By Mark H. Gaffney
02/24/07 "ICH" -- - -In June 1, 2001 the US Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a new order regarding cases of aircraft piracy, i.e., hijackings. The new order (CJCSI 3610.01A), signed by Vice Admiral S. A. Fry, Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, canceled the existing order (CJCSI 3610.01) that had been in effect since July 1997. When I learned about this, recently, I became intrigued. The date of the new order, just three months prior to 9/11, seemed too near that fateful day to be mere coincidence. I should mention that I have always been skeptical of the official 9/11 narrative. The June 2001 order was like a red flag drawing attention to an insistent question: Why did the US military alter its hijack policy a few months before 9/11? Why, indeed?
When I first examined the document, which, by the way, is still posted on the internet, my excitement increased.[i] The order states that when hijackings occur the military’s operational commanders at the pentagon and at the North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) must contact the secretary of defense for approval and further instruction. At that time, of course, this was Donald Rumsfeld. Was the new order, therefore, evidence of a policy change made for the purpose of engineering a stand-down on 9/11? This was plausible, assuming that a group of evildoers within the Bush administration wanted a terrorist plot to succeed for their own twisted reasons. And what might those reasons be? Well, obviously, to create the pretext for a much more aggressive US foreign policy that the American people would not otherwise support. We know, for instance, that the plans to invade Afghanistan were already sitting on President Bush’s desk on 9/11, awaiting his signature.
Did the US military achieve a stand-down on 9/11 by means of an ordinary administrative memo? Several prominent 9/11 investigators had already drawn this conclusion, including Jim Marrs, who is a very capable journalist. Marrs discussed the June 1, 2001 pentagon order in his fine book, The Terror Conspiracy. Filmmaker Dylan Avery is another. He mentioned the order in a similar context in his popular video, Loose Change (Second Edition). A third investigator, Webster Griffin Tarpley, did likewise in his book, 9/11 Synthetic Terror, one of the deepest examinations of 9/11 in print.[ii] Although initially I agreed with their conclusion, after studying the document more closely I found reason to change my mind. Fortunately, the previous July 1997 order is still available for download via the internet.[iii]
Close inspection of the two documents, side by side, shows that the previous order also required notification of the secretary of defense in cases of hijackings. In fact, there was almost no change in the language on this point. Obviously, the basic policy remained in effect, and can be summarized as follows: Although operational commanders have the authority to make decisions of the moment in cases of hijackings, they are also required to notify the secretary of defense, who must be kept in the loop, and who may chose to intervene at any time.
Side by side, the two documents are almost identical. But there is one difference. The new order includes an extra passage in the policy section that mentions two new kinds of airborne vehicles, “unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)” and “remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).” The order states that these are to be regarded as “a potential threat to public safety.” But why did two new categories of aerial vehicles require the drafting of a new order, especially since the basic policy did not change? I puzzled over this for some time, until I stumbled upon a news story about the Global Hawk, prompting further investigations. These have convinced me that the June 1, 2001 pentagon order could be one of the keys to what happened on 9/11.
As we shall see, the answer is not obvious. The technology I will now describe certainly was not on my radar screen. Like most Americans I had no clue. I went about my affairs blithely unaware that technological advances were altering our world nearly beyond recognition. While it is true that technology holds amazing potentials to improve our lives, and to free us from drudgery, make no mistake, it can just as easily enslave us. Nor are technology’s most hopeful possibilities likely to be realized so long as its cutting edge remains shrouded in secrecy for reasons of national security–––in my opinion one of the most abused expressions in our language. It’s become clear to this writer that if ordinary citizens do not awaken, and soon, to the insidious dangers that new technologies pose to our freedoms, the faceless individuals and nameless puppeteers who command them will carry the day. In that case the experiment in self-government that began with the drafting of the US Constitution more than 200 years ago will have come to a dark end.
A Cautionary Tale:
The Flight of the Global Hawk
On April 22-23, 2001, just weeks before the pentagon issued the new hijack order, an unmanned aircraft, the RQ-4A US Global Hawk, completed its maiden 7,500 mile flight from Edwards AFB in southern California to Edinburgh AFB in South Australia.[iv] The nonstop 8,600 mile passage across the Pacific took only 22 hours and set an endurance record for an unmanned vehicle. In early June, after a dozen joint-exercises with the Australian military, the drone returned to California. The previous year the Global Hawk made a similar transatlantic run to Europe, where it participated in NATO exercises.
You are probably thinking: So what? What is so special about the Global Hawk? And how does it relate to 9/11? I’ll get to the second question in a moment. Rod Smith, the Australian Global Hawk manager, answered the first when he said: “The aircraft essentially flies itself....from takeoff, right through to landing, and even taxiing off the runway.”[v] The drone follows a preprogrammed flight plan, although ground controllers monitor it and remain in control. The jet-powered craft is 44 feet long, has a wingspan the equivalent of a Boeing 737, and can remain aloft for 42 hours. It flies at extremely high altitudes, up to 65,000 feet, and has a range of 14,000 nautical miles. The name Global Hawk is not a misnomer. The drone truly has a global reach. Its cruising speed is nothing special, about 400 mph, but its ability to reconnoiter vast areas of geography is amazing. In a single flight the bird can surveil an area the size of Illinois: more than 50,000 square miles. It comes equipped with advanced radar, infrared and electro-optical sensors, i.e., cameras that can return up to 1,900 high-resolution images during a single flight.
No doubt, these impressive vitals explain why the US military immediately drafted the Global Hawk for intelligence gathering purposes. The bird flew during Operation Enduring Freedom, i.e., Bush’s October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan; and it subsequently saw wide use in Iraq. During the last year alone Global Hawk drones flew at least 50 combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan and logged 1,000 hours of flight time. During the summer of 2006 the Israelis used similar technology during their aerial campaign against Lebanon. In fact, the Israelis pioneered the use of drones in 1982 during a previous invasion of their northern neighbor. The US first employed drones in 1983 when Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion of Grenada, a small island nation in the Caribbean. According to various reports, Global Hawk surveillance of Iran is ongoing as I write.
Development of the Global Hawk began in 1995, with the first air trials at Edwards AFB in 1998. But ROV technology originated long before this. Dylan Avery’s excellent 9/11 film Loose Change (Second Edition) includes a video segment from a NASA flight test carried out in 1984, also at Edwards AFB. During the 16-hour exercise ground pilots remotely controlled a Boeing 720, guiding it through 10 successful takeoffs, numerous approaches, and 13 landings. The test ended with a pre-planned crash. In fact, there is ample evidence the US military began experimenting with radio-controlled aircraft as early as the 1950s. The military’s use of drones for target practice in war games and military exercises is well known, and has been standard practice for many years.
When Was the Beginning?
In late September 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attack, George W. Bush mentioned ROV technology while discussing ways to improve airline safety. In a public statement reported by the New York Times Bush promised federal grants for stronger cockpit doors, new transponders that cannot be turned off, and video cameras that will allow a pilot to monitor the passenger section of a commercial jetliner. Notably, Bush also hinted that new technology one day would make it possible for air traffic controllers to land hijacked planes by remote-control. He implied that this helpful technology belonged to the future.[vi]
Yet, there is evidence it may already have existed when Bush spoke, and even before 9/11. Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attack a small Arizona-based high-tech company named KinetX, together with another firm named Cogitek, proposed such a system to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). In a white paper the two firms claimed that their National Flight Emergency Response System (NFERS), as they called it, would prevent 9/11-style hijackings in the future. They insisted that a prototype could be up and running within a year. The white paper described NFERS as “the integration of existing technology for the purpose of transferring cockpit operations to a secure ground station in case of an emergency.” The paper states: “It is important to note that the essential technology exists now.” [vii] [my emphasis] According to the KinetX web site, the FAA never responded to their proposal. However, in January 2006 the Boeing company announced the patent for a similar system.[viii] Boeing’s “auto-land system” reportedly involves an onboard processor. Once activated, it overrides the cockpit controls and guides a hijacked plane to an emergency landing. The auto-land system can be preprogramed into the plane’s autopilot, or operated remotely by ground controllers. It can be activated in several different ways, either directly by the pilot during a hijacking in progress, or indirectly by sensors installed in the cockpit door, which would be tripped by forcible entry; or, lastly, by ground controllers via a remote link.
Here’s my point: Was Boeing’s auto-land system truly a new development in 2006? Or: did the aircraft giant merely pull preexisting hardware off the shelf, as KinetX proposed in 2001 with its NFERS system? The pentagon order of June 1, 2001 strongly suggests that from the standpoint of the US military ROV technology had matured by the spring of 2001, even before 9/11. When was the last time the US military developed a new technology after private industry, or even simultaneously with it? It’s well known that military research & development programs always receive the best available resources and expertise. For which reason the military generally leads the way in technology, usually by at least ten years, sometimes by much more. The emergence of the internet is an obvious example. As we know, the US military developed cyberspace many years before it exploded into the civilian sector. It stands to reason ROV technology may have followed a similar path.
This raises disturbing questions. Did George W. Bush wander off his crib sheet in late September 2001 in his remarks about aircraft safety? Did Bush blunder when he mentioned ROV technology in the same breath with 9/11? Surely one does not need a Ph.D. in rocket science to know that what holds for the goose is also true for the gander. Could not the same ROV technology designed to foil hijackers also be used to commit acts of terrorism, such as, flying planes into tall buildings? Certainly it could, depending on who is at the controls. It’s tempting to wonder just how much (or how little) George W. Bush knew (and knows) about September 11. It’s a fair question, and here’s another: Did Bush come within a whisker of giving the game away?
Joe Vialls’ “back door” theory
According to an aeronautical engineer named Joe Vialls, the technology to capture planes via remote control has been around for a very long time. If he is correct, the US military developed the technology as far back as the mid 1970s–––in response to a sharp upsurge in terrorist hijackings during this period. According to Vialls the project involved two American multinationals in collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The goal was to facilitate the remote recovery of hijacked American aircraft. Vialls claimed the effort succeeded brilliantly in developing the means, first, to listen in on cockpit conversations in a target aircraft; and, second, to take absolute control of the plane’s computerized flight control system by means of a remote channel. The aim was to cut the hijackers out of the control loop, meanwhile, empowering ground controllers to return a hijacked plane to a chosen airport, where police would deal with the terrorists. To be “truly effective,” however, the new technology “had to be completely integrated with all onboard systems.” This could only be achieved by incorporating the system into a new aircraft design. Vialls charged this is exactly what happened. A high-level decision was made and Boeing very quietly included a “back door” into the computer designs for two new commercial planes then on the drawing boards: the 767 and 757. Both planes went into production in the early 1980s.
Vialls shocked even internet users when he posted all of this on his web site in October 2001.[ix] He contended that the system, although designed for the best of intentions, fell prey to a security leak. Somehow the secret computer codes fell into the hands of evildoers within the Bush administration, who surreptitiously used the remote channel on 9/11. Armed with the secret codes–––Vialls charged–––the conspirators activated the hidden channel built into the transponders and simply took over the flight controls. Whether or not the alleged nineteen hijackers were actually on board was uncertain. But the issue clearly was of secondary importance since fanatical Muslims were not flying the planes.
Crucially, on 9/11, not one of the eight commercial pilots and copilots sent the standard signal alerting FAA authorities that a hijacking was in progress.[x] Sending this signal, or “squawking,” as it is called, takes only a few seconds, and is done by activating a cockpit device known as an ELT (emergency locator transmitter). A pilot simply keys-in a four-digit code and the message “I have been hijacked” flashes on the screen at ground control. The fact that none of the pilots or copilots transmitted this standard SOS on 9/11 was suspicious, the first indication to Vialls that the planes were being flown by remote means. Vialls concluded that once the evildoers had commandeered the transponders the pilots lost the ability to transmit. Additional evidence turned up in a video of the last seconds of Flight 175. According to Vialls, the footage is anomalous because it shows the plane executing a maneuver during its final approach that exceeds the normal software limitations of a 767. Boeing jets are designed with liability concerns in mind, as well as passenger safety. Flight control software prevents a pilot from making steep turns that pull substantial “g” forces. Such turns run the risk of injuring passengers, especially the aged and infirm, which could result in costly lawsuits. Since a pilot cannot normally make such a maneuver, this was powerful evidence that the plane was under remote control.
The Critics Respond
Debunkers, of course, had a field day trying to discredit both Vialls and his 9/11 scenario. What is surprising is that, five years later, his ideas continue to have traction despite the debunkers. Let us now discuss the more thoughtful criticisms. Some pointed out that the flight controls on Boeing 767s and 757s, while fully computerized, are not fly-by-wire designs like newer planes, including the Global Hawk. On the contrary, they are mechanical beasts with hydraulically assisted cable and pulley controls. Therefore, according to these critics, a Boeing pilot always has the option of turning “off” the autopilot and flying manually.[xi] One anonymous critic who claims to be a Boeing maintenance technician has argued that even in the worst case a 757 or 767 pilot could simply pull the electrical breakers, shutting down the power supply to the onboard computers. This would allow him to regain control and fly the old fashioned way, that is, by the seat of his pants, though, no doubt, with considerably more difficulty. Such criticisms, I fully acknowledge, may well be correct. The problem is that under the circumstances it’s impossible to evaluate them, without additional information. Unfortunately, short of hacking into Boeing’s corporate files there is no way to determine whether the company did or did not engineer a hidden override system into its 767s and 757s. Nor can Vialls help us, unfortunately, since he passed on more than a year ago.
The story has an intriguing addendum. Vialls also contended that after taking delivery of a fleet of Boeing jetliners in the 1990s officials at Lufthansa airlines made a shocking discovery. By chance, they stumbled onto the hidden ROV system, at which point, according to Vialls, Lufthansa, concerned about the security of its fleet, went to considerable trouble and expense to remove the original flight control system, and replace it with one of German design. Insofar as I know, the story remains unconfirmed. On the other hand, it will not die–––there is yet another twist. In 2003 Andreas von Buelow, a former minister of research and technology in the German government, authored a book, The CIA and September 11, in which he discussed Joe Vialls’ remote control theory and called for a new investigation. Von Buelow also made a stunning charge of his own: that the 9/11 attack was not the work of Islamic extremists, but was an inside job orchestrated by the CIA. As a former high official in the German defense ministry, was Von Buelow privy to the details about Lufthansa’s experience with Boeing? At present, unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers. For which reason I call on Lufthansa and Boeing to come to our assistance by disclosing their corporate records to an independent team of inspectors.
In recent years Andreas von Buelow has not backed away from the controversial opinions expressed in his book. In radio interviews he has said that the “hijacked” planes on 9/11 were most likely guided by some form of remote control. He thinks 9/11 was a black operation carried out by a small group within the US intelligence community, numbering fewer than 50 people.[xii]
The Latency Period Issue
Other critics came at Vialls from a different direction. They claimed that potential 9/11 conspirators would never use ROV technology because of the so called latency period issue. In short, flying planes by remote control involves a troublesome time delay, which makes precision flying difficult if not impossible.[xiii] These critics have cited the astronomical accident rate for drone aircraft–––100 times higher than for manned planes. Take, for instance, another type of US surveillance-and-attack drone known as the Predator. Out of 135 of these unmanned planes delivered and used in military operations, at least 50 have crashed, and 34 others suffered serious accidents.[xiv] Obviously, such numbers do not inspire confidence. For this reason, contend these critics, 9/11 conspirators would have rejected ROV technology out of hand as too unreliable.
The argument sounds plausible, but is easily refuted. A look at the specifications for the Global Hawk shows that there are two different ways to remotely control an aircraft, only one of which involves a time delay. The first is via a remote link, i.e., a communications satellite, which does indeed involve a latency period. The second means of control, however, is direct line-of-sight, and involves no such a thing. Evildoers determined to fly planes into the World Trade Center (WTC) could have easily overcome the latency period issue by setting up a nearby command center, for example, in Building 7 (WTC 7). They may also have needed rooftop cameras or other equipment to provide a real-time video feed. Once controllers in the command center established visual contact, they would have merely switched from the remote link to line-of-sight, and then, would have guided the jetliner in during its final approach. Remember, the final approach was the only place where slop in the controls would matter.
Equipment on the Roof?
It’s curious that in 1993, at the time of the first WTC bombing, dozens of workers climbed to the rooftop where they were rescued by helicopters. But no such exodus occurred on 9/11. Many people trapped on the upper floors did try to reach the roof, but, unfortunately, they could not because someone had locked the exit doors. We know this from cell phone calls made by the victims in the final desperate moments. One can well imagine their horror, after fleeing toxic smoke, heat and flames, only to find there would be no escape. Surely at this point they must have known they were doomed. We were told the doors were locked for security reasons, but this was never fully explained. Was the actual reason more sinister? Yes, perhaps, assuming evildoers had installed cameras and perhaps other equipment atop each tower to supply a direct video feed. In that case the plotters had good reason to lock the doors: to prevent the accidental discovery of their foul plan by some unsuspecting tenant wandering about the roof on his noon lunch break. Another even darker motive may have been to minimize the chance that survivors would live to tell undesirable stories about bombs exploding in the core of the buildings. Due to the smoke and heat, helicopter rescue would have been difficult, but not impossible. Notice, this would also explain the demolition of WTC 7. No doubt, the command center had been equipped with a substantial amount of hardware. Nor could this be removed after the fact without running grave risks. Therefore, WTC 7 had to come down, to destroy the evidence.
The Mystery Plane
As for the pentagon strike, there were multiple reports of a second plane in the sky at the time of the attack. Eyewitnesses described it as a C-130 military transport. They say it closely followed Flight 77, but peeled off after the crash and flew away.[xv] The 9/11 Commission Report mentions this second plane, confirms that it was a military C-130H, and briefly describes its involvement, now a part of the official 9/11 narrative.[xvi] According to the report the C-130H “had just taken off en route to Minnesota.” From another source I learned it departed from nearby Andrews AFB, in Maryland.[xvii] Supposedly, air traffic controllers at Reagan Airport (located south of the pentagon) requested the C-130H pilot to “identify and follow the suspicious aircraft,” presumably Flight 77. I shook my head in disbelief when I read this passage, since when has the FAA or the military used C-130 transports to intercept hostile aircraft? Why indeed was this plane shadowing Flight 77? The strange rendezvous raises questions that the panel should have investigated, but the 9/11 report gives us no further information. Evidently, we are supposed to believe this other plane just happened to be in the vicinity at the time of the attack. The panel’s failure to examine a matter of such obvious importance is the clearest indication that the 9/11 commission was not a serious investigation, but a staged event, like a show trial, whose purpose was not to learn the truth but to give the appearance of an investigation.
As Flight 77 approached the pentagon it reportedly made a sweeping 330 degree turn. Whereupon its pilot–––Hani Hanjour?–––“advanced the throttles to maximum power” and rapidly descended 2,200 feet into the west wing.[xviii] The impact site was “lucky,” as we know, since this portion of the building was undergoing renovation. In fact, the job was only days away from completion. For this reason the number of fatalities was sharply reduced. But wait a minute: Why would real terrorists determined to immolate themselves in a fiery suicide attack go out of their way to inflict the fewest possible casualties, when they could easily have murdered thousands in one fell swoop? Wouldn’t real terrorists try to decapitate the US military by taking out the high command? It was no secret the offices of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the other military brass were located in the east wing, on the opposite side of the building. The alleged hijackers could easily have targeted them simply by crashing into the pentagon roof. Out of 125 victims (not counting the passengers) only one general died.[xix] Many of the fatalities were civilian personnel from the pentagon’s accounting office, a majority of whom were killed. Needless to say, I found all of this peculiar.
Recall that on September 10, 2001 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted in a public statement that $2.3 trillion in military appropriations had gone missing, i.e., was unaccounted for.[xx] Yet, the following day, on the evening of 9/11, just hours after the attack, indeed, even as fires were still burning in the west wing, Rumsfeld had the chutzpah to go before the Senate Armed Services Committee and berate its chairman Senator Carl Levin for inadequately funding the military.[xxi] The shakedown was extremely effective. Soon after, as we know, Congress passed a $40 billion special appropriations bill for the “war on terrorism,” and, ever since, Congress has essentially handed the pentagon a blank check. All of this happened with hardly a word of protest. Notably, the military windfall also meant sharp funding increases for the US Space Command.
The Ultimate High Ground
As a result, today the US military is forging ahead with plans to weaponize space. True, the basic research and development programs were already in place during the Clinton administration, which funded the Space Command to the tune of about $6 billion annually. The actual figures, of course, are unknown, and undoubtedly are higher since a good deal of this research is classified. Much of it falls within the ‘black’ budget, the actual size of which no one seems to know. How all of this came to pass is extremely important, because it set the stage for 9/11. So, let us quickly review, as briefly as possible.
Space satellites first proved their worth to the US military in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, when the US drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. Their vital communications and surveillance role during the desert campaign led to a policy debate within the Clinton administration about the next phase. The policy question was: Should we weaponize space? Hawkish generals saw this as the shape of the future, and some of them made blunt public statements. In 1996, for example, General Joseph Ashy, who then headed the US Space Command, told Aviation Week & Space Technology that the agenda was “politically sensitive, but it’s going to happen. Some people don’t want to hear this, and it sure isn’t in vogue, but, absolutely, we’re going to fight in space. We’re going to fight from space and we’re going to fight into space.”[xxii] No doubt, Ashy was speaking for many in the pentagon who believe that outer space is the ultimate high ground, from which to dominate events on earth. General Ashy put it this way: “We will engage terrestrial targets someday, ships, airplanes, land targets, from space. We will engage targets in space, from space.” Which, of course, means deploying weapons in space. In 1997 Keith Hall, Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, made a similar point in an address to the National Space Club, when he said: “With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it, and we’re going to keep it.”[xxiii]
Full Spectrum Dominance
The same candid language can be found in a number of vision documents released by the pentagon during this period. All of them made the case for US control of space. One 1997 document called Vision for 2020 outlined sweeping plans for “full spectrum dominance,” which it defined as “the synergy of space superiority with land, sea and air superiority.”[xxiv] Another 1998 report, The Long Range Plan, much in the same vein, used language replete with phrases like “Control of Space,” “Full Force Integration,” and “Global Engagement.”[xxv] These and other vision papers emphasized the marriage of corporate and military interests.
It’s no wonder that as the pentagon’s R&D programs moved ahead in the 1990s, the international community looked on with growing alarm. Many states feared that the US had violated, or was preparing to violate, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. This was ironic, since for many years the US had been a staunch supporter of the space treaty. Indeed, the US played a vital role in its creation. After the launch of Sputnik in 1957, Washington and Moscow both realized that preventing an arms race in space was in their mutual interest. The 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty barred nuclear tests from space, and the 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibited weapons of mass destruction. The latter defined space as a neutral sanctuary available to all nations for peaceful uses.
With the disturbing prospect of an arms race in space looming even during the Clinton presidency, in 1999 China and Russia brought a resolution before the United Nations to strengthen the Outer Space Treaty. The resolution called for negotiations to add a provision banning all weapons from space. The vote was nearly unanimous, with 163 nations in favor, and none opposed. However, the US and two other states abstained–––Israel and Micronesia. The following year the UN debated the resolution again, and it passed by the same wide margin. Again, the US abstained. These UN votes were a signal, obvious to everyone except perhaps Americans, who invariably are the last to know what their government is doing, that the world’s lone remaining superpower, in the wake of the Cold War, might be on the verge of flexing its military muscles. The Republican-controlled US Senate had already put the planet on notice in 1998 when it rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTB), which Clinton supported. The near-collapse of the 2000 Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was another hint that a sea-change was brewing. As we know, the 2005 NPT Review Conference did collapse, after President Bush sent a budgetary request to Congress for nuclear bunker-busters. The move was a blatant signal to the world that the US government was not interested in taking even one meaningful step toward nuclear disarmament, but, in fact, was determined to move in the opposite direction. Bush’s appropriations request was a clear violation of Article VI of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). No wonder the conference broke up in disarray after failing even to agree on an agenda.
Hawkish generals in the pentagon, including Richard Myers and Ralph Eberhart, both former chiefs of the US Space Command, viewed these developments through their own dark lens. Pentagon hawks strongly opposed the Test Ban, even though it would have locked the US into a position of nuclear superiority, since it also “threatened” to tie America’s hands–––in their view a disaster. They believed the US must be unconstrained in the use of its power. The generals also chaffed under Clinton’s lackluster, i.e., centrist, performance in foreign policy. But probably their biggest beef was his restraint on space. Though Clinton allowed R&D to move ahead, he remained committed to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, and so, forbade the deployment of space weapons. Hawks found this unacceptable, because they believed the US had to move quickly and decisively to take control of the high ground. For only by consolidating its preeminent position could the US thwart all challengers in the foreseeable future.
Hawks and Neo Cons:
A Marriage of Convenience
Not surprisingly, pentagon hawks welcomed the new Bush administration. After all, the neo cons shared many of the same goals. In 1999 the neo cons had boldly released their own vision document, Rebuilding America’s Defenses. The paper, which can still be downloaded from the internet, calls for the “transformation” of US military forces, and emphasizes the need to control outer space.[xxvi] The document mentions with regret that most Americans do not favor the aggressive use of US military power in the world. For this reason–––the document states–––the necessary changes will proceed slowly, that is, barring some new external threat capable of galvanizing the nation, such as another Pearl Harbor. Here, the neo cons may have borrowed a page from Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter. In his influential 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski had noted with similar frustration and puzzlement this inability of Americans to recognize the imperial virtues. Brzezinski had argued anyway that America must somehow overcome this “weakness” of character and fulfill its historic destiny as global superpower.
Everything Bush and the neo cons have done closely followed this script. A report released by Donald Rumsfeld in January 2001 laid out the plans in more detail. The report warned that US intelligence satellites were vulnerable to a “space Pearl Harbor,” i.e., a sneak attack. Rumsfeld also favored scrapping the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), which he regarded as an impediment to “transformation.”[xxvii] Sure enough, before year’s end President G.W. Bush announced the termination of the ABM treaty, paving the way for his so-called missile defense initiative (SDI). Bush’s action prompted a 2002 lawsuit by 33 members of Congress led by Dennis Kucinich (D - Ohio), who charged that Bush’s unilateral action was illegal, a violation of Article II, section 2 of the US Constitution, which invests Congress, not the executive, with the authority to make /abrogate international treaties. By canceling a treaty without the assent of Congress Bush assumed the powers of a dictator.[xxviii]
In Your Face From Outer Space
In fact, Bush misled the nation about SDI, since missile defense of the continental US was only one part of the package. SDI’s broader goal was to secure American global economic “interests and investments.” The neo con logic went as follows: In a world of increasing competition for scarce resources the US military must be prepared to fend off challenges by have-not nations and so called rogue states; and this will entail denying to others the use of space. Why? Simple: to maintain US supremacy–––currently unrivaled. Moreover, and this is crucial, the doctrine also insists that the US has the right to preemptively attack those who seek not to defeat the US, but simply to deter US military power. Toward these ends the US Space Command would eventually deploy offensive weapons such as space-based lasers and kinetic energy weapons, possibly powered by nuclear reactors. By the way, the motto of the US Space Warfare Center, one of the labs where the US conducts research, is: “In Your Face From Outer Space.” This scrap of Ramboesque doggerel is probably a true glimpse of the future, if Americans don’t soon retake control over their government.
The march to the right continued. In 2002 the Department of Defense (DoD) merged the US Space Command with STRATCOM, the Strategic Command (the old Strategic Air Command, or SAC). The logic was simple. The pursuit of full spectrum dominance now required a unified command structure.
In 2005 the US changed its vote at the UN. By now, the space treaty resolution had become an annual event. This time, however, instead of abstaining as in previous years, the US cast the lone “No.”[xxix] It was a historic shift in policy, yet, insofar as I am aware it went unreported in the sleepy US press.
More recently, in August 2006, President Bush authorized a formal statement of US space policy, the first official redraft since 1996. The declassified portion of the document states that in the future the US will reject all arms control agreements that might in any way constrain US flexibility in space.[xxx]
The Chinese Response
All of these developments surely explain the recent brouhaha with China. On January 11, 2007 the Chinese destroyed one of their own aging satellites with a ballistic missile, prompting outrage in Washington and protests from half a dozen other nations.[xxxi] The Chinese exercise was a clear escalation from last summer when, according to reports, the Chinese “painted” a US satellite using a ground-based laser. Not surprisingly, as a result, conservatives are now calling on Bush to take the needed steps to defend US satellites; which, unfortunately, will almost certainly involve deploying weapons in space–––a huge step and a huge mistake, since precipitate action can only make matters worse. While I agree that the recent incidents are alarming, it does not follow that China is an emerging threat. The Chinese are merely responding to what the US is already doing. Two years ago Hui Zhang, a China expert at Harvard, cautioned that the Chinese regard Bush’s SDI program as a serious threat to their national security.[xxxii] The Chinese are worried that the US is trying to achieve a first-strike nuclear capability. They fear that if the US succeeds in neutralizing China’s modest nuclear deterrent (which numbers 20-30 ICBMs), Washington will then be able to use its military prowess to blackmail Beijing, hence, interfere in China’s internal affairs. From China’s standpoint the issue is one of national sovereignty. The Russians have similar concerns, and according to Dr. Helen Caldicott have taken extraordinary measures to preserve their deterrent. In an address at the 2006 Perdana Global Peace Forum, Dr. Caldicott claimed that the Russians have installed a special doomsday facility in the Ural Mountains–––to be activated at the push of a button. Should a US nuclear surprise attack destroy Moscow, decapitating the Russian government, a special communications missile will launch and transmit the attack code to all surviving Russian ICBMs, which will then launch automatically. The dead Russian leadership thus will reach out from the grave to exact nuclear retribution on America.
Unfortunately, both China and Russia have good reason to worry. In 2006 two American professors warned that under Bush the US has indeed been moving toward a first-strike nuclear advantage, and already has come perilously close.[xxxiii] Even as I write the Bush administration is moving ahead with the most sweeping realignment of the US nuclear force structure since the Cold War.[xxxiv]
SDI: back to the future
The actions of the Bush administration, especially its SDI program, have made the world a much more unstable place. Missile defense systems have never been proven effective in principle, and Bush’s SDI program is no different. For this reason the vast expenditures that are involved amount to a huge corporate boondogle–––a swindle of the American taxpayer. Even if the US eventually deploys such a system, it will have no defensive value, since it could easily be overwhelmed. For this reason, as critics have charged, such a system only “makes sense” as part of a nuclear first-strike capability, for the purpose of staving off a much diminished retaliatory response. This is the reason missile defense systems are so destabilizing. Ironically, this was the same argument, no less valid today, that persuaded Washington and Moscow to draft the 1972 ABM Treaty in the first place. The treaty banned most missile defense systems. The difference in 2007, of course, is that the Soviet Union is no more. Evidently the neo cons now feel unencumbered to pursue their mad fantasies of a US global imperium, backed up by the threat of nuclear first use.
After the recent incident, Liu Jianchao, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, emphasized that “China opposes the weaponization of space and an arms race in space.” Jianchao went on: “What needs to be stressed is that China has always advocated the peaceful use of space.”[xxxv] He was not lying. Since 2002 China and Russia have attempted to persuade the Bush administration to sit down and negotiate a new treaty that would ban all weapons from space. Such a treaty makes excellent sense, and would benefit all nations, including the US, for obvious reasons. Verification would present no insuperable problems. In fact, the more nations that possess orbiting intelligence satellites the more secure the world will become, since everyone will be monitoring everyone else. The basic issue is quite simple and is understood around the world, everywhere, that is, except here in the US. The Bush administration has obstinately refused to negotiate–––just as it has refused to talk in the cases of Iran, North Korea, the Palestinians, the International Tribunal, the Kyoto protocols, on and on.
Clearly, the neo cons and hawkish generals have set the United States on a collision course not only with China and Russia, but, indeed, with every nation that has legitimate scientific and economic interests in space. The recent Chinese test is a warning of what the future will hold if the US does not soon join with the world community in banning weapons from the next frontier. Yet, how many Americans understand these issues? Few, I would bet. And even fewer understand the connection with 9/11, the pivotal event that spawned the Bush doctrines of perpetual warfare and the weaponization of space. Looking back in 2004, General Peter Schoomaker, Army Chief of Staff, had reason to feel smug when he pointed out that 9/11 had “a huge silver lining.”[xxxvi] It certainly did–––for some.
Yes, Generals Do Lie
I have shown that pentagon hawks and neo cons share a grand strategy that is inimical to the greater good. For which reason their global agenda was, from a political standpoint, virtually unobtainable through functioning democratic institutions. This establishes a powerful motive. But does it follow that they conspired to subvert democracy to achieve their sweeping goals? Were they complicit in 9/11? Or, worse: did they stage the attack? Such a conclusion, of course, would not necessarily follow–––were it not for the incriminating fact that Generals Eberhart and Myers lied to the 9/11 Commission, and to Congress. This is not just my opinion. It was the opinion of various members of the 9/11 Commission. On August 2, 2006 the Washington Post reported that “...staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public, rather than a reflection of the fog of war. Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of the tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation.”[xxxvii] Thomas H. Kean, panel chairman, told the Post: “We, to this day, don’t know why NORAD told us what they told us. It was just so far from the truth.” John Farmer, another member of the panel, who happened to be a former New Jersey attorney general, described his gut reaction: “I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described.” Unfortunately, the Post story quickly dropped out of the news and was forgotten. Nor is the episode recounted in the 9/11 Commission Report, which goes to great lengths to exonerate the generals of any wrongdoing. Indeed, the final report is a carefully sanitized work of the imagination, with credit going to Philip Zelikow, a Bush insider who stage-managed the 9/11 investigation from start to finish. When Zelikow’s close ties to Condeleeza Rice were revealed in testimony before the commission, the families of the 9/11 victims demanded his resignation, but to no avail. Zelikow and his staff not only controlled the panel’s schedule and agenda, and the flow of information to panel members, they also oversaw the preparation of the final report, hence, made key decisions about what to include and what to leave out.[xxxviii] We know, additionally, that Zelikow sent the draft report to the White House for a final “proofing.” This was the devil’s bargain finagled in return for Bush’s “cooperation.” For all of these reasons the 9/11 Commission was in no truthful sense an independent body. We should not be surprised that its final product is an impeccably scrubbed rendition of the official 9/11 narrative. This Phil Zelikow dutifully accomplished on behalf of his boss, G.W. Bush, by smoothing over impossible contradictions through the practiced arts of deletion and deception.
The NORAD Tapes
The shock of panel members cited above was in reaction to new evidence that came to light, late in the investigation. The evidence was in the form of certain NORAD audio tapes, which for many months the government had refused to hand over. Thanks to a court order, however, the panel eventually obtained the tapes, which revealed serious discrepancies in the generals’ earlier testimony, given in May 2003. It goes without saying that the panel should immediately have subjected these tapes to exhaustive forensic analysis, to authenticate them, that is, to verify that they had not been retouched. The 9/11 report makes no mention of any vetting process, however, and, unfortunately, we must conclude it wasn’t done. This means that the procedures of forensic analysis which are routine in ordinary felony cases of murder and larceny were deemed unnecessary in the case of the greatest crime in US history. Such a glaring departure from procedures usually taken for granted in criminal investigations fatally undermines the 9/11 commission’s final report. Indeed, the omission is so grossly negligent it should have sparked an immediate public outcry. But there was not even a peep. The US media neglected to cover the story. Have we sunk to the level that we will swallow anything?
Based on what we currently know, there is every reason to suspect that the NORAD tapes were doctored before their release. Why would the pentagon do this? Obviously, to effect damage control. As embarrassing as the “new” information on the tapes turned out to be, the truth might have been infinitely more damaging. The pentagon had already changed its story, once. According to the original version of events, as reported by the press on September 11, 2001, NORAD quite simply failed to intercept any of the hijacked planes on 9/11. NORAD failed to put a fighter in the sky to defend the nation’s capital for nearly 90 minutes. Nor did this happen until after the pentagon had been hit. Two days later, General Richard Myers, acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, affirmed this version of events in testimony given on Capitol Hill. At which point it became clear that the pentagon had a serious problem on its hands. The facts were not only evidence of incompetence at the highest level, they were suspicious on their face because they smacked of a stand-down; which, if true, was treason. Within days the pentagon amended its story to allay such concerns. According to 9/11 panel member Bob Kerrey, this occurred after NORAD briefed the president on September 17, 2001.[xxxix] Kerrey’s point was that the White House instructed the pentagon to cover its tracks.
The following day, on September 18, 2001, the pentagon announced a new 9/11 timeline, essentially blaming the FAA for its failure to inform NORAD about the hijacked planes in a timely manner.[xl] For this reason–––we were told–––NORAD could not respond effectively on 9/11. This second account stood for three years, but had serious problems of its own. Not the least of which is that the story was improbable. It so happens that scrambling fighters is a frequent and routine practice. If a commercial or private aircraft deviates from its scheduled flight path by as little as two miles, or if there is a loss of radio contact, or if the plane’s transponder stops transmitting, FAA flight controllers will first attempt to contact the pilot and remedy the problem. However, if this fails the FAA is required to contact NORAD for assistance. If there is any doubt, the FAA’s policy is to assume the worst, in other words, an emergency.[xli] The FAA made 67 such requests of NORAD during one nine-month period alone, from September 2000 to June 2001, and in every single case NORAD responded by scrambling planes, without a hitch.[xlii] That’s an average of about two scrambles a week, more than 100 per year. The procedure, in short, is routine. It’s done all the time.
Why then, the sudden breakdown on 9/11, when for no apparent reason FAA controllers began to behave like a bunch of incompetent morons? Another problem with the pentagon’s account is that it is difficult to reconcile with the high degree of competence and professionalism the FAA otherwise displayed on 9/11, when the agency successfully shut down the entire US air traffic system in about three hours. During this period, FAA officials grounded 4,500 commercial and private aircraft without a single mishap. The feat was unprecedented, and all the more impressive given the conditions of extreme duress on 9/11. As the commission itself admits in its report, the FAA performed “flawlessly.”[xliii] Yet, we are expected to believe this same agency fumbled a simple phone hand-off to NORAD four times in succession on the same morning? Moreover, even if we assume that the pentagon’s version of events was correct, there is an added problem: Arguably there was still sufficient time to intercept three of the four “hijacked” planes, Flight 175 (which hit the south tower), Flight 77 (which hit the pentagon) and Flight 93 (which crashed near Shanksville).[xliv] The time from scramble-to-intercept normally takes no more than about 10 minutes.
The Phantom Plane
To remedy these problems, in July 2004 the 9/11 Commission introduced a third version of the story that put the blame even more emphatically on the FAA. The panel “corrected” the timeline, in effect, declaring that the FAA wasn’t merely late in making the hand-off, no, it failed altogether. This absolved the higher ups at NORAD and the pentagon of any serious negligence. The report mildly rebukes the military, but even this slap of the wrist is not aimed at the generals, but rather, at the scrambled fighter pilots, who, we are told, misunderstood their assignment, or somehow got their signals crossed.
The new version can be summed up as follows: NORAD couldn’t respond effectively on 9/11 because it had no warning that Flights 175, 77 and 93 had been hijacked. As for Flight 11, get a grip, because what I’m going to tell you is so bizarre you probably won’t believe it. Neither did it. But I am not pulling your leg. The panel’s new and revised timeline is supposedly based on a previously unknown transmission, found on the NORAD tapes. This transmission allegedly proves that in the one case where the FAA did alert NORAD, i.e., the case of Flight 11, the FAA got it wrong and passed incorrect information. This sent NORAD on a wild goose chase after a nonexistent plane. Someone at the FAA mistakenly concluded that Flight 11 was still in the air–––did not hit the WTC–––and was heading south toward Washington. Based on this false information, NORAD scrambled jets from Langley Air Force Base, near Hampton, Virginia, to intercept Flight 11, now deemed a threat to Washington. The fighters were armed, and the intercept was supposed to happen near Baltimore. This, we are told, explains why there were no fighters available to defend the nation’s capital when Flight 77 mysteriously appeared on the radar screens just six miles SW of Washington. By then, of course, it was too late. Oh, and by the way, when the error was finally discovered and the fighters were rerouted to the capital, the military learned, to everyone’s great surprise, that the jets were NOT were they were supposed to be, i.e., near Baltimore. No, they were out over the Atlantic Ocean flying in circles in a holding pattern, at least 150 miles from Washington.[xlv] By the way, a similar mix-up occurred in the case of the fighters scrambled from Otis AFB on Cape Cod to defend New York City. Instead of patrolling the skies over Manhattan, they ended up in a holding pattern off Long Island, more than 115 miles away![xlvi]
This whopper is the third (and now official) version of events as presented in the 9/11 Commission Report. Unfortunately, since we have no assurance the NORAD tapes were vetted we can have no confidence in their authenticity, and, it follows, no confidence in this “corrected” story. Beyond this fundamental problem, the revised timeline is not credible for many reasons. For example, there is powerful evidence that the FAA never lost track of Flight 11 on the morning of September 11, 2001. According to multiple reports, air controllers tracked Flight 11 on radar all the way to the World Trade Center, and were well aware it had crashed.[xlvii] For example, Boston flight controller Mark Hodgkins later said, “I watched the target of American 11 the whole way down.”[xlviii] This flatly contradicts the official story.
The 9/11 report also fails to provide even one checkable source substantiating the existence of the phantom plane. The report claims that the story was corroborated “from taped conversations at FAA centers, contemporaneous logs compiled at NEADS [the Northeast sector of NORAD], Continental Region headquarters, and NORAD; and other records.”[xlix] All of which sounds impressive, but where are these transcripts and records? They do not appear in the final report, nor have they been made public. Without a verifiable source, why should we believe the panel?
Moreover, after mentioning these sources the report immediately contradicts itself by conceding that it “was unable to find the source of this mistaken FAA information [that Flight 11 was still airborne]”[l] No source? What then, are the alleged records cited above? The report never resolves this inconsistency. Worse, it contradicts itself again by admitting that the investigation was unable to find a single reference to the phantom plane in any “public timeline or statement issued by the FAA or Department of Defense.”[li] These admissions do nothing to boost our confidence. On the contrary, they fuel our suspicions. Perhaps the phantom plane does not appear in any of the timelines for the simple reason that the story is a complete fabrication. Certainly the generals did not breathe one word about the phantom plane during their previous testimony before the 9/11 panel in May 2003. This would explain NORAD General Larry Arnold’s embarrassing moments before the panel in 2004, the day of his final appearance, when panel members had to coach him about the phantom plane to help him “remember.”[lii] No wonder the commissioners were shocked and outraged, as reported by the Washington Post, the story I cited above. Shock would certainly be my reaction if I learned that someone had deceived me. Of course, thanks to Phil Zelikow’s editing skills the final report makes no mention of any of this. Instead, we learn that NORAD’s earlier account was merely “incorrect.”[liii] In the absence of verifiable evidence, however, should we believe the report? I think not. In fact, there is every reason to suspect that Phillip Zelikow and his team participated in the deception.
Let us be very clear. The pentagon’s account was not merely “incorrect,” it was a lie. This was the conclusion of Senator Mark Dayton (D -MN), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who after reading the just released 9/11 Commission Report accused the pentagon of the “most gross incompetence and dereliction of responsibility and negligence that I’ve ever witnessed in the public sector.” According to Dayton, the generals “lied to the American people, they lied to Congress, and they lied to your 9/11 Commission.”[liv] Of course, Sen. Dayton was laboring under the belief that the military lied to conceal its incompetence. But what if the motive was quite different? What if the generals lied to conceal their complicity in the 9/11 attack–––or their guilty role in staging it? That would explain their unreserved acceptance of the new timeline, as well as their previous “incorrect” testimony.
There is no doubt that the generals lied about Flight 93 when they insisted it crashed near Shanksville, PA, since overwhelming evidence indicates the US military shot down the plane. The official story is a eulogy for dead passengers who, we are told, bravely sacrificed their lives to save Washington. It all sounds so patriotic, but wait a moment. Have we forgotten our Greek drama and our Shakespeare? Effusive flattery and praise for murdered victims has long been a staple in high crimes involving treachery. (The king is dead. Long live the king!) Something about this threadbare tale is just not right. It stinks of self-serving artifice. It is also convincingly refuted by the pieces of Flight 93 that were found scattered over at least six square miles, and by the conspicuous absence of wreckage at the alleged crash site. And what of the dozens of local eyewitnesses who reported evidence of a midair explosion? Were they all high on psycho-tropic drugs? The plane was carrying bags of mail, which reportedly fell like confetti. David Ray Griffin has covered this body of evidence very thoroughly in his able study of the 9/11 report, and there is no need to review the details, here.[lv]
The generals also lied about NORAD when they claimed that its mission was solely to defend against external threats. For which reason–––we were told–––NORAD was blind on 9/11. General Eberhart gave this lame excuse during his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and General Myers repeated it to the 9/11 Commission. On that occasion Myers said: “We were looking outward. We did not have the situational awareness inward because we did not have the radar coverage.”[lvi] One of the 9/11 panel’s (few) finer moments occurred when member Jamie Gorelick rose to the occasion and challenged Myers on this point. Gorelick, a former counsel to the Department of Defense, correctly pointed out that the NORAD charter says no such thing. In fact, NORAD is charged with “control of the airspace above the domestic US” in addition to defending against external threats. Yet, incredibly, the final report obscures the significance of Gorelick’s important point, and meekly takes the general at his word.
The generals also lied when they claimed that NORAD could not track the hijacked planes on 9/11 after the transponders went off because of antiquated 1970-1980’s era radar equipment. Every member of the commission should have erupted with outrage at this brazen lie, since even during the Cold War NORAD’s primary radar was fully capable of tracking hundreds of planes or missiles simultaneously over the continental US.
The 9/11 panel should have vigorously pursued this vital question. But, once again, incredibly, they unreservedly accepted the pentagon’s explanation; and so does the final report.
The Botched Langley Scramble
The 9/11 commission reached its all time low, however, in its handling of the fiasco of the scrambled pilots. The report suggests that the lead pilot from Langley misunderstood his orders.[lvii] The report contradicts itself, however, because another passage concedes that the pilot was never briefed. As the pilot himself explained: “I reverted to the Russian threat,” meaning that in the absence of an order he reverted to “plan B”, a default or backup order.[lviii] This explains the holding pattern over the Atlantic Ocean. (Were the fighters from Otis flying in circles off Long Island for a similar reason?) But why would the panel fault the pilot? The issuance of orders is not the responsibility of the pilot, but the commanding officer. Evidently, the 9/11 panel members had never heard of a thing called the chain of command. Here was a golden opportunity to find the truth. The key to what happened on 9/11 lay within reach. All the panel had to do was interrogate the pilots closely and trace the orders (or lack of them) up the food chain. But where are the transcripts of these crucial interviews with the pilots? Conducted in private, they are conspicuously absent from the 9/11 report. Nor have they been made public. Why not? There can be only one reason: to shield the guilty, i.e., certain high-ranking officers, from scrutiny and accountability.
Incredibly, the report also faults the FAA for the botched scramble.[lix] This would pass the laugh test, were the matter not so grave, since we know that once the FAA makes a phone hand-off to NORAD in such cases, the responsibility for the intercept then rests with the military. In short, the fighters scrambled on 9/11 were under NORAD’s control, not the FAA’s. This statement in the report is sheer obfuscation, and, given the panel’s mandate “to provide the fullest possible account,” amounts to malfeasance. There’s no other word for it.
Of course, an evildoer familiar with NORAD’s radar system would have known its weaknesses, and how to exploit them. This might explain why honest technicians at NORAD were confused on September 11 by phony blips on their radar screens, blips generated as a result of military drills. We know that at least 10 and as many as 15 such exercises were underway on the morning of the attack.[lx] Fighters had been dispatched to northern Canada, to Iceland, and to North Carolina, sharply reducing the number available for scramble in the event of a real emergency. The 9/11 Commission Report mentions several of the drills, but studiously avoids delving into them. This is very strange, since at least one of the exercises involved crashing a hijacked plane into a building. The panel should have investigated the drills, and brought the facts to light, but it chose not to go there. More serious omissions.
The panel also failed to explain why fighters were not on highest alert at Andrews Air Force Base, located just 10 miles from the Capitol. The base has always been Washington’s port of exit/entry for US presidents and diplomats. Three squadrons of fighters are based at Andrews, and their role has always been to defend the nation’s capital. One of these squadrons even boasted on its web site that its mission was to “provide combat units in the highest possible state of readiness.”[lxi] This particular squadron was away in North Carolina on 9/11, involved in a drill. But what about the other two? Inexplicably, the 9/11 panel failed to explore this question. Curiously, on September 12, 2001, the day after the attack, someone altered the squadron’s web site, amending the above-cited passage to reflect a lower state of readiness. Was this a blatant attempt to destroy evidence of a stand-down?[lxii]
Did VP Cheney Order a Stand-Down?
The most compelling evidence of a stand-down, however, came to light quite unexpectedly during the 9/11 Commission hearings. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta told the panel how, at 9: 20 AM on September 11, he entered the command center located under the White House, where he joined Vice President Cheney, who was already present. A few minutes later Mineta overheard an exchange, but failed to comprehend its significance. On May 23, 2003 Mineta told the commission what happened:
MR. MINETA: There was a young man who had come in and said to the vice president, “The plane is 50 miles out. The plane is 30 miles out.” And when it got down to, “The plane is 10 miles out,” the young man also said to the vice president, “Do the orders still stand?” And the vice president turned and whipped his neck around and said, “Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?” Well, at the time I didn't know what all that meant. And --
MR. HAMILTON: The flight you're referring to is the --
MR. MINETA: The flight that came into the Pentagon.[lxiii]
Mineta told the panel he believed the vice president had given an order to shoot down Flight 77. But, of course, this interpretation makes absolutely no sense. Given the context, plus the fact that the plane was not shot down, the exchange can only refer to a stand-down order. The technician was obviously tracking the incoming plane on radar. Notice, this means the presidential command center was equipped with a real-time radar link to the FAA and NORAD. This is not mere conjecture. The link was confirmed by Richard A. Clark, counterintelligence czar, in his book Against All Enemies.[lxiv] According to Clark the Secret Service was fully in the loop. So we see that Norman Mineta’s testimony flatly contradicts the official explanation that the pentagon was not informed about Flight 77. It also places Cheney at the center of everything, disputing the official story that the vice president did not arrive at the command center until much later. Obviously, the timeline presented in the 9/11 Commission Report is a fabrication designed to distance Cheney from events, hence, to absolve him of any responsibility. Not surprisingly, Mineta’s explosive testimony is nowhere to be found in the 9/11 report.
The Pentagon Controversy
Controversy surrounds the attack on the pentagon, and for good reason, because of the anomalous nature of the evidence. Notably, the conspicuous absence of visible wreckage has led many to conclude that something other than a Boeing 757 hit the building. In the process of reviewing the case, however, I was surprised to discover that, contrary to what many people believe, some wreckage was indeed recovered, mainly from within the building. Several of these parts have been positively identified, and they appear to be a match for a Boeing 757.[lxv] With regard to the crash, we now understand why the exterior windows near the impact zone did not shatter: because they were made of 2 inch-thick blast-resistant material.[lxvi] I suspect that the special design characteristics of the exterior blast wall in this hardened section of the building might similarly explain the small size of the entry hole. Of course, the debate on this will continue, as well it should. Many questions remain. I only hope, meanwhile, that our differences do not distract us from the big picture. It is quite possible that the government has withheld the security camera videos confiscated from the CITGO station on Washington Boulevard (across the street from the pentagon), from the roof of the nearby Sheraton Hotel, from the highway department, and from the pentagon itself, NOT because this footage would show a missile or a smaller plane, but for a very different reason. The videos might reveal that no pilot could possibly have flown the plane that hit the pentagon. In short, the footage may show that the steep banking turn made by Flight 77 exceeded the software limitations built-into Boeing 757 flight-controls. Which would be conclusive evidence that Flight 77 was being flown by remote control.
I will ask, again: Why was a military C-130H in the sky near the pentagon on 9/11? Was this transport plane in fact an airborne control center, outfitted with cameras and ROV hardware? And was it mere coincidence that the final tally of victims included a majority of the pentagon’s accounting staff? Or, do we discern here the faint but unmistakable imprint of a deliberate and cunning hand? Was the accounting office in the west wing sacrificed because its pecuniary staff were deemed nonessential, hence, expendable? What better way to scotch the DoD’s books than by targeting the number-crunchers, thereby mooting democratic oversight far into the future? That would imply a contempt for democratic principles and the separation of powers that is almost unspeakable.
The Other Mystery Plane
This brings us, finally, to the coup de grace. On September 11, 2001 CNN Live reported a second large plane over Washington. It circled high above the White House. This report is very strange because, remember, we are talking about the most tightly restricted airspace on the planet. With a terrorist attack known to be in progress, the only planes that should have been on patrol over Washington were F-15 and F-16 fighters, for the purpose of defending the capital. In fact, fighters should have been ordered up from the first indication of a multiple hijacking. Yet, Washington lay completely exposed. Is it really believable that this was solely the result of bungling by the FAA? Or, that it happened because a lead pilot misunderstood his orders? The 9/11 commission should have thoroughly investigated this important sighting of a second large plane over Washington. But, of course, the panel did nothing of the kind. Yet another omission.
Why was this other plane circling above the White House? Was this another control center, awaiting the arrival of Flight 93 in order to guide it into the Capitol building? A guided crash would likely have killed many Congressmen (and Congresswomen) and Senators, crippling our government. Best-selling author Tom Clancy described such a scenario in a 1994 novel. In the story terrorists fly a radio-controlled plane into the Capitol. The following year, Senator Sam Nunn described this as “not farfetched” in an article featured on the cover of Time magazine.
Nunn had it exactly right. A strike on the Capitol would have plunged the US into the deepest Constitutional crisis in our history, and might well have occasioned the imposition of martial law. Was this the attacker’s ultimate objective, all along? In short, was the 9/11 attack a new kind of coup d’etat, as Webster Tarpley has suggested, for the purpose of abrogating the legal framework of our nation, i.e., the US Constitution?[lxvii] Such a thought is scary off the charts, but is entirely plausible. We would do well to ponder how close we may have come to such a nightmare.
Did the last part of the gambit fail only because of dumb luck? We know Flight 93 was delayed at Newark airport due to heavy runway traffic, and departed 42 minutes late.[lxviii] Did this unforeseen wrinkle compel the evildoers to scrub the last and most ambitious part of their plan? An unopposed “terrorist” crash so late in the morning would have been impossible to explain in terms of FAA incompetence or pilot error, and would have aroused immediate suspicion. Did someone give the order to shoot down Flight 93 for this reason? Something else might have gone wrong, as well. Perhaps the passengers did gain control of the cockpit in the final moments. Assuming that 9/11 was an inside job, they could not be allowed to survive. This would explain why the pentagon adamantly insists that the passengers themselves crashed Flight 93. The departure of Flight 77 from Dulles was also late, but only by 10 minutes, not late enough to abort the pentagon strike, but even so, late enough to threaten the cover story and expose the stand-down. This would explain the urgent need for the hastily revised second timeline announced on September 18, 2001, and, when that failed, the more calculated third rendition in the 9/11 report.
It’s understandable that many Americans deeply resist the scenario I have just described. Most have a difficult time wrapping their mind around something so big, so shocking, and so evil. To think that a group within our own government would do this to us is almost incomprehensible. But the most frightening thing of all is that it’s not only possible, it’s probable. Adolf Hitler well understood and was perfectly willing to exploit this Achilles heal of society. In Mein Kampf he wrote that “the broad mass of a nation....will more easily fall victim to a big lie than a small one.”[lxix] How strange that a psychopath like Hitler saw so deeply into human nature. Are we not facing a similar phenomenon today in America? None of our countrymen were fooled by Bill Clinton’s trivial lie that he did not inhale a marijuana cigarette, or his denial of sex with Monica Lewinsky. Yet, most of us internalized a vastly bigger lie, without a second thought, the no less transparent 9/11 narrative. Human psychology has changed little. Must history now also repeat and disgorge itself upon us, indeed, on an even greater scale? If Americans fail to confront the truth about 9/11, what is to prevent it?
Our nation and the world will never be secure until the conspirators who staged the 9/11 attack are brought to justice. We must therefore insist that the Democratically controlled Congress immediately launch a new and truly independent 9/11 investigation, one that is non-partisan, adequately funded, and empowered with the authority to subpoena witnesses and evidence. The pentagon security videos and the black boxes, currently being withheld, may hold the answers.
If we have the courage to face the fact that our nation has descended into a swamp of corruption and evil, perhaps we can still salvage the future for ourselves and our children. We should draw strength from the knowledge that the 9/11 nightmare, bad as it was, might have been even worse. So long as freedom lives we can choose to be masters of our fate. In the coming days, let us choose well.
Mark H. Gaffney’s first book, Dimona the Third Temple (1989), was a pioneering study of the Israeli nuclear weapons program. Mark’s latest is Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes (2004). Mark can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org Visit his web site at
[i] The June 1, 2001 order can be downloaded at www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/cjcsd/cjcsi/3610_01a.pdf
[i] Webster Griffin Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Progressive Press, 2006, p. 200.
[ii] The July 1997 order can be downloaded at www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/cjcsd/cjcsi/3610_01.pdf
[ii] Several excellent web sites are recommended. http://www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/global_hawk.htm
[iii] “Robot plane flies Pacific unmanned,” ITN News, posted at http://web.archive.org/web/20010707000937/http://itn.co.uk/news/20010424/world/05robotplane.shtm
[iv] New York Times, September 28, 2001.
[v] cited in Jim Marrs, The Terror Conspiracy, Disinformation Company Ltd., 2006, p. 137.
[vi] John Croft, “Diagrams: Boeing patents anti-terrorism auto-land system for hijacked planes,” posted at http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2006/12/01/210869/diagrams-boeing-patents-anti-terrorism-auto-land-system-for-hijacked.html
[vii] The page has been archived at http://geocities.com/mknemesis/homerun.html
[viii] This was reported by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on 911. “Government Official Has New Evidence Regarding Hijacked Airlines,” CNN Live Event/Special, September 11, 2001, 23:52 ET. Posted at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0109/11/se.07.html
[ix] The following site is home to a group of the most indefatigable debunkers on the internet: http://911myths.com/html/remote_control.html
[x] An audio file of one of these interviews is available at http://www.prisonplanet.tv/audio/200406vonbuelow.htm
[xi] For an interesting discussion and additional sources go to: http://911myths.com/html/remote_control.html
[xi] This was reported by the Wall Street Journal, online edition. Go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115491642950528436.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace
[xii] At least eleven eyewitnesses saw a C-130 flying behind the American Airlines plane. http://911research.wtc7.net/pentagon/analysis/witnesses.html
[xiii] Thomas Kean, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, authorized edition, New York, W. W. Norton, 2004, p. 25-26.
[xiv] Matthew L. Wald and Kevin Sack, “The Tapes: ‘We have some planes,’ Hijacker Told Controller,” New York Times, October 16, 2001.
[xv] The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 9-10.
[xvi] The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 314.
[xvii] “The War on Waste: Rumsfeld : The Pentagon cannot account for $2.3 Trillion, CBS News, September 10, 2001. See the video at http://benfrank.net/patriots/news/national/pentagon_missing_trillions
[xviii] Department of Defense News Briefing on the Pentagon Attack, cited in David Ray Griffin’s The New Pearl Harbor, Northhampton, Olive Branch Press, 2004, p. 100.
[xix] Aviation Week and Space Technology, August 5, 1996.
[xx] cited by Karl Grossman, “Nukes in Space: Bush and the New Push for Galactic Warfare,” Alternative Press Review, Summer 2001, posted at http://www.altpr.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=60&page=1
[xxi] US Space Command Vision for 2020, posted at http://www.peaceactionme.org/v-intro.html
[xxii] cited by Karl Grossman, “Nukes in Space: Bush and the New Push for Galactic Warfare,” Alternative Press Review, Summer 2001, posted at http://www.altpr.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=60&page=1
[xxiii] The report can be downloaded from the Project for a New American Century web site. Go to http://www.newamericancentury.org/publicationsreports.htm
[xxiv] The seminal report of the Rumsfeld Space Commission is available for download at http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/space20010111.html
[xxv] “ABM Treaty still lives, say congressmen who sue to undo its ‘unconstitutional’ knifing by Bush without OK of Congress,”
A WALL news report, June 21, 2002 posted at http://www.cndyorks.gn.apc.org/yspace/articles/abmt/treatystilllives.htm
[xxvi] The details are posted at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) web site at http://cns.miis.edu/research/space/armscontrol/international/index.htm
[xxvii] Jeff Hecht, “US takes unilateral stance in new space policy,” NewScientist.com news service, October 10, 2006.
[xxviii] Marc Kaufman and Dafna Linzer, “China Criticized for Anti-Satellite Missile Test,” Washington Post, January 19, 2007.
[xxix] “China Ready to Counter U.S. Space Plans,” China Daily, May 23, 2005.
[xxx] Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, “The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006.
[xxxi] Ralph Vartabedian, “U.S. Rolls Out Nuclear Weapons Plan”,
Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2006.
[xxxii] Joseph Kahn, “China Confirms Test of Anti-Satellite Weapon,” The New York Times, January 23, 2007. Posted at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/23/world/asia/23cnd-china.html?hp&ex=1169614800&en=d9317a9a60f6aebb&ei=5094&partner=homepage
[xxxiii] “Wars ‘Useful’ Says US Army Chief, BBC News, January 23, 2004.
[xxxiv] Dan Eggen, “9/11 Panel Suspected Deception by Pentagon,” The Washington Post, August 2, 2006.
[xxxv] David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, Olive Branch Press, 2005, pp. 282-290.
[xxxvi] Remarks made by Bob Kerrey during 9/11 Commission hearings, June 17, 2004.
[xxxvii] For the press release go to http://www.public-action.com/911/noradresponse/
[xxxviii] The source here is the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Manual. Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and Air Traffic Control (ATC) Procedures,posted at www.faa.gov
[xxxix] AP report, August 13, 2002.
[xl] The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 31.
[xli] The panel even admits this. The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 34.
[xlii] The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 27.
[xliii] The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 20 and 24.
[xliv] Christian Science Monitor, September 13, 2001; ABC News, September 6, 2002; New York Times, September 13, 2001.
[xlv] ABC News, September 6, 2002
[xlvi] The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 34.
[xlvii] The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 26.
[xlviii] The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 34.
[xlix] A verbatim transcript of his testimony may be found in David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, Olive Branch Press, pp. 196-198.
[l] The word “incorrect” becomes a mantra. The 9/11 Commission Report, for instance p. 34.
[li] Minneapolis Star-Tribune, July 30, 2004.
[lii] David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, Olive Branch Press, 2005, chapter 15, especially p. 252.
[liii] FDCH TRANSCRIPTS, Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on Role of Defense Department in Homeland Security Congressional Hearings, Oct. 25, 2001; National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the US, 12th Public Hearing, June 17, 2004, posted at www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing12/9-11Commission_Hearing_2004-06-17.htm
[liv] The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 27.
[lv]The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 45.
[lvi] The report informs us of this fact in a passage so cryptic it remains unexplained to this day: “Third, the lead pilot and local FAA controller incorrectly assumed the flight plan instructions to go “090 for 60” superseded the original scramble order.” Whatever that means. The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 27.
[lvii] Webster Griffin Tarpley gives the fullest account I have yet seen in the latest edition of his book 9/11 Synthetic Terrorism: Made in USA, progressive Press, 2006, see the preface and pp. 203-215.
[lviii] cited in David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, Olive Branch Press, 2005, p. 163.
[lix] As far as I know, Michael Ruppert was the first to report this. See Michael Ruppert, “The Truth and Lies of 9/11” (video), http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/081606_burning_bridge.shtml
The military web sites have been archived at http://www.emperors-clothes.com/9-11backups/dcmilsep.htm and at
[lx] NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TERRORIST ATTACKS UPON THE UNITED STATES, Public Hearing, Friday, May 23, 2003, posted at http://www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing2/9-11Commission_Hearing_2003-05-23.htm
[lxi] Richard A. Clark, Against All Enemies, New York, The Free Press, 2004, p.7.
[lxii] It was widely reported that the few pieces of wreckage recovered from the pentagon crash did not come from a Boeing 757. This was incorrect. The 9/11 truth movement needs to do a better job of researching evidence and following through. In fact, the Rolls Royce expert who reportedly disavowed the parts was not an engineer, but worked in public relations. Furthermore, he was employed at the Rolls Royce plant in Indianapolis, which makes a different engine. The 9/11 reporter who delve PAGE 49d into this never received a confirmation, one way or the other, from the Derby facility, where Rolls Royce produces the 757 engine. Two internet web sites have posted detailed analyses of the parts recovered from the pentagon crash. I urge you to make up your own mind. http://www.pentagonresearch.com/757debris.html
[lxiii] Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2001.
[lxiv] Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terrorism, p.125.
[lxv] Newsweek, September 22, 2001.
[lxvi] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, chapter 10.
Mark H. Gaffney