2,423. 9/11/2001

The 9/11 Commission report from June 17, 2004 detailed America’s air defense: “The U.S. military–the last line of defense [on September 11, 2001] against the hijacked aircraft–had nine minutes’ notice that American Airlines Flight 11 had been hijacked, two minutes’ notice that an unidentified aircraft, American 77, was headed toward Washington, and no notice at all about United Airlines 175 or 93. The chain of command did not function effectively, and the president of the United States [Bush] was often unable to communicate with his top commanders. The only air defense that the American people received on the morning of September 11, 2001, was the heroism of the passengers on United 93. Amazingly, the phone calls placed to and from passengers of United 93 and their loved ones were more effective in foiling an attack than the communications between the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] and NORAD, or among the senior-most officials in the U.S. government. The extraordinary feat undertaken by the passengers of United 93 to confront the hijackers instead of allowing the plane to crash into the hijackers’ target was the boldest action taken that morning to update the existing protocols to a post-9/11 world.”

 – Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, Without Precedent, Page 267

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