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Context of '(9:41 a.m.) September 11, 2001: FBI Agent Already Aware of Flight 93 Hijacking'

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Mark Rothenberg.Mark Rothenberg. [Source: Family photo]Tom Burnett, a passenger on the hijacked Flight 93, calls his wife Deena Burnett a second time from the aircraft and is told about the planes hitting the World Trade Center. [Sacramento Bee, 9/11/2002] Deena is on the phone with an FBI agent, reporting her husband’s previous call from the plane (see 9:31 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001), when she hears her call-waiting beep. She answers her husband’s call, making a note of the time. [Newsweek, 12/3/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 109-110] Tom tells her the plane’s hijackers are “in the cockpit. The guy they knifed is dead.… I tried to help him, but I couldn’t get a pulse.” [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64] (According to journalist and author Jere Longman, Burnett is likely referring here to fellow passenger Mark Rothenberg. [Longman, 2002, pp. 107] ) Deena says: “Tom, they are hijacking planes all up and down the East coast. They are taking them and hitting designated targets. They’ve already hit both towers of the World Trade Center.” [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64] (When the FBI later interviews her (see (12:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), Deena will say it seemed her husband was already aware at this time that other flights had crashed into the WTC, although this possibility is not specifically brought up during their call. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file] ) Tom says the hijackers are “talking about crashing this plane.” He adds: “Oh my gosh! It’s a suicide mission.” Deena hears him repeating the information she has told him to other people. When she asks who this is, he tells her he is talking to his seatmate. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file; Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64] Tom wants to know if commercial aircraft have been hijacked, how many planes and which airlines are involved, and who is involved? [Longman, 2002, pp. 110] He then says: “We’re turning back toward New York. We’re going back to the World Trade Center. No, wait, we’re turning back the other way. We’re going south.” He reports: “We’re over a rural area. It’s just fields. I’ve gotta go.” He then hangs up. The call has lasted about two minutes. [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64] According to Longman, unlike his previous call, which he made using his cell phone, Tom Burnett makes this call using an Airfone. [Longman, 2002, pp. 110] But other reports will state that he makes all four of his calls from Flight 93 using his cell phone. [Associated Press, 9/13/2001; Washington Post, 4/19/2002; San Francisco Chronicle, 4/21/2002] According to notes of Deena Burnett’s later interview with the FBI, all Tom’s calls are made using his cell phone, but “one of the calls did not show on the caller identification as [Deena] was on the line with another call” when it was made. This could be referring to this second call, which occurred while Deena was on the phone with the FBI agent. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Tom Burnett, Deena Burnett, Mark Rothenberg

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

According to journalist and author Jere Longman, after her husband Tom Burnett has called her a second time from the hijacked Flight 93 (see 9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001), Deena Burnett calls the FBI again. She had previously spoken with an FBI agent after she’d called 911 following her first call from her husband (see 9:31 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). Longman provides no details of what is said during this second call to the FBI. [Longman, 2002, pp. 110-111] Deena Burnett’s account, presented in her own 2006 book, will make no mention of any call to the FBI at this time. She only says that at this time she speaks by phone with her husband’s two sisters and his parents. According to her 2006 account, Deena will not speak to the FBI a second time until around 10:00 a.m., after Tom has made his fourth and final call to her from Flight 93 (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64-65 and 68-69]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Deena Burnett

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Greg Callahan.Greg Callahan. [Source: NBC News]Newark, New Jersey, flight controller Greg Callahan is talking on the phone to an FBI agent. The agent says about Flight 93: “We suspect that this aircraft has now been taken over by hostile forces.” The agent describes the sharp turn it has made over eastern Ohio and that it is now heading back over southwestern Pennsylvania. Callahan says he could tell the plane is on a course for Washington. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] The FBI has been in contact with Deena Burnett and informed of what her husband, Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett, has been saying since at least 9:34 a.m. (see 9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001) [Longman, 2002, pp. 110] It is unclear where in the chain of command details of these Flight 93 calls reach, and the 9/11 Commission has not clarified the issue of what the FBI knew and when.

Entity Tags: Tom Burnett, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Deena Burnett, Greg Callahan

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Despite having been told by the FBI not to do so, Deena Burnett decides to speak to several groups of reporters about the four calls her husband Tom Burnett made to her from Flight 93, before it crashed in Pennsylvania. The FBI visited Deena the previous evening and, she later recalls, “told me specifically not to say anything to anyone about my cell phone conversations with Tom, especially the media, because it was part of their investigation.” [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 81] But by this morning, she will comment, “everything I would have told the media had been reported on the news by the FBI, police, and Father Frank” Colacicco, from the church where her family worships. “If they could tell their stories, I knew now I could tell mine. There would be no harm to ‘the evidence’ in answering [reporters’] questions.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/2001; Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 93-94] Throughout the day, she has six “media waves” separately come into her home to interview her. The reporters are interested in the cell phone calls she received from her husband. She recalls: “I had to be very cautious about everything I said. I didn’t want to say anything that would interfere with the FBI investigation. I verified the calls had taken place, but gave no specific information about what Tom and I had discussed.” The FBI visits Deena around 3:00 p.m. to ask some follow-up questions to their interviews with her the previous day (see (12:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). In her 2006 book, Deena Burnett makes no mention of them complaining about her having talked to the media. [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 97-104]

Entity Tags: Tom Burnett, Deena Burnett, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


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