Declassified Documents Reveal Bush, Cheney 9/11 Reactions


Former President George W. Bush is informed of the attacks on September 11, 2001 | Image by FOX

Documents revealing reactions from former President George W. Bush and then Vice President Dick Cheney to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, have been made public for the first time.

The National Archives have declassified 31 pages of notes from the 9/11 Commission on an interview that was held with Bush and Cheney on April 29, 2004, regarding the attacks and the circumstances surrounding them.

During the interview, Bush recalled giving Cheney the authority to authorize the shooting down of a plane if necessary.

“If something happens to the president in an emergency, there would be even more chaos. The Secret Service was aware of this too,” the interview notes read. “After the vice president gets [to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center], the president and the vice president talked about the rules of engagement.”

The documents continue, “The president understood this from his experience in the Texas Air National Guard. He had been trained to shoot down planes. He understood generally how this worked — one plane would lock on, one would ID.”

“He understood the consequences for the pilot, how a pilot might feel to get the order to shoot down a U.S. airliner. It would be tough. He and Dick discussed it. He talked about what it would look like. Yes, engage the enemy. You have the authority to shoot down an airplane,” the commission recorded.

In his 2010 memoir, Decision Points, Bush wrote that he and Cheney initially thought the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania resulted from a shootdown order.

This coincides with the 9/11 Commission’s interview notes, which state, “Then they heard that an aircraft was down in Pennsylvania. The Vice President thought we’d shot it down. It took a while to sort this out. In the next half hour there were two or three occasions like this: a report of an incoming, would he reiterate authorization? Yes.”

“In every case, though, the problem was resolved without shots being fired. Later in the day, there were other reports of incidents … a jet squawking a hijack code, a Korean Airlines jet. There was a lot of this, five reports during the day of hijacked planes. None turned out to be true,” the documents read.

The notes also record how Bush and Cheney were questioned about some of the intelligence controversies regarding the attack. Tom Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, asked Bush about his August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Brief entitled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.

Bush said in the interview, as he did publicly, that the document was a summary of what was then known about Al-Qaeda rather than a detailed assessment of then-current intelligence. Bush also stressed that he personally asked for the report.

“The report itself was historical in nature. It said what al Qaeda was doing,” according to the notes. “He had known that since he had become President … Bin Laden had long been talking about his desire to attack America. There was some operational data on the FBI. That 70 investigations were underway was heartening, that this was taking place.”

Bush told the commission that the government was then developing a strategy to eliminate Bin Laden’s threats. Both he and Cheney discussed pushing Saudi Arabia to take more action in cracking down on terrorism.

“They had also worked on relations with Saudi Arabia. This was a difficult problem. Crown Prince Abdullah was … disgruntled with the United States.” the report states. “The Vice President had phoned him in July and could talk about that.”

“He went over what was known to him about the al Qaeda and Bin Laden threat. He said the U.S. wanted to send a team to Saudi Arabia to alert Saudi counterparts about a potential attack,” according to the documents.

Bush said that a “fundamental” problem facing every United States president was how to handle the Saudis, considering that “some found favor with al Qaeda and the extremists, supporting their radical policies.”

The declassified report can be read in full here.

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2 months ago

It always amazes me as to why.
Why, if they truly thought the USA was under attack, didn’t the SS evacuate the president immediately?
Why, didn’t GW return to finish reading to the class at a later time?

2 months ago

I clicked on it where it said click here and see the whole report. Nothing happened didn’t see nothing. But I wonder why they’re lifes are more important then the people on the plane they shot down. They need to apologize to every one of the people’s family. Maybe compensate them for their loss. And why we had not knowed about this the declass before now.

Reply to  David
2 months ago

There were no shots fired.

2 months ago

I remember it clear as day when CNN reported two F16’s launched from Langley to intercept an aircraft over Ohio heading toward DC. That was the last time it was ever mentioned. I do not buy into conspiracy theories but that i one memory burned into the brain.

2 months ago

Want to know real truth about 9-11 just read about it.



2 months ago

He was in a elementary school surrounded by babies because he knew that the White House was on the list. His legacy killed so many.