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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Airline Incidents: Fear as Force Multiplier

By Fred Burton
August 29, 2006
Stratfor: Terrorism Intelligence Report

During the past month, since British authorities announced the disruption of a bomb plot involving airliners, there has been a worldwide increase in security awareness, airline security measures -- and fear among air passengers. At least 17 public incidents involving airline security have been reported in the United States and parts of Europe since Aug. 10. Most of these were innocuous, but many resulted in airliners making emergency landings off their scheduled routes, sometimes escorted by fighter aircraft.

The spate of incidents -- each of which rings up significant financial costs to the airline company and governments involved and causes inconvenience and delays for travelers -- is a reminder that terrorism, philosophically, is not confined to the goal of filling body bags or destroying buildings. At a deeper level, it is about psychology and the "propaganda of the deed." And as far as al Qaeda is concerned, it is also about economic warfare: Osama bin Laden personally has stated that one of the group's strategic objectives is to "bleed America to the point of bankruptcy."

To say that the governments and industries targeted by terrorism face difficult choices is a gross understatement. The problem lies in the fact that decision-makers not only must protect the public against specific groups using known tactics (in al Qaeda's case, bombs and liquid explosives) but also must protect themselves in the face of public opinion and potential political blowback. Officials naturally want to be perceived as doing everything possible to prevent future acts of violence; therefore, every threat -- no matter how seemingly ridiculous -- is treated seriously.

Overreaction becomes mandatory. Politicians and executives cannot afford to be perceived as doing nothing.

This powerful mandate on the defensive side is met, asymmetrically, on the offensive side by a force whose only requirements are to survive, issue threats and, occasionally, strike -- chiefly as a means of perpetuating its credibility.

The Impact to Air Travel

Following the thwarted U.K. airlines plot, security measures in Britain, the United States and elsewhere were tightened. These new regulations have included a ban on liquids and electronic items in the passenger compartment, more stringent baggage checks and tighter scrutiny of prospective passengers.

These new security measures already have had a financial impact on the airline industry. On Aug. 25, Irish discount airline Ryanair filed the lawsuit it had previously threatened against the British Department for Transport. The lawsuit represents an effort to change the new restrictions the department placed on carry-on items following the disruption of the airline plot. Ryanair officials have publicly called the new restrictions "nonsensical and ineffective" and have called for "a return to common sense" regarding airline security. The company claims it has lost 3.3 million pounds (nearly $5.9 million) in earnings as a result of the new measures.

The new measures have placed considerable strains on security screeners already in place, and governments and airlines have accrued significant costs as they hire more personnel to help relieve the burdens and man additional screening checkpoints. Meanwhile, the ban on liquids and electronics in carry-on luggage has led to greater volumes of baggage being checked in, and thus being screened and handled by ground crews. (This is one of the chief complaints of Ryanair, which encourages passengers to travel without checked baggage as a way of keeping costs down.) Passengers also have felt the effects: delayed flights, forced changes to packing and luggage habits, longer lines and generally more frustrations in their travels.

The number of publicly reported security incidents appeared to peak last week, with six incidents on Aug. 25 alone, though more also were reported this week. Alarms were triggered by a range of things: disruptive passengers, suspicious smells, bomb threats that were scribbled on air sickness bags and anonymous phone calls alleging bomb threats. One Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Mumbai was diverted back to Schiphol Airport after a dozen Indian men on board the flight were seen talking and passing around cell phones. That flight was given a fighter escort as it returned to the airport.

Clearly, the recent government warnings and air travel security measures have generated greater awareness, but judging from the unusual rash of incidents, it appears that a certain degree of paranoia may be in play as well. In some ways, the aircraft incidents are similar to the public's response to the anthrax letters incidents in 2001, when "white powder scares" brought many American businesses, schools and government agencies to a grinding halt.

Terrorism: Psychology as Force Multiplier

With that psychological component in mind, terrorist acts do not have to be tremendously successful (in terms of physical casualties or damage) in order to be terribly effective.

About 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. That is an enormous toll, certainly (the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, by comparison, resulted in only six deaths), but it pales in comparison to the number of Americans who were killed in highway accidents in 2005 (more than 43,000) or the hundreds of thousands who lost their lives in the tsunami that struck Asia in December 2004. The true power in terrorism rests in the ability to commit spectacular strikes and the psychological impact that such spectacles can have. In many cases, the "psychological casualties" far exceed the number of physical casualties that can be realized with any given strike.

The anarchists of the late 19th century referred to terrorism as the "propaganda of the deed," meaning that their acts of violence had an ability to send messages to their friends and foes alike. Al Qaeda certainly fits this mold: The group has been struggling since its inception to convince the "ummah," or Muslim people, that the United States and its allies are not invincible. The group also spent several years attempting to provoke the United States into invading a Muslim country -- so that it could launch a war of attrition against the United States, similar to the way it fought (and defeated) the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. After many smaller attempts, al Qaeda succeeded in this goal with the Sept. 11 attacks, which took U.S. forces into Afghanistan. The 2003 invasion of Iraq provided an even better theater for al Qaeda's war ofattrition against the United States.

Al Qaeda measures its progress in the war of attrition not only by the number of American servicemen killed, but in terms of American treasure expended in furtherance of the war. In essence, bin Laden and his planners adopted a concept that is familiar to Americans: "It's the economy, stupid!"

Bin Laden outlined this very clearly in his October 29, 2004,message to the American people. In that recording, he estimated that it cost al Qaeda only $500,000 to carry out the 9/11 attacks, whereas the estimated cost to the United States from the event and its aftermath was measured at $500 billion. In the same message, bin Laden also mused about how easy it was to "provoke and bait" the U.S. administration. All that was needed, he claimed, was to "send two mujahideen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written 'al Qaeda,' in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of noteother than some benefits for their private companies." Later in the same message, he stated: "So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy -- Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah."

This theme of economic warfare has been echoed in several subsequent messages from al Qaeda leaders, and there is no evidence at this point to suggest that al Qaeda has decided to scrap this approach.

Political Liability: Another Factor

Once the immediate psychological impact of a spectacular terrorist attack wears off, politicians and government bureaucrats often face another form of terror: the terror of the public inquest. There is an expectation that governments somehow must prevent all terrorist attacks, and when one occurs, there are political investigations into the cause of intelligence failures -- and on occasion, there is finger-pointing as well. Though the unstated expectation is not altogether reasonable, it is a powerful political force -- and, therefore, politicians (and, to a certain extent, businesses) cannot avoid reckoning with it.

To avoid the finger-pointing, governments have begun shifting the way they investigate potential terrorist acts from an approach based on waiting until a strike is about to be carried out -- and then "making the big case" -- to an approach based on disruption and pre-emption (or, in other words, taking action at the earliest possible stage).

There has also been a shift in the security industry, away from a risk-management approach toward risk aversion.

In practical terms, this means that nearly every threat, no matter how far-fetched it seems, is treated as a serious threat. This risk-aversion approach is behind the new security measures in Britain that have so upset Ryanair.

Al Qaeda long ago took the risk-aversion factor into account, as it embarked on its war of attrition against the West. In such a war, what matters most is not how many times a fighter is bloodied and knocked down, but how many times he picks himself up and returns to the fight. It is dogged determination not to lose that can lead to victory. This is, in essence, how the Mujahideen won against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and how al Qaeda views its contest against the United States today.

Al Qaeda believes that it can win a war of attrition against the United States, and the group's leadership has said so repeatedly in public messages. They do not think that the United States has the stomach or the attention span to go toe-to-toe in the late rounds of the fight. As bin Laden noted in a 1996 fatwa: "However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu, you left the area -- carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you."

To wage this war of attrition, al Qaeda's chief requirements are to survive -- or answer the bell at the beginning of each round -- issue threats and conduct an occasional strike to prove they are still relevant. The large number of media releases from al Qaeda leaders this year show that they have indeed survived. The statements also may be an attempt to overwhelm and exhaust the enemy. Obviously, the United States and its allies cannot conceivably protect everything, and attempts to do so take great tolls on human resources and finances.

Viewed through this lens, the responses to the disrupted airlines plot may, in fact, be a form of success for al Qaeda, despite the failure of the actual plot.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Worse than SNAKES on a PLANE

by Daniel Hopsicker
AUGUST 23, 2006
Venice, FL.

An unidentified 40-year old American wearing a green polo shirt was in charge of the contingent of drug traffickers on the ground awaiting the arrival of the DC9 “Cocaine One” airliner arriving from Venezuela on the evening of April 11th with a spectacular haul of 5.5 tons of pure cocaine aboard, according to a recent article in Mexican newspaper Proceso by a respected Mexican journalist.

Although much about the journey of the airliner is still shrouded in mystery, amid the conflicting reports the outlines of what happened are beginning to become clear.

From various accounts in the Mexican press, we have pieced together the following story of what occurred during the shipment from Venezuela to Mexico of 5.5 tons of cocaine on its way to the U.S. until interdicted almost by accident at a tiny airport that closes each night at 6 p.m.
Reinforcing what we’ve learned about the powerful forces behind the DC9’s flight in the U.S., the plane’s progress through Mexico was being arranged through the involvement by Mexican Federal officials.

Ironically, the seized plane has been spotted at an airport in Mexico City, complete with new paint job and registration, put back into service by the same Mexican Federal investigative agency being accused of responsibility for the flight.

"It's French Connection Meets Monty Python's Holy Grail" It was a scene right out a spy movie...

In the air, gliding in on balmy tropical updrafts at dusk, is an American-registered DC9 airliner, painted in quasi-governmental livery, a gold-bordered blue stripe running down the side, and a blue and gold Seal next to the door in the front of the plane, an American eagle clutching an olive branch in its talons.

The last rays of sunlight glint off its wings of the plane, which looks for all the world as if it were carry potentates from the US Department of Homeland Security to a conference on drug interdiction at a posh Cancun hotel.

Except this plane isn’t carrying Diplomats or FBI agents... Instead, it is loaded with 128 identical black leather suitcases, each tightly packed with cocaine, an incredible quantity of cocaine, 5.5 tons in all.

Stenciled on the side of each suitcase was a single word: “Privado.”

Inside the suitcases, the packages of cocaine were stamped with different symbols: a scorpion, a star, a horse, among others, as though they were going to different drug gangs for onward smuggling up through Mexico to the U.S.

On the ground, scanning the sky nervously, are officers from the Mexican Federal Preventive Police (PFP, dressed in civilian clothes. But they aren’t there to interdict the drug shipment. They’re there to protect it.

"We're from the government. We're here to help."

There’s an atmosphere of increasing tension in the terminal. A significant number of the airport’s regular security detail has made themselves scarce. The smart ones called in sick, including several suspected of involvement in drug trafficking.

Everyone working at the airport knows something unusual - as well as potentially unpleasant - is afoot.

The pilot of the DC9 radioed the airport to report a problem with the undercarriage of the plane.
So the airport is kept open past its normal closing hour to allow the airliner to make an emergency landing.

Some news accounts will later speculate that this is a ruse to get airport authorities to allow the plane to land. However FAA repair records for the plane show it experienced a similar malfunction a year earlier in Tallahassee, where it slid right off the runway before coming to a stop.

Milling around in the small airport terminal awaiting the plane is a motley collection of people with a shared characteristic: -- they are all behaving strangely.

They include agents of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) Intelligence Branch, as well as 4 presumed narcotics traffickers who flew in the previous day on a corporate jet, a Falcon 20, from the capital.

The pilot and copilot of the Falcon, Marco Aurelio Perez de Gracia and Fernando Poot Perez, will turn out to be employees of a Mexican Federal Agency, the Water Commission. They are both ex-military. They have both spent recent time in prison for drug trafficking. They are not there by accident.

Home free with a big wad and a bottle of Jack, Nor is it an accident, apparently, that they are Mexican Federal government employees.

One control tower employee is approached by an American, described as about 40 years old, with blond hair, a deep tan, and a green polo shirt.

The American not only wants the airport to allow the plane to land... he also wants the tower to certify the flight, which means the DC9 can then continue its journey into Mexico as a domestic flight. No need to go through customs. Home free.

The American, cliché that he is, carries a Big Wad. He offers to pay cash. But his money was in dollars, the controller explained later. The airport operations office doesn’t take foreign currency, they told him. They didn’t want his bribe. His offer was refused.

Surely they had been asked to bend the rules before. The tension was palpable... The continuing mystery is why she turned him down. “He indicated to me that the plane would just refuel and then head towards Toluca,” the employee stated. She knew what he wanted. He isn't going to get it.

Forget the fire. Save the suitcases!

The DC9 rolled to a stop on the apron as far from the terminal as it could get.

Even though the pilot had radioed the tower to alert them to a problem in the hydraulic system in the undercarriage of the plane. A flaw in a brake line.

And indeed, while it was landing smoke was visible coming from the area around one of the tires.
With the danger of a fire, firefighters rushed to the plane. But they were waved away from the plane when they tried to approach.

And despite the alarm shown earlier about an undercarriage malfunction causing sparks, the pilot now was insisting on refueling. The air controller was suspicious.

The American in the control tower said he was going to find the captain of the Falcon, who could smooth things over.

But that’s not what happened.

And soon the DC9 bearing the American registration number N900SA was being surrounded by Mexican soldiers pressed into service in what might charitably be called Mexico’s “uneven” War on Drugs.

The news that an American was involved in the drug shipment is just one of the new details which can be gleaned by reading what newspapers in Mexico and Venezuela have been reporting.

In both countries, unlike the U.S., the story has been front page news for several months.
The Mexican press is filled with reports of the involvement of a sizable number of officers in the Federal Preventive Police (PFP), a 7-year old FBI-trained federal police force whose main mission, ironically, is enforcing Mexico’s laws against drug trafficking.

"The cynics are right nine times out of ten."

Ricardo Ravelo, author of a recent book on drug cartels in Mexico, interviewed airport personnel in Cuidad del Carmen, a city tucked into the most remote corner of the Mexican Yucatan. They told him that intrigue had already been swirling for several days before the DC9 landed.

Agents of two Mexican federal law enforcement agencies, the Policía Federal Preventiva (PFP) and of the Federal Agency of Investigación (AFI), reportedly attempted to prevent airport personnel from calling in the military to search the DC9 after it had aroused suspicions.

On the evening before the DC9 came in Ramon (a PFP officer) appeared to the airport with González Virgen, who said he was in the intelligence division of the PFP,” said one civilian worker at the airport.

He said they were installing new procedures for registering landings, and that he would need to speak with all the civil employees of the terminal.” What he wanted to talk about, the man said, was an “economic adjustment” to allow the landing of the plane loaded with 5.5 tons of cocaine.

As many as a dozen Federal PFP officers may have been working to ensure the success of the drug move. Five were in Cuidad del Carmen, and reportedly attempted to keep airport personnel from calling in the Mexican military.

Others visited Mexican airports where the DC9 was scheduled to land, presumably to drop off part of the load, in Toluca and Monterrey.

Get some pepper for the drug-sniffing dog

I noticed three men loitering in the airport, in white guayabera shirts and dark trousers,” an airport security man told Ravelo. “One I had seen in the airport before in Federal (PFP) police uniform. He began asking about our drug-sniffing dog, things like what drugs could he detect.”

The PFP has been widely criticized in the Mexican press for breaking up student demonstrations and worker’s strikes, for the large percentage of military personnel in its ranks, and for the fact that its presence has had little effect on the bloodletting between drug rings.

But now the Federal force, and its local police and military support all over the country, seems squarely in the crosshairs of the Mexican news media, which is much less controlled in its reporting on drug trafficking than the mainstream American press.

The crew of the DC-9 reportedly made frequent trips to Caracas, Venezuela. And they had close ties to the two Falcon pilots, Poot Perez and Perez de Gracia.

They reportedly all worked for the same criminal organization. There were, still, loose ends. The Mexican army had managed to capture the aircraft's co-pilot, but not the pilot. He escaped. No one appears to be too concerned.

"I either want less corruption, or more chance to participate in it.”

But there was one major point of contention in Spanish language news accounts. Venezuelan newspapers related that the DC9 had stopped in Colombia after leaving Caracas to pick up the load.

Newspapers in Mexico supporting the Vicente Fox government tended to feel Hugo Chavez had probably personally supervised the loading of the 128 suitcases, and that probably there were FARC guerrillas standing around with machine guns watching.

They even tried to pin the DC9’s massive haul on the poor fellow from whom they had just stolen the election for President. It was, however, a half-hearted effort which didn’t stick. The charge was ridiculous on its face. Imagine Al Gore as a drug lord. You get the picture.

Another point of speculation concerned which cartel was responsible for moving the load. In Mexico, the choices seem almost endless. The Sinaloa Cartel was the favorite, followed by the Tijuana cartel, the Jalisco cartel, and an outfit supposedly strong in the area the DC9 came down in, called the Southeastern Cartel.

One thing news accounts in both Mexico and Venezuela agreed on, however, was that the DC9 was U.S. registered and American-owned. But, as if to make amends for their impudence, both countries media retailed the unlikely story that the plane was owned by “the American airline Fly,” or “US air charter company, Fly.”

There is no such carrier.

The biggest question remains unanswered.

Why was the American-registered DC9 airliner(N900SA) busted in the first place, while flying what evidence indicates was a - “milk run” - a routine flight flown many times before without incident?

What happened? What changed?

When you’re flying a commercial airliner carrying 128 suitcases - but no passengers - you’re clearly not expecting any serious scrutiny. So, the most amazing thing about the seizure of 5.5 tons of cocaine in Mexico four months ago is simply that it happened in the first place.

"I'm not a member of any organized party. I'm a Democrat."

A second major question posed by the bust of an American plane with 5.5 tons of cocaine may be even more mystifying: In the face of mounting evidence that the drug trafficking organization involved in the flight Maintains Close Ties both to President George W. Bush as well as to the national Republican Party, why haven’t the ghosts who populate the Democratic Party made an issue of the flight?

The disheartening answer is likely to be found in what we do know - for a certainty - about the uncertain business of narcotics trafficking... Veteran Miami Private Detective Gary McDaniel educated us on the basics of the industry while we were doing research for “Barry & the boys.”

"Every successful drug trafficking organization needs 4 things to be successful,” he had told us, ticking them off on his fingers… - “Production,- distribution,- transportation,- and protection.”

When you think about it, this is only common sense. But it also completely undermines the unstated myth behind mainstream media reporting in the U.S. about the international narcotics trade… that it is hidden from law enforcement, in a way that requires diligent police work to uncover.

The DEA's weasel from hell

How can you hide the daily workings of an industry shipping - 5.5 tons of cocaine at a crack from a government that can read the make of your golf ball from outer space?

The answer is: you can’t.

The police chief of every good-sized American city knows the name of the wholesale distributor selling product to street-level dealers to retail in his town.

And - this is a mini-editorial - that’s why voters should take every opportunity to defeat hypocrites like Asa Hutchinson, now running for Governor in Arkansas. Hutchinson served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, where he specialized in looking the other way while the biggest cocaine smuggling operation in recorded history hummed along right outside his office window.

As a reward for Asia’s lack of effort, he became George W. Bush’s choice to become the head of America’s DEA. But that’s the U.S. side.

This series has illustrated the complicity of agencies of the U.S. Government in the case.

The owner of the airplane in question, for example, today walks the streets a free man.

The DEA appears unconcerned.

Before going bankrupt, the company which painted the plane to look like it belonged to the U.S. Government, SkyWay Aircraft, was clearly up to no good. They had no use for one DC9. Yet they controlled two.

The Chairman of SkyWay was a former employee of the U.S. Forest Service who claims to have been a long-time CIA agent.

He has not been taken in for questioning.

Perhaps government complicity in the protected drug trade may be easier to spot in Mexico, not because its more prevalent, but because its easier to imagine the worst when dealing with foreigners.

But we have plenty of drug lords of our own.

A brief Synopsis

San Diego Defense Firm Titan Corp.

A DC9 is busted at an airport in the state of Campeche, Mexico carrying an incredible 5.5 tons of cocaine...

One of its two listed owners, Brent Kovar of SkyWay Aircraft, boasted in a press release that he’d been appointed to the Business Advisory Council of the National Republican Congressional Committee by Congressional Majority Leader Tom Delay...

The second plane's registered owner, “Royal Sons LLC,” used to be housed in a hanger at the Venice Fl. Airport owned by terror flight school Huffman Aviation...

The plane was painted with the distinctive blue-and-white with gold trim used by official U.S. Government planes. Around the image was a legend reading: SkyWay Aircraft: SkyWay Aircraft: Protection of America’s Skies...

The plane bore a Seal of a federal eagle clutching an olive branch. Most who saw it were fooled into believing it belonge to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security. The firm’s Chairman, Glenn Kovar, boasted of long-standing ties to the CIA...

The case had immediate and obvious national security implications. No one in authority in the U.S. addressed them, or even acknowledged they existed...

The DC9 had an identical twin, a second airliner painted the same way. The airliners were supposedly used to perform in-flight demonstrations of the technology of SkyWay’s new product...

But that could not have been the purpose for owning the twin airliners.

SkyWay had no products, no prospects, and nothing to demonstrate. The company was a penny stock fraud scam which successfully relieved investors of over $40 million dollars in only three years...

What the company DID have was twin airliners masquerading as official U.S. Government planes...

Glenn and Brent Kovar, the father-and-son pair running SkyWay, had run a similar scam several years earlier, called Satellite Access Systems, (SAS) whose last known stock quote was three one-thousands of a penny per share...

The Vancouver Sun linked the two to a Vancouver stock promoter who had been kicked off the Vancouver Stock Exchange named Rene Hamouth, and a U.S. promoter found guilty of "awarding himself millions in excessive compensation, siphoning company funds and diverting company assets..."

The FAA did nothing to clear up confusion about who owned the plane when it was busted. They wrote: “The file will not be available to be sent out until it is updated in approximately 2 weeks...

A month later, the plane’s registration records have still not been released.

A San Diego defense contractor, The Titan Corporation, had issued a press release as the company was going bankrupt, stating they planned to purchase a half billion dollars worth of the company’s non-existent product...

Titan was was the biggest campaign contributor of disgraced former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham. The company was involved in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, and has recently been convicted and fined $28 million for fixing a Presidential election in the African state of Benin...

Titan employed a mysterious Lebanese man who provided assistance to Mohamed Atta and other terrorist hijackers in Venice Florida before the 9.11 attack, who was listed as a contractor working for the company in Saudi Arabia last year...

What business did Titan Corp. have with SkyWay Aircraft? No one is saying. Calls to both companies have not been returned...

The Titan official quoted in the press release had been the executive vice president of an Annapolis Maryland firm, Intergraph, which had a deal with Brent Wilke’s ADCS Inc. which is now being investigated by the FBI...

The deal, brokered by Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, resulted in massive mark-ups on a product the Pentagon never asked for. The only losers were U.S. taxpayers, and maybe some dead U.S. servicemen in Iraq whose Humvee’s didn’t get armor plating because there wasn’t enough money for it in the Pentagon budget...


Monday, August 21, 2006

Twenty-Five Trillion Diverted to India by Bush Sr. American Mob

U.S. officials and bribed banksters illegally profiting from trillions owed Ambassodor Leo Wanta and the American people.

By Greg Szymanski
August 18, 2006

Since November 2005 a massive fraud, estimated at $25 trillion, has been funneled to India by corrupt American officials in one of the largest fund-washing and money-laundering schemes ever devised in the history of the world, according to Ambassador Leo Wanta, and as reported Thursday by London financial writer, Christopher Story.

The massive money laundering scheme has come to light as a result of the brash and arrogant actions of President Bush and the Federal Reserve Board, who have been unscrupulously blocking a $4.5 trillion settlement due Ambassador Wanta and earmarked for the American people and the betterment of the economy.

The settlement is a portion of the $27.5 trillion offshore fund established at the end of the Cold War, which is now under the legal control of Ambassador Wanta, as duly appointed trustor under direction of former President Ronald Reagan.

It was always the intention of President Reagan and Ambassador Wanta to use the money for the benefit of the American people, but after Reagan left the political spotlight, Wanta was indiscriminately and illegally jailed by operatives working for the last three presidential administrations, who have instead pilfered trillions for their own agenda and personal gain.
Regarding the $25 trillion diverted to India in matters related to the Wanta settlement, Story added:

"In a massive, officially sanctioned, illegal money-laundering carousel that has been ongoing with the full knowledge and participation of the corrupt US Federal Reserve ever since November 2005, an estimated $25 trillion of related funds has meanwhile been diverted to INDIA by the American authorities and others, in order to remove the funds from the immediate spotlight being shone into the eyes of the criminal gangs operating at the very heart of the US Government and its structures," said Story in his Thursday report at

"Specifically, the proceeds of these fund-washing operations are placed back onto the books from which funds were diverted, with the self-enrichment profits being transferred to India in the form of bonds. The key perpetrators of these continuing frauds include the President and Vice President of the United States, George W. Bush Jr. and Richard Cheney, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Dr Ben Bernanke, the Secretary of Defense, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, and also two successive Secretaries of the Treasury (John Snow and Henry M. Paulson).

"Without going into excessive detail, the illegal operations have the effect of laundering US dollars, including American taxpayers' funds of course, off the books, in collaboration with corrupt foreign officials and elected leaders ? with the crooked, illegal proceeds being placed back onto the books where 'holes' created by previous organised financial scams need most urgently to be plugged.

"These ongoing frauds, sanctioned at the highest levels, enable past giga-financial scams to be covered up while holders of high office participate in successive fraudulent transactions off the books with corrupt foreign counterparties ? lodging their illegal untaxed profits offshore. The attitude of the criminals involved is that the purpose of holding high office is self-enrichment, rather than serving the US nation and the abused American people."

Story's detailed financial update on the much talked about Wanta settlement, as approved by Ambassador Wanta due to the financial sensitivity of the story, has tracked the exact location of the $4.5 trillion illegally being held up by high-level U.S. officials as of August 14 in a non-depletion, non-callable Secured U.S. Treasury Securities Account at Goldman Sachs and Co.
Further, it was reported that the chairman of Bank of America, where the funds were originally tagged and stored, "became so alarmed at this stark reality that he demanded that the Treasury take the $4.5 trillion belonging to Ambassador Wanta off his books, so that he and his institution would no longer appear to be implicated in the fraud."

For a more in depth look at the financial intrigue, the violations of law committed by the perpetrators and the international implications and foreign governments involved, Story's entire article has been reprinted below but can also be referenced at








The $4.5 trillion belonging to, tagged and earmarked for Ambassador Leo E. Wanta as his agreed Settlement formally approved by the US Supreme Court, the White House, the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury and senior legislators, as previously reported, is now authoritatively understood to be deposited in a non-depletion, non-callable Secured US Treasury Securities Account with a major Wall Street institution.

For the past several months, the $4.5 trillion have been FRAUDULENTLY AND ILLEGALLY TRADED by US domestic and international banks exploiting the funds available in the form of a Clearing House Interbank Payment System (CHIPS) credit at a US domestic bank and by the US Federal Reserve and the US Department of Defense, without the permission of the owner and principal, Ambassador Leo Wanta. All the parties concerned are engaged in organised criminal operations.

The $4.5 trillion have been traded with financial sector counterparties that have themselves been trading the funds illegally, in dereliction of their duty to perform Due Diligence in accordance with banking and securities industry regulations. Any such Due Diligence would have revealed that the funds are not the property of the institutions placing them for overnight gains, and are therefore being traded fraudulently and that the originating institutions are in breach of their fiduciary duty towards Ambassador Leo Wanta. It follows that all the financial institutions concerned, including the domestic and foreign counterparty institutions, are criminal organisations.


The reason this has not happened yet is that the Editor of International Currency Review does not wish to be the person who actually triggers the collapse of the international financial system, which is built upon reputational considerations and confidence. But it can hardly continue to function well if the criminal gangs, which control the US and other leading governments, retain the upper hand.

100% of the accruals derived from these illegal trades are the property of Ambassador Leo Wanta, upon which tax is payable. However the deviant financial organisations and officials engaged in this organised criminal activity are stashing the resulting accruals offshore, deploying them to 'fill holes' in accounts, or to rectify gross miscalculations such as the monumental 'unanticipated' costs of financing the Iraqi and Aghanistan conflicts.

And all of a sudden, the head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Donald Marion, has today announced that the projected 'visible' Federal Budget deficit will emerge at $260 billion, some $400 billion lower than previously estimated. This neatly covers up the grotesque consequences of the US budgetary profligacy of recent years. According to Mr Marion, the main reason for this suddenly favourable Federal Budget development is that wealthy individuals and corporations for example, AmeriTrust Groupe, Inc., which is to pay over tax at 35% of full value will be paying 'more tax than expected'; but the real reason is that the official parties will have diverted funds from off-balance sheet sources, including the assets belonging to Ambassador Leo Wanda, to 'cook the books'.


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Thursday, August 17, 2006

E-Voting: Will Your Vote Count?

[Blog Editors Note: This is the corporate mainstream take on electronic voting, notice the bias towards the mindset that it is not that bad. Emphasis is mine.]

CIO Insight
August 11, 2006
By Debra D'Agostino

Hardly a day goes by without electronic voting making headlines. In mid-July, voter-rights group Voter GA filed a lawsuit against the Georgia State Election Board opposing the use of electronic systems, calling them too insecure. In Texas, a state district judge refused to block the use of e-voting machines in Travis County's upcoming November elections. And New York made headlines this spring when the U.S. Justice Department sued the state for failing to meet federal e-voting adoption deadlines.

Six years after the 2000 presidential election fiasco in Florida, the debate continues to rage over just how to run a truly fair and accurate election. This despite the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, a federal law that allocated $3.8 billion in hopes of solving the problem. The law mandates that each state upgrade to electronic voting systems and create statewide databases of registered voters. This, Congress promised, would ensure fairness to all voters, less ambiguity at the polls, accessible systems for people with disabilities and citizens for whom English is a second language, and quicker and more accurate vote tallying.

A Vote of No Confidence

Commentary: Make Your Vote Count Even More
HAVA Works, Says EAC Chairman
CIO Insight's Government Technology Center

Laudable goals. But in Congress' rush to spare the U.S. further embarrassment from hanging chads and confusing butterfly ballots, lawmakers passed HAVA—which included a deadline of January 2006—without considering the security of such systems, and offered little guidance as to how a digital elections process should be effectively conducted. The result: computer malfunctions that miscount votes or erase them altogether, inefficient security measures that leave systems open to the possibility of widespread voter fraud, and statewide registered-voter databases that are still riddled with errors. Voter activist groups have filed lawsuits against nearly a dozen states, claiming the systems are too unsafe to use. Independent studies revealing serious flaws in e-voting software—most notably, a recent study released by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice—have led Congress to hold hearings to determine just how safe e-voting machines really are.

But the greatest damage may have already been done: the widespread erosion of U.S. voters' confidence in their nation's electoral process. "I suspect there are many thousands—maybe even millions—of Americans who don't believe the results of some recent election or other," says Congressman Rush Holt (D-N.J.), who has authored a bill that would standardize e-voting practices nationwide. "We have to do everything we can to restore confidence in the mechanism of democracy."

In an age when Americans seem more politically polarized than at any time since the Civil War, to say the stakes are high when it comes to electronic voting is an understatement. After all, voting is, as Thomas Paine wrote, "the primary right by which all other rights are protected."

So why haven't we managed to create a trustworthy e-voting system? The answer is one CIOs have heard time and again, but has historically eluded the U.S. federal government: New technology systems, particularly those entailing a great deal of process change, require thorough upfront discussions that include technology experts before those systems are implemented, to determine exactly where vulnerabilities lie and how they can be shored up.

There's no question that e-voting is flawed.

All computer systems are. In fact, all voting systems are.

But in the Digital Age, e-voting is a natural evolution in voting methods. And by adopting some common-sense checks and balances—such as a voter-verifiable paper trail, random post-election audits, parallel testing of systems on election day, and strict adherence to carefully crafted chain-of-custody procedures, the U.S. has an unparalleled opportunity to create a truly fair and accurate voting system.

That is, of course, as long as taxpayers are willing to pay for it.

Early and Often: A History of E-Voting

Voting scandals are nothing new. Lyndon Johnson (whose Voting Rights Act of 1965 was recently renewed by President Bush) was accused of ballot stuffing during his 1948 Senate bid, after a now-infamous "box 13" mysteriously appeared containing enough ballots to push the candidate ahead by a mere 87 votes. In the 1960 presidential election, Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley managed to have thousands of recently deceased voters cast their ballots for John F. Kennedy. Even "honest" Abe Lincoln, in his 1864 bid for reelection, is said to have furloughed registered Republican Union soldiers, while keeping Democrats on the battlefield, where they were unable to vote.

E-voting machines aren't new, either. Optical-scan systems have been in limited use for decades—not just in voting, but in standardized testing (think college board exams) and state lotteries. In the 1996 presidential election, 7.7 percent of all U.S. votes were cast on Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems, better known as touchscreens, and they are fast becoming the most popular e-voting machine, thanks to HAVA. By 2004, more than 61 percent of all U.S. votes were cast using some kind of electronic system.

The problem is, much of the $3.8 billion allocated for e-voting by the new law was distributed before the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)—the group that enforces HAVA—was even appointed. That left the states with no guidelines about how funds should be spent, or what e-voting systems should look like. By the time the EAC was named, nearly a year after HAVA was passed, much of the states' funds had already been spent on e-voting machines, most of them manufactured by companies such as Diebold Inc., Election Systems & Software Inc. and Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. By the 2004 presidential election, 47 percent of all states had spent or obligated more than half the funds they received from HAVA. And the EAC's "Voluntary Voting System Guidelines" were not finalized until December 2005.

The results haven't been pretty. Early critics of electronic-voting systems, such as Avi Rubin, a professor of computer science and technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, tested Diebold's source code (which the vendor had inadvertently made available on its Web site) in 2003 for flaws that could lead to significant errors or security breaches—and found plenty. "The problem," says Rubin, "is that technology makes it easier to manipulate elections in an invisible way. Because the systems are less transparent, the attacks can scale." In other words, an e-voting programmer could covertly insert a script designed to change votes without ever being detected. Or a hacker could break into the systems and change results on the fly.

The notion that e-voting manufacturers might secretly rig their own systems is laughable (Think again, Diebold's executive promised to deliver the vote to Bush) to Michelle Shafer, vice president of communications at Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems (also found to be flawed) and vice chair of the Election Technology Council, a vendor trade association sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America. "These systems have undergone intense federal reviews by independent testing authorities, including a line-by-line review of system source code. And software is stored in the National Software Reference Library (maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology), so our customers can compare the certified code they have in escrow against the code on file with NIST. The idea that this code is secret isn't the case at all." Diebold said the flaws Rubin uncovered were minor and would be corrected immediately.

Michael Shamos, who oversees the master of science in eBusiness Technology program at Carnegie Mellon University, has spent 25 years testing electronic voting technology. He says the likelihood of hacking or otherwise tampering with an e-voting machine is far lower than any other type of voter fraud. "There is no way someone can manipulate a million e-voting machines," he says. "The amount of effort and people required to do so is unimaginable." In fact, despite numerous admitted foul-ups, a verified case of voter fraud or deliberate tampering has yet to be reported.

Election Results: Problems Persist

Still, more than 1,000 e-voting problems were reported to nonprofit activist group (dead site) during the 2004 presidential election. In Orleans Parish, La., poll workers couldn't get machines to boot up, causing the polls to open hours late. Twenty-one ES&S machines in Broward County, Fla., crashed during the same elections. Though officials claimed no votes were lost, the lack of a voter-verifiable paper trail meant there was no way to be sure. According to the EAC, as many as 1 million votes were not counted as a result of computer error.

This is why most e-voting critics—many of whom are technologists—say some sort of voter-verifiable paper trail (in which electronic systems print out a ballot "receipt" voters can review to ensure their vote was recorded correctly) is key to the debate. But many of the e-voting machines purchased with money from HAVA did not have such a mechanism. "Without it, I don't see how anyone can believe these systems are trustworthy," says David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford University and founder of, a nonprofit voter advocacy group. (site correction

Dill's point is valid, but it's only part of the solution. Further investigation of e-voting software by Finnish security expert Harri Hursti, as well as by attorney Lawrence Norden, who chaired the task force on voting-system security at the Brennan Center for Justice, showed that deeper problems persist—even with systems that print paper receipts. "No question, there are bugs in these programs that have led to votes being counted incorrectly," Norden says. "And anything that can happen by accident can also happen on purpose."

After an 18‑month study to determine what it would take to pull off widespread voter fraud, he says, "we found that it is possible." The Brennan Report recommends that states undertake a series of steps to prevent errors and thwart fraud, including a voter-verifiable paper trail, random audits of voter results, a detailed chain-of-custody, parallel testing (testing an active e-voting machine on election day) and banning all wireless capabilities on the machines.

But states disagree on which steps are really necessary. In Travis County, Texas, for example, Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says the best offense is a better defense. "We conduct a step-by-step risk assessment from the time jurisdictions get their equipment through the very end," she says. The assessment "lists everything that might go wrong and helps you figure out how to prevent or deal with it." That includes a line-by-line edit of e-voting source code, parallel testing on election day, and chain-of-custody policies that require a signature every time data or hardware changes hands.

Yet Texas doesn't require any post-­election audits or a voter-verifiable paper trail—an issue that pitted DeBeauvoir and Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams against the Texas Civil Rights Project and the NAACP in a July lawsuit (the case was dismissed). DeBeauvoir says her county flawlessly executed its March primaries, while nearly 80 other precincts across Texas suffered widespread e-voting malfunctions. "Some had to rely on the vendors to help them," she admits. "It was a pretty big problem."

In Minnesota, State Secretary Mary Kiffmeyer claims that voting recount errors have dropped from 30 percent to nearly zero since the adoption of her detailed chain-of-custody procedures, which include both paper trails and independent audits. The process is one she's been developing since taking the state secretary post in 1998, guided by her prior 11-year experience as an election judge. Kiffmeyer created strict guidelines about how the machines should be stored between elections—some states allow volunteers to take systems home with them before an election—and operated on election day. The state runs a detailed training program for county election administrators, who are graded on their performance. Though Minnesota does not perform parallel testing on election day, voting precincts' results are randomly audited to make sure there were no glitches. And the findings are all posted to the state's Web site. "In the end, you have to be realistic about technology and the circumstances you're using it in," she says.

If Congressman Holt has his way, it won't be long before all states adopt a nationwide system of checks and balances. His bill, which has nearly 200 co-sponsors and is awaiting approval in the House of Representatives, mandates all the Brennan Report's recommendations. "We are a couple of years late," he admits, "But the problem has been recognized. We need a national standard on this."

EAC Chairman Paul DeGregorio, on the other hand, doesn't believe a federal law is a good idea. "One size does not fit all," he says. "Some jurisdictions have large numbers of people and budgets, others do not. And states have different ballot and procedural needs." Ross Goldstein, deputy state administrator for the Maryland Board of Elections, which conducts parallel testing but does not require paper trails or auditing, is also wary of such a bill. "In some ways, I see the benefit to standardizing processes," he says. "But I hope whatever is being contemplated takes the election community into consideration. All of this takes time and significant investment."

Fixing the Hole in E-Voting

Cost is perhaps the biggest reason why e-voting systems should be left alone, says Carnegie Mellon's Shamos. Since much of the HAVA funds have already been spent, there is little money left to make the systems more secure. And, he says, "the public doesn't want to pay for voting machines. If you ask people if they want a secure election, they say of course. But ask them to give up some of the highway or school budget to pay for it. It's not going to happen."

Norden disagrees. "There's nothing more fundamental to our democracy than making sure that votes are counted accurately. Choosing between schools and e-voting systems isn't a choice people should have to make," he says. At least 39 states agree with Norden, and they are beginning to scrutinize their e-voting processes, including how to instate audits and create a more thorough chain of custody. The EAC is putting together a series of guides to help election officials better manage their election processes.

There's still work to be done, EAC Chairman DeGregorio admits, but in the end, what's important is to instill trust among voters. "The election process is more transparent today than ever before. Officials are opening up the process to instill greater trust and confidence."

Rubin of Johns Hopkins agrees that open processes are the key. "We want election technology that's so transparent you can have the most corrupt people in charge and still have fair elections," he says. (What is he saying!)

Of course, honest officials would be even better.

Copyright (c) 2006 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Objective Vote Information at

Monday, August 14, 2006

Iranian Leader Opens Up

Aug. 13, 2006

When Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks out candidly — as is his habit — he scares a lot of people. He has said more than once that Israel should be wiped off the map, and that the Holocaust is an overblown fairytale.

When correspondent Mike Wallace interviewed him in Tehran last week, it became apparent that he sees the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah — a militia Iran has long supported — as part of a larger battle between the U.S. and a militant Islam for control of the Middle East.

"Very clearly, I will tell you that I fully oppose the behavior of the British and the Americans," Ahmadinejad tells Wallace. "They are providing state-of-the-art military hardware to the Zionists. And they are throwing their full support behind Israel. We believe that this threatens the future of all peoples, including the American and European peoples. So we are asking why the American government is blindly supporting this murderous regime."

Wallace tried to ask him about Hezbollah's use of missiles, rockets furnished by Iran, but he wanted to talk about Israel's attacks with American bombs.

"The laser-guided bombs that have been given to the Zionists and they're targeting the shelter of defenseless children and women," the president said.

"Who supports Hezbollah?" Wallace asked. "Who has given Hezbollah hundreds of millions of dollars for years? Who has given Hezbollah Iranian-made missiles and rockets that is making — that are making all kinds …" he continued as he was interrupted.

"Are you the representative of the Zionist regime? Or a journalist?" Ahmadinejad asked Wallace.

"I'm a journalist. I am a journalist," Wallace replied.

"This is not journalism, sir. Hezbollah is a popular organization in Lebanon, and they are defending their land," the president said. "They are defending their own houses. And, according to the charter of the United Nations, every person has the right to defend his house.

"What I'm saying is that the killing of innocents is reprehensible. And making this — the displacement of people and making them refugees, again, is reprehensible,"

"Well, what has Hezbollah, though — wait a minute," Wallace asked. "Hezbollah is displacing and damaging and making bleed all kinds of people. You know that."

"Please tell me, are the Lebanese inside the occupied lands right now or is it the other way around, that the Zionist troops are in Lebanese territory?" Ahmadinejad replied. "Lebanon is defending its independence. We are not at all happy with war. That is why on the first day we condemned these recent — conflict. And we asked for an immediate cease fire."

Ahmadinejad told Wallace the United Nations Security Council has not passed an effective ceasefire resolution because the Security Council is in America's pocket.

"Tell, the reason is, that the United Nations Security Council is there to safeguard the interests of the British and the Americans. They are not there to provide security. It's very clear," the president said.

"The UNSC, the United Nations Security Council, is there to protect the interests of the United States and the British. That's what you say?" Wallace asked.

"It has been created to help with peace and justice. But we see that it is not responding to atrocities. If we search for the root causes we see the hand of the British and the Americans," Ahmadinejad said. "People, innocent people are being killed. … And houses are being destroyed. Where is the UNSC? Also, the draft resolution which has been circulated only serves the interests of one party. And it is not just."

And, he told Wallace the Security Council is also doing America's bidding by trying to prevent Iran from developing nuclear energy. The Security Council is demanding that Iran stop all uranium enrichment by the end of this month, which Iran is refusing to do.

"But if Mr. Bush thinks that he can stop our progress, I have to say that he will be unable to do that," Ahmadinejad said.

Asked to elaborate, the president said: "We want to have access to nuclear technology. We want to produce fuel. Do you not think that the most important issue of the world of tomorrow that is will be energy?

"We think that Mr. Bush's team and the parties that support him want to monopolize energy resources in the world. Because once they have that they can impose their opinions, points of view, policies on other nations and, of course, line their own pockets."

"President Bush said — vowed — he will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. You believe it?" Wallace asked.

"Basically we are not looking for — working for the bomb," the president said. "The problem that President Bush has is in his mind he wants to solve everything with bombs. The time of the bomb is in the past. It's behind us. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges."

But "dialogue and cultural exchanges" don't sound like his policy toward Israel.

"Israel, you have said time and again, Israel must be wiped off the map. Please explain why. And what is Iran doing about that?" Wallace asked.

"Well, allow me to finish with the nuclear dossier first," Ahmadinejad said.

"No, you finished with that. You finished with that. Please," Wallace continued.

"No, it's not finished, sir. It's not finished. We are just beginning," Ahmadinejad said.

"OK, oh!" Wallace replied with a chuckle. "That's what I was afraid of. But go."

"Well, the Americans are overly sensitive. And, of course, the American government. I don't know why they're opposed to Iranian progress," the president said.

Asked if he really believed that the United States is against Iranian progress and development, Ahmadinejad said, "That is true. That is what I am saying."

"You know that's not so," Wallace replied.

President Ahmadinejad then offered an explanation for his theory.

"Before the revolution, the German, French, American government and the Canadian government had signed contracts with us to produce nuclear fuel inside Iran. But immediately after the establishment of the Islamic Republic, their opposition started," he said. "Right now, they are opposed to our nuclear technology. Now why is that?"

The United States is convinced that nuclear energy is just a smokescreen and that what Iran really wants is the bomb. Then Wallace tried to get the president back to his most inflammatory statement regarding Israel.

"You are very good at filibustering," Wallace remarked. "You still have not answered the question. You still have not answered the question. Israel must be wiped off the map. Why?"

"Well, don't be hasty sir," the president said. "I'm going to get to that. I think that the Israeli government is a fabricated government."

"Fabricated" following the Holocaust, which he's said may also have been fabricated.

Last December, Ahmadinejad said the Europeans had created a myth of the Holocaust.

"What I did say was, if this is a reality, if this is real, where did it take place?" Ahmadinejad replied.

"In Germany," Wallace said.

"Who — who caused this in Europe?" Ahmadinejad asked.

"In Europe. If I may … so …what you're suggesting — one moment — what you're suggesting then, that Israel should be over in Germany because that's where the holocaust took place?" Wallace asked.

"I'm not saying that, mind you," the president replied.

But he has said Israel could be moved to Europe, or even to the United States but it shouldn't be in Palestine.

"Well, if an atrocity was committed in Germany or Europe for that matter, why should the Palestinians answer for this?"

the president asked. "They had no role to play in this. Why on the pretext of the Holocaust they have occupied Palestine? Millions of people have been made refugees. Thousands of people to-date have been killed, sir. Thousands of people have been put in prison. Well, at the very moment, a great war is raging because of that."

"Look if you could — if you could keep your answers concise. Concise. I beg you. We'll get more questions in," Wallace requested.

"Well, one of your questions required — all of your questions require a book-long answer. If you want me to just finish the interview, please tell me and we can wrap up right now," the president said.

"No, no, no, no, no," Wallace said.

"Do you, perhaps want me to say what you want me to say?" Ahmadinejad said to Wallace.

"No, no," Wallace insisted.

"If that is the case, then I ask you to please be patient," the president replied. "Maybe these days you don't have a lot of patience to spare. Maybe these are words that you don't like to hear, Mr. Wallace."

"Why? What? What words do I not like to hear?" Wallace asked.

"Because I think that you're getting angry," Ahmadinejad said.

"I couldn't be happier for the privilege of sitting down with the president of Iran," Wallace said.

And with that established, Wallace moved on to the topic of Iraq.

"I am told that your revolutionary guards, Mr. President, are taking bombs, those — those roadside bombs — the IED's into Iraq. And what they are doing is furnishing the insurgents in Iraq with the kind of material that can kill U.S. soldiers. Why would you want to do that?" Wallace asked.

"Well, we are very saddened that the people of Iraq are being killed," Ahmadinejad replied. "I believe that the rulers of the U.S. have to change their mentality. I ask you, sir, what is the American army doing inside Iraq? Iraq has a government, a parliament. Iraq is — has a civilized nation with a long history of civilization. These are people we're dealing with."

Asked if he thinks Saddam Hussein was a civilized, reasonable, leader and whether the United States was wrong about going into Iraq, Ahmadinejad said: "Well, Saddam's story has been finished for close to three years, I would say. He belongs in the past. … And the Americans are openly saying that 'We are here for the long run,' in Iraq that is. So, a question for you, according to international law, the responsibility of providing security rests on the shoulder of the occupying, rather army. So, I ask them why are not — why are they not providing security?"

Instead of security, he says the United States is oppressing Iraq, and instead of calling the United States, "the great Satan," as the Ayatollah Khomeini did, Ahmadinejad calls the United States "the great oppressor."

"We are opposed to oppression," the president told Wallace. "We support whoever is victimized and oppressed even the oppressed people of the U.S."

A senior European diplomat in Tehran told Wallace that Iran's president feels the United States should be confronted in Iraq — and around the world — because he truly believes that the U.S. government is against Islam, and the developing world, that America keeps pushing Iran and other countries around, and he is determined to push back.

The Bush administration paints Iran's president as America's mortal enemy — as a man who wants nuclear weapons and supports Islamic terrorists. For his part, President Ahmadinejad views the United States as his major adversary.

He's the son of a blacksmith; was a commando during the Iran-Iraq war; has a Ph.D. in civil engineering, and became president a year ago by running as a populist man of the people. He is savvy, self-assured and self-righteous, but he rarely gives interviews to American journalists. His last U.S. newspaper interview was six months ago in USA Today.

But he sat down with 60 Minutes because he wanted to speak directly to the American people — and to President Bush.

Asked what he thinks of Mr. Bush, Ahmadinejad replied, "What do you think I should think about the gentlemen? How should I think about him?"

"Come on. Come on. You're perfectly capable of handling that question if you have the courage to answer it," Wallace pushed.

"Well, thank you very much. So, you're teaching me how to be bold and courageous," Ahmadinejad said, laughing. "That's interesting."

"Answer the question," Wallace said.

"I think that Mr. Bush can be in the service of his own people," Ahmadinejad said. "He can save the American economy using appropriate methodologies without killing people, innocents, without occupation, without threats. I am very saddened to hear that 1 percent of the total population is in prison. And 45 million people don't have a health care cover. That is very sad to hear."

And he was sad also not to hear any answer from President Bush to an 18-page letter he sent three months ago, urging him to be less bellicose in his view of the world. The White House dismissed the letter as a publicity stunt.

Asked what he expected to hear back from President Bush, Ahmadinejad said: "I was expecting Mr. Bush to give up or, I should say, to change his behavior. I was hoping to open a new window for the gentlemen. One can certainly look on the world from other perspectives. You can love the people. You can love all people. You can talk with the people of the Middle East using another language, other words. Instead of blind support for an imposed regime, they can establish a more appropriate relationship with the people of the region."

"You can love the people. That's very easy to say," Wallace remarked. "You despise certain people. You despise the Zionists."

"Well, I don't despise people or individuals, I should say," Ahmadinejad said.

Pushed further on Zionists, the president said, "What I am saying is that I despise heinous action."

And as for his letter to Mr. Bush.

"In the letter you praise Jesus and ask President Bush how he could be a follower of Christ and claim to support human rights but at the same time attack and occupy other countries, kill thousands of people, spend billions of dollars on wars. And you urged him, the president, out of respect for the teachings of Christ to be a force for peace instead of war. How is that so?" Wallace asked.

"That is true, which was a part of my letter," Ahmadinejad acknowledged.

And then he had a new message for President Bush: "Please give him this message, sir. Those who refuse to accept an invitation to good will not have a good ending or fate."

Asked what that means, Ahmadinejad said: "Well, you see that his approval rating is dropping everyday. Hatred vis-à-vis the president is increasing everyday around the world. For a ruler, this is the worst message that he could receive. Rulers and heads of government at the end of their office must leave the office holding their heads high."

After Ahmadinejad answered the question, an assistant handed the president a note. Asked what he was telling him, Ahmadinejad said he had been told to rearrange his jacket.

"Why are they worried about your jacket? I think you look just fine," Wallace said, laughing.

"That is right. They have told me the same thing. They tell me that it's a very nice looking coat," Ahmadinejad replied.

Asked if he is a vain man, Ahmadinejad said, "Sometimes appearances — yes, you have to look your back… that is why I comb my hair."

"What do you do for leisure?" Wallace asked.

"I study. I read books. I exercise. And, of course, I spend some time — quality time — with my family," said Ahmadinejad, who is a father of three.

"How long has it been since the leaders of Iran and the leaders of the U.S. have had any conversations?" Wallace asked.

"Twenty-six, 27 years," the president replied.

Asked if he has a desire to resume relations with the United States, Ahmadinejad said, "Who cut the relations, I ask you."

"That's not the point. The question is would you, the president of Iran, like to resume relations which have been gone for 26, 27 years with the United States," Wallace pressed.

"Well, we are interested to have relations with all governments … and all nations. This is a principle of my foreign policy," Ahmadinejad said.

"I know that," Wallace said.

"Allow me to finish myself," Ahmadinejad said.

"Why don't you just answer, say yes or no?" Wallace asked. "Do you want to have relations now, after 26, 27 years, with the United States? What harm could come from that?"

"We are not talking about harm. The conditions, conducive conditions, have to be there," Ahmadinejad said.

Asked what those "conducive conditions" are, the president said, "Well, please look at the makeup of the American administration, the behavior of the American administration. See how they talk down to my nation. They want to build an empire. And they don't want to live side by side in peace with other nations."

"Who does not? Washington does not?" Wallace asked.

"The American government, sir. It is very clear to me they have to change their behavior and everything will be resolved," Ahmadinejad answered.

"I am told that your aides want us to wind up our interview. But you kindly promised to answer my questions," Wallace said. "And I still have just a few left."

"Well, you might have five more hours of questions now," Ahmadinejad said. "Well, I have other appointments to get to. It's time for the night prayer, sir."

"Last one," Wallace said. "You have a special unit of martyr seekers in your revolutionary guard. They claim they have 52,000 trained suicide bombers ready to attack American and British targets if America should attack Iran."

"So, are you expecting the Americans to threaten us and we sit idly by and watch them with our hands … tied?"
Ahmadinejad said.

Asked if the Americans have threatened him, Ahmadinejad said: "I do hope that the Americans will give up this practice of threatening other nations so that you are not forced me to ask such questions. I wish you well."


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Are You Being Manipulated
By The "Delphi Technique" ?

Are Your School Boards, Civic Associations, and Local Governments Manipulating You?

How the "Delphi Technique" is leading us away from representative government to an illusion of citizen participation.

How To Fight This Unethical Change in the American Political Process.

August 12, 2006

The "Delphi Technique" being used by US Congressman, if you recently attended the meeting held by Congressman Joe Wilson, or if you plan to attend other such meetings, you will benefit from a study of The "Delphi Technique".

Attendees were told to write their questions on a card and pass them to the front. The "facilitator" could be SEEN shuffling through the cards, PICKING OUT THE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS THAT WOULD BE HEARD.

Anyone who spoke was silenced with the admonition to "write their questions on a card and pass them to the front." Most of those silenced, in this manner, had ALREADY written their questions on a card and passed them to the front, but were frustrated THAT THE QUESTIONS WERE IGNORED.

This technique is being used more and more at a lower levels of govt., town meetings, civic associations, city council meetings, school boards, and political forums.

If you've paid attention to Columbus Ohio politics you would have noticed that this technique is now being used in Columbus City Council and Columbus School Board Meetings.


Using the Delphi Technique to Achieve Consensus

How it is leading us away from representative government to an illusion of citizen participation

The Delphi Technique and consensus building are both founded in the same principle - the Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, with synthesis becoming the new thesis.

The goal is a continual evolution to "oneness of mind" (consensus means solidarity of belief) -the collective mind, the wholistic society, the wholistic earth, etc. In thesis and antithesis, opinions or views are presented on a subject to establish views and opposing views. In synthesis, opposites are brought together to form the new thesis. All participants in the process are then to accept ownership of the new thesis and support it, changing their views to align with the new thesis. Through a continual process of evolution, "oneness of mind" will supposedly occur.

In group settings, the Delphi Technique is an unethical method of achieving consensus on controversial topics.

It requires well-trained professionals, known as "facilitators" or "change agents," who deliberately escalate tension among group members, pitting one faction against another to make a preordained viewpoint appear "sensible," while making opposing views appear ridiculous.

In her book Educating for the New World Order, author and educator Beverly Eakman makes numerous references to the need of those in power to preserve the illusion that there is "community participation in decision-making processes, while in fact lay citizens are being squeezed out."

The setting or type of group is immaterial for the success of the technique. The point is that, when people are in groups that tend to share a particular knowledge base, they display certain identifiable characteristics, known as group dynamics, which allows the facilitator to apply the basic strategy.

The facilitators or change agents encourage each person in a group to express concerns about the programs, projects, or policies in question. They listen attentively, elicit input from group members, form "task forces," urge participants to make lists, and in going through these motions, learn about each member of a group. They are trained to identify the "leaders," the "loud mouths," the "weak or non-committal members," and those who are apt to change sides frequently during an argument.

Suddenly, the amiable facilitators become professional agitators and "devil's advocates." Using the "divide and conquer" principle, they manipulate one opinion against another, making those who are out of step appear "ridiculous, unknowledgeable, inarticulate, or dogmatic."

They attempt to anger certain participants, thereby accelerating tensions. The facilitators are well trained in psychological manipulation. They are able to predict the reactions of each member in a group. Individuals in opposition to the desired policy or program will be shut out.

The Delphi Technique works.

It is very effective with parents, teachers, school children, and community groups.

The "targets" rarely, if ever, realize that they are being manipulated. If they do suspect what is happening, they do not know how to end the process. The facilitator seeks to polarize the group in order to become an accepted member of the group and of the process. The desired idea is then placed on the table and individual opinions are sought during discussion. Soon, associates from the divided group begin to adopt the idea as if it were their own, and they pressure the entire group to accept their proposition.

How the Delphi Technique Works

Consistent use of this technique to control public participation in our political system is causing alarm among people who cherish the form of government established by our Founding Fathers.

Efforts in education and other areas have brought the emerging picture into focus.

In the not-too-distant past, the city of Spokane, in Washington state, hired a consultant to the tune of $47,000 to facilitate the direction of city government. This development brought a hue and cry from the local population. The ensuing course of action holds an eerie similarity to what is happening in education reform.

A newspaper editorial described how groups of disenfranchised citizens were brought together to "discuss" what they felt needed to be changed at the local government level. A compilation of the outcomes of those "discussions" influenced the writing of the city/county charter.

That sounds innocuous. But what actually happened in Spokane is happening in communities and school districts all across the country. Let's review the process that occurs in these meetings.

First, a facilitator is hired.
While his job is supposedly neutral and non-judgmental, the opposite is actually true. The facilitator is there to direct the meeting to a preset conclusion.

The facilitator begins by working the crowd to establish a good-guy-bad-guy scenario.
Anyone disagreeing with the facilitator must be made to appear as the bad guy, with the facilitator appearing as the good guy. To accomplish this, the facilitator seeks out those who disagree and makes them look foolish, inept, or aggressive, which sends a clear message to the rest of the audience that, if hey don't want the same treatment, they must keep quiet. When the opposition has been identified and alienated, the facilitator becomes the good guy - a friend - and the agenda and direction of the meeting are established without the audience ever realizing what has happened.

Next, the attendees are broken up into smaller groups of seven or eight people. Each group has its own facilitator. The group facilitators steer participants to discuss preset issues, employing the same tactics as the lead facilitator.

Participants are encouraged to put their ideas and disagreements on paper, with the results to be compiled later.

Who does the compiling?

If you ask participants, you typically hear: "Those running the meeting compiled the results."

Oh-h! The next question is: "How do you know that what you wrote on your sheet of paper was incorporated into the final outcome?"

The typical answer is: "Well, I've wondered about that, because what I wrote doesn't seem to be reflected. I guess my views were in the minority."

That is the crux of the situation. If 50 people write down their ideas individually, to be compiled later into a final outcome, no one knows what anyone else has written. That the final outcome of such a meeting reflects anyone's input at all is highly questionable, and the same holds true when the facilitator records the group's comments on paper. But participants in these types of meetings usually don't question the process.

Why hold such meetings at all if the outcomes are already established?

The answer is because it is imperative for the acceptance of the School-to-Work agenda, or the environmental agenda, or whatever the agenda, that ordinary people assume ownership of the preset outcomes. If people believe an idea is theirs, they'll support it. If they believe an idea is being forced on them, they'll resist.

The Delphi Technique is being used very effectively to change our government from a representative form in which elected individuals represent the people, to a "participatory democracy" in which citizens selected at large are facilitated into ownership of preset outcomes.

These citizens believe that their input is important to the result, whereas the reality is that the outcome was already established by people not apparent to the participants.

How to Diffuse the Delphi Technique

Three steps can diffuse the Delphi Technique as facilitators attempt to steer a meeting in a specific direction.

1)-Always be charming, courteous, and pleasant. Smile. Moderate your voice so as not to come across as belligerent or aggressive.

2)-Stay focused. If possible, jot down your thoughts or questions.

When facilitators are asked questions they don't want to answer, they often digress from the issue that was raised and try instead to put the questioner on the defensive.

Do not fall for this tactic

Courteously bring the facilitator back to your original question. If he rephrases it so that it becomes an accusatory statement (a popular tactic), simply say, "That is not what I asked. What I asked was . . ." and repeat your question.

3)-Be persistent.

If putting you on the defensive doesn't work, facilitators often resort to long monologues that drag on for several minutes. During that time, the group usually forgets the question that was asked, which is the intent.

Let the facilitator finish.

Then with polite persistence state: "But you didn't answer my question. My question was . . ." and repeat your question.

Never become angry under any circumstances. Anger directed at the facilitator will immediately make the facilitator the victim. This defeats the purpose.

The goal of facilitators is to make the majority of the group members like them, and to alienate anyone who might pose a threat to the realization of their agenda.
People with firm, fixed beliefs, who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, are obvious threats. If a participant becomes a victim, the facilitator loses face and favor with the crowd. This is why crowds are broken up into groups of seven or eight, and why objections are written on paper rather than voiced aloud where they can be open to public discussion and debate.

It's called crowd control.

At a meeting, have two or three people who know the Delphi Technique dispersed through the crowd so that, when the facilitator digresses from a question, they can stand up and politely say: "But you didn't answer that lady/gentleman's question." Even if the facilitator suspects certain group members are working together, he will not want to alienate the crowd by making accusations.

Occasionally, it takes only one incident of this type for the crowd to figure out what's going on.

Establish a plan of action before a meeting.

Everyone on your team should know his part. Later, analyze what went right, what went wrong and why, and what needs to happen the next time.

Never strategize during a meeting.

A popular tactic of facilitators, if a session is meeting with resistance, is to call a recess.

During the recess, the facilitator and his spotters (people who observe the crowd during the course of a meeting) watch the crowd to see who congregates where, especially those who have offered resistance. If the resistors congregate in one place, a spotter will gravitate to that group and join in the conversation, reporting what was said to the facilitator. When the meeting resumes, the facilitator will steer clear of the resistors. Do not congregate. Instead gravitate to where the facilitators or spotters are.

Stay away from your team members.

This strategy also works in a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting with anyone trained to use the Delphi Technique.

Lynn Stuter is an education researcher in Washington state.
Her web site address is

The Delphi technique was developed by the RAND Corporation in the late 1960's originally as a forecasting methodology.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Arrests tied to terrorism

By Brad Bauer
Marietta Times
August 9, 2006

TracFones being bought in bulk at area retail stores are suspected of being shipped overseas and used to detonate roadside bombs, officials said.

On Wednesday, two men suspected of having ties to terrorism were arrested in Marietta after purchasing several phones at area stores.

The two men, Osma Sabhi Abulhassan, 20, and Ali Houssaiky, 20, both of Dearborn, Mich., admitted to buying more than 600 phones in the Mid-Ohio Valley over the past few weeks. Several of the pay-as-you-go cell phones and $11,000 in cash were found during a search of their vehicle. The men are being held in the Washington County Jail, each charged with obstructing official business.

Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said initially the men lied about their reasons for purchasing the phones, which led to the charges.

Abulhassan and Houssaiky are expected to appear for an arraignment this morning in Marietta Municipal Court.

"Eventually they indicated they would sell the chips inside the phones to another individual in the Dearborn, Mich., area for $5 more than they pay for the phone," Mincks said.

Maj. John Winstanley said the sheriff's office has received notices from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warning individuals are purchasing the phones for terror related activity.

"It's their belief that they send these TracFones overseas, and they use (the chips) against the troops, detonating bombs," Winstanley said.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have been notified and are assisting in the investigation, Winstanley said..

Local officials have since learned the individual buying the chips in Dearborn is the subject of an open FBI case.

In addition to Marietta stores, Mincks said Abulhassan and Houssaiky had recently purchased phones in Barlow, St. Clairsville and Woodsfield.

The sheriff's office was notified of the situation around 2 p.m. Tuesday by RadioShack employees. Workers at the Marietta store said Abulhassan and Houssaiky were acting suspicious and that they refused to give their names when attempting to purchase nine of the phones.

Officers responded and stopped their vehicle after a minor traffic violation, Mincks said. A total of 12 cell phones and $11,000 in cash were found inside the vehicle.

Winstanley said the men had a map marking Wal-Mart locations from Dearborn through Marietta and on to Charlotte, N.C., and South Carolina..

Mincks said Dearborn has a large Lebanese population and has been the site of pro-Hezballoh rallies recently. He said the department was not profiling, but admitted that because of the suspects' descent the incident "caused a bit of a stir."

Buying and possessing the phones was not illegal, Winstanley said; it was the suspects' dishonesty with officers and the possible connection to a terrorist act that led to their arrests on the misdemeanor charges.

A drug dog also indicated the presence of marijuana in the car, Winstanley said. One of the men indicated he had smoked marijuana during the drive to the area, but no drug-related charges have been filed, officials said.

Suspicious cell phone purchases have been reported in the area before, but Tuesday was the first time deputies have caught someone in the act.

"They come and go pretty fast," Winstanley said.

Parkersburg police Chief Gerald Board said his department also has received notifications from federal authorities to be on the lookout for suspicious cell phone purchases.

Board said there have been two incidents in recent months in which a large number of cell phones were bought at area stores. He said 45 phones were purchased from one store and 25 from another, but he declined to name the stores.

"We got names, which I can't reveal, and passed the information on to federal authorities," Board said.

Mincks said he does not want stores to stop selling the phones, but advised workers to watch for suspicious purchases and notify authorities.

Reporters Evan Bevins and Roger Adkins contributed to this story.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes

There is an audio component to the article t. Please go to the original for full audio with this article.

Vanity Fair Audio

By Michael Bronner
Vanity Fair
August 2006 Issue

How did the U.S. Air Force respond on 9/11? Could it have shot down United 93, as conspiracy theorists claim? Obtaining 30 hours of never-before-released tapes from the control room of NORAD's Northeast headquarters, the author reconstructs the chaotic military history of that day - and the Pentagon's apparent attempt to cover it up. exclusive: Hear excerpts from the September 11 NORAD tapes. Click PLAY after each transcript to listen.

Tucked in a piney notch in the gentle folds of the Adirondacks' southern skirts - just up from a derelict Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern rail spur - is a 22-year-old aluminum bunker tricked out with antennae tilted skyward. It could pass for the Jetsons' garage or, in the estimation of one of the higher-ranking U.S. Air Force officers stationed there, a big, sideways, half-buried beer keg.

As Major Kevin Nasypany, the facility's mission-crew commander, drove up the hill to work on the morning of 9/11, he was dressed in his flight suit and prepared for battle. Not a real one. The Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), where Nasypany had been stationed since 1994, is the regional headquarters for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Cold War - era military organization charged with protecting North American airspace. As he poured his first coffee on that sunny September morning, the odds that he would have to defend against Russian "Bear Bombers," one of NORAD's traditional simulated missions, were slim. Rather, Nasypany (pronounced Nah-sip-a-nee), an amiable commander with a thick mini-mustache and a hockey player's build, was headed in early to get ready for the NORAD-wide training exercise he'd helped design.

The battle commander, Colonel Bob Marr, had promised to bring in fritters.

NEADS is a desolate place, the sole orphan left behind after the dismantling of what was once one of the country's busiest bomber bases - Griffiss Air Force Base, in Rome, New York, which was otherwise mothballed in the mid-90s. NEADS's mission remained in place and continues today: its officers, air-traffic controllers, and air-surveillance and communications technicians - mostly American, with a handful of Canadian troops - are responsible for protecting a half-million-square-mile chunk of American airspace stretching from the East Coast to Tennessee, up through the Dakotas to the Canadian border, including Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

It was into this airspace that violence descended on 9/11, and from the NEADS operations floor that what turned out to be the sum total of America's military response during those critical 100-some minutes of the attack - scrambling four armed fighter jets and one unarmed training plane - emanated.

The story of what happened in that room, and when, has never been fully told, but is arguably more important in terms of understanding America's military capabilities that day than anything happening simultaneously on Air Force One or in the Pentagon, the White House, or NORAD's impregnable headquarters, deep within Cheyenne Mountain, in Colorado. It's a story that was intentionally obscured, some members of the 9/11 commission believe, by military higher-ups and members of the Bush administration who spoke to the press, and later the commission itself, in order to downplay the extent of the confusion and miscommunication flying through the ranks of the government.

The truth, however, is all on tape.

Through the heat of the attack the wheels of what were, perhaps, some of the more modern pieces of equipment in the room - four Dictaphone multi-channel reel-to-reel tape recorders mounted on a rack in a corner of the operations floor - spun impassively, recording every radio channel, with time stamps.

The recordings are fascinating and chilling. A mix of staccato bursts of military code; urgent, overlapping voices; the tense crackle of radio traffic from fighter pilots in the air; commanders' orders piercing through a mounting din; and candid moments of emotion as the breadth of the attacks becomes clearer.

For the NEADS crew, 9/11 was not a story of four hijacked airplanes, but one of a heated chase after more than a dozen potential hijackings - some real, some phantom - that emerged from the turbulence of misinformation that spiked in the first 100 minutes of the attack and continued well into the afternoon and evening. At one point, in the span of a single mad minute, one hears Nasypany struggling to parse reports of four separate hijackings at once. What emerges from the barrage of what Nasypany dubs "bad poop" flying at his troops from all directions is a picture of remarkable composure. Snap decisions more often than not turn out to be the right ones as commanders kick-start the dormant military machine. It is the fog and friction of war live - the authentic military history of 9/11.

"The real story is actually better than the one we told," a NORAD general admitted to 9/11-commission staffers when confronted with evidence from the tapes that contradicted his original testimony. And so it seems.

Subpoenaed by the commission during its investigation, the recordings have never been played publicly beyond a handful of sound bites presented during the commission's hearings. Last September, as part of my research for the film United 93, on which I was an associate producer, I requested copies from the Pentagon. I was played snippets, but told my chances of hearing the full recordings were nonexistent. So it was a surprise, to say the least, when a military public-affairs officer e-mailed me, a full seven months later, saying she'd been cleared, finally, to provide them.

"The signing of the Declaration of Independence took less coordination," she wrote.

I would ultimately get three CDs with huge digital "wav file" recordings of the various channels in each section of the operations floor, 30-some hours of material in full, covering six and a half hours of real time. The first disc, which arrived by mail, was decorated with blue sky and fluffy white clouds and was labeled, in the playful Apple Chancery font, "Northeast Air Defense Sector - DAT Audio Files - 11 Sep 2001."

"This Is Not an Exercise"

At 8:14 a.m., as an Egyptian and four Saudis commandeered the cockpit on American 11, the plane that would hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, only a handful of troops were on the NEADS "ops" floor. That's the facility's war room: a dimly lit den arrayed with long rows of radarscopes and communications equipment facing a series of 15-foot screens lining the front wall. The rest of the crew, about 30 Americans and five or six Canadians, were checking e-mails or milling around the hall. A briefing on the morning's training exercise was wrapping up in the Battle Cab, the glassed-in command area overlooking the ops floor.

On the Dictaphone decks, an automated voice on each channel ticked off, in Greenwich Mean Time, the last few moments of life in pre-9/11 America: "12 hours, 26 minutes, 20 seconds" - just before 8:30 a.m. eastern daylight time.

The first human voices captured on tape that morning are those of the "ID techs" - Senior Airman Stacia Rountree, 23 at the time, Tech Sergeant Shelley Watson, 40, and their boss, Master Sergeant Maureen "Mo" Dooley, 40. They are stationed in the back right corner of the ops floor at a console with several phones and a radarscope. Their job in a crisis is to facilitate communications between NEADS, the civilian F.A.A., and other military commands, gathering whatever information they can and sending it up the chain. Dooley - her personality at once motherly and aggressive - generally stands behind the other two, who are seated.

The tapes catch them discussing strategy of an entirely domestic order:

O.K., a couch, an ottoman, a love seat, and what else … ? Was it on sale … ? Holy smokes! What color is it?

In the background, however, you can make out the sound of Jeremy Powell, then 31, a burly, amiable technical sergeant, fielding the phone call that will be the military's first notification that something is wrong. On the line is Boston Center, the civilian air-traffic-control facility that handles that region's high-flying airliners.

BOSTON CENTER: Hi. Boston Center T.M.U. [Traffic Management Unit], we have a problem here. We have a hijacked aircraft headed towards New York, and we need you guys to, we need someone to scramble some F-16s or something up there, help us out. POWELL: Is this real-world or exercise? BOSTON CENTER: No, this is not an exercise, not a test.


Powell's question - "Is this real-world or exercise?" - is heard nearly verbatim over and over on the tapes as troops funnel onto the ops floor and are briefed about the hijacking. Powell, like almost everyone in the room, first assumes the phone call is from the simulations team on hand to send "inputs" - simulated scenarios - into play for the day's training exercise.

Boston's request for fighter jets is not as prescient as it might seem. Standard hijack protocol calls for fighters to be launched - "scrambled" - merely to establish a presence in the air. The pilots are trained to trail the hijacked plane at a distance of about five miles, out of sight, following it until, presumably, it lands. If necessary, they can show themselves, flying up close to establish visual contact, and, if the situation demands, maneuver to force the plane to land.

At this point, certainly, the notion of actually firing anything at a passenger jet hasn't crossed anyone's mind.

In the ID section, the women overhear the word "hijack" and react, innocently enough, as anyone might with news of something exciting going on at work:

WATSON: What? DOOLEY: Whoa! WATSON: What was that? ROUNTREE: Is that real-world? DOOLEY: Real-world hijack. WATSON: Cool!


For the first time in their careers, they'll get to put their training to full use.

Almost simultaneously, a P.A. announcement goes out for Major Nasypany, who's taking his morning constitutional.

P.A.: Major Nasypany, you're needed in ops pronto. P.A.: Major Nasypany, you're needed in ops pronto.[Recorded phone line:] SERGEANT MCCAIN: Northeast Air Defense Sector, Sergeant McCain, can I help you? SERGEANT KELLY: Yeah, Sergeant Kelly from Otis, how you doing today? SERGEANT MCCAIN: Yeah, go ahead. SERGEANT KELLY: The - I'm gettin' reports from my TRACON [local civilian air traffic] that there might be a possible hijacking. SERGEANT MCCAIN: I was just hearing the same thing. We're workin' it right now.



"When they told me there was a hijack, my first reaction was 'Somebody started the exercise early,'" Nasypany later told me. The day's exercise was designed to run a range of scenarios, including a "traditional" simulated hijack in which politically motivated perpetrators commandeer an aircraft, land on a Cuba-like island, and seek asylum. "I actually said out loud, 'The hijack's not supposed to be for another hour,'" Nasypany recalled. (The fact that there was an exercise planned for the same day as the attack factors into several conspiracy theories, though the 9/11 commission dismisses this as coincidence. After plodding through dozens of hours of recordings, so do I.)

On tape, one hears as Nasypany, following standard hijack protocol, prepares to launch two fighters from Otis Air National Guard Base, on Cape Cod, to look for American 11, which is now off course and headed south. He orders his Weapons Team - the group on the ops floor that controls the fighters - to put the Otis planes on "battle stations." This means that at the air base the designated "alert" pilots - two in this case - are jolted into action by a piercing "battle horn." They run to their jets, climb up, strap in, and do everything they need to do to get ready to fly short of starting the engines.

Meanwhile, the communications team at NEADS - the ID techs Dooley, Rountree, and Watson - are trying to find out, as fast as possible, everything they can about the hijacked plane: the airline, the flight number, the tail number (to help fighter pilots identify it in the air), its flight plan, the number of passengers ("souls on board" in military parlance), and, most important, where it is, so Nasypany can launch the fighters. All the ID section knows is that the plane is American Airlines, Flight No. 11, Boston to Los Angeles, currently somewhere north of John F. Kennedy International Airport - the point of reference used by civilian controllers.

ID tech Watson places a call to the management desk at Boston Center, which first alerted NEADS to the hijack, and gets distressing news.

WATSON: It's the inbound to J.F.K.? BOSTON CENTER: We - we don't know. WATSON: You don't know where he is at all? BOSTON CENTER: He's being hijacked. The pilot's having a hard time talking to the - I mean, we don't know. We don't know where he's goin'. He's heading towards Kennedy. He's - like I said, he's like 35 miles north of Kennedy now at 367 knots. We have no idea where he's goin' or what his intentions are. WATSON: If you could please give us a call and let us know - you know any information, that'd be great. BOSTON CENTER: Okay. Right now, I guess we're trying to work on - I guess there's been some threats in the cockpit. The pilot - WATSON: There's been what?! I'm sorry. UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Threat to the … ? BOSTON CENTER: We'll call you right back as soon as we know more info.

Dooley is standing over Watson, shouting whatever pertinent information she hears to Nasypany, who's now in position in the center of the floor.

DOOLEY: O.K., he said threat to the cockpit!


This last bit ratchets the tension in the room up considerably.

At Otis Air National Guard Base, the pilots are in their jets, straining at the reins. ("When the horn goes off, it definitely gets your heart," F-15 pilot Major Dan Nash later told me, thumping his chest with his hand.) But at NEADS, Nasypany's "tracker techs" in the Surveillance section still can't find American 11 on their scopes. As it turns out, this is just as the hijackers intended.

Radar is the NEADS controllers' most vital piece of equipment, but by 9/11 the scopes were so old, among other factors, that controllers were ultimately unable to find any of the hijacked planes in enough time to react. Known collectively as the Green Eye for the glow the radar rings give off, the scopes looked like something out of Dr. Strangelove and were strikingly anachronistic compared with the equipment at civilian air-traffic sites. (After 9/11, NEADS was equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.)

In order to find a hijacked airliner - or any airplane - military controllers need either the plane's beacon code (broadcast from an electronic transponder on board) or the plane's exact coordinates. When the hijackers on American 11 turned the beacon off, intentionally losing themselves in the dense sea of airplanes already flying over the U.S. that morning (a tactic that would be repeated, with some variations, on all the hijacked flights), the NEADS controllers were at a loss.

"You would see thousands of green blips on your scope," Nasypany told me, "and now you have to pick and choose. Which is the bad guy out there? Which is the hijacked aircraft? And without that information from F.A.A., it's a needle in a haystack."

At this point in the morning, more than 3,000 jetliners are already in the air over the continental United States, and the Boston controller's direction - "35 miles north of Kennedy" - doesn't help the NEADS controllers at all.

On tape, amid the confusion, one hears Major James Fox, then 32, the leader of the Weapons Team, whose composure will stand out throughout the attack, make an observation that, so far, ranks as the understatement of the morning.

08:43:06 FOX: I've never seen so much real-world stuff happen during an exercise.


Less than two minutes later, frustrated that the controllers still can't pinpoint American 11 on radar, Nasypany orders Fox to launch the Otis fighters anyway.

FOX: M.C.C. [Mission Crew Commander], I don't know where I'm scrambling these guys to. I need a direction, a destination - NASYPANY: O.K., I'm gonna give you the Z point [coordinate]. It's just north of - New York City.FOX: I got this lat long, 41-15, 74-36, or 73-46. NASYPANY: Head 'em in that direction.FOX: Copy that.


Having them up, Nasypany figures, is better than having them on the ground, assuming NEADS will ultimately pin down American 11's position. His job is to be proactive - to try to gain leverage over the situation as fast as possible. His backstop is Colonel Marr, the battle commander and Nasypany's superior up in the Battle Cab, whose role is more strategic, calculating the implications of each move several hours down the line.

Marr, 48 at the time (and since retired), is a well-liked leader. Most of his conversations on 9/11 are unrecorded: he speaks over a secure phone with his superior, Major General Larry Arnold, stationed at NORAD's command center at Tyndall Air Force Base, in Florida, or over an intercom with Nasypany. In the latter case, only Nasypany's side of the conversations is recorded.

In the last lines of his first briefing to Marr, Nasypany unwittingly, in his last line, trumps Fox in the realm of understatement.

NASYPANY: Hi, sir. O.K., what - what we're doing, we're tryin' to locate this guy. We can't find him via I.F.F. [the Identification Friend or Foe system]. What we're gonna do, we're gonna hit up every track within a 25-mile radius of this Z-point [coordinate] that we put on the scope. Twenty-nine thousand [feet] heading 1-9-0 [east]. We're just gonna do - we're gonna try to find this guy. They can't find him. There's supposedly been threats to the cockpit. So we're just doing the thing … [off-mic conversation] True. And probably right now with what's going on in the cockpit it's probably really crazy. So, it probably needs to - that will simmer down and we'll probably get some better information.


American 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center four seconds into this transmission.

More than 150 miles from Manhattan, within the same minute as American 11 hits the tower, the stoplight in the Alert Barn at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod turns from red to green, Colonel Marr and General Arnold having approved Nasypany's order to scramble the fighters. The pilots taxi out and fire the afterburners as the planes swing onto the runway.

NEADS has no indication yet that American 11 has crashed.

Five minutes later, Rountree, at the ID station, gets the first report of the crash from Boston Center (as her colleagues Watson and Dooley overhear).

ROUNTREE: A plane just hit the World Trade Center. WATSON: What? ROUNTREE: Was it a 737? UNIDENTIFIED MALE (background): Hit what? WATSON: The World Trade Center - DOOLEY: Who are you talking to? [Gasps.] WATSON: Oh! DOOLEY: Get - pass - pass it to them - WATSON: Oh my God. Oh God. Oh my God. ROUNTREE: Saw it on the news. It's - a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. DOOLEY: Update New York! See if they lost altitude on that plane altogether.

Watson places a call to civilian controllers at New York Center.

WATSON: Yes, ma'am. Did you just hear the information regarding the World Trade Center?

NEW YORK CENTER: No. WATSON: Being hit by an aircraft? NEW YORK CENTER: I'm sorry?! WATSON: Being hit by an aircraft. NEW YORK CENTER: You're kidding. WATSON: It's on the world news.


In light of this news, someone asks Nasypany what to do with the fighters - the two F-15s from Otis Air National Guard Base - which have now just blasted off for New York at full afterburner to find American 11. (The flying time at full speed from Cape Cod to New York is about 10 minutes.) Pumped with adrenaline, Nasypany doesn't miss a beat.

NASYPANY: Send 'em to New York City still. Continue! Go! NASYPANY: This is what I got. Possible news that a 737 just hit the World Trade Center. This is a real-world. And we're trying to confirm this. Okay. Continue taking the fighters down to the New York City area, J.F.K. area, if you can. Make sure that the F.A.A. clears it - your route all the way through. Do what we gotta do, okay? Let's press with this. It looks like this guy could have hit the World Trade Center.


"I'm not gonna stop what I initially started with scrambling Otis - getting Otis over New York City," Nasypany recalled when I played him this section of his tape. "If this is a false report, I still have my fighters where I want them to be."

Meanwhile, confusion is building on the ops floor over whether the plane that hit the tower really was American 11. Rumors that it was a small Cessna have started to circulate through the civilian air-traffic system. ID tech Rountree is on the phone with Boston Center's military liaison, Colin Scoggins, a civilian manager, who at first seems to confirm that it was American 11 that went into the tower.

BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): Yeah, he crashed into the World Trade Center.

ROUNTREE: That is the aircraft that crashed into the World Trade Center? BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): Yup. Disregard the - disregard the tail number [given earlier for American 11].

ROUNTREE: Disregard the tail number? He did crash into the World Trade Center? BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): That's - that's what we believe, yes.


But an unidentified male trooper at NEADS overhears the exchange and raises a red flag.

MALE NEADS TECH: I never heard them say American Airlines Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center. I heard it was a civilian aircraft.

Dooley, the ID desk's master sergeant, takes the phone from Rountree to confirm for herself, and the story veers off course …

DOOLEY (to Boston): Master Sergeant Dooley here. We need to have - are you giving confirmation that American 11 was the one - BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): No, we're not gonna confirm that at this time. We just know an aircraft crashed in and … DOOLEY: You - are you - can you say - is anyone up there tracking primary on this guy still? BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): No. The last [radar sighting] we have was about 15 miles east of J.F.K., or eight miles east of J.F.K. was our last primary hit. He did slow down in speed. The primary that we had, it slowed down below - around to 300 knots.DOOLEY: And then you lost 'em? BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): Yeah, and then we lost 'em.


The problem, Scoggins told me later, was that American Airlines refused to confirm for several hours that its plane had hit the tower. This lack of confirmation caused uncertainty that would be compounded in a very big way as the attack continued. (Though airlines have their own means of monitoring the location of their planes and communicating with their pilots, they routinely go into information lockdown in a crisis.)

Amid the chaos, Nasypany notices that some of his people are beginning to panic, so he makes a joke to relieve the tension.

NASYPANY: Think we put the exercise on the hold. What do you think? [Laughter.]

Just at that moment, in one of the dark, U-shaped air-traffic-control areas at New York Center, on Long Island, a half-dozen civilian controllers are watching a second plane that's turned off course: United 175, also scheduled from Boston to Los Angeles. As the controllers try to hail the pilots, a manager comes running in and confirms that the plane that hit the first tower was, indeed, a commercial airliner, rather than a small Cessna. It's just at that moment that United 175, 38 minutes into its flight and now near Allentown, Pennsylvania, moving southwest farther and farther off course, makes a sudden swing northeast toward Manhattan. Suddenly - instinctively - the civilian controllers know: it's another hijacking, and it's not going to land.

The controllers start speculating what the hijacker is aiming at - one guesses the Statue of Liberty - and the room erupts in profanity and horror. One controller is looking at his scope, calling out the rate of descent every 12 seconds as he watches the radar refresh. It is not until the last second, literally, that anyone from New York Center thinks to update NEADS. ID tech Rountree fields the call.

ROUNTREE: They have a second possible hijack!


Almost simultaneously, United 175 slams into the south tower of the World Trade Center, something several NEADS personnel witness live on CNN, including Colonel Marr, the commanding officer. (Dooley told me she remembers looking up toward the Battle Cab and, for a long moment, seeing Marr's jaw drop and everyone around him frozen.)

On the ops floor, there is considerable confusion as to whether the second hijacking New York Center just called in is the same plane that hit the second tower, or whether there are now three missing planes.

NASYPANY (to Marr): Sir, we got - we've got unconfirmed second hit from another aircraft. Fighters are south of - just south of Long Island, sir. Right now. Fighters are south of Long Island.

There's seemingly enough commotion in the Battle Cab that Nasypany needs to clarify: "Our fighters … " The two F-15s, scrambled from Otis, are now approaching the city.

In the background, several troops can be heard trying to make sense of what's happening.

Is this explosion part of that that we're lookin' at now on TV? - Yes. - Jesus … - And there's a possible second hijack also - a United Airlines … - Two planes?… - Get the fuck out … - I think this is a damn input, to be honest.


The last line - "I think this is a damn input" - is a reference to the exercise, meaning a simulations input. It's either gallows humor or wishful thinking. From the tape, it's hard to tell.

"We've Already Had Two. Why Not More?"

Meanwhile, flying southwest over the ocean, the two fighters from Otis Air National Guard Base are streaking toward Manhattan. The pilots are startled, to say the least, when they see billowing smoke appear on the horizon; no one's briefed them about what's going on. They were scrambled simply to intercept and escort American 11 - a possible hijacking - and that is all they know.

"From 100 miles away at least, we could see the fire and the smoke blowing," Major Dan Nash, one of the F-15 pilots, told me. "Obviously, anybody watching CNN had a better idea of what was going on. We were not told anything. It was to the point where we were flying supersonic towards New York and the controller came on and said, 'A second airplane has hit the World Trade Center.' … My first thought was 'What happened to American 11?'"

With both towers now in flames, Nasypany wants the fighters over Manhattan immediately, but the weapons techs get "pushback" from civilian F.A.A. controllers, who have final authority over the fighters as long as they are in civilian airspace. The F.A.A. controllers are afraid of fast-moving fighters colliding with a passenger plane, of which there are hundreds in the area, still flying normal routes - the morning's unprecedented order to ground all civilian aircraft has not yet been given. To Nasypany, the fact that so many planes are still in the sky is all the more reason to get the fighters close. ("We've already had two," he told me, referring to the hijackings. "Why not more?")

The fighters are initially directed to a holding area just off the coast, near Long Island.

Nasypany isn't happy, and he makes sure that's duly noted for posterity as he calls out to Major Fox, the leader of the Weapons Team.

NASYPANY: Okay, Foxy. Plug in. I want to make sure this is on tape.… This is what - this is what I foresee that we probably need to do. We need to talk to F.A.A. We need to tell 'em if this stuff's gonna keep on going, we need to take those fighters on and then put 'em over Manhattan, O.K.? That's the best thing. That's the best play right now. So, coordinate with the F.A.A. Tell 'em if there's more out there, which we don't know, let's get 'em over Manhattan. At least we got some kinda play.


He tells the Battle Cab he wants Fox to launch two more fighters from Langley Air Force Base, in Virginia, to establish a greater presence over New York, but the request is refused. The order from the Battle Cab is to put the Langley jets on battle stations only - to be ready, but not to launch.

"The problem there would have been I'd have all my fighters in the air at the same time, which means they'd all run out of gas at the same time," Marr later explained.

Incredibly, Marr has only four armed fighters at his disposal to defend about a quarter of the continental United States. Massive cutbacks at the close of the Cold War reduced NORAD's arsenal of fighters from some 60 battle-ready jets to just 14 across the entire country. (Under different commands, the military generally maintains several hundred unarmed fighter jets for training in the continental U.S.) Only four of NORAD's planes belong to NEADS and are thus anywhere close to Manhattan - the two from Otis, now circling above the ocean off Long Island, and the two in Virginia at Langley.

Nasypany starts walking up and down the floor, asking all his section heads and weapons techs if they are prepared to shoot down a civilian airliner if need be, but he's jumping the gun: he doesn't have the authority to order a shootdown, nor does Marr or Arnold, or Vice President Cheney, for that matter. The order will need to come from President Bush, who has only just learned of the attack at a photo op in Florida.

On the ops floor, you hear Nasypany firmly pressing the issue. He briefs Marr on the armaments on board the F-15s, and how he sees best to use them "if need be":

NASYPANY: My recommendation, if we have to take anybody out, large aircraft, we use AIM-9s in the face.… If need be.


If there's another hijacking and the jets can engage, Nasypany is telling Marr, a missile fired into the nose of the plane will have the greatest chance of bringing it down.

But the prospect soon becomes real. Mo Dooley's voice erupts from the ID station on the operations floor.

DOOLEY: Another hijack! It's headed towards Washington! NASYPANY: Shit! Give me a location. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. Third aircraft - hijacked - heading toward Washington.


This report, received from Colin Scoggins at Boston Center, will set off a major escalation in the military response to the attack, resulting in the launch of additional armed fighter jets. But 20 months later, when the military presents to the 9/11 commission what is supposed to be a full accounting of the day, omitted from the official time line is any mention of this reported hijacking and the fevered chase it engenders.

It was the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, 2003, and the hearing room in the Hart Senate Office Building, in Washington, was half empty as the group of mostly retired military brass arranged themselves at the witness table before the 9/11 commission. The story the NORAD officers had come to tell before the commission was a relatively humbling one, a point underscored by the questions commission chairman Thomas Kean introduced during his opening remarks: How did the hijackers defeat the system, and why couldn't we stop them? These were important questions. Nearly two years after the attack, the Internet was rife with questions and conspiracy theories about 9/11 - in particular, where were the fighters? Could they have physically gotten to any of the hijacked planes? And did they shoot down the final flight, United 93, which ended up in a Pennsylvania field?

On hand, dressed in business suits (with the exception of Major General Craig McKinley, whose two stars twinkled on either epaulet), were Major General Larry Arnold (retired), who had been on the other end of the secure line with NEADS's Colonel Marr throughout the attack, and Colonel Alan Scott (retired), who had been with Arnold at NORAD's continental command in Florida on 9/11 and who worked closely with Marr in preparing the military's time line. None of the military men were placed under oath.

Their story, in a nutshell, was one of being caught off guard initially, then very quickly ramping up to battle status - in position, and in possession of enough situational awareness to defend the country, and the capital in particular, before United 93, the fourth hijacked plane, would have reached Washington.

Major General Arnold explained to the commission that the military had been tracking United 93 and the fighters were in position if United 93 had threatened Washington. "It was our intent to intercept United Flight 93," Arnold testified. "I was personally anxious to see what 93 was going to do, and our intent was to intercept it."

Colonel Marr, the commanding officer at NEADS on 9/11, had made similar comments to ABC News for its one-year-anniversary special on the attacks, saying that the pilots had been warned they might have to intercept United 93, and stop it if necessary: "And we of course passed that on to the pilots: United Airlines Flight 93 will not be allowed to reach Washington, D.C."

When I interviewed him recently, Marr recalled a conversation he had had with Arnold in the heat of the attack. "I remember the words out of General Arnold's mouth, or at least as I remember them, were 'We will take lives in the air to save lives on the ground.'" In actuality, they'd never get that chance.

In the chronology presented to the 9/11 commission, Colonel Scott put the time NORAD was first notified about United 93 at 9:16 a.m., from which time, he said, commanders tracked the flight closely. (It crashed at 10:03 a.m.) If it had indeed been necessary to "take lives in the air" with United 93, or any incoming flight to Washington, the two armed fighters from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia would have been the ones called upon to carry out the shootdown. In Colonel Scott's account, those jets were given the order to launch at 9:24, within seconds of NEADS's receiving the F.A.A.'s report of the possible hijacking of American 77, the plane that would ultimately hit the Pentagon. This time line suggests the system was starting to work: the F.A.A. reports a hijacking, and the military reacts instantaneously. Launching after the report of American 77 would, in theory, have put the fighters in the air and in position over Washington in plenty of time to react to United 93.

In testimony a few minutes later, however, General Arnold added an unexpected twist: "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."

How strange, John Azzarello, a former prosecutor and one of the commission's staff members, thought. "I remember being at the hearing in '03 and wondering why they didn't seem to have their stories straight. That struck me as odd."

The ears of another staff member, Miles Kara, perked up as well. "I said to myself, That's not right," the retired colonel, a former army intelligence officer, told me. Kara had seen the radar re-creations of the fighters' routes. "We knew something was odd, but we didn't have enough specificity to know how odd."

As the tapes reveal in stark detail, parts of Scott's and Arnold's testimony were misleading, and others simply false. At 9:16 a.m., when Arnold and Marr had supposedly begun their tracking of United 93, the plane had not yet been hijacked. In fact, NEADS wouldn't get word about United 93 for another 51 minutes. And while NORAD commanders did, indeed, order the Langley fighters to scramble at 9:24, as Scott and Arnold testified, it was not in response to the hijacking of American 77 or United 93. Rather, they were chasing a ghost. NEADS was entering the most chaotic period of the morning.

"Chase This Guy Down"

At 9:21 a.m., just before Dooley's alert about a third hijacked plane headed for Washington, NEADS is in the eye of the storm - a period of relative calm in which, for the moment, there are no reports of additional hijackings.

The call that sets off the latest alarm ("Another hijack! It's headed towards Washington!") comes from Boston and is wholly confounding: according to Scoggins, the Boston manager, American 11, the plane they believed was the first one to hit the World Trade Center, is actually still flying - still hijacked - and now heading straight for D.C. Whatever hit the first tower, it wasn't American 11.

The chase is on for what will turn out to be a phantom plane.

NASYPANY: O.K. American Airlines is still airborne - 11, the first guy. He's heading towards Washington. O.K., I think we need to scramble Langley right now. And I'm - I'm gonna take the fighters from Otis and try to chase this guy down if I can find him.


Arnold and Marr approve scrambling the two planes at Langley, along with a third unarmed trainer, and Nasypany sets the launch in motion.

It's a mistake, of course. American 11 was, indeed, the plane that hit the first tower. The confusion will persist for hours, however. In Boston, it is Colin Scoggins who has made the mistaken call.

"When we phoned United [after the second tower was hit], they confirmed that United 175 was down, and I think they confirmed that within two or three minutes," Scoggins, the go-to guy at Boston Center for all things military, later told me. "With American Airlines, we could never confirm if it was down or not, so that left doubt in our minds."

An unwieldy conference call between F.A.A. centers had been established, and Scoggins was monitoring it when the word came across - from whom or where isn't clear - that American 11 was thought to be headed for Washington. Scoggins told me he thinks that the problem started with someone overheard trying to confirm from American whether American 11 was down - that somewhere in the flurry of information zipping back and forth during the conference call this transmogrified into the idea that a different plane had hit the tower, and that American 11 was still hijacked and still in the air. The plane's course, had it continued south past New York in the direction it was flying before it dipped below radar coverage, would have had it headed on a straight course toward D.C. This was all controllers were going on; they were never tracking an actual plane on the radar after losing American 11 near Manhattan, but if it had been flying low enough, the plane could have gone undetected. "After talking to a supervisor, I made the call and said [American 11] is still in the air, and it's probably somewhere over New Jersey or Delaware heading for Washington, D.C.," Scoggins told me.

Over the next quarter-hour, the fact that the fighters have been launched in response to the phantom American 11 - rather than American 77 or United 93 - is referred to six more times on Nasypany's channel alone. How could Colonel Scott and General Arnold have missed it in preparing for their 9/11-commission testimony? It's a question Arnold would have to answer later, under oath.

In the middle of the attack, however, the hijackers' sabotaging of the planes' beacons has thrown such a wrench into efforts to track them that it all seems plausible.

ANDERSON: They're probably not squawking anything [broadcasting a beacon code] anyway. I mean, obviously these guys are in the cockpit.NASYPANY: These guys are smart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, they knew exactly what they wanted to do.


Another officer asks Nasypany the obvious question.

MAJOR JAMES ANDERSON: Have you asked - have you asked the question what you're gonna do if we actually find this guy? Are we gonna shoot him down if they got passengers on board? Have they talked about that?


Approval for any such order would have to come from the commander in chief. Just after 9:30, however, the president was in his motorcade preparing to leave the Emma Booker Elementary School, in Sarasota, for the airport and the safety of Air Force One. The 9/11 commission determined that the president had not been aware of any further possible hijackings and was not yet in touch with the Pentagon.

But a clear shootdown order wouldn't have made a difference. The Langley fighters were headed the wrong way - due east, straight out to sea into a military-training airspace called Whiskey 386, rather than toward Washington, which NEADS believed was under attack.

According to the 9/11 commission, the Langley pilots were never briefed by anyone at their base about why they were being scrambled, so, despite having been given the order from NEADS to fly to Washington, the pilots ended up following their normal training flight plan out to sea - a flight plan dating from the Cold War. As one pilot later told the commission, "I reverted to the Russian threat - I'm thinking cruise-missile threat from the sea."

At NEADS, a 28-year-old staff sergeant named William Huckabone, staring at his Green Eye, is the first to notice that the Langley jets are off course. His voice is a mix of stress and dread as he and the controller next to him, Master Sergeant Steve Citino, order a navy air-traffic controller who's handling the fighters to get them turned around toward Baltimore to try to cut off the phantom American 11. The navy air-traffic controller seems not to understand the urgency of the situation.

NAVY A.T.C.: You've got [the fighters] moving east in airspace. Now you want 'em to go to Baltimore? HUCKABONE: Yes, sir. We're not gonna take 'em in Whiskey 386 [military training airspace over the ocean].NAVY A.T.C.: O.K., once he goes to Baltimore, what are we supposed to do? HUCKABONE: Have him contact us on auxiliary frequency 2-3-4 decimal 6.

Instead of taking handoffs to us and us handing 'em back, just tell Center they've got to go to Baltimore. NAVY A.T.C.: All right, man. Stand by. We'll get back to you. CITINO: What do you mean, "We'll get back to you"? Just do it! HUCKABONE: I'm gonna choke that guy! CITINO: Be very professional, Huck. HUCKABONE: O.K. CITINO: All right, Huck. Let's get our act together here.


All hell is breaking loose around them. Boston Center has called in with another suspected hijacking - the controllers there don't know the call sign yet - and ID tech Watson is speed-dialing everyone she can to find a position on the resurrected American 11. In the course of a call to Washington Center, the operations manager there has sprung new information about yet another lost airplane: American 77.

WASHINGTON CENTER: Now, let me tell you this. I - I'll - we've been looking. We're - also lost American 77 - WATSON: American 77? DOOLEY: American 77's lost - WATSON: Where was it proposed to head, sir? WASHINGTON CENTER: Okay, he was going to L.A. also - WATSON: From where, sir? WASHINGTON CENTER: I think he was from Boston also. Now let me tell you this story here. Indianapolis Center was working this guy - WATSON: What guy? WASHINGTON CENTER: American 77, at flight level 3-5-0 [35,000 feet]. However, they lost radar with him. They lost contact with him. They lost everything. And they don't have any idea where he is or what happened.


This is a full 10 minutes later than the time Major General Arnold and Colonel Scott would give in their testimony; reality was a lot messier. Forty minutes prior, at 8:54 a.m., controllers at Indianapolis Center had lost radar contact with American 77, flying from Washington Dulles to LAX, and assumed the plane had crashed because they weren't aware of the attack in New York. Though they soon realized this was another hijacking and sent warnings up the F.A.A. chain, no one called the military; it was only by chance that NEADS's Watson got the information in her call to Washington Center.

As Watson takes in the information from Washington Center, Rountree's phone is ringing again. By this point, the other ID techs have taken to calling Rountree "the bearer of death and destruction" because it seems every time she picks up the phone there's another hijacking. And so it is again. At Boston Center, Colin Scoggins has spotted a low-flying airliner six miles southeast of the White House.

ROUNTREE: Huntress [call sign for NEADS] ID, Rountree, can I help you? BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): Latest report, [low-flying] aircraft six miles southeast of the White House. ROUNTREE: Six miles southeast of the White House? BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): Yup. East - he's moving away? ROUNTREE: Southeast from the White House. BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): Air - aircraft is moving away. ROUNTREE: Moving away from the White House? BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): Yeah. … ROUNTREE: Deviating away. You don't have a type aircraft, you don't know who he is - BOSTON CENTER (Scoggins): Nothing, nothing. We're over here in Boston so I have no clue. That - hopefully somebody in Washington would have better - information for you.


This will turn out to be American 77, but since the hijackers turned the beacon off on this plane as well, no one will realize that until later. Depending on how you count, NEADS now has three reported possible hijackings from Boston (the phantom American 11 and two unidentified planes) as well as Washington Center's report that American 77 is lost.

Of these four vague and ultimately overlapping reports, the latest - word of a plane six miles from the White House - is the most urgent. The news sets off a frenzy.

NASYPANY: O.K., Foxy [Major Fox, the Weapons Team head]. I got a aircraft six miles east of the White House! Get your fighters there as soon as possible! MALE VOICE: That came from Boston? HUCKABONE: We're gonna turn and burn it - crank it up - MALE TECH: Six miles! HUCKABONE: All right, here we go. This is what we're gonna do - NASYPANY: We've got an aircraft deviating eight [sic] miles east of the White House right now.FOX: Do you want us to declare A.F.I.O. [emergency military control of the fighters] and run 'em straight in there?

NASYPANY: Take 'em and run 'em to the White House.FOX: Go directly to Washington.CITINO: We're going direct D.C. with my guys [Langley fighters]? Okay. Okay.

HUCKABONE: Ma'am, we are going A.F.I.O. right now with Quit 2-5 [the Langley fighters].

They are going direct Washington.NAVY A.T.C.: Quit 2-5, we're handing 'em off to Center right now.HUCKABONE: Ma'am, we need to expedite that right now. We've gotta contact them on 2-3-4-6.


"Six miles south, or west, or east of the White House is - it's seconds [away]," Nasypany told me later. "Airliners traveling at 400-plus knots, it's nothing. It's seconds away from that location."

The White House, then, is in immediate danger. Radar analysis in the following weeks will show that the plane abruptly veers away and turns toward the Pentagon, though the controllers at NEADS have no way of knowing this in the moment. Looking in the general capital area, one of the tracker techs thinks he spots the plane on radar, then just as quickly loses it.

MALE TECH: Right here, right here, right here. I got him. I got him. NASYPANY: We just lost track. Get a Z-point [coordinate] on that.… O.K., we got guys lookin' at 'em. Hold on.… Where's Langley at? Where are the fighters?


The fighters have no chance. They're about 150 miles away, according to radar analysis done later. Even at top speed - and even if they know the problem is suicide hijackings of commercial airliners rather than Russian missiles - it will take them roughly 10 minutes to get to the Pentagon.

NASYPANY: We need to get those back up there - I don't care how many windows you break!… Goddammit! O.K. Push 'em back!

But the Pentagon is already in flames, American 77 having plowed through the E-ring of the west side of the building seconds before, at 9:37:46. The Langley fighters will not be established over Washington for another 20 minutes.

"You Were Just So Mad"

On the ops floor, everyone is staring at CNN on the overhead screen. Seeing the first pictures of the Pentagon in flames is gut-wrenching. Nasypany's voice can be heard cursing in frustration: "Goddammit! I can't even protect my N.C.A. [National Capital Area]." You hear troops prod one another to stay focused.

CITINO: O.K. - let's watch our guys, Huck. Not the TV.

"The more it went on, the more unbelievable it got, and then the one that did the Pentagon," Dooley told me, "we just couldn't believe it. You were just so mad that you couldn't stop these guys and so you're looking for the next one. Where are they going next?"

It looks like Washington again. Three minutes after the Pentagon is hit, Scoggins, at Boston Center, is back on the phone. The Boston controllers are now tracking Delta 1989 - Boston to Las Vegas - which fits the same profile as the other hijackings: cross-country, out of Boston, lots of fuel, and possibly off course. But this one's different from the others in one key respect: the plane's beacon code is still working. In this chase, NEADS will have a chance, as the excitement in Dooley's last line reflects:

ROUNTREE: Delta 89, that's the hijack. They think it's possible hijack. DOOLEY: Fuck!

ROUNTREE: South of Cleveland. We have a code on him now.DOOLEY: Good. Pick it up! Find it! MALE TECH: Delta what? ROUNTREE: Eight nine - a Boeing 767. DOOLEY: Fuck, another one -


They quickly find the plane on radar - it's just south of Toledo - and begin alerting other F.A.A. centers. They're not sure where the plane is headed. If it's Chicago, they're in big trouble, because they don't have any planes close enough to cut it off. Marr and Nasypany order troops to call Air National Guard bases in that area to see if anyone can launch fighters. A base in Selfridge, Michigan, offers up two unarmed fighters that are already flying, on their way back from a training mission.

SELFRIDGE FLIGHT OFFICER: Here - here's what we can do. At a minimum, we can keep our guys airborne. I mean, they don't have - they don't have any guns or missiles or anything on board. But we - NEADS TECH: It's a presence, though.


But NEADS is victim again to an increasingly long information lag. Even before Rountree gets the urgent call that Delta 1989 is hijacked, a civilian air-traffic controller in Cleveland in contact with the pilot has determined that the flight is fine - that Delta 1989 isn't a hijacking after all.

Meanwhile, however, NEADS has gotten a call from a NORAD unit in Canada with yet another suspected hijacking headed south across the border toward Washington. In the barrage of information and misinformation, it becomes increasingly difficult for the controllers to keep count of how many suspected hijackings are pending. So far, it is known that three have hit buildings, but given the uncertainty about the fates of American 11 and American 77 - no one knows yet that this is the plane that hit the Pentagon - the sense at NEADS is that there are possibly three hijacked jets still out there, and who knows how many more yet to be reported.

At this point, no one on the military side is aware that United 93 has been hijacked.

Then, over a crackly radio, one of the Langley fighter pilots, now in a combat air patrol over Washington, is calling in urgently.

PILOT: Baltimore is saying something about an aircraft over the White House. Any words? CITINO: Negative. Stand by. Do you copy that, SD [Major Fox]? Center said there's an aircraft over the White House. Any words? FOX: M.C.C. [Nasypany], we've got an aircraft reported over the White House.


A fourth hijacking? Nasypany, who's running full throttle, replies instinctively.

NASYPANY: Intercept! FOX: Intercept! NASYPANY: Intercept and divert that aircraft away from there.


On one channel, you hear a weapons tech very dramatically hailing the fighters and ordering the intercept.

CITINO: Quit 2-5 [Langley fighters], mission is intercept aircraft over White House. Use F.A.A. for guidance. FOX: Divert the aircraft away from the White House. Intercept and divert it.

CITINO: Quit 2-5, divert the aircraft from the White House. PILOT: Divert the aircraft.…
Meanwhile, Nasypany calls the Battle Cab. With a plane headed straight for the White House, Nasypany needs an update on his rules of engagement - fast.

NASYPANY: Do you hear that? That aircraft over the White House. What's the word? … Intercept and what else? … Aircraft over the White House.


The "what else?" is the big question: do they have the authority to shoot? The request skips up the chain to Arnold.

"I was in Vietnam," Arnold later told me. "When people are shooting at you, you don't know when it's going to stop. And that same thought went through my mind [on 9/11]. You begin to wonder, How can I get control of this situation? When can we as a military get control of this situation?"

Arnold, in turn, passes the request for rules of engagement farther up the chain.

It is in the middle of this, simultaneously, that the first call comes in about United 93. ID tech Watson fields it.

CLEVELAND CENTER: We got a United 93 out here. Are you aware of that?

WATSON: United 93? CLEVELAND CENTER: That has a bomb on board. WATSON: A bomb on board?! And this is confirmed? You have a [beacon code], sir? CLEVELAND CENTER: No, we lost his transponder.

The information is shouted out to Nasypany.

NASYPANY: Gimme the call sign. Gimme the whole nine yards.… Let's get some info, real quick. They got a bomb?


But by the time NEADS gets the report of a bomb on United 93, everyone on board is already dead. Following the passengers' counterattack, the plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania at 10:03 a.m., 4 minutes before Cleveland Center notified NEADS, and a full 35 minutes after a Cleveland Center controller, a veteran named John Werth, first suspected something was wrong with the flight. At 9:28, Werth actually heard the guttural sounds of the cockpit struggle over the radio as the hijackers attacked the pilots.

Werth's suspicions about United 93 were passed quickly up the F.A.A.'s chain of command, so how is it that no one from the agency alerted NEADS for more than half an hour?

A former senior executive at the F.A.A., speaking to me on the condition that I not identify him by name, tried to explain. "Our whole procedures prior to 9/11 were that you turned everything [regarding a hijacking] over to the F.B.I.," he said, reiterating that hijackers had never actually flown airplanes; it was expected that they'd land and make demands. "There were absolutely no shootdown protocols at all. The F.A.A. had nothing to do with whether they were going to shoot anybody down. We had no protocols or rules of engagement."

In his bunker under the White House, Vice President Cheney was not notified about United 93 until 10:02 - only one minute before the airliner impacted the ground. Yet it was with dark bravado that the vice president and others in the Bush administration would later recount sober deliberations about the prospect of shooting down United 93. "Very, very tough decision, and the president understood the magnitude of that decision," Bush's then chief of staff, Andrew Card, told ABC News.

Cheney echoed, "The significance of saying to a pilot that you are authorized to shoot down a plane full of Americans is, a, you know, it's an order that had never been given before." And it wasn't on 9/11, either.

President Bush would finally grant commanders the authority to give that order at 10:18, which - though no one knew it at the time - was 15 minutes after the attack was over.

But comments such as those above were repeated by other administration and military figures in the weeks and months following 9/11, forging the notion that only the passengers' counterattack against their hijackers prevented an inevitable shootdown of United 93 (and convincing conspiracy theorists that the government did, indeed, secretly shoot it down). The recordings tell a different story, and not only because United 93 had crashed before anyone in the military chain of command even knew it had been hijacked.

At what feels on the tapes like the moment of truth, what comes back down the chain of command, instead of clearance to fire, is a resounding sense of caution. Despite the fact that NEADS believes there may be as many as five suspected hijacked aircraft still in the air at this point - one from Canada, the new one bearing down fast on Washington, the phantom American 11, Delta 1989, and United 93 - the answer to Nasypany's question about rules of engagement comes back in no uncertain terms, as you hear him relay to the ops floor.

NASYPANY (to floor): Negative. Negative clearance to shoot.… Goddammit! … FOX: I'm not really worried about code words at this point. NASYPANY: Fuck the code words. That's perishable information. Negative clearance to fire. ID. Type. Tail.


The orders from higher headquarters are to identify by aircraft type and tail number, and nothing more. Those orders - and the fact that the pilots have no clearance to shoot - are reiterated by NEADS controllers as a dramatic chase towards the White House continues. Two more problems emerge: the controllers can't find the White House on their dated equipment, and they have trouble communicating with the Langley fighters (which are referred to by their call signs, Quit 2-5 and Quit 2-6).

CITINO: Quit 2-6, Huntress. How far is the - suspect aircraft? PILOT: Standby. Standby.… About 15 miles, Huntress. CITINO: Huntress copies two-two miles. PILOT: 15 miles, Huntress.

CITINO: 15 miles. One-five … noise level please … It's got to be low. Quit 2-6, when able say altitude of the aircraft.… Did we get a Z-track [coordinates] up for the White House?

HUCKABONE: They're workin' on it. CITINO: Okay. Hey, what's this Bravo 0-0-5 [unidentified target]?FOX: We're trying to get the Z-point. We're trying to find it. HUCKABONE: I don't even know where the White House is. CITINO: Whatever it is, it's very low. It's probably a helicopter. MALE VOICE: It's probably the helicopter you're watching there.… There's probably one flying over the [Pentagon]. MALE VOICE: It's probably the smoke. The building's smoked. [They're seeing more pictures of the flaming Pentagon on CNN.] HUCKABONE: Holy shit.… Holy shit … CITINO: Yes. We saw that. O.K. - let's watch our guys, Huck. Not the TV.… Quit 2-6, status? SD, they're too low. I can't talk to 'em. They're too low. I can't talk to 'em. FOX: Negative clearance to fire. CITINO: O.K. I told 'em mission is ID and that was it.FOX: Do whatever you need to divert. They are not cleared to fire.


As it turns out, it's just as well the pilots are not cleared to shoot. Delta 1989 and the Canadian scare turn out to be false alarms. American 11 and United 93 are already down. And the fast-moving target near the White House that the armed fighters are racing to intercept turns out to be a friendly - a mistake by a civilian controller who was unaware of the military's scrambles, as weapons techs Huckabone and Citino, and their senior director, Fox, suddenly realize.

HUCKABONE: It was our guys [the fighters from Langley]. CITINO: Yup. It was our guys they saw. It was our guys they saw - Center saw.FOX: New York did the same thing…. CITINO: O.K., Huck. That was cool. We intercepted our own guys.


At that point in the morning, Marr later told me, preventing an accidental shootdown was a paramount concern. "What you don't want happening is a pilot having to make that decision in the heat of the moment where he is bearing all that burden as to whether I should shoot something down or not," Marr said.

It is 12 minutes after United 93 actually crashed when NEADS's Watson first hears the word. Her voice is initially full of hope as she mistakenly believes she is being told that United 93 has landed safely.

WATSON: United nine three, have you got information on that yet? WASHINGTON CENTER: Yeah, he's down. WATSON: What - he's down? WASHINGTON CENTER: Yes.

WATSON: When did he land? Because we have confirmation - WASHINGTON CENTER: He did - he did - he did not land.

Here, on the tape, you hear the air rush out of Watson's voice.

WATSON: Oh, he's down down? MALE VOICE: Yes. Yeah, somewhere up northeast of Camp David. WATSON: Northeast of Camp David. WASHINGTON CENTER: That's the - that's the last report. They don't know exactly where.


"I Know What Spin Is"

On June 17, 2004, a year after the 9/11 commission's initial public hearing, Major General Arnold and a more robust contingent of NORAD and Pentagon brass arrived to testify before the commission at its 12th and final public meeting. This time, they would testify under oath.

The hearing began with an elaborate multi-media presentation in which John Farmer Jr., the commission's senior counsel, John Azzarello, and another staff attorney, Dana Hyde, took turns illustrating, in withering detail, the lag time between when the F.A.A. found out about each of the hijacked aircraft and the time anyone from the agency notified the military. Excerpts from the NEADS tapes and parallel recordings from the F.A.A., which show the civilian side in equal turmoil, were played in public for the first time. (Both sets of recordings were provided to the commission only after being subpoenaed.)

The focus of the pointed questioning that followed wasn't on why the military didn't do better, but rather on why the story Major General Arnold and Colonel Scott had told at the first hearing was so wrong, in particular with respect to the phantom American 11, which the officers had never mentioned, and United 93, which they claimed to have been tracking. Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, who cut his teeth 30 years earlier working for the Watergate special prosecutor, led off the questioning and came out swinging.

"General, is it not a fact that the failure to call our attention to the miscommunication and the notion of a phantom Flight 11 continuing from New York City south in fact skewed the whole reporting of 9/11?" he asked Arnold, who replied that he had not been aware of those facts when he testified the year before.

"I've been in government and I know what spin is," Farmer, the senior counsel, told me. The military's story was "a whole different order of magnitude than spin. It simply wasn't true."

Farmer says he doesn't understand why the military felt the need to spin at all. "The information they got [from the F.A.A.] was bad information, but they reacted in a way that you would have wanted them to. The calls Marr and Nasypany made were the right ones."

Both Marr and Arnold bristled when I asked about the commission's suspicion that there had been an effort to spin the story. "I can't think of any incentive why we'd want to spin that," Marr said, his eyes tensing for the first time in what had been friendly interviews. "I'll be the first to admit that immediately after - in fact, for a long time after - we were very confused with who was what and where, what reports were coming in. I think with having 29 different reports of hijackings nationwide, for us it was next to impossible to try and get back there and figure out the fidelity [about the morning's chronology] that the 9/11 commission ended up being able to show."

Azzarello, Farmer, and several other commission members I spoke to dismissed this fog-of-war excuse and pointed out that not only had the military already reviewed the tapes but that the false story it told at the first hearing had a clear purpose. "How good would it have looked for the government in general if we still couldn't have stopped the fourth plane an hour and 35 minutes [into the attack]?" Azzarello asked. "How good would it have looked if there was a total breakdown in communication and nothing worked right?"

If nothing else, it might have given the public a more realistic sense of the limitations, particularly in the face of suicide terrorism, of what is, without doubt, the most powerful military in the world.

As one of its last acts before disbanding, in July 2004, the 9/11 commission made referrals to the inspector general's offices of both the Department of Transportation (which includes the F.A.A.) and the Defense Department to further investigate whether witnesses had lied.

"Commission staff believes that there is significant evidence that the false statements made to the commission were deliberately false," Farmer wrote to me in an e-mail summarizing the commission's referral. "The false testimony served a purpose: to obscure mistakes on the part of the F.A.A. and the military, and to overstate the readiness of the military to intercept and, if necessary, shoot down UAL 93." A spokesman for the Transportation Department's inspector general's office told me that the investigation had been completed, but he wasn't at liberty to share the findings, because the report had not been finalized. A spokesman at the Pentagon's inspector general's office said its investigation had also been completed, but the results are classified.

Poring over time-stamped transcripts that undercut the Pentagon's official story, one is tempted to get caught up in a game of "gotcha." For those on the operations floor in the thick of it that day, however, the cold revelations of hindsight are a bitter pill to swallow.

Listening to the tapes, you hear that inside NEADS there was no sense that the attack was over with the crash of United 93; instead, the alarms go on and on. False reports of hijackings, and real responses, continue well into the afternoon, though civilian air-traffic controllers had managed to clear the skies of all commercial and private aircraft by just after 12 p.m. The fighter pilots over New York and D.C. (and later Boston and Chicago) would spend hours darting around their respective skylines intercepting hundreds of aircraft they deemed suspicious. Meanwhile, Arnold, Marr, and Nasypany were launching as many additional fighters as they could, placing some 300 armed jets in protective orbits over every major American city by the following morning. No one at NEADS would go home until late on the night of the 11th, and then only for a few hours of sleep.

Five years after the attack, the controversy around United 93 clearly eats at Arnold, Marr, Nasypany, and several other military people I spoke with, who resent both conspiracy theories that accuse them of shooting the flight down and the 9/11 commission's conclusion that they were chasing ghosts and never stood a chance of intercepting any of the real hijackings. "I don't know about time lines and stuff like that," Nasypany, who is now a lieutenant colonel, said in one of our last conversations. "I knew where 93 was. I don't care what [the commission says]. I mean, I care, but - I made that assessment to put my fighters over Washington. Ninety-three was on its way in. I knew there was another one out there. I knew there was somebody else coming in - whatever you want to call it. And I knew what I was going to have to end up doing." When you listen to the tapes, it couldn't feel more horrendously true.

When I asked Nasypany about the conspiracy theories - the people who believe that he, or someone like him, secretly ordered the shootdown of United 93 and covered it up - the corners of his mouth began to quiver. Then, I think to the surprise of both of us, he suddenly put his head in his hands and cried. "Flight 93 was not shot down," he said when he finally looked up.

"The individuals on that aircraft, the passengers, they actually took the aircraft down. Because of what those people did, I didn't have to do anything."

On the day, however, there was no time for sentiment. Within 30 seconds of the report that United 93 has crashed, killing everyone on board, once again, the phone is ringing.

POWELL: Southeast just called. There's another possible hijack in our area.…

NASYPANY: All right. Fuck …

Michael Bronner is a former producer for "60 Minutes II." His article about military recruiters appeared in the September 2005 issue of Vanity Fair.