See something, say something
The Department of Homeland Security says this is a motto for patriots, which is what I’ve always tried to be. After a lot of looking, I’m saying something.
by James Hanson
August 19, 2010
I saw a large airplane crash into the South Tower, Building Two, of the World Trade Center—on television, live, at 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001. Knowing that a large aircraft had flown into the North Tower a few minutes earlier, it was obvious that both crashes were intentional. I said: “They’d better be on their toes in Washington.”
Later I learned that people in the Pentagon who had TV sets also said something, namely “We’re next.” And they were. In about half an hour, 125 of them were dead at their desks. They trusted their superiors, as patriots tend to do, and they got double-crossed.
Let me tell you the story.
Andrews Air Force Base is one minute away by fully armed and fueled F-16, five minutes more or less to get ready. At Langley Air Force Base north of Norfolk, VA the F-16s were ready to take off at 9:08. At full throttle—1500 mph-- they could be over the Pentagon in 10 minutes. The threat was said to be Flight 77, off radar at 8:56 and a few minutes after that picked up by FAA radar headed east toward Washington.
By 9:24 everyone on the official open line knew that the aircraft was identified and presumably headed for the Pentagon, the White House, or the Capitol. The NMCC (National Military Command Center), on the east side of the Pentagon, knew. The Secretary of Defense, on the floor above them, knew.
If the people in the Pentagon had been told to evacuate when Vice President Cheney was told that by the Secret Service, as were people in the Treasury Building next to the White House, or in the Executive Office Building on the other side, there would have been no one in the Pentagon’s offices vulnerable to attack by aircraft in the outer offices. In at least two cases, people came back from the restroom to find their fellow workers dead. No one was looking out the window to see what might be coming. Had anyone looked, they would only have had time to yell “duck!”
When Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta arrived at the White House before 9:15 he saw people rushing out of the White House and the Executive Office Building. When the second tower was hit; he had dropped everything to get to the White House. There had been no official order, evidently, but the word was out, probably because the Treasury Building had been ordered evacuated. The evacuations we saw on television, of the people coming out of the White House and the Capitol, were at 9:45 and 9:46, respectively, as a reaction to the approach of a fourth aircraft, United Flight 93.
The Pentagon was ordered evacuated after the 9:32 crash into its northwest side. It was the only one of the presumed targets where there was no evacuation ordered or notice given to occupants of the hazard in order to allow their escape.
The time of impact got changed.
Something flew out of the sky and struck the west side of the Pentagon, according to The New York Times in its first issue after 9/11, at “about 9:30 a.m.” The clock at the Pentagon heliport froze at 9:31:40, shown later on a Navy video. Multiple standard-issue battery-operated wall clocks inside the Pentagon froze showing times within a few seconds of 9:31:40.
Barbara Honegger details this. She tells of April Gallop and the watch still on her wrist when she arrived at the hospital, stopped at shortly after 9:30. This is in Honegger’s report in an appendix of Jim Marr’s 2006 book “The Terror Conspiracy.” It is an account that has no contradiction based on evidence as well substantiated as Honneger’s.
A different time was established as official, ultimately appearing in printed reports as 9:38. A 2007 Defense Department publication, “Pentagon 9/11,” by the Historical Office of the Office of Secretary of Defense, appears to support it with a photograph of a large wall clock, its minute hand at 9:36, under it a line quoting the 9/11 commission that the plane hit at 9:37 a.m. An explanation says that the clock was in Room 3E452 (third floor) near the “hinge” of the collapsed floors. The third and fourth floors were intact after the initial explosion and did not collapse for most of half an hour, so the clock wasn’t stopped by being struck by anything, even though the photo shows it on the floor. There were subsequent explosions, one photographed about twenty feet nearer the “hinge” than the first one.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its Freedom of Information Act response to Pilots for 9/11 Truth shows the impact time on the retrieved flight data recorder of American Airlines Flight 77 at 9:37:44. The NTSB cannot assure this to be the correct time, or even the genuine data recorder, as fact-finding beyond its function. The FBI furnishes an item, and the NTSB analyzes it.
A writer offering one credible explanation of motive for a time change is Peter Tiradera, a former U.S. Air Force officer, who in his 2006 book “9-11 Coup Against America / The Pentagon Analysis,” points out that the last claimed phone call from Barbara Olson, a passenger on American Flight 77 to her husband Solicitor General Theodore Olson, began at 9:30:34 and ended at 9:34:54, about three minutes after impact. Tiradera cites an FBI report on American Airlines Telephone Usage made nine days after the event.
One might guess that the authoritative stature of an FBI report so early triggered a hasty reaction to bring the time into compliance with the official story before it was too well cemented to be changed. It is an element to be borne in mind as one examines the whole. Did something else happen to arouse suspicion that could be salved by a time change?
A curious alteration
Another suspicious-looking change is one made a hundred days before the event, as if in anticipation of a future new need. This happened on June 1, the first day in office for Rumsfeld’s new executive agent with that responsibility. In a striking coincidence, the new language related only to hijacked airplanes, a subject shortly to become the most prominent mental image in the world’s attention.
The amendment was to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction J-3 CJCSI 3610.01A and related provisions, adding a requirement that when a hijacked airplane is involved, before NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) sends a fighter up to investigate, it must be approved by the Secretary of Defense. Prior to the amendment, if a commercial or private airplane quit communicating with the tower, or radar showed it to be on the wrong course or altitude, an FAA flight controller could call NORAD and ask that an Air National Guard fighter be sent up to check it out, and it was immediately scrambled from a “ready” base. This was a routine matter, an event occurring on average more than once a month as it did in the year prior to the 9/11 attack. The practice would apply equally to a hijacking, because the fighter pilot, close enough to see faces, could confirm hijacking as the reason for strange behavior and have his NORAD aircraft in a position where it could play an early role in the solution. This method had served air traffic successfully since its establishment in 1950.
When the flight controller calls NORAD, the June 1 change requires that instead of sending a fighter airplane, if the airplane is thought to be hijacked the officer on duty must first call the NMCC at the Pentagon. The NMCC must contact an “alert” base to determine whether it has aircraft available, then forward the request to the Secretary of Defense for his approval. If the Secretary or his assigned substitute is not available, or if for any reason the Secretary of Defense does not see the urgency of investigating a hijacked airplane in a particular case, no plane goes up to check. It is a rule that seems designed to restrain someone from acting rashly. The main thing it did that the original version did not do, was to get Secretary Rumsfeld involved in any case where a hijacking was suspected. The question is not about shooting an airplane down. That would require additional special permission.
The effect of this new provision is like requiring approval of the mayor to allow fire trucks to go to a fire that is thought to have been set by arson. If it was intended to slow the process, it worked. Flight 93 was the only hijacked airplane reached by a fighter in time, one that did not come from a regular NORAD alert base. If it was brought down by heroic passengers as per the TV dramatizations, then none were shot down that day.
Rumsfeld’s behavior on 9/11 was acclaimed by supporters who found his reaction selflessly heroic when he left his desk for half an hour after the crash to help move survivors at the Pentagon, leaving him out of communication when the fourth hijacked aircraft, Flight 93, was identified en route toward Washington. The following is from “The Pentagon,” a 2007 book by Steve Vogel that is friendly to the Defense Department:
“Rumsfeld’s instinctive rush to the scene was courageous, an inspiring act for Pentagon employees at a dark hour. Vice President Cheney later said the act remade Rumsfeld in the eyes of the military. But it also took the secretary out of the chain of command while critical decisions were being made about shooting down passenger jets to prevent further terrorist strikes.” (p.440)
Secret Service front and center
Andrews is not one of the seven alert sites in the responsibility of NORAD, but acts under orders of the Secret Service with authority of the president. Langley Air Force Base, 180 miles to the south near Norfolk, the NORAD base nearest the White House, was on 24-hour call to launch F-16s at top speed if necessary to arrive at Washington in less than 15 minutes after a call by NORAD. The most common “ready” fighter, it can do 1500 miles per hour in the thin air of high altitude--25 miles a minute. Alerted by NORAD, Langley had F-16s ready for take-off by 9:08, at full speed to arrive at about 9:18, but for “some reason” they did not take off until 9:24, and with no instruction to fly to Washington flew east over the Atlantic Ocean, the pilots thinking they were being called to confront the Russians. Even when called back they did not fly at supersonic speed.
It was only a guess as to whether the incoming aircraft was intent upon striking the Pentagon, the White House, or the Capitol as the most likely target, each a few seconds apart in flying time. Involvement of the White House in this group made these targets defensible even without the tardy F-16s. This authority was clarified in the White House Security Review during the Clinton administration after a private pilot in 1994, drunk and on drugs, crashed a stolen two-person Cessna 150 into the south wall of the Executive Mansion. The Review advised that “immediate operational command and control (of the White House and grounds) be assumed by the Secret Service” to improve the essential prompt response to any attack.
That Cheney appeared to be in charge at Washington, with Bush away, caused all to defer to him. However, this authority could only be based on instructions given him by the president, thus the president would be responsible for his actions only if they followed his instructions. The fact that the president is at some distance, even outside the country, is not sufficient, the only trigger for the VP’s use of presidential power being that the office has become vacant, as by death. Beyond that, he does not step into the president’s shoes other than by the president’s written declaration (or those of named officials) stating that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. (Amendment XXV) Without that, a particular action requires a particular request.
The White House sits in Area P (for Prohibited) 56 which adjoins Area P57 on the east at the Capitol, extending on the west to the Potomac River. It does not include the Pentagon. However, there is an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) extending 50 miles out from the Washington Monument (virtually same for the White House) to allow time for a defensive reaction from Andrews “scramble-ready” fighters to check on airplanes not on scheduled routes. This is enough time to head off small commercial or private aircraft—with a plane approaching at 200 mph a fighter would have 15 minutes to intercept the aircraft, easy for an Andrews fighter, one minute away at normal flying speed. At an incoming 300 mph it would have 10 minutes, 400 mph 8.6 minutes—still time if the scrambling process didn’t take too long. That day there were no planes fueled and armed there, as was once assumed unthinkable—like a fire department with no trucks ready to drive out the door. Not a fire department for some ordinary neighborhood; a fire department for the center of government of the United States of America.
The Secret Service, organized early in U.S. history to deal with counterfeiting, on 9/11 was still an agency of the Treasury Department, with an operational headquarters at the White House. (In 2003 it was placed under the Department of Homeland Security.) It is a multi-purpose police agency of 6,000-some employees with offices in more than a hundred places in the United States and beyond. When the second tower was struck at 9:03 a.m. and all involved officially concluded that it was a terrorist attack, it was the Secret Service which took the initiative to “forcibly” remove Vice President Cheney from his West Wing office to the underground bunker beneath the East Wing known at the Presidential Emergency Operating Center (PEOC). There he would be in contact with NORAD, the FAA, the NMCC, the DOD, and most importantly, the Secret Service, which would be responsible for firing missiles at intruding aircraft, or ordering up Blackhawk helicopters kept by the Customs Service.
The President extraneous
Despite the forceful way the husky men had picked him almost off his feet to get him downstairs (his report), the Secret Service did not assume authority to override orders of the President or, in the case of Dick Cheney, the Vice President. Cheney is such a forceful speaker that after one early TV appearance where they both spoke, Bush avoided ever again being diminished by a side-by-side contrast in their platform delivery. Bush had assumed that Air Force One would return him to Washington from Florida and with Washington awaiting another attack, the President was flown in circles until a telephone call from Cheney, with concurrence of the Secret Service, turned him toward safety in the underground command center at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska.
While the Secret Service men at the White House properly took alarm at the second World Trade Center crash as signaling a terrorist attack upon the United States, especially since they had known for some minutes that the first plane had been hijacked prior to its crash into Tower One, a Marine outside the school at Sarasota also reacted in a proper military manner, running in to shout that it was time to go. The Secret Service calmed him, standing by as President Bush finished his conversation with the second-grade students, in a few minutes coming out to talk to Cheney on the secure phone, then writing some notes on a yellow pad from which he would speak in a televised presentation at 9:30. This talk lasted about a minute. The Secret Service in Washington was aware by then of the approach of Flight 77 in the direction of the White House. They, and the occupants of the PEOC, had the communication connections to know that NORAD by 9:24 had identified the plane heading toward Washington as the hijacked Flight 77 clearly intent on smashing something to make a point.
Bush had finished his announcement to the American people when the party got word that the Pentagon had been hit. They rushed to their vehicles and sped at 80 miles per hour, armed guards with rifles at the ready, to Air Force One resting on the tarmac at the Sarasota airport.
Newspapers reported that the night before, the Secret Service had SAM missiles on the roof of the motel where the presidential party stayed on Longboat Key. This frantic move to Air Force One ostensibly for the safety of the President of the United States seems ill-advised, unless he had decided it worth the risk to himself and his staff, his guests, and the media people to get him back to the White House to be in control. The school appearance was well-publicized, its purpose being publicity, and Air Force One was a great white X-marks-the-spot in the bright sun on a very clear day, visible for 30 miles or more from the air. If hijackers had boarded a Boeing 757 at Miami International Airport they could be smashing either the school or Air Force One in half an hour after take-off from Miami. As a planning matter for terrorists, though, it would not have been worth the effort--better targets beyond Washington would be San Francisco and Los Angeles. But did the Secret Service have that all figured out less than an hour after the first tower was hit, despite everyone’s supposed lack of knowledge of the extent of an expected major terrorist attack as ten unidentified airliners remained in the sky? The Sarasota party seemed to be stalling in order to meet a television break.
Then, despite counterterrorism chief Dick Clarke’s prompt request to the Secret Service that the Presidential party be provided air cover, they flew for an hour with no escort. A “60 Minutes” video later showed the president saying he looked out at the fighters off either wing and felt confident of his safety, failing to note that they had arrived only for the last part of the trip to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
If the Secret Service was that confident, they didn’t share it with the press people who were aboard, being told that the pilot had received a message saying that “Angel,” the secret code name for Air Force One, would be brought down, whereupon Angel’s pilot turned the nose up and stepped on the gas, throwing people back in their seats. These people were admittedly scared, as were mothers of school children in Sarasota. The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported a number of them hurrying to bring their children home from school—any school.
Terrorist threat condition normal
At the Pentagon, the Defense Protective Service (DPS) had the responsibility for security and law enforcement, with 250 armed officers who guarded, patrolled, and looked out for the security of the Pentagon and its personnel, counterterrorism specifically in the forefront. Theirs was the duty to set off the evacuation alarm, with which occupants of the Pentagon were familiar and upon which they felt they could rely. (Description of the DPS activity is from the DOD’s “Pentagon 9/11.”) I am aware of no report that anyone ran from the Pentagon as they did from the White House and the Executive Office Building prior to the crash.
Shortly after 8:46, DPS Chief John Jester had received a telephone call from Glenn Flood, public affairs specialist in the office of the Secretary of Defense, alerting him to the airplane crash into the north Trade Tower. Turning on his television, Jester saw the 9:03 crash into the South Tower, live. So did a number of employees in the Pentagon, quoted as saying “We’re next.” At a meeting in his office that morning, given news of the second crash, Secretary Rumsfeld told Congressman Christopher Cox, “Believe me, this isn’t over yet. There’s going to be another attack, and it could be us.”
When Lt. Michael Nesbitt, in the DPS Communications Center, called to ask Jester if he knew about these crashes, Jester told him to send a message to the Pentagon’s Real Estate and Facilities Directorate reassuring all that the Pentagon remained secure—terrorist threat condition normal, no present threat of terrorist activity.
Since he was the person one would inform of any threat to Pentagon security, and he had heard nothing from his security guards or anyone else that there might be a known threat from the air, he had no reason to declare any condition other than “no present threat.” He was not within the Secret Service circle.
At this time, Army Deputy Administrative Assistant Sandra Riley telephoned Jester, asking “What do we have in place to protect from an airplane?”
Jester could only reply: “Nothing.” This was to say that the Pentagon had no antiaircraft equipment on the ground--or that he knew of--since air defense was out of his hands. Jester’s only effective response would have been to order “evacuation and dispersal.” Even if he had the thought to do that, it would have been insubordinate.
That day there were no armed fighters available at Andrews. Four were away on a training exercise, those at the base off duty and unarmed. Even if they had been called at 9:03 when the terror threat was first “officially” recognized, it would have been too late to arm them. Called by the Secret Service after the Pentagon was hit, two unarmed fighters went up anyway, available for United Airlines Flight 93 coming from Ohio, two pilots later reporting their plan to ram the airliner while keeping one hand on the ejection seat handle.
Smoke had been billowing from the Pentagon for about ten minutes when the unarmed Andrews fighters met the assigned fighters arriving from Langley. Even without their wrong turn toward the ocean, they did not receive the NORAD order to take off in time. It was thought by the FAA controllers that their voluntary get-together right after 9/11 to discuss reasons for the confusion would clarify the overall problem of communication that day. They recorded it, but a supervisor had the recording destroyed.
The order still stands
At the White House, Cheney was in his office to see the south tower attack on television at 9:03. In an interview five days later with Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” he told Russert that over the next several minutes, starting to get organized and figure out what to do, “…my Secret Service agents came in and, under these circumstances, they just move. They don’t say ‘sir’ or ask politely. They came in and said, “Sir, we have to leave immediately, and grabbed me and …”
Russert: “Literally grabbed you and moved you?”
Cheney: “Yeah. And, you know, your feet touch the floor periodically. But they’re bigger than I am, and they hoisted me up and moved me very rapidly down the hallway, down some stairs, through some doors and down some more stairs into an underground facility under the White House and, as a matter of fact, it’s a corridor, locked at both ends, and they did that because they had received a report that an airplane was headed for the White House.”
One of Dick Cheney’s characteristics is that he often speaks carelessly—or, if that is not the correct diagnosis, he speaks for the situation before him, which is to say that facts are not his forte.
This is not the case with Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, chosen by presidents of both major parties for his integrity. He was about to leave for the White House when he received a call requesting his presence there. He entered the PEOC, according to his testimony before the 9/11 commission (seen on TV and in videos, not in the commission report), at about 9:20 a.m. on September 11. Responding to a question by 9/11 Commission Vice Chair Lee Hamilton, he said:
“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?’”
Beginning at 50 miles out, this would have been within the expected area of Secret Service responsibility. Asked how long this continued while he was there, Mineta replied “Probably about five or six minutes,” upon which Commissioner Timothy Roemer observed that would make it about 9:25 or 9:26.
The “orders” that still stand, given the situation, could only be orders to withhold action against the incoming plane, in that there was no subsequent action, such as firing of missiles, to support the opposite interpretation. This conversation did not refer to defense by F-16s, thus it was separate from any order of record by President Bush. Cheney would be referring, most likely, to Secret Service missiles available to defend the prohibited area, P56. The Pentagon once also had such missiles, inconspicuously placed, but the official statement at this time was that it had none. The Secret Service had the radar and missiles with the range to easily include the mile-distant Pentagon in its defense perimeter for the White House, and one needn’t picture them firing from the White House grounds.
The time for the incoming aircraft to travel from “50 miles out” to “10 miles out,” 40 miles, would be 6 minutes and 43 seconds based on NTSB evidence. (Computation explained at end of paper.) This was presumably the distance to the White House, although it would work with little difference for the Pentagon. The map in “Pentagon 9/11,” which is consistent with one furnished by the NTSB in 2002, depicts the course of the aircraft as beginning a turn to its right (south) precisely at this 10-mile spot, making a descending circle from 7,000 feet. Chris Stephenson, head flight controller at Reagan National Airport who was called by the Secret Service to inform him of the plane’s arrival (another account: he called them) said he saw it on the radarscope five miles to the west, then watched it descend until it disappeared behind a building that blocked his view. Reagan airport is about a mile southeast of the Pentagon, three miles south of the White House. As the plane circled, it well could have been thought to be descending and turning to align itself toward the White House, reachable in another seven seconds after passing the Pentagon, had it been high enough to clear the Pentagon’s five stories.
It took another 4 minutes and 44 seconds to get from the 10-miles-out point to make its circling descent to impact at approximately 9:31.40. Turning the clock back from this time of impact to the “50-miles-out” point would total 11 minutes and 27 seconds, the resulting time 9:20:13. Mineta must have arrived in the PEOC before that by some seconds or more, in order to hear the 50-miles-out announcement, but his estimate of arrival at 9:20 is within reason, as is the “9:25 or 9:26” estimate offered by commissioner Roemer which would mark the time of Cheney’s reply: “Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?” At that moment, 4:44 before impact, the time would have been 9:26:56.
This puts Cheney in the PEOC in accord with his story of being lifted off his feet by the Secret Service men, their action credibly based on the news of the South Tower attack as confirmed by a White House photographer, W.H. Bohrer, then present in Cheney’s office. The “official” time of impact (using NTSB’s 9:37:44) would require that Mineta and Roemer be in error by at least six minutes. When Mineta said what he did, he was giving testimony at a hearing. It was spoken, and remarked upon, carefully.
No one with official responsibility for defense against air attack had any claim to ignorance of an approaching aircraft, with Richard Clarke’s television circuit and the ready telephone access both available before 9:15, according to Clarke. The FAA had set up a “never-ending telephone conference” right after the first tower was struck at 8:46:41 a.m., to which it added “phone bridges” to the Department of Defense, the Secret Service, and other agencies including the Air Force which immediately established contact with NORAD. Following several minutes of discussion as the aircraft was watched on radar, NORAD at 9:24 made formal notification that the watched aircraft was Flight 77, of “hijack status.” Cheney would have access to this information by telephone, as did Mineta, seated at the table with Cheney.
The separate source that the “young man” was talking to was most likely a Secret Service agent at the command post for the P56 missile defense, which had its own radar and line-of-sight location(s), all classified. Defense by F-16s was out of the question for at least another fifteen minutes due to their lateness—although not the helicopter seen rounding the north side of the Pentagon as the suspected Flight 77 came in, logically a Customs Blackhawk on call by the Secret Service, capable of downing a large aircraft with a Hellfire missile. Known for its accuracy and destructive power, the Hellfire was used mostly air-to-ground designed to be effective against tanks, but an air-to-air example of the missile’s air-to-air competence was provided on May 24 of that year when a civilian Cessna 152 “of uncertain intentions” was about to enter Israeli air space from Lebanon. Hit by a Hellfire dispatched from an Israeli Air Force helicopter, it was said to have completely disintegrated upon impact.
At the 10-miles-out point the incoming aircraft was still at 7,000 feet, but even as the words were being spoken to the young man, the NTSB flight-recorder data shows it beginning to turn southward in a descending arc, heading away from the city. A consideration could be that downing an airliner above the city of Washington, D.C., the complex of top-level government buildings directly on course, could have caused more death and destruction than striking the Pentagon. Almost at the moment it turned, however, the odds of causing casualties on the ground would be greatly lessened. As the 10-mile point was called out, the Secret Service would have had over four minutes to take the target out of the sky. The helicopter that was seen would have been sent up to be in position for a firing order.
The safest building in the world
At the Pentagon, Jester did what he could to beef up surface security—patrols outside the buildings and stricter security checks at entry points. He directed Deputy Chief John Pugrud to notify the DPS Communications Center to raise the Force Protection Condition to Alpha, meaning a general threat of terrorist activity existed which required enhanced security. Pugrud had the phone in his hand dialing the Center when he heard the explosion. Jester ordered evacuation, and proceeded with rescue efforts.
In the Intelligence Plot Center of the Navy Command Center on the Pentagon’s 1st Floor, Lt. Commander Charles Capets was visiting from the 5th Floor when the Watch Officer there received information that a hijacked aircraft was headed toward Washington. As he picked up a phone to call his boss he was flung to the floor by the shock wave.
The Army took the main hit, with the most casualties, at the point of the explosion where a torrent of wreckage ripped through the 1st Floor. Of 28 personnel in the Program and Budget Division, 25 were killed, two of the survivors having gone to the restroom. Of 12 in Managerial Accounting, nine died. On the 2nd Floor Lt. General Timothy Maude, of the Office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, was meeting with eight members of his staff at the main point of impact. All were killed.
Next behind the Army offices on the 1st Floor was the newly-located Navy Command Center which tracked movements of U.S. Navy vessels and aircraft throughout the world, plus international events of significance, informing the chief of naval operations and other senior Navy leaders of important developments. Most of the occupants of the Center were killed or injured. A commander, one of four seated at desks together, told of stepping away from his desk briefly, returning to find the other three commanders dead. The Navy lost 42 military and civilian personnel.
Next in line of the crash, on the 1st Floor of C Ring, was the Defense Intelligence Agency, which lost seven. All told, there were 125 deaths in the Pentagon, later memorialized by individual stone benches on the Pentagon grounds over which the plane came in, to which were added the 44 passengers and crew of United Flight 77.
The Wedge 1 renovation, begun in 1998, was essentially finished by 9/11, the contract for Wedge 2 about to be signed. Occupants had begun returning for the previous six months at the rate of 150 people per week, approaching 4,000 in all. The ill-fated Navy Command Center had been occupied only since August 15, all new for this group--27 days. In their old quarters on the 4th floor they would have escaped the slaughter. All but two of the Pentagon dead were in offices on the 1st and 2nd floors.
Until the instant of the clock-stopping explosion that took out walls and sent computers and desks flying, along with their operators, the mood at the Pentagon generally was quite normal, albeit with a sense of wondering if there was to be more destruction after the Twin Towers. Vogel paints this picture:
“In the Building Operations Center, assistant building manager Steve Carter watched on television as the second plane flew into the South Tower. “That’s not an accident,” he told his assistant, Cathy Greenwalt. “We have an event going.” He ordered an immediate lockdown of all mechanical and electrical rooms in the building. At the same time, John Jester, chief of the Pentagon police force, raised the building’s security posture one level from normal to alpha, which meant spot checks of vehicles and additional outside patrols. The NMCC learned at 9:31 a.m. that a hijacked airplane was reported to be Washington-bound. (Ed: They learned it well before 9:31.) But no steps were taken to alert Pentagon employees or to evacuate the building.
“Despite the flurry of activity and the thousands of televisions and computers in the building, some in the Pentagon were entirely unaware of what was happening in the World Trade Center. In room 2E483, an Army conference room on the second floor in the newly renovated section, Colonel Phil McNair had been holed up with a dozen members of his staff since 9 a.m. The lively staff meeting, held every second Tuesday, was the day the low-key Texan cracked the whip on behalf of his boss, Army personnel chief Lieutenant General Timothy Maude, making sure projects were on schedule.
“In other offices, the news from New York caused a stir; if there were more attacks, the Pentagon was an obvious target. Workers in the Defense Intelligence Agency comptroller’s office in Room 1C535, across from the Navy Command Center, were uneasy. Office supervisor Paul Gonzales, a cheerful retired Navy commander, reassured his colleagues: ‘The Pentagon is probably the safest building in the world.’ By 9:30, most people had settled back to business.” (p.429)
It had to be assumed that a Boeing 757 supposedly commandeered by terrorists planned on doing some tremendous damage to some major symbol in Washington with the Pentagon first in line. Dulles Control had that figured, telephoning Fairfax Hospital, west of the Pentagon, to tell the staff their emergency services might be needed because an unidentified plane was heading in the direction of Washington.
Of the three principal P56 buildings, only the Treasury was officially ordered evacuated at word of the incoming Flight 77, as evidently was at least part of the Executive Office Building, its twin. The Secret Service, its home in the Department of the Treasury, did not need an order from the White House to act in consideration of the safety of its employees. When Secretary Mineta arrived at the White House he said there were people pouring out of the Executive Office Building and the White House, although I know of no order having been made. Congress, in area P57, seemed to assume there was no need to interrupt its work. Employees who still remained in the White House when the Pentagon was hit were ordered evacuated at 9:45, as was the Capitol at 9:46, providing a scene for television of Washington being warned and hurriedly evacuated, the women being advised to kick off their high-heeled shoes so that they could run faster. (This was the evacuation seen on TV.) The Vice President had been promptly evacuated. Dick Clarke ignored the hazard, next to the Situation Room, setting up a televised conference of heads of the federal offices most centrally involved in a national emergency.
In accounting for notices given and levels of awareness in various buildings in the hazard zone it was the general population of the Pentagon that was specially deprived of notice. This does not apply to the NMCC and the Secretary of Defense, on the east side of the building. In as good a position as any to know what was coming, they simply failed to tell their fellows in the rest of the Pentagon, whose route to safety turned out to be as simple as leaving for the toilet.
With Cheney in the PEOC, when Mineta arrived at the White House he spoke with Clarke for four or five minutes, then on Clarke’s advice went to join Cheney, seated at the big conference table which had phones all along it. Mineta took a phone to keep open to his office and another to the FAA, which kept him current on the location of the plane, and the fact that there were seven to ten airplanes still unaccounted for from the airlines.
What was the order, the one still in force, that allowed the attack to be carried out? And who in fact made it?
Whoever did, with the information that was then known to be available, appears to have committed a monumental crime, even worse on its face than that of the person who advised the people in Tower Two to return to their offices, because that person appears to have been only ill-advised. When the second plane struck in New York City at 9:03 all became charged with the assumption that the United States was under attack.
The Vice President, without an order from the President, had no authority to order withholding defense of Area P56. The Secret Service had that authority, and surely the capability to take the best protective action. The Secret Service acts under authority of the President, who presumably could order defense withheld, if he had a good reason. Cheney is said to have spoken to Bush by secure telephone in the few minutes between his leaving the classroom and giving his speech. Bush had some time before his scheduled 9:30 TV spot during which he also wrote notes for his speech on a pad of paper. This was the only moment in which Cheney could have received an instruction from Bush prior to the Pentagon crash, given that he had no advance knowledge of the return of Flight 77, and no notice from NORAD until 9:24 that the incoming plane was the one that had been hijacked. It is possible that Bush, on the advice of Cheney, gave the no-shoot order to the Secret Service. It is also possible that Cheney asked Bush to give him the discretion to order the Secret Service not to fire, or simply to give the order, because Bush would not have had the understanding of the situation as clearly as Cheney.
We need to find out from the President what his instruction was to Cheney that required him to involve himself in a Secret Service activity otherwise unauthorized for a vice president. Note that it is also possible that Cheney had nothing to do with it other than pass information on to the young man, but this doesn’t excuse him. He didn’t need to be involved at all. Had he not been involved, the Secret Service would have known what to do. Did someone in authority place him in that position to cause confusion, and the short-term delay that would enable the Pentagon to be hit?
A vice president is President of the Senate, with a vote only to resolve ties. In practice, he is only called in when that function is needed. He has been given some minor offices by the Congress. And Congress has lent him a grand house to live in with his family. Other than that, Cheney could have stayed at home in Texas or Wyoming and not confuse the issues in which he so often became involved. Article XXV of the U.S. Constitution gives the vice president no executive power unless the president has resigned, is dead, or is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office by notice in a written declaration to the congressional leaders, which happened twice for brief periods when Bush was in the hospital.
On the other hand, the vice president is not required by law to follow the instructions of the president, as would be, for example, a cabinet secretary. Bush could not fire Cheney, or administer any official discipline. The actions of a vice president are personal gestures, with validity only if he was carrying out the specific request of the president.
“Is Dick Cheney Unconstitutional?” is the title of a 2007 Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee. He tells of Rep. Henry Waxman’s contention that Cheney was avoiding legally required scrutiny by the National Archives and Records Administration, to which Cheney’s office replied that as President of the Senate he was not a part of the executive branch, thus not subject to such regulation. Reynolds: “Such a reading, however, would render Cheney’s role within the Bush Administration, as well as the modern notion of Vice Presidents as junior versions of the commander-in-chief, unconstitutional.” Reynolds points out that the Constitution gives the Vice President no executive powers, and that the key to put the nature of the office in perspective is that the President can’t fire him—he would have to be impeached by Congress. Reynolds:
“The expansion of vice presidential power … obscures a key point. Whatever executive power a Vice President exercises is exercised because it is delegated by the President, not because the Vice President possesses any executive power already. The Vesting Clause of Article II vests all the executive power in the President, with no residuum left over for anyone else. Constitutionally speaking, the Vice President is not a junior or co-President, but merely a President-in-waiting, notwithstanding recent political trends otherwise.”
At the time he wrote, Reynolds saw no cases then in the pipeline and it was not clear who would bring such an action. I would suggest that the issue of the non-order begin with a grand jury examining a criminal charge. If Cheney inserted himself in the process without authority, acting as the operative factor in causing damage that he should have understood would be very likely to occur, he could be charged with murder or negligent homicide. Unless he can show that he received that authority from someone who had it, and the person was permitted by law to delegate it, he would not have official immunity because he was simply an interloper.
One of the first subpoenas would be to George W. Bush. Nothing extensive. Just ask: “Did you tell Cheney to do this?”
If he says he did not, we give Cheney his chance to explain his role to a grand jury.
Authority from an apparition in the heavens?
It is possible that despite his snarling self-confidence Cheney had been assigned a role one might describe as “a patsy.” Concentrating on Cheney as the pivot man in the horror, to be honorable we must give him the benefit of the assassination conspiracy rule: each man is given only the information necessary for his role in the plan. As we scrutinize the personalities and times in the depths of the White House sub-basement, we do not notice the apparition in the sky thousands of feet above. Newly arrived from the north is the world’s most sophisticated electronics warfare plane, circling, listening to everything and quite possibly interjecting its power into our crisis far below. It is an E-4B “doomsday plane,” a mobile command, control and communications center designed to be able to communicate on any line anywhere in the world in emergency conditions such as a those caused by nuclear warfare.
Silence by the government agencies and the media normally has been the clue to some hidden embarrassment of high-level government officials. All agencies involved deny knowing about presence of the doomsday plane. The aircraft itself appears in photographs and videos made that day, at first unrecognized for what it was: a modified Boeing 747-400, identifiable by its bright white paint job and its silhouette in photographs made that day. STRATCOM has four of them at Offut Air Force Base, three of which were engaged in one of the coincidental exercises occurring on 9/11, called off at 9:03 when the second tower was hit. We know that much officially.
From this beginning, it appears that this plane cruised down to Washington to see what was going on. Right? Given its extraordinary capabilities it probably contained the best-informed person or group of people anywhere concerning the current status of the expected aircraft and the aerial defense of Washington. It could have heard what Cheney was hearing and saying on the PEOC telephones, and what he had been told, possibly telling him what to do. It is designed for that, anywhere in the world. The question arises as to the authority of the person giving him an order, or giving an order to someone in effective control of the missiles—to which Cheney may only have reacted in order to prevent misinterpretation of an order. It took someone with the aura of proper authority to prevent those loyal Secret Service men from doing their most important job.
John King of CNN, in Lafayette Park, said that the Secret Service at the White House was very concerned, pointing up at the large white jet overhead. As the plane circled, witnesses said, a large plume of black smoke arose from the Pentagon. (Mark Gaffney, “The 911 Mystery Plane” at http://www.Rense.com/general76/missing.htm.) The plane may have been as high as 10,000 feet, judging from photographs. With its equipment, at its height, it could have observed the incoming plane situation from well before the time of the 50-miles-out mark.
If this aircraft was the military’s most advanced electronics platform as it has been described, it also could have been capable of controlling another aircraft which had electronic controls, thus possibly the one that struck the Pentagon, if there was some last-minute control that was required. (The E-4B should not be confused with the C-130 which was also in the sky nearby at about this time.)
Adding to the suspicious nature of the presence of this aircraft at a most coincidental moment is that “Global Guardian,” the annual exercise in which the plane was participating before it flew to Washington, was routinely held in October or November each year, the date changed only for this one year to begin the week before the 9/11 attacks.
Mineta the witness
In contrast to all this slippery-slithery fact situation, Norman Mineta’s presence is like that of a surveyor’s stake. One of his good credentials is that his testimony was considered unsafe for inclusion in the 9/11 commission report, probably considered extraneous, consistent with the commission’s interpretation of its duties as not to make findings of guilt.
Mineta has a larger reputation than his humble presence would indicate. When he was a boy, he and his family were placed in detention under President Roosevelt’s order that all persons of Japanese descent be removed from California. His father had come from Japan as a boy and by the time of World War II had developed a successful insurance business. This was taken from him as was the family home. After the war Norman became a member of the City Council of San Jose, then mayor. He was a Democratic congressman from California for 20 years. Named Secretary of Commerce by Bill Clinton, with the election of George W. Bush in 2000 he had a reputation for knowledge, ability and integrity such that Bush asked him to be his Transportation Secretary. It was not easy for him to accept. He contacted a hundred Democrats to ask if being on the Bush cabinet would diminish him as a Democrat. Assured by them, and especially by Clinton that he would “give him cover,” he accepted. (2006 Academy of Achievement interview at www.achievement.org.)
Given the job of selecting a vice president for George W. Bush, Cheney had selected himself. The person who had first called Mineta to ask that he take the job, on December 29, 2000, was Dick Cheney.
Bush and Cheney were not on good terms when they parted at the end of their joint presidency, evidently caused by Bush’s refusal to pardon Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, before the deadline as his presidency ended. That was not typical of the Bush/Cheney relationship. I thought to call it a “Siamese Twin” presidency, but there is a wicked quality to Cheney’s personality more like that of the homunculus in Edgar Allan Poe’s story in which a lump under the coat of the principal character grows to develop a head and arms, finally with enough strength to throttle its host. A year and a half out of the vice-presidency, disconnected, Bush’s homunculus is flailing.
It is a federal sin these days to aid a terrorist. The problem is that, as we have seen in the Times Square case, terrorists can look like perfectly normal American citizens. This is not to say that Dick Cheney looks like a normal American citizen, but he has a protective coating that he does not deserve, namely that he has been a high-ranking federal office-holder whose impeachment did not happen because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inexplicably killed it in the womb. However, if we see that he is the one who appears to have committed a terrorist act that caused great death and damage, it is required of us, when we see something, to say something. I would consider it a federal sin not to do so.
How I computed 9:20:13 as the time Mineta arrived in the PEOC:
I had no idea how this number would come out. I thought it might prove me wrong. Pilots for 9/11 Truth through a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Transportation Safety Board made several DVD’s containing data from the black boxes for Flights 77 and 93 in the form of a pilot ’s view of his basic instruments and a yellow rail representing the course of the flight ahead. The rail is supported by vertical lines resting on a field of squares, the vertical lines to show change in altitude and the squares to show change in course.
Course is viewed more precisely by a compass on the instrument panel, and altitude by an altimeter, in a column of instruments that includes air speed in knots and an artificial horizon. All action of the yoke is communicated by a moving representation of a yoke, below which is a scale showing rudder movement. An indicator shows three on-or-off positions for automatic pilot, another shows power level of each engine.
Also shown is a digital time display including seconds. Presumably all these indicators create a depiction of the flight data record in the black box as found at the crash site in each case, but the NTSB does not attest to that, only that the FBI brought the flight data recorder and requested the examination. The FBI says nothing.
The computation requires one to translate knots into miles per hour (knots multiplied by 1.15), the goal being to measure the time that passed from “50 miles out” to impact, and although the NTSB version shows impact at the official time of 9:37:44 a.m., this does not bear on computing elapsed time from the 50-miles-out point.
I have used the mean between the speed at the beginning and the end of each minute of flight as the number to use for air mileage during that minute. In plotting the turning points on a map, one has the compass to confirm direction of flight during each minute.
Ground speed is affected by wind speed and direction--a northwesterly wind at less than ten miles per hour that day in eastern Virginia--which I did not attempt to compute because of its variability in course and altitude and lack of information other than a general one at airport flight control locations. Overall, the effect on ground speed in this case should be a slight increase, the correction resulting in turning back the time of Mineta’s arrival in the PEOC (9:20:13) by some seconds.
Pilots for 9/11 Truth does not confirm that the black boxes came from Flights 77 and 93, essentially because of anomalies in altitude and speed. The elapsed-time numbers nonetheless represent the official position, thus establishing the structure in which we must ascertain the time of impact.
Recent National Issues Articles
A Year of fall and decline
December 28, 2010
2011: Year of resistance
December 22, 2010
Antiwar protest at White House
December 17, 2010
Transcending progressive discord
December 16, 2010
Robert C. Koehler
Richard Holbrooke's deathbed conversion
December 15, 2010
Obama wooing “Economic Royalists”
November 20, 2010
The Republican war on reality
October 29, 2010
Paul Rogat Loeb
Such is the peace process: Obama as a salesman
October 28, 2010
Rules of play
October 23, 2010
Robert C. Koehler
Leakers, Beware the Corporate Media
October 14, 2010
An open letter to Barack Obama
October 13, 2010
Stop the anonymous hit men: make shadowy campaign money the issue
October 12, 2010
Paul Rogat Loeb
Don't let the Russ Feingolds go down for the sins of the Blanche Lincolns
October 6, 2010
Paul Rogat Loeb
No, higher consciousness won’t save us
September 23, 2010
Triumph of the Money Party!!! Warren's role downgraded, reports to Geithner
September 16, 2010
Wall Street's Mercenaries Ride Donkeys
September 14, 2010
Right-wing Republicans vs. corporate Democrats vs. progressive populists
September 10, 2010
Five years and still drowning: The New Orleans CNN would never show you
August 25, 2010
See something, say something
August 19, 2010
An honest look at Obama's first year
August 9, 2010
Let's give country reason to celebrate
August 9, 2010
Rev. Jesse Jackson
Revenge of the weeds
July 15, 2010
Robert C. Koehler
Holding Psychologists accountable for Torture
July 8, 2010
Confronting rendition to torture in North Carolina
July 7, 2010
Clare Hanrahan, WarIsACrime.org
Witnessing against torture: Why we must act
June 23, 2010
Kathy Kelly, WarIsACrime.org
An easy way to dramatically change Congress
June 22, 2010
Ten suggestions for effective activism
June 18, 2010
Paul Rogat Loeb
Inauguration Day 2013
June 15, 2010
California's Prop. 14: A bad deal for democracy
June 6, 2010
The learning curve of peace
May 25, 2010
Robert C. Koehler
U.S. laws rated worst value per dollar
May 23, 2010
Getting smart about stupid communication
May 17, 2010
Chevron's "crude" attempt to suppress free speech
May 16, 2010
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Afghan escalation funding: More war, fewer jobs, poor excuses
May 11, 2010
Kagan in context: Shafting progressive values
May 10, 2010
12 fresh angles on the Gulf Coast oil spill, neatly packaged
May 3, 2010
Massey and Goldman under criminal investigation
May 1, 2010
50 years later the struggle continues
April 29, 2010
Iran a Threat? I Mean, Really?
April 27, 2010
Investigate the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
April 25, 2010
Dr. Suzanne Ross (917) 584-2135 • Pam Africa (215) 476-8812
A mad Tea Party
April 23, 2010
Helen Werner Cox and John Werner Cox
Journey of a citizen
April 22, 2010
Robert C. Koehler
Who let the Blue Dogs out?
April 21, 2010
Our national epidemic of violence
April 21, 2010
Tea Party and rail discussion
April 17, 2010
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
Mines have spurned safety for too long
April 16, 2010
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.
Kucinich on assassinations and upcoming war funding vote
April 16, 2010
Yeah, well you finally stopped getting mad
April 15, 2010
Peace activists extend an olive branch to the Tea Party to talk about war
April 14, 2010
Corporatocracy and its discontents
April 13, 2010
Our national epidemic of violence
April 13, 2010
How the corporations broke Ralph Nader and America, too
April 8, 2010
Citizens united against Citizens United
March 27, 2010
Frank Olson, Enemy Combatant
March 26, 2010
Lies, damn lies, and the media
March 23, 2010
United States Hypocrisy Knows No Rationale - take it to the UN
March 21, 2010
'Soul Of A Citizen' excerpt: taking money out of politics: a grassroots effort for clean elections
March 20, 2010
Paul Rogat Loeb
John Yoo: a president can nuke the United States
March 20, 2010
The GITMO distraction
March 18, 2010
Robert C. Koehler
How the Democrats can reclaim the youth vote
March 17, 2010
Paul Rogat Loeb
I'm Down With Dennis
March 15, 2010
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman on WCRS Radio
March 13, 2010
Dear Eric Holder: Try accused criminals in courts of law
March 11, 2010
The Robert Jackson Steering Committee
Jay Bybee questioned as prelude to prosecution
March 6, 2010
Whirlpool in Evansville
March 5, 2010
Jason Perlman, Communications Director, Ohio AFL-CIO
March 5, 2010
Robert C. Koehler
Does DOJ agree with Yoo on testicles, villages, and nukes?
February 27, 2010
Pre-partisan America, 1789-1801
February 25, 2010
Yoo, Bybee, and disinformation
February 21, 2010
Activists protest Dr. Larry James and torture at Wright State
February 9, 2010
Feb. 6 Statement by Leonard Peltier
February 7, 2010
Kvetcher in the Rye
February 5, 2010
On war, conformity, the Democratic Party and progressive possibilities
February 5, 2010
Top 10 problems with America assassinating Americans
February 5, 2010
Blocking war funding just got easier
February 4, 2010
Congressman Payne: I won't oppose war money because Obama's president
February 1, 2010
The source of corporate power
January 30, 2010
Robert C. Koehler
Fixing a bad Supreme Court decision
January 29, 2010
Joel S. Hirschhorn
Give to the Congress information of the State of the Union
January 29, 2010
Gone a week and you trash the country
January 28, 2010
Et Tu, ACLU?
January 27, 2010
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
PUBLIC INTEREST GROUPS CONDEMN SUPREME COURT'S RULING ON CORPORATE MONEY IN ELECTIONS
January 22, 2010
A fable for our time
January 15, 2010
Northwest Bomb Plot 'Oddities'
January 13, 2010
Good News: Will We Hear It?
January 11, 2010
Calling the bluff in the Conference Committee
January 11, 2010
Paul Rogat Loeb
January 7, 2010
Recommended new year's resolutions for all Americans
January 1, 2010
Are Presidents Afraid of the CIA?
January 1, 2010
Read National Issues Articles by Year:
2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000