READER GARY HUDSON SAYS I’M WRONG to think that the grounding of aircraft on 9/11 did any good:

I have to register an exception to the oft-heard comments that Mineta (or whomever was responsible) “saved the day” ordering aircraft to land on 9/11. This action saved nothing and help to bring the commercial and general aviation communities to the point of collapse.

My reasoning is simple. Let’s say there were “threats” in the air. Is there any way that ordering an aircraft to land (vs. letting it continue on flight path) would have any effect on what a hostile aircraft might do? A hostile won’t obey the order to land. Hostile aircraft move towards their targets.

They don’t respond properly to radio calls. The FAA Tracon (and certainly later the AWACS that were airborne) can discriminate between threat/hostil aircraft and vector interceptors to identified threats. We know they had 11 “threats” and 10 of those were false; the other was UA Flight 93. Anyone think to call them up? Maybe ask who the chief pilot of the airline is? If the answer comes back “Allah akbar” you know you have a problem. Otherwise you check it off.

Given that it took three hours to bring down all the aircraft in the system, the order did nothing whatever to help identify threats. It was a classic case of ass-covering by bureaucrats.

I seem to recall press coverage last Fall suggesting that the grounding did prevent some attacks (including one in London) but those reports could be wrong I suppose. Anyway, here’s an alternative view.

UPDATE: But Norm Mineta thinks it’s a big deal — so big that, according to this piece in Slate from last April, forwarded by an alert reader — he went out of his way to take credit for the decision when it was really made by someone else.