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The Secret Service and President Bush on 9/11

 
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Shoestring
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Trustworthy Freedom Fighter


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:06 am    Post subject: The Secret Service and President Bush on 9/11 Reply with quote

Here is my new blog entry, in which I look in detail at President Bush's visit to the Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, on the morning of September 11. I consider, in particular, why the Secret Service allowed Bush to continue with the routine visit in the middle of the 9/11 attacks, when even some members of the president's entourage were worried that terrorists might attack the school. I have included a lot of new or little-known information.

You can read the original article, with links to sources, on my blog, here:
http://shoestring911.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/why-did-secret-service-lea ve-president.html

Why Did the Secret Service Leave the President and a School Full of Children in Danger in the Middle of the 9/11 Attacks?

President George W. Bush was allowed to continue with a routine visit to a school when the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11, 2001. Remarkably, members of the Secret Service and other personnel responsible for protecting the president failed to evacuate him from the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, after they learned that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and it became clear that America was under attack.

As the nation's leader, Bush should have been considered a likely target for terrorists. Furthermore, his schedule had been publicized in advance and so terrorists could have found out where he would be on September 11.

And yet, after arriving there shortly before 9:00 a.m. on September 11, Bush was allowed to stay at the Booker Elementary School until around 9:35 a.m.--almost 50 minutes after the first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center and over 30 minutes after the second hijacked plane hit the Trade Center. He left the school just two or three minutes before a third attack occurred, when the Pentagon was struck.

The Secret Service's failure to promptly evacuate Bush from the school is particularly baffling in light of the accounts of some key officials who were with the president that morning, in which these men recalled being worried that the school would be attacked. There were even concerns that terrorists might crash a plane into it. The failure to evacuate the school is also alarming in that it left hundreds of people there--not just the president--potentially in danger.

It would be wrong to attribute the inaction of the Secret Service to incompetence. Agents who were in Sarasota for Bush's visit to the city were highly skilled individuals. They arranged extensive security measures for the visit, and they acted with great urgency and professionalism as they protected Bush after he left the school. They appear to have only failed to adequately protect the president for a period of about 40 minutes in the middle of the 9/11 attacks, after he arrived at the school.

We need to consider, therefore, whether the inaction of the Secret Service at this critical time is evidence of something sinister. Could efforts have been made to somehow put the agents in Sarasota into a state of paralysis? They might, for example, have been tricked into thinking the reports they received about the terrorist attacks in New York were simulated, as part of a training exercise.

The inaction of the Secret Service could in fact be evidence that, in contradiction to the official narrative of 9/11, rogue individuals in the U.S. government were involved in planning and perpetrating the terrorist attacks on September 11.

NO ONE CALLED THE PRESIDENT ABOUT THE FIRST CRASH DURING THE DRIVE TO THE SCHOOL
On the morning of September 11, 2001, President Bush was scheduled to visit the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, where he planned to take part in a reading demonstration, and then talk to parents and teachers about his education policies. [1]

His motorcade left the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, where he'd spent the previous night, at around 8:39 a.m. on September 11 and headed to the school. At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. [2] Numerous people in the motorcade, including White House officials, military officers, and journalists, learned about the crash as they were being driven to the school. [3] But no one called the president to tell him what had happened.

Bush was first informed about the crash at around 8:55 a.m., when he arrived at the school. Navy Captain Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, ran up to him and said, "Mr. President, the Situation Room is reporting that one of the World Trade Center towers has been hit by a plane." "This is all we know," she added. [4]

Bush was told about the crash again by Karl Rove, his senior adviser, as he was shaking hands with members of the official greeting party outside the school. [5] He has recalled thinking at the time that the incident must have been "a terrible accident." [6]

He then talked on the phone with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who was at the White House. She told him the plane that struck the World Trade Center was a commercial jetliner, not a light aircraft. But Bush still thought the crash was an accident and went ahead with the scheduled event. [7] At 9:02 a.m., he entered the second-grade classroom of teacher Sandra Kay Daniels to listen to the students reading. [8]

BUSH CONTINUED WITH THE READING EVENT AFTER BEING TOLD, 'AMERICA IS UNDER ATTACK'
A minute later, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Bush was alerted to what had happened at around 9:05 a.m. to 9:07 a.m., when Andrew Card, his chief of staff, approached him and whispered in his ear: "A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack." [9]

Despite receiving this devastating news, Bush carried on as if nothing was wrong. "In the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor," author James Bamford commented, "he simply turned back to the matter at hand: the day's photo op." [10] Significantly, author Philip Melanson pointed out, "no [Secret Service] agents were there to surround the president and remove him instantly." [11]

Bush listened to the children reading for five minutes, and then spent at least two minutes asking them questions and telling the school's principal about the second crash. [12] He left the classroom shortly before 9:15 a.m. [13] He was still sticking closely to his schedule, which specified that he would conclude his participation in the reading demonstration at 9:15 a.m. [14]

BUSH GAVE A SPEECH THAT WAS SHOWN LIVE ON TV
Even then, with the demonstration over, no effort was made to get the president away from the school. Instead, Bush spent the next 15 minutes in the "staff hold," a room adjacent to Daniels' classroom, where he talked on the phone with officials in Washington, DC, and worked on a statement he wanted to give before leaving the school. [15]

He entered the school library to deliver the statement at 9:30 a.m. This was the same time as he was originally set to address parents and teachers at the school. So, 44 minutes after the first attack on the World Trade Center and 27 minutes after the second, it was still apparently considered unnecessary to alter the president's schedule. The only change was that instead of discussing his education policies, Bush talked about the attacks in New York and announced that he would be heading back to Washington. [16]

The short speech was broadcast live on television and watched by millions of Americans. [17] If any terrorists had been unaware of the president's location before then, if they were watching TV, they knew now.

Bush only started to deviate from his schedule after he finished the speech. He was originally set to head out of the school at 9:55 a.m., with his limousine leaving there 10 minutes later and heading to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. [18] But due to the extraordinary circumstances, his motorcade left the school and speeded toward the airport at around 9:35 a.m.

During the journey to the airport, Bush talked on the phone with Condoleezza Rice and she told him the Pentagon had been attacked. [19] (The attack on the Pentagon took place at 9:37 a.m.) The motorcade reached the airport sometime between 9:42 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. Air Force One, the president's plane, took off without a fixed destination at around 9:55 a.m. [20]

BUSH'S LOCATION WAS PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE
The fact that the president was allowed to stick to his schedule and stay at the Booker Elementary School for 40 minutes while America was under attack is particularly alarming since Bush's plans for September 11 were publicly announced four days in advance and had then been reported in the media. If terrorists had wanted to kill the president as part of the 9/11 attacks, therefore, they could have found out where he would be on September 11 and tried to attack him while he was there.

On September 7, 2001, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer revealed in a press briefing that on the morning of September 11, Bush was going to be in Sarasota, where he would "continue his focus on reading and education." A transcript of the briefing would presumably have been published promptly on the White House website. [21] The president's plan to visit Sarasota was reported that day in newspapers such as the Washington Post and the Florida Times-Union. [22]

The most informative reports, unsurprisingly, appeared in a newspaper for Sarasota, where the planned visit was "big news," according to journalist and author Mark Bowden. [23] The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported on September 7 that Bush would "probably speak at a local school" when he visited Sarasota on September 11. [24] The following day, the newspaper revealed where the president would go during his visit. He planned to deliver "an education speech Tuesday morning at Emma E. Booker Elementary School," it reported. [25]

Some people who were at the Booker Elementary School on September 11 recognized the danger that existed because Bush's plans for the day had been publicized in advance. "The fact that the president would be at Booker Elementary at this hour, on this day, had been public knowledge for days," Mike Morell, Bush's CIA briefer, wrote. [26] Therefore, he commented, "anyone could have known about it." [27]

Karl Rove similarly stated: "The president's whereabouts were obviously known. Everybody knew exactly where he was, if you wanted to know." [28] Colonel Steve Burns of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office remarked, "The [president's] itinerary was known at least for several days prior to his visit to Sarasota, so it was a real concern that maybe there was additional targets, even being the school or something." [29]

MEMBERS OF BUSH'S ENTOURAGE WERE WORRIED THAT THE SCHOOL MIGHT BE ATTACKED
The failure of the Secret Service to promptly evacuate Bush from the Booker Elementary School in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center is also baffling considering that some members of his entourage believed at the time that the school might be attacked because of his presence there.

Members of Bush's Secret Service detail were worried that the president could be a target, according to Dave Wilkinson, assistant special agent in charge of the presidential protection division. They were asking each other, "Is there any direction of interest towards the president ... or is this just an attack on New York?" he recalled. [30]

Rove confirmed that the Secret Service thought the president could be a target while he was at the school. Bush's agents determined that the attacks "might be an effort to decapitate the government," he said. [31] This meant the terrorists wanted to "take all the leading officials and kill them." [32]

Mike Morell recalled "growing increasingly concerned about [the president's] safety" while Bush was in the staff hold, after the reading demonstration ended. [33] Among the president's staff there was a "fear of the unknown," according to Brian Montgomery, the White House's director of advance. "We didn't know if someone had put a biological agent or chemical agent at the school," he said. [34]

Some people were worried that terrorists would fly an aircraft into the school. Bush's Secret Service agents were concerned "that someone might fly an airplane into the Emma Booker Elementary School or there might be a ... suicide bomber nearby," Rove said. [35] Morell recalled that he was "really worried that someone was going to fly a plane into that school." [36] He contemplated telling Edward Marinzel, the head of Bush's Secret Service detail, about his concern, but decided not to after determining that Marinzel had probably already considered this scenario. [37]

Even some teachers, students, and parents recognized the potential danger to the school. There was "a fear by many parents that Booker Elementary was now a target by terrorists because of the president's visit," Clesha Henry, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, recalled. [38] Derek Jenkins, another teacher, stated that after Bush left the school, "One of my thoughts shifted to the fact that Emma E. Booker is located only a few miles from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and we could have very easily been a target as well." [39] Henry recalled a boy in her class saying: "I'm scared, Ms. Henry. Are we going to die?" [40]

SOME OFFICIALS WANTED TO EVACUATE BUSH AFTER THE SECOND ATTACK OCCURRED
Not only were some members of Bush's entourage concerned that the Booker Elementary School might be attacked, at least two key officials--Major Paul Montanus and Edward Marinzel--wanted the president to be evacuated from the place immediately after they learned of the second crash in New York.

Montanus, the military aide who accompanied Bush to the school, apparently called for an evacuation after seeing Flight 175 crashing into the World Trade Center on television, at 9:03 a.m. Just after 9:00 a.m., according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill was approached at the school by "a Marine responsible for carrying Bush's phone." This person was presumably Montanus, a Marine Corps officer. Montanus had heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, but little else about the incident in New York. He asked Balkwill, "Can you get me to a television?"

The two men, along with a SWAT team member and three Secret Service agents, went to an office at the school where there was a TV. There, they saw the coverage of Flight 175 hitting the South Tower. Presumably realizing that America was under attack, Montanus exclaimed, "We're out of here!" and asked, "Can you get everyone ready?" according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. According to his own recollection, he said: "What in God's name? We gotta get out of here!" [41]

Montanus's words should presumably have led to the president and his entourage being evacuated from the school immediately. "While the Secret Service is charged with protecting the president's actual body," Marist magazine explained, "it is the president's military aide ... who directs any evacuation" and the White House Military Office, which oversees the president's military aides, "that executes [the president's] safe passage." [42] And yet no evacuation took place at this time.

Marinzel appears to have been equally determined to get Bush away from the school after he learned about the second attack on the World Trade Center. After he was told about the second crash, he recalled: "Right then and there, things completely changed. We needed to figure out what we were going to do with the president." [43] Marinzel "wanted to get the hell out of [the school] as fast as possible," Mike Morell said. [44] He "was eager to get the president out of the school, to Air Force One, and airborne," Karl Rove described, and "immediately began making arrangements to beef up the motorcade and get it ready to move." [45]

Even Bush appears to have realized that he needed to be evacuated from the school promptly. Describing the situation while he was in the staff hold after the reading demonstration ended, he commented, "One thing for certain: I needed to get out of where I was." [46] And yet, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, while the Secret Service was "anxious to move the president to a safer location" at this time, it "did not think it imperative for him to run out the door." [47]

SOME PEOPLE DELAYED BUSH'S DEPARTURE FROM THE SCHOOL
Why Bush was allowed to stay at the school after the second crash at the World Trade Center occurred, especially in light of the desire of Montanus and Marinzel to get him away from there, is unknown. A few accounts, though, describe people delaying his departure.

Andrew Card apparently persuaded Secret Service agents to put off getting Bush away from the school until after the president had given his 9:30 a.m. speech from the library, according to Dave Wilkinson. After Marinzel told Bush, "We need to get you to Air Force One and get you airborne," Wilkinson recalled, the president's Secret Service agents "ended up with a compromise." This was because Card had said, "We have a whole auditorium full, waiting for the next event [i.e. Bush's speech]" and "there was no imminent threat there in Sarasota." It was therefore agreed that Bush could give his speech before leaving the school. [48]

The president's departure from the school was delayed by Bush himself, according to Frank Brogan, lieutenant governor of Florida. Brogan recalled that when he was with Bush in the staff hold, after the reading demonstration, "The Secret Service tried to get the president to return to Air Force One immediately, but he refused, saying he was committed to staying on the ground long enough to write a statement about what was happening, read it to the nation, and lead a moment of silence for the victims." [49] Bush "was courageously insistent about remaining on the ground to make a statement to the people of America," Brogan commented. [50]

Mark Rosenker, director of the White House Military Office, who was with the president at the school, indicated that Bush may have been allowed to stay at the school for such a long time because some people actually thought he was safe there. When asked in an interview, "In those early moments, there isn't a sense that the president could be in danger, is there?" he replied, "Not initially, the way we perceived it." The White House Military Office is "very conservative with the Secret Service," he added. [51]

THE SECRET SERVICE'S MISSION WAS TO KEEP THE PRESIDENT SAFE
The Secret Service is responsible for the protection of the president. [52] Various accounts have indicated that this agency, more than any other, should have ensured that Bush was promptly evacuated from the Booker Elementary School when it became clear that the U.S. was under terrorist attack on September 11.

The Secret Service is "responsible for protection of high-visibility officials and facilities that terrorists might target," a report by the Office of Management and Budget pointed out. [53] And in a "state of emergency"--like when America came under attack on September 11--its plan is "to get every protectee to a secure site," according to a National Geographic Channel documentary about the agency. [54]

The agency should decide what actions to take to protect the president, regardless of the president's demands, according to Dave Wilkinson. "By federal law, the Secret Service has to protect the president," he said. "The wishes of that person that day are secondary to what the law expects of us. Theoretically it's not his call, it's our call." [55]

The Secret Service should have evacuated Bush from the school immediately after the second attack took place, according to Philip Melanson, an expert on the agency. "With an unfolding terrorist attack, the procedure should have been to get the president to the closest secure location as quickly as possible, which clearly is not a school," Melanson stated. Bush would have been "safer in that presidential limo, which is bombproof and blastproof and bulletproof," he added. [56]

Melanson contrasted the inaction of Bush's agents at the school to the procedure that would normally have been followed if the president was considered to be in danger. "When there is a threat or intrusion at the White House," he wrote, "agents rush into the Oval Office, the family quarters, or wherever the president is, and immediately surround him and shut down the comings or goings of anyone--thus 'crashing' the Oval Office or the entire West Wing." [57]

GREAT CARE WAS TAKEN WITH THE PREPARATIONS FOR BUSH'S TRIP
The inaction of the Secret Service while Bush was at the Booker Elementary School in the middle of the 9/11 attacks stands out when we contrast it to the care with which the agency prepared for the president's visit to the school.

Major Robert Darling, the White House airlift operations liaison officer who organized Bush's trip to Sarasota, described the preparations he initiated for the trip. He arranged to have "five hardened Secret Service cars, numerous pallets of communication gear, and more than 200 support personnel" flown to Sarasota "a full four days prior to the president's scheduled arrival."

Secret Service agents and White House Military Office personnel consequently had "plenty of time to rehearse every aspect of the event, to include traveling the primary and alternate motorcade routes, practice landing in and taking off from the predetermined helicopter landing zones, as well as knowing the locations of all the local hospitals and their level of trauma capability so that when the president arrived on Air Force One, everyone was fully trained and prepared to safely transport and protect him as he executed his political agenda." [58]

The Secret Service clearly prepared well for Bush's visit to the Booker Elementary School. Agents "took over" the school's campus five days before September 11, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. [59] There were "men in dark suits scurrying around and through our campus, commandeering rooms, erecting funny antennas, conducting briefs and meetings, and tapping our phones," teacher Derek Jenkins described. [60]

Care was even taken when deciding which room Bush would go to when he visited the school. The classroom of Sandra Kay Daniels was selected as the location for the reading demonstration because it was "situated next to the school's north door, making it easier to organize elaborate security," according to the Tampa Tribune. [61]

BUSH WAS WELL PROTECTED THE NIGHT BEFORE 9/11
Bush was certainly well protected the night before September 11, while he stayed at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort. Journalist and author Bill Sammon described: "Snipers kept watch over the president from the roofs of the Colony and adjacent structures. The Coast Guard and the Longboat Key Police Department manned boats that patrolled the surf in front of the resort all night. Security trucks with enough men and arms to stop a small army parked right on the beach. An Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane circled high overhead in the clear night sky." [62]

The high level of care that usually went into protecting the president was evident at the Booker Elementary School when Bush arrived there on the morning of September 11. "School buses were lined up in front of the school to form a barricade," the Sarasota Herald-Tribune described. "Agents on horseback patrolled the campus. ... Snipers were on the roof. All the phone lines were tapped and one was linked directly to the White House." [63]

The Secret Service, though, acted as if it was in a state of paralysis after the president arrived at the school. It allowed him to stay there for 40 minutes and stick to his schedule as if nothing unusual had happened in the middle of a major terrorist attack.

But then, at around 9:35 a.m., the behavior of the president's protective detail suddenly changed and Bush's agents finally acted with the kind of urgency we would reasonably expect under the circumstances. Their skill and professionalism were evident as Bush was taken from the school to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, and onto Air Force One.

THE SECRET SERVICE ACTED WITH URGENCY AFTER BUSH LEFT THE SCHOOL
A Secret Service agent "ran out from the school and said, 'We're under terrorist attack, we have to go now,'" Officer Kevin Dowd of the Sarasota Police Department recalled. Bush's motorcade then traveled to the airport at about twice its normal speed. Whereas the vehicles were usually driven at around 40 to 45 miles per hour, they now moved at 80 to 85 miles per hour. Furthermore, during the journey, "the Secret Service agents all had weapon barrels that were visible and they were pointing up at the ready position in case they needed to be used," according to Dowd. [64]

Bush's limousine was surrounded by police cars, positioned about a foot away from it on all four sides. [65] This was because Edward Marinzel had arranged for the Sarasota Police Department to mobilize every available patrol car. [66] The Secret Service was concerned that a suicide bomber might try to ram the limousine with a truck bomb or a car bomb, Marinzel later explained, and so it had the vehicle surrounded in the hope that the patrol cars would block any attack. [67]

The Secret Service also "asked for double-motorcade blocks at the intersection, double and triple blocks," Dave Wilkinson recalled. This meant "not just motorcycle officers standing there with their arms up, but vehicles actually blocking the road." And for the entire journey to the airport, Wilkinson said, the Secret Service was "using the limos as a shell game, to keep the president safe." [68]

PASSENGERS WERE CAREFULLY CHECKED BEFORE GETTING ON THE PRESIDENT'S PLANE
After the motorcade arrived at the airport, journalists, White House staffers, and others were subjected to unusually rigorous security checks before being allowed onto Air Force One. Getting on the plane was "different than it ever had been," White House education adviser Sandy Kress commented. Much attention was paid to the credentials of those boarding the aircraft. "We had to show ID and our badge, not just the badge," Kress said. "And this even though the crew knew most of us." [69]

Secret Service agents and bomb-sniffing dogs checked every bag that was going onto the plane. [70] "Although everyone in the presidential motorcade had already been swept back at the school, the Secret Service was taking no chances," Bill Sammon described. "Even staffers who wore special lapel pins denoting their status as White House employees had their belongings checked by bomb-sniffing dogs," he wrote. [71] Agents even searched briefcases belonging to senior officials such as Andrew Card and Mike Morell. [72]

Agents also shoved people onto Air Force One as quickly as possible. [73] They yelled, "Move it, move it, move it!" as people made their way onto the aircraft. [74] A military aide standing at the foot of the rear entrance to the plane snapped, "We gotta hurry up and get out of here!" [75]

Air Force One took off at around 9:55 a.m., just 10 minutes after the motorcade reached the airport. [76] It took off unusually quickly. "I start hauling down the runway," Colonel Mark Tillman, the pilot, described. "Pull back, went up at about 8,000 feet per minute, and just put the plane on its tail, rolled it off towards the Gulf of Mexico," he said. [77]

The plane took off "like a rocket," according to White House assistant press secretary Gordon Johndroe. [78] It "shot down the runway with a force I had never experienced," Karl Rove described. [79] "The objective," according to the 9/11 Commission Report, "was to get up in the air--as fast and as high as possible--and then decide where to go." [80]

The fact that the Secret Service was able to act with such care and skill in its preparations for Bush's visit to the Booker Elementary School, and in its efforts to protect the president after he left the school, rules out the possibility that its inaction while Bush was at the school was due to incompetence. Agents with the president for his visit to Sarasota were clearly highly capable professionals.

AGENTS WERE NOT IMMEDIATELY ALERTED TO THE CRASHES AT THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
Another thing to consider when examining the Secret Service's inadequate protection of the president on September 11 is the apparent failure of agents in Washington to alert their colleagues in Sarasota to the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Edward Marinzel, as head of Bush's Secret Service detail, should surely have been notified about the attacks as a matter of priority, so he could initiate actions to protect the president in response to them. And yet Secret Service agents in Washington apparently failed to contact him about both crashes at the World Trade Center.

Marinzel heard about the first crash when Karl Rove told Bush about it after the president's motorcade arrived at the Booker Elementary School, at around 8:55 a.m. "As we were walking in, Karl Rove actually mentioned to the president that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers," he recalled. [81]

If this was the first time Marinzel heard about the crash, it means he only learned about the incident inadvertently, rather than being contacted about it by a colleague. And it means he learned about the crash at least nine minutes after it occurred and at least six minutes after it was first reported on television.

Certainly, evidence suggests that no one contacted him about the crash while he was being driven to the school. It appears that Marinzel would have been with the president in his limousine for the journey to the school, although this has not been stated explicitly: Rove recalled that Marinzel rode in Bush's limousine when it left the school, at 9:35 a.m., so presumably Marinzel accompanied Bush in his limousine as a matter of course during the visit to Florida. [82]

If Marinzel was alerted to the crash during the journey to the school, he therefore would surely have passed on the news to the president. But Bush was reportedly unaware of the crash when he arrived at the school, with the notification he received from Deborah Loewer being the first time he heard what had happened. It seems reasonable to assume, then, that no one contacted Marinzel and told him about the crash during the drive to the school.

LEAD AGENT LEARNED OF THE SECOND CRASH FROM BUSH'S CHIEF OF STAFF
Subsequently, instead of being immediately alerted to the second attack, Marinzel only learned about Flight 175 hitting the World Trade Center minutes after the crash occurred. And rather than being informed about the attack by his colleagues in Washington, as presumably should have happened, he learned about it from Andrew Card.

After Card walked across Sandra Kay Daniels' classroom and told Bush a second plane had hit the World Trade Center, Marinzel recalled, he "came over and whispered the same thing into my ear, and that was that we were under an attack." [83] Since Card told Bush about the second crash at around 9:05 a.m. to 9:07 a.m., Marinzel must have only heard about it several minutes after it happened.

Secret Service agents in Washington apparently also failed to promptly inform other agents in Sarasota, besides Marinzel, about the attacks. Kevin Kenney of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office recalled that after he saw the "breaking news coverage" of the first crash at the World Trade Center on television, he "immediately made contact with detectives that were co-located with the Secret Service detail and informed them of the news coverage."

"Remarkably," Kenney continued, the detectives told him "that they were not aware of the incident at that point." [84] Members of the president's Secret Service detail would surely have immediately passed on the important news to the detectives with them if they had heard about the crash. The fact that they failed to do so presumably means they had not been contacted by their colleagues in Washington about it at the time when Kenney called the detectives.

It is unclear whether Secret Service agents in Washington failed to contact their colleagues in Sarasota, besides Marinzel, about the second crash after it occurred. Certainly, accounts that are currently available make no mention of such contact being made.

AGENT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PRESIDENT'S SECURITY DID NOT CALL HIS COLLEAGUES IN SARASOTA
In light of the apparent failure of Secret Service agents in Washington to contact their colleagues in Sarasota about the attacks on the World Trade Center, it is worth examining in particular the actions of Carl Truscott, a key Secret Service official who was in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, when the attacks occurred. As special agent in charge of the presidential protective division, Truscott was responsible for the overall security of the president. [85] And yet there is no evidence that he made any attempt to contact Bush's detail while the president was at the Booker Elementary School.

Truscott said in an interview shortly after 9/11 that he learned about the crisis on September 11 when he "observed the CNN broadcast of the aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center." (It is unclear from the report of the interview whether he was referring to the coverage of the first crash or the second crash.) But he made no mention of contacting Bush's detail in response to seeing the television coverage of the crashes.

The only thing Truscott described doing at the time was calling several senior Secret Service agents to his office for a meeting "to discuss security enhancements at the White House." The meeting began at around 9:18 a.m. and the safety of the president was apparently not talked about. After he left the meeting, Truscott went to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center below the White House. [86]

His first contact with Bush's detail that morning, according to currently available accounts, occurred sometime after 9:55 a.m., when Air Force One took off from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. At that time, according to a Secret Service document, one of Bush's agents was "successful in contacting" him and informed him of the president's situation. [87]

SCHOOL WAS NOT EVACUATED, DESPITE BEING A POTENTIAL TERRORIST TARGET
While it is alarming that the president was allowed to stay at the Booker Elementary School for 40 minutes while the U.S. was in the middle of a major terrorist attack, it is also chilling that no effort was made to evacuate anyone else from the school on September 11. If terrorists had attacked the place, hundreds of people there could have been killed or seriously injured.

Mike Morell certainly recognized the potential danger. On top of his concern for Bush, he recalled, he grew "increasingly concerned" about "the safety of others at the school," since "it had been public information for days that the president would be at Booker Elementary on 11 September." [88]

But even after Bush left, no attempt was made to get people safely away from the school. Instead, "after learning of the tragedies, teachers tried to initiate 'teachable moments,'" the Tampa Tribune reported. "They pulled down maps, discussed terrorism, and talked about fears [with the pupils]." The school's administration permitted parents to pick up their children early if they wanted to, but according to the Tribune, "very few did." [89]

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Herman, a senior presidential communications officer, along with some Secret Service agents and a military aide, initially remained in Sarasota after Bush and his entourage left. [90] Surely one of these professionals should have recognized the possible danger and evacuated the school. And yet even White House personnel who stayed at the Booker Elementary School after the president was driven away were left vulnerable. These staffers were allowed to remain at the school for hours, and only headed back to the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort late that afternoon. [91]

It is also strange that no one else, besides those who had come to Sarasota from Washington for the president's visit, ordered that the Booker Elementary School be evacuated. Remarkably, Wilma Hamilton, the superintendent of Sarasota County schools, refused to evacuate the school after being advised to do so.

"Because the well-publicized event at the school assured Bush's location that day was no secret, the dense White House security urged school officials to send students home," the Arlington Heights Daily Herald reported. Hamilton, however, rejected the advice. "I couldn't see sending the children home," she recalled. "There'd be no one there. All they would have to look at were those images on television." [92]

THE SECRET SERVICE FAILED TO KEEP THE PRESIDENT SAFE
By allowing Bush to follow his schedule and attend the reading demonstration at the Booker Elementary School while America was under attack, the Secret Service left the president in potentially life-threatening danger. What went wrong? Why did agents perform so poorly in the middle of the worst attack on American soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941? Evidence described in this article gives rise to important questions about the actions of the Secret Service on September 11 that need to be addressed.

Why, for example, did the president's protective detail wait for more than 30 minutes after the second crash at the World Trade Center occurred and it became clear that America was under attack before getting Bush away from the school? Why did the concerns of some personnel that the school might be attacked not lead to an immediate evacuation? And why did the Secret Service allow Bush to give a speech from the school that was broadcast live on television, thereby revealing his location to any terrorists who might be watching TV?

Questions about the actions of other agencies and individuals who were with Bush in Sarasota need to be addressed too. For example, could someone other than a member of the Secret Service have ordered the evacuation of the president from the Booker Elementary School? The president's military aide was the person who would direct any evacuation of the president and the White House Military Office would implement the president's "safe passage," according to Marist magazine. [93] Could Paul Montanus, Bush's military aide at the school, or a White House Military Office official such as Mark Rosenker therefore have ordered an evacuation? If they could, why did they apparently fail to do so after the second attack on the World Trade Center took place?

Also, who was responsible for evacuating the other people at the school, such as the students and teachers? Why didn't that person order an evacuation? Why, in particular, did Wilma Hamilton refuse to send the children at the school home after being urged by White House security personnel to do so?

Additionally, were any decisions made to evacuate the president that were overruled? No evacuation occurred after a U.S. Marine, presumably Paul Montanus, announced, "We're out of here" and asked, "Can you get everyone ready?" when he saw the second crash on television. Did someone overrule the Marine's apparent instruction to evacuate the president? If so, who was this person and why did they do so?

Events described in this article also give rise to questions about the actions of some Secret Service agents who were in Washington at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Why, for example, did agents in Washington apparently fail to contact their colleagues in Sarasota about the crashes at the World Trade Center, to let them know what had happened and discuss what to do in response? Why did Carl Truscott, in particular, as the agent responsible for the overall security of the president, apparently fail to contact members of Bush's detail? Why did he only communicate with them after Air Force One left Sarasota?

WAS THE SECRET SERVICE'S RESPONSE TO THE ATTACKS SABOTAGED?
The Secret Service agents with the president in Sarasota appear to have been exceptionally skilled professionals, based on descriptions of their actions before and after Bush was at the Booker Elementary School. We consequently need to consider whether their inaction during the 40 minutes that Bush was at the school on September 11 was caused by someone, or some people, sabotaging their ability to respond to the 9/11 attacks.

Might rogue individuals in the U.S. military and government have taken measures that prevented these agents from operating with the level of urgency they would usually exhibit in a situation where the president could be in danger? For example, could the agents have been tricked into mistakenly thinking that reports they received about the attacks on the World Trade Center were simulated, as part of a training exercise, and this was why they failed to react appropriately to them?

Or were there rogue Secret Service agents involved with protecting the president who knew in advance what was going to happen on September 11? These agents could have known that the president and the Booker Elementary School were not targets, and so it was unnecessary to hurry Bush away from the school once it became clear that America was under attack.

The failure of the Secret Service to adequately protect the president while he was in Sarasota could be strong evidence that rogue individuals in the military and government were involved in perpetrating the 9/11 attacks. Currently, though, only a limited amount of information is available about the actions of the Secret Service on September 11. Official investigations have failed to rigorously examine the suspicious behavior of agents in response to the terrorist attacks. This crucial aspect of 9/11 therefore needs to be thoroughly looked into as part of a new investigation of the attacks.

NOTES
[1] "Bush Presses Education Agenda in Florida." ABC News, September 10, 2001; James Bamford, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency. New York: Anchor Books, 2002, p. 636; "The Visit of the President to Florida, Monday, September 10-Tuesday, September 11, 2001." President of the United States, n.d.
[2] Bill Sammon, "Suddenly, a Time to Lead." Washington Times, October 7, 2002; Susan Taylor Martin, "Of Fact, Fiction: Bush on 9/11." St. Petersburg Times, July 4, 2004.
[3] White House transcript, interview of Director of Communications Dan Bartlett by Howard Rosenberg of ABC. White House, August 12, 2002; Leslie Bates, "Securing the Nation." Marist, Fall 2002; Dave Lance, "Born to Lead." Dayton Daily News, August 17, 2003; Richard Keil, "With the President: A Reporter's Story of 9/11." Rochester Review, Fall 2004.
[4] "Springfield Native Told President of Terrorist Attacks." Associated Press, November 26, 2001; David Priess, The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents From Kennedy to Obama. New York: PublicAffairs, 2016, p. 240.
[5] Ari Fleischer, Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House. New York: HarperCollins, 2005, pp. 138-139.
[6] Bill Sammon, Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism--From Inside the Bush White House. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2002, p. 42.
[7] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004, p. 35; George W. Bush, Decision Points. New York: Crown, 2010, pp. 126-127.
[8] Bill Sammon, Fighting Back, p. 43.
[9] Ibid. pp. 50-51, 83; Scot J. Paltrow, "Government Accounts of 9/11 Reveal Gaps, Inconsistencies." Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2004; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 38.
[10] James Bamford, Body of Secrets, p. 633.
[11] Philip H. Melanson, The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency. 2nd ed. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005, pp. 330-331.
[12] Bill Sammon, "Suddenly, a Time to Lead"; Scot J. Paltrow, "Government Accounts of 9/11 Reveal Gaps, Inconsistencies."
[13] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 39.
[14] "The Visit of the President to Florida, Monday, September 10-Tuesday, September 11, 2001."
[15] Bill Sammon, "Suddenly, a Time to Lead"; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 39.
[16] "The Visit of the President to Florida, Monday, September 10-Tuesday, September 11, 2001"; "Remarks by the President After Two Planes Crash Into World Trade Center." White House, September 11, 2001; James Bamford, Body of Secrets, p. 636.
[17] Michael K. Bohn, Presidents in Crisis: Tough Decisions Inside the White House From Truman to Obama. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2015, p. 215.
[18] "The Visit of the President to Florida, Monday, September 10-Tuesday, September 11, 2001."
[19] Bill Sammon, "'Right Decision.'" Washington Times, October 8, 2002; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 39; George W. Bush, Decision Points, p. 128.
[20] Dan Balz and Bob Woodward, "America's Chaotic Road to War." Washington Post, January 27, 2002; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 39.
[21] "Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer." White House, September 7, 2001.
[22] David DeCamp, "President Plans School Visit to Push Reading." Florida Times-Union, September 7, 2001; Mike Allen and Michael A. Fletcher, "Bush Campaign Aims to Put Education Plan on Fast Track." Washington Post, September 7, 2001.
[23] Mark Bowden, The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2012, p. 3.
[24] Chad Binette, "Bush Will Talk Schools in Local Stop." Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 7, 2001.
[25] "The President's Visit." Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 8, 2001.
[26] Michael Morell with Bill Harlow, The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism From al Qa'ida to ISIS. New York: Twelve, 2015, p. 49.
[27] Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'" Politico Magazine, September 9, 2016.
[28] "Air Force One Pilot Mark Tillman and Senior Advisor Karl Rove." At Issue, KFDI, December 11, 2012.
[29] John Rogers, "Sarasota County Played a Pivotal Role in 9/11." WFLA-TV, September 11, 2013.
[30] Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'"
[31] Ibid.
[32] "Air Force One Pilot Mark Tillman and Senior Advisor Karl Rove."
[33] Michael J. Morell, "11 September 2001: With the President." Studies in Intelligence 50, no. 3 (2006): 23-34.
[34] Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'"
[35] "A White House View of 9/11." LBJ Presidential Library, September 3, 2013.
[36] Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'"
[37] Michael J. Morell, "11 September 2001: With the President"; Michael Morell with Bill Harlow, The Great War of Our Time, p. 49.
[38] William Mansell, "Teacher Recounts Being at Booker With Bush on 9/11." Sarasota Patch, September 9, 2011.
[39] Derek Jenkins, "Derek Jenkins, EEB Classroom Teacher." Sarasota County Schools, n.d.
[40] William Mansell, "Teacher Recounts Being at Booker With Bush on 9/11."
[41] Tom Bayles, "The Day Before Everything Changed, President Bush Touched Locals' Lives." Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 10, 2002; Dennis Dodd, "Navy Has a Higher Purpose Heading Into Notre Dame Game." CBS Sports, August 31, 2012.
[42] Leslie Bates, "Securing the Nation."
[43] "'We're Under Attack': Native Pittsburgher Escorted President on 9/11." WPXI-TV, September 7, 2011.
[44] Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'"
[45] Karl Rove, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight. New York: Threshold Editions, 2010, p. 251.
[46] Bill Sammon, Fighting Back, p. 93.
[47] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 39.
[48] Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'"
[49] "737 Days After ..." University Press, September 17, 2003.
[50] "Frank Brogan Recounts His Moment in History With President Bush on Sept. 11, 2001." South Florida Sun Sentinel, September 11, 2011.
[51] White House transcript, interview of General Mark V. Rosenker, director of the White House Military Office, by CBS. White House, August 29, 2002.
[52] "Mission Statement." United States Secret Service, 2002.
[53] Office of Management and Budget, Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism. Washington, DC: Office of Management and Budget, July 2001, p. 81.
[54] Inside the U.S. Secret Service. National Geographic Channel, October 24, 2004.
[55] Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'"
[56] Susan Taylor Martin, "Of Fact, Fiction."
[57] Philip H. Melanson, The Secret Service, pp. 330-331.
[58] Robert J. Darling, 24 Hours Inside the President's Bunker: 9/11/01 The White House. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2010, p. 35.
[59] Tom Bayles, "The Day Before Everything Changed, President Bush Touched Locals' Lives."
[60] Derek Jenkins, "Derek Jenkins, EEB Classroom Teacher."
[61] Jennifer Barrs, "From a Whisper to a Tear." Tampa Tribune, September 1, 2002.
[62] Bill Sammon, Fighting Back, p. 25.
[63] Tom Bayles, "The Day Before Everything Changed, President Bush Touched Locals' Lives."
[64] Clear the Skies. BBC, September 1, 2002; "Air Force One Pilot Mark Tillman and Senior Advisor Karl Rove"; "A White House View of 9/11."
[65] "Air Force One Pilot Mark Tillman and Senior Advisor Karl Rove"; "A White House View of 9/11."
[66] Karl Rove, Courage and Consequence, p. 251, Karl Rove, Speech at the Reagan Ranch Center, Santa Barbara, CA. Young America's Foundation, April 30, 2010.
[67] "Air Force One Pilot Mark Tillman and Senior Advisor Karl Rove"; "A White House View of 9/11."
[68] Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'"
[69] Ibid.
[70] Sonya Ross, "Flying With President Bush on a Day Terrorists Hit Hard." Associated Press, September 12, 2001; Michael J. Morell, "11 September 2001: With the President."
[71] Bill Sammon, Fighting Back, p. 99.
[72] Michael J. Morell, "11 September 2001: With the President"; Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'"
[73] Karl Rove, Courage and Consequence, p. 252.
[74] Clear the Skies.
[75] Bill Sammon, Fighting Back, p. 99.
[76] Dan Balz and Bob Woodward, "America's Chaotic Road to War"; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 39.
[77] Mark W. Tillman, "Air Force One: Zero Failure." Speech presented at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Dayton, Ohio, February 29, 2012.
[78] Garrett M. Graff, "'We're the Only Plane in the Sky.'"
[79] Karl Rove, Courage and Consequence, p. 252.
[80] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 39.
[81] "'We're Under Attack': Native Pittsburgher Escorted President on 9/11."
[82] Karl Rove, Speech at the Reagan Ranch Center, Santa Barbara, CA.
[83] "'We're Under Attack': Native Pittsburgher Escorted President on 9/11."
[84] Kevin Kenney, "... I Could See Air Force One Accelerate Toward Me and ... Takeoff. ..." Sheriff, September/October 2011.
[85] "Assistant Director Carl J. Truscott Announces Plans to Retire From the U.S. Secret Service." United States Secret Service press release, Washington, DC, April 1, 2004.
[86] USSS memo, interview with SAIC Carl Truscott. United States Secret Service, October 1, 2001; "USSS Statements and Interview Reports." 9/11 Commission, July 28, 2003.
[87] Untitled document. United States Secret Service, n.d.
[88] Michael J. Morell, "11 September 2001: With the President."
[89] Jennifer Barrs, "From a Whisper to a Tear."
[90] Leslie Bates, "Securing the Nation."
[91] Scott McClellan, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception. New York: PublicAffairs, 2008, pp. 103-104.
[92] Mike Riopell, "Educator's History Lesson." Arlington Heights Daily Herald, September 11, 2006.
[93] Leslie Bates, "Securing the Nation."

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