On September 11, 2001, IWP Professor Gene Poteat was one of the first people interviewed by the Associated Press after the tragedy in New York. Prof. Poteat recalls:
I received the call from Associated Press seconds after the first plane hit the first tower in New York. The caller asked if my TV was on. I put my coffee cup down and turned around to view my TV, which was on, though I seldom watch. I watched as the second airplane struck the second tower. The caller asked what kind of strange accident had just occurred. I answered that it was not an accident, since there were two planes, and the weather was perfectly clear. I added that it had to be a terrorist attack. The AP put my comments on their wire even before the third plane struck the Pentagon and another went down in Pennsylvania.
Below is the text of the AP article.
Terrorists Must Have Had Own Pilots
The Associated Press
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001; 1:05 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK -- The terrorists who apparently hijacked four planes and attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon could only have succeeded by using their own trained pilots in a scheme that defied all scenarios envisioned by national security officials, terrorism experts said.
"They flew the planes themselves," Gene Poteat, president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, said Tuesday.
"No pilot, even with a gun to his head, is going to fly into the World Towers," he said.
The hijackers used the airplanes as weapons, Poteat said, adding that they may also have had the ability to disable communications systems used to alert authorities to trouble.
"This has been an enormously long-planned and obviously carefully planned operation," Poteat said.
That massive planning effort was far beyond anything conceived by counterterrorism officials, who have focused on preventing individual attacks, said Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project, a research group focused on international terrorism.
"No one thought there was a capability of doing simultaneous attacks so none of the counterterrorism scenarios ever envisioned this," Emerson said.
Authorities have examined the chances of individual attacks on high-profile targets such as the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, including an attack on a large building using a commandeered plane, he said.
But most research examining the potential for attacks causing devastating loss of life has focused on chemical or biological means, he said.
"To the extent we know now, this is relatively low technology," Emerson said.
© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press