National Security Agency during 9/11

NSA nuclear warfare warning system did not warn Bush

related pages:

The NSA admits to having intercepted messages on September 10 that were not translated until after the attacks, which serves a "limited hang out" purpose. This admission suggests no one in the government had foreknowledge, which is not true. It also sidesteps the issue of what NSA was doing during the attacks -- it is likely that the world's most sophisticated intelligence agency was not merely watching the events on television. Perhaps their electronic vacuum cleaners managed to collect communications during the hijackings that would answer questions about the precise roles of the war games in confusing the air defenses and the slow responses of NORAD (the failure to intercept the first three planes), and the role of the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (under the White House) that morning (while Bush read about a pet goat).

DEFSMAC logoJames Bamford's book "The Puzzle Palace" revealed an NSA department called the Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center (DEFSMAC) routinely probes the entire world for indicators that a nuclear war has started, with the goal to place an urgent message in front of the President within less than 10 minutes (called a "Critic" communication). Even if one accepts the official lie that 9/11 was a surprise attack, there is no way to excuse the complete lack of response of the "President" (who read to second graders instead of calling for NORAD to intercept the hijacked planes). While George W. Bush was not the most sophisticated commander-in-chief this nation has ever had, this is irrelevant -- Vice President Cheney, the top leadership of the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies are extremely smart, at least in an IQ sense. The tremendous communication capabilities of many military departments were more than adequate to mount an effective defense of the National Capital Area, especially after the second tower had been hit. There is no excuse this trillion dollar intelligence communication system was not used to get the alleged Commander in Chief back to Air Force One immediately upon hearing the news that "the nation is under attack."

NSA works closely with the National Reconnaissance Office, which runs America's spy satellites. The NRO ran a "plane into building" exercise at its Virginia headquarters (near Dulles) during the attacks -- essentially a "fire drill" that evacuated staff during an extremely crucial moment in world history, the precise moments when the planes went off-course.

A real investigation of 9/11 would declassify these materials:

A serious effort to determine the full truth would have access to all of this evidence. This website has no knowledge of any of this evidence (it is purely an "open source" effort), but it is not a secret that the NSA vacuums up these types of information. It would be surprising if this evidence was still intact in a form that would permit a post-Bush administration to perform a serious examination of the facts.

NSA Insiders Reveal What Went Wrong
January 7, 2014

In a memo to President Obama, former National Security Agency insiders explain how NSA leaders botched intelligence collection and analysis before 9/11, covered up the mistakes, and violated the constitutional rights of the American people, all while wasting billions of dollars and misleading the public.

January 7, 2014


FROM: Former NSA Senior Executives/Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Input for Your Decisions on NSA


Official Washington – from Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein to NSA Director Keith Alexander to former Vice President Dick Cheney to former FBI Director Robert Mueller – has been speaking from the same set of NSA talking points acquired recently via a Freedom of Information request. It is an artful list, much of it designed to mislead. Take this one, for example:


At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 2, Senator Feinstein showed her hand when she said: “I will do everything I can to prevent this [NSA’s bulk] program from being canceled.” Declaring that 9/11 “can never be allowed to happen in the United States of America again,” Feinstein claimed that intelligence officials did not have enough information to prevent the terrorist attacks.

Mr. President, we trust you are aware that the lack-of-enough-intelligence argument is dead wrong. Feinstein’s next dubious premise – that bulk collection is needed to prevent another 9/11 – is unproven and highly unlikely (not to mention its implications for the privacy protections of the Fourth Amendment).

Given the closed circle surrounding you, we are allowing for the possibility that the smell from these rotting red herrings has not yet reached you – even though your own Review Group has found, for example, that NSA’s bulk collection has thwarted exactly zero terrorist plots.

The sadder reality, Mr. President, is that NSA itself had enough information to prevent 9/11, but chose to sit on it rather than share it with the FBI or CIA. We know; we were there. We were witness to the many bureaucratic indignities that made NSA at least as culpable for pre-9/11 failures as are other U.S. intelligence agencies.

We prepared this Memorandum in an effort to ensure that you have a fuller picture as you grapple with what to do about NSA. What follows is just the tip of an iceberg of essential background information – much of it hidden until now – that goes to the core of serious issues now front and center.

The drafting process sparked lively discussion of the relative merits of your Review Group’s recommendations. We have developed very specific comments on those recommendations. We look forward to an opportunity to bring them to your attention.



We write you with a sense of urgency looking toward your upcoming decisions regarding the activities of the National Security Agency. We the undersigned (William Binney, Thomas Drake, Edward Loomis, and Kirk Wiebe) worked with NSA for a total of 144 years, most of them at senior levels. Our mission required the highest technical skills to keep the country safe from foreign enemies, while protecting the privacy rights of U.S. citizens under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

(8:48 a.m.-9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Special NSA Warning Center First Learns from Television that US Is under Attack
Within the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland is a little-known unit called the Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center (DEFSMAC). According to author James Bamford, who is an expert on the NSA, the center's purpose is "to serve as the nation's chief warning bell for a planned attack on America. It serves as the focal point for 'all-source' intelligence—listening posts, early-warning satellites, human agents, and seismic detectors." According to one former NSA official, DEFSMAC "has all the inputs from all the assets, and is a warning activity. They probably have a better feel for any worldwide threat to this country from missiles, aircraft, or overt military activities, better and more timely, at instant fingertip availability, than any group in the United States." If they received indications that an attack was imminent, DEFSMAC officials could "immediately send out near-real-time and in-depth, all-source intelligence alerts to almost 200 'customers,' including the White House Situation Room, the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon, the [Defense Intelligence Agency] Alert Center, and listening posts around the world." Its analysts could be "closely monitoring all intercepts flooding in; examining the latest overhead photography; and analyzing data from early-warning satellites 22,300 miles above the equator. DEFSMAC would then flash the intelligence to the US Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, NORAD at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, and other emergency command centers." But on this morning, as Bamford will conclude, "DEFSMAC learned of the massive airborne attacks after the fact—not from America's multibillion-dollar spy satellites or its worldwide network of advanced listening posts, or its army of human spies, but from a dusty, off-the-shelf TV set." [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 33-35]



from James Bamford, "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency"

Among the most secret organizations in OPS 1 is the Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center (DEFSMAC). At the entrance to Room 1E069 is the organization's seal: an orbiting satellite and a patch of stars above the earth. Even within the intelligence community, DEFSMAC (pronounced "deaf-smack"), a joint project of the NSA and the DIA, remains little known.

Robert McNamara established the organization on April 27, 1964, largely as a result of the ,Cuban missile crisis, in order to evaluate foreign missile activity and threats. "You didn't want NORAD [the North American Air Defense Command] fooling around in technologies that they didn't understand, or trying to evaluate a bunch of raw data, so DEFSMAC was put in," said Lieutenant General Daniel O. Graham, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Since its beginning, the organization has always been headed by an NSA civilian, with a DIA colonel as deputy director.

Today the organization operates as the nation's chief warning bell for the launch of foreign rockets-whether in ballistic missile tests by China or North Korea, or in an attack from a rogue launch site in Russia. The focal point for "all source" intelligence -- listening posts, early warning satellites, human agents, seismic detectors -- on missile launches, DEFSMAC provides the "initial analysis and reporting on all foreign space and missile events."

As other organizations have shrunk with the end of the Cold War, DEFSMAC has more than doubled its size, to more than 230 people, eighty-five of whom staff a new operations center. Where once DEFSMAC had only Russia and China to monitor, its widely dispersed targets now also include India, North Korea, Iran, Israel, and Pakistan.

DEFSMAC watches the earth as a physician listens to a heart, hoping to detect the first irregular beat indicating that a missile is about to be launched. "It has all the inputs from all the assets, and is a warning activity," explained one former NSA official. "They probably have a better feel for any worldwide threat to this country from missiles, aircraft, or overt military activities, better and more timely, at instant fingertip availability, than any group in the United States." According to another former NSA official, "DEFSMAC not only detects them but ... [also has] the capability to relatively immediately determine what kind of a vehicle was launched, what trajectory it's on, and based on all these parameters they can say either it's a threat or it's not a threat." A recent director of DEFSMAC, Chary Izquierdo, referred to her organization as "the [nation's] premier missile and space intelligence producer."

Once DEFSMAC receives a tip-off, an indication that a launch is soon to take place somewhere in the world, a complex chain of events is set in motion. For example, in October 1998 NSA satellites and listening posts, such as those in Germany, picked up indications that Russia was about to test a new missile from its launch site in Plesetsk, in the country's far northwest. Electronic signatures intercepted from Russian instruments being prepared to measure the rocket's telemetry gave one of the first clues that the missile was a Topol-M single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile. Signals intelligence satellites also likely picked up phone conversations between the launch site and Moscow.

Upon receiving such indicators, DEFSMAC officials would immediately have sent out near-real-time and in-depth, all- source intelligence alerts to almost 200 "customers," including the White House Situation Room, the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon, the DIA Alert Center, and all listening posts in the area of the launch site. At the same time, elsewhere within DEFSMAC, analysts would have closely monitored all intercepts flooding in from the area; examined the latest overhead photography; and analyzed data from an early-warning satellite 22,300 miles above the equator. This satellite would have been first to spot the missile's rocket plume and signal back to earth that a launch had occurred.

DEFSMAC would then have flashed the intelligence to one of the specially designed Boeing 707s that on such missions are codenamed Cobra Ball. Fitted with a wide array of receiving equipment, the RC-135 aircraft would immediately have begun eavesdropping on the missile's telemetry as it reentered the atmosphere near its target zone on the Kamchatka peninsula. Through its super-wide windows, Cobra Ball would also have photographed the missile in flight, using high- speed and multispectral photography. Also receiving DEFSMAC intelligence, whenever enough warning time was received, would be the USNS Observation Island, which is packed with antennas and satellite dishes that would monitor and photograph the final stage and splashdown of the missile. Such preparations would have been of little use during the October 1998 test, however. The rocket, of a type that is the centerpiece of Russia's shrinking nuclear shield, exploded shortly after launch. ....

Critical Intelligence reports are of the highest importance, and the CRITIC system is designed to get them to the president in ten minutes or less from the time of an event. When Saddam Hussein pushed into Kuwait in 1990, for example, the first alert came in the form of a CRITIC. ....

Another system bears critically important intelligence from an intercept operator at a listening post in a distant part of the world straight to the president of the United States at breakneck speed. The surprise launch by the Soviet Union of Sputnik in 1957 caused an earthquake within the intelligence community. At the time, it took an average of 8 hours and 35 minutes for a message containing critical intelligence to reach the White House. President Eisenhower demanded that the time be reduced to minutes. At a National Security Council meeting on August 27, 1958, attended by Eisenhower, CIA director Allen Dulles agreed that "there was little purpose in developing critical intelligence overseas unless we had the communications means to insure its rapid transmission to Washington."

A month later, in a meeting in the Oval Office with Eisenhower, Tordella proposed a system known as CRITICOMM. After Tordella outlined the costs and benefits, Eisenhower turned to the deputy secretary of defense and said, "Do it." Within six months NSA was able to reduce transmission time from more than 8 hours to 52 minutes. In another six months the agency was able to have a CRITIC, or critical intelligence message, on Eisenhower's desk within a brief thirteen minutes, regardless of where it had originated. Eventually the time shrunk to between three and five minutes.


[emphasis added - my comment: did the CRITIC system get used on September 11, and why was it not used to get President Bush out of the elementary school and into his ostensible role as Commander in Chief?