COVER UP OR ERROR?
By early evening on September 11 the story was out that the highjackers had used box cutters to overpower the crews of the four highjacked jumbo jets. The pundits were busy explaining that the small bladed razor sharp knives were not prohibited under FAA guidelines banning knives with blades over 3 inches long. The dust of the towers collapse was just commencing to settle when spokesmen from the airlines and the FAA were making the rounds of the TV studios explaining that the terrorists could not have been detected under the existing airport security guidelines.
In the aftermath the Airlines, badly damaged by the one week grounding of all domestic air traffic were courting Congress for a bailout. It struck me as curious at the time that the airlines and the Administration included a provision that would have immunized the carriers from liability lawsuits arsising out of the attacks. I thought that immunizing the airlines was unnecessary because the word was that they had applied the proper guidelines to the passengers boarding the victimized flights and liability lawsuits based on negligence would never fly.
Now I am not so sure. An internal FAA memo has surfaced that, if it is accurate, provides the basis to hold American Airlines liable, not just for the deaths of the passengers and crew aboard Flight 11 but also for the damages and deaths resulting from the collapse of the tower into which Flight 11 slammed. The memo was written in the late afternoon of September 11th. It is detailed and specific. According to the memorandum American Airlines informed the agency that one of the cabin attendants had telephoned her supervisor while the highjacking was going on to report that the passenger in business class seat 10B had just shot the passenger in seat 9B. The information was specific and included the information that only one shot had been fired. WorldNetDaily, an obscure Internet news publication, made the memo public on February 27th. http://www.worldnetdaily.com
Confronted by the memorandum the FAA explained that it was only a first draft and the final draft did not include that information. The FAA refused to release the final draft of the memo. American Airlines spokesman John Hotard denied that a gun was involved or that the information came from the company's security chief as the memo claimed.
The gun aboard described in the memo is not the only fact emerging that casts doubt on the box-cutter story. When the Justice Department indicted Zacarias Moussaoui for conspiracy it alleged that Mohammed Atta, the leader of the plot, had boarded Flight 11 with pepper spray, another article that was strictly banned before the September 11th attacks. Since the airliners returned to the air the traveling public has been subjected to increased limitations on what they can carry aboard. It is hard to buy that a simple nail clipper could be used as an effective weapon yet they are being routinely confiscated.
If a gun and a Mace canister were the weapons that were used to take
control of Flight 11 what purpose would be served by misleading the
public? Whether it was a gun or a box cutter the perpetrators are still
the same. The nature of the weapons doesn't change the identity of the
conspirators. If it turns out that the memo is accurate and the allegation
that Atta had brought pepper spray aboard Flight 11 proves true, well
the resulting liability of American and its security contractor could
bring the company down. If, as two former FAA inspectors have claimed,
the agency has concealed the woeful state of pre-911 security at the
nation's airports then the political fallout could be devastating. The
is plenty of motive to edit that first draft.
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