« August 2006 | Main | October 2006 »

September 30, 2006

Lyre, Lyre, Pants on Fire!

That's not a mandolin.

And the party won't be belated: today is my third son's 6th birthday. Happy birthday, Griffin.

Griffin, 3 days old

Posted by jeff at 1:17 AM | TrackBack

Citing Mother Nature for Polluting the Environment

Does a bear shit in the woods? Why, yes, yes it does. With Mother Nature unable to meet clean water standards, one has to wonder whether the problem might just be with the standards themselves, at this point.

Never fear: Al Gore is protecting us! Or lining his pockets on the backs of hysteria which, coincidentally, happens to work to his political benefit. Either way, he's on the job!

UPDATE: I wish I had seen this first.

Posted by jeff at 1:03 AM | TrackBack

September 29, 2006

Target! Tank: 8600 meters. Sabot.

There are five basic classifications of weapons: melee weapons, missile weapons, mines, chemical weapons and nuclear weapons. A melee weapon is a sword, knife, club or similar instrument that does its damage by being bashed against the enemy, pushed into him, or some similar manner of employment. Missile weapons are weapons that throw some object away from the launcher, and do their damage when (if) that object hits its target. For the purposes of what I want to talk about the rest of the types are academic.

Missile weapons themselves can be operated in two distinct modes: direct fire and indirect fire. Direct fire means that you see your target, adjust for distance (a projectile falls due to gravity as it travels from its launcher) and other factors (some modern systems adjust for humidity and reported cross-winds half-way to the target!), and fire a projectile at that target. The principle is the same for bow and arrow, rifle and bullet, or cannon and shell. Today, of course, computers do much of the work for tank guns and artillery, such that a modern American tank can reliably hit targets with one shot at 4000 meters. (Which is why our invasions of Iraq and Kuwait were so seemingly easy: the enemy was destroyed before he could come within his own 2000 or so meter effective range.)

Indirect fire, on the other hand, is a mathematical game. Rather than taking an enemy and putting your gunsight on him, you determine where the enemy is in relation to you, do some math, and fire a shell along a parabolic arc which (hopefully) intersects that point. For that reason, you can shoot at targets 20-50 miles away with artillery (and anywhere in the world with large missiles) with a pretty good chance of hitting the enemy. Modern guided (usually GPS or laser) artillery shells have an excellent chance of hitting the target with one or two shots at 30 or more miles, if there is a person near enough to observe the target.

The primary difference between direct and indirect fire is simply that of seeing the enemy. Because a tanker or infantryman sees the enemy, he can choose his own targets. Because artillerymen cannot see the enemy, their fires have to be directed by observers who can see the target. But the US has just changed the equation in a fundamental way: the US has introduced a tank shell that has scored a kill at 8600 meters!

In other words, US tanks equipped with the MRM can now offer direct fire on targets that it cannot observe directly, giving the benefits of direct fire (pick an enemy and kill him without outside assistance) and indirect fire (range and difficulty, to the enemy, of returning fire or defending themselves) in one platform.

This is as much of an advance over WWII as WWII was over the US Civil War. In other words, once this is in full-scale use, there is not a conventional army in the world, regardless of size that can expect to win against the US Army. Which means we had better get very, very good at counter-guerilla work, because we're going to be seeing a lot more of it in the future, at least until we have an adversary rich enough and sophisticated enough to keep up, should that ever again happen.

Posted by jeff at 11:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 26, 2006

Clinton's Outburst

I don't have much to say about Clinton's outburst on Fox News. Others have covered in far more detail how many lies and omissions were in Clinton's short interview, as well as the kind of political machinations that Clinton is so prone to. But there is something that I haven't seen: a look at what Clinton's outburst reveals — or rather, how it reinforces what we already know — about his character.

Bill Clinton (and yes, Hillary, too) is what Southerners call "white trash." He is not much more than the trailer park slut who gets pregnant at 15, or the poor guy who beats his wife because he can't ever manage to get ahead (or to care enough to change his own self-destructive behaviors), or the fat old slob bemoaning that the world finds them unattractive. Clinton has managed to cover it well, most of the time, because he is very charismatic and very intelligent. Which just goes to show that you can be intelligent and a great fool. Clinton is a great fool, on many levels. Clinton is also amoral, and a habitual liar. Worse yet, he is the kind of habitual liar who blames all of his failures on the machinations of others, and accepts no responsibility for his own behavior.

Bill Clinton is the only argument that I have ever seen in favor of term limits that have made me think there might be a point to that position, after all. My great fear is that enough people have managed to bury his and Hillary's lack of character in their disused memories, and that that forgetfulness will allow Hillary to become President. The gods forbid such a pestilence on our great nation.

If I sound disgusted, it's because I am.

Posted by jeff at 5:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 25, 2006

Wonderful Irony

Something occurred to me tonight: the reason we are so dependent on oil today might very well be because of early Progressives. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Progressives were on an anti-trust bender. I've always looked at this as a generally good thing, because it broke up a lot of monopolies, which tend to be very destructive.

But tonight I was thinking in a longer time frame. While the monopolies are very destructive in the short term, in the long term, don't they just spawn unorthodox competition? After all, if you look at Microsoft's rather blatant destruction of any and all competition, its eventual outcome was the open source movement, typified by operating systems like Linux and applications like Apache. Open source is largely immune to Microsoft's bullying tactics, and that has given many other companies (not least of them being Apple) a lot of breathing room that they didn't have before. Now you can compete with Microsoft without being crushed; that was not true in the 1990s.

So might it not also be true that, had Standard Oil not been broken up under anti-trust laws, that some very unexpected opposition would have arisen, giving both new options for those who wished to avoid using Standard Oil's monopoly product, and those wishing to compete with Standard Oil? And might it be that we would have been off of any serious dependency on oil by the end of the 1930s? And if so, aren't Progressives to a large degree responsible for the situation they now so decry, our dependence on oil from the Middle East to maintain our economies?

Well, at the very least, I think it's fair to say that free markets produce better solutions than government regulation, though they are sometimes slower than government regulation.

Posted by jeff at 10:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 24, 2006

A Weekend of Scouting

I have been recruited into being the assistant cubmaster (and next year the cubmaster) for Cub Scout Pack 69 in Waterford. (With Connor and Aidan in scouts, and Griffin to join next year, it's kind of a natural fit to be involved in my sons' lives.) So today was leadership training: 6 hours. Tomorrow Connor is going to be in a program at a local park that does three Webelos badges in one day: another 6 hours. Then there is the pack meeting on Tuesday, and next weekend is the pack leaders' meeting, and really I think that scouts might very well become my entire social life for the next few years. That's not a complaint: it's a lot of fun.

Posted by jeff at 12:14 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 20, 2006

The Song That Never Ends

The amount of blatant fakery in news lately — staged photographs, altered photographs, invented sources, invented documents and the like — has gotten me to the point where now I can not trust the news any more than I can trust random anonymous commenters on the web. I figured I'd keep a catalog of such fakery that I run across, so that when I say things like "the media lies", I'd have a quick place to point people when they say "prove it". Feel free to contribute examples you've found. I'll bump and update as I find new instances.

This is the song that never ends
Yes, it goes on and on, my friends
Some people started singing it not knowing what it was,
And they'll continue singing it forever just because

This is the song that never ends
Yes, it goes on and on my friends
Some people started singing it not knowing what it was,
And they'll continue singing it forever just because —

In case they disappear from the web, the story links, in order, are:

Reuters publishes doctored photographs (fauxtographs?) of Israeli actions during the war in Lebanon, 2006.
Staged photographs from Reuters, AP and AFP of alleged child victims of Israeli attack on Qana, Lebanon, 2006.
NBC fakes footage of GM pickup truck with "sidesaddle" fuel tanks exploding. NBC had planted rockets underneath the truck to make it explode. 1993
CBS presents faked memos critical of President Bush's National Guard service, apparently in an effort to influence the upcoming 2004 presidential election.
"Pallywood", a documentary showing how Palestinians staged shots (including fake injuries and fake combat) and their use on CBS' 60 Minutes. Pallywood was made in 2005, but includes footage going back many years prior.
The Guardian cites section of Iraqi penal code as allowing anyone to kill homosexuals as an "honor killing", when the cited section actually is about depriving someone of their rights as a trustee of an estate. There is no apparent part of the Iraqi criminal code that allows killing of homosexuals or honor killings. This is an apparent attempt to make the Iraqi government look bad. 2006
Salon.com attempts to make it appear that President Bush skipped a National Guard physical because he was afraid of testing positive for drugs, quoting a non-existent regulation. 2004
The widely-quoted official from the Nixon and Reagan administrations, George Harleigh, doesn't apparently exist, and all links lead back to one source: Capitol Hill Blue. 2006

A veritable catalog of Reuters fakery — in categories! — from the Lebanon war of 2006, including some of the above-noted incidences as well as staged photographs with a wedding dress, other staged photographs with kids' toys, other staged photographs with people feigning death, and still more staged photos of people in front of various scenes of destruction (including one woman who appears to have spontaneously adopted the same pose on the loss of about six of her houses).
Eason Jordan admits shilling for Saddam Hussein, including just reprinting Iraqi propaganda, in order to maintain their Baghdad bureau. 2003
Jayson Blair exposed as having invented numerous reports for the New York Times. 2003
Journalist, having admitted in 2003 making up a story, lambastes blogs in 2006 for questioning the credibility of the media. In the process, the article that he wrote admitting making up a story is mysteriously edited.
AP story on speech given by SecDef Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly puts words in Rumsfeld's mouth, including words that could not be taken as a wild paraphrase, but which are quoted as if they were said in precisely those words. This is more subtle than most of the incidents of bad reporting that I am showing here, which means that it is also almost certainly more common. Essentially, the speech that is being reported on is not the one that was given, in any meaningful sense. 2006
An AP reporter, according to translated Iraqi documents, spied for Saddam against the inspectors looking for Iraqi WMD programs. 2000
Time's chief correspondent in South Vietnam during the Vietnam war was a Communist spy. His press credentials gave him access to US military bases and background briefings. 1960s and early 1970s

Posted by jeff at 11:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Chavez Who?

Here's the thing about rants like Chavez' UN spew: it's just the squeaking of the impotent, inconsequential and unimportant looking for a little attention. He wants to feel big. It's kind of like my four year old when he's really tired and wants to get his way: he cannot get it by persuasion or moral force, so he lies on the floor kicking and screaming. But of course, Chavez is all grown up, on the outside. Which just takes us back to impotent, inconsequential and unimportant.

UPDATE: And I gotta love the idea of Noam Chomsky "loving" America like an abusive husband "loves" his wife. He had to beat her up: it's for her own good.

Posted by jeff at 11:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 19, 2006

Beating. Head. Against. Wall.

I need to have an "Idiots" category. Gregg Easterbrook would be a many-times-featured recipient of the "honor." For his latest mind-numbingly dense emission, go here, search down to "bummer edition", and read that section. If you drink into a comatose stupor first, you might avoid blindness or weeping. (thanks??? for the tip to the Jawa Report)

Once you've recovered, marvel that Easterbrook is a reporter, and for that reason alone, many people will take what he says seriously, will not stop to count the number of inaccuracies, will not notice the hyperbole, will not realize that his IQ must be hovering around 80.

Which, now that I think about it, explains why he covers the sports beat.

And as my darling wife notes: "Writing it is one thing; the editor letting it through is another. That's the whole point of editors." Clearly, my wife doesn't watch the news enough to separate theory from reality in journalism.

For reference, because news sites expire their content quickly, here is that section in all its garish, pitiable "glory":

Cosmic Thoughts -- Bummer Edition: Recently, I was creeped out by this supernova. Detected Feb. 18 by Swift, a satellite launched to look for gamma-ray bursts, the exploding star already was the 24th supernova discovered at that early point in 2006. As instruments improve, exploding stars appear more common than cosmologists had expected, and that's not the best news we might have heard. Coded GRB 060218, this star detonation began as a gamma-ray burst that lasted 33 minutes -- absolutely stunning because previous gamma-ray bursts from space have lasted a few seconds at the most. The gamma rays came from 470 million light-years away. That was discomfiting because strong gamma-ray bursts usually emanate from what astronomers call the "deep field," billions of light-years distant and thus billions of years back in the past. A distance of 470 million light-years means the GRB 060218 supernova happened 470 million years ago. That is ancient by human reckoning, but many cosmologists had been assuming the kind of extremely massive detonations thought to cause strong gamma-ray busts occurred only in the misty eons immediately after the Big Bang. The working assumption was that since life appeared on Earth, there had been no stellar mega-explosion. Now we know there has.For several days as the giant dying star GRB 060218 collapsed, this single supernova shined brighter than all 100 billion other suns in its galaxy combined. The detonation was so inexpressibly luminous that, though 470 million light-years distant, it could be seen by telescopes on Earth. And not just fancy telescopes at the tops of mountains: A few days after the Swift satellite detected the gamma-ray surge, an amateur astronomer in the Netherlands sighted the forming supernova through a backyard telescope. The stellar coordinates hit the Web -- it was at RA: 03:21:39.71 Dec: +16:52:02.6 -- and soon amateur astronomers the world over were marveling at the glistening beacon from the cosmic past. This explosion released so much energy that it happened 470 million years ago yet the light could travel for that protracted period, plus pass through the gas and dust of roughly a hundred galaxies along the way, and still illuminate mirrors of backyard telescopes on Earth.Now here's what creeped me out: had GRB 060218 happened in our galaxy, life on Earth would have ended Feb. 18.Gamma rays are a deadly form of radiation. Routine gamma-ray bursts course through the Milky Way, our galaxy, all the time, and the threat from them appears small. Recently Krzysztof Stanek, a professor of astronomy at Ohio State and one of the hot names in astronomy -- reader Jim Yrkoski of Warsaw, Poland, notes I missed one "z" in Stanek's name the last time I cited him -- calculates that a regular supernova causing a routine gamma-ray burst would need to detonate within about 3,000 light-years of Earth to expose our world to enough radiation to cause a calamity. Only a small portion of the Milky Way, and none of the larger universe beyond, is within 3,000 light-years of our world.This does not rule out "nearby" gamma-ray bursts as causes of past extinctions. About 340,000 years ago, a supernova called Geminga exploded 180 light-years from Earth, which is much too close. Calculations suggest Geminga was bright enough to rival the full moon; our Homo erectus ancestors must have looked up on it in wonder. The Geminga supernova is believed to have blown off much of the ozone layer, exposing Earth to solar and cosmic radiation that killed many mammals, including many of those ancestors. Another supernova, Vela, about 1,500 light-years away, detonated 11,300 years ago. About the same time, several large mammals of North America and Eurasia fell extinct: among them, the woolly mammoth, the giant sloth and the glyptodon, an armadillo larger than a bear. There's a lively archeological debate about whether these extinctions were triggered by climate change or by people armed with new hunting tools such as bow and arrow. Maybe the extinctions were caused by the supernova bathing Earth in gamma rays. At any rate, Vela and Geminga were normal supernovas that caused relatively mild gamma bombardments lasting just seconds. If a 33-minute, incredibly powerful gamma-ray burst similar to the one associated with GRB 060218 happened anywhere in the Milky Way or any nearby galaxy, Earth would be sterilized; any life that might exist on other planets in our galaxy and nearby galaxies also would end. Most likely, the gamma radiation from GRB 060218 ended all life in numerous galaxies near the explosion. After GRB 060218, a team of astronomers led by Andrew Fruchter of the Space Telescope Science Institute calculated that the class of extremely massive blue star that caused this mega-supernova probably is not found in the Milky Way. That's some consolation. But February's ultimate supernova tells us nature has a doomsday weapon -- and that creeps me out.Interstellar bonus: The Swift satellite has a marketing slogan

Posted by jeff at 9:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Full of Crap

Hossain Derakshan opines
that Iran should develop nuclear weapons:

[E]ven if Iran becomes the most peaceful, secular and progressive, yet still independent state on the planet, the U.S. would be unable to tolerate it. The U.S. would seek new excuses to topple Iran's government and install their favorite instead.

Quick: name the last secular democracy that the US invaded.
For this reason, I believe Iran needs to produce nuclear weapons as a defensive mechanism, to deter the U.S. today and the ever-expanding and equally energy-hungry China tomorrow.

Here's the thing: if Iran were a secular and progressive country, I would have no objection to them developing nuclear weapons. I don't mind Israel, India or (formerly) South Africa having nuclear weapons. I wouldn't mind Taiwan or Japan or South Korea or Australia or Brazil having nuclear weapons. I only mind Pakistan having nuclear weapons because they are so politically unstable, and I only mind China having nuclear weapons because I am unsure of their insularity. As long as China doesn't attack its neighbors, I have little problem with China having nuclear weapons at all. I only have problems with Russia having nuclear weapons because they don't have a very good nuclear safety record, and I worry that they will lose a few to terrorists who are more concerned with getting the weapons than the Russians are with keeping them from being taken.

I worry about North Korea having nuclear weapons, and would worry more if I were more confident that the North Korean weapons work, or if I didn't feel that we could engineer North Korea's fall (and are trying to) via financial and political pressure. I worry enough about that that I would be willing to declare an embargo against anything coming out of North Korea by land, sea, or air and would be willing to go to war to enforce it, because North Korea is not beyond selling a nuclear weapon to terrorists in the way that Kos is not beyond attacking President Bush for any failing, real or imagined.

But Iran is an expansionist theocracy which has been attacking the US, overtly and covertly, for 27 years, and which is fighting an undeclared low-level war against the US in Iraq as we speak, and which recently fought (undeclared) against Israel alongside Hizb'allah, and which is otherwise acting inimically to US interests immediately, and to my personal interests (to the extent they diverge from US interests) over the long term. So I don't just worry about Iran having nuclear weapons: I find the prospect unacceptable.

(hat tip: Glenn Reynolds)

Posted by jeff at 7:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 17, 2006

Customer Disservice

The Internet is platform-neutral by design. That means that any application and any computer type that speaks the correct protocol should be able to talk to any other computer type and application using that protocol. For example, my Macintosh running Safari, Internet Explorer or Firefox should be able to talk to XM Radio's account management site running who-cares-what web server. But that is not possible, because some moron who programmed XM's site put in a check for the browser type, and won't let you connect to the site unless you are running a "supported" browser. These include IE, Netscape and AOL. But even IE on the mac (though it fits the version requirement of > 5.01) does not work. So it's apparent that XM's website is looking for the platform along with the browser name and version. I guarantee that I would never hire the person who made that decision to build a website.

This would not be a problem if XM did not charge more for using their phone service.

I know one thing: our investment in hardware for XM is relatively small, and I'll be looking very closely at Sirius the next time I buy a satellite radio.

Posted by jeff at 2:38 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 14, 2006

Best One-Question Poll Ever

On which is a better predictor of outcomes, at crosstabs.

Posted by jeff at 7:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Say Again?

What does Keith Olbermann want the President to do, run New York City's Port Authority, too? (hat tip: The Jawa Report)

Posted by jeff at 7:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ann Richards

Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, has died after a short battle with cancer. Although I would not have voted for her in a national office, I actually did vote for her over George Bush for a second term as Texas governor. Richards was a funny, no-nonsense Texan with an attitude appropriately sized for the state, and most of the time (when she wasn't playing partisan) a class act. Goodbye, Governor, and bright blessings.

Posted by jeff at 7:13 AM | TrackBack

September 13, 2006

Seventeen Words

In an offhand comment, in seventeen words, Wretchard managed to say what I've spend perhaps a few thouseand words in a dozen posts, as recently as yesterday, trying to say: "[T]he prospect of asymmetric warfare becoming symmetric that is the principal danger in the war on terror." At the point where we see Westerners adopting the enemy's organization, we will know our governments have failed to protect us. At the point where we see Westerners adopting the enemy's organization, we will know our civilization has failed to balance survival and liberalism.

Posted by jeff at 5:59 PM | TrackBack

September 12, 2006

Essentially Perfect

Every once in a while, a blog post comes along where you just have to say "yup" and move along. It's just so well reasoned, so well written, that there's nothing to add.

Yup

Posted by jeff at 11:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Why I am not a Libertarian

I am not a Libertarian, though I am a libertarian. The primary reason I am not a Libertarian is this mindset.

Consider just this one point: Mueller neglects to consider that one reason that there may not have been attacks in the US on the scale of 9/11 is that we responded in force to 9/11. Indeed, he even notes that "the number of Americans killed within the United States by international terrorists in the five years since 9/11 is the same as the number killed in the five years before: zero" and that "they do not seem to have become more capable generally since 9/11", but fails to attribute this to anything other than al Qaeda supposedly being over-hyped as a threat.

No, also consider a second point. Here is Mueller:

Even if [terrorists] were able to pull off "another 9/11" every three months for the next five years, the chance an individual American would be killed in one of them would still be two one-hundredths of one percent.

Not quite. The chances of someone in Andalusia, Alabama dying in a terrorist attack would be essentially zero, while the chances of someone in New York dying in a terrorist attack would be near certainty. Lying with statistics does not add to Mueller's credibility.

The problem with Libertarians as a party is that they are fanatical purists — mostly ivory-tower academics and drug-fiends who like the "we'll let you smoke anything" plank of the party — and over the long-run can only retain the loyalty of people too out of touch with reality to consider the implications of their proposals. And frankly, that's a shame, because the libertarian ideal could use a good party to champion it. In fact, it could use every party championing it.

Posted by jeff at 10:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Global Warming

James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia hypothesis, had an interview where he said something that sums up the reasoning for my position on global warming:

The human species has been on the planet for a million years now. We’ve gone through seven major climatic changes that are equivalent to this. The ice ages were shifts in climate comparable with this one that’s coming. And we’ve survived.

That series of glaciations and interglacials put the pressures on us to select the kind of human that could adapt. And we’re the progeny of them. And we’re just up against a new and different stress. Maybe we’ll come out better.


But he takes a different position from this than I do. Lovelock's position is that global warming is a very serious problem that is going to essentially leave the tropics uninhabitable, and therefore we need to take immediate action to prevent global warming.

I find it hard to see the overwhelming, unquestionable evidence that keeps being asserted, but never really demonstrated, for global warming being primarily due to man-made causes. I am not yet even convinced that we are in a long-term warming trend. Our knowledge of past climate changes is very incomplete. I find the arrogance of those who claim absolute knowlege on this subject quite unappealing.

As a result of my skepticism, I think we would be better off focusing our attention on technologies and methods of living that would adapt our lives to a warmer climate, rather than spending it all on "solutions" to a problem that we might not be able to solve, and that might not even exist. If the Earth is in fact in a long-term warming trend, and if that trend will result in a significantly warmer climate, then working on adaptive technologies will help us to avoid inconveniences that would cause. (Forget the hype, mankind has, as Lovelock points out, thrived in much warmer climates than currently exist, and we did it with far fewer technological aids.) If the Earth is not in a long-term warming trend, such technology developments will still undoubtedly have benefits; the knowlege gained, for example, could be applicable to space settlement or to adapting to climate cooling if that process happens. (And a new ice age is hardly beyond the realm of the possible.)

In short, we would be far better off learning to adapt to climate change than trying to avoid impacting the climate. That said, more nuclear power would be a good idea, for other reasons.

Posted by jeff at 5:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Armies of Davids

If the Army of Davids thesis is true, and I believe it is, there are some things we should be seeing happen as a natural consequence. In particular, there are two types of NGOs we should be seeing form. The first type is organizations formed around the idea of nourishing Westernization and modernization in the Arab world, and the second type amounts to vigilante groups (operating internally in the West) and private armies (operating externally to the West).

Organizations intending to nourish Westernization and modernization in the Arab world (and probably in Africa and possibly elsewhere) would essentially be a private effort to "shrink the Gap." Such organizations would probably initially consist of providing security for Western firms or local people trying to do things like building a modern economy (banks, factories, and so on) or culture (schools, churches, and so on). They would almost certainly evolve into bringing in additional investments and programs. This would actually cause a huge amount of disruption, because it would bring massive cultural change to areas not noted for their tolerance to cultural change. On the other hand, governments like those of Iran, Iraq, and possibly Jordan would welcome the idea of having stronger economies, and would likely be at least somewhat willing to take the short-term rise in violence for the long-term rise in economic activity.

Organizations built around a more aggressive model of confronting Islam would likely take two forms, and might take a third. One form would essentially be vigilantes, working domestically to uncover jihadis and Islamists, with the intent being anything from pressuring authorities to arrest and charge such people, to trying to drive them out. This type of group would form if people felt endangered by the Muslims in their community, and didn't feel that the police could or would protect them. Something like this,
but with a different objective.

The second type would be private armies, operating abroad to kill or capture enemies where the government could not or would not. This could be something like the Abraham Lincoln Brigade of the Spanish Civil War, with people volunteering in nations at risk, or it could be something more like WWII's USFIP. Such an organization might adopt the structural organization of guerilla (and terrorist) groups: small cells operating independently. It might instead operate more like a brigade, operating as a large unit with detachable parts. Much about its structure would depend on whether it were operating under legal sanction (such as by obtaining a letter of reprisal) or were extra-legal.

The really scary form, that hopefully will not come about, is the organization that adopts the terrorists structure and methods to "terrorize the terrorists". There is some evidence that such a group might be forming in Britain.

I think that seeing organizations like the hospitallers, but non-religious, is a good thing, as it would lead in the long term to a more tolerant society, as well as making business and social changes safer in the interim (though likely with a lot of fighting, but now on both sides instead of only the enemies' side). If vigilante organizations form, it will be because of a lack of confidence in the government's ability or willingness to enforce the law, which would be a bad thing (though the groups themselves would not necessarily be a bad thing). If private armies form to operate in areas where the government can't or won't go, that would be a good thing, as long as they didn't turn into terrorists themselves, in that it would remove sanctuaries the enemy currently enjoys.

The question I have is, which of these groups are already forming, somewhere out of sight?

Posted by jeff at 5:42 PM | TrackBack

Political Scorecard

A recent comment annoyed me, and being annoyed, I decided to list out my political positions. Being a geek, I decided to score them. (OK, the comment was recent at the time, but then I forgot to publish the entry. It's still relevant, so here it is.) So here's how this works: I list an issue, my position on that issue, the importance of that issue to me, the positions of various political parties, how well their positions agree with mine, and how they score on that issue.

My importance scale is:
0 — This issue is of no consequence whatsoever in policy terms. Not only will I put out any effort (other than occasional rhetoric) to get my positions passed, but if their antithesis passes instead, I won't much care.
1 — I care about this, at least theoretically, and it would effect my voting and political donation patterns.
2 — I care about this quite a bit, and it would strongly effect my voting and political donation patterns. Alternately, this would be a 3 if the issue were to seriously come up as a policy differentiator, but in reality it's only going to come up around the margins, rather than challenging the core of the issue.
3 — I care about this so deeply that it could be the sole determinant of my vote. In fact, if moves far enough away on enough of these issues, it would be sufficient to push me to emigration or rebellion.

A party's agreement with me is scored as follows:
0 — Their policy position is essentially or actually antithetical to mine. Discussion is meaningless because no compromise position can be reached. A pox on them!
1 — Their policy position is strongly opposed to mine, but there are points for discussion, which could lead to them seeing things my way.
2 — Their policy position matches mine closely enough that I am not unduly concerned about them getting their way.
3 — They agree with me completely, showing their great wisdom and deep understanding of the issue.

A party's score, then, is the product of the importance of the issue to me and their agreement with me on the issue. I couldn't figure out how to put this into a readable table, so I settled instead for a series of tables.

The War

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeFight aggressively at home and abroad: no quarter given, because none will be given us. At the same time, let's not try to kill all 1.2 billion Muslims or do to Islam what Rome did to Carthage. The point is to remove the threats of jihadi terrorism and of nuclear weapons in the hands of unstable regimes. We need to dramatically expand the military, perhaps even back to Cold War levels, because we could be fighting Iran, Syria and potentially Saudi Arabia, and at the same time we will need to maintain the ability to defend Taiwan should China decide to attack.3
Democrats"The war is largely a matter of police work and intelligence in the US, combined with cooperation with our allies abroad. By understanding the root causes of terrorism, such as poverty and corruption and inefficient social services, we can work to end terrorism. We should vigorously pursue the terrorists in Afghanistan. We should not attack sovereign countries without the agreement of the UN and involvement by pretty much all of our allies. In particular, we should work with our allies to diplomatically resolve any crises arising from a rogue nation developing nuclear weapons.

If a Democrat is President, though, we'll act just like the Republicans are now. (Witness our bellicosity in 1998.)"

13
RepublicansWe should vigorously pursue the war at home and abroad, and should ensure that Americans are not attacked in the US ever again. If that means attacking nations that support terrorism, or are in the process of developing nuclear weapons and are a potential threat to the US, then we should destroy those nations with our allies if possible, and without them if necessary. All Muslims are not the enemy; Islam is not the enemy; the jihadis are the enemy. We believe that the key to eliminating terrorism is eliminating the failure of the Arab/Muslim nations that has caused frustration to boil over into terrorism.26
LibertariansWe should treat the "war" as a police issue at home, and should not fight abroad.00

The Economy

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeThe economy is largely the domain of private individuals. Government's role should be limited to the actions of the Federal Reserve in setting money supply and interest rates. By and large, it's a good idea for the government to not interfere, but it is also necessary to recognize that moderate interference in the economy (such as spending more in a recession or using tax policy to encourage some actions and discourage others) can have a salutary effect on increasing prosperity and, in particular, on decreasing immiseration.2
DemocratsThe economy is almost entirely the responsibility of the Federal government, and should be regulated to produce fairness and eliminate poverty, even if that means confiscatory taxation, massive wealth transfer and/or forcing businesses to adopt socially progressive policies.12
RepublicansThe economy is almost entirely the responsibility of the Federal government in cooperation with corporations and small businesses, and should be regulated to reduce income inequalities and poverty, even if that means high taxation, massive wealth transfer and/or forcing businesses to adopt policies convenient to Republicans politically.12
LibertariansThe economy is entirely the domain of private individuals. Period. Well, OK, the government can mint money, but that's it.24

Drugs

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeThe government has no business regulating what products or substances people can purchase or use. In attempts to regulate drugs, for example, the Federal government generally strays into tyranny, such as no-knock warrants and long prison terms and regulation of funds transfers abroad.1
DemocratsDrugs should be legal. But to the extent that they're not, it's important that the issue be manipulated for Democratic political advantage, for example by painting Rush Limbaugh as a hypocritical drug addicted fascist.22
RepublicansDrugs should be illegal. Anything we have to do to keep them that way is just fine.00
LibertariansThe government has no business regulating what products or substances people can purchase or use. In attempts to regulate drugs, for example, the Federal government generally strays into tyranny, such as no-knock warrants and long prison terms and regulation of funds transfers abroad. Besides, we really, really want to light up, man.33

Taxation

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeObviously, taxes are necessary to run the government: it's not and should not be a business. Income taxes are particularly a problem, for two reasons: progressive taxation punishes economic advancement, leading to less of it; and the side-requirements to enforce income taxation, such as looking through your bank accounts without a warrant and preventing large money transfers abroad, lead the government to behave tyranically. We would be better off with a flat tax, and even better off with a consumption tax (in either case, with a significant up-front exemption to protect the truly impoverished).3
DemocratsTaxes are good. Income taxes are especially good, and the more progressive they are the better. The more taxation the better, because the government can then efficiently make decisions about who should have what amount of money, ensuring fairness by reducing the incomes of high earners to raise the incomes of low earners. Besides, we have a lot of special interests to buy off.00
RepublicansTaxes are good, but they need to be lower than they are now. In fact, it might even be wise to look at things like a flat tax or a consumption task. But don't look too closely, because we have a lot of special interests to buy off.13
LibertariansTaxes are evil. If we can't have an anarchy, the government should be restricted to funding itself through user fees and import duties.26

Health Care

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeIt's none of the government's business. Providing the indigent with free health care, and the poor with subsidized health care, is a good idea for policy reasons, but other than that the government should stay out of it. Giving a tax credit to everyone for health care is OK, but giving a tax credit just to businesses leads to all kinds of problems.1
DemocratsNationalized health care is best. If we can't have that, we'll settle for excessive regulation.00
RepublicansGiving tax credits to businesses is best. And massive, massive wealth transfers is also good, because it buys votes.00
LibertariansIt's none of the government's business.33

Energy Policy

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeWe shouldn't have one. It's not the government's job to decide what forms of energy to use, or how to get them: let the market handle that.1
DemocratsIt's the government's job to specify what energy sources we use, who can use them, how much, what they will cost and so on.00
RepublicansI suppose an energy policy would be a good idea. Absent that, why don't we just drill everywhere for oil and call it an energy policy.11
LibertariansWe shouldn't have one.33

The Environment

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeDon't soil your nest. The government should get involved only in so far as it is necessary to prevent you from soiling my nest.2
DemocratsIt's the government's job to specify how everything will be done that might effect the environment. Including breathing and the allowed percentage of methane in cow farts.00
RepublicansA clean environment is good. But not at the expense of prosperity.24
LibertariansWhy is the government at all involved in this, again?24

Immigration

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeLegal immigration should be easy. Illegal immigration should be hard.2
DemocratsIllegal immigration should be easy. Legal immigration should be heavily bureaucratic and time-consuming.24
RepublicansLegal immigration should be hard. Illegal immigration should be hard, but we're really not going to put any effort into it.24
LibertariansImmigration should be pretty much completely uncontrolled.12

Freedom of and From Religion

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeBoth.3
DemocratsFrom, certainly.26
RepublicansOf, certainly.26
LibertariansBoth.39

Freedom of Expression

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeYes.3
DemocratsMostly.26
RepublicansMostly.26
LibertariansYes.39

Freedom of Peacable Assembly and of Association

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeYes3
DemocratsYes, for individuals. No, for groups or businesses; the government has to regulate membership and customer practices to protect minorities.26
RepublicansYes39
LibertariansYes39

Right to Keep and Bear Arms

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeYes. Except for area weapons (nuclear, chemical, biological, perhaps FAEs or cluster bombs).3
DemocratsNot so much, no.00
RepublicansPersonal arms, yes, but not crew-served weapons or vessels or aircraft or armored vehicles with weapons.26
LibertariansYes.39

Freedom From Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeYes3
DemocratsYes, if the Republicans are in office.13
RepublicansYes, if the Democrats are in office.13
LibertariansYes39

Eminent Domain

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeThe government has no business taking private property. For practical reasons, like the ability to have roads, there will from time to time need to be exceptions, but these should meet stringent tests of need and be accompanied by excessive compensation, because you're not just taking someone's property, you're forcing them to change their lives in the process.3
DemocratsNot so much, no.00
RepublicansMostly.26
LibertariansEminent domain is an abomination. Better to have no roads at all.26

Law Enforcement

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeIt's important to have a small number of well-defined laws, and enforce them vigorously (particularly criminal law). The rights of defendants must be protected completely, while also ensuring that justice is served, rather than technicalities (like whether two pages are stapled or paper-clipped together).3
DemocratsThe law should more or less be enforced, particularly those laws that disproportionately target Republicans.13
RepublicansThe law should more or less be enforced, particularly criminal and drug laws. White collar crimes, not so much. Defendants currently get way too many protections, though.13
LibertariansWhat very few laws should exist should be vigorously enforced, preferably by private citizens.39

Torture

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeWe should not torture people. However, harsh, even humiliating, treatment of captured enemies is not the same thing as torture.2
DemocratsWe should not torture people. "Torture" includes anything from playing loud music or making people cold on up. Unless Democrats are in office.12
RepublicansWe should not torture people. "Torture" and "people" are up for definitional debate. Unless Republicans are in office.24
LibertariansWe should not torture people.36

Federalism

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeI'm for it.3
DemocratsWe're against it.00
RepublicansWe're against it.00
LibertariansWe're for it.39

Gay Marriage

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeFine, if you want to.0
DemocratsYes, and we'll do anything we can to make it stick.20
RepublicansWe're against it.00
LibertariansFine, if you want to.30

Abortion

PersonPositionImportanceAgreementScore
MeBad idea. Getting the government involved would be a worse idea.0
DemocratsAbortion is good for womyn and children. No, really!00
RepublicansWe're against it. You should be against it, too. By law.00
LibertariansWhy is this a political issue again?30

Now, I picked those issues because they are important to me, or because they were on my mind. If you want me to address other issues, or if you disagree with my characterizations (not my ratings: that's not your place), let me know, and I'll be glad to update. This is kind of fun, actually.

OK, and here are the results:

Of a maximum possible 123 points, given my importance ranking, the Democrats get 37 (about 30%), the Republicans 63 (about 51%), and the Libertarians get 100 (about 81%). So, if I agree so much with the Libertarians, why am I ruling them out? Well, as long as we're at war, the government is not our most dangerous enemy, so the Libertarians are out of the running, because they flunk on the war and do best on issues that, if we lose the war, they will have little chance of implementing anyway. (If the Libertarians would change their position on the war, I'd start voting for them again: I don't vote "strategically", which is little more than accepting second best in voting.)

This is pretty skewed by the choice of issues, because I put the basic freedom issues in there, where the Libertarians pretty much clean up from my point of view. A longer list of issues would moderate the list somewhat, and change the percentages. In particular, most of the issues where I would disagree with the Libertarians aren't in this list; on the other hand, they aren't there because they aren't a big deal to me (or because I didn't think about them), rather than because I'm trying to inflate Libertarian numbers. For an example of how this changes nothing, see the last two issues (abortion and gay marriage).

Also, some of the issues are really big, like the economy, while others (like energy policy) are really small. Some way of chunking up the issues better would probably be a good idea. But then I'd have to think, and it's late already.

Posted by jeff at 7:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

How do you Achieve Something?

When I read posts like this (also found here, with more intelligent comments), I wonder how people who could write such a thing ever achieve any goal they set. In my world, you set a goal, along with a cost you are willing to pay to attain that goal; formulate a strategy to attain the goal, complete with some set of observable metrics that tell you whether you are progressing towards attaining the goal; design a plan to implement the strategy, complete with alternatives and options that would be invoked based on the situation as it changes; and set about performing the tasks called for by the plan. Mike Reynolds' ('sideways') world does not appear to work that way, and some of the comments on the Donklephant post indicate that there are some whose worlds are even more divergent from mine.

Let's take the specific incident that Reynolds writes about: Pakistan's recent agreement to withdraw from tribal areas. Reynolds, like Roggio (the link in the last sentence), has a very pessimistic take on this, most prominently indicated by his title: "Did We Just Lose?" (I am cautiously hopeful.) Another indicator of deep pessimism is this:

Our goal was to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven in the near east. If this deal is what it looks like, we appear to have failed.

If this deal is what it looks like, we aren’t even back at square one: we’re wishing we could get back to square one.

In fact, if this deal is what it looks like, we just lost a war.


Um, OK, let's take it from the top. The President set the national goal for the war on September 20, 2001:
Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. ... [T]he only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows.

In the same speech, the President began to lay out the strategy he would follow:
We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war -- to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.

This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

[snip]

We will come together to improve air safety, to dramatically expand the number of air marshals on domestic flights, and take new measures to prevent hijacking. We will come together to promote stability and keep our airlines flying, with direct assistance during this emergency.

We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to track down terror here at home. We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans of terrorists before they act, and find them before they strike.

We will come together to take active steps that strengthen America's economy, and put our people back to work.


The strategy was made very explicit in 2002. Obviously, two parts of the plan were to eliminate the enemy's safe haven in Afghanistan, and to eliminate a major sponsor of terrorism in Iraq. Both of these have been done.

So if Reynolds' and Roggio's most profound fears are true, and the enemy acquires a new sanctuary, a more difficult sanctuary for us to attack than was Afghanistan (and now would be the time to remind everyone that most people who knew anything about Afghanistan thought that the enemy's Afghan sanctuary was more or less immune to serious attack), does this mean that we have lost the war, that our goals are unattainable? Hardly. Indeed, such an outcome, while a setback, would not even mean that our strategy was obviously wrong. It might merely indicate that Michael Ledeen's constant refrain, "faster please," should get more attention than it has heretofore. It might indicate that our strategy needs to be compressed in time, or that we need to modify or even completely rethink our strategy. It does not mean that we have lost.

But there is another side to this as well. What if this development opens the way for US troops to go into Waziristan and fight the enemy directly, with the enemy having no border as easy to hide behind as they do between Afghanistan and Pakistan? What if this development means that the tribal leaders are going to stop their cross-border raids and kick out the terrorists? What if this development is a way for Musharraf, knowing the agreement will be violated, to develop a domestic political consensus to commit real force to the area for the first time? Would this then even be a setback, in retrospect?

Unfortunately, we have developed a serious analysis problem. Our communications are so fast that we get almost instant news of what happens in even the remotest corners of the globe. But we only get that news, generally, if it is in the interest of mainstream journalists to provide it, and when they do, they often get the whole point so completely wrong that the information that is communicated is more false than true. This leads to bad, but rapid, analysis; to incorrect, but rapid, responses. We need to learn to sit back and let events unfold without feeling we have to respond immediately to each and every one. And we need to think through all the possible consequences, not just the most facile rationales or the most immediately horrifying or gratifying possibilities. First reports from the field, goes the military dictum, are generally wrong. We need to remember that.

But more importantly even than that, we need to remember that some goals are important to achieve. We need to remember that goals often have costs that need to be paid, and in this case, while the ashes were still settling over Manhattan, we put a very high price indeed on this particular goal. The world situation has not so changed as to make the goal unreasonable, or unnecessary to achieve. So we must attain our goal.

And we must remember that strategies sometimes are not quite right, but that it is better to do something that makes incremental gains than to do nothing, or worse still to pretend to be doing something while really just hoping the problem goes away. Worst of all is to pretend to be doing something useful while actually doing something guaranteed to make it harder, even impossible, to obtain our goals. If our strategies aren't quite right, we need to adjust them. We do not need to scrap them. If going to the store to get something turns out to be a bad idea, because that store doesn't carry that particular item, it doesn't mean you go to the park instead; it means you find the store that has the item you need.

Further we must remember that any plan we make will be flawed, and even if nearly perfect, will require many changes of direction as contingencies change the situation we are responding to. Worse, we could have to rethink the plan if it is not working. You don't throw up your hands if the store is sold out of the item you want; you get an alternate brand, or you go elsewhere, or you wait for the store to restock. Finally, the enemy gets a say in the situation, too. Imagine trying to get milk from the store while being shot at, and you are closer to the problem the military has.

It's possible, of course, to just throw up your hands at the slightest impediment and throw a screaming fit. Most two year olds do it. I've know forty year olds to do it. But those are people who don't get what they want, and who alienate everyone around them along the way. This war is important; this goal must be achieved, if we are to have a hope of leaving a peaceful, free, and prosperous life. And for that reason, we must not throw up our hands at every setback, must not throw a fit when things are imperfect (I'm picturing Andrew Sullivan right now). Instead, we must get the job done, and where we are making mistakes, we must fix them.

Reynolds' approach, though, to declare defeat when something happens that might be bad, or might not, is hardly a way to set about that process. At least, not if we care to win.

Posted by jeff at 7:20 AM | TrackBack

September 11, 2006

23:30

Before going to sleep, President Bush writes in his diary, “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today. ... We think it’s Osama bin Laden.” [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]

Posted by jeff at 11:30 PM | TrackBack

22:49

It is reported that Attorney General Ashcroft has told members of Congress that there were three to five hijackers on each plane armed only with knives. [CNN, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 10:49 PM | TrackBack

21:00

President Bush meets with his full National Security Council in the PEOC beneath the White House for about 30 minutes. He then meets with a smaller group of key advisers. Bush and his advisers have already decided bin Laden is behind the attacks. CIA Director Tenet says that al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan are essentially one and the same. Bush says, “Tell the Taliban We’re finished with them.” [Washington Post, 1/27/2002] He goes on to say, “I want you all to understand that we are at war and we will stay at war until this is done. Nothing else matters. Everything is available for the pursuit of this war. Any barriers in your way, they’re gone. Any money you need, you have it. This is our only agenda.” When Rumsfeld points out that international law only allows force to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush yells, “No. I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” [Clarke, 2004, pp. 23-24]

Posted by jeff at 9:00 PM | TrackBack

20:30

President Bush addresses the nation on live television. [CNN, 9/12/2001] In what will later be called the Bush Doctrine, he states, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]

Posted by jeff at 8:30 PM | TrackBack

19:00

Secretary of State Powell returns to Washington from Lima, Peru. He is finally able to speak to President Bush for the first time since the 9/11 attacks began when they both arrive at the White House at about the same time. Powell later says of his flight, “And the worst part of it, is that because of the communications problems that existed during that day, I couldn’t talk to anybody in Washington.” [ABC News, 9/11/2002] The Daily Telegraph later theorizes, “Why so long? In the weeks before September 11, Washington was full of rumors that Powell was out of favor and had been quietly relegated to the sidelines...” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001]

Posted by jeff at 7:00 PM | TrackBack

18:54

President Bush arrives at the White House, after exiting Air Force One at 6:42 p.m. and flying across Washington in a helicopter. [ABC News, 9/11/2002; Salon, 9/12/2001; Washington Times, 10/8/2002; CNN, 9/12/2001; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Associated Press, 8/19/2002]

Posted by jeff at 6:54 PM | TrackBack

18:42

As Air Force One is approaching Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, with the president on board, the FAA reports an aircraft racing towards it. Fighters quickly intercept the aircraft, which turns out to be a Lear business jet, “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” [Filson, 2004, pp. 88]

Posted by jeff at 6:42 PM | TrackBack

17:20

Building 7 of the WTC complex, a 47-story tower, collapses. No one is killed. [MSNBC, 9/22/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; Washington Post, 9/12/2001; Associated Press, 8/19/2002] Many questions will arise over the cause of this collapse in the coming weeks and months. Building 7, which was not hit by an airplane, is the first modern, steel-reinforced high-rise to collapse because of fire. [Chicago Tribune, 11/29/2001; Stanford Report, 12/5/2001; New York Times, 3/2/2002] Some 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. [Chicago Tribune, 11/29/2001; New York Times, 3/2/2002; New York Observer, 3/25/2002; Federal Emergency Management Agency, 5/1/2002] However, the cause of the collapse is uncertain. A 2002 government report concludes: “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] 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]

Posted by jeff at 5:20 PM | TrackBack

16:33

President Bush leaves Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for Washington. [MSNBC, 9/22/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Washington Times, 10/8/2002]

Posted by jeff at 4:33 PM | TrackBack

16:30

The area around WTC Building 7 is evacuated at this time. [Kansas City Star, 3/28/2004] New York fire department chief officers, who have surveyed the building, have determined it is in danger of collapsing. Several senior firefighters have described this decision-making process. According to fire chief Daniel Nigro, “The biggest decision we had to make was to clear the area and create a collapse zone around the severely damaged [WTC Building 7]. 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.” [Fire Engineering, 9/2002]

Posted by jeff at 4:30 PM | TrackBack

16:15

After President Bush leaves his video conference, other top leaders continue to discuss what steps to take. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke asks what to do about al-Qaeda, assuming they are behind the attacks. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage states, “Look, we told the Taliban in no uncertain terms that if this happened, it’s their ass. No difference between the Taliban and al-Qaeda now. They both go down.” Regarding Pakistan, the Taliban’s patrons, Armitage says, “Tell them to get out of the way. We have to eliminate the sanctuary.” [Clarke, 2004, pp. 22-23]

Posted by jeff at 4:15 PM | TrackBack

16:10

World Trade Center Building 7 is reported to be on fire. [CNN, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 4:10 PM | TrackBack

16:00

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

President Bush has just told his advisers that he is returning to Washington as soon as the plane is fueled— “No discussion.” [Clarke, 2004, pp. 21-22] Yet, Bush adviser Karl Rove later says that at this time President Bush is hesitant to return to Washington because, “they’ve accounted for all four [hijacked] planes, but they’ve got another, I think, three or four or five planes still outstanding.” [New Yorker, 9/25/2001] However, the FAA points out there are no such reports and that Bush had been quickly informed when domestic US skies were completely cleared at 12:16 p.m. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/2004]

Posted by jeff at 4:00 PM | TrackBack

15:55

White House adviser Karen Hughes briefly speaks to the media and says President Bush is at an undisclosed location, taking part in a video conference. This is possibly the only in-person media appearance by any Bush administration official since the attacks and until a news conference by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld at 6:40 p.m. [CNN, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 3:55 PM | TrackBack

15:00

President Bush begins a video conference call from a bunker beneath Offutt Air Force Base. He and Chief of Staff Andrew Card visually communicate directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, and others. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Washington Times, 10/8/2002; ABC News, 9/11/2002] According to Clarke, Bush begins the meeting by saying, “I’m coming back to the White House as soon as the plane is fueled. No discussion.” Clarke leads a quick review of what has already occurred, and issues that need to be quickly addressed. CIA Director Tenet states that al-Qaeda is clearly behind the 9/11 attacks. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld states that about 120 fighters are now above US cities. [Clarke, 2004, pp. 21-22] The meeting ends at 4:15 P.M. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Washington Times, 10/8/2002]

Posted by jeff at 3:00 PM | TrackBack

14:50

Having left Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana at around 1:30 p.m. (see (1:30 p.m.)), Air Force One lands at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. President Bush stays on the plane for about ten minutes before entering the United States Strategic Command bunker at 3:06 p.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Salon, 9/12/2001] Offutt Air Force Base appears to be the headquarters of the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian that was “in full swing” at the time the attacks began (see 8:30 a.m.). While there, the president spends time in the underground Command Center from where Global Guardian was earlier being directed, being brought up to date on the attacks and their aftermath. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/2002; Washington Times, 10/8/2002]

Posted by jeff at 2:50 PM | TrackBack

14:40

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is provided information from the CIA indicating that three of the hijackers were suspected al-Qaeda operatives. Notes composed by aides who were with Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center on 9/11 are leaked nearly a year later. According to the notes, information shows, “One guy is [an] associate of [USS] Cole bomber.” (This is a probable reference to Khalid Almihdhar or Nawaf Alhazmi.) Rumsfeld has also been given information indicating an al-Qaeda operative had advanced details of the 9/11 attack. According to the 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]. Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” [CBS News, 9/4/2002; Bamford, 2004, pp. 285]

Posted by jeff at 2:40 PM | TrackBack

14:00

It is later revealed that only hours after the 9/11 attacks, a US “shadow government” is formed. Initially deployed “on the fly,” executive directives on government continuity in the face of a crisis dating back to the Reagan administration are put into effect. Approximately 100 midlevel officials are moved to underground bunkers and stay there 24 hours a day. Officials rotate in and out on a 90-day cycle (see September 11, 2001). [Washington Post, 3/1/2002; CBS News, 3/2/2002]

F-15 fighter pilot Major Daniel Nash returns to base around this time, after chasing Flight 175 and patrolling the skies over New York City. He says that when he gets out of the plane, “he [is] told that a military F-16 had shot down a fourth airliner in Pennsylvania.” [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/2002; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002]

Posted by jeff at 2:00 PM | TrackBack

13:44

The Pentagon announces that aircraft carriers and guided missile destroyers have been dispatched toward New York and Washington. Around the country, more fighters, airborne radar (AWACs), and refueling planes are scrambling. NORAD is on its highest alert. [MSNBC, 9/22/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 1:44 PM | TrackBack

13:30

President Bush leaves Louisiana on Air Force One, and flies to Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base, where the US Strategic Command is located. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Salon, 9/12/2001; MSNBC, 9/22/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001] He travels with Chief of Staff Andrew Card, senior adviser Karl Rove, communications staffers Dan Bartlett, Ari Fleischer, and Gordon Johndroe, and a small group of reporters. [Salon, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 1:30 PM | TrackBack

13:27

A state of emergency is declared in Washington. [CNN, 9/12/2001; New York Times, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 1:27 PM | TrackBack

13:04

President Bush announces that the US military has been put on high alert worldwide. [CNN, 9/12/2001; Associated Press, 8/19/2002] Apparently, this occurs in a televised speech that was actually recorded half an hour earlier.

Posted by jeff at 1:04 PM | TrackBack

13:02

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld later claims that he says to President Bush on the phone, “This is not a criminal action. This is war.” [Washington Times, 2/23/2004]

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani orders an evacuation of Manhattan south of Canal Street. [MSNBC, 9/22/2001; Associated Press, 8/19/2002]

Posted by jeff at 1:02 PM | TrackBack

12:58

President Bush spends most of his time at Barksdale Air Force Base arguing on the phone with Vice President Cheney and others over where he should go next. “A few minutes before 1 p.m.,” he agrees to fly to Nebraska. As earlier, there are rumors of a “credible terrorist threat” to Air Force One that are said to prevent his return to Washington. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001]

Posted by jeff at 12:58 PM | TrackBack

12:36

President Bush records a short speech that is played by the networks at 1:04 p.m. [Salon, 9/12/2001; Washington Times, 10/8/2002] In a speech at the Louisiana base, President Bush announces that security measures are being taken and says: “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.” [MSNBC, 9/22/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; New York Times, 9/12/2001] He also states, “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.” [ABC News, 9/11/2002]

Posted by jeff at 12:36 PM | TrackBack

12:16

US airspace is clear of aircraft except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights are still landing in Canada. [USA Today, 8/12/2002] At 12:30 p.m., the FAA reports about 50 (non-civilian) planes still flying in US airspace, but none are reporting problems. [CNN, 9/12/2001; New York Times, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 12:16 PM | TrackBack

12:15

It is announced that US borders with Canada and Mexico are on the highest state of alert, but no decision has been made about closing borders. [CNN, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 12:15 PM | TrackBack

12:05

CIA Director Tenet tells Defense Secretary Rumsfeld about an intercepted phone call from earlier in the day at 9:53 a.m. An al-Qaeda operative talked of a fourth target just before Flight 93 crashed. Rumsfeld wrote notes to himself at the time. According to CBS, “Rumsfeld felt it was ‘vague,’ that it ‘might not mean something,’ and that there was ‘no good basis for hanging hat.’ In other words, the evidence was not clear-cut enough to justify military action against bin Laden.” [CBS News, 9/4/2002] More evidence suggesting an al-Qaeda link comes several hours later.

Posted by jeff at 12:05 PM | TrackBack

12:00

President Bush arrives at the Barksdale Air Force Base headquarters in a Humvee escorted by armed outriders. Reporters and others are not allowed to say where they are. Bush remains in this location for approximately one hour, recording a brief message and talking on the phone. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001]

Senator Orrin Hatch (R), 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.” [Salon, 9/12/2001]

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.). Building 7 eventually collapses at around 5:20 in the afternoon (see (5:20 p.m.)).

Posted by jeff at 12:00 PM | TrackBack

11:45

Air Force One lands at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. “The official reason for landing at Barksdale was that President Bush felt it necessary to make a further statement, but it isn’t unreasonable to assume that—as there was no agreement as to what the president’s movements should be—it was felt he might as well be on the ground as in the air.” [Salon, 9/12/2001; New York Times, 9/16/2001; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; CBS News, 9/11/2002]

Posted by jeff at 11:45 AM | TrackBack

11:30

Within two hours of the attacks the 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron (RADES) based at Hill Air Force Base, Utah begins reviewing the radar trails of the four earlier hijacked aircraft, after Pentagon officials have turned to them to find out exactly what happened. Using their own software, the unit has the unique ability to create a “track of interest analysis,” singling out and zooming in on each of the planes. The unit has captured most of the flights of the four planes, but lost sight of Flight 93 at some point. [Airman, 12/2003] The FBI also contacts RADES within hours of the attacks, requesting detailed information on the hijacked planes. [Hilltop Times, 4/15/2004] NORAD official Colonel Alan Scott later will tell the 9/11 Commission that much of his radar data for the “primary targets” on 9/11 was not seen that day. He will say, “It was reconstructed days later by the 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron, and other agencies like it who are professionals at going back and looking at radar tapes and then given that they are loaded with knowledge after the fact, they can go and find things that perhaps were not visible during the event itself.” [9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003] Data reconstructed by RADES will be used as a source several times in the account of the hijackings and military response to them in the 9/11 Commission’s final report. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 457-459]

General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Commander of NATO, says on television, “This is clearly a coordinated effort. It hasn’t been announced that it’s over. ... Only one group has this kind of ability and that is Osama bin Laden’s.” [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/2001]

Two congressmen, Dan Miller (R) and Adam Putnam (R), are on Air Force One. they’ve been receiving periodic updates on the crisis from President Bush’s adviser Karl Rove. At this time, they’re summoned forward to meet with the president. Bush points out the fighter escort, F-16s from a base in Texas, has now arrived. He says that a threat had been received from someone who knew the plane’s code name. However, there are doubts that any such threat ever occurred (see 10:32 a.m.). [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/2004]

Posted by jeff at 11:30 AM | TrackBack

11:15

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld speaks with President Bush, and tells him that the Department of Defense is working on refining the rules of engagement, so pilots will have a better understanding of the circumstances under which an aircraft can be shot down. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 465] He also briefs the president on the earlier decision to go to Defcon Three (see (10:10 a.m.)). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 554]

Russian President Vladimir Putin phones President Bush while he is aboard Air Force One. Putin is the first foreign leader to call Bush following the attacks. He earlier called the White House to speak with the president, but had to speak with Condoleezza Rice instead (see Between 10:32 and 11:45 a.m.). Putin tells Bush he recognizes that the US has put troops on alert, and makes it clear that he will stand down Russian troops. US forces were ordered to high alert some time between 10:10 and 10:46 a.m. (see (10:10 a.m.)) Bush later describes, “In the past ... had the President put the—raised the DEF CON levels of our troops, Russia would have responded accordingly. There would have been inevitable tension.” Bush therefore describes this phone call as “a moment where it clearly said to me, [President Putin] understands the Cold War is over.” [US President, 10/1/2001; US President, 11/19/2001; CNN, 9/10/2002] Putin also sends a telegram to Bush today, stating: “The series of barbaric terrorist acts, directed against innocent people, has evoked our anger and indignation. ... The whole international community must rally in the fight against terrorism.” [Russian Embassy, 9/17/2001]

Posted by jeff at 11:15 AM | TrackBack

11:08

A message sent from Korean Air Flight 85 is misinterpreted to indicate a possible hijacking. At 1:24 p.m., the pilots accidentally issue a hijacking alert as the plane nears Alaska on its way to Anchorage. Two fighters tail the plane, and notify it that it will be shot down unless it avoids populated areas. Strategic sites are evacuated across Alaska. The plane eventually lands safely in Whitehorse, Canada, at 2:54 p.m. [USA Today, 8/12/2002]

Posted by jeff at 11:08 AM | TrackBack

11:00

More skyscrapers and tourist attractions are evacuated, including Walt Disney World, Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Seattle’s Space Needle, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. [Times Union (Albany), 9/11/2001]

The FAA Command Center is told that all the flights over the United States are accounted for and pilots are complying with controllers. There are 923 planes still in the air over the US. Every commercial flight in US airspace—about a quarter of the planes still in the air—is within 40 miles of its destination. Others are still over the oceans, and many are heading toward Canada. [USA Today, 8/13/2002]

Robert Bonner, the head of Customs and Border Protection, later testifies, “We ran passenger manifests through the system used by Customs—two were hits on our watch list of August 2001.” (This is presumably a reference to hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, watch-listed on August 23, 2001.) “And by looking at the Arab names and their seat locations, ticket purchases and other passenger information, it didn’t take a lot to do a rudimentary link analysis. Customs officers were able to ID 19 probable hijackers within 45 minutes. I saw the sheet by 11 a.m. And that analysis did indeed correctly identify the terrorists.” [New York Observer, 2/11/2004] However, Bonner appears to be at least somewhat incorrect: for two days after the attacks (see September 13, 2001-September 14, 2001), the FBI believes there are only 18 hijackers, and the original list contains some erroneous Arab-sounding names on the flight manifests, such as Adnan Bukhari and Ameer Bukhari. [CNN, 9/13/2001] Some hijacker names, including Mohamed Atta’s, were identified on a reservations computer around 8:30 a.m. (see (Before 8:26 a.m.)), and Richard Clarke was told some of the names were al-Qaeda around 10:00 a.m. (see (9:59 a.m.))

Posted by jeff at 11:00 AM | TrackBack

10:55

Colonel Mark Tillman, pilot of Air Force One, is told there is a threat to President Bush’s plane. Tillman has an armed guard placed at his cockpit door while the Secret Service double-checks the identity of everyone on board. Air traffic controllers warn that a suspect airliner is dead ahead, according to Tillman: “Coming out of Sarasota there was one call that said there was an airliner off our nose that they did not have contact with.” Tillman takes evasive action, pulling his plane high above normal traffic. [CBS News, 9/11/2002] Reporters on board notice the rise in elevation. [Dallas Morning News, 8/28/2002; Salon, 9/12/2001] The report is apparently a false alarm.

No fighters escort President Bush’s Air Force One until around this time, but accounts conflict. At 10:32 a.m., Vice President Cheney said it would take until about 11:10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to get a fighter escort to Air Force One. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002] However, according to one account, around 10:00 a.m., Air Force One “is joined by an escort of F-16 fighters from a base near Jacksonville, Florida.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001] Another report states, “At 10:41 [am.] ... Air Force One headed toward Jacksonville to meet jets scrambled to give the presidential jet its own air cover.” [New York Times, 9/16/2001] But apparently, when Air Force One takes evasive action around 10:55 a.m., there is still no fighter escort. NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold later says, “We scrambled available airplanes from Tyndall [near Tallahassee and not near Jacksonville, Florida] and then from Ellington in Houston, Texas,” but he does not say when this occurs. [Code One Magazine, 1/2002 Sources: Larry Arnold] In yet another account, two F16s eventually arrive, piloted by Shane Brotherton and Randy Roberts, from Ellington, not from any Florida base. [CBS News, 9/11/2002] The St. Petersburg Times, after interviewing people on Air Force One, estimate the first fighters, from Texas, arrive between 11:00 and 11:20. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/2004] By 11:30 a.m., there are six fighters protecting Air Force One. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/2001] The BBC, however, reports that the Ellington, Texas, fighters are scrambled at 11:30 a.m., and quotes ABC reporter Ann Compton, inside Air Force One, saying fighters appear out the windows at 11:41 a.m. [BBC, 9/1/2002] Given that two of the seven bases said to have fighters on alert on 9/11 are in Florida (Homestead Air Station, 185 miles from Sarasota; and Tyndall Air Station, 235 miles from Sarasota), why a fighter escort does not reach Air Force One earlier remains unclear. Philip Melanson, author of a book on the Secret Service, comments, “I can’t imagine by what glitch the protection was not provided to Air Force One as soon as it took off. I would have thought there’d be something in place whereby one phone call from the head of the security would get the fighters in the air immediately.” [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/2004]

Posted by jeff at 10:55 AM | TrackBack

10:53

New York’s primary elections, already in progress, are postponed. [CNN, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 10:53 AM | TrackBack

10:45

Wallace Miller, the coroner of Somerset County, is one of the first people to arrive at the Flight 93 crash scene. However, he is surprised by the absence of human remains there. He later says, “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 he sees is a piece of spinal cord with five vertebrae attached. He will later 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.” [Age (Melbourne), 9/9/2002] Dave Fox, a former firefighter, also arrives early at the crash scene, but sees just three chunks of human tissue. He says, “You knew there were people there, but you couldn’t see them.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/11/2002] Yet, in the following weeks, hundreds of searchers are able to 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 are found in a secluded cabin, several hundred yards from the crash site. [Washington Post, 5/12/2002]

Posted by jeff at 10:45 AM | TrackBack

10:43

According to the 9/11 Commission, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld makes the decision to go to Defcon Three, the “highest alert for the nuclear arsenal in 30 years.” [ABC News, 9/11/2002] His decision is broadcast on the air threat conference call. Then, according to the Commission, “A minute later, Secretary Rumsfeld spoke to the Vice President, and he asked Rumsfeld to run the issue by the President. At 10:45 conferees were told to ‘hold off’ on Defcon 3, but a minute later the order was reinstated. Rumsfeld believed the matter was urgent and, having consulted DOD directives, concluded he had the authority to issue the order and would brief the President. Rumsfeld briefed the President on the decision at 11:15.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 326 and 554] According to other accounts, the US military is put on high alert about 35 minutes earlier than the 9/11 Commission states (see (10:10 a.m.)).

Posted by jeff at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

10:42

Two F-16 fighters take off from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, near Syracuse, NY. The fighters belong to the 174th Fighter Wing, a unit of the New York Air National Guard. A commander from Syracuse had called NORAD offering to help earlier in the morning (see (After 9:03 a.m.)). Three more fighters from the 174th FW will take off from Hancock Field at around 1.30 p.m., and a further two at 3:55 p.m. [Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/12/2001] The Hancock pilots are ordered to “Identify all aircraft ... Intercept them. Tell them to land. ‘Engage’ them if they [don’t].” [Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/25/2001] Also at some time this morning, following the attacks, 174th FW officials form a command center to monitor the situation across the US. [Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/11/2001; Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/12/2001] 100 of the 174th FW’s staff have spent the last month deployed to Saudi Arabia and are due back this afternoon. However, they are diverted to Canada and arrive back at the base later in the week (see Mid-August-September 11, 2001).

Two F-16s take off from Andrews Air Force Base lightly armed with nothing more than “hot” guns and non-explosive training rounds. Lead pilot Lieutenant Colonel Marc Sasseville flies one; the other pilot is only known by the codename Lucky. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/2002] These fighters had been at another base that morning, waiting to be armed with AIM-9 missiles, a process that takes about an hour. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002] Since they took off without the missiles, presumably they could have taken off unarmed much earlier. (The first call for them to scramble came not long after 9:00 a.m.). Two more F-16s, armed with AIM-9 missiles, take off twenty-seven minutes later, at 11:09 a.m. These are apparently piloted by Major Dan Caine and Captain Brandon Rasmussen. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] F-16s from Richmond, Virginia, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, arrive over Washington a short time later. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/2002] The Andrews fighters are apparently the only fighters in the US scrambled before 11:00 with official shootdown authorization, but the first Andrews fighters into the air have no missiles. It is unclear if the Andrews fighters relaunching a few minutes earlier had shootdown orders, but they had no weapons either. It appears the Andrews fighters launching at 11:09 a.m. are the first fighters in the US with both shootdown orders and missiles to use.

Around this time (roughly), the FAA tells the White House that it still cannot account for three planes in addition to the four that have crashed. It takes the FAA another hour and a half to account for these three aircraft. [Time, 9/14/2001] Vice President Cheney later says, “That’s what we started working off of, that list of six, and we could account for two of them in New York. The third one we didn’t know what had happened to. It turned out it had hit the Pentagon, but the first reports on the Pentagon attack suggested a helicopter and then later a private jet.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/17/2001] Amongst false rumors during the day are reports of a bomb aboard a United Airlines jet that just landed in Rockford, Illinois. “Another plane disappears from radar and might have crashed in Kentucky. The reports are so serious that [FAA head Jane] Garvey notifies the White House that there has been another crash. Only later does she learn the reports are erroneous.” [USA Today, 8/13/2002]

After taking off from Andrews Air Force Base, Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville and Captain Heather Penney Garcia are flying at low altitudes over Washington, DC. The three fighters launched from Langley Air Force Base at 9:30 a.m. are flying above them at around 20,000 feet. The Langley pilots are communicating with controllers at NEADS, while the Andrews pilots are communicating with civilian controllers at the FAA. However, both sets of pilots hear a message over a shared channel: “Attention all aircraft monitoring Andrews tower frequency. Andrews and Class Bravo airspace is closed. No general aviation aircraft are permitted to enter Class Bravo airspace. Any infractions will be shot down.” [Filson, 2004, pp. 82]

Posted by jeff at 10:42 AM | TrackBack

10:39

Vice President Cheney tries to bring Defense Secretary Rumsfeld up to date over the NMCC’s conference call, as Rumsfeld has just arrived there minutes before. Cheney explains that he has given authorization for hijacked planes to be shot down and that this has been told to the fighter pilots. Rumsfeld asks, “So we’ve got a couple of aircraft up there that have those instructions at the present time?” Cheney replies, “That is correct. And it’s my understanding they’ve already taken a couple of aircraft out.” Then Rumsfeld says, “We can’t confirm that. We’re told that one aircraft is down but we do not have a pilot report that they did it.” Cheney is incorrect that this command has reached the pilots. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Posted by jeff at 10:39 AM | TrackBack

10:38

The 9/11 Commission claims that the first fighters from Andrews Air Force Base scramble at this time and are flying patrol over Washington by 10:45 a.m. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] The three F-16s flying on a training mission in North Carolina, 200 miles away have finally been recalled to their home base at Andrews. As soon as lead pilot Major Billy Hutchison lands and checks in via radio, he is told to take off again immediately. His fighter apparently has no weapons whatsoever. The two other fighters only have training rounds for their guns, and very little fuel. “Hutchison was probably airborne shortly after the alert F-16s from Langley arrive over Washington, although [the] pilots admit their timeline-recall ‘is fuzzy.’” The officer who sent Hutchison off “told him to ‘do exactly what ATC asks you to do.’ Primarily, he was to go ID [identify] that unknown [aircraft] that everybody was so excited about [Flight 93]. He blasted off and flew a standard departure route, which took him over the Pentagon.” Flight 93 crashed half an hour before this; it is unclear how the Andrews base could still not know it crashed by this time. The pilots later say that, had all else failed, they would have rammed into Flight 93, had they reached it in time. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/2002]

Posted by jeff at 10:38 AM | TrackBack

10:36

A Secret Service agent again contacts Andrews Air Force Base and commands, “Get in the air now!” It’s not clear if this is treated as an official scramble order, or how quickly fighters respond to it. According to fighter pilot Lieutenant Colonel Marc Sasseville, almost simultaneously, a call from someone else in the White House declares the Washington area “a free-fire zone. That meant we were given authority to use force, if the situation required it, in defense of the nation’s capital, its property, and people.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/2002] Apparently, this second call is made to General David Wherley, flight commander of the Air National Guard at Andrews, who has made several phone calls this morning, seeking airborne authorization for his fighters. Wherley had contacted the Secret Service after hearing reports that it wanted fighters airborne. One Secret Service agent, using two telephones at once, relays instructions to Wherley from another Secret Service agent in the White House who has been given the instructions from Vice President Cheney. Wherley’s fighters are to protect the White House and shoot down any planes that threaten Washington. Wherley gives Lieutenant Colonel Marc Sasseville, lead pilot, the authority to decide whether to execute a shootdown. According to a different account, during this call Wherley is speaking with a woman in the Secret Service’s command and control center at the White House. Wherley says, “She was standing next to the vice president (Dick Cheney) and she said, ‘They want you to put a CAP up.’ Basically what they told me, and this is another one of those things that’s clear in my mind ... ‘We want you to intercept any airplane that attempts to fly closer than 20 miles around any airport around the Washington area. ... Attempt to turn them away, do whatever you can to turn them away and if they won’t turn away use whatever force is necessary ... to keep them from hitting a building downtown.’” President Bush and Vice President Cheney later claim they were not aware that any fighters had scrambled from Andrews at the request of the Secret Service. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; Filson, 2004, pp. 79] Sasseville and the pilot code-named Lucky will take off at 10:42 a.m. (see (10:42 a.m.))

Posted by jeff at 10:36 AM | TrackBack

10:35

Air Force One turns toward a new destination of Barksdale Air Force Base, near Shreveport, Louisiana, in response to a decision that Bush should not go directly to Washington. [CBS News, 9/11/2002; Washington Post, 1/27/2002]

Posted by jeff at 10:35 AM | TrackBack

10:32

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

Vice President Cheney reportedly calls President Bush and tells him of a threat to Air Force One and that it will take 40-90 minutes to get a protective fighter escort in place. Many doubt the existence of this threat. For instance, Representative Martin Meehan (D) says, “I don’t buy the notion Air Force One was a target. That’s just PR, that’s just spin.” [Washington Times, 10/8/2002] A later account calls the threat “completely untrue,” and says Cheney probably made the story up. A well-informed, anonymous Washington official says, “It did two things for [Cheney]. It reinforced his argument that the president should stay out of town, and it gave George W. an excellent reason for doing so.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001]

Posted by jeff at 10:32 AM | TrackBack

10:31

The FAA allows “military and law enforcement flights to resume (and some flights that the FAA can’t reveal that were already airborne).” All civilian, military, and law enforcement flights were ordered at 9:26 a.m. to land as soon as reasonably possible. [Time, 9/14/2001] Civilian flights remain banned until September 13. Note that the C-130 cargo plane that witnessed the Flight 77 crash (see 9.36 a.m.) and which came upon the Flight 93 crash site (see 10:08 a.m.) right after it had crashed was apparently not subject to the grounding order issued about an hour earlier.

According to the 9/11 Commission, NORAD Commander Major General Larry Arnold instructs his staff to broadcast the following message over a NORAD chat log: “10:31 Vice President [Cheney] has cleared us to intercept tracks of interest and shoot them down (see 10:14 a.m.) if they do not respond, per CONR CC [General Arnold].” NEADS first learns of the shootdown order from this message. However, NEADS does not pass the order to the fighter pilots in New York City and Washington. NEADS leaders later say they do not pass it on because they are unsure how the pilots should proceed with this guidance. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] The pilots flying over New York City claim they are never given a formal shootdown order that day.

Posted by jeff at 10:31 AM | TrackBack

10:30

Acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers enters the NMCC, though exactly when this happens remains unclear. According to his own statements, he was on Capitol Hill, in the offices of Senator Max Cleland (D) from the time just prior to the first WTC attack until around the time the Pentagon was hit (see (After 8:48 a.m.)). However, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims Myers takes part in a video conference for much of the morning. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who enters the NMCC around 10:30 a.m., claims that as he entered, Myers “had just returned from Capitol Hill.” [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004 Sources: Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke] In Myers’ testimony before the 9/11 Commission, he fails to mention where he was or what he was doing from the time of the Pentagon crash until about 10:30 a.m., except to say, “I went back to my duty station. And we—what we started doing at that time was to say, ‘OK, we’ve had these attacks. Obviously they’re hostile acts. Not sure at that point who perpetrated them.’” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] These discrepancies in Myers’ whereabouts remain unresolved.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, missing for at least 30 minutes, finally enters the NMCC, where the military’s response to the 9/11 attacks is being coordinated. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; CNN, 9/4/2002] Rumsfeld later claims that he only started to gain a situational awareness of what was happening after arriving at the NMCC. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld was in his office only 200 feet away from the NMCC until the Pentagon crash at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m.). His activities during this period are unclear. He went outside to the Flight 77 crash site and then stayed somewhere else in the Pentagon until his arrival at the NMCC. Brigadier General Montague Winfield later says, “For 30 minutes we couldn’t find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the [NMCC].” [ABC News, 9/11/2002] Winfield himself apparently only shows up at the NMCC around 10:30 a.m. as well.

Vice President Cheney and others in the White House bunker are given a report of another airplane heading toward Washington. Cheney’s Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, later states, “We learn that a plane is five miles out and has dropped below 500 feet and can’t be found; it’s missing.” Believing they only have a minute or two before the plane crashes into Washington, Cheney orders fighters to engage the plane, saying, “Take it out.” However, reports that this is another hijacking are mistaken. It is learned later that day that a Medevac helicopter five miles away was mistaken for a hijacked plane. [Newsweek, 12/31/2001; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Posted by jeff at 10:30 AM | TrackBack

10:28

The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses. It was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46, 102 minutes earlier. [MSNBC, 9/22/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; New York Times, 9/12/2001; Associated Press, 8/19/2002; Kim and Baum, 2002 pdf file] 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]

According to Captain Michael Currid, the sergeant at arms for the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, some time after the collapse of the North Tower, he sees four or five fire companies trying to extinguish fires in Building 7 of the WTC. Someone from the city’s Office of Emergency Management tells him that WTC 7 is in serious danger of collapse. Currid says, “The consensus was that it was basically a lost cause and we should not lose anyone else trying to save it.” Along with some others, he goes inside WTC 7 and yells up the stairwells to the fire fighters, “Drop everything and get out!” [Murphy, 2002, pp. 175-176] Although Currid doesn’t say exactly at what time this occurs, it is later reported that at 12:10 to 12:15 p.m. fire fighters find individuals inside the building and lead them out. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 6/2004, pp. L-18 pdf file] So presumably it is some time after this when they call the fire fighters to evacuate. However, contradicting this account, one report later claims, “Given the limited water supply and the first strategic priority, which was to search for survivors in the rubble, FDNY did not fight the fires [in WTC 7].” [Fire Engineering, 9/2002] And a 2002 government report says, “the firefighters made the decision fairly early on not to attempt to fight the fires, due in part to the damage to WTC 7 from the collapsing towers.” [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 5/1/2002, pp. 5-21] Building 7 eventually collapses late in the afternoon of 9/11 (see (5:20 p.m.)).

Posted by jeff at 10:28 AM | TrackBack

10:24

Jane Garvey, head of the FAA, orders the diversion of all international flights with US destinations. Most flights are diverted to Canada. [Time, 9/14/2001; MSNBC, 9/22/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; New York Times, 9/12/2001]

Posted by jeff at 10:24 AM | TrackBack

10:20

United Airlines headquarters receives confirmation that Flight 93 has crashed from the airport manager in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. [9/11 Commission, 1/27/2004] Cleveland flight control had confirmation of the crash at 10:08 a.m. (see 10:08 a.m.)

Patrick Madigan, the commander of the Somerset Barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police, arrives at the Flight 93 crash scene around 10:20 a.m. [Department of the Army and the Air Force National Guard Bureau, 2002 pdf file] He says that at some point later in the day (he does not specify a time), a “strange incident” occurs: “We were there at the site and an airplane started circling. It was a jetliner circling the crash site very low. No one knew what to expect because we knew that all of the planes were supposedly grounded.” (The FAA had, at about 9:45 a.m., ordered that all aircraft be instructed to land at the nearest airport (see (9:45 a.m.)).) After a few minutes of uncertainty, it is announced that the plane is carrying United Airlines executives, who are circling the site to view it before they land in nearby Johnstown. [Kashurba, 2002, pp. 63] Another low-flying jet plane was witnessed over the site earlier on, around the time Flight 93 went down (see (Before and After 10:06 a.m.)).

Posted by jeff at 10:20 AM | TrackBack

10:17

The National Military Command Center (NMCC) has been conducting an interagency teleconference to coordinate the nation’s response to the hijackings since 9:29 a.m. Yet the 9/11 Commission Reports that the FAA is unable to join the call until this time, apparently due to technical difficulties. NORAD asked three times before the last hijacked plane crashed for the FAA to provide a hijacking update to the teleconference. None were given, since no FAA representative was there. When an FAA representative finally joins in, that person has no proper experience, no access to decision makers, and no information known to senior FAA officials at the time. Furthermore, the highest-level Defense Department officials rely on this conference and do not talk directly with senior FAA officials. As a result, the leaders of NORAD and the FAA are effectively out of contact with each other during the entire crisis. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Posted by jeff at 10:17 AM | TrackBack

10:15

Fire and rescue workers at the Pentagon in response to the attack are evacuated to a nearby highway overpass, due to the warning of another hijacked aircraft flying towards Washington, DC, currently 20 minutes away. The warning is passed on by Special Agent Chris Combs, the FBI’s representative at the Pentagon crash site. Combs received this information from the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which is in direct contact with the FAA. According to a report put out by the government of Arlington County, Virginia, updates are announced of the approaching aircraft “until the last warning when [it] went below radar coverage in Pennsylvania, an estimated 4 minutes flying time from the Pentagon.” [US Department of Health and Human Services, 7/2002, pp. A30; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 315] Yet if the timing of this account is correct, the approaching plane could not have been Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania considerably earlier (see (10:03-10:10 a.m.)).

The front section of the Pentagon that had been hit by Flight 77 collapses. [CNN, 9/12/2001; New York Times, 9/12/2001] A few minutes prior to its collapse, firefighters saw warning signs and sounded a general evacuation tone. No firefighters were injured. [NFPA Journal, 11/1/2001]

According to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS calls Washington flight control at this time. Asked about Flight 93, flight control responds, “He’s down.” It is clarified that the plane crashed “somewhere up northeast of Camp David.” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

The FBI has issued a warning that a plane originating in San Diego might be hijacked and specifically targeting Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, where NORAD’s operations center is located. In response, the massive steel doors designed to protect the mountain from a nuclear blast are closed for the first time in its history. One report suggests, however, that these doors are closed in response to the US military being put on high alert (see (10:10 a.m.)). The NORAD operations center is also informed that a Ryder rental truck driven by “Arab-looking men” and packed with explosives is heading their way. Lt. Col. William Glover, chief of NORAD’s air defense operations, says, “It didn’t make sense, but those phone calls were happening.” [Toronto Star, 12/9/2001; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002; BBC, 9/1/2002]

Posted by jeff at 10:15 AM | TrackBack

10:14

According to the 9/11 Commission, beginning at this time, the White House repeatedly conveys to the NMCC that Vice President Cheney confirmed fighters were cleared to engage the inbound aircraft if they could verify that the aircraft was hijacked. However, the authorization fails to reach the pilots. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Posted by jeff at 10:14 AM | TrackBack

10:13

More prominent buildings in Washington begin evacuation. The United Nations building in New York City evacuates first; many federal buildings follow later. [CNN, 9/12/2001; New York Times, 9/12/2001] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke apparently began arranging these evacuations a short time before this. [Clarke, 2004, pp. 14-15]

The 9/11 Commission later concludes that if Flight 93 had not crashed, it would probably have reached Washington around this time. The commission notes that there are only three fighters over Washington at this time, all from Langley, Virginia. However, the pilots of these fighters were never briefed about why they were scrambled. As the lead pilot explained, “I reverted to the Russian threat... I’m thinking cruise missile threat from the sea. You know, you look down and see the Pentagon burning and I thought the b_stards snuck one by us. ... You couldn’t see any airplanes, and no one told us anything.” The pilots knew their mission was to identify and divert aircraft flying within a certain radius of Washington, but did not know that the threat came from hijacked planes. In addition, the commission notes that NEADS did not know where Flight 93 was when it crashed, and wonders if they would have determined its location and passed it on the pilots before the plane reached Washington. They conclude, “NORAD officials have maintained that they would have intercepted and shot down United 93. We are not so sure.” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Posted by jeff at 10:13 AM | TrackBack

10:10

All US military forces are ordered to Defcon Three (or Defcon Delta), “The highest alert for the nuclear arsenal in 30 years.” [ABC News, 9/11/2002; CNN, 9/4/2002; Clarke, 2004, pp. 15; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001] Rumsfeld claims that he makes the recommendation, but it is hard to see how he can do this, at least at this time. He later asserts that he discusses the issue with acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers in the NMCC first. However, they do not arrive at the PEOC until about 10:30 a.m. [9/11 Commission, 3/23/2004] At 10:15 a.m., the massive blast doors to US Strategic Command, headquarters for NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, are closed for the first time in response to the high alert. [BBC, 9/1/2002; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002] In another account, acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers gives the Defcon order by himself. President Bush later contradicts both accounts, asserting that he gives the order. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/2004] According to the 9/11 Commission’s final report, though, the decision to go to Defcon Three takes place about 35 minutes later (see (10:43 a.m.)).

The Secret Service, viewing projected path information about Flight 93, rather than actual radar returns, does not realize that Flight 93 has already crashed. Based on this erroneous information, a military aide tells Vice President Cheney and others in the White House bunker that the plane is 80 miles away from Washington. Cheney is asked for authority to engage the plane, and he quickly provides authorization. The aide returns a few minutes later and says the plane is 60 miles out. Cheney again gives authorization to engage. A few minutes later and presumably after the flight has crashed or been shot down, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten suggests Cheney contact President Bush to confirm the engage order. Bolten later tells the 9/11 Commission that he had not heard any prior discussion on the topic with Bush, and wanted to make sure Bush knew. Apparently, Cheney calls Bush and obtains confirmation. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] However, there is controversy over whether Bush approved a shootdown before this incident or whether Cheney gave himself the authority to make the decision on the spot. As Newsweek notes, it is moot point in one sense, since the decision was made on false data and there is no plane to shoot down. [Newsweek, 6/20/2004]

Posted by jeff at 10:10 AM | TrackBack

10:08

Armed agents deploy around the White House. [CNN, 9/12/2001]

Cleveland flight controller Stacey Taylor has asked a nearby C-130 pilot to look at Flight 93’s last position and see if they can find anything. Remarkably, this C-130 pilot is the same pilot who was asked by flight control to observe Flight 77 as it crashed in Washington earlier (see 9.36 a.m.). He tells Taylor that he saw smoke from the crash shortly after the hijacked plane went down. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; Guardian, 10/17/2001]

According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA Command Center reports to FAA headquarters at this time that Flight 93 has crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. “It hit the ground. That’s what they’re speculating, that’s speculation only.” The Command Center confirms that Flight 93 crashed at 10:17 a.m. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; Guardian, 10/17/2001]

According to the 9/11 Commission, the NEADS Mission Crew Commander is sorting out the orders given to the Langley fighter pilots. The Commander does not know that Flight 93 had been heading toward Washington or that it had crashed. He explicitly instructs the Langley fighters that they cannot shoot down aircraft—they have “negative clearance to shoot” aircraft over Washington. Authorization to shoot down hijacked civilian aircraft only reaches NEADS at 10:31 a.m. (see 10:31 a.m.) Even then, the authorization is not passed on to the pilots. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Posted by jeff at 10:08 AM | TrackBack

10:07

According to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS finally receives a call from Cleveland flight control about Flight 93. Cleveland passes on the plane’s last known latitude and longitude. NEADS is unable to locate it on radar because it has already crashed. By the commission’s account, this is NORAD’s first notification about the Flight 93 hijacking, even though Cleveland realized Flight 93 was hijacked at 9:32 a.m., 35 minutes earlier, and notified FAA headquarters at 9:34 a.m., 33 minutes earlier. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Despite the apparent lack of plane wreckage and human remains at the Flight 93 crash site (see (After 10:06 a.m.))(see 10:45 a.m.), a large amount of paper debris is found there, mostly intact. Faye Hahn, an EMT who responds to the initial call for help, finds “pieces of mail” everywhere. [McCall, 2002, pp. 31-32] Roger Bailey of the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department finds mail “scattered everywhere” around the site. He says, “I guess there were 5,000 pounds of mail on board.” [Kashurba, 2002, pp. 38] Some envelopes are burned, but others are undamaged. Flight 93 had reportedly been carrying a cargo of thousands of pounds of US mail. [Longman, 2002, pp. 213-214] Whether this is later examined as crime scene evidence is unclear: According to Bailey, over subsequent days, whenever a lot of this mail has been recovered, the post office will be called and a truck will come to take it away. Several of the first responders at the crash site also see an unscorched bible lying open on the ground, about 15 yards from the crash crater. [Kashurba, 2002, pp. 43, 110 and 129; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 6/13/2006] Local coroner Wallace Miller will later come across a second bible at the warehouse where the Flight 93 victims’ belongings are kept. [Washington Post, 5/12/2002] Other paper debris rains down on the nearby Indian Lake Marina (see (Before 10:06 a.m.)). According to witness Tom Spinelli, this is “mainly mail,” and also includes “bits of in-flight magazine.” [Mirror, 9/12/2002] Other paper items will be recovered from the crash site in the following days. These include a fragment of Ziad Jarrah’s passport and a business card linking al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to the 9/11 hijackers. [CNN, 8/1/2002; Washington Post, 9/25/2002]

Posted by jeff at 10:07 AM | TrackBack

10:06

In the tiny town of Boswell, about ten miles north and slightly to the west of Flight 93’s crash site, Rodney Peterson and Brandon Leventry notice a passenger jet lumbering through the sky at about 2,000 feet. They realize such a big plane flying so low in that area is odd. They see the plane dip its wings sharply to the left, then to the right. The wings level off and the plane keeps flying south, continuing to descend slowly. Five minutes later, they hear news that the plane has crashed. Other witnesses also later describe the plane flying east-southeast, low, and wobbly. [Longman, 2002, pp. 205-206; New York Times, 9/14/2001] “Officials initially say that it looks like the plane was headed south when it hit the ground.” [News Channel 5 (Cleveland), 9/11/2001]

Shortly after 9/11, NORAD claims that there is a fighter 100 miles away from Flight 93 when it crashes. However, no details, such as who the pilot is, or which base or direction the fighter is coming from, are ever given by NORAD. [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001] CBS television reports that two F-16 fighters were tailing the flight and within 60 miles of the plane when it crashed. [CBS News, 9/16/2001; Independent, 8/13/2002] Shortly after 9/11, an unnamed New England flight controller ignores a ban on controllers speaking to the media, reportedly claiming “that an F-16 fighter closely pursued Flight 93 ... the F-16 made 360-degree turns to remain close to the commercial jet.” He adds that the fighter pilot “must’ve seen the whole thing.” He reportedly learned this from speaking to controllers nearer to the crash. [Associated Press, 9/13/2001; Telegraph (Nashua), 9/13/2001] However, a Cleveland flight controller named Stacey Taylor later claims to have not seen any fighters on radar around the crash. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] Major General Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, had previously claimed that no military planes were sent after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/2001] A different explanation by ABC News says, “The closest fighters are two F-16 pilots on a training mission from Selfridge Air National Guard Base” near Detroit, Michigan. These are ordered after Flight 93, even though they reportedly aren’t armed with any weapons. The two pilots, Lt. Col. Tom Froling and Major Douglas Champagne, have just fired the last of their 20mm cannon ammunition during their training mission. They are oblivious to what has happened in New York and Washington, but have heard unusual conversation over their radio frequencies. It is claimed they are supposed to crash into Flight 93 if they cannot persuade it to land. [ABC News, 8/30/2002; ABC News, 9/11/2002; Filson, 2004, pp. 68] However, these fighters apparently are not diverted from Michigan until after Flight 93 crashes at 10:06 a.m.

Flight 93 apparently starts to break up before it crashes, because debris is found very far away from the crash site. [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/2001] The plane is generally obliterated upon landing, except for one half-ton piece of engine found some distance away. Some reports indicate that the engine piece was found over a mile away. [Independent, 8/13/2002] The FBI reportedly acknowledges that this piece was found “a considerable distance” from the crash site. [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/2001] Later, the FBI will cordon off a three-mile wide area around the crash, as well as another area six to eight miles from the initial crash site. [CNN, 9/13/2001] One story calls what happened to this engine “intriguing, because the heat-seeking, air-to-air Sidewinder missiles aboard an F-16 would likely target one of the Boeing 757’s two large engines.” [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/2001] Smaller debris fields are also found two, three, and eight miles away from the main crash site. [Independent, 8/13/2002; Mirror, 9/12/2002] Eight miles away, local media quote residents speaking of a second plane in the area and burning debris falling from the sky. [Reuters, 9/13/2001] Residents outside Shanksville reported “discovering clothing, books, papers, and what appeared to be human remains. Some residents said they collected bags-full of items to be turned over to investigators. Others reported what appeared to be crash debris floating in Indian Lake, nearly six miles from the immediate crash scene. Workers at Indian Lake Marina said that they saw a cloud of confetti-like debris descend on the lake and nearby farms minutes after hearing the explosion...” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/2001] Moments after the crash, Carol Delasko initially thinks someone had blown up a boat on Indian Lake: “It just looked like confetti raining down all over the air above the lake.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/2001] Investigators say that far-off wreckage “probably was spread by the cloud created when the plane crashed and dispersed by a ten mph southeasterly wind.” [News Journal (Wilmington, DE), 9/16/2001] However, much of the wreckage is found sooner than that wind could have carried it, and not always southeast.

Numerous eyewitnesses see and hear Flight 93 just before its crash: