9-11: The Actual Story and the “official” story; clarified


I get the occasional Google Alert email reminding me that the myth of an “official” story concerning the events of September 11, 2001, is still floundering around in the blogosphere. There is an actual story of what happened on 9/11; there is no “official” story as is speculated in the 9/11 truth community. This article clarifies the issue for academicians, historians and serious researchers.

The Actual Story

The 9/11 Commission and the Congressional Joint Inquiry before it gathered a comprehensive body of information that established that the event known as 9/11 was a surprise attack on American soil accomplished by 19 terrorists who hijacked four commercial airliners and flew them to catastrophic end, destroying the World Trade Center complex and damaging the Pentagon in the process. The evidence for that narrative is compelling and conclusive.

Additional responsible work has been done that expands on the work of the Commission and the Joint Inquiry. Here is the primary body of information (not inclusive) that establishes the actual story:

The Confusion

A small group of people known collectively as the 9/11 truth community has arbitrarily decided that the actual story is an “official” story that has, itself, been largely discredited.  That is, at best, disingenuous; at worst, intellectually dishonest.

Writ large, the logic is:

  • The 9/11 Commission Report, alone, is the “official” story;
  • Some Commissioners and staff have said that the “official” story is false;
  • Therefore, the narrative of the 9/11 Commission Report is false.

That logical fallacy allows the introduction of wildly speculative alternate scenarios, none of which has a factual base.  The resultant propaganda suggests that there is general public agreement with the fallacy, and that has resulted in a ground swell of activism and support for vocal members of the 9/11 truth community. The “truth” of that community is that the activism and support is small and a few individuals have found a way to make a living off of that activism and support.

None of the activism, support, or work of those making a living off the 9/11 truth community has moved the false narrative forward in any measurable way.  The 9/11 truth community was effectively dealt with and dismissed by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan in their 2011 book, The Eleventh Day, the Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden. In Part Two, “Distrust and Deceit,” the authors conclude:

Wonder one may, but the authors have seen not a jot of evidence that anything like a false flag scenario was used on 9/11…Nor, after more than four year’s research, have we encountered a shred of real information indicating that the Bush administration was complicit in 9/11. Subjected to any serious probing, the suspicions raised by Professor Griffin and his fellow “truthers” simply vanish on the wind.

Unmasking the “Official” Story

If there is an “Official” story it concerns the day of 9/11 and it is the narrative that was in place when the Commission began its work in 2003; the Joint Inquiry did not examine the events of the day.  That narrative had been allowed to accumulate based on faulty staff work, incomplete analysis, and extensive anecdotal evidence, to include participant recall, eye witness accounts, and media and literary accounts.

The Commission came face to face with that story on May 22 and May 23, 2003, when Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Minetta, and officers representing North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) attempted to testify to what actually happened on 9/11 and failed.

That failure caused Team 8 leader, John Farmer, to write a memo to the Commission front office which established for the record that the “official” story was false.  Here, in part, is what Farmer told the front office:

In perhaps no aspect of the 9-11 attacks is the public record, as reflected in both news accounts and testimony before this Commission, so flatly at odds with the truth (emphasis added)…The challenge in relating the history of one of the most chaotic days in our history…is to avoid replicating that chaos in writing about it.

Here, for the record, is how John Farmer referred to the stories in the introduction to his book, The Ground Truth; the Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11.

The account of the nation’s response to the 9/11 attacks set forth in The 9/11 Commission Report is accurate, and true (emphasis added)….In the course of our investigation…the 9/11  Commission staff discovered that the official version (emphasis added) of what had occurred that morning…was almost entirely and inexplicably, untrue.

For the record, therefore,  the “official version” as found by the Commission was “flatly at odds with the truth,” and “was almost entirely and inexplicably, untrue.”  The actual story as established by the 9/11 Commission was “accurate and true.”.

So, how did the Government go so badly astray?

The “Official” Story

It began in the immediate aftermath as FAA and NORAD struggled to come to terms about notification to the military.  NORAD pre-empted the process and unilaterally published its timeline via a press release on September 18, 2001.  That timeline was fatally flawed.

NORAD established a notification time of 0924 EDT for American Airlines flight 77 (AA77).  Staff officers involved in preparing the timeline apparently never listened to tapes.  That initial error became etched in stone in October, 2001, when General Eberhart testified to Senator Levin during an Armed Services Committee Hearing that the time of notification for AA 77 was 0924 EDT.

The government never recovered from that initial error and built a narrative which suggested that key individuals were in place and responsive to the approach of AA 77 to the nation’s capital.  The narrative, as testified to by Norman Mineta, was an hour off.

Key officials were in place for the approach of United Airlines flight 93 (UA93).  However, they were following a notional path in a flight-tracking program based on a new flight plan for UA93 entered by the FAA’s Cleveland Center.  That notional flight “landed” at Reagan National airport at 1028 EDT, according to landing records at the airport, and as noted by a controller at Reagan National who was told at 10:28 that UA 93 was no longer in  the system. 1028 United 93 no longer in the system

Out of those simple facts an “official” story emerged.  That story had the President and the Vice President in communication concerning shootdown authority.  The President was and is convinced he gave that authority prior to the crash of UA93, as he so stated in a National Geographic special prepared for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The “official” story narrative was embellished and elaborated by the Air National Guard and the fighter wing at Andrews Air Force Base.  In that narrative, published as Air War Over America (The Filson book) and perpetuated by Lynn Spencer in Touching Historythe Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) watched UA93 meander (Delta 1989, actually), and NEADS believed it was prepared to take lives in the air to save lives on the ground.  The Andrews pilots believed that they participated in the hunt for UA93.   None of that is accurate.

In the absence of accurate information, participants that day, at all levels, assimilated events in a narrative that made sense to them.  The fact that the narrative, the “official” story, was nonsensical was not established until the Commission did its work and published its report.

If you run across the term “official” story in your research be sure you find the antecedent to the reference.  I suspect I may be preaching to the choir.