Air Force 1 a Target?

I’ve heard repeatedly today that the U.S. government says that they have identified AF1 as a target in yesterday’s attack.

How? How could AF1 be a target? Did they find a stinger missile or something? It sure couldn’t be an air-to-air attack - that would be logistically impossible.

Has anyone heard details on how it was a target?

The claim I heard, and I have no link, was that the fourth plane was supposed to crash into Air Force 1 when it landed at Andrews. This was also the plane that was supposed to hit the white house. I’m inclined to believe some variation on one claim or the other. Perhaps security forces had also heard rumors of a 5th plane ?


wow that is a totally stupid plan. Why in the world would the POTUS go to Andrews AFB in a crisis unless it was 100% secured. Answer: he wouldn’t, and didn’t.

It does seem a bit strange…And, why would they give a warning then? I sorta doubt that AF1 was really a target. They probably just wanted to create more fear and havoc by threatening this.

By the way, I must say that I don’t really understand the criticism about Bush not coming directly to Washington (and as you know I am no fan of our President). I think if you are the President, you do owe it the Secret Service to heed their advice on these matters unless there is really some very compelling reason to overrule them. After all, it’s their area of expertise and they are the ones who are going to be jumping in front of the bullet / plane / whatever for you.

It’s not very credible either. The Hijackers would have had to wait in the air until they they got word as to when the president was landing; then change course to arrive at Andrews at about the same time. Finally, given the size of the base, they’d have needed a spotter on the ground to tell them precisely where Air Force 1 had landed. That’s a pretty iffy scheme !

As a nit-pick, Airforce 1 is whatever plane the President happens to be on at any given time. I suppose they could mean the VC-137A that usually serves as Airforce 1, but I really doubt there would be any point to that. What are the odds that the President would actually be on Airforce 1 while it’s sitting on the ground?

Anyway, wasn’t Airforce 1 in Florida, or where ever Bush was when he was informed about the attack?

A reporter on Fox News presented a theory that seemed logical to me. He said that planes flying up the Potomac would have a hard time seeing the White House due to nearby buildings and foliage. The Pentagon, however, is a far more visible target, thus the change in course.

There were more than enough fighter planes available to escort the president from Florida to Washington, and shoot down any number of commerical airplanes sent against them. As a last resort they also could have used ground to air missiles to protect the president. I think we need a BS meter for the whole story.

In a crisis situation, the President doesn’t have a choice as to where he goes. He goes where the Secret Service tell him to go.

That’s part of their job of keeping him alive.

Does the constitution give that power to the secret service ? If not, where does it come from ?

Reporters at the press conference where this was annunced were considerably more incredulous about the claim than the news reports which have followed. It would be an unlikely departure from the simplicity that ensured such a high degree of success for the rest of the opperation. I have heard one report that this was based on an anonymous phone call.

They brought it out because of the perception that Bush looked weak sneaking around the country during the crisis. They might have been better off to have shut up.

Yes, I think most people are willing to let the matter drop. There are more important things to deal with.

I think it’s complete and utter bull. MAYBE, I could believe the White House MAY have been a target-can you imagine the panic THAT would have caused? Or perhaps the capital?

But Air Force One? Besides, wouldn’t the plane that is AF1 be vastly superior to whatever plane is stalking them? Or at least, be able to get away?

Cite? I don’t believe this to be the case.

Air Force One is nothing more sophisticated than a Boeing 747. All that differentiates it from a standard 747 – aside from the obvious differences in internal build – are its communications equipment and its capacity for in-flight refueling.

Err… why, exactly? Are you suggesting that the press ought to simply accept what the White House has to say as gospel truth, without bothering to question anything?

Now, personally, I think the President played the when-do-I-return-to-Washington game just about right, waiting until everything was secure. However, the hints of “real and credible information” implying that Bush was formally a target seemed to me to be a tad fishy. I would hope that the White House would not stoop to a little embellishment of details to further justify actions that were, in my opinion, certainly justifiable in any case. At the same time, however, I would hope that the press would strive as hard as possible to ensure that there is no embellishment.

Not just that, you owe it to the country. As Commander-in-Chief, you have a responsibility to lead the armed forces in defense of the nation. You can’t fulfill that responsibility if you’re dead. Rushing back to D.C. while there might have been danger in doing that would have been reckless and irresponsible.

Today’s column by William Safire the New York Times, he discusses a report by “a high government official speaking to me on background” who was in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (the White House situation room) with VP Cheney on Tuesday morning.

Later Safire mentioned Bush’s making clear to Cheney that he wanted to return to Washington, with Cheney objecting and suggesting that he go to Offut AFB in Nebraska. He asked the question:

And of course, the fighter escort.

Zut, I agree with your comments. What I meant was that the white house should have shut up rather than appear to be embellishing. Bush did a better job today stating only that it was the best place to maintain his command of the situation without reference to “real and credible” threats.