New York City activist

March 7, 2008

Air defense failures, war games, etc.

Filed under: 9/11,9/11 Truth,FAA,NORAD,stand down,war games — Diane @ 11:08 pm

In a comment in reply to my post Hiding the planting of incendiaries, explosives, or whatever? Response to a common a priori objection, “realitydesign” wrote:

“Can you tell me one significant claim that the truth movement gets demonstrably correct?”

Comment by ref1 — February 14, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

One thing that stands out is the 4 verified WAR GAMES on 9/11 facilitating the ensuing documented confusion in terms of (not) responding adequately.

Indeed there certainly were war games (military exercises) on 9/11.

However, there has been some debate about what the war games imply.

The war games, and what they do and do not imply

For example, some people have debated the net effect of the war games on air defense performance. Did the war games primarily cause confusion (hampering response) or did they primarily help the military be better prepared (thereby enhancing response, albeit in the face of other, truly crippling sources of confusion)? That’s a difficult question for a civilian like me to answer definitively.

What we do know is that there were war games, not only on 9/11/2001 itself but also shortly before 9/11/2001, which simulated various aspects of the 9/11 attacks themselves.

This proves that the “failure of imagination” excuse was a lie. The military had not only “imagined” that hijackers might fly planes into buildings, but had specifically trained for that possibility.

More lying excuses about the air defense failures

There have been other official lies too about the air defense performance. For example, the 9/11 Commission Report claims that the FAA didn’t notify NORAD soon enough, but this contradicts earlier timelines from NORAD as well as from the FAA. The commissioners themselves accused the military of lying. But the 9/11 Commission Report gets the military totally off the hook. So, if indeed the military had lied earlier, why would the military lie to cover the FAA’s ass, at the expense of making themselves look worse than they really were? For that reason, as David Ray Griffin has pointed out, it seems easier to believe that the 9/11 Commission Report is lying, rather than that NORAD lied earlier.

Another excuse is the Popular Mechanics claim that intercepts were rare, and that, between 1991 and 2001, there was only one intercept outside of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this seems to be contradicted by a 1994 United States General Accounting Office report on continental air defense, which said the following about intercepts back in the early 1990’s:

Overall, during the past 4 years, NORAD’s alert fighters took off to intercept aircraft (referred to as scrambled) 1,518 times, or an average of 15 times per site per year. Of these incidents, the number of suspected drug smuggling aircraft averaged one per site, or less than 7 percent of all of the alert sites’ total activity. The remaining activity generally involved visually inspecting unidentified aircraft and assisting aircraft in distress.

“Assisting aircraft in distress” does not sound like the sort of activity that would have been confined to an ADIZ. I’d love to know how one could design an aircraft so that it’s never “in distress” except when inside an ADIZ.

(Thanks to John Doraemi for calling my attention to the GAO report.)

Yet another excuse is that there were no scramble-ready fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, the base nearest to Washington, D.C. If true, this raises more questions than it answers. Why on Earth were there no scramble-ready fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, of all places? And who on Earth made that decision? One would think that Washington, D.C. would be the single most important place to defend, hence the single most important place to have scramble-ready fighter planes at all times.

Previous posts of mine on this topic

Previously, I’ve explored these matters in the following posts (listed in forward chronological order, oldest first):

However, there’s one vitally important piece of research that has not yet been done by anyone, as far as I am aware:

A vitally needed research project – anyone interested?

To prove that the air defense performance was indeed below par on 9/11/2001, we need to establish a baseline for expected performance of the air defense system. To that end, 9/11 Truth activists have relied on common-sense arguments about the need to intercept “aircraft in distress” quickly and how this would need to have been a routine procedure. What has not yet been done, as far as I am aware, is to gather data on how the air defense system actually performed under normal circumstances.

We need someone to do the following research project: Track down all the available information about every “aircraft in distress” that was intercepted during the period of, say, three years from 9/11/199i to 9/11/2001. For each intercept, we would need need to know the following, in addition to obvious basic information such as the date on which the intercept took place:

  1. How long it took the military to intercept the plane, after notification from the FAA.
  2. How long it an FAA air controller to notify NORAD, after a problem was first noticed.
  3. Where the intercept took place. (We might expect intercepts to be faster near the coast than in the heartland, because there would probably be more scramble-ready fighter jets at bases near the coast. Also this information is needed in order to verify or falsify the claim by various “debunkers” that intercepts were rare outside of an ADIZ.)
  4. What kind of plane was intercepted. (Most would probably be private planes. But would a passenger jet be treated as more urgent?)
  5. Which base the fighter was scrambled from.

To find this information, I would suggest looking first at Government Accounting Office (GAO) reports. (This might require a trip to a library.) I would then suggest looking at the website of the National Transportation Safety Board for more information about each intercepted flight.

If anyone reading this decides to do the above research, or if it has already been done by someone, please let me know. It would be extremely valuable to the 9/11 Truth movement.

I might do this myself eventually, if no one else does, although it’s not at the top of my personal priority list at the moment.


  1. (This comment is an edited pingback.)

    Pingback by Tracking down data on intercepts « New York City activist — March 17, 2008 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

  2. To Patrick S. McNally:

    In this comment here, you wrote:

    If you read the report at

    which you’d referenced, you’ll note that the set of events which they list as 1518 incidents of scramble activity all fall within the range of 1989-92. That just barely puts it on the edge of the decade marker.

    It overlaps with the “decade” by at least one year and includes enough intercepts to make the claim of “only one intercept outside an ADIZ” very unlikely.

    I have never claimed that the GAO report was sufficient to prove the point that intercepts were routine in 2001. It proves only that the case against this has been overstated, e.g. by Popular Mechanics.

    As I’ve said, as far as I’m aware, no one has yet done the research needed to determine, one way or the other, whether intercepts were in fact routine in 2001 and could reasonably have been expected to be timely enough to have made a difference on 9/11/2001.

    I’m also aware, and have mentioned in at least one previous post, that the GAO report is in the context of a recommended budget reduction.

    By the way, I wish you had posted your comment here, in this thread, rather than in the other thread. Please re-read my comment policy.

    Comment by Diane — April 16, 2008 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

  3. > I have never claimed that the GAO report was sufficient to prove the point that intercepts were routine in 2001. It proves only that the case against this has been overstated, e.g. by Popular Mechanics.

    Oh that’s fair enough. It’s easier for me to agree that POPULAR MECHANICS has some overstatements which distort several points than it is for me to say that the would-be Truth Movement has assembled a coherent case. In the same way it’s much easier to accept criticisms of the 911 COMMISSION REPORT than it is to assert that I would reach a guilty verdict if serving in a jury where 911-activists acted as the prosecution. Criticism in all directions is at present much easier to formulate than any coherent alternate thesis.

    Comment by patricksmcnally — April 17, 2008 @ 12:46 am | Reply

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