Viewpoint: Statements on 9-11 dubious

Viewpoint: Statements on 9-11 dubious

By Joe Baker

Statements on 9-11 dubious

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

Part Two

Memories of Sept. 11 admittedly are painful, but it is necessary to revisit that time in order to understand that the government and the national media have fed us a load of hooey about the events of that day.

News reports of that time and remarks by government officials presented a picture of a nation in chaos, our leadership confused, with no response plan in place for such an eventuality.

Where was the air defense system of this country when the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington were struck? Why weren’t the fighters scrambled?

Gen. Richard B. Meyers, before a Senate committee on Sept. 13, 2001: “When it became clear what the threat was, we did scramble fighter aircraft, AWACS, radar aircraft and tanker aircraft to begin to establish orbits in case other aircraft showed up in the FAA system that were hijacked.”

On Sept. 16, Vice-President Richard Cheney appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press. He was asked what was the most difficult decision that the White House had to make on Sept. 11.

“Well,” Cheney said, “the—I suppose the toughest decision was this question of whether or not we would intercept incoming commercial aircraft. We decided to do it. We’d, in effect, put a flying combat air patrol up over the city; F-16s with an AWACS, which is an airborne radar system, and tanker support so they could stay up a long time.”

USA Today reported on Sept. 17: “Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One, is only 15 miles (sic) away from the Pentagon, but it had no fighters assigned to it. Defense officials won’t say whether that has changed.” The same day the “nation’s newspaper” altered its story to read: “but those planes were not on alert and not deployed.”

National media not only accepted that claim, they did not ask why there was no interception before the attacks and why the president was not informed for a lengthy period after the planes were hijacked.

Andrews Air Force Base, in fact, is but 10 miles from the Pentagon. It is home to two combat-ready squadrons, the 121st Fighter Squadron of the 113th Fighter Wing and the 321st Marine Fighter Attack Squadron.

On “,” a website authorized by the military, we read: “…as part of its dual mission, the 113th provides capable and ready response forces for the District of Columbia in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency.” The site also stated: “Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 321, a Marine Corps Reserve squadron, flies the sophisticated F/A-18 Hornet. Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 49, Detachment A, provides maintenance and supply functions necessary to maintain a force in readiness.”

That information later was reduced to the smallest of type and may now be gone from the website. The official Andrews AFB website was shut down in mid-September 2001 and remained down for some time.

Cheney, in his television interview on NBC, promoted the idea that presidential authorization was needed to intercept and bring down the hijacked jetliners. “It doesn’t do any good to put up a combat air patrol if you don’t give them instructions to act, if, in fact, it’s appropriate,” Cheney told host Tim Russert. “It’s a presidential-level decision, and the president made, I think, exactly the right call in this case.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a policy directive on June 1, 2001. It is titled: “Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects.” It states: “Federal Aviation Administration has exclusive responsibility to direct law enforcement activity related to actual or attempted aircraft piracy (hijacking) in the …jurisdiction of the United States. When requested by the Administrator, Department of Defense will provide assistance to these law enforcement efforts.”

It further states: “In the event of a hijacking, the National Military Command Center will be notified …by the FAA. The NMCC will, with the exception of IMMEDIATE RESPONSES (emphasis added), forward requests to the Secretary of Defense for approval.”

Therefore, these documents make the record very clear that an established, detailed set of emergency response protocols was in place on Sept. 11 and did not require any presidential authorization to proceed. Vice-President Cheney left the implication that “intercept” and “shoot down” are the same thing. They are not. The latter may well require presidential approval.

But no intercept occurred—that we know of—and Bush did’t act either—he was talking to school children.

An examination of directives from the Joint Chiefs reveals procedures of this type had been in place for some time. In August 1978, a policy statement labeled “Aircraft Piracy;” in February 1997, “Military Assistance to Civil Authorities;” April 1991, “Security of DOD Installations and Resources,” September 1996, “DOD Combating Terrorism Program,” and in May 1993, “Protection of DOD Personnel and Activities Against Acts of Terrorism and Political Turbulence.”

Under the established protocols, when a hijacking occurs, the FAA hijack coordinator notifies North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) and the National Military Command Center. They would immediately scramble one or more interceptors to overtake the errant aircraft and either inform the pilot he is off course or determine who is flying the airplane.

Does NORAD really exist; does NORAD work?

Go figure. On Sept. 23, Newsday quoted Air Force Lt. Col. Vic Warzinski, a Pentagon spokesman, as saying: “The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way, and I doubt prior to Tuesday’s event, anyone would have expected anything like that here.”

That’s our government talking! They wouldn’t lie to us…would they? In an upcoming article, we will take a look at the timeline…when events happened and where the positions of those in command were located.

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