting --weekend between the wars, but just as private and entitled in an understated, elegant way. Quail hunting is an elaborate ritual on the great Texas ranches, performed with outriding guides to find the birds and trained dogs to flush and point and fetch. There are servants and cocktails and barbecues and not a reporter for miles around. The ranch is as insular, in its own way, as the vice president's official bubble.
Cheney's shooting party was a cozy group of rich Republicans and Texas "squirearchy." The owner of the ranch is Anne Armstrong, a grande dame of the GOP, onetime ambassador to the Court of St. James and a former member of the Halliburton board that picked Cheney to be CEO. (She was also mentioned as a possible vice president for Gerald Ford.) Armstrong's daughter Katharine, strong-willed and lively (Laura Bush chose her to sit beside Prince Charles at a recent White House dinner), accompanied Cheney on the shoot and described the scene to NEWSWEEK:

It was late afternoon, and the hunters were ready to call it a day. Harry Whittington, a prominent Austin lawyer and big-time GOP donor, had bagged two birds with two shots. "Great shot, Harry, you got a double!" called out Katharine. While Whittington went off with his dog and his guides to find the dead birds, Cheney and Pam Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein and another major GOP donor, went ahead to look for another covey of birds. Cheney spotted a bird flying behind him, swung around with his Italian-made 28-gauge shotgun toward the setting sun and pulled the trigger. Whittington, wearing a regulation orange vest, was approaching out of a slight gully, some 30 yards away.

Armstrong, watching from an off-road vehicle about a hundred yards away, saw Whittington fall. A team of Secret Service --agents bolted out of the car and ran past her, one of them shouting an expletive. Gun in hand, Cheney rushed over to the fallen Whittington. Later, the vice president rode back with Armstrong. "You'd have to be an idiot not to see what the poor man was going through," recalled Armstrong. "It was very quiet. I remember leaning forward and squeezing him on the shoulder." At one point Cheney said, "I never saw him."

Back at Cheney's lodgings at the ranch--guest quarters called Uncle Tom's House--there was no discussion of a public statement. The White House was at first informed in surprisingly cryptic and cursory fashion--the Situation Room was told of an unspecified shooting accident in the vice president's hunting party. It took a phone call from presidential counselor Karl Rove to Katharine Armstrong ("Karl's one of my closest friends in life," she told NEWSWEEK) to sort out what had happened and report back to President Bush--that the vice president was the shooter and that Whittington had been wounded, though apparently not fatally. That night, according to a senior White House official who refused to be identified discussing a sensitive matter, Cheney did not speak to either Bush or the White House staff or his own press people. He did speak with David Addington, his chief of staff and former lawyer who is a strong proponent of executive power and secrecy.

Cheney's aides would later say that he wanted to be absolutely sure of the facts before going public, and Whittington's condition remained a little uncertain. At first, the wounds were deemed to be minor, but on Sunday morning the hospital was reporting that some of the tiny birdshot had penetrated his body in potentially dangerous ways. In Washington, White House staffers were quietly urging Cheney's staff to somehow go public with the shooting. But Bush never picked up the phone to call Cheney, either to console or to offer counsel.

Shortly after 8 a.m., a local deputy sheriff arrived at the ranch to take a statement from Cheney. By then, it was clear the story could not be contained. Cheney and Katharine Armstrong talked about how to get the story out. "What do you want me to do?" Armstrong asked. "What do you feel comfortable doing?" Cheney replied. Armstrong knew a reporter at the local paper, Jaime Powell of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Powell understood hunting and had written a sensitive and favorable obituary of her father the year before. Frantically leaving messages ("Jaime, I need you immediately"), Armstrong couldn't find Powell on her cell phone, and it was nearly 2 p.m., after much back and forth between Armstrong and the paper, that the Corpus Christi Caller-Times finally put up a short story on its Web site.

Vice president shoots man, as some news services announced the story Sunday afternoon, was a headline guaranteed to create a press frenzy. Armstrong --proved to be a less-than-ideal spokesperson for Cheney. She appeared to blame Whittington for the accident, noting that he had failed to announce himself as he approached Cheney from behind. (Most hunters squarely put the responsibility on the man with the gun.) She said there had been "no, zero, zippo" drinking at lunch, whereas, as Cheney later acknowledged, he had drunk a beer.

Cheney has long had a chilly relationship with the press. Some of his advisers say he is merely indifferent to reporters, while his wife and daughters are more aggressively hostile. But in any case, journalists are usually left guessing at his whereabouts and activities, and the vice president seems to take a certain pleasure in keeping it that way. NEWSWEEK once accompanied Cheney on a trip to upstate New York, where he met with several Marines just returning from Iraq. After about 30 seconds, Cheney asked his handlers to "kick the press out." Eying the departing reporters, he offered his slightly lopsided grin and announced, "It always makes my day."

Cheney's chief press adviser through a series of press secretaries and communications directors has been Mary Matalin, longtime GOP politico, wife of fellow media celebrity James Carville, and now a private consultant. If anything, Matalin reinforces the Cheney family's disdain for the Fourth Estate (Matalin did not return several phone calls from NEWSWEEK).

Matalin is about the only one who could even try to persuade Cheney to talk. His official staff is a little afraid of him. NEWSWEEK once asked his press secretary (there have been seven of them since he became vice president) if Cheney went to church on Sundays. The spokesperson confessed she really couldn't ask the veep; the question was just "too personal."

By Monday, Matalin was toying with some kind of public statement by Cheney, but then on Tuesday Whittington's condition took a slight turn for the worse--a birdshot pellet was inflaming some tissue near his heart. On Tuesday the vice president remained silent. White House aides were becoming increasingly restive, anxiously joking that if Cheney were more of an ambitious veep, like Al Gore, he would be crying on "Oprah."

The president had met with Cheney privately on Monday morning at the White House before the daily intelligence briefing. According to a White House aide speaking, as usual, anonymously, Bush listened closely and watched Cheney's body language to see how emotional the accident had been for someone not given to public displays of feeling. "The president wanted to give him some room to handle this," the senior aide said. "The president could visibly tell this was weighing heavily on him and he felt, in his judgment, that he should not push him too hard."

Finally, on Wednesday, as the press continued to fulminate and the late-night comics had their fun, Cheney decided--apparently on his own initiative--to go public. A press conference was out of the question; it would have turned into a circus, Matalin told radio host Don Imus. Fox News's Brit Hume was chosen as a friendly but also serious and credible interrogator, which he was.

Cheney told Hume that hunting has "brought me great pleasure over the years," but that "the season is ending, and I'm going to let some time pass over it and think about the future." Cheney's hunting friends, who describe him as a crack shot (the veep has downed as many as 70 pheasants in a single day) as well as a by-the-book and safety-conscious hunter, don't believe he will permanently lay his gun down. "You have to learn from these things, and that's the kind of hunter he is," says Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, a close friend. "He'll be back. He'll be out there as soon as he can. It's in his blood."

Cheney is accustomed to being feared and even loathed; still, to be an object of ridicule cannot be easy. Last week Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, the former majority leader who was pushed out by the White House in 2002, told The Washington Post that he had greeted the vice president, who had gone to Capitol Hill to meet with some lawmakers, as the "Shooter-in-Chief." Cheney, Lott reported, did not seem amused.
Cheney may simply accept that his lot is to be vilified--and that history can be his only redeemer. In the late fall of 2002, as the Bush administration was readying for the invasion of Iraq, Victor Davis Hanson, an agrarian classicist whose writings about the 9/11 attacks, primarily in the National Review online, had attracted Cheney's attention, was invited to dine at the vice president's mansion. Hanson found Cheney to be intellectually curious, well read, and not at all zealous. "He had no illusions about going to war with Iraq," Hanson said. "It was to him a least bad choice." Over dinner, Hanson recalled, "we talked about Lincoln, about leaders who had gone through hell. I had a vague feeling of tragedy," Hanson said, then corrected himself: "Tragedy is the wrong word. There was a sort of resignation. I think he understands that the vilification of the moment is not the final word."

Others close to Cheney had suggested that he was profoundly affected by 9/11. It is hard for anyone who was not in Cheney's shoes that day, and in the weeks and months that followed, to appreciate the stress and uncertainty of that time. Around 9:35 on the morning of 9/11, Cheney was lifted off his feet by the Secret Service and hustled into the White House bunker. Cheney testified to the 9/11 Commission that he spoke with President Bush before giving an order to shoot down a hijacked civilian airliner that appeared headed toward Washington. (The plane was United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a brave revolt by the passengers.) But a source close to the commission, who declined to be identified revealing sensitive information, says that none of the staffers who worked on this aspect of the investigation believed Cheney's version of events.

A draft of the report conveyed their skepticism. But when top White House officials, including chief of staff Andy Card and the then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, reviewed the draft, they became extremely agitated. After a prolonged battle, the report was toned down. The factual narrative, closely read, offers no evidence that Cheney sought initial authorization from the president. The point is not a small one. Legally, Cheney was required to get permission from his commander in chief, who was traveling (but reachable) at the time. If --the public ever found out that Cheney gave the order on his own, it would have strongly fed the view that he was the real power behind the throne.

Cheney spent much of his time after 9/11 in his "undisclosed location." The threat seemed terribly real. Cheney spent a great deal of time working on a "decapitation plan"--i.e., shaping a fill-in government in a horrific event in which he and the president and other top leaders were taken out by a terrorist chem-bio or nuclear attack. After the suspected anthrax attack, a gallows humor permeated the veep's office. Watching Cheney load his hunting guns into his car as he prepared to leave the mansion on a trip that fall, an aide cracked, "I hope it's not that bad."

Actually, Cheney was getting in plenty of hunting--in upstate New York, South Dakota, southern Georgia and Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Cheney unquestionably exerted enormous influence on Bush in those early days. But Bush's aides say that the president has become less dependent on Cheney for advice, particularly in foreign affairs. The two men still have private lunches, but no longer every week. There are signs now that Bush listens to more-moderate voices on national security. On a range of foreign-policy crises, from Iran to North Korea, Cheney's forward-leaning posture has given way to the mainstream, multilateralist approach advocated now by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

It was possible to dimly discern Cheney's shakier footing last week in the ongoing dispute with Capitol Hill over warrant-less eavesdropping. Uneasy about the administration's disregard for the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court warrants to eavesdrop on communications into the United States, three Republicans on the Senate intelligence committee were agitating for greater oversight. Cheney, who has been the most aggressive defender of the administration's power to wage war (including spying) without congressional approval, went up to the Hill to quell the rebellion. For several hours on Tuesday, he met behind closed doors in the intelligence committee's secret hearing room with the senators. Two days later intelligence committee chairman Pat Roberts, a staunch Bush ally, was able to put off a vote on whether to open an investigation.

It appeared that Cheney, though pale and obviously distressed by his hunting accident, was still capable of quietly exerting influence. But then Roberts began showing some restlessness. He began suggesting that perhaps the wiretapping program should be brought under FISA after all. His remarks came after the White House seemed to soften a little and suggest that it would be willing to disclose more information about the program and talk to senators about changing the law. Suddenly, Cheney no longer seemed so all-powerful, so sure of getting his way.

September 17th, 2001 - From John Farmer's "The Ground Truth"

“Like the FAA’s September 18 document, NORAD’s press release of the same date lists “N/A” as the notification time for the United 93 hijacking. The NORAD release explains that United 93 was discussed on an “open line” between FAA and DoD, then states:

Fighter scramble order (Langley F-16s already airborne for AA Flt 77) Fighters airborne (Langley F-16 CAP remains in place to protect DC).
Thus, the government emerged a day after the White House briefing with a unified account of the actions of the FAA and the military regarding the final two flights, American 77 and United 93. It was, moreover, an account that fit together nicely with the account provided publicly by Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz and Vice President Cheney.”


But it is impossible to conclude honestly, from the two Inspector General reports, that the official version of the events of 9/11 was the result of mere administrative incompetence; too many questions remain unanswered.”

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

Stephen C. Webster
08 Sep 2011 at 11:07 ET

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.

If I'm wrong...

Please explain to me how the Vice President falls into the Military Chain of Command. Thank you.


Is what Ruppert used to say that he was given authority, but I don't think it put him inside the military chain of command.

"Most of the top 10 people in the president’s line of succession, including Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, either refused to follow the protocol and go to their designated secure sites, or were out of the country, or were never contacted."

Here's an article from Peter Dale Scott from September 2016 that talks about COG on 9/11.

“Cheney and Rumsfeld were, in a sense, a part of the permanent hidden national-security apparatus of the United States (This is Jon, does COG put the VP in the military chain of command?)—inhabitants of a world in which Presidents come and go, but America keeps on fighting.”


“Within hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Dick Cheney in effect took command of the national security operations of the federal government. Quickly and instinctively, he began to act in response to two longstanding beliefs: that the great dangers facing the United States justified almost any response, whether or not legal; and that the presidency needed vastly to enhance its authority, which had been unjustifiably and dangerously weakened in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate years.

James Mann has argued that COG implementation was the “hidden backdrop” to Cheney’s actions on 9/11, when he “urged President Bush to stay out of Washington,” and later removed himself to more than one “’undisclosed location’”.

Does "hidden backdrop" refer to Cheney being a part of the military chain of command?

It appears on available

It appears on available paper, that Cheney was NOT part of the military chain of command, and therefore had no authority on 9/11.

However, as I posted...

"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 (emphasis mine); and information on America’s overseas intelligence-gathering on al Qaeda."

COG may have, but we don't definitively know.

On Facebook...

I posted the following...

Richard Clarke, since you were involved with Continuity of Government Exercises, could you please give us some insight on what additional powers, if any, Cheney may have gotten as a result of COG? It would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you.

HOPEFULLY he will respond to me.

Edit: He has not responded to two different inquiries about this from me.

One thought, if COG gave

One thought, if COG gave Cheney authority or powers he didn't have before, then the question about his authority or powers wouldn't even be an issue, would it? You would THINK those working the investigation would have some familiarity with COG and how it functions.

"Oh, COG was activated? That means Cheney was allowed to do such and such based on the documentation." Something like that would be said I would think.

To put it another way, if Continuity of Government (COG) gave Cheney additional powers, the question of his authority would never even have come up. All someone would have to do is say "Continuity of Government was activated, and that gave Cheney the authorization to..." Instead, questions about his authority on 9/11 DO EXIST and NEED to be addressed.