Clarke Book and Upcoming 9/11 Hearings Prompting New Look At Bush Claims
Read Dan Froomkin’s "White House Briefing" posted to the Washington Post website just hours ago and see how the fallout from the Clarke book and the upcoming 9/11 hearings are already forcing the media to challenge the White House version of events prior to and just after the attacks on 9/11. Note that the White House still has not provided any direct refutation of Clarke’s claims.
Froomkin references a story by Wall Street Journal reporter Scot J. Paltrow (unavailable for linkage without subscription) this morning, where longstanding claims by those in the blogosphere about Bush’s behavior and claims right after the attacks are finally getting mainstream media attention.
And in this morning's Wall Street Journal, Scot J. Paltrow writes about how the commission is trying to fill the gaps and inconsistencies in the government account about what actually happened on Sept. 11.
"Among other things, the commission is examining such questions as how long Mr. Bush remained in a Florida classroom just after the World Trade Center strikes, whether there really was a threat to Air Force One that day, how effectively American fighter jets reacted to the attacks, and who activated the national-emergency-response plan."
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who famously whispered in the president's ear, "A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack," has previously said that Bush left the Florida classroom he was sitting in within seconds.
"But uncut videotape of the classroom visit obtained from the local cable-TV station director who shot it, and interviews with the teacher and principal, show that Mr. Bush remained in the classroom not for mere seconds, but for at least seven additional minutes. He followed along for five minutes as children read aloud a story about a pet goat. Then he stayed for at least another two minutes, asking the children questions and explaining to Ms. Rigell that he would have to leave more quickly than planned."
Paltrow writes: "Both Republican and Democratic commissioners have said they are focusing closely on what happened next -- and whether mere minutes could have affected the outcome on Sept. 11. The panel's investigators are looking at questions such as the timeliness of presidential orders about intercepting the jet that at 9:37 a.m. plowed into the Pentagon."
Paltrow also writes that Bush could not have been telling the truth when he told a town-hall meeting in December, 2001: "I was sitting outside the classroom, waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower -- the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly myself, and I said, 'Well, there's one terrible pilot.' "
There was no such video until late that night, and the TV wasn't even plugged in, Paltrow writes.
Will the commission ask these questions? And what creative answers will the Bush team have?