Stephen M. Silverman
September 16, 2001 10:46 AM

Top U.S. defense officials were unaware that a hijacked passenger plane was hurtling toward the Pentagon on Tuesday, despite a Federal Aviation Administration alert to the nation’s military air defense command, The Washington Post said on Sunday. The Post, citing defense officials and a Pentagon chronology of the attack, said the FAA alerted the U.S. military air defense command that the airliner was heading toward the Pentagon 12 minutes before it struck. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his top aides were unaware of imminent danger until the fuel-laden plane hit the building, 35 minutes after two commercial planes plowed into the World Trade Center in New York. Pentagon authorities responsible for guarding the building also received no alert and so did not order an evacuation, the paper said. Admiral Craig Quigley, from the Department of Defense, told NBC News on Sunday morning in response to the Post report, “I think hindsight is a wonderful thing.” Quigley went on to say that once the tragedy occurred at the Pentagon, emergency measures went into effect, efficiently and immediately.

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