9-11 Timeline: minute-by-minute Stand Down from Incompetence or Complicity?
From the morning of September 11th, official explanations for how three planes managed to fly into their respective targets without being shadowed by United States Air Force jets engaged in standard, aerial reconnaissance as per all the rules in the book, is simply not credible.
What is most revealing about the four hijacked flight timelines of September 11th is that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations of standard intercept procedures for dealing with these kinds of situations have been in force and on-line for decades in the United States, 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Air Traffic Controller (ATC) procedures are explicit and unambiguous: if a plane goes two miles off course, that is an emergency situation. Since 9-11 we have not needed new laws; we needed for the existing laws to be adhered to. Last December, R. Anderson posted a summary of rules governing Instrument flight rules (IFR) requirements on the net with links to specific FAA and other U.S. government agencies' documentation.
The following excerpts are quoted from Paul Thompson's exemplary research work, "The Complete 9-11 Timeline."  At some point in the past, this work would have been investigated and produced by members of the press. It is unfortunate that in this era of corporate governance, this caliber of independent thinking and journalism is rarely published. Thompson's reasoning is articulate and well-considered. As he points out in the introduction:
The mainstream media is the one that's failed to "connect the dots". There are an amazing amount of intriguing news stories that have squeaked into the media but not reached a wide audience, and/or have not been properly followed up or placed into context. I haven't seen anything that pulls it all together, so I've felt compelled to make this.
You might call some or all of this "conspiracy theory." The term "conspiracy theory" is bandied about to discredit ideas that run counter to what is widely believed. But sometimes the official story turns out to be a lie -- look at what the Nixon Administration was claiming and the press generally reporting when the Watergate story was in its early stages, for instance. The alternative to conspiracy is coincidence theory. At some point, when enough "dots" line up, the thought that everything is just coincidence becomes the wildest theory of all.
To be honest, I don't know exactly what happened on 9-11. I have my theories and hunches, but its an extremely complicated plot, and there are a number of plausible explanations for part or all of the story's aspects. Also, I don't want to force my ideas down your throat. I'm using the timeline to draw attention to interesting stories that you may not have read. I have tried to let the stories speak for themselves, and reduce my voice as much as possible. When I do add my own comments, I put those at the end of a summary in question form and in italics. I hope you come to your own conclusions.
Two-and-half centuries ago in the thirteen colonies this sort of thinking and ensuing action lead to the American Revolution. Our present era in human history is defined by a more critical set of crisis elements than what the forerunners of the United States faced. The old ways no longer work. Those who believe might-makes-right are attempting to retain their influence and control over economic and political structures of power through naked force, omission, misrepresentation and deception. Operating from a worldview that believes violence can be controlled by increasing scale-of-magnitudes of firepower and technologically sophisticated weaponry shows that we are dealing with people who are informed and motivated by lethally irrational and unconscious assumptions.
It is up to each of us, to be our own leader, to find out for ourselves what the facts are and learn what truths may be discerned about how our world operates. Thompson's acknowledgement regarding the complexity and interconnections comprising our world resonates with the common sense Thomas Paine emphasized.
This document I have made is veeeeery, very long. Its chock-full of information and may be difficult to get through. You may want to tackle a bit at a time . . . But 9-11 was possibly one of the most pivotal events in world history, and its impact will be felt on all of our lives for years to come. You owe it to yourself to go beyond the sound bites and the simplified official story. This is an extremely complicated story with numerous players and motives. Not everything makes sense or fits neatly together. Its a story full of espionage, deceit, and brazen lies. But if there are forces out there tricking us, they can only succeed if we, the general public, remain ignorant and passive.
The Complete 9/11 Timeline is presented on the Center For Cooperative Research website which uses frames to display its contents. Although they are an expedient method where quick site creation is concerned, frames are ill-conceived for ease of navigation and accessibility. You may find the active mirrors of Paul's work at http://billstclair.com/911timeline/ and http://www.unansweredquestions.net/timeline/ are more accessible and easy to navigate. (The following excerpts link to http://billstclair.com/911timeline/.)
Sections of the Timeline:
Here then are excerpts from "Part 3: Day of 9/11":
This timeline analyzes the events of 9/11 minute by minute. What's the point of such detail? Perhaps the greatest "smoking gun" that shows the Bush Administration knowing about the 9/11 beforehand and not acting is what they DIDN'T do on 9/11. Just how slow was the government's response? Was it criminally slow? Every minute counts in determining this, which is why there is controversy on exactly when so many events took place. I have tried to include as many difference sources for timing as I can, that appear to be independent and not just repeating what someone else said.
Approximate times are marked in parentheses.
Points to keep in mind when you read the below:
The scrambling of fighter aircraft at the first sign of trouble is a routine phenomenon. Between 9/11 and June, 2002, jets were scrambled after aircraft 462 times. Obviously there was great nervousness after 9/11, but in the same time period the year before, fighters were still scrambled 67 times. [AP, 8/13/02]
"Consider that an aircraft emergency exists . . . when: . . . There is unexpected loss of radar contact and radio communications with any . . . aircraft." [FAA regulations]
"If . . . you are in doubt that a situation constitutes an emergency or potential emergency, handle it as though it were an emergency." [FAA regulations]
"Pilots are supposed to hit each fix with pinpoint accuracy. If a plane deviates by 15 degrees, or two miles from that course, the flight controllers will hit the panic button. Theyll call the plane, saying "American 11, youre deviating from course." Its considered a real emergency, like a police car screeching down a highway at 100 miles an hour. When golfer Payne Stewarts incapacitated Learjet missed a turn at a fix, heading north instead of west to Texas, F-16 interceptors were quickly dispatched." [MSNBC, 9/12/01]
"A NORAD spokesman says its fighters routinely intercept aircraft. When planes are intercepted, they typically are handled with a graduated response. The approaching fighter may rock its wingtips to attract the pilot's attention, or make a pass in front of the aircraft. Eventually, it can fire tracer rounds in the airplane's path, or, under certain circumstances, down it with a missile." [Boston Globe, 9/15/01]
"In October, Gen. Eberhart told Congress that `now it takes about one minute' from the time that the FAA senses something is amiss before it notifies NORAD. And around the same time, a NORAD spokesofficer told the Associated Press that the military can now scramble fighters `within a matter of minutes to anywhere in the United States.'" [Slate, 1/16/02]
The commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, Anatoli Kornukov said the day after 9/11: "Generally it is impossible to carry out an act of terror on the scenario which was used in the USA yesterday . . . As soon as something like that happens here, I am reported about that right away and in a minute we are all up." [Pravda, 9/12/01]
Supposedly, on 9/11, there are only 4 fighters on ready status in the Northeastern US, and only 14 fighters on ready status in the entire US. [BBC, 8/29/02]
American Airlines Flight 11
- Left Boston at 7:59, crashed into north tower, 1 World Trade Center (WTC) at 8:46.
United Airlines Flight 175
- Left Boston at 8:14, crashed into south tower 2 WTC at 9:03
American Airlines Flight 77
- Left Washington DC at 8:20, crashed into the Pentagon at 9:41
United Airlines Flight 93
- Left Newark at 8:42, crashed about 80 miles sw of Pittsburgh at 10:06
(At 8:20) Flight 11 starts to veer dramatically off course around this time. [USA Today flight path image, on this page] Recall that if a plane goes two miles off course, that is an emergency situation. [MSNBC, 9/12/01]
(At 8:20) Boston flight control decides that Flight 11 has probably been hijacked, but they don't notify other air traffic control centers for another 5 minutes, and don't notify NORAD for about another 20 minutes. ["about 8:20," Newsday, 9/23/01, "about 8:20," New York Times, 9/15/01] ABC News will later say of this, "There doesn't seem to have been alarm bells going off, traffic 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] Did the controllers really decide this now, or did they do it at 8:15, when they determined the flight was not responding and had turned off its transponder?
At 8:24 the pilot of Flight 11, John Ogonowski, activates the talk-back button, enabling Boston air traffic controllers to 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." A controller 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." [8:24:38, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:24:38, New York Times, 10/16/01, 8:24, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, 8:28 New York Times, 9/12/01, before 8:28, Channel 4 News, 9/13/01] Immediately after hearing this voice, the controller "knew right then that he was working a hijack." [Village Voice, 9/13/01] The transponder beacon and radio have been off for 9 minutes, the flight has been off course for about 4 minutes and only now he knows its a hijack? Yet still, no one notifies NORAD for another 14 minutes?
At 8:25 Boston air traffic controllers notify other air traffic control centers of the Flight 11 hijacking, but supposedly they don't notify the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) for another 13 minutes. [8:25:00, Guardian, 10/17/01] Doesn't it seem logical that NORAD was notified at this time along with everyone else, but they claim otherwise to cover up the lack of sending any fighters after the plane in response? Note that this means the controllers working Flight 77 and Flight 93 would have been aware of Flight 11's hijacking from this time. [Village Voice, 9/13/01]
At 8:28 Boston Air Traffic Control radar sees Flight 11 making an unplanned 100 degree turn to the south (they're already way off-course). Flight controllers say they never lost sight of the flight, though they could no longer determine altitude once the transponder was turned off. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01] However, in other media reports, "Boston airport officials said they did not spot the plane's course until it had crashed, and said the control tower had no unusual communication with the pilots or any crew members." [Washington Post, 9/12/01] The lack of unusual communication is an incredible lie, as other prior entries show. 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] Why such blatant lies? They expect people to believe they didn't know the flight was a hijacking until after it crashed? Why should the same people be expected to tell the truth about other incidents of the day?
(At 8:38) Boston Air Traffic Control supposedly notifies NORAD that Flight 11 has been hijacked. This is 23 minutes after traffic control noticed the plane had its transponder beacon and radio turned off. [8:40, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:38, Washington Post, 9/12/01] Such a delay in notification would be in strict violation of regulations. Doesn't it seem at least plausible that NORAD was notified long before this, but did absolutely nothing in response, and then fudged the official times to hide their criminal behavior?
At 8:41 the pilots of Flight 175 tell ground control, "We figured we'd wait to go to your center. We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure out of Boston. Someone keyed the mike and said: `Everyone stay in your seats.' It cut out." [Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:41:32, New York Times, 10/16/01] Alternate version, "We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure from B-O-S [Boston's airport code]. Sounds like someone keyed the mike and said, `Everyone, stay in your seats.'" [Boston Globe, 11/23/01]
At 8:42 Flight 175 veers from its official course. ["Within 90 seconds" of the above item, Boston Globe, 11/23/01] (CNN had an early report that the deviation happened at 8:50, but that's probably when the plane, already off-course, made a complete u-turn north.) [CNN, 9/17/01]
At 8:42 a flight controller says of Flight 175, ". . . looks like he's heading southbound but there's no transponder no nothing and no one's talking to him." [New York Times, 10/16/01]
At 8:43 NORAD is notified that Flight 175 has been hijacked. [8:43, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:43, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:43, Washington Post, 9/12/01] Note that this means the controllers working Flight 77 and Flight 93 would have been aware of both Flight 175 and Flight 11's hijacking from this time.
At 8:46 According to Robert Marr, commander of NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), NORAD is unable to find the location of Flight 11. Finally, someone sees a "green dot that's not identified. Almost as soon as it's discovered, it disappears. It's 8:46 a.m." At the time, "there are no other missing aircraft." But then, at 9:02, they see a second unidentified aircraft on a screen, which is Flight 175 crashing into the WTC. The whole time, NORAD staff "were constantly on the phone with the FAA, airlines and others, looking for clues. `If we could get good last-known-positions and tail numbers, that would help the fighters pick out the right aircraft,'" says one staff member. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Recall this from a previous entry: Before a turn at 8:28, the FAA had tagged Flight 11's radar dot for easy visibility, and at American Airlines headquarters, "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] So American Airlines says Flight 11 was never lost, and this corresponds with other reports. For instance, "Controllers scrambled to direct other planes out of the way of both United 175 and American Airlines Flight 11", and several collisions were barely averted. [Washington Post, 9/17/01] The airlines would have no reason to lie about this, NORAD would have a very big reason to lie.
(At 8:46) Flight 77 from Washington goes severely off course. It heads due north for a while then flies due south and gets back on course. [see USA Today's Flight 77 flight path] It was off course by around 15 miles, and stayed off course for about 5 minutes. According to regulations a fighter should have scrambled to see what was going on, regardless of any excuses from the pilot.
(After 8:46) "During the hour or so that American Airlines Flight 77 was under the control of hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side of the Pentagon, military officials in a command center on the east side of the [Pentagon] were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do." [New York Times, 9/15/01] Since the Pentagon was struck around 9:41, this means that shortly after the first signs of trouble, the military knew that Flight 77 was hijacked, even though, supposedly, NORAD is not notified until 9:24.
At 8:46 Flight 11 slams into the north tower, 1 World Trade Center. Investigators believe it still had about 10,000 gallons of fuel and was traveling 470 mph. [New York Times, 9/11/02] Approximately 2662 people are killed on the ground between this crash and the crash of Flight 175. [AP, 8/19/02] [ 8:45, CNN, 9/12/01, 8:45, New York Times, 9/12/01, 8:46, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:46, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:46, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:47:00, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:48, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 8:46:26, New York Times, 9/11/02, 8:46:26, seismic records]
At 8:46 Air Force General and acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers later claims that he is in Washington, talking to Senator Max Cleland at this time. A few minutes later, he sees a television report that a plane had hit the WTC, but he claims, "They thought it was a small plane or something like that," so he goes back to his call. He remains oblivious to what is happening until after the Pentagon is hit almost an hour later. [American Forces Press Service, 10/23/01] Yet, in testimony on Sept. 13, he states, "after the second tower was hit, I spoke to the commander of NORAD, General Eberhart. And at that point, I think the decision was at that point to start launching aircraft." [Myers Confirmation Testimony, 9/13/01] Doesn't that expose his first story that he didn't know what was happening until later as a lie? If the second statement is true, then doesn't that make all the details of planes being scrambled before 9:03 all lies?
At 8:46, the time of the first WTC crash, 3 F-16's assigned to Andrews Air Force Base 10 miles from Washington are flying an air-to-ground training mission on a range in North Carolina, 207 miles away. Eventually they are recalled to Andrews and land there at some point after Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] F-16's can travel a maximum speed of 1500 mph. Traveling even at 1250 mph, at least one of the F-16's could have returned to Washington within 10 minutes and started patrolling the skies well before 9:00 A.M. Why were they recalled so late, and then ordered back to base (and then to take off again) instead of being sent straight to Washington?
(After 8:46) According to NORAD command director Capt. Michael H. Jellinek, at some point not long after the first WTC hit, telephone links are established with the National Military Command Center (NMCC) located inside the Pentagon, Canada's equivalent command center, Strategic Command, theater Cincs and federal emergency-response agencies. An Air Threat Conference Call is initiated. At one time or another, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and key military officers are heard on the open line. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02]
At 8:50 the last radio contact with Flight 77 is made when the pilots ask for clearance to fly higher. But then they fail to respond to a routine instruction. [Guardian, 10/17/01, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, 8:50:51, New York Times, 10/16/01] Note that normal communications continues with Flight 77 about 4 minutes after the plane went significantly off course, suggesting the original pilot continued to fly the plane for at least a while after it was hijacked. Again, evidence that a hijacker was in the cockpit at the start of the hijacking?
At 8:52 two F-15's take off from Otis ANG Base, 6 minutes after being ordered to go after Flight 11, which has already crashed. [8:52, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:52, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:53, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:52, Washington Post, 9/15/01] This is 38 minutes after flight controllers lost contact with the plane. They go after Flight 175 instead. According to Maj. Gen. Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, "the pilots flew `like a scalded ape,' topping 500 mph but were unable to catch up to the airliner." [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] NORAD Major Gen. Larry Arnold says they were headed straight for New York City and traveling about 1100 to 1200 mph. [Slate, 1/16/02] "An F-15 departing from Otis can reach New York City in 10 to 12 minutes, according to an Otis spokeswoman." [Cape Cod Times, 9/16/01] According to Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy, one of the pilots, before takeoff, a fellow officer had told him "This looks like the real thing." He says, "It just seemed wrong. I just wanted to get there. I was in full-blower all the way." A NORAD commander has said the planes were stocked with extra fuel as well. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Full-blower is very rare -- it means the fighters are going as fast as they can go. F-15's can travel over 1875 mph. [Air Force News, 7/30/97] An at average speed of 1600 mph, they would have reached New York City in 7 minutes -- 8:59. An at average speed of 1125 mph, they would have reached it in 10 minutes -- 9:02 -- still before Flight 175 crashes. Yet according to the NORAD timeline, these planes take about 19 minutes to reach New York City -- less than 600 mph. Why so slow??
(At 8:56) according to the New York Times, by this time (if not earlier), it is clear Flight 77 has gone missing. Yet the same newspaper points out NORAD is not notified about it for another 28 minutes! [New York Times, 10/16/01] Why were fighters not scrambled now to find Flight 77?
At 9:00 The Pentagon moves its alert status up one notch from normal to Alpha. It stays on Alpha until after Flight 77 hits, and then goes up two more notches to Charlie later on in the day. [USA Today, 9/16/01]
(At 9:01) Bush later makes the following statement: "And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower -- the TV was obviously on, and I use to fly myself, and I said, `There's one terrible pilot.' And I said, `It must have been a horrible accident.' But I was whisked off there -- I didn't have much time to think about it." [CNN, 12/4/01] Given that there actually was no film footage of the first attack on TV until much later (and no footage of the plane actually hitting the tower), isn't this a clear lie to make it seem he didn't know what was happening? By 8:38, NORAD knew that Flight 11 was hijacked, and by 8:43, they knew Flight 175 was hijacked. As the New York Times points out, they also probably knew Flight 77 was hijacked a few minutes after 8:48. [New York Times, 9/15/01] He's had time to think about it -- he's been briefed by his National Security Advisor on the situation. So by this time Bush certainly knew two planes were hijacked and headed towards New York City, and probably knew of a third hijacking. Yet he can only think "There's one terrible pilot"?
At 9:03 Flight 175, hits the south tower, 2 World Trade Center. Approximately 2662 people are killed on the ground between this crash and the crash of Flight 175. [AP, 8/19/02] F-15 fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base are still 71 miles or 8 minutes away. [9:02, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:02, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:02, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:03, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:03, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:03, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:05, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:05, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:02:54, New York Times, 9/11/02, 9:02:54, seismic records] The Otis Air National Guard Base is 188 miles from New York City. According to NORAD's timeline, fighters left Otis 11 minutes earlier. If they were still 70 miles away, then that means they must have been traveling about 650 mph, when the top speed for an F-15 is 1875 mph!
At 9:05 Bush is still reading to 18 Booker Elementary School second-graders a story about a girl's pet goat. His chief of staff Andrew Card, whispers into his ear, "A second plane has hit the World Trade Center America is under attack." [Telegraph, 12/16/01] He says nothing in response, but continues reading the goat story after a brief pause. Then, in an event noticeable in its absence, as one newspaper put it, "for some reason, Secret Service agents [do] not bustle him away." [Globe and Mail, 9/12/01] At some point shortly after, reporters ask him if he is aware of the two crashes and explosions. He nods and says he will talk about the situation later. [CNN, 9/12/01] Bush continues to read about goats for the next 20 minutes or so. The reason given is that they didn't want to scare the children.
At 9:06 all air traffic facilities nationwide are notified that the Flight 11 crash in the WTC was probably a hijacking. [Newsday, 9/23/01]
At 9:09 supposedly, NORAD orders F-16's at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, on battle stations alert. Yet the order to scramble won't come till 9:27 or so, and they won't take off until 9:30. Around this time, the FAA command center reports 11 aircraft either not in communication with FAA facilities, or flying unexpected routes. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] So why aren't planes scrambled immediately, at 9:09 or even before, to find out what's going on? One of the pilots who actually took off from Langley says the battle stations alert isn't sounded until 9:24. [Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 & The Passengers & Crew Who Fought Back, by Jere Longman, HarperCollins, July 2002, pp. 64-65]
At 9:16 the FAA informs NORAD that Flight 93 may have been hijacked. No fighters are scrambled in specific response, now or later (there is the possibility some fighters sent after Flight 77 later headed towards Flight 93). Although this is what CNN learned from NORAD, its not clear why NORAD claims it was hijacked at this time (NORAD's own timeline inexplicably fails to say when the FAA told them about the hijack, the only flight they fail to provide this data for). [CNN, 9/17/01, NORAD, 9/18/01] However, there may be one explanation: Fox News TV reported that "Investigators believe that on at least one flight, one of the hijackers was already inside the cockpit before takeoff." Cockpit voice recordings indicate that Flight 93's pilots believed their guest was a colleague "and was thereby extended the typical airline courtesy of allowing any pilot from any airline to join a flight by sitting in the jumpseat, the folded over extra seat located inside the cockpit." [NewsMax, 9/25/01] Note that all witnesses later report seeing only 3 hijackers, not 4. So perhaps one hijacker tenuously held control of the cockpit as the original pilots still flew it, while waiting for reinforcements? Could this have happened before 9:01, when Flight 93 got a warning to beware of cockpit intrusions? Note that the crash of Flight 77 is still 25 minutes away. F-16 fighters from the far off Langley Air Force Base could have reached Washington in 6 minutes if they traveled at 1300 mph (maximum speed for an F-16 is 1500 mph). Even if the fighters were traveling slower and it took some minutes to get the plane off the ground, they still could easily have made it to Washington in those 25 minutes and prevented the Flight 77 crash.
At 9:24 the FAA notifies NORAD that Flight 77 "may" have been hijacked and appears to be headed towards Washington. [9:24, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:25, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:25, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:25, Guardian, 10/17/01] This notification is 34 MINUTES after flight control lost contact with the plane and well after two planes have crashed, and even then the FAA only says "may"? Is such a long delay believable, or has that information been doctored to cover the lack of any scrambling of fighters? Additionally, with the exception of Vice President Cheney and possibility a few others, no one is evacuated in Washington until after the Pentagon crash. A Pentagon spokesman says, "The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way." Even Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his top aides in the Pentagon remain unaware of any danger up to the moment of impact 17 minutes later. [Newsday, 9/23/01] Yet since at least the Flight 11 crash, "military officials in a command center [the National Military Command Center] on the east side of the [Pentagon] were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do." [New York Times, 9/15/01] Is it believable that everyone in the Pentagon outside of that command center, even the Secretary of Defense, would remain uniformed?
At 9:24 a fighter pilot codenamed Honey who flew one of the F-16's from Langley offers a different story than the official one. He claims that at 9:24 a battle stations alert sounds, and two other pilots are given the order to climb into their F-16's and await further instructions. Then, Honey, who is the supervisor, goes and talks to the two other pilots. Then, "five or ten minutes later," a person from NORAD calls, and Honey speaks to him at the nearby administrative office. He is told that all three of them are ordered to scramble. Then, Honey goes to his living quarters, grabs his flight gear, puts it on, runs to his plane and takes off. It's hard to know exactly how long all of this took, but clearly his recollection doesn't jibe with the official timeline, that NORAD ordered the fighters scrambled at 9:27 and they took off at 9:30. [The book Among the Heroes, 7/02, p. 64-65] Is NORAD fudging the numbers to hide their inexplicable behavior?
(At 9:27) NORAD orders 3 F-16 fighters scrambled from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to intercept Flight 77. Langley is 129 miles from Washington. Ready aircraft at Andrews Air Force Base, 10 miles away, are not scrambled. [Newsday, 9/23/01] [9:24, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:27, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:25, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:35, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:35, Washington Post, 9/15/01] Note that according to the official NORAD timeline, they ordered the F-16's scrambled the same minute they were told about the hijacking. A rare example of competence. But earlier, according to their own timeline, they waited 6 minutes before scrambling fighters after Flight 11. Why? Flight 77 had supposedly been missing from the radar screen since 8:56. Why wait 31 minutes to send a plane and find out where it is?
At 9:30 the F-16's scrambled towards Flight 77 get airborne. [9:30, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:35, Washington Post, 9/12/01] If the NORAD departure time is correct, the F-16's would have to travel slightly over 700 mph to reach Washington before Flight 77 does. The maximum speed of an F-16 is 1500 mph. [AP, 6/16/00] Even traveling at 1300 mph, these planes could have reached Washington in 6 minutes -- well before any claim of when Flight 77 crashed. Yet they obviously don't.
At 9:33, according to the New York Times, Flight 77 was lost at 8:56 when it turned off its transponder, and stayed lost until now. Washington air traffic control sees a fast moving blip on their radar at this time and sends a warning to Dulles Airport in Washington. [New York Times, 10/16/01] Is it conceivable that an airplane could be lost inside US air space for 37 minutes? One doesn't need a transponder signal to get a radar signal! If this is true, that why did the FAA warn that the plane was headed towards Washington at 9:24?
At 9:41 Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. The section of the Pentagon hit consists mainly of newly renovated, unoccupied offices. Approximately 125 are later determined killed or missing. The surface-to-air missiles presumably surrounding the Pentagon are not fired in defense. Fighters are supposedly still 105 miles or 12 minutes away. [Newsday, 9/23/01, NORAD, 9/18/01] [9:37, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:37, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:38, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:39, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:43, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:43, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, 9:41:30 according to timing devices on ABC, CBS and CNN TV news footage] NORAD states the fighters took off from Langley at 9:30, 129 miles away, yet when Flight 77 crashes they are still 105 miles away. [NORAD, 9/18/01] So that means they must have been flying at an average of about 130 mph! Even if one uses the NORAD crash time of 9:37 (which we know is untrue), that still averages to only about 205 mph!
At 9:41 the F-16 pilot codenamed Honey later offers a different explanation of where the F-16's are when Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. He says they are flying towards New York, when they see a black column of smoke coming from Washington, about 30 or 40 miles to the west. He is then asked over the radio by the North East Air Defense Sector of NORAD if he can confirm the Pentagon is burning. He confirms it. The F-16's are then ordered to set up a defensive perimeter above Washington. [Among the Heroes, 7/02, p. 76] This contradicts the official NORAD claim that the F-16's were still 105 miles away when the Pentagon was hit. [NORAD, 9/18/01] If his account is true, it shows that the F-16's would have been over Washington in time to shoot down Flight 77 if they had been given orders to fly to Washington, and not to New York, which was already defended by 2 F-15's! (additionally, subtract 8-10 miles (Sidewinder missile) or 12-20 miles (Sparrow missile) from the flight distance required for the fighters [Slate, 1/16/02]) Well before these F-16's took off, NORAD already knew there was a threat to Washington and that New York was being defended by F-15's, and yet they were ordered to New York and Washington was left undefended? At 9:36, a C-130, a slow and large transport plane, was ordered to intercept and identify Flight 77, and these F-16's were not? If Honey's account is true, and the F-16's took off at, say, 9:34, they would have been averaging a speed of about 1100 mph up to the Pentagon crash, much more reasonable than the crazy speeds of 200 mph and the like if one follows the NORAD story. It would also explain eyewitness claims of fighters over Washington only a couple of minutes after the Pentagon crash, not at 9:56 when they supposedly arrived. At 1100 mph, it would have taken about 3 minutes for Honey to reach Washington from where he says he was.
(At 9:49) 3 F-16's scrambled from Langley at 9:30 reach the Pentagon. The planes, armed with heat-seeking, Sidewinder missiles, are authorized to knock down civilian aircraft. According to NORAD, they were flying at 650 mph. The official maximum speed for F-16's is 1500 mph. [9:49, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:49, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:56: "15 minutes after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon", New York Times, 9/15/01, "just before 10:00," CBS, 9/14/01] Using the New York Times arrival time and given that Langley is 129 miles away, this means the fighters were flying at an average speed of about 300 mph! But using NORAD's official departure time of 9:30 and even the generous CNN arrival time, the journey takes 19 minutes, or a speed of about 410 mph!
The timeline of the United States air response and lack of it on 11 September 2001 is the biggest single indicator of fundamental violations of responsibilities by people acting in their official capacities that day as employees and officials of state and federal government agencies. The above timeline excerpts are woefully inadequate to properly represent the complexity of what occurred during the 8:20-to-9:41 window of time that morning. The segments included were chosen to highlight facts and to emphasize the lack of credibility for official explanations of how Flight 77 was able to reach the Pentagon.
Given that an aircraft emergency exists when "There is unexpected loss of radar contact and radio communications with any IFR [Instrument flight rules] or VFR [Visual flight rules] aircraft" (FAA Order 7110.65M, Air Traffic Control, (Includes Change 3, Effective: July 12, 2001), Chapter 10. Emergencies, Section 2. Emergency Assistance, 10-2-5. EMERGENCY SITUATIONS) and that a "NORAD spokesman, said its fighters routinely intercept aircraft" (Boston Globe, 9/15/01), there are too many contradictions and unacknowledged, unaddressed questions to explain how the standard operating procedures were not adhered to on 9-11.
The previous timeline excerpts highlight a glaring inconsistency: why these F-16s and F-15s consistently flew so slowly, compared to their maximum speeds. If they had flown anywhere near these speeds -- 1500 mph for an F-16 and 1875 mph for an F-15 --, Flight 175 and Flight 77 would not have been able to reach the south WTC tower and the Pentagon unchallenged.
- At 8:46, one of the 3 F-16's (from Andrews AFB) flying a training mission on a range in North Carolina (207 miles away), flying at 1250 mph, could have returned to Washington D.C. within 10 minutes and started patrolling the skies well before 9:00am.
- At 8:52, 2 F-15's take off from Otis Air National Guard (ANG), 6 minutes after being ordered to go after Flight 11 -- which has already crashed -- and 38 minutes after flight controllers lost contact with the plane. They go after Flight 175 instead, supposedly topping 500 mph -- flying `like a scalded ape,' according to Gen. Paul Weaver (director of the ANG). However NORAD Major Gen. Larry Arnold claims they were flying between 1100 and 1200 mph. And Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy (one of the pilots) says he was in "full-blower all the way". Full-blower means F-15's are going their fastest speed -- 1875 mph. Notwithstanding the above statements, and according to the NORAD timeline, these planes take 19 minutes to reach NYC -- traveling at less than 600 mph.
- At 9:16, Flight 77 is still 25 minutes away from the Pentagon. F-16's from Langley AFB could have reached Washington in 6 minutes traveling at 1300 mph (max speed is 1500 mph). Even if F-16's were traveling slower and it took some minutes to get the plane off the ground, they still could have easily beaten Flight 77 to Washington in under 25 minutes.
- At 9:27, NORAD orders 3 F-16's scrambled from Langley AFB to intercept Flight 77. Langley is 129 miles from Washington. Ready aircraft at Andrews Air Force Base, 10 miles away, are not scrambled. Why did NORAD not order available jets scrambled from Andrews AFB that could have reached the Pentagon in less than 3 minutes traveling at 500 mph, one-third their maximum speed? Why did NORAD wait 31 minutes to order Langley's 3 F-16's to find out where a plane is that had supposedly been missing from the radar screen since 8:56?
- At 9:30, the F-16's scrambled at 9:27 from Langley get airborne. If NORAD's departure time is correct, the F-16's would have to travel slightly over 700 mph to beat Flight 77 to Washington. Why did these planes, at this point fly less than one-fifth of their top-flight speed of 1500 mph? --given that NORAD says they are still 105 miles away at 9:41 when Flight 77 hits the Pentagon.
The inconsistencies and contradictions mushroom to a dizzying proportion. Note Paul Thompson's analysis in the first 9:24 excerpt about how it takes 34 minutes after flight control lost contact before the FAA warns NORAD that Flight 77 may have been hijacked: "Is such a long delay believable, or has that information been doctored to cover the lack of any scrambling of fighters?" One of the most grotesque doctoring of facts by the press and the military is the situation of the flight-ready aircraft fifteen miles away from the Pentagon at Andrews Air Force Base  that are not scrambled. From the PART 4: Sept. 11, 2001 - Dec. 2001 section of Paul's timeline:
September 11-16, 2001: Andrews Air Force Base is 10 miles from Washington, Langley Air Force Base in 130 miles away. The official story is that there were no fighters at Andrews so none took off from there, but it takes a few days for the media to come around to that point of view:
The official story is that fighters from Langley didn't arrive over Washington until 12 minutes after the Pentagon was struck, but witnesses see fighters well before then. [Newsday, 9/23/01, Denver Post, 9/11/01] One year later, a new article writes extensively about Andrews, saying, "Within minutes of American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon on Sept. 11, Air National Guard F-16s took off from [Andrews]." However, the article also claims that the Andrews fighters were not on alert, and so, of the first two to take off, one was partially armed and the other was unarmed. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] 
- A few minutes after the Pentagon was hit, "fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base . . ." [Denver Post, 9/11/01]
- "It was after the attack on the Pentagon that the Air Force then decided to scramble F-16's out of the DC National Guard Andrews Air Force Base . . ." [NBC Nightly News, 9/11/01]
- San Diego Union Tribune: "Air defense around Washington is provided mainly by fighter planes from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland near the District of Columbia border. The D.C. Air National Guard is also based there and equipped with F-16 fighter planes, a National Guard spokesman said. But the fighters took to the skies over Washington only after the devastating attack on the Pentagon . . ." [San Diego Union Tribune, 9/12/01]
- "Within minutes of the attack American forces around the world were put on one of their highest states of alert -- Defcon 3, just two notches short of all-out war -- and F-16's from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC." [Telegraph, 9/16/01]
- "Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One, is only 10 miles away from the Pentagon, but it had no fighters assigned to it." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
- "The District of Columbia National Guard maintained fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, only about 15 miles from the Pentagon, but those planes were not on alert and not deployed." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
- ". . . 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." "In the best tradition of the Marine Corps, a `few good men and women' support two combat-ready reserve units at Andrews AFB." [DC Military website]
- The District of Columbia Air National Guard website is changed shortly after 9/11. Previously it had stated its mission is "to provide combat units in the highest possible state of readiness." Afterwards, it now has a "vision" to "provide peacetime command and control and administrative mission oversight to support customers, DCANG units, and NGB in achieving the highest levels of readiness." [DCANG Home Page (before and after the change)]
In 1997 John Judge was planning a demonstration at the Pentagon for the inauguration of the annual celebration, `A Day Without the Pentagon'. He recounts how the head of security, while taking him on a tour of the Pentagon, said the building was on alert Delta -- their highest security alert -- and that there was working radar on the roof to prevent planes from crashing into the building. Contrast this with how, on 9-11 at 9:00am, the Pentagon moves its alert status one notch up from normal to Alpha, how it stays on Alpha until after Flight 77 hits, and then goes up two notches to Charlie, the highest it ever gets to that morning. The U.S. was consistently on a higher alert -- the highest there is -- in 1997 than at any point prior to midday on 9-11.
Here we arrive at another unthinkable fact: the time sequence in Washington, D.C. up to the point when Flight 77 reached the Pentagon belies statements by public officials that "we didn't know the plane was coming". Judge lives very near to the city of Washington, D.C. and could hear the boom when Flight 77 hit. The official claim that the United States military was unprepared to fend off Flight 77 because there was not sufficient advance warning flies in the face of the facts.
"There is a point when everyone had advance knowledge that planes were being used as weapons, that was 9:05 am on 9/11. By 8:55, Flight 77 had turned and was known to be headed for DC. Local TV news announced its course and destination and Cheney was taken immediately into the Situation Room to start continuity of government (which I am convinced continues to this day). Bush and Cheney conferred and agreed on a shoot down order. The White House, Capitol, Congressional offices and the Pentagon began to be evacuated. This is well before it shook my windows at 9:48. We all knew it was coming and that it was a weapon. Yet not a single local fighter went up to intercept it, not a single surface-to-air missile at White House or Pentagon aimed at it. The Pentagon stood down, it looped all the way around until it could hit the empty side." 
"They have spent 13 trillion tax dollars since the end of WWII on this military/intelligence complex, and it cannot protect its own headquarters? . . . How were they allowed to come into the most restricted air space in the world with no challenge or defense? That is the question that answers both when Bush knew in advance and begs any rational response." 
To claim United States military forces were unable to respond to the most extreme form of attack -- directly on the primary headquarters of the country's armed forces -- once Flight 175 hit the WTC at 9:03 (and it was no longer possible to think there had been two independent accidents), forces one to conclude that the thousands of billions of dollars spent since World War II to make us safe have been for naught.
What are we being asked to believe? That the Commander-in-Chief and his staff were more concerned about frightening a group of school children than responding to the fact that "A second plane has hit the World Trade Center. America is under attack" as White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card informed Bush Jr. at 9:03? That a plane was able to fly unchallenged in any way into the most restricted airspace of the country for upwards of fifty-five minutes? Given that the official answers have not addressed these questions, the only conclusion is that Flight 77 was allowed to reach its destination without any interference; that a stand down occurred on September 11 2001 that left the United States open to a historically unprecedented attack.
"I want to know why the Secret Service did not whisk [Bush] away. I want to know why he is the commander-in-chief of the United States of America, our country was clearly under attack, it was after the second building was hit. I want to know why he sat there for 25 minutes [reading to schoolchildren] . . . And I think that I have a lot of problems with the Pentagon. I don't understand how a plane could hit our Defense Department, which is the Pentagon, an hour after the first plane hit the first tower. I don't understand how that is possible. I'm a reasonable person. But when you look at the fact that we spend a half trillion dollars on national defense and you're telling me that a plane is able to hit our Pentagon, our Defense Department, an hour after the first tower is hit? There are procedures and protocols in place in this nation that are to be followed when transponders are disconnected, and they were not followed on September 11th . . . There are 3,000 lives lost and three million questions remaining."Kristen Breitweiser, widow of 9-11 south tower, 2 WTC victim,
on the Phil Donahue show, 8/13/02 
As long as official explanations do not address people's legitimate questions and concerns regarding the mass of contradictions, misrepresentations, omissions, and verifiable deceptions about 9-11, we need to find out for ourselves what took place to understand and address the root causes of these crimes against humanity. Otherwise such violence and its ensuing repression will continue.
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