(Presidentialwire.com)- An interview that was declassified recently shows that the Secret Service went outside the normal military chain of command when they scrambled jets on 9/11 without then-President George W. Bush knowing.
On Wednesday, notes from an interview conducted back on April of 2004 by the 9/11 commission with Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney were released by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel.
Those notes provided more details about the White House’s reactions immediately after the attacks on September 11, 2001. In that interview, Bush said he didn’t have knowledge that the Secret Service decided to scramble the fighter jets without getting his permission first.
Thomas Kean, the former governor of New Jersey who chaired that commission, asked Cheney and Bush if they knew that the fighter jets were scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base following the attacks, even though they weren’t passed through the military chain of command.
As the transcript reads:
“The president, surprised, asked the chairman to repeat ‘ordered by the Secret Service?’ The chairman affirmed that. The president said he did not know about that.”
Last year, a group known as the Public Interest Declassification Board wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, recommending that a full list of the documents produced by the 9/11 Commission should be available for the public. Some of the other documents they requested were interviews held with Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, as well as former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.
In the newly-declassified document, Bush describes how he often deferred over to Cheney on some of the key decisions that were made once the then-president decided he would stay in Florida for a bit and not return to Washington, D.C., right after the attacks happened.
Bush apparently told Cheney that he had “the authority to shoot down an airplane,” making a reference to commercial aircraft that weren’t responding to intercepting military aircraft.
When the attacks happened, Bush was at an education event in Florida. The documents said he “agreed reluctantly” not to immediately return to Washington upon learning of the attacks.
The document reads:
“The president asked the vice president to take necessary steps and stay in close touch.”
In addition, the newly-declassified document details how the Bush-Cheney pair responded to the early intelligence reports that indicated that Osama Bin Laden, the head of Al Qaeda, wanted to initiate an attack on the United States.
Bush went as far as saying that a document he received as part of his Daily Brief on August 6 of 2001 said that Bin Laden was “determined” to hit America, but there was no “actionable intelligence” about any specific threat.
He added that Tony Blair, the former prime minister of the UK, “would have looked at [Bush] like a nut” if he suggested placing troops overseas in Afghanistan before those attacks happened.
In July of 2004, the 9/11 Commission released its final report, which concluded that the American government wasn’t prepared for the attack and wasn’t able to detect early warning signs that might have prevented them from happening.