Comments: Minor notes

The nuclear security codes travel with the President and Air Force One is a mobile command post with encrypted communications to DoD major headquarters. The President is accompanied by an encrypted satellite phone with world-wide coverage. If Bush needed to contact anyone, he can do it from wherever he is. The military head of the White House ready room was with the President on the trip.

Just another convenient lie, Cheney did it because Bush froze and decided to read to school children when the nation was under attack.

Posted by Bryan at June 18, 2004 08:42 PM

The rest of the time I spend wondering, as I've said frequently in recent days, just how we got into such a mess.

Easy, too many people in this country voted for Bush.

Posted by anonymous at June 18, 2004 09:07 PM

Almost. . . As Stirling writes:

The great evils of this world do not grow out of the sand, but out of the soil which we have carefully had mortals nurture.

Posted by Hal at June 18, 2004 11:56 PM

If you've worked at either for the White House Communication Agency or in the Pentagon Command Centers, then you'd know your statement "he can contact anyone" is not quite true and the nuclear procedures are different than other secure communications. The chain of command for military actions runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense (and that's where the secure comms problems were) to an operational commander (the combatant commander usually). Clearly, if that link is broken, then would suggest no action be taken or should the President use the Vice-President to relay the orders (I suspect most people would opt for the latter)?

Having been in the Pentagon during 9/11, I would tell you comms difficulty was an issue (and if you want to say that is a problem, I would agree with you no doubt). However, what should trouble people far more, is that legitimate orders sent down the chain of command were stopped while others passed on through "less than official" channel were taken as official. I'm also troubled by the fact the President's motorcade made a wrong turn - clearly indicating some folks hadn't rehearsed a "what if" drill (which I think would be standard anytime the President goes somewhere) or did not execute well under the increased pressure.

So, Anne, you write:

I mean, sure, we're told Bush handed over authority to Cheney, but it's not like Bush was, you know, too far away from a phone to do his own job or anything, even if he was reduced to a cell phone at some point.

I'm just saying. If Cheney could call Bush to confirm his "instructions" then surely it would have been possible for Bush to speak directly to the DoD and give a clear order?

Actually, Bush did not hand over authority - he passed on orders...very different...and yes, you can use a cell phone, but as many know, they are NOT secure (unless you have the ones encrypted for secure comms). And yes, it is possible (and again, that maybe a poor reflection on that day's readiness) for Bush not to be able to speak directly (and securely) with the Secretary of Defense - at least temporarily.

Posted by Col Steve at June 21, 2004 05:52 PM

As I understand it, all calls to and from the White House are logged, so why aren't they able to produce 'documentary' evidence that Bush actually called Cheney and ordered him to order planes shot down?

I dunno. As I read the article, it's pretty obvious to me that there's a chain of command and a prescribed procedure, neither of which were followed.

(To be completely honest, most of my scorn for this story centers around my belief that Bush doesn't have the guts to have issued an order to shoot at airplanes full of Americans. It's like the flight's just them pretending he's a macho, macho man, it's not real.

I mean, maybe it's possible that discussing an order to shoot down civilian jets reminded Bush of when he was training to be a "fighter pilot" and maybe it didn't, but the whole story just sounds "off" to me.

Posted by Anne at June 22, 2004 08:13 AM