9/11 Commission testimony 5/23/03:
Lee Hamilton: We thank you for that. I wanted to focus just a moment on the Presidential Emergency Operating Center [PEOC]. You were there for a good part of the day. I think you were there with the vice president. And when you had that order given, I think it was by the president, that authorized the shooting down of commercial aircraft that were suspected to be controlled by terrorists, were you there when that order was given?
Norm 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 --
Lee Hamilton: The flight you're referring to is the --
Norm Mineta: The flight that came into the Pentagon. ...
Norm Mineta: I didn't know about the order to shoot down. I arrived at the PEOC at about 9:20 a.m. And the president was in Florida, and I believe he was on his way to Louisiana at that point when the conversation that went on between the vice president and the president and the staff that the president had with him.
Tim Roemer: So when you arrived at 9:20 [at the Presidential Emergency Operating Center in the White House], how much longer was it before you overheard the conversation between the young man and the vice president saying, "Does the order still stand?"
Norm Mineta: Probably about five or six minutes.
Tim Roemer: So about 9:25 or 9:26. And your inference
was that the vice president snapped his head around and said, "Yes, the order still stands." Why did you infer that that was a shoot-down?
Editor's note: Secretary Mineta's testimony directly contradicts the 9/11 Commission Report on two key points and it is entirely omitted from the 9/11 Commission Report.
1. Mr. Mineta testified he arrived at the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) in the White House at 9:20 a.m. and observed Vice President Dick Cheney discussing with an aide that the incoming Flight 77 was 50 miles out at 9:25 or 9:26. The 9/11 Commission Report maintains Vice President Cheney did not arrive at the PEOC until 9:58, over one-half hour later. Mr. Mineta's testimony is further supported by the fact that Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37, which is the correct time it would have taken Flight 77 to arrive at the Pentagon, if it had been about 50 miles out at 9:26.
2. The Commission Report maintains the government did not know the whereabouts of Flight 77 prior to 9:32, when Dulles Tower air controllers "observed a primary radar target tracking eastbound at a high rate of speed". Mr. Mineta's testimony reveals Vice President Cheney was being informed of the plane's position for several minutes before that, and perhaps considerably longer.
Also of interest, is that the first approximately 15 minutes of Mr. Mineta's testimony before the Commission during which he discusses the points mentioned above, have been edited out of the official 9/11 Commission video archives (Panel 1, Friday, May 23. 2003). However, his full testimony does appear in the written transcript.
(Textergänzungen von Zachary Findlay Maddox)