Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Finding the Hijacked Planes on 9/11

Today's Washington Post includes an article on what the Pentagon told the 9/11 Commission about their response to the hijackings that day, and how some of that was utterly untrue:

Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon's initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.

Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said.

The article references a piece coming out in this month's Vanity Fair on the military's response to the hijackings. While you do read a story of confusion and chaos, you also read a story of men and women doing their best to respond to a crisis that dwarfs anything they could be expected to deal with. From the article it's clear that the failure to stop the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon are not the result of any lack of effort on their part, but a break down in a communications system not designed to handle this type of attack. The article is worth reading in full, and I recommend listening to the audio excerpts of the recordings, to get a real sense of what it was like to be in the room with these men and women, doing the best that could be expected of them in unbelievable circumstances.

1 comment:

Nat-Wu said...

What's surprising is that while by any measure the people who were responding to the events at the time were doing a great job under a lot of pressure and there's just nothing they could have done to stop the attacks, the Pentagon felt it necessary to come up with a fictitious version of events to make themselves look better. We needn't look for conspiracies in that one; it's just what they do. But still, it's just a stupid course of action. Honesty is the best policy, after all.