New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Training Exercises, NORAD's Commander on 9/11, United Airlines' Response to the Attacks, and More

From the History Commons Groups blog:

Many entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, which describe a variety of events relating to the 9/11 attacks, with numerous entries revealing new details of the events of September 11, 2001.

Training Exercises Were Held in the Run-Up to 9/11

Several new timeline entries describe training exercises that were held in the years and months before 9/11. In May 1998, an exercise was held at the Pentagon called Cloudy Office, which was based around the scenario of a terrorist attack at the Pentagon involving chemical weapons.

In February 2001, the FBI's Washington, DC, field office started sponsoring training with local fire department and law enforcement commanders on how emergency response workers and the FBI should coordinate their actions if there was a terrorist attack in the Washington area. Just two or three days before 9/11, the Washington field office and various other agencies held an exercise in Northern Virginia, based around the scenario of a terrorist attack involving chemical weapons.

And United Airlines, which had two of its planes hijacked on September 11, held a surprise exercise 12 days before 9/11 in which employees were led to believe one of their planes had crashed.

Special Forces Personnel Were Involved in Exercises on September 11

Other new entries describe exercises that were taking place when the 9/11 attacks occurred. For example, members of America's "top counterterrorism unit"--the Joint Special Operations Command--were out of the US on September 11, participating in a counterterrorism exercise in Europe called Jackal Cave. Members of the Department of Energy's Nuclear Emergency Search Team were also away from the US that day, due to their participation in this exercise.

Jackal Cave was "nested" in a larger counterterrorism exercise called Ellipse Bravo. Hundreds of US military personnel were preparing for this exercise, run by the United States European Command, when the 9/11 attacks took place.

Furthermore, members of Delta Force--the US Army's elite counterterrorist unit--who were in Europe for Jackal Cave received many false reports of attacks that had supposedly occurred and it took two days before they had an accurate picture of what actually happened in the US on September 11.

Situation Room Staffers Stayed in the White House, despite Being Advised to Evacuate

Numerous timeline entries describe other events that took place on September 11. One entry describes how Secretary of the Navy Gordon England was unable to communicate with colleagues on the ground while being flown from Texas back to Washington, after he learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Another entry describes how personnel in the White House Situation Room refused the advice they were given to evacuate and then sent out a list of their names, in case an aircraft crashed into the White House. And a communications officer in the Situation Room was unable to make contact with Air Force One as it flew President Bush from Sarasota, Florida, to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Furthermore, before Air Force One left Sarasota, NORAD personnel were told they would not need to provide fighter jets to escort the president's plane after it took off. And just before 11:00 a.m., a member of staff at NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) told someone he was talking to on the phone to keep quiet about the location of Air Force One and the fact that the plane was airborne.

Some entries describe events at United Airlines' headquarters. After he was told an American Airlines plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, Andy Studdert, United Airlines' chief operating officer, went to the airline's operations center to help respond to the incident. Then, at around 9:00 a.m., the airline's crisis center was activated and personnel responded to the attacks from there. After United Airlines learned that its aircraft, Flight 93, had been hijacked, Studdert tried to come up with a plan on how a non-pilot could land a Boeing 757, in case Flight 93's passengers and crew were able to retake control of the plane from its hijackers.

NORAD Commander Learned of the Attacks and Later Headed to His Operations Center

A few entries describe the actions of General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, on September 11. Eberhart learned of the crisis when he received a phone call at his home at around 8:45 a.m. in which he was told a plane had been hijacked and he then headed to his office at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. After he saw the second hijacked plane hitting the World Trade Center on television at 9:03 a.m., Eberhart contemplated going to NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center but he didn't head there until around 9:30 a.m.

Just after 10:00 a.m., it was reported that Eberhart had officially declared "concern" for the crisis that was taking place, thereby triggering a number of consequences. Early in the afternoon, personnel in the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center were told that a suspicious truck, or a number of trucks, carrying several Arab-looking men was heading their way, but the apparent threat turned out to be a false alarm.

Novels Were Being Written before September 11 with Plots Resembling the 9/11 Attacks

Some new entries describe miscellaneous events from the period leading up to 9/11. A couple of entries describe novels that were being written in the months before 9/11, with storylines that resembled the 9/11 attacks. Joel Rosenberg, a communications strategist, was writing a novel in which suicide terrorists attempted to crash a plane into the president's motorcade. Apparently around the same time, well-known British actor Michael Caine was writing a novel in which terrorists crashed a plane into a skyscraper, but he stopped working on it in response to the 9/11 attacks.

At some time before 9/11, the FAA's intelligence division held a conference call to examine the idea of "suicide attackers," during which an expert on the subject said a suicide attack on aviation was unlikely. However, an assessment was published on September 11, apparently by the FAA, which stated that if an aircraft hijacking took place within the US, it would be part of a suicide attack.

And around three months before 9/11, White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke gave National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice a checklist of what to do if there was a terrorist attack.

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Counterterrorism exercise in Europe on 9/11

Check out this new timeline entry:
(8:46 a.m.-9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Special Operations Personnel Are Away from the US for a Counterterrorism Exercise in Europe
Members of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)--the nation's "top counterterrorism unit"--are away from America when it comes under terrorist attack, participating in a training exercise in Hungary. ... Jackal Cave [the name of the exercise] involves participants tracking down a hypothetical hybrid force made up of terrorists and elements of international organized crime who are trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. ...

A "squadron from the US Army's Delta Force" was participating in this exercise. Delta Force is "an overseas counterterrorist unit" and its personnel "are trained in dealing with terrorist situations in buildings and hijacked aircraft, among other things."

Too bad that these units were unavailable to help when America came under attack.

False reports of attacks in the U.S.

This timeline entry is interesting too:
After 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001: Delta Force Personnel in Hungary Receive Numerous False Reports of Attacks in the US
Members of Delta Force, the US Army's elite counterterrorist unit, who are in Hungary for a training exercise receive numerous false reports of attacks that have supposedly occurred in the United States and it takes two days before they have an accurate picture of what the terrorist attacks in the US involved. ... After a time, [Delta Force officers Tom] Greer and Super D return to their tent. There, intelligence analysts post hourly updates of what has happened in the US. However, the updates include numerous reports of incidents that never occurred. ... By the morning of September 12, the updates have included reports of 13 airliners being hijacked. Of these, four airliners were supposedly shot down over land or water by American fighters while the other nine airliners supposedly hit targets in New York and Washington. Greer and his colleagues only gain an accurate picture of what the 9/11 attacks involved on September 13. ...

This is bizarre. How could the intelligence analysts have had such an inaccurate picture of what was going on in the U.S.? All they needed to do to find out what had happened was switch on a TV or a radio and check out a news report.

I wonder if the exercise the Delta Force squadron was participating in--Jackal Cave--was still going on after the U.S. came under attack and, as a consequence, the squadron was cocooned from what was happening in the real world. The "reports of 13 airliners being hijacked" could in fact have been simulated scenarios in the exercise, unrelated to the real-world attacks that had taken place.

No kidding... bizarre!


Thankyou for these updates!

I appreciate you logging & documenting research updates. Thanks for all the hard work!

Suspicious actions of United Airlines' chief operating officer

Thanks TomT!

I find this interesting too:
(9:50 a.m.-10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001: United Airlines Manager Works on a Plan to Land Flight 93
Andy Studdert, United Airlines' chief operating officer, tries to devise a plan on how a non-pilot could land a Boeing 757, in case the passengers and crew on Flight 93 are able to retake control of their plane from its hijackers. ... According to Studdert, [flight attendant Sandy] Bradshaw told the United Airlines maintenance office in San Francisco that "the crew [of Flight 93] had been killed and that the passengers and the ... remaining crew were gonna try to take the flight back." This is presumably why he works on a plan for how a non-pilot might land the plane. [Center for Values-Driven Leadership, 4/23/2012] However, the two employees Bradshaw talked to at the maintenance office will apparently contradict Studdert's account. They will tell investigators that Bradshaw said her plane had been hijacked and stated where on the plane the hijackers were, that the hijackers had said they had a bomb, had carried knives, and had attacked and killed a flight attendant. The two employees will make no mention, though, of Bradshaw saying the passengers and crew were going to try and retake control of the plane. ...

So Studdert may not actually have been notified that the passengers and crew on Flight 93 were (supposedly) planning to try and retake control of the plane at this time. Why then did he start "working on a protocol on how a non-pilot can land a 757"?

Strange stuff

Great sleuthing, Shoestring. For me, with many years in both military and commercial aviation, most of the anomalies of 9/11 and the cover up begin to clear up with a scenario similar to the one described in The alleged crew phone calls were made on the ground at Westover ANG base, MA and were scripted. The technology required to do this suggests several State + Corporate participants. Norhtwoods redo.

Authors writing novels before Sept. 11 with 9/11-like plots

Another couple of interesting new timeline entries: Just before 9/11, Oscar-winning British actor Michael Caine and Joel Rosenberg, a communications strategist with major political connections, were writing novels in which terrorists used planes as weapons.

In Caine's novel, the terrorists crashed a plane into a skyscraper in London; in Rosenberg's, terrorists tried to crash a plane into the American president's motorcade, which led to the United States launching a preemptive war against Iraq. Caine abandoned his novel in response to 9/11, whereas the publication of Rosenberg's novel was just delayed until November 2002.

Interestingly, neither of these men had written a novel before or had any previous experience of fiction writing, and yet, shortly before September 11, both of them decided to write a novel with a 9/11-like plot. Weird!
Before September 11, 2001: British Actor Michael Caine Works on a Novel with a Plot Resembling the 9/11 Attacks
Oscar-winning British actor Michael Caine starts writing a thriller novel in which terrorists deliberately crash a plane into a skyscraper in London, England, but he will stop working on it in response to the 9/11 attacks. ... The actor, who has never written a novel before, will later recall that his book is going to be a thriller about terrorism. "It's the sort of thing I read all the time," he will say. The storyline includes "an airplane crash into a skyscraper in the City [of London]," he will add. However, Caine stops writing the novel when terrorists crash planes into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. "Then it did it in real life," he will say. "So I stopped. I was quite stunned by that and I never wrote it again." ...
January-September 11, 2001: Writer Works on a Novel in Which a 9/11-Style Attack Leads to America Attacking Iraq
Joel Rosenberg, a communications strategist, writes a novel based around an attempt by suicide terrorists to crash a plane into the American president's motorcade, which leads to the United States launching a preemptive war against Iraq, but the book's publication will be delayed due to the similarity of the plot to the 9/11 attacks. ... [Rosenberg] previously worked as research director for conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh, and as chief speechwriter and policy director for publisher and former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes. He has also advised Israeli politicians Benjamin Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky. ... He has never written a novel before or taken any classes in fiction writing. "I had barely even had time to read any fiction over the previous decade," he will later comment. He had been thinking of getting out of politics, though, and decided to spend some time writing a political thriller. ... While trying to decide what his novel's storyline should be, he will recall, Rosenberg had thought "about the warnings Netanyahu had given over the past several months--and over the past several decades--that state-sponsored Middle Eastern terrorists were not content to simply target Israel but would target the West as well, and particularly the United States" (see September 1995). He went on to ponder questions like, "What if radical Islamic terrorists pulled off a major attack inside the US, such as hijacking a plane and flying it into an American city?" "Wouldn't an American president have to declare a war on terror that would target both the terrorists themselves and the states that sponsored them?" and, "Wouldn't the president have to conclude that he could no longer in good conscience leave Saddam Hussein in power with the motive, means, and opportunity to equip anti-American terrorists with weapons of mass destruction?" This analysis led him to conceive the storyline for The Last Jihad. ...

Wow! Stranger than fiction!


There's a huge irony here,

There's a huge irony here, where imaginative fiction writers had the imagination to see the potential for this to happen, yet the US administration then blamed a "failure of imagination" for not seeing the attacks coming themselves..
They then proceeded to write a fictional account of it.