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Located in the Pentagon, the National Military Command Center houses the logistical and communications center for the National Command Authority of the United States of America. The facility, which is composed of several war rooms, is the principal command and control center of the Department of Defense. It is commonly referred to as the NMCC.[1][2]

This center is not directly necessary to initiate a nuclear attack, but it essentially serves as a communications/operations center for nearby Washington, D.C. Wikipedia, particularly with regard to maintaining the American end of the famous U.S.-Russian hotline Wikipedia ("Red telephone"). It coordinated the response to events such as the September 11 attacks,[3][4] the attack on the USS Liberty,[5] and Payne Stewart's plane crash.[6]

The NMCC is responsible for generating Emergency Action Messages (EAMs) to launch control centers, nuclear submarines, recon aircraft and battlefield commanders worldwide.

The more than 300 people in the NMCC have responsibilities that are operational in nature, and thus it is not funded and maintained by the Joint Chiefs of Staff but by the US Air Force which provides logistical, budgetary, facility and systems support.

The JCS J-3 Command Systems Operations Division manages the operations of the J-3 information system facilities and maintains operational control of the Crisis Management Automated Data Processing System for the National Military Command Center.

TimelineEdit

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October 25, 1999: Golfer Payne Stewart Dies in Plane Crash; Incident Raises Questions about Shooting Down Off-Course Planes

A map showing the planned flight path of Payne Stewart’s plane and the crash site location. [Source: CNN] A runaway Learjet crashes near Mina, South Dakota, after flying on autopilot for several hours. On board is champion golfer Payne Stewart, along with five others. It is believed the accident is due to a loss of cabin pressure at high altitude, which would have caused all on board to go unconscious from lack of oxygen. [ABC NEWS, 10/25/1999; WASHINGTON POST, 10/26/1999; NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD, 11/28/2000] After air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane, it was tracked by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), assisted by several Air Force and Air National Guard fighters and an AWACS radar control plane, up until when it crashed. It was also tracked on radar screens inside the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon. [CNN, 10/26/1999] The Learjet had departed Orlando, Florida at 9:19 a.m., bound for Texas. The FAA says controllers lost contact with it at 9:44 a.m. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/26/1999] , but according to a later report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) the plane first failed to respond to air traffic control at 9:33 a.m., after which the controller repeatedly tried to make contact for the next 4 1/2 minutes, without success. [NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD, 11/28/2000] NORAD’s Southeast Air Defense Sector was notified of the emergency at 9:55 a.m. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 459] At 10:08 a.m., two F-16 fighters from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida that were on a routine training mission had been asked by the FAA to intercept the Learjet, but never reached it. At about 10:52 a.m., a fighter from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, was directed to within 9 miles of it, and at around 11:00 a.m. began a visual inspection of the plane. It accompanied the Learjet from 11:09 to 11:44 a.m. At 11:59 a.m., according to early accounts, four Air National Guard fighters and a refueling tanker from Tulsa, Oklahoma were told to chase the Learjet, but got no closer than 100 miles from it. However, the NTSB later claims that two Tulsa fighters were with it between 12:25 and 12:39 p.m., and were able to visually inspect it. At 12:54 p.m., two Air National Guard fighters from Fargo, North Dakota intercepted the Learjet. Soon after 1:14 p.m., it crashed in swampland, after spiraling to the ground. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/26/1999; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/27/1999; NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD, 11/28/2000] During its flight, the FAA had routed air traffic around the Learjet, and made sure no other planes flew beneath it, due to the danger of it crashing. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/26/1999] There is some discussion as to what could have been done had the plane been on a collision course with a populated area, with CNN reporting, “[O]nly the president has the authority to order a civilian aircraft shot down.” Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon says the military has no written instructions for shooting down manned civilian planes. According to a 1997 military instruction, the shooting down of unmanned objects such as missiles requires prior approval from the secretary of defense. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 7/31/1997 ; CNN, 10/26/1999] A Pentagon spokesman says the fighters that monitored the Learjet had no missiles, but two other fighters on “strip alert” at Fargo had been armed but didn’t take off. [CNN, 10/26/1999] The 9/11 Commission will later compare NORAD’s response to this incident with its response to Flight 11 on 9/11, and claim: “There is no significant difference in NORAD’s reaction to the two incidents.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 459] Entity Tags: Payne Stewart, Federal Aviation Administration, North American Aerospace Defense Command, National Military Command Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Tyndall Air Force Base, Southeast Air Defense Sector Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

February 21, 2001: US and British Forces Bomb Iraqi Military Facilities, Leading to Conflict within US Military Leadership A joint US-British air force strike team bombs 20 radar and command centers inside Iraq, enforcing the UN no-fly zones in the largest air strikes within Iraq in two years. While the White House is informed of the strikes by a general from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is livid because he feels he hasn’t been given enough information about the strikes quickly enough. Rumsfeld’s information comes to him, by established law and protocol, through the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry Shelton; thus it could be hours before Rumsfeld learns of such events. Saying, “I’m the secretary of defense. I’m in the chain of command,” Rumsfeld decides to upend the entire system and ensure that he, not Shelton, will be informed first about any such operations. Rumsfeld presses Shelton for information about the reporting of the air strikes: who had selected those targets and why, who had briefed, who had been briefed, and most importantly, why wasn’t Rumsfeld consulted? CNN had reported air strikes in Baghdad, though the actual bases struck were not in the city itself; it looked for a moment if the US had just declared unilateral war on Iraq. Rumsfeld feels misled and ignored. He is the one in the chain of command, he insists, he is the one reporting to the president, so he should be informed first. Shelton replies that he has to know what’s going on, to know what details to press for and what questions to ask, in order to properly inform the Secretary of Defense, who can then properly inform the president. Rumsfeld insists on being informed before Shelton, and demands a top-to-bottom review of the procedures involving the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and detailed timelines of each incident where Shelton was informed before Rumsfeld. [WOODWARD, 2006, PP. 22-25] Entity Tags: Joint Chiefs of Staff, Donald Rumsfeld, Henry Hugh Shelton, US Department of Defense, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

June 1, 2001: Revised Hijacking Procedure Outlines Defense Department Responsibilities A military instruction is issued by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlining the procedure for dealing with hijackings within the United States. The instruction, titled “Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects,” states that “the administrator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has exclusive responsibility to direct law enforcement activity related to actual or attempted aircraft piracy (hijacking) in the ‘special aircraft jurisdiction’ of the United States. When requested by the administrator, Department of Defense will provide assistance to these law enforcement efforts.” It adds that the National Military Command Center (NMCC) within the Pentagon “is the focal point within Department of Defense for providing assistance. In the event of a hijacking, the NMCC will be notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA. The NMCC will, with the exception of immediate responses as authorized by reference d, forward requests for DOD assistance to the secretary of defense for approval.” [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/1/2001 ] Some will later assume that this requirement for defense secretary approval was new with this instruction. [NEW YORK OBSERVER, 6/20/2004] But it has in fact been a requirement since 1997, when the previous instruction was issued, if not earlier. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 7/31/1997 ] Although the defense secretary has this responsibility, the 9/11 Commission will conclude that, on the day of 9/11, the “secretary of defense did not enter the chain of command until the morning’s key events were over.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 15 ] Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will later incorrectly claim that, up to 9/11, terrorism and domestic hijackings were “a law enforcement issue.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/23/2004; PBS, 3/25/2004; US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/14/2005] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, US Department of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001: FAA Hijack Coordinator Responsible for Contacting Military is Out of Contact

Mike Canavan testifying before the 9/11 Commission. [Source: C-SPAN] Protocols in place on 9/11 state that if the FAA requests the military to go after an airplane, “the escort service will be requested by the FAA hijack coordinator by direct contact with the National Military Command Center (NMCC).” [FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, 11/3/1998] Acting FAA Deputy Administrator Monte Belger states essentially the same thing to the 9/11 Commission, “The official protocol on that day was for the FAA headquarters, primarily through the hijack coordinator… to request assistance from the NMCC if there was a need for [Defense Department] assistance.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] However, the hijack coordinator, FAA Office of Civil Aviation Security Director Mike Canavan, is in Puerto Rico and claims to have missed out on “everything that transpired that day.” The 9/11 Commission fails to ask him if he had delegated that task to anyone else while he was gone. [9/11 COMMISSION, 5/23/2003; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 17] Monte Belger will later say simply that “an FAA security person” runs the “hijack net” open communication system during 9/11. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Entity Tags: Mike Canavan, National Military Command Center, Monte Belger Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 8:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: NORAD Scramble Order Moves Through Official and Unofficial Channels

NORAD commander Larry Arnold. [Source: US Air Force] NORAD gives the command to scramble fighters after Flight 11 after receiving Boston’s call (see (8:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins at NEADS tells Colonel Robert Marr, head of NEADS, “I have FAA on the phone, the shout line, Boston [flight control]. They said they have a hijacked aircraft.” Marr then calls Major General Larry Arnold at the Continental US NORAD Region (CONR) headquarters at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Arnold is just coming out of a teleconference with the NORAD staff, and is handed a note informing him of the possible hijacking, and relaying Marr’s request that he call him immediately. He goes downstairs and picks up the phone, and Marr tells him, “Boss, I need to scramble [fighters at] Otis [Air National Guard Base].” Arnold recalls, “I said go ahead and scramble them, and we’ll get the authorities later.” Arnold then calls the operations deputy at NORAD’s Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado headquarters to report. The operations deputy tells him, “Yeah, we’ll work this with the National Military Command Center. Go ahead and scramble the aircraft.” [ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002; FILSON, 2003, PP. 56; 9/11 COMMISSION, 5/23/2003; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Upon receiving this authorization from Larry Arnold, NEADS orders the scramble and then calls Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek at NORAD’s operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, in order to get NORAD commander in chief approval for it (see (8.46 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 6/3/2002] Yet, according to the 1st Air Force’s own book about 9/11, the “sector commander [at NEADS] would have authority to scramble the airplanes.” Military controllers at NEADS are only a hot line call away from the pilots on immediate alert. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 50-52] Why NEADS calls the CONR headquarters at Tyndall, then NORAD’s Colorado operations center, to get authorization to launch fighters after Flight 11, is unclear. Entity Tags: Mike Jellinek, Robert Marr, Dawne Deskins, Larry Arnold, Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(8:48 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Pentagon Command Center Workers Apparently Learn of WTC Attack from TV, Think It Is an Accident In the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon, personnel apparently become aware of the first attack on the World Trade Center from watching the reports on television. According to Steve Hahn, an operations officer there, “We monitor the television networks in the center, and along with the rest of America we saw the smoke pouring from the tower.” Dan Mangino, who is also an operations officer at the NMCC, says, “At first, we thought it was a terrible accident.” [AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 9/7/2006] The 9/11 Commission later says, “Most federal agencies learned about the crash in New York from CNN.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 35] Whether the NMCC was already aware that a hijacking was underway is unclear. According to military instructions, the NMCC is “the focal point within Department of Defense for providing assistance” in response to hijackings in US airspace, and is supposed to be “notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA.” [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/1/2001 ] Boston Air Traffic Control Center started notifying the chain of command of the suspected hijacking of Flight 11 more than 20 minutes earlier (see 8:25 a.m. September 11, 2001). And at 8:32, the FAA’s Command Center in Herndon informed FAA headquarters of the possible hijacking (see 8:28 a.m. September 11, 2001). Yet, according to the 9/11 Commission, although the “FAA headquarters began to follow the hijack protocol,” it “did not contact the NMCC to request a fighter escort.” Supposedly, the first that the military learned of the hijacking was when Boston Air Traffic Control Center contacted NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) about it, at around 8:37 a.m. (see (8:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The earliest time mentioned by the 9/11 Commission that the NMCC learns of the Flight 11 hijacking is 9 a.m. (see 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 19-20 AND 35] Entity Tags: Steve Hahn, Dan Mangino, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(8:50 a.m.-Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Director of Operations of the Joint Staff Does Not Go to NMCC after Learning of WTC Crash; Keeps Dental Appointment Instead

Scott Fry. [Source: NATO] Vice Admiral Scott Fry, a top official at the Pentagon with important responsibilities, goes to a dental appointment and only becomes involved with the response to the attacks after the second crash in New York. [CREED AND NEWMAN, 2008, PP. 4-6] Fry is the director of operations of the Joint Staff, a post he has held since 1998. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 9/23/1998; STARS AND STRIPES, 10/4/2001] In this position, he is responsible for running the National Military Command Center (NMCC)—“the Pentagon’s highly secure nerve center”—and the Executive Support Center (ESC)—a suite of rooms at the Pentagon “where the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior officials would meet to discuss urgent matters.” [CREED AND NEWMAN, 2008, PP. 5-6] He is due to leave shortly for Italy, where he is to take up an important Navy command. [DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 9/4/2001; STARS AND STRIPES, 10/4/2001; CREED AND NEWMAN, 2008, PP. 4-5] Fry is anxious to go to the dentist before leaving for Italy. As he is about to leave his office for a 9:00 a.m. appointment, his executive assistant draws his attention to the television coverage of the first attack in New York. Reportedly believing the crash was “probably just a freak accident,” instead of heading to the NMCC or the ESC, Fry continues to the clinic (which is presumably within the Pentagon), and is in the dentist’s chair when the second attack occurs. His assistant then calls him on his cell phone to alert him to this. Fry reportedly concludes: “One airplane hitting a skyscraper, that was damned suspicious. But two… there was no doubt about it. It had to be a terrorist attack.” He promptly cancels his appointment and hurries to the NMCC. From there, he goes upstairs to the ESC, where a group is already assembling (see Shortly After 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). In the ESC, a “video teleconference link could connect them to the White House, the State Department, the CIA, and military commanders throughout the world.” There, Fry discusses events in New York with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s aide Stephen Cambone. But, reportedly, what the men know is “not much, except what they could see on TV.” [CREED AND NEWMAN, 2008, PP. 4-6] Only a few months previously, on June 1, 2001, a new Defense Department directive on dealing with domestic hijackings was issued under Fry’s signature (see June 1, 2001). [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/1/2001 ] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, Scott Fry, Executive Support Center, Stephen A. Cambone Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Shortly After 8:51 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Pentagon Command Center Possibly Knows Flight 77 Is Hijacked, yet NEADS Not Notified An article in the New York Times will later suggest that officials in the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) promptly become aware of the problems with Flight 77, long before NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) is alerted to the flight. The article will state, “During the hour or so that American Airlines Flight 77 [is] under the control of hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side of the Pentagon, military officials in [the NMCC are] urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/15/2001] This appears consistent with what would be expected under normal procedures. According to the FAA’s acting Deputy Administrator Monte Belger: “Prior to 9/11, FAA’s traditional communication channel with the military during a crisis had been through the National Military Command Center (NMCC). They were always included in the communication net that was used to manage a hijack incident.” He will say that, since the FAA does not have direct dedicated communication links with NORAD, in a hijack scenario the NMCC has “the responsibility to coordinate [the Defense Department]‘s response to requests from the FAA or the FBI.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] NEADS reportedly is not alerted to Flight 77 until significantly later: at 9:24 a.m. by some accounts (see (9:24 a.m.) September 11, 2001), or, according to other accounts, at 9:34 a.m., when it only learns that Flight 77 is missing (see 9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). [NORTH AMERICAN AEROSPACE DEFENSE COMMAND, 9/18/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Entity Tags: Northeast Air Defense Sector, National Military Command Center, Monte Belger Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001: Pentagon Command Center Learns of Flight 11 Hijacking, But Does Not Discuss Scrambling Fighters The deputy director of operations and his assistant in the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) have been notifying senior Pentagon officials of the first WTC tower being hit. At around 9 a.m., the senior NMCC operations officer contacts the Operations Center at FAA headquarters asking for information, and is informed of the hijacking of Flight 11. This is the earliest time mentioned by the 9/11 Commission Report that the NMCC learns of this hijacking. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 35] Yet, according to military instructions, the NMCC is supposed to be “the focal point within Department of Defense for providing assistance” in response to hijackings in US airspace. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/1/2001 ] Apparently, during the call, the FAA Operations Center does not connect the plane crashing into the WTC with the hijacked Flight 11, which it claims is still airborne: The relevant entry in the NMCC operations officer’s log will state, “9:00 NMCC called FAA, briefed of explosion at WTC possibly from aircraft crash. Also, hijacking of American Flight 11 from Boston to LA, now enroute to Kennedy [International Airport in New York City].” Nor is there any discussion about launching fighter jets. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 35 AND 462] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001: Pentagon Command Center Staff See Second Attack on WTC, Yet Accounts Conflict Over Urgency of Their Response Those in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) within the Pentagon see the second plane hitting the World Trade Center live on television. According to Dan Mangino, an operations officer at the center, the staff there had thought the first WTC crash was a “terrible accident,” but after seeing the second one, “we knew immediately that it was a terrorist attack.” The American Forces Press Service later reports, “Personnel in the center shifted into hyperdrive.… Phones in the center began ringing off the hook.” Mangino says he initiates “the process to stand up a working group in advance of the direction that would come down later.” One of his deputies is responsible for this process. Yet, despite this supposed urgency, Mangino later recalls that he “knew he would have little time in the days ahead, so he quickly ran to the concourse to get some money out of an automated teller machine.” He will not arrive back at the NMCC until after the Pentagon is hit. [AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 9/7/2006] Brigadier General Montague Winfield had earlier on allowed a colleague to temporarily take over from him as the NMCC’s deputy director for operations (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001). Yet, despite the obvious emergency now taking place, he does not retake charge of the center until more than an hour later, at around 10:15-10:30 a.m. (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Furthermore, according to the 9/11 Commission, the NMCC does not begin a “significant event” conference call in response to the attacks until 9:29 a.m., which is 26 minutes after the South Tower is hit (see (9:29 a.m.-9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 37] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, Dan Mangino, Montague Winfield Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Military Officers at FAA Command Center Contact NMCC about Response to Attacks Two officers in the Air Traffic Services Cell (ATSC)—a small office at the FAA’s Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, manned by military reservists—contact the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon, to ask about military assistance in response to the terrorist attacks. [US AIR FORCE, 9/11/2001; AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 6/10/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 4/14/2004] Military Leaders 'in a Meeting to Determine Their Response' - Apparently shortly after the south World Trade Center tower is hit at 9:03 a.m., Ben Sliney, the national operations manager at the Command Center, asks the ATSC for a military response to the ongoing events (see 9:06 a.m. and After September 11, 2001). Therefore, Lieutenant Colonel Michael-Anne Cherry, one of the three officers on duty in the ATSC, calls the NMCC. However, according to a chronology of the ATSC’s actions on this day, Cherry is told that “senior leaders” at the NMCC are “in a meeting to determine their response” to the attacks, and will call back. Second Officer Calls NMCC, Told Fighters Have Been Launched - Then, at around 9:08 a.m., Sliney talks to another of the officers on duty in the ATSC, Colonel John Czabaranek, and asks if fighter jets have been launched toward New York. [US AIR FORCE, 9/11/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 4/14/2004] Two F-15s have already taken off from Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, toward the New York area (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001), but, according to the 9/11 Commission, “Lacking a target,” these fighters have been “vectored toward military-controlled airspace off the Long Island coast” (see (8:53 a.m.-9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 20] In response to Sliney’s inquiry, Czabaranek calls the NMCC. The NMCC indicates that it is aware of the request for fighter support, and says aircraft have been scrambled from Otis Air Base. Czabaranek passes this information on to Sliney, telling him that fighters are en route. ATSC's Secure Phones Initially Not Working - According to the chronology of the ATSC’s actions, the unit’s secure phones do not work for an incoming call from the NMCC that is apparently made shortly after 9:03 a.m. The ATSC’s keys for its secure phones are recalibrated, and the phones then “worked fine.” [US AIR FORCE, 9/11/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 4/14/2004] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, John Czabaranek, Michael-Anne Cherry, Air Traffic Services Cell, Ben Sliney

(After 9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001: FAA Administrator Frustrated that Military Is Not Involved in Teleconference

Monte Belger [Source: FAA] At 9:20 a.m. (or earlier, according to some accounts), the FAA set up a hijacking teleconference with several agencies (see (9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001). FAA records indicate that the National Military Command Center within the Pentagon was included in the communication network “no later than 9:20 a.m.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004 ] Yet at some point later in the morning, Acting FAA Deputy Administrator Monte Belger becomes aware that the military is not involved in the teleconference in any meaningful way. Presumably referring to tape recordings of the FAA headquarters, 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick will later say to Belger, “We heard some rather colorful language came from your mouth at that point.” The absence of the NMCC from the teleconference is unusual. Belger says, “I’ve lived through dozens of hijackings in my 30-year FAA career… and [the NMCC] were always there. They were always on the net, and were always listening in with everybody else.” He adds, “The most frustrating after-the-fact scenario for me to understand is to explain… the communication link on that morning between the FAA operations center and the NMCC.… I know how it’s supposed to work, but… it’s still a little frustrating for me to understand how it actually did work on that day.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 36] Entity Tags: Monte Belger, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:29 a.m.-9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Pentagon Command Center Begins High Level Conference Call

The National Miilitary Command Center, inside the Pentagon. [Source: National Military Command Center] Captain Charles Leidig is temporarily in command of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), “the military’s worldwide nerve center.” In response to the attacks on the World Trade Center, he convenes a conference call. [CNN, 9/4/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004 ] Telephone links are established between the NMCC located inside the Pentagon (but on the opposite side of the building from where the explosion will happen), Canada’s equivalent Command Center, Strategic Command, theater commanders, and federal emergency-response agencies. At one time or another, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, key military officers, leaders of the FAA and NORAD, the White House, and Air Force One are heard on the open line. [AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 6/3/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] NORAD command director Captain Michael Jellinek claims this call was initiated “at once” after the second WTC tower was hit. [AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 6/3/2002] However, the 9/11 Commission concludes it starts at 9:29 a.m. According to the commission, it begins as an all-purpose “significant event” conference. But at 9:30, Leidig states that it has just been confirmed that Flight 11 is still airborne and is heading toward Washington, DC. (This incorrect information apparently arose minutes earlier during a conference call between FAA centers (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001).) In response to this erroneous report, the significant event conference is ended at around 9:34. It then resumes at about 9:37 as an air threat conference call, which lasts for more than eight hours. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 37] This is broadcast over a loudspeaker inside the NMCC. [US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 8/31/2003] Brigadier General Montague Winfield, who later takes over from Leidig in charge of the NMCC, says, “All of the governmental agencies that were involved in any activity going on in the United States at that point, were in that conference.” [ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] The call continues right through the Pentagon explosion; the impact is not felt within the NMCC. [CNN, 9/4/2002] However, despite being in the Pentagon when it is hit, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld doesn’t enter the NMCC or participate in the call until 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Mike Jellinek, Montague Winfield, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush, National Military Command Center, Federal Aviation Administration, Charles Leidig, Donald Rumsfeld Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:36 a.m.-10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Military Claims It Is Tracking Flight 93 and Ready to Shoot It Down; 9/11 Commission Says Otherwise According to the later claims of several senior officials, the US military is tracking Flight 93 as it heads east and is ready to shoot it down if necessary.

According to Brigadier General Montague Winfield, the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) has “received the report from the FAA that Flight 93 had turned off its transponder, had turned, and was now heading towards Washington, DC.” Winfield will add, “The decision was made to try to go intercept Flight 93.” [ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] 
General Richard Myers, the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will write that in the NMCC, “We learned that there was apparently a fourth hijacked aircraft, United Airlines Flight 93 out of Newark, bound nonstop for San Francisco. Like the other planes, it had switched off its transponder, making it much harder if not impossible to track on ground radar.” [MYERS, 2009, PP. 152] 
Major General Larry Arnold, the commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region, will say, “I was personally anxious to see what 93 was going to do, and our intent was to intercept it.” Three fighters have taken off from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia (see (9:25 a.m.-9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to Arnold, “we launched the aircraft out of Langley to put them over top of Washington, DC, not in response to American Airline 77, but really to put them in position in case United 93 were to head that way.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 5/23/2003] He says, “as we discussed it in the conference call, we decided not to move fighters toward 93 until it was closer because there could have been other aircraft coming in,” but adds, “I had every intention of shooting down United 93 if it continued to progress toward Washington, DC… whether we had authority or not.” [FILSON, 2003, PP. 73] 
Colonel Robert Marr, the battle commander at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), is reportedly “focused on United Flight 93, headed straight toward Washington.” He will concur with Arnold, saying: “United Airlines Flight 93 would not have hit Washington, DC. He would have been engaged and shot down before he got there.” [FILSON, 2003, PP. 73] Marr and Arnold will both say they were tracking Flight 93 even earlier on, while it was still heading west (see Before 9:36 a.m. September 11, 2001).

Yet, contradicting these claims, the 9/11 Commission will conclude that the military only learns about Flight 93 around the time it crashes. It says the NMCC learns of the hijacking at 10:03 a.m. (see 10:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). Based upon official records, including recordings of the NEADS operations floor, it says NEADS never follows Flight 93 on radar and is first alerted to it at 10:07 a.m. (see 10:05 a.m.-10:08 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 30-31, 34 AND 42; WASHINGTON POST, 4/30/2006; VANITY FAIR, 8/1/2006] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, Montague Winfield, Richard B. Myers, Robert Marr, Larry Arnold Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Officer in Pentagon Command Center Only Learns from TV that Pentagon Has Been Hit The Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) is located on the other side of the building to where it is hit. Therefore, when the attack on the Pentagon occurs, those inside it supposedly do not feel the impact. [CNN, 9/4/2002] According to Newsweek, the NMCC has been called “the primary nerve system” of the Pentagon, from where “commanders can monitor and communicate with American forces around the world.” [NEWSWEEK, 9/28/2001] A military instruction for dealing with hijacked aircraft describes it as “the focal point within Department of Defense for providing assistance” in response to hijackings. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/1/2001 ] But supposedly NMCC personnel do not initially realize the Pentagon has been attacked. Steve Hahn, an operations officer at the center, later says, “I didn’t know [the Pentagon had been hit] until I heard the news report on television.” [AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 9/7/2006] Yet an article in the New York Times later claims, “During the hour or so that American Airlines Flight 77 was under the control of hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side of the Pentagon, military officials in [the NMCC] were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do” (see (Shortly After 8:51 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/15/2001] Furthermore, at about 8:50 a.m. according to the FAA, or 9:20 a.m. according to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA had established several phone bridges linking key players, including the NMCC (see (8:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001) (see (9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The FAA states that it shares “real-time information on the phone bridges,” which includes “actions being taken by all the flights of interest, including Flight 77.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 5/23/2003; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 36] Why NMCC personnel do not therefore know immediately that the Pentagon has been hit is unclear. Also around this time, Officer Aubrey Davis of the Pentagon police is outside Donald Rumsfeld’s office. He hears what he later describes as “an incredibly loud ‘boom,’” when the Pentagon is struck (see 9:38 a.m. September 11, 2001). Yet no mention is made of anyone in the NMCC hearing this “boom,” even though the center is located only around 200 feet from where Davis is standing. [WBZ RADIO 1030 (BOSTON), 9/15/2001; COCKBURN, 2007, PP. 1] Dan Mangino, an operations officer in the NMCC, went out earlier to withdraw some money from a cash machine (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001), and rushes back to the center after the Pentagon is hit. He finds the people in it are very calm. He says, “There was no panic, no raised voices. We train for emergencies all the time, and that training took over.” [AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 9/7/2006] Entity Tags: Steve Hahn, National Military Command Center, Dan Mangino Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:38 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Senior Officials Unable to Contact Defense Secretary Rumsfeld

Stephen Cambone. [Source: US Department of Defense] Immediately after the Pentagon was hit, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld left his office and headed to the crash scene (see 9:38 a.m. September 11, 2001). For the 20 minutes or so that he is gone, others are desperately trying to contact him. Among those seeking Rumsfeld are Stephen Cambone, his closest aide, who is currently in the Pentagon’s Executive Support Center (see Shortly After 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001), and also the National Military Command Center (see 9:39 a.m. September 11, 2001). Officer Aubrey Davis of the Pentagon police, who is accompanying Rumsfeld, is receiving frantic calls over his radio saying, “Where’s the secretary? Where’s the secretary?” Davis is unable to answer these requests. He later recalls, “I kept saying, ‘We’ve got him,’ but the system was overloaded, everyone on the frequency was talking, everything jumbled, so I couldn’t get through and they went on asking.” A senior White House official, who is in its Situation Room trying to coordinate a response to the attacks, will later angrily condemn Rumsfeld for having been out of touch during such a critical period. He says, “What was Rumsfeld doing on 9/11? He deserted his post. He disappeared. The country was under attack. Where was the guy who controls America’s defense? Out of touch! How long does it take for something bad to happen? No one knew what was happening. What if this had been the opening shot of a coordinated attack by a hostile power? Outrageous, to abandon your responsibilities and go off and do what you don’t need to be doing, grandstanding.” [COCKBURN, 2007, PP. 2-4; C-SPAN, 2/25/2007] Entity Tags: Stephen A. Cambone, Donald Rumsfeld, National Military Command Center, Aubrey Davis Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:39 a.m. September 11, 2001: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Is Wanted at Pentagon Teleconference but Cannot Be Reached

This picture of Rumsfeld (center), taken from the US Army website, is captioned, “Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld returns to Pentagon inner offices Tuesday morning after surveying the damage from the hijacked plane which crashed into the building moments before.” This contradicts his claim that he was helping victims for nearly an hour after the attack. However, there is video footage of Rumsfeld helping a person on a stretcher and it is not known when this picture is taken exactly. [Source: US Army] Captain Charles Leidig, a deputy who is temporarily in charge of the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC), is handling the NMCC’s crisis teleconference. He opens the call saying, “An air attack against North America may be in progress.” He mentions reports of a crash into the opposite side of the Pentagon, and requests that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld be added to the conference. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004 ] Rumsfeld has a crucial role to play in coordinating the military response to an attack on the US. According to journalist and author Andrew Cockburn, since the Cold War, “In an age when an enemy attack might allow only a few minutes for detection and reaction, control of American military power became vested in the National Command Authority, which consists of the president and the secretary of defense. Collectively, the NCA is the ultimate source of military orders, uniquely empowered, among other things, to order the use of nuclear weapons. In time of war, therefore, Rumsfeld was effectively the president’s partner, the direct link to the fighting forces, and all orders had to go through him. Such orders were supposed to be transmitted from… the National Military Command Center.” Cockburn adds that the NMCC is “the operational center for any and every crisis, from nuclear war to hijacked airliners.” Yet, rather than join the NMCC conference, Rumsfeld has already gone out of the Pentagon to see the crash site, without telling any of his command staff where he was going, and remains out of contact for some time (see Between 9:38 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). Therefore, a few minutes after Leidig makes his request, Rumsfeld’s office will report back that he is nowhere to be found. Cockburn concludes, “The chain of command was broken.” [COCKBURN, 2007, PP. 4-5; DEMOCRACY NOW!, 3/7/2007] It is unknown whether Rumsfeld has a cell phone or pager on him, and if so, why he cannot be reached. Entity Tags: Charles Leidig, Donald Rumsfeld, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:44 a.m. September 11, 2001: NMCC Conference Thinks Flight 1989, Not Flight 93, Is Fourth Hijack NORAD briefs the NMCC teleconference on the possible hijacking of Delta Flight 1989. Four minutes later, a representative from the White House bunker containing Vice President Cheney asks if there are any indications of other hijacked planes. Captain Charles Leidig, temporarily in charge of the NMCC, mentions the Delta Flight and comments, “that would be the fourth possible hijack.” Flight 1989 is in the same general Ohio region as Flight 93, but NORAD doesn’t scramble fighters toward either plane at this time. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Charles Leidig, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:46 a.m. September 11, 2001: NMCC Teleconference Still Looking to Include Rumsfeld and Myers Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s office, and acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Myers’ office, report to the NMCC teleconference that they are still trying to track down Rumsfeld and Myers, respectively, and bring them into the conference. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld is apparently outside the Pentagon looking at the Flight 77 crash site (see Between 9:38 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. September 11, 2001), though counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke suggests Rumsfeld is elsewhere in the Pentagon for much of the time (see (Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Myers’ whereabouts in the period after the Pentagon crash have not been fully explained (see (Between 9:55 a.m. and 10:25 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Rumsfeld and Myers do not enter the NMCC until about 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard B. Myers Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Between 9:55 a.m. and 10:25 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Myers Finally Enters NMCC; Prior Whereabouts Disputed Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers enters the National Military Command Center (NMCC) within the Pentagon, though exactly when this happens remains unclear. According to his own statements, he was on Capitol Hill, in the offices of Senator Max Cleland (D), from just before 9:00 a.m. until around the time the Pentagon was hit. He’d then headed back to the Pentagon (see Shortly Before 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (Shortly After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [ARMED FORCES RADIO AND TELEVISION SERVICE, 10/17/2001; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, 6/29/2006] According to the 9/11 Commission, Myers joins the air threat conference call from the NMCC at “shortly before 10:00.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 38] But the American Forces Press Service reports that he arrives at the NMCC “about 15 minutes” before Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (who arrives around 10:30), meaning at about 10:15 a.m. [AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 9/8/2006] Rumsfeld claims that, as he enters the NMCC, Myers has “just returned from Capitol Hill.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/23/2004] Max Cleland concurs that Myers was with him on Capitol Hill until around the time of the Pentagon attack. [CNN, 11/20/2001; ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 6/16/2003] But counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims that Myers has been taking part in a video conference since shortly after the second attack on the WTC, and has been visible on the Pentagon screen (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and 9:28 a.m. September 11, 2001), thereby implying Myers has been at the Pentagon all along. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 3 AND 5] Myers tells the 9/11 Commission, “After I reached the National Military Command Center (NMCC), I asked questions to determine where Secretary Rumsfeld was, how the FAA was handling airborne flights, and the status of fighters prepared to intercept any hijacked aircraft inbound to Washington.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004 ] Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001: White House Finally Requests Continuity of Government Plans, Air Force One Escort, and Fighters for Washington According to the 9/11 Commission: “An Air Force lieutenant colonel working in the White House Military Office [joins] the [NMCC’s air threat] conference and state[s] that he had just talked to Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The White House request[s]: (1) the implementation of Continuity of Government measures, (2) fighter escorts for Air Force One, and (3) the establishment of a fighter combat air patrol over Washington, DC.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gave the order to implement the Continuity of Government plan a few minutes earlier, from inside the White House Situation Room (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Before that, he had requested a fighter escort for Air Force One (see (Between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and combat air patrols over all major US cities (not just Washington), according to his own recollection (see (Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 7-8] Entity Tags: Stephen J. Hadley, Richard A. Clarke, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline, Civil Liberties

(10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Returns to the Pentagon; Speaks to President Bush and Temporarily Joins White House Teleconference Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld returns from the Pentagon crash site “by shortly before or after 10:00 a.m.” Then he has “one or more calls in my office, one of which was with the president,” according to his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/23/2004] The commission later concludes that Rumsfeld’s call with President Bush has little impact: “No one can recall any content beyond a general request to alert forces.” The possibility of shooting down hijacked planes is not mentioned. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld then goes to the Executive Support Center (ESC) located near his office, arriving there at around 10:15 a.m. In the ESC already are Stephen Cambone, Rumsfeld’s closest aide, Larry Di Rita, Rumsfeld’s personal chief of staff, and Victoria Clarke, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Rumsfeld had instructed Di Rita and Clarke to go to the ESC and wait for him there when they’d come to his office soon after the second WTC tower was hit at 9:03 A.M. (see (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Presently, Rumsfeld gives them their first confirmation that a plane hit the Pentagon, saying, “I’m quite sure it was a plane and I’m pretty sure it’s a large plane.” According to Clarke, he pulls out a yellow legal pad and writes down three categories, “by which his thinking would be organized the rest of the day: what we needed to do immediately, what would have to be underway quickly, and what the military response would be.” [CLARKE, 2006, PP. 221-222; COCKBURN, 2007, PP. 5-6] The Executive Support Center has secure video facilities, and while there, Rumsfeld participates in the White House video teleconference. This is the video conference that counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims Rumsfeld is a part of much of the morning (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Then at around 10:30 a.m., he moves on to the National Military Command Center NMCC, located next door to the ESC (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/23/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 43-44] Those in the NMCC are apparently unaware of Rumsfeld’s whereabouts during the half-hour from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.: Brigadier General Montague Winfield later recalls, “For 30 minutes we couldn’t find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the [NMCC].” [ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, Stephen A. Cambone, Victoria Clarke, Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush, Larry DiRita, Donald Rumsfeld, Executive Support Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

10:03 a.m. September 11, 2001: NMCC Learns of Flight 93 Hijacking, NORAD Still Not Told According to the 9/11 Commission, the NMCC learns about the Flight 93 hijacking at this time. Since the FAA has not yet been patched in to the NMCC’s conference call, the news comes from the White House. The White House learned about it from the Secret Service, and the Secret Service learned about it from the FAA. NORAD apparently is still unaware. Four minutes later, a NORAD representative on the conference call states, “NORAD has no indication of a hijack heading to Washington, D.C., at this time.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Entity Tags: Secret Service, Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(10:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Military Put on High Alert All US military forces are ordered to Defcon Three (or Defcon Delta), “The highest alert for the nuclear arsenal in 30 years.” [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; CNN, 9/4/2002; ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002; CLARKE, 2004, PP. 15] Rumsfeld claims that he makes the recommendation, but it is hard to see how he can do this, at least at this time. He later asserts that he discusses the issue with acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers in the NMCC first. However, they do not arrive at the PEOC until about 10:30 a.m. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/23/2004] At 10:15 a.m., the massive blast doors to US Strategic Command, headquarters for NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, are closed for the first time in response to the high alert. [AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 6/3/2002; BBC, 9/1/2002] In another account, acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers gives the Defcon order by himself. President Bush later contradicts both accounts, asserting that he gives the order. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/22/2004 ] According to the 9/11 Commission’s final report, though, the decision to go to Defcon Three takes place about 35 minutes later (see (10:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: George W. Bush, National Military Command Center, Richard B. Myers, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Donald Rumsfeld, 9/11 Commission, US Strategic Command Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

10:14 a.m.-10:19 a.m. September 11, 2001: White House Informs NMCC that Cheney Has Given Shootdown Authorization A lieutenant colonel at the White House repeatedly relays to the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon that Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that fighter jets are cleared to engage an inbound aircraft if they can verify that the aircraft is hijacked. The lieutenant colonel notifies the NMCC of the authorization over the air threat conference call (see (9:29 a.m.-9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Cheney, who is in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, said at sometime between 10:10 and 10:15 that fighters could engage an aircraft that was reportedly approaching Washington (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). However, it is only when Cheney calls President Bush at 10:18 a.m. that Bush confirms the shootdown order (see 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). The shootdown order will be received by NORAD, and then, at 10:31 a.m., sent out to its three air defense sectors in the continental US (see 10:31 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 41-42; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 240] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

10:17 a.m. September 11, 2001: FAA out of the Loop; Finally Joins NMCC Teleconference The FAA finally joins an emergency teleconference being conducted by the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon. The NMCC has been holding this teleconference since 9:29 a.m. It began as a “significant event” conference, but after eight minutes continued as an air threat conference call (see (9:29 a.m.-9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Yet, according to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA has not been included in it until this time, because operators have had “equipment problems and difficulty finding secure phone numbers.” NORAD asked three times before 10:03 a.m., when the last hijacked plane crashed, to confirm the presence of FAA on the teleconference, to provide an update on hijackings, but without success. Furthermore, the FAA representative who now joins the teleconference has “no familiarity with or responsibility for hijackings, no access to decisionmakers, and none of the information available to senior FAA officials.” The highest level Defense Department officials rely on this teleconference to coordinate with their counterparts at the FAA. As a result of the FAA’s absence from it, the leaders of NORAD and the FAA have effectively been out of contact with each other. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 37-38] General Richard Myers, the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will later write that the lack of communication with the FAA has contributed to confusion at the NMCC over the flight numbers of the aircraft that were hijacked. However, according to Myers, the NMCC could not contact the FAA over ordinary phone lines because “[t]errorists who could hijack aircraft so readily could probably also eavesdrop on unsecured phone lines.” [MYERS, 2009, PP. 153] Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, Richard B. Myers, Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Missing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Finally Enters NMCC Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, missing for at least 30 minutes, finally enters the NMCC, where the military’s response to the 9/11 attacks is being coordinated. [CNN, 9/4/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld later claims that he only started to gain a situational awareness of what was happening after arriving at the NMCC. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld was in his office only 200 feet away from the NMCC until the Pentagon crash at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). His activities during this period are unclear. He went outside to the Flight 77 crash site and then stayed somewhere else in the Pentagon until his arrival at the NMCC. Brigadier General Montague Winfield later says, “For 30 minutes we couldn’t find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the [NMCC].” [ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] Winfield himself apparently only shows up at the NMCC around 10:30 a.m. as well. Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, National Military Command Center, Montague Winfield Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(2:40 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Rumsfeld Is Told Al-Qaeda Was Behind 9/11 Attacks But Wants to Blame Iraq

Two sections from Rumsfeld’s notes, dictated to Stephen Cambone. [Source: Defense Department] Defense Secretary Rumsfeld aide Stephen Cambone is taking notes on behalf of Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center. These notes will be leaked to the media nearly a year later. According to the notes, although Rumsfeld has already been given information indicating the 9/11 attacks were done by al-Qaeda (see 12:05 p.m. September 11, 2001) and he has been given no evidence so far indicating any Iraqi involvement, he is more interested in blaming the attacks on Iraq. According to his aide’s notes, Rumsfeld wants the “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Osama bin Laden].… Need to move swiftly.… Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” [CBS NEWS, 9/4/2002; BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 285] In a 2004 book, author James Moore will write, “Unless Rumsfeld had an inspired moment while the rest of the nation was in shock, the notes are irrefutable proof that the Bush administration had designs on Iraq and Hussein well before the president raised his hand to take the oath of office.” [MOORE, 3/15/2004, PP. 18] Entity Tags: Stephen A. Cambone, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Central Intelligence Agency, National Military Command Center, Donald Rumsfeld, Al-Qaeda Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Between May 12 and June 10, 2009: McChrystal Modifies Pentagon Command Center for Afghan War before Confirmation to Commander Post Stanley McChrystal, nominated to lead US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, directs the transfer of a large area of the National Military Command Center—the Pentagon’s principal underground command and control center and emergency operations facility—to the Afghan war effort. This indicates that McChrystal is at work even before his official confirmation to the top war post. McChrystal’s pre-confirmation activity is corroborated by an account by analyst Mark Perry, who will later report that McChrystal and staff arrive in Kabul within days of his nomination as top commander to assess the case for sending more troops (see Between May 12 and June 10, 2009). [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/10/2009] Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, National Military Command Center, Stanley A. McChrystal Timeline Tags: War in Afghanistan


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