UQ Wire: Sen. Dayton's "NORAD Lied" Transcript
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Senator Dayton's "NORAD Lied" Transcript
Friday, July 29, 2004
Senate Government Affairs Committee Hearing on the 9/11 Commission Report -- Senator Dayton (D-MN) Statement
During those entire 109 minutes to my reading of this report this country and its citizens were completely undefended.
...but what I find much more shocking and alarming were the repeated and catastrophic failures of the leaders of the leaders in charge, and the other people responsible, to do their jobs. To follow established procedures. To follow direct orders from civilian and military commanders. And then they failed to tell us the truth later.
And this was not an occasional human or failure. This is nothing but human error and failure to follow established procedures and to use common sense.
They lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 Commission to create a false impression of competence, communication, coordination and protection of the American people.
Thank you Madame Chairman, and I , I also want to commend you for holding this hearing in quick response to the 9/11 Commission’s Report. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Co-chairman, I want to say again to you that we are all indebted to you, to the other eight members of the Commission and the staff for this critically important work that you have provided the nation.
It is a profoundly disturbing report because it chronicles in excruciating detail the terrible attack against our homeland, the despicable murder of so many American citizens and the horrible destruction to countless other lives and liberties throughout this nation.
And because of the utter failure to defend them by their federal government, by their leaders, and the institutions that were entrusted to do so and because of serious discrepancies between the facts that you’ve set forth and what was told to the American people, to members of Congress, and to your own Commission by those, some of those authorities.
There’s way too much to cover here but I will begin.
According to your report the first of the four airliner hijackings occurred on September 11th at 8:14 Eastern time. At 10:03 AM, almost two hours later, an hour and forty-nine minutes to be exact, the fourth and last plane crashed before reaching its intended target, the U.S. Capitol, because of the incredible heroism of its passengers, including Minnesota native Thomas Burnett Jr.. During those entire 109 minutes to my reading of this report this country and its citizens were completely undefended.
Yes, it was a surprise attack. It was unprecedented. Yes, it exposed serious flaws and as you noted our imagination, our policies, capabilities and our management designs but what I find much more shocking and alarming were the repeated and catastrophic failures of the leaders of the leaders in charge, and the other people responsible, to do their jobs. To follow established procedures. To follow direct orders from civilian and military commanders. And then they failed to tell us the truth later.
It doesn’t matter whether they were Republicans, Democrats or neither, it matters what they did or did not do. According to your findings, FAA authorities failed to the inform military command, NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, about three of the four hijackings until after the planes had crashed into their targets at the second World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the ground in Pennsylv…in Pennsylvania which was not their target.
The direct FAA notification of the military regarding the first plane twenty-three minutes after it was hijacked and only nine minutes before it struck the first World Trade Tower.
NORAD then scrambled one of only two sets of fighter planes on alert in the entire eastern third of the country, one in Massachusetts and one in Virginia but it didn’t know where to send them; because the hijackers has turned off the plane’s transponder so NORAD couldn’t locate them on their radar and they still looking for it when it exploded into its target at 8:46AM.
The second hijacking began, according to your report, one minute later. NORAD wasn’t notified until the same minute the same plane struck the second World Trade tower. It was five more minutes before NORAD’s mission commander learned about that explosion; which was five minutes after thousands [probably millions] of Americans saw it on live television. By this time the third plane’s transponder was off; communication had been severed, yet it was fifteen minutes before the flight controller decided to notify the regional FAA center which in turn did not inform FAA headquarters for another fifteen minutes.
So at that point 9:25 AM FAA’s National Command Center knew that there were two hijacked planes that had crashed into the two World Trade Centers and a third plane had stopped communicating and disappeared from its primary radar yet no one in FAA headquarters asked for military assistance with that plane either. NORAD was unaware that the plane had even been hijacked until after it crashed into the Pentagon at 9:34.
This is just unbelievable negligence. It doesn't matter if we spend $550 billion annually on our national defense, if we reorganize our intelligence or if we restructure congressional oversight if people don't pick up the phone to call one another. If we’re not told if somebody needs a new radar system and doesn’t stall it when it’s provided. And this was not an occasional human or failure. This is nothing but human error and failure to follow established procedures and to use common sense.
Unfortunately, the chronicle is not over. The NORAD mission commander ordered his only three other planes on alert in Virginia to scramble and fly north to Baltimore. Minutes later when he was told that a plane was approaching Washington he learned that the planes were flying East over the Atlantic Ocean away from Baltimore and Washington so that when the third plane struck the Pentagon NORAD’s fighters were 150 miles away, farther than they were before they took off.
By then FAA’s Command Center had learned of the fourth hijacking and called FAA Headquarters specifically asking that they contact the military at 9:36AM and at 9:46AM the FAA Command Center updated FAA headquarters that United Flight 93 was “29 minutes out of Washington, D.C.” Three minutes later your document records this following conversation between the Command Center and FAA headquarters.
Command center - 'Uh, do we want to, uh, think about scrambling aircraft?' - FAA headquarters - 'Oh God, I don't know.' - Command center - 'Uh, that's a decision somebody's going to have to make probably in the next 10 minutes.' - FAA headquarters - 'Uh, yeah, you know, everybody just left the room."
At 10:03 United Flight 93 crashed into the Pennsylvania farm soil and nobody from the FAA headquarters had contacted the military. NORAD didn’t know that this fourth plane was hijacked until after it crashed 35 minutes later. The fighter planes that reached Washington seven minutes after that crash they were told by the Mission Commander, “negative clearance to shoot the aircraft” over the Nation’s Capitol. Yet one week, yet one week after 9/11, in response to initial reports that the military failed to defend our domestic airspace during the hijacks NORAD issued an official chronology that stated that the FAA notified NORAD of the second hijacking at 8:43, wrong, FAA notified NORAD of the third hijacking at 9:24, according to your report wrong, FAA notified NORAD of the fourth hijacking at an unspecified time and that prior to the crash in Pennsylvania Langley F-16 combat air patrol planes were in place, remaining in place, to protect Washington, D.C.. All untrue.
In public testimony before your 9/11 Commission in May of 2003 NORAD officials stated, I assume under oath, that at 9:16 they had received the hijack notification of United Flight 93 from the FAA. That hijacking did not occur until 9:28; there was a routine cockpit transmission recovered at 9:27.
And in that testimony before you NORAD officials stated also that at 9:24 they received notice of the hijacking of the third plane, American flight 77, also untrue according to your report; which states that NORAD was never notified that flight was hijacked.
NORAD officials testified that they scrambled the Langley, Virginia fighters to respond to those two hijackings yet taped recordings of both NORAD and FAA both reportedly documented that the order to scramble was a response to an inaccurate FAA report that American Flight 11 had not hit the first World Trade tower and was headed to Washington. That erroneous alert was transmitted by the FAA at 9:24AM, thirty-eight minutes after that airplane had exploded into the World Trade tower.
Yet NORAD’s public chronology of 9/18/01 and their Commission testimony 20 months later covered up those truths. They lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 Commission to create a false impression of competence, communication, coordination and protection of the American people.
And we can set up all the oversight possible at great additional cost to the American taxpayers and it won’t be worth an Enron pension if the people responsible lie to us; if they take the records and doctor them into falsehoods, and if they get away with it. For almost three years now NORAD officials and FAA officials have been able to hide their critical failures that left this country defenseless during two of the worst hours in our history.
And I believe that President Bush must call them, those responsible for those representations to account. [clapping in gallery] If the Commission’s accounts are correct, he should fire whoever at FAA, at NORAD or anywhere else who betrayed the public trust by not telling us the truth.
And then he should clear up a few discrepancies of his own.
Four months after September 11th on January 27th 2002, the Washington Post’s Dan Balls and Bob Woodward authored an insider’s retrospective on top administration officials’ actions on 9/11 and thereafter. They reported that very shortly after the Pentagon was struck at 9:34 quote Pentagon officials ordered up the airborne command post used only in national emergencies; they sent up combat air patrol in the Washington area and a fighter escort for Air Force One. Secretary Rumsfeld was portrayed as “taking up his post at the National Military Command Center.” And all that reportedly occurred before 9:55AM. Right thereafter “Bush then talked to Rumsfeld to clarify the procedures military pilots should follow before firing on attack planes. With Bush’s approval Rumsfeld passed the order down the chain of command.”
This was supposedly taking place according to that article before the fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania at 10:03.
Looks very impressive. The President acting swiftly and decisively; giving orders to the Secretary of Defense and on down the chain of command, combat air patrol planes are patrolling Washington directed by an airborne command post all before 10:03AM; however, according to your commission, President Bush spoke to Secretary Rumsfeld for the first time that morning shortly after 10AM.
Based on White House notes and Ari Fliescher notes of the conversation the Commission’s report states that it was a brief call in which the subject of the shootdown authority was not discussed. The Commission then states that the Secretary of Defense did not join the NMCC’s [air threat] conference call until just before 10:30AM. The Secretary of Defense himself told the Commission he was just gaining situation awareness when he spoke with the Vice-President at 10:39AM. That transcript is on page 23, page 43.
My time is out but it reflects the Vice-President’s honest mistakenly belief that he had been given an order, after talking with the President, to shoot down any plane that would not divert, yet incredibly…the NORAD commander
Senator Collins (Chairwomen): The Senator’s time has expired.
Senator Dayton: I am just going to finish this if I may…yet incredibly the NORAD commander did not pass that order to the fighter planes because he was “unsure how the pilots would or should proceed with this guidance.” As you say Mr. Chairman, the situation is urgent but we don’t get protected in those circumstances but it’s even worse when it’s covered-up.
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