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Vigilant Guardian

Amalgam Virgo

http://hcgroups.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/two-days-before-911-military-exercise-simulated-suicide-hijack-targeting-new-york/

http://911blogger.com/news/2006-11-14/military-exercises-or-wargames-related-911

The Wargames of September 11th (beta): http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20050830185334880

http://911blogger.com/news/2010-07-27/norad-exercise-year-911-simulated-pilot-trying-crash-plane-new-york-skyscraper-un-headquarters

Was Delta Airlines Flight 1989 Part of a Live-Fly Hijacking Exercise on 9/11?: http://www.911blogger.com/node/20706

http://www.archive.org/details/WebsterTarpleysSpeechInSanDiego7807part1

http://mceer.buffalo.edu/publications/resaccom/02-SP09/pdfs_screen/17_Kendra-Wachtendorf.pdf

http://www.nrt.org/production/NRT/NRTWEB.nsf/AllAttachmentsByTitle/A-285WTCPentagonObservations//WTC_PENTAGON.pdf

http://web.archive.org/web/20040723111721/http://dels.nas.edu/dr/docs/harrald.pdf TOPOFF


"There was a plan in place, but we went from 0 to 60 overnight, so to speak," said Lt. Col. Stephen N. Wood, Garrison commander, here. "By sheer coincidence we were scheduled to conduct "Timely Alert II," a force protection exercise on Sept. 11 and because of that, some of the concrete barriers were already in place." http://web.archive.org/web/20011103072714/http://www.amc.army.mil/amc/pa/oct01.html



LATEST FACTFILE: Seconds From Disaster: A Day of 9/11 Events

A MASCAL (mass casualty) training exercise is held at Fort Belvoir. It is “designed to enhance the first ready response in dealing with the effects of a terrorist incident involving an explosion.” [MDW News Service, 7/5/01] People and organizations involved: Fort Belvoir readmore


Seconds From Disaster: A Day of 9/11 Events

Seconds From Disaster: A Day of 9/11 EventsJuly 2001: MASCAL Training Exercise Held at Fort Belvoir


A MASCAL (mass casualty) training exercise is held at Fort Belvoir. It is “designed to enhance the first ready response in dealing with the effects of a terrorist incident involving an explosion.” [MDW News Service, 7/5/01] People and organizations involved: Fort Belvoir


8:30 a.m.: Army Base Near Pentagon Holds Terrorist Attack Exercise


At Fort Belvoir, an army base 10 miles south of the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Mark R. Lindon is conducting a “garrison control exercise” when the 9/11 attacks begin. The object of this exercise is to “test the security at the base in case of a terrorist attack.” Lindon later says, “I was out checking on the exercise and heard about the World Trade Center on my car radio. As soon as it was established that this was no accident, we went to a complete security mode.” Staff Sgt. Mark Williams of the Military District of Washington Engineer Company at Fort Belvoir also later says: “Ironically, we were conducting classes about rescue techniques when we were told of the planes hitting the World Trade Center.” Williams' team is one of the first response groups to arrive at the site of the Pentagon crash and one of the first to enter the building following the attack. [Connection Newspapers, 9/5/02] A previous MASCAL (mass casualty) training exercise was held at Fort Belvoir a little over two months earlier (see July 2001). It was “designed to enhance the first ready response in dealing with the effects of a terrorist incident involving an explosion.” [MDW News Service, 7/5/01] People and organizations involved: Mark Williams, Mark R. Lindon, World Trade Center, Fort Belvoir


8:30 a.m.: US Military Holding ‘Practice Armageddon’ Nationwide Training Exercise


As the 9/11 attacks are taking place, a large military training exercise called Global Guardian is said to be “in full swing.” It has been going on since the previous week. [Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02] Global Guardian is an annual exercise sponsored by US Strategic Command (Stratcom) in cooperation with US Space Command and NORAD. One military author defines Stratcom as “the single US military command responsible for the day-to-day readiness of America's nuclear forces.” [Arkin, 2005, pp 59] Global Guardian is a global readiness exercise involving all Stratcom forces and aims to test Stratcom's ability to fight a nuclear war. It is one of many “practice Armageddons” that the US military routinely stages. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/12/97; Associated Press, 2/21/02 (B); Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02] It links with a number of other military exercises, including Crown Vigilance (an Air Combat Command exercise), Apollo Guardian (a US Space Command exercise), and NORAD exercises Vigilant Guardian and Amalgam Warrior [Defense Department, 5/97; GlobalSecurity [.org], 10/10/02] Global Guardian is both a command post and field training exercise, and is based around a fictitious scenario designed to test the ability of Stratcom and its component forces to deter a military attack against the US. Hundreds of military personnel are involved. [Collins Center, 12/99; Times-Picayune, 9/8/02; Committee on Armed Services, 2000] According to a 1998 Internet article by the British American Security Information Council—an independent research organization—Global Guardian is held in October or November each year. [BASIC, 10/98] In his book Code Names, NBC News military analyst William Arkin dates this exercise for October 22-31, 2001. [Arkin, 2005, pp 379] And a military newspaper reported in March 2001 that Global Guardian was scheduled for October 2001. [Space Observer, 3/23/01, pp 2] If this is correct, then some time after March, the exercise must have been rescheduled for early September. Furthermore, there may be another important facet to Global Guardian. A 1998 Defense Department newsletter reported that for several years Stratcom had been incorporating a computer network attack (CNA) into Global Guardian. The attack involved Stratcom “red team” members and other organizations acting as enemy agents, and included attempts to penetrate the Command using the Internet and a “bad” insider who had access to a key command and control system. The attackers “war dialed” the phones to tie them up and sent faxes to numerous fax machines throughout the Command. They also claimed they were able to shut down Stratcom's systems. Reportedly, Stratcom planned to increase the level of computer network attack in future Global Guardian exercises. [IAnewsletter, 6/98] It is not currently known if a computer attack was incorporated into Global Guardian in 2001 or what its possible effects on the country's air defense system would have been if such an attack was part of the exercise. People and organizations involved: US Department of Defense, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Crown Vigilance, Apollo Guardian, US Space Command, Global Guardian, US Strategic Command, Vigilant Guardian, Amalgam Warrior


8:30 a.m.: FBI/CIA Anti-Terrorist Task Force Away From Washington on Training Exercise in California


USA Today reports that at this time, “a joint FBI/CIA anti-terrorist task force that specifically prepared for this type of disaster” is on a “training exercise in Monterey, Calif.” Consequently, “as of late Tuesday, with airports closed around the country, the task force still [hasn]'t found a way to fly back to Washington.” [USA Today, 9/11/01] The US politics website evote.com adds that the FBI has deployed “all of its anti-terrorist and top special operations agents at a training exercise (complete with all associated helicopters and light aircraft) in Monterey, California.” So at the time of the attacks, “the chief federal agency responsible for preventing such crimes [is] being AWOL.” [Evote [.com], 9/11/01] People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency


8:46 a.m.: Fighters Are Training over North Carolina; Not Recalled to Washington Until Much Later


At the time of the first WTC crash, three F-16s assigned to Andrews Air Force Base, ten miles from Washington, are flying an air-to-ground training mission to drop some bombs and hit a refueling tanker, on a range in North Carolina, 207 miles away from their base. However, it is only when they are halfway back to Andrews that lead pilot Major Billy Hutchison is able to talk to the acting supervisor of flying at Andrews, Lt. Col. Phil Thompson, who tells him to return to the base “buster” (as fast as his aircraft will fly). After landing back at Andrews, Hutchison is told to take off immediately, and does so at 10:33 a.m. The other two pilots, Marc Sasseville and Heather Penney, take off from Andrews at 10:42 a.m., after having their planes loaded with 20mm training rounds. These three pilots will therefore not be patrolling the skies above Washington until after about 10:45 a.m. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 56] F-16s can travel at a maximum speed of 1,500 mph. [Associated Press, 6/16/00] Traveling even at 1,100 mph (the speed NORAD Major General Larry Arnold says two fighters from Massachusetts travel toward Flight 175 [MSNBC, 9/23/01 (C); Slate, 1/16/02] ), at least one of these F-16s could have returned from North Carolina to Washington within ten minutes and started patrolling the skies well before 9:00 a.m. People and organizations involved: Billy Hutchison, Heather Penney Garcia, Phil Thompson, NBC, Marc Sasseville


8:48 a.m.: Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Preparing for Global Guardian Exercise When Attacks Start


Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana is an important node in the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian (see 8:30 a.m.) on 9/11. Colonel Mike Reese, director of staff for the 8th Air Force, is monitoring several television screens at the base as part of the exercise when he sees CNN cut into coverage of the first World Trade Center crash, two minutes after it happens. He watches live when the second plane hits the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. Reese says that at this point, “we knew it wasn't a mistake. Something grave was happening that put the nation's security at risk.” An article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune later recounts how awareness of the real attacks impacts those participating in the exercise: “Immediately [the Barksdale staff's] focus turned to defense, securing Barksdale, Minot [North Dakota], and Whiteman [Missouri] air force bases, where dozens of aircraft and hundreds of personnel were involved in the readiness exercise ‘Global Guardian.’ The exercise abruptly ended as the United States appeared to be at war within its own borders. Four A-10s, an aircraft not designed for air-to-air combat, from Barksdale's 47th Fighter Squadron, were placed on ‘cockpit alert,’ the highest state of readiness for fighter pilots. Within five minutes, the A-10s, equipped only with high intensity cannons, could have been launched to destroy unfriendly aircraft, even if it was a civilian passenger airliner.” Lt. Col. Edmund Walker, commander of the 47th Fighter Squadron, a novice pilot still in training, is sitting in his fighter along with other pilots in other fighters, ready to take off, when they are ordered back to the squadron office. They are told they are no longer practicing. Walker recalls, “We had to defend the base against any aircraft, airliner or civilian. We had no idea. Would it fly to the base and crash into the B-52s or A-10s on the flight line?” [Times-Picayune, 9/8/02] When President Bush's Air Force One takes off from Sarasota, Florida, at approximately 9:55 a.m., it has no destination, and circles over Florida aimlessly. But around 10:35 (see (10:35 a.m.)), it begins heading towards Barksdale Air Force Base. [CBS News, 9/11/02; Washington Post, 1/27/02] It finally arrives at Barksdale around 11:45 a.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; CBS News, 9/11/02] It's never been explained exactly why Bush traveled from Florida to Barksdale. The Daily Telegraph has reported, “The official reason for landing at Barksdale was that President Bush felt it necessary to make a further statement, but it isn't unreasonable to assume that—as there was no agreement as to what the President's movements should be—it was felt he might as well be on the ground as in the air.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] People and organizations involved: Offutt Air Force Base, James O. Ellis Jr, Mike Reese, Global Guardian, Eni


9:00 a.m.: 9/11-Styled Simulation Cancelled


An “emergency response exercise” is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. the morning of 9/11, involving the simulated crash of a small corporate jet plane into a government building. The exercise is to be conducted by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia—just four miles from Washington Dulles International Airport, from where Flight 77 took off, and 24 miles from the Pentagon. The NRO draws its personnel from the CIA and the military. The exercise is to involve the jet experiencing mechanical problems then crashing into one of the four towers at the NRO. In order to simulate the damage from the crash, some stairwells and exits are to be closed off, forcing NRO employees to find other ways to evacuate the building. However, according to an agency spokesman, “as soon as the real world events began, we cancelled the exercise.” After the attacks, most of the agency's 3,000 staff are supposedly sent home. [National Law Enforcement and Security Institute, 8/6/02; Associated Press, 8/21/02; UPI, 8/22/02] People and organizations involved: National Reconnaissance Office


Just Before 9:00 a.m.: Two Otis Fighters Take Off for Training Mission Over Ocean


A team in the 102nd Fighter Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, finishes loading dummy missiles onto two fighters that are going to fly a training mission over the Atlantic. They take off sometime before the second WTC tower is hit. Shortly after that hit, the fighters on the training mission are recalled. The implication is that the fighters are then refitted with actual weapons instead of dummy ones. [Cape Cod Times, 9/8/02] Otis is the base from which the two F-15s launch in response to the first hijacking (Flight 11) at roughly the same time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] One of the pilots of these F-15s—nicknamed “Nasty” —is reportedly standing in for the usual “alert” pilot, who is “scheduled for training” on 9/11. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02]


Before 9:00 a.m.: Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, is Directing Global Guardian Training Exercise


Admiral Richard Mies. Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska, appears to be the headquarters of the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian that is “in full swing” when the 9/11 attacks begin. At least the director of the exercise, Admiral Richard Mies, commander in chief of Stratcom, is at Offutt this morning. [Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02] Because of Global Guardian, bombers, missile crews, and submarines around America are all being directed from Stratcom's Command Center, a steel and concrete reinforced bunker below Offutt. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/12/97; Associated Press, 2/21/02 (B); Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; BBC, 9/1/02; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02] This bunker is staffed with top personnel and they are at a heightened security mode because of the exercise. [Associated Press, 2/21/02 (B); Air Force Weather Observer, 7/02] Because of Global Guardian, three special military command aircraft with sophisticated communications equipment, based at Offutt, are up in the air the morning of 9/11. These E-4B National Airborne Operations Center planes—nicknamed “Doomsday” planes during the Cold War—are intended to control nuclear forces from the air in times of crisis. They are capable of acting as alternative command posts for top government officials from where they can direct US forces, execute war orders and coordinate the actions of civil authorities in times of national emergency. The Federal Advisory Committee (whose chairman is retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft) is aboard one of these Doomsday planes, being brought to Offutt to observe the exercise. Media accounts indicate Global Guardian is cancelled at Offutt shortly after the second WTC tower is hit (at 9:03 a.m.), with staff switching to “real-world mode.” [Defense Department, 1/9/02; Air Force Weather Observer, 7/02; Omaha World-Herald, 9/8/02] However, even after Global Guardian is called off, the three E-4Bs remain airborne. [Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; BBC, 9/1/02] Also, the morning of 9/11, a small group of business leaders are at Offutt Air Force Base for a charity fundraiser event due to take place there later in the day, hosted by the multi-billionaire Warren Buffett. When the attacks begin, these visitors are having breakfast with Admiral Mies, the director of Global Guardian. After the second WTC tower is hit, Mies excuses himself from the group, presumably to assist in canceling the exercise. [San Francisco Business Times, 2/1/02; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02] People and organizations involved: Federal Advisory Committee, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Mies, Warren Buffet, Global Guardian


Before 9:00 a.m.: Army Base Outside New York Prepares for Terrorist Attack Exercise


Staff at Fort Monmouth, an Army base in New Jersey located about 50 miles south of New York City, is preparing to hold a “disaster drill” to test emergency response capabilities to a fake chemical attack. The exercise, called Timely Alert II, is to involve various law enforcement agencies and emergency personnel, including Fort Monmouth firefighters and members of the New Jersey State Police. Personnel are to be deployed and measures taken as in a real emergency. A notice has been sent out, warning that anyone not conducting official business will be turned away from Fort Monmouth during the exercise. Soon after 9 a.m., the exercise director tells a group of participating volunteers that a hijacked plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. The participants pretend to be upset, believing this is just part of the simulation. When they see the live televised footage of the WTC attacks, some people at the base think it is an elaborate training video to accompany the exercise. One worker tells a fire department training officer: “You really outdid yourself this time.” Interestingly, the follow-up exercise held in July 2002 (Timely Alert III) does incorporate simulated television news reports to give participants the impression that the emergency is real. And in the first Timely Alert exercise, held on the base in January 2001, a call had come through of a supposed “real” bomb situation, but this “fortunately turned out to be a report related to a training aid being used during the exercise.” On 9/11, Fort Monmouth is geared to go into high-alert status as part of Timely Alert II. The exercise is called off once the base is alerted to the real attacks. [Monmouth Message, 2/9/01; Hub, 9/21/01; Monmouth Message, 9/21/01; Asbury Park Press, 7/24/02; Monmouth Message, 8/23/02; US Army CECOM, 8/03; Monmouth Message, 9/12/03] Fort Monmouth is home to various Army, Defense Department, and other government agencies. The largest of these is the US Army's Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM). CECOM serves to “develop, acquire, field, and sustain superior information technologies and integrated systems for America's warfighters.” It is tasked with the “critical role of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR).” [CECOM website, 4/17/02; GlobalSecurity [.org], 8/02/04; CECOM brochure, 1/03] Fort Monmouth services also directly assist in the emergency response later in the day. Its fire department deploys to Atlantic Highlands to assist passengers coming from Manhattan by ferry, and members of its Patterson Army Health Clinic are also sent out to help. Teams of CECOM experts from the base are later deployed to ground zero in New York with equipment capable of locating cellular phone transmissions within the ruins of the collapsed World Trade Center. Its explosive ordnance company is also deployed to assist authorities should they come across anything they think might be explosives, while digging through the debris in search of victims. [Hub, 9/21/01 (B); Monmouth Message, 9/21/01] People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Army's Communications-Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, Timely Alert II


After 9:03 a.m.: NORAD Training Exercise Cancelled


NORAD Commander Larry Arnold later says that after Flight 175 hits the South Tower, “I thought it might be prudent to pull out of the exercise [presumably Vigilant Guardian (see (6:30 a.m.))], which we did.” He says: “As we pulled out of the exercise we were getting calls about United Flight 93 and we were worried about that.” Some early accounts say the military receives notification of the possible hijacking of Flight 93 at around 9:16 a.m. [CNN, 9/17/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 5/23/03] However, the 9/11 Commission later claims that the military first receives a call about Flight 93 at 10:07 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Larry Arnold adds, “Then we had another call from Boston Center about a possible hijacking, but that turned out to be the airplane that had already hit the South Tower but we didn't know that at the time.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 59] People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Larry Arnold


(9:09 a.m. and After): Numerous False Reports of Hijacked Aircraft


According to the 9/11 Commission, “During the course of the morning, there were multiple erroneous reports of hijacked aircraft in the system.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Around 9:09 a.m., the FAA Command Center reports that 11 aircraft are either not communicating with FAA facilities or flying unexpected routes. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] NORAD's Major General Larry Arnold claims that during the “four-hour ordeal” of the attacks, a total of 21 planes are identified as possible hijackings. [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 71; Code One magazine, 1/02] Robert Marr, head of NEADS on 9/11, says, “At one time I was told that across the nation there were some 29 different reports of hijackings.” [Newhouse News Service, 3/31/05] It is later claimed that these false reports cause considerable chaos. Larry Arnold says that particularly during the time between the Pentagon being hit at 9:37 and Flight 93 going down at around 10:06, “a number of aircraft are being called possibly hijacked ? There was a lot of confusion, as you can imagine.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 73] He says, “We were receiving many reports of hijacked aircraft. When we received those calls, we might not know from where the aircraft had departed. We also didn't know the location of the airplane.” [Code One magazine, 1/02] According to Robert Marr, “There were a number of false reports out there. What was valid? What was a guess? We just didn't know.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 73] People and organizations involved: Robert Marr, Larry Arnold, Federal Aviation Administration


9:28 a.m.: NORAD Possibly Holding ‘Live-Fly’ Training Exercise


According to former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, around this time the acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers tells him via video link: “We are in the middle of Vigilant Warrior, a NORAD exercise, but ... Otis [Air National Guard Base] has launched two birds toward New York.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 5] However, no other references have been found to this exercise, “Vigilant Warrior.” Considering that exercise terms are “normally an unclassified nickname,” [CJCSM, 4/23/98] this is perhaps a little odd. Could Richard Clarke have mistakenly been referring to the Vigilant Guardian exercise (see (6:30 a.m.)), which is taking place on 9/11? According to a later news report though, NORAD confirms that “it was running two mock drills on Sept. 11 at various radar sites and Command Centers in the United States and Canada,” one of these being Vigilant Guardian. [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 12/5/03] If this is correct then there must be another NORAD exercise on 9/11. If not “Vigilant Warrior,” a possibility is that the exercise referred to by Richard Clarke is in fact “Amalgam Warrior,” which is a NORAD-sponsored, large-scale, live-fly air defense and air intercept field training exercise. Amalgam Warrior usually involves two or more NORAD regions and is held twice yearly, in the spring for the West Coast and in the autumn for the East Coast. [Airman, 1996; GlobalSecurity [.org], 4/14/02; Committee on Armed Services, 2000; Arkin, 2005, pp 254] Is it possible that in 2001 the East Coast Amalgam Warrior is being held earlier than usual (like Global Guardian (see 8:30 a.m.)) and is taking place on 9/11? In support of this possibility is a 1997 Defense Department report that describes the Stratcom exercise Global Guardian, saying it “links with other exercise activities sponsored by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Unified Commands.” The exercises it links with are Crown Vigilance (an Air Combat Command exercise), Apollo Guardian (a US Space Command exercise), and—significantly—the NORAD exercises Vigilant Guardian and Amalgam Warrior. [Defense Department, 5/97; GlobalSecurity [.org], 10/10/02] Since in 2001, Vigilant Guardian (see (6:30 a.m.)) is occurring the same time as Global Guardian, might Amalgam Warrior be as well? In his book Code Names, William Arkin says that Amalgam Warrior is “sometimes combined with Global Guardian.” [Arkin, 2005, pp 254] Amalgam Warrior tests such activities as tracking, surveillance, air interception, employing rules of engagement, attack assessment, electronic warfare, and counter-cruise-missile operations. A previous Amalgam Warrior in 1996 involved such situations as tracking unknown aircraft that had incorrectly filed their flight plans or wandered off course, in-flight emergencies, terrorist aircraft attacks, and large-scale bomber strike missions. Amalgam Warrior 98-1 was NORAD's largest ever exercise and involved six B-1B bombers being deployed to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to act as an enemy threat by infiltrating the aerial borders of North America. [Airman, 1/96; GlobalSecurity [.org], 4/14/02; Arkin, 2005, pp 254] Another Amalgam Warrior in fall 2000 similarly involved four B-1 bombers acting as enemy forces trying to invade Alaska, with NORAD going from tracking the unknown aircraft to sending up “alert” F-15s in response. [Eielson News Service, 10/27/00; Associated Press, 10/29/00] If either one (or both) of these exercises ending with the name “Warrior” is taking place on 9/11, this could be very significant, because the word “Warrior” indicates that the exercise is a Joint Chiefs of Staff-approved, Commander in Chief, NORAD-sponsored field training exercise. [NORAD, 8/25/89] Real planes would be pretending to be threats to the US and real fighters would be deployed to defend against them. People and organizations involved: US Department of Defense, Richard B. Myers, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Richard A. Clarke, Amalgam Warrior, Ellington Air National Guard Base, Vigilant Guardian


Before 9:37 a.m.: Army Base near Pentagon Holding Air Field Fire Fighting Training


At the Education Center at Fort Myer, an army base 1.5 miles northwest of the Pentagon, the base's firefighters are undertaking training variously described as “an airport rescue firefighters class”; “an aircraft crash refresher class”; “a week-long class on Air Field Fire Fighting”; and a “training exercise in airport emergency operations.” Despite hearing of the first WTC crash during a break, with no access to a TV, the class simply continues with its training. According to Bruce Surette, who is attending the session: “We had heard some radio transmissions from some other units in Arlington about how they thought they had a plane down here or a plane down there. So you're thinking, ‘Hey this could be real.’ But it really didn't strike home as being real until our guy came on the radio and said where the plane crash was.” The Fort Myer firefighters then immediately head for the Pentagon, arriving there at 9:40 a.m., only three minutes after it is hit, and participate in the firefighting and rescue effort there. The fire station at the Pentagon heliport is actually operated by the Fort Myer Fire Department, and is manned on the morning of 9/11 by three Fort Myer firefighters who have already undertaken the airfield firefighting training. [MDW News Service, 10/4/01; Pentagram, 11/2/01; JEMS, 4/02; Arlington County After-Action Report, 7/02; First Due News, 4/1703] The Fort Myer military community, which includes Fort Myer and Fort Lesley J. McNair—another army base, just two miles east of the Pentagon—was scheduled to hold a “force protection exercise” the week after 9/11. However this has been cancelled, so just prior to the attacks the morning of September 11, “some of its participants [are] breathing a sigh of relief.” [Pentagram, 9/14/01] People and organizations involved: Fort Myer, Pentagon


After 9:55 a.m.: Ellington Fighters Airborne on Local Training Mission


Two F-16s from the 147th Fighter Wing, Ellington Air National Guard Base, Texas, are said to be already airborne on a local training mission when they are instructed to escort Air Force One after it departs Sarasota, Florida, with President Bush on board. [American Defender, 12/01; Code One magazine, 1/02] People and organizations involved: 147th Fighter Wing, Ellington Air National Guard Base, George W. Bush


Before 9:55 a.m.: AWACS Planes on Training Missions in Florida and Near Washington, DC


While President Bush is still in Sarasota, an AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System plane) is flying a training mission off the coast of Florida. Referring to the AWACS plane, NORAD Commander Larry Arnold later says: “I had set up an arrangement with their wing commander at Tinker [Air Force Base, Oklahoma] some months earlier for us to divert their AWACS off a normal training mission to go into an exercise scenario simulating an attack on the United States. The AWACS crew initially thought we were going into one of those simulations.” Another AWACS is also flying a training mission, near Washington, DC, the morning of 9/11. [Code One magazine, 1/02] People and organizations involved: Larry Arnold


2:50 p.m.: Bush Arrives in Nebraska; Enters Strategic Command Center


Having left Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana at around 1:30 p.m. (see (1:30 p.m.)), Air Force One lands at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. President Bush stays on the plane for about ten minutes before entering the United States Strategic Command bunker at 3:06 p.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] Offutt Air Force Base appears to be the headquarters of the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian that was “in full swing” at the time the attacks began (see 8:30 a.m.). While there, the president spends time in the underground Command Center from where Global Guardian was earlier being directed, being brought up to date on the attacks and their aftermath. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Washington Times, 10/8/02] People and organizations involved: Offutt Air Force Base, George W. Bush


(5:53 a.m.): Two Hijackers Caught on Video as They Board a Flight to Boston


Abdulaziz Alomari, right, and Mohamed Atta, left (in dark shirt), passing through security in the Portland, Maine, airport. Note the different times on the two time stamps, one in the middle, one at the bottom. Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari board a Colgan Air flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston, Massachusetts. A security camera captures Atta and Alomari going through security at the Portland airport. [Time, 9/24/01; FBI, 10/4/01; Miami Herald, 9/22/01; New York Daily News, 5/22/02]


(6:00 a.m.): Two Hijackers Fly to Boston


Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari's flight from Portland to Boston takes off. [FBI, 10/4/01] Two passengers later say Atta and Alomari board separately, keep quiet, and do not draw attention to themselves. [Washington Post, 9/16/01; Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/01]


(6:00 a.m.): Bush Interview or Assassination Attempt?


President Bush has just spent the night at Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida. Surface-to-air missiles have been placed on the roof of the resort (it is not known if this was typical of presidential security before 9/11, or if this was related to increased terror warnings). [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02] Bush wakes up around 6:00 a.m. and is preparing for his morning jog. [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B); Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; MSNBC, 10/27/02] A van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent arrives at the Colony Beach Resort, stating they have a “poolside” interview with the president. They do not have an appointment and they are turned away. [Longboat Observer, 9/26/01] Some question whether this was an assassination attempt modeled on the one used on Afghan leader Ahmed Massoud two days earlier. [Time, 8/4/02 (B)] Longboat Key Fire Marshal Carroll Mooneyhan was reported to have overheard the conversation between the men and the Secret Service, but he later denies the report. The newspaper that reported this, the Longboat Observer stands by its story. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04] Witnesses recall seeing Mohamed Atta in the Longboat Key Holiday Inn a short distance from where Bush was staying as recently as September 7, the day Bush's Sarasota appearance was publicly announced. [Longboat Observer, 11/21/01; St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04]


(6:30 a.m.): NORAD on Alert for Emergency Exercises


Dawne Deskins. Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins and other day shift employees at NEADS start their workday. NORAD is conducting a weeklong, large-scale exercise called Vigilant Guardian. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02] Deskins is regional mission crew chief for the Vigilant Guardian exercise. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Vigilant Guardian is described as “an exercise that would pose an imaginary crisis to North American Air Defense outposts nationwide”; as a “simulated air war”; and as “an air defense exercise simulating an attack on the United States.” According to the 9/11 Commission, it “postulated a bomber attack from the former Soviet Union.” [Newhouse News, 1/25/02; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 55 and 122; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/04, pp 458] Vigilant Guardian is described as being held annually, and is one of NORAD's four major annual exercises. [GlobalSecurity [.org] Vigilant Guardian page, 4/14/02; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 41; Code Names, by William M. Arkin, 1/05, pp 545] However, another report says it takes place semi-annually. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Accounts by participants vary on whether 9/11 was the second, third, or fourth day of the exercise. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02; Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02; Code One Magazine, 1/02] Vigilant Guardian is a command post exercise (CPX), and in at least some previous years was conducted in conjunction with Stratcom's Global Guardian exercise and a US Space Command exercise called Apollo Guardian. [Committee on Armed Services, undated; GlobalSecurity [.org] Vigilant Guardian page, 4/14/02; Code Names, by William M. Arkin, 1/05, pp 545] All of NORAD is participating in Vigilant Guardian on 9/11. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] At NEADS, most of the dozen or so staff on the operations floor have no idea what the exercise is going to entail and are ready for anything. [Utica Observer-Dispatch, 8/5/04] NORAD is also running a real-world operation named Operation Northern Vigilance. NORAD is thus fully staffed and alert, and senior officers are manning stations throughout the US. The entire chain of command is in place and ready when the first hijacking is reported. An article later says, “In retrospect, the exercise would prove to be a serendipitous enabler of a rapid military response to terrorist attacks on September 11.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; Bergen Record, 12/5/03] Colonel Robert Marr, in charge of NEADS, says, “We had the fighters with a little more gas on board. A few more weapons on board.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] However, Deskins and other NORAD officials later are initially confused about whether the 9/11 attacks are real or part of the exercise. There is a National Reconnaissance Office exercise planned to occur as well (see 9:00 a.m.), involving a scenario of an airplane as a flying weapon. [Associated Press, 8/21/02; UPI, 8/22/02] People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Vigilant Guardian, Operation Northern Vigilance, Dawne Deskins, Robert Marr


(6:30 a.m.): Hijackers Cause Scene in Airport, Have Pass to Restricted Airport Areas


A man has an argument with five Middle Eastern men over a parking space in the parking lot of Boston's Logan Airport. He reports the event later in the day and officials discover that the car was rented by Mohamed Atta. Inside the car, police find a ramp pass, which allows access to restricted airport areas. [News of the World, 9/16/01; Miami Herald, 9/22/01]


(6:30 a.m.): NORAD on Alert for Emergency Exercises


Dawne Deskins. Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins and other day shift employees at NEADS start their workday. NORAD is unusually prepared on 9/11 because it is conducting a weeklong, semi-annual exercise called Vigilant Guardian. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02] Deskins is regional Mission Crew Chief for the Vigilant Guardian exercise. [ABC News, 9/11/02] The exercise poses “an imaginary crisis to North American Air Defense outposts nationwide.” [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02] Accounts by participants vary on whether 9/11 was the second, third, or fourth day of the exercise. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02; Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02; Code One Magazine, 1/02] NORAD is also running another fighter exercise named Operation Northern Vigilance. NORAD is thus fully staffed and alert, and senior officers are manning stations throughout the US. The entire chain of command is in place and ready when the first hijacking is reported. An article later says, “In retrospect, the exercise would prove to be a serendipitous enabler of a rapid military response to terrorist attacks on September 11.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; Bergen Record, 12/5/03] ABC News later reports that because NORAD is “conducting training exercises [it has] extra fighter planes on alert.” [ABC News, 9/14/02] Colonel Robert Marr, in charge of NEADS, says, “We had the fighters with a little more gas on board. A few more weapons on board.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] However, Deskins and other NORAD officials later are initially confused about whether the 9/11 attacks are real or part of the exercise. There is a National Reconnaissance Office exercise planned to occur as well, involving a scenario of an airplane as a flying weapon. [Associated Press, 8/21/02; UPI, 8/22/02]


(6:31 a.m.): Bush Goes Jogging


The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, where Bush stays the night before 9/11. President Bush goes for a four-mile jog around the golf course at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort. [Washington Post, 1/27/02; MSNBC, 10/27/02; Washington Times, 10/7/02]


(6:45 a.m.): Israeli Company Given Two Hours' Notice of Attack


“Approximately two hours prior to the first attack,” at least two workers at Odigo, an Israeli-owned instant messaging company, receive messages warning of the attack. Odigo's US headquarters are located two blocks from the WTC. The source of the warning is unknown. [Washington Post, 9/28/01; Ha'aretz, 9/26/01]


6:47 a.m.: WTC Building 7 Alarm Not Operating


According to later reports, the alarm system in WTC 7 is placed on “TEST” status for a period due to last eight hours. This ordinarily happens during maintenance or other testing, and any alarms received from the building are generally ignored. [Nist Progress Report, 6/04, pp 28]


6:50 a.m.: Hijacker's Connecting Flight Arrives in Boston


Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomar's Portland-Boston flight arrives on time at Boston's Logan Airport. [Der Spiegel, 2002]


(7:00 a.m.-7:45 a.m.): Computer Screening Program Selects Some Hijackers; Fails to Stop Them


Sometime during this period, the hijackers pass through airport security checkpoints at the various airports. The FAA has a screening program in place called the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). CAPPS automatically targets passengers for additional screening based on suspicious behavior such as buying one-way tickets or paying with cash. If a passenger is selected, their bags are thoroughly screened for explosives, but their bodies are not searched. [Washington Post, 1/28/04] CAPPS selects three of the five Flight 11 hijackers. Since Waleed Alshehri checked no bags, his selection had no consequences. Wail Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami have their bags scanned for explosives, but are not stopped. No Flight 175 hijackers are selected. Only Ahmad Alhaznawi is selected from Flight 93. His bag is screened for explosives, but he is not stopped. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that Alhaznawi and Ahmed Alnami, also headed to Flight 93, have suspicious indicators and that they could have been linked to al-Qaeda upon inspection, but it has not been explained why or how. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04; Baltimore Sun, 1/27/04] Screening of the Flight 77 hijackers is described below.


7:18 a.m.: Hijack Suspects Set Off Airport Alarms; Allowed to Board Anyway


Hijackers in a Dulles Airport, Washington, security checkpoint, from left to right: Nawaf Alhazmi gets searched, Khalid Almihdhar, and Hani Hanjour. This picture of Hanjour doesn't seem to have much resemblance to the thin Hanjour in other photos. According to a security video apparently viewed by the 9/11 Commission, Flight 77 hijackers Majed Moqed and Khalid Almihdhar pass through a security checkpoint at Washington's Dulles International Airport. They are selected by the CAPPS program for closer inspection. While their carry-on bags fail to set off any alarms, both set off alarms when passing through the magnetometer. They are directed to a second magnetometer. Almihdhar passes, but Moqed fails again. He is subjected to a personal screening with a metal detection hand wand. This time he is cleared and he is permitted to pass through the checkpoint. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that Almihdhar's passport was “suspicious” and could have been linked to al-Qaeda upon inspection, but it has not been explained why or how. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04; Baltimore Sun, 1/27/04]


7:35 a.m.: More Hijackers Have Checkpoint Problems; Allowed to Board Anyway


Hijacker brothers Salem (white shirt) and Nawaf Alhazmi (dark shirt) pass through security in Dulles Airport in Washington. According to the 9/11 Commission's review of airport security footage, the remaining three Flight 77 hijackers pass through a security checkpoint at Dulles Airport. Hani Hanjour is selected for further inspection by the CAPPS program. His two carry-on bags fail to set off any alarms. One minute later, Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi enter the same checkpoint. They are selected for further inspection because one of them does not have photo identification nor is able to understand English and a security agent finds both of them suspicious. [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23/04] Salem Alhazmi successfully clears the magnetometer, and he is permitted through the checkpoint. Nawaf Alhazmi sets off the alarms for both the first and second magnetometers. He is subsequently subjected to a personal screening with a metal detection hand wand. He finally passes. His shoulder strap carry-on bag is swiped by an explosive trace detector and returned without further inspection. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that the Alhazmi brothers' passports had suspicious indicators, and that they could have been linked to al-Qaeda upon closer inspection. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04; Baltimore Sun, 1/27/04] To date, video footage of the Flight 77 hijackers has been released to the public, but none of the footage of other hijackers going through security has been.


(7:45 a.m.): Hijack Suspects' Bags Contain Airline Uniforms


Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari board Flight 11. Atta's bags are not loaded onto the plane in time and are later found by investigators. Investigators later find airline uniforms and many other remarkable items. [Boston Globe, 9/18/01] It is later reported that at least two other hijackers on Flight 11 use stolen uniforms and IDs to board the plane. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]


(Before 7:59 a.m.): Inter Flight Phone Call Between Hijackers


Hijacker Mohamed Atta on Flight 11 calls hijacker Marwan Alshehhi in Flight 175 as both planes sit on the runway. They presumably confirm the plot is on. [Time, 8/4/02 (B)]


(7:59 a.m.): Flight 11 Is Late Taking Off


Flight 11 takes off from Boston's Logan Airport, 14 minutes after its scheduled 7:45 departure time. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01; ABC News, 7/18/02; CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01; Guardian, 10/17/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); Newsday, 9/10/02; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]


(8:00 a.m.): Bush Receives Daily Intelligence Briefing


President Bush sits down for his daily intelligence briefing. “The president's briefing appears to have included some reference to the heightened terrorist risk reported throughout the summer,” but it contained nothing serious enough to cause Bush to call National Security Adviser Rice. The briefing ends around 8:20 a.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]


8:01 a.m.: Flight 93 Is Delayed for 41 Minutes


Flight 93 is delayed for 41 minutes on the runway in Newark, New Jersey. It will take off at 8:42 a.m. The Boston Globe credits this delay as a major reason why this was the only one of the four flights not to succeed in its mission. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01; Newsweek, 9/22/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01 (B)] Apparently, Flight 93 has to wait in a line of about a dozen planes before it can take off. [USA Today, 8/12/02]


(Between 8:13-8:21 a.m.): Flight 11 Transponder Turned Off


Flight controller Matt McCluskey stands in the Boston tower where the Flight 11 hijack was first detected. Shortly after flight controllers ask Flight 11 to climb to 35,000 feet, the transponder stops transmitting. A transponder is an electronic device that identifies a plane on a controller's screen and gives its exact location and altitude. Among other vital functions, it is also used to transmit a four-digit emergency hijack code. Flight control manager Glenn Michael later says, “We considered it at that time to be a possible hijacking.” [Associated Press, 8/12/02; Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01; MSNBC, 9/15/01] Initial stories after 9/11 suggest the transponder is turned off around 8:13 a.m., but Pete Zalewski, the flight controller handling the flight, later says the transponder is turned off at 8:20 a.m. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] The 9/11 Commission places it at 8:21 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Colonel Robert Marr, head of NEADS, claims the transponder is turned off some time after 8:30 a.m. where the Flight 11 hijack was first detected a.m. [ABC News, 9/11/02]


(8:13 a.m.): Flight 11 Hijacked, but Pilot Makes No Distress Call


Flight 11's manifest. Such details on other flights haven't been released. One version of where the hijackers and murdered passenger Daniel Lewin sat is marked, but there are competing versions of the seat numbers. The last routine communication takes place between ground control and the pilots of Flight 11 around this time. Flight controller Pete Zalewski is handling the flight. The pilot responds when told to turn right, but immediately afterwards fails to respond to a command to climb. Zalewski repeatedly tries to reach the pilot, even using the emergency frequency, but gets no response. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01; New York Times, 10/16/01; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Flight 11 is apparently hijacked around this time. One flight controller says the plane is hijacked over Gardner, Massachusetts, less than 50 miles west of Boston. [Nashua Telegraph, 9/13/01] The Boston Globe notes, “It appears that the hijackers' entry was surprising enough that the pilots did not have a chance to broadcast a traditional distress call.” It would only have taken a few seconds to press the right buttons. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Yet flight attendant Amy Sweeney appears to witness three of the hijackers storming the cockpit around 8:20 a.m. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01 (C)] This would imply that, at most, one or two hijackers enter the cockpit at this time, before the others do.


8:14 a.m.: Flight 175 Takes Off 16 Minutes Late


Flight 175 takes off from Boston's Logan Airport, 16 minutes after its scheduled 7:58 departure time. [Washington Post, 9/12/01; CNN, 9/17/01; Guardian, 10/17/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); Newsday, 9/10/02]


(After 8:14 a.m.-8:38 a.m.): Flight 11 Pilot Repeatedly Pushes Talk Back Button


John Ogonowski. At some unknown point after the hijacking begins, the talkback button is activated, which enables Boston flight controllers to hear what is being said in the cockpit. It is unclear whether John Ogonowski, the pilot of Flight 11, activates the talkback button, or whether a hijacker accidentally does so when he takes over the cockpit. A controller later says, “The button [is] being pushed intermittently most of the way to New York.” An article later notes that “his ability to do so also indicates that he [is] in the driver's seat much of the way” to the WTC. Such transmissions continue until about 8:38 a.m. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01; MSNBC, 9/15/01]


(8:15 a.m.): Flight Controllers Cannot Contact Flight 11


Two Boston flight controllers, Pete Zalewski and Lino Martins, discuss the fact that Flight 11 cannot be contacted. Zalewski says to Martins, “He won't answer you. He's nordo [no radio] roger thanks.” [CNN, 9/17/01; Guardian, 10/17/01; New York Times, 10/16/01 (C); MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)]


(8:20 a.m.): Flight 11 Attendant Sweeney Phones in Hijacking Details


Flight attendants Karen Martin and Barbara Arestegui are apparently stabbed early in the hijacking of Flight 11. Flight 11 attendant Amy (Madeline) Sweeney borrows a calling card from flight attendant Sara Low and uses an Airfone to call Boston's Logan Airport. She speaks to Michael Woodward, an American Airlines flight service manager. Because Woodward and Sweeney are friends, he does not have to verify the call is not a hoax. The call is not recorded, but Woodward takes detailed notes. [New York Observer, 2/11/04; ABC News, 7/18/02] She calmly tells Woodward, “Listen, and listen to me very carefully. I'm on Flight 11. The airplane has been hijacked.” [ABC News, 7/18/02] According to one account, she gives him the seat locations of three hijackers: 9D, 9G, and 10B. She says they are all of Middle Eastern descent, and one speaks English very well. [New York Observer, 2/11/04] Another account states that she identifies four hijackers (but still not the five said to be on the plane), and notes that not all the seats she gave matched up with the seats assigned to the hijackers on their tickets. [ABC News, 7/18/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01 (C)] She says she cannot contact the cockpit, and does not believe the pilots are flying the plane any longer. [New York Observer, 2/11/04] According to a later Los Angeles Times report, “Even as she was relating details about the hijackers, the men were storming the front of the plane and ‘had just gained access to the cockpit,’ ” (Note that Sweeney witnesses the storming of the cockpit at least seven minutes after radio contact from Flight 11 stops and at least one of the hijackers begins taking control of the cockpit.) [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01 (C)] She says the hijackers have stabbed the two first-class flight attendants, Barbara Arestegui and Karen Martin. She adds, “A hijacker cut the throat of a business-class passenger [later identified as Daniel Lewin], and he appears to be dead.” She also says the hijackers have brought a bomb into the cockpit. Woodward asks Sweeney, “How do you know it's a bomb?” She answers, “Because the hijackers showed me a bomb.” She describes its yellow and red wires. Sweeney continues talking with Woodward until Flight 11 crashes. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01; New York Observer, 2/11/04]


(8:20 a.m.): Boston Flight Control Thinks Flight 11 May Be Hijacked?


According to some reports, Boston flight control decides that Flight 11 has probably been hijacked, but apparently, it does not notify other flight control centers for another five minutes, and does not notify NORAD for approximately 20 minutes. [Newsday, 9/23/01; New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] ABC News will later say, “There doesn't seem to have been alarm bells going off, [flight] controllers getting on with law enforcement or the military. There's a gap there that will have to be investigated.” [ABC News, 9/14/01] (Note the conflicting account at 8:21 a.m.)


(8:20 a.m.): Flight 77 Takes Off 10 Minutes Late


Flight 77 departs Dulles International Airport near Washington, ten minutes after its 8:10 scheduled departure time. [CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01; Guardian, 10/17/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]


(8:20 a.m.): Flight 11 Veers Off Course


Flight 11 starts to veer dramatically off course. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)]


(Before 8:20 a.m.): Hijackers Attack Passenger on Flight 77


Daniel Lewin. Four hijackers get up from their seats and stab or shoot passenger Daniel Lewin, a multimillionaire who once belonged to the Israel Defense Force's Sayeret Matkal, a top-secret counterterrorist unit. Lewin is sitting in front of one of the three hijackers in business class. An initial FAA memo regarding the flight states that Satam Al Suqami shoots Lewin at 9:20 a.m. The time is certainly a typo; perhaps 8:20 a.m. is meant? The killing is mentioned in a phone call from the flight that starts at 8:20 a.m. [ABC News, 7/18/02; UPI, 3/6/02; Washington Post, 3/2/02 (B)]


8:20 a.m.: Flight 11 IFF Signal Transmission Stops


Flight 11 stops transmitting its IFF (identify friend or foe) beacon signal. [CNN, 9/17/01]


8:21 a.m.: Sweeney's Call Reaches American Headquarters, but Managers Cover Up the News


Amy (Madeline) Sweeney. American Airlines flight service manager Michael Woodward is listening to Flight 11 attendant Amy Sweeney on the telephone, and he wants to pass on the information he is hearing from her. Since there is no tape recorder, he calls Nancy Wyatt, the supervisor of pursers at Logan Airport. Holding telephones in both hands, he repeats to Wyatt everything that Sweeney is saying to him. Wyatt in turn simultaneously transmits his account to the airline's Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters. The conversation between Wyatt and managers at headquarters is recorded. All vital details from Sweeney's call reach American Airlines' top management almost instantly. However, according to victims' relatives who later hear this recording, the two managers at headquarters immediately begin discussing a cover-up of the hijacking details. They say, “don't spread this around. Keep it close,” “Keep it quiet,” and “Let's keep this among ourselves. What else can we find out from our own sources about what's going on?” One former American Airlines employee who has also heard this recording recalls, “In Fort Worth, two managers in SOC [Systems Operations Control] were sitting beside each other and hearing it. They were both saying, ‘Do not pass this along. Let's keep it right here. Keep it among the five of us.’ ” Apparently, this decision prevents early and clear evidence of a hijacking from being shared during the crisis. Gerard Arpey, American Airlines' executive vice president for operations, soon hears details of the hijacking from flight attendant Betty Ong's phone call at 8:30 a.m., but apparently, he does not learn of Sweeney's call until much later. Victims' relatives will later question whether lives could have been saved if only this information had been quickly shared with other airplanes. [New York Observer, 6/17/04]


(8:21 a.m.): Flight 11 Attendant Ong Phones in Hijack Report, Officials Doubt Validity


Betty Ong. Flight 11 attendant Betty Ong calls Vanessa Minter, an American Airlines reservations agent in North Carolina, using a seatback Airfone from the back of the plane. Ong speaks to Minter and an unidentified man for about two minutes. Then supervisor Nydia Gonzales is patched in to the conference call as well. Ong says, “The cockpit's not answering. Somebody's stabbed in business class and ... I think there's mace ... that we can't breathe. I don't know, I think We're getting hijacked.” A minute later, she continues, “And the cockpit is not answering their phone. And there's somebody stabbed in business class. And there's ... we can't breathe in business class. Somebody's got mace or something ... I'm sitting in the back. Somebody's coming back from business. If you can hold on for one second, they're coming back.” As this quote shows, other flight attendants relay information from the front of the airplane to Ong sitting in the back, and she periodically waits for updates. She goes on, “I think the guys are up there [in the cockpit]. They might have gone there—jammed the way up there, or something. Nobody can call the cockpit. We can't even get inside.” The first four and a half minutes of the call is later played in a public 9/11 Commission hearing. Ong apparently continues speaking to Gonzales and Minter until the plane crashes. [New York Observer, 2/11/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey, who has heard more recordings than have been made public, says that some officials on the ground greet her account skeptically: “They did not believe her. They said, ‘Are you sure?’ They asked her to confirm that it wasn't air-rage. Our people on the ground were not prepared for a hijacking.” [New York Times, 4/18/04]


(8:21 a.m.): Boston Controller Suspects Something Seriously Wrong with Flight 11, but NORAD Not Notified


Boston flight controller Pete Zalewski, handling Flight 11, sees that the flight is off course and that the plane has turned off both transponder and radio. Zalewski later claims he turns to his supervisor and says, “Would you please come over here? I think something is seriously wrong with this plane. I don't know what. It's either mechanical, electrical, I think, but I'm not sure.” When asked if he suspected a hijacking at this point, he replies, “Absolutely not. No way.” According to the 9/11 Commission, “the supervisor instructed the controller [presumably Zalewski] to follow standard operating procedures for handling a ‘no radio’ aircraft once the controller told the supervisor the transponder had been turned off.” Another flight controller, Tom Roberts, has another nearby American Airlines flight try to contact Flight 11. There is still no response. The flight is now “drastically off course” but NORAD is still not notified. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Note that this response contradicts flight control manager Glenn Michael's assertion that Flight 11 was considered a possible hijacking as soon as the transponder was discovered turned off.


(8:23 a.m.): Flight 11 Attendant Ong's Hijacking Account Forwarded to American Airlines Headquarters


Nydia Gonzalez, an American Airlines supervisor with expertise on security matters, is patched in to a call with flight attendant Betty Ong on Flight 11. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] At 8:27 a.m., Gonzalez calls Craig Marquis, a manager at American Airlines' headquarters. Gonzalez holds the phone to Ong to one ear, and the phone to Marquis to the other. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01; New York Observer, 2/11/04] Gonzalez talks to Marquis continuously until Flight 11 crashes. The first four minutes of this call are later played before the 9/11 Commission. Marquis quickly says, “I'm assuming they've declared an emergency. Let me get ATC [air traffic control] on here. Stand by. ... Okay, We're contacting the flight crew now and We're ... We're also contacting ATC.” In the four recorded minutes, Gonzalez relays that Ong is saying the hijackers from seats 2A and 2B are in the cockpit with the pilots. There are no doctors on board. All the first class passengers have been moved to the coach section. The airplane is flying very erratically. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04]


(8:24 a.m.): Boston Flight Controllers Hear Flight 11 Hijacker: We Have Some Planes


Because the talkback button on Flight 11 has been activated, Boston flight controllers can hear a hijacker on Flight 11 say to the passengers: “We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you will be OK. We are returning to the airport.” Flight controller John Zalewski responds, “Who's trying to call me?” The hijacker continues, “Everything will be OK. If you try to make any moves you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.” [Guardian, 10/17/01; New York Times, 10/16/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Boston Globe, 11/23/01; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); New York Times, 9/12/01; Channel 4 News, 9/13/01] Immediately after hearing this voice, Zalewski “knew right then that he was working a hijack” and calls for his supervisor. The frequency of Flight 11 is played on speakers so everyone in Boston flight control can hear. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); Village Voice, 9/13/01]


(8:24 a.m.): Flight 11 Turns, Many Watch It on Primary Radar


Boston flight control radar sees Flight 11 making an unplanned 100-degree turn to the south (the plane is already way off course). Flight controllers never lose sight of the flight, though they can no longer determine altitude once the transponder is turned off. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01] Before this turn, the FAA had tagged Flight 11's radar dot for easy visibility and, at American Airlines headquarters at least, “All eyes watched as the plane headed south. On the screen, the plane showed a squiggly line after its turn near Albany, then it straightened.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01] Boston flight controller Mark Hodgkins later says, “I watched the target of American 11 the whole way down.” [ABC News, 9/6/02] However, apparently, NEADS has different radar. When they are finally told about the flight, they cannot find it. Boston has to update NEADS on Flight 11's position periodically by telephone until NEADS finally finds it a few minutes before it crashes into the WTC. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; ABC News, 9/11/02; Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02]


8:25 a.m.: Boston Flight Control Tells Other Centers About Hijack, but Not NORAD


The Guardian reports that Boston flight control “notifies several air traffic control centers that a hijack is taking place.” But it does not notify NORAD for another 6-15 minutes, depending on the account. [Guardian, 10/17/01] However, the Indianapolis flight controller monitoring Flight 77 claims to not know about this or Flight 175's hijacking twenty minutes later at 8:56 a.m. Additionally, the flight controllers at New York City's La Guardia airport are never told about the hijacked planes and learn about them from watching the news. [Bergen Record, 1/4/04]


(Between 8:27-8:30 a.m.): Ong Gives Flight 11 Details; Seating Accounts Differ


Craig Marquis, listening to information coming from flight attendant Betty Ong on Flight 11, calls American Airlines' system operations control center in Fort Worth. He says, “She said two flight attendants had been stabbed, one was on oxygen. A passenger had his throat slashed and looked dead and they had gotten into the cockpit.” He relays that Ong said the four hijackers had come from first-class seats: 2A, 2B, 9A, and 9B. She said the wounded passenger was in seat 10B. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Note that this conflicts with the seats flight attendant Amy Sweeney gives for the hijackers at about the same time: 9D, 9G, and 10B. By 8:27 a.m., this information is passed to Gerard Arpey, the effective head of American Airlines that morning. By 9:59 a.m., counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and other top officials receive the information. [Clarke, 2004, pp 13-14]


(Before 8:26 a.m.): Hijackers Identified by Seat Locations


Having been told by flight attendant Amy Sweeney the seat locations of three hijackers, A


http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-military-drills-of-september-11th-why-a-new-investigation-is-needed/6906

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