Backtalk October 20, 2006

Election 2006: A War Referendum

Mr. Raimondo,

It is a sad triumph of Rovism that the most passionate believers in our nation’s founding principles have been divided into conflicting camps. Thank you for reaching out to end that divide.

The real conservatives want freedom and justice, and their real opponents are the imperial Republicans and the Democrat enablers of imperial Republican subversion of our Constitution.

I look forward to the day when imperialism is renounced and we can debate the best ways to implement freedom and justice in our own country.

~ Peter Crowley

Backtalk is one of three Web sites that I visit every day. You guys do a tremendous job, so please don’t take this as a complaint (well, not a big one, anyway).

I wonder why your letters-to-the-editor page gets updated so infrequently compared to the rest of the site. The news stories and the blog change every day, and your regular columnists (such as Raimondo) post a new installment three times a week, it seems, but the letters are refreshed at glacial speed (in Web-time terms, anyway). I’m writing this on Oct. 16 while gazing at the “current” letters page dated Oct. 7.

I really like reading what other visitors have to say – good, bad, or totally off the wall. It’s frustrating waiting so long to read each new batch of missives. If there’s any way to speed up the letter-posting process, I would appreciate it.

Thanks again for being there, though. Even if you dropped the letters page entirely I would remain a faithful reader and supporter.

~ Steve Smith

Sam Koritz replies:

I apologize for allowing so much time to pass without posting a Backtalk file – and I’m glad that people care enough about Backtalk to complain about it.

The quantity of letters we receive varies depending on world events; during the past few months we’ve been averaging a little over one file per week, and approximately a half-dozen letters per file. At this time we don’t want to decrease the number of letters per file nor the quality of the letters we post. For a more frequent take on’s readers’ opinions you might join the Antiwar Forum, where (this week at least) they’re averaging about 11 messages per day.

Iraq: The Hidden Horror

It will be interesting to see if Bush backs up his statement. He would have to go to the Census Bureau where there are experts in survey methodology. The Census Bureau has a long history of integrity (except for a relatively few lapses), and I really believe they would not cave into political pressure. Look, Johns Hopkins and MIT are two of our finest institutions of higher learning. This isn’t faith-based science we are dealing with. Being a retired statistician, I can’t believe these people at Johns Hopkins got it wrong. Johns Hopkins is just down the road from the Census Bureau; they probably have been discussing this project jointly for some time. Cluster sampling along with demographic analysis techniques have been used for decades in developing countries in estimating demographic statistics like mortality. The Census Bureau has a long history in helping developing countries do this very same thing. Let’s hear from the Census Bureau! I don’t want to hear anything more from the White House.

~ Dave, Charlotte, N.C.

NORAD 9/11

Dear Sam Koritz,

You preface your piece about NORAD with the comment that the possibility Flight 93 was shot down is a theory that has been recently shot down (apologies – couldn’t resist it) – you said “debunked.”

I have NO prejudices on the matter either way. I seek the truth. And continue seeking!

So. Could you point me in the direction of the data (a link?) to which you refer in this Flight 93 case? Has there been some new revelation which eliminates the possibility it was shot down? I’ve not been following this story closely recently and might have missed it so I thought the matter was still up in the air (oops, there I go again).

(Bad) humor aside, this is a serious matter; many innocent lives were lost and finding out precisely what happened is the best way to honor their loss.

~ Paul Willis, Bangkok

Sam Koritz replies:

Dear Paul Willis,

The NORAD transcripts suggest that the planes tasked with defending North America never caught up with any of the hijacked planes.

Thanks for writing.

Your story about NORAD having not tracked the 9/11 hijacked planes is simply not true.

I have obtained an official report dated Feb. 15, 2002, from the National Transportation Safety Board that confirms my suspicion that NORAD and the 84th RADES Joint Surveillance System radar covered THE ENTIRE EAST COAST of the United States and tracked all four 9/11 hijacked aircraft THROUGHOUT THEIR ENTIRE FLIGHTS.

NORAD was not blind to domestic airspace and “looking outward” only as stated before the 9/11 Commission and DID NOT have to rely on a phone call from the FAA to see what was happening on radar inside U.S. airspace.

I have also located more than 200 F-18 Super Hornet jet fighters and radar planes within range of both Washington and New York that could have been sent after the hijacked planes but were not.

Office of Research and Engineering
Washington DC

“… in this study the time of day used as the standard time is from the USAF 84 RADES data, which covers ALL OF THE FLIGHTS FROM TAKEOFF TO RESPECTIVE IMPACTS.

“ARSR radar data was obtained from the United States Air Force 84 RADES…

“The USAF RADES data were obtained to capture the ENTIRE FLIGHTS…

“ARSR-4 radars utilized by the FAA AND THE USAF have the capability to estimate the altitude of primary targets with a certain degree of accuracy….”


Sam Koritz replies:

I didn’t go into the details in my blog posting, but what apparently happened is that NORAD was unable to track the planes using their transponder signals once the terrorists turned the transponders off, and was unable to track the planes using radar – at the time – due to their being lost among thousands of civilian flights.

Dear Sam, others,

Regarding your blog entry, I think that you should be wary of accepting the Vanity Fair article as the final word on NORAD’s actions on 9/11. …

In your blog entry you say: “On 9/11/01 there was a NORAD hijacking exercise, which seems to have caused some confusion when the real hijackings occurred….”

This statement suggests that there was “a” single exercise, but there were several war-games in full swing on the morning of 9/11.

Project Censored author Rebekah Cohen has written on this subject.

Yesterday (Oct. 9, 2006), author Michael Kane (works for Michael Ruppert) responded to a long “hit piece” on “conspiracy theorists” published by Bill Weinberg: “9/11 and The New Pearl Harbor – A Response to Bill Weinberg.”

In the recent, well-referenced scholarly volume, The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 (Elsevier, 2006), there is an essay by Don “Four Arrows” Jacobs entitled “The Military Drills on 9/11: ‘Bizarre Coincidence’ or Something Else?” He documents the possibility of seven, maybe eight, exercises ongoing on 9/11:

Amalgam Virgo (unconfirmed, featured simultaneous hijacking of two planes)
Timely Alert II
Operation Northern Vigilance
Tripod II
Operation Vigilant Guardian
Operation Northern Guardian
Operation Vigilant Warrior
Global Guardian

I also highly recommend the essay “The Hidden Story of 9/11: Exercises, Operations, and the Role of the Secret Service” by Matthew Everett and Paul Thompson, submitted for the record during a congressional briefing held last year by Rep. Cynthia McKinney. Pdf file here.

All of this documented information should be considered before considering this latest version of the 9/11 timeline of events on 9/11 as thorough. (According to researcher Thompson, there have been as many as seven versions of the FAA/NORAD experience on 9/11.)

The very idea that those plucky 19 hijackers would have picked the very day that these many war-games converged, out-of-the-blue, as coincidence, seems unlikely at best, and suggests insider knowledge if not a documentable stand-down order.

These tapes must have been available on day one. Why is this information emerging now?

~ Allan Giles

Dear Allan,

Thank you for sending along all this information.

Let me clarify. According to the NORAD transcripts, as quoted in Vanity Fair – and contrary to claims made by some war opponents – there was no stand-down order on 9/11. (Whether or not the terrorists were tipped off about war games is a separate question.) To the extent that war opponents are associated with dubious 9/11 conspiracy theories, we’re discredited. And there’s no need to resort to unfounded accusations to make the anti-empire argument regarding 9/11. Just consider some of the uncontested facts:

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