New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Office of Emergency Management on 9/11, FBI's Response to the Attacks, Events at the Pentagon & More

From the History Commons Groups blog:

New entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, which describe many incidents relating to the 9/11 attacks, including new details of what happened on September 11, 2001, and some notable pre-9/11 events.

Fire Alarm System in WTC 7 Was on 'Test Condition'

Several new timeline entries describe incidents that occurred on September 11 in World Trade Center Building 7, a 47-story skyscraper located north of the Twin Towers that collapsed at 5:20 p.m. that day. At 8:46 a.m., when the first hijacked plane crashed into the North Tower, the electrical power in WTC 7 briefly went off for reasons that are unclear. Similarly, at 9:03 a.m., when the second hijacked plane hit the South Tower, "primary power" was lost and alarms warned that there was no water pressure in the building.

Also, for a period of eight hours, beginning at 6:47 a.m., the fire alarm system in WTC 7 was on "test condition," which meant any alarms would be ignored. The alarm system had in fact been placed on test condition every morning in the week before then. Despite being in this mode, it detected a possible fire at 10:00 a.m., although this could have been the result of dust from the collapse of the South Tower entering smoke detectors rather than an actual fire occurring in WTC 7.

Office of Emergency Management's Operations Center Was Activated

A number of entries describe the activities of New York City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which had its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on the 23rd floor of WTC 7. Shortly after the first crash occurred, the OEM activated the EOC in order to manage the city's response to the incident. Then, at some point after the second crash, OEM staffers contacted the FAA to request fighter jets and were told federal support was on the way. Later on, apparently around 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon was attacked, firefighter Timothy Brown, a supervisor at the OEM, tried calling the White House and other agencies in Washington, DC, about getting fighters to protect New York but was unable to reach them.

Additionally, at around 9:30 a.m. OEM personnel were reluctantly evacuated from the EOC following a report that more commercial planes were unaccounted for. However, shortly after the Pentagon was hit, Brown heard over his radio that a suspicious aircraft that was supposedly heading toward New York had crashed. Later in the day, the OEM set up a new EOC at the Police Academy where its personnel got to work on the logistics of the rescue operation.

FBI Sent Specialized Teams to the WTC Site

Several new entries describe actions of the FBI around the time the terrorist attacks occurred. Early in the morning of September 11, New York agent Steve Bongardt read a report, which stated that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was reopening his underground facility in Afghanistan.

Following the first attack, Barry Mawn, director of the FBI's New York office, sent specialized teams, including the Joint Terrorism Task Force, to the WTC site, even though he supposedly thought the crash was an accident. Meanwhile, at the FBI's headquarters in Washington, FBI Director Robert Mueller was alerted to the crash during his daily briefing with his senior staff, but he too did not initially realize the incident was a terrorist attack.

However, after the second hijacked plane hit the WTC, the FBI activated the Strategic Information and Operations Center at its headquarters, from where it subsequently coordinated its response to the attacks. Mueller was called from New York by Mawn, who told him fighters were needed to protect the city. And after the Pentagon was hit, nonessential employees were evacuated from the headquarters, apparently due to fears that the building could be a terrorist target.

Security Cameras Recorded the Attack on the Pentagon

A number of entries describe events at the Pentagon on September 11. Just before the headquarters of the Department of Defense was attacked, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his CIA briefer noticed a helicopter flying very close to the building, outside the window of Rumsfeld's office.

When the Pentagon was hit, two security cameras located north of the crash site captured the impact, but the video they recorded was withheld from the public until 2006. Other security cameras failed to capture the attack because they were switched off or had been taken down due to construction work that was being carried out.

At some point later on that day, Secretary of the Army Thomas White was ordered to leave the Pentagon and go to a secure location outside Washington, but the decision to send him there was then found to have been a mistake and so he subsequently returned to the Pentagon.

Other entries describe a couple of miscellaneous events from the day of 9/11. After the planes crashed into the WTC, employees at Goldman Sachs's Lower Manhattan offices were instructed to keep trading so the company could make money out of what was happening, according to a former managing director at the bank. And shortly before 10:30 a.m., during an interview with Fox News, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig suggested that al-Qaeda was behind the day's terrorist attacks, even though he also said he didn't "have inside knowledge."

Security at the WTC Was Increased Just before 9/11

Several timeline entries describe notable events that occurred before 9/11. In March 2000, an operatic version of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale was performed, which included a mock newsreel that reportedly showed the WTC being blown up. Also that month, a Justice Department lawyer wrote an analysis that, presciently, considered the legal issues involved in shooting down a commercial aircraft that was under the control of terrorists who intended to use it as a weapon.

Just two weeks before 9/11, security at the WTC was inexplicably raised. And, four days before 9/11, the radical British imam Abu Hamza al-Masri received a tip-off in a phone call from Afghanistan, which he believed was referring to an imminent attack on the United States. Then, on the evening before 9/11, stand-up comic George Carlin performed a new joke, which, ironically, was about a passenger aircraft exploding in mid-air and Osama bin Laden getting blamed for this.

Finally, a couple of new entries describe events that occurred after September 11. In the weeks following 9/11, morticians at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, found a secret note in the stomach of one of the Flight 77 passengers who died in the Pentagon attack, which the passenger wrote and then ate shortly before their death, but the morticians have refused to reveal what it says. And, as late as 2005, for reasons that are unstated, two of the planes that were hijacked and destroyed in the 9/11 attacks were still listed in the FAA's aircraft registry as "active."

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Secret note written by Flight 77 passenger was found after 9/11

This new timeline entry reveals a curious new detail about the 9/11 attacks:
(Between September 13 and September 29, 2001): Morticians Discover a Note in the Stomach of a Passenger from Flight 77
Morticians at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, find a secret note inside the stomach of one of the Flight 77 passengers who died in the Pentagon attack, which the passenger wrote and then ate shortly before they died, but the morticians will later refuse to reveal what the note says. ...

This information has come to light because bestselling thriller writer Brad Meltzer was told about it a few years ago, while he was at Dover Air Force Base conducting research for his next novel. Meltzer was not told which passenger wrote the note, but he has said he thinks that person must have been in the military, since he believes only someone with military experience would have thought to write a note and swallow it such that it might be found in his stomach after he died.

Presumably this note still exists. It would certainly be interesting, and perhaps revealing, to find out what it says.

Conflicting testimonies

"Additionally, at around 9:30 a.m. OEM personnel were reluctantly evacuated from the EOC following a report that more commercial planes were unaccounted for.

This conflicts with OEM Director Richard Scheirer's account which states the OEM was evacuated directly after the second impact upon WTC2 at 9:03.

Almost instantly after the South Tower had been hit, I contacted the EOC to confirm that air support was on its way to New York. At that time, the EOC informed me that that there were still planes unaccounted for that may have been heading for New York. I relayed this information to the command post in the North Tower lobby. At the same time, OEM evacuated the EOC. The rest of 7 World Trade Center had been evacuated earlier, but after the report of a possible third plane, we had to get our people out of the building. (Page 6)

This comports with Barry Jennings arriving upon WTC7 floor 23 and finding the OEM empty.

9:30 a.m. evacuation time is more likely

To me, the evacuation time of around 9:30 a.m. seems more likely. There are just too many witnesses who say this was when the OEM's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was evacuated. Some of these witness's accounts are included in Tricia Wachtendorf's report, "Improvising 9/11: Organizational Improvisation Following the World Trade Center Disaster."

Regarding Richard Sheirer's account, Sheirer told the 9/11 Commission the evacuation occurred "after the report of a possible third plane." According to numerous accounts, though, this report of a third suspicious plane approaching New York occurred at around 9:30 a.m., which means the evacuation would likely have occurred shortly after 9:30 a.m. See:
(9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Emergency Responders Receive False Report of a Third Plane Approaching New York

Regarding Barry Jennings's account of finding the EOC vacated before the second attack occurred, it is perhaps possible he only went to a smaller room within the EOC such as the mayor's conference room and while the main EOC was still manned, this smaller room was indeed empty. I personally think it is more likely, though, that Jennings just got his times wrong and he in fact got to the EOC after 9:30 a.m.

Closer to 9:03

Sheirer said a lot in a few short sentences:
"Almost instantly after the South Tower had been hit, I contacted the EOC to confirm that
air support was on its way to New York. At that time, the EOC informed me that that there were
still planes unaccounted for that may have been heading for New York. I relayed this
information to the command post in the North Tower lobby. At the same time, OEM evacuated
the EOC. The rest of 7 World Trade Center had been evacuated earlier, but after the report of a
possible third plane, we had to get our people out of the building."

Rotanz was the source of the third plane reported to Sheirer right after 9:03. See page 5 of this MFR

I can't see Jennings being 25 minutes off. Would security even let him go up the first time after WTC2 got hit? Maybe.

I think Jennings' second attempt with key card access assistance from security on the third floor supports the earlier time because word may not have reached third floor security that OEM was closing. They literally passed each other in the hallway, Jennings & Hess going up, OEM going down.

The question also should be asked, Who did Rotanz get the incoming planes report from? Nobody knew about AA77 and UA93 hijackings at that time. Surely no one would warn that these were threatening NYC. There was lots of air traffic in and around NY before and after 9:03. Rotanz's incoming threats were likely delayed reports about the ones that had already crashed into NYC.

[Also on page 5, there's that same "get me a helicopter to stop a speeding jet" nonsense, that we see at the Pentagon. Jeez!]

Report of third suspicious aircraft

Who did Rotanz get the incoming planes report from?

Apparently, it was someone in either the Secret Service, the FBI, or the CIA. In a speech he gave in January 2002, Rotanz said that "the CIA and Secret Service and FBI folks" in the EOC told him, "The Pentagon's been hit, there's one ditched in Pennsylvania, and I think there's one or two birds missing in the air that we can't find right now." (See p. 7 of this document:

According to a report by the Mineta Transportation Institute (p. 16), OEM personnel in fact learned about the third suspicious plane from the FAA. The report stated that when they called the FAA following the second crash, they were "warned that Kennedy Tower was reporting an unaccounted-for airplane heading for New York."

Note that the account by Rotanz I refer to above is consistent with the EOC being evacuated later than Barry Jennings and Richard Sheirer indicated. Rotanz said he headed to the Twin Towers after the first crash and was "walking through the pavilion of the World Trade Center" when the second crash occurred. He subsequently returned to the EOC and carried out a "threat analysis" with his colleagues there before the center was evacuated. If accurate, his account means the evacuation must have occurred well after 9:03 a.m.

More accounts supporting later evacuation time

Here are a couple of other accounts that confirm that the EOC was evacuated significantly later than Barry Jennings suggested:

EMT Richard Zarrillo said he was "coming over the Brooklyn Bridge was when the second plane hit the second tower." Along with his colleague Abdo Nahmod, he then "received a page [telling them] to go into OEM at No. 7 World Trade and activate our post in OEM." The two men "went into No. 7, activated OEM, placed calls to EMS Citywide, RCC, to tell them we were there and we were activated." According to Zarrillo, "Maybe five, 10 minutes, not even 10 minutes later, a rep from OEM came into the main room and said we need to evacuate the building; there's a third plane inbound." (Source:

Zarrillo's account is therefore consistent with the claim that the EOC was evacuated at around 9:30 a.m.

Nahmod has confirmed, in an article in the Journal of Emergency Services, that he and Zarrillo headed to the EOC after the second attack on the WTC and, like Zarrillo, said they were instructed to leave the EOC about 10 minutes after they arrived. (Source:, p. 42.) So his account is also consistent with the alleged 9:30 a.m. evacuation time.

Who To Believe

I guess it comes down to who we choose to believe.

I lean more towards Barry Jennings. He was sure he was inside before 9:03. I just can't see it taking him more than 25 minutes to get up into OEM. Just like in the NIST report when they claim it took him a long time to get from F23 down to F6. Not reaching F6 before 9:59. Defies logic.

The FDNY testimonies were "managed". See this one ----PDF page 8, where they tell Michael WTC7 is off limits.

But.... we still have records to obtain. Maybe the new ones will answer these vexing questions.

Watch out for CFD

George Carlin knows how to tell a joke.

Audio clip of Carlin's 9/10/2001 performance

You can listen to the section of George Carlin's performance in Las Vegas on the evening before 9/11, in which Carlin joked about a plane blowing up in mid-air and Osama bin Laden being blamed for the incident, here: (The key part of the clip starts 1 minute 30 seconds through.)

This joke was going to be used in Carlin's forthcoming TV special, which was going to be called "I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die." Pretty chilling stuff.