New 9/11 Audio Shows Military Ignored Cheney's Orders As Outside Chain Of Command

Those air-traffic control 9/11 tapes are just riveting. While I don't know that we'll ever know everything that happened on that chaotic day, it's progress that pieces of the real story are finally coming out:

Newly published audio this week reveals that Vice President Dick Cheney's infamous Sept. 11, 2001 order to shoot down rogue civilian aircraft was ignored by military officials, who instead ordered pilots to only identify suspect aircraft.

That revelation is one of many in newly released audio recordings compiled by investigators for the 9/11 Commission, published this week by The Rutgers Law Review. Featuring voices from employees at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and American Airlines, the newly released multimedia provides a glimpse at the chaos that emerged as the attack progressed.

Most striking of all is the revelation that an order by Vice President Dick Cheney was ignored by the military, which saw his order to shoot down aircraft as outside the chain of command. Instead of acknowledging the order to shoot down civilian aircraft and carrying it out, NORAD ordered fighters to confirm aircraft tail numbers first and report back for further instructions.

Cheney's order was given at "about 10:15" a.m., according to the former VP's memoirs, but the 9/11 Commission Report shows United Flight 93 going down at 10:06 a.m. Had the military followed Cheney's order, civilian aircraft scrambling to get out of the sky could have been shot down, exponentially amplifying the day's tragedy.

Far from sending fighters to chase after the hijacked aircraft, as Bush administration officials have repeatedly said they did, the new audio tapes paint a picture of bedlam and unpreparedness.The situation was so chaotic, military officials received the exact location of one of the aircraft that hit the World Trade Center towers just nine minutes before impact. It even took a military official calling the FAA some 30 minutes after American Airlines Flight 77 went off course before the nation's defense apparatus began scrambling. Moments later the jet is said to have slammed into the Pentagon.

UPDATE: John Amato:

In my earlier piece called Dick Cheney Claims He -- Not Bush -- Was The Decider, Cheney did not have the authority to order the military to shoot down any planes and they correctly ignored him because they do understand something called the chain of command. His follies could have led to many more Americans being hurt or killed. George Bush was alive and well at the time of the attacks and he has to be the one commanding the military and not Vice President Cheney, even if he believed he was the real Decider. Yet he bloviated in his new book how his life experiences had prepared him to take charge of the response to the 9/11 attacks.

Cheney was asked by Jamie Gangel of ABC News if Bush would be upset by these reveals, but replied with a nonchalant "no". But just think about what he is admitting to: as the 9/11 attacks were happening, Cheney has no problem revealing in his book that he was running the government response, completely against protocol.

The book opens with an account of Mr. Cheney’s experiences during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he essentially commanded the government’s response from a bunker beneath the White House while Mr. Bush — who was away from Washington and hampered by communications breakdowns — played a peripheral role. But Mr. Cheney wrote that he did not want to make any formal statement to the nation that day.

“My past government experience,” he wrote, “had prepared me to manage the crisis during those first few hours on 9/11, but I knew that if I went out and spoke to the press, it would undermine the president, and that would be bad for him and for the country.

“We were at war. Our commander in chief needed to be seen as in charge, strong, and resolute — as George W. Bush was.”

Bush should have been in control that tragic day, not Cheney, since he was the elected president and was not incapacitated from doing his duties.

His breaking of long standing US protocol had previously been reported, but this audio confirms the truth of that horrific situation.

Perhaps in his haste to act -- President Bush was in Florida at the time -- Cheney might have shortcut White House protocol, the report said. The normal chain of command for military "engage" orders goes from the president to the Secretary of Defense, and not through the Vice President, it said.

Although Cheney said he conferred with the president before giving the order, the commission staff could not confirm that a phone call took place in that time frame. Several minutes after giving the order, Cheney informed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that he had done so. "So we've got a couple of aircraft up there that have those instructions at the present time?" Rumsfeld asked. "That is correct," Cheney replied. "And it's my understanding they've already taken a couple of aircraft out." That understanding turned out to be mistaken.
Perhaps in his haste to act -- President Bush was in Florida at the time -- Cheney might have shortcut White House protocol, the report said. The normal chain of command for military "engage" orders goes from the president to the Secretary of Defense, and not through the Vice President, it said.

Although Cheney said he conferred with the president before giving the order, the commission staff could not confirm that a phone call took place in that time frame. Several minutes after giving the order, Cheney informed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that he had done so. "So we've got a couple of aircraft up there that have those instructions at the present time?" Rumsfeld asked. "That is correct," Cheney replied. "And it's my understanding they've already taken a couple of aircraft out." That understanding turned out to be mistaken.

Why hasn't any reporters asked President Bush why he was unable to communicate with the military at such a crucial time in our history, but could apparently talk to Cheney? And then they could ask Cheney why he thought he was above the law, yet again?

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