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Profile: Ben Sliney

 
  

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Ben Sliney actively participated in the following events:

 
  

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 Hears Hijacker Announcement      Complete 911 Timeline

       Flight controllers hear a hijacker on Flight 11 say to the passengers: “Nobody move, please, we are going back to the airport. Don't try to make any stupid moves.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; New York Times, 10/16/01; Boston Globe, 11/23/01; Guardian, 10/17/01] Apparently, shortly after this, the transmission tapes that are automatically recorded are played back to hear the words that were spoken by the hijackers a few minutes before. Everyone in the Boston flight control center hears the hijackers say, “We have some planes.” [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] Ben Sliney, the FAA's National Operations Manager, soon gets word of the “We have some planes” message and later says the phrase haunts him all morning. [USA Today, 8/13/02]
People and organizations involved: Ben Sliney, Boston flight control
          

(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
          

(9:45 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
          

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