Bush was back in the state where he spent that fateful morning, before being flown off on a zig-zag cross-country journey which finally took him back to Washington. This is not considered his finest hour, and his comments seems to be further evidence about the sluggishness of his immediate response.
I saw an airplane hit the tower – the TV was obviously on – and I used to fly myself, and I said, “There’s one terrible pilot.” And I said, “It must have been a horrible accident”.
Bush got the news outside a school classroom before going in to talk to the kids about a reading program. He went in as planned, but then Andrew Card, his chief of staff, came in and whispered the news of the second plane hitting the twin towers.
He said in the Town Hall Meeting: “I saw an airplane hit the tower – the TV was obviously on – and I used to fly myself, and I said, ‘There’s one terrible pilot.’ And I said, ‘It must have been a horrible accident.'”
Of the second strike, George W. Bush told the youngster: “I wasn’t sure what to think at first. You know, I grew up in a period of time where the idea of America being under attack never entered my mind – just like your daddy and mother’s mind probably. And I started thinking hard in that very brief period of time about what it meant to be under attack. I knew that when I got all the facts, there would be hell to pay for attacking America.”
The Conflicting Story
The story that he was watching TV contradicts reports from correspondents at the time that he got the news in a phone call from his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. It also adds further puzzles: why he was being made to wait; why he did not at least delay his entry into the classroom; and why is it obvious that an elementary school would have a TV set in the corridor?
Eighteen minutes elapsed between the two impacts. Assuming that Chief of Staff Andy Card was informed of the second impact (and informed Bush) within seven minutes of its occurrence then 25 minutes elapsed between the first impact and Bush‘s being informed of the second impact. It is reasonable to assume 10 to 15 minutes between Bush’s seeing the first impact on TV and his being informed of the second impact by Card. This means that, if Bush saw a replay of an amateur video, then 10 to 15 minutes elapsed between the first impact and Bush’s seeing it on TV. It is doubtful that anyone who had taken such an amateur video could have informed a network TV station that he had the event on tape and that the TV station could then have obtained the video, prepared it for broadcasting, and broadcast it, all within 10 to 15 minutes.
In fact, as we now know, there was no amateur video of the first impact. The only known footage was taken by a French cameraman who was shooting a documentary about a probationary New York fireman. (This is now known as the Fireman’s Video and indicates that the plane which hit the North Tower was not AA Flight 11.)
CBS News Producer Kia Baskerville Was With The President
(CBS) Kia Baskerville is a CBS News White House producer. She was traveling with President Bush when the “terror attacks” occurred on Sept. 11, 2001
“I went on the Florida trip at the last minute, replacing our White House Correspondent John Roberts. The day started out very early in the morning with the president jogging on a local golf course — it was hot, muggy and too many mosquitoes. The most we were expecting from him was a brief comment on the day’s topic — education, and hopefully taxes — if we were lucky.
A couple of hours later, as the presidential motorcade headed to President Bush’s first event, I received a call on my cell phone from a producer who said that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center in New York.
I honestly couldn’t believe what I had just heard and fifteen minutes later I was standing in a second grade classroom with 20 students, who were getting ready to read for the president. He was visiting Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota.
So we must conclude that what George W. Bush saw was not a replay of an amateur video but had to be a live transmission conveyed to his limousine.