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The immediate response to the 9/11 attacks of dozens of the most senior U.S. Air Force officials at the Pentagon who were together in a meeting when the attacks began appears to have been far from what we might reasonably expect, considering the serious and unprecedented crisis the officials had to deal with and the Air Force's key role in responding to it. Evidence suggests that after the first plane crash at the World Trade Center was reported on television on September 11, 2001, there was a delay of over 10 minutes before the officials' meeting was interrupted and the officials were alerted to the incident. The subsequent response of the officials appears to have been slow and lacking urgency.
More than 350 people who were originally scheduled to be on the four airliners hijacked in the 9/11 attacks either changed their plans and canceled their reservations--in many cases at the last minute--or simply failed to show up for the flights on the morning of September 11, 2001. While these individuals came from a variety of backgrounds, a remarkable number of them worked in, or had close connections to, Hollywood or other areas of the entertainment industry. Some of them were very well-known personalities.
For example, among the individuals who had reservations for American Airlines Flight 11--the first plane to be hijacked--were Seth Macfarlane, the creator of the cartoon Family Guy; actor Mark Wahlberg, the star of movies such as Boogie Nights and The Fighter; Bobby Farrelly, the writer and director of comedy movies such as Dumb & Dumber and There's Something About Mary; and Julia Child, the renowned chef and television personality. Sam Mendes, the director of American Beauty and the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, was originally scheduled to be on American Airlines Flight 77, the third plane to be hijacked. And Robert Redford, the world-famous actor and director, narrowly avoided being on United Airlines Flight 93, the fourth plane to be hijacked.
Interestingly, one man who was originally booked on Flight 77--Erik Nelson--was later the executive producer of a National Geographic Channel documentary that attempted to debunk claims of U.S. government involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
It is also perhaps notable that a fair number of people who were originally scheduled to be on the hijacked flights but canceled their reservations or failed to turn up for their flights worked in professional sport. These included major league baseball player Brad Thomas, ice hockey coach Bruce Boudreau, and legendary basketball coach John Thompson.
Summarized in this article are accounts found in books, news articles, FBI documents, websites, or Internet blogs, of these individuals who were originally booked on the flights hijacked on September 11, but canceled their reservations or simply failed to show up for their flights.
New 9/11 Timeline Entries: White House Staffers' Actions on 9/11, President Apparently in Danger, and More
From the History Commons Groups blog:
A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons. Most of these focus on the events of September 11, 2001, including the actions of White House personnel in response to the terrorist attacks that day, and a number of apparent threats to President Bush and his plane, Air Force One.
White House Officials Visited Emergency Bunker during Exercise
A new timeline entry describes a training exercise held shortly before 9/11 in which some senior White House staffers were shown to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a bunker below the White House where numerous government officials went on September 11. Following the first attack on September 11, Josh Bolten, the deputy White House chief of staff, was called by a former member of the Clinton administration who wanted to check that he was aware of the PEOC.
Bolten, according to his own recollection, alerted National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to the second crash at the World Trade Center after seeing coverage of it on television. Later on, he headed to the PEOC where he joined Vice President Dick Cheney and other government officials.
Also early on the morning of September 11, a sheriff in Sarasota, Florida, was surprised to find that when he contacted colleagues who were with President Bush's Secret Service detail, shortly after he saw the TV reports of the first crash at the WTC, those colleagues were unaware of what had happened in New York.
A significant number of apparent terrorist incidents occurred on September 11, 2001, in which President Bush or locations associated with him, like the White House and Camp David, seemed to be the target. And yet for all these incidents, the apparent threat was subsequently claimed to be unfounded, perhaps having come about due to a misunderstanding. A possibility that has remained unexamined, however, is that the incidents were in fact scenarios in training exercises taking place that day.
It seems reasonable to assume that if the incidents were indeed exercise scenarios, the Secret Service, as the agency responsible for protecting the president and the White House, would have been participating in them. Alarmingly, though, the times at which some of the incidents occurred indicates that if they were scenarios in training exercises, these exercises were not canceled in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but instead continued until well after the real-world crisis ended. If the Secret Service was indeed involved in exercises at the time of the 9/11 attacks, then, we surely need to consider what effect these exercises had on the agency's ability to respond to the attacks.
Below are descriptions of eight apparent terrorist incidents that occurred around the time of the 9/11 attacks, in which the president or a location associated with the president appeared to be the target. The first two incidents involved the president himself seeming to be the terrorists' target; the next three involved Air Force One, the president's plane, being the apparent target; and the final incidents involved the places where President Bush lived, such as the White House, being the apparent target.
History Commons, the website that hosts the Complete 9/11 Timeline, is currently low on funds and urgently needs donations in order to meet its operations costs and develop its activities. In particular, History Commons is currently working on a new version of its crowdsource journalism app that should make it easy for people to collaborate on investigative efforts
The Complete 9/11 Timeline is a unique resource, which contains a huge amount of information relating to the 9/11 attacks. It includes over a thousand entries detailing the day of September 11, 2001, alone. It has the most detailed accounts of the numerous training exercises taking place on September 11 and the relevant training exercises held in the years leading up to 9/11. It has sections devoted to the official investigations of 9/11, such as the 9/11 Commission and the various investigations of the World Trade Center collapses, as well as much more.
Recent updates have included entries covering important topics such as the phone calls made by flight attendants Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney from the hijacked Flight 11; the conflicting orders and announcements that were made, regarding whether people should evacuate the World Trade Center; the actions of Laura Bush, the wife of President Bush, on September 11; and the actions of the Secret Service agents responsible for protecting Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, on September 11.
It is important that History Commons has the necessary funds to continue. If you would like to make a donation (by credit card, PayPal, or check), click here.
New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Aborted Plan to Kill Bin Laden, Cheney & Family on 9/11, Secret Service Response to Attacks, and More
From the History Commons Groups blog:
A large number of new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, including many that reveal details about the events of September 11, 2001, and others that describe important events from the years preceding the 9/11 attacks.
Security Chief Predicted Attacks on the WTC
Several entries relate to the actions of Rick Rescorla, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's vice president for security at the World Trade Center, and his friend and former Army colleague Dan Hill. In 1990, the two men wrote a report that predicted a terrorist attack at the WTC closely resembling the 1993 bombing, involving a truck bomb in the underground garage. In the aftermath of the 1993 WTC bombing, Hill and Rescorla conducted an analysis of security and predicted that terrorists would attack the towers again, probably by crashing a plane into them. Rescorla consulted his friend Fred McBee, who, by using a flight simulator program on his computer, concluded that such a scenario was "very viable."
In 1998, Hill came up with a plan to go to Afghanistan and kill Osama bin Laden. In spring 2000, he met with an FBI agent to discuss the plan and request US military assistance. But a year later, after she consulted FBI headquarters, the agent informed Hill that his request had been rejected and so he had to drop his plan.
Some entries relate to training exercises held at the World Trade Center. In one drill, conducted in 1982, the Port Authority and other agencies actually practiced for the scenario of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers. In March 1993, during public hearings that examined the security aspects of the recent WTC bombing, Guy Tozzoli, a former director of the World Trade Department, said the Port Authority should again train for the possibility of a plane hitting the WTC, but his recommendation was ignored. However, in June 1999, September 2000, and summer 2001, the Port Authority and the New York City Fire Department held realistic exercises that simulated a major fire on an upper floor of the WTC.
The United States Secret Service--the law enforcement agency responsible for protecting the president and the White House--had a critical role to play in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Various accounts, however, reveal that it was inexplicably slow to react to the crisis that day. Secret Service agents only appear to have acted with the kind of urgency we might reasonably expect more than 45 minutes after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center and more than 30 minutes after the second plane crashed.
The Secret Service's slow response meant some high-level individuals the agency was responsible for protecting were allowed to remain at unsafe locations throughout much of the duration of the attacks, and so could have been killed or seriously injured if their locations had been targeted.
The Secret Service was also alarmingly slow to protect the White House--a building considered a likely target for terrorists--which meant the people there, including some key government officials, were left in danger throughout the attacks. It only ordered the evacuation of the White House about an hour after the attacks began.
In this article, as well as examining the Secret Service's apparent failure to adequately protect the White House on September 11, we will look at the experiences of three individuals--Vice President Dick Cheney, his wife, Lynne Cheney, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice--and consider how the Secret Service appears to have failed to sufficiently protect them.
From the History Commons Groups blog:
Many new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, covering a range of topics relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Contradictory Orders over Whether People Should Evacuate the WTC
Numerous entries examine the conflicting orders and announcements that were made, regarding whether people should evacuate or stay in the World Trade Center after the first plane hit the North Tower.
After the crash, George Tabeek, a WTC security manager, contacted the deputy fire safety directors in the Twin Towers with instructions to "evacuate the North Tower, but keep people inside the South Tower." But around the same time, some people in the North Tower heard an automated announcement advising them to stay in their offices.
The Agency, a major CBS drama series about the CIA that began being broadcast in late September 2001, featured storylines with remarkable similarities to the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax attacks that occurred in the U.S. shortly after them. One of the show's executive producers said the parallels were so apparent that "people are asking me, 'Are we showing the bad guys our script?'" because "it seems like they're kind of following, in some ways, things that we're doing."  Significantly, these storylines were written before September 11, and the show was made with extensive assistance from the CIA. Some of the show's storylines, including those resembling 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, were actually suggested to one of the writers by the CIA. 
Hollywood and 9/11: The Movies and TV Dramas Resembling the Terrorist Attacks That Were Being Produced in September 2001
"It represents capitalism. It represents freedom. It represents everything America is
about. And to bring those two buildings down would bring America to its knees."
- Line from Nosebleed, a movie originally set to start being
filmed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001
A significant number of movies and television dramas were being produced at the time of the 9/11 attacks, which had storylines with some remarkable similarities to the events of September 11, 2001. These storylines featured incidents such as terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, terrorists hijacking a commercial aircraft, and terrorists causing a jumbo jet to crash in New York.
The movies and TV shows would have featured some famous actors, and were being made for major companies, such as CBS and 20th Century Fox. Furthermore, employees of the military and other U.S. government agencies are known to have assisted in developing the storylines of some of these productions. Unsurprisingly, after September 11, the movies and TV shows were either canceled or significantly rewritten so as to remove any resemblance to the 9/11 attacks.
The existence of these movies and TV dramas, at the very least, disproves claims that the 9/11 attacks could not have been foreseen. It is worth considering, however, whether these productions served a more sinister purpose in relation to 9/11, albeit unknown to most of the people working on them.
"This crash was different. There was no wreckage, no bodies, and no noise."
- Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller 
"I was looking for anything that said tail, wing, plane, metal. There was nothing."
- Photographer Scott Spangler 
"I was amazed because it did not, in any way, shape, or form, look like a plane crash."
- Patrick Madigan, commander of the Somerset barracks
of the Pennsylvania State Police 
Many people who witnessed the site where United Airlines Flight 93 is supposed to have gone down on September 11, 2001, have said how little it resembled what they expected the scene of a plane crash to look like.
According to official accounts, Flight 93, the fourth plane to be hijacked on September 11, crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after its courageous passengers and crew members attempted to retake control of their plane. However, numerous individuals who spent time at the supposed crash site have described seeing almost nothing resembling wreckage from a plane there. Some witnesses have recalled seeing little or no human remains at the site. And although Flight 93 was reportedly "heavily laden with jet fuel" when it crashed, investigators found no contamination from jet fuel in the soil and ground water around the site.
There is a lot of suspicious evidence relating to the crash of Flight 93, which casts serious doubt on the official account of what happened. This evidence suggests that what witnesses saw might actually have been the result of an attempt to fake the scene of a plane crash in an appalling act of deception, rather than the site of a genuine crash. The relatively small amount of debris that some witnesses noticed could have been planted. If this is what happened, it would mean the fate of Flight 93 is still unknown.
New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Flight Attendants' Phone Calls, American Airlines Response to Hijacking, Bush's Military Aides & More
From the History Commons Groups blog:
A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons. Many of these examine the response of American Airlines to the hijacking of Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Entries focus, in particular, on phone calls made from Flight 11 by two of the plane's flight attendants: Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney.
A new timeline entry describes how Peggy Houck, a dispatcher at the American Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center in Texas, received her first indication of a problem with Flight 11 when another American Airlines flight contacted her at 8:20 a.m. and said air traffic controllers had asked it to try to contact Flight 11.
Betty Ong's Phone Call from Flight 11
'Don't Mention This to Anyone': Why Did American Airlines Suppress News of the First Hijacking on 9/11?
American Airlines employees who were dealing with phone calls made by two flight attendants on Flight 11--the first plane to be hijacked on September 11, 2001--were told by their superiors to keep quiet about what they had learned about the unfolding crisis. At a time when the airline should have been alerting as many people as possible to the serious incident that the flight attendants were describing, senior personnel were instead issuing instructions such as "Don't spread this around" and "I don't want this spread all over this office right now."
Furthermore, airline employees who were aware of the flight attendants' calls were remarkably slow to pass on what they knew to individuals and agencies that should have been alerted as a matter of urgency, such as the FBI, the FAA, and even American Airlines senior managers.
Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, was originally going to be at a public event near the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, but a late change to his plans meant the event was rescheduled and he was out of harm's way when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Romney is therefore one of a number of prominent individuals known to have avoided danger--and possible death--due to a change to, or a deviation from, their plans for September 11.
Romney was, at that time, the president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. He went to Washington, DC, on September 10 to talk to members of Congress about security at the Winter Olympics.  The final $12.7 million of federal money needed to cover security for the games had mistakenly been omitted from Congress's budget, and although the Olympics organizers were "confident" the error could be corrected, Romney went to Washington to make sure the money didn't "slip away," according to the Deseret News.  As well as meeting with members of Congress on September 10, Romney also met with FBI Director Robert Mueller that day. 
When the terrorist attacks began on September 11, 2001, numerous U.S. intelligence agencies and facilities that should have been closely following the catastrophic events taking place in the skies over America were unaware that anything was wrong. Because of their particular responsibilities and their advanced capabilities, agencies such as the FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) should have been among the first to learn the details of the crisis. But, instead, they were apparently in an information blackout, and their knowledge of the attacks was limited to what they could learn from television reports.
The fact that key intelligence agencies and facilities experienced this problem, and all at the same time, suggests that the information blackout may have been intentional--an act of sabotage committed by the perpetrators of the attacks. Such an act could have been intended to render these agencies and facilities useless when their services were urgently needed, thereby helping to ensure that the attacks were successful.