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Complete 911 Timeline

9/11 Investigations

Project: Complete 911 Timeline
Open-Content project managed by matt, Derek, Paul, KJF, mtuck, paxvector

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Hamilton and Cheney hold a press conference together about the Iran-Contra Affair investigation on June 19, 1987.Hamilton and Cheney hold a press conference together about the Iran-Contra Affair investigation on June 19, 1987. [Source: J. Scott Applewhite]Future 9/11 Commission vice chairman Lee Hamilton (D-IN), at this time chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, fails to properly investigate Iran-Contra allegations. He learns of press reports indicating that the Reagan administration is illegally funneling weapons and money to the anti-Communist rebels in Nicaragua, but when the White House denies the story, Hamilton believes it. Hamilton will later acknowledge that he has been gullible, and will say of his political style, “I don’t go for the jugular.” It is during the Iran-Contra investigation that Hamilton becomes friends with Dick Cheney, at this time a Republican congressman. (Shenon 2008, pp. 33) Cheney is the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and so must work closely with Hamilton, including on the Iran-Contra investigation. (PBS 6/20/2006) Hamilton calls Cheney “Dick” and they will remain friends even after Cheney becomes vice president in 2001 and Hamilton, as vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, begins to investigate Cheney’s actions as a part of the Commission’s work. (Shenon 2008, pp. 33) Hamilton will also fail to properly investigate “October Surprise” allegations (see 1992-January 1993).

In 1992, a House of Representatives task force chaired by Lee Hamilton (D-NH) conducts a ten-month investigation into the “October Surprise”—an alleged Republican plot to delay the release of US hostages held in Iran in 1980 until after that year’s US presidential election. The investigation concludes in 1993 that there is “no credible evidence” of any such plot. But Robert Parry, a journalist writing for the Associated Press and Newsweek, gains access to the stored records of Hamilton’s task force. He finds clear evidence of a major cover up. For instance, William Casey, CIA Director in the early 1980s, was alleged to have been involved in the plot, and Hamilton’s investigators discovered a CIA created index of Casey’s papers made after Casey’s death in 1987. When investigators searched Casey’s possessions, they found all the papers mentioned in the index, except for all the ones relevant to the alleged October Surprise plot. But the disappearance of such evidence was not mentioned in Hamilton’s findings. (Scott 2007, pp. 101) In addition, an official Russian intelligence report placing Casey in Europe in order to arrange a politically favorable outcome to the hostage crisis arrived in Washington shortly before Hamilton’s task force issued their conclusions, but this Russian information was not mentioned by the task force. (Scott 2007, pp. 106-107) Hamilton will later be appointed co-chair of the 9/11 Commission (see December 11, 2002).

’Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft,’ by Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice.’Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft,’ by Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice. [Source: Harvard University Press]Future National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Philip Zelikow, who, as executive director of the 9/11 Commission, will investigate her performance in the run-up to 9/11, co-author a book about the implications of German reunification. The two had worked together on the National Security Council in the 1980s and early 90s, but are both now working at universities. Zelikow is a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Rice is the provost at Stanford. The book, entitled Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft, is mostly written by Zelikow, who is, in author Philip Shenon’s words, “pleased to share credit with such an obvious up-and-comer as Rice.” (Shenon 2008, pp. 40-41)

In his opening remarks at a conference on contemporary political history organized by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, future 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow emphasizes that the public understanding of history is shaped by what are sometimes referred to as “public myths.” “[U]nderstanding contemporary political history is extremely important and constantly alive in public discourse. ‘Contemporary’ is defined functionally by those critical people and events that go into forming the public’s presumptions about its immediate past. This idea of ‘public presumption’ is akin to William McNeill’s notion of ‘public myth’ but without the negative implication sometimes invoked by the word ‘myth.’ Such presumptions are beliefs (1) thought to be true (although not necessarily known to be true with certainty), and (2) shared in common within the relevant political community. The sources for such presumptions are both personal (from direct experience) and vicarious (from books, movies, and myths).” Zelikow says that public assumptions often grow out of “searing events”: “particularly ‘searing’ or ‘molding’ events take on ‘transcendent’ importance and, therefore, retain their power even as the experiencing generation passes from the scene.” (Zelikow 1999 pdf file) In a previous publication, Zelikow had written about how a “catastrophic terrorism” event could constitute a momentous, history-shaping milestone: “An act of catastrophic terrorism that killed thousands or tens of thousands of people… would be a watershed event in America’s history.… Like Pearl Harbor, such an event would divide our past and future into a ‘before’ and ‘after’” (see November 1997-August 1998).

Historian Ernest May.Historian Ernest May. [Source: Belfer Center]An eminent historian finds serious flaws in a historical treatise about former President John F. Kennedy. The book, The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis, was written in 1997 by conservative historians Ernest May and Philip D. Zelikow, and purports to be an unprecedentedly accurate representation of the events of 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis based on transcriptions of recorded meetings, conferences, telephone conversations, and interviews with various participants. (Stern 5/2000) Zelikow is a former member of George H. W. Bush’s National Security Council and a close adviser to future National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. (US Department of State 8/5/2005) May is a Harvard professor. Both will participate heavily in the creation of the 2004 report by the 9/11 Commission. (Shenon 2008, pp. 387-393) Almost three years after the Kennedy book’s publication, Sheldon M. Stern, the historian for the John F. Kennedy Library from 1977 through 1999, pores over it and the May/Zelikow transcripts. In the original edition, May and Zelikow admitted that their final product was not perfect: “The reader has here the best text we can produce, but it is certainly not perfect. We hope that some, perhaps many, will go to the original tapes. If they find an error or make out something we could not, we will enter the corrections in subsequent editions or printings of this volume.” But when Stern checks the book against the tapes, he finds hundreds of errors in the book, some quite significant. Stern concludes that the errors “significantly undermine [the book’s] reliability for historians, teachers, and general readers.” May and Zelikow have corrected a few of the errors in subsequent editions, but have not publicly acknowledged any errors. Stern concludes, “Readers deserve to know that even now The Kennedy Tapes cannot be relied on as an accurate historical document.” (Stern 5/2000) One error has then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy talking about the planned “invasion” of Russian ships heading to Cuba, when the tapes actually show Kennedy discussing a far less confrontational “examination” of those vessels. May and Zelikow imply that the Kennedy administration was discussing just the kind of confrontation that it was actually trying to avoid. Another error has CIA Director John McCone referring to the need to call on former President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a “facilitator,” where McCone actually said “soldier.” May and Zelikow will be rather dismissive of Stern’s findings, saying that “none of these amendments are very important.” Stern will express shock over their response, and respond, “When the words are wrong, as they are repeatedly, the historical record is wrong.” (Shenon 2008, pp. 42)

Future 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow is not offered a job in the Bush administration, and returns to the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia to teach. Zelikow had worked on the transition team (see January 3, 2001), and thought he would receive an important position in the new administration. He told his friends he thought he was in line for the position of deputy national security adviser to Condoleezza Rice, with whom he had written a book in the mid-1990s (see 1995). Most people in the Bush administration admire his ability, but find him hard to work with. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card will even describe Zelikow as a “bully” historian. Author Philip Shenon will later comment that Zelikow is “perplexed that his talents had not been recognized by the people who handed out the best jobs in the Bush administration.” After returning to university, Zelikow will lobby the White House to make the university where he works the official repository of its oral history. His point of contact at the White House is political adviser Karl Rove. (Shenon 2008, pp. 42-44)

Condoleezza Rice and Philip Zelikow.Condoleezza Rice and Philip Zelikow. [Source: Public domain]National Security Adviser Rice decides this day to retain Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for the Clinton administration, and his staff. However, she downgrades his official position as National Coordinator for Counterterrorism. While he is still known as the counterterrorism “tsar,” he has less power and now reports to deputy secretaries instead of attending Cabinet-level meetings. He no longer is able to send memos directly to the president, or easily interact with Cabinet-level officials. (Clarke 2004, pp. 227-30; Blumenthal 3/25/2004) Clarke will not be able to meet with President Bush even a single time before 9/11 to discuss al-Qaeda (see January 25, 2001-September 10, 2001). In 2004, Rice will reveal that the person she tasks with considering changes to Clarke and his staff is Philip Zelikow, the future Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission. Zelikow recuses himself from those parts of the 9/11 Commission’s investigation directly relating to his role in this and other matters. However, 9/11 victims’ relatives are not satisfied. For instance, one relative says, “Zelikow has conflicts. I’m not sure that his recusal is sufficient. His fingerprints are all over that decision [to demote Clarke].” (Waterman 4/9/2004)

A Federal Express 727 lands in New Mexico in August 2001.A Federal Express 727 lands in New Mexico in August 2001. [Source: Associated Press]US company Raytheon flies and lands a Federal Express 727 passenger jet six times on a military base in New Mexico, entirely by remote control and without a pilot on board. This is done to test equipment intended to make hijackings difficult, by allowing ground controllers to take over the flying of a hijacked plane. The Associated Press will later report, “[T]he Raytheon test used technology that provides the extremely precise navigational instructions that would be required for remote control from a secure location.” The Associated Press will observe, “Unmanned, ground controlled reconnaissance aircraft have been used by the military for missions over Iraq and Kosovo,” and will quote Thomas Cassidy, president of the California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and manufacturer of the military aircraft, as saying, “It’s a reliable system.” (Associated Press 10/2/2001; Der Spiegel (Hamburg) 10/28/2001)
Raytheon Employees on 9/11 Planes - Several Raytheon employees with possible ties to this remote control technology and/or Raytheon’s Global Hawk program will be reported to have been on the hijacked 9/11 flights (see September 25, 2001). Earlier in the year, a specially designed Global Hawk plane flew from the US to Australia without pilots or passengers. (ITN 4/24/2001)
Others Say Remote Control Is Impossible - Contradicting the Associated Press report, a number of media reports after 9/11 will suggest such technology is impossible, or flatly deny its existence. For instance, The Observer will quote an expert as saying, “the technology is pretty much there,” but is still untried. (Vulliamy et al. 9/16/2001) An aviation-security expert at Jane’s Defence Weekly will say this type of technology belongs “in the realms of science fiction.” (Ayling 9/18/2001; Economist 9/20/2001) And in late September 2001, President Bush will give a speech in which he mentions that the government would give grants to research “new technology, probably far in the future, allowing air traffic controllers to land distressed planes by remote control.” (Bumiller 9/28/2001)

Mike Pecoraro.Mike Pecoraro. [Source: Chief Engineer]Mike Pecoraro, an engineer who is part of the crew that services the World Trade Center complex, is at work in the mechanical shop in the second subbasement of the north WTC tower when it is hit. When the room he is in starts filling with white smoke and he can smell kerosene (jet fuel), he heads upstairs with a co-worker toward a small machine shop on the C level. Yet, he will later recall: “There was nothing there but rubble. We’re talking about a 50 ton hydraulic press—gone!” He then heads for the parking garage, yet finds that “there were no walls, there was rubble on the floor, and you can’t see anything.” He ascends to the B level where he sees a 300-pound steel and concrete fire door, which is lying on the floor, wrinkled up “like a piece of aluminum foil.” Pecoraro recalls seeing similar things at the WTC when it was bombed in 1993 and is therefore convinced that a bomb has gone off this time. When he makes it into the main lobby, he sees massive damage. “The whole lobby was soot and black, elevator doors were missing,” he will describe. “The marble was missing off some of the walls. Twenty-foot section of marble, 20 by 10 foot sections of marble, gone from the walls.… Broken glass everywhere, the revolving doors were all broken and their glass was gone.” Pecoraro will say he only later hears that “jet fuel actually came down the elevator shaft, blew off all the [elevator] doors, and flames rolled through the lobby. That explained all the burnt people and why everything was sooted in the lobby.” He makes it out of the North Tower before it collapses. (Chief Engineer 8/1/2002)

Brian Clark.Brian Clark. [Source: CTV]Brian Clark, the executive vice president of brokerage firm Euro Brokers, was on the 84th floor of the South Tower, where his firm’s offices are, when Flight 175 crashed into it. He had headed out, going down Stairway A, which is the only staircase in the tower that remains intact from top to bottom, and was soon joined by Stanley Praimnath, who also works in the South Tower. They reach a point that Clark later guesses to have been around the 77th or 78th floor, where the stairway walls are cracked, allowing them to look through. This would be around the lower end of the floors where the plane impacted. However, Clark sees no large fire. He later says, “[Y]ou could look through the cracks and see flames. They were just quietly licking up, not a roaring inferno. And there was some smoke there, but again I think the stairs were pressurized, pushing the air out so we had less smoke in the stairway than you might imagine.” (BBC 3/7/2002; New York Times 5/26/2002; Clark 9/6/2002; 9/11 Commission 5/18/2004) This apparently contradicts later claims that the tower was subjected to “extreme fires” prior to its collapse. (Lipton 10/20/2004) Firefighter Orio Palmer will make it up to this level of the tower later on, and also report only finding small fires there (see 9:52 a.m. September 11, 2001). Clark and Praimnath continue down the stairs and make it out just minutes before the collapse. They are two of only four people who were at or above the impact zone after Flight 175 hit, who are able to escape from the South Tower. (Okwu 9/9/2002) A further 14 people are able to get out of the building from its 78th floor, which is the lower part of the crash zone. (Dwyer and Flynn 2005, pp. 255)

A director at Boston’s Logan Airport receives the passenger manifests for Flight 11 and Flight 175, and reportedly is able to quickly single out the names of the five hijackers on each of these flights. Ed Freni, the director of aviation operations at Logan, had phoned his contacts at American and United Airlines who are based at the airport roughly around 9:00-9:15. He had requested the manifests for the two hijacked planes that took off from there (see (9:00 a.m.-9:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Several pages with names listed in long columns now roll out of the fax machine in the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) aviation office at Logan, where Freni recently arrived. Freni looks over the manifest for Flight 11. Aware that Arab men attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, he searches for any Arabic names. According to author Tom Murphy, he circles the names of the five men later accused of being the plane’s hijackers: “In 2A and 2B, he circled two, both W. Alshehri. In 8D, M. Atta, and 8G, A. Alomari. In 10B, he circled S. Al Suqami.” None of the names of the other individuals on the plane appear suspicious to him. Freni then looks over the manifest for Flight 175. Again, according to Murphy, he singles out the names of the men later accused of being the plane’s hijackers: “He circled F. Alquadibanihammad [presumably Fayez Ahmed Banihammad], A. Alghamdi, H. Alghamdi, M. Alshehri, and M. Alshehhi.” Freni asks John Duval, Logan’s deputy director of operations who is with him in the aviation office, “FBI here yet?” Duval replies, “They’re on the way over from downtown.” Freni says, “Tell ‘em we got their guys.” (Murphy 2006, pp. 34-36) However, at 10:59 a.m., the FBI’s Chicago command post will receive a copy of the manifest for Flight 175, and, according to an FBI document, this will have six Muslim names on it—one more than Freni reportedly singles out. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/12/2001 pdf file) Presumably the sixth Muslim name is that of Touri Bolourchi, a nurse originally from Iran. (Donovan et al. 6/30/2002) There were also at least another two passengers on Flight 11 with names that might appear to be Arabic, yet that Freni apparently does not single out: Waleed Iskandar was a Lebanese management consultant. (Kazak 12/12/2001; Bryson 9/11/2002) And Rahma Salie was an IT consultant of Sri Lankan descent. (Usborne 10/11/2001; Depalma et al. 7/14/2002)

Shortly before Flight 77 hits the Pentagon, Washington’s Dulles Airport, from where it had departed, is “locked down” by the FAA, and many FBI and INS agents arrive, but their behavior is considered odd. Ed Nelson, a security manager at the airport, thinks something is not “adding up,” due to the unusual questions his employees are being asked: “They were not asking about the hijackers—they were focusing on what my screeners might have done wrong. It was as if they were working off a script.” FBI agents will later confirm this, and an FBI supervisor will say: “The orders came from headquarters through the local Washington-area FBI field offices and the Joint Task Force on Terrorism. The teams of agents were told to ‘get the screeners to admit they had violated FAA recommended procedures.’” (Trento and Trento 2006, pp. 36)

Royce Lamberth, head of the FISA court which grants warrants for intelligence cases, grants five warrantless surveillance requests minutes after the Pentagon attack. Lamberth will later report being stuck in a carpool lane near the Pentagon when it is hit. With his car enveloped in smoke, he calls US marshals to help him get to his office. Lamberth will later say that by the time officers reached him, “I had approved five FISA coverages [warrants] on my cellphone.” (Sniffen 6/24/2007) Presumably this represents the start of a flurry of surveillance activity in response to the 9/11 attacks, but it is not known who was to be monitored or how their names were learned and acted on so quickly.

Logo of the FBI’s National Capital Response Squad.Logo of the FBI’s National Capital Response Squad. [Source: FBI]Within five minutes of the Pentagon being hit, the first group from the FBI’s National Capital Response Squad arrives there. Due to this being a terrorist attack, the Pentagon and its grounds are immediately declared a federal crime scene. Under the terms of a 1995 presidential directive, this makes them the exclusive responsibility of the FBI. The FBI immediately begins collecting evidence and is also responsible for recovering bodies. Its agents are able to confiscate security videos from a nearby gas station within minutes of the crash (see (After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). More than 700 FBI agents, assisted by hundreds of individuals from other organizations, will participate in the recovery operation. (US President 6/21/1995; Dinan 9/12/2001; US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A-7, A-23, C-1, C-54 pdf file)

Ronald Bucca.
Ronald Bucca. [Source: Public domain]Two firefighters climbing up the South Tower, Orio Palmer and Ronald Bucca, have reached its 78th floor, the lower end of the impact zone where Flight 175 hit. (Dwyer and Fessenden 8/4/2002) They are just two floors below the level where, minutes later, its collapse initiates. (Federal Emergency Management Agency 5/1/2002, pp. 2-34) Over radio, Palmer tells firefighter Joseph Leavey, “We’ve got two isolated pockets of fire. We should be able to knock it down with two lines.” (Dwyer and Flynn 2005, pp. 206) The fact that they reached so high up the tower only comes to light almost a year later, when a tape of radio communications from 9/11 is made public (see August 4, 2002). The New York Times will report “[N]owhere on the tape is there any indication that firefighters had the slightest indication that the tower had become unstable or that it could fall.” (Dwyer and Flynn 11/9/2002) Palmer’s communication appears to contradict claims that “extreme fires” contributed to the tower’s collapse. (Barter 9/13/2001; Lipton 10/20/2004) Ronald Bucca, a Special Forces veteran, had actually conducted his own private research into Islamic militancy following the 1993 WTC bombing. He’d even taken time, in 1996, to attend the beginning of the trial of Ramzi Yousef, a mastermind of the bombing (see September 5, 1996). (Lance 2003, pp. 180-183, 333-334)

Numerous witnesses, including firefighters and other rescue workers, hear explosions at the start of, and during, the collapse of the south WTC tower. Some of them report hearing a single explosion:
bullet Jeff Birnbaum: “There was an explosion and the whole top leaned toward us and started coming down.” (Lucy 2/1/2002)
bullet Battalion Chief John Sudnik: “[W]e heard a loud explosion or what sounded like a loud explosion and looked up and I saw Tower Two start coming down.” (Sudnik 11/7/2001)
bullet Firefighter Edward Kennedy hears “a tremendous boom, explosion… and the top of the building was coming down at us.” (Kennedy 1/17/2002)
bullet Firefighter Edward Sheehey hears “an explosion, looked up, and the building started to collapse.” (Sheehey 12/4/2001)
bullet Battalion Chief Thomas Vallebuona: “I heard ‘boom,’ an exploding sound, a real loud bang. I looked up, and I could see the Trade Center starting to come down.” (Vallebuona 1/2/2002)
bullet EMT Julio Marrero: “I heard a loud bang. We looked up, and we just saw the building starting to collapse.” (Marrero 10/25/2001)
Other witnesses report hearing multiple explosions:
bullet Journalist Pete Hamill: “We heard snapping sounds, pops, little explosions, and then the walls bulged out, and we heard a sound like an avalanche.” (Hamill 9/11/2001)
bullet Police officer Sue Keane, who is an Army veteran, is located in the north WTC tower: “[I]t sounded like bombs going off. That’s when the explosions happened.… It started to get dark, then all of a sudden there was this massive explosion.” (Hagen and Carouba 2002, pp. 65)
bullet Firefighter Keith Murphy, who is in the lobby of the North Tower: “[T]he first thing that happened, which I still think is strange to me, the lights went out.… I had heard right before the lights went out, I had heard a distant boom boom boom, sounded like three explosions.… At the time, I would have said they sounded like bombs, but it was boom boom boom and then the lights all go out.… I would say about 3, 4 seconds, all of a sudden this tremendous roar.” (Murphy 12/5/2001)
bullet Firefighter Craig Carlsen hears “explosions coming from building two, the South Tower. It seemed like it took forever, but there were about ten explosions.… We then realized the building started to come down.” (Carlsen 1/25/2002)
bullet Firefighter Thomas Turilli, who is in the lobby of the North Tower: “[A]ll of a sudden you just heard like it almost actually that day sounded like bombs going off, like boom, boom, boom, like seven or eight, and then just a huge wind gust just came… It just seemed like a huge explosion.” (Turilli 1/17/2002)
bullet Firefighter Stephen Viola: “[T]hat’s when the South Tower collapsed, and it sounded like a bunch of explosions. You heard like loud booms.” (Viola 1/10/2002)
bullet Firefighter Lance Lizzul: “[W]e heard some bangs. That made us look up, and that’s when the first Trade Center came down.” (Lizzul 12/10/2001)
bullet Paramedic Kevin Darnowski: “I heard three explosions, and then we heard like groaning and grinding, and Tower Two started to come down.” (Darnowski 11/9/2001)
However, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which conducts a three-year study of the WTC collapses, will subsequently claim it found “no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives” (see October 26, 2005). (National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. 146)

Deputy Fire Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick.Deputy Fire Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick. [Source: City of New York]Numerous witnesses to the collapse of the south WTC tower think it resembles a demolition using explosives. Some initially believe this is what is occurring:
bullet Reporter John Bussey watches the collapse from the Wall Street Journal’s offices across the street from the WTC. He says, “I… looked up out of the office window to see what seemed like perfectly synchronized explosions coming from each floor, spewing glass and metal outward. One after the other, from top to bottom, with a fraction of a second between, the floors blew to pieces.” (Bussey 9/12/2001)
bullet Deputy Fire Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick: “I remember seeing, it looked like sparkling around one specific layer of the building.… Then the building started to come down. My initial reaction was that this was exactly the way it looks when they show you those implosions on TV.” (Fitzpatrick 10/1/2001)
bullet Assistant Fire Commissioner Stephen Gregory: “I saw low-level flashes. In my conversation with Lieutenant Evangelista… he questioned me and asked me if I saw low-level flashes in front of the building, and I agreed with him… I saw a flash flash flash and then it looked like the building came down.… You know like when they demolish a building, how when they blow up a building, when it falls down? That’s what I thought I saw.” (Gregory 10/3/2001)
bullet Firefighter Richard Banaciski: “It seemed like on television they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions.” (Banaciski 12/6/2001)
bullet Firefighter Joseph Meola: “As we are looking up at the building, what I saw was, it looked like the building was blowing out on all four sides. We actually heard the pops.… You thought it was just blowing out.” (Meola 12/11/2001)
bullet Fire Chief Frank Cruthers: “[T]here was what appeared to be at first an explosion. It appeared at the very top, simultaneously from all four sides, materials shot out horizontally. And then there seemed to be a momentary delay before you could see the beginning of the collapse.” (Cruthers 10/31/2001)
bullet Battalion Chief Brian Dixon: “I was watching the fire… the lowest floor of fire in the South Tower actually looked like someone had planted explosives around it because the whole bottom I could see—I could see two sides of it and the other side—it just looked like that floor blew out.… I thought, geez, this looks like an explosion up there, it blew out.” (Dixon 10/25/2001)
bullet Firefighter Timothy Burke: “Then the building popped, lower than the fire… I was going oh, my god, there is secondary device because the way the building popped I thought it was an explosion.” (Burke 1/22/2002)
bullet Firefighter Edward Cachia: “It actually gave at a lower floor, not the floor where the plane hit, because we originally had thought there was like an internal detonation explosives because it went in succession, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then the tower came down.” (Cachia 12/6/2001)
bullet Firefighter Kenneth Rogers: “[T]here was an explosion in the South Tower… I kept watching. Floor after floor after floor. One floor under another after another and when it hit about the fifth floor, I figured it was a bomb, because it looked like a synchronized deliberate kind of thing.” (Rogers 12/10/2001)
bullet Reporter Beth Fertig: “The tower went down perfectly straight, as if a demolition crew had imploded it. I wondered if it was being brought down deliberately.” (Gilbert et al. 2002, pp. 78)
bullet Paramedic Daniel Rivera: “[D]o you ever see professional demolition where they set the charges on certain floors and then you hear ‘Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop’? That’s exactly what—because I thought it was that.” (Rivera 10/10/2001)
bullet Battalion Chief Dominick DeRubbio: “It was weird how it started to come down. It looked like it was a timed explosion.” (DeRubbio 10/12/2001)
bullet The Guardian will report that police on the scene said the collapse “looked almost like a ‘planned implosion’ designed to catch bystanders watching from the street.” (Borger et al. 9/12/2001)
However, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which conducts a three-year study of the WTC collapses, will reject suggestions that the WTC towers were brought down with explosives (see August 30, 2006). CTV will assert, “[F]lashes of light that seemed to indicate bombs detonating were not explosions. They were pockets of airs being forced out of windows as the sagging floors pushed downward.” (Stittle 9/12/2006)

The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. [Source: Associated Press]The South Tower of the World Trade Center tilts to the southeast and then collapses. It was hit by Flight 175 at 9:03 a.m., 56 minutes earlier (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Washington Post 9/12/2001; New York Times 9/12/2001; MSNBC 9/22/2001; Cauchon 12/20/2001; Associated Press 8/21/2002; ABC News 9/11/2002; National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. 44) The first sign of the collapse is visible on floor 82. (National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. 87) The angle of the tilt will be disputed after 9/11 (see September-November 2005), as will the time it takes the towers to fall to the ground (see September 12, 2001-September 2005). (Ashley 10/9/2001; Eagar and Musso 12/2001; PBS Nova 5/2002; National Institute of Standards and Technology 8/30/2006)

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will become well known for his walking press conferences in the middle of the 9/11 crisis.Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will become well known for his walking press conferences in the middle of the 9/11 crisis. [Source: Time Magazine/ Salient Stills]Between 9:25 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., one senior New York fire chief recommends to the Fire Department Chief of Department that there might be a WTC collapse in a few hours, and, therefore, fire units probably shouldn’t ascend much above the sixtieth floor (presumably this assumes the collapse would be gradual so those on lower floors would still have time to evacuate). This advice is not followed or not passed on. Apparently, no other senior fire chiefs mention or foresee the possibility of the WTC towers falling. (9/11 Commission 5/19/2004) However, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani later recounts, “I went down to the scene and we set up headquarters at 75 Barclay Street, which was right there, with the police commissioner, the fire commissioner, the head of emergency management, and we were operating out of there when we were told that the World Trade Center was going to collapse. And it did collapse before we could actually get out of the building, so we were trapped in the building for ten, 15 minutes, and finally found an exit and got out, walked north, and took a lot of people with us.” (ABC News 9/11/2001) As can be seen by another account of similar events, this happens before the first WTC tower falls, not the second. (9/11 Commission 5/19/2004) It is not clear who tells Giuliani to evacuate when no fire chiefs were considering the possibility of an imminent collapse. However, an EMT is also given a message around this time, warning that the towers are going to collapse. The origin of this information is apparently the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, so this may also have been from where Giuliani heard of the imminent collapse (see (Before 9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Shortly after arriving at Washington’s Dulles Airport, from which Flight 77 took off, the FBI confiscates a security tape from a checkpoint through which the hijackers passed before boarding the plane. Airport security manager Ed Nelson will later say: “They pulled the tape right away.… They brought me to look at it. They went right to the first hijacker on the tape and identified him. They knew who the hijackers were out of hundreds of people going through the checkpoints. They would go ‘roll and stop it’ and showed me each of the hijackers.… It boggles my mind that they had already had the hijackers identified.… Both metal detectors were open at that time, and lots of traffic was moving through. So picking people out is hard.… I wanted to know how they had that kind of information. So fast. It didn’t make sense to me.” (Trento and Trento 2006, pp. 37) Some of the hijackers are identified on the passenger manifests around this time (see (9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and this knowledge is disseminated in the US intelligence community (see (After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

At some unspecified time after when Flight 93 crashed, CIA Director George Tenet receives the passenger lists for the hijacked planes. He is currently in the CIA’s printing plant, after having evacuated the agency’s headquarters building (see (9:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). An analyst from the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC) has raced across to the plant with the list, and says, “Some of these guys on one of the planes are the ones we’ve been looking for in the last few weeks.” He specifically points at the names Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi (two of the alleged Flight 77 hijackers). According to Tenet, this is “the first time we had absolute proof of what I had been virtually certain of from the moment I heard about the attacks: we were in the middle of an al-Qaeda plot.” Tenet will later say that after the CTC had first “requested passenger lists from the planes that had been turned into weapons that morning… the initial response from some parts of the bureaucracy (which parts since mercifully forgotten) was that the manifests could not be shared with CIA. There were privacy issues involved.” They were only obtained after some “gentle reasoning, and a few four-letter words.” (Tenet 2007, pp. 167) The agency that provided these lists to the CTC may have been the Customs Office of Intelligence. According to Robert Bonner, the commissioner-designate of US Customs, “through an evaluation of data related to the passengers manifest for the four terrorist hijacked aircraft, Customs Office of Intelligence was able to identify the likely terrorist hijackers. Within 45 minutes of the attacks, Customs forwarded the passenger lists with the names of the victims and 19 probable hijackers to the FBI and the intelligence community” (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 1/26/2004) Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will claim he was told as early as 9:59 a.m. that the FBI had received the passenger manifests from the airlines (see (9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Clarke 2004, pp. 13-14)

According to Newsweek, “shortly after the suicide attacks,” US intelligence picks up communications among bin Laden associates relaying the message: “we’ve hit the targets.” (Hirsh 9/13/2001)

The exterior wall on the south side of the World Trade Center’s North Tower apparently bows before the building collapses. The first inquiry into the collapse, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Society of Civil Engineers, states that the perimeter walls bow outward (see (9:21 a.m.-9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001)). However, a subsequent report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology states that the south wall of the North Tower bows inward. In places the wall is said to bow inward by approximately 55 inches at floor 97, and NIST interprets this bowing to mean that the floors must be sagging. NIST will find that the sagging and bowing are two of the seven major factors that led to the collapse of each tower, as the bowing walls are no longer able to support their share of the buildings’ weight, causing the buildings to tilt and the upper sections to fall. (National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. 32-34, 87)

Some witnesses feel the ground shaking just before the north WTC tower starts collapsing:
bullet Fire Patrolman Paul Curran is in front of the US Customs House (WTC 6), next to the North Tower. He says, “all of a sudden the ground just started shaking. It felt like a train was running under my feet.… The next thing we know, we look up and the tower is collapsing.” (Curran 12/18/2001)
bullet EMS Lieutenant Bradley Mann is heading toward the EMS staging area on Vesey Street. He’d felt the ground shaking prior to the first collapse (see Shortly Before 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001). He says, “The ground shook again, and we heard another terrible noise and the next thing we knew the second tower was coming down.” (Mann 11/7/2001)
bullet Jay Jonas is actually inside the North Tower, on its fourth floor. Seconds before the collapse he feels “a tremendous vibration and shaking; the floor began waving.” (Carbone 9/11/2002)

Almost all the occupants of the North Tower who are able to evacuate the building have done so. Only 107 occupants who were below the impact floors remain in the building, while around 7,400 have escaped. However, 1,355 building occupants in or above the impact zone have either already died or perish in the collapse, as do many emergency workers. Overall, 99 percent of building occupants below the impact floors escape to safety. (National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. xxxviii, 32) Most workers in the South Tower also left the building before it collapsed (see 9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001).

Fire Lieutenant Gregg HanssonFire Lieutenant Gregg Hansson [Source: BBC]Many witnesses hear explosions during the collapse of the north WTC tower. Some report hearing a single explosion:
bullet Reporter Mike Sheehan hears “another deafening explosion. I looked up and saw the top of the North Tower, the mast, begin to fall.” (Gilbert et al. 2002, pp. 126)
bullet Fire Lieutenant William Wall: “[W]e heard an explosion. We looked up and the building was coming down right on top of us.” (Wall 12/10/2001)
bullet Firefighter Roy Chelsen: “All of a sudden we heard this huge explosion, and that’s when the tower started coming down.” (Chelsen 1/18/2002)
bullet EMT Jason Charles: “I heard a ground level explosion and I’m like holy shit, and then you heard that twisting metal wreckage again.” (Charles 1/23/2002)
bullet Firefighter Kevin Murray: “When the tower started—there was a big explosion that I heard and someone screamed that it was coming down.” (Murray 10/9/2001)
bullet Firefighter James Ippolito: “I heard an explosion and turned around and the building was coming down.” (Ippolito 12/13/2001)
bullet Fire Lieutenant Gregg Hansson: “[A] large explosion took place. In my estimation that was the tower coming down, but at that time I did not know what that was. I thought some type of bomb had gone off.” (Hansson 10/9/2001)
bullet Firefighter Kevin Gorman: “I heard the explosion, looked up, and saw like three floors explode, saw the antenna coming down.” (Gorman 1/9/2002)
Others report hearing multiple explosions:
bullet EMT Gregg Brady: “I heard 3 loud explosions. I look up and the North Tower is coming down now.” (Brady 11/1/2001)
bullet Firefighter Richard Carletti: “I remember seeing the antenna do a little rock back and forth and I could just hear the floors pancaking. I heard it for about 30 pancakes, just boom, boom, boom, boom.” (Carletti 1/2/2002)
bullet Fire Lieutenant Michael Cahill: “That’s when the second collapse started to come down. All kinds of noise. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, very loud.” (Cahill 10/17/2001)
bullet Firefighter Sal D’Agostino is actually inside the North Tower, around its fourth floor, when the collapse occurs. He says, “It’s pancaking from the top down, and there were these huge explosions—I mean huge, gigantic explosions.” (Carbone 9/11/2002; Dwyer and Flynn 2005, pp. 241-242)
bullet Firefighter Bill Butler, who is with D’Agostino inside the tower, says, “It was like a train going two inches away from your head: bang-bang, bang-bang, bang-bang.” (Carbone 9/11/2002)
bullet EMT David Timothy: “[Y]ou started hearing more explosions. I guess this is when the second tower started coming down.” (Timothy 10/25/2001)
CTV will later assert, “When eyewitnesses claim to have heard explosions prior to the collapse, those were just the sounds of a massive building contorting and crushing anything inside.” (Stittle 9/12/2006)

Some witnesses to the collapse of the North Tower think it resembles a demolition using explosives:
bullet Fire Captain Dennis Tardio: “I hear an explosion and I look up. It is as if the building is being imploded, from the top floor down, one after another, boom, boom, boom.” (Smith 2002, pp. 18)
bullet Assistant Fire Commissioner James Drury: “[P]eople in the street and myself included thought that the roar was so loud that the explosive—bombs were going off inside the building.” (Drury 10/16/2001)
bullet Firefighter James Curran: “I heard like every floor went chu-chu-chu. Looked back and from the pressure everything was getting blown out of the floors before it actually collapsed.” (Curran 12/30/2001)
bullet EMS Captain Karin Deshore: “Somewhere around the middle of the World Trade Center, there was this orange and red flash coming out. Initially it was just one flash. Then this flash just kept popping all the way around the building and that building had started to explode. The popping sound, and with each popping sound it was initially an orange and then a red flash came out of the building and then it would just go all around the building on both sides as far as I could see. These popping sounds and the explosions were getting bigger, going both up and down and then all around the building. I went inside… and I said I think we have another major explosion.” (Deshore 11/7/2001)
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, in its report on the towers’ collapse, will reject suggestions that the Twin Towers were brought down with explosives (see August 30, 2006). (National Institute of Standards and Technology 8/30/2006)

The North Tower collapses in a matter of seconds.The North Tower collapses in a matter of seconds. [Source: Ray Stubblebine/ Reuters/ Landov] (click image to enlarge)The North Tower of the World Trade Center tilts to the south and then collapses. Its north side was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46, 102 minutes earlier. (CNN 9/12/2001; New York Times 9/12/2001; MSNBC 9/22/2001; Kim and Baum 2002 pdf file; Associated Press 8/21/2002; National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. 33) After the antenna starts to move (see (10:28 a.m. September 11, 2001)), the next sign that the top section of the building is moving downward is on floor 98, at the top of the impact zone. (National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. 22, 87) The angle of the tilt will be disputed after 9/11 (see September-November 2005), as will the time it takes the towers to fall to the ground (see September 12, 2001-September 2005). (Ashley 10/9/2001; Eagar and Musso 12/2001; PBS Nova 5/2002; National Institute of Standards and Technology 8/30/2006) The death toll could have been much worse—an estimated 15,000 people made it out of the WTC to safety after 8:46 a.m. (St. Petersburg Times 9/8/2002)

The team studying the WTC collapses for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will later observe that the antenna on WTC 1 began to fall before the exterior of the building: “Review of videotape recordings of the collapse taken from various angles indicates that the transmission tower on top of the structure began to move downward and laterally slightly before movement was evident at the exterior wall. This suggests that collapse began with one or more failures in the central core area of the building.” (Federal Emergency Management Agency 5/1/2002, pp. 2-27) In a program featuring some members of the FEMA/ASCE team, the BBC will comment: “The mast was directly supported by the tower’s inner core. The way it fell suggests it was failure of the inner core that began the collapse, whereas in the South Tower it had been the outer walls.” (BBC 3/7/2002)

Terri Rizzuto.Terri Rizzuto. [Source:]A United Airlines manager finds that a gate agent has already singled out boarding passes belonging to four suspicious passengers who were on Flight 93. Terri Rizzuto is the United Airlines station manager at Newark Airport, from where Flight 93 departed. Some time after hearing that this plane has crashed, she speaks on the phone with the FBI, which is requesting the plane’s manifest and its Passenger Name Record (PNR). After arranging permission to release these, she goes to Gate 17, from where she knows Flight 93 departed, wanting to talk to her staff there. When she arrives, a supervisor hands her four boarding passes. The supervisor tells her they are “The men, who did this maybe,” and points her toward one of the gate agents who had boarded the passengers onto the flight. When Rizzuto asks the gate agent, “How do you know?” he replies: “They were too well-dressed. Too well-dressed for that early in the morning. And their muscles rippled below their suits.… [A]nd their eyes.” (Murphy 2006, pp. 71-73) However, this report of men with rippling muscles contradicts the 9/11 Commission’s description of the so-called “muscle” hijackers (i.e. the non-pilot hijackers) on the four targeted planes: They “were not physically imposing,” with the majority of them being “slender in build.” (9/11 Commission 6/16/2004)

Wallace Miller.Wallace Miller. [Source: Steve Mellon / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]Wallace Miller, the coroner of Somerset County, who is one of the first people to arrive at the Flight 93 crash scene, is surprised by the absence of human remains at the site. He will later say: “If you didn’t know, you would have thought no one was on the plane. You would have thought they dropped them off somewhere.” (Longman 2002, pp. 217) The only recognizable body part Miller sees is a piece of spinal cord with five vertebrae attached. He will tell Australian newspaper The Age: “I’ve seen a lot of highway fatalities where there’s fragmentation. The interesting thing about this particular case is that I haven’t, to this day, 11 months later, seen any single drop of blood. Not a drop.” (Wright 9/9/2002) Dave Fox, a former firefighter, also arrives early at the crash scene, but sees just three chunks of human tissue. He will comment, “You knew there were people there, but you couldn’t see them.” (Frederick 9/11/2002) Yet, in the following weeks, hundreds of searchers will find about 1,500 scorched human tissue samples, weighing less than 600 pounds—approximately eight percent of the total body mass on Flight 93. Months after 9/11, more remains will be found in a secluded cabin, several hundred yards from the crash site. (Perl 5/12/2002)

The seismic record at Palisades, NY, 34 km north of the World Trade Center.The seismic record at Palisades, NY, 34 km north of the World Trade Center. [Source: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory] (click image to enlarge)According to a seismographical study conducted by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, five distinct shocks occur at the World Trade Center site. They occur at 11:01 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 11:29 a.m., 12:07 p.m., and 12:10 p.m. According to the study, the five resulting seismic signals “may have been generated by additional collapses.” (Earth Institute at Columbia University 11/16/2001; Kim et al. 11/20/2001 pdf file)

Logo of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.Logo of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. [Source: National Air Traffic Controllers Association]Several air traffic controllers at the FAA’s New York Center and a union official representing them express concern that the controllers are going to be recorded recalling their experiences of the morning’s attacks, but are persuaded to go ahead with the recording. (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file; US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Goo 5/7/2004) Mike McCormick, the New York Center manager, has directed that six controllers who communicated with, or tracked, the first two hijacked aircraft participate in a session where they are recorded giving their personal accounts of what happened. (Goo 5/6/2004; Air Safety Week 5/17/2004)
Controllers Apprehensive - According to McCormick, before the session commences there is a general concern among these controllers. He will later tell the 9/11 Commission that they “didn’t want to put things in a formal way that would be used in an investigation. There was also some worry about who would receive the tape.”
Local Union President Concerned - McCormick consults with Mark DiPalmo, the local president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA)—the air traffic controllers’ union. DiPalmo is concerned because the tape recording of statements is not a standard procedure. McCormick assures him that the tape will be available only to law enforcement officers, will only serve as a temporary measure until written statements have been prepared, and the controllers will be able to use their taped statements to help them prepare written ones. (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file; US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Wald 5/6/2004) Ruth E. Marlin, the executive vice president of NATCA, will later say she cannot address the question of why DiPalmo wants the tape to be “temporary.” She will say, however, that if she were in his position, “my concern would be that if tapes were saved permanently, they might be subject to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request, and then controllers would be subject to hearing their own voices recounted on television over and over again.” (Goo 5/7/2004)
Controllers and Union President Consent - The controllers are reassured that the tape with their recorded statements on will not be used for disciplinary purposes, and will be strictly for use only by law enforcement personnel. (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file) DiPalmo agrees to the recording of the controllers on the condition that the tape is only a temporary record until written statements are obtained, after which it should be destroyed. The recording session commences at 11:40 a.m. (see 11:40 a.m. September 11, 2001) and the resulting tape will be destroyed several months later (see Between December 2001 and February 2002). (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file)

A number of air traffic controllers at the FAA’s New York Center provide accounts of their experiences of interacting with, or tracking, two of the hijacked aircraft, on a tape recording that will later be destroyed by one of the center’s managers. (Wald 5/6/2004; Goo 5/7/2004; Air Safety Week 5/17/2004)
Manager Directs Colleague to Record Controllers - Mike McCormick, the New York Center manager, directs the taping. He will later say he does so because he wants a contemporaneous recording of the controllers’ accounts that will be immediately available for law enforcement efforts, in case agencies like the FBI show up at the center. He is also concerned that the controllers might be taking stress-induced sickness leave in response to the attacks. They would therefore be unavailable to give conventional written witness statements in a timely manner, and their recollections would be less clear when they returned from leave. McCormick tells Kevin Delaney, the center’s quality assurance manager, to record the controllers’ statements, and a tape recorder is then set up to do this. (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file; US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Air Safety Week 5/17/2004)
Controllers Gathered Together - At least six of the center’s air traffic controllers are gathered in a room at the center nicknamed the “Bat Cave” for the fact-finding session. (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Wald 5/6/2004) These controllers and a union official representing them were concerned about the controllers being recorded, but have been persuaded to go ahead with the session (see (Shortly Before 11:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file; US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Goo 5/7/2004)
Controllers Describe Experiences - Beginning at 11:40 a.m., a recording is made on a single, standard cassette tape. The controllers, who were involved in working radar positions during the hijackings and crashes of the first two targeted aircraft, Flight 11 and Flight 175, are asked to make statements. According to Mark DiPalmo, the local president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, “We sat everyone in a room, went around the room, said, ‘What do you remember?’” The controllers give their statements in the group setting, with a microphone being passed from one of them to the next. They describe their actions interacting with, or tracking, the two hijacked aircraft. According to DiPalmo, the session is informal, and sometimes more than one person is speaking at a time. The resulting tape lasts about an hour, with each recorded statement lasting about five to 10 minutes.
Other Employees Present - As well as the six controllers, approximately 10 other FAA employees are present during the session. (A signing-in sheet will show that about 16 center personnel are there. However, some witnesses will later indicate there may be additional individuals who do not sign in.) Two quality assurance specialists take notes, but these are sketchy, amounting to just three pages in total. After the tape of the session has been made, it is logged into the New York Center’s formal record of evidence.
Recording Controllers Not Standard Procedure - Audio taping of witness statements following an accident or incident has not previously been conducted at the New York Center. (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Wald 5/6/2004) However, David LaCates, the deputy operations manager there, will tell the 9/11 Commission that, “Since this was an unusual situation,” he believes McCormick wants “an immediate and accurate record of what had happened.” (9/11 Commission 10/2/2003 pdf file)
FBI Does Not Come to Center - Although McCormick is expecting law enforcement authorities to come to the New York Center quickly, none do. Yet, even though he will later claim he wanted the tape made for the benefit of these authorities, McCormick will not reach out to the FBI himself, nor tell FAA headquarters or regional headquarters that no one has come. (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file; Air Safety Week 5/17/2004)
Tape Later Destroyed - Despite its evidential value, Delaney will deliberately destroy the tape of the controllers’ statements several months later (see Between December 2001 and February 2002), before anyone has listened to, transcribed, or made a duplicate of it. (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Goo 5/7/2004) Even McCormick will say he never listens to the tape. (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file) Prior to an investigation by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General in late 2003 and early 2004 (see May 6, 2004), apparently no one outside the New York Center will be aware of the tape’s existence or its destruction. (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file)

One day after 9/11, the New York Times will report that FBI agents in Florida investigating the hijackers quickly “descended on flight schools, neighborhoods and restaurants in pursuit of leads.” At one flight school, “students said investigators were there within hours of Tuesday’s attacks.” (Canedy and Sanger 9/13/2001) Also on September 12, the Times will report, “Authorities said they had also identified accomplices in several cities who had helped plan and execute Tuesday’s attacks. Officials said they knew who these people were and important biographical details about many of them. They prepared biographies of each identified member of the hijack teams, and began tracing the recent movements of the men.” (Johnston and Risen 9/13/2001) In September 2002, 9/11 victim’s relative Kristen Breitweiser, testifying before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, will cite these news reports and will ask, “How did the FBI know exactly where to go only a few hours after the attacks? How did they know which neighborhoods, which flight schools and which restaurants to investigate so soon in the case?… How are complete biographies of the terrorists, and their accomplices, created in such short time? Did our intelligence agencies already have open files on these men? Were they already investigating them? Could the attacks of September 11th been prevented?” (US Congress 9/18/2002) In at least some cases, it appears that US intelligence did quickly access existing files on the hijackers. The Washington Post reports, “In the hours after Tuesday’s bombings, investigators searched their files on [Satam] Al Suqami and [Ahmed] Alghamdi, noted the pair’s ties to [Nabil] al-Marabh and launched a hunt for him.” A top Customs official claims that by checking flight manifests and comparing them with other information such as watch lists, he is able to determine the names of all 19 hijackers by 11:00 a.m.(see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Mintz and Lengel 9/21/2001)

An unnamed, young, Middle Eastern man flying from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, is arrested after his plane is diverted to Toronto, Canada. He is apparently found to be carrying a flight jacket, Palestinian Authority travel documents, and a picture of himself in a flight crew uniform in front of a fake backdrop of the WTC. (Gombu 9/15/2001; Godfrey and Christopoulos 9/15/2001; Jaimet 9/17/2001) Apparently, the man, who identifies himself as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Gaza, Palestine, was supposed to have arrived in the US a few days before but was delayed for unknown reasons. (CBS News 9/14/2001) A second man was arrested a few days earlier while trying to enter Canada carrying a similar photo. He also possessed maps and directions to the WTC. Both men are soon handed over to the US. (Gombu 9/15/2001) A similar picture of suspected Egyptian al-Qaeda operative Mohammad Zeki Majoub, arrested in Canada in June 2000, in front of a fake WTC backdrop was found in the luggage of one of the US hijackers. (Associated Press 3/1/2001; Godfrey and Christopoulos 9/15/2001) Canadian officials “believe the photos could be calling cards used by the terrorists to identify those involved in plotting the attacks.” (Godfrey and Christopoulos 9/15/2001)

A few hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepts a phone conversation between followers of bin Laden that leads the FBI to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to US and German officials. The Germans overhear the operatives refer to “the 30 people traveling for the operation.” The FBI scours flight manifests and any other clues for more conspirators still at large. (Tagliabue and Bonner 9/29/2001) Two days later, authorities claim to have identified teams of as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About 40 are accounted for as dead or in custody; ten are missing. They also believe a total of 27 suspected operatives received some form of pilot training. This corresponds with many analyses that the attacks required a large support network. (Rempel and Serrano 9/13/2001) Yet there is no evidence that any accomplices in the US shortly before 9/11 have since been arrested or charged.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a member of both the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, says he has just been “briefed by the highest levels of the FBI and of the intelligence community.” He says, “They’ve come to the conclusion that this looks like the signature of Osama bin Laden, and that he may be the one behind this.” (Tapper 9/12/2001)

Personnel from several agencies searching for evidence at the Pentagon.Personnel from several agencies searching for evidence at the Pentagon. [Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation]Beginning shortly before midday on September 11, 2001, and continuing until September 12, the FBI conducts a careful search across the grounds of the Pentagon, looking for remnants of the aircraft that hit the building. (PBS 9/12/2001; Sheridan 9/12/2001; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 159) FBI Special Agent Tom O’Connor is in charge of the initial evidence recovery operation at the Pentagon. His first priority is to locate and gather all the airplane parts and other pieces of evidence from the lawn on the west side of the building. He sends out all available agents to conduct a grid search. The lawn is divided into quadrants, and then agents walk back and forth, sticking a small flag near any evidence they find, getting the evidence photographed in its place, and then scooping it into a bag. (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 180) Arlington police officers, military personnel, and others also participate in the search. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 159) They also look for evidence across grass and roadways several hundred yards from the Pentagon. (PBS 9/12/2001) Some pieces of the aircraft that hit the Pentagon are found nearly 1,000 feet away from the building, on the other side of Washington Boulevard. Thousands of tiny pieces of aluminum have also carried forward over the Pentagon, into its center courtyard. Other pieces of debris landed on its roof, along with body parts from at least one victim. (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 29) According to the Defense Department’s book about the Pentagon attack, the searchers find “many scraps and a few personal items widely scattered on the grass and heliport. Plane remnants varied from half-dollar size to a few feet long.” (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 159) Authors Patrick Creed and Rick Newman will describe: “Agents found what looked like a big Plexiglas windowpane on the lawn, which might have been part of an airplane window, except it was too big.… Somebody suggested it could be one of the blast-proof windows from the Pentagon, somehow blown 500 feet from the building.” (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 180)

At some point during the afternoon of 9/11, WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein receives a phone call from the Fire Department commander, where they discuss the state of Building 7 of the WTC complex. Silverstein will discuss this call in a PBS documentary broadcast in 2002, saying that he told the commander, “You know, we’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it. And they made that decision to pull and then we watched the building collapse.” (PBS 9/10/2002) Some people suggest that by “pull it” Silverstein meant the deliberate demolition of the building. But a spokesman for Silverstein states that he was expressing “his view that the most important thing was to protect the safety of those firefighters, including, if necessary, to have them withdraw from the building.” (US Department of State 9/16/2005) Yet this claim is contradicted by some accounts, according to which firefighters decided early on not to attempt fighting the fires in WTC 7 (see After 10:28 a.m. September 11, 2001)(see (11:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to Haaretz, “In the afternoon of September 11, the Fire Department informed him that the smaller 7 World Trade Center building, which he owned, was going to collapse.” (Leibovich-Dar 11/21/2001) Building 7 eventually collapses at around 5:20 in the afternoon (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001).

At FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, David Canoles, the FAA’s manager of air traffic evaluations and investigations, and his staff begin coordinating the collection of forensic evidence that might clarify how the morning’s attacks unfolded. They coordinate the capture and copying of radar track data showing the paths of the four hijacked planes, and obtain air traffic control voice tapes from every facility that had spoken with these planes. FAA Assistant Investigations Manager Tony Mello and other employees will work for most of the afternoon, all night, and part of the following day, gathering data and coordinating with the FBI, Secret Service, Defense Department, White House, and National Transportation Safety Board, making sure these other agencies receive as much evidence as is available. Radar tracks are crudely plotted, showing the flight paths of the four jets, and voice tapes are transcribed. Having been stuck in Chicago when the attacks occurred, (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001), Tony Ferrante, the manager of FAA investigations, will finally arrive at FAA headquarters at 5:00 a.m. on September 12. His first priority is “to ensure that the radar data and voice tapes from every location involved in the attack [are] put under lock and key as soon as possible,” presumably to be kept safe for any investigations. He looks at and listens to the relevant controller tapes, and begins constructing a detailed timeline of the four hijacked aircraft. Along with Tony Mello and others of his staff, Ferrante will spend several days working out the movements of the four planes. FAA radar experts Dan Diggins and Doug Gould will also spend days interpreting the radar tracks of the four planes, piecing together a detailed timeline of their actions from takeoff to crash. (Freni 2003, pp. 74 and 76-77) The FAA will publish a fairly comprehensive chronology of the hijackings on September 17, though this will not be made public until September 2005. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/17/2001 pdf file; National Security Archive 9/9/2005) Presently, it refers any media requests for flight patterns to Flight Explorer, a software company that makes charts of plane routes using information from the FAA’s radar system (see After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). (McCarthy 9/13/2001) The US military has also started doing its own reconstructions of the radar data for the hijacked aircraft (see (11:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Due to the chaos and gridlock resulting from the morning’s attacks, the FBI is hampered in mobilizing its investigative operation at the Pentagon. Because the Pentagon is a crime scene, it is the FBI’s job to gather and document every piece of evidence there. (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 177) Special Agent Chris Combs, the FBI’s representative at the crash site, has been setting up the FBI operation since arriving at 9:49 a.m. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A20 and 1-1 pdf file; Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 178) Since before 10:00 a.m., the bureau’s evidence recovery team has been arriving. But although every available agent has been paged, many are stuck in traffic, and it will take several hours before the entire FBI contingent makes it to the Pentagon. The FBI also has a fleet of sophisticated command vehicles and helicopters, plus other specialized equipment. But even though the crash site is within the “FBI’s backyard,” according to authors Patrick Creed and Rick Newman, by around 12:15 p.m. none of this has arrived yet. The bureau’s rapid-deployment gear, which includes everything needed to gather and document evidence, is stored in a warehouse in Washington, DC. But with traffic in the region at a standstill, it is almost impossible to get this through the streets to the Pentagon. Chris Combs asks his boss at the FBI’s Washington field office if any helicopters are available to get equipment to the Pentagon quickly. But several choppers at the FBI facility in Quantico, just 30 miles south of the Pentagon, are reserved for specific duties during government emergencies and are currently locked down. And according to Creed and Newman, other government helicopters the bureau relies upon for backup are tied up, though what they are being used for is unstated. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A22 pdf file; Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 177-179) Furthermore, NBC News has reported that the FBI’s top teams have been away from Washington for the last two days for a major training exercise in California (see 10:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). This means about 50 personnel, plus helicopters and equipment, are currently out of place and unavailable. (NBC 4 9/11/2001)

Garrett McKenzie.Garrett McKenzie. [Source: Rudi Williams]Photographers who are taking pictures at the Pentagon, to document the scene of the attack there in as close as possible to its original state, are told to limit what evidence they photograph. FBI Special Agent Tom O’Connor—who is in charge of the initial evidence recovery operation at the Pentagon—and his superiors have put out the word that it is unnecessary to document every piece of the airplane. This is because, reportedly, “the smaller fragments didn’t prove anything, except that there was an airplane there, which was obvious enough from other evidence.” FBI Special Agent Garrett McKenzie, who is coordinating the effort to photograph evidence at the Pentagon, pulls together a dozen photographers for a briefing. He instructs them: “We don’t need to photograph all the plane parts, only unique airplane parts or something specific. Like the pilot’s yoke, or anything with part of a serial number on it. If we have to prove what kind of plane this was, the serial numbers will be what we need.” (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 181-183)

The Navy Annex, located next to the Virginia State Police Barracks.The Navy Annex, located next to the Virginia State Police Barracks. [Source: Arlington County After-Action Report]The FBI establishes a command post for its response to the Pentagon attack at the Virginia State Police Barracks, overlooking the Pentagon. (Eversburg 11/2002) Around midday, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Blecksmith arrived at the Pentagon and took over from Special Agent Chris Combs as the FBI’s on scene commander. He had quickly decided that the area around the Arlington County Fire Department’s incident command post by the Pentagon was too crowded and lacked support facilities. He therefore decides it will be safer for the FBI to carry out its operations at the Virginia State Police Barracks, located next to the Navy Annex, a few hundred yards from the Pentagon. Along with Combs, Blecksmith establishes the FBI’s command post there, and starts moving the FBI up to it. The two men will spend most of the afternoon at the barracks, where they work on establishing a Joint Operations Center (JOC) at nearby Fort Myer. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A23 and C50 pdf file; Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 178) The JOC will open early the following morning (see September 12, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161)

Deena Burnett is visited at her home in San Ramon, California, by three FBI agents, and questioned about the calls she received from her husband, Tom Burnett, who was a passenger on Flight 93. Deena has now learned of the plane crashing in Pennsylvania, and a police officer staying with her informed her that this was her husband’s plane. The FBI agents spend over an hour with Deena, asking her about her husband and what he’d said in his four calls from Flight 93. (Burnett and Giombetti 2006, pp. 71-72 and 74-75) She describes to them how Tom called her using his cell phone and told her his flight had been hijacked. In his final call he’d described how a group of the passengers was going to “do something.” She says her husband was a former college football player and very intelligent, so if he’d concluded he was going to die, he would have taken action. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001 pdf file) Deena remembers that she’d taken notes, writing down the details of her husband’s calls. But she does not want the agents to have these, saying, “You wouldn’t be able to read it anyway.” They do not take the notes with them when they leave. They will return later in the day and tell Deena specifically not to say anything to anyone—especially the media—about her cell phone conversations with her husband, because it is part of their investigation. (Burnett and Giombetti 2006, pp. 75 and 81)

At around 9:30 p.m., Afghanistan time (1:00 p.m., New York time), Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil holds a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, and claims that the 9/11 attacks did not originate from Afghanistan. He reads a statement by Taliban leader Mullah Omar, which claims that Osama bin Laden also was not involved: “This type of terrorism is too great for one man,” the statement says. (Anderson 6/10/2002)

The FBI interviews Eric Gill, a security guard at Dulles Airport who may have encountered some of the 9/11 hijackers attempting to access aircraft the night before 9/11 (see Around 8:15 p.m. September 10, 2001). Gill tells the FBI his story, but the FBI fails to show him a video it has found of the hijackers passing through an airport security checkpoint on 9/11, even though it is shown to all his colleagues, except the partner he was on duty with when he saw the hijackers. The FBI also obtains video of two of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Salem Alhazmi, at Dulles on the day he says he saw another two of them, Nawaf Alhazmi and Marwan Alshehhi, but does not show this video to him and this video will not be publicly mentioned until 2008. It is unclear what the FBI does with logs for a door through which Gill says the hijackers would have passed, but they are not shown to Gill. Two days later, the FBI shows him poor quality photocopied pictures of the hijackers and Gill identifies two of them as the people he saw on September 10, but the FBI then loses interest in him, as they think one of the men he identifies hijacked a plane from Boston, not Dulles. Another man who may have seen the hijackers the night before 9/11, Khalid Mahmoud, is taken away by the INS and does not return, presumably because he has been deported. Gill will speak to a 9/11 Commission staffer on the telephone about 18 months later, but nothing will come of this. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 10/2001, pp. 281 pdf file; Trento and Trento 2006, pp. 38-40, 43-5)

On September 11—after the 9/11 attacks are over—the New York FBI office learns that one of the hijackers was Khalid Almihdhar. One of the FBI agents at the office, Steve Bongardt, had attempted to get permission to search for Almihdhar in late August, but was not allowed to do so. He wrote an e-mail on August 29 (see August 29, 2001) predicting that “someday someone will die… the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’” He will later testify that upon seeing Almihdhar’s name on one of the passenger flight manifests, he angrily yells, “This is the same Almihdhar we’ve been talking about for three months!” In an attempt to console him, his boss replies, “We did everything by the book.” Now that Bongardt is allowed to conduct a basic Internet search for Almihdhar that he had been denied permission to conduct before 9/11, he finds the hijacker’s address “within hours.” (Eggen and Priest 9/21/2002; US Congress 12/11/2002) The FBI field office in San Diego also was not notified before 9/11 that Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi had been put on a no-fly watch list on August 24, 2001 (see September 4-5, 2001). Bill Gore, the FBI agent running the San Diego office on this day, will later make reference to the fact that Alhazmi’s correct phone number and address were listed in the San Diego phone book, and say: “How could [we] have found these people when we didn’t know we were looking for them? The first place we would have looked is the phone book.… I submit to you we would have found them.” (US Congress 12/11/2002)

The chief fire officer who has been assigned to take charge of operations at WTC Building 7 meets with his command officer, to discuss the condition of this building and the fire department’s capabilities for controlling the fires in it. A deputy fire chief who has just been in WTC 7, inspecting up to its 7th or 8th floor, reports that there was a lot of fire inside and the stairway was filling with smoke. The fire chiefs discuss the situation and identify the following conditions:
bullet WTC 7 has suffered damage caused by falling debris from the Twin Towers, and they are uncertain about its structural stability.
bullet There are large fires on at least six floors.
bullet They do not have enough equipment available for conducting operations in the building, such as hoses, standpipe kits, and handie-talkies.
bullet There is no water immediately available for fighting the fires. (However, this concern is apparently contradicted by reports that two or three fireboats are moored nearby, specifically to provide water-pumping capacity for the WTC site.)
Therefore, at around 2:30 p.m., fire officers decide to completely abandon WTC 7 and a final order is given to evacuate the site. Firefighters and other emergency workers will be withdrawn from the surrounding area (see (4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), and Building 7 collapses later in the afternoon (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). (Gill 9/17/2001; National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. 110-111)

The FBI’s Minneapolis office asks for permission to interview Zacarias Moussaoui a few hours after the end of the 9/11 attacks, but permission is denied, apparently on the grounds that there is no emergency. On 9/11, the office’s counsel, Coleen Rowley, seeks permission from the Acting US Attorney to question Moussaoui about whether al-Qaeda has any further plans to hijack airliners or otherwise attack the US. The next day she asks again; this time the request is sent to the Justice Department. Such questioning would not usually be permitted, but Rowley argues that it should be allowed under a public safety exception. However, permission is denied and Rowley is told that the emergency is over so the public safety exception does not apply. Rowley will later comment: “We were so flabbergasted about the fact we were told no public safety emergency existed just hours after the attacks that my boss advised me to document it in a memo which became the first document in the legal subfile of the FBI’s ‘Penttbom’ case.” (Rowley 5/2/2007) Some sources will suggest that Moussaoui was to be part of a second wave of attacks (see September 5, 2002). He is also an associate of shoe bomber Richard Reid, who will attempt to blow up an airliner later this year (see Mid-2000-December 9, 2000 and December 22, 2001).

The three fighter pilots that launched from Langley Air Force Base to defend Washington, DC (see (9:25 a.m.-9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001) sign a letter in which they confirm that they did not shoot down any aircraft on 9/11. At some point after the pilots, who belong to the 119th Fighter Wing of the North Dakota Air National Guard, land their fighter jets back at base (see (2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001), one of them, Captain Craig Borgstrom, speaks over the phone with Major General Larry Arnold, the commanding general of NORAD’s Continental US Region (CONR). According to Borgstrom, who will later recall that Arnold phones him either on September 11 “or in [the] next day or two,” the CONR commander requests “a detailed, in writing, accounting of what happened that day.” Consequently, as another of the three pilots—Major Brad Derrig—will recall, “all three pilots signed a letter to 1st Air Force certifying that they had not shot down an aircraft.” Borgstrom will say he believes that “ammunition records were checked” as a part of the response to the 1st Air Force. (9/11 Commission 12/1/2003; 9/11 Commission 12/1/2003) Some early news reports suggested the possibility of a plane having been shot down by the US military (see 11:28 a.m.-11:50 a.m. September 11, 2001), and what appears to be debris from a plane is discovered far away from the main Flight 93 crash site (see (Before 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and September 13, 2001). (TCM Breaking News 9/11/2001; CNN 9/13/2001; Bunch 11/15/2001; Wallace 9/12/2002) But in later interviews with the media and the 9/11 Commission, the three 119th Fighter Wing pilots will state that they received no orders to shoot down a commercial airliner, and did not shoot down any planes on 9/11. (Sack 11/15/2001; Longman 2002, pp. 222; 9/11 Commission 12/1/2003; 9/11 Commission 12/1/2003; 9/11 Commission 12/1/2003)

Two sections from Rumsfeld’s notes, dictated to Stephen Cambone.Two sections from Rumsfeld’s notes, dictated to Stephen Cambone. [Source: Defense Department]Defense Secretary Rumsfeld aide Stephen Cambone is taking notes on behalf of Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center. These notes will be leaked to the media nearly a year later. According to the notes, although Rumsfeld has already been given information indicating the 9/11 attacks were done by al-Qaeda (see 12:05 p.m. September 11, 2001) and he has been given no evidence so far indicating any Iraqi involvement, he is more interested in blaming the attacks on Iraq. According to his aide’s notes, Rumsfeld wants the “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Osama bin Laden].… Need to move swiftly.… Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” (CBS News 9/4/2002; Bamford 2004, pp. 285) In a 2004 book, author James Moore will write, “Unless Rumsfeld had an inspired moment while the rest of the nation was in shock, the notes are irrefutable proof that the Bush administration had designs on Iraq and Hussein well before the president raised his hand to take the oath of office.” (Moore 3/15/2004, pp. 18)

CNN reports US officials say there are “good indications” that Osama bin Laden is involved in the attacks, based on “new and specific” information developed since the attacks. (CNN 9/12/2001)

Later in the day of 9/11, weapons are found planted on board three US airplanes. A US official will say, “These look like inside jobs.” Time magazine will later report, “Sources tell Time that US officials are investigating whether the hijackers had accomplices deep inside the airports’ ‘secure’ areas.” (Donnelly 9/22/2001) Penetrating airport security does not appear to have been that difficult: Argenbright, the company in charge of security at all the airports used by the hijackers, had virtually no security check on any of its employees, and even hired criminals and illegal immigrants. Security appears to be particularly abysmal at Boston’s Logan Airport, even after 9/11. (Ranalli 10/1/2001; CNN 10/12/2001) An FAA official had similar concerns about two other security contractors at Logan Airport: Huntleigh USA, a subsidiary of ICTS International NV, a large Israeli security company, and Globe Aviation. (Pope and Lavoie 9/11/2001; Ford 1/8/2002; 9/11 Commission 3/11/2004, pp. 6 pdf file)

Several small fires burn inside World Trade Center Building 7.
Several small fires burn inside World Trade Center Building 7. [Source: New York City Police Department]World Trade Center Building 7 is reported to be on fire. (CNN 9/12/2001)

According to numerous rescue and recovery workers, the area around World Trade Center Building 7 is evacuated at this time. (Hayes 3/28/2004) For example:
bullet Emergency medical technician Joseph Fortis says, “They pulled us all back at the time, almost about an hour before it, because they were sure—they knew it was going to come down, but they weren’t sure.” (Fortis 11/9/2001)
bullet Firefighter Edward Kennedy says, “I remember [Chief Visconti] screaming about 7, No. 7, that they wanted everybody away from 7 because 7 was definitely going to collapse.” (Kennedy 1/17/2002)
bullet Firefighter Vincent Massa: “They were concerned about seven coming down, and they kept changing us, establishing a collapse zone and backing us up.” (Massa 12/4/2001)
bullet Firefighter Tiernach Cassidy: “[B]uilding seven was in eminent collapse. They blew the horns. They said everyone clear the area until we got that last civilian out.” (Cassidy 12/30/2001)
bullet Battalion Fire Chief John Norman: “I was detailed to make sure the collapse zone for 7 WTC had been set up and was being maintained.” (Norman 10/2002)
Several New York Fire Department chief officers, who have surveyed Building 7, have apparently determined it is in danger of collapsing. (Fire Engineering 9/2002) For example, Fire Chief Daniel Nigro explains their decision-making process, saying: “A number of fire officers and companies assessed the damage to the building. The appraisals indicated that the building’s integrity was in serious doubt. I issued the orders to pull back the firefighters and define the collapse zone.” (Nigro 9/2002) Fire Chief Frank Fellini says, “We were concerned that the fires on several floors and the missing steel would result in the building collapsing.” (Fellini 12/3/2001) And Fire Captain Ray Goldbach says, “[W]e made a decision to take all of our units out of 7 World Trade Center because there was a potential for collapse.” (Goldbach 10/24/2001) However, some firefighters seem surprised at this decision. When Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen is making his way through hundreds of firefighters who are being held away from the WTC site, he hears complaints like, “It could take days for that building to come down,” and, “Why don’t they let us in there?” (Essen 2002, pp. 45) When Deputy Fire Chief Nick Visconti is instructing firefighters to evacuate the area, one comment he receives is, “[O]h, that building is never coming down, that didn’t get hit by a plane, why isn’t somebody in there putting the fire out?” (Visconti 9/9/2002)

Mark Jacobson, a reporter for New York Magazine, later recounts an encounter he has about this time. Walking through the ruins of the World Trade Center complex, he sits down next to a weary and dust covered firefighter. The firefighter points to WTC Building 7, perhaps 400 yards away, and says, “That building is coming down.” Jacobson asks when and the firefighter responds, “Tonight. Maybe tomorrow morning.” Jacobson watches as the building collapses about five minutes later. (Jacobson 3/20/2006)

A four-image progression of photos showing World Trade Center Building 7 collapsing down into its footprint.A four-image progression of photos showing World Trade Center Building 7 collapsing down into its footprint. [Source: unknown] (click image to enlarge)Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex, a 47-story tower, collapses. No one is killed. (CNN 9/12/2001; Washington Post 9/12/2001; MSNBC 9/22/2001; Associated Press 8/21/2002) It collapses in 6.6 seconds, which is just 0.6 of a second longer than it would have taken a free-falling object dropped from its roof to hit the ground. (Jarvik 11/10/2005) Many questions will arise over the cause of its collapse in the coming months and years. Building 7, which was not hit by an airplane, is the first modern, steel-reinforced high-rise to collapse because of fire. (Glanz 11/29/2001; Shwartz 12/5/2001; Glanz and Lipton 3/2/2002) Some will later suggest that the diesel fuel stored in several tanks on the premises may have contributed to the building’s collapse. The building contained a 6,000-gallon tank between its first and second floors and another four tanks, holding as much as 36,000 gallons, below ground level. There were also three smaller tanks on higher floors. (Glanz 11/29/2001; Glanz and Lipton 3/2/2002; Rice 3/25/2002; Federal Emergency Management Agency 5/1/2002, pp. 1-17) However, the cause of the collapse is uncertain. A 2002 government report will conclude: “The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time. Although the total diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence.” (Federal Emergency Management Agency 5/1/2002, pp. 1-17) Some reports indicate that the building may have been deliberately destroyed. Shortly after the collapse, CBS News anchor Dan Rather comments that the collapse is “reminiscent of… when a building was deliberately destroyed by well-placed dynamite to knock it down.” (CBS News 9/11/2001) And moments after the collapse, MSNBC’s Brian Williams joins David Restuccio, an FDNY lieutenant, by phone to ask him about the collapse. “You guys knew this was coming all day?” asks Williams. Restuccio replies: “We had heard reports that the building was unstable, and that it would eventually need to come down on its own, or it would be taken down. I would imagine it came down on its own.” Restuccio does not explain what he means by “it would be taken down.” (MSNBC 9/11/2001)

Attorney General John Ashcroft briefs about 250 members of Congress on the latest developments regarding the day’s terrorist attacks. (Associated Press 9/12/2001) Since he arrived there in the early afternoon (see (Between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001), Ashcroft has spent most of the day at the Strategic Information and Operations Center at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, DC (see (2:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). He and other senior Justice Department officials have repeatedly heard from members of Congress who want more information about the attacks. Ashcroft will later recall, “We tried our best to provide it, but we were still in the heat of battle.” However, “No matter; Congress wanted answers.” Therefore, after attending a meeting at the White House—presumably President Bush’s meeting with his National Security Council and/or his subsequent meeting with his most senior principal national security advisers (see (9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001)—Ashcroft heads to the police station north of the Hart Senate Office Building, to brief the House and Senate members who are gathered there. (9/11 Commission 12/17/2003 pdf file; Ashcroft 2006, pp. 129) About 250 members of Congress are at the briefing. (Associated Press 9/12/2001) Ashcroft will recall, “The place was jammed with members of Congress, all shouting questions, some complaining about apparent inconsistencies, many expressing dissatisfaction that we didn’t know everything, and all wanting answers that I didn’t know or couldn’t say.” (Ashcroft 2006, pp. 129) He reportedly tells those at the briefing that “the US government now believes teams of three to five individuals carrying knives commandeered those four airliners earlier today, destroying them and themselves in the process.” (CNN 9/11/2001; CNN 9/12/2001) Ashcroft stays at the police station until well after midnight, holding what he will describe as “an intense discussion” with the members of Congress. He has to say “I don’t know” over and over again, he will recall. (Ashcroft 2006, pp. 129)

British police raid a flat previously used by Zacarias Moussaoui in Brixton, London. (Boulden 12/11/2001) The flat was also used by Moussaoui’s North-African girlfriend, but little is known about her. She is said to be wanted for questioning in connection with “terror-related activities,” but it is unclear if she is ever found or why the police would think she was involved in “terror-related activities.” (Woodward 10/6/2001; Los Angeles Times 12/13/2001) The Independent will report that the police are still looking for her three months later. (Burrell, Gumbel, and Sengupta 12/11/2001) Some accounts say the girlfriend was one of his cousins. (Los Angeles Times 12/13/2001) There has been no word or public interview of the girlfriend since.

Susan Mcelwain, who lives two miles from the Flight 93 crash site, had seen a small jet plane flying very low overhead as she was driving home. She later recalls that it had been “heading right to the point where Flight 93 crashed and must have been there at the very moment it came down.” But it was only later in the afternoon, after returning home and turning on the TV, that she’d realized what she’d seen was connected to the attacks in New York and Washington. While she was confused that a Boeing 757—not a small jet plane—was being reported as having gone down near where she’d been, she’d then realized that the small plane was flying in a different direction to that being described for Flight 93. So she got her husband to tell the police about what she’d witnessed. Consequently, late in the evening, the FBI turns up to talk to her about it. Yet, as Mcelwain later recalls, “They did not want my story.” They keep asking her how big the plane she’d seen was. When she tells them it was small, not much bigger than her van, one of the agents tells her, “You don’t know what a 757 looks like.” She retorts, “Don’t be condescending towards me. If you don’t want to believe me, that’s fine, but I thought I should report what I saw. You ought to know there was something else in the air at the same time this was going on. We want to make sure it was ours and not somebody else’s.” After this, she will recall, the agent “did seem to get a little nicer. Told me that it was a white Learjet. Somebody was taking pictures. And I said, ‘Before the crash?’ and he says, ‘Well, we’ve got to go,’ and that was the end of it.” (Pillets 9/14/2001; Wallace 9/12/2002; Lappe and Marshall 2004, pp. 38-40) Numerous other witnesses also saw a small jet plane flying above the crash site around the time Flight 93 reportedly went down (see (Before and After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

One page of a torn up 757 cockpit poster used by the hijackers. It was found in a trash compactor at the Days Inn, near the Newark Airport.One page of a torn up 757 cockpit poster used by the hijackers. It was found in a trash compactor at the Days Inn, near the Newark Airport. [Source: FBI]Investigators find a remarkable number of possessions left behind by the hijackers:
bullet Two of Mohamed Atta’s bags are found on 9/11. They contain a handheld electronic flight computer, a simulator procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, two videotapes relating to “air tours” of the Boeing 757 and 747 aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, Atta’s passport, his will, his international driver’s license, a religious cassette tape, airline uniforms, a letter of recommendation, “education related documentation” and a note (see September 28, 2001) to other hijackers on how to mentally prepare for the hijacking. (NPA 9/15/2001; Cullen and Ranalli 9/18/2001; Fisk 9/29/2001; Harkavy 10/5/2001) Author Terry McDermott will later comment, “Atta’s bag contained nearly every important document in his life… If you wanted to leave a roadmap for investigators to follow, the suitcase was a pretty good place to start.” (McDermott 2005, pp. 306)
bullet Marwan Alshehhi’s rental car is discovered at Boston’s Logan Airport containing an Arabic language flight manual, a pass giving access to restricted areas at the airport, documents containing a name on the passenger list of one of the flights, and the names of other suspects. The name of the flight school where Atta and Alshehhi studied, Huffman Aviation, is also found in the car. (Rempel and Serrano 9/13/2001)
bullet A car registered to Nawaf Alhazmi is found at Washington’s Dulles Airport on September 12. This is the same car he bought in San Diego in early 2000 (see March 25, 2000). Inside is a copy of Atta’s letter to the other hijackers, a cashier’s check made out to a flight school in Phoenix, four drawings of the cockpit of a 757 jet, a box cutter-type knife, maps of Washington and New York, and a page with notes and phone numbers. (Arizona Daily Star 9/28/2001; King and Bhatt 10/21/2001; Schrom 10/1/2002) The name and phone number of Osama Awadallah, a friend of Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in San Diego, is also found on a scrap of paper in the car (see September 12, 2001 and After). (Hirschkorn 2/1/2002)
bullet A rental car is found in an airport parking lot in Portland, Maine. Investigators are able to collect fingerprints and hair samples for DNA analysis. (Portland Press Herald 10/14/2001)
bullet A Boston hotel room contains airplane and train schedules. (NPA 9/15/2001)
bullet FBI agents carry out numerous garbage bags of evidence from a Florida apartment where Saeed Alghamdi lived. (CNN 9/17/2001)
bullet Two days before 9/11, a hotel owner in Deerfield Beach, Florida, finds a box cutter left in a hotel room used by Marwan Alshehhi and two unidentified men. The owner checks the nearby trash and finds a duffel bag containing Boeing 757 manuals, three illustrated martial arts books, an 8-inch stack of East Coast flight maps, a three-ring binder full of handwritten notes, an English-German dictionary, an airplane fuel tester, and a protractor. The FBI seizes all the items when they are notified on September 12 (except the binder of notes, which the owner apparently threw away). (Davies 9/16/2001; Wilson 9/16/2001)
bullet In an apartment rented by Ziad Jarrah and Ahmed Alhaznawi, the FBI finds a notebook, videotape, and photocopies of their passports. (Viglucci and Garcia 9/15/2001)
bullet In a bar the night before 9/11, after making predictions of a attack on America the next day, the hijackers leave a business card and a copy of the Koran at the bar. The FBI also recovers the credit card receipts from when they paid for their drinks and lap dances. (Associated Press 9/14/2001)
bullet A September 13 security sweep of Boston airport’s parking garage uncovers items left behind by the hijackers: a box cutter, a pamphlet written in Arabic, and a credit card. (Gugliotta 9/16/2001)
bullet A few hours after the attacks, suicide notes that some of the hijackers wrote to their parents are found in New York. Credit card receipts showing that some of the hijackers paid for flight training in the US are also found. (Rempel and Serrano 9/13/2001)
bullet A FedEx bill is found in a trash can at the Comfort Inn in Portland, Maine, where Atta stayed the night before 9/11. The bill leads to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, allowing investigators to determine much of the funding for 9/11. (Klaidman and Hosenball 11/11/2001; McGrory 12/1/2001)
bullet A bag hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar left at a mosque in Laurel, Maryland, is found on September 12. The bag contains flight logs and even receipts from flight schools from San Diego the year before (see September 9, 2001).
bullet On 9/11, in a Days Inn hotel room in Newark, New Jersey, investigators find used plane tickets for Saeed Alghamdi, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ziad Jarrah, and Ahmed Alnami. The tickets are all from a Spirit Continental Airlines flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Newark on September 7. Also, flight manuals for Boeing 757 and 767 airplanes are found in English and Arabic. (Investigative Services Division, FBI Headquarters 4/19/2002)
The hijackers past whereabouts can even be tracked by their pizza purchases. An expert points out: “Most people pay cash for pizza. These [hijackers] paid with a credit card. That was an odd thing.” (Bigelow 9/3/2002) “In the end, they left a curiously obvious trail—from martial arts manuals, maps, a Koran, Internet and credit card fingerprints. Maybe they were sloppy, maybe they did not care, maybe it was a gesture of contempt of a culture they considered weak and corrupt.” (Morgan, Kidwell, and Corral 9/22/2001) The New Yorker quotes a former high-level intelligence official as saying: “Whatever trail was left was left deliberately—for the FBI to chase” (see Late September 2001). (Hersh 10/8/2001)

Michael Burton.Michael Burton. [Source: PBS]Following the World Trade Center collapses, a decision is made to quickly transport the remaining structural steel to scrap yards, to be shipped abroad and melted down for reuse. Consequently, virtually all of it is disposed of before investigators trying to assess why the WTC collapsed can examine it. Michael Burton and other officials at the Department of Design and Construction—the New York City agency overseeing the cleanup operation (see (September 11, 2001-May 2002))—are responsible for making this decision. Burton clears it with Richard Tomasetti of Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers, the prime consultant on the cleanup job. However, referring to the subsequent WTC investigation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (see August 21, 2002), Tomasetti will later admit that had he known the direction that investigations into the collapses would take, he would have taken a different stand. (Langewiesche 2002, pp. 30; Glanz and Lipton 2004, pp. 330 and 396) Authors and New York Times reporters James Glanz and Eric Lipton write that Michael Burton, “who had become the effective czar for the cleanup job, had made it clear that he cared very little about engineering subtleties like the question of why the towers first stood, then collapsed on September 11. ‘We know why they fell,’ he said. ‘Because they flew two planes into the towers.’ But he was deeply immersed in the details of hauling steel out of the debris pile.” (Glanz and Lipton 2004, pp. 299) Much of the WTC steel will be shipped to India, China, and other Asian countries for recycling (see September 12-October 2001).

Around 2:30 a.m., the FBI arrives at Huffman Aviation flight school in Venice, Florida, inquiring about suspected hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, who attended the school (see July 6-December 19, 2000). Huffman Aviation has around 200 students, about half of them foreigners. The FBI takes away all its records on former students, including photocopies of Atta and Alshehhi’s passports, as well as two computers. (Moore 9/12/2001; Canedy and Sanger 9/13/2001; US Congress 3/19/2002) Students at another Florida flight school say the FBI arrived at their school within hours of the attacks (see September 11, 2001).

Mike Morell.Mike Morell. [Source: Public domain]CIA Director George Tenet arrives at the White House to give the president his daily intelligence briefing. With him is Mike Morell, the president’s regular CIA briefer. They meet with Bush at 8 a.m. in the Oval Office, joined by Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. The Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) on this day is about ten to twelve pages long, and a further twelve pages includes full reports from case officers, the Directorate of Intelligence, and the National Security Agency. The PDB includes a review of the available intelligence tracing the previous day’s attacks back to Osama bin Laden and his top al-Qaeda associates. Among the evidence presented:
bullet Several reports identify Capitol Hill and the White House as intended targets of the attacks.
bullet One report says a bin Laden associate incorrectly “gave thanks for the explosion in the Congress building.”
bullet A key figure in the al-Qaeda charity front the Wafa Humanitarian Organization had initially claimed that “The White House has been destroyed,” but then had to correct himself.
bullet A report shows that al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan had said at 9:53 a.m. the previous day that the attackers were following through with “the doctor’s program” (see 9:53 a.m. September 11, 2001). This is thought to be a reference to the second-ranking member of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician often referred to as “the Doctor.”
bullet The CIA and the FBI have evidence connecting at least three of the alleged hijackers to Osama bin Laden and his training camps in Afghanistan. Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Salem Alhazmi were quickly linked to al-Qaeda on the day of 9/11, as two of them were on a US watch list even before 9/11 (see 9:53 p.m. September 11, 2001). The attacks were also consistent with intelligence reports throughout the summer that indicated bin Laden was planning “spectacular attacks” against US targets.
bullet A report out of Kandahar, Afghanistan shows the attacks were “the results of two years’ planning.”
bullet Another report says the attacks were “the beginning of the wrath.”
bullet A key piece of evidence involves Abu Zubaida, who has been identified as the chief field commander for the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. A supposedly reliable report received after the 9/11 attacks stated that Zubaida had referred to September 11 as “zero hour.” It is not known is an intercepted message from before 9/11 saying “tomorrow is zero hour,” or some other message (see September 10, 2001).
According to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, “For Tenet, the evidence on bin Laden was conclusive—game, set, match.” Though Tenet, along with Rice and other officials, has already spent several months working on a plan to vastly expand covert action in Afghanistan and worldwide, he tells Bush that an even more extensive plan will soon be presented for approval, and this will be very expensive. The president tells him, “Whatever it takes.” (Woodward 2002, pp. 39-41; Woodward and Balz 1/28/2002; Kessler 2003, pp. 231-233; Tenet 2007, pp. 165) Bush will approve Tenet’s plan by the following Monday (see September 17, 2001).

According to the New York Post, “Credit cards belonging to the suicide hijackers continued to be used after the Sept. 11 attacks—indicating associates of the terrorists remained in the United States weeks after the kamikaze strikes, authorities said…” The cards are used at least until around the start of October 2001. An unnamed official says, “We believe there are additional people out there. Many of the closest associates got out of the country early on, but we also believe there are a number of people here we’re still looking at.” The hijackers had more than 100 credit cards in their own names, variations of their names, or by using false identities. The credit card transactions are recorded in Florida, New Jersey, and Maryland. While officials believe it is possible that at least some of the credit cards may have been stolen and used by people not connected to the hijackers. In some cases, the credit card use helps investigators detain associates of the hijackers. (Blomquist and Neuman 10/17/2001) An October 2001 FBI timeline of hijacker movements made public in 2008 will note some of these credit card uses. For instance, a credit card jointly owned by hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi is used twice on September 15, and a credit card owned by hijacker Fayez Ahmed Banihammad is used on September 17. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 10/2001, pp. 296 pdf file) What becomes of these detained people is not clear, because use of hijacker credit cards is not asserted for anyone later charged or released by US authorities. An account six months later will suggest that investigators have only connected 27 credit cards to the hijackers, not more than 100. (Candiotti 5/22/2002)

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) tells the Associated Press that the US government has been monitoring Osama bin Laden’s communications electronically, and overheard two bin Laden aides celebrating the successful terrorist attack: “They have an intercept of some information that included people associated with bin Laden who acknowledged a couple of targets were hit.” (Solomon 9/12/2001; Ruppe 9/12/2001) Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld publicly denounces the report, not as untrue, but as an unauthorized release of classified information. (Department of Defense 9/12/2001)

John McColeJohn McCole [Source: Robson Books]Some gruesome remains are discovered in the World Trade Center ruins:
bullet Investigators find a pair of severed hands bound together with plastic handcuffs on a nearby building. They are believed to have belonged to a flight attendant. (Gardiner and Rayman 9/15/2001)
bullet Honorary firefighter Michael Bellone and two other recovery workers discover the body of an attendant from American Airlines Flight 11. Reportedly, the men’s digging efforts reveal “a blue skirt, then one side of a body, and finally a pair of wings still attached to the lapel of a woman’s jacket.” (Swanson 2003, pp. 140; Wuebker 9/11/2006) Other reports describe the discovery of the body of a flight attendant with her hands bound. Presumably they are referring to the same remains. (Guardian 9/13/2001; Sachs 9/15/2001)
bullet There are reports of whole rows of seats with passengers in them being found, as well as much of the cockpit of one of the planes, complete with the body of a suspected hijacker. Police cannot confirm these reports. (Ananova 9/13/2001; Guardian 9/13/2001; Sachs 9/15/2001)
bullet Fire Lieutenant John McCole sees a body bag with a tag on it saying, “Possible Perp—pilot.” McCole later comments, “I found it pretty amazing that someone’s body could remain so intact after crashing through a skyscraper into the middle of an inferno.” (McCole 2002, pp. 57) Yet, contradicting the claim that a hijacker’s body was found, only in February 2003 are the remains of two hijackers identified (see Late February 2003).
While all of these bodies and plane parts are supposedly found, it will be claimed that none of the four black boxes for the two aircraft that hit the WTC are ever found. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson later says: “It’s extremely rare that we don’t get the recorders back. I can’t recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders.” (CBS News 2/25/2002) The black boxes are considered “nearly indestructible,” are placed in the safest parts of the aircraft, and are designed to survive impacts much greater than the WTC impact. They can withstand heat of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, and can withstand an impact of an incredible 3,400 G’s. (ABC News 9/17/2001) However, in 2004, it will be reported that some of the black boxes are found in the weeks after 9/11, but their discovery is kept secret (see October 2001).

After the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda Hamburg cell member Mohammed Haydar Zammar is questioned and monitored by German intelligence. The US government pressures the German government to arrest him, but he is not arrested. (New York Times 1/18/2003) Zammar is a dual German and Syrian citizen. When he plans to travel to Morocco in October, he lacks a passport. So, on October 25, the German government gives him a passport good for one year, allowing him to leave the country. He goes to Morocco two days later. While in Morocco, he is captured and renditioned by US forces and sent to prison in Syria (see October 27-November 2001 and December 2001). Time magazine will report in 2002 that US officials are “angry at Germany for allowing several al-Qaeda suspects to flee in the weeks after 9/11. And some German officials concede they should have arrested Zammar last October.” (Washington Post 6/12/2002; Frank et al. 7/1/2002)

Steven Stefanakos.Steven Stefanakos. [Source: New York City Police Department.]Recovery workers at Ground Zero search for one of the black boxes from Flight 11 or Flight 175—the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11—in locations where a signal from the device has reportedly been picked up, but it is unclear if they find a black box. (Appel 2009, pp. 281-282) The two “black boxes” carried by all commercial aircraft—the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder—can provide valuable information about why a plane crashed. (CBS News 2/25/2002; PBS 2/17/2004) In the week after the 9/11 attacks occur, investigators identify a signal being emitted by one of the black boxes in the WTC debris, according to a report published by the New York State Emergency Management Office (see September 18, 2001). (New York State Emergency Management Office 9/18/2001, pp. 1 pdf file) The signal is detected by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to author Anthea Appel. However, while FAA personnel are able to hear the signal, they are unable to pinpoint exactly where it is coming from.
FAA Suggests Two Possible Locations for the Black Box - The FAA initially says it thinks the signal is coming from the corner of Liberty and Church Streets, which border the south and east edges of the WTC site, respectively, and so recovery workers are sent to dig at this location. However, after a few days, it changes its mind and, on September 21, says the signal is coming from Building 5 of the WTC. (Appel 2009, pp. 281) This nine-story building is located in the northeast corner of the WTC site. (Federal Emergency Management Agency 5/1/2002, pp. 4-1) The signal is coming from inside or directly under its roof, the FAA says.
Police Officers See No Sign of the Black Box - Lieutenant Delia Mannix of the New York Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit (ESU), who is in charge of the operation to recover the black box, decides the only way to search the roof of Building 5 is to send a team up in a small, waist-high cage known as a “bucket.” Steven Stefanakos and two other ESU officers, who are selected for the task, get into a bucket and a crane lifts them onto the roof of Building 5. Knowing the black box is supposed to be under or embedded in the roof, Stefanakos and the two other officers look around, trying to spot a hole or a dent where the black box could have punctured the roof after being catapulted out of the plane when it crashed into the WTC. The roof, however, appears to be intact.
FAA Staffer Responsible for Locating the Black Box Has Gone Home - Unsure where to search, Stefanakos tries contacting the FAA staffer who is responsible for locating the black box. He tries to reach them three times over his radio but gets no response. Finally, a voice comes over his radio, telling him: “The FAA aren’t here. They went home for the weekend.” Noting that it is only about five o’clock in the afternoon, Stefanakos and his two colleagues are incredulous. As they are being carried down to the ground in the bucket, they comment to each other: “We’ve been workin’ every day for 16 or 17 hours straight with no days off. And here we are, inches away from the black box, and the FAA just get up and leave in the middle of a recovery just because they don’t wanna screw up their weekend!” (Appel 2009, pp. 281-282) Whether a black box is subsequently retrieved from the roof of Building 5 is unstated. The 9/11 Commission Report will state that the black boxes from the planes that crashed into the WTC “were not found.” (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 456) Furthermore, a report published by the New York City Office of Emergency Management on September 25 will claim that the FAA has in fact been “[u]nable to detect any ‘pinging’ from either ‘black box’” at Ground Zero. (New York City Office of Emergency Management 9/25/2001, pp. 17-18 pdf file) However, firefighter Nicholas DeMasi, who works extensively in the wreckage of the WTC, will say he helped federal agents recover three black boxes at Ground Zero (see October 2001). (Swanson 2003, pp. 108; Bunch 10/28/2004)

In the weeks following 9/11, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) assists the FBI in its response to the attacks. Over 60 NTSB employees work at the scenes of the crashes—the Pentagon, Pennsylvania, and New York—and at the board’s headquarters in Washington, DC, helping to identify aircraft parts, searching for and analyzing the flight recorders, and assisting the victims’ families. (National Transportation Safety Board 9/13/2001; US Congress. Senate. Committee on Commerce 6/25/2002) However, unusually, none of the four planes that crashed are the subject of formal NTSB investigations. According to Vern Grose, a highly respected air disaster analyst and former NTSB member: “First of all, after any aircraft crash, the NTSB [normally] launches what they call a ‘go team’ within two hours and that go team will have up to twelve people on it. Specialists in airframe, in engines, in electronics, in human factors. And these folks all go to the scene—they isolate the scene. From that point on, it’s the NTSB’s responsibility.” But with the crashes on 9/11, Grose says, “it’s my understanding that it did not occur exactly like that. They may have launched an NTSB crew, but it never took the same course a normal investigation would have.” (Lappe and Marshall 2004, pp. 40-41) The NTSB says that, because the four crashes were “criminal acts,” the FBI is consequently the “lead investigative agency.” (National Transportation Safety Board 9/13/2001) Therefore, the NTSB will later state that it “did not determine the probable cause” of any of the four crashes, “and does not plan to issue a report or open a public docket.” (National Transportation Safety Board 3/7/2006; National Transportation Safety Board 3/7/2006; National Transportation Safety Board 3/7/2006; National Transportation Safety Board 3/7/2006) However, even under these circumstances, Grose calls the lack of NTSB investigation “unacceptable.” He says, “Though the NTSB statute states the leadership of the investigation will defer to the FBI, the NTSB has still completed formal investigations into crashes deemed criminal acts.” It previously did so, for example, in the case of EgyptAir Flight 990, in which a pilot crashed a plane in an apparent suicide attempt (see October 31, 1999). (Lappe and Marshall 2004, pp. 41) The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette complains about the unconventional investigative process, specifically in relation to Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. It says that, while the NTSB is “a small government agency whose procedures are fairly open,” with the FBI instead handling the investigation, “everything, even the most minute details, are being kept under strict lock and key.” (Silver 11/4/2001) As well as the lack of an NTSB investigation, attempts at conducting a precise grid search of the Flight 93 crash site will be overruled by the FBI (see September 16, 2001). (Longman 2002, pp. 262)

Mike McCormick.Mike McCormick. [Source: CNN]Managers at the FAA’s New York Center fail to inform their higher-ups of an audio tape that was made on September 11, on which several air traffic controllers recalled their experiences with two of the hijacked aircraft. (Wald 5/6/2004; Goo 5/6/2004) New York Center manager Mike McCormick had directed Kevin Delaney, the quality assurance manager, to record statements from the six controllers at the center that had been involved in handling or tracking Flights 11 and 175 (see 11:40 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file; US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Air Safety Week 5/17/2004)
FAA Superiors Not Informed - However, neither of the two managers subsequently notifies authorities at the FAA’s regional office or Washington headquarters of the existence of the tape with the recorded statements on. Among others, Delaney and McCormick fail to notify the air traffic evaluations and investigations staff at headquarters, which is the FAA’s policy authority on aircraft accident and incident investigations. They also fail to inform FAA authorities of agreements they made with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to destroy the tape at a future date (see (Shortly Before 11:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and October 2001-February 2002). Additionally, they do not inform the FBI of the tape’s existence (see September 12, 2001).
Investigations Staff Could Have Prevented Tape's Destruction - Delaney deliberately destroys the tape of the controllers’ statements at some point between December 2001 and February 2002 (see Between December 2001 and February 2002). But had he or McCormick consulted with the FAA’s air traffic evaluations and investigations staff, they would have been “instructed that the tape—as an original record—be retained, for five years, in accordance with agency retention requirements,” according to a 2004 report by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (see May 6, 2004).
Tape Learned of in Late 2003 - This report will also state, “When we interviewed officials from outside of New York Center, including the then-FAA administrator, deputy administrator, and director of air traffic services, they told us they were unaware that controller statements had been taped until the issue arose following the 9/11 Commission interviews of center personnel in September and October 2003.” (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file)

Billie Vincent, a former FAA security director, suggests the hijackers had inside help at the airports. “These people had to have the means to take control of the aircrafts. And that means they had to have weapons in order for those pilots to relinquish control. Think about it, they planned this thing out to the last detail for months. They are not going to take any risks at the front end. They knew they were going to be successful before they started… It’s the only thing that really makes sense to me.” (Kidwell 9/12/2001) The same day, the Boston Globe reports, “A former TWA official said he knew of at least two cases in which members of a cleaning crew smuggled weapons on board which were later used to hijack planes.… One source familiar with the airline industry said that, given enough time and money, it would not be difficult for terrorists to smuggle weapons onto a domestic flight. He said terrorists could arrange to have weapons moved onto an airliner by having terrorists or sympathizers hired as air cargo handlers or airline cleaners. The weapons could then be brought on board and concealed without ever having to pass through a security checkpoint. ‘If you have a year or more to plan, how hard can it be to get someone hired to clean the trash out of an airplane,’ the source said.” (Cullen 9/12/2001)

A number of witnesses who claim they saw Mohamed Atta living in Venice, Florida in early 2001 later allege that, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, they are intimidated by the FBI and told to keep quiet about what they knew. Amanda Keller, who claims to have lived with Atta during early 2001 (see (February-April 2001)), later says that, even after she moved away from Venice, FBI agents called her every other day for several months after the attacks. She tells investigative reporter Daniel Hopsicker about “intimidation by the FBI” that she suffered, adding, “They told me not to talk to anybody, to keep my mouth shut.” Stephanie Frederickson, who remembers Keller and Atta living next door to her in the Sandpiper Apartments in Venice, later recalls, “At first, right after the attack, [the FBI] told me I must have been mistaken in my identification. Or they would insinuate that I was lying. Finally they stopped trying to get me to change my story, and just stopped by once a week to make sure I hadn’t been talking to anyone. Who was I going to tell? Most everyone around here already knew.” Charles Grapentine, the manager of the Sandpiper Apartments, also confirms Atta having lived with Keller. He says that, after 9/11, the FBI “called me a liar, and told me to keep my mouth shut.” (Hopsicker 2004, pp. 62-63, 65 and 88-89) According to the FBI’s account of events, Atta had left Venice by late December 2000 or early January 2001. Its account makes no mention of him returning there later. (US Congress 9/26/2002) A former manager at Huffman Aviation, the Venice flight school attended by Atta in late 2000 (see July 6-December 19, 2000), also later alleges that the FBI intimidated him and told him to keep quiet. He says the FBI was “outside my house four hours after the attack.” He claims his phones were bugged after 9/11, and adds, “I thought these guys [Atta and his associates] were double agents. Why is that so incriminating?” (Hopsicker 2004, pp. 149-150)

Naamen Meziche.Naamen Meziche. [Source: Public domain]Shortly after 9/11, US officials are finally able to investigate the possessions of prisoner Zacarias Moussaoui, and they discover the phone number of Naamen Meziche on a piece of paper. Meziche is an apparent member of the al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg with a few of the 9/11 hijackers, although his involvement in the cell will only be made public after he is killed by a US drone strike in Pakistan in 2010 (see October 5, 2010). He is a French citizen of Algerian descent, and a longtime resident of Hamburg, Germany. Investigators also learn that Moussaoui called Meziche’s number at some time in August 2001 (presumably before Moussaoui’s arrest on August 16 (see Early August 2001)). German intelligence begins investigating Meziche and discovers more phone and e-mail communications with suspected al-Qaeda operatives. Few details are publicly released, but one detail is known: on September 5, 2001, hijacker associate Ramzi bin al-Shibh called Meziche from the airport as he was leaving Germany for Pakistan in anticipation of the 9/11 attacks (see September 5, 2001). Police ask dozens of witnesses for evidence against Meziche. In 2002, Meziche is questioned by police and denies getting the calls from bin al-Shibh or Moussaoui. (Crawford 10/16/2010) In 2003, the German government secretly classifies Meziche as a threat. An investigation is launched in 2004 with the hope of charging him with forming a terrorist organization, but it is later suspended. On March 5, 2009, Meziche flies to Pakistan with a group of radical Islamists from Pakistan and attends training camps (see March 5, 2009). (Stark and Gebauer 10/11/2010) After Meziche’s death in the 2010 drone strike, German investigators will express their frustration at being unable to arrest him. On several occasions, suspects have been pulled off of airplanes just before takeoff, only to be released a few hours later. One unnamed intelligence official will say: “You can’t charge them with a crime until they show up in a terrorist camp. And then we can only hope they don’t return.” (Crawford 10/16/2010)

Fort Myer.Fort Myer. [Source: US Army]At 6:00 a.m., the FBI opens the Joint Operations Center (JOC) for coordinating the emergency response to the Pentagon attack. The JOC is located in a community center at Fort Myer, an army base 1.5 miles northwest of the Pentagon, and is commanded by FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Bereznay. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A23 and A28 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161) The US government’s January 2001 Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan (CONPLAN) allocated to the FBI responsibility for activating a JOC to coordinate the activities of federal departments and agencies in response to terrorist attacks. All the government organizations responding to the Pentagon attack are expected to assign a senior representative with decision-making authority to the JOC. There are 26 such representatives in all. Because many of the responding agencies are unfamiliar with the functions of the JOC, there is initially “considerable confusion” after it opens. (US Government 1/2001; US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. C49 and C51 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161) The FBI has been able to set up the JOC particularly quickly as a result of its preparations for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, scheduled to take place in Washington at the end of September (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001). Months previously, the FBI surveyed regional sites and chose Fort Myer as the location to coordinate the law enforcement response to any violent protests at that event. (Tran 9/14/2001; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161)

After arriving at FAA headquarters on September 12, Tony Ferrante, the manager of FAA investigations, spends several days working out the movements of the four hijacked planes. He is astonished at the precision with which they were flown towards their targets, later saying: “[I]t was almost as though it was choreographed.… It’s not as easy as it looks to do what they did at 500 miles an hour.” He concludes that either the hijackers were better pilots than originally thought, or they were aided by additional equipment such as radios to communicate among the four planes or handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment. (Freni 2003, pp. 74 and 76) 9/11 Commission investigators will in fact later speculate that the hijackers may have purchased GPS devices, “so they could determine the latitude and longitude of their intended targets.” According to a summary of a Commission interview, “Any autopilot changes made by the terrorist pilots to assist them in navigating to predetermined coordinates would simply have been to enter a specific location such as Newark or Reagan National” Airport. However, airline personnel will tell the 9/11 Commission investigators that “Entering changes to the autopilot is something that terrorist pilots probably would not have been trained or able to do.” Even a United Airlines senior pilot, who instructs on how to do this, says “he always has to pause before he makes such corrections to make sure to remember how to enter the change.” (9/11 Commission 11/17/2003 pdf file)

FBI Special Agent John Adams, who is now in charge of evidence recovery at the Pentagon during the daytime, addresses how the FBI should deal with the physical evidence at the crash site. (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 347 and 351) As the Pentagon is a crime scene, the FBI is responsible for collecting and documenting evidence there. (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 177) Agents are still carefully gathering together wreckage, but there is an overwhelming amount of it to deal with. Several FBI supervisors convene and discuss what the bureau should be recovering. One of them says every airplane part is significant and needs to be treated as valuable evidence. But Adams counters: “That can’t be. We know what happened here. Do we really need to collect every piece of the airplane?” Adams goes over to some National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) crash experts at the site, who are responsible for determining what happened to Flight 77. When he asks them, “Do you guys want pieces of the plane?” an NTSB official responds: “No, it’s clear what happened here. We don’t need pieces of the wings and stuff like that. But we do need the black boxes.” (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 351-352)

The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Germany’s federal anticrime agency, obtains a DNA sample for one of the 9/11 hijackers, alleged Flight 93 pilot Ziad Jarrah, after a search of the home of his girlfriend, Aysel Senguen. After the BKA sends the sample to the FBI, the bureau matches it with the DNA profile of one of four sets of unknown human remains recovered from the site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed. According to an FBI report provided to the 9/11 Commission, presumably sometime between 2003 and 2004, no relatives of the alleged 9/11 hijackers provide the bureau with DNA samples for comparison. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 2003)

Five of the six air traffic controllers at the FAA’s New York Center that provided tape-recorded statements where they described their actions during the 9/11 attacks subsequently prepare written statements about the attacks. However, they do not get to listen to their earlier taped accounts to help them do this. (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file)
FAA Requires Written Statements - Six controllers at the New York Center who communicated with, or tracked, two of the hijacked aircraft on 9/11 have participated in a session where they were recorded giving their personal accounts of the attacks (see 11:40 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Goo 5/6/2004) But FAA policy requires all personnel that were involved with an aircraft accident or incident to provide written statements. (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file) According to David LaCates, the deputy operations manager at the New York Center, the usual procedure is for those controllers to watch a computerized recreation of the air traffic radar picture during the event while listening to an audio tape of their air traffic controller position during that event, and then compile a written statement. (9/11 Commission 10/2/2003 pdf file)
Five Controllers Prepare Statements - One of the six controllers provides a written statement during the day of September 11, some time after giving his or her tape-recorded account; three of them provide written statements about two weeks later; the fifth does so three weeks after the attacks. All of the written statements are two pages long, except one that is four pages. According to Kevin Delaney, the New York Center’s quality assurance manager, the sixth controller does not provide a written statement because these statements are only required from the controllers that talked to the hijacked aircraft or had been working radar positions that the flight paths of the hijacked aircraft intersected.
Controllers Do Not Hear Tape - Before the controllers gave their tape-recorded accounts, Mike McCormick, the New York Center manager, told the local controllers’ union president that they would be able to use their taped statements to help them prepare their written ones (see (Shortly Before 11:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Yet the controllers never listen to the tape before they make their written statements, nor do they compare their completed written statements with their earlier taped ones. When one of the controllers asks to listen to the tape, she will be told that it is not meant for anyone to hear (see (November 2001)).
Written Statements Generally Consistent with Recorded Ones - Three of the five controllers that provide written statements will later tell Department of Transportation investigators that they believe their written statements are mostly consistent with their earlier recorded statements. The other two controllers will say they believe their written statements are more accurate or more detailed, because they were able to review radar data and transcripts of radio communications before preparing them. However, they will say they cannot be certain of this, since they never listened to the tape. In a 2004 report, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General will state that its “review of the controllers’ written witness statements, in comparison with two sets of sparse and sketchy notes taken during the taping, suggests some measure of consistency.” (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Air Safety Week 5/17/2004) The tape of the controllers’ statements will be destroyed some time between December 2001 and February 2002 (see Between December 2001 and February 2002), without any of the controllers having listened to it. (Wald 5/6/2004; Goo 5/6/2004)

A close aide to Osama bin Laden reports that bin Laden denies any role in the previous day’s attacks on the United States, but has praised those responsible for them. (Gannon 9/12/2001) The aide, one of bin Laden’s senior lieutenants, speaks by satellite telephone with Palestinian journalist Jamal Ismail, who is the Islamabad bureau chief of Abu Dhabi Television. (Associated Press 9/12/2001; Guardia 9/13/2001) Ismail has long-standing ties with bin Laden and has conducted several interviews with him over the last few years. (Associated Press 9/13/2001) The aide, who does not want to be publicly named, calls Ismail early in the day from a hideout somewhere in Afghanistan. He quotes bin Laden as calling the attacks on the US “punishment from almighty Allah” for America’s attempt to “control the entire world by force.” He tells Ismail, “Osama bin Laden thanked Almighty Allah and bowed before him when he heard this news [of the attacks].” But, the aide says, bin Laden has stated, “I have no information about the attackers or their aims and I don’t have any links with them.” (Gannon 9/12/2001; Guardia 9/13/2001; Reuters 9/13/2001; BBC 9/14/2001)

Dr. Marcella FierroDr. Marcella Fierro [Source: Ernie Branson]Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Marcella Fierro, believing that state forensic pathologists have jurisdiction over the Pentagon’s land, reassigns staff from three other regional offices to the Northern Virginia office in order to conduct postmortem examinations on victims of the Pentagon attack. However, following what the Washington Post calls a “behind-the-scenes tug of war,” after FBI and Defense Department officials meet with her they instead opt to conduct forensic and mortuary activities at Defense Department facilities. Fierro requests and later receives a letter from Attorney General John Ashcroft relieving her department of its responsibilities. (Goldstein 9/13/2001; US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A-47 pdf file)

W. Gene Corley.W. Gene Corley. [Source: ASCE]The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its contractor, Greenhorne and O’Mara, Inc., from Greenbelt, Maryland, begin putting together a Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT), to conduct a formal analysis of the World Trade Center collapses, and produce a report of its findings. FEMA routinely deploys such teams following disasters, like floods or hurricanes. The 23-member BPAT team set up at the WTC collapse site is assembled by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and headed by Dr. W. Gene Corley of Construction Technologies Laboratories in Skokie, Illinois. Corley was previously the principal investigator for FEMA’s study of the Murrah Building, in Oklahoma City in 1995. (Seabrook 11/12/2001) BPAT team members are based nationwide and have to communicate with each other mostly by phone, as they continue with their regular jobs. While some of them are being paid for their efforts, others are working on the investigation voluntarily. They are told not to speak with reporters, under threat of dismissal from the team, supposedly because of the delicacy of the subject with which they are dealing. The BPAT team receives $600,000 of funding from FEMA, plus approximately $500,000 in ASCE in-kind contributions. (Glanz and Lipton 12/25/2001; Kugler 1/14/2002; US Congress 3/6/2002) The team will have great difficulty accessing the collapse site and evidence they want to see (see March 6, 2002). They will be unable to get FEMA to obtain such basic data as detailed blueprints of the WTC buildings. FEMA will also refuse to allow them to make appeals to the public for photos and videos of the towers that might aid their investigation. Bureaucratic restrictions will often prevent them from making forensic inspections at Ground Zero, interviewing witnesses, or getting important evidence, like recorded distress calls from people who were trapped in the towers. (Glanz and Lipton 2004, pp. 330) The end product of their investigation is the FEMA World Trade Center Building Performance Study, released in May 2002 (see May 1, 2002).

A manager at the FAA’s New York Center begins forwarding evidence relating to the 9/11 attacks to the FBI, but he does not pass on, or reveal the existence of, a tape recording of some of the center’s air traffic controllers recalling their interactions with the hijacked aircraft. (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file) Shortly after the attacks occurred, Kevin Delaney, the New York Center’s quality assurance manager, was instructed to make a tape recording of six controllers at the center who had been involved in handling or tracking two of the hijacked aircraft, giving their personal accounts of what happened (see 11:40 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file; Goo 5/6/2004; Air Safety Week 5/17/2004)
Tape Not Provided to FBI - In response to verbal requests from the FBI, the FAA’s liaison to the bureau provides it with evidential material relating to the 9/11 attacks. Beginning on September 12, Delaney forwards evidence materials, as they become available, to the FBI through this liaison. But, although the tape of the controllers’ statements was logged into the New York Center’s record of evidence, neither Delaney nor Mike McCormick, the center’s manager, passes it to the FBI. Furthermore, neither of the two managers even discloses the existence of the tape to the FBI or the FAA liaison. Nor do they provide the center’s evidence log, which references the tape, to the FBI. Yet McCormick will later claim that one of his reasons for having requested the tape be made on September 11 was that he wanted a recording of the controllers’ statements that would be immediately available for law enforcement efforts. (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Air Safety Week 5/17/2004) He had also reassured the six controllers that the tape with their recorded statements on would be strictly for use only by law enforcement personnel (see (Shortly Before 11:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 10/1/2003 pdf file)
Tape Could Have Been Provided on Following Day - By September 13, the FAA liaison will have provided the FBI with air traffic control voice and radar data, which the bureau is most interested in receiving, as well as several written statements that have already been obtained from controllers at the FAA’s Boston and Cleveland Centers, and from personnel at Washington’s Dulles Airport. Had McCormick or Delaney notified the liaison of the tape’s existence, he could have forwarded it to the FBI along with these statements. The tape will be deliberately destroyed several months later (see Between December 2001 and February 2002), and is never made available to the FBI for its investigation. (US Department of Transportation 5/4/2004 pdf file; Air Safety Week 5/17/2004)

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). (Levin 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). (Levin 8/12/2002; Hollander 9/8/2002) Investigators then interviewed its pilots and crew. (Hollander 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. (Hollander 9/29/2001; Hollander 9/8/2002)

The Saudi passport of Saeed Alghamdi, said to be discovered in the wreckage of Flight 93.The Saudi passport of Saeed Alghamdi, said to be discovered in the wreckage of Flight 93. [Source: FBI]According to the 9/11 Commission, the passports of two hijackers are discovered in the wreckage of Flight 93. One passport, belonging to Saeed Alghamdi, is damaged but still readable. The other passport, belonging to Ziad Jarrah, is burned most of the way through, but part of his photograph is still visible. In addition, the passport of hijacker Abdulaziz Alomari is recovered because apparently it was put in Mohamed Atta’s luggage and the luggage did not get put on the flight Alomari and Atta were hijacking before it took off (see September 11-13, 2001). The recovery of these passports will not be made public at the time and will only be mentioned in passing in 2004 by the 9/11 Commission. A fourth passport, that of Satam Al Suqami, was also recovered on a street near the WTC (see After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). That did become immediate news and caused skepticism by many who wondered how a paper document could survive such a crash (see After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 1/26/2004)

The FBI launches an internal investigation into its failings before 9/11, but will not publicize the probe’s course or findings. The only thing known about the investigation is that two FBI agents who were detailed to Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, before 9/11 are interviewed by the investigators and give a different account of their conduct to the version they provide to the Justice Department’s inspector general. The two agents, Doug Miller and Mark Rossini, were involved in the blocking of a CIA cable to the FBI about 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar (see 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. January 5, 2000 and January 6, 2000) and falsely claimed to the inspector general that they could recall nothing about this (see (February 12, 2004)). However, they tell the internal investigation the truth, that they were ordered by Alec Station’s deputy chief, Tom Wilshire, and another CIA officer to withhold the cable from the FBI. (Stein 10/1/2008)

Airphone from Flight 93 wreckage.Airphone from Flight 93 wreckage. [Source: National Museum of American History]The first FBI agents arrive at the Flight 93 crash scene soon after it goes down. (Kashurba 2002, pp. 60) Due to the criminal nature of the crash, the FBI becomes lead authority for the investigation of the site. Attempts are made to have the area declared a federal disaster, but these are unsuccessful. (Shepardson 1/2002) For about two weeks, the FBI’s evidence recovery team of about 150 agents goes over the site with sifters, filtering evidence from the soil. It recovers about 510 pounds of human remains. (Longman 2002, pp. 259; Wright 9/9/2002) Despite the lack of wreckage reported by those first at the crash scene (see (After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001), the FBI claims that it recovers 95 percent of the plane. The largest piece found, it says, is a seven-foot-long piece of the fuselage skin, including four windows. With the exception of the two black boxes, all wreckage is passed on to United Airlines. Asked what United will do with this, a spokeswoman says, “I don’t think a decision has been made… but we’re not commenting.” (CNN 9/24/2001; Gibb 9/25/2001) While conducting its investigation of the crash site, the FBI overrules a plan to carefully map the area and mark the positions of debris so as to determine exactly how Flight 93 crashed, claiming this would be too time-consuming (see September 16, 2001). (Longman 2002, pp. 262) After it completes its work, the site becomes the responsibility of the county coroner, who continues the search for remains. (Longman 2002, pp. 258-259)

On September 12, 2001, 9/11 hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi’s 1988 Toyota Corolla is found at a parking lot near Washington, DC. Alhazmi and fellow hijacker Khalid Almihdhar bought the car in San Diego in March 2000 (see March 25, 2000). (Lichtblau and Meyer 9/27/2001) Various items are found in the car (see September 11-13, 2001), including an old telephone number of Osama Awadallah. Alhazmi knew Awadallah when he lived in San Diego in 2000. Awadallah’s San Diego house is searched soon thereafter, and photos, videos, and articles relating to Osama bin Laden are found. Investigators also discover that copies of bin Laden’s fatwas (religious edicts) and other similar materials were distributed by people living in the house. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 219-220) Awadallah worked with Alhazmi at a San Diego gas station with a number of radical Islamists (see Autumn 2000). A witness claims that one day before 9/11, he seemed to be celebrating the upcoming 9/11 attacks at the gas station, telling co-workers, “it is finally going to happen” (see Late August-September 10, 2001). Authorities will never develop enough evidence to charge Awadallah with any serious crime, and he will be deported in 2006 after a long legal battle (see May 4, 2006).

After arriving at the Pentagon on September 11 (see 9:42 a.m. September 11, 2001), the FBI is involved in removing bodies and body parts from the crash site. It works closely with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams and fire department Technical Rescue Teams (TRT). Members of these teams hunt through the debris, searching for survivors. When they find bodies or body parts, they call upon the FBI to photograph, number, and tag these remains. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. C-54 pdf file) Though the Flight 77 passengers had been in the back of the plane at the time of the crash, most of their remains are found deep inside the building, near the end of the area traveled by the aircraft debris. Conversely, the remains of the suspected hijackers, who would have been at the front of the plane, are found relatively close to the front of the building, where the plane first impacted it. (However, these remains will be identified as belonging to the hijackers only through a process of elimination, as they do not match DNA samples of the victims of the attack.) According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Pentagon Building Performance Report, the location of the remains as such indicates that “the front of the aircraft disintegrated essentially upon impact but, in the process, opened up a hole allowing the trailing portions of the fuselage to pass into the building.” Journalist Steve Vogel concludes, “The fuselage in essence turned inside out as it passed through the Pentagon.” The search and rescue operations at the Pentagon come to an end on the morning of September 22, and the Arlington County Fire Department then turns command of the crash site over to the FBI. (Vogel 11/21/2001; Mlakar et al. 1/2003, pp. 40 pdf file; Vogel 2007, pp. 432 and 467)

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

CIA officer Clark Shannon gives conflicting accounts of his conduct in the failed search for Khalid Almihdhar to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry’s staff and CIA director George Tenet. Shannon attended a meeting at which the CIA and FBI discussed the investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole and failed to disclose information about hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi to the Cole investigators (see June 11, 2001). Shannon tells the Congressional Inquiry’s staff that he was aware that Almihdhar had a US visa and Alhazmi had traveled to the US, but did not disclose this to the FBI, as he would not share such information outside the CIA unless authorized to do so. However, CIA director George Tenet tells the Congressional Inquiry that Shannon told him something different and that Almihdhar is not who they were talking about at the meeting. (New York Times 10/17/2002; US Department of Justice 11/2004 pdf file)

FAA personnel are too busy after 9/11 to complete an after-action report on the agency’s response to the terrorist attacks. Mike Morse, an FAA national security coordination staffer, will later tell the 9/11 Commission: “No comprehensive after-action report was ever completed by the FAA. Everyone was working day and night on emergency measures. The potential for other attacks was real.” The official initially tasked with writing the report is Larry Bruno, the FAA’s security regulatory manager. But, according to Morse, Bruno finds it “impossible because people could not make time to cooperate.” Willie Gripper, the deputy director of civil aviation security operations at FAA headquarters, then tasks Morse with the assignment, but Morse says that accomplishing the task will require that higher level officials make it a priority. An attempt is made to complete a report around March or April 2002, but the creation of the Transportation Security Administration is underway at the time, and so it is “increasingly difficult to get all of the [FAA] principals in one place to discuss what happened and generate ‘lessons learned,’” according to Morse. (9/11 Commission 9/15/2003, pp. 10 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 5/5/2004, pp. 5-6 pdf file)

On September 12, the FBI in Miami issues a national bulletin for law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for two cars connected with the 9/11 attacks. One is a red 1989 Pontiac registered to Mohamed Atta, presumably the car he bought in July 2000 (see Early July 2000). The other is an Oldsmobile Alero, leased from a company in Boca Raton, but this is located later in the day. (Babington 9/12/2001; WESH 2 (Orlando/Daytona) 9/12/2001; CNN 9/13/2001) About six weeks later, the Pontiac and another unspecified car that belonged to Atta and Marwan Alshehhi are found at a used car dealership in Tamarac, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale. The hijackers reportedly sold them a week before 9/11. (CNN 10/26/2001; CNN 10/28/2001; Grech 10/29/2001) Also around this time, Brad Warrick, the owner of a Florida company that rented cars to Atta (see August 6-September 9, 2001), reports finding about a teaspoon of an unidentified white powder in the trunk of a Ford Escort used by Atta in the days before the attacks. The FBI had impounded the car for two weeks after 9/11, and it has not been used since. An FBI spokeswoman says it is unlikely that agents would have missed a suspicious powder and suggests it could be fingerprinting dust. (Grech 10/29/2001; Reuters 10/29/2001; Weiss 10/30/2001)

A chunk of hot metal being removed from the North Tower rubble about eight weeks after 9/11.
A chunk of hot metal being removed from the North Tower rubble about eight weeks after 9/11. [Source: Frank Silecchia]In the weeks and months after 9/11, numerous individuals report seeing molten metal in the remains of the World Trade Center:
bullet Ken Holden, who is involved with the organizing of demolition, excavation, and debris removal operations at Ground Zero, will later tell the 9/11 Commission, “Underground, it was still so hot that molten metal dripped down the sides of the wall from [WTC] Building 6.” (9/11 Commission 4/1/2003)
bullet William Langewiesche, the only journalist to have unrestricted access to Ground Zero during the cleanup operation, will describe, “[I]n the early days, the streams of molten metal that leaked from the hot cores and flowed down broken walls inside the foundation hole.” (Langewiesche 2002, pp. 32)
bullet Leslie Robertson, one of the structural engineers responsible for the design of the WTC, describes fires still burning and molten steel still running 21 days after the attacks. (Williams 10/2001 pdf file)
bullet Alison Geyh, who heads a team of scientists studying the potential health effects of 9/11, reports: “Fires are still actively burning and the smoke is very intense. In some pockets now being uncovered, they are finding molten steel.” (Johns Hopkins Public Health Magazine 2001)
bullet Ron Burger, a public health advisor who arrives at Ground Zero on September 12, says that “feeling the heat” and “seeing the molten steel” there reminds him of a volcano. (Lyman 9/2003, pp. 40 pdf file)
bullet Paramedic Lee Turner arrives at the World Trade Center site on September 12 as a member of a federal urban search and rescue squad. While at Ground Zero, he goes “down crumpled stairwells to the subway, five levels below ground.” There, he reportedly sees, “in the darkness a distant, pinkish glow—molten metal dripping from a beam.” (McDonald 9/12/2002)
bullet According to a member of New York Air National Guard’s 109th Air Wing, who is at Ground Zero from September 22 to October 6: “One fireman told us that there was still molten steel at the heart of the towers’ remains. Firemen sprayed water to cool the debris down but the heat remained intense enough at the surface to melt their boots.” (Lounsbury 12/2001)
bullet New York firefighters will recall “heat so intense they encountered rivers of molten steel.” (Lumenick 3/3/2004)
bullet As late as five months after the attacks, in February 2002, firefighter Joe O’Toole sees a steel beam being lifted from deep underground at Ground Zero, which, he says, “was dripping from the molten steel.” (Lin 5/29/2002)
Steven E. Jones, a physics professor from Utah, will claim this molten metal is “direct evidence for the use of high-temperature explosives, such as thermite,” used to deliberately bring down the WTC towers. (MSNBC 11/16/2005) He will say that without explosives, a falling building would have “insufficient directed energy to result in melting of large quantities of metal.” (Jarvik 11/10/2005) There will be no mention whatsoever of the molten metal in the official reports by FEMA, NIST, or the 9/11 Commission. (Federal Emergency Management Agency 5/1/2002; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004; National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005) But Dr. Frank Gayle, who leads the steel forensics aspects of NIST’s investigation of the WTC collapses, will be quoted as saying: “Your gut reaction would be the jet fuel is what made the fire so very intense, a lot of people figured that’s what melted the steel. Indeed it didn’t, the steel did not melt.” (Field 2/7/2004) As well as the reports of molten metal, data collected by NASA in the days after 9/11 finds dozens of “hot spots” (some over 1,300 degrees) at Ground Zero (see September 16-23, 2001).

Ronald Hamburger, a member of NIST’s WTC team and advocate of the ‘piledriver’ theory.Ronald Hamburger, a member of NIST’s WTC team and advocate of the ‘piledriver’ theory. [Source: National Council of Structural Engineers' Associations]After 9/11, the scientists investigating the WTC collapse give very different figures for the buildings’ weight. Some sources say that each building weighed 500,000 tons. For example, MIT professor Thomas Eager writes, “The total weight of each tower was about 500,000 t.” (Ashley 10/9/2001; Eagar and Musso 12/2001; Frank Greening 2/16/2006, pp. 23 pdf file; Tyson 8/2006) However, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) states that the buildings weighed only 250,000 tons each. (National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. 32) One theory explaining the building’s total collapse is that the upper section acts as a “piledriver” and smashes through the floors below it. (Barter 9/13/2001; Shwartz 12/5/2001) The heavier the upper block above the impact zone, the more likely it is to be able to destroy the other floors as it falls.

Under the authority of the FBI, remains of 9/11 victims at the Pentagon are taken to a temporary morgue in the Pentagon’s north parking lot, where they are photographed, labeled, and then placed in refrigeration. (Jontz 9/17/2001; US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A-47 pdf file; Arrington 3/2005) They are then transported to Davison Army Airfield at nearby Fort Belvoir, and from there to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, where there is a large mortuary created for use in wartime. FBI agents accompany the remains at all points during transportation. (Gilmore 9/15/2001; PBS 9/21/2001; Soldiers 10/2001; US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. C-55 pdf file) About 250 people, including 50 medical examiners and 50 members of the FBI’s ‘disaster team,’ work at the mortuary to identify the remains. (Jontz 9/17/2001) Remains are first scanned for the presence of unexploded ordnance or metallic foreign bodies. FBI experts then collect trace evidence to find any chemicals from explosives, and also conduct fingerprint identifications. (Kelly 11/30/2001) Other techniques used include dental records and X-rays. Tissue samples are sent to an Armed Forces laboratory in Rockville, Maryland, for DNA analysis. (PBS 9/21/2001) Identification is problematic because specimens are often unrecognizable body parts, and are nearly always mixed with debris composed of aircraft and building materials. (Harcke, Bifano, and Koeller 4/2002) However, by the time Dover staff formally end their identification effort, on November 16, they have identified remains of 184 of the 189 people who died in the Pentagon or aboard Flight 77, including the five hijackers (see November 21, 2001). (Vogel 11/21/2001)

At the time of 9/11, the FBI’s Saudi Arabia office was comprised of only legal attache Wilfred Rattigan and his assistant Gamal Abdel-Hafiz. Abdel-Hafiz, the FBI’s only Muslim agent at the time, had been appointed to the position in February 2001 despite a controversy with his FBI work back in the US (see Early 1999-March 21, 2000). Some fellow FBI agents accused him of refusing to secretly record conversations with Muslim suspects. Time will report, “The FBI sent reinforcements [to the Saudi Arabian office] within two weeks of 9/11, but it appears that the bureau’s team never got on top of the thousands of leads flowing in from the US and Saudi governments.… According to several former employees of the US embassy in Riyadh, the FBI legal attache’s office housed within the embassy was often in disarray during the months that followed 9/11. When an FBI supervisor arrived [nearly a year after 9/11] to clean up the mess, she found a mountain of paper and, for security reasons, ordered wholesale shredding that resulted in the destruction of unprocessed documents relating to the 9/11 investigations.” In June 2005, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin investigating allegations that the FBI’s Saudi office was “delinquent in pursuing thousands of leads” related to 9/11. Piles of time-sensitive leads still had not been followed up when the supervisor arrives. The FBI will claim that the thousands of shredded documents were duplicated elsewhere. But the Judiciary Committee will assert some material is lost. One employee will claim that some of the lost information “was leads, suspicious-activity material, information on airline pilots.” Rattigan, who has converted to Islam, later will sue the FBI for discrimination and will claim that the FBI refused to provide him with adequate resources to cope with the workload after 9/11. (Telvick 10/16/2003; Zagorin 6/27/2005)

Following the attacks, there is no agreement on the speed with which the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11 (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 10:28 a.m. September 11, 2001). The 9/11 Commission says that the South Tower collapsed in “ten seconds” and the National Institute of Standards and Technology says that tops of the buildings came down “essentially in free fall.” (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 305; National Institute of Standards and Technology 9/2005, pp. 146) In the dispute over the reason for the WTC’s collapse after 9/11, it is claimed that, if the towers fell in ten seconds, then this is evidence they were destroyed by explosives. For example, David Ray Griffin, a theologian and outspoken critic of commission’s report, writes, “For a 1,300-foot building, however, ten seconds is almost free-fall speed. But if each floor produced just a little resistance, so that breaking through each one took half a second, the collapse of all those floors—80 or 95 of them—would have taken 40 to 47 seconds. Can we really believe that the upper part of the buildings encountered virtually no resistance from the lower part?” (Griffin 2004, pp. 16) But according to Canadian scientist Frank Greening, who studies the Twin Towers’ collapse, the freefall time would be about 9.6 seconds, and he calculates that it takes longer for the buildings to fall—twelve to thirteen and a half seconds—and states this does not indicate that explosives were used. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 8/25/2005)

FBI agent Robert Wright will later claim that the FBI takes extraordinary efforts to gag him in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. According to Wright, “On September the 11th, as I watched the World Trade Center towers burn, I did not initially share the same feelings of surprise and shock and dismay most Americans felt. I just thought to myself, ‘It has begun.’” On the afternoon of 9/11, he claims that he is called by reporters from the New York Times and 60 Minutes who already are aware of his issues with FBI management (see June 9, 2001-July 10, 2001). They ask if he would be willing to go public with his story. He declines. “I’m confident if I had gone public at that time I would have been fired. I realized my termination would only aid the FBI by allowing management to claim I was simply a former employee who was disgruntled over his termination.” Over the next few days, his former supervisor prohibits him from working with the 9/11 investigation. He is not allowed to answer any incoming telephone calls from the general public. The FBI prohibits him from publishing his recently completed book on FBI failures (see May 9, 2002). His lawyers contact a congressman who invites him to come to Washington and present his information to Congress. Wright is immediately prohibited from traveling outside of Chicago without FBI approval. Larry Klayman, one of two lawyers now representing Wright, later says he calls the Justice Department a few days after 9/11 and asks that Wright be allowed to present his issues to Attorney General John Ashcroft. Klayman claims he receives a reply from Michael Chertoff, then head of the Criminal division, who refuses to meet with Wright and says, “We are tired of conspiracy theories.” (Federal News Service 5/30/2002; Federal News Service 6/2/2003) On September 20, Wright’s legal representatives publish a list of 20 entities described as “Tax Exempt and Other Entities to Investigate Immediately.” The US will later shut down many of these entities. (Judicial Watch 9/20/2001) The restrictions placed on Wright will largely continue to hold in the years afterwards. For instance, as of the end of 2005, his book still has not been approved for publication (see May 9, 2002).

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