Federal agency planned plane-crashing-into-building drill [on] Sept. 11
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of USA Today/Associated Press
Posted: December 5th, 2006
In what the government describes as a bizarre coincidence, one U.S. intelligence agency was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 in which an errant aircraft would crash into one of its buildings. But the cause wasn't terrorism it was to be a simulated accident. Officials at the Chantilly, Va.-based National Reconnaissance Office had scheduled an exercise that morning in which a small corporate jet would crash into one of the four towers at the agency's headquarters building. The agency is about four miles from the runways of Washington Dulles International Airport. "It was just an incredible coincidence that this happened to involve an aircraft crashing into our facility," [NRO spokesman Art] Haubold said. "As soon as the real world events began, we canceled the exercise." Adding to the coincidence, American Airlines Flight 77 the Boeing 767 that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon took off from Dulles at 8:10 a.m. on Sept. 11, 50 minutes before the exercise was to begin. It struck the Pentagon around 9:40 a.m., killing 64 aboard the plane and 125 on the ground. The National Reconnaissance Office operates many of the nation's spy satellites. It draws its personnel from the military and the CIA. In a promotion for speaker John Fulton, a CIA officer assigned as chief of NRO's strategic gaming division, the announcement says, "On the morning of September 11th 2001, Mr. Fulton and his team ... were running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building."