THE COMPLETE 9/11 TIMELINE: RECENTLY UPDATED ENTRIES (March 20, 2003)

Because the timeline is so extensive, people who've already seen it may find it hard to locate recent entries. So all new or changed entries since the last version are collected here.

Other Sections of the Timeline:

The Complete Timeline parts 1 and 2 (excluding Day of 9/11)
The Abridged Timeline (a good place to start)
Introduction and credits and links
The latest update

Articles
The Two Ziad Jarrahs
Sept. 11's Smoking Gun: The Many Faces of Saeed Sheikh
Alhazmi & Almihdhar: The Hijackers Who Should Have Been Caught
They Tried to Warn Us

Summaries

9/11 Paymaster Saeed Sheikh
9/11 Mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
ISI Director Mahmood Ahmed
Nabil al-Marabh
Would Be Hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar
Escape from Afghanistan
Foreign Intelligence Warnings

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Also see forums to discuss 9/11 and this timeline
Subdivisions
Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
Specific Flights
Flight 11
Flight 175
Flight 77
Flight 93
Bush on 9/11

This story is so complicated and long, I've tried to break it into threads of different colors to make it easier to digest. I've made separate pages for each thread, in addition to webpages with all the threads together.

Central Asian oil, Enron and the Afghanistan pipelines. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Information that should have shown what kind of attack al-Qaeda would make. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
US preparing for a war with Afghanistan before 9/11, increasing control of Asia before and since. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Incompetence, bad luck, and/or obstruction of justice. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Suggestions of advanced knowledge that an attack would take place on or around 9/11. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Israeli "art student" spy ring, Israeli foreknowledge evidence. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Anthrax attacks and microbiologist deaths. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Pakistani ISI and/or opium drug connections. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Bin Laden family, Saudi Arabia corruption and support of terrorists, connections to Bush. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.

 

NOTES ON THE LATEST UPDATE

All the entries for this update relate to the day of 9/11, an area that has been neglected for a while. Overall, the Day of 9/11 page has grown about 50% with this update, and spelling and grammar has been fixed for the entire page. Thanks to Melissa Kavonic for the proofreading! The changes are so extensive that you might as well just read the Day of 9/11 page in its entirety. There are many other changes, including a new page, Bush on 9/11, that collects all the entries relating to Bush on that day. In certain areas, particularly the movements of Bush and the phone calls from Barbara Olson, previous versions had numerous errors which have now been fixed.

NEW ENTRIES RELATING TO THE DAY OF 9/11


NORAD's war room in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

(6:30 a.m.) Lt. Col. Dawne Deskins and other NORAD employees at NEADS (NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector that covers the Washington and New York areas) are starting their work day. NORAD is unusually prepared on 9/11, because it is conducting a week-long semiannual exercise called Vigilant Guardian. [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] 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 Sept. 11." [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] ABC News later reports that because NORAD is "conducting training exercises [it] therefore [has] extra fighter planes on alert." [ABC News, 9/14/02] 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] The exercise poses "an imaginary crisis to North American Air Defense outposts nationwide." [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Accounts by participants vary on if 9/11 was the second, third, or fourth day of the exercise. [Newhouse News, 1/25/02, Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02, Code One Magazine, 1/02] Since NORAD was in peak form, isn't the incredible slowness of its response times on 9/11 even more inexplicable?

8:31 a.m. NORAD employee Lt. Colonel Dawne Deskins later says that Boston flight control notifies NORAD of Flight 77's hijacking at this time, not at 8:40 as has been widely reported, even by Deskins previously (see 8:40 a.m.). [ABC News, 9/11/02] Another later report 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] If Deskins' most recent account is right, Boston flight controllers wait about 10 minutes after they are sure Flight 11 was hijacked before notifying NORAD. Otherwise, Boston waits about 20 minutes.


In this map, the yellow star is roughly where Bush's motorcade is when Flight 11 crashes at 8:46, and the orange star is where he is when told about the crash a few minutes later. [Made with Yahoo Maps]

(Between 8:46 - 8:55 a.m.) When Flight 11 hits the WTC at 8:46, Bush's motorcade is crossing the John Ringling Causeway on the way to Booker Elementary from the Colony Beach & 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 had crashed in New York City. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Around the same time, news photographer Eric Draper is riding in another car in the motorcade with Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, and overhears Fleischer say on a cell phone, "Oh, my God, I don't believe it. A plane just hit the World Trade Center." Fleischer is told he will be needed on arrival to discuss reports of the crash. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/01, Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] Fleischer is told this "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 at 8:55. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Some reporters waiting for him to arrive also learn of the crash just minutes after it happens. [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] It would make sense that Bush is told about the crash immediately and at the same time that others hear about it. Yet Bush and others claim he isn't told until he arrives at the school.


White House Situation Room Director Deborah Loewer.

(Before 8:55 a.m.) Captain Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, is traveling in Bush's motorcade toward a Saratoga elementary school. She receives a message from her deputy in the White House Situation Room about the first WTC crash. As soon as the motorcade reaches the school, she runs from her car to Bush's car, and passes the message on to Bush. [Catholic Telegraph, 12/7/01, AP, 11/26/01] However, it appears Bush already knows (see (Between 8:46 - 8:55 a.m.)). Note that Bush maintains it is Karl Rove who tells him a few minutes later.


Bush's motorcade arrives at Booker Elementary. [A still from Booker video]

(8:55 a.m.)  Bush's motorcade arrives at Booker Elementary School. [8:46, ABC News, 9/11/02, 8:55, Washington Times, 10/7/02, 8:55, Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01, "just before 9:00," Telegraph, 12/16/01, "shortly before 9:00," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02, "just before 9:00," New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), 9:00, Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] The trip is said to take 20 minutes, which confirms he arrives around 8:55, if it is true he left around 8:35. [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B), MSNBC, 10/29/02]


Karl Rove [Reuters], Andrew Card [AP], and Dan Bartlett.

(Between 8:55 - 9:00 a.m.) Just after the WTC crash, the beepers of politicians' aides are going off with news of the first WTC crash as Bush arrives and enters Booker Elementary School. According to photographer Eric Draper, standing nearby, Bush advisor Karl Rove rushes up, takes Bush aside in a corridor, and tells him about the calamity. Rove says the cause of the crash was unclear. Bush replies, "What a horrible accident!" Bush also suggests the pilot may have had a heart attack. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Dan Bartlett, White House Communications Director, also says he is there when Bush is told: "[Bush] being a former pilot, had kind of the same reaction, going, was it bad weather? And I said no, apparently not." [ABC News, 9/11/02] One account explicitly says that Rove tells Bush the WTC has been hit by a large commercial airliner. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] However, Bush later remembers Rove saying it appeared to be an accident involving a small, twin-engine plane. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] In a later recollection, Bush recalls that it is chief of staff Andrew Card who first warns him and says, "'Here's what you're going to be doing; you're going to meet so-and-so, such-and-such.' And Andy Card says, 'By the way, an aircraft flew into the World Trade Center.'" [Washington Times, 10/7/02] Says a reporter who was standing nearby, "From the demeanor of the President, grinning at the children, it appeared that the enormity of what he had been told was taking a while to sink in." [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] ["Shortly before 9:00," Daily Mail, 9/8/02, "just before 9:00," Telegraph, 12/16/01] In fact, Bush has already been told about the crash twice before this (see (Between 8:46 - 8:55 a.m.) and (Before 8:55 a.m.)). He should also be aware that NORAD has known since 8:40, if not before, that Flight 11 has been hijacked, and since 8:43 that Flight 175 has been hijacked. The New York Times points out that flight controllers learn Flight 77 has been hijacked "within a few minutes" of 8:48. [New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] Is Bush and his aides putting on a charade to pretend he doesn't know there is a national emergency? If so, why?


Booker Elementary principal Gwen Tose-Rigell. [A still from Booker video]

(Between 8:55 - 9:00 a.m.) Just after Bush arrives at Booker Elementary School and is briefly told of the WTC crash, he is whisked into a holding room and updated on the situation via telephone by National Security Advisor Rice. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/01, Time, 9/12/01] Rice later claims, "He said, what a terrible, it sounds like a terrible accident. Keep me informed." [ABC News, 9/11/02] School principal Gwen Tose-Rigell is then summoned to a room to talk with the President: "He said a commercial plane has hit the World Trade Center, and we're going to go ahead and go on, we're going on to do the reading thing anyway." [AP, 8/19/02 (D)] One local reporter notes that at this point, "He could and arguably should have left Emma E. Booker Elementary School immediately, gotten onto Air Force One and left Sarasota without a moment's delay." [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/12/01 (B)] Why doesn't he? Note that CIA Director Tenet has already been told it was terrorism (see (After 8:46)) and Bush certainly should have been told by Rice of the three known hijackings at this time, if he hasn't been told already. How could Bush continue to think there is only a single-plane accident?

(9:03 - 9:08 a.m.) In a series of stages, flight control managers ban aircraft from flying near the cities used by the hijackers. First, takeoffs and landings in New York City are stopped within a minute of the Flight 175 crash, without asking for permission from Washington. Boston and Newark follow suit in the next few minutes. Around 9:08, departures nationwide heading to or through New York and Boston airspace are canceled. [AP, 8/12/02, Newsday, 9/10/02, AP, 8/19/02, USA Today, 8/13/02] Also "a few minutes" after the Flight 175 crash into the WTC at 9:03, all takeoffs from Washington are stopped. [USA Today, 8/12/02, USA Today, 8/13/02] Why is the emergency considered important enough to stop all takeoffs from Washington at this time, but not important enough to scramble even a single plane to defend Washington?


Bush meets teacher Sandra Kay Daniels. [A still from Booker video]

(9:03 - 9:06 a.m.) Bush enters Sandra Kay Daniels' second-grade class for a photo-op to promote Bush's education policies. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Numerous reporters who travel with the president, as well as members of the local media, watch from the back of the room. [AP, 8/19/02 (D)] Altogether there about 150 people in the room, 16 of them the children in the class. He is introduced to the children and poses for a number of staged pictures. The teacher then leads the students through some reading exercises (video footage shows this lasts about three minutes). [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] Bush later claims that while he is doing this lesson, he is thinking what he will say about the WTC crash. "I was concentrating on the program at this point, thinking about what I was going to say. Obviously, I felt it was an accident. I was concerned about it, but there were no alarm bells." [Washington Times, 10/7/02] The children are just getting their books from under their seats to read a story together when Chief of Staff Andrew Card comes in to tell Bush of the second WTC crash (see (9:06 a.m.)). [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] [9:02, Washington Times, 10/8/02, 9:03, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:04, Daily Mail, 9/8/02, according to photographer Eric Draper, who is in the room] Note that Card comes in at the conclusion of the first half of the planned lesson, and "[seizes] a pause in the reading drill to walk up to Mr. Bush's seat." [Washington Times, 10/7/02, Washington Times, 10/8/02] Why doesn't Bush take this opportune moment to leave the room?

(9:03 a.m.) According to Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill, just after Bush enters a Booker Elementary classroom, a Marine responsible for carrying Bush's phone walks up to Balkwill, who is standing in a nearby side room. While listening to someone talk to him in his earpiece, the Marine asks, "Can you get me to a television? We're not sure what's going on, but we need to see a television." Three Secret Service agents, a SWAT member, the Marine and Balkwill turn on the television in a nearby front office just as Flight 175 crashes into the WTC. "We're out of here," the Marine tells Balkwill. "Can you get everyone ready?" [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02] So apparently some of Bush's security want him to leave the school immediately - why does he stay until 9:34?

(After 9:03 a.m.) Controllers at the New York traffic center are briefed by their supervisors to watch for airplanes whose speed indicated that they are jets, but which either are not responding to commands or have disabled their transponders. "Controllers in Washington [get] a similar briefing, which [help] them pick out hijacked planes more quickly." [New York Times, 9/13/01 (F)]


Vice President Cheney (pointing finger) with Rice and others in the underground bunker Cheney was carried into. This facility is called the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. [White House]

(After 9:03 a.m.) Secret Service agents burst into Vice President Cheney's White House office. They carry him under his arms - nearly lifting him off the ground - and propel him down the steps into the White House basement and through a long tunnel toward an underground bunker. ["Just after 9:00," ABC, 9/14/02 (B), around 9:06 when Bush is being told of the second WTC hit, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), same time Bush is being told, Telegraph, 12/16/01, shortly after Bush's speech at 9:30, CBS, 9/11/02, 9:32, Washington Post, 1/27/02] At about the same time, National Security Adviser Rice is told to go to the bunker as well. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Accounts of when this happens vary widely, from around 9:03 to 9:32. But since ABC News claims Cheney is in the bunker when he is told Flight 77 is 50 miles away from Washington, accounts of this taking place after 9:27 appear to be incorrect (see (9:27 a.m.)). The one eyewitness account, David Bohrer, a White House photographer, says it takes place just after 9:00. [ABC, 9/14/02 (B)] Why doesn't this happen to Bush at the same time? Are reports of this happening to Cheney later spin meant to make Bush remaining in public seem less strange?

(After 9:03 a.m.) Brigadier General Montague Winfield, commander of the NMCC, the Pentagon's emergency response center, later says, "When the second aircraft flew into the second tower, it was at that point that we realized that the seemingly unrelated hijackings that the FAA was dealing with were in fact a part of a coordinated terrorist attack on the United States." [ABC, 9/14/02] It is plausible that three planes have been hijacked and one has crashed into the WTC, and the military still thinks its all coincidence?


Andrew Card tells Bush the second WTC tower has been hit. [White House via AP] See a vide of Bush's reaction here: [ABC, 9/14/02]

(9:06 a.m.)  Bush is in a Booker Elementary School second-grader classroom. His chief of staff, Andrew Card, enters the room and whispers into his ear, "A second plane hit the other tower, and America's under attack." [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] [9:05, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), 9:05, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:05, Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02, 9:07, Washington Times, 10/8/02, ABC News reporter Ann Compton, who is in the room, says she is struck "So much so that I [write] it down in my reporter's notebook, by my watch, 9:07 a.m.," ABC News, 9/11/02] Intelligence expert James Bamford describes Bush's reaction: "Immediately [after Card speaks to Bush] an expression of befuddlement passe[s] across the President's face. Then, having just been told that the country was under attack, the Commander in Chief appear[s] uninterested in further details. He never ask[s] if there had been any additional threats, where the attacks were coming from, how to best protect the country from further attacks.... Instead, in the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor, he simply turn[s] back to the matter at hand: the day's photo op." [Body of Secrets, James Bamford, 4/02 edition, p. 633] Bush continues listening to the goat story. Then, in an event noticeable in its absence, as one newspaper put it, "For some reason, Secret Service agents [do] not bustle him away." [Globe and Mail, 9/12/01] Bush later says of the experience, "I am very aware of the cameras. I'm trying to absorb that knowledge. I have nobody to talk to. I'm sitting in the midst of a classroom with little kids, listening to a children's story and I realize I'm the Commander in Chief and the country has just come under attack." [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Bush continues to listen to the goat story for about ten more minutes (see (9:06 - 9:16 a.m.)). The reason given is that, "Without all the facts at hand, George Bush ha[s] no intention of upsetting the schoolchildren who had come to read for him." [MSNBC, 10/29/02] Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is only three and a half miles away, and in fact the elementary school was chosen as the location for a photo op partly because of its closeness to the airport. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/12/02] Why doesn't the Secret Service move Bush away from his known location?


Bush listens to the Pet Goat story.

(9:06 - 9:16 a.m.) Bush, having just been told of the second WTC crash (see (9:06 a.m.)), does not leave the Sarasota, Florida, classroom he entered around 9:03. Rather, he stays and listens as 16 Booker Elementary School second-graders take turns reading a story called Pet Goat, about a girl's pet goat. [AFP, 9/7/02] They are just about to begin reading when Bush is warned of the attack. One account says that the classroom is then silent for about 30 seconds, maybe more. Bush then picks up the book and reads with the children "for eight or nine minutes." [Tampa Tribune, 9/1/02] In unison, the children read out loud, "The - Pet - Goat. A - girl - got - a - pet - goat. But - the - goat - did - some - things - that - made - the - girl's - dad - mad." And so on. Bush mostly listens, but does ask the children a few questions to encourage them. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] At one point he says, "Really good readers, whew! ... These must be sixth-graders!" [Time, 9/12/01] In the back of the room, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer catches Bush's eye and holds up a pad of paper for him to read, with "DON'T SAY ANYTHING YET" written on it in big block letters. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] Otherwise, Bush is completely cut off from outside developments. CNN reported in 1999, "Only the president has the authority to order a civilian aircraft shot down." [CNN, 10/26/99] The pilot of one of the planes flying to catch Flight 175 notes that it wouldn't have mattered if he caught up with it, because only Bush could order a shootdown, and Bush is at a public event at the time. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] If that fighter had caught up to Flight 175, or if a fighter had a chance to shoot down Flight 77, would many have needlessly died because Bush didn't leave this classroom? (Note that three articles claim that Bush leaves the classroom at 9:12 [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), Telegraph, 12/16/01, Daily Mail, 9/8/02], but the video of Bush in the room lasts longer than that. That video also has edits and ends before Bush leaves. The above time is a rough guess based mostly on the Tampa Tribune estimate).


Bush with his "Pet Goat" book in Sandra Kay Daniels' elementary school classroom. [Eric Draper]

(9:16 a.m.)  Bush leaves the Sarasota classroom where he has been since about 9:03. The children finish their lessons and put away their readers. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Bush advises the children to stay in school and be good citizens. [Tampa Tribune, 9/1/02, St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B)] He also tells the children, "Thank you all so very much for showing me your reading skills." [ABC News, 9/11/02] One student also asks Bush a question, and Bush gives a quick response on his education policy. [New York Post, 9/12/02] A reporter asks, "Mr. President, are you aware of the reports of the plane crash in New York? Is there any..." This question is interrupted by an aide who has come into the room, saying, "All right. Thank you. If everyone could please step outside." Bush then says, "We'll talk about it later." [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] Bush then tells school principal Gwen Tose-Rigell, who is in the room, about the terror attacks and why he has to leave. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] He then goes into an empty classroom next door and meets with his staff there. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Bush's program with the children was supposed to start at 9:00 and end 20 minutes later. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/16/01] So he leaves the classroom only a couple of minutes earlier than planned, if at all (as the goodbyes and questions on the way out may have taken another minute or two).


Bush in a holding room before giving his speech. Communications director Dan Bartlett points to the TV, and the clock reads 9:25. [White House]

(Between 9:16 - 9:29 a.m.) Bush works with his staff to prepare a speech he will deliver at 9:29. He intermittently watches the television coverage in the room. [Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] He also speaks on the phone to advisors, first calling National Security Advisor Rice, then Vice President Cheney, then New York Governor George Pataki. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] This would have been a good time to discuss if hijacked planes should be shot down or not, but apparently that conversation doesn't happen until after 9:55.


Ted Olson. [Salon] Since 9/11 he has been trying to prevent the release of Vice President Cheney's energy task force papers. [Telegraph, 3/5/02]

(9:25 a.m.) A passenger on Flight 77, Barbara Olson, calls her husband, Theodore (Ted) Olson, who is Solicitor General at the Justice Department. Ted Olson is in his Justice Department office watching WTC news on television when his wife calls. A few days later, he says, "She told me that she had been herded to the back of the plane. She mentioned that they had used knives and box cutters to hijack the plane. She mentioned that the pilot had announced that the plane had been hijacked." [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] He tells her that two planes have hit the WTC. [Telegraph, 3/5/02] She feels nobody is taking charge. [CNN, 9/12/01] He doesn't know if she was near the pilots, but at one point she asks, "What shall I tell the pilot? What can I tell the pilot to do?" [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Then she gets cut off without warning. [Newsweek, 9/29/01] Ted Olson' recollection of the call's timing is extremely vague, saying it "must have been 9:15 or 9:30. Someone would have to reconstruct the time for me." [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Other accounts place it around 9:25. [About 9:25, Miami Herald, 9/14/01, about 9:25, New York Times, 9/15/01 (C), "by 9:25," Washington Post, 9/21/01] The call is said to have lasted about a minute. [Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B)] By some accounts, his warning of that planes have hit the WTC comes later in a second phone call (see (After 9:30 a.m.)). [Washington Post, 9/21/01] In one account, Barbara Olson calls from inside a bathroom. [Evening Standard, 9/12/01] In another account, she is near a pilot, and in yet another she is near two pilots. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Ted Olson's account of how the call is made is also strange and conflicting. Three days after 9/11, he says, "I found out later that she was having, for some reason, to call collect and was having trouble getting through. You know how it is to get through to a government institution when you're calling collect." He says he doesn't know what kind of phone she used, but he has "assumed that it must have been on the airplane phone, and that she somehow didn't have access to her credit cards. Otherwise, she would have used her cell phone and called me." [Fox News, 9/14/01] But in another interview on the same day, he says that she used a cell phone and that she may have gotten cut off "because the signals from cell phones coming from airplanes don't work that well." [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Six months later, he claims she called collect "using the phone in the passengers' seats." [Telegraph, 3/5/02] But it isn't possible to call on seatback phones without a credit card, which would render making a collect call moot. Many other details are conflicting, and Olson faults his memory and says that he "tends to mix the two [calls] up because of the emotion of the events." [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] The couple liked to joke that they were at the heart of what Hillary Clinton famously called a "vast, right-wing conspiracy." Ted Olson was a controversial choice as Solicitor General, since he argued on behalf of Bush before the Supreme Court in the 2000 presidential election controversy before being chosen. Barbara Olson was known for her extremely partisan attacks on President Clinton. For instance, a few weeks before 9/11 she had called Clinton's mother a "barfly" who let herself be used by men. [Telegraph, 3/5/02] Some have questioned if Ted Olson can be trusted in his account of the call, since he has stated that lying to the public is justifiable. [Sydney Morning Herald, 3/20/02] Between his memory and his approval of lying for partisan ends, can Ted Olson's account be trusted? This is the only call from Flight 77, and the only call to mention box cutters.

(After 9:25 a.m.) Theodore (Ted) Olson, the Justice Department's Solicitor General, calls the Justice Department's control center to tell about his wife's call from Flight 77 (see (9:25 a.m.)). Accounts vary whether the Justice Department already knows of the hijack or not. [Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B), Channel 4 News, 9/13/01, New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] Olson merely says, "They just absorbed the information. And they promised to send someone down right away." He assumes they then "pass the information on to the appropriate people." [Fox News, 9/14/01]


FAA National Operations Manager Ben Sliney [USA Today]

(9:26 a.m.) Jane Garvey, head of the FAA, "almost certainly after getting an okay from the White House, initiate[s] a national ground stop, which forbids takeoffs and requires planes in the air to get down as soon as reasonable. The order, which has never been implemented since flying was invented in 1903, applie[s] to virtually every single kind of machine that can takeoff — civilian, military, or law enforcement." Military and law enforcement flights are allowed to resume at 10:31 a.m. A limited number of military flights - the FAA won't reveal details - are allowed to fly during this ban. [Time, 9/14/01] Garvey later calls it "a national ground stop ... that prevented any aircraft from taking off." [House Committee, 9/21/01] Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta also later says, "As soon as I was aware of the nature and scale of the attack, I called from the White House to order the air traffic system to land all aircraft, immediately and without exception." [State Department, 9/20/01] 4,452 planes are flying in the continental US at the time. A later account says Ben Sliney, the FAA's National Operations Manager, makes the decision without consulting his superiors, like Jane Garvey, first. It would be remarkable if Sliney was the one to make the decision, because 9/11 is Sliney's first day on the job as National Operations Manager, "the chess master of the air traffic system." [USA Today, 8/13/02] When he had accepted the job a couple of months earlier, he had asked, "What is the limit of my authority?" The man who had promoted him replied, "Unlimited." [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] About 500 planes land in the next 20 minutes, and then much more urgent orders to land are issued at 9:45 a.m. [USA Today, 8/13/02] [9:25, Time, 9/14/01, 9:25, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:26, House Committee, 9/21/01, 9:26, Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, 9:26, Newsday, 9/23/01, 9:26, AP, 8/19/02, 9:26, Newsday, 9/10/02] How could the military respond if military takeoffs are prohibited?


Flight controller Danielle O'Brien. [ABC]

(9:27 a.m.) Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice, in their bunker below the White House, are told by an aide that an airplane is 50 miles outside Washington and headed toward it. The plane is Flight 77. Federal Aviation Deputy Chief Monty Belger says, "Well we're watching this target on the radar, but the transponder's been turned off. So we, have no identification." They are given further notices when the plane is 30 miles away, then 10 miles away, until it disappears from radar (time unknown, but the plane is said to be traveling about 500 mph and was 30 miles away at 9:30, so 50 miles would be about 3 minutes before that). [ABC News, 9/11/02] The Dulles tower flight controller who is said to first spot Flight 77's appearance near Washington, Danielle O'Brien, previously claims she doesn't find its radar blip until it is around 12 and 14 miles from Washington, and that Cheney is notified only after that. [ABC, 10/24/01, ABC, 10/24/01 (B)] O'Brien's account does not jibe with the fact that the FAA warned that the plane was headed toward Washington at 9:24 (see 9:24 a.m.).

(9:30 a.m.) Chris Stephenson, the flight controller in charge of the Washington airport tower, says that he is called by the Secret Service around this time. He is told an unidentified aircraft is speeding toward Washington. Stephenson looks at the radarscope and sees Flight 77 about five miles to the west. He looks out the tower window and sees the plane turning to the right and descending. He follows it until it disappears behind a building in nearby Crystal City, Virginia. [USA Today, 8/12/02] However, according to another account, just before 9:30 a.m., a controller in the same tower has an unidentified plane on radar, "heading toward Washington and without a transponder signal to identify it. It's flying fast, she says: almost 500 mph. And it's heading straight for the heart of the city. Could it be American Flight 77? The FAA warns the Secret Service." [USA Today, 8/13/02] So does the Secret Service warn the FAA, or vice versa?

(9:30 a.m.) Flight controllers mistakenly suspect that Delta Flight 1989, flying west over Pennsylvania, has been hijacked. The controllers briefly suspect the sound of hijackers' voices in Flight 93 is coming from this plane, only a few miles away. The flight "joins a growing list of suspicious jets. Some of their flight numbers will be scrawled on a white dry-erase board throughout the morning" at FAA headquarters. Miscommunications lead to further suspicion of Flight 1989 even after the source of the hijacker's message is confirmed to come from Flight 93. The flight lands in Cleveland at 10:10. Eventually, about 11 flights will be suspected, with four of them actually hijacked. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)]


Right wing author and political commentator Barbara Olson. [CNN]

(After 9:30 a.m.) About five minutes after Barbara Olson called her husband Ted Olson, the Justice Department's Solicitor General, she calls again (note the timing of both calls is extremely vague.) [About 9:30, five minutes after first call, Miami Herald, 9/14/01] A few days later, Ted Olson describes the conversation: "She said the plane had been high hijacked shortly after takeoff and they had been circling around, I think were the words she used. She reported to me that she could see houses. I asked her which direction the plane was going. She paused -- there was a pause there. I think she must have asked someone else. She said I think it's going northeast.... She told me that [the hijackers] did not know she was making this phone call." [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] She doesn't mention the nationality, number, or other details of the hijackers. Then the phone goes dead, he doesn't know why. [CNN, 9/14/01 (C), Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B)] He also says that she said, "The pilot had announced that the plane had been hijacked. She said it had been hijacked shortly after takeoff." [Fox News, 9/14/01] Her last words before she was cut off were, "What do I tell the pilots to do?" [BBC, 9/13/01] She had asked this already in her first phone call. [Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B)] Then the phone goes dead supposedly "moments before" the plane crashes [Newsweek, 9/29/01], but actually Ted Olson's timing recall is so vague that it isn't clear if this is when the call happens, and he says he doesn't know why the call ends (see [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)]). The call is originally said to last about a minute [Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B)], but Olson later says it could have lasted up to four minutes. [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Note that there is some reason to doubt the contents of this call, since the only source appears to be Ted Olson, who has given vague and contradictory accounts, and has stated a willingness to lie to the public (see (9:25 a.m.)).

(9:33 - 9:38 a.m.) Radar data shows Flight 77 crossing the Capitol Beltway and headed toward the Pentagon. But the plane, flying more than 400 mph, is too high when it nears the Pentagon at 9:35, crossing the Pentagon at about 7,000 feet up. [CBS News, 9/21/01, Boston Globe, 11/23/01] The plane then makes a difficult high-speed descending turn. It makes a "downward spiral, turning almost a complete circle and dropping the last 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half minutes. The steep turn is so smooth, the sources say, it's clear there [is] no fight for control going on." [CBS News, 9/21/01] It gets very near the White House during this turn. "Sources say the hijacked jet ... [flies] several miles south of the restricted airspace around the White House." [CBS News, 9/21/01] The Telegraph later writes, "If the airliner had approached much nearer to the White House it might have been shot down by the Secret Service, who are believed to have a battery of ground-to-air Stinger missiles ready to defend the president's home. The Pentagon is not similarly defended." [Telegraph, 9/16/01]White House spokesman Ari Fleischer suggests the plane goes even closer to the White House, saying, "That is not the radar data that we have seen. The plane was headed toward the White House." [CBS News, 9/21/01]If Flight 77 passed within a few miles of the White House, why couldn't it have been shot down by the weapons on the White House?

(9:34 a.m.) Bush's motorcade leaves Booker Elementary School and heads toward Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. [9:34, Washington Times, 10/8/02, 9:35, Telegraph, 12/16/01] A few days after 9/11, Sarasota's main newspaper reports, "Sarasota barely skirted its own disaster. As it turns out, terrorists targeted the president and Air Force One on Tuesday, maybe even while they were on the ground in Sarasota and certainly not long after. The Secret Service learned of the threat just minutes after Bush left Booker Elementary." [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/16/01] A year later, Chief of Staff Andrew Card says, "As we were heading to Air Force One, we did hear about the Pentagon attack, and we also learned, what turned out to be a mistake, but we learned that the Air Force One package could in fact be a target." [MSNBC, 9/9/02] Real threat or not, this only increases the strangeness that Bush wasn't immediately evacuated as some of his security recommended at 9:03. And why would Bush take off in Air Force One without fighter escort if a threat to Air Force One was just discovered?

(9:37 a.m.) The blip representing Flight 77 that radar technicians have been watching on their screens disappears. Its last known position is six miles from the Pentagon and four miles from the White House. [CBS News, 9/21/01, Newhouse News, 1/25/02, ABC News, 9/11/02, USA Today, 8/13/02] Supposedly, just before radar contact is lost, FAA headquarters is told, "The aircraft is circling. It's turning away from the White House." The plane is said to be traveling 500 mph, or a mile every seven seconds. [USA Today, 8/13/02]

9:38 a.m. A C-130 transport plane that has been sent to follow Flight 77 flies a short distance from Flight 77 as it crashes. This curious C-130 is the same C-130 that is 17 miles from Flight 93 when it later crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/11/02, Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] A number of people see this plane fly remarkably close to Flight 77:
1) Kelly Knowles says that seconds after seeing Flight 77 pass, she sees a "second plane that seemed to be chasing the first [pass] over at a slightly different angle." [Daily Press, 9/15/01]
2) Keith Wheelhouse says the second plane was a C-130, two others aren't certain. [Daily Press, 9/15/01] Wheelhouse "believes it flew directly above the American Airlines jet, as if to prevent two planes from appearing on radar while at the same time guiding the jet toward the Pentagon." As Flight 77 descends toward the Pentagon, the second plane veers off west. [Daily Press, 9/14/01]
3) USA Today reporter Vin Narayanan, who saw the Pentagon explosion, says, "I hopped out of my car after the jet exploded, nearly oblivious to a second jet hovering in the skies." [USA Today, 9/17/01]
4) USA Today Editor Joel Sucherman sees a second plane. [eWeek, 9/13/01]
5) Brian Kennedy, press secretary for a congressman, and others also see a second plane. [Sacramento Bee, 9/15/01]
6) An unnamed worker at Arlington national cemetery "said a mysterious second plane was circling the area when the first one attacked the Pentagon." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/20/01]
7) John O'Keefe is driving a car when he sees the Pentagon crash. "The first thing I did was pull over onto the shoulder, and when I got out of the car I saw another plane flying over my head.... Then the plane -- it looked like a C-130 cargo plane -- started turning away from the Pentagon, it did a complete turnaround." [New York Law Journal, 9/12/01]
The pilot of the C-130, Lt. Col. Steve O'Brien, is later interviewed, but his account differs from the on-the-ground eyewitnesses. He claims that just before the explosion, "With all of the East Coast haze, I had a hard time picking him out," implying he is not nearby. He also says that just after the explosion, "I could see the outline of the Pentagon," again implying he is not nearby. He then asks "the controller whether [I] should set up a low orbit around the building," but he is told "to get out of the area as quickly as possible. 'I took the plane once through the plume of smoke and thought if this was a terrorist attack, it probably wasn't a good idea to be flying through that plume.'" [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/11/02] Why does this C-130 get so close to Flight 77?


A thorough security check before boarding Air Force One delays takeoff. [AFP]

9:43 a.m. Bush's motorcade arrives at Sarasota's airport and pulls up close to Air Force One. He learns a plane has hit the Pentagon as the motorcade gets near the airport. Bush immediately boards the plane. [Washington Times, 10/8/02, Telegraph, 12/16/01] Security then does an extra-thorough search of all the baggage for the other passengers, delaying takeoff until 9:55. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B)]

10:00 a.m. There are reports on television of a fire at the State Department. At 10:20 a.m. and apparently again at 10:33 a.m. it is reported this was caused by a car bomb. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/01, Telegraph, 12/16/01] Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage sees this on television, goes outside the building to see if it true, finds out it isn't, and calls his colleagues to inform them that the reports are false. [ABC, 9/15/02 (B)]

10:02 a.m. The Sears Tower in Chicago begins evacuation. Other prominent tall buildings and landmarks begin evacuating about an hour later. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/01]

(Before 10:06 a.m.) Flight 93 apparently starts to break up before it crashes, because debris is found very far away from the crash site. [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01] The plane is generally obliterated upon landing, except for one half-ton piece of engine found over a mile away. [Independent, 8/13/02] One story calls what happened to this engine "intriguing," because "the heat-seeking, air-to-air Sidewinder missiles aboard an F-16 would likely target one of the Boeing 757's two large engines." [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01] Smaller debris fields are also found two, three, and eight miles away from the main crash site. [CBS, 5/23/02] Eight miles away, local media quote residents speaking of a second plane in the area and burning debris falling from the sky. [Reuters, 9/13/01] Residents outside Shanksville reported "discovering clothing, books, papers and what appeared to be human remains. Some residents said they collected bags-full of items to be turned over to investigators. Others reported what appeared to be crash debris floating in Indian Lake, nearly six miles from the immediate crash scene. Workers at Indian Lake Marina said that they saw a cloud of confetti-like debris descend on the lake and nearby farms minutes after hearing the explosion...." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/01] Moments after the crash, Carol Delasko initially thinks someone had blown up a boat on Indian Lake: "It just looked like confetti raining down all over the air above the lake." [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/01] Investigators say that far-off wreckage "probably was spread by the cloud created when the plane crashed and dispersed by a 10 mph southeasterly wind." [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] But much of the wreckage is found sooner than that wind could have carried it, and not always southeast.

(After 10:06 a.m.) Just after Flight 93 crashes, "Up above, a fighter jet streak[s] by." [ABC, 9/15/02]

(After 10:06 a.m.) At some point after Flight 93 crashes, NORAD diverts "unarmed Michigan Air National Guard fighter jets that happened to be flying a training mission in northern Michigan since the time of the first attack." [AP, 8/30/02] Why weren't they diverted an hour or more earlier?

10:12 a.m. CNN reports an explosion at Capitol Hill. CNN determines this is untrue 12 minutes later. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/01]

10:30 a.m. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld finally enters the Pentagon's National Military Command Center (NMCC), where the military's response to the 9/11 attacks is being coordinated. [CNN, 9/4/02] Rumsfeld was supposedly in the Pentagon meeting with Representative Cox (R) about missile defense and terrorism until the Pentagon explosion. [AP, 9/16/01, Rep. Cox Statement, 9/11/01] He then went outside to help the wounded of the attack until this time (see (9:38 a.m.)). Brigadier General Montague Winfield later says, "For 30 minutes we couldn't find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the National Military Command Center." [ABC News, 9/11/02] Shouldn't Rumsfeld have reported to the NMCC long before? For nearly an hour, apparently no one knew if he was killed in the Pentagon explosion or not.

10:31 a.m. "The FAA [allows] military, and law enforcement flights to resume (and some flights that the FAA can't reveal that were already airborne)." All civilian, military and law enforcement flights were ordered to land as soon as reasonably possible about one hour earlier (see (9:26 a.m.)). [Time, 9/14/01]

(10:42 a.m.) Roughly around this time, the FAA tells the White House that it still cannot account for three planes in addition to the four that have crashed. It takes the FAA another hour and a half to account for the three other aircraft. [Time, 9/14/01] Vice President Cheney later says, "That's what we started working off of, that list of six, and we could account for two of them in New York. The third one we didn't know what had happened to. It turned out it had hit the Pentagon, but the first reports on the Pentagon attack suggested a helicopter and then later a private jet." [Los Angeles Times, 9/17/01] Amongst false rumors during the day are reports of a bomb aboard a United Airlines jet that just landed in Rockford, Illinois. "Another plane disappears from radar and might have crashed in Kentucky. The reports are so serious that [FAA head Jane] Garvey notifies the White House that there has been another crash. Only later does she learn the reports are erroneous." [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] Could the crash in Kentucky refer to Flight 77, which did disappear from the radar screen over Kentucky? Its exact path back to Washington has never been known precisely but only estimated.


Colonel Mark Tillman in the cockpit of Air Force One. [CBS]

(10:55 a.m.) Colonel Mark Tillman, pilot of Air Force One, is told there is a threat to Bush's plane. Tillman has an armed guard placed at his cockpit door while the Secret Service double-checks the identity of everyone on board. Then traffic controllers warn that a suspect airliner is dead ahead. Says Tillman, "Coming out of Sarasota there was one call that said there was an airliner off our nose that they did not have contact with." Tillman takes evasive action, pulling his plane high above normal traffic. [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] Reporters on board notice the rise in elevation. [10:55 according to a reporter who writes it in her notebook, Dallas Morning News, 8/28/02, "just before 11:00," Salon, 9/12/01] The report is apparently a false alarm. The alarm shows the folly of having Bush get in Air Force One at this time without a fighter escort.


President Bush (center, stooped down) and staff look out the windows of Air Force One to see their newly arrived fighter escorts. [White House]

(Between 10:55 - 11:30 a.m.) No fighters escort Bush's Air Force One until somewhere in this time period. At 10:32, Cheney said it would take until about 11:10 to 12:00 to get a fighter escort to Air Force One. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] According to one account, around 10:00 Air Force One "is joined by an escort of F-16 fighters from a base near Jacksonville, Florida," but this is contradicted by Cheney's comment reported a month later. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Another account says, "At 10:41, ... Air Force One headed toward Jacksonville to meet jets scrambled to give the presidential jet its own air cover." [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] But apparently when Air Force One takes evasive action around 10:55 there is still no fighter escort (see 10:55 a.m.). NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold later says, "We scrambled available airplanes from Tyndall [near Tallahassee, not Jacksonville, Florida] and then from Ellington in Houston, Texas," but he doesn't say when. [Code One Magazine, 1/02] In another account, two F-16s eventually arrive, piloted by Shane Brotherton and Randy Roberts, from the Texas Air National Guard, not from any Florida base. [CBS, 9/11/02] By 11:30 there are six fighters protecting Air Force One. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Given that two of the seven bases said to have fighters on alert on 9/11 are in Florida, Homestead Air Station, 185 miles from Sarasota, and Tyndall Air Station, 235 miles from Sarasota, not to mention the Jacksonville base, why don't fighters escort Air Force One from takeoff, or a few minutes later?


The approximate route of Bush's journey on Air Force One is shown in yellow. Keep in mind the plane flies in circles somewhere in Florida for about 40 minutes before heading west. Why do the first planes scrambled to defend the plane come from Ellington, Texas, and not any of the three likely Florida bases?

(11:00 a.m.) FAA's command center is told that all the flights over the United States are accounted for and complying with controllers. Every commercial flight in US airspace - about a quarter of the planes still in the air - is within 40 miles of its destination. Others are still over the oceans, and many are heading toward Canada. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] There are 923 planes still in the air over the US. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)]

11:08 a.m. A message sent from Korean Air Flight 85 is misinterpreted to indicate a possible hijacking. At 1:24 p.m. the pilots accidentally issue a hijacking alert as the plane nears Alaska on its way to Anchorage, Alaska. Two fighters tail the plane, and it is told it will be shot down unless it avoids populated areas. Strategic sites are evacuated across Alaska. The plane eventually lands safely in Whitehorse, Canada, at 2:54 p.m. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (B)]

11:30 a.m. General Wesley Clark, former supreme commander of NATO, says on television, "This is clearly a coordinated effort. It hasn't been announced that its over.... Only one group has this kind of ability and that is Osama bin Laden's." [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/01]

(12:00 Noon) Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), a member of both the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, says he has just been "briefed by the highest levels of the FBI and of the intelligence community." He says, "They've come to the conclusion that this looks like the signature of Osama bin Laden, and that he may be the one behind this." [Salon, 9/12/01] At 12:05, CIA Director Tenet tells Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that a message from a bin Laden agent celebrating the attacks was intercepted two hours earlier (see (9:53 a.m.)). Rumsfeld writes in his notes that the lead is "vague," that it "might not mean something," and that there is "no good basis for hanging hat." More evidence suggesting an al-Qaeda link comes several hours later (see (2:40 p.m.)). [CBS, 9/4/02]

9:00 p.m. Bush meets with his full National Security Council, followed roughly half an hour later by a meeting with a smaller group of key advisers. Bush and his advisors have already decided bin Laden is behind the attacks. CIA Director Tenet says that al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan are essentially one and the same. Bush says, tell the Taliban we're finished with them. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

(11:30 p.m.) Before going to sleep, Bush writes in his diary, The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today. ... We think it's Osama bin Laden." [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

 

UPDATED ENTRIES RELATING TO THE DAY OF 9/11

The scrambling (sending into the air) of fighter aircraft at the first sign of trouble is a routine phenomenon. During the year 2000, there are 425 "unknowns" - pilots who didn't file or diverted from flight plans or used the wrong frequency. Fighters are scrambled in response 129 times in cases where problems are not immediately resolved. After 9/11, such scrambles go from about twice a week to three or four times a day. [Calgary Herald, 10/13/01] Between September 2000 and June 2001, fighters are scrambled 67 times. [AP, 8/13/02] General Ralph E. Eberhart, NORAD Commander in Chief, says that before 9/11, "Normally, our units fly 4-6 sorties a month in support of the NORAD air defense mission." [FNS, 10/25/01] Statistics on how many minutes fighters take to scramble before 9/11 apparently are not released.

(6:00 a.m.) 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. [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, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), Telegraph, 12/16/01] A van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent pull up to the Colony stating they have a “poolside” interview with the president. They are turned away for not having an appointment. [Longboat Observer, 9/26/01] Was this an assassination attempt modeled on the one used on Afghani leader Ahmed Massoud two days earlier? [Time, 8/4/02]

8:01 a.m.  Flight 93 is delayed for 41 minutes on the runway in Newark, finally taking off at 8:42. 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. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] [Newsweek, 9/22/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] Apparently Flight 93 has to wait in a line of about a dozen planes before it can take off. [USA Today, 8/12/02]

(After 8:13 a.m.) Shortly after flight controllers ask Flight 11 to climb to 35,000 feet, the transponder stops transmitting. The transponder is the electronic device that identifies the jet on the controller's screen, gives its exact location and altitude, and also allows a four-digit emergency hijack code to be sent. Air traffic manager Glenn Michael says later, "We considered it at that time to be a possible hijacking." ["When given permission to climb to 35,000 feet," AP, 8/12/02, "8:13:47 — 46R: AAL11, now climb maintain FL350," New York Times, 10/16/01, shortly after trying emergency frequencies, Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01] "Just moments" after radio contact is lost (which is discussed by flight controllers at 8:15), the transponder is turned off. [MSNBC, 9/15/01] NORAD officially says it is not notified the plane is hijacked until 8:40 - 27 minutes later, though one NORAD employee contradicts this (see 8:31 a.m. and 8:40 a.m.). [NORAD, 9/18/01] Colonel Robert Marr, head of NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector, later claims the transponder is turned off some time after 8:30. [ABC News, 9/11/02]


Daniel Lewin.

(Before 8:21 a.m.) Four hijackers get up from their seats and stab or shoot passenger Daniel Lewin, who once belonged to the Israel Defense Force, Sayeret Matkal, a top-secret counter-terrorist unit. He was sitting in front of one of the three hijackers in business class. This could have happened even before 8:13, but logically seems to have come not much before 8:21. A very preliminary FAA memo says Lewin is shot by Satam Al Suqami at 9:20. Clearly the time is a typo; perhaps 8:20 is meant? [ABC News, 7/18/02, UPI, 3/6/02, Washington Post, 3/2/02] Perhaps Lewin just happened to be there, and, with his past training, tried to be a hero and stop the hijack? Did the hijackers have guns or is the FAA memo wrong?

(8:21 a.m.) Inside Flight 11 and near the back of the plane, flight attendant Betty Ong calls Vanessa Minter at American Airlines reservations in North Carolina, using a seatback GTE Airfone. She begins relaying information to manager Craig Marquis at American Airlines' operations center in Fort Worth, but she can't transfer the call. Another supervisor named Nydia Gonzales also listens in from 8:27. Ong talks for 25 minutes, until the plane crashes. The FBI says that only the first four minutes were recorded, but won't release the tape. Other flight attendants relay information about what is happening in the front. She says the hijackers sprayed something in the first-class cabin to keep people out of the front of the plane. It burns her eyes and she is having trouble breathing. In hushed tones, she tells of a passenger dead (presumably Daniel Lewin) and a crew member dying. ["25 minute phone call until crash," ABC News, 7/18/02, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, USA Today, 8/13/02]


Flight attendants Amy Sweeney (left) and Betty Ong (right).

(8:21 a.m.) Another Flight 11 attendant, Amy Sweeney, calls American Airlines ground manager Michael Woodward and speaks calmly to him for 25 minutes until the plane crashes. Supposedly the call is not recorded but Woodward took notes. [ABC News, 7/18/02] However, the Boston Globe says it has a transcript of the call. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Her first comment is, "Listen, and listen to me very carefully. I'm on Flight 11. The airplane has been hijacked." She identifies four hijackers (not the five said to be on the plane) and gives the seat numbers for them. Even before the plane crashes, staff are able to determine the names, phone numbers, addresses, and credit card information for these four hijackers, including Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari. She reports that two flight attendants have been stabbed and a passenger has had his throat slashed. She says the hijackers seem to be of Middle Eastern descent. ["Over the next 25 minutes," ABC News, 7/18/02, AP, 10/5/01]


Flight 11 pilot John Ogonowski.

(8:24 a.m.) The pilot of Flight 11, John Ogonowski, activates the talk-back button, enabling Boston flight controllers to 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." A controller 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." [8:24:38, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:24:38, New York Times, 10/16/01, 8:24, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, 8:28, New York Times, 9/12/01, before 8:28, Channel 4 News, 9/13/01] Immediately after hearing this voice, the controller "knew right then that he was working a hijack." [Village Voice, 9/13/01] Ben Sliney, the FAA's National Operations Manager, soon hears of the message "We have some planes" and later says the phrase haunts him all morning. [USA Today, 8/13/02] The transponder beacon and radio have been off for 10 minutes, the flight has been off course for about four minutes and only now he knows it's a hijack? Even so, no one notifies NORAD for another 14 minutes?

8:28 a.m.  Boston flight control radar sees Flight 11 making an unplanned 100-degree turn to the south (they're already way off-course). Flight controllers say they never lost sight of the flight, though they could no longer determine altitude once the transponder was turned off. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01] 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 Center could still track it on primary radar...." [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Boston flight controller Mark Hodgkins later says, "I watched the target of American 11 the whole way down." [ABC, 9/6/02] Clearly, an early report stating, "Boston airport officials said they did not spot the plane's course until it had crashed, and said the control tower had no unusual communication with the pilots or any crew members" [Washington Post, 9/12/01], is incorrect, as is another account that says flight controllers only find Flight 11 at 8:42. [Newsday, 9/10/02] But apparently NEADS, part of NORAD, has different radar, and even at 8:40 they cannot find Flight 11. Boston has to periodically update NEADS on Flight 11's position by telephone until NEADS finally finds it a few minutes before it crashes into the WTC. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, ABC News, 9/11/02, Newhouse News, 1/25/02]


Secretary of State Colin Powell leaves Lima, Peru after hearing the news. [AFP]

(Around 8:30 a.m.) Just prior to learning about the 9/11 attacks, many of the US's leaders are scattered across the US and overseas. Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice are at their offices in the White House. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is at his office in the Pentagon, meeting with a delegation from Capitol Hill. Secretary of State Powell is in Lima, Peru. 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. General Henry Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is flying across the Atlantic on the way to Europe. Attorney General Ashcroft is flying to Milwaukee. 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] Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh is at a conference in Montana. [ABC, 9/14/02 (B)] George Bush Sr. is supposedly on a flight from Washington to St. Paul, Minnesota, and has his plane diverted to Milwaukee when the air ban begins. [Time, 9/24/01]

(8:35 a.m.) Bush's motorcade leaves for Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. [8:30, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 8:35, Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01, 8:39, Washington Times, 10/7/02] He said farewell to the management at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort at 8:20. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Note that an early report that as Bush is leaving the resort, a reporter asks him, "Do you know what's going on in New York?" [ABC News, 9/11/01], appears to be mistaken. Perhaps it happens when Bush arrives at the school?


NORAD commander Larry Arnold. [Code One]

(8:40 a.m.) Boston flight control supposedly notifies NORAD that Flight 11 has been hijacked (another account says it happens earlier (see 8:31 a.m.). [8:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:38, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:40, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:40, AP, 8/19/02, 8:40, Newsday, 9/10/02] This is about 20 minutes after traffic control noticed the plane had its transponder beacon and radio turned off. Such a delay in notification would be in strict violation of regulations. Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Powell, a member of the Air National Guard at NEADS, part of NORAD, takes the call from Boston Center. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, Newhouse News, 1/25/02] He gives the phone to Lt. Colonel Dawne Deskins, regional Mission Crew Chief for the Vigilant Guardian exercise: "I picked up the line and I identified myself to the Boston Center 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." Deskins then tells Colonel Robert Marr, head of NEADS, "I have FAA on the phone, the shout line, Boston Center. 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 later says, "I said go ahead and scramble them, and we'll get the authorities later." [ABC News, 9/11/02] Deskins later says that initially she and "everybody" else at NEADS thought the call was part of the Vigilant Guardian exercise. After the phone call she had to clarify to everyone that it was not a drill. [Newhouse News, 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]

(8:40 a.m.) Major Daniel Nash (codenamed Nasty) and Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy (codenamed Duff) are the two F-15 pilots who would scramble after Flight 11 and then Flight 175. Nash says that at this time, a colleague at the Otis Air National Guard Base tells him that a flight out of Boston has been hijacked, and to be on alert. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] NEADS senior technician Jeremy Powell also later says that he telephones Otis Air Base and tells it to upgrade its "readiness posture." [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Duffy also says he is told in advance about the hijacking by the FAA in Boston. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Nash and Duffy put on their flight gear and get ready. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] They are already halfway to their jets when "battle stations" are sounded. Duffy briefs Nash on what he knows, and, "About 4-5 minutes later, we [get] the scramble order and [take] off." [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] If this is true, why isn't the order to scramble given when the FAA called the pilots, instead of six minutes later? And even stranger, why does it take another six minutes (8:52) for the fighters to take off, if they had been given a heads up warning to get ready? Had the order to scramble been given now, there would be plenty of time for these fighters to reach New York before Flight 175.

(After 8:46 a.m.) Brigadier General Montague Winfield is in command of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), "the military's worldwide nerve center." [CNN, 9/4/02] According to NORAD command director Captain Michael Jellinek, at some point not long after the WTC hit, telephone links are established with the National Military Command Center (NMCC) located inside the Pentagon (but on the opposite side from where the Pentagon explosion will happen), Canada's equivalent command center, Strategic Command, theater commanders, and federal emergency-response agencies. An Air Threat Conference Call is initiated. At one time or another, Bush, Cheney, key military officers, leaders of the FAA and NORAD, the White House, and Air Force One are heard on the open line. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, CNN, 9/4/02, ABC News, 9/11/02] Says Winfield, "All of the governmental agencies there that, that were involved in any activity that was going on in the United States at that point, were in that conference." [ABC News, 9/11/02] The call continues right through the Pentagon explosion, as the NMCC doesn't even feel the impact. [CNN, 9/4/02] However, despite being in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't join the NMCC or the call until 10:30 (see 10:30 a.m.).

(Between 8:46 - 9:03 a.m.) As soon as Boston flight controllers hear news that a plane might have hit the WTC, they know it was Flight 11. They have been tracking it continually since it began behaving erratically. It takes "several minutes" for Boston to report to NORAD that Flight 11 is responsible. [New York Times, 9/13/01 (F), Newhouse News, 1/25/02] However, flight controllers in New York City complain that they aren't given a conclusive report of what happened to Flight 11 until just before Flight 175 crashes at 9:03. "We had 90 to 120 seconds; it wasn't any 18 minutes," says one controller, referring to the actual elapsed time between the two crashes. Another controller says: "They dove into the airspace. By the time anybody saw anything, it was over." [New York Times, 9/13/01 (F)]

(After 8:46 a.m.) A few minutes after the 8:46 WTC crash, CIA Director Tenet is told of the crash while he is eating breakfast with former Senator David Boren. Boren says Tenet is told that the WTC has been attacked by an airplane: "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." [ABC News, 9/11/02] Why is Bush supposedly under the impression the crash was an accident well after Tenet has been told it was an attack? Does Tenet try to communicate with Bush at this time?

8:48 a.m. The first news reports appear on TV and radio that a plane may have crashed into the WTC. [New York Times, 9/15/01, CNN, 9/11/01] Many reports don't come until a few minutes later. For instance ABC first breaks into regular programming with the story at 8:52. [ABC, 9/14/02]


Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Richard Myers (left) [Reuters] fills in for Chairman Harry Shelton (right), who is out of contact.

(After 8:48 a.m.) Air Force General Richard Myers, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sees the first WTC crash on television. Myers will be 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. He sees the TV in an outer office of Senator Max Cleland, 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 remains oblivious that there is an emergency, only leaving the meeting with Cleland right as the Pentagon explosion takes place at 9:38. [AFPS, 10/23/01, ABC News, 9/11/02] 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." [Myers Confirmation Testimony, 9/13/01] NORAD claims the first fighters are scrambled even before the first WTC hit. [NORAD, 9/18/01] Which of Myers' statements is the lie, or are both of them lies?

(8:50 a.m.) Rich ''Doc'' Miles, manager of United's Chicago system operations center, receives a call from a mechanic at an airline maintenance center in San Francisco that takes in-flight calls from flight attendants about broken items. The mechanic says a female flight attendant from Flight 175 just called and said, ''Oh my God. The crew has been killed, a flight attendant has been stabbed. We've been hijacked.'' Then the line went dead. A dispatcher monitoring the flight then sends messages to the plane's cockpit computer but gets no response. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01]

(After 8:50 a.m.) "During the hour or so that American Airlines Flight 77 was under the control of hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side of the Pentagon, military officials in [the Pentagon's National Military Command Center (see After 8:46 a.m.)] were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do." [New York Times, 9/15/01] Since the Pentagon was struck around 9:38, this means that shortly after the first signs of trouble, clear by at least 8:50, the military knew that Flight 77 was hijacked, even though, supposedly, NORAD is not notified until 9:24.

8:52 a.m. Two F-15s take off from Otis ANG Base, six minutes after being ordered to go after Flight 11, which has already crashed. [8:52, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:52, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:53, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:52, Washington Post, 9/15/01, 8:52, ABC News, 9/11/02] This is 38 minutes after flight controllers lost contact with the plane. They go after Flight 175 instead. According to Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy, one of the pilots, before takeoff, a fellow officer had told him "This looks like the real thing." He says, "It just seemed wrong. I just wanted to get there. I was in full-blower all the way." A NORAD commander has said the planes were stocked with extra fuel as well. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Full-blower is very rare - it means the fighters are going as fast as they can go. An F-15 can travel over 1875 mph. [Air Force News, 7/30/97] Duffy later says, "As we're climbing out, we go supersonic on the way, which is kind of nonstandard for us." He says his target destination is over Kennedy airport in New York City. [ABC News, 9/11/02] According to Major Gen. Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, "The pilots [fly] 'like a scalded ape,' topping 500 mph but [are] unable to catch up to the airliner." [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] ABC News later says, "The fighters are hurtling toward New York at mach 1.2, nearly 900 miles per hour." [ABC News, 9/11/02] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold says they head straight for New York City at about 1100 to 1200 mph. [MSNBC, 9/23/01 (C), Slate, 1/16/02] "An F-15 departing from Otis can reach New York City in 10 to 12 minutes, according to an Otis spokeswoman." [Cape Cod Times, 9/16/01] At an average speed of 1125 mph, they would reach the city in 10 minutes - 9:02. So if NORAD commander Arnold's speed is correct, these fighters should reach Flight 175 just before it crashes. Yet according to the NORAD timeline [NORAD, 9/18/01], these planes take about 19 minutes to reach New York City, traveling less than 600 mph.

(8:56 a.m.) The New York Times later writes, "'American 77, Indy,' the controller said, over and over. 'American 77, Indy, radio check. How do you read?' By 8:56 a.m., it was evident that Flight 77 was lost." Yet the same newspaper then points out NORAD is not notified about it for another 28 minutes and doesn't find that strange! [New York Times, 10/16/01] Another New York Times article points out that flight controllers learn Flight 77 has been hijacked "within a few minutes" of 8:48. [New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] Why are fighters not scrambled now to find Flight 77?

(9:01 a.m.) Bush later makes the following statement: "And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower - the TV was obviously on, and I use to fly myself, and I said, 'There's one terrible pilot.' And I said, 'It must have been a horrible accident.' But I was whisked off there - I didn't have much time to think about it." [CNN, 12/4/01] He has repeated the story on other occasions. [White House, 1/5/02, CBS, 9/11/02] However, it has been noted that Bush doesn't have access to a television until 15 or so minutes later. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] A Boston Herald article later says, "Think about that. Bush's remark implies he saw the first plane hit the tower. But we all know that video of the first plane hitting did not surface until the next day. Could Bush have meant he saw the second plane hit - which many Americans witnessed? No, because he said that he was in the classroom when Card whispered in his ear that a second plane hit." The article points out that Bush had told the story more than once, and asks, " How could the commander-in-chief have seen the plane fly into the first building - as it happened?" [Boston Herald, 10/22/02] By 8:31 or 8:40, NORAD knew that Flight 11 was hijacked, and by 8:43, they knew Flight 175 was hijacked. Bush has just been briefed by his National Security Advisor on the situation. How he can only think, "There's one terrible pilot," based on an impossible television viewing?

(9:03 a.m. and After) The minute Flight 175 hits the south tower, F-15 pilot Maj. Daniel Nash says that clear visibility allows him to see smoke pour out of Manhattan, even though NORAD says he is 71 miles away. However, he says he can't recall actually being told of the Flight 11 hit. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] He isn't told about the danger of Flight 175 until after it too has crashed and he is 60 miles away. [ABC, 9/14/02] And instead of being ordered to New York City, the two F-15s are ordered to hover in a 150-mile chunk of air space off the coast of Long Island. Nash states,"Neither the civilian controller or the military controller knew what they wanted us to do." But then a few minutes later, they receive orders to head to Manhattan for combat air patrol, and they do that for the next four hours. At no point are these pilots given permission to shoot down any airliners. Nash points out that even if he had reached New York City before Flight 175, he couldn't have shot it down because only the President could make that decision and he was indisposed at a public event. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] The pilot of the other fighter, Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy, says that after Flight 175 has crashed, "at that point they [say] the second aircraft just hit the World Trade Center. That was news to me. I thought we were still chasing American 11." [ABC News, 9/11/02] Why are the pilots not being told of their targets? Why are they being sent out into the ocean? Why is Bush reading a book about a goat when all this is happening?

(9:03 - 9:08 a.m.) In a series of stages, air traffic control managers ban aircraft from flying near the cities used by the hijackers. First, takeoffs and landings in New York City are stopped within a minute of the Flight 175 clash, without asking for permission from Washington. Boston and Newark follow suit in the new few minutes. Around 9:08, departures nationwide heading to or through New York and Boston airspace are canceled. [AP, 8/12/02, Newsday, 9/10/02, AP, 8/19/02, USA Today, 8/13/02] Also "a few minutes" after the Flight 175 crash into the WTC at 9:03, all takeoffs from Washington are stopped. [USA Today, 8/12/02, USA Today, 8/13/02]


NEADS commander Robert Marr. [BBC]

(After 9:03 a.m.) Shortly after the second WTC crash, calls from fighter units start "pouring into NORAD and sector operations centers, asking, 'What can we do to help?' At Syracuse, New York, an ANG commander [tells Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) commander Robert] Marr, 'Give me 10 min. and I can give you hot guns. Give me 30 min. and I'll have heat-seeker [missiles]. Give me an hour and I can give you slammers [Amraams].'" Marr replies, "I want it all." [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Supposedly, Marr says, "Get to the phones. Call every Air National Guard unit in the land. Prepare to put jets in the air. The nation is under attack." [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Canadian Major General Eric Findley, based in Colorado and in charge of NORAD that day, supposedly has his staff immediately order as many fighters in the air as possible. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02] Yet another account says those calls don't take place until about an hour later: "By 10:01 a.m., the command center began calling several bases across the country for help." In fact, it appears the first fighters don't take off from Syracuse until 10:44. This is over an hour and a half after Syracuse's initial offer to help, and not long after a general ban on all flights, including military ones, is lifted (see (9:26 a.m.) and (10:31 a.m.)). These are apparently the first fighters scrambled from the ground aside from three at Langley, two at Otis, an unknown number of fighters from Andrews near Washington, and two fighters that take off from Toledo at 10:16. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01] What happened to all these volunteer fighters? Armed fighters could be in the air from Syracuse by 9:20 a.m. or so, yet supposedly, when NORAD needs fighters to go after Flight 93 at least 20 minutes after that, the only ones they send are two completely unarmed fighters on a training mission near Detroit! [ABC News, 8/30/02] The only likely explanation is that these fighters are prohibited from taking off. Aircraft cannon (the "hot guns" mentioned) would have been all that was needed in such a situation, since any fighter would presumably follow procedure and intercept visually first, tip their wings from a very short distance away, fire a warning shot, and so on, before firing on the plane.

9:16 a.m.  The FAA informs NORAD that Flight 93 may have been hijacked. No fighters are scrambled in specific response, now or later (there is the possibility some fighters sent after Flight 77 later head toward Flight 93). Although this is what CNN is told by NORAD, its not clear why NORAD claims the flight is hijacked at this time (and NORAD's own timeline inexplicably fails to say when the FAA told them about the hijack, the only flight for which they fail to provide this data). [CNN, 9/17/01, NORAD, 9/18/01] However, there may be one explanation: Fox News later reports, "Investigators believe that on at least one flight, one of the hijackers was already inside the cockpit before takeoff." Cockpit voice recordings indicate that the pilots believed their guest was a colleague "and was thereby extended the typical airline courtesy of allowing any pilot from any airline to join a flight by sitting in the jumpseat, the folded over extra seat located inside the cockpit." [Fox News, 9/24/01] Note that all witnesses on the plane later report seeing only three hijackers, not four. So perhaps one hijacker tenuously held control of the cockpit as the original pilots still flew it, while waiting for reinforcements? Could this have happened before 9:00, when Flight 93 got a warning to beware of cockpit intrusions (see (After 9:00 a.m.))? F-16 fighters from the far-off Langley Air Force Base could reach Washington in seven minutes if they travel at 1100 mph, the speed NORAD commander Larry Arnold says fighters traveled to reach New York City earlier in the day. Note that the crash of Flight 77 is still 22 minutes away, so fighters scrambled to protect Washington from Flight 93 would protect it from Flight 77 as well, but none are sent at this time.

9:22 a.m. A British newspaper later strongly suggests that a fighter passed near Flight 93 well before it crashed. "A sonic boom - caused by supersonic flight - was picked up by an earthquake monitoring station in southern Pennsylvania, 60 miles from Shanksville." [Mirror, 9/13/02] However, the seismologists who initially reported this claim have apparently decided their sonic boom interpretation was mistaken.

9:24 a.m. The FAA notifies NORAD that Flight 77 "may" have been hijacked and appears to be headed toward Washington. [9:24, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:24, AP, 8/19/02, 9:25, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:25, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:25, Guardian, 10/17/01] This notification is 34 MINUTES after flight control lost contact with the plane and well after two planes have crashed, and even then the FAA only says "may"? Is such a long delay believable, or has that information been doctored to cover the lack of any scrambling of fighters? CNN notes that "after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned the military's air defense command that a hijacked airliner appeared to be headed toward Washington, the federal government failed to make any move to evacuate the White House, Capitol, State Department or the Pentagon." [CNN, 9/16/01] A Pentagon spokesman says, "The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way." Even Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his top aides in the Pentagon remain unaware of any danger up to the moment of impact 14 minutes later. [Newsday, 9/23/01] Most senators and congresspeople are in the Capitol building, which is not evacuated until 9:48 (see 9:48 a.m.). Only Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Rice and possibly a few others, are evacuated to safety a few minutes after 9:03 (see (After 9:03 a.m.)). Yet, since at least the Flight 11 crash, "military officials in a command center [the National Military Command Center] on the east side of the [Pentagon] [are] urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do." [New York Times, 9/15/01] Is it believable that everyone in the Pentagon outside of that command center, even the Secretary of Defense, would remain uninformed?


President Bush speaks at 9:29 in the library of Booker Elementary School. [From Booker Elementary website]

9:29 a.m. Still inside Booker Elementary School, Bush gives a brief speech in front of about 200 students, plus many teachers and reporters. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] He says, "Today we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country" (see the text of the speech here [Federal News Service, 9/11/01]). The talk occurs at exactly the time and place stated in his publicly announced advance schedule - making Bush a possible terrorist target. [9:24, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:28, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:30, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:30, New York Times, 9/12/01, speech begins at 9:29:55 according to an ABC News timing device, advanced schedule 9:30 in Federal News Service, 9/10/01]

9:30 a.m. The three F-16s scrambled toward Flight 77 get airborne. [9:30, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:30, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:35, Washington Post, 9/12/01] The pilots' names are Major Brad Derrig, Captain Craig Borgstrom, and Major Dean Eckmann, all from the North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Fighter Wing but stationed at Langley. [AP, 8/19/02 (C), ABC News, 9/11/02] If the NORAD departure time is correct, the F-16s would have to travel slightly over 700 mph to reach Washington before Flight 77 does. The maximum speed of an F-16 is 1500 mph. [AP, 6/16/00] Even at traveling 1300 mph, these planes could have reached Washington in six minutes - well before any claim of when Flight 77 crashed. Yet they obviously don't.

(9:30 a.m.) The FAA's emergency operations center gets up and running, five minutes after the FAA issued an order grounding all civilian, military, and law enforcement aircraft. [Time, 9/14/01]

9:33 a.m. According to the New York Times, Flight 77 becomes lost at 8:56 when it turns off its transponder, and stays lost until now. Washington flight controllers see a fast moving blip on their radar at this time and send a warning to Dulles Airport in Washington. [New York Times, 10/16/01] However, at 9:24 the FAA notifies NORAD Flight 77 is headed toward Washington (see 9:24 a.m.), and Vice President Cheney is told around 9:27 that radar is tracking Flight 77 heading toward Washington (see (9:27 a.m.)). Is it conceivable that an airplane could be lost inside US air space for 37 minutes?


A typical C-130.

9.36 a.m. The national airport instructs a military C-130 (Golfer 06) that has just departed Andrews Air Force Base to intercept Flight 77 and identify it. [Guardian, 10/17/01, New York Times, 10/16/01] Remarkably, this C-130 is the same C-130 that is 17 miles from Flight 93 when it later crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/11/02, Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] The pilot, Lt. Col. Steve O'Brien, claims he took off around 9:30, planning to return to Minnesota after dropping supplies off in the Caribbean. He later describes his close encounter: "When air traffic control asked me if we had him [Flight 77] in sight, I told him that was an understatement - by then, he had pretty much filled our windscreen. Then he made a pretty aggressive turn so he was moving right in front of us, a mile and a half, two miles away. I said we had him in sight, then the controller asked me what kind of plane it was. That caught us up, because normally they have all that information. The controller didn't seem to know anything." O'Brien reports that the plane is either a 757 or 767 and its silver fuselage means it is probably an American Airlines plane. "They told us to turn and follow that aircraft - in 20-plus years of flying, I've never been asked to do something like that." [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/11/02]


This picture of Rumsfeld (center), taken from the US Army website, is captioned, "Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld returns to Pentagon inner offices Tuesday morning after surveying the damage from the hijacked plane which crashed into the building moments before." This contradicts his claim that he was helping victims for nearly an hour after the attack. [US Army]

(9:38 a.m.) Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is in the Pentagon meeting with Representative Cox (R), and is apparently completely oblivious of the approaching Flight 77. As he watches TV coverage of the WTC, he says, "Believe me, this isn't over yet. There's going to be another attack, and it could be us." Supposedly, "moments later, the plane hit." [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Rumsfeld is apparently psychic, because two minutes before the first WTC crash and supposedly completely ignorant of the hijackings, he predicted a terrorist attack upon the US (see 8:44 a.m.). Rumsfeld's office is on the fourth floor of the Pentagon, relatively near the impact. He later says that just after the explosion, "I went downstairs and went outside. And around the corner and of course, there it was." He claims he immediately began helping the wounded: "There was a, a young woman bleeding, sitting on the ground, and I think she said to me, she didn't know who I was, she said, she could see people holding, drips going into people, IV of some kind, and she said, something to the effect, if people would, if someone could bring that person over, I could hold it." [ABC News, 9/11/02] He helps load the wounded into ambulances until 10:30 (see 10:30 a.m.). [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/12/01]


Internet researchers have put together this image showing how an object the size of a jumbo jet clips a number of light poles and then destroys columns inside the Pentagon. [From this website]

(9:38 a.m.) As fireman Alan Wallace is walking in front of the Pentagon, he looks up and sees Flight 77 coming straight at him. It is about 25 feet off the ground, no landing wheels visible, a few hundred yards away, and closing fast. He runs about 30 feet and dives under a nearby van. ["About 9:40," Washington Post, 9/21/01] The plane is traveling at about 460 mph, and flying so low that it clips the tops of street lights. [CBS News, 9/21/01]

9:38 a.m.  Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon.  Approximately 125 on the ground are later determined killed or missing. [9:37, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:37, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:38, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:38, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:38, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:38, CBS, 9/11/02 (B), 9:39, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:40, AP, 8/19/02, 9:43, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:43, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, At 9:39:02 on NBC News, reporter Jim Miklaszewski states that, "Moments ago, I felt an explosion here at the Pentagon," Television Archive, WDCN 9:30] Flight 77 strikes the only portion of the Pentagon that had been recently renovated. "It was the only area of the Pentagon with a sprinkler system, and it had been reconstructed with a web of steel columns and bars to withstand bomb blasts. The area struck by the plane also had blast-resistant windows - 2 inches thick and 2,500 pounds each - that stayed intact during the crash and fire. While perhaps 4,500 people normally would have been working in the hardest-hit areas, because of the renovation work only about 800 were there...." More than 25,000 people work at the Pentagon. [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01]

9:38 a.m. NORAD states the fighters scrambled after Flight 77 took off from Langley at 9:30, 129 miles away, yet when Flight 77 crashes they are still 105 miles away. [Newsday, 9/23/01, NORAD, 9/18/01] If so, that means they must have flown north 24 miles in 8 minutes - an average of about 180 mph! The F-16 pilot codenamed Honey later offers a different explanation of where the F-16s are at 9:38. He says they are flying toward New York, when they see a black column of smoke coming from Washington, about 30 or 40 miles to the west. He is then asked over the radio by the North East Air Defense Sector of NORAD if he can confirm the Pentagon is burning. He confirms it. The F-16s are then ordered to set up a defensive perimeter above Washington. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 76] One of the three pilots, Major Brad Derrig later claims their target destination all along is Reagan National Airport, in Washington near the Pentagon. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Another pilot, Major Dean Eckmann, also later claims their destination all along was Washington. [AP, 8/13/02 (C)] That means either that Honey is the third pilot, Captain Craig Borgstrom, or one of the other two have an inconsistent account. NORAD officer Major James Fox says he dispatches the jets without targets. "That would come later." [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] But when and where is not clarified. If Honey's account is true, it shows that the F-16s would have been over Washington in time to shoot down Flight 77 if they had been given orders to fly directly to Washington, and not to New York, which was already defended by two F-15s! (Additionally, subtract 8-10 miles (Sidewinder missile) or 12-20 miles (Sparrow missile) from the flight distance required for the fighters. [Slate, 1/16/02]) If Honey's account is true, it also would explain eyewitness claims of fighters over Washington only a couple of minutes after the Pentagon explosion, not at 9:56 when they supposedly arrive.

(After 9:38 a.m.) A few minutes after Flight 77 crashes, the Secret Service commands fighters from Andrews Air Force Base, 10 miles from Washington, to "Get in the air now!" [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] Why weren't these fighters ordered into the air earlier - Vice President has been aware that a plane was headed towards Washington for at least ten minutes before the crash (see (9:27 a.m.)) so presumably the Secret Service would have been aware as well. Andrews planes were told to be prepared to scramle a few minutes after 9:03 (see (After 9:03 a.m.)), so they could have made the 10 mile distance to the Pentagon very quickly. Almost simultaneously, a call from someone else in the White House declares the Washington area "a free-fire zone." Says one pilot, "That meant we were given authority to use force, if the situation required it, in defense of the nation's capital, its property and people." Lt. Col. Marc H. (Sass) Sasseville and a pilot only known by the codename Lucky sprint to their waiting F-16s armed only with "hot" guns and 511 rounds of "TP" -- nonexplosive training rounds. The pilots later say that, had all else failed, they would have rammed into Flight 93. Meanwhile, the three F-16s flying on a training mission 207 miles away return to their home at Andrews Air Force Base. Major Billy Hutchison's fighter still has enough gas to take off again immediately; the other two need to refuel. He supposedly takes off with no weapons. "Hutchison was probably airborne shortly after the alert F-16s from Langley arrive over Washington, although 121st FS pilots admit their timeline-recall 'is fuzzy.'" This would mean Hutchison doesn't even leave Andrews until after 9:49 (see (9:49 a.m.)). His is said to be the first fighter to reach Washington. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] Could the pilot's recall of times be "fuzzy" because they don't like lying? There are multiple reports of Andrews fighters at the Pentagon before and of the above fighters were reported to have taken off. For instance, "Within minutes of the [Pentagon] attack ... F-16s from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC." [Telegraph, 9/16/01] "A few moments [after the Pentagon attack] ... overhead, fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base and other installations." [Denver Post, 9/11/01] A year later, ABC News reports, "High overhead [the Pentagon], jet fighters arrive. Just moments too late." [ABC News, 9/11/02] Yet other newspaper accounts deny fighters from Andrews were deployed [USA Today, 9/16/01], and some deny Andrews even had fighters at all! [USA Today, 9/16/01 (B)] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold has said, "We [didn't] have any aircraft on alert at Andrews." [MSNBC, 9/23/01 (C)]


Secret Service with automatic weapons directing people away from the White House. [AP]

(9:45 a.m.) The White House begins a general evacuation. This is 21 minutes after the FAA warned a hijacked plane appeared to be headed toward Washington (see 9:24 a.m.) and about 40 minutes after Vice President Cheney has been evacated from the White House (see (After 9:03 a.m.)). [9:43, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:45, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:45, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:45, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:48, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:48, AP, 8/19/02] Initially the evacuation is orderly, but soon the Secret Service agents are yelling that everyone should run. [ABC, 9/11/02]


Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. [BBC]

(9:45 a.m.) Ben Sliney, FAA's National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. 3,949 flights are still in the air at the time. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve. [USA Today, 8/13/02, USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] [9:40, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:40, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:40, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, AP, 8/12/02, 9:45, AP, 8/19/02, 9:45, Newsday, 9/10/02, 9:45, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:49, Washington Post, 9/12/01] 75 percent of the planes land within one hour of the order. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (C)] The Washington Post has reported that it was Mineta who told Monte Belger at the FAA: "Monte, bring all the planes down," even adding, "[Expletive] pilot discretion." [Washington Post, 1/27/02] However, it is later reported by a different Post reporter that Mineta didn't even know of the order until 15 minutes later. This reporter "says FAA officials had begged him to maintain the fiction." [Slate, 4/2/02]

9:48 a.m. The Capitol building in Washington begins evacuation, 24 minutes after the FAA has warned a hijacked plane appeared to be headed toward Washington (see 9:24 a.m.). [AP, 8/19/02] Senator Tom Daschle, majority leader of the Senate, later states, "Some capitol policemen broke into the room and said, we're under attack. I've got to take you out right away." Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, third in line of succession to the presidency behind Vice President Cheney, is in the Capitol building with other congresspeople. Only after this time are Hastert and others in the line of succession moved to secure locations. Some point after this, Hastert and other leaders are flown by helicopter to secret bunkers. [ABC News, 9/11/02] It is later reported that the target for Flight 93 was the Capitol building, so had that flight not been delayed 40 minutes before takeoff, it is possible most senators and congresspeople would have been killed.

9:49 a.m. The FAA orders the Pittsburgh control tower evacuated. Shortly before, Cleveland flight controllers called Pittsburgh flight control and said a plane was heading toward Pittsburgh and refusing to communicate. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01 (B)]

(9:49 a.m.)  Three F-16s scrambled from Langley 129 miles away at 9:30 reach the Pentagon. The planes, armed with heat-seeking, Sidewinder missiles, are authorized to knock down civilian aircraft. According to NORAD, they were flying at 650 mph. The official maximum speed for F-16s is 1500 mph. [9:49, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:49, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:56: "15 minutes after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon," New York Times, 9/15/01, "just before 10:00," CBS, 9/14/01] Using NORAD's official arival time of 9:49, the journey takes 19 minutes, or a speed of only about 410 mph! Using the New York Times arrival time of 9:56, the journey takes 26 minutes, or a speed of only about 300 mph!


Air Force One departs Sarasota. [AP]

(9:56 a.m.) Bush departs from the Saratoga, Florida, airport on Air Force One. [9:54, Dallas Morning News, 8/28/02, 9:55, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), 9:55, Daily Mail, 9/8/02,9:55, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:55, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:55, AP, 9/12/01, 9:55, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:57, CBS, 9/11/02 (B), 9:57, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:57, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:57, Telegraph, 12/16/01] Amazingly, his plane takes off without any fighters protecting it. "The object seemed to be simply to get the President airborne and out of the way," says an administration official. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] There are still 3,520 planes in the air over the US. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] About half of the planes in the region of Florida where Bush is are still in the air. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/7/02] With so many reports of hijacked planes, how is being in the sky unescorted any safer than being on the ground?

(After 9:56 a.m.)  After flying off in Air Force One, Bush talks to Vice President Cheney on the phone. Cheney recommends that Bush authorize the military to shoot down any plane under control of the hijackers. "I said, 'You bet,'" Bush later recalls. "We had a little discussion, but not much." ["After Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon," Newsday, 9/23/01, time unknown, USA Today, 9/16/01, "Once airborne, Bush spoke again to Cheney," Washington Post, 1/27/02, after Bush is airborne, CBS, 9/11/02] Flight 93 is still in the air, and fighters are given orders to intercept it and possibly shoot it down. [ABC News, 9/11/02] If this decision was so easy to make, why wasn't it given earlier? Bush was available to make this decision at any time after leaving the Booker Elementary classroom around 9:16. Why hasn't he okayed the shooting down of any aircraft during that time, when it's been known there is a hijacked plane (Flight 77) headed toward Washington since at least 9:24?

(9:56 - 10:40 a.m.) Air Force One takes off and quickly gains altitude. One passenger later says, "It was like a rocket. For a good 10 minutes, the plane was going almost straight up." [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] Once the plane reaches cruising altitude, it flies in circles. Journalists on board sense this, because the television reception for a local station generally remains good. "Apparently Bush, Cheney and the Secret Service argue over the safety of Bush coming back to Washington. [Salon, 9/12/01, Telegraph, 12/16/01]

(After 9:56 - 10:06 a.m.) Inside his White House bunker, a military aide asks Vice President Cheney, "There is a plane 80 miles out. There is a fighter in the area. Should we engage?" Cheney immediately answers "Yes." [Washington Post, 1/27/02] An F-16 fighter near Washington heads in pursuit of Flight 93. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] However, a different explanation says, "The closest fighters are two F-16 pilots on a training mission from Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit." These are ordered after Flight 93, even though but they supposedly aren't armed with any weapons. It is claimed they are supposed to crash into Flight 93 if they cannot persuade it to land. [ABC News, 8/30/02, ABC News, 9/11/02] However, Washington is much closer to Flight 93's position than Detroit by this time, and there are already "dozens" of fighters flying over Washington by this time so why send those? In either case, as the fighter (or fighters) gets nearer to Flight 93, Cheney is asked twice more to confirm if the fighter should engage, and he responds yes both times. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Montague Winfield, in charge of the Pentagon's command center, later says, "At some point, the closure time [between the fighter and Flight 93] came and went, and nothing happened, so you can imagine everything was very tense at the NMCC." [ABC, 9/15/02] Yet Major Gen. Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, had previously claimed that no military planes were sent after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/01] And the pilots flying over Washington that have spoken say that all of them didn't even learn about Flight 93 or any plane crashing in Pennsylvania until they returned to base in the afternoon. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 222] There is a lot of evidence that fighters were sent after Flight 93, including the Vice President's claim. Is someone lying, or were the planes coming from somewhere else?


A fighter and helicopter both fly directly above the Pentagon on 9/11. [AFP]

(Before 10:00 a.m.) Defense officials initially say, "There were no military planes in the skies over Washington until 15 to 20 minutes after the Pentagon was hit" - 9:53 to 9:58. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/14/01] But several sources later report that fighters were above Washington within "minutes" or "moments" of the Pentagon explosion. [Denver Post, 9/11/01, Telegraph, 9/16/01, ABC News, 9/11/02] ABC News later reports that by 10:00, "Dozens of fighters are buzzing in the sky. F-16s scrambled at Andrews Air Force Base in nearby Maryland" (the exact time is not given, but the account is placed between 9:45 and 10:00 in a later ABC News chronology of 9/11). [ABC News, 9/11/02] Another account says the first two F-16s from Andrews that are armed with missiles arrive ten minutes after the three F-16s from Andrews arrived at 9:49 (see (9:49 a.m.)). [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] In contradiction to this, a few days after 9/11, the New York Times reports, "In the White House Situation Room and at the Pentagon, the response seemed agonizingly slow. One military official recalls hearing 'words to the effect of, "Where are the planes?"' The Pentagon insists it had air cover over its own building by 10 a.m., 15 minutes after the building was hit. But witnesses, including a reporter for The New York Times who was headed toward the building, did not see any until closer to 11." [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)]

10:03 a.m. According to the US government, Flight 93 crashes at 10:03. [NORAD, 9/18/01] The cockpit voice recording was recorded on a 30 minute reel, which means that as new tape was recorded the old tape was being erased. The government has let relatives listen to this tape, which begins at 9:31 and runs for 31 minutes. [CNN, 4/19/02, Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 206-207] So it sounds like the recording ends a minute before the official crash time. However, a seismic study authorized by the US Army to determine when the plane crashed concludes the crash happens at 10:06:05. [US Army authorized seismic study] The discrepancy is so puzzling, the Philadelphia Daily News has an article on the issue, called "Three-Minute Discrepancy in Tape." It notes that leading seismologists agree that Flight 93 crashed last Sept. 11 at 10:06:05 a.m., give or take a couple of seconds, and government officials won't explain why they say the plane crashed at 10:03. [Philadelphia Daily News, 9/16/02] What happened to the vital last three or four minutes of this tape? Was the tape doctored, or was the timing of the whole tape moved forward?

10:10 a.m. All US military forces are ordered to Defcon Three (or Defcon Delta), "The highest alert for the nuclear arsenal in 30 years." [ABC News, 9/11/02] Supposedly Rumsfeld makes the order, but its hard to see how he could have done this since he was assisting the wounded in the Pentagon explosion until 10:30 (see 10:30 a.m.). [ABC News, 9/11/02, CNN, 9/4/02] Another account says Defcon Delta doesn't happen until about noon. [Telegraph, 12/16/01]

10:15 a.m. The section of the Pentagon reportedly hit by the crash of Flight 77 collapses. [10:10, CNN, 9/12/01, 10:10, New York Times, 9/12/01, recorded live on WDCC-TV at 10:15, Television Archive, WDCC 10:00] A few minutes prior to its collapse firefighters saw warning signs and sounded a general evacuation tone. No firefighters were injured. [NFPA Journal, 11/1/01]

10:32 a.m. Cheney calls Bush and tells him of a threat to Air Force One. He is told it would take between 40 minutes and 90 minutes to get a protective fighter escort up to Air Force One. His plane turns toward Louisiana soon after. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Many doubt the existence of this threat. For instance, Representative Martin Meehan (D) says, "I don't buy the notion Air Force One was a target. That's just PR, that's just spin." [Washington Times, 10/8/02] A later account calls the threat "completely untrue," and says Cheney probably made the story up. A well-informed, anonymous Washington official says, "It did two things for [Cheney]. It reinforced his argument that the President should stay out of town, and it gave George W an excellent reason for doing so." [Telegraph, 12/16/01] Why wouldn't Air Force One already have a fighter escort, and why would it take so long for new planes to arrive? Does Cheney also delay a fighter escort? Why does he apparently lie to keep Bush away?

(10:35 a.m.) Air Force One turns toward Louisiana. It has been decided Bush cannot go directly to Washington. [About 10:30, CBS, 9/11/02 (B), about 10:42, Washington Post, 1/27/02]

12:16 p.m. US airspace is clear except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights were still landing in Canada. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (C)] At 12:30, the FAA reports about 50 flights still flying in US airspace, but none are reporting problems. [CNN, 9/12/01, New York Times, 9/12/01]

12:36 p.m. Bush gives a short speech that is taped and played by the networks at 1:04 p.m. ["Just after 12:30," Salon, 9/12/01, 12:36, Washington Times, 10/8/02] In a speech at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, President Bush announces that security measures are being taken and says: "Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts." [MSNBC, 9/22/01, CNN, 9/12/01, New York Times, 9/12/01] He also states, "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended." [ABC News, 9/11/02]

(12:58 p.m.) Bush spends most of his time at Barksdale Air Force base arguing on the phone with Cheney and others over where he should go next. "A few minutes before 1 p.m.," he agrees to fly to Nebraska. As earlier (see 10:32 a.m.), there are rumors of a "credible terrorist threat" to Air Force One. [Telegraph, 12/16/01]

(1:30 p.m.)  President Bush leaves Barksdale Air Force Base for Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base, home to the US Strategic Command. [1:15, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 1:31, Salon, 9/12/01, 1:44, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 1:48, CNN, 9/12/01] He travels with Chief of Staff Andrew Card, senior advisor Karl Rove, communications staffers Dan Bartlett, Ari Fleischer and Gordon Johndroe, and a reduced number of reporters. [Salon, 9/12/01]

(2:50 p.m.) Air Force One lands at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. Bush stays on the plane for about 10 minutes before entering United States Strategic Command at 3:06. [Salon, 9/12/01] Bush is taken into an underground bunker designed to withstand a nuclear blast. There, he uses an advanced strategic command and communications center to teleconference directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and members of the National Security Council. The meeting ends at 4:15. [Telegraph, 12/16/01, Washington Times, 10/8/02] [2:50, Daily Mail, 9/8/02, 2:50, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 2:50, Salon, 9/12/01, 3:07, AP, 8/19/02] Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta also participate in the teleconference. [ABC News, 9/11/02]

6:54 p.m.  Bush arrives back at the White House, after exiting Air Force One at 6:42 and flying across Washington in a helicopter. [ABC News, 9/11/02] [6:54, CNN, 9/12/01, 6:54, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 7:00, AP, 8/19/02]

(7:00 p.m.) Secretary of State Powell returns to Washington from Lima, Peru. Ten hours after the attacks began, he is finally able to speak to Bush for the first time when they both arrive at the White House at about the same time. Powell later says of his flight, "And the worst part of it, is that because of the communications problems that existed during that day, I couldn't talk to anybody in Washington." [ABC News, 9/11/02] The Telegraph later theorizes, "Why so long? In the weeks before September 11 Washington was full of rumors that Powell was out of favor and had been quietly relegated to the sidelines..." [Telegraph, 12/16/01]

8:30 p.m.  Bush addresses the nation on live TV. [CNN, 9/12/01] In what will later be called the Bush Doctrine, he states,"We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." [Washington Post, 1/27/02]