"We're Next": Who Gave the Warning to "Stay off the E-Ring" of the Pentagon?

On September 11, 2001, NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski was the first reporter at the scene to relay that the Pentagon had been attacked. In a 9:39 a.m. report, he said, "[J]ust a few moments ago ... there was an explosion of some kind here at the Pentagon." After describing what he was seeing and hearing around him, Miklaszewski added: "[I]nterestingly enough, one intelligence official here in the building said [that] when he saw what appeared to be the coordinated attack on the World Trade Center, his advice was to stay away from the outside of the building today, just in case." [1]

Miklaszewski later described this incident again for a book. He recalled that, while heading down the hallway at the Pentagon, he'd "ran into a Defense official who said he didn't know anything specific about the attack yet. But it was so coordinated, he said, 'If I were you I would stay off the E-ring today, because we're next.'" According to Miklaszewski, this official "had no specific information; that was just his gut instinct." [2]

This raises serious questions. Firstly, who was this Defense Department intelligence official? Secondly, why did he think the Pentagon was going to be hit next? After the attacks in New York occurred, Paul Gonzalez, a supervisor in the Defense Intelligence Agency comptroller's office, had in fact reassured his colleagues that the Pentagon was "probably the safest building in the world." No steps were being taken to evacuate the building or alert its employees to any danger. [3] Yet the official that spoke to Miklaszewski thought it would be a target.

Most importantly, why did he specifically warn Miklaszewski to "stay off the E-ring," meaning the outermost of the five concentric rings that make up the Pentagon? Even if we believed that it really was just his gut feeling that the Pentagon would be a target, how could he have guessed the E-ring was at risk? As David Ray Griffin has pointed out: "Assuming that terrorists in control of a Boeing 757 would want to be certain of hitting [the Pentagon], why would they aim at one of the facades, which are only 80 feet high, when they could have simply dived into the roof, which covers 29 acres? More important, one would assume that they would have wanted to cause as much damage to the Pentagon and kill as many of its employees as possible, and these aims would also have made the roof the logical target." [4] So surely if someone had feared an attack on the Pentagon based solely on gut feeling, they would have been most afraid that the roof would be hit. The fact that this Defense Department official believed the E-ring was the likely target suggests he had some kind of specific foreknowledge, and not just a "gut instinct."

While the available evidence is far from conclusive, this indication of foreknowledge is one of the many things that ought to be looked into when there is a proper investigation of 9/11.

[1] NBC News, September 11, 2001.
[2] Allison Gilbert et al. (Editors), Covering Catastrophe: Broadcast Journalists Report September 11. Chicago: Bonus Books, 2002, p. 43.
[3] Steve Vogel, "Survivors Healed, but Not Whole." Washington Post, March 11, 2002; Steve Vogel, The Pentagon: A History. New York: Random House, 2007, p. 429.
[4] David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11. Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2004, p. 40.

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Capt. Gerald F. DeConto was organizing the Navy response

Capt. Gerald F. DeConto - Director of Current Operations and Plans was 'organizing the Navy's response to the WTC Attack' ,
when he was killed inside of the Pentagon. 'He had been named recently to his new post.' Apparently, at least a few people inside the Pentagon were aware of the attack and beginning to respond. Other victims also report hearing about the attack in NYC in various ways. Some from the radio or TV. Others found out during telephone conversations with people outside of the Pentagon.

The FAA issued a National Ground Stop by 9:26 AM, yet at the Pentagon, for the most part it was business as usual. No one even sounded an alarm or call to battle stations. Unbelievable.


From Sewell Chan

The Washington Post

September 20, 2001, Thursday, Final Edition

As director of the current operations and plans branch of the Navy Command Center, [b]Capt. Gerald F. DeConto, 44, was organizing the Navy's response to the World Trade Center attack when he died in the crash at the Pentagon.[/b]

The weekend before he died, DeConto drove his green Ford Explorer -- with the license tag "FISH79," for his nickname at the U.S. Naval Academy -- to a family reunion at his brother's home in East Lyme, Conn. The family ate clam chowder, sausage and flank steaks and played badminton and basketball.

DeConto accompanied his mother back to Sandwich, Mass., the seaside town on Cape Cod where he was a high school soccer star, and left for Alexandria Monday afternoon. That night, he sent an e-mail to his mother telling her he had arrived safely. She had just opened an e-mail account, and it was the first -- and last -- message she would receive from her son.

"We're so lucky we had that weekend all together," Patricia DeConto said.
Gerald DeConto, who was divorced and had no children, stayed in close touch with his mother, two brothers and two sisters. He enjoyed sailing, running with his two dogs, and giving his brothers pointers about coaching soccer.

The son of a schoolteacher and town building inspector, DeConto received a physics degree from the Naval Academy, where he played rugby, in 1979. He reported to the USS Excel as a damage control assistant, later serving as engineering officer and executive officer. He became operations officer on the USS Fresno in 1982.

He attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., from 1984 to 1986, receiving a master's degree in mechanical engineering. He was chief engineer on the USS Hewitt from 1986 to 1989 and was then an aide to the assistant chief of naval operations for surface warfare. He was named executive officer on the USS Lake Erie in 1991.

DeConto was assistant operations officer for Carrier Group 7 from 1994 to 1997. [b]He then received a master's degree in national security and strategic studies at the Naval War College.[/b] He was commanding officer of the USS Simpson from 1998 to 2000 and chief of staff for the Standing Naval Force Mediterranean from April 2000 until May.

He had been named recently to his new post. But what he really wanted was to lead his own ship again, his mother said: "Once they're captain, they're never satisfied with another job. That's what he was waiting for."



Hero's death for former Cape man

SANDWICH - In the minutes after the World Trade Center was attacked, Capt. Gerald F. "Gerry" DeConto was in the Pentagon scrambling to organize the Navy's response when a third hijacked airliner plunged through the building near his office. DeConto was listed among the missing.

Family members say it was a hero's death for the Sandwich High graduate, who rose through the Navy ranks over more than two decades.

A friend and former shipmate remembered DeConto's sense of humor and his love of sports, his leadership and his friendship.

"He was just such a great guy, and a great officer," said Michael McCaffrey of Sutton, who served with DeConto aboard the USS Fresno in the 1980s, and who remains a captain in the Navy Reserve.

They were together aboard the Fresno as it sailed throughout the South Pacific. When they weren't playing softball or just hanging out, they'd explore port cities, from San Diego to Singapore, McCaffrey recalled.

]"We did it all, and we had fun. We'd visit churches and museums. No one believes that, and sure, we'd hit some bars in between. But we loved churches and museums.

"He was just such a nice guy."


Jim Miklaszewski Reporting from the Pentagon on 9/11

From History Commons:

Profile: Jim Miklaszewski
Jim Miklaszewski was a participant or observer in the following events:
Between 9:03 a.m. and 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Defense Official at Pentagon Says, ‘We’re Next’
Edit event

After the second WTC tower is hit, NBC News correspondent Jim Miklaszewski is heading down a hall inside the Pentagon when he runs into a Defense Department official. The official says he doesn’t yet know anything specific about the attack. But, he says, it is so coordinated that “[i]f I were you I would stay off the E-ring [the outermost corridor of the Pentagon] today, because we’re next.” According to Miklaszewski, the official had no specific information, “that was just his gut instinct.” [Gilbert et al., 2002, pp. 43]

Entity Tags: Jim Miklaszewski

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
9:39 a.m.-9:44 a.m. September 11, 2001: Media Reports Pentagon Explosion
Edit event

Television news reports describe an explosion and fire occurring at the Pentagon, but do not specify that a plane hit it:
bullet Two seconds after 9:39 a.m., reporter Jim Miklaszewski states on NBC News: “I don’t want to alarm anybody right now, but apparently, there—it felt, just a few moments ago, like there was an explosion of some kind here at the Pentagon. We’re on the E-ring of the Pentagon. We have a window that faces out toward the Potomac, toward Kennedy Center. We haven’t been able to see or—or hear anything after the initial blast. I just stepped out in the hallway. Security guards were herding people out of the building, and I saw just a moment ago as I looked outside, a number of construction workers who have been working here, have taken flight. They’re running as far away from the building as they can right now. I—I hear no sirens going off in the building; I see no smoke, but the building shook for just a couple of seconds. The windows rattled and security personnel are doing what they can momentarily to clear this part of the building. Again, I have no idea whether it was part of the construction work, whether it was an accident or what is going on. We’re going to try to find those details and get them to you as soon as possible. But interestingly enough, one intelligence official here in the building said when he saw what appeared to be the coordinating attack on the World Trade Center, his advice was to stay away from the outside of the building today just in case.” [NBC, 9/11/2001]
bullet At 9:40, CNN coverage includes a banner stating, “Reports of fire at Pentagon.” [CNN, 9/11/2001] Three minutes later, CNN producer Chris Plant reports from the Pentagon, “It’s impossible for me to say… exactly what caused this. I did not hear an explosion but there is certainly a very, very significant fire in this enormous office building.” [CNN, 9/11/2001]
bullet At 9:42, ABC News reports smoke coming from somewhere behind the Old Executive Office Building, next to the White House. Two minutes later it reports a “fire confirmed at the Pentagon.” [ABC News, 9/11/2001]
bullet At 9:43, CBS News reports “smoke pouring out of the Pentagon,” but adds, “We don’t know whether this is the result of a bomb or whether it is yet another aircraft that has targeted a symbol of the United States’ power.” [CBS, 9/11/2001]
However, no media outlets record video footage of the Pentagon crash, and the cause of the explosion remains unknown for some minutes afterward. The Associated Press is apparently the first source to report that a plane hit the Pentagon (see 9:43 a.m.-9:53 a.m. September 11, 2001).

From History Commons"
Entity Tags: Jim Miklaszewski, Pentagon

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Lt Jonas Martin Panik was in the Navel Command Ctr

Panik had 'had briefed his superiors on the World Trade Center attack when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.'

Who were the superiors that he briefed? Why didn't anyone follow the proper procedures for Threatcon Delta?


Jonas Martin Panik

A Bitter Irony Held in Time Capsule

Nov. 23, 2001

When Jonas Panik was in eighth grade, he made a time capsule for school. He filled the jar with sports clippings and his favorite Gary Larsen "Far Side" cartoon. Days after Naval intelligence officer Jonas Martin Panik was killed at the Pentagon, his parents opened their son's 1989 time capsule.
The "Far Side" cartoon showed two Godzilla-like dragons clawing at the World Trade Center towers. "Hey! Is that you, Dave? Small world!" one dragon says to the other. An airplane aimed at the World Trade Center is also pictured.

"How ironic can it be?" said Panik's mother, Linda Panik.

In the Navy Command Center on Sept. 11, Lt. Panik had briefed his superiors on the World Trade Center attack when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Panik was identified by his fingerprints.