Friday, January 11, 2008
Deciphering the Norman Mineta Kerflaffle
Fig. 1-1: "Is that an affidavit you have there, or are you just happy to see me?"
One of the main inductions made by 9/11 deniers to promote their vague conspiracy theories concerns the testimony Norman Mineta gave to the 9/11 Commission on May 23, 2003. According to the conspiracy theorists, in his testimony, he offers a startling glimpse into “The Octopus” at work: a belligerent Dick Cheney telling an anonymous ‘operative’ to order the military to ‘stand down,’ to let the planes hit. As one conspiracy theory site reads, “fact that the 9/11 Commission Report discarded his testimony has never been explained.”(1) Well, let’s give it a shot.
In his introduction to the Commission (the conspiracy site I just referenced erroneously states that he began his testimony on the 22nd; it was the 23rd according to the Commission archives), Mineta offers a brief outline of his own career serving the United States:
“I have seen terrorism in several forms and from several vantage points over the years, as an intelligence officer in the United States Army during the era of the Korean conflict, and in Congress as one of the early members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.”(2)
So right away we know that, as an intelligence officer (I believe Dylan Avery would refer to him as a “spook”) and later a sitting member of one of the most important foreign intelligence-oriented bodies in the government, one that was intimately involved in the affairs of Iran-Contra, that if we lived in the black and white world of the conspiracy theorists, Norman Mineta would really be one of “the bad guys.” If we were all plagued with the functional myopia of the conspiracy theorists, we would behave as if Mineta were literally incapable of telling the truth.
Those conspiracy theorists, however, have decided that because his words can be used to support their daffy claims, this particular “government shill” has a photographic memory, is always honest, is never confused about anything, and should be considered more trustworthy than 100% of the forensic evidence available to us – even though he has since admitted that he’s probably confused about the issue at hand (see below).
The meat of his testimony, distorted and repeated ad nauseum by the Troofers, is thus:
“I was made aware of it during the time that the airplane coming into the Pentagon. There was a young man who had come in and said to the vice president, "The plane is 50 miles out. The plane is 30 miles out." And when it got down to, "The plane is 10 miles out," the young man also said to the vice president, "Do the orders still stand?" And the vice president turned and whipped his neck around and said, "Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?" Well, at the time I didn't know what all that meant.”
And the 'suspicious' fact is that this testimony contradicts what Dick Cheney and one of his aids, Josh Bolton, remembers:
“A military assistant asked Cheney twice for authority to shoot [the Pentagon plane] down.
"’The vice president said yes again,’ remembered Josh Bolton, deputy White House chief of staff. ‘And the aide then asked a third time. He said, “Just confirming, sir, authority to engage?” And the vice president -- his voice got a little annoyed then -- said, “I said yes.”'(3)
In his testimony, Mineta puts his arrival in the secure bunker at “about 9:20” and his questioner, Timothy Roemer, has him reveal that “five or six minutes” later, the above exchange took place. However, the 9/11 Commission states that this conversation didn’t even happen until 9:58. Its source? The logbook of the shelter. This is the only forensic evidence available – the rest is based on either the shoddy or duplicitous memories of Dick and Lynne Cheney which, for obvious reasons, shouldn’t be relied on as historical record.(4) However, no information is given as to who records what in that logbook, or what the procedure is. It could be anything from a high-tech motion-sensing computer to a hotel-style guest book; something towards the latter seems more likely given the fact that it had never been truly needed since its construction under Franklin Roosevelt.
Everyone makes it clear that their memories of that day are imperfect. “At this point things began to happen quickly,” Mineta said delicately of events after the second plane impact. As even the conspiracy theorists note, Cheney was moved from his office in the White House down into the bunker in “less than a minute.”(5) Unfortunately, the conspiracy theorists who want us to believe that Norman Mineta is a living tape recorder have never accounted for the admitted fact that no one even pretended that they had the final word on the timing of the day.
In other words, there are countless explanations for this so-called “contradiction.” Even when confronted by a herd of valiant 9/11 deniers, desperate for any scrap to go on to support their discredited theories, the diminutive Mineta responsibly states that he “might have been mistaken on the 9:25” but feels quite certain that “he was already there.”(6) Dick Clarke said he arrived just after 9:00AM (why don’t 9/11 deniers ever use his testimony to prove that Mineta was a lying spook, too?), and Karl Rove, George Bush, and Condoleezza Rice each recall slightly different timing from each other.(7) Now, if you were about to initiate the worst mass murder and act of treason in US history, wouldn’t you want to at least get the most obvious parts of your story straight?
The truth about Norman Mineta’s seeming “contradiction” is that it is a false flag set up by 9/11 deniers to pretend that there is an argument where there is none. Eyewitness memory of elaborate or traumatic events is completely unreliable, dim or bright, cunning politician or lowly peon. You know you’re dealing with a confusing situation when even the only forensic information (the logbook, which is only ‘forensic’ in the most technical of technical senses) is probably unreliable. In order for the conspiracy theorists to win this argument, they have to try to convince you that 9/11 was not a day of confusion. Raise your hand if you were never once confused about anything on 9/11.
Even the implications of the conspiracy theorists’ claims are absurd at the outset. “Norman Mineta and Josh Bolton recalled different timing in the PEOC on the most confusing day in American history, THEREFORE THE GOVERNMENT CAUSED 9/11?” Someone connect those dots for me.
They use this claim to launch the argument that it proves that Dick Cheney gave orders to sit back and let the attacks occur, with foreknowledge of course. Well, that’s what we’re meant to infer from the conspiracy theorists. Prisonplanet simply asks:
“if the standing order given by the Vice President prior to the aircraft hitting the Pentagon was not a shoot down order, then what was it?”(8)
And simply sits back and lets likeminded conspiracy theorists pretend that this question is proof of a 9/11 conspiracy. Never mind the fact that all the evidence contradicts them; not only were there jets scrambled on 9/11 with orders to “engage” (rather than shoot down, which is normal procedure for hijacked planes, which until then were used as hostage/ransom devices, not missiles), but any “orders” given by Dick Cheney would indeed have to have been necessary because (and these laws were changed after 9/11), the Executive Branch has to give direct permission for any emergency order of that kind.(8)
The truth is that the 9/11 deniers have no idea what to make of Norman Mineta’s testimony. Even the most stalwart frauds can do little with their supreme ability to distort information other than simply pose vastly extrapolated questions pertaining to minor quibbles about the bumbling questioning of a confused politician. In any other context, this would be put on the shelf of claims along with the triangular Bigfoot footprints and the fuzzy pictures of UFOs/Frisbees. But hey, if you’ve got DVDs to sell…
4. See footnote 213 to chapter one of the Commission Report.
6. http://youtube.com/watch?v=u-5PKQTUz5o . Ironically, this video erroneously states that Mineta’s testimony to the commission has been “deleted” (it has not, see above), and that Dick Cheney said he arrived at the bunker at 9:38, which there is no evidence of.
by John Ray
Posted by Neighborhood Rationalist