"Ringing Like Crazy": Were U.S. Military Phones 'War-Dialed' on 9/11?
Activists and researchers have long tried to understand how the highly sophisticated U.S. military could have failed so completely to stop the attacks that took place on September 11, 2001. Statements made by several U.S. military personnel who were deeply involved in the crisis response that morning suggest an alarming method that may have been used to sabotage normal defenses. Revealed here for the first time, this is one possible reason that the military was in such a state of paralysis until it was too late to make a difference.
NORAD AND THE NMCC
A key military installation on 9/11 was the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) operations center, located deep under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. Major General Eric Findley, NORAD's director of combat operations, was there, and has recalled events around the time of the first attacks. He had just been finishing breakfast when a colleague said to him: "The Federal Aviation Administration's asked for NORAD assistance with a hijacking." As he then came back to the battle cab, someone told him: "Sir, you wanna have a look at this." The monitor was showing television footage of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, with a burning hole in it from having just been hit by an airplane. Before Findley knew it, TV showed the second tower being struck. He said: "We've got a coordinated attack." 
Crucially, Findley has recalled that, at that moment, "every phone in this cab, and every phone over in the command center, and every phone in all the centers in this building were ringing off the hook."  Master Corporal Daniel Milne, the emergency action controller on duty in the NORAD operations center, has similarly recalled: "The feeling was total disbelief. Then the phones started ringing like crazy. I could not believe that we were under attack."  This wasn't just happening at NORAD. The American Forces Press Service has described events in the National Military Command Center (NMCC), located within the Pentagon, based on the recollections of two officers who were there. Like the NORAD operations center, the NMCC would have been one of the most important parts of the military that morning. After the second plane hit the WTC, phones there "began ringing off the hook." 
What caused all these phones to suddenly ring? Could it have been an influx of concerned agencies suddenly requesting help, now it was obvious the U.S. was under attack? Or was it something more sinister? A clue is in a 1996 article from the U.S. Air Force's own magazine, Airman. The article quoted Stacey Knott, a technician in the NORAD operations center: "Things can be pretty quiet in here." However, she added: "One of the busiest times is during exercises. This room fills up. ... The phones are ringing off the hook, and I've got phones in each hand." [emphasis added] 
COMPUTER NETWORK ATTACK
It just so happens that NORAD was in the middle of a major annual exercise the morning of 9/11, called Vigilant Guardian. It involved "all HQ NORAD levels of command," and "would pose an imaginary crisis to North American Air Defense outposts nationwide." Vigilant Guardian was conducted in conjunction with a U.S. Space Command exercise called Apollo Guardian and a U.S. Strategic Command exercise called Global Guardian.  While little is known about Apollo Guardian, Global Guardian has been confirmed as being "in full swing" at the time the real attacks started. 
Furthermore, a military newsletter reported in 1998: "For the last few years, United States Strategic Command has incorporated computer network attack (CNA) scenarios into its annual major exercise known as Global Guardian. The primary purpose of including CNA is to test the processes we have in place in case of a real attack against our information infrastructure." To carry out these attacks, the U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom) would employ "red team" members "and other organizations to act as enemy agents." The attacks would range "from attempting to penetrate the Command from the Internet to a 'bad' insider with access to a key command and control system." Most significantly, "The attackers also 'war dialed' our phones to tie up the phones and sent faxes to numerous fax machines throughout the Command." [emphasis added] Could a "computer network attack" where the phones were "'war dialed" have been incorporated into the exercise on 9/11? The 1998 article had ended: "We plan to increase the level of CNA in future Global Guardian exercises to imitate as closely as possible the technical capabilities of a hostile source." 
THE NEED FOR INVESTIGATION
This raises many questions. Might a CNA incorporated into Global Guardian have provided a smokescreen for sabotaging the phone system, at a time when the U.S. military needed to communicate most effectively so as to respond to the real world attacks? If so, who was behind this act of treason? A thorough and dedicated criminal investigation would be required to identify these rogue individuals.
Major General Eric Findley has tried to suggest that it was not a problem when all the NORAD operations center phones suddenly started ringing. He told the CBC: "The good news is we had lots of people here and we already had an operational architecture. We already had the command and control, the network, the phones, the data links. Everything was already in place that enabled us to react to the situation."  Yet how believable is this? As Findley had himself stated, "every phone" had been "ringing off the hook." Now I can imagine that would be quite a hindrance when you are trying to respond to an unprecedented emergency. And if telephones "ringing like crazy" were really such a harmless occurrence, the U.S. military would have had no need to practice dealing with it during training exercises.
 "NORAD and September 11." CBC, September 11, 2002.
 Ray Dick, "Inside NORAD." Legion Magazine, November/December 2004.
 Jim Garamone, "9/11: Keeping the Heart of the Pentagon Beating." American Forces Press Service, September 7, 2006.
 Pat McKenna, "The Border Guards." Airman, January 1996.
 Hart Seely, "Amid Crisis Simulation, 'We Were Suddenly No-Kidding Under Attack.'" Newhouse News Service, January 25, 2002; "Vigilant Guardian." GlobalSecurity.org, April 14, 2002.
 Joe Dejka, "Inside Stratcom on Sept. 11 Offutt Exercise Took Real-Life Twist." Omaha World-Herald, February 27, 2002.
 Ward Parker, "Incorporating IA Into Global Guardian." IANewsletter, Summer 1998.
 "NORAD and September 11." CBC, September 11, 2002.