Posted September 14 2001 - 12:51 PM
Cheney, Away From White House, Works on Crisis
By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) missed a Cabinet meeting on Friday and worked away from the White House at a secret site, his office said, as the administration prepared to launch a battle against terrorism.
Cheney, one of President Bush (news - web sites)'s most trusted aides and next in line for the presidency in the event of the president's death, was taken to Camp David, Maryland, on Thursday to keep him physically separate from Bush.
He was to join the president this weekend for a meeting on the response to this week's aerial attacks on New York and Washington, spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss said.
``They are going to continue to work on providing aid and comfort to the victims of the crisis and also on establishing who did this,'' Weiss said.
Another U.S. official described the meeting as intended to begin the decision-making process for U.S. action.
The precautions around Cheney followed attacks on Tuesday by hijackers who slammed commercial airliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon (news - web sites). The White House was an initial target for the plane that hit the Pentagon, the White House has said.
The Bush administration has identified Saudi-exile Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) as the prime suspect in masterminding the assault.
Bush said on Thursday, ``This nation is sad, but we are also tough and resolute and now is an opportunity to do generations a favor by coming together and whipping terrorism, hunting it down, finding it and holding them accountable.''
Cheney, a former defense secretary, on Friday did not take part in the Cabinet meeting at which Bush's authorization to call up reserve troops and other responses to the attack were discussed. Neither did he participate by telephone, Weiss said.
Cheney also did not attend a prayer service at Washington's National Cathedral, at which Bush spoke in leading a national day of prayer for the victims of the attacks.
Weiss declined to say whether Cheney was still at Camp David.
``He's working at a location I am going to decline to give,'' she said. ``We are going to be very careful about giving out scheduling information and his location.''
Bush had been scheduled before the attack to spend the coming weekend at Camp David. The White House has declined to say whether he still plans to go there.
Cheney will also appear in a live interview Sunday on the NBC television show ``Meet the Press,'' Weiss said.
The vice president, who has suffered four heart attacks since 1988, remains in good health, Weiss said. ``He's fine, he's doing well,'' she said.