Sorry to do this, but I read this CNN news story and
I'd like to point out the technology existed. The procedures
and policies may have been lacking.
  Military officials at NORAD ordered fighter jets from
  Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to intercept the
  flight, but neither the FAA, NORAD, nor any other
  federal government organization made any effort to
  evacuate the buildings in Washington.

  Officials at the Pentagon said that no mechanism existed
  within the U.S. government to notify various departments
  and agencies under such circumstances.

Actually, there has been a mechanism to alert almost every
public safety point in the nation for many years.

Quoting from the NAWAS manual:

The National Warning System (NAWAS) is a 24-hour continuous
private line telephone system used to convey warnings to
Federal, State and local governments, as well as the military
and civilian population. Originally, the primary mission of
the NAWAS was to warn of an imminent enemy attack or an actual
accidental missile launch upon the United States. NAWAS still
supports this mission but the emphasis is on natural and
technological disasters.

In today�s post-Cold War environment, the threats imposed by
disasters make it imperative for all government officials to
have access to an effective and reliable means of warning the
public of impending emergencies so that they may take protective
actions. Title VI of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief
and Emergency Assistance Act authorizes the use of the NAWAS
to support the All-Hazards emergency response mission of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). NAWAS is used to
disseminate warning information concerning natural and
technological disasters to various warning points throughout
the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and the Virgin
Islands. This information includes but is not limited to acts
of terrorism including Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) after
aircraft incidents/accidents, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes,
nuclear incidents/accidents, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes,
tsunamis and winter storms/blizzards. NAWAS allows issuance of
warnings to all stations nationwide or to selected stations as
dictated by the situation.

The rumor is it takes NORAD less than 3 minutes to issue an alert.
The government had the means to issue a warning.


Does this mean it takes 3 minutes to decide to issue a warning or that it takes 3 minutes to distribute the warning once the decision to issue has been made?