FBI: No Records Pertaining To 2002 NORAD/FBI Aircraft Hijack Exercise Planned Before 9/11

The following is a Freedom of Information Act response from the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding a request for records for the June 4, 2002 NORAD Amalgam Virgo II exercise. Planned prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, this exercise simulated the hijacking of a Boeing 757, like two of the aircraft hijacked on September 11, 2001.

Because NORAD is a binational agency of Canada and the United States, NORAD is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Dear Mr. Monaghan:

This is in response to your Freedom of Information-Privacy Acts (FOIPA) request noted above.

To promptly respond to requests, we concentrate on identifying main files in the central records system at FBI Headquarters. No records responsive to your FOIPA request were located by a search of the automated indices. If you believe the records you seek are maintained at one of our many FBI field offices, you must also make a request to the specific Field Office where you believe the records are maintained.

You may file an administrative appeal by writing to the Director, Office of Information and Privacy, United States Department of Justice, 1425 New York Ave., NW, Suite 11050, Washington, D.C. 205300001, within sixty days from the date of this letter. The envelope and the letter should be clearly marked "Freedom of Information Appeal" or "Information Appeal." Please cite the FOIPA number assigned to your request so that it may be easily identified.

Enclosed for your information is a copy of the FBI File Fact Sheet.

Sincerely yours,

David M. Hardy

Section Chief, Record/Information

Dissemination Section Records Management Division

From CNN:

It may eerily similar to September 11th, two hijackings this morning, but the hijackings are not real. They are a joint U.S.- Canadian terrorism exercise run by NORAD called Amalgam Virgo II. Now the two planes, a Delta 757, with actual Delta pilots in the flight deck, will be hijacked by FBI agents as it makes its trip from Salt Lake City to Honolulu. That plane will be diverted in midair to Elmendorf Air Base in Anchorage, Alaska.


NORAD-Sponsored Exercise Prepares For Worst-Case Scenarios

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2002 – The first part of today's multiagency, bilateral air security exercise sponsored by the North American Aerospace Defense Command is already a "go."

"So many agencies have met numerous times and have worked out issues, the first part of the exercise is a big success," NORAD spokesman Marine Corps Maj. Mike Snyder said today of the day-long "Amalgam Virgo 02" exercise.

This is the second year the U.S.-Canada exercise has been held, Snyder noted. NORAD headquarters, at Colorado Springs, Colo., is responsible for air and space warning and aerospace control for the continental United States, Canada and Alaska.

The exercises, Snyder said, focus on possible threats in U.S.-Canadian skies in today's post-Cold War world. The purpose of the exercises is to improve preparedness and interagency coordination for a variety of airborne threats and contingencies, he added.

This year's exercise is a commercial airliner-hijacking scenario -- planned before the Sept. 11 attacks, Snyder said. Last year's exercise, he said, was a scenario involving a cruise missile launched by "a rogue (government) or somebody" from a barge off the East Coast.

Future scenarios include air piracy and drug interdiction - - "anything else that might pop up," Snyder remarked. "We're planning for the worst-case scenario that was previously unimaginable" before the terrorist-hijacked airliner attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

This year's hijacking scenario is not a prediction of possible events, Snyder emphasized. About 1,500 people are taking part, including the FBI, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Transport Canada, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Vancouver Airport Authority, and Delta Airlines.

Snyder said a Delta plane from Utah and a Navy C-9 from Washington State are among aircraft being used in the exercise. "Hijackers" and "law enforcement role players" are part of the scenario, he added. The Delta plane will fly to Alaska's Elmendorf Air Force Base, he noted, and the Navy C-9 will travel to Vancouver, Canada.

The exercise "does not critique security efforts on the ground," Snyder emphasized. "We are just trying to do our job in case something unforetold happens."

NORAD's expert pilots -- including active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve fliers -- have conducted "hundreds of real-world scenarios since 9-11," Snyder said.

NORAD must be notified by the FAA or other federal agencies to investigate airborne security situations, he said.

"We're the force of last resort. We don't play a first- responder role," he explained. "If we have to be used, that means something went wrong somewhere else."

Since Sept. 11, NORAD has had more than 300 domestic aviation 'events' involving a mix of small and larger commercial aircraft, Snyder said. NORAD typically scrambles aircraft at the request of the FAA, which has people at NORAD and at the organization's Cheyenne Mountain operations center, also in Colorado Springs. Scrambles -- launches -- take just minutes, he noted.

Snyder said NORAD hopes potential air threats can be "intercepted on the ground before becoming a bigger issue."

"If something is questionable in the air," Snyder said, "NORAD critiques and evaluates the threat using a graduated response." That process starts with identifying the aircraft, he added. The worst case is a shootdown.

FEMA and the FBI are also involved in any real-life situation involving hijacked airliners. They also have a role in consequence management on the ground "as we saw during 9-11, unfortunately," Snyder noted.

Regarding future NORAD involvement in hijackings of commercial airliners and other types of aircraft, Snyder noted: "Well-established rules of engagement were in place before 9-11." Those rules, he added, have been modified since to clarify new potential threats and situations.

"Truly, it's a difficult situation; time is of the essence," he said of aircraft hijackings. "The more time we have the better."

Snyder said the time clock starts at the airlines' crisis operation centers. "Somebody has to decide if a plane has been hijacked and what the hijackers' intentions are," he concluded.

Joint U.S., Canadian hijacking drill takes off with Whidbey flight

Wednesday, June 5, 2002



DENVER -- Jets packed with people took off from Oak Harbor, Wash., and Salt Lake City yesterday in a simulated hijacking training exercise designed to improve coordination among American and Canadian agencies.

Fighter jets from the North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled to respond to the simulated hijackings and were to run through several hypothetical scenarios, including one that involved shooting down the planes.

"We're prepared to do it, trained to do it, and ready to do it, but we'd much rather it be the source of last resort," said Marine Maj. Mike Snyder, a NORAD spokesman. "But make no mistake, we're ready to do it."

The exercise, involving more than 1,500 personnel from the United States and Canada, began about 6 a.m. The hijacking scenarios began shortly thereafter.

One plane, a Delta Air Lines 757, took off from Salt Lake City and was headed to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska.

The other was a Navy C-9 airlifter, acting as another airliner, which traveled from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station at Oak Harbor to Vancouver, B.C., International Airport.

Both were packed with military personnel acting as civilian passengers. NORAD planned to run through a number of scenarios that would end with the planes landing. Once that occurred, law enforcement on the ground were to run through scenarios dealing with the hijackers from there.

The exercise was the latest training in the annual Amalgam Virgo exercises.

Last year's exercise involved testing defenses against a cruise missile attack on the Florida panhandle.

The 2002 scenario was planned before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but Snyder said the events of that day helped officials fine-tune plans for the exercise. There were no plans for live firing.

Snyder said the exercise's chief use would be helping other agencies coordinate their response because NORAD has had so much practice since Sept. 11.

The defense command has flown 22,000 sorties under Operation Noble Eagle and conducted more than 300 so-called aviation events, where fighter jets responded to worries over small or commercial aircraft to determine their intent.

"NORAD is very well trained and exercised regarding this particular scenario," Snyder said.


Thanks for this.

NORAD May Have Control Of Such Records

I've also asked the FAA for records for exercises involving the FAA and NORAD and the FAA directed me to contact NORAD.

NORAD records pertaining to the exercises underway for 2 years before 9/11 involving "numerous" types of civilian aircraft striking targets that included the WTC are also off limits. I've often wondered what they might reveal about the aircraft attacks themselves.


I suggest contacting the FBI offices closest to Elmendorf Air Force Base...

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? Do we deserve to know how and why 9/11 happened?

Good Idea

I did ask for air traffic control records for that base and the civil airport in Utah and they claimed that such records were deleted after 30 days.