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Commission Sensitive


Event: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Headquarters
Type of event: Interview with James Slate
Date: April 19, 2004
Special Access Issues: None
Prepared by: Geoffrey Brown
Team Number: 8
Location: FAA Headquarters Building, Washington, D.C.
Participants - Non-Commission: Brook Avery, Chief Consul Office, FAA
Participants - Commission: Team 8: John Azzarello, Miles Kara, Geoffrey Brown
Note: Please refer to the recorded interview for further details.


Slate joined the FAA in 1983 as an Air Traffic Controller (ATC) in Raleigh,
North Carolina. He worked for a year at FAA Headquarters, returned to Raleigh, and then
in 1996 returned to Headquarters. In 1998 he was assigned to National Tower as the
Assistant Facility Manager.

September 11, 2001 (9/11):

Slate arrived at National Tower shortly after 10:OOAM. When he arrived at the
TRACON (Terminal Radar Control) his OMIC, Bob Laser, informed him of a fourth
aircraft en route to Washington, DC.

Post 9/11:

As the Acting Facility Manager, Slate stayed on duty for "the next several days".
He had a Specialist secure the data from the day's logs, recordings, and statements, and
provide that information to the Quality Assurance Branch at Eastern Region. The original
data remained at the facility.

Questions from the Region prompted Slate to listen to tapes from National. Per
the direction of Bill Peacock and Darlene Freeman, Slate was responsible for putting
"some" briefing papers together for the Administrator to refer to in her appearance before
Congress. Also involved in Darlene Freeman's group, to his recollection, was James
Aerosmith. There were functional focus groups under various lines of business for
Freeman. Slate worked on Air Traffic, and was the lead for the briefing papers. One issue
paper was on coordination and communication, and Slate "believes" he received the
information for this effort from David Cannoles, Doug Gould, Tony Ferrente, Scott Bing,
and Jack Keis (at the Herndon Command Center). Slate brought from a NORAD entity

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data from the FAA side of communication with the military. He did not speak to the
military to receive these logs. The information was given to him by New England Region
(Bill Ellis), Great Lakes (Nancy Shelton) and Eastern Region (Air Traffic Division
Managers, either Frank Hatfield or Rick DuCharme).

Slate does not recall exactly when he completed this work, but it was certainly
before the Administrator's meeting. Slate believes he worked the weekend after 9/11, but
does not recall the timing of his tasking. He believes that part of his effort was to look for
times for military notification.

Slate's end products were "one or two page talking point papers". The issues were
on military notification, transponders, the timing of traffic management instructions - he
handed his work to Darlene Freeman. The Director of Air Traffic, Bill Peacock, oversaw
all this work. The "one paper I did on military notifications" was addressed operations
notifications. He gave the notes to Mary Ellen Kraus (Special Assistant or Chief of Staff).

He received no feedback or follow-on questions.

As Slate recalls, the point paper on notifications was referred to as "Air Traffic
Coordination with Military". He believes that his paper was one page. He recalls that he
was told to use only the FAA timeline, but decided to contact the military regarding
military information. He approached this through Col Atkins.

Slate does recall at some point during this effort NORAD published its own
timeline, but does not know if the FAA was involved in any way. Slate did not
specifically know about a disagreement with the military, but his job was solely to deal
with the FAA side of a chronology. He "just heard on the macro-scale" that there was
contention over the correct chronology between the military and the FAA.

Slate explained that there was one entry point at the FAA for the data that was
used for the chronology, and then the various groups took from that data whatever was
pertinent to their own assignments.

The military liaison could have been informed by one of the ATCs for an aircraft
of interest, and, according to Slate, this could be interpreted that there was a notification
to the military. [Note: Commission staff is clear that neither the FAA Center position
MOS (Military Operations Supervisor) or the Military Liaison position at FAA
Headquarters (Col. Cheryl Atkins) fills the responsibility of being a channel to the
military for hijack and/or fighter escort protocols. For further information, please consult
the MFRs for Col Cheryl Atkins and ZBQ MOS Collin Scoggins.]

Slate believes the ATCs (air traffic controllers) at Cleveland Center (ZOB)
believed that AA 77 had crashed, and notified the National Guards and State Police. He
believes Cleveland Center attempted to find UAL 93 through the use of a military

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Slate did not receive any information in coordination with Jack Kies, at Herndon
Command Center, that someone there had asked the military or the Air Traffic Services
Cell (ATSC) specifically for fighter escort.

Slate commented that "I was a mid-level staffer.. .I'm not trying to pass the buck,
but these discussions I was not in.. .1 heard some hall talk about discrepancy with the
military on the times."

Slate did not have simultaneous awareness what was occurring at the ATC level
of ZOB. Slate noted however that ZBW and ZNY, considering their close proximity and
interaction, can be seen as more concurrent in their efforts and awareness. Slate recollects
that ZOB used a military aircraft "to try and find the airplane.. .did it crash or what?" He
coordinated with Nancy Schell. "But I don't think there's a NEADS notification that's
missing - one that just didn't get logged." Regarding his impression that there was a
military aircraft that tailed UAL 93, Slate commented "I'm obviously wrong".

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