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9/11 Timeline

Project: 9/11 Timeline
Open-Content project managed by matt, Paul, KJF

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President Bush trying to use a cell phone as his motorcade nears the Sarasota airport.President Bush trying to use a cell phone as his motorcade nears the Sarasota airport. [Source: Associated Press]President Bush has difficulty communicating with colleagues in Washington, DC, while he is being driven to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 9/10/2006) Bush left the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, at around 9:35 a.m. to be driven to Air Force One (see (9:34 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Langley 12/16/2001; Bloomberg 6/17/2004) While he is in his limousine, he tries calling colleagues at the White House over a secure telephone line, but all the secure lines are down. He ends up trying to call Washington using a borrowed cell phone. Even this doesn’t work, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 9/10/2006) However, he talks with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice around this time, which means he is able to make at least one call (see (Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Bush 2010, pp. 128) Dave Wilkinson, assistant special agent in charge of the presidential protection division, will later comment on the difficulties Bush and his entourage have communicating with Washington today, saying, “Every kind of communication… was challenged” and the “communications network did not hold up.” (Graff 9/9/2016) Lee Hamilton, vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, will claim that Bush had difficulty communicating with Washington while he was being driven to the airport because members of his entourage all tried calling the capital at the same time after leaving the school, thereby causing a “communication jam.” However, the communication problems will continue after Bush takes off from Sarasota on Air Force One (see (9:54 a.m.-2:50 p.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 9/10/2006) The president’s difficulty reaching his colleagues in Washington during the drive to the airport is particularly notable since, just a few months ago, Bush instructed Joseph Hagin, his deputy chief of staff for operations, to promptly ensure that he is always able to make phone calls, after he had trouble making a call from his limousine (see Spring 2001). Hagin has apparently not yet fixed the problem. (Ambinder 4/11/2011)

According to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS contacts Washington flight control to ask about Flight 11. A manager there happens to mention, “We’re looking—we also lost American 77.” The commission claims, “This was the first notice to the military that American 77 was missing, and it had come by chance.… No one at FAA Command Center or headquarters ever asked for military assistance with American 77.” (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004) Yet, 38 minutes earlier, flight controllers determined Flight 77 was off course, out of radio contact, and had no transponder signal (see 8:56 a.m. September 11, 2001). They’d warned American Airlines headquarters within minutes. By some accounts, this is the first time NORAD is told about Flight 77, but other accounts have them warned around 9:25 a.m.

The Nantucket Hair Salon.The Nantucket Hair Salon. [Source: Nantucket Hair Salon]Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, is evacuated from a hair salon in Washington, DC, by her Secret Service agents, but, after initially heading toward the vice president’s residence, her car changes direction and heads to the White House after the Pentagon is hit. (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001; Cheney 11/9/2001) Cheney was at the Nantucket Hair Salon, near the White House, at the time of the plane crashes at the World Trade Center, but the Secret Service agents accompanying her did not evacuate her in response to those attacks (see (8:48 a.m.-9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001) At around 9:33 a.m., however, air traffic controllers informed the Secret Service that an unidentified aircraft was heading toward the White House (see (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Federal Aviation Administration 9/17/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 39)
Cheney Driven at 'High Speed' Away from Hair Salon - Presumably just a short time later, the Secret Service Joint Operations Center alerts the agents accompanying Cheney to the suspicious aircraft. One of the agents therefore decides to evacuate Cheney to the vice president’s residence, which is on the grounds of the US Naval Observatory in northwest Washington. (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001; King 10/26/2001; Koncius 11/27/2008) Cheney will later recall that her agents move her “rather briskly into a car” and then drive “at rather high speed” toward the vice president’s mansion. (Cheney 11/9/2001; Thomas 12/30/2001)
Car Makes 'Dramatic U-turn' and Heads to White House - During the journey, one of Cheney’s Secret Service agents phones a colleague who tells them that “the suspect airplane had crashed into the Pentagon,” according to Michael Seremetis, who is one of the agents accompanying Cheney this morning. (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001) (The Pentagon is hit at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 10) ) The colleague says that since Cheney’s motorcade is “on 15th Street and near the White House,” it should change destination and take Cheney to “the White House shelter” where she can join her husband. (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001) Cheney will recall that after her car has been heading toward the vice president’s residence for about five minutes, “we made a rather dramatic U-turn in the middle of the street and headed toward the White House.” (Cheney 11/9/2001) She will comment that after the Pentagon has been hit, the Secret Service “decided that maybe it would be safer for me to be underneath the White House. The immediate threat was gone, so they took me there.” (Skiba 7/2/2002; NPR 7/2/2002) Cheney will arrive at the White House as it is being evacuated (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Thomas 12/30/2001)

Daniel Caine.Daniel Caine. [Source: White House]The Secret Service calls the District of Columbia Air National Guard (DCANG) at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, and asks if it can get fighter jets launched. (Filson 2003, pp. 78)
Secret Service Calls DCANG - Major Daniel Caine, the supervisor of flying with the 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard, which is based at Andrews, called his contact at the Secret Service earlier on to see if they needed assistance from his unit, but was told they did not (see (Between 9:05 a.m. and 9:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001). But the Secret Service has just learned of a suspicious aircraft five miles from the White House (see (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and so one of its agents now calls Caine back. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/17/2001 pdf file; Spencer 2008, pp. 124, 156) Caine’s previous call to the Secret Service had been with agent Kenneth Beauchamp, who told Caine he would call back. However, he did not do so. The name of the agent that makes the current call is unstated. (9/11 Commission 3/8/2004 pdf file)
Agent Wants Planes Launched - The Secret Service agent asks, “Can you get airplanes up?” He then tells Caine to stand by, and says somebody else will call. Caine will later recall, “When I heard the tone in his voice, I called our bomb dump and told them to uncrate our missiles.” (Filson 2003, pp. 78) But before Caine does this, Lieutenant Colonel Marc Sasseville, the acting operations group commander under the 113th Wing, calls Brigadier General David Wherley, the commander of the 113th Wing, to get permission to use their “war-reserve missiles.” Wherley gives the go-ahead, and then Caine calls the weapons loaders across the base and orders them, “Get some live AIM-9s [missiles] and bring them over!” At the same time, Sasseville calls the unit’s maintenance officer and orders that their jets be prepared for launch (see (9:35 a.m.-11:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Scott 9/9/2002; 9/11 Commission 3/8/2004 pdf file; Spencer 2008, pp. 156-157) Someone from the Secret Service’s White House Joint Operations Center will soon call Caine, and request that armed fighters be launched over Washington (see (Shortly After 9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Filson 2003, pp. 78; 9/11 Commission 3/11/2004 pdf file)

Bush’s motorcade on its way to the Sarasota airport.Bush’s motorcade on its way to the Sarasota airport. [Source: CBC]President Bush’s motorcade leaves the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, to take Bush and his entourage to Air Force One, but it initially heads in the wrong direction and has to turn around in order to proceed toward the airport. (Sammon 10/8/2002; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 9/10/2006) Bush has just participated in a reading demonstration at the school (see 9:02 a.m. September 11, 2001) and given a brief statement to the nation in which he addressed the attacks on the World Trade Center (see 9:30 a.m. September 11, 2001). (White House 9/11/2001; Associated Press 8/25/2002) He now heads out of the school and gets into his limousine, which then speeds off to take him to his plane. (Sammon 2002, pp. 98-99; Rove 9/3/2013) Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, where Air Force One is waiting, is three and a half miles away from the school. (Paltrow 3/22/2004 pdf file; Morell 9/2006 pdf file) Bush’s motorcade drives there much faster than it normally travels. Whereas it usually goes at around 40 to 45 miles per hour, on this occasion the vehicles are driven at 80 to 85 miles per hour. (Rove 9/3/2013) However, it initially speeds off in the wrong direction and, after several kilometers, the vehicles have to perform a U-turn in order to head toward the airport. (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 9/10/2006) During the journey, Bush notices people at the sides of the road, smiling and waving at him, apparently unaware of the crisis that is taking place. (Sammon 2002, pp. 98) The Secret Service is concerned that he might be attacked on his way to the airport and provides a high level of security for him during the journey (see (Between (Between 9:35 a.m. and 9:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (BBC 9/1/2002; Rove 2010, pp. 251; Graff 9/9/2016) Bush will learn about the attack on the Pentagon while he is being driven to the airport (see (Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001). His motorcade will arrive at the airport between 9:42 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. (see (9:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 39)

NORAD’s air defence computer system, the AN/FYQ-93.NORAD’s air defence computer system, the AN/FYQ-93. [Source: Federation of American Scientists]A technician at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) instructs personnel on the NEADS operations floor to turn off their “sim switches,” apparently so as to remove from their radar screens simulated information for a training exercise that was being conducted this morning. (Northeast Air Defense Sector 8/23/2001; North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission 2004)
Staffer Complained, 'Let's Get Rid of This Goddamn Sim' - A few minutes earlier, at 9:30 a.m., a member of staff on the operations floor complained about simulated information—presumably false tracks—appearing on NEADS radar screens. He said: “You know what, let’s get rid of this godd_mn sim. Turn your sim switches off. Let’s get rid of that crap.” (North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/11/2001; North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/11/2001) (A “sim switch” presumably allows simulated material on radar scopes to be turned on or off.)
Technician Instructs, 'Turn Off Your Sim Switches' - Now a member of NEADS staff, who according to a 9/11 Commission document is Technical Sergeant Jeffrey Richmond, gives an instruction to the NEADS surveillance technicians, “All surveillance, turn off your sim switches.” Seconds later, apparently in response to this instruction, someone on the operations floor tells a colleague, “You got your sim switches down.” (North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission 2004)
Sim Switches Turned On for Day's Exercise - Simulated material (“sim”) is apparently appearing on NEADS radar screens because of the NORAD training exercise, Vigilant Guardian, that was being conducted this morning (see (6:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre has revealed that NORAD has the capacity to inject simulated material into the system, “as though it was being sensed for the first time by a radar site.” In a training exercise in December 1998, for example, NORAD ran “30 different simulations, some of them being mass attacks, some of them being single missiles.” An information page on the current exercise stated, “All of NEADS, operations personnel are to have their sim switches turned ‘on’ starting at 1400Z 6 Sept. 01 till endex [the end date of the exercise].” Since Vigilant Guardian was originally scheduled to continue until September 13, this would mean NEADS personnel had their sim switches turned on this morning. (US Department of Defense 1/15/1999; Northeast Air Defense Sector 8/23/2001)
Radar Equipment Set to Display 'Sim Tracks' - A memo outlining special instructions for Vigilant Guardian participants further detailed how NORAD equipment needed to be set to display simulated material during the exercise. It stated: “The exercise will be conducted sim over live on the air sovereignty string. The Q-93 must be placed in the mixed mode to allow the telling [i.e. the communicating of information between facilities] of sim tracks.” (Northeast Air Defense Sector 8/23/2001) The Q-93 is a piece of equipment used by NORAD, which is described as “a suite of computers and peripheral equipment configured to receive plot data from ground radar systems,” and which “performs track processing.” (General Accounting Office 12/24/1992 pdf file; Federation of American Scientists 4/23/2000) The Q-93 also “receives flight plans from the FAA, and has bi-directional communications with NORAD headquarters and a real-time link to AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System planes].” (Satterthwaite, Corman, and Herm 6/2002)
Exercise Supposedly Canceled Earlier On - While NEADS radar scopes are still displaying simulated material as late as 9:34 a.m., some accounts will claim the Vigilant Guardian exercise was canceled shortly after 9:03 a.m., when the second World Trade Center tower was hit (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Tudor 3/2002; Filson 2003, pp. 59) And according to a report in the Toronto Star, “Any simulated information” for the exercise was “purged from the [radar] screens” at NORAD’s operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, shortly before the second WTC tower was hit (see (9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Simmie 12/9/2001) However, NEADS will receive a phone call from the operations center at 10:12 a.m. in which the caller asks it to “terminate all exercise inputs coming into Cheyenne Mountain” (see 10:12 a.m. September 11, 2001). (North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/11/2001)

Mark Rothenberg.Mark Rothenberg. [Source: Family photo]Tom Burnett, a passenger on the hijacked Flight 93, calls his wife Deena Burnett a second time from the aircraft and is told about the planes hitting the World Trade Center. (Gordon 9/11/2002) Deena is on the phone with an FBI agent, reporting her husband’s previous call from the plane (see 9:31 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001), when she hears her call-waiting beep. She answers her husband’s call, making a note of the time. (Breslau, Clift, and Thomas 12/3/2001; Longman 2002, pp. 109-110) Tom tells her the plane’s hijackers are “in the cockpit. The guy they knifed is dead.… I tried to help him, but I couldn’t get a pulse.” (Burnett and Giombetti 2006, pp. 64) (According to journalist and author Jere Longman, Burnett is likely referring here to fellow passenger Mark Rothenberg. (Longman 2002, pp. 107) ) Deena says: “Tom, they are hijacking planes all up and down the East coast. They are taking them and hitting designated targets. They’ve already hit both towers of the World Trade Center.” (Burnett and Giombetti 2006, pp. 64) (When the FBI later interviews her (see (12:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), Deena will say it seemed her husband was already aware at this time that other flights had crashed into the WTC, although this possibility is not specifically brought up during their call. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001 pdf file) ) Tom says the hijackers are “talking about crashing this plane.” He adds: “Oh my gosh! It’s a suicide mission.” Deena hears him repeating the information she has told him to other people. When she asks who this is, he tells her he is talking to his seatmate. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001 pdf file; Burnett and Giombetti 2006, pp. 64) Tom wants to know if commercial aircraft have been hijacked, how many planes and which airlines are involved, and who is involved? (Longman 2002, pp. 110) He then says: “We’re turning back toward New York. We’re going back to the World Trade Center. No, wait, we’re turning back the other way. We’re going south.” He reports: “We’re over a rural area. It’s just fields. I’ve gotta go.” He then hangs up. The call has lasted about two minutes. (Burnett and Giombetti 2006, pp. 64) According to Longman, unlike his previous call, which he made using his cell phone, Tom Burnett makes this call using an Airfone. (Longman 2002, pp. 110) But other reports will state that he makes all four of his calls from Flight 93 using his cell phone. (Associated Press 9/13/2001; Snyder 4/19/2002; Sward 4/21/2002) According to notes of Deena Burnett’s later interview with the FBI, all Tom’s calls are made using his cell phone, but “one of the calls did not show on the caller identification as [Deena] was on the line with another call” when it was made. This could be referring to this second call, which occurred while Deena was on the phone with the FBI agent. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001 pdf file)

Personnel at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) are following Flight 93 while it is still flying west and before it reverses course, according to the accounts of some NEADS and NORAD officials, but their claims will be disputed by the 9/11 Commission. (Filson 2003, pp. 68, 71; 9/11 Commission 10/30/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 100-101)
NEADS Watches Flight 93 Heading West - Colonel Robert Marr, the battle commander at NEADS, will later recall that around this time, “his focus” is on Flight 93, which, he will say, is “circling over Chicago.” (9/11 Commission 10/27/2003 pdf file) Marr will tell author Leslie Filson that the flight is being monitored by NEADS personnel while it is still flying west. He will describe: “We don’t have fighters that way and we think [Flight 93 is] headed toward Detroit or Chicago. I’m thinking Chicago is the target.” Marr will say NEADS contacts an Air National Guard base in the area, “so they [can] head off 93 at the pass” (see (9:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Filson 2003, pp. 68)
NORAD Watching Flight 93 When It Changes Course - Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stuart, an intelligence officer who is in the NEADS battle cab with Marr, will give a similar account. He will say that when the Flight 93 “incident began to unfold,” it was his “professional judgment that the plane was going to strike the Sears Tower in Chicago, and he passed that judgment to Colonel Marr.” (9/11 Commission 10/30/2003 pdf file) And Major General Larry Arnold, the commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region, will say that NORAD personnel are already following Flight 93 at 9:36 a.m., when it reverses course and heads back east (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). He will tell Filson, “[W]e watched the 93 track as it meandered around the Ohio-Pennsylvania area and started to turn south toward [Washington,] DC.” (National Transportation Safety Board 2/19/2002 pdf file; Filson 2003, pp. 71; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 41) Marr will similarly say “that he distinctly remembers watching [Flight 93] come west and turn over Cleveland.” (9/11 Commission 1/23/2004 pdf file)
9/11 Commission Says No One at NORAD Watches Flight 93 - However, the 9/11 Commission will dispute these accounts. It will state: “The record demonstrates… that no one at any level in NORAD… ever ‘watched the 93 track’ start to turn south towards Washington, DC. In fact, the military never saw Flight 93 at all.” (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 101) NEADS will first be alerted to Flight 93 significantly later, at 10:07 a.m., according to the 9/11 Commission (see 10:05 a.m.-10:08 a.m. September 11, 2001).
Officer May Have Confused Flight 93 with Delta 1989 - The 9/11 Commission will suggest to Marr that he was mistaking Flight 93 for Delta Air Lines Flight 1989, an aircraft that is incorrectly reported as having been hijacked around this time (see (9:28 a.m.-9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and 9:39 a.m. September 11, 2001). Marr will respond that he may have confused Flight 93 with Delta 1989, but say that “he believes the last point at which he saw Flight 93 was when it was over Ohio, before it turned off its transponder,” which happens at 9:41 a.m. (see (9:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 1/23/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 27-30) Senior officials, including Marr and Arnold, will claim that the US military continues following Flight 93 after it reverses course and is heading toward Washington (see (9:36 a.m.-10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Filson 2003, pp. 71, 73) Stuart will say that after Flight 93 changes course, he “and other NEADS people knew it was headed to DC.” (9/11 Commission 10/30/2003 pdf file)

David Canoles.David Canoles. [Source: C-SPAN]Officials at FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, follow an unidentified aircraft—presumably Flight 77—that is approaching the capital as its progress is reported over a teleconference. (Levin, Adams, and Morrison 8/12/2002; Freni 2003, pp. 34) Air traffic controllers at the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) at Washington Dulles International Airport noticed the track of an aircraft flying rapidly east toward Washington on their radar screens at 9:32 a.m., according to the 9/11 Commission Report (see 9:32 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 25) Since then, the operations supervisor at the TRACON has been providing continuous updates over an FAA teleconference. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/17/2001 pdf file) At FAA headquarters, David Canoles, the FAA’s manager of air traffic evaluations and investigations, is participating in the teleconference and listens as the operations supervisor reports a “fast-moving target moving towards Washington.” The operations supervisor keeps describing the location of the aircraft. “Six miles from the White House,” they say, followed by, “Five miles from the White House.” Canoles realizes the aircraft is virtually on top of FAA headquarters and wonders if his building is its target. He instructs his colleague, Jeffrey Loague, to see if he can spot the aircraft out the window of the adjacent office. Canoles hears the operations supervisor reporting, “The aircraft is circling; it’s turning away from the White House” (see 9:34 a.m.- 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001), followed by, “It’s gone,” when the aircraft disappears from radar. Meanwhile, Loague notices the aircraft out of the window as it descends toward the Pentagon, according to author Pamela Freni. “I see something!” he yells. He describes the plane’s progress as it loses altitude and then disappears behind the buildings that surround the Pentagon. “Oh, my God!” he utters, when he then sees smoke rising into the air. (Levin, Adams, and Morrison 8/12/2002; Freni 2003, pp. 34-35; 9/11 Commission 3/25/2004) However, according to other accounts, Logue apparently does not report seeing the aircraft descending. Instead, he returns to the room after it crashes and tells Canoles only that he has seen smoke coming from the Pentagon. (ABC News 8/12/2002; 9/11 Commission 3/25/2004)

The Secret Service is concerned that President Bush might be the target of a terrorist attack while he is being driven to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and provides extensive security to protect him during the journey. (Rove 9/3/2013; Graff 9/9/2016) Bush and his entourage left the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, at around 9:35 a.m. to be driven to the airport, where Air Force One is waiting (see (9:34 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Langley 12/16/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 39) Bush’s Secret Service agents have arranged extensive security measures to protect the motorcade during the journey. Dave Wilkinson, assistant special agent in charge of the presidential protection division, will later describe: “We asked for double-motorcade blocks at the intersection. Double and triple blocks. Not just motorcycle officers standing there with their arms up, but vehicles actually blocking the road.” (Graff 9/9/2016) Additionally, the vehicles in the motorcade are driven at around twice the normal speed, going at 80 to 85 miles per hour instead of the usual 40 to 45 miles per hour. (Rove 9/3/2013) Furthermore, Secret Service agents in the motorcade “all had weapon barrels that were visible and they were pointing up at the ready position in case they needed to be used,” according to Officer Kevin Dowd of the Sarasota Police Department. (BBC 9/1/2002) The Secret Service is specifically worried that a suicide bomber might be nearby and try to crash a truck bomb or a car bomb into Bush’s limousine. Edward Marinzel, the head of Bush’s Secret Service detail, has therefore arranged for the Sarasota Police Department to mobilize every available patrol car and, as it travels to the airport, the limousine is surrounded on all sides by these cars. The hope is that they will block any suicide attack on the vehicle, should one be attempted. (Rove 2010, pp. 251; Rove 9/3/2013) The Secret Service is also “using the limos [in the motorcade] as a shell game, to keep the president safe” during the journey, Wilkinson will say. (Graff 9/9/2016)

An unknown flight attendant on Flight 93, later determined to be Sandy Bradshaw, calls the United Airlines maintenance facility in San Francisco, and reports that her plane has been hijacked. The San Francisco number is one that flight crews know to call if they need to report mechanical problems, obtain advice on troubleshooting, or request maintenance while in flight. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 40; United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, a/k/a Shaqil, a/k/a Abu Khalid al Sahrawi, Defendant. 4/11/2006 pdf file) Bradshaw makes her call from the rear of Flight 93, using an Airfone. (US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006 pdf file) A United Airlines maintenance employee initially answers the call. Shortly thereafter, it is taken over by a manager at the facility. Bradshaw reports that hijackers are in the cabin of her plane behind the first-class curtain, and also in the cockpit. They have pulled a knife, have killed a flight attendant, and have announced they have a bomb on board. The manager will later describe Bradshaw as being “shockingly calm” during the conversation. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 40; United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, a/k/a Shaqil, a/k/a Abu Khalid al Sahrawi, Defendant. 4/11/2006 pdf file) Bradshaw’s call lasts just under six minutes. (US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006) The manager reports the emergency to his supervisor, who passes the information to the crisis center at United Airlines’ headquarters, outside Chicago. (Levin, Adams, and Morrison 8/12/2002; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 40) After about 9:45-9:50, “everyone” in the crisis center will know “that a flight attendant on board” Flight 93 has “called the mechanics desk to report that one hijacker had a bomb strapped on and another was holding a knife on the crew.” (Mccartney and Carey 10/15/2001; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 43) The manager at the San Francisco maintenance facility instructs the Airfone operator to try and reestablish contact with the plane, but the effort is unsuccessful. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 40) At 9:50, Bradshaw will make another call from Flight 93, this time to her husband (see 9:50 a.m. September 11, 2001). (US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006, pp. 12 pdf file)

Weapons being driven across Andrews Air Force Base to the flight line on September 11.Weapons being driven across Andrews Air Force Base to the flight line on September 11. [Source: Corensa Brooks / District of Columbia Air National Guard]Munitions workers with the District of Columbia Air National Guard (DCANG) unload bullets and missiles from storage sheds, and work toward getting fighter jets armed to launch in response to the attacks, but even by 10:42 a.m., when two pilots take off, no jets have been armed with missiles. (Filson 2003, pp. 78, 82)
Ordered to Prepare Jets - The munitions crew with the 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, has been ordered to uncrate missiles and bring them across the base, while the unit’s maintenance officer has been told to prepare fighters for take off (see (Shortly After 9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Scott 9/9/2002; Filson 2003, pp. 78; 9/11 Commission 3/8/2004 pdf file; Spencer 2008, pp. 157) According to author Lynn Spencer, the unit’s “war-reserve missiles… are never touched, but are kept operational and in minimal numbers for non-alert wings like the DC Guard to allow for contingencies such as this.” (Spencer 2008, pp. 156)
Commander Anticipated Order - Colonel Don Mozley, the commander of the 113th Logistics Group, had been anticipating the order to get jets armed and ready to fly, and so has already instructed his weapons officer to “break out the AIM-9s and start building them up.” The missiles need to be transported across the base from its far side, which will take time. (Scott 9/9/2002)
Missiles Unloaded onto Trailer - The munitions crew unloads bullets and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles from storage sheds onto a flatbed trailer. Senior Master Sergeant David Bowman, the 113th Wing munitions supervisor, will later recall: “There were six of us there and we had 28 missiles to unload, and they each have three components. And if you drop one, you can’t use it anymore. We were doing it as fast as we could, because for all we knew the terrorists were getting ready to hit us.” Another officer will say the crew prepares the missiles “really fast,” but “we didn’t do it unsafely.”
45 Minutes to Get Missiles across Base - However, the trailer that carries the missiles has a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour and needs a security escort. It takes 45 minutes before the weapons crew has brought missiles across the base to the flight line, where aircraft park. Usually it takes much longer—three hours—to bring weapons from the storage sheds and load them onto fighter jets, according to two senior officers with the unit. Once the missiles have been carried across the base, it takes “no more than 10 minutes” to load each one onto an aircraft, according to one of those officers.
Jets Loaded with Ammo after Exercise - The arming of the fighter jets is apparently speeded up because one of the munitions staff had thought to load the jets with ammunition after members of the 113th Wing recently came back from a training exercise. (Filson 2003, pp. 78, 84; Rasmussen 9/18/2003; Spencer 2008, pp. 157) Three days earlier, members of the wing returned to Andrews after spending two weeks in Nevada for the “Red Flag” exercise (see Late August-September 8, 2001). (Vogel 4/8/2002; Spencer 2008, pp. 156) Master Sergeant Joseph Proctor, one of the unit’s “weapons guys,” had decided to take a load crew and put some ammunition in the jets brought back from Nevada, as these were empty following the exercise. According to Captain Brandon Rasmussen, a pilot with the unit, Proctor’s reason for doing this was so “they wouldn’t be in a rush on Tuesday morning [i.e. September 11],” and “he was thinking local flying and just to help us out a little bit.” Rasmussen will later thank Proctor because of the benefit his actions have on the unit’s response to the attacks, telling him, “If you hadn’t have done that we’d been dead in the water.” (Rasmussen 9/18/2003)
Jets Not Fully Armed at 10:42 - Yet in spite of actions like these, even by 10:42 a.m. on September 11, two F-16s that take off from Andrews have not yet been armed with missiles (see 10:42 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Filson 2003, pp. 82) Chief Master Sergeant Roy Belknap, the 113th Wing production superintendent, will later recall: “We had two air-to-air birds on the ramp… that already had ammo in them. We launched those first two with only hot guns. By then, we had missiles rolling up, so we loaded those other two airplanes while the pilots were sitting in the cockpit.” (Scott 9/9/2002) Those aircraft, the first jets to take off with missiles as well as guns, will launch at 11:11 a.m. (see 11:11 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Filson 2003, pp. 84; 9/11 Commission 2004; 9/11 Commission 2/17/2004)

A Continental Airlines flight transmits a special transponder code three times, indicating to air traffic controllers that it has been hijacked, but the pilot then reports that the plane is fine. At 9:36 a.m., John White, a manager at the FAA’s Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, will report the suspicious incident over the phone to Doug Davis, the special assistant for technical operations in air traffic services at FAA headquarters. White says that Continental Airlines Flight 321, which is flying from Cleveland to Denver and is currently over South Bend, Indiana, has “squawked hijack three times.” (Federal Aviation Administration 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission 11/4/2003) (Pilots can set their plane’s transponder—a device that sends information about the aircraft to controllers’ radar screens—to squawk a code of “7500,” which is the universal code that signals a plane has been hijacked. (Levin 8/12/2002; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 17) ) Yet, White says, “we have made contact with the pilot and the pilot has told us everything is okay.” White adds, “We are trying to determine why he squawked hijack.” At 9:48 a.m., asked if anything more is known about the aircraft, White will tell Davis, “I have no update on Continental 321.” An hour later, White will again be talking to Davis about Flight 321. He tells him that it is “on the ground at Peoria,” in Illinois, and that the FBI is “approaching the aircraft at this time.” (Federal Aviation Administration 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission 11/4/2003) Further details about Continental Airlines Flight 321, and why it wrongly signals it has been hijacked, are unknown.

In answer to a question from a weapons controller at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), one of the pilots that took off in response to Flight 11 confirms that he would be willing to shoot down a hijacked aircraft. (Spencer 2008, pp. 153) Major Kevin Nasypany, the NEADS mission crew commander, has already checked that his section heads and weapons technicians are prepared to order the shooting down of a civilian aircraft (see (9:19 a.m.) September 11, 2001). At 9:32, after NEADS received a report of a hijacked plane approaching Washington (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001), Major James Anderson asked Nasypany what would happen if they located that aircraft, saying, “Are we gonna shoot him down if they got passengers on board?” (Bronner 8/1/2006)
Duffy Says He Would Shoot down a Plane - Nasypany wants to be sure that his pilots are willing to follow a shootdown order, should one be issued. He therefore directs his weapons controller who is dealing with the fighter jets launched from Otis Air National Guard Base (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001) to check this. The weapons controller radios Otis pilot Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy and tells him, “If we get another hijack track, you’re going to be ordered to shoot it down.” He then asks, “Do you have a problem with that?” Somewhat startled by the question, Duffy replies, “No—no problem with that.” He reportedly thinks to himself, “If I have a problem with that order, I am in the wrong seat.” According to author Lynn Spencer, Duffy is “doing what he’s been trained to do.… [I]f he gets a legal, lawful order to take out an airliner, then that’s what he’s going to do. He knows every other fighter pilot would do the same.” Duffy and the other Otis pilot that launched with him, Major Daniel Nash, are “confident no plane will get past them: they’ll do what it takes, and follow any order, to protect New York.” (Spencer 2008, pp. 153) Duffy will later tell the Boston Globe: “[P]eople have said, ‘Would you have done it [i.e. shot down a hostile airliner]?’ Absolutely, that’s my job.” (Viser 9/11/2005)
No Shootdown Order Issued - However, according to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS personnel will only learn that NORAD has been cleared to shoot down threatening aircraft at 10:31 a.m. (see 10:31 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 42) And, according to most accounts, the two Otis pilots never receive an order from the military to shoot down an airliner (see (After 9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Dennehy 8/21/2002; Viser 9/11/2005) Duffy and Nash will also be contacted by a civilian air traffic controller regarding the possibility of shooting down a hijacked aircraft (see (9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (BBC 9/1/2002)

A contract crew has been installing furniture in the southwest perimeter of the Pentagon. Construction workers are currently doing the final touching up, after more than three years of renovation work on this area of the building, and some Defense Department employees are already moving into their new office spaces. But the wife of one crew member phones her husband after seeing footage of the attacks in New York on CNN and says she feels he is in danger at the Pentagon. Hearing of the attacks, the crew leader instructs his 23 workers to abandon what they are doing and evacuate. Moments later, as they are crossing the parking lot, they see the airliner crash into the exact area of the Pentagon they had just left. (Cahlink 5/1/2002; Freni 2003, pp. 43-44) There is no evidence that anyone else in the Pentagon evacuates the building before it is struck (see Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Adcock, Donovan, and Gordon 9/23/2001) Another report, which appears to be describing the same incident, says the construction crew evacuates for a different reason: to discuss security with a customer in the parking lot. (Ryan 9/14/2001)

The traffic management unit (TMU) at the FAA’s Boston Center calls NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) to ask whether military planes out on training should be sent home. Boston Center asks, “The military aircraft that are in the air right now, we’re wondering if we should tell them to return to base if they’re just on training missions, or what you guys suggest?” NEADS replies, “No, they’re actually on the active air for the DO [director of operations] out there,” but adds, “We did send the ones home in 105 that were on the training mission.” This is presumably a reference to some fighters from Otis Air National Guard Base that were training in “Whiskey 105,” which is military training airspace southeast of Long Island (see (9:00 a.m.-9:24 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:25 a.m.-9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Boston Center mentions that there are other military aircraft still airborne for training, and asks, “In general, anybody that’s training?” After consulting with colleagues, the member of staff at NEADS tells Boston, “Yes, go ahead and send them home.” (North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/11/2001) NEADS was involved in a major training exercise this morning, though this was reportedly canceled shortly after the second WTC tower was hit (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Seely 1/25/2002; Tudor 3/2002)

The Secret Service calls for the immediate evacuation of Vice President Dick Cheney from his office after learning that a suspicious aircraft is flying toward the White House. Air traffic controllers informed the Secret Service that an unidentified aircraft was heading toward the White House at around 9:33 a.m. (see (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001), but the aircraft then turned away from the White House and so, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, the Secret Service made no attempt to evacuate Cheney from his office at that time. Now, however, the Secret Service learns that the aircraft is “beginning to circle back.” This news prompts it to order “the immediate evacuation of the vice president.” (Federal Aviation Administration 9/17/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 39) Someone at the Secret Service Joint Operations Center at the White House passes on the details of the suspicious aircraft to Special Agent James Scott, the “on-duty shift whip” for Cheney’s Secret Service detail, and the shift agents with him in the West Wing of the White House, where Cheney’s office is located. The agents hear the “broadcast alert” over their radios, telling them, “Unidentified aircraft coming toward the White House.” (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001; United States Secret Service 11/17/2001 pdf file) Some or possibly all of the agents will immediately go into Cheney’s office, and hurry the vice president out of there and down toward the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, a bunker below the White House (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (United States Secret Service 11/17/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 39-40; Gellman 2008, pp. 114-116) However, a number of accounts will indicate that Cheney was evacuated from his office earlier on, at around 9:03 a.m., when the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Safire 9/13/2001; Langley 12/16/2001; ABC News 9/14/2002)

White House chief of staff Andrew Card, according to his own later recollections, learns that a threat has been made against Air Force One while he is traveling with President Bush to the airport in Sarasota, Florida, although other accounts will indicate that Bush and his entourage are first alerted to the threat at around 10:30 a.m. (Sammon 2002, pp. 106-107; Card 8/12/2002; Card 8/16/2002; Card 8/16/2002; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 554) Card is traveling with Bush in the presidential limousine to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, where Air Force One is waiting, after leaving the Emma E. Booker Elementary School (see (9:34 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Adair and Hegarty 9/8/2002; Martin 7/4/2004) Card will later recall that he and Bush are “both on the phones,” calling Washington, DC, to try and learn more about the terrorist attacks. He will say that as well as learning about the attack on the Pentagon (see (Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001), “we also heard that there had been a threat” to Air Force One. “The Secret Service had indicated to us that someone had used the code name for Air Force One and had indicated that it might be a target,” Card will recall. He will say his goal, therefore, is “to get [Bush] to Air Force One as quickly as possible and get Air Force One in the air.” (Card 8/16/2002; Card 8/16/2002) Apparently contradicting Card’s claim, most accounts will indicate that Bush and his entourage are first informed that a threat has been made against Air Force One at around 10:30 a.m. (see (10:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Sammon 2002, pp. 106-107; Woodward 2002, pp. 18; Kohn 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 554; Fleischer 2005, pp. 141-142) But Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Herman, a senior presidential communications officer who is in Sarasota with Bush, will support Card’s account. He will say that around the time the president’s motorcade is leaving the school, “There was some question… that Air Force One and the president were a target.” (Bates 10/2002) And Dave Wilkinson, one of Bush’s Secret Service agents, will say that while the motorcade is heading to the airport, “we hear that’s there’s something vague about a threat to the president.” (Graff 9/9/2016)

Danny Spriggs.Danny Spriggs. [Source: National Geographic]Danny Spriggs, the assistant director of the Secret Service’s Office of Protective Operations, arrives at the Director’s Crisis Center (DCC) at Secret Service headquarters and joins colleagues there in responding to the terrorist attacks, but the agents’ ability to take action is affected by the poor quality of the information they receive. (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/28/2003) The DCC is used to direct operations in emergencies. It is located on the ninth floor of the Secret Service headquarters in Washington, DC, and maintained within the Secret Service’s intelligence division. (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001; Kessler 2009, pp. 23-24) Brian Stafford, the director of the Secret Service, activated it after the two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, according to Spriggs (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Agent Joins Colleagues in Crisis Center - Spriggs will later recall that he arrives at the DCC at “approximately 9:35 a.m.,” and finds Stafford and Larry Cockell, the deputy director of the Secret Service, already there. At this time, Stafford is on the phone with the intelligence division. (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001) (However, White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke will claim that Stafford is with him in the White House Situation Room around this time (see (9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Clarke 2004, pp. 6-7) ) Shortly after entering the crisis center, Spriggs uses his “DCC designated telephone” to call Carl Truscott, the Secret Service special agent in charge of the presidential protective division. During the call, Spriggs alerts Truscott to a suspicious aircraft that is flying toward the White House (see (Shortly After 9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001; United States Secret Service 10/1/2001)
Agents Receive 'Conflicting' and 'Unconfirmed' Information - Spriggs will say that his “area of concern” while he is at the DCC is “the location of our protective details and the safety of our protectees.” He will recall, however, that when he arrives at the DCC, “many of the telephones” there are “not operational.” (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001) Furthermore, the amount of information that comes into the crisis center throughout the day is “enormous.” Spriggs will recall that, while he is at the DCC, the agents there receive “conflicting” information from the intelligence division, “unconfirmed data,” and “raw information,” which hinders their ability to make proper decisions. He will say that one of his colleagues at the DCC (whose name is unstated) is making decisions based on “inaccurate data that could have been quickly verified,” such as the misinformation that an aircraft crashed near Camp David (see (10:37 a.m.-11:09 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/28/2003)

A number of witnesses see a helicopter flying near the Pentagon in the minutes before the attack there.
bullet Jeffrey Mark Parsons, an assistant chief patrol agent with the United States Border Patrol, sees a blue and white helicopter that appears as if it is coming in to land, from a window on the 17th floor of the hotel he is staying at, near the Pentagon. Parsons will later recall that two or three minutes before the Pentagon attack occurs: “I saw [the helicopter] circle… between the hotel and the Pentagon, going toward the landing pad [at the Pentagon] where that airliner ultimately hit. And I thought that he landed on the pad.” Parsons will say the helicopter flies in at “a weird angle,” and recall that he has been staying at the Marriott Residence Inn in Arlington for almost a month, but has “never seen a helicopter approach the Pentagon from that direction before.” He will recognize the helicopter as a Huey because he has flown Hueys and knows they make “a very distinct sound.” According to John Darrell Sherwood, a Navy historian who interviews Parsons about the incident, the helicopter belongs to the US Park Police and has been instructed to intercept the aircraft that subsequently hits the Pentagon (see Shortly Before 9:35 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Parsons 12/13/2001; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 258)
bullet A senior Air Force officer who is somewhere outside the Pentagon also sees a helicopter circling the Pentagon around this time, although he believes it to be a US military helicopter. Shortly after the Pentagon attack, the unnamed officer will tell a CNN reporter that the helicopter “disappeared behind the building where the helicopter landing zone is… and he then saw [a] fireball go into the sky” when the Pentagon is hit. (CNN 9/11/2001)
bullet Jennifer Reichert, who is stuck in traffic on Route 27 in front of the Pentagon, will describe that just before the attack, “A helicopter takes off from the heliport at the Pentagon.” She will add: “Minutes—maybe seconds—later, I hear it: American Airlines Flight 77 screams toward the Pentagon. The explosion [of the crash] shakes my car.” (Washington Post 9/5/2002)
bullet Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Denny Watson, his CIA briefer, who are in Rumsfeld’s office at the Pentagon, see a helicopter flying very close to the building, outside the window of the office, and then pulling away just before the building is attacked (see Shortly Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Priess 2016, pp. 244-245)
Perhaps due to the presence of this helicopter in the area, some people will initially think the attack on the Pentagon involves a helicopter hitting the building. Captain William Durm, the commander of the Pentagon’s Triservice Dental Clinic, will head to the building’s center courtyard shortly after the Pentagon is hit. Someone there will tell him a helicopter has hit the other side of the building. (Office of Medical History 9/2004, pp. 11) Some early news reports will suggest a helicopter crashed into the Pentagon. (Thomas Crosbie Media 9/11/2001; Geisler 9/2/2002) One report will claim that “one aircraft and a helicopter have crashed into the Pentagon.” (Airline Industry Information 9/11/2001) Vice President Dick Cheney will tell NBC’s Meet the Press that “the first reports on the Pentagon attack suggested a helicopter” hit the building. (Cheney 9/16/2001) The Guardian will report that one witness claims the explosion that occurs when the Pentagon is hit blows up a helicopter circling overhead. (Borger et al. 9/12/2001) New York Times columnist William Safire will report that, at approximately this time, Cheney is told that either another plane or “a helicopter loaded with explosives” is heading for the White House. (Safire 9/13/2001)

When Flight 93 is over Youngstown, Ohio, Stacey Taylor and other Cleveland flight controllers see it rapidly climb 6,000 feet above its assigned altitude of 35,000 feet and then rapidly descend. The plane drops so quickly toward Cleveland that the flight controllers worry they might be the target. Other accounts say the climb occurs around 9:35 a.m. Controllers continue to try to contact the plane but still get no response. (Ellison 10/17/2001; Levin, Adams, and Morrison 8/12/2002; 9/11 Commission 6/17/2004)

In the middle of the 9/11 attacks, General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, drives from his NORAD headquarters office at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado to the NORAD operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, about a dozen miles away. The journey reportedly takes him 45 minutes and en route he loses a cell phone call with Vice President Cheney. The reason he makes this journey is unknown, though it is reported that there are superior communications capabilities available at Cheyenne Mountain. (Zubeck 6/16/2006; Finley 7/28/2006; Reid 7/29/2006) The exact times when Eberhart departs Peterson AFB and arrives at Cheyenne Mountain are unclear. General Richard Myers says that Eberhart phones him from Peterson either just before or just after the Pentagon is hit, which suggests that Eberhart heads out some time between 9:35 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. (Armed Forces Radio And Television Service 10/17/2001; 9/11 Commission 6/17/2004) Eberhart tells the 9/11 Commission that when he arrives at the NORAD operations center, the order to shoot down hijacked aircraft has already been passed down NORAD’s chain of command. According to the commission’s timeline, this would indicate he arrives after 10:31 a.m. (see 10:31 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 42) Yet other reports state that the massive blast doors to Cheyenne Mountain are shut at around 10:15 a.m. (see (10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001), which suggests that Eberhart arrives earlier.

Senior officials in the Executive Support Center (ESC) at the Pentagon decide against evacuating the Pentagon, despite being aware of the attacks on the World Trade Center. (Clarke 7/2/2002 pdf file; Eichenwald 2012, pp. 22) The ESC, on the third floor of the Pentagon, is “the place where the building’s top leadership goes to coordinate military operations during national emergencies,” according to Victoria Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. (Clarke 2006, pp. 219) Those currently in it include Clarke; Larry Di Rita, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s special assistant; Stephen Cambone, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy; and William Haynes, the general counsel of the Department of Defense.
Officials Discuss How to Respond to the Attacks - These officials know about the two crashes in New York and realize America is under attack. They are “talking about setting up a crisis action team and how we needed to respond to this apparent terrorist attack in New York City,” Haynes will later recall. They discuss things like, “Should we think about the force conditions [and] threat conditions?” according to Di Rita. (Rita 6/27/2002 pdf file; Clarke 7/2/2002 pdf file; Cambone 7/8/2002 pdf file; Haynes 4/8/2003 pdf file) However, they reportedly dismiss the possibility of evacuating their building. “The idea of evacuating the Pentagon was batted about, then rejected,” journalist and author Kurt Eichenwald will write. (Eichenwald 2012, pp. 22)
Two of the Officials Thought the Pentagon Might Be a Target - This is despite the fact that at least two of them have considered the possibility of the Pentagon being attacked. Haynes has spoken to David O. “Doc” Cooke, the Pentagon’s director of administration and management, and, he will recall, told him “that we ought to be thinking about the possibility of attacks here [at the Pentagon].” (Haynes 4/8/2003 pdf file) And Cambone has talked to Vice Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr., Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant, about the possibility of the Pentagon being a target and what they would do if it was attacked (see Between 9:03 a.m. and 9:35 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Cambone 7/8/2002 pdf file; Miles 9/8/2006) Clarke and Di Rita, however, will subsequently be unclear about whether they thought the Pentagon might be attacked. When asked, “Was there any anticipation at that time that the Pentagon also might be at risk?” Clarke will only say, “There was anticipation that lots of things might be at risk.” (Clarke 7/2/2002 pdf file) And when he is asked, “At that point was there a reason to expect a larger threat specific to the Pentagon?” Di Rita will reply, “I don’t know that I thought about that.” (Rita 6/27/2002 pdf file)
Official Will Order an Evacuation after the Pentagon Is Hit - No steps are taken to evacuate the Pentagon before it is attacked (see Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Adcock, Donovan, and Gordon 9/23/2001; Vogel 2007, pp. 429) Cambone will finally give the order for the building to be evacuated shortly after 9:37 a.m., when the attack occurs (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Those in the ESC will feel and hear the impact (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Someone will then come in and report to them that the building has been hit by an airplane. “At that moment, I asked for the building to be evacuated and also locked down,” Cambone will recall. (Cambone 7/8/2002 pdf file; Clarke 2006, pp. 220)

Danny Spriggs, the assistant director of the Secret Service’s Office of Protective Operations, informs Carl Truscott, the Secret Service special agent in charge of the presidential protective division, that a suspicious aircraft is flying toward the White House. Spriggs is currently in the Director’s Crisis Center (DCC) on the ninth floor of the Secret Service headquarters in Washington, DC (see (9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Truscott is at his office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, meeting with three other senior Secret Service agents to discuss security enhancements at the White House (see (9:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Deputy Director Tells Colleague about Approaching Aircraft - Spriggs phoned Truscott after learning that a Secret Service agent he was inquiring about is in Truscott’s office. Now, while he is talking to Truscott, Spriggs is told by Larry Cockell, the deputy director of the Secret Service, who is with him in the DCC, that an aircraft is flying toward the White House and the Secret Service is evacuating the White House. Spriggs passes this information on to Truscott. According to Truscott, Spriggs says that “the intelligence division duty desk [is] reporting Federal Aviation Administration information that a suspicious aircraft [is] coming toward Washington, DC, and that the White House [is] being evacuated.” (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001; United States Secret Service 10/1/2001) (Personnel from the intelligence division at Secret Service headquarters are participating in a phone conference with Federal Aviation Administration headquarters, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. Presumably this is where the intelligence division duty desk received its information from. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 464) )
Agent Says He Will Evacuate the White House - Truscott tells Spriggs he had been unaware of the approaching aircraft, and says he will initiate the evacuations of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Truscott will later recall that while Spriggs is telling him about the approaching aircraft, a Secret Service agent who is with him in his office is receiving “similar FAA information via telephone” from another agent. The name of that agent is unstated. The exact time at which Spriggs tells Truscott about the aircraft flying toward the White House is unclear. Truscott will say that Spriggs called him at 9:43 a.m. However, Spriggs will say he arrived at the DCC at “approximately 9:35 a.m.,” and he apparently called Truscott shortly after that. (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001; United States Secret Service 10/1/2001)

A KC-135 Stratotanker.A KC-135 Stratotanker. [Source: Boeing]The two F-15 fighter jets launched from Otis Air National Guard Base in response to Flight 11 (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001) are finally able to refuel, after they request to rendezvous with a tanker plane that was scheduled to refuel Otis fighters out on training missions this morning. (Scott 6/3/2002; Spencer 2008, pp. 153)
Fighters Low on Fuel - By around 9:35 a.m., according to author Lynn Spencer, the two Otis fighters are running increasingly low on fuel and need to find a fuel tanker right away. For about the last 25 minutes, technicians at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) have been searching for a tanker (see (9:09 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Spencer 2008, pp. 112 and 152-153) A member of staff at NEADS in fact talked over the radio with a KC-135 tanker from Bangor, Maine, at around 9:05 a.m., and the plane’s crew agreed to provide support to the Otis fighters launched in response to Flight 11 (see 9:04 a.m.-9:06 a.m. September 11, 2001). (North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/11/2001; North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/11/2001) However, the pilots of these fighters have apparently not heard back from NEADS about whether it has been able to find a tanker for them. Now one of the pilots, Major Daniel Nash, has come up with a solution. Prior to being put on alert duty, he had been acting as the scheduling officer at Otis Air Base, and he therefore knows that a training mission a number of Otis fighters were scheduled to fly today called for refueling (see (9:00 a.m.-9:24 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Consequently he knows about the KC-135 tanker plane from Bangor that NEADS communicated with earlier on, which had been scheduled to support those fighters during their training. (102nd Fighter Wing 2001; Spencer 2008, pp. 152-153)
Tanker Heading toward Training Airspace - The tanker plane, which has the call sign “Maine 85,” is one of the eight KC-135s that are attached to the 101st Air Refueling Wing, based at Bangor International Airport. Its pilots are Lieutenant Colonel Adam Jenkins and Lieutenant Colonel Andy Marshall. (Cohen 9/13/2001; Ricker 9/9/2011) It had been scheduled to rendezvous with the Otis fighters on their training mission about 20 minutes from now in “Whiskey 105,” the military training airspace just south of Long Island, where Nash and his fellow Otis pilot Timothy Duffy had earlier been flying in a “holding pattern” (see 9:09 a.m.-9:13 a.m. September 11, 2001). The KC-135 should be on its way there now. Nash calls Duffy and tells him, “[W]e have a tanker scheduled for the training missions this morning off the coast in 105.” Duffy calls NEADS and requests that the KC-135 orbit at 20,000 feet above New York’s JFK International Airport. NEADS then coordinates with the 101st Air Refueling Wing to borrow the tanker. (Scott 6/3/2002; Spencer 2008, pp. 153)
Tanker Directed toward New York - The KC-135 is instructed to fly toward Manhattan. Jenkins will later recall, “We were told to start heading west to the city.” The voice over his radio tells him, “We’ll give you details along the way.” (Ricker 9/9/2011) Soon, the KC-135 is flying an orbit over JFK Airport and the two Otis fighters then take turns refueling. (Grant 2004, pp. 21; Grant and Thompson 10/6/2006, pp. 4 pdf file; Spencer 2008, pp. 153) According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the two Otis fighters arrived over Manhattan at 9:25 a.m. (see 9:25 a.m. September 11, 2001), but accounts of most witnesses on the ground indicate they do not arrive there until after 10:00 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 24)

Bill Grimes.Bill Grimes. [Source: Lori A. Bultman / US Air Force]Colonel Bill Grimes receives a call in which he is asked about getting the Predator drone, a remotely controlled, unmanned plane, ready to fly over Afghanistan. (Whittle 2014, pp. 235) Grimes is the director of Big Safari, a highly secretive Air Force program based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio that specializes in modifying standard Air Force aircraft for time-sensitive and highly classified operations. (Defense Update 5/3/2013; Michel 12/17/2015) He was in his office at Wright-Patterson this morning when a colleague told him an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. He then joined others watching the television coverage of the incident in the conference room next to his office and saw the second hijacked plane crashing into the WTC, at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). “Within a few minutes” of the second crash, according to journalist and author Richard Whittle, Grimes is called back to his office to take a call from Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Johns, who is at Air Force headquarters at the Pentagon. Johns wants to know what needs to be done to get three Predators, and whatever is needed to fly them over Afghanistan, ready to go. But just as the two men start discussing the matter, Johns says he will have to call again later, since the Pentagon is being evacuated. This evacuation is presumably in response to the attack on the Pentagon, which occurs at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Grimes says he will have answers by the time the two men talk again. (Whittle 2014, pp. 235) He will subsequently call members of his team, and tell them to pack their bags and prepare to deploy. He will instruct them to go to the airfield at Palmdale, California, where a C-17 cargo plane will arrive soon to pick them up. Grimes will later write that he starts calling the members of his team “[m]ere moments after the second airliner crashed into the World Trade Center.” According to Whittle, he starts making the calls “shortly after” the second crash at the WTC. However, if his conversation with Johns occurs around the time of the Pentagon attack, he presumably only starts calling the members of his team after 9:37 a.m. A C-17 will set off tomorrow to fly three Predators, along with members of Grimes’s team, from California to Washington, DC (see September 12-14, 2001). (Whittle 2011, pp. 25 pdf file; Grimes 2014, pp. 334-335; Whittle 2014, pp. 239-240)

Dick Cheney heading to the the Presidential Emergency Operations Center.Dick Cheney heading to the the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. [Source: David Bohrer / White House]Vice President Dick Cheney is taken by the Secret Service from his office to an underground tunnel leading to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House around this time, according to some accounts, including the 9/11 Commission Report, although other accounts will suggest he was evacuated from his office about half an hour earlier. (United States Secret Service 11/17/2001 pdf file; Thomas 12/30/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 39-40; Hayes 2007, pp. 333, 335) Cheney, who is in his office in the West Wing of the White House, is aware of the two plane crashes in New York and realizes this is a terrorist attack. He is now “watching developments on the television,” he will later recall, and starting “to get organized to figure out what to do.” (Cheney 9/16/2001; Hayes 2007, pp. 330-331) The Secret Service was informed that an unidentified aircraft was heading toward the White House at around 9:33 a.m. (see (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Concern about this aircraft prompted it to order the evacuation of Cheney “just before 9:36,” according to the 9/11 Commission Report (see (9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Federal Aviation Administration 9/17/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 39)
Armed Agents Enter Cheney's Office - Four or five Secret Service agents carrying submachine guns therefore enter Cheney’s office, according to Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman. One of them, Special Agent James Scott, pushes through the group of government officials who are gathered around Cheney (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and tells the vice president, “Sir, we need to move you—now.” Cheney nods, indicating that he will respond to the agent in a moment, and then turns to say something to another person. But Scott brings down the flat of his hand sharply on Cheney’s desk and commands, ”Now!” (Gellman 2008, pp. 114-115)
Cheney Propelled out of His Office - Scott then puts his hand on Cheney’s shoulder, grabs the vice president by the back of his belt, and moves him out the door. (Hayes 2007, pp. 333) Cheney will comment that Secret Service agents “practice this, I’m sure, because… whether you wanted to move or not, you’re going. They don’t exactly pick you up and carry you. It’s more like they propel you forward.” (Cheney 11/19/2001) As the Secret Service agents take Cheney through his outer office, the vice president manages to grab the latest issue of The Economist off a table. “I’m always carrying something in case I get hung up someplace,” he will explain. “I’ve got to have something to read.” (Thomas 12/30/2001; Hayes 2007, pp. 333) Carrying the magazine but nothing more, Cheney is hurried down the hallway, past the Oval Office, and down into the basement of the White House. (Cheney 11/19/2001)
Other Officials Left in Cheney's Office - The officials who were with Cheney are left in his office. Mary Matalin, one of Cheney’s senior advisers, will recall: “[S]peechwriter John McConnell and I were left behind in his office, staring at each other as if to say, ‘What are we, chopped liver?’ I think I actually said that.” (National Review 9/8/2011) Cheney will arrive in the underground tunnel leading to the PEOC about a minute after he leaves his office (see (9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). There he will learn that the Pentagon has been hit and talk over the phone with the president (see (9:45 a.m.-9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001) before heading into the PEOC (see (9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 40; Hayes 2007, pp. 335-336) However, according to some accounts, Cheney was evacuated from his office a significant time earlier on, around 9:03 a.m., when the second plane crashed in New York (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Safire 9/13/2001; Langley 12/16/2001; ABC News 9/14/2002; Clarke 2004, pp. 1-2)

The air traffic control tower at an Army airfield near the Pentagon receives a call from someone at Washington’s Reagan National Airport—presumably an air traffic controller—who instructs it to recall all its aircraft. (Exempt 11/14/2001 pdf file) Davison Army Airfield is at Fort Belvoir, 12 miles south of the Pentagon. The 12th Aviation Battalion, which is the Military District of Washington’s aviation support unit, is stationed there. This includes three helicopter companies that fly UH-1 “Huey” and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. (Military District of Washington 8/2000)
Airfield Told to Land All Aircraft 'Very Quickly' - According to a supervisor of air traffic control at Davison Airfield who is currently in the airfield’s control tower, shortly before the time when the Pentagon is hit a controller at his facility receives the call from Reagan Airport telling them to recall all their air traffic. The supervisor, who will say that the caller is “going crazy,” takes over the call. The caller then tells him to “recall all your traffic. Just make sure that everybody lands.… [H]e was like, telling us, everybody that you got outside, bring them in and land them quickly, very quickly.” The supervisor tells him, “Give me a reason and I’ll do it,” but the caller responds, “I can’t tell you the reason, but you need to do this.” (Exempt 11/14/2001 pdf file) (At around 9:32 a.m., according to the 9/11 Commission, Washington’s Dulles Airport notified Reagan Airport of a “radar target tracking eastbound at a high rate of speed” toward Washington (see 9:32 a.m. September 11, 2001), so it is plausible that this is what has prompted Reagan Airport to call the Davison control tower. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 33) )
Davison Airfield Recalls Its Aircraft - After the caller hangs up, the supervisor at Davison Airfield instructs the air traffic controller at his facility to “tell everybody to come in.” The controller then starts “recalling everybody that just departed,” and the supervisor approves “for them to make it straight in, the helicopters to land straight in without using the regular traffic pattern.” The control tower recalls its aircraft individually, rather than putting out a single broadcast telling all aircraft to return to the airfield. The supervisor will recall: “[E]verybody was coming in. And at that time when everybody was coming in… I was like thinking, why? Why do they want to recall everybody? That means that something is going on.” While the control tower is still recalling its aircraft, the supervisor looks out of a window to the northeast, and notices a large black cloud of smoke in the area of the Pentagon, the result of the attack there. (Exempt 11/14/2001 pdf file) It is unclear what aircraft from Davison Airfield are airborne and recalled to base. But a 12th Aviation Battalion helicopter and its crew that are always on standby for “contingency” missions have been away this morning, conducting a traffic survey (see Early Morning September 11, 2001). They are presumably recalled at this time, if not beforehand. (Exempt 11/14/2001 pdf file)

General John Keane, vice chief of staff of the Army, talks on the phone with Major General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s director of operations, readiness, and mobilization, about a suspicious plane that is approaching Washington, DC, and the two men discuss evacuating buildings in the capital, including the Pentagon. Keane called Chiarelli from his office at the Pentagon after he learned a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and instructed him to bring the Army Operations Center (AOC) at the Pentagon up to full manning (see (Between 8:49 a.m. and 9:02 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Officer Is Monitoring FAA Communications - Sometime after the second hijacked plane crashed into the WTC (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001), Chiarelli, who is now in the AOC himself, calls Keane to confirm that the operations center is fully manned. He also says he is monitoring FAA communications and all planes are being grounded, Keane will later recall. (Keane 9/10/2016; Swift 9/11/2016) (However, the FAA will only order its facilities to instruct aircraft to land at the nearest airport at around 9:45 a.m., which is later than this conversation occurs (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (US Congress. House. Committee On Transportation And Infrastructure 9/21/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 29) )
Officer Was Told about an Aircraft Approaching Washington - Before Chiarelli left his office and went to the AOC, an intelligence analyst told him additional aircraft had been hijacked and one of them was thought to be heading toward Washington. An intelligence officer told him about this aircraft again after he reached the AOC (see (Shortly Before 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Chiarelli 2/5/2002; Rossow 2003, pp. 65-66) Presumably based, at least partly, on what these intelligence officers said, Chiarelli tells Keane about the suspicious aircraft, apparently Flight 77, which is now in the vicinity of Washington. (Baier 9/12/2011)
Officers Discuss Evacuating Buildings in Washington - He says, “There’s an airplane that has come up from I-95 south towards Washington, DC, and it turned east and went back down, and they’re tracking it.” He adds: “I think this airplane was out in Ohio someplace and it turned around (see (8:54 a.m.) September 11, 2001). It’s probably where they [i.e. hijackers] took charge of it and [air traffic controllers] haven’t been able to get a hold of it.” The two men conclude that the suspicious aircraft is heading for a building in the capital. Keane asks Chiarelli, “Well, what’s the plan to evacuate buildings in Washington?” Chiarelli replies, “I’ve already asked that question.” Keane then asks: “Well, what’s the plan to evacuate this building [i.e. the Pentagon]? Why isn’t it being evacuated?” What, if anything, Chiarelli says in response is unstated. (Swift 9/11/2016) Keane and Chiarelli will still be holding this conversation at 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon is hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001), and will continue it after the attack occurs (see (Shortly After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Keane 9/10/2016)

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Denny Watson, his CIA briefer, see a helicopter flying very close to the Pentagon, just outside the window of Rumsfeld’s office, shortly before the Pentagon is attacked. (Priess 2016, pp. 244-245) Watson has been giving Rumsfeld his daily intelligence briefing in his office at the Pentagon and they are both aware of the crashes at the World Trade Center (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 37; Rumsfeld 2011, pp. 335) Rumsfeld is skimming through a copy of the President’s Daily Brief when the sound of a helicopter outside causes him to stop what he is doing. The helicopter, which is blue and white, is “hovering so close to the window that I could see what one of the men in it looked like,” Watson will later recall. He has “dark hair, a beard and a mustache, and reflector sunglasses.” Rumsfeld and Watson talk about how easy it would be for the pilot to turn the helicopter and crash into Rumsfeld’s office. Finally, the helicopter pulls away from the Pentagon. As it does, Rumsfeld and Watson feel the building shake due to it being attacked (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Priess 2016, pp. 244-245) A number of other people will recall seeing a helicopter flying close to the Pentagon around this time (see (9:35 a.m.-9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (CNN 9/11/2001; Washington Post 9/5/2002) One of them, Jeffrey Mark Parsons, will describe the helicopter he sees as being blue and white, so it is presumably the helicopter that Rumsfeld and Watson see. The helicopter belongs to the US Park Police and its pilot has been directed to try and intercept a plane, presumably Flight 77, that was approaching the Pentagon, according to US Navy historian John Darrell Sherwood (see Shortly Before 9:35 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Parsons 12/13/2001)

In response to an emergency 911 telephone call, the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center dispatches several units to deal with an apartment fire at 1003 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn, Virginia—within the vicinity of the Pentagon. Because this fire is in a high-rise building, nine different fire and medical service units are dispatched. However, the first engine crew to arrive radios to the other units that the fire has gone out. Consequently, by “sheer coincidence,” at the time when the Pentagon is hit, there are a significant number of available fire and medical service units already on the road nearby. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A9 pdf file; Eversburg 11/2002) Assistant Chief James Schwartz of the Arlington County Fire Department will later recall that, around this time, firefighters are dispatched in response to an alarm at the high-rise USA Today complex in Rosslyn (see (Shortly Before 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The address of the complex is 1000 and 1110 Wilson Boulevard, suggesting this is in fact the same incident as the “apartment fire” at 1003 Wilson Boulevard. (Lohr 9/7/2001; Schwartz 2008) Furthermore, apparently around this same time, soldiers from a bomb ordnance disposal unit at Fort Belvoir, 12 miles south of the Pentagon, are on their way to do a sweep of the Pentagon heliport, ready for the expected arrival of the president there at around midday (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 64-65)

Sergeant William Lagasse.Sergeant William Lagasse. [Source: Citizen Investigation Team]Several police officers and firefighters see the low-flying Flight 77 as it approaches the Pentagon and crashes. They quickly report this to their own agencies or to the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center (ECC), which is the focal point of all police and fire 911 calls for the county. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 66)
bullet Arlington County Police Department Corporal Barry Foust is stopped at traffic lights less than two miles from the Pentagon, and spots the aircraft flying low, then sees a plume of smoke. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 13) He immediately calls the ECC and calmly reports: “I think we just had an airplane crash east of here. Must be in the District area.” (Cohn and Cho 9/17/2001; Associated Press 9/18/2001; US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. C6 pdf file)
bullet Police Motorcycle Officer Richard Cox is standing near a diner less than a mile from the Pentagon. Hearing a sudden roar, he turns and reportedly sees the plane “directly overhead… no more than a hundred feet off the ground.” (Vogel 2007, pp. 427) He calls the ECC and reports, “It’s an American Airlines plane headed eastbound over the [Columbia] Pike, possibly headed for the Pentagon.” (Cohn and Cho 9/17/2001; Associated Press 9/18/2001; US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. C6 pdf file)
bullet Fire Captain Steve McCoy and his crew are traveling north on Interstate 395 in ACFD Engine 101, for a training session in Crystal City. McCoy reportedly sees “a commercial airliner in steep descent, banking sharply to its right before disappearing beyond the horizon,” followed by “a tremendous explosion” and “a massive plume of smoke and fire.” He immediately radioes ECC and reports, “We got a plane down, it looks like in the Crystal City area by the 14th Street Bridge.” Being aware of the attacks on the World Trade Center, he advises that the FBI should be notified, as this is a possible terrorist attack. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A4 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 66)
bullet Officer Mark Bright of the Defense Protective Service (DPS)—the Pentagon’s police force—is manning the security booth at the Pentagon’s Mall entrance, when he hears a loud noise. He will recall: “I saw the plane at the Navy Annex area [a few hundred yards from the Pentagon]. I knew it was going to strike the building because it was very, very low—at the height of the street lights.” As soon as he sees it hit the Pentagon he radioes in his report of the attack, and then speeds in his police cruiser to the crash site, becoming the first officer there. (Garamone 9/24/2001; Thomas-Lester 10/25/2001; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 152)
bullet Sergeant William Lagasse, also a member of the DPS, is filling up his patrol car at a gas station near the Pentagon. He recalls that he sees an “American Airlines 757… approximately 100 feet above the ground level, maybe 60 feet in front of me.” He watches the plane crash into the Pentagon. His first reaction is to call the DPS Communications Center and state, “An aircraft has just flown into the side of the building.” He then grabs his medical bag and dashes to the crash scene. (Thomas-Lester 10/25/2001; Lagasse 12/4/2001)
bullet Alan Wallace and Mark Skipper of the Fort Myer Fire Department are manning the fire station by the Pentagon heliport, and are outside checking their truck. Wallace glances up and sees the plane coming at them, and the two men then dive for cover (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Wallace promptly radioes the fire department headquarters at Fort Myer, and reports that an airliner has hit the west side of the Pentagon. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 65)
Partly due to these calls, many emergency responders quickly learn of the crash and are able to arrive at the Pentagon within minutes of it (see 9:40 a.m.-9:43 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 66) Some fire and rescue units from Arlington County and elsewhere also respond—self-dispatching from stations or diverting from other destinations—after hearing Captain McCoy’s radio message to the ECC. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A4 pdf file)

At the United Airlines crisis center, at its headquarters outside Chicago, staff members watch Flight 93’s radar track until the plane crashes. United Airlines’ senior management has started to gather in the theater-like crisis center, a room that resembles NASA’s Mission Control. Although the airline still has hundreds of flights in the air, officials have highlighted only Flight 93’s path on the large Aircraft Situation Display screen. Even after the plane’s transponder has been switched off (see (9:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001), the flight can still be tracked, but officials can no longer determine its altitude. They watch as the plane’s speed fluctuates wildly while it heads toward Washington. Hank Krakowski, United Airlines’ director of flight operations, will later recall: “We knew what was going on. We could see the airplane headed toward the capital. We were wondering whether the military was going to intervene or not.” Those in the crisis center see Flight 93’s radar track stop moving at the time it crashes. A dispatcher determines the latitude and longitude of its last position and reports that it was south of Johnstown in Pennsylvania, about 120 miles from Washington. (Mccartney and Carey 10/15/2001; Longman 2002, pp. 77-78 and 214; Adams, Levin, and Morrison 8/13/2002)

Government buildings in Washington, DC, are not evacuated prior to the attack on the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. As CNN will later describe, even after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the FAA’s warning to the military of a hijacked aircraft apparently heading toward Washington (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (9:24 a.m.) September 11, 2001), “the federal government failed to make any move to evacuate the White House, Capitol, State Department, or the Pentagon.” (Plante 9/16/2001) Although a slow evacuation of the White House begins at around 9:20 a.m. (see (9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001), it is not until 9:45 a.m. that the Secret Service orders people to run from there (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (CNN 9/11/2001; CNN 9/12/2001; ABC News 9/11/2002) Other government buildings, including the Capitol (see 9:48 a.m. September 11, 2001), the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Supreme Court (see 10:15 a.m. September 11, 2001), will not be evacuated until between 9:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. (US News and World Report 9/14/2001; US Department of State 8/15/2002) Robert Bonner, who was recently nominated as Commissioner of Customs, will estimate that he was evacuated from the Treasury Department at “about 9:35 a.m.” (9/11 Commission 1/26/2004; Bonner 9/20/2004) But other accounts will say the Treasury Department was not evacuated until after the Pentagon attack. (Crutsinger 9/11/2001; Reuters 9/11/2001; Dam 9/11/2002) Furthermore, journalist and author Robert Draper will describe, even after the State and Treasury Departments have been evacuated, “no agents thought to take charge of the Commerce Department, which housed 5,000 employees.” (Draper 2007, pp. 143) According to CNN, prior to the Pentagon attack: “[N]either the FAA, NORAD, nor any other federal government organ made any effort to evacuate the buildings in Washington. Officials at the Pentagon said that no mechanism existed within the US government to notify various departments and agencies under such circumstances [as occur today].” (Plante 9/16/2001)

The District of Columbia Air National Guard (DCANG) at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, receives a call from the Secret Service at its White House Joint Operations Center (JOC), requesting armed fighter jets over the capital.
JOC Calls DC Air National Guard - Major Daniel Caine is the supervisor of flying with the 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard at Andrews, and is currently at the operations desk, where a Secret Service agent recently called him and asked if the DCANG could launch fighters. The agent then told Caine to stand by and said someone else would call (see (Shortly After 9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Now the phone rings, and Caine answers it. The caller, from the JOC, asks for armed fighter jets over Washington. Caine is unsure how the JOC has got the operations desk phone number. He will later speculate that it got it from Secret Service agent Kenneth Beauchamp, who he’d contacted earlier on (see (Between 9:05 a.m. and 9:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Caine Possibly Hears Cheney in Background - The name of the caller is unstated. However, Caine believes he can hear Vice President Dick Cheney’s voice in the background. He will tell author Lesley Filson: “I could hear plain as day the vice president talking in the background. That’s basically where we got the execute order. It was ‘VFR [visual flight rules] direct.’” He will later tell the 9/11 Commission that he “thought, but would not swear to it, that he heard the vice president’s voice in the background.”
Caine Learns of Pentagon Attack - Around this time, Caine learns that the Pentagon has been hit. Even though the Pentagon is just 10 miles from Andrews Air Force Base, he will later recall that he only learns of the attack from news reports, and “no other source.” The result of learning this, according to Caine, is that “the intensity level increased even more.” (Filson 2003, pp. 76, 78; 9/11 Commission 3/8/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 3/11/2004 pdf file)
Commander Arrives, Takes over Call - At some point during Caine’s call with the JOC, apparently soon after the Pentagon attack, Brigadier General David Wherley, the commander of the DC Air National Guard, finally arrives at the headquarters of the 121st Fighter Squadron, where Caine and his colleagues are (see (Shortly After 9:39 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (The 121st Fighter Squadron is part of the 113th Wing of the DCANG.) At this time, Caine has a phone to each ear. He passes the phone with the call from the JOC to Wherley, saying, “Boss… here, you take this one!” He passes the other to Lieutenant Colonel Phil Thompson, the chief of safety for the 113th Wing. Caine has decided he is going to fly, and so Thompson will be replacing him as the unit’s supervisor of flying. Caine then goes to join the other pilots that are suiting up, ready to take off in their jets. (Scott 9/9/2002; Filson 2003, pp. 78-79; 9/11 Commission 3/8/2004 pdf file; Spencer 2008, pp. 184) Caine will take off from Andrews at 11:11 a.m. (see 11:11 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Filson 2003, pp. 84; 9/11 Commission 2004; 9/11 Commission 2/17/2004)

A typical C-130.A typical C-130. [Source: US Air Force Reserve Command]Washington’s Reagan National Airport air traffic control instructs a military C-130 cargo plane that has just departed Andrews Air Force Base to intercept Flight 77 and identify it. (Wald and Sack 10/16/2001; Ellison 10/17/2001) Remarkably, this C-130 is the same C-130 that will be 17 miles from Flight 93 when it later crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside (see 10:08 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Pittsburgh Channel 9/15/2001; Sternberg 9/11/2002) The pilot, Lt. Col. Steve O’Brien, will claim that he took off around 9:30 a.m., planning to return to Minnesota after dropping supplies off in the Caribbean. He will describe his close encounter: “When air traffic control asked me if we had him [Flight 77] in sight, I told him that was an understatement—by then, he had pretty much filled our windscreen. Then he made a pretty aggressive turn so he was moving right in front of us, a mile and a half, two miles away. I said we had him in sight, then the controller asked me what kind of plane it was. That caught us up, because normally they have all that information. The controller didn’t seem to know anything.” O’Brien reports that the plane is either a 757 or 767 and its silver fuselage means it is probably an American Airlines plane. “They told us to turn and follow that aircraft—in 20 plus years of flying, I’ve never been asked to do something like that.” (Sternberg 9/11/2002) O’Brien and his crew, Maj. Robert Schumacher and flight engineer Master Sgt. Jeffrey Rosenthal, are unaware of the attacks in New York. Schumacher will say that, after being directed to follow Flight 77, he first thought that the plane was having technical difficulties, “that the pilots were really just trying to fly the airplane, and get it on the ground safely.” After the impact, O’Brien tunes in to a news broadcast, but is surprised to hear about a second crash in New York, not at the Pentagon. He will recall: “The first thing we heard on there was ‘We’re now hearing about a second airplane hitting the World Trade Center.’ That was not what we were expecting to hear. We were expecting to hear about an airplane impacting the Pentagon… and the light goes on, and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, the nation’s under attack!’” (Catlin 5/31/2004) The 9/11 Commission will report that O’Brien specifically identifies the hijacked plane as a Boeing 757. Seconds after impact, he reports to the Washington tower, “Looks like that aircraft crashed into the Pentagon, sir.” (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004)

Dr. Thomas Mayer.Dr. Thomas Mayer. [Source: Studer Group]The air traffic control tower at Washington Dulles International Airport notifies Inova Fairfax Hospital—the largest hospital in Northern Virginia—that a hijacked aircraft is missing. It passes this information to Dr. Thomas Mayer, the chair of the hospital’s emergency department. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 117) At around 9:32 a.m., air traffic controllers at the FAA’s terminal control facility at Dulles had “observed a primary radar target,” later determined to be Flight 77, “tracking eastbound at a high rate of speed” (see 9:32 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 25; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 33) Mayer will later recall: “We knew that something was headed towards the national capital area. We didn’t know where. But we knew we needed to get ready. So we immediately went on disaster planning mode.” (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 117) The Arlington County After-Action Report indicates the hospital in fact initiates its disaster plan earlier than Mayer suggests, stating: “Inova Fairfax Hospital activated its disaster plan following reports of the World Trade Center attacks. Subsequently, the hospital received emergency notification of a missing airliner from the Washington Dulles International Airport tower.” The hospital cancels elective surgeries until 6:00 p.m. and makes eight trauma teams available within 20 minutes. The regular emergency room is relocated to an alternate site, and nearly 100 nurses and doctors prepare to respond in the event of an attack in the Washington Metropolitan Area. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. B3 pdf file) Due to the strategic importance of the region, Inova Fairfax and the other hospitals and clinics in the Washington area are particularly well prepared for mass casualty incidents. They regularly conduct drills to practice for chemical or biological attacks. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 115)

United Airlines flight dispatcher Ed Ballinger is informed that Flight 93, which he is responsible for monitoring, is heading for Washington, DC. At the United Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center, near Chicago, dispatch manager Mike Barber tells Ballinger that Flight 93 is “off track, heading for DC.” The aircraft has just reversed course (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and, having learned that it is not responding to FAA communications (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001), officials at United Airlines headquarters now believe it has been hijacked. (Mccartney and Carey 10/15/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 456; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 41) Also at this time, a United dispatcher who is assisting Ballinger sends a text message to Flight 93, asking, “How’s the wx [weather][?]” and, “Can dispatch be of any assistance?” No response is received. (9/11 Commission 1/27/2004; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 41)

NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) declares “AFIO” (Authorization for Interceptor Operations) for Washington airspace, giving the military authority over the FAA for that airspace, and directs the fighter jets launched from Langley Air Force Base (see (9:25 a.m.-9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001) toward the White House. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 33; Spencer 2008, pp. 113, 150) Colin Scoggins, the military liaison at the FAA’s Boston Center, has just called to report an unidentified aircraft closing in on Washington, DC, which is currently six miles southeast of the White House (see 9:36 a.m. September 11, 2001).
Nasypany Declares AFIO - Major Kevin Nasypany, the NEADS mission crew commander, is unaware that the F-16s he scrambled from Langley Air Force Base are heading out to sea rather than going north toward the Baltimore area (see 9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). He therefore orders Major James Fox, the leader of the NEADS weapons team, to direct the Langley jets toward the White House, telling him: “I got an aircraft six miles east of the White House! Get your fighters there as soon as possible!” Fox asks, “Do you want us to declare AFIO?” Nasypany replies, “Take [the Langley fighters] and run ‘em to the White House,” and adds, “I want AFIO right now!” (Spencer 2008, pp. 150) Declaring AFIO gives the military emergency authority to enter FAA-controlled airspace without permission, and means that NORAD assumes responsibility for ensuring that its fighter jets see and avoid all aircraft in that airspace. NEADS has already declared AFIO for New York airspace (see (9:12 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Federal Aviation Administration 2/19/2004, pp. 4-12-1 - 4-12-2; Spencer 2008, pp. 113) Now it does the same for Washington airspace. Fox tells the members of his weapons team: “We’re going direct [to] DC with my guys. Tell Giant Killer that we’re going AFIO!” (Spencer 2008, pp. 150) (“Giant Killer” is the call sign for the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility in Virginia Beach, Virginia—the Navy air traffic control agency that handles all over-water military operations. (Wald 2/10/1997; Spencer 2008, pp. 143) )
NEADS Unable to Contact Langley Jets - Master Sergeant Steve Citino, the NEADS weapons director, tries calling Langley pilot Major Dean Eckmann to inform him of the AFIO declaration, but receives no response. According to author Lynn Spencer, the Langley jets are not yet in NEADS’s radio range. Meanwhile, NEADS Staff Sergeant William Huckabone calls Giant Killer and notifies it: “Ma’am, we are going AFIO right now with Quit 2-5 [the Langley fighters]. They are going direct [to] Washington.” But the controller only offers modest reassurance that the Langley jets will be given the appropriate clearance to enter Washington airspace, responding, “We’re handing ‘em off to [the FAA’s Washington] Center right now.” Huckabone retorts: “Ma’am, we need that expedited right now! We need to contact them on 234.6.… Do you understand?”
NEADS Reaches Langley Jets - As soon as the Langley jets enter radio range, Citino makes contact with pilot Craig Borgstrom and instructs him, “Squawk quad-sevens and head 010!” This means the pilots should dial the code for AFIO—7777—into their planes’ transponders. Borgstrom radios fellow pilot Eckmann and passes on this instruction. According to Spencer: “The declaration of AFIO startles Eckmann. He has never, in all his years of flying, received such an order. He’s only heard about it and, to him, it means no less than the start of World War III.” (Spencer 2008, pp. 150-151) At 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon is hit, the Langley jets have flown nearly 60 miles out over the ocean and are 150 miles from Washington (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 27; Spencer 2008, pp. 151)

According to journalist and author Jere Longman, after her husband Tom Burnett has called her a second time from the hijacked Flight 93 (see 9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001), Deena Burnett calls the FBI again. She had previously spoken with an FBI agent after she’d called 911 following her first call from her husband (see 9:31 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). Longman provides no details of what is said during this second call to the FBI. (Longman 2002, pp. 110-111) Deena Burnett’s account, presented in her own 2006 book, will make no mention of any call to the FBI at this time. She only says that at this time she speaks by phone with her husband’s two sisters and his parents. According to her 2006 account, Deena will not speak to the FBI a second time until around 10:00 a.m., after Tom has made his fourth and final call to her from Flight 93 (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Burnett and Giombetti 2006, pp. 64-65 and 68-69)

Major Lorie Brown.Major Lorie Brown. [Source: US Medicine]The DiLorenzo Tricare Health Clinic inside the Pentagon has its equipment for dealing with mass casualty (MASCAL) incidents out of storage this morning, because staff members are doing an inventory. Major Lorie Brown, the chief nurse, will need to initiate the clinic’s MASCAL disaster plan after the Pentagon is hit at 9:37 a.m. (see Soon after 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). She later says, “So there were many pieces that just fell into place and worked so well on that day. It was just fortuitous. It was just amazing that way that things kind of happened the way they did.” (Boivin 9/24/2001; Office of Medical History 9/2004, pp. 7)

John Jester.John Jester. [Source: The Pentagon Channel]John Jester, the chief of the Defense Protective Service (DPS), which guards the Pentagon, finally gives the instruction to raise the Pentagon’s state of alert, though only by one level. Jester had been in his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon when he learned of the attacks in New York (see Shortly After 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). He had reviewed contingency plans and procedures for increasing security with DPS Major James Phillips, and then headed to the office of David O. “Doc” Cooke, the head of the Washington Headquarters Services. Jester next goes to the office of his immediate supervisor Paul Haselbush, the director of real estate and facilities. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 151-152) Jester will recall that Haselbush asks him: “What if a plane were to come here? It’s just a thought that people have had. What if it were to occur here?” Jester replies: “Hopefully it is not going to happen here. What can you do to defend a building against a plane?” (Murphy 2002, pp. 244) According to the Defense Department’s own book about the Pentagon attack, before returning to his office Jester meets with his deputy, John Pugrud, and directs him to notify the DPS Communications Center to raise the Terrorist Force Protection Condition. This ranges from Normal up through four higher levels, Alpha to Delta. But Jester only instructs that it be raised one level, from Normal to Alpha, which means a general threat of possible terrorist activity exists that requires enhanced security. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 152) It requires spot-inspections of vehicles and increased police patrols. (Graham 9/16/2001) In one account, Jester will recall having instructed Pugrud to increase the threat level earlier, before he’d headed to Cooke’s office. (Murphy 2002, pp. 244) But other evidence is consistent with him giving this instruction at the later time, minutes before the Pentagon attack. For example, Marine Corporal Timothy Garofola reportedly receives an e-mail shortly before the Pentagon is struck, informing all Defense Department employees that the threat condition remains at Normal (see (Shortly Before 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Allison 11/2001) And Pugrud is reportedly trying to phone the DPS Communications Center about raising the threat level at the very time the Pentagon is hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 152)

Before the Pentagon is hit, no steps are taken to alert or evacuate the building’s 20,000 employees. Even Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his top aides are reportedly unaware of a rogue plane heading toward Washington prior to the attack there. (Rumsfeld 9/16/2001; Adcock, Donovan, and Gordon 9/23/2001; Vogel 2007, pp. 429) Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood will later try to explain why the Pentagon is not evacuated at this time, saying: “To call for a general evacuation, at that point, it would have been just guessing. We evacuate when we know something is a real threat to us.” He says that an evacuation could have put employees at risk by moving them outside the protection provided by the building’s walls. Another Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Lt. Col. Vic Warzinski, will add, “The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way.” (Adcock, Donovan, and Gordon 9/23/2001) Yet, as early as 9:21, the FAA warned the military of a hijacked aircraft heading toward Washington (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (9:24 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The National Military Command Center (NMCC), located inside the Pentagon, was aware of this hijacked aircraft by 9:30, according to the 9/11 Commission (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 26 and 37; Vogel 2007, pp. 429) The New York Times will in fact report that, since shortly before 9:00 a.m., “military officials in [the NMCC] were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” (Wald 9/15/2001) The order to evacuate will only go out over the Pentagon’s public address system shortly after the building is hit. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 137-138) The Defense Protective Service, which guards the Pentagon, does not order that the building’s threat level be raised until the time when it is hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 151-152)

Colin Scoggins, the military liaison at the FAA’s Boston Center, calls NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) to report a low-flying airliner he has spotted six miles southeast of the White House. He can offer no details regarding its identity. The plane is reportedly Flight 77, but as it has its transponder turned off, no one realizes this at the time. The news of the plane “sets off a frenzy.” Major Kevin Nasypany orders Major James Fox, head of the NEADS weapons team, “Get your fighters there as soon as possible!” Staff Sergeant William Huckabone says, “Ma’am, we are going AFIO [emergency military control of the fighters] right now with Quit 2-5 [the Langley Air Force Base fighters]” (see 9:36 a.m. September 11, 2001), and adds, “They are going direct Washington.” (Bronner 8/1/2006) The Langley fighters will arrive over Washington some time around 10 a.m. (see (Between 9:49 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

According to most accounts, the two fighter jets launched from Otis Air National Guard Base in response to the hijacked Flight 11 (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001) never receive an order from the military to shoot down hostile aircraft. However, one account will suggest otherwise. (Dennehy 8/21/2002; Filson 2003, pp. 70; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 42-44; Viser 9/11/2005) According to the 9/11 Commission, personnel at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) learn that NORAD has been cleared to shoot down threatening aircraft at 10:31 a.m., but they do not pass this order on to the fighter pilots (see 10:31 a.m. September 11, 2001). The only order conveyed to the pilots is to “ID type and tail” of hostile aircraft. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 42-43) In 2005, the Boston Globe will report that the two Otis pilots, Major Daniel Nash and Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Duffy, “stressed that they never had orders to shoot down any of the [hijacked] planes.” (Viser 9/11/2005) However, in October 2002, Duffy will tell author Leslie Filson that, while flying over Manhattan, he and Nash “were given clearance to kill over their radio frequencies, but to this day aren’t sure who gave that order. Was it NEADS or a civilian air traffic controller?” (Filson 2003, pp. 70, 89) At around 9:35 a.m., NEADS radioed Duffy to check he would be prepared to shoot down a hijacked aircraft (see (9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Spencer 2008, pp. 153) And at some point, a civilian air traffic controller tells the two Otis pilots that if another plane is hijacked, it will have to be shot down (see (9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Dennehy 8/21/2002)

According to the later claims of several senior officials, the US military is tracking Flight 93 as it heads east and is ready to shoot it down if necessary.
bullet According to Brigadier General Montague Winfield, the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) has “received the report from the FAA that Flight 93 had turned off its transponder, had turned, and was now heading towards Washington, DC.” Winfield will add, “The decision was made to try to go intercept Flight 93.” (ABC News 9/11/2002)
bullet General Richard Myers, the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will write that in the NMCC, “We learned that there was apparently a fourth hijacked aircraft, United Airlines Flight 93 out of Newark, bound nonstop for San Francisco. Like the other planes, it had switched off its transponder, making it much harder if not impossible to track on ground radar.” (Myers 2009, pp. 152)
bullet Major General Larry Arnold, the commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region, will say, “I was personally anxious to see what 93 was going to do, and our intent was to intercept it.” Three fighters have taken off from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia (see (9:25 a.m.-9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to Arnold, “we launched the aircraft out of Langley to put them over top of Washington, DC, not in response to American Airline 77, but really to put them in position in case United 93 were to head that way.” (9/11 Commission 5/23/2003) He says, “as we discussed it in the conference call, we decided not to move fighters toward 93 until it was closer because there could have been other aircraft coming in,” but adds, “I had every intention of shooting down United 93 if it continued to progress toward Washington, DC… whether we had authority or not.” (Filson 2003, pp. 73)
bullet Colonel Robert Marr, the battle commander at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), is reportedly “focused on United Flight 93, headed straight toward Washington.” He will concur with Arnold, saying: “United Airlines Flight 93 would not have hit Washington, DC. He would have been engaged and shot down before he got there.” (Filson 2003, pp. 73) Marr and Arnold will both say they were tracking Flight 93 even earlier on, while it was still heading west (see Shortly Before 9:36 a.m. September 11, 2001).
Yet, contradicting these claims, the 9/11 Commission will conclude that the military only learns about Flight 93 around the time it crashes. It says the NMCC learns of the hijacking at 10:03 a.m. (see 10:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). Based upon official records, including recordings of the NEADS operations floor, it says NEADS never follows Flight 93 on radar and is first alerted to it at 10:07 a.m. (see 10:05 a.m.-10:08 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 30-31, 34 and 42; Farmer 4/30/2006; Bronner 8/1/2006)

An air traffic controller in the tower at Reagan National Airport.An air traffic controller in the tower at Reagan National Airport. [Source: Rob Ballenger / NPR]An air traffic controller in the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) at Washington’s Reagan National Airport calls the airport’s control tower and alerts it to an unidentified aircraft that is approaching and heading in the direction of the White House. (Spencer 2008, pp. 145-146, 158) The TRACON was recently contacted by controllers at Washington Dulles International Airport and notified of this aircraft, which is later determined to be Flight 77 (see (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Phillips 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 33) TRACON controllers have watched it on radar as it traveled almost 10 miles south of the airport, and then turned back toward Washington.
TRACON Calls Tower - A controller in the TRACON now phones Chris Stephenson, the supervisor in the Reagan Airport control tower, and says to him, “See in the sky, five miles west of you?” Stephenson thinks he has identified the target the controller is referring to on his radar screen, but it is the wrong one. The controller clarifies: “No! The ‘LOOK’ tag! See the ‘LOOK’ tag? It’s a 757! Do you see anything out there?” Stephenson then looks out of the window and can see the plane, now less than a mile away, coming in fast. (Spencer 2008, pp. 158) He sees it turning to the right and descending. (Levin 8/11/2002) A tour group from FAA headquarters is currently looking around the tower, and Stephenson promptly orders its members to “get out” of there (see (9:32 a.m.-9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Time of First Notification Unclear - According to author Lynn Spencer, Stephenson was unaware of the approaching aircraft prior to this call from the TRACON. (Spencer 2008, pp. 157-158) But USA Today will claim he received a call at “[a]bout 9:30” from the Secret Service, telling him an unidentified aircraft was speeding toward Washington (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Levin 8/11/2002) Furthermore, after the Reagan TRACON was alerted to the aircraft, departure controller Dan Creedon quickly attached a data box to its radar track with the word “LOOK” in it, which would allow other controllers—including those in the control tower—to quickly spot it and track it on their screens. Why Stephenson had not noticed this is unclear. (9/11 Commission 7/28/2003 pdf file; Spencer 2008, pp. 145-146)

Peter Murphy.Peter Murphy. [Source: Gerry J. Gilmore]Peter Murphy, the counsel to the commandant of the Marine Corps, is in his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon’s outer E Ring, watching the CNN coverage of the attacks in New York. Having seen what happened, Murphy had asked Robert Hogue, his deputy counsel, to check with their administrative clerk, Corporal Timothy Garofola, on the current security status of the Pentagon. Yet despite what has happened in New York, Garofola has reportedly “just received an e-mail from the security manager to all Department of Defense employees that the threat condition remained ‘Normal.’” Garofola passes this information to Hogue. As Hogue is stepping into Murphy’s office to relay the message to him, there is a tremendous explosion as the Pentagon is hit. (Allison 11/2001; Bhatti 9/11/2002; Dwyer 8/3/2003) Reportedly, John Pugrud—the deputy chief of the Defense Protective Service, which guards the Pentagon—is finally about to pass on an instruction to raise the threat level at this time, when the Pentagon is hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 152) The aircraft crashes two floors below and just yards to the right of Murphy’s office. Fortunately, neither he nor any of the men with him are hurt, and they all manage to make it safely outside. (Gilmore 8/16/2002)

The Marriott Residence Inn in Arlington, Virginia.The Marriott Residence Inn in Arlington, Virginia. [Source: Marriott International]An American Airlines plane takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, flying toward the Pentagon, just before the Pentagon attack occurs, according to a witness who says he sees the plane out the window of his hotel room.
Plane Takes Off toward Pentagon - Jeffrey Mark Parsons, an assistant chief patrol agent with the United States Border Patrol, is staying on the 17th floor of the Marriott Residence Inn in Arlington, Virginia. When later interviewed by Navy historian John Darrell Sherwood about his experiences of the 9/11 attacks, Parsons will recall: “I was looking out my window. I have a perfect view of Reagan National Airport. An American Airlines plane had just taken off, I mean, not 30 seconds before this plane [Flight 77] hit the Pentagon.” Parsons will add that the American Airlines plane is “taking off to the north, to the, different than the normal way. In other words, they were taking off toward the Pentagon.” (Parsons 12/13/2001; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 258) Reagan National Airport is less than a mile from the Pentagon. (Adair and Garza 10/3/2001) Parsons will continue, “Well, this American Airlines plane had just taken off, I mean it couldn’t have been a minute, 30 seconds before this plane [Flight 77] hit the Pentagon.” (Parsons 12/13/2001) Flight 77 hits the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001) and, like the plane Parsons sees, is an American Airlines aircraft. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 10)
American Airlines and Reagan Airport Planes Supposedly Grounded - And yet Chris Stephenson, the supervisor in the Reagan National Airport control tower, reportedly stopped takeoffs from Reagan Airport in the minutes after 9:03 a.m., when Flight 175 hit the World Trade Center (see (9:04 a.m.-9:11 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Levin 8/11/2002) And at 9:00 a.m., American Airlines ordered all its aircraft in the Northeast United States that had not yet taken off to remain on the ground (see Between 9:00 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 30) Furthermore, the FAA ordered a nationwide ground stop at around 9:26 a.m., which was supposed to prevent any aircraft taking off across the US (see (9:26 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (US Congress. House. Committee On Transportation And Infrastructure 9/21/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 25) Parsons will ask Sherwood if anyone has interviewed the pilot of the American Airlines plane he saw taking off, since that pilot must have witnessed the attack on the Pentagon. Sherwood will answer no, but add, “[T]hat’s another good lead for either myself or one of the other people to follow up on.” Whether the pilot is ever identified or interviewed is unknown. (Parsons 12/13/2001)

Dan Shanower.Dan Shanower. [Source: Family photo / Associated Press]Petty Officer Jason Lhuillier is on duty at the Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot (CNO-IP). This small intelligence unit is located within the Navy Command Center at the Pentagon, on the first floor of the building’s southwest face. Since learning of the second plane hitting the WTC, he and his colleagues have been trying to build the intelligence picture, liaising with such agencies as the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Shortly before the Pentagon is struck, Lhuillier receives a phone call from the National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC). (Becker, Vogel, and Ruane 9/16/2001; Leiby 1/20/2002; Harnden 9/11/2002) Like the National Military Command Center (NMCC), the NMJIC is located in the Joint Staff area of the Pentagon. It constantly monitors worldwide developments for any looming crises that might require US involvement. (Blazar 9/25/1997; Joint Chiefs of Staff 2/6/2006) The caller informs Lhuillier, “We’ve got indications of another aircraft that’s been hijacked. It’s heading out to DC.” (Harnden 9/11/2002) The caller may possibly be referring to the same incorrect report that was received by the NMCC at around 9:30 a.m., that Flight 11 is still airborne and heading toward Washington (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 37) Lhuillier then interrupts a meeting between Commander Dan Shanower, who is in charge of the CNO-IP, and six others, to tell them about this third plane. Commander David Radi, an aide to Admiral William Fallon, the vice chief of naval operations, is in his Pentagon office about 100 yards from the CNO-IP. He has also heard fragmentary reports about another hijacked plane heading towards Washington, and that fighter jets are being scrambled. He calls the CNO-IP for more information, but is only told, “We’re working on it.” Radi later recalls that he’d wondered where the plane might be heading: “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Well, the Pentagon, the White House or the Capitol.’” Within minutes, the Pentagon is struck. The CNO-IP will be destroyed in the impact, and seven people working in it will be killed. (Leiby 1/20/2002; Arlington County Police Department 2/21/2002; Harnden 9/11/2002)

Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA) will later claim he is still meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at this time. They are still discussing missile defense, apparently completely oblivious of the approaching Flight 77. Watching television coverage from New York City, Rumsfeld says to Cox: “Believe me, this isn’t over yet. There’s going to be another attack, and it could be us.” According to the Daily Telegraph, Flight 77 hits the building “moments later.” (Langley 12/16/2001) In another telling, Cox will claim that Rumsfeld says: “If we remain vulnerable to missile attack, a terrorist group or rogue state that demonstrates the capacity to strike the US or its allies from long range could have the power to hold our entire country hostage to nuclear or other blackmail. And let me tell you, I’ve been around the block a few times. There will be another event.” Rumsfeld repeats this sentence for emphasis. According to Cox, “Within minutes of that utterance, Rumsfeld’s words proved tragically prophetic.” Cox also claims, “I escaped just minutes before the building was hit.” (Office of Representative Christopher Cox 9/11/2001) However, Rumsfeld will claim that this meeting with Cox ended before the second World Trade Center crash, which occurred at 9:03 a.m. Cox himself will say that after being told of that crash, “[Rumsfeld] sped off, as did I.” Cox will say he immediately headed to his car, making it impossible for him to still be in the Pentagon “just minutes before” it is hit. (Theimer 9/11/2001) Another account will put Rumsfeld’s “I’ve been around the block a few times. There will be another event” comment two minutes before the first WTC crash at 8:46 a.m., when Rumsfeld reportedly made other predictive comments. (Woodward 9/16/2001)

William Douglas Crowder.William Douglas Crowder. [Source: US Navy]A senior Navy officer at the Pentagon is told in a phone call that another hijacked aircraft is heading toward Washington, DC, and yet he tells a colleague who also receives this news to keep the information to himself. (Toti 10/10/2001) Rear Admiral William Douglas Crowder is the executive assistant to Admiral William Fallon, the vice chief of naval operations. (US Department of Defense 9/26/2001; Toti 9/2002) He is working in Fallon’s office, on the fourth floor of the Pentagon’s E-ring. (Toti 10/10/2001; Washington Post 11/17/2006) Fallon is currently down the hall, in the office of Admiral Vern Clark, the chief of naval operations. Those in Fallon’s office are aware of the attacks on the World Trade Center, and have speculated that if this is an organized attack, then Washington, and specifically the Pentagon, is a likely target (see (8:48 a.m.-9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Crowder Told of Plane Approaching Washington - Crowder now answers a call from the Navy Command Center, which is on the first floor of the Pentagon’s southwest face. His deputy, Commander David Radi, listens in on the call, as he is required to. Captain William Toti, the special assistant to the vice chief of naval operations, will later describe what Crowder is told. Toti will recall, “I was not listening in, but the gist of the conversation was there’s another airplane that’s been hijacked that’s heading towards Washington.” (Toti 10/10/2001) (An intelligence unit located within the Navy Command Center was recently notified of “indications of another aircraft that’s been hijacked” and that is “heading out to DC” (see Shortly Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Harnden 9/11/2002) ) Crowder replies to the caller, “Okay, got it.”
Crowder Instructs Deputy to Keep Information Secret - Radi appears afraid. Presumably referring to the office staff’s prediction of a possible attack on the Pentagon, he says: “Holy sh_t. Captain Toti, it’s coming true.” Crowder runs out of the office to go and tell Fallon what he has just learned. But as he is heading out, he calls back to Radi: “That’s close hold. Don’t tell anybody what you just heard.” Toti will comment, “Remember that Crowder and Radi are the only two people who heard” about the approaching hijacked plane. Just then, the Pentagon is hit: “Not 30 seconds after Crowder hangs up and runs out the door,” Toti will recall, “we hear the airplane, the jet engines, and feel impact. The building shook like an earthquake. We heard the explosion.” (Toti 10/10/2001) No steps have been taken to evacuate the Pentagon or alert its workers before the building is hit (see Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Vogel 2007, pp. 429)
Officer Finds Crowder's Order 'Peculiar' - In an interview a month later, Toti will reflect: “In retrospect, I wonder what the hell was close hold about that fact that there was a hijacked airplane coming in towards the Pentagon. If anything, it would have been nice to alert people of that.” He will add that he has not asked Crowder “why he said that,” but says Crowder’s instruction to Radi “stuck out in [my] mind at the time as kind of a peculiar thing to say.”
Officer Told Not to Go to Command Center - Toti’s life is likely saved because, just before the call about the approaching plane is received, Crowder told him not to go to the Navy Command Center—a part of the Pentagon that suffers serious damage when the building is hit. After seeing the burning WTC on television, Toti had been uncomfortable that his office had not received any information about what was going on from the Command Center. After “a few minutes of hearing nothing,” he had suggested to Crowder “that I go to the ops center to see if they had any information we should pass to senior Navy leadership.” But, as Toti was heading out the door toward the Command Center, Crowder instructed him: “Wait, give them another minute. If they don’t call by then, you can go down.” Toti therefore returned to his desk. “Just then,” Toti will recall, Crowder receives the call from the Command Center about the hijacked plane approaching Washington. (Toti 10/10/2001; Toti 9/2002) Much of the Navy Command Center is destroyed when the Pentagon is hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001), and 42 of the 50 people working in it are killed. (Leiby 1/20/2002; Kennedy 6/2003) Toti will say that Crowder “probably saved my life.” (Toti 10/10/2001)

FAA’€™s Cleveland Center.FAA’€™s Cleveland Center. [Source: ABC News]According to the 9/11 Commission, at about this time Cleveland flight control specifically asks the FAA Command Center whether someone has requested the military to launch fighters toward Flight 93. Cleveland offers to contact a nearby military base. The Command Center replies that FAA personnel well above them in the chain of command have to make that decision and are working on the issue. (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004) Cleveland overheard a hijacker say there was a “bomb on board” at 9:32 a.m. and passed the message to FAA higher ups (see (9:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to John Werth, the Cleveland controller handling Flight 93, “Within three or four minutes, probably, of when [the hijacking] happened, I asked if the military was advised yet. Had anybody called the military? They said, ‘don’t worry. That’s been taken care of,’ which I think to them, meant they had called the command center in Washington.” (Hirschkorn 9/10/2006)

At NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), members of staff spot the radar track for an aircraft—later reported to be Flight 77—flying over Washington, DC and approaching the White House. (Seely 1/25/2002; Filson 2003, pp. 65; Spencer 2008, pp. 151) Around this time, Colin Scoggins, the military liaison at the FAA’s Boston Center, has called NEADS to report an unidentified aircraft six miles southeast of the White House (see 9:36 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Bronner 8/1/2006)
Deskins Sees Aircraft Circling and Disappear - Lt. Col. Dawne Deskins has noticed a suspicious track on the radar scope. She will later recall: “I had the scope focused in on the DC area and got blips of this aircraft that appeared to be going in a turn around DC. It was going fast for where it was located and I remember looking at the guy next to me and saying, ’What is that?’” (Filson 2003, pp. 65)
Tracker Spots Aircraft - One of the tracker technicians also thinks he has spotted the aircraft on radar, just a few miles south of the White House and heading north, but then loses it. He calls out: “Right here, right here, right here! I got him. I got him!” NEADS mission crew commander Major Kevin Nasypany says, “Get me coordinates!” and then picks up the phone to quickly brief Colonel Robert Marr in the NEADS battle cab. (Bronner 8/1/2006; Spencer 2008, pp. 151)

The ‘Twin Towers’ USA Today building in Rosslyn, Virginia.The ‘Twin Towers’ USA Today building in Rosslyn, Virginia. [Source: Monday Properties]Arlington County firefighters are dispatched in response to a fire alarm at the USA Today building, located just a few miles down the road from the Pentagon, though whether there is actually a fire there is unclear. (Zillgitt 9/13/2001; Schwartz 2008) The USA Today complex, in the Rosslyn area, includes the two tallest high-rise buildings in the county, which are in fact known as the “Twin Towers.” (Lohr 9/7/2001; Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 9) The building’s managers had been worried that the complex could be a terrorist target, and called the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center (ECC), asking if they should evacuate (see (9:04 a.m.-9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to Assistant Chief James Schwartz of the Arlington County Fire Department, “Shortly after that, we had a fire response for alarm bells at the USA Today building.” Schwartz is dispatched to the building, but before he leaves his office, word is received about the Pentagon attack, so he heads to the Pentagon instead. (Schwartz 2008; Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 48-49)
Fire Chief Believes Alarm Activated to Facilitate Evacuation - Schwartz will later reflect, “I’ve always suspected that people who were evacuating [the USA Today building] decided that they would pull the fire alarm in order to get everybody out of the building, and that initiated a response on our part.” (Schwartz 2008) However, according to USA Today spokesman Steve Anderson, who is at the complex, employees of USA Today and its parent company Gannett only begin evacuating the building after the Pentagon attack occurs. Westfield Realty, the company that owns the building, asks all the tenants to evacuate at about 11:00 a.m., but most will already have left by then. (White and Lohr 9/11/2001; Lohr 9/14/2001)
Report Apparently Describes Same Incident - The alarm at the USA Today building may be the same incident as is later described in the Arlington County After-Action Report on the emergency response to the Pentagon attack. The report states that, “just one minute before the Pentagon crash,” several fire and medical units are dispatched “to an apartment fire at 1003 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn” (see (Shortly Before 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A9 pdf file) The address of the USA Today complex is reported as being “1000 and 1110 Wilson Blvd.,” suggesting this is the same building as where the “apartment fire” is reported to be. (Lohr 9/7/2001) The first engine to arrive in response to the apartment fire reports that it is already out. (US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002, pp. A9 pdf file)
News Reports of Fire - In the aftermath of the attack on the Pentagon, news reports will—apparently incorrectly—describe a fire at the USA Today building. At 9:46 a.m., local radio station WTOP will report, “We’re hearing from a caller who says she is eyewitness to another hit here in town; the USA Today building may also be on fire in addition to the Pentagon.” (Miller 8/26/2002) The Washington Post will describe, “The USA Today building in Rosslyn was supposedly enveloped in smoke.” (Achenbach 9/11/2001) But the Associated Press states that “Radio reports about an explosion at the USA Today building in Rosslyn were false.” (Barakat 9/11/2001)

Eric Shinseki.Eric Shinseki. [Source: US Army]Major General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s director of operations, readiness, and mobilization, is informed that a hijacked aircraft is thought to be heading toward Washington, DC, and is possibly aiming for the Pentagon. Chiarelli was in his office at the Pentagon, preparing to go to a scheduled meeting, when he learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center. In response, he instructed a colleague to activate the Army’s Crisis Action Team (CAT) (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Shortly after doing so, he was phoned by General Eric Shinseki, the Army’s chief of staff who is currently in Singapore, attending a conference. Shinseki asked for a situation report. “All I could tell him, basically, was what I had seen on TV,” Chiarelli will later recall. “I didn’t have any time to leave the room, to go to the CAT, to check with the intel folks,” he will add. Now, while Chiarelli is still on the phone with Shinseki, Oscar Benjamin, an analyst in the Army’s Antiterrorism Operations Intelligence Cell (ATOIC), comes into his office. (Chiarelli 2/5/2002; Rossow 2003, pp. 65; Lofgren 2011, pp. 95-98) The ATOIC is responsible for providing terrorism early warning to the Army. (University of Wisconsin 2/25/2009) Benjamin reports that additional aircraft have been hijacked and one of these aircraft is thought to be heading toward Washington—“in his opinion for the Pentagon,” according to author Robert Rossow. Chiarelli passes this information on to Shinseki. Realizing there is little he can do from Singapore, Shinseki says he will call back later and ends the call. Chiarelli then heads to the Army Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon, where the CAT is assembling. Just after he arrives on the CAT floor, one of his intelligence officers (possibly Benjamin, although this is unstated) comes in and, he will recall, tells him “that they had credible information that one of the [additional hijacked] aircraft was headed for DC.” Chiarelli will then hear the sound of the impact as the Pentagon is hit. (Chiarelli 2/5/2002; Rossow 2003, pp. 65-66; Lofgren 2011, pp. 98-99) (The Pentagon is hit at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 10) )

Jacqueline Kidd and Sean Boger.Jacqueline Kidd and Sean Boger. [Source: Jennifer Lilly]The air traffic controller and his assistant in the control tower at the Pentagon’s heliport are concerned that they are in a prime location for another terrorist attack, and discuss the possibility of a plane crashing into the Pentagon. (Lilly 11/16/2001; Hipps 1/18/2002; Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 21) The controller, Sean Boger, a civilian who is working for the Army, and his assistant, Army Specialist Jacqueline Kidd, are working in the control tower located between the Pentagon and its heliport, from where they direct helicopter landings and departures. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 27; Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 21) They have seen the reports on television about the planes hitting the World Trade Center, and so realize that a terrorist attack is taking place. (Lilly 11/16/2001; Hipps 1/18/2002)
Controllers Discuss Possibility of Crash at Pentagon - Kidd will later recall that, after seeing the second crash on television, she and Boger begin “discussing the possibility of if it was a terrorist attack, and how we were at a prime spot to be hit. We started talking about that immediately.” She will add that Boger mentions to her that the flight path of Reagan National Airport, which is about a mile away, “comes right by the Pentagon, and I said, ‘Oh, yeah.’ And he said, ‘They can do the same thing to us.’” However, Kidd and Boger reportedly talk “casually” about the possibility of a plane hitting the Pentagon, “without seriously feeling threatened.” (Hipps 1/18/2002) According to other accounts, Boger wonders aloud why no airliner has ever hit the Pentagon, considering how close it is to Reagan Airport. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 27) Kidd tells him, “You’ve been saying that for three years,” and he responds, “Yeah, you’re right.” (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 21) Reportedly, Boger is “talking about an accident, not a terrorist attack.” (Lilly 11/16/2001)
Controller Discusses Concerns with Supervisor at Airfield - Boger also calls the control tower at Davison Army Airfield, which is about 12 miles south of the Pentagon, around this time, and discusses his concerns with the supervisor of air traffic control there. Boger works for the supervisor’s unit and has already called the supervisor to alert him to the attacks in New York. Boger now tells the supervisor how worried he is “that an aircraft can just easily do that,” presumably referring to the possibility of a plane crashing into the Pentagon. He also says, “I don’t know what I’m going to do if I see a plane coming like that towards—towards us.” The supervisor will later comment, “I always was aware of that, of how close some aircraft would fly over the facility… and how easy it would be for somebody to kind of storm the small tower.” The supervisor tells Boger that if he sees an airplane heading his way, “what you do is you grab [Kidd] and get out of the building, and just go towards Route 27,” the road in front of the heliport area. (Exempt 11/14/2001 pdf file) However, while personnel like Boger, Kidd, and the supervisor of air traffic control are considering the possibility of a plane hitting the Pentagon at this time, no steps are taken to alert workers at the Pentagon before it is struck (see Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001), and an order to evacuate the building will only go out over the Pentagon’s public address system shortly after the attack there. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 137-138; Vogel 2007, pp. 429)
Pentagon Hit Close to Tower - Boger and Kidd will both suffer minor injuries when the Pentagon is hit less than 100 feet from where they are, and the heliport tower will be badly damaged by the explosion. (Exempt 11/14/2001 pdf file; Hipps 1/18/2002) Kidd will be on the tower’s ground floor, on her way outside to her car, when the crash occurs. (Lilly 11/16/2001; Hipps 1/18/2002) Boger will still be up in the tower, and, he will say, sees Flight 77 flying low and fast toward—and then into—the Pentagon. (Exempt 11/14/2001 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 27)

Alice Hoglan.Alice Hoglan. [Source: Family photo]Mark Bingham, a passenger on Flight 93, tries to phone his mother from the plane but the attempted call is unsuccessful. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission 5/13/2004 pdf file) Bingham’s mother, Alice Hoglan, is currently at the home of her brother, Vaughn Hoglan, and his wife, Kathy Hoglan, in Saratoga, California, where she has been staying for the last six months, helping the couple care for their young children. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001; Ganahl 9/10/2003) Bingham tries to call her using a GTE Airfone in row 25, near the back of the plane. (9/11 Commission 5/13/2004 pdf file; Sulek 9/10/2011; McMillan 2014, pp. 122) The call is answered by Carol Phipps, a family friend who is staying with the Hoglans. Phipps picks up the phone in the kitchen, but finds there is no one on the line and so she hangs up. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001; Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001) Information derived from a study of GTE Airfone records of calls from Flight 93 will later describe the call as having lasted five seconds. Bingham will try to call his mother again a minute later and, that time, his attempt will be successful (see (9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001; 9/11 Commission 5/13/2004 pdf file)

According to a book about the FAA’s response to the 9/11 attacks, Cleveland Center air traffic controllers follow Flight 93 as it turns south and reverses course (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). But, “bomb threats called in concerning four other planes focused their attention onto what they believed to be more critical maneuvers.” (Freni 2003, pp. 40) One of these four planes is presumably Delta Flight 1989, which is mistakenly thought to be hijacked and to have a bomb aboard (see (9:28 a.m.-9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (O'Mara 9/11/2006) The identities of the other three planes are unknown. By this time, Cleveland Center has already overheard a radio transmission from Flight 93 stating, “We have a bomb on board” (see (9:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and has acknowledged this, reporting, “United 93 may have a bomb on board,” so it seems unlikely that other threatened aircraft would be regarded as “more critical maneuvers.” (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004)

Having followed a seemingly normal course until now, after reaching the Cleveland area, Flight 93 suddenly makes a sharp turn to the south. It then makes another turn back eastward, cutting through West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle before re-entering Pennsylvania. (Lane and Pan 9/12/2001; Silver 9/13/2001; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 41) Having thus turned 180 degrees, it now heads toward Washington, DC. (NPA 9/13/2001)

At the Education Center at Fort Myer, an army base 1.5 miles northwest of the Pentagon, the base’s firefighters are undertaking training variously described as “an airport rescue firefighters class”; “an aircraft crash refresher class”; “a week-long class on Air Field Fire Fighting”; and a “training exercise in airport emergency operations.” Despite hearing of the first WTC crash during a break, with no access to a TV, the class simply continues with its training. According to Bruce Surette, who is attending the session: “We had heard some radio transmissions from some other units in Arlington about how they thought they had a plane down here or a plane down there. So you’re thinking, ‘Hey this could be real.’ But it really didn’t strike home as being real until our guy came on the radio and said where the plane crash was.” The Fort Myer firefighters then immediately head for the Pentagon, arriving there at 9:40 a.m., only three minutes after it is hit, and participate in the firefighting and rescue effort there. The fire station at the Pentagon heliport is actually operated by the Fort Myer Fire Department, and is manned on the morning of 9/11 by three Fort Myer firefighters who have already undertaken the airfield firefighting training. (Brewster 10/4/2001; Lilly and Walz 11/2/2001; Ward 4/2002 pdf file; US Department of Health and Human Services 7/2002 pdf file; Wallace 4/17/2003) The Fort Myer military community, which includes Fort Myer and Fort Lesley J. McNair—another army base, just two miles east of the Pentagon—was scheduled to hold a “force protection exercise” the week after 9/11. However this has been cancelled, so just prior to the attacks the morning of September 11, “some of its participants [are] breathing a sigh of relief.” (Norris 9/14/2001)

Josh Bolten, the acting White House chief of staff, heads to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a bunker below the White House, after seeing Vice President Dick Cheney taken there by his Secret Service agents. Although Bolten is the deputy White House chief of staff, because White House chief of staff Andrew Card is traveling with President Bush in Florida, he is the acting chief of staff at the White House this morning. He was with Cheney when Secret Service agents entered Cheney’s office and then hurried the vice president away to the PEOC (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). However, no one evacuated Bolten from the office. “You know, deputy chief of staff, you don’t have a Secret Service detail… nobody was watching out for me,” he will later comment. Fortunately, Bolten learned where the PEOC is located and that he was supposed to go there in a crisis during a training exercise (see (Between February and August 2001)). Furthermore, he was reminded of the existence of the PEOC by Steve Ricchetti, who served as deputy White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration, when Ricchetti phoned him earlier this morning (see (Between 8:50 a.m. and 9:02 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Therefore, at some time after Cheney is evacuated from his office, Bolten makes his way down to the PEOC. (C-SPAN 10/6/2013) The time at which he arrives there is unclear. According to notes taken by I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, Bolten is in the PEOC at approximately 10:00 a.m. (9/11 Commission 4/5/2004) He will spend much of the rest of the day there with Cheney and other government officials. (CNN 9/11/2002; C-SPAN 10/6/2013) The PEOC, according to the London Telegraph, will become “the nerve center for America’s response to the unprecedented attacks.” (Sherwell 9/10/2011)

Those inside the Pentagon’s Executive Support Center (ESC) feel and hear the impact when the building is hit, yet supposedly do not realize what has happened. Victoria Clarke, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, who is in the ESC at this time, calls the center “the Pentagon’s war room, with instant access to satellite images and intelligence sources peering into every corner of the globe.” She describes it as “the place where the building’s top leadership goes to coordinate military operations during national emergencies.” In it with her are Stephen Cambone, Donald Rumsfeld’s closest aide, and Larry Di Rita, Rumsfeld’s personal chief of staff. They’d been discussing how to go about getting every plane currently in the air back on the ground when, according to Clarke, “we felt a jarring thump and heard a loud but still muffled explosion. The building seemed to have shifted.” Yet, despite all the ESC’s resources, they supposedly do not initially realize exactly what has happened. Clarke says to the others, “It must have been a car bomb.” Di Rita replies, “A bomb of some kind.” But one unnamed staffer who frequently uses the ESC for meetings points to the ceiling and says, “No, it’s just the heating and cooling system. It makes that noise all the time.” Clarke later claims, “The notion of a jetliner attacking the Pentagon was exactly that unfathomable back then. Our eyes were glued to television screens showing two hijacked planes destroying the World Trade Center and it still didn’t occur to any of us, certainly not me, that one might have just hit our own building.” Clarke guesses aloud that the noise was something other than the heating and cooling system. In the ensuing minutes, she and the others with her will scramble “for information about what exactly had happened, how many were hurt or killed, and [analyze] what we could do to prevent further attacks.” Yet, she will later claim, it is only when Donald Rumsfeld comes into the ESC at 10:15 a.m., after having gone to the crash scene, that they receive their first confirmation that a plane has hit the Pentagon (see (10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Clarke 2006, pp. 219-221) Those inside the National Military Command Center (NMCC), located next door to the ESC, supposedly do not feel the impact when the Pentagon is hit, and one officer there claims he only learns of the attack from television reports (see Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (CNN 9/4/2002; Garamone 9/7/2006; Cockburn 2007, pp. 5) But Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, who is in his office about 200 feet away from the ESC, feels the building shake due to the explosion. After seeing nothing out of his window, he immediately dashes outside to determine what has happened (see 9:38 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Clarke 9/15/2001; Rumsfeld 10/12/2001; Rumsfeld 1/9/2002; 9/11 Commission 3/23/2004)

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is told by his chief of staff that the White House knows of seven planes that are unaccounted for. He is told that the Pentagon has been hit, but also hears erroneous reports that the Sears Tower and other buildings have been hit. (9/11 Commission 5/19/2004)

Mark Bingham.
Mark Bingham. [Source: Family photo]Mark Bingham, a passenger on Flight 93, calls his mother from the plane and tells her his flight has been taken over by three men who say they have a bomb. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 41, 99) Bingham’s mother, Alice Hoglan, is currently at the home of her brother, Vaughn Hoglan, and his wife, Kathy Hoglan, in Saratoga, California, where she has been staying to help the couple care for their young children. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001; Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001; Ganahl 9/10/2003) Bingham calls her using a GTE Airfone in row 25, near the back of the plane. (9/11 Commission 5/13/2004 pdf file; Sulek 9/10/2011; McMillan 2014, pp. 122)
Family Friend Answers the Call - The call is answered on the phone in the kitchen by Carol Phipps, a family friend who is staying with the Hoglans. “Get Alice or Kathy quickly,” Bingham says. “Is this Lee?” Phipps asks, referring to one of Bingham’s uncles. “No, get Alice or Kathy quickly,” he replies. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001; Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001; Barrett 2002, pp. 156) Phipps runs down the hallway and fetches Kathy Hoglan from her bedroom. Kathy Hoglan goes to the kitchen and takes over the call. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001; Longman 2002, pp. 129) As she is running to the phone, she looks at the clock and sees the time is 6:44 a.m. Pacific Time, which is 9:44 Eastern Time. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001) However, according to information later derived from a study of GTE Airfone records of calls from Flight 93, the call is made seven minutes before this, at 9:37 a.m. (9/11 Commission 5/13/2004 pdf file)
Bingham Tells His Aunt His Plane Has Been Hijacked - Kathy Hoglan recognizes her nephew’s voice when Bingham starts talking. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001) He says: “This is Mark. I just want to tell you I’m on a plane and it’s being hijacked.” Kathy Hoglan gets a piece of paper and asks him what flight he is on. “United Flight 93,” he says. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001) Kathy Hoglan writes this down. (Longman 2002, pp. 130) “I want to let you guys know that I love you, in case I don’t see you again,” Bingham continues. “We love you too,” Kathy Hoglan says. She tells her nephew to stay on the line and that she is going to get his mother. She heads down the hall and bumps into her sister-in-law, who heard the phone ringing and then came out of her bedroom. She lets Alice Hoglan know what is happening. “Alice, come talk to Mark; he’s been hijacked,” she says. She then gives Bingham’s mother the phone and the piece of paper, which has “United” and “Flight 93” written on it.
Bingham Says Three Men Have Taken Over His Plane - After Alice Hoglan takes the phone, she recognizes the voice of her son on the line. He begins by telling her, “Hello Mom, this is Mark Bingham.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001; Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001; Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001; Barrett 2002, pp. 156) Alice Hoglan finds it strange that he has used his full name to introduce himself. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/28/2001) “He was so flustered, I guess, giving me his last name,” she will later comment. (ABC 9/11/2001) “I remember being amused that he used his last name,” she will say. (Ganahl 9/10/2003) Bingham then says: “I want to let you know I love you. I love you all.” Alice Hoglan tells him she loves him too. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001) “I’m flying from Newark to San Francisco,” Bingham continues and then says: “I’m calling from the Airfone. The plane has been taken over by three guys. They say they have a bomb.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001) (However, there are actually four hijackers, not three, on his plane. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 456) )
Bingham Apparently Speaks to Another Passenger - Alice Hoglan asks her son, “Who are these guys?” (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001) Bingham does not answer and his mother wonders if he didn’t hear her question. There is an interruption for about five seconds and then he says: “You’ve got to believe me. It’s true.” “I do believe you Mark,” Alice Hoglan says and then she asks again, “Who are they?” There is another pause lasting about five seconds. Alice Hoglan can hear activity and voices in the background. She gets the impression that her son is distracted because someone is talking to him. The line then goes dead. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001)
Bingham's Call Lasts Almost Three Minutes - The call lasts two minutes 46 seconds before breaking off. (9/11 Commission 5/13/2004 pdf file) Alice Hoglan will estimate that her son spends about 90 seconds of it with Phipps, including the time it takes Phipps to get Kathy Hoglan on the line; about 30 seconds with Kathy Hoglan; and about a minute with her. She will describe him as sounding “calm, controlled, matter-of-fact, and focused” during their conversation (see (9:37 a.m.-10:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001) Bingham will subsequently make two more attempts at calling his mother, but without success (see 9:41 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 5/13/2004 pdf file) Alice Hoglan will call 9-1-1 to report what has happened and be put through to the FBI (see (Between 9:41 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/17/2001) She will also try calling her son on his cell phone and leave two messages for him on his voicemail. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001; Barrett 2002, pp. 157-158)

Vice President Dick Cheney, after being evacuated from his office, stops in an underground tunnel leading to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, where he learns about the attack on the Pentagon and talks over the phone with President Bush. Secret Service agents hurried Cheney out of his office in the West Wing of the White House at around 9:36 a.m., according to some accounts (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 39-40; Gellman 2008, pp. 114-116) (However, other accounts will suggest he was evacuated from his office earlier on, at around 9:03 a.m. (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Safire 9/13/2001; Langley 12/16/2001; ABC News 9/14/2002) ) The Secret Service agents then rushed the vice president along the hallway, through some locked doors, and down some stairs into an underground tunnel. “It’s a small corridor,” Cheney will later describe. “There is a door at each end, a fairly heavy door. It’s obviously a place of refuge… a shelter for the president or, in this case, the vice president.” (Cheney 11/19/2001)
Agents Take Up Positions on Staircase - Cheney arrives in the tunnel about a minute after leaving his office. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 40; Hayes 2007, pp. 335) He will recall that when he reaches the bottom of the stairs, he “watched as Secret Service agents positioned themselves at the top, middle, and bottom of the staircase, creating layers of defense in case the White House itself should be invaded.” One of the agents, James Scott, gives out “additional firearms, flashlights, and gas masks” to his colleagues. Scott tells Cheney that he’d evacuated him from his office because he’d heard over his radio that “an inbound, unidentified aircraft” was flying toward the White House (see (9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Cheney Asks to Talk to the President - Moments later, Scott receives another report over his radio. He passes on what he is told to Cheney, saying, “Sir, the plane headed for us just hit the Pentagon.” Cheney will comment, “Now I knew for certain that Washington as well as New York was under attack, and that meant that President Bush, who had been at an elementary school in Florida, had to stay away.” (Cheney and Cheney 2011, pp. 1-2) Cheney and the Secret Service agents with him therefore stop in an area of the tunnel where there is a bench to sit on and a secure phone, and Cheney says he wants to speak to the president. It takes some time for his call to get connected, however, and so he will speak to Bush at 9:45 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.-9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 40; Hayes 2007, pp. 335) There is also a television in the tunnel, on which Cheney will see the coverage of the burning Pentagon after the building has been hit (see 9:39 a.m.-9:44 a.m. September 11, 2001). The vice president will be joined in the tunnel by his wife, Lynne Cheney, at around 9:55 a.m. (see (9:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The Cheneys will enter the PEOC shortly before 10:00 a.m., according to the 9/11 Commission Report (see (9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Cheney 12/17/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 40)

Internet researchers have put together this image showing how an object the size of a jumbo jet clips a number of light poles and then destroys columns inside the Pentagon. [From  website]
Internet researchers have put together this image showing how an object the size of a jumbo jet clips a number of light poles and then destroys columns inside the Pentagon. [From website] [Source: Eric Bart] (click image to enlarge)Fireman Alan Wallace is busy with a safety crew at the Pentagon’s heliport pad. As Wallace is walking in front of the Pentagon, he looks up and sees Flight 77 coming straight at him. It is about 25 feet off the ground, with no landing wheels visible, a few hundred yards away, and closing fast. He runs about 30 feet and dives under a nearby van. (Maranis 9/21/2001) The plane is traveling at about 460 mph, and flying so low that it clips the tops of streetlights. (CBS News 9/21/2001) Using the radio in the van, he calls his fire chief at nearby Fort Myer and says, “We have had a commercial carrier crash into the west side of the Pentagon at the heliport, Washington Boulevard side. The crew is OK. The airplane was a 757 Boeing or a 320 Airbus.” (Alessi and Sprengelmeyer 8/1/2002)

Steve Pennington.Steve Pennington. [Source: Chesapeake and Midlantic Marketing]Two recently installed security cameras outside the Pentagon capture the building being hit, but the images they take will turn out to be of poor quality. (Burns 5/17/2006; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161) The cameras are located at a checkpoint north of the crash site that visitors to the Pentagon go through and usually focus on the drivers of the vehicles that come in and out. They are reportedly the only security cameras at the Pentagon that capture the building being hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001 and Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (CNN 5/20/2006; Austin and Pennington 11/9/2006 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161)
Video System Was Switched on Early for Testing - It is fortunate that the cameras film the crash. The Pentagon has an elaborate new, centralized, digital video recording system that was only installed a few weeks ago and is not yet government property. It should not be on now, but workers started running it early to capture data for testing purposes. Steve Pennington, a private consultant responsible for the Pentagon’s security cameras, will later recall that, along with Brian Austin, the maintenance team chief responsible for the cameras, a colleague called Greg Goff, and a couple of other people, he “decided to turn it on a few days before [9/11], not knowing that something was going to occur.” “It was purely happenstance that the system happened to be running [on 9/11], because it wasn’t supposed to be running for another month,” Pennington will comment. However, since the system is only being tested, the cameras are running at a slower rate than they normally would and therefore capture less information. Whereas they usually record at a rate of either 3.75 or 7.5 images per second, they are currently recording just one image per second.
Government Will Initially Withhold the Captured Video - On September 12, the footage of the crash captured by the cameras will be put onto CDs and copies will be provided to the FBI, the secretary of defense’s office, and the Joint Operations Center at Fort Myer (see September 12, 2001). (Austin and Pennington 11/9/2006 pdf file) Subsequently, the US government will initially refuse to make public the footage because it is going to be used as evidence in the trial of al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. It will finally be released in May 2006 (see May 16, 2006). However, five frames from one of the tapes will be released unofficially in March 2002 (see March 7, 2002). (Markon 5/17/2006; CNN 5/20/2006) The images of the crash captured by the cameras will turn out to be of poor quality, though. The Associated Press will describe the plane shown hitting the building as “a thin white blur.” (Burns 5/17/2006) John Jester, chief of the Defense Protective Service, will similarly describe it as “just a blur.” “You can see a bit of tail, a plane sliding across the ground, and a huge explosion,” he will say. (Jester 1/31/2006 pdf file)

Barbara Riggs.Barbara Riggs. [Source: Miles B. Norman / Elmira Star-Gazette]Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke learns of an aircraft heading toward the White House. Clarke, who is in the White House Situation Room, is passed a note by Secret Service Director Brian Stafford, which says, “Radar shows aircraft headed this way.” (Clarke 2004, pp. 7) Around this time, the FAA’s Boston Center is reporting a low-flying aircraft six miles southeast of the White House (see 9:36 a.m. September 11, 2001), so this is presumably the same airliner to which Stafford’s note refers. (Bronner 8/1/2006) Clarke later comments that the Secret Service is aware of the approaching plane because it has “a system that allowed them to see what FAA’s radar was seeing.” (Clarke 2004, pp. 7) Secret Service agent Barbara Riggs, who is in the agency’s Washington headquarters, will later corroborate this, recalling: “Through monitoring radar and activating an open line with the FAA, the Secret Service was able to receive real time information about… hijacked aircraft. We were tracking two hijacked aircraft as they approached Washington, DC, and our assumption was that the White House was a target.” (PCCW Newsletter 3/2006) Stafford informs Clarke that he is going to evacuate the White House complex. (This evacuation appears to take place at around 9:45 (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001).) Those in the Situation Room are then informed that there has been an explosion at the Pentagon, and soon after that a plane has hit it. (Clarke 2004, pp. 7)

Lyz Glick.Lyz Glick. [Source: NBC]In phone calls made from Flight 93, some passengers and crew members sound as if they are able to keep surprisingly calm, despite the crisis:
bullet Passenger Jeremy Glick calls his wife, Lyz, at 9:37. She later recalls, “He was so calm, the plane sounded so calm, that if I hadn’t seen what was going on on the TV, I wouldn’t have believed it.” She says, “I was surprised by how calm it seemed in the background. I didn’t hear any screaming. I didn’t hear any noises. I didn’t hear any commotion.” (Brown 10/5/2001; Pauley 9/11/2006)
bullet Passenger Lauren Grandcolas calls her husband, Jack, at 9:39, and leaves a message on the answering machine. According to journalist and author Jere Longman, “It sounded to Jack as if she were driving home from the grocery store or ordering a pizza.” Jack Grandcolas later says, “She sounded calm.” He describes, “There is absolutely no background noise on her message. You can’t hear people screaming or yelling or crying. It’s very calm, the whole cabin, the background, there’s really very little sound.” (Longman 2002, pp. 128; Kate Solomon 2006; Segal 4/26/2006)
bullet Passenger Mark Bingham speaks on the phone with his mother and aunt, reportedly from around 9:42. His aunt finds him sounding “calm, matter-of-fact.” His mother later recalls, “His voice was calm. He seemed very much composed, even though I know he must have been under terrible duress.” She also says the background discussion between passengers, about taking back the plane, sounds like a “calm boardroom meeting.” (CNN 9/12/2001; Longman 2002, pp. 129-130; Hirschkorn 4/21/2006)
bullet Passenger Todd Beamer speaks with GTE supervisor Lisa Jefferson for 13 minutes, starting at 9:45. Jefferson later says that Beamer “stayed calm through the entire conversation. He made me doubt the severity of the call.” She tells Beamer’s wife, “If I hadn’t known it was a real hijacking, I’d have thought it was a crank call, because Todd was so rational and methodical about what he was doing.” (Beamer and Abraham 2002, pp. 211; Jefferson 2006)
bullet Passenger Honor Elizabeth Wainio speaks with her stepmother, Esther Heymann, from around 9:54. Heymann later tells CNN that Wainio “really was remarkably calm throughout our whole conversation.” (However, according to Jere Longman, although she speaks calmly, Wainio’s breathing is “shallow, as if she were hyperventilating.”) When her stepdaughter is not talking, Heymann reportedly cannot “hear another person. She could not hear any conversation or crying or yelling or whimpering. Nothing.” (Longman 2002, pp. 168 and 171-172; CNN 2/18/2006)
bullet Flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw calls her husband at 9:50. He later says, “She sounded calm, but like her adrenaline was really going.” (Cannon 10/21/2001)
bullet At 9:58, flight attendant CeeCee Lyles phones her husband. He later says, “She was surprisingly calm,” considering the screaming he heard in the background. Her relatives attribute her calmness to her police training (she is a former police officer). (Lyles 9/11/2001; Townsend, Brown, and Fraley 9/17/2001; Tsuruoka 4/18/2002)
Longman later writes, “I heard tapes of a couple of the phone calls made from [Flight 93] and was struck by the absence of panic in the voices.” (Longman 2002, pp. xi)

A typical F-16.A typical F-16. [Source: NORAD]Accounts differ as to how far from Washington the F-16 fighters scrambled from Langley are when Flight 77 crashes. The Langley, Virginia, base is 129 miles from Washington. NORAD originally claimed that, at the time of the crash, the fighters are 105 miles away, despite having taken off seven minutes earlier. (North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/18/2001) The 9/11 Commission claims that at 9:36 a.m., NEADS discovers that Flight 77 is only a few miles from the White House and is dismayed to find the fighters have headed east over the ocean. They are ordered to Washington immediately, but are still about 150 miles away. This is farther away than the base from which they took off. (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004) The F-16 pilot codenamed Honey (who is apparently Captain Craig Borgstrom) offers a different explanation. As previously mentioned, he says they are flying toward New York, when they see a black column of smoke coming from Washington, about 30 or 40 miles to the west. He is then asked over the radio by NEADS if he can confirm the Pentagon is burning. He confirms it. He says that the mission of the Langley pilots at this time is clear: to keep all airplanes away from Washington. The F-16s are then ordered to set up a defensive perimeter above Washington. (Longman 2002, pp. 76; Filson 2003, pp. 66; Sheehy 2/15/2004) The maximum speed of an F-16 is 1,500 mph. (Associated Press 6/16/2000) Had the fighters traveled straight to Washington at 1,300 mph, they would have reached Washington at least one minute before Flight 77. Furthermore, at the time the Pentagon is hit, according to Craig Borgstrom, he and the other Langley pilots are hearing a lot of chatter over their radios, but nothing about airliners crashing into buildings. He says they are “all three on different frequencies… and [are] getting orders from a lot of different people.” (Filson 2003, pp. 66)

Many security cameras at the Pentagon that could have captured the building being hit are currently switched off or have been taken down due to construction work that is taking place and therefore do not film the attack. (Austin and Pennington 11/9/2006 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 244) The attack occurs “close to the Pentagon’s heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring,” the Washington Times will later note. (Gertz and Scarborough 9/21/2001) “There are a lot of cameras within the facility at any one time,” Steve Pennington, a private consultant responsible for the Pentagon’s security cameras, will comment. However, due to renovation work that is being carried out on the Pentagon, many cameras close to where the attack occurs are currently out of use. Some cameras have been taken down temporarily. “There were cameras on poles at the other end, along the roadway, but they were down for construction projects or being changed out during the process,” Pennington will recall. Other cameras that would normally focus on the area where the crash occurs have been switched off. “Because that area was being renovated, a lot of the connectivity of these cameras and the infrastructure that allowed those cameras to be connected back to the building had been removed or destroyed, so they weren’t capturing images and offering fields of view,” Pennington will say. (Austin and Pennington 11/9/2006 pdf file) Furthermore, a number of cameras near the area of impact are either destroyed or lose connectivity when the crash occurs (see Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Jester 1/31/2006 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 152-153) Two recently installed cameras north of the crash site are apparently the only Pentagon security cameras that capture the building being hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (CNN 5/20/2006; Austin and Pennington 11/9/2006 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161)

When Flight 77 hits the Pentagon, it misses the parts of the building known to house the military’s most senior leaders. Journalist and author Steve Vogel later says, “The hijackers had not hit the River or Mall sides” of the building, “where the senior military leadership had been concentrated since 1942.” At the time of the attack, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is “sitting in the same third-floor office above the River Entrance as every secretary of defense since Louis Johnson in 1949, a location that had been a matter of public record all that time. The joint chiefs and all the service secretaries were arrayed in various prime E-Ring offices on the River and Mall sides.” Furthermore, “All the command centers save the Navy’s were on the River or Mall sides; the National Military Command Center could have been decimated as the Navy Command Center was, a disaster that could have effectively shut down the Pentagon as the first American war of the twenty-first century began.” Instead, the area hit comprises Army accounting offices, the Navy Command Center, and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s comptroller’s office. (Vogel 2007, pp. 431 and 449-450) Due to recent renovation work, many offices in that section of the Pentagon are currently empty. (Government Executive 9/11/2001)

The Pentagon explodes. 
The Pentagon explodes. [Source: Donley/ Sipa]Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. All 64 people on the plane are killed. A hundred-and-twenty-four people working in the building are killed, and a further victim will die in hospital several days later. Hijackers Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar, Majed Moqed, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi presumably are killed instantly. (Typically, they are not included in the death counts.) (CNN 9/17/2001; North American Aerospace Defense Command 9/18/2001; Ellison 10/17/2001; Vogel 11/21/2001; Levin, Adams, and Morrison 8/12/2002; Associated Press 8/21/2002; MSNBC 9/3/2002; ABC News 9/11/2002; CBS 9/11/2002) Flight 77 hits the first floor of the Pentagon’s west wall. The impact and the resulting explosion heavily damage the building’s three outer rings. The path of destruction cuts through Army accounting offices on the outer E Ring, the Navy Command Center on the D Ring, and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s comptroller’s office on the C Ring. (Vogel 2007, pp. 431 and 449) Flight 77 strikes the only side of the Pentagon that had recently been renovated—it was “within days of being totally [renovated].” (US Department of Defense 9/15/2001) “It was the only area of the Pentagon with a sprinkler system, and it had been reconstructed with a web of steel columns and bars to withstand bomb blasts. The area struck by the plane also had blast-resistant windows—two inches thick and 2,500 pounds each—that stayed intact during the crash and fire. While perhaps, 4,500 people normally would have been working in the hardest-hit areas, because of the renovation work only about 800 were there.” More than 25,000 people work at the Pentagon. (Schrader 9/16/2001) Furthermore, the plane hits an area that has no basement. As journalist Steve Vogel later points out, “If there had been one under the first floor, its occupants could easily have been trapped by fire and killed when the upper floors collapsed.” (Vogel 2007, pp. 450)

A C-130 transport plane that has been sent to follow Flight 77 (see 9.36 a.m. September 11, 2001) is trailing only a short distance behind the plane as it crashes. This curious C-130, originally bound for Minnesota, is the same C-130 that will be 17 miles from Flight 93 when it later crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside (see 10:08 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Pittsburgh Channel 9/15/2001; Sternberg 9/11/2002) A number of people see this plane fly remarkably close to Flight 77:
bullet Kelly Knowles says that seconds after seeing Flight 77 pass, she sees a “second plane that seemed to be chasing the first [pass] over at a slightly different angle.” (Scanlon 9/15/2001)
bullet Keith Wheelhouse says the second plane is a C-130; two other witnesses are not certain. (Scanlon 9/15/2001) Wheelhouse “believes it flew directly above the American Airlines jet, as if to prevent two planes from appearing on radar, while at the same time guiding the jet toward the Pentagon.” As Flight 77 descends toward the Pentagon, the second plane veers off west. (Scanlon 9/14/2001)
bullet USA Today reporter Vin Narayanan, who sees the Pentagon explosion, later says, “I hopped out of my car after the jet exploded, nearly oblivious to a second jet hovering in the skies.” (Narayanan 9/17/2001)
bullet USA Today Editor Joel Sucherman sees a second plane but gives few details. (Dodge 9/13/2001)
bullet Brian Kennedy, press secretary for a Congressman, and others also see a second plane. (Doyle 9/15/2001)
bullet An unnamed worker at Arlington National Cemetery, which is about a mile from the Pentagon, will recall that “a mysterious second plane was circling the area when the first one attacked the Pentagon.” (Gibb 12/20/2001)
bullet An interment foreman at Arlington Cemetery also sees a second plane. He will recall: “There was a second plane behind it.… It appeared to be a cargo plane… mostly white.… I think it was somebody who observed him [Flight 77] and was following him and saw where he was going or what was going on… he was probably behind that far and when he saw [the explosion], he banked it back hard and went back the other way.” (History 12/13/2001 pdf file)
bullet John O’Keefe is driving in his car when he sees the Pentagon crash. He will recall: “The first thing I did was pull over onto the shoulder, and when I got out of the car I saw another plane flying over my head.… Then the plane—it looked like a C-130 cargo plane—started turning away from the Pentagon, it did a complete turnaround.” (New York Law Journal 9/12/2001)
bullet Phillip Thompson, a former Marine, is sitting in traffic when he witnesses the crash of Flight 77 and then sees a cargo plane overhead. He will recall that, following the Flight 77 crash, “a gray C-130 flew overhead, setting off a new round of panic. I tried to reassure people that the plane was not a threat.” (Thompson 9/22/2001)
The pilot of the C-130, Lieutenant Colonel Steve O’Brien, will later be interviewed, but his account differs from the on-the-ground eyewitnesses. He will claim that just before the explosion, “With all of the East Coast haze, I had a hard time picking him out,” implying he is not nearby. He also says that just after the explosion, “I could see the outline of the Pentagon,” again implying he is not nearby. He then asks “the controller whether [I] should set up a low orbit around the building,” but he is told “to get out of the area as quickly as possible.” He will add, “I took the plane once through the plume of smoke and thought if this was a terrorist attack, it probably wasn’t a good idea to be flying through that plume.” (Sternberg 9/11/2002)

The National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon commences an “air threat conference” at 9:37 a.m. in response to the terrorist attacks, which will last for more than eight hours and have numerous high-level government and military officials participating at various times.
NORAD Reports Two More Hijackings - Captain Charles Leidig opens the call at 9:39 a.m. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 37-38) As the acting deputy director for operations (DDO) in the NMCC during the attacks, Leidig is responsible for moderating the air threat conference and generating a military response to the crisis. (9/11 Commission 4/29/2004 pdf file) He begins the call saying: “An air attack against North America may be in progress. NORAD, what’s the situation?” NORAD says it has conflicting reports, and its latest information is of “a possible hijacked aircraft taking off out of JFK [International Airport in New York], en route to Washington, DC.” (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 38) NORAD says the FAA has also passed it information about a second additional hijacking. Major Charles Chambers, who is currently on duty in the NMCC, will later recall, “This was probably a communications mix-up, but we all thought for a while that there were a total of five hijackings.” (US Department of Defense 9/2001)
NMCC Reports Pentagon Attack - The NMCC reports that there has been a crash into the mall side of the Pentagon and requests that the secretary of defense be added to the conference. (However, despite being in the Pentagon when it is hit, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will not enter the NMCC and join the air threat conference until around 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001).) (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 38) The air threat conference is broadcast over a loudspeaker inside the NMCC. (Ragavan and Mazzetti 8/31/2003) According to Chambers, “Questions were flying left and right on the conference, and trying to keep things straight was very difficult.” (US Department of Defense 9/2001)
NORAD Recommended Air Threat Conference - Leidig and Commander Pat Gardner, the assistant DDO, had earlier on decided to convene an all-purpose “significant event conference” in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. That call commenced at 9:29 a.m. (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). NORAD had recommended that it be reconvened as an air threat conference. (9/11 Commission 4/29/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 37) According to Chambers, an air threat conference is used when aircraft are considered to be hostile and involves many more people than are in a significant event conference, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of defense, and officials from the White House. (US Department of Defense 9/2001) However, Leidig thought a significant event conference was the correct kind of call for the situation. He will tell the 9/11 Commission that an air threat conference “had Cold War implications and brought a different group of people to a conference.” (9/11 Commission 4/29/2004 pdf file) Gardner will say that threat conferences are intended for dealing with external threats. (9/11 Commission 5/12/2004)
Deputy Director Ordered Upgrading of Conference - All the same, Leidig gave the order to transition to an air threat conference. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 37) He will tell the 9/11 Commission that, in retrospect, the reason he thinks he did so “was because he perceived an air threat at that time.” (9/11 Commission 4/29/2004 pdf file) Therefore, the significant event conference was brought to an end at around 9:34 a.m., and resumes as an air threat conference three minutes later. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 37) Staff Sergeant Val Harrison could have established the air threat conference either by leaving all of those participating in the significant event conference on the line and then adding new participants one at a time, or by simply hanging up on everyone in the significant event conference and then having the computer do a mass dialing. Harrison recommended the second option. Leidig had agreed, and directed her to disconnect the conference call and start over.
Problem with Connecting Some Agencies - As happened with the significant event conference, there are problems connecting several agencies to the air threat conference. (US Department of Defense 9/2001) Despite repeated attempts, operators struggle to get the FAA connected (see (9:29 a.m.-12:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001), and it will take until 10:17 a.m. for an FAA representative to finally join the call (see 10:17 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/21/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 37) Other agencies had not understood what Leidig meant about convening the new conference, and so did not hang up their phones when the NMCC disconnected the previous conference call. As a result, all the NMCC got from them was a busy signal over the line. Chambers will recall, “As with the [significant event conference], it took longer than expected to convene the [air threat conference].” (US Department of Defense 9/2001)
Top Officials Participate - Throughout the more than eight hours the air threat conference is running for, numerous key officials will participate in it at various times, including President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, military personnel from the Presidential Emergency Operations Center below the White House, and the president’s military aide on Air Force One. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 37) Brigadier General Montague Winfield, the original DDO, who had Leidig take his place so he could attend a pre-scheduled meeting (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001), will later recall, “All of the governmental agencies… that were involved in any activity that was going on in the United States… were in that conference.” (ABC News 9/11/2002)
Winfield Runs Conference after Returning to Post - Winfield will take over the running of the air threat conference from Leidig after returning to his post at around 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (CNN 9/4/2002; 9/11 Commission 4/29/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 6/17/2004) But although NMCC conference calls are moderated by the DDO, Rumsfeld will use the DDO’s phone to participate in the air threat conference, meaning that Winfield is unable to moderate the conference when the defense secretary is participating. (9/11 Commission 7/21/2003 pdf file)

Captain Jim Hosking, piloting United Flight 890 from Japan to Los Angeles, is sent a warning message to his cockpit printer. It reads, “There has been a terrorist attack against United Airlines and American Airlines aircraft. We are advised there may be additional hijackings in progress. Shut down all access to the flight deck. Unable to elaborate further.” He tells his first officer, “Get out the crash axe.” Other pilots are receiving similar messages around this time. (Levin, Adams, and Morrison 8/12/2002)

At the time the Pentagon is struck, a member of the Defense Protective Service (DPS), which guards the Pentagon, is in the process of ordering the threat level be raised. John Pugrud, the deputy chief of the DPS, has met with DPS Chief John Jester, and Jester directed him to instruct the DPS Communications Center to raise the Force Protection Condition up one level, from Normal to Alpha (see (Shortly Before 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The moment the Pentagon is hit, Pugrud has the phone in his hand to dial the center. When his call is answered, he can hear the center’s alarms activating and radio calls taking place. The dispatcher yells: “We’ve been hit! We’ve been hit! Wedge one. Wedge one.” According to the Defense Department’s book about the Pentagon attack, no one in DPS has received any warning of a hijacked aircraft heading toward Washington. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 152) No steps have been taken to alert Pentagon employees or evacuate the building. (Vogel 2007, pp. 429) Around 30 minutes after the attack occurs, the US military will increase its threat level to Defcon Delta, the highest possible level (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (CNN 9/4/2002) This will be reduced to “Charlie” before the end of the week. (US Department of Defense 9/16/2001; Weisman 9/16/2001)

According to most accounts, at the time the Pentagon is hit, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in his office on the third floor of the Pentagon’s outer E Ring, receiving his daily intelligence briefing. (van Natta and Alvarez 9/12/2001; Woodward 2002, pp. 24; 9/11 Commission 3/23/2004; Clarke 2006, pp. 221; Cockburn 2007, pp. 1; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 130; Vogel 2007, pp. 438-439) As he later recalls, “the building shook and the tables jumped.” (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 130) Although he has been informed of the two aircraft hitting the World Trade Center (see Shortly After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001), he supposedly does not initially suspect a plane has hit the Pentagon, thinking instead that a bomb has gone off. (Rumsfeld 9/16/2001; Rumsfeld 9/30/2001; Rumsfeld 1/9/2002) In his nearby office, Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant Vice Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr. also hears the explosion, and walks through his doorway toward Rumsfeld’s office. As the two meet, Rumsfeld asks Giambastiani, “What the hell’s happening?” (Miles 9/8/2006; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 130) Rumsfeld then looks out his window but, he later recalls, sees “nothing here.” (Rumsfeld 10/12/2001; Rumsfeld 1/9/2002) He goes into the hallway and, accompanied by his security guards, hurries toward the crash site (see 9:38 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 130) However, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will later contradict these accounts. Clarke indicates that Rumsfeld has been participating in the video teleconference conducted from the White House Situation Room since shortly after the second WTC crash (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). He claims that Rumsfeld is still involved in this conference at the time the Pentagon is hit, and he tells his deputy, “I can still see Rumsfeld on the screen, so the whole building didn’t get hit.” (Clarke 2004, pp. 2-3 and 7-8) If Clarke’s account were correct, this would presumably mean Rumsfeld is in the Pentagon’s Executive Support Center (ESC), which has secure video facilities, rather than in his office. (Scarborough 2/23/2004) But according to other accounts, Rumsfeld does not go to the ESC until around 10:15 a.m., after he returns from the crash site (see (10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Clarke 2006, pp. 221; Cockburn 2007, pp. 1-5)

The strike on the Pentagon does not generate a clear seismic signal. A study by the Maryland Geological Survey will state, “We analyzed seismic records from five stations in the northeastern United States, ranging from 63 to 350 km from the Pentagon. Despite detailed analysis of the data, we could not find a clear seismic signal. Even the closest station… did not record the impact. We concluded that the plane impact to the Pentagon generated relatively weak seismic signals.” The study, which is conducted at the request of the Army, states that there are seismic signals for the two planes impacting the World Trade Center and for the Flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania, which allow times to be determined for these events. (Kim and Baum 2002 pdf file)

Diagram showing the area of impact at the Pentagon. The Navy Command Center is highlighted in red.Diagram showing the area of impact at the Pentagon. The Navy Command Center is highlighted in red. [Source: Washington Post] (click image to enlarge)Edward Earhart, Matthew Flocco, and their supervisor Lt. Nancy McKeown are inside the Pentagon, watching the televised footage of the burning World Trade Center. They belong to a small meteorological unit based in the Navy Command Center, located on the first floor of the building’s southwest face. McKeown asks her two young aides to bring up New York on the computer because the Command Center is going to send some fighter jets there, in case there is another attack on the city. She orders them to program weather updates for military aircraft converging on New York. However, very soon after this, the Command Center is directly impacted when the Pentagon is hit, and both Flocco and Earhart are killed. (Becker, Vogel, and Ruane 9/16/2001; McConnell 9/2002; CNN 9/8/2002; Riley 4/12/2006) Ronald Vauk, the watch commander in the Navy Command Center, is on the phone trying to get more fighters scrambled at the time the Pentagon is hit, though news reports say he wants them to protect Washington, not New York. (John Hopkins Magazine 11/2001; Clines 11/17/2001; Shane 9/11/2002) At 9:24 a.m., NORAD had ordered fighters at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to scramble (see 9:24 a.m. September 11, 2001), though these will not arrive over the Pentagon until after it is hit (see (Between 9:49 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004) According to Lt. Kevin Shaeffer, who works in the Command Center, just prior to the attack on the Pentagon, the watch section and watch leaders in the center are actively engaged in logging and recording the events going on in New York. He later says, “they all responded in exactly the way they were trained,” and, “Had the Command Center not been destroyed it surely would have been able to provide the highest levels of our Navy leadership with updates as to exactly what was occurring.” (Chips 3/2003)

At some time after the second attack in New York, Richard Myers, the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, receives a call from NORAD Commander Ralph Eberhart. According to his own account, Myers is on Capitol Hill, where he has been meeting with Senator Max Cleland (D-GA). Apparently soon after he leaves this meeting, his military aide, Army Captain Chris Donahue, hands him a cell phone on which Eberhart is calling. Myers will later comment, “In this emergency, I had to forgo the luxury of a secure encrypted red switch phone and use Donahue’s cell.” Myers will recall that Eberhart “said, you know, we’ve got several hijack codes, meaning that the transponders in the aircraft are talking to the ground, and they’re saying we’re under, we’re being hijacked, several hijack codes in the system, and we’re responding with, with fighter aircraft.” (Rhem 10/23/2001; Myers 9/11/2002; Myers 2009, pp. 8-9) (However, none of the pilots of the four hijacked flights this morning keyed the emergency four-digit code that would indicate a hijacking into their plane’s transponder (see (8:13 a.m.-9:28 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (CNN 9/11/2001) It is therefore unclear what “hijack codes” Eberhart is referring to.) Eberhart also tells Myers, “The decision I’m going to make is, we’re going to land everybody, and we’ll sort it out when we get them on the ground.” (Myers 6/29/2006) He is presumably referring to a plan called SCATANA, which clears the skies and gives the military control over US airspace. However, Eberhart does not implement this until around 11:00 a.m. (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004) It is unclear exactly when this call takes place, but it appears to be just before the time the Pentagon is hit, or just before Myers is informed of the Pentagon attack. (Myers 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission 6/17/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 6/17/2004; Myers 6/29/2006; Garamone 9/8/2006) In his 2009 memoirs, Myers will place it after he is informed of the second attack on the World Trade Center (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001), but not give a specific time. (Myers 2009, pp. 8-9) Cleland will confirm that Myers meets with him on this morning, and is with him up to the time of the Pentagon attack, or shortly before. (US Congress 9/13/2001; CNN 11/20/2001; Baxter and Galloway 6/16/2003) However, according to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, Myers is back at the Pentagon speaking over a video conference around 10 minutes before the Pentagon is struck (see 9:28 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Clarke 2004, pp. 5)


Jeremy Glick.
Jeremy Glick. [Source: Family photo]Jeremy Glick calls his wife, Lyz, from Flight 93. He describes the hijackers as Middle Eastern- and Iranian-looking. According to Glick, three of them put on red headbands, stood up, yelled, and ran into the cockpit. He had been sitting in the front of the coach section, but he was then sent to the back with most of the passengers. Glick says the hijackers claimed to have a bomb, which looked like a box with something red around it. Family members immediately call emergency 9-1-1 on another line. New York State Police are patched in midway through the call. Glick finds out about the WTC towers. Two others onboard also learn about the WTC at about this time. Glick’s phone remains connected until the very end of the flight. (Mandel 9/16/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/28/2001; Longman 2002, pp. 143; MSNBC 7/30/2002)

An employee at a gas station located across the street from the Pentagon servicing military personnel later says the station’s security cameras should have recorded the moment of impact. However, he says, “I’ve never seen what the pictures looked like. The FBI was here within minutes and took the film.” (McKelway 12/11/2001) A security camera atop a hotel close to the Pentagon also records the impact. Hotel employees watch the film several times before the FBI confiscates the video. (Gertz and Scarborough 9/21/2001) The Justice Department will refuse to release the footage, claiming that if they did it might provide intelligence to someone who would want to harm the US, but some Pentagon officials say they see no national security value to the video. (CNN 3/7/2002) The gas station footage and video taken from one nearby hotel, the Doubletree, will eventually be released in 2006, but do not show much (see September 13, 2006-Early December 2006). Reporter Sandra Jontz, who is evacuated from the Pentagon some time after it is hit, notices a Department of Transportation camera that monitors traffic backups pointed towards the crash site. (Bull and Erman 2002, pp. 281) As of the end of 2006, the footage from this camera has not been released.

From the White House Situation Room, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gives the instruction for fighter jets to establish patrols over all major US cities. Clarke has been talking with the FAA over the White House video conference, and his deputy, Roger Cressey, has just announced that a plane hit the Pentagon. According to his own recollection, Clarke responds: “I can still see [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld on the screen [for the Pentagon], so the whole building didn’t get hit. No emotion in here. We are going to stay focused.” He orders Cressey: “Find out where the fighter planes are. I want combat air patrol over every major city in this country. Now.” (Clarke 2004, pp. 7-8; Australian 3/27/2004) A combat air patrol (CAP) is an aircraft patrol over a particular area, with the purpose of intercepting and destroying any hostile aircraft before they reach their targets. (US Department of Defense 4/12/2001) It is unclear how long it takes for CAPs to be formed over all major cities, as Clarke requests. At 9:49, NORAD Commander Ralph Eberhart will direct all the US’s air sovereignty aircraft to battle stations (see 9:49 a.m. September 11, 2001), but bases have reportedly been calling into NORAD and asking for permission to send up fighters since after the second WTC crash (see (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Scott 6/3/2002; 9/11 Commission 6/17/2004) At around 11:00 a.m. Eberhart will implement a plan called SCATANA, which clears the skies and gives the military control over US airspace (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 6/17/2004)

James Roche.James Roche. [Source: United States Air Force]General John Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff, and James Roche, the secretary of the Air Force, head to the Air Force Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon, where they will assist the Air Force’s response to the terrorist attacks. (CNN 10/10/2001; Sharp 9/11/2003; Hebert 9/2011 pdf file) Roche learned about the attacks on the World Trade Center while he was holding a breakfast meeting with several members of Congress in his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon. He then arranged for the members of Congress to return to their offices, but stayed in his own office (see (Shortly After 8:48 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Hebert 9/2011 pdf file) Jumper learned about the attacks during a staff meeting he was chairing, but initially continued the meeting (see (9:00 a.m.-9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 136) He adjourned it at 9:20 a.m., according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. (Osborne 9/7/2004 pdf file) He then headed up to Roche’s office. (Roughton 9/15/2011)
Roche and Jumper Possibly Unaware of Plane Approaching Washington - In the office now with Roche and Jumper are Colonel Philip Breedlove, Roche’s senior military assistant, and Colonel Jack Egginton, executive officer to the Air Force chief of staff. (Hebert 9/2011 pdf file) It is unclear whether the men in Roche’s office realized a suspicious aircraft was approaching Washington, DC, before the Pentagon was hit, at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Lieutenant General Lance Lord, assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force, will later say that those who attended Jumper’s staff meeting “heard there was another plane inbound to Washington” as they were heading to their offices after the meeting. (Lord 9/5/2002) And Egginton will say that a few minutes before the Pentagon was hit, “We received word that another aircraft was headed toward Washington.” (Sharp 9/11/2003) But according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Jumper’s staff had “no idea that they [i.e. the Pentagon] would be the next target for terrorists.” (Condon 4/2/2002)
Roche and Jumper Possibly Initially Unaware that the Pentagon Had Been Attacked - Breedlove will recall that shortly before the Pentagon was hit, while Roche and Jumper had their backs to the window, he and Egginton “saw an airplane go by really close to the building.” People who work at the Pentagon or visit it regularly are used to seeing planes flying by, near the building. “But that one seemed closer than any other,” Breedlove will comment. (Hebert 9/2011 pdf file) However, it is unclear whether the men in Roche’s office immediately realized the Pentagon had been attacked when it was hit. The office is on the opposite side of the building to where the attack occurred and so, according to some accounts, Roche and Jumper did not feel the impact. They only realized something was wrong when they saw “people running down the halls and trying to evacuate the premises,” according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Roche will say that all he initially knew was that “the building was putting out the alert that something had gone wrong.” “It was amazing, from inside the building, how little we knew about what actually went on,” Tim Green, assistant executive to the Air Force chief of staff, who is with Jumper, will comment. “People outside of the building… probably knew more about what happened from the news than I did.” (CNN 10/10/2001; Condon 4/2/2002) Egginton and Breedlove, however, will contradict these accounts. “I felt the building shake upon impact,” Egginton will say. Breedlove will recall, “We felt a tremor in the building and then alarms start flashing.”
Roche and Jumper Taken to Operations Center - Breedlove will say that, in response to the attack on the Pentagon, he promptly arranges for Jumper and Roche to be escorted to the Air Force Operations Center, in the basement of the Pentagon’s C Ring. He will recall that he hits the “duress button” and then security officers enter Roche’s office almost immediately. “We said, ‘We need to get to the bunker; we need to get down to our operations area,’” he will say. (Sharp 9/11/2003; Hebert 9/2011 pdf file) Roche, though, will give a different account. He will say that his office had been “on the phone to our Operations Center” and then “we were called down,” presumably by whoever they were talking to in the Operations Center. (CNN 10/10/2001) Roche and Jumper are escorted to the Operations Center through “smoke, alarms, and throngs of people heading for the exits,” Egginton will recall. (Sharp 9/11/2003)
Roche and Jumper Learn a Plane Hit the Pentagon - In the Operations Center, members of the Air Force Crisis Action Team have already begun to assemble so as to help provide assistance to civil authorities in New York (see (9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 136) When Roche and Jumper reach the center, they will learn that the Pentagon has been hit by an aircraft (see After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (CNN 10/10/2001) Other Air Force officials, including Lord, also head to the Operations Center after the Pentagon is hit. (Scully 9/11/2003)

Pentagon security cameras facing the crash scene allegedly have been put out of order by the attack. (Murphy 2002, pp. 245) John Jester, the chief of the Defense Protective Service (DPS), runs from his office at the Pentagon down to the DPS Communications Center and orders, “Get a camera up there!” (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 152-153) As the Washington Times will later note, “The attack occurred close to the Pentagon’s heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring.” (Gertz and Scarborough 9/21/2001) However, some of the Communications Center’s eight wall-mounted monitor screens are blank, because the crash has destroyed the camera nearest the area of impact and cut connectivity to others. Furthermore, some of the security cameras at the Pentagon are currently inoperable because of construction work going on (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Officer Jesse De Vaughn brings up an image from a camera at the Navy Annex, located a few hundred yards from the Pentagon, which is then focused onto the crash site. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 153 and 244) Two recently installed security cameras located north of the crash site in fact captured the moment the aircraft impacted the Pentagon (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161) The poor quality footage from these will be officially released in 2006 (see May 16, 2006). (Burns 5/17/2006) Whether the cameras that were destroyed or disconnected when the Pentagon was hit captured the approaching aircraft or the moment of impact is unstated.

Vern Clark.Vern Clark. [Source: US Navy]The Navy Command Center at the Pentagon is mostly destroyed when the building is hit at 9:37 a.m. (Leiby 1/20/2002) After the attack, the Navy’s leaders start arriving instead at the Navy’s Antiterrorist Alert Center (ATAC), which is located at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) headquarters in southeast Washington, DC. (US Department of the Navy 2/2002 pdf file; CNN 8/27/2002; US Naval Criminal Investigative Service 8/22/2006) Those who arrive at the center include Admiral Vern Clark, the chief of naval operations; Admiral William Fallon, the vice chief of naval operations; Gordon England, the secretary of the Navy; and Rear Admiral Jeffrey Hathaway of the US Coast Guard, who is currently in charge of Navy Anti-Terrorism Force Protection. According to Hathaway, the NCIS headquarters is “not the official backup,” but “There was not a plan in place that if somebody flew into the Pentagon where would we take folks.” From the center, these officials are able to hold secure video-teleconferences throughout the rest of the day, and also on the following day. Eventually the Naval Operations staff will relocate to the Navy Annex, which is about a mile away from the Pentagon. This will act as their temporary base in the following weeks (see (3:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). (Hathaway 6/20/2002 pdf file; GlobalSecurity (.org) 5/7/2011)

Michael Miller.Michael Miller. [Source: US Navy]A number of White House staffers who are visiting New York make their way back to Washington, DC, following the attack on the Pentagon. About 15 members of the White House staff, including Joseph Hagin, the deputy chief of staff for operations, and Captain Michael Miller, the deputy director of the White House Military Office, are in New York conducting the “survey trip” for President Bush’s appearance at the United Nations General Assembly later in the month (see September 10, 2001).
Staffers Learn of Crashes while Visiting US Mission to the UN - Earlier this morning, they went to the US Mission to the United Nations for some preliminary meetings with the mission staff about the president’s forthcoming visit. In a conference room there, shortly after Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001), Miller informed Hagin of the crash. After seeing the early coverage of the incident on television, Hagin called the military aide who is with the president in Sarasota, Florida, to check if he was aware of what had happened. The military aide told him, “We’re on it.”
Staffers Taken to Police Station - After the White House staffers watched the second plane hitting the WTC live on TV, a State Department security officer told Hagin: “Sir, you need to get out of here as quickly as possible. There are reports of other planes inbound into the city.” The White House staffers were then taken by the Secret Service to a police station in Midtown Manhattan, where it was thought they would be safe. From there, Hagin called Josh Bolten, the deputy White House chief of staff for policy, who is at the White House. As the attacks were considered to be “just a New York incident” at that time, Hagin will later recall, Bolten and his colleagues decided that Hagin “should go down and be with the mayor, and… be the federal face in New York for the time being.”
Some Staffers Fly toward Nebraska to Meet President - The New York City police and the Secret Service had been trying to work out how to get Hagin to Ground Zero. But when the Pentagon is attacked at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001), they decide that the White House staffers should return to Washington. The staffers are driven to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. There, they are split up. Eight of them, including Hagin, get on a military plane and head toward Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska to meet the president, who has been taken to the base (see 2:50 p.m. September 11, 2001). However, as they are flying over Missouri, they learn that Bush has decided to come back to Washington (see (4:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001 and (4:33 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Therefore, their plane turns around and heads to the capital.
Hagin and Other Staffers Return to White House - After they land at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, the staffers are driven to the White House. The time when they arrive there is unstated, but it is presumably around late afternoon or early evening. At the White House, Hagin goes to work immediately. (National Journal 8/31/2002; Wilkinson 1/20/2003) As the deputy chief of staff for operations, he is a key member of the White House staff. He is responsible for the management and administrative functions of the White House, plans all of the president’s travel, and oversees the president’s schedule. (Korte 10/10/2002; Abramowitz 7/4/2008) Hagin will recall that, after reaching the White House, he is “very involved in the continuity of government and just how, operationally, we were going to deal with this.” He will remain at the White House for the next two days. (National Journal 8/31/2002; Wilkinson 1/20/2003)

Ted Olson, the solicitor general of the United States, immediately thinks Flight 77, which his wife was a passenger on, has crashed when he sees reports on television about an explosion at the Pentagon. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001; Fox News 9/14/2001; Harnden 3/5/2002) Ted Olson was called by his wife, Barbara Olson, at his office at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, sometime after the second hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center. She told him her plane had been hijacked and gave him details of the hijacking before the call got disconnected (see (Between 9:15 a.m. and 9:25 a.m.) September 11, 2001). She called again a short time later and gave him additional details of the hijacking, but that call also got cut off (see (Between 9:20 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). He then returned to watching the coverage of the crashes at the WTC on television and, after a short time, sees the reports indicating some kind of explosion has occurred at the Pentagon (see 9:39 a.m.-9:44 a.m. September 11, 2001). Ted Olson will later recall that, even though it is some time before reports suggest that the incident involved a plane crashing at the Pentagon (see 9:43 a.m.-9:53 a.m. September 11, 2001), he immediately knows Flight 77, his wife’s plane, has crashed. (CNN 9/14/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 9) “I knew it was her,” he will comment. (Harnden 3/5/2002) “I did and I didn’t want to, but I knew.” (CNN 9/14/2001) “I knew in my heart that was that aircraft and I also knew in my heart that [Barbara Olson] could not possibly have survived that kind of an explosion with a full load of fuel on a recently taken-off airplane,” he will say. (Fox News 9/14/2001) Ted Olson shares his thoughts with some of his colleagues. Helen Voss, his special assistant, watched television with him after the second call from his wife ended. She will recall that when the incident at the Pentagon starts being reported, he says, “That’s Barbara’s plane.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001) And Allen Ferber, a security officer from the Department of Justice command center, sat and watched television with the solicitor general for about 10 minutes after he received the second call from his wife (see (Between 9:17 a.m. and 9:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Ferber then left Ted Olson’s office but he returns to it after the incident at the Pentagon is reported. He will recall that, apparently referring to Flight 77, Ted Olson says to him, “The plane is down.” Ferber says he is very sorry and then leaves the office again. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001) Ted Olson will stay in his office for the next few hours, phoning friends and family members to let them know his wife is dead. (CNN 9/14/2001; Harnden 3/5/2002)

According to one account, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is given the go-ahead to authorize Air Force jets to shoot down threatening aircraft around this time. In late 2003, Clarke will recall to ABC News that, minutes earlier, he’d picked up the phone in the White House Situation Room and called Vice President Dick Cheney, who is in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House. He’d told him: “We have fighters aloft now. We need authority to shoot down hostile aircraft.” (Koppel 11/29/2003) This call appears to be one Clarke also describes in his 2004 book Against all Enemies, though in that account he will describe having made his request to Army Major Mike Fenzel, who is also in the PEOC, rather than directly to Cheney. According to that account, the call occurred shortly before Clarke learns of the Pentagon attack, so roughly around 9:36 (see (Between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Clarke 2004, pp. 6-7) Clarke describes to ABC News, “I thought that would take forever to get that [shootdown] authority.” But, “The vice president got on the phone to the president, got back to me, I would say within two minutes, and said, ‘Do it.’” (Koppel 11/29/2003) If correct, this would mean the president authorizes military fighters to shoot down threatening aircraft at around 9:37-9:38. However, around this time, the president and vice president are reportedly having difficulty communicating with each other, while Bush heads from the Booker Elementary School to the Sarasota airport (see (9:34 a.m.-9:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Shenon and Marquis 6/18/2004; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 9/10/2006) Furthermore, this account contradicts several others. In his 2004 book, Clarke will describe being told to inform the Pentagon it has shootdown authorization slightly later, some time between 9:45 and 9:56 (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Clarke 2004, pp. 8) According to journalists Bob Woodward and Bill Sammon, Bush gives the shootdown authorization in a phone call with Cheney shortly after 9:56 (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Sammon 2002, pp. 102; Woodward 2002, pp. 17-18; Balz and Woodward 1/27/2002) The 9/11 Commission will say he gives it in a call at 10:18 (see 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 41)

The USS <i>George Washington</i>.The USS George Washington. [Source: Summer Anderson / Department of Defense]After the attack on the Pentagon, Navy ships and aircraft squadrons that are stationed, or at sea, along the coast of the United States are, reportedly, “rapidly pressed into action” to defend the country. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark is evacuated from his office in the Pentagon after the building is hit, and soon relocates to the Navy’s Antiterrorist Alert Center in southeast Washington, DC, where a backup Navy command center is being established (see After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Clark later explains, “We had carriers at sea. I talked to Admiral Natter [Adm. Robert J. Natter, commander in chief, US Atlantic Fleet] and Admiral Fargo [Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, commander in chief, US Pacific Fleet] about immediate loadouts [of weapons and armed aircraft] and the positioning of our air defense cruisers. Fundamentally, those pieces were in place almost immediately and integrated into the interagency process and with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration].” The aircraft carrier USS George Washington is currently at sea conducting training exercises. It is dispatched to New York, “following the recovery of armed F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets from Naval Air Station Oceana,” in Virginia Beach, Virginia. According to Sea Power magazine, another aircraft carrier—the USS John F. Kennedy—that is departing Mayport, Florida, is ordered to patrol the waters off Hampton Roads, Virginia, “to protect the Navy’s vast shore complex in Norfolk.” (Breed 9/12/2001; Peterson 1/2002; Burns 4/2007) The John F. Kennedy has nearly a full air wing of 75 fighter, attack, and reconnaissance planes aboard it, while the George Washington has only a limited number of aircraft on board. (Dorsey 9/12/2001) Admiral Natter orders two amphibious ships—the USS Bataan and the USS Shreveport—to proceed to North Carolina, to pick up Marines from Camp Lejeune, in case additional support is needed in New York. “Within three hours, an undisclosed number of Aegis guided-missile cruisers and destroyers also were underway, their magazines loaded with Standard 2 surface-to-air missiles. Positioned off New York and Norfolk, and along the Gulf Coast, they provided robust early-warning and air-defense capabilities to help ensure against follow-on terrorist attacks.” Vern Clark later recalls that, after the Pentagon attack, “We were thinking about the immediate protection of the United States of America.” (Peterson 1/2002) Yet, according to CNN, it is not until 1:44 p.m. that the Pentagon announces that five warships and two aircraft carriers—the USS George Washington and the USS John F. Kennedy—are to depart the Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, so as to protect the East Coast (see 1:44 p.m. September 11, 2001). (CNN 9/12/2001) And, according to some reports, the Navy only dispatches missile destroyers toward New York and Washington at 2:51 p.m. (Washington Post 9/12/2001; Fox News 9/13/2001; Associated Press 9/11/2006)

General John Keane, vice chief of staff of the Army, instructs Major General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s director of operations, readiness, and mobilization, to inform Army facilities around the world that the Pentagon has been attacked. Chiarelli headed from his office to the Army Operations Center (AOC) in the basement of the Pentagon sometime after the second hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001) and called Keane after he arrived there. During the conversation, he alerted Keane to a suspicious aircraft that had been flying toward Washington, DC (see Shortly Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Chiarelli 2/5/2002; Keane 9/10/2016) The two men were still on the phone at 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon attack occurred (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Although the building was hit far away from where his office is located, Keane felt the room shake violently. He now asks Chiarelli if he too noticed the impact. “Did you hear that?” he says. Chiarelli says no. “Pete, that plane [that was approaching Washington] just hit us,” Keane says. He will later recall that he then instructs Chiarelli “to tell the US Army around the world what happened and that, given the status of the AOC, which was unharmed, we would still maintain command and control of the Army.” (Keane 9/10/2016; Swift 9/11/2016) Keane will subsequently join Chiarelli in the AOC (see (Shortly After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 135; Baier 9/12/2011) From there, according to a report published by the Army, he will send “messages throughout the Army to inform subordinate commands that HQDA [Headquarters, Department of the Army] was still directing operations,” even though the Pentagon had been hit. (Christopher N. Koontz 2011, pp. 56-57 pdf file)

Minutes after the attack on the Pentagon, an E-4B National Airborne Operations Center plane takes off from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio, bound for an undisclosed location. E-4Bs are highly modified Boeing 747s, fitted with sophisticated communications equipment, that act as flying military command posts. Nicknamed “Doomsday” planes during the Cold War, they serve the president and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They can also support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during major disasters, like hurricanes or earthquakes. Wright-Patterson is one of the few designated bases for these special planes. The US military possesses four of them in total, one of which is constantly kept on alert. (Federation of American Scientists 4/23/2000; Gaffney 9/12/2001) Three of the E-4Bs are airborne this morning, due to their role in a pre-scheduled military exercise called Global Guardian (see Before 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001, (9:27 a.m.) September 11, 2001, and (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Dejka 2/27/2002) The E-4B from Wright-Patterson will return to the base later in the day. (Gaffney 9/12/2001)

Secret Service executives implement an “emergency call-up” of all their agency’s personnel at some time after 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon was hit, according to US News and World Report. The reason why the Secret Service did not call up all its personnel earlier on is unstated, as is the reason it decides to do so now. (Ragavan 12/1/2002) The Secret Service is responsible for protecting the nation’s “most visible targets,” including the president, the vice president, and the White House complex. (US Department of the Treasury 5/8/2001; Office of Management and Budget 7/2001, pp. 82 pdf file) Brian Stafford, the agency’s director, realized the US was under attack after the second plane hit the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001), and then activated the Director’s Crisis Center at Secret Service headquarters to manage the agency’s response (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001; Peter Schnall 10/24/2004) And since around 9:18 a.m., a meeting has been taking place in the office of Carl Truscott, the special agent in charge of the presidential protective division, during which Truscott and three other senior Secret Service agents have discussed security enhancements at the White House (see (9:18 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (United States Secret Service 10/1/2001)

General John Keane, vice chief of staff of the Army, initially goes to assist people near the crash site after the Pentagon is hit but subsequently goes to the Army Operations Center (AOC) in the basement of the Pentagon to help the military respond to the terrorist attacks. Keane ordered Major General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s director of operations, readiness, and mobilization, to bring the AOC up to full manning after he learned a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center (see (Between 8:49 a.m. and 9:02 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Keane 9/10/2016; Swift 9/11/2016) The AOC is “the Army’s command and control center,” according to Chiarelli. (Schwab and Jewell 9/2004) It is “the place that people will migrate” to during an emergency, according to Brigadier General Clyde Vaughn, the Army’s deputy director of operations, readiness, and mobilization. (Vaughn 2/12/2002) And yet Keane did not go there himself in response to the attacks on the WTC and was still in his office when the Pentagon was hit. Although his office is located far away from where the attack occurred, it shook violently from the impact and subsequently started filling with smoke.
Keane Tells His Staffers to Go Home - Following the attack, Keane tells his immediate staff to call home and then evacuate. “Look, call your homes right now and make sure everybody knows you’re alright,” he says, “and then I want you to all to leave the building immediately.” He keeps just his executive officer and his aide with him, and decides to head to the scene of the attack. “Let’s go on down there and see if we can help some of these people,” he says. Keane and his colleagues grab some T-shirts, soak them in water, and wrap them around their noses and mouths for protection. They then make their way toward the crash site.
Keane Is Advised to Go to the Operations Center - About 100 yards from it, the smoke becomes thicker. People there are running away from the area of the attack. Keane and his two colleagues take time ensuring that everyone is able to get out of the Pentagon. After a while, though, Keane’s executive officer determines that they should be in the AOC. He tells Keane: “Look, you’ve got to take charge of the Army, so let’s get to the operations center. We’ll leave the recovery to other people.” “I knew immediately that he was right,” Keane will later comment. He and his two colleagues therefore go to the AOC. (Keane 9/10/2016; Swift 9/11/2016)
Keane Provides 'Leadership and Guidance' - When they get there, Keane talks to Chiarelli, who went to the operations center before the Pentagon was hit, and asks him for a situation report. Chiarelli says what he currently knows about the attacks. “I was able to tell [Keane] basically what had occurred at the World Trade Center,” he will recall, adding, “We were able to tell him that the [Pentagon] had been hit—he knew the building had been hit—and that there were other aircraft in the air.” (Chiarelli 2/5/2002; Lofgren 2011, pp. 100) Keane subsequently provides “leadership and guidance” to the personnel in the AOC, according to a report published by the Army. (Christopher N. Koontz 2011, pp. 56 pdf file) He apparently stays in the operations center for the rest of the day. (Keane 9/10/2016; Swift 9/11/2016) Other senior Army leaders also go to the AOC following the attack on the Pentagon. (Chiarelli 2/5/2002; Rossow 2003, pp. 67; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 135)

A number of FBI agents are, for unknown reasons, already at the Navy Annex—a building near the Pentagon—when the Pentagon is hit, and help clear the Navy Annex when it is evacuated in response to the attack. (Alexander 12/21/2001) The Navy Annex is a massive building located a few hundred yards uphill from the Pentagon. It has enough room for 6,000 employees. Currently, about 100 Navy personnel work in it, and most of the space is used by the Marine Corps. (Garamone 9/24/2001; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 14; GlobalSecurity (.org) 5/7/2011)
Building Manager Sounds Fire Alarm, Starts Evacuation - Coneleous Alexander, a building manager at the Navy Annex, hears the explosion from the Pentagon attack (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Alexander “knew immediately it was the Pentagon” that had been hit, he will later recall. He runs to the front of the Navy Annex and sees the smoke coming from the Pentagon. Alexander immediately sounds the fire alarm and starts getting people out of the Navy Annex. He receives no directions from the Defense Protective Service (DPS)—the law enforcement agency that guards the Pentagon—on what to do, but knows from his training that he has to get people out of the building.
FBI Agents Already at Navy Annex, Assist Evacuation - As the evacuation begins, Alexander notices about 10 FBI agents going down the halls of the Navy Annex. He knows what they are because they have “FBI” written on the backs of their jackets. However, he does not know where they have come from. Interviewed three months later, Alexander will speculate that the FBI agents may have come to the Navy Annex because they received prior notification of a hijacked aircraft heading toward Washington, DC, but he will say their presence at his building “puzzles him to this day.” Because there are no members of the DPS on hand to help evacuate the building, the FBI agents assist in this task. The agents will also give Alexander updates on alerts about potential further attacks. People are moved “farther and farther” from the building following each threat warning, according to Alexander. Later in the day, Navy and Marine Corps senior officers will re-enter the Navy Annex to establish a command center there (see (3:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). (Alexander 11/5/2001; Alexander 12/21/2001)

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is initially evacuated from the Pentagon after it is attacked but he subsequently returns to the building and joins other senior officials in the National Military Command Center (NMCC). Wolfowitz saw the second crash at the World Trade Center on the television in his office at the Pentagon, but did nothing in response to it and instead continued with a routine meeting (see (9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Wolfowitz Thought the Pentagon Attack Was an Earthquake - He was still in his office when the Pentagon was attacked, at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Although his office is on the opposite side of the building to where the attack occurred, he felt the building shake from the impact. He also heard the crash. “I think I heard it, a dull, thud-like noise,” he will later recall. And yet, despite being aware of the crashes at the WTC, he initially thought the shaking was caused by an earthquake, rather than another attack. “I didn’t put the two things together in my mind,” he will comment. He therefore initially did nothing in response. “It was clear something had happened, but it still wasn’t clear that there was anything to do,” he will say.
Wolfowitz Is Evacuated from the Pentagon - Wolfowitz only reacts to the incident when he hears someone saying a bomb has gone off on the other side of the Pentagon and the building needs to be evacuated. By now, alarm bells are sounding and people are streaming out of the building. A Marine sergeant who works outside Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s office is anxious to get Wolfowitz away from the Pentagon. The deputy secretary of defense is therefore evacuated from the building and then gathers with others on the parade ground in front of it. After spending about 10 minutes there, he receives the instruction to return to the Pentagon, apparently from someone in Rumsfeld’s office. He therefore gets into his car, is driven to an entrance, and walks into the building. (Wolfowitz 4/19/2002 pdf file; Wolfowitz 4/22/2002; Wolfowitz 5/9/2003)
Wolfowitz Goes to the Command Center - After returning to the Pentagon, Wolfowitz possibly goes to the Executive Support Center on the building’s third floor. Victoria Clarke, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, will recall seeing him there sometime after the Pentagon is hit. (Clarke 7/2/2002 pdf file) Wolfowitz will say only that he goes to the NMCC after returning to the Pentagon. The time he arrives there is unstated. Other senior officials with him in the NMCC include Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the NMCC, Wolfowitz participates in a secure video conference. (Wolfowitz 4/19/2002 pdf file; Wolfowitz 4/22/2002; Wolfowitz 5/9/2003) After spending some time there, he will be flown to Raven Rock, the alternate command center outside Washington, DC (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 132; Vogel 2007, pp. 441; Graff 2017, pp. 347-348)

The J. Edgar Hoover Building.The J. Edgar Hoover Building. [Source: FBI]Nonessential employees are evacuated from the FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. (New Yorker 9/24/2001; Kessler 2002, pp. 421) The FBI headquarters is located in the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, between Ninth and Tenth Streets, six blocks away from the White House. The building is seven stories high along Pennsylvania Avenue and rises to 11 stories at the rear. (Kessler 2007, pp. 15; US Government Accountability Office 11/2011, pp. 6 pdf file; Associated Press 12/10/2012; Tonic and Escobar 10/6/2016)
Headquarters Is Evacuated after the Pentagon Attack - The evacuation apparently takes place shortly after 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon was hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Denise Smith, a forensic scientist, is at work in a laboratory in the Hoover Building when she and her colleagues learn of the attacks on the World Trade Center. “Then, all of a sudden, we could see flames and smoke coming from the Pentagon,” she will later recall. “Seconds later,” according to the Baraboo News Republic, “everyone in the building was told to evacuate.” (Zagorski 9/10/2011) Author Cindi McMenamin will write that her brother Dan, who is working at FBI headquarters this morning, and his colleagues “immediately evacuated” after “getting word that the Pentagon had been hit.” (McMenamin 2012, pp. 64) It apparently takes a considerable time to get everyone away from the building. “The backup to leave the FBI’s underground garage was half an hour,” according to journalist and author Ronald Kessler. (Kessler 2002, pp. 421)
Headquarters Is Feared to Be a Terrorist Target - The headquarters is apparently evacuated due to fears that it may be the target of a terrorist attack. “Assuming that FBI headquarters would be the next target, nonessential employees were being evacuated from the J. Edgar Hoover Building,” Kessler will describe. (Kessler 2007, pp. 15) McMenamin will write that her brother and his colleagues evacuate “as they guessed their building—and any other federal building—could be next.” (McMenamin 2012, pp. 64) Attorney General John Ashcroft, who will arrive at FBI headquarters early this afternoon (see (Between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001), will state that sometime before his arrival it had been thought “that one of the [hijacked] planes might be headed for the FBI headquarters building.” (9/11 Commission 12/17/2003 pdf file) Many FBI agents and senior FBI officials who remain in the headquarters work from the Strategic Information and Operations Center (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (McGee 10/14/2001; Kessler 2002, pp. 5) The center, on the building’s fifth floor, is fortified so its occupants can survive a bombing or other kind of attack. (Shenon and Johnston 11/2/2001) Other security measures are also taken around this time. Police block off Ninth and Tenth Streets alongside the Hoover Building. Bomb-sniffing dogs and FBI police officers armed with submachine guns then patrol the perimeter around the building. (Kessler 2002, pp. 421)

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld heads for the crash site immediately after the Pentagon is hit. At the time of the attack, Rumsfeld is in his office proceeding with his regularly scheduled CIA briefing, despite being aware of the two attacks on the World Trade Center earlier on. Waiting outside his door is Officer Aubrey Davis of the Pentagon police, who is assigned to the defense secretary’s personal bodyguard and has come of his own initiative to move Rumsfeld to a better-protected location. According to Davis, there is “an incredibly loud ‘boom,’” as the Pentagon is struck. Just 15 or 20 seconds later, Rumsfeld walks out of his door looking composed, having already put on the jacket he normally discards when in his office. Davis informs him there is a report of an airplane hitting a section of the Pentagon known as the Mall. Rumsfeld sets off without saying anything or informing any of his command staff where he is going, and heads swiftly toward the Mall. Davis accompanies him, as does Rumsfeld’s other security guard Gilbert Oldach, his communications officer, and the deputy director of security for the secretary’s office. Finding no sign of damage at the Mall, Davis tells Rumsfeld, “[N]ow we’re hearing it’s by the heliport,” which is along the next side of the building. Despite Davis’s protests that he should head back, Rumsfeld continues onward, and they go outside near where the crash occurred. (Cockburn 2007, pp. 1-2; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 130; Democracy Now! 3/7/2007) The Pentagon was hit on the opposite site of the huge building to Rumsfeld’s office. (Aldinger 9/11/2001) Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke will say that Rumsfeld is “one of the first people” to arrive at the crash scene. (Clarke 9/15/2001) He spends a brief time there (see Between 9:38 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. September 11, 2001), before returning to the building by about 10:00 a.m., according to his own account (see (10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 3/23/2004) Rumsfeld will later justify his actions following the attack, saying, “I was going, which seemed to me perfectly logically, towards the scene of the accident to see what could be done and what had happened.” (Rumsfeld 8/12/2002) As journalist Andrew Cockburn will point out, though, “[T]he country was under attack and yet the secretary of defense disappears for 20 minutes.” (C-SPAN 2/25/2007) John Jester, the chief of the Defense Protective Service, which guards the Pentagon, will criticize Rumsfeld for heading to the crash scene at this time. He will say: “One of my officers tried to stop him and he just brushed him off. I told [Rumsfeld’s] staff that he should not have done that. He is in the national command authority; he should not have gone to the scene.” (Jester 10/19/2001 pdf file) The numerous reports of Rumsfeld going outside to the crash scene are apparently contradicted by counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke. In his 2004 book Against All Enemies, Clarke will give the impression that Rumsfeld never leaves a video conference for very long after the Pentagon is hit, except to move from one secure teleconferencing studio to another elsewhere in the Pentagon. (Clarke 2004, pp. 7-9) However, video footage confirms that Rumsfeld does indeed go to the crash site. (CNN 8/17/2002)

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