Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #459 Flying the Friendly Skies

Record­ed May 10, 2004

NB: This stream con­tains both FTR #s 459 and 460 in sequence. Each is a 30 minute broad­cast.

This pro­gram ana­lyzes aspects of air U.S. traf­fic with regard to the 9/11 attacks, shed­ding light on some of the anom­alies in the Bush administration’s offi­cial ver­sion of events of that trag­ic day. Begin­ning with dis­cus­sion of exer­cis­es designed to counter attacks very much like those of 9/11, the pro­gram reveals that the admin­is­tra­tion appears to have known more than they have admit­ted to know­ing, rais­ing ques­tions about the integri­ty of their actions on that day. The pro­gram con­cludes with an inter­est­ing con­trast between George H.W. Bush’s pres­ence on two fate­ful days in Amer­i­can history—11/22/63 and 9/11/2001.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The Bush administration’s fail­ure to warn air­lines of intel­li­gence reports that there was a strong pos­si­bil­i­ty of hijack­ings on 9/11/2001; ques­tions con­cern­ing the appar­ent delay in the launch­ing of fight­er air­craft to inter­cept the Amer­i­can Air­lines flight that crashed into the Pen­ta­gon; the destruc­tion of a tape made by air traf­fic con­trollers who had been in touch with the hijacked flights; Attor­ney Gen­er­al John Ashcroft’s deci­sion in late July of 2001 to begin fly­ing in char­tered gov­ern­ment planes rather than tak­ing com­mer­cial flights; the elder George Bush’s flight out of Wash­ing­ton D.C. on 9/11/2001; the elder Bush’s pres­ence in the air over Dal­las on 11/22/63.

1. Indi­cat­ing that, con­trary to what Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials had main­tained, some ele­ments of gov­ern­ment had antic­i­pat­ed attacks of the type that occurred on Sep­tem­ber 11, the pro­gram begins with dis­cus­sion of gov­ern­ment exer­cis­es designed to defend against ter­ror­ist attacks with hijacked air­lin­ers being used as weapons. (For more about warn­ings of the pos­si­bil­i­ty of attacks of the 9/11 type, see—among oth­er pro­grams–FTR#454.) “In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North Amer­i­can Aero­space Defense Com­mand con­duct­ed exer­cis­es sim­u­lat­ing what the White House says was unimag­in­able at the time: hijacked air­lin­ers used as weapons to crash into tar­gets and cause mass casu­al­ties. One of the imag­ined tar­gets was the World Trade Cen­ter. In anoth­er exer­cise, jets per­formed a mock shoot­down over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet sup­pos­ed­ly laden with chem­i­cal poi­sons head­ed toward a tar­get in the Unit­ed States. In a third sce­nario, the tar­get was the Pentagon—but that drill was not run after Defense offi­cials said it was unre­al­is­tic, NORAD and Defense offi­cials say.”
(“NORAD Had Drills Eeri­ly Like Sept. 11” by Steven Komarow and Tom Squitieri; USA Today; 4/19/2004; p. 1A.)

2. “NORAD, in a writ­ten state­ment, con­firmed that such hijack­ing exer­cis­es occurred. It said the sce­nar­ios out­lined were region­al drills, not reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled con­ti­nent-wide exer­cis­es. ‘Numer­ous types of civil­ian and mil­i­tary air­craft were used as mock hijacked air­craft,’ the state­ment said. ‘These exer­cis­es test­ed track detec­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion; scram­ble and inter­cep­tion; hijack pro­ce­dures; inter­nal and exter­nal agency coor­di­na­tion and oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty and com­mu­ni­ca­tions secu­ri­ty pro­ce­dures.’” (Idem.)

3. “A White House spokesman said Sun­day that the Bush admin­is­tra­tion was not aware of the NORAD exer­cis­es. But the exer­cis­es using real air­craft show that at least one part of the gov­ern­ment thought the pos­si­bil­i­ty of such attacks, though unlike­ly, mer­it­ed scruti­ny. On April 8, the com­mis­sion inves­ti­gat­ing the Sept. 11 attacks heard tes­ti­mo­ny from nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Con­doleez­za Rice that the White House didn’t antic­i­pate hijacked planes being used as weapons. . . .” (Idem.)

4. Next, the pro­gram focus­es on the delay in launch­ing fight­er air­craft to inter­cept the plane that flew into the Pen­ta­gon. “The com­mis­sion inves­ti­gat­ing the Sept. 11 attacks is expect­ed to offer sharp crit­i­cism of the Pentagon’s domes­tic air-defense com­mand in the panel’s final report and will sug­gest that quick­er mil­i­tary action on that morn­ing might have pre­vent­ed a hijacked pas­sen­ger jet from crash­ing into the Pen­ta­gon, accord­ing to com­mis­sion offi­cials. The per­for­mance of the North Amer­i­can Aero­space Defense Com­mand, or NORAD, and its fail­ure to pro­tect Wash­ing­ton and New York City from attack on Sept. 11 will be a focus of the remain­ing pub­lic hear­ings of the 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion, which is in the final weeks of its inves­ti­ga­tion.”
(“9–11 Pan­el Like­ly to Say Pen­ta­gon Attack Was Pre­ventable” by Philip Shenon [New York Times]; The Salt Lake Tri­bune; 4/25/2004.)

5. “Com­mis­sion offi­cials said inter­im reports that were expect­ed to be released at the hear­ings would sug­gest that NORAD had time on Sept. 11 to launch jet fight­ers that could have inter­cept­ed and pos­si­bly shot down Amer­i­can Air­lines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pen­ta­gon at 9:37 a.m., more than 50 min­utes after the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Cen­ter in New York. A total of 184 peo­ple died in the Pen­ta­gon attack, includ­ing 59 aboard the hijacked plane. The com­mis­sion is try­ing to estab­lish a detailed time­line of how and when mil­i­tary pilots report­ing to NORAD were informed on Sept. 11 that Pres­i­dent Bush had giv­en the extra­or­di­nary order allow­ing them to shoot down pas­sen­ger planes. NORAD offi­cers have said pre­vi­ous­ly that they didn’t learn of the order until about 10:10 a.m., a few min­utes after the last of the four hijacked jets crashed into a field in rur­al Penn­syl­va­nia. But White House offi­cials have sug­gest­ed that the order was made ear­li­er in the morn­ing and should have been com­mu­ni­cat­ed imme­di­ate­ly to pilots.” (Idem.)

6. Despite what the admin­is­tra­tion has claimed, it appears that it did not do every­thing pos­si­ble to alert air­lines about the threat of hijack­ings. The admin­is­tra­tion did have warn­ings that such attacks were pos­si­ble. “Although Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials say they did every­thing pos­si­ble to warn air­lines about the threat of hijack­ing pri­or to Sept. 11, 2001, a per­sis­tent pat­tern of tes­ti­mo­ny before the Sept. 11 com­mis­sion sug­gests the White House could have done more. The Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion issued 15 infor­ma­tion cir­cu­lars regard­ing the threat of ter­ror­ist attacks on com­mer­cial air­lin­ers before the attacks that felled the World Trade Cen­ter and dam­aged the Pen­ta­gon, accord­ing to sum­maries of the cir­cu­lars pro­vid­ed to The Chron­i­cle by the FAA.”
(“9/11 Tes­ti­mo­ny Shows Flaws in Alert­ing Air­lines” by David Arm­strong; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 4/20/2004; p, A1.)

7. “But those infor­ma­tion cir­cu­lars were just gen­er­al backgrounders—not secu­ri­ty direc­tives, which are high­er alerts that direct air­lines to take spe­cif­ic mea­sures to pro­tect them­selves, A

ir Trans­port Asso­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent James May has told the com­mis­sion. The asso­ci­a­tion is the air­line industry’s lead­ing trade orga­ni­za­tion and lob­by­ing arm in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. . . .” (Idem.)

8. Next, the dis­cus­sion high­lights the destruc­tion of a tape made by six air traf­fic con­trollers who had dealt with the hijacked air­planes. The destruc­tion of the tape was not nec­es­sar­i­ly an indi­ca­tion of con­spir­a­to­r­i­al process. Nonethe­less, it is pos­si­ble that the infor­ma­tion on the tape might have con­tained impor­tant infor­ma­tion that would have shed light on the events of that day. Now we will nev­er know. “At least six air traf­fic con­trollers who dealt with two of the hijacked air­lin­ers on Sept. 11, 2001, made a tape record­ing that day describ­ing the events, but the tape was destroyed by a super­vi­sor with­out any­one mak­ing a tran­script or even lis­ten­ing to it, the Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment said today. The tap­ing began before noon on Sept. 11 at the New York Air Route Traf­fic Con­trol Cen­ter, in Ronkonko­ma, on Long Island, but it was lat­er destroyed by an F.A.A. qual­i­ty-assur­ance man­ag­er, who crushed the cas­sette in his hand, cut the tape into lit­tle pieces and dropped them in dif­fer­ent trash cans around the build­ing, accord­ing to a report made pub­lic today by the inspec­tor gen­er­al of the Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment. The inspec­tor gen­er­al, Ken­neth M. Mead, had been asked by Sen­a­tor John McCain, chair­man of the Sen­ate Com­merce Com­mit­tee, to look into how well the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion had coop­er­at­ed with the 9/11 Com­mis­sion.”
(“F.A.A. Offi­cial Scrapped Tape of 9/11 Con­trollers’ State­ments” by Matthew L. Wald [New York Times]; 5/6/2004.)

9. “The qual­i­ty-assur­ance man­ag­er told inves­ti­ga­tors that he had destroyed the tape because he thought mak­ing it was con­trary to F.A.A. pol­i­cy, which calls for writ­ten state­ments, and because he felt that the con­trollers ‘were not in the cor­rect frame of mind to have prop­er­ly con­sent­ed to the tap­ing’ because of the stress of the day, Mr. Mead report­ed. Anoth­er offi­cial, the center’s man­ag­er, asked the con­trollers to make the tape because ‘he want­ed a con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous recor­da­tion of con­troller accounts to be imme­di­ate­ly avail­able for law enforce­ment,’ accord­ing to the Mead report, and was con­cerned that the con­trollers would take a leave of absence imme­di­ate­ly, which is stan­dard pro­ce­dure after a crash.” (Idem.)

10. “On the tape, the con­trollers, some of whom had spo­ken by radio to peo­ple on the planes and some who had tracked the air­craft on radar, gave state­ments of 5 to 10 min­utes each, accord­ing to the Mead report. The cen­ter man­ag­er had agreed with the pres­i­dent of the local union chap­ter that the tapes would be destroyed once the stan­dard writ­ten state­ments were obtained, Mr. Mead report­ed. Nei­ther the cen­ter man­ag­er nor the qual­i­ty-assur­ance man­ag­er dis­closed the tape’s exis­tence to their supe­ri­ors at the F.A.A. region that cov­ers New York, or to the agency’s Wash­ing­ton head­quar­ters, accord­ing to the report. None of the offi­cials or con­trollers were iden­ti­fied in the inspec­tor general’s report. . . .” (Idem.)

11. One of the most damn­ing pieces of infor­ma­tion in the broad­cast con­cerns Attor­ney Gen­er­al John Ashcroft’s deci­sion to begin fly­ing in char­tered gov­ern­ment planes in late July of 2001. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had flown on reg­u­lar com­mer­cial flights. Why did he change at that point in time? “Like most of the Bush cab­i­net, Attor­ney Gen­er­al John Ashcroft took com­mer­cial jets when he trav­eled. But on July 24, 2001, he changed that prac­tice and began fly­ing in char­tered gov­ern­ment jets. Asked by CBS News at the time about the change, the Jus­tice Depart­ment cit­ed a ‘threat assess­ment’ by the FBI and said Ashcroft had been advised to trav­el only by pri­vate jet for the remain­der of his term. ‘There was a threat assess­ment, and there are guide­lines. He is act­ing under the guide­lines,’ an FBI spokesman said. But as CBS went on to report, ‘Nei­ther the FBI nor the Jus­tice Depart­ment, how­ev­er, would iden­ti­fy what the threat was, when it was detect­ed, or who made it.’ A ‘senior offi­cial’ at the CIA said he wasn’t aware of spe­cif­ic threats against any cab­i­net mem­ber, and Ashcroft him­self declared, ‘I don’t do threat assess­ments myself, and I rely on those whose respon­si­bil­i­ty it is in the law enforce­ment com­mu­ni­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly the FBI. And I try to stay with­in the guide­lines that they’ve sug­gest­ed I should stay with­in for those pur­pos­es.’ When asked if he knew details of the threat or who might have made it, Ashcroft said, ‘Frankly, I don’t. That’s the answer.’”
(“Fear of Fly­ing” by James Ridge­way; The Vil­lage Voice; 4/13/2004.)

12. The pro­gram con­cludes with a look at the elder George Bush and some of the inter­est­ing times at which he was “fly­ing the friend­ly skies.” On 9/11/2001, George H.W. Bush was in Wash­ing­ton D.C. at the annu­al investor con­fer­ence of the Car­lyle Group. (For more about that sub­ject, see FTR#347.) George H.W. Bush was wing­ing his way OUT of Wash­ing­ton D.C. on that fate­ful day, while the plane that hit the Pen­ta­gon was wing­ing its way IN. “That same morn­ing, in the plush set­ting of the Ritz-Carl­ton hotel in Wash­ing­ton D.C., the Car­lyle Group was hold­ing its annu­al inter­na­tion­al investor con­fer­ence. Frank Car­luc­ci, James Bak­er III, David Ruben­stein, William Con­way, and Dan d’Aniello were togeth­er, along with a host of for­mer world lead­ers, for­mer defense experts. Wealthy Arabs from the Mid­dle East, and major inter­na­tion­al investors as the ter­ror played out on tele­vi­sion. There with them, look­ing after the invest­ments of his fam­i­ly was Shafiq bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s estranged half-broth­er. George Bush, Sr. was also at the con­fer­ence, but Carlyle’s spokesper­son says the for­mer pres­i­dent left before the ter­ror attacks, and was on an air­plane over the Mid­west when flights across the coun­try were ground­ed on the morn­ing of Sep­tem­ber 11.”
(The Iron Tri­an­gle: Inside the Secret World of the Car­lyle Group; by Dan Briody; John Wiley & Sons; ISBN 0–471-28105–5; pp. 139–140.)

13. Wrap­ping up with an excerpt from FTR#236 (from 7/16/2000), the pro­gram notes that on Novem­ber 22, 1963, George H.W. Bush was in the air over Dal­las Texas. He was wing­ing his way INTO Dal­las, and his land­ing was delayed to that Pres­i­dent Kennedy’s body could be flown OUT!
(W—The Revenge of the Bush Dynasty; by Eliz­a­beth Mitchell; Copy­right 2000; pub­lished by Hype­r­i­on; ISBN 0–7868-6630–6; p. 63.)


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