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
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
09. Heroism & Horror
11. Foresight --
12. What to Do? A
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
VP was prompted to call Pres. on AF One to confirm the orders, and did
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
11. Foresight -- and Hindsight
12. What to Do? A Global Strategy
13. How to Do It? A Different Way of Organizing