There was good reason for the quizzical expression on Hamilton’s face. Secretary Mineta had thoroughly trashed previous accounts of the PEOC activities that had been published in the press.
In a CNN piece dated 9/11/02, the timing of events had been represented differently. According to CNN:
“After the planes struck the twin towers, a third took a chunk out of the Pentagon. Cheney then heard a report that a plane over Pennsylvania was heading for Washington. A military assistant asked Cheney twice for authority to shoot it down.”
In the CNN piece Cheney aid Josh Bolton describes the same exchange between Cheney and the young man that Mineta did, but Bolton ties the exchange to “a report that a plane over Pennsylvania was heading for Washington”. This is the official White House legend, the one adopted in the White House produced "9/11 Commission Final Report", the one exposed by Mineta.
Hamilton follows with a question about Flight 93:
Hamilton: “With respect to flight 93, what type of information were you and the Vice President receiving about that flight.”
Mineta: “The only information we had at that point, was when it crashed.”
Chairman Kean then stresses that the Secretary’s time is limited. He moves to Commissioner Roemer, who, immediately prior to his questioning appears to be receiving counsel.
Clip #2: Tim Roemer seeks to discredit Mineta
Mineta responds to a condescending greeting by Commissioner Roemer by giving a timeline for when he arrived in the PEOC (9:20), and an estimate of when the conversation between the young man and the vice president occurred (9:25-26). Roemer paints a picture of chaos and conflicting decision making between the functioning of the Situation Room and the PEOC and proposes a confused scenario of how a shoot down order might have transpired, to which Mineta replies:
Mineta: “That would be speculation on my part as to what was happening on that day.”
At this point Roemer appears to attempt to discredit Mineta and imply that he, like Rumsfeld, was “out of the loop”:
Roemer: “I know. Because you had been conducting official business and I’m sure you were hurriedly on your way over there…”
Mineta: “As I was listening!”
Thwarted, Roemer then tries to clarify how the order played out.
Roemer: “Would your inference be that they scrambled the jets to shoot down the commercial airliner, it failed, and the commercial airliner then crashed into the Pentagon?”
Mineta: “I’m not sure that the aircraft that were scrambled to come up to the D.C. area...were under orders to shoot the airplane down…”
Mineta ultimately expressed the obvious, that the standing order was an open question only Cheney could answer. The fact that "The 9/11 Commission Final Report" discarded his testimony has never been explained. Secretary Mineta did not respond to an open letter addressed to him. It is not known whether the letter got past his spokesman Robert Johnson, who did not respond to multiple messages. It might be worth noting that Johnson was formerly the spokesman of Arizona Congressman Jon Kyl, who was meeting the morning of 9/11 with Porter Goss, Bob Graham and at the time Pakistan ISI Intelligence Chief Mahmood Ahmed. Ahmed was linked to the wiring of $100,000 to Mohammed Atta.