Todd Beamer's Odd Phone Call and the Silent Crash of Flight 93

A key element of the official 9/11 story is the phone call Todd Beamer made from United Airlines Flight 93 shortly before it supposedly crashed in rural Pennsylvania. It was at the end of this call that Beamer was heard declaring: "Let's roll," before joining a passenger revolt against the terrorists. Without this now-famous call to battle, 9/11 would arguably have been less effective in motivating the public to get behind the war on terror. By May 2002, the Washington Post reported, Beamer's phrase "Let's roll" had been "Embraced and promoted by President Bush as a patriotic battle cry," and was "now emblazoned on Air Force fighter planes, city firetrucks, school athletic jerseys, and countless T-shirts, baseball caps and souvenir buttons. It's also commemorated in popular songs." [1] The London Evening Standard called Beamer's final words "a symbol of America's determination to fight back." [2] Rowland Morgan, author of the book Flight 93 Revealed, concluded: "Truly, the Let's Roll slogan had become a call to arms--just at a time the White House needed it most." [3] Yet, an examination of Todd Beamer's phone call reveals numerous oddities, coincidences, and seeming impossibilities.

For 13 minutes, Beamer had spoken with Lisa Jefferson, a customer service supervisor at GTE Airfone's Chicago call center. He explained to her that his plane had been hijacked, and, assisted by a flight attendant sitting next to him, provided details about the flight. He also talked about his pregnant wife and two young sons. Being a devout Christian, he asked Jefferson to recite the Lord's Prayer with him, and then recited the 23rd Psalm. Before declaring his famous last words, Beamer said some of the passengers were going to try and seize control of the plane. At around 9:58 a.m., he put the phone down and was heard saying to someone else: "You ready? OK. Let's roll." [4]

The first thing that was odd about this call is the simple fact that Beamer was able to talk to Jefferson continuously for 13 minutes. In her 2002 book, his wife Lisa Beamer revealed that Jefferson had informed her "it was a miracle that Todd's call hadn't been disconnected." The reason: "Because of the enormous number of calls that day, the GTE systems overloaded and lines were being disconnected all around her as she sat at the operator's station outside of Chicago, talking to Todd. [Jefferson] kept thinking, This call is going to get dropped! Yet Todd stayed connected ... all the way to the end." [5] Very fortunate indeed this was, because if the call had become disconnected there would have been no "Let's roll" slogan for the war on terror.

A further oddity was Todd Beamer's remarkable calmness, despite the catastrophic situation he was in. Jefferson recalled: "Todd, when he came to me, he was calm. ... [H]e stayed calm through the entire conversation." [6] In her 2006 book, Called, Jefferson wrote: "[H]is voice was devoid of any stress. In fact, he sounded so tranquil it made me begin to doubt the authenticity and urgency of his call." [7] She told Beamer's wife: "If I hadn't known it was a real hijacking, I'd have thought it was a crank call, because Todd was so rational and methodical about what he was doing." [8]

At some point during the call, Beamer said he did not think he was going to survive, telling Jefferson: "I know we're not going to make it out of here." [9] He gave her his home phone number and said: "If I don't make it out of this, would you please call my family and let them know how much I love them?" [10] Yet he refused offers to be put through to his wife. Jefferson has recalled: "I asked if he wanted to be connected to his wife." But, "he said no, that he did not want to upset her as they were expecting their third child in January." [11]

However, before reaching the call center, Todd Beamer had supposedly been trying to call his wife, but was simply unable to get through. [12] According to a summary of passenger phone calls presented at the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, Beamer tried making this call just before 9:44 a.m., but it had been "terminated upon connection." [13] His wife has recalled that she heard her phone ring twice before stopping, and then, moments later, ringing once more. She said: "When I picked it up, it was dead air. I feel fairly confident that it was Todd. It would be on his mind to call me, to protect me." [14] According to some accounts, he reached the call center because his call was automatically routed there when his attempt at reaching his wife failed. [15] (However, other accounts claim he'd reached it by dialing "0" on the Airfone. [16])

The question remains: If Todd Beamer really did not want to talk to his wife because she was pregnant and he was afraid he might upset her, why had be been trying to phone her in the first place? Even if we somehow accept that he'd changed his mind over the space of a few minutes, another question arises: Why had Beamer not instead asked Jefferson to try and put him through to his parents, or one of his sisters, or another relative, or a friend? Instead, he'd apparently been content to talk with a stranger, explaining to Jefferson: "I just want to talk to somebody and just let someone know that this is happening." [17]

Perhaps the oddest aspect of the call is what happened after 9:58, when Todd Beamer put the phone down to join the passenger revolt against the hijackers. Jefferson has recalled: "After he said, 'Let's roll,' he left the phone, and I would assume that's at the point that they went to charge the cockpit. And I was still on the line and the plane took a dive, and by then, it just went silent. I held on until after the plane crashed--probably about 15 minutes longer and I never heard a crash--it just went silent because--I can't explain it. We didn't lose a connection because there's a different sound that you use. It's a squealing sound when you lose a connection. I never lost connection, but it just went silent." [18]

Now how is this possible? Firstly, how could the call have remained connected after the plane crashed? According to the summary of passenger phone calls presented at the Moussaoui trial, Beamer's call lasted "3,925 seconds." [19] This would mean it did not end until 10:49 a.m., about three-quarters of an hour after Flight 93 supposedly crashed. And, secondly, how could there have been silence when the crash occurred?

Considering that Todd Beamer's call is central to the official 9/11 narrative, it would be helpful if a recording of it were available to be properly analyzed. However, all that supposedly exists is a summary written by Jefferson. According to journalist and author Jere Longman: "GTE-Verizon did not routinely tape its telephone calls. As a supervisor, [Jefferson] would have been the one to monitor the taping, but she did not want to risk losing the call." [20] In her own book, Jefferson claimed she had "not had a chance to press the switch in my office that initiates the taping of a conversation." [21] Rowland Morgan has pointed out that this means the evidence of Beamer's call is "single-sourced, unsubstantiated hearsay of which there was no record. ... [Jefferson] had no idea what Beamer's voice sounded like, and she would never hear it again to judge whether he had actually been speaking to her." [22] However, a week after 9/11 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had claimed otherwise, stating that, "because it was to an operator," the call "was tape-recorded." [23] If a recording of the call indeed exists, it has been kept well hidden.

Todd Beamer's call in fact only came to light five days after the attacks, in a report in the Post-Gazette. [24] Beamer's wife first learned of it three days after the attacks, in a phone call from United Airlines. Until then, the FBI had been keeping the information private until it had an opportunity to review it. (Yet how long does it take to review a written summary of a 13-minute phone call?) [25] An FBI agent had phoned Lisa Jefferson on the afternoon of 9/11. She recalled: "I was told to maintain secrecy. In fact, he stressed the importance of keeping the matter under wraps." [26] But why? What was there to hide?

Clearly, many things seem odd about Todd Beamer's phone call. For now, it is really up to each of us to decide what we think was going on. But it should concern us all that the war on terror is founded upon such dubious evidence. This war, after all, has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans, tens of thousands of Afghans, and over a million Iraqis. It's time to go back and properly investigate the event that started it all.

[1] Peter Perl, "Hallowed Ground." Washington Post, May 12, 2002.
[2] James Langton, "Pain and Joy of 11." Evening Standard, August 19, 2002.
[3] Rowland Morgan, "Flight 93 'Was Shot Down' Claims Book." Daily Mail, August 18, 2006.
[4] Jere Longman, Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002, pp. 198-200 and 203-204; Wes Smith, "Operator Can't Forget Haunting Cries From Flight 93." Orlando Sentinel, September 5, 2002.
[5] Lisa Beamer and Ken Abraham, Let's Roll!: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2002, p. 217.
[6] Wendy Schuman, "'I Promised I Wouldn't Hang Up.'" Beliefnet, 2006.
[7] Lisa Jefferson and Felicia Middlebrooks, Called. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2006, p. 33.
[8] Lisa Beamer and Ken Abraham, Let's Roll! p. 211.
[9] Douglas Holt, "Call Records Detail How Passengers Foiled 2nd Washington Attack." Chicago Tribune, September 16, 2001.
[10] Jere Longman, Among the Heroes, p. 200.
[11] Wes Smith, "Operator Can't Forget Haunting Cries From Flight 93."
[12] U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, "Stipulation [Regarding Flights Hijacked on September 11, 2001; September 11, 2001 Deaths; al Qaeda; Chronology of Hijackers' Activities; Zacarias Moussaoui; and the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System (CAPPS)]." March 1, 2006, p. 11.
[13] U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, "Summary From Flight 93 Depicting: The Identity of Pilots and Flight Attendants, Seat Assignments of Passengers, and Telephone Calls From the Flight." July 31, 2006.
[14] Jaxon Van Derbeken, "Bound by Fate, Determination: The Final Hours of the Passengers Aboard SF-Bound Flight 93." San Francisco Chronicle, September 17, 2001.
[15] Karen Breslau, "The Final Moments of United Flight 93." Newsweek, September 22, 2001; Dennis B. Roddy, "Flight 93: Forty Lives, One Destiny." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 28, 2001; Glen Johnson, "Probe Reconstructs Horror, Calculated Attacks on Planes." Boston Globe, November 23, 2001; U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, March 1, 2006, p. 11.
[16] Jim McKinnon, "GTE Operator Connects With, Uplifts Widow of Hero in Hijacking." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 19, 2001; Jere Longman, Among the Heroes, pp. 198-199; Wes Smith, "Operator Can't Forget Haunting Cries From Flight 93."
[17] Jere Longman, Among the Heroes, p. 204.
[18] Wendy Schuman, "'I Promised I Wouldn't Hang Up.'"
[19] U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, July 31, 2006.
[20] Jere Longman, Among the Heroes, p. 199.
[21] Lisa Jefferson and Felicia Middlebrooks, Called, p. 36.
[22] Rowland Morgan, "Flight 93 'Was Shot Down' Claims Book."
[23] Jim McKinnon, "GTE Operator Connects With, Uplifts Widow of Hero in Hijacking."
[24] Jim McKinnon, "The Phone Line From Flight 93 Was Still Open When a GTE Operator Heard Todd Beamer Say: 'Are You Guys Ready? Let's Roll.'" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 16, 2001.
[25] Lisa Beamer and Ken Abraham, Let's Roll! pp. 185-186.
[26] Lisa Jefferson and Felicia Middlebrooks, Called, p. 69.

Hey Shoestring

You do good work.

That's a stunning research paper on the Todd Beamer call!

I should say the alleged call, because there are so many inexplicable, bizarre, & downright preposterous aspects in the entire affair, it really seems staged to me. (I don't think the customer service supervisor, Lisa Jefferson, was in on it, but she ended-up on the other end of the phone during this ruse.)

I remember the Mark Bingham & Betty Ong phone calls where shown to have many absurd aspects in them as well!

An problem with all this

>>Why had Beamer not instead asked Jefferson to try and put him through to his parents, or one of his sisters, or another relative, or a friend?

While I appreciate the diligent research effort, the problem with the whole area of psychoanalyzing the intentions of those making the phone calls is that these questions can never be answered and will translate into "disrespect" for the victims by the rightwing, who scream that from their websites.

The fact is, there are an infinite number of possible reasons for any question we can ask about his intentions around the phone calls (he was scared, he was having an affair and couldn't decide who to call, he knew his wife would freak out, he wasn't on speaking terms with his family, he thought he would somehow survive and didn't want to upset them, he was in shock and not thinking clearly, etc.), making the basis for those questions easy fodder for attacks like these --

"Hey, you know what, David? Screw you! Questioning Tom Burnett's decision not to talk to his children when he is in the middle of the most stressful situation in his life is patently offensive. This is not freaking Hollywood where he had plenty of time to say goodbye, he was about to risk his life to save it. How dare you question that decision?
Tom Burnett is a national hero."

No, there was far more than just "psychoanalyzing intentions"

in that excellent paper by Shoestring. I'd say Shoe has shown the phone call to be a fraud.

how often do you use SLC as

how often do you use SLC as a source?

"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." ~ William Colby, Former Director, CIA

Good Point Victronix....

Shoestring wrote an excellent piece-- as usual. And Victronix's reply was thoughtful and intelligent-- as usual-- and should not have been voted down....

However, the issue is not that we are psychoanalyzing Beamer's intentions. It is that we are questioning whether it was him who made the phone call in the first place. The analogy between Beamer's (alleged) call and Burnett's call is not a good one. We know it was Burnett who made the calls, because it was his wife who took the calls-- that is, you know that unless you are living in voice-morphing la-la land.

We have every right to suspect that "Beamer's" call was faked, mostly because it was made to a complete stranger and thus no voice-morphing trickery would have been necessary. And also because "his" call valididates the official story on every account, whereas Burnett specifically mentioned guns in the possession of the hijackers.

Just presenting evidence and asking questions

Victronix wrote:
While I appreciate the diligent research effort, the problem with the whole area of psychoanalyzing the intentions of those making the phone calls is that these questions can never be answered and will translate into "disrespect" for the victims by the rightwing, who scream that from their websites.

Really, I was not trying to psychoanalyze the interntions of Todd Beamer. I was more concerned with whether this call was indeed made by Beamer in the first place, and whether it was really made from Flight 93. Certainly, the fact that it supposedly did not end until 10:49 a.m., and the fact that there was silence at the time when Flight 93 supposedly crashed, raises serious cause for concern.

As always, my preferred approach is to present evidence, draw attention to oddities, and raise what I consider to be legitimate questions. As I state at the end of my posting, it is then up to readers to decide what they make of it all. The only hard conclusion I come to is that there is a need for a proper investigation of the Todd Beamer phone call.

Research methods

>>As always, my preferred approach is to present evidence, draw attention to oddities, and raise what I consider to be legitimate questions.

It's fine to "just ask questions" -- this is how research is done and is best done on forums within the research community.

Lot's of people say that Loose Change is "just questions" and so it never actually makes any claims, but we will also find that some of the baseless claims on which the questions rest are all over the mainstream media, right wing sites etc, like the idea that FL 93 was swapped in Cleveland. That doesn't help us move forward, when the questions have little basis in a line of inquiry that can go someplace. So saying that these are "just questions" is not really answering the critique but avoiding it. Sometimes questions themselves are suggestive. I think most of your questions are great, and only have a concern with this area because it feeds detractors efforts.

One also has to ask, is the personal and private intention of Beamer a legitimate question? That's a very different question than wondering if it were Beamer making the call (or if the phone call were "faked") because it suggests that we can better understand if it were him if we can get an answer to, for example, "Why didn't he call his wife?", and that it provides evidence that this wasn't him. Ultimately, this line of questioning is logically impossible to get an answer to, so it mainly presents something which exposes the rest of the research to easy attack and misdirection.

The types of evidence that might suggest he never made the call can come from many sources, but not the personal decisions he appears to have made that day since those are -- logically -- impossible for us to know. People do a lot of strange things when they are close to death.

Revealed OR Concealed?
A Critical Review of 9/11 Revealed

One addition regarding when

One addition regarding when the Beamer story was revealed:

From Rowland Morgan's "Flight 93 Revealed":

"Strangely, Lisa Beamer soon learned that the FBI had not kept the call so secret after all. Larry Ellison, boss of Oracle, the company Todd worked for, had spun the story of Todd the hero aboard Flight 93 on Thursday, before anyone else knew of Todd's phone call.... What did Larry Ellison have to do with it? The very next night he was on television calling for the introduction of a national ID card, something his company would be very interested in supplying to the Bush government at enormous cost."

Oracle's coziness with government goes back to its founding
Firm's growth sustained as niche established with federal, state agencies
Todd Wallack, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
May 20, 2002

"From a Central Intelligence Agency deal that launched the firm 25 years ago, to recent software contracts in Sacramento and Los Angeles, Oracle is no stranger to the halls of political power. The CIA was not just Oracle's first customer. Founded in May 1977, the firm's name came from a CIA project code-named "Oracle." Company co-founders Larry Ellison, Robert Miner and Ed Oates worked on Project Oracle at a consulting firm, before striking out on their own. A quarter century later, close to a quarter of the company's revenue -- $2. 5 billion a year -- still comes from selling software to federal, state and local agencies. "Oracle wouldn't exist if it weren't for government contracts," said Mike Wilson, author of the book "The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison."

"Oracle has 1,000 sales and consulting workers focused exclusively on government work. And in the wake of Sept. 11, Oracle is counting on the heightened interest in staving off terrorism to boost its government ties even more. "Oracle has been actively pitching software to local governments to create detailed digital maps that could be used to respond to attacks. In March, the company formed a partnership to focus on airport security. Ellison even offered to give the federal government software to help create a national ID to thwart terrorists."