Newly uncovered audio from recordings of NORAD staff responding
to the airliner hijackings on 9/11 may provide more evidence
to suggest air defense officials were under the impression that
the attacks were part of ongoing drills and exercises.
NORAD--the North American Aerospace Defense Command--is
the military organization responsible for monitoring and defending
the airspace of North America. Its Northeast Air Defense Sector
(NEADS), based in Rome, New York, is responsible for monitoring
and protecting 500,000 square miles of airspace above the northeast
U.S., including the airspace over New York City and Washington,
The recording in question contains the voices
of staff at NEADS as they learn of the hijacking of United 175,
the second plane to crash into the World Trade Center.
Firstly, the men are clearly heard laughing and
joking about the hijackings, a very strange thing to do in the
face of an all out terrorist suicide attack.
One officer says "That's it, I'm not flying
with United or American any more," amongst the laughter
another responds "I never thought I would have wished for
ValuJet to come back."
One of the officers later states "I'm glad
I'm not flying today," to which the answer is, "Don't
worry Jim, we'll carjack you on the way home." Two minutes
later the men are talking about stock they own.
Listen to the audio below:
Another key part of the audio comes as the officers
attempt to find a transponder signal for flight 175. One officer
states "I'm looking for a squawk" -- military jargon
for a transponder signal from the aircraft -- A second officer
remarks "We have smart terrorists today, they are not giving
them a chance to squawk".
Furthermore, who is the "they" that
the officer refers to? Are the terrorists "they"?
-- ie "They (the terrorists) are not giving them (the aircraft/pilots)
the chance to squawk".
Or are "they" another group, military
officers running a drill perhaps, that are not giving the fictional
terrorists the chance to squawk, thus making the drill harder?
(Article continues below)
Could these men, officers who were supposed to
defend American airspace, have been under the impression that
what they were seeing was a part of the annual "Vigilant
Guardian" exercise, an air defense drill simulating a hijacking
and an attack on the United States on the very day of 9/11?
It is not so hard to imagine, given that multiple
personnel at NORAD and NEADS are
on record as having admitted they originally thought
the attacks were part of the drill.
to Larry Arnold, who was the commanding general
of NORAD's Continental U.S. Region, the Vigilant Guardian exercise
was only canceled after the second World Trade Center
tower was hit at 9:03 a.m., a timeline which dovetails exactly
with the above clip.
The recordings, which captured events on the operations
floor at NEADS throughout the day of September 11, 2001, were
made public In April 2006 as part of a Freedom of Information