Analysis of Colonel Marr and his 911-Commission interviews

Photo: Robert Marr, source: Dick Blume


Colonel Robert Marr was the battle commander at NEADS on September 11, 2001. During the 911-events he was in the "battle-cab". In a different location was the so called "operational floor". The "norad-tapes" are from this "operational floor".


Marr had an important and responsible position on 911 and was interviewed on October 27, 2003, by the 911-Commission staff. In this interview Marr gave some extraordinary statements. On January 24, 2004, he was interviewed a second time, where he gave contradictory statements.

This blog-entry is going to analyze the accuracy and implications of his 2003 statement (source) and compare it to his 2004 interview (source).


Flight 11

Marrs 2003 version

"He asked Arnold to authorize fighters to intercept, but took the initial step, within his authority, to scramble fighters from Otis AFB to Warning Area 105 (Whisky 105) at approximately 8:36AM."

This statement would indicate, that Marr received notification of Flight 11 earlier than 08:36. According to Colin Scoggins, the military liaison at the FAA’s Boston Center, he makes his first call to NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) regarding Flight 11, as the aircraft was “20 [miles] south of Albany, heading south at a high rate of speed, 600 knots.” [Griffin, 2007, pp. 43] Flight 11 was over Albany at 8:26 [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/17/2001, source)

2004 version

Marr gave no time-statements anymore.

Current official version

The scramble-order was given by Marr at 08:45 am. (source)


Flight 175

Marrs 2003 version

"NEADS had received their last radar data on UAL 175 at 9:02AM (the approximate time of its crash into the WTC south tower); but it is not until 9:05AM that NEADS hears of VAL 175's hijack from the FAA."

The above statement of Colonel Marr makes the impression, that he was in contact with FAA-New York as Flight 175 was approaching Manhattan. Indeed NEADS claimed 2003, that it was informed at 08:43 about Flight 175 but according to the 2003 version of Marr, FAA-New York lacked „situational awarness“.

According to the interviews with FAA-Controllers from New York, "OMIC" Bruce Barrett had the responsibility to contact the military regarding Flight 175. Ms. Dowis: "Heard rumor that OMIC has direct line to call military." (source) Ms Dowis stated, that Barrett assured her, that fighter-jets were scrambled for Flight 175. As the second plane crashed into the WTC, Barrett reacted with disbelief. (source) It would be interesting to read Barretts 911-commission interview, but it is still not published ("Classification Review Pending").

2004 version / current official version

"Marr stated that he did not know there was a second hijacking, and believes his first notice of the second crash into the WTC was through a television broadcast." (source)


Reason for the Langley Scramble

Marrs 2003 version

"Marr believed that the Otis fighters would need to return to Otis AFB, or be supplied with in-air refueling when the Langley fighters arrived to assist in the cover of New York City airspace. He decided that this arrangement would allow the Langely fighters to refuel when the Otis fighters returned."

Marr indicates, that the Langley-scrambling was made to protect New York - but after he learned from Flight 77, ... "It was at this point that Langley's mission in Marr's mind changed from flying the cap in NYC to protecting DC." Before the 911-commission in the year 2003, colonel William Scott confirmed Marrs position (Marr was sitting next to him) and had this to say to the commissioners: "The answer on AA77 is not easy, nor is it pretty. At the time AA77 was occurring we were focused on UAL93 which was the only confirmed hijack that the FAA had identified to us. My records show UAL93 reported as hijacked at 0916L, once we found it and identified it's [sic] westerly heading, we scrambled Langley at 0924L just in case it turned around toward DC, which it did later. (...) It takes a lot of time to explain the public that you are scrambling fighters against a plane heading away from the possible target." (source)

2004 version

"(...) when the Otis fighters informed NEADS they needed to return to base, the Langley fighters could be launched. He noted that he does not recall considering a scramble and only recalls directing Battle Stations."

New reason for the Langley-scrambling

"He noted that with all these factors combined he wanted to protect Washington, D.C., and thus scrambled Langley to do so."

Current official version

The Langley, Virginia, base gets the scramble order for flight 11 at 9:24 a.m. (9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006)


"Phantom"-flight Flight 11

Marrs 2003 version

"Marr did not think it very likely that AA 11 was still airborne and headed to DC."

2004 version

"Commission staff presented to Colonel Marr that it appears based on the evidence that Langley was launched in response to AA 11 being reported headed south towards Washington, D.C. Marr agreed that Langley was scrambled based on the perceived threat to AA 11."


Flight 77

Marrs 2003 version

"Marr commented that NEADS was aware that AA 77 had entered Indianapolis Center airspace. Marr noted to Commission staff that it is not unusual to have a time lapse when radar frequencies and squawks are transferred between centers. (...) Marr directed the staff to find "somebody" airborne in the area near Cleveland space to intercept AA 77. The flights from Selfridge Air Force Base (Selfridge AFB) were told to head in the direction to intercept AA 77. (...) "Someone" in Marr's staff was concerned AA 77 might have turned towards Washington, DC, and Marr asked for Langley coverage of DC."

Marrs account is confirmed by two by two high-level FAA officials, that “within minutes after the first aircraft hit the World Trade Center, the FAA immediately established several phone bridges [i.e., telephone conference calls] that included FAA field facilities, the FAA command center, FAA headquarters, [Defense Department], the Secret Service, and other government agencies.” The FAA shared “real-time information on the phone bridges about the unfolding events, including information about loss of communication with aircraft, loss of transponder signals, unauthorized changes in course, and other actions being taken by all the flights of interest, including Flight 77." (source)

Furthermore FAA headquarter in person of Monte Belger was trying "to raise" amongst others the Department of Defense ... "when we were tracking the plane that crashed in the Pentagon." source

2004 version

"Marr´s memory of AA 77 and its impact at the Pentagon was that he had received information on a thread perceived on Washington, D.C. and on the white house."

Current official version

9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001 (...) NEADS contacts Washington flight control to ask about Flight 11. A manager there happens to mention, “We’re looking—we also lost American 77.” The commission claims, “This was the first notice to the military that American 77 was missing, and it had come by chance..” (9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004, (source)).


Flight 93

Marrs 2003 version

"Marr's slide stated that at approximately 9:16AM the FAA reported a possible hijack of VAL 93. (...) Marr told Commission staff that his focus was on UAL 93, which was circling over Chicago. Marr thought VAL 93 was waiting for word over what had been happening across the country to begin its attack. Marr started to attempt to find pilots and fighters."

2004 version

"He acknowledged that as presented to him by Commission staff it is evident that UAL 93 was not hijacked when Langley was scrambled."

Current version

10:05 a.m.-10:08 a.m. September 11, 2001: NEADS Alerted to Flight 93, (...) According to the 9/11 Commission, this is the first notification NEADS receives about Flight 93, but it comes too late, since the plane has already crashed. (source)



Marrs 2003 version

"Marr's staff focused on AA 77. Marr saw that after the Pentagon strike military bases postured for assets to combat ready. He heard shortly thereafter that authority existed to shoot down a civilian aircraft over national airspace; Marr understood that if they had to they could fire upon UAL 93."

2004 version

"Marr told Commission staff that he told his FO to bring the fighters as close as possible to a potential target, and "from there they would discuss a next step". (...) Marr noted that at 10:10 am when the MCC tells the operational floor there is no clearance to shoot he (Marr) may have had the authority, but he never gave the MCC clearance to fire."


Beside this 911-commission interview, there is one more example of lying:


Colonel Robert Marr, the battle commander at NEADS, says that when the Otis fighters took off, his “intent was to scramble [them] to military airspace while we found out what was going on.” He says that, before 9:03 when the second World Trade Center tower is hit, the fighters are “heading down south toward Whiskey 105 and we don’t really have a mission for them at this point.” Whiskey 105 is military training airspace southeast of Long Island, a few minutes flying time from New York City. [Filson, 2003, pp. 56 and 58-59]

That is not true. NEADS, operational floor, wanted to send the fighters immediately over land, over New York, but FAA, New York, gave no permission.


Can anything be concluded from Marrs various statements?


It is difficult to conclude anything, because Colonel Marr is a liar and has no credibility at all. Nevertheless he is a key-person to understand the failed fighter responses on 911. Normally the 911-commission would have had to put him under oath and could have pressed the truth out of him - even if he had gone to jail (coercive arrest).

As it appears to me, many of his 2003 versions make more sense than his 2004 versions, because regarding Flight 11, 175 and 77 his accounts are supported partly, at least, by FAA-staff. Totally unsupported is his 2003-claim, that Flight 93 was circling over Detroit around 09:16 and he was looking after fighters and pilots.