On the 9/11 report:
- After a 19-month investigation that laid bare the failures of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pentagon, the National Security Council and virtually every other government agency responsible for defending the nation on that brilliantly sunny September morning in 2001, the 10-member panel offered a detailed proposal for reorganizing the way the country gathers and shares intelligence. “Because of offensive actions against Al Qaeda since 9/11, and defense actions to improve homeland security, we believe we are safer today,” the commission wrote in an executive summary of its long-awaited report, praising in particular the United States invasion that toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan, ending its sanctuary for Al Qaeda. “But we are not safe.” [NY Times]
But while the government failed miserably on 9/11, these citizens did not:
- Federal officials did recover recorders aboard Flight 93, a Boeing 757. The recording of sounds in the jet’s cockpit was played for family members of the victims but has never been made public. The commission report contains a detailed description of that recording.
“The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the passenger assault muffled by the intervening cockpit door,” the report said.
In response, hijacker Ziad Jarrah, believed to have been at the jet’s controls, began to roll the jet to the left and right in an apparent attempt to knock the passengers off balance. At about 9:59 a.m., Jarrah instructed another hijacker in the cockpit to bar the door.
“The recorder captured the sounds of loud thumps, crashes, shouts and breaking glasses and plates,” the report said.
Seconds after 10 a.m., Jarrah asked: “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?” The unidentified second hijacker responded, “No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off.”
Fighting continued outside, the report said. At 10:00:26, a passenger could be heard saying: “In the cockpit. If we don’t we’ll die!” Sixteen seconds later, another passenger yelled, “Roll it!” Some have speculated that passengers attempted to use a beverage cart as a battering ram.
One minute after 10, Jarrah stopped the violent maneuvers and said: “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!” He then asked the other hijacker, “Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?”
“Yes, put it in, and pull it down,” the other hijacker replied.
The report suggests that the passengers never made it inside the cockpit. “The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them,” the report said.
The control wheel was turned hard to the right, and the jet rolled onto its back and headed toward the ground.
The sounds of the passenger attack continued until the crash. [USA Today]
A crash in which no one outside the plane was injured. The actions of the passengers on Flight 93 and the result of that action is a near-perfect metaphor for the war on terror: by aggressively taking the fight to the terrorists we force them to think defensively and thwart their plans. If the passengers of Flight 93 weren’t heroes, I don’t know who is.