On September 11, 2001, I watched with a mix of horrified shock and uneasy suspicion as the attack changed the world on live television. From day one, I listened closely and collected articles and other materials. Beginning in 2005, I began to research all that had been collected, with little idea where it would lead. The guilt needle soon began pointing in one steady direction. Three years later that needle has yet to waver.
From 1989 until 2005, I was a pilot for one of the airlines whose planes were hijacked on 911, flying throughout the world exclusively on Boeing aircraft. I had earned my captain ratings on the 727, 737, 747, 747-400 and, most importantly for this book, the Boeing 757 and 767, the very planes used by the 911 Raiders. I knew both Captain Jason Dahl of United 93 and Captain Vic Saracini of United 175. I had flown with most of the flight attendants who perished on that day.
Even if I’d had no other reason to investigate, my airline family deserved an honest account of the attack. I might add that we also deserve this because 911 has been used against us ever since, in a running nightmare of contrived bankruptcy, draconian working conditions and hostile management. I have circled the world with the dedicated employees of our company on thousands of domestic and international routes. Together we’ve hit nearly every commercial runway within the United States, with dozens of entries into each of the three airports used on 911, and in nearly every major city of the world. In 2003, we flew 747 charters for the U.S. military, delivering young Marines to the battlefield via Kuwait. During this period, I wrote my first book, Lakefront Airport, based on my experiences as a covert player during the 1980s for the first Bush Administration. This inside criminal operation became known as Iran Contra. Alarmingly, major covert players from Iran-Contra resurfaced in the 911 evidence. In aviation training, we call this kind of thing a red flag. The covert activities — “black operations” or black ops — I witnessed during the first Bush administration seem to have laid the groundwork for unthinkable black ops in the second.
My experience in government-sponsored covert operations provides insight into how black ops, such as the activities of Blackwater and other private contractors, work. My experience as a Boeing captain contributes a clear picture of aviation-related aspects of 911 that have remained obscure for the general public. I also worked for years in and around the oil industry — as a roughneck on rigs in the Gulf of Mexico in the late 1970s, and flying Learjet charters for Halliburton and other oil-related companies from my hometown of New Orleans and later out of Dallas in the early 1980s. Oil, aviation and covert operations: these are three major areas in the world of 911.
The 911 Commission Report, distorted largely through the efforts of its White House–appointed executive director Philip Zelikow, fails to provide an accurate timeline for the attack. By placing events out of chronological order, the report tends to confuse readers. Descriptions of the attack here have been placed in chronological order using FAA records, radar records, NTSB reports, 911 Commission research, cockpit voice recordings, testimony from air traffic controllers, American and United airlines dispatchers and other official records. Except for the flying analysis, the hard evidence in this book has been compiled by others: by congressional investigators, 911 Commission investigators, FBI, FAA and NTSB investigators, and by the authors of published reports in major world newspapers and magazines. I cite several nonfiction books as background and for cross-reference and I highly recommend each of them.
My research into 911 raised many red flags, but ultimately pointed to a type of covert operation, used time and time again in history, known as a “false flag.” A false flag is defined as an act of aggression meant to appear as though it was carried out by your enemies.
— Philip Marshall Introduction: 911 as Executed, 911 as Planned
After any tactical operation is completed, its plan becomes evident. The work of the Raiders on September 11th, 2001, shows that the element of surprise allowed the first wave of attack against New York to go unchallenged. But then the advantage of surprise was lost, and at that point, given that this was a multi-pronged attack involving several airliners, every second of delay jeopardized the rest of the mission. Although time is important in any tactical plan, time — Time with a capital T — was mission-critical for the Raiders. On 911, the delay between the New York attacks and the strike on the Pentagon, followed by the crash of United 93 in Pennsylvania, meant that although they achieved spectacular tactical successes, in strategic terms the Raiders actually failed.
Almost all attention concerning 911 has been focused on the terrible deeds that the Raiders accomplished. However, it is at least as important to focus on what they did not accomplish — how the attack was intended to unfold, and what it was designed to achieve. Those are the terms in which the Raiders failed, and that failure may eventually prove to be their undoing.
The Raiders chose four perfect flights to hijack. All were scheduled to depart within minutes of each other from three separate airports. All were among the first flights of the morning, and therefore among the least likely to be delayed. Because of unpredictable taxi times at these busy airports, it would be hard to know which plane would hit its target first. But if things went just right, they might have all hit within minutes if not seconds of each other.
All four airplanes were fully fueled and loaded and pushed back from their gates on schedule. American 11 pushed back from the gate at Boston at 7:50. United 175 pushed back, also from Boston, at 7:59. United 93 pushed back from Newark at 8:01 and American 77 pushed back from Dulles at 8:10.
At this point, the odds were excellent that all four airplanes would be airborne by 8:15, all would reach their windows for takeover by 8:40 and all would soon be burning within their targets. By 9:11, interestingly enough, Americans would be witnessing something that would look very much like Armageddon.
What actually happened was horrific enough. But consider the impact of nearly simultaneous strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the destruction of the Capitol dome. This was the plan: fire and brimstone killing thousands of Americans on live television, along with the decapitation of the best-known symbol of the republic. As profound as the psychological impact of 911 has been, the trauma of what was intended to happen would have ratcheted that impact up to a level that is difficult to conceive or calculate, except to say that it would be capable of producing almost unlimited political consequences, and for a very long time.
Had the plan gone as designed, the Raiders could expect a frantic but fruitless response from the U.S. defenses. By 9:11, Americans would be in a state of profound shock and even real terror. The President of the United States would give a somber speech from an elementary school where he had been showing compassion for America’s students, reading an innocent story to seven-year-olds. It would be obvious that there hadn’t been a damn thing he could do, after immediately launching waves of fighter jets from Cape Cod to Dover to Maryland to Hampton Roads, only to find that the sneak attack had long been completed and nothing but smoke filled the skies. He would soon identify the evildoers and bravely send the American military into a new era of retaliation.
But it didn’t happen that way. When the tactical plan is analyzed in aviation terms, it becomes clear that the hijackers did not just fail by not managing to crash United 93 into the Capitol dome, they failed to achieve one of the most important goals of the overall mission. They failed because it is the delays, the long duration of the four hijackings, that tends to expose the identity of the real Raiders — meaning not the nominal hijackers but the mission planners and architects. The actions, and the inaction, of a small number of key individuals within the Executive Branch before and after the attacks were remarkable. But it is their behavior during the rather extended period of the nightmare of 911 that will ultimately serve to bring the perpetrators to light, if not to justice.