View Full Version : Sept. 11 Commissioners Seek Revised Aviation Security Report

03-05-2005, 12:45 PM
Sept. 11 commissioners seek revised aviation security report
By Chris Strohm -- GovExec.com -- DAILY BRIEFING March 4, 2005

A former member of the 9/11 commission this week called on the administration to revise a report on aviation security before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks so it does not contain redacted sections.

The third staff report from the 9/11 commission was released by the administration last month, even though it was completed in August. Parts of the report, however, were redacted, making it the only part of the commission's work that was not released in its entirety. "These redactions are a disservice to the 9/11 families, to the commission and to the nation," former commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste told the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations during a hearing Wednesday. The hearing was held to examine the issue of excessive classification.

Ben-Veniste, along with all the other former commissioners and some staff, are now part of the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, which is a nationwide public-education campaign aimed at making the nation safer and more secure.

"If the administration is willing to meet with former commission staff, including those who drafted this report, we are confident that a report without redactions can be produced in short order," Ben-Veniste said. "Such a report, with integrity and credibility, is exactly the kind of report that the American government should produce and the kind of report that the American people deserve."

The report, called The Four Flights and Civil Aviation Security, examines aviation warnings prior to the attacks and failures within the aviation security system that contributed to the attacks.

A memorandum prepared for the subcommittee on Feb. 24 notes that the delay of the report and redactions within it raise concerns.

"Some are questioning whether the administration abused the classification process to improperly withhold the 9/11 commission findings from Congress and the public until now based on political rather then purely security considerations," the memo states.

Ben-Veniste said former 9/11 commission members and staff do not believe the redactions to the third report were justified because they concern a civil aviation security system that no longer exists.

"We cannot say with certainty why the declassification review of this last staff report took so long, and why the outcome was so unsatisfactory," Ben-Veniste said.

"Part of the answer is that the administration decided it could no longer negotiate with former commission staff - including the authors of the report - because they became private citizens after Aug. 21. The administration refused to engage former commission staff in a dialogue about the declassification process."

He added: "In the absence of dialogue and pressure from an existing commission, the declassification process took an inordinate amount of time and produced an unsatisfactory result."

This document is located at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0305/030405c1.htm The 4 Flight/FAA/Warnings monograph can be downloaded from:


The question no one is asking is: on the basis of what intelligence received and vetted by which intelligence agencies and individuals within those agencies and those in the National Security Counsel, would these warnings to the FAA been based, vetted and formulated? In other words, these warnings to the FAA were first warnings, in all likelihood with greater detail, first recieved by individuals within the national intelligence apparatus--within the intelligence agencies and the National Security Counsel. So why then is the FAA taking all the heat here? Why isn't the press asking this simple question? As Max Cleland said on Washington Journal (C-SPAN) before he left the Commission, "We now know that the administration knew a whole lot more than they originally admitted." This redacted report and other foriegn press accounts, not mentioned in the 9/11 Report, are proof positive the Administration had recieved quite detailed warnings about the threat posed to American landmarks from the air by suicide bombers piloting commericial or private aircraft. By all appearances Administration officials, including now Secretary of State Dr. Rice have lied to the American people about the nature and extant of the warnings they recieved during what is becoming known as the Summer of Threat when everyone's "hair was on fire" (according to George Tenet)

The other question no one appears to be asking is how it was that this portion of the report didn't get 'vetted' (read censored) by White House counsel as the rest of the Report did prior to its release to the public on July 22, 2004. Whose decision was it to seperate it from the rest of the 9/11 Report? Why not just have it White House & agency censored like the rest of the Report? Was it a staff team leader (perhaps John Farmer in the NY office of the Commission) who refused to see his work invisibly purged of the truth about the warnings? Or was it politically motivated to avoid embarrasment and calls for accountability before the election? Again, it appears there was a deliberate attempt to bury and delay this information prior to the election and prior to the confirmation of Dr. Rice as Secretary of State. Rep. Waxman of California in the House Reform Committee would like to see Rep. Davis hold hearings on this issue and whether or not Rice may have lied when she said she recieved no warnings about the use of planes as weapons. We won't hold our breath as to whether he or his counterpart, Sen. Collins from Maine, the Chair of the Government Affairs Committee will hold hearings to examine these questions. But let us hope the families have another fight in them and demand that all the unanswered questions be addressed before the passing of another commemoration of the 9/11 victims. Many of the recommendations of the Report have been passed into legislation. Better late than never to return to the highly questionable or flawed 'findings of fact and circumstances' surrounding the attacks on which the recommendations were based. Time for a full accounting and direct accountability. We all deserve nothing less. Our security, safety and the integrity of the Nation hangs in the balance.

Kyle F. Hence