17 October 2003

Is the 9/11 commission getting tough?

As for the FAA and NORAD, their timid reaction on the morning of Sept. 11, has long baffled experts who have reviewed the tragic timeline in detail. They wonder, for instance, why it took the FAA 29 minutes, from 8:55 a.m. to 9:24 a.m. to notify NORAD that American Airlines Flight 77 bound for Los Angeles was drastically off course and heading for Washington, D.C. That, after two hijacked planes had already crashed into the World Trade Center.

Even more mysterious was fact that NORAD fighter jets were not scrambled from the closest Air Force base. Instead, the jets that were eventually scrambled in a vain attempt to intercept Flight 77 came from Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va., rather than Andrews Air Force Base right outside D.C.

During a public 9/11 commission hearing last spring, representatives from NORAD and the FAA disagreed over who told what to whom and when. Their testimony was often so puzzling, and contradictory, that commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said those officials may be forced to come back to testify again, this time under oath, something no inquiry witnesses have yet had to do.

This could get interesting. The various timelines for 9/11 have never made much sense and the big question has always been why the air defence system did nothing effective. The response to losing contact with golfer Stewart Payne's plane was quite different.

If, as claimed, all US agencies are co-operating with the 9/11 commission why is their FAA not co-operating?

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