Thirty-one pages of declassified notes of an interview with former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney have shed new light on the events that took place during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
According to a story from The Wall Street Journal, Bush and Cheney set down in the Oval Office for an interview that was used by the independent 9/11 Commission in 2004 as it investigated the attacks and related issues.
The interview took place on April 29, 2004, and included Bush, Cheney and three aides.
Both Bush and Cheney talked about the decision that day that the U.S. would shoot down any airplane still in the air after all planes were ordered to land at the nearest airport following the attacks.
Included in the notes was a discussion over the consequences of shooting down an airliner filled with Americans.
Bush, who was a Texas Air National Guard pilot, said he understood the basic rules of engagement.
“He had been trained to shoot down planes. He understood generally how this worked — one plane would lock on, one would ID. He understood the consequences for the pilot, how a pilot might feel to get the order to shoot down a US airliner. It would be tough. He and Dick discussed it. He talked about what it would be like. Yes, engage the enemy. You have the authority to shoot down an airplane,” the notes of the interview read.
Later in the interview, Cheney said he “remembered getting word then that they [Air Force] were trying to cap up over D.C. He opened up a line to the President and raised the issue of rules of engagement. He (the President) authorized shootdown. The President approved this before 10:00. Condi (National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice) heard his (the Vice President’s) end of the conversation,” the notes state.
Cheney gave the order to the military to shoot down any unresponsive aircraft.
The newly declassified document was released by the National Archives and Records Administration on Wednesday.
Other things the notes addressed were:
· Both Bush and Cheney initially thought the plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field, United Flight 93, had been shot down by the military.
It had not. The plane crashed as the passengers fought back against the hijackers and rushed the cockpit to try to gain control of the plane.
· Both men talked about pressuring Saudi Arabia to crack down on terrorism. Fifteen of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Cheney called the Saudi crown prince on July 5, 2002, to talk about the attacks.
· Bush talked about the intelligence information that had been released prior to the attacks.
The notes about the intelligence report on possible attacks on the country read, “The report itself was historical in nature. It said what al Qaeda was doing. Bin Ladin had long been talking about his desire to attack America. There was some operational data on the FBI. That 70 investigations were underway was heartening, that this was taking place.”
It was found out that the FBI and CIA did not effectively communicate with each other and there were signals that could have been missed in the lead-up to the attacks.
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