In a comment on my post about Chip Berlet and “Conspiracism”, charlienneb has asked me to recommend an assertion of Mark Robinowitz’s for him to take a look at. So, I’ll now try to present what Robinowitz has said is some of his best evidence. I cannot vouch for everything he says, because he deals with a lot of matters I personally have not yet researched in depth.
For me personally, regarding 9/11, the smoking gun is the straight-down vertical, almost-symmetrical collapse of WTC 7, plus all the subsequent hampering and fudging of investigations. I’ve also spent quite a bit of time studying arguments for and against the idea that WTC 1 and 2 too were demolished with explosives and/or thermite/thermate, and I’m inclined to think it’s highly likely that they were.
But Robinowitz, on the other hand, prefers not to rely on demolition theories, or on physical-evidence arguments of any kind. He has made some good arguments against relying on physical evidence. Most people have almost no scientific background whatsoever and hence are not in a good position to evaluate physical evidence on their own. Although I’m no expert either, I personally do have a strong general scientific and engineering background, including two years of physics in college, which, I believe, is enough background for me to evaluate most (though not all) of the scientific arguments that have been made on both sides. But most people don’t share my background, so it would behoove me to see if I can build a solid case for government complicity in the 9/11 attacks (at least LIHOP, if not MIHOP) without any reference to demolition, either in the direct physical evidence or in the evidence of a coverup.
Robinowitz believes he has such a case. Because I’ve been asked about it, I’ll now discuss some of Robinowitz’s evidence as best I can without yet having done the needed further research. In later posts I’ll comment on other websites that he recommends, plus other websites I’m aware of which likewise focus on matters not requiring any scientific knowledge.
Robinowitz documents most of his claims, but there are, in my opinion, a few gaps in his documentation. He compensates for the gaps with good common-sense reasoning. However, to build a really solid case, it would be desirable to have documentation for those points too. I’ll be pointing out the gaps below, as I present his arguments. I would appreciate it very much if any readers could point me to some relevant primary-source documentation, if it exists.
On his Best evidence page, Robinowitz lists as the “Best documented evidence”:
suppressed warnings (from FBI investigation of flight schools and from US allies warning 9/11 was imminent), failure to follow standard operating procedure during the attacks, Air Force and intelligence wargames on 9/11
On a page about prior warnings, he includes the following, among other items:
- High-Ranking Officials Admit 9/11 Could’ve Been Prevented – collection of quotes
- List of Foreign Intelligence Agency Attack Warnings in the Cooperative Research site.
- A copy of “Dozens of warnings preceded 9/11” by Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times, Thursday, February 10, 2005, as reprinted in the International Herald Tribune
- What Did They Know – collection of news stories about prior warnings and other foreknowledge, on MakeThemAccountable.com
In email to me, Robinowitz mentioned Coleen Rowley, an FBI agent who blew the whistle on how, before 9/11, the Washington office of the FBI had blocked investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was subsequently indicted as a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. A copy of her memo can be found on the Time magazine site.
The above does not, by itself, prove government complicity, but it’s part of a larger pattern of actions and inactions by various government agencies which allowed the attacks of 9/11 to happen. The larger pattern, taken as a whole, is indeed suspicious, worthy of an investigation with subpoena power, by someone without Philip Zelikow’s ties to the Bush administration.
Many people have questioned why NORAD didn’t intercept any of the hijacked planes on 9/11. On his page about The “Stand Down” of the Air Force on 9/11, Robinowitz writes:
For critics of the official story of 9/11, the smokiest of the smoking guns is the “failure” of NORAD to intercept the planes.
Apologists for the Bush regime state that since they were not expecting the 9/11 scenario, and thought that the hijacking would be a “traditional” type hijack, but this avoids the question of why the off-course planes were not intercepted (a procedure that does not require Presidential authorization, unlike the order to shoot down the plane).
According to David Ray Griffin in Debunking 9/11 Debunking, there were two distinct protocols that the FAA and NORAD could have followed, the hijacking protocol and the emergency protocol. According to Griffin, the FAA and NORAD should have followed the emergency protocal because of the loss of radio contact and transponder signal. This should have resulted in a faster response, by the FAA and NORAD, than the hijacking protocol, which was admittedly slower, since “traditional” hijackings were not necessarily considered emergencies before 9/11. (If anyone can direct me to some good documentation on this, I would very much appreciate it. Unfortunately, Griffin’s documentation isn’t the best. Mark Robinowitz, by the way, does not endorse Griffin’s books.) In any case, once the first plane hit WTC 1, and especially after the second plane hit WTC 2, all other hijackings should surely have been treated as emergencies.
Back to Mark Robinowitz:
Even if one is willing to grant exceptional deference to the Bush / Cheney administration, and pretend that they had no idea 9/11 was about to happen, there is no excuse for this ignorance at 9:03 am, when the second (South) tower was hit. At that point, the entire military’s air defense system had no doubt that the hijackings were intentional, multiple attacks, and that additional hijacked planes would be used as weapons. This is the time when “President” Bush was content to continue to read to second graders, instead of assuming his duties as Commander-in-Chief.
When the second tower was struck, Flight 77 was near the Ohio – West Virginia border. Around this time, that plane made an unscheduled 180 degree turn, and stopped communicating with air traffic control — a big clue that this was also one of the hijacked planes. Nevertheless, no serious efforts were made to intercept this plane between 9:03 am and 9:38 am, when it hit the west side of the Pentagon. Planes were scrambled from an air base in the Norfolk, Virginia area during this time, but inexplicably were sent east over the ocean, instead of northwest toward the Washington area. (The weather that morning was perfectly clear, and there is no innocent explanation for why these interceptor planes were sent over the water, away from DC, instead of toward the National Capitol Area.)
The 9/11 Commission report placed all the blame on the FAA, which many people have questioned on various grounds. In discussing this point, it would be helpful to have documentation of exactly what the FAA’s standard operating procedures actually were back in September 2001. Unfortunately I haven’t found this on any of the 9/11 Truth websites I’ve looked at so far, other than some broken links to pages on the FAA website that no longer exist. Also I was unsatisfied with the references that David Ray Griffin provided, on this particular point, in Debunking 9/11 Debunking (although I don’t remember, offhand, exactly why I was unsatisfied with them). However, without primary-source documentation of the FAA’s actual standard operating procedures at that time, we don’t have a complete answer to those who would claim that the problem was just FAA incompetence or inadequate standard operating procedures. It has been widely claimed in the mass media that the FAA’s and NORAD’s SOP’s back then were not adequate to deal with the situation, but were made stricter after 9/11. If indeed the SOP’s were adequate before 9/11, I would appreciate it very much if anyone reading this could point me to some good documentation. When I asked Mark Robinowitz about this, he suggested that I read Crossing the Rubicon by Michael Ruppert. Not having read this book yet, I cannot comment further.
In the meantime, various people have made some good common-sense arguments against the idea of FAA incompetence or inadequate SOP’s. For example, on his page about The “Stand Down” of the Air Force on 9/11, Robinowitz writes:
The 9/11 Commission blamed the FAA for screwing up the response to the hijackings, yet FAA safely landed more than 4,000 planes at airports that were not expecting them immediately after the attacks began.
The point here being that the FAA managed to accomplish a totally unprecedented task without incident, which makes it unlikely that they would have been so utterly incompetent at a task which was more routine, e.g. calling NORAD in the event of trouble.
Robinowitz then argues, further:
It has been standard operating procedures for decades to immediately intercept off course planes that do not respond to communications from air traffic controllers. When the Air Force “scrambles” a fighter plane to intercept, they usually reach the plane in question in minutes. The Air Force plane will then fly next to the non-responsive plane, and rock their wings — a way to say “follow me” to a nearby airport (if the plane merely has lost its radio equipment). If the intercepted plane refuses to respond, there is a graduated series of actions the Air Force can use — firing tracer bullets in front of the plane, even shooting it down if it is a threat. This is analogous to police pulling motorists over for having their lights out – every driver in the US knows that when a police car behind them turns on their siren, they are supposed to pull over, just like every pilot knows that when an Air Force fighter plane pulls beside them, they are supposed to follow their orders, too. If the light bulb has merely burned out, the motorist will get a warning, but the police have a graduated series of responses they can employ if the driver is not merely having a mechanical problem (ie. they have just robbed a bank and are driving with the lights off to avoid being seen).
The airspace over the northeastern US is among the busiest on the planet. It is home to the nation’s political, military and financial headquarters, the largest population concentrations, and key strategic facilities. A jumbo jet in this area suddenly changing direction and altitude, and refusing to respond to air traffic controllers would be as dangerous as a truck on a busy rush-hour freeway driving the wrong way at full speed. When planes go off course in this busy environment, instant reactions make the difference between life and death — which is why NORAD (North American Air Defense) practices these kinds of scenarios, and instantly scrambles fighters when there is any hint of a problem.
Some people easily accept an incompetence theory on the alleged grounds that all bureaucracies are always, everywhere, and inevitably incompetent. But this is an unjustified blanket claim. Bureaucracies are sometime competent, sometimes not, depending on how well-trained their employees are, what their protocols are, etc. Also a government agency may be good at some tasks but not others. (An example David Ray Griffin gave in Debunking 9/11 Debunking is that the U.S. armed forces are good at invading other countries, but not good at occupying other countries.)
So then, what was the FAA’s and/or NORAD’s problem on 9/11?
Some people have alleged that a “stand down” order must have been given to the FAA and/or NORAD. Mark Robinowitz does not believe that a “stand down” order was given, because there would have been too great a risk of such an order being disobeyed. As he explains on his page about the war games:
It would be like asking a firefighter who had trained their entire adult life to “stand down” when their neighbor’s house was burning and the inhabitants trapped inside (or worse, asking that firefighter to “stand down” from protecting the next house on the block from catching fire from the first burning house). In this analogy, the firefighter would probably ignore orders from his or her boss to stand down, and would seek to rescue the neighbors without worrying about the consequences until later.
So, Robinowitz believes that normal responses, by both the FAA and NORAD, must have been interfered with in ways subtler than an outright “stand down” order.
He has a page discussing what he and others have alleged were an unusually large number of war games (training exercises) taking place on the morning of 9/11, thereby distracting the FAA, NORAD, the CIA, and other government agencies from doing what they normally might have been able to do the stop the planes from hitting the buildings — or at least the WTC buildings. As Robinowitz points out, the exercises don’t explain why the Pentagon was allowed to be hit, because the exercises would surely have been called off by the time the second WTC tower was hit. But he regards the war games as strong evidence of government complicity.
To know whether the war games are, in fact, truly anomolous enough to be strong evidence of complicity on the part of whoever scheduled all these exercises, one would also need to know how often such exercises were normally conducted and, therefore, how unusual it truly was to schedule so many exercises on a single day. Perhaps this is discussed in the hooks and websites he recommends. In the meantime, I would appreciate it very much if anyone else reading this could point me to such information.
In any case, the content of some of these drills, and of other similar drills before 9/11, clearly indicate that the government had in fact anticipated the possibility of an attack similar to 9/11, and so was not nearly as unprepared as some government officials have alleged.
One of the exercises, an emergency evacuation drill by the National Reconnaissance Office, involved a simulation of a plane crashing into a building. Robinowitz’s page about this exercise says:
This war game was not a “terrorism” exercise – but it did simulate a plane going off course (on the approach to nearby Dulles Airport) and crashing into the NRO’s headquarters, control center for US spy satellites. This war game was to test the emergency response procedures in the event of this type of accident, and included practice evacuation of the buildings. It is very damning that the war game planners (of all of the war games, not merely this one) ensured that the NRO’s headquarters was largely evacuated at precisely the time that 9/11 was taking place, which minimized the number of officials who were able to monitor the events via the Pentagon’s satellite intelligence systems.
Elsewhere, on Robinowitz’s main page about the war games, he quotes 9/11 War Games – No Coincidence by Michael Kane, including the following, about the NRO’s plane-into-building exercise, involving an emergency evacuation drill:
The NRO is, effectively, the “eyes of the world”. With the majority of American spy satellites at its fingertips, it can reasonably be assumed that NRO headquarters was an indispensable resource to NORAD and the Air Force from 8:28 when Flight 77 made its unplanned 180-degree turn over Pennsylvania, until 9:38 when it is said to have struck the Pentagon. The NRO claims as soon as the real world events “began to unfold” the drill was called off and all but the most essential personnel were sent home. (UPI, Aug 22, 2002)
Read that last sentence again.
Why was the NRO sending home personnel during what was likely the biggest military crisis on American soil in recent history? Who were the “most essential” personnel and what did those individuals do as events unfolded?
The citation is from UPI. Has anyone confirmed, from any other news source, that “all but the most essential personnel were sent home”? If accurate, it is indeed exceedingly strange. But how suspicious this it would depend on just how few people were considered “essential.” So, some further investigation is needed before this is hailed as damning evidence.
Robinowitz’s page about the war games is, unfortunately, not very well-organized, so I’ll give some of the highlights below. He starts by recommending Michael Ruppert’s book Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, as “the most indepth analysis of the 9/11 war games.” Robinowitz then points us to a summary of the main points of Rupport’s book, Crossing the Rubicon: Simplifying the case against Dick Cheney by Michael Kane.
Robinowitz also refers us to the Military exercises up to 9/11 in the “Complete 9/11 timeline” on the Cooperative Research site. Robinowitz calls this page “Required reading for everyone concerned about the ‘failure’ of the Air Force to stop the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon.”
He also refers us to The Fog of War Games on Margie Burns’s blog. This page lists a bunch of war games known to have taken place on 9/11, with documentation.
Further down on his page about the war games, Robinowitz too has a table listing specific war games, with primary source documentation for most of them, and briefly explains how some of them interfered with the FAA’s and/or NORAD’s responses on 9/11.
After that is a brief mention of NORAD’s changing timelines, which suggest a coverup of some kind (though they do not, in and of themselves, indicate what sort of thing is being covered up).
He then quotes The Riddle of the Transponders on the blog “Rigorous Intuition” by Jeff Wells:
What was the value-added benefit for the 9/11 hijackers in turning off their transponder signals?
The planes remained visible to radar; the transponders merely ID’d the flights. And yet the transponders of all four flights were switched off. What was gained?
I think the answer is found in the proliferation of wargames on September 11, particularly the exercise called “Vigilant Guardian”: the live-fly simulation of hijackings in the US Northeast staged by the Joint Chiefs and NORAD the very morning of the attacks. (Health advisory to coincidentalists: chew carefully before digesting.)
At one time on 9/11, as many as 22 aircraft appeared to be hijacked. Suddenly, the virtue, now verging on necessity, of switching off the transponders becomes evident. With loss of transponder signals the planes became bogies, and discriminating real from simulated hijackings became next to impossible.
This confusion compounded the paralysis already introduced to the system by drawing most of the Eastern seaboard’s combat-ready interceptors into Northern Canada for the wargame “Northern Vigilence,” and changing the standing orders for a shootdown in June 2001 by removing the discretion of field commanders and placing it solely in the hands of the Secretary of Defense.
Robinowitz also quotes the page Tripod II and FEMA: Lack of NORAD Response on 9/11 Explained by Michael C. Ruppert.
He also quotes 9/11 War Games – No Coincidence by Michael Kane:
Officials at NORAD have stated when the hijackings first occurred they initially thought it was part of the Vigilant Guardian drills running that morning. Despite some confusion, once Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center at 8:45 am, everyone should have known it was not a test. However, this is still an assumption because we do not know what the fighter jocks in the air at the time did and did not know, we do not know the full extent of the orders they received and it has yet to be explained why scrambled fighter jets were unable to intercept even one of the 4 hijacked airliners.Scrambling Fighter Jets
Standard operating procedure of both FAA & NORAD dictates that once an aircraft is off course and/or its transponder is not responding, within 10 minutes Air Force jets are scrambled to re-establish physical contact with the wayward plane.
Scrambling Air Force interceptors does not mean shooting down any aircraft. It simply means that an Air Force jet is dispatched to fly next to the off course aircraft, attempt to communicate with the its pilots, look inside the cockpit, see who is in control of the plane and report back to flight control what is actually happening. In the year prior to 9/11 this automatic procedure was triggered a total of 67 times (AP, 8/13/02). On the morning of 9/11, it was not successfully applied even once in the well over an hour-long period in which the four separate hijackings occurred. Why?
The most egregious case is that of Flight 77, reported to have struck the Pentagon. At 8:50 am there was a loss of contact with this plane that was now well off course and hurtling toward the nation’s capital, but it was not until 9:24 am that fighter jets were scrambled. That’s 34 minutes after flight control lost contact with the plane and well after 2 hijacked aircraft had already crashed into both World Trade Center towers.
Fighter Planes were dispatched extremely late to the World Trade Center as well, and only made it there after Flight 175 had crashed into WTC 2, too late to be effective. Those planes were then sent back to base, instead of being sent in pursuit of an aircraft, which by that time was widely known to have been well off course. Why?
Did war games conducted by the Air Force, NORAD, NRO and others on 9/11 unintentionally cause this unprecedented ‘confusion’, or does all of this point to more disturbing conclusions about what happened that tragic morning?
As mentioned earlier, the war games could account only for confusion that occurred before the war games were called off. They could not account for why Flight 77 was allowed to hit the Pentagon. The 9/11 Commission Report claims that, at that point, there was confusion caused by a “Phantom Flight 11.” Assuming this is true (which has been questioned by David Ray Griffin, among others), where could “Phantom Flight 11” possibly have come from? On his page about the warnings Robinowitz links to THE FAA KNEW! But were they set up? by Michael Kane, containing the following hypothesis as to how “Phantom Flight 11” might have been generated:
The real issue with the FAA on 9/11 is Ptech.
Ptech (now Go Agile) was the company that supplied the enterprise architecture software for most of the federal government and its military agencies. This included the Whitehouse, Secret Service, Air Force and FAA. This software is able to analyze the critical data throughout an enterprise in real-time. For federal aviation, the most critical data of all lies on FAA radar screens.
Ptech was owned and funded by Saudi terror financiers with reported links to the Bush administration. But it was the Clinton administration that granted Ptech high military security clearance in 1996, when they began receiving contracts throughout the entire federal government.
Why wasn’t Ptech ever mentioned in the 9/11 Commission report? Why is the FAA being blamed for 9/11 without any mention of the appalling fact that Ptech was in the FAA for (at least) 2 years with access to their entire data blueprint and all FAA databases?
Ptech’s software is powerful enough to have allowed intentional, specific manipulation of real-time information on FAA radar screens. Remember, on 9/11 the Air Force was in the middle of simulated war games that involved false blips, referred to as “radar injects,” on FAA screens (see Crossing the Rubicon for full documentation). Add into this equation the very real possibility of such an inject remaining on FAA screens after the war games were called off – which seems to be exactly what happened.
Ptech had access to the entire informational barn door of the FAA’s data systems. In an amazing exchange published in part 1 of this series, FTW editor Jamey Hecht was able to confirm a central thesis of Crossing the Rubicon while interviewing Wall Street whistleblower Indira Singh. Ms. Singh is an IT professional who started First Boston’s first Information Technology group in 1975 and had worked on Wall Street until 2002. She’s been an IT consultant for Banker’s Trust, the U.N., JP Morgan, and American Express. In 1988 she started TibetNet – a derivative of DARPA’s Internet, the service on which you are likely reading this report at the moment. The exchange was as follows:
Jamey Hecht: You said at the 9/11 Citizens’ Commission hearings, you mentioned – its on page 139 of transcript – that Ptech was with Mitre Corporation in the basement of the FAA for 2 years prior to 9/11 and their specific job was to look at interoperability issues the FAA had with NORAD and the Air Force, in case of an emergency.
Indira Singh: Yes, I have a good diagram for that…
Jamey Hecht: And that relationship had been going on mediated by Ptech for 2 years prior to 9/11. You elsewhere say that the Secret Service is among the government entities that had a contract with Ptech. Mike Ruppert’s thesis in Crossing the Rubicon, as you know, is that the software that was running information between FAA & NORAD was superseded by a parallel subsuming version of itself that was being run by the Secret Service on state of the art parallel equipment in the PEOC with a nucleus of Secret Service personnel around Cheney.
…In your view, might it have been the case that Cheney was using Ptech to surveil the function of the people who wanted to do their jobs on the day of 9/11 in FAA & NORAD, and then intervene to turn off the legitimate response?
Indira Singh: Is it possible from a software standpoint? Absolutely it’s possible. Did he (Cheney) have such a capability? I don’t know. But that’s the ideal risk scenario – to have an over-arching view of what’s going on in data. That’s exactly what I wanted for JP Morgan.
…for more info on Ptech, the FAA & 9/11
A more complete story about Indira Singh, also by Michael Kane, can be found here.
Of course, we have no hard evidence that the Ptech system was in fact used in the way these stories suggest. The above is only speculation. If the description of Ptech is accurate, then the above speculation establishes only that Dick Cheney had the means to disrupt the FAA’s response on 9/11. Establishing possible means is indeed a valid and vital step in building a good criminal case, although more is necessary, of course.
Anyhow, it is widely recognized that there was a lot of confusion on the part of the FAA on 9/11. For example, on, of all places, a “9/11 conspiracy debunking” website, I found this list of “some of the known false alarms” that occurred on 9/11.
Why was there so much confusion, after the war games had been called off? Such confusion can’t possibly be normal, or else air traffic controllers would never have been able to do their jobs very well, and plane crashes would be commonplace. So, something unusual had to have caused the huge amount of confusion on 9/11. But what?
A truly independent investigation with subpoena power would be needed in order to resolve this issue.