Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Bush and Rumsfeld, off duty
It’s a funny coincidence that at America’s greatest moment of need, in the middle of the attacks on September 11, both the President of the United States and his Secretary of Defense managed to make themselves unavailable to make decisions. Bush sat reading books to a school of children in Florida. A few minutes later, after the attack on the Pentagon, Rumsfeld busied himself applying first aid to the injured. From an ABC News transcript of a broadcast aired on the first anniversary of 9-11, describing the events of that day (my emphasis):
"04:07:51 CHARLES GIBSON, ABC NEWS
(VO) Among those helping the wounded and injured is the 69-year-old Rumsfeld himself.
04:07:56 DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
There was a, a young woman bleeding, sitting on the ground, and I think she said to me, she didn’t know who I was, she said, she could see people holding, drips going into people, IV of some kind, and she said, something to the effect, if people would, if someone could bring that person over, I could hold it.
04:08:25 CHARLES GIBSON, ABC NEWS
(VO) The Secretary of Defense is outside the burning building, while inside the Pentagon, . . .
04:08:31 BRIGADIER GENERAL W MONTAGUE WINFIELD, US ARMY
For 30 minutes we couldn’t find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the National Military Command Center."
This shows either an unbelievable lack of judgment on Rumsfeld’s part, or something much darker. Can you believe that the Secretary of Defense would disappear for half an hour, supposedly to render help with first aid (!?), while the country was obviously under attack? That particular half hour was crucial, with one hijacked plane still in the air. From an interview with Larry King (my emphasis):
"Rumsfeld: I had said at an 8:00 o’clock breakfast that sometime in the next two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve months there would be an event that would occur in the world that would be sufficiently shocking that it would remind people again how important it is to have a strong healthy defense department that contributes to – That underpins peace and stability in our world. And that is what underpins peace and stability.
In fact we can’t have healthy economies and active lives unless we live in a peaceful, stable world, and I said that to these people. And someone walked in and handed a note that said that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. And we adjourned the meeting, and I went in to get my CIA briefing –
King: Right next door is your office.
Rumsfeld: – right next door here, and the whole building shook within 15 minutes.
King: It was a jarring thing. And you ran toward the smoke?
Rumsfeld: Uh huh.
Rumsfeld: Goodness. Who knows? I wanted to see what had happened. I wanted to see if people needed help. I went downstairs and helped for a bit with some people on stretchers. Then I came back up here and started – I realized I had to get back up here and get at it."
Rumsfeld’s presence was particularly important given the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction CJCSI 3610.01A dated June 1, 2001, which required Secretary of Defense approval of Department of Defense assistance to the FAA in cases of aircraft hijacking (although I note that such approval was not necessary if an immediate response was required as defined in paragraph 4.7.1 of Department of Defense directive 3025.15, and CJCSI 3610.10A modifies CJCSI 3610.10 to make this clear, meaning that CJCSI 3610.10A isn’t the ‘smoking gun’ that some people think it is to prove Bush Administration complicity in 9-11). Rumsfeld should have been available to make decisions, and he is not so stupid as to be unaware of that fact. His absence had to have been intentional. Bush’s case is now even more famous because of Michael Moore’s film. The Secret Service, as a matter of automatic contingency planning, should have immediately whisked Bush away from the school, as his continued presence there when the country was obviously under attack, a presence that was a matter of public knowledge, put him and the country at risk. The Secret Service quickly moved senior members of Congress to safety, and manhandled Cheney off to some secret lair (I wonder if he told them to go fuck themselves as they frog-marched him to safety?). Wolfowitz was helicoptered out of the Pentagon so he wouldn’t be in the same place as Rumsfeld. They left Bush a sitting duck. Is it possible that Bush’s continued reading to the children was part of the plot? After all, he did so in full view of the cameras, and we can all see the evidence. While he was there, he did not have to make any decisions that might have adversely affected the ongoing terrorist attacks. His filmed reading to the little kiddies is the perfect alibi.