Morning coffee: Wednesday

Sea of fog II by Dean Siebert

It’s midweek and the fog is lifting.

And can you believe it’s been 12 years…

Fox News and certain Republicans celebrate this day with masturbatory reverence. The attacks in 2001 represent everything they cherish: fear, brown-skinned enemies, fear, paranoia, fear, war, xenophobia, more fear, religious extremism, and a justified hatred towards “outsiders.” And bonus! all of it happening under a Republican president.

I will probably never forget where I was (in a federal building in the Midwest), who I was with (called into the boss’s office to look at his TV between 8-8:30 AM, CDT), and what we did (stare at the TV, call relatives and friends, and watch more TV). Pretty similar to most people’s experience that day, I would think. When the first plane hit the WTC, I wondered if the pilot had had a heart attack or something … it didn’t occur to me, initially, that this crash was on purpose or would be followed by more.

The timeline (EDT):

•    7:59 am – American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 92 people aboard, takes off from Boston’s Logan International Airport en route to Los Angeles.

•    8:14 am – United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 with 65 people aboard, takes off from Boston; it is also headed to Los Angeles.

•    8:19 am – Flight attendants aboard Flight 11 alert ground personnel that the plane has been hijacked; American Airlines notifies the FBI.

•    8:20 am – American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C.The Boeing 757 is headed to Los Angeles with 64 people aboard.

•    8:24 am – Hijacker Mohammed Atta makes the first of two accidental transmissions from Flight 11 to ground control (apparently in an attempt to communicate with the plane’s cabin).

•    8:40 am – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alerts North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) about the suspected hijacking of Flight 11. In response, NEADS scrambles two fighter planes located at Cape Cod’s Otis Air National Guard Base to locate and tail Flight 11; they are not yet in the air when Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower.

•    8:41 am – United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 with 44 people aboard, takes off from Newark International Airport en route to San Francisco. It had been scheduled to depart at 8:00 am, around the time of the other hijacked flights.

•    8:46 am – Mohammed Atta and the other hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 crash the plane into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building.

•    8:47 am – Within seconds, NYPD and FDNY forces dispatch units to the World Trade Center, while Port Authority Police Department officers on site begin immediate evacuation of the North Tower.

•    8:50 am – White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card alerts President George W. Bush that a plane has hit the World Trade Center; the president is visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida at the time.

•    9:02 am – After initially instructing tenants of the WTC’s South Tower to remain in the building, Port Authority officials broadcast orders to evacuate both towers via the public address system; an estimated 10,000 to 14,000 people are already in the process of evacuating.

•    9:03 am – Hijackers crash United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 75-85 of the WTC’s South Tower, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building

•    9:08 am – The FAA bans all takeoffs of flights going to New York City or through the airspace around the city.

•    9:21 am – The Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in the New York City area.

•    9:24 am – The FAA notified NEADS of the suspected hijacking of Flight 77 after some passengers and crew aboard are able to alert family members on the ground.

•    9:31 am – Speaking from Florida, President Bush calls the events in New York City an “apparent terrorist attack on our country.”

•    9:37 am – Hijackers aboard Flight 77 crash the plane into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing 59 aboard the plane and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building.

•    9:42 am – For the first time in history, the FAA grounds all flights over or bound for the continental United States. Some 3,300 commercial flights and 1,200 private planes are guided to airports in Canada and the United States over the next two-and-a-half hours.

•    9:45 am – Amid escalating rumors of other attacks, the White House and U.S. Capitol building are evacuated (along with numerous other high-profile buildings, landmarks and public spaces).

•    9:59 am – The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

•    10:07 am – After passengers and crew members aboard the hijacked Flight 93 contact friends and family and learn about the attacks in New York and Washington, they mount an attempt to retake the plane. In response, hijackers deliberately crash the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard.

•    10:28 am – The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses, 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11.

•    11 am – Mayor Rudolph Giuliani calls for the evacuation of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, including more than 1 million residents, workers and tourists, as efforts continue throughout the afternoon to search for survivors at the WTC site.

•    1 pm – From a U.S. Air Force base in Louisiana, President Bush announces that U.S. military forces are on high alert worldwide.

•    2:51 pm – The U.S. Navy dispatches missile destroyers to New York and Washington, D.C.

•    5:20 pm – The 47-story Seven World Trade Center collapses after burning for hours; the building had been evacuated in the morning, and there are no casualties, though the collapse forces rescue workers to flee for their lives.

Other things we should never forget:

George W. Bush and the Aug. 6, 2001, PDB: Ron Suskind’s “The One Percent Doctrine” is out this week, and the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman says it’s full of “jaw-dropping stories” about the Bush administration’s war on terror. Or lack thereof. We’ve known for years now that George W. Bush received a presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, in which he was warned: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” We’ve known for almost as long that Bush went fishing afterward. What we didn’t know is what happened in between the briefing and the fishing, and now Suskind is here to tell us. Bush listened to the briefing, Suskind says, then told the CIA briefer: “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.”

The Bush White House Was Deaf to 9/11 Warnings: On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity. That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it…

The morning of the attacks:

George Bush in 2002 – highlighted in Farenheit 911:

Who benefited from 911 (Village Voice | 8/31/11):

  • The Port Authority, a bistate agency that owns the World Trade Center site… the respectable Real Estate Board of New York estimated that rebuilding the site would cost $10 billion. Now, the public and private price tag is $20 billion. At $3.3 billion in taxpayer money alone, or about $1,000 dollars per square foot, One World Trade Center will cost double the price of a typical skyscraper, rents will have to be astronomical to break even, and government will once again subsidize those costs, just like it did 30 years ago.
  • Conde Nast, the publishing giant, got a sweet reduced price to move into 1WTC, one of dozens of big corporations which have received billions in 9/11-related subsidies and aid.
  • Goldman Sachs, not the least controversial company in the world, obtained $1 billion in Liberty Bonds from then Governor George Pataki for its plush building across from the site.
  • Mayor Bloomberg used $764 million in Liberty Bonds for a Durst tower in midtown and a Bruce Ratner office tower in Brooklyn—not even remotely WTC projects.
  • New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who reportedly made more than $20 million just from making speeches about the attacks. He also wrote a book, which earned him a $2.7 million advance. And he founded a firm staffed by members of his old administration, which earned a ton of money on consulting contracts.
  • The National September 11 Memorial and Museum…which will cost at least $700 million to build, and will have a $60 million annual operating budget. The Oklahoma City Bombing memorial cost $29.1 million to build. The World War II Memorial cost $175 million. And despite the name, it’s not really a “national” monument, as in something owned by the public. It’s actually a private, not-for-profit entity…. The top 11 officials of the September 11 Memorial and Museum make at least $190,000 a year, with four of them—Joseph Daniels, Alice Greenwald, Joan Gerner, and Cathy Blaney—making well over $300,000, tax records show. That’s $2.8 million in salaries just for 11 people… after pledging to raise its budget privately, the organization is now lobbying in Washington for federal funding.

read more…

Insider trading questions that will never be answered:

  • Sources tell CBS News that the afternoon before the attack, alarm bells were sounding over unusual trading in the U.S. stock options market. An extraordinary number of trades were betting that American Airlines stock price would fall. The trades are called “puts” and they involved at least 450,000 shares of American. But what raised the red flag is more than 80 percent of the orders were “puts”, far outnumbering “call” options, those betting the stock would rise. Sources say they have never seen that kind of imbalance before, reports CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. Normally the numbers are fairly even. After the terrorist attacks, American Airline stock price did fall obviously by 39 percent, and according to sources, that translated into well over $5 million total profit for the person or persons who bet the stock would fall. — CBS News | 9/19/2001
  • There was an unusually large jump in purchases of put options on the stocks of UAL Corp. and AMR Corp. in the three business days before the attack on major options exchanges in the United States. On one day, UAL put option purchases were 25 times greater than the year-to-date average. In the month before the attacks, short sales jumped by 40 percent for UAL and 20 percent for American. Spokesmen for British securities regulators and the AXA Group also confirmed yesterday that investigations are continuing. The source familiar with the United trades identified Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, the American investment banking arm of German giant Deutsche Bank, as the investment bank used to purchase at least some of the options. — San Francisco Chronicle | 9/29/2001
  • [T]he effort to track down the source of the puts was certainly quite substantial. What were the results and details of the investigation? Apparently, we’ll never know. Specifically, David Callahan – executive editor of SmartCEO – submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the SEC regarding the pre-9/11 put options. We have been advised that the potentially responsive records have been destroyed. If the SEC had responded by producing documents showing that the pre-9/11 put options had an innocent explanation (such as a hedge made by a smaller airline), that would be understandable. If the SEC had responded by saying that the documents were classified as somehow protecting proprietary financial information, I wouldn’t like it, but I would at least understand the argument. But destroyed? Why? — SEC: Government Destroyed Documents Regarding Pre-9/11 Put Options | Washington’s Blog


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