April 13, 2006


At Trial, Flight 93 Myth Finally Becomes Reality (Jerry Markon and Timothy Dwyer, 4/13/06, Washington Post)

[T]he terrorists would not strike their target that day because they were beaten -- as the voice recorder made clear -- by the passengers, who fought back. The 32-minute tape recounts an epic struggle as passengers surged forward to retake the plane using whatever low-tech weapons they could find.

"Let's get them!" one passenger yelled as dishes crashed to the floor. "In the cockpit. If we don't we'll die," screamed another amid more thumping and crashing and breaking of glass.

Yesterday, the myth of Flight 93 became real. The 33 passengers and seven crew members have been lionized in book and film for their struggle to retake the doomed jet, one of four planes hijacked during the deadliest terrorist strike in U.S. history. Until now, the recording that documented their courage had been played only for federal investigators and a limited number of relatives of those aboard.

But in court, Americans were taken inside a hijacking drama that saw in a space of time shorter than the average Washington commute terrorists seize a cockpit by brutal force, repulse an initial attack by passengers and then crash a jetliner in a Pennsylvania field as their captives, throwing plates or anything else at their disposal, thwarted their plans.

Much of the tape is unintelligible. There was loud static, and the voices, some speaking English and others Arabic, were often inaudible. It cannot be determined whether the passengers entered the cockpit, although it is certain they came close and forced the hijackers to abandon their attack on Washington.

The recording made clear that a group of men and women, who knew the World Trade Center had been attacked, recognized that this was no conventional hijacking -- these terrorists were crashing planes into buildings -- and resolved to take control of their fate.

"There is absolutely no doubt that through their heroic actions still more carnage and catastrophe was prevented," said Richard Ben-Veniste, a member of the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks. The commission concluded that the passengers of Flight 93 stopped an attack that was aimed at Washington, most likely the Capitol or White House.

The hijackers, as shown on a computer simulation played on monitors throughout the courtroom, jerked the plane violently to the left and right during the struggle. They tried to cut off the oxygen as passengers banged on the cockpit door. In the end, as the passengers were either in the cockpit or moments from entering it, the hijackers turned the plane upside down -- and crashed it.

"Allah is the greatest!" one screamed nine times as the plane went down. The recording then went dead. The courtroom was silent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 13, 2006 7:20 AM

Curious if anyone is going to see United 93? I am inclined to do so and I go to very few movies. The trailer is a real punch in the gut. Never forget.

Posted by: Rick T. at April 13, 2006 10:30 AM

A tape that has the emotional power to keep Richard Ben-Veniste non-partisan is daming evidence indeed.

Posted by: John at April 13, 2006 10:39 AM

Rick: I almost posted the same question earlier. I don't know yet. Just this written account made me pretty darn sad.

Posted by: Bob at April 13, 2006 11:18 AM

How long until some lefty claims that this tape was played as a gov't plot to boost attention for the Flight 93 movie and thereby stir up jingoistic sentiment among the masses?

I go to very few movies. Flight 93 really, really needs to be a big hit (assuming they play the story straight, and don't try to sneak in any anti-Bush nonsense). Not that it will change Hollywood any more than The Passion did, but it's still Important.

Posted by: b at April 13, 2006 12:12 PM

I suspect this will not be one of those movies you "enjoy." I intend to go anyway.

Interesting to note that on the Rotten Tomatoes page for this film, the conspiracy theorists and antiwar crowd (but I repeat myself) are monopolizing the discussion boards with claims that Flight 93 was shot down as part of the evil plot by the Zionists/corporations/Bushitler/Trilateral Commission/Pinky & the Brain/Vatican/Oil Industry to rule the world. I find it fascinating that the Angry Left feels such an overwhelming, all-consuming need to deny the heroism of the crew and passengers of Flight 93.

Posted by: Mike Morley at April 13, 2006 12:19 PM

I just added "United 93" to my Netflix queue. There's practically zero chance it will be shown with a 50 mile radius of here, I also added "The Great Raid" which was not shown locally either.

Posted by: erp at April 14, 2006 10:16 AM