Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Phantom Flight 11

I mentioned the other day that the FAA and the military both thought that American Airlines Flight 11 was still airborne well after the North Tower was struck and that there were concerns that it was headed to Washington, and that this was what an Air Force officer was referring to when he said "We chased many phantoms that day" and that it did not refer to "insertions" onto the radar screens of air traffic controllers.

Jason Bermas, on his show yesterday (mostly devoted to trashing our criticisms of Final Cut) claimed that the Air Force was chasing a real blip on the screen. Not true.

The plane's course, had it continued south past New York in the direction it was flying before it dipped below radar coverage, would have had it headed on a straight course toward D.C. This was all controllers were going on; they were never tracking an actual plane on the radar after losing American 11 near Manhattan, but if it had been flying low enough, the plane could have gone undetected. "After talking to a supervisor, I made the call and said [American 11] is still in the air, and it's probably somewhere over New Jersey or Delaware heading for Washington, D.C.," Scoggins told me.


Bolding added for emphasis.

Jason also talked a lot about what we didn't mention, like the fact that two of the hijackers lived with an FBI informant in 2000. Jason, I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the things you actually got right. That Khalid al-Midhar and another hijacker lived with an FBI informant is well-established. We could talk a lot about the missed opportunities, and the fact that al-Midhar was not put on a terrorist watch list until after he was in the country, even though the CIA knew he attended a terrorist meeting in 2000. Nobody is denying that mistakes were made; that one in particular was costly.

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