FSC Statement Regarding the Hearings on
June 16th and 17th
June 14, 2004
The success of the 9/11 terrorist plot was possible due to the failures of many government agencies; one critical area was our intelligence agencies. In recognition of this, an investigation was conducted, known as “The Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001” (JICI). However, the committee ended its investigation without completing its work. In addition, since the JICI was only charged with investigating intelligence, that meant that the scope of its mandate was too narrow. Among other goals, the 9/11 Commission was to take up where the JICI left off.
The 9/11 attacks occurred despite many warnings, some of which are only now being publicized. But even though there was a collective failure by those responsible for our national security to heed these warnings, our country should have been able to defend itself from an air attack. 9/11 was a massive defense failure. One cause may have been the deviations from normal hijacking protocols by the FAA and NORAD.
As a result, standard intercept protocols were fatally delayed. Why was Joint Chief of Staff, General Myers, not notified of the attacks until after the Pentagon was hit? Where was the country’s leadership while this was transpiring? Why did the Secret Service delay in moving the President from a publicized location? Why did Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who was in the Pentagon when it was struck, remain in his office despite knowing the country was under attack? Why did the President continue to listen to the children read?
There were numerous military exercises planned for 9/11. Mass confusion ensued when these exercises coincided with the terrorist attacks, which adversely affected NORAD’s response time. Who was responsible for alerting those who should have been aware of the precise nature of these exercises, so that they would not be confused with a real emergency?
The upcoming 9/11 Commission hearing is an opportunity to elicit information about these critical gaps. We hope (in contrast to the recent hearing in New York) the rigorous and thorough questioning of the witnesses on these topics will be the rule – rather than the exception.
The following are the FSC questions regarding the FAA and NORAD that we have given to the Commission. We look forward to finally learning the answers at the hearing next week:
Questions for Dr. Matthias Krauss, Federal Prosecutor, Federal Republic of Germany
The U.S. Government refused to turn over 9/11 mastermind Ramzi Binalshibh or his sworn testimony, to help you prosecute Mr. Mzoudi in his terrorism trial in Germany.
• How do you feel about that?
• What would you have needed from the United States Government to successfully prosecute Mzoudi?
• Why do you think that the U.S. did not give this important prosecution its full cooperation?
1. Please provide a specific timeline for each of the four aircraft, which includes all FAA notifications and responses on the morning of September 11th, and the exact times at which air traffic controllers notified the FAA of a possible hijacking of each aircraft.
2. Please explain discrepancies between the FAA and NORAD account of the September 11th timeline, specifically regarding the time that NORAD was notified.
3. Why did FAA rescind the rule allowing guns in cockpits two months before the terror attacks? What prompted the decision to disallow a regulation which had been in existence for 40 years?
4. Leading up to 9/11, were all “Red Team” recommendations incorporated into the airlines/airports security measures? If not, why? Are “Red Teams” still permitted to check the airlines/airports for security lapses?
5. What is the procedure/protocol for determining which names are included on the State Department “Watch List” and on the airlines’ “No Fly” list?
6. What was the FAA’s protocol for notifying other agencies (NORAD, Secret Service, White House, FBI, Dept. of Transportation, Department of Defense) in the event of a hijacking? Was protocol followed? What were the precise times of these notifications?
7. Nine of the hijackers were selected for special security screenings, two for irregularities in identification documents, six for extra-scrutiny by a computer screening program and one because he was traveling with a questionable individual.
• In each case, who made the decision to permit the hijacker to board the plane?
• Did the person making the decision have access to terrorist watch lists?
• Did anyone check the watch lists and their immigration status?
· Were any of the nine on any watch lists?
• Did the airline ticketing agents have access to terrorist watch lists?
• Did the screeners have access to terrorist watch lists?
• Did INS agents at the airport participate in the screening?
• Are there airport security video tapes of them being questioned?
• What exactly were the irregularities in identification?
· Which two had these irregularities?
· What was done during the course of the detainment of these two individuals?
· What questions were asked?
· Was anything confiscated?
• With regard to the remaining seven hijackers, what was the list of questions asked of them?
· Who interrogated them?
· Was anything confiscated?
• Where are the logs and records and incident reports from these detainments?
8. Why did three foreign owned airline security screening companies have their liability levels capped in the Homeland Security Bill? Who is responsible for this? What was the reasoning?
9. According to Federal Code, the FAA Administrator and the FBI Director share joint responsibility for assessing the threats to domestic aviation. Part of their task is to carry out periodic assessments of security at each airport in the system.
• When were Logan, Dulles and Newark airports, the three airports from which the terrorists departed, last evaluated prior to September 11th?
• What were the observations, conclusions and \recommendations at each airport?
• Were there follow-up assessments in the case of deficiencies?
• Are the nation’s airports routinely assessed?
• Is there a written plan coordinating the activities of the FAA , US Customs, INS and other law enforcement personnel?
10. Was Logan Airport sanctioned for its repeated failure to meet FAA standards for airline security?
• If Logan was sanctioned, how much was it fined?
• Was the original fine paid in full?
• Who was responsible for ensuring that Logan Airport met its airport/
• airline security requirements?
11. Was there a gun on AA Flight 11?
12. Who initially stated that the hijackers carried box-cutters as weapons? Who determined which weapons were used? Who conducted the passenger search prior to boarding?
13. Box cutters were found on two planes grounded on September 11th. The box cutters were found under adjoining seat cushions on a flight out of Boston. Others were found in a trash bin on a plane bound from Atlanta to Brussels. Why weren’t FAA guidelines followed regarding banned items, such as box cutters, mace or pepper spray?
14. Why has the FBI not invited the NTSB into the investigation?
15. Where are the “black boxes”, voice recorders and transcripts from all four crash sites? Who is assessing the data obtained from those sources? What information about the hijacking do they provide?
16. In the months preceding the terrorist attacks, were any security directives or emergency amendments issued? Were the FAA information circulars, directives and amendments passed on to air traffic controllers, the security agencies hired by the airlines to screen passengers, as well as the INS and Customs agents and other airport ground security personnel?
17. What was the FAA protocol for determining when to notify airline and airport security agencies of threats?
18. What communication did the crew have with the airline and/or the control tower or other aircraft prior to/during the hijacking? Where are all transcripts from Air Traffic Control? Where are all logs and records from the FAA?
19. It is reported that there were no security cameras in the boarding areas at Logan Airport. Is there security camera film of the hijackers from Newark and Dulles airports? If so, where is this film now? If not, why not?
20. Have the passenger manifests been released? If not, why not?
• Were there any discrepancies in the manifests?
• Did the names and number of passengers match?
• Were each of the hijackers listed on the manifest and assigned to a seat?
• Have all passengers been identified by DNA?
21. Please explain the unusually light passenger load of the four hijacked planes. Were there seats purchased for whom no one showed up? If so, please be specific about the number on each flight, who purchased the seats and the purchase point.
22. Why were fines for airline security violations pared to 10 cents on the dollar, despite repeated violations? Please discuss Congressional influence on FAA decisions regarding fines and implementation safety regulations.
23. Why did the FAA allow safety and security violations to persist?
24. Why were timelines scrapped from the 1996 Gore Commission’s final recommendations? Other security recommendations which were not implemented include:
• measures for preventing illegal intrusion into restricted areas;
• determining the terrorism vulnerability of our nation’s airports;
• a procedure for communicating secure information about possible terrorists
to the FAA;
• protecting aircraft from surface to air missiles;
• and requiring fingerprinting of anyone with access to secure areas.
Have all the outstanding security recommendations of the Gore Commission been implemented as of today?
25. The Secret Service was able to monitor FAA radar screens. At what point did the Secret Service become aware that 1) four planes had been hijacked and 2) our country was under attack? Once this information was known, what protocol was followed?
26. Flight Explorer is a Virginia based company that sells FAA radar data to the airlines. It tracked 3 of the flights on 9/11 (from what we understand, they didn’t track flight 93). ( LATimes 9/17/2001) Walter Kross is the technical specialist at this Company. We have been told over and over that no one knew where the planes were. If Flight Explorer has the data, which according to this article includes the plane’s speed, altitude and precise direction, why did they not know where the planes were? Walter Kross and his company’s records should be brought in for questioning.
27. When a person is pulled for screening at the airport what is the protocol that follows (a selectee)? Who decides whether it is then ok for them to board the plane? Who determined that the 9 hijackers who were stopped on 9/11 could subsequently board the planes? What were their scores on CAPPS? Why weren’t sky marshals put on those flights?
28. Why did the FAA prohibit Salmon Rushdie from flying in the U.S. and Canada, prior to 9/11? Why were orders that extreme constraining security measures be implemented on all flights on which Mr. Rushdie was booked be implemented according to Air Canada spokesperson, Pricilla Le Blanc? The document also stated that “should Mr. Rushdie attempt to make a reservation or present himself at the airport, he is not to be accepted for carriage.”
29. With regard to AA Flight 11, the flight departed at 7:59 A.M. on the morning of 9/11. After the Controller’s cruising altitude command wasn’t followed, the plane was a suspected hijacking. At 8:19 A.M. the plane’s transponder was shut off. “We have more planes, we have other planes” was heard by the controller’s on the ground. The plural “planes” was clearly used. Was this not a clear indication that there were other hijacked planes in the air?
30. Have the records from the vessel Traffic Service Program from Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, which has closed circuit television systems and twelve radar systems, been subpoenaed? If so, what has been learned from these records, and are they being passed on to the 9/11 Independent Commission?
1. Was NORAD aware of the four hijacked planes veering off course even before being reported by the FAA? If not, please explain why NORAD, which monitors 7000 flights a day, was unable to track the four aberrant flights.
2. At precisely what time was NORAD notified of each plane being hijacked? What was their response?
3. Who determined from which bases the F-16s should be scrambled? Why were fighter jets scrambled from such distant bases such as Langley Base in Va. instead of Andrews Air Force Base, a mere 10 miles from the Pentagon? Who were the pilots of these F-16s?
4. Why weren’t the jets able to intercept the hijacked planes if they were airborne within eight minutes of notification? What was their airspeed?
5. It is reported that there were two F-15s off the coast of Long Island while Flights 11 and 175 were in the air. If there were indeed fighters off Long Island, why weren’t they diverted to investigate Flights 11 and 175? Were any other military planes flying routine missions on the morning of September 11th which could have responded?
6. Why did NORAD wait until after the second plane hit the WTC to try and prevent possible further attacks? Why weren’t the fighter jets that tailed flights 11 and 175 as they crashed into New York’s WTC, immediately rerouted to intercept flights 77 or 93, before they crashed into the Pentagon and Pennsylvania?
7. Why wasn’t the Pentagon defended?
8. Were surveillance satellites orbiting North American airspace on 9/11?
• What exactly does the satellite imaging reveal?
• What companies own these satellites?
• Where are the records and logs for these orbits?
9. Why were these four planes able to evade all radar? Even when the transponders are disconnected, a plane is still able to be located by its “skin” on radar screens.
10. In June 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld modified NMCC response procedure in the event of a hijacking. Could this procedural change have slowed NORAD’s response time?
11. Who was directing the defense of our country that morning?
12. What defensive actions were ordered to protect our nation during the crisis?
13. In the Newhouse News Service Article titled “Amid Crisis Simulation We Were Suddenly, No Kidding, Under Attack,” Master Sgt. Maureen Dooley says that Boston Center was following a blip thought to be flight 11 and she “grasped for a way to get the plane’s tail number”- as she was talking to the F-16 pilots. If, as NORAD claims, the fighters were not near NY when flight 11 hit the towers, how could they have possibly been in a position to get the flight’s tail number?
14. It was reported that at 9:03 the second plane crash brought a brief pause (in OPS room) and then a renewal, they looked to Robert Marr for a game plan. He said “get to the phones, call every National Guard unit in the land – Prepare to put jets in the air – the nation is under attack”. How many planes are at the ready including the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF), the National Guard, the Air Force, the Coast Guard etc. – (NORAD’s are not the only bases that have planes at the ready). How many bases were contacted? Were planes put up?
15. Exactly how many bases had planes that were combat ready, which were not under the direction of NORAD? For example: Syracuse, N.Y., Hartford, Conn., McGuire Air Force base, Atlantic City. Those bases had websites that “boasted” – prior to 9/11 that they were on high readiness status.
16. With regard to the Coast Guard – How many of their helicopters were available? Why were they not called and/or put up in the sky?
17. At what point in time did Deskins contact Major Don Arias in Florida (we know from news articles that it was prior to the second plane hitting WTC 2). Major Arias called his brother in WTC, Tower 2, and told him that the first plane was a hijacking and that he should, therefore, evacuate. Why weren’t they calling the Port authority to tell them that they should evacuate everyone from the building? Also, how is it that if NORAD knew that flight 11 was a hijacking, that anyone can say they thought the first plane crash, was an accident?
18. Amalgam Virgo One, the NORAD exercise that took place June 2001, has a picture of Bin Laden on the cover. It talks about perceived threats that face this nation. It does not then make sense that NORAD continued operating under a “cold war scenario”. In fact, in NewsHerald.com 6/01, Major Arias says, “The cold war is over.” Gen Larry Arnold says we have to be proactive or we are going to get hurt. Whose job is it to change NORAD’s mission? Have they been held accountable for not changing the mission considering the cold war had been over and many threats by rogue nations had been made on our country?
Secure Military Bases
1. Were any secure military bases involved in “exercises” on the morning of 9/11? If so, were and/or could any of your pilots have been diverted to intercept the hijacked planes?
2. Given the events unfolding in NY, DC, and PA, did any of your bases or pilots inquire about flying to intercept the hijacked planes or give military cover to any of the cities involved?
3. If so, were any of these bases or individuals told to stand down?
• Pensacola Naval Station, Pensacola, FL
• Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX
• Air War College, Montgomery, AL
• Maxwell Air Force Base, International Officers School, Montgomery, AL
[re: Mohammed Atta]
• The Defense Language Institute, Monterey, CA [re: Saeed Alghamdi]
• Brooks Air Force Base, TX, Brooks Medical School, [re: Abdulaziz Alomari]
United States Strategic Command
“The United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) is located at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. “USSTRATCOM is the command and control center for U.S. strategic forces and controls military space operations, computer network operations, information operations, strategic warning and intelligence assessments as well as global strategic planning. The command is responsible for both early warning of and defense against missile attack and long-range conventional attacks…” http://www.stratcom.af.mil [excerpt from website]
On September 11th:
1. Was USSTRATCOM notified of any of the four hijackings? If so, by whom and at what time?
2. Did USSTRATCOM, at any time, track the four hijacked planes?
3. Does USSTRATCOM have a response protocol for attacks initiated within the continental United States? If so, was this protocol followed?<
4. Did USSTRATCOM have any communication with NORAD prior to, or during, the terrorist attacks?
5. Prior to, or on September 11th, was anyone at USSTRATCOM advised, formally or informally, of the possibility of a terrorist attack within the United States?