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UnansweredQuestions.Org thinking for ourselves

John Judge speaking at
9-11 and the Public Safety:
Seeking Answers and Accountability
National Press Club, 10 June 2002

John Judge - Air Defenses/NORAD
Author, Researcher, Co-founder of Coalition on Political Assassinations

I'm John Judge. I'm a resident of Washington, DC. I've been an independent investigator and researcher for many years. I'm one of the cofounders of the National Coalition on Political Assassinations which is a network of independent researchers and investigators into the John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King assassination. We were responsible for passage of the JFK Records Act which to date has released over six million files, the largest release of classified documents in American history. We're working now on the Martin Luther King files. And I do independent research and investigation.

I don't have any particular expertise in the questions that I'm raising, other than my own history and my own work here in DC. I am a part of the baby boom in the postwar years and I'm also someone who grew up in the shadow of the secret government in Washington, DC, in the bedroom community in Falls Church of the NSA and the CIA and the Pentagon. My parents were civilian Pentagon employees for thirty years. My mother was five levels above top security under the Joint Chiefs. I grew up in the Pentagon. I spent time as a child in the Pentagon. And that's part of the story I'll tell you today.

But briefly, the question that's been going around the press is what did Bush or the administration know about these events and when did they know it. And I would at least suggest that there is an undeniable and incontrovertible point at which Bush and the rest of the country knew in advance that the country was under attack by hijacked planes taken by terrorists or people who had the intent to use those planes as weapons, and that is 9:05 in the morning on September 11th. And the press reported that within moments after that, in conversation with Vice President Cheney, a shoot down order was given, an official shoot down order, for the planes that were remaining in the air.

And then there's a period of almost 40 or 45 minutes -- depending upon which time sequences you use -- but at least 40 minutes during which Flight 77, the flight that left, turned around in Ohio and crashed into the Pentagon, was coming toward DC. I was awakened by a call at the time of the first plane going into the first [WTC] tower by someone I knew here in the area who does flight administration out at Dulles. They knew that this was a very serious incident and there should not have been a plane anywhere near. By the time we began to discuss it, the second plane hit and at that point for most of the country coincidence theory and accident theory were out the window and people knew that these planes were being used as weapons.

Not unprecedented, not even unprecedented by elements of Al Qaida or the Taliban to use planes as weapons into buildings. It'd been done before in other countries, but it was being done here. And these planes, even though at some point they turned off their transponders, were under radar surveillance. They knew what direction they were headed and even Channel 8, local TV, announced here in DC that the planes were headed to Washington, at least one of them. And they were watching this plane come, and it's coming into, at eventually, the most restricted airspace in the country and probably in the world.

It's an airspace that, when I grew up here in DC, I have seen, and friends of mine have seen, commercial aircraft stray into this airspace and be confronted by interceptors that came up from local military bases or other points in the city and wagged back out of that airspace. This is an airspace that's under constant surveillance.

There were some quotes that came out shortly afterwards. This Pentagon spokesperson said, "We had no mechanism to respond." I would suggest that if you're an investigative reporter, that you will find out that they have a very extensive mechanism to respond. That they don't only respond in the case of a crisis emergency like this but they respond when any commercial aircraft goes off course, even for a period of a few minutes. They have interceptors that go up to find out what's happening, why it's off course, if communication to the tower is broken, and that these are procedures that don't need any order from the President. They don't need any order from the Pentagon or anything else. These are standard FAA and NORAD procedures.

It was in the press that by 9:00, I'm sorry, by 8:25, they knew that an unprecedented situation, or at least relatively -- this is the first I heard of the four planes in 1970 -- but certainly relatively unprecedented situation -- four simultaneous hijacked planes. And so there should have been some response already, just knowing that by 8:25. That didn't seem to occur. But certainly they knew that they were under a terrorist attack of some kind and a plane was coming to DC.

It was known in advance and they began evacuation of the Capital. They announced it on the news. They interviewed people on the lawn of the White House who had been evacuated and they also announced on the local news that the Pentagon was being evacuated. So they knew the targets and they knew where it was coming.

They watched it come for a long time and then, eventually, planes were scrambled, intercept planes, from Langley Air Force Base which is 130 miles to the south of DC, who flew at apparently, if you take the distance and divide the flying time that they say, at subsonic speeds, and got to the Pentagon after the plane actually crashed into it. Regardless of whether these planes would have shot the plane down, the planes should have been, and could have intercepted the plane at least, wagged at it. Tried to indicate it or turn it in a particular direction. They have procedures that they follow.

Another quote that came out September 23rd in Newsday from the Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, Vick Warzinski [Ed: sp?]: he says that it's simply not -- that they simply weren't capable of understanding that the plane was heading our way. They weren't aware. They simply weren't aware that the aircraft in question was heading our way and I doubt that prior to Tuesday's events anyone would have expected anything like this.

Now I arranged a demonstration called A Day Without the Pentagon in the late 1990's to march from the National Cemetery to the Pentagon to contest the bloated military budget and cutting it -- What A Day Without A Pentagon Budget. In other words, I wasn't suggesting we get rid of the Pentagon by an explosion but I was saying what would it mean if we took one day of the Pentagon's budget and put it into social services. And we marched across.

Now I had to negotiate that with about 16 different police agencies here in DC. And I was taken, by the head of security at the Pentagon, into the Pentagon building. I was walked through the area where the Joint Chief's have lunch and I was taken out to the grounds in the parade area where we were going to be. And he said, "You can't come up any further than this wall." Well the wall was at the end of an area that doesn't come up to the steps. And I said there had been a Supreme Court decision in the 1970's that demonstrations could come all the way up to the steps. And he said, "You can't do that now because we are on delta alert." And I said, "What's that?" And he said, "It's our highest form of alert." And I said, "Why are you on alert?" And he said, "We're getting bomb threats every day from the Muslims." And he said, "And we have this constant alert and you can't come any closer for security reasons." And then he pointed up at the top of the building and he said, "We have radar up there watching to see if any planes are coming into the building." And he said, "We have photographic equipment and look at the skies with the videos and we're going to be taping your demonstration." And I said, "That's nice, can we get a copy?" This was the late 1990's. Did they go back to sleep? They have the equipment to know something's coming.

In addition to that, my parents used to take me to lunch during the day in the center area of the Pentagon in the courtyard in the middle. And I remember asking my father when I was young what certain things were there. And there were surface-to-air missile batteries in that area that defend the building. It's also the case after the Piper Cub that flew into the Whitehouse hit that a surface-to-air missile battery was built on the Whitehouse lawn in order to protect that building.

This plane came into the restricted airspace. It flew over the Whitehouse and the Capital and then it took a 270 degree looping turn coming down from 5,000 feet. Nothing in its way. The simplest thing in an operation. You'd think it would go to the nearest side of the Pentagon. But it went out of its way to hit the empty side of the Pentagon. And I think they studied it and there was something in the news last week that Muhammad Atta had a miniaturization of the Pentagon that he was carrying around in some public place.

Anybody who was anywhere near the Pentagon in the last six years, even back in the '90's when I was there, knows that that's the side of the Pentagon that's empty and it's been under construction and so they went out of their way to come all the way around the Pentagon. There's nothing blocking their way to go into any other side and hit that side. But the entire time they were completely unchallenged.

Now is it the case, as they were saying, that they had no mechanism, that they didn't have any scrambling planes available here in DC? Absolutely not. Andrews Air Force Base which is ten miles away from here has both the 121st Fighter Squadron of the 113th Fighter Wing, F-16's, multiple planes, the equivalent of two squadrons of combat-ready fighter jets at Andrews Air Force Base. They also house the 321st Marine Fighter Attack Squadron, the 49th Marine Air Guard which defends the airspace over the DC area and F-18's that are combat ready.

In addition to that there is Anacosta Naval Air Station which houses the DC National Air Guard and DC National Guard, and they have combat-ready jets. These jets are in the air now, after the fact, actively defending the United States. Where were they on September the 11th? Why was nothing put up in the way of this flight?

Is it the case, then, perhaps, that there was some sort of a stand down? I have a few indications of that. There is a 177th Air National Guard based out of Pomona, New Jersey, near Atlantic City at the Atlantic City Airport. They're about equidistant, actually a little closer to DC. They could cover both Manhattan and DC. They have fighter-ready intercept jets. But one investigator that talked to them said that they were told two weeks prior to the event to stop putting the jets up in the air on a regular basis.

I also talked to an independent journalist investigator at the Pentagon whose response to my stand down thesis that I'm giving you, he said, "Didn't you read in the New York Times" -- and I've not been able to find this article so it may be he mis-cited it -- "that three days before September 11th half of the combat ready planes in the United States were taken down offline." I said, "I did not. Are you making your argument or mine?"

And then there's a third indication I have from someone whose son is stationed at Otis Air Force Base. The son has talked to pilots who were in the air the hour that the second plane was hit, scrambled out of Otis, who turned their attention to Flight 77 (the Pentagon flight) and made clear that they were going to go to try to intercept that flight coming back across from Ohio to DC and were called back -- according to these pilots -- were called back off the flight by the Command.

So was there a stand down and no response? Were there call backs? These are not questions that I ultimately have the resources to answer but they're questions that stand and that raise, for me, a much deeper level of this scenario than is being addressed. But was there a point at which they knew ahead? There certainly was and for forty minutes everybody in DC knew the plane was coming and we didn't do a thing.

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