Thursday, August 03, 2006

The NORAD tapes

The USAF has, finally, released the live tapes of the events of NORAD's response to the September 11 attacks, and Vanity Fair has the story. Including the actual recordings.

Assuming the tapes are legitimate -- they almost certainly are genuine, but how much more confident would we be if they had been released immediately instead of six years later? -- NORAD responded to the hijackings as well as could possibly be expected to. They didn't shoot down the fourth plane, although they were prepared to. The evidence is strong that they tried, desperately, to cover-up just how badly prepared they were, but given the wrong information and the shameful lack of communication from the airlines, they did everything anyone could have asked for.

Except stop the attacks.

It's a story that was intentionally obscured, some members of the 9/11 commission believe, by military higher-ups and members of the Bush administration who spoke to the press, and later the commission itself, in order to downplay the extent of the confusion and miscommunication flying through the ranks of the government.

The Vanity Fair reporter explicitly accepts one coincidence theory:

The fact that there was an exercise planned for the same day as the attack factors into several conspiracy theories, though the 9/11 commission dismisses this as coincidence. After plodding through dozens of hours of recordings, so do I.

Who knows? Coincidences do happen. Could the hijackers have known about the exercise and planned accordingly? Had the US government paid attention to the warnings, might they had cancelled the exercise and been better prepared?

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