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Context of '(8:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush’s Motorcade Leaves for Elementary School'

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At 6:30 p.m., President Bush arrives at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida. [Sammon, 2002, pp. 13; Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/2002] He is in Florida as part of a weeklong effort to place a national spotlight on education and reading, and visited a school in Jacksonville earlier in the day. [ABC News, 9/10/2001; Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), 9/10/2001] In preparation for the president’s visit to the resort, all guests have been cleared out of the building “to make way for the invasion of White House staffers, aides, communications technicians—even an antiterrorism unit.” Overnight, snipers and surface-to-air missiles are located on the roof of the Colony and adjacent structures, to protect the president. “The Coast Guard and the Longboat Key Police Department manned boats that patrolled the surf in front of the resort all night. Security trucks with enough men and arms to stop a small army parked right on the beach. An Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane circled high overhead in the clear night sky.” [Sammon, 2002, pp. 13 and 25; Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/2002] Whether this is a typical level of security for a presidential visit, or is increased due to recent terror warnings, is unstated.

Entity Tags: George W. Bush

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Mike Morell.Mike Morell. [Source: CIA]President Bush receives his daily intelligence briefing in his room at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida, where he has just spent the night (see September 10, 2001), but the briefing includes nothing about terrorism. The President’s Daily Brief (PDB) is a summary of the most current intelligence reports from around the world. It is delivered to Bush each day by Mike Morell, a CIA analyst. [Studies in Intelligence, 9/2006 pdf file; Bowden, 2012, pp. 4-5; Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016] It usually includes seven or eight items. Fifteen minutes are usually allotted for the briefing, although it often lasts longer than this.
Brief Arrived Late - The PDB today was, unusually, late to arrive. It was going to be sent from CIA headquarters, via the White House Situation Room, to the White House Communications Agency command post at the resort at 3:30 a.m. But at 4:30 a.m. it had not arrived and so Morell called CIA headquarters to see if there was a problem. He was told there wasn’t and the material had been sent at 3:30 a.m., as planned. He then phoned the command post and was assured that the brief would be brought to him soon. Morell therefore received the PDB after 4:30 a.m., which left him less than three hours to master its contents and select supplementary materials to show the president.
CIA Briefer Met the Situation Room Director to Prepare - Morell met Navy Captain Deborah Loewer, the director of the White House Situation Room, at 7:30 a.m. to compare the information they each planned to show the president during the briefing. At 7:55 a.m. the two went up to Bush’s suite. Shortly after 8:00 a.m. they enter the president’s room to give the briefing, and find Bush seated at a table with a cup of coffee and a newspaper. Andrew Card, Bush’s chief of staff, is also in the room for the briefing. Bush puts down his newspaper and asks, “Anything of interest this morning?”
Brief Includes No Terrorism-Related Items - Loewer goes first. She spends a couple of minutes updating Bush on the Middle East peace process. [Studies in Intelligence, 9/2006 pdf file; Morell and Harlow, 2015, pp. 45-46; Priess, 2016, pp. 238-239] Morell then goes through the PDB with the president. The information in it today covers Russia, China, and the Palestinian uprising in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. [Bush, 2010, pp. 126; Bowden, 2012, pp. 5; Priess, 2016, pp. 239] There is nothing in it about terrorist threats. [Morell and Harlow, 2015, pp. 46; Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016] “On arguably the most important day in President Bush’s tenure, his intelligence briefing was uneventful,” Morell will later comment. [Studies in Intelligence, 9/2006 pdf file] It takes Morell less than 10 minutes to go through the PDB with Bush, according to author David Priess. Bush then talks on the phone for a couple of minutes with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, in a call he has requested in response to some of the news Loewer has given him. [Morell and Harlow, 2015, pp. 46-47; Priess, 2016, pp. 239] He asks Rice to follow up on a few points. [Kessler, 2004, pp. 136; Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016]
Briefing Lasts 15 to 25 Minutes - The briefing is over by 8:25 a.m., according to Morell. [Studies in Intelligence, 9/2006 pdf file; Morell and Harlow, 2015, pp. 47] It ends “close to 8:30,” Loewer will say. [Priess, 2016, pp. 239] But according to other accounts, the briefing lasts 15 minutes and so is over by around 8:15 a.m. (see 8:15 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Kessler, 2004, pp. 136; Bohn, 2015, pp. 213] After leaving Bush’s suite, Morell and Loewer will head down to take their places in the motorcade that is going to transport them to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, which the president is scheduled to visit this morning. [Studies in Intelligence, 9/2006 pdf file; Morell and Harlow, 2015, pp. 47; Priess, 2016, pp. 239]

Entity Tags: Michael J. Morell, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Andrew Card, Deborah Loewer

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Sandy Kress.Sandy Kress. [Source: Publicity photo]Sandy Kress, President Bush’s unpaid education adviser, meets with Bush in his hotel on Longboat Key, Florida, to brief him on their planned 9 a.m. visit to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in nearby Sarasota. With them are Secretary of Education Rod Paige, Bush’s senior adviser Karl Rove, and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Kress goes over some key points for the talk Bush is due to give to the press after reading with the students at the school. However, Kress will later recall that the “president is a very punctual person,” and “I’ve never known him to be late.” Yet, “we finished the briefing on that fateful day, and we continued to talk for another ten minutes about people and politics in Texas. The time to leave came and passed.” Kress adds, “That struck me as unusual.” [Kessler, 2004, pp. 136-137; Dallas Morning News, 9/10/2006] According to the official schedule, the president is supposed to leave the resort at 8:30 a.m. for the drive to the school. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/2004] Yet, according to one account, he will not leave until as late as 8:39 (see (8:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Washington Times, 10/7/2002]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Andrew Card, Karl C. Rove, Barnett A. (“Sandy”) Kress, Rod Paige

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The destination of Bush’s motorcade is Booker Elementary School.The destination of Bush’s motorcade is Booker Elementary School. [Source: MSNBC]President Bush’s motorcade leaves the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, bound for the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001] The president had gotten into his Cadillac limousine after “much shaking of hands and posing for pictures and saying pleasant things to local VIPs who had been invited to the Colony to see him off.” [Sammon, 2002, pp. 38] According to the official schedule, the president is supposed to leave the resort at 8:30 a.m. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/2004] While some accounts say he leaves on time, according to Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon, who is traveling with the president on this day, Bush’s limousine does not set off until 8:39. [Sarasota Magazine, 11/2001; Sammon, 2002, pp. 38; Washington Post, 1/27/2002; BBC, 9/1/2002; Washington Times, 10/7/2002; Nationwide Speakers Bureau, Inc., 2004] If Sammon’s time is correct then this is unusual, as Bush has a reputation for being very punctual. [CNN, 2/2/2001; London Times, 6/30/2005] His unpaid education adviser Sandy Kress will in fact say that, prior to this day, “I’ve never known [the president] to be late.” [Kessler, 2004, pp. 137] With Bush in town, the police have shut down traffic in both directions along the nine-mile journey to the school, “leaving the roads utterly deserted for Bush’s long motorcade, which barreled along at 40 mph, running red lights with impunity.” [Sammon, 2002, pp. 38-39]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

CNN is the first major network to show the footage of the crash site. It breaks into a commercial and anchor Carol Lin says, “This just in. You are looking at… obviously a very disturbing live shot there—that is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.” CNN then switches to Sean Murtagh, the network’s vice president of finance, who says in a live telephone interview, “I just witnessed a plane that appeared to be cruising at a slightly lower than normal altitude over New York City. And it appears to have crashed into—I don’t know which tower it is—but it hit directly in the middle of one of the World Trade Center towers. It was a jet, maybe a two-engine jet, maybe a 737… a large passenger commercial jet… It was teetering back and forth, wing-tip to wing-tip, and it looks like it has crashed into—probably, twenty stories from the top of the World Trade Center—maybe the eightieth to eighty-fifth floor. There is smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center.” [CNN, 9/11/2001; Bamford, 2004, pp. 16-17] Many reports do not come until a few minutes later. For instance, ABC first breaks into regular programming with the story at 8:52 a.m. [ABC News, 9/14/2002] Incredibly, a NORAD timeline presented to the 9/11 Commission in 2003 claims that CNN doesn’t begin its coverage of the attacks until 8:57. [9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003]

Entity Tags: Carol Lin, Sean Murtagh, World Trade Center, CNN

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Kevin Kenney.Kevin Kenney. [Source: Longboat Observer]Sergeant Kevin Kenney of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office contacts colleagues of his who are with President Bush’s Secret Service detail after he sees the television coverage of the plane crash at the World Trade Center, and is surprised to find they are unaware of the incident in New York. Kenney was scheduled to fly the Sheriff’s Office helicopter, taking a Secret Service agent with him, to cover Bush’s motorcade as it made the journey to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, this morning (see (8:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). However, due to heavy fog over Sarasota, he had to cancel the motorcade cover. While waiting for the fog to clear, Kenney has been watching the news on a television in the hangar at Venice Municipal Airport. He therefore sees the coverage of the first plane crash at the WTC. [Sheriff, 9/2011; Longboat Observer, 9/8/2011] (The crash is reported on TV beginning at 8:48 a.m. (see 8:48 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Bamford, 2004, pp. 16] ) Kenney immediately contacts colleagues of his from the Sheriff’s Office who are co-located with the president’s Secret Service detail and tells them about the news coverage he is watching. It is unclear if these colleagues are traveling in Bush’s motorcade or waiting at the Booker Elementary School for the motorcade to arrive. “Remarkably,” Kenney will later recall, the Sheriff’s Office personnel reply “that they were not aware of the incident [i.e. the crash at the WTC] at that point.” [Sheriff, 9/2011]

Entity Tags: US Secret Service, Kevin Kenney, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

A Longboat Key resident has a strange encounter with some Middle Eastern men. He is standing on the Sarasota bay front, waiting for President Bush’s motorcade to go by on its way to the Booker Elementary School. He sees a dilapidated van passing by, with two Middle Eastern men “screaming out the windows, ‘Down with Bush’ and raising their fists in the air.” This would be around the time when reports of the first WTC crash are first being broadcast (see 8:48 a.m. September 11, 2001). The man will later report this incident to the police and then be questioned by the FBI about it. Several hours earlier, some Middle Eastern men had pulled up in a van at the resort where Bush was staying, falsely claiming to have an interview with him (see (Before 6:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). It is unknown whether these were the same men as were seen on the Sarasota bay front. [Longboat Observer, 9/26/2001]

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA’s Indianapolis Center, which was monitoring Flight 77 when it disappeared from radar (see 8:56 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (8:56 a.m.-9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001), has learned by 9:20 a.m. that there are “other hijacked aircraft,” and begins “to doubt its initial assumption that American 77 had crashed.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 24] In fact, a transcript of air traffic controller communications will show that the Indianapolis Center was informed of the Flight 11 hijacking, and that two planes had hit the World Trade Center, at 9:09 a.m. (see 9:09 a.m. September 11, 2001); five minutes later, it received confirmation of the Flight 11 hijacking (see 9:14 a.m. September 11, 2001). [New York Times, 10/16/2001] And television networks have been covering the crashes in New York since as early as 8:48 a.m. (see 8:48 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Bamford, 2004, pp. 16-17]
Other Facilities Notified - The manager at the Indianapolis Center now discusses the concern that Flight 77 may not have crashed with the FAA’s Command Center in Herndon, Virginia. This discussion prompts the Command Center to notify some FAA field facilities that Flight 77 is lost. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 32] Also at around 9:20, the Indianapolis Center operations manager contacts the FAA’s Chicago Center. He advises its operations manager of his concern that Flight 77 may have been hijacked, and says to be on the lookout, based on the events that have occurred in New York. [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/17/2001 pdf file] By 9:21, according to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA “Command Center, some FAA field facilities, and American Airlines had started to search for American 77. They feared it had been hijacked.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 24-25]

Entity Tags: Chicago flight control, Federal Aviation Administration, Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center, American Airlines

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


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