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4
Stand Down Order

The Potential Death Count Was Greater

The U.S. officials who supposedly orchestrated or let the attacks happen could have been responsible for far more deaths than actually occurred on Sept. 11th. In addition to Flight 93 that never reached its target, the damaged section of the Pentagon was newly renovated and therefore not filled with nearly as many people as it would normally be. And, because it was early in the day (in addition to some other factors), the World Trade Center held only about 9,000 in each building, as opposed to 20,000 each on a normal day [source: Lewis].

In addition to LIHOP theorists, other conspiracy theorists believe the U.S. government, not Osama bin Laden, planned and was primarily responsible for the terrorist attacks. These theorists believe the government "made it happen on purpose" (abbreviated as MIHOP). Why? Just like LIHOPs, MIHOPs speculate that officials in the U.S. government wanted the attacks on Sept. 11th to happen in order to promote involvement in multiple wars.

In addition to motivation, one point that most of both LIHOPs and MIHOPs agree on is that it was very suspicious that military jets did not respond quickly enough to the hijackings. Normally, once a hijacking is confirmed, the military will send fighter jets to escort the plane. The conspiracy theorists say there must have been a "stand down" order that prevented U.S. Air Force jets from coming to the aid of the planes.

But experts argue the delayed response was perfectly reasonable. First, the long chain of communication between air traffic control, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense at that time simply took too long to respond to the unprecedented attacks in time. Even when two fighter jets were deployed from Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts faster than usual in a breach of protocol, the jets had no coordinates for the hijacked Flight 11, because the plane's transponder had been turned off [source: Dunbar]. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) also claims that its radars were only prepared to detect threats from outside the continent [source: Popular Mechanics].

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