Sunday, August 1, 2004
By Nicholas Levis
Mark Dayton has become the first U.S. senator to challenge the rush to consensus that “The 9/11 Commission Report” settles the open questions of Sept. 11, 2001.
In hearings last Friday, Sen. Dayton (D-MN) raised an obvious point: if the timeline of air defense response as promoted in the Kean Commission’s best-selling book is correct, then the timeline presented repeatedly by NORAD during the last two years was completely wrong. Yet now no one at NORAD is willing to comment on their own timeline!
When the official story of 9/11 can be changed repeatedly without anyone ever being held accountable, we have no right to ever again expect honest government. Please read the following story and do your part to support Sen. Dayton for highlighting the contradiction, and to encourage the media to follow up.
Background: Evolution of the Official Story
From the beginning, the 9/11 investigations, official and alternative, have been about timelines: what happened, who knew and who did what, when, where and how.
Written by the government’s Kean Commission, the just-published “9/11 Commission Report” presents a timeline of air defense response that differs radically from all of the previous official stories.
Since Sept. 11 government representatives have in fact promoted a series of mutually contradictory narratives of how the nation’s air defenses responded to the unfolding attacks. Various chronologies were presented at different times by the high military command, the North American Air Defense command (NORAD), the Federal Aviation Administration, and now the Kean Commission.
Little noticed, the original story was delivered by Gen. Richard Myers, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and acting chairman on the morning of Sept. 11 (when Chairman Shelton was on a transatlantic flight). Just two days after the events, Myers, an air force man who had previously headed NORAD, appeared before the Senate for hearings. These had been scheduled weeks earlier, to consider his appointment by George W. Bush as the nation’s supreme military officer. Myers told the Senate that no fighter jets were scrambled to intercept any of the 9/11 flights until after the Pentagon was struck.
The Pentagon attack occurred at 9:38 a.m., a full 1 hour 20 minutes after the first of the 9/11 flights was diverted from its designated flight path.
Myers’s statement to the Senate was incredible, given the standard U.S. air defense protocols for dealing with errant instrument flights (including off-course passenger planes). In place many years before Sept. 11, these procedures are automatic and require no special order. Within minutes after a flight ceases to respond to ground control, the FAA is expected to alert NORAD – which scrambles jet fighters to intercept the errant flight for reconnaissance purposes. These are supposed to be airborne within 10 minutes of the problem arising.
This routine was activated on at least 67 occasions in the year prior to June 1, 2001 and on 129 occasions in 2000. Exceptional as the events of 9/11 proved to be, the procedures should have also been activated automatically within minutes of each flight diversion on that day (i.e., long before anyone needed to realize that hijackers would fly multiple airliners into buildings). This did not happen.
Before Myers’s disturbing admission to the Senate received much notice, NORAD under General Ralph Eberhard effectively put the lie to his statement. A partial timeline of U.S. air defense response published by NORAD on Sept. 18, 2001 presented the times at which NORAD was alerted about each flight diversion by the FAA. NORAD claimed to have responded to the alerts by scrambling two pairs of interceptors from the air force bases in Otis, Massachussetts and Langley, Virginia. These four fighters, however, never reached any of their targets in time to intercept and survey the situation, let alone prepare for a possible shootdown.
The NORAD timeline indicated that during the crisis hours of 9/11, the FAA became increasingly slower in delivering alerts to NORAD. This seemed to shift the blame for the failed response to the FAA.
As late as May 2003, General Arnold of NORAD, sitting alongside Gen. Myers, presented a slightly revised version of NORAD’s Sept. 2001 timeline, in testimony to the Kean Commission. He revealed for the first time that NORAD was alerted about the hijacking of Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, at 9:16 a.m., a full 47 minutes before the claimed crash time at 10:03. But he stuck to the story about the other flights; in the case of AA77 which hit the Pentagon, the alert supposedly arrived at 9:24 am.
NORAD’s story was disputed in the FAA statement of May 21, 2003. The FAA claimed that regardless of the official notification times claimed by NORAD, phone bridges were established immediately after the initial attack (at 8:46). NORAD was informed in real time throughout of all developments, including about the plane that ultimately hit the Pentagon, the FAA said.
Thus for more than a year the FAA has been in open dispute with NORAD on the issue of who informed whom and when about the Sept. 11 hijackings; unfortunately, this has never become the major media story it deserves to be.
The Kean Commission itself intervened in June 2004. In a staff statement delivered at its final set of hearings (“Improvising a Homeland Defense”), the Commission outlined a chronology that completely ditched the timeline that NORAD had upheld for two years. It also effectively placed almost all of the blame for delayed air defense response on the FAA.
Gens. Arnold and Myers, who testified to the Commission that same morning, were not held to account for having presented an entirely wrong timeline a year earlier. Instead, they simply thanked the Kean Commission for clearing up the confusion. In return, one commissioner made a point of telling the generals they were not to blame; after all, it was all the FAA’s fault!
A group of FAA officials who testified in the subsequent, final session stuck by their old defense that they had in fact provided adequate and timely information to NORAD via the phone bridges. As the hearings concluded, they still disputed both timelines: the old one from NORAD, and the new one from the Kean Commission. What a shame that evidence that might help in clearing up this matter was destroyed by an FAA official after the attacks.
And what of continuing doubts about the precise time of the UA 93 crash – was it at 10:03, as the Kean Commission now claims, or at 10:06, as a seismic study by Army scientists found?
More on the shifting timelines here.
Senator Dayton: Demanding Accountability
Now that the Kean Commission has published the new timeline in its final report, these contradictions cannot be swept under the rug. Either the Kean Commission is wrong, or else NORAD was pushing a flawed timeline for more than two years. Either way, the FAA story still differs from both.
There can be no excuses. Those responsible for dispensing false information must be held accountable, or else nothing in the behavior of government is likely ever to improve.
Instead of accountability, several of the key figures – Gens. Myers and Eberhard, FAA official Ben Sliney – have been promoted since Sept. 11! Yet one or more of them must be wrong about what happened on 9/11.
This is the simple point that Sen. Mark Dayton made yesterday at Senate hearings on the 9/11 Commission Report: now that it has accepted the Kean Commission findings, NORAD must explain its old timeline, and anyone responsible for pushing a false account, whether intentionally or not, must be held accountable.
To our knowledge the story so far has been reported only by Greg Gordon in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Dayton: FAA, NORAD hid 9/11 failures
By Greg Gordon, Star Tribune Washington Bureau Correspondent
July 31, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., charged Friday that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have covered up “catastrophic failures” that left the nation vulnerable during the Sept. 11 hijackings.
“For almost three years now, NORAD officials and FAA officials have been able to hide their critical failures that left this country defenseless during two of the worst hours in our history,” Dayton declared during a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.
During the hearing, Dayton told leaders of the Sept. 11 commission, that, based on the commission’s report, a NORAD chronology made public a week after the attacks was grossly misleading. The chronology said the FAA notified the military’s emergency air command of three of the hijackings while those jetliners were still airborne. Dayton cited commission findings that the FAA failed to inform NORAD about three of the planes until after they had crashed.
And, he said, a squadron of NORAD fighter planes that was scrambled was sent east over the Atlantic Ocean and was 150 miles from Washington, D.C., when the third plane struck the Pentagon — “farther than they were before they took off.”
Dayton said NORAD officials “lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 commission to create a false impression of competence, communication and protection of the American people.” He told Kean and Hamilton that if the commission’s report is correct, President Bush “should fire whoever at FAA, at NORAD … betrayed their public trust by not telling us the truth.”
Asked about Dayton’s allegation, a spokesman for Colorado Springs-based NORAD said, “We stand on our testimony to the commission” and declined to discuss the 2001 chronology. Erin Utzinger, a spokeswoman for Dayton, said the senator “assumes the FAA knew of NORAD’s coverup.”
(End of excerpt. Click here for full story.)
In the weeks ahead, we will be presenting a complete treatment of the old NORAD timeline and of “The Emperor’s New Timeline” as spelled out in the Kean Commission report. This will be part of a series exposing the many Omissions of the Commission.
Meanwhile, we encourage you all to write and call Sen. Dayton’s office to offer your support, and also to write to author Greg Gordon of the Star-Tribune to thank him for his article. Finally, write to media and get them to cover this story!
Kyle Hence of Citizens’ Watch has already written an excellent letter to Dayton’s office, one that we urge all 9/11 truth seekers to freely “plagiarize” in writing their own letters a.s.a.p.:
Letter to be hand delivered to:
Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI 1st)
U.S. House of Representatives
407 Cannon House Office Building
Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN)
United States Senate
346 Russell Senate Office Building
Dear Senator Dayton,
I commend you today for your courage in speaking out about the evidence you’ve seen that NORAD lied to the American people and to the Commission when it released it’s official timelines in September of ’01 and again at the May ’03 hearing (not under oath!). [Our group was instrumental in forcing the Commission to take testimony under oath].
I feel that the timeline offered us by the Commission is suspect as well. This brings me to my primary message to you and your colleagues as you look ahead to further hearings on the Hill about the Commission’s Report.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to not just examine the 9/11 Commission recommendations. The Commissions findings of facts and circumstances including suspect timelines must be scrutinized as well with equal commitment and vigor. If the facts are wrong or incomplete then the recommendations that flow from those flawed findings may be flawed as well.
Please read the first 8 pages of Richard Clarke’s book. His timeline conflicts grossly with that of the Commission’s. The Commission has Rumsfeld and Myers out of the loop until well after 10AM. Myers they say was in a car enroute to the Pentagon when he saw smoke there. Rumsfeld was in a breakfast meeting through the whole course of the attack. Clarke has then both in a White House directed video conference beginning at approximately 9:12AM.
Also, please read Gail Sheehy’s “Who’s in Charge Here?” (it’s posted at www.911citizenswatch.org)
Clarke quotes a Deputy Director of the Situation Room in the White House (the Director being in FL with Pres. Bush) saying when Clarke arrives at approximately 9:10 that a “Threat Conference Call” was underway.
The 9/11 Commission has the “Threat conf.” starting at 9:37 or 9:39.
These are major discrepancies that beg for answers and explanations. How were they resolved? Is there a cover-up? Why was there no call for courts martial? How could Rumsfeld, Myers and the President be left out of the loop over the 109 minutes you mentioned it took for the attacks to be carried out?
Thank you for your diligence in the most critical search for the whole truth about what happened on 9/11.
This brief email has touched on a tip of an iceberg that would throw grave suspicions on the work of the Commission and the supposed cooperation of the Agencies asked to assist in getting to the truth.
Kyle F. Hence
9/11 Citizens’ Watch