|On Telling The Truth
On July 30, 2004, 8 days after the 571-page 9/11 Commission Report had been published, and before practically anyone had finished reading it, but after so many politicians and pundits had praised it, one U.S. Senator, Mark Dayton, got it right.
This statement by the U.S. Senator never received anywhere near the attention it deserves. It should have been the jumping-off point for serious debate over the value and validity of the 9/11 Commission Report, but it wasn't. It was basically only reported in one 'mainstream' publication, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and once that article lapsed from their current on-line edition, it was not reported anywhere except on a handful of non-mainstream web sites.
That didn't seem right. But then, once we actually read all of what Senator Dayton said, we realized that even that Star Tribune article did not do it justice. It appears as though Senator Dayton had grown so tired of being lied to that he was on the verge of becoming, or had already become, a 9/11 skeptic.
Senator Dayton was just getting to the part about the unconstitutional chain of military command within the Executive branch which evidently occurred on 9/11, when he was interrupted by the clock.
The following is an excerpt from the officially published transcript of MAKING AMERICA SAFER: EXAMINING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE 9/11 COMMISSION.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR DAYTON
Senator Dayton: Thank you, Madam Chairman. I also want to
commend you for holding this hearing in swift response to the
9/11 Commission's report.
Mr. Chairman and Mr. Co-Chairman, I want to say again to
you that we are all indebted to you and to the other members of
your Commission and your staff for this critically important
work that you have provided the Nation.
It is a profoundly disturbing report because it chronicles,
in excruciating detail, the terrible attack against our
homeland, the despicable murder of so many American citizens,
and the horrible destruction to countless other lives and
liberties throughout this Nation and because of the utter
failure to defend them by their Federal Government, by their
leaders and the institutions that were entrusted to do so, and
because of serious discrepancies between the facts that you
have set forth and what was told to the American people, the
Members of Congress and to your own Commission by some of those
There is way too much to cover here, but I will begin.
According to your report, the first of the four airliner
hijackings occurred on September 11 at 8:14 a.m, Eastern time.
At 10:03 a.m., almost 2 hours later--an hour and 49 minutes, to
exact--the fourth and last plane crashed before reaching its
intended target, the U.S. Capitol, because of the incredible
heroism of its passengers, including Minnesota native, Thomas
During those entire 109 minutes, to my reading of your
report, this country and its citizens were completely
undefended. Yes, it was a surprise attack. It was
unprecedented. Yes, it exposed serious flaws in, as you have
noted, our imaginations, our policies, capabilities, and
But what I find much more shocking and alarming were the
repeated and catastrophic failures of the leaders in charge and
the other people responsible to do their jobs, to follow
established procedures, to follow direct orders from civilian
and military commanders, and then they failed to tell us the
truth later. It does not matter whether they were Republicans,
Democrats or neither. It matters what they did or did not do.
According to your findings, FAA authorities failed to
inform the military command, NORAD, the North American
Aerospace Defense Command, about three of the four hijackings
until after the planes had crashed into their targets at the
second World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the ground in
Pennsylvania, which was not their target.
The direct FAA notification of the military occurred
regarding the first plane 23 minutes after it was hijacked and
only 9 minutes before it struck the first World Trade Tower.
NORAD then scrambled one of only two sets of fighter planes on
alert in the entire Eastern third of the country--one in
Massachusetts, one in Virginia--but it didn't know where to
send them because the hijackers had turned off the plane's
transponder so NORAD could not locate it on their radar. And
they were still looking for it when it exploded into its target
at 8:46 a.m.
The second hijacking began, according to your report, one
minute later. NORAD was not notified until the same minute that
the plane struck the second World Trade Tower. It was 5 more
minutes before NORAD's mission commander learned about that
explosion, which was 5 minutes after thousands of Americans saw
it on live television.
By this time, the third plane's transponder was off.
Communication had been severed. Yet it was 15 minutes before
the flight controller decided to notify the regional FAA
center, which in turn did not inform FAA Headquarters for
another 15 minutes. So, at that point, 9:25 a.m., FAA's
National Command Center knew that there were two hijacked
planes that had crashed into the two World Trade Centers and a
third plane had stopped communicating and disappeared from its
primary radar. Yet no one at the FAA Headquarters asked for
military assistance with that plane either.
NORAD was unaware the plane had even been hijacked until
after it crashed into the Pentagon at 9:34. This is just
unbelievable negligence. It does not matter if we spend $550
billion annually on our national defense, if we reorganize our
intelligence or if we restructure congressional oversight if
people do not pick up a phone to call one another, if we are
not told that somebody needs a new radar system or does not
install it when it is provided.
And this was not an occasional human error failure. This
was nothing but human error and failure to follow establishd
procedures and to use common sense. And, unfortunately, the
chronicle is not over. NORAD mission commander ordered his only
three other planes on alert in Virginia to scramble and fly
north to Baltimore. Minutes later, when he was told that a
plane was approaching Washington, he learned that the planes
were flying east over the Atlantic Ocean, away from Baltimore
and Boston, so that when the third plane struck the Pentagon,
NORAD's fighters were 150 miles away, farther than they were
before they took off.
By then, FAA's Command Center had learned of the fourth
hijacking and called FAA Headquarters, specifically asking that
they contact the military at 9:36 a.m. And at 9:46 a.m., the
FAA Command Center updated FAA Headquarters that United Flight
93 was "twenty-nine minutes out of Washington, D.C."
Three minutes later, your document records this following
conversation of the FAA Command Center to the Headquarters:
Command Center: "Uh, do we want to, uh, think about
FAA Headquarters: "Oh, God, I don't know."
Command Center: "That's a decision somebody's going
to have to make probably in the next 10 minutes."
FAA Headquarters: "Uh, yeah, you know, everybody just
left the room."
At 10:03, United Flight 93 crashed into Pennsylvania farm
soil, and nobody from the FAA Headquarters had contacted the
military. NORAD did not know that this fourth plane was
hijacked until after it crashed 35 minutes later. The fighter
planes had reached Washington 7 minutes after that crashed, and
they were told by the mission commander, "Negative clearance
to shoot the aircraft over the Nation's capital."
Yet 1 week after September 11, in response to initial
reports that the military failed to defend our domestic
airspace during the hijacks, NORAD issued an official
chronology which stated that the FAA notified NORAD of the
second hijacking at 8:43--wrong. FAA notified NORAD of the
third hijacking at 9:24--according to your report-- wrong. FAA
notified NORAD of the fourth hijacking at an unspecified time
and that prior to the crash in Pennsylvania Langley F-16 combat
air control planes were in place, remaining in place to protect
Washington, DC. All untrue.
In public testimony before your 9/11 Commission, in May
2003, NORAD officials stated, I assume under oath, that at
9:16, they had received the hijack notification of United
Flight 93 from the FAA. That hijacking did not occur until
9:28. There was a routine cockpit transmission recovered at
And in that testimony before you, NORAD officials stated
also that at 9:24 they received notice of the hijacking of the
third plane, American Flight 77. Also, untrue, according to
your report, which states that NORAD was never notified that
flight was hijacked.
NORAD officials testified that they scrambled the Langley,
Virginia, fighters to respond to those two hijackings. Yet tape
recordings of both NORAD and FAA both reportedly documented
that the order to scramble was in response to an inaccurate FAA
report that American Flight 11 had not hit the first World
Trade Tower and was headed to Washington. That erroneous alert
was transmitted by the FAA at 9:24 a.m., 38 minutes after that
airplane had exploded into the World Trade Tower.
Yet NORAD's public chronology on 9/18/01, and their
Commission testimony 20 minutes later, covered up those truths.
They lied to the American people. They lied to Congress, and
they lied to your 9/11 Commission to create a false impression
of competence, communication, coordination, and protection of
the American people.
And we can set up all of the oversight possible, at great
additional cost to the American taxpayers, and it will not be
worth an Enron pension if the people responsible lie to us, if
they take their records and doctor them into falsehoods and if
they get away with it. Because for almost 3 years now NORAD
officials and FAA officials have been able to hide their
critical failures that left this country defenseless during two
of the worst hours in our history, and I believe that President
Bush must call those responsible for those representations to
account. If the Commission's accounts are correct, he should
fire whoever at FAA, at NORAD or anywhere else betrayed their
public trust by not telling us the truth. And then he should
clear up a few discrepancies of his own.
Four months after September 11, on January 27, 2002, the
Washington Post's Dan Balz and Bob Woodward authored an,
"Insider's Retrospective on Top Administration Officials'
Actions on 9/11 and Thereafter."
They reported that very shortly after the Pentagon was
struck at 9:34, "Pentagon officials ordered up the Airborne
Command Post used only in national emergencies. They sent up
Combat Air Patrol in the Washington area and a fighter escort
for Air Force One." Secretary Rumsfeld was portrayed as,
"taking up his post in the National Military Command Center,"
and all of that reportedly occurred before 9:55 a.m. Right
thereafter, "Bush then talked to Rumsfeld to clarify the
procedures military pilots should follow before firing on
attack planes. With Bush's approval, Rumsfeld passed the order
down the chain of command."
This was supposedly taking place, according to that
article, before the fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania at
10:03. It looks very impressive. The President is acting
swiftly and decisively, giving orders to the Secretary of
Defense and on down the chain of command, Combat Air Patrol
planes are patrolling Washington directed by an Airborne
Command Post all before 10:03 a.m.
However, according to your Commission, President Bush spoke
to Secretary Rumsfeld for the first time that morning shortly
after 10 a.m. Based on White House notes and Ari Fleischer
notes of the conversation, the Commission's report states that
it was a brief call, in which the subject of shoot-down
authority was not discussed.
The Commission then states that the Secretary of Defense
did not join the National Military Command Center's conference
call until just before 10:30 a.m. The Secretary himself told
the Commission he was just gaining situational awareness when
he spoke with the Vice President at 10:39 a.m. That transcript
is on page 23--on page 43. My time is out, but it reflects the
Vice President's honest mistaken belief that he had given an
order, after talking with the President, to shoot down any
plane that would not divert. Yet, incredibly, the NORAD
Chairman Collins: The Senator's time has expired.
Senator Dayton: I am just going to finish this, if I may.
Yet, incredibly, the NORAD commander did not pass that order on
to the fighter planes because he was "unsure how the pilots
would or should proceed with this guidance."
As you say, Mr. Co-Chairman, the situation is urgent when
we do not get protected in those circumstances, and it is even
worse when it is covered up. Thank you.
Chairman Collins: Senator Fitzgerald.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR FITZGERALD