President Bush’s former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who was on Air Force One with President George W Bush in the immediate after math of the 9/11 attacks. It gives us an insight into the president’s thoughts on the crises. Fleischer released the notes to give everyone information on how the government was operating during the crises.
President Bush learned of the first plane at 8:45 that morning. The notes cover the time after Bush boarded Air Force One:
- Bush to Cheney: “I heard about the Pentagon. Sounds like we have a minor war going on.”
- Bush to leaders in Congress: “We are at war.”
- Fleischer writes down that the president’s daughters have been moved to a “safe” location.
- Bush finds out that his daughters didn’t want to leave their apartments for a safe house.
There were also rumors that the State Department had been bombed and that there were fast flying objects heading for the Bush Ranch. Both reports were false. But it does show us that even the president can be fed false information. Both reports were confirmed to be false about 2 hours into the flight. The Secret Service had decided the president would be safer if he kept moving without anyone knowing where he was or where he was headed. Bush, himself was anxious to get back to the White House, because he thought it was a bad idea to allow the terrorists to keep him out of Washington.
Bush talked to Cheney from AF 1:
“I think it’s important 4 ppl 2 see the gov is functioning because TV shows our nation has been blasted and bombed. Gov is not chaotic.
It’s functioning smoothly. We’re going 2 get the bastards. It’s the new war. It’s the faceless coward that [attacks].”
After the call, Bush said:
“I can’t wait to find out who did it. It’s going to take a while + we’re not going 2 have a little slap on the wrist crap.”
Five minutes later, he contacted Sen Chuck Schumer and NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani if there was anything he could do to help them.
Wanting to be back home, Bush says, “I want to go back home ASAP. I don’t want whoever this is holding me outside of Washington.” He assures his staff that America is going to “hunt down and destroy” whoever is behind the attacks.
Bush then decides that he is going to go home, so he orders his military aide to chart a course back to Washington. He finally gets to talk to his wife and First Lady Laura Bush at 4:39 p.m., and that’s where some vulnerability from the Commander-in-Chief begins to be visible:
He says, “I’m coming home. See you at the White House. Love you … go on home. If I’m in the WH and there’s a plane coming my way, all I can say is I hope I read my Bible that day.”
He didn’t even stop once to play golf.