Prelude 9/11 morning Flight 11 hijacked Flight 175 hijacked WTC 1 hit Flight 77 hijacked WTC 2 hit Flight 93 hijacked Pentagon hit WTC 2 collapses Flight 93 crashes WTC 1 collapses WTC 7 collapses Epilogue

Claim

NORAD (North American Air Defense) was warned of the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 175 at 08:43, not at 09:03 as is claimed in the 9/11 Commission Report0.

Background

The claim is based on two sources each pointing at different times: CNN1 and NORAD2 claim it was at 08:43, while the 9/11 Commission Report3 claims it was at 09:03:

Between 9:01 and 9:02, a manager from New York Center told the Command Center in Herndon:
Manager, New York Center: We have several situations going on here. It’s escalating big, big time. We need to get the military involved with us.. . . We’re, we’re involved with something else, we have other aircraft that may have a similar situation going on here.128
The “other aircraft” referred to by New York Center was United 175. Evidence indicates that this conversation was the only notice received by either FAA headquarters or the Herndon Command Center prior to the second crash that there had been a second hijacking.
While the Command Center was told about this “other aircraft” at 9:01, New York Center contacted New York terminal approach control and asked for help in locating United 175.
Terminal: I got somebody who keeps coasting but it looks like he’s going into one of the small airports down there.
Center: Hold on a second. I’m trying to bring him up here and get you-There he is right there. Hold on.
Terminal: Got him just out of 9,500-9,000 now.
Center: Do you know who he is?
Terminal: We’re just, we just we don’t know who he is.We’re just picking him up now.
Center (at 9:02): Alright. Heads up man, it looks like another one coming in.129
The controllers observed the plane in a rapid descent; the radar data terminated over Lower Manhattan. At 9:03, United 175 crashed into the South Tower.130
Meanwhile, a manager from Boston Center reported that they had deciphered what they had heard in one of the first hijacker transmissions from American 11:
Boston Center: Hey . . . you still there?
New England Region:Yes, I am.
Boston Center: . . . as far as the tape, Bobby seemed to think the guy said that “we have planes.” Now, I don’t know if it was because it was the accent, or if there’s more than one, but I’m gonna, I’m gonna reconfirm that for you, and I’ll get back to you real quick. Okay?
New England Region: Appreciate it.
Unidentified Female Voice: They have what?
Boston Center: Planes, as in plural.
Boston Center: It sounds like, we’re talking to New York, that there’s another one aimed at the World Trade Center.
New England Region: There’s another aircraft?
Boston Center: A second one just hit the Trade Center.
New England Region: Okay. Yeah, we gotta get-we gotta alert the military real quick on this.131
Boston Center immediately advised the New England Region that it was going to stop all departures at airports under its control. At 9:05, Boston Center confirmed for both the FAA Command Center and the New England Region that the hijackers aboard American 11 said “we have planes.” At the same time, NewYork Center declared “ATC zero”-meaning that aircraft were not permitted to depart from, arrive at, or travel through New York Center’s airspace until further notice.132
Within minutes of the second impact, Boston Center instructed its controllers to inform all aircraft in its airspace of the events in New York and to advise aircraft to heighten cockpit security. Boston Center asked the Herndon Command Center to issue a similar cockpit security alert nationwide. We have found no evidence to suggest that the Command Center acted on this request or issued any type of cockpit security alert.133
Military Notification and Response. The first indication that the NORAD air defenders had of the second hijacked aircraft, United 175, came in a phone call from New York Center to NEADS at 9:03.The notice came at about the time the plane was hitting the South Tower.134
By 9:08, the mission crew commander at NEADS learned of the second explosion at the World Trade Center and decided against holding the fighters in military airspace away from Manhattan:
Mission Crew Commander, NEADS: This is what I foresee that we probably need to do. We need to talk to FAA. We need to tell ’em if this stuff is gonna keep on going, we need to take those fighters, put ’em over Manhattan. That’s best thing, that’s the best play right now. So coordinate with the FAA. Tell ’em if there’s more out there, which we don’t know, let’s get ’em over Manhattan. At least we got some kind of play.135
The FAA cleared the airspace. Radar data show that at 9:13, when the Otis fighters were about 115 miles away from the city, the fighters exited their holding pattern and set a course direct for Manhattan. They arrived at 9:25 and established a combat air patrol (CAP) over the city.136
Because the Otis fighters had expended a great deal of fuel in flying first to military airspace and then to New York, the battle commanders were concerned about refueling. NEADS considered scrambling alert fighters from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to New York, to provide backup. The Langley fighters were placed on battle stations at 9:09.137 NORAD had no indication that any other plane had been hijacked.

If NORAD was informed of the terror attack at 08:43, it is considered evidence that the U.S. Air Defense deliberately abstained from taking action.

Facts

It is correct that CNN pointed to 08:43, but a number of circumstances point more clearly to a later time.

Apart from the 9/11 Commission Report, which documents that NORAD was informed at 09:03, and which was too late to take action, there is also documentation from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) that Flight 175 did not show any signs of irregularities before 08:46, where Fligh 175 changed its transponder code4. It is a good question why the FAA should contact NORAD before the plane had acted in any way suspiciously?

This timeline is also confirmed by a transcript of the communication between Flight 175 and the air traffic control (ATC) in New York5: The last ordinary communication from Flight 175 takes place around 08:42, and the flight controller does not call the plane again until 08:51. There is no documentation that NORAD was contacted at 08:43.

Another reason, why it was likely not realized that Flight 175 was hijacked before relatively late, is that the flight controller who was in contact with the plane was also in contact with American Airlines Flight 11, which about 20 minutes earlier, at 08:25, showed some signs of being hijacked. It is thus reasonable to assume that all attention was focused on Flight 11. It should be taking into consideration that hijackings are not just extremely rare in American airspace, but that multiple simultaneous hijackings were without precedent.

It should also be considered that at 08:43 no planes had yet hit the World Trade Center, so even if multiple simultaneous hijackings were underway, nobody could have expected the pandemonium that were about to happen.

Logic

There is a clear contradiction embedded in the claim: If NORAD had been warned as early as 08:43, it would mean that NORAD was part of a conspiracy which deliberately chose not to take military action. In that case, it is absurd that the very same NORAD is one of the sources that give the time as 08:43 (CNN being the other). Why would a conspirator immediately cast suspicion on itself?

Regarding the CNN article, it is a good question if it can be considered an independent source at all. It looks as if CNN’s source, which is described as ”informed defense officials”, are the same as the ones behind NORAD’s timeline. Both CNN and NORAD quotes their source of another error, namely that the FAA warns NORAD at 09:24 that Flight 77 (the plane that hit the Pentagon) had been hijacked. This erroneous source has subsequently been investigated and accounted for in the so-called Zinser report.6

In the Zinzer report, it is concluded that the erroneous source is a couple of FAA employees and that their error was not deliberate but was caused by the confusion, where the employees noted the wrong times.

All points to CNN having quoted NORAD, which again has quoted the FAA, where individuals have jotted down the wrong times and thus, inadvertently, given wrong information about both Flight 77 and Flight 175.

Conclusion

The claim is therefore:

  • False
  • Illogical
  • Self-contradicting

Sources

  1. “In its timeline of September 18, 2001, NORAD said that it had been notified about UA 175 by the FAA at 8:43. Can we believe that NORAD officials would have said this-which would mean that NEADS failed to prevent this flight crashing into the WTC even though it had 20 minutes to do so-if the truth was that the military had not been notified until 9:03? Would that not have been a very irrational lie? The only other explanation would seem to be that these NORAD officials were confused. But can we believe that they would have been so confused about such a major point only a few days after the event?”
    David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking, page 55
    Crossing the Rubicon, Mike Ruppert, p. 322
  2. Officials: Government failed to react to FAA warning (CNN, September 17, 2001)
  3. NORAD’s Response Times
  4. Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
  5. Transponder code
  6. Transcript of United Airlines Flight 175 (New York Times, October 16, 2001)
  7. No Intent to Mislead Panel Found In Aviation Officials’ 9/11 Errors, Washington Post, 2. september 2006

Q & A