Norman Mineta

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There was a young man who had come in and said to the vice president, "The plane is 50 miles out. The plane is 30 miles out." And when it got down to, "The plane is 10 miles out," the young man also said to the vice president, "Do the orders still stand?" And the vice president turned and whipped his neck around and said, "Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?" Well, at the time I didn't know what all that meant.

Norman Mineta, 9/11 Commission [28]

Commissioner Lee Hamilton queried if the order was to shoot down the plane, to which Mineta replied that he did not know that specifically. [28]

Mineta's testimony to the commission on Flight 77 differs rather significantly from the account provided in the January 22, 2002, edition of The Washington Post , as reported by Bob Woodward and Dan Balz in their series "10 Days in September".

9:32 a.m.

The Vice President in Washington: Underground, in Touch With Bush

Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, summoned by the White House to the bunker, was on an open line to the Federal Aviation Administration operations center, monitoring Flight 77 as it hurtled toward Washington, with radar tracks coming every seven seconds. Reports came that the plane was 50 miles out, 30 miles out, 10 miles out—until word reached the bunker that there had been an explosion at the Pentagon.

Mineta shouted into the phone to Monte Belger at the FAA: "Monte, bring all the planes down." It was an unprecedented order—there were 4,546 airplanes in the air at the time. Belger, the FAA's acting deputy administrator, amended Mineta's directive to take into account the authority vested in airline pilots. "We're bringing them down per pilot discretion," Belger told the secretary.

"Fuck pilot discretion," Mineta yelled back. "Get those goddamn planes down."

Sitting at the other end of the table, Cheney snapped his head up, looked squarely at Mineta and nodded in agreement.

The Washington Post [29] , inDan Balz and Bob Woodward

This same article reports that the conversation between Cheney and the aide occurred at 9:55 a.m., about 30 minutes later than the time that Mineta had cited (9:26 a.m.) during his testimony to the 9/11 Commission.

After hearing of Mineta's orders, Canadian transport minister David Collenette issued orders to ground all civilian aircraft traffic across Canada, resulting in Operation Yellow Ribbon. On September 21, 2001, Mineta sent a letter to all U.S. airlines forbidding them from practicing racial profiling or subjecting Middle Eastern or Muslim passengers to a heightened degree of pre-flight scrutiny. He stated that it was illegal for the airlines to discriminate against passengers based on their race, color, national or ethnic origin or religion. Subsequently, administrative enforcement actions were brought against three airlines based on alleged contraventions of these rules, resulting in multimillion-dollar settlements. Mineta voiced his intention to "absolutely not" implement racial screenings in a 60 Minutes interview just after 9/11. He later recalled his decision "was the right thing [and] constitutional" based on his own experience as a member of those who had "lost the most basic human rights" as a result of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. [5]

The Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in San Jose was named after Mineta in November 2001 while he was serving as Secretary of Transportation. [30] The Mineta Transportation Institute, located at San Jose State University, and portions of California State Highway 85 are named after him. [31] [32]

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow announced on June 23, 2006, that Mineta would resign effective July 7, 2006, because "he wanted to." A spokesman said that Mineta was "moving on to pursue other challenges." He left office as the longest-serving Secretary of Transportation in history. [33]

After leaving the Bush administration

Norman Mineta, 2009 Norman Mineta (cropped).jpg
Norman Mineta, 2009

Hill+Knowlton announced on July 10, 2006, that Mineta would join the firm as vice chairman, effective July 24, 2006. [34]

In 2005, Mineta received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement presented by Awards Council member and Google cofounder Larry Page. [35] [36] In October 2006, Mineta won the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy. [37] In December 2006, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. [38] In 2007, the Japanese government conferred upon him the Grand Cordon, Order of the Rising Sun. [39]

On February 4, 2008, the day before the closely contested California Democratic primary, Mineta endorsed Barack Obama. [40]

Beginning in summer 2008, Mineta began service as chairman of a panel of the National Academy of Public Administration overseeing a study of modernization efforts at the United States Coast Guard. Other notable members of the panel include former Office of Personnel Management director Janice Lachance and former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe. [41]

In June 2010, Mineta was named co-chair of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. On August 10, 2010, he was named vice chairman of L&L Energy, Inc. which was headquartered in Seattle and operated coal mines and other facilities related to coal production in China. [42]

Mineta was a recipient of the Chubb Fellowship at Yale University from 2015–2016. [43]


The Mineta Transportation Institute was named after him. It was established by Congress in 1991 as a research institute focusing on issues related to intermodal surface transportation in the United States. It is part of San Jose State University's Lucas Graduate School of Business in San Jose, California, and is currently directed by Karen Philbrick.

Personal life

Mineta's first marriage was to May Hinoki, which lasted from 1961 to 1986. [44] In 1991, Mineta married United Airlines flight attendant Danealia "Deni" Brantner. [45] Mineta had two children from his first marriage and two stepchildren from his second marriage. He had 11 grandchildren. [17]

Mineta died on May 3, 2022, from a heart ailment in Edgewater, Maryland, at the age of 90. [3]

See also

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  1. "Dick Cheney: Personal Reflections on his Public Life".
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Norman Mineta
Norman Mineta, official portrait, DOT.jpg
14th United States Secretary of Transportation
In office
January 25, 2001 July 7, 2006
Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of San Jose
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Secretary of Commerce
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Secretary of Transportation
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the House Transportation Committee
Succeeded by
New office Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
Succeeded by
Preceded by Ranking Member of the House Transportation Committee
Succeeded by