Pentagon Missile Batteries
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The story...

It is... impossible that a Boeing 757 could enter the Pentagon's air space without being destroyed by one or more of the five missile batteries protecting the building.

The Pentagon is ringed by anti-missile [sic] batteries which are programmed to destroy any aircraft entering the Pentagons airspace except for any aircraft with a US military transponder.

Our take...

We believe Thierry Meyssan may have been the first to write about these missile batteries, and others have reproduced the claims. 

Our first problem with this idea is that we've never, ever, at any point seen a reference to show that these missile batteries exist. Why no photos, no stories about them? Plainly they wouldn’t want to give away some details, but it makes little sense to keep them entirely secret, because surely the whole point of such batteries would be to act as a deterrent?

Second, if they did exist then wouldn’t you have expected Pentagon employees to also have raised this question? Or are we supposed to believe they’re all “in on it”, even those whose friends were killed in the attack?

After raising this point there has been a claim that the existence of these missile systems have been confirmed by April Gallop:

Me: Do you have any theory about how a Boeing 757 could have hit such a secure building without any anti-aircraft defenses being activated or any warning alarms sounded?

AG: I have thought about this very question numerous times. And then I realized I needed to rephrase the question. The real question is what is the probability or likelihood that no anti-aircraft defense, warning alarms or additional security mechanism functioned on that particular day?

And then we need to think how likely is it then there was a glitch in all the security mechanisms, anti-aircraft defense and warning alarms?

You know, it takes a while to get around that building. And I remember being so disgusted at the frequency of random drill exercises taking place for us to evacuate the building. It seemed as if they always happened when I had to take care of certain things.

Yet on September 11th, the day when our lives were threatened, not one alarm.

Me: I would imagine that security procedures are different now than they were prior to 9/11, so I don't think you would be revealing any confidential information by answering this question. I have heard that, as of 9/11, the anti-aircraft batteries were automated, in other words, that they would have automatically fired against any incoming aircraft that did not transmit the appropriate friend or foe signal. Is that true?

AG: Yes that is true. They are either to attempt to guide the incoming aircraft that has violated the airspace to a safe location to land. Making reasonable effort to guide it down. Or shoot it down.

However, in the last part Gallop appears to be talking about using fighters, not missiles, which won’t “guide” the incoming aircraft anywhere. And she’s not confirming an automatic shoot-down of anything that “violated the airspace”, which is probably just as well.

Why? Third, the Pentagon is located very close to the approach for Washingtons Ronald Reagan airport, as you can see in these photos. Note the arrowed runway in the background of the first shot. 

Pentagn Approach

Pentagon Approach 2

Pentagon Flight Path

And here’s a shot from Google Earth, where we’ve extended a line from that runway to show how close it takes you to the Pentagon. Which suggests to us it’s passed by planes on a regular basis, every day. Planes that don’t have military transponders, either, a problem for Griffins’ claim.

A further complication is that, even post 9/11, planes frequently violate the Washington no-fly zone. And yet none of them have been shot down.

More than 2,000 aircraft "of interest" have been detected over Washington airspace since January 2003, Beardsworth said. The number of aircraft violating the no-fly zone fell from 164 in the six months before Jan. 20, 2003, to 30 after that date through May, 14, 2004.

Fourth, even the fallback position of manually operated batteries wouldn't really help. Because at what point would you make the shootdown decision? At an average of 400 mph, any plane approaching the Pentagon would cover the final mile in around 9 seconds. A plane could divert from a normal approach path to the airport in an even shorter period, a major problem because it takes time for missiles to launch, detect and move in on an attacker. If you can’t launch before the target is inside your minimum range (which could be half a mile or more) then you have no chance of hitting it.

And fifth, the Pentagon did use armed missile batteries in Washington during September 2002, and reports at the time made it clear that this was an exceptional event.

Pentagon arms missile batteries around D.C.

For the first time since the Cuban missile crisis almost 40 years ago, armed missile launchers will be protecting the nation's capital by day's end Tuesday -- a precaution that comes amid a heightened alert status on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

No mention of any earlier Pentagon missile batteries here. Some confirmation comes in Richard Clarke’s “Against All Enemies”, where he says plans for air defence were rejected (the dates of these events aren’t made precisely clear, but the account comes from a chapter entitled “The Almost War, 1996):

The Secret Service and Customs had teamed up in Atlanta to provide some rudimentary air defense against an aircraft flying into the Olympic Stadium. They did so again during the subsequent National Security Special Events and they agreed to create a permanent air defense unit to protect Washington. Unfortunately, those two federal law enforcement agencies were housed in the Treasury Department and its leadership did not want to pay for such a mission or run the liability risks of shooting down the wrong aircraft. Treasury nixed the air defense unit, and my attempts within the White House to overrule them came to naught. The idea of aircraft attacking in Washington seemed remote to many people and the risks of shooting down aircraft in a city were thought to be far too high. Moreover, the opponents of our plan argued, the Air Force could always scramble fighter aircraft to protect Washington if there were a problem. On occasions when aircraft were hijacked (and in one case when we erroneously believed a Northwest flight had been seized), the Air Force did intercept the airliners with fighter jets. We succeeded only in getting Secret Service the permission to continue to examine air defense options, including the possibility of placing missile units near the White House. Most people who heard about our efforts to create some air defense system in case terrorists tried to fly aircraft into the Capitol, the White House, or the Pentagon simply thought we were nuts.
Page 131
Against all Enemies
Richard A Clarke

It seems if there were missile defences on 9/11, then Clarke didn’t know about them.

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