9/11 Research Wiki


8:00 a.m. September 11, 2001: President Bush Briefly Meets Local Law Enforcement Officials

Having returned to the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort after his morning jog, President Bush meets for a brief chat in his penthouse suite with Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells, Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill, Sarasota Police Chief Gordon Jolly, and Manatee County Sheriff’s Colonel Ken Pearson. Wells later recalls the president was “totally unsuspecting about what is to happen. It looked like, to me, he’s saying, ‘Glad to see you, but I’m ready to get on to the school and meet the kids.’” The four law enforcement officials will later travel to the Sarasota school in the president’s motorcade.

9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001: President Bush’s Security Agents Watch Second WTC Crash on Television; Bush Continues with Photo-Op

According to Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill, just after President Bush enters a Booker Elementary classroom, a Marine responsible for carrying Bush’s phone walks up to Balkwill, who is standing in a nearby side room. While listening to someone talk to him in his earpiece, the Marine asks, “Can you get me to a television? We’re not sure what’s going on, but we need to see a television.” Three Secret Service agents, a SWAT member, the Marine, and Balkwill turn on the television in a nearby front office just as Flight 175 crashes into the WTC. “We’re out of here,” the Marine tells Balkwill. “Can you get everyone ready?” However, Bush stays at the school for another half-hour. Who makes the decision to stay—and why—remains unclear, and the Secret Service won’t comment on the matter. Philip Melanson, author of a book on the Secret Service, comments, “With an unfolding terrorist attack, the procedure should have been to get the president to the closest secure location as quickly as possible, which clearly is not a school. You’re safer in that presidential limo, which is bombproof and blastproof and bulletproof.… In the presidential limo, the communications system is almost duplicative of the White House—he can do almost anything from there but he can’t do much sitting in a school.” The decision to allow the president to remain in the classroom seems odder still considering that, according to the Tampa Tribune, the reason that Sandra Kay Daniels’ classroom has been selected for Bush’s photo-op is “not because [it] fulfilled some complicated formula; her classroom merely was situated next to the school’s north door, making it easier to organize elaborate security.”

Larry Berberich was a security consultant for Bill Balkwill. Larry will oversee security at the Prestancia Community.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ex-sheriff destroyed evidence, judge says. He says deletion of the files was intentional and "cannot be excused"

Former Sheriff Bill Balkwill intentionally deleted files from his work computer -- despite a court order not to -- to hide sensitive documents connected to a $9 million jail contract, a judge ruled this week.

The decision by Circuit Judge Bob Bennett is yet another blow against Balkwill as he defends himself in a lawsuit accusing him of showing favoritism when he awarded a contract to provide health care at the Sarasota County jail.

The firm that lost the bid, Prison Health Services, sued Balkwill, Armor Correctional Health Services and the Sheriff's Office and asked to review computers related to the case.

In his ruling, Bennett wrote that both Balkwill and former Armor CEO Doyle Moore were ordered not to tamper with their computers but scrubbed thousands of key files before turning over the evidence.

"The destruction of files subject to production and inspection, both by Balkwill and Moore, cannot be excused," Bennett wrote in a ruling. "The deletions were intentional and must be viewed as attempts to thwart discovery."

Deleting files in a civil matter does not constitute the crime of tampering with evidence, according to people close to the case. The tampering statute pertains to criminal investigations or trials and the lawsuit over the jail contract is a civil matter.

Balkwill does face a criminal inquiry for grand theft and was investigated by the Sheriff's Office for taking the laptop computer home with him after he signed a document saying it would be recycled. The criminal investigation was launched after a forensic analysis conducted in connection with the civil lawsuit revealed that Balkwill deleted 11,000 files.