Demons & Dialog

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Rehearsing 9/11: How Training Exercises Foretold the Attacks of September 11

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by Shoestring
January 27, 2009

The idea of such an attack was well known [and] had been
wargamed as a possibility in exercises before September 11.

– Professor John Arquilla of the Naval Postgraduate
School, Monterey, California

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, senior U.S. government and military officials repeatedly claimed that what happened that day was unexpected. In May 2002, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said, “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.” [1] Two years later, President Bush stated, “Nobody in our government, at least, and I don’t think the prior government, could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale.” [2] General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD on September 11, said, “Regrettably, the tragic events of 9/11 were never anticipated or exercised.” [3]

Yet these claims were untrue. Not only had the U.S. military and other government agencies discussed the possibility of such attacks, they also conducted numerous training exercises in the year or two before September 11 based around scenarios remarkably similar to what occurred on 9/11. As John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, said, “No one knew specifically that 20 people would hijack four airliners and use them for suicide attacks against major buildings … but the idea of such an attack was well known [and] had been wargamed as a possibility in exercises before September 11.” [4]

The existence of these training exercises proves that official claims that the events of September 11 were unimaginable have been false. However, future investigations of 9/11 will need to determine whether these exercises served a more nefarious purpose. For example, might they have been intended as a smokescreen for rogue individuals working within the military and other government agencies who were involved in planning the attacks? Thus, if colleagues overheard these individuals discussing matters such as planes hitting the World Trade Center or crashing into the Pentagon, they could have claimed they were simply talking about a forthcoming training exercise.

The following summary outlines three specific categories of training exercises and preparations that took place before September 11. Firstly, those that dealt with terrorists deliberately crashing a plane into the World Trade Center. Secondly, those that considered an aircraft crashing into the Pentagon. And thirdly, those that resembled other aspects of the 9/11 attacks, such as the use of planes as weapons more generally.


i) Military Personnel Briefed on Possible Attack on the WTC

At some point before 9/11, members of staff at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, New York appear to have been briefed on the possibility of terrorists deliberately crashing a plane into the World Trade Center. In her book Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama that Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11, author Lynn Spencer described the actions of Trey Murphy, a former Marine who on September 11 was a weapons controller at NEADS. Murphy learned of the first plane hitting the WTC while still at home. According to Spencer: “The news brought to mind one of his briefings: What if a terrorist flies an airplane with a weapon of mass destruction into the World Trade Center? It had always been one of the military’s big fears.” She added, “The image on the [television] screen certainly reminded him of his briefing.” [5]

ii) NORAD Trains for Terrorists Crashing a Hijacked Plane into the WTC – Read more


Written by Michael Cooper

January 30, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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