Friday, January 07, 2011

First, you remove the guards

From Cryptome, another 9/11 Commission interview, this time with Captain Charles Joseph Leidig, U.S.N., Commandant of Midshipmen, U.S. Naval Academy, the guy in charge of defending that part of the United States from attack on September 11, and a man who can't seem to recall much of anything, describing what appears to be a madhouse (my emphasis in red; 'a small light plane'?):
"Shortly after he received the watch from General Winfield, he saw a report on
one of the big news stations, a small light plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
They had live television feed from multiple TV stations. Gardner, he recalled flew as
crew on an A-6 and the discussed when they saw and they started the internal JCS
notification list, to include the Chairman's office. They also notified the office of the
Secretary of Defense. Either he or Commander Gardner would have made the
notification calls. He reported that a small airplane crashed into one of the two towers of
the World Trade Center.
He was prompted that the Senior Operations Officer went to gather up as much
information as he could and he recalled that one call was made to the FAA. He thought
Commander Gardner actually made that call. FAA had a report of a hijacking on a plane
that had departed Boston. They asked if FAA needed any assistance. The answer was
no, the pilot had called in and said everything was under control and he was going to land
at New York shortly. This call was made to the FAA Operations Center
There was something unusual, he and Gardner thought, that a light plane had
crashed into the WTC and that there was a report of a hijacking. This is all before the
second plane impacted the other WTC tower."
"Concerning the NOIWON call (a Washington area-specific watch officer
network that links key 24-hour watches, including the White House Situation Room), he
does not recall who called first. It is not uncommon for the White House to call first,
while' the NMCC is making its notifications. That, and most other calls to the NMCC
were seeking whatever additional information was available. He recalled no situational
awareness that came from the NOrwON call.
He was told that the SIEC was convened between 0920 and 0925 and was asked
if he was aware of any other aircraft out there, lost, missing or hijack. He did not recall
being concerned about any other aircraft at the point that the SIEC was convened. The
only plane he knew about was the one that was going to land in NYC and that had not
been resolved.
He recalled that FAA only had one STU-III and they could not stay up on a
conference on that phone .
He had no awareness of AA 77 coming back to Washington D.C. His first
awareness was a call from the SECDEF's three-star aide who asked if he felt the
explosion in the building and asked Leidig to investigate, it might be a terrorist attack."
"No one talked Force Protection before the Pentagon was struck, that he recalled.
[9/11 Classified Information]
 He did not recall phone calls to NORAD prior to the advent of the SIEC. At
this point Stafftumed to the transcript of the Air Threat Conference Call (ATCC) and
recalled for him his update. His reference to AA 11 he recalled was because that incident
was open and not resolved; he said on the conference that AA11 was headed for
Washington. He thought his reference was that "it was being confirmed" not that "it has
been confirmed." He thought the information came from FAA. They're trying to figure
out where the hijacked aircraft was going.
There was not a separate hijack conference, he said. Staff then referred to such
as an FAA conference. He does not recall being on any such conference.
Staff recounted for Liedig, in reference to the SIEC, that NORAD
recommended the reconvening of the conference as an ATCC. He thought the SIEC was
the right conference, the ATCC had cold war implications and brought a different group
of people to a conference.
The plane that hit the Pentagon was not the same plane that was under
discussion in the Air Threat Conference Call. The fact that he transitioned to an ATCC,
in retrospect, he thought was because he perceived an air threat at that time. He recalled
that they were notifying people continuously and did not recall who was notified that the
ATCC was convened, but was confident that notification was made. He recalled very
clearly being frustrated that he could not keep FAA in the conference. They would ask
questions, FAA would not be there, and they would have to redial them. He thought it
would have been the ADDO or the SOO who was trying to keep FAA in the conference
by calling their watch center; he referred to it as an ops center.
[EGHet He did not recall if the VCJCS was in the ATCC conference, by telephone. He
said they would have been trying to do so; he is a member of the conference."
"He described his situation as a multi-tiered battle, to include knowing about
consequence management underway elsewhere in the building. He recalled his
situational awareness on the Pentagon crash as being an aircraft was from CNN.
Leidig is certain that Winfield returned after the Pentagon was hit. He is not
certain of Winfield's arrival in relationship with the Vice Chairman.
The only specific situational awareness he recalled was on a hijacked airplane
that was a threat to Chicago. He was referred to a NORAD report of "a possible fourth"
aircraft. He did not recall where the term "fourth" came from. He was not aware of any
other continuous open line with either the FAA or with NORAD.
"They did not have the thought in the Command Center to put all the aircraft in
the United States on the ground. There was no discussion about that event before it
Leidig did not know that there were fighter aircraft in CAP over DC before
discussions at the national level about that need. He did remember discussions about
fighter support for Air Force One, in the conference and not on a separate line.
He can't say that there was a separate source for the PEOC report of an inbound
aircraft. He equated that report to the same plane that had been headed to Chicago.
He deferred to the transcript of the Air Threat Conference for definitive
information as to when FAA was on the Conference. He did not recall anyone coming in
from another room or calling out himself to bring FAA into the conference.
Concerning Andrews, he thought Commander Gardner might have been
handling any such calls. He recalled that General Meyers was using available phones to
talk to senior officers at multiple locations. He and other Generals/Admirals were
working issues using a bank of available phones. The Air Threat Conference was on
speaker so everyone could hear. He recalled the room going quiet when the shootdown
language came over the Conference.
Concerning the threat to DC, the NMCC was convinced, he recalled that there
was an inbound threat to the Pentagon. He sense was that there were fighters in the air
and they were trying to get them focused on the inbound threat. He had a hard time
getting someone to tell him about the fighters."
"Concerning the first registering of the Vice President's shoot down language.
He recalled that it was more specific than what is registered in the transcript at this point.
It is more of a question than an order. He doesn't think that they have given the order at
that point.
He recalled language that when a plane got 15 minutes outbound (he meant
inbound) they had authority to engage. That language apparently came during a blank
portion of the tape. [Staff Note. The taping device that day was an analog device that
required that someone pay attention and periodically flip the cassette or insert a new one.
His recollection was, on reading the transcript, that there were conversations not
recorded.] He thought he was still the DDO at this point, not General Winfield. [He later
recalled that there wasn't that much missing from the transcript.]
He recalled a discussion about what they were going to do with any future
threats and that's when the Vice President came forward with other specificity.
However, the "pin drop" moment was when the "15 minutes" language came over the
speaker phone. All heads in the room turned toward the speaker, he recalled."
"General Winfield took over at some point in relation to the report of the
Pennsylvania crash. [Crash was at 10:03, so any reporting would be after that time.]
There was a question as to whether the military shot down the airplane that he
believes was not captured on the transcript. The issue was who's talking to those pilots
right now so we can talk to them and find out if the fighters shot down an aircraft. His
recall was that the fighters overhead were Andrews fighters."
"There was never a doubt, he said, that the President was in control that day. His
specific reference was to the Vice President's language, "I've confirmed ... " He also
knows from his job that the President is always capable of constant communication with
the national leadership. He again reaffirmed that there was never a doubt in his mind."
Leidig was the acting Deputy Director for Operations, sitting in for Brigadier General Montague Winfied, who was conveniently absent until later.  It looks like the Joint Chiefs arranged for this completely unprepared guy - he had been qualified to do this job for a month - to guard the chicken coop while the fox went egg hunting.
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