With the 15th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon behind us, I wanted to take a look back in time at some of the events of the day, particularly how quickly the events led to the very lengthy and spectacularly unsuccessful "War on Terror".
Since you've likely forgotten some details of the attacks, here is a timeline showing what happened on September 11, 2001:
7:59 am – American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston’s Logan International Airport en route to Los Angeles.
8:14 am – United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston; it is also headed to Los Angeles.
8:19 am – Flight attendants aboard Flight 11 contact ground personnel and inform them that the plane has been hijacked and the airline notifies the FBI.
8:20 am – American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. headed to Los Angeles.
8:24 am – Hijacker Mohammed Atta makes the first of two accidental transmissions from Flight 11 to ground control.
8:40 am – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alerts North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) about the suspected hijacking of Flight 11. In response, NEADS scrambles two fighter planes located at Cape Cod’s Otis Air National Guard Base to locate and tail Flight 11.
8:41 am – United Airlines Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport en route to San Francisco.
8:46 am – Mohammed Atta and the other hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 crash the plane into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
8:50 am – White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card alerts President George W. Bush who is in class reading a book at an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida that a plane has hit the World Trade Center.
9:03 am – Hijackers crash United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 75-85 of the WTC’s South Tower, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building.
9:08 am – The FAA bans all takeoffs of flights going to New York City or through the airspace around the city.
9:31 am – Speaking from Florida, President Bush calls the events in New York City an “apparent terrorist attack on our country.”
9:37 am – Hijackers aboard Flight 77 crash the plane into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
9:42 am – The FAA grounds all flights over or bound for the continental United States.
9:59 am – The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.
10:07 am – After passengers and crew members aboard the hijacked Flight 93 contact friends and family and learn about the attacks in New York and Washington, they mount an attempt to retake the plane. In response, hijackers deliberately crash the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard.
10:28 am – The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses.
1 pm – From a U.S. Air Force base in Louisiana, President Bush announces that U.S. military forces are on high alert worldwide.
2:51 pm – The U.S. Navy dispatches missile destroyers to New York and Washington, D.C.
5:20 pm – The 47-story Seven World Trade Center collapses after burning for hours.
6:58 pm – President Bush returns to the White House after stops at military bases in Louisiana and Nebraska.
Let's change the subject for one moment at look at an open letter that was written by members of the Project for a New American Century to President Bill Clinton in February 1998:
Interestingly, this letter which was dated over three and a half years prior to the events of September 11, 2001, was signed by former Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld.
Now that you have the timeline and some background information, let's look at what was happening at the National Military Command Center (NMCC) which is located in the Joint Staff area of the Pentagon. The NMCC is primarily responsible for generating Emergency Action Messages to launch control centres around the globe and provides operations monitoring and reporting for all military communications. This is where Donald Rumsfeld found himself on 9/11 after he assisted with the Pentagon's injured staff as shown on this video:
As shown on this memo, written by Department of Defense staff member, Steven Cambone at 12:05 pm EST, the National Security Agency had intercepted a phone call from one of Osama bin Laden's operatives in Afghanistan:
It states that UBL's (Osama bin Laden's) operative had "heard good news" and that there was more to come.
Here is a memo written at 2:40 pm EST:
It states that Donald Rumsfeld wanted "info fast" to judge whether it was good enough to "hit S.H. at same time, not only UBL". In case you couldn’t guess, S.H. is Saddam Hussein. The note also states that there is a "need to move swiftly" and that the "near-term targets needs - go massive - sweep it all up. things related and not" and that this needed to be done to "get anything useful".
If you wish to look at the original scans of the meeting notes taken on September 11, 2001, you can find them here.
Let’s look back at the timeline. American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am EST and American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 am EST. By 2:40 pm EST or just under five and six hours later, Donald Rumsfeld, a key member of the Project for a New American Century, whose goal it was to remove Saddam Hussein from power, had already stated that it was time to “hit Saddam Hussein”.
And, that's how the seeds for the endless and extremely costly War on Terror were planted. Less than one-quarter of a day after the North Tower of the World Trade Center was hit and Saddam Hussein was already a dead man walking.