President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will sit down this morning with the entire 9/11 Independent Commission to give their account of events leading up to Sept. 11 — a day that took the life of my husband, along with 3,000 other innocent people. Bush and Cheney will appear together because they refuse to appear separately. It will be behind closed doors because they don't want to speak publicly. There will be a "note taker," no recorded transcript.
But I want to know the whole ugly truth. My husband, Richard Gabrielle, died on the 103rd floor of Tower 2 that day; I want to know what was done beforehand to prevent it from happening, and I want to know what we're doing to prevent it from happening again. My great fear is that their answers will never find their way to the public.
I can't be at the meeting. I'm not allowed in. But if I were, this is what I would ask.
For President Bush:
1. Why was our nation so utterly unprepared for an attack on our own soil?
2. On the morning of 9/11, who was in charge while you were away from the National Military Command Center? Were you informed or consulted about all decisions made in your absence?
3. At what time were you made aware that other planes were hijacked in addition to Flight 11 and Flight 175? What was your course of action?
4. Beginning with the transition period between the Clinton administration and your own, and ending on 9/11/01, specifically what information about terrorists, possible attacks and targets did you receive?
5. Please explain why no one in our government has yet been held accountable for the failures leading up to and on 9/11.
6. From May 1 until Sept. 11, 2001, did you receive any information from any intelligence agency official that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack this nation on its own soil? That terrorists were planning to use airplanes as weapons? That New York City landmarks were being targeted?
7. What defensive measures did you take in response to pre- 9/11 warnings and/or threats from 11 nations about a terrorist attack, many of which cited an attack in the continental U.S.?
8. From May 1, 2001, until Sept. 11, 2001, did you or any agent of the U.S. government carry out any negotiations or talks with Bin Laden, an agent of Bin Laden or Al Qaeda?
For Vice President Cheney:
1. On Sept. 11, when did you first become aware that the U.S. was under attack?
2. The Hart-Rudman report, released in January 2001, predicted a terrorist attack within the U.S. Yet the White House set aside report recommendations and announced in May that you would study the issue of domestic terrorism. Apparently, responsibility was then passed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency director. Congress had been willing to support the recommendations. What happened?
3. Besides ensuring the succession to the presidency, is there a defense protocol in the event our nation is attacked? What is it and was it followed?
4. What subsequent actions did you take to defend our nation?
- Did you have open lines with the Secret Service, NORAD, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense?
- Who was in the Situation Room with you?
- Was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or anyone at the Pentagon informed that we were under attack? If so, at what time was the Pentagon informed? If not Rumsfeld, who?
- Why wasn't the Pentagon defended?
- Did you consult with President Bush about all decisions?
5. Please describe any discussions/negotiations between the Taliban and either public or private agents before Sept. 11 regarding Bin Laden and/or rights to pass a pipeline through Afghanistan, or any other subject pertaining to Afghanistan.
Monica Gabrielle is a member of the Family Steering Committee. Website: www.911IndependentCommission.org
Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times