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Operation Sky Shield II, which ran for 12 hours in October 1961, was the second time—and the longest—that U.S. civil air traffic had been grounded. The first was Sky Shield I, run on September 10, 1960, from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The third and final time—until last September—was Sky Shield III: five and a half hours beginning at 3 p.m. EDT, September 2, 1962.
Another abiding "mystery" of September 11 is why Gen. Eberhart, the commander of NORAD on 9/11, claimed to the 9/11 Commission that on the morning of 9/11 NORAD was conducting, among others, a preplanned "Soviet−era" emergency response exercise 15 in which US fighter jets were to defend against Russian nuclear bombers. After all, the Soviet Union had ceased to exist ten years before. He didn’t say "Russian," he said "Soviet." This is very strange until one discovers that, despite repeated official and media claims that September 11 was "completely unique" and that the skies over America had "never before" been cleared of all commercial and private civilian aircraft, NORAD had conducted another emergency response exercise 40 years earlier, which completely cleared the skies over the mainland US. This was on October 14, 1961, in a war game called "Sky Shield II," which was based on a scenario of how to defend against an air attack by Soviet bombers on New York City.16 The main difference between the 1961 exercise and September 11 is that the clearing of the skies was announced in advance to the public in "Sky Shield." This original Soviet−era exercise, which included 1,800 US and 15 Canadian military planes and was billed as "the greatest exercise ever conducted by Western air−defense forces,"
NRO was conducting an emergency response exercise on the scenario of a plane crashing into one of the towers at its headquarters just outside Washington,
D.C.11−many NRO personnel being from the Air Force and CIA.
I first asked Gen. Eberhart if there was any connection between NORAD’s "Vigilant Guardian/Vigilant Warrior" exercise being run on 9/11 and the plane−crashing−into−tower emergency response exercise simultaneously being held at National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) headquarters outside Washington, D.C.12/first cite He replied, "No." I was surprised at this, as a large portion of NRO personnel are from his own agency, the Air Force. I asked for reconfirmation, to which he again said, "No." Laying the ground for the next question, I mentioned that NEADS’ "game" director Lt. Col. Dawne Deskins had said that she was confused as to whether initial reports of the hijacked planes on the morning of 9/11 were "real world" or "part of the game."
This, I said, showed that the NORAD exercises that morning had to have been on a hijack scenario at least similar to the actual attacks, as otherwise there would have been no grounds for confusion. After considering this for a moment, Gen.
Eberhart refused to answer any further questions and abruptly ended the interview.