This week, the 9/11 Commission is hearing testimony on why the Bush administration failed to defend the US from the September 11 attacks once the events began to unfold that day. What we are hearing is a litany of lies and outrageous excuses from one from Bush rep after another. Their strategy of desperation now relies on the public's ignorance of how the nation's top-level response system works. To help you disentangle fact from fiction, here is a comprehensive overview, put together back in May 2002, as to just who was supposed to be doing what on that fateful day.
THE EVENTS, PLANES AND PLAYERS OF SEPTEMBER 11: Putting it All Together
By Cheryl Seal
This week, the 9/11 Commission is hearing testimony on why the Bush administration failed to defend the US from the September 11 attacks once the events began to unfold that day. What we are hearing is a major load of nonsense from Bush rep after Bush rep. To help you disentangle fact from fiction, here is a comprehensive overview, put together back in May 2002, as to just who was supposed to be doing what on that fateful day.
Who Was Responsible for What on the Day of September 11, 2001?
The responsibility for protecting America's skies from terrorist attack falls upon the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD, also simply called the "Space Command."). Established in 1958, NORAD is a U.S.-Canadian command that provides warning of missile and air attack against both member nations, according to the organization's Web site. In the Eastern U.S., NORAD has at its disposal, several Air Force Bases from which F-16s and F-15s can be scrambled at a moment's notice. Among these bases are Otis AFB in Cape Cod, Mass, Hancock AFB in Syracuse, NY, Andrews AFB just outside D.C., and Langley AFB in Eastern Virginia. NORAD's mission statement on its website states:
"The Northeast Air Defense Air Sector's area of responsibility covers more than one-half million square miles of airspace including that over New York City; Washington, D.C.; Chicago and other major metropolitan areas."
CHAIN OF COMMAND DURING TERRORIST ATTACK
A: The FAA reports hijackings and other threats to NORAD's First Air Force Commander, who is based in Tyndall, FLA. On Sept. 11, this was Gen. Larry K. Arnold.Mp< B: The First Air Force Commander then relays this info to The Commander in Chief (CINC) of NORAD. On 9/11, this was Gen. Ralph "Ed" Eberhardt
C: In a grave situation where force seems warranted, the CINC reports to the Commander in Chief......George Bush. Also notified are Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard B. Myers.
The fact that NORAD was well aware that a major attack was a possibility is made obvious by the command's planning, well before Sept. 11, for a major exercise, slated for June 4, 2002. This is from a NORAD announcement:
"On June 4, 2002, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will sponsor a multi-agency, bi-national exercise, Amalgam Virgo 02, involving an airborne terrorism scenario over the United States and Canada. The exercise, which was planned prior to the events of Sept. 11, is designed to allow many U.S. and Canadian agencies to test, improve and validate their coordination and operational procedures." http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2002/b05312002_bt279-02.html
Regardless of what warnings Bush may have received, NORAD was well aware of the threat to American skies.
The Planes and Players of 9/11
F-16: (Fighting Falcon) From USAF Fact Sheet: "The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack his highly maneuverable aircraft." The craft can go from zero to 500 mph in about 2 minutes. It's top speed is about 1,500 mph, while its typical cruising speed is nearly 600 mph.
F-15 (Eagle): (from Air Force Fact Sheet): "The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat." This plane can reach a maximum astounding speed of 1,875 mph.
The time required from the notification to scramble to one of these planes being airborne and at top speed is about 12-15 minutes.
The Bush administration had in place, on Sept. 11 in the top five posts relevant to the terrorist attack, men who totally support the administration's vision for a "Star Wars" style military, for the militarization of space and the merging of the military with domestic law enforcement agencies into one big "Homeland Security" entity. The five top players were: Larry K. Arnold, First Air Force Commander of NORAD, Ralph "Ed" Eberhardt, Commander-in-Chief of NORAD, Richard B. Myers, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, and George W. Bush.
George W. Bush: Guess we don't need to add much here, except to say that Bush did not make it plain to the public at any time since 9/11 that HE was the person that, according to the established chain of command, called the final shots on 9/11. Donald Rumsfeld: Of course, we know all about Mr. Rumsfeld's lust for power. He is a good pal of Ralph Eberhardt and, in fact, in May of 2001, said Eberhardt was his first choice for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rumsfeld is one of the architects of the military-police complex.
Larry K. Arnold: Has, since 9/11, helped in the push toward the militarization of America. On February 20, 2002, gave a talk on "Homeland Defense" at the SpaceComm 2002 conference in Colorado that had as its topic: "Shaping Information Operations and Space Leadership" I.e. - the extension of the military not just into the "Homeland," but into space.
Ralph "Ed" Eberhardt: Eberhardt is a fanatical supporter of the Missile defense scheme and the militarization of space. In fact, in May, 2001, Eberhardt said in a speech that he believed control of space was America's "destiny"! Eberhardt is also an enthusiastic supporter of the merging of law enforecement and the military and making technology such as military spy satellites available to police.
Richard B. Myers: Less than three weeks after Bush received the now-famous memo of August 6, Myers was named by Bush to the top post in the U.S. military: Chairman of Joints Chief of Staff. This is what a non-American (and thus less spun) news source (Pravda) had to say about that appointment:
"Gen. Myers was chosen for the job precisely because his views are shared by both of his bosses, President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He is considered an active advocate of deploying the National Missile Defense program. He told a news conference that he would be working on the materialization of the idea "relentlessly" and "with his sleeves rolled up."
Right after 9/11, Myers was caught in a lie when he claimed that no orders were given re: launching aircraft until AFTER the Pentagon was hit, "We did scramble fighter aircraft, AWACs, radar aircraft and tanker aircraft to begin to establish orbits in case other aircraft showed up in the FAA system that were hijacked..That order, to the best of my knowledge, was after the Pentagon was struck." However, Marine Corps Maj. Mike Snyder of NORAD told a Boston Globe reporter that the command had been told about the hijacking 10 minutes before the first plane hit the first World Trade Center tower. Snyder said the fighters remained on the ground until after the Pentagon was hit, even though "fighters routinely intercept aircraft."
7:59: American airlines flight 11, a Boeing 767 takes off from Logan Airport in Boston with 92 people, headed for Los Angeles
8:01: United Airline Flight 93, a Boeing 757, bound for San Francisco, is delayed for 40 minutes on run way, with 45 people on Board
8:13: Boston Ground control loses contact with Flight 11. First red flag for Flight 11
8:14: United Flight 175, a Boeing 767, takes off from Logan for Los Angeles with 65 passengers
8:17: American Airlines Flight 77 (Boeing 757) leaves Dulles in D.C. headed for Los Angeles with 64 passengers.
8:20: Flight 11 reaches the Hudson River in NY and stops transmitting its IFF signal. Second Red flag for flight 11. Had Bush put the airlines on high alert after August 6 when he received the warning, there is no doubt at all that these warnings would have evoked at very different response...if, indeed, the hijackers had even gotten that far (under a high alert, they very well may have been apprehended at the airports).
8:24: Hijackers on Flight 11 accidentally broadcasts warning to the passengers over its radio: "Everything will be OK. If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet." Third Red Flag for flight 11
8:25: Boston air traffic controllers notify other air traffic control centers of hijacking. Why wasn't NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) notified at this time?
8:27: Flight 11 heads south toward Manhattan; flight attendant Betty Ong calls American Airlines reservations and reports that two flight attendants had been stabbed and a passenger had had his throat slashed. She identifies the seat numbers of the hijackers. Fourth red flag for flight 11 - this one a BLOODY RED and wildly waving, yet it will be about 10 minutes AFTER THIS before NORAD is notified.
8:33: Last transmission from Flight 11: Hijacker is heard telling passengers not to move.
8:38: Boston Air Traffic control notifies NORAD that Flight 11 has been hijacked
8:42: Flight 175 is hijacked. It begins to make a U-turn over New Jersey, reading for its northward assault on Manhattan.
8:42: Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport, headed for San Francisco
8:43: FAA notifies NORAD that Flight 175 has been hijacked.
8:44: Two F-15 eagles are ordered scrambled out of Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod. If NORAD had been notified (or was it??) at 8:27, when the plane was obviously hijacked and heading to NYC, an F-16 from Otis or Griffis would have been about 10 minutes from Manhattan at this point. In addition, since the WTC was high on the list of known targets, and since some of the warnings to Bush indicated airplanes could be used as "bombs," the WTC should have been given an alert and the building evacuated. If evacuation had started at 8:30, there would have been no one in the upper floors when the first plane hit and the loss of life would have been minimized.
8:45: Flight 11 strikes WTC's north tower at the 80th floor
8:46: Flight 175 stops transmitting beacon signal
8:52: Two F-15 eagles take off from Otis If F-15s had been scrambled from Otis at 8:27, they would now be in a position to engage the hijacked flight 175 headed for the WTC
8:56: Flight 77's transponder is cut. If F-15s had been scrambled from Otis at 8:27, they would now be in a position to engage the hijacked flight 175 headed for the WTC
9:00: United Airlines learns that Flight 93 flying over western PA may be in process of being hijacked.
9:00: Flight 77 makes U turn and heads back for Washington This is when the FAA should have notified NORAD, and NORAD should have ordered F-16s into the air FROM ANDREWS. If they had, by 9:15, F-16s may have been in a position to deflect Flight 77 AWAY from D.C. altogether.
9:02: Flight 175 strikes the WTC at the 60th floor.
9:16: FAA informs NORAD that Flight 93 may have been hijacked
9:17 : Federal Aviation Administration closes all airports
9:24: FAA notifies NORAD that Flight 77 is hijacked
9:24: NORAD orders three F-16s scrambled from Langley The timing here is absolutely diabolical. It is EXACTLY not enough time for either a jet from Langley, which will be 10 minutes too late, or one from Andrews, which would have had just about 3 minutes between reaching the airspace over D.C. and dealing with the incoming Boeing 757. That Langley was chosen indicates a FEAR that in that 3 minutes a good pilot from Andrews just might have succeeded in aborting the disaster, despite the split second time frame.
9:25: Air traffic controllers notify Secret Service as Flight 77 makes dramatic maneuver just south of the Pentagon
9:29: Bush, at Booker Elementary school says an "apparent terrorist attack" under way. No orders are give to evacuate any buildings in D.C., or to even urge residents and workers to seek shelter.
9:: 40: Three F-16 fighting falcons take off from Langley. They reach Washington by 9:55, moving at what works out to about 550 mph. - the trip takes 14 minutes. Not only is this a tragedy for the victims of the Pentagon, it was unspeakably cruel to those pilots, who, thanks to their delayed orders, have to live with the crushing feeling of having been 15 minutes too late. Here is a description of Andrews from its website: "Training for air combat and operational airlift for national defense is the 113thÃ???s primary mission. However, as part of its dual mission, the 113th provides capable and ready response forces for the District of Columbia in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency." Yet Bush chooses Langley.
9:43: Plane crashes into Pentagon - a full 40 minutes after being reported hijacked and the likelihood of its being used as a weapon of mass destruction obvious. You will notice that now, everything seems to start happening -- it seems as if everything were put on hold until the Pentagon was struck.
9:45: White House Evacuates
9:57: Bush leaves Florida
10:05: South Tower of World Trade Center collapses
10:08 : Armed agents deployed around White House
10:10: Penn plane crashes, part of Pentagon collapses
10:13-10:45: federal buildings in D.C. evacuated
10:28: WTC north tower collapses
10:46: Colin Powell heads for D.C. from Latin America. Again, notice that Powell is in Latin America, Bush is in Florida, Ashcroft in Missouri, and Rumsfeld in the part of the Pentagon most remote from the impact point.
1:04: Bush speaks from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana
1:27: State of emergency declared in D.C.
1:44: warships from VA are deployed to protect coast line
2:00: Bush at Offutt AFB in Omaha NE. - this is not revealed until almost 4:00 pm. Also at Offutt that day from 8:00 am on, are several CEOs - at a "charity event" that just happens to be held at a SECURE AIR FORCE BASE? And it just happens that several of the CEOs WOULD HAVE BEEN at the WTC had they not been at Offutt.
6:54: Bush back in White House
8:30: Bush addresses nation
ADDITIONAL TIMELINE NOTES
Oct. 1: Richard B. Myers Officially Becomes the Number One Man in the U.S. Military
April 2002: Ralph Eberhardt is proposed as "supreme commander" of Northcom, the mega-military entity pushed for by the Bush Administration
Putting It All Together
With the hotlines that exist between these offices, the time that it would take from the moment the FAA put in its call to Arnold for Bush to respond (allowing 2 minutes tops per communication) would have been roughly 6 minutes, plus or minus as minute or two. The FAA called NORAD at 8:38 am about the first hijacking. It was 6 minutes later - right within the above timing estimates made above - that two F-15s were ordered - by Bush - to be scrambled from Otis AFB.
The evidence clearly shows that Bush had decided AHEAD OF TIME how to handle Flight 77. The FAA call to NORAD that Flight 77 had been hijacked was made at 9:24 - it was at 9:24 that the order to scramble planes from LANGLEY was given. This means this move had already been authorized by BUSH. How could he have pre-authorized such a response unless he had 1) been told about the plane some minutes before when it was obvious to NORAD's radar system that the plane was headed for D.C. (NORAD did not require an active transponder on Flight 77 to track the plane), or 2) Bush knew before 9/11 that a plane would be hitting the Pentagon at around 9:45 am.
Bush also had the authority, at all times after 8:44 (when he obviously gave his first orders re: Otis) to call for an evacuation of the WTC and, at the LATEST, by 9:24 to order federal buildings and landmarks in D.C. to be evacuated. Had he made these orders, hundreds of lives would have been saved. Even if the order to evacuate the second tower of the WTC had been made by 8:50, that precious 12 minutes would have made all the difference to hundreds of WTC workers. The Pentagon workers would have had nearly 15 minutes to evacuate if a call had come in by even 9:30.
Because he had seen the warnings throughout the summer, and the last, strongest one on August 6, he should have been completely prepared for every scenario he had been briefed on and read to take decisive, urgent action to save lives. But he didn't. Instead, as Pentagon workers sat at their desks or moved down the halls, oblivious to the impending danger, at 9:29, Bush had just finished reading a story book and was getting ready to announce that an "apparent" terrorist attack was underway.
But let's take a look for a moment at the bigger picture:
From the first, the plan of the Bush administration has been to extend military power into space while creating a domestic police state in the name of "Homeland Security. In this scheme, the line between military and police would be blurred. Elements of the CIA, which has traditionally worked more with the military have now been folded into the FBI, while yet more restrictions on the power of the agencies over ordinary citizens have been removed. For a grim picture of where Bush et al were trying to take America as of August, 2001, see "The Next Battlefield," by Jack Hitt. http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/st050801.htm
Here's an excerpt from that article: "The political attention devoted to national missile defense, which is an updated version of President Reagan's Strategic Defensive Initiative, has obscured its larger purpose. According to the Strategic Master Plan, N.M.D. is but one part of a triad of technologies -- along with improved space surveillance and antisatellite offensive weaponry -- that, the Air Force hopes, will lead to total "space control." George Friedman, an intelligence consultant and the author of "The Future of War," calls the national missile defense plan a "Trojan horse" for the real issue: the coming weaponization of space. The cost of expanding our space assets is only now beginning to show itself. Many of the specific systems for space have had their budgets increased in President Bush's first defense-spending."
The three major proponents of this "new military": Richard B. Myers, Ralph Eberhardt, and Donald Rumsfeld.
However, in the summer of 2001, the American public's support for the Bush administration's schemes, in general, was weak and waning fast. In August Bush's approval rating had slumped to under 50%. However, within just a few weeks of 9/11, with virtually no opposition from Congress, Myers had been confirmed as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. By April 2002 - a little over 6 short months since 9/11, Rumsfeld, Myers and Eberhardt had announced the formation of the NORTHCOM, the megamilitary complex that consolidated their power Here's an excerpt from an April 18, 2002 article in the Boston Globe:
"Air Force General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was responsible for drafting the new command plan - and who calls the establishment of the new command the most significant structural change in his 37 years in uniform - said yesterday that the Northern Command (NORTHCOM) 'takes the various homeland security missions being performed by various combatant commanders and some agencies and puts them under one commander [to] bring unity and focus to the mission.' Air Force General Ralph E. Eberhardt is slated to head the new command, which will also include oversight of NORAD and the territorial defense missions of the JFCOM."
In short, 9/11 was used as a spring board for the pre-9/11 Bush scheme. The steps taken in the name of Homeland security that were done in the name of 9/11 were actually already planned well before that event. It was the event that made it possible to implement them. If you want to get an idea of where this merger between the military and law enforcement is headed, how about this statement made by Ralph Eberhardt at the Space Symposium held in Colorado Springs in early 2002: "Over time we can leverage our space assets to support homeland security and law enforcement. " So does this mean the use of military satellites to spy on citizens?
Now ponder this point: Since Bush took office, he has richly rewarded every person who helped him substantially, usually with top posts or the legislation they wanted. After 9/11, we see Myers and Eberhardt moving up into top posts of incredible power. What were they being rewarded for?
Now, back to 9/11. The simple fact is, if Bush had not ignored the August 6 (and earlier) warnings of terrorist strikes, and had instead acted decisively and responsibly, the scenario that unfolded on 9/11 would have been very different. First of all, on high alert, the airports may have screened passengers more carefully - some or all of the hijackers may have failed to get aboard their target aircraft. Secondly, if they had succeeded in boarding the craft, the FAA would have been in a state of readiness for a serious event. At 8:25 AM, Boston FAA would have immediately called NORAD, who would have been in readiness, perhaps even with preauthorized orders from Bush. The WTC would have been on high alert from Aug 6 on and an evacuation could have been undertaken as early as 8:30 - time enough to save countless lives.
But instead, Bush did not warn the public. When called by NORAD, he failed to respond in a way designed to save lives. In short, the trail of smoke from the smoking gun leads ultimately...and unavoidably, back to G. W. Bush