Bush reaction: the very odd behaviour of a president on 9/11


By Craig McKee

“America is under attack.”

These were the words spoken by White House chief of staff Andrew Card to President George W. Bush as he sat in a Florida classroom just after 9 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001. Bush had been listening as the students read a story called The Pet Goat.

The moment was immortalized for comedic effect in Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 911. Bush looked stunned and confused: like he had no idea what to do. After a few agonizing seconds, he reached for the book and began following along. He sat there for approximately eight minutes reading while all hell was breaking loose in the skies.

But to focus on how incompetent he looked is to risk missing the real point. He may have been in over his head, but there are more serious implications of his behaviour than just incompetence.

Let’s look at Bush’s reaction in context: by the time he received the news from Card, it was known to his top advisors that two hijacked airliners had been flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center. They also knew that a third plane was off course, out of contact, and presumed to be hijacked. It could have been heading to the White House, the Capital Building, or even to Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida where Bush and the kids were reading.

Bush’s schedule had been public for several days, so there was no way to know whether terrorists intended to target him at the school. His life could have been in danger, to say nothing of the lives of the children.

Did he then move swiftly to a waiting car so that he could take charge of the response to this catastrophic attack? No, he remained at the school for another 20 minutes, making a brief scheduled speech before leaving the school. The time now was 9:30 a.m.

Incredibly, he seemed to feel no need to respond to the crisis. And neither did his staff. When Card informed Bush that the second tower had been hit, he didn’t wait for a response or for instructions. He didn’t suggest the president leave immediately. He moved away.

Did the Secret Service leap into action to get him to safety without delay? No, they let him continue listening to The Pet Goat.

The real question is whether his reaction – or non reaction – to news of the unfolding terrorist attacks meant that he knew what was going to happen before it did. He didn’t have to rush out of the school because he knew there was no further danger.

Let’s look at the most curious thing Bush has said about that morning. When asked by a young person at a town hall meeting in December 2001 how he felt when he heard the towers had been hit, he responded this way:

“…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.”

Bush could not have seen the first plane hit because the first plane hitting the tower was not broadcast on TV until later that day.

Was he lying or just mistaken? I find the “the TV was obviously on” comment to sound like the kind of thing you’d say when you were lying and trying to sound casual, but that’s just a personal impression.

Also, Bush says: “I was whisked off there – I didn’t have much time to think…”

We know this isn’t true. He stayed in the school for another half hour. At no time was he in a hurry to leave. There were numerous accounts that later supported the story that he left immediately, including those of Andrew Card and the teacher in the classroom. But we know he didn’t.

What’s even more odd is that Bush repeated his claim to have seen the first crash a month later in another town hall meeting.

“…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.”

It might be possible to get confused about the order that things happened, or who told you what, but to say TWICE that you saw the first impact on TV is incredible. It suggests one of two things: he lied about seeing the impact on the TV, or he did see a private feed of the impact. This of course could only have happened if he and his handlers knew it would happen in advance.

Could he have been referring to seeing the second impact? No, because he was already with the children when that happened at 9:03. We know that because it was the second crash that Card leaned over to tell him about.

There are several other versions of how Bush found out about the first plane hitting the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. Some have him getting word in the limousine as he approached Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida; he would have been in the car when it happened. Other reports indicate that he didn’t find out until he arrived at the school just before 9 a.m.

Can you imagine being mistaken about seeing the first plane hit? It’s not the kind of thing you forget or imagine.

What can explain Bush’s bizarre behaviour? Why didn’t his handlers get him out of a potentially very dangerous situation – for him and everyone else in the school? And why has no journalist held him to account for his actions that morning?

11 comments

  1. Awesome!
    I have been making this same argument since this horrible day happened. I don’t understand how there has not been more investigations done about it.

    Glad to be able to read your thoughts and opinions again Craig. Keep up the great work :)

    Kathy

    1. Thanks Kathy. Great to hear from you. And I’m glad to hear that you’re among those who are looking for answers about this. The reason there haven’t been more investigations (official, anyway) of this is that the majority of people don’t want to take the trouble to inform themselves about what happened. And without pressure, the powers that be will remain smug about how untouchable they are. But it’s also understandable that people are thinking about this because the mainstream media has REFUSED in most cases to ask the important questions. If anything happens, it’ll come from the grassroots level. That means people like us. Thanks a lot for reading. There’s a lot more coming.

  2. This is not an accurate article. Bush did respond to the attacks while still at the school. In the speech you mentioned he addressed it. Also, he stayed at the school a bit to get a briefing of the current situation as it was known.

    1. I’m afraid you’re incorrect. I stated that he made a scheduled speech. While he certainly commented on the World Trade Center in the speech, it was still scheduled. And I wrote that he did not respond to the attacks. I didn’t mean he didn’t mention them, I mean that he didn’t take action. He should have taken command immediately. He should have been whisked out of the school immediately. He should not have sat around reading with the kiddies while the country was allegedly under attack. Even the briefing you referred to should not have taken place at the school where his presence was endangering the children and staff.

    1. I considered this “official” explanation, but it fails to stand up even a little bit. First, do you really think they care, or should care, about kids being alarmed when the country is supposedly under attack? If this had been a real threat, then Bush would have been a potential target. Leaving him in a place known to the public for another half an hour is ludicrous. It would never happen. He would actually be putting the kids’ lives in danger by staying.

      And don’t you find it strange that Andrew Card tells him America is under attack and he doesn’t ask, “By who?” He just hears the ambiguous news and sits there. He even gives a speech from the school before being whisked away.
      And to top it off, he tells a story later of seeing the first plane hit on TV even though he couldn’t have seen either of them hit live.

  3. Response “What could be more important for a President of the United States to do than to react at that moment when he hears the words ‘The country is under attack’?”

    1) uh remain calm, collected, and in control.
    2) don’t cause any more panic and fear to others than what you already feel yourself.
    3) seriously what can you really do at that point? you’ve already been attacked = 1 step behind. you’re security agents are already on the case. so lets give the image that everything’s fine.

    you think just because he’d left 7 minutes earlier, rush to a save location and begin giving out commands on what to do would change anything? he doesn’t even know the extent of the situation. the agents are engaged out on the field dealing with the attack. the president is a puppet, the ‘face’ of america. the face of freedom, liberty, security, power, goodness, etc. he doesn’t really have a say on the battle field. the general does, and the general is already out there dealing with the problem. he’s the executive, he’s the brain, he’s the one to remain calm, keep everyone around him calm and not cause any additional internal turmoil.

    i say he sat there in the classroom was a very natural human reaction. you people are just paranoid for nit picking everything humans do.

  4. look, as the president aka the information decision brain of america, he knows who’s behind the attack. you’d know that if you just got informed that your wife got fucked by some guy, you’d know to some extent, you’d have an idea who that might be… he was probably shocked that america wasn’t prepared enough for such an attack and probably didn’t believe the bluffs or prepare for the inevitable, but regardless of how he felt, leaving early 7 minutes and reacting ‘right away’ isn’t going to do much except cause suspicion and panic. you say he could’ve reacted when he heard, because this is all in hindsight. at the moment, you’d do the same to remain the fuck calm. plus the footage of him remaining calm shows the image of ‘in control’ and that image is waaay more important to the world that America’s got its shit under control than having the president, aka the face, the image, the puppet of america, rush out the door in a panic, that shows instability, and the world would look down and find america to be not as hyped up as it is. look the reality is grim. america isn’t all that powerful. but it is necessary to project such an image of #1, for this vagueness and secrecy is what protects the country. just like how you would conduct yourself in a calm cool manner in public. you don’t wanna look like an insecure freak. you’d get taken advantage of. people this is all common sense.

    1. Common Sense? Lol

      You don’ have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

      The “president” {Lol} was in a public place, and known to be there. His Secret Service detail, charged with protecting the President of the United States, broke every rule in the book by not physically removing the President from that open and obvious danger to his person.

      Looking at this from a smug colloquial position of an uninformed individual may be “common sense” – but it is preposterous. Your argument is ludicrous.

      This is a message from the future [2014] – so I doubt if our silly commentator will ever see this answer to his goofball soliloquy – but this is for any readers who come upon this later.
      \\][//

  5. Readers of the following won’t believe me. I’ve always stated that i would never reveal what I know to be true, unless I first had a lie detector test. I would prefer it to occur on TV, for a permanent record. I trusted an A-list internationally famous celeb to assist me in telling my story publicly. He knew who I was before we formally met, in part because of my shocking story. I have waited long enough. I live in Las Vegas. I’m open to serious inquiries.

    Former President Bush was given the very specific details of the well-planned 9/11 attack, almost one month in advance. He chose to ignore the info, and the warnings, because he didn’t believe the source. No one in America had anything to do with the tragedy. However the powers that be could easily have prevented it with the facts that were provided.

    What was Bush’s immediate reaction when he heard about the first plane crash? He looked at his watch.
    Why was it so important for him to know the exact time at that moment? He had been told the exact time that the crash would occur. It was within 5 min of the prediction.

    Why didn’t he ask who the attackers were? He had also been told that answer, as well as all other pertinent details.

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