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(9:45 a.m.-9:53 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Passengers Are Subjected to a Strict Security Check while Boarding Air Force One

Secret Service agents inspecting the luggage of members of the media travel pool at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.Secret Service agents inspecting the luggage of members of the media travel pool at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. [Source: Steve Nesius / Associated Press]Secret Service agents subject reporters and other individuals who are traveling with President Bush to a strict security check as they are getting onto Air Force One. Bush’s motorcade has now arrived at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in Florida, where Air Force One is waiting (see (9:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Sammon, 2002, pp. 99; Rochester Review, 9/2004] The plane’s crew members have been told there is a “great potential that we are going to be under attack sitting on the ramp” at the airport, according to Colonel Mark Tillman, the pilot. They have also been told there are “unidentified people all around the airport,” and that there is a “possibility that we were subject to the plan to go ahead and assassinate the president” (see (9:04 a.m.-9:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [United Services Automobile Association, 9/11/2011] Reporters who are heading for the rear entrance to Air Force One are stopped by Secret Service agents and ordered to drop whatever they are carrying for a security sweep. [Sammon, 2002, pp. 99] One reporter, White House correspondent Richard Keil, will later recall seeing “a dozen additional Secret Service agents” at the airport, “each with bomb-sniffing dogs.” “We usually have our bags inspected only once in the morning, as long as we remain inside the secure ‘bubble’ in which the president travels,” Keil will write. But now, “everyone’s bag had to be re-swept.” [Rochester Review, 9/2004] Even staffers who are wearing special lapel pins showing they are White House employees have their belongings checked by the bomb-sniffing dogs. [Sammon, 2002, pp. 99] Passengers also have to confirm who they are before being allowed onto the plane. “There was a lot of attention to our credentials, who we were,” Sandy Kress, Bush’s senior education adviser, will comment, adding: “We had to show ID and our badge, not just the badge. And this even though the crew knew most of us.” [Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016] Meanwhile, a military aide standing at the foot of the rear entrance to the plane snaps: “If you’re not essential, you’re not getting on the airplane! We gotta hurry up and get out of here.” [Sammon, 2002, pp. 99] Tillman will recall that Secret Service agents and the plane’s own security staffers are “double, triple-checking the manifest,” and the bomb-sniffing dogs “search everything” that comes onto Air Force One. “We didn’t want to take any chances,” he will comment. [United Services Automobile Association, 9/11/2011; US Air Force, 2/29/2012 pdf file] The mood, according to journalist and author Bill Sammon, is “extraordinarily tense.” [Sammon, 2002, pp. 99]

Entity Tags: US Secret Service, Mark Tillman, Richard Keil, Barnett A. (“Sandy”) Kress

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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