"Rumsfeld thought a bomb had exploded at the Pentagon, even though the military defense command had been warned 12 minutes before impact that an errant airliner was headed toward Washington."Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on September 16, 2001 on ABC's Sunday morning news program, This Week, as quoted in "Shoot-down order issued on morning of chaos." by Jonathan Weisman, USAToday Sept. 16, 2001 11:38pm EDT
I had no idea
"The secretary was in his office, really not that far away from the side of the building that got hit by the plane. He and another person immediately ran down the hallway and went outside and helped some of the people, some of the casualties getting off the stretchers, etc. When he came back in the building about half an hour later, he was the first one that told us he was quite sure it was a plane. Based on the wreckage and based on the thousands and thousands of pieces of metal. He was the one that told us, the staff that was in the room. So he was really the first one who told us that it was most likely a plane."
Assistant Secretary Clarke interview with Jim Mitchell, WBZ Boston Saturday, September 15, 2001
"I talked to Colonel Bucci, who recommended that I speak the Secretary. They brought me in to see the Secretary, who was with a small entourage. He and his staff had moved back to our offices, which are one ring deeper inside the building than his office, which had filled up with smoke. I told them what I had seen and what I gather is that I was the first personal account that he had. Even at this point, I don’t believe the Secretary was confident that, in fact, a civilian airliner had hit the building. I think they still speculated about a bomb, a cruise missile, a small aircraft, but I was glad I was able to give useful information. I told them the plane came in full throttle, level, flaps up, wheels up, wasn’t crashed into the building, was flown into the building.
"The Secretary was essentially incredulous, but, then again, maybe that was just his manner. He asked me if I was sure. And as I said, I was close enough to look into the windows of the airplane as it flew passed. There was no doubt in my mind what I had seen."
MAJ Lincoln Leibner Responding in the Pentagon