NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TERRORIST ATTACKS UPON THE UNITED STATES
Friday, May 23, 2003
Hart Senate Office Building
PANEL 1: SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: THE ATTACKS AND THE RESPONSE
WITNESSES: SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION NORMAN MINETA; MAJOR GENERAL
CRAIG MCKINLEY, NORAD; MAJOR GENERAL LARRY ARNOLD, (RET.); COL. ALAN
SCOTT (RET.); LT. GENERAL MIKE CANAVAN (RET.), FORMER ASSOCIATE
ADMINISTRATOR, CIVIL AVIATION SECURITY
PANEL 2: REFORMING CIVIL AVIATION SECURITY: NEXT STEPS
WITNESSES: STEPHEN MCHALE, DPEUTY ADMINISTRATOR, TRANSPORTATION
SECURITY AGENCY; MAJOR GENERAL O.K. STEELE (RET.); MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER
INSPECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Yesterday the Commission received testimony from members of Congress
and from expert witnesses about the U.S. civil aviation security system
that operated in the period leading up to September 11, 2001.
Today we move forward with the first look at the 9/11
hijackings themselves and the security system's performance of that
day. Our final panelists will then address the changes which have been
made in aviation security since 9/11 and also options for further
improvements in the current system.
Before we proceed further, I want the record to be made
very clear that the Commission is intensely aware of any number of
reports indicating failures outside the area of the aviation security
system. These would include failures in intelligence, law enforcement
and border security, which may have played a major part in making 9/11
possible. The Commission has a statutory mandate and will be examining
those areas as well. They may even be the subject of future hearings.
Our focus today, however, is the field of civil aviation.
Today's first -- where we start, we pick up the story of the hijackings
on September 11th itself. How did the civil aviation security system
operate that day with respect to the 19 hijackers? What weapons and
tactics did they employ to defeat the system? Why couldn't we stop them
or, at least in the three out of four cases that reached their target,
prevented successful completion of their mission?
This hearing record will remain open for 14 additional
calendar days for any of the witnesses who want to to submit additional
material and perhaps for the commission to send follow-up questions.
We are very pleased with the group of witnesses who are
here today, particularly our first witness. And we're going to hear
from the secretary of Transportation, with a long record of public
service in the United States Congress, Secretary Mineta.
MR. MINETA: Thank you very much, Chairman Kean, Vice
Chairman Hamilton and distinguished members of the Commission, for this
opportunity to testify before you.
I want to compliment the Commission on its intention to
collect and provide the information on the circumstances surrounding
the tragedies of September 11th, 2001. I would like to provide the
Commission with a brief account of what happened on September 11th,
2001. I believe I can be most helpful to this Commission by providing
information in which I have personal knowledge and a few observations
from my perspective as Secretary of Transportation.
There are many events that occurred on September 11th that
I do not have personal knowledge of, though I have learned about them
in subsequent investigations and reports. I know this commission will
be speaking to the same agencies and individuals that provided me with
that information, so I will let the Commission collect that information
from those primary sources.
However, I do want to comment on what I believe is an
important responsibility of this commission, and that is to add to the
understanding of the American people about what we call terrorism and
the threat that it poses. I have seen terrorism in several forms and
from several vantage points over the years, as an intelligence officer
in the United States Army during the era of the Korean conflict, and in
Congress as one of the early members of the House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence. Like a mutating virus, I have seen terrorism
take different form over the years in an effort to defeat the
safeguards that have been devised to protect against it. And I believe
it is critical to recognize this important truth about terrorism: The
threat of terrorism is constant, but the nature of that threat changes,
because to be successful, terrorism must continually change how it
On Tuesday morning, September 11th, 2001, I was meeting
with the Belgian transport minister in my conference room adjacent to
my office, discussing aviation issues. Because of the agenda, FAA
Administrator Jane Garvey was also in attendance.
A little after 8:45 a.m., my chief of staff, John Flaherty,
interrupted the meeting. He asked Administrator Garvey and me to step
into my office, where he told me that news agencies were reporting that
some type of aircraft had flown into one of the towers of New York's
World Trade Center.
Information was preliminary, so we did not know what kind
of aircraft nor whether or not it was intentional. Jane Garvey
immediately went to a telephone and contacted the FAA operations
center. I asked to be kept informed of any developments and returned to
the conference room to explain to the Belgian prime minister that our
meeting might have to be postponed.
In an incident involving a major crash of any type, the
Office of the Secretary goes into a major information-gathering
response. It contacts the mode of administration overseeing whatever
mode of transportation is involved in the incident. It monitors press
reports, contacts additional personnel to accommodate the surge in
operations, and centralizes the information for me through the chief of
In major incidents, it will follow a protocol of
notification that includes the White House and other agencies involved
in the incident. These activities, albeit in the nascent stage of
information-gathering, took place in these initial minutes.
A few minutes after my return to the conference room, my
chief of staff again asked me to step back into my office. He then told
me that the aircraft was a commercial aircraft and that the FAA had
received an unconfirmed report that a hijacking of an American Airlines
flight had occurred.
While Mr. Flaherty was briefing me, I watched as a large
commercial jet flew into the second tower of the World Trade Center. At
this point things began to happen quickly. I once more returned to the
conference room and informed the minister of what had happened and
ended the meeting. I received a telephone call from the CEO of United
Airlines, Jack Goodman, telling me that one of United's flights was
missing. I then called Don Carty, the CEO of American Airlines, and
asked him to see if American Airlines could account for all of its
aircraft. Mr. Flaherty reported to me that Jane Garvey had phoned to
report that the CEO of Delta Airlines had called the FAA and said it
could not yet account for all of its aircraft.
During this time, my office activated the Department of
Transportation's crisis management center, which was located on the 8th
floor at that time of the Department of Transportation headquarters,
and provides for senior DOT personnel to conduct surge operations in a
By this time, my office had contacted the White House. A
brief moment later, the White House called my chief of staff and asked
if I could come to the White House and operate from that location. I
decided that, given the nature of the attack and the request, that I
should be at the White House directly providing the president and the
vice president with information.
When I got to the White House, it was being evacuated. I
met briefly with Richard Clark, a National Security Council staff
member, who had no new information. Then the Secret Service escorted me
down to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, otherwise known
as the PEOC. I established contact on two lines, one with my chief of
staff at the Department of Transportation, and the second with Monty
Belger, the acting deputy administrator of the FAA, and Jane Garvey,
both of whom were in the FAA operations center.
And as the minutes passed, the developing picture from air
traffic control towers and radar screens became increasingly more
alarming. Some aircraft could not be contacted. While on a normal day
that may be just a communications snafu, we were faced with trying to
quickly sort out minor problems from significant threats. We did not
know how many more attacks might be in progress.
The FAA began to restrict air travel in the Northeast
United States by a combination of actions which included sterilizing
air space in certain regions and at various airports, and ultimately a
nationwide ground stop of all aircraft for all locations, regardless of
Within a few minutes, American Flight 77 crashed into the
Pentagon. At this time, as we discussed the situation with the North
American Aerospace Defense commander and his staff, we considered
implementing an emergency system of coordinated air traffic management
to allow maximum use for defensive activities.
It was clear that we had to clear the air space as soon as
possible to stop any further attacks and ensure domestic air space was
available for emergency and defensive use. And so at approximately 9:45
a.m., less than one hour after I had first been notified of an airplane
crash in New York, I gave the FAA the final order for all civil
aircraft to land at the nearest airport as soon as possible. It was the
first shutdown of civil aviation in the history of the United States.
Within minutes, air traffic controllers throughout the
nation had directed 700 domestic and international flights to emergency
but safe landings. Within another 50 minutes, air traffic controllers,
working with skilled flight crews, made sure another 2800 airplanes
returned safely to the ground.
By shortly after noon, less than four hours after the
first attack, U.S. air space was empty of all aircraft except military
and medical traffic. A total of approximately 4500 aircraft were landed
without incident in highly stressful conditions. Additionally, all
international inbound flights were diverted from U.S. air space and
Unfortunately, during this time we also learned that United
Flight 93 crashed in Stony Creek Township, Pennsylvania. As America
knows, but it is important to keep repeating, that aircraft never
reached the terrorists' target due to the heroic actions taken by the
passengers and crew on United Flight 93.
A question has been asked whether or not there is evidence
that other hijackings and attacks were prevented by the actions that
were taken that day. There are classified reports, media reports and
investigative documents that indicate that other attacks may have been
planned. But the evidence on this question is speculative at best, and
I do not believe anyone can assert that other attacks were thwarted on
that day unless he or she is the one who either planned the attack or
planned to carry it out.
I also want to tell the Commission that although the focus
of this commission's interest is on the airplane crashes on September
11th, as secretary of the United States Coast Guard, I was involved
that day in the mass evacuation of more than 350,000 people from
Manhattan. In addition to the largest maritime evacuation conducted in
the history of the United States, our department's agencies were
working with the various New York authorities on the devastating
infrastructure damage suffered there.
Over the next few days, our department spent hours working
with various state, local and federal agencies to reopen roads,
tunnels, bridges, harbors and railroads while getting essential relief
supplies into the area. I have talked about the staff at the Department
of Transportation and how proud I am of how they responded on September
11th and in the days and the months afterward.
I also want to remark on the families, friends, the victims
of that tragic day and those who were injured physically and
emotionally. I share in much of their grief and heartache, although I
can never experience the depth of it. The consequences of September
11th affected all of America, but the greatest effect was on these
people. And I have spent a great deal of physical and emotional effort
this past year trying to make sure that what happened on that day does
not happen again.
We must do everything we can to try and prevent other
Americans from enduring the pain that these families and friends have
suffered. But in that work, we must never forget those families and
that pain and anguish. I know I don't. It helps me in the work I
continue to do. They are in my thoughts and prayers.
Thank you very much.
MR. KEAN: Thank you, Mr.
Secretary. When you were being prepared in the sense of preparing
yourself to take your role in the Cabinet, were you briefed in any way,
or what part of the possibility of terrorism occurring was part of your
preparation? I mean, as you've looked at all the vast things you have
to understand for your position, was the possibility of terrorism and
what you might have to do in the result of terrorism a large part of
that briefing, a small part of that briefing?
MR. MINETA: The nature of what was happening in the civil
aviation industry in the United States at that time did not put
terrorism high on the list of priorities. We were still dealing with
the whole issue of delays, of congestion, of capacity issues, and so
terrorism was really not something that I was prepared to deal with
except as it came up on that tragic day.
MR. KEAN: So you had to improvise, in a sense, based on what was happening and the news reports you were getting.
MINETA: Absolutely. And in terms of what motivated me to bring all the
aircraft down, as you see one thing happen, that's an accident. When
you see two of the same thing occur, it's a pattern. But when you see
three of the same thing occur, it's a program. And so at that point I
decided to bring all the aircraft down.
MR. KEAN: But in a sense, what I'm trying to get at, I
guess, is the government was really unprepared for this kind of event.
Nobody had anticipated it, this event or any kind of major terrorist
event. So this was not a major preparation. You weren't prepared. You
had to do your best under very difficult circumstances.
MR. MINETA: That's correct, sir.
There's been some confusion as to the issue of box cutters. You
testified, I gather, that as of September 11th, the FAA did not
prohibit box cutters, before Congress. Yesterday we got testimony from
the ATA that in checkpoint operation guides, box cutters were
classified as restricted items, which could be kept off an aircraft if
identified. What was the status of box cutters within the aviation
system as a whole, and certainly in Boston, where those checkpoints
MR. MINETA: The FAA regulation referred to blades of four
inches or greater as prohibited items. And so a box cutter was really
less than four inches. Now, on the other hand, the airline industry had
a guideline. And in that guideline, they did prohibit box cutters, as
it was in that guideline. But in the FAA regulations, that was not the
case. All they referred to was the length of the blade, and that was
four inches. And so under the FAA regulations, box cutters would have
been okay on an airplane.
MR. HAMILTON: Mr. Secretary, we're very pleased to have you
here this morning. I understand your time is short and you'll only be
able to spend a few minutes with us. We're grateful for the time that
you're able to make available. It might very well be that we'll have
some questions that we would want to submit to you in writing
MR. MINETA: And I will submit those to the Commission in writing.
HAMILTON: We thank you for that. I wanted to focus just a moment on the
Presidential Emergency Operating Center. You were there for a good part
of the day. I think you were there with the vice president. And when
you had that order given, I think it was by the president, that
authorized the shooting down of commercial aircraft that were suspected
to be controlled by terrorists, were you there when that order was
MR. MINETA: No, I was not. I was made aware of it during
the time that the airplane coming into the Pentagon. There was a young
man who had come in and said to the vice president, "The plane is 50
miles out. The plane is 30 miles out." And when it got down to, "The
plane is 10 miles out," the young man also said to the vice president,
"Do the orders still stand?" And the vice president turned and whipped
his neck around and said, "Of course the orders still stand. Have you
heard anything to the contrary?" Well, at the time I didn't know what
all that meant. And --
MR. HAMILTON: The flight you're referring to is the --
MR. MINETA: The flight that came into the Pentagon.
MR. HAMILTON: The Pentagon, yeah.
MINETA: And so I was not aware that that discussion had already taken
place. But in listening to the conversation between the young man and
the vice president, then at the time I didn't really recognize the
significance of that.
And then later I heard of the fact that the airplanes had
been scrambled from Langley to come up to DC, but those planes were
still about 10 minutes away. And so then, at the time we heard about
the airplane that went into Pennsylvania, then I thought, "Oh, my God,
did we shoot it down?" And then we had to, with the vice president, go
through the Pentagon to check that out.
MR. HAMILTON: Let me see if I understand. The plane that
was headed toward the Pentagon and was some miles away, there was an
order to shoot that plane down.
MR. MINETA: Well, I don't know that specifically, but I do
know that the airplanes were scrambled from Langley or from Norfolk,
the Norfolk area. But I did not know about the orders specifically
other than listening to that other conversation.
MR. HAMILTON: But there very clearly was an order to shoot commercial aircraft down.
MR. MINETA: Subsequently I found that out.
MR. HAMILTON: With respect to Flight 93, what type of information were you and the vice president receiving about that flight?
MR. MINETA: The only information we had at that point was when it crashed.
MR. HAMILTON: I see. You didn't know beforehand about that airplane.
MR. MINETA: I did not.
MR. HAMILTON: And so there was no specific order there to shoot that plane down.
MR. MINETA: No, sir.
MR. HAMILTON: But there were military planes in the air in position to shoot down commercial aircraft.
MR. MINETA: That's right. The planes had been scrambled, I believe, from Otis at that point.
MR. HAMILTON: Could you help me understand a little the division of responsibility between the FAA and NORAD on that morning?
MINETA: Well, FAA is in touch with NORAD. And when the first flight
from Boston had gone out of communications with the air traffic
controllers, the air traffic controller then notified, I believe, Otis
Air Force Base about the air traffic controller not being able to raise
that American Airlines flight.
MR. HAMILTON: A final question and then we'll let other
commissioners ask a question. And this is kind of a broad, sweeping
one. What worries you most about transportation safety today? What are
the most vulnerable points, do you think, in our transportation system
today? A lot of steps have been taken, obviously, to improve security,
a lot of progress made. What would be towards the top of your list? Or
would there be two or three items that worry you the most?
MR. MINETA: I would say today the most vulnerable would be
the maritime ports. With the number of containers coming into this
country, we really don't have a good handle on what's in those
containers. And to me that is one that we still haven't really been
able to put our hands on.
I know that the Transportation Security Agency is looking
and working on that matter diligently. But with the number of
containers that come off of ships every day, something like 16 million
a year, it's a formidable task.
MR. HAMILTON: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I understand the secretary's time is very tight now.
KEAN: I have one final question and then we'll go to Commissioner
Roemer. Is there one recommendation that you know of that's pending
now, either in the administration or in the Congress or other, that you
believe would be most important to making the traveling public feel
MR. MINETA: I suppose, in terms of aviation, I think that
we are probably as confident about the security relating to aviation
issues today in terms of where we were before the 11th of September and
improvements that were made subsequent to the 11th of September and in
terms of each month, each day it gets better.
But, again, I would go back to my maritime containers as
still the most vulnerable and the one that really needs the funding to
get to the bottom of that issue.
MR. KEAN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Commissioner Roemer.
MR. ROEMER: Nice to see you, Mr. Secretary, and nice to see you feeling better and getting around as well, too.
want to follow up on what happened in the Presidential Emergency
Operations Center and try to understand that day a little bit better.
You said, if I understood you correctly, that you were not in the room;
you were obviously coming from the Department of Transportation, where
you had been busy in a meeting in official business, but you had not
been in the room when the decision was made -- to what you inferred was
a decision made to attempt to shoot down Flight 77 before it crashed
into the Pentagon. Is that correct?
MR. MINETA: I didn't know about the order to shoot down. I
arrived at the PEOC at about 9:20 a.m. And the president was in
Florida, and I believe he was on his way to Louisiana at that point
when the conversation that went on between the vice president and the
president and the staff that the president had with him.
MR. ROEMER: So when you arrived at 9:20, how much longer
was it before you overheard the conversation between the young man and
the vice president saying, "Does the order still stand?"
MR. MINETA: Probably about five or six minutes.
ROEMER: So about 9:25 or 9:26. And your inference was that the vice
president snapped his head around and said, "Yes, the order still
stands." Why did you infer that that was a shoot-down?
MR. MINETA: Just by the nature of all the events going on
that day, the scrambling of the aircraft and, I don't know; I guess,
just being in the military, you do start thinking about it, an
intuitive reaction to certain statements being made.
MR. ROEMER: Who was the young man with the vice president?
MR. MINETA: Frankly, I don't recall.
ROEMER: And was there another line of communication between the vice
president -- and you said you saw Mr. Richard Clark on the way in. Was
Clark running an operations center as well on that day?
MR. MINETA: Dick was in the Situation Room.
MR. ROEMER: So there was the Situation Room making decisions about what was going to happen on shootdowns --
MR. MINETA: I don't believe they were --
MR. ROEMER: -- as well as the PEOC?
MINETA: I don't believe they were making any decisions. I think they
were more information-gathering from various agencies.
MR. ROEMER: Could it have been in the Situation Room where
somebody in the Situation Room recommended the shoot-down and the vice
president agreed to that?
MR. MINETA: Commissioner Roemer, I would assume that a
decision of that nature would have had to be made at a much higher
level than the people who were in the Situation Room.
MR. ROEMER: So take me through that. The Situation Room is
monitoring the daily minute-by-minute events and they find out that
Flight 77 is headed to the Pentagon. Somebody's got to be getting that
information. The Situation Room is then communicating with the PEOC and
saying, "We've got another flight that's on its way toward the
Pentagon. Here are the options." Then the vice president talks to the
president and says, "Here are the options; we have a shoot-down
recommendation. Do you agree, Mr. President?" Is that what happens?
MR. MINETA: Again, that would be speculation on my part as
to what was happening on that day, so I just wouldn't be able to really
answer that -- on that inquiry.
MR. ROEMER: I know, because you had been conducting official business, and I'm sure you were hurriedly on your way over there.
MR. MINETA: As I was listening --
ROEMER: I'm just trying to figure out how the Situation Room, which was
gathering the minute-by-minute evidence and information and talking
probably to a host of different people, and how they're interacting
with the PEOC and then how the PEOC is interacting with the president,
who is at that point on Air Force One, how a decision is made to shoot
down a commercial airliner.
And then would you say -- let's say we're trying to put
that part of the puzzle together. Then would your inference be that
they scrambled the jets to shoot down the commercial airliner, it
failed, and the commercial airliner therefore crashed into the
Pentagon, the jets were not able to get there in time to succeed in a
mission that they'd been tasked to do?
MR. MINETA: I'm not sure that the aircraft that were
scrambled to come up to the DC area from Norfolk were under orders to
shoot the airplane down. As I said, I just --
MR. ROEMER: But it was an inference on your part.
MINETA: It was an inference, without a doubt. And that's why, in
thinking about the United plane that went down in Pennsylvania, the
question that arose in my mind --
MR. ROEMER: Right away was "Was that shot down?" And did you ever get an answer to that?
MINETA: Yes, sir. The vice president and I talked about that. We then
made the inquiry of the Department of Defense. They then got back to us
saying, "No, it was not our aircraft."
MR. ROEMER: No shots were fired and no effort was made to shoot that down.
MR. MINETA: That's correct.
MR. KEAN: I'm going to go to another questioner.
MR. ROEMER: Thank you.
MR. KEAN: The secretary's time is limited. Commissioner Lehman.
LEHMAN: Mr. Secretary, I have one question, and that is, we had
testimony yesterday that there were many intelligence reports leading
up to 9/11 and actual plots uncovered to use aircraft as missiles.
Do you feel that the system set up to provide to you as
secretary of Transportation the latest intelligence bearing on your
responsibilities, such as that subject, was adequate before 9/11? If
not, have measures been taken to see that you are provided with the
best possible product on a daily basis as to threats to the broad range
of transportation assets under your purview? Could you comment on
before and after?
MR. MINETA: Well, I do get a daily briefing, intelligence
briefing. And I did during that time period, prior to the 11th of
September and subsequent to the 11th of September. And there's no doubt
that the nature of the intelligence data has improved.
And so -- but again, there was nothing in those
intelligence reports that would have been specific to anything that
happened on the 11th of September. There was nothing in the preceding
time period about aircraft being used as a weapon or of any other
terrorist types of activities of that nature. And so -- but I do get
briefings, and I think that since the 11th of September, 2001, the
nature of the briefings have improved.
MR. LEHMAN: Just to follow up, Mr. Secretary, given the
fact that there were, in the preceding couple of years, about half a
dozen novels and movies about hijackings being used as weapons and the
fact that there were reports floating around in the intelligence
community, did you personally think that that was a possibility, that
it could have happened? Or when it happened, did it just take you
totally by surprise? Because yesterday we had testimony from the former
FAA administrator that, in effect, it never entered her mind.
MR. MINETA: Well, I would have to, again, say that I had no
thought of the airplane being used as a weapon. I think our
concentration was more on hijackings. And most of the hijackings, as
they occur in an overseas setting, or the hijacking, if it were to be a
domestic one, was for the person to take over the aircraft, to have
that aircraft transport them to some other place. But I don't think we
ever thought of an airplane being used as a missile.
MR. LEHMAN: Given that there was so much intelligence, not
a specific plot, but of the possibility and the fact that some
terrorists had, in fact, started planning, wouldn't you view it as a
failure of our intelligence community not to tell the secretary of
Transportation that there was such a conceivable threat that the people
like the Coast Guard and FAA should be thinking about?
MR. MINETA: We had no information of that nature at all.
And as to whether that was a failure of the intelligence agencies, I
think it would have been just even for them hard to imagine.
MR. KEAN: Thank you. We recognize your time constraints. We have two more commissioners --
MR. MINETA: Absolutely.
MR. KEAN: -- who have questions. Commissioner Gorelick and then Commissioner Fielding.
GORELICK: Secretary Mineta, again, thank you for being here. We all
know that in the spring and summer of 2001, the intelligence community
was putting out reports of a, I would say, near-frantic level
suggesting that we were expecting there to be some type of terrorist
attack somewhere in the world -- we didn't know where, we didn't know
the modality, but a very high level of concern.
My first question to you -- and I'll just give them to you
all at once, is, one, were you called to any meeting or summoned at a
Cabinet level, or was there any sort of cross-functional group put
together across the government to say, What can we do as a government
to respond to this very heightened level of intelligence warning that
we are getting generally?
Second, even though in response to Commissioner Lehman's
questions you have indicated that this particular modality of attack
was not made known to you clearly, hijackings and use of aircraft,
bombings, bombs on aircraft, were a favorite tool, if you will, of
terrorists. Did you yourself do anything within the agencies under your
control to seek out mechanisms for being on alert and for heightening
our security in this period of reporting? What did you know, what was
anyone telling you, and what did you do in response?
MR. MINETA: First of all, on the first question I would
say, no, that we had no meetings of an interagency nature given the
nature of intelligence that you're describing. I think most of the
response at that time was to what you might call the chatter, because
the chatter is really just increased communication between people, but
nothing specific as to the nature of the kind of attack that might be
coming. We're at orange level now, and what prompted that was again
increased chatter. But it wasn't anything specific about the nature of
what the threat might be.
MS. GORELICK: Well, let me just contrast perhaps the
chatter, the same kind of chatter level right in advance of the
millennium. As I understand it, that information was widely
disseminated in the government. There were Cabinet-level and
sub-Cabinet-level meetings, and each agency essentially searched to do
what they could to harden our country against attacks. Now, clearly
when you don't know where the attack is coming from or what mode will
be used, it's difficult. But what I am asking essentially is: Did this
higher level of chatter, the what I believe to be a frantic quality to
the intelligence warnings, result in any action across the government,
and particularly in the area of transportation? I take it your answer
to that is no?
MR. MINETA: That's correct.
MR. KEAN: Commissioner Fielding.
FIELDING: Mr. Chairman, I would like further explanation of the
division of responsibility between the FAA and NORAD on the morning of
9/11, because there seems to be some confusion about that. I'd like the
secretary's views, but I'd be very happy in respect to his time to
submit that in writing to him.
MR. MINETA: All right, I'll submit that in writing.
MR. KEAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.
MR. MINETA: Very well. Thank you very much to the Commission.
MR. HAMILTON: Mr. Chairman?
MR. KEAN: Mr. Hamilton.
HAMILTON: I just wanted to be recognized for a moment to comment on a
headline really in The Washington Post that appeared this morning. The
headline states that a -- and I'm quoting it now -- "New Panel,
Independent of 9/11 Commission, Is Sought," end of quote. And I want to
observe that I don't see how it is possible to get that headline out of
the article. And the article really does not say anything at all about
a separate panel.
When I first saw the headline it occurred to me that maybe
I had attended a different meeting yesterday than The Washington Post
reporters and headline writers had attended. But I hope the Post will
see fit to prominently correct that headline which is quite erroneous.
MR. KEAN: Thank you very much. I would certainly agree.
I would like to have Major General Craig McKinley, commander, 1st Air Force, Continental U.S. NORAD, here representing NORAD.
MCKINLEY: Governor Kean, Congressman Hamilton and members of the
committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today on
behalf of the combatant commander, United States Northern Command and
North American Aerospace Defense Command, to provide testimony on the
events surrounding the events of September 11th, 2001, when our nation
was attacked from within by foreign terrorists using commercial
aircraft as weapons of mass destruction.
It is an honor to represent the thousands of men and women
from the Air National Guard, the active duty forces and the Air Force
Reserves still serving around the clock defending America from further
attacks in support of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. I
personally was inside the Pentagon on September 11th, and I personally
know what it feels like to be attacked by hostile forces. Although over
18 months have passed since that tragic day, our vigilance remains
focused. We have flown almost 30,000 airborne sorties in support of
Operation Noble Eagle in the continental United States alone.
Every day Americans and Canadians work side by side in
NORAD to defend North America. We have forged unprecedented
relationships with in the U.S. government, with federal agencies to
strengthen our ability to detect and defend against further attempts to
harm our nation from the air. We are now patterned with the new United
States North Command to extend and perfect our mission in both homeland
defense as well as civil support missions. We are proud to be a part of
this team focused on defending our nation against all threats, and
supporting our government in its role, primary role, of protecting its
First Air Force is a subordinate command of Air Combat
Command, and is responsible to the North American Aerospace Defense
Commander for the execution of the air defense mission to protect our
nation. First Air Force, as NORAD's continental United States NORAD
region, is responsible for the air defense of the continental United
States under the NORAD agreements.
I personally took command of 1st Air Force in the
continental United States's NORAD region on August 1st of 2002, and
then became the joint force air component commander for General
Eberhardt. This was 11 months after the attacks. I am pleased to say
today that when I saw the nature of your questions, that I asked
General Eberhardt's permission, and received it, to invite Major
General Retired Larry Arnold, the past commander of 1st Air Force, and
the commander on the day of the attacks, that led the command through
those trying days during and after the event. He is with us today, and
has volunteered to be part of this commission's hearings. I also asked
for probably the best subject matter expert I could find on the
chronology, the series of events that is so vital to this commission,
to be with us today with your concurrence to walk us through the NORAD
I also have with me today Major Don Arias to show you the
human nature of this. Don's brother, Adam, was killed in the South
Tower 2. He was talking to his brother at 8:59 on the 11th of
September, '01, and Mr. Arias is our public affairs officer. Please
stand up, Don.
I'd like to thank the Commission staff, especially Miles
Kara, for his help in preparing for this. The committee has posed many
questions regarding the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks. Our
intention is to provide the chronology first to the events leading up
to September 11th, as well as taking your questions to give you a
detailed look at how NORAD's response was made on 9/11, and any
subsequent questions you may have on our posture since. Mr.
Commissioner, that concludes my formal statement. The rest will be
provided for the record. And, with your indulgence, sir, I would like
Colonel Scott (ret.), Alan Scott, to walk you through the timeline.
MR. SCOTT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, commissioners. It is
my pleasure to be here with you today. General Arnold and I worked
together that day on September the 11th.
What I will walk you through here is a chronology of the
attacks, and I've presented it in a matrix form. And the only thing I
lay claim to is having studied all of the attacks and how they are
interwoven together. This was not a linear sequence of events where one
attack began and ended and then a second attack began and ended. This
was a coordinated, well-planned attack. We had multiple airplanes in
the air. The fog and friction of war was evidence everywhere in the
country, both on the civil side as well as the military side. And this
hopefully will show you how those interwoven events came about.
I will tell you the times on this chart come from our logs.
The time on the chart is the time that's in the log. It may not be the
exact time the event happened. It may be the time when the log-keeper
was advised or became aware of the event.
The first thing that happened in the morning related to the
events at 9:02, or I'm sorry 8:02 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, is when
American Airlines 11 took off out of Boston. American Airlines 11 was a
767, and it was headed, I believe, to Los Angeles. Fourteen minutes
later, also coming out of Boston Logan, United Airlines 175, a 757,
also headed to Los Angeles, took off out of Boston, and initially took
roughly the same ground track as American 11. Three minutes later,
American Airlines 77 took off out of Dulles here in Washington, also
headed to Los Angeles, and also a 757, and proceeded westbound toward
the West Coast. So now the first three airplanes are airborne together.
The first time that anything untoward, and this was gleaned from FAA
response, that anything out of the ordinary happened was at 8:20, when
the electronic transponder in American Airlines 11 blinked off if you
will, just disappeared from the screen. Obviously the terrorists turned
that transponder off, and that airplane, although it did not disappear
from the radarscope, it became a much, much more difficult target to
discern for the controllers who now only could look at the primary
radar return off the airplane. That was at 8:20.
At 8:40 in our logs is the first occasion where the FAA is
reporting a possible hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11. And the
initial response to us at that time was a possible hijacking had not
been confirmed. At that same moment, the F-15 alert aircraft at Otis
Air Force Base, Massachusetts, about 153 miles away, were placed
immediately on battle stations by the Northeast Air Defense Sector
commander. At 8:43, as this is going on, the fourth airplane, United
93, takes off out of Newark, New Jersey. It's a 757. It is headed for
San Francisco. At 8:46, our next log event, we get the last, and, by
the way, much of this radar data for these primary targets was not seen
that day. It was reconstructed days later by the 84th Radar Evaluation
Squadron, and other agencies like it who are professionals at going
back and looking at radar tapes and then given that they are loaded
with knowledge after the fact, they can go and find things that perhaps
were not visible during the event itself.
At 8:46, the last data, near the Trade Center,8:46, the
first impact on the Trade Center. At that minute is when the Otis F-15s
were scrambled. And, again, they were 153 miles away. And that scramble
came, and General Arnold, I am sure can address this, based on a
conversation between the Northeast Sector commander and himself. Those
F-15s were airborne in six minutes. That is well inside the time that
is allowed for them to get airborne. But because they were on battle
stations, the pilots were in the cockpits ready to start engines, that
scramble time was shortened by a significant amount of time.
At 8:53, that's a minute later, in the radar
reconstruction, we are now picking up the primary radar contacts off of
the F-15s out of Otis. At 8:57, which is seven minutes after the first
impact is, according to our logs when the FAA reports the first impact.
And about this time is when CNN coverage to the general public is
beginning to appear on the TV, not of the impact, but of the burning
towers shortly thereafter. So you can see what in the military I am
sure you have heard us talk to the fog and friction of war, and as the
intensity increases the lag tends to also increase for how quickly
information gets passed.
9:02 -- United 175, the second airplane, which by the way
never turned off its transponder before impact, crashes into the North
Tower at 9:02.
The distance of those fighters which had been scrambled out
of Otis, at that particular point they were still 71 miles away, about
eight minutes out, and going very fast.
At 9:05, FAA reports a possible hijack of United 175.
Again, that's three minutes after the impact in the tower. That's how
long it is taking now the information to flow through the system to the
command and control agencies and through the command and control
agencies to the pilots in the cockpit. At 9:09, Langley F-16s are
directed to battle stations, just based on the general situation and
the breaking news, and the general developing feeling about what's
going on. And at about that same time, kind of way out in the West, is
when America 77, which in the meantime has turned off its transponder
and turned left back toward Washington, appears back in radar coverage.
And my understanding is the FAA controllers now are beginning to pick
up primary skin paints on an airplane, and they don't know exactly
whether that is 77, and they are asking a lot of people whether it is,
including an a C-130 that is westbound toward Ohio. At 9:11 FAA reports
a crash into the South Tower. You can see now that lag time has
increased from seven minutes from impact to report; now it's nine
minutes from impact to report. You can only imagine what's going on on
the floors of the control centers around the country. At 9:11 -- I just
mentioned that -- 9:16, now FAA reports a possible hijack of United
Flight 93, which is out in the Ohio area. But that's the last flight
that is going to impact the ground.
At 9:24 the FAA reports a possible hijack of 77. That's
sometime after they had been tracking this primary target. And at that
moment as well is when the Langley F-16s were scrambled out of Langley.
At 9:25, America 77 is reported headed towards Washington,
D.C., not exactly precise information, just general information across
the chat logs; 9:27, Boston FAA reports a fifth aircraft missing, Delta
Flight 89 -- and many people have never heard of Delta Flight 89. We
call that the first red herring of the day, because there were a number
of reported possible hijackings that unfolded over the hours
immediately following the actual attacks. Delta 89 was not hijacked,
enters the system, increases the fog and friction if you will, as we
begin to look for that. But he lands about seven of eight minutes later
and clears out of the system.
At 9:30 the Langley F-16s are airborne. They are 105 miles
away from the Washington area; 9:34, through chat, FAA is unable to
precisely locate American Airlines Flight 77; 9:35, F-16s are reported
airborne. And many times, reported airborne is not exactly when they
took off. It's just when the report came down that they were airborne.
At 9:37 we have the last radar data near the Pentagon. And 9:40,
immediately following that, is when 93 up north turns its transponders
off out in the West toward Ohio, and begins a left turn back toward the
At 9:49, FAA reports that Delta 89, which had been reported
as missing, is now reported as a possible hijacking. So again he is --
MR.: That's 9:41, sir.
MR. SCOTT: I'm sorry, 9:41. Again, he is in the system. He is kind of a red herring for us.
the only thing that I would point out on this chart is this says 9:43,
American Airlines 77 impacts the Pentagon. The timeline on the impact
of the Pentagon was changed to 9:37 -- 9:43 is the time that was
reported that day, it was the time we used. And it took about two weeks
to discover in the parking lot of the Pentagon this entry camera for
the parking lot, which happened to be oriented towards the Pentagon at
the time of impact, and the recorded time is 9:37. And that's why the
timeline went from 9:43 to 9:37, because it is the best documented
evidence for the impact time that we have. Getting toward the end now,
9:47 is when Delta 89 clears the system by landing in Cleveland. So he
is not a hijack. Lots of things are going on now in the system as the
sectors begin to call both units that are part of 1st Air Force and
NORAD, as well as units that have nothing to do with us. We are
beginning to call everyone now and the 103rd Air Control Squadron, for
instance, stationed in Connecticut, is an air control squadron, a radar
squadron, and they got their radar online, operational, and begin to
link their radar picture into the Northeast system. They are not
normally part of NORAD. This is really the initial part of a huge push
the rest of that day to link as many radars in on the interior as we
can, and to get as many fighters on alert as we can.
At 10:02, United 93 last radar data and the estimated impact time for United 93 is 10:03.
10:07 FAA reports there may be a bomb on board 93 -- that's four
minutes after the impact. At 10:15 they report that it's crashed. And
you can see now that fog and friction lag time has increased from seven
minutes to nine minutes to 15 minutes, because of the level of
activities that are going on. And there are notations here about other
airplanes as we begin to divert other airplanes that are just out were
intended for training that day. We're picking up the phone, calling
Syracuse, the Air National Guard. They're beginning to get flights
airborne. They're beginning to arm those aircraft with whatever weapons
they have handy so we can posture that defense.
That is how the timeline unfolded. As you can see, it is a
fabric of interwoven actions. This is not just a linear event. So lots
of things going on, lots of activities, and lots of C2 centers. Sir,
that completes my piece.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Mr. Chairman, we thought right up front we'd
put that on the record so we can have that as a departure point for
your questions. I'd again caveat by saying that this is the North
American Aerospace Defense Command and continental NORAD region
timeline. Other agencies may have other logs that may have different
times. But this is the best and most accurate data that we could piece
together for your Commission, sir. With that, I open up to questions.
MR. KEAN: Thank you very much. Commissioner Ben-Veniste.
BEN-VENISTE: Good morning, gentlemen. First I would like to personally
commend each of you and the dedicated men and women who serve our
nation through NORAD. I'd like to explain to you what you probably know
already, and that is that our mandate as a commission is to provide the
most detailed and accurate exposition in our final report of what
occurred leading up to the 9/11 tragedy and the events subsequent
thereto. And so please understand that our questions may be very
pointed. We mean no disrespect, but we have our mission as well. Now,
General McKinley, is it fair to say that the mission and the primary
responsibility of NORAD is to defend our homeland and our citizens
against air attack?
GEN. MCKINLEY: On the day of September 11th, 2001, our
mission was to defend North America, to surveil, to intercept, to
identify, and if necessary to destroy, those targets which we were
posturing were going to come from outside our country. In fact, that
tracks originating over the landmass of the United States were
identified friendly by origin. Therefore those alert sites that were
positioned on the morning of September 11th were looking out primarily
on our coasts at the air defense identification zone, which extends
outward of 100 to 200 miles off our shore. So that was the main focus
of NORAD at the time.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: I asked you about your responsibilities,
sir, and I ask you again, whether it was not your responsibility as
NORAD to protect the United States and its citizens against air attack.
GEN. MCKINLEY: It is, and it was, and I would just caveat
your comment by saying that our mission was at that time not designed
to take internal FAA radar data to track or to identify tracks
originating within our borders. It was to look outward, as a Cold War
vestige, primarily developed during the Cold War, to protect against
Soviet long-range bomber penetration of our intercept zone.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Well, I think, sir, that you have used a
good term, not good for the United States, but accurate, in terms of
the vestigial mandate operationally to look outward toward the borders
rather than inward. And as vestigial you mean, I am sure, as a result
of our decades of confrontation with the former Soviet Union.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Correct, sir.
And so on the day of September 11th, as you can see these dots -- I
know it may be difficult to see -- NORAD was positioned in a perimeter
around the United States, but nothing in the central region, nothing on
the border with Canada?
GEN. MCKINLEY: That's correct, sir.
BEN-VENISTE: Now, let me ask you, sir, whether the concept of
terrorists using an airplane as a weapon was something unknown to the
intelligence community on September 10th, 2001.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Very good question, and I --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.
MCKINLEY: -- I asked our staff to provide me some data on what they had
that morning. As I said, General Arnold was at the helm that morning.
But basically the comments I received from my staff was that there was
no intelligence indication at any level within NORAD or DOD of a
terrorist threat to commercial aviation prior to the attacks. And
information from the daily Joint Chiefs intelligence report on the
morning of September 11th indicated no specific dangers or threats
within the country.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: My question, sir, and I mean no
disrespect, but we'll save time if you listen to what I ask you. My
question is: The concept of terrorists using airplanes as weapons was
not something which was unknown to the U.S. intelligence community on
September 10th, 2001, isn't that fair to say?
GEN. MCKINLEY: I'd like the intelligence community to
address that. I would find it hard to believe that they hadn't
speculated against that. But it was unavailable to us at the time.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Well, let's start, for example, with
September 12th, 1994, a Cessna 150L crashed into the South Lawn of the
White House, barely missing the building, and killing the pilot.
Similarly, in December of 1994, an Algerian armed Islamic group of
terrorists hijacked an Air France flight in Algiers and threatened to
crash it into the Eiffel Tower. In October of 1996, the intelligence
community obtained information regarding an Iranian plot to hijack a
Japanese plane over Israel and crash it into Tel Aviv. In August of
1988, the intelligence community obtained information that a group of
unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a
foreign country into the World Trade Center. The information was passed
on to the FBI and the FAA.
In September of 1998, the intelligence community obtained
information that Osama bin Laden's next operation could possibly
involve flying an aircraft loaded with explosives into a U.S. airport
and detonating it. In August 2001, the intelligence community obtained
information regarding a plot to either bomb the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi
from an airplane, or crash an airplane into it. In addition, in the
Atlanta Olympics, the United States government and the Department of
Justice and my colleague Jamie Gorelick were involved in planning
against possible terrorist attacks at the Olympics, which included the
potential of an aircraft flying into the stadium. In July 2001, the G-8
summit in Genoa, attended by our president, among the measures that
were taken were positioning surface-to-air missile ringing Genoa,
closing the Genoa airport and restricting all airspace over Genoa.
Was not this information, sir, available to NORAD as of September 11th, 2001?
MCKINLEY: It's obvious by your categorization that those events all
took place and that NORAD had that information. I would only add, sir,
that the intelligence data that we postured our forces for and the
training and the tactics and the procedures that we used to prepare our
missions for support of the combatant commander of NORAD had hijacking
as a primary intercept tactic. And we have some of the finest fighter
pilots, as you know in the world, who are some of the best people in
the world who can do their mission extremely well. But we had not
postured prior to September 11th, 2001, for the scenario that took
place that day.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Well, obviously it would be hard to
imagine posturing for the exact scenario. But isn't it a fact, sir,
that prior to September 11th, 2001, NORAD had already in the works
plans to simulate in an exercise a simultaneous hijacking of two planes
in the United States?
GEN. MCKINLEY: Colonel Scott, do you have any data on that? I'm not aware of that, sir. I was not present at the time.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: That was Operation Amalgam Virgo.
SCOTT: Yes, sir. Specifically Operation Amalgam Virgo, which I was
involved in before I retired, was a scenario using a Third World united
-- not united -- uninhabited aerial vehicle launched off a rogue
freighter in the Gulf of Mexico. General Arnold can back me up -- at
the time one of our greatest concerns was the proliferation of cruise
missile technology and the ability for terrorist groups to get that
technology, get it close enough to our shores to launch it. In fact,
this exercise -- in this exercise we used actual drone -- NQM-107
drones, which are about the size of a cruise missile, to exercise our
fighters and our radars in a Gulf of Mexico scenario.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: You are referring to Amalgam 01, are you not?
MR. SCOTT: Yes, sir, Amalgam 01.
BEN-VENISTE: I am referring to Amalgam 02, which was in the planning
stages prior to September 11th, 2001, sir. Is that correct?
MR. SCOTT: That was after I retired, and I was not involved in 02.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Will you accept that the exercise involved a simultaneous hijacking scenario?
MR. SCOTT: I was not involved in 02.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Sir, I do have some information on 02, if you would allow me to read it for the record.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Please.
MCKINLEY: Amalgam Virgo in general, 02, was an exercise created to
focus on peacetime and contingency NORAD missions. One of the peacetime
scenarios that is and has been a NORAD mission for years is support to
other government departments. Within this mission falls hijackings.
Creativity of the designer aside, prior to 9/11, hijack motivations
were based on political objectives -- i.e., asylum or release of
captured prisoners or political figures. Threats of killing hostages or
crashing were left to the script writers to invoke creativity and
broaden the required response for players.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Well, isn't that a bit fatuous given the
specific information that I've given you? It wasn't in the minds of
script writers when the Algerians had actually hijacked the plane,
which they were attempting to fly into the Eiffel Tower. And all of the
other scenarios which I mentioned to you. I don't mean to argue with
you. But my question is, sir, given the awareness of the terrorists use
of planes as weapons, how is it that NORAD was still focusing outward
protecting the United States against attacks from the Soviet Union or
elsewhere, and was not better prepared to defend against the hijacking
scenarios of a commercial jet laden with fuel used as a weapon to
target citizens of the United States? When you say our training was
vestigial, I think you said it in capsulated form. But would you agree
that on the basis of the information available that there could be,
could have been better preparedness by NORAD to meet this threat?
GEN. MCKINLEY: In retrospect, sir, I think I would agree with your comment.
BEN-VENISTE: With respect to the bases that were available for
protecting the East Coast, you -- and Colonel Scott has gone through
the scrambling of aircraft -- I wanted to focus just on one flight,
Flight 77, and then Secretary Lehman will ask you some more specific
questions. With respect to Flight 77, sir, you testified previously
before the House Armed Services Committee, and General Eberhardt was
questioned -- you are familiar with his testimony?
GEN. MCKINLEY: Yes, sir.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Okay.
He was questioned about Flight 77, and because of the use of Langley
Air Base, which is 105 miles from our capital, as opposed to, say,
Andrews Air Force Base, which is in the neighborhood, the question
arises again about the positioning and the thought behind the
positioning of fighter planes to protect our capital in an enhanced
terrorist situation such as existed on September 10th, September 9th,
Let me ask you about Flight 77 again. The question was the
timeline we have been given is that at 8:55 on September 11th American
Airlines Flight 77 began turning east away from its intended course,
and at 9:10 Flight 77 was detected by the FAA radar over West Virginia
heading east. That was after the two planes struck the Trade Center
towers. Is that correct, Colonel Scott?
MR. SCOTT: Yes, sir.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Now, 15
minutes later, at 9:25, the FAA notified NORAD, according to this
statement, that Flight 77 was headed toward Washington. Was that the
first notification, 9:25, that NORAD or DOD had that Flight 77 was
probably hijacked? And, if it was, do you know why it took 15 minutes
for FAA to notify NORAD? General Eberhardt said, "Sir, there's one
minor difference: I saw it as 9:24, which you do as well, that we were
notified, and that's the first notification we received." "Do you know
if that was the first notification to DOD?" "Yes, sir, that's the first
documented notification that we received." And I want to focus on the
word "documented," because it's very important for us to know when
NORAD actually received notification, given the fact that planes had
already crashed into the World Trade Center, and given I am sure the
assumption that these were terrorist acts and there could be more
coming, more planes coming.
Is it in fact correct, sir, that the first notification of
any type that NORAD received was not until 9:24 with respect to Flight
GEN. MCKINLEY: With your concurrence, sir, I would like to
ask General Arnold to address that. He was on the floor that morning.
GEN. ARNOLD: Thank you. The simple answer to your question
is I believe that to be a fact: that 9:24 was the first time that we
had been advised of American 77 as a possible hijacked airplane. Our
focus -- you have got to remember that there's a lot of other things
going on simultaneously here, was on United 93, which was being pointed
out to us very aggressively I might say by the FAA. Because our radars
looking outward and not inward, the only way for us to know where
anything was was for the FAA to pass along that information to us.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Well, is it not the case, General Arnold,
that there was an open line established between FAA, NORAD and other
agencies, including CIA and FBI, that morning?
GEN. ARNOLD: Well, I wasn't on that line at that particular
time if that were the case. In fact, there is an open line established
between our sectors at really the tactical level where they are
controlling the aircraft talking to the FAA controllers from time to
time. We did not have an open line at that time with the FAA. That is
MR. BEN-VENISTE: You did not. You were not -- NORAD was not in contact --
ARNOLD: The continental United States NORAD region, my headquarters,
responsible for the continental United States air defense, did not have
an open line with the FAA at that time.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Was there some NORAD office that had an open line with the FAA --
GEN. ARNOLD: Our --
BEN-VENISTE: Excuse me. Let me finish my question, please. Was there
some NORAD office -- and you'll forgive us because we had asked for
this information prior to the hearing from FAA and did not receive it
-- but we are advised that there was indeed an open line between either
the net or some other name given to a -- essentially an ongoing
conference where under, in real time, FAA was providing information as
it received it, immediately after the first crash into the Towers, we
were told, with respect to each of the events that were ongoing of any
remarkable nature? I see General McKinley is nodding.
GEN. MCKINLEY: I'd like to, if I may, address this, based
on my research and review for this commission. It's my understanding
that the FAA was in contact with our Northeast Air Defense Sector at
Rome, New York. Understanding the relationship of how we defend North
America from threats, NORAD located in Peterson Air Force Base,
Colorado Springs, our continental NORAD region, our air operations
center located at Tindel Air Force Base in Florida -- that's where the
joint force air component commander resides. And then we have three
sectors based on the size and volume of our country that handle that.
It is my understanding from talking with both FAA and our supervisors
at the Northeast Air Defense Sector in Rome, that those lines were open
and that they were discussing these issues.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: So, is it fair to say that at least the
NORAD personnel in Rome, New York, had information available to it in
real time once it saw -- and we were advised that this occurred at
9:02, which was then 22 minutes earlier that Flight 77 first was
observed deviating from its course, something which in the context of
what was going on that day would be quite interesting, if not
remarkable? Colonel Scott, any comments?
MR. SCOTT: Sir, I think it's also important to understand
that like the CONUS region, the FAA is also broken down into
subordinate command and control centers as well. I know that the Boston
center was talking directly to the Northeast sector. I don't believe
Flight 77 was in Boston Center's airspace. They were in Cleveland.
GEN. MCKINLEY: I think the FAA can report accurately on
this, but I believe 77 was in Cleveland Center airspace when it
developed the problem where they lost its radar image. And I believe --
and the FAA again can testify better to this -- they would take action
based on losing that identification in Cleveland.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Well, actually I think according to the
information that we have, the first indication was not a loss of radar
contact but rather a course deviation with respect to Flight 77.
Now, I don't mean to take up any more time on this, because
we are going to want to follow up on all of this information in great
detail. But let me ask whether there is regularly made a tape recording
of these open-line communications.
GEN. ARNOLD: (?) Not to my knowledge.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Not to my knowledge.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Does FAA to your knowledge keep a recording of these crisis situations?
GEN. ARNOLD: (?) I am unaware, but I would certainly direct that to them, please.
BEN-VENISTE: To the best of your knowledge, you don't have anything
further to shed light on when you first learned -- you, NORAD -- first
learned of Flight 77's probable hijack status prior to 9:24 a.m.?
GEN. ARNOLD: (?) I can provide that for the record. I do not have any further knowledge at this time.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: We would ask that you do so.
GEN. ARNOLD: (?) Yes, sir.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will have some other questions after.
MR. KEAN: Secretary Lehman.
LEHMAN: Thank you. General, I would also like to echo my colleagues'
expression of great admiration for you and your predecessor, your
command and your pilots, even though they might require long runways to
GEN. MCKINLEY: We understand.
MR. LEHMAN: One
of the most serious responsibilities we have in addition to air
security is identifying the real dysfunctions in our intelligence
system that contributed to the tragedy. And we had prior as you know to
your testimony Secretary Mineta, who indicated despite the fact of this
long litany of events and intelligence reports of the growing
probability that aircraft would be used as weapons, nothing ever got to
him, and nothing apparently got to you, and I assume, General Arnold,
nothing got to you. This would seem to be a pretty significant failure
of our system, because it exists to provide product precisely to you,
the most important users tasked with defending it. So I would like to
ask -- we'll provide you a copy of this, which is from the Joint
Inquiry staff statement -- if you could give us your studied assessment
of what went wrong in the way you interact with, your command interacts
with the intelligence community, and why the product did not get to
you. These were pretty dramatic events, facts and intelligence reports.
It would be very helpful to us to have your assessments as a customer
of the system to what went so seriously wrong that you were still only
There's another, an issue that I would ask perhaps General
Arnold to address, because there's a great deal of unease and distress,
I think understandably, among many of the families that somehow those
aircraft should have been shot down if people had not made mistakes.
And I wonder if you would just take us through each flight, given the
posture that NORAD was in at the time, which was national policy and
not whatever based on erroneous intelligence perhaps. But given that
posture and given the times that NORAD was notified of the deviation
from -- the possibility of hijacking, could the aircraft on alert for
instance at Otis have intercepted? And then if you could also take us
through 77 and 93 as well with the F-16s, which -- and if you would
tell us as you take us through what the armament was on the F-15s and
the F-16s that were scrambled against 77 and 93.
GEN. ARNOLD: Thank you, sir, and I will try to do that to
the best of my ability. And perhaps General McKinley has some data that
he could shed light on, because I have been retired a little while, and
do not have access to the staff for some of the very specifics on that.
But I will try to do my best.
As you know from previous testimony from General Eberhardt
to Congress, we were in the middle of a NORAD exercise at that
particular time, which means that basically our entire staff was
focused on being able to do the air operations center mission, which
was our job to do. We had just come out of a video teleconference with
the NORAD staff and with our folks at that particular time, when I was
handed a note that we had a possible hijacking at Boston center, and it
had come from the Northeast Air Defense Command, Colonel Bob Mahr (ph),
who is commander up there, and he had requested that I call him
immediately. And I was upstairs in our facility, immediately went
downstairs, picked up the phone, asking on the way to my staff, "Is
this part of the exercise?" Because quite honestly, and frankly we do
do hijacking scenarios as we go through these exercises from time to
time. But I realized that it was not. This was real life.
And I also remembered as I went downstairs, before I even
talked to him, that it had been a long time since we had had a
hijacking, but the fact that we had reviewed the procedures of what it
is we do for a hijacking, because we were in the middle of an exercise.
So we were pretty well familiar with those procedures, and of course we
have our own checklist that we follow.
As I picked up the phone, Bob told me that Boston Center
had called possible hijacking within the system. He had put the
aircraft at Otis on battle stations, wanted permission to scramble
them. I told them to go ahead and scramble the airplanes and we'd get
permission later. And the reason for that is that the procedure --
hijacking is a law enforcement issue, as is everything that takes off
from within the United States. And only law enforcement can request
assistance from the military, which they did in this particular case.
The route, if you follow the book, is they go to the duty officer of
the national military center, who in turn makes an inquiry to NORAD for
the availability of fighters, who then gets permission from someone
representing the secretary of Defense. Once that is approved then we
scramble aircraft. We didn't wait for that. We scrambled the aircraft,
told them get airborne, and we would seek clearances later. I picked up
the phone, called NORAD, whose battle staff was in place because of the
exercise, talked to the deputy commander for operations. He said, you
know, "I understand, and we'll call the Pentagon for those particular
clearances." It was simultaneous almost for that decision that we made
that I am looking at the TV monitor of the news network and see a
smoking hole in what turned out to be the North Tower of the World
Trade Center, wondering, What is this? And like many of us involved in
that, Does it have anything to do with this particular incident? Which
we didn't think it did, because we were talking Boston Center, and we
were not thinking of the immediate New York metropolitan area. Shortly
after that, of course our airplanes became airborne. It just so happens
that Colonel Duffy, who was a pilot of that first F-15, had been
involved in some conversation because, as telephone calls were made, he
was aware that there was a hijacking in the system. It's kind of
interesting because he concluded that that indeed might have been that
airplane himself, and [he]elected to hit the afterburner and to speed
up his way towards New York.
It was then very shortly thereafter that we saw on
television the second airplane, United 175, crash into the South Tower.
And the first thing that I think most of us felt was, was this a rerun
of the first event? And then it turned out to be the second event. We
had no warning of that whatsoever. In fact, that airplane was called
possibly hijacked later on, which as General McKinley referred to, as
the fog and friction of war, actually caused further confusion, because
we were not aware which aircraft actually crashed into the towers. We
just knew that by now we had two airplanes that have crashed into the
towers. We have two airplanes that are called hijacked. Again, we are
still minutes away -- I think the record said eight minutes away from
New York City with F-15s that are moving very rapidly in that
Now we have, before I get to 77, if it were, we get a call of United Flight 93.
LEHMAN: Before you go to that, I just wanted to just make -- there was
no possibility given the lateness with which you were notified from FAA
of a possible hijacking that those airplanes in full after burner
flying supersonic could have gotten there in time to intercept either
of those two flights. Is that correct?
GEN. ARNOLD: That's correct. That's correct. The first
aircraft, of course, American 11, crashed before our interceptors were
airborne. We ordered the scramble almost simultaneously; our records
show the same minute. I'm not even sure which occurred first, but it
was almost simultaneous that we ordered the scramble of the aircraft,
and the impact into the North Tower had occurred. And so by the time
even the pilot accelerating to 1.5 mach, moving pretty fast, was still
eight minutes out by the time the second aircraft had crashed into the
tower. And though when the second aircraft crashed into the tower, by
now, you know, I think Secretary Mineta said, this becomes a pattern
certainly. I would like to tell you that I was absolutely certain at
that time that we were under an attack, but I was not absolutely
certain we were under attack at that particular time. But we knew that
this pattern had to be dealt with at that particular time. And then
very shortly thereafter we got a call from on the United 93 flight
being a possible hijacking. And that aircraft, as you -- well, I don't
know if you know, but it wandered around. That aircraft wandered around
and flew up over the northern part of Pennsylvania and Ohio. Mixed in
with this was a call about a Delta flight that was possibly hijacked.
So now our focus is we are under attack. What are we going to do in
order to be in position to intercept another aircraft should it
threaten someplace in the United States? That place of course, we would
In the Northeast at this particular time we had no other
aircraft available. The aircraft out of Otis had taken off. We looked
at aircraft that were returning from a Michigan, an Air Michigan
National Guard aircraft returning from the range, because at one time
we thought either the Delta flight or the United 93 might pose a threat
to Detroit. We tried to get airplanes airborne out of the Toledo Air
National Guard at that particular time. Can you get anything airborne?
Because we have this United 93 and this Delta. We need to intercept it
and see what is going on with those particular aircraft.
Syracuse, New York Air National Guard unit -- we inquired
with them, their ability to get airborne, and ultimately they did
somewhat later at that particular time.
And so in the record you see the time when we were notified
of the American Flight 77 as being a possible hijack. And I can tell
you that I did not know, and I don't believe anybody in the NORAD
system, knew where that airplane was. We were advised it was possibly
hijacked. And we had launched almost simultaneously with that, we
launched the aircraft out of Langley to put them over top of
Washington, D.C., not in response to American Airline 77, but really to
put them in position in case United 93 were to head that way. They were
the closest fighters we had, and we started vectoring them to move
towards the Washington, D.C. area, to --
MR. LEHMAN: Did they also go into burner?
GEN. ARNOLD: No, sir.
MCKINLEY: Sir, they, based on their configuration, traveled at .98
Mach, roughly 575 knots, 660 miles per hour, about 10 nautical miles
MR. LEHMAN: If they had gone into burner, could they have gotten there in time to get 77?
ARNOLD: I think if those aircraft had gotten airborne immediately, if
we were operating under something other than peacetime rules, where
they could have turned immediately toward Washington, D.C., and gone
into burner, it is physically possible that they could have gotten over
MR. LEHMAN: Why did they head out to sea first?
ARNOLD: Our standard -- we have agreements with the FAA, and by the way
we are looking outward. This is an advantage to us, and so we'd have
agreements for clearance. When we scramble an aircraft, there is a line
that is picked up, and the FAA and everyone is on that line. And the
aircraft take off and they have a predetermined departure route. And of
course, it's not over water, because our mission, unlike law
enforcement's mission, is to protect things coming towards the United
States. And I might even add in all of our terrorist scenarios that we
run, the aircraft, if we were to intercept aircraft, it is usually
always from outside the United States coming towards us.
So our peacetime procedures, to de-conflict with civil
aviation's, so as to not have endanger civil aviation in any particular
GEN. MCKINLEY: Secretary Lehman, also if I may add, the
complexity of the air traffic over the Northeast corridor is so complex
that to just launch fighters, as you know, sir, from your background,
into that air traffic system can cause potential damage or midair
collision. So we rely on the FAA to de-conflict those corridors. And
that is another reason why it vectored east originally.
MR. LEHMAN: The armament on the F-15s and the F-16s was?
ARNOLD: The armament, as I recall, and General McKinley can correct me
on that, we had full-up armament on all those aircraft with both radar
and heat-seeking missiles as well as guns.
GEN. MCKINLEY: AIM -7,-8,-9.
MR. LEHMAN: So, to
continue with 77, it's fair to say if you had got a more timely
notification from FAA, and particularly with regard to where it was
heading, that those F-16s launched from Langley could possibly have
gotten there before they hit the Pentagon?
GEN. ARNOLD: It is certainly physically possible that they
could have gotten into the area. And the speculation is as to whether
we could actually have intercepted the aircraft by that time, because
everything that we were doing, remember, was being relayed from the
FAA. We had no visibility on those aircraft -- couldn't see, we had no
radars, couldn't talk to our pilots. FAA did a marvelous job during
that period of time in doing radio relays and assisting us with being
able to control them.
MR. LEHMAN: Now, had 93 not crashed, would it not have been
possible for the F-16s to have intercepted 93, and do you think they
GEN. ARNOLD: It was our intent to intercept United Flight
93. And in fact my own staff, we were orbiting now over Washington,
D.C. by this time, and I was personally anxious to see what 93 was
going to do, and our intent was to intercept it. But we decided to stay
over Washington, D.C., because there was not that urgency. And if there
were other aircraft coming from another quadrant, another vector, we
would have been pulled off station, and we would not have been able to
-- there might have been an aircraft that popped up within the system
closer that would have posed a larger threat to the Washington, D.C.
area. So we elected to remain over D.C. until that aircraft was
definitely coming towards us. And, as you know, the brave men and women
who took over that aircraft prevented us from making the awful decision
which the young men that were flying those aircraft would have lived
with for the rest of their lives if they had to do that.
MR. LEHMAN: In a short answer, why with the previous
attempt of a light plane to hit the White House, wasn't Andrews Air
Force Base with F-16s and Marine F-18s available, part of the alert?
And I understand, and I'd also like to have you comment on what the
role of the Secret Service was in scrambling those F-16s.
GEN. ARNOLD: Are you talking about scrambling the --
MR. LEHMAN: Andrews --
ARNOLD: The Andrews airplanes. It is my understanding that the Secret
Service -- obviously they work with the 113th, because the president's
Air Force One is located out at Andrews Air Force Base. So they had
personal knowledge of those, of the people out there and the telephone
number, and were-I cannot speculate whether they knew what we were
doing or not, but in the urgency to get something done they made a
phone call to the 113th, I learned later -- I did not know that at the
time -- and asked them to get anything they could airborne, and I think
the quote was "to protect the House."
GEN. MCKINLEY: And the 113th is the 113th Fighter Wing at Andrews, the District of Columbia Air National Guard F-16 Wing.
GEN. ARNOLD: And not part of NORAD.
LEHMAN: Now, you said that the clear delineation was you were looking
outward, and to do anything inward you had to get authorization from a
law enforcement agency. And that is covered, as I understand it, by JCS
instruction 3610 on aircraft piracy. In that instruction, as I read it,
which I believe is still in effect --
GEN. MCKINLEY: That's correct, sir.
-- you don't have any delegated authority to interdict. In fact, there
is no mention of interdiction, and it's purely an escort function. This
is still in effect. Now, presumably you are not following it to the
letter, and I would like you to speak to what the chain of command is
now. Who has authority to interdict, to shoot down, where is it
delegated, and are there published rules of engagement as to what
criteria apply to make that decision?
GEN. MCKINLEY: Sir, I'd be happy to answer that, and I
thank General Arnold for the comments about the actual data. I
appreciate him being here today. Quite frankly, sir, since September
11th, 2001, the Department of Defense, United States Air Force has put
a lot of resources into what we call Operation Noble Eagle. As
President Bush said, it's the second front on the war on terrorism.
And, as I said in my opening remarks, we have flown 30,000 sorties. In
fact overhead today here our Noble Eagle pilots are flying, in addition
to being supplanted with ground-based air defense artillery.
A lot of effort has gone into taking a look at the things
that were not done right prior to prepare ourselves for the aftermath.
And it is an honor for me to represent the men and women who do that.
Quite frankly, our relationships began at 9/11, and the
aftermath, with General Arnold and our staff to work with the Federal
Aviation Administration to bring in those radar facilities so our
controllers at our Northeast, Southeast and Western Air Defense sectors
had visibility internally now. And that has been completed. In addition
to seeing internally to the United States, we must be able to
communicate to the pilots who fly our interceptor missions, so we can
have clear lines of control back to our command element, General
Eberhart, in Colorado Springs.
MR. LEHMAN: Just to interrupt now, on the radar visibility,
are you dependent on the FAA radars, which can have very little
capability in a non-transponder environment, or can you, do you have
the better air defense radar?
GEN. MCKINLEY: Sir, we try to put the best radars in effect
for the mission. Most of those are FAA radars. Most of them are old
radars, but they've been maintained properly, and we are actually
putting Department of Defense people out to make sure those radars are
calibrated for our mission. So therefore we are using their radars. We
are using air control squadrons, both active duty Guard and Reserve, to
supplement those. We in fact use the United States Navy every chance we
can, because their Aegis cruisers are so capable that we link their
pictures into our air combat command center at Tindel. So we are doing
the absolute best job with the resources we have been given to make
sure that internal picture now is transparent to our air battle
managers, so that military controllers, when asked now, can pinpoint
immediately an aircraft in distress, that we can find the nearest
suitable fighter location, which I can say is substantial today. In
open testimony I would not like to go into the details of the numbers
of alert facilities, but it goes up and down depending on the threat.
It is internal now to the United States, which it wasn't on the 11th of
So this capacity, this Operation Noble Eagle, which gives
the military far more responsibility and latitude to do this mission
now, has allowed us to be far more capable. And we have been involved
in every airline incident that we have been asked to perform with, with
the Federal Aviation Administration subsequent to 9/11, whether there
be a disturbance onboard, whether it be an aircraft emergency, whether
it be to protect critical infrastructure, our major population centers.
We are there.
MR. LEHMAN: To follow up on that, General Arnold, did you
have authority to shoot down 93 when it was heading towards Washington?
And where did you get it?
GEN. ARNOLD: A lot of discussion on that. Our intent on
United 93 -- the simple answer is, to my knowledge, I did not have
authority to shoot that aircraft down. We were informed after the
airplane had already hit the ground. That's the simple answer.
MS. GORELICK: I'm sorry, could you say that again? You were informed of what after it hit the ground?
ARNOLD: We were informed of presidential authority some five minutes
after that aircraft had hit the ground, according to our records.
MR. LEHMAN: So you were given it after the fact, presidential authority to shoot it down?
ARNOLD: To my knowledge. Now, I can tell you that in our discussion
with the NORAD staff at that particular time that we -- you know, we
intended to intercept that aircraft at some point in time, attempted to
deviate that aircraft away from the Washington, D.C. area. There was
discussion at that particular time whether or not that aircraft would
be shot down. But we, I did not know of presidential shoot down
authority until after that aircraft had crashed.
MR. LEHMAN: Mmm-hmm. And, General McKinley, could you take us to the present and where those authorities lie now?
MCKINLEY: Yes, sir. Subsequent to 9/11, the president delegated to the
secretary of Defense, delegated to the combatant commander at NORAD,
and now United States Northern Command, has the authority to declare a
hostile target. Our fighter interceptors will be in position to accept
that hostile declaration, and the clearance authorities will be passed
up to the highest authority. We have improved our communications
equipment. We have secure telephones that allow us to contact
immediately the powers in the chain of command. And I, as the joint
force air component commander, have delegated emergency authority in
the very rare occasion where a telephone fails or we cannot get
authority, and under emergency powers can exercise that authority. So
the clearances now are in place. General Eberhart is in place in
Colorado Springs, or his designated representative. We exercised this
in real world, not exercise, probably between eight and 15 times a
week. So it's been well documented. Any national security event will
bring together the forces and those lines of communication are open
now. Clearances are there.
MR. LEHMAN: Thank you. As you know, our rules of engagement
are many V-1, so I will take rest and let my colleagues go at you.
MR. KEAN: Commissioner Ben-Veniste.
BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Following up on this shootdown
authority, General Arnold, from what source did you receive the
GEN. ARNOLD: I did not receive shootdown authority.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: You say it was received subsequent to the crash of 93?
GEN. ARNOLD: Yes, that's correct.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: From what source was that received?
ARNOLD: It was passed down to us from the NORAD, from Cheyenne
Mountain, that they had received shootdown authority. And then, you
know, the timeframe escapes me at the moment, but you know for example
over the Washington, D.C. area it was declared a no-fly zone by clear
-- just by the fact that any aircraft was present, if we could not
determine if that aircraft was friendly, then we were cleared to shoot
that aircraft down.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: When was the declaration of no-fly zone authorized?
GEN. ARNOLD: I don't know. It was shortly during that timeframe.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: So are you saying that that declaration gave you shootdown authority?
ARNOLD: It gave us -- that particular declaration that I am referring
to is a class bravo airspace within the Washington, D.C. area that was
shut down to aviation, except for military or for law enforcement
emergency response aircraft at that particular time.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: To help me understand, does it mean once
that condition exists, that unless you were able to determine that this
was a friendly aircraft, which under the circumstances I suppose means
under the control of the terrorists at that time making it an
unfriendly aircraft, that you had authority --
GEN. ARNOLD: That's correct.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: -- by whatever means to bring that down?
GEN. ARNOLD: Yes. The --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: At what time during this process was that order issued, and who issued it?
ARNOLD: I do not know who issued it. It is my understanding it was
issued by the president, or the vice president in his stead, that that
order was issued. And it was issued around the time that we decided to
put all the aircraft on the ground, as Secretary Mineta had referred
to, at that particular time. So --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: We would ask you to supplement your
testimony today with specific information about that. At what point
was, to the best of your knowledge, any order received from either the
president or the vice president of the United States with respect to
action to be taken by the military in connection with the ongoing
GEN. ARNOLD: It was my understanding that that occurred,
the direct communication, to me. I can't answer if it was done at a
higher level at some point in time around five minutes after the United
93 had crashed into Pennsylvania.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: And so you will be able to check the
records of NORAD generally, or the DOD generally, to find out when a
presidential directive was issued?
GEN. ARNOLD: I am sure General McKinley will do that for me.
BEN-VENISTE: Thank you. And if I understand the context of what you
said about closing the perimeter around Washington, the president's
directive or the vice president's directive would have been moot,
because of the prior order, which would have enabled you to shoot down
an unfriendly plane in that sector?
GEN. ARNOLD: We developed a certain -- I guess the short
answer again, that is correct. But it's very specifically in the
Washington, D.C. area by presence that aircraft was hostile unless we
could determine it was friendly.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Let me go to the issue again to revisit
Flight 77, because as we understand it, tragically, it appears that
that was the only plane which reached its intended target which might
have been interdicted that day, if everything had gone right. Are you
in agreement with that?
GEN. ARNOLD: I think, from a physics perspective, yes.
BEN-VENISTE: Let's go beyond physics for a moment, and let me ask you
about the planes which were scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: No, from Andrews
Air Force Base by the Secret Service of the United States. Who gave the
order to scramble jets -- F-16s also, I believe -- out of Andrews?
GEN. ARNOLD: It's my understanding that the Secret Service
requested that they launch anything they could to get them airborne.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Of whom did they make that request?
ARNOLD: I'm not sure if it's General Dave Worley (ph), and I think they
actually talked to him. And I did not know this at time of course, but
they called him up and said, What do you have that you can get
airborne? He had some airplanes returning from the range on training
MR. BEN-VENISTE: What would be the flight time from Andrews Air Force Base of two F-16s to the Pentagon?
GEN. ARNOLD: From the time they were notified?
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Yes.
ARNOLD: Probably 15 to 20 minutes, because it takes about 10 minutes to
get airborne, and they are not set up on alert or scrambled. In fact,
it could have taken, f they didn't have any airplanes immediately ready
to go, it could have taken them 20, 30 minutes.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: And under the circumstances --
ARNOLD: They already had airplanes airborne. By the time those
airplanes were airborne we had airplanes over Washington, D.C.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Right. Now if the order had been given to
Andrews, even simultaneously with the order that you gave to scramble
your planes, is it not fair to say that those planes would have reached
the Pentagon sooner?
GEN. ARNOLD: They might have, but they would have been unarmed.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Sir, what would be my comment, sir, is those aircraft are not prepped or built up for that mission.
BEN-VENISTE: And in fact we have received reports that are almost
incredible in terms of the bravery of the two pilots who went up that
day in unarmed aircraft with the mission, I presume authorized
somewhere in the executive, to use their airplanes to bring down Flight
77 or 93 if they could interdict them. That means to clip their wings,
crash into them, perhaps the pilots at the risk of their own lives. Is
GEN. MCKINLEY: Sir, as I evacuated the Pentagon that
morning, as I came out the river entrance and looked up, virtually
simultaneously those F-16s coming back from the range had been
airborne, had dropped their weapons, were returning low on fuel -- were
visible to 10 to 15,000 people, and it was a very heartening sight to
see United States Air Force fighters overhead the Pentagon. And it is
my understanding from the review of the records that that was their
MR. BEN-VENISTE: And who provided that guidance to them?
Was that a decision made internally by Secret Service, or did Secret
Service require higher executive order in order to launch those planes
on that mission?
GEN. ARNOLD: I do not know that.
GEN. MCKINLEY: I am unaware of the answer to that, sir.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much, gentlemen.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Thank you.
KEAN: One question. Suppose for a minute that this weekend, God forbid,
that some terrorists got on board another plane in Boston and headed
for New York. What would be different?
GEN. MCKINLEY: Sir, I am very proud to say that I think the
interagency process has worked very, very well. The Transportation
Security Administration, under the direction of Secretary Ridge, has
implemented stringent procedures on the ground. Let's face it: solving
this problem before the terrorists get on the airplane, I think, is the
most critical step to protecting commercial aviation, because once the
airplane is in the air, then it resolves back to the Department of
Defense to take the appropriate action. So TSA deserves a great deal of
credit. The Federal Aviation Administration, with their procedures, and
they way they are lashed up with us now and the military, and the
formation of the Northern Command, I think is vitally important to the
security of the United States of America. I think those things in
context make it far less likely for this to happen. But, as my boss
says, we are not 100 percent safe. We can never be 100 percent safe. I
take nothing for granted when I am in our air operations center when
any aircraft fails to communicate or fails to make a turn or fails to
do what its flight plan said it was supposed to. So we are very, very
serious today about what's happening in the skies over America.
MR. KEAN: But if it were able to get into the air, headed
for New York, what procedures exist now that didn't exist then? Would
you be able to intercept them?
GEN. MCKINLEY: It's my understanding and firm belief that
the Federal Aviation Administration would immediately notify us at the
first sign of any impropriety, in any aircraft, whether it's
commercial, cargo or civilian. We would immediately take action to get
our fighters airborne from the nearest suitable location -- and we have
that location set now where we didn't have it prior to the 11th. We
should be able to protect our critical infrastructure, our major
population centers. But there is, as in any case of a military effort,
there are some risks. But we are postured to accept that
responsibility. The example you gave us out of Boston is the F-15s out
of Otis would be immediately scrambled, they would immediately
intercept the aircraft, and we would stand by for further authorities
from those above us.
GEN. ARNOLD: And I want to just point out that if the
question was if it were to happen today, you have airborne interceptors
that would be vectored into that aircraft to intercept.
MR. KEAN: Commissioner Hamilton?
I just want to clarify a few things after listening to all this
testimony. It's not all that clear to me. As of September 11th, only
the president had the authority to order a shootdown of a commercial
GEN. ARNOLD: That's correct, sir.
MR. HAMILTON: And today who has the authority?
MCKINLEY: We see the president delegated to the secretary of Defense,
delegated to the combatant commander of Northern Command and the North
American Aerospace Command, and there are emergency authorities if that
MR. HAMILTON: So you have the authority?
GEN. MCKINLEY: Yes, sir, and others.
MR. HAMILTON: And how many others?
GEN. MCKINLEY: I prefer not to say in this forum, sir, but I can provide it for the record.
MR. HAMILTON: And you do not have to go up the chain of command at all in the event of a --
GEN. MCKINLEY: We certainly will try, we will make every effort to try.
MR. HAMILTON: I'm sure you would. But you don't have to?
GEN. MCKINLEY: In an emergency situation we can take appropriate action, yes, sir.
HAMILTON: Now, one of the things that's curious to me, General Arnold,
you said that you did not learn of the presidential order until after
United 93 had already crashed. That was about a little after 10 o'clock
in the morning. The first notice of difficulty here was at 8:20 in the
morning when a transponder goes off on the American Flight 11. I don't
know how significant that is, but 20 minutes later you had notification
of the possible hijack. So there's a long lapse of time here between
the time you are initially alerted and you receive the order that you
can shoot that aircraft down. Am I right about that?
GEN. ARNOLD: That's correct.
MR. HAMILTON: In your timeline, why don't you put in there when you were notified?
GEN. ARNOLD: Of which flight, sir?
HAMILTON: Getting the notification from the president of the United
States that you had the authority to shoot a commercial aircraft down
is a pretty significant event. Why would that not be in your timeline?
GEN. ARNOLD: I don't know when that happened.
MR. HAMILTON: Had you ever received that kind of a notice before?
GEN. ARNOLD: Not to my knowledge.
HAMILTON: So this is the first time in the history of the country that
such an order had ever been given, so far as you know?
GEN. ARNOLD: Yes, sir. I'm sure there's a log that would tell us that, and I appreciate the question.
MR. HAMILTON: Maybe you could let us know that.
then, finally, as I understand your testimony, it was not possible to
shoot down any of these aircraft before they struck. Is that basically
GEN. ARNOLD: That is correct. In fact, the American
Airlines 77, if we were to have arrived overhead at that particular
point, I don't think that we would have shot that aircraft down.
MR. HAMILTON: Because?
GEN. ARNOLD: Well, we had not been given authority --
MR. HAMILTON: You didn't have authority at that point.
ARNOLD: And, you know, it is through hindsight that we are certain that
this was a coordinated attack on the United States.
MR. LEHMAN: But had you gotten notified earlier, 77's
deviance, about when it turned east, for instance, certainly you could
have gotten the F-16s there, and certainly there would have been time
to communicate to either get or deny authority, no? -- for 77?
GEN. ARNOLD: I believe that to be true. I believe that to
be true. That had happened very fast, but I believe that to be true.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: What efforts were made that day to contact the president to seek that authority?
GEN. ARNOLD: I do not know.
BEN-VENISTE: Who would have been in the chain of command seeking
authority from the president with whom anyone at NORAD was
communicating? GEN. ARNOLD: Can you answer that?
GEN. MCKINLEY: The command director in Cheyenne Mountain is
connected with the combatant commander who would have had the telephone
lines open at that point. But I don't have knowledge of what happened
that day. But that would be the way it would be done.
GEN. ARNOLD: The flow would be through the secretary of Defense obviously, and to --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Well, the secretary of Defense was under attack in the Pentagon.
GEN. ARNOLD: He was evacuating, yes, sir.
BEN-VENISTE: Now, in terms of anything you know today looking
backwards, including all the after-action reports and various studies
which I am sure have been conducted internally, and I am sure which we
will wish to review, can you not tell us whether there was any effort
made to contact the president to seek authority in dealing with what
appeared to be a coordinated attack?
GEN. MCKINLEY: I don't have knowledge at this time to make a comment, sir.
GEN. ARNOLD: I don't have knowledge of that. Our actions were to try to get aircraft in position to intercept if necessary.
BEN-VENISTE: Now, just going back, because now I'm confused by on the
one hand your statement that the closing of the airspace over
Washington provided de facto authority to take whatever measures were
necessary to deal with hostile aircraft, and your statement that we
probably would not have shot down 77 if we had arrived in time.
GEN. MCKINLEY: The airspace had not been shut down over Washington, D.C. at that time.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: But what time was that? Is that on the timeline?
GEN. MCKINLEY: I believe it is. I believe it was reported by Secretary Mineta ,the timeline that that occurred.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: It's not on your timeline?
MR. SCOTT: No, sir, it's not.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: But do you know what time that was?
SCOTT: Sir, the only thing I've seen is we have a copy provided by
General Worley (ph) of an Andrews tower transmission that announced to
all aviation traffic that the Class B airspace was closed and that air
traffic that did not cooperate would be shot down.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: What time was that, Colonel Scott?
SCOTT: Sir, we'd have to go to the tower logs. We can get that for you.
The tower log will show us what time that transmission was made. I
don't know what time it was made.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: And on whose order was that directive given, that any plane in this sector would be shot down?
MR. SCOTT: Unknown to me, sir.
MR. LEHMAN: Would you be able to provide that to the best of your abilities to --
GEN. MCKINLEY: We'll do everything we can to provide that for the record, sir.
MR. LEHMAN: From higher authority as well, so we can get on the record the chain of command during that period.
have one last question on 175. It never turned its transponder off, and
apparently you were never notified that it was a possible hijacking.
Was that because it continued to communicate with ATC? Or did it
deviate from its course?
GEN. ARNOLD: I can't tell you why we weren't notified.
You'd have to ask the FAA. But that aircraft was a very, as I
understand it, a fairly short flight, and we were not notified. I can't
tell you why.
MR. KEAN: Commissioner Gorelick?
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd actually like to follow up on some of your
questions about the respective roles of NORAD, Northern Command, the
Defense Department generally vis-a-vis law enforcement. As Commissioner
Ben-Veniste averted to, when I was at the Justice Department and we
were planning for the Atlanta Olympics, we rehearsed a number of
scenarios with the Defense Department and the various components
thereof who were responsible for providing support to the Olympics. And
when we got to the scenario of a domestic hijacking of a plane headed
into a stadium, and I asked what they thought the proper division of
labor should be, I was told, and it won't come as any surprise to you,
General Arnold, given your testimony, that this is a law enforcement
matter, and that the armed services would provide technical support to
the FBI to shoot the aircraft down. And my response of course was,
That's preposterous. And in fact, General Arnold, I am glad to see and
hear that when faced with the judgment of whether you should do your
job in defending the United States or wait for someone from the FBI to
call you, you decided to get the authority later, because that is the
only rational response. It probably could have gotten you
court-martialed. But one appreciates that sort of leadership. I say
this because it is clear that before September 11th we know that the
Defense Depart ment discussed for decades what the appropriate role of
our military should be in defending the domestic United States. This
was not a new question. It was discussed up and down and across. And I
see General McKinley nodding. Anyone who has been in the service for
the period of time that you gentlemen have been, know that. And clearly
September 11th served, if anything else, if nothing else, to break the
resistance that had occurred to having a different view of what the
appropriate role of the military should be.
So with that background, I would like to be very clear as
to what has changed and what has not. As I understand it, the
requirement of prior law enforcement requests has been eliminated. Is
GEN. MCKINLEY: We are able under Operation Noble Eagle,
which we are under presently, to respond to an event as a military
entity to be in position to support. As you said eloquently, we don't
have time to wait anymore to launch our fighters. So we have to take
proactive action to do that.
MS. GORELICK: Thank you for that. Second of all, your
radars are now, as you put it, are pointed inward as well. Is that
GEN. MCKINLEY: We have incorporated the radars that were
there all along so that our military controllers can now see them, see
those tracks of interest.
MS. GORELICK: You remain reliant to a certain extent on the
efficacy of the FAA's radar system, as Secretary Lehman pointed out.
Are you completely comfortable that they are more than adequate to your
GEN. MCKINLEY: Ma'am, you are absolutely right, we are
dependent upon the FAA. We are working closely with them and their
programmers, because there are some financial disconnects. The FAA
looks at radar differently than the military does. They are optimizing
their radar to control traffic for commerce. We the military need to
see very specific data which the FAA doesn't need. It costs money to do
that. Our programmers along with the FAA have identified some
disconnects and programmatics, and senior leadership is aware of those
disconnects. We want to make sure that the radars last so that this
mission can be done properly and effectively.
MS. GORELICK: I would ask you to supply for the record, if
you could, a statement of what would be necessary in the professional
opinion of you and your colleagues, to bring the FAA system, upon which
you are now reliant, up to the standards that you think are required to
defend the domestic United States.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Yes, ma'am.
MS. GORELICK: The
other issue which you've raised in your testimony is that of
communication between the FAA and NORAD, or lack thereof. And one of
the questions that came immediately to mind is why you would not be
co-located with FAA so that there is no such communication issue. Are
you now co-located with FAA and have a presence in its command center
that opens up when there is an emergency management?
GEN. MCKINLEY: Ma'am, we have done a little of both. After
General this tragedy that occurred on the 11th, the FAA provided us
with liaisons at all our air defense sectors, our continental NORAD
region and at NORAD, so we have real-time people that we can turn to
and say, Please use your communications channel so that we can get
information. In addition, the national capital region has stood up a
coordination center at Herndon, Virginia, in the FAA building, where we
have military personnel, members of Transportation Security, the Secret
Service and other federal agencies, where they can coordinate the
efforts in this area. So that has helped us tremendously, and we think
we can continue to do that.
MS. GORELICK: Thank you for that answer. And finally in my
list, are you comfortable that you now have the pre-placement of your
resources, in terms of aircraft, et cetera, where they need to be to
adequately defend our critical infrastructure in the United States?
GEN. MCKINLEY: Yes, ma'am. I believe at the present time we
have an adequate force structure to do that. The requirements change
daily, weekly, based on the event. For example, if a space shuttle were
to take off, we would want to have aircraft at the Cape. So whenever we
have a security event -- the Olympics, the State of the Union -- we
move our fighters around in a flexible manner to respond to that. So we
do have the capability based on intelligence and real- world need to do
MS. GORELICK: We may want to follow up in closed session on
that issue. As the charter for NORAD and the existence of Northern
Command were being changed and created, there clearly would have been
debate within the Pentagon over what the scope of that charter should
be -- and I speak of someone who served there twice and I can imagine
what some of those discussions might have been. What authorities were
contemplated to be given to Northern Command that haven't been? And
what authorities, if you were writing that charter on your own, would
you give it?
GEN. MCKINLEY: Well, ma'am, I don't mean to dodge the
question, but I don't know if I have the level of knowledge that you
require for that answer. I will tell you as a component commander who
needs to employ resources in defense of United States citizens, I will
tell you that the bi-national arrangement with Canada that NORAD has
had for over 40 years has worked exceptionally well, for the threat
period that we went through, the Cold War and subsequently.
The stand-up of Northern Command has given us the ability
to now tailor our forces and to work with local law enforcement so that
we can respond to a critical need far more quickly. And we do it in a
joint fashion with Navy, Marine Corps, Army, our Guardsmen, our
Reservists and our United States Air Force. So the Northern Command
framework as I see it -- and we are still in initial operating
capability -- we will become fully operational capable when General
Eberhart says they are. We are learning, we are training together and
exercising together, and from my perspective working exceedingly well.
MS. GORELICK: And one final question, General Arnold. We
get some of our most candid advice from people who have taken off their
uniform. And I use that phrase as well for civilians who no longer play
whatever role they happened to have played. Having lived through the
searing moments of 9/11, and having had the awesome responsibilities
that you had on that day, and having had limited resources, as you had
on that day, legal and physical, to help prevent harm, what advice do
you have for us about changes that we should make as a country?
GEN. ARNOLD: Well, I wrote a paper -- no, I didn't write a
paper on that, but I think one would have to -- that is probably where
you are going to go. We are very fortunate that we have a country with
so many resources. And let me point, out if I could, the -- while you
might -- there could be criticism of what we did in response, it worked
pretty well in terms of the after-action reports. Airplanes were
getting airborne because people knew they had to get airborne. And I
don't have the timelines for all of these things. But as the president
told the military to prepare to defend the country, we started
gathering up all the aircraft that traditionally had not supported
NORAD. And as soon as we could get armament to them, we put them on
orbit. As you recall, we were on orbit for some time throughout the
country. The Navy responded magnificently as well. It was in the press.
Vice Admiral Dawson called me. He was on the George Washington at the
time, and he said, We understand that General Eberhart is the supported
CINC, and that you have been appointed the JFAC, the joint force air
component commander, and we want to roll under your air-tasking order.
Vice Admiral Buckey (ph) of the Third Fleet, who was steaming the
aircraft carrier towards the West Coast to do the same thing. So the
system in terms of military cooperation worked tremendously well.
I would also hasten to say that during the course of time
that we were on orbit and our resources were extremely limited in many
cases, because we initially could not see even what the FAA could see,
we used our very strained AWACs aircraft, our warning aircraft that are
used all over the world, and Brigadier General Ben Robinson was
stretched very thin, but he continued to do what he could.
The United States Customs provided us with E-3s, with
radars that gave us coverage in other parts of the area. And, as
General McKinley alluded to, we were able to bring in units, Air
National Guard and active duty theater area control units, units that
are designed to be deployed, and integrate them into our air picture,
not only for air, but also for voice. So we did a lot of things early
on. But the things that were missing in particular immediately were,
number one, we couldn't see into the interior of the country, we
couldn't talk to our aircraft that were airborne to the interior of the
country, and we did not have a command and control system that would
absorb the number of radars. And we were able to do that very rapidly.
That, coupled with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security
and with the Northern Command, has provided defense in depth, in my
opinion, to protect this country in a way that it has never been
defended before. It's in depth at the present time.
We need to continue down those avenues. I am sure there are
ways to improve it. I am sure General McKinley will find those ways.
General Eberhart is engaged in that as well. But I feel comfortable
that we have done those things that we ought to have done in order to
provide security before a certain hijacking would occur. And of course,
God forbid, if that were to occur again, we are now positioned to be
able to see, to be able to talk, to be able to provide the command and
control, and we have exercised repeatedly our capability to pass an
order, a military order, down to the pilot in the airplane, or the
soldier next to his air-defense artillery.
MS. GORELICK: Thank you very much.
MR. KEAN: Our last questioner is Congressman Roemer.
ROEMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I want to again commend
you and our vice chairman and the staff for all the work that you put
into this hearing, especially this panel. This is very helpful to us,
and plowing ground that the Joint Inquiry did not get into. And I just
want to make sure that you recognize how important that is. And we are
very grateful for your time, gentlemen, and your help, and the good
work that has gone into setting this hearing up.
General Arnold, you were there that day, correct?
GEN. ARNOLD: Yes, sir.
MR. ROEMER: And you had been there how long?
ARNOLD: I had been a commander since December the 19th, 1997, so I had
been there for some time. I was approaching the end of my tour.
MR. ROEMER: Let me keep you on the hot seat, as Jamie
Gorelick has put you there, and ask you a question about military
threats, threats to the United States, and the way we try to get
intelligence as the world changes from a Cold War to terrorist threats
that can come at us from almost anywhere at any time, in nimble quick
dynamic ways. Were you aware at all of the fatwa that Osama bin Laden
had put out in February of 1998 that said that he wanted to kill
Americans, all Americans everywhere he could, whether that was in the
Middle East or in the United States of America?
GEN. ARNOLD: The answer to that is yes, and we had
briefings, our own briefings. I think we could even provide a date back
to 1998 where we called Osama bin Laden the most dangerous man in the
world. And our focus, with the demise of the Soviet Union and Warsaw
Pact, in accordance with the Hart-Rudman study, was that we felt like
the greatest threat to the United States would come from a terrorist, a
rogue, or a rogue nation, or I should say a nation of concern.
MR. ROEMER: And then were you aware of George Tenet's
statement in December of 1998 that the United States was "at war" with
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda?
GEN. ARNOLD: I don't recall that, but I suppose I was
generally aware of that, that the United States was at war with
terrorism around the world.
MR. ROEMER: One of the frustrations is that in looking at
this issue very carefully over the last year and a half, that a lot of
our people responsible for these kinds of things did not know of George
Tenet's declaration or did not know of Osama bin Laden's declaration.
If Vladimir Putin had made that declaration as the leader of a
nation-state, we would probably all be aware of it. If Kim Il Jong of
North Korea or Saddam Hussein had made those statements in 1998, we
would probably all be aware of it. And that combined with the
intelligence that was coming in over the decade of the 1990s that
pointed to planes as weapons, we need to look back. Not to blame
anybody, but to try to make sure that this information can get in the
right hands in the future so that we can respond nimbly and quickly to
this very nimble and quick threat that is directed directly at the
heart of America. And I would be very, very attentive to any
suggestions you would have now that you have stepped away from that
most important job that you took on for our country and for our people,
and performed very well, I am sure. What do we need to do to break down
these barriers of communication and increase the exchange of
information so that we can respond quickly to this threat that will
continue to come at us?
GEN. ARNOLD: Mr. Commissioner, I think I've stated that
earlier what I thought we have done in terms of the intelligence
community and awareness. I think we are at a greater awareness today
than we ever were before. I'd leave that up to perhaps General
McKinley, not trying to duck the question, but I think I've answered
that pretty much before.
MR. ROEMER: Well, if you think of more specific answers, please provide those for the record.
me ask you a question about the time difference between the scrambling
and the battle stations and getting airborne. The F-15s at Otis, which
was about -- What was the total timeframe there for the F- 15s at Otis?
GEN. ARNOLD: I believe that from the time they were notified to scramble it was six minutes.
MR. ROEMER: Six minutes? Notified, scrambled and then airborne?
GEN. ARNOLD: Notified, scrambled and airborne. I believe that was six minutes, as Colonel Scott has --
MR. ROEMER: So a total of --
ARNOLD: You're not talking -- now, they were on battle stations because
the Northeast air commander put them on battle stations. But once we
said scramble, then I believe it was six minutes.
MR. ROEMER: Then, comparatively, for the F-16s at Langley, what was the total time it took to --
ARNOLD: Again, if I can look at our data here, I believe it was -- they
were reported airborne at 9:35, and I think we would show that we
MR. SCOTT: We got first radar data at 9:30. I believe they
were ordered to scramble at 9:24. The 9:35 report is when they were
reported to have been airborne.
GEN. ARNOLD: Correct, correct, six minutes.
MR. ROEMER: Six minutes again.
MCKINLEY: And these fighters, sir, have up to 15 minutes to get
airborne. And it's very intricate, as Secretary Lehman knows, to get an
airplane without anybody in it, started, cranked, inertia line, to the
runway, get a clearance, get in the air. Six minutes is exceedingly
MR. ROEMER: So at 9:35, those F-16s are airborne?
MR. SCOTT: They were airborne, sir --
ARNOLD: I think they were airborne at 9:30 actually, and that they were
reported airborne at 9:35 - correct my error here if I could, please.
MR. ROEMER: Okay. You were in the room when Secretary
Mineta talked a little bit about arriving at the White House at about
9:20, and then overhearing a conversation at about 9:24 or 9:25 between
the vice president and a young aide, where he inferred that there was
already an order in place for shootdown, and he assumed it was for
American Airlines 77. So sometime even before 9:20 there was an order
in place that he overheard in the presidential executive operations
center that had some exchange between, I assume the vice president and
the president and maybe the special ops, the situation room, and they
had determined that they have would the authority communicated to
somebody to shoot down American Airlines Flight 77. Were you at all
aware of anything sometime after 9:15 or 9:20 to shoot down American
Airlines Flight 77?
GEN. ARNOLD: I was never aware of any order given to shoot down American Airlines 77.
ROEMER: So nothing was ever conveyed to you by the White House or by
the FAA administrator or by the secretary of transportation on Flight
GEN. ARNOLD: That's correct.
MR. ROEMER: So the only time you ever received information on a shootdown was on Flight number 93, and that was --
GEN. ARNOLD: After the fact.
MR. ROEMER: Excuse me?
GEN. ARNOLD: After the fact.
MR. ROEMER: That was after the fact, and that was after 10 o'clock.
GEN. ARNOLD: That's correct.
MR. ROEMER: And that was from who?
GEN. ARNOLD: It was from Cheyenne Mountain. I assumed from the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
ROEMER: Your assumption is that the White House communicated that to
Cheyenne Mountain, and then Cheyenne Mountain communicated that to you?
GEN. ARNOLD: Through the National Military Command Center.
MR. ROEMER: Right. And when you had that after the fact, as Commission Hamilton asked you, that was at what time?
ARNOLD: I believe the time -- we do not have a record on this. I
remember the time being somewhere around 10:05, but we do not show that
GEN. MCKINLEY: And we'll try to find that accurately and
depict it for the record, sir, because that's probably an important
time you'd like to have.
MR. ROEMER: I think it's critically important. Colonel
Scott, where you in on any of that information about the presidential
authority to shoot down Flight 93?
MR. SCOTT: At the time I was upstairs with the crisis team.
MR. ROEMER: And General McKinley?
GEN. MCKINLEY: I was trying to get out of the Pentagon, which was on fire, sir.
ROEMER: So, General Arnold, with respect to this decision, if you could
get any more details on the timing and any information on Flight 77,
that would be very helpful to us. Thank you again for your great
service to the country.
MR. KEAN: General Scott, General Arnold and Major General
McKinley, thank you very much. You've been very helpful today, we
appreciate it, and thank you.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. Thank you very much.
MR. KEAN: Lieutenant General Canavan is next.
right, could we reconvene please? Lieutenant General Mike Canavan,
former associate administrator for Civil Aviation Security.
MR. CANAVAN: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman,
members of the Commission. Thank you for inviting me to speak before
the National Commission of Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. I
sincerely hope that any input will be useful in increasing the safety
and security of our flying public. My name is Mike Canavan. From
December of 2000 until October of 2001, I served as the associate
administrator for civil aviation security at the Federal Aviation
Administration. Upon joining the FAA, my first order of business was to
review our major mandates and policies, and determine where immediate
improvements to civil aviation security could be made, both short and
long term. Since the FAA was a regulatory agency and not an enforcement
agency, I knew a challenge would lie ahead to work with the airline
industry and those outside the federal government making sure every
effort was made to ensure the security of the flying public.
The challenge would come in terms of developing and
reconstructing this long established partnership. Additionally, outside
the FAA but within the federal government, I worked closely with my
counterparts within the counterterrorism and intelligence communities.
While the FAA is considered part of the counterterrorism community and
intelligence communities, it participated only when issues arose that
involved aviation-related matters. It should be noted that the FAA was
a consumer of intelligence and not really an intelligence collector.
This is an important distinction, as we relied completely on the
intelligence community to provide the best quality of raw and analyzed
intelligence so that when appropriate we were able to turn it into an
actual intelligence by which we could take corrective actions to
employing countermeasures, transmitting advisories, warnings, et
During my tenure at the FAA, my staff and I interacted
routinely with the intelligence and law enforcement communities. We
were advised of current and possible future threats against civil
aviation, and worked actively to implement measures to protect the
flying public against those threats. Throughout 2001, as the
intelligence reporting volume increased, the overwhelming majority was
focused on likely targets overseas, particularly in the Middle East.
Throughout this period my office issued at least 15 information
circulars to authorize the aviation industry, security professionals,
corporate security directors, senior management personnel, ground
security coordinators and supervisory personnel at overseas locations,
and as appropriate to local airline managers and law enforcement
personnel on a need-to-know basis. Oftentimes these were issued in
concert with the Department of State public announcements and FBI
national law enforcement transmittals. Information circulars contained
data derived from law enforcement and intelligence information,
focusing on domestic and international terrorism threats directly
The information circulars updated U.S. carriers against
continuing violence against American citizens and interests around the
world, with a particular interest on the Middle East, and encouraged
airlines to practice a high degree of awareness. For example, one
information circular described a plot to target a public area in the
Los Angeles Airport terminal by Ahmed Rassam, who was arrested in
December 1999 while attempting to enter the United States from Canada.
Another information circular issued in the summer of 2001 updated
airline security personnel of developments that terrorists and
criminals had in disguising firearms.
Additionally, my organization within the FAA issued
security directives which required the airlines and security
organizations to implement modifications or upgrades to their current
security postures based on a variety of factors, including changes in
the threat environment.
The threat environment throughout 2001. As I recall, the
threat reporting during early to mid 2001 centered on U.S. targets
abroad. In June and July of 2001, the FAA was included in many
interagency counterterrorism security group meetings, or CSG, held at
the White House by the National Security Council staff regarding
possible attacks in the Arabian Peninsula, Israel and Europe. In early
July, the NSC chaired a meeting at which the interagency was briefed
about additional intelligence indicating that terrorist attacks seemed
imminent. The intelligence community briefers emphasized attacks would
likely take place overseas. While we all agreed that attacks within the
U.S. could not be ruled out, there was no indication from the
intelligence community that attacks focused specifically against
airlines. Nonetheless, the entire CT community, including law
enforcement and intelligence agencies, were placed on the highest
alert, and we all sent out notifications for heightened security
measures to be put in place immediately within our organizations. The
FAA sent out security directives and information circulars to all
During my ten months at the FAA, I was determined to
instill a renewed sense of dedication and importance throughout the
civil aviation security organization. In the airline and airport
industry, that security of the flying public was our principal
directive. A few examples include traveling to every CADEX airport --
that's our largest airports, there are 20 -- briefing all civilian
aviation security airline and airport staffs regarding commitment to
aviation security, and traveling to several international airport
locations to ensure that host nations understood the U.S. government's
commitment to civil aviation security.
I also made it a priority to draft and obtain buy-in from
all FAA civil aviation security staff and agents on a strategic plan
that articulated our security mission from the present forward.
Additionally, I directed my policy staff to develop a long-term
strategy planning effort out to the 2010 timeframe. In the short term I
served at the FAA, I firmly believe we began improving the state of the
FAA civil aviation security posture.
Some suggestions for aviation security improvements. Of
course, it is one's hope to deter, disrupt or prevent every criminal or
terrorist attack on the ground or in the skies. While this is the
ultimate goal to which we all inspire, realistically this cannot happen
as long as we continue to live in a free and open society. We must
therefore strike a balance that allows a free and open society with
sound and common-sense approaches to security.
There are some aviation security programs that deserve
attention and may provide improvements to the flying public. For
example, the use of red teams. During my tenure at the FAA I supported
completely the concept of the red team to test and evaluate the overall
state of readiness to domestic and international airports. From my time
in the military I was used to this thing that we do call red teams.
Although no airport security system can be flawless, in order to
develop and implement improvements it is necessary to work with rather
than to punish airport and airline personnel when defects were found by
the red team. But you need to develop an improvement plan together. We
are the experts.
Based on the red team findings, the airport authorities and
airline industry should be made part of the improvement process, rather
than be punished only with fines and then allowed to walk away without
making the overall system better. This is another example of why it is
imperative that the airline industry never be allowed to transfer all
of its security responsibilities to the federal government. This must
always be a shared responsibility.
Federal air marshals. The strength of this program's
foundation is based on maintaining the anonymity of the FAMs. With the
significant increase of FAMs deployed on domestic flights over the past
20 months. The FAMs are now as or more likely to be called upon to deal
with unruly passengers as they are a threat to the cockpit crew and
perceived threat to the cockpit crew and passengers. There is an
important distinction between the security of the aircraft, its crew,
passengers, versus a disorderly passenger. Disclosing the FAM's
identity undermines the very premise under which they are operating.
This is another example where the airline industry should share
responsibilities by handling unruly passengers, then the FAMs only to
be used as the last resort. Then the FAMs are allowed to execute their
mission and provide security of the aircraft, its crews and its
The airline industry's responsibilities. Since September
11th of 2001, the federal government has taken additional
responsibilities which have been previously been air carriers' and
operators' responsibilities for more than three decades. It seems there
is little burden sharing. The concept to share responsibility for good
security is sometimes a memory. The airport and airline personnel are
the first responders by virtue of them being the eyes and ears on the
ground at these airports. They will be immediately directly aware of
questionable behavior and potential threats. Now, however, the airline
industry is no longer responsible for screening passengers, and are
currently trying to relieve themselves of CAPPS and baggage screening,
and are opposed to using hardened containers or advanced equipment, as
a few examples.
The airlines must be responsible for some measure of
security throughout this process. The government cannot and should not
be held accountable for all things aviation. The concept of common and
shared responsibility for security can be degraded in this manner.
Aviation security abroad at international airports. Foreign
governments and airlines hire the personnel responsible for screening
in overseas locations. While we may have made significant improvements
domestically, we may not have yet dealt with the airports abroad. I
understand that a recommendation was made to employ more than 70
explosive trace detection devices in airports overseas to screen
footwear after Richard Reid's failed attempt last year to explode an
aircraft has yet to be acted upon. This equipment is used domestically,
and we should improve our aviation security overseas for flights to the
United States and elsewhere.
When I joined the FAA, I was impressed with many of the
dedicated employees at headquarters and in the field. However, I
recognized that we would be facing a formidable challenge working
within the FAA structure, and at the same time in a environment where
partnership with the industry took on a whole new meaning. I tried to
begin breaking new ground during this time. Not a single day passes
when I do not think about decisions, theories and intelligence that
might have possibly made some difference to the outcome of September
I hope that my testimony today and any information that I
offer the National Commission will assist in making the traveling
public and aviation in general more safe and secure. I take full
responsibility for any and all FAA security failures on 11 September
2001. Thank you.
MR. KEAN: Thank you very much, General.
MR. HAMILTON: General, thank you for your testimony this morning. You're pretty tough on the airlines, aren't you?
MR. CANAVAN: Well, again, sir, it's back before the rules changed after 2001. It was a shared responsibility.
MR. HAMILTON: You think it should be?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes.
HAMILTON: So what we have seen over a period of time is all of the
responsibility for airline security shifted to the government, and
taken off the shoulders of the airlines? Is that the general trend?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes, sir, that's how I see it.
MR. HAMILTON: And that's to the detriment of the flying public?
CANAVAN: I think so, because when you take the airports or the airlines
out of it, it's like those airports are small cities and those
airlines, they are there, the airports are there. When you start taking
chunks away from what I think is common knowledge of what's going on in
your neighborhood -- everyone knows their neighborhood. You know when a
stranger walks in there, you know when things change and that type of
thing. When you take any responsibility away from someone like that,
then at that point in time there's really no one watching. That's my
MR. HAMILTON: I see.
MR. CANAVAN: And, to
continue on that, for years in this country you had two people in
charge of an airport. You had the airlines and you had the airport
officials. So you had two folks, and they didn't always come together.
The airport manager, you know, he was worried about security, all these
other things, making sure people had a place to eat, perimeters, all
those things. The airlines -- and I understand it they are there to
make money, and they were there to get people on airplanes. So anything
that stopped them from getting you from the parking lot to your
airplane in a timely manner, you know, they had -- that was difficult
Whereas some of the European models, there's one person in
charge of an airport, so as you know, when you have two people in
charge of something in the military parlance, then you start to have
gaps in your perimeter, and people can obviously slip through those
gaps. So that's my point on that.
MR. HAMILTON: So you think airports should be organized in such a way that one person is in charge?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes, sir.
HAMILTON: To go back to a question that has come up here fairly
frequently, did the FAA ever consider the possibility that a plane
could be used as a weapon prior to 9/11?
MR. CANAVAN: I would say that over time the answer to --
first of all, yes. I dealt with terrorists all over this world, and
I've seen the results of what people want to do when they want to push
their agenda, unfortunately. And when you look at possible scenarios,
well, yes, you could take an aircraft and fly it into something. The
Olympics in '84 were mentioned. That aircraft in that scenario was
really a crop duster. There wasn't a big wide-body airplane. But then
you have to -- then you look at it and you say, Okay, here's all these
threats. Now, can you guard against all of them? Do you have the
resources and the money and the people and the time and the effort? And
a lot of times you have to say, no, you don't. So then you have to put
it in priority. You know, when historically you went back and looked at
hijackings of U.S. aircraft over the years, of which 107 were hijacked.
MR. HAMILTON: Prior to --
MR. CANAVAN: Prior to
11 September. At no time was an aircraft ever used to fly into
something. Now I'm talking commercial airplanes. You know, we had the
thing with the small, the Piper Cub at the White House. In 1994, 1995,
when the Air France aircraft was hijacked out of Algiers, and ended up
in France, at that time I was in command of all of our special
operations forces in Europe, so I was always hooked into all of our
counterparts. The French debriefed us on that. What those people really
wanted to do, what they thought at that time, the best guess by the
French intelligence people, were that they wanted to use it as an
aerial bomb. They wanted --
MR. HAMILTON: But in your consciousness, had you considered
prior to September 11th the possibility that a commercial airliner
could be used as a weapon?
MR. CANAVAN: I knew there -- I knew there was a possibility, but it wasn't --
MR. HAMILTON: Not a high priority?
CANAVAN: Not a high priority. What I thought -- usually aircraft are
taken to take hostages, they're taken for transportation, they are
taken to release someone who may be in jail that's part of the
MR. HAMILTON: Do you remember any publication or any training exercise where a commercial airliner was used as a weapon?
MR. CANAVAN: No.
HAMILTON: And then after you became head of the FAA's civil aviation
security, did you take actions prior to September 11th to make the
system more effective?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes. My actions -- first of all, I got smart
in what really our mandate was. That was in the headquarters. I went to
every CADEX airport except for Honolulu, visited airlines, airports,
and my own FAA agents in the field. I talked to airline, airports,
security personnel, FBI, CIA, Department of State, and tried to get a
feeling of what was out there in terms of what was rubbing up against
MR. HAMILTON: Do you feel that your activities strengthened the system in that period of time?
CANAVAN: Yes. During that period of time we came up -- first time that
we came up with this strategic plan for at least five years that looked
in the areas of airport and airline security, air cargo, people and
technology to improve all this, and come up with a game plan. At the
same time --
MR. HAMILTON: Well, was the plan implemented?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes, the plan was ongoing, on target.
MR. HAMILTON: Ongoing. It was being implemented?
CANAVAN: It was being implemented. It had been briefed to everyone in
the field, and we were tracking it at headquarters. It was part of our
weekly meetings as to how we were doing on the strategic plan in these
four areas, which we all felt were very important.
MR. HAMILTON: So your initiatives were well received and supported by the FAA?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes.
MR. HAMILTON: Can you be a little more specific about the kinds of things you recommended?
CANAVAN: Well, we want to improve the testing in the field. We wanted
to improve testing of screeners. We wanted to improve the access
control regulations that we had out there in the field. We wanted to do
-- we improved special emphasis testing. In other words, you'll go to,
like in the Southeast during that period, over about a three-month
period, we did 10,000 tests on both access and X-ray and EDS machine
operations. That's what I'm talking about. Of course the red team was
going on at this time, and that was happening.
I was talking to a lot of the major airlines security, my
counterparts. We needed to improve the screeners operation. We needed
to pay them more money. We needed to get better training, better
supervision. There were more people making money at McDonald's in
airports they were making money working the screening line. So they
were hearing this from me all the time. I was concerned about why we
had so many foreign nationals working in these airports, as screeners.
I mean, at that time you did not have to be a U.S. citizen. You just
had a background check. That concerned me. I worked real hard to tell
the airlines, you know, the threat is out there. Up until 2001, the
last major airline we had hijacked was in '85, a Pan Am flight in
Pakistan. So 15, 16 years had gone by. And as you know when people
perceive that the threat is not out there, when these airline security
personnel, they wanted information from me, because they wanted to go
to their bosses and say, The reason why I'm asking for all this money
is based on this, this, and this. So we pushed real hard to get
everything we got from the intelligence community into the field to
include coming up with an FOU on CD-ROM that my intelligence chief went
around to all the airports, talked to all the people -- everyone got
this CD-ROM, and briefed them on the threat.
MR. HAMILTON: So your feeling is that prior to September
11th the airlines, which had principal responsibility for security,
MR. CANAVAN: I'm not -- some of them were lax. I mean, I'll
be honest with you, their priority as time went by without an incident
went to other areas. But at the same time -- but that's not all the
airlines and that's not all the airports. Depending on how -- and some
were better than others. I don't know any other way to explain it. We
were pushing for them to take our explosive detection systems, our
trace machines, our TIC (?) machines --
MR. HAMILTON: Well, I'm tempted to ask you to be specific,
but I'll defer that, at least for the moment. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: Secretary Lehman?
MR. LEHMAN: Yes,
general, I note after the increase in the chatter that people
previously talked about on previous panels, with the clear raising of
the threat, that you issued a security directive prior -- I guess
during the summer of 2001 -- reflecting that, and directing the
airlines to get a little more vigorous in their security. In your
judgment, did they respond to that? Were your initiatives in
intelligence sharing and increased trying to get them to conform to the
existing regulations, did they do it? Did that makes things a little
MR. CANAVAN: Sir, yes they did, because this was on the
heels of our road show talking about that there's still a threat out
there, and here is the threat. This is a very intensive briefing. And
at the same time with our special emphasis areas in trying to keep
bombs and guns off of airplanes, we went at them pretty hard. And, now
again, some did better than others. But there was an interest level
there that, yes, there is a threat out there, and this is the type of
information the security managers wanted to go to their bosses and say,
Okay, we are going to have to put some more resources here. So I -- the
summer, because again of the threat ICs we kept giving these folks. It
went up. It got better.
MR. LEHMAN: The disturbing picture that has been emerging
from our testimony yesterday and previous information that has been
uncovered is that the response of industry to activist people in FAA
like yourself, and to the initiatives developed by the results of the
red teams, was basically to do what you just described: shape up until
you sort of walk away, and then it's back to business as usual. I mean,
the initiatives that I recall during the '90s, after the two, the TWA
particularly, to put in Kevlar doors, to lock the cockpit doors, and a
number of others that would have certainly diminished the
vulnerability. All, as soon as people went onto other things, they
disappeared. The cockpit doors got open again. The keys were lost,
doors never got put on. Part of the description we got from witnesses
yesterday was that there simply aren't enough teeth in the rule-making
enforcement for the FAA to see that once good things are identified and
ordered that they are actually carried out, the fines are minimal and
enforcement lax. Is that a fair description?
MR. CANAVAN: I think that's a fair description. I think
what happens sometimes with the airlines is let's just talk about the
doors. You can -- if you use the model of Israel, they had two doors.
They have a catch. You have to go through one door before the second
door opens. It has to close behind you. But my point is -- I wasn't
there when all this was being kicked around, but I'm told, because
number one it was going to weigh a lot, and every time you added weight
to an airplane you took away revenue seats. So there's your problem.
Anything that stood -- and, again, the airlines are out there to make
money and they, probably based on their history -- well, when's the
last time someone really kicked down a door? -- because you have to
remember that up until 2001 the airline personnel were trained, and
when someone threatened a flight attendant or a passenger or you, you
just went along, because most hijackings ended up -- obviously the
plane landed on the ground somewhere for the most part, and it was
either negotiated out, or at sometime, when that fell apart, then
somebody stormed the airplane. So you have to keep it in mind what
they're -- they would come back and say, Well, why do we want to do
this? Because, you know, now we are just going to land the planes, so
why do I want to have this heavy door? Well, obviously 9/11 if you had
had a heavy door -- but even if you had a door on 9/11, you still would
have had to change the training of the crew. In other words, you will
never open that door, regardless of what happens in the back of the
plane, you land it. So there's a little dichotomy there.
But, again, we looked at improved luggage containers in the
belly of the airplane with Kevlar. So if you had a suspected bag, or
even though you checked someone out, but you are still a little leery
about what they were carrying, you could put at least those bags inside
those containers. We did testing. We knew how much explosives that they
could handle -- you know, things like that. But in terms of the teeth,
you could find -- there's a certain level -- I don't remember what it
is, but there was a certain level of fining for different offenses. And
after a while the airlines accumulated huge amounts of money, and then
the lawyers would get at a hold of it, between the airlines and the
Department of Transportation, and they would figure out some
compromise. The thing that they never wanted was for you to go public
and say Airline X has been fined X number of dollars because of A, B,
and C. That was the biggest hammer you had. So a lot of this would get
negotiated out. And of course this was frustrating in the field,
because here I had all my agents out there trying to be all they could
be and be fair and everything else, and then they would find things
wrong and then at the end of the day sometimes they felt that nothing
MR. LEHMAN: Now, if I were a company, regardless of
industry, and I felt that stupid things were being done by the
bureaucracy that I didn't agree with, what I would do would be to hire
a good lobbyist and to get my industry association to go use some chips
to see the secretary of this or the administrator of that and get this
troublesome bureaucrat overruled, or at least, you know, let's study it
for another six months. Did that happen in the case of these aircraft
MR. CANAVAN: You mean people going to the Hill and lobbying to change them?
MR. LEHMAN: Not just the Hill, but the senior people, the administration?
MR. CANAVAN: I don't know. But I do know -- I don't know about within FAA or within -- I am sure that --
me begin again. I am sure within the FAA -- and I know Ms. Garvey was
under a lot of pressure, when we would come up and --
MR. LEHMAN: From the industry?
From the industry, as we were pushing, trying to get either the fines
paid or get certain things -- get rules, get rules out of the lawyer's
office, like checked baggage and bag match and screener companies --
all those things that were just kind of laying out there. And we did
get them out eventually. But so that was that pressure.
There was the pressure of the industry again where security
measures were slowing down the people getting on the airplanes. Because
during the summer of 2001, or the summer before I think -- I don't
quite remember. But remember the airline system, the eight air traffic
control just all bogged up -- late arrivals, late this, late that. So
there was a lot of pressure from that point.
The other pressure came from where the lobbyist groups
would go to the Hill and hit key members on the Hill and say, You know,
we have got this Gore Commission here, and we don't really agree fully
with this finding. And what happened -- and after it, you know, some of
these things would get watered down. One example was the explosive
detection systems. Now, they'll find -- for the most part they're
pretty good. There was only one company that made good machines. We had
another company that was trying to catch up, but it was going to take a
while along the process to get this thing operational. And we told this
company that and said, Hey, we'll put it out there. You know, you can
do a demo, we'll put it in a couple airports, and we'll run bags
through it and we'll see how it works. Well, that wasn't good enough.
They didn't want to do all the steps that the other company did to make
sure they had a good product, so they go to the Hill. And then language
comes out that says, Every time I buy A I have to buy a B. So then you
are with two choices: You either have zero EDS machines or you have a
50 percent solution. So those are some of the pressures I'm talking
about that I think you may be alluding to where people get in there and
for whatever reason try to sway thinking and judgment.
MR. LEHMAN: You mentioned in your testimony, and you are
known as an advocate of red teaming. And certainly my experience, and I
am sure yours in the Pentagon with red teams are they are tremendously
effective, but have a half life. They are effective as long as they are
backed up by the senior person in charge. And as soon as that person
moves on, the red team tends to disappear and the members are sent to
Siberia. I'm sure you are familiar with the Navy red team experience.
So it's built into the bureaucracy, yet it's the only answer, in my
judgment, to the function that you were trying to do. We had testimony
yesterday that there was no cover-up, and -- on the one hand -- that
was the official FAA position. On the other hand we had pretty
compelling testimony that whatever name you put on it it had the effect
of a cover-up. But the former FAA administrator basically said that the
results -- she said I think more than 90 percent of the recommendations
of the red teams were passed on to the airlines and they are the ones
that did nothing to implement them. Yet there was obviously, since the
fact that the red team was in effect disestablished, there was
hostility within the senior management of the FAA at the time. Could
you comment on that? And then tell us what can be done to
institutionalize the red team function without this almost inevitable
half life. If they are doing their job, everybody hates them who are in
senior positions, because they get embarrassed.
MR. CANAVAN: Right. I can only talk about it from the 10
months I was there. When I arrived, I was briefed on the red team and
talked to the red team members. In fact, I talked to the person who was
in here yesterday. He told me their frustrations. I looked into it. And
the changes I made was, number one, because there were people within
the FAA and even my organization that wanted to do away with the red
team -- I said that's not going to happen. We're going to continue, we
are going to fund them. The second thing we are going to do is when
they come back from an overseas mission or a United States mission, all
their findings would be briefed, and we would pass them out to the
various organizations in my staff to start looking at these things. At
the same time, before they left where they were doing their testing,
they were sitting down with airline and airport personnel, and saying,
This is what we found. Because I did find over time that some of the
frustration on the airline and airports part was they were getting
fined for something or finding out their mistake, but they didn't know
what it was. They would read about it later.
So I asked the red team personnel to debrief these folks
before they left. And then the last thing we did -- and I think it was
the first time in memory, because this is what I was told from the
airline security personnel -- I brought all the major airline security
managers into the office here in Washington, and we had the red team
debrief them on what we had been finding. It was about a two-hour
briefing -- handouts and everything -- and at the end of that they
said, you know, this is great, this is what we want. So that's how I
looked at the red team. So I used it.
When you have a red team, as you know, you have to watch
out a little bit. You have to monitor these guys, because sometimes you
get a thing called creeping excellence. If the rule says this, this is
what the rule says. You don't add to it or you don't subtract from it.
So any elite organization, so to speak, that I have been associated
with, you know you got to always watch that and I think sometimes we
had a tendency to go above and beyond what really the rule was. And I
think that was a little frustration on the red team part and probably
on the customer's part.
In terms of at least institutionalizing something like
this, the red team has to work directly for the person in charge and
not be subordinated underneath another organization. So they are
layered down, so that everything that they find, it never really pops
up to the top. And we were in the midst of a reorganization within ACS
with my staff and that was going to -- we never got to that because of
9/11, but that was one of the things we were going to do.
But I think you need it, I think you need good people, I
think there has to be a timeline on their term of service in the red
team, and then to make sure that the person you hired initially is a
red team member two years later, is still the same person two years
later. Because sometimes -- again my background in elite forces, you
know the person you hired initially changes overtime for a lot of
different reasons. And then put them up under someone where they have
direct contact with the boss, and there is no filter. So that is how I
would institutionalize it.
MR. LEHMAN: Thank you. I just have two more questions. One,
your responsibilities in civil aviation also extended to general
aviation. It is my understanding today that there is a huge hole in the
realm of charters, that an al Qaeda team could call up and charter a
BBJ, a Boeing 737 loaded with fuel to go to Japan. Nobody would check
their IDs, nobody would put them through TSA screening, and they could
take off, and we could have another 9/11 on our hands. Why is that and
what can be done about it?
MR. CANAVAN: Right after September 11th, the FAA tightened
up the rules for general aviation. You either couldn't fly in some
areas, they had to go through a screening checkpoint, they had to be
verified with ID and manifest and all these other things. That was done
at that time. Again, I left in October, so I have no idea what has
happened to general aviation since I left and I'm not, probably not the
right person to ask that question.
MR. LEHMAN: My second question is, first, the first part of
it, was there a full after-action report done, and is that available to
MR. CANAVAN: Sir, again, I would have to go back and ask
the powers to be now, because right after September 11th a lot of
things were going on, and I'm sure that we were looking at lessons
learned, but not immediately -- I mean we were reacting to things,
getting the airlines back up, you know, getting the aircraft back into
the air and that type of thing, and taking added measures at airports.
But I'm sure that was done. And if you ask them, they should be able to
give you that report.
MR. LEHMAN: We have a copy of an executive summary, and let
me read you the second paragraph of the discussion of Flight 11. "At
approximately 9:18 a.m., it was reported that the two crew members in
the cockpit were stabbed. The flight then descended with no
communication from the flight crew members. The American Airlines FAA
principal security inspector was notified by Suzanne Clark of the
American Airlines corporate headquarters that an onboard flight
attendant contacted an American Airlines operations center and informed
them that a passenger located in Seat 10B shot and killed a passenger
in seat 9B at 9:20 a.m. The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin, shot by
passenger Saddam Al Suqami. One bullet was reported to have been fired.
In subsequent requests to the FAA, we have been unable to confirm that that took place.
CANAVAN: Sir, I looked into that question, and the PSI did write down
what the thought she heard over the plane in the command center, wrote
it down in the log or from the cell phone call. This was American
Airlines -- the command center people later went out, I believe also to
the FBI later went back to American Airlines to revisit that question,
and everyone denied no knowledge. This did not happen. They said it was
erroneous reporting, that there was no gun, that there was no evidence
found later. They talked to the person involved, and that's all I know
MR. LEHMAN: Okay, that's all.
MR. KEAN: Commissioner Ben-Veniste, then Commissioner Gorelick, and finally Commissioner Fielding.
BEN-VENISTE: Good afternoon, General, and thank you so much for your
candor and your help. Just following up on Secretary Lehman's last
question, was the information correct with respect to the identities of
the passengers in connection with that incident?
MR. CANAVAN: I do not have that information. I don't know.
BEN-VENISTE: So in checking it through there wasn't any indication of
whether there were circumstances that were corroborated other than the
issue of the gun and the firing of the gun?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes. They couldn't corroborate anything. I
mean, they later went back to American Airlines and said, as far as my
understanding of this now, I didn't find this out, you know, the three
weeks following September 11th, but I've asked since then and the
answer was they couldn't substantiate any of this, that this took
MR. BEN-VENISTE: And to your knowledge were there tape recordings of these conversations that were maintained?
CANAVAN: To my knowledge there were cockpit recorder tapings. I don't
know if people on the ground receiving cell phone calls were taping
them. I don't know about that.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: This would have been a conversation between a flight attendant and an airline representative?
CANAVAN: Yes, that's to the best of my knowledge. Someone picked up a
phone from the airplane and called down to the ground.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: So the question of whether a tape exists of that call somewhere is a question mark in your mind?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes.
BEN-VENISTE: We'll follow up on that. Let me briefly follow up on a
couple of things that Ms. Garvey was questioned about yesterday. First
of all, was there an after-action report produced by the FAA?
MR. CANAVAN: Again, I am going to assume there was. I never
saw one, because by the time I left there obviously wasn't. If it was
ongoing, it wasn't complete. But they should -- most organizations I've
been involved in, this is what you do: you sit down and figure out what
happened and what went wrong and what do you need to fix. I would be
surprised if they didn't have one somewhere.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: We have focused very heavily on Flight 77
which ultimately crashed into the Pentagon, because on the basis of
everything we've heard, that was the one flight which hit its target
which could have possibly been intercepted. What is your understanding
of the first time FAA notified NORAD of the fact that this was a
possible hijack or that it had deviated from course, or that there was
some anomaly about Flight 77 in the context of everything else that was
going on that day?
MR. CANAVAN: Here's my answer -- and it's not to duck the
question. Number one, I was visiting the airport in San Juan that day
when this happened. That was a CADEX airport, and I was down there also
to remove someone down there that was in a key position. So when 9/11
happened, that's where I was. I was able to get back to Washington that
evening on a special flight from the Army back from San Juan, back to
Washington. So everything that transpired that day in terms of times, I
have to -- and I have no information on that now, because when I got
back we weren't -- that wasn't the issue at the time. We were -- when I
got back it was, What are we going to do over the next 48 hours to
strengthen what just happened?
MR. BEN-VENISTE: What would be, putting aside the issue,
and I think we've covered it extensively, about the preparedness for
the potentiality of a terrorist attack using a plane as a weapon, and I
think we heard very candidly from General McKinley that basically the
system in place was a vestige of the Cold War as opposed to looking
inward at the United States to anticipate this kind of a problem,
basically looking the wrong way on September 11th. What is the normal
procedure? What was the normal procedure on September 11th in the event
of a hijacking in terms of the point in time at which FAA would notify
MR. CANAVAN: Well, my experience as soon as you know you had a hijacked aircraft, you notify everyone.
BEN-VENISTE: There seems to be a gap of 15 or 20 minutes between the
time where there was a substantial indication which was, I suppose,
supported by the other events that already occurred, which would put
into question whether Flight 77 had been compromised. Can you explain
to us what would have accounted for such a delay between the time FAA
received the information of deviation from flight pattern and
notification of NORAD?
MR. CANAVAN: Again, well, based on my experience, when
something happens a lot of times the first reports are wrong. So people
will wait a little while to find out, Is this really going on? And I'm
basing this on experience in the field, and not so much the FAA model.
So I think just the fog of, number one, do we have a hijacked aircraft?
Because on several occasions over the years, the pilots have hit the
panic button, and all of a sudden he's beeping, he's squawking
hijacked, and you find out that that's really not the case. So when
these aircraft -- I just as soon when the aircraft either beeped or
went off the airs there's minutes that go by where the air traffic
controller, he's not thinking hijack. He's trying to call the airplane,
and he's talking around to his other controllers, Do you see so-and-so?
And he's talking to pilots in the air, Do you see -- say, the plane
behind the other -- Do you see Flight X?
So I think if you look at it like that that eats up your
time. And then when you finally find out, yes, we do have a problem,
then obviously then the standard notification is it kind of gets
broadcast out to all the regions, it gets broadcast to the interagency,
it gets broadcast right up to DOT. I mean, those things happen.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Well, we asked that question yesterday,
and Ms. Garvey was not at that time prepared to respond. Last evening
she did communicate with the staff at my request, and we were provided
a statement which comes from FAA, which I'd like to read into the
record, Mr. Chairman. And it is, I am told, authored by two
individuals, high level individuals at FAA, Mr. Asmus and Ms.
Schuessler. And it's entitled FAA Communications with NORAD on
September 11th, 2001. "Within minutes after the first aircraft hit the
World Trade Center, the FAA immediately established several phone
bridges that included FAA field facilities, the FAA command center, FAA
headquarters, DOD, the Secret Service and other government agencies.
The U.S. Air Force liaison to the FAA immediately joined the FAA
headquarters phone bridge and established contact with NORAD on a
separate line. The FAA shared real-time information on the phone
bridges about the unfolding events, including information about loss of
communication with aircraft, loss of transponder signals, unauthorized
changes in course, and other actions being taken by all the flights of
interest, including Flight 77. Other parties on the phone bridges in
turn shared information about actions they were taken. NORAD logs
indicate that the FAA made formal notification about American Flight 77
at 9:24 a.m. But information about the flight was conveyed continuously
during the phone bridges before the formal notification." So now we
have in question whether there was an informal real-time communication
of the situation, including Flight 77's situation, to personnel at
NORAD. Can you give us from your experience -- obviously you were not
there on the 11th -- but on your experience what this phone bridge
communication is all about, and whether it is likely in view of this
communication we have just received, that there was some informal
communication of the distress of Flight 77?
MR. CANAVAN: Well, this sounds to me when they went into
the command center they started calling up these different
organizations. That's the phone bridge. And they were probably doing
the right thing, because they didn't have all the information to bring
in -- it sounds like they brought in the LNO. He opened up his bridge
to NORAD. So then you get these organizations talking to one another
while above you people are trying to figure out, What do we really have
here? That's what it sounds like to me.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: So would there be an expectation that the
military personnel on this phone bridge, which is that another name for
a conference call? MR. CANAVAN: Yes, or it could be a VTC, it could be
anything that -- anything that --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: But in the nature of a conference call?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: -- in which parties dial into a central.
MR. CANAVAN: Yes, and in our JOC there you call up, you get a phone bridge, and that's an open line to that organization.
BEN-VENISTE: So if the military were apprised, as FAA is now telling
us, in real time of what FAA is seeing on its radars, and now focusing
specifically on Flight 77, that would mean that someone at NORAD was
advised of the deviation from course, which is substantially earlier
than the formal notification of hijacking. Would it have been expected
that receiving that information the military personnel or NORAD
personnel on that phone bridge, would communicate with other NORAD
facilities, apprising them of the information he or she was learning in
MR. CANAVAN: I think, to answer your question, I would
think that they would pass it to someone within the NORAD command
center, because that person on that phone is a radio operator, and he
takes the log, and he turns around and he gives it to someone and says,
We have a problem. He may not know what the problem is. All they know
is an airplane is deviating from course, and they are not too sure why,
and, Okay, more to follow.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Would it be expected that the people
participating in this phone bridge that day would themselves have
maintained a log of what they were hearing?
MR. CANAVAN: I would think so.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Would it also be expected that there would be a tape recording of that phone bridge?
MR. CANAVAN: I don't know about that. I don't know about a tape recording.
BEN-VENISTE: I think these are some profitable areas for us to explore
as we request additional information. Thank you very much.
MR. CANAVAN: You're welcome.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: Ms. Gorelick.
GORELICK: General Canavan, thank you for your testimony here today.
Just so I can locate you within the bureaucracy, your title was
MR. CANAVAN: Yes.
MS. GORELICK: Did you report to Administrator Garvey directly?
MR. CANAVAN: I reported to her deputy and also to Ms. Garvey.
MS. GORELICK: Okay, and Ms. Garvey reported directly to the secretary, or --
MR. CANAVAN: I believe she did, yes.
MS. GORELICK: All right, so you were four levels down in the bureaucracy? Is that about right?
MR. CANAVAN: Well, I would say three.
GORELICK: Three. All right, three to four, that's fine. I am interested
in the CSGs, the counterterrorism security group meetings that you
attended. That's a working group within the National Security Council?
MR. CANAVAN: Pardon me?
MS. GORELICK: That's a working group within the National Security Council?
CANAVAN: Yes, it's a working group, and it's an on-call meeting of the
interagency, again, chaired by the National Security Council.
MS. GORELICK: All right. And these meetings were chaired by Dick Clarke?
MR. CANAVAN: Dick Clarke most of the time. Sometimes -- well, the ones I went to Dick was the chair.
MS. GORELICK: After those meetings, your action was to send out notices to the airlines?
CANAVAN: Yes, if we felt it had -- the reason why I was there was
because there may have been an aviation piece to it. If there wasn't an
aviation piece, I did not attend these things.
MS. GORELICK: So clearly the NSC thought that there either
would be or could be an aviation security piece to the emergency that
was triggered by this very high level of warning and chatter and threat
reporting that was coming in. Is that correct?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes, that's correct.
MS. GORELICK: And the response of the FAA was to send out a notice, a circular? Is that correct?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes, information circular.
GORELICK: An information circular. And you had sent out some, I take it
from your testimony, about 15 of those over the course of 2001? So the
airlines received one of 15 circulars. Secretary Mineta stated this
morning that there was no action at the Cabinet level in response to
this crisis, no meeting of that sort. Are you aware of any meeting
above your level convened by the National Security Council or otherwise
to deal with this crisis?
MR. CANAVAN: I'm thinking here. The fact that -- I'm going
to assume something here, but the fact that they had a CSG, and they
thought it was important enough to get all the right people in the
room, to include State, CIA, DOD, FBI, FAA, et cetera, that, and
knowing Dick Clarke, he just didn't have a meeting to have a meeting.
He was passing out information, and he was also sometimes he was asking
for more information from some of these organizations -- that there was
a problem out there. And I would believe that these people would go
back to their organizations and then they would tell, you know would
pass up that there may be a problem here.
MS. GORELICK: Did you brief Secretary Mineta yourself on this issue?
CANAVAN: No. I passed up the ICs through my chain, which they would go
up from. I would sign them. They would go up to Monty. He would do it.
They would go up to Jane. And then at that point in time it was up to
them. You know, I could brief it or they could go over there and brief
it themselves. It's up to them -- depending on just how critical it
MS. GORELICK: So you passed the information circular up the
line and your assumption is that that piece of paper moved up the three
or four levels within the organization?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes.
MS. GORELICK: In answer to
some questions about the red teams, I think you said that when reports
form the red teams went up the line, that as they went up two and three
and four layers, that the reports might lose some of their intensity,
that they could get watered down in impact. Can you imagine that the
same thing might have happened with an information circular that you
copied up the line, and then they --
MR. CANAVAN: No. They would have to completely rewrite it, and then they would have to sign it.
GORELICK: Oh, I'm not suggesting that -- I'm sorry, I am not suggesting
that the writing would get changed, but just the level of intensity, if
you were sitting there as Secretary Mineta that you might not see it as
intense if, A, you don't hear it in person from the National Security
Council; or, B, you get something from someone of considerable
responsibility at your level, but nevertheless several layers down in
MR. CANAVAN: Well, they can read it. I mean, it was pretty
cut and dried. It said, for the one on July 18th, "we have no specific
information on threat to civil aviation. The FAA urges all civil
aviation security personnel to continue to demonstrate a high degree of
alertness." Again, these things go out based on what we're being told.
To get back to the red team, I'm the one that passes out
the information on the red team for the staff and to the airlines and
that. Did Ms. Garvey see some of the red team results? Probably not.
But these were things we were working internally to fix where we knew
there was a problem.
MS. GORELICK: What I'm trying to get at is the level of
intensity of response to the threat warnings that were coming into our
government as a whole. And we know from your testimony and from other
information that is already in the public record that there were these
counterterrorism security group meetings. We are unaware of any
meetings above the CSG level. And so just for the record I'm asking you
- you've speculated, and I am asking you, Do you know of any meetings
above your level?
MR. CANAVAN: No.
MS. GORELICK: Do you know of
any instruction to the intelligence agencies to surge their
intelligence? Do you know of any alert that went to NORAD to be
particularly on the alert as a result of these meetings?
MR. CANAVAN: No.
MS. GORELICK: Thank you. One
other question. Someone of your background and tenure who is brought
into the civilian agency at the level you were brought in at might be
assumed to serve more than ten months. And I know this is a sensitive
question, but I really just want to ask you whether you came to a
substantive parting of the ways with your superiors at FAA and the
Department of Transportation.
MR. CANAVAN: We had a disagreement on an issue that I couldn't support. That's really all I'll say in this forum.
MS. GORELICK: Thank you.
MR. KEAN: And finally, Commissioner Fielding.
FIELDING: Yes, General, thank you for being with us. Some of my
colleagues have asked you some of the questions that I was going to
ask, so I would just briefly -- obviously we'll want to follow up with
you on your last answer, however. But it seems to me in looking at this
and the security systems with which you were involved that screening is
a very vital part of the security system and a very vulnerable juncture
in the security process. And yet prior to 9/11 screeners were only
required to have three hours of on-the-job training, as we understand
it. Now, is there a way to reconcile that with the intensity and the
sensitivity of the mission they were performing?
MR. CANAVAN: Sir, as I remember it, it was 12 hours of
formal instruction, and 40 hours of OJT under supervision on the site.
That was the standard.
MR. FIELDING: That's very helpful, thank you. The other
thing is that in your prepared testimony, and your testimony today, you
said that -- you were talking about the counterterrorism security group
meetings that Commissioner Gorelick was just asking you about, and you
said, "Nonetheless, the entire CTG community, including law
enforcement, intelligence agencies, were placed on the highest alert.
We all sent out notifications that heightened security measures be put
into place immediately." The FAA sent out SDs and ICs to all interested
parties. Did interested parties include the airlines?
MR. CANAVAN: No, that's not a good term. It went out to
every -- airlines, airports, all officials, all security officials that
we had regulatory oversight.
MR. FIELDING: So --
MR. CANAVAN: That's not very well stated. It went to everyone who was supposed to get a copy of it.
MR. FIELDING: And the 'supposed to get a copy of it' included the airlines?
MR. CANAVAN: Yes, of course.
FIELDING: The reason I'm asking is that Mr. May, on behalf of ATA
yesterday, his testimony indicated that the FAA provided the airlines
with no specific guidance and credible information about hijackings
during all of 2001 up to and including September 11th, and that you
issued no relevant security directives in that regard.
MR. CANAVAN: The security directives -- we had five that
were still -- you have to, when you open up a security directive, you
have to close it. So you have a continuation of security directives
over time, and until you close it that security directive was still in
force. And a lot of what we saw this summer -- those security
directives were still out there and they were in force. The only
information we had -- again, it gets back to the intelligence piece --
we really had no credible or actionable intelligence that told us this
was really going to happen. In other words, this is a real threat, we
are hearing, this, this, this, this and this from this organization. It
was just again in the chatter piece so to speak. None of it was ever
talked about being held in the United States. It was all overseas --
Israel, Europe and some other -- I forget where else. So that's with
these -- when we put out these SDs, and also the information circulars
are the same type of thing -- it says like on January 1st, "Alert U.S.
carriers to the continuing possibility of violence against American
citizens and interests throughout the world due to the unrest in the
Middle East." In other words, if you are flying into the Middle East --
Delta Airlines, then, you know, pay attention. Up your level of
alertness there at Tel Aviv when you are boarding passengers. That type
But, again, there was no actionable intelligence that even
hinted to me, or to anyone within my organization, that there was a
threat to aviation. What we did -- again, you know, you just kind of
look at it and say, Well, in 1998 there was the fatwa and that thing
was still out there. Bin Laden did say he wanted to do certain things.
And so a prudent person says, Okay, this is what we are reading, this
is what we are seeing. So, you know, pay attention to what you are
doing here. And we also -- this went out to the agents too, and that's
where -- and when you do that you increase your inspections also. So
those are certain actions that take place.
I don't know if I'm answering your question, but --
FIELDING: Well, but I am trying to determine whether in fact you issued
during the year 2001 to the airlines security directives dealing with
anything having to do with terrorism.
MR. CANAVAN: Yes. I don't have them in front of me.
MR. FIELDING: No, but could you supply them to us?
CANAVAN: Sure. We had five, I believe -- 15 ICs and five SDs during
that period of time that discussed what you are talking about.
MR. FIELDING: Well, thank you very much. That's all I had, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: General, thank you very much for your time today and for your service. We appreciate it.
MR. CANAVAN: Thank you.
MR. KEAN: I'd ask Mr. McHale, Major General Steele, Ms. Schiavo.
is now Stephen McHale, deputy administrator, Transportation Security
Administration. TSA has assumed security responsibilities not only for
aviation, but a number of other transportation modes as well. Following
him will be Retired Major General O.K. Steele. We have asked him to
focus especially on the Lockerbie/Pan Am Commission recommendations in
his perspective as associate administrator for civil aviation security
when the report was issued in 1990. Our final witness -- or whatever
order you go in -- I know you've got a time problem. I'd ask everybody
to summarize and just get into questions. Ms. Schiavo?
MS. SCHIAVO: Schiavo.
MR. KEAN: Schiavo. Former
inspector general for the Department of Transportation, and she has a
number of perspectives on these various issues. So who would like to go
MS. SCHIAVO: I have a time problem, so -- My instructions were to summarize in three minutes. Is that correct?
MR. KEAN: Yes, go ahead. Move things along, and I apologize to the witnesses.
SCHIAVO: That's all right. With your permission then I will just submit
my entire statement for the record with the attachments, and I will
summarize it very briefly.
Just following up on a couple of things that the previous
witness said, I think I can shed light on a few questions. For example,
you asked him, and he commented about, the negotiating down of the
fines and the problems that were found. When I was inspector general we
actually investigated that. We looked at what was the result of the
fines that were proposed for very serious violations and what happened
to them. Why was no one ever held accountable? And the problem was that
it turned out to be about 10 cents on the dollar. You would see a lot
of big fines proposed, a lot of saber-rattling, a lot of tough talk.
But months or years down the pike, when all the attention of the hour
went away, the real result was about 10 cents on the dollar. And I did
put in my testimony over the last three years preceding the 9/11
attacks both the carriers, American and United, did have record numbers
of fines, one at $3.4 million and one at 3.6. But when you consider
that's about ten cents on the dollar, that would recognize a really
staggering number of violations. And, as the previous witness said, in
some cases it became paying as opposed to improving, because it was
easier to pay the fines and go on without a big investment.
Another thing that is very, very important to note, and I
must take a little bit of issue with some of the previous testimony,
and because it's a very common public misconception, is that the
responsibility and the obligation for security is now passed from the
airlines to the TSA. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have
put in my testimony what the current law is. The current law is very
similar to the previous law in that both airlines and airports do still
share security responsibility. And I agree with the previous witness it
is absolutely imperative. You cannot possibly lift that from the
airlines or airports, because then you have lost a very important
component of your triad for safety and security in this country. But it
is still the law that they are responsible for it. And that's why the
actions committee is so very important, because what we have seen time
and time before is that there really isn't any accountability. You have
these tragedies -- and I put in my testimony some -- hopefully some
rather sobering numbers. We hear a lot of testimony, a lot of public
urban legend about nothing like this has ever happened before. It
hasn't happened in the United States. Planes have never been used as
weapons of terror or destruction. And in many cases I had to resort --
and I want to point this out because it was very important -- in many
cases to do our original research we had to result to media reports
because, among other things, lots of obscure government regulations
sometimes inhibit good institutional memory -- for example, the sundown
rules on government records. We very routinely -- and I was a
government employee myself for, I suppose if you add all the service
together, almost two decades. But the problem is is you toss out your
records, you send them off to Boyers, Pennsylvania, you shred them up
in the shredder -- legally, I might add, after three years. And there
goes your institutional memory. Parties change, people move on, people
retire, and everyone ceases to remember what has really happened.
And if, with your permission, I'll stand up here for a
second, because I think I can shed some light on some of these now
erroneous misconceptions about security. First of all, about the
warnings -- and I put this in my testimony -- everybody said, Well,
nobody knew about any direct threats. We then had Condoleezza Rice talk
about 15 very -- there's an argument over define "specific" -- but they
are pretty specific warnings. In fact, we had in the Federal Register
on July 17, 2001, some rather alarming language. And, by the way, the
carriers were alerted to this, because they responded to this notice of
proposed rulemaking, complaining about the expense that the security
would cost them. So they were very clearly put on notice, because they
complained. And, in particular, this Federal Register, published for
all to see, clearly still out there for us lawyers to go get, said,
"The terrorist threat level in the United States over the next decade
will remain at least as high as it is and will probably rise. Expanding
geographical range of terrorist activity is increasingly evident.
Members of foreign terrorist groups, representatives from state
sponsors of terrorism, and radical fundamentalist elements are present
in the United States." This particular Federal Register goes on at
length. Indeed, there were additional pages talking about the threat,
and in particular it pointed out the threat events in Asia in 1995 in
which attacks on 12 jetliners and attacks on buildings was anticipated.
And finally, it goes on to mention that civil aviation, and
I quote, "Civil aviation targets may be chosen by terrorists even if
alternative, and softer targets are available, especially since an
attack on aviation seizes the public's imagination to a degree
unequaled by other types of attacks." So I find it interesting that a
lot of after-the-fact facts are being created, but there it was in the
Another thing that's important to point out is what the
threat really is. And I think the mistake we have made so many times in
the past is that as a nation we continue to respond to the last attack.
So we were busy talking about bombs in suitcases, when there were many
other things going on. And so I put in there, and again, for a lot of
these, because the institutional memory is gone, we had to resort to
public accounts of things that have happened. And we had many things
happen. In 1970 to 2001, hijackings, cockpit intrusions were, contrary
to what people say, common -- bombings, shootdown and air rage
In the short months just preceding 9/11, we had 30 cockpit
intrusions. The thought that you can't get into the cockpit is belied
by the facts. There they were, 18 months. Now, we are all talking about
bombs on jetliners, bombing the plane, something we are all busy as a
nation and as a government focused on on 9/11. Indeed, I was able to
find 31 from 1970 to 2001. But there were many other things going on.
In particular, there was lots of air raging -- things going on in
airplanes. I use United's own numbers for that: 531, 621, 454 -- and
they didn't have any data for 2001. The FAA didn't match even United's,
which was interesting. The FAA's range from 320 to 266. There was a
whole lot going on on those airplanes, including cockpit intrusion that
our data wasn't collecting.
In particular, the air rage incidents often turned ugly and
violent. Indeed, passengers and others were harmed -- or died -- before
9/11. When I resorted to looking, not on our official government
reports, but looking to the First Amendment for some real data, I got
an astounding 47,402 from 1994 to 2001. And the most astonishing figure
of all to me, and a real alarm, and I know it's not exactly what the
hearings are about, but the whole idea is to protect Americans was this
number. When I resorted to looking at reports other than official
government reports to find instances where planes were shot at or shot
down, in particular two weeks ago or a few weeks ago we heard about the
incident against the Israeli plane, and people were saying, Well,
that's hasn't been done before. It has -- 59 times I found when I
resorted to data other than just government data where that's occurred.
And finally, the biggest shock, when I did research across
the board, is I came up with 823 airlines hijacked from '70 to 2001;
115 of those hijackings the passengers or the crew were able to
overcome them, were able to fight back. Look at that savings there.
They were able to save their lives, save the plane, save the carrier,
in those incidences. So in this country we had all these supposed these
warnings, these things that went out, but no one was allowed to know.
Even now after the fact they are saying, Well, these are all secret,
you can't know them. Something could have been done, even with
information. Information may have indeed been the most powerful weapon
we had, and not only was it not told to the persons who might actually
been able to do something about it; now, in retrospect, it's all a big
Finally, we had 109 airlines on U.S. soil; 58 on foreign soil. Surprisingly, 11 foreign on U.S. soil.
probably the biggest or most alarming urban legend that has come out,
and I have a difficult time figuring or excusing that was accidental --
is the after-the-fact statements that no rules were broken on 9/11.
What could you have done? Nothing was wrong. Nobody violated any laws,
nobody violated any federal regulations. That is absolutely false. In
my statement I go over the various federal regulations that require
security on the various carriers and obligations on them. And then of
course we all heard, including persons you have heard from, who went on
the media to say box cutters were allowed. They were not, most
assuredly not, allowed. This comes from the regulations and the
guidelines that the carriers use to do their security. And, by the way
MR. KEAN: We're exceeding the three minutes a bit. (Laughter.)
SCHIAVO: Okay. And neither was pepper spray. Pepper spray absolutely
not allowed. Two, we know for a fact they didn't find any of them,
because certain events are supposed to happen when you find those. None
of those events happened. So there's a lot of urban legend out there
going on, but it's important to get the facts out so this isn't
repeated, and to look at the other possibilities.
MR. KEAN: Thank you.
MS. SCHIAVO: Thank you.
MR. KEAN: Mr. McHale?
McHALE: Good morning, Governor Kean and distinguished commissioners. I
am happy to be here on behalf of Admiral James Loy, the administrator
of the Transportation Security Administration. Unfortunately, he wasn't
able to be here today, but I am sure he will be glad to answer any
questions you may have for him at a later date.
At the outset, on behalf of all TSA, I want you to know
that each day our thoughts are with the families and friends of those
who perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Their loss has
steeled our determination to fulfill the responsibilities that the
president and Secretary Ridge, Secretary Mineta, Congress and the
American people have entrusted to us.
The nine stars and eleven stripes behind the American eagle
on our logo are a daily reminder to us of the importance of our
responsibilities. Using a systems approach, we have established a
network of overlapping layers to prevent and deter terrorists from
using our aviation system as a target or a weapon. Today, highly
trained federal employees screen every bag and every passenger at
almost 450 commercial airports. Airport checkpoints are redesigned. We
use state-of-the-art X-ray systems and metal detectors. Explosive
detection systems are installed in airports across the country. We have
expanded the federal air marshal service from just 33 on 9/11 to the
largest, best trained and most professional air protective force in
aviation history. Bomb-sniffing canine teams work the entire airport
environment, randomly screening checked baggage, cargo mail, searching
unattended bags, responding to bomb threats, and at higher threat
levels checking vehicles approaching terminals.
The Federal Aviation Administration has ensured that
cockpit doors are hardened on all passenger aircraft. And just recently
TSA has begun deploying volunteer armed pilots as federal flight deck
officers. And through our 19 overseas offices, we continue to work
aggressively with our foreign counterparts to ensure the security of
international aviation. Most importantly, we have dramatically
increased intelligence collection and sharing on threats to
transportation. Our Transportation Security Intelligence Service
receives, assesses and distributes intelligence on threats to
transportation and operates an around-the-clock watch tied to all
national and law enforcement intelligence programs. We have direct
connections with our field operations across the country and security
centers of major transportation stakeholders.
As part of DHS, we are now integrating our intelligence
analysis and products with other intelligence communities of the
department. The top DHS and TSA leaders receive daily intelligence
briefs. We know that our enemies are alert and resourceful, perpetually
probing for weaknesses in our systems, and TSA reassesses its
operations and policies to seek improvement to meet new and evolving
terrorist threats. We have tried as hard as we can to learn the lessons
of 9/11, and we have tried to build them into our corporate culture.
To help TSA maintain a high level of performance and
continually improve, TSA conducts aggressive covert testing -- we don't
use the term "red team," but perhaps that's an easy shorthand for you
-- conducts aggressive covert testing of all aviation security systems,
including screening checkpoints, access control, baggage screening
systems and catering security. These tests are intentionally designed
with a high probability of beating the system some of the time. If we
were not so aggressive we would not be able to identify vulnerabilities
and avenues for improvement. Admiral Loy and I and other senior members
of TSA are briefed on the results of those tests. These tests provide
instantaneous feedback, and after the tests are completed in an
airport, the testers sit down with the screening managers and the
screeners themselves to explain how they beat the system when they've
beaten the system, so that there can be instant feedback and
opportunities for on-site training of airport security personnel.
Let me address, if I could, Mr. Chairman, those airport
security personnel. We are immensely proud of our screener work force,
and they come from all walks of life and are motivated by a strong
desire to make sure that nothing like 9/11 happens ever again. But as
with any large work force put together in such a short time, we face
challenges. The first is budgeting -- the need to balance payroll
against operational support needs. It does no good to hire the best and
to give them the best training if you cannot support them on the job.
We must provide them with continuous training and recertification. We
must give them the best tools to do the job, and we must maintain those
tools. And we must also ensure that all airports are properly staffed.
Accordingly, and with much internal pain, over the next three months we
will be reducing our work force by 6,000 screeners, to ensure that the
49,000 who remain are well supported and we are distributing the
screener work force from some over-staffed airports to some
under-staffed ones. But in managing this reduction, our number one
concern is to maintain the highest level of security. We are also going
to extraordinary lengths to check our screeners' backgrounds, and we
continue to do so. All screeners are fingerprinted and checked against
FBI records. They are also subjected to Choice Point and OPM background
checks. Virtually all had the FBI and Choice Point checks before they
started work. And as we now complete the longer, more detailed OPM
checks, we are moving quickly to address any problems that are
Looking ahead in aviation security, TSA is pursuing a dual
path of improving its core security programs at commercial airports,
while launching new measures to protect aviation facilities, air cargo
and general aviation from possible attack.
To identify potential airport perimeter vulnerabilities, we
are conducting inspections of facilities and critical assets at each
airport, and developing countermeasure to thwart potential threats. For
example, we are conducting detailed site assessments at over 50
airports to identify areas of vulnerability to shoulder-launched air
defense missile systems, and we are educating local law enforcement
organizations to that threat.
TSA is moving forward to increase security of maritime,
transit, highway, rail, and pipeline systems, and I detail some of
those efforts in my written testimony. We are working on many other
fronts, such as awarding grants to improve the security of ports and
cargo, and working with the Coast Guard and other parts of DHS and DOT
to design a terrorist risk assessment tool tailored specifically to
maritime and surface transportation facilities. We are working with our
other federal partners to ensure intermodal consistency in setting
assessment and security improvement standards proportionate to risk for
the national transportation system.
In accomplishing our mission, we are acutely aware of the
challenge in maintaining balance between freedom and security, and
between security and customer service. Our mission is simply stated: it
is to ensure the fundamental American freedom, the freedom of movement
for people and commerce. We will meet the needs and expectations of the
American people with the greatest consideration for their privacy and
the least disruption to their routine behavior. But we must protect
them from terrorist attacks so they feel free to move. Our top priority
is providing maximum security with minimum intrusion.
Thanks to the team work of TSA and our partners in private
industry at DHS and DOT and in state and local governments, our
nation's transportation system is more secure today than it was
yesterday, and it will be more secure tomorrow than it is today. We
look forward to working with the commission in the coming months as you
develop recommendations for aviation and trading partner security, and
of course I'm pleased to answer any questions you may have.
MR. KEAN: Thank you for that. General Steele.
STEELE: Governor Kean, distinguished members of the Commission, I am
Major General O.K. Steele, United States Marine Corps, retired. I
served as the assistant administrator for civil aviation security from
1 November of 1990 to 1 November of 1993. You have my statement in the
record. I tried to highlight those years that I was in active service;
in the second part I try to address the future.
That summarizes mine, except that I would like to make one
correction from what you heard yesterday. Your last witness, Mr.
Dzakovic, mentioned that he believed that I was fired or had to leave
under force or something like that. That's not actually true. When I
was hired as ACS they had to do it under a somewhat very quickly and
under a kind of emergency situation. And under the rules provided, I
believe by the Office of Personnel Management, the secretary of the
Treasury or the secretary of transportation had that authority, and he
could vet me as an ACS without having to go into any sort of
competitive selection process. And that's what was done. But it could
only be done for up to three years and then had to be re-vetted. It was
my choice to leave after three years.
MR. KEAN: Thank you. Congressman Roemer?
ROEMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you again for your testimony
here this afternoon. And, Ms. Schiavo, I hope you can stay with us a
little while. Your testimony is very intriguing and extremely
interesting to us. Let me start with the whole concept here of your
background. For those that don't know, you were appointed by President
Bush -- is that right?
MS. SCHIAVO: That's correct, the first one.
ROEMER: The first President Bush. And the first President Clinton, if
that's a term to be used -- I don't know if that's --
MS. SCHIAVO: I guess we could say that.
MR. ROEMER: President William Jefferson Clinton appointed you or kept you in place --
MS. SCHIAVO: The male one.
MR. ROEMER: -- as the inspector general at the Department of Transportation, is that correct?
MS. SCHIAVO: That's correct.
MR. ROEMER: And you were there from 1990 to 1996?
MS. SCHIAVO: That's also correct.
ROEMER: And we are going to hear a lot I think over the course of the
next 12 months about actionable intelligence and strategic intelligence
and predictive intelligence, and maybe even prescriptive intelligence.
Actionable intelligence, if it is what Mr. McHale might think it is --
is that, Ms. Schiavo, when somebody says, "John Brown is going to bomb
the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis on August the 16th, 2004"?
MS. SCHIAVO: Well, that depends who you ask. Including the
times that I was in the Department of Transportation, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation is the entity that makes the threat assessment
and then provides the additional intelligence, which of course the FAA
fans out to the airlines. But the difference in that, or the key in
that statement is the regulations, the security regulations, the
operational effect at the airports and the airlines is not supposed to
fall down to illegal levels, if I may say that. Because, frankly, when
you don't meet the federal aviation regulations you are operating
illegally. And so the threat assessment was not supposed to be used to
say, Okay, today you really do have to do your job, as opposed to the
other 364 days of the year when you can slop off, go to sleep, and hire
felons to do your security. So I think one of the biggest problems we
have, if everybody is talking about actionable intelligence, but for
the levels that we are talking about at the airport, they aren't
intelligence officers. And so I think in some ways it's a misnomer to
get hung up on who said what to whom.
MR. ROEMER: So warnings coming in, if I understand what you
just said, warnings coming in can take all kinds of different
variations that can be threats overseas, it can be chatter in the
intelligence, it could be something that happened in the Philippines or
other places. Is that correct?
MS. SCHIAVO: Sure.
MR. ROEMER: So we could have
information circulars and security directives triggered by these little
bit more vague activities that seem to be occurring more and more and
more as we reach the spring and the summer of 2001. Is that correct?
MS. SCHIAVO: Well, that's correct. And I think that you
have seen that in the 15. For example, one was very specific about cell
phones and others were less specific, like, people are training to
MR. ROEMER: Let me get there. Let me then with that in
mind, back in 1994 and '95 it was discovered that Osama bin Laden had a
plot, called the Bujinka plot, that was discovered on a hardware drive
in Manila, that outlined the possibility of blowing up 12 airliners
over the Pacific, and also crashing a plane into Langley in the
domestic United States. He also speculated about testing that, and had
a bomb on a plane, that the bomb went off, the plane landed, I think
one person was killed. You were in the Department of Transportation as
IG at that point. Did you recommend any changes after that took place?
Did this hit your radar screen? Did the government in the Department of
Transportation do anything about this warning?
MS. SCHIAVO: Actually during that period of time we did two
major security reviews, and we made a number of recommendations. The
first one resulted in Congressional hearings in I believe '92 or '93.
The second one resulted in hearings in '96. And so we had two ongoing
overall reviews for that, and I will say that probably the sort of
highest level of attention still centered on events that were closer to
home in terms of things that actually affected the United States. There
was still a lot of work on the Pan Am aftermath, trying to get the Pan
Am recommendations implemented -- which some of them never did get
implemented -- and working on the buildup to the Atlanta Olympics.
MR. ROEMER: So in your two major investigations, did
anything change as a result of the attention that you brought to these
MS. SCHIAVO: Temporarily. When we would investigate, when
we would make these findings, and we were very similar to the gentlemen
you heard from yesterday from the red team, we did very similar work,
and people would get sort of excited and there would be a level of
enthusiasm. For example, we did it twice in six years, and then it
would calm down, and people would sort of lose their drive. The big
problem we had on our second major investigation is we learned later,
and the extent of which I had only learned from some of Bogdan's
testimony -- the second investigation that we did probably was not as
accurate as it could have been, because many of the airports were
warned that we were coming, including by the FAA. So some of that was
MR. ROEMER: So, if I could fairly sum up what you've said,
ephemeral temporary changes, nothing that permanently would alter the
way that somebody could exploit the system at that point.
MS. SCHIAVO: In documentable, statistical changes they reverted quickly to their old patterns.
ROEMER: Let's start to jump ahead then to right into the spring of 2001
and the summer of 2001. I think Commissioner Ben- Veniste and myself
outlined a host of different intelligence discovering by the
intelligence community that started popping up through the next five or
six years, including the Los Angeles incident at the millennium, where
somebody was going to explode a bomb in the LA Airport.
Then we come into the spring, and there are 15 information
circulars issued, and there are five security directives issued in a
fairly compressed time period. Is this highly unusual, this number 20?
Is this standard? Give me some sense of how these people reading these
kinds of security directives might be alarmed at this, or simply this
is just standard operating procedure for them.
MS. SCHIAVO: That's a -- I mean, I don't call it chatter. I
mean, that's a lot of information, and that's a lot of warnings. And
you know I have some information that doesn't stem from my service in
the government. For example, I mean now a lot of people call me with
information because of the work that I do correct. And, for example, I
have learned that there was some discussion, that there was extra
attention, if you will, during that period of time, and there was a
heightened -- I don't want to say "alert," but there was -- and
"chatter" seems to be the word that everybody uses. So there was sort
of a heightened chatter level, and things were going on. There was
discussion about the situation and training, et cetera. But, again, you
got down to the problem of intelligence doesn't go to the lower level
people who are supposed to be doing their jobs. So did that translate
into operational success? Clearly not.
MR. ROEMER: You mentioned in your testimony, in your
written testimony on page 13 anyway, an August circular, and you
mention the national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, in this, and
she mentions the possible use of cell phones and key chains and pens as
weapons and so forth. Is this something you cite because it happened at
that time, or is this something that the national security advisor
explained after September 11th?
MS. SCHIAVO: No, I mean -- that happens to be one of the
ones I've seen. I mean, that was one of the warnings that went out
during that time. The reason I used her summary from the news media is
obviously including in the litigation we have not been able to get
those warnings yet.
MR. ROEMER: And what litigation are you involved in?
SCHIAVO: Our firm represents a number of the passenger families who
perished on 9/11, and that litigation is proceeding in New York City.
MR. ROEMER; And just to be clear for the record, how many people do you represent in that?
MS. SCHIAVO: Forty-seven.
MR. ROEMER: Forty-seven.
MS. SCHIAVO: Only passengers.
ROEMER: You also mentioned in your testimony -- you talk about citing
information that credited FBI sources with respect to pre-positioned
weapons, a targeted fifth plane, the possession by terrorists of ramp
passes, security badges and pilot credentials. Is this information that
you gathered from media accounts and media sources, or is this
something that you got from other accounts? Can you be much more
specific as to what you have evidence of here?
MS. SCHIAVO: Right. Certainly most of the things credited
to the FBI sources, as I mentioned they were credited in public or
media reports without persons' names attached to them.
MR. ROEMER: Do you have anything else that you can add to that?
SCHIAVO: Again, the information that we have in the litigation has not
come from actual litigation, because so far the government has said
it's sensitive security information. But I have talked to certain other
witnesses. But in terms of actually getting the FBI reports, no, we do
not. We do not have those reports.
MR. ROEMER: You mentioned, and I think Mr. McHale mentioned
red teams. I think Mr. McHale referred to them as "covert teams," or
"covert testing programs." We had a witness here yesterday that you
call a hero in your written testimony. He is very critical of these red
teams' performances. That the information doesn't get to the
appropriate people. And he also went on to say that they are not
aggressive at all now, I think it's fair to state -- not quoting him,
but paraphrasing him I think that's what he finally said. Do you think
that these red teams are aggressive enough today to test the system
thoroughly, to make people feel safe?
MS. SCHIAVO: It depends who their leader is and how much
support they get. I had the same kinds of teams, and mine were very
good, but they got very disillusioned like Bogdan, because when you
would see that the administration didn't respond to what you found,
they got quite disillusioned. But we thought they were quite
successful, and we, for the ones that I had, we got some really
tremendous findings and located some vulnerabilities. I thought they
MR. ROEMER: And how do you make sure -- how do you ensure
that these red teams are successful in the future? How do you, as an
inspector general who is somewhat insulated in the system, for very
specific institutional reasons, how do you try to make sure the red
teams have the autonomy to do their job well, to potentially embarrass
people and get good results of weaknesses in the system without being
punished for that? Where is the balance there? How did you achieve it
in your tenure there?
MS. SCHIAVO: Well, I awarded those who did it. But I was
criticized for that too. I was called "The Gotcha IG." So I mean I
rewarded them. I liked it. They certainly weren't punished for making
great findings, and they were rewarded for that. But I wasn't in the
line-up of the FAA. I was an independent, had an independent
organization. We didn't have to answer to the FAA, and technically not
even to the secretary of transportation. So my employees were rewarded
and remained I think pretty tough.
MR. ROEMER: Well, again, I don't want to take up a lot of
time. I want other commissioners to be able to ask some questions as
well, too. But we appreciate your testimony, and I will turn over the
rest of that time to Commission Gorton.
MR. GORTON: Mr. McHale, you are welcome here, and I hope
and trust that you can answer the widest range of questions. You won't
be offended by our view that we really do need your boss. We need the
admiral. You've said that that will be the case in the future, but I
think I need to begin this by reminding you of that. We are going to
need the number one person here. But I think you can probably answer
most of the questions that I'm going to have. And I begin with this:
What percentage or what number of boarding passengers have been in the
recent past stopped because they were discovered with prohibited
articles? Out of every thousand passengers, say who attempt to board,
how many are stopped and not just examined, but are actually found to
have prohibited articles on their person?
MR. MCHALE: We actually -- I think I look at the number a
little bit differently than that, because what we look at is the number
of things that we recover. I am not sure I have a specific per one
thousand passenger number for you. But we have recovered well in excess
-- almost I believe 2,000 firearms since we took over security. We have
recovered hundreds of thousands of knives. We recover a lot of other
kinds of prohibitive items, some of which are greater or lesser
threats. Passengers --
MR. GORTON: At this point I'm trying to get at the
psychology of that employee of yours who is doing this repetitively,
you know, hour after hour, day after day.
MR. MCHALE: I would say there are a significant number --
even at a good busy checkpoint there are checkpoint there are multiple
recoveries of prohibited items every day. Most of those are relatively
small items, sharp objects, things like that. Firearms would be rarer,
but at our major airports every single one of our major airports makes
multiple recoveries of firearms every year.
MR. GORTON: How many or what share, say the people that are
stopped with some prohibited item are carrying something that is so
serious or otherwise regarded as serious enough security risk so that
they are not permitted to board, even after you have taken those
articles away from them?
MR. MCHALE: Well, usually all. Generally people who are
carrying firearms or large knives generally are arrested, so they
obviously don't proceed. People that are carrying small items that may
have been overlooked in their packing or things like that generally are
going to be treated as just the item will be taken and they will be
allowed to proceed, although the airline is consulted on that. There
may be instances where you have somebody who tries to conceal the fact
that they are carrying a prohibited item, even a small relatively
innocent prohibited item. With that kind of concealment we will
generally stop them, interview them. They may be arrested. They're
almost certainly in that circumstance going to miss their flight, and
it will be up to the airline whether they rebook them or not.
MR. GORTON: Well, let me again try to get you to be a
little bit more precise. Out of every thousand or hundred thousand
boarding passengers, how many are arrested?
MR. MCHALE: Oh, we have almost two million passengers a day, and we probably have two or three arrests a day.
MR. GORTON: So approaching -- it's not much more than one in a million?
MR. MCHALE: Yes, right.
GORTON: As sensitive as this question may be, what is your current
estimate of the number of prohibited articles that you miss every day
out of those almost two million passengers?
MR. MCHALE: It's always very hard to estimate what you
miss, because you don't have it. We do some -- we do do some checking,
continue to do gate screening recoveries.
MR. GORTON: Well, you have your --
We have not generally recovered -- we have actually rarely in those
instances recovered larger items, like large knives and guns, although
we have recovered those after the checkpoint. There was a very well
known incident in New Orleans where that happened last year. But
generally the items that are recovered at the checkpoint are the
smaller items. It is a small percentage, probably in the --
MR. GORTON: Well, you have your checkers or your red teams
now who are testing. What's their share of success in getting away with
what they are carrying in the way of prohibited items?
MR. MCHALE: The red teams, we want the red teams to break the system.
MR. GORTON: I understand you do.
MCHALE: So we send them out to break the system. When their success
rate drops below 50 percent, we tell them to get harder. We tell them
to work harder at getting it through -- find other ways to get the
items into the system. That's their goal. So that's what we try to do
with them. We try to find any possible way to get a prohibited item
into the system.
MR. GORTON: All right, if your goal for your red team is 50 percent --
MR. MCHALE: Right.
GORTON: -- isn't it likely that 50 percent of those who are
deliberately attempting to beat the system and have rehearsed for a
while are not going to have the same degree of success?
MR. MCHALE: They might. Our red team of course understands
the system probably better than any terrorist does. So they probably
have an advantage over that. What we look at is we want to make it as
hard as possible for somebody intentionally to get something into the
system, basically so that it becomes almost impossible for them to plan
to get something into the system. That way they will go to another
Also, I think the second thing, and very important to point out here, is screening is just one level of security.
MR. GORTON: I will get to that in a moment. With respect to screening, however, is perfection obtainable?
MR. MCHALE: No.
MR. GORTON: How much closer to perfection do you think you can get?
MR. MCHALE: We are going to try to get as close as we can. But it will
never be perfect at all. There's no way it could be. You have human
factors, you have technology limitations, and you have the tremendous
pressure of the crowd. As I mentioned, we have almost 1.8 million
passengers a day. We have huge numbers of bags. So it's a huge job
every day to screen those people. I think we have to strive for
perfection, but I think we would be fooling ourselves.
MR. GORTON: I've spoken so far of passengers and the
passenger checking. Could you give me comparable answers with respect
to baggage checking? How much checked baggage do you stop because it
has prohibited articles in them? And how successful are your tests in
getting things through that system?
MR. MCHALE: There are obviously far fewer prohibited items
in checked baggage in the sense that there are few items on the list of
things that are prohibited. What we do recover occasionally are
firearms that are in checked bags that are not properly packed. You can
pack a firearm in checked baggage if you do it correctly and notify the
airplane. We find several of those a day, and take action against the
passenger, if appropriate, with law enforcement. We occasionally find
things like pepper spray or mace, which are regarded as hazardous
material and dangerous to put into checked baggage. We have not found
any bombs. We have only been doing it for about three months.
MR. GORTON: Let me go to one other level, and I would like
you to describe what you think both the functions and the effectiveness
of the marshal system is. What share of flights now, whether all
flights or relatively long-distance flights in which an aircraft taking
off has a large amount of fuel on board actually are protected by an on
MR. MCHALE: We don't discuss in open session the deployment
of the air marshals. I would be happy to provide that in a classified
forum. I can tell you though that air marshals today, unlike prior to
9/11, fly both domestically and internationally, and we do cover a
significant portion of the flights.
MR. GORTON: Have there been any -- you can tell me whether
this is classified as well -- have there been any air marshal arrests
or interdictions of what appeared to be not passenger rage but actual
attempts at hijacking or destroying aircraft?
MR. MCHALE: There have been arrests of passengers who were
considered to be a potential threat. As far as I know there have not
been any attempt to hijack U.S. domestic aircraft since we have been
out there. So I think I'd probably have to leave it at that.
MR. GORTON: To what extent is TSA experimenting with or
considering either additional or certain forms of profiling, and tell
me what they are at one end, and at the other end a trusted traveler
MR. MCHALE: The FAA has been using for years, really I
think since almost shortly after Pan Am 103, something called the CAPPS
I system. The CAPPS system it is called -- computer- assisted passenger
pre-screening. It started off being used for baggage screening purposes
-- what bags should be screened. But it was expanded after 9/11 to help
identify passengers. It's a bit of an old system. It's an old
technology based on airline reservation systems, and frankly isn't up
to the task that we need it to do today.
We are replacing that over the summer with what we call
CAPPS II. CAPPS II is an intelligence-based system on the government
computers. We will be using intelligence data basically to develop
systems programs to help us identify patterns of terrorism and identify
terrorists through that. It is not, however, a system that draws on
racial profiling or anything like that. That's not really a very useful
way to find terrorists, if you look today at the Jose Padillas and the
Richard Reids, that kind of ethnic profiling could well lead you in the
wrong direction potentially. So we don't -- that's not something we
really rely on.
In terms of registered traveler, that is probably -- the
way we look at that today is that will probably be a portion somehow
integrated into CAPPS II. Registered traveler system would give us an
ability to do a background check on a passenger that would be far
greater than anything we could do in the commercial environment in
which CAPPS has to operate. If we could get a significant level of
confidence in that, it would help assure us that the passenger does not
need to be subjected to additional security measures. But our
expectation at this time is that we will always maintain a certain
level of security screening for all passengers, regardless of whether
they are registered.
MR. GORTON: What's the source of your intelligence for CAPPS II?
MR. MCHALE: The intelligence community, the FBI -- basically the entire intelligence community.
MR. GORTON: And is that a relationship with which you are comfortable that you are getting what you need?
MCHALE: We have actually -- yeah, we have a very good relationship
today with the intelligence community. We have liaisons at all the
major agencies. Our people there, their people, some of their people,
with us. There's a tremendous flow of information. I was not at the FAA
on September 11th. I came to DOT at the end of 2001. But talking to the
people who work for me who were there, my impression is that the flow
of intelligence is far, far better today.
MR. GORTON: All of my questioning -- my questioning of you
and the earlier questioning has been directed at airline and aircraft
security. Close to 90 percent of your money, as I understand it, goes
into that form of transportation security?
MR. MCHALE: That's right.
MR. GORTON: And more than half of that into screening.
MR. MCHALE: That would be about right.
GORTON: In your long-range point of view, is that an independent
division of your resources? Does it reflect the threat and the scope
and seriousness of the threat when you take transportation safety,
which is the name of your agency as a whole?
MR. MCHALE: Transportation Security. Yeah, we do. The
budget that we have, the division we have is required to meet the
legislative mandates that we have. One of the things I addressed in my
opening remarks was the need to bring balance to that, to bring balance
to our very high payroll costs, to bring operational support. And a
piece of that also is to free up part of our budget to drive it over to
the other parts of our mission, to look at the other parts of the
transportation system. Asking a government bureaucrat whether he wants
more money is kind of like putting a kid in a candy store. But, I mean,
I think -- I mean, the reality is we could use more money, but we'll
divide it up.
MR. GORTON: Yeah, but if you were not subject to
Congressional constraints and you had the amount of money that you did
not, would you distribute it in the fashion that it is?
MR. MCHALE: I am not sure that we'd reduce the amount of money we are spending on aviation security.
MR. GORTON: But you might use an increase as somewhat disproportionately for other --
MR. MCHALE: That's correct, that's correct.
GORTON: General Steele, you were in at the beginning in a very real
sense of facing these problems over the first three years. You've been
an observer ever since, and you see Mr. McHale who is in at the present
time. Just in general terms, how effective and how dramatic in your
view have the changes been? Is, given the nature of some of the changes
and the threat, are we better off now than we were when you started?
And if you just had one or two things to say we ought to have as
immediate priorities, what would they be?
MR. STEELE: I'd be happy to answer that, Senator. First of
all, I have -- I am not privy to the figures that are coming back from
their testing, whether that be done electronically using the TIPS
system, which is both the training vehicle as well as it can be used to
evaluate screener performance. I know what it was when I was there, but
I don't know what they are getting. So how much better are they is a
very, very good question. This much better? This much better? That much
better? I don't know.
I think instinctively everybody believes that the fact that
they are federal employees and they have higher standards now. They
feel more comfortable about it with the security companies. But they
are the only ones who can really say that. I, from what I read though
in the paper, and when I say close to it, I say they're still being
penetrated too often too easily, even by the press and others who are
out there to evaluate or test the system and publicize it. So that
A few other things, if I may. I happen to be a believer in
the CAPPS system, but I was a believer in CAPPS I. The way Mr. McHale
is describing CAPPS II, I am not saying when that's going to be very
successful. CAPPS I was simply developed by the airlines based on
information they had to separate the knowns from the unknowns. The
president of Ford Motor Company is a million miler going through, we
don't have to spend much time on him. So it's a way to -- you know, the
whole system moves with bags and people at about every six seconds. So
it's a winnowing effect. If we can get the knowns through very, very
quickly, that offers us an opportunity to spend more time on the
unknowns. And that's what that was about. That seems to have been
reversed with CAPPS II, and now they are trying to identify a real
threat out there, and I don't think there is any way to do that
frankly, without going into some very, very intrusive things which I
don't think our society is ever going to accept.
I could go on to some other things on --
MR. GORTON: Well, I asked you for your two highest priorities.
MR. STEELE: Well, I would -- is that the last question I am going to get from the Commission?
MR. GORTON: I don't think so.
STEELE: I've got some views on a few other things, on red teams and
that sort of things as well, but I'll be happy to respond.
I would like to make a point also -- I think the question
is about standards. Are we going to get 100 percent? And of course I
agree with Mr. McHale's response. And I think you'll find everybody has
said that, including the Chapter VIII, as you look at Pam McLaughlin's
report also. She stresses that point on national will. And I think
everybody will say that. Even the security guards at El Al will tell
you exactly the same thing.
But even on the EDS, the automated explosive detection
systems, none of those systems were designed, nor did we certify them
to be 100 percent. We had to accept a probability detection rate less
than that when we designed those. I won't give it to you exactly what
it is, but I am sure your, some of your staff will tell you. But none
of it is designed to be 100 percent, even in our equipment.
MR. GORTON: Mr. McHale, I had one other perhaps
philosophical question for you. How do you keep your screeners
interested and alert when one out of one million passengers is going to
have a dangerous gun and be arrested for it? It just seems to me the
job is so routine that to keep people alert constantly, when of course
the only measure of their success is negative, you know, that nothing
bad happens. How do you deal with that?
MR. MCHALE: That has been a concern of all of us I think
who have been in this business. It certainly has been a concern of ours
as we have built this work force and as we go forwards. First of all,
when we say one in a million, remember that we have almost two million
a day, so that's a lot of people going through the system. So, you are
right, it sounds like not much, but as General Steele said it's really
one person every six seconds going through some of these major
checkpoints. It's not actually all that unusual to find something
significant. But that's actually not what we rely on.
What we rely on is every day we send out to all our
airports, as well as all our air marshal bases, intelligence briefs.
They are actually brought down to a very low level of classification,
since there's security information, so it can be widely shared. But
they identify things that have occurred around the world, or items that
have been found at airports, or ways things have been concealed, or
other sorts of information, to let the people know every day that there
is something, you know, that things are happening out there, to remind
them every day that this is in fact a real war they are in, it's an
We rely on our federal security directors, many of whom
have a sense of military or police or law enforcement experience, used
to working with teams and motivating teams. We rely on them to motivate
their screeners. And of course we test. We test the system. Not only do
we do the covert testing, but we have a more routine form of testing
that goes on at all the airports. Plus General Steele mentioned the
TIPS system, which is critical. It's one that we were challenged
frankly to get it on to every explosive detection machine in the
country as we went out last year and increased the production r ate
from 40 a year previously to over a thousand last year. We are putting
those on all the machines throughout this year. Our plan is to have
those all hooked up so that we can download new images. The TIPS
system, just very briefly, if you don't know what it is, is a system
that basically puts up a false image occasionally of a threat item in a
kind of hidden way that's a little difficult to see, and it puts that
up on the X-ray screen, and then we can actually measure how often our
X-ray technicians actually identify that item. So that helps with X-ray
screening. But we have to test all the other systems -- the wanding, we
have to recalibrate the metal detectors. So that is very important to
us. It is a human engineering issue, and it's one that we work very
hard to keep our people alert.
MR. STEELE: May I also just follow in on that, if I may,
sir? The answer is, first of all, it's not in money. The answer is in
that's, what we call the CSS, the supervisor. He is the key or she is
the key. And I found in the years that I was there if that supervisor
was good you had a pretty strong defense. And conversely it wasn't why
then you could penetrate it. Do you remember the movie "The Sands of
Iwo Jima." And you remember Sergeant Stryker who took these 12 young
Marines and trained them and got them ready for the battle of Iwo Jima,
and what he did and the coaching he did, and what he knew about the
strengths and weaknesses of each one of those youngsters. What we need
is a Sergeant Stryker at every one of our checkpoints, whenever that
checkpoint is open, who knows the people, knows them, knows that when
you put somebody on that screen that you need to warm up. You go out
and play tennis, you don't go out and just play tennis, you warm up. We
do the same for the screeners. Now, there are limits to how long. But
we found that when they made their errors was when they first went on
the machine. So you take your weak ones, and you take it when you're
not being surged but kind of the slower times, put your weaker one on
there, throw those test objects at him, train him, put the arm around
the shoulder. That's -- getting them trained.
And then, conversely, just like we went to sea and you were
at general quarters, you had a battle staff up on the bridge. During
the search times you got the varsity back out doing those things.
That's the person who knows and who can understand those rhythms is
what we really need. And it takes a long time. And it's leadership.
That's all it is, pure and simple. A lot of human factors at work,
which I hope you go into, is involved here, and we really are pushing
it at the end, and particularly in my last year was encouraging the air
carriers, that's where you need to make your investment. And I would
say TSA needs to follow through on that one. It's not money.
MR. MCHALE: I couldn't agree more, and obviously that's
what we do try to follow through on. We also move the people around
too. We don't want to leave somebody on any task too long. That causes
them to lose their edge, if you leave them at the X-ray machine for
hour after hour. So we rotate them around, try to encourage them.
And I think one last thing though that's important is you
also do need experience. And one of the problems that we found -- we
managed the contract screening operation for about six months before we
brought out the federal screeners, from February until almost November.
And one of the problems we found was whenever there was any testing
that revealed that an item got through the checkpoint, the screeners
were all fired who were responsible for it. And that became kind of the
expected thing: if something gets through the checkpoint, fire the
One of the things we tried to do is look at this as a
system. If something gets through the checkpoint that shouldn't have
gotten through the checkpoint, we need to look at the entire system:
Was the X-ray machine calibrated correctly? Was the metal detector
calibrated correctly? Is our training good enough? What are we doing?
What are we doing wrong? What is it -- I mean, obviously if the
screener is asleep we are going to fire the screener. But that's not --
I think there was a reaction, certainly in the time after 9/11, sort of
immediately after 9/1l. I don't know what was done before -- that was
every time there was a lapse at the checkpoint you fired the screener.
The result of that was you end up firing a lot of experienced people,
and not necessarily getting to the real cause of the problem. So that's
something else we look at very hard.
MR. STEELE: I found that women, for example -- senior women
were absolutely the best screener. It's something in their -- in their
pattern recognition-- I don't know if it's in their pattern analysis,
something that they do. But they they found things that I looked at --
I would have looked at it for million years and never see anything. But
they could pick it out in an instant. I don't know why it is. But those
are little tips, you know, the things you learn over time -- not all of
them. But they also had great ability to concentrate, and that's what
you need is somebody who is concentrating in that time that they are on
those machines. Conversely, they may not like to meet the public, so
that's not the person to put out and hand-wand or anybody else. Those
are the little things, you know.
MR. ROEMER: Mr. Chairman, could I just? Just as General
Steele took us back to Sergeant Stryker, let me take us back for just
an instant to CAPPS II. We constantly here this balance between civil
liberties and civil rights and the security needs in this new terrorist
world. You mention that in CAPPS II we might be working with your
liaison, which you feel is strong in CIA and FBI. We just read reports
recently that the FBI has new powers to occasionally be able to go to
libraries and check up on what people are reading. We understand that
the CIA may be running the TTIC, the Terrorist Threat Integration
In light of this, and in light of Americans' concerns about
this, can you be more specific as to what CAPPS II is going to be
looking at? Are we talking about watch-listing information? Are we
talking about private sector databases? Are we talking about law
enforcement information? Exactly what are we talking about, Mr. McHale?
MR. MCHALE: I can't be too specific in an open forum, but
again that's something we can provide the commission as appropriate.
But let me just say --
MR. ROEMER: Can you be vague?
MR. MCHALE: I can be vaguely specific.
MR. ROEMER: And I'd be very interested in the follow-up on this in private.
MCHALE: Sure. We are checking all sorts of databases. We are checking
public and we are checking private databases to get a sense of what we
have. But the system is actually designed -- it's been designed
actually in a lot of consultation with the privacy groups. And in fact,
although we -- the technical term is "ping" -- although we ping off the
public databases to run some of these algorithms and things, we do not
actually get that private data into a government computer database. We
do not build a database with CAPPS II. So I think I need -- that's --
it's actually quite an interesting and complicated system to explain.
It's very hard to do it here. But I --
MR. ROEMER: Yes, I think we can do this --
MR. MCHALE: It's important for you to understand that.
MR. ROEMER: And it's important for the American people to understand the debate on some of this as well, too.
MCHALE: That's correct. We're going to -- there is obviously going to
be debate and discussion of this. But we are very, very sensitive to
the privacy side of this. And, frankly, that's something that's
I'd just like very briefly to address something that
General Steele suggested. We actually also see CAPPS II as a system for
focusing our resources, and really a large part of what it will do is
identify the vast, vast, vast majority of people who should just move
quickly through security. And that's really what it does. But then it
works your way down to a point where you also get some red flags up as
people who need considerably more scrutiny.
MR. ROEMER: My last question, General Steele. I love
testimony that is futuristic and challenges us to look at threats, you
know, ten years from now. On page seven of your testimony you outline
four, and you look at such things as the shoulder-launched missiles and
a coordinated terror campaign against cargo flights using smaller
bombs. You talk about driving a car or a truck up to a terminal and
exploding it. Congress at some point, as we heard yesterday, is going
to say to us, We have limited resources, we don't have all the money in
the world to fund every one of your recommendations, whether it be
screening, ports, airports, terminals, outside terminals for cars,
equipping airliners with the necessary defensive mechanisms for
shoulder-fired missiles. Specifically how would you prioritize a future
threat in this industry, but maybe other threats in other industries
that we are going to have to look at? Look broader than just the
industry that you are here to talk to us about, and anticipate what we
are going to be faced with in 12 months, recommending to Congress how
they try to spend resources on the most likely threats across the
MR. STEELE: Well, despite the dramatic events of 9/11, I
still believe the weapon of choice for -- and the one that is really
the most difficult to defeat -- is still an improvised explosive device
probably in checked baggage, given the number of checked bags that pass
through the system every day, and the fact that there are bombers, very
artful bombers out there, who can make those almost undetectable, and
with out some sort of a person, but an automated system that would
alert us to it.
And so until we really have those out there deployed --
and not only here, but also, as I mentioned in my statement, abroad,
because we have got to have parallel systems over there or all we are
going to do is squeeze the bubble here, and it will pop out over there.
I think that is really the most important. And then also containers. We
really need to get some containers. It was coming on line when I was
there in '91, we pushed it further, and we still don't have any
deployed, except for a few out there as test cases. We need to get busy
But we must also know, and you know Mr. Roemer especially,
that once you close out one avenue then there will be a new threat
vector as sure as anything. For example, when they talk about future
threats in our profiles and what we were seeking on passengers, it used
to be a male, and particularly from an Arab nation and a certain age
and everything else, excluding females. Now from what we now see coming
out of the Middle East, we have to include the females, don't we? We
can't exclude those. That's an example.
We started thinking in my last year there, Listen, we are
going to have EDS out there some day, and what are they going to do?
And what we were already seeing was an emerging threat of MANPADs, or
surface-to-air missiles that we were receiving out of places like
Athens. They had knocked down a couple of airplanes in Africa-- cargo,
not commercial -- and clearly that was going to be kind of on the
horizon, particularly when we closed that avenue, and we had to start
at least intellectually beginning to figure out what we were going to
do. So I still think that is the greatest threat. I think the cargo
business is more kind of nuisance, panic, smaller bombs that we may
have to face out there that -- not catastrophic loss of an airplane
necessarily, but just to tell the American people, this is, you know,
we are still capable of doing this at a fairly low risk way of
MR. KEAN: Senator Gorton?
MR. GORTON: Mr.
McHale, I have a question that came here from a Senate office. It's
really quite interesting: What percentage of mid- and senior level
staff at TSA have actually worked physical security at an airport?
MR. MCHALE: I don't have a percentage for you. Quite a few
at different places. Our federal security director in Phoenix is the
former head of the Phoenix police unit that ran that. Our federal
security director, that ran the airport unit in Seattle is a former
employee of the FAA civil aviation security. We have a lot of people
who have got military security backgrounds. Some of them provided
airbase security. We have a lot of people with security backgrounds and
law enforcement backgrounds. I don't have a specific percentage for you
MR. KEAN: I have one question. This is a question I guess
that the public ought to be interested in. People go through airports a
lot see certain people pulled out of line. We had witnesses yesterday
who said what we should be really concentrating on is people, not
things, and indicated I gather a form of profiling is what we should be
after now. Well, right now we are pulling out grandmothers and
grandfathers and teenage girls and people who it's very hard to
conceive of any threat. I've been pulled out a couple of times, but
maybe I fit. But what is it? People are interested. Why are these
people pulled out who look like no threat whatsoever?
MR. MCHALE: Two reasons. One is the CAPPS I system does and
also some of the watch lists have -- the CAPPS I system does result in
a fairly high number of false positives. Plus, the watch lists have a
lot of common names on it. The third most normal reason people are
pulled out is because there may be some sort of alarm or some sort of
indication they are not sure what's in the bag or whatever it is. We
need to remember that terrorists have used dupes. Perhaps the most
famous one was the Irish tourist in Israel who became pregnant and
whose Palestinian fiance hid a bomb in her checked baggage, and luckily
the Israeli security agency talked to her, uncovered that. That's a
very famous story, but it's one that reminds us that dupes are out
there and we see that quite frequently as a fairly common, potential
Also, there is no easy ready profile of a terrorist. You
need to look at a variety of things. In Israel there have been
65-year-old suicide bombers. So we need to think about all of that. We
have had -- the IRA used to smuggle explosives in the bottom of
children's strollers under sleeping babies. So we cannot fall asleep.
We need to look at a wide range of things. But do we pull over too many
grandmothers and too many kids? Yes.
MR. KEAN: Last question from Secretary Lehman.
MR. LEHMAN: Well, I -- you stole my thunder on that one, because --
MR. KEAN: Sorry.
LEHMAN: Because I thought that was one of the most telling things that
came out of yesterday's testimony that it's all very well we have to
concentrate on counting things and metrics and things that are
measurable and X-raying and so forth. But we have been overlooking, and
I agree with Mr. May, the industry spokesman who made this point, we
have got to look at people. And as another witness yesterday was
pointing out, it's the other side of the coin that General Steele was
saying on the people of our side of the fence. You have got to look at
the human being and people that fit a profile, not because the computer
spits them out, although you can use that too, but because if there is
an Arab, a young Arab male or female, and a little old lady from
Pasadena, you pick the Arab to pull aside and talk to him. Talk to him
as a human being -- not measure him or see if he's carrying a knife.
Because as the point is made, an effective well-trained terrorist
doesn't need a knife, doesn't need a box cutter.
So it worries me. Your testimony, Mr. McHale, worries me
that the system is once again falling prey to the metrics, the fallacy
of metrics, as opposed to the human factor that General Steele was --
MR. MCHALE: Well, I think a lot of the testimony -- my
testimony certainly in the questions I've answered, but just listening
to the testimony and reading some of the ports from yesterday's
testimony, often focuses on the screening checkpoint and the screeners
and what they do. And I think that gives you a false impression of what
aviation security is all about. It is perimeters within perimeters. We
have intelligence, we have intelligence reporting. They tell us what to
look for. We have airport police who are trained in surveillance
detection. Our federal air marshals are trained in surveillance
detection, looking at people who may well be planning or surveiling an
airport. We deal with obviously the checkpoints. We try to train our
people about what to look for. In addition to that we have obviously
the air marshals. We have the hardened cockpit doors today that are
hard to get through. Frankly, we have the passengers. Somebody referred
to that earlier today, and I think we have to recognize that the
passengers themselves are a part of our security. And then we have the
What I regard this as is a series of hurdles. I think if
you look at security as a series of hurdles going all the way out to
the farthest reaches of the intelligence community, including the
movement of money. At some point a terrorist must pop up over those
hurdles. And our hope in security is that we catch them when they pop
over one of those hurdles. No one hurdle is going to be enough. You
have to have a whole system. You have to work it as a whole system and
keep the bad guys off the plane.
MR. LEHMAN: How can you assure us that the system you have,
which sounds very good in description, isn't just as toothless as the
system that preceded it, which we heard from witness after witness
really had no teeth -- fines ended up being a tenth of what was
assessed, lobbying pressures prevented the issuing of rules, things
like the locked doors that went into the memory hole over time. What
teeth do you have that FAA didn't have before 9/11?
MR. MCHALE: I think that the best thing that we have is
people, and people who are reminded and remember 9/11. That is
ultimately what is going to be about.
MR. LEHMAN: They don't have any more teeth?
MCHALE: Well, we have more teeth. I mean, we have a lot more federal
presence. We have very good, very senior people who are the heads of
security at all our major airports.
MR. LEHMAN: Though what I'm talking about is enforcement
when, as you said, you have got to keep the industry as an essential
partner. If after things settle down, hopefully, and there are no more
incidents, a couple of years go by, just like after the '95 and the Pan
Am 103, the doors start swinging open again, people start forgetting.
And even though the red teams -- and you know my last question -- I
know you want to talk about red teams, because you made a great
reputation as being very aggressive when you were there and very
effective with the kind of red team approach. But there has been no
real teeth in enforcing people who get negligent. I'm not talking about
the people who work for TSA. I am talking about the industry, the
airport people. How are you going to put the fear of God in them that
if they get complacent, or they talk themselves into thinking that
something is not cost effective -- therefore we don't have to pay
attention to it?
MR. MCHALE: Well, you know, I'm not actually all that
familiar with what the teeth were of the FAA before. So let me tell you
what our teeth are, and you can decide whether we have more. I do know
that the civil penalties have been increased, that we can assess the
amounts the penalties have been increased. But they are still $25,000
per violation for an air carrier, and $10,000 per violation for a
passenger. You can actually pick up a lot of violations if you go after
But in addition to that we do have the authority given to
the administrator by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act to
prohibit a flight coming into the United States. We have turned flights
around. We have done a significant amount of reverse screening. We have
delayed flights. We have dumped passengers off flights for re-screening
if appropriate. There are a lot of different things we can do. I can
tell you when you have a breach of a concourse, and you dump the entire
concourse to re-screen all the passengers, that is a multi-million
dollar impact on the airline, if it's a big concourse. So there are a
lot of -- and we have done a lot of that. I mean, there's a lot of
those kinds of things. I do not know the extent to which FAA had all
those things available to them or used them in the past.
MR. LEHMAN: General Steele, red teams.
STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Also, let me just clarify something
that Mary Schiavo said. She talked about her red teams. I don't think
she understood. She didn't have red teams. She was the IG and she had
inspectors, but they were not the red teams that we had had which
really were former counterintelligence people, a lot of experience in
the field, who used all the guile and everything else, which made it
even more embarrassing when her inspectors were able to penetrate. But,
nevertheless, they really weren't in the sense of the word red teams
who were going to out to really evaluate the system and give you an
My view is that, yes, certainly TSA needs its red teams to
be able to give feedback on equipment buys, policy decisions and that
sort of thing. But you also need -- and I think perhaps -- and I've
given this a lot of thought, and I want you to know it's a serious
proposal. In fact, I started thinking about it when the the House bill
and the Senate bill were out there and you remember the House bill
still kept the private sector versus the large number of people.
My feeling was then you did not probably have to create a
huge new work force of federal people, that you could probably still
use the system. But to build in it a very, very robust red team
capability that ought to be not only just aviation, but probably all
modes of transportation. And I would maybe put it under the secretary
of Homeland Security versus the TSA. In other words, a more independent
view. You would still need strict protocols. This is not cowboy stuff.
I mean, you are going to keep them tight, and you probably have to
rotate them around. But you would send them out to evaluate let's say
an airport. And if in their findings that there are serious gaps, and
particularly if more than two or even three layers had failed and
continued to fail, and that that becomes kind of a consistent report,
then that secretary -- it would have to be a Cabinet officer --
notifies the secretary of transportation that you either get that fixed
in 48 hours or we are shutting you down. And you will shut down maybe
perhaps that terminal, perhaps that entire airport, or perhaps that
cargo area or maybe an airline. But that's the time you've got to get
it fixed, and we'll be back. And then you do it. In my former life of a
Marine I learned the lesson early that there's no lesson in the second
kick of a mule. There's a lesson in the first one. But this beast has
kicked us now a couple of times, and it's like this a couple of other
times. And I'm really hoping that your commission is going to be able
to get a hobble around it this time. And I offer that as very
constructive means of doing this. We do this internationally. Did you
know -- I mean, if you look at the Foreign Airport Assessment Act, and
we didn't do it in quite such a dramatic way, but we have a means where
our inspectors, the TSA inspectors today find the airport in Athens for
example not meeting the ICAO minimum standards on one of their
inspections, and the secretary of Transportation issues a warning
through the State Department that they've got 90 days to get that, and
we'll work with them. And we did this a number of times. I was there in
Bogota, and we did it in Barcelona during the Olympics, because there
was a lot of construction and the place leaked like a sieve. It was --
so you have -- and then you do work with them and they've got 90 days.
And if they pull up their socks and earnestly pull that in there, then
you may or may not. If they don't, then advisories start going out, and
then the secretary of Transportation says no U.S. airplane will fly
into your airport. Boy, that gets them busy. So there are incentives
for doing that, and it can't be just done arbitrarily, and it's got to
be kind of worked out. But I think we are at that point right now, and
it's got to be done at the highest level, because we know the costs.
And I think that would be a terrific way to be able to kind of keep
this complacency from coming back.
MR. KEAN: General Steele. Thank you. I'm glad we got that
in, because that's important. I want to thank the witnesses very much,
General Steele, Mr. McHale. I'm glad, by the way, that all the
witnesses over the last couple of days have been with us and have done
it in open session, because I think it's very important whenever we can
in our work that the American people are allowed to see the evidence
and see the kinds of things we're discovering.
I would remind all of those who are interested in the work
of our commission that we are still in our early stages, but we will be
issuing our final report just not much over a year from today. So with
the help of the kind of people we have had with us the last few days,
both as witnesses and the audience, have increased confidence that we
will meet that deadline and have a report that the American people can
be proud of. So thank you all very, very much. And thank you all for
coming to be with us.