The September 11, 2001 attack saw the largest failure to protect the civilian population from attack in the nation’s history. This failure is stunning given the awesome capabilities of the nation’s air defense network.
General Richard Myers was acting head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9/11/01. He stated that he went into a meeting after the first tower was hit, and stayed there until just after the Pentagon was hit. Apparently his meeting with Senator Cleland was more important than the ongoing attack on the nation. Two days after the attack, Myers was asked some softball questions by the Senate Armed Services Committee, and promoted to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Ralph Eberhart was in charge of NORAD on 9/11/01. NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center maintains up-to-the-second monitoring of airspace over the entire nation. It would have easily tracked the unfolding attack from 8:20, when Flight 11 went off course, to 10:06, when Flight 93 crashed. Instead of dispatching interceptors from bases near the targets, or calling for intercepts from multiple bases, it chose a few far-away bases. Eberhart was promoted to head the new “Northern Command” established in October of 2002.