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Sunday, February 27

Cellucci Slips Up: Flight 93 "Shot Down"

Uh, Paul, the official word is that the heroes took it down and it crashed, remember?


Canada.com

Boucher noted Canada and the U.S. amended an agreement last August to allow Norad to track any incoming rogue missiles.

Washington had hoped Canada would would go further and participate in building the continental defence shield, an elaborate system that some worry could lead to weapons in space and an international arms race.

Cellucci compared the situation to one that occurred during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. He noted that it was a Canadian general at Norad who scrambled military jets under orders from Bush to shoot down a hijacked commercial aircraft headed for Washington.

Had that plane been flying over Canada, it would have fallen to the prime minister to make the decision to shoot it down, Cellucci said.

That's why Americans were "perplexed" as to why Canadians would want to leave it up to the Americans to decide what action to take in the event a missile was aimed at Canada.


The rest of the story:

Flight 93 timeline:


10:06 a.m. Flight 93 crashes just north of the Somerset County Airport, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, 124 miles or 15 minutes from Washington DC. [10:00, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 10:03, NORAD, 9/18/01, 10:06, Guardian, 10/17/01, 10:06, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, 10:06, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 10:06, Mirror, 9/13/02, 10:06, USA Today, 8/13/02, 10:07, AP, 8/19/02, 10:10, CNN, 9/12/01, 10:10, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 10:10, New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:10, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, 10:06:05, US Army authorized seismic study] Little information about the crash has been made public.


The Flight 93 crater. Notice the destruction of the airplane is nearly total. [Reuters]

(Before and After 10:06 a.m.) "At least half a dozen named individuals ... have reported seeing a second plane flying low and in erratic patterns, not much above treetop level, over the crash site within minutes of the United flight crashing. They describe the plane as a small, white jet with rear engines and no discernible markings." [Independent, 8/13/02]
1) Lee Purbaugh: "I didn't get a good look but it was white and it circled the area about twice and then it flew off over the horizon." [Mirror, 9/13/02]
2) Susan Mcelwain: Less than a minute before the Flight 93 crash rocked the countryside, she sees a small white jet with rear engines and no discernible markings swoop low over her minivan near an intersection and disappear over a hilltop, nearly clipping the tops of trees lining the ridge. [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] She later adds, "There's no way I imagined this plane - it was so low it was virtually on top of me. It was white with no markings but it was definitely military, it just had that look. It had two rear engines, a big fin on the back like a spoiler on the back of a car and with two upright fins at the side. I haven't found one like it on the internet. It definitely wasn't one of those executive jets. The FBI came and talked to me and said there was no plane around.... But I saw it and it was there before the crash and it was 40 feet above my head. They did not want my story - nobody here did." [Mirror, 9/13/02]
3 and 4) Dennis Decker and Rick Chaney, Decker speaking: "As soon as we looked up [after hearing the Flight 93 crash], we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast. It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out." Decker and Chaney described the plane as a Learjet type, with engines mounted near the tail and painted white with no identifying markings. "It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down. If I was the FBI, I'd find out who was driving that plane." [Bergen Record, 9/14/01]
5) Jim Brandt sees a small plane with no markings stay about one or two minutes over the crash site before leaving. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/12/01]
6) Tom Spinelli: "I saw the white plane. It was flying around all over the place like it was looking for something. I saw it before and after the crash." [Mirror, 9/13/02]
The FBI later says this was a Fairchild Falcon 20 business jet, directed after the crash to fly from 37,000 feet to 5,000 feet and obtain the coordinates for the crash site to help rescuers. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01, Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] Was the unmarked jet some kind of reconnaissance plane?
The FBI also says there was a C-130 military cargo aircraft flying at 24,000 feet about 17 miles away, but that plane wasn't armed and had no role in the crash. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01] Note that this is the same C-130 that flies very close to Flight 77 right as that planes crashes into the Pentagon (see 9:38 a.m.).

(After 10:06 a.m.) Just after Flight 93 crashes, "Up above, a fighter jet streak[s] by." [ABC, 9/15/02]

(After 10:06 a.m.) At some point after Flight 93 crashes, NORAD diverts "unarmed Michigan Air National Guard fighter jets that happened to be flying a training mission in northern Michigan since the time of the first attack." [AP, 8/30/02] Why weren't they diverted an hour or more earlier?

(10:08 a.m.) Bush is told of the crash of Flight 93 a few minutes later. Because of Cheney's earlier order, he asks, "Did we shoot it down or did it crash?" Several hours later, he is assured it crashed. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]




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