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9-11Commission Hearing 2003-05-23

9-11Commission Hearing 2003-05-23

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Published by: jrod on Apr 28, 2009
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05/11/2014

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HEARING OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TERRORIST ATTACKS UPON THEUNITED STATESDAY 2, CIVIL AVIATION SECURITYTIME: 9:01 A.M. EDT DATE: FRIDAY, MAY 23, 2003PANEL 1: SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: THE ATTACKS AND THE RESPONSEWITNESSES: SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION NORMAN MINETA;MAJOR GENERAL CRAIG MCKINLEY, NORAD; MAJOR GENERALLARRY ARNOLD, (RET.); COL. ALAN SCOTT (RET.); LT.GENERAL MIKE CANAVAN (RET.), FORMER ASSOCIATEADMINISTRATOR, CIVIL AVIATION SECURITYPANEL 2: REFORMING CIVIL AVIATION SECURITY: NEXT STEPSWITNESSES: STEPHEN MCHALE, DPEUTY ADMINISTRATOR,TRANSPORTATION SECURITY AGENCY; MAJOR GENERAL O.K.STEELE (RET.); MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL,DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATIONMR. KEAN: Yesterday the Commission received testimonyfrom members of Congress and from expert witnesses about theU.S. civil aviation security system that operated in the periodleading up to September 11, 2001.Today we move forward with the first look at the 9/11hijackings themselves and the security system's performance ofthat day. Our final panelists will then address the changeswhich have been made in aviation security since 9/11 and alsooptions for further improvements in the current system.Before we proceed further, I want the record to be madevery clear that the Commission is intensely aware of any numberof reports indicating failures outside the area of the aviationsecurity system. These would include failures in intelligence,law enforcement and border security, which may have played amajor part in making 9/11 possible. The Commission has astatutory 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 civilaviation. Today's first -- where we start, we pick up the storyof the hijackings on September 11th itself. How did the civil
 
aviation security system operate that day with respect to the 19hijackers? What weapons and tactics did they employ to defeatthe system? Why couldn't we stop them or, at least in the threeout of four cases that reached their target, preventedsuccessful completion of their mission?This hearing record will remain open for 14 additionalcalendar days for any of the witnesses who want to to submitadditional material and perhaps for the commission to sendfollow-up questions.We are very pleased with the group of witnesses who arehere today, particularly our first witness. And we're going tohear from the secretary of Transportation, with a long record ofpublic service in the United States Congress, Secretary Mineta.MR. MINETA: Thank you very much, Chairman Kean, ViceChairman Hamilton and distinguished members of the Commission,for this opportunity to testify before you.I want to compliment the Commission on its intention tocollect and provide the information on the circumstancessurrounding the tragedies of September 11th, 2001. I would liketo provide the Commission with a brief account of what happenedon September 11th, 2001. I believe I can be most helpful tothis Commission by providing information in which I havepersonal knowledge and a few observations from my perspective asSecretary of Transportation.There are many events that occurred on September 11ththat I do not have personal knowledge of, though I have learnedabout them in subsequent investigations and reports. I knowthis commission will be speaking to the same agencies andindividuals that provided me with that information, so I willlet the Commission collect that information from those primarysources.However, I do want to comment on what I believe is animportant responsibility of this commission, and that is to addto the understanding of the American people about what we callterrorism and the threat that it poses. I have seen terrorismin several forms and from several vantage points over the years,as an intelligence officer in the United States Army during theera of the Korean conflict, and in Congress as one of the earlymembers of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.Like a mutating virus, I have seen terrorism take different formover the years in an effort to defeat the safeguards that have
 
been devised to protect against it. And I believe it iscritical to recognize this important truth about terrorism: Thethreat of terrorism is constant, but the nature of that threatchanges, because to be successful, terrorism must continuallychange how it operates.On Tuesday morning, September 11th, 2001, I was meetingwith the Belgian transport minister in my conference roomadjacent to my office, discussing aviation issues. Because ofthe agenda, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey was also inattendance.A little after 8:45 a.m., my chief of staff, JohnFlaherty, interrupted the meeting. He asked AdministratorGarvey and me to step into my office, where he told me that newsagencies were reporting that some type of aircraft had flowninto one of the towers of New York's World Trade Center.Information was preliminary, so we did not know whatkind of aircraft nor whether or not it was intentional. JaneGarvey immediately went to a telephone and contacted the FAAoperations center. I asked to be kept informed of anydevelopments and returned to the conference room to explain tothe Belgian prime minister that our meeting might have to bepostponed.In an incident involving a major crash of any type, theOffice of the Secretary goes into a major information-gatheringresponse. It contacts the mode of administration overseeingwhatever mode of transportation is involved in the incident. Itmonitors press reports, contacts additional personnel toaccommodate the surge in operations, and centralizes theinformation for me through the chief of staff.In major incidents, it will follow a protocol ofnotification that includes the White House and other agenciesinvolved in the incident. These activities, albeit in thenascent stage of information-gathering, took place in theseinitial 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 andthat the FAA had received an unconfirmed report that a hijackingof an American Airlines flight had occurred.

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