It turns out that there was some inaccurate and misleading testimony to the 9/11 Commission:
But the facts are not supportive of conspiracy theories--rather, the facts indicate that the misleading testimony was an attempt to make a simpler story out of what actually happened:
In the chronology presented to the 9/11 commission, Colonel Scott put the time NORAD was first notified about United 93 at 9:16 a.m., from which time, he said, commanders tracked the flight closely. (It crashed at 10:03 a.m.) If it had indeed been necessary to "take lives in the air" with United 93, or any incoming flight to Washington, the two armed fighters from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia would have been the ones called upon to carry out the shootdown. In Colonel Scott's account, those jets were given the order to launch at 9:24, within seconds of NEADS's receiving the F.A.A.'s report of the possible hijacking of American 77, the plane that would ultimately hit the Pentagon. This time line suggests the system was starting to work: the F.A.A. reports a hijacking, and the military reacts instantaneously. Launching after the report of American 77 would, in theory, have put the fighters in the air and in position over Washington in plenty of time to react to United 93.
In testimony a few minutes later, however, General Arnold added an unexpected twist: "We launched the aircraft out of Langley to put them over top of Washington, D.C., not in response to American Airlines 77, but really to put them in position in case United 93 were to head that way."
How strange, John Azzarello, a former prosecutor and one of the commission's staff members, thought. "I remember being at the hearing in '03 and wondering why they didn't seem to have their stories straight. That struck me as odd."
As the tapes reveal in stark detail, parts of Scott's and Arnold's testimony were misleading, and others simply false. At 9:16 a.m., when Arnold and Marr had supposedly begun their tracking of United 93, the plane had not yet been hijacked. In fact, NEADS wouldn't get word about United 93 for another 51 minutes. And while NORAD commanders did, indeed, order the Langley fighters to scramble at 9:24, as Scott and Arnold testified, it was not in response to the hijacking of American 77 or United 93. Rather, they were chasing a ghost. NEADS was entering the most chaotic period of the morning.There was a lot of confusion about which planes had gone where due to lack of radar or electronic transponder data--although American 11 had already hit the World Trade Center, it was that plane that they thought they were tracking.
The release of this information presents a wealth of data that is inconsistent with the popular 9/11 conspiracy theories. If history is any guide, conspiracy theorists will scour it for any data points that they can fit into a conspiracy theory while ignoring the rest. Rather than collecting all of the best data and using it to construct the big picture and best explanation, they collect lots of individual data points that strike them as somehow salient, and build fanciful theories that are at odds with most of the actual data.