5. Lingering Questions

The official story remains so absolutely riddled with omissions, contradictions, and quite outrageous coincidences that I must restrict myself to outlining and summarising only a sample of the most troubling of these lingering questions:

i) What happened to America’s air defences on the morning of September 11th? It is a statutory procedure that once an aircraft has wandered off its flight-path, fighter planes must be sent up to investigate. This is a common occurrence and interceptors are stationed and ready to intercept such flights within a few minutes. So why weren’t any of the flights intercepted?

The official explanation is bad luck and incompetence, but this does little to explain how Flight 77 apparently crashed into the Pentagon over fifty minutes after it was first commandeered. Just how could a commercial airliner, flown by an amateur pilot, have so successfully evaded all attempts at interception, and collided into what one might reasonably presume to be the world’s most well defended buildings around an hour later? Surely that’s more than enough time for the entire US defences to thwart such a plan.

It would be perfectly justifiable to draw the line right there. To say this is too much already – that it is simply impossible – and that only a “stand down” order could have prevented any such attempted attack from being instantly shot out of the sky – but then if we scratch a little deeper another truth begins to reveal itself. Because it turns out that on the morning of September 11th, the US military was engaged in a number of war-game activities – and although only one, Vigilant Guardian, is included in the 9/11 Commission report, there is actually evidence of multiple war-game exercises. It was these, many believe, that hampered and delayed the response.

You may recall the desperate air-traffic controller asking “Is this real world or exercise?” A full transcript of this dramatic conversation is laid out on page twenty of the 9/11 Commission report.1 But for an actual reference to the on-going war game exercise that was causing such terrible confusion in the first place, we need also to follow to a footnote. It reads:

“On 9/11, NORAD [the North American Aerospace Defense Command] was scheduled to conduct a military exercise, Vigilant Guardian, which postulated a bomber attack from the former Soviet Union. We investigated whether military preparations for the large-scale exercise compromised the military’s response to the real-world terrorist attack on 9/11. According to General Eberhart, “it took about 30 seconds” to make the adjustment to the real-world situation. Ralph Eberhart testimony, June 17, 2004. We found that the response was, if anything, expedited by the increased number of staff at the sectors and at NORAD because of the scheduled exercise.”2

So what do we learn from this – aside from the fact that the Cold War is presumably on-going. Well the question is, had US air defences been compromised in some important way by this “large-scale” war-game exercise? And the given answer – no, no, not in the least, quite the opposite in fact: the exercise purportedly having “expedited” the normal military response! – and yet this purported enhancement to US air-defence response wasn’t finally incapable of protecting the Pentagon against the nose-dive of a relatively slow moving and unarmed passenger plane.

ii) What has happened to so much of the physical evidence? Where, for instance, are the security camera images showing the passengers and hijackers boarding the doomed flights? The pictures we have been shown only involve their arrival of two of the hijackers meeting a connecting flight. But then why weren’t the hijacker’s names recorded on the flight lists? Whilst regarding the disappearance of more solid objects, and aside from the surprising lack of wreckage of the planes themselves (especially around the crash site in Shanksville), what became of almost all of the flight-box recorders? At the World Trade Center it seems that everything was more or less crushed out of existence, with not a single one of the four flight box recordings having been recovered. But then there’s the passport which somehow floated away unscathed. Entire fuselages are missing and yet significant pieces of clothing and paper documents kept on handily turning up. The disappearance or else sudden emergence of so much of the material evidence being altogether too miraculous.

iii) Perhaps most importantly of all, what are the actual links remain between the US intelligence and Al Qaeda? And what are we to make of the $100,000 wired to Mohammed Atta by the Pakistani secret service ISI. This especially surprising given that the head of ISI was actually on a visit to Washington during the time of the attacks. On the morning of September 11th the ISI chief, Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad, was having breakfast with senator Bob Graham and the soon-to-be crowned as first Director of the Central Intelligence Agency3, Porter Goss. But odder again, the FBI has still never claimed that Osama Bin Laden had any links to the September 11th attacks – though he has, of course, been asked to help with some of their other inquiries4.

iv) The behaviour of George Bush at the Booker Elementary School in Sarasota is also surprising. Arriving at the school, he is aware of the first plane crash into the World Trade Center, but apparently believes it be an accident. Then a whisper into his shell-like informs him that another plane has hit the second tower. So America is obviously under attack and presumably he could be next. His response? To continue reading that story about the pet goat. But then Bush is an incompetent buffoon, right? So he’s acting like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Okay then fine.

But what of the security service who were there to protect him – shouldn’t they have taken executive action? Well, the fog of war had descended, and so everyone was panicked and confused. However, the story suddenly gets stranger again when three months after the attack, Bush himself decides to describe his own part in the events, and it goes like this:

“I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in and I saw an aeroplane hit the tower. You know the TV was obviously on and I used to fly myself – I said: “There’s one terrible pilot” and I said it must have been a horrible accident. But I was whisked off then and didn’t have much time to think about it.”5

Isn’t that interesting, because what he says is perfectly impossible. There was no TV footage of the first plane hitting the tower. What we’ve all watched is a video of the impact (captured by French film-makers the Naudet brothers who, by coincidence, happened to be making a film about the NYFD) that wasn’t made available until the following day. So what’s going on here? Did Bush really have privileged access to a secret transmission, or was he just getting his facts mixed up as usual? Can’t he even accurately remember what he was doing on the morning of September 11th 2001?

Now Bush obviously has a natural advantage here. How so? Because he’s a well-known moron. A man who once said, and with no less conviction than any of his other banal utterances: “I know that human beings and fish can co-exist peacefully.” In a saner world, the voting public would have sat up and taken notice. Here’s a man so disconnected from his own mind, they would have said, that he mouths gibberish beyond all comprehending. So why be suspicious then? I mean why would anyone want to bother Bush with a secret transmission, especially when he’s already got that pet goat to be worrying about? But such questions are not mine to answer.

When the time comes, with enough people demanding that the 9/11 investigation simply has to be re-opened, it will be for Bush to be cross-examined on those remarks and on his conduct more generally that day. Taking the stand alone and without Cheney’s shoulder to lean on, having actually sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth: an oath we can surely expect such a devout Christian to honour. His testimony may or may not prove insightful. Whatever the outcome I’m sure he’ll welcome the opportunity to get a few things off his chest, and to finally dispel any lingering suspicions.

1FAA: Hi. Boston Centre TMU [Traffic Management Unit], we have a problem here. We have a hijacked aircraft headed towards New York, and we need you guys to, we need someone to scramble some F-16s or something up there, help us out.

NEADS: Is this real-world or exercise?

FAA: No, this is not an exercise, not a test.

2 Footnote 116 on the Kean-Hamilton 9/11 commission report, which refers to Robert Marr interview (Jan. 23, 2004).

3On the morning of Sept. 11, Goss and Graham were having breakfast with a Pakistani general named Mahmud Ahmed — the soon-to-be-sacked head of Pakistan’s intelligence service. Ahmed ran a spy agency notoriously close to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.” From and article entitled “A Cloak But No Dagger” written by Richard Leiby, published in the Washington Post on May 18, 2002. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A36091-2002May17?language=printer

Porter Johnston Goss was the last Director of Central Intelligence and the first Director of the Central Intelligence Agency following the passage of the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which abolished the DCI position.

4“Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is a longtime and prominent member of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list, which notes his role as the suspected mastermind of the deadly U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa on Aug. 7, 1998. But another more infamous date — Sept. 11, 2001 — is nowhere to be found on the same FBI notice. The curious omission underscores the Justice Department’s decision, so far, to not seek formal criminal charges against bin Laden for approving al-Qaeda’s most notorious and successful terrorist attack. Extract from article by Dan Eggen published in theWashington Post, Monday, August 28, 2006; Page A13. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/27/AR2006082700687.html

5George W. Bush speaking at the Orange County Convention Centre in Orlando, Florida on December 4th 2001 (transcribed by the author).


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