9-ll: Ho-Hum, Nothing Urgent
by George Szamuely
Research & documentation by Illarion Bykov and Jared
[Posted 9 January 2002]
On the morning of
September 11, the present Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, General Richard B. Myers, was having a routine
meeting on Capitol Hill with Senator Max Cleland. Just
before the meeting began,
"While in an outer office,
he said, he saw a television report that a plane had
hit the World Trade Center. 'They thought it was a
small plane or something like that,' Myers said. So
the two men went ahead with the office call."
Forces Press Service' 23 October 2001 (1)
The meeting went on for some time.
While the two men chatted away, a second hijacked jet
plowed into the World Trade Center’s south tower and
a third one into the Pentagon. And still they went on
with their meeting.
"Meanwhile, the second
World Trade Center tower was hit by another jet.
'Nobody informed us of that,' Myers said. 'But when
we came out, that was obvious. Then, right at that
time, somebody said the Pentagon had been hit.'
"Somebody thrust a cell
phone in Myers' hand. Gen. Ralph Eberhart, commander
of U.S. Space Command and the North American
Aerospace Defense Command was on the other end of the
line 'talking about what was happening and the
actions he was going to take.'
Forces Press Service' 23 October 2001 (1)
Meanwhile, in Florida, it is clear
from the public record that by the time President Bush
left his hotel he knew about the attack on the first WTC
tower. John Cochran, who was covering the President's
trip to Sarasota told, told Peter Jennings on ABC TV:
"He [the President] got out
of his hotel suite this morning, was about to leave,
reporters saw the White House chief of staff, Andy
Card, whisper into his ear. The reporter said to the
president, 'Do you know what's going on in New York?'
He said he did, and he said he will have something
about it later."
--'ABC News' Special
Report 11 September 2001 (2)
And then he went to an elementary
school in Sarasota to read to children for half an hour.
No urgency. Why should there be? Who
could possibly have realized then the calamitous nature
of the events of September 11? Besides in one of the
planes, the hijackers had switched the
transponders off. So how could anyone know what was going
on? Yet September 11 was not so unprecedented. Passenger
jet hijackings have happened before, and the US
government has prepared detailed plans to handle them. On
September 11 these plans were ignored in their entirety.
According to the 'New York Times,'
air traffic controllers knew at 8:20 a.m.:
"that American Airlines
Flight 11, bound from Boston to Los Angeles, had
probably been hijacked. When the first news report
was made at 8:45 a.m. that a plane might have hit the
World Trade Center, they knew it was Flight 11."
There was little ambiguity on the
matter. The pilot had pushed a button on the aircraft
yoke that allowed controllers to hear the hijacker giving
Here are the FAA regulations
"The FAA hijack coordinator…on
duty at Washington headquarters will request the
military to provide an escort aircraft for a
confirmed hijacked aircraft…The escort service
will be requested by the FAA hijack coordinator by
direct contact with the National Military Command
Center (NMCC)." (4)
Here are the instructions issued by
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on June 1, 2001:
"In the event of a
hijacking, the NMCC will be notified by the most
expeditious means by the FAA. The NMCC will…forward
requests for DOD assistance to the Secretary of
Defense for approval." (5)
In addition, Vice President Cheney
told Meet the Press on Sept. 16 that only the president
has the authority to order the shooting down of a
civilian airliner. "And you have to ask yourself,"
Cheney said, "‘If we had had combat air patrol
up over New York and we’d had the opportunity to
take out the two aircraft that hit the World Trade
Center, would we have been justified in doing that?’
I think absolutely we would have…. It’s a
presidential-level decision, and the president made, I
think, exactly the right call in this case, to say,
‘I wished we’d had combat air patrol up over
New York.’" (6)
The U.S. is supposed to scramble
military aircraft the moment a hijacking is confirmed.
Yet Myers continues to chat on Capitol Hill, Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld works undisturbed in his Pentagon
office and the president reads to schoolchildren. Myers’
first statement to the Senate Armed Services
Committee on Sept. 13, that no fighter planes had been
launched until after the Pentagon was hit, was therefore
scarcely surprising. Senators were a little incredulous.
And the day before, Dan Rather asked on CBS News:
"These hijacked aircraft
were in the air for quite a while…Why doesn’t
the Pentagon have the kind of protection that they
can get a fighter-interceptor aircraft up, and if
someone is going to plow an aircraft into the
Pentagon, that we have at least some…line of
Good question. Clearly another, more
comforting, story was needed and on the evening of Friday
September 14 CBS launched it:
has learned the FAA alerted US Air defense units of a
possible hijacking at 8:38 Tuesday morning, and six
minutes later, at 8:44, two F-15s received a scramble
order at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod. But two
minutes later, at 8:46, American Airlines Flight 11,
the first hijacked jet, slammed into the World Trade
Center. Six minutes later, at 8:52, the F-15s were
airborne and began racing towards New York City, but
the fighters were still 70 miles away when the second
hijacked jet, United Airlines Flight 175, hit the
second Trade Center tower. Shortly after that blast,
the F-15s reached Manhattan and began flying air
cover missions over the city.
"But to the
south, a new danger and a new response. At 9:30,
three F-16s were launched out of Langley Air Force
base in Virginia, 150 miles south of Washington. But
just seven minutes later, at 9:37, American Airlines
Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. The F-16s
arrived in Washington just before 10:00 and began
flying cover over the nation's capital." (8)
This story, which has now, with
slight modifications, become the "official"
NORAD version, raises more questions than it answers.
F-15s have a cruising speed of 577-mph,
F-16s have a cruising speed of 570-mph. (10)
. Both planes can fly much faster, though there
is a rapid drop in fuel economy.
According to CBS, three F-16s
scrambled from Langley at 9:30 and arrived in Washington
at 10:00. The distance from Langley Air Force Base to the
Pentagon is 129 miles - not 150, as CBS stated. If these
F-16s took half an hour to get to Washington they were
flying at 4.4 miles per minute, 258 mph. That's less than
half their cruising speed. It's a fifth of the maximum
speed for these F-16s, 1500-mph.
Talk about a lack of urgency!
And since Washington, D.C. is little
more than 200 miles from New York, the two F-15 fighters
from Otis would have had time to get to DC, intercept
Flight 77 and grab a breakfast on the way.
And then of course, there is the
small matter of Andrews Air Force Base.
It is, after all, but ten miles from the Pentagon. As
Matthew Wald wrote in the New York Times on September 15th:
"During the hour or so that
American Airlines Flight 77 was under the control of
hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side
of the Pentagon, military officials in a command
center on the east side of the building were urgently
talking to law enforcement and air traffic control
officials about what to do." (11)
Why didn't they order
planes from Andrews put in the air to protect
Washington D.C. and to intercept American Flight 77 long
before it reached the U.S. capital? (12)
Clothes articles are listed in 'Articles on 9-11', at http://emperors-clothes.com/indict/911page.htm
Includes: (1) Articles refuting the official story on what
happened 9-11; (2) Articles refuting official story
on Osama bin Laden; (3) Exclusive interviews related to 9-11, including with
Red Cross; (4) Other relevant issues.
Forces Press Service' 23 October 2001 "Myers and
Sept. 11: 'We Hadn't Thought About This'" by
Sergeant 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA. Full text
(2) 'ABC News' Special Report: "Planes crash
into World Trade Center" (8:53 AM ET) Tuesday 11
To see the quotation in the full transcript, go to:
(3) 'New York
Times' Saturday 15 September 2001 "AFTER THE ATTACKS: SKY
RULES; Pentagon Tracked Deadly Jet But Found No Way to
Stop It" by Matthew L. Wald
Full text with quotation is at:
(4) FAA Order 7610.4J 'Special
Military Operations' (Effective Date: November 3, 1998;
Includes: Change 1, effective July 3, 2000; Change 2,
effective July 12, 2001), Chapter 7, Section 1-2, "Escort
of Hijacked Aircraft: Requests for Service"
Full text posted at:
(5) 'Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff Instruction 3610.01A,' 1 June 2001,
"Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of
Derelict Airborne Objects," 4.Policy (page 1)
PDF available at:
(6)'NBC, Meet the Press' (10:00 AM ET)
Sunday 16 September 2001.
Full transcript at:
Backup transcript at:
Vice President Cheney's 'Meet the
Press' appearance is discussed in ''Mr.
Cheney's Cover Story' at
(7) CBS News Special Report (12:00
Noon PM ET) - September 12, 2001 "Aftermath of and
investigation into attacks on World Trade Center and the
Pentagon at http://emperor.vwh.net/9-11backups/cbs12th.htm
(8) To read the new cover story
floated by CBS on 14 September go to http://emperor.vwh.net/9-11backups/changes.htm#a
(9) Website of the 88th Communications
Group, Wright-Patterson AFB OH, http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/fighter/f16a.htm
(10) From 'Popular Mechanics'
Website, 'The Weapons Of Enduring Freedom,' at http://popularmechanics.com/science/military/2001/9/weapons_of_infinite_justice/
(11) 'Pentagon Tracked Deadly Jet but
Found No Way to Stop It,' 'New York Times,' September 15,
2001, Section A; Page 1; Column 1 http://college4.nytimes.com/guests/articles/2001/09/15/868107.xml
Regarding the failure to scramble planes from Andrews Air
Force Base, see 'Why
Were None of the Hijacked Planes Intercepted?' at