Saturday, September 21, 2002

The New York Post has published an article which cleverly misrepresents what happened at the school in Florida when George Bush apparently first heard from Andrew Card that the second plane had hit the second WTC tower. This was the point when it should have been clear that the United States was under terrorist attack, and that more attacks were quite possible. The relevant paragraphs in the article, referring to and quoting a teacher at the school, state:

"President Bush had been presiding over her reading class last 9/11, when a Secret Service agent interrupted the lesson and asked, 'Where can we get to a television?'

'The president bolted right out of here and told me: 'Take over,'' Daniels told The Post yesterday. 'I knew something serious had happened, and then a short while later he came back and said, 'What we thought was an airline accident turned out to be a terrorist hijack.'"

The way this article is structured, it gives the impression that the Secret Service agent informed Bush of the attack, and Bush immediately 'bolted right out'. By having Bush inform the students of the terrorist hijack when he returns to the classroom, the article completely confuses the fact that Bush already knew that it was a terrorist attack, and hides the fact that Bush spent a considerable amount of time after he knew about the terrorist attack reading along with the children. You can see what happened from a video (you can also see the video here) of the incident. It was Andrew Card who originally told Bush of the second attack (which you can see from the photograph in the article, which is presumably included so you will conflate the original informing by Card with the informing by the Secret Service agent described in the article), and Bush went nowhere for about 6 minutes, when he did indeed leave for a few minutes (see this visual account of Bush's 'interesting day'). I have a few comments on the video:

  1. Doesn't Bush, in his mannerisms rather than his appearance, resemble the comedian Tommy Smothers? Tommy Smothers uses the various twitches and double takes to portray someone who is stupid, while Bush . . . .

  2. Andrew Card might have been expected to say something like, "Mr. President, another plane has hit the other tower of the WTC, and it appears that America is under terrorist attack." From the amount of time he spent, however, it appears he said something like, "It has happened." Bush claims that Card said: "A second plane has hit the tower, America is under attack." Card confirms this (and then lies himself by saying that Bush, on hearing Card's whispered information, "just excused himself very politely to the teacher and to the students, and he left." - another instance of the recreation of history!) Card spent so little time informing Bush that it appears that Bush must have been aware of what was going to happen. Card apparently didn't even expect a reaction from Bush, and pulled away so quickly that you'd think he was afraid of catching something. It was as if Card assumed that Bush only needed confirmation of what he knew was going to happen, and would not need to give any instructions.

  3. We don't see the whole reading exhibition, but from what we see, Bush was the calmest person in the world. He'd just been told that America was under terrorist attack, and he exhibited not the slightest sign of concern. He didn't leave the room until after the reading exhibition was completely over, and therefore it is another lie to suggest that he had to cut the reading short to leave the room. The story of the Secret Service agent, if true, must have occurred after the conclusion of the reading.

  4. We know that the timing is absolutely critical. The second plane hit the WTC at 9:03. Even by NORAD's rather suspicious account, NORAD was aware that Flight 77 had probably been hijacked at 9:24. We've been told that the President has to authorize the shooting down of an aircraft, an authorization which Bush gave only after the Pentagon explosion. In fact, Bush did absolutely nothing during the early critical moments except read along with the children. He got around to making a speech about the terrorist attack at 9:30, and in fact made his speech before he did anything about the terrorist attacks themselves (in other words, his handlers ensured he looked presidential for the television cameras before he did anything to act presidential). The critical fact in all this, even more critical that the complete lack of a sense of priorities in staying for the reading exhibition, is the fact that neither he nor his supposedly top-notch aides did anything to make the order to shoot down another terrorist attack plane until after the Pentagon attack. What could they possibly have been thinking unless they knew that the only true terrorist attacks had concluded and that the Pentagon attack was an inside job, one which they did not want to prejudice by sending jets to Washington which could have shot down whatever it was that crashed into the Pentagon?

  5. One of the most striking problems with Bush's school visit is that he remained in the presumably vulnerable school even after it was completely apparent that the country was under terrorist attack. Why didn't he do anything to protect himself and the office of the Presidency? Did he know that he was safe because he had exact foreknowledge of the nature and extent of the attack?

  6. I assume the excuse for the time wasted in the reading exhibition was that his aides needed the time to get Rice and Cheney on the phone, and that there was no need to interrupt his reading until they were on the line. It shows how pathetic Bush's Presidency is that he is unable to do anything until his handlers tell him what to do and say. Even more remarkable is the fact that they appeared to have forgotten about him as he read with the children, and had to send a Secret Service agent in to remove him from the room so the stupidity of his reading children's stories while the country literally burned didn't become too obvious. The voters might not feel too happy about such a passive Commander-in-Chief.

  7. Bush later told a lie about how he saw the first crash on television before he entered the classroom, an impossibility as the first crash wasn't broadcast on television until after the second crash had occurred, and he was in the classroom when the second attack occurred (the only way his story is possible is if Bush saw some special government satellite feed from a camera specifically set up to view the WTC with foreknowldge of the attacks). I wonder if he told this lie to bolster the idea that he did not have foreknowledge in that he, like everybody else, first became aware of the attacks from television.

The video has been edited, presumably for innocent reasons, and doesn't show what happened after the reading exhibition was over (there must be a lot of video of this event, as you can see many cameras in the classroom in the video). It is likely that a Secret Service agent did come in to fetch Bush. The important thing is that Bush already knew about the terrorist attack when the agent came in, and spent a considerable amount of time (the fact that we don't know exactly how much time is suspicious in itself) doing nothing while he knew the country was under attack, and, presumably, still under threat of further attack. The article has been written to confuse the whole issue of Bush's failure to act in a timely way, and to give a completely false impression of Bush's actions by making it appear that he 'bolted' from the room to rush into action to save the country, when in fact he did no such thing (Card's lie attempts to make the same point). In fact, if he did bolt, it was completely a stage-managed trick by his aides to make him appear to be doing something when he was simply waiting for smarter people to do something. The fact that the New York Post article was written as it was betrays the fact that the Administration feels very vulnerable about this whole issue. I wonder if Rove phoned Murdoch and specifically asked for such an article (I wonder if it was actually written by the White House). Of course, while the reading exhibition problem looks bad, the real crime is the complete failure by Bush and his Administration to protect the country or the office of the Presidency in the face of a terrorist attack. This is particularly terrible given the fact that we know that the Administration had numerous and detailed warnings of just such an attack. The gross dereliction of duty evidenced in this Florida school will probably be the first article of impeachment, and showing this video at the hearing will make excellent theatre.