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CJ/PS 5535 9/11 Seminar: Failures, Responses, Lessons Learned. A new graduate course by: Dr. Matthew Robinson Fall 2005. Proof the White House Knew (or Should Have Known) About Planes Being Used as Weapons . Dr. Matt Robinson CJ/PS 5535:

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CJ/PS 5535 9/11 Seminar: Failures, Responses, Lessons Learned

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CJ/PS 55359/11 Seminar: Failures, Responses,Lessons Learned

A new graduate course by:

Dr. Matthew Robinson

Fall 2005


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Proof the White House Knew (or Should Have Known) About Planes Being Used as Weapons

Dr. Matt Robinson

CJ/PS 5535:

“9/11 Seminar: Failures, Responses, Lessons Learned”

Appalachian State University


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What THEY Said

President George W. Bush:

“Never in anybody’s thought process ... about how to protect America did we ever think the evil doers would fly not one but four commercial aircraft into precious US targets ... Never.”

“We knew he [bin Laden] had designs on us.  We knew he hated us.  But there was nobody in our government, and I don’t think the previous government, that could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale.” 

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer:

… “the President did not – not – receive information about the use of airplanes as missiles by suicide bombers ... Until this attack took place, I think it’s fair to say that no one envisioned that as a possibility.”


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What THEY Said

Vice President Dick Cheney:

Advised Democrats in Congress to “be very cautious not to seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions ... that the White House had advance information that would have prevented the tragic attacks of 9/11.”

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice:

“I don’t think that anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile ... even in retrospect there was nothing to suggest that.”


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What THEY Said

FBI Director Robert Mueller:

“If we had understood [that hijackers trained in the United States to be pilots] we would have – perhaps we could have averted this.”

“There were no warning signs that I’m aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country.”

NSA Director Michael Hayden:

“NSA had no [indications] that al Qaeda was specifically targeting New York and Washington ... or even that it was planning an attack on US soil.”


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  • Things THEY Knew

  • Airport security inaccurate

  • Terrorists training to be pilots

  • Previous plans/attacks

  • Threats against airplanes

  • Preparations for attacks

  • Zacarias Moussaoui

  • Hmmmmm????


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Airport Security is Inaccurate

  • 1990-1996: Mary Schiavo, former Inspector General for U.S. Dept. of Transportation, resigned after the FAA tried to classify her report detailing lax security at the nation's major airports.  Agents were able to sneak fake bombs, hand grenades, guns and knives through metal detectors. Congress was not interested in making it hard on the airline industry, so they swept it under the rug!

  • 1998 – FAA “Red Teams” conduct testing of screening checkpoints at domestic airports and successfully smuggle through guns, bombs, etc. and are successful in some case 85% of the time ... high level FAA officials are made aware of the problem and do nothing


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Terrorists Training to be Pilots

  • 1996 – FBI investigates US flight schools after finding a business card for a school in the possession of Project Bojinka planner Abdul Hakim Murad (who had been training at about 6 schools since 1990).

  • 1998 – FBI’s international terrorism squad investigates man taking flight lessons at a Phoenix airport. FBI agent Ken Williams starts an investigation into the possibility of terrorists learning to fly.

  • May 1998 –FBI pilot sends a memo to a supervisor warning of a large number of Middle Eastern men receiving flight training in Oklahoma airports.

  • 1998-1999 – FBI issues warnings of possible terrorists training at US flight schools.

  • 1999 – US intelligence learns that an al Qaeda agent studied at a flight school in Norman, Oklahoma (hijackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi visited school there in 2000 and Zacarias Moussaoui trained there in 2001).

  • September 1999 – FBI in Oklahoma City visits a flight school in Norman Oklahoma to investigate Usama bin Laden’s (UBL) personal pilot Ihab Ali who attended there in 1993.


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Terrorists Training to be Pilots

  • 1999 – FBI learns terrorists are planning to send students to US for flight training. FBI’s Counterterrorism Section issues notice to 24 field offices to pay close attention to Islamic students from the target country engaged in training.  No investigation is conducted by any office.

  • February - July 2001 – Trial of embassy bombers in New York features testimony of 2 UBL associates that received flight training in Texas and Oklahoma. One UBL aide gives evidence to government about pilot training.

  • July 2001 – FBI agent Ken Williams sends a message warning of suspicious activities involving group of Middle Eastern men taking flight training lessons in Arizona: subtitle of memo is “Osama bin Laden and Al-Muhrjiroun supporters attending civil aviation universities/colleges in Arizona.”

  • July 2001 – Egyptian intelligence passes on message to CIA that 20 al Qaeda members had slipped into US and that 4 of them were training on Cessnas.

  • August 2001 – Russian President Vladimir Putin warns US that suicide pilots are training for attacks on US.


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Previous Plans/Attacks

  • 1995 – PROJECT BOJINKA leads Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) Director Richard Clarke to ask FAA to ground all US flights over the Pacific. This was a plan by al Qaeda to blow up 12 commercial airliners by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The Philippines warns US of targets for attack: CIA headquarters, a nuclear power plant, TransAmerica Tower (San Francisco), Sears Tower (Chicago), Pentagon, and World Trade Center.  Plotter Abdul Hakim Murad is handed over to FBI in April 1995 and he identifies 10 other men in flight training who were involved.

  • 1994 – Three planes are crashed or attempted to crash into buildings this year.  A Fed Ex employee tries to crash a DC-10 into a company building in Memphis but is overpowered by the crew. A lone pilot crashes a small plane onto the White House grounds.  An Air France flight is hijacked by terrorists linked to al Qaeda, with the goal to crash it into the Eiffel Tower, but French Special Forces storm plane before it takes off.

  • November 1996 – Ethiopians take over a passenger airliner, let it run out of fuel, and crash it into Indian Ocean off Comoros Islands.

  • October 1999 – EgyptAir flight 900 crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off of Massachusetts … eventual conclusion of the National Transportation Safety Board is it was intentional crash, which killed 33 Egyptian military officers.


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Threats Against Airplanes

  • January 1996 – US intelligence receives information of a planned suicide attack on the White House by a plane flying from Afghanistan.

  • August 1998 – CIA asserts Arab terrorists plan to fly a bomb-laden plane from a foreign country to the World Trade Center ... FBI and FAA do not think the state of aviation in unstated country makes the attack possible.

  • September 1998 – US intelligence learns that UBL’s next operation might be a crashed airliner loaded with explosives into a US airport.

  • Fall 1998 – US intelligence learns of a plot to attack New York and Washington DC with airplanes ... plans to attack are preceding well and two individuals have successfully evaded checkpoints at a New York airport.

  • 1999 – Britain’s M16 domestic intelligence agency reports to US that al Qaeda plans to use commercial aircraft in unconventional ways possibly as flying bombs.


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Threats Against Airplanes

  • September 1999 – US intelligence suggests “Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al Qaeda’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land aircraft packed with high explosives ... into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House...”. Report is made by the National Intelligence Council which advises the President and US intelligence on emerging threats.

  • April 2000 – Niaz Khan, British citizen from Pakistan, tells FBI of a plot to fly airliners into building.  He was trained on a mock cockpit of 767, including how to hijack a plane and how to smuggle guns and other weapons on board. He flew to US and was told to meet with a contact to then meet up with others to fly a plane into a building.  He passes a polygraph given by FBI but he is deported to London.

  • August 2000 – Italian intelligence wiretaps al Qaeda cell in Milan, Italy and overhears plan to attack enemies of Islam with aircraft. Warning is sent to US in March 2001.


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Threats Against Airplanes

  • April 2001 – FBI translators Sibel Edmonds and Behrooz Sarshar learn of a warning given to FBI by an FBI informant that al Qaeda is planning to attack US and Europe with airplanes and that al Qaeda agents are being trained in US as pilots. Edmonds says: “President Bush said they had no specific information about September 11, and that’s accurate.  However, there was specific information about use of airplanes, that an attack was on the way two or three months beforehand, and that several people were already in the country by May of 2001." Says US claims about not knowing of 9/11 plan were outrageous lies ..."That's an outrageous lie and documents can prove it's a lie.“

  • June 2001 – German intelligence warns CIA, M16, and Mossad that Middle Eastern terrorists are planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack “American and Israeli symbols, which stand out.”

  • July 2001 – US intelligence reports a spike in warnings against G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy.  Warnings from Russia, Germany, and Egypt report that al Qaeda will try to kill President Bush using an “airplane stuffed with explosives” ... US and Italy are sent urgent warnings ...... Bush and other leaders stay on an aircraft carrier and a luxury ship away from the area.


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Threats Against Airplanes

  • August 2001 – Britain warns US of al Qaeda attack involving multiple airline hijackings.

  • August 2001 – US intelligence learns of a plot to crash airplane into US Embassy in Nairobi.

  • August 2001 – the “bin Laden Determined to Strike In US” Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) is given to President Bush while he was on vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas ... it reads in part: “bin Laden wanted to hijack US aircraft to gain the release” of Oman Abdul Rahman and others and tells of “suspicious activity in the US consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.”


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Preparations for Attacks

  • 1996 – Preparations for Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, lead Richard Clarke to create the “Atlanta Rules.”These rules were used in several CSG designated “National Security Special Events.”  Clarke says: “The Secret Service and Customs had teamed up in Atlanta to provide some rudimentary air defense against an aircraft flying into the Olympic Stadium.  They did so again during the subsequent National Security Special Events and they agreed to create a permanent air defense unit to protect Washington.”  The Treasury Department did not want to pay for the permanent air defense unit so it was not established.

  • January 1997 – “Atlanta Rules” used to protect against airplane attack for Clinton inauguration.

  • February 1997 – White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security (Gore Commission) issued its final report, reference failed Project Bojinka, and call for increased aviation security. The commission “believes that terrorist attacks on civil aviation are directed at the United States, and that there should be an ongoing federal commitment to reducing the threats that they pose.”

  • 1999 – “Atlanta Rules” used to protect against airplane attack for North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 50th Anniversary in DC.


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Preparations for Attacks

  • July–August 2000 – “Atlanta Rules” used to protect against airplane attack for Republican Convention in Philadelphia and Democratic Convention in New York.

  • October 2000 – Pentagon conducts an emergency drill for a crashed airline that had been hijacked and flown into the Pentagon.

  • September 2000 - September 2001 – NORAD conducts regional war games exercises simulating hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets; one target is World Trade Center.  In other exercises, jets conduct mock shoot down of airliners over Atlantic Ocean.  Exercises are called Vigilant Guardian and Northern Vigilance, and another is held at the National Reconnaissance Office which included an airplane being used as a flying weapon.

  • January 2001 – “Atlanta Rules” used to protect against an airplane attack for Bush inauguration.

  • October 1998 – FAA issues warnings to airports and airliners urging a high degree of vigilance against threats to civil aviation posed by al Qaeda ... threat specifically mentioned a metropolitan airport in the Eastern US.


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Preparations for Attacks

  • January - August 2001 – FAA issues 15 warnings to airliners ... Bush officials claim information is so vague it does not warrant additional security ... warnings remain classified today.

  • April 2001 – NORAD special operations personnel imagine a scenario where a terrorist group hijacks plane and flies it into the Pentagon ... the plan is rejected as too unrealistic.

  • April 2001 – FAA sends a warning to US airlines that Middle Eastern terrorists could try to hijack or blow up US planes and that carriers should demonstrate a high level of alertness.

  • May 2001 – Pentagon practices for crashed 757 into Pentagon.

  • June 2001 – NORAD conducts Amalgam Virgo 01 and Amalgam Virgo 02, the latter of which involves two simultaneously hijacked commercial airliners. Fighters are to respond and consider shooting down planes.

  • June 2001 –Richard Clarke gives a direct warning to FAA to increase security measures in light of impending terrorist attack and FAA refuses to implement them.


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Preparations for Attacks

  • July 2001 – FAA issues a warning telling airlines to use the highest level of caution and another saying “terror groups are known to be planning and training for hijackings, as we ask you therefore to use caution.”

  • August 2001 – FAA issues a warning to airlines that terrorists have made breakthroughs in disguising weapons as cell phones, key chains, and pens.

  • August - September 2001 – NORAD practices for hijackings of planes from the states of Utah and Washington.

  • September 2001 – Sydney Olympics officials reveal that “A fully loaded, fueled airliner crashing into the opening ceremony before a worldwide television audience at the Sydney Olympics is one of the greatest security fears for the Games.”  Australia puts 6 planes in the air at all times to intercept wayward aircraft (planning is also underway for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah to defend against plane attacks when 9/11 occurs).


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Zacarias Moussaoui

  • August 2001 – Zacarias Moussaoui is arrested in Minneapolis, MN with letters that connect him to Malaysia (where a meeting of al Qaeda operatives occurred under the watch of the CIA in 2000) and some of the hijackers.  He also has an unexplained $32,000 bank balance, two knives, fighting gloves, shin guards, and has prepared for violence through physical training.

  • He paid $8,300 for flight training, mostly in cash, to use a 747 aircraft simulator. He asked “how much fuel is on board a 747 and how much damage could it cause if it hit anything”? He has no aviation background, little previous training, and no pilot’s license, he wants to fly only as an ego-boosting thing, he is extremely interested in the operation of the plane’s doors and control panel, and wants to know how to communicate with flight tower.

  • He is evasive and belligerent when asked about his background. He mostly practices flying in the air rather than taking off or landing.  The flight school sends information to the FBI and receives little interest, so it contacts them again as says: “Do you realize how serious this is? This man wants training on a 747. A 747 fully loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon.”  Moussaoui is arrested but not connected to the 9/11 attackers until after 9/11.


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Zacarias Moussaoui

  • August 2, 2001 – FBI headquarters Radical Fundamentalist Unit agent calls FBI Minneapolis office supervisor that he is getting people “spun up” over Zacarias Moussaoui … supervisor says he is trying to get people at FBI headquarters “spun up” because he is trying to make sure Moussaoui does “not take control of a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center.”• August 23-27, 2001 – FBI agents in Minneapolis are convinced Zacarias Moussaoui is planning to do something with a plane. One agent writes he might “fly something into the World Trade Center.”  They decide to pursue a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant – in more than 10,000 requests over 20 years, every single warrant has been granted – yet FBI headquarters decides against it due to a mistaken understanding by its legal experts of the FISA rules.• August 24, 2001 – A Minneapolis FBI agent contacts CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center and calls Moussaoui a “suspect 747 airline attacker” and a “suspect airline suicide attacker.” FBI headquarters chastises the Minneapolis office for contacting headquarters without permission.


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Hmmmmm????

  • July 2001 – Attorney General John Ashcroft stops flying commercial aircraft due to an unknown threat assessment ... Ashcroft will not answer questions about it.

  • September 2001 – Author Salman Rushdie is banned by US from taking internal US flights due to “intelligence of something about to happen.”

  • September 10, 2001 – Eight hours prior to the attacks, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown receives warning from his security people at the airport to be cautious when traveling ... he is headed for New York• September 10, 2001 – President Bush is staying at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, FL. Surface to air missiles are placed on roof of the resort.• September 2001 – Pentagon officials, including US generals, are warned not to fly and cancelled trips for the morning of September 11.


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