Here is a noteworthy report from WashPost: "Bush was at Camp David when he heard the news about the shuttle. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., also at Camp David, had been watching the shuttle landing on television, and at 9:15 a.m. informed Bush that NASA had lost contact with Columbia." In a story entitled "Shuttle Cover-up?," NewsMax declared that this "raises a big red flag... It is odd that the White House chief of staff would watch a shuttle landing. Such a routine event - early on a Saturday morning, in the midst of Blair, U.N. inspections, Colin Powell's upcoming intelligence revelations to the Security Council - seems to be something that a White House big shot would pay no attention to. If he had a heads-up that something might have been amiss, then we need to be told. And it will come out - eventually." But not with the help of NewsMax - they profusely apologized to their readers for raising the slightest doubt about Saint George.
There was one odd item in the Washington Post story Sunday about the shuttle crash. White House Chief of Staff Andy Card was up at Camp David with the president. They had originally planned to have British Prime Minister Tony Blair up there, but the foggy conditions prevented helicopter flights. So Friday afternoon the two leaders had their meeting in the White House residence instead.
Then the Bush party went up to Camp David for the weekend.
Saturday morning, according to this story, Card was "watching NASA TV at Camp David when the accident occurred." He then immediately went over to Bush's cabin, Aspen, and told the president what happened.
The fact that the White House chief of staff is even watching the landing of a space shuttle on a Saturday morning - while at Camp David in the middle of the Iraq crisis - raises a big red flag.
Was he previously informed that NASA was worried about tile damage from the launch?
How much internal chatter about a risky landing was there?
Did NASA expect trouble on an otherwise routine landing?
How many other officials suspected trouble Saturday morning?
Did NASA tell the astronauts and their families of the extra risk with this landing?
These and many other questions are hanging in the air as NASA tries to figure out what happened.
It seems possible that right after the launch NASA officials grew worried that there may have been serious damage. Perhaps they then had high-level meetings about their worries and, as a potential CYA measure, informed Andy Card.
It is odd that the White House chief of staff would watch a shuttle landing. Such a routine event - early on a Saturday morning, in the midst of Blair, U.N. inspections, Colin Powell's upcoming intelligence revelations to the Security Council - seems to be something that a White House big shot would pay no attention to.
If he had a heads-up that something might have been amiss, then we need to be told. And it will come out - eventually.
Haven't we all learned that cover-ups are huge mistakes? It is always better just to square with the people.
NASA has a wonderful safety record over 40 years of manned space flight. They now need to also have a wonderful candor record.
A Note to NewsMax Readers
With our breaking news alert today we included a headlined story -- "Shuttle Cover-up?"
As it turned out, that was not a news story, but an opinion article. While NewsMax is committed to offering a diversity of opinions on the Web, even opinions we disagree with, we erred in not clearly marking this story as an OPINION COLUMN and not NEWS.
Additionally, the op-ed "Shuttle Cover-up?" does not reflect the editorial position of NewsMax and should not have been e-mailed to our readers.
We apologize in advance for any concerns our readers may have had about this story.
Moreover, we would like to share with you an opinion column by renowned radio host and former Army Colonel Geoff Metcalf that celebrates the courage of those brave Americans and the Israeli Colonel who died on the Columbia (below).
Our prayers, America's prayers, are with them and their families today.
Thank you for your understanding!