History Commons Groups

July 8, 2013

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: WTC Evacuation Orders, 9/11-Style Movies, and More

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — Matt @ 2:54 am
Tags: , , ,

Many new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, covering a range of topics relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Contradictory Orders over Whether People Should Evacuate the WTC

Numerous entries examine the conflicting orders and announcements that were made, regarding whether people should evacuate or stay in the World Trade Center after the first plane hit the North Tower.

After the crash, George Tabeek, a WTC security manager, contacted the deputy fire safety directors in the Twin Towers with instructions to “evacuate the North Tower, but keep people inside the South Tower.” But around the same time, some people in the North Tower heard an automated announcement advising them to stay in their offices.

The deputy fire safety director in the North Tower tried telling people to evacuate, but without success, as the public address system in his building was damaged by the plane’s impact. He was contacted by his counterpart in the South Tower, who said he would wait to hear from “the boss from the fire department” before ordering people to evacuate his building. However, an announcement then went out over the public address system in the South Tower advising workers to stay in their offices. Furthermore, Port Authority officials in the South Tower instructed people who were evacuating, in person, to go back to their offices.

Fire chiefs in the North Tower were telling other agencies to evacuate the South Tower by about 8:57 a.m., six minutes before Flight 175 hit it. Furthermore, an officer with the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) actually called for the evacuation of the top floors of the North Tower over his radio just three minutes after the plane hit it. And at around 9:00 a.m., senior PAPD officers called for the evacuation of both towers and then the entire WTC complex. However, the PAPD officers’ orders were apparently not passed on.

Finally, at 9:02 a.m., a minute before Flight 175 hit, an announcement was made in the South Tower, advising workers to start evacuating.

Movies that Predicted 9/11

New timeline entries describe TV dramas and movies that were in production in September 2001, which featured storylines with surprising similarities to aspects of what happened on September 11. Many of these productions were canceled or rewritten as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

Nosebleed was a movie that would have featured Jackie Chan as a window washer who tries to stop terrorists who are plotting to blow up the WTC. A scene for the movie was going to be filmed at the top of the North Tower on the morning of 9/11, but the filming was canceled. Till Death Do Us Part, a film starring Michael Douglas and Billy Crystal, was based around terrorists targeting New York and would have included a key scene at the WTC.

The movie WW3.com would have featured cyber-terrorists causing a Boeing 767 to crash into New York’s Central Park. A 20th Century Fox movie called Deadline would have involved terrorists hijacking a commercial aircraft. And filming was originally set to begin around three weeks after 9/11 for a big-budget TV movie about a jumbo jet crash, where investigators consider the possibility that Osama bin Laden caused the crash.

TV Dramas that Predicted 9/11

A big-budget TV miniseries called Terror would have been based around al-Qaeda committing a series of terrorist attacks in New York. A group from NBC was actually near the WTC on the morning of September 11, doing preparatory work for the miniseries. And writer/producer Bryce Zabel was working on a miniseries called World War III, about a terrorist attack in the US that leads to a global conflict.

The Agency, a CBS series about the CIA, featured several notable storylines that were written before 9/11. One storyline, which was never used, involved Osama bin Laden having three American planes hijacked. The show’s pilot episode, which was originally set to air in late September 2001, involved al-Qaeda plotting to blow up a department store in London. Another episode featured a planned terrorist attack in Washington, DC, using anthrax, and was originally set to be broadcast at the time of the actual anthrax attacks in the US.

Other Day of 9/11 and Pre-9/11 Events

A few new entries describe additional events from the day of 9/11. One entry describes how, unusually, air traffic controllers failed to contact United Airlines that morning about the hijackings. Later in the morning, the FAA’s Cleveland Center–which had the last contact with Flight 93 before it crashed–received several bomb threats. Around the same time, the center was evacuated in response to a report of a suspicious aircraft flying above it.

Other entries look at various events from the years and weeks preceding 9/11. One entry summarizes the gradual reduction in the number of fighter jets kept on “alert” to defend US airspace between the 1950s and the time of the 9/11 attacks. Another entry describes how, around 1969 or 1970, an Army Ranger in officer training envisioned a 9/11-like scenario of a suicide pilot crashing a plane into the US Capitol building.

Early in 2001, an entry reveals, President Bush instructed Joe Hagin, his deputy chief of staff for operations, to fix White House communications after having problems making a phone call, but the issue was not resolved by 9/11. Around the same time, White House staffers were prohibited from using BlackBerrys, but these devices turned out to be invaluable on September 11, when many people had problems making phone calls.

A major exercise is described that was held at an Army base near the Pentagon five days before 9/11, attended by numerous agencies that would subsequently work together in response to the attack on the Pentagon on September 11.

An entry reveals that George Tabeek was discussing his concerns about an aircraft crashing into the Twin Towers in the two weeks before September 11. Tabeek has recalled that around that time, he received no warnings from US Customs or the Secret Service about possible terrorist threats to the WTC. Fortunately, the Port Authority’s command center in the North Tower was upgraded to make it more secure shortly before 9/11, and this helped save the lives of the people in the center 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.

Advertisements

April 19, 2011

New Entries Added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — Matt @ 3:06 am
Tags: , , ,

A large number of new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons. Most of these describe events from the day of 9/11 itself, although a few entries look at pre-9/11 and post-9/11 events.

One new entry reveals that in April 2001, CIA counterterrorism chief Cofer Black warned that “something big [is] coming and that it very likely could be in the US.” Then, about a month before 9/11, White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke visited Wall Street, to investigate the security precautions there.

Two new entries look at the time Ziad Jarrah, the alleged hijacker pilot of Flight 93 on 9/11, spent in Philadelphia. This included two days at a flight school, which refused to rent Jarrah a plane due to his inadequate piloting skills.

Some entries look at a little-known government agency called the National Communications System (NCS). The NCS happened to turn on a special backup communication system for use in emergencies for “exercise mode” the day before 9/11, and on the morning of 9/11, the CIA was briefing the NCS on the terrorist threat to the US’s telecommunications infrastructure. The NCS’s coordinating center subsequently played an important role in the government’s response to the 9/11 attacks.

Entries reveal that special emergency transmitters carried by aircraft went off in the New York area around the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center. However, these transmitters, which are designed to go off automatically if a plane crashes, inexplicably were activated minutes before Flight 11 hit the North Tower and Flight 175 hit the South Tower.

Events at two airlines are described. At 8:29 a.m. on September 11, American Airlines learned details of the crisis from the FAA’s Boston Center, and this led it to suspect that its Flight 11 was hijacked. One of its managers then instructed that air traffic controllers be told to treat the flight as an emergency. But, around the time the attacks began, American Airlines had problems communicating with the FAA’s Command Center. And United Airlines, the other airline whose planes were targeted in the attacks, experienced two hours where its communications were severely impaired.

Several entries look at aircraft falsely reported to have been hijacked or in distress, including a United Airlines plane that was still at the airport; a Continental Airlines plane that signaled three times it had been hijacked; an American Airlines plane that sent a “hijack message” to the airline; a plane whose distraught pilot contacted a facility in England; and three planes that the Coast Guard reported were transmitting distress signals.

Several military exercises are known to have been underway the morning of 9/11. And when a commander at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, was first told a plane had hit the WTC, he mistakenly thought this was a simulated scenario as part of the exercise, “Global Guardian.”

Other new timeline entries describe evacuations of the airports in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the original destinations of the hijacked planes.

The actions of General Henry Shelton, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are detailed. Shortly before 9/11, Shelton warned other officials to “be on your toes” for a domestic terrorist attack “at any time.” But on September 11, he headed off early for a NATO meeting in Europe and was flying over the Atlantic when he learned of the attacks. Shelton learned further details of the attacks in a phone call with his vice chairman, Richard Myers, but only made it back to the Pentagon late that afternoon. He was subsequently able to join Donald Rumsfeld and others for a press conference, where Rumsfeld announced that the Pentagon would be “in business tomorrow.”

Another high-level official notable for being absent from his post on September 11 was Van Harp, head of the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office, who was on vacation in South Carolina and only made it back to Washington late in the afternoon of 9/11.

Looking at the aftermath of 9/11, several entries describe an attempt that was made to transcribe the tape recordings of operations at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector on September 11, which NORAD commander Ralph Eberhart stressed the importance of, but which led to one of the tapes being damaged. The NEADS tape recorders had already failed to record the positions of two key employees while the 9/11 attacks took place.

November 12, 2009

Successful FOIA Requests (Updated, November 2009)

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline,Document Collection — kevinfenton @ 4:22 am
Tags: , , ,

This is a reposting, with one more document obtained being added at the bottom of the Catcher’s Mitt section. For a list of unsuccessful FOIA requests see here.

(more…)

October 19, 2009

Awareness of Military Cell at FAA Headquarters of Events on Day of 9/11

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 1:18 am
Tags:

As people who follow the issue closely are aware, there has been some debate over the involvement of a group of military officers stationed at FAA headquarters–generally referred to as the “military cell”–in the events of 9/11. Although I don’t mean to recap the whole debate here, the basic jist is that the 9/11 Commission claimed that the military were unaware of the hijacking of United 93 until a few minutes before it crashed, but what about the military cell–were they too unaware of what was going on?

Yesterday, I was reading through the commission documents we have posted at the 911 Document Archive at Scribd, and I came across a transcript of FAA communications on the day of 9/11. You can find the following at page 59 (approximately 9:45 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.):

MR. : Tactical Net–

MR. : And this is Cleveland Center. Who’s up?

MR. : It is the Command Center with about five or six people listening.

MR. : Okay. Mr. [inaudible], the chief, just asked if we have any military up or not? Are we pursuing that? We’d like to be able to track this guy (United 93) so we know what’s going on, especially when we lose a transponder.

MR. : We have been in contact with the military cell here in the building and they’re working the issue. I’m not sure where they are with–

Obviously, this does not prove that the military cell at the FAA was aware of the hijacking of United 93 (still less that they passed it on to other elements in the military), but a contemporary reference stating their involvement is certainly interesting evidence.

April 12, 2009

9/11 Commission Documents Related to Day of Attacks (last updated 9 January 2010)

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline,Document Collection — kevinfenton @ 8:42 am
Tags: , ,

This post lists a set of documents related to the 9/11 Commission’s investigation of the day of the attacks. The documents have been posted at the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. I am reading through them gradually and highlighting interesting information. This post will be updated continuously.

(more…)

October 18, 2008

Successful FOIA Request: FAA Phone Calls on Day of 9/11

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 5:41 am
Tags: , , , ,

I have obtained a new document via FOIA request. It is an FAA memo comprising a transcript of calls between various FAA facilities and other institutions on the day of 9/11, and was referenced in the 9/11 Commission Report, in endnote 128 to Chapter 1 (on page 459). It is not spectacularly exciting, but touches on awareness of all four hijacks, in particular the last three. You can find it here.

(more…)

Blog at WordPress.com.