Hon. Thomas K. Kean, Chairman
Hon. Lee H. Hamilton, Vice-chairman
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
301 7th Street, SW, Room 5125
Washington, D.C. 20407
Via facsimile: (202) 296-5545
Dear Chairman Kean and Vice-Chairman Hamilton,
Yesterday the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) made public the attached internal email from staff assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). It details the U.S. military's refusal to heed concerns that terrorists might try to strike domestic targets with hijacked airliners. In April 2001, five months before the devastating attacks on New York and Washington, NORAD officials wanted to develop a strategy and simulation to respond to a scenario wherein terrorists commandeer a commercial aircraft and fly it into the Pentagon. As the email reveals, aides to the Joint Chiefs of Staff refused to authorize this type of exercise because these senior military officials deemed such an attack as "too unrealistic."
In light of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the Commission and press reports saying the United States intelligence pipeline offered no insight into how or with what terrorists might strike domestically, we urge the Commission to investigate this matter and ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff why it prohibited NORAD from preparing for what we now know was a very likely, and very deadly terrorist strike.