Tags: Cheney: | Pentagon | Plane | was | Headed | for | White

Cheney: Pentagon Plane was Headed for White House

Sunday, 16 September 2001 12:00 AM

"They did that because they'd received a report that an airplane was headed for the White House," Cheney told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

"It left Dulles (Airport), flew west towards Ohio, and was then captured by the terrorists," he explained. "They turned off the transponder, which led to a later report that a plane had gone down in Ohio."

Moments later, Cheney said the FAA figured out that Flight 77 hadn't crashed but instead had reversed course and was headed back to Washington.

"The best we can tell is that they came initially at the White House. It was headed on a track (to crash) into it."

Cheney told MTP host Tim Russert that word the White House was actually the terrorists' target came from the FAA, which was in constant communication with the Secret Service.

"When (AA Flight 77) entered the danger zone, it looked like it was headed for the White House. That's when (the Secret Service) grabbed me and evacuated me to the basement."

"The plane obviously didn't hit the White House," he added. "It turned away and, we think, flew a circle and then came back in and hit the Pentagon. That's what the radar track looks like."

Cheney said that news the hijacked plane was headed for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. prompted him to call President Bush, who was then with a classroom full of elementary school children in Sarasota, Fl.

He said he "strongly urged him to delay his return."

"We don't know what's going on here," the veep recalled saying. "But it looks like, you know, we've been targeted."

The vice president said the Secret Service made it clear there was no time to lose.

"Under these circumstances they just move. They don't say, 'Sir' or ask politely. They came in and said, 'Sir, we have to leave immediately'"

Agents literally "grabbed" Cheney and lifted him off his feet as they rushed to get him to safety.

"Your feet touch the floor periodically but (the agents are) bigger than I am and they hoisted me up and moved me very rapidly down the hallway.... to an underground facility under the White House."

The vice president speculated that terrorists switched their plans to an attack on the Capitol Building because other structures obscured the White House -- suggesting that the Pentagon was actually a third-choice target.

"My guess is (their second choice) target probably would have been the Capitol Building," he told Russert. "It's big, it's easy to hit. I think one of the reasons that the White House did not get hit -- I think it turned out to be tougher to see than they had anticipated.

"When you come in from the West as American (Flight) 77 did, unless you get up in altitude a ways you can't see the White House because the Old Executive Office Building is there," he explained. "And Treasury is on the other side."

"I'm speculating that the lack of ability to acquire it visually may, in fact, have led them to go back (and target the Pentagon.)"

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They did that because they'd received a report that an airplane was headed for the White House, Cheney told NBC's Meet the Press Sunday. It left Dulles (Airport), flew west towards Ohio, and was then captured by the terrorists, he explained. They turned off the...
Cheney:,Pentagon,Plane,was,Headed,for,White,House
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2001-00-16
Sunday, 16 September 2001 12:00 AM
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