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Before 9/11

Warning Signs (228)
Foreign Intelligence Warnings (27)
Insider Trading (36)
Counterterrorism Before 9/11 (181)
Able Danger (39)
Military Exercises (38)
Hunt for bin Laden (73)
Pipeline Politics (54)

Al-Qaeda Members

Al-Qaeda in Germany (42)
Alhazmi and Almihdhar (74)
Other 9/11 Hijackers (48)
Marwan Alshehhi (21)
Mohamed Atta (37)
Ziad Jarrah (9)
Hani Hanjour (15)
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (33)
Zacarias Moussaoui (40)
Nabil al-Marabh (10)

Geopolitics and 9/11

Pakistani ISI (126)
Randy Glass (7)
Sibel Edmonds (6)
Saeed Sheikh (3)
Mahmood Ahmed (3)
Drugs (21)
Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden Family (110)
Bin Laden Family (33)
Israel (33)
Iraq (49)
US Dominance (34)

Day of 9/11

All day of 9/11 events (401)
Flight AA 11 (62)
Flight UA 175 (49)
Flight AA 77 (70)
Flight UA 93 (105)
George Bush (66)
Dick Cheney (24)
Donald Rumsfeld (24)
Richard Clarke (22)

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan (49)
Investigations (166)
9/11 Congressional Inquiry (0)
9/11 Commission (0)
Other 9/11 Investigations (0)
Other events (79)
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Complete 911 Timeline


Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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Showing 1-100 of 421 events (use filters to narrow search):    next 100

September 10, 2001: Hours Before Attacks, San Francisco Mayor Receives Warning

Willie Brown.
Eight hours prior to the attacks, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown receives a warning from “my security people at the airport,” advising him to be cautious in traveling. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/01] Later reports claim that this is because someone saw the State Department warning of September 7 (see September 7, 2001), which focused on the threat to military personnel in Asia. Brown is scheduled to fly to New York the next morning. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/14/01; San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/01; US State Department, 9/7/01] The source of the warning, and why it was personally issued to Brown, remains unknown.
People and organizations involved: Willie Brown

(5:53 a.m.): Two Hijackers Caught on Video as They Board a Flight to Boston

Abdulaziz Alomari, right, and Mohamed Atta, left (in dark shirt), passing through security in the Portland, Maine, airport. Note the different times on the two time stamps, one in the middle, one at the bottom.
Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari board a Colgan Air flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston, Massachusetts. A security camera captures Atta and Alomari going through security at the Portland airport. [New York Daily News, 5/22/02; Miami Herald, 9/22/01; FBI, 10/4/01; Time, 9/24/01]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari

(6:00 a.m.): Two Hijackers Fly to Boston

       Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari's flight from Portland to Boston takes off. [FBI, 10/4/01] Two passengers later say Atta and Alomari board separately, keep quiet, and do not draw attention to themselves. [Washington Post, 9/16/01; Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari

(6:00 a.m.): Bush Interview or Assassination Attempt?

       President Bush has just spent the night at Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida. Surface-to-air missiles have been placed on the roof of the resort (it is not known if this was typical of presidential security before 9/11, or if this was related to increased terror warnings). [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02] Bush wakes up around 6:00 a.m. and is preparing for his morning jog. [MSNBC, 10/27/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] A van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent arrives at the Colony Beach Resort, stating they have a “poolside” interview with the president. They do not have an appointment and they are turned away. [Longboat Observer, 9/26/01] Some question whether this was an assassination attempt modeled on the one used on Afghan leader Ahmed Massoud two days earlier (see September 9, 2001). [Time, 8/4/02 (B)] Longboat Key Fire Marshal Carroll Mooneyhan was reported to have overheard the conversation between the men and the Secret Service, but he later denies the report. The newspaper that reported this, the Longboat Observer stands by its story. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04] Witnesses recall seeing Mohamed Atta in the Longboat Key Holiday Inn a short distance from where Bush was staying as recently as September 7, the day Bush's Sarasota appearance was publicly announced. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04; Longboat Observer, 11/21/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Carroll Mooneyhan, Mohamed Atta, NBC, Secret Service

September 11, 2001: Two Hours Before Attacks, Israeli Company Employees Receive Warnings

Odigo's logo.
Two employees of Odigo, Inc., an Israeli company, receive warnings of an imminent attack in New York City about two hours before the first plane hits the WTC. Odigo, one of the world's largest instant messaging companies, has its headquarters two blocks from the WTC. The Odigo Research and Development offices where the warnings were received are located in Herzliyya, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Israeli security and the FBI were notified immediately after the 9/11 attacks began. The two employees claim not to know who sent the warnings. “Odigo service includes a feature called People Finder that allows users to seek out and contact others based on certain interests or demographics. [Alex] Diamandis [Odigo vice president of sales and marketing] said it was possible that the attack warning was broadcast to other Odigo members, but the company has not received reports of other recipients of the message.” [Washington Post, 9/27/01 (C); Ha'aretz, 9/26/01] Odigo claims the warning did not specifically mention the WTC, but the company refuses to divulge what was specified, claiming, “Providing more details would only lead to more conjecture.” [Washington Post, 9/28/01] Odigo gave the FBI the Internet address of the message's sender so the name of the sender could be found. [Deutsche Presse-Agenteur, 9/26/01] Two months later, it is reported that the FBI is still investigating the matter, but there have been no reports since. [Courier Mail, 11/20/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Israel, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Odigo Inc.

Early Morning September 11, 2001: Medic Is Studying a Medical Emergency Disaster Plan for a Plane Crash at the Pentagon

       Sergeant Matt Rosenberg, an army medic at the Pentagon, is studying “a new medical emergency disaster plan based on the unlikely scenario of an airplane crashing into the place.” [Washington Post, 9/16/01] The day before, Rosenberg later recalls in an interview with the Office of Medical History, he called the FBI with questions about who would have medical jurisdiction if such an event were to take place. “Believe it or not, the day prior to the incident, I was just on the phone with the FBI, and we were talking ‘so who has command should this happen, who has the medical jurisdiction, who does this, who does that,’ and we talked about it and talked about it, and he helped me out a lot. And then the next day, during the incident, I actually found him. He was out there on the incident that day.” [Office of Medical History, 9/04, pp 9]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, Federal Bureau of Investigation

(6:30 a.m.): NORAD on Alert for Emergency Exercises

Dawne Deskins.
Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins and other day shift employees at NEADS start their workday. NORAD is conducting a weeklong, large-scale exercise called Vigilant Guardian. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02] Deskins is regional mission crew chief for the Vigilant Guardian exercise. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Vigilant Guardian is described as “an exercise that would pose an imaginary crisis to North American Air Defense outposts nationwide”; as a “simulated air war”; and as “an air defense exercise simulating an attack on the United States.” According to the 9/11 Commission, it “postulated a bomber attack from the former Soviet Union.” [Newhouse News, 1/25/02; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 55 and 122; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/04, pp 458] Vigilant Guardian is described as being held annually, and is one of NORAD's four major annual exercises. [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 41; Code Names, by William M. Arkin, 1/05, pp 545; GlobalSecurity [.org] Vigilant Guardian page, 4/14/02] However, another report says it takes place semi-annually. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Accounts by participants vary on whether 9/11 was the second, third, or fourth day of the exercise. [Code One Magazine, 1/02; Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02; Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02] Vigilant Guardian is a command post exercise (CPX), and in at least some previous years was conducted in conjunction with Stratcom's Global Guardian exercise and a US Space Command exercise called Apollo Guardian. [Committee on Armed Services, undated; Code Names, by William M. Arkin, 1/05, pp 545; GlobalSecurity [.org] Vigilant Guardian page, 4/14/02] All of NORAD is participating in Vigilant Guardian on 9/11. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] At NEADS, most of the dozen or so staff on the operations floor have no idea what the exercise is going to entail and are ready for anything. [Utica Observer-Dispatch, 8/5/04] NORAD is also running a real-world operation named Operation Northern Vigilance. NORAD is thus fully staffed and alert, and senior officers are manning stations throughout the US. The entire chain of command is in place and ready when the first hijacking is reported. An article later says, “In retrospect, the exercise would prove to be a serendipitous enabler of a rapid military response to terrorist attacks on September 11.” [Bergen Record, 12/5/03; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Colonel Robert Marr, in charge of NEADS, says, “We had the fighters with a little more gas on board. A few more weapons on board.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] However, Deskins and other NORAD officials later are initially confused about whether the 9/11 attacks are real or part of the exercise. There is a National Reconnaissance Office exercise planned to occur as well (see 9:00 a.m.), involving a scenario of an airplane as a flying weapon. [Associated Press, 8/21/02; UPI, 8/22/02]
People and organizations involved: Northeast Air Defense Sector, Dawne Deskins, Robert Marr, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Vigilant Guardian, Operation Northern Vigilance

(6:30 a.m.): Hijackers Cause Scene in Airport, Have Pass to Restricted Airport Areas

       A man has an argument with five Middle Eastern men over a parking space in the parking lot of Boston's Logan Airport. He reports the event later in the day and officials discover that the car was rented by Mohamed Atta. Inside the car, police find a ramp pass, which allows access to restricted airport areas. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01; News of the World, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Logan Airport, Mohamed Atta

(6:31 a.m.): Bush Goes Jogging

The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, where Bush stays the night before 9/11.
President Bush goes for a four-mile jog around the golf course at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort. [MSNBC, 10/27/02; Washington Times, 10/7/02; Washington Post, 1/27/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

(6:45 a.m.): Israeli Company Given Two Hours' Notice of Attack

       “Approximately two hours prior to the first attack,” at least two workers at Odigo, an Israeli-owned instant messaging company, receive messages warning of the attack. Odigo's US headquarters are located two blocks from the WTC. The source of the warning is unknown. [Washington Post, 9/28/01; Ha'aretz, 9/26/01]
People and organizations involved: Odigo Inc., World Trade Center

6:47 a.m.: WTC Building 7 Alarm Not Operating

       According to later reports, the alarm system in WTC 7 is placed on “TEST” status for a period due to last eight hours. This ordinarily happens during maintenance or other testing, and any alarms received from the building are generally ignored. [Nist Progress Report, 6/04, pp 28]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center

6:50 a.m.: Hijacker's Connecting Flight Arrives in Boston

       Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari's Portland-Boston flight arrives on time at Boston's Logan Airport. [Der Spiegel, 2002]
People and organizations involved: Logan Airport, Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari

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

       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

7:18 a.m.: Hijack Suspects Set Off Airport Alarms; Allowed to Board Anyway

Hijackers in a Dulles Airport, Washington, security checkpoint, from left to right: Nawaf Alhazmi gets searched, Khalid Almihdhar, and Hani Hanjour. This picture of Hanjour doesn't seem to have much resemblance to the thin Hanjour in other photos.
According to a security video apparently viewed by the 9/11 Commission, Flight 77 hijackers Majed Moqed and Khalid Almihdhar pass through a security checkpoint at Washington's Dulles International Airport. They are selected by the CAPPS program for closer inspection. While their carry-on bags fail to set off any alarms, both set off alarms when passing through the magnetometer. They are directed to a second magnetometer. Almihdhar passes, but Moqed fails again. He is subjected to a personal screening with a metal detection hand wand. This time he is cleared and he is permitted to pass through the checkpoint. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that Almihdhar's passport was “suspicious” and 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]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Almihdhar, al-Qaeda, Majed Moqed, Washington Dulles International Airport

7:35 a.m.: More Hijackers Have Checkpoint Problems; Allowed to Board Anyway

Hijacker brothers Salem (white shirt) and Nawaf Alhazmi (dark shirt) pass through security in Dulles Airport in Washington.
According to the 9/11 Commission's review of airport security footage, the remaining three Flight 77 hijackers pass through a security checkpoint at Dulles Airport. Hani Hanjour is selected for further inspection by FAA's Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS) program. His two carry-on bags fail to set off any alarms. One minute later, Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi enter the same checkpoint. They are selected for further inspection because one of them does not have photo identification nor is able to understand English and a security agent finds both of them suspicious. [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23/04] Salem Alhazmi successfully clears the magnetometer, and he is permitted through the checkpoint. Nawaf Alhazmi sets off the alarms for both the first and second magnetometers. He is subsequently subjected to a personal screening with a metal detection hand wand. He finally passes. His shoulder strap carry-on bag is swiped by an explosive trace detector and returned without further inspection. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that the Alhazmi brothers' passports had suspicious indicators, and that they could have been linked to al-Qaeda upon closer inspection. [Baltimore Sun, 1/27/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] To date, video footage of the Flight 77 hijackers has been released to the public, but none of the footage of other hijackers going through security has been.
People and organizations involved: William Safire, Salem Alhazmi, al-Qaeda, Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, Nawaf Alhazmi, Washington Dulles International Airport

(7:45 a.m.): Hijack Suspects' Bags Contain Airline Uniforms

       Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari board Flight 11. Atta's bags are not loaded onto the plane in time and are later found by investigators. Investigators later find airline uniforms and many other remarkable items. [Boston Globe, 9/18/01] It is later reported that at least two other hijackers on Flight 11 use stolen uniforms and IDs to board the plane. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Abdulaziz Alomari, Mohamed Atta

(Before 7:59 a.m.): Inter Flight Phone Call Between Hijackers

       Hijacker Mohamed Atta on Flight 11 calls hijacker Marwan Alshehhi in Flight 175 as both planes sit on the runway. They presumably confirm the plot is on. [Time, 8/4/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta

(7:59 a.m.): Flight 11 Is Late Taking Off

       Flight 11 takes off from Boston's Logan Airport, 14 minutes after its scheduled 7:45 departure time. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01; ABC News, 7/18/02; Newsday, 9/10/02; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01; Guardian, 10/17/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission Report, Logan Airport

September 11, 2001: Intelligence Committee Chairs Meet with ISI Head and Possible 9/11 Attack Funder as the Attack Occurs

From left to right: Senator Bob Graham (D), Senator Jon Kyl (R), and Representative Porter Goss (R).
At the time of the attacks, ISI Director Mahmood is at a breakfast meeting at the Capitol with the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Senator Bob Graham (D) and Representative Porter Goss (R) (Goss is a 10-year veteran of the CIA's clandestine operations wing). The meeting is said to last at least until the second plane hits the WTC. [Washington Post, 5/18/02] Graham and Goss later co-head the joint House-Senate investigation into the 9/11 attacks, which has made headlines for saying there was no “smoking gun” of Bush knowledge before 9/11. [Washington Post, 7/11/02] Note that Senator Graham should have been aware of a report made to his staff the previous month (see Early August 2001) that one of Mahmood's subordinates had told a US undercover agent that the WTC would be destroyed. Evidence suggests that attendee Mahmood ordered that $100,000 be sent to hijacker Mohamed Atta. Also present at the meeting were Senator Jon Kyl (R) and the Pakistani ambassador to the US, Maleeha Lodhi. (All or virtually all of the people in this meeting had previously met in Pakistan just a few weeks earlier.) Senator Graham says of the meeting: “We were talking about terrorism, specifically terrorism generated from Afghanistan.” The New York Times reports that bin Laden was specifically discussed. [New York Times, 6/3/02; Vero Beach Press Journal, 9/12/01; Salon, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Bob Graham, Jon Kyl, Mahmood Ahmed, Maleeha Lodhi, Porter J. Goss, Osama bin Laden

(8:00 a.m.): Bush Receives Daily Intelligence Briefing

       President Bush sits down for his daily intelligence briefing. “The president's briefing appears to have included some reference to the heightened terrorist risk reported throughout the summer,” but it contained nothing serious enough to cause Bush to call National Security Adviser Rice. The briefing ends around 8:20 a.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice

8:01 a.m.: Flight 93 Is Delayed for 41 Minutes

       Flight 93 is delayed for 41 minutes on the runway in Newark, New Jersey. It will take off at 8:42 a.m. The Boston Globe credits this delay as a major reason why this was the only one of the four flights not to succeed in its mission. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01 (B); Boston Globe, 11/23/01; Newsweek, 9/22/01] Apparently, Flight 93 has to wait in a line of about a dozen planes before it can take off. [USA Today, 8/12/02]

September 11, 2001: The 9/11 Attack: 3,000 Die in New York City and Washington, D.C.

The September 11, 2001 attacks. From left to right: The World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 crash.
The 9/11 attack: Four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. Nearly 3,000 people are killed.
People and organizations involved: United Airlines, al-Qaeda, American Airlines, Pentagon, World Trade Center

(Between 8:13-8:21 a.m.): Flight 11 Transponder Turned Off

Flight controller Matt McCluskey stands in the Boston tower where the Flight 11 hijack was first detected.
Shortly after flight controllers ask Flight 11 to climb to 35,000 feet, the transponder stops transmitting. A transponder is an electronic device that identifies a plane on a controller's screen and gives its exact location and altitude. Among other vital functions, it is also used to transmit a four-digit emergency hijack code. Flight control manager Glenn Michael later says, “We considered it at that time to be a possible hijacking.” [MSNBC, 9/15/01; Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01; Associated Press, 8/12/02] Initial stories after 9/11 suggest the transponder is turned off around 8:13 a.m., but Pete Zalewski, the flight controller handling the flight, later says the transponder is turned off at 8:20 a.m. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] The 9/11 Commission places it at 8:21 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Colonel Robert Marr, head of NEADS, claims the transponder is turned off some time after 8:30 a.m. where the Flight 11 hijack was first detected a.m. [ABC News, 9/11/02]
People and organizations involved: Robert Marr, Glenn Michael, Pete Zalewski

(8:13 a.m.): Flight 11 Hijacked, but Pilot Makes No Distress Call

Flight 11's manifest. Such details on other flights haven't been released. One version of where the hijackers and murdered passenger Daniel Lewin sat is marked, but there are competing versions of the seat numbers.
The last routine communication takes place between ground control and the pilots of Flight 11 around this time. Flight controller Pete Zalewski is handling the flight. Pilot John Ogonowski responds when told to turn right, but immediately afterwards fails to respond to a command to climb. Zalewski repeatedly tries to reach the pilot, even using the emergency frequency, but gets no response. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01; New York Times, 10/16/01; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Flight 11 is apparently hijacked around this time. One flight controller says the plane is hijacked over Gardner, Massachusetts, less than 50 miles west of Boston. [Nashua Telegraph, 9/13/01] The Boston Globe notes, “It appears that the hijackers' entry was surprising enough that the pilots did not have a chance to broadcast a traditional distress call.” It would only have taken a few seconds to press the right buttons. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Yet flight attendant Amy Sweeney appears to witness three of the hijackers storming the cockpit around 8:20 a.m. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01 (C)] This would imply that, at most, one or two hijackers enter the cockpit at this time, before the others do.
People and organizations involved: Madeline ("Amy") Sweeney, Pete Zalewski

8:14 a.m.: Flight 175 Takes Off 16 Minutes Late

       Flight 175 takes off from Boston's Logan Airport, 16 minutes after its scheduled 7:58 departure time. [Washington Post, 9/12/01; CNN, 9/17/01; Guardian, 10/17/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); Newsday, 9/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Logan Airport

(After 8:14 a.m.-8:38 a.m.): Flight 11 Pilot Repeatedly Pushes Talk Back Button

John Ogonowski.
At some unknown point after the hijacking begins, the talkback button is activated, which enables Boston flight controllers to hear what is being said in the cockpit. It is unclear whether John Ogonowski, the pilot of Flight 11, activates the talkback button, or whether a hijacker accidentally does so when he takes over the cockpit. A controller later says, “The button [is] being pushed intermittently most of the way to New York.” An article later notes that “his ability to do so also indicates that he [is] in the driver's seat much of the way” to the WTC. Such transmissions continue until about 8:38 a.m. [MSNBC, 9/15/01; Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01]
People and organizations involved: Boston flight control, John Ogonowski

(8:15 a.m.): Flight Controllers Cannot Contact Flight 11

       Two Boston flight controllers, Pete Zalewski and Lino Martins, discuss the fact that Flight 11 cannot be contacted. Zalewski says to Martins, “He won't answer you. He's nordo [no radio] roger thanks.” [Guardian, 10/17/01; New York Times, 10/16/01 (C); CNN, 9/17/01; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Lino Martins, Pete Zalewski

(Before 8:20 a.m.): Hijackers Attack Passenger on Flight 77

Daniel Lewin.
Four hijackers get up from their seats and stab or shoot passenger Daniel Lewin, a multimillionaire who once belonged to the Israel Defense Force's Sayeret Matkal, a top-secret counterterrorist unit. Lewin is sitting in front of one of the three hijackers in business class. An initial FAA memo regarding the flight states that Satam Al Suqami shoots Lewin at 9:20 a.m. The time is certainly a typo; perhaps 8:20 a.m. is meant? The killing is mentioned in a phone call from the flight that starts at 8:20 a.m. [UPI, 3/6/02; ABC News, 7/18/02; Washington Post, 3/2/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Lewin, Satam Al Suqami

8:20 a.m.: Flight 11 IFF Signal Transmission Stops

       Flight 11 stops transmitting its IFF (identify friend or foe) beacon signal. [CNN, 9/17/01]

(8:20 a.m.): Boston Flight Control Thinks Flight 11 May Be Hijacked?

       According to some reports, Boston flight control decides that Flight 11 has probably been hijacked, but apparently, it does not notify other flight control centers for another five minutes, and does not notify NORAD for approximately 20 minutes. [Newsday, 9/23/01; New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] ABC News will later say, “There doesn't seem to have been alarm bells going off, [flight] controllers getting on with law enforcement or the military. There's a gap there that will have to be investigated.” [ABC News, 9/14/01] (Note the conflicting account at 8:21 a.m. (see (8:21 a.m.)))
People and organizations involved: Boston flight control

(8:20 a.m.): Flight 11 Veers Off Course

       Flight 11 starts to veer dramatically off course. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)]

(8:20 a.m.): Flight 77 Takes Off 10 Minutes Late

       Flight 77 departs Dulles International Airport near Washington, ten minutes after its 8:10 scheduled departure time. [CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01; Guardian, 10/17/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]

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

       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

(8:21 a.m.): Boston Controller Suspects Something Seriously Wrong with Flight 11, but NORAD Not Notified

       Boston flight controller Pete Zalewski, handling Flight 11, sees that the flight is off course and that the plane has turned off both transponder and radio. Zalewski later claims he turns to his supervisor and says, “Would you please come over here? I think something is seriously wrong with this plane. I don't know what. It's either mechanical, electrical, I think, but I'm not sure.” When asked if he suspected a hijacking at this point, he replies, “Absolutely not. No way.” According to the 9/11 Commission, “the supervisor instructed the controller [presumably Zalewski] to follow standard operating procedures for handling a ‘no radio’ aircraft once the controller told the supervisor the transponder had been turned off.” Another flight controller, Tom Roberts, has another nearby American Airlines Flight try to contact Flight 11. There is still no response. The flight is now “drastically off course” but NORAD is still not notified. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] Note that this response contradicts flight control manager Glenn Michael's assertion that Flight 11 was considered a possible hijacking as soon as the transponder was discovered turned off.
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Pete Zalewski, Tom Roberts, Glenn Michael

(8:21 a.m.): Flight 11 Attendant Ong Phones in Hijack Report, Officials Doubt Validity

Betty Ong.
Flight 11 attendant Betty Ong calls Vanessa Minter, an American Airlines reservations agent in North Carolina, using a seatback Airfone from the back of the plane. Ong speaks to Minter and an unidentified man for about two minutes. Then supervisor Nydia Gonzalez is patched in to the conference call as well. Ong says, “The cockpit's not answering. Somebody's stabbed in business class and ... I think there's mace ... that we can't breathe. I don't know, I think We're getting hijacked.” A minute later, she continues, “And the cockpit is not answering their phone. And there's somebody stabbed in business class. And there's ... we can't breathe in business class. Somebody's got mace or something ... I'm sitting in the back. Somebody's coming back from business. If you can hold on for one second, they're coming back.” As this quote shows, other flight attendants relay information from the front of the airplane to Ong sitting in the back, and she periodically waits for updates. She goes on, “I think the guys are up there [in the cockpit]. They might have gone there—jammed the way up there, or something. Nobody can call the cockpit. We can't even get inside.” The first four and a half minutes of the call is later played in a public 9/11 Commission hearing. Ong apparently continues speaking to Gonzalez and Minter until the plane crashes. [New York Observer, 2/11/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey, who has heard more recordings than have been made public, says that some officials on the ground greet her account skeptically: “They did not believe her. They said, ‘Are you sure?’ They asked her to confirm that it wasn't air-rage. Our people on the ground were not prepared for a hijacking.” [New York Times, 4/18/04 Sources: Bob Kerrey]
People and organizations involved: Betty Ong, Nydia Gonzalez, Vanessa Minter

8:21 a.m.: Sweeney's Call Reaches American Headquarters, but Managers Cover Up the News

Amy (Madeline) Sweeney.
American Airlines Flight service manager Michael Woodward is listening to Flight 11 attendant Amy Sweeney on the telephone, and he wants to pass on the information he is hearing from her. Since there is no tape recorder, he calls Nancy Wyatt, the supervisor of pursers at Logan Airport. Holding telephones in both hands, he repeats to Wyatt everything that Sweeney is saying to him. Wyatt in turn simultaneously transmits his account to the airline's Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters. The conversation between Wyatt and managers at headquarters is recorded. All vital details from Sweeney's call reach American Airlines' top management almost instantly. However, according to victims' relatives who later hear this recording, the two managers at headquarters immediately begin discussing a cover-up of the hijacking details. They say, “don't spread this around. Keep it close,” “Keep it quiet,” and “Let's keep this among ourselves. What else can we find out from our own sources about what's going on?” One former American Airlines employee who has also heard this recording recalls, “In Fort Worth, two managers in SOC [Systems Operations Control] were sitting beside each other and hearing it. They were both saying, ‘Do not pass this along. Let's keep it right here. Keep it among the five of us.’ ” Apparently, this decision prevents early and clear evidence of a hijacking from being shared during the crisis. Gerard Arpey, American Airlines' executive vice president for operations, soon hears details of the hijacking from flight attendant Betty Ong's phone call (see (8:21 a.m.)) at 8:30 a.m. (see 8:30 a.m.), but apparently, he does not learn of Sweeney's call until much later. Victims' relatives will later question whether lives could have been saved if only this information had been quickly shared with other airplanes. [New York Observer, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, Nancy Wyatt, Michael Woodward, Madeline ("Amy") Sweeney

(8:22 a.m.): Flight 11 Attendant Sweeney Phones in Hijacking Details

Flight attendants Karen Martin and Barbara Arestegui are apparently stabbed early in the hijacking of Flight 11.
Flight 11 attendant Amy (Madeline) Sweeney borrows a calling card from flight attendant Sara Low and uses an Airfone to try to call the American Airlines flight services office at Boston's Logan Airport. She makes her first attempt at 8:22 a.m., but this quickly disconnects, as does a second attempt at 8:24. Further attempts at 8:25 and 8:29 are cut off after she reports someone hurt on the flight. The respondent to the call mistakenly thinks Sweeney's flight number that she reports is 12. Hearing there is a problem with an American Airlines plane, Michael Woodward, an American Airlines flight service manager, goes to American's gate area at the airport with a colleague, and realizes Flight 12 has not yet departed. He returns to the office to try to clarify the situation, then takes the phone and speaks to Sweeney himself. Because Woodward and Sweeney are friends, he does not have to verify the call is not a hoax. The call is not recorded, but Woodward takes detailed notes. According to the 9/11 Commission, the call between them lasts about 12 minutes, from 8:32 a.m. to 8:44 a.m. Accounts prior to the 9/11 Commission report spoke of one continuous call from around 8:20. [ABC News, 7/18/02; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, pp. 6 and 453; New York Observer, 2/11/04] Sweeney calmly tells Woodward, “Listen, and listen to me very carefully. I'm on Flight 11. The airplane has been hijacked.” [ABC News, 7/18/02] According to one account, she gives him the seat locations of three hijackers: 9D, 9G, and 10B. She says they are all of Middle Eastern descent, and one speaks English very well. [New York Observer, 2/11/04] Another account states that she identifies four hijackers (but still not the five said to be on the plane), and notes that not all the seats she gave matched up with the seats assigned to the hijackers on their tickets. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01 (C); ABC News, 7/18/02] She says she cannot contact the cockpit, and does not believe the pilots are flying the plane any longer. [New York Observer, 2/11/04] According to a later Los Angeles Times report, “Even as she was relating details about the hijackers, the men were storming the front of the plane and ‘had just gained access to the cockpit,’ ” (Note that Sweeney witnesses the storming of the cockpit at least seven minutes after radio contact from Flight 11 stops and at least one of the hijackers begins taking control of the cockpit.) [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01 (C)] She says the hijackers have stabbed the two first-class flight attendants, Barbara Arestegui and Karen Martin. She adds, “A hijacker cut the throat of a business-class passenger [later identified as Daniel Lewin], and he appears to be dead (see (Before 8:20 a.m.)).” She also says the hijackers have brought a bomb into the cockpit. Woodward asks Sweeney, “How do you know it's a bomb?” She answers, “Because the hijackers showed me a bomb.” She describes its yellow and red wires. Sweeney continues talking with Woodward until Flight 11 crashes. [New York Observer, 2/11/04; Boston Globe, 11/23/01]
People and organizations involved: Sara Low, Madeline ("Amy") Sweeney, Michael Woodward, Barbara Arestegui, Karen Martin, Daniel Lewin

(8:23 a.m.): Flight 11 Attendant Ong's Hijacking Account Forwarded to American Airlines Headquarters

       Nydia Gonzalez, an American Airlines supervisor with expertise on security matters, is patched in to a call with flight attendant Betty Ong on Flight 11. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] At 8:27 a.m., Gonzalez calls Craig Marquis, a manager at American Airlines' headquarters. Gonzalez holds the phone to Ong to one ear, and the phone to Marquis to the other. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01; New York Observer, 2/11/04] Gonzalez talks to Marquis continuously until Flight 11 crashes. The first four minutes of this call are later played before the 9/11 Commission. Marquis quickly says, “I'm assuming they've declared an emergency. Let me get ATC [air traffic control] on here. Stand by. ... Okay, We're contacting the flight crew now and We're ... We're also contacting ATC.” In the four recorded minutes, Gonzalez relays that Ong is saying the hijackers from seats 2A and 2B are in the cockpit with the pilots. There are no doctors on board. All the first class passengers have been moved to the coach section. The airplane is flying very erratically. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04]
People and organizations involved: Betty Ong, Nydia Gonzalez, American Airlines, Craig Marquis

(8:24 a.m.): Boston Flight Controllers Hear Flight 11 Hijacker: We Have Some Planes

       Because the talkback button on Flight 11 has been activated, Boston flight controllers can hear a hijacker on Flight 11 say to the passengers: “We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you will be OK. We are returning to the airport.” Flight controller Pete Zalewski responds, “Who's trying to call me?” The hijacker continues, “Everything will be OK. If you try to make any moves you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.” [Boston Globe, 11/23/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Guardian, 10/17/01; New York Times, 10/16/01; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); New York Times, 9/12/01; Channel 4 News, 9/13/01] Immediately after hearing this voice, Zalewski “knew right then that he was working a hijack” and calls for his supervisor. The frequency of Flight 11 is played on speakers so everyone in Boston flight control can hear. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); Village Voice, 9/13/01]
People and organizations involved: Boston flight control, Pete Zalewski

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

       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

8:25 a.m.: Boston Flight Control Tells Other Centers About Hijack, but Not NORAD

       The Guardian reports that Boston flight control “notifies several air traffic control centers that a hijack is taking place.” But it does not notify NORAD for another 6-15 minutes, depending on the account. [Guardian, 10/17/01] However, the Indianapolis flight controller monitoring Flight 77 claims to not know about this or Flight 175's hijacking twenty minutes later at 8:56 a.m. Additionally, the flight controllers at New York City's La Guardia airport are never told about the hijacked planes and learn about them from watching the news. [Bergen Record, 1/4/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, La Guardia Airport, Boston flight control

(Before 8:26 a.m.): Hijackers Identified by Seat Locations

       Having been told by flight attendant Amy Sweeney the seat locations of three hijackers (see (8:22 a.m.)), American Airlines Flight service manager Michael Woodward orders a colleague at Boston's Logan Airport to look up those seat locations on the reservations computer. The names, addresses, phone numbers, and credit cards of these hijackers are quickly identified: Abdulaziz Alomari is in 9G, Mohamed Atta is in 9D, and Satam Al Suqami is in 10B. 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey notes that from this information, American Airlines officials monitoring the call would probably have known or assumed right away that the hijacking was connected to al-Qaeda. [New York Observer, 2/11/04; ABC News, 7/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Bob Kerrey, Mohamed Atta, Satam Al Suqami, Michael Woodward, Abdulaziz Alomari, al-Qaeda

(Between 8:27-8:30 a.m.): Ong Gives Flight 11 Details; Seating Accounts Differ

       Craig Marquis, listening to information coming from flight attendant Betty Ong on Flight 11, calls American Airlines' system operations control center in Fort Worth. He says, “She said two flight attendants had been stabbed, one was on oxygen. A passenger had his throat slashed and looked dead and they had gotten into the cockpit.” He relays that Ong said the four hijackers had come from first-class seats: 2A, 2B, 9A, and 9B. She said the wounded passenger was in seat 10B. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Note that this conflicts with the seats flight attendant Amy Sweeney gives for the hijackers at about the same time (see (Before 8:26 a.m.)): 9D, 9G, and 10B. By 8:27 a.m., this information is passed to Gerard Arpey, the effective head of American Airlines that morning. By 9:59 a.m., counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and other top officials receive the information. [Clarke, 2004, pp 13-14]
People and organizations involved: Betty Ong, Craig Marquis, Gerard Arpey, Richard A. Clarke, American Airlines

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

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

(8:28 a.m.): Flight 11 Is a Confirmed Hijacking; NORAD Still Not Notified

       American Airlines manager Craig Marquis is talking to Nydia Gonzalez, who in turn is talking to flight attendant Betty Ong on Flight 11. Marquis says, “We contacted air traffic control, they are going to handle this as a confirmed hijacking. So they're moving all the traffic out of this aircraft's way. ... He turned his transponder off, so we don't have a definitive altitude for him. We're just going by ... They seem to think that they have him on a primary radar. They seem to think that he is descending.” This transmission further indicates that Boston flight control believes that Flight 11 has been hijacked by this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04]
People and organizations involved: Boston flight control, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Nydia Gonzalez, Betty Ong, Craig Marquis

8:30 a.m.: Army Base Near Pentagon Holds Terrorist Attack Exercise

       At Fort Belvoir, an army base 10 miles south of the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Mark R. Lindon is conducting a “garrison control exercise” when the 9/11 attacks begin. The object of this exercise is to “test the security at the base in case of a terrorist attack.” Lindon later says, “I was out checking on the exercise and heard about the World Trade Center on my car radio. As soon as it was established that this was no accident, we went to a complete security mode.” Staff Sgt. Mark Williams of the Military District of Washington Engineer Company at Fort Belvoir also later says: “Ironically, we were conducting classes about rescue techniques when we were told of the planes hitting the World Trade Center.” Williams' team is one of the first response groups to arrive at the site of the Pentagon crash and one of the first to enter the building following the attack. [Connection Newspapers, 9/5/02] A previous MASCAL (mass casualty) training exercise was held at Fort Belvoir a little over two months earlier (see July 2001). It was “designed to enhance the first ready response in dealing with the effects of a terrorist incident involving an explosion.” [MDW News Service, 7/5/01]
People and organizations involved: Fort Belvoir, World Trade Center, Mark Williams, Mark R. Lindon

8:30 a.m.: FBI/CIA Anti-Terrorist Task Force Away From Washington on Training Exercise in California

       USA Today reports that at this time, “a joint FBI/CIA anti-terrorist task force that specifically prepared for this type of disaster” is on a “training exercise in Monterey, Calif.” Consequently, “as of late Tuesday, with airports closed around the country, the task force still [hasn]'t found a way to fly back to Washington.” [USA Today, 9/11/01] The US politics website adds that the FBI has deployed “all of its anti-terrorist and top special operations agents at a training exercise (complete with all associated helicopters and light aircraft) in Monterey, California.” So at the time of the attacks, “the chief federal agency responsible for preventing such crimes [is] being AWOL.” [Evote [.com], 9/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation

8:30 a.m.: US Military Holding ‘Practice Armageddon’ Nationwide Training Exercise

       As the 9/11 attacks are taking place, a large military training exercise called Global Guardian is said to be “in full swing.” It has been going on since the previous week. [Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02] Global Guardian is an annual exercise sponsored by US Strategic Command (Stratcom) in cooperation with US Space Command and NORAD. One military author defines Stratcom as “the single US military command responsible for the day-to-day readiness of America's nuclear forces.” [Arkin, 2005, pp 59] Global Guardian is a global readiness exercise involving all Stratcom forces and aims to test Stratcom's ability to fight a nuclear war. It is one of many “practice Armageddons” that the US military routinely stages. [Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02; Associated Press, 2/21/02 (B); Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/12/97] It links with a number of other military exercises, including Crown Vigilance (an Air Combat Command exercise), Apollo Guardian (a US Space Command exercise), and NORAD exercises Vigilant Guardian and Amalgam Warrior [Defense Department, 5/97; GlobalSecurity [.org], 10/10/02] Global Guardian is both a command post and field training exercise, and is based around a fictitious scenario designed to test the ability of Stratcom and its component forces to deter a military attack against the US. Hundreds of military personnel are involved. [Committee on Armed Services, 2000; Times-Picayune, 9/8/02; Collins Center, 12/99] According to a 1998 Internet article by the British American Security Information Council—an independent research organization—Global Guardian is held in October or November each year. [BASIC, 10/98] In his book Code Names, NBC News military analyst William Arkin dates this exercise for October 22-31, 2001. [Arkin, 2005, pp 379] And a military newspaper reported in March 2001 that Global Guardian was scheduled for October 2001. [Space Observer, 3/23/01, pp 2] If this is correct, then some time after March, the exercise must have been rescheduled for early September. Furthermore, there may be another important facet to Global Guardian. A 1998 Defense Department newsletter reported that for several years Stratcom had been incorporating a computer network attack (CNA) into Global Guardian. The attack involved Stratcom “red team” members and other organizations acting as enemy agents, and included attempts to penetrate the Command using the Internet and a “bad” insider who had access to a key command and control system. The attackers “war dialed” the phones to tie them up and sent faxes to numerous fax machines throughout the Command. They also claimed they were able to shut down Stratcom's systems. Reportedly, Stratcom planned to increase the level of computer network attack in future Global Guardian exercises. [IAnewsletter, 6/98] It is not currently known if a computer attack was incorporated into Global Guardian in 2001 or what its possible effects on the country's air defense system would have been if such an attack was part of the exercise.
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Department of Defense, US Space Command, Global Guardian, Amalgam Warrior, Apollo Guardian, US Strategic Command, Crown Vigilance, Vigilant Guardian

(8:30 a.m.): Some US Leaders Are Scattered; Others in D.C.

Secretary of State Colin Powell leaves his Lima, Peru hotel after hearing the news.
Just prior to learning about the 9/11 attacks, top US leaders are scattered across the country and overseas:
President Bush is in Sarasota, Florida. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Secretary of State Powell is in Lima, Peru. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

General Henry Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is flying across the Atlantic on the way to Europe. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Attorney General Ashcroft is flying to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh is at a conference in Montana. [ABC News, 9/14/02 (B)]
Others are in Washington:
Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice are at their offices in the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is at his office in the Pentagon, meeting with a delegation from Capitol Hill. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

CIA Director Tenet is at breakfast with his old friend and mentor, former senator David Boren (D), at the St. Regis Hotel, three blocks from the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

FBI Director Mueller is in his office at FBI Headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is at his office at the Department of Transportation. [Senate Commerce Committee, 9/20/01]

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is at a conference in the Ronald Reagan Building three blocks from the White House. [Clarke, 2004, pp 1]

People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, Henry H. Shelton, Robert S. Mueller III, Condoleezza Rice, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Joeseph M. Allbaugh, Richard A. Clarke, Norman Mineta, Donald Rumsfeld, David Boren, Colin Powell, George Tenet, George W. Bush

8:30 a.m.: FAA Hijack Coordinator Responsible For Contacting Military is Out of Contact

Mike Canavan testifying before the 9/11 Commission.
Protocols in place on 9/11 state that if the FAA requests the military to go after an airplane, “the escort service will be requested by the FAA hijack coordinator by direct contact with the National Military Command Center (NMCC).” [FAA, 11/3/98] Acting FAA Deputy Administrator Monty Belger states essentially the same thing to the 9/11 Commission, “The official protocol on that day was for the FAA headquarters, primarily through the hijack coordinator ... to request assistance from the NMCC if there was a need for DOD assistance.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 Sources: Monty Belger] However, the hijack coordinator, FAA Office of Civil Aviation Security Director Mike Canavan, is in Puerto Rico and claims to have missed out on “everything that transpired that day.” The 9/11 Commission fails to ask him if he had delegated that task to anyone else while he was gone. [9/11 Commission, 5/23/03; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04, pp 17]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission Report, Mike Canavan, Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center

8:30 a.m.: Rookie in Command of the NMCC

Captain Charles Leidig.
Captain Charles Leidig, the deputy for Command Center operations at the NMCC, takes over temporarily from Brigadier General Montague Winfield and is effectively in charge of NMCC during the 9/11 crisis. Winfield had requested the previous day that Leidig stand in for him on September 11. Leidig had started his role as Deputy for Command Center Operations two months earlier and had qualified to stand in for Winfield just the previous month. Leidig remains in charge from a few minutes before the 9/11 crisis begins until about 10:30 a.m., after the last hijacked plane crashes. He presides over an important crisis response teleconference that has a very slow start, not even beginning until 9:39 a.m. [Leidig Testimony, 6/17/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Montague Winfield, Charles Leidig

8:30 a.m.: American Airlines Vice President Informed of Hijacking

Gerard Arpey.
Gerard Arpey (American Airlines' executive vice president for operations) learns from manager Joe Burdepelly that Flight 11 may have been hijacked. Burdepelly tells Arpey that he has been told that another manager, Craig Marquis, is in contact with flight attendant Betty Ong on the hijacked flight. Arpey learns that Ong has said two other attendants have been stabbed, that two or three passengers are in the cockpit, and more. Arpey is the effective head of American Airlines during the early phase of the crisis, because the company's president is still at home and out of contact. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] At some point before Flight 11 crashes, Arpey is told about the “We have some planes” comment made by the hijackers. [USA Today, 8/13/02]
People and organizations involved: Betty Ong, Gerard Arpey, Craig Marquis, Joe Burdepelly, American Airlines

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

       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

       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

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

       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

(8:34 a.m.): Atlantic City Fighters Not Reached; Not Redeployed Until Much Later

       Around this time, Boston flight control attempts to contact an Atlantic City, New Jersey, air base, to send fighters after Flight 11. For decades, the air base had two fighters on 24-hour alert status, but this changed in 1998 due to budget cutbacks. The flight controllers do not realize this, and apparently try in vain to reach someone. Two F-16s from this base are practicing bombing runs over an empty stretch of the Pine Barrens near Atlantic City. Only eight minutes away from New York City, they are not alerted to the emerging crisis. Shortly after the second WTC crash at 9:03 a.m., the two F-16s are ordered to land and are refitted with air-to-air missiles, then sent aloft. However, the pilots re-launch more than an hour after the second crash. They are apparently sent to Washington, but do not reach there until almost 11:00 a.m. After 9/11, one newspaper questions why NORAD “left what seems to be a yawning gap in the midsection of its air defenses on the East Coast—a gap with New York City at the center.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Bergen Record, 12/5/03] Had these two fighters been notified at 8:37 a.m. or before, they could have reached New York City before Flight 11.
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Boston flight control

(8:35 a.m.): Sweeney Continues to Provide Flight 11 Updates

       Flight attendant Amy Sweeney continues to describe what is happening onboard Flight 11 to Michael Woodward at Logan Airport. At some point prior to this, she explains that flight attendants are giving injured people oxygen. They have made an announcement over the PA system asking if there is a doctor or nurse on board. Sweeney is calling from the rear of the coach section. She explains that the passengers in coach, separated by curtains from the violence in first class, are calm, believing that there is some type of medical emergency at the front of the plane. Then, at this time, the plane suddenly lurches, tilting all the way to one side, then becomes horizontal again. Then she says it begins a rapid descent. She tries to contact the cockpit again, but still gets no response. [ABC News, 7/18/02; New York Observer, 2/11/04]
People and organizations involved: Madeline ("Amy") Sweeney, Michael Woodward

(8:35 a.m.): Bush Motorcade Leaves for Elementary School

The destination of Bush's motorcade is Booker Elementary School.
President Bush's motorcade leaves for Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. [Washington Times, 10/7/02; Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01; BBC, 9/1/02; Washington Post, 1/27/02] His official schedule had him leaving at 8:30. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04] He said farewell to the management at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort at 8:20 a.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

(8:36 a.m.): Flight 11 Attendants Ong and Sweeney Report Plane Maneuvers

       On Flight 11, flight attendant Betty Ong reports that the plane tilts all the way on one side and then becomes horizontal again. Flight attendant Amy Sweeney reports that the plane has begun a rapid descent. [ABC News, 7/18/02] Sweeney also says that the hijackers are Middle Easterners. [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Madeline ("Amy") Sweeney, Betty Ong

(After 8:37 a.m.): NORAD Scramble Order Moves Through Official and Unofficial Channels

NORAD commander Larry Arnold.
NORAD gives the command to scramble fighters after Flight 11 after receiving Boston's call. Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins at NEADS tells Colonel Robert Marr, head of NEADS, “I have FAA on the phone, the shout line, Boston [flight control]. They said they have a hijacked aircraft.” Marr then calls Major General Larry Arnold at NORAD's Command Center in Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and says, “Boss, I need to scramble [fighters at] Otis [Air National Guard Base].” Arnold recalls, “I said go ahead and scramble them, and we'll get the authorities later.” Arnold then calls the operations deputy at NORAD's Colorado headquarters to report. The operations deputy tells him, “Yeah, we'll work this with the National Military Command Center. Go ahead and scramble the aircraft.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 56; ABC News, 9/11/02] Then, upon receiving this authorization from Larry Arnold, NEADS calls Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek at NORAD's Colorado headquarters. Jellinek is sitting near Canadian Air Force Major General Rick Findley, director of combat operations there. Findley's staff is “already on high alert” because of Vigilant Guardian and Operation Northern Vigilance, a training exercise and a NORAD operation that are currently in progress. Jellinek gets the thumbs up authorization from Findley to send fighters after Flight 11. Yet, according to the 1st Air Force's own book about 9/11, the “sector commander [at NEADS] would have authority to scramble the airplanes.” Military controllers at NEADS are only a hot line call away from the pilots on immediate alert. Why NEADS calls NORAD's Command Center at Tyndall, then NORAD's Colorado headquarters, to get authorization to launch fighters after Flight 11, is unclear. Rick Findley later states, “At that point all we thought was we've got an airplane hijacked and we were going to provide an escort as requested. We certainly didn't know it was going to play out as it did.” Findley remains in charge of NORAD headquarters while his staff feeds information to NORAD Commander in Chief Ralph Eberhart, who is stationed in Florida. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 11/27/01; Toledo Blade, 12/9/01; Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp. 50-52]
People and organizations involved: Dawne Deskins, Rick Findley, 9/11 Commission Report, Ralph Eberhart, Larry Arnold, Operation Northern Vigilance, Federal Aviation Administration, Mike Jellinek, National Military Command Center, Robert Marr

8:37 a.m.: Flight 11 Enters New York Control Space

       Flight 11 passes from Boston flight control airspace into New York flight control airspace. Flight controller John Hartling takes over monitoring the plane. However, when a colleague tells him the flight is hijacked, he is incredulous: “I didn't believe him. Because I didn't think that that stuff would happen anymore, especially in this country.” [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, John Hartling

8:37 a.m.: Flight 175 Pilots Asked to Look for Flight 11

       Flight controllers ask the United Airlines Flight 175 pilots to look for a lost American Airlines plane 10 miles to the south—a reference to Flight 11. They respond that they can see it. They are told to keep away from it. [Guardian, 10/17/01; Boston Globe, 11/23/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Apparently, Flight 175 is not told Flight 11 has been hijacked. Flight 175 itself is hijacked a few minutes later (see 8:41 a.m.).

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

       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 8:37 a.m.: Otis Commander Phones NEADS for Authorization to Launch Fighters

       Following a call from an FAA controller at Boston to the control tower at Otis Air National Guard Base reporting the possible hijacking of Flight 11 (see 8:34 a.m.), Lt. Col. Jon Treacy, commander of the 101st Fighter Squadron at Otis, phones NEADS to report the FAA's request for help, and get authorization to launch fighters. By now though, the FAA has already gotten through to NEADS themselves, and reported the hijacking (see (8:37 a.m.)). [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 50]
People and organizations involved: Northeast Air Defense Sector, Jon Treacy, Otis Air National Guard Base, Federal Aviation Administration

(8:37 a.m.): Boston Flight Control Notifies NORAD; Timing Disputed

Jeremy Powell.
According to the 9/11 Commission, Boston flight control contacts NEADS at this time. This is apparently the first successful notification to the military about the crisis. Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Powell, a member of the Air National Guard at NEADS, initially takes the call from Boston flight control. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02] Boston flight control says, “Hi. Boston [flight control], we have a problem here. We have a hijacked aircraft headed toward New York, and we need you guys to, we need someone to scramble some F-16s or something up there, help us out.” Powell replies, “Is this real-world or exercise?” Boston answers, “No, this is not an exercise, not a test.” [BBC, 9/1/02; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Powell gives the phone to Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins, regional Mission Crew Chief for the Vigilant Guardian exercise. Deskins later says that initially she and “everybody” else at NEADS thinks the call is part of Vigilant Guardian. After the phone call, she has to clarify to everyone that it is not a drill. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold in Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, also says that when he hears of the hijacking at this time, “The first thing that went through my mind was, is this part of the exercise? Is this some kind of a screw-up?” [ABC News, 9/11/02] Deskins recalls, “I picked up the line and I identified myself to the Boston [flight] controller, and he said, we have a hijacked aircraft and I need to get you some sort of fighters out here to help us out.” However, the timing of this vital notification is in some dispute. Deskins herself claimed the call occurred at 8:31 a.m. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Another report later states, “Shortly after 8:30 a.m., behind the scenes, word of a possible hijacking [reaches] various stations of NORAD.” [ABC News, 9/14/02] FAA Administrator Jane Garvey later testifies that the FAA notified NORAD at 8:34 a.m. [New York Times, 12/30/03] NORAD on the other hand, originally claimed they were first notified at 8:40 a.m., and this was widely reported in the media prior to the 9/11 Commission's 2004 report. [Newsday, 9/10/02; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); BBC, 9/1/02; NORAD, 9/18/01] If the 8:37 a.m. time is accurate, then flight controllers failed to notify NORAD until approximately 13 minutes after the hijackers in the cockpit clearly stated that the plane had been hijacked at 8:24 a.m.; 17 minutes after the transponder signal was lost and the flight goes far off course; and 24 minutes after radio contact was lost at 8:13 a.m.
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Vigilant Guardian, Jane Garvey, Jeremy Powell, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Boston flight control, Dawne Deskins, Larry Arnold

(8:38 a.m.): Flight 11 Pilot Stops Activating Talk Back Button

       The talkback button on Flight 11, which has been periodically activated since around 8:14 a.m., stops around this time. Some have suggested that this indicates that the hijackers replace pilot John Ogonowski at this time. [MSNBC, 9/15/01; Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01]
People and organizations involved: John Ogonowski

(8:40 a.m.): ‘Hubbub’ at NEADS Headquarters

       At NEADS, a huddle of people is gathered around one of their radar scopes. NEADS Commander Robert Marr initially thinks this hubbub is part of the NORAD training exercise (presumably Vigilant Guardian). He says, “I've seen many exercises � and as I saw that huddle I said, ‘There's got to be something wrong, something is happening here.’ You usually see that whenever they find a track on the scope that looks unusual; it's usually an indicator that something is getting ready to kick off.” He sends Lt. Colonel Dawne Deskins, the regional mission crew commander for the exercise, to check it out. According to Marr, she comes running back with urgency in her voice: The FAA needs help with a possibly hijacked civilian airliner that has just disappeared from the radar scope and was heading toward New York. [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 55] Presumably it is while she is checking out this 'hubbub' that Deskins speaks over the phone with FAA's Boston Control Center about the first hijacking (see (8:37 a.m.)). According to the 9/11 Commission, this call to NEADS begins at 8:37:52 a.m. However, Deskins has given the time for the call at 8:31 a.m.(see (8:37 a.m.)). [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Northeast Air Defense Sector, Federal Aviation Administration, Dawne Deskins, Robert Marr, Vigilant Guardian

(8:40 a.m.): Fighter Pilots Unofficially Told to Get Ready to Scramble After Flight 11

Major Daniel Nash.
Major Daniel Nash (codenamed Nasty) and Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Duffy (codenamed Duff ) are the two F-15 pilots who would scramble after Flight 11 and then Flight 175. Apparently, they get several informal calls warning to get ready. According to Nash, at this time, a colleague at the Otis Air National Guard Base tells him that a flight out of Boston has been hijacked, and that he should be on alert. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] NEADS senior technician Jeremy Powell (informed about the hijacking at 8:37 a.m.), says that he telephones Otis Air National Guard Base soon thereafter to tell it to upgrade its “readiness posture.” [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02] Colonel Robert Marr, head of NEADS, also says that after being told of the hijacking at 8:37 a.m., he says, “I'll call First Air Force [at Otis] and let them know we've got a potential incident.” [BBC, 9/1/02] Boston flight control had tried calling the Otis base directly at 8:34 a.m., although the result of that call remains unclear. Duffy recalls being warned: “I was just standing up by the ops desk and I was told I had a phone call. I asked who it was and they said the [Boston] tower calling and something about a hijacking. It was Flight American 11, a 767, out of Boston going to California. At the time we ran in and got suited up.” [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02; BBC, 9/1/02; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Duffy says, “Halfway to the jets, we got ‘battle stations’ ... which means to get ready for action.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] The actual scramble order does not come until the pilots are already waiting in the fighters: “We went out, we hopped in the jets and we were ready to go—standby for a scramble order if we were going to get one.” [BBC, 9/1/02] Duffy continues, “I briefed Nasty on the information I had about the American Airlines Flight. About four-five minutes later, we got the scramble order and took off.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] However, the official notification to scramble these fighters does not come until 8:46 a.m. The six-minute (or more) delay between unofficial and official notification has not been explained.
People and organizations involved: Boston flight control, Otis Air National Guard Base, Robert Marr, Jeremy Powell, Daniel Nash, Timothy Duffy

8:41 a.m.: Flight 175 Reports Suspicious Flight 11 Radio Transmission; Hijacked Moments Later

       The pilots of Flight 175 tell ground control about Flight 11, “We figured we'd wait to go to your center. We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure out of Boston. Someone keyed the mic and said, ‘Everyone stay in your seats.’ It cut out.” [Guardian, 10/17/01; Newsday, 9/10/02; New York Times, 10/16/01] An alternate version: “We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure from B-O-S [Boston's airport code]. Sounds like someone keyed the mic and said, ‘Everyone, stay in your seats.’ ” [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] The last transmission from Flight 175, still discussing this message, comes a few seconds before 8:42 a.m. [New York Times, 10/16/01] Presumably Flight 175 is hijacked within the next minute.

8:41 a.m.: New York Flight Control Knows Flight 11 Has Been Hijacked

       Flight 175 flies into New York flight control airspace. Dave Bottoglia takes over monitoring the flight. Bottoglia has just been told by the pilot of Flight 175 that he has heard threatening communications from Flight 11. Seconds later, a controller sitting next to Bottoglia gets up and points to a radar blip. He says, “You see this target here? This is American 11. Boston [flight control] thinks it's a hijack.” John Hartling has been watching the hijacked Flight 11 since 8:37 a.m. Bottoglia joins Hartling in watching Flight 11's blip until it disappears over New York City. He does not pay attention to Flight 175 for several minutes. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] The New York flight control center was notified of Flight 11's hijacking around 8:25 a.m.
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, John Hartling, Dave Bottoglia

(8:42 a.m.): Flight 93 Takes Off 41 Minutes Late

       Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport, bound for San Francisco, California. It leaves 41 minutes late because of heavy runway traffic. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); MSNBC, 9/3/02; Newsweek, 9/22/01]

8:43 a.m.: NORAD Notified That Flight 175 Has Been Hijacked

National Guard troops stationed at NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, New York.
After 9/11, NORAD and other sources claim that NORAD is notified at this time Flight 175 has been hijacked. [Newsday, 9/10/02; Associated Press, 8/19/02; NORAD, 9/18/01; CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01] The 9/11 Commission, however, later concludes that New York flight control gives NEADS its first notification that Flight 175 has been hijacked at 9:03 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] If this earlier account is the accurate one, NEADS technicians learn of the hijacking at the exact same time the flight controllers do. They already have their headsets linked to Boston flight control to track Flight 11 at this time,and so they learn instantly about Flight 175. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Northeast Air Defense Sector, New York flight control

8:44 a.m.: Other Pilots Notice Flight 175's Emergency Signal

       The pilot of US Airlines Flight 583 tells an unidentified flight controller, regarding Flight 175, “I just picked up an ELT [emergency locator transmitter] on 121.5. It was brief but it went off.” The controller responds, “O.K. they said it's confirmed believe it or not as a thing, We're not sure yet...” One minute later, another pilot says, “We picked up that ELT, too, but it's very faint.” [New York Times, 10/16/01 (B)] Flight 175 appears to have been the only trigger of any emergency signal on 9/11. It is possible the ELT came from Flight 11 instead.

(8:45-8:46 a.m.): Flight 11 Attendants Calm as End Approaches

       Flight attendant Amy Sweeney is still on the phone with Michael Woodward, describing conditions on Flight 11. The plane is nearing New York City, but the coach section passengers are still quiet, apparently unaware a hijacking is in progress. Woodward asks Sweeney to look out of the window and see if she can tell where they are. She replies, “I see the water. I see the building. I see buildings.” She tells him the plane is flying very low. Then she takes a slow, deep breath and slowly, calmly says, “Oh my God!” Woodward hears a loud click, and then silence. [ABC News, 7/18/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] Flight attendant Betty Ong, on another phone, apparently does not realize what is about to happen. She is repeatedly saying, “Pray for us. Pray for us,” before her phone call comes to a halt. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Betty Ong, Michael Woodward, Hajji Abdul Qadir

(Before 8:45 a.m.): American Airlines Tells Crisis Center, Leaders of Hijacking, but Not Other Pilots

       At American Airlines' headquarters in Fort Worth, their crisis Command Center used in emergencies, is activated. A page is sent to American's top executives and operations personnel: “Confirmed hijacking Flight 11.” However, pilots on other American flights apparently are not notified. Top managers gather at the Command Center and watch the radar blip of Flight 11 until it disappears over New York City. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01]
People and organizations involved: American Airlines

8:46 a.m.: Fighters Are Training over North Carolina; Not Recalled to Washington Until Much Later

       At the time of the first WTC crash, three F-16s assigned to Andrews Air Force Base, ten miles from Washington, are flying an air-to-ground training mission to drop some bombs and hit a refueling tanker, on a range in North Carolina, 207 miles away from their base. However, it is only when they are halfway back to Andrews that lead pilot Major Billy Hutchison is able to talk to the acting supervisor of flying at Andrews, Lt. Col. Phil Thompson, who tells him to return to the base “buster” (as fast as his aircraft will fly). After landing back at Andrews, Hutchison is told to take off immediately, and does so at 10:33 a.m. The other two pilots, Marc Sasseville and Heather Penney, take off from Andrews at 10:42 a.m., after having their planes loaded with 20mm training rounds. These three pilots will therefore not be patrolling the skies above Washington until after about 10:45 a.m. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 56] F-16s can travel at a maximum speed of 1,500 mph. [Associated Press, 6/16/00] Traveling even at 1,100 mph (the speed NORAD Major General Larry Arnold says two fighters from Massachusetts travel toward Flight 175 [Slate, 1/16/02; MSNBC, 9/23/01 (C)] ), at least one of these F-16s could have returned from North Carolina to Washington within ten minutes and started patrolling the skies well before 9:00 a.m.
People and organizations involved: Marc Sasseville, NBC, Heather Penney Garcia, Phil Thompson, Billy Hutchison

8:46 a.m.: Flight 175 Changes Transponder Signal but Remains Easily Traceable

       Flight 175 stops transmitting its transponder signal. It is 50 miles north of New York City, headed toward Baltimore. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Newsday, 9/10/02; Guardian, 10/17/01] However, the transponder is turned off for only about 30 seconds, and then changed to a signal that is not designated for any plane on that day. [Newsday, 9/10/02] This “allow[s] controllers to track the intruder easily, though they couldn't identify it.” [Washington Post, 9/17/01]

8:46 a.m.: First WTC Attack Recorded on Video, but Not Broadcast Until Evening

The hole caused by the Flight 11 crash.
Two French documentary filmmakers are filming a documentary on New York City firefighters about ten blocks from the WTC. One of them hears a roar, looks up, and captures a distant image of the first WTC crash. They continue shooting footage nonstop for many hours, and their footage is first shown that evening on CNN. [New York Times, 1/12/02] President Bush later claims that he sees the first attack live on television, but this is technically impossible, as there was no live news footage of the attack. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

8:46 a.m.: Flight 11 Hits the North Tower of the World Trade Center

Flight 11 hits the WTC North Tower at 8:46. This video still is the only well-known image of this crash.
Flight 11 slams into the WTC North Tower (Building 1). Seismic records pinpoint the crash at 26 seconds after 8:46 a.m. [New York Times, 9/12/01; NORAD, 9/18/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); New York Times, 9/11/02; USA Today, 12/20/01; Newsday, 9/10/02; USA Today, 8/13/02] Investigators believe the plane still has about 10,000 gallons of fuel and is traveling approximately 470 mph. [New York Times, 9/11/02] The plane strikes the 93rd through 98th floors in the 110-story building. No one above the crash line survives; approximately 1,360 people die. Below the crash line, approximately 72 die and more than 4,000 survive. Both towers are slightly less than half full at the time of the attack, with between 5,000 to 7,000 people in each tower. This number is lower than expected. Many office workers have not yet shown up to work, and tourists to the observation deck opening at 9:30 A.M. have yet to arrive. [USA Today, 12/20/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center

8:46 a.m.: New York Flight Control Suspects Flight 175 Hijacking

       New York flight controller Dave Bottoglia is in charge of monitoring both Flights 11 and 175. He has just watched Flight 11's radar blip disappear over New York City, but does not yet realize the plane has crashed. “Within seconds” of losing Flight 11's blip, he realizes that Flight 175 is also missing. He has another controller take over all his other planes so he can focus on finding Flight 175. He tries contacting the planes several times unsuccessfully. Curt Applegate, sitting at the radar screen next to Bottoglia, sees a blip that might be the missing Flight 11. In fact, it is the missing Flight 175. Just as Bottoglia notices it, its transponder signal turns back on, but at a different signal than before. “There is no longer any question in Bottoglia's mind that he's looking at a second hijacked airliner,” according to later MSNBC reports. Bottoglia then notices Flight 175 turn east and start descending. He keeps an eye on it and sees it head right toward Delta Flight 2315. He recalls saying to the Delta Flight, “Traffic, 2:00, ten miles. I think he's been hijacked. I don't know his intentions. Take any evasive action necessary.” Flight 2315 takes evasive action, missing Flight 175 by less than 200 feet. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] However, there is no claim that NORAD is notified about the hijacking at this time. On the other hand, according to a NORAD timeline from shortly after 9/11, NORAD is notified by Boston flight control three minutes earlier at 8:43 a.m. [NORAD, 9/18/01] The 9/11 Commission seems to ignore this account from Bottoglia completely, asserting that he notices the transponder change at 8:51 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, Curt Applegate, Dave Bottoglia, North American Aerospace Defense Command

(Before 8:46 a.m.): Rumsfeld Reportedly Predicts Terror Attacks

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Representative Christopher Cox (R) are meeting in Rumsfeld's private Pentagon dining room, discussing missile defense. Rumsfeld later recalls, “I had said at an eight o'clock breakfast that sometime in the next two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve months there would be an event that would occur in the world that would be sufficiently shocking that it would remind people again how important it is to have a strong healthy Defense Department that contributes to—that underpins peace and stability in our world.” [CNN, 12/5/01] Wolfowitz recalls, “And we commented to them that based on what Rumsfeld and I had both seen and worked on the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission, that we were probably in for some nasty surprises over the next ten years.” [Defense Department, 5/9/03] There are confused accounts that Rumsfeld says, “I've been around the block a few times. There will be another event,” just before the Pentagon is hit by Flight 77, but such comments may have been made around this time instead. Rumsfeld says, “And someone walked in and handed a note that said that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. And we adjourned the meeting, and I went in to get my CIA briefing ... right next door here [in my office].” [CNN, 12/5/01]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Christopher Cox, World Trade Center, US Department of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

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

       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

(After 8:46 a.m.): Emergency Response Plans Activated by Officials, Not by Bush

       President Bush will say in a speech later that evening, “Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans.” [White House, 9/11/01] However, the Wall Street Journal reports that lower level officials activate CONPLAN (Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan) in response to the emerging crisis. CONPLAN, created in response to a 1995 Presidential Decision Directive issued by President Clinton and published in January 2001, details the responsibility of seven federal agencies if a terrorist attack occurs. It gives the FBI the responsibility for activating the plan and alerting other agencies. Bush in fact later states that he doesn't give any orders responding to the attack until after 9:55 a.m. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04; Conplan, 1/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan, Federal Bureau of Investigation

(After 8:46 a.m.): United Flight Dispatcher Decides Flight 175 Is Hijacked

       Ed Ballinger, a United Airlines flight dispatcher, is handling 16 United transcontinental flights, including Flights 175 and 93. Shortly after hearing about the WTC crash, he contacts all of his flights to warn them. However, Flight 175 is “not acting appropriately,” and fails to respond. Ballinger concludes the flight has been hijacked. Whether he contacts anyone about his conclusions is unclear. [Chicago Daily Herald, 4/14/04]
People and organizations involved: Ed Ballinger

8:46 a.m.: NEADS Staff Believe They See Flight 11 Disappear Over New York

       NEADS staff have been desperately trying to track the missing Flight 11 on their radar screens. Despite having great difficulty locating it, Master Sergeant Joe McCain believes they see Flight 11 when it disappears over New York. He says: “We picked up a search track going down the Hudson Valley, straight in from the north toward New York. It's very unusual to find a search target, which is a plane with its transponder turned off, in that area. This plane was headed toward New York going faster than the average Cessna and was no doubt a jet aircraft. We had many clues. The plane was fast and heading in an unusual direction with no beacon. We had raw data only. Everything just kind of fit. We watched that track until it faded over New York City and right after that someone came out of the break room and said the World Trade Center had been hit.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp. 56-57]
People and organizations involved: Northeast Air Defense Sector, Joe McCain

(8:46 a.m.): Fighters Ordered to Scramble to Flight 11 Nine Minutes After NORAD Notification

       Two F-15 fighters are ordered to scramble from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts to find Flight 11, approximately 190 miles from the known location of the plane and 188 miles from New York City. [Channel 4 News, 9/13/01; CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/15/01; Los Angeles Times, 9/17/01; NORAD, 9/18/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] According to the 9/11 Commission, NORAD makes the decision to scramble after only one phone call, as the decision is made to act first and get clearances later. Yet there is a nine-minute gap between when the 9/11 Commission says NORAD is notified about the hijacking at 8:37 a.m., and when the fighters are ordered scrambled. This delay has not been explained. The pilots had already received several unofficial warnings before this order—possibly as early as 8:34 a.m., 12 minutes earlier. One of the pilots recalls sitting in the cockpit, ready and waiting for the scramble order to come. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; BBC, 9/1/02] Yet, according to some reports, they do not take off for another six minutes, at 8:52 a.m. [NORAD, 9/18/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The fighters' initial target, Flight 11, is already crashing into the WTC at this time. NEADS Commander Robert Marr later claims, “My intent was to scramble Otis to military airspace while we found out what was going on.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 56]
People and organizations involved: Otis Air National Guard Base, North American Aerospace Defense Command

(8:46 a.m.): Bush, Some Aides Reportedly Still Unaware of Flight 11 Hijack

       President Bush is traveling through Sarasota, Florida, in a motorcade when the first WTC attack occurs. According to the 9/11 Commission, “no one in the White House or traveling with the president knew that [Flight 11] had been hijacked [at this time]. Immediately afterward, duty officers at the White House and Pentagon began notifying senior officials what had happened.” However, according to reports, Bush is not notified about the crash until his motorcade reaches its destination, even though there is a secure phone in his vehicle for just this type of emergency, and even though others in the motorcade are notified. Reportedly, not even Jane Garvey, head of the FAA, nor her deputy have been told of a confirmed hijacking before they learn about the crash from the television. [Bamford, 2004, pp 17; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Jane Garvey

(Between 8:46-8:55 a.m.): Bush's Motorcade Quickly Hears of Flight 11 Crash, but Bush Reportedly Still Unaware

Bush's travels in the Sarasota, Florida, region, with key locations marked.
When Flight 11 hits the WTC at 8:46 a.m., President Bush's motorcade is crossing the John Ringling Causeway on the way to Booker Elementary from the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. [Washington Times, 10/8/02] Sarasota Magazine claims that Bush is on Highway 301, just north of Main Street when he is told that a plane has crashed in New York City. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Around the same time, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who riding in another car in the motorcade, is talking on his cell phone, when he blurts out: “Oh, my God, I don't believe it. A plane just hit the World Trade Center.” (The person with whom Fleischer is speaking remains unknown.) Fleischer is told he will be needed on arrival to discuss reports of the crash. [Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02; Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/01] This call takes place “just minutes” after the first news reports. [MSNBC, 10/29/02] Congressman Dan Miller also says he is told about the crash just before meeting Bush at Booker elementary school at 8:55 a.m. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Some reporters waiting for him to arrive also learn of the crash just minutes after it happens. [CBS News, 9/11/02 (B)] It would make sense that Bush is told about the crash immediately, at the same time that others hear about it. Yet the official story remains that Bush is not told about the crash until he arrives at the school. Author James Bamford comments, “Despite having a secure STU-III phone next to [Bush] in the presidential limousine and an entire national security staff at the White House, it appears that the president of the United States knew less than tens of millions of other people in every part of the country who were watching the attack as it unfolded.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 17]
People and organizations involved: James Bamford, Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush, World Trade Center, Dan Miller

(8:46-8:50 a.m.): New York and Boston Flight Control Conclude Flight 11 Has Hit WTC

Rick Tepper.
Rick Tepper, a flight controller at the Newark, New Jersey, tower, looks across the Hudson River at New York City in time to see the explosion caused by Flight 11. Another flight controller there tries to find out what caused it. He recalls that in the next few minutes, “We contacted La Guardia, Kennedy Tower, and Teterboro Tower to find out if they lost an airplane. And they all said they didn't know what it was. I got on the phone to the en route air traffic control's facility out in New York on Long Island, and I asked them if they'd lost any airplanes, and they said, ‘No, but Boston [flight control] lost an airplane. They lost an American 767.’ ” New Jersey flight controller Bob Varcadapane says to the Long Island flight controller, “I have a burning building and you have a missing airplane. This is very coincidental.” The assumption is quickly made at New York and Boston flight control centers that Flight 11 has hit the WTC. NBC later reports, “Word of the fate of Flight 11 quickly travels throughout the air traffic control world.” [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] However, the Indianapolis flight control center that handles Flight 77 reportedly does not learn of Flight 11's crash until around 9:20 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Rick Tepper, Bob Varcadapane, World Trade Center, Boston flight control, New York flight control

8:48 a.m.: Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Preparing for Global Guardian Exercise When Attacks Start

       Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana is an important node in the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian (see 8:30 a.m.) on 9/11. Colonel Mike Reese, director of staff for the 8th Air Force, is monitoring several television screens at the base as part of the exercise when he sees CNN cut into coverage of the first World Trade Center crash, two minutes after it happens. He watches live when the second plane hits the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. Reese says that at this point, “we knew it wasn't a mistake. Something grave was happening that put the nation's security at risk.” An article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune later recounts how awareness of the real attacks impacts those participating in the exercise: “Immediately [the Barksdale staff's] focus turned to defense, securing Barksdale, Minot [North Dakota], and Whiteman [Missouri] air force bases, where dozens of aircraft and hundreds of personnel were involved in the readiness exercise ‘Global Guardian.’ The exercise abruptly ended as the United States appeared to be at war within its own borders. Four A-10s, an aircraft not designed for air-to-air combat, from Barksdale's 47th Fighter Squadron, were placed on ‘cockpit alert,’ the highest state of readiness for fighter pilots. Within five minutes, the A-10s, equipped only with high intensity cannons, could have been launched to destroy unfriendly aircraft, even if it was a civilian passenger airliner.” Lt. Col. Edmund Walker, commander of the 47th Fighter Squadron, a novice pilot still in training, is sitting in his fighter along with other pilots in other fighters, ready to take off, when they are ordered back to the squadron office. They are told they are no longer practicing. Walker recalls, “We had to defend the base against any aircraft, airliner or civilian. We had no idea. Would it fly to the base and crash into the B-52s or A-10s on the flight line?” [Times-Picayune, 9/8/02] When President Bush's Air Force One takes off from Sarasota, Florida, at approximately 9:55 a.m., it has no destination, and circles over Florida aimlessly. But around 10:35 (see (10:35 a.m.)), it begins heading towards Barksdale Air Force Base. [CBS News, 9/11/02; Washington Post, 1/27/02] It finally arrives at Barksdale around 11:45 a.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; CBS News, 9/11/02] It's never been explained exactly why Bush traveled from Florida to Barksdale. The Daily Telegraph has reported, “The official reason for landing at Barksdale was that President Bush felt it necessary to make a further statement, but it isn't unreasonable to assume that—as there was no agreement as to what the President's movements should be—it was felt he might as well be on the ground as in the air.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Global Guardian, Mike Reese, Eni, James O. Ellis Jr, Offutt Air Force Base

(After 8:48 a.m.): Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Still Oblivious? Accounts Are Contradictory

Air Force General Richard Myers, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and acting Chairman on 9/11.
Air Force General Richard Myers, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sees reports of the first WTC crash on television. Myers is acting Chairman of the US military during the 9/11 crisis because Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Henry Shelton is flying in a plane across the Atlantic. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Myers sees the television in an outer office of Senator Max Cleland (D), but he says, “They thought it was a small plane or something like that,” so he goes ahead and meets with Cleland. He says, “Nobody informed us” about the second WTC crash, and he remains oblivious to the emergency until the meeting with Cleland ends, and as the Pentagon explosion takes place at 9:37 a.m. Then Myers speaks to General Ralph Eberhart. [Armed Forces Press Service, 10/23/01] Yet, in testimony on September 13, 2001, he states, “after the second tower was hit, I spoke to the commander of NORAD, General Eberhart. And at that point, I think the decision was at that point to start launching aircraft.” [General Myers' confirmation hearing, 9/13/01] NORAD claims the first fighters are scrambled even before the first WTC hit. [NORAD, 9/18/01] In his 2004 testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Myers' account changes again. He says that he gets a call from Eberhart, and then “shortly thereafter that the Pentagon was hit as we were on our way back to the Pentagon.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (B)] Myers' claim that he is out of the loop contradicts not only his previous account but also counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke's account of what Myers does that day. According to Clarke's recollection, Myers takes part in a video conference from about 9:10 a.m. until after 10:00 a.m. (see (9:10 a.m.)). If Myers is not involved in this conference, then his whereabouts and actions remain unknown until he arrives at the NMCC around 10:30 a.m. (see (Before 10:30 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Richard B. Myers, Henry H. Shelton, Richard B. Myers, Richard A. Clarke, Ralph Eberhart, Max Cleland

(8:48 a.m.): NORAD's Colorado Headquarters Sees WTC Television Footage

Canadian Air Force Major General Major General Rick Findley.
Canadian Air Force Major General Rick Findley is in charge of battle stations at NORAD's Colorado Springs, Colorado, headquarters. According to Findley, “As the phones were beginning to ring, someone said, ‘Sir, you might want to look at that.’ I looked up and there was the CNN image of the World Trade Center. There was a hole in the side of one of the buildings.” CNN broadcasts this footage starting at 8:48 a.m. An as-yet unidentified person reportedly tells Findley that it was a small plane, who responded, “I said the hole's too big for a small airplane. ... I asked if it was the hijacked aircraft. I was scratching my head, wondering if it was another aircraft altogether.” [Calgary Herald, 10/1/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Rick Findley

8:48 a.m.: CNN First Major Network to Show WTC Crash Footage

       CNN is the first major network to show the footage of the crash site. It breaks into a commercial and anchor Carol Lin says, “This just in. You are looking at ... obviously a very disturbing live shot there—that is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.” CNN then switches to Sean Murtagh, the network's vice president of finance, who says in a live telephone interview, “I just witnessed a plane that appeared to be cruising at a slightly lower than normal altitude over New York City. And it appears to have crashed into—I don't know which tower it is—but it hit directly in the middle of one of the World Trade Center towers. It was a jet, maybe a two-engine jet, maybe a 737 ... a large passenger commercial jet ... It was teetering back and forth, wing-tip to wing-tip, and it looks like it has crashed into—probably, twenty stories from the top of the World Trade Center—maybe the eightieth to eighty-fifth floor. There is smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 16-17; CNN, 9/11/01] Many reports do not come until a few minutes later. For instance, ABC first breaks into regular programming with the story at 8:52 a.m. [ABC News, 9/14/02] Incredibly, a NORAD timeline presented to the 9/11 Commission in 2003 claims that CNN doesn't begin its coverage of the attacks until 8:57. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/23/03]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, CNN, Carol Lin, Sean Murtagh

8:48 a.m.: New York Flight Control Center Manager Aware of Ong Phone Call, Unaware Flight 11 Has Crashed

       A New York flight control center manager speaks in a teleconference between flight centers. The person says, “Okay. This is New York [flight control]. We're watching the airplane [Flight 11]. I also had conversation with American Airlines, and they've told us that they believe that one of their stewardesses was stabbed and that there are people in the cockpit that have control of the aircraft, and that's all the information they have right now.” The manager is unaware Flight 11 has already crashed. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] This appears to be a simplified version of flight attendant Betty Ong's phone call, given to American Airlines leader Gerard Arpey and others around 8:30 a.m. (see 8:30 a.m.).
People and organizations involved: New York flight control

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

       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

(8:50 a.m.): CIA Director, Told of Attack, Immediately Suspects bin Laden

       CIA Director Tenet is told of the first WTC crash while he is eating breakfast with his mentor, former Senator David Boren (D). They are interrupted when CIA bodyguards converge on the table to hand Tenet the cell phone. Tenet is told that the WTC has been attacked by an airplane. Boren later says, “I was struck by the fact that [the messenger] used the word ‘attacked.’ ” Tenet then hands a cell phone back to an aide and says to Boren, “You know, this has bin Laden's fingerprints all over it.” “ ‘He was very collected,’ Boren recalls. ‘He said he would be at the CIA in 15 minutes, what people he needed in the room and what he needed to talk about.’ ” [ABC News, 9/14/02; USA Today, 9/24/01] According to other accounts, Tenet responds to the caller, “They steered the plane directly into the building?” Tenet then says to Boren, “That looks like bin Laden.” Tenet muses aloud, “I wonder if this has something to do with the guy [Zacarias Moussaoui] who trained for a pilot's license.” (Moussaoui had been arrested several weeks earlier.) [Stern, 8/13/03; Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 5/29/02] According to another account, Tenet pauses while on the phone to tell Boren, “The World Trade Center has been hit. We're pretty sure it wasn't an accident. It looks like a terrorist act,” then returns to the phone to identify who should be summoned to the CIA situation room. [Time, 9/14/01] (Note that according to two accounts, Tenet was not informed of the developing crisis until after the second WTC tower had been struck. [Washington Post, 1/27/02; Bamford, 2004, pp 18-19] However, the majority of reports indicate that Tenet was informed of the crisis right after the first WTC tower was struck.)
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, George Tenet, David Boren, Zacarias Moussaoui, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency

8:50 a.m.: Last Radio Contact with Flight 77

       The last radio contact with Flight 77 is made when a pilot asks for clearance to fly higher. However, six minutes later, the plane fails to respond to a routine instruction. Presumably, it is hijacked during that time. Indianapolis flight control center is handling the plane by this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Guardian, 10/17/01; Boston Globe, 11/23/01; New York Times, 10/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Indianapolis flight control

(Before 8:50 a.m.): CIA Director Expresses Worry About al-Qaeda Attack

       According to one report, CIA Director Tenet is eating breakfast with his mentor, former Senator David Boren (D). “Before the planes hit the World Trade Center, CIA Director George Tenet warned [Boren] ... that he was worried about a possible attack by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 12/6/02]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, al-Qaeda, David Boren

8:50 a.m.: Flight 175 Heads for New York City

       Flight 175, already off course, makes a near complete U-turn and starts heading north toward New York City. [CNN, 9/17/01]

8:51-8:53 a.m.: Flight Controller Declares Flight 175 Hijacked

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the flight controller handling Flight 175 (presumably Dave Bottoglia [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] ) only notices now that the flight's transponder signal has changed, although, according to other published reports, this happened around 8:46 a.m. The controller asks the plane to return to its proper transponder code. There is no response. Beginning at 8:52 a.m., the controller makes repeated attempts to contact the plane, but there is still no response. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Bottoglia contacts another controller at 8:53 a.m., and says, “We may have a hijack. We have some problems over here right now.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Guardian, 10/17/01; New York Times, 10/16/01] This account conflicts with earlier accounts that NORAD is notified at 8:43 a.m. that Flight 175 has been hijacked. [NORAD, 9/18/01] It also conflicts with Bottoglia's own account of finding Flight 175 at 8:46 a.m. and realizing it is hijacked at that time. [MSNBC, 9/11/02]
People and organizations involved: Dave Bottoglia
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