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What Did They Know Page

Why did George Bush behave so strangely on September 11, 2001?

Most of the links below no longer work, but there is enough
information in each excerpt to find the article
at the Internet archive's WayBack Machine or in LexisNexis.


Two Planes Crash Into World Trade Center , DetroitNow News, September 11, 2001:

“In Florida, Bush was reading to children in a classroom at 9:05 a.m. when his chief of staff, Andrew Card, whispered into his ear. The president briefly turned somber before he resumed reading. He addressed the tragedy about a half-hour later.” [Emphasis added.]  

Bush: Terrorism 'will not stand',, September 12, 2001:

“Bush, who learned of the incident about 9 a.m., was to return immediately to Washington, where he planned to convene a national security meeting.”

[So why DIDN’T he return to Washington?  Not because of threats to bomb the White House.  Those allegations have been disproven.—Caro]

Where are you, Mr Bush?, Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian of London, September 14, 2001:

The US president has been notable for one thing during this crisis - his absence. And when he has been there, the performance hasn't exactly been vintage.  

The obscure goat story of 9-11,, September 21, 2001:

When one learns of tragic news at the first hearing, his reaction is always described with characteristic words such as shocked, dismayed, worried, awe, sadness, or upset.  This describes how all of us reacted when we first heard the news of the WTC disaster... that is, all of us except President Bush, according to the reporters who were watching and observing him.”

[And according to the videotapes of the event.—Caro]  

Stills from the video of Bush being told about the second WTC tower being hit, on September 11, courtesy of Leon C in Australia

Bush reveals first thought: There's one terrible pilot, Matthew Engel, The Guardian of London, December 5, 2001

President George Bush added a new and bizarre twist last night to the folklore surrounding September 11 when he revealed his initial reaction to the first plane hitting the World Trade Centre. In answer to a question from an eight-year-old in Florida, he said his first thought was: ‘There's one terrible pilot.’”

Bush's Curious Behavior, April M,, posted December 5, 2001

“Is this the reaction we would expect from the President of the United States?  To continue reading as if nothing had happened?  He had already been informed by Rice about the first plane.  I can only assume that Card was informing him of the second plane or the third plane at the Pentagon.  I was taken aback by these reports.”

How could Bush have seen the FIRST plane crash into the WTC?  Film of the first plane crash wasn’t available until much later in the day:
White House

President Meets with Displaced Workers in Town Hall Meeting, December 4, 2001

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Jordan.  Well, Jordan, you're not going to believe what state I was in when I heard about the terrorist attack.  I was in Florida.  And my Chief of Staff, Andy Card -- actually, I was in a classroom talking about a reading program that works.  I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower -- the TV was obviously on.  And I used to fly, myself, and I said, well, there's one terrible pilot.  I said, it must have been a horrible accident.”

President Holds Town Hall Forum on Economy in California, January 5, 2002

“Anyway, I was sitting there, and my Chief of Staff -- well, first of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building.  There was a TV set on.  And you know, I thought it was pilot error and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake.  And something was wrong with the plane, or -- anyway, I'm sitting there, listening to the briefing, and Andy Card came and said, ‘America is under attack."’”

[He nevertheless continued to read to the children for another half hour after Andy Card told him “America is under attack.”—Caro]

Bush Fled 'Harm's Way' After 911 Attacks, Edwin Chen, Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2002 (archived at

“President Bush spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday about his fears for himself and his family in the hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling a German television reporter he was ‘trying to get out of harm's way’ before returning to the White House.”

Which brings up the question of why Bush was absent from his military duty for so long:
One-year gap in Bush's National Guard duty, Walter V. Robinson, Boston Globe, May 23, 2000:

“In his final 18 months of military service in 1972 and 1973, Bush did not fly at all. And for much of that time, Bush was all but unaccounted for: For a full year, there is no record that he showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen.”

One year after:  Requiem for America, by (Flash presentation)

What Did They Know Page

Last changed: December 13, 2009