Threats of terrorisms and plane hijackings, especially in the latter half of the twentieth century, are a matter of historical record. There are numerous accounts of individuals and groups planting bombs and seizing commercial airlines. Also, the notion of such acts have been a mainstay of popular literature, film and television for a long time. With this fact being so prevalent in the common political and cultural zeitgeist, it would be hard for any government (especially a global power) not to take such threats seriously.
It appears, as early as September 1972, that such threats were. Richard Nixon formed a high-level, government panel at the time to develop methods to protect the US against the possibility of terrorist attacks (in various forms). Bureaucracy, Elections and Watergate eventually diluted the findings and purpose of the panel. Even as late as June 1995, President Clinton signed the PDD-39 Counterterrorism Directive in an attempt to increase the effectiveness of terrorism investigations, by placing the FBI in charge.
It is questionable how effective such measures and warnings were, but it does show that such notions were taken seriously at the time. It does seem obvious from both records and events (pre- 9/11) that the US government was aware of the seriousness. Boeing 707, continental airline flight 11, was destroyed, mid flight, by a bomb in 1962. Four US bound airlines were high jacked over Europe in 1970 (3 of which were later blown up on an airstrip in Jordan). Private Robert Preston stole an army helicopter and flew it to the White House in February of 1974. Five days later, Samuel Byck attempted to highjack a commercial plane…with the intention of crashing into the White House and killing Nixon. The list goes on and on.
Indeed, US officials had considered the possibility of planes being flown into the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta in 1996. In 1997, John O’Neill (the man who was killed on his second day of work as chief of security at the World Trade Centre on 9/11) warned, in his role as assistant director of the FBI, that imminent and organized terrorist attacks were possible and that terrorists were already operating in the US.
More evidently, we have the foiled 1995 terrorist plot: ‘Operation Bojinka’, which alerted the US to plans that included hijacking planes to attack the Pentagon, WTC and CIA headquarters. There are also actual events like the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000. An event that was, ironically, associated with Osama Bin Laden.
In August 2001, it was claimed that the US were warned by both French Intelligence authorities and The Taliban of an imminent terrorist attack against the US.
On August 6th, the CIA drafted a memo entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US”. This document was reported by at least a dozen or so mainstream newspapers and TV news outlets, after 9/11.
On September 7th 2001, the US State Department warned US citizens may be targeted by Al Qaeda associated terrorists
With all of this in mind, it is utterly staggering that in May 2002, Condoleezza Rice gave a press briefing where she stated:
“I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Centre, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."
This is compounded by her claims that (pre 9/11) intelligence reports “did not contain specific warning information, but only a generalized warning“, and did not contain information that Bin Laden and his associates were discussing a “particular planned attack against a specific target at any specific time, place, or by any specific method.“.
In retrospect, specific documents and testimony combined with historical precedence almost overwhelmingly show that the powers that be, were at least aware of the possibility of a 9/11-style terrorist event.
The 9/11 Commission Report was published in July 2004. Despite the CIA rebuking the final report, claiming that they regularly reported on “threats to civil aviation” and citing Osama Bin Laden as “a danger”; the 9/11 report exonerated both the Clinton and Bush administrations and their intelligence agencies of any blame.
It is interesting to note that that in December of 2003, Chairman Kean of the independent 9/11 commission pointed fingers inside the administration and ultimately insinuated that the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented. This brings us onto the second question: Did the US government, military, intelligence agencies have the capability to prevent the attacks? You only have to research the slew of operations that were planned and carried out in the year, months, weeks and days leading up to 9/11 (and on the day itself) to see that the capability of prevention was available.
In October of 2000, The Pentagon conducted the first of two emergency exercises (MASCAL) involving mock crashes of passenger aircraft into the Pentagon. NORAD planned a similar practice scenario in April 2001, which they ultimately rejected as being “too unrealistic”! Oddly, in the same month, Fort Meyer conducted a Force Protection Exercise which included aspects of NORAD’s “unrealistic” scenario. In June 2001, NORAD admitted that it had scrambled jets or diverted combat air patrols 67 times since September 2000, proving that such military capability of interception/prevention was possible. Further exercises were carried out.
- NORAD’s “Amalgam Virgo 01” (June 1st 2001),
- “Mall Strike 2001” (June 16th 2001)
- “Operation Dark Winter” (June 22nd / 23rd 2001 - which included scripted TV news naming Iraqi/Afghanistani terrorist groups as possible culprits),
- Another MASCAL exercise (June 29th 2001)
- Mock terrorism drill at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (September 8th 2001),
- NORAD’s operation “Northern Vigilance” (September 9th 2001)
- “Vigilant Guardian” (September 10th 2001 - a one-week exercise)
- Fort Belvoir’s “Garrison Control Exercise” (9/11)
- Fort Meyer’s “airport emergency operations” training exercise (9/11)
- NORAD’s simulated aircraft high-jacking exercise (9/11 - Source: Vanity Fair - 08/01/06).
- Joint CIA/NRO exercise involving simulated plane crashes into buildings (Source: USA Today - 08/22/02), another force protection exercise for Fort Myer Military Community (Source: DC Military - 09/14/01)
- FEMA’s “Operation TRIPOD” (Sept 12th 2001), which, coincidentally, had it’s command centre located at Pier 92 where the 9/11 command centre was ultimately located.
It does beg the questions: If they had prior knowledge, if they could have prevented it and didn’t… Did they allow it to happen?
You would have to ignore a lot of other aspects to make this argument work.
This leads us to the ultimate question: Were they complicit or even, directly responsible?
To Be Continued…