government actions leading to 911
“Nobody in our Government, and I don’t think the prior Government could envision flying planes into buildings” - George Bush.
However, in the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.
One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center. In another exercise, jets performed a mock shootdown over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet supposedly laden with chemical poisons headed toward a target in the United States. In a third scenario, the target was the Pentagon — but that drill was not run after Defense officials said it was unrealistic, NORAD and Defense officials say.
NORAD, in a written statement, confirmed that such hijacking exercises occurred. It said the scenarios outlined were regional drills, not regularly scheduled continent-wide exercises.
“Numerous types of civilian and military aircraft were used as mock hijacked aircraft,” the statement said. “These exercises tested track detection and identification; scramble and interception; hijack procedures; internal and external agency coordination and operational security and communications security procedures.”
A White House spokesman said Sunday that the Bush administration was not aware of the NORAD exercises. But the exercises using real aircraft show that at least one part of the government thought the possibility of such attacks, though unlikely, merited scrutiny.
On April 8, the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks heard testimony from national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that the White House didn’t anticipate hijacked planes being used as weapons.
On April 12, a watchdog group, the Project on Government Oversight, released a copy of an...