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Thread: Who Is Norman Mineta?

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    Who Is Norman Mineta?

    Who Is Norman Mineta?

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    January 21-September 10, 2001: Transportation Secretary Says Bush Administration Does Nothing to Fight Terrorism
    In 2003, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta will later be asked by the 9/11 Commission, “Did this higher level of [terrorist] chatter [before 9/11]… result in any action across the government? I take it your answer is no.” He will reply, “That’s correct.” [Associated Press, 5/23/2003]

    (8:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Some US Leaders Are Scattered; Others in D.C.
    Just prior to learning about the 9/11 attacks, top US leaders are scattered across the country and overseas:

    • President Bush is in Sarasota, Florida. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]
    • Secretary of State Powell is in Lima, Peru. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]
    • General Henry Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is flying across the Atlantic on the way to Europe. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]
    • Attorney General Ashcroft is flying to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh is at a conference in Montana. [ABC News, 9/14/2002] Others are in Washington:
    • Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice are at their offices in the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]
    • Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is at his office in the Pentagon, meeting with a delegation from Capitol Hill. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]
    • CIA Director Tenet is at breakfast with his old friend and mentor, former senator David Boren (D), at the St. Regis Hotel, three blocks from the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]
    • FBI Director Mueller is in his office at FBI Headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]
    • Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is at his office at the Department of Transportation. [US Congress, 9/20/2001]
    • Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is at a conference in the Ronald Reagan Building three blocks from the White House. [Clarke, 2004, pp. 1]

    (8:48 a.m.-9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Transportation Secretary Mineta and FAA Administrator Garvey in Meeting Together; Notified of First WTC Crash
    Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is in a breakfast meeting with the Belgian transportation minister, to discuss aviation issues. FAA Administrator Jane Garvey is also in the meeting, which is in the conference room next to Mineta’s office at the Department of Transportation (DOT) in Washington, DC. Soon after 8:45 a.m., Mineta’s Chief of Staff John Flaherty interrupts, and takes Mineta and Garvey aside to Mineta’s office to tell them that news agencies are reporting that some kind of aircraft has flown into the WTC. While Garvey immediately goes to a telephone and contacts the FAA Operations Center, Mineta continues with the meeting. But a few minutes later Flaherty again takes him aside to tell him the plane is confirmed to be a commercial aircraft, and that the FAA had received an unconfirmed report of a hijacking. The TV is on and Mineta sees the second plane hitting the WTC live. He terminates his meeting with the Belgian minister, and Garvey heads off to the FAA headquarters. The White House calls and requests that Mineta go and operate from there, so he quickly heads out too. He will soon arrive there, and enters its underground bunker at around 9:20 a.m. (see (9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Congress, 9/20/2001; Freni, 2003, pp. 62-63; 9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003] Before leaving the Department of Transportation, Mineta orders the activation of the DOT’s Crisis Management Center (see 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). [US Congress, 10/10/2001]

    9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001: Transportation Department Crisis Management Center Coordinates Emergency Response
    On the order of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the Department of Transportation’s Crisis Management Center (CMC) was quickly activated after the first WTC tower was hit (see (8:48 a.m.-9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001). It is thus fully operational by this time, with security procedures initiated, secure lines of communication, and key contacts on line. The CMC is located in the Office of Emergency Transportation, on the 8th floor of the DOT’s Washington headquarters. It serves as a focal point for the transportation response during emergencies, enabling senior department personnel to conduct operations in a coordinated manner. [US Department of Transportation, 12/30/1999 pdf file; US Congress. Senate. Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, 9/20/2001; US Congress, 10/10/2001; 9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003] It includes representatives from all nine transportation modes (i.e., the different means of transport, such as road, rail, air), including Federal Aviation, as well as public affairs, and intelligence and security functions. It is capable of gathering information in real time via its own reporting system, and provides a flow of information to the DOT leadership, the White House, and Cabinet leaders on developments within the nation’s transportation infrastructure (including in the air). The CMC will remain fully operational, manned on a 24/7 basis, even in the weeks after the attacks have ended. [US Congress, 10/10/2001; Mineta Transportation Institute, 10/30/2001, pp. 12] Furthermore, according to Mineta, in an incident “involving a major crash of any type,” the Office of the Secretary of Transportation “goes into a major information-gathering response. It contacts the mode of administration overseeing whatever mode of transportation is involved in the incident. It monitors press reports, contacts additional personnel to accommodate the surge in operations, and centralizes the information for me through the chief of staff. In major incidents, it will follow a protocol of notification that includes the White House and other agencies involved in the incident.” He says that these activities, “albeit in the nascent stage of information-gathering,” took place in the initial minutes after Flight 11 hit the WTC. [9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003]

    (9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Mineta Reaches Bunker, Meets Cheney
    Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. [Source: US Department of Transportation]Transportation Secretary Mineta arrives at the White House bunker containing Vice President Cheney and others. In later testimony, he recalls that Cheney is already there when he arrives. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/2004] This supports accounts of Cheney reaching the bunker not long after the second WTC crash, but the 9/11 Commission concludes Cheney doesn’t arrive until a few minutes before 10:00 a.m.. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

    (9:26 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Cheney Given Updates on Unidentified Flight 77 Heading toward Washington; Says ‘Orders Still Stand’
    According to some accounts, Vice President Cheney is in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House by this time, along with Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and National Security Adviser Rice. Mineta says that, while a suspicious plane is heading toward Washington, an unidentified young man comes in and says to Cheney, “The plane is 50 miles out.” Mineta confers with Acting FAA Deputy Administrator Monte Belger, who is at the FAA’s Washington headquarters. Belger says to him, “We’re watching this target on the radar, but the transponder’s been turned off. So we have no identification.” According to Mineta, the young man continues updating the vice president, saying, “The plane is 30 miles out,” and when he gets down to “The plane is 10 miles out,” asks, “Do the orders still stand?” In response, Cheney “whipped his neck around and said, ‘Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?’” Mineta says that “just by the nature of all the events going on,” he infers that the order being referred to is a shoot-down order. Nevertheless, Flight 77 continues on and hits the Pentagon. [BBC, 9/1/2002; ABC News, 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003; St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/2004] However, the 9/11 Commission will later claim the plane heading toward Washington is only discovered by the Dulles Airport air traffic control tower at 9:32 a.m. (see 9:32 a.m. September 11, 2001). But earlier accounts, including statements made by the FAA and NORAD, will claim that the FAA notified the military about the suspected hijacking of Flight 77 at 9:24 a.m., if not before (see (9:24 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The FBI’s Washington Field Office was also reportedly notified that Flight 77 had been hijacked at about 9:20 a.m. (see (9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The 9/11 Commission will further contradict Mineta’s account saying that, despite the “conflicting evidence as to when the Vice President arrived in the shelter conference room [i.e., the PEOC],” it has concluded that he only arrived there at 9:58 a.m. It also claims that Condoleezza Rice only entered the PEOC shortly after Cheney did. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] According to the Washington Post, the discussion between Cheney and the young aide over whether “the orders” still stand occurs later than claimed by Mineta, and is in response to Flight 93 heading toward Washington, not Flight 77. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]

    End Part I
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    (After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Cheney Tells Bush to Stay Away from Washington
    Bush speaks on a cell phone while sitting next to Andrew Card as his motorcade nears the Sarasota airport.Bush speaks on a cell phone while sitting next to Andrew Card as his motorcade nears the Sarasota airport. [Source: Associated Press]Having learned that the Pentagon had been hit, Vice President Cheney telephones President Bush, who is on his way to the Sarasota airport, and tells him that the White House has been “targeted.” Bush says he wants to return to Washington, but Cheney advises him not to “until we could find out what the hell was going on.” According to Newsweek, this call takes place in a tunnel on the way to the PEOC underground bunker. Cheney reaches the bunker “shortly before 10:00 a.m.” [Newsweek, 12/31/2001] The 9/11 Commission’s account largely follows Newsweek’s. He reaches the tunnel around the time of the Pentagon crash and lingers by a television and secure telephone as he talks to Bush. The commission has Cheney enter the bunker just before 10:00, but they note, “There is conflicting evidence as to when the vice president arrived in the shelter conference room.” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Indeed, in other accounts, including those of Richard Clarke and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Cheney reaches the bunker before the Flight 77 crash at 9:37 a.m. [ABC News, 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003; Clarke, 2004, pp. 3-4 Sources: Norman Mineta, Richard A. Clarke] Regardless of Cheney’s location, as Cheney and Bush talk on the phone, Bush once again refrains from making any decisions or orders about the crisis. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

    (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Senior FAA Manager, on His First Day on the Job, Orders All Planes Out of the Sky Nationwide
    Ben Sliney, FAA’s National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. Around 3,950 flights are still in the air. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve his actions. It’s Sliney’s first day on the job. [CNN, 9/12/2001; New York Times, 9/12/2001; Washington Post, 9/12/2001; MSNBC, 9/22/2001; Associated Press, 8/12/2002; USA Today, 8/13/2002; USA Today, 8/13/2002; USA Today, 8/13/2002; Associated Press, 8/19/2002; Newsday, 9/10/2002] Seventy-five percent of the planes land within one hour of the order. [USA Today, 8/12/2002] The 9/11 Commission will later remark that this “was an unprecedented order” that the “air traffic control system handled… with great skill.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 29] The Washington Post has reported that Mineta told Monte Belger at the FAA: “Monte, bring all the planes down,” even adding, “[Expletive] pilot discretion.” [Washington Post, 1/27/2002] However, it is later reported by a different Post reporter that Mineta did not even know of the order until 15 minutes later. This reporter “says FAA officials had begged him to maintain the fiction.” [Slate, 4/2/2002]

    Shortly Before 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001: Some Witnesses See Ground-Level Explosion Just Before WTC 2 Collapses
    Some witnesses reportedly see a massive fireball at ground level, coming from the South Tower just before it starts to collapse. According to a report by the Mineta Transportation Institute (a research institute founded by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta), “People inside the South Tower felt the floor vibrate as if a small earthquake were occurring.… The vibration lasted for about 30 seconds. The doors were knocked out, and a huge ball of flame created by the exploding diesel fuel from the building’s own supply tank shot from the elevator shaft and out the doors of the South Tower, consuming everything in its path. Minutes later, at 9:59 a.m., the tower collapsed.” [Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 16] Around the same time, Port Authority Police Officer Will Jimeno is in a corridor leading toward the North Tower. “Suddenly the hallway began to shudder,” and he sees “the giant fireball explode in the street,” when the South Tower begins to collapse. [Bowhunter, 1/2003] Ronald DiFrancesco is the last person to make it out of the South Tower before it collapses. As he is heading toward the exit that leads onto Church Street, he hears a loud roar as the collapse begins. According to the Ottawa Citizen, “Mr. DiFrancesco turned to his right in the direction of Liberty Street, to see a massive fireball—compressed as the South Tower fell—roiling toward [him].” He bolts for the exit, before being knocked unconscious and blown many yards across the street. [USA Today, 12/18/2001; Ottawa Citizen, 6/4/2005; Ottawa Citizen, 6/5/2005; PBS NOVA, 9/5/2006] A number of other witnesses report feeling the ground shaking just seconds before the South Tower collapses (see Shortly Before 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001).

    (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: NORAD Implements Cold-War Era Plan to Clear Skies
    At the NORAD operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, NORAD Commander-in-Chief Ralph Eberhart orders a limited version of a little known plan to clear the skies and give the military control over US airspace. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] The plan, Security Control of Air Traffic and Navigation Aids (SCATANA), was developed in the 1960s as a way to clear airspace above the US and off the US coast in the event of a confirmed warning of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. Once it is activated a wartime air traffic priority list is established, allowing essential aircraft and personnel to use the airspace. Among others, this list includes the US president, essential national security staff, aircraft involved in continental defense missions, and airborne command posts. [Schwartz, 1998] Eberhart and his staff suggest implementing the limited version of SCATANA over the air threat conference call. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta immediately concurs. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002; Filson, 2004, pp. 73] Unlike a full SCATANA, this modified version allows ground navigation aids to stay on, for the benefit of aircraft that are still airborne. Under the plan, for about the next three days all flights other than military, law enforcement, fire fighters, and medevac, will require approval from the national Defense Dept./FAA Air Traffic Services Cell (ATSC), located within the FAA’s Herndon Command Center. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/2001; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/10/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] The SCATANA order is issued over an hour after the FAA ordered all planes down (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and after at least three-quarters of them have already landed. [USA Today, 8/13/2002] Eberhart says the delay is due to safety concerns, because NORAD would have been unable to control US airspace—with over four thousand planes airborne at the time of the attacks—with its radar capabilities. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Defense Week magazine suggests SCATANA is not implemented until even later, at around 2 p.m. It says NORAD issues a “notice to airmen” implementing the modified version of SCATANA about five hours after Flight 11 hit the WTC. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/2001]

    End Part II
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    (3:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Bush Meets with Top Officials via Video Conference Call
    President Bush takes part in a video teleconference at Offutt Air Force Base. Chief of Staff Andrew Card sits on his left, and Admiral Richard Mies sits on his left.President Bush takes part in a video teleconference at Offutt Air Force Base. Chief of Staff Andrew Card sits on his left, and Admiral Richard Mies sits on his left. [Source: White House]At Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, President Bush convenes the first meeting of the National Security Council since the attacks occurred. [Woodward, 2002, pp. 26] He begins the video conference call from a bunker beneath the base. He and Chief of Staff Andrew Card visually communicate directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, and others. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; ABC News, 9/11/2002; Washington Times, 10/8/2002] According to Clarke, Bush begins the meeting by saying, “I’m coming back to the White House as soon as the plane is fueled. No discussion.” But according to Condoleezza Rice, he begins with the words, “We’re at war.” Clarke leads a quick review of what has already occurred, and issues that need to be quickly addressed. Bush asks CIA Director Tenet who he thinks is responsible for the day’s attacks. Tenet later recalls, “I told him the same thing I had told the vice president several hours earlier: al-Qaeda. The whole operation looked, smelled, and tasted like bin Laden.” Tenet tells Bush that passenger manifests show that three known al-Qaeda operatives had been on Flight 77. According to Tenet, when he tells the president in particular about Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (two of the alleged Flight 77 hijackers), Bush gives Mike Morell, his CIA briefer, “one of those ‘I thought I was supposed to be the first to know’ looks.” (Other evidence indicates the third al-Qaeda operative whose name is on the passenger manifest would be Salem Alhazmi (see 9:53 p.m. September 11, 2001).) Tenet tells the meeting that al-Qaeda is “the only terrorist organization capable of such spectacular, well-coordinated attacks,” and that “Intelligence monitoring had overheard a number of known bin Laden operatives congratulating each other after the attacks. Information collected days earlier but only now being translated indicated that various known operatives around the world anticipated a big event. None specified the day, time, place or method of attack.” Richard Clarke later corroborates that Tenet had at this time told the president he was certain that al-Qaeda was to blame. Yet only six weeks later, in an October 24, 2001 interview, Rice will claim differently. She will say, “In the first video conference, the assumption that everybody kind of shared was that it was global terrorists.… I don’t believe anybody said this is likely al-Qaeda. I don’t think so.” Tenet also relays a warning the CIA has received from French intelligence, saying another group of terrorists is within US borders and is preparing a second wave of attacks. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld briefs on the status of US forces, and states that about 120 fighters are now above US cities. [Woodward, 2002, pp. 26-27; Clarke, 2004, pp. 21-22; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 326 and 554; Tenet, 2007, pp. 169] The meeting reportedly ends around 4:00-4:15 p.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Washington Times, 10/8/2002]

    August 21, 2006: Former 9/11 Co-Chairman Addresses Various ‘Conspiracy Theories’ About 9/11 Attacks
    Lee Hamilton, the former co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, gives a wide-ranging interview to the CBC about Without Precedent, a book he recently co-authored about his time on the 9/11 Commission (see August 15, 2006). In the interview he discusses the various “conspiracy theories” surrounding the events of 9/11. The interviewer, Evan Solomon, mentions to him a recent Zogby poll (see May 17, 2006) that found that 42% of Americans agreed that “the US government, and its 9/11 Commission, concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts the official explanation of September 11th.” Hamilton calls this lack of trust in the Commission’s report “dispiriting,” but attacks the “conspiracy theory people,” saying, “when they make an assertion they do it often on very flimsy evidence.” He addresses some of the various “conspiracy theories” that have been put forward about 9/11:
    • In order to contradict the allegation that the Twin Towers were brought down deliberately with pre-planted explosives, Hamilton says the WTC collapsed (see 8:57 a.m. September 11, 2001) because “the super-heated jet fuel melted the steel super-structure of these buildings and caused their collapse.” He adds, “There’s a powerful lot of evidence to sustain that point of view, including the pictures of the airplanes flying into the building.”
    • With regard to the collapse of WTC Building 7 (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001), which some people claim was also caused by explosives, he argues, “[W]e believe that it was the aftershocks of these two huge buildings in the very near vicinity collapsing. And in the Building 7 case, we think that it was a case of flames setting off a fuel container, which started the fire in Building 7, and that was our theory on Building 7.” However, the interviewer points out that the 9/11 Commission’s final report does not actually mention the collapse of Building 7, and Hamilton says he does not recall whether the Commission made a specific decision to leave it out.
    • In reply to a question about why the debris of Building 7 were moved quickly from the scene without a thorough investigation, even though nobody died in Building 7 and there was no need for rescue operations there, Hamilton responds, “You can’t answer every question when you conduct an investigation.”
    • When asked whether Saeed Sheikh sent Mohamed Atta $100,000 for the 9/11 plot (see Early August 2001 and Summer 2001 and before), Hamilton replies, “I don’t know anything about it.” When the interviewer presses him about whether the Commission investigated a possible Pakistani Secret Service (ISI) connection to the attacks, Hamilton replies, “They may have; I do not recall us writing anything about it in the report. We may have but I don’t recall it.”
    • Asked about Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta’s claim that Vice President Dick Cheney was in the presidential bunker beneath the White House at 9:20 a.m. on 9/11 (see (9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001), almost 40 minutes earlier than the Commission claimed he had arrived there, Hamilton replies, “I do not recall.” When pressed, he expands, “Well, we think that Vice President Cheney entered the bunker shortly before 10 o’clock. And there is a gap of several minutes there, where we do not really know what the Vice President really did. There is the famous phone call between the President and the Vice President. We could find no documentary evidence of that phone call.”
    • When the interviewer points out that Richard Clarke’s account conflicts with the Commission’s over what time authorization was received from Dick Cheney to shoot down Flight 93 (see (Between 9:45-9:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Between 10:00 a.m.-10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001), Hamilton retorts, “Look, you’ve obviously gone through the report with a fine-toothed comb, you’re raising a lot of questions—I can do the same thing.”
    The interviewer also asks Hamilton whether he has any unanswered questions of his own about 9/11. Hamilton’s response is: “I could never figure out why these 19 fellas did what they did. We looked into their backgrounds. In one or two cases, they were apparently happy, well-adjusted, not particularly religious - in one case quite well-to-do, had a girlfriend. We just couldn’t figure out why he did it. I still don’t know.” [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 8/21/2006]

    End
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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