NORAD ON 9/11….The full Vanity Fair article on the NORAD tapes from 9/11 is here. Here’s an interesting snippet about American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center:

The problem, [Colin] Scoggins told me later, was that American Airlines refused to confirm for several hours that its plane had hit the tower. This lack of confirmation caused uncertainty that would be compounded in a very big way as the attack continued. (Though airlines have their own means of monitoring the location of their planes and communicating with their pilots, they routinely go into information lockdown in a crisis.)

….[Later that morning:] The chase is on for what will turn out to be a phantom plane….”When we phoned United [after the second tower was hit], they confirmed that United 175 was down, and I think they confirmed that within two or three minutes,” Scoggins, the go-to guy at Boston Center for all things military, later told me. “With American Airlines, we could never confirm if it was down or not, so that left doubt in our minds.”

….Over the next quarter-hour, the fact that the fighters have been launched in response to the phantom American 11 ? rather than American 77 or United 93 ? is referred to six more times on Nasypany’s channel alone.

Uncertainty about the fate of American 11 played a big role during the rest of the day. Maybe this is old news and I just haven’t seen it, but can someone tell me why American Airlines declined to cooperate with the United States military over the fate of a hijacked plane? What the hell?

Other news from the tapes: Cheney and Bush didn’t learn about United 93 until about a minute before it crashed. There was never any discussion of shooting it down, as Cheney kinda sorta implied later. However, this doesn’t strike me as something to get too worked up about. Bush did wrestle with the decision about shooting down the hijacked planes, and gave the authority to do so 15 minutes after United 93 crashed. As it turned out, that was the last of the hijackings, but no one knew it at the time and NORAD was in full battle mode. At the time the decision was made it was surely every bit as difficult as Cheney made it out to be.

Oh, and one other thing. Why did the Pentagon release the full NORAD recording from 9/11 to a film producer but not to anyone else? Shouldn’t this have been publicly released long ago if it wasn’t classified?