History Commons Groups

February 25, 2021

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Richard Myers’s Actions During the Attacks, Pre-9/11 Warnings About Al-Qaeda, and More

A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons. The majority of these deal with events that took place on September 11, 2001, with a particular focus on the actions of General Richard B. Myers, the highest-ranking military officer in the United States when the terrorist attacks occurred; others describe notable incidents that occurred before 9/11, such as warnings issued by key individuals about the threat posed by al-Qaeda and discussions within government agencies about killing Osama bin Laden.

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers Learned of the Attacks on the World Trade Center

Many new timeline entries provide details of the response of Myers to the 9/11 attacks. Myers was at the time vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, General Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was out of the country for most of the day of September 11 and so Myers stood in for him as acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Myers was on Capitol Hill, about to go into a 9 o’clock meeting with Senator Max Cleland, when he learned of the first crash at the World Trade Center from seeing it reported on television. He went ahead with the meeting and, he has recalled, learned of the second crash at the WTC when someone came in and passed on the news of what had happened.

In response to the second crash, General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, called Colonel Matthew Klimow, Myers’s executive assistant, at the Pentagon and said he urgently wanted to talk to Myers. Klimow then called Myers and let him know that NORAD needed to speak to him. Eberhart reached Myers while he was on Capitol Hill, and updated him on what was happening and the actions NORAD was taking in response to the attacks.

Myers subsequently headed back to the Pentagon and, as he was setting out, was informed that the Pentagon had just been attacked. Klimow, meanwhile, received a call from Shelton’s plane, which was flying the chairman to Europe, and during the call passed on the news of the Pentagon attack.

While Myers was on the road, he called Klimow and was given an update on what had happened at the Pentagon. After his car reached the Pentagon, he joined Klimow at the River Entrance and the two men then headed to the National Military Command Center (NMCC).

Myers Responded to the Attacks from the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center

They reached the NMCC at around 9:58 a.m. and Myers started participating in a conference call being conducted from there. However, he soon decided to leave the center to search for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but was unable to find him. Apparently shortly after returning to the NMCC, he asked Klimow to check that a special military plane called the National Airborne Operations Center had been launched in response to the attacks.

Myers talked to Eberhart for the second time that morning after he reached the NMCC and the two men discussed “rules of engagement” for American fighter jets launched in response to the attacks, but they subsequently took no action to ensure the rules they established were passed on to the pilots of the fighters. Furthermore, during the call, Myers failed to pass on the important information that Vice President Dick Cheney had authorized the military to shoot down suspicious aircraft.

After Rumsfeld arrived in the NMCC, at around 10:30 a.m., he and Myers continued work on the rules of engagement that the vice chairman had established with Eberhart. Then, at 11:00 a.m., the two men, along with several more senior officials at the Pentagon, participated in a secure video teleconference with other government agencies where the main issue discussed was the rules of engagement for fighters. As Myers and Rumsfeld left the conference room following the teleconference, the secretary of defense suddenly asked those in the NMCC what else they thought the terrorists could do and Myers immediately suggested the possibility of them committing an attack involving nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons.

Myers subsequently instructed Klimow to contact General Tommy Franks, commander in chief of the US Central Command, who was away in Europe, and tell him to return to the US and start considering how the military should respond to the terrorist attacks.

Myers and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Relocated to the Executive Support Center

There had been concerns about the deteriorating air quality while Myers, Rumsfeld, and their colleagues were participating in the secure video teleconference, and an air quality expert subsequently warned that the oxygen level in the NMCC was dangerously low. This led Myers, Rumsfeld, and their entourage to leave the NMCC shortly after midday and relocate to the Executive Support Center (ESC), a secure communications hub on the third floor of the Pentagon.

Shortly after they arrived at the ESC, Myers gave Rumsfeld an update during which he mentioned that he had received the final recommended rules of engagement for fighters from Eberhart, and Rumsfeld then approved these rules. But written rules of engagement were apparently only circulated by the Department of Defense at 1:45 p.m., hours after the terrorist attacks ended.

Additionally, at some point after Myers, Rumsfeld, and their colleagues arrived at the ESC, an Army officer who had witnessed the Pentagon attack spoke to them about what he’d seen and confirmed that the Pentagon had been hit by an American Airlines plane. Rumsfeld also called Sergei Ivanov, the Russian defense minister, and requested that the Russian military stand down an exercise it had been conducting near Alaska.

Around 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Myers and Rumsfeld went outside to inspect the site of the Pentagon attack and observed the damage to the building. Rumsfeld subsequently visited the crash site again, accompanied by a number of aides and also Senators Carl Levin and John Warner, whom he had invited to visit the Pentagon. And at 5:25 p.m., he announced to his colleagues that, despite the unprecedented attack there, the Pentagon would open as usual the following day and he wanted everyone to report for work.

At 6:30 p.m., Myers participated in a secure video teleconference held by the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council during which the committee’s members discussed how the US should respond to the terrorist attacks. Then at 10:30 p.m., the vice chairman held a “war council” meeting with the senior directors of the Joint Staff, where “planning for future action” was discussed.

Local Police Secured the Pentagon Site

A few entries describe events that took place at the Pentagon on September 11, which Myers was not involved with. Members of the Arlington County Police Department arrived at the Pentagon minutes after it was attacked and promptly started securing the perimeter of the Pentagon Reservation. And yet, despite the extensive security measures that were implemented, a crew apparently made up of illegal immigrants was later allowed by the Secret Service to enter the Pentagon site to help clean up debris, even though its members had no identification with them.

Additionally, at some point after Chief Edward Plaugher of the Arlington County Fire Department reached the Pentagon following the attack there, he told a senior military official that he thought the NMCC was unsafe and needed to be evacuated, but the official refused his advice.

FBI and CIA Experts Gave Warnings Before 9/11 About the Threat Posed by Bin Laden

Most of the other entries describe events that took place before 9/11, which dealt with concerns regarding the threat that al-Qaeda and the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, were believed to pose to the US, and the fear that a major terrorist attacks was going to take place.

In late 1999, John O’Neill, the FBI’s top expert on al-Qaeda, told a group of CIA officials of his concern that an attack was imminent and the terrorist group was going to try to bring down the WTC. In July 2001, Richard Blee, head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, told other senior CIA officials that he thought bin Laden was comparable to Adolf Hitler before World War II and the threat posed by al-Qaeda would be significantly reduced if he was killed. Around the same time, Cofer Black, director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, told a visiting group from the Middle East that a major attack against US interests was going to occur.

A few days later, Blee went to Black with evidence that had been compiled suggesting al-Qaeda would attack the US in the near future, and the two men then presented this evidence to CIA Director George Tenet. Tenet was so unsettled that he immediately went to the White House with his two colleagues, and they showed the information to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and other officials there.

Warnings about the terrorist threat were also made by Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Putin met George W. Bush at a summit in June 2001, he warned the US president about Islamic extremists who he said could cause a “major catastrophe.” And just two days before 9/11, he phoned Bush and told him Russia believed a terrorist event that had been “long in preparation” could be imminent.

Fear of al-Qaeda led to discussions about assassinating the group’s leader. Around late June 2001, the CIA held two exercises at its headquarters where the issues around killing bin Laden with an armed drone aircraft were considered. A short time later, a meeting was held at CIA headquarters during which A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard, the CIA’s executive director, asked representatives from various agencies if they thought a man in a video should be assassinated, based on evidence that he was bin Laden.

Finally, an entry describes how a major sovereign wealth fund bought a huge amount of two-year Treasury notes on September 10, 2001, which significantly increased in value in response to the attacks the following day, thereby making the buyer millions.

It is essential that History Commons receives donations in order to stay online and continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

March 28, 2020

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Hijackers Arrive at Dulles Airport, FBI Behaves Suspiciously, Vice President Gives Shootdown Authorization, and More

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — Matt @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, many of them providing important details about the events of September 11, 2001, and others describing notable incidents that took place before and after 9/11.

Hijackers Were Recorded on Video at Dulles Airport

The majority of the new entries describe events that took place on September 11. A number of them describe the arrival of the five alleged hijackers of Flight 77 at Washington’s Dulles International Airport.

Khalid Almihdhar and Majed Moqed were the first of the hijackers to check in at the American Airlines ticket counter at the airport. Minutes later, the two men entered the airport’s west security checkpoint and, despite setting off alarms when they walked through the metal detectors, were cleared to proceed on their way.

About 10 minutes later, brothers Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi arrived at the ticket counter, and, despite missing the official deadline for doing so by a few minutes, were allowed to check in. They then entered the west checkpoint and although Nawaf Alhazmi set off the alarms when he walked through the two metal detectors, both men were eventually permitted to proceed.

The other hijacker, Hani Hanjour, checked in at the ticket counter shortly before or shortly after the Alhazmis, although the exact time when he did so is unknown. He then passed through the security checkpoint without any problems.

Dulles Airport was the only one of the airports used by the 9/11 hijackers that had videotaping equipment in use at its security checkpoints, and the Flight 77 hijackers were filmed as they checked in and went through the west checkpoint.

FBI Said Airport Employees Could Have Colluded With the Hijackers

Events at Dulles Airport that took place later in the day are described in other new timeline entries. Within two hours of the Pentagon attack, which occurred at 9:37 a.m., the airport was locked down, which meant no one was allowed to enter or leave. Then, at around 12:40 p.m., a team of 50 FBI agents arrived and began the FBI’s investigation of the hijacking of Flight 77.

Agents asked Steve Wragg, a manager in charge of the airport for the company Argenbright Security, and another manager to help identify the screeners who worked at the west checkpoint, and suggested these screeners could be guilty of colluding with the hijackers. When investigators interviewed the screeners, they were allegedly only concerned with what the screeners might have done wrong and uninterested in the Flight 77 hijackers. Furthermore, they refused to let Wragg get involved with the interviews of his employees, even just to act as a translator for those with limited English-speaking skills.

And when Ed Nelson, a security manager at the airport, watched surveillance camera footage of the west checkpoint with FBI agents, he was astonished that the agents were able to quickly pick out the five hijackers from the hundreds of people passing through the checkpoint.

Successful Entrepreneur Was Killed by a Hijacker

A number of entries relate to the killing of Daniel Lewin–a highly successful Internet entrepreneur who was a passenger on Flight 11–by one of the hijackers. Lewin reportedly had his throat slashed by Satam Al Suqami when the hijackers took over his plane. However, about 30 minutes later, the operations center at FAA headquarters heard over a conference call that a passenger on Flight 11–presumably Lewin–had been shot.

Later on, at 9:20 a.m., an FAA security inspector talked on the phone with a manager at American Airlines and was similarly informed that Lewin had been shot dead by Al Suqami. Early in the evening, an internal FAA memorandum was written, which included the details of this phone call, but various agencies and investigations subsequently determined that the alleged shooting never happened and Lewin was instead killed with a knife.

Curiously, the high-tech firm that Lewin co-founded and ran–Akamai–had been visited just two months before then by Richard Clarke, the White House counterterrorism chief, and asked to protect the White House website against an imminent attack by a computer virus.

Vice President Authorized the Military to Shoot Down Hijacked Aircraft

At the White House, Ashley Snee, Vice President Dick Cheney’s special assistant, became concerned that terrorists might attack the building after she saw the second crash at the World Trade Center on television, but assumed it was considered safe since Cheney was being allowed to stay in his office.

Later on, after a suspicious plane was spotted heading toward Washington, DC, a Navy officer at the White House was called by a senior official at the Pentagon who wanted permission for fighter jets to shoot down hijacked aircraft. The officer, Anthony Barnes, passed on the request to Cheney and the vice president immediately authorized the military to engage the suspicious aircraft. Barnes then informed the Pentagon official of Cheney’s order.

At the CIA, a secure phone line was set up, but because this was kept constantly connected to the White House, the CIA was unable to receive the latest information about the attacks from the National Security Agency over it.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court building in Washington was only evacuated at 10:15 a.m.–more than half an hour after the Pentagon was attacked–despite being a potential target for terrorists. And in Stahlstown, Pennsylvania, a man called 9-1-1 and described to the operator his observations of the final minutes of Flight 93 before the hijacked plane crashed into the ground.

Government Websites Were Attacked by Hackers

Throughout the morning, United Airlines, which owned two of the four hijacked airliners, received many reports about threats and other emergencies that turned out to be incorrect. Another problem was that numerous key websites, including government websites and news websites, went offline, allegedly due in part to malicious attacks by computer hackers.

Around mid-afternoon, President Bush was able to have a short phone conversation with his parents, former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, who were at a hotel in Wisconsin after the plane they were traveling on was instructed to land at the nearest airport. Then, in spite of the seriousness of the day’s events, George H. W. Bush left the hotel and spent his time playing a relaxed game of golf at the course across the street.

Terrorists Attempted to Simultaneously Hijack Three Planes in 1970

A number of new timeline entries describe events that took place in the years before 9/11. The earliest of these occurred in 1970, when terrorists tried to simultaneously hijack three planes bound for the US and subsequently blew up two of them, along with another hijacked plane, at an airfield in Jordan.

Entries describe two training exercises held by the North American Aerospace Defense Command that had similarities to the 9/11 attacks. The first of these, held in January 1999, was based around the scenario of terrorists planning to crash a stolen aircraft into the White House; the second, held five months later, was based around the same scenario.

Former Intelligence Official Warned the CIA of the Attacks

A few entries describe apparent warning signs of the 9/11 attacks in the months before they occurred. These include the recording by the United States of telephone conversations between Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, and three other men apparently talking in code about the 9/11 plot.

Additionally, Mehmet Eymur, a retired Turkish intelligence official, has claimed that he alerted the CIA to the imminent attacks just over a month before they occurred, but his warning was ignored. And in May 2001, alleged hijacker Mohamed Atta was witnessed examining the security checkpoints at Logan International Airport in Boston, but no action was taken when the witnesses reported their concerns about his behavior.

A couple of notable incidents that took place on the evening before 9/11 at Dulles Airport are described. Firstly, one or two of the alleged hijackers were recorded by the airport’s security cameras. And secondly, a group of Middle Eastern men, which allegedly included two of the hijackers, got into a confrontation with an employee after they tried to get to a secure area. And yet FBI agents who came to the airport the following day were apparently unwilling to look into the incident after the employee told them about it.

Former Business Associate of President Trump Assisted US Intelligence

An entry describes work conducted before 9/11 by Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman, for US intelligence agencies, which included obtaining Osama bin Laden’s satellite telephone numbers. Sater, who is now known for his past business ties with President Trump, continued his intelligence work after 9/11 and provided valuable information about al-Qaeda.

A few other events that took place in the years since 9/11 are covered in new timeline entries. These include the astonishing revelation that the FBI stated five years after the event that it had “no assurances as to who really carried out the attacks.”

More recently, in March 2018, a Syrian-born German national who has been accused of recruiting several of the alleged 9/11 hijackers to al-Qaeda was arrested and detained by Kurdish fighters in Syria. In interviews later that year, the man, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, denied any involvement in the 9/11 attacks or ever having foreknowledge of them.

It is essential that History Commons receives donations in order to stay online and continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

December 3, 2019

History Commons May Disappear – Please Donate, Tell People

Filed under: Uncategorized — paxvector @ 1:57 pm

What is the History Commons?* One of the most important and invisible, useful and unknown websites on the internet — and without better funding, it may disappear from the web. You might not have heard of it, but it’s been used and referenced by an array of well-known investigative authors and journalists, including Glenn Greenwald, Craig Unger, James Ridgeway and Peter Lance; see section at this article’s end. HistoryCommons.org is a documentation & research tool driven by a relational database and public input, with editorial oversight. It’s proof-in-practice of the Mosaic Theory of Intelligence Gathering, but for the public interest, the people, our posterity and future generations. HistoryCommons.org is best known for the Complete 9/11 Timeline, but the site hosts over 30 timeline projects on diverse subjects such as elections, wars and foreign interventions, civil liberties, health care, climate change, and other important domestic and foreign policy issues.


HistoryCommons.org is run by the underfunded, unsung Derek Mitchell of the Center for Grassroots Oversight. No one is paid, current contributions aren’t covering basic maintenance, and the site goes down periodically. A years-planned overhaul and upgrade of the site has not gotten underway due to lack of funds — and fund-raising expertise.

If you care about the History Commons and appreciate its contribution to the world, please donate now at HistoryCommons.org, and/or appeal to others to do so. Spread the word about the History Commons. If you have experience in PR, fund-raising, grant-writing, etc., and can offer your services pro bono, please contact HistoryCommons.org today.

Please click here to donate to History Commons.


*DISCLOSURE: I’m a supporter of and contributor to History Commons – Erik Larson

Full article at Medium:

View at Medium.com

April 22, 2019

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Government Agencies’ Initial Responses to the Attacks, John O’Neill’s Warnings about Al-Qaeda, and More

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — Matt @ 3:20 am
Tags: , , , ,

A large number of new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, covering a wide range of events relating to the 9/11 attacks. Entries cover, among other things, various warning signs of what was going to happen on September 11, 2001; the actions of John O’Neill, the FBI’s top al-Qaeda expert; and new details of what happened on the day of 9/11.

CIA Was Initially Unsure Which Group Was Likely Behind the Attacks

Many entries describe events that occurred on September 11, 2001. Some of them describe the initial reactions and responses of government and military agencies to the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Top officials at CIA headquarters learned about the first crash during their regular 8:30 a.m. meeting, but they were initially unsure whether the incident was a terrorist attack or an accident. However, Richard Blee, chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, immediately told his colleagues at the Counterterrorist Center at CIA headquarters, “That’s bin Laden or al-Qaeda” when he saw the coverage of the crash on television. Unlike him, though, some analysts at the Counterterrorist Center initially concluded that Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, was to blame for the attacks. An article written by CIA analysts published a week or two before then had in fact claimed that Hezbollah was a greater threat to the United States than al-Qaeda.

Later on, Blee asked the FAA liaison at the Counterterrorist Center to provide the CIA with the passenger lists for the hijacked planes, but the liaison refused and so Blee had to ask FBI agents deployed to his unit to see if they could get the lists for him. Consequently, at around 1:00 p.m., CIA Director George Tenet received copies of the lists and he immediately noticed that the list for Flight 77 included the names of two known al-Qaeda members.

Later that afternoon, a few FBI agents in New York were told the names of some suspected hijackers during a conference call with FBI headquarters and one of the agents became enraged when he recognized one of these suspected hijackers as someone the FBI had been investigating.

Government Lawyers Discussed the Terrorist Attacks

After the second crash at the WTC, Timothy Flanigan, the deputy White House counsel, talked on the phone with Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and was told what the Justice Department knew about the crashes, and he was surprised to hear that the FBI was treating them as crimes rather than acts of war.

Later that morning, Flanigan and another White House lawyer discussed whether the president had the legal authority to order the shooting down of a civilian aircraft, and they consulted a lawyer at the Pentagon who told them he did have this authority. That afternoon, Flanigan discussed how the US government could respond to the terrorist attacks with White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, and Yoo said the president “could take just about any action he wished.”

Meanwhile, at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, DC, Bruce Baughman, a senior official with the agency, had to take charge because FEMA’s top officials were away from Washington, attending a conference. At the Pentagon, Defense Intelligence Agency personnel “swung into crisis management” in response to the attacks on the WTC, but they did not evacuate and so a number of them were killed when the Pentagon was attacked, at 9:37 a.m.

However, bomb technicians from the FBI’s New York field office were more fortunate, surviving the attacks because they were away for training that morning, while the one technician who stayed behind in New York died when the WTC collapsed as he was responding to the crashes.

When the Twin Towers came down, the New York field office was rendered unusable and so FBI agents quickly established a makeshift replacement facility at a parking garage in Manhattan, where they were based over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, two FBI agents in Phoenix, Arizona, visited a local flight school to see if any suspicious students had been there recently and the manager immediately gave them the file of Hani Hanjour, the hijacker who reportedly was at the controls of Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon.

Flight 77 Passenger Called Her Husband from the Hijacked Plane

Several new timeline entries describe the attempts by Barbara Olson, a passenger on Flight 77, to call her husband, Ted Olson, the solicitor general of the United States, on the morning of September 11 and her two successful calls from the hijacked plane.

Beginning at around 9:00 a.m., a secretary in Ted Olson’s office at the Department of Justice received a series of unsuccessful calls featuring just an automated message, which were presumably made by Barbara Olson. Barbara Olson’s first successful call, made sometime between 9:15 a.m. and 9:25 a.m., initially reached an operator, who Barbara Olson provided with details of the hijacking before she was connected to her husband’s office. Barbara Olson then talked to Ted Olson and gave him several details of the hijacking, but the call got cut off after about a minute.

Ted Olson promptly called the Department of Justice command center and passed on the information his wife had given to him. Then, at sometime between 9:20 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., he received a second call from his wife in which she gave him further details of the hijacking of Flight 77 before the call got cut off. Subsequently, when Ted Olson saw the television reports about an explosion at the Pentagon, he immediately concluded that his wife’s plane had crashed at the Department of Defense’s headquarters.

Barbara Olson’s calls to her husband were believed to be among four calls from Flight 77 that were recorded as being made to unknown numbers, although there was no “direct evidence” showing this. It is also possible that Barbara Olson called her husband’s number at his old law firm that morning and left voicemail messages for him.

FAA Followed an Unidentified Plane Approaching Washington before the Pentagon Was Hit

A few entries describe miscellaneous events from the day of 9/11.

At FAA headquarters, officials followed an unidentified aircraft–presumably Flight 77, which reportedly crashed into the Pentagon–as it approached Washington and its progress was reported over a teleconference. Around the same time, senior officials in the Executive Support Center at the Pentagon who were discussing how to respond to the attacks on the WTC rejected the idea of evacuating their building.

After the Pentagon was hit, authorities failed to evacuate Secretary of Commerce Don Evans from his office at the Commerce Department in line with “Continuity of Government” plans and so Evans eventually went home of his own accord. And shortly after the Pentagon was attacked, firefighters were sent to the White House after the Secret Service incorrectly reported that a plane had crashed into it.

Later on, personnel in the White House Situation Room learned of a plane supposedly flying toward the US from Portugal that appeared to be hijacked, but it is was subsequently determined that the alleged flight did not exist. And I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, wondered if the recent assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, was carried out as part of the preparations for the day’s terrorist attacks.

Sometime that afternoon, Cheney’s doctors received the results of a blood test, which indicated that the vice president was at serious risk of a heart attack. Despite the apparent danger, Cheney refused to have another blood sample taken that evening, but tests on a sample he gave the following morning showed that the previous test results were incorrect and his health was in fact fine.

Some Officials Warned of the Danger Posed by Al-Qaeda

Numerous new timeline entries cover events that took place in the years before 9/11. Some of them describe incidents that indicated the type of attacks that would occur on September 11 or the predictions of those who foresaw these kinds of attacks.

FBI terrorism experts met after the bombing of the WTC in February 1993 to try and imagine what future terrorist attacks might involve, and they all agreed that these attacks could include multiple hijackings. And in January 2001, an interagency group recommended that federal buildings in Lower Manhattan, where the WTC was located, receive increased protection, due to the threat of terrorism. Also that month, Richard Clarke, the White House chief of counterterrorism, and Dale Watson, assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, met senior FBI agents from all around the US and warned them about the threat posed by al-Qaeda.

Furthermore, in April 1995, terrorist conspirator Abdul Hakim Murad gave FBI agents details of plots against the United States while he was being flown from the Philippines to the US, and one possible future attack he mentioned was a second bombing of the WTC.

FBI Counterterrorism Official Repeatedly Warned of the Al-Qaeda Threat

A number of entries describe the actions of John O’Neill, the FBI’s top expert on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Some of these entries deal with warnings O’Neill gave before 9/11 about the danger facing America.

In June 1997, O’Neill gave an extensive speech in which he warned of the threat posed by religious extremist groups, although he made no mention of bin Laden. And in May 2001, following the convictions of four men for their involvement in the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, he told a colleague that more al-Qaeda attacks were going to occur.

In summer 2001, O’Neill and two other senior FBI officials met New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and presented evidence of an imminent al-Qaeda plot, although they said any attack was most likely to occur outside the US. Around the same time, O’Neill talked to Kerik during an event in Washington and told him something “enormous” was going to happen, but he said it would occur abroad rather than in the US.

Other entries describe events that caused O’Neill to get in trouble with his superiors and led to his early retirement from the FBI in August 2001. O’Neill was placed under investigation after an incident in the summer of 1999, when he violated security protocols by taking his girlfriend to a secret FBI garage and letting her use the bathroom there. In April 2000, he accidentally left his handheld computer, which held the details of his police contacts, at the Yankee Stadium, although a guard was fortunately able to retrieve it for him.

The most serious incident occurred in July 2000, when his briefcase, which contained important classified information, was stolen after he left it unattended during a conference. Just over a year later, the New York Times publicly revealed that the FBI had been investigating O’Neill over this incident.

Hijackers Threatened to Crash a Plane into a Building in the 1970s

A few entries cover miscellaneous events that took place before 9/11. Two entries describe incidents from the 1970s. Organizers of the 1972 Munich Olympics asked police psychologist Georg Sieber to predict worst-case scenarios for the games and one of the scenarios he then came up with involved neo-fascists deliberately crashing a jet aircraft into the packed Olympic Stadium in a suicide attack. Later that year, three men hijacked a commercial airliner and threatened to crash it into a nuclear plant, and authorities subsequently feared they might crash it into President Richard Nixon’s winter home in Florida.

A couple of entries describe training events that took place shortly before 9/11. A coalition of public and private organizations participated in two exercises in the summer of 2001, based on the scenario of a major hurricane hitting Long Island, New York, and these organizations benefited from the experience just weeks later, when they had to respond to the attacks on the WTC. And in July 2001, presumably as part of a training exercise, officials contemplated how they would respond to a chemical terrorist attack in the middle of Washington.

CIA Official Called 9/11 ‘a Triumph for the Intelligence Community’

Finally, a few entries cover events that occurred shortly after 9/11.

The FBI’s New York field office, which usually dealt with al-Qaeda attacks, argued with FBI headquarters over which of them should lead the investigation of the 9/11 attacks and, against precedent, FBI Director Robert Mueller put the headquarters in charge of it.

Three days after 9/11, New York’s Office of Emergency Management opened a massive new operations center at Pier 92 on the Hudson River, since its original operations center was destroyed when WTC Building 7, where it was located, collapsed on the afternoon of September 11.

And, alarmingly, an unnamed high-ranking CIA official told a reporter that be believed Americans would eventually see that “September 11 was a triumph for the intelligence community, not a failure.”

Please consider donating to History Commons, to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

July 24, 2018

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: The Office of Emergency Management on 9/11, the FBI’s Response to the Attacks, Events at the Pentagon, and More

New entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, which describe many incidents relating to the 9/11 attacks, including new details of what happened on September 11, 2001, and some notable pre-9/11 events.

Fire Alarm System in WTC 7 Was on ‘Test Condition’

Several new timeline entries describe incidents that occurred on September 11 in World Trade Center Building 7, a 47-story skyscraper located north of the Twin Towers that collapsed at 5:20 p.m. that day. At 8:46 a.m., when the first hijacked plane crashed into the North Tower, the electrical power in WTC 7 briefly went off for reasons that are unclear. Similarly, at 9:03 a.m., when the second hijacked plane hit the South Tower, “primary power” was lost and alarms warned that there was no water pressure in the building.

Also, for a period of eight hours, beginning at 6:47 a.m., the fire alarm system in WTC 7 was on “test condition,” which meant any alarms would be ignored. The alarm system had in fact been placed on test condition every morning in the week before then. Despite being in this mode, it detected a possible fire at 10:00 a.m., although this could have been the result of dust from the collapse of the South Tower entering smoke detectors rather than an actual fire occurring in WTC 7.

Office of Emergency Management’s Operations Center Was Activated

A number of entries describe the activities of New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which had its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on the 23rd floor of WTC 7. Shortly after the first crash occurred, the OEM activated the EOC in order to manage the city’s response to the incident. Then, at some point after the second crash, OEM staffers contacted the FAA to request fighter jets and were told federal support was on the way. Later on, apparently around 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon was attacked, firefighter Timothy Brown, a supervisor at the OEM, tried calling the White House and other agencies in Washington, DC, about getting fighters to protect New York but was unable to reach them.

Additionally, at around 9:30 a.m. OEM personnel were reluctantly evacuated from the EOC following a report that more commercial planes were unaccounted for. However, shortly after the Pentagon was hit, Brown heard over his radio that a suspicious aircraft that was supposedly heading toward New York had crashed. Later in the day, the OEM set up a new EOC at the Police Academy where its personnel got to work on the logistics of the rescue operation.

FBI Sent Specialized Teams to the WTC Site

Several new entries describe actions of the FBI around the time the terrorist attacks occurred. Early in the morning of September 11, New York agent Steve Bongardt read a report, which stated that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was reopening his underground facility in Afghanistan.

Following the first attack, Barry Mawn, director of the FBI’s New York office, sent specialized teams, including the Joint Terrorism Task Force, to the WTC site, even though he supposedly thought the crash was an accident. Meanwhile, at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, FBI Director Robert Mueller was alerted to the crash during his daily briefing with his senior staff, but he too did not initially realize the incident was a terrorist attack.

However, after the second hijacked plane hit the WTC, the FBI activated the Strategic Information and Operations Center at its headquarters, from where it subsequently coordinated its response to the attacks. Mueller was called from New York by Mawn, who told him fighters were needed to protect the city. And after the Pentagon was hit, nonessential employees were evacuated from the headquarters, apparently due to fears that the building could be a terrorist target.

Security Cameras Recorded the Attack on the Pentagon

A number of entries describe events at the Pentagon on September 11. Just before the headquarters of the Department of Defense was attacked, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his CIA briefer noticed a helicopter flying very close to the building, outside the window of Rumsfeld’s office.

When the Pentagon was hit, two security cameras located north of the crash site captured the impact, but the video they recorded was withheld from the public until 2006. Other security cameras failed to capture the attack because they were switched off or had been taken down due to construction work that was being carried out.

At some point later on that day, Secretary of the Army Thomas White was ordered to leave the Pentagon and go to a secure location outside Washington, but the decision to send him there was then found to have been a mistake and so he subsequently returned to the Pentagon.

Other entries describe a couple of miscellaneous events from the day of 9/11. After the planes crashed into the WTC, employees at Goldman Sachs’s Lower Manhattan offices were instructed to keep trading so the company could make money out of what was happening, according to a former managing director at the bank. And shortly before 10:30 a.m., during an interview with Fox News, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig suggested that al-Qaeda was behind the day’s terrorist attacks, even though he also said he didn’t “have inside knowledge.”

Security at the WTC Was Increased Just before 9/11

Several timeline entries describe notable events that occurred before 9/11. In March 2000, an operatic version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale was performed, which included a mock newsreel that reportedly showed the WTC being blown up. Also that month, a Justice Department lawyer wrote an analysis that, presciently, considered the legal issues involved in shooting down a commercial aircraft that was under the control of terrorists who intended to use it as a weapon.

Just two weeks before 9/11, security at the WTC was inexplicably raised. And, four days before 9/11, the radical British imam Abu Hamza al-Masri received a tip-off in a phone call from Afghanistan, which he believed was referring to an imminent attack on the United States. Then, on the evening before 9/11, stand-up comic George Carlin performed a new joke, which, ironically, was about a passenger aircraft exploding in mid-air and Osama bin Laden getting blamed for this.

Finally, a couple of new entries describe events that occurred after September 11. In the weeks following 9/11, morticians at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, found a secret note in the stomach of one of the Flight 77 passengers who died in the Pentagon attack, which the passenger wrote and then ate shortly before their death, but the morticians have refused to reveal what it says. And, as late as 2005, for reasons that are unstated, two of the planes that were hijacked and destroyed in the 9/11 attacks were still listed in the FAA’s aircraft registry as “active.”

Please consider donating to History Commons, to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

February 17, 2018

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: The White House on September 11, the Actions of Senior Pentagon Officials, the Flight 93 Passengers’ Revolt, and More

A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, the majority of which provide new details about the events of September 11, 2001.


Many new timeline entries describe events at the White House on September 11. Early that morning, Neil Bush, a younger brother of President Bush, was at the White House after spending the previous night there. When the terrorist attacks began, many staffers were busy preparing for the annual Congressional picnic, which was scheduled to take place on the South Lawn that evening. After the second attack on the World Trade Center occurred, a few staffers took the time to move all the picnic tables off the lawn and even continued with this task after the White House was evacuated.

Meanwhile, shortly after 9:30 a.m., while the attacks were still underway, an official at the White House told CNN it was being assumed that Osama bin Laden was behind the plane crashes at the WTC. After most White House personnel evacuated from the building, at 9:45 a.m., those who remained in the White House Situation Room requested protective gear, but when someone arrived with gas masks for them, they found there were too few to go around. One official in the Situation Room suggested activating the Emergency Alert System so as to send out a message to the American public, but no one with him knew what the message could state and so the proposal was rejected.

Sometime after 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon was attacked, the US Park Police worked with the Secret Service and the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police to shut down the area around the White House. And, remarkably, some staffers were still in the White House long after the building was evacuated, unaware of the attacks that had taken place that morning.


Several new entries examine the actions of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who were both at the Pentagon when the attacks occurred. Wolfowitz saw the second crash at the WTC live on television, at 9:03 a.m., but took no action in response to it and instead continued with a routine meeting in his office. When the Pentagon was hit, he was initially evacuated from the building, but a short time later he returned to it and went to the National Military Command Center.

Rumsfeld, meanwhile, went ahead with his daily intelligence briefing, even though his CIA briefer urged him to cancel it so as to respond to the crisis. He continued with the briefing, even though an aide had alerted him to the second crash and he’d realized the crash was “more than an accident.” Two other aides came to his office and urged him to cancel his schedule so he could respond to the attacks on the WTC, but he refused to do so because if he did, he said, “the terrorists have won.”


A few entries describe the actions of General John Keane, vice chief of staff of the Army, who was also at the Pentagon that morning. After he learned a plane had crashed into the WTC, Keane instructed his operations officer to bring the Army Operations Center (AOC) at the Pentagon up to full manning.

Shortly before the Pentagon was attacked, he talked on the phone with his operations officer about a suspicious plane that was approaching Washington and the two men discussed evacuating buildings in the capital, including the Pentagon. They were still talking to each other when the Pentagon was hit and Keane then told his operations officer to inform Army facilities around the world about the attack. Keane did not subsequently go straight to the AOC to respond to the crisis, however, and instead first went toward the crash site to help people find their way out of the building.


Numerous timeline entries describe what apparently happened in the cockpit of Flight 93–the fourth plane to be hijacked–based on the plane’s cockpit voice recording. Between 9:32 a.m. and 9:37 a.m., a woman presumed to be one of the flight attendants was ordered around by the hijackers and then apparently killed by them. Subsequently, one of the hijackers suggested that the plane’s original pilot be brought back into the cockpit, although this never happened. A hijacker then suggested that the plane’s fire axe be held up to the peephole in the cockpit door, mistakenly thinking the passengers would see it and be scared by it.

Beginning at 9:57 a.m., the cockpit voice recorder picked up the sounds of passengers apparently trying to get into the cockpit to retake control of the plane. In response to their actions, a hijacker suggested crashing the plane into the ground. The passengers continued their struggle until 10:03 a.m., when Flight 93 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

A woman saw the plane crashing behind some trees, about 1,500 yards from her home, and then became the first of around 20 local residents who called 9-1-1 to report the incident. Soon after the plane went down, dozens of “souvenir hunters” arrived at the crash site and tried removing debris from there.


Several entries relate to the phone call passenger Mark Bingham made to his mother from Flight 93. Bingham first tried to call his mother at 9:36 a.m., but a family friend who answered the phone found the line was dead. A minute later, he tried calling again and this time was successful, being able to tell his mother that his plane had been hijacked.

The call broke off after less than three minutes and he tried reaching his mother twice more, but both attempts were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Bingham’s mother contacted the FBI to tell it about the call and she also tried calling her son on his cell phone, but had to leave messages on voicemail.


Numerous entries describe events at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS). The “battle cab” at NEADS was, unusually, already manned when the attacks began because NEADS personnel were participating in a major training exercise that day. A number of trainees were also in the battle cab because they were going to observe a Russian military exercise taking place that week. Furthermore, due to the Russian exercise taking place, fighter jets that were on “alert”–ready for immediate takeoff if required–were carrying extra fuel and weapons, which meant their maximum speed was significantly reduced by the additional weight they carried.

At 9:04 a.m., NEADS contacted McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey to see if it had any tankers available that could support the fighters that had taken off in response to the first hijacking that morning and was told the base had two tankers airborne, which were carrying plenty of fuel. About 10 minutes later, NEADS directed one or perhaps both of these tankers into military training airspace east of New Jersey, over the Atlantic Ocean.

Just after 9:30 a.m., NEADS redirected one of these aircraft to a different area of military training airspace, off the coast of Maryland. Minutes earlier, it had instructed a third tanker from McGuire that was in the training airspace east of New Jersey to remain where it was, presumably so it would be available to refuel fighters if necessary.


Several new entries describe actions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In response to the attacks, the “Central Locator System” at FEMA headquarters began determining the locations of key government officials.

Meanwhile, personnel at FEMA’s Region II office in New York experienced communication problems following the attacks on the WTC and consequently an employee was instructed to go to the WTC site to liaise with officials there. Due to the South Tower collapsing, however, the employee went instead to the police headquarters, but, once there, he experienced various difficulties as he tried to respond to the attacks. At some time that day, a temporary Region II headquarters was established at an Army base in New Jersey, but the original Region II office in New York was back in operation by the following afternoon.


Other entries describe how the US government started arranging to send remotely controlled Predator aircraft over Afghanistan while the attacks were still underway. Shortly before the Pentagon was hit, Colonel Bill Grimes, who headed a secretive Air Force program based in Ohio, received a call from Air Force headquarters in which he was asked what needed to be done to get three Predators, and whatever was needed to fly them over Afghanistan, ready to go.

Meanwhile, within an hour of the first attack on the WTC, Lieutenant General Donald Cook, acting commander of the Air Combat Command, similarly received a call in which he was told the White House wanted to know how soon the Air Force could deploy Predators over Afghanistan. And two Air Force intelligence officers who were visiting Arizona were ordered to return to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, as soon as possible to get the Predator ready to be used over Afghanistan.

On September 12, a cargo plane took off from a Navy base in California to transport three Predators to Washington, where they would be ready to be sent to Afghanistan.


A few timeline entries describe miscellaneous other events from the day of 9/11. Senior officers at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska heard numerous reports throughout the day about serious terrorist activities, which turned out to be incorrect. At around midday, an AWACS plane took off from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, which subsequently accompanied the president’s plane as it made its way back to Washington. And early that afternoon, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who was on Air Force One with President Bush, told reporters on the plane that Bush had received “no warnings” of the terrorist attacks.

Finally, some new entries cover miscellaneous events that occurred in the years before 9/11. In 1974, an unemployed former tire salesman tried to hijack a commercial aircraft with the intent of crashing it into the White House but committed suicide when his attempt ran into difficulties. In 1989, renowned investigative reporter Jack Anderson warned in a television documentary that terrorists could crash a plane into a landmark building in Washington, such as the Pentagon or the White House.

In December 1998, NORAD conducted an exercise in which simulated missiles were injected into its radar systems, apparently in the same way that simulated information was injected onto its radar screens during an exercise on September 11. In 1999 or possibly earlier, award-winning playwright Tony Kushner wrote a play in which, presciently, Osama bin Laden was referred to and a character warned that Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban was “coming to New York.”

And at some time in the months before 9/11, President Bush canceled plans to upgrade the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, a bunker below the White House where numerous government officials went to respond to the attacks on September 11.

Please consider donating to History Commons, to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

July 29, 2017

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: President Bush’s Actions on September 11 and More

A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, most of which provide important details about the actions of President George W. Bush and his entourage on September 11, 2001.

President Bush Visited a School in Florida

President Bush received his daily intelligence briefing early in the morning of September 11, but the briefing included nothing about terrorism. A short time later, numerous members of his staff learned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center as his motorcade headed to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, and yet no one told him what had happened at that time.

Bush was told about the crash for the first time by Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, after his limousine arrived at the school. Subsequently, his senior adviser, Karl Rove, also told him about the crash. However, the president still took his time chatting with members of the official greeting party at the school, even though he was told he had to take an important call from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Secret Service agents who were with the president were unable to obtain any information about the crash at the WTC from their colleagues in Washington, DC, after they arrived at the school. Meanwhile, Mike Morell, Bush’s CIA briefer, called the CIA’s operations center when he reached the school and learned that the North Tower had been hit by a large commercial airliner. But personnel on Air Force One were unable to obtain precise information about what was happening, even after the second hijacked plane crashed into the WTC, at 9:03 a.m., and one officer wondered if a nation-state was behind the attacks.

Despite what had happened in New York, Bush decided to continue with the scheduled event at the school and at 9:02 a.m. entered a classroom to listen to the children there reading. A short time later, Andrew Card, his chief of staff, learned that a second plane had hit the WTC, and immediately thought Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were responsible. Minutes later, Card entered the classroom and told the president that America was “under attack.”

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer then held up a message for the president, instructing him, “DON’T SAY ANYTHING YET.” Bush therefore remained seated and listened to the children reading a story about a pet goat for the next five minutes. Even after the children finished the story, Bush stayed in the classroom to ask them questions and talk to the school’s principal.

Bush’s Staffers Were Concerned that Terrorists Would Attack the School

Major Paul Montanus, Bush’s military aide, wanted the president and his entourage to leave the school when he saw the second crash live on TV, and yet no evacuation took place at that time. And after the second crash occurred, Secret Service agents and other staffers accompanying the president were concerned that Bush could be in danger, with some of them worrying that terrorists might try to attack the school. But even after the reading demonstration ended, Bush was allowed to stay at the school.

Secret Service agents apparently only prepared to get him away from there at around 9:30 a.m. The motorcade only left the school to take the president and his entourage to Air Force One at around 9:34 a.m., more than half an hour after the second attack on the WTC took place.

The Secret Service was concerned that Bush might be attacked by terrorists as he was being driven to the Sarasota airport and provided his limousine with extensive security. During the journey, Bush talked to Condoleezza Rice using a cell phone and she told him the Pentagon had been attacked. The president and his entourage arrived at the airport by around 9:45 a.m. and then boarded Air Force One.

Palestinian Group Reportedly Claimed Responsibility for the Attacks

New timeline entries describe how, around that time, it was reported that a radical Palestinian group called the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) had claimed responsibility for the attacks on the WTC. But a short time later, the group publicly denied being behind the attacks.

Bush asked Mike Morell about the DFLP’s reported claim while Air Force One flew from Sarasota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and Morell said the group lacked the capability to carry out the attacks. Morell then called CIA headquarters, spoke to Cofer Black, director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, and was told by him that the agency knew “little beyond what the rest of the world knew” about the attacks.

As Air Force One approached Barksdale, Ari Fleischer told the reporters on board that Bush was being evacuated “for his safety and the safety of the country.” After the plane landed at the base, a member of Congress on board asked Morell who he thought was behind the attacks on the United States and Morell said he was sure al-Qaeda was to blame. Later on, after the plane took off from the base, Bush asked Morell the same question and Morell again answered that he was certain al-Qaeda was responsible.

While he was at Barksdale, Bush argued with his colleagues about where he should go next and was told it was unsafe for him to return to Washington. At 2:50 p.m., after leaving Barksdale, his plane landed at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where personnel had been preparing for his possible arrival. Remarkably, a local TV channel had people at the base and was therefore able to show live coverage of Air Force One landing there. After getting off his plane, Bush was taken to a command center several stories underground where he was given an update on the attacks.

When Air Force One left Offutt, at around 4:30 p.m., the plane finally headed toward Washington. During the journey to the capital, Morell passed on to Bush all the information the CIA by then had relating to the attacks, which included a warning that a group of al-Qaeda terrorists might be in the US, preparing for a second wave of attacks. Meanwhile, fearing that there could be a biological attack on the US, Dr. Richard Tubb, the White House physician, gave all the passengers on Air Force One a week’s worth of Cipro, a drug used to treat anthrax.

Bush Had Problems Communicating with Washington

Several timeline entries describe the significant problems Bush experienced communicating with his colleagues in Washington while the attacks were underway and throughout the day of 9/11. His attempts at making calls on a secure line while he was being driven from the Booker Elementary School to the Sarasota airport were unsuccessful because all the secure lines were down. And along with his staffers, he had problems communicating with colleagues in Washington after Air Force One left Sarasota.

White House counsellor Karen Hughes tried calling Bush from the capital but, to her alarm, the operator said he was unable to connect her to Air Force One. Additionally, Bush and his staffers were limited in their awareness of the catastrophe that was taking place because the TV reception on the plane was weak and intermittent.

Lives Were Saved by Orders that Kept Police Officers Away from the WTC

A few entries describe incidents that occurred in New York, shortly before and shortly after the first WTC tower collapsed. Numerous members of New York Police Department’s elite Emergency Service Unit avoided dying in the collapse because they were given an order that meant they had to get out of the WTC or delay going into it.

Around the same time, Joseph Morris, a commanding officer with the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD), told numerous PAPD officers to initially stay away from the Twin Towers after they arrived near the WTC and thus likely prevented many of them from being killed when the South Tower collapsed, at 9:59 a.m. After the South Tower came down, Morris ordered that the PAPD’s command bus be moved further away from the WTC and thereby likely prevented those in it being killed when the North Tower collapsed, at 10:28 a.m.

Finally, a couple of entries describe events that occurred before September 11. Around late July 2000, the Joint Forces Intelligence Command held a briefing in which the WTC and the Pentagon were identified as the buildings in the US most likely to be attacked by terrorists. And in June 2001, ABC News reporter John Miller gave a speech in which he discussed the growing indications that Osama bin Laden planned to carry out an attack in the US.

Please consider donating to History Commons, to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

November 14, 2016

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Training Exercises in New York, Fighter Jets’ Response on 9/11, Suspicious Man Arrested, and More

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — Matt @ 4:41 am
Tags: , ,

Many entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, covering various events relating to the 9/11 attacks, including a number of anti-terrorism training exercises held in the years leading up to 9/11 and various incidents from the day of September 11, 2001, itself.

Numerous Exercises Prepared for a Terrorist Attack in New York

Many new timeline entries describe training exercises that were held in New York before 9/11. These include Operation ICE, the city’s largest ever terrorism response exercise, which was held in November 1997 and included a simulated chemical attack near the World Trade Center. Another exercise, which tested the response to a biological attack, was held in June 1999 at the city’s new emergency command center in World Trade Center Building 7.

A major exercise called CitySafe, based around the scenario of a bioterrorist attack involving anthrax, was set to take place in September 1999–possibly on September 11–but was canceled due to an outbreak of West Nile virus in the city. In the summer of 2000, top city officials attended an exercise based around the scenario of a biological warfare agent being released at a sporting event and came up with a plan for shutting down Manhattan during a crisis.

In August 2001, members of the US Marine Corps’ Chemical Biological Incident Response Force participated in an exercise with members of the New York City Fire Department, during which the Fire Department’s response to the 1993 WTC bombing was discussed. And one week before 9/11, preparations were underway for an exercise that would develop plans for restoring operations in New York’s Financial District, where the WTC was located, after a terrorist attack.

Two exercises were held just three days before 9/11 at New York’s La Guardia Airport. One of these involved the Greater New York chapter of the American Red Cross training to deal with a terrorist attack with a biological weapon. The other, called Operation Low Key, was held by the New York City Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and was based around the scenario of a jet aircraft carrying about 150 passengers crashing at the end of the runway.

Also on September 8, 2001, an exercise was held at Inova Fairfax Hospital, just outside Washington, DC, based around the scenario of a terrorist attack with a chemical weapon.

New York Fire Chief Thought a Major Attack Was Imminent

A couple of timeline entries describe the concerns of Chief Ray Downey of the New York City Fire Department, before 9/11, about a major terrorist attack taking place in the United States. At a conference in April 1997, Downey warned that an attack was “going to happen.” And in the summer of 2001, he was reportedly certain that a major attack was imminent, which he thought would likely involve a chemical or dirty bomb going off in an urban environment.

The FBI was also concerned about terrorism. In July 2001, representatives of the bureau went to a meeting held by the New York Police Department and said a serious attack was likely to occur, which they thought would take place overseas. Around the same time, Mayor Rudy Giuliani updated a directive that was intended to eliminate conflict between agencies when they responded to emergencies, such as terrorist attacks, in New York.

Meanwhile, at a conference in San Francisco, California, which examined airport security, terrorism and hijackings were two of the main topics of discussion.

Fighters Were Controlled by an Agency That Should Not Have Communicated with Them

A number of entries describe events from the day of September 11, 2001.

Shortly after they took off, three fighter jets launched from Langley Air Force Base came under the control of a Navy air traffic control agency known as “Giant Killer,” even though controllers at Giant Killer have stated that the facility should not have been communicating with the fighters. Meanwhile, the fighters launched from Otis Air National Guard Base in response to the first hijacking that day were still 15 miles from the WTC when the first tower collapsed.

After their command center in WTC 7 was evacuated, personnel from the mayor’s Office of Emergency Management used the office’s special, well-equipped bus as their command post. After the first tower came down, a group of police officers tried to get into WTC 7 in order to get out of the WTC plaza, but they found the door was locked and the building was on fire.

Two entries deal with a man of Middle Eastern appearance who was found acting suspiciously in the WTC. Police officers encountered the man in the North Tower as it was being evacuated and, after he behaved in a threatening manner, arrested him. The detective who carried out the arrest passed the man on to the FBI but was told to keep quiet about what had happened by an unidentified individual who appeared to be a government agent.

Another man was questioned by the police after being noticed behaving suspiciously near the Capitol building in Washington and was found to belong to an Islamic organization with links to terrorism. And alarm was raised when a panel truck was noticed that had a drawing of a plane crashing into the WTC on its side.

Recovery Workers Searched for the Planes’ Black Boxes at Ground Zero

A few entries describe events that occurred after 9/11.

A couple of entries deal with the search for the black boxes from the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers. In the first 10 days after 9/11, recovery workers searched in locations where the Federal Aviation Administration said it had detected a signal from one of the black boxes. And a month after 9/11, workers found an object that appeared to be one of the black boxes, but FBI agents who inspected it denied that it was a black box.

A couple of months later, recovery workers unearthed an armored truck in the rubble of the WTC and discovered that over a million dollars’ worth of diamonds and bonds were inexplicably missing from it.

Please consider donating to History Commons, to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

March 11, 2016

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Training Exercises, NORAD’s Commander on 9/11, United Airlines’ Response to the Attacks, and More

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — Matt @ 4:50 am
Tags: , , ,

Many entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, which describe a variety of events relating to the 9/11 attacks, with numerous entries revealing new details of the events of September 11, 2001.

Training Exercises Were Held in the Run-Up to 9/11

Several new timeline entries describe training exercises that were held in the years and months before 9/11. In May 1998, an exercise was held at the Pentagon called Cloudy Office, which was based around the scenario of a terrorist attack at the Pentagon involving chemical weapons.

In February 2001, the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office started sponsoring training with local fire department and law enforcement commanders on how emergency response workers and the FBI should coordinate their actions if there was a terrorist attack in the Washington area. Just two or three days before 9/11, the Washington field office and various other agencies held an exercise in Northern Virginia, based around the scenario of a terrorist attack involving chemical weapons.

And United Airlines, which had two of its planes hijacked on September 11, held a surprise exercise 12 days before 9/11 in which employees were led to believe one of their planes had crashed.

Special Forces Personnel Were Involved in Exercises on September 11

Other new entries describe exercises that were taking place when the 9/11 attacks occurred. For example, members of America’s “top counterterrorism unit”–the Joint Special Operations Command–were out of the US on September 11, participating in a counterterrorism exercise in Europe called Jackal Cave. Members of the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Emergency Search Team were also away from the US that day, due to their participation in this exercise.

Jackal Cave was “nested” in a larger counterterrorism exercise called Ellipse Bravo. Hundreds of US military personnel were preparing for this exercise, run by the United States European Command, when the 9/11 attacks took place.

Furthermore, members of Delta Force–the US Army’s elite counterterrorist unit–who were in Europe for Jackal Cave received many false reports of attacks that had supposedly occurred and it took two days before they had an accurate picture of what actually happened in the US on September 11.

Situation Room Staffers Stayed in the White House, despite Being Advised to Evacuate

Numerous timeline entries describe other events that took place on September 11. One entry describes how Secretary of the Navy Gordon England was unable to communicate with colleagues on the ground while being flown from Texas back to Washington, after he learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Another entry describes how personnel in the White House Situation Room refused the advice they were given to evacuate and then sent out a list of their names, in case an aircraft crashed into the White House. And a communications officer in the Situation Room was unable to make contact with Air Force One as it flew President Bush from Sarasota, Florida, to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Furthermore, before Air Force One left Sarasota, NORAD personnel were told they would not need to provide fighter jets to escort the president’s plane after it took off. And just before 11:00 a.m., a member of staff at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) told someone he was talking to on the phone to keep quiet about the location of Air Force One and the fact that the plane was airborne.

Some entries describe events at United Airlines’ headquarters. After he was told an American Airlines plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, Andy Studdert, United Airlines’ chief operating officer, went to the airline’s operations center to help respond to the incident. Then, at around 9:00 a.m., the airline’s crisis center was activated and personnel responded to the attacks from there. After United Airlines learned that its aircraft, Flight 93, had been hijacked, Studdert tried to come up with a plan on how a non-pilot could land a Boeing 757, in case Flight 93’s passengers and crew were able to retake control of the plane from its hijackers.

NORAD Commander Learned of the Attacks and Later Headed to His Operations Center

A few entries describe the actions of General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, on September 11. Eberhart learned of the crisis when he received a phone call at his home at around 8:45 a.m. in which he was told a plane had been hijacked and he then headed to his office at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. After he saw the second hijacked plane hitting the World Trade Center on television at 9:03 a.m., Eberhart contemplated going to NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center but he didn’t head there until around 9:30 a.m.

Just after 10:00 a.m., it was reported that Eberhart had officially declared “concern” for the crisis that was taking place, thereby triggering a number of consequences. Early in the afternoon, personnel in the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center were told that a suspicious truck, or a number of trucks, carrying several Arab-looking men was heading their way, but the apparent threat turned out to be a false alarm.

Novels Were Being Written before September 11 with Plots Resembling the 9/11 Attacks

Some new entries describe miscellaneous events from the period leading up to 9/11. A couple of entries describe novels that were being written in the months before 9/11, with storylines that resembled the 9/11 attacks. Joel Rosenberg, a communications strategist, was writing a novel in which suicide terrorists attempted to crash a plane into the president’s motorcade. Apparently around the same time, well-known British actor Michael Caine was writing a novel in which terrorists crashed a plane into a skyscraper, but he stopped working on it in response to the 9/11 attacks.

At some time before 9/11, the FAA’s intelligence division held a conference call to examine the idea of “suicide attackers,” during which an expert on the subject said a suicide attack on aviation was unlikely. However, an assessment was published on September 11, apparently by the FAA, which stated that if an aircraft hijacking took place within the US, it would be part of a suicide attack.

And around three months before 9/11, White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke gave National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice a checklist of what to do if there was a terrorist attack.

Please consider donating to History Commons, to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

October 22, 2015

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Pre-9/11 Warnings about Al-Qaeda, Cheney’s Military Aide on 9/11, and More

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — Matt @ 5:26 am
Tags: , , ,

New entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, which cover various events relating to the 9/11 attacks. Many of them describe warnings about the danger posed by al-Qaeda that were given in the 12 months leading up to 9/11 and some describe events from the day of September 11, 2001, itself.

Donald Rumsfeld Was Concerned about a Possible ‘Modern-Day Version’ of Pearl Harbor

A couple of new timeline entries deal with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s preoccupation, in the months before 9/11, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941 that led America to enter World War II. In March 2001, Rumsfeld sent members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a copy of the foreword to a book, which discussed the US government failures that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor. And in July that year, he wrote a note to himself in which he expressed his fear of the United States experiencing a “modern-day version” of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Other senior officials talked, in the months before 9/11, about the possibility of a Pearl Harbor-like event happening in the future. In June 2001, Army General Tommy Franks, commander in chief of the US Central Command, gave a speech in which he said the US needed to prepare for an “asymmetric” attack resembling the attack on Pearl Harbor. And on the day before 9/11, Charles Nemfakos, deputy under secretary of the Navy, said during a briefing that the US would have to suffer an attack comparable to the attack on Pearl Harbor before it would address the problems with its defense policy.

Officials Warned about the Danger Posed by Al-Qaeda

A number of new entries describe warnings that were made, in the 12 months before 9/11, about al-Qaeda and the possibility that it would carry out an attack in the United States.

In September 2000, CIA officer Ben Bonk warned Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush of the threat posed by Islamic extremist groups and said that, in the next four years, Americans would be sure to die in a terrorist attack. At the end of May 2001, terrorism experts Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal in which they stated that al-Qaeda was “planning new attacks on the US.”

In the summer of 2001, Tommy Franks raised concerns that al-Qaeda would attack Western facilities in the Middle East using planes loaded with explosives. Four days before 9/11, Franks actually told his intelligence officers his greatest fear was that terrorists would attack the World Trade Center.

One week before 9/11, White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke wrote a memo in which he warned that “hundreds of Americans” could die in an al-Qaeda attack. And on the day before 9/11, a report was issued to Congress, which stated that al-Qaeda “wants to strike within the United States.”

There were also concerns that the Pentagon could be the target of an attack. At some time in the year 2000, a software system commissioned by the Department of Defense determined that the building was vulnerable to a terrorist attack. And, prior to 9/11, some Pentagon Renovation Program workers were concerned about the possibility of a “crazy pilot” deliberately crashing a plane into the Pentagon. And yet, at some unspecified time before 9/11, senior FBI agent John O’Neill told Senate Intelligence Committee staffers there were no threats to aviation in the United States.

Air Defense Exercise Was Based on Bin Laden Attacking Washington

A couple of entries reveal how personnel at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector, who were responsible for protecting the airspace in which the hijackings occurred on September 11, were made aware of the al-Qaeda threat. They were briefed about the danger posed by Osama bin Laden in July 2001, and on August 4, 2001, they participated in a training exercise based around the scenario of bin Laden using a drone aircraft to attack a prominent target in the Washington, DC, area.

An entry describes three “economic security exercises” held between 1997 and 1999 by the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and Wall Street bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald, in which participants considered scenarios such as terrorists attacking the US financial community with bombings using aircraft. The Naval War College and Cantor Fitzgerald subsequently held three “war game workshops” at the World Trade Center, which apparently served as good preparation for the challenges of the post-9/11 world.

NORAD Didn’t Tell the Pentagon about the Hijackings on September 11

Other new timeline entries describe events from the day of September 11.

For more than 50 minutes after it learned a plane had been hijacked, NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) failed to inform the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon about the hijacking. And for at least 50 minutes after its fighter jets set up a combat air patrol (CAP) over Washington, NORAD failed to tell the Pentagon’s air threat conference call that the CAP had been established.

Several entries describe the actions of Douglas Cochrane, Vice President Dick Cheney’s military aide, in response to the terrorist attacks. After he learned a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, Cochrane went from his office to the White House Situation Room and then, briefly, to Cheney’s office. After he saw the second crash at the World Trade Center live on television, he returned to his office to fetch the “nuclear football”–a briefcase that holds the codes necessary for the vice president to initiate a nuclear attack. He subsequently joined Cheney in an underground tunnel that leads to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center below the White House, where he was told that an aircraft had hit the Pentagon.

Please consider donating to History Commons, to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.