September 11th, 2001 - Air Defenses

Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center

September 11, 2001 - An overview of some important facts to keep in mind when thinking about the events of that day.

Air Defenses

- Did you know that prior to September 11, 2001 there were 682 hijackings in the United States, all of which were responded to appropriately with respect to FAA regulations and Department of Defense protocols covering such situations?

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- Did you know that in the year leading up to 9/11, there were at least 56 instances (and by some accounts 67) in which jet interceptors were scrambled within minutes of air emergencies being detected?

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- Did you know that the White House does not have to give approval for such interceptions to take place and, instead, all such air emergencies are automatically handled by a set of established procedures?

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- Did you know that all commercial air flights must adhere to what are called Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and that all such flights are required to file a flight plan prior to takeoff?

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- Did you know that if an air traffic controller determines that radio contact is lost with a flight, or if the flight deviates from its flight plan, or if the transponder for the flight is turned off or becomes inactive, then the air traffic controller is to immediately contact a superior in the air traffic control center?

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- Did you know that if any of the foregoing three problems cannot be resolved within a few minutes, the air traffic control center is supposed to contact NORAD and request that jet fighters be scrambled to investigate the matter further and determine by visual contact and on-site (i.e., in-air) inspection the nature of the problem?

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- Did you know that if a flight deviates from a filed flight plan by, for example, taking a wrong turn at designated 'fix' points along the flight plan or if such flights deviate from their flight plan by as little as two miles, then air traffic controllers will contact the plane to advise them of such deviations or to inquire why such deviations have occurred?

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- Did you know that if contact with the deviating flight is not established, the next step is for the relevant air traffic control center to request that jet fighters be scrambled to make a direct, close, on-site (that is, in-air) inspection of the problematic flight?

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- Did you know that once a scramble order is given, F-15s can reach an altitude of 29,000 feet within 2½ minutes and attain speeds of over 1,800 mph?

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- Did you know that response times of the military to air emergencies will vary with the perceived seriousness of the emergency, and, generally speaking, the more restricted the air space in which an emergency occurs, the faster will be the military's response time?

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- Did you know that the airspace over, for example, New York and Washington, D.C. is designated as 'prohibited airspace' which constitutes the highest level of restricted airspace, and in incidents involving restricted air space the military response to errant flights in such sectors is supposed to be within minutes?

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- Did you know that the FAA usually has a defense liaison officer attached to NORAD (North American Aerospace Dense Command) headquarters whose responsibility is to help coordinate and facilitate communications between the FAA and the military in order to properly handle air emergencies?

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- Did you know that the FAA also has a hijack liaison officer (consisting of a Director of the Office of Civil Aviation Security ... or his or her designate) stationed in Washington, D.C. and who directly requests the National Military Command Center (NMCC) of the military to scramble jet fighters in the case of confirmed hijackings?

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- Did you know that with the exception of situations requiring an immediate response (that is, situations in which lives are likely to be lost, or considerable property damage may occur, or human suffering is likely to ensue, or there is some imminent threat), then FAA requests made to NMCC are passed on to the Department of Defense for further processing by the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other relevant officials?

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- Did you know that upon intercepting an errant flight that is non-responsive to radio contact, a jet usually will fly a little above, in front of, and to the left of the errant flight, followed by a rocking of the fighter plane's wings, which is the established sign that the commercial flight has been intercepted and that the appropriate response is for the plane being signaled to rock its wings acknowledging that it has been intercepted?

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- Did you know that if the commercial flight responds properly, the jet fighter will perform a slow left turn and will escort the plane back to a proper heading?

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- Did you know that if an errant flight does not properly respond to its jet fighter escort's signals, there are a set of graduated responses which have been established to induce compliance, such as: making passes in front of the errant plane, firing tracer bullets across the flight of the errant flight, and, under certain conditions, downing the errant flight with a missile?

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- Did you know that American Airlines Flight 11 took off at 7:59 a.m. and that United Airlines Flight 175 took off at 8:14 a.m., both out of Boston's Logan Airport(allegedly heading toward their respective appointments at the Twin Towers), while American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles Airport took off at 8:20 a.m. (and would, supposedly, eventually target the Pentagon) and United Flight 93 took-off around 8:42 a.m.?

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- Did you know that American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north side of the north tower at 8:46 a.m., and United Airlines Flight 175 struck the south tower at 9:02, and American Airlines Flight 77 allegedly hit the Pentagon at 9:38 a.m.?

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- Did you know that according to The 9/11 Commission Report, American Airlines Flight 11 missed its first air controller mark at 8:13 when it was instructed to climb to 35, 000 feet and did not respond?

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- Did you know that according to The 9/11 Commission Report, American Airlines Flight 11 turned off its responder (which identifies a plane's location and altitude) at 8:21 a.m. and that Air Traffic Manager Glen Michael indicated they thought at the time that the turning off of the transponder may have been an indication of a hijacking?

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- Did you know that that by 8:24 a.m. the first communications (from an unconfirmed source) were heard by the Boston air control center that indicated that, possibly, Flight 11 had been hijacked?

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- Did you know that Boston air traffic control center finally -- after initially failing to follow established FAA protocol -- made contact with the military's NEADS at 8:37 a.m. requesting that planes be scrambled (and according to some NORAD accounts, notification was actually given as early as 8:31 a.m.)?

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- Did you know that even after American Flight 11 had not responded to an air traffic control directive, had turned off its identification responder, had there was alleged radio communication evidence that the plane was being hijacked, and even after the Boston center had informed the military that a hijacking was in progress, nonetheless, no jets were scrambled to intercept the commercial flight until approximately 8:46 a.m. (and 8:53 a.m. according to the Commission's report) when jets were scrambled from Otis Air Force Base, some 9 - 15 minutes (depending on whose time line one follows) after being informed that a hijacking was in progress in prohibited air space?

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- Did you know that Otis Air Force Base is in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but there are a number of Air Force bases much closer to New York such as McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey?

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- Did you know that according to The 9/11 Commission Report Colonel Robert Marr of the New England Air Defense System had to phone General Larry Arnold, head of NORAD's Continental Region Center, in order to obtain permission to scramble jets, and, yet, the 9/11 Commission referred to a document from the Department of Defense which stipulates that anyone in the chain of command may authorize the scrambling of jets in response to an air emergency when a request for assistance is made by civil authorities?

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- Did you know that the American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas has master tapes of the transmissions concerning Flight 11 which have been listened to by some of the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 and which indicate that authorities knew of multiple hijackings considerably before authorities officially acknowledged that such knowledge existed and in contradistinction to the findings of the 9/11 Commission?

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- Did you know that John Ogonowski, the captain of American Airlines Flight 11, apparently had activated a 'push-to-talk' switch undetected and that as early as 8:14 a.m. air traffic controllers in Boston were hearing voices from Flight 11 speaking in Arabic and heavily accented English saying, among other things, that "We have more planes. We have other planes"?

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- Did you know that the FAA superiors of the aforementioned air traffic controllers in Boston forbade the latter to talk to anyone about what they had heard from Flight 11?

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- Did you know that, based on the foregoing, by 8:14 a.m. the FAA had evidence that at least one plane, and possibly more, had been hijacked, that the multiple hijackings might be connected, and all of this evidence conflicts with the findings of the 9/11 Commission?

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- Did you know that prior to being ordered not to talk with anyone about what they (the air traffic controllers at the Boston center) had heard in conjunction with Flight 11, some of those air traffic controllers contacted a manager at Systems Operation Control about what had happened and, yet, several of the managers at SOC indicated that they were going to sit on this information?

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- Did you know that if steps had been taken at 8:14 a.m. to authorize commercial flights still on the ground to delay take-off in order to try to counter other possible hijackings, at least two, and possibly three, of the other flights involved in the events of 9/11 might have been advantageously affected since Flight 77 out of Dulles (which allegedly hit the Pentagon) did not take off until 8:20 a.m., and United Flight 93 (which crashed in Pennsylvania), did not lift off until 8:42 a.m., and even United Flight 175, which took off at 8:14 a.m., could have been authorized to return to the airport?

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- Did you know F-15 jet fighters were ordered scrambled from Otis Air Force base at 8:46 a.m., and because NEADS supposedly did not know where to direct these fighters (because NEADS officials claimed that the transponder for Flight 11 had been turned off) and, inexplicably, directed the fighters to not only take up a holding pattern off the coast of Long Island but to avoid the New York City area altogether despite the fact that one plane already had crashed into the north tower of the WTC?

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- Did you know that transponders are actually not needed to either locate or track a plane by radar?

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- Did you know that a number of NORAD officials who were on duty the morning of September 11, 2001 -- including Col. Robert Marr, Lt. Col. Dawne Deskins, and Major General Larry Arnold -- indicate that word of a possible hijacking had reached NORAD between 8:31 and 8:34 a.m. -- some 12-15 minutes before any planes were scrambled from Otis?

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- Did you know that according to The 9/11 Commission Report NORAD did not have knowledge of the hijacking of United Flight 175 until 9:03 a.m., when a phone call reportedly came into NEADS from the New York air traffic control center, and, yet, according to Master Sargent Maureen Dooly, a NORAD official on duty during the morning of September 11, 2001, she and other technicians with her were both tracking Flight 11 as well as connected with the Boston center and were aware by no later than 8:43 a.m. that United Flight 175 had been hijacked, some 20 minutes before the time stated by The 9/11 Commission Report -- and that Maureen Dooly’s account is backed up independently by other reports to NORAD by the FAA concerning the hijacking of Flight 175?

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- Did you know that F-15s have the capability of reaching speeds of 1,875 miles per hour and, therefore, could have reached New York City in as little as six minutes and, consequently, could have arrived as much as four minutes before the crash of Flight 175 into the south tower of the WTC?

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- Did you know that according to NORAD's data, the F-15s were still 71 miles away at the time of the second crash into the WTC buildings, and these fighters were 71 miles away because they had been ordered not to fly over New York City and because they had been diverted to a holding pattern off the coast of Long Island?

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- Did you know that if jet fighters had been scrambled as soon as there was evidence planes were being hijacked with a heading toward New York City (which was between 8:31 and 8:34 a.m.) both of the WTC-headed flights could have been intercepted prior to reaching their targets?

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- Did you know that President Bush was aware of the first airplane hitting the north tower of the WTC prior to going to the elementary school in Florida ( around 8: 53 a.m.), and he was aware that it was a commercial flight, and, yet, when Andrew Card later came into the classroom and whispered in the ear of President Bush that a second plane had hit the WTC and that the country was under attack, the President did nothing for approximately 10 to 20 minutes – even as he knew that the United States was being threatened – except to remain in the classroom?

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- Did you know that, apparently, despite knowing that the World Trade Center had been hit twice (according to Vice President Cheney, the Secret Service had established open communications with the FAA as early as 8:46 a.m.) and that the President of the United States was in a vulnerable position, nothing was done by the Secret Service to whisk the President away to a safe and secure location?

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- Did you know that according to Richard Clarke at 9:10 a.m. on September 11, 2001, senior officials (including, among others, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, Director of the CIA, Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State, Jane Garvey, FAA Administrator, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, Richard Myers, Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI, and officials from NORAD) were hooked up in a video conference to deal with the on-going crisis, and, yet, despite having over 36 minutes to deal with Flight 77, which allegedly crashed into the Pentagon around 9:38 a.m., and nearly an hour to deal with Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania somewhere between 10:03 and 10:10 a.m., this select group of leaders was, apparently, able to accomplish little or nothing with respect to defending the United States?

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- Did you know that American Airlines Flight 77, which eventually is supposed to have struck the Pentagon at 9:38 a.m., lifted off from Dulles at 8:20 a.m. and that the last transmission from Flight 77 was at 8:50 a.m. when the pilot for that flight acknowledged a directive from air traffic control to climb to a higher altitude?

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- Did you know that at 8:56 a.m. Flight 77 was detected deviating from its filed flight plan and moving in a southwesterly direction?

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- Did you know that the transponder for Flight 77 went off at around 8:56 a.m.?

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- Did you know that according to The 9/11 Commission Report, the radar information concerning Flight 77 was not being displayed to air traffic controllers for a period supposedly lasting at least from 8:56 a.m. to 9:05 a.m., and, therefore, air traffic controllers would not have seen Flight 77 turn back toward Washington, D.C.?

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- Did you know that according to the 9/11 Commission, Flight 77 traveled through US airspace undetected by FAA radar for some 36 minutes, and, yet, no request for assistance was directed to NORAD, which is reported to have the most sophisticated and advanced radar system in the world, and, in addition, NORAD was not able to detect the fact that there was an unidentified bogey (which is what a plane without an active transponder would be) that was flying toward Washington, D.C. ?

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- Did you know that the 9/11 Commission explains the 'disappearance' of Flight 77 as a matter of software problems that were causing radar information to not be properly processed, but the 9/11 Commission has no evidence to back up its assertion concerning the existence of software problems, and, furthermore, the Commission has no explanation for -- nor did it pursue the matter -- of how both FAA primary radar and NORAD's independent radar system were simultaneously having the same kind of 'technical' problems?

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- Did you know there is independent evidence (including radar reconstructions which took place after 9/11) from both the FAA and NORAD that are in contradistinction to the 9/11 Commission's declaration that no one knew that Flight 77 had turned back toward Washington and was en route to that city and that, in point of fact, both FAA and NORAD had been tracking most, if not all, of Flight 77's flight path for the entire period which the 9/11 Commission claims that Flight 77 had dropped off the radar screen?

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- Did you know that there are some reports indicating that, at the very least, the FAA re-established radar contact with Flight 77 as it flew east over West Virginia, a full 28 minutes before its alleged rendezvous with the Pentagon -- and in contradistinction to the 9/11 Commission's assertion that NORAD was not informed about Flight 77 until 4 minutes prior to impact (that is, 9:42 a.m.)?

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- Did you know that following the testimony of Jane Garvey -- the, then, Administrator for the FAA -- to the Commission, an official statement was read out which indicated that NORAD had been apprised of the hijacking of Flight 77 at 9:24 a.m., a full 10 minutes before the time stated by the Commission, and that, in addition, the FAA had been fully disclosing information to NORAD about events even prior to the 9:24 a.m. point in the time line?

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- Did you know that despite the fact that radio contact with Flight 77 had been lost, and despite the fact that Flight 77 deviated from its filed flight plan, and despite the fact that the transponder for Flight 77 was no longer on, and, despite the fact that, according to The 9/11 Commission Report, radar contact with Flight 77 'disappeared' altogether for a period of 32 minutes, no jet fighters were scrambled to investigate the matter, all in contravention of established protocols for dealing with such emergencies?

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- Did you know that F-16s were finally ordered by Major James Fox to scramble from Langley at 9:30 a.m. but were not given a specific target to intercept and, instead, were directed to fly toward Baltimore (not Washington, D.C.) which is the opposite direction from which they should have been flying?

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- Did you know that the pilots involved in this scramble order somehow interpreted their mission to be one of going into a holding pattern some 60 miles out to sea rather than fly to Baltimore?

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- Did you know that by the time the Pentagon was struck at 9:38 a.m., the F-16s from Langley were 150 miles away from being able to protect Washington, D.C.?

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- Did you know that Andrews Air Force base in Maryland is much closer to Washington, D.C. (10 miles) than is Langley Air force Base in Virginia?

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- Did you know that unlike the airplane crashes at the World Trade Center towers, the impact at the Pentagon did not produce any significant or noticeable seismic signature, and, yet, supposedly, large commercial airliners were involved in each of the three incidents?

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- Did you know that the 9/11 Commission states that Vice President Cheney was in the Emergency Operations bunker below the White House at 10:00 a.m.?

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- Did you know that in contradistinction to the unsubstantiated claim of the 9/11 Commission, both Richard Clarke, Head of Counterterrorism at the White House, and Norman Mineta, the Secretary of Transportation, place Vice President Cheney in the bunker below the White House some 35 minutes earlier than the 10:00 a.m. time line of The 9/11 Commission Report?

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- Did you know that at 9:25 a.m., after receiving clearance from the White House (in all likelihood Vice President Cheney), Jane Garvey, then Administrator of the FAA, issued a national ground stop order which directs all aircraft -- whether private, commercial, military, or police enforcement -- to land as quickly as is feasibly possible or to refrain from taking off?

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- Did you know that the air ban on military fighters was only retracted at 10:31 a.m. September 11, 2001?

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- Did you know that according to a 9/11 Commission staff report (17), Vice President Cheney received an order from President Bush to shoot down any hostile aircraft, commercial or otherwise, sometime between 10:10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m., after all four hijacked planes had crashed?

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- Did you know that while the 9/11 Commission claims that Richard Clarke did not receive the shoot-down order until 10:25 a.m., Richard Clarke, himself, reported that he had received a shoot-down authorization somewhere between 9:45 and 9:50 a.m.?

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- Did you know that according to the standard operating protocols of the Department of Defense and the FAA, it is not necessary to receive an authorization from the President in order for jet fighters to either intercept 'deviant' flights or to proceed through the graduated set of established steps for responding to an air emergency such as a hijacking?

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- Did you know that Federal Aviation Deputy Chief Monty Belger was monitoring a target on radar approaching Washington, D.C. and that a young man was communicating this tracking information to both Cheney and Rice in the Emergency Operations Center beneath the White House, and, yet, no orders were given to evacuate any buildings including the White House, the Capitol building, or the Pentagon?

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- Did you know that The 9/11 Commission Report claims that no one in the government knew that an aircraft was approaching the Pentagon until 9:36?

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- Did you know that Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who was in the Emergency Operations Center beneath the White House with Vice President Cheney, testified before the 9/11 Commission that he witnessed a young man continue to update the Vice President about the manner in which the incoming craft was fast approaching Washington, D.C., and Secretary Mineta furthered witnessed the young man ask the Vice President "Do the orders still stand?", to which the Vice President responded by turning his neck around in order to face the man and said: "Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?" and this conversation took place between 9:25 a.m. and 9:26 a.m.?

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- Did you know that The 9/11 Commission Report apparently simply ignored this testimony of Secretary Mineta in its final report?

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- Did you know that the Secret Service who was accompanying the President on his trip to Florida has some of the most advanced telecommunications equipment in the world, and, despite this, the President supposedly did not issue his shoot-down order until more than an hour and a half after knowledge that hijackings had occurred was well established by both the FAA and NORAD?

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- Did you know that NORAD was notified at 10:07 a.m. by the FAA that Flight 93 had been hijacked, but air traffic controllers had known that the plane had been hijacked since at least 9:30 a.m. (CNN reported that the FAA passed on this information as early as 9:16 a.m., and this was corroborated by both the FAA and NORAD), and no one, including the 9/11 Commission, was able to determine why there was a delay of between 37 and 47 minutes in both communicating this information and following established procedures with respect to hijackings?

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- Did you know that without evidentiary justification, the 9/11 Commission simply dismissed the 9:15 a.m. timeline with respect to the Flight 93 hijacking as being "incorrect"?

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- Did you know that Flight 93 is reported to have crashed at 10:06 a.m.?

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- Did you know that Major David Nash, one of the pilots who had been dispatched from Otis Air Force base in Massachusetts to fly to New York City, indicated that upon returning to base he was informed that an F-16 had shot down an airliner over Pennsylvania?

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- Did you know that secondary debris and human remains, as well as part of a jet engine, were found scattered along a path of up to eight miles from the alleged crash site in Pennsylvania of Flight 93, facts which are not consistent with a plane having crashed in a field as passengers fought for control of the plane, but, on the other hand, such facts are consistent with a plane having been shot down in mid-air?

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- Did you know that the Nashville Register reported that an air traffic controller, despite being instructed to say nothing, stated that there had been an F-16 on the radar screen which was circling, and within visual range of, Flight 93 at the time of its crash in Pennsylvania?

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- Did you know that as of September 12, 2006, the Data Recorder for Flight 93 had not been released to the public and that the voice recorder, to which some members of the 9/11 families have listened, is inconclusive as to whether, or not, passengers actually were able to gain access to the cockpit prior to the time of the flight's reported crash?

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- Did you know that on a consistent basis with respect to each of the four hijackings which took place on 9/11, jet fighters were either not scrambled in a timely fashion, or they were not given the position of the targets that they were suppose to intercept, or were inexplicably sent to air space where they would be ineffective, or they were ordered to stand down, or they were authorized to shoot down a commercial aircraft which the military insists did not take place despite the fact there is considerable evidence which runs counter to the military's position?

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- Did you know that there are at least three official stories concerning what happened in relation to the scrambling of jets on September 11, 2001: (1) the one put forth by General Richard Myers, then acting chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mike Snyder, a spokesperson for NORAD, that no military aircraft were scrambled until after the crash at the Pentagon; (2) the version officially released by NORAD on September 18, 2001 which claimed the FAA failed to inform NORAD in a timely fashion about any of the hijackings and, thereby, made interception of the hijacked planes impossible; and, (3) the position of The 9/11 Commission Report which places much of the responsibility for failure to scramble on the incompetence of the FAA -- but all three of these versions are contradicted by established facts?

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- Did you know that on September 11, 2001, the intelligence community and the military were engaged in at least three war game scenarios -- such as Vigilant Guardian and Northern Vigilance -- which were probing various logistical and strategic themes that had to do with hijackings, air attacks, and terrorism and were designed to, among other things, test American readiness to effectively deal with such threats?

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- Did you know that the 9/11 Commission refused to explore the possibility that any of these war games may have interfered, to varying degrees, with the ability of the FAA and the military to efficaciously respond to the 'real' threats of 9/11 -- especially in light of the fact that some of these war games were using scripted software which would produce simulated attacks on radar screens and in light of the fact that both the FAA and NORAD had reports of several 'phantom' planes which appeared on the radar screens during the interval between 8:45 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.?

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- Did you know that these war games were planned and implemented despite the fact that both the intelligence community and the Department of Defense were receiving multiple indications from numerous countries (such as Britain, Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, and Afghanistan) that a terrorist threat was imminent in early September 2001 ... possibly involving highjacked planes?

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