Last week the 9-11 Commission subpoenaed some Pentagon papers and is still arguing with the White House about the release of other documents, complaining that panelists have “encountered some serious delays in obtaining needed documents from the Department of Defense. We are especially dismayed by problems in the production of the records of activities of NORAD and certain air force commands on September 11, 2001.”
So far the government simply has not answered basic questions, brought not by politicians but by families of the victims. Mindy Kleinberg, who lost her husband at the WTC, has pointed out to the commission that NORAD was not contacted by the FAA until 32 minutes after the loss of contact with Flight 11. And she called it “more baffling still” that fighters weren’t scrambled from the nearest air force bases to intercept the hijacked airliners. Kleinberg noted that planes of NORAD’s North East Air Defense Sector (NEADS) were actually on maneuvers that morning that should have made them immediately available. Nevertheless, at 9:41 a.m., one hour and 11 minutes after NORAD confirmed that the first plane was hijacked, the skies over D.C. were unprotected and Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Fighter jets, she pointed out, were still miles away.
“Why,” she asked, “was there a delay in the FAA notifying NORAD? Why was there a delay in NORAD scrambling fighter jets? How is this possible, when NEADS was fully staffed with planes at the ready and monitoring our Northeast airspace?”
Additional reporting: Ashley Glacel, Sheelah Kolhatkar, and Alicia Ng