Before reviewing the military air defense response on 9/11, it is important to remember objectively what the 'official story' asks the public to believe. According to their narrative, on the morning of September 11, four enormous, fuel-laden, lumbering jumbo jets were hijacked by 19 Arab men with box-cutters and zero in-air flight experience. These slow, unmaneuverable planes were then flown for 1 hour and 45 minutes through the most restricted airspace in the world without eliciting a single military intercept. The most sophisticated military in the world, able to strike dime-sized targets from hundreds of miles away with laser-guided missiles, precision radar equipment, and state of the art aircraft capable of flying well over 1,300 mph, could not locate, engage, nor intercept four wandering jumbo jets. A military that has a budget larger than the combined military assets of every other country in the world could not scramble, intercept and engage any of the radically wayward planes. Even Flight 77, which was allowed to fly unimpeded and crash into the Pentagon one full hour after two jets had been flown into the Twin Towers in NYC, failed to elicit the response and intercept from any military jets. Nor, indeed, did flight 93. A plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field 1 hour and 45 minutes after the first plane was confirmed hijacked.
This official narrative leaves the public with one of two conclusions. Either the U.S. military is a wholly inept force incapable of defending the country from even the most rudimentarily hostile elements, rendering it the greatest illusion and farce the world has ever seen. Or on the morning of September 11, forces within its own ranks purposely blocked, hamstrung, and prevented the military apparatus from carrying out its most basic defensive responsibilities. In light of what we know the military can and has done in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., in light of the plan they surely have in place to defend the skies from a potential massive enemy air-attack with striking power infinitely more powerful than that of four unarmed civilian jumbo jets, the first hypothesis is out. Which leaves behind the only logical scenario. That rogue elements from within the military and government leadership itself either stood down the military apparatus to let the events of September 11 occur on purpose. Or the same rogue elements planned, facilitated, and helped carry out the attacks themselves. Either one would be high treason and mass murder. And there is overwhelming evidence to back up both.
Defenders of the 'official story' blame confusion and chaos as reason for the lack of proper military response on the morning of 9/11. They spin stories of crowded radar screens, FAA confusion and lack of communication, NORAD mix-ups and lack of appropriate response protocol, uncertainty in regards to rules of engagement and chain of command, phantom flights, war games, dispersed military and Pentagon commanders, etc. etc. All of which is nonsense. FAA flight controllers are highly trained and capable professionals, accustomed to and comfortable with incredibly crowded radar screens. Confusion in times of war and crisis is expected and planned for. Strict rules of engagement and combat protocol are written, designed, and followed with unambiguous clarity specifically because of the inevitable chaos that ensues at the onset of an attack. Contrary to the 'official story', confusion and chaos did not create the inept military response. Virtually every step of the standard military protocol in response to cases of hijack and/or attack were ignored and violated on the morning of September 11. This comprehensive violation of standard operating procedures is what created the inept military response. Not chaos.
For an hour-long interview with Robin Hordon, an FAA air-traffic controller and aviation pilot from 'Boston Center' trying to blow the whistle and detail what actually happened regarding the 9/11 crimes and cover-up, click here.
Every commercial and civilian plane that takes to the air in the U.S. has to fill and file a specific flight plan. Along this flight plan, there are required 'fix points' that the plane has to hit along the way in order to keep the skies safe and clear. When a plane misses one of these 'fixes', air traffic controllers are alerted, and they attempt to make contact with the pilot. If the pilot fails to respond appropriately, the military is contacted, and a fighter jet is usually scrambled to investigate. The military and NORAD are directly linked into the sophisticated radar and air traffic control systems of the FAA. And even a private pilot in a small off-course plane 'will likely find two F-18s on their tail within 10 or so minutes' of unapproved movement.
Popular Mechanics and other defenders of the 'official story' have claimed that Payne Stewart's wayward Cessna is the only plane in the last decade to have elicited a military intercept in the U.S. However, not only does this directly contradict numerous other media and government reports citing hundreds of other such intercept incidents, NORAD'S own spokesman, Marine Corps Major Mike Snyder told the Boston Globe on September 15, 2001 that 'its fighters routinely intercept aircraft.' Moreover, common sense would dictate that the most powerful nation in the history of the world, with the greatest military capacity and sophistication in the history of the world, would have ready squadrons of military jets prepared and armed to take to the air within minutes to defend the skies from attacks of any sort. And from any direction.
Furthermore, on the morning of September 11, the FAA, NORAD, and the military were not dealing with simple wayward Cessnas carrying a charismatic golf pro. They were dealing with four separate, simultaneous, confirmed hijackings of enormous civilian airliners - all of which had illegally turned off their transponders, cut off all communication with air traffic controllers, and begun meandering suspiciously over the most heavily populated civilian corridor in the country.
Indeed, the FAA had confirmed by 8:14 a.m. that the first plane had been hijacked. Immediate military action should have been initiated. But the official history of what transpires after that is a bizarre and varied matrix of conflicting reports, narratives, explanations, finger-pointings, and excuses. Standard operating procedures in effect on that morning would have dictated that air traffic controllers immediately contact superiors both within the FAA and the military to report the hijacking incident. No logical reason exists to doubt that these procedures were followed. However, it is impossible to confirm the order of events as all involved controllers with direct knowledge of the timeline of events have since been depositioned and silenced with an unexplained, illogical official gag order. Source here, and here.
Even more alarming, on May 7 2004, the New York Times reported, "At least six air traffic controllers who dealt with two of the hijacked airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, made a tape recording that day describing the events, but the tape was destroyed by a supervisor without anyone making a transcript or even listening to it, the Transportation Department said today...The taping began before noon on Sept. 11 at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center, in Ronkonkoma, on Long Island, but it was later destroyed by an F.A.A. quality-assurance manager, who crushed the cassette in his hand, cut the tape into little pieces and dropped them in different trash cans around the building, according to a report made public today by the inspector general of the Transportation Department."
What is it that controllers knew and/or described and/or suspected about 9/11 that government officials do not want leaked to the public? Again, former Boston Center air traffic controller Robin Hordon, in an interview on the Randi Rhodes show in December of 2006, provides an answer. Hordon, a veteran controller with many friends and colleagues on duty that morning, said, "On September 11th I'm one of the few people who really within quite a few hours of the whole event taking place just simply knew that it was an inside job…normal protocol is to get fighter jet aircraft up (to) assist." Hordon continued that "from personal experience he knew the system was always ready to immediately scramble intercepting fighters and that any reversal of that procedure would have been unprecedented and abnormal…'I know people who work there who confirmed to me that the FAA was not asleep and the controllers could do the job, they followed their own protocols.'…Hordon said that the only way the airliners could have avoided being intercepted was if a massive electrical and communications failure had occurred which it didn't on that day, adding that there was 'no way' the hijacked airliners could have reached their targets otherwise."
What, or who, caused the deviation from standard operating procedure? Without the destroyed tapes or the controllers themselves available for evidence and/or subpoenaed testimony, this 8:14 a.m. FAA confirmed hijacking time is difficult to corroborate. Other reliable accounts push the time of military contact regarding the hijacking back about ten minutes, placing FAA's call to NORAD at around 8:25 a.m. (still 21 minutes before the first impact into the North Tower). Even NORAD official Lt. Col. Dawne Deskins of the Air National Guard confirmed that the military had received hijacking information by 8:30 a.m. (ABC Nightly News Report, 9/11/02). The 9/11 Commission Report, however, for some reason puts the time of military contact at 8:37:52 - an unsupported, unsubstantiated, unexplained time that stands a full 23 minutes longer than standard operating procedure would have dictated. And finally, at 8:46 a.m., as Flight 11 was slamming into Tower 1, F-15 fighter jets were scrambled from Otis Air Force Base. Thirty-two excruciating minutes after all existing standard operating procedures explicitly instructed regarding the scrambling of military jets on the morning of September 11.
This wild deviation from standard protocol has been glossed over by 'official reports' as a simple case of confusion, chaos, faulty communication, ineffective response training, etc. But thirty-two minutes of delay is not chaos and confusion. It is a systematic failure at so many levels of so many different inter-linked individuals and departments to perform their most basic responsibilities that it defies the laws of probability to suggest they all failed at the same time on the same day in the exact same coordinated manner. At the very least, their behavior was gross, criminal incompetence that should have led to the dismissal and trial of people up and down the chain of command in the FAA and NORAD. Their 'chaos and confusion' resulted in the deaths of 3,000 people, yet not one of them was fired or tried. Why?
Would they have told an uncomfortably variant version of the 'official story' when pressed to defend themselves in court? Would they have given specifics wholly incongruent to the government's desired narrative? Would it have come to the public's attention that in June of 2001, for an as yet unexplained reason, Donald Rumsfeld rewrote a 50 year old policy regarding airplane emergencies, suddenly dictating that from that point on, any response to a hijacked aircraft would have to be cleared through his office first (see 9/11 Commission Report). Setting up a confusing, muddled, and convoluted chain of command that, no surprise, was quickly cited after the attacks as reason for the lack of decisive and appropriate military response to a supposed 'unforeseen' chain of events?
Would it have become clear that, like the following quote suggests, the FAA behaved and performed exactly as it was supposed to on the morning of 9/11, and that it was the lack of response from the military, the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney that created, to use the military's own phrase, such a 'cluster-fuck' on September 11th?
- Monte Belger, FAA Acting Deputy Administrator on 911, 9/11 Commission, Twelfth Public Hearing, Oral Evidence.
What would the rest of the FAA employees and flight controllers tell us? What narrative would they detail in open testimony? And how would it match with the government's story? We don't know. They, the employees at United and American Airlines (whose planes were involved), victims' family members, media reps who have reviewed pertinent classified material, FBI employees, even firemen, have all been officially gagged and restricted from talking or reporting to the press and Congress. Threatened with prosecution (or worse?) if the silence is broken. So now there is this often-changing patchwork of a story leaked and/or provided from 'official sources' that the public has been fed to try to piece the rest of the government's story together. It proves overwhelming, confusing, and confounding to the lay person trying to look into the matter - perhaps the exact condition the official storytellers want. But all of the official accounts, when read as a whole, point to the fact that the rest of the military response on 9/11 continued like the first thirty-two minutes - in utter and orchestrated chaos.
Scrambled jets were flown out to sea to chase after faulty coordinates. Fighter pilots from Langley, VA thought they were dealing with Russian missiles, not civilian aircraft. (Russians?!) Phone bridges between the FAA and NORAD supposedly took a long time to set up, even though there is sworn testimony (like above) that these bridges existed within minutes of the first hijack. Wayward jumbo jets were lost on radar, raining chaos into the system supposedly because the planes' transponders had been turned off - which begs the question that, if attacked, is our military expecting enemy planes to be loaded with convenient transponders in order to positively identify and locate them? Fighters outside of NYC were kept in unexplained holding patterns over Long Island while flight 175 slammed into the South Tower. Other jets further south were directed away from Washington D.C. as Flight 77 approached the Pentagon to Baltimore in order to chase down 'phantom Flight 11', a supposed unexplained blip on the military's radar screen that someone had identified as UA Flight 11 - even though that airplane was already confirmed crashed into the North Tower 45 minutes earlier. Again, these are enormous, civilian jumbo jets, being flown by pilots unable to properly control even a small Cessna, allegedly out-maneuvering F-18s, avoiding all radar detection, taking out the highest-profile targets in the most sophisticated military country in the world. Including the Pentagon, the literal heart of the U.S. military, and surely one of the most fortified buildings in the world. How can any of this be explained without either rendering the entire U.S. government and military an unequivocal sham, or concluding that its capacities were intentionally 'stood down' and thrown into chaos on the morning of 9/11?
A. Dick Cheney's Stand-down Orders
The behavior of Dick Cheney on the morning of September 11th supports the notion of a high level military 'stand down'. In open testimony to the 9/11 Commission, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, describing the scene in the White House's underground bunker on the morning of September 11, states "During the time that the airplane (Flight 77) was coming into the Pentagon, there was a young man who would come in and say to the Vice President...the plane is 50 miles out...the plane is 30 miles out....and when it got down to the plane is 10 miles out, the young man also said to the vice president 'do the orders still stand?' And the Vice President turned and whipped his neck around and said 'Of course the orders still stand, have you heard anything to the contrary!??'"
What questioned orders was the Vice President's reacting to? Was the assistant's apparent confusion and need to reconfirm stated orders due to the fact that Cheney was allowing a hijacked airplane to bear down on Washington D.C., ordering that it not be shot down? Indeed, in official Staff Statement No. 17, Cheney confirms that orders to shoot down aircraft were not given until some time between 10:10 and 10:15 a.m., 45 minutes after Cheney had whipped his head around to confirm these other orders. So again, what were his original orders that had so perplexed his aid? To not shoot the plane down, to allow it to bear unimpeded into its logical target? This is surely a question that the American public would be interested in pursuing. But the 9/11 Commission not only neglected to further question Cheney regarding this matter, but in its official report, it also inexplicably omits any mention of Mineta's comments. Even though they were spoken in open, public testimony in regards to the alarming actions of the highest ranked acting government official on the morning of 9/11. Why? And does this unmentioned, critical fact not entirely undermine the integrity of the whole Commission and its Report?
Research Note: Much of my research and information regarding the lack of any appropriate military response comes from Nafeez Ahmed, a research scholar from the UK, and his book 'War on Truth'. He has put perhaps the best compilation together of the timing of the military's inept response on 9/11. His work, and the titanic efforts of the team at cooperativeresearch.com, are two great resources to further explore this essential piece of the 9/11 puzzle.
See also this link for an enormous list of quotes and evidence regarding the military stand-down.
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