The Bush White House has ignored all but one or two of the joint inquiry's 19 urgent recommendations to make the nation safer against the next attempted terrorist attack.
The F.A.A. and NORAD had at least 42 minutes to decide what to do about Flight 93. What really happened?
[C]ommissioners were unaware of the crucial information given in an even more revealing phone call, made by another heroic flight attendant on the same plane, Madeline (Amy) Sweeney. They were unaware because their chief of staff, Philip Zelikow, chooses which evidence and witnesses to bring to their attention. Mr. Zelikow, as a former adviser to the pre-9/11 Bush administration, has a blatant conflict.
The Bush administration controls who sees what on the 9/11 investigation committee. How many Americans are aware of that?
How many Americans are aware the committee could collapse because of the administration's non-cooperation?
How many Americans are aware of the significant questions remaining unanswered about the airlines, NORAD, the FAA, the FBI, and the administration itself?
"We know what [Sweeney, American Flight 11] said from notes, and the government has them," said Mary Schiavo, the formidable former Inspector General of the Department of Transportation, whose nickname among aviation officials was "Scary Mary." Ms. Schiavo sat in on the commission's hearing on aviation security on 9/11 and was disgusted by what it left out. "In any other situation, it would be unthinkable to withhold investigative material from an independent commission," she told this writer. "There are usually grave consequences. But the commission is clearly not talking to everybody or not telling us everything."...
Asked when NORAD gave an order for fighter planes to scramble in response to United's Flight 93, the air-defense agency notes only that F-16's were already airborne from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to intercept American's Flight 77. The latter jet heaved into the Pentagon at either 9:40 a.m. (according to the F.A.A.) or at 9:38 a.m. (according to NORAD). Although the F-16's weren't in the skies over Washington until 9:49, the question is: Did they continue flying north in an attempt to deter the last of the four hijacked jets? The distance was only 129 miles...
The independent commission is in a position to demand such answers, and many more. Have any weapons been recovered from any of the four downed planes? If not, why should the panel assume they were "less-than-four-inch knives," the description repeatedly used in the commission's hearing on aviation security? Remember the airlines' first reports, that the whole job was pulled off with box cutters? In fact, investigators for the commission found that box cutters were reported on only one plane. In any case, box cutters were considered straight razors and were always illegal. Thus the airlines switched their story and produced a snap-open knife of less than four inches at the hearing. This weapon falls conveniently within the aviation-security guidelines pre-9/11.
"It is incomprehensible why this administration has refused to aggressively pursue the leads that our inquiry developed," fumes Senator Bob Graham, the former co-chairman of the inquiry, which ended in 2003. The Bush White House has ignored all but one or two of the joint inquiry's 19 urgent recommendations to make the nation safer against the next attempted terrorist attack. The White House also allowed large portions of the inquiry's final report to be censored (redacted), claiming national security, so that even some members of the current 9/11 commission, whose mandate was to build on the work of the congressional panel, cannot read the evidence.
Senator Graham snorted, "It's absurd."