Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The contradictory statements of Norman Mineta

The question whether Mineta told the truth in his
testimony, especially regarding his timeline, more and more boils down to the question when he arrived at the White House. If he entered the PEOC bunker at 9:20, as he claims, he must have arrived some minute before.

researchers argue that a CNN report, aired at 9:52, proves that he indeed arrived that early because of an evacuation beginning "slowly" about 30 minutes before, i.e. at about 9:22. But the report clearly says that the evacuation lasted at least 30 minutes, so a later arrival is not excluded.

A hitherto unknown
interview with Mineta from June 2006 however shows that the CNN report supports just the opposite: a "late arrival" at the WH at about 9:40~9:45.

Here's an excerpt from CNN:

Just moments ago they started slowing evacuating the White House about 30 minutes ago. Then, in the last five minute people have come running out of the White House and the old executive office building, which is the office building right directly across from the White House.
It ((the evacuation)) started off as orderly, much like we get when there are ocassional bomb scares near the White House. But then, again in the last 10 minutes or so, the people who came out -- the last several hundred I saw leaving the grounds, were told and ordered by the Secret Service to run. They were running through the gates. These were of course professionals in business suits.

And here is what Mineta says:

I grabbed some manuals and some papers, went down to the car, and we went over to the White House. As we went in West Executive Drive, people pouring out of the Executive Office building, people running out of the White House, and I said to my driver and security guy, "Is there something wrong with this picture? We are driving in, and everybody else is running away."

It is obvious that CNN and Mineta are talking about the same incident: people hectically running out of the West Wing of the WH and the Old Executive Office building, which is just across the street. Thanks to CNN, we can pinpoint it to a time of 9:40~9:45. This is in accordance with all available reports on the WH evacuation.

If Mineta is telling the truth in his testimony, he must have arrived before 9:20. No noticeable evacuation is reported at this time.

Additionally, we learn from Mineta's interview that he spent 4 or 5 minutes in the Situation Room with Richard Clarke before walking to the PEOC. Given that he needed at least 2 or 3 minutes for the 170 yards from the Situation Room (West Wing) to the PEOC (East Wing), and 1 minute to get from the car to the Situation Room, he must have arrived at the WH at 9:10~9:13 if the "early arrival" hypothesis is true. This leaves 7 to 10 minutes for his actions inside the Department of Transportation after the South Tower impact and the 1,7 miles car drive from the DoT to the WH. An extremely narrow timeline, theoretically possible but not plausible.

Furthermore, the advocates of the "early arrival" hypothesis claim that it is confirmed by Richard Clarke in his book "Against all enemies". Again, the opposite is true. Clarke's story proves that an early arrival is impossible. Here's his timeline:

- Clarke is informed about the South Tower crash (9:03) when he is in his car, shortly before arriving at the WH;
- Clarke enters the West Wing, hurries up to Cheney's office and convenes with Cheney and Rice;
- Clarke goes to the Situation room and prepares a video conference with several agencies (CIA, FBI, DoD, DoJ, State Department, FAA...);
- Clarke begins the video conference with the question "Where's Norm?" - he was not able to reach Mineta;
- Jane Garvey, head of the FAA, reports that she has issued a ground stop for all airports of New York and Washington; Clarke requests a grounding order for all airborne flights;
- Mineta calls up from his car; he's on his way to the WH.

Clarke gives no exact times, but clearly Mineta's call came in some minutes after the start of the video conference. According to the 9/11 Commission, the conference start was logged at 9:25; considering Clarke's meeting with Cheney and the preparations for the conference, a starting time earlier than 9:15 is not realistic, which means that Mineta called from his car at a time when he was supposed to enter (or already to be at) the PEOC. A clear contradiction.

A little bit later - after the Pentagon crash - Clarke relates the same story of the WH evacuation that we know already (re-translated from German, apologies to Mr. Clarke):

Meanwhile, Stafford's evacuation order showed effect: the employees left the area, they came out of the Residence, the West Wing and the Executive Office Building (sic!). The uniformed guards of the Secret Service yelled at the women: "If you wear high heels, put them off and run, run!"

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

While Clarke's remarks insinuate that Cheney moved to the PEOC immediately after the meeting with him, there is no clear indication at what time Cheney actually did. This might have been Clarke's intention.

Bottom line: Mineta did not enter the PEOC at about 9:20. Numerous witness statements, White House logs and documents, Clarke's account, and Mineta himself contradict it. Instead, the following timeline looks much more accurate:

- 9:40 Mineta's car turns into the West Executive Drive, and Mineta notices people running out of the West Wing an the Executive Office Building;
- 9:45 Mineta meets Clarke in the Situation Room and talks with him for 4 or 5 minutes;
- 9: 52 Mineta arrives in the PEOC;

So the question arises: Why didn't he tell the truth in front of the Commission? Why didn't he say that the plane that was heading to Washington was just a "phantom flight" or a "projected flight path"? He was not the one who had to feel embarassed by this misinterpretation. So why did he do it?

This blog will try to give answers, beyond any "projected flight paths" of a "phantom flight". Stay tuned.