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US Military Command Structures and the 9/11 Attack

Although the September 11th attack was designed to appear and was marketed as the work of sleeper cells of Islamic terrorists, it bears numerous signs of a sophisticated military operation executed by elements within the US military.

  • The jetliners attacked their targets with great precision, arguably achievable only through computerized flight control.
    • The Twin Towers were struck at high speeds and with great precision. Flight 11 hit the northeast wall of the North Tower nearly dead center and banked so as to spill fuel into over five floors. Flight 175 hit the corner of the South Tower so that most of its fuel exploded into the atmosphere, producing a spectacular fireball for the cameras trained on the towers.
    • The Pentagon attack plane executed an extreme aerobatic maneuver on its approach, losing 7000 feet in about two minutes in a 270-degree spiral dive, and then crashed into the ground floor of the facade after a dive so shallow that it clipped lamp-posts on the nearby highway.
  • The jetliners and their targets in New York City were destroyed with a thoroughness that helped to erase details of the attack's execution.
  • The attack unfolded like clockwork, with no interference from the defensive systems that would have stopped a surprise attack.
    • The four jetliners were taken over in nearly identical fashions, with the transponders shut off, and no distress calls from the pilots.
    • None of the four jetliners were intercepted or shot down, with the exception of Flight 93, which was apparently shot down in spite of indications that passengers had regained control. Commentators speculated that the plotters intended for Flight 93 to crash into the Capitol building or the White House, but its downing in Pennsylvania was likely planned to provide heroic drama.

The apparently flawless execution of the attack is consistent with a sophisticated military operation and not with a kamakazi attack by ragtag bands of Islamic terrorists. Contrary to common assumptions, such a military operation did not require a wide-ranging conspiracy within the US military, but only of a small number of top-level officials. This is the case because of the nature of military command structures and extent of computer automation in US military systems.

First consider the structure of the military. Of all human institutions, military organizations are some of the most hierarchical and opaque ever devised. Military personnel are trained to follow orders without question, and to maintain strict secrecy about operations. Violations of codes of secrecy are strictly punished. More important, military personnel are typically directed on a need-to-know basis. Operatives are briefed only on facts necessary to the execution of their task. By dividing up a mission into sufficiently small tasks and delegating the tasks to different operatives, it is possible to execute the mission while preventing any individual operatives from seeing much of the larger picture. Such compartmentalization is an essential feature of the US military and intelligence agencies. In the execution of the 9/11/01 attack, even stricter compartmentalization and secrecy could have been practiced without that being apparent to operatives following orders.

Then consider how automation could have reduced the manpower requirements of the attack. Each of the principal tasks required to execute the attack were likely facilitated through computer automation.

  • The takeovers of the jetliners may have been accomplished by hacking into the flight control computers. Their highly accurate attack maneuvers were likely achieved through pre-programming of their flight paths.
  • The prevention of fighter intercepts may have been accomplished, in part, through the (automated) insertion of spurious radar blips in FAA and NORAD flight tracking systems.
  • The controlled demolitions of the WTC towers were likely accomplished through the use of charges whose detonations were controlled by computer via radio links.


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