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MEMORANDUM

TO: Front Office
FROM: Team 8
RE: DoD Document Production
DATE: October 29, 2003
This memorandum addresses our recent discoveries regarding DoD's document
production, and discusses the impact of the situation on our work.
I. Commission Requests
As you know, Team 8 is charged, among other tasks, with determining the facts
surrounding our nation's air defense response to the hijackings of 9/11. The bulk of DoD
requests related to this issue are contained in DoD Document Request Nos. 1 and 4. DoD
Request No. 1 was submitted to DoD on May 9, 2003, with a production date of May 23,
2003; Request No. 4 was submitted to DoD on June 13, 2003, with a production date of
June 30, 2003. (See Tab A). Outlined below are some of the specific items contained in
these requests that should have produced the materials that have recently been
discovered.
1. "All documents relating to communications between NORAD and the FAA concerning
the tracking of the hijacked airplanes on 9/11/01." (Request No. 1, Item 13).
2. "All DoD after-action reviews relating to the events of 9/11/01, including documents
relating to the graphic depiction of the events of 9/11/01 presented to a National
Reconnaissance Office Conference on June 3, 2002, by Cherie Gott, and the review of
scramble activity for the First Air Force and Continental Air Defense Region (CONAR)
on 9/11/01 completed by the Chief of Staff (Colonel Scott) or other officials in 2002."
(Request No. 1, Item 10).
3. "All transcripts, tapes and other documents related to any interagency phone
conference that NORAD (including all of its components) conducted or participated in on
9/11 related to the hijackings of 9/11 and NORAD's response thereto." (Request No. 4,
Item 3).
4. "All transcripts, tapes and other documents related to any internal NORAD phone
conferences or communications on 9/11 related to the hijackings of 9/11 and NORAD's
response thereto." (Request No. 4, Item 4).
5. "Transcripts of all communications and orders conveyed to pilots scrambled in support
of the North East Air Defense Sector's (NEADS) response to the hijackings of 9/11."
(Request No. 4, Item 5).
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6. "All transcripts, tapes and other documents of the parent wings of aircraft scrambled in
support of NEADS' response on 9/11, related to the response of such aircraft to the
hijackings of 9/11." (Request No. 4, Item 6).
7. "All transcripts, tapes and other documents of the Air Force Bases from which aircraft
were scrambled in support of NEADS's response on 9/11, related to the response of such
aircraft to the hijackings of 9/11." (Request No. 4, Item 7).
II. Experience at Otis AFB
On October 14-15, John Farmer and John Azzarello visited Otis Air Force Base and
interviewed (1) Mike Kelly (Command Post Duty Controller), (2) Maj. Daniel Nash (one
of two pilots scrambled out of Otis), and (3) Bruce Vittner (Wing historian). In the course
of these interviews we uncovered the existence of the following documents, none of
which were produced to the Commission prior to our visit to Otis:
1. Audio and video interviews of personnel involved on 9/11: We learned that a
Master Sgt. Fullon (now stationed in Japan), conducted audio and video
interviews of the pilots and other personnel involved on 9/11. The people we
spoke with said that Master Sgt. Fullon was not "officially" asked to conduct
these interviews. However, the tapes of the interviews are in the possession of the
base and the people we spoke to repeatedly referred to this project as the only
"after-action report" conducted by base personnel post-9/11.
2. Tapes from the cockpit: We learned that the two pilots scrambled from Otis -
Duffy and Nash - recorded their activities in the cockpit. Specifically, Nash
recorded all of his activities in the cockpit, and Duffy activated his recorder to
memorialize changes in the rules of engagement. These tapes reportedly include
all communications with controllers as well as video and radar data from their
mission.
3. Logs from Command Post, SOF and Operations Desk: We were informed
that there are one or possibly two logs ~ other than the one log that was produced
to us ~ that relate to the events of the day.
4. Historian's Report: The Wing historian wrote a piece on the events of 9/11,
and kept notes on his underlying interviews.
With the exception of the latter category of documents, which were provided to the staff
during Mr. Vittner's interview, none of these materials have yet been provided to the
Commission.
III. Experience at NEADS
This week John Farmer, John Azzarello and Miles Kara visited the Northeast Air Defense
Sector (NEADS) and began a series of interviews with personnel involved in NORAD's
air defense operation on 9/11. The NEADS trip is the first field visit to NORAD facilities
by Commission staff; similar visits to CONR and Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center
(CMOC) were scheduled for the week of November 10th and December 1st, respectively.
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In preparation for this visit we spent the last two weeks reviewing the documents
produced to the Commission by NEADS and other NORAD facilities. With the exception
of three logs totaling eight pages, the only document produced by NEADS was a
"Transcript from Voice Recorder," (See DoD Index #NCT0000049-130). This transcript
was made within a week of 9/11 and was produced relatively early in response to the
Commission's requests - on June 2nd.
The transcript purports to capture the communications of various NEADS personnel,
including the mission crew commander, on the morning of 9/11. Because the transcript
ends at 10:15 am, we asked in repeated telephone conversations that the tape be further
transcribed. This request was memorialized in an email on September 8th. (See Tab B).
On October 20, after receiving no response to our September 8th message, we again wrote
and stressed the importance of both continuing the NEADS transcript and of receiving all
relevant NEADS documents prior to flying out to Rome, New York. (See Tab C).
Finally, last Friday we met in person with DoD officials, and once again stressed the
significance of receiving all tapes and transcripts relevant to 9/11, prior to flying to New
York.
Once on the ground at NEADS we uncovered the following information:
1. The transcript NEADS produced is fatally incomplete and inaccurate:
When we arrived at NEADS, we began to listen to the tapes from which the
transcript was made. It was apparent immediately - and acknowledged by
NEADS officials - that there are significant relevant omissions in the transcript.
Voices that are clearly audible in the tape were not transcribed. Moreover,
significant portions of the transcript are simply inaccurate; the words on the paper
do not track what is clearly heard on the tape. Put simply, the transcript is useless
as a formal record of NEADS conversations from 9/11 and will have to be done
over.
2. The transcript of the tapes NEADS produced represents at best one-third
of the total relevant recorded materials NEADS possesses from 9/11: We
discovered further that the one transcript produced by NEADS - which captures
approximately five channels of communication - constitutes only a fraction - at
best one-third ~ of the relevant recorded telephone lines in the facility.
Specifically, we learned that the NEADS transcript does not reflect conversations
by personnel assigned to key positions at the SOCC (Sector Operations Control
Center) on 9/11. As we understand it, there are 46 channels that can be recorded
from the SOCC floor. Of these 46 channels, only five or six were transcribed and
produced to the Commission prior to our visit to NEADS.
3. The omitted and untranscribed statements and conversations contained on
the tapes are critical to understanding the events of 9/11. One example should
suffice. In media interviews and in testimony before this Commission, NORAD
officials have claimed that fighter jets were scrambled from Langley Air Force
Base in response to the threat posed to Washington, D.C. by the hijacking of
American Airlines 77. This explanation has caused consternation among the
victims' families, who have wondered why the fighters did not travel directly to
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Washington if that was indeed the purpose. In a briefing on Monday, NEADS
officials conceded that this version of the story was not true, insisting instead that
the scramble was in response to the threat posed by United Airline 93. Neither
version is true; the best evidence for the truth behind the Langley scramble is
found on the tapes. The tapes disclose that the Langley fighters were scrambled
not in response to a threat to Washington from the west (77) or northwest (93),
but in response to the mistaken belief that American Airlines 11 had not hit the
World Trade Center at all, but was airborne and heading south. The fighters were
directed not immediately for Washington but instead toward Baltimore because
they were going to intercept American Airlines 11, heading south from New
York. An accurate, authenticated assessment of the tapes is therefore
indispensable to finding the facts of 9/11.
4. "Lessons learned" were solicited and gathered from NEADS personnel:
During our interviews we learned that after the events of 9/11, "folders" were
placed on the Operations Floor for each position to note "lessons learned" from
9/11. We were told that this was an "in-house" gathering of information from
which procedural changes were later adopted.
IV. Consequences
Three critical consequences follow from these developments. First, Team 8's timetable
for completion of the NEADS and NORAD interviews - not to mention the broader
scope of its work — is now completely disrupted. Before Team 8 resumes its interviews,
the tapes have to be received. Officials at NEADS have informed us that it will take
approximately 20 days to duplicate the tapes from the morning of 9/11. To our
knowledge, we have received no estimates from DoD as to when the Commission will
receive the Otis materials. After the tapes are duplicated, we are informed that they must
pass through NORAD and DoD channels, including the DoD General Counsel's office,
before we receive them. (DoD GC's review of the Pentagon Historical Project took
several months.)
After the tapes are received, they must be transcribed and authenticated, a process that,
again, will be extremely time-consuming. Only then can the critical interviews at
NEADS be resumed. Furthermore, because NEADS served as the nucleus of NORAD's
air defense capability, there is no sense in visiting CONR and NORAD without
understanding first what happened at NEADS. Accordingly, our CONR and NORAD
trips - which were to have been completed by early December ~ will have to be
postponed indefinitely.
Second, and perhaps more important, these developments - coming on the heels of the
disclosures during our FA A site visits - have undermined Team 8's confidence that the
information-gathering process employed to date with the agencies relevant to its mission
has been adequate to find the facts and circumstances surrounding the attacks on 9/11. At
virtually every site visit, Team 8 has discovered responsive, relevant - and sometimes
dispositive - documents in great quantities that, for whatever reason, were not produced.
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Team 8 has no reason to believe that other entities will prove to have been more
responsive. It seems highly implausible, for instance, given the recording capabilities at
NEADS, that neither CONR nor NORAD possesses any tapes or transcripts of
communications from the morning of 9/11. Nothing along the lines of a tape or transcript
of telephone communications has been produced from these NORAD facilities. More
broadly, Team 8 believes that the Commission's policy of accepting transcripts in lieu of
actual recordings should be revisited in light of its experience with the NEADS tape.
Finally, Team 8 believes that the developments at NEADS and Otis are indistinguishable,
if not more egregious, than the developments that led to the Commission's issuance of a
subpoena to FAA. Team 8 recommends that these developments be treated accordingly.