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Context of '(9:00 a.m.-9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Chief of Naval Operations Continues with Budget Meeting while US Is Under Attack'

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The Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark, the Navy’s top officer, is in his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon for a budget meeting. Although it is clear after the second WTC tower is hit that the US is under attack, Clark apparently does nothing in response, and no attempt is made to evacuate him from the Pentagon. Reportedly, when the Pentagon is hit at 9:37, he is “receiving a budget briefing.” It is only then that a member of his staff enters his office and tells him, “You’ve got to evacuate.” Clark will then head to the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC), where he meets with other senior Department of Defense leaders, and decides to re-establish the Navy’s command center in another secure location in Washington, DC (see After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Clark later reflects, “There has never been an experience like this in my lifetime. We were thinking about the immediate protection of the United States of America.” [Sea Power, 1/2002; National Public Radio, 6/14/2007]

Entity Tags: Vern Clark

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Vern Clark.Vern Clark. [Source: US Navy]The Navy Command Center at the Pentagon is mostly destroyed when the building is hit at 9:37 a.m. [Washington Post, 1/20/2002] After the attack, the Navy’s leaders start arriving instead at the Navy’s Antiterrorist Alert Center (ATAC), which is located at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) headquarters in southeast Washington, DC. [US Department of the Navy, 2/2002 pdf file; CNN, 8/27/2002; US Naval Criminal Investigative Service, 8/22/2006] Those who arrive at the center include Admiral Vern Clark, the chief of naval operations; Admiral William Fallon, the vice chief of naval operations; Gordon England, the secretary of the Navy; and Rear Admiral Jeffrey Hathaway of the US Coast Guard, who is currently in charge of Navy Anti-Terrorism Force Protection. According to Hathaway, the NCIS headquarters is “not the official backup,” but “There was not a plan in place that if somebody flew into the Pentagon where would we take folks.” From the center, these officials are able to hold secure video-teleconferences throughout the rest of the day, and also on the following day. Eventually the Naval Operations staff will relocate to the Navy Annex, which is about a mile away from the Pentagon. This will act as their temporary base in the following weeks (see (3:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Coast Guard, 6/20/2002 pdf file; GlobalSecurity (.org), 5/7/2011]

Entity Tags: William Fallon, Vern Clark, Jeffrey Hathaway, US Department of the Navy, Gordon England

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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