The Military Drills of September 11th: Why a New Investigation is Needed
by Elizabeth Woodworth
Global Research, September 27, 2007
Information regarding military exercises is classified and difficult to research. Though there was unusually high and confusing drill activity on 9/11, this strange coincidence has not gained much public notice. This essay quotes military officials from their own magazines, and compares their statements to what the 9/11 Commission wrote about the so-called surprise factor, and also to the Commission’s position that the drills aided the response.
Though both the 9/11 Commission Report and members of the Bush Administration repeatedly stated that the use of planes as weapons could not have been predicted, other official sources indicate that military exercises had been underway to counteract this very possibility.
1. Was it a Surprise that Hijacked Planes Were Used as Weapons on 9/11?
The element of surprise has been widely given (and quoted) as the reason why the 9/11 attacks were so successful against the world’s greatest military power.
Before proceeding to the statements on both sides of the issue, the context for these attacks should be understood in light of three defense procedures which were unusually and significantly changed in the months preceding 9/11:
1. A May 8th 2001 Statement by the President gave responsibility for coordinating, training and planning all national defense programs related to weapons of mass destruction to Vice President Cheney, whose office was not part of the National Command Authority. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta testified before the 9/11 Commission that he was present and observed Dick Cheney in the Presidential Emergency Operating Center tracking the position of Flight 77 for many miles as it approached the Pentagon.1 “Based on Norm Minetta’s testimony and other information, it appears that the military have regarded Cheney as a ‘Deputy Commander-in-Chief’. They also understand that he is the real power behind the throne…It appears that Vice President Dick Cheney was in charge of all the many air defense exercises that took place on the morning of September 11, 2001.”2
2. The 1997 hijacking scramble protocol CJCSI 3610, which distinguished emergent situations (requiring immediate action between the FAA and the military) from non-emergent situations (requiring decision input from the highest levels of the DoD) was rewritten June 1, 2001, as ordered by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.3 As a result, the number of fighter-interceptor scrambles fell from the usual average of 7-8 per month before the rewrite, to zero during the 3.3 months before September 11th, and to zero on September 11th itself.4
3. Changes in the dates of annual and semi-annual military air defense exercises resulted in an unprecedented concentration of air drills on September 11th, and included hijackings and drills in which planes hit buildings. These will be explored later.
The transfer of two line defense roles to senior members of the Bush-Cheney Administration, paired with the concentration of air drills on the day itself, raise serious questions regarding the success of the attacks.
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