June 20, 2004, The New York Observer
Despite having boarded her train at 5
a.m. that morning in Washington, D.C.,
Rosemary Dillard's linen jacket was
still creaseless, her carriage
professional and crisp, as she walked
down the train platform at Princeton
Junction on the morning of June 4.
Ms. Dillard dared to hope that the F.B.I.
would clarify the timeline in the
mystifying story of Sept. 11, 2001.
The briefing in New Jersey two weeks
ago, attended by about 130 family
members of victims, had been arranged by
the F.B.I. Previously unavailable calls
from passengers and crew were to be
played for families of victims of the
four infamous flights that were turned
into missiles by terrorists.
Who knew what, and when? And what did
the airlines and federal officials do
about it? These were the burning
questions on the minds of many family
members who have begged the commission
to help connect the dots. This week,
when the 9/11 commission wraps up its
public hearings, families had been
promised that the final report would be
titled "9-11: The Timeline." But at the
last minute the commission switched the
subject to "9-11: The Plot," focusing on
the hijackers' success in foiling every
layer of the nation's defenses, up to
and including the airlines'.
For Ms. Dillard, the tapes scheduled to
be played in Princeton this June morning
were especially important: She herself
had acted as the American Airlines base
manager at Reagan National Airport on
the morning of Sept. 11. She had been
responsible for three D.C.-area
airports, including Dulles. For the last
two and a half years, she has been
haunted by the fact that American
Airlines Flight 77 took off from Dulles
Airport that morning, with her blessing.
Her husband was a passenger on that
The cab on the way to the hearing at the
Radisson Hotel was quiet. Asked if she
was part of a lawsuit being filed by the
roughly 115 families against American
and United Airlines and an alphabet soup
of government agencies, she demurred.
"That's a very sore subject," she said.
She hoped, in hearing tapes of
conversations between flight crews and
authorities on the ground, to find out
why, when flight controllers in Boston
suspected a hijacking of American
Airlines Flight 11 as early as 8:13
a.m., neither her company nor the
Federal Aviation Administration notified
her to warn the crew of American
Airlines Flight 77 of the terrorist
threat in the skies when the plane took
off at 8:20 a.m. By 8:24 a.m., flight
controllers were certain that Flight 11
had been overrun.
But neither the tapes and cell-phone
recordings Ms. Dillard heard that
afternoon, nor the PowerPoint
presentation that took the families
systematically through all four flights
with neat timelines and bland
conclusions, helped her to connect the
dots. She fled the hearing early, deeply
Those present were told that the
material they were hearing is evidence
in the government's case against
Zacarias Moussaoui, the once-alleged
20th hijacker, and in order not to
compromise the case, it mustn't be
disclosed. They signed nondisclosure
agreements and were not permitted to
take notes. Civil attorneys and the
media were barred. F.B.I. agents filled
the halls of the hotel and took any
camera or recording equipment before
people were admitted to the ballroom.
Those who left the three-and-a-half-hour
session to relieve themselves were
accompanied into rest rooms by agents.
The families heard a tape that has just
now surfaced. Recorded by American
Airlines at its headquarters in Fort
Worth, Tex., even as the first hijacked
airliner, Flight 11, was being taken
over, the tape shows the airline's top
management was made aware beginning at
about 8:21 a.m. -- 25 minutes before the
impact of the first plane into the World
Trade Center's north tower -- that a
group of men described as Middle Eastern
had stabbed two flight attendants,
clouded the forward cabin with pepper
spray or Mace, menaced crew and
passengers with what looked like a bomb,
and stormed the cockpit in a violent
takeover of the gigantic bird.
Despite all the high secrecy surrounding
the briefing, a half-dozen different
family members were so horrified by
voice evidence of the airlines'
disregard for the fate of their pilots,
crew and passengers that they found ways
to reveal some of what they heard on
those tapes, and also what they felt. To
them, the tapes appeared to show that
the first instinct of American and
United Airlines, as management learned
of the gathering horror aboard their
passenger planes on Sept. 11, was to
The response of American's management on
duty, as revealed on the tape produced
at the meeting, was recalled by persons
"Don't spread this around. Keep it
"Keep it quiet."
"Let's keep this among ourselves. What
else can we find out from our own
sources about what's going on?"
"It was disgusting," said the parent of
one of the victims, herself a veteran
flight attendant for United Airlines.
"The very first response was cover-up,
when they should have been broadcasting
this information all over the place."
That instinct to hold back information,
some of the families believe, may have
helped to allow the third hijacked plane
to crash into the Pentagon and
contributed to the doom of a fourth
flight, United Flight 93. The United
dispatcher was told by his superiors:
Don't tell pilots why we want them to
land. The F.B.I. and the F.A.A. have
also held back or, in one case,
destroyed evidence in the government's
possession that would tell a very
different story of how the nation's
guardians failed to prepare or protect
Americans from the most devastating of
terrorist attacks on the homeland.
"Flight 77 should never have taken off,"
Ms. Dillard said through clenched teeth.
Voices of the dead on cell phones
aroused gut-wrenching feelings.
Passengers who called from both American
Flight 11 and United Flight 175 talked
about believing the hijackers were
piloting the aircraft, and reported
wildly erratic flying patterns.
Voices of crew members, calmly
disseminating specifics to airline
managers on the ground, pointed out how
much was known minutes and even an hour
and a half before the last of the jumbo
jets had met its diabolic finish.
American Airlines officials had to know
there was nothing traditional about this
hijacking, because two of their flight
attendants, Madeline (Amy) Sweeney and
Betty Ong, were calmly and bravely
transmitting the most illuminating
details anyone has yet heard. Ms. Ong's
tape was played in a public commission
hearing in January, prompting family
members to demand that the F.B.I. honor
their rights under the Victims
Assistance Act to hear any and all calls
made from the stricken planes that day.
Ms. Sweeney's name was cited only in
passing at that earlier hearing. And
when the president and chief executive
of American Airlines, Gerard Arpey,
testified, he never mentioned Ms.
Sweeney or the cache of information she
had provided American Airlines officials
so early in the unfolding disaster.
Since then, Mike Sweeney, her widowed
husband, has been troubled by the
disconnect between the airline's
ignoring of his wife's efforts, and the
fact that the F.B.I. awarded her its
highest civilian honor. He was first
informed about the new tape two weeks
previously by the U.S. attorney's office
in Virginia. David Novak, an assistant
U.S. attorney involved in prosecuting
the Moussaoui case, told Mr. Sweeney
that the existence of the tape was news
to him and offered him a private
was shocked that I'm finding out, almost
three years later, there was a tape with
information given by my wife that was
very crucial to the happenings of 9/11,"
Mr. Sweeney told me. "Suddenly it
miraculously appears and falls into the
hands of F.B.I.? Why and how and for
what reason was it suppressed? Why did
it surface now? Is there information on
that tape that is of concern to other
The gut-churning question that has kept
the widowed father of two young children
on edge for so long is this: "When and
how was this information about the
hijackers used? Were Amy's last moments
put to the best use to protect and save
Now he believes the answer is no.
From the beginning, the commission has
been plagued with questions of where
evidence exists about what happened with
the flights on Sept. 11. This tape is a
case in point.
"We, the prosecution team and the F.B.I.
agents that have been assigned to assist
us, were not aware of that tape," Mr.
Novak told me. He says he only learned
of it two weeks ago while he was
briefing 9/11 commissioners on what he
knows about the two hijacked American
flights. He believes the commission got
the tape from the airline.
"Now, does Mike have a reason to have
heartburn about this?" he asks
rhetorically. "Absolutely --
any other victim would, if they learned
of something after two and a half years.
We're trying to figure out why we didn't
know about this before. Is it American
Airlines' fault? I don't know. Is it the
way they produced it? I don't know. Is
it an F.B.I. fault? I don't know."
Mr. Novak suggested a possible
explanation for the airline's personnel
to hold the horrific information
tightly: "I think they were trying not
to get other people unduly alarmed so
they could deal with the situation at
hand." But he says he is not going to
defend or attack airline personnel.
"That's not my job. Our job is to try to
convict Moussaoui. We view this as a
giant murder case."
confirmed that the Justice Department
only revealed to the families what in
its judgment were the "relevant" tapes.
The F.B.I. is holding back other
recordings from some of the flights as
evidence in prosecuting its criminal
trial. It is the way the F.B.I. has
always done business: zealously guarding
information to make its case
retrospectively, rather than sharing
information with other law-enforcement
agencies to improve the country's
defensive posture proactively. For
example, tapes considered "relevant" to
the families didn't include the cockpit
voice recorder or the flight-data
recorder from Flight 93, the final
the American Airlines tape played at the
meeting, a voice is heard relaying to
the airline's headquarters the
blow-by-blow account by Ms. Sweeney of
mayhem aboard Flight 11. The flight
attendant had gone face to face with the
hijackers, and reported they had shown
her what appeared to be a bomb, with red
and yellow wires. The young blond mother
of two had secreted herself in the
next-to-last passenger row and used an
AirFone card, given to her by another
flight attendant, Sara Low, to call the
airline's flight-services office at
Boston's Logan airport.
"This is Amy Sweeney," she reported.
"I'm on Flight 11 -- this plane has been
hijacked." She was disconnected. She
called back: "Listen to me, and listen
to me very carefully." Within seconds,
her befuddled respondent was replaced by
a voice she knew.
"Amy, this is Michael Woodward."
The American Airlines flight-service
manager had been friends with Ms.
Sweeney for a decade and didn't have to
waste time verifying that this wasn't a
hoax. Ms. Sweeney repeated, "Michael,
this plane has been hijacked."
Since there was no tape machine in his
office, Woodward began repeating the
flight attendant's alarming account to a
colleague, Nancy Wyatt, the supervisor
of pursers at Logan. On another phone,
Ms. Wyatt was simultaneously
transmitting Ms. Sweeney's words to the
airline's Fort Worth headquarters. It
was that relayed account that was played
for the families.
"In Fort Worth, two managers in S.O.C.
[Systems Operations Control] were
sitting beside each other and hearing
it," says one former American Airlines
employee who heard the tape. "They were
both saying, 'Do not pass this along.
Let's keep it right here. Keep it among
the five of us.'"
The two managers' names were given in
testimony to the 9/11 commission by Mr.
Arpey, then executive vice president of
operations, who described himself as
"directly involved in American's
emergency-response efforts and other
operational decisions made as the
terrible events of Sept. 11 unfolded."
Joe Burdepelly, one of the S.O.C.
managers, told Mr. Arpey at 8:30 a.m.
Eastern time that they had a possible
hijacking on Flight 11. Mr. Burdepelly
also said that the S.O.C. manager on
duty, Craig Marquis, was in contact with
Ms. Ong. Mr. Arpey related that from Ms.
Ong, he and the S.O.C. managers had
learned by 8:30 a.m. "that two or three
passengers were in the cockpit, and that
our pilots were not responding to
intercom calls from the flight
attendants. After talking with S.O.C.,"
Mr. Arpey testified, "I then called Don
Carty, the president and C.E.O. of
American Airlines, at that time," who
was not available. Mr. Arpey then drove
to the S.O.C. facility, arriving, he
says, between 8:35 and 8:40 a.m. Eastern
Mr. Arpey testified that by 8:40 a.m.
they knew one of the passengers had been
stabbed, possibly fatally, although this
news was transmitted by Ms. Sweeney at
least 15 minutes earlier. "We were also
receiving information from the F.A.A.
that, instead of heading west on its
intended flight path, Flight 11 was
headed south. We believed that Flight 11
might be headed for the New York area.
Our pilots were not responding to air
traffic control or company radio calls,
and the aircraft transponder had been
Mr. Arpey's account revealed that the
American Airlines executives had
attempted to monitor the progress of
Flight 11 via communications with the
F.A.A. and their traffic-control
officials. "As far as we knew, the rest
of our airline was operating normally at
this point," he said.
But Flight 11 had missed its first mark
at 8:13 a.m., when, shortly after
controllers asked the pilot to climb to
35,000 feet, the transponder stopped
transmitting the electronic signal that
identifies exact location and altitude.
Air traffic manager Glenn Michael later
said, "We considered it at that time to
be a possible hijacking."
8:14 a.m., F.A.A. flight controllers in
Boston began hearing an extraordinary
radio transmission from the cockpit of
Flight 11 that should have set off alarm
bells. Before their F.A.A. superiors
forbade them to talk to anyone, two of
the controllers told the Christian
Science Monitor on Sept. 11 that the
captain of Flight 11, John Ogonowski,
was surreptitiously triggering a
"push-to-talk" button on the aircraft's
yoke most of the way to New York. When
controllers picked up the voices of men
speaking in Arabic and heavily accented
English, they knew something was
terribly wrong. More than one F.A.A.
controller heard an ominous statement by
a terrorist in the background saying,
"We have more planes. We have other
Apparently, none of this crucial
information was transmitted to other
American pilots already airborne --
notably Flight 77 out of Dulles, which
took off at 8:20 a.m. only to be
redirected to its target, the Pentagon
-- or to other airlines with planes in
harm's way: United's Flight 173, which
took off at 8:14 a.m. from Boston, or
United's Flight 93, whose "wheels-up"
was recorded at 8:42 a.m.
"You would have thought American's S.O.C.
would have grounded everything," says
Ms. Dillard. "They were in the lead
spot, they're in Texas -- they had
control over the whole system. They
could have stopped it. Everybody should
have been grounded."
Ms. Dillard had to learn about the two
planes crashing into the World Trade
Center from the screams of waiting
passengers in the next-door Admirals
Club who were watching TV. "We all
rushed back to our offices to wait for
'go-do's' from headquarters," she
recalls. But headquarters personnel
never contacted Ms. Dillard, the
Washington base manager, to inform her
that Flight 77 was in trouble. They
had lost radio contact with the plane
out of Dulles at 8:50 a.m. More than 45
minutes later, her assistant gave Ms.
Dillard an even more devastating piece
"There's a plane that hit the Pentagon.
Our crew was on it."
"Was that 77?" Ms. Dillard asked.
think so," her assistant said.
"Are you sure it was 77?" Ms. Dillard
pressed. "'Cause I just took Eddie over
to Dulles," Ms. Dillard said numbly,
referring to her husband. "Eddie's on
She looked at the crew list. Her heart
sank. "I knew one of the ladies very
well," she later remembered, "and she
had kids, and the other two who were
married, and another one was pregnant.
It was horrible."
One of American's top corporate
executives directly in the line of
authority that day was Jane Allen, then
vice president of in-flight services, in
charge of the company's 24,000 flight
attendants and management and operations
at 22 bases. She was Ms. Dillard's top
boss. But Ms. Dillard never heard from
her until after Flight 77 had plowed
into the Pentagon. Reached at United
Airlines corporate headquarters in
Chicago, where Ms. Allen now works, she
was asked to confirm the names of
participants in the Sept. 11 phone call
and why the decision was made to hold
back that information.
really don't know what I could possibly
add to all the hurt," she said.
But was it too much information, or too
little, that was hurtful?
really am not interested in helping or
participating," Ms. Allen said, putting
down the phone.
"This has been the attitude all the way
along," Ms. Dillard observed. "Everybody
was keeping it hush-hush."
The failure to trumpet vital news from
calls placed from the first hijacked
flight throughout the system and into
the highest circles of government leaves
families wondering whether military jets
could have intercepted American Airlines
Flight 77 in time to keep it from diving
into the Pentagon and killing 184 more
people. That suicide mission ended in
triumph for the terrorists more than 50
minutes after the first American
jetliner hit the World Trade Center.
Suppose American Airlines had warned all
its pilots and crew of what their
families were able to see and hear from
The information hold-back may have
arisen from lack of experience, or from
the inability to register the enormity
of the terrorists' destructive plans, or
it may have been a visceral desire to
protect the airlines from liability. The
airlines make much of the fact that the
"common strategy" for civil aircraft
crews before 9/11 was to react passively
to hijackings -- "to refrain from trying
to overpower or negotiate with
hijackers, to land the aircraft as soon
as possible, to communicate with
authorities, and to try delaying
This strategy was based on the
assumption that the hijackers would want
to be flown safely to an airport of
their choice to make their demands.
But that defense of the airlines'
actions is belied by the fact that the
F.A.A., which was in contact with
American Airlines and other
traffic-control centers, heard the
tip-off from terrorists in Flight 11's
cockpit -- "We have planes, more planes"
-- and thus knew before the first crash
of a possible multiple hijacking and the
use of planes as weapons.
this writer's knowledge, there has been
no public mention of the Flight 11
pilot's narrative since the news report
on Sept. 12, 2001. When Peg Ogonowski,
the pilot's wife, asked American
Airlines to let her listen to that tape,
she never heard back.
Mike Low had been quite upbeat going
into the meeting. He had just learned
that his 28-year-old daughter Sara,
another crew member on Flight 11, had
not been incapacitated by the Mace the
terrorists sprayed in the front cabin.
The F.B.I. had notified him that Sara
had given Ms. Sweeney her father's
calling card, which allowed the
32-year-old mother of two to pretend to
be a passenger and use an AirFone to
call Logan Airport and relay the vital
"I'm a very old-fashioned and simple
small-town person," Mr. Low had told me
beforehand. He owns and operates a
concrete and asphalt business in
Batesville, Ark. "I want to believe our
government, even after all the mishaps,
is doing everything they possibly can."
Coming out of the hearing, he was a
find it alarming that the airline and
the F.A.A. would want to hold something
as horrific as a hijacking among a few
people," he said, "when bells and
whistles should have been going off in
all categories of responsibility."
Agents had allowed families to talk
informally with them after the meeting,
and Mr. Low had some very frank
questions for an F.A.A. representative.
"The warning from F.A.A. in the summer
of 2001 was supposedly given to all the
airlines on CD-ROM's," he said. "Where
did those warnings go? To flight crews?
I have never had any indication that any
pilot or flight attendant heard those
added that the F.A.A. man had nothing to
"I'd been with American for 29 years,"
Ms. Dillard said with embittered pride.
"My job was supervision over all the
flight attendants who flew out of
National, Baltimore or Dulles. In the
summer of 2001, we had absolutely no
warnings about any threats of hijackings
or terrorism, from the airline or from
Alice Hoglan's face was ashen when she
emerged from the meeting. The mother of
one of the brave, doomed passengers on
United Airlines Flight 93, Mark Bingham,
a gay rugby player, Ms. Hoglan now knew
even more vividly what her son had kept
from her when he had called. Along with
Todd Beamer and other brave passengers,
he had helped lead a passenger revolt
aboard Flight 93, which was heading
toward Washington and either Congress or
the White House.
"It was excruciating," she said, her
lips biting off the few upbeat words she
could muster. "I'm just very grateful
that the people on Flight 93, the heroes
who were able to act, died on their feet
and doing the very best they could to
preserve lives on the ground."
Ms. Hoglan, who worked 29 years as a
flight attendant for United, the airline
on which her son was killed, was still
flying for United in the summer of 2001.
She had come to the hearing neatly
dressed in a gray suit, her eyes bright
in anticipation of deeper understanding.
Afterwards, her wispy silver hair looked
like it had been raked through in
frustration. Her eyes blazed with
reignited anguish and sank back into a
mother's face that could only be
described as ravaged. She is among the
115 families who rejected the financial
buyout by the federal Victims'
Compensation Fund in order to preserve
her right to sue the airlines and
government agencies who failed to warn
or protect Americans from the third
terrorist bombing on our homeland.
"I've been learning a lot," said Ms.
Hoglan. "During the summer of 2001,
there were 12 directives sent by the
F.A.A. -- which are now supposedly
classified -- notifying the airlines of
specific threats that terrorists were
planning to hijack their aircrafts. The
airlines apparently buried that
information and didn't tell us."
Freedom of Information Act request has
confirmed that the F.A.A. sent a dozen
warnings to the airlines between May and
September of 2001. Those 35 pages of
alerts are being exempted from public
disclosure by a federal statute that
covers "information that would be
detrimental to the security of
transportation if disclosed." Most
rational people would say that the
non-disclosure of the alerts was what
was detrimental to the security of
transportation on Sept. 11.
"The F.B.I. gathered the evidence, gave
it to the F.A.A., the F.A.A. gave it to
the airlines, and the airlines didn't
tell us," Ms. Hoglan said. "I was a
working flight attendant with United
that summer, in 2001, and I never heard
a thing. I'm suing United Airlines, and
I'm very keen on the role of the flight
attendants in Sept. 11."
The same lament was sounded by Ms.
Ogonowski, who was also a senior working
flight attendant in the summer of 2001,
for American Airlines. She had crewed
many times on the 767 that her husband
piloted on the morning of Sept. 11. "I'm
an insider. There was no warning to be
more vigilant. We were sitting ducks. My
husband was such a big, commanding man,
six feet tall. He didn't have a shot in
hell. These people come in behind him,
he's sitting low, forward, strapped in
-- the same with his co-pilot. No
warning. If they'd been alerted to
possibilities … but people were
Ms. Ogonowski was legally required to
exempt American Airlines from her
lawsuit in order to accept workmen's
compensation from the company for her
husband's death on the job. "But I never
felt American was at fault," she said.
"Our own C.I.A. and F.B.I. failed us.
They should have been able to be more
prepared, and warned us."
Some of the families of victims aboard
Flight 93 were painfully reminded of the
cockpit tape the F.B.I. allowed them to
hear one year ago. That was the "Let's
roll" flight, for which Beamer and the
other passengers have been celebrated
for their quick thinking and courageous
confrontation with the terrorists.
"There was a lot of yelling by
passengers, like you'd hear in a
huddle," one family member told me,
requesting anonymity for fear of being
thrown out of the suit against the
airlines. "It sounded like, 'In the
cockpit, in the cockpit -- if we don't
get in there, we'll die!' Then we heard
crashing dishes. Then screaming among
the terrorists, frightened screams, as
if to say, 'You got me! You're killing
Some of the relatives are keen to find
out why, at the peak of this struggle,
the tape suddenly stops recording voices
and all that is heard in the last 60
seconds or so is engine noise. Had the
tape been tampered with? When I put
their question to Mr. Novak, the lead
prosecutor on Flight 93, he said curtly,
"I'm not going to comment on that, and
neither should have they. They violated
that nondisclosure agreement by telling
you the contents of that cockpit voice
Why didn't United at least warn the
pilots of Flight 93 to bar the cockpit
door, some of the families wanted to
Ballinger, the flight dispatcher for
United Airlines that morning, was the
last human being to talk to the cockpit
of Flight 93. He had 16 flights taking
off early that morning from the East
Cost to the West Coast. When United's
Flight 175 began acting erratically and
failed to respond to his warnings, he
began banging out the same enigmatic
message to all his planes: "Beware of
Flight 93, the last of the hijacked
planes, called him back and said "Hi,
Mr. Ballinger said he didn't wait for
his superiors or for Transportation
Secretary Norman Mineta's decision to
ground all flights. He sent out a
Stop-Fly alert to all crews. But United
dispatchers were instructed by their
superiors not to tell the pilots why
they were being instructed to land, he
"One of the things that upset me was
that they knew, 45 minutes before
[Flight 93 crashed], that American
Airlines had a problem. I put the story
together myself [from news accounts],"
Mr. Ballinger said. "Perhaps if I had
the information sooner, I might have
gotten the message to [Flight] 93 to bar
This week, when the 9/11 commission
holds its 12th and final hearings on
Wednesday and Thursday, it will drill
down on the excuses offered by the
nation's air defense network, NORAD, to
explain why it failed utterly to order a
protective cap of fighter jets over the
nation's capitol as soon as the world
knew that the nation was under attack.
Families will be listening carefully
when the commission questions the head
of NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector,
General Ralph E. Eberhart. NORAD had as
long as 50 minutes to order fighter jets
to intercept Flight 93 in its path
toward Washington, D.C. But NORAD's
official timeline claims that F.A.A.
notification to NORAD on Flight 93 is
"not available." The public will
hear further questioning of military
officials all the way up to chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard
Myers, who wasn't notified until after
the attack on the Pentagon.
many unconnected dots, contradictions
and implausible coincidences. Like the
fact that NORAD was running an imaginary
terrorist-attack drill called "Vigilant
Guardian" on the same morning as the
real-world attacks. At 8:40 a.m., when a
sergeant at NORAD's center in Rome,
N.Y., notified his northeastern
commander, Col. Robert Marr, of a
possible hijacked airliner-American
Flight 11-the colonel wondered aloud if
it was part of the exercise. This same
confusion was played out at the lower
levels of the NORAD network.
What's more, the decades-old procedure
for a quick response by the nation's air
defense had been changed in June of
2001. Now, instead of NORAD's military
commanders being able to issue the
command to launch fighter jets, approval
had to be sought from the civilian
Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. This
change is extremely significant, because
Mr. Rumsfeld claims to have been "out of
the loop" nearly the entire morning of
9/11. He isn't on the record as having
given any orders that morning. In fact,
he didn't even go to the White House
situation room; he had to walk to the
window of his office in the Pentagon to
see that the country's military
headquarters was in flames.
Mr. Rumsfeld claimed at a previous
commission hearing that protection
against attack inside the homeland was
not his responsibility. It was, he said,
"a law-enforcement issue."
Why, in that case, did he take onto
himself the responsibility of approving
NORAD's deployment of fighter planes?
The families of the vanished bodies and
unsettled souls of 9/11 are still
waiting to have the dots connected.
Until that happens, many continue to
feel perforations in their hearts that
even time will not heal.