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Different occasions call for different versions of what Bush thought when he learned about the first plane crash.

What Bush Says He Thought What He Saw, etc.

washingtonpost - Bush Reacts to Attacks, Moves to Nebraska
By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 11, 2001; 4:36 p.m.

One terrible pilot.

Must be an accident, one terrible pilot. - Bush reveals first thought: There's one terrible pilot

Bush himself says that is what he thought in-person, during two town hall style meetings.

The President himself said he saw the first crash on television! He said nothing about receiving a call from Con-Rice (at a later date when he spoke to an audience in a town hall meeting in Orange County). - President Bush Holds Town Hall Meeting Aired December 4, 2001 - 15:18ET

Well, Jordan (ph), you're not going to believe what state I was in when I heard about the terrorist attack. I was in Florida. And my chief of staff, Andy Card -- actually I was in a classroom talking about a reading program that works. And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower -- the TV was obviously on, and I use to fly myself, and I said, "There's one terrible pilot." And I said, "It must have been a horrible accident." - Transcript

Bush made his remarks to the people in December 2001 and again in January 2002. - Video Bush town hall meeting January 2002 - transcript: Anyway, I was sitting there, and my Chief of Staff --

well, first of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building. There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was pilot error and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake. And something was wrong with the plane, or -- anyway, I'm sitting there, listening to the briefing,

and Andy Card came and said, "America is under attack."

An accident, pilot had a heart attack.

He thought it was one terrible pilot - Over a year later, Sammon reports Bush thinking that the pilot of the first plane probably had a heart attack.

Bush tells Bill Sammon something completely different than what he states on two different appearances to the people.

To pool reporter, Bill Sammon, Bush has a different recollection: his first thoughts upon hearing of the first plane crash were that the pilot had maybe had a heart attack.

from Fighting Back

After much shaking of hands and posing for pictures and saying pleasant things to local IPs who had been invited to the Colony to see him off, Bush clambered into his Cadillac limousine, which set off for the city of Sarasota at 8:39 a.m. ... the president settled for the brief nine mile ride... was 8:46 a.m. when the president headed for that last stretch of causeway that had been built with timbers hauled by circus elephants... At 8:55 a.m. the president arrived at Emma E. Booker Elementary School... "We're on time, I like to stay on time; I like to be crisp," he told me later. "I'm heading into the event and somebody is whispering in my ear." He was referring to his personal assistant, Blake Gottesman, who was giving the president some final stage directions. "Here's what you're going to be doing; you're going to meet so-and-so-and-such-and-such," Bush recalled being told. "And Andy Card says, 'By the way, an aircraft flew into the World Trade Center." "And my first reaction was - as an old pilot - how could the guy have gotten so off course to hit the towers? What a terrible accident that is. The first report I heard was a light airplane, twin-engine airplane." The president was told that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was at the White House, waiting to talk with him on a secure phone line that had been installed in a holding room just off the school's portico. Standing outside the door to that room was the school principal, a black woman named Gwendolyn Tose-Rigell, who now greeted Bush. But before she could intoroduce him to the five dignitaries who were lined up next to her, the president explained that he needed to take an urgent phone call. He excused himself and disappeared into the adjacent room, which had been secured by the White House adance team. Bush picked up the phone and talked to Rice, who was sitting in her office in the West Wing, watching live television coverage of the stricken building belch black smoke into a cloudless sky. "There's one terrible pilot," Bush muttered. Turning to Card, the president speculated that the pilot must have suffered a heart attack. How else does one crash itno the tallest building in New Yourk without a single cloud to obstruct the view. Not that Bush had actually seen images of the burning building yet - there was no TV in the room. But he figured that even a small plane could cause significant damage. Some lives had undoubtedly been lost on impact and fire probably now endangered many others. Bush would need to reassure the public as soon as possible. He decided to pledge the full resources of the government, inclucing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to cope with the disaster. Since his speech on education was thirty minutes away, the president would comment on the accident at the conclusion of a second grade reading drill, which was scheduled to begin momentarily. He and his aides hammered out a statement that would form the basis of his answer to the inevitable question from the journalists, who were already waiting in the classroom."

Bush tells 60 Minutes

I thought it was an accident, says Mr. Bush. I thought it was a pilot error. I thought that some foolish soul had gotten lost and - and made a terrible mistake.

The president got his first look at the burning World Trade Center towers on a television that had been rolled in on a cart and hooked up for him in a holding room at Emma Booker Elementary School in a poor, crime-ridden section of Sarasota, Fla.

The president sat at a table with his ear pressed to a telephone while he spoke over a secure line to the White House. He craned to watch the sickening images from clear across the room.

"I told Ari to take notes," Mr. Bush recalled months later in an interview with The Times, referring to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. "I wanted Ari to have a full understanding of what he saw and my reactions to that.

"I recognized that a lot of this was going to end up being such a blur that I wouldn't have an accurate accounting."

The first airplane hit the north tower at 8:46 a.m., as the president's motorcade crossed the John Ringling Causeway on the way to Booker Elementary from the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort on Longboat Key.

The second plane crashed into the south tower at 9:03, a minute after the president stepped inside a classroom to watch a teacher put her second-graders through a reading drill before his scheduled speech.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card had informed the president of the first, seemingly accidental crash just as Mr. Bush arrived at the school. Then, at 9:07, Mr. Card entered the classroom and seized a pause in the reading drill to walk up to Mr. Bush's seat.

"A second plane hit the second tower," he whispered into the president's right ear. "America is under attack."

From the holding room off the school's portico, Mr. Bush talked first over the secure line with Mr. Cheney back at the White House. The vice president had watched the second crash on live TV in his West Wing office. He was huddled there with Miss Rice, his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby and political adviser Mary Matalin.

Washington Times - Washington Times
'Right decision'
By Bill Sammon
October 8, 2002

Paul Begala, White House counselor to President Clinton, was more blunt.

"He didn't come home for 10 hours 10 hours, when all the planes were accounted for," Mr. Begala said on CNN. "And he gave us some cock-and-bull story about Air Force One being under attack."

Such criticism angered Mr. Cheney and Bush aides, although the president didn't respond at the time at least not publicly.

"I knew full well that I had made the absolutely right decision, and history would record that," Mr. Bush recalled.

"When the president is under threat, one thing for the good of the country is you want to remove the president from the immediate threat.

"There's nothing worse for a country having been attacked than a destabilized presidency," he said. "It would make matters a lot worse."

During those ten hours, while the focus was on the whereabouts of the president, the opportunity to ask President Bush what he knew about the first plane crash before he went into the second-grade classroom, slipped away from pool reporters.

pilot got lost

Videotapes of Bush at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School

buzzflash - videotape - videotape

Bush's one-minute speech at the E. E. Booker Elementary School is featured among the list, but not the live television coverage of Bush in Mrs. Daniels' second grade classroom - Videos: Sept. 11, 2001 CBS Broadcasting Inc.


Now it becomes extremely crucial. When did air traffic controllers, or anybody in the Washington DC area, become aware via radar, or eyesight, or somebody on watch in the White House, that a plane was nearly on top of the White House? Where was the Solicitor General, Mr. Olson at this time? Obviously, he had spoken to his wife. To my knowledge, there are still windows on airplanes. didn't she look out the window and see where they might have been? She, of all people, would recognize Washington DC and the White House from the air, since her husband's position was right in the heart of it all? We still do not know when Barbara Olson completed two calls - was it 30 minutes before the crash into the Pentagon, ten minutes, five? - cnn transcript:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. J, we're going to take a look at videotape just moment ago of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center.

That is spectacular pictures. I don't know if you could see the plane, and that too was a passenger plane, if perhaps some type of navigating system or some type of electronics would have put two planes into the World Trade Center within it looks like about 18 minutes of each other.

You want to go -- we have another copy. There is the second plane. Another passenger plane hitting the World Trade Center.

These pictures are frightening indeed. These are just minutes between each other. So naturally, you will guess, and you will speculate, and perhaps ask the question: If some type of navigating equipment is awry, the two commuter planes would run into the World Trade Center's at the same time.


A short -- a while ago I walked right up next to the building, firefighters were still trying to put the blaze. The fire, by the way, is still burning in some parts of the Pentagon. And I took a look at the huge gaping hole that's in the side of the Pentagon in an area of the Pentagon that has been recently renovated, part of a multibillion dollar renovation program here at the Pentagon. I could see parts of the airplane that crashed into the building, very small pieces of the plane on the heliport outside the building. The biggest piece I saw was about three feet long, it was silver and had been painted green and red, but I could not see any identifying markings on the plane. I also saw a large piece of shattered glass. It appeared to be a cockpit windshield or other window from the plane. - Bush was driving to the school in a motorcade when the phone rang. An airline accident appeared to have happened. - September 11, 2001
9:30 a.m. official transcript
Remarks by the President After Two Planes Crash Into World Trade Center

Here it is - the focus on Bush whereabouts

Only after he leaves the school building and is aboard Air Force One - September 11, 2001 By Jake Tapper Bush, challenged

Bush's reaction is literally up in the air, as the world tunes in for an official -- and unofficial -- response from the government. - What Andrew Card says the President said when learning of the first plane crash

Card, a Holbrook native and former Massachusetts state representative, made his comments during a speech before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce lunch. - "VICE PRES. CHENEY: Didn't circle it, but was headed on a track into it. The Secret Service has an arrangement with the F.A.A. They had open lines after the World Trade Center was... "

When Bush was informed of the first plane crash, according to Sammon, before arriving at the school building, and by Andrew Card, what was Bush's action that showed him for what he is?

There was no reaction.

He did not gather a few of his aides together and for instance, bow his head.

He didn't say much, either, that would show how caring he is, even if he didn't yet know the full extent of the crash, by remarking, hope there weren't many people aboard the plane

He doesn't even wonder if it could be an attack. There is precedent for thinking that an unusual event such as a plane crash into a New York skysraper could be an attack.

DailyNews - 1945 Plane Crash Rocked NYC

The last time a plane crashed into a New York City skyscraper was July 28, 1945. A U.S. bomber flying through thick fog at about 200 mph crashed into the Empire State Building, one of the most recognized structures in the world.

The timetable under scrutiny.

The morning of September 11, 2001 - George W. Bush is informed that America is under attack.

9:07 a.m.

"A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack." White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card leaned over and whispered these words into President Bush's right ear at 9:07 a.m. September 11 (2001)

9:06 to six minutes later approximately 9:13 a.m.

9:07 a.m. to 9:12/9:13 a.m. Bush remains sitting in Mrs. Daniels' second grade classroom

Suddenly, a time to lead By Bill Sammon

As the children plowed through the story, the president kept gazing up, lost in a tumult of urgent thoughts. So the first plane crash had not been an accident after all. The second crash had proven that much.

A second plane hit the second tower. But what kind of plane? Another small, twin-engine job? Who were the pilots? Why had they done it? How many Americans had they killed? "But the goat did some things that made the girl's dad mad."

"Let's clean that up," Mrs. Daniels said.

The president noticed someone moving at the back of the room. It was White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, maneuvering to catch his attention without alerting the press. Mr. Fleischer was holding up a legal pad.

Big block letters were scrawled on the cardboard backing: DON'T SAY ANYTHING YET. The remarks drafted earlier would be woefully inadequate.

"The goat ate things."

"Go on."

The president managed a wan smile at the teacher. He redoubled his efforts to appear as though he were concentrating. But it was no use.

Who could have perpetrated such a diabolical crime? No, this was more than a crime. Someone had suddenly declared war against the United States of America.

"Victory clicked into my mind," Mr. Bush told The Times. "The one thing that became certain is that we wouldn't let this stand. I mean, there was no question in my mind that we'd respond.

"I wasn't sure who the attacker was. But if somebody is going to attack America, I knew that my most immediate job was to protect America by finding him and getting them.

9:13 to 9:30 a.m. Bush in classroom set up with secure phones, television

'Right decision' By Bill Sammon

The second plane crashed into the south tower at 9:03, a minute after the president stepped inside a classroom to watch a teacher put her second-graders through a reading drill before his scheduled speech.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card had informed the president of the first, seemingly accidental crash just as Mr. Bush arrived at the school. Then, at 9:07, Mr. Card entered the classroom and seized a pause in the reading drill to walk up to Mr. Bush's seat.

"A second plane hit the second tower," he whispered into the president's right ear. "America is under attack."

From the holding room off the school's portico, Mr. Bush talked first over the secure line with Mr. Cheney back at the White House. The vice president had watched the second crash on live TV in his West Wing office. He was huddled there with Miss Rice, his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby and political adviser Mary Matalin.

"First of all, we had to figure out what we were going to do and where we were going to make decisions from," Mr. Bush recalled.

"I didn't spend that much time about my own safety," the president added, "because I knew others were worried about that. What I was interested in is making sure that the response mechanism that was under my control was sharp and ready to go. And that meant defense, for starters."

Mr. Bush also called FBI Director Robert Mueller, then on the job all of six days. The FBI already suspected Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, the Islamic radical who led the al Qaeda terrorist network.

The president then consulted with New York Gov. George E. Pataki. He hung up and turned to the top aides present Mr. Card, Mr. Fleischer, chief political adviser Karl Rove and White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett.

"We're at war," Mr. Bush announced.

Bush was aware of a pre-planned scheduled time of 9:30 a.m. to address teachers, parents, and students gathered in the library.

One account says Bush remained in the second grade classroom for 8 or 9 minutes, after Andrew Card whispered under attack.

Tampa Bay Online - 8 or 9 minutes

Daniels, you see, was standing near Bush last Sept. 11 when White House chief of staff Andrew Card whispered of tragedies in the presidential ear. Precisely what Card said is uncertain, but he reportedly told Bush who already knew a commercial plane had struck the north tower of New York's World Trade Center - that the south tower also had been hit. In that instant, Daniels says, she knew ``this wasn't the same person who had sat down in that chair.'' Bush grimaced and, obviously lost in thought, forgot about the book in his lap. Daniels squirmed, silently. Her second-graders stared. ``Pet Goat,'' the chosen story, was suddenly put out to pasture. Seconds passed in silence - 15, 30, maybe more. Slowly, Bush picked up his book and read with the students for eight or nine minutes. Then he advised the kids to stay in school and told them to be good citizens, stepped away to confer with aides, returned to give Daniels' a firm handshake, and left.

The time-frame becomes important - that address to teachers, parents, and students was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. - why didn't Bush or secret service agents cancel it?

The question that must be answered now is was Bush told that military jets had been scrambled prior to his entering Mrs. Daniels' second grade classroom?

If he was informed by Rice, jets have been scrambled, with permission from Air Force Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold and then he was informed by Andrew Card of the second plane crash, and America was under attack, why did the Bush remain in the classroom, when he could have given the necessary order to ground all commercial and private airplanes?

Why didn't the President of the United States give the order to first ground all flights, then if a plane did not respond, order to shoot down errant planes immediately after Andrew Card whispered the news that America was under attack?

Instead, we are apprised in one article that Bush didn't give the order to ground airplanes until in the limo, on the way to Air Force One.

9:30 a.m.

Remarks by the President After Two Planes Crash Into World Trade Center

Emma Booker Elementary School

9:31 a.m. to 9:57 a.m

Bush issued the grounding of all flights in the country order from his car

editor-at-large, Robert Plunket

At 11:30 the President called Miller and Putnam into his private office in the front of Air Force One and explained what was going on. His demeanor, Miller reports, was calm and serious. They were flying at 45,000 feet, he told them, high above any other planes, and they were headed for an undisclosed location. There had been credible threats against Air Force One, and they were currently being escorted by six jet fighters. Even though the President had already ordered the grounding of all flights in the countryan order he issued from his car en route to the Sarasota airportseveral were still unaccounted for. It was impossible to rule out the possibility of further attacks. - THE PRESIDENT IN SARASOTA

What started out as a press junket for editor-at-large Robert Plunket turned into a spot on the sidelines of history.

What we do not have is a president who made any kind of a normal reaction to these unparalleled events in United States history of AVIATION! Or in the history of the world, for that matter. The discrepancy between stories aside, that is, whether Bush saw the first plane crash on TV while waiting in the hallway of the school building to go in to read with the children, or whether Rice called him - either way, he made no reaction to the horrifying news of a plane full of possibly all American citizens losing their lives in a plane crash into the WTC! Absolutely no initial reaction!

How many minutes passed from the time of Andrew Card whispering news of a second airplane crash in the WTC to the time the president said: What in the hell happened here this morning?

Why didn't Bush give the order to ground all planes at the exact minute he knew America was under attack? Those six minutes were critical minutes, between the time of 9:07 a.m. and 9:13 a.m.

Why didn't Bush give the order to ground all planes when he was in the E. E. Booker Elementary School holding room between the times of 9:12/9:13 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.?

worldmessenger - How long did the president remain reading with children?

How long Bush remained in Mrs. Daniels' second grade classroom at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School has been ignored by the mainstream press. - The day that transformed the presidency

©New York Times

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 16, 2001

The press seems absolutely uninterested in this little time capsule of the Bush presidency.

The national focus was turned from the minutes Bush remained in the second grade classroom to the Air Force One, with a developing controversy surrounding Bush's hopscotching the country.

It is solely because the media pressed that issue to the forefront rather than the six minutes President Bush remained in the second grade classroom listening to children read that we turn our attention to that time frame.

What those minutes reveal about the presidency of George W. Bush will be heard loud and clear?

startribune - Here is what children across the country are reading about that morning: As soon as the president left the school, Card said, it was clear that the Bush presidency had been transformed.

What are the children of today learning about President Bush? What will the children of the future learn about the Bush presidency?

It is the mission of this site to show the defining minutes of the Bush legacy - some six minutes as it will be confirmed - of inaction, with the President of the United States seeming to go
in and out of focus, according to one pool reporter. Showing these minutes , the minutes Bush remained in Mrs. Daniels' second grade classroom, rather than the minutes in the holding room and the hours crisscossing the country that day as those which define President George W. Bush and his presidency is done for one reason, the children of our nation. It is the children who must learn the truth of the history of the times they live in.

This effort is not taken lightly. The effort is as valuable as that of Bill Sammon's undertaking to define President Bush as a
caring president. - In Florida, Bush was reading to children in a classroom at 9:05 a.m. when his chief of staff, Andrew Card, whispered into his ear. The president briefly turned somber before he resumed reading. He addressed the tragedy about a half-hour later.

september11news - On the morning of Word of the tragedy first came to President Bush in the hallway of a school in Sarasota, Fla., moments after the first plane hit New York's World Trade Center. He went to a private room, where he spoke by phone with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice; it appeared then that the matter could be just a terrible accident. Then, at 9:04 a.m., while Bush met with second-graders, staff chief Andrew H. Card Jr. whispered in his ear that a second plane had struck. Bush's sunny countenance went grim. After Card's whisper, Bush looked distracted and somber but continued to listen to the second-graders read and soon was smiling again. He joked that they read so well, they must be sixth-graders. After huddling with advisers, Bush entered the school's media center for what was to have been an education speech. He looked stunned, but by the time he reached the podium, he was composed and at 9:30 a.m. delivered the chilling news of "an apparent terrorist attack on our country."

News reports contain various times when Bush was informed of the first plane crash and the second plane crash by Andrew Card's whisper. The fact that Bush remained in the room for some period of time is undisputed.

petehamill - The Days That Shook New York

petehamill - Who is Pete Hamill?