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(Between 8:50 a.m. and 9:02 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Former Clinton Administration Official Calls Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Tells Him about the White House Bunker

Steve Ricchetti.Steve Ricchetti. [Source: C-SPAN]Josh Bolten, the deputy White House chief of staff, receives a phone call from Steve Ricchetti, who served as deputy White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration and who checks whether Bolten is aware of the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a bunker below the White House where numerous government officials will later convene to respond to the terrorist attacks. With White House chief of staff Andrew Card traveling with President Bush in Florida, Bolten is the acting chief of staff at the White House this morning. He has run the senior staff meeting and, after the meeting ends, returns to his office and sees the coverage of the first crash at the World Trade Center on television. Also, when he gets back to his office, Bolten will later recall, “the phone was ringing on the inside line on a number that I don’t think I’d given out to anybody.” “I probably wasn’t even aware I had an inside line,” Bolten will add. He answers the phone and finds the caller is Ricchetti, who he will describe as “a very nice guy who I didn’t know well,” but who had been “very kind to me in the transition.” Ricchetti asks Bolten, “Are you watching TV?” Bolten says he is and Ricchetti asks, “Do you see what’s going on?” Bolten says, “Yes.” Ricchetti then asks, “Do you know about the bunker?” [C-SPAN, 10/6/2013] He is referring to the PEOC, a bunker under the East Wing of the White House that is protected by vault doors and was designed to withstand the effects of a nuclear blast. [New York Times, 9/16/2001; Associated Press, 10/5/2010; Daily Mail, 10/19/2011] Fortunately, Bolten visited the PEOC during a training exercise and so he knows what it is and where it is located (see (Between February and August 2001)). After the call ends, Bolton will head to the White House Situation Room to see if he can find out more about the crash at the WTC (see (9:03 a.m.-9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Apparently influenced by his conversation with Ricchetti, he will later head to the PEOC and then spend much of the rest of the day there with Vice President Dick Cheney and other government officials (see (Shortly After 9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Ricchetti “did a very graceful thing in calling me and trying to alert me to [the PEOC],” Bolten will comment. [C-SPAN, 10/6/2013]

Entity Tags: Joshua Bolten, Steve Ricchetti

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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