RSS FeedFacebookSearch
Gary Younge
Military failed to act on hijacked airliner alert

The American military air defence command was told by the federal aviation administration that a hijacked commercial airliner was heading towards Washington 12 minutes before it hit. But during that crucial time the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and his top aides remained unaware of any imminent danger.

Defence command also failed to inform Pentagon authorities responsible for guarding the building and so no steps were taken to order an evacuation or otherwise alert the building's 20,000 employees.

During those 12 minutes two F-16 fighter jets took off in response to the threat, according to a chronology provided by the Pentagon. But they left from Virginia's Langley airforce base, 130 miles from the Pentagon, rather than Andrews air force base, which is only 15 miles away but had no planes on alert for continental air defence. Two minutes after the planes took off from Langley the Pentagon was struck by American Airlines flight 77.

There were 35 minutes between the time the second of two commercial airliners struck the World Trade Centre towers and when a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, killing 188 people including everyone on the aircraft, according to defence officials.

But while officials knew of the attacks in New York, few imagined that the Pentagon itself could be a target. Following the second attack, John Jester, chief of the defence protective service, which guards the Pentagon, raised the building's state of alert just one level, from normal to alpha, which demanded no more than spot-inspections of vehicles and increased police patrols.

Even after the Pentagon had been struck, those inside did not link the attacks they had been watching on their screens to the fire that had started to rage on the building's west side. "The first thought everyone had was that it had been a bomb," said Victoria Clarke, Mr Rumsfeld's spokeswoman.

It has also emerged that President Bush ordered US military pilots to intercept and shoot down commercial airliners over Washington if they refused to move away from the city.

"The president made the decision that if the plane would not divert, if they wouldn't pay any attention to instructions to move away from the city, as a last resort, our pilots were authorised to take them out," vice president Dick Cheney said in a televised interview.

"People say that's a horrendous decision to make, and it is," Mr Cheney said. But he added that the US "absolutely" would have acted on those orders if it could have prevented the attacks on the World Trade Centre or Pentagon.

He said the US military in effect implemented a "flying combat air patrol" over Washington. It would be up to President Bush to decide if that policy would be made permanent, Mr Cheney said.

© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Who Are We – And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?
book review
The more power an identity carries, the less likely its carrier is to be aware of it as an identity at all.
 follow on twitter
RT @MCRSociology: Gary Younge discusses identity politics and America with Will Hutton in this episode of @thewesocietypod https://t.co/72…
RT @mart_welton: Congratulations to all those getting their A-level results today. If you have BBB at A-level or above you can still apply…
RT @BernardineEvari: Please follow the groundbreaking online #MuseumofColour UK, founded by the unstoppable Samenua Sesher. The 1st gallery…
RT @EthnicityUK: Gary Younge is interviewed by @sonikkalogan about his work on racism and gun violence in @the_hindu #DataPoint podcast. h…
RT @thefreedomi: 🚨 NEW: Saudi women’s rights activist & academic Salma al-Shehab was sentenced to 34 years in prison + 34 year travel ban f…
RT @LRB: #DawnFosterForever! On Thursday 15 September at the @LRBbookshop, @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lynsey Hanley and @garyyounge will d…
RT @ShowunmiV: This is how we support Black women and girls https://t.co/8YmgV21zHo
RT @sonikkalogan: It's #DataPoint Pod Thursday! In this week's episode, I talk to @noraneus, @garyyounge and @Casey_J_Wooten about the U.S.…
RT @bgnoiseuk: Next month, @LRBbookshop will host an event to celebrate the life and work of Dawn Foster with @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lyn…
Help me Twitter. The quote: ""You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming." is most commonly… https://t.co/Xs7JkiOEd5
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Can you buy xyzal over the counter Where can you get spiriva Can you buy avalide over the counter usa Nitrostat online canada Cheap clozaril 100 canada Generic lamisil prices How much does generic lipitor cost Can you take bactrim and levaquin together Lioresal online in india Buy norvasc online no prescription