Planes “did scramble” on 9/11, they just ” arrived late “

FAQ #1: “Wasn’t the government unprepared for 9-11. How could they have responded?”
[Posted 29 December 2001]


This argument has been made repeatedly by the media:

“…The coordinated assault on the world’s financial and political capitals caught the United States completely off guard — despite a massive intelligence and law enforcement network devoted to detecting and thwarting such attacks…[This was because efforts were] focused largely on guarding against bomb threats to overseas targets… ” (‘The Washington Post,’ September 12, 2001)

It has been made by top government/military officials:

“We’re pretty good if the threat’s coming from outside. We’re not so good if the threat’s coming from inside.” (General Richard B. Myers in testimony at Senate hearing on is nomination to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, September 13, 2001) (2)

The argument resonates with many Americans because it corresponds to how they experienced 9-11. They were shocked and unsure what to do.

But most Americans are not part of the air traffic control system, which is run by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), or the air defense system, run by the military.

Most are unaware that these systems have routine procedures developed over many years. These procedures, practiced in drills and used in day-to-day situations, are meant to ensure that air safety and air defense personnel can function when confronted with unexpected events, even though ordinary people are understandably at a loss.

Consider this, by way of comparison. Imagine that one night a Canadian arsonist slips into Buffalo, New York, and using a new incendiary device, starts fires in four elementary schools.

People pull fire alarms near two of the schools. A neighbor calls the Fire Department when he sees smoke billowing out of the third school. And there is a Fire Station right across the street from the fourth school.

Yet not one fire truck arrives until after the schools have burned to the ground.

When asked why, the Buffalo Fire Chief explains, “We’re good at dealing with Buffalo arsonists but nobody expected some guy to sneak in from Canada!”

The Chief would be laughed out of court. People would say, “When the alarms came in, how could anyone in the Fire Department have known that these fires were started by a Canadian arsonist? And even if they did know, why wouldn’t they just follow their normal procedures – you know, slide down the pole, put on their coats, climb into the fire truck, turn on the siren. Why didn’t they at least show up and try to put out these fires?”

The same holds true for 9-11.

As we have documented in ‘Mr. Cheney’s Cover Story,‘ the FAA and the military have routine procedures for intercepting commercial jets. (3)

An Air Traffic Controller can call for an escort (that is, a military jet) to be sent up to find out why a commercial jet has flown off course and guide it to a safe landing place. Or an escort can be used to put pressure on an uncooperative pilot or to intimidate a hijacker with a show of force. (4)

Which brings us to the matter of Andrews Air Force base. Andrews is ten miles from the Pentagon. It is the airport used by the President and other top officials, so of course it has to have escort planes. This was especially true on 9-11 because Air Force One, the President’s jet, was in flight that day.

In fact, Andrews keeps combat units “in the highest possible state of readiness.” (5)

So here is the question that leaders such as George Bush, General Richard Myers and Donald Rumsfeld refuse to answer because they have no acceptable answer:

Why weren’t jet fighters scrambled from Andrew Air Force base to intercept American Flight 77 before it crashed into the Pentagon?


(1) For facts and analysis contradicting the official position on 9-11, see ‘EMPEROR’S CLOTHES ARTICLES ON 9-11 * A GUIDE,’ which can be read at
Alternative address is

(2) Gen. Richard B. Myers at Senate confirmation hearing 13 September 2001
Full transcript at:
The particular quotation about the U.S. being ill prepared to deal with internal terrorism was reprinted by mainstream media sources.

(3) ‘Mr. Cheney’s Cover Story,‘ which is Part 2 of ‘Guilty for 9-11: Bush, Rumsfeld, Myers.’ Can be read at

(4) ‘The Associated Press State & Local Wire’ 13 September 2001, Thursday, BC cycle, “Small private plane ordered to land in vicinity of Bush ranch.” Full text posted at:

(5) This quote comes from the DC Air National Guard (DCANG) Webite. The Website was changed around 911, possibly just after it; the quote is gone. The pre-911 DCANG Website can still be read at an archive site. For instructions, go to

In case the archived Web pages should be altered, you may read it at

For our backup site with general information on the 113th Fighter Wing stationed at Andrews, go to

If you can, please back up these Web pages in case they are modified or become unavailable.

The alteration of the DCANG Website is discussed at .

FAQ #2: “You charge that the military was made to stand down on 9-11. But didn’t planes in fact scramble? Didn’t they just arrive too late?”
[Posted 3 January 2002]

Quick Answer:

The new cover story, that “the planes were sent up but they arrived too late” also arrived pretty late: it was first put forth on September 14th on the CBS 6 PM news. Until that time, top officials said that no planes were scrambled to protect Washington, DC until after the Pentagon was hit. Vice President Cheney was giving out the old story as late as September 16th on the NBC TV program, MEET THE PRESS…(1a)

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!” – Sir Walter Scott.

More Detailed Answer:

This is the CBS cover story we mentioned in Section 1 of our Summary of Evidence. (1)

According to this cover story, jets were scrambled from Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod to intercept Flight 11, the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. Also, supposedly, jets were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base to intercept American Flight 77, the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. In both cases, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) supposedly called for the interceptors too late. Also, Otis AFB is about 185 miles from New York and Langley AFB is 129 miles from Washington, DC. So the interceptors supposedly had too far to travel.

Dan Rather broadcast this cover story on the CBS 6:00 news, September 14th. This was the first time that anybody said planes were scrambled from Langley AFB on 9-11. We did a little research and found 31 references to Langley in the English-speaking mass media, that is newspapers & TV, worldwide, between September 11th and the CBS News at 6 PM on the 14th.

Not one of these news reports about Langley Air Force Base mentioned Dan Rather’s excellent new fact!

General Richard B. Myers, Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9-11, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 13th. He testified at great length. The Senators asked him three times about the failure to scramble planes on 9-11. But Myers said nothing about planes scrambling from Langley Air Force base, where he had been stationed from 1987 to 1990. (3)

Apparently there was a communications problem getting the new cover story to some top officials. For instance, as late as September 16th, Vice President Cheney was telling ‘MEET THE PRESS’ that George Bush personally made the decision to send up interceptors and suggesting he had done so only after the Pentagon was hit. (1a)

And during a CBS News Special on September 12th, Dan Rather asked CBS Military Consultant Major Mitch Mitchell:

“These hijacked aircraft were in the air for quite a while, they made unusual turns, to say the least. Would–why doesn’t the Pentagon have the kind of protection that they can get a fighter–interceptor aircraft up, and if someone is going to plow an aircraft into the Pentagon, that we have at least some–some line of defense?” –CBS News Special Report (12:00 Noon PM ET) – September 12, 2001 “Aftermath of and investigation into attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon.” (1b)

Nobody contradicted the Dan Rather of September 12th until the new reality was unveiled by the Dan Rather of September 14th.

How amazing that fighter jets could be scrambled from Langley before the Pentagon was hit without a single top leader of the military or the Bush administration knowing it happened!

What a relief for President Bush, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Richard B. Myers (who happens to be the most powerful general in the Air Force) and Dan Rather himself to learn the good news from Dan Rather on the six o’clock news, September 14th: the Air Force had indeed sent up interceptors. It was just that nobody knew…

Read the transcript of that CBS news program. You will see that Rather cites no source for his new ‘information.’ He just says, casually, “CBS News has learned…” (2)

Four (4) days later, also without a word of explanation for this rewriting of history, NORAD incorporated the CBS report in its official timeline. The Langley interceptors had become a Fact.

We will explore several problems with the CBS/NORAD cover story in soon-to-be-published sections of the Summary of Evidence.

The following may be of particular interest.

First, the move from “we didn’t put planes up until after the Pentagon was hit,” which was the official story until Sept. 13th, to “we put planes up before the first World Trade Center attack,” was for the most part carried out during General Richard B. Myers’ testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 13th.

Second, if you read the transcript of that Senate hearing, (3) you can witness the new cover story being constructed right before your eyes.

Under pressure from the Senators to come up with something convincing, Myers twice changed his testimony, putting forward three entirely different versions of what happened September 11th. Myers’ last ‘reality’ was pretty close to what Dan Rather reported at 6 PM the next day. In between, Myers and the Senators went into a closed (i.e., secret) session.

Here is an excerpt from Senator Bill Nelson’s comments at the Armed Services Committee hearing. Note if you will the highly suggestive language, phrases such as, “Perhaps we want to do this in our session, in executive [i.e., secret]  session,” and “I leave it to you as to how you would like to answer it. But we would like an answer.” He doesn’t outright say, “Your cover story stinks.” But he sure suggests it:

BILL NELSON: Perhaps we want to do this in our session, in executive [i.e., secret]  session. But my question is an obvious one for not only this committee, but for the executive branch and the military establishment.  If we knew that there was a general threat on terrorist activity, which we did, and we suddenly have two trade towers in New York being obviously hit by terrorist activity, of commercial airliners taken off course from Boston to Los Angeles, then what happened to the response of the defense establishment once we saw the diversion of the aircraft headed west from Dulles turning around 180 degrees and, likewise, in the aircraft taking off from Newark and, in flight, turning 180 degrees? That’s the question.  I leave it to you as to how you would like to answer it. But we would like an answer.” (4)

The CBS/NORAD cover story did not successfully answer Nelson’s questions.

That is, since planes were flying into buildings, and since Washington, DC was the city most likely to be the next target, why would planes be scrambled all the way from Langley Air Force Base, 129 miles from Washington, as late as 9:30? Why wouldn’t they be scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base, 10 miles from the Pentagon, at around 8:50, when the military knew that a hijacked plane had hit the World Trade Center? Or at 9:06, when, we are told, the FAA ordered all planes grounded, from Washington, DC to Cleveland! (5)

The irrationality of the CBS/NORAD cover story supports our charge that the military was in fact ordered to stand down on 9-11.


For more facts and analysis contradicting the official position on 9-11, see ‘EMPEROR’S CLOTHES ARTICLES ON 9-11 * A GUIDE,’ which can be read at
Alternative address is

(1) The “planes were scrambled from Langley” cover story was mentioned in Section 1: ‘Why Were None of the Hijacked Planes Intercepted?’
The following link takes you to the place where it is mentioned:

(1a) ‘NBC, Meet the Press’ (10:00 AM ET) Sunday 16 September 2001.
Full transcript at:
Backup transcript at:

Cheney’s remarks are discussed in ‘Mr. Cheney’s Cover Story.‘ at

(1b) CBS News Special Report (12:00 Noon PM ET) – September 12, 2001 “Aftermath of and investigation into attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon at

(2) To read the new cover story floated by CBS on 14 September go to

(3) Senate confirmation hearing on Gen. Richard B. Myers’ nomination as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 13 September 2001
Full transcript at:

(4) Comments by Bill Nelson at Senate confirmation hearing on Gen. Richard B. Myers’ nomination as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 13 September 2001

(5) ‘Newsday,’ September 23, 2001, ‘AMERICA’S ORDEAL; Where System Failed; Air attack on Pentagon indicates weaknesses,’ by Sylvia Adcock, Brian Donovan and Craig Gordon. The direct link is


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2 comments on “Planes “did scramble” on 9/11, they just ” arrived late “

  1. Planes scrambled or not, Rollie, is simply distraction propaganda. The four alleged flights were faked thus there were no airliners for scramblers to respond to.


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