Point Pent-2: Why the Attack on the Pentagon Was Not Prevented:
Point Pent-2: The Second Official Account

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The Official Account

The military could not have intercepted American 77, the 9/11 Commission reported, because it “never received notice that American 77 was hijacked.” [1]

Some military leaders, including General Larry Arnold, the head of NORAD’s US Continental region, had told the 9/11 Commission that the military had been notified about this flight at 9:24. [2] However this statement, which “made it appear that the military was notified in time to respond,” was “incorrect,” the 9/11 Commission pointed out in 2004. [3]

The Best Evidence

The truth of the 9/11 Commission’s second account may be questioned on two grounds:

  1. First, the charge that the testimony of General Arnold and other military leaders was “incorrect” amounts to the charge that they lied. [4] But if the Commission’s new story were true, military leaders would not have invented the original story – which implies that the military was guilty of standing down, or at least of incompetence. This would have been an irrational fabrication.
  2. Second, the Commission’s revised account contradicted several facts:
    • The FAA’s memo of May 21, 2003, said that the military was notified earlier than 9:24, not later.
    • The FAA memo was supported by a story published four days after 9/11, which said: “During the hour or so that American Airlines Flight 77 was under the control of hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side of the Pentagon, military officials in a command center on the east side of the building were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” [5]
    • The Commission claimed that, although the FAA’s Command Center had known about American 77’s troubles since 9:20 AM, this knowledge did not get passed to the military. However, Ben Sliney, the operations manager at the FAA Command Center, said that the Command Center had a “military cell, which was our liaison with the military services. They were present at all of the events that occurred on 9/11. … [E]veryone who needed to be notified about the events transpiring was notified, including the military.” [6]

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References for Point Pent-2
Both General Arnold and General Eberhart testified that FAA notified NORAD at 9:24 (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Public Hearing, Friday May 23, 2003. The NORAD News Release of 18 September 2001 had reported the time of the FAA Notification to NEADS as 9:24.
Some members of the 9/11 Commission argued that General Arnold and other military leaders had lied; see Michael Bronner, “9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes,” Vanity Fair, August 2006: 262-285; vanityfair.com, October 17, 2006. Co-chairs Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, in their 2006 book Without Precedent, said that NORAD’s behavior “bordered on willful concealment,” adding: “Fog of war could … not explain why all of the after-action reports … and public testimony by FAA and NORAD officials advanced an account of 9/11 that was untrue” (261).
Matthew Wald, “Pentagon Tracked Deadly Jet but Found No Way to Stop It,New York Times, 15 September 2001.


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