UNANSWERED QUESTIONS OF SEPTEMBER 11
9/11 Truth Alliance - Berlin
• 11 LINES OF INQUIRY INTO THE ODDITIES OF SEPT. 11
• HOW THE WHITE HOUSE AND U.S. OFFICIALS HAVE STIFLED INVESTIGATIONS FOR TWO YEARS*
• WHY MANY PEOPLE DON'T SIMPLY TRUST THE OFFICIAL STORY*
(* COMING SOON)
In the first section below, we present eleven lines of inquiry or talking points. These are just a few of the questions that have caused people all around the world to doubt the official story of what really happened on Sept. 11th - and many to suspect that the U.S. government is covering up enormously embarassing negligence, or even criminal complicity in the attacks.
The second section details a few of the many ways by which the Bush administration and U.S. authorities have needlessly obstructed, attacked and delayed investigations into Sept. 11 for two years.
Third section, a few of the reasons why many people do not simply trust the U.S. government to give them the full story.
Finally, a number of evidentiary items that the U.S. government (and other governments) could release - if they seriously wanted to eliminate the grave doubts about the official story.
We hereby demand the release of these items, and the disclosure of any and all other information about Sept. 11 relevant to making decisions in a democratic society.
What did U.S. authorities know and when did they know it? Eight months after the attacks, on May 15, 2002, the White House confessed that George W. Bush had received a limited but ultimately useless warning prior to Sept. 11th. This prompted spectacular headlines screaming that "BUSH KNEW." The revelations centered on a Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) delivered to Bush personally by CIA director George Tenet on Aug. 6, 2001, while Bush was vacationing at his Crawford ranch. The title of this 10-page document has been released: "BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO STRIKE U.S." Tenet reported warnings that terrorists connected to Osama Bin Laden were planning to hijack passenger planes in the United States.
Given such high-level warnings, why didn't the U.S. government take measures such as placing U.S. air defenses on alert and informing airports, airlines and law enforcement authorities of the need to be especially vigilant?
One line of defense was presented by national security adviser Condoleeza Rice on the day after the revelations, at the White House press conference of May 16, 2002. She said that vague warnings would have caused panic and crippled the U.S. air transportation system, without enhancing security in any meaningful way.
Derrill Bodley, who lost his daughter in the attacks, raised a moral objection to Rice's argument at a press conference a few weeks later: "I have a big question in my mind whenever government officials denigrate the value of human life and well-being when comparing it to the value of a system. Yet this is exactly the comparison that was made by Condoleeza Rice in a press conference on May 16th when she said, 'You would have risked shutting down the American civil aviation system with such generalized information.'"
However, Rice's argument also fails the practical test, for it ignores at least three realities: First, the warnings were far more specific than Rice is letting on (see Point 4, below). Second, there were actions that could have enhanced security without causing unnecessary panic, and the evidence in two cases suggests that exactly the opposite actions were taken: the number of Air Force fighters available to defend U.S. air space were actually reduced (see Point 2, below); and a regulation allowing pilots to keep arms in the cockpit on flights was rescinded in July 2001. Third, there are strong indications that at least some people were given warnings about the danger, and that these warnings were specific, i.e., not to fly on the date of Sept. 11 (see Point 5, below).
A second line of defense for Bush was that, in Rice's words, the White House had expected "traditional hijackings" (i.e., hostage-taking) and that "no one could have imagined" that planes might be used as weapons against buildings in suicide attacks. How can this be so, given the long history of attempts to use planes in suicide attacks? (See, for starters, the section of Paul Thompson's article titled, "Attacks Using Planes as Weapons" - scroll down.)
One story in particular completely invalidates Ms. Rice's excuse, for it directly concerns a warning received by her employer. In July 2001, a few weeks before Bush received the "Bin Laden" PDB, Italian authorities warned the U.S. Secret Service that terrorists connected to al-Qaeda were planning to hijack a plane and crash it into George W. Bush's hotel at that month's Genoa summit of the G-8 nations. As a result of these warnings, the Italians shut down the Genoa airport and airspace and installed anti-aircraft batteries to protect the summit (also see LA Times, Sept. 27, 2001). George W. Bush and his entourage - presumably including Condoleeza Rice - spent a night on a U.S. aircraft carrier for protection, even as the other G-8 leaders boarded a luxury ship to go on an Adriatic pleasure cruise.
How could Bush (and Rice) have failed to connect the Aug. 6 warning of imminent hijackings in the U.S. by Bin Laden operatives to the late-July warnings of Bin Laden's intent to stage an aerial kamikaze attack on Bush in Genoa? Are we supposed to believe that within three weeks, Bush had forgotten the night he spent on an aircraft carrier out of fear that Osama Bin Laden wanted to crash an airplane into his hotel? In light of this combination, Rice's claim that "no one could have imagined" aerial suicide attacks strains all credibility.
The Genoa warning was merely the most obvious of many warnings and indications that terrorists connected to the Bin Laden network were planning to use hijacked airplanes as weapons against prominent targets on the ground in the United States. These warnings dated back many years, at the very least to the now well-known "Project Bojinka" plans of 1996 devised by the convicted original WTC bomber, Ramzi Yousef. The warnings apparently intensified in the summer of 2001, as further points below will show.
The Pentagon apparently took the scenario of a plane used as a weapon seriously, because it carried out at least two exercises based on that scenario, in October 2000 and again in May 2001. These "mass casualty" (MASCAL) exercises, held at the Pentagon itself, were designed to prepare emergency responses for the possibility that an airplane might be crashed into the building. The National Reconaissance Office (NRO), the command center for spy satellites run by the CIA in cooperation with other agencies, planned a similar drill on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001! The NRO simulation was designed to test emergency response to the crashing of an airplane into NRO headquarters. It was cancelled when the news came that real planes were being crashed into buildings in real attacks. (See also Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, Newhouse News, 1/25/02, ABC News, 9/11/02).
What prompted the Pentagon and the NRO to hold such simulations? Were any other similar simulations held or planned in the period leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks?
Why does the White House refuse to release the PDB of Aug. 6, 2001 in any form? Does this document warn specifically of the possibility of kamikaze attacks using hijacked airliners, contrary to Condoleeza Rice's incredible denial that "no one ever imagined" this? Is it based on specific warnings from foreign or domestic intelligence services (see Point 4)?
In the United States, when a passenger plane veers from its designated course for more than a few minutes and/or fails to respond to messages from ground control, standard operating procedures specify an automatic response: The errant plane is to be intercepted by a military escort. Note that "interception" has nothing to do with shooting down the plane - which is an absolute last resort, requiring a special order. Rather, interception is a routine matter of reconnoitering and attempting to contact the off-course plane, and requires no special order.
Under regulations long in place before Sept. 11, air traffic controllers who are unable to establish contact with an errant plane (an "unknown") are supposed to turn the case over to the North American air defense command (NORAD) within a few minutes. After being alerted, NORAD is expected to scramble fighter jets to intercept the "unknown" within a few minutes. Such intercept orders were reportedly issued on 129 occasions in the year 2000, and on 67 occasions in the year 2001 prior to Sept. 11. General statistics on how many minutes it took for these fighters to get airborne have never been released (see the Evidence list, below). In the publicized case of the golfer Payne Stewart, it is known that Air Force planes already in the air on training missions were dispatched to intercept his Lear jet when it veered off course in 1998. (It drifted for hundreds of miles, with everyone on board apparently unconscious, before crashing.)
On Sept. 13, 2001, General Richard Myers, who had been the acting head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sept. 11, claimed in testimony before Congress that no interception attempts were made in response to the Sept. 11 attacks until after the Pentagon was hit, at 9:40 a.m. Note that air traffic controllers and the Federal Aviation Agency knew by 8:20 a.m. at the latest that Flight AA 11 had been hijacked. This was 1 hour and 20 minutes before the Pentagon was hit. By 8:46 a.m., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, ground controllers were aware that two other hijackings were underway (UA 175 and AA 77). The Federal Aviation Agency and the military leadership had established an open line of communications between ground controllers, NORAD, the White House and the Secret Service. Myers's original story was thus that, although the U.S. military command was aware that hijacked planes were being used in suicide attacks, and although it became known at around 8:55 a.m. that one of these hijacked planes (AA 77) was headed for Washington, still it took more than 45 minutes before a military plane was finally dispatched to cover Washington airspace.
This unlikely-sounding story was changed several days later. A timeline released by NORAD on Sept. 17 claimed that jet fighters had been dispatched to intercept the hijacked flights, two each from the NORAD bases at Otis AFB (Cape Cod) and Langley AFB (southern Virginia). NORAD claimed none of the military escorts reached the hijacked planes in time for an intercept. The NORAD timeline furthermore suggests that the Federal Aviation Administration was incredibly late in informing NORAD about the hijackings, despite the ongoing attacks. (The FAA has since reinforced its counter-claim that it informed NORAD via the open phone line at a much earlier point than specified in the NORAD timeline.) But even taking the NORAD timeline at face value, the military jets that took off from Otis and Langley would have had to be travelling at extremely low speeds to fail entirely in their mission of at least intercepting one of the first three errant passenger planes (the ones that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon).
Furthermore, NORAD failed to dispatch any jets from other air force bases that were much closer to the action, such as Andrews AFB, 10 miles from the Pentagon, later claiming that no jets at these bases were prepared for immediate scrambling. However, the Andrews AFB website had claimed (until it was changed on Sept. 12) that the fighters stationed there were combat ready. And given the many air force and air national guard bases along the East Coast, weren't there any jets already on routine training flights and therefore available for immediate use in interception?
Making the official story even unlikelier is that on the morning of Sept. 11, NORAD was coincidentally conducting its semi-annual readiness exercise, known as Vigilant Guardian. As Paul Thompson writes:
NORAD has claimed that on Sept. 11, no more than 14 planes at 7 bases were ready for use in interception missions across the entire continental United States. This number had been scaled back during 2001 - very curious in light of the high-level warnings during that same period that al-Qaeda was planning to hijack planes in the U.S., and the specific preparations during the same period (such as the NRO and Pentagon MASCAL excercises) for the contingency that a hijacked plane might be used as a weapon against government buildings.
Again, the lack of response is most stunning in the case of the Pentagon crash, which occurred a full 37 minutes after the second WTC crash had revealed to the entire world that "America is under attack." How could the U.S. Air Force fail to put up any planes to protect Washington air space, despite this ample advance warning time? Was an order issued to prevent interceptions that should have occurred?
Why did U.S. air defenses fail so dismally to carry out standard operating procedures on Sept. 11, despite NORAD reportedly being on its highest alert status, thanks to the "Vigilant Guardian" exercise? What was the scenario for Vigilant Guardian on the morning of Sept. 11? Was it related to any other simulations on that day?
Why were U.S. air defenses scaled back during the period before Sept. 11, at a time when hijackings were expected?
A failure of this scale and consequence would normally be the subject of multiple civilian and military investigations. Heads would roll. But the matter of the air defense failure is not covered in the report of the Congressional "joint inquiry" and was not considered in any open official investigation, until the Kean Commission finally took on the issue in a cautious and inconsequential manner at its hearings of May 22-23, 2003. When will these questions be addressed seriously in an investigation?
For a complete, fully sourced rendering of the above, including additional evidence that a "standdown order" suspending standard operating procedure may indeed have been issued on Sept. 11, see Paul Thompson's treatment: "The Failure to Defend the Skies on 9/11"
Air traffic controllers knew Flight AA 11 had been hijacked by 8:20 a.m. at the latest. By 8:46, when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, at least one and possibly two other hijackings were known to be underway. The Federal Aviation Administration had established an open line on the ongoing hijackings with the Secret Service, the White House, NORAD and the Pentagon. Yet George W. Bush, who started the day in Sarasota, Florida, later claimed he thought the first crash was due to pilot error! And this despite the warnings he had received since August of imminent hijackings in the United States. Did no one think to inform the President of what was really happening? Apparently not. After the first crash, Bush and his large entourage of staff and security did not react to the ongoing attacks. They instead continued driving to a Florida elementary school, arriving there shortly before 9 a.m. for a scheduled photo opportunity.
At 9:05 a.m., as Bush sat at the front of a class, listening to second-graders read, he was informed of the second World Trade Center crash (9:03 a.m.), in a three-second whispered message from his chief of staff Andy Card. Card later claimed to have said, "A second plane has hit the towers. America is under attack." One would expect anyone who was hearing the news of the attack for the first time, as Bush claims, to want to know more about it, let alone if he was the president of the United States. But instead of reacting - "excuse me children, the President is a busy man and has to go now" - Bush continued sitting in the same chair for at least five minutes, silently listening to the children read a story ("The Pet Goat") while video cameras recorded his inaction.
Didn't Bush have anything more important to do? Wasn't he curious about America being under attack? Why did the entourage not evacuate the school, although everyone in Florida could follow Bush's visit there live on television? With "America under attack," did they not fear that the president himself might be a target? Is this really the commander-in-chief of the same government that has been preparing to react within minutes to any news of a surprise attack, ever since the nuclear age began?
Incredibly, Bush and his entourage were still in the school at 9:32 a.m., 45 minutes after the first WTC crash, 27 minutes after the second crash, and 10 minutes before the Pentagon was hit. This was when Bush delivered his first statement on the attacks, live on national television, from the school. Then, finally, his entourage left Booker Elementary for Air Force One. Only then, when the attacks were essentially over, did they suddenly begin to react as though the president might be a target. (Later they reported a story of a mysterious threat to Air Force One, and still later retracted it as a fabrication.) Only then, after it was too late to affect anything about the attacks, did they embark on the series of emergency flights to Nebraska.
Donald Rumsfeld, on hearing of the two World Trade Center attacks, remained in a meeting with congressional representatives at his office, saying he had a few phone calls to make. His generals finally had to have him tracked down and brought to the war room, after the attack on the Pentagon. General Myers, acting chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, saw the first attack on television and then went into a meeting with Senator Max Cleland, from which he emerged only after the Pentagon was hit. In an unintentionally comic touch, Myers later reported the topic of their discussion had been the growing terrorist threat.
Why did the top three men in the U.S. military chain of command show such reluctance to do anything during the decisive first phase of the attack? Why was Bush still at his meaningless school visit at 9:32 a.m., 1 hour and 10 minutes after the first hijacking became known to U.S. authorities, 46 minutes after the first crash, and 27 minutes after the second crash?
On the curious behavior of George W. Bush and other top officials on Sept. 11, see Paul Thompson's fully documented account in "An Interesting Day," and the Killtown "Bush at the school" page. For video footage of the President learning about the second attack and then turning back to "The Pet Goat," see also www.thememoryhole.org/911/bush-911.htm.
The following is a sampling:
British intelligence agency MI6 warned the U.S. about al-Qaeda plans to crash hijacked planes into buildings two years before the Sept. 11 attacks (Sydney Morning Herald, June 10, 2002). Britain gave President Bush a categorical warning to expect multiple airline hijackings by the al-Qaeda network a month before the September 11 attacks. The paper that broke this story says U.S. officials admitted the British warning was in George Bush's Presidential Daily Briefing of Aug. 6, 2001 (Sunday Herald, May 19, 2002).
The Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, warned FBI and CIA officials in August 2001 that as many as 200 terrorists were slipping into the United States and planning "a major assault." (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 20, 2001). The Mossad passed a list of 19 names of suspected terrorists to the CIA on Aug. 23, 2001, including the names of at least four of the later alleged hijackers: Mohammed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and the Alhazmi/Almidhar pair (DIE ZEIT, 41/2002). Near the end of August, France also gave a warning that was an "echo" of Israel's (Fox News, May 17, 2002).
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that he warned the U.S. of an attack 12 days before Sept. 11, based on information gained from Egyptian intelligence penetration of the Bin Laden network (Associated Press, Dec. 7, 2001). In the summer of 2001, Jordan and Morrocco, both of which also claimed to have penetrated bin Laden's network, advised U.S. and allied intelligence that al-Qaeda operatives planned major airborne terrorist operations in the continental United States (John Cooley, International Herald Tribune, May 21, 2002, Agence France Presse, Nov. 22, 2001).
Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly stated that he ordered his intelligence agencies to alert the US in the summer of 2001 that suicide pilots were training for attacks on US targets (Fox News, May 17, 2002). The Russians warned the U.S. of imminent skyjacking attacks about two weeks before Sept. 11 (Izvestia, Sept. 12, 2001). German intelligence sources reported that, starting six months in advance of Sept. 11, Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies received warnings, through the Echelon intelligence network linking several Western allies, of a plot to hijack commercial aircraft and use them as weapons against important targets (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Sept. 11, 2001).
Weeks before Sept. 11, a high official in the Taliban foreign ministry, fearing the wrath of the United States if Afghanistan were blamed for a terror attack, traveled to Pakistan to warn U.S. embassy personnel that Bin Laden was planning a major hostile action in the United States (London Observer, Sept. 7, 2002).
For links to more primary sources on the above, see "They Tried to Warn Us" by Paul Thompson.
Given the secrecy prevalent in the intelligence world, if this much has already seeped through to the press - specifying warnings from more than a half-dozen different countries - how many other warnings were there? How could the American authorities fail to notice so many high-level warnings from U.S. allies? And what does this indicate about the al-Qaeda network's ability to keep secrets? How is it possible that a complex plot could be penetrated in so many different ways by so many different intelligence agencies, and yet still be carried off with success?
In March 2001, Russia provided the U.S. and the United Nations with highly specific information on the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden and on the locations of 55 al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, as well as with the names of 31 Pakistani officers the Russians claimed were integrated into the Taliban and al-Qaeda command structure (Jane's Intelligence Digest, Oct. 5, 2001).
Why wasn't the Russian information used to pressure Pakistan to shut down its internal Bin Laden network?
French intelligence sources cited by Swiss reporter Richard Labeviere claimed that Bin Laden flew to Dubai on July 4, 2001, where he spent 10 days for kidney treatments at the American Hospital there, and where he was visited by the CIA Dubai station chief on the last day (French radio RTE and Le Figaro, Oct. 30, 2001). The French say that in the ensuing discussion, Bin Laden himself warned that a big attack was coming, and that this bizarre collusion among enemies was in keeping with a "peculiar American policy." Bin Laden was then allowed to fly back out of the friendly country of Dubai to Afghanistan. The CIA has categorically denied the entire story as a complete fabrication, whereas the respected conservative Parisian daily Le Figaro continues to stand by it.
The aforementioned Italian warning, that al-Qaeda might mount an aerial suicide attack against Bush at the Genoa Summit (July 20, 2001) was already circulating among press circles in early July 2001. News of the rumor was first published on July 3, 2001 by Jim Hatfield on the Internet magazine, Online Journal. In this article Hatfield, who had written about the youthful George W. Bush's alleged cocaine habit in his book Fortunate Son, became one of the first authors to bring up the matter of business connections between the Saudi Binladin and the Bush families. Hatfield also stated his personal hunch that the Genoa rumor originated with the CIA, and was disseminated via backdoor channels in an effort to bolster sympathy for Bush, whose popularity was sagging at the time. (Hatfield's sudden death two weeks later, on July 18, was proclaimed a suicide.)
After receiving an unspecified warning from the FBI, Attorney General John Ashcroft stopped flying by commercial plane, as is usual among cabinet members, and started hiring private jets (CBS, July 26th, 2001). A warning received on Sept. 10 caused "top Pentagon brass" to cancel their travel plans for the next day (Newsweek, Sept. 13, 2001 and Newsweek, Sept. 17, 2001). The night before the attacks, the Mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, received a warning from his "airport security" contacts not to fly to New York for a mayor's conference on Sept. 11 (San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 12, 2001). Writer Salman Rushdie, considered a primary target of Islamist terror, was barred from domestic flights already a week before Sept. 11.
Willy Brown and Salman Rushdie are prominent men, but there are presumably hundreds or thousands of insiders with even better connections. If the two of them are forthcoming about personal advisories just before the attacks, and if Newsweek reports that Pentagon generals were warned not to fly the day before the attacks, then this indicates a more widespread rumor. What were the sources of these apparent advance warnings? Were the people who received warnings more worthy of protection than the people in general public?
(COMING SOON: QUESTIONS ABOUT INSIDER TRADING)
Coming soon with items on the following: The "airlift" of Binladin family members out of the United States on Sept. 13, 2001. The Congressional rage at Rep. Nancy Pelosi's suggestion in Sept. 2001 that CIA-Bin Laden ties dating back to the 1970s were worthy of investigation. The crippling of the Sept. 11 investigation by the sudden arrival of the anthrax attacks in Oct. 2001. The resignation of the FBI's two top counterterror investigators in November, 2001. Cheney's Nov. 2001 revelation that a "Shadow Government" had been activated on Sept. 11. Cheney's and Bush's lobbying with Daschle not to go ahead with a 9/11 investigation in Jan. 2002. Cynthia McKinney's questioning of the official story in March 2002, and the outraged reaction it inspired. The FBI admission that they know nothing (Apr. 2002 speech by Mueller). The appointment and later resignation of CIA man Brit Snider to head the Congressional research team on 9/11. The intimidation of the Congressional inquiry by the White House and FBI. Further stonewalling before the appointment of an independent commission in November 2002. The incredible attempt to appoint Henry Kissinger to lead the independent commission. The publication of the Congressional report after many delays. The censorship of the report. A revealing statement by the dissenting members of the Congressional joint inquiry. Conflicts of interest on the Kean Commission. White House wrestling with the Kean Commission, refusing to release evidence. The "reclassification" of evidence.
* independent panel approved the day after the Columbia tragedy.
** Kean commission, appointed under pressure from 9/11 families in Jan. 2002, after 19 months of active obstruction by White House and Bush's attempt to appoint Henry Kissinger as chairman. Commission members are currently challenging the Administration's attempt to "re-classify" already released documents. The White House has threatened to invoke "executive privilege."
EVIDENCE WE WANT TO SEE... has been placed here.