Curiouser and Curiouser: NORAD Incompetence Theory Deja Vu
New Tapes Disclose Confusion Within the Military on Sept. 11
By Philip Shenon
New York Times
August 2, 2006
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 — Newly disclosed tapes offer evidence of the widespread confusion within the military as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were being carried out, further undermining claims by the Pentagon that it moved quickly to try to intercept and shoot down one or more of the hijacked jets.
When matched with the timeline of the attacks, the tapes make clear that information about the hijackings was slow to reach the military on Sept. 11 and that much of the information that did reach Air Force commanders was faulty. [[
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9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes
By Michael Bronner
Vanity Fair Special
August 1, 2006
“How did the U.S. Air Force respond on 9/11? Could it have shot down United 93, as conspiracy theorists claim? Obtaining 30 hours of never-before-released tapes from the control room of NORAD’s Northeast headquarters, the author reconstructs the chaotic military history of that day?and the Pentagon’s apparent attempt to cover it up. VF.com exclusive: Hear excerpts from the September 11 NORAD tapes. Click PLAY after each transcript to listen.” Click here to read entire article.
The tapes were provided under subpoena to the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, and parts of them had previously been made public by that commission.
But the full collection of nearly 30 hours of tapes from the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, were released by the Pentagon last year to Michael Bronner, a producer on the recent film “United 93,” who described them in detail in an article posted this week on the Web site of Vanity Fair magazine (www.vanityfair.com). The Web site includes links to excerpts from the actual tapes.
The tapes demonstrate that for most of the morning of Sept. 11, the airspace over New York and Washington was essentially undefended, and that jet fighters scrambled to intercept the hijacked planes were involved in a fruitless chase for planes that had already crashed.
Although much of the conversation in the tapes is heavy with military jargon, it makes clear the terror of the morning, with military air controllers trying to monitor the whereabouts of hijacked planes bearing down on lower Manhattan and Washington.
“I got an aircraft six miles east of the White House!” one military commander is quoted as barking to a colleague.
The tapes also document a conversation among officers about how best to shoot down passenger planes, if the order came from the White House. “My recommendation, if we have to take anybody out, large aircraft, we use AIM-9’s in the face,” an Air Force commander is quoted as saying, a reference to a type of missile that would be fired into the nose of the plane.
The Sept. 11 commission subpoenaed the tapes and other evidence after the panel’s investigators determined that material had been improperly withheld by Norad, which is responsible for air defense.
Members of the commission said the tapes demonstrated that the Pentagon’s initial account of its actions on Sept. 11 was wrong and that some military officers might have intentionally provided false statements to the commission.
The officers had testified that Norad had been tracking Flight 93, the plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field after a cockpit struggle between passengers and the hijackers, and were prepared to shoot it down if it approached Washington.
But the tapes show that the military was not even alerted to the hijacking of the United flight until four minutes after it had crashed.
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