What Really Happened on 9/11?

In yesterdays NY Observer, veteran investigative reporter Gail Sheehy begins to piece together a picture of events that is at startling odds with the version the public knows. For instance, did you know that, thanks to an airphone call from Flight Attendant Amy Sweeney, the FBI probably knew the names and addresses of three of the five hijackers on American Airlines’ Flight 11 15-20 mins before the plane crashed into the towers?

Mr. Woodward ordered a colleague to punch up those seat locations on the computer. At least 20 minutes before the plane crashed, the airline had the names, addresses, phone numbers and credit cards of three of the five hijackers. They knew that 9G was Abdulaziz al-Omari, 10B was Satam al-Suqami, and 9D was Mohamed Atta—the ringleader of the 9/11 terrorists.”The nightmare began before the first plane crashed,” said Mike Sweeney, “because once my wife gave the seat numbers of the hijackers and Michael Woodward pulled up the passenger information, Mohamed Atta’s name was out there. They had to know what they were up against.”

Flight Service Manager Michael Woodward was relaying that information from Sweeney directly to American’s HQ in Dallas as he went along.

Would American Airlines officials monitoring the Sweeney and Woodward dialogue have known right away that Mohamed Atta was connected to Al Qaeda?”The answer is probably yes,” said 9/11 commission member Bob Kerrey.

It is inconceivable that airline officials could know that they were dealing with known terrorists and not have apprised the FBI of what was going on. The FBI would have alerted both the FAA and the Air Force, and jets would have been scrambled to intercept the planes. But they weren’t. Despite the fact that radar tracked Flight 11’s turn toward NYC and knew its probable destination, Sheehy’s report suggests that no interceptors were ever dispatched. Why not?

The mythology that has grown up around that fateful day is gradually being replaced by actual knowledge, and as our information grows, popular myths are being shattered one-by-one. For example, the myth that the planes had been hijacked using nothing more complicated than box cutters. In fact, Amy Sweeney reported to Woodward that the hijackers of Flight 11 had a bomb.

“How do you know it’s a bomb?” asked her phone contact.”Because the hijackers showed me a bomb,” Sweeney said, describing its yellow and red wires.

Or the myth that the revolt of the passengers on Flight 93 was responsible for the plane’s destruction before it reached its target.

The story put out by United—of heroic passengers invading the cockpit and struggling with the terrorists—is not believable to Melody Homer or to Sandy Dahl, widow of the plane’s captain, Jason Dahl. Mrs. Dahl was a working flight attendant with United and knew the configuration of that 757 like the back of her hand.”We can’t imagine that passengers were able to get a cart out of its locked berth and push it down the single aisle and jam it into the cockpit with four strong, violent men behind the door,” said Ms. Homer.

Sheehy suggests that it seems more likely the plane was shot down at Bush’s order.

Vice President Richard Cheney called President George W. Bush to urge him to give the order that any other commercial airliners controlled by hijackers be shot down. In Bob Woodward’s book, Bush at War, the time of Mr. Cheney’s call was placed before 10 a.m. The Vice President explained to the President that a hijacked airliner was a weapon; even if the airliner was full of civilians, Mr. Cheney insisted, giving American fighter pilots the authority to fire on it was “the only practical answer.”The President responded, according to Mr. Woodward, “You bet.”

Defense officials told CNN on Sept. 16, 2001, that Mr. Bush had not given authorization to the Defense Department to shoot down a passenger airliner “until after the Pentagon had been struck.”

Bush apparently wasn’t notified about what was happening until almost 15 mins after the first attack–around 9am–and nearly 45 mins after Sweeney’s information had identified the hijackers and American’s HQ had confirmed the ID. You would have thought that was pretty late in the game as it was, yet Bush waited another hour before ordering civilian planes grounded and giving the order to shoot down the other hijacked aircraft. Melody Home, whose husband was Flight 93’s First Officer, is understandably livid over Bush’s achingly slow response.

“Whether or not my husband’s plane was shot down,” the widowed Mrs. Homer said, “the most angering part is reading about how the President handled this.”*****************************

[After being notified of the first crash, Bush] went into a private room and spoke by phone with his national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, and glanced at a TV in the room. Mrs. Homer’s soft voice curdles when she describes his reaction: “I can’t get over what Bush said when he was called about the first plane hitting the tower: ‘That’s some bad pilot.’ Why did people on the street assume right away it was a terrorist hijacking, but our President didn’t know?”

Maybe he was making one of those famous right-wing “jokes.”

But the worst of this is that the committee investigating 9/11 has ignored a lot of this basic evidence. They never interviewed Woodward, and a critical tape of Flight 11’s cockpit chatter recorded by the FAA Traffic Control Center at Nashua, NH which reportedly contains the voices of the hijackers threatening the crew, among other things, isn’t included on the commission’s evidence list even though the tape was removed by “Federal law enforcement officials” minutes after the first crash.

[Former Inspector General of the Department of Transportation 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 [and] not telling us everything.”

Granted the Bush Admin has been stonewalling their investigation for months and just refused their request for a 60-day extension because granting it might hurt the Pesident’s chances for re-election, still, why have they been ignoring evidence that is, as Sheehy puts it, “hiding in plain sight”?

This is a disturbing report, and even though it’s a long, somewhat complicated piece, I urge you to read it in its entirety. Sheehy has shown that we’ve moved way past conspiracy “theory” and into the borderlands of conspiracy “indications.” Something is going on here, and we have a right to know what it is.

(Via Atrios)

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