Monday, March 6, 2017
Why Did the Secret Service Leave the President and a School Full of Children in Danger in the Middle of the 9/11 Attacks?
President George W. Bush was allowed to continue with a routine visit to a school when the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11, 2001. Remarkably, members of the Secret Service and other personnel responsible for protecting the president failed to evacuate him from the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, after they learned that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and it became clear that America was under attack.
As the nation's leader, Bush should have been considered a likely target for terrorists. Furthermore, his schedule had been publicized in advance and so terrorists could have found out where he would be on September 11.
And yet, after arriving there shortly before 9:00 a.m. on September 11, Bush was allowed to stay at the Booker Elementary School until around 9:35 a.m.--almost 50 minutes after the first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center and over 30 minutes after the second hijacked plane hit the Trade Center. He left the school just two or three minutes before a third attack occurred, when the Pentagon was struck.
The Secret Service's failure to promptly evacuate Bush from the school is particularly baffling in light of the accounts of some key officials who were with the president that morning, in which these men recalled being worried that the school would be attacked. There were even concerns that terrorists might crash a plane into it. The failure to evacuate the school is also alarming in that it left hundreds of people there--not just the president--potentially in danger.