Sept. 11 panel suspected Pentagon lied

Aug. 2, 2006 at 9:49 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- New allegations that the Pentagon misled the public about its reaction to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are emerging from the Sept. 11 commission.

Although disbanded for two years, commission members are still stirring controversy, including Thomas Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the commission.

"We to this day don't know why NORAD (the North American Aerospace Command) told us what they told us," Kean said.

Until 2003, officials with NORAD and the Federal Aviation Administration claimed U.S. air defenses had reacted quickly, that jets had been scrambled in response to the last two hijackings and that fighters were prepared to shoot down United Airlines Flight 93 if it threatened Washington. Two military officers told the commission NORAD had begun tracking United 93 at 9:16 a.m., but the commission determined the airliner was not hijacked until 12 minutes later, and determined the military was not aware of the flight until after it had crashed in Pennsylvania.

A Pentagon spokesman told The Washington Post the inspector general's office will soon release a report addressing whether testimony delivered to the commission was "knowingly false."

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