Communication during the September 11 attacks

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Communication problems and successes played an important role in the September 11, 2001 attacks and their aftermath.

Contents

Attackers

The organizers of the September 11, 2001 attacks apparently planned and coordinated their mission in face to face meetings and used little or no electronic communication. This "radio silence" made their plan more difficult to detect.[citation needed]

Federal government

According to 9/11 Commission staff statement No. 17 [1] there were several communications failures at the federal government level during and after the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps the most serious occurred in an "Air Threat Conference Call" initiated by the National Military Command Center (NMCC) after two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, but shortly before The Pentagon was hit. The participants were unable to include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control command center, which had the most information about the hijackings, in the call.

According to the staff report:

We found no evidence that, at this critical time, during the morning of September 11, NORAD’s top commanders, in Florida or Cheyenne Mountain, ever coordinated with their counterparts at FAA headquarters to improve situational awareness and organize a common response. Lower-level officials improvised—the FAA’s Boston Center bypassing the chain of command to contact NEADS. But the highest level Defense Department officials relied on the NMCC’s Air Threat Conference, in which FAA did not meaningfully participate.

First responders

After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, radio repeaters for New York City Fire Department communication were installed in the tower complex. Because they were unaware that several controls needed to be operated to fully activate the repeater system, fire chiefs at their command post in the lobby of the North Tower thought the repeater was not functioning and did not use it, though it did work and was used by some firefighters. [2] When police officials concluded the twin towers were in danger of collapsing and ordered police to leave the complex, fire officials were not notified[citation needed]. Fire officials on the scene were not monitoring broadcast news reports and did not immediately understand what had happened when the first (South) tower did collapse[citation needed].

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