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National Commission on September 11 Terrorist Attacks Testimony

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    Message 1 of 1 , May 30, 2003
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      (Transcribed for research purposes.)

      911 Commission Testimony
      National Commission on September 11 Terrorist Attacks

      Remarks of NORAD Personnel: Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley, Maj. Gen. Larry
      Arnold, Col. Alan Scott
      May 23, 2003

      NORAD Timeline presented by Col. Scott (ret.)
      Col. Alan Scott
      Good morning Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. It is my pleasure to be
      here with you today. General Arnold and I worked together that day
      on September 11th. What I will walk you through here is a chronology
      of the attacks and I presented it in a matrix form. And the only
      thing I lay claim to is having studied all of the attacks and how
      they were interwoven together. This was not a linear sequence of
      events where one attack began and ended and then a second attack
      began and ended. This was a coordinated, well-planned attack. We
      had multiple airplanes in the air. The fog and friction of war was
      evident everywhere in the country both on the civil side as well as
      the military side.
      And this hopefully will show you how those interwoven events came
      about. I will tell you that the times on this chart come from our
      logs. The time on the chart is the time that's in the log. It may
      not be the exact time the event happened. It may be the time when
      the log keeper was advised or became aware of the event.

      The first thing that happened in the morning, related to, related to
      the events at 9:02, or I'm sorry, 8:02 A.M., EST, is when American
      Airlines 11 took off out of Boston. American Airlines 11 was a 767
      and it was headed, I believe, to Los Angeles

      Fourteen minutes later, also coming out of Boston Logan, United
      Airlines 175, a 757, also headed to Los Angeles, took off out of
      Boston and initially took roughly the same ground track as American
      11. Three minutes later American Airlines 77 took off out of Dulles
      here in Washington, also headed to Los Angeles and also a 757 and
      proceeded westbound towards the West Coast. So now the first three
      airplanes are airborne together.

      The first time that anything untoward and this was gleaned from FAA
      response and anything out of the ordinary happened was at 8:20 when
      the electronic transponder in American Airlines 11 blinked off, if
      you will, just disappeared from the screen. Obviously, the terrorists
      turned that transponder off and that airplane, although it did not
      disappear from the radar scope, it became a much, much more difficult
      target to discern for the controllers who now only could look at the
      primary radar return off the airplane.
      That was at 8:20. At 8:40, in our logs is the first occasion where
      the FAA is reporting a possible hijacking of American Airlines Flight
      11. And the initial response to us at that time was a possible
      hijacking; it had not been confirmed.

      At that same moment, the F-15 alert aircraft at Otis Air Force Base,
      Massachusetts, about 153 miles away were placed immediately on battle
      stations by the Northeast Air Defense Sector Commander.

      At 8:43, as this is going on, the fourth airplane, United 93 takes
      off out of Newark, New Jersey. It's a 757; it is headed for San

      At 8:46, our next log event, we get the last and by the way, much of
      this radar data for these primary targets was not seen that day. It
      was reconstructed days later by the 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron
      and other agencies like it who are professionals at going back and
      looking at radar tapes and then given that they are loaded with
      knowledge after the fact, they can go and find things that perhaps
      were not visible during the event itself.

      At 8:46, the last data, near the Trade Center. 8:46, the first
      impact on the Trade Center.
      At that minute is when the Otis F-15s were scrambled and, again, they
      are 153 miles away. And that scramble came and Gen. Arnold, I'm sure
      can address this, based on the conversation between the Northeast
      Sector Commander and himself.

      Those F-15s were airborne in six minutes. That is well inside the
      time that is allowed for them to get airborne. But because they were
      on battle stations, the pilots were in the cockpits ready to start
      engines, that scramble time was shortened by a significant amount of

      At 8:53, that's a minute later, in the radar reconstruction, we are
      now picking up primary radar contacts off of the F-15s out of Otis.

      At 8:57, which is seven minutes after the first impact is according
      to our logs when the FAA reports the first impact. And about this
      time is when CNN coverage to the general public is beginning to
      appear on the TV, not of the impact, but of the burning tower shortly
      thereafter. So, you can see what in the military, I'm sure you have
      heard us talk to the fog and friction of war. And as the intensity
      increases, the lag tends to also increase for how quickly information
      gets passed.

      At 9:02, United 175, the second airplane, which by the way, never
      turned off its transponder before impact, crashes into the North
      Tower, at 9:02. The distance of those fighters which had been
      scrambled out of Otis, at that particular point they were still 71
      miles away, about 8 minutes out and going very fast.

      At 9:05, FAA reports a possible hijack of United 175. Again that's 3
      minutes after the impact in the Tower. It's how long it is taking
      now for the information to flow through the system to the command and
      control agencies and through the command and control agencies to the
      pilots in the cockpits.

      At 9:09, Langley F-16s are directed to battle stations just based on
      the general situation, and the breaking news and the general
      developing feeling about what's going on. And about that same time,
      kind of way out in the west is when American 77, which in the
      meantime has turned off its transponder and turned left back toward
      Washington, appears back in radar coverage. And my understanding is
      the FAA controllers now are beginning to pick up primary skin paints
      on that airplane and they don't know exactly whether that is 77 and
      they are asking a lot of people whether it is, including a C130
      that's westbound toward Ohio.

      At 9:11, the FAA reports a crash into the South Tower. You can see
      now that lag time has increased from 7 minutes from impact to report,
      and now it's 9 minutes from impact to report and you can only imagine
      what's going on on the floors of the control centers around the

      At 9:11, I just mentioned that, 9:16, now FAA reports a possible
      hijack of United Flight 93, which is out in the Ohio area. That's
      the last flight that is going to impact the ground.

      At 9:24, the FAA reports a possible hijack of 77. That's some time
      after they had been tracking its primary target. And at that moment
      as well is when the Langley F-16s were scrambled out of Langley.

      At 9:25, American 77 is reported heading toward Washington, D.C., not
      exactly precise information, just general information, across the
      chat log.

      9:27, Boston FAA reports a fifth aircraft missing, Delta Flight 89.
      And you people have never heard of Delta Flight 89. We call that the
      first red herring of the day because there are a number of reported
      possible hijackings that unfolded over the hours immediately
      following the actual attack. Delta 89 was not hijacked. It enters
      the system. It increases the fog and friction, if you will, as we
      begin to look for that. But he lands about 7 or 8 minutes later and
      clears out of the system.

      At 9:30, that Langley F-16s are airborne. They are 105 miles away
      from the Washington area.

      At 9:34, through chat, FAA is unable to precisely locate American
      Airlines Flight 77.

      At 9:35, F-16s are reported airborne. And many times, reported
      airborne is not exactly when they took off, it's just when the report
      came down that they were airborne.

      At 9:37, we have the last radar data near the Pentagon and 9:40,
      immediately following that, is when 93 up North turns it transponder
      off, out in the West toward Ohio and begins a left turn back toward
      the East.

      At 9:49, FAA reports that Delta 89, which had been reported as
      missing, is now reported as a possible hijacking so again, he is....
      I'm sorry 9:41. Again he is in the system. He is kind of a red
      herring for us.

      Now the only thing that I would point out on this chart is that this
      says 9:43, American Airlines 77 impacts the Pentagon. The timeline
      on the impact on the Pentagon was changed to 9:37. 9:43 is the time
      it was reported that day. It was the time we used. And it took
      about two weeks to discover in the parking lot of the Pentagon this
      entry camera for the parking lot, which happened to be oriented
      toward the Pentagon at the time of impact. And the recorded time is
      9:37. And that's why the timeline went from 9:43 to 9:37 because it
      is the best documented evidence for the impact time that we have.

      Getting toward the end now, 9:47 is when Delta 89 clears the system
      by landing in Cleveland. So he is not a hijack. Lots of things are
      going on now in the system as the Sectors begin to call both units
      that are part of First Airforce and NORAD as well as units that have
      nothing to do with us. We are beginning to call everyone now and the
      103rd Air Control Squadron, for instance, stationed in Connecticut is
      an Air Control Squadron, a radar squadron, and they got their radar
      online operational and begin to link their radar picture into the
      Northeast system. They are not normally part of NORAD. This is
      really the initial part of a huge push the rest of that day to link
      as many radars in on the interior as we can, and to get as many
      fighters on alert as we can.

      At 10:02, United 93, last radar data and the estimated impact time
      for United 93 is 10:03.

      At 10:07, FAA reports that there may be a bomb on board 93. That's
      four minutes after the impact.

      At 10:15, they report that it's crashed and you can see now the fog
      and friction lag time has increased from 7 minutes to 9 minutes to 15
      minutes because of the level of activities that are going on.

      And there are notations here about other airplanes as we begin to
      divert other airplanes that are just out intended for training that
      day. We're picking up the phone, calling Syracuse the Air National
      Guard. They are beginning to get flights airborne. They are
      beginning to arm those aircraft with whatever weapons they have handy
      so we can posture that defense.

      That is how the timeline unfolded. As you can see, there is a fabric
      of interwoven actions, which is not just a linear event. So lots of
      things going on, lots of activities, lots of CQ centers. Sir, that
      concludes my piece

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Mr. Chairman, we thought, right up front, we'd put that on the record
      so that we could have that as a departure point for your questions.
      I again caveat by saying that this is the North American Aerospace
      Defense Command and Continental NORAD Region timeline. Other
      agencies may have other logs that may have different times. But this
      is the best and most accurate data that we could piece together for
      your Commissioner, sir. With that, I open up to questions.

      Thomas Kean, Chair
      Thank you very much. Commissioner Ben-Veniste

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Good morning Gentlemen. First I would like to personally commend
      each of you and the dedicated men and woman who serve our nation
      through NORAD. I'd like to explain to you what you probably know
      already and that is that our mandate as the Commission is to provide
      the most detailed and accurate exposition in our final report of what
      occurred leading up to the 9/11 tragedy and the events subsequent
      thereto. And so, please understand that our questions may be very
      pointed. We mean no disrespect but we have our mission, as well.
      Now, Gen. McKinley, is it fair to say that the mission and the
      primary responsibility of NORAD is to defend our homeland and our
      citizens against air attack?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      On the day of September 11, 2001, our mission was to defend North
      America, to surveil, to intercept, to identify and if necessary to
      destroy those targets, which we were posturing were going to come
      from outside our country. In fact, that tracks originating over the
      landmass of the United States were identified friendly by origin.
      Therefore, those alert sites that were positioned on the morning of
      September 11th, were looking out, primarily on our coasts at the Air
      Defense Identification Zone which extends outwards of 100 to 200
      miles off our shore. So that was the main focus of NORAD at the time.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      I asked you about your responsibility, Sir. And I ask you again
      whether it was not your responsibility as NORAD to protect the United
      States and its citizens against air attack?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      It is and it was and I would just caveat your comment by saying that
      our mission was, at that time, not designed to take internal FAA
      radar data, to track or to identify tracks originating within our
      borders. It was to look outward as a Cold War vestige, primarily
      developed during the Cold War to protect against Soviet long-range
      bomber penetration of our intercept zone.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Well I think Sir, you have used a good term – not good for the United
      States but accurate, in terms of the vestigial mandate operationally
      to look outward toward the borders rather than inward. And by
      vestigial, you mean I'm sure, as a result of our decades of
      confrontation with the former Soviet Union.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Correct, Sir.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      And so, on the day of September 11th, if you can see these dots, I
      know it may be difficult to see, NORAD was positioned in a perimeter
      around the United States but nothing in the central region, nothing
      on the border with Canada.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      That's correct, Sir.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Now let me ask you sir, whether the concept of terrorists using an
      airplane as a weapon was something unknown to the intelligence
      community on September 10th, 2001?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Very good question...

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Thank you.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      And I asked our staff to provide me some data on what they had that
      morning. As I said, Gen. Arnold was at the helm that morning. But
      basically, the comments I received from my staff was that there was
      no intelligence indication at any level within NORAD or DOD of a
      terrorist threat to commercial aviation prior to the attacks. And
      information from the daily Joint Chiefs Intelligence Report on the
      morning of September 11th indicated no specific dangers or threats
      within the country.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      My question Sir, and I mean no disrespect but we will save time if
      you'll listen to what ask you. My question is: the concept of
      terrorists using airplanes as weapons was not something which was
      unknown to the U.S. Intelligence community on September 10th, 2001.
      Isn't that fair to say?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      I would like the Intelligence community to address that. I would
      find it hard to believe that they hadn't speculated against that.
      But it was unavailable to us at the time.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Well, let's start for example with September 12th, 1994. A Cessna
      150L crashed into the south lawn of the White House barely missing
      the building and killing the pilot. Similarly, in December of 1994,
      an Algerian armed Islamic group in Paris hijacked an Air France
      flight in Algiers and threatened to crash it into the Eiffel Tower.
      In October of 1996, the Intelligence community obtained information
      regarding an Iranian plot to hijack a Japanese plane over Israel and
      crash it into Tel Aviv. In August of 1998, the Intelligence
      community obtained information that a group of unidentified Arabs
      planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into
      the World Trade Center. The information was passed on to the FBI and
      the FAA. In September of 1998, the Intelligence community obtained
      information that Osama bin Laden's next operation could possibly
      involve flying an aircraft loaded with explosives into a U.S. airport
      and detonating it. In August 2001, the Intelligence Community
      obtained information regarding a plot to either bomb the U.S. Embassy
      in Nairobi from an airplane or crash an airplane into it. In
      addition, in the Atlanta Olympics, the United States government and
      the Dept. of Justice and my colleague Jamie Gorelick were involved in
      planning against possible terrorist attacks at the Olympics, which
      included the potential of an aircraft flying into the stadium. In
      July 2001, the G8 Summit in Genoa, attended by our President - among
      the measures that were taken, were positioning surface-to-air
      missiles, ringing Genoa, closing the Genoa airport and restricting
      all airspace over Genoa. Was not this information, Sir, available to
      NORAD as of September 11th, 2001?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      It's obvious, by your categorization that those events all took place
      and that NORAD had that information. I would only add, Sir, that the
      intelligence data that we postured our forces for and the training,
      and the tactics, and the procedures that we used to prepare our
      missions for support of the Combatant Commander of NORAD, had
      hijacking as a primary intercept tactic. And we have some of the
      finest fighter pilots as you know in the world who are some of the
      best people in the world, who can do their mission extremely well.
      But we had not postured, prior to September 11th, 2001, for the
      scenario that took place that day.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Well, obviously, it would be hard to imagine posturing for the exact
      scenario but isn't it a fact, Sir, that prior to September 11th,
      2001, NORAD had already in the works, plans to simulate in an
      exercise, a simultaneous hijacking of two planes in the United

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Col. Scott, do you have any data on that? I'm not aware of that,
      Sir. I was not present at the time.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      That was operation Amalgam Virgo.

      Col. Alan Scott
      Yes, Sir. Specifically, operation Amalgam Virgo, which I was
      involved in before I retired, was a scenario using a Third-World
      United, not United, uninhabited aerial vehicle launched off a rogue
      freighter in the Gulf of Mexico. General Arnold can back me up, at
      the time, one of our greatest concerns was the proliferation of
      cruise missile technology and the ability for terrorists groups to
      get that technology and get it close enough to our shores to launch
      it. In fact, this exercise, in this exercise we used actual drone,
      MQM 107 drones, which are about the size of a cruise missile to
      exercise our fighters and our radars in a Gulf of Mexico scenario.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      You are referring to Amalgam '01, are you not?

      Col. Alan Scott
      Yes, Sir.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      I'm referring to Amalgam '02, which was in the planning stages prior
      to September 11th, 2001, Sir. Is that correct?

      Col. Alan Scott
      That was after I retired and I was not involved in '02.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Will you accept that the exercise involved a simultaneous hijacking

      Col. Alan Scott
      I was not involved in '02.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Sir, I do have some information on '02, if you would allow me to read
      it for the record?

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Amalgam Virgo, in general, '02, was an exercise created to focus on
      peacetime and contingency NORAD missions. One of the peacetime
      scenarios that is and has been a NORAD mission for years is support
      to other government departments. Within this mission falls
      hijackings. Creativity of the designer aside, prior to 9/11, hijack
      motivations were based on political objectives, ie: asylum or release
      of captured prisoners or political figures. Threats of killing
      hostages or crashing were left to the scriptwriters to invoke
      creativity and broaden the required response for players.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Well, isn't that a bit fatuous given the specific information that
      I've given you? It wasn't in the minds of scriptwriters when the
      Algerians had actually hijacked a plane which they were attempting to
      fly into the Eiffel Tower and all the other scenarios which I've
      mentioned to you. I don't mean to argue with you but my question is,
      Sir, given the awareness of the terrorists' use of planes as weapons,
      how was it that NORAD was still focusing outward in protecting the
      United States against attacks from the Soviet Union or elsewhere and
      was not better prepared to defend against the hijackings scenarios of
      a commercial jet, laden with fuel, used as a weapon to target
      citizens of the United States? When you say, our training, our
      mission was vestigial, I think you said it in capsulated form but
      would you agree that on the basis of the information available, that
      there could have been better preparedness by NORAD to meet this

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      In retrospect, Sir, I think I would agree with your comment.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      With respect to the bases that were available for protecting the East
      Coast, and Col. Scott has gone through the scrambling of aircraft, I
      want to focus just on one flight, Flight 77, and then, Secretary
      Lehman will ask you some more specific questions. With respect to
      Flight 77, Sir, you testified previously before the House Armed
      Services Committee and you were – I'm sorry, General Eberhart was
      questioned. You are familiar with his testimony, Sir?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Yes Sir.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Okay. He was questioned about Flight 77 and because of the use of
      Langley Airbase, which is 105 miles from our Capitol, as opposed to
      say Andrews Air Force Base, which is in the neighborhood, the
      question arises again about the positioning and the thought behind
      the positioning of fighter planes to protect our Capitol in an
      enhanced terrorist threat situation, such as existed on September
      10th, September 9th, 2002. Let me ask you about Flight 77 again.
      The question was, the timeline that we've been given is that at 8:55
      on September 11th, American Airlines Flight 77 began turning east,
      away from it's intended course and at 9:10, Flight 77 was detected by
      the FAA radar over West Virginia, heading east. That was after the
      two planes had already struck the Trade Center towers. Is that
      correct Col. Scott?

      Col. Alan Scott
      Yes Sir

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Now, 15 minutes later at 9:25, the FAA notified NORAD, according to
      the statement, that Flight 77 was headed toward Washington. (reading
      from the record)

      "Was that the first notification at 9:25 that NORAD or DOD had that
      Flight 77 was probably hijacked? And if it was, do you know why it
      took 15 minutes for the FAA to notify NORAD?"

      General Eberhart said, "Sir, there is one minor difference, I showed
      it as 9:24 which you do as well that we were notified and that's the
      first notification that we received."

      "Do you know if that was the first notification to DOD?"

      "Yes, Sir, that's the first documented notification that we received"

      And I want to focus on the word "documented" because it's very
      important for us to know when NORAD actually received notification
      given the fact that the planes had already crashed into the World
      Trade Center and given, I'm sure, the assumption that these were
      terrorist acts and there could be more coming, more planes coming.
      Is it, in fact correct Sir that the first notification of any type
      that NORAD received was not until 9:24 with respect to Flight 77?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      With your concurrence Sir, I would like to ask Gen. Arnold to address
      that. He was on the floor that morning.

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      The simple answer to your question is that I believe that to be the
      fact. That 9:24 was the first time that we had been advised of
      American 77 as a possible hijacked airplane. Our focus, you've got
      to remember, that there is a lot of other things going on
      simultaneous here, was on United 93, which was being pointed out to
      us very aggressively, I might say, by the FAA. Because our radar is
      looking outward and not inward, the only way for us to know where
      anything was for the FAA to pass along that information to us.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Is it not the case, Gen. Arnold, that there was an open line
      established between FAA, NORAD and other agencies, including CIA and
      FBI that morning?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      Well, I wasn't on that line at that particular time if that were the
      case. In fact, there was an open line established between our
      sectors at really the tactical level where they're controlling the
      aircraft, talking to the FAA controllers from time-to-time. We did
      not have an open line at that time with the FAA. That is not

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      You did not. You were not, NORAD was not in contact by...

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      The Continental United States NORAD region, my headquarters, we are
      responsible for the Continental United States air defense, did not
      have an open line with the FAA at that time.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Was there some NORAD office that had an open line with the FAA
      (crosstalk). Excuse me, let me finish my question, please. Was
      there some NORAD office, and you'll forgive us because we had asked
      for this information prior to the hearing from FAA and did not
      receive it. But we are advised that there was indeed an open line
      between either the net or some other name given to a essentially an
      ongoing conference, whereunder, in real-time, FAA was providing
      information as it received it, immediately after the first crash into
      the towers, we are told, with respect to each of the events that were
      ongoing of any remarkable nature. I see Gen. McKinley is nodding.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      I'd like to, if I may, address this based on my research and review
      for this Commission. It's my understanding that the FAA was in
      contact with our Northeast Air Defense sector at Rome, New York.
      Understanding the relationship of how we defend North America from
      threats, NORAD located in Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs,
      our Continental NORAD region, our Air Operations Center located at
      Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. That's where the Joint Force Air
      Component Commander resides. And then we have three sectors based on
      the size and volume of our country that handle that. It is my
      understanding from talking with both FAA and our supervisors at the
      Northeast Air Defense Sector in Rome that those lines were open and
      that they were discussing these issues.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      So, is it fair to say that, at least, the NORAD personnel in Rome,
      New York had information available to it in real-time - once it saw,
      and we were advised that this occurred at approximately 9:02, within
      22 minutes earlier, that Flight 77 first was observed deviating from
      its course – something which in the context of what was going on that
      day, would be quite interesting if not remarkable.

      Col. Alan Scott
      Sir, I think it is also important to understand that like the CONUS
      region, the FAA is also broken down into subordinate command and
      control centers, as well. I know that the Boston Center was talking
      directly to the Northeast Sector. I don't believe that Flight 77 was
      in Boston Center's airspace. They were in Cleveland...

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      I think the FAA can report accurately on this but I believe 77 was in
      Cleveland Center airspace when it developed the problem where they
      lost its radar image. And I believe, and the FAA can again testify
      better to this, they would take action based on losing that
      identification in Cleveland.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Well actually, I think, according to the information that we have,
      the first indication was not a loss of radar contact but rather a
      course deviation, with respect to Flight 77. Now, I don't mean to
      take up anymore time on this because we are going to want to follow-
      up on all this information in great detail. But, let me ask whether
      there is regularly made a tape recording of these open-line

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      Not to my knowledge

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Not to my knowledge

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Does FAA, to your knowledge, keep a recording of these crisis

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      I'm unaware but I would certainly direct that to them, please.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      To the best of your knowledge, you don't have anything further to
      shed light on when you first learned, you NORAD, first learned of
      Flight 77's probably hijack status, prior to 9:24 A.M.?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      I can provide that for the record. I do not have any further
      knowledge at this time.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      We would ask that you do so.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Yes Sir.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Thank you Mr. Chairman. I will have some other questions after.

      Thomas Kean, Chairman
      Secretary Lehman

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Thank you Generals. I would also like to echo my colleagues
      _expression of great admiration for you and your predecessor, your
      command and your pilots, even though they might require long runways
      to land. (Laughter)

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      We understand.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      One of the most serious responsibilities we have in addition to air
      security is identifying the real dysfunctions in our intelligence
      system that contributed to the tragedy. And we had prior, as you
      know, to your testimony Secretary Mineta, who indicated despite the
      fact of this long litany of events and intelligence reports of the
      growing probability that aircraft would be used as weapons. Nothing
      ever got to him and nothing apparently got to you. And I assume,
      General Arnold, nothing got to you. This would seem to be a pretty
      significant failure of our system because it exists to provide
      product precisely to you, the most important users tasked with
      defending us. So, I'd to ask, we'll provide you a copy of this which
      is from the Joint Inquiry Staff statement, if you could give us your
      studied assessment of what went wrong in the way you interact with,
      your command interacts with the intelligence community? And why the
      product did not get to you? These were pretty dramatic events,
      facts, and intelligence reports. It would be very helpful to us to
      have your assessment as a customer of the system, to what went so
      seriously wrong, that you were still only looking out.

      There is another, an issue that I would ask perhaps General Arnold to
      address, because there is a great deal of unease and distress, I
      think, understandably among many of the families, that somehow those
      aircraft could have been shot down if people had not made mistakes.
      And, I wonder if you would just take us through each flight, given
      the posture that NORAD was in at the time, which was national policy
      and not whatever based on erroneous intelligence perhaps. But given
      that posture, and given the times that NORAD was notified of the
      deviation from, suggesting the possibility of hijacking. Could the
      aircraft on alert, for instance, at Otis have intercepted? And then,
      if you could also take us through 77 and 93, as well, with the F-16s
      which. And if you would, tell us as you take us through what the
      armament was on the F-15s and on the F-16s that were scrambled
      against 77 and 93.

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      Thank you, Sir, and I'll try to do that to the best of my ability.
      And perhaps, Gen. McKinley has some data that he could shed light on
      because I have been retired a little while and don't have access to
      the staff for some of the very specifics on that. But I will try to
      do my best. As you know through previous testimony from Gen.
      Eberhart to Congress, we were in the middle of a NORAD exercise at
      that particular time. Which means, that basically our entire staff
      was focused on being able to do the air operations center mission,
      which was our job to do. We had just come out of a video
      teleconference with the NORAD staff and with our folks at that
      particular time when I was handed note that we had a possible
      hijacking in Boston Center. And it had come from the Northeast Air
      Defense Commander Col. Bob Meyer (phonetic) who is commander up there
      and he had requested that I call him immediately. And I was upstairs
      in our facility. I immediately went downstairs and picked up the
      phone, asking on the way to my staff, is this part of the exercise?
      Because quite honestly and frankly, we do do hijacking scenarios as
      we go through these exercises from time-to-time. But I realized that
      it was not – that this was real-life. And I also remember as I went
      downstairs before I even talked to him that it had been a long time
      since we had had a hijacking but the fact that we'd reviewed the
      procedures, what it is that we do for a hijacking, because we were in
      the middle of an exercise. So we were pretty well familiar with
      those procedures. And, of course, we have our own checklist that we

      As I picked up the phone, Bob told me that Boston Center had called a
      possible hijacking within the system. He had put the aircraft at
      Otis on battle stations and wanted permission to scramble them. I
      told him to go ahead and scramble the airplanes and we'd get
      permission later. The reason for that is that the procedure,
      hijacking is a law enforcement issue as is everything that takes off
      from within the United States. And only law enforcement can request
      assistance from the military, which they did, in this particular
      case. The route, if you follow the book, is that they go to the duty
      officer of the national military command center, who in turn makes an
      inquiry to NORAD for the availability of fighters, who then gets
      permission from someone representing the Sec. of Defense. Once
      that's approved, then we scramble aircraft. We didn't wait for
      that. We scrambled the aircraft, told them to get airborne and we
      would seek clearances later.

      I picked up the phone, called NORAD, whose battle staff was in place
      because of the exercise, talked to the deputy commander for
      operations. He said, I understand and we'll call Pentagon for those
      particular clearances. It was simultaneous almost with that decision
      that we'd made that I'm looking at the TV monitor of the news network
      and see the smoking hole in the north tower, of what turned out to be
      the north tower of the World Trade Center. Wondering, what is this?
      And like many of us involved in that, does it have anything to do
      with this particular incident? Which, we didn't think it did because
      we're talking Boston Center and we are not thinking of the immediate
      New York Metropolitan area.

      Shortly after that, of course, our airplanes became airborne after
      that. It just so happens that Col. Duffy, who was the pilot of that
      first F-15, had been involved in some conversation because as the
      telephone calls were made, he was aware that there was a hijacking in
      the system. And that was kind of interesting because he had
      concluded that that indeed might have been that airplane and self-
      elected to hit the afterburner and to speed up his way towards New
      York. Excuse me.

      It was then very shortly thereafter that we saw on television the
      second airplane, the United 175 crash into the south tower. And the
      first thing that I think most of us thought was this a re-run of the
      first event. But then it turned out to be the second event. We had
      no warning of that, whatsoever. There was, from my staff a call, in
      fact, that airplane was called hijacked or possibly hijacked later
      on, which in the, as General McKinley referred to as the fog and
      friction of war. It actually caused further confusion because we
      were not aware that which aircraft had actually crashed into the
      towers. We just knew that by now we had two airplanes that are
      crashed into the towers. We have two airplanes that are called
      hijacked. Again, we were still minutes away. I think the record
      said eight minutes away from New York City with F-15s that are moving
      very rapidly in that direction.

      Now, we have, before I get to 77 if it were, we get a call of United
      Flight 93.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Well, before you go to that, I just wanted to make clear, there was
      no possibility, given the lateness with which you were notified from
      FAA of a possible hijacking, that those airplanes in full
      afterburner, flying supersonic could have gotten there in time to
      intercept either of those two planes. Is that correct?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      That's correct. That's correct. The first aircraft, of course,
      American 11, crashed before our interceptors were airborne. We
      ordered the scramble almost simultaneously; our record shows the same
      minute. I'm not even sure which occurred first. But it was almost
      simultaneous that we ordered the scramble of the aircraft and the
      impact into the north tower had occurred. And so, by the time, even
      the pilot accelerating to 1.5 mach, moving pretty fast, was still
      eight minutes out by the time the second aircraft had crashed into
      the tower. And though, when the second aircraft crashed into the
      tower, by now, I think as Sec. Mineta said, "This becomes a
      pattern." Certainly, I'd like to tell you that I was absolutely
      certain at that time that we were under attack but I was not
      absolutely certain that we were under attack at that particular
      time. But we knew that this pattern had to be dealt with at that
      particular time. And then very shortly thereafter, we got a call on
      the United 93 flight being a possible hijacking. And that aircraft,
      as you, well, I don't know as you know, but it wandered around. That
      aircraft wandered around and flew up over the northern part of
      Pennsylvania and Ohio. Mixed in with this was a call about a Delta
      flight that was possibly hijacked. So, now our focus is we are under
      attack. What are we going to do in order to be in position to
      intercept another aircraft should it threaten someplace in the United
      States? And that place, of course, we would not know.

      In the Northeast, at this particular time, we had no other aircraft
      available. The aircraft out of Otis had taken off. We looked at
      aircraft that were returning from a Michigan, a Michigan Air National
      Guard aircraft, returning from the range. Because at one time, we
      thought either the Delta flight or the United 93 might pose a threat
      to Detroit. We tried to get airplanes airborne out of the Toledo Air
      National Guard, at that particular time. Can you get anything
      airborne? Because we had this United 93 and this Delta flight. We
      need to intercept it and see what is going on with those particular

      Syracuse, New York, its Air National Guard Unit, we inquired with
      them their ability to get airborne and ultimately they did, somewhat
      later, at that particular time. And so in the record, you see the
      time we were notified of the American flight 77 as being possibly
      hijacked. I can tell you that I did not know and I don't believe
      anybody in our NORAD system knew where that airplane was. We were
      advised that it was possibly hijacked. And we had launched, almost
      simultaneously with that, we launched the aircraft out of Langley to
      put them over top of Washington, D.C. – not in response to American
      Airlines 77 but really to put them in position in case United 93 were
      to head that way. They were the closest fighters that we had and we
      started vectoring them to move toward the Washington, D.C. area.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Did they also go into burner?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      No Sir.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Sir, they, based on their configuration traveled at .98 mach, roughly
      575 knots, 660 miles per hour about ten nautical miles per minute.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      If they had gone into burner, could they have gotten there in time to
      get 77?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      I think if those aircraft had gotten airborne immediately, if we were
      operating under something other than peacetime rules where they could
      have turned immediately for Washington, D.C., and gone into burner,
      it is physically possible that they could have gotten over
      Washington, D.C.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Why did they head out to sea first?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      Our standard, we have agreements with the FAA. And by the way, we
      are looking outward, this is an advantage to us. And so we have
      agreements for clearance. When we scramble an aircraft, there is a
      line that's picked up and the FAA and everyone is on that line and
      the aircraft take off and they have a predetermined departure route.
      And, of course, it's out over water because our mission, unlike law
      enforcement's mission is to protect things coming towards the United
      States. And I might even add in all of our terrorist scenarios that
      we run, the aircraft, if we were to intercept an aircraft, it is
      usually always from outside the United States coming towards us. So,
      our peacetime procedures are (garbled) to de-conflict with civil
      aviation so as to not have, endanger civil aviation in any particular

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Secretary Lehman, also if I may add, the complexity of the air
      traffic over the Northeast corridor is so complex that to just launch
      fighters, as you know Sir from your background, into that air traffic
      system can cause potential damage or mid-air collisions. So we rely
      on the FAA to de-conflict those corridors. And that is another
      reason why it vectored east originally.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      The armament on the F-15s and the F-16s was?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      The armament, as I recall and Gen. McKinley can correct me on that,
      we had full-up armament on all those aircraft with both radar and
      heat-seeking missiles, as well as guns.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      So to continue with 77, it's fair to say that if you had got a more
      timely notification from FAA and particularly with regard to where it
      was heading, that those F-16s launched from Langley could possibly
      have gotten there before they hit the Pentagon?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      It is certainly physically possible that they could have gotten into
      the area. And the speculation as to whether we could actually
      intercepted the aircraft by that time – because everything we were
      doing remember was being relayed from the FAA. We have no visibility
      on those aircraft, couldn't see, we had no radars, couldn't talk to
      our pilots. FAA did a marvelous job during that period of time in
      doing radio relays and assisting us in being able to.....

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Now, if 93 had not crashed, would it not have been possible for the F-
      16s to have intercepted 93? And do you think they would have?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      It was our intent to intercept United Flight 93. In fact, my own
      staff, we were orbiting now over Washington, D.C. by this time and I
      was personally anxious to see what 93 was going to do. And our
      intent was to intercept it. But we decided to stay over Washington,
      D.C. because there was not that urgency and, if there were other
      aircraft coming from another quadrant, another vector, we would have
      been pulled off station and we would not have been able to – there
      might have been an aircraft that popped up within the system closer
      that would have posed a larger threat to the Washington, D.C. area.
      So we elected to remain over D.C. until that aircraft was definitely
      coming towards us. And as you know, the brave men and women who took
      over that aircraft prevented us from making the awful decision which
      the young men that were flying those aircraft would have lived with
      for the rest of their lives if they had had to do that.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Now, in a short answer, why with the previous attempt of a light
      plane to hit the White House wasn't Andrews Air Force Base with F-16s
      and marine F-18s available part of the alert? And I understand, I'd
      also like to have you comment on what the role of the Secret Service
      was in scrambling those F-16s?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      Are you talking about..

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      the Andrews airplanes

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      the Andrews airplanes. It is my understanding that the Secret
      Service – obviously they worked with the 113th because the President,
      Air Force One, is located out at Andrews Air Force Base, so they had
      personal knowledge of those, of the people out there and the
      telephone number, and I cannot speculate whether they knew what we
      were doing or not. But in the urgency to get something done, they
      made a phone call to the 113th, I learned later. I did not know that
      at the time. And asked them to get anything they could airborne.
      And I think the quote was: "To protect the House."

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      And the 113th is the 113th Fighter Wing at Andrews, the District of
      Columbia Air National Guard F-16 Wing.

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      And not part of NORAD.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Now you said that the clear delineation was you were looking outward
      and to do anything inward, you had to get authorization from a law
      enforcement agency. And that is covered, as I understand it, by JCS
      Instruction 3610 on Aircraft Piracy. In that instruction, as I read
      it, which I believe is still in effect...

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      That's correct, Sir.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      You don't have any delegated authority to interdict. In fact, there
      is no mention of interdiction in that it's purely an escort
      function. This is still in effect. Now, presumably, you are not
      following it to the letter and I would like you to speak to what the
      chain of command is now. Who has authority to interdict, to shoot
      down and where is it delegated and are there published rules of
      engagement as to what criteria apply to make that decision?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Sir, I'd be happy to answer that. And I thank Gen. Arnold for his
      comments about the actual day. I appreciate him being here today.
      Quite frankly Sir, since September 11, 2001, the Dept. of Defense,
      United States Air Force has put a lot of resources into what we call
      Operation Noble Eagle. As President Bush said, it's the second front
      in the war on terrorism. And as I said in my opening remarks, we
      flown 30,000 sorties. In fact, overhead, today, here, our Noble
      Eagle pilots are flying, in addition, to being supplanted with ground-
      based air defense artillery. A lot of effort has gone into taking a
      look at the things that were not done right prior to, to prepare
      ourselves for the aftermath. And it is an honor for me to represent
      the men and women who do that. Quite frankly, our relationships
      began at 9/11 and the aftermath with Gen. Arnold and our staff to
      work with the Federal Aviation Administration, to bring in those
      radar facilities so that our controllers at our Northeast, Southeast,
      and Western Air Defense Sectors have visibility internally now. And
      that has been completed. In addition to seeing internally to the
      United States, we must be able to communicate to the pilots who fly
      our interceptor missions so that we can have clear lines of control
      back to our command element, Gen. Eberhart, in Colorado Springs.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Just to interrupt, on the radar visibility, are you dependent on the
      FAA radars which have very little capability in a non-transponder
      environment or can you, do you have the better air defense radar?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Sir, we try to put the best radars in effect for the mission. Most
      of those are FAA radars. Most of them are old radars but they've
      been maintained properly and we are actually putting Dept. of Defense
      people out to make sure those radars are calibrated for our
      missions. So, therefore, we are using their radars. We are using
      air control squadrons, both active duty, Guard, and Reserve to
      supplement those. We, in fact, use the United States Navy every
      chance we can because their Aegis cruisers are so capable that we
      link their pictures into our air combat command center at Tyndall.
      So we are doing the absolute best job with the resources we've been
      given to make sure that internal picture now is transparent to our
      air battle managers. So that military controllers when asked now
      can pinpoint immediately an aircraft in distress, that we can find
      the nearest suitable fighter location, which I can say is substantial
      today. In open testimony I'd not like to go into the details of the
      numbers of alert facilities but it goes up and down depending on the
      threat. But it is internal now to the United States, which it wasn't
      on the 11th of September. So this capacity, this Operation Noble
      Eagle which gives the military far more responsibility and latitude
      to do this mission now has allowed us to be far more capable. And we
      have been involved in every airline incident that we have been asked
      to perform with, with the Federal Aviation Administration, subsequent
      to 9/11, whether there be a disturbance on board, whether it be an
      aircraft emergency, whether it be to protect critical infrastructure
      or major population centers, we are there.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      To follow-up on that, General Arnold, did you have authority to shoot
      down 93 when it was heading towards Washington and where did you get

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      A lot of discussion on that. Our intent on United 93, the simple
      answer is to my knowledge, I did not have authority to shoot that
      aircraft down. We were informed after that airplane was already, had
      hit the ground. The simple answer.....

      Jamie Gorelick, Commissioner
      I'm sorry, could you say that again, you were informed of what after
      it hit the ground?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      We were informed of Presidential authority some five minutes after
      that aircraft had hit the ground, according to our records.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      So you were given it after the fact – Presidential authority to shoot
      it down.

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      To my knowledge. Now I can tell you that in our discussion, in our
      discussion with the NORAD staff at that particular time, that we, we
      intended to intercept that aircraft at some point in time and attempt
      to deviate that aircraft away from the Washington, D.C. area. There
      was discussion at that particular time whether or not that aircraft
      would be shot down. But we, I did not know of Presidential shoot-
      down authority until after that aircraft had crashed.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Uh-huh, and General McKinley can you take us to the present and where
      those authorities lie now.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Yes, Sir. Subsequent to 9/11, the President delegated to the
      Secretary of Defense, delegated to the Combatant Commander of NORAD
      and now United States Northern Command has the authority to declare a
      hostile target. Our fighter interceptors will be in position to
      accept that hostile declaration and the clearance authorities will be
      passed up to the highest authority. We've improved our
      communications equipment. We have secure telephones that allow us to
      contact, immediately, the powers in the chain of command and I, as
      the the Joint Force Air Component Commander, have delegated emergency
      authority. In the very rare occasion where either a telephone fails
      or we cannot get authority and under emergency powers, can exercise
      that authority. So the clearances now in place. Gen. Eberhart is in
      place in Colorado Springs or his designated representative. We
      exercise this in real world, not exercise, probably between 8 and 15
      times a week. So it's been well documented. Any national security
      event will bring together the forces and those lines of communication
      are open now. Clearances are there.

      John Lehman, Commissioner
      Thank you. As you know, our rules of engagement are many (tape swap)

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      From what source did you receive the shoot down authority?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      I did not receive shoot-down authority.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      You say it was received subsequent to the crash of 93?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      Yes, that's correct.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      From what source was that received?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      It was passed down to us from the NORAD, from Cheyenne Mountain, that
      they had received shoot down authority. Then, the time frame escapes
      me at the moment, but you know for example over the Washington, D.C.
      area, it was declared a no fly zone. And just by the fact that any
      aircraft was present, if we could not determine if that aircraft was
      friendly, then we were cleared to shoot that aircraft down.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      When was the declaration of no fly zone authorized?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      I don't know. It was shortly during that timeframe.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      So, are you saying that that declaration gave you shoot down

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      It gave us, that particular declaration that I'm referring to is a
      Class Bravo airspace within the Washington, D.C. area was shut down
      to aviation, except for military or for law enforcement, emergency
      response aircraft, at that particular time.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      So, help me understand, does it mean once that condition exists, that
      unless you are able to determine that this was a friendly aircraft,
      which under the circumstances I suppose means under the control of
      the terrorists at that time, making it unfriendly aircraft, that you
      had authority, by whatever means to bring it down?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      That's true. Yes.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      At what time during this process was that order issued and who issued

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      I do not know who issued it. It's my understanding it was issued by
      the President or the Vice President, in his stead, that that order
      was issued. And it was issued around the time that we decided to put
      all the aircraft on the ground as Mr. Mineta, or Secretary Mineta,
      had referred to, at that particular time.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      We would ask you to supplement your testimony today with specific
      information about that. At what point was, to the best of your
      knowledge, any order received from either the President or the Vice
      President of the United States with respect to action to be taken by
      the military in connection with the on-going situation?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      It was my understanding that that occurred, the direct communication,
      to me, I can't answer if it was done at a higher level at some point
      in time, around 5 minutes after the United 93 has crashed into

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commission
      And so you would be able to check the records of NORAD generally, or
      the DOD generally, to find out when a Presidential directive was

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      I'm sure Gen. McKinley will do that for me.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Thank you. And if I understand the context of what you've said about
      closing the perimeter around Washington, the President's directive or
      the Vice President's directive would have been moot because of the
      prior order which would have enabled you to shoot down an unfriendly
      plane in that sector.

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      Well, you know, we develop a certain, I guess the short answer again
      is correct. But it's very specifically in the Washington, D.C. area
      by presence, that aircraft was hostile unless we could determine that
      it was friendly.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Let me go to the issue, again to revisit Flight 77 because as we
      understand it, tragically it appears that that was the only plane
      which reached its intended target which might have been interdicted
      that day, if everything had gone right. Are you in agreement with

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      I think, you know from a physics perspective, yes that's correct.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Well, let's go beyond physics, for a moment. And let me ask you
      about the planes which were scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base.
      Now from Andrews Air Force Base by the Secret Service of the United
      States, who gave the order to scramble jets, F-16s also, I believe,
      out of Andrews?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      It is my understanding that the FAA, that the Secret Service
      requested that they launch anything they could to get them airborne.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Of whom did they make that request?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      I'm not sure if it was Gen. Worley (phonetic), Dave Worley himself.
      Gen. Worley is the wing commander, Gen. Dave Worley. And I think
      they actually talked to him and I did not know this at the time, of
      course. But just in, they called him up and said what do you have
      that you can get airborne? He had some airplanes returning from the
      range on the training mission.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      What would be the flight time from Andrews Air Force Base of two F-
      16s to the Pentagon?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      From the time they were notified?

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      Probably 15 to 20 minutes because it takes about 10 minutes to get
      airborne. And they are not set up on alert for scramble. In fact,
      it could have taken – they didn't have any airplanes immediately
      ready to go; it could have taken them 20 or 30 minutes.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      And, under the circumstances.....

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      We already had airplanes airborne, by the time those airplanes were
      airborne, we had airplanes over Washington, D.C.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Right, now if the order had been given to Andrews even simultaneously
      with the order that you gave to scramble your planes, is it not fair
      to say that those planes would have reached the Pentagon sooner?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      They might have but they would have been unarmed.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Sir, yes that would be my comment, sir, is those aircraft are not
      prepped or built-up for that mission.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      And in fact, we have received reports that are almost incredible in
      terms of the bravery of the two pilots who went up that day in
      unarmed aircraft with the mission, I presume, authorized somewhere in
      the executive to use their airplanes to bring down Flight 77 or 93 if
      they could interdict them. That means to clip their wings, crash
      into them, perhaps, the pilots at the risk of their own lives. Is
      that correct?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Sir, as I evacuated the Pentagon that morning, as I came out the
      river entrance and looked up, virtually simultaneously those F-16s
      coming back from the range, had been airborne, had dropped their
      weapons, were returning low on fuel, were visible to ten to fifteen
      thousand people. And it was a very heartening sight to see United
      States Air Force fighters overhead the Pentagon. And it is my
      understanding from the review of the records that that was their

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      And who provided that guidance to them? Was that a decision made
      internally by Secret Service or did Secret Service require higher
      executive order in order to launch those planes on that mission?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      I do not know that.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      I'm unaware of the answer to that, sir.

      Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
      Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much, gentlemen.

      Thomas Kean, Chairman
      I've got one question. Suppose for a minute that this weekend, God
      forbid that some terrorist got onboard another plane in Boston and
      headed for New York, what would be different?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Sir, I'm very proud to say that I think the interagency process has
      worked very, very well. The Transportation Security Administration
      under the direction of Secretary Ridge has implemented stringent
      procedures on the ground. Let's face it, solving this problem before
      the terrorists get on the airplane, I think is the most critical step
      to protecting commercial aviation because once the airplane is in the
      air, then it resolves back to the Dept. of Defense to take the
      appropriate action. So, TSA deserves a great deal of credit.
      Federal Aviation Administration with their procedures and the way
      they are lashed up with us now in the military. And the formation of
      the Northern Command, I think is vitally important to the security of
      the United States of America. And, I think, those things in context
      make it far less likely for this to happen. But, as my boss says, we
      are not 100% safe. We can never be 100% safe. I take nothing for
      granted when I'm in our Air Operations Center when any aircraft fails
      to communicate or fails to make a turn, or fails to do what it's
      being – it's flight plan said it was supposed to. So, we are very,
      very serious today about what's happening in the skies over America.

      Thomas Kean, Chairman
      But if it were able to get into the air, headed for New York, would
      you be, what procedures exist now that didn't exist then? Would you
      be able to intercept it?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      It's my understanding and firm belief that the Federal Aviation
      Administration would immediately notify us at the first sign of any
      impropriety in any aircraft, whether it's commercial, cargo or
      civilian. We would immediately take action to get our fighters
      airborne from the nearest suitable location. And we have that
      location set now where we didn't have it prior to the 11th. We
      should be able to protect our critical infrastructure, our major
      population centers. But there is, as in any case in the military
      effort, there are some risks but we are postured to accept that
      responsibility. So the example you gave us out of Boston is the F-
      15s out of Otis would be immediately scrambled, they would
      immediately intercept the aircraft and we would stand by for further
      authorities from those above us.

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      I would just point out that if the question were if it happened
      today. You have airborne interceptors that would be vectored into
      those aircraft, to intercept.

      Thomas Kean, Chairman
      Commissioner Hamilton

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      I just want to clarify a few things after listening to all this
      testimony; it's not all that clear to me. As of September 11th, only
      the President had the authority to order a shoot down of a commercial

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      That's correct, Sir.

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      And today, who has the authority?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      We see the President, delegated to the Secretary of Defense,
      delegated to the Combatant Commander of Northern Command and the
      North American Airspace Command and there are emergency authorities
      if that fails.

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      So you have authority.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      Yes sir and others.

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      And how many others?

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      I'd prefer not to say in this forum sir, but I can provide it for the

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      And you do not have to go up the chain of command at all in the event
      of an emergency...

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      We certainly will try.

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      I know that.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      We will make every effort to try.

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      I'm sure you would. But you don't have to.

      Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley
      In an emergency situation, we can take appropriate action. Yes sir.

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      Now one of the things that's curious to me is, General Arnold you
      said that you did not learn of the Presidential order until after the
      United 93 had already crashed. That was about a little after ten
      o'clock in the morning. The first notice of difficulty here was at
      8:20 in the morning when a transponder goes off on the American
      flight 11. I don't know how significant that is but twenty minutes
      later you had notification of a possible hijack. So there is a long
      lapse of time here between the time you are initially alerted and you
      receive the order that you could shoot that aircraft down. Am I
      right about that?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      That's correct.

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      In your timeline, why don't you put in there when you were notified?

      Col. Alan Scott
      For which flight, Sir?

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      (Crosstalk) Well, getting the notification from the President of the
      United States that you have the authority to shoot a commercial
      aircraft down is a pretty significant event. Why would that not be
      in your timeline?

      Col. Alan Scott
      I don't know when that happened.

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      Have you ever received that kind of a notice before?

      Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold
      Not to my knowledge.

      Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair
      So this is the first time in the history of the country that such an
      order had ever been giv<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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