From the History Commons Groups blog:
New entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, which describe many incidents relating to the 9/11 attacks, including new details of what happened on September 11, 2001, and some notable pre-9/11 events.
Fire Alarm System in WTC 7 Was on ‘Test Condition’
Several new timeline entries describe incidents that occurred on September 11 in World Trade Center Building 7, a 47-story skyscraper located north of the Twin Towers that collapsed at 5:20 p.m. that day. At 8:46 a.m., when the first hijacked plane crashed into the North Tower, the electrical power in WTC 7 briefly went off for reasons that are unclear. Similarly, at 9:03 a.m., when the second hijacked plane hit the South Tower, “primary power” was lost and alarms warned that there was no water pressure in the building.
Also, for a period of eight hours, beginning at 6:47 a.m., the fire alarm system in WTC 7 was on “test condition,” which meant any alarms would be ignored. The alarm system had in fact been placed on test condition every morning in the week before then. Despite being in this mode, it detected a possible fire at 10:00 a.m., although this could have been the result of dust from the collapse of the South Tower entering smoke detectors rather than an actual fire occurring in WTC 7.
Office of Emergency Management’s Operations Center Was Activated
A number of entries describe the activities of New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which had its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on the 23rd floor of WTC 7. Shortly after the first crash occurred, the OEM activated the EOC in order to manage the city’s response to the incident. Then, at some point after the second crash, OEM staffers contacted the FAA to request fighter jets and were told federal support was on the way. Later on, apparently around 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon was attacked, firefighter Timothy Brown, a supervisor at the OEM, tried calling the White House and other agencies in Washington, DC, about getting fighters to protect New York but was unable to reach them.
Additionally, at around 9:30 a.m. OEM personnel were reluctantly evacuated from the EOC following a report that more commercial planes were unaccounted for. However, shortly after the Pentagon was hit, Brown heard over his radio that a suspicious aircraft that was supposedly heading toward New York had crashed. Later in the day, the OEM set up a new EOC at the Police Academy where its personnel got to work on the logistics of the rescue operation.
FBI Sent Specialized Teams to the WTC Site
Several new entries describe actions of the FBI around the time the terrorist attacks occurred. Early in the morning of September 11, New York agent Steve Bongardt read a report, which stated that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was reopening his underground facility in Afghanistan.
Following the first attack, Barry Mawn, director of the FBI’s New York office, sent specialized teams, including the Joint Terrorism Task Force, to the WTC site, even though he supposedly thought the crash was an accident. Meanwhile, at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, FBI Director Robert Mueller was alerted to the crash during his daily briefing with his senior staff, but he too did not initially realize the incident was a terrorist attack.
However, after the second hijacked plane hit the WTC, the FBI activated the Strategic Information and Operations Center at its headquarters, from where it subsequently coordinated its response to the attacks. Mueller was called from New York by Mawn, who told him fighters were needed to protect the city. And after the Pentagon was hit, nonessential employees were evacuated from the headquarters, apparently due to fears that the building could be a terrorist target.
Security Cameras Recorded the Attack on the Pentagon
A number of entries describe events at the Pentagon on September 11. Just before the headquarters of the Department of Defense was attacked, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his CIA briefer noticed a helicopter flying very close to the building, outside the window of Rumsfeld’s office.
When the Pentagon was hit, two security cameras located north of the crash site captured the impact, but the video they recorded was withheld from the public until 2006. Other security cameras failed to capture the attack because they were switched off or had been taken down due to construction work that was being carried out.
At some point later on that day, Secretary of the Army Thomas White was ordered to leave the Pentagon and go to a secure location outside Washington, but the decision to send him there was then found to have been a mistake and so he subsequently returned to the Pentagon.
Other entries describe a couple of miscellaneous events from the day of 9/11. After the planes crashed into the WTC, employees at Goldman Sachs’s Lower Manhattan offices were instructed to keep trading so the company could make money out of what was happening, according to a former managing director at the bank. And shortly before 10:30 a.m., during an interview with Fox News, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig suggested that al-Qaeda was behind the day’s terrorist attacks, even though he also said he didn’t “have inside knowledge.”
Security at the WTC Was Increased Just before 9/11
Several timeline entries describe notable events that occurred before 9/11. In March 2000, an operatic version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale was performed, which included a mock newsreel that reportedly showed the WTC being blown up. Also that month, a Justice Department lawyer wrote an analysis that, presciently, considered the legal issues involved in shooting down a commercial aircraft that was under the control of terrorists who intended to use it as a weapon.
Just two weeks before 9/11, security at the WTC was inexplicably raised. And, four days before 9/11, the radical British imam Abu Hamza al-Masri received a tip-off in a phone call from Afghanistan, which he believed was referring to an imminent attack on the United States. Then, on the evening before 9/11, stand-up comic George Carlin performed a new joke, which, ironically, was about a passenger aircraft exploding in mid-air and Osama bin Laden getting blamed for this.
Finally, a couple of new entries describe events that occurred after September 11. In the weeks following 9/11, morticians at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, found a secret note in the stomach of one of the Flight 77 passengers who died in the Pentagon attack, which the passenger wrote and then ate shortly before their death, but the morticians have refused to reveal what it says. And, as late as 2005, for reasons that are unstated, two of the planes that were hijacked and destroyed in the 9/11 attacks were still listed in the FAA’s aircraft registry as “active.”
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