The wife of the U.S. president is considered one of the nation's "most visible targets," and is therefore provided with a detail of Secret Service agents whose job is to protect her and keep her out of harm's way. And yet on September 11, 2001, Laura Bush, the wife of then-President George W. Bush, was left vulnerable all through the terrorist attacks.
She was allowed to head to her scheduled destination¸ the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, even after a second plane hit the World Trade Center and it was obvious the U.S. was under attack. She was allowed to spend time there, even though her Secret Service agents should have taken her away to a "secure site." She even appeared live on CNN, thereby revealing her location to any terrorist who might be watching television. And when people were ordered to evacuate, due to reports that a suspicious plane was heading toward Capitol Hill, Bush remained in the Russell Office Building, even though this could have proved fatal had a plane crashed into it. She was only driven away to a "secure location" at 10:10 a.m., after the attacks had ended. And all this time, she was accompanied by her Secret Service detail.
The failure of those agents to properly protect Bush was extraordinary. Examination of their actions raises serious questions. We need to discover what caused these skilled professionals to repeatedly leave the first lady in serious danger.
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- Major James Fox, Northeast Air Defense Sector, September 11, 2001
Key military personnel who were responsible for protecting the U.S. against the 9/11 attacks may have been seriously hindered in their ability to respond because of a large-scale air defense exercise they were participating in when the attacks occurred. Evidence indicates that the personnel, whose responsibilities included ordering fighter jets into the air to intercept the hijacked planes, were unclear about what was "real-world" and what was "exercise." They may have been led to believe that the terrorist attacks were just simulated scenarios.
These individuals worked at the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, New York. Audio recordings of the operations floor at NEADS reveal staffers suggesting that the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001 could have been part of the exercise. They sometimes even made jokes and laughed about what was taking place, further indicating that they were mistaking actual events for exercise simulations. Even senior commanding officers have admitted wondering if the terrorist attacks were part of the exercise.
And while staffers sometimes apparently made clear that an event was unconnected to the exercise by referring to it as being "real-world," there is evidence that the term "real-world" may in fact be a way to describe live events played out within an exercise, perhaps involving real aircraft getting airborne, rather than just hypothetical scenarios.
Furthermore, NEADS personnel previously participated in exercises that included scenarios resembling the 9/11 attacks, such as plane hijackings and aircraft being crashed into skyscrapers in New York, and this could have increased the likelihood that they would mistake the events of September 11 for exercise simulations.
Although much remains speculative, the available evidence raises serious questions about whether the exercise at NEADS on September 11 was a deliberate tactic used to hinder skilled and dedicated professionals, thereby preventing them from stopping the terrorist attacks.
New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Fighters on Training Mission, Special Ops Exercise, Intercepts over the Atlantic, and More
From the History Commons Groups blog:
Entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, which, in particular, reveal new details about events from the day of September 11.
Several entries describe how a group of fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts were taking part in a training mission when the terrorist attacks began. Although the pilots of these jets had seen two other fighters taking off from their base in response to the hijacked Flight 11, they were unaware of the reason for the scramble. They therefore continued with their training mission--described as a "mock war scenario"--over the Atlantic Ocean.
The fighters were recalled to Otis Air Base after the base started preparing all of its fighters for takeoff. At least one of the pilots involved in the training mission soon took off again. Along with another pilot, his first task was to intercept a military cargo plane over the Atlantic. The two fighters were subsequently sent to New York, where they helped patrol the airspace over the city. Before returning to their base, they were directed to inspect a supposedly suspicious aircraft that turned out to be just a tanker plane that had been providing them with fuel.
Military personnel were also concerned about a convoy of aircraft approaching America across the Atlantic, which repeatedly failed to respond to radio communications. But when fighters intercepted the convoy, they found it was just some military planes coming back from Europe.
Thomas McGuinness, the co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11 before it became the first plane to be hijacked in the 9/11 attacks, only assigned himself to be on the flight the afternoon before September 11, 2001, and pushed from it the original co-pilot, who had put his name down for the flight less than half an hour earlier. This new information means that, curiously, half of the pilots and co-pilots originally at the controls of the four aircraft involved in the attacks are now known to have been assigned to the doomed flights at the last minute, very shortly before September 11. Additionally, more than half of the flight attendants and many of the passengers are known to have, similarly, not originally been booked onto those flights.
The details of McGuinness's late assignment to Flight 11 were revealed recently by Steve Scheibner, who was originally going to be the plane's co-pilot. In a short film released on the Internet just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Scheibner described how McGuinness came to replace him on Flight 11 and thereby saved his life.
FLIGHT 11 HAD 'NO PILOT ASSIGNED TO IT YET'
At the time of the 9/11 attacks, Scheibner was a fundamentalist Baptist pastor and a commander in the Naval Reserves, but he also worked part-time as an on-call pilot for American Airlines.  He had been available to fly on September 11. "So at about three o'clock in the afternoon of September 10," Scheibner recalled, "I sat down at the computer and I logged in like I normally do, to check to see if there was any unassigned flying for the next day. And sure enough there was one trip that was available on September 11. It was American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston's Logan Airport to Los Angeles." Scheibner looked at the flight and could see that "there was no pilot assigned to it yet."
New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Nuclear War Exercise on 9/11, NORAD Commanders' Delayed Response to Attacks, and More
From the History Commons Groups blog:
Numerous new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, many of which deal with the US military's actions around the time of--and in response to--the 9/11 attacks, while other new entries provide important information about the military's responses to suspicious aircraft prior to 9/11.
New timeline entries describe how NORAD--the military organization responsible for defending US airspace--regularly launched fighter jets in response to suspicious aircraft in the years before 9/11, with fighters able to take off within minutes of a scramble order.
While September 11, 2001 is well known as the day when the U.S. suffered its worst terrorist attack, what is little known is that it was also a day when large sections of the armed forces around the nation had been preparing to fight a simulated nuclear war, as part of major training exercises being conducted at the time. In their annual exercises "Vigilant Guardian" and "Global Guardian," the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the United States Strategic Command (Stratcom) were scheduled to carry out what has been described as a "simulated air war," a "full-blown nuclear war" exercise, a "fictional nuclear war," and a "practice Armageddon."
No official attempts have been made to fully investigate these exercises and what effect they had on the military's response to the 9/11 attacks. But evidence indicates they caused at least some confusion over what was "real-world" and what was simulation, and they may also have been a factor behind the communication problems experienced by military personnel that day. Other evidence suggests that some actions that have been presented as reactions to the terrorist attacks may actually have been related to these exercises--actions such as raising the alert status of American armed services to Defcon 3 and closing the huge "blast doors" to NORAD's operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. There is also evidence that other "practice Armageddon" exercises were being conducted at the time of the 9/11 attacks, but details of these are unknown.
AMERICA'S AIR DEFENDERS WERE SET TO FIGHT A 'SIMULATED AIR WAR' ON SEPTEMBER 11
Perhaps the most important exercise to consider is NORAD's exercise called "Vigilant Guardian." Close examination of this exercise is imperative due to the crucial role NORAD had to play in responding to the 9/11 attacks.
From the History Commons Groups blog:
A large number of new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons describing important events that took place on the day of 9/11, while other new entries add to the growing body of information about 9/11-related training exercises.
One new entry describes how, from 1998, the US Secret Service included computer simulations of planes crashing into the White House in its training exercises. Another notable exercise was held early on the morning of September 11 in the White House Situation Room, based on the scenario of a terrorist bombing in the Middle East.
Despite claims by the U.S. government that the events of 9/11 were unexpected, from 1998 the Secret Service was "crashing planes into the White House ... on a simulation program provided by the military" during training exercises, according to a retired Secret Service agent who had been involved with running those simulations. When this individual and his Secret Service colleagues learned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, one of those colleagues pointed to him and commented, "You know all about that." 
The existence of these plane crash simulations was revealed by Paul Nenninger, who worked for the Secret Service for 26 years, in a chapter he wrote for a book published in 2005. In 1997, Nenninger had been assigned to the Secret Service's James J. Rowley Training Center, just outside Washington, DC, in Beltsville, Maryland, where he served as program manager in charge of the Security and Incident Modeling Lab (SIMLAB). 
A thriller novel published in February 2000 predicted the possibility of a commercial aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center in a terrorist attack, and described other scenarios closely resembling aspects of the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, the similarity between these scenarios and events in the United States 19 months after the book's release suggests that someone--perhaps an individual working in the U.S. military or intelligence community--might have had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks and passed on some of what they knew to the book's author as storyline ideas, maybe as an attempt at warning people of the impending catastrophe.
The novel, Blackout, was written by New York Times best-selling author John J. Nance, who is "arguably the king of the modern-day aviation thriller," according to Publishers Weekly.  The book's plot revolves around the two main characters, Washington Post reporter Robert MacCabe and FBI agent Kat Bronsky, investigating what has caused two American jumbo jets to crash. It appears that terrorists are using a special ray gun stolen from the government to blind or kill pilots in flight, thereby leading to their planes crashing. 
TERRORISTS COULD CAUSE A PLANE TO CRASH INTO THE WTC
At one point in the story, Bronsky describes a scenario chillingly similar to what happened in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when two Boeing 767s were crashed into the World Trade Center. She is explaining to MacCabe her fear that the terrorists will cause another plane crash. She says: "They're going to shoot down another airliner somewhere. You know that, don't you?" She continues: "So who's next? Are we going to get a seven-forty-seven impacting the World Trade Center in New York because the two pilots were neutralized on takeoff from Newark [Airport] or Kennedy [Airport]?" 
What is more, one of the terrorists responsible for causing the plane crashes in Blackout is called "Ben Laren"--a name similar to that of (Osama) bin Laden, who, according to the official story, ordered the 9/11 attacks. 
From the History Commons Groups blog:
Many new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, most of them describing events that took place on the day of 9/11.
Two important entries deal with events before 9/11, specifically regarding military training exercises. One entry reveals that prior to 9/11, NORAD practiced for hijackings five times per month at its operations center in Colorado. The other entry describes how, in the days before 9/11, the Army had been planning an exercise for the week after 9/11, based, remarkably, on the scenario of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.
- Boeing 767 pilot quoted in the Boston Globe
"The conspiracy apparently did not include a surplus of skilled pilots."
- The Washington Post
In the days after 9/11, numerous pilots and aviation experts commented on the elaborate maneuvers performed by the aircraft in the terrorist attacks, and the advanced skills that would have been necessary to navigate those aircraft into their targets. The men flying the planes must have been "highly skilled pilots" and "extremely knowledgeable and capable aviators," who were "probably military trained," these experts said.
And yet the four alleged hijackers who were supposedly flying the aircraft were amateur pilots, who had learned to fly in small propeller planes, and were described by their instructors as having had only "average" or even "very poor" piloting skills. But on their first attempt at flying jet aircraft, on September 11, 2001, these men were supposedly able to fly Boeing 757s and 767s at altitudes of tens of thousands of feet, without any assistance from air traffic control. Three of them were apparently able to successfully navigate their planes all the way to the intended targets, which they hit with pinpoint accuracy.
For such poor pilots to carry out such skilled flying would surely have been extremely unlikely, perhaps impossible. And yet this is what is claimed in the official account of 9/11.
Here is a short video by the German freelance journalist and author Paul Schreyer, based on his new book Inside 9/11, which "contains a short summary of the publicly available--but still widely unnoticed--evidence for a supposed attempt to obstruct the air defense on September 11th, 2001." The video focuses in particular on the actions of Colonel Robert Marr, the battle commander at NEADS on September 11, 2001.
Hopefully an English translation of Schreyer's book will be published at some point.
More information about Paul Schreyer and his new book is here:
A mysterious helicopter was seen flying near the Pentagon in the minutes before the attack there on September 11, 2001. Several witnesses have described seeing the helicopter, which circled the Pentagon and then apparently landed for a brief period on the helipad, near where the building was subsequently hit. It then flew off very shortly before the attack took place. And yet there has never been any public acknowledgement of this incident, or any official explanation of what the helicopter was doing at the Pentagon at that time.
While interviewing one of the witnesses to the incident, however, a Navy historian revealed that the helicopter belonged to the United States Park Police, and, the historian said, had been instructed to intercept the aircraft that was on a crash-course for the Pentagon.
In this incredible video clip, British hedge fund manager David Yarrow openly describes how he profited from the 9/11 attacks by short selling key shares in the minutes after the first attack on the World Trade Center. Yarrow also admits having similarly profited in response to the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the July 7, 2005 London bombings.