Sourcebook on 9/11 and its Aftermath
FAA, NORAD, Cellphones, Flight 93
11 September 2007
Table of Contents
There is no way that an aircraft on instrument flight plans (all commercial flights are IFR) would not be intercepted when they deviate from their flight plan, turn off their transponders, or stop communication with Air Traffic Control. No way! With very bad luck, perhaps one could slip by, but no,
there's no way all four of them could! (Capt. Daniel Davis, former NORAD Tac Director. Www.PatriotsQuestion9/11.com.)
In all four planes, if you remember, none of the planes ever switched on their transponder to the hijack code. There's a very, very simple code that you put in if you suspect that your plane is being hijacked. It takes literally just a split-second for you to put your hand down on the center console and flip it over. And not one of the four planes ever transponded a hijack code, which is most, most unusual. (Statement of Commander Ted Muga, U.S. Navy (ret), Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded from http://www,patriotsquestion911.com, 12 August 2007.)
On September 11, I’m one of the few people who was in really for quite a few hours of the whole event taking place and just simply knew that it was an inside job. …
The FAA was not asleep, … the controllers and the controller desk was not asleep, they did their job, they followed their own protocols. …
The bottom line is that the only way that those airliners could not have been intercepted is if there had been a major system failure, meaning electrical telecommunications, you know, a backhoe had just dug up all of the cables and nobody could talk to anybody, whatever, which is a huge coincidence if it would happen. …
But that didn’t happen. There is no way. …
American 11, 175, 93, and then 77, there is just no way they would have been able to be successful at their missions if there were any type of standard at all, if all of the equipment were available.
I knew within hours of the attacks on 9/11/2001 that it was an inside job. Based on my 11-year experience as an FAA Air Traffic Controller in the busy Northeast corridor, including hundreds of hours of training, briefings, air refuelings, low altitude bombing drills, being part of huge military exercises, daily military training exercises, interacting on a routine basis directly with NORAD radar personnel, and based on my own direct experience dealing with in-flight emergency situations, including two instances of hijacked commercial airliners, I state unequivocally: There is absolutely no way that four large commercial airliners could have flown around off course for 30 to 60 minutes on 9/11 without being intercepted and shot completely out of the sky by our jet fighters unless very highly placed people in our government and our military wanted it to happen. (Robin Hordon, Former FAA Air Traffic Controller at the
And as far as American 11, what bothers me is that I know … and I believe, that the controllers handling American 11 just knew something was seriously wrong as soon as it stopped responding and then, bang, it lost its primary target and then it’s on another routing.
You know, you absolutely know, OK, that there is significant and serious trouble going on in that flight right at that moment. …
And so the protocol on American 11 is it’s not a hijacker because that did not really occur as being a hijacker until somebody heard some possible voices or whatever. Well before that time, American 11 was really in significant trouble and the emergency aircraft protocol that air traffic controllers have, OK, calls for taking immediate action to deal with the situation and what you do is you don’t wait for the judge, jury and executioner to prove it’s emergency. …
If things start to go wrong you have the authority to simply say, OK, I am going to treat this craft as though it is an emergency because if everybody is wrong, fifteen minutes later, no big thing. …
I think there’s another set of protocols that go on. But before that, I don’t want to talk about when they discover or decide or somebody decides that it’s a hijack because, number one, you want to tell me exactly what it is, the evidence you will need that will prove that it’s a hijack? The only way that you can get absolute proof that it’s a hijack is for the captain of the airplane or some replacement to say that this aircraft is hijacked. …
The FAA, NORAD, the government, OK, what I call the high perps, the people who were, who perpetrated this whole thing at high levels, the high perps, what they want us to focus on is the hijack issue. …
That’s not what I focus on.
The air traffic controller is responding to the emergency condition of that aircraft well before he even thinks of it as being a hijack because they deal with aircraft in emergencies like this, not all the time, but often enough to understand that there needs to be another protocol. And then you boom, boom, boom, you try to get contact, you try the company, you try other aircraft in the area, you check stuff out.
And as the testimony in front of the 9/11 Commission admits, OK, NORAD admits that they saw when American 11 lost its transponder. Now they don’t jump out and do what they are protocoled to do.
My position is that this controller at the center followed the emergency aircraft protocol and started to reach out beforehand. And those are the communications in the tapes that have not been made available.
The only focus has been on the hijack protocol. … It’s a different protocol after an emergency.
What the American … what the controller was seeing at
The whole system [was notified after American 11 was declared a hijacking]. And this has been admitted to … the fact … I mean,
Now I want to remind people that there hadn’t been an active hijacking in what? a decade or something like that. So lemme just tell ya, even if they had walkie-talkies in the men’s rooms, OK, of all the air-traffic facilities across this country, if this unusual and highly-volatile event had occurred, there were enough experienced controllers to just spread this word like you couldn’t believe. …
This was information that’s like unbelievable, did you hear this? And bang, it’s across the system and it was formally across the system. …
And it was acknowledged by the terrible tapes … the insufficient tapes and testimony that was presented to the 9/11 Commission … that indeed the system was alerted so everybody knew. …
The problem was because of the hijacking protocol that was now into place ... and this is what happens … you get these hijackers, you get these circumstances that you’re not particularly familiar with, you break out your books. When you break out your books…
… the system now had to make some phone calls into … let’s call it … Rummy’s Pentagon. And Rummy’s Pentagon is the one that would then make the decision.
Well, Rummy’s Pentagon on American 11 didn’t answer the phone. Neither 175: didn’t answer the phone. I maintain they didn’t answer the phone until they absolutely were embarrassed into answering the phone somewhere along the flight of United 93 and American 77. Our first formal contact was at this particular time.
That is all distractionary. That is all designed to keep people off the focus. The real focus is what the air traffic controller did immediately upon seeing that American 11 was in trouble. And what we do as air traffic controllers is we get eyes and ears on this flight. We reach out and we hit the buttons, the communications buttons, between NORAD, which I will call ADC, Air Defence Command, OK, and we start to point out the targets and we say, what do you see? They admitted that they saw American 11 lose its transponder. They knew it. They saw it. That’s what they do. They monitor.
So my feeling is this. If the air traffic controller was going by emergency procedures, which he is trained to do, he would have reached out directly, OK, to ADC [Air Defence Command] and somebody and say, what do you see? I got a high-speed target, he says. It’s last reported at this altitude. It’s northwest, he’s x number of miles northeast of Albany, north of Keene, whatever it might be, heading … in this direction. …
As soon as American 11 was considered to be hijacked, the entire FAA system from coast to coast, all facilities, OK, ah, enroute centers, OK, approach tracons, and towers were all, would be normally all informed. …
So when this hot potato comes across their teletype or comes onto their e-mail message, OK, they have protocols, they have procedures. They are to take that information and immediately dispense it to the supervisors covering all of the sectors and all of the airspace in there. ..
They already understood after American 11. …
Let’s say that at arbitrarily 8:30, let’s just make it arbitrary and say 8:30, somebody there said, OK, this is a hijacking, at that point that other hijacking protocol kicks into place. That calls for the national FAA system to be notified. Now let’s say it’s 8:34, maybe 8:35. I’m going to tell you straight out. Every air traffic controller and flight service station position in this country was probably notified by their supervisor. They don’t mess around. They get that information out to them.
So let’s say it’s now 8:35. The entire system is notified that, OK, to be on alert for hijacked aircraft, aircraft acting strangely. OK? That means from what I understand about the timing, that as soon as United 175 started to do its dippity-do in the sky that the air traffic controller sitting there already would have been briefed as would his area supervisor.
And indeed that is in fact testified to. Because as soon as United 175 started to do a major course change and couldn’t be raised, bang, OK? the guy said, I think I’ve got a hijacking here too.
The only way that he could have come to that conclusion, Rob, was that he was pre-informed to look out for suspicious-behaving aircraft. (
Q: Dissenters also seem to find it suspect that in a dire emergency, individuals and agencies bumbled, fumbled, delayed, dropped the ball or choked. Won't that occur in any emergency?
David Ray Griffin: Well, of course, that is the official theory. It's a coincidence theory that just happened to be that on those days, everybody became terribly incompetent. Take the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration]. They've got these standard procedures: If a plane goes off course, if you lose radio contact or lose the transponder, you call the military. On this day we're told these FAA officials hit the trifecta. They got all three of these things, and yet they would stand around debating, "Should we call the military? No, I don't think so." And when they finally call, the people at headquarters won't accept their calls because they were in conference or wouldn't pass the call on. They have roughly about 100 hijack warnings a year where planes have to be scrambled, but suddenly they become just all thumbs. The whole thing is just implausible. The other thing is, if you've got accidents, screw-ups, some ought to go one way and the others the other way. Here everything goes the same way. Everybody fails to do their jobs in relation to something to do with 9/11. (Mark Ehrman, “Getting Agnostic about 9/11,”
They [NORAD] lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 Commission. ... For almost three 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. (Statement of Senator Mark Dayton, former U.S. Senator from Minnesota 2001 – 2006; Member, Senate Committee on Armed Services and Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Services, Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded from http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/, 16 Aug. 2007.)
How was it that it took over an hour after the first transponder went off before planes were scrambled to meet the threat? All of them too late. (Statement of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, former 6-term Congresswoman from Georgia 1993 - 2002, 2005 – 2006; member of the House Armed Services Committee and Member of the International Relations Committee, Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded from http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/, 16 Aug. 2007.)
A: The thing I question on 9/11 was simply the fact; where were our planes? When all this was going on and planes were being hijacked an hour apart and there were four of them They cover about a six-hour space. At no time, to my knowledge, did we have any fighter planes up in the air. Why? ...
In light of the fact that there was a cover-up that got us into the Viet Nam war and there was, in my opinion, a cover-up of John Kennedy's assassination, I would just say that I don't believe it's beyond reason to not at least consider that the government certainly would do things like that.
One of the points I wanted to talk about is one of the things that came through in the Vanity Fair issue, which is that NORAD can’t do anything, ADC can’t do anything, unless they get latitudes or coordinates, OK, of the particular aircraft, and insinuating that the aircraft involved, all but American 77, were not radar-identified all the way through their flight.
Well, it’s very clear now through testimony and documents given to us by the federal government, that indeed … and testimony in front of [the] 9/11 [Commission] that was kind of a little slipped into there that nobody picked up … that the Boston Center actually tracked American 11 as a primary target after it lost its radar, after it lost its transponder, all the way to World Trade Center. It tracked it.
Further information later indicates that the ADC radars or NORAD radars had it tracked, OK, because they could tell some possible altitudes about it so American 11 was tracked all the way. …
The bottom line is that that aircraft never lost real tracking. 93 is basically the same. And the only one we really lost was American 77.
And people will come eventually in this project to understand, or into [sic] this movement, to understand, that, when American 77, being the only aircraft that actually lost target, we lost its radar return, primary and secondary, in the mountains of, I think, West Virginia, that type of area, OK, it’s going to really play a big role.
The bottom line of the story is all of those aircraft were always tracked all the time by the Boston [sic] … by the FAA air traffic control centers and my position is, if we really got the tapes from all of the sectors, we would find that the sector controllers would have reached out to the military, the Air Defence Command guys, and started doing the point-outs.
The reason we’re not getting that information and the reason that it’s locked down is because that puts the finger and responsibility right onto Rummy’s military because I maintain they knew where all of these aircraft were all of the time with the one exception that, ah, once American 11’s radar … excuse me, 77’s radar, was lost west of West Virginia, out in Indianapolis Center some place, that, uhm, that the radar targets that emerged west of Dulles was [sic] never positively identified by anybody anywhere at any time, as actually being American Airlines, Flight 77. It was only identified as ….
Q: It was simply identified as the target that hit the Pentagon.
A: That’s correct, OK. But every other target was fundamentally tracked right into where it crashed. So when NORAD or anybody else says, well, we couldn’t find them in this maze of whatever, excuse me, the bottom line is you had some FAA personnel who tracked the aircraft who were on the line, pointing these aircraft out to you in reference to known geographical positions.
Ah, that’s why we don’t have the tapes. That’s why we don’t have some of the flight data recorders that many people said have been found. This is why we don’t have the evidence that was carted away and trucked away from the bottom of the
Additionally this is why the, uhm, the civilian air traffic control personnel have been muted. Their voices have been completely shut down by the government. …
Instead what they did is they cherry-picked transmissions, communications and statements made all along these four flights that were able to paint and write a story that the public would look at and say, ooh wow, this really happened. Blah blah blah.
But it wasn’t factual. It was a story. And it did not tell anything other than what, OK, the high perps wanted the public to hear. They cherry-picked this information. (
Question to David Ray Griffin: What was your first major tip-off that something might be inaccurate in the reporting of the events of that day?
David Ray Griffin: Mainly I was focusing on the question of, “Why no interceptions?” Why, with the most sophisticated air defense system in the world, nobody scrambled to stop these planes from flying into the various targets. We have standard operating procedures that evidently work flawlessly about 100 times a year, where planes are scrambled and there are interceptions made within 10 to 15 minutes of the first sign there’s anything wrong (the three standard signs are they lose radio contact, the transponder goes off or the plane deviates from its course).
If they can’t get it corrected within about a minute they contact the military, and the military calls NORAD and has them scramble a couple of fighters from the closest airbase that has fighters on alert—these are all over the country and these planes can go very fast and so normally it only takes about 10 or 15 minutes. And here, 20 minutes, 40 minutes with the Pentagon—nothing happened.
So that was the first evidence I focused on that suggested it wasn’t just a matter of foreknowledge but was actual complicity in the attacks, ordering a stand down (not taking action). Because the other evidence that I looked at early on was all the evidence of foreknowledge and of actual interference with investigations. (“Interview with David Ray Griffin,” Whole Life Times, downloaded from http://wholelifetimes.com/2006/09/griffin0609.html, 7 August 2007.)
The thing I question on 9/11 was simply the fact; where were our planes? When all this was going on and planes were being hijacked an hour apart and there were four of them They cover about a six-hour space. At no time, to my knowledge, did we have any fighter planes up in the air. Why? ...
In light of the fact that there was a cover-up that got us into the Viet Nam war and there was, in my opinion, a cover-up of John Kennedy's assassination, I would just say that I don't believe it's beyond reason to not at least consider that the government certainly would do things like that. (Statement of Gov. Jesse Ventura, Governor of Minnesota 1999 – 2003, Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded from http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/, 16 Aug. 2007.)
At first, again, I wanted to believe 9/11, you know. But the problem I have with 9/11 is just a real simple one. I'm trying to figure out -- and of course they're now attempting to answer it somewhat -- how we could have failed so miserably in not having air defense. ...
And the problem I have with 9/11 is that. Where the heck was our defense? Who was sleeping at the wheel? While all of these planes... I mean, I've been to air traffic control when I was Governor, and you've got a dozen people there looking at these dials, watching every plane in their sector. They know where it's going and they know what direction it's supposed to be going
Now, how is it that these planes were able to be hijacked at half hour intervals, turned directly opposite the way they're supposed to be going and no bells went off, no emergency sirens went off, no fighter jets were scrambled? Just what the hell happened in that area of time?! And that's the part that troubles me about 9/11. ...
I mean here's the Pentagon, the head of our military. How was this plane able to circle the city of
Mary Schiavo, JD – Former Inspector General,
"Ms. [Mary] Schiavo sat in on the commission's hearing on aviation security on 9/11 and was disgusted by what it left out. "In any other situation, it would be unthinkable to withhold investigative material from an independent commission," she told this writer. "There are usually grave consequences. But the commission is clearly not talking to everybody or not telling us everything." ...
The timeline that is most disturbing belongs to the last of the four suicide missions -- United Airlines Flight 93, later presumed destined for the U.S. Capitol, if not the White House. Huge discrepancies persist in basic facts, such as when it crashed into the
Up to a seven-minute discrepancy? In terms of an air disaster, seven minutes is close to an eternity. The way our nation has historically treated any airline tragedy is to pair up recordings from the cockpit and air-traffic control and parse the timeline down to the hundredths of a second. But as Mary Schiavo points out, "We don't have an NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation here, and they ordinarily dissect the timeline to the thousandth of a second." http://www.ratical.org. (Downloaded from Patriots Question 9/11, http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/#Schiavo, 31 July 2007.)
Q: Why were standard operating procedures for dealing with hijacked airliners not followed that day?
A: On May 31, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld signed a sweeping change in those SOP which, among other things, required his prior authorization before fighter interceptors could be scrambled. (9/11Truth.org, Answers to 9/11 Families’ Questions, posted 20 July 2007 at http://blogs.albawaba.com/post/2011/73057, downloaded August 6, 2007.)
In all my years of direct and indirect participation, I never witnessed nor even heard of an aircraft loss, where the wreckage was accessible, that prevented investigators from finding enough hard evidence to positively identify the make, model, and specific registration number of the aircraft -- and in most cases the precise cause of the accident. ...
The government alleges that four wide-body airliners crashed on the morning of September 11 2001, resulting in the deaths of more than 3,000 human beings, yet not one piece of hard aircraft evidence has been produced in an attempt to positively identify any of the four aircraft. On the contrary, it seems only that all potential evidence was deliberately kept hidden from public view. …
With all the evidence readily available at the Pentagon crash site, any unbiased rational investigator could only conclude that a Boeing 757 did not fly into the Pentagon as alleged. Similarly, with all the evidence available at the
As painful and heartbreaking as was the loss of innocent lives and the lingering health problems of thousands more, a most troublesome and nightmarish probability remains that so many Americans appear to be involved in the most heinous conspiracy in our country's history. (Statement of Col. George Nelson, M.B.A., Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/, 6 August 2007.)
Press conference statement 6/10/02: "First of all, the question is not 'What they should have known?' And I believe I can show you in just a few seconds the question is, 'What did they know?' And believe me, they knew a lot.
The second thing to emphasize is that in every single aviation disaster, whether there was intervening criminal activity or not, in every single one in the course of modern aviation history it has been followed by, not only were it necessary, a criminal investigation, but also a National Transportation Safety investigation into what went wrong in the aviation system. And the reason for that is so that it never happens again. [Editor's Note: The NTSB never conducted full investigations of the four plane crashes on 9/11. The NTSB's official position for each plane involved on 9/11 is, "The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Safety Board provided requested technical assistance to the FBI, and this material generated by the NTSB is under the control of the FBI. The Safety Board does not plan to issue a report or open a public docket."]
This is the first time, and this is the worst disaster, but this is the first time that families have been attempted to be silenced through a special fund, which I believe is about silence more so than about money. Why? ...
And from my rounds on the Hill to find these facts and others, I found that the airlines approached members of Congress and the Senate to get their bailout and their immunity and their protection starting on 9/11. They sent their first lobbyist up to the Hill on 9/11. And this has been confirmed to me personally by Senators and members of Congress. Now to me that's very shocking but to me it raises another question, why? Why did they have to rush to the Hill to change the law? ...
So in the wake of September 11, 2001, when we heard the carriers and governments alike saying, “Oh, no one could have foreseen this. No one knew that this was coming. No one knew that there was any risk like this in the world,” is absolutely false. ...
In the last thirty years we have had 682 hijackings. 682. Here's an interesting statistic. When we had the
In the Q&A section: "We did have another plot in the
And I, for one, happen to agree that the warnings were very fairly specific. June 22nd FAA issued a bulletin that had concerns about terrorism. July 2nd FAA told the airlines the man involved in the millennium plot had intention of using explosives in terminal buildings. July 18th the FAA issued a bulletin that said there are terrorist threats and we urge you to use caution. July 31 that there are going to be terror groups planning and training for hijacking. Use caution. And finally August 16th disguised weapons.
So I think the warning signs were not only ample but specific and there was previous attacks where planes were going to be used to crash into buildings. So only the government can probably answer now at this point why they didn't take them seriously."
The 9/11 Commission's Report provides an almost visual description of the Arab hijackers. It depicts in minute detail events occurring inside the cabin of the four hijacked planes.
In the absence of surviving passengers, this "corroborating evidence", was based on passengers' cell and air phone conversations with their loved ones. According to the Report, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was only recovered in the case of one of the flights (UAL 93).
Focusing on the personal drama of the passengers, the Commission has built much of its narrative around the phone conversations. The Arabs are portrayed with their knives and box cutters, scheming in the name of Allah, to bring down the planes and turn them "into large guided missiles" (Report, Chapter 1, http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/9/11Report_Ch1.pdf ).
The Technology of Wireless Transmission
The Report conveys the impression that cell phone ground-to-air communication from high altitude was of reasonably good quality, and that there was no major impediment or obstruction in wireless transmission.
Some of the conversations were with onboard air phones, which contrary to the cell phones provide for good quality transmission. The report does not draw a clear demarcation between the two types of calls.
More significantly, what this carefully drafted script fails to mention is that, given the prevailing technology in September 2001, it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to place a wireless cell call from an aircraft traveling at high speed above 8000 feet:
"Wireless communications networks weren't designed for ground-to-air communication. Cellular experts privately admit that they're surprised the calls were able to be placed from the hijacked planes, and that they lasted as long as they did. They speculate that the only reason that the calls went through in the first place is that the aircraft were flying so close to the ground ( http://www.elliott.org/technology/2001/cellpermit.htm
Expert opinion within the wireless telecom industry casts serious doubt on "the findings" of the 9/11 Commission. According to Alexa Graf, a spokesman of AT&T, commenting in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks:
"it was almost a fluke that the [9/11] calls reached their destinations... From high altitudes, the call quality is not very good, and most callers will experience drops. Although calls are not reliable, callers can pick up and hold calls for a little while below a certain altitude" (http://wirelessreview.com/ar/wireless_final_contact/)
New Wireless Technology
While serious doubts regarding the cell calls were expressed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a new landmark in the wireless telecom industry has further contributed to upsetting the Commission's credibility. Within days of the release of the 9/11 Commission Report in July, American Airlines and Qualcomm, proudly announced the development of a new wireless technology --which will at some future date allow airline passengers using their cell phones to contact family and friends from a commercial aircraft (no doubt at a special rate aerial roaming charge) (see http://www.qualcomm.com/press/releases/2004/040715_aa_testflight.html )
"Travelers could be talking on their personal cellphones as early as 2006. Earlier this month [July 2004], American Airlines conducted a trial run on a modified aircraft that permitted cell phone calls." (WP, July 27, 2004)
Aviation Week (07/20/04) described this new technology in an authoritative report published in July 2004:
"Qualcomm and American Airlines are exploring [July 2004] ways for passengers to use commercial cell phones inflight for air-to-ground communication. In a recent 2-hr. proof-of-concept flight, representatives from government and the media used commercial Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) third-generation cell phones to place and receive calls and text messages from friends on the ground.
For the test flight from Dallas-Fort Worth, the aircraft was equipped with an antenna in the front and rear of the cabin to transmit cell phone calls to a small in-cabin CDMA cellular base station. This "pico cell" transmitted cell phone calls from the aircraft via a Globalstar satellite to the worldwide terrestrial phone network"
Needless to say, neither the service, nor the "third generation" hardware, nor the "Picco cell" CDMA base station inside the cabin (which so to speak mimics a cell phone communication tower inside the plane) were available on the morning of September 11, 2001.
The 9/11 Commission points to the clarity and detail of these telephone conversations.
In substance, the Aviation Week report creates yet another embarrassing hitch in the official story.
The untimely July American Airlines / Qualcomm announcement acted as a cold shower. Barely acknowledged in press reports, it confirms that the Bush administration had embroidered the cell phone narrative (similar to what they did with WMDs) and that the 9/11 Commission's account was either flawed or grossly exaggerated.
Altitude and Cellphone Transmission
According to industry experts, the crucial link in wireless cell phone transmission from an aircraft is altitude. Beyond a certain altitude which is usually reached within a few minutes after takeoff, cell phone calls are no longer possible.
In other words, given the wireless technology available on September 11 2001, these cell calls could not have been placed from high altitude.
The only way passengers could have got through to family and friends using their cell phones, is if the planes were flying below 8000 feet. Yet even at low altitude, below 8000 feet, cell phone communication is of poor quality.
The crucial question: at what altitude were the planes traveling, when the calls were placed?
While the information provided by the Commission is scanty, the Report's timeline does not suggest that the planes were consistently traveling at low altitude. In fact the Report confirms that a fair number of the cell phone calls were placed while the plane was traveling at altitudes above 8000 feet, which is considered as the cutoff altitude for cell phone transmission.
Let us review the timeline of these calls in relation to the information provided by the Report on flight paths and altitude.
United Airlines Flight 175
United Airlines Flight 175 departed for
"It pushed back from its gate at 7:58 and departed
The Report confirms that by 8:33, "it had reached its assigned cruising altitude of 31,000 feet." According to the Report, it maintained this cruising altitude until 8.51, when it "deviated from its assigned altitude":
"The first operational evidence that something was abnormal on United 175 came at 8:47, when the aircraft changed beacon codes twice within a minute. At 8:51, the flight deviated from its assigned altitude, and a minute later
And one minute later at 8.52, Lee Hanson receives a call from his son Peter.
[Flight UAL 175] "At 8:52, in
Press reports confirm that Peter Hanson was using his cell (i.e it was not an air phone). Unless the plane had suddenly nose-dived, the plane was still at high altitude at 8.52. (Moreover, Hanson's call could have been initiated at least a minute prior to his father Lee Hanson picking up the phone.)
Another call was received at 8.52 (one minute after it deviated from its assigned altitude of 31,000 feet). The Report does not say whether this is an air phone or a cell phone call:
Also at 8:52, a male flight attendant called a United office in
It is not clear whether this was a call to Policastro's cell phone or to the UAL switchboard.
At 8:58, UAL 175 "took a heading toward
"At 8:59, Flight 175 passenger Brian David Sweeney tried to call his wife, Julie. He left a message on their home answering machine that the plane had been hijacked. He then called his mother, Louise Sweeney, told her the flight had been hijacked, and added that the passengers were thinking about storming the cockpit to take control of the plane away from the hijackers.
At 9:00, Lee Hanson received a second call from his son Peter:
It’s getting bad, Dad—A stewardess was stabbed—They seem to have knives and Mace—They said they have a bomb—It’s getting very bad on the plane—Passengers are throwing up and getting sick—The plane is making jerky movements—I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane—I think we are going down—I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building—Don’t worry, Dad— If it happens, it’ll be very fast—My God, my God.
The call ended abruptly. Lee Hanson had heard a woman scream just before it cut off. He turned on a television, and in her home so did Louise Sweeney. Both then saw the second aircraft hit the World Trade Center.50 At 9:03:11, United Airlines Flight 175 struck the
American Airlines Flight 77
American Airlines Flight 77 was scheduled to depart from Washington Dulles for
At 8:51, American 77 transmitted its last routine radio communication. The hijacking began between 8:51 and 8:54. As on American 11 and United 175, the hijackers used knives (reported by one passenger) and moved all the passengers (and possibly crew) to the rear of the aircraft (reported by one flight attendant and one passenger). Unlike the earlier flights, the Flight 77 hijackers were reported by a passenger to have box cutters. Finally, a passenger reported that an announcement had been made by the “pilot” that the plane had been hijacked....
On flight AA 77, which allegedly crashed into the Pentagon, the transponder was turned off at 8:56am; the recorded altitude at the time the transponder was turned off is not mentioned. According to the Commission's Report, cell calls started 16 minutes later, at 9:12am, twenty minutes before it (allegedly) crashed into the Pentagon at 9.32am:
" [at 9.12] Renee May called her mother,
According to the Report, when the autopilot was disengaged at 9:29am, the aircraft was at 7,000 feet and some 38 miles west of the Pentagon. This happened two minutes before the crash.
Most of the calls on Flight 77 were placed between 9.12am and 9.26am, prior to the disengagement of automatic piloting at 9.29am. The plane could indeed have been traveling at either a higher or a lower altitude to that reached at 9.29. Yet, at the same time there is no indication in the Report that the plane had been traveling below the 7000 feet level, which it reached at 9.29am.
At some point between 9:16 and 9:26, Barbara Olson called her husband, Ted Olson, the solicitor general of the
United Airlines Flight 93
UAL flight 93 was the only one of the four planes that, according to the official story, did not crash into a building. Flight 93 passengers, apparently: "alerted through phone calls, attempted to subdue the hijackers. and the hijackers crashed the plane [in
According to the Commission's account:
"the first 46 minutes of Flight 93’s cross-country trip proceeded routinely. Radio communications from the plane were normal. Heading, speed, and altitude ran according to plan. At 9:24, Ballinger’s warning to United 93 was received in the cockpit. Within two minutes, at 9:26, the pilot, Jason Dahl, responded with a note of puzzlement: “Ed, confirm latest mssg plz—Jason.”70 The hijackers attacked at 9:28. While traveling 35,000 feet above eastern
At least ten cell calls are reported to have taken place on flight 93.
The Report confirms that passengers started placing calls with cell and air phones shortly after 9.32am, four minutes after the Report's confirmation of the plane's attitude of 35,000 feet. In other words, the calls started some 9 minutes before the
This suggests that the altitude was known to air traffic control up until the time when the transponder signal was lost by the
Moreover, there was no indication from the Report that the aircraft had swooped down to a lower level of altitude, apart from the 700 feet drop recorded at 9.28. from a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet:
"At 9:32, a hijacker, probably Jarrah, made or attempted to make the following announcement to the passengers of Flight 93:“Ladies and Gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down keep remaining sitting.
We have a bomb on board. So, sit.” The flight data recorder (also recovered) indicates that Jarrah then instructed the plane’s autopilot to turn the aircraft around and head east. The cockpit voice recorder data indicate that a woman, most likely a flight attendant, was being held captive in the cockpit. She struggled with one of the hijackers who killed or otherwise silenced her.
Shortly thereafter, the passengers and flight crew began a series of calls from GTE airphones and cellular phones. These calls between family, friends, and colleagues took place until the end of the flight and provided those on the ground with firsthand accounts. They enabled the passengers to gain critical information, including the news that two aircraft had slammed into the World Trade Center.77...At least two callers from the flight reported that the hijackers knew that passengers were making calls but did not seem to care.
The hijackers were wearing red bandanas, and they forced the passengers to the back of the aircraft.80 Callers reported that a passenger had been stabbed and that two people were lying on the floor of the cabin, injured or dead—possibly the captain and first officer. One caller reported that a flight attendant had been killed.81 One of the callers from United 93 also reported that he thought the hijackers might possess a gun. But none of the other callers reported the presence of a firearm. One recipient of a call from the aircraft recounted specifically asking her caller whether the hijackers had guns.
The passenger replied that he did not see one. No evidence of firearms or of their identifiable remains was found at the aircraft’s crash site, and the cockpit voice recorder gives no indication of a gun being fired or mentioned at any time.
We believe that if the hijackers had possessed a gun, they would have used it in the flight’s last minutes as the passengers fought back.82 Passengers on three flights reported the hijackers’ claim of having a bomb. The FBI told us they found no trace of explosives at the crash sites. One of the passengers who mentioned a bomb expressed his belief that it was not real. Lacking any evidence that the hijackers attempted to smuggle such illegal items past the security screening checkpoints, we believe the bombs were probably fake. During at least five of the passengers’ phone calls, information was shared about the attacks that had occurred earlier that morning at the
“Everyone’s running up to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.” The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the passenger assault muffled by the intervening cockpit door. Some family members who listened to the recording report that they can hear the voice of a loved one among the din.
We cannot identify whose voices can be heard. But the assault was sustained. In response, Jarrah immediately began to roll the airplane to the left and right, attempting to knock the passengers off balance. At 9:58:57, Jarrah told another hijacker in the cockpit to block the door. Jarrah continued to roll the airplane sharply left and right, but the assault continued. At 9:59, Jarrah changed tactics and pitched the nose of the airplane up and down to disrupt the assault. The recorder captured the sounds of loud thumps, crashes, shouts, and breaking glasses and plates.
At 10:00:03, Jarrah stabilized the airplane. Five seconds later, Jarrah asked, “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?” A hijacker responded, “No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off.” The sounds of fighting continued outside the cockpit. Again, Jarrah pitched the nose of the aircraft up and down.At 10:00:26, a passenger in the background said, “In the cockpit. If we don’t we’ll die!” Sixteen seconds later, a passenger yelled,“Roll it!” Jarrah stopped the violent maneuvers at about 10:01:00 and said, “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!” He then asked another hijacker in the cockpit,“ Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?” to which the other replied, “Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.” The passengers continued their assault and at 10:02:23, a hijacker said, “Pull it down! Pull it down!” The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them. The airplane headed down; the control wheel was turned hard to the right.
The airplane rolled onto its back, and one of the hijackers began shouting “Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest. ”With the sounds of the passenger counterattack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes’ flying time from Washington D.C. Jarrah’s objective was to crash his airliner into symbols of the American Republic, the Capitol or the White House. He was defeated by the alerted, unarmed passengers of United."
The Mysterious Call of Edward Felt from UAL 93
Earlier coverage of the fate of UAL 93 was based in part on a reported cell call from a passenger named Edward Felt, who managed to reach an emergency official in
The call was apparently received at 9.58 am, eight minutes before the reported time of the crash at 10.06 am in
"Local emergency officials said they received a cell phone call at 9.58 am from a man who said he was a passenger aboard the flight. The man said he had locked himself in the bathroom and told emergency dispatchers that the plane had been hijacked. "We are being hijacked! We are being hijacked!" he was quoted as saying. A
The alleged call by Edward Felt from the toilet of the aircraft of UAL 93 was answered by Glenn Cramer, the emergency supervisor in
It is worth noting that Glenn Cramer was subsequently gagged by the FBI." (See Robert Wallace`s incisive analysis published in Sept 2002 by the Daily Mirror, (http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/WAL403A.html ).
Ironically, this high profile cell call by Ed Felt, which would have provided crucial evidence to the 9/11 Commission was, for some reason, not mentioned in the Report.
American Airlines Flight 11
Flight 11 took off at 7:59. Just before 8:14. The Report outlines an airphone conversation of flight attendant Betty Ong and much of the narrative hinges upon this airphone conversation
There are no clear-cut reports on the use of cell phones on Flight AA11. According to the Report, American 11 crashed into the
A large part of the description, regarding the 19 hijackers relies on cell phone conversations with family and friends.
While a few of these calls (placed at low altitude) could have got through, the wireless technology was not available. On this issue, expert opinion within the wireless telecom industry is unequivocal.
In other words, at least part of the Commission's script in Chapter 1 on the cell phone conversations, is fabricated.
According to the American Airline / Qualcomm announcement, the technology for cell phone transmission at high altitude will only be available aboard commercial aircraft in 2006. This is an inescapable fact.
In the eyes of public opinion, the cell phone conversations on the Arab hijackers is needed to sustain the illusion that
The "war on terrorism" underlying the National Security doctrine relies on real time "evidence" concerning the Arab hijackers. The latter personify, so to speak, this illusive "outside enemy" (Al Qaeda), which is threatening the homeland.
Embodied into the Commission's "script" of 9/11, the narrative of what happened on the plane with the Arab hijackers is therefore crucial. It is an integral part of the Administration's disinformation and propaganda program. It constitutes a justification for the anti-terror legislation under the Patriot acts and the waging of
It’s easy to imagine an infinite number of situations where the government might legitimately give out false information. It’s an unfortunate reality that the issuance of incomplete information and even misinformation by government may sometimes be perceived as necessary to protect vital interests. (Solicitor General Ted Olson, in 9/11: Flight 93 Crashes at Camp David Part 2, downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKHXBWvjUnY&mode=related&search=, 1 August 2007.)
06/26/07 - Did American Airlines 77---the flight that, according to the official conspiracy theory about 9/11, struck the Pentagon---have onboard phones? This question is relevant to the possible truth of the official theory, because Ted Olson, who was then the
He did, to be sure, waver on this point. CNN, which mentioned in a story posted just before midnight on 9/11 that Barbara Olson had used a cell phone to call her husband, reported in a more extensive treatment, posted at 2:06 AM (EDT) on September 12, that Ted Olson had told it that his wife “called him twice on a cell phone from American Airlines Flight 77.”1 But on September 14, Olson said on Hannity & Colmes (Fox News) that she had called collect and therefore must have been using the “airplane phone”---because, he surmised, “she somehow didn’t have access to her credit cards.”2 On CNN’s Larry King Show later that same day, however, Olson returned to his first version. After saying that the second call from her suddenly went dead, he surmised that this was perhaps “because the signals from cell phones coming from airplanes don’t work that well.”3 On that same day, moreover, Tony Mauro, the Supreme Court correspondent for American Lawyer Media, published an account saying that Barbara Olson “was calling on her cell phone from aboard the jet.”4 Two months later, however, Ted Olson returned to the second version of his story. In the “Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture” delivered to the Federalist Society, he said that she used “a telephone in the airplane to [make] those two telephone [calls].”5 This second version was repeated in March 2002. “[C]alling collect,” he told the
This revised version of his story has evidently gone virtually unnoticed in the American press. A year after 9/11, for example, CNN was still reporting that Barbara Olson used a cell phone.7 Nevertheless, Ted Olson’s statement to the Federalist Society and the Telegraph---that she called collect using a passenger-seat phone---was apparently his final word on the matter.
The claim that she must have called collect because she did not have her credit card, however, does not make any sense, because a credit card is needed in order to activate a passenger-seat phone.8 If she did not have a credit card, therefore, she could not have used a passenger-seat phone, whether to call collect or otherwise.9
By settling on this version of his story, nevertheless, Olson at least appeared to make defensible his claim that the calls occurred. We say this because of the extremely strong evidence that her reported calls could not have been made on a cell phone, given the cell phone technology in 2001. Cell phone calls from an airliner were, as DRG has argued extensively elsewhere, generally possible only if it was flying slowly and low,10 but Barbara Olson’s first call, according to the 9/11 Commission, occurred “[a]t some point between 9:16 and 9:26,”11 when the plane was flying too fast and too high for cell phone calls to have been possible. According to the Flight Data Recorder information released by the National Transportation Safety Board, the plane at 9:16 would have been over 25,000 feet, which is far too high (as well as too fast: 281 knots [324 mph]), while at 9:26 the plane would have been flying at 324 knots (370 mph), which is much too fast (as well as still too high: almost 14,000 feet).12 By settling on the claim that his wife used an onboard phone instead of a cell phone, Ted Olson avoided this problem.
But was a call from an onboard phone even possible? In 2004, Ian Henshall and Rowland Morgan, having asked American Airlines whether their “757s [are] fitted with phones that passengers can use,” received this reply from an AA spokesperson: “American Airlines 757s do not have onboard phones for passenger use.” To check on the possibility that Barbara Olson might have borrowed a phone intended for crew use, they then asked, “[A]re there any onboard phones at all on AA 757s, i.e., that could be used either by passengers or cabin crew?” The response was: “AA 757s do not have any onboard phones, either for passenger or crew use. Crew have other means of communication available.”13
Henshall and Morgan then found this information corroborated on the AA website, which, while informing travelers that telephone calls are possible on AA’s Boeing 767 and 777, does not mention its 757.14 On the assumption that the AA spokesperson and this website were talking about AA 757s as they had been for several years, not simply as they were at the time of the query (2004), Henshall and Morgan concluded that, in the words of an essay written by Morgan, “Barbara Olson’s Call from Flight 77 Never Happened.”15
DRG, interpreting the information in the same way, wrote in the first edition of his book Debunking 9/11 Debunking: “[G]iven the evidence that Barbara Olson could not have called from Flight 77 using either a cell phone or an onboard phone, we have very good evidence that the calls to Ted Olson, like the call to [flight attendant] Renee May’s parents, were fabricated---unless, of course, he simply made up the story.”16
Correcting an “Error”
Later, however, DRG received two items suggesting that, although AA 757s did not have onboard phones in 2004, they probably did in 2001. One item was a 1998 photograph, said to show the inside of an AA 757, revealing that it had seat-back phones. The other was a news report from February 6, 2002, which said: “American Airlines will discontinue its AT&T in-flight phone service by March 31, a spokesman for the airline said Wednesday.”17 This report, DRG realized, did not specifically mention 757s, so this notice did not necessarily imply that AA 757s had had onboard phones up until that date. However, by taking into consideration this article, the photograph, and the realization that the letters from AA in 2004 were couched entirely in the present tense, DRG concluded that the claim that AA 77 had not had onboard phones was probably an error. He published an essay, “Barbara Olson’s Alleged Call from AA 77: A Correction About Onboard Phones,”18 which contained a section entitled “My Error.”
DRG made clear, to be sure, that even if AA 77 did have onboard phones, this did little to make Ted Olson’s story believable, because all the other problems remained. Five such problems were mentioned: (1) The incredible idea that although all the passengers and the crew were herded to the back of the plane, Barbara Olson was the only one to grab a phone from a passenger seat to make a call (an idea that was made even more incredible by the report that flight attendant Renee May was the only person on the flight to make a cell phone call19). (2) The equally incredible idea that three or four short, slight men armed with knives and box-cutters would not have been easily overpowered by these 60-some people---led perhaps by the pilot, Charles “Chic” Burlingame, a former Navy pilot whose brother said, “they would have had to incapacitate him or kill him because he would have done anything to prevent the kind of tragedy that befell that airplane," and whose sister said, "We want to tell his story so that people who had loved ones on that flight will know that he would have sacrificed himself to save them.”20 (3) Ted Olson’s oscillations on whether his wife had used a cell phone or an onboard phone. (4) Rowland Morgan’s point that, having settled on the claim that the calls were collect calls from a passenger-seat phone, “Ted Olson could . . . shut his critics up by simply producing the Department of Justice’s telephone accounts, showing a couple of hefty reverse-charges entries charged from Flight 77’s Airfone number at around about 9:20 AM on 11th September, 2001.”21 (5) Morgan and Henshall’s point that, if the Department of Justice had actually received these calls, the FBI, which is part of the DOJ, could have easily produced the records, and yet, according to The 9/11 Commission Report, the FBI’s report about this issue, which is entitled “American Airlines Airphone Usage,” makes no mention of any DOJ records.22
DRG concluded, however, that although the idea that the calls occurred was highly implausible, they could not be ruled out as strictly impossible, because the claim that AA 77 did not have onboard phones was erroneous in a twofold sense: not only in the sense of being based on inadequate evidence but also in the sense of simply being wrong, at least probably.
Correcting the Correction
The publication of DRG’s retraction, however, set off a process that has led us to correct this correction, because we discovered three new pieces of evidence supporting the contention that AA 77 did not have onboard phones.
Hello, on your website . . . there is mentioned that there are no seatback satellite phones on a Boeing 757. Is that info correct? Were there any such seatback satellite phones on any Boeing 757 before or on September 11, 2001 and if so, when were these phones ripped out?
This was the reply received by “the Paradroid” (except that his real name has been crossed out):
Dear Mr. XXXXXXXX:
Thank you for contacting Customer Relations. I am pleased to have the opportunity to assist you.
That is correct we do not have phones on our Boeing 757. The passengers on flight 77 used their own personal cellular phones to make out calls during the terrorist attack. However, the pilots are able to stay in constant contact with the Air Traffic Control tower.
Mr. XXXXXXXX, I hope this information is helpful. It is a privilege to serve you.
This exchange, if authentic, would provide very strong evidence for the conclusion that Barbara Olson could not have called her husband, as he claimed, from a passenger-seat phone. But was the exchange, which came from a second-hand source, authentic? We received three types of confirmation that it was.
In the first place, DRG, after obtaining from RB the email address of “Kesha,” asked the latter if he could “vouch for the authenticity of the letters” to and from Chad Kinder. In an email of June 2 (2007), “Kesha” replied: “I am able to vouch for the authenticity of the mentioned correspondence; the person who initiated it in February 2006 is reliable. I know ‘Paradroid’ from endless debates in our German 911 forum. His opinions are strictly based on facts.”
In the second place, after locating the correspondence between Kinder and “the Paradroid” on the German forum in question,23 DRG read several other contributions by “the Paradroid,” thereby seeing for himself that he is a serious, well-informed student of 9/11.
In the third place, RB, after some difficulty in discovering whether American Airlines actually had an employee named “Chad Kinder,” was able to contact him by telephone on May 31 (2007). After reading the two letters to Kinder, RB asked if he had indeed written the reply. Kinder answered that he could not specifically recall having written it---he writes so many letters, he explained, and this one would have been written over a year earlier. But, he added: “That sounds like an accurate statement.” Kinder indicated, in other words, that it was a letter he might well have written, because what it said---that AA 757s in 2001 did not have onboard phones, so the passengers on AA 77 had to use cell phones---was, to the best of his present knowledge, accurate.
The 757 Aircraft Maintenance Manual: Besides learning about and confirming this letter from Kinder, we also obtained another piece of evidence supporting the conclusion that passengers on AA 77 could not have used onboard phones. One of RB’s colleagues sent him a page from the Boeing 757 Aircraft Maintenance Manual (757 AMM) dated January 28, 2001. This page states that the passenger phone system for the AA 757 fleet had (by that date) been deactivated.24 According to the 757 AMM, in other words, the onboard phones had been deactivated at least seven and a half months prior to 9/11.
This information is relevant to the earlier-cited news report from February 6, 2002, which said: “American Airlines will discontinue its AT&T in-flight phone service by March 31.” As we pointed out earlier, that report did not mention 757s in particular, so it does not necessarily indicate that the 757 fleet had any in-flight phone service to be discontinued; the report may have referred only to other types of AA airplanes. But if American’s 757s did still have passenger-seat phones in September 2001, these phones, according to the information from the 757 AMM, would have been deactivated. If so, one of them could not have been used by Barbara Olson on 9/11 (even if she had a credit card).
This report in USA Today appears, moreover, to have influenced the email sent by “the Paradroid” to American Airlines, which, as we saw, asked: “Were there any . . . seatback satellite phones on any Boeing 757 before or on September 11, 2001 and if so, when were these phones ripped out?” Kinder’s reply did not explicitly respond to the question as to when, if 757s had passenger-seat phones prior to 9/11, they were “ripped out.” Implicitly, however, Kinder’s reply said: With regard, at least, to the 757 that was AA 77, the seatback phones were ripped out prior to September 11, 2001.26
In the course of doing research for this article, we learned, to our amazement, that even if, contrary to our evidence, Flight 77 did have functioning onboard phones, the US government has now said, implicitly, that Ted Olson’s claim about receiving two calls from his wife that morning is untrue.
As we mentioned earlier, the FBI report on phone calls from AA planes on 9/11 does not cite records from the DOJ showing that any calls from AA 77 were received that morning. Instead, the FBI report refers merely to four “connected calls to unknown numbers.” The 9/11 Commission, putting the best possible spin on this report, commented: “The records available for the phone calls from American 77 do not allow for a determination of which of [these four calls] represent the two between Barbara and Ted Olson, although the FBI and DOJ believe that all four represent communications between Barbara Olson and her husband’s office.”27 That is, it must be said, a very strange conclusion: If Ted Olson reported receiving only two calls, why would the Commission conclude that the DOJ had received four connected calls from his wife?
That conclusion is, in any case, starkly contradicted by evidence about phone calls from Flight 77 presented by the
1 “FBI Targets Florida Sites in Terrorist Search,” CNN.com, September 11, 2001, 11:56 PM EDT (http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/09/11/america.under.attack); Tim O’Brien, “Wife of Solicitor General Alerted Him of Hijacking from Plane,” CNN, September 12, 2001, 2:06 AM (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/11/pentagon.olson).
2 Hannity & Colmes, Fox News, September14, 2001.
3 Larry King Live, CNN, September 14, 2001
4 Mauro’s statement is quoted in Rowland Morgan, “Barbara Olson’s Call from Flight 77 Never Happened,” Global Echo, December 2, 2004 (http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/12/305124.shtml).
5 Theodore B. Olson, “Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture,” November 16, 2001, Federalist Society, 15th Annual National Lawyers Convention (http://www.fed-soc.org/resources/id.63/default.asp).
6 Toby Harnden, “She Asked Me How to Stop the Plane,” Daily Telegraph, March 5, 2002 (http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2002/telegraph030502.html).
7 See “On September 11, Final Words of Love,” CNN, September 10, 2002 (http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/09/03/ar911.phone.calls), which says: “Unbeknown to the hijackers, passenger and political commentator Barbara Olson, 45, was able to call her husband---Solicitor General Ted Olson---on her cellular phone.”
8 The American Airlines website entitled “Onboard Technology” says: “Slide your credit card through the side of the phone and then dial 00 + country code + area or city code + number followed by the # key” (http://www.aa.com/content/travelInformation/duringFlight/onboardTechnology.jhtml).
9 Some defenders of the official story have, to be sure, suggested that she reversed the charges because she had borrowed someone else’s credit card. But in that situation, would anyone have been worrying about a few dollars?
10 See David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (
11 The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Authorized Edition (
12 See the National Transportation Safety Board’s flight path study for AA Flight 77 (http://www.ntsb.gov/info/AAL77_fdr.pdf). This study has been subjected to extensive analysis by Pilots for 9/11 Truth (http://pilotsfor911truth.org/pentagon.html). Our use of the information from this Flight Data Recorder (FDR) does not imply our acceptance of the NTSB’s claim that it is from AA Flight 77. Our scepticism is made clear in Debunking 9/11 Debunking, 372 n. 217, which quotes an email from RB saying, “The NTSB claims the Flight Data Recorder is from AA77, but it could really be from any type of aircraft.” Our reference to the data from this FDR is simply for the purpose of showing an internal contradiction within the official story.
13 This exchange occurred on December 6, 2004; see Rowland Morgan and Ian Henshall, 9/11 Revealed: The Unanswered Questions (
14 American Airlines, “Onboard Technology” (https://www.aa.com/content/travelInformation/duringFlight/onboardTechnology.jhtml), quoted in Morgan, “Barbara Olson’s Call from Flight 77 Never Happened.”
15 See note 4.
17 Sam Ames, “Airline Grounds In-flight Phone Service,” CNET News.com (http://news.com.com/2100-1033-831093.html). The photograph is at http://www.airliners.net/open.file/0020665/L. Both items were sent by Elias Davidsson of
18 David Ray Griffin, “Barbara Olson’s Alleged Call from AA 77: A Correction About Onboard Phones,” Information Clearing House, May 7, 2007 (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17659.htm).
19 It has been widely accepted that the (alleged) call from Renee May was made on a cell phone, because this is what was stated in a story published in her mother’s home town. See Natalie Patton, “Flight Attendant Made Call on Cell Phone to Mom in
However, even if the government is now implying, as we discuss later, that the call from Renee May was from a passenger-seat phone, the idea that only two people availed themselves of these phones would be little more credible than the idea that only one did.
20 “In Memoriam: Charles ‘Chic’
21 Morgan, “Barbara Olson’s Call from Flight 77 Never Happened.”
22 This FBI report on phone usage from AA 77 refers merely to four “connected calls to unknown numbers.” The 9/11 Commission commented: “The records available for the phone calls from American 77 do not allow for a determination of which of [these four calls] represent the two between Barbara and Ted Olson, although the FBI and DOJ believe that all four represent communications between Barbara Olson and her husband’s office” (The 9/11 Commission Report, 455 n. 57). The fact that the Commission speaks merely about what the FBI and the DOJ “believe” indicates that they produced no records to prove the point.
23 See the submission of February 17, 2006, by “the Paradroid” on the Politik Forum (http://www.politikforum.de/forum/archive/index.php/t-133356-p-24.html).
25 “Cell Phones Test Positive on AA Flight,” USA Today, July 16, 2004 (http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/2004-07-16-jet-phones_x.htm).
26 We believe, incidentally, that the statement by the 757 AMM that the phone system was “deactivated” and the statement by USA Today that the phones were “ripped out” refer to two different processes, so that within AA’s records there would be a work order for the phones to be physically removed from the 757 fleet at some point between the time at which they were deactivated, perhaps late in 2000, and September 11, 2001. Locating such a work order would provide the final confirmation of the claim that Flight 77 had no onboard phones.
27 The 9/11 Commission Report, 455 n. 57.
29 How the government could have concluded that this call was attempted by Barbara Olson is not clear.
We come now, in any case, to the implication of the government’s Moussaoui-trial evidence about phone calls for the government’s position on whether AA 77 had onboard phones. According to this evidence, there were five connected calls from AA 77: one from Renee May and four from “unknown callers.” Given what we have learned from the government’s evidence about calls from UA 93---that all calls not identified as cell phone calls are said to have been made from onboard phones---we can conclude that, by virtue of not identifying any of the five “connected calls” from this flight as cell phone calls, the government is implying that this plane did have onboard phones. It does not, therefore, support our view on this issue.
Nevertheless, whether one accepts our evidence, which indicates that there were not any onboard phones on AA 77 from which calls could have been made, or trusts the government’s evidence presented at the Moussaoui trial, the conclusion is the same: The two conversations reported by Ted Olson did not happen. (David Ray Griffin and Rob Balsamo, “Could Barbara Olson Have Made Those Calls? An Analysis of New Evidence about Onboard Phones,” Pilots for 911 Truth, 26 June 2007, downloaded from http://pilotsfor911truth.org/amrarticle.html, 31 July 2007.)
The implications of this conclusion for the credibility of the official narrative about 9/11 are enormous. Surely one of the most well-known elements of this narrative is that Barbara Olson, while on the plane that was soon to hit the Pentagon, called her husband. If people learn that this is a lie---whether because Ted Olson was a victim of faked phone calls or because he deliberately told a false story---most of them will probably be led to wonder if the whole official story is not a fabrication.
The strongest reason for considering false Ted Olson’s claim about two passenger-seat phone calls from his wife would be proof that such calls simply could not have occurred. It is important, therefore, for researchers to continue the quest to determine positively whether Boeing 757s in September 2001 had functioning onboard phones. Although we believe our evidence that they did not have such phones is very strong, we cannot yet claim to have proof; evidence to the contrary might still emerge. Finding proof one way or the other, however, should not be impossible, if others join in the task.
If further investigation should reveal that Flight 77 did, after all, have onboard phones, Ted Olson’s story would still be extremely implausible, for many reasons. Five of those reasons, mentioned in DRG’s previous essay, were summarized above. Three more have been added in this article: the absurdity of Ted Olson’s claim that his wife called collect because she did not have a credit card, the US government’s apparent endorsement of the view that high-altitude cell phone calls from airliners are not possible (thereby foreclosing the possibility that Ted Olson could return to the claim that she called from a cell phone), and the US government’s implicit rejection of his claim that the DOJ received two calls from AA Flight 77 that morning.
For those eight reasons alone, we would be justified in concluding, from simply this aspect of the official story, that the entire official story about 9/11 was a fabrication. This conclusion is greatly strengthened, however, by the almost definitive evidence that, besides the fact that Barbara Olson’s alleged calls could not have been made from a cell phone (which the
Q: What do you think about the film United 93?
David Ray Griffin: The movie follows the official version. But there are different versions of the official version. One was that the passengers brought it down, one was that when the terrorists saw that the passengers were going to get control of it, they deliberately grounded it, so you do have those two official versions.
But one thing that people need to be alerted to who have seen the movie, in the movie these people are having these rather long cell phone conversations with people back home, right? Where they’re interacting with them. If you read the actual transcripts that have been provided, they’re not interactive like that, they’re all one-way things that anybody could have said, it’s more like “Hi Mom, we’re at the back of the plane, we’re getting ready to do something, gotta go now, bye.”
They do not have conversations where the people would really know I was talking to my son or my husband or my wife. And we have very good evidence that that’s not the case in the famous case of Mark Bingham, who says, “Hi Mom, this is Mark Bingham.” What person has ever talked to his mother and used his last name? That’s so absurd!
A story came out a few years ago that showed that they have now perfected voice morphing. So they can take a recording of somebody and then make that person utter certain sentences. So I forget the, I think it was one that they had Colin Powell and it had him uttering a statement such as, some absurd thing, “We just shot down a Russian satellite” or something like that.
And it sounded to all the world like Colin Powell, nobody could have detected that it was a made up thing. So all of those things were quite likely results of voice-morphing. (“Interview with David Ray Griffin,” Whole Life Times, downloaded from http://wholelifetimes.com/2006/09/griffin0609.html, 7 August 2007.)
Although it had been generally believed that there had been approximately ten cell phone calls from UA 93---including the four widely publicized calls reported by Deena Burnett from her husband, Tom Burnett---the government’s document on this flight identifies only two calls as cell phone calls: those made at 9:58 by passenger Edward Felt and flight attendant CeeCee Lyles. One might conclude from this information, to be sure, that the government simply remained neutral on some of the other calls that had been thought to be cell phone calls, such as the Burnett calls, leaving open whether they were from cell or onboard phones. But that is not the case. A reporter at the Moussaoui trial wrote:
In the back of the plane, 13 of the terrified passengers and crew members made 35 air phone calls and two cell phone calls to family members and airline dispatchers, a member of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force testified Tuesday.32
The government explicitly said, therefore, that only two of the calls from UA 93---which were identified in the government’s report on this flight as being from Felt and Lyles33---were cell phone calls.
We can infer, therefore, that because these calls from Felt and Lyles are the only two calls from all the flights that are identified as cell phone calls, all the calls from the other flights are now said by the government to have been made from onboard phones.34
The distinctive thing about the calls from Felt and Lyles is that they reportedly occurred at 9:58, after United 93 had descended to about 5,000 feet. By limiting the cell phone calls from all four flights to these two from UA 93, the government is no longer, even implicitly, supporting the view that high-altitude cell phone calls from airliners are possible. The government has thereby implicitly overcome, by conceding the point, one of the 9/11 movement’s main arguments against the government’s conspiracy theory.
This is a rather amazing development. Much of the official story about 9/11 has been based on the assumption that high-altitude cell phone calls were made. The film United 93, for example, portrayed five cell phone conversations. The 9/11 Commission Report, discussing UA 93, said: “Shortly [after 9:32], the passengers and flight crew began a series of calls from GTE airphones and cellular phones.”35
Four cell phone calls from UA 93 were, as mentioned earlier, supposed to have been made by Tom Burnett.36 His wife, Deena Burnett, repeatedly said Tom used his cell phone. She knew this, she said, because the Caller ID identified his cell phone as the source.37 Her testimony has been repeated countless times in the media. For example, a special segment about her on CBS’s Early Show said: “Tom Burnett made four cell phone calls from Flight 93 to Deena Burnett at home, telling her he and some other passengers were going to ‘do something.’” In a letter published in the National Review, Tom’s father spoke of “Tom's four cell-phone calls from Flight 93 to his wife, Deena.”38
The government’s evidence presented in 2006 at the Moussaoui trial, however, implies that she was mistaken, even though, given her statement that she saw her husband’s Caller ID number, the government’s new position means that she was either lying or, as we believe, the victim of a faked call using a device that, besides morphing her husband’s voice, faked his Caller ID number.39
However, although the government has undercut much of the basis for the official and popular accounts of 9/11 by denying the occurrence of any high-altitude cell phone calls, it has, by paying this price, protected itself from the 9/11 truth movement’s charge that the official story is falsified by the fact that such calls are impossible. (David Ray Griffin and Rob Balsamo, “Could Barbara Olson Have Made Those Calls? An Analysis of New Evidence about Onboard Phones,” Pilots for 911 Truth, 26 June 2007, downloaded from http://pilotsfor911truth.org/amrarticle.html, 31 July 2007.)
32 Greg Gordon, “Prosecutors Play Flight 93 Cockpit Recording,” KnoxNews.com, April 12, 2006 (http://www.knoxsingles.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=MOUSSAOUI-04-12-06&cat=WW); quoted in Morgan, Flight 93 Revealed, 182, n. 87.
33 For graphics about the phone calls from Felt and Lyles, see “
34 For the government’s summary of the phone calls from all four flights, see exhibit P200054 or P200055 (they are identical) under Phase 2 of the Prosecution Trial Exhibits, “United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui” (http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution.html) or “Detailed Account of Phone Calls From September 11th Flights” (http://911research.wtc7.net/planes/evidence/calldetail.html#ref1).
35 The 9/11 Commission Report, 12. At that time, the plane was reportedly at about 35,000 feet.
36 Surprisingly, however, the film United 93 portrayed Tom Burnett as using a seat-back phone.
37 Greg Gordon, “Widow Tells of Poignant Last Calls,”
(http://holtz.org/Library/Social%20Science/History/Atomic%20Age/2000s/Sep11/Burnett%20widows%20story.htm). See also Deena L. Burnett (with Anthony F. Giombetti), Fighting Back: Living Beyond Ourselves (
38 “Two Years Later...,” 10 September 2003 (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/09/09/earlyshow/living/printable572380.shtml); for the National Review letter, which appeared May 20, 2002, see http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_9_54/ai_85410322
39 As DRG reported in Debunking 9/11 Debunking, 297, there is an ad headed “FoneFaker--Call Recorder and Voice Changer Service with Caller ID Spoofing,” which says: “Record any call you make, fake your Caller ID and change your voice, all with one service you can use from any phone” (“Telephone Voice Changers,” Brickhouse Security [http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/telephone-voice-changers.html]).
Imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania, (1) and attacked the Pentagon …. (9/11 Conspiracy – Donald Rumsfeld says Flight 93 Shot Down, downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFuUGEZ39g8&mode=related&search=, 1 August 2007.)
Q: What about Flight 93, reported to have crashed in
David Ray Griffin: This is the thing I know the least about. Some people speculate that, to watch the glorified movie of it, you know, “Let’s Roll” where all the passengers roll up to the front, they take control of the plane, and somehow in the process of wresting it away from whoever was flying it, it then proceeds to crash into the Pennsylvania countryside.
Now there’s another school of thought that says that the American military deliberately shot it down for reasons that we don’t fully understand. So I’m confused about this.
There are actually three schools of thought—another one says that when the people showed up at the so-called crash site, there was no evidence of a plane. So it’s a big mystery what happened. In my books, I have provided an enormous amount of material that the plane was indeed shot down by the
And there is even an envoy from Washington who was speaking to the Canadians trying to get them to join more thoroughly into what we call the Missile Defense Program, in other words the weaponization of space.
And he said you should be very proud of your Canadian participation in NORAD because when Flight 93 was shot down by the military it was a Canadian who was in charge of NORAD at that stage. So we have testimony that a
So if the military did shoot it down, why?
One possibility is that there was some truth to the story that the passengers were trying to get control and that they were afraid they were going to have live hijackers who might talk. That’s one possible story. In the meantime we’ve become more skeptical that there were actually any Arab Muslim hijackers on these planes. Their names are not on the flight manifests. There are no Arab names on any of the flight manifests that have been released.
We have no evidence that any of these guys were on the plane. So if that was the case with Flight 93, why would the military have shot it down? And there I just have to throw up my hands and say, this is why we need a real investigation to find out what really happened. So there are just lots of mysteries about Flight 93 and 77 and the Pentagon strikes. (“Interview with David Ray Griffin,” Whole Life Times, downloaded from http://wholelifetimes.com/2006/09/griffin0609.html, 7 August 2007.)
The [9/11] Commission also failed to discuss the considerable evidence that Flight 93 was shot down by the US military, perhaps when passengers were about to wrest control of it. The Commission dealt with this problem only indirectly, by claiming that Vice President Cheney did not give the shoot-down order until 10:10, which was at least four minutes after Flight 93 crashed. In support of this claim, the Commission said that Cheney did not enter the
[Mayor] White said that the plane had been removed to a secure area of [
According to former Los Angeles Police Officer Michael Ruppert, Cheney had a parallel chain of command that he used to override Air Force objections to stand down orders that grounded the USAF during the 911 attacks (see: http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/011805_simplify_case.shtml ). Ruppert learned that the Secret Service had the authority to directly communicate presidential and vice presidential orders to fighter pilots in the air thereby circumventing the normal chain of command. (Crossing the Rubicon, pp. 428 – 429). Furthermore: “It is the Secret Service who has the legal mandate to take supreme command in case of a scheduled major event - or an unplanned major emergency - on American soil; these are designated "National Special Security Events".” http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/011805_simplify_case.shtml . (Michael Salla, “Was a Covert Attempt to Bomb