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Context of '1993-1994: Expert Panel Predicts Terrorists Will Use Planes as Weapons on Symbolic US Targets'

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Marvin Centron.Marvin Centron. [Source: Publicity photo]An expert panel commissioned by the Pentagon in 1993 postulates that an airplane could be used as a missile to bomb national landmarks. Marvin Cetron, president of Forecasting International, a company which conducts studies for many companies and governments, writes the panel’s report. He will later recall telling the panel, “Coming down the Potomac, you could make a left turn at the Washington Monument and take out the White House, or you could make a right turn and take out the Pentagon.” [Reeve, 1999, pp. 259-260; Washington Post, 10/2/2001 pdf file] However, State Department officials edit out the planes as weapons references in the final version of the panel’s Terror 2000 Report. [United Press International, 5/17/2002] Centron later says, “We were told by the Department of Defense not to put it in… and I said, ‘It’s unclassified, everything is available.’ In addition, they said, ‘We don’t want it released, because you can’t handle a crisis before it becomes a crisis. And no one is going to believe you.’” [ABC News, 2/20/2002] Air Force Col. Doug Menarchik, who organized the study for the Pentagon, will later recall, “It was considered radical thinking, a little too scary for the times. After I left, it met a quiet death.” [Washington Post, 10/2/2001 pdf file] However, in 1994, Cetron will write in a Futurist magazine article about the report, “Targets such as the World Trade Center not only provide the requisite casualties but, because of their symbolic nature, provide more bang for the buck. In order to maximize their odds for success, terrorist groups will likely consider mounting multiple, simultaneous operations with the aim of overtaxing a government’s ability to respond, as well as demonstrating their professionalism and reach.” [Washington Post, 10/2/2001 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Doug Menarchik, Marvin Cetron, World Trade Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Peter Probst.Peter Probst. [Source: Publicity photo]The Pentagon privately publishes a report called Terror 2000. It is designed to help US intelligence prepare for new terrorism threats. Peter Probst in the Pentagon’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict supervises the report. The panel consults with 40 experts, including a top Russian intelligence official and a senior Israeli intelligence official. The report concludes that the world is witnessing the dawn of a new age of “superterrorism.” It predicts chemical and biological attacks and says that terrorists will soon try to conduct simultaneous bombings and attacks. [Reeve, 1999, pp. 259-260] Also, in contrast to the state-sponsored terrorism familiar to most Americans at the time, the report says tomorrow’s “most dangerous” terrorists would be “motivated not by political ideology but by fierce ethnic and religious hatreds.… Their goal will not be political control but utter destruction of their chosen enemies.” [Washington Post, 10/2/2001 pdf file] The report further states: “We appear to be entering an era in which few, if any, restraints will remain.… Unlike politically motivated terrorists, [religiously motivated terrorists] do not shrink from mass murder.… Mass casualties are not to be shunned… but sought because they demonstrate to unbelievers the cataclysmic nature of divine retribution.” [United Press International, 5/17/2002] It also postulates the use of planes as weapons, but this is not put in the report, partly for fear of giving potential terrorists ideas (see 1993-1994). The study is presented to officials in Congress, FEMA, the CIA, FBI, NSA, DIA, Justice Department, State Department, and senior executives from the telecommunications, banking and computer industries. State Department officials consider publicly releasing the report but ultimately decide not to. “That was a mistake,” Probst will later say. [Washington Post, 10/2/2001 pdf file; United Press International, 5/17/2002] Marvin Cetron, an expert who wrote the report, will later say, “Some of the people thought it was right on—but most of them thought it was too far out.” [Reeve, 1999, pp. 259-260]

Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, Peter Probst, Marvin Cetron

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Staff members at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) are apparently briefed on the possibility of terrorists deliberately crashing a plane into the World Trade Center. According to author Lynn Spencer, when Trey Murphy—a former US Marine who is now a weapons controller at NEADS—first sees the television footage on September 11 showing that a plane has hit the WTC, the news will bring to mind one of his briefings: “What if a terrorist flies an airplane with a weapon of mass destruction into the World Trade Center? It had always been one of the military’s big fears.… [T]he image on the [television] screen certainly reminded him of his briefing.” [Spencer, 2008, pp. 179] It is also later reported that, in the two years prior to 9/11, NORAD conducts exercises simulating terrorists crashing hijacked aircraft into targets that include the WTC (see Between September 1999 and September 10, 2001). [USA Today, 4/18/2004] Yet, in May 2002, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will claim, “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center… that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile” (see May 16, 2002). [White House, 5/16/2002] And in 2004, NORAD commander General Ralph Eberhart will say, “Regrettably, the tragic events of 9/11 were never anticipated or exercised.” [USA Today, 4/18/2004]

Entity Tags: Trey Murphy, World Trade Center, Northeast Air Defense Sector

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Doug Lair, the supervisor of EPA On Scene Coordinator Charlie Fitzsimmon, in a letter to EPA National Ombudsman Robert Martin, claims that Fitzsimmons spent only “two weeks in New York City in September” and that “he has minimal knowledge of the World Trade Center response activities conducted beyond the two weeks he spent there.” [Environmental Protection Agency National Ombudsman, 3/27/2002] This statement contradicts evidence that Fitzsimmons and another OSC were actually at the WTC site for a longer period of time (see October 5, 2001) (see October 9, 2001-October 19, 2001).

Entity Tags: Robert J. Martin, Charlie Fitzsimmons, Doug Lair

Timeline Tags: Environmental Impact of 9/11

May 30, 2002: WTC Recovery Efforts End

Recovery efforts end at the World Trade Center site. [Associated Press, 5/31/2002]

Timeline Tags: Environmental Impact of 9/11

US President George W. Bush’s brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush makes a large contribution to the Cancun World Trade talks, defending the US’s tariff on orange juice which protects Florida’s citrus industry. In 1985, the US had imported half a billion gallons of orange juice from Brazil, and 20 million gallons from the rest of the world. These figures now stand at 150 million gallons and 100 million gallons respectively as a result of the tariffs. Another Bush family member, brother Marvin Bush, may be able to explain Jeb’s interest in these subsidies—he holds 30,000 shares in a business which is directly dependent on continued Brazilian tariffs to keep its business. [Guerrilla News Network, 10/15/2003]

Entity Tags: John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush, Washington Post

Timeline Tags: US-Brazil (1961-2003)

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