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Profile: Federal Aviation Administration

 
  

Positions that Federal Aviation Administration has held:



 

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Federal Aviation Administration actively participated in the following events:

 
  

1998: Training Exercise Held at the White House, Based Around Militants Using a Plane as a Weapon      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke chairs a tabletop exercise at the White House, involving a scenario where anti-American militants fill a Learjet with explosives, and then fly it on a suicide mission toward a target in Washington, DC. Officials from the Pentagon, Secret Service, and FAA attend, and are asked how they would stop such a threat. Pentagon officials say they could launch fighters from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, but would need authorization from the president to shoot the plane down, and currently there is no system to do this. The 9/11 Commission later states: “There was no clear resolution of the problem at the exercise.” [Slate, 7/22/04; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, pp. 345 & 457-458]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Defense, Secret Service, Richard A. Clarke, Langley Air Force Base
          

Spring 1998: Experts Warn FAA of Potential Massive Kamikaze Attack      Complete 911 Timeline

       Three terrorism specialists present an analysis of security threats to FAA security officials. Their analysis describes two scenarios involving planes as weapons. In one, hijacked planes are flown into nuclear power plants along the East Coast. In the other, hijackers commandeer Federal Express cargo planes and simultaneously crash them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol, the Sears Tower, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Stephen Gale, one of the specialists, later says the analysis is based in part upon attempts that had been made in 1994 to crash airplanes in the Eiffel Tower and the White House (see September 11, 1994) (see December 24, 1994). Gale later recalls that one FAA official responds to the presentation by saying, “You can't protect yourself from meteorites.” [Washington Post, 5/19/02]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, Sears Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, Federal Aviation Administration, James L. Jones, World Trade Center, Eiffel Tower, Federal Express
          

August 1998: CIA Warns That Arab Militants Plan to Fly Bomb-Laden Plane From Libya into WTC      Complete 911 Timeline

       A foreign intelligence agency warns the FBI's New York office that Arab militants plan to fly a bomb-laden aircraft from Libya into the World Trade Center. The FBI and the FAA do not take the threat seriously because of the state of aviation in Libya. Later, other intelligence information connects this group to al-Qaeda. The CIA includes the same information in an intelligence report. [FBI Report, 6/9/05, pp 97-98; New York Times, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] An FBI spokesperson says the report “was not ignored, it was thoroughly investigated by numerous agencies” and found to be unrelated to al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B)] However, the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry comes to the conclusion that the group in fact did have ties to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Aviation Administration, al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, World Trade Center
          

October 8, 1998: FAA Warns of al-Qaeda Threat to US Civil Aviation      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA issues the first of three 1998 warnings to US airports and airlines urging a “high degree of vigilance” against threats to US civil aviation from al-Qaeda. It specifically warns against a possible terrorist hijacking “at a metropolitan airport in the Eastern United States.” The information is based on statements made by bin Laden and other Islamic leaders and intelligence information obtained after the US cruise missile attacks in August. All three warnings come in late 1998, well before 9/11. [Boston Globe, 5/26/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

April 24, 2000: Mohammed and Other Al-Qaeda Put on New Domestic 'No-Fly' List      Complete 911 Timeline

       TIPOFF is a US no-fly list of individuals who should be detained if they attempt to leave or enter the US. There are about 60,000 names on this list by 9/11 (see December 11, 1999). Apparently there had been no prohibition of travel inside the US, but on this day a FAA security directive puts six names on a newly created domestic no-fly list. All six are said to be associates of bomber Ramzi Yousef, including his uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. On August 28, 2001, six more names will be added to this list. Apparently all 12 names are associated with al-Qaeda or other Islamic extremist groups. 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey will later note the discrepancy of the 60,000-name list with the 12-name list and comment, “ seems to me, particularly with what was going on at the time, that some effort would have been made to make—to produce a larger list than [only 12 names].” [9/11 Commission, 1/27/04] On the day of 9/11, two of the 9/11 hijackers will be on the 60,000-name TIPOFF list but not the 12-name domestic list, so airport security does not know to stop them from boarding the planes they hijack that day (see August 23, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Yousef, TIPOFF, Bob Kerrey, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Federal Aviation Administration
          

April 27, 2000: FAA Advisory Warns of Increased Risk of Terrorist Hijacking      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA issues an advisory to airports and air carriers, setting forth its views on the hijacking threat. The advisory states that while conditions for hijackings of airliners had been less favorable in the 1980s and 1990s, “We believe that the situation has changed. We assess that the prospect for terrorist hijacking has increased and that US airliners could be targeted in an attempt to obtain the release of indicted or convicted terrorists imprisoned in the United States.” However, “the terrorist hijacking of a US airliner is more probable outside the United States due to access to safe havens.” [New York Times, 09/14/05; 9/11 Commission staff report, 8/26/04, p. 59]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

January-August 2001: Airlines Receive FAA Warnings, But Later Claim They Were Given No Real Hints of Possible Terrorist Attacks      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA gives 15 warnings to domestic airlines between January and August 2001, but about one general security warning a month had been common for a long time. [CNN, 5/17/02] Even a government official later calls the content of these 15 warnings “standard fare.” [Miami Herald, 5/17/02] As one newspaper later reports, “there were so many [warnings] that airline officials grew numb to them.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/23/02] In May 2002, in response to recent revelations about what was known before 9/11, the major airlines will hold a press conference claiming they were never warned of a specific hijacking threat, and were not told to tighten security. For instance, an American Airlines spokesman states that the airline “received no specific information from the US government advising the carrier of a potential terrorist hijacking in the United States in the months prior to September 11, 2001. American receives FAA security information bulletins periodically, but the bulletins were extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements.” [Miami Herald, 5/17/02] Bush administration officials later state that the terror information they are receiving is so vague that tighter security does not seem required. [Associated Press, 5/18/02] However, it seems that even these general warnings are never passed on to airline employees. Rosemary Dillard, a supervisor for American Airlines, states, “My job was supervision over all the flight attendants who flew out of National, Baltimore, or Dulles. In the summer of 2001, we had absolutely no warnings about any threats of hijackings or terrorism, from the airline or from the FAA.” [New York Observer, 6/17/04] The content of these seemingly harmless warnings remain classified after 9/11. They are said to be exempted from public disclosure by a federal statute that covers “information that would be detrimental to the security of transportation if disclosed.” [New York Observer, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, American Airlines, Federal Aviation Administration, Rosemary Dillard
          

March-May 2001: FAA Briefs Airports on Security; They Cite, Then Dismiss Possibility of Planes as Weapons      Complete 911 Timeline

       A series of top-secret security briefings are given to airport officials at the top 19 airports in the US. The airports warned include those at Boston, Washington, and Newark, which are eventually used by the hijackers. A 9/11 Commission Report on this later notes, “The briefings highlight the threat posed by terrorists in general and bin Laden in particular, including his threats against aviation. The renewed interest in hijacking by terrorist groups [is] also covered.” The briefings note that if “the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable.” But they also note that such a hijacking would be harder to carry out. Around the same time, the FAA distributes an unclassified CD-ROM presentation to airlines and airports. “The presentation cite[s] the possibility that terrorists might conduct suicide hijackings but state[s]: ‘Fortunately, we have no indication that any group is currently thinking in that direction.’ ” This briefing and presentation doesn't lead to any upgrade in security or improved passenger screening at the airports. Apparently, the information isn't widely shared with pilots, flight attendants, passenger screeners, and the like, and it doesn't lead to any specific FAA advisories or actions. [Newsday, 2/11/05; New York Times, 2/10/05; New Jersey Star-Ledger, 2/11/05] For instance, Dave Machett, a pilot who is president of the grassroots organization Airline Pilots Security Alliance, says that “Not one word” reached the pilots. “The flight crews were kept completely in the dark about this growing threat.” [Newsday, 2/11/05] 9/11 Commissioner Tim Roemer comments, “The FAA deserves to be raked over the coals for ignoring the warnings and being more concerned about reducing air traffic congestion than dealing with possible terrorist attacks.” [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 2/11/05]
People and organizations involved: Tim Roemer, Osama bin Laden, Dave Machett, 9/11 Commission Report, Federal Aviation Administration
          

April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001: Nearly Half of FAA's Daily Intelligence Summaries Mention bin Laden or Al-Qaeda; No Action is Taken      Complete 911 Timeline

       In 2005 (see February 10, 2005), it will be revealed that of the FAA's 105 daily intelligence summaries between these dates, 52 mention bin Laden, al-Qaeda, or both. Most of the mentions are “in regard to overseas threats.” None of the warnings specifically predict something similar to the 9/11 attacks, but five of them mention al-Qaeda's training for hijackings and two reports concern suicide operations unconnected to aviation. [Associated Press, 2/11/05] One of the warnings mentions air defense measures being taken in Genoa, Italy, for the July 2001 G-8 summit to protect from a possible air attack by terrorists. However, the New Jersey Star-Ledger is virtually the only newspaper in the US to report this fact. [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 2/11/05] Despite all these warnings, the FAA fails to take any extra security measures. They do not expand the use of in-flight air marshals or tighten airport screening for weapons. A proposed rule to improve passenger screening and other security measures ordered by Congress in 1996 has held up and is still not in effect by 9/11. The 9/11 Commission's report on these FAA warnings released in 2005 (see February 10, 2005) will conclude that FAA officials were more concerned with reducing airline congestion, lessening delays, and easing air carriers' financial problems than preventing a hijacking. [Associated Press, 2/11/05] The FAA also makes no effort to expand its list of terror suspects, which includes only a dozen names by 9/11. The former head of the FAA's civil aviation security branch later says he wasn't even aware of TIPOFF, the government's main watch list, which included the names of two 9/11 hijackers before 9/11. Nor is there any evidence that a senior FAA working group responsible for security ever meets in 2001 to discuss “the high threat period that summer.” [New York Times, 2/10/05]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, US Congress, al-Qaeda, Federal Aviation Administration, 9/11 Commission
          

April 18, 2001: FAA Warns Airlines About Middle Eastern Hijackers      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA sends a warning to US airlines that Middle Eastern militants could try to hijack or blow up a US plane and that carriers should “demonstrate a high degree of alertness.” The warning stems from the April 6, 2001, conviction of Ahmed Ressam over a failed plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. This warning expires on July 31, 2001. [Associated Press, 5/18/02] This is one of 15 general warnings issued to airlines in 2001 before 9/11 (see January-August 2001), but it is more specific than usual. [CNN, 3/02; CNN, 5/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Los Angeles International Airport, Federal Aviation Administration, Ahmed Ressam
          

May 1, 2001-September 11, 2001: FAA Briefs Airlines on Security, But Only About Overseas Threats      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA conducts 27 briefings for airline companies in this time period. However, each briefing only addresses hijacking threats overseas. This is despite the fact that from March to May, the FAA conducted briefings for US airports that raised concerns about hijackings in the domestic US, and even told airports that if hijackers wanted to end a hijacking with a suicidal “spectacular explosion” it would make more sense to do it in the domestic US (see March-May 2001). Also during roughly the same May to September time period, about half of the FAA's daily intelligence briefings mention bin Laden or al-Qaeda, and one of those specifically referred to an al-Qaeda plot using planes as weapons. Even though some of these mentions are connected to domestic threats, airlines are only briefed about the overseas threats (see April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001). [Newsday, 2/11/05; New Jersey Star-Ledger, 2/11/05]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Federal Aviation Administration
          

Summer 2001: Military Plans Reducing Domestic Air Defenses Still Further      Complete 911 Timeline

       During this period, apparently, there are only 14 fighter planes on active alert to defend the continental US (and six more defending Canada and Alaska). [Bergen Record, 12/5/03] However, in the months before 9/11, rather than increase the number, the Pentagon was planning to reduce the number still further. Just after 9/11, the Los Angeles Times will report, “While defense officials say a decision had not yet been made, a reduction in air defenses had been gaining currency in recent months among task forces assigned by [Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld to put together recommendations for a reassessment of the military.” By comparison, in the Cold War atmosphere of the 1950s, the US had thousands of fighters on alert throughout the US. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01 (B)] In fact, there will be high level military discussions as late as September 8, 2001, where the option of eliminating the bases altogether is considered (see September 8, 2001). As late as 1998, there were 175 fighters on alert status. [Bergen Record, 12/5/03] Also during this time, FAA officials try to dispense with “primary” radars altogether, so that if a plane were to turn its transponder off, no radar could see it. NORAD rejects the proposal [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Donald Rumsfeld, US Department of Defense
          

Late June 2001: FAA Disregards Recommended Antiterrorist Measures      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gives a direct warning to the FAA to increase security measures in light of an impending terrorist attack. The FAA refuses to take such measures. [New Yorker, 1/14/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Richard A. Clarke
          

July 5, 2001: Clarke Warns of Something Really Spectacular; FAA and FBI Respond Poorly      Complete 911 Timeline

       At the request of National Security Adviser Rice and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke leads a meeting of the Counterterrorism and Security Group, attended by officials from a dozen federal agencies. They discuss intelligence regarding terrorism threats and potential attacks on US installations overseas. Two attendees recall Clarke stating that “something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon.” One who attended the meeting later calls the evidence that “something spectacular” is being planned by al-Qaeda “very gripping.” [Washington Post, 5/17/02; Time, 8/4/02] Clarke directs every counterterrorist office to cancel vacations, defer non-vital travel, put off scheduled exercises, and place domestic rapid-response teams on much shorter alert. By early August, all of these emergency measures are no longer in effect. [CNN, 3/02; Washington Post, 5/17/02] The FAA issues general and routine threat advisories that don't reflect the level of urgent emergency expressed by Clarke, Tenet, and others (see January-August 2001). FAA Administrator Jane Garvey later claims she was unaware of a heightened threat level, but in 2005 it will be revealed that about half of the FAA's daily briefings in this time period referred to bin Laden or al-Qaeda (see April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001). [New York Times, 4/18/04] Clarke says rhetorically that he wants to know if a sparrow has fallen from a tree. A senior FBI official attends the meeting and promises a redoubling of efforts. However, just five days later, when FBI agent Ken Williams sends off his memo speculating that al-Qaeda may be training operatives as pilots in the US, the FBI fails to share this information with any other agency. [Washington Post, 5/17/02; Clarke, 2004, pp 236-37] The FBI also fails to tell Clarke about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui (see August 15, 2001), or what they know about Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see August 23, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Zacarias Moussaoui, Central Intelligence Agency, Richard A. Clarke, Ken Williams, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Federal Aviation Administration, Condoleezza Rice, Andrew Card, George Tenet
          

July 6, 2001: Clarke Briefs Senior Security Officials on al-Qaeda Threat      Complete 911 Timeline

       One day after heading a meeting on al-Qaeda with the Counterterrorism and Security Group, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke heads a similar meeting at the White House with senior security officials at the FAA, Immigration, Secret Service, Coast Guard, Customs, and other agencies. The CIA and FBI give briefings on the growing al-Qaeda threat. The CIA says al-Qaeda members “believe the upcoming attack will be ‘spectacular,’ qualitatively different from anything they have done to date.” [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] Then Clarke says, “You've just heard that CIA thinks al-Qaeda is planning a major attack on us. So do I. You heard CIA say it would probably be in Israel or Saudi Arabia. Maybe. But maybe it will be here. Just because there is no evidence that says that it will be here, does not mean it will be overseas. They may try to hit us at home. You have to assume that is what they are going to do. Cancel summer vacations, schedule overtime, have your terrorist reaction teams on alert to move fast. Tell me, tell each other, about anything unusual.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 236] Despite this and other warnings to the FBI, the FBI continues to inform state and local agencies that the chances of a terrorist attack is low (see Summer 2001).
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service, Counterterrorism and Security Group, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, US Coast Guard, Richard A. Clarke, Immigration and Naturalization Service, US Customs Service
          

July 18, 2001: FBI, FAA Issues Another Warning      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI issues another warning to domestic law enforcement agencies about threats stemming from the convictions in the millennium bomb plot trial. The FAA also issues a warning, telling the airlines to “use the highest level of caution.” [CNN, 3/02] This is another one of 15 general warnings issued to airlines in 2001 before 9/11 (see January-August 2001), but it is more specific than usual. [CNN, 3/02; CNN, 5/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

July 31, 2001: FAA Issues General Hijacking Warning      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA issues another warning to US airlines, citing no specific targets but saying, “terror groups are known to be planning and training for hijackings, and we ask you therefore to use caution.” These alerts will expire by 9/11. Note that pilots and flight attendants later claim they were never told about warnings such as these. The airlines also disagree about the content of pre-9/11 warnings generally. [CNN, 3/02; Ananova, 5/17/02] For instance, American Airlines states these warnings were “extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements.” The text of these warnings remains classified. [Ananova, 5/17/02 Sources: American Airlines]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

August 1, 2001: Actor Communicates Concerns to Stewardess That Airplane Will Be Hijacked; Warning Forwarded to the FAA      Complete 911 Timeline

      
James Woods.
Actor James Woods, flying first class on an airplane, notices four Arabic-looking men, the only other people in the first class section. He concludes they are Islamic militants intent on hijacking the plane, acting very strangely (for instance, only talking in whispers). [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] He tells a flight attendant, “I think this plane is going to be hijacked,” adding, “I know how serious it is to say this.” He conveys his worries to the pilots, and they assure him that the cockpit would be locked. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] The flight staff later notifies the FAA about these suspicious individuals. Though the government will not discuss this event, it is highly unlikely that any action is taken regarding the flight staff's worries [New Yorker, 5/27/02] Woods is not interviewed by the FBI until after 9/11. Woods says the FBI believes that all four men took part in the 9/11 attacks, and the flight he was on was a practice flight for them. [O'Reilly Factor, 2/14/02] Woods believes one was Khalid Almihdhar and another was Hamza Alghamdi. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] The FBI later reports that this may have been one of a dozen test run flights starting as early as January. Flight attendants and passengers on other flights later recall men looking like the hijackers who took pictures of the cockpit aboard flights and/or took notes. [Associated Press, 5/29/02] The FBI has not been able to find any evidence of hijackers on the flight manifest for Woods' flight. [New Yorker, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Aviation Administration, Hamza Alghamdi, James Woods, Khalid Almihdhar
          

August 16, 2001: FAA Issues Warning; Airlines Say Warning Not Received      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA issues a warning to airlines concerning disguised weapons. According to later testimony by National Security Adviser Rice, the FAA is concerned about reports that the terrorists have made breakthroughs in disguising weapons as cell phones, key chains, and pens. [Reuters, 5/16/02; CNN, 3/02 Sources: Condoleezza Rice] However, the major airlines later deny receiving such notification. For instance, a Delta spokesperson states: “We were not aware of any warnings or notifications of any specific threats.” [Fox News, 5/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

September 4, 2001: FBI Dispatches Vague Message to US Intelligence Community About Moussaoui Investigation      Complete 911 Timeline

       FBI headquarters dispatches a message to the entire US intelligence community about the Zacarias Moussaoui investigation. According to a later Congressional inquiry, the message notes “that Moussaoui was being held in custody but [it does not] describe any particular threat that the FBI thought he posed, for example, whether he might be connected to a larger plot. [It also does] not recommend that the addressees take any action or look for any additional indicators of a terrorist attack, nor [does] it provide any analysis of a possible hijacking threat or provide any specific warnings.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/24/02] The FAA is also given the warning, but the FAA decides not to issue a security alert to the nation's airports. An FAA representative says, “He was in jail and there was no evidence he was connected to other people.” [New York Post, 5/21/02] This is in sharp contrast to an internal CIA warning sent out on August 24 based on even less information, which stated Moussaoui might be “involved in a larger plot to target airlines traveling from Europe to the US” (see August 24, 2001). [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] It turns out that prior to this time, terrorist Ahmed Ressam had started cooperating with investigators. He had trained with Moussaoui in Afghanistan and willingly shared this information after 9/11. The FBI dispatch, with its notable lack of urgency and details, failed to prompt the agents in Seattle holding Ressam to ask him about Moussaoui. Had the connection between these two been learned before 9/11, presumably the search warrant for Moussaoui would have been approved and the 9/11 plot might have unraveled. [Sunday Times, 2/3/02]
People and organizations involved: FBI Headquarters, Federal Aviation Administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Ressam, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Zacarias Moussaoui
          

September 6, 2001: Author Is Banned from Internal US Flights Because of FAA Concern Something About to Happen      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Salman Rushdie.
Author Salman Rushdie, the target of death threats from radical Muslims for years, is banned by US authorities from taking internal US flights. He says the FAA told his publisher the reason was that it had “intelligence of something about to happen.” One newspaper states, “The FAA confirmed that it stepped up security measures concerning Mr. Rushdie but refused to give a reason.” [Times of London, 9/27/01] According to the 9/11 Commission, on this day the FAA issues a security directive requiring extra security measures for flights carrying Rushdie. It is not clear if this is in addition or instead of a ban on him flying. There is no mention as to why this security directive is issued at this time. [9/11 Commission staff report, 8/26/04, p. 56]
People and organizations involved: Italian Secret Service, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(7:00 a.m.-7:45 a.m.): Computer Screening Program Selects Some Hijackers; Fails to Stop Them      Complete 911 Timeline

       Sometime during this period, the hijackers pass through airport security checkpoints at the various airports. The FAA has a screening program in place called the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). CAPPS automatically targets passengers for additional screening based on suspicious behavior such as buying one-way tickets or paying with cash. If a passenger is selected, their bags are thoroughly screened for explosives, but their bodies are not searched. [Washington Post, 1/28/04] CAPPS selects three of the five Flight 11 hijackers. Since Waleed Alshehri checked no bags, his selection had no consequences. Wail Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami have their bags scanned for explosives, but are not stopped. No Flight 175 hijackers are selected. Only Ahmad Alhaznawi is selected from Flight 93. His bag is screened for explosives, but he is not stopped. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that Alhaznawi and Ahmed Alnami, also headed to Flight 93, have suspicious indicators and that they could have been linked to al-Qaeda upon inspection, but it has not been explained why or how. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04; Baltimore Sun, 1/27/04] Screening of the Flight 77 hijackers is described below.
People and organizations involved: Waleed M. Alshehri, Ahmed Alnami, Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, Wail Alshehri, 9/11 Commission Report, Satam Al Suqami, al-Qaeda, Federal Aviation Administration
          

September 11, 2001: Israeli Special-Ops Passenger Shot or Stabbed by Hijackers?      Complete 911 Timeline

       An FAA memo written on the evening of 9/11, and later leaked, suggests that a man on Flight 11 was shot and killed by a gun before the plane crashed into the WTC. The “Executive Summary,” based on information relayed by a flight attendant to the American Airlines Operation Center, stated “that a passenger located in seat 10B [Satam Al Suqami] shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B [Daniel Lewin] at 9:20 am.” (Note that since Flight 11 crashed at 8:46, the time must be a typo, probably meaning 8:20). A report in Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on September 17 identifies Lewin as a former member of the Israel Defense Force Sayeret Matkal, Israel's most successful special-operations unit. [UPI, 3/6/02] Sayeret Matkal is a deep-penetration unit that has been involved in assassinations, the theft of foreign signals-intelligence materials, and the theft and destruction of foreign nuclear weaponry. Sayeret Matkal is best known for the 1976 rescue of 106 passengers at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. [New Yorker, 10/29/01] Lewin founded Akamai, a successful computer company, and his connections to Sayeret Matkal remained hidden until the gun story became known. [Guardian, 9/15/01] FAA and American Airline officials later deny the gun story and suggest that Lewin was probably stabbed to death instead. [Washington Post, 3/2/02 (B); UPI, 3/6/02] Officials assert that the leaked document was a “first draft,” and subsequently corrected, but declines to release the final draft, calling it “protected information.” However, an FAA official present when the memo was drafted will dispute the FAA's claim, asserting that “[t]he document was reviewed for accuracy by a number of people in the room, including myself and a couple of managers of the operations center.” [World Net Daily, 3/7/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Daniel Lewin, American Airlines, Satam Al Suqami, Sayeret Matkal
          

(8:24 a.m.): Flight 11 Turns, Many Watch It on Primary Radar      Complete 911 Timeline

       Boston flight control radar sees Flight 11 making an unplanned 100-degree turn to the south (the plane is already way off course). Flight controllers never lose sight of the flight, though they can no longer determine altitude once the transponder is turned off. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02] Before this turn, the FAA had tagged Flight 11's radar dot for easy visibility and, at American Airlines headquarters at least, “All eyes watched as the plane headed south. On the screen, the plane showed a squiggly line after its turn near Albany, then it straightened.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01] Boston flight controller Mark Hodgkins later says, “I watched the target of American 11 the whole way down.” [ABC News, 9/6/02] However, apparently, NEADS has different radar. When they are finally told about the flight, they cannot find it. Boston has to update NEADS on Flight 11's position periodically by telephone until NEADS finally finds it a few minutes before it crashes into the WTC. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02; ABC News, 9/11/02; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Northeast Air Defense Sector, Boston flight control, Mark Hodgkins, Federal Aviation Administration
          

8:28 a.m.: FAA Centers Have Hijacking Conference Call; NORAD Not Notified      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The FAA Command Center, the center of daily management of the US air traffic system. On 9/11 it is managed by Ben Sliney (not pictured here).
Boston flight control calls the FAA Command Center and tells them that they believe Flight 11 has been hijacked and it is heading toward New York airspace. At 8:32 a.m., the Command Center shares this with the Operations Center at FAA headquarters. Headquarters replies that they have just begun discussing the hijack situation with the main FAA New England office. The Command Center immediately establishes a teleconference between the Boston, New York, and Cleveland flight control centers so that Boston can help the others understand what is happening. Even though by 8:24 a.m. Boston is fairly certain that Flight 11 has been hijacked, they do not contact NORAD. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal Aviation Administration, Boston flight control
          

8:30 a.m.: FAA Command Center Informed of Hijacking; NORAD Still Not Notified      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA's Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, begins its usual daily senior staff meeting. National Operations Manager Ben Sliney interrupts the meeting to report a possible hijacking in progress, as the Center had been told about the Flight 11 hijacking two minutes earlier. Later, a supervisor interrupts the meeting to report that a flight attendant on the hijacked aircraft may have been stabbed. The meeting breaks up before the first WTC crash at 8:46 a.m. Apparently, no one in the meeting contacts NORAD. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 12/17/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Ben Sliney, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

8:34 a.m.: Boston Flight Control Attempts to Contact Air Base Directly; Result Unknown      Complete 911 Timeline

       Boston flight controllers attempt to contact the military through the FAA's Cape Cod, Massachusetts, facility. Two fighters are on twenty-four hour alert at the Otis Air National Guard Base, at Cape Cod. Boston tries reaching this base so the fighters there can scramble after Flight 11. Apparently, they do this before going through the usual NORAD channels. The 9/11 Commission is vague about the outcome of this call. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] According to another account, this call occurs “around 8:30 a.m.,” when the Boston controller tells Otis control tower that Flight 11 has lost its identification signal and appears to be headed toward Manhattan; it looks like a possible hijacking, and fighters are needed fast. The lead pilot at Otis, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Duffy, says, “It didn't happen the way it was supposed to � We were the ones who were contacted right away and knew about it before the air defense sector.” Duffy says that at “[a]bout 8:30, 8:35” he receives a phone call from one of the sergeants, informing him of the hijacking. He says: “As soon as we heard there was something about a hijacking we got moving. � I called for ‘Nasty’ (Maj. Dan Nash) and I to suit up right away.” According to Duffy, “Halfway to the jets, we got ‘battle stations, ’ and I briefed Nasty on the information I had about the American Airlines flight. About 4-5 min. later, we got the scramble order and took off.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp. 47-50; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Otis Air National Guard Base, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Boston flight control, Timothy Duffy
          

After 8:37 a.m.: NEADS Staff Unable to Locate Hijacked Planes on Radar Screens      Complete 911 Timeline

       Lt. Col. Dawne Deskins of NEADS says that when the FAA first calls and reports the first hijacking, “He [FAA] gave me the latitude and longitude of that track ... [but] there was nothing there.” [Fox News, 9/8/02] Master Sergeant Kevin Foster and Staff Sergeant Mark Rose, also working at NEADS this morning, later complain about their inability to locate the hijacked planes on their radar screens. After being informed of the first hijacking, reportedly, “As they had practiced countless times before, the NEADS team quickly began searching their screens for the plane. Because they had been informed its transponder was off, they knew to look for a tiny dash instead of the usual dot. But radar systems also use such lines to indicate weather patterns, so NEADS personnel began urgently clicking their computer cursors on each stray line to see if information indicating an aircraft would appear.” Yet, after receiving further calls indicating more hijackings, “the inability to find the hijacked planes on the radar, despite their best efforts, was difficult.” According to Kevin Foster, “We were trying to find the tracks, and not being able to was very frustrating.” [Utica Observer-Dispatch, 8/5/04] NEADS Staff Sergeant Larry Thornton says, “Once we were called by the FAA, we could find split-second hits on what we thought we were looking for. But the area was so congested and it was incredibly difficult to find. We were looking for little dash marks in a pile of clutter and a pile of aircraft on a two-dimensional scope.” Each fluorescent green pulsating dot on their radar scopes represents an airplane, and there are thousands currently airborne, especially over the busy northeast US. [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 56]
People and organizations involved: Mark Rose, Larry Thornton, Federal Aviation Administration, Dawne Deskins, Kevin Foster, Northeast Air Defense Sector
          

(After 8:46 a.m.): FAA Establishes Open Telephone Line with the Secret Service      Complete 911 Timeline

       Shortly after the WTC is hit, the FAA opens a telephone line with the Secret Service to keep the White House informed of all events. [Sources: Richard ("Dick") Cheney] A few days later, Vice President Cheney will state, “The Secret Service has an arrangement with the FAA. They had open lines after the World Trade Center was ...” (He stopped himself before finishing the sentence.) [MSNBC, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service
          

(8:49 a.m.): United Airlines Headquarters Learns Flight 175 Is Missing; NORAD Apparently Not Informed      Complete 911 Timeline

       Apparently, managers at United Airlines' headquarters in Chicago are unaware of any unfolding emergency until they watch CNN break the story at 8:48 a.m. (see 8:48 a.m.). “Within minutes,” United headquarters gets a call from the FAA, stating that the plane that crashed into the WTC was an American Airlines passenger plane. At about the same time and before a call about the flight that will take place at about 8:50 a.m., a manager says to Jim Goodwin (United's chairman and chief executive), “Boss, we've lost contact with one of our airplanes [Flight 175].” [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01] At around 9:00 a.m., a United dispatcher reports that Flight 175 has been lost (it is not clear whether this is a clarification of the earlier message or a change in the timing that one call occurred). [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] Ten days previously, Andy Studdert, the chief operating officer and executive vice president of United Airlines had surprised staff there with a crisis-training exercise, telling them a flight over the Pacific had broken radio contact and suffered a potentially disastrous engine failure. For 30 minutes, they had believed the story, before Studdert told them the truth. So, at around 9:00 a.m. on 9/11, after he arrives at the Operations Center within the United Airlines' headquarters, he shouts at the staff, “This is not a drill!” [Studdert Testimony, 1/27/04; USA Today, 8/12/02; Chicago Tribune, 7/16/03]
People and organizations involved: Jim Goodwin, United Airlines, Andy Studdert, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(8:56-9:05 a.m.): Flight 77 Disappears from Radar Screens      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, “Radar reconstructions performed after 9/11 reveal that FAA radar equipment tracked [Flight 77] from the moment its transponder was turned off at 8:56 [am.].” However, for eight minutes and 13 seconds, this primary radar data is not displayed to Indianapolis flight controllers. “The reasons are technical, arising from the way the software processed radar information, as well as from poor primary radar coverage where American 77 was flying.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Apparently, a radar tower in West Virginia doesn't have primary radar. [Washington Post, 11/3/01] But the 9/11 Commission notes that other centers had primary radars that covered the missing areas, yet they weren't asked to do a primary radar search. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Indianapolis flight control, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(Before 9:00 a.m.): American Airlines Learns of Flight 77 Problems; Cancels All Flight Take Offs in the Northeast; NORAD Not Notified      Complete 911 Timeline

       American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, learns that Flight 77 is not responding to radio calls, is not emitting a transponder signal, and flight control has lost its location since 8:56 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] According to the Wall Street Journal, a call from the FAA roughly says that Flight 77 has “turned off its transponder and turned around. Controllers [have] lost radio communications with the plane. Without hearing from anyone on the plane, American [doesn't] know its location.” American Airlines executive Gerard Arpey gives an order to stop all American flight take-offs in the Northeast. By 8:59 a.m., American Airlines begins attempts to contact the flight using ACARS (a digital communications system used primarily for aircraft-to-airline messages). Around this time, Within minutes, American gets word that United also has lost contact with a missing airliner (presumably Flight 175). When reports of the second WTC come through after 9:03 a.m., one manager recalls mistakenly shouting, “How did 77 get to New York and we didn't know it?” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, p. 454; Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, American Airlines, Gerard Arpey, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:01 a.m.): New York Flight Control Tells FAA Command Center About Flight 175 Hijack; Wants NORAD Help      Complete 911 Timeline

       A manager from New York flight control tells the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, “We have several situations going on here. It's escalating big, big time. We need to get the military involved with us. ... We're, We're involved with something else, we have other aircraft that may have a similar situation going on here...” The 9/11 Commission calls this the first notification to FAA leadership of the second hijack, but NORAD is not yet notified. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] If this is true, then it means United Airlines headquarters has not yet contacted the FAA, despite knowing Flight 175 has been hijacked since about 8:50 a.m.
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, Federal Aviation Administration, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

(After 9:03 a.m.): Boston Controllers Give Cockpit Security Alert to New England Planes and Asks FAA to Issue Nationwide Warning; FAA Fails to Do So      Complete 911 Timeline

       “Within minutes of the second impact,” Boston flight control's Operations Manager instructs all flight controllers in his center to inform all aircraft in the New England region to monitor the events unfolding in New York and to advise aircraft to heighten cockpit security. Boston asks the FAA Command Center to issue a similar cockpit security alert to all aircraft nationwide. The 9/11 Commission concludes, “We have found no evidence to suggest that Command Center managers instructed any centers to issue a cockpit security alert.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] United Airlines flight dispatchers give their pilots a cockpit warning about 20 minutes later.
People and organizations involved: United Airlines, Federal Aviation Administration, Boston flight control
          

9:05 am (and After): Flight 77 Reappears on Radar, but Flight Controllers Do Not Notice      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, Flight 77's radar blip, missing for the last eight minutes, reappears on Indianapolis flight control's primary radar scope. It is east of its last known position. It remains in air space managed by Indianapolis until 9:10 a.m., and then passes into Washington air space. Two managers and one flight controller continue to look west and southwest for the flight, but don't look east. Managers don't instruct other Indianapolis controllers to join the search for the flight. Neither they nor FAA headquarters issues an “all points bulletin” to surrounding centers to search for Flight 77. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Newsday claims that rumors circulate the plane might have exploded in midair. [Newsday, 9/23/01] However, the 9/11 Commission's conclusion that Indianapolis flight controllers did not look east is contradicted by an account indicating that American Airlines headquarters was told that Flight 77 had turned around.
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, Indianapolis flight control, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:08-9:13 a.m.): Fighters Put in Holding Pattern over Ocean Instead of Defending New York City      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Bush reacts to the message Andrew Card has just given him.
The two F-15s scrambled to find Flight 11 in New York are now ordered to circle in a 150-mile window of air space off the coast of Long Island. It is not clear whether they reach New York City before being directed over the ocean. Pilot Major Daniel Nash states, “Neither the civilian controller or the military controller knew what they wanted us to do.” [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] At 9:09 a.m., the NEADS Mission Crew Commander learns of the second WTC crash, and decides to send the fighters to New York City. At 9:10 a.m., the senior director on the NEADS floor tells the weapons director, “I want those fighters closer in.” NEADS controllers are concerned about refueling, and are simultaneously working with a tanker to relocate close to the Otis fighters. Then, at 9:11 a.m., either the senior weapons director at NEADS or his technician instructs the Otis fighters to “remain at current position [holding pattern] until FAA requests assistance.” According to the 9/11 Commission, the record of this instruction is the only NEADS recording of the NEADS senior weapons director and weapons director technician responsible for controlling the Otis scramble that is available to them. This, they state, is because of a “technical issue.” The Commission says the Otis fighters remain in a holding pattern over the ocean until 9:13 a.m. while the FAA clears the airspace. The fighters then establish a Combat Air Patrol over the city at 9:25 a.m. What the fighters do between 9:13 a.m. and 9:25 a.m. is unclear. The distance between the two locations is unknown but presumably not large. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, pp. 459-460] These fighters remain over New York City for the next four hours. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Nash, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:09 a.m. and After): Numerous False Reports of Hijacked Aircraft      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, “During the course of the morning, there were multiple erroneous reports of hijacked aircraft in the system.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Around 9:09 a.m., the FAA Command Center reports that 11 aircraft are either not communicating with FAA facilities or flying unexpected routes. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] NORAD's Major General Larry Arnold claims that during the “four-hour ordeal” of the attacks, a total of 21 planes are identified as possible hijackings. [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 71; Code One magazine, 1/02] Robert Marr, head of NEADS on 9/11, says, “At one time I was told that across the nation there were some 29 different reports of hijackings.” [Newhouse News Service, 3/31/05] It is later claimed that these false reports cause considerable chaos. Larry Arnold says that particularly during the time between the Pentagon being hit at 9:37 and Flight 93 going down at around 10:06, “a number of aircraft are being called possibly hijacked � There was a lot of confusion, as you can imagine.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 55,122; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 55,122] He says, “We were receiving many reports of hijacked aircraft. When we received those calls, we might not know from where the aircraft had departed. We also didn't know the location of the airplane.” [Code One magazine, 1/02] According to Robert Marr, “There were a number of false reports out there. What was valid? What was a guess? We just didn't know.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 73]
People and organizations involved: Larry Arnold, Federal Aviation Administration, Robert Marr
          

(9:10 a.m.): Washington Flight Control Sees Unidentified Plane, Apparently Fails to Notify FAA or NORAD      Complete 911 Timeline

       Washington flight control notices a new eastbound plane entering its radar with no radio contact and no transponder identification. They do not realize it is Flight 77. They are aware of the hijackings and crashes of Flights 11 and 175, yet they apparently fail to notify anyone about the unidentified plane. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Newsday, 9/23/01] Another report says they never notice it, and it is only noticed when it enters radar coverage of Washington's Dulles International Airport at 9:24 a.m. (see (9:24 a.m.)). [Washington Post, 11/3/01]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:16 a.m.): NORAD's Original Claim Flight 93 Is Hijacked at This Time Is Apparently Wrong; One Hijacker May Have Snuck Into Cockpit Early      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to a NORAD timeline from a week after 9/11, NORAD claims that Flight 93 may have been hijacked at this time. The timeline inexplicably fails to say when the FAA told them about the hijack, the only flight for which they fail to provide this data. [CNN, 9/17/01; NORAD, 9/18/01] However, there may be one explanation: There are media reports that “investigators had determined from the cockpit voice recorder from United Airlines Flight 93 ... that one of the four hijackers had been invited into the cockpit area before the flight took off from Newark, New Jersey.” Cockpit voice recordings indicate that the pilots believed their guest was a colleague “and was thereby extended the typical airline courtesy of allowing any pilot from any airline to join a flight by sitting in the jumpseat, the folded over extra seat located inside the cockpit.” [Herald Sun, 9/25/01; Fox News, 9/24/01] However, this account has not been confirmed. The 9/11 Commission asserts the hijacking begins around 9:28 a.m. (see (9:28 a.m.)) [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Note that during the 9/11 Commission hearings in May 2003, NORAD officials stated that the FAA informed NEADS at 9:16 a.m. that United Flight 93 was hijacked. According to a commission report in 2004, “this statement was incorrect.” No further explanation is offered for NORAD's incorrect timeline. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal Aviation Administration, Northeast Air Defense Sector
          

9:17 a.m. EST, September 11, 2001      911 Environmental Impact

       The Federal Aviation Administration closes down New York Metro area airports. [CNN, 9/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:18 a.m.): FAA Command Center Warns Flight Controllers Nationwide to Watch for Suspicious Aircraft      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA Command Center finally issues a nationwide alert to flight controllers to watch for planes disappearing from radar or making unauthorized course changes. [Washington Post, 11/3/01]
People and organizations involved: Indianapolis flight control, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:20 a.m.): FBI Washington Office Is Warned Flight 77 Has Been Hijacked      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Arthur Eberhart.
In a government report analyzing the effectiveness of rescue worker response to the Pentagon crash, it is mentioned that, “At about 9:20 a.m., the WFO [FBI Washington Field Office] Command Center [is] notified that American Airlines Flight 77 had been hijacked shortly after takeoff from Washington Dulles International Airport. [Special Agent in Charge Arthur] Eberhart dispatche[s] a team of 50 agents to investigate the Dulles hijacking and provide additional security to prevent another. He sen[ds] a second team to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport as a precautionary step. At the WFO Command Center, Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) Jim Rice [is] on the telephone with the Pentagon when Flight 77 crashe[s] into the building.” [Arlington County After-Action Report, 7/02 (B)] Yet according to the 9/11 Commission, NORAD is not told that Flight 77 had been hijacked at this time or any time before it crashes. However, the FAA has claimed they officially warned NORAD at 9:24 a.m. (see (9:24 a.m.)) and informally warned them even earlier (see (9:24 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Arthur Eberhart, US Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, FBI Washington Field Office, Jim Rice, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
          

9:21 a.m.: FAA Command Center Advises Dulles Airport Control to Be on Lookout      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA Command Center advises the Dulles Airport terminal control facility in Washington to look for primary targets. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] By at least one account, Dulles notices Flight 77 a few minutes later.
People and organizations involved: Washington Dulles International Airport, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:24 a.m.): By Some Accounts, FAA Notifies NORAD Flight 77 Is Hijacked and Washington-Bound; 9/11 Commission Claims This Never Happens      Complete 911 Timeline

       Shortly after 9/11, NORAD reported that the FAA notified them at this time that Flight 77 “may” have been hijacked and that it appears headed toward Washington. [NORAD, 9/18/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01; Guardian, 10/17/01] Apparently, flight controllers at Dulles International Airport discover a plane heading at high speed toward Washington; an alert is sounded within moments that the plane appears to be headed toward the White House. [Washington Post, 11/3/01] In 2003, the FAA supported this account, but claimed that they had informally notified NORAD earlier. “NORAD logs indicate that the FAA made formal notification about American Flight 77 at 9:24 a.m. (see (9:24 a.m.)), but information about the flight was conveyed continuously during the phone bridges before the formal notification.” [FAA, 5/22/03] Yet in 2004, the 9/11 Commission claims that both NORAD and the FAA are wrong. The 9/11 Commission explains that the notification NEADS received at 9:24 a.m. was the incorrect information that Flight 11 had not hit the WTC and was headed south for Washington, D.C. Thus, according to the 9/11 Commission, NORAD is never notified by the FAA about the hijacking of Flight 77, but accidentally learns about it at 9:34 a.m. (see 9:34 a.m.). [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Washington Dulles International Airport, Federal Aviation Administration
          

9:25 a.m.: 9/11 Commission's Conflicting Account of Clarke-Led Video Conference Begins at This Time      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to his own account, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, started a video teleconference from the White House's Secure Video Conferencing Center, next to the Situation Room, at around 9:10 a.m.(see (9:10 a.m.)). However, the 9/11 Commission says that logs indicate this conference beginning 15 minutes later than this. Included in the conference are the FBI, the CIA, the FAA, the departments of State, Justice, and Defense, and the White House shelter. The FAA and CIA join at 9:40 a.m. The 9/11 Commission says, “It is not clear to us that the video teleconference was fully under way before 9:37, when the Pentagon was struck.” Furthermore, it states: “We do not know who from Defense participated, but we know that in the first hour none of the personnel involved in managing the crisis did. And none of the information conveyed in the White House video teleconference, at least in the first hour, was being passed to the NMCC [in the Pentagon].” Clarke's video teleconference is not connected into the area of the NMCC from where the crisis is being managed. Consequently, “the director of the operations team-who was on the phone with NORAD-did not have the benefit of information being shared on the video teleconference.” And, “when the Secretary [of Defense Rumsfeld] and Vice Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers] later participated in the White House video teleconference, they were necessarily absent from the NMCC and unable to provide guidance to the operations team.” Clarke, however, gives a specific recollection of Myers speaking over video at 9:28, which is seemingly at odds with the 9/11 Commission's account (see 9:28 a.m.). One witness later recalls: “[It] was almost like there were parallel decision-making processes going on; one was a voice conference orchestrated by the NMCC ... and then there was the [White House video teleconference]. ... [I]n my mind they were competing venues for command and control and decision-making.” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, pp. 36 and 463]
People and organizations involved: US Department of State, US Department of Justice, Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Richard A. Clarke
          

(9:26 a.m.): Rookie FAA Manager Bans All Take Offs Nationwide, Including Most Military Flights? Mineta Asserts He Issues Order Minutes Later      Complete 911 Timeline

      
FAA Administrator Jane Garvey.
Time magazine later reports that Jane Garvey, head of the FAA, “almost certainly after getting an okay from the White House, initiate[s] a national ground stop, which forbids takeoffs and requires planes in the air to get down as soon as is reasonable. The order, which has never been implemented since flying was invented in 1903, applie[s] to virtually every single kind of machine that can takeoff—civilian, military, or law enforcement.” Military and law enforcement flights are allowed to resume at 10:31 a.m. (see 10:31 a.m.) A limited number of military flights—the FAA will not reveal details—are allowed to fly during this ban. [Time, 9/14/01] Garvey later calls it “a national ground stop ... that prevented any aircraft from taking off.” [House of Representatives Committee, 9/21/01] Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta later says he was the one to give the order: “As soon as I was aware of the nature and scale of the attack, I called from the White House to order the air traffic system to land all aircraft, immediately and without exception.” [State Department, 9/20/01] According to Mineta, “At approximately 9:45 ... I gave the FAA the final order for all civil aircraft to land at the nearest airport as soon as possible.” [9/11 Commission Report, 5/23/03] At the time, 4,452 planes are flying in the continental US. A later account states that Ben Sliney, the FAA's National Operations Manager, makes the decision without consulting his superiors, like Jane Garvey, first. It would be remarkable if Sliney was the one to make the decision, because 9/11 is Sliney's first day on the job as National Operations Manager, “the chess master of the air traffic system.” [USA Today, 8/13/02] When he accepted the job a couple of months earlier, he had asked, “What is the limit of my authority?” The man who had promoted him replied, “Unlimited.” [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] Yet another account, by Linda Schuessler, manager of tactical operations at the FAA Command Center where Sliney was located, says, “... it was done collaboratively ... All these decisions were corporate decisions. It wasn't one person who said, ‘Yes, this has got to get done.’ ” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 12/17/01] About 500 planes land in the next 20 minutes, and then much more urgent orders to land are issued at 9:45 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.)). [USA Today, 8/13/02; Newsday, 9/23/01; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; Time, 9/14/01; USA Today, 8/13/02; House of Representatives Committee, 9/21/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); Newsday, 9/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Ben Sliney, Jane Garvey, Linda Schuessler, Norman Mineta, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:29 a.m.): Pentagon Command Center Begins High Level Conference Call      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The National Miilitary Command Center, inside the Pentagon.
Captain Charles Leidig is in command of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), “the military's worldwide nerve center.” [CNN, 9/4/02] Telephone links are established with the NMCC located inside the Pentagon (but on the opposite side of the building from where the explosion will happen), Canada's equivalent Command Center, Strategic Command, theater commanders, and federal emergency-response agencies. An Air Threat Conference Call is initiated and it lasts for eight hours. At one time or another, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, key military officers, leaders of the FAA and NORAD, the White House, and Air Force One are heard on the open line. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] NORAD command director Captain Michael Jellinek claims this happens “immediately” after the second WTC hit. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] However, the 9/11 Commission concludes it starts nearly 30 minutes later, at approximately 9:29 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Brigadier General Montague Winfield, who later takes over for Leidig, says, “All of the governmental agencies that were involved in any activity going on in the United States at that point, were in that conference.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] The call continues right through the Pentagon explosion; the impact is not felt within the NMCC. [CNN, 9/4/02] However, despite being in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't enter the NMCC or participate in the call until 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, National Military Command Center, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Mike Jellinek, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal Aviation Administration, Charles Leidig, Montague Winfield
          

(9:30 a.m.): FAA Emergency Operations Center Is Finally Operational      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA's Emergency Operations Center gets up and running, five minutes after the FAA issues an order grounding all civilian, military, and law enforcement aircraft. [Time, 9/14/01] This center's role in the crisis response remains unclear.
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:32 a.m.): Flight 93 Hijacker Tells Passengers Bomb Is Onboard; Flight Controllers Overhear      Complete 911 Timeline

       A hijacker says over the radio to Flight 93's passengers: “Ladies and gentlemen, here is the captain, please sit down. Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb aboard.” Apparently, Cleveland flight controllers can understand about a minute of screams, before a voice again says something about a “bomb on board.” A hijacker says in broken English that they are returning to the airport. [MSNBC, 9/3/02; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01; Newsweek, 9/22/01] According to the 9/11 Commission's account, the hijacker's voice says, “Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board.” The controller understands, but chooses to respond, “Calling Cleveland [flight control], you're unreadable. Say again, slowly.” Apparently there's no answer. The controller notifies his supervisor, who soon passes the notice to FAA headquarters. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Cleveland flight control, Federal Aviation Administration, 9/11 Commission
          

9:34 a.m.: FAA's Headquarters Notified There Might Be a Bomb Onboard Flight 93; NORAD Not Notified      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, word of Flight 93's hijacking reaches FAA headquarters. By this time, headquarters has established an open line of communication with the FAA Command Center at Herndon, Virginia. It had instructed the center to poll all flight control centers about suspect aircraft. So, at this time, the Command Center passes on Cleveland's message: “United 93 may have a bomb on board.” The Command Center continually updates FAA headquarters on Flight 93 until it crashes. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:36 a.m.): Cleveland Flight Control Wants NORAD Notified; FAA Command Center Says People Are Working on It      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, at about this time Cleveland flight control specifically asks the FAA Command Center whether someone has requested the military to launch fighters toward Flight 93. Cleveland offers to contact a nearby military base. The Command Center replies that FAA personnel well above them in the chain of command have to make that decision and are working on the issue. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Cleveland overheard a hijacker say there was a “bomb on board” at 9:32 a.m. and passed the message to FAA higher ups.
People and organizations involved: Cleveland flight control, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(Before 9:37 a.m.): Flight 77 Turns, Then Disappears from Radar      Complete 911 Timeline

       Washington flight controllers are watching Flight 77's radar blip. Just before radar contact is lost, FAA headquarters is told, “The aircraft is circling. It's turning away from the White House.” [USA Today, 8/13/02] Then the blip disappears. Its last known position is six miles from the Pentagon and four miles from the White House. The plane is said to be traveling 500 mph, or a mile every seven seconds. [CBS News, 9/21/01; USA Today, 8/13/02; Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02; ABC News, 9/11/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:39 a.m.): Flight 93 Hijacker Again Warns of Bomb on Board, Flight Controllers Again Overhear; NORAD Still Not Notified      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Flight 93 hijackers (probably inadvertently) transmit over the radio: “Hi, this is the captain. We'd like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board. And we are going to turn back to the airport. And they had our demands, so please remain quiet.” [Longman, 2002, pp 209; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; MSNBC, 9/3/02; Boston Globe, 11/23/01] The controller responds, “United 93, understand you have a bomb on board. Go ahead,” but there is no response. There was a very similar “bomb on board” warning from the same flight at 9:32 a.m. (see (9:32 a.m.)). The 9/11 Commission indicates that these are separate incidents. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Cleveland flight control apparently continues to wait for FAA superiors to notify NORAD. Earlier in the morning, Boston flight control directly contacted NORAD (see (8:37 a.m.)) and local air force bases when they determined Flight 11 was hijacked.
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Cleveland flight control
          

(9:40 a.m.): FAA Command Center Identifies Ten Possible Hijacked Planes      Complete 911 Timeline

       Newark, New Jersey, flight controller Bob Varcadapane is talking on the phone with the FAA Command Center. He is told that the Command Center is still suspicious of at least ten planes for one reason or another, all possible hijackings. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Bob Varcadapane, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:45 a.m.): Senior FAA Manager, on His First Day on the Job, Orders All Planes Out of the Sky Nationwide      Complete 911 Timeline

      
FAA National Operations Manager Ben Sliney.
Ben Sliney, FAA's National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. Around 3,950 flights are still in the air. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve his actions. It's Sliney's first day on the job. [USA Today, 8/13/02; USA Today, 8/13/02 (B); MSNBC, 9/22/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); Newsday, 9/10/02; USA Today, 8/13/02; Washington Post, 9/12/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Associated Press, 8/12/02; New York Times, 9/12/01] Seventy-five percent of the planes land within one hour of the order. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (C)] The Washington Post has reported that Mineta told Monty Belger at the FAA: “Monty, bring all the planes down,” even adding, “[Expletive] pilot discretion.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02] However, it is later reported by a different Post reporter that Mineta did not even know of the order until 15 minutes later. This reporter “says FAA officials had begged him to maintain the fiction.” [Slate, 4/2/02]
People and organizations involved: Jane Garvey, Federal Aviation Administration, Norman Mineta, Ben Sliney, Monty Belger
          

9:49 a.m.: Pittsburgh Flight Control Tower Evacuates      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA orders the Pittsburgh control tower evacuated. Shortly before the order, Cleveland flight controllers called Pittsburgh flight control to say that a plane is heading toward Pittsburgh and the pilot refuses to communicate. The plane is Flight 93. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01 (B)] Also, around this time, while Flight 93 is heading east, NEADS Commander Robert Marr hears that the FAA is evacuating its Cleveland Center. [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 73]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Cleveland flight control, Pittsburgh flight control
          

9:53 a.m.: FAA Headquarters Still Only Talking About Telling NORAD of Flight 93 Hijack      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, FAA headquarters informs the FAA Command Center that the deputy director for air traffic services is talking to Deputy Administrator Monty Belger about scrambling aircraft after Flight 93. Yet in interviews with the commission, neither Belger nor the deputy director recall this discussion, and Belger subsequently e-mails the commission saying he does not believe the conversation took place. However, tape recordings reveal a staff person from headquarters at this time telling the Command Center, “Peter's talking to Monte now about scrambling.” FAA headquarters is also informed that the flight is 20 miles northwest of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Incredibly, FAA headquarters has known since 9:34 A.M. about hijackers talking about a bomb on board the flight, and more evidence has since been passed on confirming a hijacking in progress. Still, reportedly, no one tells NORAD anything about the plane.
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Monty Belger
          

10:01 a.m.: Local Pilot Sees Flight 93 Rocking Back and Forth      Complete 911 Timeline

       Bill Wright is piloting a small plane when a flight controller asks him to look around outside his window, according to his later claims. He sees Flight 93 three miles away—close enough that Wright can see the United Airlines colors. Flight control asks him the plane's altitude, and then commands him to get away from the plane and land immediately. Wright sees the plane rock back and forth three or four times before he flies from the area. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/19/01] According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA Command Center tells FAA headquarters that a nearby plane had seen Flight 93 “waving his wings.” The commission says, “The aircraft had witnessed the radical gyrations in what we believe was the hijackers' effort to defeat the passenger assault.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] This presumably is a reference to Wright.
People and organizations involved: Bill Wright, Federal Aviation Administration
          

10:02 a.m.: Secret Service Warns Cheney Hijackers Are Headed Toward Washington      Complete 911 Timeline

       Vice President Cheney and other leaders now in the White House bunker begin receiving reports from the Secret Service of a presumably hijacked aircraft heading toward Washington. The Secret Service is getting this information about Flight 93 through links to the FAA. However, they are looking at a projected path, not an actual radar return, so they do not realize that the plane crashes minutes later. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Secret Service, Federal Aviation Administration
          

10:03 a.m.: NMCC Learns of Flight 93 Hijacking, NORAD Still Not Told      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the NMCC learns about the Flight 93 hijacking at this time. Since the FAA has not yet been patched in to the NMCC's conference call, the news comes from the White House. The White House learned about it from the Secret Service, and the Secret Service learned about it from the FAA. NORAD apparently is still unaware. Four minutes later, a NORAD representative on the conference call states, “NORAD has no indication of a hijack heading to Washington, D.C., at this time.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center, Secret Service
          

10:07 a.m.: Cleveland Flight Control Updates NEADS      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS finally receives a call from Cleveland flight control about Flight 93. Cleveland passes on the plane's last known latitude and longitude. NEADS is unable to locate it on radar because it has already crashed. By the commission's account, this is NORAD's first notification about the Flight 93 hijacking, even though Cleveland realized Flight 93 was hijacked at 9:32 a.m., 35 minutes earlier, and notified FAA headquarters at 9:34 a.m., 33 minutes earlier. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Cleveland flight control, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

10:08 a.m.: FAA Informed That Flight 93 Has Crashed, Confirms Crash Nine Minutes Later      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA Command Center reports to FAA headquarters at this time that Flight 93 has crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. “It hit the ground. That's what they're speculating, that's speculation only.” The Command Center confirms that Flight 93 crashed at 10:17 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); Guardian, 10/17/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

(10:17 a.m.): FAA Out of the Loop; Finally Joins NMCC Teleconference      Complete 911 Timeline

       The National Military Command Center (NMCC) has been conducting an interagency teleconference to coordinate the nation's response to the hijackings since 9:29 a.m. Yet the 9/11 Commission Reports that the FAA is unable to join the call until this time, apparently due to technical difficulties. NORAD asked three times before the last hijacked plane crashed for the FAA to provide a hijacking update to the teleconference. None were given, since no FAA representative was there. When an FAA representative finally joins in, that person has no proper experience, no access to decision makers, and no information known to senior FAA officials at the time. Furthermore, the highest-level Defense Department officials rely on this conference and do not talk directly with senior FAA officials. As a result, the leaders of NORAD and the FAA are effectively out of contact with each other during the entire crisis. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Department of Defense, National Military Command Center, Federal Aviation Administration
          

10:31 a.m.: Military and Law Enforcement Flights Resume      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA allows “military and law enforcement flights to resume (and some flights that the FAA can't reveal that were already airborne).” All civilian, military, and law enforcement flights were ordered at 9:26 a.m. to land as soon as reasonably possible. [Time, 9/14/01] Civilian flights remain banned until September 13. Note that the C-130 cargo plane that witnessed the Flight 77 crash (see 9.36 a.m.) and which came upon the Flight 93 crash site (see 10:08 a.m.) right after it had crashed was apparently not subject to the grounding order issued about an hour earlier.
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

After 10:42 a.m.: Langley and Andrews Pilots Hear Warning Over Radio      Complete 911 Timeline

       After taking off from Andrews Air Force Base, Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville and Captain Heather Penney Garcia are flying at low altitudes over Washington, DC. The three fighters launched from Langley Air Force Base at 9:30 a.m. are flying above them at around 20,000 feet. The Langley pilots are communicating with controllers at NEADS, while the Andrews pilots are communicating with civilian controllers at the FAA. However, both sets of pilots hear a message over a shared channel: “Attention all aircraft monitoring Andrews tower frequency. Andrews and Class Bravo airspace is closed. No general aviation aircraft are permitted to enter Class Bravo airspace. Any infractions will be shot down.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 82]
People and organizations involved: Northeast Air Defense Sector, Federal Aviation Administration, Heather Penney Garcia, Marc Sasseville
          

(11:00 a.m.): All Flights over US Soil Complying with Controllers      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA Command Center is told that all the flights over the United States are accounted for and pilots are complying with controllers. There are 923 planes still in the air over the US. Every commercial flight in US airspace—about a quarter of the planes still in the air—is within 40 miles of its destination. Others are still over the oceans, and many are heading toward Canada. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

12:16 p.m.: US Airspace Cleared of All Civilian Aircraft      Complete 911 Timeline

       US airspace is clear of aircraft except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights are still landing in Canada. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (C)] At 12:30 p.m., the FAA reports about 50 (non-civilian) planes still flying in US airspace, but none are reporting problems. [CNN, 9/12/01; New York Times, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Canada
          

(4:00 p.m.): Bush Determined to Return to Washington; Rove Later Misinforms Public About Threat to Bush      Complete 911 Timeline

       President Bush has just told his advisers that he is returning to Washington as soon as the plane is fueled— “No discussion.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 21-22] Yet, Bush adviser Karl Rove later says that at this time President Bush is hesitant to return to Washington because, “they've accounted for all four [hijacked] planes, but they've got another, I think, three or four or five planes still outstanding.” [New Yorker, 9/25/01] However, the FAA points out there are no such reports and that Bush had been quickly informed when domestic US skies were completely cleared at 12:16 p.m. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Federal Aviation Administration, Karl Rove
          

Before 6:42 p.m.: Unknown Aircraft Racing Toward Air Force One      Complete 911 Timeline

       As Air Force One is approaching Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, with the president on board, the FAA reports an aircraft racing towards it. Fighters quickly intercept the aircraft, which turns out to be a Lear business jet, “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 88]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

August 12, 2002: FAA Releases No New Information About 9/11      Complete 911 Timeline

       A group of FAA flight controllers hold a press conference to talk about the 9/11 events for the first time. However, virtually no new information is disclosed. As the Boston Globe put it, “questions about detailed communications from the hijacked planes was avoided, with FAA officials saying that information remains under investigation.” [Boston Globe, 8/13/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

October-November 2003: 9/11 Commission Subpoenas FAA and Pentagon for Missing Documents      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Commission unanimously agrees to subpoena the FAA after it refuses to produce records relating to FAA notification to US air defenses concerning the hijacked planes on 9/11. The panel states, “This disturbing development at one agency has led the commission to reexamine its general policy of relying on document requests rather than subpoenas.” [Associated Press, 10/15/03] The commission also votes to subpoena the Pentagon for documents related to NORAD's fighter response on 9/11. The commission says it is “especially dismayed” by incomplete document production on the part of NORAD. The commission explains, “In several cases we were assured that all requested records had been produced, but we then discovered, through investigation, that these assurances were mistaken.” [Associated Press, 11/7/03]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Defense, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

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