On a day in which routine procedures should have prevented 9/11 from even happening, the attacks were mirrored in military drills. NORAD commander-in-Chief Ralph Eberhart was asked by the 9/11 Commission if these war games “helped” response to the 9/11 attacks and responded nonsensically, “sir, my belief is that it helped because of the manning, because of the focus, because the crews—they have to be airborne in 15 minutes and that morning, because of the exercise, they were airborne in six or eight minutes. And so I believe that focus helped.” This was clearly a false statement since none of the planes were intercepted during the attacks. In fact, there is very strong evidence that these drills coordinated by Dick Cheney hindered the response since they moved air defenses away from New York and Washington, added “injects” to radar screens, and created general confusion. Like Richard Myers, Eberhart was promoted shortly after 9/11; “nominated by President Bush to command the… U.S. Northern Command,” a new creation of the Department of Defense which Eberhart said was “needed” after the attacks.
The lack of response to the off-course aircraft could be clearly seen in the case of the Pentagon strike. Over an hour into the attacks, Norman Mineta reported that a plane was flying towards the Pentagon while tracked from a NORAD-equipped bunker where Dick Cheney was in charge. When an aide periodically reported the incoming aircraft’s distance from the Pentagon, he finally asked Dick Cheney “Do the orders still stand?” Cheney responded angrily, “of course the orders still stand, have you heard anything to the contrary!?” This embarrassing testimony, completely left out of the 9/11 Commission report, strongly suggested that the hijacked aircraft were deliberately allowed to hit their targets without response. Despite knowledge of this aircraft by the FAA, Dick Cheney, and NORAD with its superior radar capability, no obvious action was taken to intercept or shoot down the planes. Instead, while NORAD was nowhere to be seen, a C-130 cargo plane was sent by civilian air traffic controllers to intercept and observe the incoming aircraft from Andrews Air Force Base. This base was 10 miles away from the Pentagon and had fighter jets available on 9/11. Why weren’t fighter jets scrambled to intercept the incoming plane and defend the Pentagon? Were civilian air traffic controllers left in charge of defense and intercepting planes on 9/11 in place of NORAD’s responsibility? Why wasn’t the Pentagon evacuated when the White House was evacuated? Why was Ralph Eberhart promoted?