The Apathy and Inaction of Vice President Dick Cheney During the 9/11 Attacks

30 a.m. on September 11

Dick Cheney, as vice president of the United States, had an important role to play when America came under terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and yet he appears to have taken no significant action until the attacks were over. He did nothing to initiate or implement a government response to the crisis until it was too late for his actions to make a difference to the outcome of the attacks.

Cheney, who was at the White House on the morning of September 11, was alerted to the first crash at the World Trade Center shortly after 8:46 a.m., when it occurred. He followed the coverage of the incident on television and saw the second hijacked plane crashing into the Trade Center at 9:03 a.m.

And yet, even though he realized then that the U.S. was under attack, he had no serious discussions with other officials about how to respond and failed to issue any significant orders. By the time Secret Service agents came and evacuated him from his office, more than half an hour later, practically all he had done was watch "developments on the television" and start to "get organized to figure out what to do," according to his own recollections.

The vice president did eventually act with the kind of urgency and decisiveness we might reasonably have expected from him. For example, he authorized American fighter jets to shoot down aircraft that were believed to have been hijacked, so as to prevent terrorists from crashing them into targets on the ground. He was also involved in getting congressional leaders and some cabinet members evacuated to a secure facility outside Washington, DC, and helped Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta track aircraft after all planes in U.S. airspace were ordered to land. But by the time he started taking this more active role, the fourth and final plane to be hijacked that day had reportedly crashed in rural Pennsylvania and so the attacks were over.

CHENEY AUTHORIZED THE MILITARY TO SHOOT DOWN SUSPICIOUS PLANES
Perhaps Cheney's most significant action on the morning of September 11 was arranging "rules of engagement" for fighter pilots, authorizing them to shoot down hostile aircraft. It was clearly important for the military to be given this authority, since shooting down a hijacked aircraft might have been the only way to stop the hijackers crashing it into a target on the ground and killing perhaps hundreds of people in addition to the plane's passengers.

Although shootdown authorization needed to be issued by the president, Cheney's involvement with giving it appears to have come about because President George W. Bush was away from Washington when the attacks occurred and so Cheney was the most senior official at the White House.

Arranging for the military to have this authorization presumably ought to have taken place as early as possible. At the latest, efforts should surely have begun at 9:03 a.m., when the second hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center and it became clear that America was under attack. And yet Cheney only told the military it was authorized to shoot down hijacked aircraft shortly before 10:15 a.m. and got the president to retroactively give his approval for this authorization in a phone call at 10:18 a.m. In two earlier calls between Bush and Cheney, the subject of shootdown authorization was never discussed. The military therefore only received authorization to shoot down hostile aircraft after the attacks ended.

Another significant action Cheney was involved with was getting those in the presidential line of succession--officials who might have had to take over as president if Bush was killed or incapacitated--to a secure location outside Washington in line with the "continuity of government" (COG) plan, which was intended to maintain a functioning government in the event of a catastrophic emergency.

Cheney claimed this task was one of his priorities on September 11. And yet he took no action to get those in the presidential line of succession to a secure location after he saw the second hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center on television, even though it was then clear that a catastrophic emergency was taking place. The order to activate COG was given by Richard Clarke, the White House counterterrorism chief, without any prompting from the vice president and Cheney only started implementing the plan at some point more than an hour after the second crash occurred.

CHENEY WAS THE TOP OFFICIAL AT THE WHITE HOUSE ON SEPTEMBER 11
The need for Cheney to respond immediately and decisively to the crashes at the World Trade Center was surely increased because the president was away from Washington, visiting a school in Florida, when America came under attack. Cheney was consequently the most senior official at the White House and presumably might have needed to carry out some of the president's duties if Bush was unable to adequately respond to the crisis due to being so far away.

Cheney also ought to have taken prompt action to reduce the risk of his coming to harm since, if he had been killed or injured, there may have been no one immediately available to carry out the duties of the vice president. And yet, even though the White House, as the home of the U.S. president, was an obvious target for terrorists, he was content to stay in his office there after he saw the second crash on television. He only went to a safer location shortly after 9:35 a.m.--at least 50 minutes after the first crash at the World Trade Center--when his Secret Service agents forcefully removed him from his office.

Cheney's failure to adequately respond to the 9/11 attacks until they ended is suspicious and needs to be explained. It is difficult to attribute his behavior to incompetence, since he had years of experience working in government. Significantly, he was secretary of defense from 1989 to 1993. This experience should have helped him understand the need for prompt action on September 11, when the U.S. military had to organize a response to protect the nation.

A possible explanation that, though disturbing, needs to be considered is that Cheney was involved in planning the attacks and wanted them to succeed. If this was the case, his initial inaction, although treasonous, was quite logical. By doing nothing significant while the attacks were underway, he avoided doing anything that might reduce the likelihood of them being carried out successfully.

CHENEY HAD MEETINGS BEFORE THE ATTACKS OCCURRED
September 11, 2001, began like a typical day for Dick Cheney. Shortly before 7:00 a.m., he received his regular CIA briefing. That day's briefing was "unremarkable," according to journalist and author Stephen Hayes. He left the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington at 7:44 a.m. and was driven to the White House, arriving there 13 minutes later. He then went to his office in the West Wing, where he met briefly with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his chief of staff. [1]

Shortly before 8:30 a.m., Sean O'Keefe stopped by for an unscheduled meeting. [2] O'Keefe, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, had been a close confidant of Cheney's when Cheney was secretary of defense. [3] Although Cheney had another meeting scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and colleagues were usually expected to keep any informal meetings with him brief, O'Keefe stayed with him for over 20 minutes. Curiously, neither man has been able to recall what they talked about during the meeting.

Cheney was scheduled to meet John McConnell, his chief speechwriter, at 8:30 a.m. to discuss a series of upcoming speeches, but McConnell waited patiently outside Cheney's office until O'Keefe left there. While he was waiting, he saw a report about the first crash at the World Trade Center--when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 was flown into the North Tower--on television. (This was presumably at around 8:49 a.m., when CNN became the first network to report the incident that occurred three minutes earlier.)

He had been chatting with the Secret Service agent at the door to Cheney's office and the agent, after receiving a call from his intelligence division, told him the plane that hit the Trade Center was a passenger jet. McConnell finally went into Cheney's office shortly before 9:00 a.m. for his meeting with the vice president. [4]

Cheney learned of the crash shortly after or possibly shortly before McConnell came in. His secretary, Debbie Heiden, called and let him know what had happened. [5] It apparently did not occur to him that the crash might have been a terrorist attack. "How the hell could a plane hit the World Trade Center?" he wondered, since it was "a clear day" and there was "no weather problem." [6]

Cheney and McConnell watched the coverage of the incident on television and saw the second crash--when United Airlines Flight 175 was flown into the South Tower--at 9:03 a.m. [7] Cheney realized then that this was terrorism. "At that moment, you knew this was [a] deliberate act, that it was a terrorist act," he recalled. [8]

He promptly called Scooter Libby and summoned him to his office. [9] He went across the hallway to the office of Andrew Card, Bush's chief of staff, who was with the president in Florida, and told Card's secretary that he wanted to talk with Card or the president as soon as this could be arranged. [10]

He picked up a phone in his office with a direct line to Bush's mobile communications team in Florida and told the person who answered, "I need to talk to the president." And he received a call around this time from his eldest daughter, Liz Cheney. She had heard that a plane hit the World Trade Center on her car radio and wanted to alert her father to the incident. After she told him about it, he replied: "Two planes have hit. It's a terrorist attack." He then abruptly ended the call, saying, "I've got to go." [11]

COLLEAGUES WENT TO CHENEY'S OFFICE
A number of Cheney's colleagues promptly went to the vice president's office after they learned of the crashes in New York. Apparently one of the first to arrive was National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. [12]

Richard Clarke then arrived. He told the vice president: "It's an al-Qaeda attack and they like simultaneous attacks. This may not be over." He told Rice that he and his colleagues were "putting together a secure teleconference to manage the crisis." He added that he would "like to get the highest-ranking official from each department" on the teleconference and Cheney told him, "Do it." Clarke then left and headed to the White House Situation Room. [13]

Doug Cochrane, naval aide to the vice president, also arrived at Cheney's office around this time. After he learned of the first crash at the World Trade Center, Cochrane went to the Situation Room, hoping to learn more about the incident. There, he recalled, he was told that Cheney got cut off while he was on the phone with the president. (However, no other accounts have described Cheney talking to Bush around the time Cochrane's account suggests.) Cochrane therefore headed to Cheney's office carrying a piece of paper with a phone number the Situation Room had for the president on it.

When he reached the office, he found Cheney with Rice. Cheney looked up and acknowledged him. It is unclear whether the two men spoke. When he was interviewed by the 9/11 Commission, Cochrane simply recalled seeing Cheney answering a call from Bush and saying, "Yes, Mr. President" when he picked up the phone. Cochrane then closed the door to Cheney's office and headed back to the Situation Room. [14]

Other officials subsequently came to Cheney's office. These included Scooter Libby; Mary Matalin, the vice president's closest aide; Josh Bolten, the deputy White House chief of staff; Brian McCormack, Cheney's personal aide; and possibly Sean O'Keefe. [15]

Cheney instructed Libby to go to the Situation Room since, Libby recalled, "because the president was away, we had the responsibility for sort of organizing things and he wanted to make sure that he was well connected." [16] While Cheney was waiting for Bush to call him, he told his colleagues, "The cabinet is going to need direction" and he then "set about providing it," according to journalist and author Barton Gellman. However, Gellman gave no details of what this supposed "direction" involved. [17]

John McConnell initially stayed in Cheney's office when the officials arrived but decided to leave after a short time and returned to his own office before heading out of the building along with dozens of staffers. [18]

CHENEY TALKED TO THE PRESIDENT AT 9:15 A.M.
Cheney talked with President Bush for the first time following the crashes at the World Trade Center at 9:15 a.m. Bush was almost a thousand miles away from Washington that morning, visiting the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. He called Cheney after leaving a reading demonstration he had been participating in and talked with him for two minutes. [19]

The two men assessed the situation and agreed that terrorists were probably behind the attacks. They also discussed what the president would say in the public statement he was going to deliver. [20]

What Cheney did in the 18 minutes following the call are unclear. Evidence indicates he may have done very little. Along with the other people in his office, he watched Bush giving his statement from the Booker Elementary School on television, at 9:30 a.m. [21] But by 9:35 a.m., he recalled, all he had been doing since speaking to the president was "watching developments on the television" and starting "to get organized to figure out what to do." [22] Then, shortly after 9:35 a.m., the Secret Service agents responsible for protecting him came and abruptly removed him from his office. [23]

ARMED SECRET SERVICE AGENTS EVACUATED CHENEY
The Secret Service had been contacted at around 9:33 a.m. by an air traffic controller who reported that an unidentified aircraft was flying toward the White House at high speed. The controller then reported that the aircraft had changed course, but when they subsequently said it was beginning to circle back, the Secret Service decided to evacuate the vice president from his office immediately. [24]

The news about the suspicious aircraft was passed on to members of the vice presidential protective division in the West Wing. They heard a message over their radios from the Secret Service's Joint Operations Center, stating, "Unidentified aircraft coming toward the White House." Right away, they went into Cheney's office to move the vice president to a secure location. [25]

Four or five agents carrying submachine guns went in and one of them, Special Agent James Scott, told the vice president, "Sir, we need to move you--now." [26] The agents grabbed Cheney and took him to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a secure bunker below the East Wing of the White House. [27]

Scott put his hand on Cheney's shoulder, grabbed the back of his belt, and propelled him out the door. [28] Then, Cheney recalled, the agents "moved me very rapidly down the hallway, down some stairs, through some doors, and down some more stairs." [29] Cheney's colleagues who had come to see the vice president were left behind in the office. [30]

The exact time when the evacuation occurred is unclear. It took place at 9:36 a.m. according to one Secret Service chronology and Cheney said that, according to the Secret Service, he left his office at "around 9:35 a.m. or 9:36 a.m." [31] A photograph taken that morning indicates the evacuation must have occurred at 9:36 a.m. at the earliest. It shows Cheney in his office with the television set visible and the time shown by the television network in the corner of the screen appears to be 9:36 a.m. [32]

CHENEY CALLED BUSH FROM AN UNDERGROUND TUNNEL
At the bottom of the stairs, on the way to the PEOC, Scott stopped and gave out additional firearms, gas masks, and flashlights to the other Secret Service agents. He explained to Cheney that the reason for the evacuation was that he had heard over his radio that an unidentified aircraft was flying toward the White House. He then received new information over his radio, which he passed on to Cheney. "Sir, the plane headed for us just hit the Pentagon," he said. "Now I knew for certain that Washington as well as New York was under attack," Cheney has commented. [33]

The vice president entered a short tunnel that led to the PEOC about a minute after he was removed from his office. He stopped in an area of it where there was a television, a bench to sit on, and a secure phone, and said he wanted to speak to the president. However, operators had trouble connecting him to Bush, who by then had left the Booker Elementary School and was preparing to leave Sarasota on Air Force One. Cheney therefore only reached the president at around 9:45 a.m. [34]

Cheney has recalled that he told Bush the Pentagon had been hit and the White House was a target in the call. [35] He also "strongly urged [the president] not to return to Washington right away" and advised him to "delay his return until we could find out what the hell was going on." [36]

Cheney's wife, Lynne Cheney, who had been brought to the White House by her Secret Service detail, joined her husband in the tunnel while he was making the call. [37] As well as telling Bush that a plane had hit the Pentagon, she heard him say three planes were missing. [38] Scooter Libby, who was accompanying her, recalled that the vice president "was communicating ... in a very efficient manner the status of the situation" to the president. [39]

Bush told Cheney he had heard about the attack on the Pentagon and commented, "Sounds like we have a minor war going on here." [40] He also told Cheney to call the congressional leadership and give them a briefing. [41]

Lynne Cheney noted that her husband was still on the phone with the president at 9:55 a.m., indicating the call lasted at least 10 minutes. [42] However, accounts of it have made no mention of the president and vice president making any decisions about how to respond to the attacks or discussing orders they could issue during their conversation.

CHENEY ENTERED THE PEOC JUST BEFORE 10:00 A.M.
While Cheney was on the phone with Bush, he was joined in the tunnel by other officials, including Condoleezza Rice and Doug Cochrane. [43] After the call ended, he was escorted into the PEOC along with the other people who were now with him. [44]

The group passed through a small communications studio and entered a conference room. [45] There was a table in the middle of this room that was long enough to accommodate 16 people and had several secure phones located around it. There was also a row of chairs along the wall for support staff, large television screens on the walls, and cameras for video conferencing. [46]

Cheney and his entourage entered the PEOC "shortly before 10:00, perhaps at 9:58," according to the 9/11 Commission Report. [47] Once inside the conference room, Cheney took his place at the center of the table. [48] Then, he recalled, he "plugged in" and started "working the phones and working the problem." [49] He subsequently "took briefings, conferred with Scooter Libby in a voice too low for anyone else to hear, then got on the phone with heads of agencies," according to Barton Gellman. [50]

Cheney's "number one priority" after he entered the PEOC, according to Cochrane, was to be provided with "accurate, brief, and credible information that he could pass to the president, to enable the president to make good decisions." [51] Cheney told the other people in the PEOC that their task was "to assimilate information for the president." [52]

He also helped Norman Mineta and Condoleezza Rice track the tail numbers of aircraft while planes were being brought down, since all aircraft in U.S. airspace were being instructed to land at the nearest airport. [53] While Mineta called out tail numbers, he kept track of how many planes were still in the air. [54] He regarded this task as one of his priorities, since, he said, getting planes out of the air meant "we could sort out which [aircraft] had been hijacked." [55]

MILITARY NEEDED AUTHORIZATION TO SHOOT DOWN HOSTILE AIRCRAFT
Probably the most important things Cheney did after he entered the PEOC were his actions that dealt with authorizing the military to shoot down aircraft that were believed to have been hijacked.

Reportedly, the president was the only person permitted to authorize the shooting down of a civilian aircraft. Larry Arnold, the commanding general of the North American Aerospace Defense Command's Continental U.S. Region on September 11, agreed that "only the president had the authority to order a shootdown of a commercial aircraft." [56] Major General Paul Weaver, the director of the Air National Guard at that time, similarly stated that "only the president could give the order for a U.S. fighter to shoot down a commercial airliner filled with American travelers." [57] And Cheney described shootdown authorization as "a presidential-level decision." [58]

The 9/11 Commission Report stated, "Prior to 9/11, it was understood that an order to shoot down a commercial aircraft would have to be issued by the National Command Authority (a phrase used to describe the president and secretary of defense)." [59] The vice president was not in the chain of command and Cheney knew this. In 1989, when he was secretary of defense, he told then Vice President Dan Quayle that "the vice president had no lawful place in the chain of command." [60]

However, Cheney understood the importance of authorizing fighters to shoot down a hostile aircraft from his experience as secretary of defense. "When you deploy force, you've got to give [the military] rules of engagement; that's something you learn as defense secretary," he has commented. "Without authorization to shoot," he added, a combat air patrol is "not much of a combat air patrol." [61]

In light of the nature of the 9/11 attacks, with aircraft being crashed into targets in order to cause mass casualties, it was surely essential that the military be given authorization to shoot down hostile aircraft as soon as possible. Although the passengers would be killed if a fighter shot down a commercial plane, countless additional deaths would result if the plane was allowed to crash into another skyscraper or a large government building, such as the Capitol. Shooting the plane down would at least save the lives of people on the ground.

Bush and Cheney have made clear that they understood on September 11 the necessity of giving the military shootdown authorization. In an account of the events of that day, Bush wrote: "Hijacked planes were weapons of war. Despite the agonizing costs, taking one out could save countless lives on the ground." [62] And Cheney noted that authorizing the military to shoot down a civilian airliner was essential because, "once a plane was hijacked, it was a weapon in the hands of the enemy." [63]

And yet Cheney made no attempt to arrange for the military to be given this authorization after he saw the second crash at the World Trade Center on television and realized America was under attack. Evidence indicates that he only discussed rules of engagement for fighter pilots with Bush and arranged for the president to authorize the military to shoot down civilian aircraft in a phone call well over an hour later. By that time, there were no more hostile aircraft in the sky and so it was too late for the two men's actions to make a difference to the outcome of the attacks.

Bush only issued shootdown authorization for fighter pilots at 10:18 a.m., according to the 9/11 Commission Report, 15 minutes after United Airlines Flight 93--the final plane to be hijacked that day--reportedly crashed. And yet he and Cheney talked on the phone about the attacks at least twice before then--at 9:15 a.m. and around 9:45 a.m. [64]

Cheney could have advised Bush to issue shootdown authorization during either of these calls and surely should have. Journalist and author Mitchell Zuckoff pointed out the significance of his failure to do so. According to the official account of 9/11, Zuckoff noted, "No one outside al-Qaeda knew how many more planes and targets might be part of the terrorists' plot." But at the time the president and vice president's second call ended, shortly before 10:00 a.m., "If there were more [hijacked] planes, Bush and Cheney had yet to discuss how far the military should go to stop them." [65]

CHENEY AND BUSH CLAIMED THEY DISCUSSED SHOOTDOWN AUTHORIZATION AT AROUND 10:00 A.M.
While they failed to discuss rules of engagement for fighter pilots during their first two calls, Cheney and Bush have claimed they addressed the issue during a call that took place significantly earlier than the call in which the 9/11 Commission Report stated that the president gave shootdown authorization.

Cheney described this alleged call, stating: "I said [to Bush], 'We've got to give the pilots rules of engagement and I recommend we authorize them to shoot.' We talked about it briefly and he said, 'Okay, I'll sign up to that.'" [66]

He indicated that this conversation took place at around 10:00 a.m. He told the 9/11 Commission that he "remembered placing a call to the president just after entering the shelter conference room" to discuss "the rules of engagement" for the combat air patrol that the Air Force was trying to establish over Washington. [67]

Bush also indicated that the call in which he gave shootdown authorization occurred at around 10:00 a.m., although he claimed that he called Cheney, rather than Cheney calling him. He made the call, he wrote, "as Air Force One climbed rapidly to 45,000 feet" after taking off from the Sarasota airport. (His plane took off at 9:55 a.m.) "We needed to clarify the rules of engagement," he recalled, and so he told Cheney "that our pilots should contact suspicious planes and try to get them to land peacefully. If that failed, they had my authority to shoot them down." [68]

Although this call was allegedly made almost an hour after the second attack on the World Trade Center, if it occurred this would at least mean the president issued shootdown authorization while the attacks were still underway, before Flight 93 reportedly crashed. However, when the 9/11 Commission examined the relevant evidence, some of its staffers concluded that the call never took place. [69]

Barton Gellman and another journalist and author, Philip Shenon, have summarized this evidence. Gellman noted that at the time the call supposedly occurred, Bush and Cheney "were among the most thoroughly monitored people on earth." Shenon noted that every phone call involving Bush and his senior staff on September 11 was logged, and a detailed summary was made of what was said.

The White House secure switchboard logged communications to and from Air Force One, and seven other sets of official records tracked the calls between Bush and Cheney. Furthermore, several people in the PEOC made detailed notes about everything that happened in the PEOC, which included descriptions of what they overheard of Cheney's phone conversations. [70]

If a call had been made at around 10:00 a.m. in which the president and the vice president discussed shootdown authorization, at least one document should have mentioned it. However, the 9/11 Commission found, there was "no documentary evidence for this call." [71] This was despite the fact that the relevant records appeared to be complete. There was "no other alleged gap in the president's telephone records" for September 11, Gellman pointed out. [72]

CHENEY GAVE SHOOTDOWN AUTHORIZATION WITHOUT THE PRESIDENT'S APPROVAL
While Bush therefore appears to have issued shootdown authorization at 10:18 a.m., not 10:00 a.m., Cheney told a military officer in the PEOC that fighters could shoot down suspicious aircraft a few minutes before then, without the president's prior authorization.

Captain Anthony Barnes, the senior military officer on duty in the PEOC, received a call from a general who, Barnes recalled, wanted "permission to engage confirmed terrorists on board commercial airplanes." At around 10:10 a.m. or shortly after, in response to this request, Barnes went into the PEOC conference room and told the people there an inbound aircraft that was presumably hijacked was 80 miles away. He asked Cheney for the authority to engage the aircraft and Cheney immediately gave his authorization.

A short time later, Barnes reported that the aircraft was 60 miles out and once more asked Cheney for permission to engage it. Again, Cheney gave his authorization. Barnes then went back to the phone and told the general who had called him, "The vice president has authorized you to engage confirmed terrorist[s] aboard commercial aircraft." [73]

Others in the military were promptly informed about what Cheney had said. His authorization was relayed over an air threat conference call convened by the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon. At 10:14 a.m., a military officer in the PEOC told those on the conference call, "The vice president has just confirmed: fighters are cleared to engage the aircraft inbound if we can verify that it is, in fact, the hijacked aircraft." Five minutes later, the officer repeated the information, saying, "The vice president has cleared fighter aircraft to engage any aircraft inbound to Washington, DC, area without authority." [74]

At 10:31 a.m., Cheney's authorization was relayed within the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)--the military organization responsible for monitoring and defending U.S. airspace. Larry Arnold instructed his staff to broadcast a message over a NORAD instant messaging system, stating, "Vice president has cleared us to intercept tracks of interest and shoot them down if they do not respond." [75]

It is worth noting that even though Cheney had apparently taken the initiative to go outside the chain of command and authorize the military to shoot down hostile aircraft without the prior approval of the president, his authorization was still only issued after the attacks ended. It therefore came too late to make a difference to the outcome of the crisis.

(As it turned out, shootdown authorization was unnecessary at the time the vice president issued it, since Barnes's reports of an approaching aircraft were incorrect. The 9/11 Commission Report suggested they related to Flight 93, even though this plane had already crashed. [76])

BUSH GAVE SHOOTDOWN AUTHORIZATION AFTER CHENEY ISSUED IT
As previously mentioned, the 9/11 Commission determined that Bush told Cheney that fighters were authorized to shoot down hostile aircraft at 10:18 a.m., several minutes after Cheney told the military they could do this.

In a "quiet moment" after Cheney gave his authorization, the 9/11 Commission Report described, Josh Bolten suggested to the vice president that he "get in touch with the president and confirm the engage order," since Bolten "had not heard any prior discussion on the subject with the president." In response to Bolten's suggestion, Cheney called Bush at 10:18 a.m. and spoke with him for two minutes. During the call, Bush gave his confirmation for the shootdown order. [77]

Bush then told those with him on Air Force One what he had just done. He "said that he had talked to the vice president ... and gave the authorization that [the] military could shoot down any planes not under control of their crews that were gearing critical targets," Karl Rove recalled. [78] White House press secretary Ari Fleischer wrote in the notes he was taking at the time that, at 10:20 a.m., Bush said he had just authorized the shooting down of aircraft, if necessary. [79]

Bush's report to his colleagues at 10:20 a.m., recorded in Fleischer's notes, was the earliest mention the 9/11 Commission found of the president giving shootdown authorization. [80] If the call at 10:18 a.m. was therefore when Bush told Cheney that fighters could shoot down hostile aircraft, it means Cheney only set about arranging rules of engagement for fighter pilots with the president an hour and a quarter after he learned of the second crash at the World Trade Center and realized America was under attack. Even then, he failed to do this on his own initiative and only acted because Bolten prompted him to.

CHENEY ONLY HELPED IMPLEMENT CONTINUITY OF GOVERNMENT AFTER THE ATTACKS ENDED
Cheney has stated that one of the things that was "uppermost" in his mind on September 11 was getting those in the presidential line of succession to secure locations in accordance with the U.S.'s continuity of government plan. [81] "One of my major concerns was to 'preserve the continuity of government,'" he wrote, adding, "In the event that an attack should take out both the president and vice president, it's crucial to make certain that potential successors are safe and secure." [82] And yet, evidence indicates, like arranging shootdown authorization, he only set about implementing COG after the attacks ended, by which time there was no longer any danger to those in the presidential line of succession.

The secret COG plan, which was formulated during the Cold War, was originally intended to ensure that the federal government would continue to function during and after a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. [83] It "designates which officials should be taken to the [PEOC] at the White House, which cabinet members should be taken to secure locations, and where to move congressional leaders," the Washington Post described. [84] The main goal of COG, according to Cheney, "was making certain we protected successors in the line of succession to the presidency, so that when the smoke settled, that you had somebody as president who had the authority and constitutional responsibilities to run the country." [85]

When COG is activated, "the leadership of our three branches of government--and those in the line of succession to the presidency--are ordered to each move to their individual, predetermined, hardened sites around the country," Lieutenant Colonel Robert Darling, who worked for the White House Military Office on September 11, wrote. "This better enables them to survive a nuclear attack, for example, or a man-made or natural catastrophic event and take on the responsibilities to maintain the federal government's operations," he added. [86]

Cheney had a better understanding than most of the COG plan, since he was a key figure in the program in the 1980s, when he participated in regular COG exercises. [87] And yet he apparently made no effort to activate COG on September 11 and he only helped implement the plan after he entered the PEOC.

COUNTERTERRORISM CHIEF ACTIVATED CONTINUITY OF GOVERNMENT
Richard Clarke was the man who reportedly activated COG on September 11 and, according to his recollections, he did this of his own initiative, without any prompting from Cheney. He activated COG after the coordinator for the plan joined him in the Situation Room. Clarke asked the coordinator, "How do I activate COG?" and he replied, "You tell me to do it." Clarke then gave the instruction, "Go."

He gave a message to a military officer in the PEOC to tell others in the PEOC that he was "instituting COG." He also told officials at the Pentagon over a video teleconference: "We are initiating COG. Please activate your alternate command centers and move staff to them immediately." [88]

Clarke apparently activated COG shortly before 9:59 a.m. since, around that time, Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, spoke to Colonel Michael Irwin, the director of operations for the White House Military Office, and, presumably in response to Clarke's instruction, requested implementation of the plan. [89]

Clarke has indicated that someone other than him--such as Cheney, perhaps--could have activated COG. "There was no paperwork that said who could push the button" and initiate the plan, he said. "The directives said that I was explicitly in charge of the procedures, but not explicitly that I could activate it," he added. [90]

And yet the only thing relating to COG that Cheney did while the attacks were taking place was urge Bush to delay returning to Washington. [91] When he spoke to the president at around 9:45 a.m., while he was in the tunnel leading to the PEOC, he advised Bush to delay his return to Washington because, he recalled, "What I was immediately thinking about was sort of continuity of government." [92] CNN described what was probably his line of thinking. It noted that COG protocols recommended "keeping the president and vice president in separate locations during times of significant terrorist threat." [93]

CHENEY HELPED IMPLEMENT CONTINUITY OF GOVERNMENT PROCEDURES AFTER ENTERING THE PEOC
While he apparently played no role in activating COG, Cheney did at least help implement the plan. He was involved in evacuating Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and later the rest of the congressional leadership to a secure facility outside Washington. He also ordered the evacuation of some members of the cabinet. [94]

In light of the valuable knowledge of COG he would have gained during his years as a key player in the program, Cheney should surely have set about arranging for the plan to be activated and then helped implement it as soon as possible after he saw the second crash at the World Trade Center on television and realized America was under attack. Robert Darling pointed out that, in line with the COG plan, "in a national crisis such as 9/11, it's essential to track and know exactly where each leader is at all times." [95]

And yet, despite claiming that preserving the continuity of government was one of his "major concerns" on September 11, Cheney only set about implementing the COG plan after the attacks ended. [96] Certainly, no accounts have described him taking any actions to implement it before he entered the PEOC. By the time he talked to Hastert, who was second in the line of presidential succession, and told him, "I want you to go to a secure location," Hastert had already been evacuated by his security detail to Andrews Air Force Base, about 12 miles outside Washington, from where he was going to be flown to this "secure location." [97]

CHENEY WAS A UNIQUELY POWERFUL VICE PRESIDENT
Dick Cheney's actions on September 11 require close scrutiny because Cheney was a key member of the administration and had specific responsibilities. The vice president is the second highest executive officer of the United States government, after the president. The "executive functions" of the vice president include participation in cabinet meetings and membership of the National Security Council. [98] The primary responsibility of the vice president, though, is to be ready to immediately assume the presidency if the existing president becomes unable to perform his duties due to death, resignation, or temporary incapacitation. [99]

While for much of U.S. history vice presidents held little power, over recent decades they have been integral members of an administration, functioning more like an assistant president. They have had increased privileges, which include having their own office in the West Wing of the White House, having full access to intelligence briefings, serving as a presidential adviser, and having regular meetings and a weekly private lunch with the president. [100]

The duties of the vice president, beyond those laid out in the Constitution, are in fact at the discretion of the president in office. [101] And the nature of the job of vice president has been influenced by the personality and skills of the person occupying the post. [102]

Cheney's tenure as vice president, between 2001 and 2009, represented the apex of U.S. vice presidential power, according to many foreign policy experts. [103] Cheney redefined the post by taking on more of the day-to-day managerial responsibilities of the presidency. [104] He also had significant influence over the George W. Bush administration's national security policies. [105]

Cheney was in a particularly important position on September 11 because if Bush had been killed or become incapacitated during the attacks, as first in the presidential line of succession he would have taken over as president. [106] He would then have taken on critical responsibilities, including being commander in chief of the nation's armed forces. "My job, above all other things, is to be prepared to take over if something happens to the president," he noted while recalling his experiences on September 11. [107] He has in fact specifically indicated that, on that day, he thought he may have needed to take over as president. He said he believed someone was trying to "take out the leadership" of the United States for "most of the day." [108]

Cheney has claimed his awareness of his responsibilities as vice president determined his behavior on September 11. "Because you've got a job to do, you've got to focus on that, so you don't have time for personal considerations," he said. "You're thinking in terms of your official responsibilities," he added. [109] And yet his response to the terrorist attacks while they were taking place was particularly poor for someone in such a key position.

His lack of action while America was under attack is even more alarming in light of the fact that the president was away from Washington. This meant he was the most senior official at the White House. He appears to have recognized the significance of this. He "saw himself as the man responsible for teeing decisions up for the president," one White House staffer who was with him in the PEOC commented. [110]

CHENEY WAS A FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
It is important to note that Cheney was secretary of defense from 1989 to 1993 when we assess his actions during the 9/11 attacks. Secretary of defense is one of the most important cabinet positions. The person holding this post is the principal defense policy adviser to the president and exercises authority, direction, and control over the U.S. Department of Defense. [111]

Furthermore, the secretary of defense forms with the president what is known as the National Command Authority. [112] This means the two officials have unique authority to issue military orders. [113] "No offensive, lethal military action will ever be taken by any component of the U.S. military without the direct consent of the president or the secretary of defense," Robert Darling stated. [114]

As a former secretary of defense, Cheney would surely have had a better understanding than most on September 11 of how to organize an effective military response to the terrorist attacks. Indeed, as previously mentioned, he said his experience as secretary of defense led him to understand the importance of issuing rules of engagement to the military that day. [115] He should also have been particularly aware of the necessity of taking action immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center, so as to stop any possible further attacks before the targets were hit. And yet he appears to have taken no significant action for about an hour after the second crash.

CHENEY PLAYED NO ROLE IN SETTING UP THE WHITE HOUSE TELECONFERENCE
Cheney indicated that he may have been involved in at least one important action before he was evacuated from his office, specifically the establishing of a multi-agency video teleconference to deal with the crisis. However, Richard Clarke has stated that he arranged to set up the teleconference and the vice president played no role.

Cheney recalled that when his colleagues such as Scooter Libby and Mary Matalin came to his office after the second crash at the World Trade Center occurred, he started talking with them "about getting the counterterrorism task force up and operating." [116] "The main thing at that point was to make sure that we had--that we started to react to events, to get the counterterrorism task force up and running," he commented.

The "counterterrorism task force" was "a designated group of people that's ... on video conference, down in the Situation Room," he said. [117] He was presumably referring to the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG), which included the leaders of each of the federal government's counterterrorism and security organizations.

However, Clarke, who chaired the CSG, claimed that he--not Cheney--gave the instruction for the group to be activated on a video teleconference. He recalled that he told a colleague to "activate the CSG on secure video" at 9:03 a.m. He then went to Cheney's office and said the teleconference was being established. The only thing Cheney did in relation to the CSG at the time was tell Clarke, "Do it." [118]

CHENEY JUST WATCHED TELEVISION BEFORE BEING EVACUATED
Cheney practically admitted explicitly that he initially did nothing significant in response to the 9/11 attacks in one interview. He said that by the time he was evacuated from his office, shortly after 9:35 a.m., all he had been doing was "watching developments on the television" and starting "to get organized to figure out what to do" in response to the crashes at the World Trade Center. [119]

Photographs of the vice president in the minutes before he was evacuated support this account. In a few of them, the television in the office is showing Bush giving a speech from the Booker Elementary School, which means they were taken at 9:30 a.m., when the speech was made. In these photos, Cheney appears relaxed, and is doing nothing more than sitting back in his chair and watching the television. [120]

In other photos, the clock shown by the network in the corner of the TV screen reveals the time was 9:33 a.m. and 9:36 a.m. The photos show that, at these times, Cheney was still doing nothing more than watching the coverage of the crashes on television. He again appears relaxed, with a foot resting on his desk. [121]

In the photos that have been released of him on September 11 before he was evacuated from his office, the vice president is either watching television or chatting with colleagues who have come to see him. In none of the photos does he appear to be taking action or displaying any signs of the urgency we might reasonably have expected from a U.S. vice president in the middle of the worst attack on American soil since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941. [122]

Cheney apparently remained indifferent to the seriousness of the situation when the armed Secret Service agents rushed into his office and said they needed to move him immediately. He just nodded his head, indicating that he would respond to them in a moment, and turned to say something to one of his colleagues.

Special Agent James Scott had to slam his hand down on Cheney's desk and order, "Now!" and then the agents practically had to carry Cheney away in order to get him out of the office, according to Barton Gellman. [123] Even then, the vice president took the time to pick up the latest issue of The Economist from a table, so he would have something to read if he got stuck anywhere. [124]

Cheney's apparent indifference and lack of urgency were still evident just over 20 minutes later, after he entered the PEOC. Those with him observed his lack of response when he watched the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsing on television, at 9:59 a.m. One person recalled that while they heard "a groan in the room" when the tower came down, Cheney made no sound and "his expression never changed." His only reaction was that he "closed his eyes against the image for one long, slow blink." [125] And when he was subsequently told "that a casualty estimate ranged well into the thousands," Newsweek described, "Cheney just nodded grimly." [126]

CHENEY WAS UNCONCERNED FOR HIS OWN SAFETY
Dick Cheney's behavior on the morning of September 11 was suspicious not just because Cheney failed to do anything significant to protect the country while it was under attack, but also because he never seemed concerned for his own safety while the attacks were taking place. If he had been killed or seriously injured, the nation would have been left without a vice president at a time when it was most dependent on its leaders. And yet he made no attempt to quickly get himself to a secure location.

If Cheney was unaware of what the crisis was going to involve and what the targets of the terrorist attacks would be, as is implied by official accounts of 9/11, he should presumably have thought that, as the home of the U.S. president, the White House was a likely target and consequently feared that he might be in danger there.

Indeed, the possibility of the White House being attacked was repeatedly considered before 9/11. After a man crashed a small plane into it in 1994, Time magazine noted: "The unlikely incident confirmed all too publicly what security officials have long feared in private: The White House is vulnerable to sneak attack from the air." Former CIA Director Richard Helms commented, "For years I have thought a terrorist suicide pilot could readily divert his flight from an approach to Washington to blow up the White House." [127]

Cheney was likely well aware of the danger since, Barton Gellman noted, "In previous jobs, the vice president had studied 'decapitation attacks,' intended to wipe out a nation's senior leadership." [128] These "decapitation attacks" presumably included attacks on the White House, which aimed to take out the president, vice president, and other top officials there.

Cheney's Secret Service agents certainly believed the White House was a possible target while the 9/11 attacks were taking place. After they had moved the vice president from his office to the underground tunnel leading to the PEOC, they "positioned themselves at the top, middle, and bottom of the staircase, creating layers of defense in case the White House itself should be invaded," Cheney recalled. [129]

Ashley Snee, Cheney's special assistant, who was in Cheney's outer office when the Twin Towers were hit, also thought the White House might be attacked. She said that "at a certain point" after the second crash, "fear did begin to creep in." She recalled thinking that "if this was intentional, someone is attacking our nation and I'm sitting in probably a pretty significant target." [130]

Why then did it apparently never occur to Cheney, while America was under attack, that he might be leaving himself in danger by staying in his office, on the first floor of the White House?

CHENEY WAS SAFER IN THE WHITE HOUSE BUNKER
There were surely numerous locations Cheney could have gone to that were safer than his office. He would likely have been in less danger if he simply left the White House and went to somewhere less prominent and less associated with the U.S. government, which was therefore a less likely target for terrorists.

He certainly would have been safer if he had gone to the PEOC as soon as he realized America was under attack. The PEOC was located several floors below ground and was built to survive a nuclear strike on Washington. [131] If he was in it he would have been unharmed if a plane crashed into the White House. But if a plane hit the White House while he was in his office, he could have been killed or seriously injured.

As well as being safer, Cheney would probably have been in a better position to respond to the crashes at the World Trade Center. This is because the PEOC was well equipped for dealing with an emergency. Among other things, it was staffed around the clock by specially chosen military personnel from several services and had equipment for video conferencing. [132] Cheney described it as "a more secure facility that's got ... all the communications." [133] Indeed, after he eventually went to the PEOC, much of the U.S. government's response to the 9/11 attacks was managed from there. [134]

CHENEY FAILED TO SHOW ANY URGENCY
Dick Cheney described 9/11 as if the terrorist attacks were a surprise to him. He recalled: "We don't know what's happening. We know Washington's under attack. We don't know by who, we don't know how many additional planes are coming. We don't know what all is planned for us." [135]

But if the attacks were a surprise to him, he surely would have immediately taken action to prepare for any possibility, including an attack on the White House. And yet he seems to have initially responded with a chilling lack of urgency. By the time he started taking serious action, probably more than an hour had passed since the second hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center and the crisis was over.

It seems unlikely that Cheney's initial failure to take action was due to incompetence since once the attacks had ended, he was well able to get involved with the government's response to them. For example, he helped Norman Mineta track aircraft as they landed and helped implement the COG plan, thereby ensuring the government would still function in the worst of situations. His actions after the attacks ended led one White House staffer who observed him in the PEOC to describe Cheney as "the man in charge" who was "holding the fort." [136]

It also seems unlikely that his initial apparent apathy was simply due to his temperament since he eventually displayed the urgency and decisiveness that were absent while the attacks were taking place. For example, when he was asked by Anthony Barnes if the military could engage the suspicious aircraft believed to be heading toward Washington, at around 10:10 a.m., his response was immediate and authoritative. "You could see him weigh it quickly and make his call," Scooter Libby described. It was a "very quick decision," Libby added. [137]

WAS CHENEY COMPLICIT IN 9/11?
We surely need to consider whether there was a more sinister reason for Cheney's initial lack of concern and failure to take action after he learned of the crashes at the World Trade Center. Might Cheney's unusual behavior have come about because the vice president was involved in planning and perpetrating the 9/11 attacks? If he was, his initial lack of action could have been deliberate, intended to make sure he did nothing that might stop the attacks before all the planned targets were hit.

Cheney may have been employing a simple tactic: He did nothing meaningful for about an hour after he saw the second crash on television; then, after 10:03 a.m., when the last of the hijacked planes apparently crashed into the ground, he started responding with the urgency and commitment he should have exhibited from the outset. Since the attacks were by then over, he could now do whatever he wanted, because nothing he did would affect the outcome of the crisis.

If Cheney was involved in planning the attacks, he would have known in advance what was going to happen on September 11. And if he knew what would happen, this could help explain his calmness when the devastating events took place. For example, photos of him in his office between 9:30 a.m. and 9:36 a.m. show that in the middle of the attacks he was apparently relaxed and content to just watch the coverage of the crisis on television. And while other White House officials were visibly distressed when they saw the collapse of the South Tower on television, he appeared emotionless. If Cheney already knew what was going to happen that morning, the catastrophic events would have been less of a shock to him than to others at the White House and, therefore, it presumably would have been easier for him to stay calm.

Foreknowledge of the attacks could also explain why Cheney was in no hurry to leave his office and go to somewhere safer, even when his Secret Service agents told him he needed to evacuate immediately. Because he knew what the targets were going to be, he knew that no planes were going to crash into the White House and so he was safe in his office.

CHENEY SAID THERE WERE 'THINGS' HE HAD 'TO MAKE HAPPEN'
Dick Cheney, as U.S. vice president and the most senior official at the White House when America came under attack, was a key figure on September 11. He described his experiences that day as if he recognized his important role and took it seriously. "This is your job and ... you have things that you have to make happen," he said. "You don't have time for the emotional reaction that might otherwise occur if somebody was just sitting there watching these events unfold and had no responsibilities," he added. [138]

Furthermore, his ability to react quickly and effectively to the terrorist attacks should have been greater due to his experiences as secretary of defense and a participant in the continuity of government program. And, surrounded by other senior officials, he was in a good position at the White House to help organize the government's response to the crisis.

And yet his response to the attacks while they were taking place was alarmingly poor. At the most important time of his professional life, he apparently failed to do anything significant to help protect his country. Before he was evacuated from his office, he acted like somebody who was indeed "just sitting there watching these events unfold and had no responsibilities."

But while his behavior on September 11 was suspicious, official investigations have failed to examine whether Cheney was involved with planning and perpetrating the 9/11 attacks. This possibility now needs to be taken seriously and properly looked into.

NOTES
[1] "9/11/01 Timeline." United States Secret Service, November 17, 2001; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President. New York: HarperCollins, 2007, pp. 327-328.
[2] Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 328.
[3] Eric Schmitt, "Cheney Friend to be Next Navy Secretary, Bush Officials Say." New York Times, July 7, 1992.
[4] Meet the Press. NBC, September 16, 2001; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, pp. 328-330.
[5] Meet the Press; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 330; Dick Cheney and Jonathan Reiner with Liz Cheney, Heart: An American Medical Odyssey. New York: Scribner, 2013, p. 189.
[6] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek. White House, November 19, 2001; Evan Thomas, "The Day That Changed America." Newsweek, December 30, 2001.
[7] Meet the Press; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, pp. 330-331.
[8] "Profiles of Victims, Heroes, Leaders From September 11." Live Event/Special, CNN, September 11, 2002.
[9] White House transcript, interview of Scooter Libby by Newsweek magazine. White House, November 16, 2001; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 331.
[10] Meet the Press; White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 331.
[11] Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, pp. 331-332; Barton Gellman, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency. New York: Penguin, 2008, p. 114; "Vice President Dick Cheney on His Memoir, In My Time." Hugh Hewitt Show, Salem Radio Network, September 8, 2011.
[12] Meet the Press; Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 114.
[13] Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror. New York: Free Press, 2004, pp. 1-2.
[14] Christopher F. Aguilar, "Remembering Sept. 11." Florida Times-Union, September 10, 2003; Interview with Douglas Cochrane, written notes. 9/11 Commission, April 16, 2004.
[15] Meet the Press; White House transcript, interview of Scooter Libby by Newsweek magazine; White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, pp. 331-332; Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 114.
[16] White House transcript, interview of Scooter Libby by Newsweek magazine.
[17] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 114.
[18] Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, pp. 332-333; Robert Schlesinger, White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008, p. 456.
[19] "The Daily Diary of President George W. Bush." White House, September 11, 2001; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004, pp. 38-39.
[20] Bill Sammon, Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism--From Inside the Bush White House. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2002, p. 92-93; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 332; Dick Cheney and Jonathan Reiner with Liz Cheney, Heart, p. 189.
[21] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek.
[22] Meet the Press.
[23] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 39-40.
[24] "Summary of Air Traffic Hijack Events: September 11, 2001." Federal Aviation Administration, September 17, 2001; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 39.
[25] USSS memo, interview with ATSAIC Scott Johnson and SA James Scott. United States Secret Service, October 1, 2001; "9/11/01 Timeline."
[26] Barton Gellman, Angler, pp. 114-115.
[27] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 39-40; Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011, p. 1.
[28] Evan Thomas, "The Day That Changed America"; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 333.
[29] Meet the Press.
[30] "What I Remember." National Review, September 8, 2011.
[31] "9/11/01 Timeline"; White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek.
[32] See David Bohrer, V1546-14: Vice President Cheney Watches Television. September 11, 2001, White House Photo Office, Washington, DC. A few accounts have suggested Dick Cheney was evacuated from his office significantly earlier, apparently shortly after the second hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center. See "(Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Vice President Cheney Evacuated From Office, Earlier Than Some Accounts Claim." History Commons, n.d. However, photos of Cheney in his office in which the television is visible and showing the time reveal that he must have been evacuated much later than this.
[33] Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 1.
[34] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 39-40; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 335.
[35] Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 2.
[36] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek.
[37] USSS memo, interview with SAIC Carl Truscott. United States Secret Service, October 1, 2001; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 40; Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 2.
[38] White House notes: Lynne Cheney notes, September 11, 2001.
[39] White House transcript, interview of Scooter Libby by Newsweek magazine.
[40] White House notes: Ari Fleischer notes, September 11, 2001; Bill Sammon, Fighting Back, p. 101; Ari Fleischer, Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House. New York: HarperCollins, 2005, p. 141.
[41] Nicholas Lemann, "The Options." New Yorker, October 1, 2001; Bob Woodward, Bush at War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002, p. 17.
[42] White House notes: Lynne Cheney notes.
[43] USSS memo, interview with SAIC Carl Truscott; Interview with Douglas Cochrane, written notes.
[44] "Actions of TSD Related to Terrorist Incident." United States Secret Service, September 12, 2001; White House transcript, interview of Scooter Libby by Newsweek magazine; Evan Thomas, "The Day That Changed America"; Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 2.
[45] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 116.
[46] Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 337; Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 2.
[47] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 40.
[48] Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 338; Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 116.
[49] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek.
[50] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 118.
[51] Christopher F. Aguilar, "Remembering Sept. 11."
[52] Interview with Douglas Cochrane, written notes.
[53] White House transcript, interview of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice by Scott Pelley, CBS. White House, August 2, 2002; Condoleezza Rice, interview by David Gregory. NBC News, September 11, 2002.
[54] Peter Baker, Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House. New York: Doubleday, 2013, p. 127.
[55] Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 6; "Vice President Dick Cheney on His Memoir, In My Time."
[56] National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Public Hearing. 9/11 Commission, May 23, 2003.
[57] Paul Richter, "Fighter Jets Assume New Protective Role." Los Angeles Times, September 15, 2001; Richard Whittle, "National Guard Jets Raced to Intercept 2 Airliners." Dallas Morning News, September 16, 2001.
[58] Meet the Press.
[59] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 17.
[60] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 120; Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, "President Bush National Geographic Interview's Unanswered Questions." Daily Beast, August 28, 2011.
[61] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek.
[62] George W. Bush, Decision Points. New York: Crown, 2010, p. 129.
[63] Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 3.
[64] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 39-41; "September 11, 2001: 'Tic Toc' of Significant Events." White House, n.d.
[65] Mitchell Zuckoff, Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11. New York: HarperCollins, 2019, p. 147.
[66] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek.
[67] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 40.
[68] George W. Bush, Decision Points, p. 129.
[69] Daniel Klaidman, "Who Was Really in Charge?" Newsweek, June 27, 2004.
[70] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 121; Philip Shenon, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation. New York: Twelve, 2008, pp. 265-266.
[71] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 41.
[72] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 121.
[73] Interview with Douglas Cochrane, written notes; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 41; Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden. New York: Ballantine Books, 2011, pp. 141-142.
[74] Air Threat Conference and DDO Conference, Transcript. U.S. Department of Defense, September 11, 2001; Air Threat Conference Call, Transcript. U.S. Department of Defense, September 11, 2001; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 42.
[75] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 42.
[76] Ibid. p. 41.
[77] "The Daily Diary of President George W. Bush"; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 41.
[78] Karl Rove, interview by Campbell Brown. NBC News, September 11, 2002.
[79] White House notes: Ari Fleischer notes.
[80] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 465.
[81] Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 6.
[82] Dick Cheney and Jonathan Reiner with Liz Cheney, Heart, p. 190.
[83] James Mann, "The Armageddon Plan." The Atlantic, March 2004; Howard Kurtz, "'Armageddon' Plan Was Put Into Action on 9/11, Clarke Says." Washington Post, April 7, 2004.
[84] Dan Balz and Bob Woodward, "America's Chaotic Road to War." Washington Post, January 27, 2002.
[85] "Vice President Dick Cheney on His Memoir, In My Time."
[86] Robert J. Darling, 24 Hours Inside the President's Bunker: 9/11/01 The White House. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2010, p. 67.
[87] James Mann, "The Armageddon Plan"; Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 129.
[88] Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies, p. 8.
[89] Air Threat Conference Call, Transcript; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 38.
[90] Garrett M. Graff, Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself--While the Rest of us Die. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017, p. 337.
[91] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek; Evan Thomas, "The Day That Changed America."
[92] Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, pp. 335-336.
[93] John King, "Vice President in Secure Location at Night." CNN, September 11, 2002.
[94] Meet the Press; White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek; White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, the Washington Post. White House, December 17, 2001; James Mann, "The Armageddon Plan"; Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 6.
[95] Robert J. Darling, 24 Hours Inside the President's Bunker, p. 67.
[96] Dan Balz and Bob Woodward, "America's Chaotic Road to War."
[97] Dennis Hastert, Speaker: Lessons From Forty Years in Coaching and Politics. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2004, pp. 8-9; Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 6.
[98] Office of the Federal Register/National Archives and Records Administration, The United States Government Manual 1999/2000. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1999, p. 90; Jonathan Masters, "The U.S. Vice President and Foreign Policy." Council on Foreign Relations, September 22, 2016; "Vice President." U.S. Legal, n.d.; "Vice President of the United States (President of the Senate)." United States Senate, n.d.
[99] "Our Government: The Executive Branch." White House, n.d.
[100] Jonathan Masters, "The U.S. Vice President and Foreign Policy"; Robert Longley, "Vice President of the United States: Duties and Details." ThoughtCo, May 1, 2019; "Vice President of the United States (President of the Senate)."
[101] "Our Government: The Executive Branch."
[102] "Vice President of the United States (President of the Senate)."
[103] Jonathan Masters, "The U.S. Vice President and Foreign Policy."
[104] "Vice President of the United States (President of the Senate)."
[105] Jonathan Masters, "The U.S. Vice President and Foreign Policy."
[106] "Vice President."
[107] Meet the Press.
[108] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, the Washington Post.
[109] "Vice President Dick Cheney." NewsHour, PBS, September 9, 2002.
[110] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 118.
[111] Office of the Federal Register/National Archives and Records Administration, The United States Government Manual 1999/2000, p. 177; Department of Defense Directive 5100.01: Functions of the Department of Defense and Its Major Components. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, December 21, 2010; "Travels With the Secretary." U.S. Department of Defense, n.d.
[112] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 17; "DOD 101: Overview of the Department of Defense." U.S. Department of Defense, n.d.
[113] Multiservice Procedures for Humanitarian Assistance Operations. Fort Monroe, VA: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, 1994; Andrew Cockburn, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy. New York: Scribner, 2007, p. 4; "Overview of National Security Structure." Defense Technical Information Center, n.d.
[114] Robert J. Darling, 24 Hours Inside the President's Bunker, p. 103.
[115] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek.
[116] Meet the Press.
[117] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek.
[118] Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies, pp. 1-2.
[119] Meet the Press.
[120] David Bohrer, V1546-04: Vice President Cheney Watches Television. September 11, 2001, White House Photo Office, Washington, DC; David Bohrer, V1546-05: Vice President Cheney Watches Television. September 11, 2001, White House Photo Office, Washington, DC; David Bohrer, V1546-06: Vice President Cheney Watches Television. September 11, 2001, White House Photo Office, Washington, DC.
[121] David Bohrer, V1546-10: Vice President Cheney Watches Television. September 11, 2001, White House Photo Office, Washington, DC; David Bohrer, V1546-14.
[122] See the set of 356 photos of Dick Cheney on September 11 that were released to PBS in 2015: Vice President Cheney on September 11, 2001. September 11, 2001, White House Photo Office, Washington, DC.
[123] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 115.
[124] Evan Thomas, "The Day That Changed America"; Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 333.
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[126] Evan Thomas, "The Day That Changed America."
[127] Michael Duffy, "Flight of the Intruder." Time, September 26, 1994.
[128] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 115.
[129] Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 1.
[130] Peter Baker, Days of Fire, p. 121; Adriana Padilla, Bethany Jones, and Karen Daniel, "9/11: Inside the White House." Queens of Crime, podcast audio, October 11, 2017.
[131] William Safire, "Inside the Bunker." New York Times, September 13, 2001; Éanna Ó Caollaí, "9/11: Newly Released Photos Show U.S. Leaders in Aftermath of Attacks." Irish Times, July 25, 2015; David W. Myers, "Get Your Home Ready for Cooler Months Ahead." Bellingham Herald, September 16, 2016.
[132] Robert J. Darling, 24 Hours Inside the President's Bunker, p. 50; Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time, p. 2; David W. Myers, "Get Your Home Ready for Cooler Months Ahead."
[133] White House transcript, telephone interview of the vice president by Newsweek.
[134] Stephen F. Hayes, Cheney, p. 337.
[135] Meet the Press.
[136] Barton Gellman, Angler, p. 118.
[137] White House transcript, interview of Scooter Libby by Newsweek magazine.
[138] "Vice President Dick Cheney."

REPLAY

Isn't it possible, even probable, that the VP's foot on the desk photo shows the VP later, watching a replay (tape) of the 9:36 LIVE broadcast?

It makes no sense that he would still be chilling in the easy chair minutes after Dulles has called and said an unidentified aircraft is headed right for DC.

He said that he was whisked away shortly after they watched WTC2 get hit live at 9:03.

Are we supposed to believe the SS did nothing to secure him for 33 minutes ? !!!

TV footage not a replay or a video recording

Isn't it possible, even probable, that the VP's foot on the desk photo shows the VP later, watching a replay (tape) of the 9:36 LIVE broadcast?

I very much doubt this. Cheney never returned to his office that day after he was evacuated from it.

He said that he was whisked away shortly after they watched WTC2 get hit live at 9:03.

Please could you provide the exact quote where Cheney says this. I think every interview I've seen with him is consitent with the evacuation occurring after 9:35 a.m.

Are we supposed to believe the SS did nothing to secure him for 33 minutes ?

The question of what we are "supposed to believe" is irrelevant. I just look at what the evidence indicates did indeed happen. Inicidentally, I examined the failure of the Secret Service to evacuate Cheney for more than half an hour following the second crash at the WTC in my article, "The Dangerously Delayed Reactions of the Secret Service on 9/11." You can read that article here: http://shoestring911.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-dangerously-delayed-reactions-of.html

Russert Interview-- 16 SEPT 2001

https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/vicepresident/news-speeches/speeches/vp20010916.html

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the events of Tuesday. Where were you when you first learned a plane had struck the World Trade Center?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I was in my office Tuesday morning. Monday, I had been in Kentucky, and the president had been in the White House. Tuesday, our roles were sort of reversed. He was in Florida, and I was in the White House Tuesday morning. And a little before 9, my speechwriter came in. We were going to go over some speeches coming up. And my secretary called in just as we were starting to meet just before 9:00 and said an airplane had hit the World Trade Center, and that was the first one that went in. So we turned on the television and watched for a few minutes, and then actually saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center. And the--as soon as that second plane showed up, that's what triggered the thought: terrorism, that this was an attack...

MR. RUSSERT: You sensed it immediately, "This is deliberate"?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Yeah. Then I convened in my office. Condi Rice came down. Her office is right near mine there in the West Wing.

MR. RUSSERT: The national security adviser.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: National security adviser, my chief of staff, Scooter Libby, Mary Matalin, who works for me, convened in my office, and we started talking about getting the Counterterrorism Task Force up and operating. I talked with the president. I'd given word to Andy Card's staff, who is right next door, to get hold of Andy and/or the president and that I wanted to talk to him as soon as they could hook it up. This call came in, and the president knew at this point about that. We discussed a statement that he might make, and the first statement he made describing this as an act of apparent terrorism flowed out of those conversations.

While I was there, over the next several minutes, watching developments on the television and as we started to get organized to figure out what to do, my Secret Service agents came in and, under these circumstances, they just move. They don't say "sir" or ask politely. They came in and said, "Sir, we have to leave immediately," and grabbed me and...

MR. RUSSERT: Literally grabbed you and moved you?

This interview fits the later evacuation time

What Cheney said in this interview is consistent with him being evacuated from his office after 9:35 a.m., in my opinion. He mentioned receiving a call from President Bush while he was in his office, which means he was still there at 9:15 a.m., when the call was made. He said that "over the next several minutes" following the call, he was "watching developments on the television." All he said with regards to the time of the evacuation was that his Secret Service agents came in and escorted him away "as we started to get organized to figure out what to do." This is a vague and unspecific statement, which, in my opinion, could mean the evacuation occurred at any time after about 9:20 a.m.

Garabito

Nelson Garabito, who was in charge of White House airspace, called his FAA counterpart (Terry van Steenbergen). They were aware right after 9:03 that there were two planes headed to DC.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUEYAJiLB2c

For me, it is more consistent that they would evacuate well in advance, not wait until the threat was right on the doorstep.

https://www.scribd.com/document/17218142/T8-B6-FAA-HQ-Terry-Van-Steenbergen-Fdr-3-30-04-MFR-875

Two minutes after Steenbergen suggested Garabito seek authorization to shoot, he responded that the Vice President had authorized the use of lethal force.

Likely this is what W and the VP were discussing early on. Makes perfect sense to me, and lines up with what Steenbergen testified to. I'm not buying the tunnel, PEOC communications difficulties conveniently pushing the shoot down timeline off beyond 10:03.