WASHINGTON – A Federal Aviation Administration official says a disputed high-level report detailing a shooting aboard American Airlines Flight 11 on Sept. 11 is not a mistaken first draft, as claimed by FAA management.
The official, a veteran security specialist, says he was at FAA headquarters here when the “executive summary” of the four hijacked flights was written late that tragic day for FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and other top managers.
“The document was reviewed for accuracy by a number of people in the room, including myself and a couple of managers of the operations center,” he told WorldNetDaily.
“Nobody disputed it before I left work for the day,” which was close to midnight, said the official, who asked to go unnamed.
His account is at odds with the FAA’s.
According to FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown, the passage
about hijacker Satam al-Suqami shooting and killing
passenger Daniel Lewin with a single bullet on the
flight out of Boston, was “corrected” that day in a
“final summary” to Garvey. The alleged earlier draft
was written at 5:31 p.m.
“That report was prepared for the evening. As soon as that piece of paper was prepared and people in security saw it, they said, ‘No, no, no, no, we found out that wasn’t true.’ And it was corrected,” Brown
said in a Feb. 27 interview with WorldNetDaily. “So that was a draft of the final executive summary.”
Brown told the Washington Post much the same thing in a March 2 article.
“By the end of the day, they knew that there had not been a gun on the aircraft,” she was quoted as saying.
Asked again for a copy of the “final summary,” Brown refused, reiterating that it is “protected information.” She would not explain why a corrected version of a memo that has already been made public might still be sensitive.
Brown agreed to check the time that the alleged final draft was written, but has not followed up. A copy of the document obtained by WorldNetDaily is time-stamped “9/11/01 5:31 p.m.”
The report is controversial because, up until now, there was every indication that the 19 hijackers used box cutters – a legal carry-on item at the time – and therefore did not breach airport security, which was managed by the airlines and regulated by the FAA.
Guns, of course, are banned.
The official who was at the FAA Operation Center the day the report was prepared says he knows its author, and that the employee is not known to make mistakes.
“The person is extremely competent,” he said, declining to reveal the author’s name.
A former FAA special agent says he understands one of the authors to be Penny Anderson, an official in FAA’s international operations division.
“She was involved in the writing, proofing and delivery of the report,” said Steve Elson, an airport-security whistleblower who has maintained close ties to many FAA staffers since resigning from the agency in 1999. “She hand-delivered it to Garvey on the 10th floor.”
Brown would not say when Garvey got a copy of the summary.
“Penny is bright and pays attention to detail,” Elson said. “I’d be surprised if she’d let a mistake like that get by.”
He added: “I don’t think there is any second draft.”
Anderson referred questions to FAA’s press office. Brown declined comment when asked about Anderson’s contribution to the Sept. 11 report.
If the report of a gunshot is a mistaken draft, two others things are curious – it’s not labeled “draft,” and it wasn’t destroyed.
Brown says she can’t explain it. But she maintains that there was no gun aboard Flight 11, and that the account resulted from a “miscommunication” between FAA headquarters and American Airlines dispatch centers.
What kind of “miscommunication”? She would not elaborate.
But Brown points out that, given the multiple jumbo-jet crashes and catastrophic attacks on the country that day, the information-gathering process at the operations center was unusually chaotic, leading to several errors – only one of which was the gun account.
Indeed, the same Flight 11 summary containing the gun incident said the jet crashed at 9:25 a.m, when in fact it hit the first World Trade Center tower at 8:48 a.m. In another error, United Airlines Flight 93 passenger Christian Adams’ name is misspelled as
Still, these errors are perfunctory by comparison. There’s a big difference between confusing weapons and causes of death, and mixing up times and spellings of names, skeptics point out.
Sources familiar with what happened that day in FAA’s emergency operations center say information was coming in at a frenetic pace. As new pieces of data arrived, they were written down on paper and posted on a “status board” for the four flights. At the end of the day, one or more staffers summarized all the information on the board in a report.
The gunshot account “was recorded factually from what was on the wall containing all the information we had at that point in time,” the FAA source involved in the process said.
The shooting passage is the most specific in the report:
“The American Airlines FAA Principal Security Inspector (PSI) was notified by Suzanne Clark of American Airlines Corporate Headquarters that an on board flight attendant contacted American Airlines Operations Center and informed 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 Satam Al Suqami. One bullet was reported to have been fired.”
Apart from the time, many of the details check out.
The passenger seating matches that of the airline’s manifest. Clark in Fort Worth did contact FAA Principal Security Inspector Janet Riffe in Washington, though both deny discussing a gun.
“We do not know where that got its life in this summary written for Jane Garvey,” said American Airlines spokesman John
Also, an American flight attendant on the plane did call and report a passenger being killed by hijackers seated in rows 9 and 10 – although the passenger died of stab wounds, according to the FBI’s account of what she said. And she called Logan International Airport in Boston, however, not American’s system operations control center at Fort Worth. It was another American flight attendant who called Fort Worth, but she apparently did not mention a passenger being killed.
The FBI, which got the manifest from American within hours of the first crash, denies it was the FAA source for the gun story.
And officials at the bureau say they have come up with no evidence in their investigation of the hijackings to suggest any passengers were shot aboard the flights.
“There is no evidence that any shots were fired at any time on any of the flights,” FBI spokesman Bill Carter told WorldNetDaily.
So how did a detailed account of a shooting on Flight 11 end up in a high-level government report?
“In any investigation, there is information that may be developed very early on that, after further scrutiny and further investigation, is determined to be no longer operative,” Carter explained.