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Did you miss the introduction to this year’s campaign?

In the midst of the organized chaos of September 11th, when the US government “officially” could not find the plane headed towards the Pentagon, a few people knew where it was. On a day filled with plausible deniability, that’s saying a lot.

While there was “confusion” over what planes were headed towards Washington, a few people were decidedly sure about what they saw and heard. There were rumors that the VP and the 9/11 Commission Report may not have been truthful on their timeline of events.

Reports surfaced about a series of exchanges in which a military aide tracking one specific plane kept coming in to the President’s Emergency Operations Center with updates on the plane’s distance from Washington. Later, it was determined that this plane was the one that supposedly hit the Pentagon.

The 9/11 Commission report includes the following as the official record.

At some time between 10:10 and 10:15, a military aide told the Vice President and others that the aircraft was 80 miles out. Vice President Cheney was asked for authority to engage the aircraft. His reaction was described by Scooter Libby as quick and decisive, “in about the time it takes a batter to decide to swing.” The Vice President authorized fighter aircraft to engage the inbound plane. He told us he based this authorization on his earlier conversation with the President. The military aide returned a few minutes later, probably between 10:12 and 10:18, and said the aircraft was 60 miles out. He again asked for authorization to engage. The Vice President again said yes.

This part of the report is factually incorrect.

The testimony of former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta directly contradicts this assertion. This 9/11 legend became a confirmed fact after the May 2003 hearings in which Mineta stated he was in the room at the time.

Below is a transcript excerpt from Mineta’s testimony.

Public Hearing; Friday, May 23, 2003, Hart Senate Office Building, Room 216
Washington, DC

MR. MINETA: No, I was not. I was made aware of it during the time that the airplane coming into the Pentagon. There was a young man who had come in and said to the vice president, “The plane is 50 miles out. The plane is 30 miles out.” And when it got down to, “The plane is 10 miles out,” the young man also said to the vice president, “Do the orders still stand?” And the vice president turned and whipped his neck around and said, “Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?” Well, at the time I didn’t know what all that meant. And —

MR. HAMILTON: The flight you’re referring to is the —

MR. MINETA: The flight that came into the Pentagon.

MR. HAMILTON: The Pentagon, yeah.

Trans. Sec Norman Mineta Testimony

Norman Mineta and Richard Clarke Contradict the 9/11 Commission Report

The popular notion is that the messenger was VP Dick Cheney’s former Naval aide, Cmdr. Doug Cochran, however it seems more like another person was involved based on the evidence.

By process of elimination, many say the evidence points to Cochrane, based on the 9/11 Commission records. Cochrane was summoned for questioning in April 2004 after the May 2003 testimony of Mineta.

The debunkers suggest that the whole thing is false because Secretary Mineta called the messenger “young man”, which one would think refers to someone in their 20s or 30s (maybe 40s if not quite so visibly aged). However, Mineta was 71 at the time, leaving a lot of leeway for the “young man” reference. Also for a respectful man, that would seem to be a generic term. Cochrane could be the one he referred to, if you roll the clock back 10 years, change the hair and appearance, but that is unlikely. There’s also Cochrane’s continued close proximity to Cheney as he himself noted he left with the VP on a chopper, however it still would make more sense for another person to have given that warning (an aide of Cochrane possibly).

The specific notes, related to Cochrane’s timeline and actions in the PEOC, have been restricted. It’s been deemed classified as a “national security” priority. See the pdf version. There’s really no reason for this info to be redacted as it was only Cochrane’s timeline from when he entered the PEOC. People knew he was there, Cheney was there, it’s known what was said too. These things start to stack up and are the kind of things an investigation would challenge.

There is also an August 2010 interview in which Cochrane dodges the notion that he was the vaunted messenger. Cochrane does however confirm he was in the room and that he “remembers” Mineta. By itself, this doesn’t necessarily mean it was him as he could have just been avoiding culpability in any investigation but he could have also outright denied it.

Regardless, what is clear is that the exchange happened, Cheney was aware of the Pentagon situation as it unfolded, and it seems he and others involved allowed it to happen. What other explanation is there for the situation? Unless Cheney gave an order which wasn’t followed, to shoot down the plane for example, isn’t this a clear example of willful blindness?


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