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Air Force One wasn't a target,
September 27, 2001 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Air Force One wasn't a target, and administration officials now doubt there was a threatening phone call. And radar data indicates that the plane that hit the Pentagon was not headed for the White House.
posted by kirkaracha (37 comments total)

 
I am shocked and dismayed.

Next they'll be telling us the martyrs didn't really booze it up and gamble with strippers in their last days before their attack...
posted by BentPenguin at 11:11 AM on September 27, 2001


bentpenguin: 'your winnings, sir.'
posted by lescour at 11:16 AM on September 27, 2001


Ari Fleischer is not the White House Press Secretary. He is the Minister of Information. He stares into the face of the American people and tells lie after lie after lie. Not the harmless little white lies that are the stock and trade of Washington politics. Great big insulting bald-faced lies.

He is a miserable little weasel. A cockroach. A mealy-mouthed worm. A swollen pus-filled blister on the ass of this country. A turd.

He is a rat-faced, smarmy little goon. A puddle of filth. An asshole, a dickwad and a jerk.

He sucks.
posted by jpoulos at 11:26 AM on September 27, 2001


jpoulos: asshole, sure. turd, granted. swollen pus-filled blister on the ass of this country? Of course...but DICKWAD? Them's fightin' words, hoss! Put up yer dukes!

Actually, I saw the first press conference thing when the idea of Air Force One being a target came out. I remember thinking when I saw the press conference that he didn't say anything about it being a target. The press asking the questions seemed to leap to that conclusion themselves and just kind of go from there. Of course Fleischer didn't do anything to dissuade them once they were all hopped up on the idea.

I just thought it was weird.....like were they going to fly a 767 into Air Force One or something? Didn't make sense.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:34 AM on September 27, 2001


Nobody ever mentioned Air Force One being a target until Dubya started getting criticized for not flying straight back to Washington. I always considered it a silly fabrication, given that while the attacks were occuring the Prez was in a Florida elementary school, and everybody knew it. He wasn't on some secret mission... if the terrorists were trying to take him out the attacks would have occured in Florida.
posted by spilon at 11:40 AM on September 27, 2001


Ari Fleischer is not the White House Press Secretary. He is the Minister of Information.

Thanks, jpoulos.

I'm reminded also of that "extensive" Clinton vandalism Ari lectured about, among other things.

Would you buy a used car from this man?

Anyway, does this mean Bush isn't completely honest and authentic?

Shhhhhhh....

You don't want to be detained do you?

Hey, there's a black helicopter outside....
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 11:43 AM on September 27, 2001


Ari will soon be telling us that Ossama Bin Ladin's goons vandalized the White House offices.

Here's what I don't get:

It was perfectly reasonable to keep Bush out of the White House and away from DC during the attacks. I never supported the guy, but I certainly don't think he's a pussy for not rushing back to his desk while planes where dropping out of the sky that day.

I think most of us agree that we would rather have the guy in charge of the country safe and sound in a time of crisis.

With that in mind, WHY does Ari (and this administration) feel the need to constantly spin and mislead us?

(Oh... jpoulos already answered that one...)
posted by Dirjy at 11:50 AM on September 27, 2001


I'm reminded also of that "extensive" Clinton vandalism Ari lectured about, among other things.

Dammit, Barney, you beat me to it.
posted by Dirjy at 11:51 AM on September 27, 2001



Those familiar with downtown DC would probably agree that it would be damn hard to hit the White House from East and from the West, as the White House is blocked by some pretty tall buildings that would prevent a rapid enough descent. That said, a plane heading from the North (passing most of the city) or South could conceivably reach the target.

This would explain terrorists going over the Pentagon, and then possibly over the Potomac, the Mall, and into the White House. It's the easiest route, and it's the route that helicopters flying into the White House take.
posted by Witold at 11:56 AM on September 27, 2001


Remember when Saddam Hussein used to command the 3rd most powerful army in the world (or so said the highly informative Bush administration)?

Remember when the US showed up, and they were just a ragtag bunch of guys without supplies who surrendered as hard and as quickly as they could?

That's what I thought about when I heard the "Bush is a target" story.

The White House will say whatever comes to mind, no matter how tenuous or far-fetched, to keep their approval rating. To use a word invented by GWB yesterday, the Administration "misunderestimated" the intelligence of the American public. But I doubt it.
posted by websavvy at 11:58 AM on September 27, 2001


So, any chance revbrian is going to apologize for posting Meehan's phone number and asking people to call him and give him a hard time for question whether Air Force One was a target? I doubt it.

Ari's is the kind of person who's first instinct is to lie. That is just the opposite of what Joe Lockhart did. In the Frontline special on the office of the Press Secretary Joe admitted that it is hard sometimes to resist lying to the press, but that he always tried to make sure that his response was true. Ari doesn't even try. Nor does he care. And every time he gets caught in his lies he tries to turn the tables. So in this case, he told everyone that the White House and Air Force One were a target. When it was found out that this was unlikely, what does he say?

"But that's not what this is about. This has nothing to do with anything . . . that may or may not have been directed at President Bush. This is about an attack that took place on our country."

I think jpoulos hit the nail on the head. This guy is scum. And I think I will take him in the pool of the first Administration member to be fired--although they will claim he wants to spend more time with his family ;)
posted by terrapin at 12:14 PM on September 27, 2001


I watched the original press conference and laughed out loud. It was the only humor in those dark first two days. Everyone in the press room knew Fleischer was perpetrating a charade to rationalize Bush's delay in getting back to D.C. Which given the chaos, really didn't need to be rationalized.

Also, Medianews is reporting the White House has doctored its official transcripts to try and deny another Ari quote.

Not coincidently, Helen Thomas yesterday asked Ari point blank, "Ari, would you ever lie to us [the press]?"

He answered "No."

Of course, he was no doubt lying.
posted by darren at 12:16 PM on September 27, 2001


[any chance revbrian is going to apologize]

Not a chance in this world or the next! You could have called and told him you agreed with his stand or you could have called and told him you thought it was an inappropriate time to be questioning the presidents actions publically.

I still haven't figured out why giving out the office number of an elected official is a crime to some of you. Had I given out his private number I'd get your complaint. As it is, I guess you're just whiners.
posted by revbrian at 12:28 PM on September 27, 2001


Not a chance in this world or the next!

If you won't apologize to Meehan (and there's no reason you should), maybe you should apologize to NewsMax for stealing their brilliant idea?
posted by espada at 1:29 PM on September 27, 2001


don't forget an apology for ripping off drudge as well since revbrian's post *coincidentally* went up right after drudge posted basically the same comments on his site.
posted by saralovering at 1:38 PM on September 27, 2001


If Airforce One was a target, why was the president kept on it even longer than necessary?

Diverting the president temporarily from D.C. seemed a logical security step to me. Why the need to invent and lie about a specific threat? That to me is the disturbing part.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:31 PM on September 27, 2001


If Airforce One was a target, why was the president kept on it even longer than necessary?

Diverting the president temporarily from D.C. seemed a logical security step to me. Why the need to invent and lie about a specific threat? That to me is the disturbing part.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:32 PM on September 27, 2001


If Airforce One was a target, why was the president kept on it even longer than necessary?

Diverting the president temporarily from D.C. seemed a logical security step to me. Why the need to invent and lie about a specific threat? That to me is the disturbing part.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:32 PM on September 27, 2001


If Airforce One was a target, why was the president kept on it even longer than necessary?

Diverting the president temporarily from D.C. seemed a logical security step to me. Why the need to invent and lie about a specific threat? That to me is the disturbing part.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:32 PM on September 27, 2001


revbrian: I still haven't figured out why giving out the office number of an elected official is a crime to some of you

Within the context of your post, some probably felt you were asking people to harass Mr. Meehan and that your claim that there's nothing wrong with posting the number in and of itself is just a feeble attempt to separate an action from its full context. Of course, there's no reason to believe that people would call Mr. Meehan's office with anything other than reasoned criticism. That's obviously just spin.
posted by dchase at 2:47 PM on September 27, 2001


Look, in the chaos, we all remember that there was a lot of simply false information flying around. I specifically remeber hearing reports that there was a car bomb at the State Department and explosions at the Capitol - neither of which were true.

In a recent interview with Tim Russert, Rudy Giuliani basically stated that he had no idea what was going on for perhaps hours because he couldn't get accurate information. Granted, he's got fewer resources, but it illustrates the point.

I don't think we'll ever really know what they knew during those first few crazy hours, but if some of the things they said they believed at the time turned out not to be true, then I'm not at all surprised.
posted by mikewas at 2:59 PM on September 27, 2001


Should I be surprised that someone named "jeff-o-matic" just quadruple posted? :)

I still haven't figured out why giving out the office number of an elected official is a crime to some of you.

Funny, I can't figure out why the operators of that Nuremberg website listing the names, numbers, photos, DOB, SSN, addresses, and lists of family members of OB-GYNs that perform(ed) abortions would be accused of anything but healthy debate and discourse. Okay, that's a bit of a stretch comparison, but as dchase pointed out, your referenced post started out seeming very much like an invitation to complain to them, not so much in a "let's have a healthy discourse" way. I'll give you credit that you pulled back later in that thread- including offering your own number- but the point remains that it seemed like a cheap, partisan Freeper-esque thing to do, to try to coordinate a phone-based attack on an elected representative for voicing a theory that you didn't agree with only because it attacks your boy. A theory that, as it turns out, was rooted in a great deal of truth. Had this thread been posted as "New story reveals revbrian was wrong to attack Meehan. His office number is ...", I suspect you'd feel that wasn't something easily mistaken as simply an invitation for people to contact you and tell they respect your opinion and the hard work you do.
posted by hincandenza at 3:50 PM on September 27, 2001



Any wagers on William Safire (not) setting his column on fire retracting the Air Force-One-as-a-target theory?
posted by mmarcos at 4:12 PM on September 27, 2001


but if some of the things they said they believed at the time turned out not to be true, then I'm not at all surprised.

It's not a question of belief. It's a question of manufacturing a story of receiving a radio threat to Airforce One.

Fleisher should be fired. If he's not fired, we should look at Bush.
posted by rushmc at 4:35 PM on September 27, 2001


It's a moot point now: the White House press department constructed (I'll give them the benefit, and not say "concocted") a story to get the President through a couple of days where people were questioning his movements and motives. In that respect, it was the "right thing" to say at the time, although "no comment" or "we received security advice" would have been a lot better.


What it establishes, though, is a precedent; journalists hate being taken for a ride, and I'd suspect that even in a climate of pulling-togetherness, you're going to get a fair few in the Washington bureau who give every claim and official leak loud and exacting scrutiny.
posted by holgate at 5:49 PM on September 27, 2001


In that respect, it was the "right thing" to say at the time

EXCUSE ME?!? In what respect was that again??
posted by rushmc at 5:56 PM on September 27, 2001


I think it was the "right thing" to say in that it helped avoid a public relations gaffe at a time when the public desperately needed to believe that whoever was running the country knew what the fuck they were doing.

(Of course, it turns out they didn't ....)
posted by mattpfeff at 6:38 PM on September 27, 2001


it was the "right thing" to say at the time

WTF is wrong with Secret Service would not allow it and it's their sworn duty to keep Mr. Prez out of harms way?
posted by Nauip at 6:40 PM on September 27, 2001


It's not the hiding, it's the lying about the hiding. Or Hyding, as the case may be. :)

Anyhoo, it's been suggested that since other presidents have overruled the SS to make that public appearance of strength and not being intimidated during a time of crisis, Bush was a wuss for running scared while Rome burned. I don't agree, actually- in this case, it seems prudent to ensure the President is kept out of harms way until a full sense of what is being attacked becomes apparent, and Bush overriding it wouldn't send a message of strength, it would just be risky. I mean, no one would criticize those in the second WTC building for evacuating before that second plane hit, before anyone even knew it was a terrorist attack much less what was targeted. Given that, though, why the hell did they lie about it- other than it seems to have become ingrained as a neurotically habitual thing that the Bush Corp does, always lying or spinning about their widdle boy to make him seem more presidential. Even if holgate's hypothesis holds water, it seems the best tack would have been to diffuse it as a criticism altogether, with perfectly reasonable explanations rather than some hokum about secret codes and threats.
posted by hincandenza at 7:34 PM on September 27, 2001



I think it was the "right thing" to say in that it helped avoid a public relations gaffe

Huh? This IS the gaffe...
posted by rushmc at 7:44 PM on September 27, 2001


Huh? This IS the gaffe...

agreed -- but Bush had credibility when he most needed it. That is, people pretty much gave him the benefit of the doubt (until now), and he was able to deliver some of what analysts said were the most significant speeches in U.S. history without being labelled a coward by more than one pundit....
posted by mattpfeff at 9:48 PM on September 27, 2001


It seems obvious to me that the guy who made the prank phone call about Air Force One was Dick Cheney, who wanted to keep the Chimp out of his hair (what's left of it) until he and the actual rulers got a handle on the situation.
posted by Allen Varney at 10:19 PM on September 27, 2001


Actually, that's only half- funny: while Bush was in Florida as it was, you know who was in the White House that very morning? George Bush Sr. Things that make you go hmmm... given that, it's no wonder they work so hard to spin Bush Jr. as "Presidential"- they have to.
posted by hincandenza at 11:22 PM on September 27, 2001


agreed -- but Bush had credibility when he most needed it. That is, people pretty much gave him the benefit of the doubt (until now), and he was able to deliver some of what analysts said were the most significant speeches in U.S. history without being labelled a coward by more than one pundit....

So what you're saying is, we gave him the benefit of the doubt, despite the stench of something fishy, and he abused that trust and lied to and manipulated us for reasons of his own, which you speculate were important and served us in some way. Where is the good part of this?

Now his credibility is shot, just when he (and we) REALLY needs it the most.
posted by rushmc at 6:25 AM on September 28, 2001


but Bush had credibility when he most needed it.

And that was my point, rushmc. I suspect that the PR thinking was something like "a small scandal to discuss at leisure once we've regained some control of the situation" versus "a scandal to discuss right now, on top of people asking 'where was the President?' and remembering his use of the word 'folks'." Buying time, pure and simple. A tactic that's pretty common in wartime.

As you say, that's pretty damaging to his credibility -- but only in retrospect, and in the minds of those who bother to follow up the stories: ie unpatriotic partisan pinko leftie terrorists like ourselves. Just like the "vandalism" at the White House, the initial (false) reports were loud and in prime-time, and the retractions were made quietly, on page B24. Which report is going to linger longest in the minds of Joe Public? You guessed it.

It's the temporality of the thing. It's pure presentation politics. Karl Rove must be proud of himself.
posted by holgate at 7:31 AM on September 28, 2001


he was able to deliver some of what analysts said were the most significant speeches in U.S. history without being labelled a coward by more than one pundit....

Ok, did you actually mean this? All I heard were a bunch of platitudes strung together. Hell, his speeches weren't even the most significant speeches in the last two weeks much less US history. Let me listen to Colin Powell over GWB any day.
posted by jnthnjng at 8:15 AM on September 28, 2001


While on the subject of lying politicians, cover-ups and jetliners, I am curious why the blackbox recordings (or even selected transcripts) of the Pennsylvania crash have not yet been released to the public. You'd think journalists would be clamoring for the recordings of the struggle between the hijackers and the passengers. Given that a fighter jet was tracking the doomed plane makes some wonder how the plane really went down and what (if anything) the govt. is hiding about the crash.
posted by MJoachim at 11:04 AM on September 28, 2001


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