Huntingdon College | Political Science | Courses | Outlines | Terrorism | What's New?
Notes on International Terrorism and Response.
Official Report of 9/11 Commission:
Summary of key points.
for the benefit of students. Arnett's student summary of report.
Full, later set of outlines for class HERE.
In progress; written by Jeremy Lewis; revised on 18 Oct. 2004.
  • Great Decisions
  • AL World Affairs Council
  • Kean, Thomas and Lee Hamilton, The 9/11 Commission Report: 
    Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
    Authorized Edition.  NY: Norton, 2004.

    01. We Have Some Planes
    02. Foundation of the New Terrorism
    03. Counterterrorism Evolves
    04. Responses to Al Qaeda's Initial Assaults
    05. Al Qaeda Aims at the American Homeland
    06. From Threat to Threat
    07. The Attack Looms
    08. The System Was Blinking Red
    09. Heroism & Horror
    10. Wartime
    11. Foresight -- and Hindsight
    12. What to Do? A Global Strategy
    13. How to Do It? A Different Way of Organizing the Government

    • Created by statute, November 2002.
    • Broad mandate to explore "facts and circumstances relating to" 9/11 attacks.
    • 19 days of hearings, 160 witnesses.
    • 2.5 M pages of documents, interviewed 1,200 individuals in 10 countries.

    1. We Have Some Planes
    • Phrase was an ominous warning accidentally broadcast from first hijacked plane.
    • FAA had no experience with multiple hijackings.
    • FAA staff did not believe they had responsibility for warning aircraft of cockpit security: airlines' responsible. (p.11).
    • Attackers had knives but their warnings of bombs on board 3 aircraft were false.
    • Why did UA 93 crash in field, not in target building?
      • UA 93, delayed in takoff, with one hijacker having been refused immigration at Orlando, and with delayed hijacking -- actually received a text warning 5 minutes before the takeover, via a UA dispatcher.
      • UA 93 passengers (alerted by cell phone calls) maintained a protracted struggle (5 minutes) for cockpit door, despite the pilot's manoevers, and when they seemed likely to win, attackers rolled plane over and crashed it.
    • There was little coordination among airlines and FAA -- let alone with military -- on the immediate response.
      • Boston center did call NEADS about first hijacking, Cape Cod scrambled two fighters to Long Island area, but they had no actionable info and arrived on holding pattern after the first plane hit WTC.  Military had no practicable notice on other planes. (pp. 20-21).
    • Too little time too coordinate response:
      • FAA and ATC were kept busy searching for planes after transponders were altered by hijackers, making planes invisible on primary radar screens and requiring searching with limited information. 
      • UA 175 pilots reported suspicious transmission for passangers to stay in seats minutes before they suddenly changed direction.
      • Same controller was controlling both Amer 11 and UA 175, too busy to notice 175 being hijacked.
      • FAA and ATC command centers were informed there were two hijackings only minutes before second impact at WTC (at 9:03).
    • After second impact, Boston Center notified NE of multiple hijackings, but ATC Command Center at Herndon did not act.
    • Amer 77 turned and disappeared from screens at Indianapolis center for 9 minutes (for technical reasons) before any notification arrived from Boston.  It was lost and flew 36 minutes towards Washington DC undetected till spotted by Dulles ATC.
    • First nationwide ground stop was ordered by Herndon ATC Command Center at 9:25 am.
    • National Guard C-130 followed Amer 77 until it crashed into Pentagon.
    • Notifications to military were too late and wrong.
      • FAA happened to mention Amer 77 also lost, after it had crashed.  FAA informed Air Defense wrongly that Amer 11 still in the air, after it had crashed into WTC.  Langley fighters were sent north (but actually flew east without orders) to protect DC from flight from NYC.
      • NEADS intercepted and escorted Delta 1989, which was not hijacked.
      • NG C-130 spotted crash of UA 93 in field in PA almost immediately.
      • No fighters were in position to intercept any hijacked planes, and lacked orders.
    • Command Center ordered all aircraft to land at 9:42 -- unprecedented, with 4,500 planes in air.
    • NORAD falsely testified to Commission in May 2003 that it had had a few minutes notification of each hijacking.  In fact, they did not, except for the first.  Jets were scrambled in response to phantom plane that had already crashed -- not in rational response to one approaching Washington DC. (p.334).
    • "Most federal agencies learned about the crash in New York from CNN." (p.35). (Includes FAA Administrator and her deputy, plus VP Cheney and WHS).
    • FAA, WHS and DOD all initiated teleconferences but without critical personnel.
      • WHS and NMCC were creating parallel decision processes.
      • No vital DOD officer was in FAA & WHS conference -- and vice versa, until after last flight crashed in PA.
    • National Command Authority (president, VP and SecDef).
      • President notified in Florida school at 9:05 of second impact at WTC.  He remained in classroom for over 5 minutes. (p.38).
      • Air Force One took off at 9:54 with no destination.
      • VP was propelled into WH bunker by 9:37 when plane circled DC on way into Pentagon crash.
      • VP seems to have informed President of CAPs and need for pilots' orders just before 10:00 but there is no documentation.
      • Twice between about 10:10-10:18 military aide requested VP provide shoot-down orders on projected path of UA 93 (which had in fact already crashed) and got them.
      • VP was prompted to call Pres. on AF One to confirm the orders, and did so 10:18-10:20.
      • UA 93 reported down in PA -- some wondered if shot down.
      • 10:30 VP ordered engagement of another close target that was later found to be a medevac helicopter.

    2. Foundation of the New Terrorism

    3. Counterterrorism Evolves

    4. Responses to Al Qaeda's Initial Assaults

    5. Al Qaeda Aims at the American Homeland

    6. From Threat to Threat

    7. The Attack Looms

    8. The System Was Blinking Red

    9. Heroism & Horror

    10. Wartime

    11. Foresight -- and Hindsight

    12. What to Do? A Global Strategy

    13. How to Do It? A Different Way of Organizing the Government