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Thomas H.


Lee H. Hamilton


Richard Ben-Veniste Max Cleland Fred F. Fielding Jamie S. Gorelick Slade Gorton John Lehman Timothy J. Roemer James R. Thompson

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Philip D. Zelikow


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Copyright 2001 The Washington Post
The Washington Post September 28, 2001, Friday, Final Edition SECTION: A SECTION; Pg. A04 LENGTH: 915 words HEADLINE: Rules Govern Downing Airliners; Region Commander Can Make Decision BYLINE: Vernon Loeb, Washington Post Staff Writer BODY: Rules of engagement developed since this month's terrorist attacks authorize U.S. Air Force pilots to shoot down hijacked commercial airliners with the approval of regional commanders, if time does not permit the president or other senior leaders to be contacted, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday. Rumsfeld said airline passengers should be assured the rules are under "continuous review" and require the president, the secretary of defense or regional commanders to approve the downing of an airliner. "The president, the secretary of defense and the combatant commanders are never more than a minute or two away from a secure phone," Rumsfeld told reporters. "Very, very senior people are able to address a matter in real time and ask the right questions and make the right judgments." President Bush authorized the Air Force to shoot down any airliner that refused instructions to turn away from Washington immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Vice President Cheney subsequently disclosed. But there were no rules of engagement in place before Sept. 11 to address how military pilots should respond in the event that airliners were hijacked and used as missiles by terrorist pilots. Under the new rules, the North American Aerospace Defense Command's regional commanders would have the authority to approve the downing of hijacked airliners over the continental United States and Alaska if there was not enough time to contact more senior officials, defense officials said. A downing over Hawaii would be authorized by the U.S. Pacific Command, headed by Adm. Dennis C. Blair. The rules were first reported in yesterday's New York Times. In the wake of this month's attacks, the rules were developed by Rumsfeld and Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and approved by the president.


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The Associated Press State & Local Wire The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press. September 27, 2001, Thursday, BC cycle SECTION: State and Regional LENGTH: 669 words HEADLINE: Two generals in charge of deciding whether to shoot down threatening jetliners BYLINE: By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer DATELINE: WASHINGTON BODY: Two Air Force generals have been authorized to order the military to shoot down any civilian airliner that appears to be threatening U.S. cities, Pentagon officials said Thursday. Seeking to reassure America's travelers of their safety, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said: "There are a lot of safeguards in place." He said he had crafted the new rules of engagement for military pilots with Gen. Henry H. Shelton, who is retiring as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "The last thing in the world that one of them wants to do is engage a commercial aircraft," Shelton said. "And so don't get the impression that anyone who's flying around out there has a loose trigger finger." Rumsfeld was asked if Americans should be worried about the policy since passengers could be trying to overcome a hijacker as people attempted on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania Sept. 11. That was the only one of four hijacked planes that did not hit a terrorist target. "The rules of engagement are addressed on a continuing basis with a great deal of care and sensitivity to all of the points that you've raised and others have raised," Rumsfeld said, refusing to provide details. "And I can assure that they are under continuous review and given the carefulest consideration. And it seems to me that is the same kind of assurance that the American people get with respect to a lot of things that the Defense Department's involved in." White House spokesman Scott McClelland said that every attempt will be made to follow the chain of command from the commander in chief on down before any order to down a plane is issued and the decision would be made only by very senior-level officials. "It's an enormous burden to make that decision. As an absolute last resort, the most senior-level official at the absolute last moment of decision would have the authority to make that decision," McClelland said. He said the circumstances for the decision would have to involve a plane headed nose down and