Tuesday, 9 September 2008

What I Heard LAX Security Officials Say During the 9/11 Attacks

On the morning of 9/11, I was working as Deputy Inspector representing the City of LA Building and Safety Department for the seismic retrofit of the LA Hilton Towers Hotel, only a few minutes by car from where I had worked at LAX. When I realized, after the second strike on the WTC, that the country was under attack, I decided that I should go to the APO, because I was one of only a few persons who would know how to fix certain parts of the new security systems if problems developed. Especially crucial were the systems at Guard Post II, for which I had managed the design changes and construction. So, after telling the workers to leave (because of my fear that the hotel might be struck) and informing Hilton Security of my order, I rushed to LAX Guard Post II. Arriving at about 6:35 AM (PT), I explained my purpose for being there to the Security Guards. I then heard some very interesting things.

As on other days, there was "chatter" on LAX Security walkie-talkies and I could easily hear what Security was saying when they were outside the guard shack (they would go in and out, but they were mainly outside). On some of the walkie-talkies, I could hear both sides of the conversations; on others only one. I do not know who was at the other end of the walkie-talkies, but I assumed that it was LAX Security dispatch or command.

At first, LAX Security was very upset because it seemed to Security that none of the FAA's Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) tracking the hijacked airliners had notified NORAD as required.

More chatter revealed that ATCs had notified NORAD, but that NORAD had not responded, because it had been "ordered to stand down."

This report made Security even more upset, so they tried to find out who had issued that order. A short time later the word came down that the order had come "from the highest level of the White House." Security was puzzled and very upset by this and made attempts to get more details and clarification, but these were not forthcoming while I was still there.

Another piece of information that I heard, shortly after my arrival, was that the Pentagon had been "hit by a rocket." It's possible that the word was "missile," although I'm quite certain it was "rocket." I was, in any case, quite surprised when I later got home and learned that the media were reporting that an airliner had hit the Pentagon.
There was also a radio station that I understood to be "LAX Radio" (or something like that), on which the following was heard: There were 11 planes and 11 targets, but at the time only 10 of the targets were mentioned: the WTC; the Pentagon; the White House; the Capitol; Camp David; the Sears Tower; the Space Needle; the Trans America Bldg.; LAX; and Air Force One---"if it could be found."

This station also reported that two fighter jets had been scrambled and had successfully shot down a hijacked airliner over Pennsylvania.


[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, September 9th, 2008.]

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