The book opens with an account of Mr. Cheney’s experiences during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he essentially commanded the government’s response from a bunker beneath the White House while Mr. Bush — who was away from Washington and hampered by communications breakdowns — played a peripheral role. (emphasis added)
Of course Bush was reduced to playing a peripheral role! As I said back in 2005 (I said it as early as 2002, but this is the earliest point in my blogging that I can locate this statement):
My conclusion that during 9-11, the President should have gotten himself to a command post, either at a base, to Air Force One or onto a ship is based on my Damage-Control experience.
There are two reasons for the President to get to a command post:
- Safety. A ship or a plane can get underway or take off and can promptly be surrounded by escorts, i.e. other ships and planes. Military bases are normally placed in safe, defensible areas and the base command post is usually well inside the base, able to be surrounded by troops. Of course, there's a reason to want the President to be safe. Being safe is not an end in itself. The President is only one person and there are 250 million other people in the United States for us to worry about. Accordingly, we're concerned about:
- Communications. The other primary reason is so that the President can communicate with the Armed Services. Not just one-way communications. Both directions are needed. The President must be informed in real time as to what's going on and he should respond in real time so that the proper orders can be issued. An example would be during the September 11th attacks in 2001.
As I said, for Bush to fail to get himself to a command post on the morning of 9-11 constitutes what the UCMJ refers to as Dereliction of Duty. When the President fails to do his job, that's when unauthorized people get the chance to muck things up.