Sunday, 24 October 2021

Federal Aviation Administration Failures on 9/11: Why Did Those Responsible for Responding to the Hijackings Get It So Wrong?

The FAA's Command Center
The actions of personnel at the headquarters of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on September 11, 2001, were marked by failures that likely hindered the U.S. government's response to the hijackings that day and may consequently have increased the chances that the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon would succeed.

Well-established procedures were meant to be followed in the event of a hijacking in American airspace. FAA headquarters was required to promptly call the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon about the incident and, if necessary, request fighter jets to follow the hijacked aircraft.

On September 11, though, this never happened. FAA headquarters learned that a plane--American Airlines Flight 11--had been hijacked at around 8:32 a.m. but subsequently made no attempt to contact the military about the incident. The NMCC consequently only learned that a hijacking had occurred almost half an hour later, after Flight 11 crashed into the World Center and an officer there called FAA headquarters seeking more information about the crash.

Furthermore, the FAA headquarters employee who answered the call gave a wildly inaccurate description of the hijacking. He said the pilot of Flight 11 had reported that everything was under control and the plane was going to land soon in New York, even though the pilot never communicated with anyone on the ground after the plane was hijacked, the terrorists had been in control of the plane after they hijacked it, and the plane had already crashed and so was never going to land in New York. He also made no request for military assistance, even though such assistance was surely essential.

FAA headquarters personnel subsequently set up a teleconference to help manage the crisis. The "primary net" was intended to connect the FAA to other government agencies so information could be shared and the participating agencies could coordinate their actions. The primary net, however, turned out to be practically worthless. It only began at 9:20 a.m., at least 48 minutes after FAA headquarters learned about the hijacking of Flight 11, by which time two hijacked planes had already crashed into the World Trade Center.

Additionally, the NMCC was inexplicably either not included in the primary net or only in it briefly early on after it was established. And yet the facility was meant to be the "focal point" within the Department of Defense for providing assistance in response to a hijacking in U.S. airspace. One senior FAA official noted that during the dozens of hijackings he had previously responded to, the NMCC was "always on the net"--but not on September 11, it seems. What is more, little information was shared over the primary net and the teleconference "played no role in coordinating a response to the attacks," according to two of its participants.

Although the failures of FAA headquarters personnel may have had serious consequences, little effort has been made to properly investigate these failures and find out what caused them. A possibility worth considering is that FAA headquarters personnel were participating in a training exercise on the morning of September 11, which may have been based around a scenario with similarities to the 9/11 attacks, like one featuring a hijacking. If such an exercise was taking place, the concurrence of events could have caused headquarters personnel to mistake the real-world hijackings for part of the exercise or in other ways hindered their response to the attacks.

FAA personnel had in fact previously participated in numerous exercises that included simulated hijackings. Aviation security personnel at FAA headquarters had actually participated in two exercises earlier in 2001 based around hijackings. It would therefore have been a fairly typical event if an exercise featuring a simulated hijacking was set to take place at FAA headquarters on September 11.

If an exercise was being held when the 9/11 attacks began, we would need to consider whether this unhelpful situation was brought about intentionally so as to hinder the response of FAA headquarters personnel to the attacks. But al-Qaeda--the group that supposedly perpetrated the attacks--would have been unable to influence what scenarios featured in FAA exercises. We would therefore also need to contemplate the disturbing possibility that rogue individuals in the U.S. government, who could indeed have influenced what these exercises involved, played a role in planning the attacks.

FAA HAD A KEY ROLE DURING A HIJACKING
The FAA had an essential role when it came to responding to hijackings in United States airspace. The agency is responsible for regulating civil aviation and operating a system of air traffic control. [1] On September 11, many air traffic controllers worked at its 21 Air Route Traffic Control Centers across the U.S. These centers were grouped under regional offices and coordinated closely with the Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, which managed traffic flow within the entire airspace system. [2]

At FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, the civil aviation security division was responsible for dealing with "air piracy" and bringing a hijacking crisis to a safe resolution. [3] And the aviation command center (ACC), where FAA security personnel responded to a crisis, was responsible for directing the activities of law enforcement in response to a hijacking. [4]

The NMCC also had important responsibilities when a hijacking occurred. The facility comprises a labyrinth of rooms in the Pentagon basement, in the center portion of the building. It is a highly secure command and control complex equipped with sophisticated communications capabilities, which serves as the "nerve center" of the Pentagon. General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 11, described it as "a switchboard connecting the Pentagon, the civilian government, and the combatant commanders."

While its primary task is to monitor worldwide events for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the NMCC also has a crisis response component. It is where the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff would run the Pentagon during a major emergency that could last for a prolonged period of time. This presumably meant it had an essential role to play as the U.S. military responded to the 9/11 attacks. [5]

The protocol for responding to a hijacking, and the key roles of the FAA and the NMCC, were described in documents published between 1998 and 2001. The administrator of the FAA had "exclusive responsibility to direct law enforcement activity related to actual or attempted aircraft piracy (hijacking) in the 'special aircraft jurisdiction' of the United States," a military instruction from June 2001 stated. And if the FAA required fighter jets to follow a hijacked aircraft, the hijack coordinator at FAA headquarters was responsible for requesting them from the military, according to an FAA order from November 1998.

The NMCC, meanwhile, was "the focal point within [the] Department of Defense for providing assistance." In the event of a hijacking, it was meant to be notified "by the most expeditious means" by the FAA. Furthermore, the FAA, the NMCC, and the deputy director for operations in the NMCC were required to "maintain coordination during the aircraft piracy situation." [6]

FAA HEADQUARTERS DID NOT CALL THE NMCC ABOUT THE FIRST HIJACKING
On September 11, however, FAA headquarters failed to contact the NMCC about the hijacking of Flight 11 after it learned of the incident and so the NMCC only heard that a hijacking had occurred later on, when an officer there called FAA headquarters as he tried to gather information about the crash at the World Trade Center.

American Airlines Flight 11 was the first of four commercial aircraft to be hijacked that day. The Boeing 767 took off from Logan International Airport in Boston at 7:59 a.m., bound for Los Angeles. The 9/11 Commission--the panel created by Congress and the president in 2002 to investigate the 9/11 attacks--concluded that it was likely hijacked by five Middle Eastern terrorists 15 minutes into its flight, at around 8:14 a.m. Just over half an hour later, at 8:46 a.m., Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. Everyone on the plane and many people in the tower were killed.

The first indication air traffic controllers had of a problem with Flight 11 was at 8:14 a.m., when the pilot failed to respond to an instruction from a controller at the FAA's Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center. All subsequent attempts to communicate with the flight were unsuccessful. Boston Center controllers concluded that the plane had been hijacked at 8:25 a.m. after hearing a couple of suspicious radio transmissions, apparently made by a hijacker, from the plane.

Managers at the center then started alerting their chain of command. At 8:28 a.m., they contacted the FAA's Command Center in Herndon and said they believed Flight 11 had been hijacked. In response, at 8:32 a.m., the Command Center contacted FAA headquarters and told the duty officer there about the hijacking. [7]

FAA headquarters was in fact already aware of the hijacking by that time, apparently because it had just been alerted to the incident by the FAA's New England Regional Operations Center (ROC). The ROC was contacted by the Boston Center at 8:30 a.m. and informed of the hijacking, and appears to have passed on the news to FAA headquarters right away. Therefore, when the Command Center called FAA headquarters at 8:32 a.m., the duty officer there said that "security personnel at headquarters had just begun discussing the apparent hijack on a conference call with the New England regional office," according to the 9/11 Commission Report. [8]

And yet no one at FAA headquarters subsequently contacted the NMCC about the hijacking. "FAA headquarters began to follow the hijack protocol but did not contact the NMCC to request a fighter escort," the 9/11 Commission Report noted. [9] Consequently, NMCC personnel only learned that this was something other than a normal day at the same time and in the same way as members of the public did, when they saw television networks reporting the crash at the World Trade Center in the minutes after it occurred. [10]

"We monitor the television networks in the center," Steve Hahn, an operations officer in the NMCC, described. "And along with the rest of America we saw the smoke pouring from the tower," he added. With no knowledge that a group of terrorists had recently hijacked an aircraft, however, it apparently never occurred to NMCC staffers that the crash was a terrorist attack. "At first, we thought it was a terrible accident," Dan Mangino, another operations officer, recalled. [11]

The NMCC only learned a plane had been hijacked at least 28 minutes after FAA headquarters was alerted to the incident, when Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Gonsalves, the senior operations officer there, called FAA headquarters, and the person he spoke to mentioned that Flight 11 had been hijacked and gave some details of what had happened. However, the poor response of FAA headquarters to the hijacking continued, as the person gave Gonsalves wildly inaccurate information about it.

FAA HEADQUARTERS EMPLOYEE GAVE INCORRECT DETAILS OF THE HIJACKING
Gonsalves had set about gathering information about the crash at the World Trade Center after NMCC personnel saw coverage of it on television and consequently, at 9:00 a.m., called FAA headquarters. [12] The person he spoke to briefed him on the "explosion" at the World Trade Center, which they said was "possibly" caused by an aircraft crash. They also mentioned the hijacking of Flight 11, which they said was a flight from Boston to Los Angeles. They apparently made no connection between the hijacking and the crash in New York, and never suggested to Gonsalves that the plane that hit the World Trade Center might have been Flight 11.

They also gave Gonsalves some incorrect details of the hijacked flight. They said it was still airborne, the pilot was still in control, and the plane was "now en route" to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. [13] The pilot "had called in and said everything was under control, and he was going to land at New York shortly," Captain Charles Leidig, the acting deputy director for operations in the NMCC on September 11, has explained. [14] In fact, according to the official narrative of 9/11, the terrorists took over the controls of Flight 11 from the original pilots when they hijacked the plane and Flight 11 was never en route to JFK International Airport. And rather than everything being under control, the plane had crashed about a quarter of an hour earlier. [15]

Furthermore, the person at FAA headquarters made no request for military help in dealing with the hijacking. Gonsalves told the 9/11 Commission that he didn't "recall that anyone asked for assistance." [16] Lieutenant Colonel John Sims, who was with Gonsalves at the time and listened to the call with FAA headquarters, corroborated this. When he was asked by the 9/11 Commission, "Did [the] FAA ask for assistance [from the] NMCC" regarding "scrambling fighters"? he replied, "There was none of that in the initial call." [17]

Gonsalves should have perhaps asked the caller if the FAA required military assistance. However, he made no such inquiry. "That isn't something he would do," he told the 9/11 Commission. [18] The scrambling of fighters to follow the hijacked aircraft "was not discussed" during the call, the 9/11 Commission Report noted. [19]

FAA TELECONFERENCE 'PLAYED NO ROLE IN COORDINATING A RESPONSE TO THE ATTACKS'
Other problems with the FAA headquarters response to the hijackings surround a teleconference headquarters personnel established called the "primary net." A primary net would be set up by the FAA to bring other federal agencies into the loop in an emergency and assemble decision makers to allow for coordinated action. It would be run from the ACC within the operations center on the 10th floor of the FAA headquarters building. [20] It was meant to be "the fundamental primary source of information" between participating agencies, according to Monte Belger, the acting FAA deputy administrator when the 9/11 attacks occurred, and would allow these agencies to "talk strategically." [21]

Before the primary net was set up on September 11, FAA headquarters established another important teleconference. It activated the "tactical net," an internal teleconference between various FAA facilities, at 8:50 a.m. and this had been run from the ACC since then. [22] A tactical net was intended to bring FAA personnel "up to speed" before they contacted other agencies. [23]

The primary net was activated by security personnel at FAA headquarters half an hour later, at about 9:20 a.m. [24] Michael Weikert, a crisis management specialist, instructed Sharon Battle, an operations officer, to activate the teleconference. [25] Using a checklist of agencies that were meant to be included, operations center personnel then added appropriate parties to the primary net. [26] The process involved using a PC-based conferencing system to speed dial the participating agencies. [27]

Key government agencies were brought into the teleconference. The FBI was added to it at 9:21 a.m.; the Secret Service at 9:22 a.m.; the Department of Justice at 9:23 a.m.; the CIA at 9:25 a.m.; the Defense Intelligence Agency at 9:27 a.m.; the State Department at 9:28 a.m.; and the White House at 9:29 a.m. Regional FAA division managers also participated. [28] Weikert ran the teleconference and when a new person joined it, he would announce who he was, identify the primary net, and then give updates. [29]

And yet the primary net turned out to be of little benefit. Major Charles Chambers, who represented the NMCC on the teleconference, recalled that either "nothing was being said" or "nothing of substance" was said over it. Communications were "intermittent" and there was "a lot of dead air," he commented. [30] Weikert said that while he gave out information, he received little back and so there was "not much traffic." [31] Both men said they believed the primary net "played no role in coordinating a response to the attacks," according to the 9/11 Commission Report. [32]

NMCC WAS POSSIBLY INITIALLY ABSENT FROM THE FAA TELECONFERENCE
Furthermore, the NMCC was, according to several accounts, either absent from the primary net or only on it briefly early on after it was activated. On the one hand, a couple of chronologies compiled by the FAA stated that the NMCC, or specifically Charles Chambers at the NMCC, was included in the primary net from the time it began, being added to it at 9:20 a.m. [33] And FAA headquarters employee Sharon Battle told the 9/11 Commission, "She remembers adding the NMCC to the primary net." [34]

But a report produced by the NMCC stated that the FAA "did not bring [the] NMCC into their hijack conference" as it responded to the hijacking of Flight 11. [35] This contention was supported by Lee Longmire, the FAA's director of civil aviation security operations on September 11, who said that while the NMCC should have been on the primary net from the outset, he "learned that this didn't occur" and "wasn't sure when the situation was rectified." [36] The NMCC was "absent for some undetermined length of time," he recalled. [37]

And, notably, Michael Weikert--the man who ran the primary net--said he was unable to recall the NMCC joining the teleconference or anyone from the military speaking to identify themselves. He said he remembered the military participating only "for a short period of time" before the attack on the Pentagon, which took place just before 9:38 a.m. He recalled FAA headquarters personnel "trying to raise" the NMCC "when we were tracking the plane that crashed [into] the Pentagon." And he said he was unable to recall "what was finally done to locate the military when it was learned no one in the ACC had [the NMCC] on the line." [38]

Monte Belger, meanwhile, said he became aware at some point that the NMCC was not included "in any meaningful way" in the primary net. "The most frustrating after-the-fact scenario for me to understand is to explain ... the communication link on that morning between the FAA operations center and the NMCC," he commented. He was very unhappy when he learned about the absence of the NMCC from the teleconference and uttered what has been described as "some rather colorful language" as he expressed his annoyance. "I know how it's supposed to work, but ... it's still a little frustrating for me to understand how it actually did work on that day," he remarked. [39]

Even after the primary net had been running for some time and the NMCC was presumably properly connected to it, the military command center was only involved in a limited way. Chambers estimated that he spent just 25 percent of his time listening to the teleconference. The primary net was only monitored periodically because there were a limited number of personnel available in the NMCC, he explained, and these people had a lot of tasks demanding their attention. [40]

SOME FAA PERSONNEL MAY HAVE BEEN UNAWARE OF THE HIJACKING
We surely need to determine why there was such poor communication between FAA headquarters and the NMCC on September 11, considering the key roles of the two facilities when a hijacking occurred. It was the job of aviation security personnel at FAA headquarters to deal with aircraft hijackings and bring them to a safe resolution. [41] And the NMCC was meant to be "the focal point within [the] Department of Defense for providing assistance" in response to hijackings in U.S. airspace. [42] The poor communication between the facilities might therefore have seriously hampered the U.S. government's response to the 9/11 attacks.

Numerous questions need to be addressed. To begin with, was there a lack of communication within FAA headquarters about what was happening on the morning of September 11, which hindered the ability of personnel there to respond to the crisis? The recollections of Lee Longmire and Michael Weikert suggest this could have been the case.

Longmire, who arrived at the ACC before 8:46 a.m., when Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center, recalled that even by 9:03 a.m., when a second hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center, he had not heard the word "hijack" mentioned in the ACC and he did not hear anyone in the ACC discuss seeking military assistance around that time. [43] Weikert similarly recalled that when he arrived at the ACC, apparently shortly after 8:50 a.m., when it was activated, no one in the facility was talking about getting military help. [44]

Were people in the ACC unaware that a plane had been hijacked? If so, why was this? Surely headquarters personnel needed to know about the hijacking and should have been openly discussing it. And could a failure to share the news of the hijacking of Flight 11 be one reason why no one at FAA headquarters contacted the NMCC about the incident?

A further question is when Ryan Gonsalves called FAA headquarters from the NMCC and was told about the hijacking, why did the person he spoke to make no request for military assistance? Although Flight 11 had already crashed by the time the call was made, the person Gonsalves spoke to seemed to believe it was still airborne and there had been numerous problems with the flight that surely meant military assistance was essential.

Radio contact with Flight 11 was lost at around 8:14 a.m. Then, at 8:21 a.m., the plane's transponder--which sends an aircraft's identifying information, speed, and altitude to air traffic controllers' radar screens--was turned off. The 9/11 Commission Report noted that "the simultaneous loss of radio and transponder signal would be a rare and alarming occurrence, and would normally indicate a catastrophic system failure or an aircraft crash." The severity of the crisis presumably became even clearer at around 8:26 a.m., when Flight 11 veered drastically off course as it began a sharp turn to the south. [45] And yet the FAA employee Gonsalves spoke to apparently thought it was unnecessary to request that fighter jets be launched to help deal with the situation.

FAA TELECONFERENCE WAS SLOW TO BE ACTIVATED
Another crucial question is why did it take the FAA so long to establish the primary net that would enable it to share information and coordinate its actions with other government agencies? The primary net was only activated at 9:20 a.m. according to one FAA chronology. Since it was titled "Operations Center Activity Report," this document was presumably put together by personnel from the operations center at FAA headquarters who would surely have been well placed to accurately determine when the teleconference began. [46]

From the beginning of the crisis on September 11, a fast response was essential. But if the Operations Center Activity Report is correct, by the time the primary net was activated, at least 48 minutes had passed since FAA headquarters was alerted to the hijacking of Flight 11 and around half an hour had passed since personnel there likely noticed the first crash at the World Trade Center being reported on television.

The time it took FAA headquarters to establish communication with the other agencies that were included in the primary net was in fact even longer than the 9:20 a.m. time implies, since, as Michael Weikert noted, it "took some time for other parties to get on the line." [47] Sharon Battle estimated that it took up to 10 minutes to set up the call. [48] According to the Operations Center Activity Report, it took until 9:29 a.m. for the participating agencies to be added to the teleconference. [49]

One claim about the primary net, if correct, is particularly concerning, this being the suggestion that the teleconference was requested around 30 minutes before it was activated. FAA civil aviation security operations representatives requested that "the primary communication net be established" at 8:50 a.m., an FAA timeline published six days after the attacks stated. [50] Consistent with this document, Weikert recalled instructing Sharon Battle to "open up the nets and fire up the [aviation] command center." [51] He was apparently implying that he asked for the ACC to be activated at the same time as he asked for the primary net to be activated. Since the ACC was activated at 8:50 a.m., this suggests that he asked for the primary net to be activated at 8:50 a.m. [52] And Robert McLaughlin recalled that when he went to the ACC at "around 8:55 a.m. or 9:00 a.m.," the primary net "was in the process of being activated." [53] If the primary net was requested at 8:50 a.m., then, what happened in the following 30 minutes to delay its activation?

NMCC WAS INITIALLY MISSING FROM THE PRIMARY NET
A further question regarding the primary net is why was the NMCC initially absent from the teleconference or only in it briefly? The NMCC should surely have been fully involved from the outset in light of its crucial role in responding to hijackings. Indeed, this is what some senior FAA personnel have said they expected to happen.

The NMCC was "supposed to be monitoring the [primary] net as a protocol," Weikert commented. [54] "The primary net should have included the NMCC," Jeff Griffith, the deputy director of air traffic, similarly stated. [55] Lee Longmire explained that the NMCC was meant to be "automatically included in that net." [56] It was "standard procedure to pull the military into the communications link as soon as possible so they could monitor the [hijacked] aircraft," he said. [57] The NMCC was then meant to stay in the background, monitoring the teleconference and providing information if requested, he explained. [58] And yet Weikert recalled the NMCC only being on the primary net "for a short period of time" before the Pentagon was hit, at around 9:38 a.m. [59]

The absence of the NMCC from the primary net was unprecedented. The facility was "always included in the communication net that was used to manage a hijack incident," according to Monte Belger. [60] Belger said that in 30 years working for the FAA, he had responded to "dozens of hijackings" before 9/11 and during every one of these incidents, the NMCC was "always there." "They were always on the net and were always listening in with everybody else," he recalled. [61] What happened on September 11, then, such that this wasn't the case that day?

A final question regarding the primary net is why did the NMCC treat this potentially invaluable resource with indifference? The primary net was meant to be "the fundamental primary source of information" between participating agencies, according to Belger. And yet it was regarded as being of only minor importance by NMCC personnel on September 11. It was "not viewed as urgent," Chambers commented. [62]

HIJACKING OF FLIGHT 11 COULD HAVE BEEN MISTAKEN FOR AN EXERCISE SIMULATION
When we try to determine what caused the lack of communication between FAA headquarters and the NMCC on September 11, a couple of factors worth considering are training exercises that had taken place before that day, which included simulated hijackings, and the possibility that the FAA and NMCC were involved in exercises on the morning of September 11 featuring scenarios that had similarities to the real-world attacks.

If FAA headquarters and NMCC personnel were taking part in exercises when the 9/11 attacks occurred based around scenarios resembling the real-world crisis, they could have mistaken real events for simulations in the exercises. Alternatively, they may have mistakenly thought real events were part of an exercise because these events resembled scenarios featured in exercises they had participated in on previous dates. If either of these situations was the case, this may have caused them to fail to respond to the real-world hijackings, respond to the hijackings inappropriately, or respond without the urgency that was required.

For example, if FAA headquarters personnel thought the reported hijacking of Flight 11 was part of an exercise, this might be one reason why it took them until 9:20 a.m. to set up the primary net. They would presumably have been unaware of the potentially catastrophic consequences of their inaction and would have felt little urgency to set up a teleconference with other agencies to deal with a hijacking that they thought was only a simulation.

Perhaps they were participating in an exercise that featured a simulated hijacking, but military assistance was unnecessary. If this was the case, it could help explain why no one called the NMCC after FAA headquarters was alerted to the hijacking of Flight 11.

FAA RAN EXERCISES BASED AROUND SIMULATED HIJACKINGS
FAA personnel certainly participated in numerous exercises before September 11 that included simulated hijackings. The FAA held various tabletop exercises in the years before 9/11 and its civil aviation security office may have exercised hijacks, Monte Belger told the 9/11 Commission. Additionally, "multi-agency exercises"--which the FAA presumably participated in--"addressed hijacks," he said. [63] Michael Weikert recalled that he had "worked a hijacking in training" before 9/11. [64]

One large exercise held by the FAA in 1995, called Twin Star, was based around the scenario of terrorists hijacking a plane bound from Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, to Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada. It involved a real commercial airliner playing the part of the hijacked plane and a fighter jet shadowing the aircraft. FAA headquarters personnel tested their teleconference bridge and use of the ACC. They also tested their ability to communicate with other FAA facilities and regional units. The "entire FAA system" was involved and the NMCC also participated, along with the FBI, the U.S. Air Force, the State Department, and airline industry personnel.

Although this exercise took place quite a long time before 9/11, similar exercises may have been held on subsequent occasions. Mae Avery, manager of the operations center at FAA headquarters on September 11, said she believed there were "a number of exercises of this type" before 9/11. [65]

An exercise was held by the FAA in December 2000 in which scenarios that were "pretty damn close to [the] 9/11 plot" were practiced. One scenario "may have had something to do with a chartered flight out of Ohio that had turned the transponder off," John Hawley, who worked for the FAA's intelligence division, recalled. [66] (This aspect of the scenario resembled the events of September 11 in that the transponder was turned off on three of the four hijacked planes that day. [67])

Exercises featuring hijack scenarios were held in the months preceding 9/11. The FAA civil aviation security operations division ran two "crisis exercises" early in 2001 based around hijackings, Robert McLaughlin recalled. These involved "traditional" hijacking scenarios that did not include suicide attacks. [68]

In the summer of 2001, the FAA held a hijack exercise as part of its efforts to update the "Common Strategy"--the doctrine and training materials it developed on how to deal with hijackings. The exercise made use of a Boeing 767--the type of aircraft that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11. Along with the FAA, participants included the FBI's Miami, Florida, field office, Miami-Dade County Police Department, a SWAT team, and Varig Airlines. [69]

Although no evidence has so far come to light showing FAA headquarters personnel were involved in a training exercise on September 11, it is worth noting that numerous government agencies and facilities, and also military organizations, were conducting or preparing for exercises that day. [70] It appears like different exercises may have been coordinated to occur at the same time. If this was the case, it is surely possible that the FAA planned to hold an exercise on September 11 too, so its exercise would be taking place at the same time as these other agencies held theirs.

MILITARY EXERCISE THAT INCLUDED A SIMULATED HIJACKING WAS TAKING PLACE ON SEPTEMBER 11
It is also worth noting that on the morning of September 11, at least one exercise was taking place that was set to include a simulated hijacking. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)--the military organization responsible for monitoring and defending U.S. airspace--was at the time several days into a major annual exercise called Vigilant Guardian. This exercise, described as a "simulated air war" and "an air defense exercise simulating an attack on the United States," was set to include "a range of scenarios" on September 11. Among them was a "traditional" hijacking "in which politically motivated perpetrators commandeer an aircraft, land on a Cuba-like island, and seek asylum," Vanity Fair reported. [71]

It is unclear if FAA personnel played any role in the exercise. While the FAA featured in scenarios in Vigilant Guardian exercises before September 11, apparently no FAA personnel usually took part and instead military personnel played a simulated version of the agency. A document that described Vigilant Guardian scenarios run in the days just before 9/11 specified, "Execution of these scenarios did not involve any agencies outside of the NORAD chain." [72] And documents that describe scenarios included in the Vigilant Guardian exercises held in September 2001 and October 2000 refer to a "simulated FAA" or a "sim FAA." [73]

Vigilant Guardian is curious, though, because before September 11 it had featured simulated hijackings with similarities to the hijacking described to Ryan Gonsalves when he called FAA headquarters to inquire about the plane crash at the World Trade Center. Most notable among these was a scenario run on October 20, 2000, in which a Boeing 747 bound from London, England, to Cairo, Egypt, was hijacked shortly after takeoff by religious fanatics. The hijackers demanded to be flown to New York. The FAA contacted the NMCC and requested a hijack conference, which the NMCC then convened. Fighter jets were tasked with providing "covert surveillance" of the hijacked aircraft, which eventually landed without incident at JFK International Airport in New York. [74]

The hijacking described to Gonsalves by the person he spoke to at FAA headquarters was certainly more like the one in this exercise scenario than to the actual hijacking that had occurred. It was a "traditional" hijacking in which the pilot was still in control of the plane and it involved the hijacked plane heading for JFK International Airport. [75]

This suggests that the person at FAA headquarters may have been describing to Gonsalves a mock hijacking in a training exercise that FAA personnel were participating in, rather than the actual hijacking of Flight 11. Maybe the FAA held exercises that were coordinated with NORAD exercises and consequently featured the same, or similar, scenarios. The person at FAA headquarters might have thought the call from Gonsalves, requesting information about a plane that had crashed into the World Trade Center, was part of the exercise and so he responded by providing details of the simulated hijacking.

NORAD EXERCISE PREVIOUSLY FEATURED SIMULATED HIJACKINGS
Additional scenarios in Vigilant Guardian exercises featured a simulated FAA, simulated hijackings, and other similarities to the events of September 11. On October 21, 2000, a scenario involved a group of Native American protesters hijacking a Boeing 737 bound from SeaTac, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska. The FAA convened a "hijack conference" in response and requested assistance from the military, including military aircraft to follow the hijacked aircraft. It contacted the NMCC which initiated a multi-agency teleconference. The hijacked aircraft eventually landed safely in Juneau and the hijackers were arrested.

And the 2001 Vigilant Guardian exercise included scenarios in the days before 9/11 that were based around hijackings. On September 6, a scenario featured a terrorist group hijacking a Boeing 747 bound from Tokyo, Japan, to Anchorage, Alaska, and threatening to "rain terror from the skies onto a major U.S. city." The FAA was involved in directing military aircraft to shadow the hijacked plane.

Then on September 10, a scenario was based around a group of Cubans hijacking a plane bound from Havana, Cuba, to Shannon, Ireland. It involved the hijackers, who were seeking political asylum, demanding to be taken to JFK International Airport--similar to the hijacking described to Gonsalves the following day, in which the hijacked plane was going to land at JFK International Airport. The FAA requested assistance from NORAD. Eventually, the plane landed safely at Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia and the hijackers were apprehended. [76]

FAA headquarters personnel may have been aware of these NORAD exercises and the scenarios featured in them or could have trained for similar scenarios in their own exercises. If this was the case and--like some other government agencies--the FAA was running an exercise on September 11, they may have mistakenly thought the hijacking of Flight 11 was part of an exercise when they heard about it, since it resembled scenarios they had previously encountered in exercises. If so, the error could be one reason for their inadequate response to the real-world crisis.

NMCC WAS LIKELY PARTICIPATING IN AN EXERCISE ON SEPTEMBER 11
NMCC personnel, too, may have been taking part in a training exercise on September 11, which could have caused confusion and hindered their response to the real-world crisis. Evidence suggests they might have been participating in a major exercise called Global Guardian. This annual exercise sponsored by the U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom)--the military command responsible for the day-to-day readiness of America's nuclear forces--had been underway in the days preceding 9/11 and was still taking place on the morning of September 11.

Global Guardian was intended to test Stratcom's ability to fight a nuclear war and in 2001 featured the scenario of a fictitious Northeast Asian nation attacking the United States with nuclear weapons. It was held in cooperation with NORAD and linked with NORAD's Vigilant Guardian exercise. [77]

The NMCC was certainly involved in Global Guardian on the day before 9/11 since on that day it issued a "Global Guardian exercise message" stating that the U.S. president had been briefed on the Single Integrated Operational Plan--the United States' general plan for nuclear war. [78] If NMCC personnel were involved in Global Guardian on September 10, it seems plausible that they were participating in the exercise on the morning of September 11.

They may also have been participating in Vigilant Guardian on September 11, since the NMCC had previously featured in scenarios in the NORAD exercise. Some Vigilant Guardian scenarios prior to 9/11 included a "sim NMCC," presumably manned by non-NMCC personnel. However, on at least one occasion actual NMCC personnel took part. The script for a simulated "hijack conference" held on October 20, 2000, mentioned that the "actual NMCC will participate." [79]

Additional evidence indicates that NMCC personnel were participating in an exercise at the time of the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 Commission was told that the emergency action cell in the NMCC "was monitoring all ongoing exercises in the U.S." on the morning of September 11. [80] And Lieutenant Colonel John Brunderman recalled that he was in the emergency action cell, "working on [a] play sheet for [the] exercise," when the attacks began. [81]

If NMCC personnel were taking part in an exercise on the morning of September 11, they may have mistaken real-world events for part of the exercise and the error could have impaired their response to the terrorist attacks. If, for example, they thought the primary net was a simulated hijack conference, like the one they participated in during Vigilant Guardian on October 20, 2000, this could be why they treated it with indifference. Even though the teleconference was meant to be a crucial source of information for its participants, the primary net on September 11 was "not viewed as urgent" by NMCC personnel and participation in it was "not viewed" as being a task "of utmost importance," Charles Chambers noted. [82]

FAA CRISIS MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST WAS THE 'MASTERMIND OF THE SYSTEM'
In addition to examining the possible role of training exercises, it is worth scrutinizing the actions of a number of senior officials when we try to determine why FAA headquarters personnel responded so poorly to the 9/11 attacks. Three officials who likely had a significant influence over what happened at FAA headquarters on September 11 were Michael Weikert, Lee Longmire, and Pete Falcone. Did any of these men act in ways that prevented an effective response to the crisis? Or did things happen that stopped them from carrying out their duties?

Weikert, who was the duty officer in the FAA operations watch on September 11, appears to have been a particularly important figure. He likely had much influence over the primary net. He reportedly instructed Sharon Battle to activate the teleconference and then managed it throughout the day. [83] Apparently referring to Weikert's role in the primary net, Falcone called him the "mastermind of the system." [84]

Was Weikert therefore in any way responsible for it taking so long to set up the primary net? And was he in any way responsible for the teleconference being so ineffective that it "played no role in coordinating a response to the attacks"?

Longmire claimed that "part of the problem" with the FAA's response to the crisis was that "whoever was on [the] primary net, they were using headphones [and] wouldn't have known what was going on on the tactical net." [85] Presumably he was either referring to Weikert or to a number of people in the ACC, including Weikert, who were participating in the primary net.

If Longmire's allegation is correct, this gives rise to several questions. As the man running the primary net, should Weikert have been monitoring the tactical net so he could pass on any important information shared over it to the agencies on the primary net? Was it normal for the person running the primary net to wear headphones, such that they were unable to hear what was said on the tactical net? And if Weikert was failing to pick up information shared between FAA facilities on the tactical net, was this one reason why "nothing of substance" was said over the primary net, as Charles Chambers claimed?

Weikert also played a key role in training exercises at FAA headquarters. He "ran exercises for security" personnel there, according to Daniel Noel, manager of the emergency operations staff. [86] He "ran a lot of these exercises" at the FAA, John Hawley similarly commented. [87]

Therefore, if FAA headquarters personnel were participating in an exercise on September 11, was Weikert running it? And was he involved in designing the scenarios included in FAA exercises on earlier dates that had similarities to the 9/11 attacks and may consequently have led FAA headquarters personnel to mistake the hijackings on September 11 for simulations?

Additionally, Weikert may have affected the ability of FAA headquarters personnel to respond to the 9/11 attacks through his key role in designing the ACC, where FAA security personnel went to respond to the crisis and from where the primary net was run on September 11.

The ACC had apparently undergone some kind of upgrade shortly before September 11 and Weikert was "the lead for designing the facility," according to Longmire. [88] For example, there had previously been no computers in the ACC. [89] But, Weikert explained, "event recorders" had been "computerized" using "a software product designed in-house" that was "capable of tracking multiple events." [90]

The possibility that the recent changes to the ACC impaired the ability of FAA headquarters personnel to respond to the 9/11 attacks is surely worth looking into. Investigators could consider issues such as whether the changes were a factor behind the apparently poor connection between the ACC and the NMCC on the primary net.

FAA DIRECTOR WAS THE 'HIJACK COORDINATOR' ON SEPTEMBER 11
Longmire was another important figure. As the director of civil aviation security operations, he was responsible for coordinating the FAA's response to a hijacking. He was reportedly the "hijack coordinator" at FAA headquarters on September 11. He was also responsible for running the ACC in a crisis. [91]

As the hijack coordinator, Longmire had important duties. It was his job to request "an escort aircraft for a confirmed hijacked aircraft" if needed, according to FAA protocol. He was required to do this "by direct contact with the NMCC." [92]

Was he therefore in any way responsible for the failure of FAA headquarters to contact the NMCC to request that fighter jets be launched in response to the hijacking of Flight 11? Was he also in any way responsible for the FAA employee who told Ryan Gonsalves about the hijacking of Flight 11 making no request for military assistance when Gonsalves called FAA headquarters?

Falcone, meanwhile, was a manager in the civil aviation security operations division and ran the tactical net--the "internal" teleconference between various FAA facilities--on September 11. His duties presumably meant he could have had less influence than Weikert and Longmire potentially had on the failures of FAA headquarters in its response to the hijackings. All the same, it appears he may still have contributed toward them.

He "had the experience to make sure that [the] NMCC was on the net," Longmire claimed, presumably referring to the primary net. Was he therefore in any way responsible for the NMCC being absent early on during the teleconference? Curiously, he recalled that he "tried to reach [the] NMCC" but "couldn't reach them" and this "was surprising to him." [93] He surely needs to provide further details of this problem.

Falcone also "should have been taking the information from the tactical net" and passing it on to "the folks on the primary net," Monte Belger said. This was "his job as coordinator" of the tactical net, Belger added. [94] Did he do this on September 11? If not, was he therefore in any way responsible for either "nothing ... being said" or "nothing of substance" being said over the primary net?

HIJACKING PROTOCOLS WERE WELL ESTABLISHED
Since FAA headquarters had key responsibilities when a hijacking occurred in U.S. airspace, the way its employees responded to the hijackings on September 11 could have had a significant impact on the ability of the U.S. government and military to protect the nation that day. It is therefore of serious concern that these employees either failed to take necessary action or were alarmingly slow to respond.

It would be difficult to argue that the poor response of FAA headquarters personnel to the 9/11 attacks was due to a lack of awareness of the protocol for dealing with a hijacking, since the procedures that should have been followed on September 11 had been in place since the late 1990s, if not before then, and so were presumably well known. Indeed, Monte Belger commented that at the time of the attacks, "interagency response protocols were well established" and it was clear when the FAA should seek the assistance of other agencies to help deal with a hijacking. [95]

The FAA order that dealt with requesting military assistance in response to a hijacking had been effective for close to three years, since November 1998. [96] And while the military instruction that outlined how hijackings should be responded to was published just three months before 9/11, the previous version of the instruction that was published in July 1997--over four years before 9/11--was almost identical to it. This too stated that the administrator of the FAA was responsible for directing law enforcement activity in response to a hijacking; that the NMCC was the "focal point" within the Department of Defense for providing military assistance and should be "notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA" in the event of a hijacking; and that the FAA, the NMCC, and the deputy director for operations were required to "maintain coordination" until the hijacking situation was resolved. [97]

It would also be difficult to argue that the poor response of FAA headquarters personnel to the 9/11 attacks was due to incompetence, because these individuals had on numerous occasions practiced what to do in the event of a hijacking in training exercises. The civil aviation security operations division had even run two hijacking exercises earlier in 2001 and so, Robert McLaughlin noted, "everyone knew what to do." [98]

Why then did no one contact the NMCC about the hijacking of Flight 11 after FAA headquarters was notified of it? And since the NMCC only learned of the hijacking when one of its officers, Ryan Gonsalves, took the initiative to call FAA headquarters, what would have happened if that call wasn't made? Would someone at FAA headquarters have even contacted the NMCC about the hijacking?

Furthermore, why did the person at FAA headquarters who Gonsalves spoke to provide inaccurate and misleading information about the hijacked flight? Why was there no discussion of scrambling fighter jets between the two men? And who was the person at FAA headquarters who took Gonsalves's call? All Gonsalves has said on the issue is that he called the duty officer at FAA headquarters but "got patched into another office in [the] FAA." [99]

AGENCIES SHARED LITTLE INFORMATION OVER THE FAA TELECONFERENCE
It is also concerning that FAA headquarters took so long to establish the primary net and, after it did, the participants failed to share information over it. The teleconference could have played an invaluable role in the government's response to the attacks. It was intended to enable "decision makers" to take coordinated action, according to Robert McLaughlin, and "talk strategically," according to Monte Belger--surely important objectives under the unprecedented circumstances. [100] And yet, as the 9/11 Commission Report noted, it "played no role in coordinating a response to the attacks." [101]

Since some key agencies participated, including the White House, the Secret Service, the State Department, the CIA, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, a lot of important information could presumably have been shared, thereby enhancing the ability of the government to respond effectively to the crisis. And yet it appears that participants failed to pass on what their agencies knew. Michael Weikert recalled that he was "not receiving much information" over the teleconference. [102]

Who, then, were the people on the primary net? And why did they waste this opportunity to share what their agencies knew about the attacks?

WERE FAA PERSONNEL TAKING PART IN AN EXERCISE ON SEPTEMBER 11?
It is surely important to know if FAA headquarters personnel were participating in a training exercise on September 11. It would also be helpful to know if NMCC personnel were participating in an exercise, such as the Stratcom exercise Global Guardian, when the attacks occurred, as some evidence suggests.

If exercises involving FAA headquarters and the NMCC were taking place, we need to know more about them. Did they include scenarios, like hijackings or plane crashes, such that they resembled the real-world attacks? Did NMCC and FAA headquarters personnel mistakenly think real-world events were part of the exercises, and, if so, did this have a negative effect on how they responded to the attacks? And how long did it take before they realized the crisis was real, rather than part of an exercise?

Also, if exercises were being conducted at FAA headquarters and the NMCC, who was in charge of running them? At FAA headquarters, was it Michael Weikert, since he "ran a lot of these exercises" at the FAA, according to John Hawley? [103] Or was it Daniel Noel, who told the 9/11 Commission that he was responsible for "national disaster exercises"? [104]

And who designed the exercises? At FAA headquarters, was it Monte Belger? Mae Avery told the 9/11 Commission she believed the "deputy administrator staff" was responsible for developing FAA hijacking exercises, and Belger was the acting deputy administrator of the FAA in 2001. [105] (It is unclear, however, whether Avery was referring to the deputy administrator or to the deputy administrator's staff.)

WERE EXERCISES DESIGNED TO FACILITATE THE ATTACKS?
Importantly, if exercises were taking place that featured scenarios resembling aspects of the real-world attacks, was this a coincidence or was there something more sinister to it? Might exercise scenarios have been designed intentionally to resemble the 9/11 attacks by people who knew in advance what the attacks would involve? The goal of these people could have been to create confusion over what was real and what was simulated on September 11, thereby preventing honest and dedicated personnel from effectively responding to the attacks.

Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group blamed for 9/11, would have lacked the ability to influence what FAA and NMCC training exercises involved. If this was the case, then, it would suggest that the attacks were planned and perpetrated by a group other than al-Qaeda, one that likely included rogue individuals in the U.S. government and military. The attacks, however, must have been carefully designed to appear like they were perpetrated by al-Qaeda.

Too little attention has been paid to the numerous oddities and failures regarding the response of FAA headquarters to the crisis on September 11, despite the key role its personnel had in responding to hijackings. But what happened that day was the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil. These oddities and failures therefore need to be properly investigated, to determine exactly what occurred and uncover who was behind it.

NOTES
[1] Federal Aviation Administration: Stronger Architecture Program Needed to Guide Systems Modernization Efforts. United States Government Accountability Office, April 2005, p. 3; "What We Do." Federal Aviation Administration, June 27, 2016.
[2] Administrator's Fact Book. Federal Aviation Administration, July 2001, p. 36; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004, pp. 14-16; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Benedict Sliney." 9/11 Commission, May 21, 2004.
[3] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With May Avrey." 9/11 Commission, March 25, 2004; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Dan Noel, Manager, Emergency Operations Staff." 9/11 Commission, April 28, 2004.
[4] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Morse, FAA National Security Coordination Staffer." 9/11 Commission, September 15, 2003; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With May Avrey."
[5] "Memorandum for the Record: Orientation and Tour of the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC)." 9/11 Commission, July 21, 2003; Richard Myers with Malcolm McConnell, Eyes on the Horizon: Serving on the Front Lines of National Security. New York: Threshold Editions, 2009, p. 151; Tyler Rogoway, "Trump Said He Found the Greatest Room He'd Ever Seen Deep in the Pentagon, Here's What He Meant." War Zone, January 3, 2019.
[6] Federal Aviation Administration, Order 7610.4J: Special Military Operations. Washington, DC: Federal Aviation Administration, November 3, 1998, paras. 7-1-1, 7-1-2; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CJCSI 3610.01A: Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects. Washington, DC: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, June 1, 2001.
[7] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 4, 7, 18-19; Staff Report: The Four Flights. 9/11 Commission, August 26, 2004, pp. 6-8, 10-11, 15.
[8] "Quality Assurance Bulletin: Boston Center Bulletin." Federal Aviation Administration, September 20, 2001; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 19.
[9] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 19.
[10] John A. Brunderman, "NMCC Report on 11 Sep. 01 Response to Terrorist Attack." U.S. Department of Defense, October 4, 2001.
[11] Jim Garamone, "9/11: Keeping the Heart of the Pentagon Beating." American Forces Press Service, September 8, 2006.
[12] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 35; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Captain Charles Joseph Leidig, USN, Commandant of Midshipmen, U.S. Naval Academy." 9/11 Commission, April 29, 2004; Commander Patrick Gardner, 9/11 Commission Interview Part I, Handwritten Notes. 9/11 Commission, May 5, 2004.
[13] "Senior Operations Officer Log." U.S. Department of Defense, September 11, 2001; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 462; Admiral Charles Joseph Leidig, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes. 9/11 Commission, April 29, 2004.
[14] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Captain Charles Joseph Leidig, USN, Commandant of Midshipmen, U.S. Naval Academy."
[15] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 5, 7.
[16] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Ryan Gonsalves." 9/11 Commission, May 14, 2004.
[17] Lt. Col. John Sims, U.S. Army, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes (1). 9/11 Commission, May 12, 2004; Lt. Col. John Sims, U.S. Army, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes (2). 9/11 Commission, May 12, 2004.
[18] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Ryan Gonsalves."
[19] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 35.
[20] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Dan Noel, Manager, Emergency Operations Staff"; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Robert C. McLaughlin, FAA HQ Security Operations on 9/11." 9/11 Commission, June 3, 2004.
[21] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Monte Belger, Former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration." 9/11 Commission, November 24, 2003; National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Twelfth Public Hearing. 9/11 Commission, June 17, 2004.
[22] "ADA-30 Operations Center Activity Report, September 11-14, 2001." Federal Aviation Administration, September 2001; "Summary of Air Traffic Hijack Events: September 11, 2001." Federal Aviation Administration, September 17, 2001; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service." 9/11 Commission, May 7, 2004; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Pete Falcone, TSA." 9/11 Commission, May 11, 2004.
[23] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Dan Noel, Manager, Emergency Operations Staff."
[24] "ADA-30 Operations Center Activity Report, September 11-14, 2001"; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 36.
[25] Sharon Battle, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes. 9/11 Commission, March 25, 2004; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service."
[26] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service"; Mike Weikert, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes. 9/11 Commission, May 7, 2004.
[27] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Sharon Battle." 9/11 Commission, March 25, 2004; Sharon Battle, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[28] "ADA-30 Operations Center Activity Report, September 11-14, 2001"; "Chronology of Events on 9/11/01." Federal Aviation Administration, September 11, 2001; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Robert C. McLaughlin, FAA HQ Security Operations on 9/11."
[29] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service"; Mike Weikert, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[30] Major Charles Chambers, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes. 9/11 Commission, April 23, 2004.
[31] Mike Weikert, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[32] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 36, 462.
[33] "ADA-30 Operations Center Activity Report, September 11-14, 2001"; "Chronology of Events on 9/11/01."
[34] Sharon Battle, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[35] John A. Brunderman, "NMCC Report on 11 Sep. 01 Response to Terrorist Attack."
[36] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lee Longmire." 9/11 Commission, October 28, 2003.
[37] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Monte Belger, Former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration." 9/11 Commission, November 24, 2003.
[38] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 36, 462; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service"; Mike Weikert, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[39] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 36; National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Twelfth Public Hearing.
[40] Major Charles Chambers, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[41] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With May Avrey"; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Dan Noel, Manager, Emergency Operations Staff."
[42] Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CJCSI 3610.01A: Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects.
[43] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lee Longmire"; Lee Longmire, 9/11 Commission Interview, Typed Notes. 9/11 Commission, April 30, 2004.
[44] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service."
[45] "Summary of Air Traffic Hijack Events: September 11, 2001"; "Flight Path Study: American Airlines Flight 11." National Transportation Safety Board, February 19, 2002; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 4, 16, 18; Staff Report: The Four Flights, pp. 7, 9.
[46] "ADA-30 Operations Center Activity Report, September 11-14, 2001."
[47] Mike Weikert, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[48] Sharon Battle, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[49] "ADA-30 Operations Center Activity Report, September 11-14, 2001."
[50] "Executive Summary: Chronology of a Multiple Hijacking Crisis, September 11, 2001." Federal Aviation Administration, September 17, 2001.
[51] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service."
[52] "ADA-30 Operations Center Activity Report, September 11-14, 2001"; "Executive Summary: Chronology of a Multiple Hijacking Crisis, September 11, 2001."
[53] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Robert C. McLaughlin, FAA HQ Security Operations on 9/11."
[54] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service."
[55] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Jeff Griffith, Former FAA Assistant Director of Air Traffic Control." 9/11 Commission, March 31, 2004.
[56] Lee Longmire, 9/11 Commission Interview, Typed Notes.
[57] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lee Longmire."
[58] Lee Longmire, 9/11 Commission Interview, Typed Notes.
[59] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 36; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service."
[60] "Prepared Statement of Monte R. Belger to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States." 9/11 Commission, June 17, 2004.
[61] National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Twelfth Public Hearing.
[62] Major Charles Chambers, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[63] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Monte Belger, Former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration." 9/11 Commission, November 24, 2003; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Monte Belger, Former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration." 9/11 Commission, April 20, 2004.
[64] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service."
[65] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Major Paul Goddard (Canadian Forces) and Ken Merchant." 9/11 Commission, March 4, 2004; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With May Avrey"; "Dean Resch, U.S. Army (Retired), Panama City Beach, FL." Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame Society, Inc., n.d.
[66] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With John Steven Hawley, TSA Liaison to the Department of State (DSITA) Diplomatic Security/Intelligence and Threat Analysis." 9/11 Commission, October 8, 2003.
[67] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 16.
[68] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Robert C. McLaughlin, FAA HQ Security Operations on 9/11."
[69] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Morse, FAA National Security Coordination Staffer."
[70] See "Complete 911 Timeline: Training Exercises on 9/11." History Commons, n.d.
[71] Leslie Filson, Air War Over America: Sept. 11 Alters Face of Air Defense Mission. Tyndall Air Force Base, FL: 1st Air Force, 2003, pp. 55, 122; William M. Arkin, Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World. Hanover, NH: Steerforth Press, 2005, p. 545; Michael Bronner, "9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes." Vanity Fair, August 2006.
[72] "Point Paper on Training and Exercises." North American Aerospace Defense Command, October 13, 2001.
[73] "NCOTA: Exercise Data." North American Aerospace Defense Command, July 25, 2003.
[74] Ibid.; "NORAD Exercises: Hijack Summary." 9/11 Commission, n.d.
[75] "Senior Operations Officer Log"; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Captain Charles Joseph Leidig, USN, Commandant of Midshipmen, U.S. Naval Academy"; Admiral Charles Joseph Leidig, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[76] "NCOTA: Exercise Data"; "NORAD Exercises: Hijack Summary."
[77] Nuclear Weapon Systems Sustainment Programs. Washington, DC: Office of the Secretary of Defense, May 1997; Joe Dejka, "Inside Stratcom on Sept. 11 Offutt Exercise Took Real-Life Twist." Omaha World-Herald, February 27, 2002; William M. Arkin, Code Names, p. 378; Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al-Qaeda. New York: Times Books, 2011, p. 22.
[78] Wayne M. Rezzonico, "POTUS SIOP Brief." E-mail message to Pat Downs, April 2, 2004.
[79] "NCOTA: Exercise Data."
[80] "Memorandum for the Record: Orientation and Tour of the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC)."
[81] Col. John Brunderman, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes. 9/11 Commission, May 17, 2004.
[82] Major Charles Chambers, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[83] Sharon Battle, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service."
[84] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Pete Falcone, TSA."
[85] Lee Longmire, 9/11 Commission Interview, Typed Notes.
[86] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Dan Noel, Manager, Emergency Operations Staff."
[87] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With John Steven Hawley, TSA Liaison to the Department of State (DSITA) Diplomatic Security/Intelligence and Threat Analysis."
[88] Lee Longmire, 9/11 Commission Interview, Typed Notes.
[89] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Pete Falcone, TSA."
[90] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service"; Mike Weikert, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[91] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lee Longmire"; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Monte Belger, Former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration." 9/11 Commission, November 24, 2003.
[92] Federal Aviation Administration, Order 7610.4J: Special Military Operations, paras. 7-1-1, 7-1-2; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CJCSI 3610.01A: Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects.
[93] Lee Longmire, 9/11 Commission Interview, Typed Notes; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Mike Weikert, Federal Air Marshal Service of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service"; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Pete Falcone, TSA."
[94] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Monte Belger, Former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration." 9/11 Commission, April 20, 2004.
[95] Ibid.
[96] Federal Aviation Administration, Order 7610.4J: Special Military Operations.
[97] Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CJCSI 3610.01: Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects. Washington, DC: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, July 31, 1997.
[98] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Robert C. McLaughlin, FAA HQ Security Operations on 9/11."
[99] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Ryan Gonsalves."
[100] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Monte Belger, Former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration." 9/11 Commission, November 24, 2003; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Robert C. McLaughlin, FAA HQ Security Operations on 9/11."
[101] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 36.
[102] Mike Weikert, 9/11 Commission Interview, Handwritten Notes.
[103] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With John Steven Hawley, TSA Liaison to the Department of State (DSITA) Diplomatic Security/Intelligence and Threat Analysis."
[104] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Dan Noel, Manager, Emergency Operations Staff."
[105] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With May Avrey."

2 comments:

dimnaut said...

Do you know what happened to Woody Box? Is he still alive?

Shoestring said...

I don't know, dimnaut. I haven't seen anything by him for years. I would be interested to know if he is still around and if he plans to write anything new about 9/11.