New York City activist

March 17, 2008

Tracking down data on intercepts

Filed under: 9/11,9/11 Truth,FAA,NORAD,stand down — Diane @ 11:22 pm

Justin A. Martell has called attention to a 911blogger post by Aidan Monaghan, Debunking Popular Mechanics?: PM Book Alleges FAA Source For Statistical Data; FAA Concedes No Such Data Records Exist.

Aidan Monaghan says:

Beginning on page 22 of a Popular Mechanics 2006 book entitled Debunking 9/11 Myths, containing a forward comment by Republican presidential candidate John McCain, an attempt is made to clarify the role played by potential military aircraft intercepts during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Citing unnamed sources, part of this section reads as follows:

When contacted by Popular Mechanics, spokesmen for NORAD and the FAA clarified their remarks by noting that scrambles were routine, but intercepts were not – especially over the continental United States.

However, according to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Freedom of Information Act response dated March 3, 2008, the FAA concedes that records for the information alleged in part by Popular Mechanics’ unnamed FAA source, do not exist.

This is followed by a scanned copy of the letter Aidan Monaghan got from the FAA in response to his FOIA request.

Actually, the letter didn’t say that the records don’t exist at all, just that the FAA doesn’t keep such records. It recommended contacting the Department of Defense.

I think this is important information which some of us ought to try to obtain. As I explained in my earlier post Air defense failures, war games, etc., I would try, first, looking at Government Accounting Office reports. To that end, FOIA request might not even be necessary. (I suspect that a trip to a good library, with access to a good subscription-only database like LexisNexis, might be adequate.) I would then try looking at the National Transportation Safety Board website for more details about intercepts of particular “aircraft in distress.”


  1. Here is my comment from Aidan Monaghan’s post on

    Here is the relevance of what you’ve discovered –

    In short, the FAA is claiming in response to your FOIA not to have the baseline for any serious analysis of the air defense reaction and scramble times. Of course they do have the data, or can go back to the incident reports and generate it (wonder what it shows)! The most important point perhaps to take from it is this: If they didn’t generate these data in response to 9/11, how can it be said there was ever a serious examination of air defense response on Sept. 11, when that can only be done in the context of how well or poorly the system worked in the past.

    Note the following point with regard to scramble orders from Appendix A1 of the 2004 Citizen’s Complaint and Petition to the New York State Attorney General for an Independent Grand Jury Investigation of 9/11:

    2. These standard procedures were activated on 67 occasions in the period from September 2000 to June 2001 (see, FAA news release, 8/9/02; AP, 8/13/02); and in 129 cases in the year 2000 (see, Calgary Herald, 10/13/01). These figures were released by FAA and NORAD officials to the press in 2002, but go completely unmentioned in The 9/11 Commission Report. The report does not indicate whether the Kean Commission requested comprehensive performance data on these prior interception orders from the military, or whether the military provided any such information. An analysis to determine the typical circumstances and response times for interception orders prior to 9/11 would require, in each case for which orders were issued, data on the times it took for air traffic control to determine that a flight was errant; for the FAA to alert NORAD; for NORAD to issue a scramble order and for the scrambled jet(s) to take to the air; and, subsequently, for the interception itself; as well as the location of the errant flight, and information on whether it was still broadcasting transponder data. (Transponder broadcasts from planes under IFR locate the craft and specify its altitude. When these are interrupted, craft can still be located by “skin paint” on primary radar, albeit without altitude data.) Also necessary would be data on cases of errant planes or unknowns in which no scramble orders were issued. Of special interest would be the prior performance within NORAD’s Northeastern Air Defense Sector (“NEADS”), which is headquartered at Rome, New York. Such a cumulative analysis–with special attention to cases when passenger planes deviated from course in the air-traffic control zones within which the 9/11 attacks occurred–would provide indispensable context for serious research into the subject of air defense response on September 11. This data is currently unavailable to the public, and there is no indication such an analysis was undertaken by the Kean Commission.

    (link for more…)

    [Comment by Jack Riddler, edited by blog author Diane to HTML-ize and prettify link, and to add a line at the top as requested by Jack Riddler.]

    Comment by jackriddler — March 19, 2008 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  2. Damn, wish I could edit the above so that the first line reads, “Here is my comment from Aidan Monaghan’s post on” Maybe Diane will help!

    Comment by jackriddler — March 19, 2008 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  3. Here is a great timeline of the ludicrosity of that day- esp in terms of the null response, exact timetables. Some info on scrambles as well.

    Comment by realitydesign — April 17, 2008 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

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