Class Notes 9/17

9/11 Commission Report (written):

1.1 Inside the Four Flights

  • Boarding the Flights
    • Boston: American 11 and United 175
      • Atta and Omari boarded a 6:00 A.M flight from Portland to Boston
      • Atta was selected by a computerized prescreening system known as CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System), created to identify passengers who should be subject to special security measures.
      • The only consequence of Atta’s selection by CAPPS was that his checked bags were held off the plane until it was confirmed that he had boarded the aircraft
      • Each of the hijackers would have been screened by a walk-through metal detector calibrated to detect items with at least the metal content of a .22-caliber handgun. Anyone who might have set off that detector would have been screened with a wand.
        • None of the checkpoint supervisors recalled the hijackers or reported anything suspicious regarding their screening.
      • Three other members of Atta’s hijacking team had been selected by CAPP’s in other locations,but it only affected the handling of their checked bags, not their screening at the checkpoint.
      • There were multiple instances where the hijackers would set off the alarm while passing through the security screening, but after being briefly wanded they were allowed to pass through with no problems.

9/11 Commission Report (video):

  • August 6th “PDB”
    • Bin Laden determined to attack in the US
    • This memo arrived one month before the attack
  • “The greatest failure of 9/11 is a failure of imagination, by all of us.”
  • Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon
  • Flight 93 continues its path towards another target
  • “Heroism and Horror”
  • The commission found no common training and reliable communication system among the policemen and firefighters that were on the scene.
  • Many workers were told to stay in their office because the “building was safe and secure”
  • Then the next plane hit the building and cost many more workers their lives.
  • Many of the problems could have been solved if their was better communication between a lot of people- including the police dispatchers
  • Part of the problem you’ll face is that “if too many people are trying to communicate with eachother at any level there will be interruption of communication.”
  • “New York has to stop thinking like a city, and start thinking like an army.” They’re now on the frontlines of a war.
  • United 93 is on it’s way to Washington DC. One of the terrorists was denied entry into the United States due to a brave airport worker who realized the facts didn’t add up.
  • Phoenix Memo: Number of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda members in the US intending to attack the US using the skills they gain here.
  • Wanted to check out the Middle Eastern students studying at United States and ensure they were not connected to Al Qaeda.
  • Less than a month before the 9/11 attacks, a middle eastern student didn’t want to learn how to fly but just learn how to take off in a boeing plane. The FBI was called but did not believe their was sufficient evidence for a criminal case. The FBI field agent who believed he was in the wrong, reached out to the CIA. He was an Islamist extremist who wanted to learn how to fly but was let go.
  • It was later confirmed that he was linked to Al Qaeda and Bin Laden and was going to be used as a backup if one of the other pilots could not do it.
  • A translator admitted that some of the other translators were sympathetic towards the hijackers, and some didn’t even speak the language they were supposed to speak.
  • The translator was fired, and two years later the FBI admitted it was due to the fact that she spoke up for her concerns.
  • United 93, the pilot continues attempting to deceive the other passengers about the intentions of the hijackers.
  • The passenger revolt began and the pilots decided to pull the plane down and crash the plane.
  • The commission report confirms that the military was in no position to stop United 93 from crashing into the capital or the white house.
  • The purpose of the report is to tell a story.

Homework: read a chapter of the written commission report and write an essay comparing it to the visual commission report


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