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Sunday, September 11, 2016


Photography by Eric Draper courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
After starting his day Florida on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was whisked onto Air Force One and was flown to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Here he is shown watching television coverage of the 9/11 attacks from his office on aboard the 747.  Later in the day he was flown back to Washington DC after a brief stop at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

The image was released as part of a granted Freedom of Information request filed by producers of Frontline, a documentary series that airs on PBS.  As of this date it is the first time the American public viewed many of the behind the scenes images of President Bush on that fateful day.

In the above photo, there is a black briefcase sitting at the edge of President Bush’s airborne office.  It may or may not be the
so-called nuclear "Football," a black leather briefcase that contains top-secret items capable of allowing the US president to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers such as the Situation Room in the White House.

Officially referred to as the "president's emergency satchel," the unsophisticated-looking portable Football is hand-carried by one of five military aides and is always within reach of the commander in chief, just in case.

According to Bill Gulley, a former director of the White House Military Office, the ubiquitous Football does not contain a doomsday red-button keypad but rather these four items:

--a 75-page black book of retaliatory nuclear-strike options printed in black and red ink;
--another black book with a list of classified sites to shelter the president; --a manila folder containing 10 pages of instructions on how to operate the Emergency Broadcast System;
--an index card with authentication codes.

Sometimes an antenna can be seen poking out of the briefcase, which suggests that there may be communications equipment inside.

The nickname Football comes from "Dropkick," a code name given to a secret nuclear-war plan, according to former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Initiating a Dropkick would require one of these Footballs, Smithsonian Magazine explains.

The military aides selected to carry the briefcase are trained to administer the president for a nuclear attack in minutes.

"You're always kind of on edge," recalls then-Air Force Major Robert Patterson, who toted the Football for President Clinton. "I opened it up constantly just to refresh myself, to always be aware of what was in it, all the potential decisions the president could possibly make," Patterson told the Associated Press.

The ubiquitous Football is always in the same airplane, helicopter, car, and elevator alongside the president. When the president is at home, the Football is stored in a secure location inside the White House, the AP reports. According to Patterson, some aides chased after Clinton while he jogged around the White House compound — all the while lugging the 45-pound briefcase.

The lethal luggage first appeared during Kennedy's administration, shortly after the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

Source: Amanda Macias writing in the Feb. 11, 2015 edition of Business Insider magazine.

**A retired "Football" displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

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