In a 2004 U.S. Senate hearing, Senator Mark Dayton remarked that “this country and its citizens were completely undefended” for “109 minutes” on 9/11. Dayton went on to clarify that officials within the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) had covered up the facts about the lack of air defenses by lying to the 9/11 Commission, to Congress and to the American people. And they were not held accountable.
One man was most responsible for both the air defense failures and the lying that covered it up. U.S. Air Force General Ralph Edward Eberhart had taken over command of NORAD from General Richard Myers in February 2000. The position included leadership of all air defense operations in North America and, also, the U.S. Space Command. Therefore, on 9/11, Eberhart was the man most responsible for failure to intercept the four hijacked aircraft over a period of nearly two hours.
NORAD is the joint U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for monitoring and defending the airspace over North America. Long-standing operating procedures at NORAD, for dealing with airliners that have gone off-course or been hijacked, were not followed on 9/11. Each of the four flights involved in the 9/11 attacks should have been intercepted when they lost radio contact, deviated from their course, or turned off their transponders.
The procedures for interception were automatic and required no special orders to implement. Through these procedures, interceptor jets had been scrambled 129 times in the year 2000 and 67 times in the year prior to June 2001. A 1994 government report stated — “Overall, during the past four years, NORAD’s alert fighters took off to intercept aircraft (referred to as scrambled) 1,518 times, or an average of 15 times per site per year. Of these incidents, the number of suspected drug smuggling aircraft averaged … less than 7 percent of all of the alert sites’ total activity. The remaining activity generally involved visually inspecting unidentified aircraft and assisting aircraft in distress.”
On 9/11, the NORAD interception system failed completely and we have been given multiple, conflicting explanations for why that happened. Considering that there is strong evidence for an alternative hypothesis of insider involvement in 9/11, it is reasonable to assume that an intentional compromising of the U.S. air defenses might have occurred that day. Adding to this suspicion is the fact that guilt tends to be reflected in false testimony. And as Senator Dayton said, NORAD officials “lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 Commission.”