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 
authorities.
    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 
Burnett, Jr.
    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 
management designs.
    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 
        scrambling aircraft?"
   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 
9:27.
    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 
commander----

    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

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