The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, February 12, 2004  

“You bet.”

“This is Amy Sweeney. I’m on Flight 11 -- this plane has been hijacked.”

“Listen to me, and listen to me very carefully.”

“Michael, this plane has been hijacked.”

“The hijackers showed me a bomb.”

“I see water. I see buildings. We’re flying low, we’re flying way too low.”

“Oh, my God.”

New to you?

Doesn’t sound familiar?

Haven’t heard that on the news a hundred times?

You’re forgiven, because the Bush administration, the FAA, the CIA, the FBI, American Airlines, and United Airlines, among a shockingly large number of other decidedly not disinterested parties, would much prefer you didn’t know those words were spoken, early on the morning of September 11, 2001, by Amy Sweeney, until that day an American Airlines flight attendant.

The above quotes are but a tiny portion from what is easily the best reporting to date on the events of 9/11 and efforts by the Bush administration and the airlines to, after the fact, cover up, conceal, hide, obscure, and obfuscate a mounting pile of damning evidence written by Gail Sheehy, for the New York Observer, “Stewardess ID’d Hijackers Early, Transcripts Show.”

I hope Sheehy stays on the story. After all, and I mean this not as an insult, because her piece is mind-boggling in its scope and intensity, but nobody else is working on this.

Among much else, and I’m still digesting the article, Sheehy draws at least my attention to yet another piece of cowboy idiocy on the part of President Paint by Numbers, one I missed earlier: he’s not only Mr. President “Bring It On!” he’s also Mr. President “You Bet!”

Sheehy reports:

At 9:30 a.m., six minutes after receiving orders from NORAD, three F-16’s were airborne, according to NORAD’s timeline. At first, the planes were directed toward New York and probably reached 600 miles per hour within two minutes, said Maj. Gen. Mike J. Haugen, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard. Once it was apparent that the New York suicide missions were accomplished, the Virginia-based fighters were given a new flight target: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The pilots heard an ominous squawk over the plane’s transponder, a code that indicates almost an emergency wartime footing. General Haugen says the F-16’s were asked to confirm that the Pentagon was on fire. The lead flier looked down and verified the worst.

Then the pilots received the most surreal order of the morning, from a voice identifying itself as a representative of the Secret Service. According to General Haugen, the voice said: “I want you to protect the White House at all costs.”

During that time, Vice President Richard Cheney called President George W. Bush to urge him to give the order that any other commercial airliners controlled by hijackers be shot down. In Bob Woodward’s book, Bush at War, the time of Mr. Cheney’s call was placed before 10 a.m. The Vice President explained to the President that a hijacked airliner was a weapon; even if the airliner was full of civilians, Mr. Cheney insisted, giving American fighter pilots the authority to fire on it was “the only practical answer.”

The President responded, according to Mr. Woodward, “You bet.”

Oh, and by the way, if I were Lisa -- “Lets roll!” (multiple trademark disputes pending) -- Beamer, I’d start pulling back from whatever speaking engagements and other self-promotional events might still linger on the calendar:

Melody Homer is another young widow of a 9/11 pilot. Her husband, LeRoy Homer, a muscular former Air Force pilot, was the first officer of United’s Flight 93. The story put out by United -- of heroic passengers invading the cockpit and struggling with the terrorists -- is not believable to Melody Homer or to Sandy Dahl, widow of the plane’s captain, Jason Dahl. Mrs. Dahl was a working flight attendant with United and knew the configuration of that 757 like the back of her hand.

“We can’t imagine that passengers were able to get a cart out of its locked berth and push it down the single aisle and jam it into the cockpit with four strong, violent men behind the door,” said Ms. Homer. She believes that the victims’ family members who broke a confidentiality agreement and gave their interpretation of sounds they’d heard on the cockpit tape misinterpreted the shattering of china. “When a plane goes erratic, china falls.”

I still think that plane was shot down. If it were, that is a decision I believe could be reasonably justified. Tell us the truth. We can handle the truth.

You really have to read Sheehy’s lengthy and masterful article. Print a copy. Send the link around. Distribute the article to friends and family. Then read it again. Try not to scream out loud the second time.

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