This is an amazing article. I don’t believe in the conspiracies hinted at by the articles (although they are not far-fetched). The article raises many puzzling questions. First, although the Secret Service in Florida seemed aware of the second WTC attack before Bush began his appearance at the elementary school, the information did not trickle to Bush until the reading session began. Second, according to a video available at the website, Bush sat in his chair for 5-10 minutes with the children after being told by Andrew Card that his country was under attack. Admittedly, it was an awkward and disconcerting situation for Bush and his entourage, but it still leaves unanswered why Bush wasn’t whisked away immediately after being told (especially when delays in Presidential Orders might have jeopardized response time from the US military). Fourth, apparently, Bush flew from Air Force One at 10:00 AM without any sort of military escort. This air escort didn’t arrive for at least an hour. Imagine that–the nation with the most powerful military machine in the world had sent the US president unescorted into airspace when it was clear that dozens of airplanes were flying unaccounted for (and possible suspects for hijacking). All this is less a statement of Bush’s failures than the missteps that occur at the opening moments of any crisis situation. It is also a sign that our government leaders, despite the bravado and confidence of our military might, are not invulnerable or omniscient. It is simply impossible for any organization to filter information fast enough to arrive at a coherent policy of action. It is also worrisome that the White House press spokesmen failed to correct details in previous statements it gave to the press which were later proved to be inaccurate. I realize that press spokesmen have lots of things on their mind, but this only illustrates that the White House primary mission is not factual accuracy, but the presentation of facts in a way that support the president’s positions. In an age of one or two day news cycles, it is easy for the White House to give out information that is later shown to be inaccurate without the need to make corrections when necessary. That is why we need a vigilant press now more than ever.
Finally, look at this amazing photo: .
This impromptu televised speech occurred about 10 minutes after the president had talked to his advisors about the terrorist threats. Keep in mind that he had already finished the classroom and had talked to his advisors for about 10 minutes about the situation. Then he returned to the classroom, where the students and teacher were herded behind him. This event was almost completely choreographed to maximize the poignancy of the situation. Even in times of political crisis, the presidential handlers were making sure that the delivery of the message looked pretty.