Chicago Boyz: The only part of the American national security establishment that successfully defended America on 9/11 was the portion of the reserve militia on board Flight 93, acting without orders, without hierarchy, without uniforms or weapons, by spontaneous organization and action.
When you come right down to it, the 9/11 hijacked airliner attacks which killed more than 3000 people, which destroyed billions of dollars worth of property, and which inflicted trillions of dollars in economic costs on the United States were only possible as the result of the policies chosen and inculcated by American officialdom. If one or more madmen, armed or merely claiming to be armed, attempt to take control of a passenger jet, ordinary travelers (who had been already disarmed by their own authorities) were firmly instructed to do nothing, be passive, obey the orders of the hijackers, and wait for the authorities to deal with the situation. In most cases, following those instructions proved safe enough. Planes were diverted to Libya or Havana. Ransoms were paid. In the end, passengers and crews were usually released unharmed. The occasional exceptions, like the case of TWA Flight 847 in 1985 in which members of the Hezbollah hijacking team tortured and murdered a US Navy diver who had been traveling on that flight, failed to impact the official policy.
So when September 11, 2001 rolled around, unarmed passengers and crew members in the planes (American Flight 11 and United Flight 175) which hit the WTC towers were simply followed the usual conventional instructions and passively submitting to the will of five hijackers in each case armed with boxcutters and multi-tool pliers. Passengers aboard American Flight 77 which struck the Pentagon had learned of the fate of the two previous hijacked planes and began organizing to resist too late, but passengers and crew on board Flight 93 did understand in time and did resist, saving either the US Capitol or the White House from destruction and saving many other American lives while losing their own.
No similar hijacking attacks have occurred, and even terrorist attempts to ignite explosives concealed in shoes and underwear were since foiled by alert passengers. What has changed is that officialdom’s policy of passivity and surrender became a dead letter after 9/11, and terrorists know that passengers and crew will fight hijackers to the death. Government and the TSA did not stop airline hijackings. Flight 93 ended airline hijacking as a useable strategy.
Bill Clinton eulogized the heroes of Flight 93 yesterday, comparing their actions to the Alamo and Thermopylae.