Caustic Logic/They Let It Happen
December 17 2006
Office of What?
- Basic gist for a passive LIHOP theorist: Bush creates a task force to “prevent” terrorist attacks, tasking it to Cheney, whose pals want a “New Pearl Harbor.” Cheney gets the staff going just one day before 9/11 and so it fails to prevent the attack. Cheney’s stalling prevented implementation of previously recommended measures that could have stopped the 9/11 hijackers on the ground and so is evidence of allowance, which was also alleged – if not proven - over the original Pearl Harbor attack.
- Active LIHOP: In addition to maybe leaving the door open to the terrorists, Cheney prepared the field for the attack by scheduling several air-based military war games, some of which had fighter jets sent far away from the East Coast, and others whose similarity to the attack confused air defenses.
- Basic MIHOP (Make it Happen on Purpose) interpretation: Cheney used this task force to “prepare” for the attack by mobilizing FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams to Manhattan the night before, presumably to facilitate evidence removal after the demolitions. And he arranged the war games, whose programming and possibly “live-fly” drones may have actually carried out the attack rather than just opening the skies. The “worst fears” being prepared for came true, and Cheney probably coordinated it all through his task force and an unidentified “Maestro.”
While all three and their various derivative theories are intriguing and have their evidence, I have a strong case to argue that these theories are seriously flawed. I myself was suckered in to the particular MIHOP interpretation at one point, seeing in it a neat way to tie the reviled Dick Cheney in with the war games of 9/11 and even the deployment of the FEMA rescue workers allegedly in Manhattan the night before the attack. Mike Ruppert was pushing the first half of that (but decidedly not the second), and it seemed intriguing and quite plausible. But the more research I do, the less clear all these links become. It’s not to say they aren’t there, just that if they are they aren’t as in the open as people seem to think. After I cover the flaws with both the LIHOP and MIHOP takes, I’ll propose a third interpretation of the import of this elusive agency.
There is a lot of confusion around the issue, enough so that people don’t even agree on what precisely to call the thing: Gregor Holland, in a 2004 piece from the New Zealand site Scoop (and later re-run by Prison Planet), explained that “the Office for Domestic Preparedness was the effort assigned to Dick Cheney by George W. Bush on May 8, 2001.”  But The Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP), which Holland correctly cites as an entity within U.S. Department of Justice, was actually created at DoJ in 1998 “to develop and administer training and equipment assistance programs for state and local emergency response agencies.”  The Center for Cooperative Research got it much closer, reporting in their timeline “May 8, 2001: Bush entrusts Vice President Cheney to head the new Office of National Preparedness, a part of FEMA.”  A 2002 House of Representatives report made no mention of a Cheney role in Bush’s creation of the Office of National Preparedness (ONP) on May 8 “for greater coordination among federal agencies in responding to a terrorist attack." They also noted "the President located the ONP within FEMA,” not in the White House. 
Bush’s original May 8 order stated the ONP “will be responsible for implementing the results of those parts of the national effort overseen by Vice President Cheney that deal with consequence management.”  The ONP were the front line water carriers to implement Cheney’s findings, and so there was clearly a higher level than them where these decisions were made, based not at FEMA but in the White House. As far as I can tell, this has no name, most commonly referred to as the “effort” that was indeed tasked to Cheney on May 8. It was neither ODP or ONP. The 9/11 Commission referred to this vaguely as “an effort looking at preparations for managing a possible attack by weapons of mass destruction and at more general problems of national preparedness.”  “Looking at” means a committee-oriented review process to give the ONP its direction, so I call this higher level “Cheney’s effort” or “the effort.”
The Roadmap Swap and the LIHOP take
Before I relate more on the May decree, we need to understand the timing “coincidence” I call “the Roadmap Swap.” It began on January 31 2001: Bush was just sworn-in as the 43rd President, with Cheney and all the PNAC people looking for their “new Pearl Harbor” on his coattails. That day, an elite panel was just completing its own assessment of the threat of such catastrophic events in the coming decades: The U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century. Created by President Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1998, and co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D) and Warren Rudman (R), the commission unveiled their new report “Roadmap for National Security: Imperative for Change” at a press conference. Among the excerpts read live by Gary Hart on January 31 2001 was this ominous prophecy:
“States, terrorists, and other disaffected groups will acquire weapons of mass destruction, and some will use them [...] Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers. […] Our military superiority will not entirely protect us” 
According to Hart, Congress began to take the commission’s suggestions seriously in March and April, and started introducing legislation to implement some of the recommendations, one of which was the creation of something called a “Homeland Security Department.””  The commission scheduled another meeting for May 7, hoping some administration officials would attend this time. Instead, the meeting was cancelled and replaced with a brand-new policy review process. Hart said of the ultimate end of his commission “frankly, the White House shut it down […] The President said ‘please wait, we’re going to turn this over to the Vice President.” 
As National security Adviser Rice later explained, “The vice president was later, I think in May, tasked by the president to put together a group to look at all of the recommendations [from] the Gilmore report and the Hart-Rudman report and so forth and to try to make recommendations about what might have been done.”  This is where the May 8 decree comes in, apparently timed to answer the questions raised by the cancellation of Hart-Rudman’s scheduled meeting the previous day, and Bush’s statement seemed to address what they had probably meant to talk about. “No governmental responsibility is more fundamental than protecting the physical safety of our nation and its citizens,” the one-page release stated, so “I have asked Vice President Cheney to oversee the development of a coordinated national effort so that we may do the very best possible job of protecting our people from catastrophic harm.” Bush explained that the responses to a successful WMD attack were widely tasked to various agencies, a recipe for disaster. He expressed the need for these responses to become “seamlessly integrated, harmonious, and comprehensive.”  The release offers very little insight into Cheney’s role, mostly dedicated to explaining the new ONP, which Bush asked FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh to create.
Much has been made of the relevance of this swap, comparing the slow pace of Cheney’s effort compared to the urgency recommended by the Hart-Rudman Commission. Paul Thompson concluded in The Terror Timeline (2004) that the January report put forth fifty suggestions to "stop terrorists inside the US,” but every one was “ignored by the Bush administration.” Former Senator Gary Hart (D) later implied to Salon in April 2004 that the ONP/Cheney effort was created to prevent Congress from acting on his commission’s findings – though the purpose was left unexplained.  Apparently Al Franken made a big deal of satirically calling the Bush response to the Hart-Rudman plan “Operation Ignore.” Dave Pierre at the “Frankenlies” website took issue with this: “Franken leads many readers to believe that the commission’s report was some urgent call for President Bush to revamp the entire national security infrastructure immediately,” and that their refusal to do so may have contributed to 9/11. But Pierre aptly pointed out that “the Commission’s report clearly took a long-range outlook on how the United States should approach its national security," specifically, over 25 years. "In fact, the commission wrote, ‘We propose significant change, and we know that change takes time.’” 
In other words, if the roadmap swap really was meant as a delaying operation, either to deny a bi-partisan plan in favor of the Cheney/PNAC model, or to keep the road to 9/11 unobstructed - it was hardly needed. No recommendations were really expected except in the span of years and election cycles, not four-month cycles. If the Commission’s plans had been allowed to run their course, 9/11 would still have occurred. Scratch the passive LIHOP take, Cheney’s effort has nothing to do with it.
Then to the active LIHOP and MIHOP interpretations: The few mainstream reports I’ve seen paint Cheney's effort as strictly paper-pushing review, but many in the Truth movement see something more sinister. For example, in Crossing the Rubicon, Mike Ruppert takes the stance that this task force put Cheney in “a quiet but unequivocal hands-on management role, before, during, and after 9/11.” He flatly asserts that the May 8 Order “placed Dick Cheney in charge of planning, preparing for, and coordinating all US response to the terror attack,” response that went well beyond FEMA ground response to the strikes and up into the military level of the air defense.  Considering the aberrantly poor response that then happened four months later, this is a damning charge.
I have respect for Ruppert’s works and have in the past considered myself a fan, but in this case at least I’m not so sure he has adequate evidence to back up this claim. For example, Ruppert decided the order tasked Cheney’s effort with coordinating “planning and training” against terror threats, a central part of his linking Cheney with the war games of 9/11, at least one of which posed a hijacking threat. But the release actually tasks the ONP, not Cheney, with “planning, training, and equipment needs” of local first responders, and placed naither in charge of scheduling war games.
So the nation's response to a WMD attack was to be looked at, tinkered with, and perhaps indirectly run by the enigmatic Dick Cheney - shortly after his colleagues at the PNAC had noted the utility of a “catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor.” Four months later the worst terrorist (non-WMD) attack in Human history occurred, seamlessly sliding through all defenses and causing catastrophic (and catalyzing) harm to the American people, with a death toll on par with the “old” Pearl Harbor. While all this seems somewhat beyond the realm of coincidence, especially considering the relative rapidity of these events lining up within one year, to imply direct connections between them at this point seems premature. In the days before the attack, the coincidences would only get more precise and chilling, but not necessarily more relevant.
Abbot Helms “The Effort”
The 9/11 Commission reported “the Vice President’s task force was just getting under way when the 9/11 attack occurred.”  In fact Abbot, Fenzel and Kuntz were finally given White House security clearance and got to work on the day before the fateful attack.  Abbot told the Congressional Quarterly in 2004 “I didn’t begin to work full time [on the effort] until early September. I got my pass to the White House complex on the 10th of September.”  What, if anything, did this staff do in the next 24 hours?
While Abbot’s official job was purely review – that is, research and recommendation - he did bring his connections and his many skills to the table. Ruppert found that Abbot was a trained fighter pilot, insanely experienced with a variety of craft, routinely hired as a test pilot for new technologies, and generally one with supreme understanding of managing the air dimension. Thus, Ruppert reasoned, Abbot may be an excellent candidate for Maestro, the coordinator of air-based exercises on 9-11 that “jump-started” response to the attack. 
Ruppert claims Abbot had also previously been in charge of the National Military Command Center (NMCC) beneath the Pentagon, the war room that sat empty of leadership on 9/11 while Rumsfeld and Myers ignored the attack. The acting NMCC Director that morning had been Captain Charles Leidig, asked to stand-in the day before for 90 of the 111 minutes of the 9/11 attack. Both having been from the Navy, Ruppert wondered “if Leidig and Abbot had ever served together or if Abbot had any influence in Leidig’s placement in the NMCC,” a placement which was, after all, requested bare hours after Abbott punched in for his first day of work at the White House.  No matter what to make of it all, this Cheney-Abbott-Leidig seam sewn into the fabric of the 9/11 story just about 24 hours before the actual attack is a highly curious and intriguing coincidence and makes Ruppert’s overall case start to make sense.
It's also worth noting that Abbot’s whereabouts and actions during the attack have not been publicized as far as I’ve seen. He was not questioned by the 9/11 Commission in any of their twelve public hearings, and was not even mentioned by name in their final report, referred to only as “an admiral from the Sixth Fleet,” (his name is in the footnote for this, citing a previously existing book by Steven Brill.) The Commission either never asked after him or he never returned their calls. As the man leading Cheney’s new preparedness task force, to be absent from all accounts as the biggest lack of preparedness in history happens on his second day on the job – and to remain unquestioned and virtually unnamed - that’s certainly anomalous, and raises the question of what skill set he was really using that morning.
A Post-9/11 Script Written in a Pre-9/11 World
While all this is speculation, what is known is that the attack gave Abbot and some of those around him a quick promotion; Cheney’s effort was the seed that would become the previously recommended Homeland Security Department. A White House spokeswoman later stated “the president was able to very quickly after September 11 stand up the Office of Homeland Security [since] a great deal of work had already been put into this issue.”  This was mainly the work that Carol Kuntz had overseen in mid-2001, and even in retrospect looks like a logical follow off of the Hart-Rudman Commission’s recommendations. Thus it should not be surprising that a White House press release from October 29 announced that Abbot was being promoted to the new Office of Homeland Security, as its Deputy Director, directly under Tom Ridge. 
So essentially what happened is previous ideas on securing the homeland were taken in together by Cheney’s effort, reviewed by Abbot’s crew, and, after the attack that clarified its need, used to set up the Office of Homeland Security and eventually DHS. Thus on May 8, Bush essentially tasked Cheney to create the Department of Homeland Security, which wouldn’t even make enough sense to do outright until after 9/11. This may be a coincidence, as the government certainly would argue if asked, but it is a rather spooky seam of foresight I think. Thus far it’s been largely eclipsed by these charges that Cheney’s effort was precisely the mechanism for allowing or orchestrating the attacks. It was probably no more responsible than its counterpart the USA PATRIOT Act, also clearly written before 9/11 considering its haste of production and signing into law as soon as it made sense - one month after the attacks, and a few days after the Anthrax Scare that had cleared capitol Hill.
Recall as well that a plan for the war in Afghanistan and a global campaign against al Qaeda was placed on Bush’s desk September 9. According to Paul O’Neill and others, the war in Iraq was largely planned before 9/11. The Patriot Act was written, and as we’ve just seen, the skeleton at least of the DHS was set up shortly before 9/11 as well. These are facts, and whether Bush gave Cheney the joystick to control the actual attacks or not, the general thrust of the Post-9/11 world was already set. You tell me: what does effort thusly directed in the months between Bush’s coronation and the “catalyzing event” really imply? Let It Happen? Make It Happen? Or simply It Will Happen?
 Holland, Gregor. "UQ Wire: Long Debunked Rumor Validated by Giuliani: FEMA in NYC prior to 9-11 for Project TRIPOD terror drill, scheduled for 9-12." Scoop, Independent News. June 3 2004. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0406/S00031.htm
 "Office for Domestic Preparedness." Federation of American Scientists. http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/ojp/index.html
,  "Profile: Office of National Preparedness." Center for Cooperative Research. http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/entity.jsp?entity=office_of_national_preparedness
 The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, & Emergency Management Hearing on The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of National Preparedness. April 11 2002.
,  "Statement by the President: Domestic Preparedness Against Weapons of Mass Destruction." For Immediate Release, Office of the Press Secretary. May 8, 2001. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/05/20010508.html
 9/11 Commission Final Report, page 40.
 US Commission on National Security/21st Century, New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century, (1999), p. 141
 Paul Thompson and the center for Cooperative Research. The Terror Timeline. 2004. Page 98.
 See  Page 89.
 NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TERRORIST ATTACKS UPON THE UNITED STATES Ninth Public Hearing
Thursday, April 8, 2004 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC CHAIRED BY: THOMAS H. KEAN
 McCaleb, Christopher. "Disaster agency to coordinate terrorism response." CNN. May 8, 2001. http://archives.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/05/08/senate.terrorism.02/
 "Operation Ignore"? Someone is ignoring some facts." http://www.frankenlies.com/lies/commission.htm
 Ruppert, Michael C. Crossing the Rubicon. 2004. Page 412.
 9/11 Commission Final Report, Page 204.
, ,  Rood, Justin. "Cheney Task Force on Terrorist Threats Never Met Before Attacks." Congressional Quarterly. April 15, 2004. http://page15.com/2004/04/cheney-task-force-on-terrorist-threats.html
 9/11 Commission Final Report, page 204.
 See . Page 106.
 See . Pages 418-421.
 See . Page 420
 “Gov. Ridge names Deputy Director of Homeland Security.” White House Press Release. October 29, 2001. Accessed August 5, 2005 at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/10/20011029-6.html