F.A.A. Alerted on Qaeda in '98, 9/11 Panel Said
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: November 11th, 2006
American aviation officials were warned as early as 1998 that Al Qaeda could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark," according to previously secret portions of a report prepared last year by the Sept. 11 commission. The officials also realized months before the Sept. 11 attacks that two of the three airports used in the hijackings had suffered repeated security lapses. Federal Aviation Administration officials were also warned in 2001 in a report prepared for the agency that airport screeners' ability to detect possible weapons had "declined significantly" in recent years, but little was done to remedy the problem. The White House and many members of the commission...have been battling for more than a year over the release of the commission's report on aviation failures. A footnote that was originally deleted from the report showed that a quarter of the security screeners used in 2001 by Argenbright Security for United Airlines flights at Dulles Airport had not completed required criminal background checks. Much of the material now restored in the public version of the commission's report centered on the warnings the F.A.A. received about the threat of hijackings, including 52 intelligence documents in the months before the Sept. 11 attacks that mentioned Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. Richard Ben-Veniste, a former member of the Sept. 11 commission, said the release of the material more than a year after it was completed underscored the over-classification of federal material. "It's outrageous that it has taken the administration a year since this monograph was submitted for it to be released," he said.