Amalgam Virgo
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The story...

The exercise Amalgam Virgo may have been a significant factor in the success of the 9-11 attacks.

Our take...

We'll examine this case as it's portrayed in "The Military Drills on 9-11: "Bizarre Coincidence" or Something Else?", by Four Arrows (aka Don Jacobs).

9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste also expressed the significance of this matter, even if indirectly, in his questioning of Col. Alan Scott and General Craig McKinley about the one of these terror drills, ‘‘Amalgam Virgo.’’ The following exchange can be watched in an actual on-line video segment:

Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner: Isn’t it a fact, Sir, that prior to September 11th, 2001, NORAD had already in the works, plans to simulate in an exercise, a simultaneous hijacking of two planes in the United States?

Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley: Col. Scott, do you have any data on that? I’m not aware of that, Sir. I was not present at the time.

Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner: That was operation Amalgam Virgo.

Col. Alan Scott: Yes, Sir. Specifically, operation Amalgam Virgo, which I was involved in before I retired...5

Ben-Veniste’s official position is only that NORAD should have been more prepared for such an event since they had this particular drill just in June 2001. However, the fact that his bringing up this issue or the fact that Amalgam Virgo was not mentioned in the final 9/11 Commission Report should give pause. Why was an exercise, so similar to actual 9/11 events, not given more attention? Perhaps Amalgam Virgo was continuing during 9/11? This is the position of Nico Haupt of Global Free Press.6
"The Military Drills on 9-11: "Bizarre Coincidence" or Something Else?"

Read this closely and it seems confusing. Ben-Veniste's question talks of Amalgam Virgo being "in the works" only, but then Jacobs follows up by telling us that they "had this particular drill just in June 2001". And it gets worse.

In his highly regarded book, 9/11: Synthetic Terror: Made in the U.S., Webster Tarpley (1992) discusses the significance war games may have had on 9/11. In one section he refers to an exercise called ‘‘Amalgam Virgo.’’ This exercise is a U.S.–Canadian multi-agency, bilateral air security exercise sponsored by NORAD. Now an annual event, it made its debut on the morning of 9/11. (In spite of the fact that information about the war games has been classified, the fact that 9/11 was the premier of Amalgam Virgo was announced by the U.S. Department of Defense ‘‘Armed Forces Information Services’’ a year later in announcing its ‘‘second annual’’ exercise.28 Marine Corps Major, Mike Snyder, called the day-long exercise in 2002 a great success.29)
"The Military Drills on 9-11: "Bizarre Coincidence" or Something Else?"

Now Amalgam Virgo "made its debut on the morning of 9/11", the third time frame for the exercise. Can Jacob's reference back up what he says? No. Here’s the complete story: see for yourself.

NORAD-Sponsored Exercise Prepares For Worst-Case Scenarios
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2002 -- The first part of today's multiagency, bilateral air security exercise sponsored by the North American Aerospace Defense Command is already a "go."

"So many agencies have met numerous times and have worked out issues, the first part of the exercise is a big success," NORAD spokesman Marine Corps Maj. Mike Snyder said today of the day-long "Amalgam Virgo 02" exercise.

This is the second year the U.S.-Canada exercise has been held, Snyder noted. NORAD headquarters, at Colorado Springs, Colo., is responsible for air and space warning and aerospace control for the continental United States, Canada and Alaska.

The exercises, Snyder said, focus on possible threats in U.S.-Canadian skies in today's post-Cold War world. The purpose of the exercises is to improve preparedness and interagency coordination for a variety of airborne threats and contingencies, he added.

This year's exercise is a commercial airliner-hijacking scenario -- planned before the Sept. 11 attacks, Snyder said. Last year's exercise, he said, was a scenario involving a cruise missile launched by "a rogue (government) or somebody" from a barge off the East Coast.

Future scenarios include air piracy and drug interdiction - - "anything else that might pop up," Snyder remarked. "We're planning for the worst-case scenario that was previously unimaginable" before the terrorist-hijacked airliner attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

This year's hijacking scenario is not a prediction of possible events, Snyder emphasized. About 1,500 people are taking part, including the FBI, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Transport Canada, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Vancouver Airport Authority, and Delta Airlines.

Snyder said a Delta plane from Utah and a Navy C-9 from Washington State are among aircraft being used in the exercise. "Hijackers" and "law enforcement role players" are part of the scenario, he added. The Delta plane will fly to Alaska's Elmendorf Air Force Base, he noted, and the Navy C-9 will travel to Vancouver, Canada.

The exercise "does not critique security efforts on the ground," Snyder emphasized. "We are just trying to do our job in case something unforetold happens."

NORAD's expert pilots -- including active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve fliers -- have conducted "hundreds of real-world scenarios since 9-11," Snyder said.

NORAD must be notified by the FAA or other federal agencies to investigate airborne security situations, he said.

"We're the force of last resort. We don't play a first- responder role," he explained. "If we have to be used, that means something went wrong somewhere else."

Since Sept. 11, NORAD has had more than 300 domestic aviation 'events' involving a mix of small and larger commercial aircraft, Snyder said. NORAD typically scrambles aircraft at the request of the FAA, which has people at NORAD and at the organization's Cheyenne Mountain operations center, also in Colorado Springs. Scrambles -- launches -- take just minutes, he noted.

Snyder said NORAD hopes potential air threats can be "intercepted on the ground before becoming a bigger issue."

"If something is questionable in the air," Snyder said, "NORAD critiques and evaluates the threat using a graduated response." That process starts with identifying the aircraft, he added. The worst case is a shootdown.

FEMA and the FBI are also involved in any real-life situation involving hijacked airliners. They also have a role in consequence management on the ground "as we saw during 9-11, unfortunately," Snyder noted.

Regarding future NORAD involvement in hijackings of commercial airliners and other types of aircraft, Snyder noted: "Well-established rules of engagement were in place before 9-11." Those rules, he added, have been modified since to clarify new potential threats and situations.

"Truly, it's a difficult situation; time is of the essence," he said of aircraft hijackings. "The more time we have … the better."

Snyder said the time clock starts at the airlines' crisis operation centers. "Somebody has to decide if a plane has been hijacked and what the hijackers' intentions are," he concluded.

Absolutely nothing here to confirm that Amalgam Virgo was running on 9/11. Further, this explains that the Amalgam Virgo didn't happen until June 2002; the preceding version was "a scenario involving a cruise missile". And other links confirm that was the exercise held in June 2001, as Jacobs himself mentioned earlier:

Exercise Amalgam Virgo took place June 1-2, 2001. The goal of the exercise was to increase the capability to detect, track, and intercept CM and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) threats, using forces under NORAD Control. All simulated CM and UAV launches occurred June 2, 2001. Overall, eight MQM-107 drone CM surrogates were launched during the exercise and four BD-5 (UAV surrogate) sorties were flown. Simulated engagements occurred against all drone and BD-5 sorties. JCMD participation included continuing data collection and risk-reduction efforts for the FT-1/JCIET activity as well as the observation of JIADS system performance.

The fact that the exercise was in the planning stage on 9/11 can be used as evidence that someone, at least, was thinking about terrorist hijackings (though note there’s no suggestion that these hijackings involved using planes as missiles). However, Jacobs presents no evidence at all to show that either exercise could possibly have been running on 9/11, or had any influence on the events of that day.

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