SLUG: 2-280608 CHENEY / Terrorism Timeline (L only)
TITLE=CHENEY-TERRORISM TIMELINE (L Only)
BYLINE= PAULA WOLFSON
DATELINE= WHITE HOUSE
INTRO: Vice-President Dick Cheney has provided a chilling account of the decision making process within the Bush administration on the day terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He says at one point, President Bush ordered U-S military aircraft to shoot down any commercial plane headed for Washington that refused to change course. V-O-A White House Correspondent Paula Wolfson has details.
TEXT: Mr. Cheney's tone was calm and businesslike as he described events at the White House on September 11th.
He said immediately after attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush ordered U-S military pilots already patrolling the skies over Washington to shoot down any incoming commercial airliner that refused to divert.
Now, people say that is a horrendous decision to make. Well, it is.
Mr. Cheney said, thankfully, the military never had to activate that order.
////CHENEY ACT TWO///
Now, it turned out we did not have to execute on that authorization. But there were a few moments when we thought we might.
The Vice-President said it is difficult to even contemplate shooting down a commercial jet. But he said if U-S military aircraft had been on patrol in New York the attack on the World Trade Center might have been prevented.
Mr. Cheney made the revelation during an appearance on N-B-C's "Meet the Press". While most of the hour long interview dealt with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the most fascinating moments came when the Vice-President described the scene at the White House on that fateful day.
He was in his office when the attacks occurred. President Bush was in Florida.
Mr. Cheney said without warning his security detail came into the office, took him by the arm, and quickly ushered him away.
////CHENEY ACT THREE//
They are bigger than I am and they hoisted me up and moved me very rapidly down the hallway, down some stairs, through some doors, down some more stairs to an underground facility under the White House.
Vice-President Cheney said that given the risk to Washington, he urged the President to stay away from the nation's capital. Mr. Cheney said it was important, at that moment of uncertainty, for the men at the top of the U-S government to remain in different places.
////CHENEY ACT FOUR ///
I said delay your return. We don't know what is going on here, but it looks like we've been targeted.
Vice-President Cheney said he believes the terrorists on the plane that struck the Pentagon originally planned to hit the White House. Mr. Cheney said the executive mansion apparently proved to be a difficult target because it is located between two massive office buildings. He also said he strongly believes a fourth hijacked plane - - which crashed near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - - was heading for another Washington landmark: the U-S Capitol dome. (signed)
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