I’m not going to go on with this much further unless there are comments and/or questions. Surprise Attack visits this in great detail if the subject and actual analysis is of interest to you. I have been surprised that after an extended media outreach at the time of the recent anniversary, there was no interest at all in the media in regard to reviewing the new research and analysis in the book. It appears that the media is going to put a stake in the ground with the story as it was told in the first days following the events – not even taking the effort to look at the implications in the 9/11 report, the blatant stonewalling from the Bush administration and the serious suggestions of perjury and obstruction of justice pertaining to the White House, the FAA and the Air Force that the Commission developed. Legal action on the Commissions part was forestalled by political cautions and control but now that we have the full story I would have expected better of the media, instead what we seem to see is a replication of the JFK assassination. The immediate, official story becomes somehow sacrosanct and on following anniversary dates it is trotted out under either the motif of simply acknowledging the event, respectfully of course, or of commenting that we will probably never understand its full complexity… In regard to 9/11 that seems involve shaking of heads and statements such as. “yeah we have strong leads suggesting that a number of Saudi’s and Saudi charitable and financial infrastructure supported the attack but its not possible to really develop that at this late date so lets not go there”, which is probably true but also serves as a helpful diversion from looking ad the actual domestic security failures.
The following is an extension of the previous book excerpt which dealt with issues of air defense, of course that has to be coupled with access control by the FAA to be effective and the folloing is a brief except is a part of the book’s discussion of that:
“The FAA would appear to have had as much—or more—strategic warning of the aerial terror threat than any other government agency. The Clinton administration counterterror initiative paid particular attention to the FAA, with funding including more than $91 million for checked baggage screening and another $37 million for screening carry-on luggage. Monies for security research and vulnerability testing amounted to more than $25 million. The FAA security force was doubled, with funding of $18 million; canine search teams were funded to another $9 million. There were other monies for personnel additions as well as for passenger security database and terror profiling systems.
In statements and remarks given to the 9/11 Commission, both FAA and Department of Transportation managers essentially gave a disclaimer—to the effect that in 2001 nobody at senior levels of the Bush administration had ever talked to them about a terror threat and terrorism had not been a subject in cabinet meetings. Norman Mineta, head of the Department of Transportation and the cabinet-level officer responsible for the activities of the FAA, testified to the 9/11 Commission that he had never been briefed or advised or attended any inter-agency meetings dealing with terrorism. He also stated that the subject of terrorism and terror attacks had never been brought up in any of the White House meetings he had attended. When asked whether or not he felt that indicated a failure, his only response was “We had no information of that nature at all.” Mineta also appears to have had no knowledge of the ongoing NORAD hijack exercises (apparently involving at least some personnel at the FAA) that had been going on for some three years. Certainly there is no evidence that the FAA itself was raising alarms in regard to tracking or interdicting hijacked airliners.
While several of Mineta’s remarks about administration communications appear to be consistent with those of other principals, the 9/11 Commission’s inquiry did confirm that there was general knowledge of an aviation terror threat within the FAA. More specifically, the Commission noted that in 2001 the FAA itself provided warnings about terror threats. Between July 27 and September 11, the FAA had issued five new security directives to air carriers and an additional eight general warnings contained in FAA circulars. Several of those were in regard to overseas threats; one generically addressed the carry-on of disguised weapons.
In retrospect, with information circulating between multiple FBI field offices in regard to suspected terrorist aviation activities—including numbers of suspects taking flight training on commercial aircraft—tactical warnings of some sort of al-Qaeda “planes” operation seem to have been plentiful. During the spring and summer of 2001, FBI field offices reported on a flurry of young, foreign Arabian men involved in expensive commercial flight training; some of the men’s associates openly expressed their support of martyrdom attacks to FBI agents. In a classic sense, a number of key warning “indicators” were being tripped. Yet either the FBI was not providing any related warnings to the FAA or the warnings were not being addressed.
The FAA/DOT response indicated they were not told about such things—the corollary being that they neither aggressively asked for information about recent changes in the nature of terror threats nor responded to information given to their Security Division. If nobody was pushing information onto them, they had the responsibility for keeping themselves, their procedures, practices and training current with contemporary intelligence. It was the FAA/DOT’s responsibility to deny terrorists access to commercial aircraft, not only to the aircraft themselves but to the flight deck of those aircraft. Yet as of the fall of 2001 the FAA had initiated no new practices to screen terrorists during travel on domestic flights, to report suspects to law enforcement prior to boarding, to protect flight crews or to secure the flight deck. They had taken no initiative to explore known hijack issues—such as tracking aircraft with transponders turned off—with their military support, NORAD. Throughout 1941 Japanese observers in Hawaii reported on the American Navy’s offshore air surveillance patrols. Those patrols maintained the same flight schedules and routes, even after the war alert was issued, right up to the time of the actual Japanese attacks. Over the course of two years of taking domestic flights around the United States, the jihadi terrorists had observed no new “disruptive” commercial airline security measures of any sort; the airline security screening and on-board practices remained the same.
If anyone truly “didn’t get” terrorism, it appears to have been the DOT and FAA. In the previous chapter we have explored many of the details concerning exactly how they failed—even in the face of warnings by their own Red Teams. The question remains as to why FAA headquarters seems to have been so deeply mired in inertia. Certainly FAA personnel had observed the grounding of more than a dozen international flights out of Asia during the Bojinka incident; anyone with an interest in aviation security would have followed that story out of the Philippines, even if only in the newspapers. The terrorists’ trial was held in New York City and the incident had been the subject of ongoing newspaper coverage as recently as 1996. Media coverage alone should have triggered some ongoing interest and inquiries from the FAA to the CIA and FBI about an al-Qaeda focus on airliner attacks.
Nobody at FAA or DOT appears to have stepped up to mentally “owning” the responsibility for denying potential access to commercial aircraft. In 1941 the commanders in Hawaii and the Philippines constantly complained to the War Department about the lack of training, personnel and equipment. Those commanders knew they owned the defense of their commands. But as of 2001, there appear to be no signs that any senior FAA manager (other than Individuals on their own Red Teams) barraged their bosses with terror defense issues—if so, they made no mention of that to the 9/11 Commission.