Newly released 9-11 recordings reveal confusion amid attacks
Published Thursday, September 8, 2011 5:35PM EDT
Newly released audio recordings of air traffic controllers, flight attendants and military officials scrambling to confront the horror of 9-11 have been released by Rutgers Law Review, casting new light on the terrorist attacks of 2001.
The 114 recordings, which cover a little over two hours from the morning of the attacks, have been posted online by The New York Times. They begin with the first indications of a hijacking at 8:13am, through the confusion among air traffic controllers and calls for fighter jets to be deployed over New York City.
The recordings show the confusion that reigned after the hijackers turned off their aircraft transponders, making it difficult for radar to track them.
In one excerpt, unidentified controllers in New York react to the strikes against the World Trade Center shortly after 9:00am.
"Another one just hit the building," says one.
Someone responds: "Oh my God."
And then: "Another one just hit it hard. ... Another one just hit the World Trade."
It's followed by: "The whole building just, ah, came apart" and, from another voice, an understated, "Holy smoke. All right. I guess you guys are going to be busy."
At about the same time, urgent calls start going out to alert the military, one official with the Federal Aviation Administration telling a colleague that the situation is "escalating big, big time, and we need to get the military involved with us. "
"Why, what's going on?" is the response.
"Just get me somebody who has the authority to get military in the air, now," the first official snaps.
Roughly half an hour later, after the first two airliners crashed into the WTC, a military official checks on the situation only to learn then that a third flight, American 77, had been missing for some time. The military had not been informed and, moments later, Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
The audio compilation was made as part of the 9-11 Commission investigation into al Qaeda's attacks, but was not completed before the commission shut down in 2004. Much of the audio and its transcripts have been made public before in hearings, lawsuits and various government reports -- while other recordings remain classified including 30 minutes from the cockpit of Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, and a high-level conference call that included then-U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The dean of the Rutgers Law School, John Farmer, was a lawyer for the 9-11 Commission and published many of the transcripts in his 2009 book, "The Ground Truth."
With files from The Associated Press