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Is it President Cheney?

Reported by Judy - June 17, 2004 -

The 9/11 hearings on June 17 raised the possibility that Vice President Dick Cheney may have usurped the president's power during the initial response to the hijackings.

The staff report at 9:14 a.m. EDT said that President Bush says he authorized the shootdown of commercial jetliners during a telephone call to Cheney that morning. "No documentary evidence for this call" could be found, although sources are incomplete.

The staff reported that when Cheney authorized military fighter jets to shoot down United Flight 93, someone in the command bunker suggested Cheney call Bush and tell him the order had been given. The shoot-down order, however, never went to the pilots. The chain of command for such orders is from the president to the secretary of defense. The commisison staff says the president and Rumsfeld never discussed the shoot down order. Rumsfeld also was not involved with Cheney when the shoot down order was given.

Other damning evidence of Bush's non-engagement at this critical moment emerged. Bush's traveling party had no contact with the military. Bush told the commission that he sat in a Florida classroom listening to children read instead of taking command of the nation's military because he wanted to project an image of calm, even as reporters' cell phones and pagers were going off in the back of the room.

The staff testimony took issue with military assurances that their aircraft would have shot down Flight 93, had it not crashed into a field in Pennsylvania due to heroic actions of passengers. "We are not so sure," the staff said. The only fighter jets authorized to shoot down the plane were ones scrambled by the Secret Service out of Andrews Air Force Base, rather than scrambled by Norad out of Langley.

In a summary of the testimony at 9:24 a.m. EDT, Catherine Herridge of Washington for Fox News focused on the response of Norad and the FAA, not mentioning Bush's non-involvement.

Bush is going to use some mega-damage control, if the press manages to pick up on this.