Lies on the Horizon
Retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers has published a memoir. Predictably, Eyes on the Horizon carries an impressive payload of military-industrial propaganda in support of the “War on Terror”. But most interesting is Myers’ chapter recollecting the “defining moment” of September 11, which begins thusly:
"My driver, Dan Downey, braked hard at the Pentagon River Entrance, and we jumped from the car. The steps were crowded with men and women fleeing the building, many still coughing from the smoke inside."
From what is this thrilling Doc Savagesque prose meant to distract us?
On September 11, 2001 Air Force General Richard Myers was the Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and yet his tale of that day begins some time after the Pentagon was officially attacked at 9:38 a.m. What about the 35 minutes after the South Tower was hit, announcing a coordinated operation to the world? What about the 52 minutes after F-15s were finally scrambled from Otis to intercept a hijacked airliner at that moment striking the North Tower?
It seems that–like his friend Donald Rumsfeld–General Myers was otherwise occupied prior to the Pentagon hit, though he has given several different accounts of that time:
“According to his own account, Air Force General Richard Myers, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sees reports of the first WTC crash on television. Myers is acting chairman of the US military during the 9/11 crisis because Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Henry Shelton is flying across the Atlantic for a NATO meeting in Europe. [ABC News, 9/11/2002; American Forces Press Service, 9/8/2006] Myers has a 9 o’clock appointment with Senator Max Cleland (D) in one of the Senate office buildings. He is heading into this meeting and sees a television in Cleland’s outer office showing the burning North Tower, with the commentator suggesting it has been hit by an airplane. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] Myers later recalls, “They thought it was a small plane or something like that.” [Armed Forces Radio And Television Service, 10/17/2001; American Forces Press Service, 10/23/2001] He says, “And we’re standing around saying, ‘What in the world happened?’ I remember the day being beautiful. I said, ‘How could a pilot be that stupid, to hit a tower? I mean, what’—but then you think, ‘Well, whatever.’” So he goes ahead and walks into the meeting, and is with Cleland at the time the second tower is hit (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Council on Foreign Relations, 6/29/2006] On several occasions, Cleland will confirm that Myers had this meeting with him. [US Congress, 9/13/2001; CNN, 11/20/2001; Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/16/2003] But counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke seems to contradict this account. He claims that, when he joins a video teleconference shortly after arriving at the White House, he sees Myers on screen, indicating that Myers is at the Pentagon rather than with Cleland (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001).”
“According to some reports, acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers entered a meeting on Capitol Hill with Senator Max Cleland (D) just minutes before the second plane hit the World Trade Center (see Shortly Before 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). There are confused accounts of when Myers learns of this second attack, and what he does in response. Myers later tells NBC News, “[S]omewhere in the middle of that meeting, they came in and said the second tower has been hit… and I think that’s when we figured out something—that America or at least the World Trade Center is under attack.” He adds, “And then I left the office,” and says that NORAD Commander Ralph Eberhart then calls him. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] In testimony on September 13, 2001, he similarly states, “[A]fter the second tower was hit, I spoke to the commander of NORAD, General Eberhart.” [US Congress, 9/13/2001] In a speech in 2006, Myers says that after the second attack occurs, “The meeting was over very quickly.” [Council on Foreign Relations, 6/29/2006] He tells CNN, “[W]hen the second target was hit, we knew something was up, so we rushed back to the Pentagon.” [CNN, 4/15/2003] Yet in an interview five weeks after 9/11, he claims, “Nobody informed us” when the second tower was hit, “But when we came out [of our meeting], that was obvious.” [Armed Forces Radio And Television Service, 10/17/2001; American Forces Press Service, 10/23/2001] And, according to several accounts, he does not leave Capitol Hill until around the time the Pentagon is hit, which is more than 30 minutes after the second attack happens (see (Shortly After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). In a speech in 2003, Max Cleland recalls, “Gen. Myers bolted from his seat. We rushed into an adjoining office as we saw on TV the second plane slam into the second tower. Gen. Myers rushed out of my office, headed for the Pentagon. At that moment, the Pentagon was hit.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/16/2003] But on a couple of other occasions, Cleland says he is still meeting with Myers in his office at the time the Pentagon is hit. [US Congress, 9/13/2001; CNN, 11/20/2001] Contradicting both Cleland and Myers, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later claims that when he joins a video teleconference shortly after the time of the second attack, he can see Myers on screen, meaning Myers is at the Pentagon at that time rather than on Capitol Hill (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Clarke, 2004, pp. 1-3] “
Myers does include the curious claim that after his arrival in the NMCC, he “went to find Secretary Rumsfeld” as “CNN showed the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsing in an avalanche of smoke and debris”, confirming that after 9:59 a.m. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld–No. 2 in the military chain-of-command after the President–for some reason was “‘outside’, helping with the wounded” rather than doing his job in the NMCC, which he also had managed to avoid before the Pentagon attack.
“And we’re standing around saying, ‘What in the world happened?’ I remember the day being beautiful. I said, ‘How could a pilot be that stupid, to hit a tower? I mean, what’—but then you think, ‘Well, whatever.’”
Of course, it’s perfectly reasonable that the man who had been Commander of NORAD from 1998 - 2000 stood around thinking “Well, whatever”. Isn’t it?
"In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.
One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center."
"The Global War on Terror will last several decades. Al Qaeda and their affiliate organizations that span the globe have a 100-year plan to destroy the worldwide economy and defeat western democracies. As the architect of the global war on terror since its inception and the fifteenth chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, military speaker General Richard Myers sees the war on terror as an even greater threat to America’s security than World War II. In this compelling speech, he describes what’s at stake for America, her allies, and the world, and prepares audiences for the bold challenges that lie ahead. Myers also leaves them inspired in his deeply held conviction that this threat will ultimately be defeated."
"Elected to the Northrop Grumman Board of Directors in 2006."