Bush at Booker School

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President Bush arrived at a Florida school shortly before the second plane hit the World Trade Center, and the world suddenly realised that the first impact was no accident. However he continued with his photocall, and when that had ended, remained at the school while making phone calls, and wouldn't leave until around 9:35. What does this mean? Illarion Bykov and Jared Israel believe there's only one explanation:

We're constantly told that no, 9/11 wouldn't have required a lot of people to pull off, compartmentalisation and the "need to know" would have limited those with inside knowledge. And yet claims such as this keep adding more people to the list. Because plainly, you couldn't simply have one or two security service personnel knowing Bush wouldn't be attacked: it would have to be all, to avoid confusion and people speaking out. And enough of the hierarchy for them not to be disciplined about it later.

If this were true, then the conspirators have now got another large group of people who, if any of them were to go public, could blow the whole story. Because it doesn't matter what else they know, simply saying that they knew Bush was safe would be a serious leak. And the gain to the conspirators of letting these people know is what, exactly? How does giving the security service advance knowledge of the attack, then letting them behave in what's claimed to be an unrealistic way, help the conspiracy at all?

Let's also remember that Bush was also criticised for his actions after leaving school, as he flew around the country rather than return to Washington. Are we to believe that he knew he was safe in Florida, but believed he might still be in danger afterwards? What kind of faulty foreknowledge is this?

Perhaps there's an alternative explanation for the actions of the security service, then. Maybe they weren't sure where to take him, for instance. How did they know that the attackers might not be relying on Bush being moved? Perhaps there was a truck bomb waiting for Bush to be moved to the airport. Maybe there was an ambush planned there. What if Air Force One was the target? The Security Service staff at the school with Bush did not have an overview of what was going on, and as Bush was in an area that was secure on the ground, at least, then surely it's reasonable to take time to consider where Bush should go next. And take guidance from someone who was in the loop, back at the White House.

Those who suggest this wouldn't be reasonable at all point to Cheney as one possible example:

However, it's not exactly clear what this is supposed to prove. If Cheney was immediately evacuated, then doesn't that show he, or at least his security service team, didn't know what would happen? And in terms of the action they took, Cheney was simply moved from one part of the White House to a more secure area. There's no plausible way this could expose him to risk, which isn't something you could say about moving Bush.

Of course the problem with discussing this, is most of those involved have no real idea what they're talking about. I'm a Brit: even if you like what I do on this site, why should you trust my guesses about US security service procedure? And much the same applies for those on the other side of the argument. Unless they have an in-depth knowledge of situations like this, why should you take their opinions as fact?

So let's forget our opinions, then, and look at an account of how this was seen on that day. It's the one Richard Clarke gave us in his book Against All Enemies, and while brief, it's still interesting:

Bush delivered his remarks at around 9:30, so if Clarke's timeline is correct then the Director of the Secret Service is only now organising a move. It appears Stafford doesn't want to simply "get Bush out of the school", either -- he wants assistance in planning what their next move should be, from Clarke, who was the man in charge of the White House Situation Room at the time. Which surely was a reasonable idea.

Anyone intent on proving conspiracy could spice this up with guesses, assumptions and speculation, obviously. They might move on to say this simply proves Stafford wasn't doing his job properly, say. Or maybe Clarke lied about the whole thing to provide a cover. Of course a simpler explanation might be that the actions of Bush's security detail on 9/11 weren't so hard to understand after all, to those with real inside knowledge.



President Bush listens to news coverage of the World Trade Center terrorist attack at Emma Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Fla., Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/The White House, Eric Draper


President Bush watches video footage of the terrorist attack upon the World Trade Center from Emma Booker Elementary in Sarasota, Fla., Sept. 11, 2001. As Director of Communications Dan Bartlett points to news footage of the World Trade Center Towers burning, President Bush gathers information about the attack. Also photographed are Director of White House Situation Room, National Security Council, Deborah Loewer, directly behind the President, and Senior Advisor Karl Rove, right. (AP Photo/The White House, Eric Draper)


President Bush turns to watch live coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center while at Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Fla., Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/The White House, Eric Draper)