Why Were U.S. Intelligence Facilities in an 'Information Void' During the 9/11 Attacks?

The FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center

When the terrorist attacks began on September 11, 2001, numerous U.S. intelligence agencies and facilities that should have been closely following the catastrophic events taking place in the skies over America were unaware that anything was wrong. Because of their particular responsibilities and their advanced capabilities, agencies such as the FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) should have been among the first to learn the details of the crisis. But, instead, they were apparently in an information blackout, and their knowledge of the attacks was limited to what they could learn from television reports.

The fact that key intelligence agencies and facilities experienced this problem, and all at the same time, suggests that the information blackout may have been intentional--an act of sabotage committed by the perpetrators of the attacks. Such an act could have been intended to render these agencies and facilities useless when their services were urgently needed, thereby helping to ensure that the attacks were successful.

The lack of awareness of the crisis on September 11 is highlighted in the accounts of two military officers who contacted numerous facilities in their attempts to learn more about the attacks. These officers were Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stuart, an intelligence officer at NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), and Major David McNulty, the senior intelligence officer of the 113th Wing of the District of Columbia Air National Guard at Andrews Air Force Base. [1]

Stuart and McNulty's units had crucial roles to play on September 11. NEADS, based in Rome, New York, was responsible for coordinating the U.S. military's response to the hijackings. [2] And "air defense around Washington, DC," according to Knight Ridder, was provided "mainly by fighter planes from Andrews Air Force Base," which is just 10 miles from the capital. [3] The DC Air National Guard was in fact known as the "Capital Guardians." [4] It was therefore essential that Stuart and McNulty be provided with up-to-the-minute information on the attacks. That, however, did not happen.

NEADS was alerted to the first hijacking--that of American Airlines Flight 11--just before 8:38 a.m. on September 11, when an air traffic controller called to report the incident and request military assistance. [5] Beginning at around 8:48 a.m., Mark Stuart contacted several facilities to see if they had any information on the hijacking, beyond what he had already learned. These facilities included the FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center, the National Military Joint Intelligence Center, and the 1st Air Force headquarters. None of them could provide any additional information. A colleague of Stuart's checked the SIPRNET--the U.S. military Internet system--for relevant information, but also without success. [6]

At Andrews Air Force Base, about five minutes or so after he learned that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center (the crash occurred at 9:03 a.m.), McNulty went to his "intel vault" and began seeking relevant information. He too checked the SIPRNET. He called agencies such as the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA. He also called units such as the Air Combat Command Intelligence Squadron and the 609th Air Intelligence Squadron. But he was unable to find out anything more than he had already learned from television reports. [7]

Other accounts provide further details of the lack of awareness of the catastrophic events within the military and other government agencies. Indeed, the information blackout appears to have been almost universal. One government official commented that the U.S. was "deaf, dumb, and blind" for much of September 11. [8]

Although many key facilities were unaware of what was happening at the time the WTC towers were hit, indications of the crisis had been evident much earlier on. These indications were received or noticed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is responsible for operating the U.S. air traffic control system, or by American Airlines.

The first sign that something was wrong came nearly 33 minutes before Flight 11 crashed into the WTC, when communication with the plane was lost. Just before 8:14 a.m., the plane's crew failed to respond to an instruction to climb to 35,000 feet. The air traffic controller at the FAA's Boston Center who was handling Flight 11 tried repeatedly to contact the plane over the next 10 minutes, but without success. [9]

Boston Center controllers noticed a further indication of the emergency at 8:21 a.m., when Flight 11's transponder--the equipment that transmits identifying information about a plane to radar screens--was turned off. This, according to the Christian Science Monitor, was "something more worrisome" than the loss of radio contact. [10]

Then, at around 8:25 a.m., the controller handling Flight 11 heard a couple of suspicious radio transmissions, apparently made by a hijacker on Flight 11, which led him to conclude that the plane had been hijacked. At that point, the Boston Center began notifying its chain of command within the FAA of the suspected hijacking. [11]

A minute later, at 8:26 a.m., Boston Center controllers noticed Flight 11 drastically changing course, turning sharply to the south. [12] This was a significant development. Darrel Smith, an intelligence officer working at FAA headquarters that morning, has commented that he was particularly alarmed when he learned about it, because such a deviation was like "changing directions off I-95 north and heading south." Flight 11's change of course "jeopardized the other flights in the surrounding airspace," he said. [13]

American Airlines, like the FAA, was aware of the crisis well before the first plane hit the WTC. At 8:19 a.m., Betty Ong, one of the flight attendants on Flight 11, contacted the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in Cary, North Carolina, and, in a 25-minute phone call, relayed crucial information about what was happening on her plane. A couple of minutes after Ong's call began, a supervisor at the reservations office called the American Airlines System Operations Control Center in Fort Worth, Texas, and alerted it to the information that Ong was providing. And at 8:32 a.m., Amy Sweeney, another of the plane's flight attendants, reached the American Airlines flight services office in Boston. In a 12-minute phone call, she provided details of the crisis to the manager there.

In their calls, Ong and Sweeney made clear the seriousness of the situation. They reported that Flight 11 had been hijacked and that the hijackers were in the cockpit; two flight attendants had been stabbed; one passenger had his throat slashed and died as a result; and there was a bomb in the cockpit. [14]

But while American Airlines and the FAA knew details of the emergency early on, other agencies and facilities that should also have been closely following the crisis were unaware that anything was wrong. So when Mark Stuart, at NEADS, contacted a number of intelligence facilities, beginning shortly after the first plane hit the WTC, he found they had no information beyond what he already knew. [15] And David McNulty, at Andrews Air Force Base, has recalled that when he did the same, beginning several minutes after the second plane hit the WTC, he felt like he was "waking up the national agencies" and found that the agencies he called "had nothing to report." [16]

Mark Stuart called the FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC) to report the hijacking of Flight 11. Stuart told the 9/11 Commission that he made the call at around 8:48 a.m. This was two minutes after Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. [17]

The SIOC should have been well suited to handling the 9/11 attacks. The United States Government Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan of January 2001 stated that the SIOC's role was "to coordinate and manage the national level support to a terrorism incident." [18] The purpose of the center, according to FBI officials, was "to keep the FBI updated on any crisis through sophisticated computers and communications equipment."

The SIOC, which opened in 1998, was a 40,000-square-foot facility on the fifth floor of the FBI's headquarters in Washington. It was designed to handle up to five crises at the same time, and, during a major emergency, could accommodate up to 450 people. [19]

The SIOC functioned as a 24-hour watch post and crisis management center. [20] It had 10-member watch teams on duty at all times. These teams included a representative from the NSA's Cryptologic Security Group, who could provide information from the government's worldwide electronic eavesdropping. [21] The center's 225 computer terminals had access to three types of local area networks: the regular FBI network that could connect to the networks of outside agencies; a classified network that operated at the level of Top Secret; and an even more highly classified Special Compartmented Information network. [22]

FBI agents and top officials, along with representatives from many other government agencies, went to the SIOC on September 11 in response to the terrorist attacks. [23] John Ashcroft, the attorney general at the time, told the 9/11 Commission that "the SIOC was the place to be to get information and so everyone wanted to be there." [24]

And yet, despite the center's key responsibilities and its advanced capabilities, personnel in this state-of-the-art command post were apparently no better informed about the 9/11 attacks than members of the public watching the events on television. Stuart has recalled that when he called the SIOC, the center "had no information to pass that could shed light on the nature of the American Air 11 hijacking." Stuart was handed off to two or three individuals at the center. He explained to them what was happening and asked for law enforcement information. But, Stuart has said, "They had nothing." One of the people that Stuart spoke to said to him, "Oh shit, I have to go," and then hung up. [25]

Fred Stremmel, an FBI counterterrorism analyst, was in the SIOC when the attacks began and has described events there. According to his account, those in the center only realized the U.S. was under terrorist attack when they saw the second plane hitting the WTC on television.

Stremmel learned of the crisis that morning when a colleague in the SIOC told him about the first plane hitting the WTC. A crowd was watching the television coverage of the crash on a giant video screen, and Stremmel saw the second plane hitting the WTC when it was broadcast live, at 9:03 a.m. According to journalist and author Garrett Graff, at that time, "Everyone in the operations center stood there stunned." Stremmel has commented that after seeing the second crash on TV, those in the SIOC "probably knew it was terrorism, but we were in denial. It's like being told you have cancer. You want to deny it for as long as possible." [26]

Even the FBI's top officials were apparently no more aware of what was happening than members of the public were. FBI Director Robert Mueller was holding his daily briefing in his conference room at the FBI headquarters when the attacks began. All of the bureau's assistant directors were with him, including Dale Watson, the head of counterterrorism. They all learned of the crisis when someone interrupted the briefing and told them a plane had crashed into the WTC. However, they were initially unclear about whether this was a terrorist attack. "How could a plane not see the tower? It's so clear out today," Mueller reportedly said. Some of the group then went to the office of Deputy Director Thomas Pickard. There they saw the second crash live on television and realized for certain that this was terrorism. Only then did Watson go to his office and activate the SIOC for crisis mode, and Pickard and Mueller quickly made their way to the SIOC. [27]

Agents at the FBI's Washington, DC, field office were just as poorly informed. The Washington field office was one of the facilities David McNulty called after the second hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 175, hit the South Tower of the WTC. However, it could provide him with no additional information on the crisis. "It was a fruitless effort," McNulty has commented. [28]

After calling the SIOC, Mark Stuart called the National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC) about the hijacking of Flight 11. [29] The NMJIC, which is located in the Joint Staff area of the Pentagon, constantly monitors worldwide developments for any looming crisis that might require U.S. involvement. [30] Agencies such as the CIA and the NSA have full-time representatives there. According to James Clapper, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, "During actual crises, NMJIC serves as a clearinghouse for all requests for national-level intelligence information." [31]

The NMJIC should presumably, therefore, have been aware of the crisis on September 11 from the outset. But when Stuart called the Air Force desk there, he found that the NMJIC "had no additional relevant information" it could provide him with. [32] Furthermore, personnel in the NMJIC appear to have remained poorly informed about the unfolding emergency after Stuart contacted them, and they were even unaware that their building had been hit when it was attacked at 9:37 a.m.

Marc Garlasco, a senior intelligence analyst at the Pentagon, was in the NMJIC on September 11. Garlasco has recalled that he was in a meeting that morning and only learned of the crisis when a colleague said to him, "Oh, you know, [the World Trade Center has] been hit." He then started watching the television coverage of the crash and therefore saw Flight 175 hitting the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.

However, when the Pentagon was attacked over 30 minutes later, Garlasco was unaware that his building had been hit. The NMJIC is on the opposite side of the Pentagon to where the impact occurred, so Garlasco did not feel or hear the explosion from the attack. More significantly, considering that the NMJIC presumably had advanced capabilities and also had a key role to play during an event like 9/11, those in the center apparently were not immediately informed of the attack on the Pentagon by any other means. Garlasco has recalled that he "was really still surprised when the boys in black pajamas ran into the office with their submachine guns and screamed, 'Evacuate, we've just been hit.'" (Presumably "the boys in black pajamas" were members of the Defense Protective Service--the law enforcement agency that guards the Pentagon.) [33]

Another agency we might reasonably expect to have been following the 9/11 attacks from the outset is the National Security Agency. This is one of the facilities that David McNulty contacted in his search for information. [34]

The NSA, at Fort Meade, Maryland, is responsible for collecting and analyzing foreign communications, and protecting U.S. government communications and information systems. Author James Bamford, an expert on the agency, called it "the largest, most secret, and most advanced spy organization on the planet." In 2001, it had around 38,000 employees, which was more than the CIA and FBI combined. [35]

And yet McNulty has recalled that when he phoned the NSA's "24-hour information desk" at some time after the second plane hit the WTC, "they knew nothing more than I did." McNulty has commented, "We were all getting our information from CNN." [36]

Even Michael Hayden, the director of the NSA at the time, was unaware of the crisis when the WTC towers were hit. Hayden was in his office, holding a routine meeting with a few senior agency officials, when he received his first notification of what was happening. His executive assistant came in and told him a plane had hit the World Trade Center. [37] Hayden thought the crash was probably a "horrible accident." [38] "The immediate image I had was a light plane, off course, bad flying," he has said.

Hayden walked over to his desk, on which a television was showing the coverage of the burning WTC. Hayden "thought that was a big fire for a small plane," he has recalled. All the same, he continued with his meeting. [39] Hayden only realized the U.S. was under terrorist attack when his executive assistant came in again, shortly after 9:00 a.m., and told him about the second plane hitting the WTC. At that point, he has recalled, "it removed all doubt from me ... that this had to be an attack." [40]

The NSA's lack of awareness is particularly notable because the agency has a facility that is meant to detect when an attack is about to take place. The Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center (DEFSMAC), located in the NSA's main operations building, is intended to serve as "the nation's chief warning bell for a planned attack on America," according to Bamford.

DEFSMAC "serves as the focal point for 'all-source' intelligence--listening posts, early-warning satellites, human agents, and seismic detectors," and its analysts spend their time "closely monitoring all intercepts flooding in; examining the latest overhead photography; and analyzing data from early-warning satellites 22,300 miles above the equator." The center will then "flash the intelligence to the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, NORAD at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, and other emergency command centers."

A former NSA official explained that DEFSMAC "has all the inputs from all the assets and is a warning activity. They probably have a better feel for any worldwide threat to this country from missiles, aircraft, or overt military activities, better and more timely, at instant fingertip availability, than any group in the United States."

And yet DEFSMAC failed to pick up the signs of the 9/11 attacks. Bamford noted, "On the morning of September 11, DEFSMAC learned of the massive airborne attacks after the fact--not from America's multibillion-dollar spy satellites or its worldwide network of advanced listening posts, or its army of human spies, but from a dusty, off-the-shelf TV set."

DEFSMAC's failure would have had serious consequences. According to Bamford, "Upon receiving indicators that an attack was imminent, DEFSMAC officials would immediately send out near-real-time and in-depth, all-source intelligence alerts to almost 200 'customers,' including the White House Situation Room, the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon, the DIA Alert Center, and listening posts around the world." [41] But because DEFSMAC failed to pick up signs of the 9/11 attacks, these "customers" would have lacked the early warning the center should have provided.

While they were seeking information on the terrorist attacks, an intelligence officer at NEADS and David McNulty at Andrews Air Force Base checked the "SIPRNET." [42] This is the U.S. Department of Defense's version of the Internet, which can handle classified information, up to the secret level. [43]

The SIPRNET should have been a valuable tool for keeping military personnel updated with the latest information on the attacks. Colonel Brian Meenan, the director of the military cell at the FAA's Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, explained the benefits of his unit having a SIPRNET terminal installed shortly before 9/11. He said that having the terminal meant "we could immediately look at NORAD and [Defense Department] plans as they evolved; filter, package, and format them, then walk out to the [FAA] national operations manager--who had control of the entire national airspace system--and give him current visibility into ... fighter, tanker, and support aircraft activities." [44]

And yet McNulty was unable to find out anything more from the SIPRNET than what he had learned from television. [45] At NEADS, Mark Stuart instructed a colleague to search the SIPRNET for information relating to the attacks. But Stuart has recalled that his colleague "found none that morning or afternoon." [46]

Stuart and McNulty contacted several military units as they sought information about the attacks, but without success. McNulty called the Air Combat Command Intelligence Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, and the 609th Air Intelligence Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, but both were unable to provide him with any new information. [47] And Stuart, after contacting the NMJIC, called an intelligence officer with the 1st Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. But, Stuart has recalled, the 1st Air Force had "no further information" on the attacks. [48]

Other accounts reveal that personnel in the NORAD operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado--another key facility--were similarly unaware of what was happening. The Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center (CMOC), according to NORAD, collected data "from a worldwide system of satellites, radars, and other sensors, and processes that information on sophisticated computer systems to support critical NORAD and U.S. Space Command missions." [49] The Toronto Star reported that the center's role was "to fuse every critical piece of information NORAD has into a concise and crystalline snapshot." [50] Airman described CMOC personnel as "the eyes and ears of North America," and stated that "nothing escapes their unsleeping watch." [51]

And since NORAD is the military organization responsible for monitoring and defending U.S. airspace, we might reasonably expect personnel in its operations center to have been very much aware of the crisis taking place in the skies over America on September 11. But, as officers who were on duty in the CMOC that day have made clear, this was not the case.

Lieutenant Colonel William Glover said that the morning of September 11 was his "first time ... thinking about the fog of war, because we didn't know what was going on." [52] Lieutenant Colonel Steven Armstrong recalled that those in the CMOC "were out there in an information void, just looking for anything that we could find." [53] Armstrong said, "The majority of the information we're getting at the time is literally off the TV." [54] And Major General Rick Findley commented, "We were a little bit behind the power curve most of that morning as we were trying to figure out exactly what transpired." [55]

The evidence described above raises many questions that require serious investigation. Other facilities, besides those discussed here, were presumably in the same "information void" during the 9/11 attacks. Investigators and researchers should determine if this was the case. If it was, which facilities were affected, and what problems did they experience?

We also need to know when key facilities and agencies, such as those contacted by Mark Stuart and David McNulty, finally gained a greater awareness of the crisis and became able to make use of their own capabilities, rather than having to rely on television reports as their main source of information. And we need to determine what caused the information blackout. Have previous investigations looked into this? If so, what did they find?

If, as previously suggested, the lack of awareness within the U.S. government and military of the catastrophic events on September 11 was due to sabotage, this would have serious implications. The 19 young Arabs accused of hijacking four planes and carrying out the attacks would surely have lacked the capability to cause an information blackout across numerous intelligence facilities. Highly skilled individuals with knowledge and experience of how the military and intelligence agencies operate must presumably have been involved. If this was the case, it would mean that men who had worked for the U.S. military or U.S. intelligence agencies likely helped plan and carry out the 9/11 attacks.

[1] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart, USAF, Intelligence Officer, Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS)." 9/11 Commission, October 30, 2003; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Major David McNulty, Chief of Intelligence, 121st Fighter Squadron, Air National Guard, Andrews Air Force Base." 9/11 Commission, March 11, 2004.
[2] Michael Bronner, "9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes." Vanity Fair, August 2006; Philip Shenon, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation. New York: Twelve, 2008, p. 203.
[3] Steve Goldstein, "Focus of Training for Terrorist Attacks Has Been Chemical, Biological Warfare." Knight Ridder, September 11, 2001; "Andrews AFB, Maryland." GlobalSecurity.org, May 7, 2011.
[4] Lynn Spencer, Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama That Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11. New York: Free Press, 2008, p. 122; Andrew Wackerfuss, "'We Did What Guardsmen Always Do': The Air National Guard Responds on 9/11." New Patriot, July/August 2011.
[5] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004, p. 20.
[6] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart."
[7] Leslie Filson, Air War Over America: Sept. 11 Alters Face of Air Defense Mission. Tyndall Air Force Base, FL: 1st Air Force, 2003, p. 79; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Major David McNulty"; Lynn Spencer, Touching History, pp. 155-156.
[8] Dan Verton, Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism. Emeryville, CA: McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2003, p. 151.
[9] "Summary of Air Traffic Hijack Events: September 11, 2001." Federal Aviation Administration, September 17, 2001; "Transcript American Airlines Flight 11." New York Times, October 16, 2001; "Flight Path Study: American Airlines Flight 11." National Transportation Safety Board, February 19, 2002.
[10] Mark Clayton, "Controllers' Tale of Flight 11." Christian Science Monitor, September 13, 2001; Staff Report: The Four Flights. 9/11 Commission, August 26, 2004, p. 9.
[11] "Summary of Air Traffic Hijack Events"; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 19.
[12] "Summary of Air Traffic Hijack Events"; "Flight Path Study: American Airlines Flight 11"; "The Skies Over America: The Air Traffic Controllers on 9/11 Saw the Nightmare Coming." Dateline, NBC, September 9, 2006.
[13] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Darrel Smith." 9/11 Commission, July 13, 2004.
[14] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 5-6; Staff Report: The Four Flights, pp. 8-12.
[15] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart."
[16] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Major David McNulty."
[17] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart."
[18] United States Government Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan. Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency, January 2001, p. 20.
[19] "FBI Opens High-Tech Crisis Center." CNN, November 20, 1998.
[20] "Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC) Fact Sheet." Federal Bureau of Investigation, January 18, 2004.
[21] "FBI Opens High-Tech Crisis Center."
[22] Jim McGee, "In Federal Law Enforcement, 'All the Walls Are Down.'" Washington Post, October 14, 2001; "Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC) Fact Sheet."
[23] Ronald Kessler, The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002, p. 5.
[24] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Attorney General John D. Ashcroft." 9/11 Commission, December 17, 2003.
[25] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart."
[26] Jim McGee, "In Federal Law Enforcement, 'All the Walls Are Down'"; Garrett M. Graff, The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011, p. 317.
[27] "September 11, 2001." New Yorker, September 24, 2001; Ronald Kessler, The Bureau, pp. 419-420; Garrett M. Graff, The Threat Matrix, pp. 314-315.
[28] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Major David McNulty"; Lynn Spencer, Touching History, pp. 155-156.
[29] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart."
[30] Ernest Blazar, "Inside the Ring." Washington Times, September 25, 1997; "National Military Joint Intelligence Alert Center." Joint Chiefs of Staff, February 6, 2006.
[31] James R. Clapper Jr., "Challenging Joint Military Intelligence." Joint Force Quarterly, Spring 1994.
[32] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart."
[33] "The Pentagon on Sept. 11: One Survivor's Account." Fresh Air, NPR, May 22, 2008.
[34] Leslie Filson, Air War Over America, p. 79.
[35] James Bamford, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency. New York: Doubleday, 2001, pp. 4, 482; George Cahlink, "Breaking the Code." Government Executive, September 1, 2001.
[36] Leslie Filson, Air War Over America, p. 79; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Major David McNulty."
[37] James Bamford, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies. New York: Doubleday, 2004, pp. 18, 20; Sara Sorcher, "Former, Current Officials Reflect on Bin Laden Hunt a Decade After 9/11: Video." National Journal, September 8, 2011.
[38] Ariel Sabar, "General Goes a Little Public to Enhance Image of NSA." Baltimore Sun, April 19, 2002; "9/11 10 Years After: Interview With Andy Card; Interview With Michael Hayden." Live Event/Special, CNN, September 11, 2011.
[39] James Bamford, A Pretext for War, pp. 18, 20.
[40] Ibid., p. 33; "9/11 10 Years After: Interview With Andy Card; Interview With Michael Hayden."
[41] James Bamford, A Pretext for War, pp. 33-35.
[42] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart"; "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Major David McNulty."
[43] Lynn Spencer, Touching History, p. 155; Sharon Weinberger, "What is SIPRNET?" Popular Mechanics, December 1, 2010.
[44] William B. Scott, "Command Cells Speed Airspace Reactivation." Aviation Week & Space Technology, June 10, 2002.
[45] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Major David McNulty"; Lynn Spencer, Touching History, pp. 155-156.
[46] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart."
[47] Lynn Spencer, Touching History, pp. 155-156.
[48] "Memorandum for the Record: Interview With Lt. Col. Mark E. Stuart."
[49] "Cheyenne Mountain." North American Aerospace Defense Command, November 27, 1999.
[50] Scott Simmie, "The Scene at NORAD on Sept. 11: Playing Russian War Games ... and Then Someone Shouted to Look at the Monitor." Toronto Star, December 9, 2001.
[51] Pat McKenna, "The Border Guards." Airman, January 1996.
[52] "NORAD." The Early Edition, CBC, September 8, 2011.
[53] "In Their Own Words--NORAD Members Recall September 11, Part 3: Steve Armstrong." North American Aerospace Defense Command, September 9, 2011.
[54] Kevin Simpson, "Rearmed Forces: 9/11 Changed Military Life in Colorado." Denver Post, August 28, 2011.
[55] Steve Mertl, "Canadian General Who Led NORAD on 9/11 Praises its Performance, Considering." Canadian Press, September 10, 2006.

Yet more damning information....

Excellent article.

It is beyond the realms of the bizarre that, while all of the numerous agencies covering the areas of national security - law enforcement, intelligence and defense were clueless - "blind deaf and dumb" - despite their multibillion dollar annual budgets and state-of-the-art computer and communications facilities - while the attacks were ongoing, they made the most miraculous turn-around/"recovery". Within a few hours of such cluelessness, the identities, complete with pictures and bios, of all the alleged hijackers and the attack's "mastermind" had been released to the public and repeated ad infinitum on TV, and then shortly afterwards, 'jihadist" paraphernalia was found in a rental car (!) - amongst thousands of other vehicles - parked at Boston Logan Airport.

Quick work, huh? Yeah. Right.

Shifting versions

As it happened, the account that said the incriminating evidence was found in a rental car wound up posing problems, and underwent some subtle revisions over the following days, so that ultimately, the paraphernalia was said to have been found in Atta's luggage instead, inside the terminal at Logan. Of course, this new version likewise posed problems (what would be the point of preparing a will if we was only going to have it loaded onto a plane that he was planning on crashing into a building?)--but these are only problems if people are willing to notice and acknowledge them, which most people have not been.

Discussed here:


Beyond Bizzare

Urban Moving Systems 'employees' seemed more wise to these events unfolding than national security personnel. Evidence of Mossad involvement? I don't know, but this is a part of the 9/11 story.


Did I hear the police on the radio say,more than once, that the van exploded? I know they said there was a mural of a plane diving into Manhattan and exploding. It seems later in the transmission that they said the van exploded. The news anchors didn't say anything about the van actually exploding. I am confused and have heard this before. FYI about murals on vans: I had a job in the automotive industry for a while. A friend with a fine arts degree from a top university was making good money painting murals on vans but the work dried up. I asked him why and he said that insurance companies won't cover expensive artwork on vans anymore. Just a little factoid: so you would have to be pretty motivated to put any artwork on a van, depending on how detailed it is.

Multiple Trucks / Vans

A van was pulled over on the NJ parkway near the George Washington bridge and 2 or 3 Israelis were arrested. This van was filled with explosives. They were apparently trying to blow up the GW bridge on 9/11.

Another van or possibly a panel truck was discovered on King St. near 6th and 7th. 2 Israelis ran from the truck and were caught and taken into custody. This truck had the mural of an airplane diving into NYC and exploding. This truck (or van) was blown up, DID explode.

A van with Israelis celebrating and documenting the attacks was also seen by witnesses and approached by law enforcement. They might have been dressed as Palestinians.

CNN's Rick Sanchez and police radio reported "a van parked in the building" (WTC) or 'the adjacent area' and how, 'police found explosive devices."

I don't think there's any doubt that Urban Moving Systems was a front for Mossad and there were multiple teams out on 9/11 in trucks and vans filled with explosives. They had foreknowledge and were executing their own false flag terrorism to be blamed on Muslims.

If the 9/11 van bombers had been Palestinian.... oh my.

This video explains a lot. Imagine the crowing and back slapping in the US corporate media if those arrested for the multiple "van bombs" on 9/11 had been Palestinian, or Iraqi, or any Muslim/Arabic nation of choice? The media/FBI, Bush Administration etc. etc. would have probably dropped the 'al Qaeda and bin Laden' speculation and nailed these guys for the whole plot... the van bombs, the commandeered planes, and the explosives in the Twin Towers were obviously either part of the same plot, or intimately linked by being "accessory before the fact" to the "Twin Towers and airplanes" part.

However, *all* of the van bombers were *Israelis*.... not a single Arab or Muslim there. Hence the silence. No apologies for violating any political correctness mandate.

What puzzles me

One thing that puzzles me is why they were so readily identified as Israelis. You'd think they would have been more careful to prepare false identities. Mossad has certainly had experience at that. Were they simply expecting to be gone from the scene before any police arrived? And lacking adequate cover stories, you would expect they would have put a priority on being discreet--instead of openly rejoicing in public, as in the case of the ones watching the attacks from New Jersey.

Teflon and duplicity.

Ever heard of Teflon? It is impossible to place blame on Israel, or Israelis for any wrongdoing, and these guys probably were well aware of such. Violators are routinely accused of anti-semitism, or being Jew haters, or even Holocaust deniers. This very pervasive and powerful mechanism - a mandate for political correctness - is in place that protects the possible perpetrators of 9/11 from being even part of the discussion. Furthermore, the US public has been indoctrinated for decades by the mainstream media (including Hollywood) into the belief that all Arabs and Muslims are terrorists or some other negative descriptor. Blaming some Muslim/Arab group was pre- written into the 9/11 script, depending on how events turned out.

In the recent past, Israel:
(1) was allowed to attack the USS Liberty a US Navy ship, killing 34 and wounding 170 US service personnel - with impunity,
(2) has bombed US and UK personnel/property in the Mid East using its agents disguised as Arabs (King David Hotel and numerous others), with impunity,
(3) is permitted to develop and store a huge arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons - with impunity,
(4) has repeatedly denied access to UN and IEA inspectors of their nuclear facilities, with impunity,
(5) can flagrantly violate over 60 United Nations Security Resolutions in 50 years - with impunity,
(6) can defy the Geneva Conventions, perpetrate illegal land grabs and build illegal settlements - with impunity
(7) can perpetrates or conspire to take part in state sponsored terrorism and massacres of Palestinians in refugee camps - Sabra and Shatila for examples amongst many others - with impunity
(8) is allowed to spy on America, in the US itself - with impunity...
and more

These Mossad guys had advance warning of 9/11 - and they even *ADMITTED* to such on Israeli TV. - They were "accessory before the fact" to international terrorism and mass murder - and were let go by the US authorities. As I said in my previous post, if it happened to have been Palestinian, or Iranian (for example) people in the van bombs, the media and administration would have had a field day!

I hasten to add that I have been accused of antisemitism etc just for acknowledging certain aspects of 9/11, even on 9/11 Truth discussion forums. This just goes to show how the issue is sewn up. To illustrate, about 5 years ago, I attended a (very well attended) talk by one of the foremost luminaries of 9/11 Truth. After the event, there were a number of folk hanging out greetings, get a book signed etc. I waited my turn in line and during our brief interaction, I mentioned the white explosives-packed vans and the dancing Israelis. He listened carefully, nodding his head, obviously being very aware of all the details, then gave me this "resigned look", shook his head and said, "sorry, can't go there".

Yet they were detained

I see your point. And in view of this teflon, maybe that makes it even more surprising that the NYPD acted quickly and detained these operatives. And that as many facts as we have at our disposal became a matter of record.

Of course, one could then argue--so what? In the end, they were allowed to go back to Israel, without any further investigation; and the facts of the case can circulate all they want in the blogosphere, it won't matter so long as the major news media steer clear of them.

I'm still surprised that they didn't seem to take more precautions. But then again, in the case of the neocons in the Bush administration, I'm often inclined to argue that what strikes others as folly, recklessness, or 'bumbling' is better understood as the result of an arrogance borne of the knowledge that they are operating in a media environment in which they have every reason to expect they will never be held accountable. Perhaps the same is true of Israeli intelligence operations.


Mossad van bombs should be *on the table* and part of any list of omissions and distortions of the 9/11 CR.

I have wondered that too.....

I have seen a lot of Israeli spy movies and they always romanticize the Mossad. They had plenty of fake passports in Dubai but the whole thing was caught on tape.

Bombs in the Buildings

There were bombs in the buildings in addition to the demolitions. Vans were parked and devices planted. Who were the van bombers that morning of 9/11..... Muslims or Israelis?

"NBC Reporter, Pat Dawson:
[Albert Turi the Chief of Safety for the New York Fire Department­] received word of the possibilit­y of a secondary device, that is another bomb going off. . . . . and then an hour after the first hit, the first crash that took place, he said there was another explosion that took place in one of the towers here, so obviously according to his theory he thinks that there were actually devices that were planted in the building. . . . . . The second device, he thinks, he speculates­, was probably planted in the building."

MSNBC Reporter, Rick Sanchez:
"Police have found what they believe to be a suspicious device and they fear that it may lead to another explosion.­..I spoke with some police officials moments ago, Chris, and they told me they have reason to believe that one of the explosions at the WTC besides the ones made with the planes, may have been caused by a van that was parked on the building that may have had an explosive device in it."

War Correspond­ent, Jack Kelley:
"Apparentl­y what appears to happen was that at the same time two planes hit the building that there... that the FBI most likely thinks that there was a car or truck packed with explosives underneath the buildings which also exploded at the same time...""

Thanks so much

Thank you for 'splaining that. That is what I thought I heard both on this post and the original reporting most of which I watched. I have seen very little follow up on these memory hole kinds of things. It is kind of embarrassing when a story comes out re: 9/11 or otherwise when the "more news at 11...." promise never materializes.

Thank you

Shoestring, thanks for another good article.

More smoking gun evidence

No problem :-) Glad you liked the article, Kevin. It's yet more smoking gun evidence of official complicity in the 9/11 attacks to add to the list.

urban moving systems

i came across this at http://dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/RUMORMILLNEWS/message/41510 Well, it is time for the story of Urban Moving Systems to become as commonly
known as WTC7 and controlled demolitions to the American people. On Tuesday,
June 17, 2008 I was doing a bit of random 9/11 research and I came across a
website called FedSpending.org, after I googled 'urban moving systems'.
FedSpending.org is a project of OMB Watch, a Washington based, non-profit
citizen's watchdog group that is intended to promote government accountability
and citizen participation. All I can say is that this website has delivered, and
I was pleased to have come across this piece of internet gold with relatively
little digging: As you can see based on the government data that was released on August 28,
2007, Urban Moving Systems was awarded federal funding in the amount of $498,750
and non-federal funding in the amount of $166,250 for a total of $665,000 and
the payout date was June 22, 2001. So in other words, our government, whether
knowingly or unknowingly funded an Israeli intelligence gathering operation tied
to an FBI investigation, with American taxpayer's dollars!

(there is more to this post before the following)

-- -- -- --Urban Moving systems also received a loan from JP Morgan Bank of Houston
(i.e. Rockefellers). Date: 01/19/1999:
Source: http://www.loansenseplus.com/industries/local_trucking_with_storage.asp

van murals

seems like a decoy in a way, to have such blatant 'artistry'. establishing a storyline? how could they have hoped NOT to have been picked up??? the idea i read of the 'art students' keeping tabs on operatives seems promising. and at the time, stories of multiple bomb packed vans surely added to the fear and anxiety


Insurance that the mainstream media stick to the "official" story.

Stupid but clever..... Re: Urban Moving Vans

Perhaps by getting "caught" up front and then being summarily dismissed it would end any kind of speculation or investigation of whoever this faction is. You know how people say: "if their was a story there the press would do anything to go after it." So if the topic came up people would think: "oh, they looked into that early on and there was nothing there, otherwise why would they just let those people go."