Vanity Fair magazine gained access to 30 hours of recordings that further call into question the response of the U.S. Air Force as the 9/11 attacks were unfolding in 2001. Writer Michael Bronner says the tapes were made at an operations room in Rome, N.Y. “The story of what happened in that room, and when, has never been fully told, but is arguably more important in terms of understanding America’s military capabilities that day than anything happening simultaneously on Air Force One or in the Pentagon, the White House, or NORAD’s impregnable headquarters…It’s a story that was intentionally obscured, some members of the 9/11 commission believe, by military higher-ups and members of the Bush administration who spoke to the press, and later the commission itself, in order to downplay the extent of the confusion and miscommunication flying through the ranks of the government.”
Bronner explains, “The recordings have never been played publicly beyond a handful of sound bites presented during the (9/11) commission’s hearings. Last September, as part of my research for the film United 93, on which I was an associate producer, I requested copies from the Pentagon. I was played snippets, but told my chances of hearing the full recordings were nonexistent. So it was a surprise, to say the least, when a military public-affairs officer e-mailed me, a full seven months later, saying she’d been cleared, finally, to provide them.” The web version of the story includes playable excerpts from the tapes.