Sunday, December 14, 2008

John Farmer's failed analysis of the NORAD tapes

- this critique has been published half a year ago on the website For actual reasons - John Farmer has publicly ceased 9/11 research and shut down his website - it is reposted here.

John Farmer is a Pentagon researcher and firmly believes that Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. He has recently analyzed the NORAD tapes

and arrives at the conclusion that air traffic controllers from Washington tracked Flight 77 on its way back to Washington, but failed to inform NEADS about it. However, the NORAD tapes are the best proof so far that Flight 77 did not fly back to Washington - a FAA manager stresses that several Air Traffic Control Centers were looking for it, but couldn't find any radar blip.

Unlike the 9/11 Commission and Michael Bronner/Vanity Fair, Farmer doesn't omit messages from the NORAD tapes. His transcript is fairly accurate. But he distorts the messages and misinterpretates them, and his "conclusions" are rash and unfounded (Farmer's comments in italic, mine in plain writing):


Boston Military (Scoggins) is the only source of information that NEADS has for the approach of AAL77.

Wrong in multiple ways. At the same time Scoggins provides NEADS with information about a suspicious plane, a NEADS technician reports another "aircraft six miles east of the White House". The message is echoed through several channels, including MCC Kevin Nasypany's one. It is clear that the NEADS crew track this plane directly on their radar screens, completely independent from Scoggins. They assign a tag number to it - 0032 - and watch as it turns into "MCA" (military controlled airspace=restricted area) and finally fades at 9:38.

These two planes - let's call it the "Scoggins plane" and the "Nasypany plane" are clearly not identical. They are reported on different channels with different positions for a fixed time: 6 miles southwest of the White House (Scoggins) vs. 8 miles east of the White House (Nasypany). The Nasypany plane has its transponder off, turns into restricted area and fades at 9:38, fulfilling essential conditions for being "Flight 77"/the decoy jet.

As opposed to that, the Scoggins plane is reported 6 miles southwest of the White House at 9:36:15 and still deviating away (i.e. flying west), making it virtually impossible to be over the Pentagon at 9:38.

He is making it a point to pass on information that he is overhearing in the Boston ARTCC. His initial report (13:20:56) of an aircraft headed towards Washington is second-hand information and mistakes the identification as AAL11. This may have caused momentary confusion but none-the-less established that a 3rd hijacked aircraft was headed towards the DC area. The only significant problem this caused for the MCC is that he scrambled the Langley fighters to Baltimore-Washington International (north of DC) in anticipation of an approach from the north.

Scoggins gives a position for this phantom flight 11: "somewhere over New Jersey or further south." That's exactly the reason why Nasypany sent his fighters to the Baltimore area. Farmer seems to insinuate that Scoggins reports the eastbound Flight 77, but at this time Flight 77 was (according to the official story, which Farmer sticks to!) somewhere over the Appalaches in West Virginia, far away from New Jersey or Baltimore.

At 13:24:02 Boston Military calls back and gives the position of the approaching aircraft as "southwest" of Washington, but has no specific coordinates for it. This is exactly what the 84 RADES radar shows at that time. This confirms that Washington ARTCC was tracking AAL77’s primary return although Scoggins was still under the impression that it was being identified as AAL11.

Wrong. Scoggins reports phantom Flight 11 "southwest", but not "southwest of Washington". He gives no reference point, making the remark practically worthless. Did he mean "southwest of New York" or "he's heading southwest"? Our fears that Farmer wants to use the messages on phantom flight 11 improperly as evidence that Flight 77 was tracked by controllers on its way back to Washington are validated. Even the official story has Flight 77's position at 13:24 not southwest, but straight west of Washington.

Here's Scoggins' message:
"We did hear from Washington, there is an aircraft, they believe it is American 11 and he is southwest, only just don’t have a point…"

For reasons unknown, the Washington ARTCC was NOT sharing this information with NEADS after multiple phone calls by them to get more information. This includes a call (13:33:58) with the Washington ARTCC Operations Manager who does identify the 3rd missing plane as AAL77, but makes no mention of the primary track headed straight for the Washington, DC area. After AAL77 impacts the Pentagon, the Washington ARTCC is still (13:38:32) denying that they are tracking anything headed towards the Washington area and calls it a "rumor."

Hard to believe, but Scoggins' mistakable "southwest" remark is enough proof for Farmer that Washington ARTCC tracked Flight 77, but failed to share this information with NEADS for "unknown reasons". However, the manager of Washington ARTCC states very clearly that Washington and the surrounding ARTCC's desperately tried to pick up primary targets who possibly could have been the missing Flight 77. The manager not only "makes no mention of the primary radar track headed straight for Washington DC" (Farmer) - he explicitly says that there was no such primary radar track!

Here's what the manager of Washington ARTCC said:

"so what we have done at the surrounding centers here is tell everyone to look out for limited codes, primary targets, or whatever the case may be. And that was the last time, that was about fifteen minutes ago since I talked to the Indianapolis Center Operations Manager."

It is well documented in media accounts that the Dulles TRACON was watching the final approach of AAL77. Further, GOPHER 6 (the infamous C-130) was diverted by the Andrews TRACON to intercept and identify the approaching plane. It has been argued that these were the first indications that the Washington ARTCC had of the plane.

However, Boston Military indicates they were watching it very early on when it was southwest of the area and recognized it as a threat. This minor detail, if Washington ARTCC had been forthcoming with NEADS would have resulted in the MCC scrambling Langley to intercept a plane coming from the west, not the north.

The next significant issue is why the Langley fighters were handed off by the Langley TRACON to Giant Killer instead of the Washington ARTCC. Giant Killer followed the SOP for airspace under its control and sent the fighters out over the Atlantic. NEADS was very specific in where to send the fighters which would have required a hand off to the Washington ARTCC, and it is not clear at this point why that did not happen. Once the error has been noted and corrected by NEADS, it is at least three minutes before the planes are turned to the north and then only after NEADS takes direct control from Giant Killer. At 13:49:26 Washington ARTCC calls NEADS wanting to know what the planes are entering their airspace (squawking 7777). So undoubtedly, something has gone very wrong with the handoff by Giant Killer to Washington ARTCC. What many have not understood (including myself until recently) is that the Andrews and Langley TRACON’s are all under the Washington ARTCC control.

In the quest to learn what went wrong, what went right is often overlooked. From the NORAD tapes and 84 RADES radar data, it is clear that what went right was NEADS. They responded professionally and rapidly to a very unique and dangerous situation with minimal resources and information.
For some reason, Washington ARTCC did not keep NEADS in the loop on what it knew about the approach of AAL77 and the Langley TRACON mishandled the scramble of the Langley fighters, both of which are civilian components of the FAA. Why this happened is an avenue ripe for further research.

Again: There is no reason at all to believe that Washington ARTCC did withhold any information to NEADS about a primary radar track heading for Washington. It's amazing how Farmer uses one single meaningless word - "southwest" - to accuse FAA controllers and officials of failing to do their job in an extreme emergency situation - "for some reason".

Here's a better and simpler explanation: Flight 77's radar track was not reported to NEADS because Washington controllers didn't spot any primary target. And they didn't spot it because Flight 77 was not there. So simple.