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9/11 Commission

Air Defense: The Changing Stories

Official accounts of the military's response to the attack on 9/11/01 -- or lack thereof -- has gone through at least three mutually contradictory versions, a fact that has remained virtually un-noticed by mainstream news organizations.

e x c e r p t
title: Thee Versions of the Official Story

Three Versions of the Official Story

Version 1: No Scrambles

In his confirmation hearing two days after the attack, General Myers, acting head of the Joint Cheifs of Staff on the day of the attack, said he thought that no interceptors were scrambled until after the Pentagon was attacked.

LEVIN: Was the Defense Department contacted by the FAA or the FBI or any other agency after the first two hijacked aircraft crashed into the World Trade Center, prior to the time that the Pentagon was hit?

MYERS: Sir, I don't know the answer to that question. I can get that for you, for the record.

LEVIN: Thank you. Did the Defense Department take -- or was the Defense Department asked to take action against any specific aircraft?

MYERS: Sir, we were . . .

LEVIN: And did you take action against -- for instance, there has been statements that the aircraft that crashed in Pennsylvania was shot down. Those stories continue to exist.

MYERS: Mr. Chairman, the armed forces did not shoot down any aircraft. When it became clear what the threat was, we did scramble fighter aircraft, AWACS, radar aircraft and tanker aircraft to begin to establish orbits in case other aircraft showed up in the FAA system that were hijacked. But we never actually had to use force.

LEVIN: Was that order that you just described given before or after the Pentagon was struck? Do you know?

MYERS: That order, to the best of my knowledge, was after the Pentagon was struck.


General Myers Confirmation Hearing 9/13/01

Version 2: NORAD's Timeline

On September 18, 2001 NORAD issued a press release containing a timeline which listed scramble times for fighters stationed at Otis and Langley bases.

The document, NORAD'S Response Times 9/18/01, contains the following description of times of events:

AA
Flight 11
UA
Flight 175
AA
Flight 77
UA
Flight 93
FAA notification of NEADS 08:40 08:43 09:24 N/A
Fighter Scramble Order 08:46 09:24 --
Fighters Airborne 08:52 09:30 --
Originating Base Otis ANGB
Falmouth, MA
Langley AFB
Hampton, VA
Fighter Distance /
Time to Impact Location
not airborne
153 miles
8 min /
71 miles
12 min /
105 miles
11 min /
100 miles

Version 3: The 9/11 Commission Report

AA
Flight 11
UA
Flight 175
phantom
Flight 11*
AA
Flight 77
UA
Flight 93
Notification of NEADS 08:38 09:15 -- 09:34 10:07
Fighters Scrambled 08:46 09:24
Fighters Airborne 08:53
Originating Base Otis, MA Langley, VA

*Phantom Flight 11 refers to the Commission's assertion that the F-16s scrambled from Langley were sent up, not to intercept Flight 77, but to look for Flight 11, under the erroneous belief that it had bypassed New York City and was headed for the capital.


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