Brock911 Wiki

This is a new article. As such is has been set to unassessed. This article has been assessed as havingUnknown importance.

Good scope?NoN Timeline? +YesY wikified? +YesY red links < 10?NoN all red links fixed?NoN referenced?NoN Illustrated?NoN Googled and added info? NoN Checked 9/11 records archives? NoN Checked Wikinews? NoN Checked Wikisource? NoN

This article is a subsection of 9/11 Commission Report Chapter 1 full text

1.3 National Crisis Management[]


When American 11 struck the World Trade Center at 8:46, no one in the White House or traveling with the President knew that it had been hijacked.While that information circulated within the FAA, we found no evidence that the hijacking was reported to any other agency in Washington before 8:46.[1]

Most federal agencies learned about the crash in New York from CNN.[2] Within the FAA,the administrator, Jane Garvey, and her acting deputy, Monte Belger, had not been told of a confirmed hijacking before they learned from television that a plane had crashed.[3] Others in the agency were aware of it, as we explained earlier in this chapter.

Inside the National Military Command Center, the deputy director of operations and his assistant began notifying senior Pentagon officials of the incident. At about 9:00, the senior NMCC operations officer reached out to the FAA operations center for information.Although the NMCC was advised of the hijacking of American 11, the scrambling of jets was not discussed.[4]

In Sarasota, Florida, the presidential motorcade was arriving at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School, where President Bush was to read to a class and talk about education.White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told us he was standing with the President outside the classroom when Senior Advisor to the President Karl Rove first informed them that a small, twin-engine plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.The President’s reaction was that the incident must have been caused by pilot error.[5]

At 8:55, before entering the classroom, the President spoke to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice,who was at the White House. She recalled first telling the President it was a twin-engine aircraft—and then a commercial aircraft—that had struck theWorldTrade Center, adding “that’s all we know right now, Mr. President.”[6]

At the White House,Vice President Dick Cheney had just sat down for a meeting when his assistant told him to turn on his television because a plane had struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.TheVice President was wondering “how the hell could a plane hit the World Trade Center” when he saw the second aircraft strike the South Tower.[7]

Elsewhere in the White House, a series of 9:00 meetings was about to begin. In the absence of information that the crash was anything other than an accident, the White House staff monitored the news as they went ahead with their regular schedules.[8]

The Agencies Confer[]

When they learned a second plane had struck the World Trade Center, nearly everyone in the White House told us, they immediately knew it was not an accident. The Secret Service initiated a number of security enhancements

Page 36

around the White House complex.The officials who issued these orders did not know that there were additional hijacked aircraft, or that one such aircraft was en route to Washington. These measures were precautionary steps taken because of the strikes in New York.[9]

The FAA and White House Teleconferences[]

The FAA,the White House, and the Defense Department each initiated a multiagency teleconference before 9:30. Because none of these teleconferences—at least before 10:00— included the right officials from both the FAA and Defense Department, none succeeded in meaningfully coordinating the military and FAA response to the hijackings.

At about 9:20, security personnel at FAA headquarters set up a hijacking teleconference with several agencies, including the Defense Department.The NMCC officer who participated told us that the call was monitored only periodically because the information was sporadic,it was of little value,and there were other important tasks.The FAA manager of the teleconference also remembered that the military participated only briefly before the Pentagon was hit. Both individuals agreed that the teleconference played no role in coordinating a response to the attacks of 9/11.Acting Deputy Administrator Belger was frustrated to learn later in the morning that the military had not been on the call.[10]

At the White House, the video teleconference was conducted from the [[Situation Room]] by Richard Clarke, a special assistant to the president long involved in counterterrorism. Logs indicate that it began at 9:25 and included the CIA; the FBI; the departments of State, Justice, and Defense; the FAA; and the White House shelter. The FAA and CIA joined at 9:40. The first topic addressed in the White House video teleconference—at about 9:40—was the physical security of the President, the White House, and federal agencies. Immediately thereafter it was reported that a plane had hit the Pentagon. We found no evidence that video teleconference participants had any prior information that American 77 had been hijacked and was heading directly toward Washington. Indeed, it is not clear to us that the video teleconference was fully under way before 9:37, when the Pentagon was struck.[11]

Garvey, Belger, and other senior officials from FAA headquarters participated in this video teleconference at various times.We do not know who from Defense participated, but we know that in the first hour none of the personnel involved in managing the crisis did.And none of the information conveyed in the White House video teleconference, at least in the first hour, was being passed to the NMCC.As one witness recalled,

“[It] was almost like there were

parallel decisionmaking processes going on; one was a voice conference orchestrated by the NMCC . . . and then there was the [White House video teleconference]. . . . [I]n my mind they were competing venues for command

and control and decisionmaking.”[12]

At 10:03, the conference received reports of more missing aircraft,“2 pos-

Page 37

sibly 3 aloft,” and learned of a combat air patrol over Washington.There was discussion of the need for rules of engagement.Clarke reported that they were asking the President for authority to shoot down aircraft. Confirmation of that authority came at 10:25, but the commands were already being conveyed in more direct contacts with the Pentagon.[13]

The Pentagon Teleconferences[]

Inside the National Military Command Center, the deputy director for operations immediately thought the second strike was a terrorist attack.The job of the NMCC in such an emergency is to gather the relevant parties and establish the chain of command between the National Command Authority—the president and the secretary of defense— and those who need to carry out their orders.[14]

On the morning of September 11, Secretary Rumsfeld was having breakfast at the Pentagon with a group of members of Congress. He then returned to his office for his daily intelligence briefing.The Secretary was informed of the second strike in New York during the briefing; he resumed the briefing while awaiting more information. After the Pentagon was struck, Secretary Rumsfeld went to the parking lot to assist with rescue efforts.[15]

Inside the NMCC, the deputy director for operations called for an allpurpose “significant event” conference. It began at 9:29, with a brief recap: two aircraft had struck the World Trade Center, there was a confirmed hijacking of American 11, and Otis fighters had been scrambled.The FAA was asked to provide an update, but the line was silent because the FAA had not been added to the call.A minute later, the deputy director stated that it had just been confirmed that American 11 was still airborne and heading toward D.C. He directed the transition to an air threat conference call. NORAD confirmed that American 11 was airborne and heading toward Washington, relaying the erroneous FAA information already mentioned.The call then ended, at about 9:34.[16] It resumed at 9:37 as an air threat conference call,[note 1] which lasted more than eight hours.The President,Vice President, Secretary of Defense, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley all participated in this teleconference at various times, as did military personnel from the White House underground shelter and the President’s military aide on Air Force One.[17]

Operators worked feverishly to include the FAA, but they had equipment problems and difficulty finding secure phone numbers. NORAD asked three times before 10:03 to confirm the presence of the FAA in the teleconference. The FAA representative who finally joined the call at 10:17 had no familiarity with or responsibility for hijackings, no access to decisionmakers, and none of the information available to senior FAA officials.[18]

Page 38

We found no evidence that, at this critical time, NORAD’s top commanders, in Florida or Cheyenne Mountain, coordinated with their counterparts at FAA headquarters to improve awareness and organize a common response. Lower-level officials improvised—for example, the FAA’s Boston Center bypassed the chain of command and directly contacted NEADS after the first hijacking. But the highest-level Defense Department officials relied on the NMCC’s air threat conference, in which the FAA did not participate for the first 48 minutes.[19]

At 9:39, the NMCC’s deputy director for operations, a military officer,opened the call from the Pentagon, which had just been hit. He began:“An air attack against North America may be in progress. NORAD, what’s the situation?” NORAD said it had conflicting reports. Its latest information was “of a possible hijacked aircraft taking off out of JFK en route to Washington D.C.” The NMCC reported a crash into the mall side of the Pentagon and requested that the Secretary of Defense be added to the conference.[20]

At 9:44,NORAD briefed the conference on the possible hijacking of Delta 1989.Two minutes later, staff reported that they were still trying to locate Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice Chairman Myers. The Vice Chairman joined the conference shortly before 10:00; the Secretary, shortly before 10:30.The Chairman[who?] was out of the country.[21]

At 9:48, a representative from the White House shelter asked if there were any indications of another hijacked aircraft.The deputy director for operations mentioned the Delta flight and concluded that “that would be the fourth possible hijack.”At 9:49, the commander of NORAD directed all air sovereignty aircraft to battle stations, fully armed.[22]

At 9:59, an Air Force lieutenant colonel working in the White House Military Office joined the conference and stated he had just talked to Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.The White House requested (1) the implementation of continuity of government measures, (2) fighter escorts for Air Force One, and (3) a fighter combat air patrol over Washington, D.C.[23]

By 10:03, when United 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, there had been no mention of its hijacking and the FAA had not yet been added to the teleconference.[24]

The President and the Vice President[]

The President was seated in a classroom when,at 9:05,Andrew Card whispered to him: “A second plane hit the second tower.America is under attack.”The President told us his instinct was to project calm, not to have the country see an excited reaction at a moment of crisis.The press was standing behind the children; he saw their phones and pagers start to ring. The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening.[25]

The President remained in the classroom for another five to seven minutes,

Page 39

while the children continued reading. He then returned to a holding room shortly before 9:15, where he was briefed by staff and saw television coverage. He next spoke to Vice President Cheney, Dr.Rice,New York Governor George Pataki Wikipedia.png, and FBI Director Robert Mueller. He decided to make a brief statement from the school before leaving for the airport.The Secret Service told us they were anxious to move the President to a safer location, but did not think it imperative for him to run out the door.[26]

Between 9:15 and 9:30, the staff was busy arranging a return to Washington, while the President consulted his senior advisers about his remarks. No one in the traveling party had any information during this time that other aircraft were hijacked or missing. Staff was in contact with the White House Situation Room,but as far as we could determine, no one with the President was in contact with the Pentagon.The focus was on the President’s statement to the nation.The only decision made during this time was to return to Washington.[27]

The President’s motorcade departed at 9:35, and arrived at the airport between 9:42 and 9:45.During the ride the President learned about the attack on the Pentagon. He boarded the aircraft, asked the Secret Service about the safety of his family Wikipedia.png, and called the Vice President. According to notes of the call, at about 9:45 the President told the Vice President:“Sounds like we have a minor war going on here, I heard about the Pentagon.We’re at war . . . somebody’s going to pay.”[28]

About this time, Card, the lead Secret Service agent, the President’s military aide, and the pilot were conferring on a possible destination for Air Force One. The Secret Service agent felt strongly that the situation in Washington was too unstable for the President to return there, and Card agreed. The President strongly wanted to return to Washington and only grudgingly agreed to go elsewhere.The issue was still undecided when the President conferred with the Vice President at about the time Air Force One was taking off. The Vice President recalled urging the President not to return to Washington.Air Force One departed at about 9:54 without any fixed destination.The objective was to get up in the air—as fast and as high as possible—and then decide where to go.[29]

At 9:33, the tower supervisor at Reagan National Airport picked up a hotline to the Secret Service and told the Service’s operations center that “an aircraft [is] coming at you and not talking with us.” This was the first specific report to the Secret Service of a direct threat to the White House. No move was made to evacuate the Vice President at this time. As the officer who took the call explained, “[I was] about to push the alert button when the tower advised that the aircraft was turning south and approaching Reagan National Airport.”[30]

American 77 began turning south, away from the White House, at 9:34. It continued heading south for roughly a minute, before turning west and beginning to circle back.This news prompted the Secret Service to order the immediate evacuation of the Vice President just before 9:36. Agents propelled him

Page 40

out of his chair and told him he had to get to the bunker.The Vice President entered the underground tunnel leading to the shelter at 9:37.[31] Once inside,Vice President Cheney and the agents paused in an area of the tunnel that had a secure phone, a bench, and television. The Vice President asked to speak to the President, but it took time for the call to be connected. He learned in the tunnel that the Pentagon had been hit, and he saw television coverage of smoke coming from the building.[32]

The Secret Service logged Mrs. Cheney’s arrival at the White House at 9:52, and she joined her husband in the tunnel. According to contemporaneous notes, at 9:55 the Vice President was still on the phone with the President advising that three planes were missing and one had hit the Pentagon.We believe this is the same call in which the Vice President urged the President not to return to Washington. After the call ended, Mrs. Cheney and the Vice President moved from the tunnel to the shelter conference room.[33]

United 93 and the Shootdown Order[]

On the morning of 9/11, the President and Vice President stayed in contact not by an open line of communication but through a series of calls.The President told us he was frustrated with the poor communications that morning. He could not reach key officials, including Secretary Rumsfeld, for a period of time.The line to the White House shelter conference room—and the Vice President— kept cutting off.[34]

The Vice President remembered placing a call to the President just after entering the shelter conference room. There is conflicting evidence about when the Vice President arrived in the shelter conference room.We have concluded, from the available evidence, that the Vice President arrived in the room shortly before 10:00,perhaps at 9:58.The Vice President recalled being told, just after his arrival, that the Air Force was trying to establish a combat air patrol over Washington.[35]

The Vice President stated that he called the President to discuss the rules of engagement for the CAP. He recalled feeling that it did no good to establish the CAP unless the pilots had instructions on whether they were authorized to shoot if the plane would not divert. He said the President signed off on that concept.The President said he remembered such a conversation, and that it reminded him of when he had been an interceptor pilot.The President emphasized to us that he had authorized the shootdown of hijacked aircraft.[36]

The Vice President’s military aide told us he believed the Vice President spoke to the President just after entering the conference room, but he did not hear what they said.Rice, who entered the room shortly after the Vice President and sat next to him, remembered hearing him inform the President,“Sir, the CAPs are up. Sir, they’re going to want to know what to do.” Then she recalled hearing him say, “Yes sir.” She believed this conversation occurred a few minutes, perhaps five, after they entered the conference room.[37] We believe this call would have taken place sometime before 10:10 to 10:15.

Page 41

Among the sources that reflect other important events of that morning, there is no documentary evidence for this call, but the relevant sources are incomplete. Others nearby who were taking notes, such as the Vice President’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, who sat next to him, and Mrs. Cheney, did not note a call between the President and Vice President immediately after the Vice President entered the conference room.[38]

At 10:02, the communicators in the shelter began receiving reports from the Secret Service of an inbound aircraft—presumably hijacked—heading toward Washington.That aircraft was United 93.The Secret Service was getting this information directly from the FAA.The FAA may have been tracking the progress of United 93 on a display that showed its projected path to Washington, not its actual radar return. Thus, the Secret Service was relying on projections and was not aware the plane was already down in Pennsylvania.[39]

At some time between 10:10 and 10:15, a military aide[who?] told the Vice President and others that the aircraft was 80 miles out.Vice President Cheney was asked for authority to engage the aircraft.[40] His reaction was described by Scooter Libby as quick and decisive, “in about the time it takes a batter to decide to swing.” The Vice President authorized fighter aircraft to engage the inbound plane. He told us he based this authorization on his earlier conversation with the President. The military aide returned a few minutes later, probably between 10:12 and 10:18, and said the aircraft was 60 miles out. He again asked for authorization to engage.The Vice President again said yes.[41] At the conference room table was White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. Bolten watched the exchanges and, after what he called “a quiet moment,”suggested that the Vice President get in touch with the President and confirm the engage order. Bolten told us he wanted to make sure the President was told that the Vice President had executed the order. He said he had not heard any prior discussion on the subject with the President.[42] The Vice President was logged calling the President at 10:18 for a twominute conversation that obtained the confirmation. On Air Force One, the President’s press secretary was taking notes; Ari Fleischer recorded that at 10:20, the President told him that he had authorized a shootdown of aircraft if necessary.[43]

Minutes went by and word arrived of an aircraft down in Pennsylvania. Those in the shelter wondered if the aircraft had been shot down pursuant to this authorization.[44]

At approximately 10:30, the shelter started receiving reports of another hijacked plane, this time only 5 to 10 miles out. Believing they had only a minute or two, the Vice President again communicated the authorization to “engage or “take out” the aircraft.At 10:33, Hadley told the air threat conference call: “I need to get word to Dick Myers that our reports are there’s an inbound aircraft flying low 5 miles out.The Vice President’s guidance was we need to take them out.”[45] Once again, there was no immediate information about the fate of the

Page 42

inbound aircraft. In the apt description of one witness,

“It drops below the radar

screen and it’s just continually hovering in your imagination; you don’t know

where it is or what happens to it.”

Eventually, the shelter received word that the alleged hijacker 5 miles away had been a medevac helicopter.[46]

Transmission of the Authorization from the White House to the Pilots[]

The NMCC learned of United 93’s hijacking at about 10:03.At this time the FAA had no contact with the military at the level of national command.The NMCC learned about United 93 from the White House. It, in turn, was informed by the Secret Service’s contacts with the FAA.[47]

NORAD had no information either.At 10:07, its representative on the air threat conference call stated that NORAD had “no indication of a hijack heading to DC at this time.”[48]

Repeatedly between 10:14 and 10:19, a lieutenant colonel at the White House relayed to the NMCC that the Vice President had confirmed fighters were cleared to engage inbound aircraft if they could verify that the aircraft was hijacked.[49]

The commander of NORAD,General Ralph Eberhart,was en route to the NORAD operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, when the shootdown order was communicated on the air threat conference call. He told us that by the time he arrived, the order had already been passed down NORAD’s chain of command.[50]

It is not clear how the shootdown order was communicated within NORAD.But we know that at 10:31, General Larry Arnold instructed his staff to broadcast the following over a NORAD instant messaging system:

“10:31 Vice president has cleared to us to intercept tracks of interest and shoot them down if they do not respond per [General Arnold].”[51]

In upstate New York, NEADS personnel first learned of the shootdown order from this message:

Floor Leadership: You need to read this. . . .The Region Commander has declared that we can shoot down aircraft that do not respond to our direction. Copy that?

Controllers: Copy that, sir.

Floor Leadership: So if you’re trying to divert somebody and he won’t divert—


Floor Leadership: No? It came over the chat. . . .You got a conflict on that direction?

Controllers: Right now no, but—

Floor Leadership: Okay? Okay, you read that from the Vice President, right? Vice President has cleared. Vice President has cleared us to

Page 43

intercept traffic and shoot them down if they do not respond per [General Arnold].[52]

In interviews with us, NEADS personnel expressed considerable confusion over the nature and effect of the order.

The NEADS commander told us he did not pass along the order because he was unaware of its ramifications. Both the mission commander and the senior weapons director indicated they did not pass the order to the fighters circling Washington and New York because they were unsure how the pilots would, or should, proceed with this guidance. In short, while leaders in Washington believed that the fighters above them had been instructed to “take out” hostile aircraft, the only orders actually conveyed to the pilots were to “ID type and tail.”[53]

In most cases, the chain of command authorizing the use of force runs from the president to the secretary of defense and from the secretary to the combatant commander.The President apparently spoke to Secretary Rumsfeld for the first time that morning shortly after 10:00. No one can recall the content of this conversation, but it was a brief call in which the subject of shootdown authority was not discussed.[54]

At 10:39, the Vice President updated the Secretary on the air threat conference:

Vice President: There’s been at least three instances here where we’ve had reports of aircraft approaching Washington—a couple were confirmed hijack. And, pursuant to the President’s instructions I gave authorization for them to be taken out. Hello?

SecDef:Yes, I understand.Who did you give that direction to?

Vice President: It was passed from here through the [operations] center at the White House, from the [shelter].

SecDef: OK,let me ask the question here. Has that directive been transmitted to the aircraft?

Vice President:Yes, it has.

SecDef: So we’ve got a couple of aircraft up there that have those instructions at this present time?

Vice President: That is correct. And it’s my understanding they’ve already taken a couple of aircraft out.

SecDef: We can’t confirm that.We’re told that one aircraft is down but we do not have a pilot report that did it.[55]

As this exchange shows, Secretary Rumsfeld was not in the NMCC when the shootdown order was first conveyed. He went from the parking lot to his office (where he spoke to the President), then to the Executive Support Center, where he participated in the White House video teleconference.He moved

Page 44

to the NMCC shortly before 10:30, in order to join Vice Chairman Myers. Secretary Rumsfeld told us he was just gaining situational awareness when he spoke with the Vice President at 10:39. His primary concern was ensuring that the pilots had a clear understanding of their rules of engagement.[56] The Vice President was mistaken in his belief that shootdown authorization had been passed to the pilots flying at NORAD’s direction. By 10:45 there was, however, another set of fighters circling Washington that had entirely different rules of engagement.These fighters, part of the 113th Wing of the [[District of Columbia Air National Guard]], launched out of Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland in response to information passed to them by the Secret Service.The first of the Andrews fighters was airborne at 10:38.[57]

General David Wherley—the commander of the 113th Wing—reached out to the Secret Service after hearing secondhand reports that it wanted fighters airborne. A Secret Service agent[who?] had a phone in each ear, one connected to Wherley and the other to a fellow agent[who?] at the White House, relaying instructions that the White House agent said he was getting from theVice President. The guidance for Wherley was to send up the aircraft, with orders to protect the White House and take out any aircraft that threatened the Capitol. General Wherley translated this in military terms to flying “weapons free”—that is, the decision to shoot rests in the cockpit, or in this case in the cockpit of the lead pilot. He passed these instructions to the pilots that launched at 10:42 and afterward.[58]

Thus, while the fighter pilots under NORAD direction who had scrambled out of Langley never received any type of engagement order, the Andrews pilots were operating weapons free—a permissive rule of engagement. The President and the Vice President indicated to us they had not been aware that fighters had been scrambled out of Andrews, at the request of the Secret Service and outside the military chain of command.[59] There is no evidence that NORAD headquarters or military officials in the NMCC knew—during the morning of September 11—that the Andrews planes were airborne and operating under different rules of engagement.

What If?[]

NORAD officials have maintained consistently that had the passengers not caused United 93 to crash, the military would have prevented it from reaching Washington, D.C.That conclusion is based on a version of events that we now know is incorrect.The Langley fighters were not scrambled in response to United 93; NORAD did not have 47 minutes to intercept the flight; NORAD did not even know the plane was hijacked until after it had crashed. It is appropriate, therefore, to reconsider whether United 93 would have been intercepted.

Had it not crashed in Pennsylvania at 10:03, we estimate that United 93

Page 45

could not have reached Washington any earlier than 10:13, and probably would have arrived before 10:23.There was only one set of fighters circling Washington during that time frame—the Langley F-16s.They were armed and under NORAD’s control.After NEADS learned of the hijacking at 10:07, NORAD would have had from 6 to 16 minutes to locate the flight, receive authorization to shoot it down, and communicate the order to the pilots, who (in the same span) would have had to authenticate the order, intercept the flight, and execute the order.[60]

At that point in time, the Langley pilots did not know the threat they were facing, did not know where United 93 was located, and did not have shootdown authorization.

First, the Langley pilots were never briefed about the reason they were scrambled.As the lead pilot[who?] explained,“I reverted to the Russian threat. . . . I’m thinking cruise missile threat from the sea.You know you look down and see the Pentagon burning and I thought the bastards snuck one by us. . . . [Y]ou couldn’t see any airplanes, and no one told us anything.”The pilots knew their mission was to divert aircraft, but did not know that the threat came from hijacked airliners.[61]

Second, NEADS did not have accurate information on the location of United 93. Presumably FAA would have provided such information, but we do not know how long that would have taken, nor how long it would have taken NEADS to locate the target.

Third, NEADS needed orders to pass to the pilots.At 10:10, the pilots over Washington were emphatically told,“negative clearance to shoot.” Shootdown authority was first communicated to NEADS at 10:31. It is possible that NORAD commanders would have ordered a shootdown in the absence of the authorization communicated by the Vice President,but given the gravity of the decision to shoot down a commercial airliner, and NORAD’s caution that a mistake not be made, we view this possibility as unlikely.[62]

NORAD officials have maintained that they would have intercepted and shot down United 93.We are not so sure.We are sure that the nation owes a debt to the passengers of United 93.Their actions saved the lives of countless others, and may have saved either the Capitol or the White House from destruction.

The details of what happened on the morning of September 11 are complex, but they play out a simple theme. NORAD and the FAA were unprepared for the type of attacks launched against the United States on September 11, 2001.They struggled, under difficult circumstances, to improvise a homeland defense against an unprecedented challenge they had never before encountered and had never trained to meet.

At 10:02 that morning, an assistant to the mission crew commander[who?] at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector in Rome, New York, was working

Page 46

with his colleagues on the floor of the command center. In a brief moment of reflection, he was recorded remarking that “This is a new type of war.”[63] He was, and is, right. But the conflict did not begin on 9/11. It had been publicly declared years earlier, most notably in a declaration[which?] faxed early in 1998 to an Arabic-language newspaper[which?] in London. Few Americans had noticed it. The fax had been sent from thousands of miles away by the followers of a Saudi exile[who?] gathered in one of the most remote and impoverished countries on Earth.


  1. 179. For lack of knowledge about the hijacking, see, e.g.,White House transcript, [[Card interview with Ron Fournier of the Associated Press]], Aug. 7, 2002. For information on the hijacking within the FAA, see the discussion of American 11 in section 1.2.
  2. 180. See White House record, Situation Room Log, Sept. 11, 2001;White House record, [[Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) Watch Log]], Sept. 11, 2001; DOD record, Senior Operations Officer log, Sept. 11, 2001.
  3. 181. Jane Garvey interview (Jun. 30, 2004); Monte Belger interview (Apr. 20, 2004).
  4. 182. For notifications, see DOD record,Assistant Deputy Director Operations Passdown Log, Sept. 11, 2001. For the call to the FAA,see DOD record,Senior Operations Officer log, Sept. 11, 2001 (“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”). For the scrambling of jets not being discussed, see Ryan Gonsalves interview (May 14,2004).
  5. 183. Secret Service records show the motorcade arriving between 8:50 and 8:55. USSS record, shift log, Sept. 11, 2001 (8:55); USSS record, Command Post Protectee Log, Sept. 11, 2001 (8:50). For Andrew Card’s recollection, see Andrew Card meeting (Mar. 31, 2004). For the President’s reaction, see Andrew Card meeting (Mar. 31, 2004);White House transcript, President Bush interview with Bob Schieffer of CBS News,Apr. 17, 2002.
  6. 184.White House transcript, Rice interview with Evan Thomas of Newsweek,Nov. 1, 2001, p. 2; see also White House record, President’s Daily Diary, Sept. 11, 2001.
  7. 185.White House transcript,Vice President Cheney interview with Newsweek,Nov. 19, 2001, p. 1.
  8. 186. For Rice’s meeting, see White House transcript, [[Rice interview with Bob Woodward of the Washington Post]], Oct. 24, 2001, pp. 360–361. For White House staff monitoring the news, see, e.g.,White House transcript, Rice interview with Evan Thomas, Nov. 11, 2001, p. 388.
  9. 187. On White House staff reaction, see White House transcript, Rice interview with Bob Woodward, Oct. 24, 2001, p. 361; Andrew Card meeting (Mar. 31, 2004). On security enhancements, see USSS memo, interview with Carl Truscott, Oct. 1, 2001, p. 1. On security measures being precautionary, see Carl Truscott interview (Apr. 15, 2004).
  10. 188. For the time of the teleconference, see FAA record, Chronology ADA-30, Sept. 11, 2001. For recollections of the NMCC officer, see Charles Chambers interview (Apr. 23, 2004). For recollections of the FAA manager, see Michael Weikert interview (May 7, 2004). For Belger’s reaction, see Monte Belger testimony, June 17, 2004.
  11. 189.For the times of the video teleconference, seeWhite House record,Situation Room Communications Log, Sept. 11, 2001 (9:25 start); CIA notes, Cofer Black timeline, Sept. 11, 2001 (CIA representatives joining at 9:40);FAA record, Chronology ADA-30, Sept. 11, 2001 (FAA representatives joining at 9:40).
  12. 190. Patrick Gardner interview (May 12, 2004). For participants, see Jane Garvey interview (Oct. 21, 2003); Monte Belger interview (Apr. 20, 2004); Jeff Griffith interview (Mar. 31, 2004). On the absence of Defense officials, see John Brunderman interview (May 17, 2004).The White House video teleconference was not connected into the area of the NMCC where the crisis was being managed.Thus the director of the operations team—who was on the phone with NORAD—did not have the benefit of information being shared on the video teleconference. See,e.g., Charles Leidig interview (Apr. 29, 2004);Montague Winfield interview (Apr. 26, 2004); Patrick Gardner interview (May 12, 2004). Moreover, when the Secretary and Vice Chairman later participated in the White House video teleconference, they were necessarily absent from the NMCC and unable to provide guidance to the operations team. See DOD report, OT-2 Analysis of NMCC Response to Terrorist Attack on 11 SEP 01, Oct. 4, 2001; John Brunderman interview (May 17, 2004).
  13. 191. NSC notes, Paul Kurtz notes, Sept. 11, 2001; Paul Kurtz meeting (Dec. 22, 2003). For shootdown authority having already been conveyed, see DOD transcript,Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001.
  14. 192. Charles Leidig interview (Apr. 29, 2004). For the job of the NMCC in an emergency, see NMCC briefing (July 21, 2003).
  15. 193. For the Secretary’s activities, see DOD memo, interview of Donald Rumsfeld, Dec. 23, 2002; [[Stephen Cambone interview]] (July 8, 2004).
  16. 194. Charles Leidig interview (Apr. 29, 2004).Secure teleconferences are the NMCC’s primary means of coordinating emergencies, and they fall into two categories:“event” and “threat.”Event conferences seek to gather information. If the situation escalates, a threat conference may be convened.On 9/11, there was no preset teleconference for a domestic terrorist attack. NMCC and National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC) briefing (July 21, 2003).For the content of the conferences on 9/11, see DOD transcript,Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001.
  17. 195. See DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001; see also White House notes,[[Thomas Gould notes]], Sept. 11, 2001.
  18. 196. On difficulties in including the FAA, see NMCC and NMJIC briefing (July 21, 2003); [[John Brunderman interview]] (May 17, 2004).On NORAD and the time of the FAA’s joining, see [[DOD transcript,Air Threat Conference Call]], Sept. 11, 2001. For the FAA representative, see Rayford Brooks interview (Apr. 15, 2004).
  19. 197. Richard Myers interview (Feb. 17, 2004); Charles Leidig interview (Apr. 29, 2004).
  20. 198. DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001.
  21. 199. On the briefing, see ibid.The Vice Chairman was on Capitol Hill when the Pentagon was struck, and he saw smoke as his car made its way back to the building. Richard Myers interview (Feb. 17, 2004). For the Chairman being out of the country, see DOD record, Deputy Director for Operations Passdown Log, Sept. 11, 2001.
  22. 200. DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001.
  23. 201. Ibid.
  24. 202. Ibid.
  25. 203. For the President being informed at 9:05, see White House record,President’s Daily Diary, Sept. 11, 2001. For Card’s statement, see White House transcript, Card interview with Ron Fournier,Aug. 7, 2002. For the President’s reaction, see President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004).
  26. 204.For the President’s activities, see Education Channel videotape,“[[Raw Footage of President Bush at Emma E. Booker Elementary School]],” Sept. 11, 2001 (remaining in classroom); Deborah Loewer meeting (Feb. 6, 2004) (in the holding room). For his calls, see White House record, President’s Daily Diary, Sept. 11, 2001 (9:15 call to Vice President); Deborah Loewer meeting (Feb. 6, 2004) (call to Rice); [[President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting]] (Apr. 29, 2004) (call to Pataki); White House record, Secure Switchboard Log, Sept. 11, 2001 (call to Mueller). For the decision to make a statement, see Ari Fleischer interview (Apr. 22, 2004). For the Secret Service’s perspective, see Edward Marinzel interview (Apr. 21, 2004).
  27. 205. On the return to Washington, see Deborah Loewer meeting (Feb. 6, 2004);Andrew Card meeting (Mar. 31, 2004). On consulting with senior advisers, see Ari Fleischer interview (Apr. 22, 2004). On information about additional aircraft, see, e.g.,Andrew Card meeting (Mar. 31, 2004). On decisions and the focus on the President’s speech, see President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004);Ari Fleischer interview (Apr. 22, 2004);Andrew Card meeting (Mar. 31, 2004).
  28. 206. On the motorcade, see USSS record, shift log, Sept. 11, 2001 (departing 9:35, arriving 9:45);USSS record, Command Post Protectee Log, Sept. 11, 2001 (departing 9:36, arriving 9:42).Fleischer deduced from his notes that the President learned about the Pentagon while in the motorcade.Ari Fleischer interview (Apr. 22, 2004). For the President’s actions and statements to the Vice President, see Ari Fleischer interview (Apr. 22, 2004);White House notes,Ari Fleischer notes, Sept. 11, 2001.
  29. 207. On not returning to Washington, see Edward Marinzel interview (Apr. 21, 2004);USSS memo, [[interview of Edward Marinzel]],Oct. 3, 2001;Andrew Card meeting (Mar. 31, 2004). For additional sources on the President’s desire to return, see White House transcript,Vice President Cheney interview with Newsweek,Nov. 19, 2001, p. 5. For the Vice President’s recollection, see President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004). For time of departure, see USSS record, Command Post Protectee Log, Sept. 11, 2001. On Air Force One’s objectives on takeoff, see Edward Marinzel interview (Apr. 21, 2004).
  30. 208.USSS memo, interview of Gregory LaDow, Oct. 1, 2001,p. 1. Shortly after the second attack in New York, a senior Secret Service agent charged with coordinating the President’s movements established an open line with his counterpart at the FAA, who soon told him that there were more planes unaccounted for—possibly hijacked— in addition to the two that had already crashed.Though the senior agent told someone to convey this information to the Secret Service’s operations center, it either was not passed on or was passed on but not disseminated; it failed to reach agents assigned to the Vice President, and the Vice President was not evacuated at that time. See Nelson Garabito interview (Mar. 11, 2004); USSS memo, interview of Nelson Garabito, Oct. 1, 2001; see also Terry Van Steenbergen interview (Mar. 30, 2004).
  31. 209.American 77’s route has been determined through Commission analysis of FAA and military radar data. For the evacuation of the Vice President, see White House transcript, [[Vice President Cheney interview with Newsweek]],Nov. 19, 2001, p. 2;USSS memo, interview of Rocco Delmonico,Oct. 1, 2001 (evacuation of the White House); see also White House notes, Mary Matalin notes, Sept. 11, 2001. On the time of entering the tunnel, see USSS report,“Executive Summary: U.S. Secret Service Timeline of Events, September 11–October 3, 2001,” Oct. 3, 2001, p. 2. Secret Service personnel told us that the 9:37 entry time in their timeline was based on alarm data, which is no longer retrievable. USSS briefing (Jan. 29, 2004).
  32. 210.White House transcript,Vice President Cheney interview with Newsweek, Nov. 19, 2001, p. 4; [[President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting]] (Apr. 29, 2004).
  33. 211. On Mrs. Cheney, see USSS report,“[[Executive Summary: U.S. Secret Service Timeline of Events, September 11–October 3, 2001]],” Oct. 3, 2001, p. 2 (time of arrival);White House transcript, [[Lynne Cheney interview with Newsweek]], Nov. 9, 2001, p. 2 (joining the Vice President). For the contemporaneous notes, see White House notes, Lynne Cheney notes, Sept. 11, 2001. On the content of the Vice President’s call, see White House transcript,Vice President Cheney interview with Newsweek,Nov. 19, 2001, p. 5.According to the Vice President, there was “one phone call from the tunnel. And basically I called to let him know that we were a target and I strongly urged him not to return to Washington right away, that he delay his return until we could find out what the hell was going on.”For their subsequent movements, see White House transcript,Vice President Cheney interview with Newsweek, Nov. 19, 2001, p. 5;White House transcript, Lynne Cheney interview with Newsweek,Nov. 9, 2001, p. 2.
  34. 212. On communications problems, see, e.g., President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004). On lack of an open line, see, e.g., Deborah Loewer meeting (Feb. 6, 2004).
  35. 213. On the Vice President’s call, see President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004). For the Vice President’s time of arrival in the shelter conference room, see White House record, PEOC Shelter Log, Sept. 11, 2001 (9:58); USSS memo, OVP 9/11 Timeline, Nov. 17, 2001 (9:52; Mrs. Cheney arrived White House and joined him in tunnel);White House notes, Lynne Cheney notes (9:55; he is on phone with President);White House transcript, Lynne Cheney interview with Newsweek, Nov. 9, 2001, p. 2 (“And when I got there, he was on the phone with the President . . . But from that first place where I ran into him, I moved with him into what they call the PEOC”); White House transcript,Vice President Cheney interview with Newsweek, Nov. 19, 2001, p. 4 (9:35 or 9:36 arrival; he estimated a 15-minute stay); Carl Truscott interview (Apr. 15, 2004) (arrived with Rice and the Vice President in conference room; called headquarters immediately; call logged at 10:00); President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting,Apr. 29, 2004 (Vice President viewed television footage of Pentagon ablaze in tunnel);White House transcript, Rice interview with Evan Thomas, Nov. 1, 2001, p. 388 (Rice viewed television footage of Pentagon ablaze in Situation Room). For the Vice President’s recollection about the combat air patrol, see President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004);White House transcript, [[President Bush interview with Bob Woodward and Dan Balz]], Dec. 17, 2001, p. 16.
  36. 214. President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004); see also White House transcript,[[Vice President Cheney interview with Newsweek]],Nov. 19, 2001, pp. 7–8.
  37. 215. Douglas Cochrane meeting (Apr. 16, 2004); Condeleeza Rice meeting (Feb. 7, 2004). For Rice entering after the Vice President, see USSS report,“[[Executive Summary:U.S. Secret Service Timeline of Events, September 11–October 3, 2001]],” Oct. 3, 2001, p. 2; Carl Truscott interview (Apr. 15, 2004).
  38. 216. In reconstructing events that occurred in the PEOC on the morning of 9/11, we relied on (1) phone logs of the White House switchboard; (2) notes of Lewis Libby, Mrs. Cheney, and Ari Fleischer; (3) the tape (and then transcript) of the air threat conference call; and (4) Secret Service and White House Situation Room logs, as well as four separate White House Military Office logs (the PEOC Watch Log, the PEOC Shelter Log, the Communications Log, and the 9/11 Log).
  39. 217. DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001. For one open line between the Secret Service and the FAA, see note 208. At Secret Service headquarters, personnel from the intelligence division were also on a phone conference with FAA headquarters. Chuck Green interview (Mar. 10, 2004). For notification of an inbound aircraft at 10:02, see USSS record, Intelligence Division timeline, Sept. 11, 2001; USSS record,Crisis Center Incident Monitor, Sept. 11, 2001.For the FAA’s projection, see Tim Grovack interview (Apr.8, 2004).For Secret Service updates, see DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001.
  40. 218.White House notes, Lynne Cheney notes, Sept. 11, 2001;White House notes, Lewis Libby notes, Sept. 11, 2001.
  41. 219. For Libby’s characterization, see White House transcript, Scooter Libby interview with Newsweek, Nov. 2001. For the Vice President’s statement, see President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004). For the second authorization, see White House notes, Lynne Cheney notes, Sept. 11, 2001;White House notes, Lewis Libby notes, Sept. 11, 2001.
  42. 220. Joshua Bolten meeting (Mar. 18, 2004); see also White House notes, Lewis Libby notes, Sept. 11, 2001 (“10:15–18:Aircraft 60 miles out, confirmed as hijack—engage?VP:Yes. JB [Joshua Bolten]: Get President and confirm engage order”).
  43. 221.For theVice President’s call, seeWhite House record,Secure Switchboard Log, Sept. 11,2001;White House record, President’s Daily Diary, Sept. 11, 2001;White House notes, Lewis Libby notes, Sept. 11, 2001. Fleischer’s 10:20 note is the first mention of shootdown authority. See White House notes,Ari Fleischer notes, Sept. 11, 2001; see also [[Ari Fleischer interview] (Apr. 22, 2004).
  44. 222. DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001.
  45. 223. On reports of another plane, see White House notes, Lynne Cheney notes, Sept. 11, 2001;White House notes,Lewis Libby notes, Sept. 11, 2001.On theVice President’s authorization, see ibid.;[[DOD transcript,Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001]]. For Hadley’s statement, see DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001.
  46. 224. For the quotation, see White House transcript, Libby interview with Newsweek, Nov. 2001. On the aircraft’s identity, see White House record,White House Military Office Log, Sept. 11, 2001.
  47. 225. On the NMCC, see DOD transcript,Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001. On the Secret Service’s contacts with the FAA, see notes 208, 217. On the Secret Service conveying information to the White House, see DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001; Nelson Garabito interview (Mar. 11, 2004).
  48. 226. DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001.
  49. 227. Ibid.
  50. 228. Ralph Eberhart interview (Mar. 1, 2004). On the morning of 9/11, General Eberhart was in his office at headquarters—roughly 30 minutes away from Cheyenne Mountain, where the operations center is located.
  51. 229. DOD record, Continental Region chat log, Sept. 11, 2001.
  52. 230. NEADS audio file, Mission Crew Commander position, channel 2, 10:32:12. For the text of the chat log message, see DOD record, Continental Region chat log, Sept. 11, 2001.
  53. 231. For the statements of NEADS personnel, see Robert Marr interview (Jan. 23, 2004) (NEADS commander); Kevin Nasypany interview (Jan. 22, 2004) (mission commander); James Fox interview (Oct. 29, 2004) (senior weapons director). On the understanding of leaders in Washington, see [[DOD transcript, Air Threat Conference Call]], Sept. 11, 2001. For the orders to Langley pilots, see NEADS audio file,Weapons Director position, recorder 1, channel 2, 10:10–11.
  54. 232. For evidence of the President speaking to Rumsfeld, see White House notes,Ari Fleischer notes, Sept. 11, 2001. On inability to recall this conversation, see Donald Rumsfeld interview (Jan. 30, 2004).
  55. 233. DOD note, transcript of Air Threat Conference Call, Sept. 11, 2001.
  56. 234. Donald Rumsfeld interview (Jan. 30, 2004).At 11:15, Secretary Rumsfeld spoke to the President and told him DOD was working on refining the rules of engagement so pilots would have a better understanding of the circumstances under which an aircraft could be shot down. See, e.g., DOD notes, Stephen Cambone notes, Sept. 11, 2001. DOD did not circulate written rules of engagement until sometime after 1:00 P.M. See [[DOD memo, rules of engagement]], Sept. 11, 2001 (faxed to Andrews Air Force Base at 1:45 P.M.).
  57. 235. David Wherley interview (Feb. 27, 2004).
  58. 236.The 113th Wing first learned from the FAA tower at Andrews that the Secret Service wanted fighters airborne. The FAA tower had been contacted by personnel at FAA headquarters,who were on an open line with senior agents from the President’s detail. See Nelson Garabito interview (Mar. 11, 2004); [[Terry Van Steenbergen interview]] (Mar. 30, 2004). On the Secret Service agent relaying instructions, see USSS memo, Beauchamp to ADInspection, September 11 experience, Feb. 23, 2004. On the order to fly weapons free, see David Wherley interview (Feb. 27, 2004); DOD memo, interview of David Wherley, Oct. 3, 2001, p. 12.
  59. 237. President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004).
  60. 238.These estimates are based on analysis of Boeing 757 maximum operating speed data, FAA and military radar data, and assumptions regarding how the airplane would be operated en route to the Washington, D.C., area. The shortest time frame assumes maximum speed without regard to overspeed warnings, a straight-line path, and no time allowed for maneuvering or slowing to aim and crash the airplane into its target.The probable time frame allows for speeds consistent with the observed operation of the airplane prior to its final maneuvers and crash, as well as for maneuvers and slowing in the D.C. area to take aim.According to radar data, the fighters from Langley Air Force Base arrived over Washington at about 10:00 A.M. Two of the three Langley fighters were fully armed (i.e., with missiles and guns); the third fighter carried only guns. Craig Borgstrom interview (Dec. 1, 2003).
  61. 239. For the pilots’ awareness, see Dean Eckmann interview (Dec. 1, 2003); Bradley Derrig interview (Dec. 1, 2003); Craig Borgstrom interview (Dec. 1, 2003). For the quotation, see Dean Eckmann interview (Dec. 1, 2003).
  62. 240. For no authority at 10:10, see NEADS audio file, Mission Crew Commander, channel 2. For shootdown authority at 10:31,see DOD record,Continental Region chat log, Sept. 11,2001.For possibility of ordering a shootdown, see Larry Arnold interview (Feb. 2, 2004).
  63. 241. NEADS audio file, Identification Technician position, recorder 1, channel 4, 10:02:22.




  1. All times given for this conference call are estimates, which we and the Department of Defense believe to be accurate within a ± 3 minute margin of error.