United 93, 9/11 Commission â€“ Additions to the 9/11 Timeline as of September 21, 2008
About half of this week's new entries concern United Airlines Flight 93. The airline's operations centre sent a message to the plane's co-pilot some minutes before the hijacking, but received no reply; it also notified flights of a crash at the WTC around 9:03 but did not send a warning about possible hijackings at this time. The airline's dispatchers were asked to warn flights at 9:21, the same time Flight 93 sent a routine message to one of the dispatchers. A couple of minutes later, it checked in with Cleveland air traffic control; the pilots then sent their last last message at 9:27.
Learning of potential problems on board, United tried to contact the plane at 9:31, and then sent a message to all flights, including flight 93, telling them to secure their cockpits. Dispatchers learned flight 93 was heading towards Washington at 9:36 and offered assistance, and a dispatcher issued another warning about securing the cockpit at 9:40. United's attempt to implement the lockout procedure for flight 93 failed at about 9:50, at the same time a dispatcher told Flight 93 to land at the nearest airport and was informed the flight may have been hijacked.
A few minutes after it crashed, a message was sent to the plane telling it not to divert to Washington, and none of the passengers relatives went to the airport it was scheduled to arrive at in San Francisco to meet the passengers. In 2007, a German television program was denied permission to film the wreckage.
Regarding the other flights, American Airlines ordered all its flights to land immediately at 9:15, and a dispatcher notified United flights of a ground stop in New York at 9:08. United ordered no new take offs for any international flights around 9:20, and a dispatcher sent a warning to Flight 175 at 9:23, several minutes after it hit the WTC.
There are also a number of entries regarding the 9/11 Commission. Most importantly, as the commission was just beginning its work in early 2003, Executive Director Philip Zelikow had already completed an outline of its final report. Also early on in the inquiry, the commission decided it would not bother with subpoenas, which left Commissioner Max Cleland disappointed. Later on, CIA Director George Tenet heard a false rumor the commission was to call for his firing, and got White House Chief of Staff Andy Card to plead with the commissioners for his job.
Meanwhile, Zelikow awarded the contract to distribute the commission's final report to his own publisher, which could keep the profits, and had passages about Saudi government support for the hijackers deleted from the final report. Passages critical of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice were also deleted, with the help of a top Democratic staffer. Just before the report was completed, a consultant to the commission complained it was "indulgent" of senior officials, and a staff member cornered Commissioner Jamie Gorelick in the ladies room to complain about the report's lenient treatment of the FBI. Finally, the final report was savaged in a joint Harvard/MIT journal.
Miscellaneous entries cover a private pilot who penetrated Soviet air defenses in the late 1980s, and the poor security at US nuclear facilities. Finally, a Nepalese man arrested at Chicago airport had the same address as another suspected terrorist, but the FBI denied any connection, an al-Qaeda-assisted plot to bomb a UN building in Somalia failed in 1993, and mystery firefighters were seen behaving oddly inside the Pentagon on the day of 9/11.