View Full Version : Lax FAA Security Standards

15th Sep 2001, 01:28
There is a clear answer to the "how" of the 11-9-01 disaster in the USA.

In the USA, the Federal Law governing the FAA was changed under the Clinton administration; relieving the FAA of most of it's responsibility for safety.

That was coupled with Clinton's Presidential Executive Order 12866. That Order essentially said, "...if it's going to cost the airlines any significant money, don't enforce it."

The Airlines were charged with providing their own security(?); starting the whole mess.

The horrific terrorist attack on America was a repeat event with a long history - make no mistake about it.

The terrorist attack on America has its roots in the Afghan war. Osama Bin Laden received his training, experience and his initial assets there. In the aftermath of the Afghan war, many Muslims, probably thousands, were assisted in gaining residence / citizenship for their support of the CIA efforts in Afghanistan. Beyond the Afghan refugees, an unknown number of Kurds were also flown into the U.S., as refugees from the Gulf War.

American prejudice, apathy and ignorance being what it is, few questioned the role of the CIA in the Afghan war. 'Intelligence' is one thing, war is another. Yet, in the shadowed tradition of the secret war in Laos & Cambodia, the U.S. intelligence agency was essentially conducting a war against the Russians.

Among other issues of that effort, comes the non-accountability of such assets as the supply of Stinger missiles from the Afghan conflict.

The first World Trade Center bombing was in 1993. The Muslim connection is well known. In the background of that effort was another Bin Laden terrorist effort, known as "Project Bojinka," targeting U.S. Airliners in the Pacific. By accident, it was discovered in the Philippines and thwarted. Note that there was no warning to Americans.

One of the key players in "Project Bojinka" was an individual known as Ramsi Yousef. He was also one of those convicted in the first WTC bombing. Yousef, among other things, told the FBI that his 'group' was responsible for the downing of TWA-800. That claim has more than sufficient credibility to be taken very seriously.

While 'official' sources denied any criminal activity in TWA-800, Yousef's claim has radically more merit and probability than the nonsensical 'short-circuit' claim of the NTSB. The discovery of the PETN traces indicate a U.S. military 2.75 inch solid rocket motor. The alleged bomb-dog test doesn't hold water - to keep it simple. The number of witnesses who claimed to have seen a missile numbered in the hundreds. There was too much evidence that TWA-800 was taken down by at least one missile. Other than nonsensical theory, there was no evidence of the center-wing fuel tank explosion as the initial event. The 'official' proving theories and tests don't hold up under elementary scrutiny.

In brief, there is no shortage of protests documenting government cover-up in the TWA-800 disaster.

In a strange twist, in the case of the Oklahoma City bombing, McVeigh's attorney turned up frightening evidence of a middle-eastern terrorist connection. His requests for further evidence were denied. The introduction of the middle-eastern connection in court was stifled. The forewarning by the BATF informant, Carol Howe was suppressed.

Now, with the facilitation of all agencies looking the other way, America faced down the recent tragedy and a terrible aftermath, which will forever change the freedoms of America. That didn't have to happen.

A relatively well-known Government Accounting Office report to Congress slams the FAA for the lax security standards. Part of the report was kept secret, as it damnably quantified the risk to Americans - still no change. Another recent report (Hart Rudman) warned that such an event was imminent. Why was there no significant warning? Why was there no stepped up security?

The Boston airport, in particular, has a prominent history of lax security standards; what happened?

Three weeks before the 9-11 attack, the overseas papers quoted Bin Laden as saying that a major strike against the USA was soon to come. That's a lot of warning, by any standard. Bin Laden almost always telegraphs a warning - he's not to be ignored. Sixty-minutes did a report on the Afghan sentiments against the U.S. which telegraphed a warning sixty days before the attack. Regardless of who actually did the attack, there were credible warnings of an attack.

Bear in mind that the FAA gave Bin Laden an engraved invitation with their selective ignorance of airport security, defying Congress with the GAO citing the FAA blatant failures. That issue has no shortage of government documentation.

Ramsi Yousef claimed his group was responsible for TWA-800. Yet the FBI's Kallstrom said there was no evidence. So, why did the FBI go fishing for Stinger remnants after the recovery effort?

Still, there was no appreciable increase to aircraft security. The FAA has a nifty set of "stall tactics;" there was no appreciable increase anywhere. Rhetoric will be heard to the effect of, "...changes were proposed." As usual, results are as evasive as ever.

One should note the New York Times catch of the FBI involvement in the first WTC bombing. There was warning in that event, also!

The FAA allowed a smuggler's paradise to be built in the new Guam airport terminal under Clinton. With "Project Bojinka" in the immediate background and the first Muslim attack on the World Trade Center, there was no excuse.

Among others, former FAA security agent, Steve Elson, has had a crusade against all of Washington D.C. on the lack of airport security. There was warning galore - as usual.

Again, Boston, in particular, has a terrible record for airport security.

It's early, but it appears that the hijackers slipped knives past security - no big trick by the FAA 'special' standards. In all likelihood the hijackings were done with teams of 2 - 3 per aircraft.

The news footage of the WTC / Pentagon strikes strongly suggest that the hijackers were skilled pilots, with a bias toward the 757 / 767. The WTC / Pentagon flying was that of a pilot who is current at the controls of a simulator, with practice at hitting the specific targets.

The flying exhibited exact planning, practice and recent proficiency. At the airspeed of the strike, the eye-hand coordination demands would be too high for casual flying skill - with, or without, an autopilot engaged. At 290 knots, the individual towers and the front door of the Pentagon are not that big a target.

Three precise hits are too much for coincidence, luck or adrenalin.

It's highly probable - and already, reasonably established - that proficiency was acquired / maintained in a Stateside flight simulator facility, offering airliner models with high-level graphics capability, with the WTC & the Pentagon in the visual data-base. It's unlikely that a program such as "Microsoft Flight Simulator" could account for the flying skills exhibited.

Relative to the FAA disregard for safety, evidenced by the GAO report on lax airport security, as well as other legitimate complaints - somebody needs to get the FAA honest. We're very likely to see this again.

The tragedy of Swiss Air 111 illuminated the FAA record for methodically overlooking the aircraft wiring issue. Backing the FAA was a Clinton's Presidential Executive Order 12866 - "If it costs the airline money - don't enforce it." Behind that was a change in U.S. Law, relieving the FAA of the responsibility for aviation safety. The setup was nothing less than methodical.

The FAA has also permitted a flimsy cockpit door design on aircraft which couldn't keep anybody out. The airline industry has had cockpit break-ins before by sky-ragers; this isn't anything new.

Returning to the terrorist issue, one should give notice, that in the history of bombings against the USA, there have been warnings galore in the newspapers, etc, but the security agencies always get surprised. Americans should notice that there have been no changes - until AFTER this disaster.

While the 9-11 terrorist operation was reasonably involved, the greatest probable sophistication was in keeping the pilot's skills up to the needed proficiency, and certainly the timing.

Complexity kills operations such as this, thus it is more probable that the 'gang' kept it as simple as possible, with a fair amount of money behind them. The FAA track record on airport security is a joke. The security penetration was probably quite easy. As yet, there is no significant indication of airport 'inside workers.'

Many people are ignorant as to the thousands of Muslims that the CIA brought into the U.S. as a reward for supporting operations overseas.

The Muslim devotion to Islam far exceeds any other loyalty. While Americans are pandered the idealism of the equality issue, tribalism will always rule the planet. Reverse prejudice illuminates that truth in the USA.

With some good propaganda, the terrorists prostitute Islam to produce the tribalism we saw on the eleventh of September, probably taking a lesson from the Crusades.

In a sentence, radical changes are long overdue. Persecuting the terrorist organizations only treats the symptoms.

Despite the undeniable horror of the 9-11 attacks, it knowingly began with the U.S. government agencies and the American Congress. The issue isn't about apportioning blame, it's in the implementation of the known and needed repair - in the American homeland. For starters, the U.S. Congress needs to reverse the law, again making the FAA responsible for safety; then ensuring that the FAA complies with that law.

Permitting airlines or airports to maintain their own security is paramount to a prison system based on the "honor" system. That statement is not an exaggeration.

The "60-Minutes" segment, aired on 9-16-01, detailed the methodical gaps in security as well. The actions were criminal, yet the FAA did nothing worth mentioning. Previous criminal charges against the security contractors didn't affect anything appreciable in the FAA system.

Before the first World Trade Center rescue teams were set up, the airlines were lobbying for multi-billion dollar grants and interest-free loans. Legislation was requested to exempt the responsible airlines from civil litigation. These were the companies who knowingly delivered the avenue and means for the murders - knowingly facilitated by the FAA.

This horror could have been prevented; with the Congressional changes to Federal Law, and the FAA history of maximizing corporate profits, it was all but guaranteed, in some fashion. History warned us, as did the media; this didn't need to happen.

Now, flight crews must be more vigilant than ever. It's necessary for all flight crews to do everything necessary to get American airports in the practice of practicing actual security.

The best recommendation is to learn / observe actual security breaches and report them through the union or company. The topic is a politically sensitive one; anonymous is probably best.

[ 18 September 2001: Message edited by: SKYDRIFTER ]

Tom the Tenor
15th Sep 2001, 14:12
If the FAA were relieved of most of their responsibility for safety does this mean the airlines took on the responsibility for passenger security checking at the terminals? If this is the case it is shocking indeed because once things work like this the tenders for the work will probably go to the lowest bidder. What is then done by the security companies to promote training and interest among the lower paid staff who are likely to be the kind of folk who end up doing these kind of jobs?

If it is likely that a large number of President Regan's Afghan 'Freedom Fighters' were rewarded for their endeavors against the Soviets by allowing them to settle in the U.S.A. after the invasion failed it was at best not considered what kind of citizens they would make? They would have to come to America with little money, little English but more importantly the cultural differences would have been such a shock to their system it is likely disillusionment would have quickly set in and to seek solace they would have embraced Islam again with a new more fervent vigour ending up thinking how profane western society is compared to their own strict codes of conduct?

The horrors of the past week certainly bring to light again some questions regarding TWA 800 and it's investigation and the conviently put aside witness statements about seeing a missile. Surely, all of this needs now to be looked at again with renewed application.?

The FBI have now given the identities of nearly all of Tuesday's hijackers along with the nationalites of some but, I think, not all. If so, this begs the question were any of the hijackers U. S. citizens?

15th Sep 2001, 20:34
Until the FAA's operating premise is redefined to exclude any commercial considerations toward the US airlines,this tragedy could easily reoccur.The agency has always operated on the principle of "how many people can we kill each year before that delicate balance between airline appeasement and passenger/public confidence is upset."The NTSB,the true nightwatchman of American aviation safety,has continually been thwarted by the FAA's "tombstone technology" and its overt commercial make-up.
Safety issues are diametrically opposed to commercial considerations.The travelling public must be made aware of this and realise that their continued safety will be at the expense of low airfares.
The technology and personnel expertise are on hand;their implementation has been resisted purely on economic grounds.
Now that we have up to 10,000 people dead,perhaps the federal government will finally take heed and act accordingly.
Initially,the financial burden of implementing these safeguards must rest with the federal government.Airlines are already posting losses of $6bn.
Steps that must be taken immediately:
i)Introduction of 15000 airmarshalls,no private contractors,trained by the elite Deltaforce,who answer to no-one but the federal government.
ii)The immediate replacement of all privately-contracted airport personnel with federal equivalents.
iii)Congressional financial supprt for introduction of state-of-the-art screening devices at ALL US AIRPORTS.
iv)A redefining of the role of the commercial airline pilot to include additional training in combatting the terrorist threat.This should include a full and open discussion on whether pilots should be armed.Over 60% of US airline pilots come from military backgrounds.

Pilots all over the world are reeling from the reality that a handful of terrorists armed with knives were able to commandeer a flight and inflict such tragedy.Those brave pilots' inability to determine their own destiny and that of their passengers is not a self-indictment,far from it.Rather,it is a condemnation of the inadequate infra-structure in which they were forced to operate.Aviation saftey must now be unequivocally disentangled from the distraction of economics.It is possible if federally sponsored.

The Guvnor
15th Sep 2001, 22:46
Clinton's Presidential Executive Order 12866 doesn't just affect security - it affects safety as well. The US is the only country in the world where the airlines dictate to the aviation authority regarding AD/SB compliance - everyone else carries out the directives.

I was in Atlanta recently, trying to establish what Delta had in the way of L1011 parts, tooling and other equipment; and in a meeting with some very senior people when I was informed that they had no idea what they had.

I said that they must have records to comply with FAA regulations. The response shocked me. I was told that no FAA person is allowed on their premises without a warrant. "FAA? Fcuk them!" is a direct quote.

I cannot imagine anyone at Virgin or British Airways saying anything like that about the CAA - not in that context, anyway.

A good friend of mine has inspected a number of US aircraft in the past and invariably has found numerous deferred ADs and SBs. ADs are generally issued for good reason and not to comply with them is grossly - if not criminally - negligent.

So yes, I agree completely with skydrifter that this Executive Order needs to be revoked as quickly as possible.

Of course, the downside is that the cost of compliance will be astronomical - US airlines have a lot of catching up to do to get back to first world standards.

As for security - it's long been a bugbear of mine that the US on the one hand would designate countries Category 2 and therefore unable to operate to or increase services to the US; yet on the other hand their own procedures were often inferior to those of the countries they blacklisted.

A wake-up call has been given to the US. Let's hope they heed it - for all of our sakes.

18th Sep 2001, 04:34
Guvnor -

Last night on "60-Minutes," they had a former FAA inspector, Steve Elson, describing the reality inside the FAA. It was quite shocking. I knew of what he said, but getting the security workers to verify his claims was amazing.

I sent a few E-mails in research. The responses essentially said - you complain about the underlying facts; make your peace with God. Money, again.

I'll take issue with Mary Schiavo on a few points, but she and Victoria Cummock (sp) of PA-103 laid out quite a story on American TV.

I did some more homework on what they had to say; they were being conservative.

I've been attacked for my views on plenty of forums, but the underlying point is that if those responsible are not held accountable, more of this is assured. "kill - kill!" patriotism is no solution.

Thus, the cockpit crews need to think ahead. I would die a thousand deaths in refusing to open a cockpit door to save the life of a flight attendant or passenger; but that may now be required.

In the interest of preserving security I'll refraim from mentioning a few items which pilots can respond with, but pilots need to think ahead to such a scenario. This may not be limited to the USA.

For all my cynicism, I never dreamed that it could come to this.

It disgusts me no end to hear one report after another that there was plenty of warning - down to the actual time-frame. Worse are the 'official' denials that such warnings were ever received.

22nd Sep 2001, 21:09
Many treat the WTC-Pentagon attacks as a surprise. On forums such as "Free Republic," it is interesting to see the obvious disinformationists form into 'wolf packs' to deny the horror of documented reality. To appreciate the likelihood of more such actions, it is rather mandatory to examine the WTC-Pentagon attacks issue in a more clear focus, relying on documentation.

For starters, there is no doubt that the Philippine government informed the FBI of the details of "Project Bojinka" - five years ago!

However, it was only AFTER the SECOND WTC attack, we learn that the WTC and the Pentagon were named as the targets of a Kamikaze attack in "Project Bojinka." The Philippine government got angry, informing the world that the FBI knew; while the U.S. government was busy claiming that there was no warning! Once again, there is no shortage of citations on very recent information on the impending attack.

Strangely, until AFTER the WTC-Pentagon attacks, the Internet accounts of "Project Bojinka" did not cite the suicide attack plans on the particular buildings. Further, original articles citing the FBI knowledge of Yousef's claim on TWA-800 disappeared from the Internet.

In the interim, the aviation industry was not informed. Thus, the airline crews were set up. The historic version of hijackings and terrorism is one thing; Kamikaze missions are another. Had the crews known of the suicide risk, different decisions could have been made.

Add to that, the fact that the various deadly sky-rage incidents resulted in no measures to deal with deadly passengers. Airline suicides and attempts are not new - they've happened before. Yet, nothing was done. One might remember the PSA murder-suicide in California, and the failed FedEx murder-suicide attempt.

Despite a history of cockpit break-ins due to a flimsy door design, the FAA changed nothing. One might recall the Alaska Airlines suicide attempt in San Francisco, shortly after Alaska lost flight 261.

While the crew on the subsequent flight knew they had a problem early in the flight, they did nothing - trying to 'make schedule' - again. Ironically, that was the 'sister' flight of AK-261; with a different flight number. Yet, the airline was not fined - even in the immediate shadow of AK-261!

It is also necessary to re-visit the media identification of the heavy 'contributions' to Bin Laden immediately before the EgyptAir flight 990 disaster. Remembering the Egyptian military officers on board; and who they served, another event comes into renewed demand for still greater scrutiny.

Again, one of the "Project Bojinka" players and FIRST World Trade Center terrorists, Ramsi Yousef, told the FBI that their group was responsible for TWA-800. Yet, the FBI claimed there was no evidence of a criminal attack on TWA-800. In the shadow of that claim, investigator, Jim Sanders, found the damning forensic evidence to confirm that - he and his wife were thrown in jail! Hundreds of witnesses were discounted, with the dramatic CIA video cartoon produced in concert.

Remember that Stephan Jones, McVeigh's attorney, traced the Oklahoma City bombing operation to middle-eastern players and back to the "Project Bojinka" players - yet the U.S. government refused any evidence from the government side - which we are certain that they had.

McVeigh's description of the OKC truck bomb assembly process and layout tells the world that he never saw the bomb - his description was physically impossible. We also may be certain that McVeigh didn't rent the truck.

The obvious links must be made:

1. New York Times & CNN pinned the FBI as facilitating the FIRST World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

2. Terrorist, Ramsi Yousef, took credit (forensic evidence DOES support that) for TWA-800. The author, Bodansky, confirms that by citing Arabic papers as also admitting the terrorism.

3. There was no forensic evidence whatsoever to support the 'short circuit' theory in the TWA-800 disaster. The 'proving tests' and data did NOT hold up under elementary scrutiny.

4. Major details of the OKC-Murrah bombing were covered up by the FBI and other agencies.

5. Now the latest WTC attack, plus the Pentagon - and warning denied!

Over the recent years, the FAA was blasted, all the way through the White House, through Congress, to anyone who would listen, on the airport security issue - among other major safety concerns. Looking to last year's GAO report, part of the report was kept secret, as it laid out the probability of the impending horror in detail. Now, we found out why they kept it secret. Still, nothing of significance was done - WHY?

Remember, again, that FAA Administrator, Jane Garvey came to the FAA from Boston-Logan Airport. The Boston Airport was recently the subject of an FBI airport security investigation. The FAA continued to do nothing, despite a long list of reports, investigations, complaints, and exact details of the security failings. Remember that the two aircraft that hit the World Trade Center came out of Boston.

Even if the FAA and Congress decided to do nothing about it, the American people were entitled to the information, so as to make informed choices. Victoria Cummock, of the PA-103 legacy has made that point before.

The most probable indicator is that in the immediate aftermath of the WTC-Pentagon attacks, Transportation Secretary, Norm Minetta, recently described the FAA in terms of, "...Jane Garvey and her great team." That is not a good sign.

Given the overwhelming evidence connecting all these dots - the horror should now be clear. There could still be more attacks; the air crews may not have the luxury of time.

The harsh reality is that if the pilots had known that suicide attacks were in the "Terrorism Cookbook," they would have had enough warning to prevent the success of the attacks. It might still have been bloody, but it is highly conceivable that all the attacks could have been stopped!

In the WTC-Pentagon attacks, we must also honor the idea that there is no significant difference between knowingly allowing the obvious to happen; and making it happen. That is not to say that the fabric of terrorists should in ANY way be held harmless from the judgement of man or God.

This isn't opinion; this is documented history!

[ 24 September 2001: Message edited by: SKYDRIFTER ]

[ 11 October 2001: Message edited by: SKYDRIFTER ]

22nd Sep 2001, 22:30
Not just the FAA apparently.
Hidden and unremarked upon in this CNN story (http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/09/22/inv.yemeni.arrest/) is the following: Other suspicious documents were found by federal agents in Chicago, when Al-Hadi's luggage arrived on an earlier Lufthansa flight and was not claimed.

Positive bag-matching is supposed to be one of the cornerstones of international flight security.

23rd Sep 2001, 18:36
In History - There was warning -


*** U.S. Airlines may be a terror risk over next 3 days

WASHINGTON - 23JUN2001 (AirlineBiz.Com) With U.S. Gulf forces already on high alert, the U.S. State Department is expected to issue a travel advisory shortly warning Americans traveling overseas to be on their guard.

Videotapes allegedly show Osama bin Laden threatening to attack U.S. interests in the region. Indictments against 13 Saudi nationals and one Lebanese, charging them with killing 19 US servicemen at a military base in Saudi Arabia in 1996 appears to be the catalyst.

With the announcement of the indictments, U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft noted how terrorists are targeting the United States. "Americans are a high-priority target for terrorists," he said.

In recent years, U.S. citizens have found themselves the target of several attacks by the terror network of Osama bin Laden. One such attack involved a plot to destroy 12 U.S. airliners in Asia.

A jury found Ramzi Ahmed Yousef the alleged mastermind of the scheme, and two other defendants, guilty on all counts. Yousef is also the alleged mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and is also linked to schemes to assassinate President Clinton and the Pope.

Just prior to the attack of the Saudi military base, officials uncovered the plot to blow up 12 U.S. airliners on January 6, 1995 when a fire broke out in a Manila apartment.

During the trial a Secret Service agent testified that Yousef boasted during his extradition flight to New York that he would have blown up several jumbo jets within a few weeks if his plan had not been discovered. The government said the defendants even devised a name for their airline terror plot named, "Project Bojinka."

Tapes played in court showed the defendants talking about how much they enjoyed killing Americans. In a test run, a bomb was placed on a Philippine Air Lines 747 flight to Tokyo. It exploded, killing a Japanese passenger.

The Arabic satellite television channel MBC has reported, "the next two weeks will witness a big surprise."

A reporter of MBC said, "A severe blow is expected against U.S. and Israeli interests worldwide." MBC said the reporter met with Osama bin Laden two days ago in Afghanistan.

"There is a major state of mobilization among the Osama bin Laden forces. It seems that there is a race of who will strike first. Will it be the United States or Osama bin Laden?" the correspondent said.

June 25 is the fifth anniversary of the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 U.S. servicemen. Bob Monetti, President of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 said, "I hope the airlines are watching this situation closely."

Mr. Monetti, who lost his son Rick on Pan Am 103 is also a special advisor to the FAA on security related matters. Monetti is hopeful about the progress that has been made since the bombing of Pan Am 103.

However, Monetti expressed serious concern about the abilities of the airlines to stop a terrorist organization from carrying out their plans as promised. Monetti noted that Osama bin Laden has had several terrorist targets over the years and not all of them have been military.

"The airlines are at risk -- They need to take all appropriate measures and counter-measures to ensure the safety of their passengers," Monetti said.

Airline News Wire: http://AirlineBiz.com/wire

25th Sep 2001, 00:21
In all I've read, it comes back to the fact that the FAA was very well informed and did nothing of significance to prevent the obvious. They also continued to not give warning. In the case of Egypt Air 990, the funding of Bin Laden was known, but no warnings.

Even with all the acclaimed intelligence failures, the FAA had the one opportunity to stop the attacks.

I understand Tom McSweeney is out, but why is Jane Garvey (FAA Administrator) not facing a criminal indictment?

The FAA knew the problem, the Boston airport knew they had a problem, the FBI illustrated the problem, American Airlines knew they had a problem.

1. American Airlines and United will probably receive a billion dollars plus and face no litigation, if the proposed legislation goes through.

2. Jane Garvey, the FAA's Administrator, is being held harmless when she deserves a criminal investigation.

3. Jane Garvey & the FAA have been cited for safety failures in every arena; what constitutes "enough?"

I know this is a confusing time, but the focus on the terrorists is simply not enough.

Beyond the FAA failures, immediate solutions are needed to bridge the next generation of airline security.

11th Oct 2001, 05:04
After a long battle by crusaders and other government agencies to correct an impending airport security disaster, the battle was lost with a fight to nearly the last second.

In May of 2001, a memo was drafted by the FAA's director of Civil Aviation Security, Michael Canavan, which encouraged the FAA security managers to pursue a business relationship with airlines and airports. Yes, a “business” relationship.

The FAA having been relieved by Congress of their responsibility for safety has long been the facilitator of airline profits over safety. Despite a horrific history of basic safety disasters, the FAA refuses to go against the profits of business.

In the spirit of the FAA’s profit facilitation, Canavan advised the FAA security personnel not to impose fines if there was a security problem, as long as it was being corrected. Certainly a pragmatic approach, IF, corrections were actually made.

In August of 2001, a retired FAA special agent, Brian Sullivan sent an E-mail to Canavan advising him that FAA managers were prostituting the memo, written in May, to prevent agents from reporting the airlines and the airports who allowed known security breaches to go uncorrected.

Then, on August 22nd, not quite three weeks before the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Canavan replied to Brian Sullivan, agreeing that there was a problem, and promising that it was being fixed. The rest of the story is a mystery, until 9-11.

From www.wbur.org (http://www.wbur.org) -

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Subject: ACTION: Compliance and Enforcement Date: May 30, 2001

From: Associate Administrator for Civil Reply to
Aviation Security ACS-1 Attn of:

To: Managers, Civil Aviation Security
Divisions 700s, Federal
Security Managers

As we work with the aviation industry, it is important to
Remember that our primary goal as a regulatory agency is to
Gain compliance. While I know that there are circumstances that
Present difficult choices, it would be helpful to explain
Our approach to compliance and enforcement issues.
As I outlined in the ACS strategic plan, the safety and
Security of the flying public will depend upon the FAA and
Industry maintaining a candid, respectful, and mutually
Responsive business relationship. To be effective in this
relationship, we need to be flexible. While I expect
regulated parties to comply with regulatory requirements,
there will be times when we find areas of noncompliance.
When we do, I want to fully consider the actions the party
Has taken to fix the problem. I want to work with industry
To develop action plans to permanently correct problems
That have resulted in violations. To encourage industry
To join us in this effort I do not expect us to impose a
Civil penalty against a regulated party for certain
unaggravated violations, if we believe the party has
successfully implemented a permanent fix that will resolve
the security problem and preclude recurrence of future
violations. To answer questions you may have about this
new philosophy and how it will work, detailed guidance will
be provided to you shortly.

I want to continue to give our partners a realistic
opportunity to comply with the regulations and to work with us.



Subj: Compliance and Enforcement Policy
Date: 08/16/2001 11:55:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: BandBSul To: [email protected]


Your C&E philosophy makes sense and is “well intentioned”, but is being abused by field management to
Close cases without finding and as the basis for not opening cases, despite the fact that violations persist.

Your intent was to work with the regulated parties and develop action plans to permanently correct problems. Here’s what’s really happening. A problem is identified. Instead of opening a case, we work with industry to develop the required plan. The agents go out and find that the problem persists, but field management won’t allow them to open a case, incorrectly citing your may 30th Memorandum as the basis for their decision. As a result, we have a paper fix. Nice looking plans, but no real fix. The façade of security continues. Our line agents continue to experience the frustration of not being allowed to do their jobs.

The only way to confirm what I’m saying is to check on the ground. What’s the old military saying, “What goes right is what a commander checks”, or something like that? When the Fox 25 report was done at Logan in May, the reporter went back a few weeks later, after the dust had settled, and rechecked the same screening checkpoints with the same negative result, despite the assurances from the BOS CASFO and airport/airlines. I know FOX could easily determine if these current action plans work as intended. Let me suggest that it would be better if you looked at some of these action plans and test them with a red team to see if they actually work. I know our field agents have re-checked violations after the action plans have been developed only to find that the same violation persists. Plans aren’t worth the paper they are written on unless they work. The only way to determine if they really work is to test them with an “honest broker” and that can’t be done by our line agents, if their management won’t open up cases when problems persist.

If you doubt what I’m saying, this is very easy to check. I know you get more with honey than vinegar, but compliance requires goth the carrot and the stick, if it is to be truly effective. The industry is primarily concerned with the bottom line ($) and will give security the attention it merits, only if we are perceived as willing to work with them, while at the same time committed to both compliance and enforcement. If they think we are soft and they can get away with paper plans, that is exactly what they will do. The key is to insure that the action plans do, in fact, permanently correct the problems which have resulted in violations. This is not happening. When the plans don’t correct the problem, we have to have field management willing to open up cases and support our line agents who find that violations persist.

I hope this is helpful information. I’m not looking for a response. I just want to help your philosophy work as intended.

Best Wishes. We are hearing some good things since your arrival.

Brian Sullivan


Subj: Compliance and Enforcement Philosophy
Date: 08/22/2001 12:41:44 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: [email protected] (Michael Canavan)

Brian, thanks for the e-mail. From what I have been able to see and hear you are right. This is being fixed. Mike

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Despite all efforts, since 9-11 the FAA continues to register a ridiculous standard of safety. In the latest round, the new bill requiring airline employees to be fingerprinted, excepts ‘old’ employees from fingerprinting and background checks, leaving ‘sleepers’ in place..

Ignition Override
11th Oct 2001, 09:58
Guvnor: Several years ago in the US travel magazine, "Conde Nast Traveler", an interesting article described the subject regarding which foreign airlines are allowed into US airports. To make a longer story short, the author claimed that the FAA uses foreign airline/govt regulatory compliance as the determining factor. However, there was evidence that international relations (maybe imports/exports?) are also a major factor.

Apparently, US State Department (foreign relations) policies seem to have as much influence as anything else. When government branches are run by political appointees, whether retired military officers (plus or minus a former Air Force Thunderbird demo team pilot: nice career resume/c.v. "ticket punch") or career civil servants, almost anything is possible, no matter how much reality contradicts public perception.

As for retirees sliding into very lucrative private sector jobs, ever heard the phrase "Beltway Bandits"? How about major rulings for a certain corporate predator ("allegedly" made by former DOT Admin judges, well-versed in aviation matters), then upon retirment working for the same airline holding company, which profited immensely from said persons' govt rulings? Just a coincidence.

Integrity? Public service?

11th Oct 2001, 18:51
Why is everyone so suprised with the obvious?

The FAA can not get blood out of a rock and can't get airlines that are bankrupt to make improvements in anything. Oh, and there are 600,000+ GA pilots and 41,000 aircraft in the US too.

The FAA can only do what they are allowed to do with the resources they are given and the support and direction of COngress and the higher ups in the executive branch.

By the way, Cannavan is out as of yesterday and FAA is being told what to do on security by people far far higher in the food chain who really don't know much about aviation. As of right now ther are no traffic watch helos in Class B airspace, no flights under part 91 by foreign flag aircraft without very special permission, and lots of other limitations. Thiss is causing significant economic problems and domino effects through the economy. Nobody knows how much it will cost in dollars or jobs.

I hope this satisfies people who have, with many very good reasons, pointed out aviation security "weaknesses" ("weakness" is being kind) because they are right. I know this is cold comfort though.

Security must be improved and unfortunately it historicly has taken midair collisions over the Grand Canyon and Staten Island to get the U.S. Gongress off top dead center to do what is necessary for aviation safety.
What you will get is more security, someone will have to pay, that someone will be passengers, shippers and other users. This will make aviation a less competative mode of transportation and there will be less aviation business.

The truism that the best way to make a million dollars in aviation is to start out with 2 million still applies.

[ 11 October 2001: Message edited by: RATBOY ]

11th Oct 2001, 19:06
The sick part to many of the aviation safety issues in the USA is that there is a hefty tax on each ticket. The money accumulates into a 'special' fund which is spent on politically favorable matters - only.

Safety is not on that list.

Many presume it was this fund which built the $100 million - plus - airport for Clinton's pal, Tyson, of Tyson Foods. There was also a major drug conviction in the background.

With then-Governor Clinton's drug associations (3 Billion in Cocaine) in Mena Arkansas Airport, and the media 'conveniently' hiding that history, Americans have lost heart with much of America.

The 9-11 mess has one resounding cry, "The money was already there, this could have been easily prevented!"

Canavan was forced to leave the FAA for refusing to put sky-marshals on planes with government VIPs, as part of a post 9-11 publicity stunt. Canavan refused, as it would only make the planes targets. FBI or U.S. Marshals were already available for protection, without the publicity.

[ 11 October 2001: Message edited by: SKYDRIFTER ]

12th Oct 2001, 02:32
>>Canavan was forced to leave the FAA for refusing to put sky-marshals on planes with government VIPs, as part of a post 9-11 publicity stunt. Canavan refused, as it would only make the planes targets. FBI or U.S. Marshals were already available for protection, without the publicity.<<

Yep, here's an account from USA Today:

10/11/2001 - Updated 05:59 PM ET

FAA security chief quits over assignment

By Blake Morrison and Alan Levin, USA TODAY

The Federal Aviation Administration's security chief resigned in protest after telling top FAA officials he would not reassign air marshals to flights that members of President Bush's Cabinet took Sept. 28, USA TODAY has learned. Michael Canavan's decision to quit came shortly after Bush announced that nine Cabinet members would take commercial flights to show the nation that flying was safe. Administration officials had decided that sending large security details on the flights was unworkable. But because the trips were announced publicly, they worried the flights could be terrorist targets and decided to put marshals aboard.

In the next few days, Canavan, a retired army lieutenant general, changed his mind about quitting. But by then, sources say, top FAA officials had lost confidence in him because of his actions during a crisis.
The agency announced his departure Friday. A statement issued by the FAA said only that Canavan and Administrator Jane Garvey "mutually agreed" to part ways. Garvey appointed him in December. He will stay on until late October or early November.

Some sources say Canavan, who declined to comment, still does not want to leave. Others say he eventually agreed, in part because Congress is moving to create a new agency for aviation security separate from the FAA. In addition, some at the agency say they were troubled by what they considered his difficulty adapting after a career in the military.

Even so, his departure underscores intense pressures within the FAA about how security should be handled in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "A lot of people are looking to leave the agency," said one FAA security official who requested anonymity.

Canavan's decision to quit came after he argued that marshals had been assigned to flights that presented more of a risk of hijacking than those Cabinet members were to fly. After reluctantly agreeing to shift the marshals, he changed his mind. He told FAA officials that if he were overruled, he would quit, sources say.

Canavan's objections were "politically foolish but sound" from a security standpoint, said an FAA official with knowledge of the program.

Marshals fly incognito, at least two to a flight, and are trained to handle hijackings. Because the force is small — until the Sept. 11 hijackings, there were fewer than 100 — they are assigned to flights authorities believe are at the greatest risk of hijacking.