Friday, February 16, 2007

Mineta, Cheney, the 5th plane and the shootdown order

This essay has been posted weeks ago on diverse forums and is being re-published because of its growing relevance.

The testimony of Norman Mineta in front of the 9/11 panel has drawn much attention recently because his account differs from the official story in one essential point. He claims that he was in the White House shelter (PEOC) with Cheney and his staff at 9:25 when an unidentified plane was heading towards Washington causing Cheney to issue a "shootdown" order (actually, an engagement order).

This is a clear contradiction to the 9/11 Commission timeline. According to this, Cheney entered the PEOC not before 9:55.

Many writers take this contradiction as proof that the timeline of the official story, as laid down in the 9/11 Commission report, is completely fabricated, and that Cheney deliberately didn't prevent the attack on the Pentagon.

This "LIHOP" version of the contradiction is a daring conclusion, however, because it neglects the broad evidence that Cheney was still in his office at 9:25, was taken to a connecting bunker at about 9:37 and finally got to the PEOC at 9:55.This timeline is supported by statements of Lynn Cheney, staff from the White House, and several documents. Here's a quote from the 9/11 report:

American 77 began turning south, away from the White House, at 9:34. It continued heading south for roughly a minute, before turning west and beginning to circle back. This news prompted the Secret Service to order the immediate evacuation of the Vice President just before 9:36. Agents propelled him out of his chair and told him he had to get to the bunker. The Vice President entered the underground tunnel leading to the shelter at 9:37.209

Once inside, Vice President Cheney and the agents paused in an area of the tunnel that had a secure phone, a bench, and television. The Vice President asked to speak to the President, but it took time for the call to be connected. He learned in the tunnel that the Pentagon had been hit, and he saw television coverage of smoke coming from the building.210

The Secret Service logged Mrs. Cheney's arrival at the White House at 9:52, and she joined her husband in the tunnel. According to contemporaneous notes, at 9:55 the Vice President was still on the phone with the President advising that three planes were missing and one had hit the Pentagon. We believe this is the same call in which the Vice President urged the President not to return to Washington. After the call ended, Mrs. Cheney and the Vice President moved from the tunnel to the shelter conference room.211

So the LIHOP version implies that Lynn Cheney and the White House staff are flatly lying and that the following documents are completely faked (take a look at footnotes 208-216 of Chapter I):

- White House transcript
- White House notes
- White House record, PEOC Shelter Log, Sept. 11, 2001
- USSS report, "Executive Summary: U.S. Secret Service Timeline of Events" Oct. 3, 2001
- USSS memo, OVP 9/11 Timeline, Nov. 17, 2001

Not that I think that Lynn Cheney and the other people are not capable of lying. However, if they are lying, their lies are astonishingly consistent (the only contradiction being the Mineta testimony). Occam's razor has often been applicated wrong, but in this case we have at least to consider the possibility that the 9/11 report timeline is wright and Mineta is wrong, for whatever reason.

So let's compare: if Mineta's statement is 100 percent true, this means that a lot of people from the White House are spreading massive lies, and that the corresponding documents are faked.

If however, Mineta is wrong - why doesn't he tell the truth, and where was he at 9:25?

A look at the 9/11 report, Chapter I.3, section "United 93 and the shootdown order" suggests an elegant solution to the problem. Mineta made only one little mistake - he got the time wrong. Make his "9:25" a "10:25", and a completely new view emerges: Mineta was indeed talking about a plane approaching the Pentagon, but it was not Flight 77 at 9:25, but the "phantom flight 93" at 10:25. Here's a quote from the 9/11 report:

At 10:02, the communicators in the shelter began receiving reports from the Secret Service of an inbound aircraft-presumably hijacked-heading toward Washington. That aircraft was United 93.The Secret Service was getting this information directly from the FAA. The FAA may have been tracking the progress of United 93 on a display that showed its projected path to Washington, not its actual radar return. Thus, the Secret Service was relying on projections and was not aware the plane was already down in Pennsylvania.217

At some time between 10:10 and 10:15, a military aide told the Vice President and others that the aircraft was 80 miles out. Vice President Cheney was asked for authority to engage the aircraft.218 His reaction was described by Scooter Libby as quick and decisive, "in about the time it takes a batter to decide to swing." The Vice President authorized fighter aircraft to engage the inbound plane. He told us he based this authorization on his earlier conversation with the President. The military aide returned a few minutes later, probably between 10:12 and 10:18, and said the aircraft was 60 miles out. He again asked for authorization to engage. The Vice President again said yes.219

Here the 9/11 commission commits to the breathtaking theory that the FAA reported a not-existing "phantom" flight 93 on its way to Washington.

I don't subscribe to this phantom flight theory. This so-called phantom was a real plane, it was the mysterious fifth plane reported by all broadcast media in the morning of 9/11 (only to vanish quickly). It landed in Cleveland, as reported in this email (which is also quoted in Loose Change):

I'm sure there was a fifth plane involved that was headed toward Camp David; however, that plane was forced (yes forced, militarily) to land in Cleveland. I thought the target could also have be NASA's Glen/Lewis Research Center that is right next to the Cleveland Airport. The news reported that the plane landed because of a suspected bomb on board but they haven't released anyone that was on that plane.

The closed NASA and transported everyone that was on the plane there for questioning. They are going through the plane and luggage with a fine toothed comb. The original flight plan was from Boston to LA.They closed all exits from the freeway to get into the airport and even bus drivers were told that if they attempted to exit, they would be shot. People that were already at the airport were forced to walk for miles to get transportation home because they were not even allowed to remove their cars from the parking lots.

So this MIHOP interpretation of the Mineta testimony needs no lying White House staff and no faked documents, it needs just a little, probably deliberate mistake of Norman Mineta. Occam would surely have preferred the MIHOP version. Further confirmation arises from the fact that Mineta's statement matches the section "united 93 and the shootdown order" splendidly (leaving aside the little time error). Remember the young man who comes in and asks if the order still stands?

For more information, please read "The Secret Hijacking":

The Mineta testimony can be viewed as further evidence for the scenario presented in this article.