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(Between 9:04 a.m. and 9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Vice President Cheney’s Special Assistant Is Worried that the White House Might Be Attacked

Ashley Snee.Ashley Snee. [Source: Ashley Snee]Ashley Snee, Vice President Dick Cheney’s special assistant, becomes concerned that terrorists might attack the White House after she sees the second hijacked plane crashing into the World Trade Center on television. [KMAX-TV, 9/11/2016] Snee is in Cheney’s outer office in the West Wing of the White House with Debbie Heiden, another assistant to the vice president. The television there was on and the two women consequently saw the news that a plane had crashed into the WTC when it was first reported (see 8:48 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Baker, 2013, pp. 121; Sacramento Bee, 9/8/2013] Heiden called Cheney and told him: “Sir, something’s happening in New York. Turn on your TV and so you can see what’s going on.” Cheney subsequently saw the second hijacked plane crashing into the South Tower on television, at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). He promptly came out of his office and told his two assistants, “They hit the second tower.” [Cheney and Reiner, 2013, pp. 189; KMAX-TV, 9/11/2016] There is now “a flurry of activity in the otherwise quiet halls of the West Wing,” Snee will later describe. The special assistant notices “senior staff” going “in and out of the vice president’s office.” [Sacramento Bee, 9/8/2013] She and Heiden realize the crashes must have been intentional. Snee therefore starts worrying that the White House might be attacked. “It started to set in that if this was an attack, I’m sitting in probably a pretty high-level target,” she will recall. “We got a little nervous,” she will comment. [KMAX-TV, 9/11/2016] She assumes, however, that since Cheney is being allowed to stay in his office, the White House must have been determined to be safe. “I took solace [from thinking] that if he was safe in his office, just steps away, surely we were too,” she will remark. Cheney will remain in his office until around 9:35 a.m., when the Secret Service learns a suspicious aircraft is flying toward the White House and agents consequently move him to a safer location (see (9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 39-40; Hayes, 2007, pp. 333] Snee will be “overcome with panic” when she sees him being hurried away from his office. At that point, she will recall, “What I feared all morning became obvious: we’re not safe here.” [Sacramento Bee, 9/8/2013] “Well, it’s not safe for him, it’s probably not safe for us,” she will think. [KMAX-TV, 9/11/2016]

Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Ashley Snee, Debbie Heiden

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


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