Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where Was NORAD on 9/11?

Rock Creek Free Press

NORAD SheildBy Dean M. Jackson - Washington, DC

Testifying before the 9/11 Commission General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the commission in response to a question on NORAD’s failure to anticipate the 9/11 attacks, “I can’t answer the hypothetical. It’s more - it’s the way that we were directed to posture, looking outward.” As we will see below NORAD, since its inception in 1958, was tasked with more than merely “looking outward”.

I found General Myers’ testimony on the capabilities of NORAD on 9/11 to be surprising, since it was long assumed that NORAD’s mission was more than “looking outward”. However, the 9/11 Truth Movement has been negligent in producing any documents that would confirm their suspicion that NORAD was tasked with watching over and intercepting errant aircraft in American skies before 9/11; that NORAD’s mission was more robust than “looking outward”. The following pre-9/11 citations conclusively documents the true capabilities of NORAD on the morning of 9/11.

“The NORAD mission is threefold. NORAD’s first responsibility is to provide surveillance and control of the airspace covering North America, specifically the airspace of Canada and the United States. This mission is based on agreements between the two governments….

The second part of NORAD’s mission is to provide the NCAs [National Command Authorities] with tactical warning and attack assessment of an aerospace attack against North America. This information is essential to providing those in command with information to aid them in making decisions on how to respond to an attack against North America.

NORAD’s third responsibility is to provide an appropriate response to any form of air attack. NORAD was created to provide a defense against the threat from air-breathing aircraft, specifically the threat from long-range bombers. However, over the years the threat has changed. Now NORAD must provide an appropriate response to a multitude of threats, to include the air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) and the sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM).”
NORAD AIR DEFENSE OVERVIEW; Northeast Parallel Architectures Center, Syracuse University, pre-1995 (

The last two missions constitute NORAD’s “outward” search for hostile aircraft approaching the North American continent. NORAD’s first mission, however, tasks the agency to monitor and control all aircraft within the United States’ and Canada’s air space. This is what NORAD calls “air sovereignty”. Let’s take a closer look at what constitutes “air sovereignty”.

As reported by the General Accounting Office in 1994 (GAO/NSIAD-94-76)

“NORAD defines air sovereignty as providing surveillance and control of the territorial airspace, which includes:
1. intercepting and destroying uncontrollable air objects;
2. tracking hijacked aircraft;
3. assisting aircraft in distress;
4. escorting Communist civil aircraft; and
5. intercepting suspect aircraft, including counterdrug operations and peacetime military intercepts.”

“NORAD defines ‘sovereign airspace’ as: the airspace over a nation’s territory, internal waters, and territorial seas. NORAD’s territorial seas extend 12 miles from the continental United States, Alaska, and Canada. Sovereign airspace above a nation’s territory is unlimited.”
NORAD AIR DEFENSE OVERVIEW; Northeast Parallel Architectures Center, Syracuse University, pre-1995 (

Let’s examine further citations from the 1990s that detail NORAD’s true capabilities on 9/11.

The article NORAD: Air National Guard manning stations across the country (National Guard Association of the United States, Sep. 1997) explains how NORAD’s six battle management and command centers identify commercial aircraft as these aircraft are being monitored flying through our air space, “Aircraft flying over our air space are monitored seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Much of the identifying process is done by hand.

Flight plans from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are compiled in logs and have to be manually searched to identify aircraft.”


“The Air Operations Center (AOC) (also known as the Air Defense Operations Center - ADOC) maintains constant surveillance of North American airspace to prevent overflight by hostile aircraft. It tracks over 2.5 million aircraft annually. The ADOC collects and consolidates surveillance information on suspected drug-carrying aircraft entering or operating within North America, and provides this information to counternarcotics agencies.”
Cheyenne Mountain Complex; Federation of American Scientists, 1999 (
“One ongoing mission of the Battle Management Center is to coordinate “air sovereignty” efforts, monitoring every aircraft that enters U.S. or Canadian airspace — some 2.5 million a year. NORAD is asked to investigate aircraft that do not file flight plans, contact ground controllers or identify themselves with transponders.”
Cheyenne Mountain: America’s underground watchtower; CNN Interactive, 1999 (
“In 1998, Canada posses the ability to detect, identify, and if necessary intercept aircraft over Canadian territory. The “Canadianisation” of NORAD operations over Canada is complete. Though we still rely heavily on the Americans for the Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment and mutual defense, we have successfully transitioned on at least one of the three core functions of NORAD [surveillance and control of sovereign airspace].”
Canadian Aerospace Sovereignty: In Pursuit of a Comprehensive Capability, by Maj François Malo; Department of National Defence (Canada), 1998 (

According to the article The Border Guards, NORAD: The Eyes and Ears of North America (, 1996), in 1996 NORAD prepared and practiced “its charter through continuous training and a realistic exercise program. Probably the biggest of these exercises is Amalgam Warrior, which is held twice annually in the fall for the East Coast and in the spring for the West Coast. The five-day fall Amalgam Warrior put Americans and Canadians through their paces, challenging forces in three areas coinciding with the command’s aerospace warning, air sovereignty and air defense missions.

The exercise was conducted in real time with a fictitious world political scenario, which prompted NORAD forces to transition from a peacetime posture to a war-fighting stance. The threat escalated from tracking unknown aircraft, which filed bad flight plans or wandered off course, and in-flight emergencies [all four hijacked aircraft on 9/11 were also in-flight emergencies] to terrorist aircraft attacks and large-scale bomber strike missions.”

How important is the “air sovereignty” mission to the Air Force? Colonel Dan Navin, special assistant to the commander of 1st Air Force in 1997 speaks to this question when he commented,”…many say [it] is the most important job of the Air Force, and that is air sovereignty.”

In point of fact, not only was NORAD postured to look inward on the morning of 9/11, but not long after the ‘collapse’ of the USSR NORAD’s inward mission-air sovereignty-was to become the raison d’être for its continued existence. A NORAD strategy review emphasized a new justification for its core forces soon after the ‘demise’ of the USSR-that of peacetime air sovereignty:

“The dramatically changed threat and . . . development of post-Cold War defense policies suggest real possibilities for shifting NORAD’s focus from deterring massive nuclear attack to defending both nations [Canada and the United States] by maintaining air sovereignty . . . . The size of the core force would equate to that required to perform the peacetime Air Sovereignty mission.”

By the mid-1990s the shift in NORAD’s focus was complete according to the GAO: “According to the Chairman [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff], the air defense force was structured to intercept the former Soviet Union’s long-range bomber force if it attacked over the North Pole. Since that threat has largely disappeared, the United States no longer needs a dedicated continental air defense force, and the force has refocused its activity on the air sovereignty mission…” We learn that by 1995 NORAD had changed its priorities. NORAD’s main mission of defending the continent against a massive nuclear attack would now take a back seat to the less glamorous inward mission of air sovereignty.

As Commander-in-Chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command from August 1998 to February 2000, General Richard Myers would have known that NORAD’s mission included surveillance and control of the territorial air space within the United States. Therefore when General Myers told the 9/11 Commission in response to NORAD’s mission, “I can’t answer the hypothetical. It’s more - it’s the way that we were directed to posture, looking outward” he knowingly committed perjury. As such, the United States Department of Justice now has the duty to charge General Richard Myers with perjury and determine why he committed perjury.

Now I understand why so many of us in the 9/11 Truth Movement seemed to remember that before 9/11 NORAD was tasked with more than just “looking outward”. That’s because before 9/11 the press, media, the government, including the militaries of both the United States and Canada, told us that one of NORAD’s responsibilities was surveillance and control of the territorial airspace above us.

The questions remain. Where was NORAD on 9/11? If they truly failed in their mission so badly on 9/11, why was no one fired or reprimanded?

Dean Jackson is a writer and 9/11 researcher in Washington, DC. His website, provides rigorous analysis of major issues concerning government malfeasance.


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