Friday, 28 September 2007
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, "On 9/11, the defense of U.S. airspace depended on close interaction between two federal agencies: the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)." NORAD in particular is tasked with defending the airspace over North America and protecting the continent. The attacks on 9/11 all took place within its Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), which, according to the 9/11 Commission, was able to call upon two 'alert' military sites for assistance: Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia. Each of these had just one pair of fighter jets at the ready. "Other facilities, not on 'alert,' would need time to arm the fighters and organize crews." 
This implied that the most sophisticated military in all history believed that four fighter aircraft was sufficient to defend 500,000 square miles of airspace and the 80 million people covered by it. However, there is good evidence that--as we would rationally expect--this was not the case at all, and the military had other lines of defense it could have called upon. One possibility totally ignored by the 9/11 Commission was that the Navy could have provided fighter jets to help defend America during the attacks of September 11.
RUDY WASHINGTON CALLS FOR HELP
The New York Daily News has reported: "Rudy Washington, one of Rudy Giuliani's deputy mayors on Sept. 11, 2001, ran New York for the first few hours after the attack." As he was being driven into downtown Manhattan after the first attack occurred, Washington saw the smoking North Tower and right away requested air defense over New York. He "immediately called Admiral Robert Natter, commander of the Atlantic Fleet." Natter was based at the Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, which is the world's largest naval base. Washington asked for air cover for the city. Natter "said he had to get in touch with NORAD and would call back." 
Right away, we have an important point to observe: When Rudy Washington wanted fighter jets over New York, he did not call NORAD, the FAA, the Air Force, or the Pentagon. The first place he turned to for help was the Navy. So he must have believed it was able to provide the kind of assistance that was required in the current crisis. What kind of support might the Navy have offered, then? Norfolk Naval Station is in the region of Naval Air Station Oceana. NAS Oceana's primary mission is "to train and deploy the Navy's fighter/attack squadron--the F-14 Tomcats and the F/A-18 Hornets."  At that time, twelve F-14 Tomcat fighter squadrons and eleven F/A-18 Hornet squadrons were based there. In total, there were 300 fighter jets.  These should have been a useful asset for dealing with emergencies, such as an aerial attack on the United States.
It is unclear exactly how long it took Admiral Natter to get the permission he sought from NORAD. At some time after the second WTC tower was hit (i.e. after 9:03 a.m.), Rudy Washington called Patrick Burns, who was at Norfolk Naval Station for his two-week Naval Reserve obligation. Among other things, he wanted to know about the status of the Navy jets.  Obviously, there was no sign of them yet having arrived over New York. Washington communicated with Natter again from City Hall, apparently fairly soon after the first WTC tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. Natter said he had now received permission from NORAD to send some planes over New York. How long exactly it had taken him to get this permission is unspecified.  Also unspecified is what time the Navy jets were launched, and when--if at all--they reached New York. In describing events right after the second attack, Patrick Burns has claimed: "Air cover was already up with Navy jets out of Naval Air Station Oceana."  Yet the first fighters to arrive over New York were apparently two F-15s launched by NEADS from Otis Air Force Base. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, these arrived at 9:25 a.m.  In fact, the majority of witnesses on the ground have recalled first noticing fighter jets overhead at some time after 10 a.m. 
THE NAVY COMMAND CENTER TRIES TO HELP
Further evidence that the Navy had the capability to provide fighters to protect the U.S. is the fact that individuals working in its Command Center were trying to get jets launched just before the Pentagon was attacked. Though it has not been stated explicitly, one would assume that, since they worked for the Navy, these men would have been calling upon Navy jets to help.
The Navy Command Center was located on the first floor of the Pentagon's southwest face. Inside it, Matthew Flocco, Edward Earhart, and their supervisor Nancy McKeown--all members of a small meteorological unit there--were watching the TV footage of the attacks in New York. McKeown reportedly asked Flocco and Earhart to bring up New York on the computer, because the Command Center was going to send some fighter jets there in case there was another attack on the city. She also told them to program weather updates for military aircraft converging on New York.  Another person in the Command Center was Ronald Vauk, the Navy's watch commander. Just before the Pentagon was hit, he was urgently trying to get fighter jets launched, reportedly to protect Washington, DC.  Tragically, except for McKeown, all of these individuals were killed just seconds later. The Navy Command Center was mostly destroyed when the Pentagon was hit at 9:37. 
THE DELAYED REACTIONS OF VERN CLARK
The Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark has recalled his actions in response to the attacks: "We had carriers at sea. I talked to Admiral Natter and Admiral Fargo [Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet] about immediate loadouts [of weapons and armed aircraft] and the positioning of our air defense cruisers. Fundamentally, those pieces were in place almost immediately and integrated into the interagency process and with the FAA." This again indicated that the Navy was capable of rapidly providing air defense over the U.S.: the "immediate loadouts" of "armed aircraft." Clark explained: "There has never been an experience like this in my lifetime. We were thinking about the immediate protection of the United States of America." 
But what time was he describing? 8:15 a.m., just after Flight 11 broke radio contact with controllers? 8:20, when it veered drastically off course? 8:25, when the air traffic controller was sure he was dealing with a hijacking?  Apparently not. Clark seems to have been referring to the period after the Pentagon attack at 9:37. Until then, he had been in his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon. No reports describe him doing anything in response to the attacks in New York. When the Pentagon was hit, he was "receiving a budget briefing." A member of his staff then entered the office and told him he had to evacuate. After initially heading to the Pentagon's National Military Command Center (NMCC), he decided to re-establish the Navy's command center in another location in Washington, DC.  Presumably it was some time after he arrived at this new command center that he began "thinking about the immediate protection of the United States of America."
In his recollection, Clark referred to the Navy's air defense cruisers. The aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which is based at Norfolk, was at sea off the Virginia coast that morning, conducting training exercises. It was dispatched to New York, "following the recovery of armed F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets from Naval Air Station Oceana."  Yet, none of these fighters appear to have been of any use in stopping the attacks.
READINESS IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
To conclude, the U.S. Navy had many fighter jets available in the northeastern United States. Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington had requested some of these apparently minutes after 8:46, when the first attack took place. Yet it is unclear whether any Navy jets ever arrived over New York. They were certainly not there by 10 a.m. If they did arrive, it was only after the attacks had ended.
In spite of the Navy's therefore disastrous failure to protect the United States on 9/11, Admiral Robert Natter later commented: "I think we were responsive to something that came out of the clear blue, and I think naval forces reacted to it the way the taxpayers would have wanted. Readiness is the name of the game, and the ability of our people to respond is the second part of it." 
 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Authorized Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004, pp. 14 and 16-17.
 "Aboard the USS Vela Gulf." CBS News, April 3, 2003; Stanley Crouch, "Forgotten Man of 9/11 Played Enormous Role." New York Daily News, May 20, 2004.
 Roger Richards, "Under Attack." Digital Journalist, October 2001; "Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana." GlobalSecurity.org, November 15, 2001.
 "History of Naval Air Station Oceana." Naval Air Station Oceana, April 3, 2001; "Vital Statistics." Naval Air Station Oceana, April 3, 2001.
 Patrick Burns, "Called to Ground Zero." Notre Dame Magazine, Spring 2007.
 Stanley Crouch, "Forgotten Man of 9/11 Played Enormous Role."
 Patrick Burns, "Called to Ground Zero."
 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 24.
 See "(9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Witnesses First Notice Military Jets Over New York, Later Than Claimed by 9/11 Commission." Complete 9/11 Timeline.
 Malcolm McConnell, "Brick by Brick." Reader's Digest, September 2002; "Stories of 9/11." Larry King Weekend, CNN, September 8, 2002.
 Francis X. Clines, "Perseverance, Not Vindictiveness, in a Family Bereaved by Terrorism." New York Times, November 17, 2001; Scott Shane, "9/11: One Year." Baltimore Sun, September 11, 2002.
 Richard Leiby, "The Last Watch." Washington Post, January 20, 2002.
 Gordon I. Peterson, "Bush: 'The Might of Our Navy is Needed Again.' Readiness Improvements Prove Critical in War on Terrorism, But Future Navy is at Risk." Sea Power, January 2002.
 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 18-19; Tom Brokaw, "The Skies Over America." NBC News, September 9, 2006.
 Gordon I. Peterson, "Bush: 'The Might of Our Navy is Needed Again.'"
 Allen G. Breed, "In South, Shock, Fear Over Terrorist Attacks Put Life on Hold." Associated Press, September 12, 2001; Jack Dorsey, "Navy Carriers Sent to Patrol off New York, DC." Virginian-Pilot, September 12, 2001; Gordon I. Peterson, "Bush: 'The Might of Our Navy is Needed Again'"; Patrick Burns, "Called to Ground Zero."
 Gordon I. Peterson, "Bush: 'The Might of Our Navy is Needed Again.'"
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
It is well known within the 9/11 truth community that, on September 11, 2001, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) failed appallingly to protect the United States from the attacking aircraft, in the way we would have expected it to. But evidence indicates there were other military departments that could also have played a significant role in stopping the attacks. Yet, like NORAD, these appear to have been in a state of paralysis that morning. They only seem to have become properly active, and able to effectively perform their usual role, when it was too late for them to have made a difference.
Three new entries in the Complete 9/11 Timeline (copied below) focus on the Air Force's Crisis Action Team (CAT), which was working from the Air Force Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon's C Ring. The CAT was reportedly activated at around 9 a.m. on 9/11, just before the second WTC tower was struck. After the second crash occurred, a member of staff in the Operations Center confirmed to another: "Just so you know, we're considering that we're under attack." Air Force Major Harry Brosofsky, who was in the Operations Center for some of that morning, has said that the CAT is "trained to know what to do in a crisis." Yet the CAT, and some of the most senior personnel involved with it, appears to have been extraordinarily slow in its response.
For example, two top officials--Secretary of the Air Force James Roche and Air Force Chief of Staff John Jumper--only seem to have got involved with the crisis response after the attack on the Pentagon. Both had been aware of the first crash in New York, and were together in Roche's office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon when they saw the second attack on television. They were then called down to the Air Force Operations Center. Yet they did not get there until after the Pentagon was hit at 9:37 a.m.
Incredibly, according to what Roche has said, at the time they arrived--soon after 9:37--the Operations Center had not yet made contact with NORAD. And even after these two men had entered the center, making contact with NORAD does not appear to have been a priority. Roche said the first thing he and Jumper did was "try and find out where our people were, to make sure they were safe and safely out of the building." It was only then that the "second thing we did was to try and hook up with the North American Air Defense Command, NORAD, and then to stand by and start to think of how we, the Air Force, could support any casualties or any other things that might develop during the day." Surely the Air Force should have been starting to think what support it could offer much earlier on? Some time around 8:20 a.m. would have been preferable, by which time Flight 11--the first errant plane--had already been out off communication with air traffic controllers for several minutes, its transponder had gone off, and it had abruptly changed course.
Underscoring the crucial role the Operations Center and the CAT should have played, Major Harry Brosofsky (who also arrived at the center after the Pentagon was hit) has said: "We became the eyes and ears of the Air Force." For example, the CAT worked with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to monitor flight activity over the U.S., and coordinated with NORAD to put fighter jets on alert in Alaska and Hawaii.
It seems, however, that the Air Force Operations Center and the Crisis Action Team must have been in a state of paralysis during the critical period between 8:20 a.m. and 9:40 a.m., when their assistance was most urgently needed. By the time they contacted NORAD and "became the eyes and ears of the Air Force," it was too late for them to have made much of a difference. The question is, what caused this paralysis?
From the Complete 9/11 Timeline:
(9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Air Force Crisis Action Team Activated
The Air Force's Crisis Action Team (CAT) at the Pentagon is activated. The CAT is under the command of the US Air Force chief of staff, and reportedly it "coordinates Air Force reaction to anything that might be a threat to the United States." After hearing the CAT has been activated, Major Donna Nicholas heads down to the Air Force Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon's C Ring, where the CAT is carrying out its activities. She arrives there after 9:03, when the second WTC tower is hit, and someone tells her, "Just so you know, we're considering that we're under attack." The Operations Center is "a flurry of activity as Air Force officials worked to gather information, both from the media and from their own intelligence sources." [Dover Post, 9/19/2001; Syracuse University Magazine, 12/2001] The CAT's usual first in charge is away. So Lieutenant Colonel Matt Swanson, its second in command, has to take their place supervising emergency operations for the Air Force. But he is only called from his Pentagon office to the Air Force Operations Center to join the CAT after the time of the second attack. [Prospectus, 9/2006, pp. 3-6] Similarly, James Roche and John Jumper, the Air Force secretary and chief of staff respectively, will not arrive at the center until after the Pentagon is hit at 9:37 (see (After 9:03 a.m.-Shortly After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
(After 9:03 a.m.-Shortly After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Air Force Secretary and Chief of Staff Head to Operations Center But Only Arrive after Pentagon Has Been Hit
Secretary of the Air Force James Roche is in his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon, along with Air Force Chief of Staff John Jumper. Both have learned of the first WTC crash. After seeing the second attack live on television, they get on the phone to the Air Force Operations Center, and are then called down there. [CNN, 10/10/2001; Airman, 10/2002] The Operations Center is located in the basement of the Pentagon's C Ring. In it, the Crisis Action Team (CAT) is carrying out emergency operations for the Air Force. [Syracuse University Magazine, 12/2001] However, Roche and Jumper apparently do not arrive there until after 9:37, when the Pentagon is hit. Roche later recalls, "Once in our crisis action center, we found out that the building had been hit by an aircraft." [CNN, 10/10/2001]
After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Air Force Crisis Action Team Responds to Attacks
Inside the Air Force Operations Center at the Pentagon, personnel do not feel when the building is hit. The Operations Center is located in the basement of the building's C Ring, on the opposite side to where the impact occurs. But alarms go off, and television news reports confirm that the Pentagon has been attacked. Secretary of the Air Force James Roche and Air Force Chief of Staff John Jumper arrive at the Operations Center shortly after the attack (see (After 9:03 a.m.-Shortly After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to Roche, the first thing they do there is "try and find out where our people were to make sure they were safe and safely out of the building." Then, "The second thing we did was to try and hook up with the North American Air Defense Command, NORAD, and then to stand by and start to think of how we, the Air Force, could support any casualties or any other things that might develop during the day." Air Force Major Harry Brosofsky also arrives at the Operations Center shortly after the Pentagon is hit, to help the Air Force's Crisis Action Team (CAT) there. When he arrives, the CAT is taking calls coming in on numerous phone lines. As Brosofsky later describes, "We became the eyes and ears of the Air Force." The CAT works with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to monitor flight activity over the US. It also coordinates with NORAD to put fighter jets on alert in Alaska and Hawaii. Brosofsky says that while "We're trained to know what to do in a crisis,... at times we had information overload and had to decide quickly what to do with all the information that was pouring in." Around midday, the decision is made to leave the building, and the CAT relocates to a secret location outside Washington. [Dover Post, 9/19/2001; CNN, 10/10/2001; Syracuse University Magazine, 12/2001; Airman, 10/2002; Prospectus, 9/2006, pp. 3-6]
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Monday, 10 September 2007
Right after the first World Trade Center tower collapsed, at 9:59 a.m. on September 11, 2001, Father John Delendick--one of New York Fire Department's chaplains--ran down a ramp to below the nearby World Financial Center, so as to escape the dust cloud. There he met with Deputy Chief Ray Downey, the head of the FDNY's Special Operations Command. Delendick asked Downey if the jet fuel from the plane had blown up, thus causing the South Tower to collapse. According to Delendick, Downey "said at that point he thought there were bombs up there because it was too even." 
Coming from a senior firefighter, this claim is significant enough. But it is even more so because Downey was no ordinary firefighter. Prior to 9/11, he had "commanded rescue operations at many difficult and complex disasters, including the Oklahoma City Bombing, the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, and many natural disasters worldwide."  As the chief of the FDNY Special Operations Command, he'd pioneered techniques for urban rescue and responding to terrorist attacks. "He was so respected, so beloved," according to CBS News, that "his men nicknamed him 'god.'" 
Of most importance is that one of Downey's areas of expertise was building collapses. 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer referred to Downey as a "very, very respected expert on building collapse."  Robert Ingram, a battalion chief in the New York Fire Department, has called him "the premiere collapse expert in the country."  And Fire Chief Mike Antonucci, who was a best friend of Downey's, said he "was probably the most knowledgeable person on building collapses there was. That was his [hobby], to study building collapses--what affected the engineering of buildings, how they [would] weaken and how he could respond and stay safe." 
And this 39-year veteran of the New York Fire Department, who was the most highly decorated firefighter in its history, initially believed the South Tower had come down due to explosives, because the collapse had been "too even." Unfortunately, Ray Downey is not with us today, as he was killed when the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m.
 World Trade Center Task Force Interview: Father John Delendick, City of New York, December 6, 2001.
 "Inaugural Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award to be Presented at FDIC 2002." Fire Engineering, 2002.
 "FDNY: The Next Generation." CBS News, September 11, 2006.
 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Eleventh Public Hearing, May 18, 2004.
 Robert Ingram, Testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. October 11, 2001.
 Liset Marquez, "Upland Firefighters and Families Affected by 9-11 Tragedy." Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, September 7, 2006.
Friday, 7 September 2007
A new entry in the Complete 9/11 Timeline reveals that, shortly before the World Trade Center was first hit on 9/11, Kirk Lippold--who had been the commanding officer of the USS Cole--made an ominous statement. While having breakfast at the CIA's headquarters, he reportedly complained that it would take a "seminal event" to awaken the American public to the threat posed by terrorism:
(8:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Navy Commander Describes Need for 'Seminal' Terrorist Event
At the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, three senior CIA officers—John Russack, Don Kerr, and Charlie Allen—are having breakfast with Navy Commander Kirk Lippold. Lippold was the commanding officer of the USS Cole when it was attacked in Yemen the previous year (see October 12, 2000). The men's discussion is focused on terrorism. Lippold is upset that the American public still does not recognize the threat it poses, and says that it will take a "seminal event" to awaken them to the problem. Following the breakfast, Lippold heads to the Counterterrorist Center at CIA headquarters for some briefings. Just minutes later, after the WTC is hit, Charlie Allen will contact Lippold and tell him, "The seminal event just happened." [Tenet, 2007, pp. 162-163]
Lippold's prescient comments are reminiscent of remarks made by some top U.S. government officials around the same time that morning. For example, just before the first attack occurred, CIA Director George Tenet was having breakfast at a Washington hotel with former Senator David Boren. Boren asked: "What are you worried about these days?" to which Tenet replied: "Bin Laden." According to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, Tenet told Boren he "was convinced that bin Laden was going to do something big." When Boren asked: "How could one private person without the resources of a foreign government be such a threat?" Tenet responded: "You don't understand the capabilities and the reach of what they're putting together." (Bob Woodward, Bush at War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002, pp. 1-3.)
And during an 8:00 a.m. breakfast meeting at the Pentagon, according to his own recollection, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warned that "without question, in the next six to eight months, those same people who [are] concerned about the Social Security lockbox [are] going to be wishing they were on the right side of these issues involving national security, because our history is just peppered with examples of surprises. And asymmetrical events, that who knows what they'll be or where they'll be or when they'll be." ("Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with the Washington Post." U.S. Department of Defense, January 9, 2002.)
As Rumsfeld continued: "And someone came in and said a plane had gone into the Trade Center."
Sunday, 2 September 2007
In A Few Days in September [Juliette Binoche] plays Irene, a tough-cookie French agent protecting an American colleague (Nick Nolte) from a CIA assassin (John Turturro). This, however, is the French arthouse version of an action movie. It is a fast-paced, violent, edge-of-your-seat thriller - but it also has lots of long silences and characters with bizarre quirks (Irene has a pet tortoise and Turturro's character phones his psychoanalyst between shoot-outs). It is the directorial debut of the Argentine-born screenwriter Santiago Amigorena, who also happens to be Binoche's partner. Reviews have compared it to Pulp Fiction and praised Binoche's performance as 'bad-ass but charmingly funny'.
... A Few Days in September is witty and clever, but there is a serious point behind it - with which Binoche is more than a little obsessed. She describes it as a dramatised version of the events depicted in Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. It alleges that various vested interests - including state security services around the world - knew what was about to happen on September 11, 2001.
While preparing for the role Binoche had long conversations with a secret agent, who consulted on the film and on whom she modelled her character. 'Of course he could not reveal everything to me, but he said a lot,' she says. 'Some things I forgot because it was just too much. Certain things I was very amazed by and when I told people close to me about them they just wouldn't believe it. Everything in there is true,' she adds, her eyes blazing with the fervour of a conspiracy theorist.
So is she saying the film is a dramatisation of real events? 'Absolutely,' she says. 'I went to see the Iranian ambassador at the time and he said of course it's true. Things that I thought were hidden and private… they were very open about it.' So she means the CIA and other agencies knew 9/11 was going to happen? 'Of course.' So is she saying it was an inside job? Or that al-Qa'eda was responsible? 'Everybody is responsible for it. If you only knew more, it's even more depressing.' She suddenly realises this is all getting a bit implausible and explodes into laughter. 'Humour is the only way we can deal with it.'