“Seconds from Disaster: 9/11” looks at the decision making process between authorities in the years and minutes leading up to the airliner attacks targeted at the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and Washington D.C..
Nearly three thousand people died in the attacks and a commission set up to find what led to the events of that day found that decision making across government was overly bureaucratic, preventing those with information from getting it to the most useful contacts.
The CIA failed to pass critical information to the FBI, those in charge of fighter jets close to New York could not get immediate authority to scramble and efforts to communicate between the military and civil aviation authorities were hampered by incompatible equipment. The shock and incomprehension at the methods utilised by the 19 hijackers still reverberates today and it is unclear whether the United States would be prepared for a similarly novel and unprecedented attack in future.
In an upsetting re-enactment of the day, actors are seen boarding flights and killing the pilots. In addition, footage from New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania is replayed. In a theme that will become familiar over the commemorations of ten years since the devastating attack, it may still be too soon to try and judge the events of that day in anything approaching a dispassionate light.
“Seconds from Disaster: 9/11” airs on National Geographic channel in the UK at 9pm on 5th September 2011.