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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 09:39 PM
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Kean & Hamilton Explain U.S. Military Failure to Intercept Flight 77
Without Precedent The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, written by the two co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, is in their words the compelling inside story of how the 9/11 Commission managed to succeed against all odds in producing a report that made clear what went wrong and why.

In this post I describe the authors attempts to justify just one of their major findings a finding that to many people, including me, is the most incredible of the whole incredible story of 9/11. That is the explanation of how the most expensive, powerful, and technologically advanced military that the world has ever known failed to prevent an attack on its capital city despite what appeared to be plenty of time to prevent it. For clarity, my editorial comments in response to various statements by the authors are in red.

Without Precedent an explanation of the general approach of the 9/11 Commission

Kean sets the stage for the drama, thereby explaining the title of the book, in the Prologue:

President Bush said he would meet with us for as long as we wanted and that he would answer any questions After the first few exchanges, I realized the magnitude of what was happening: ten independent citizens sitting in the White House and asking questions of the president and vice-president about a national catastrophe. It was without precedent. This was precisely how democracy is supposed to work.

Huh? What part of that description was without precedent? Perhaps Kean was referring to Bush answering questions without a prepared script.

The authors then devote much of the early chapters of the book to explaining (or justifying, depending on how one looks at it) the methods of their investigation. Included in these explanations are descriptions of their extensive efforts to ensure that the investigation was cordial and not partisan, and a statement that a fundamental purpose of their investigation was NOT to point fingers. Noting that many of the victims families were not happy about the decision not to point fingers, the authors explain, We would be unyielding and comprehensive in uncovering facts, but our purpose was not to assign blame to individuals for 9/11.

I can imagine the outrage if a state prosecutor announced that the purpose of an investigation into an unsolved inner city murder was not to point fingers or assign blame. But this investigation was different. The people responsible for preventing terrorist attacks on the United States were in general highly educated and wealthy government officials certainly not the type of persons deserving of having fingers pointed at them, notwithstanding the need for producing a report that made clear what went wrong and why.

In line with the intended cordiality of their investigation, the authors provide extensive discussions on how they decided that they would issue subpoenas only in extraordinary circumstances. And this is followed later by an explanation as to why they decided NOT to issue subpoenas to the White House. Major considerations in making that decision were that issuing subpoenas to the White House would have led half the country to question our motives, and We were investigating a national catastrophe, not a White House transgression. In other words it was decided before the investigation even began that the White House was not guilty of any transgressions.

Prelude to an explanation as to how the U.S. military failed to intercept Flight 77

The authors explanation of this central event occurs in Chapter 12 of their fourteen chapter book. But prior to getting into the details of the main event they do some preparing of their readers.

In Chapter 4 the authors broach the fact that, despite their great reluctance to use their subpoena power they had to make an exception when it came to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). They dont go into much detail at that point, rather they simply make it clear that both the FAA and NORAD provided so much false information to the Commission that it became apparent to them that neither agency could be trusted to cooperate without the pressure of a subpoena. The importance of establishing the unreliability of the FAA and NORAD would become evident later in the book, when it became clear that the FAA and NORAD version of events suggested purposeful failure to prevent the attack on the Pentagon by Flight 77.

Throughout the book the authors make snide comments about conspiracy theorists. Then, right before their attempt to explain why our military failed to get a fighter plane up in the air to intercept Flight 77 they get real heavy with dark warnings about conspiracy theorists. They begin by harking back to the Kennedy assassination:

Many people have reasonable questions about how Lee Harvey Oswald could have acted alone in assassinating President Kennedy; a smaller subset of conspiracy theorists propagate outrageous notions: Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA or by some shadowy secret society of the rich and powerful

In other words, reasonable people may wonder about conspiracy theories, but its outrageous to think that the CIA or rich and powerful men might be involved in a dark conspiracy. I guess Kean and Hamilton think that assassinations of presidents are more likely to be carried out by crazy people acting alone than by the rich and powerful, and that its outrageous to think otherwise.

Getting back to the subject at hand, the authors continue:

September 11 has generated its own share of conspiracy theorists We often confronted questions about one conspiracy theory or another.

Then there were the more irrational theories. Did the U.S. government have foreknowledge of the attacks: Did the military issue a stand-down order on 9/11 to allow the attacks to take place? Did a missile hit the Pentagon instead of a plane?...

A brief time-line for the events involving Flight 77

In order to understand how the 9/11 Commission attempted to explain this most controversial issue we must first look at a general time line of the relevant events. The following is a brief time line taken right from the 9/11 Commission Report itself, with one very important exception, which is posted in blue for emphasis:

8:20 Flight 77 leaves Dulles Airport in Washington D.C., headed West.
8:54 Plane goes off flight plan
8:56 Transponder is turned off, and flight is then lost FAA controllers
8:56 to 9:32 Plane traveled undetected for 36 minutes on a course heading due east, for Washington, D.C.
9:24 NORAD is notified by FAA of the missing plane (According to FAA the notification occurred earlier).
9:24 NORAD gives order to scramble fighter jets for Langley AFB.
9:30 Fighter jets from Langley become airborne.
9:37 Pentagon is struck.

The one controversial part of this time line is crucial to an understanding of the whole controversy. If the notification of NORAD by the FAA really did occur at 9:24, as NORAD claimed in a press release on September 18th, and as they testified to at the 9/11 hearings twenty months later, then the question arises as to why NORAD didnt immediately give an order to scramble planes to intercept Flight 77 (Yes, I know, it appears from the above time line that that is exactly what happened), since there was still plenty of time to do so. Indeed, since standard operating procedure would require that action, and since that would be the course of action expected of a military intent on preventing an attack on its capital city, the failure of the U.S. military to intercept Flight 77 is the major reason why many people believe that a stand down order was given by the U.S. military to prevent such an action, and why those people therefore believe that the U.S. military was complicit in the attacks.

Kean and Hamiltons explanation

Here is what Kean and Hamilton have to say about this in their book:

Yet our staff determined that there was no notification to NORAD that American 77 was a hijacking before the crash time at 9:37; instead, at 9:34, there was notification that American 77 was lost .

These inaccurate notification times explained in part the militarys puzzling account of its own actions on 9/11 At 9:24, NORAD scrambled air force jets from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, directing them to fly east over the Atlantic Ocean NORAD claimed that the Langley jets were scrambled in pursuit of United 93 and American 77. Yet that was impossible. At 9:24, NORAD had not yet been notified that American 77 had been hijacked

So why were air force jets scrambled from Langley at 9:24? Our staff found that the people at NEADS had been told that American 11 had turned and was headed south toward Washington, when in fact American 11 had already crashed into the World Trade Center. The air force jets from Langley were thus pursuing a phantom aircraft American 11, not United 93 or American 77.

Get it? In order to explain why NORAD gave an order to scramble jets from Langley at 9:24 (immediately after being notified of the missing Flight 77, according to NORAD) and why planes were up in the air by 9:30, and yet made no attempt intercept Flight 77, Kean and Hamilton claim that NORAD was responding NOT to notification of Flight 77 heading to Washington from the west, but rather to a phantom plane coming from the north. And furthermore, to make the point that those planes were nowhere in the vicinity by the time that Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:37, they claim that NORAD mistakenly ordered the planes to fly east over the Atlantic Ocean.

Several problems with Kean and Hamiltons account

In order assess the accuracy of Kean and Hamiltons account, as described above, one should consider all of the following:

1) First, believing the Kean/Hamilton account requires us to believe that the FAA personnel were so incompetent on that day that they couldnt follow standard operating procedures. The 9/11 Commission says that the FAA first noted Flight 77 going off course at 8:54 (8:46 according to the FAA) and the transponder going off at 8:56. That should have given our military all the time in the world to protect our capital had the FAA notified them.

2) There is a memo from an FAA employee, Laura Brown, to the 9/11 Commission, which states that a phone bridge was established between NORAD and FAA within minutes of the first strike, and that the FAA shared information continuously with NORAD about all flights of interest during this teleconference, including Flight 77.

3) Richard Clarke describes another teleconference which included the White House and the FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, also initiated long before 9:24. (The 9/11 Commission report claimed (based on logs) that Clarkes teleconference didnt begin until after Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, but Clarkes account is so clear on this matter that he would have had to have been lying if the 9/11 Commission claim is correct.)

4) As noted above, NORADs claim that they were notified of Flight 77 at 9:24 was initially made in a press release, and then repeated in testimony before the 9/11 Commission. Furthermore, as Kean and Hamilton note in their book, even after the 9/11 Commission issued their revised time lines NORAD officials insisted that their original timelines had been correct. Why would NORAD officials be insistent on this point if it werent true (or if they had been notified even earlier, as maintained by FAA), given that the later time takes them off the hook for their inaction? If FAAs version of an earlier notification is correct it makes sense that NORAD might want to claim a later notification. But why claim an earlier notification if they wanted to protect themselves?

5) But even if the FAA was totally negligent in its duty to warn NORAD of the hijacking of Flight 77, shouldnt the military have sent up fighter jets anyhow, given that they knew that our country was under attack for almost an hour before the Pentagon was hit?

6) And even if they didnt get a plane up in the air long before they did, shouldnt they have been watching closely and have been able to track Flight 77 heading for Washington D.C. (IF indeed that flight did head for Washington D.C.) long before it hit the Pentagon at 9:37?

7) It seems incredible that, of the four hijacked flights on September 11th, the only one which elicited a timely scramble order was a phantom plane (Flight 11, which had already crashed into the World Trade Center building in New York, according to the 9/11 Commission.)

8) It also seems incredible that the FAA mistakenly would have ordered the pilots from Langley AFB to fly east over the Atlantic Ocean, whether they were responding to Flight 77 coming from the west or Flight 11 coming from the north.

9) Supporting evidence for the theory that orders were given to prohibit any military response to Flight 77 comes from testimony before the 9/11 Commission of Norman Minetta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, regarding a meeting he was having with Dick Cheney shortly before the Pentagon was hit. Here is Minetas account:

During the time that the airplane was coming in to the Pentagon, there was a young man who would come in and say 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?


Kean and Hamilton devote much discussion to warning about conspiracy theories, at times blaming the abundance of conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 on inaccurate information put out by the FAA and NORAD, and at other times blaming it on psychological weaknesses of unbalanced individuals. Thus, they imply that one important reason for writing their book is to address that problem:

We established core principles for our inquiry in part to avoid the kinds of conspiracy theorizing that have followed in the wake of other inquiries. So we decided to be open and transparent so that people could see how we reached our conclusions about 9/11. If, in the course of our inquiry, we could address or knock down a particular conspiracy theory, we did so.

Therefore, one would suppose that they would have tried to address the issues raised by perhaps the best known and well regarded of the so-called conspiracy theorists, David Ray Griffin, in his book, The 9/11 Commission Report, Omissions and Distortions. Griffin raised all the issues that I have raised in this post, and more, in considerably more detail than I have. And yet, Kean and Hamiltons book not only fails to answer any of Griffins points regarding Flight 77, but they dont even acknowledge them.

Thus, far from clarifying or strengthening the 9/11 Commissions claims regarding Flight 77, it seems to me that Without Precedent emphasizes the weaknesses of its claims.

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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 09:44 PM
Response to Original message
1. Your post seems very thorough.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 04:53 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. Thank you - I think it's safe to say that there were many holes in the
9/11 Commission's report, and this book does little to repair them.
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Cessna Invesco Palin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 09:52 PM
Response to Original message
2. Hmm...
The mind boggles. How could the most expensive, powerful, and technologically advanced progressive discussion forum that the internet has ever known fail to prevent this post from escaping the 9/11 forum, despite what appeared to be plenty of time to prevent it?
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Dystopian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 10:08 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. stand down?
This is the first time I've been bad here. Being human, it had to happen sooner or later.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. This is a discussion of a recently released book
I've seen lots of posts of that sort about 9-11 stay on GD.
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 05:07 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. some folks just want control
I guess it makes them feel important
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 05:00 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. Excuse me
This is a discussion about Without Precedent would you kindly stop trying to make it something else.

Talk about escaping from the 9/11 forum :shrug:
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mhatrw Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. If only the likes of you had been protecting the US on 9/11
rather than protecting us from discussion of 9/11.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 05:01 AM
Response to Original message
7. Nominated.
Well done.
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mhatrw Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 02:55 PM
Response to Original message
9. Please extend this great analysis to Flight 93.
Encore! Encore!
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Thank you very much -- I'll consider your request to extend this to Fl. 93
I have been much more interested in Flight 77, since in my opinion that issue is the most important of all in suggesting the likelihood of LIHOP or MIHOP (I can say it now, since this post has been sent to the dungeon). Flight 93 is also very important of course, though I have studied it much less than Flight 77. I was particularly intrigued by the part in the documentary "Loose Change", which you've probably seen, where it is maintained that Flight 93 landed safely in Cleveland, with all its passengers on board. Of course, in order to believe that you have to have an extremely dark view of our government (which I do). My inclination upon hearing of that and seeing the film was to believe it, though as I said, I haven't studied it sufficiently to offer a valid independent opinion on it.

So, that would take quite a bit of work to do the same thing with Flight 93 that I did with Flight 77 in this post. I would be more likely to do it if I could post it in GD, since that would mean that about a hundred times as many people would see it as would be the case if I posted it in this forum. But for obvious reasons I don't feel that I should post it in GD.

I understand why the DU administration wants to keep extensive discussion about MIHOP and LIHOP to a low profile, as they need to ensure that DU remains credible in the eyes of as many U.S. citizens as possible. But I wonder if the moderator who transferred this post made a mistake in doing so.
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Nozebro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. How do you justify "LIHOP" as a plausible explanation? In your research

of FL 77, I assume that you began by seeking to establish whether or not there was such a flight scheduled for 9/11, whether or not there is any official record of such a flight taking off from Dulles on 9/11, if so at what time, etc..

What did you learn from your research about the above?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. How do I justify LIHOP?
Actually, I believe that MIHOP is a more plausible explanation than LIHOP.

But the main reason that I believe in one or the other is that the official explanation makes no sense to me. In the first place, the mere fact that there was no attempt to intercept Flight 77 is extremely suspicious IMO. Then there are all the problems with the official story, as discussed in my OP.

With regard to the issue of whether or not a flight was scheduled or if there is an official record of such a flight, I never thought of attempting to verify that because of everything I have read on the subject I have never heard anyone challenge whether such a flight was scheduled -- so I just accepted that as fact. Whether the flight was scheduled or not does not detract from LIHOP or MIHOP as a possibility IMO. But if the flight wasn't scheduled I guess that would make it even more suspicious.
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Nozebro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 02:01 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. The point is: LIHOP is an impossibility. And yes, if FL 77 was NOT

a scheduled flight on 9/11, that would be more suspicious. In fact, a LOT more suspicious. So much so, it would be even more proof that 9/11 was an act of State-Sponsored Terrorism, falsely blamed on OBL and the mythical group aka "al Qaeda".
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 08:26 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. I agree that MIHOP is more likely than LIHOP but
why do you say that LIHOP is an impossibility?
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FoxOnTheRun Donating Member (829 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. to let something happen is to make something happen
Edited on Tue Sep-26-06 09:54 PM by FoxOnTheRun
The problem people have, is to accept that Al-Qaeda is an intelligence controlled organization which takes the blame.

The 15 war games taking place on 911 are not a coincidence and even if Al Qaeda existed as an independent organization they couldn't have scheduled the war games on this day.
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Nozebro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 10:02 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. LIHOP is an impossibility because by knowingly not taking action to

prevent it from happening, is itself participating in the act. If a bank is being robbed and the security guard doesn't do anything to stop it, the security guard is as guilty as the person taking the bag of money out the front door. The security guard participated in the crime.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 08:24 PM
Response to Reply #17
20. Dupe - self delete
Edited on Tue Sep-26-06 08:25 PM by Time for change
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FoxOnTheRun Donating Member (829 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
12. mineta on cspan
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 01:18 PM
Response to Reply #12
18. Hamilton is such a jerk
I'd like to see him try to explain Mineta's testimony.

He claims both in the 9/11 Commission report and in his book that NORAD knew nothing about Flight 77 until three minutes before it hit the Pentagon. Yet he makes no attempt to reconcile that with Mineta's testimony (or numerous other things), and then he insults so-called "conspiracy theorists" for being suspicious about what happened.

And he tries to put words in Mineta's mouth repeatedly during his testimony, saying "Then there clearly was an order to shoot the plane down."
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mirandapriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 11:43 AM
Response to Original message
14. Quick! Don't let anyone see this!
They might get "ideas".
excellent work Time, we have been propelled back into the dark ages. There are no excuses after they knew that two planes had been hijacked whether they thought 77 was "lost " or hijacked. What a cover up and the fact that they are mentioning "conspiracy theories" is really scary, if they had no fear that they were true they would not feel the need to warn against them.
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Nozebro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. We can use history to safely predict how this will be used by OCT'ers.

In addition to the other Gov't propaganda "reports" that OCT MPs use to justify the unproven, they'll use the Hamilton/Keane findings the same way. Now, they'll have a NEW! and "IMPROVED" piece, and it's from two "pillars" of the establishment, so you KNOW it's not from someone whose work couldn't be formally cited here at DU.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 12:53 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Yes, that's the way I look at it
1. There is no excuse for not being prepared for an attack on D.C. after the two attacks on the WTCs. Nor have I ever seen an attempted explanation of this.

2. I find all the disparaging talk of "conspiracy theories" in Kean and Hamilton's book to be irritating, insincere, and insulting. It's like they're saying, "Hey, we're the authorities on this, and anyone who doesn't believe what we have to say is either stupid, insane, or treasonous".

And this isn't the first time Hamilton has done this either. He was the one who was in charge of the whitewash of the October Surprise (Where the Reagan/Bush campaign arranged with Iran not to release the hostages until after the election) investigation as well.
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