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Scambled messages no fighters

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The Bunker
George Szamuely
Scrambled Messages

There remains one question to ask about Sept. 11. What happened? We know the story. Terrorists hijacked four passenger jets. At 8:45 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston smashes into the World Trade Center’s north tower. At 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston smashes into the south tower. At 9:40 a.m., AA Flight 77 from Dulles hits the Pentagon. At 10:10 a.m., United Flight 93 from Newark crashes in Shanksville, PA.

Yet the most amazing feature of the U.S. government’s response to these events was the almost complete absence of it. Jared Israel on his website has blazed a trail with fascinating and meticulous research.

Initial reports suggested that no aircraft were scrambled to intercept or shoot down the hijacked jets. Two days later Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, current chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told the Senate Armed Services Committee: "When it became clear what the threat was, 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." Marine Corps Maj. Mike Snyder, a spokesman for NORAD, echoed Myers in a Sept. 15 Boston Globe story, which stated: "[T]he command did not immediately scramble any fighters even though it was alerted to a hijacking 10 minutes before the first plane…slammed into the first World Trade Center tower... The spokesman said the fighters remained on the ground until after the Pentagon was hit..." U.S. inaction was all the more astonishing because the same story had Snyder admitting that "fighters routinely intercept aircraft."

So why were no fighters dispatched to intercept planes on an extraordinary day like Sept. 11? Within days the story changed and it turned out that two F-15 fighters had in fact been scrambled from Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod, MA. Whether this took place before or after the first tower was struck is not clear. In any case it was too late to make a difference. When the second tower was hit the fighters were still 70 miles from Manhattan. We also learned that two F-16 fighters had been scrambled from Langley Air Force Base to try to intercept Flight 77, but they also arrived too late. In fact, they only took off from Langley two minutes before the Boeing 757 smashed into the Pentagon.

There are a number of problems with this story. In the first place, 45 minutes had elapsed from the time the air traffic controllers lost contact with Flight 77 and its crash into the Pentagon. On Sept. 15 The New York Times reported: "Flight 77…would have been visible on the F.A.A.’s radar system as it reversed course in the Midwest…to fly back to Washington. The radars would have observed it even though its tracking beacon had been turned off."

There is an even more troubling question. Why were the fighters dispatched from Langley, more than 130 miles from the Pentagon, rather than Andrews Air Force Base–a mere 10 miles away? Early media reports suggested that there were no available aircraft at Andrews that day.

This is bizarre to say the least. First, if there were no fighter aircraft available that day at Andrews, how did they miraculously make their appearance over the DC sky after the Pentagon was struck? Yet this is what NBC reported on Sept. 11, as did other news outlets. Moreover, Andrews AFB is responsible for air defense around Washington. The DC Air National Guard is based there, which is equipped with F-16s. The 113th Wing is based there. According to the Andrews website: "Training for air combat and operational airlift for national defense is the 113th’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." You can’t get more emergency than Sept. 11!

Then there is the mystery of United Flight 93. In the Seattle Times of Sept. 16, Maj. Gen. Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, is quoted as saying that "[n]o Air National Guard or other military planes were scrambled to chase the fourth hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 93." No military planes were scrambled! Remember, this plane came crashing down in Pennsylvania almost an hour and a half after the first tower was struck.

Damage control was once again in operation. The Boston Herald of Sept. 15 had Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz announcing "that the Air Force was tracking the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on Tuesday after other airliners slammed into the Pentagon and World Trade Center and had been in a position to bring it down if necessary." So why was it not brought down? Or at the very least intercepted? Three key buildings had been attacked. And there is still no emergency!

Happily, the war against the Taliban managed to push these questions out of the papers. For now.

Volume 14, Issue 50

67 af scrambles year before 911
67 fighter chase suspicious aircraft year before 911
911 coup operated by cheney
911 panel set to detail flaws in air defenses { April 25 2004 }
Af guilty 911 { November 14 2001 }
Af pentagon tracked 1999 flight { October 26 1999 }
Af scrambled from andrews airforce base
Af standdown
Af there 5 minutes
Air security seriously flawed commission says { July 23 2004 }
Airforce chasing phantoms { June 18 2004 }
Airforce tries to explain mystery plane on 911 { September 12 2007 }
Andrews air force intercepts stray plane 2003
Andrews fighters intercept in 2005 threat { June 29 2005 }
Cheney erroneously scrambled langley jets { June 18 2004 }
Cheney stand down order { May 23 2003 }
Cheney told bush air force one is in danger
Colonel marr refused aircraft on 911
Commision probe failures of air defenses { June 1 2004 }
Complain airline emergency procedures 911 lawsuit { March 31 2003 }
Delay notifying law enforcement to be investigated { September 14 2001 }
Faa considered possible hijacking
Faa regulation loss radar
Fighters 8 minutes away
Flight 11 controllers tale { September 13 2001 }
Flight 11 loses contact 814 am { October 17 2001 }
Insiders misdirect military { May 27 2002 }
Jeb bush plane intercepted
Jesse ventura wonders about air force response { July 1 2005 }
Jets from langley sent towards atlantic ocean
Jets kept armed and fueled by NORAD { June 15 2004 }
Jets took to skies { August 29 2002 }
No planes ready 911 { August 29 2002 }
Norad informed 840 am
Norad not instantly notified
Norad not notified { August 12 2002 }
Norad ready { September 19 2001 }
Norad response google cache [htm]
Norad response times [jpg]
Norad thought hijacking excercise
Otis base 153 miles away { August 30 2002 }
Panel hears ciritic delays in air defenses on 911 { June 1 2004 }
Panelsubpoenas norad airforce response
Payne stewart jets scrambled { October 26 1999 }
Pentagon deceives commission on 911 response { August 2 2006 }
Planes not scrambled { September 11 2001 }
Planes take off from andrews { May 24 2003 }
Post 911 practice downing hijacked jets { October 3 2003 }
Prepared to order aircraft shoot down
Private plane in 1999 gets jet fighter escort { October 26 1999 }
Probe reconstructs horror
Radar lost pentagon flight 77
Response to attacks { June 3 2002 }
Scambled messages no fighters
Scrambled jets on 911 { September 15 2001 }
Scrambled messages
Shoot down order issued
Shootdown order given
Shootdown order never given to pilots { June 18 2004 }
Sonic boom scrambled jets { January 25 2003 }
Transcript flight 11 { October 16 2001 }
Two faa executives lied to 911 commission { September 2 2006 }
Two jets from andrews { February 6 2003 }
Two jets from andrews { July 26 2002 }
Where was the air force { September 11 2001 }
White house orders all military machines down

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