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General Myers’ Senate Testimony – 9/11/03

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Comments by “Stickdog”

General Myers was acting head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 11th. On September 13th, he is going for a nomination hearing to be made head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This is the most important day of his life because on this day that Myers, an Air Force General with thousands of hours of time flying fighter planes, is acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It’s the only day in history that the continental United States has ever been attacked from the air.

Myers claims he is at Senator Max Cleland’s office at 8:40 EDT. He sees on TV that the first plane has hit the World Trade Center. He claims on Armed Services Radio that at that point he went in and met with Cleland for an hour. Nobody called him and told him that a second plane had hit, that the air corridor had been closed between Washington and Cleveland, that a plane had been hijacked in Ohio and was flying back to the Pentagon. Then he also claims that when he walked out of Cleland’s office, he was handed a portable phone and it was the head of NORAD–the North American Aerospace Defense Command–telling him the Pentagon had been hit.

Now these are unbelievable assertions. Doesn’t the man have a beeper? Doesn’t the man have a cell phone? Doesn’t the man have a secretary who knows where he is? General Myers was, after all, acting head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. military. Wouldn’t anybody inform him that planes were being hijacked and flying into buildings? And you know what Myers said he talked to Max Cleland about? He claims he sat there and they discussed the dangers of terrorism. Now this is like a satire, isn’t it?

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Editor’s Note:
Included in this commentary by “Stickdog,” originally posted at Democratic Underground, are the following, by Jared Israel of Emperor’s New Clothes, interviewed by Mark Haim, KOPN 89.5 FM (Missouri) Evening Edition * 2 April 2002:

Here is General Myers’ response at his confirmation hearing. Note Senator Max Cleland’s out-of-the-blue nonsequitur which gives Myers his alibi.

Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing On Nomination of General Richard Myers to be Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., SEPTEMBER 13, 2001.

SENATOR LEVIN: Was the Defense Department contacted by the FAA or the FBI or any other agency after the first two hijacked aircraft crashed into the World Trade Center, prior to the time that the Pentagon was hit?

GENERAL MYERS: Sir, I don’t know the answer to that question. I can get that for you, for the record…That order, to the best of my knowledge, was after the Pentagon was struck. … I was with Senator Cleland when this happened and went back to the Pentagon. And they were evacuating, of course, the Pentagon at the time. And I went into the National Military Command Center because that’s essentially my battle station when things are happening.

SENATOR LEVIN: Was the Defense Department contacted by the FAA or the FBI or any other agency after the first two hijacked aircraft crashed into the World Trade Center, prior to the time that the Pentagon was hit?

GENERAL MYERS: Sir, I don’t know the answer to that question. I can get that for you, for the record.

SENATOR LEVIN: Thank you. Did the Defense Department take — or was the Defense Department asked to take action against any specific aircraft?

GENERAL MYERS: Sir, we were . . .

SENATOR LEVIN: And did you take action against — for instance, there have been statements that the aircraft that crashed in Pennsylvania was shot down. Those stories continue to exist.

GENERAL MYERS: Mr. Chairman, the armed forces did not shoot down any aircraft. 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. But we never actually had to use force.

SENATOR CLELAND: General, it’s a good thing that, as I look back at that morning, that you and I were meeting. It’s a good thing we were meeting here and not us meeting in the Pentagon because about the time you and I were having our visit, discussing the need to boost our conventional forces, to look at the question of terrorism and attacks on the United States, at just about that very moment, the Pentagon was being hit.


SENATOR BILL NELSON: … General Myers, The second World Trade tower was hit shortly after 9:00. And the Pentagon was hit approximately 40 minutes later. That’s approximately. You would know specifically what the timeline was. The crash that occurred in Pennsylvania after the Newark westbound flight was turned around 180 degrees and started heading back to Washington was approximately an hour after the World Trade Center second explosion. You said earlier in your testimony that we had not scrambled any military aircraft until after the Pentagon was hit. And so, my question would be: why?

GENERAL MYERS: I think I had that right, that it was not until then. I’d have to go back and review the exact timelines.

SENATOR BILL NELSON: … If we knew that there was a general threat on terrorist activity, which we did, and we suddenly have two trade towers in New York being obviously hit by terrorist activity, of commercial airliners taken off course from Boston to Los Angeles, then what happened to the response of the defense establishment once we saw the diversion of the aircraft headed west from Dulles turning around 180degrees and, likewise, in the aircraft taking off from Newark and, in flight, turning 180 degrees? That’s the question. I leave it to you as to how you would like to answer it. But we would like an answer.

GENERAL MYERS: You bet. I spoke, 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…

{NOTE: OK, so if he talked to Eberhart after the second tower was hit, why did he then meet with Cleland for 35 minutes to talk about “the question of terrorism and attacks on the United States”? I mean, wasn’t he aware that America was currently experiencing just such an attack–the very worst such attack in its entire history? How in the world did he manage to while away the 45 minutes with Cleland such that he didn’t arrive at the National Military Command Center, his admitted “battle station when things are happening,” until the Pentagon was being evacuated (around 9:45 at the earliest)? Didn’t having hijacker terrorists hit the two tallest buildings in the United States with passenger jets qualify as a time “when things are happening”?}

(GENERAL MYERS:) In this case, if my memory serves me — and I’ll have to get back to you for the record — my memory says that we had launched on the one that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania. I mean, we had gotten somebody close to it, as I recall. I’ll have to check that out.

SENATOR BILL NELSON: … Commenting from CNN on the timeline, 9:03 is the correct time that the United Airlines flight crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center; 9:43 is the time that American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. And 10:10 a.m. is the time that United Airlines flight 93crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. So that was 40 minutes between the second tower being hit and the Pentagon crash. And it is an hour ands even minutes until the crash occurred in Pennsylvania.

SENATOR LEVIN: The time that we don’t have is when the Pentagon was notified, if they were, by the FAA or the FBI or any other agency, relative to any potential threat or any planes having changed direction or anything like that. And that’s the same which you will give us because that’s . . .

GENERAL MYERS: I can answer that. At the time of the first impact on the World Trade Center {NOTE: around 8:46}, we stood up our crisis action team. That was done immediately. So we stood it up. And we started talking to the federal agencies. The time I do not know is when NORAD responded with fighter aircraft. I don’t know that time.

SENATOR LEVIN: Or the time that I asked you for, which was whether the FAA or FBI notified you that other planes had turned direction from their path, their scheduled path, and were returning or aiming towards Washington, whether there was any notice from any of them, because that’s such an obvious shortfall if there wasn’t.


SENATOR LEVIN: And in any event, but more important, if you could get us that information.

GENERAL MYERS: It probably happened. As you remember, I was not in the Pentagon at that time, so that part of it is a little hazy. {NOTE: This is now two days after 9/11.} After that, we started getting regular notifications through NORAD, FAA to NORAD, on other flights that we were worried about. And we knew about the one that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania. I do not know, again, whether we had fighters scrambled on it. I have to . . .

SENATOR LEVIN: If you could get us those times then. We know you don’ t know them.

GENERAL MYERS: But we’ll get them.

{NOTE: Thank God the Senate quickly confirmed this knowledgeable bastion of combat-ready competence as the head of the entire US military structure!}

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