Did VP Cheney have the authority to order the military to shoot down the last commercial airliner still in flight (or so those in Washington thought) on 9-11?
According to Cheney, he discussed the decision with the President earlier in the morning via phone. But of all the people on both sides of that conversation, only one even hinted at remembering a discussion that would ultimately lead to a unprecedented military order (and one would assume, a pretty memorable one). Many on the 9-11 commission were highly skeptical that the call ever took place. In fact, the White House demanded that they “clean up” a draft of their report that indicated this skepticism.
We need to pay close attention here. On one hand, you’ve got reports of an order which, as terrible as it seems, was clearly the right move (albeit, several minutes too late as the plane had already crashed in Pennsylvania). On the other hand, you’ve got a story that doesn’t quite seem to add up, a concern about who exactly was in charge, and equally important, an obviously antagonistic relationship between the Bush administration and the panel charged by the people of this country to get to the bottom of all things 9-11.
What we are left with is more doubts. More doubts that Bush and Cheney believe the American people deserve the truth. More questions as to why the two of them had to testify together (still perhaps the weirdest political moment of their terms in office). And more of sense that the hubris of an inner circle trumps all else in this White House.