9/11 panel focuses on aviation security


If specified, this will replace the title that
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Members of the independent commission on September 11 pressed Bush administration and military officials Friday on whether the federal government should have been more prepared for a terrorist attack using airplanes as weapons.

Commissioner Jamie Gorelick said there were "frantic" warnings in the months before the attacks that a major act of terrorism was in the works.

"Did this higher level of chatter ... result in any action across the government? I take it your answer is no," Gorelick told Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

Mineta replied, "That's correct."

Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley, commander of the Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, said the nation's air defense system on September 11, 2001, was not directed toward domestic civilian flights.

"It was to look outward, as a Cold War vestige, primarily developed during the Cold War, to defend against long-range Soviet bomber penetration of our intercept zone," McKinley said.

Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste suggested that in light of previous clues that terrorists might use planes as weapons, the government's defense network could have been better oriented.

"In retrospect, sir, I think I would agree with your comment," McKinley said.

On the second day of a public hearing on aviation security, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States focused on the immediate response by government to the simultaneous hijackings of passenger planes on September 11, 2001.

Mineta said terrorism was not "high on the list of priorities" for civil aviation at that time. "We were still dealing with the whole issue of delay, congestion, capacity issues," he said. "So terrorism was really not something I was prepared to deal with, except as it came up on that tragic day."

Commissioner Tim Roemer, a former congressman from Indiana, on Thursday recited a list of warnings issued in the years before the attacks that terrorists might try to fly airplanes into buildings.

"Why didn't the FAA do more to look at the possibility that this could happen in the United States?" he asked Jane Garvey, who was federal aviation administrator on September 11.

Garvey replied that most credible assessments of the threat focused on overseas targets.

She said the hijackers understood and exploited the nation's strategy for keeping planes safe.

"The most powerful weapon the hijackers carried on 9/11 ... was their knowledge that our policy was to get the passengers on the ground safely, and that meant negotiation, not confrontation," Garvey told the commission.

The commission also heard from Bogdan Dzakovic, who worked on an FAA security team charged with finding holes in airport security. Dzakovic, who now works at the Transportation Security Agency, accused the FAA of not acting on the team's discoveries.

"Criticism is not accepted at FAA," he said. "That's not part of the culture."*

Aviation security is a major line of inquiry for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. But its chairman, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean, took care to point out that the panel will also be exploring failures in intelligence, law enforcement, border security and other areas.

To avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, three members of the 10-member commission -- James R. Thompson, Gorelick and Ben-Veniste -- will not participate in writing recommendations for commercial aviation, chairman Thomas H. Kean said. The three work for law firms that represent airlines.

* Imagine that.

In a somewhat related note it really ticks me off that the FAA has not been more protective of their own powers and aviation in general.
And the response of the Bush administration now? Oh, let's shut down for all intents and purposes three airports where no terrorists trained at, where no terrorist activities take place, and where no planes that could do any damage fly out of. Let's focus on something that had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks as if all of the 19 guys flew planes out of these three airports.

But that's typical of this administration. Instead of focusing on the real problems, they chase after things that have nothing to do with it. Problem with al Qaeda? Attack Iraq. Middle class people losing jobs? Give tax cuts to the very wealthy.
Sheesh are you leaning left or what?

Airline security is a joke, but it always has been. It's always been a dumb show for the passenger. I was amused that back in '99 the FAA bragged that they had "intercepted" 149 guns going through security. A little further on in the article it states that all these people were citizens who were licensed to carry concealed weapons and had not checked them by mistake.

I suppose it stops terrorists on some level...

Personally the new tax cut bill is going to help me a lot. I am not upper middle class but I do own and operate my own business.

I had the misfortune to be in Berlin during the "Clinton Administration." I was there for RJ training.

It was very embarassing to be asked by the Germans, "How can you have such a clown as a president?" My response was "I didn't vote for him, ever!"

I guess the difference is now, I don't care what the Germans think!