Newly released portions of NORAD tapes from 9/11 featured in a
Vanity Fair article
do little to answer
skeptic's questions about the impotence of U.S. air defenses on 9/11
and if anything only increase focus on the incompatibility of the
official version of events with what is actually known to have taken
place on that day.
It is clear that the
exercises revolving around hijacked airliners scheduled for that
morning created so much noise in the system that controllers could
not pinpoint the positions of any of the real airliners to
orchestrate any kind of intercept.
Errant 'ghost' aircraft
such as 'Delta 89' and American Airlines 11 which controllers
weren't aware had already crashed into the World Trade Center north
tower continually confuse NORAD officials and at one point after
Flight 77 has hit the Pentagon, they even intercept their own
Several exchanges between
NORAD personnel outline the confusion that the drills caused and
delayed the response of air defense procedures.
BOSTON CENTER: Hi. Boston Center T.M.U. [Traffic Management Unit],
we have a problem here. We have a hijacked aircraft headed towards
New York, and we need you guys to, we need someone to scramble some
F-16s or something up there, help us out.
POWELL: Is this real-world or exercise?
BOSTON CENTER: No, this is not an exercise, not a test.
WATSON: What was that?
ROUNTREE: Is that real-world?
DOOLEY: Real-world hijack.
"When they told me there
was a hijack, my first reaction was 'Somebody started the exercise
early,'" said mission-crew commander Major Kevin Nasypany.
The exercise of running
war games where planes would be mock-hijacked and
crashed into high-profile targets is dismissed as a coincidence by
the writer Michael Bronner, with no discussion of the astronomical
improbability of the two scenarios colliding, in alliance with
similar same target, same time drills which took place during the
The tapes betray the fact
that NORAD's attention to the fact that Flight 77 was heading
towards Washington are virtually non-existent as they struggle to
gain authorization to shoot down stray aircraft.
Despite the lies of Cheney
in his subsequent TV interviews and statements given under oath to
the 9/11 Commission, those shoot down orders never arrived, even
after United 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania.
While NORAD struggled to
comprehend what exactly was heading towards Washington, in Dick
Cheney's PEOC bunker things were apparently a lot clearer. The
testimony of Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta is brought
under more scrutiny by the NORAD tapes.
How could Cheney know
exactly what was heading for Washington and give clear orders for
its path to remain clear, while the very people mandated to defend
the skies of America scrambled desperately to make sense of the
chaos and get fighters in the positions they needed to be?
"During the time that the
airplane was coming in to the Pentagon, there was a young man who
would come in and say to the Vice President, "The plane is 50 miles
out." "The plane is 30 miles out."
And when it got down to
"the plane is 10 miles out," the young man also said to the Vice
President, "Do the orders still stand?"
"And the Vice President
turned and whipped his neck around and said, "Of course the orders
still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?"
Secretary of Transportation
Norman Mineta's testimony to the 9/11 Commission, May 23, 2003.
The impotence of NORAD in
only having access to four fighters to cover the entire eastern
seaboard of the US contradicts the fact that
35 USAF bases alone were within range of the hijacked
flights but were never called upon or given as an option.
The quick response by NORAD
to the golfer
Payne Stewart's off-course aircraft in 1999 is
often cited as contradicting with procedure on 9/11. In addition,
there were 67
occasions where fighters were scrambled to intercept
errant aircraft in the 9 month period before 9/11.
Other segments of the tapes
only raise more questions and do not provide any answers to
- How did the admittedly
incompetent pilot hijackers turn off the transponders of all the
aircraft? A procedure, according to professionals that we have
talked to, is often beyond the capability of even the most
experienced commercial pilots?
- In one portion of the
tapes, NORAD personnel are heard to marvel at the excellence of the
ANDERSON: They're probably not squawking anything [broadcasting a
beacon code] anyway. I mean, obviously these guys are in the
NASYPANY: These guys are smart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, they knew exactly what they wanted to do.
These guys are smart?
Contrast this statement with those of the
instructors when describing the skills of the alleged
Mohammed Atta: "His
attention span was zero."
Khalid Al-Mihdhar: "We
didn't kick him out, but he didn't live up to our standards."
Marwan Al-Shehhi: He was
dropped because of his limited English and incompetence at the
Salem Al-Hazmi: "We advised
him to quit after two lessons.
the descriptions afforded to these men square with the chaos that
their skills in evading detection brought to the NORAD control room?
Or were the planes being controlled by some other means than morons
who could barely get single engine Cessna's off the ground - but who
apparently ran the world's most sophisticated air defense ragged for
Does the panic that
envelops the NORAD control room and the fear that new reports of
hijacked planes will never end, coupled with speculation that
anything (the White House and the Statue of Liberty are mentioned)
could be a target, corroborate with the actions of President Bush's
Reports of numerous stray
aircraft, bombs on planes, and truck bombs at the Pentagon fly and
yet President Bush sits calmly in a Florida classroom apparently
safe in the knowledge that he is not a target. Why wasn't the
President hurried into the nearest underground bunker as soon as
Card told him "America is under attack," unless Bush's people were
confident of the exact targets beforehand, and that Bush himself
wasn't one of them?
The writer of the Vanity
Fair piece has taken the NORAD tapes on their own and attempted to
forward them as proof that the official version of events is largely
accurate, minus the proven lies about the non-authorization of shoot
The problem is that the
behavior of the errant planes, when overlaid with the activities of
Cheney and Bush, standard intercept operating procedure (minus the
intentional confusion of an untold number of blips from the NORAD
drills) and the incompetent hijackers, simply does not corroborate.
Furthermore, the tape
portions amount to a total of no more than 20 minutes of hand-picked
cmmunications and it is admitted that the discussions of the higher
brass are not recorded due to secrecy. Nothing is mentioned of the
six tapes of air traffic control communications with the hijacked
airliners that were
deliberately destroyed by FAA managers.
The purpose of the Vanity
Fair and a similar
Washington Post article is to whitewash the
entire affair and blame 9/11 on the incompetence of NORAD.
The NORAD tapes, far from
dissolving so-called "conspiracy theories," only serve to support
the weight of evidence that points directly towards a deliberate
plan on September 11, 2001 to make the air defenses of the United
States impotent and to enable the planes to find their targets.