Slip of the tongue regarding a Missile hitting the Pentagon?
Former deputy attorney general Jamie S. Gorelick referred to the object heading towards the Pentagon on 9/11 as a “missile” when questioning Donald Rumsfeld at the 9/11 Commission hearings.
(…) Ms. GORELICK (member of the 9/11 Commission): (…) So now I would like to talk about the items that — the aspects that were in your control. I had a conversation with Secretary Wolfowitz’s — one of his predecessors when the 1996 Olympics were being planned about what do we do when aircraft, an aircraft is being hijacked and is flying into a stadium at the Olympics. What is the military’s response? What is its role? And it has always been my assumption that even though, yes, you were looking out, that you have a responsibility to protect our airspace. So my question is, in this summer of threat, what did you do to protect, let’s just say, the Pentagon from attack? Where were our aircraft when they — when a missile is heading toward the Pentagon? Surely that is in — within the Pentagon’s responsibility, to protect — force protection, to protect our facilities, to protect something — our headquarters, the Pentagon. Is there anything that we did to — at the Pentagon to prevent that harm in the summer, spring and summer of ’01?
SEC. RUMSFELD: First, let me respond as to what the responsibility of the Department of Defense has been with a hijacking.
I said, it was a law enforcement issue. And the Department of Defense has had various understandings with FAA whereby when someone squawks hijack they h ave an arrangement with the Department of Defense that the military would send an airplane up and monitor the flight, but certainly did not have — in a hijack situation did not have authority to shoot down a plane that was being hijacked. The purpose of a hijack is to take the plane from one place to another place where it wasn’t intended to be going, not to fly into the building.[Note that this answer is not related to the question]
Second, with respect to the defense of the Pentagon, you’re quite right. The force protection responsibilities do fall on the military. And just to put it right up on the table, we’re in the flight pattern for National Airport. There’s a plane that goes by, you know, how many yards from my window 50 times a day. I don’t know how far it is, but anyone who’s been in that office has heard it roar right by the window. There isn’t any way to deal with that at all. And force protection tends to be force protection from the ground. [So, we are to believe that the Pentagon cannot defend itself against a plane or a missile attack]
Dick, do you want to comment?
GEN. MYERS: I would just say that since the Cold War, the focus of North American Aerospace Defense Command was outward, was not inward. The hijacking agreement with the FAA was as the secretary described it. It would be a call and a response to the hijack, but certainly not with the thought of shooting it down. It was to monitor — try to get it to follow instructions and then follow it to its ultimate destination, if we could. [This is both a lie and a misrepresentation, as has been demonstrated elsewhere]
[Note that neither Rumsfeld nor Myers corrected Ms. Gorelick regarding the “missile” statement. They clearly did not want to draw attention to it]