!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News

Context of 'After 11:00 am August 26, 2005: Internet Weather Forums, Blogs, Begin to Buzz about Katrina’s Threat to New Orleans'

This is a scalable context timeline. It contains events related to the event After 11:00 am August 26, 2005: Internet Weather Forums, Blogs, Begin to Buzz about Katrina’s Threat to New Orleans. You can narrow or broaden the context of this timeline by adjusting the zoom level. The lower the scale, the more relevant the items on average will be, while the higher the scale, the less relevant the items, on average, will be.

A Tu-95 Bear bomber.A Tu-95 Bear bomber. [Source: Unknown]The Russian Air Force begins a major training exercise over the North Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans that is scheduled to last all week, ending on September 14, and which is being monitored by US fighter aircraft. The exercise is set to include the participation of strategic Tu-160 Blackjack, Tu-95 Bear, and Tu-22 bombers, along with IL-78 tanker aircraft. It will involve the strategic bombers staging a mock attack against NATO planes that are supposedly planning an assault on Russia, and is set to include practice missile attacks. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has sent fighter jets to Alaska and Northern Canada to monitor the Russian exercise (see September 9, 2001). [BBC, 2001, pp. 161; North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/9/2001; Washington Times, 9/11/2001] NORAD is conducting its own exercise this week called Vigilant Guardian, which, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, “postulated a bomber attack from the former Soviet Union” (see September 10, 2001, (6:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001, and (8:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 458] Major General Rick Findley, NORAD’s director of operations, will later comment that when the Russians hold an exercise, “NORAD gets involved in an exercise, just to make sure that they understand we know that they’re moving around and that they’re exercising.” [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 9/11/2002] But NORAD has stated, “[I]t is highly unlikely that Russian aircraft [participating in the exercise] would purposely violate Canadian or American airspace.” [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/9/2001] The Russians will promptly cancel their exercise on September 11, in response to the terrorist attacks in the United States (see (After 10:03 a.m.) September11, 2001). [Toronto Star, 12/9/2001; Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System, 9/8/2011]

Entity Tags: Eric A. “Rick” Findley, Russian Air Force, North American Aerospace Defense Command

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The NORAD headquarters building at Peterson Air Force Base.The NORAD headquarters building at Peterson Air Force Base. [Source: US Air Force]General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, realizes the US is under attack after he sees Flight 175 crashing into the World Trade Center on television and then considers whether he should go to NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center (CMOC). Eberhart was at his home in Colorado when he learned about the hijacking of Flight 11 and then went to his office at NORAD’s headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs (see (8:45 a.m.-9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). In his office, he sees the second hijacked plane, Flight 175, crashing into the WTC live on television at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). He is unaware that a second aircraft has been hijacked, but realizes immediately that a coordinated terrorist attack is taking place. Right away, he tries to contact General Henry Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but is unable to do so, because Shelton is currently airborne, being flown to Hungary for a NATO conference (see 7:15 a.m. September 11, 2001). Eberhart then tries contacting General Richard Myers, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and is able to reach him on Capitol Hill, where he has been meeting Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) (see (Before 9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Eberhart then focuses his attention on determining whether he should stay at NORAD headquarters or go to the CMOC, which is about 30 minutes’ drive away from Peterson Air Force Base. He initially decides to stay in his office. This, he will say, is because the CMOC is already well manned and also because there are “dead spots” in which he would be out of phone coverage for five to 10 minutes at a time during the drive to the operations center. However, Eberhart subsequently decides to go to the CMOC. He will tell the 9/11 Commission that he leaves his office to head there at approximately 9:30 a.m., during a lull in transmissions on a teleconference, which he is presumably listening to. [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004; 9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004; 9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004] He will experience problems receiving phone calls while he is traveling to the CMOC (see (Between 9:35 a.m. and 10:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Colorado Springs Gazette, 6/16/2006; Denver Post, 7/28/2006]

Entity Tags: Henry Hugh Shelton, Ralph Eberhart, Richard B. Myers

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

A sign at the entrance to Peterson Air Force Base.A sign at the entrance to Peterson Air Force Base. [Source: US National Archives]General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks briefly over the phone with General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, who updates him on what is happening and the actions NORAD is taking in response to the terrorist attacks. [Armed Forces Radio And Television Service, 10/17/2001; 9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file] Myers is on Capitol Hill, where he has been meeting with Senator Max Cleland (D-GA). He is aware of the two crashes at the World Trade Center and realizes they were terrorist attacks (see Shortly Before 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 7-9] Eberhart, meanwhile, is in his office at NORAD’s headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He, too, is aware of the crashes at the WTC and has determined that a coordinated terrorist attack is underway (see (9:03 a.m.-9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465] He called Colonel Matthew Klimow, Myers’s executive assistant, who is at the Pentagon, and said he urgently wanted to speak to the vice chairman (see (Before 9:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Klimow then called Myers and let him know that NORAD wanted to talk to him (see (Before 9:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]
Myers Has to Talk on an Unsecured Line - As Myers is coming out of Cleland’s office following his meeting with the senator, his military aide, Captain Chris Donahue, approaches him and says Eberhart is on his cell phone and wants to talk to him. “In this emergency, I had to forgo the luxury of a secure encrypted Red Switch phone and use Donahue’s cell,” Myers will later comment. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 9] Myers and Eberhart then have a “short conversation.”
Eberhart Describes the 'Confused' Situation in the Air - Eberhart updates Myers on the current situation. He says the two towers of the WTC have been hit and there are “several hijack codes in the system.” [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file] By this, he means that “the transponders in the aircraft are talking to the ground and they’re saying… ‘We’re being hijacked,’” Myers will explain. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] However, none of the pilots of the planes hijacked this morning punched the emergency four-digit code that would indicate a hijacking into their planes’ transponders (see (8:13 a.m.-9:28 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/11/2001; Newsday, 9/13/2001] It is therefore unclear what “hijack codes” Eberhart is referring to. In one interview, Myers will recall Eberhart saying that the situation in the air is “confused.” He says there are “aircraft squawking that they had been hijacked” and he is “going to land them all at the nearest suitable base to sort it out.” [American Forces Press Service, 9/9/2011] On another occasion, Myers will recall him saying, “The decision I’m going to make is, we’re going to land everybody and we’ll sort it out when we get them on the ground.” [Council on Foreign Relations, 6/29/2006]
Eberhart and Myers Don't Discuss 'Rules of Engagement' - Eberhart says NORAD has scrambled fighter jets in response to the hijackings (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 9:24 a.m. September 11, 2001). However, the two men do not discuss the issue of “rules of engagement” for the fighter pilots during this conversation. Indeed, Myers makes no decisions and takes no action at this time. Instead, Eberhart does most of the talking. Myers will recall that he “mainly listened” during the call. He tells Eberhart he needs to get to the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon because he cannot communicate from a cell phone, presumably referring to the fact that it is an unsecured line. “I’m going to head back to the Pentagon. I’ll talk to you there,” he says. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file] “Get back to the Pentagon,” Eberhart tells him. [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004]
Call Occurs before 9:30 a.m. - The time when this call occurs is unclear. At some time after talking to Myers, Eberhart will head out to NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center (see (Between 9:35 a.m. and 10:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). He will estimate that he leaves Peterson Air Force Base at “approximately” 9:30 a.m. If correct, this would mean the call occurs before 9:30 a.m. [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004] Myers, meanwhile, will be vague about when it occurs, telling the 9/11 Commission only that it takes place after the second crash at the WTC, sometime between 9:03 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Furthermore, while Klimow’s account of this morning’s events will imply that it occurs after Klimow called the vice chairman and let him know that NORAD wanted to talk to him, in his 2009 memoir, Myers will describe talking to Eberhart before he receives the call from Klimow. [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 9; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Myers will subsequently head back to the Pentagon. [Council on Foreign Relations, 6/29/2006] He does so “immediately” after talking to Eberhart, he will say. [Armed Forces Radio And Television Service, 10/17/2001] He will learn about the attack on the Pentagon, which occurs at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001), around the time he is leaving the building and getting into his car on Capitol Hill (see Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Chris Donahue, Ralph Eberhart, Richard B. Myers, North American Aerospace Defense Command

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

In the middle of the 9/11 attacks, General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, drives from his NORAD headquarters office at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado to the NORAD operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, about a dozen miles away. The journey reportedly takes him 45 minutes and en route he loses a cell phone call with Vice President Cheney. The reason he makes this journey is unknown, though it is reported that there are superior communications capabilities available at Cheyenne Mountain. [Colorado Springs Gazette, 6/16/2006; Denver Post, 7/28/2006; Washington Post, 7/29/2006] The exact times when Eberhart departs Peterson AFB and arrives at Cheyenne Mountain are unclear. General Richard Myers says that Eberhart phones him from Peterson either just before or just after the Pentagon is hit, which suggests that Eberhart heads out some time between 9:35 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. [Armed Forces Radio And Television Service, 10/17/2001; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Eberhart tells the 9/11 Commission that when he arrives at the NORAD operations center, the order to shoot down hijacked aircraft has already been passed down NORAD’s chain of command. According to the commission’s timeline, this would indicate he arrives after 10:31 a.m. (see 10:31 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 42] Yet other reports state that the massive blast doors to Cheyenne Mountain are shut at around 10:15 a.m. (see (10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001), which suggests that Eberhart arrives earlier.

Entity Tags: Ralph Eberhart

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon commences an “air threat conference” at 9:37 a.m. in response to the terrorist attacks, which will last for more than eight hours and have numerous high-level government and military officials participating at various times.
NORAD Reports Two More Hijackings - Captain Charles Leidig opens the call at 9:39 a.m. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37-38] As the acting deputy director for operations (DDO) in the NMCC during the attacks, Leidig is responsible for moderating the air threat conference and generating a military response to the crisis. [9/11 Commission, 4/29/2004 pdf file] He begins the call saying: “An air attack against North America may be in progress. NORAD, what’s the situation?” NORAD says it has conflicting reports, and its latest information is of “a possible hijacked aircraft taking off out of JFK [International Airport in New York], en route to Washington, DC.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38] NORAD says the FAA has also passed it information about a second additional hijacking. Major Charles Chambers, who is currently on duty in the NMCC, will later recall, “This was probably a communications mix-up, but we all thought for a while that there were a total of five hijackings.” [US Department of Defense, 9/2001]
NMCC Reports Pentagon Attack - The NMCC reports that there has been a crash into the mall side of the Pentagon and requests that the secretary of defense be added to the conference. (However, despite being in the Pentagon when it is hit, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will not enter the NMCC and join the air threat conference until around 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001).) [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38] The air threat conference is broadcast over a loudspeaker inside the NMCC. [US News and World Report, 8/31/2003] According to Chambers, “Questions were flying left and right on the conference, and trying to keep things straight was very difficult.” [US Department of Defense, 9/2001]
NORAD Recommended Air Threat Conference - Leidig and Commander Pat Gardner, the assistant DDO, had earlier on decided to convene an all-purpose “significant event conference” in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. That call commenced at 9:29 a.m. (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). NORAD had recommended that it be reconvened as an air threat conference. [9/11 Commission, 4/29/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37] According to Chambers, an air threat conference is used when aircraft are considered to be hostile and involves many more people than are in a significant event conference, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of defense, and officials from the White House. [US Department of Defense, 9/2001] However, Leidig thought a significant event conference was the correct kind of call for the situation. He will tell the 9/11 Commission that an air threat conference “had Cold War implications and brought a different group of people to a conference.” [9/11 Commission, 4/29/2004 pdf file] Gardner will say that threat conferences are intended for dealing with external threats. [9/11 Commission, 5/12/2004]
Deputy Director Ordered Upgrading of Conference - All the same, Leidig gave the order to transition to an air threat conference. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37] He will tell the 9/11 Commission that, in retrospect, the reason he thinks he did so “was because he perceived an air threat at that time.” [9/11 Commission, 4/29/2004 pdf file] Therefore, the significant event conference was brought to an end at around 9:34 a.m., and resumes as an air threat conference three minutes later. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37] Staff Sergeant Val Harrison could have established the air threat conference either by leaving all of those participating in the significant event conference on the line and then adding new participants one at a time, or by simply hanging up on everyone in the significant event conference and then having the computer do a mass dialing. Harrison recommended the second option. Leidig had agreed, and directed her to disconnect the conference call and start over.
Problem with Connecting Some Agencies - As happened with the significant event conference, there are problems connecting several agencies to the air threat conference. [US Department of Defense, 9/2001] Despite repeated attempts, operators struggle to get the FAA connected (see (9:29 a.m.-12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001), and it will take until 10:17 a.m. for an FAA representative to finally join the call (see 10:17 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/21/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37] Other agencies had not understood what Leidig meant about convening the new conference, and so did not hang up their phones when the NMCC disconnected the previous conference call. As a result, all the NMCC got from them was a busy signal over the line. Chambers will recall, “As with the [significant event conference], it took longer than expected to convene the [air threat conference].” [US Department of Defense, 9/2001]
Top Officials Participate - Throughout the more than eight hours the air threat conference is running for, numerous key officials will participate in it at various times, including President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, military personnel from the Presidential Emergency Operations Center below the White House, and the president’s military aide on Air Force One. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37] Brigadier General Montague Winfield, the original DDO, who had Leidig take his place so he could attend a pre-scheduled meeting (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001), will later recall, “All of the governmental agencies… that were involved in any activity that was going on in the United States… were in that conference.” [ABC News, 9/11/2002]
Winfield Runs Conference after Returning to Post - Winfield will take over the running of the air threat conference from Leidig after returning to his post at around 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/4/2002; 9/11 Commission, 4/29/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] But although NMCC conference calls are moderated by the DDO, Rumsfeld will use the DDO’s phone to participate in the air threat conference, meaning that Winfield is unable to moderate the conference when the defense secretary is participating. [9/11 Commission, 7/21/2003 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Charles Leidig, Federal Aviation Administration, Montague Winfield, Charles Chambers, Patrick Gardner, North American Aerospace Defense Command, National Military Command Center, Val Harrison

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The Dirksen Senate Office Building, where Max Cleland’s office was located.The Dirksen Senate Office Building, where Max Cleland’s office was located. [Source: Senate Photography Studio]General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is notified that the Pentagon has been attacked as he is leaving one of the Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill, on his way back there. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; American Forces Press Service, 9/9/2011] Myers has been on Capitol Hill for a meeting with Senator Max Cleland (D-GA). He is aware of the crashes at the World Trade Center and realizes they were terrorist attacks (see Shortly Before 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 7-9] Colonel Matthew Klimow, his executive assistant, called him from the Pentagon and advised him to return to the Pentagon (see (Before 9:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 9; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] He has also talked over the phone with General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, and Eberhart, too, told him to “get back to the Pentagon” (see (Before 9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004] As Myers is heading back to the Pentagon, he learns about the attack there, which occurred at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). It is unclear who tells him what happened. He will later recall, in some accounts, being told about the attack by a man he will refer to as his “security guy” or his “security officer.” But he will tell one interviewer that he learns of it from his driver, Dan Downey. He is told: “Sir, just got a call from the office. The Pentagon’s been hit.” He is apparently provided with no details of what the attack involved. [Council on Foreign Relations, 6/29/2006; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 9; Radio America, 4/14/2009] The exact time when this occurs is unclear. Myers will tell NBC News that he learns of the Pentagon attack “as we’re leaving the building” on Capitol Hill. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] In a radio interview, he will say he learns of it “as I get ready to go to my car and leave Capitol Hill.” [Radio America, 4/14/2009] But he will tell the 9/11 Commission that he receives word of it “as he [is] getting into his car.” [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file] And in his 2009 memoir, he will recall learning of it during the drive back to the Pentagon, “[a]s we raced away from Capitol Hill.” He will immediately call Klimow and receive confirmation from him that an attack occurred at the Pentagon (see (Before 9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 9; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, Dan Downey

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The NORAD representative on the air threat conference call reports that NORAD has yet to give an assessment for the crisis that is taking place and adds that General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, has not yet declared the situation an air defense emergency. [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file] The National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon has just started an air threat conference call in response to the terrorist attacks (see 9:37 a.m.-9:39 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37] A NORAD representative, in their first communication over the conference call, states: “No assessment has been given for this event at this point. No assessment for the overall air situation has been given at this point.” The representative adds that “CINC NORAD”—meaning Eberhart, the commander in chief of NORAD—“is not declaring [an] air defense emergency at this point.” [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file] An “air defense emergency” is defined by the US government as an “emergency condition which exists when attack upon the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, or US installations in Greenland by hostile aircraft or missiles is considered probable, is imminent, or is taking place.” [US Government, 7/1/2003] British online publication The Register will later comment that this definition “sums up the tragic events of [September 11] fairly well.” The declaration of an air defense emergency, according to The Register, “invokes a regulatory scheme known as Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids (SCATANA).” [Register, 9/17/2001] SCATANA is a procedure, developed in the 1960s, that was originally intended to clear the airspace above the US in the event of a confirmed warning of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. [Schwartz, 1998; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/2001] Eberhart will order a limited version of it later in the day, apparently around 11:00 a.m. (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Eberhart was at NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, when the attacks began, but at some point headed out to the NORAD operations center in Cheyenne Mountain (see (Between 9:35 a.m. and 10:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004 pdf file; Colorado Springs Gazette, 6/16/2006; Denver Post, 7/28/2006]

Entity Tags: Ralph Eberhart, North American Aerospace Defense Command

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

According to his own account, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is informed that President Bush has authorized the military to shoot down threatening aircraft. Clarke had requested that this authorization be given at around 9:36 (see (Between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). In his 2004 book Against all Enemies he will state that he receives a response shortly after the time people begin rapidly evacuating from the White House, and while Air Force One is getting ready to take off. This would therefore be sometime between 9:45 and 9:56. He gets a phone call from the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, where Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice are located. On the other end is Army Major Mike Fenzel. Fenzel tells Clarke: “Air Force One is getting ready to take off, with some press still on board. He’ll divert to an air base. Fighter escort is authorized. And… tell the Pentagon they have authority from the president to shoot down hostile aircraft, repeat, they have authority to shoot down hostile aircraft.” Clarke replies, “Roger that.” In his recollection of this call, Clarke comments, “I was amazed at the speed of the decisions coming from Cheney and, through him, from Bush.” Clarke then gets the attention of those on the video conference screen for the Pentagon, and informs them, “the president has ordered the use of force against aircraft deemed to be hostile.” [CNN, 9/12/2001; Clarke, 2004, pp. 7-8] This description contradicts several other accounts of when the president gives the shootdown authorization. In late 2003, Clarke tells ABC News he gets the go-ahead from the vice president “within two minutes” after he requested shootdown authorization, meaning therefore around 9:37-9:38 (see (9:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [ABC News, 11/29/2003] Some accounts say that Bush gives the authorization later, at shortly after 9:56 (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Sammon, 2002, pp. 102; Washington Post, 1/27/2002] According to the 9/11 Commission, it is not given until around 10:18 (see 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41]

Entity Tags: Mike Fenzel, Richard A. Clarke

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s office, and acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers’ office, report to the NMCC teleconference that they are still trying to track down Rumsfeld and Myers, respectively, and bring them into the conference. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld is apparently outside the Pentagon looking at the Flight 77 crash site (see Between 9:38 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. September 11, 2001), though counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke suggests Rumsfeld is elsewhere in the Pentagon for much of the time (see (Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Myers’ whereabouts in the period after the Pentagon crash have not been fully explained (see (9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Rumsfeld and Myers do not enter the NMCC until about 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, National Military Command Center, Richard B. Myers

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers wants clear rules of engagement for military fighter pilots, according to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke. In his book Against All Enemies, Clarke will describe hearing that the president has authorized the military to shoot down hostile aircraft some time between about 9:45 and 9:56 (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). From the White House Situation Room, where he is located, he then gets the attention of those on the video conference screen for the Pentagon, and informs them of this decision. Myers asks, “Okay, shoot down aircraft, but what are the ROE [rules of engagement]?” As Clarke will comment, “It was one thing to say it’s okay to shoot down a hijacked aircraft threatening to kill people on the ground, but we needed to give pilots more specific guidelines than that.” Clarke asks his colleague Franklin Miller and Marine Colonel Tom Greenwood—a member of Miller’s staff—to ensure that the Defense Department has “an answer to that question quickly.” He tells them, “I don’t want them delaying while they lawyer that to death.” Clarke recalls that he is then informed: “CNN says car bomb at the State Department. Fire on the Mall near the Capitol.” [Clarke, 2004, pp. 8-9] It is therefore unclear exactly what time he is describing, as CNN first makes the incorrect report of the State Department car bomb at 10:33, but it reports the fire on the Mall at 9:45. [CNN, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/11/2001; Broadcasting and Cable, 8/26/2002] Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will tell the 9/11 Commission that he works on fashioning the rules of engagement for fighter pilots, in collaboration with Myers, after he enters the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) at around 10:30 (see (10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004 pdf file] Yet he does not complete and issue these rules until 1:00 p.m. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465; Cockburn, 2007, pp. 7; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 157-158]

Entity Tags: Tom Greenwood, Richard B. Myers, Franklin Miller, Richard A. Clarke

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

An air traffic controller at the FAA’s Cleveland Center enters a new flight plan for Flight 93 into the FAA computer system, giving a new destination of Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. Flight 93 is currently flying in the airspace covered by the Cleveland Center’s Imperial Sector radar position, which is being managed by controller Linda Justice. [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/11/2001; St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/2001; 9/11 Commission, 10/2/2003 pdf file; Lynn Spencer, 2008]
Controller Enters New Flight Plan for Flight 93 - Justice changes the flight’s destination code from “SFO,” the code for San Francisco International Airport, to “DCA,” the code for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/2001] An FAA chronology will specify that she changes the flight plan “direct HGR [the code for Hagerstown Regional Airport in Maryland] to DCA.” [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/11/2001] Another FAA chronology will similarly state that Justice reroutes Flight 93 “direct to Hagerstown direct to Washington National.” [Federal Aviation Administration, 12/6/2001] Flight 93’s tag therefore now reads, “Hagerstown—National,” according to Justice. [9/11 Commission, 10/2/2003 pdf file]
New Flight Plan Not Due to Communication with Pilot - The reason Justice enters a new flight plan for Flight 93 is unclear. A minute earlier, the hijacker pilot on Flight 93 reprogrammed the plane’s navigational system for the new destination of Reagan Airport (see 9:55 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Longman, 2002, pp. 182; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 457] And according to the St. Petersburg Times, controllers typically only change a plane’s destination when this is requested by the pilots. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/2001] But one of the FAA chronologies will state that Justice’s change to the flight plan is “not a result of any communication with the pilot.” [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/11/2001]
Flight Plan Changed to Aid Handoff to Washington Controllers - Justice will later explain why she changes the flight plan. She will state that Flight 93 appears to be heading toward the airspace of the FAA’s Washington Center, and so, in “an attempt to expedite the situation,” she enters the change of routing to reflect Hagerstown Airport to Reagan Airport. She will say she does this “only to forward [the] information [about Flight 93] to the sectors the aircraft appeared to be tracking toward.” [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/12/2001 pdf file] Justice will tell the 9/11 Commission that she changes the routing when she sees Flight 93 is heading eastbound. She will say, “The easiest way to do a handoff is to change the flight plan,” and also say she changes the flight plan “to show that Washington Center was the recipient.” According to Justice, the “controversial step” she takes is “putting in Hagerstown, because the misconception was that she had communicated with the plane and cleared it through.” [9/11 Commission, 10/2/2003 pdf file] John Werth, another controller at the Cleveland Center, will tell the 9/11 Commission that Justice enters the new destination for Flight 93 “because she knew it would be easier to track the primary [radar track for the aircraft] when the computer has a flight plan to work with.” [9/11 Commission, 10/1/2003 pdf file] After changing the flight plan, Justice calls the Potomac Sector radar position at the Washington Center and tells the controller there to “pull up the data block” for Flight 93. Justice will say it is clear to the Washington Center controller that she has created the new destination in order to make it easier to locate the plane. [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/12/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 10/2/2003 pdf file]
New Flight Plan Causes False Reports of Plane Approaching Washington - According to author Lynn Spencer, the new flight plan creates a “coast track” of Flight 93 on the traffic situation displays at air traffic control facilities. “A coast track,” Spencer will write, “differs from a radar track in that it is not supported by radar returns but rather by a computer-generated, projected course for the flight. Although this track did not appear on controller radar screens, its presence on their [traffic situation displays] allowed Washington controllers to monitor the flight’s progression toward Washington.” According to Spencer, the presence of this coast track leads to incorrect reports of an aircraft approaching Washington in the minutes after Flight 93 crashes. She will write, “A controller in Washington, unaware that the flight had crashed, was calling position reports for the coast track of United 93 to the White House (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001)… as well as the FBI at the Pentagon (where firefighters were evacuated and the firefight suspended in anticipation of a second impact)” (see (10:15 a.m.-10:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Lynn Spencer, 2008]

Entity Tags: John Werth, Linda Justice, Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center, Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrives at the Pentagon and then heads to the National Military Command Center (NMCC) there. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 151; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Myers learned of the crashes at the World Trade Center while he was on Capitol Hill for a meeting with Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) (see Shortly Before 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and he learned of the Pentagon attack as he was making his way back to the Pentagon (see Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; Council on Foreign Relations, 6/29/2006; American Forces Press Service, 9/9/2011] He talked over the phone with Colonel Matthew Klimow, his executive assistant, as he was being driven to the Pentagon and Klimow then went to the Pentagon’s River Entrance to wait for him to arrive (see (Before 9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 9-11; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]
Myers Talks to the Deputy Defense Secretary - Myers’s car now pulls up outside the Pentagon and Myers jumps from it. The steps of the River Entrance are crowded with men and women who have evacuated the building, and Klimow is waiting calmly near the door. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 151] Before entering the Pentagon, Myers stops briefly to speak to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who was evacuated from the building after it was attacked (see After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [PBS Frontline, 4/22/2002; 9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004 pdf file] He then grabs Klimow by the arm and the two men make their way through the many Pentagon employees streaming out of the building as they head for the NMCC. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 151; American Forces Press Service, 9/9/2011; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]
Myers Wants to Quickly Get to the Command Center - In the event of an attack, procedures require the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to go to Site R, an alternate military command center outside Washington, DC, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff maintains command at the NMCC. However, since General Henry Shelton, the chairman, is currently out of the country, flying to Europe for a NATO meeting (see 7:15 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (8:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001), Myers is designated acting chairman until he has returned to the United States. Consequently, “my command post had to be in the burning Pentagon,” Myers will later note. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 10] “I wanted to get [to] the National Military Command Center as soon as I could,” he will recall. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] He and Klimow head up some stairs, and at the top are confronted by two security officers who try to stop them. “I’m sorry, General, we have orders to keep everybody out; the building’s not safe,” one of them says. However, Myers and Klimow ignore them. They push past the two security officers, and continue on their way to the inner rings of the Pentagon and the NMCC. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] They will reach the NMCC at around 9:58 a.m. (see (9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38]

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, Paul Wolfowitz, Matthew S. Klimow

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

The Current Actions Center.The Current Actions Center. [Source: Federation of American Scientists]General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrives at the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon and starts participating in the conference call being conducted from there. [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 151-152] Myers recently arrived at the Pentagon following a meeting on Capitol Hill (see (Shortly Before 9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; American Forces Press Service, 9/8/2006] He joined Colonel Matthew Klimow, his executive assistant, at the River Entrance and the two men then headed to the NMCC. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 151; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] The NMCC is the US military’s “worldwide monitoring, crisis response center,” according to Myers. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004 pdf file] It is “a communications hub, a switchboard connecting the Pentagon, the civilian government, and the combatant commanders,” he will later write. Klimow will call it “the nerve center of the Pentagon.” It includes the large Current Actions Center (CAC), which is filled with computer cubicles.
Myers Goes to the Deputy Director's Office - When Myers and Klimow arrive at the NMCC, they find “soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines” sitting at “their consoles, their telephones, and their computers, manning communication links around the world.” They head to the deputy director for operations’ office, located at one end of the CAC. This small, windowless room, also known as the “DDO shack,” has several desks, a conference table, and lots of telephones. It is where the 24-hour watch takes place and is “the heart of the NMCC,” according to Klimow. In it, Captain Charles Leidig, the acting deputy director for operations, is participating in a conference call. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 151-152; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] This conference call commenced at 9:29 a.m. as a “significant event conference” (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001) but was upgraded to an “air threat conference” at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m.-9:39 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37] It links the NMCC to NORAD, the White House, and other agencies. [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 152]
Myers Is Concerned about What Could Happen Next - After arriving in the NMCC, Myers wants to gain “situational awareness.” His first thought is, “What’s next?” [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file; American Forces Press Service, 9/8/2006] One of his priorities is “looking ahead and giving strategic guidance to make sure we were prepared to handle whatever came next,” he will recall. “We didn’t know at that time if we were in the middle of a several-day long attack, what kind of attacks could come next, or who and what might be targeted,” he will add. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004 pdf file]
Myers Discusses Evacuating the Sears Tower - The exact time when Myers reaches the NMCC is unclear. He will estimate that he arrives there between 10:00 a.m. and 10:10 a.m. when he is interviewed by the 9/11 Commission in 2004. [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file] However, the 9/11 Commission will conclude that he joins the air threat conference being run from there shortly before 10:00 a.m. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38] And evidence will indicate that he in fact reaches the NMCC at around 9:58 a.m. or shortly before then. Leidig will tell the 9/11 Commission that he is “certain that the vice chairman was in the room” when the “Sears Tower issue” was discussed over the air threat conference. He will say he recalls telling Myers there is a recommendation to evacuate the Sears Tower, and Myers saying in response that this is a good idea and the military supports it. [9/11 Commission, 4/29/2004 pdf file] The discussion Leidig will be referring to is apparently one that occurs at 9:58 a.m. At that time, he is recorded saying over the air threat conference, “The vice chairman recommends evacuating [the] Chicago Tower [i.e. the Sears Tower in Chicago] based on the flight plan of one of the possible hijacked aircraft.” [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file] However, after spending only a short time in the NMCC, Myers will leave there in order to search for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (see (9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 152]

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, Charles Leidig, Matthew S. Klimow, National Military Command Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, leaves the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon shortly after arriving there to look for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but is unable to find him. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 151-152] Myers recently arrived at the Pentagon following a meeting on Capitol Hill (see (Shortly Before 9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; American Forces Press Service, 9/8/2006] Once there, he headed to the NMCC and reached it at around 9:58 a.m. (see (9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]
Myers Leaves the Command Center - A conference call is being conducted from the NMCC linking the command center to NORAD and the White House, among others (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 9:37 a.m.-9:39 a.m. September 11, 2001). Myers is content that Captain Charles Leidig, the acting deputy director for operations in the NMCC, who convened the conference call, is “doing a good job of managing the information flow and keeping the chain of command plugged in,” he will later recall. He therefore decides to leave the command center to look for Rumsfeld. He will recall seeing the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center on television as he is heading out. This means he leaves the NMCC at around 9:59 a.m., when the collapse occurs (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001)—possibly as little as a minute after he arrived there.
Myers Learns that Rumsfeld Is Outside - Myers heads toward Rumsfeld’s office, on the third floor of the E Ring—the outer ring of the Pentagon. He finds thickening smoke in the E Ring corridor and conditions almost as bad in Rumsfeld’s office suite. He talks to one of Rumsfeld’s aides who tells him the secretary of defense is outside, helping the wounded. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 152] Although Rumsfeld was in his office earlier on, he headed outside immediately after the Pentagon was attacked (see 9:38 a.m. September 11, 2001) and went to the crash site, where he helped carry an injured victim on a stretcher (see Between 9:38 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 37; Cockburn, 2007, pp. 1-2; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 130] Since the secretary of defense is not around, Myers leaves word that he is returning to the NMCC and then makes his way back to the command center. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 152-153]
Myers Will Rejoin the Conference Call - The length of time he spends away from the NMCC is unclear. However, he will be back there by 10:17 a.m. At that time, Leidig will state over the conference call that the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “would like to know who’s controlling the aircraft over Washington, DC.” [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file] Rumsfeld will arrive at the NMCC and start participating in the conference call at around 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/4/2002; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 131] After then, he and the vice chairman “stayed joined the rest of the day together,” Myers will recall. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, Donald Rumsfeld, Charles Leidig

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asks Colonel Matthew Klimow, his executive assistant, to check that the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) has been launched in response to the terrorist attacks. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 153-154] Myers arrived at the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon with Klimow at around 9:58 a.m. and then joined the air threat conference (see (9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38] At 9:59 a.m., an Air Force officer at the White House stated over the air threat conference that Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had requested the implementation of “Continuity of Government” (COG) measures (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001). These measures are meant to be taken “only in the gravest of emergencies,” Myers will later note, “and most recently had been expected to meet the Cold War threat of nuclear attack.”
Assistant Is Told to Verify that the NAOC Is Airborne - One aspect of the government’s COG plan is launching the NAOC. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 153] The NAOC is a militarized version of a Boeing 747 that is intended to provide the president, secretary of defense, and Joint Chiefs of Staff with an airborne command center that could be used to execute war plans and coordinate government operations during a national emergency. The Joint Chiefs of Staff is responsible for directing NAOC operations. [Federation of American Scientists, 4/23/2000; Verton, 2003, pp. 143; United States Air Force, 8/2007] “Some in Washington considered it an expensive, unnecessary relic of the Cold War, but with the capital itself now under imminent threat, it was clear that NAOC was still a useful part of the inventory,” Myers will comment. In response to Hadley’s request, therefore, he asks Klimow to verify that the NAOC is airborne, according to his own recollection. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 154] Klimow, though, will give a slightly different account, recalling that Myers turns to him and says, “Call Strategic Command and have him scramble the NAOC.” [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]
NAOC Planes Were Involved in an Exercise - The US military in fact possesses four NAOC planes and three of them are already airborne. Two of them took off from Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, DC, at 9:27 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. (see (9:27 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and the third took off from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio minutes after the Pentagon attack, which occurred at 9:37 a.m. (see Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Federation of American Scientists, 4/23/2000; Federal Aviation Administration, 9/11/2001 pdf file; Dayton Daily News, 9/12/2001; 9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004] Furthermore, while Myers will imply that the NAOC was launched as part of COG measures, according to the Omaha World-Herald, the three aircraft took off because they were being used in a major training exercise called Global Guardian, which was being conducted by the US Strategic Command this morning (see Before 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/2002] The exact time when Myers talks about the NAOC with Klimow is unclear. However, he apparently does so before 10:28 a.m., since, in his 2009 memoir, he will place the conversation before he sees the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsing on television, and the collapse occurs at 10:28 a.m. (see 10:28 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 154]

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, E-4B National Airborne Operations Center, Continuity of Government, Matthew S. Klimow, Stephen J. Hadley

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

General Henry Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks over the phone with General Richard Myers, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is at the Pentagon, and is given information about the Pentagon attack and the military’s response to the terrorist attacks. Shelton took off at 7:15 a.m. to fly to Europe for a NATO conference (see 7:15 a.m. September 11, 2001). He learned of the attacks in New York while his plane was over the Atlantic Ocean, and has just been told of a “big explosion at the Pentagon” (see (8:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
First Report Is of a Hand Grenade Going Off at Pentagon - Shelton heads to the communications console just behind the plane’s cockpit. From there, he talks over a secure, encrypted phone line with Myers, who is in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon. Myers updates Shelton on what is known about the explosion at the Pentagon. He says the first report is that a hand grenade went off in the Pentagon parking lot.
Myers Updates Shelton on Military Response to Attacks - Myers then gives Shelton a complete status report. He says: “We’ve transitioned the SIEC [significant event conference] into an air threat conference call, which is in progress as we speak (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 9:37 a.m.-9:39 a.m. September 11, 2001). FAA has requested that NORAD take over control of US airspace. Fighters have scrambled to escort Air Force One (see (After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and we’re sending AWACS up to provide further monitoring (see Before 9:55 a.m. September 11, 2001). We’ve escalated to Threatcon Delta and are about to launch the NAOC [National Airborne Operations Center plane]. Bases around the world are locked tight, [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz has been relocated to Site R (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001), plus, [Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen] Hadley has requested we implement full ‘Continuity of Government measures’ (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001), and we are proceeding along those lines.”
Myers Says Plane Hit the Pentagon - Myers is then interrupted by some commotion in the background. When he returns to the line, he tells Shelton, “Okay, we just got the word: the prior report was incorrect; it was not a hand grenade that exploded, it was another commercial airline that struck the Pentagon.” He then continues with his status report, saying, “[P]er the president, we’ve gone weapons free in the event of a hijacked aircraft or one that threatens the White House.” [Giesemann, 2008, pp. 20, 22-24; Shelton, Levinson, and McConnell, 2010, pp. 430-433]
Shelton Wants to Return to Washington - Myers will tell the 9/11 Commission that after he arrives at the NMCC—presumably referring to the time of this phone call—he “recommended General Shelton return to Washington, DC.” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004 pdf file] But Shelton will recall that he tells Myers, “I need you to call Ed Eberhart [General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD] at NORAD and let him know that we’re coming back [to Washington] on Speckled Trout [the nickname of the plane he is on], and tell him that I would consider it a personal favor if he would see to it that the chairman and his crew are not shot down on their way back to Andrews.” Myers confirms, “Will do.” According to Shelton, his plane is called back 10 minutes later “with confirmation that we had been officially cleared to fly through the shutdown airspace.” [Shelton, Levinson, and McConnell, 2010, pp. 433] But according to Captain Rob Pedersen, the flight navigator on Shelton’s plane, it is several hours before the plane is cleared to enter the US airspace (see (After 9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 pdf file] The plane will therefore only land at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, at 4:40 p.m. (see 4:40 p.m. September 11, 2001) and Shelton will only arrive at the NMCC an hour after that (see 5:40 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/11/2001 pdf file; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 159] The exact time of the call between Shelton and Myers is unclear, though it would be at some time after about 10:00 a.m., when Myers arrives at the NMCC (see (9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38]

Entity Tags: Rob Pedersen, Henry Hugh Shelton, Richard B. Myers

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Vice President Cheney and other leaders now in the White House bunker begin receiving reports from the Secret Service of a presumably hijacked aircraft heading toward Washington. The Secret Service is getting this information about Flight 93 through links to the FAA. However, they are looking at a projected path, not an actual radar return, so they do not realize that the plane crashes minutes later. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, US Secret Service

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

In response to the terrorist attacks in the United States, the Russian military cancels a major training exercise it has been holding, turning back its bomber aircraft and calling off planned missile testing. [Toronto Star, 12/9/2001; Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System, 9/8/2011] The Russian Air Force began the exercise—which was being conducted over the North Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans—on September 10 (see September 10, 2001), and had planned for it to continue until September 14. NORAD has deployed fighter jets to Alaska and Northern Canada to monitor the exercise (see September 9, 2001).
Russians Cancel Exercise to Avoid Confusion - The Russians now call off their exercise, “to avoid misunderstandings, since US defenses were now on high alert in case of further possible terrorist attacks,” according to BBC correspondent Bridget Kendall. [BBC, 2001, pp. 161; North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/9/2001; Washington Times, 9/11/2001] “The Russians knew NORAD would have its hands full,” the Toronto Star will report. Lieutenant Colonel William Glover, the commander of NORAD’s Air Warning Center, will say the Russians stop their exercise “because they understood the magnitude of what had happened to us in the United States. They didn’t want any questions; they didn’t want us worrying about what they would be doing or entering our Air Defense Identification Zone.”
Russia Tells US about Canceling Exercise - The Russians notify the US of their actions. Captain Michael Jellinek, the director of plans, requirements, and readiness at NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center in Colorado, will later recall: “They sent the message to the State Department clearly and unambiguously: ‘Don’t worry about our movements, we’re going to stay down for a while.’”
Russia's Actions Are 'Very Helpful' to US - It is unclear when exactly the Russians call off their exercise. According to the Toronto Star, they “immediately” cancel it “on seeing the attacks in New York and Washington.” Glover will say the Russians notify the US that they are stopping their exercise “after the United Flight 93 went into Shanksville” (see (10:03 a.m.-10:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Jellinek will call the Russians’ actions in canceling their exercise “[v]ery, very useful. Very helpful.” Glover will comment, “[T]hat was amazing to me, personally, the fact that they stopped their exercise and… that they told us that they were going to stop the exercise.” [Toronto Star, 12/9/2001; Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System, 9/8/2011] Russian President Vladimir Putin will contact the White House and inform National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that the Russians are voluntarily canceling their exercise (see Between 10:32 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]

Entity Tags: Michael H. Jellinek, Russian Air Force, North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Department of State, William Glover

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told by White House Situation Room Deputy Director Ralph Seigler, “Secret Service reports a hostile aircraft ten minutes out.” Two minutes later, he is given an update: “Hostile aircraft eight minutes out.” In actual fact, when Flight 93 crashed at 10:06 a.m., it was still about 15 minutes away from Washington. Clarke is also told that there are 3,900 aircraft still in the air over the continental US (which is roughly accurate); four of those aircraft are believed to be piloted by terrorists (which is inaccurate by this time). Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Richard Myers then reports: “We have three F-16s from Langley over the Pentagon. Andrews is launching fighters from the DC Air National Guard. We have fighters aloft from the Michigan Air National Guard, moving east toward a potential hostile over Pennsylvania. Six fighters from Tyndall and Ellington are en route to rendezvous with Air Force One over Florida. They will escort it to Barksdale.” [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001; Clarke, 2004, pp. 8-9] However, fighters do not meet up with Air Force One until about an hour later (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Franklin Miller, a senior national security official who is working alongside Clarke on 9/11, and another official who is also in the Situation Room, will later fail to recall hearing any warning that a plane could be only minutes away. [New York Times, 3/30/2004] The time of this incident is unstated, but the Michigan fighters are not diverted until after 10:06 a.m. (see (After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001). If it takes place after 10:06 a.m., this would parallel similar warnings about Flight 93 after it has already crashed provided to Vice President Dick Cheney elsewhere in the White House (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, Franklin Miller, Richard A. Clarke, US Secret Service, Ralph Seigler

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Anthony Barnes.Anthony Barnes. [Source: US Navy]Navy Captain Anthony Barnes, deputy director of presidential contingency programs for the White House Military Office, receives a call from a senior official at the Pentagon who wants permission for fighter jets to shoot down aircraft that are under the control of terrorists. Barnes is in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, and has been “running liaison between the ops guys who had Pentagon officials on the phone and the [PEOC] conference room where the principals were,” he will later recall. [Summers and Swan, 2011, pp. 141; Graff, 2019, pp. 164-165] Communicators in the PEOC have been receiving reports from the Secret Service about a suspicious aircraft that is presumably hijacked and is heading toward Washington, DC (see 10:02 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41] Barnes now receives a call from a general at the Pentagon who is concerned about this aircraft and wants permission for the military to engage it. “The Pentagon thought there was another hijacked airplane and they were asking for permission to shoot down an identified hijacked commercial aircraft,” Barnes will recall. [Summers and Swan, 2011, pp. 141; Graff, 2019, pp. 164-165] In response to the call, Barnes will go from the operations and communications room in the PEOC to the conference room, tell Vice President Dick Cheney about the suspicious aircraft, and request his permission for the military to engage it (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Newsweek, 12/30/2001; 9/11 Commission, 4/16/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41]

Entity Tags: Anthony Barnes

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Dick Cheney in the PEOC, speaking to administration officials including (from left) Joshua Bolten, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin (standing), Condoleezza Rice, and I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby.Dick Cheney in the PEOC, speaking to administration officials including (from left) Joshua Bolten, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin (standing), Condoleezza Rice, and I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby. [Source: David Bohrer / White House]Navy Captain Anthony Barnes, deputy director of presidential contingency programs for the White House Military Office, asks Vice President Dick Cheney if the military is authorized to engage a suspicious aircraft that is approaching Washington, DC, and Cheney says it is. [White House, 11/19/2001; White House, 12/17/2001] Communicators in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House have received reports from the Secret Service about a suspicious aircraft that is presumably hijacked and is heading toward Washington (see 10:02 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41] Meanwhile, Barnes, the senior military officer on duty in the PEOC this morning, was called by a general at the Pentagon who wanted permission for the military to shoot down this aircraft (see (Shortly Before 10:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). In response to the request, Barnes goes into the PEOC conference room to ask the vice president to provide this authorization. [Summers and Swan, 2011, pp. 141; Graff, 2019, pp. 164-165]
Cheney Is Told that a Suspicious Aircraft Is 80 Miles Out - He tells Cheney there is an unidentified aircraft approaching Washington that is not squawking a transponder code and is believed to be hijacked. [9/11 Commission, 4/16/2004; Cheney and Cheney, 2011, pp. 3] He says the plane is 80 miles out and asks Cheney for authorization to engage it. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41] “I posed this question to the vice president exactly the way it was posed to me,” Barnes will later recall. “I asked for confirmation on what I was being allowed to pass back to the general,” he will say. [Summers and Swan, 2011, pp. 141-142]
Cheney Authorizes the Military to Shoot the Plane Down - Cheney responds immediately and decisively, telling Barnes that fighters can engage the inbound aircraft. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41; Cheney and Cheney, 2011, pp. 3] “Yes, take it out,” he will recall saying. [Foundation for Constitutional Government, 9/30/2014] But according to Barnes, he says, “If you can confirm there’s another terrorist aircraft inbound, permission is granted to take it out.” [Summers and Swan, 2011, pp. 142] Cheney will explain why he decided so quickly that the military could shoot down the aircraft, saying, “As the last hour and a half had made brutally clear, once a plane was hijacked it was a weapon in the hands of the enemy.” [Cheney and Cheney, 2011, pp. 3] At 10:14 a.m., presumably as a result of hearing Cheney giving his authorization, a military officer in the PEOC tells participants on the air threat conference call convened by the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon that the vice president has confirmed that fighters are cleared to engage hijacked aircraft (see 10:14 a.m.-10:19 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 42]
Officer Again Asks for Authorization to Engage the Aircraft - A short time after receiving Cheney’s authorization for the military to engage the suspicious aircraft, Barnes returns to the conference room to repeat his request. He says the plane is now 60 miles out and, for a second time, asks Cheney to give his authorization for the military to engage it. [White House, 11/14/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41; Gellman, 2008, pp. 120] “For me, being a military member and an aviator—understanding the absolute depth of what that question was and what that answer was—I wanted to make sure that there was no mistake whatsoever about what was being asked,” he will explain. “I am confirming that you have given permission,” he says to Cheney. [Graff, 2019, pp. 164-165] Again, Cheney agrees to the request. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41; Cheney and Cheney, 2011, pp. 3] “Yes, if it won’t divert, take it out,” he says. [Foundation for Constitutional Government, 9/30/2014] According to Josh Bolten, the deputy White House chief of staff, Barnes then asks Cheney to give his authorization for a third time. “Just confirming, sir, authority to engage?” Bolten will recall him saying. But according to the Washington Post, Barnes asks, “Does the order still stand?” Cheney, sounding annoyed, replies, “I said yes,” according to Bolten. But according to the Washington Post, he snaps, “Of course it does.” [Washington Post, 1/27/2002; CNN, 9/11/2002; Hayes, 2007, pp. 338] After receiving the shootdown authorization from Cheney, Barnes goes and passes it on to the general who called him to request it (see (10:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Summers and Swan, 2011, pp. 142; Graff, 2019, pp. 165]
Bush Has Already Given Shootdown Authorization, Cheney Will Claim - Cheney will claim that he talked to President Bush about “rules of engagement” for fighter pilots and Bush gave his authorization for them to shoot down hostile aircraft during a call made before the vice president talked to Barnes about the issue (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [White House, 11/19/2001; White House, 12/17/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 40] “I had a conversation with the president earlier about what the rules of engagement would be with our airplanes,” Cheney will say. [Foundation for Constitutional Government, 9/30/2014] He will recall telling Bush, “We’ve got to give the pilots rules of engagement,” and recommending that “we authorize them to shoot,” and Bush replying, “Okay, I’ll sign up to that.” Therefore, Cheney will explain, when he authorized the military to engage the suspicious aircraft, he simply “passed on the decision the president had already made.” [White House, 11/19/2001] However, the 9/11 Commission Report will state that “no documentary evidence for this call” was found and some 9/11 Commission staffers will be highly skeptical about Cheney’s claim (see June 15, 2004). [Newsweek, 6/27/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41; Shenon, 2008, pp. 265] The first time Cheney talks to Bush to get his authorization for the military to shoot down hostile aircraft, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, will be in a phone call at 10:18 a.m., shortly after the vice president gives his permission for the military to engage the approaching aircraft (see 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41, 465; Gellman, 2008, pp. 121-122]

Entity Tags: Anthony Barnes, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Joshua Bolten

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

A lieutenant colonel at the White House repeatedly relays to the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon that Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that fighter jets are cleared to engage an inbound aircraft if they can verify that the aircraft is hijacked. The lieutenant colonel notifies the NMCC of the authorization over the air threat conference call (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). Cheney, who is in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, said at sometime between 10:10 and 10:15 that fighters could engage an aircraft that was reportedly approaching Washington (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001). However, it is only when Cheney calls President Bush at 10:18 a.m. that Bush confirms the shootdown order (see 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). The shootdown order will be received by NORAD, and then, at 10:31 a.m., sent out to its three air defense sectors in the continental US (see 10:31 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41-42; Spencer, 2008, pp. 240]

Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discusses “rules of engagement” for fighter pilots over the phone with General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, but the two men will subsequently take no action to ensure these rules are communicated to fighter pilots. [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004 pdf file; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Eberhart was in his office at NORAD’s headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, earlier on but left the base at around 9:30 a.m. to head to NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center. [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465] Myers is at the Pentagon, where he went following a meeting on Capitol Hill. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; American Forces Press Service, 9/8/2006] After arriving at the Pentagon, he went to the National Military Command Center (NMCC) with Colonel Matthew Klimow, his executive assistant, reaching it at around 9:58 a.m. and going to the office of the deputy director for operations (DDO) there (see (9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Issue of Shootdown Authority Needs to Be Resolved - Sometime after reaching the DDO’s office, Myers talks to Eberhart on the phone. The call is made by Myers, according to Klimow. Myers “picked up the Red Switch [secure phone] and began a painful conversation with NORAD,” Klimow will later say. [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] However, Myers will recall Eberhart making the call, stating, “I was the one that took the phone call from General Eberhart.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] Myers and Eberhart have two immediate issues to resolve in the call. These are determining when a fighter pilot should “pull the trigger for the shootdown of an airliner” and clarifying “who would have the ultimate authority to give that command to shoot,” according to Klimow. It is important to resolve these issues, Klimow will note, since the two men “didn’t want to put the burden of killing innocent passengers on the shoulders of a single fighter pilot.” [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]
Rules Are Decided by 10:30 a.m. - Myers and Eberhart have agreed upon the rules of engagement by around 10:30 a.m., when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrives at the NMCC (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). These are, “We were going to try to persuade a potentially hijacked plane to land, but if it was headed to a large city, take it down,” Klimow will say. [Graff, 2019, pp. 236] Myers and Eberhart decide to delegate the authority to order the shootdown of a civilian airliner to “the regional air defense commander,” according to Klimow. Klimow will presumably be referring to Major General Larry Arnold, the commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR). [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Myers will similarly state that, regarding the passing on of the shootdown order, Eberhart would have to talk to his “regional commander” who would then talk to “the fighters that are involved in this.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] Eberhart will recall directing CONR to “look for a hostile act” before ordering the shootdown of an aircraft, although he will give no indication of when he issued this instruction. [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004 pdf file]
Myers and Eberhart Do Nothing to Get the Rules to Pilots - However, after establishing the rules of engagement, Myers and Eberhart will make no effort to ensure they are passed on to the fighter pilots who are responding to the crisis. Myers will tell the 9/11 Commission that in the “initial period” after he reached the NMCC—apparently referring to the first hour after he reached the command center—“he did not do anything to ensure that effective rules of engagement were communicated to pilots.” [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file] And Eberhart will tell the 9/11 Commission only that he “assumed that the [shootdown] order was passed to the level of the fighter pilot.” [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004 pdf file]
Written Rules Will Only Be Issued Hours Later - Furthermore, the task of establishing rules of engagement is apparently not fully resolved by 10:30 a.m. Rumsfeld will tell the 9/11 Commission that “[t]hroughout the course of the day,” he and Myers “returned to further refine those rules” (see (10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004 pdf file] Myers will only receive the final recommended rules of engagement from Eberhart at around 12:40 p.m. (see 12:40 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 157] And the Department of Defense will only circulate written rules of engagement sometime after 1:00 p.m. (see (1:45 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465]
Phone Call Apparently Occurs after 10:15 a.m. - It is unclear exactly when Eberhart and Myers discuss rules of engagement for fighter pilots. Myers will tell the 9/11 Commission that he “spoke to Eberhart many times” this morning, but add that he “could not remember exact times.” [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file] According to his own recollection, though, he left the NMCC for a short period soon after he arrived there in order to look for Rumsfeld (see (9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and so his discussion with Eberhart presumably occurs sometime after he returns to the command center. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 151-152] Furthermore, in the 45 minutes after 9:30 a.m. in which Eberhart is traveling from Peterson Air Force Base to the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, he “couldn’t receive telephone calls,” according to the Denver Post (see (Between 9:35 a.m. and 10:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004 pdf file; Colorado Springs Gazette, 6/16/2006; Denver Post, 7/28/2006] This suggests he would only be able to discuss rules of engagement with Myers after around 10:15 a.m. (However, he will recall receiving a call from Arnold during the journey, so he is apparently not completely out of communication while he is on the road. [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004] )

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, Matthew S. Klimow, Larry Arnold, Donald Rumsfeld, Ralph Eberhart

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Navy Captain Anthony Barnes, deputy director of presidential contingency programs for the White House Military Office, lets a general at the Pentagon know that Vice President Dick Cheney has given his authorization for the military to shoot down hostile aircraft. The general, who was concerned about a suspicious aircraft that is presumably hijacked and is heading toward Washington, DC, recently called Barnes and asked for permission to shoot the plane down (see (Shortly Before 10:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). In response to the request, Barnes went to the conference room in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center below the White House, told Cheney about the aircraft, and asked for authorization for the military to engage it. Cheney promptly gave his authorization (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Barnes now gets back on the phone with the general at the Pentagon and passes on what he said. “The vice president has authorized you to engage confirmed terrorist aboard commercial aircraft,” he says. “I… made sure that [the general] understood that I had posed the question to the National Authority and the answer was in the affirmative,” he will later comment. “We made sure that we did not stutter or stumble because the emotion at that point was very, very high,” he will add. [Summers and Swan, 2011, pp. 141-142; Graff, 2019, pp. 164-165]

Entity Tags: Anthony Barnes, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld works on “rules of engagement” for fighter pilots after he arrives at the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon, but it will be hours before these rules are issued. After going outside to visit the site of the Pentagon attack, Rumsfeld arrives at the NMCC at around 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 43-44, 465; Cockburn, 2007, pp. 5-7; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 130-131]
Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Updates Rumsfeld - There, he immediately asks General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Colonel Matthew Klimow, Myers’s executive assistant, for an update on the rules of engagement for fighter jets that are responding to the terrorist attacks. [Graff, 2019, pp. 236] Since arriving in the NMCC at around 9:58 a.m., Myers has discussed these rules over the phone with General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD (see (Between 10:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] In response to the inquiry, Myers says the policy he and Eberhart agreed upon is that “we were going to try to persuade a potentially hijacked plane to land, but if it was headed to a large city, take it down.” [Graff, 2019, pp. 236]
Vice President Says He Has Given Shootdown Authorization - Then, at 10:39 a.m., Rumsfeld talks to Vice President Dick Cheney over the air threat conference (see 10:39 a.m. September 11, 2001) and Cheney says he has authorized the military to shoot down hostile aircraft that are approaching Washington, DC (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 43] Upon hearing this, Rumsfeld’s “thoughts went to the pilots of the military aircraft who might be called upon to execute such an order,” Rumsfeld will later recall, adding: “It was clear that they needed rules of engagement telling them what they could and could not do. They needed clarity.”
Existing Rules Are Unsuitable for the Current Crisis - There are currently “standing rules of engagement,” Rumsfeld will note. [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004] However, he will comment, “There were no rules of engagement on the books about when and how our pilots should handle a situation in which civilian aircraft had been hijacked and might be used as missiles to attack American targets.” “I’d hate to be a pilot up there and not know exactly what I should do,” he says to Myers. [Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 340] To resolve the issue, Rumsfeld and Myers go to work “to fashion appropriate rules of engagement.” [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004 pdf file] Rumsfeld also discusses these rules with Cheney and President Bush while he is developing them.
Suspicious Aircraft May Have to Be Shot Down - In the process of establishing rules of engagement, Rumsfeld and Myers talk about a fighter pilot making “hand signals and communications, and flying in front [of a suspicious aircraft] and waving at them, and getting them to go in a direction that’s not dangerous.” They determine that if a suspicious aircraft is going “in a direction that’s dangerous,” meaning toward “a high value target on the ground of some sort,” the fighter pilot would “have to shoot them down,” Rumsfeld will state. [US Department of Defense, 1/9/2002] Myers speculates that any plane within 20 miles of the White House that fails to land on command might have to be shot down. [Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 340]
Rules Are Quickly Developed - Rumsfeld and Myers reportedly come up with rules of engagement after a relatively short time. “We rapidly developed some rules of engagement for what our military aircraft might do in the event another aircraft appeared to be heading into a large civilian structure or population,” Rumsfeld will say. The process they come up with is that “the combatant commander would be notified in the event there was a circumstance that was abnormal and potentially dangerous, and he then would notify [Rumsfeld], and [Rumsfeld] then would notify the president.” [US Department of Defense, 8/12/2002] Once the rules of engagement have been devised, the president approves them and Rumsfeld passes them on to Eberhart.
Final Rules Are Only Issued in the Afternoon - The process of coming up with these rules takes place in the hour before 11:15 a.m., Rumsfeld will tell the Washington Post. [US Department of Defense, 1/9/2002] However, “Throughout the course of the day,” he will note, he and Myers “returned to further refine those rules.” [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004 pdf file] Myers will recall that he in fact only receives the final recommended rules of engagement from Eberhart at around 12:40 p.m. (see 12:40 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 157] And the Department of Defense will only circulate written rules of engagement sometime after 1:00 p.m. (see (1:45 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465] Rumsfeld’s work on rules of engagement is therefore “an irrelevant exercise,” according to journalist and author Andrew Cockburn, since Rumsfeld “did not complete and issue them until… hours after the last hijacker had died.” [Cockburn, 2007, pp. 7]

Entity Tags: Matthew S. Klimow, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Richard B. Myers, Ralph Eberhart

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR) issues a message to its three air defense sectors—including the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS)—stating that Vice President Dick Cheney has authorized it to shoot down suspicious aircraft.
Order Sent over Computer Chat System - About 15 minutes earlier, a military officer at the White House relayed to the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) that Cheney had confirmed that fighter jets were cleared to engage an inbound aircraft if they could verify that the aircraft was hijacked (see 10:14 a.m.-10:19 a.m. September 11, 2001). According to the 9/11 Commission, “It is not clear how [this] shootdown order was communicated within NORAD.” However, Major General Larry Arnold, the CONR commander, now instructs his staff to broadcast a message over a NORAD computer chat system, passing on Cheney’s authorization. The message states, “10:31 Vice president has cleared to us to intercept tracks of interest and shoot them down if they do not respond, per CONR CC [General Arnold].” The message is received at CONR’s three air defense sectors: the Western, Southeast, and Northeast. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 42; Spencer, 2008, pp. 240]
Arnold Could Issue Shootdown Order Himself - Arnold, who is at the CONR air operations center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, will later comment, “I have the authority in case of an emergency to declare a target hostile and shoot it down under an emergency condition… but it was comforting to know we legally had the authority from the president of the United States.” [Filson, 2002; Code One Magazine, 1/2002; Filson, 2003, pp. 75-76] The 10:31 chat message is the first notification personnel on the NEADS operations floor receive of the shootdown order. These personnel are reportedly confused over the order and do not pass it on to fighter pilots under their command (see 10:32 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 42-43; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 47]

Entity Tags: Continental US NORAD Region, Southeast Air Defense Sector, Western Air Defense Sector, Larry Arnold, Northeast Air Defense Sector

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Russian President Vladimir Putin phones the White House, wanting to speak with the US president. With Bush not there, Condoleezza Rice takes the call. Putin tells her that the Russians are voluntarily standing down a military exercise they are conducting, as a gesture of solidarity with the United States. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002] The Russian exercise began on September 10 in the Russian arctic and North Pacific oceans, and was scheduled to last until September 14. [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/9/2001; Washington Times, 9/11/2001] It involved Russian bombers staging a mock attack against NATO planes that are supposedly planning an assault on Russia. [BBC, 2001, pp. 161] Subsequently, Putin manages to talk to Bush while he is aboard Air Force One (see (After 11:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Vice President Dick Cheney tries to bring Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld up to date over the National Military Command Center’s (NMCC) conference call (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001), as Rumsfeld arrived at the NMCC just minutes earlier (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Cheney explains that he has given authorization for hijacked planes to be shot down and that this has been passed on to the fighter pilots. Rumsfeld asks, “So we’ve got a couple of aircraft up there that have those instructions at the present time?” Cheney replies: “That is correct. And it’s my understanding they’ve already taken a couple of aircraft out.” Then Rumsfeld says: “We can’t confirm that. We’re told that one aircraft is down but we do not have a pilot report that they did it.” Cheney is incorrect about his authorization having reached the pilots (see 10:31 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The US military’s defense readiness condition is raised from Defcon 5, the lowest possible level, to Defcon 3, an intermediate level that requires a heightened alert status for US armed forces worldwide, and which is the highest the defense readiness condition has been for 28 years. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 7/18/2002 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 326, 554; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 131; Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 338]
Rumsfeld Recommends Raising the Defcon - The decision to go to Defcon 3 is reportedly made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. [US Department of Defense, 8/12/2002] Rumsfeld will later recall that after he arrives at the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001), he talks with General Richard Myers, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and “[w]e discussed and I recommended raising the defense condition level from five to three.” [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004]
Teleconference Participants Are Told to 'Hold Off' on Defcon 3 - Rumsfeld directs that the US military go to Defcon 3. At 10:43 a.m., it is announced on the air threat conference call that the secretary of defense “has directed that we go to Defcon 3 and be prepared to go to [Defcon] 2.” However, a minute later, Rumsfeld talks to Vice President Dick Cheney on the conference call, and Cheney says he will have to run the decision to go to Defcon 3 by the president, “and let him make the call.” Therefore, at 10:45 a.m., those on the conference call are told to “hold off on Defcon 3.”
Order to Raise the Defcon Is Reinstated - But Rumsfeld believes raising the defense readiness condition is urgent. [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 326, 554] There is therefore a “historical discussion about how the move to Defcon 3 went during previous crises, Cuba specifically [i.e. the Cuban missile crisis in 1962],” Captain Charles Leidig, who is also in the NMCC, will later recall. With their reference being “a book on the shelf,” according to Leidig, Myers is shown that he has “approval authority to go to Defcon 3.” [9/11 Commission, 4/29/2004 pdf file] After consulting Defense Department directives, Rumsfeld concludes that he has the authority to issue the order to raise the defense readiness condition. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 554] Therefore, at 10:46 a.m., those on the air threat conference call are told: “Override last instructions. The vice chairman [i.e. Myers] is directing we go to Defcon 3.” A few minutes later, an announcement is made on the conference call, “Emergency action message released at 14:52 [Zulu time, i.e. 10:52 a.m. Eastern time], re: Defcon 3.” [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 2004]
Raising the Defcon Is a 'Huge Move' - Rumsfeld will later agree with an interviewer that raising the defense readiness condition is “a very serious step for the nation.” [US Department of Defense, 8/12/2002] It was last raised to Defcon 3 during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, when Rumsfeld had been the United States ambassador to NATO. Regarding the decision to raise it, Myers tells Rumsfeld, “It’s a huge move, but it’s appropriate.” [US Department of Defense, 1/9/2002; Wall Street Journal, 3/22/2004 pdf file; Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 338]
President Is Later Told of the Decision - The decision to go to Defcon 3 will soon be communicated within NORAD (see 11:03 a.m.-11:12 a.m. September11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2003; 9/11 Commission, 2004; 9/11 Commission, 2/3/2004 pdf file] Rumsfeld will brief President Bush on the decision (see (11:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 554; Bush, 2010, pp. 133] Apparently around the time the defense readiness condition is raised, Rumsfeld and/or Myers also decide to raise the force protection condition of US military installations (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004 pdf file; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 153]
Defcon 3 Was Intended for the Cold War - Some individuals will later be critical of the decision to raise the defense readiness condition at this time. John Farmer, the senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, will write that Defcon 3 is in fact “a Cold War-era designation, devised to respond to a nuclear threat.” [Farmer, 2009, pp. 235] According to Farmer and other 9/11 Commission staffers, it is “suited more to a Cold War conflict than to al-Qaeda’s attack.” [Rutgers Law Review, 9/7/2011 pdf file] General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, will similarly say that Defcon 3 is “not intended for [events like] the attacks of 9/11 and thus could have complicated the response to the attacks.” He will say he does not think that raising the condition would have “done anything for us” within the continental United States. [9/11 Commission, 3/1/2004 pdf file]
Defcons Are Phased Increases in Combat Readiness - The defense readiness condition is a “uniform system of progressive alert postures for use between the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders of unified and specified commands, and for use by the [armed] services,” according to the Department of Defense. [US Department of Defense, 11/8/2010 pdf file] Defcons are phased increases in combat readiness and are graduated to match situations of varying military severity. They are numbered, from Defcon 5, which means “normal peacetime readiness,” down to Defcon 1, which means “maximum force readiness.” The current level, Defcon 3, represents an “increase in force readiness above normal readiness.” [Federation of American Scientists, 4/29/1998] The defense readiness condition will remain at Defcon 3 until three days later, when it will be reduced one notch, to Defcon 4 (see September 14, 2001). [Washington Post, 1/30/2002]

Entity Tags: Charles Leidig, Donald Rumsfeld, Ralph Eberhart, John Farmer, US Department of Defense, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Richard B. Myers

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The Joint Chiefs of Staff conference room.The Joint Chiefs of Staff conference room. [Source: Federation of American Scientists]Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and several more senior officials at the Pentagon participate in a secure video teleconference with other government agencies in which the rules of engagement for fighter jets responding to the terrorist attacks are discussed. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 155; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Myers has been in the office of the deputy director for operations (DDO) within the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon since around 9:58 a.m. (see (9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and Rumsfeld has been with him there since around 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 43-44; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Vice Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr., Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant, announced earlier on that a secure video teleconference with the White House was going to take place at 11:00 a.m. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 4/9/2003 pdf file] Rumsfeld, Myers, and Colonel Matthew Klimow, Myers’s executive assistant, now leave the DDO’s office to participate in this. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] The teleconference takes place in the Joint Chiefs of Staff conference room, which is more commonly known as “the tank.” [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 4/9/2003 pdf file] This is the “NMCC facility for secure teleconferences” and is “a tiny room with a thick, airtight door” that is “severely cramped,” according to Myers. Klimow will later describe it as “a small soundproof room just big enough for six or seven people.” Along with Myers, Rumsfeld, and Klimow, other officials in the room for the teleconference include Giambastiani; Stephen Cambone, Rumsfeld’s closest aide; William Haynes, the general counsel of the Department of Defense; and Victoria Clarke, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz participates in the teleconference after arriving at the alternate military command center inside Raven Rock Mountain on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and can be seen by his colleagues at the Pentagon in a small box in the top right corner of their screen. The identities of the other participants will be unstated. The purpose of the teleconference is to link the Department of Defense’s civilian and military leadership with the rest of the government, and the main issue discussed is the rules of engagement for NORAD to follow should more hijackings occur, according to Myers. Further details of what the participants talk about will be unstated. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 155; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] It is unclear how long the teleconference lasts. Joseph Wassel, assistant to the secretary of defense for communications, who waits outside the room while it is taking place, will recall only that it “went on for quite a while.” [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 4/9/2003 pdf file] As the teleconference progresses, its participants in the Joint Chiefs of Staff conference room will start feeling sick due to the deteriorating air quality. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 155; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Edmund Giambastiani, Joseph M. Wassel, William J. Haynes, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen A. Cambone, Richard B. Myers, White House, Matthew S. Klimow, Victoria (“Torie”) Clarke

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks with President Bush, and they discuss the rules of engagement for fighter pilots and Rumsfeld’s decision to raise the defense readiness condition to Defcon 3. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465, 554] Rumsfeld is in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon and Bush is on board Air Force One, flying toward Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004 pdf file; St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/2004] After Rumsfeld entered the NMCC at around 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001), he had been concerned with ensuring that fighter pilots defending US airspace have a clear understanding of their rules of engagement, so they know “what they could and could not do” (see (10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 43-44] He also directed that the nation’s armed forces go to Defcon 3, an increased state of military readiness (see (10:43 a.m.-10:52 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 326; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 131]
President Approves Decision to Raise Defcon - Rumsfeld now speaks with Bush and, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, tells him that the Department of Defense is “working on refining the rules of engagement, so pilots would have a better understanding of the circumstances under which an aircraft could be shot down.” Also at this time, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, Rumsfeld briefs Bush on his decision to raise the defense readiness condition to Defcon 3. When Rumsfeld ordered that the condition be raised, Vice President Dick Cheney told him to run the issue by the president; Rumsfeld replied that he would “call him shortly.” [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465, 554] Bush gives Rumsfeld his approval for having raised the defense readiness condition. [Washington Post, 9/12/2001; Bush, 2010, pp. 133]
Defense Readiness Condition Possibly Discussed at Later Time - Although the 9/11 Commission Report will say Rumsfeld and Bush’s discussion of the defense readiness condition occurs at 11:15 a.m., in his 2010 book Decision Points, Bush will write that he approves Rumsfeld’s decision when he speaks to Rumsfeld from the office of Lieutenant General Thomas Keck at Barksdale Air Force Base. [Bush, 2010, pp. 133] If correct, this would mean the relevant phone call takes place sometime after 12:11 p.m., when Bush goes to Keck’s office (see (12:11 p.m.-1:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Sammon, 2002, pp. 112-113; American History, 10/2006 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, US Department of Defense

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The FAA’s Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, is informed that a Korean Airlines plane is a possible hijacking, although the aircraft is in fact fine. [CNN, 8/14/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 256-257] Korean Airlines Flight 85, a Boeing 747 with 215 people on board, is on its way from Seoul, South Korea, to New York. It is heading for a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska, and is currently several hundred miles west of Alaska, over the North Pacific.
Pilots Sent Message Signifying Hijacking - The alarm has been raised by ARINC, a Maryland company that airlines pay to transmit text messages to and from their planes. In response to the morning’s terrorist attacks, the company had begun scanning every communication it had transmitted on this day, in a search for other hijacked aircraft. It found a message sent by the pilots of Flight 85 to the Korean Airlines headquarters at 11:08 a.m. that included the letters “HJK,” which is the code signaling a hijacking. ARINC officials are concerned the message was a coded plea for help, and so alert the FAA to it. In response to this notification, the FAA informs air traffic controllers in Anchorage of the suspicious flight, and alerts NORAD to it (see (12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 8/12/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 257]
Reason for Message Unclear - The reason the Flight 85 pilots used the code for a hijacking in their ARINC message when their plane is not hijacked is unclear. Korean Airlines administrator Michael Lim will suggest the “HJK” code was intended as a question rather than a warning, but this was unclear in the message because pilots are unable to type question marks into ARINC messages. [Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002] David Greenberg, the Korean Airlines operations chief, will say the pilots’ message was “innocent, part of a routine discussion on where to divert the flight after airspace in the United States had been closed.” He will add that the pilots used the hijack code “to refer to the hijackings that day.” [USA Today, 8/12/2002] Author Lynn Spencer will similarly suggest that the crew of Flight 85 had “simply been trying to relay to controllers their awareness of the hijackings on the East Coast.” She will add: “It was an odd idea for the pilots to have, and contrary to their training. But for whatever reason—perhaps because of some language or communication barrier, or some training failure—they made a very dangerous bad call.” [Spencer, 2008, pp. 279]
Flight 85 Redirected to Canada - At 1:24 p.m., the pilots of Flight 85 will set their plane’s transponder to indicate that the flight has been hijacked (see 1:24 p.m. September 11, 2001). The plane will be directed away from Anchorage (see (Shortly After 1:24 p.m.) September 11, 2001) and escorted by fighter jets to Whitehorse Airport in Canada, where it lands at 2:54 p.m. (see 2:54 p.m. September 11, 2001). Only then will officials be able to confirm that the aircraft has not been hijacked (see September 12, 2001). [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 9/12/2001; Yukon Government, 11/13/2001, pp. 16, 18 pdf file; USA Today, 8/12/2002]

Entity Tags: ARINC, Federal Aviation Administration, David Greenberg, Michael Lim, North American Aerospace Defense Command

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Norton Schwartz.Norton Schwartz. [Source: US Department of Defense]The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) launches fighter jets in response to a Korean Airlines passenger jet that is mistakenly suspected of being hijacked. [CNN, 8/14/2002; Air Force Magazine, 7/2009] Korean Airlines Flight 85 is a Boeing 747 bound from Seoul, South Korea, to New York, and currently heading for a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska. For reasons that are unclear, its pilots entered the code signaling a hijacking into a text message they sent to their airline at 11:08 a.m. The FAA was alerted to this, and it in turn alerted NORAD (see (Shortly Before 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 8/12/2002]
Fighters Launched from Alaska Base - Lieutenant General Norton Schwartz, the commander of the Alaskan NORAD Region, will later recall: “Given what had happened on the East Coast, it was entirely plausible to me this was an analog on the West Coast. So naturally, we took this seriously.” Schwartz orders Elmendorf Air Force Base, near Anchorage, to launch two F-15 fighter jets armed with missiles to intercept and shadow Flight 85. [Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 257] The jets belong to the 3rd Wing. [Commemorative Air Force, Inc., 4/2/2008 pdf file] Schwartz’s instructions for the fighter pilots are: “Tail the aircraft.… Follow Flight 85 at a position out of sight of passengers. Follow so the four-man flight crew—and anyone in the cockpit with them—couldn’t see them either.” [Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002] The two jets will fly about a mile behind Flight 85, shadowing it so its crew and passengers do not realize there are fighters in close proximity. [Alaska Legislature. Joint Senate and House Armed Services Committee, 2/5/2002]
Canadian Fighters Launched - Two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter jets are also launched in response to Flight 85, although whether they take off before or after the 3rd Wing F-15s is unstated. [Anchorage Daily News, 9/29/2001] After Flight 85’s pilots refuse to confirm that their plane is not hijacked, Schwartz will threaten to have the plane shot down (see (Shortly After 1:24 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Spencer, 2008, pp. 278] The NORAD jets will escort Flight 85 until it lands at Whitehorse Airport in Canada at 2:54 p.m. (see 2:54 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 9/12/2001; USA Today, 8/12/2002]

Entity Tags: 3rd Wing, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Norton Schwartz, Elmendorf Air Force Base

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Officers in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon are concerned about the air quality in the center and an air quality expert subsequently informs them that the oxygen level there is dangerously low. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012; Graff, 2019, pp. 277-278] From around 11:00 a.m., a small number of Pentagon officials, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been in the Joint Chiefs of Staff conference room within the NMCC, participating in a secure video teleconference with other government agencies (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 4/9/2003 pdf file; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 155]
Officials Start Feeling Unwell - During this teleconference, Colonel Matthew Klimow, Myers’s executive assistant, starts feeling sick and becomes unable to concentrate. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012; Graff, 2019, pp. 277] Others in the room also feel unwell. “Our eyes became red and our throats itchy,” Rumsfeld will later recall. [Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 340] Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr., Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant, is concerned about the conditions in the small conference room. “It started to get really hot and the air got bad,” he will describe. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 8/1/2002 pdf file; Graff, 2019, pp. 277-278] Realizing what the problem is, he shakes Klimow and then tells him what is wrong. “I’m a submariner; I know what’s going on,” he says and then explains: “There’s no oxygen in this room. It’s filling up with carbon dioxide.”
Officers Consider Moving to Another Area - “Let’s get everybody out of here,” he says. He suggests they all go to the Navy Command Center. Although Klimow is unaware that the Navy Command Center was destroyed when the Pentagon was hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001), he rejects the proposal. “I’ve been trying to get hold of the [Navy Command Center]; I can’t raise him,” he says. He suggests they go to the Army Operations Center in the Pentagon basement instead. Giambastiani says he will do a reconnaissance to the Army Operations Center, and advises Klimow to “go find an air monitor and see how bad it is in here.” Klimow therefore calls Captain Chris Donahue, Myers’s military aide, and instructs him to find an air monitor.
Air Quality Expert Warns of Low Oxygen - Giambastiani subsequently returns from his reconnaissance, shaking his head. He tells Klimow they will be unable to go to the Army Operations Center since the passageways in the outer areas of the Pentagon are impassible due to thick smoke. Donahue then comes in with the Arlington County Fire Department’s air quality specialist. The air quality specialist has taken readings and explains to Klimow that he and the others in the conference room are in a precarious situation. “In some of the corridors in the Pentagon, the air is filled with about 88 percent carbon dioxide—that’s lethal,” he says. “In the outer office here in the NMCC you’re at 33 percent oxygen,” he continues. He says that in the conference room, “you’re at 16 percent oxygen.” If the oxygen level gets down to 13 percent, he says, “you cannot survive.” Therefore, he concludes, “You need to leave.” [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012; Graff, 2019, pp. 278] Fortunately, Giambastiani subsequently finds a smoke-free area for the group in the conference room to relocate to: the Executive Support Center (ESC) on the third floor of the Pentagon. Rumsfeld, Myers, and their entourage will therefore move to the ESC (see 12:19 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 8/1/2002 pdf file; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 156-157]
Air Handling Units Have Been Shut Down - The lack of oxygen in the NMCC is apparently the result of a misunderstanding. According to Klimow, the “incident commander”—presumably meaning Assistant Chief James Schwartz of the Arlington County Fire Department—was incorrectly told that the entire Pentagon had been evacuated and, “with the fires raging out of control,” shut down the building’s air handling units. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Rumsfeld, though, will suggest a different explanation. “The air-conditioning [in the Pentagon] was supposed to have been disabled to avoid circulating the hazardous smoke, but apparently it took some time for it to be shut down,” he will write. [Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 340]

Entity Tags: Chris Donahue, Arlington County Fire Department, Edmund Giambastiani, Donald Rumsfeld, National Military Command Center, Richard B. Myers, Matthew S. Klimow

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

President Bush is taken to the headquarters of the 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, from where he calls government officials in New York and Washington, DC, prepares and records a speech to the nation, and watches television coverage of the terrorist attacks. [Salon, 9/12/2001; Associated Press, 10/2/2001; American History, 10/2006 pdf file] After landing at Barksdale (see 11:45 a.m. September 11, 2001), Bush was initially driven to a conference center on the base, where he made a brief phone call (see (11:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 9/11/2001; Newseum et al., 2002, pp. 164]
Bush Is Driven to the 8th Air Force Headquarters - Bush emerges from there at 12:11 p.m. accompanied by his senior adviser, Karl Rove, his chief of staff, Andrew Card, his military aide, some other aides, and several Secret Service agents. [Sammon, 2002, pp. 112; American History, 10/2006 pdf file] He is then driven to “Building 245” on the base—the headquarters of the 8th Air Force—in a small motorcade that also includes the pool of reporters who have been traveling with him on Air Force One. Inside the building, they all can see a sheet of paper that has been taped to a door, with words written in large black type, “Defcon Delta”—the highest possible state of military alert. [USA Today, 9/11/2001; Sammon, 2002, pp. 112] Bush and his staff go to the office of Lieutenant General Thomas Keck, the commander of the 8th Air Force, where they get to work responding to the attacks. [American History, 10/2006 pdf file]
Bush Prepares a Speech to the Nation - Bush and Card together draft a speech to the nation that the president is going to record at the base, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. [Times-Picayune, 9/8/2002] However, according to journalist and author Bill Sammon, the speech is drafted by Bush’s press secretary, Ari Fleischer, who is with the president at Barksdale, and edited by White House counselor Karen Hughes, who is back in Washington. [Sammon, 2002, pp. 113] Once the speech is ready, Keck escorts Bush to the building’s conference room to be filmed delivering it. [American History, 10/2006 pdf file] The reporters traveling on Air Force One go to the conference room after entering the 8th Air Force headquarters building and are there when Bush records his speech at 12:36 p.m. (see 12:36 p.m. September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 9/11/2001]
Bush Watches TV, Makes Phone Calls - Bush watches the latest developments on a television in Keck’s office. After recording his speech, he sees the footage, shown on CNN, of the World Trade Center towers collapsing for the first time, according to Keck. He then tells Keck, “I don’t know who this is, but we’re going to find out and we’re going to go after them, and we’re not just going to slap them on the wrist.” Keck replies, “We’re with you.” There is a secure phone in Keck’s office, and, while he is at the base, Bush uses it to talk with Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House (see (12:11 p.m.-1:25 p.m.) September 11, 2001), Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon (see 1:02 p.m. September 11, 2001), and Hughes. He also talks over the secure phone with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York Governor George Pataki, and New York Senator Charles Schumer.
Bush Is Informed of the Intelligence about the Attacks - Keck remains at Bush’s side for the entire time the president is in the 8th Air Force headquarters building. He works intently, monitoring base security and keeping up to date with the latest information from the 8th Air Force Command. He and his team keep Bush and his aides informed about the intelligence coming in via Air Force channels about the morning’s attacks and ongoing events. After nearly two hours at Barksdale, Bush and his entourage prepare to leave the base. Keck will accompany the president as he is driven back to Air Force One. [Associated Press, 10/2/2001; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; American History, 10/2006 pdf file; Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016]

Entity Tags: Ari Fleischer, Charles Schumer, Donald Rumsfeld, George E. Pataki, Andrew Card, Rudolph (“Rudy”) Giuliani, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush, Karl C. Rove, US Secret Service, Thomas Keck, Karen Hughes

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The Executive Support Center.The Executive Support Center. [Source: US Department of Defense]Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and several other senior Pentagon officials move from the National Military Command Center (NMCC) to the Executive Support Center (ESC) due to the poor air quality in the NMCC. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 132; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 156-157] Since around 11:00 a.m., Rumsfeld, Myers, and a small number of their colleagues had been in the Joint Chiefs of Staff conference room within the NMCC, participating in a secure video teleconference (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 4/9/2003 pdf file; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 155] As the teleconference progressed, they started feeling unwell, and an air quality specialist with the Arlington County Fire Department subsequently came and told them that the oxygen level in the conference room was dangerously low (see (After 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 340; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012; Graff, 2019, pp. 277-278] Fortunately, Vice Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr., Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant, who had been participating in the teleconference, found that the ESC was smoke-free. Those in the conference room consequently relocate there. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 156-157] The ESC, on the third floor of the Pentagon, is a secure communications hub with a video teleconference facility. [Vogel, 2007, pp. 440] It also has its own air-conditioning system. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 8/1/2002 pdf file] Once he has settled there, Myers passes on Rumsfeld’s authorization for a partial Reserve call-up. Those activated include fighter pilots, air tanker crews, and communications specialists. “With the country suddenly at war, we would need all the help we could muster, and much of that help was in the Reserve and National Guard,” Myers will later comment. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 157]

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, Executive Support Center, Edmund Giambastiani, Donald Rumsfeld

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Steven Bucci.Steven Bucci. [Source: Zeno Gamble / US Department of Defense]Army Captain Lincoln Leibner, who witnessed the attack on the Pentagon, speaks to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his entourage, and is the first person to confirm to them that the building was hit by an American Airlines plane. [Marble and Milhiser, 9/2004, pp. 5; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 61-62; Lofgren, 2011, pp. 62] Leibner works in the Executive Support Center (ESC)—a secure communications hub on the third floor of the Pentagon. He was scheduled to come into work at 10:00 p.m. this evening for a night shift and was therefore at home when the crashes at the World Trade Center took place. But after seeing the second crash live on television, at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001), he called the ESC and said he was going to come in right away to help out, since “any crisis or any development requiring the attention of the secretary [of defense] causes our activity to go up most dramatically,” he will later comment. When he got to the Pentagon, he found his usual parking space was taken and so he had to park in lane one of the south parking lot, which is the lane furthest from the building. After leaving his car, he started jogging toward the building.
Witness Saw 'the Entire Terminal Descent' of Flight 77 - While he was approaching one of the entrances, he witnessed Flight 77 crashing into the building, at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). He initially heard the very loud sound of jet engines. He turned his head toward where the noise was coming from, expecting to see a fighter jet there, but instead saw a passenger aircraft descending toward the Pentagon. [Boston Globe, 9/8/2002; Marble and Milhiser, 9/2004, pp. 3] “I saw the jetliner clear the ridge right by the Navy Annex, coming down Columbia Pike,” he will describe. [Lofgren, 2011, pp. 56] “I watched the entire terminal descent,” he will recall. [Marble and Milhiser, 9/2004, pp. 3] The plane was so close to him that he noticed the American Airlines markings on it. “I could see actually through the windows of the airplane as it came past; it was that close,” he will say. [Boston Globe, 9/8/2002; Lofgren, 2011, pp. 57] He saw the last three or four seconds of the plane’s flight and then watched “the entire airplane go into the building.”
Witness Was Probably the First Person to Reach the Crash Site - He was about 100 yards from the point of impact and immediately ran toward the building. [Boston Globe, 9/8/2002; Marble and Milhiser, 9/2004, pp. 3] “I was probably the first person on the scene,” he will comment. [US Medicine, 5/2002] He was able to enter the building through a door that had been blown off its hinges. [Boston Globe, 9/8/2002; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 61] He then went in and out several times, helping rescue people from there. [US Medicine, 5/2002] Firefighters told people to get away from the building just before the wall that was impacted collapsed (see 10:15 a.m. September 11, 2001). Then, even though he had only minor injuries, he was put in an ambulance and taken to the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. [Boston Globe, 9/8/2002; Marble and Milhiser, 9/2004, pp. 4-5; Lofgren, 2011, pp. 61] He was able to return to the Pentagon early in the afternoon. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 62]
Witness Was Advised to Talk to Rumsfeld - Once there, he went to the ESC, where he told his immediate supervisor what he had experienced. He then talked to Colonel Steven Bucci, military assistant to the secretary of defense, and Bucci recommended that he talk to Rumsfeld. [Marble and Milhiser, 9/2004, pp. 5] Rumsfeld moved to the ESC earlier this afternoon after smoke from the crash site started seeping into the National Military Command Center, where he had been located (see 12:19 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 132; Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 340-341]
Rumsfeld Seems to Doubt the Witness's Account - Leibner goes into the conference room where Rumsfeld and a few of his colleagues, including General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are sitting, and describes to them what he saw when the Pentagon was attacked. “I told them the plane came in full throttle, level, flaps up, wheels up; wasn’t crashed into the building, was flown into the building,” he will recall. He says the aircraft he saw was an American Airlines plane. This is “the first personal account” that Rumsfeld has heard of the attack, Leibner will comment. The secretary of defense, however, appears incredulous. “Even at this point, I don’t believe the secretary was confident that, in fact, a civilian airliner had hit the building,” Leibner will say, adding, “I think they still speculated about a bomb, a cruise missile, a small aircraft.” Rumsfeld asks Leibner if he is positive about what hit the Pentagon. “Was I sure? Was I certain?” Leibner will recall being asked. However, “I was close enough to look into the windows of the airplane as it flew past,” he will comment, and so there is “no doubt in my mind what I had seen.” [Marble and Milhiser, 9/2004, pp. 5-6; Lofgren, 2011, pp. 62]
Rumsfeld Earlier Determined that an American Airlines Plane Hit the Pentagon - Although Rumsfeld now appears dubious of Leibner’s account of what hit the Pentagon, he in fact determined himself that the building was likely hit by a large plane after examining the crash site this morning. He immediately headed to the site after the Pentagon was hit (see 9:38 a.m. September 11, 2001) and had seen “[h]undreds of pieces of metal… scattered across the grass in front of the building.” He had picked up what he will describe as “a small, twisted piece of metal from whatever had hit the Pentagon.” [Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 335-336] He “looked at some inscription on it” and then said aloud, “American Airlines,” according to Officer Aubrey Davis, one of his security guards (see Between 9:38 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 7/20/2006 pdf file; Cockburn, 2007, pp. 2] When he returned to the building and went to the ESC, he told the people there, “I’m quite sure it was a plane and I’m pretty sure it’s a large plane” (see (10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WBZ Radio 1030 (Boston), 9/15/2001; Clarke, 2006, pp. 221] After telling Rumsfeld what he witnessed, Leibner is advised to go home, but he decides to stay at the ESC and continues working there for the rest of the day. [Marble and Milhiser, 9/2004, pp. 6; Lofgren, 2011, pp. 62-63]

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Richard B. Myers, Steven Bucci, Lincoln Leibner

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gives Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld an update on what he knows about the crisis and the military’s response to it, which includes details of the rules of engagement for fighter jets. Since 12:19 p.m., the two men have been in the Executive Support Center on the third floor of the Pentagon (see 12:19 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 132; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 156-157]
Myers Says Planes Are Inbound from the Far East - Myers now informs Rumsfeld that the FAA has reported that five airliners inbound to the United States from the Far East have come too far on their journeys to head back due to low fuel. One of these, Korean Airlines Flight 85, is squawking the hijack code on its transponder, although this may be the result of pilot error rather than evidence of another hijacking, Myers will later recall telling Rumsfeld. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 157] (However, according to USA Today, while the FAA has been alerted to this suspicious flight (see (Shortly Before 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001), the plane will only start squawking the hijack code over 40 minutes later, at 1:24 p.m. (see 1:24 p.m. September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 8/12/2002] ) Fighters have been scrambled to escort all five airliners, Myers says (see (12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001).
NORAD Wants More Air Defense Units - He tells Rumsfeld that NORAD has contacted the Pentagon requesting an additional Reserve call-up of air defense units and this request will be routed through the secretary of defense’s office to the president. To avoid any confusion, he reminds Rumsfeld that air defense and air sovereignty are primarily Air National Guard missions. He also says the US Coast Guard is completing its own Reserve call-up and Admiral James Loy, commandant of the Coast Guard, has given his commanders authority to challenge any inbound vessels. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 157]
Rumsfeld Wants to Settle the Issue of Rules of Engagement - Rumsfeld brings up the subject of “rules of engagement” for fighters defending US airspace. [Clarke, 2006, pp. 225] Since they arrived at the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center, at around 9:58 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. respectively, Myers and Rumsfeld have worked on these rules, which include guidelines for when fighter pilots should shoot down a suspicious aircraft (see (Between 10:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004 pdf file; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] “I want to tie up the rules of engagement,” Rumsfeld says. He adds: “We need granularity here. This is not simple for a pilot, especially if he knows he’s shooting down a plane over a civilian area like Washington.” [Clarke, 2006, pp. 225]
Rumsfeld Approves NORAD's Rules of Engagement - “I’ve got the final recommended [rules of engagement] from General [Ralph] Eberhart at NORAD,” Myers tells Rumsfeld. He describes what these are. “If our fighters intercept an aircraft obviously heading for a runway, they will let it land, but if a plane is on a glide path toward a possible government target or civilian installation, they will shoot it down,” he says. “Clearly, shooting down a civilian airliner with innocent men, women, and children on board was not a good option, but given the circumstances, it was really the only course of action to minimize the death and destruction planned by the hijackers,” he will reflect. “Our pilots will have to exercise great discipline and judgment,” he tells Rumsfeld, since, “If that aircraft veers off, it will be too late.” Rumsfeld approves these rules. “This was not a time to be indecisive,” Myers will comment, since rules of engagement are “a deadly serious matter.” [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 157-158] However, the Department of Defense will only circulate written rules of engagement sometime after 1:00 p.m., according to the 9/11 Commission Report (see (1:45 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465]

Entity Tags: James Loy, Donald Rumsfeld, Ralph Eberhart, Federal Aviation Administration, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Richard B. Myers, US Coast Guard

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center.Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center. [Source: FAA]The pilots of a Korean Airlines passenger jet that is due to land in the US and is considered a possible hijacking, switch their plane’s transponder to transmit the code signaling a hijacking, even though the plane has not been hijacked. [Spencer, 2008, pp. 277-278] Korean Airlines Flight 85 is a Boeing 747 bound from Seoul, South Korea, to New York, and which is currently heading for a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska. For reasons that are unclear, the plane’s pilots included the code signaling a hijacking in a text message they sent to their airline at 11:08 a.m. The FAA was notified of this and alerted controllers at its Anchorage Center to the suspicious flight (see (Shortly Before 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). The FAA also alerted NORAD, which launched fighter jets to follow the aircraft (see (12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Anchorage Daily News, 9/29/2001; USA Today, 8/12/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 257]
Pilots Send Signal Indicating a Hijacking - Flight 85 entered the Anchorage Center’s airspace at around 1:00 p.m. The air traffic controller there who is handling the flight queried the pilots to determine whether their plane had been hijacked. He used a code word when speaking to them, as a way of covertly asking if the plane was hijacked, in case the crew was unable to speak openly over the radio. However the pilots offered no reassurance that their plane was secure. Instead, at 1:24 p.m., they switch the plane’s transponder (a device that sends information about an aircraft to controllers’ radar screens) to “7500”: the universal code that means a plane has been hijacked. This action sets off “a frenzy of activity,” according to USA Today. Within minutes, Alaska’s governor orders the evacuation of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, as well as the evacuation of federal buildings and all large hotels in Anchorage.
FAA Wants Flight to Remain on Current Course - However, officials at the FAA’s Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, are unconvinced that Flight 85 has been hijacked, and advise the Anchorage Center controllers not to redirect it. The Command Center is in contact with Korean Airlines headquarters, which is emphatically stating it has received no indication that Flight 85 is in trouble. Ben Sliney, the national operations manager at the Command Center, urges the Anchorage Center controllers to keep seeking clarification from Flight 85’s pilots about the status of their aircraft. [USA Today, 8/12/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 277-278] But NORAD will instruct the controllers to direct the plane away from Anchorage (see (Shortly After 1:24 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 278] Flight 85 will continue transmitting the hijack code from its transponder until it lands in Canada at 2:54 p.m. (see 2:54 p.m. September 11, 2001). Only then will officials be able to confirm that the flight has not been hijacked (see September 12, 2001).
Reason for False Alarm Unclear - No clear explanation will be given as to why the pilots of Flight 85 switch their transponder to the hijacking code. In August 2002, USA Today will state: “To this day, no one is certain why the pilots issued the alert.… The Korean pilots may have misinterpreted the controller’s comments as an order to reset the transponder.” [USA Today, 8/12/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 278-279] Korean Airlines officials will say the pilot of Flight 85 believed that controllers at the Anchorage Center were directing him to send out the hijack signal. Administrator Michael Lim will say: “Our captain was following their instruction. They even told the captain to transmit code 7500, hijack code. Our captain, who realized how serious it is, they were just following instructions.” However, the airline will refuse to make available a tape recording of conversations between the pilot and its officials on the ground in Anchorage. [Anchorage Daily News, 9/29/2001]

Entity Tags: Ben Sliney, Federal Aviation Administration, Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center, Korean Airlines, Michael Lim

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The commander of the Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR) orders air traffic controllers to redirect a Korean Airlines passenger jet that is mistakenly suspected of being hijacked, and warns that he will have the aircraft shot down if it refuses to change course. [Spencer, 2008, pp. 278]
Korean Jet Indicating Hijacking - Korean Airlines Flight 85 is a Boeing 747 heading to New York, and which is currently due to land in Anchorage, Alaska, for a refueling stop. Although Flight 85 has not been hijacked, its pilots have given indications that the plane has been hijacked (see (Shortly Before 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001 and 1:24 p.m. September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 8/12/2002] NORAD has been alerted, and Lieutenant General Norton Schwartz, the ANR commander, has ordered fighter jets to take off and follow the aircraft (see (12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Anchorage Daily News, 9/29/2001; Spencer, 2008, pp. 257]
Commander Threatens Shootdown - While the FAA wants Flight 85 to remain on its current course, ANR wants it redirected. Controllers at the FAA’s Anchorage Center repeatedly query the pilots, yet they give no reassurance that their plane has not been hijacked. Therefore, Schwartz decides he has had enough. He orders the Anchorage Center controllers to turn the aircraft, and says that if it refuses to divert and remains on its current course, he will have it shot down. [USA Today, 8/12/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 278] At some point, presumably around this time, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is contacted and gives his authorization for Flight 85 to be shot down if necessary (see (Shortly After 1:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Globe and Mail, 9/12/2002]
Plane Redirected to Remote Airport - Following Schwartz’s order, a controller instructs Flight 85 to head about 100 miles north of Anchorage, fly east, and then turn southeast for Yakutat, a fairly remote airport with a runway long enough to land the 747. As requested, the plane changes course, which shows those on the ground that its pilot is still in control.
NORAD Decides to Land Plane in Canada - However, weather conditions in Yakutat are deteriorating, and it is unclear whether that airport’s navigational aids and on-board maps are adequate to guide the plane over the risky mountainous terrain. Furthermore, FAA controllers discover that Flight 85 has less than an hour’s worth of fuel remaining. ANR personnel brainstorm over what to do, and decide to have the plane land at Whitehorse Airport in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Schwartz contacts the Canadian authorities and they agree to this. [Alaska Legislature. Joint Senate and House Armed Services Committee, 2/5/2002; Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002] Escorted by the fighter jets, Flight 85 will head to Whitehorse Airport and land there at 2:54 p.m. (see 2:54 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Spencer, 2008, pp. 278]

Entity Tags: Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center, Federal Aviation Administration, Alaskan NORAD Region, Norton Schwartz

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Jean Chrétien.Jean Chrétien. [Source: University of Alberta]Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien gives his authorization for US fighter jets to shoot down a passenger jet that is suspected of being hijacked, if necessary. [Globe and Mail, 9/12/2002] Korean Airlines Flight 85 is a Boeing 747 heading to New York, but due to land in Anchorage, Alaska, for a refueling stop. Although the plane has not been hijacked, its pilots have given indications that it is hijacked (see (Shortly Before 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001 and 1:24 p.m. September 11, 2001). NORAD has therefore scrambled fighter jets to follow it (see (12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 8/12/2002] Lieutenant General Norton Schwartz, the commander of the Alaskan NORAD Region, has ordered air traffic controllers to turn Flight 85 away from Anchorage, and said he would have it shot down if it refused to divert (see (Shortly After 1:24 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Spencer, 2008, pp. 278] According to the Globe and Mail, the command of the Canadian NORAD Region, in Winnipeg, agreed that “the airliner could enter Canadian airspace accompanied by the US fighters, but insisted the decision to shoot it down must be the Canadian government’s.” Now, Chrétien receives a phone call from a Canadian NORAD commander. He is told Flight 85 might have to be shot down. Chrétien replies, “Yes, if you think they are terrorists, you call me again, but be ready to shoot them down.” Chrétien will later state, “I authorized [the shootdown] in principle.” Reflecting on the difficult decision he makes, he will say: “It’s kind of scary that… [there is] this plane with hundreds of people and you have to call a decision like that.… But you prepare yourself for that. I thought about it—you know that you will have to make decisions at times that will [be] upsetting you for the rest of your life.” [Globe and Mail, 9/12/2002; National Post, 9/12/2002] Flight 85 is redirected to Whitehorse Airport in Canada, and will land there safely at 2:54 p.m. (see 2:54 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Spencer, 2008, pp. 278]

Entity Tags: Canadian NORAD Region, Jean Chretien

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The Department of Defense finally circulates written rules of engagement, which will give fighter pilots an understanding of the circumstances under which a hostile aircraft can be shot down. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465] Since arriving at the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC), at around 9:58 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. respectively, General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have worked on establishing these rules (see (Between 10:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004 pdf file; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] However, Myers will later admit that in the “initial period”—apparently meaning the first hour—after he entered the NMCC, “he did not do anything to ensure that effective rules of engagement were communicated to pilots.” [9/11 Commission, 2/17/2004 pdf file] In fact, Rumsfeld only approved the final recommended rules of engagement, which Myers had received from General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, at around 12:40 p.m. (see 12:40 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 157-158] And the Department of Defense only circulates written rules of engagement “sometime after 1:00 p.m.,” according to the 9/11 Commission Report. It apparently does so at 1:45 p.m. At this time, it faxes a memo that includes the rules to Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, DC. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465] Journalist and author Andrew Cockburn will comment that Rumsfeld and Myers’s work on rules of engagement was therefore “an irrelevant exercise,” since the times at which the rules are completed and issued are “hours after the last hijacker had died.” [Cockburn, 2007, pp. 7]

Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, Andrews Air Force Base

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

A Korean Airlines 747 at Whitehorse Airport.A Korean Airlines 747 at Whitehorse Airport. [Source: Government of Yukon]A Korean Airlines passenger jet that is mistakenly considered hijacked and is low on fuel lands without incident at Whitehorse Airport, in Canada’s Yukon Territory. [USA Today, 8/12/2002; Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002]
Plane Still Transmitting Hijack Signal - Korean Airlines Flight 85 is a Boeing 747 with 215 people on board, and was on its way from Seoul, South Korea, to New York. Although it has not been hijacked, for reasons that are unclear, its pilots have given indications that the plane has been hijacked (see (Shortly Before 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001 and 1:24 p.m. September 11, 2001). Flight 85 was due to land in Anchorage, Alaska, for a refueling stop, but has been diverted to Whitehorse (see (Shortly After 1:24 p.m.) September 11, 2001). The aircraft is still transmitting a beacon code indicating it is hijacked, 90 minutes after its pilots switched the transponder to that code. [USA Today, 8/12/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 257, 277-278] Fighter jets that launched to follow Flight 85 (see (12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001) have escorted the plane all the way from Alaska to Whitehorse. [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 9/12/2001; USA Today, 8/12/2002; Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002]
Schools and Government Buildings Evacuated - Because hijacking is a criminal activity, the Whitehorse Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has taken charge of the local response to Flight 85. The RCMP removed children from schools and evacuated buildings that are considered probable targets for terrorist attacks, including the Yukon government’s main administration building and Whitehorse City Hall. All non-essential members of staff have been evacuated from the Whitehorse Airport terminal building; a security perimeter has been established around the airport; and part of the Alaska Highway has been closed. [Yukon Government, 11/13/2001, pp. 14-15 pdf file] Police suggested that downtown businesses and residents evacuate, but most have not done so.
Co-Pilot Escorted off Plane at Gunpoint - Flight 85 now lands at Whitehorse Airport safely and without incident, and is directed to a secluded area on the tarmac. [Anchorage Daily News, 9/29/2001; USA Today, 8/12/2002; Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002] Heavily armed members of the RCMP surround it. [Canadian Press, 9/12/2001; United Press International, 9/12/2001] A single RCMP officer then walks up the plane’s steps and asks to speak with a member of the flight crew. The co-pilot subsequently emerges and is escorted off the plane at gunpoint. [Anchorage Daily News, 9/29/2001] One witness to the incident will later recount, “He had everyone drawing down on him and he had to take some clothes off, wave his shirt in the air and all that.” [Canadian Press, 9/12/2001] The rest of the crew and the passengers will be escorted off the plane later on, around 5:10 p.m. The passengers will be instructed to leave all their personal items, including their carry-on luggage, on the aircraft. [Anchorage Daily News, 9/29/2001; Yukon Government, 11/13/2001, pp. 17 pdf file; Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002] The fighters that escorted Flight 85 to Whitehorse will circle above the airport while the plane is being inspected. [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 9/12/2001] The RCMP will finally confirm that Flight 85 had not been hijacked early the following morning (see September 12, 2001). [Yukon Government, 11/13/2001, pp. 18 pdf file]
Reasons for Landing at Whitehouse Unclear - Although it was reportedly because of the plane’s lack of fuel that it was decided to land Flight 85 at Whitehorse Airport, a report published by the government of Yukon in November 2001 will state: “The question of why this potentially dangerous aircraft was directed to Whitehorse rather than another airport remains unanswered by senior national agencies, the [FAA], NORAD, and Transport Canada.… [Q]uestions about the decision-making process to re-direct [Flight 85] to Whitehorse have not been answered in any significant detail.” The report will add, “It is expected that greater detail on this will not be forthcoming from these agencies in the short-term.” [Yukon Government, 11/13/2001, pp. 5 pdf file; Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002]

Entity Tags: Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

President Bush takes part in a video teleconference at Offutt Air Force Base. Chief of Staff Andrew Card sits on his left, and Admiral Richard Mies sits on his left.
President Bush takes part in a video teleconference at Offutt Air Force Base. Chief of Staff Andrew Card sits on his left, and Admiral Richard Mies sits on his left. [Source: White House]At Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, President Bush convenes the first meeting of the National Security Council since the attacks occurred. [Woodward, 2002, pp. 26] He begins the video conference call from a bunker beneath the base. He and Chief of Staff Andrew Card visually communicate directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, and others. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; ABC News, 9/11/2002; Washington Times, 10/8/2002] According to Clarke, Bush begins the meeting by saying, “I’m coming back to the White House as soon as the plane is fueled. No discussion.” But according to Condoleezza Rice, he begins with the words, “We’re at war.” Clarke leads a quick review of what has already occurred, and issues that need to be quickly addressed. Bush asks CIA Director Tenet who he thinks is responsible for the day’s attacks. Tenet later recalls, “I told him the same thing I had told the vice president several hours earlier: al-Qaeda. The whole operation looked, smelled, and tasted like bin Laden.” Tenet tells Bush that passenger manifests show that three known al-Qaeda operatives had been on Flight 77. According to Tenet, when he tells the president in particular about Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (two of the alleged Flight 77 hijackers), Bush gives Mike Morell, his CIA briefer, “one of those ‘I thought I was supposed to be the first to know’ looks.” (Other evidence indicates the third al-Qaeda operative whose name is on the passenger manifest would be Salem Alhazmi (see 9:53 p.m. September 11, 2001).) Tenet tells the meeting that al-Qaeda is “the only terrorist organization capable of such spectacular, well-coordinated attacks,” and that “Intelligence monitoring had overheard a number of known bin Laden operatives congratulating each other after the attacks. Information collected days earlier but only now being translated indicated that various known operatives around the world anticipated a big event. None specified the day, time, place or method of attack.” Richard Clarke later corroborates that Tenet had at this time told the president he was certain that al-Qaeda was to blame. Yet only six weeks later, in an October 24, 2001 interview, Rice will claim differently. She will say, “In the first video conference, the assumption that everybody kind of shared was that it was global terrorists.… I don’t believe anybody said this is likely al-Qaeda. I don’t think so.” Tenet also relays a warning the CIA has received from French intelligence, saying another group of terrorists is within US borders and is preparing a second wave of attacks. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld briefs on the status of US forces, and states that about 120 fighters are now above US cities. [Woodward, 2002, pp. 26-27; Clarke, 2004, pp. 21-22; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 326 and 554; Tenet, 2007, pp. 169] The meeting reportedly ends around 4:00-4:15 p.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Washington Times, 10/8/2002]

Entity Tags: Norman Mineta, Osama bin Laden, Richard Armitage, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Richard A. Clarke, National Security Council, George W. Bush, George J. Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, Andrew Card, Al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The Pentagon crash site.The Pentagon crash site. [Source: US Department of Defense]Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visit the site of the Pentagon attack. [American Forces Press Service, 9/9/2011; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Since 12:19 p.m., the two men have been in the Executive Support Center, on the third floor of the Pentagon (see 12:19 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 132; Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 156-157] Rumsfeld visited the crash site this morning, immediately after the Pentagon was attacked (see Between 9:38 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Cockburn, 2007, pp. 1-3; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 130] But this is the first time Myers has been there. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] Colonel Matthew Klimow, Myers’s executive assistant, accompanies them. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012]
Myers Notices Plane Parts - When they arrive at the crash site, the men inspect it. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 158] Klimow will later describe what he sees. “The first thing I saw was a huge debris field—bits and pieces of Flight 77”—the plane that hit the Pentagon (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001)—“scattered on the ground, glittering in the sun like confetti,” he will say. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Myers will recall that some of the heavier parts of the airliner—the landing gear and the engines—are recognizable. [American Forces Press Service, 9/9/2011] Klimow also notices the “huge V-shaped gash in the building” and “smoke still billowing up.” [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] “The walls and roof on a wide section of this western Pentagon sector had collapsed into a heap of still-smoldering rubble,” Myers will describe. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 158] However, he will comment, he is “impressed that more of the building hadn’t collapsed.” [American Forces Press Service, 9/9/2011] Myers also notices the many workers, including firefighters, medical personnel, and police officers, who are trying to help in any way they can. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002]
Rumsfeld and Myers Talk to Rumsfeld's Flight Surgeon - While Rumsfeld and Myers are at the crash site, Colonel John Baxter comes over and talks to them. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] Baxter is the commander of the Pentagon’s Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic and also Rumsfeld’s flight surgeon, who accompanies the secretary of defense on trips. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 58; Condon-Rall, 2011, pp. 15] He describes to Rumsfeld, Myers, and Klimow the triage and treatment of patients he has conducted. It is unclear when Rumsfeld and Myers visit the crash site. They go there at 4:00 p.m., according to Klimow. [George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] But Myers will recall that they go there “[j]ust before 5:00 p.m.” [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 158] Rumsfeld will visit the site again later this afternoon with a larger group (see (Between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Clarke, 2006, pp. 228]

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, Matthew S. Klimow, John Baxter, Donald Rumsfeld

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Sergei Ivanov.Sergei Ivanov. [Source: Russian government]Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld calls Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and requests that the Russians call off an exercise their military has been conducting. Since 12:19 p.m., Rumsfeld has been based in the Executive Support Center, on the third floor of the Pentagon (see 12:19 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 131-132] He calls Ivanov, who is in Moscow, sometime after the meeting of the National Security Council convened by President Bush from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska—which he participated in—ends (see (3:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Ivanov “sounded sad” as the two men discuss the casualties of today’s terrorist attacks, Rumsfeld will later recall. Rumsfeld requests that the Russian military stand down an exercise near Alaska. [Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 343-344] The Russian Air Force began this major exercise over the North Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans yesterday and it was scheduled to last all week (see September 10, 2001). [BBC, 2001, pp. 161; North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/9/2001; Washington Times, 9/11/2001] “[O]ur forces were understandably sensitive now about any intrusions into American airspace,” Rumsfeld will comment, and, he will add, “I didn’t want problems to arise inadvertently between our two countries.” [Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 344] Ivanov says the Russian military is immediately canceling the exercise. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 160] The exercise was in fact canceled this morning, according to some accounts (see (After 10:03 a.m.) September11, 2001), and Russian President Vladimir Putin promptly informed the US government of this when he spoke to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice over the phone (see Between 10:32 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Washington Post, 1/27/2002; Baker and Glasser, 2005, pp. 122; Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System, 9/8/2011] Ivanov also promises “solidarity” and Russian cooperation with the US during the call with Rumsfeld, and recommends a G-8 summit on terrorism. [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 160; Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. 344]

Entity Tags: Russian Air Force, Donald Rumsfeld, Sergei Ivanov

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Joseph Wassel.Joseph Wassel. [Source: Defense Information Systems Agency]Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visits the scene of the Pentagon attack for the third time today. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 7/2/2002 pdf file; Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 12/23/2002 pdf file] He went to the crash site this morning, immediately after the attack occurred (see Between 9:38 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. September 11, 2001), and visited it again earlier this afternoon with General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (see (Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 130; American Forces Press Service, 9/9/2011] Rumsfeld is accompanied by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John Warner (R-VA), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, when he visits the crash site for the third time. The two senators called him earlier on to promise their wholehearted support, and he had suggested they come and visit the Pentagon. He is also accompanied by a number of aides. These include Vice Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr., his senior military assistant; Joseph Wassel, assistant to the secretary of defense for communications; and Victoria Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Clarke will later describe what they see when they arrive at the scene. “Thousands of metal shards covered everything—the wreck of the building, the grass, what was left of the Pentagon’s helicopter pad,” she will write, adding that “[t]he massive wall—recently reinforced as part of a long-planned renovation—had collapsed in on itself.” Fires are still burning as the group quietly walks around the site. As Rumsfeld and his entourage head back into the building, they pass uniformed personnel standing over dead bodies covered in white sheets. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 4/9/2003 pdf file; Clarke, 2006, pp. 228-229]

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Carl Levin, Edmund Giambastiani, Joseph M. Wassel, Victoria (“Torie”) Clarke, John W. Warner

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announces that, despite the unprecedented attack there this morning, September 12 will be a normal day at the Pentagon and he wants all employees to report for work. [Vogel, 2007, pp. 455; Graff, 2019, pp. 362] Rumsfeld has, since 12:19 p.m., been based in the Executive Support Center, on the third floor of the Pentagon (see 12:19 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 132] Earlier in the afternoon, he went outside to inspect the crash site and saw the extent of the damage there (see (Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Myers and McConnell, 2009, pp. 158; George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 8/3/2012] He saw that while the west wall is breached and on fire, the building’s other four sides are undamaged and at least 60 percent of the building is unaffected by the attack. [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 247-248]
Rumsfeld Has Not Consulted the Incident Commander - He now tells those around him: “I want the chain of command to notify everybody that tomorrow, 12 September, is a normal workday at the Pentagon. I want everybody here reporting for work.” This is “a pretty startling announcement,” Colonel Matthew Klimow, executive assistant to General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will later comment. [Graff, 2019, pp. 362] Rumsfeld did not consult Assistant Chief James Schwartz of the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD), who is the incident commander at the Pentagon, or building supervisors before making the decision to reopen the Pentagon. [Vogel, 2007, pp. 455] “I hadn’t talked to anybody when I said that [the Pentagon should open the next day],” he will recall. His decision was based on his impression “that the smoke and problems had declined, and that there were undoubtedly significant portions of the building that could be occupied safely,” he will say. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 12/23/2002 pdf file] “Having it open for business the next day seemed to me to be important,” he will comment.
Firefighters Will Be Alarmed at Rumsfeld's Decision - Rumsfeld’s announcement, however, will cause concern among senior fire officials. Schwartz will be “astonished at the news,” according to journalist and author Steve Vogel, since firefighters are “battling a big and dangerous fire, an unknown number of dead [are] in the rubble, and there [is] danger of further collapse.” [Vogel, 2007, pp. 455] Chief Edward Plaugher of the ACFD will also be concerned, for a number of reasons. Pamela Varley, a senior case writer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, will describe these, writing: “From a fire safety perspective, it was not considered wise to have the utilities turned back on in parts of the building while the roof was on fire and a large volume of water was being sprayed there. In addition, the crash and fire were emitting potentially dangerous toxins into the building’s air supply. Finally, to have thousands of workers coming and going from the Pentagon complicated the task of controlling and securing the site, and threatened to impede the emergency response.” [Varley, 2009, pp. 256] FBI representatives, meanwhile, will be concerned because the Pentagon is a crime scene. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 144] And Steve Carter, the assistant building manager, will be “flabbergasted,” according to Vogel, although he will understand the rationale behind Rumsfeld’s decision, since the Pentagon has never closed its doors in its history. [Vogel, 2007, pp. 455]
Special Measures Will Be Arranged So the Pentagon Can Reopen - Rumsfeld’s decision will place additional burdens on the ACFD response force and the FBI’s evidence recovery team. [US Department of Health and Human Services, 7/2002, pp. A65 pdf file] Plaugher and John Jester, chief of the Defense Protective Service—the law enforcement agency that guards the Pentagon—will begin an informal negotiation over what will be necessary for large numbers of people to return to the Pentagon. Plaugher will insist that plywood barriers be erected to cordon off the whole area between Corridors 3 and 6. He will also want armed guards with the authority to turn back even the most senior officers placed at every juncture, to prevent military personnel returning to their wrecked offices. And, in light of the smoke and fumes from the fires, he will want plans in place to evacuate the building at a moment’s notice, if necessary. [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 248-249] Due to FBI concerns, yellow crime scene tape and guards will signify that sections of the building between Corridors 2 and 7 are off limits, and wooden wall barriers will later be built to further restrict access to the crash site. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 144] Rumsfeld will publicly announce his decision to reopen the Pentagon on September 12 during a news briefing at 6:42 p.m. (see 6:42 p.m. September 11, 2001). [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001; Government Executive, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Arlington County Fire Department, Edward Plaugher, Steve Carter, Donald Rumsfeld, Matthew S. Klimow, James Schwartz, Pentagon, John Jester

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Donald Rumsfeld speaking at his 6:42 p.m. news briefing. Behind the secretary of defense, left to right, are Thomas White, Henry Shelton, John Warner, and Carl Levin.Donald Rumsfeld speaking at his 6:42 p.m. news briefing. Behind the secretary of defense, left to right, are Thomas White, Henry Shelton, John Warner, and Carl Levin. [Source: Bob Houlihan/US Navy]Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and four other senior officials give a news briefing at the Pentagon, which is broadcast live around the world, to reassure the public that the US government is still functioning and the nation is strong, and during the briefing Rumsfeld says that, despite the devastating attack there, the Pentagon will reopen the following day. [Government Executive, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; Giesemann, 2008, pp. 34; Shelton, Levinson, and McConnell, 2010, pp. 436] Joining Rumsfeld in the Pentagon press room to give the briefing are Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John Warner (R-VA), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the committee’s ranking minority member, respectively; General Henry Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has returned to the US after his flight to Europe was aborted (see (8:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001); and Secretary of the Army Thomas White, who has come to the Pentagon from the alternate command location. [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 145] Levin and Warner called Rumsfeld earlier in the day, promising him their wholehearted support, and he had suggested they come over to the Pentagon. [Clarke, 2006, pp. 228]
Officials Addressing Millions of Americans - As Rumsfeld and the four other men stood outside the press room before the briefing, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke informed them, “Gentlemen, you are about to address 320 million Americans who have witnessed an unspeakable tragedy today.” [Giesemann, 2008, pp. 34]
Pentagon 'Will Be in Business Tomorrow' - Rumsfeld begins the briefing, reading out a statement he has written by hand. He says, “This is a tragic day for our country,” and adds, “We have taken a series of measures to prevent further attacks and to determine who is responsible.” After summarizing some of the Defense Department’s actions throughout the day, Rumsfeld gives reassurance that the Pentagon is still up and running, pointing out that “the briefing here is taking place in the Pentagon. The Pentagon’s functioning,” and, he adds, “It will be in business tomorrow.” Shelton calls the day’s terrorist attacks “an outrageous act of barbaric terrorism carried out by fanatics,” and states, “I have no intentions of discussing today what comes next, but make no mistake about it, your armed forces are ready.”
'No Information' that Military Shot Down Any Aircraft - Rumsfeld takes a number of questions from reporters, but refuses to speculate about any uncertain information. When asked: “What about Osama bin Laden? Do you suspect him as the prime suspect in this?” Rumsfeld answers, “It’s not the time for discussions like that.” One reporter says, “[T]here were rumors earlier in the day that the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania had been brought down by the United States, either shot down or in some other manner,” to which Rumsfeld responds, “We have absolutely no information that any US aircraft shot down any other aircraft today.” [US Department of Defense, 9/11/2001; Clarke, 2006, pp. 230-231]
Briefing Would Be a 'Powerful Statement' - The briefing has come about because Clarke felt earlier on that Rumsfeld should do a media briefing today and that, despite the objections of others, it should be conducted at the Pentagon, as this would be “the most powerful statement we could deliver that we were open for business.” Rumsfeld agreed with Clarke’s suggestion to hold such a briefing. [Clarke, 2006, pp. 229-230] Shelton will later recall that the feedback the briefing generates “by far surpassed any other I have ever received. The nation was obviously shaken and looking for reassurance that their government was still functioning.” [Shelton, Levinson, and McConnell, 2010, pp. 436]

Entity Tags: Carl Levin, Henry Hugh Shelton, Donald Rumsfeld, Thomas E. White, John W. Warner, Victoria (“Torie”) Clarke

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, finally confirms that a suspicious passenger jet that landed at Whitehorse Airport the previous afternoon was never hijacked. [Yukon Government, 11/13/2001, pp. 18 pdf file; Alaska Legislature. Joint Senate and House Armed Services Committee, 2/5/2002]
Plane Showed Five Indicators of a Hijacking - Korean Airlines Flight 85 is a Boeing 747 that was heading from Seoul, South Korea, to New York on September 11, but was diverted to Whitehorse (see (Shortly After 1:24 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Although the plane was not hijacked, its pilots had been giving indications that it was hijacked (see (Shortly Before 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001 and 1:24 p.m. September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 8/12/2002; Spencer, 2008, pp. 277-278] According to a report published by the government of Yukon, “There were five separate and ongoing indicators of a hijacking situation,” although the report will not specify what those indicators were. [Yukon Government, 11/13/2001, pp. 17 pdf file]
Pilots and Crew Questioned - Flight 85 landed at Whitehorse Airport without incident at 2:54 p.m. the previous afternoon (see 2:54 p.m. September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 8/12/2002; Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002] Investigators then interviewed its pilots and crew. [Anchorage Daily News, 9/29/2001; Spencer, 2008, pp. 278-279] One of the pilots cited miscommunication as the reason for the false hijack reports. [Yukon Government, 11/13/2001, pp. 17, 36 pdf file]
Spokeswoman Announced No Hijacking - Several hours after Flight 85 landed, airport spokeswoman Brenda Wale had announced: “It’s not a hijacking situation. There was a communications problem aboard the plane so they were unable to communicate and respond properly to the tower anywhere they went. It raised alarm bells.” [Canadian Press, 9/12/2001] At 5:10 p.m. that afternoon, following a discussion between the RCMP and other responding agencies, Whitehorse Airport and part of the Alaska Highway that had been closed earlier on were reopened.
Police Confirms No Hijacking of Flight 85 - Because hijacking is a criminal activity, the Whitehorse RCMP has been in charge of the local response to Flight 85. Very early this morning, it brings a bomb-sniffing dog onto the plane to search it. The aircraft’s cargo is also searched. No threats are found. Finally, two hours later, the RCMP confirms that a hijacking situation did not exist on Flight 85. The aircraft is security cleared and approved to depart from Whitehouse once FAA and Transport Canada airspace restrictions have been lifted and scheduling requirements have been made. [Yukon Government, 11/13/2001, pp. 4, 14-18 pdf file] Flight 85 will leave Whitehorse on September 13, and fly on to New York. [Anchorage Daily News, 9/29/2001; Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/2002]

Entity Tags: Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

John Farmer.John Farmer. [Source: Publicity photo]The team of investigators on the 9/11 Commission that is investigating the events of the morning of September 11 comes to believe that a key part of Vice President Dick Cheney’s account is false. The team, led by John Farmer, is convinced that the decision to authorize the military to shoot down threatening aircraft on 9/11 was made by Cheney alone, not by President Bush. According to journalist and author Philip Shenon: “If Farmer’s team was right, the shootdown order was almost certainly unconstitutional, a violation of the military chain of command, which has no role for the vice president. In the absence of the president, military orders should have been issued by Defense Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld, bypassing the vice president entirely.”
No Evidence - Other than Cheney’s own account of his actions that morning, and a subsequent attempt Bush made to confirm this account, the team has found no evidence that the president was involved in making the shootdown decision before Cheney issued the order, and much evidence that he was unaware of this decision. Shenon will describe: “Even in moments of crisis, the White House keeps extraordinary records of communications involving Bush and his senior staff; every phone call is logged, along with a detailed summary of what happened during the call.… But for 9/11, the logs offered no evidence of a call between Cheney and Bush in which Bush authorized a shootdown. And Farmer’s team reviewed more than just one set of communications logs. There were seven of them—one maintained by the White House telephone switchboard, one by the Secret Service, one by the Situation Room, and four separate logs maintained by military officers working in the White House.” [Shenon, 2008, pp. 265-266]
Issued by Cheney - The Commission believes Cheney issued the shootdown order between around 10:10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. on 9/11, in response to reports of an aircraft heading toward Washington (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 41]
No Notes - Yet deputy White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, who was with Cheney at the time, had reportedly “not heard any prior conversation on the subject [of shooting down aircraft] with the president.” As Newsweek describes: “Nor did the real-time notes taken by two others in the room, Cheney’s chief of staff, ‘Scooter’ Libby—who is known for his meticulous record-keeping—or Cheney’s wife, Lynne, reflect that such a phone call between Bush and Cheney occurred or that such a major decision as shooting down a US airliner was discussed.… National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and a military aide said they remembered a call, but gave few specifics.” [Newsweek, 6/27/2004] The notes of White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who had been on Air Force One with the president, show no reference to a shootdown order until several minutes after Cheney issued it (see 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001).
"Completely Understandable" - Daniel Marcus, the general counsel of the 9/11 Commission, will later say he thought: “[I]n many ways, it would have been completely understandable for Cheney to issue a shootdown order without authorization from Bush. Whatever the constitutional issues, it would have been difficult to second-guess Cheney about a decision to save the White House from destruction if a suicide hijacker was bearing down on the capital and there were only seconds to act.” Yet, as Marcus will recall, Cheney’s staff is “obsessed with showing that he didn’t give the order.” [Shenon, 2008, pp. 266-267]
Cheney Angry - White House lawyers will subsequently lobby the 9/11 Commission to amend its treatment of the shootdown issue in one of its staff reports (see June 15, 2004). [Newsweek, 6/27/2004] And, on this same issue, an angry Cheney will try to get the 9/11 Commission Report changed just before it is released (see Shortly Before July 22, 2004). [Shenon, 2008, pp. 411-412]

Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, John Farmer, 9/11 Commission, Daniel Marcus

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

White House lawyers send an angry letter to the 9/11 Commission, which causes the Commission to water down its staff report account of Vice President Dick Cheney’s actions on September 11. [Newsweek, 6/27/2004] Members of the team of investigators on the 9/11 Commission examining the events of the morning of 9/11 believe that a key part of Cheney’s account, regarding the shootdown order, is false (see (Mid 2004)). [Shenon, 2008, pp. 265] The Commission has found that Cheney issued the shootdown order, but he and President Bush have stated that this was only after the president had authorized the shooting down of threatening aircraft during a phone call between the two men. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 40-41] However, the Commission has found “no documentary evidence for this call.” Newsweek learns that “some on the Commission staff [are], in fact, highly skeptical of the vice president’s account and made their views clearer in an earlier draft of their staff report.” Some staffers “flat out didn’t believe the call ever took place.” But when the early draft was circulated among the Bush administration, it provoked an angry reaction. White House spokesman Dan Bartlett will say, “We didn’t think it was written in a way that clearly reflected the accounting the president and vice president had given to the Commission.” In a series of phone calls and a letter from its lawyers, the White House forcefully lobbies the Commission to change the language in its report. According to Newsweek, “Ultimately the chairman and vice chair of the Commission, former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean and former representative Lee Hamilton… agreed to remove some of the offending language. The report ‘was watered down,’ groused one staffer.” [Newsweek, 6/27/2004] The amended staff report will be presented days later, on June 17, at the final round of the Commission’s public hearings. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; New York Times, 6/17/2004] Cheney will again be angry at how the Commission has dealt with the shootdown issue in its final report, and tries to get this report changed on the eve of its release (see Shortly Before July 22, 2004). [Shenon, 2008, pp. 267]

Entity Tags: Dan Bartlett, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean, White House, Lee Hamilton

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline, 2004 Elections

Around this time, various weather forums and bloggers begin to discuss the threat to New Orleans that Katrina poses. Brendan Loy, a self-described “meteorology nerd” from Indiana, posts the following blog, titled “New Orleans in Peril,” at 11:37 am: “At the risk of being alarmist, we could be 3-4 days away from an unprecedented cataclysm that could kill as many as 100,000 people in New Orleans. Such a scenario is unlikely—the conditions would have been just right (or rather, just wrong)—but IMHO, it’s not nearly unlikely enough to feel good about things. If I were in New Orleans, I would seriously consider getting the hell out of dodge right now, just in case.” Loy continues: “Normally, watches go up approximately 48 hours before the leading edge of the storm is expected to hit, but I wonder whether the NHC might fudge that a bit, and issue watches earlier, if New Orleans looks like the target, in light of the time-consuming logistical nightmare that a citywide evacuation would be. On the other hand, an evacuation that ultimately proves to have been unnecessary is economically costly and, more importantly, may have a vigilance-lowering ‘boy who cried wolf’ effect, especially since it would be the second time in as many years. So this is going to be a tough call for the NHC. Here’s hoping they get it right… and here’s praying that New Orleans is spared.” [Loy, 8/26/2005] (See also, generally, [Masters, 8/26/2005] )

Entity Tags: Brendan Loy

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, reports that the latest computer models indicate, “the threat of a strike on New Orleans by Katrina as a major hurricane has grown. The official NHC forecast is now 170 miles west of where it was at 11am, and still is to the east of the consensus model guidance. It would be no surprise if later advisories shift the forecast track even further west and put Katrina over New Orleans. Until Katrina makes its northward turn, I would cast a very doubtful eye on the model predictions of Katrina’s track.” [Masters, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Throughout this afternoon and evening, Katrina’s threat to New Orleans dominates the airwaves and the internet. Residents, officials, and weather experts repeatedly plead with residents to evacuate and warn of the inevitability of massive flooding Katrina will bring. Douglas Brinkley, historian and New Orleans resident, sums up the twin problems as follows: “Unfortunately, this is an economically depressed city. And a lot of poor people living in shotgun shacks and public housing don’t have the ability to get in a car and just disappear. And we’ve made openings at the Superdome where people will be fed and have a place to sleep if they want to get out of their low-lying house.” With respect to the flooding threat, Brinkley laments: “The Army Corp. of Engineers has done a good job with the levee system. Not good enough. I’ve heard it, it’s almost become a cliche, but it is like a tea cup or bowl here in New Orleans. And if you get hit from the east, Pontchartrain water comes flooding in. And that’s—at all costs, we don’t want that to happen. By and large, more than any major city in the United States, New Orleans is unprepared for a disaster from a hurricane. It’s just the—one of the names you called it the Big Easy. It’s also the City Time Forgot, and sometimes we let things get into disrepair, you know. Potholes and weak levees are recipes for potential disaster when a hurricane like Katrina comes around the bend.” [Fox, 8/27/2005] Online news and blogs buzz with the coming catastrophe. [Associated Press, 8/27/2005; Masters, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, US Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans Superdome

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

“Although the damage will be incredible, it could have been much, much worse,” states Jeff Matthews, meteorologist with the Weather Underground. Masters notes, however, that the National Weather Service “is reporting that the levees in Orleans and St Bernard parishes have been overtopped by the storm surge, and there are reports of life-threatening flooding, roof damage, and building collapses in the city.” Masters warns that “Bay Saint Louis, Biloxi, and Gulfport Mississippi will take the full force of Katrina’s right eyewall, and a storm surge of 15-20 feet is likely along the west and central Mississippi coast.” Masters closes his post with a personal note: “A special thanks need to be given to the Air Force Hurricane Hunters based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, who have flown Katrina around the clock while their families remained on the ground in Biloxi. Biloxi will suffer Katrina’s harshest blow, and many of the Hurricane Hunters will see their homes destroyed or heavily damaged.” [Masters, 8/29/2005] Tomorrow morning, Masters will recall the initial relief after Hurricane Andrew: “As news reports begin to filter in from the hardest hit areas, the scope of Katrina’s destruction is slowly being realized. Remember in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, how there was a lot of relief about how much worse it could have been, and how well Miami fared? This cheerfulness faded once the search teams penetrated to Homestead and found the near-total devastation there [W]ith a two block long breach in the Lake Pontchartrain levee allowing the entire City of New Orleans to flood today, we are witnessing a natural disaster of the scope unseen in America since the great 1938 Hurricane devastated New England, killing 600. Damage from Katrina will probably top $50 billion, and the death toll will be in the hundreds.” [Masters, 8/30/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service, Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Andrew, Keesler Air Force Base, Air Force Hurricane Hunters

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Ordering 

Time period


Email Updates

Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database

 
Donate

Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
Donate Now

Volunteer

If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.
Contact Us

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike