Viewpoint: Timeline shows strange gaps
By Joe Baker
By Joe Baker
Where was Americas air defense on Sept. 11? What was the sequence of events that might shed some light on what actually happened that day?
Lets take a look. Heres the timeline:
At 8:45 a.m. Eastern time, a jet airliner smashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. It was later identified as American Airlines Flight 11, bound from Boston to Los Angeles, carrying 81 passengers plus crew. About one minute later, the Secret Service accompanying President Bush in Florida was notified of the crash via an open phone line from the FAA.
Earlier than that (about 8:15 a.m.), air traffic control in Boston became aware that the flight had gone off course and notified NORAD, (North American Aerospace Defense), which, in turn, informed the National Military Command Center (NMCC), which is the central contact point for requesting a military intercept.
A NORAD spokesman, Maj. Mike Snyder, said the command was notified about 10 minutes before the first plane hit the WTC.
No planes were scrambled from the New York City Naval Air StationFloyd Bennett Field, 9 miles away from the tip of Manhatten, or Mc Guire Air Force Base, near Trenton, N.J., 50 miles away.
At 9:05 a.m. a second aircraft strikes the north tower of WTC. It was identified as United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles with 56 passengers and a crew of nine.
In this time span, the air defense command is aware that four planes have been hijacked and are off course. It takes no action until 9:30 a.m. According to the Bush administration, no official agency has briefed the president.
At 9:20 a.m. President Bush makes a brief statement in Sarasota, Fla., where he is visiting a school. Bush apparently was aware before leaving his hotel that the trade center had been hit. Informed of the second impact, he showed no emotion and continued reading a story to the school children.
The Secret Service made no move to keep the president from this public and previously announced appearance.
At 9:30a.m.Two F-15 Eagle jet interceptors were scrambled from Otis Air National Guard base seven miles northeast of Falmouth, Mass. But these emissaries of the 102nd Fighter Wing arrived too late to intercept the hijacked planes. A spokeswoman at Otis told the media an F-15 leaving Otis could reach New York City in 10 to 12 minutes. Later investigation showed the planes flew at only half their top speed.
The Cape Cod Times quoted one F-15 pilot as saying: There wasnt a lot of time here. This happened so quickly that the greatest fighter unit could not have responded in time.
9:45 a.m.American Airlines Flight 77, from Washington to San Francisco, slams into the Pentagon, killing all 58 passengers and six crew members aboard plus several inside the building. Two fighter wings were on combat-ready status at Andrews Air Force Base 10 miles away, but nothing moved. The White House is evacuated.
Five minutes later, 9:50 a.m., the Federal Aviation Agency orders all U.S. airports closed and any undeparted flights to remain on the ground.
At 9:55 a.m.President Bush leaves Florida for Washington. Five minutes later, 10 a.m., the Capitol Building, Treasury Department and the State Department are evacuated.
10:15 a.m.An airliner, later identified as United Airlines Flight 93, crashes near Pittsburgh. It carried 38 passengers and a crew of seven. The flight had departed Newark, N.J. for San Francisco. Authorities later believed it was headed for the White House. There was speculation it was felled by a missile fired from an interceptor, but the official story was that passengers grappled with the hijackers in an effort to gain control of the aircraft Flight recorder tapes were not released, while the flight recorders of the two aircraft in New York were recovered but said to be unusable.
At 10:25 a.m.The FAA ordered all flights inbound to the U.S. diverted to Canada. Five minutes later, 10:30 a.m., both towers of the trade center collapse.
10:40 a.m.A large part of the Pentagon collapses. The Secretary of Defense is evacuated. One minute later, all federal buildings in Washington are ordered evacuated.
At 10:55 a.m.Israel closed and evacuated its embassies worldwide. At noon U.S. borders with Mexico were closed. At 12:15 a.m., Los Angeles International Airport was evacuated.
1 p.m.President Bush, speaking from Louisianas Barksdale Air Force Base, promised the attackers would be hunted down and punished and that everything possible would be done to protect American citizens.
At 1:25 p.m.The FAA announced all airports closed and all flights grounded. Ten minutes later, at 1:35 p.m., a state of emergency was declared in Washington, D.C. Civilian airspace would not reopen until 11 a.m. Sept. 13th.
On March 19 of this year, CNN reported that the next day (Sept. 12) some 24 members of the bin Laden family left Bostons Logan Airport under arrangements by the Saudi Arabia government, which was concerned for their safety.
By 1:45 p.m.All members of Congress had been evacuated to an undisclosed location. President Bush arrived at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska at 2:50 p.m. The base is home to the Strategic Air Command.
At 3 p.m.The FAA announced all domestic airports would be closed until noon Sept. 12. At 3:50 p.m.The White House announced the government remained in full operation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) activated four search and rescue teams in New York. It later was learned the teams had arrived there the day before the attacks.
At 4:45 p.m.The president left Nebraska for Washington. At 5:30 p.m. the 47-story building 7 in the trade center complex collapsed. Other nearby buildings continued to burn.
In Washington, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the Pentagon would be open and operating the next day. At 6:40 p.m. President Bush arrives back in the capitol.
At 9:30 that night, New York officials reported 265 firefighters perished at the trade center, and at least 78 police officers were missing. An hour later, fire officials in Virginia reported 800 Pentagon employees missing.
Early reports cited as many as 20,000 possible victims in the WTC attacks. The death toll then went to 7,000, then 5,000 and more recently, just under 3,000. These human beings are more than just numbers.
A year earlier, in December, Canadian authorities arrested a man claiming to be a U.S. Navy intelligence officer. He was wanted on charges of credit card fraud in the U.S. and Canada. Officials of both countries denied Vreelands claims, but later evidence showed his story withstood scrutiny,
In a startling recent development, it was learned that Canadian charges have been dropped against Delmart Mike Vreeland, the U.S. Navy officer and whistleblower who gave Toronto court authorities a written warning of the Sept. 11th attacks one month before they occurred. The court released Vreeland on bail pending the settlement of the extradition case against him.
The note, written, sealed and given to guards in August 2001, warns of possible terrorist attacks on the Sears Tower in Chicago, the World Trade Center, the White House, Pentagon, the World Bank headquarters, the Parliament building in Ottawa and the Royal Bank in Toronto. Vreeland wrote: They will paint me crazy and call me a liar. Then he added a chilling sentence: Let one happen, stop the rest.
Vreeland told the court he fears immediate assassination if he is forced to return to the United States. The question is: if this guy knew about the attacks in advance, did George W. Bush?