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(After 10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: CIA Establishes a Secure Line to the White House but Is Prevented from Getting the Latest Information from the NSA over It

Charles Allen.Charles Allen. [Source: Chertoff Group]The CIA sets up a secure line to the White House, but because the line is kept constantly connected to the White House, the CIA will be unable to receive the latest information about the terrorist attacks from the National Security Agency (NSA) over it. [Coll, 2018, pp. 32] At around 10:00 a.m., personnel at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, were ordered to evacuate. Consequently, the agency’s senior leaders left the headquarters building and headed across the campus to the CIA printing plant, where they could continue their operations (see (9:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Tenet, 2007, pp. 164; Whittle, 2014, pp. 236] When CIA Director George Tenet and other senior officials reach the printing plant, a technician sets up a secure terminal equipment (STE) line to the White House for them to use. Tenet then talks to Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, who is at the White House. During their conversation, Hadley insists that Tenet keep the STE line open to the White House continuously. However, this hinders the ability of the NSA to communicate with the CIA. NSA Director Michael Hayden wants to send the CIA preliminary evidence that al-Qaeda is responsible for the attacks on the US. [Coll, 2018, pp. 32] Presumably this includes details of a phone conversation between one of Osama bin Laden’s operatives in Afghanistan and someone in the Republic of Georgia that was intercepted at 9:53 a.m., in which the operative said he had “heard good news” and another target was still to come (see 9:53 a.m. September 11, 2001). [CBS News, 9/4/2002] But because the STE line is occupied, Charles Allen, assistant director of central intelligence for collection, who is with Tenet at the printing plant, is unable to securely receive the latest intercept reports from the NSA about who might be responsible for the attacks. He consequently has to send an NSA liaison officer to the headquarters building to collect these reports from a secure fax machine there. [Coll, 2018, pp. 32]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Hayden, Charles E. Allen, Stephen J. Hadley, White House, National Security Agency

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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