Under a pending agreement, a developer and two investors will get back most of their original $124 million investment to lease the World Trade Center just six weeks before a terrorist attack destroyed the twin towers.
Developer Larry Silverstein and investors Lloyd Goldman and Joseph Cayre are nearing a deal that would give them about $98 million back from that investment, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The deal also would allow Silverstein to retain control of rebuilding the office space at the site in lower Manhattan, the Times said.
It was the largest real estate deal in New York history when Silverstein and his partners paid the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about $800 million in fees and down payments for a 99-year lease. They agreed to pay about $120 million in rent per year.
Of that $800 million, Silverstein put up about $14 million, Goldman and Cayre provided about $110 million, and about $127 million came from Westfield America, which operated the shopping mall at the trade center, the Times said. The GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp. lent Silverstein $563 million.
Silverstein and the Port Authority have agreed to buy out Westfield America, the newspaper said. Silverstein will use insurance payments he has received to repay GMAC, which would then turn over $130 million in escrow and $98 million in reserve to Silverstein, the Times said.
The $130 million would be used for rebuilding and the $98 million would be returned to Silverstein and his investors, the Times said.
“We are very close to an agreement with all the parties,” Greg Trevor, a Port Authority spokesman, told the Times.
A spokesman for Silverstein declined to comment. GMAC issued a statement saying the deal is still subject to approval by Westfield and bondholders.
NEW ALLEGATIONS TONIGHT ABOUT ILLEGAL STRIP SEARCHES TAKING PLACE INSIDE REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT.
ON MONDAY, THE I-TEAM UNCOVERED CHARGES OF SERIOUS SECURITY LAPSES THERE AND NOW, WE’RE HEARING ABOUT SOME DISTURBING INCIDENTS RELATED TO PASSENGER SCREENING.
ANDREA MCCARREN JOINS US WITH MORE ON THE STORY.
Andrea McCarren on-set: IN TSA JARGON, THEY’RE CALLED PRIVATE SCREENINGS. THAT’S WHEN A PASSENGER WHO SETS OFF AN ALARM IS TAKEN TO ANOTHER LOCATION AND CHECKED MORE THOROUGHLY FOR WEAPONS OR EXPLOSIVES.
BUT WE’VE NOW LEARNED ABOUT SOME PRIVATE SCREENINGS THAT APPARENTLY WENT TOO FAR.
Story: TSA Employee: “I couldn’t imagine my sister or my mother going through that process. I was so upset.”
AGAIN AND AGAIN, TSA EMPLOYEES AT REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT -INCLUDING SUPERVISORS-TOLD US THAT PASSENGERS WERE ASKED TO REMOVE THEIR CLOTHING AND EXPOSE THEIR PRIVATE PARTS DURING SECURITY SCREENINGS…A CLEAR VIOLATION OF TSA’S OWN INTERNAL GUIDELINES… OBTAINED BY THE I-TEAM.
TSA Employee: “The look on their face would almost give you the sense that they felt like they were in a sense being raped. In a sense, being victimized and to a certain extent, they were. “
TSA Employee: “That really incensed me that someone felt that they could just put on some gloves and they could just violate someone to that degree.”
TSA Employee: “They actually had the passenger remove the clothing that covered the sensitive area and perform a duck walk to see if something would fall out.”
IN FACT, SOME OF THOSE SO-CALLED PRIVATE SCREENINGS WERE ALLEGEDLY CONDUCTED IN A VERY PUBLIC PLACE: THIS STAIRWELL…ACCESSIBLE TO OTHER PASSENGERS AND AIRPORT EMPLOYEES.
TSA Employee: “The private screenings were conducted right in that stairwell”
Andrea McCarren: Isn’t that an inappropriate place to be searched?
TSA Employee: “That’s a very inappropriate place to be searched.”
TSA EMPLOYEES SAY AFTER THEY COMPLAINED, THE SCREENINGS WERE MOVED INTO THIS MANAGERS’ OFFICE… WHERE THEY ALLEGE, UNSUSPECTING PASSENGERS WERE EITHER VIDEOTAPED OR MONITORED ON CLOSED CIRCUIT TELEVISION.
TSA Employee: I couldn’t believe it! I said is that a camera up there? And they said yeah.
Andrea McCarren: Do you think the women being strip searched had any idea they were being videotaped? TSA Employee: Absolutely not
A TSA OFFICIAL INSISTS THE CAMERA WAS COVERED UP AND EVEN DEACTIVATED… A FACT SEVERAL EMPLOYEES DISPUTE.
Andrea McCarren: You saw a light go on in that camera? TSA Employee: “Right.”
SOME TSA EMPLOYEES ALSO ALLEGE THAT THE PASSENGERS SELECTED FOR ADDITIONAL SCREENING WERE OFTEN DETERMINED WELL BEFORE THEY REACHED THE MAGNETOMETERS. Andrea McCarren: “You’re saying a FEMA (website – news) le passenger would be stopped for additional screening not because she set off an alarm but because of her breast size?”
TSA Employee: “Absolutely, Yes”
IN FACT, SHE SAYS SOME SCREENERS EVEN -INTENTIONALLY- SET OFF MAGNETOMETERS BY KICKING THEM.
TSA Employee: “It leaves supervisors in a very bad spot because if the manager’s enjoying it, then how are you going to tell him to stop them from doing it?”
Mark Hatfield, TSA Spokesman: “The rules are non-negotiable and they apply to everybody.”
TSA SPOKESMAN MARK HATFIELD.
Mark Hatfield, TSA Spokesman: “In terms of a violation or a criminal act, something that violates civil rights or the privacy of an individual, there’s zero tolerance for that. And we’ll get to the bottom of that and root out the individuals.”
SOME FEMALE PASSENGERS FEAR IT’S ALL PART OF A GROWING TREND TOWARD MORE AGGRESSIVE SCREENING.
Woman #1: “Sometimes they overdo it. I’ve been almost stripped, practically.”
Woman #2: “You’re sort of treated like a criminal.”
Woman #3: “I was like, whoah! You can’t do that and the supervisor who I had been objecting to was standing right there and he said yes, we can.”
TSA Employee: “It’s very upsetting to see this happen and there are a lot of screeners that took his job thinking that they could do something good and many of them have quit and many of them are talking about quitting now.”
Andrea McCarren on-set: SO, WHO INVESTIGATES COMPLAINTS ABOUT TSA SCREENINGS? WELL, THE TSA DOES! THROUGH THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, WE’VE REQUESTED ALL OF THE PASSENGER COMPLAINTS ABOUT SCREENINGS AT NATIONAL AIRPORT AND WILL REPORT BACK ONCE WE HAVE THAT INFORMATION.
REPORTING LIVE FOR THE I-TEAM, ANDREA MCCARREN, ABC7 NEWS.
Tuesday September 11, 2001 is a date that will go down in history for the brutal terrorist attacks in America. Here we have drawn together the key moments to make a complete diary of that terrible day.
7.59 a.m. A glorious morning when American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston’s Logan Airport for Los Angeles.
8:01 a.m. United Airlines Flight 93 leaves from Newark International bound for San Francisco.
8:10 a.m. American Airlines Flight 77 leaves Washington’s Dulles Airport going to Los Angeles.
8:14 a.m. United Airlines Flight 175 leaves Logan Airport for Los Angeles.
Some time into the flight a stewardess makes a distress call to her firm’s flight operations centre and says passengers are being stabbed. She gives the seat number of a hijacker.
8:28 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 makes an unexpected hard left turn, heading over New York. Captain John Ogonowski or his co-pilot press a button allowing air traffic controllers to hear the cockpit conversation.
“Don’t do anything foolish,” a man says. “You’re not going to get hurt. We have more planes, we have other planes.”
8:45 a.m. A hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center, tearing a gaping hole in the building and setting it afire.
9:03 a.m.: A second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes. Both buildings are burning.
9:17 a.m.: The Federal Aviation Administration shuts down all New York City area airports.
9:21 a.m.: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey orders all bridges and tunnels in the New York area closed.
9:30 a.m.: President Bush, speaking in Sarasota, Florida, says the country has suffered an “apparent terrorist attack.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alerts the US military air defence command that an airliner is heading toward the Pentagon. Two F-16 fighter jets are scrambled from Virginia’s Langley Air Force Base, 130 miles away.
9:40 a.m.: The FAA halts all flight operations at U.S. airports, the first time in U.S. history that air traffic nationwide has been halted.
9:43 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon, sending up a huge plume of smoke. Evacuation begins immediately.
9:45 a.m.: The White House evacuates.
9:57 a.m.: Bush departs from Florida.
9.58 a.m. On Flight 93, some passengers, learning of the other crashes, realise the hijackers plan to turn their plane into another flying bomb and decide to tackle them.
10:05 a.m.: The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris forms and slowly drifts away from the building.
10:08 a.m.: Secret Service agents armed with automatic rifles are deployed into Lafayette Park across from the White House.
10:10 a.m.: A portion of the Pentagon collapses.
10:10 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked, crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh.
10:13 a.m.: The United Nations building evacuates, including 4,700 people from the headquarters building and 7,000 total from UNICEF and U.N. development programs.
10:22 a.m.: In Washington, the State and Justice departments are evacuated, along with the World Bank.
10:24 a.m.: The FAA reports that all inbound transatlantic aircraft flying into the United States are being diverted to Canada.
10:28 a.m.: The World Trade Center’s north tower collapses from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke.
10:45 a.m.: All federal office buildings in Washington are evacuated.
10.46 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell cuts short his trip to Latin America to return to the United States.
10.48 a.m.: Police confirm the plane crash in Pennsylvania.
10:53 a.m.: New York’s primary elections, scheduled for Tuesday, are postponed.
10:54 a.m.: Israel evacuates all diplomatic missions.
10:57 a.m.: New York Gov. George Pataki says all state government offices are closed.
11:02 a.m.: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay at home and orders an evacuation of the area south of Canal Street.
11:16 a.m.: CNN reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing emergency-response teams in a precautionary move.
11:18 a.m.: American Airlines reports it has lost two aircraft. American Flight 11, a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles, had 81 passengers and 11 crew aboard. Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington’s Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, had 58 passengers and six crew members aboard. Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.
11:26 a.m.: United Airlines reports that United Flight 93, en route from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California, has crashed in Pennsylvania. The airline also says that it is “deeply concerned” about United Flight 175.
11:59 a.m.: United Airlines confirms that Flight 175, from Boston to Los Angeles, has crashed with 56 passengers and nine crew members aboard. It hit the World Trade Center’s south tower.
12:04 p.m.: Los Angeles International Airport, the destination of three of the crashed airplanes, is evacuated.
12:15 p.m: San Francisco International Airport is evacuated and shut down. The airport was the destination of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania.
12:15 p.m.: The Immigration and Naturalization Service says U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are on the highest state of alert, but no decision has been made about closing borders.
12:30 p.m.: The FAA says 50 flights are in U.S. airspace, but none are reporting any problems.
1:04 p.m.: Bush, speaking from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, says that all appropriate security measures are being taken, including putting the U.S. military on high alert worldwide. He asks for prayers for those killed or wounded in the attacks and says, “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”
1:27 p.m.: A state of emergency is declared by the city of Washington.
1:44 p.m.: The Pentagon says five warships and two aircraft carriers will leave the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, to protect the East Coast from further attack and to reduce the number of ships in port. The two carriers, the USS George Washington and the USS John F. Kennedy, are headed for the New York coast. The other ships headed to sea are frigates and guided missile destroyers capable of shooting down aircraft.
1:48 p.m.: Bush leaves Barksdale Air Force Base aboard Air Force One and flies to an Air Force base in Nebraska.
2 p.m.: Senior FBI sources tell CNN they are working on the assumption that the four airplanes that crashed were hijacked as part of a terrorist attack.
2:30 p.m.: The FAA announces there will be no U.S. commercial air traffic until noon EDT Wednesday at the earliest.
2:49 p.m.: At a news conference, Giuliani says that subway and bus service are partially restored in New York City. Asked about the number of people killed, Giuliani says, “I don’t think we want to speculate about that — more than any of us can bear.”
3:55 p.m.: Karen Hughes, a White House counselor, says the president is at an undisclosed location, later revealed to be Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, and is conducting a National Security Council meeting by phone. Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice are in a secure facility at the White House. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is at the Pentagon.
3:55 p.m.: Giuliani now says the number of critically injured in New York City is up to 200 with 2,100 total injuries reported.
4 p.m: CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor reports that U.S. officials say there are “good indications” that Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, suspected of coordinating the bombings of two U.S. embassies in 1998, is involved in the attacks, based on “new and specific” information developed since the attacks.
4:06 p.m.: California Gov. Gray Davis dispatches urban search-and-rescue teams to New York.
4:10 p.m.: Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex is reported on fire.
4:20 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says he was “not surprised there was an attack (but) was surprised at the specificity.” He says he was “shocked at what actually happened — the extent of it.”
4:25 p.m.: The American Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange say they will remain closed Wednesday.
4:30 p.m.: The president leaves Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska aboard Air Force One to return to Washington.
5:15 p.m.: CNN Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports fires are still burning in part of the Pentagon. No death figures have been released yet.
5:20 p.m.: The 47-story Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex collapses. The evacuated building is damaged when the twin towers across the street collapse earlier in the day. Other nearby buildings in the area remain ablaze.
5:30 p.m.: CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King reports that U.S. officials say the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania could have been headed for one of three possible targets: Camp David, the White House or the U.S. Capitol building.
6 p.m.: Explosions are heard in Kabul, Afghanistan, hours after terrorist attacks targeted financial and military centers in the United States. The attacks occurred at 2:30 a.m. local time. Afghanistan is believed to be where bin Laden, who U.S. officials say is possibly behind Tuesday’s deadly attacks, is located. U.S. officials say later that the United States had no involvement in the incident whatsoever. The attack is credited to the Northern Alliance, a group fighting the Taliban in the country’s ongoing civil war.
6:10 p.m.:Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay home Wednesday if they can.
6:40 p.m.: Rumsfeld, the U.S. defense secretary, holds a news conference in the Pentagon, noting the building is operational. “It will be in business tomorrow,” he says.
6:54 p.m.: Bush arrives back at the White House aboard Marine One and is scheduled to address the nation at 8:30 p.m. The president earlier landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland with a three-fighter jet escort. CNN’s King reports Laura Bush arrived earlier by motorcade from a “secure location.”
7:17 p.m.: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says the FBI is setting up a Web site for tips on the attacks: www.ifccfbi.gov. He also says family and friends of possible victims can leave contact information at 800-331-0075.
7:02 p.m.: CNN’s Paula Zahn reports the Marriott Hotel near the World Trade Center is on the verge of collapse and says some New York bridges are now open to outbound traffic.
7:45 p.m.: The New York Police Department says that at least 78 officers are missing. The city also says that as many as half of the first 400 firefighters on the scene were killed.
8:30 p.m.: President Bush addresses the nation, saying “thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil” and asks for prayers for the families and friends of Tuesday’s victims. “These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve,” he says. The president says the U.S. government will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed the acts and those who harbor them. He adds that government offices in Washington are reopening for essential personnel Tuesday night and for all workers Wednesday.
9:22 p.m.: CNN’s McIntyre reports the fire at the Pentagon is still burning and is considered contained but not under control.
9:57 p.m.: Giuliani says New York City schools will be closed Wednesday and no more volunteers are needed for Tuesday evening’s rescue efforts. He says there is hope that there are still people alive in rubble. He also says that power is out on the westside of Manhattan and that health department tests show there are no airborne chemical agents about which to worry.
10:49 p.m.: CNN Congressional Correspondent Jonathan Karl reports that Attorney General Ashcroft told members of Congress that there were three to five hijackers on each plane armed only with knives.
10:56 p.m: CNN’s Zahn reports that New York City police believe there are people alive in buildings near the World Trade Center.
11:54 p.m.: CNN Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno reports that a government official told him there was an open microphone on one of the hijacked planes and that sounds of discussion and “duress” were heard. Sesno also reports a source says law enforcement has “credible” information and leads and is confident about the investigation.
TEWKSBURY, Mass. — Like many businesses, Avid Technology Inc. lost one of its own in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Douglas Gowell, the company’s director of new business development, was traveling to Los Angeles to promote a new product when Flight 175 slammed into the World Trade Center.
Avid employees struggled to cope with the loss of their co-worker and the frustration they felt over the attacks. But unlike most other companies, Avid was in a position to help.
The company loaned the FBI digital editing equipment that allowed investigators to enhance and sharpen video images of two of the hijackers taken hours before the attacks.
One of the images showed lead hijacker Mohamed Atta and another one of the hijackers, Abdulaziz Alomari, passing through a security checkpoint at the Portland, Maine, airport at 5:45 a.m. on Sept. 11. Hours later, they were at Logan International Airport in Boston.
In the weeks after the attacks, the airport image of Atta was shown repeatedly on televisions around the world.
Investigators used the enhanced images to retrace the hijackers’ steps in Portland. Surveillance cameras filmed the pair at an automated teller machine, a gas station and a Wal-Mart store. The FBI released the images to the public, generating many tips from Portland residents who saw the pair the day before the attacks.
“They did a terrific job of enhancing some of the poor quality images we had of (the hijackers),” said Charles Prouty, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office.
“It was a very critical part of the investigation,” Prouty said. “We still, even to this day, can’t say for sure why they were in Portland, but their training manual said, ‘Don’t come together, come from different directions to minimize the chance of detection.”‘
Earlier this year, Prouty presented the FBI’s Exceptional Public Service Award to Avid for its assistance in the investigation.
“We, like everybody else, wanted to be able to do something,” said Chief Executive David Krall. “We were fortunate enough to be in a position where we could use our technology.”
Avid’s computer-based editing products are used to make films, television news videos and music recordings. The company has won an Oscar, Emmy and a Grammy.
Its forensic video products are used by more than 50 state, local and federal law enforcement agencies across the country. “dTective,” the video-editing system developed by Avid and Ocean Systems of Burtonsville, Md., is used to stabilize shaky images, isolate images from multi-camera surveillance systems and adjust lighting to make sharper images.
The system was used last year in the case of Nathaniel Brazill, a 13-year-old Florida boy charged with killing his teacher.
The system was able to take time-lapsed video and turn it into real-time video, allowing the jury to see the boy’s true gait and how long he pointed the gun at his teacher, said Grant Fredericks, Avid’s manager of video forensic solutions.
During his trial, Brazill insisted that he only meant to scare the teacher and that the gun went off accidentally.
But the enhanced surveillance video showed the boy holding the gun for more than 10 seconds and pointing it at the teacher for four seconds more. He was convicted of second-degree murder.
“It was a multiplexed camera at the school, with a number of cameras recording to a single videotape,” Fredericks said. “The difficulty was that the local police did not have the tools to view that videotape.”
Avid employees will mark the anniversary of Sept. 11 by observing a moment of silence in memory of their colleague, Doug Gowell, 52.
Last week, the company installed a plaque for Gowell. Outside the company’s headquarters, employees planted a tree for Gowell. At the foot of the tree is an American flag, with a wreath of yellow roses around a picture of a cross.
Sept. 11, 2001: “American 11 heavy, Boston Center. Your transponder appears to be inoperative. Please recycle. . . . American 11 heavy, how do you read Boston Center? Over.
“Watch supervisor, I have a possible hijack of American 11 heavy. Recommend notifying Norad.”
At 8:40 a.m. EDT, Tech. Sgt. Jeremy W. Powell of North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (Norad) Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, N.Y., took the first call from Boston Center. He notified NEADS commander Col. Robert K. Marr, Jr., of a possible hijacked airliner, American Airlines Flight 11.
“Part of the exercise?” the colonel wondered. No; this is a real-world event, he was told. Several days into a semiannual exercise known as Vigilant Guardian, NEADS was fully staffed, its key officers and enlisted supervisors already manning the operations center “battle cab.”
In retrospect, the exercise would prove to be a serendipitous enabler of a rapid military response to terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Senior officers involved in Vigilant Guardian were manning Norad command centers throughout the U.S. and Canada, available to make immediate decisions.
Marr ordered two F-15 fighters sitting alert at Otis Air National Guard (ANG) Base, Mass., to “battle stations.” “The fighters were cocked and loaded, and even had extra gas on board,” he recalled.
Marr called Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold, commander of the Continental U.S. Norad Region (Conar), at Tyndall AFB, Fla., told him about the suspected hijacked aircraft and suggested interceptors be scrambled. Arnold, who also heads the 1st Air Force for Air Combat Command, was in his Air Operations Center preparing for another day of the exercise.
“I told him to scramble; we’ll get clearances later,” Arnold said. His instincts to act first and get permission later were typical of U.S. and Canadian commanders that day. On Sept. 11, the normal scramble-approval procedure was for an FAA official to contact the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and request Pentagon air support. Someone in the NMCC would call Norad’s command center and ask about availability of aircraft, then seek approval from the Defense Secretary–Donald H. Rumsfeld–to launch fighters.
Lt. Col. Timothy (Duff) Duffy, a 102 Fighter Wing (FW) F-15 pilot at Otis ANGB, had already heard about the suspected hijacking, thanks to a phone call from the FAA’s Boston Approach Control. He had the call transferred to the unit’s command post, grabbed Maj. Daniel (Nasty)Nash, his wingman, and started suiting up. Another officer told Duffy, “This looks like the real thing.”
“Halfway to the jets, we got ‘battle stations,’ and I briefed Nasty on the information I had about the American Airlines flight,” Duffy said. “About 4-5 min. later, we got the scramble order and took off.”
Also an airline pilot, Duffy had a bad feeling about the suspected hijacking; something didn’t feel right. Consequently, he jammed the F-15’s throttles into afterburner and the two-ship formation devoured the 153 mi. to New York City at supersonic speeds. “It just seemed wrong. I just wanted to get there. I was in full-blower all the way,” he said.
Unknown to Duffy, Nash and every commander being notified at the time, American Flight 11 had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) about the time both F-15s were taking off. America’s terrorist nightmare had begun.
Almost simultaneous with Marr’s call to Arnold at Conar, the same hijack notification was being passed by phone to a Norad command center deep inside Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, and the joint FAA/ Defense Dept. Air Traffic Services Cell (ATSC) colocated with the FAA’s ATC System Command Center in Herndon, Va. (AW&ST Dec. 17, 2001, p. 96).
“NEADS instantly ordered the scramble, then called me to get Cinc [Norad commander-in-chief] approval for it,” said Capt. Michael H. Jellinek, a Canadian Forces (Navy) officer serving as Norad command director that morning. He’s also director of plans, requirements and readiness at Norad’s Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. Fortunately, Maj. Gen. Eric A. Findley, another Canadian and Norad’s director of operations, was already in the mountain for the Vigilant Guardian exercise. He quickly approved the fighters’ launch.
Back at the NEADS Operations Center, identification technicians were sorting thousands of green dots on their radar scopes, looking for American Flight 11. Since terrorists had turned off the Boeing 767’s transponder, FAA controllers could only tell NEADS technicians where the flight had last been seen. The NEADS radar screens showed “primary” or “skin-paint” returns, the raw radar pulses reflected from an aircraft’s surface.
Ironically, FAA officials only a few months earlier had tried to dispense with “primary” radars altogether, opting to rely solely on transponder returns as a way to save money. Norad had emphatically rejected the proposal. Still, on Sept. 11, Norad’s radars were spread around the periphery of the U.S., looking outward for potential invaders. Inside U.S. borders, very few radars were feeding NEADS scopes.
In essence, technicians were half-blind, trying to separate hijacked airliners from thousands of skin-paint returns. At the time, more than 4,000 aircraft were airborne over the nation, most in the northeast sector, which monitors half a million square miles of airspace.
“We were trying to determine which [radar return] was him. But we couldn’t get what we needed just from our scopes,” said MSgt. Maureen Dooley, a noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of NEADS’ identification technicians. She and other troops were constantly on the phone with the FAA, airlines and others, looking for clues. “If we could get good last-known-positions and tail numbers, that would help the fighters pick out the right aircraft.”
“The biggest task was maintaining track continuity,” echoed Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Lamarche, NCOIC of the air surveillance section. Later, his team thought they had spotted a fifth hijacked aircraft. “This fifth guy made an abrupt turn toward a major city–but it was OK. He was told to land there. It sure had our hearts going and adrenaline pumping. We didn’t know what he was doing.”
Marr capsulized the tense moments: “The NEADS battle managers get the last known location, estimate [Flight AA11’s] speed and find a green dot that’s not identified. Almost as soon as it’s discovered, it disappears. It’s 8:46 a.m. A shocked airman rushes from the computer maintenance room saying, ‘CNN is reporting that the World Trade Center has been hit by an airliner.’ There are no other missing aircraft. As we watch the TV, another airliner shows up on the screen, aimed for the second tower [9:02 a.m.]. The shocking reality becomes apparent. This is no longer ‘an accident.’ New York City is under attack.”
Flying supersonically, the F-15s were still 8 min. from Manhattan when United Airlines Flight 175 smashed into the WTC’s south tower. “Huntress,” the NEADS weapons control center, had told Duffy his hijacked target was over John F. Kennedy International Airport. He hadn’t heard about the United aircraft yet.
“The second time I asked for bogey dope [location of AA11], Huntress told me the second aircraft had just hit the WTC. I was shocked . . . and I looked up to see the towers burning,” Duffy said. He asked for clarification of their mission, but was met with considerable confusion.
In Norad’s command center, “a bunch of things started happening at once,” Jellinek said. “We initiated an Air Threat Conference [call]. We were getting information about other possible hijackings.” Telephone links were established with the NMCC, Canada’s equivalent command center, Strategic Command, theater Cincs and federal emergency-response agencies. At one time or another, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld and key military officers were heard on the open line.
Confusion was rampant, but officers and enlisted troops immediately reverted to their professional roles, trying to sort rumor from fact. Findley and his senior staff in the Norad Battle Management Center told each air defense sector to “generate, generate, generate” sorties–get as many fighters in the air as possible.
AT THE TIME, NORAD had 20 fighters on armed alert throughout the North American continent. Only 14 were in the continental U.S. at seven bases; the rest were in Alaska and Canada. Within 18 hr., 300 fighters would be on alert at 26 locations.
Calls from fighter units also started pouring into Norad and sector operations centers, asking, “What can we do to help?” At Syracuse, N.Y., an ANG commander told Marr, “Give me 10 min. and I can give you hot guns. Give me 30 min. and I’ll have heat-seeker [missiles]. Give me an hour and I can give you slammers [Amraams].”
Marr replied, “I want it all.” NEADS controllers put F-16s at Langley AFB, Va., on battle-stations alert at 9:09 a.m., prepared to back up the F-15s over New York. But the FAA command center then reported 11 aircraft either not in communication with FAA facilities, or flying unexpected routes. At 9:24, the Langley-based alert F-16s were scrambled and airborne in 6 min., headed for Washington.
By 9:26 a.m., the FAA command center stopped all departures nationwide. At 9:41, American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, elevating tension levels even further. NEADS’ Sr. Airman Stacia Rountree, an identification technician, said, “We had three aircraft down and the possibility of others hijacked. We had to think outside the box,” making up procedures on the fly. Before the day ended, 21 aircraft across the U.S. had been handled as “tracks of interest.”
“We didn’t know how many more there were. . . . Are there five? Six? The only way we could tell was to implement Scatana–sanitize the airspace. Get everybody down,” said Lt. Col. William E. Glover, Jr., chief of Norad’s air defense operations.
Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, Norad commander-in-chief, was in the Cheyenne Mountain battle center by then. He and his staff suggested, via an open command link, implementing a limited version of Scatana–a federal plan designed to take emergency control of all domestic air traffic and navigation aids. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta immediately concurred and gave the order to get all aircraft on the ground as soon as possible. That action probably saved many lives, but without unnecessary, paralyzing restrictions of a full Scatana order.
Mineta’s decision–and the military recommendation that triggered it–may have been prompted by a few airline pilots reporting terrorists on the radio, talking about other hijacked aircraft. American Flight 77 had hit the Pentagon, and United Flight 93 was being tracked, heading for Chicago or Cleveland, then Washington, prompting the F-16s’ scramble.
“We had all of our armed fighters in the air, but needed more,” Marr said. Every unit in the northeastern U.S. was loading F-16s, F-15s and A-10s with any armament available, then being directed to combat air patrols (CAPs) over major cities. Soon, Navy F/A-18s, F-14s and E-2Cs–some from two carriers steaming off the East Coast–were flying CAP and surveillance missions over major cities. Ultimately, Navy P-3s and USAF/ ANG C-130s would be pressed into service, using their normal radars to search for intruders.
At Norad, Glover phoned Arnold, telling him Vice President Cheney had given the authorization to shoot down any threatening aircraft in order to save lives on the ground. “We created a free-fire zone over the nation’s capital,” Arnold said. “Anyone airborne who did not immediately turn away from the center of town, or who did not land, could be shot down.”
When someone–possibly President Bush–ordered the military to a Force Protection Condition Delta wartime posture, Norad commanders ordered massive steel doors be closed, “shutting down Cheyenne Mountain for real,” the first time in its 43-year history, an officer said. The FBI had warned that a flight originating in San Diego might be hijacked and headed for a target in Colorado. Another rumor referred to a Ryder rental truck full of explosives and driven by “Arab-looking men” targeting the mountain.
“It didn’t make sense, but those phone calls were happening,” Glover said. Every rumor was treated as a potential threat.
OVER NEW YORK, Duffy and Nash requested that a Maine-based ANG KC-135 tanker–assigned to support 102 FW training missions that morning–be positioned at 20,000 ft. above Kennedy airport. “Then, we worked on intercepting and visually identifying nearly everything that was in the air for the next five hours,” Duffy said.
“I treated this as a combat hop from the moment I saw the towers burning, and that made it easier to deal with . . . actions we might have to take,” he added.
Duffy estimated the F-15s intercepted and escorted about 100 aircraft, including emergency, military and news helicopters, plus dozens of private pilots who were unaware of the attacks. Some had seen the smoke over New York and decided to investigate. Nash said the F-15s flew “low-and-slow” to intercept helicopters flying at 500 ft.
When the KC-135 exhausted its fuel load and had to depart, a KC-10 arrived to support the F-15s. Another two Eagles from Otis ANGB joined the first two, flying CAP over New York. Duffy and Nash were directly over the north WTC tower when it collapsed. When they finally returned to Otis, they had been on CAP about 5.5 hr.
Above Washington, F-16s flown by crews of the 119th FW from Fargo, N.D.–which had been pulling Norad alert duty at Langley AFB–were prepared to shoot down United 93, if it came toward the capital city. Instead, passengers rushed the terrorists, causing the Boeing 757 to crash in southwestern Pennsylvania.
MAJ. PHILIP J. MCCARTHY, a weapons controller at NEADS, located an AWACS crew in the southeastern U.S. on a training mission and arranged to reposition it in the Northeast. “We wanted D.C. as the primary area for AWACS, but also wanted him to look into New York,” he said. In the confusion of the all-aircraft-grounding, someone told the AWACS to go back to Tinker AFB, Okla., its home base, but McCarthy was able to convince the crew to stay.
At the Herndon ATSC, Col. John Czabaranek and a growing staff of USAF Reserves–many reported, unasked, to help with the crisis–had become a critical communications node, shuttling information among the FAA, Norad, air defense sectors, the White House, Secret Service and other agencies. During the day, ATSC helped organize fighter escorts for Bush’s Air Force One. The President was in Sarasota, Fla., when the attacks occurred, but was quickly taken to Barksdale AFB, La., then to Offutt AFB, Neb.
At one point, the Secret Service wanted to get Bush into Cheyenne Mountain, protected by tons of granite, yet well-connected to his staff. However, advisers convinced him that he should “remain visible to the public,” an officer said.
“We received tasking from the Secret Service . . . to follow the President and protect him,” Conar commander Arnold said in Lockheed Martin’s Code One magazine. “We were not told where Air Force One was going. We were told just to follow the President. We scrambled available airplanes from Tyndall and then from Ellington [AFB] near Houston, Tex. . . . We maintained AWACS overhead the whole route.”
Late in the day, after NEADS confirmed a suspected hijacked airliner from Madrid, Spain, had turned around and was on the ground, Air Force One was cleared to return Bush to Washington. NEADS and the Herndon cell also organized fighter escorts for Attorney General John Ashcroft and other national leaders when deemed necessary.
WHILE ALL MILITARY units responded quickly and professionally on Sept. 11, “citizen soldiers” were typically first on the scene. Air National Guard and Reserve units were called initially, simply because many of them were easier to contact without going through a long, tortuous chain of command. Since then, outmoded procedures have been altered to ensure faster reactions from all units.
“The responsiveness of the Air National Guard [and other] units called into action–and how quickly they all came to the defense of the United States–was phenomenal,” said Col. Clark F. Speicher, NEADS vice commander. “Within a couple of hours, many of these units went from normal training to generating armed combat air patrols over many U.S. cities. There may have been a lot of different [armament] configurations out there, but so what.” Fighters typically carried Aim-9, Aim-7 or Amraam missiles, and 20-mm. ammunition.
FBI Director Robert Mueller continued to insist yesterday that federal authorities had no reason to suspect Islamic extremists were training at US flight schools before last week’s suicide hijackings, even as more evidence surfaced raising questions about those assertions.
The vice president of a flight school in Oklahoma told The Boston Globe yesterday that three weeks before Tuesday’s suicide hijackings, FBI agents interviewed him about a suspected terrorist who had trained at the school.
Dale Davis, the vice president of Airman Flight School in Norman, Okla., said FBI agents showed up at the facility asking questions about Zacarias Moussaoui, who was arrested in Minnesota last month after he tried to get flight simulator lessons on flying a commercial-size jet.
In addition, Davis said that FBI agents visited his flight school two years ago to ask questions about a former student who had been identified by federal authorities as an associate of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born dissident who is the prime suspect in organizing last week’s hijackings.
Davis also said that two of the men who hijacked two flights out of Boston’s Logan Airport last week, including Mohamed Atta, who investigators believe was the ringleader of the Boston hijackings, had visited the Norman flight school last year before deciding to attend one in Florida.
At a Washington briefing yesterday, Mueller repeated his assertion, first made Friday, that federal authorities had no inkling that terrorists were using US flight schools to acquire the training they needed to take the controls of commercial airline rs as they did on Tuesday.
”There were no warning signs that I’m aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country,” he said.
But the Globe reported Saturday that federal authorities have known for at least three years that two associates of bin Laden had trained in the United States as airline pilots.
The link between the Al-Qaeda terror group, allegedly led by bin Laden, and US flight schools emerged earlier this year at the trial of four men charged with the 1998 bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. At that trial, during which FBI agents were called as witnesses, an associate of bin Laden testified that he went to a flight school in Texas.
Prosecutors introduced evidence that a second associate of bin Laden, Ihab Ali Nawawi, had trained at Airman Flight School, as did Moussaoui, who is now being held in New York for questioning on suspicion that he is an associate of the hijackers.
In a telephone interview, Davis confirmed that the FBI had suspicions about Moussaoui at least three weeks before last week’s disaster.
The questions FBI agents posed to him appeared to be about whether Moussaoui could have been a terrorist, Davis said, including whether the alleged Algerian militant had ever made any ”extreme comments” about the United States.
When asked why they were inquiring about Moussaoui, Davis said, the agents replied that ”he had done something very bad.”
Davis said FBI agents had visited his school just two years earlier to inquire about Ihab Ali Nawawi, who took flight training there in 1993 and was later charged in connection with the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Africa, which were blamed on bin Laden’s group.
Davis also confirmed that Atta and another suspected hijacker, Marwan al-Shehhi, visited Airman Flight School, staying overnight at the school’s dormitory in the nearby Sooner Inn, before deciding to train at another facility.
”They did a school visit in July of 2000 but went elsewhere for whatever reason,” Davis said.
The Los Angeles Times yesterday quoted an unidentified federal official saying that Moussaoui asked only for lessons on ”steering, not landing” and cheered when he watched a news account of the suicide hijackings at the jail in Minnesota where he h as been held since last month.
Two other suspects being held for questioning in New York, Aybu Ali Khan and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, who had been living in New Jersey, were taken into custody on a train in Fort Worth, Texas, and arrested after police found they were carrying box cu tters similar to those used by some of the hijackers. Investigators believe the hijackers in Tuesday’s attack used box cutters because the tool’s plastic handle would not set off metal detectors at airport security checkpoints.
While authorities have not identified a fourth suspect being interrogated in New York, CNN yesterday said that the man is a doctor from San Antonio, and that Azmath and Khan may have been heading to his home there to hide. CNN said the man attended t he same flight school in Arizona as one of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.
A neighbor told The New York Times that one of the four men who lived in the apartment that Khan and Azmath listed as their home worked for the Saudi consulate in New York. That represents another lead for investigators, who already believe that the hijackers exploited Saudi connections to gain access to the United States and go about their business without attracting undue law enforcement attention.
The Globe reported Friday that some of the hijackers had used affiliations with Saudi Arabia, the United States’ staunchest Arab ally, to gain access to the United States and flight schools with less scrutiny from US authorities.
Most of the terrorists who commandeered the four planes last week trained at flight schools in Florida, gaining the aeronautics training they later used to kill thousands. According to flight instructors, foreign students with Saudi backing receive only cursory inspection by the US State Department before they are granted visas to come here.
Investigators in Boston, meanwhile, have identified a third car believed to have been used by the 10 men who hijacked two planes out of Logan International Airport. The car was found parked at Logan Airport and was rented from a local Dollar Rent a C ar franchise.
Previously, investigators had identified two cars rented from the Boston office of Alamo Rent a Car. One of the cars was found in a Logan parking lot, while the other had been left in Portland, Maine, by two suspected terrorists before they boarded a flight they allegedly used to connect with the doomed American Airlines Flight 11. Investigators believe the car found in Portland was used by Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, who sat next to Atta in the business class section of Flight 11.
An FBI report first obtained by Der Spiegel shows that when agents went through one of Atta’s bags, which did not make the transfer from a connecting flight from Portland, Maine, they found airline uniforms.
Investigators are trying to determine if Atta or any of his associates used the uniforms to gain access to areas of Logan Airport that would normally be secure, sources said. They are also trying to determine if the uniforms were connected to a break -in last April at the Hotel Nazionale in central Rome, in which two American Airlines pilots said they were robbed of their uniforms, badges, and airport access badges.
Investigators say they are still examining whether the hijackers had inside help among ground staff at Logan Airport, even though it appears they simply carried on the box-cutters and other knifelike objects they apparently used to take control of the planes.
FBI agents continue to show an interest in the Flagship Wharf condominium complex, where bin Laden’s brother owns six luxury units. Some members of the bin Laden family live in the building, and Boston Police have maintained a full-time guard detail there since Wednesday.
Bin Laden is estranged from his family, which has denounced his extremist views, but police are worried that the family or its property could face the sort of vigilante violence that has been visited on many Muslims and their businesses acr oss the United States since the suicide hijackings.
Sharon Grancey, the head of the Flagship Wharf condo association, declined to comment. But a resident said the FBI has visited the complex several times since last Tuesday.
”They’ve been in and out of the building,” said the resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
CBS News reported that a federal grand jury has been empaneled in New York to investigate the suicide hijackings. The grand jury will sit in suburban White Plains because the federal court in Lower Manhattan is still closed because of the attack.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said yesterday that associates of the hijackers may still be in the United States.
Ashcroft’s warning in part explained why it took several days for most airports, and even longer for Boston’s Logan Airport, to open last week after Tuesday’s suicide hijackings.
Ashcroft made his remarks during a briefing in Washington as he sought congressional support for a package of new antiterrorism legislation, and as FBI agents interrogated the four men in custody in New York.
Also yesterday, Mueller acknowledged that the investigation is being hampered by a lack of investigators who speak Arabic.
”We have had a language shortage for a period of time,” he said. ” I don’t think it would be just the FBI. I think it’s a number of federal agencies.”
The FBI director refused to say how many people have been arrested in the probe.
”There are a number of material witness warrants that have been issued. They are sealed in most cases, and I cannot give you direct numbers,” Mueller said.
But he spoke of the enormous scope of the probe, saying that the FBI has had 47,000 tips received over the Internet, while a telephone hotline has produced 7,800 tips. He said that the FBI’s field offices have generated an additional 26,000 leads.
Mueller said there were 500 investigators at FBI headquarters in Washington, representing 32 federal, state, and local agencies, running down all of the tips and leads.
Mueller said that 49 people who have been stopped and questioned in the course of the investigation have been detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.