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Covers September 11 2001 from noon till 6pm.


(Between Late Morning and Early Afternoon) September 11, 2001: Congressional Leaders Evacuated to Secure Location outside Washington Edit

Congressional leaders are evacuated from Washington and flown to Mount Weather, a secret and secure bunker in Virginia, where they remain until late in the afternoon. [1][2] The Capitol building Wikipedia was evacuated shortly after the Pentagon was hit (see 9:48 a.m. September 11, 2001). Most of the leadership teams of both parties subsequently assemble at the Capitol Police building. [3][4]

Around late morning or early afternoon, orders are given to take them to a secure location outside Washington. The Congressional leaders return to outside the Capitol building, and from there are flown by military helicopter to Mount Weather. [5][6] Each is allowed to bring one staff member with them. [7][8]

The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Facility in Bluemont, Virginia, is located 48 miles—about 20 minutes journey by air—from Washington. [9][10]It was originally built to serve as the new seat of government if there was a nuclear war. [11]The underground complex contains about 600,000 square feet of floor space, and can accommodate several thousand people.[12][13] It has extensive communication systems linking it to the nationwide network of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) bunkers, relocation sites, and the White House Situation Room. [14][15] Members of Congress taken to the facility include House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, House Minority Whip David Bonior, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Whip Don Nickles.[16][17] Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was taken there earlier on (see (9:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001).[18][19] The Congressional leaders will remain at Mount Weather until later in the afternoon, and then return to the Capitol around 6:00 p.m. (see (Between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001).[20][21] The decision to send them outside Washington on this day has its roots in a top secret program dating back to the cold war, which serves to ensure the “Continuity of Government” (COG) in the event of an attack on the US (see 1981-1992). [22][23] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke activated the COG plan shortly before 10:00 a.m. this morning (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [24]

September 11, 2001: Suspected Militants Found with Calling Cards Edit

An unnamed, young, Middle Eastern man flying from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, is arrested after his plane is diverted to Toronto, Canada. He is apparently found to be carrying a flight jacket Wikipedia, Palestinian Authority travel documents, and a picture of himself in a flight crew uniform in front of a fake backdrop of the WTC.[25][26] Apparently, the man, who identifies himself as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Gaza, Palestine, was supposed to have arrived in the US a few days before but was delayed for unknown reasons.[27] [28]A second man was arrested a few days earlier while trying to enter Canada carrying a similar photo. He also possessed maps and directions to the WTC. Both men are soon handed over to the US. [29][30] A similar picture of suspected Egyptian al-Qaeda operative Mohammad Zeki Majoub, arrested in Canada in June 2000, in front of a fake WTC backdrop was found in the luggage of one of the US hijackers.[31] [32] Canadian officials “believe the photos could be calling cards used by the terrorists to identify those involved in plotting the attacks.” [33][34]

September 11, 2001: Existing Files on Hijackers Enables Investigation to Start Within Hours of Attacks Edit

One day after 9/11, the New York Times will report that FBI agents in Florida investigating the hijackers quickly “descended on flight schools, neighborhoods and restaurants in pursuit of leads.”

At one flight school[which?], “students said investigators were there within hours of Tuesday’s attacks.”[35]

Also on September 12, the Times will report,

“Authorities said they had also identified accomplices in several cities who had helped plan and execute Tuesday’s attacks. Officials said they knew who these people were and important biographical details about many of them. They prepared biographies of each identified member of the hijack teams, and began tracing the recent movements of the men.”
—[NEW YORK TIMES, 9/13/2001]


In September 2002, 9/11 victim’s relative Kristen Breitweiser, testifying before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, will cite these news reports and will ask,

“How did the FBI know exactly where to go only a few hours after the attacks? How did they know which neighborhoods, which flight schools and which restaurants to investigate so soon in the case?… How are complete biographies of the terrorists, and their accomplices, created in such short time? Did our intelligence agencies already have open files on these men? Were they already investigating them? Could the attacks of September 11th been prevented?”
[36]


In at least some cases, it appears that US intelligence did quickly access existing files on the hijackers. The Washington Post reports, “In the hours after Tuesday’s bombings, investigators searched their files on [Satam] Al Suqami and [Ahmed] Alghamdi, noted the pair’s ties to [Nabil] al-Marabh and launched a hunt for him.” A top Customs official[who?] claims that by checking flight manifests and comparing them with other information such as watch lists, he is able to determine the names of all 19 hijackers by 11:00 a.m.[see 1] [37]

September 11, 2001: Germans Learn of 30 People Traveling for 9/11 Plot Edit

A few hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepts a phone conversation between followers of bin Laden that leads the FBI to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to US and German officials. The Germans overhear the operatives refer to “the 30 people traveling for the operation.” The FBI scours flight manifests and any other clues for more conspirators still at large. [38]

Two days later, authorities claim to have identified teams of as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About 40 are accounted for as dead or in custody; ten are missing. They also believe a total of 27 suspected operatives received some form of pilot training. This corresponds with many analyses that the attacks required a large support network. [39] Yet there is no evidence that any accomplices in the US shortly before 9/11 have since been arrested or charged.

September 11, 2001: French Bank Allegedly Makes ‘a Fortune’ in Response to Attacks Edit

French bank Société Générale supposedly makes “a fortune” through trading, in response to the 9/11 attacks. This is according to rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel, who is employed by the bank between 2000 and 2008. In a 2009 interview with the French newspaper Le Parisien, Kerviel will say: “The best trading day in the history of Société Générale was September 11, 2001. At least, that’s what one of my managers told me.” He will add, “I don’t know how much they made, but apparently the gains were colossal.” Kerviel will not state how the bank makes these gains, but indicates it is through the short-selling of stock. He will continue the interview by saying, “I had a similar experience during the London attacks in July 2005” (see July 7, 2005), and then describe how he’d bet on a fall in the share price of German insurance company Allianz a few days before those attacks. The London bombings will cause the price of Allianz stock to crash, thereby earning Kerviel ”€500,000 in a few minutes.”[40]

Société Générale is France’s second largest bank, and one of the largest banks in Europe.[41]At the time of his interview with Le Parisien, Kerviel is alleged to have caused it record losses of almost €5 billion through his rogue dealings. He is under investigation for breach of trust, fabricating documents, and accessing computers illegally. [42]

12pmEdit

Main article: 12pm-1pm_September_11_2001

September 11, 2001: Former New York Counterterrorism Official Blames Bin Laden, Discounts Use of Explosives in Towers’ CollapseEdit

Within hours of the 9/11 attacks, Jerome Hauer, director of New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) from 1996 to 2000, appears on CBS News with Dan Rather. Rather asks him if pre-positioned explosives could have been used to bring down the Twin Towers. Hauer discounts the possibility, saying: “[M]y sense is that just the velocity of the plane and the fact that you have a plane filled with fuel hitting that building that burned, that the velocity of the plane certainly had an impact on the structure itself. And then the fact that it burned and you had that intense heat probably weakened the structure as well. And I think it was simply the planes hitting the buildings and causing the collapse.” [CBS NEWS, 9/11/2001] Why Hauer already believes the plane crashes and subsequent fires alone caused the collapses is unclear. In fact, when he testifies before the 9/11 Commission in 2004, he will be asked whether OEM had, before 9/11, conducted “any planning for what would be the response if a commercial or a private plane were to accidentally [hit] either the World Trade Center or some other building in New York City?” He will reply: “We had aircraft crash drills on a regular basis. The general consensus in the city was that a plane hitting a building… was that it would be a high-rise fire” (see 1996-September 11, 2001). Yet he will not say that the building collapsing had been considered a possibility. [9/11 COMMISSION, 5/19/2004] Rather also asks Hauer if the attacks could have been carried out without state sponsorship. Hauer replies: “I’m not sure I agree that this is necessarily state-sponsored. It… certainly has the fingerprints of somebody like bin Laden.” [CBS NEWS, 9/11/2001] Entity Tags: Jerry Hauer Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(Shortly After 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Pentagon Finally Informs White House that Flight 93 Was Not Shot Down The Pentagon finally informs those inside the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House that Flight 93 was not shot down by the US military. When they’d first learned of a plane going down in Pennsylvania, many of the people in the PEOC thought the military might have shot it down (see (10:25 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [NEWSWEEK, 12/31/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] However, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice later recalls, “We couldn’t get an answer from the Pentagon” as to what had happened. In one call to the Pentagon, she’d insisted, “You must know. I mean, you must know!” [HAYES, 2007, PP. 339] It takes until about two hours after Flight 93 crashed for the Pentagon to confirm there was no shoot down. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 5/23/2003] Several early news reports suggested that military fighter jets might have shot down an aircraft, perhaps Flight 93 (see 11:28 a.m.-11:50 a.m. September 11, 2001). And when F-15 pilot Daniel Nash returns to his base later in the afternoon after flying a combat air patrol over New York, he will be told that a military F-16 had shot down an airliner in Pennsylvania (see (Shortly After 2:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [CAPE COD TIMES, 8/21/2002] Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events


(Between 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: World Trade Center Leaseholder Discusses Possible Controlled Demolition of WTC 7 with Insurer, Reporter Will Later Claim Edit

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro. [Source: University of Florida] Larry Silverstein, who recently took over the lease of the World Trade Center complex (see July 24, 2001), discusses possibly bringing down WTC Building 7 in a controlled demolition in a telephone conversation with his insurance carrier, according to a reporter who is at the WTC site this afternoon. [FOX NEWS, 4/22/2010] WTC 7 is a 47-story office building located just north of the Twin Towers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will say it suffered some structural damage when the North Tower collapsed (see 10:28 a.m. September 11, 2001) and it has fires on several floors. It will collapse at 5:20 p.m., apparently becoming the first tall building ever to come down primarily as a result of fire (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. XXXV-XXXVI ] Silverstein Allegedly Wants WTC 7 Demolished - Investigative reporter Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, who is at the scene of the attacks in New York, will later recall: “Shortly before [WTC 7] collapsed, several NYPD officers and Con Edison workers told me that Larry Silverstein… was on the phone with his insurance carrier to see if they would authorize the controlled demolition of the building, since its foundation was already unstable and expected to fall. A controlled demolition would have minimized the damage caused by the building’s imminent collapse and potentially save lives.” Shapiro will add: “Many law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and other journalists were aware of this possible option. There was no secret.” [FOX NEWS, 4/22/2010] Preparing a large building for demolition usually takes weeks, or even months. This time is spent on operations such as wrapping concrete columns to ensure pieces do not fly off. [BALTIMORE SUN, 2/26/1995; PBS NOVA, 12/1996; CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT GUIDE, 2/24/2005] Discussion of Demolition Later Denied - Silverstein will later recall discussing WTC 7 over the phone with the commander of the New York Fire Department, and telling him, “We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it” (see After 12:00 Noon September 11, 2001), but a spokesman will subsequently claim that Silverstein was referring to withdrawing firefighters from the building, not bringing WTC 7 down with explosives. [US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 9/16/2005; BBC, 7/4/2008] At the end of a three-year investigation into the building’s collapse, NIST will say WTC 7 “did not collapse from explosives,” but critics will dispute this conclusion (see August 21, 2008). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/21/2008; NEW YORK TIMES, 8/21/2008] Entity Tags: Larry Silverstein, World Trade Center, New York City Police Department, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, Con Edison Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, World Trade Center


(Early Afternoon) September 11, 2001: FAA Sends White House Incorrect Details of Hijacked Planes Edit

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sends a fax to the White House Situation Room, giving positive identification of the four hijacked aircraft involved in the morning’s attacks. However, two of the four flight numbers it provides are wrong. [DRAPER, 2007, PP. 143] Yet, by late morning, American Airlines and United Airlines had already issued press releases confirming that the four planes that crashed were flights 11, 175, 77, and 93 (see 11:17 a.m. September 11, 2001, (11:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001, and 11:53 a.m. September 11, 2001). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001; UNITED AIRLINES, 9/11/2001; UNITED AIRLINES, 9/11/2001] Journalist and author Robert Draper will later comment that, while there is much heroism on September 11, the FAA’s erroneous fax is an example of how the day is also “marred by appalling haplessness.” [DRAPER, 2007, PP. 143] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, White House Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

After 12:00 Noon September 11, 2001: Larry Silverstein Tells Fire Department Commander to ‘Pull It’ At some point during the afternoon of 9/11, WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein receives a phone call from the Fire Department commander, where they discuss the state of Building 7 of the WTC complex. Silverstein will discuss this call in a PBS documentary broadcast in 2002, saying that he told the commander, “You know, we’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it. And they made that decision to pull and then we watched the building collapse.” [PBS, 9/10/2002] Some people suggest that by “pull it” Silverstein meant the deliberate demolition of the building. But a spokesman for Silverstein states that he was expressing “his view that the most important thing was to protect the safety of those firefighters, including, if necessary, to have them withdraw from the building.” [US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 9/16/2005] Yet this claim is contradicted by some accounts, according to which firefighters decided early on not to attempt fighting the fires in WTC 7 (see After 10:28 a.m. September 11, 2001)(see (11:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to Haaretz, “In the afternoon of September 11, the Fire Department informed him that the smaller 7 World Trade Center building, which he owned, was going to collapse.” [HA'ARETZ, 11/21/2001] Building 7 eventually collapses at around 5:20 in the afternoon (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Larry Silverstein Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, World Trade Center, WTC Investigation

(After 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: FAA Begins Analysis of 9/11 Attacks Edit

At FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, David Canoles, the FAA’s manager of air traffic evaluations and investigations, and his staff begin coordinating the collection of forensic evidence that might clarify how the morning’s attacks unfolded.

They coordinate the capture and copying of radar track data showing the paths of the four hijacked planes, and obtain air traffic control voice tapes from every facility that had spoken with these planes. FAA Assistant Investigations Manager Tony Mello and other employees will work for most of the afternoon, all night, and part of the following day, gathering data and coordinating with the FBI, Secret Service, Defense Department, White House, and National Transportation Safety Board, making sure these other agencies receive as much evidence as is available.

Radar tracks are crudely plotted, showing the flight paths of the four jets, and voice tapes are transcribed. Having been stuck in Chicago when the attacks occurred, [see 2], Tony Ferrante, the manager of FAA investigations, will finally arrive at FAA headquarters at 5:00 a.m. on September 12.

His first priority is “to ensure that the radar data and voice tapes from every location involved in the attack [are] put under lock and key as soon as possible,” presumably to be kept safe for any investigations. He looks at and listens to the relevant controller tapes, and begins constructing a detailed timeline of the four hijacked aircraft. Along with Tony Mello and others of his staff, Ferrante will spend several days working out the movements of the four planes. FAA radar experts Dan Diggins and Doug Gould will also spend days interpreting the radar tracks of the four planes, piecing together a detailed timeline of their actions from takeoff to crash. [43][FRENI, 2003, PP. 74 AND 76-77] The FAA will publish a fairly comprehensive chronology of the hijackings on September 17, though this will not be made public until September 2005. [44] Presently, it refers any media requests for flight patterns to Flight Explorer, a software company that makes charts of plane routes using information from the FAA’s radar system [see 3]. [45][WASHINGTON POST, 9/13/2001] The US military has also started doing its own reconstructions of the radar data for the hijacked aircraft [see 4].

(12:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Secretary of State Powell Unable to Communicate with Colleagues in Washington Edit

in a template [1]

Secretary of State Colin Powell learned of the attacks on the US while away in Peru, Lima [see 5]. During his seven-hour flight back to Washington, he is frustrated at being unable to communicate with other senior government leaders.

In a March 2002 speech at the State Department, Powell will recall,

“I never felt more useless in my life than on the morning of the 11th of September. Phones [were] gone because of what happened here and what happened to the [communications] system here in Washington. They couldn’t get a phone line through. I was able to get some radio communications—two radio spots on the way back—but for most of that seven-hour period, I could not tell what was going on here in my capital, and I’m the secretary of state!”[46][47]


Powell is able to talk by radio with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage Wikipedia. But, according to journalist Bob Woodward, any “real talk” between them “was hopeless.” [48] Yet, in a 7:40 p.m. press briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Philip Reeker Wikipedia will claim that Powell “has been kept in the loop and informed all day.” [49]

12:36 p.m. September 11, 2001: President Bush Records Second Speech; It Airs about 30 Minutes Later Edit

Bush records a speech at Barksdale Air Force Base. [Source: Win McNamee/ Reuters] Around 12:30 p.m., President Bush records a short speech that is broadcast by the networks at 1:04 p.m. [SALON, 9/11/2001; WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/8/2002] In the speech, recorded at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana (see 11:45 a.m. September 11, 2001), 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, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/12/2001; MSNBC, 9/22/2001] He also states: “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.” [ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

(12:58 p.m.-1:25 p.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Argues with Cheney and Others about Where He Should Go Next; Agrees to Stay Away from WashingtonEdit

President Bush spends most of his time at Barksdale Air Force Base arguing on the phone with Vice President Dick Cheney and others over where he should go next. The media are now starting to ask about the president’s whereabouts, and why he has not returned to Washington. “A few minutes before 1 p.m.,” Bush 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] In addition, there are reports of other unaccounted for planes that are seen as possible threats: two international flights and two domestic ones. A senior administration official will later comment, “That’s a potential of four missiles in the air, and we were concerned that if Air Force One landed in a predictable place, one of those planes could hit it on the ground.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/16/2001] At 1:25, Bush speaks with his chief of staff Andrew Card and the head of the Secret Service detail. He tells them: “I want to go back home ASAP. I don’t want whoever this is holding me outside of Washington.” But the Secret Service agent replies, “Our people say it’s too unsteady still,” and Card adds, “The right thing is to let the dust settle.” Bush acquiesces. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 119] In a book about the Secret Service, author Philip Melanson will later comment on the president’s failure to promptly return to Washington: “If the president appeared less than resolute at any point… it was the fault of agents who were overzealous in their desire to protect him, administration sources have offered.” Yet, “The Service, whose first duty that day or any other day is to protect the president, has never publicly pointed out that Bush could have overruled them at any time and ordered Air Force One to Washington, DC.” [MELANSON, 2002, PP. 326] Entity Tags: Andrew Card, Secret Service, George W. Bush, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush, Dick Cheney

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


1pmEdit

After 1:00 p.m. September 11, 2001: FBI Tells GTE Supervisor to Keep Todd Beamer Call Secret Edit

GTE customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson had spoken with Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer for 13 minutes before his plane crashed (see 9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001). Before heading home from work at 1 p.m., she is questioned by phone by three FBI agents, who asked her scores of questions about her conversation with Beamer. Later in the afternoon, an FBI agent phones her at home. He provides her with several numbers to call, should she remember further details about her conversation with Beamer. He also tells her to maintain secrecy about the call. Jefferson later describes, “In fact, he stressed the importance of keeping the matter under wraps.” [JEFFERSON AND MIDDLEBROOKS, 2006, PP. 61-62 AND 69] It is not until three days later that the FBI first releases information on the call, and that Beamer’s wife learns of it (see September 14, 2001). [BEAMER AND ABRAHAM, 2002, PP. 185-186] It is unclear why the FBI wants it kept secret until then. Phone calls made by several other passengers from Flight 93 will be reported within a day of the attacks. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001; SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 9/12/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/12/2001] Entity Tags: Todd Beamer, Lisa Jefferson, Federal Bureau of Investigation Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Alleged Passenger Phone Calls

1:02 p.m. September 11, 2001: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Calls for War; President Bush Says There Will be a Counterattack From Barksdale Air Force Base, President Bush speaks with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld informs the president that it had been an American Airlines plane that hit the Pentagon. Previously, there had been a question as to whether it was hit by a smaller plane or a helicopter. [NEW YORKER, 9/25/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; SAMMON, 2002, PP. 116] Rumsfeld also tells Bush, “This is not a criminal action. This is war.” Washington Times reporter Rowan Scarborough later reflects, “Rumsfeld’s instant declaration of war… took America from the Clinton administration’s view that terrorism was a criminal matter to the Bush administration’s view that terrorism was a global enemy to be destroyed.” [WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/23/2004] Bush reportedly tells Rumsfeld that there will “be a counterattack and that the military [will] not be hamstrung by politics the way it had been in Vietnam.” He says to Rumsfeld, “It’s a day of national tragedy and we’ll clean up the mess. And then the ball will be in your court and [incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Dick Myers’s court to respond.” [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 116] Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld

(1:02 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Mayor Giuliani Orders Evacuation of Southern Manhattan New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani orders an evacuation of Manhattan south of Canal Street. [MSNBC, 9/22/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/21/2002] Entity Tags: Rudolph (“Rudy”) Giuliani Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

1:04 p.m. September 11, 2001: Military on High Alert Worldwide President Bush announces that the US military has been put on high alert worldwide. [CNN, 9/12/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/21/2002] Apparently, this occurs in a televised speech that was actually recorded half an hour earlier. Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

1:05 p.m. September 11, 2001: Report of Airplane Approaching President Bush’s Ranch Turns out to Be False Alarm

Logan Walters. [Source: SCF Partners] While he is at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, President Bush receives an intelligence report from the US Strategic Command (Stratcom), informing him that a high-speed object is heading for his ranch in Crawford, Texas. It is already more than 45 minutes since US airspace had been cleared of all aircraft except military and emergency flights (see 12:16 p.m. September 11, 2001). Bush orders an underling to notify everyone at the ranch about this. [NEW YORKER, 9/25/2001; SAMMON, 2002, PP. 117; CBS NEWS, 9/11/2002] In the White House Situation Room, they are also informed of the rogue aircraft. Logan Walters, who is Bush’s personal aide, calls the ranch’s caretaker and tells him, “Get as far away from there as you can.” Senior national security official Franklin Miller then receives a phone call informing him that a combat air patrol (CAP) has been established over the ranch. [DRAPER, 2007, PP. 142] (A CAP is an aircraft patrol with the purpose of intercepting and destroying hostile aircraft before they reach their targets. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 4/12/2001] ) Miller heads to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House to ask Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley about the CAP. Both men agree that it seems unnecessarily excessive. When Miller returns to the Situation Room, he sets about calling off the CAP, but finds that it was o’t even established to begin with, and that, furthermore, the report of a rogue aircraft was a false alarm. [DRAPER, 2007, PP. 143] A threat to Air Force One had allegedly been received earlier on (see 10:32 a.m. September 11, 2001), but this too is later deemed to have been a false alarm. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 554] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Franklin Miller, US Strategic Command, Logan Walters, Stephen J. Hadley Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

1:24 p.m. September 11, 2001: Further Suspicions Raised about Korean Airlines Flight When Pilots Switch Transponder to Hijack Code

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

1:25 p.m.-2:29 p.m. September 11, 2001: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Receives Conflicting Information about Suspicious Korean Airlines Jet The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, receives conflicting information from the military and other government agencies regarding a Korean Airlines passenger jet that is mistakenly considered hijacked and has been instructed to land at Whitehorse Airport. [YUKON GOVERNMENT, 11/13/2001, PP. 14-16, 35-36 ; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 277-278] Plane Redirected to Whitehorse - Korean Airlines Flight 85, a Boeing 747, was due to land in Anchorage, Alaska, for a refueling stop. The plane has not been hijacked, but its pilots have given indications that it is hijacked (see (Shortly Before 12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001 and 1:24 p.m. September 11, 2001). Because Flight 85 has less than an hour’s worth of fuel remaining, it is agreed that the plane should land at Whitehorse Airport (see (Shortly After 1:24 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [ALASKA LEGISLATURE. JOINT SENATE AND HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, 2/5/2002; ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, 9/8/2002] Aircraft Hijacked or Low on Fuel? - Whitehorse RCMP is first alerted to Flight 85 at 1:25 p.m., when Winnipeg RCMP informs it that Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) is saying the flight is indicating a hijacking situation, and more information will be forthcoming. Ten minutes later, the DND contacts Whitehorse RCMP itself, saying a potentially hijacked Korean Airlines 747 is en route to Whitehorse Airport. At 1:55 p.m., Transport Canada similarly alerts Whitehorse RCMP to the potentially hijacked Korean Airlines 747 en route to Whitehorse. Then, at 2:13 p.m., Transport Canada Winnipeg advises Whitehorse RCMP that it has received a report from the Transport Canada Situation Center in Ottawa that Flight 85 has been hijacked and is near Whitehorse. However, while the DND and Transport Canada say Flight 85 is under hijack status, at 2:20 p.m. NORAD calls Whitehorse RCMP and says the flight is not hijacked, but instead a low fuel emergency. Nine minutes later, though, NORAD calls again and says Flight 85 might indeed be hijacked, as communications anomalies with the aircraft’s pilot remain suspicious. Due to the conflicting reports it is receiving, Whitehorse RCMP decides to err on the side of caution, and considers Flight 85 to be both hijacked and low on fuel until investigations prove otherwise. Conflicting Arrival Times - Whitehorse RCMP also receives two significantly different reports of when Flight 85 is due to arrive at Whitehorse Airport. At 1:45 p.m., NORAD informs it that the aircraft is 400 miles away and due to arrive in one hour. But 10 minutes later, Transport Canada says the flight is estimated to be arriving in just 12 minutes, meaning around 2:07 p.m. [YUKON GOVERNMENT, 11/13/2001, PP. 14-16, 35-36 ] Flight 85 will eventually land without incident at Whitehorse Airport at 2:54 p.m. (see 2:54 p.m. September 11, 2001). [USA TODAY, 8/12/2002; ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, 9/8/2002] Entity Tags: Transport Canada, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Department of National Defence (Canada) Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

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

1:27 p.m. September 11, 2001: State of Emergency Declared in Washington A state of emergency is declared in Washington. [CNN, 9/12/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/12/2001] Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(Between 1:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: United Airlines Tells Deena Burnett It Is Unaware Flight 93 Has Crashed Deena Burnett, whose husband Tom Burnett was on Flight 93, is told by United Airlines it isn’t aware this plane has crashed. Deena had earlier on learned of an aircraft crashing in Pennsylvania, and a police officer with her informed her that this was her husband’s flight. Yet in her own book, published in 2006, Deena Burnett will describe that she now calls “United Airlines and asked about Flight 93. ‘Were there any survivors?’” She will recall: “They said they didn’t know the plane had even crashed. They suggested I call back or they would contact me when they knew something.” According to her own description, Deena appears to make this call shortly before 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time, meaning close to 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. [BURNETT AND GIOMBETTI, 2006, PP. 71-72 AND 79] Yet by 10:15 a.m. ET, United Airlines’ headquarters had confirmed that an aircraft had crashed in Pennsylvania, and believed this was Flight 93 (see (10:07 a.m.-10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 47 ] And at 11:17 a.m. ET, the airline had issued a press release confirming the crash of Flight 93 (see 11:17 a.m. September 11, 2001). [UNITED AIRLINES, 9/11/2001] At what time Deena Burnett hears back from United Airlines after making this call is unstated. Entity Tags: United Airlines, Deena Burnett Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(Between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Non-Essential Staff Removed from White House Bunker In the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the East Wing of the White House, numerous key officials are assembled, including Vice President Dick Cheney, his chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, White House counselor Karen Hughes, and others. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 18-19] A technician informs Libby that levels of carbon dioxide in the room have climbed too high. Libby remembers that excessive carbon dioxide can affect a person’s judgment, and arranges to have any non-essential personnel—comprising various lower-level aides—removed from the room. [NEWSWEEK, 12/31/2001] According to journalist and author Stephen Hayes, it is in fact David Addington, the vice president’s general counsel, who asks the lower-level officials to leave. [HAYES, 2007, PP. 343] Entity Tags: Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, David S. Addington, Condoleezza Rice, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Karen Hughes Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Dick Cheney

(1:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Air Force One Leaves Louisiana; Flies to Nebraska President Bush leaves Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on Air Force One, and flies to Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base, where the US Strategic Command is located. 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, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; MSNBC, 9/22/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later reveals that the president’s decision to head to Offutt instead of returning to Washington is due to a plan called “Continuity of Government” (COG). This program, which dates back to the Reagan administration, originally planned to set up a new leadership for the US in the event of a nuclear war. It was activated for the first time shortly before 10:00 a.m. this morning (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 4/7/2004; ABC NEWS, 4/25/2004] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke, Dan Bartlett, Karl Rove, Gordon Johndroe, Ari Fleischer, Andrew Card Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

(Between 1:30 p.m. and 2:50 p.m.) September 11, 2001: President’s CIA Briefer Blames Bin Laden for Attack After taking off from Barksdale Air Force Base (see (1:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), President Bush calls Mike Morell, his CIA briefer, to his cabin near the front of the plane. He asks Morell who he thinks is responsible for the attack. Morell replies, “I would bet everything on bin Laden.” He lists some of bin Laden’s previous attacks: the 1998 attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. Bush asks about the Palestinian extremist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Morell says it is unlikely this group could be responsible for the day’s attack, as PFLP simply doesn’t have the capability for something like this. Bush asks how long it will take to know if bin Laden is to blame. Based on previous attacks, Morell says, it will probably be a matter of days. Bush says that if anything definitive is learned about the attack, he wants to be the first to know. [KESSLER, 2003, PP. 195; TENET, 2007, PP. 165-166] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, Michael J. Morell Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

(Shortly After 1:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Canadian Prime Minister Authorizes Fighters to Shoot Down Suspicious Korean Airlines Plane

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

1:44 p.m. September 11, 2001: US Military Deployed at Sea, in Skies 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. [CNN, 9/12/2001; MSNBC, 9/22/2001] Entity Tags: US Department of Defense Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(1:45 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Louisiana Air National Guard Fighters Scrambled to Protect Air Force One

An F-15 from the 159th Fighter Wing. [Source: Louisiana National Guard] Fighter jets belonging to the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 159th Fighter Wing are launched in order to accompany Air Force One after it takes off from Barksdale Air Force Base. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/30/2007] The 159th Fighter Wing is located at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. [GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 1/21/2006] SEADS Scrambles Fighters - Although the wing is not one of NORAD’s alert units around the US, NORAD’s Southeast Air Defense Sector (SEADS) scrambles four of its fighters around the time President Bush is leaving Barksdale Air Base on board Air Force One (see (1:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). The fighters had already been loaded with live missiles by the time Air Force One landed at the base (see 11:45 a.m. September 11, 2001). According to weapons officer Major Jeff Woelbling, “As we were all watching the news, the wing leadership decided to configure our jets and get ready.” Military Unaware of Air Force One's Route - At the time Air Force One leaves Barksdale, SEADS is unaware of its next destination. Lieutenant Colonel Randy Riccardi, the commander of the 122nd Fighter Squadron, which is part of the 159th Fighter Wing, will later recall, “When Air Force One took off out of Barksdale, we were scrambled because SEADS didn’t know his route of flight.” Riccardi will add: “We were in a four-ship and turned north toward Barksdale and the president was already airborne. We were 300 miles behind him since SEADS didn’t know where he was going.” The 159th Fighter Wing jets will accompany Air Force One until it is near Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (see 2:50 p.m. September 11, 2001). They then turn around and return to base. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87] When Air Force One landed at Barksdale, it was already being escorted by jets from the 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard (see (After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Those jets will continue escorting the president’s plane until it reaches Washington, DC. [GALVESTON COUNTY DAILY NEWS, 7/9/2005; BOMBARDIER, 9/8/2006 ] Entity Tags: 159th Fighter Wing, Randy Riccardi, Jeff Woelbling, Southeast Air Defense Sector Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

2pmEdit

(2:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Decision Made to Abandon WTC 7 Edit

The chief fire officer who has been assigned to take charge of operations at WTC Building 7 meets with his command officer, to discuss the condition of this building and the fire department’s capabilities for controlling the fires in it. A deputy fire chief who has just been in WTC 7, inspecting up to its 7th or 8th floor, reports that there was a lot of fire inside and the stairway was filling with smoke. The fire chiefs discuss the situation and identify the following conditions:

WTC 7 has suffered damage caused by falling debris from the Twin Towers, and they are uncertain about its structural stability. 
There are large fires on at least six floors. 
They do not have enough equipment available for conducting operations in the building, such as hoses, standpipe kits, and handie-talkies. 
There is no water immediately available for fighting the fires. (However, this concern is apparently contradicted by reports that two or three fireboats are moored nearby, specifically to provide water-pumping capacity for the WTC site.) 

Therefore, at around 2:30 p.m., fire officers decide to completely abandon WTC 7 and a final order is given to evacuate the site. Firefighters and other emergency workers will be withdrawn from the surrounding area (see (4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), and Building 7 collapses later in the afternoon (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [FIREHOUSE (.COM), 9/17/2001; NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 9/2005, PP. 110-111 ] Entity Tags: New York City Fire Department, World Trade Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, WTC Investigation, Key Day of 9/11 Events, World Trade Center

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

September 11-12, 2001: FBI Agents Denied Permission to Interview Moussaoui, Due to Lack of Emergency The FBI’s Minneapolis office asks for permission to interview Zacarias Moussaoui a few hours after the end of the 9/11 attacks, but permission is denied, apparently on the grounds that there is no emergency. On 9/11, the office’s counsel, Coleen Rowley, seeks permission from the Acting US Attorney to question Moussaoui about whether al-Qaeda has any further plans to hijack airliners or otherwise attack the US. The next day she asks again; this time the request is sent to the Justice Department. Such questioning would not usually be permitted, but Rowley argues that it should be allowed under a public safety exception. However, permission is denied and Rowley is told that the emergency is over so the public safety exception does not apply. Rowley will later comment: “We were so flabbergasted about the fact we were told no public safety emergency existed just hours after the attacks that my boss advised me to document it in a memo which became the first document in the legal subfile of the FBI’s ‘Penttbom’ case.” [HUFFINGTON POST, 5/2/2007] Some sources will suggest that Moussaoui was to be part of a second wave of attacks (see September 5, 2002). He is also an associate of shoe bomber Richard Reid, who will attempt to blow up an airliner later this year (see Mid-2000-December 9, 2000 and December 22, 2001). Entity Tags: FBI Minnesota field office, Coleen Rowley, Zacarias Moussaoui, US Department of Justice Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui, All Day of 9/11 Events, FBI 9/11 Investigation, 2001 Attempted Shoe Bombing

(2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: 119th Fighter Wing Jets Land Back at Langley Air Base; Pilots Learn Details of Attacks for First Time The three F-16 fighter jets that launched from Langley Air Force Base to defend Washington, DC (see (9:25 a.m.-9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001) land back at their base after flying a combat air patrol (CAP) over the capital. The flight lead, Major Dean Eckmann, was refueling on a tanker when the order came for the three fighters to return to base. The two other pilots, Captain Craig Borgstrom and Major Brad Derrig, immediately headed back to Langley and Eckmann joined them shortly after. [LESLIE FILSON, 2002; LONGMAN, 2002, PP. 222; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 277] Fighters Kept Planes Away from Washington - During the four hours they were over Washington, the three F-16s, which belong to the 119th Fighter Wing of the North Dakota Air National Guard, kept aircraft away from the capital. According to Borgstrom, they only had to intercept a few planes. He will say: “It wasn’t intercept upon intercept. It was one here and, maybe 50 minutes later, one here. There was not a lot of it.” Borgstrom will recall that the three fighters were alone in flying a CAP over Washington for about the first hour, but were then joined by other aircraft “from all over the place.” By the time they headed back to Langley Air Force Base, Borgstrom will say that he “personally counted 17 other fighters in the CAP.” [LESLIE FILSON, 2002] Pilots Learn Details of Attacks - The three pilots had been unaware of precisely why they were scrambled and did not realize the threat was from hijacked planes (see (9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 45] They only learn the details of the terrorist attacks after landing back at Langley. Borgstrom is surprised to see over a dozen trailers carrying missiles lined up near the runway. He will recall, “I thought, ‘What the heck is going on?’” because, “At this point, I still didn’t know it was airliners” that were involved in the attacks. [LESLIE FILSON, 2002; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 277] According to Eckmann, it is only after they land that the three pilots learn about the World Trade Center towers collapsing. Eckmann learns of the collapses in a phone call with his wife. [LESLIE FILSON, 12/6/2002] Borgstrom asks his crew chief, “What else did they get?” As Borgstrom will later recall, the crew chief says he isn’t sure, “but he thought there was some others,” presumably meaning more planes and targets involved. Borgstrom recalls, “So at that point I was like, oh no, a really terrible thing has happened.” [LESLIE FILSON, 2002; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 277] According to Eckmann, the three pilots only learn about Flight 93 on the following day, September 12. [LESLIE FILSON, 12/6/2002] Entity Tags: Craig Borgstrom, Brad Derrig, Dean Eckmann Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: All-Republican US Shadow Government is Formed

The emergency operations facility in Mount Weather, Bluemont, Virginia (the entrance is shown on the left and the interior blast door is shown on the right). This is one of the Continuity of Government bunkers used on 9/11. [Source: ABC News] (click image to enlarge) 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 Continuity of Government in the face of a crisis that date 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. Presumably among them are a number of FAA managers, members of a designated group of “shadow” managers, who slip away from their usual activities around midday. Officials rotate in and out of the shadow government on a 90-day cycle. While the measure is initially intended only as a temporary precaution, due to further assessment of the risk of terrorism, the White House will decide to make it a permanent feature of “the new reality.” A senior official tells CNN that major factors are the concern that al-Qaeda could have gained access to a crude nuclear device, and the “threat of some form of catastrophic event.” However, this same official will admit that the US has no confirmation, and “no solid evidence,” that al-Qaeda has such a nuclear device, and says that the consensus among top US officials is that the likelihood of this is “quite low.” When the existence of the shadow government is later revealed, some controversy will arise because it includes no Democrats. In fact, top congressional Democrats will remain unaware of it until journalists break the story months later. [CNN, 3/1/2002; WASHINGTON POST, 3/1/2002; CBS NEWS, 3/2/2002; FRENI, 2003, PP. 75] Entity Tags: US Congress, United States Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline, Civil Liberties Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

(2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: False Alarm over Approaching Aircraft Leads to Pentagon Evacuation, Disrupting Firefighting and Evidence-Gathering Operations

James Schwartz. [Source: Arlington County, Virginia] Firefighting and other operations are severely disrupted when the Pentagon site is evacuated due to a report of an unidentified aircraft heading toward the Pentagon. Firefighters have to abandon their equipment and run several hundred yards to protected areas. [US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 7/2002, PP. A16 AND A30] Assistant Fire Chief James Schwartz orders the evacuation after the control tower at Washington’s Reagan National Airport notifies the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center (ECC) of an inbound aircraft that is not identifying itself and is heading up the Potomac River at a high rate of speed. It is not known if this is a hijacked plane, but no aircraft other than military jets are now supposed to be in the air. The ECC then notifies Schwartz at the Pentagon. By the time he orders the evacuation, the aircraft is reportedly just two minutes away. [US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 7/2002, PP. A30 AND A52; CREED AND NEWMAN, 2008, PP. 187] At one point, the controllers at Reagan Airport are reporting that the plane has disappeared from radar, though they do not say why they think this is. [CREED AND NEWMAN, 2008, PP. 191] Approaching Aircraft Is 'Friendly' - The unidentified aircraft is soon determined to be “friendly.” [FIRE ENGINEERING, 11/2002; CREED AND NEWMAN, 2008, PP. 193] According to the Arlington County After-Action Report, it turns out to have been a government aircraft flying Attorney General John Ashcroft back to Washington. [US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 7/2002, PP. A30 AND C52; VOGEL, 2007, PP. 453] However, a 2002 FAA report will state that Ashcroft’s plane landed in Washington “just before noon” (see (12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, 3/21/2002 ] If that report is correct, then the identity of the approaching aircraft is unclear. Emergency Operations Disrupted - The firefighters and other emergency responders return to the Pentagon and resume their activities, but the evacuation has significantly disrupted firefighting operations, giving fires in some areas 30 minutes to gain ground. [US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 7/2002, PP. A16; CREED AND NEWMAN, 2008, PP. 193-194] The FBI’s evidence recovery operation has also been disrupted. [CREED AND NEWMAN, 2008, PP. 191] Evacuation Avoidable, Caused by Loss of FBI Presence - This evacuation is later determined to have been avoidable, and only necessary because of the loss of a senior FBI presence at the incident command post (ICP) at the Pentagon, which means there is no way for the ICP to verify whether the approaching aircraft is “friendly” or not. This loss is due to the FBI having relocated to the Virginia State Police Barracks shortly after midday (see (12:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001). The Arlington County After-Action Report will later conclude, “Friendly aircraft, carrying US government executives and escorted by fighter aircraft, should not have been cause for evacuation.” A previous evacuation of the Pentagon site due to reports of an approaching unidentified aircraft occurred around 10:15 a.m. (see (10:15 a.m.-10:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and a third similar evacuation will occur on the morning of September 12 (see (10:00 a.m.) September 12, 2001). [US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 7/2002, PP. A30-A31; FIRE ENGINEERING, 11/2002] Entity Tags: John Ashcroft, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, James Schwartz, Arlington County Emergency Communications Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Pentagon

(2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Fighter Pilot Told Flight 93 Was Shot Down 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.” [AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 6/3/2002; CAPE COD TIMES, 8/21/2002] Entity Tags: Daniel Nash Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(Shortly After 2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Refueling Truck Driver at Langley Air Base Thinks Recently-Landed Jet Shot Down Flight 93 The driver of a refueling truck at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, mistakenly concludes that one of the three F-16 fighter jets that launched from the base to defend Washington, DC (see (9:25 a.m.-9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and that recently landed back there (see (2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001) shot down Flight 93. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 277] One Fighter Launched without Missiles - One of the F-16s that took off from Langley Air Force Base was piloted by Captain Craig Borgstrom. However, Borgstrom was not one of the two pilots at the base on “alert” duty this morning. Consequently, he had taken off in a third, spare fighter in response to the call for help (see (Between 9:10 a.m. and 9:23 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Unlike the F-16s belonging to the two pilots on alert duty, Borgstrom’s plane carried no missiles. [CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, 4/16/2002; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 118-119] Driver Thinks Borgstrom Shot Down Flight 93 - One of the alert pilots, Major Brad Derrig, will later recall, “Confusion arose because Borgstrom had no missiles when he took off and that was noticed when he landed.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 12/1/2003] The driver of a refueling truck, who is unaware that Borgstrom had taken off without any missiles, now notices that Borgstrom’s plane has no missiles hanging from its wings. According to author Lynn Spencer, the driver “knows that United 93 has gone down and now he surmises who took it down.” The following day, the driver will voice his suspicion to Borgstrom, and Borgstrom will clarify to him what actually happened. But, according to Spencer, “in the interim, a rumor is started that makes its way onto the Internet and will haunt the pilots for years to come,” that Flight 93 was shot down. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 277] Other Evidence Indicates Shootdown - However, there are other factors that lead to the suspicion that Flight 93 was shot down by the US military. For example, a number of early news reports—published hours before the three fighters landed back at Langley—stated the possibility of a plane having been shot down (see 11:28 a.m.-11:50 a.m. September 11, 2001), and what appears to be debris from a plane is discovered far away from the main Flight 93 crash site (see (Before 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and September 13, 2001). [TCM BREAKING NEWS, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/13/2001; PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 11/15/2001; MIRROR, 9/12/2002] Entity Tags: Brad Derrig, Craig Borgstrom Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Flight UA 93

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

2:15 p.m.-3:00 p.m. September 11, 2001: No Relatives of Flight 93 Passengers Waiting at Airport Edit

No relatives of the Flight 93 passengers are waiting at San Francisco International Airport at the time when the plane is scheduled to have arrived there. A counseling center has been set up at the airport for any relatives that might show up, and dozens of clergy members gave gathered at United Airlines’ VIP lounge to await the families. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown has arranged to come and meet them. But at 11:15 a.m. Pacific Time (2:15 p.m. Eastern Time), when Flight 93 was scheduled to arrive, no family members have shown up, nor have any arrived by midday (3:00 p.m. ET). Willie Brown cancels his trip to meet the families when it appears none will show up. Knight Ridder will suggest the reason no relatives have come is that United Airlines employees contacted many of them before they left home. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/12/2001; KNIGHT RIDDER, 9/12/2001] Also, United Airlines publicly confirmed that Flight 93 had crashed several hours earlier (see 11:17 a.m. September 11, 2001), so passengers’ relatives may have realized for themselves what has happened by now. [UNITED AIRLINES, 9/11/2001] Another possible factor could be that many of the passengers—at least 16 out of a mere 33—were not originally scheduled to be on Flight 93, and only arranged to be on it at the last minute or switched from another flight (see Shortly Before September 11, 2001-Early Morning September 11, 2001), so their relatives may not initially realize they had been on the plane. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/11/2002] In contrast, some relatives of passengers on the other three hijacked planes have gone to Los Angeles International Airport, the destination of those planes: The New York Times will describe “a few grieving relatives” there, and the Associated Press describes, “In Los Angeles, several dozen relatives met grief counselors at an airport hotel.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/12/2001] Entity Tags: San Francisco International Airport, Willie Brown Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Flight UA 93

2:49 p.m. September 11, 2001: Giuliani Says Subway and Bus Services Partially Restored Edit

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announces that the New York City subway and bus service has been partially restored. [CNN, 9/12/2001] Entity Tags: Rudolph (“Rudy”) Giuliani Timeline Tags: Environmental Impact of 9/11, 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(Between 2:50 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Cheney Tells Congressional Leaders They Cannot Return to WashingtonEdit

Don Nickles. [Source: Publicity photo] Vice President Dick Cheney talks with Congressional leaders who have been taken to a secure bunker outside Washington, and tells them they cannot return to the capital. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002; LOTT, 2005, PP. 221-222] A number of top members of the House and Senate leaderships were evacuated to the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Facility in Bluemont, Virginia, during the morning and early afternoon (see (9:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Between Late Morning and Early Afternoon) September 11, 2001). [ABC NEWS, 9/15/2002] Cheney Controls Information - In the middle of the afternoon, the vice president makes a conference call from the White House to a number of groups, including these Congressional leaders. As Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R) will recall, Cheney “told us what he knew: that it was a terrorist attack; that it was carried out by al-Qaeda and directed by Osama bin Laden; that thousands were dead in New York, and hundreds more at the Pentagon. Though some concerns still existed, the immediate danger had abated.” [LOTT, 2005, PP. 221] Cheney also says the president has been moving around since the time of the attacks, and is now at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. [DASCHLE AND D'ORSO, 2003, PP. 115-116] 'We Control the Helicopters' - When the leaders say they want to leave the bunker and return to Washington, Cheney refuses. According to the Washington Post, his reason is that there are still terrorist threats and there is no way to guarantee their security. Senator Don Nickles (R) complains, “We’re a separate branch of government—why do we need the approval of the White House?” Cheney replies, “Don, we control the helicopters.” [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] Cheney Initially Does Not Allow Congressional Leaders to Return - Cheney then initiates three or four private conversations, one of which is with Trent Lott. Lott says: “I want to go back to the Capitol. That’s where we belong.” But again Cheney replies, “No.” However, later in the afternoon, the Congressional leaders decide to return to Washington, and permission is arranged for this (see (Between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [HASTERT, 2004, PP. 10; LOTT, 2005, PP. 221-222] It is unclear exactly when Cheney holds this conference call. If it takes place while Bush is at Offutt, as Cheney indicates, this would place it between 2:50 p.m. and around 4:30 p.m. But from around 3:15 until 4:00, Cheney participates in the president’s video conference call with his principal advisers (see (3:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001), so it is unclear if Cheney talks to the Congressional leaders before or after this. [CNN, 9/12/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 326] Entity Tags: Trent Lott, Don Nickles, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Dick Cheney

2:50 p.m. September 11, 2001: President Bush Arrives in Nebraska; Enters Strategic Command CenterEdit

Having left Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana at around 1:30 p.m. [see 6], 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. . [50] 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 7]. 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. . [51]


(Between 2:50 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: International Flight Is Suspected as Hijacked; Delays Bush’s TravelEdit

Some time after President Bush’s arrival at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska (see 2:50 p.m. September 11, 2001), those on the Pentagon’s air threat conference call discuss another possibly hijacked airplane. This is an international flight out of Madrid en route to New York’s JFK Airport. When it is clear the plane has not been hijacked, the president decides to leave Offutt for Washington. As the 1st Air Force’s official history of the 9/11 attacks will describe: “President Bush and his team were joining the air threat conference call. By this time, [Major Geneneral Larry] Arnold and [Colonel Robert] Marr were also on the line. ‘We were watching potentially hijacked aircraft,’ Arnold says. ‘I’m on the phone listening to the president talk to the secretary of defense and they were concerned about an aircraft that had taken off from Madrid and was going to land at John F. Kennedy International.… We didn’t know where that plane was. About that time, Bob Marr calls me, who was also on the conference call, but called me directly and said, ‘We just talked to the airline and that aircraft is back on the ground in Madrid.’” Arnold will recall: “I picked up the hotline and said, ‘Mr. President, this is the CONR commander.… No problem with Madrid.’ It was valid information and the president said, ‘OK, then I’m getting airborne.’” [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87-88] There are many other similar reports of suspicious aircraft during this day (see (9:09 a.m. and After) September 11, 2001 and (4:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Larry Arnold, Offutt Air Force Base, Robert Marr Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

2:54 p.m. September 11, 2001: Suspected Hijacked Korean Airlines Jet Lands Safely in Canada

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


3pmEdit

(3:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Meets with Top Officials via Video Conference Call Edit

At Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, President Bush convenes the first meeting of the National Security Council Wikipedia since the attacks occurred. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 26] He begins the video conference call from a bunker beneath the base. He and Chief of Staff Andrew Card visually communicate directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, and others. [52] According to Clarke, Bush begins the meeting by saying, “I’m coming back to the White House as soon as the plane is fueled. No discussion.” But according to Condoleezza Rice, he begins with the words, “We’re at war.” Clarke leads a quick review of what has already occurred, and issues that need to be quickly addressed. Bush asks CIA Director Tenet who he thinks is responsible for the day’s attacks. Tenet later recalls,

“I told him the same thing I had told the vice president several hours earlier: al-Qaeda. The whole operation looked, smelled, and tasted like bin Laden.”
Tenet tells Bush that passenger manifests show that three known al-Qaeda operatives had been on Flight 77. According to Tenet, when he tells the president in particular about Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (two of the alleged Flight 77 hijackers), Bush gives Mike Morell, his CIA briefer, “one of those ‘I thought I was supposed to be the first to know’ looks.” (Other evidence indicates the third al-Qaeda operative whose name is on the passenger manifest would be Salem Alhazmi (see 9:53 p.m. September 11, 2001).)

Tenet tells the meeting that al-Qaeda is “the only terrorist organization capable of such spectacular, well-coordinated attacks,” and that

“Intelligence monitoring had overheard a number of known bin Laden operatives congratulating each other after the attacks. Information collected days earlier but only now being translated indicated that various known operatives around the world anticipated a big event. None specified the day, time, place or method of attack.”
Richard Clarke later corroborates that Tenet had at this time told the president he was certain that al-Qaeda was to blame. Yet only six weeks later, in an October 24, 2001 interview, Rice will claim differently. She will say, “In the first video conference, the assumption that everybody kind of shared was that it was global terrorists.… I don’t believe anybody said this is likely al-Qaeda. I don’t think so.”

Tenet also relays a warning the CIA has received from French intelligence, saying another group of terrorists is within US borders and is preparing a second wave of attacks. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld briefs on the status of US forces, and states that about 120 fighters are now above US cities. [53] The meeting reportedly ends around 4:00-4:15 p.m. [54]

3:30 p.m. September 11, 2001: FAA Manager Sliney Announces that All Flights Inbound to US Have Landed Edit

Ben Sliney, the national operations manager at the FAA’s Herndon Command Center, announces that the last of the aircraft inbound to the United States has landed. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 279] At 10:21 a.m., the FAA ordered the diversion of all international flights inbound to the US (see 10:21 a.m. September 11, 2001). Most flights that were close to US shores then headed for Canada, while other flights headed back to the airports they had come from. [TIME, 9/14/2001; FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, 3/21/2002 ] In total, 239 diverted aircraft have landed at Canadian airports. Most of them had been heading to the US from Europe. [NAV CANADA, 7/22/2005] Entity Tags: Ben Sliney Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

3:55 p.m. September 11, 2001: President Bush Said to Be at Undisclosed Location 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] Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Karen Hughes Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld

3:56 p.m. September 11, 2001: Five Apparent Israeli Spies Arrested for Puzzling Behavior at Time of First WTC Attack

The white van used by five Israeli agents as they were leaving New York on 9/11. Five Israelis are arrested for “puzzling behavior” related to the WTC attacks. Shortly after an FBI lookout bulletin was issued for a van with the words “Urban Moving Systems” written on the side, officers with the East Rutherford Police Department in New Jersey stop the van after matching the license plate number with the one given in the bulletin. According to the police report, Officer Scott DeCarlo and Sgt. Dennis Rivelli approach the van and demand the driver exit the vehicle. The driver, Sivan Kurzberg, does not obey after being asked several more times, so the police physically remove Kurzberg and four other men from the van and handcuff them. They have not been told the reasons for their arrest, but Kurzberg tells them, “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.” Again before the police have made any mention of the 9/11 attacks, another one of the arrested men says, “[W]e were on the West Side Highway in New York City during the incident.” In fact, it will later be determined they were on the roof of a building at Liberty State Park, watching and videotaping the first crash into the WTC (see Shortly After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). [BERGEN RECORD, 9/12/2001; HA'ARETZ, 9/17/2001; COUNTERPUNCH, 2/7/2007] The FBI and additional police quickly arrive. They shut down the section of Route 3 in East Rutherford where the van was stopped and evacuate a nearby hotel as a security precaution. [BERGEN RECORD, 9/12/2001] One man is found with $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock, another has two foreign passports on him, and a box cutter is found in the van. [ABC NEWS, 6/21/2002] Another has pictures of the men standing with the burning wreckage of the WTC in the background. [FORWARD, 3/15/2002] All five identify themselves as Israeli citizens and claim to be working for the New Jersey-based Urban Moving Systems company. In addition to the driver Sivan Kurzberg, the others are identified as Paul Kurzberg (Sivan’s brother), Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari, and Yaron Shmuel. The men are detained but not charged. [FORWARD, 3/15/2002; ABC NEWS, 6/21/2002] The next day it will be reported that “bomb-sniffing dogs reacted as if they had detected explosives.” An investigator high up in the Bergen County law enforcement hierarchy will say in 2006, “There are maps of the city in the car with certain places highlighted…. It looked like they’re hooked in with this [referring to the 9/11 attacks]. It looked like they knew what was going to happen.…It looked like they knew what was going to happen when they were at Liberty State Park.” [BERGEN RECORD, 9/12/2001] The FBI will later conclude at least two of the five are Mossad agents and that all were on a Mossad surveillance mission. The FBI interrogates them for weeks. [FORWARD, 3/15/2002] They are held on immigration violation charges, but will be released 71 days later (see November 20, 2001). [ABC NEWS, 6/21/2002] Entity Tags: Yaron Shmuel, Sivan Kurzberg, Urban Moving Systems, World Trade Center, Paul Kurzberg, Scott DeCarlo, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dennis Rivelli, Omer Marmari, Oded Ellner, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks (Mossad) Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Israel

(4:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Adviser Karl Rove Allegedly Concerned about Still Unaccounted-for Planes Edit

While President Bush is conducting a video conference with his principal advisers from a bunker beneath Offutt Air Force Base (see (3:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001), most of the people accompanying him are waiting in a conference room across the hallway. Among this group is Bush’s senior adviser Karl Rove. Rove later claims that, around this time, there are rumors that more planes remain unaccounted for. He says that, while “they’ve accounted for all four [hijacked] planes,” there are still concerns that “they’ve got another, I think, three or four or five planes still outstanding.” [NEW YORKER, 9/25/2001] However, according to the FAA, there are no such reports, and the White House and Pentagon had been quickly informed when US skies were completely cleared at 12:16 p.m. White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett later says he does not know from where Rove got the information about the additional unaccounted-for planes. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/22/2004 ] But according to tapes of the operations floor at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector later obtained by Vanity Fair, “False reports of hijackings, and real responses, continue well into the afternoon, though civilian air-traffic controllers had managed to clear the skies of all commercial and private aircraft by just after 12 p.m.” (See 10:15 a.m. and After September 11, 2001). [VANITY FAIR, 8/1/2006] Despite the Secret Service’s advice that he should remain at Offutt, the president announces around this time that he is returning to Washington (see (4:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Dan Bartlett, Karl Rove, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

4:00 p.m. September 11, 2001: CNN Blames Bin Laden for Attacks 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] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(4:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Bush Determined to Return to Washington, Despite Advice of Secret Service

Brian Stafford. [Source: Publicity photo] President Bush reportedly had begun his video conference call with the National Security Council (see (3:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001) by announcing, “I’m coming back to the White House as soon as the plane is fueled. No discussion.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 21] Toward the end of this meeting, around 4 p.m., Secret Service Director Brian Stafford tells Bush, “Our position is stay where you are. It’s not safe.” The Secret Service reportedly wants to keep the president where he is, at Offutt Air Force Base, overnight, and—according to some later accounts—indefinitely. To Stafford’s surprise, Bush ignores his advice and tells him, “I’m coming back.” Leaving the meeting, Bush tells his staff, “We’re going home.” [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; SAMMON, 2002, PP. 123; WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 28] Bush adviser Karl Rove later claims that, around this time, there are concerns that several planes still remain unaccounted for (see (4:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Brian L. Stafford, Secret Service Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

September 11, 2001: Weapons Found on Additional Planes Indicate Possible inside Help for Hijackers Later in the day of 9/11, weapons are found planted on board three US airplanes. A US official will say, “These look like inside jobs.” Time magazine will later report, “Sources tell Time that US officials are investigating whether the hijackers had accomplices deep inside the airports’ ‘secure’ areas.” [TIME, 9/22/2001] Penetrating airport security does not appear to have been that difficult: Argenbright, the company in charge of security at all the airports used by the hijackers, had virtually no security check on any of its employees, and even hired criminals and illegal immigrants. Security appears to be particularly abysmal at Boston’s Logan Airport, even after 9/11. [BOSTON GLOBE, 10/1/2001; CNN, 10/12/2001] An FAA official had similar concerns about two other security contractors at Logan Airport: Huntleigh USA, a subsidiary of ICTS International NV, a large Israeli security company, and Globe Aviation. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001; CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, 1/8/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/11/2004, PP. 6 ] Entity Tags: Globe Aviation Services Corp., Huntleigh Corp., Logan Airport, Argenbright, ICTS International N.V. Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, FBI 9/11 Investigation

4:10 p.m. September 11, 2001: WTC Building 7 Burning Edit

Several small fires burn inside World Trade Center Building 7. [Source: New York City Police Department] World Trade Center Building 7 is reported to be on fire. [CNN, 9/12/2001] Entity Tags: World Trade Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, WTC Investigation, World Trade Center

(4:15 p.m.-4:27 p.m.) September 11, 2001: CNN and Others Report WTC 7 May Have Collapsed Building 7 of the World Trade Center, located across the street from the Twin Towers, caught fire after the initial attacks on the WTC. [CNN, 9/12/2001] By 4:10 in the afternoon, CNN had reported it being on fire (see 4:10 p.m. September 11, 2001). Subsequently it is reported that WTC 7 is in danger of collapsing or may have already collapsed. At around 4:15 p.m., CNN reports, “We’re getting information that one of the other buildings… Building 7… is on fire and has either collapsed or is collapsing… now we’re told there is a fire there and that the building may collapse as well.” About 12 minutes later, BBC reporter Greg Barrow, who is in New York, appears on the BBC radio channel Five Live and says, “We are hearing reports from local media that another building may have caught light and is in danger of collapse.” He adds, “I’m not sure if it has yet collapsed but the report we have is talking about Building 7.” Around this time, the area around Building 7 is being evacuated, apparently because senior firefighters have determined it is in danger of collapsing (see (4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). At 4:53, based on the earlier reports, the Radio Five Live show’s presenter will incorrectly claim that Building 7 has already collapsed, saying, “Twenty-five minutes ago we had reports from Greg Barrow that another large building has collapsed just over an hour ago.” [BBC, 3/2/2007] Starting at 4:54, BBC television will also begin reporting that Building 7 has already collapsed (see 4:54 p.m.-5:10 p.m. September 11, 2001). In fact, it does not do so until 5:20 (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: World Trade Center, CNN, British Broadcasting Corporation Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, World Trade Center

4:15 p.m.-4:33 p.m. September 11, 2001: Con Edison Shuts off Power to WTC 7 after Being Told It Could Collapse

Fred Simms. [Source: Con Edison] After the fire department informs it that Building 7 of the World Trade Center could collapse, New York power company Con Edison shuts off power to this building. [9/11 COMMISSION, 2/26/2004 ] Con Edison has a major electrical substation on the first and second floors of WTC 7. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/11/2002; NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. 5 ] Its representatives who had been in WTC 7 did not think that the building would come down. But, at 4:15 p.m., Con Edison emergency field manager Fred Simms speaks to the New York Fire Department and then tells his company’s headquarters that the fire department thinks WTC 7 will collapse. The fire department then asks Con Edison to shut down the power to WTC 7, which it does. [CITY OF NEW YORK, 6/13/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 2/26/2004 ] Electric power to Con Edison’s lower Manhattan substation at WTC 7 is shut off at 4:33 p.m. [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. 303 ] Also around this time, people are evacuated from the area around WTC 7, due to concerns that the building could collapse (see (4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [KANSAS CITY STAR, 3/28/2004] WTC 7, a 47-story tower located just to the north of the main WTC complex, will come down at 5:20 p.m. (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. XXXV ] The Con Edison electrical substation below it will be destroyed in this collapse. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/11/2002] Entity Tags: Con Edison, New York City Fire Department, Fred Simms, World Trade Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, World Trade Center

(After 4:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001: US Leaders Determine to Crush Taliban 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] Entity Tags: Pakistan, Richard Armitage, Taliban, Richard A. Clarke, Al-Qaeda, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline, War in Afghanistan Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Richard Clarke, Afghanistan

(4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: WTC Building 7 Area Is Evacuated Due to Anticipated Collapse According to numerous rescue and recovery workers, the area around WTC Building 7 is evacuated at this time. [KANSAS CITY STAR, 3/28/2004] For example:

Emergency medical technician Joseph Fortis says, “They pulled us all back at the time, almost about an hour before it, because they were sure—they knew it was going to come down, but they weren’t sure.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 11/9/2001] 
Firefighter Edward Kennedy says, ” I remember [Chief Visconti] screaming about 7, No. 7, that they wanted everybody away from 7 because 7 was definitely going to collapse.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 1/17/2002] 
Firefighter Vincent Massa: “They were concerned about seven coming down, and they kept changing us, establishing a collapse zone and backing us up.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 12/4/2001] 
Firefighter Tiernach Cassidy: “[B]uilding seven was in eminent collapse. They blew the horns. They said everyone clear the area until we got that last civilian out.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 12/30/2001] 
Battalion Fire Chief John Norman: “I was detailed to make sure the collapse zone for 7 WTC had been set up and was being maintained.” [FIRE ENGINEERING, 10/2002] 

Several New York Fire Department chief officers, who have surveyed Building 7, have apparently determined it is in danger of collapsing. [FIRE ENGINEERING, 9/2002] For example, Fire Chief Daniel Nigro explains their decision-making process, saying, “A number of fire officers and companies assessed the damage to the building. The appraisals indicated that the building’s integrity was in serious doubt. I issued the orders to pull back the firefighters and define the collapse zone.” [FIRE ENGINEERING, 9/2002] Fire Chief Frank Fellini says, “We were concerned that the fires on several floors and the missing steel would result in the building collapsing.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 12/3/2001] And Fire Captain Ray Goldbach says, “[W]e made a decision to take all of our units out of 7 World Trade Center because there was a potential for collapse.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 10/24/2001] However, some firefighters seem surprised at this decision. When Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen is making his way through hundreds of firefighters who are being held away from the WTC site, he hears complaints like, “It could take days for that building to come down,” and, “Why don’t they let us in there?” [ESSEN, 2002, PP. 45] When Deputy Fire Chief Nick Visconti is instructing firefighters to evacuate the area, one comment he receives is, “[O]h, that building is never coming down, that didn’t get hit by a plane, why isn’t somebody in there putting the fire out?” [FIREHOUSE MAGAZINE, 8/2002] Entity Tags: Nick Visconti, Daniel Nigro, Joseph Fortis, John Norman, World Trade Center, Ray Goldbach, Thomas Von Essen, Edward Kennedy, Vincent Massa, Tiernach Cassidy, Frank Fellini Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, WTC Investigation, Key Day of 9/11 Events, World Trade Center

(4:33 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Pilots of Jets Escorting Air Force One Not Notified When President Leaves Offutt Air Base Edit

Fighter pilots who have been escorting Air Force One as it transports President Bush across the US are not informed that the president’s plane is departing Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and have to try and catch up with it after they hear it taking off. The pilots belong to the 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard. Four F-16s from the wing have been escorting Air Force One since before it landed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Pilots Told They Would Be Called When Air Force One Is Leaving - After Air Force One landed at Offutt Air Force Base (see 2:50 p.m. September 11, 2001), the F-16s landed there as well. The fighter pilots then met with Colonel Mark Tillman, the pilot of Air Force One. Tillman asked them about the capabilities of the F-16. He also took down their cell phone numbers and said he would call them when Air Force One would be leaving the base. However, he was unable to tell them where Air Force One would be going next, so the fighter pilots could not file a flight plan. The fighter pilots then headed off to get a snack and a drink. Air Force One Takes Off, Pilots Not Informed - However, they are not informed when Air Force One, with Bush on board, takes off from Offutt (see (4:33 p.m.) September 11, 2001). One of the fighter pilots, Major Shane Brotherton, will later recall: “We were eating our snacks and heard jet noise. It was Air Force One and they’d never called us. We got to the jets and he’s taxiing fast and never stopped. Now we’re taxiing fast and we blast off.” By the time the fighters are airborne, Air Force One is 100 miles ahead of them. Some Iowa Air National Guard fighters from Sioux City are also now airborne to protect the president’s plane, but the 147th Fighter Wing jets continue to follow it. Brotherton will recall: “All across the country we were playing catch up, because [Air Force One] was moving. And we didn’t catch up until we were nearing Washington.” [FILSON, 2003, PP. 87-88] Entity Tags: 147th Fighter Wing, Mark Tillman, Shane Brotherton Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

(4:33 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Air Force One Leaves Nebraska; Heads Toward Washington

This photo of Bush speaking to Cheney shortly after leaving Offutt will later be used for Republican fundraising purposes. [Source: White House] President Bush leaves Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for Washington. [CNN, 9/12/2001; MSNBC, 9/22/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/8/2002] He calls his wife Laura on the phone and tells her, “I’m coming home. See you at the White House. Love you, go on home.” [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 123; WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 28] Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, George Bush

4:54 p.m.-5:10 p.m. September 11, 2001: BBC Reports WTC 7 Collapse Before It Happens

The BBC’s Jane Standley, reporting the collapse of WTC 7 while it is visible still standing behind her. [Source: BBC] Several times, the BBC reports that Building 7 of the World Trade Center has collapsed, when it is in fact still standing. At 4:54 p.m., its domestic television news channel, BBC News 24, reports, “We’re now being told that yet another enormous building has collapsed… it is the 47-story Salomon Brothers building [i.e. WTC 7].” Three minutes later, its international channel, BBC World, reports, “We’ve got some news just coming in actually that the Salomon brothers building in New York right in the heart of Manhattan has also collapsed.” Then, at about 5:10 p.m., BBC World repeats the claim: “I was talking a few moments ago about the Salomon building collapsing and indeed it has… it seems this wasn’t the result of a new attack but because the building had been weakened during this morning’s attack.” Yet WTC 7 does not collapse until 5:20 p.m., over 25 minutes after the BBC first reported it (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). The BBC’s live shot even shows the building still standing in the background, while its collapse is being reported. When these reports come to light early in 2007, Richard Porter, the head of news for BBC World, will suggest the error was due to the “confusing and chaotic situation on the ground” on 9/11. [BBC, 3/2/2007] Starting around 4:15 p.m., CNN and other news outlets had been reporting that WTC 7 was in danger of collapsing or may already have collapsed (see (4:15 p.m.-4:27 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: World Trade Center, British Broadcasting Corporation Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, World Trade Center

(Between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Congressional Leaders Return to Washington from Secure Bunker

Trent Lott. [Source: Publicity photo] Despite having been instructed by Vice President Dick Cheney to remain where they are, Congressional leaders who have been evacuated to a secure bunker outside Washington decide to return to the capital and are then flown back there. [HASTERT, 2004, PP. 10; LOTT, 2005, PP. 222] A number of members of the House and Senate leaderships were evacuated to the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Facility in Bluemont, Virginia, during the morning and early afternoon (see (9:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Between Late Morning and Early Afternoon) September 11, 2001). [ABC NEWS, 9/15/2002] According to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D), who is among this group: “We all felt anxious and frustrated, feeling responsible as Congressional leaders to both communicate and take action, but unable to do either. We talked among ourselves of our concern for our loved ones back in Washington and our need to be with them as soon as possible.” In particular, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R) begins “pressing the people around him—his own security detail and the facility’s personnel—about his strong desire to get back to Washington.” [DASCHLE AND D'ORSO, 2003, PP. 115] However, during a teleconference, Vice President Cheney told the leaders they could not leave Mount Weather (see (Between 2:50 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] Lott will recall that, in spite of this, he makes the decision to go back to Washington and arranges for this to happen: “I’d finally had enough. I told my ground security to leave for the Capitol, and now—‘because I’m not spending the night here.’ I had this decision radioed back to the vice president’s people, and the others pulling the strings. They finally relented and arranged to have us ferried back to the Capitol by helicopter.” [LOTT, 2005, PP. 222] But House Speaker Dennis Hastert will say he in fact is responsible for making this decision, and that he then tells his colleagues: “Hey, it’s up to us. We need to stand together, go back to Washington and show people that we are standing together.” The leaders are flown back to Washington at around 6:00 p.m. [DASCHLE AND D'ORSO, 2003, PP. 116; HASTERT, 2004, PP. 10] Entity Tags: Trent Lott, Tom Daschle, Mount Weather, Dennis Hastert Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(5:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Parallels Drawn Between 9/11 Attacks and Tom Clancy Bestseller

Tom Clancy. [Source: UPI] CNN’s Judy Woodruff remarks, “People in our newsroom have been saying today that what is happening is like right out of a Tom Clancy novel.” [CNN, 9/11/2001] James Lindsay, a former member of the Clinton administration’s national security team, subsequently comments on the attacks, “People both inside and outside the government would think this is more the stuff of a Tom Clancy novel than reality.” [WASHINGTON POST, 9/12/2001] Clancy had in fact written a book called Debt of Honor, released in 1994, that included a plotline of a suicide pilot deliberately crashing a Boeing 747 into the US Capitol building (see August 17, 1994). Presumably influenced by this book, Senator Sam Nunn (D) had outlined a similar scenario the following year, which he’d said was “not far-fetched” (see April 3, 1995). Some commentators will later refer to Clancy’s book when criticizing official claims of surprise at the nature of the 9/11 attacks. Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was in the Pentagon when it was struck, will write, “I thought most people in the military read Tom Clancy novels in the 1990s. And yet, military leaders and spokespersons consistently expressed shock and surprise at such a possibility.… Was Tom Clancy really more savvy than the entire Pentagon?” [GRIFFIN AND SCOTT, 2006, PP. 27] Newsday columnist James Pinkerton later comments, “insofar as Clancy is one of the best-selling authors in the country with a particularly large following among military types, it’s a depressing commentary on military intelligence that Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, could say, a month [after 9/11], to the American Forces Radio and Television Service, ‘You hate to admit it, but we hadn’t thought about this.’” [NEWSDAY, 5/20/2002] Entity Tags: Tom Clancy Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(5:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Members of Congress Communicate over Telephone, Agree to Reconvene Next Day Congressional leaders who have been evacuated to a secure bunker in Virginia speak with other members of Congress back in Washington, and decide Congress will reconvene the following morning. [DASCHLE AND D'ORSO, 2003, PP. 116; LOTT, 2005, PP. 221] Members of the House and Senate leaderships were evacuated to the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Facility in Bluemont, Virginia, during the morning and early afternoon (see (9:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Between Late Morning and Early Afternoon) September 11, 2001). [ABC NEWS, 9/15/2002] Other senators and representatives have spent the day at the Capitol Police headquarters back in Washington. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/12/2001] About 50 of them are now assembled in a first-floor conference room and speak by telephone with the leaders at Mount Weather. They all discuss when Congress should reconvene, with some wanting to do so this evening. It is decided that Congress will not reconvene until the following morning, but the leaders will return to Washington this evening, and then leaders and members will appear together to announce to the press that they will be back in session the next day. [DASCHLE AND D'ORSO, 2003, PP. 116; LOTT, 2005, PP. 221] The Congressional leaders will return to Washington around 6:00 p.m. (see (Between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001) and their press conference is held around 7:25 (see 7:24 p.m. September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/11/2001; HASTERT, 2004, PP. 10] Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events

(5:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Firefighter Tells Reporter that WTC Building 7 Will Collapse Soon Mark Jacobson, a reporter for New York Magazine, later recounts an encounter he has about this time. Walking through the ruins of the World Trade Center complex, he sits down next to a weary and dust covered firefighter. The firefighter points to WTC Building 7, perhaps 400 yards away, and says, “That building is coming down.” Jacobson asks when and the firefighter responds, “Tonight. Maybe tomorrow morning.” Jacobson watches as the building collapses about five minutes later. [NEW YORK MAGAZINE, 3/20/2006] Entity Tags: Mark Jacobson Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, WTC Investigation, World Trade Center


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

Late Afternoon September 11, 2001: Boeing 757 Permitted to Fly FBI Agents from San Francisco to Washington A Boeing 757 takes off from San Francisco, California, to transport a group of FBI agents to Washington, DC. United Airlines Flight 8811 is carrying 75 FBI agents and 14,000 pounds of equipment across the US. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 279] The agents are presumably the members of an anti-terrorist task force who were reported to be “out of place” at the time of the terrorist attacks, away from Washington in Monterey, California, where they had been participating in a training exercise (see 10:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). [NBC 4, 9/11/2001; USA TODAY, 9/11/2001] Flight 8811 has received approval to take off from NORAD headquarters. It is one of the first non-military aircraft to be permitted to take off since NORAD implemented a limited version of a plan called “SCATANA,” which gave the military control over US airspace (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). After taking off, the plane’s pilot, Captain Barry Nance, is cleared “direct” across the country. As he flies to Washington, Nance hears just three other aircraft over the radio, all of them military fighter jets. [AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 6/3/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 279] Flight 8811 reaches Washington just after midnight and lands at Reagan National Airport. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 282; LYNN SPENCER, 2008] Entity Tags: Barry Nance, Federal Bureau of Investigation, North American Aerospace Defense Command Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events


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