Cheney, who told the commission that he talked to Bush in Florida, gave the shoot down order while walking to a bunker underneath the White House. The commission said Cheney thought the order had been carried out, and that two hijacked jets had been shot down.
But the order was never given to the pilots.
Air Force Gen. Ralph Eberhart, who now commands NORAD, said an Air Force colonel didn’t pass it along because he first wanted to put in proper language so it would not be misunderstood by the pilots.
“He said let’s make sure we clearly understand this order so we don’t make a mistake,” Eberhart said. He said that by the time the order was given, there were no hijacked aircraft still in the air.
Eberhart said that with more warning from the FAA, the Air Force could have responded more quickly to prevent both the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “We would have been able to shoot down all three aircraft,” Eberhart said.