Rumsfeld blows it at 911 hearing
bev collins
Rumsfeld blows it at 911 hearing
Wed Mar 24 20:29:35 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: bev collins
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2004 7:10 PM
Subject: Rumsfeld blows it at 911 hearing

One of the commissioners, the woman on the commission, asked Rumsfeld about air defense plans and what they were. He confessed that planes are supposed to be sent up to intercept hijacked planes. The inference here is that THEY WERE SENT UP ON 9/11, and that a SHOOTDOWN ORDER WAS ISSUED, BUT THAT THE PILOTS DID NOT RECEIVE SAID ORDER!!!

This is huge! This means somebody either deliberately did not convey that order, there was a huge collosal fuckup (EXTREMELY unlikely given the severity of the circumstances), or A STANDOWN ORDER WAS ISSUED BY SOMEONE.

Rummy just gave the whole thing up, and he knew it. He looked sick, and if I am not mistaken his hands were actually shaking. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Myers tried to join in to help but was not of much use, and he looked freaked out too! So did Wolfowitz, WHO SAID NOTHING!

The gig is up and they know it.

Bev Collins
JR: Conformation of the above insight found at:

New York Times

Public Testimony Before 9/11 Panel



... All right, Commissioner Gorelick?

GORELICK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Mr. Secretary and your colleagues for being here today and for sharing your thoughts with us.

GORELICK: I'd like to start where Commissioner Ben-Veniste left off in his dialogue with you. If one looks at the PDDs and the SEIBs that were available to you personally. If all you do...


GORELICK: I'm sorry. It's the senior executive intelligence brief. So these are the daily briefings that go to people at your level and just below you. If you look at the headlines, only the headlines of those in the period that has come to be known as the summer of threat, it would set your hair on fire, not just George Tenet's hair on fire. I don't think it is fair to compare what all of the intelligence experts have said was an extraordinary spike that plateaued at a spiked level for months with spikes that happen, come and go and are routine. You were right... (CROSSTALK)

RUMSFELD: ... the PDD and shared that concern.

GORELICK: Pardon me?

RUMSFELD: I was seeing the PDD each morning and shared that concern.

GORELICK: Well, I expect that you would. So now I would like to talk about the aspects that were in your control. I had a conversation with Secretary Wolfowitz's -- one of his predecessors, when the 1996 Olympics were being planned about what do we do when an aircraft is being hijacked and is flying into a stadium at the Olympics? What is the military's response? What is it's role? And it has always been my assumption that even though, yes, you were looking out, that you have a responsibility to protect our airspace. So my question is: In this summer of threat, what did you do to protect, let's just say the Pentagon, from attack? Where were our aircraft when a missile is heading toward the Pentagon? Surely that is within the Pentagon's responsibility to protect -- force protection, to protect our facilities, to protect something -- our headquarters, the Pentagon. Is there anything that we did at the Pentagon to prevent that harm in the spring and summer of '01?

RUMSFELD: First let me respond as to what the responsibility of the Department of Defense has been with a hijacking. As I said, it was a law enforcement issue. And the Department of Defense has had various understandings with FAA whereby when someone squawks hijack, they have an arrangement with the Department of Defense that the military would send an airplane up and monitor the flight, but certainly in a hijack situation, did not have authority to shoot down a plane that was being hijacked. The purpose of a hijack is to take the plane from one place to another place where it wasn't intended to be going, not to fly it into buildings.

RUMSFELD: Second, with respect to the defense of the Pentagon, you're quite right. The force protection responsibilities do fall on the military. And just to put it right up on the table, we're in the flight pattern for National Airport. There's a plane that goes by, you know, how many yards from my window, 50 times a day. I don't know how far it is. But anyone who's been in that office has heard it roar right by the window. There isn't any way to deal with that at all. And force protection tends to be force protection from the ground. Dick, do you want to comment? MYERS: I would just say that since the Cold War, the focus of North American Aerospace Defense Command was outward; it was not inward. The hijacking agreement with the FAA was as the secretary described it. It would be a call and a response to the hijack, but certainly not with the thought of shooting it down. It was to monitor, try to get it to follow instructions and then follow it to its ultimate destination, if we could.

GORELICK: That is consistent with the story that we have been told throughout the military. I would just say that, to me, again, you know, 20/20 hindsight is perfect. But if I were sitting at the Pentagon and seeing the kind of threats that were coming in that summer, I would say to myself, Is business as usual appropriate? I mean, the question I have is whether you thought to say: Should we have defenses pre-positioned in a way that we don't? We know that our forces that our aircraft from NORAD came too late to the Pentagon. MYERS: Sure, we changed our whole air defense posture at the end of the Cold War. We went from about 22 sites to down about 7, I believe, between the U.S. and Canada, purposely and at direction of senior leadership. Let me just mention one other thing. The threat spike that I remember and that I recall from that summer of '01 were -- and the things that I was reading -- and I was the vice chairman then so I might not have gotten all of the PDDs, but I think I probably saw the intelligence eventually -- were external to the United States. That's where the threat was, and that's where we took action. And we sortied ships, we changed force protection conditions, particularly in Central Command, but other places around the world based on that intelligence. But I don't remember reading those documents to an internal threat.

RUMSFELD: And it certainly was not business as usual. When we saw those threats, a whole host of steps were taken by way of force protection.

GORELICK: May I ask one more question, Mr. Chairman? We can't go into the content of the PDDs and the SEIBs here. And I can't even characterize them in order to ask you the next question that I would ask. So let me ask you this: Was it your understanding that the NORAD pilots who were circling over Washington D.C. that morning had indeed received a shoot-down order?

RUMSFELD: When I arrived in the command center, one of the first things I heard, and I was with you, was that the order had been given and that the pilots -- correction, not the pilots necessarily, but the command had been given the instructions that their pilots could, in fact, use their weapons to shoot down a commercial airliners filled with our people in the event that the aircraft appeared to be behaving in a threatening way and an unresponsive way.

GORELICK: Now, you make a distinction there between the command and the pilots. Was it your understanding that the pilots had received that order?

RUMSFELD: I'm trying to get in time because...

MYERS: Well, I think -- my understanding, I've talked to General Eberhart, commander now of NORAD, and I think he's briefed the staff. And I think what he told the staff, what he told me, as I recall, was that the pilots did -- at the appropriate point when the authority to engage civilian airliners was given, that the pilots knew that fairly quickly. I mean, it went down through the chain of command.

RUMSFELD: It was on a threat conference call that it was given, and everybody heard it simultaneously. The question then would be -- the reason I am hesitant is because we went through two or three iterations of the rules of engagement. And in the end, we

ended up delegating that authority to, at the lowest level, I believe, to two stars. MYERS: Right.

RUMSFELD: And the pilot would then describe the situation to that level. To the extent that level had time, they would come up to General Eberhart. To the extent Eberhart had time, he would come up to me. And to the extent I had time, I might talk to the president, which in fact, I did do on several occasions during the remainder of the day with respect to international flights heading to this country that were squawking hijack.

GORELICK: I'm just trying to understand whether it is your understanding that the NORAD pilots themselves, who were circling over Washington, as you referred to in your statement, whether they knew that they had authority to shoot down a plane. And if you don't know, it's fine to say that. You mentioned them in your statement, and I would like to know if you know the answer.

RUMSFELD: I do not know what they thought. In fact, I haven't talked to any of the pilots that were up there. I certainly was immediately concerned that we did know what they thought they could do.

RUMSFELD: And we began the process quite quickly of making changes to the standing rules of engagement, Dick Myers and I did, and then issuing that. And we then went back and revisited that question several times in the remaining week or two while we were still at various stages of alert. And we have since done that in connection with several other events such as the Prague summit.

GORELICK: As you know, we were not intending to address the issues of the day of in this hearing. And it is the subject of a full additional hearing, and we may be back to you with these questions with a more precise time line for you to look at. Thank you very much.



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