Alec Baldwin Asks "What is Amalgam Virgo?"
Actor Alec Baldwin, considering a run for mayor of New York City, recently caused a stir by tweeting a number of questions about 9/11, including “Do you think Bin Laden was behind 9/11”? New York Magazine reported that Baldwin said his tweets were “absolutely not casting doubt on the issue of Osama Bin Laden’s role in 9/11.” The following day he posted to twitter: “As the 10th anniversary of the attacks approaches, I am keenly interested in what public opinion is re the aftermath of 9/11.”
Baldwin also tweeted “What is Amalgam Virgo?”
For those unfamiliar with the Amalgam Virgo wargame, here are two relevant entries from History Commons:
June 1-2, 2001: Military Conducts Exercises Based on Scenario in which Cruise Missiles Are Launched against US
Osama bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the Amalgam Virgo exercise.Osama bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the Amalgam Virgo exercise. [Source: NORAD]The US military conducts Amalgam Virgo 01, a multi-agency live-fly homeland security exercise sponsored by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and involving the hypothetical scenario of a cruise missile being launched by “a rogue [government] or somebody” from a barge off the East Coast. Osama bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the proposal for the exercise. [American Forces Press Service, 6/4/2002; Arkin, 2005, pp. 253; GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/27/2005] The exercise takes place at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Drones simulating cruise missiles are launched from Tyndall, head out to sea, circle a ship as if they are being launched from there, and then head back to land. Air Force F-16s, Navy gunners, and Army missile defense units attempt to find and track the drones. The Coast Guard attempts to catch the ship serving as the dummy launch site. [Tampa Tribune, 6/3/2001] Another scenario in the exercise involves a suicide mission in which a Haitian man with AIDS attempts to deliberately crash a small private plane into NORAD’s Southeast Air Defense Sector (SEADS) at Tyndall AFB. [US Air Force, 2001] The next Amalgam Virgo exercise, scheduled to take place in 2002, will involve two simultaneous commercial aircraft hijackings. Planning for that exercise will begin in July 2001 (see July 2001).
July 2001: NORAD Plans a Mock Simultaneous Hijacking Threat From Inside the US
NORAD is already planning for the Amalgam Virgo 02 exercise. This exercise, scheduled for June 2002, will involve the simulation of two simultaneous commercial aircraft hijackings. One plane, a Delta 757, flown by Delta pilots, will fly from Salt Lake City, Utah to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. It will be “hijacked” by FBI agents posing as terrorists. The other plane will be a Navy C-9 bound from Oak Harbor, Washington to Vancouver, British Columbia, and will be “hijacked” by Royal Canadian Mounted Police. On both planes, military personnel will act as civilian passengers. US and Canadian fighters are to respond, and either force the planes to land or simulate shooting them down. Describing Amalgam Virgo 02 to the 9/11 Commission, NORAD’s Major General Craig McKinley later says, “Threats of killing hostages or crashing were left to the script writers to invoke creativity and broaden the required response for players.” About 1,500 people will participate in the exercise. USA Today will note that this is an exception to NORAD’s claim that, prior to 9/11, it focused only on external threats to the US and did not consider the possibility of threats arising from within the US. 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste will similarly comment that this planned exercise shows that, despite frequent comments to the contrary, the military considered simultaneous hijackings before 9/11.
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