Thursday, August 03, 2006

9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes

Vanity Fair's website has published "United 93" producer Michael Bronner's article, "9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes," including audio excerpts. Bronner was given three CDs containing the Northeast Air Defense Sector audio files for September 11, which he summarizes in his very interesting article.

It turns out that there was some inaccurate and misleading testimony to the 9/11 Commission:

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."

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:
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.


ewing2001 said...

Loose Change, Wayne Barrett and the 9/11 Scholars are only
covering half of the truth, which turns it into a limited hangout.

The rest is documented here:

If anyone agrees please sign the following petition at:

Jim Lippard said...

The claim that there were no planes involved in 9/11 is a lunatic claim completely inconsistent with the evidence. The four hijacked planes were real planes with real passengers; they crashed, there were thousands of eyewitnesses including independent eyewitnesses who caught the WTC crashes on videotape, parts (including body parts) were recovered and identified. If you deny that planes were involved, you're not even trying to maintain contact with reality or the evidence.

Loose Change is a very poorly done documentary which makes numerous outlandish or demonstrably false claims. (Also see the analysis of the Pentagon light pole damage here.)

Jim Lippard said...

The 911tvfakery blog vividly demonstrates the point I made in my post that the evidences from the NORAD tapes would have a small bit taken out of context by the conspiracy theorists and the rest would be ignored.

In a post on 8/02, ewing2001 writes: "Hidden in the typical spin about negligence, new NORAD/NEADS transcripts in the latest Vanity Fair article also revealed, that the "Flight11" Tailnumber didn't match and it was suggested that "Flight175" was "part of an Input", which means a a reference to a simulation exercise"

But that's not at all what happened--rather, they were not sure that it was American Flight 11 that had hit the WTC, until American Airlines confirmed it several hours later. Colin Scuggins, civilian manager at Boston Center, said "disregard the tail number" because it had not been confirmed, not because it and been verified not to match.

There were comments throughout the day about whether this was real or an exercise--initially because of genuine confusion, but later as a form of gallows humor because the events of the day were so extreme. This is quite clear in the Vanity Fair article.

Jim Lippard said...

In my last comment, "not because it and been verified not to match." should have said "not because it had been verified not to match."

That is, it was that they weren't sure that it did match, not that they were sure that it didn't.