Monday, August 15, 2005

60 Minutes: How Bush and Cheney failed to defend America on 9-11

You know how they have that big clock on TV every Sunday night, ticking off each segment of "60 Minutes"? Well, here is a 60-minute segment I would LOVE to see -- those crucial 60 minutes before the airliners hit the towers on September 11, 2001. I imagine it would go something like this:

"I'm Leslie Stahl." At last, America, this 60 minutes is for YOU.

"Now tell me," Leslie would say as she interviewed the head of NORAD, the air defense command unit responsible for intercepting hijacked airplanes, "after the airliners were in the air, they began to veer off course from their filed flight plan. Why didn't you immediately intercept them? Isn't that standard operating procedure?"

"Usually when an airplane goes off course like that," replied General NORAD, "we scramble jets within minutes and intercept the plane immediately. However a few months before 9/11, Dick Cheney issued a standing order that, should this situation happen to arise, we were to stand down until he told us to act. In those crucial early minutes of flight pattern deviation on the morning of September 11, 2001, that crucial order was withheld."

"If that order hadn't been withheld, would you have been able to prevent the destruction of the World Trade Center?"


"Is that what happened with Flight 93?"

"Yes. We were able to determine that the plane was indeed hijacked and we intercepted it over Pennsylvania. Had we been given permission to scramble 30 minutes earlier, we would have been able to stop the WTC tragedy. Definitely."

"Do you have any idea WHY Dick Cheney refused to allow you to defend our country on that day?"

"I have no idea whatsoever. Either it was a sloppy bureaucratic snafu on a level of ineptness that borders on the criminal or it was deliberate treason."

"Either way, America lost?"

"Either way, America lost."

"I'm Leslie Stahl. This has been 60 Minutes."

Then of course Andy would finish the show with some of his usual words of wisdom. "I'm Andy Rooney. When you combine Dick Cheney's unbelievable errors of judgment with George Bush's failure to act on the pre-9/11 intelligence warnings supplied to him by his security advisers, you see a pattern of bumbling and ineptitude that would have been laughable -- or even criminal -- when I was a lad." You got that right, Andy!