On Wednesday, the Sept. 11 Commission opened a two-day hearing into the attacks and found that terror network Al-Qaida had originally envisioned a much larger attack and sought to strike again with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
The hearings were scheduled to investigate the communication failures between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
Members of the commission have asked if a quicker and more organized response by fighter jets could have saved lives by intercepting the hijacked planes.
Panel members have also said NORAD's post-Cold War emphasis on defending the US from Soviet bombers clouded their abilities to focus on other scenarios, like hijacked planes.
Hours after the attacks took place, the FAA ordered all air traffic to a halt, forcing more than 4,500 planes to be grounded. This was the first time in US history the FAA has taken such measures.
If you have access to a computer with an Internet connection, you may have been able to find various time lines of events that took place on Sept. 11. There has been plenty of debate about whether the FAA and NORAD responded quickly enough.
Two F-15 Eagle fighters were scrambled from the Otis Air National Guard Bass in Massachusetts at 8:52 a.m. in response to Flight 175, which struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center 10 minutes later.
At 8:55 a.m. American Airlines Flight 77 broke from its flight path, turned off its plane transponder and 45 minutes later struck the Pentagon.
Victims' families argue the FAA and NORAD could have responded differently.
We believe an overhaul of the FAA and NORAD's emergency response policy is in order. It is probable, in our view, that either of these organizations could have responded differently, possibly saving lives on Sept. 11.
Information obtained about the hijackers from the CIA and FBI was clearly mishandled, in our opinion. If these organizations had a more complete process of sharing information, maybe the Clinton or Bush administrations would have been able to take steps to uncover the plot that killed thousands.
Training for the attacks began in 1999 under the watch of the Clinton administration. Commission members also found that the plot was originally planned for May 2001 but was pushed back because Al-Qaida sought to strike when Congress would be in session at the Capitol building.
We urge commission members to fully investigate these shortcomings and hold those responsible to account.
Published: Fri Jun 18, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:10 p.m.