WASHINGTON – A third federal aviation-security agent, one still with the government, has stepped forward to say he also warned Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry about security lapses at Boston’s Logan International Airport before the 9-11 hijackings there.
Earlier this week, two former FAA agents said the Democratic presidential hopeful failed to take effective action after they gave him a prophetic warning that his home airport was vulnerable to multiple hijackings.
Brian Sullivan, a retired special agent from the Boston area, advised Kerry in a May 7, 2001, letter (page 1, page 2) that Logan was ripe for a “jihad” suicide operation possibly involving “a coordinated attack.” He cited serious breaches at Logan security checkpoints exposed by an undercover investigation he and another former agent helped a Boston TV news station conduct.
Sullivan says he had a copy of the undercover videotape hand-delivered to Kerry’s office.
It turns out the person who delivered it was a senior FAA agent in Washington who’s now with the Transportation Security Administration. The agent, Bogdan Dzakovic, headed covert testing of airport security across the country before TSA took over aviation security from FAA after 9-11.
In an exclusive interview, he says he gave the tape to Jamie Wise, a Kerry staffer at the time.
After the office visit, “I received no feedback from anyone there,” Dzakovic told WorldNetDaily.
Kerry boasts in campaign ads he “sounded the alarm on terrorism years before 9-11.”
But he waited three months to reply to Sullivan’s letter. And his July 24, 2001, letter, a copy of which was obtained by WorldNetDaily, merely offers to pass Sullivan’s warning on to the Transportation Department’s inspector general – even though Sullivan had made it clear in his letter that going to his old agency was a dead end. He and other agents, including Dzakovic, had complained about security lapses for years and got nowhere.
“The DOT OIG has become an ineffective overseer of the FAA,” Sullivan told Kerry.
He suggested Kerry show the tape to peers on committees with FAA oversight. He even volunteered to testify before them.
Yet the correspondence stopped there. Kerry never followed up with him.
“He just did the Washington shuffle,” said Sullivan, who thinks Kerry had a chance to prevent the Boston hijackings.
Another former agent, Steve Elson, who set up the TV sting at Logan, tried to follow up with Kerry, but was told by Wise he wasn’t a constituent. (Elson, formerly of the elite Red Team that did covert testing, was a Houston field agent at the time.)
He came unglued, warning the staffer that if Kerry didn’t act soon he’d risk the lives of planeloads of his actual constituents.
“What would the senator say if a large plane filled with holiday travelers took off from Logan at Thanksgiving for somewhere in California and went – boom – spattering men, women, children and babies all over the landscape at a couple of hundred knots?” demanded Elson, an ex-Navy SEAL.
His warning now looks like prophecy: At least 82 Kerry constituents were murdered aboard American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175.
Elson says he also dealt with Gregg Rothschild, Kerry’s legislative director at the time. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.
Dzakovic laments the lack of attention to their warnings.
“We could have fed fish at the aquarium and accomplished just as much,” he said.
Sullivan is perhaps the most frustrated. His two-page warning to Kerry four months before the Logan hijackings was eerily prescient.
“With the concept of jihad, do you think it would be difficult for a determined terrorist to get on a plane and destroy himself and all other passengers?” he wrote. “Think what the result would be of a coordinated attack which took down several domestic flights on the same day. With our current screening, this is more than possible. It is almost likely.”
The toll from such an attack would be economic, as well as human, he predicted with chilling accuracy.
And the Logan security failures he highlighted in the letter included breaches at the very checkpoints the hijackers would later exploit.
The undercover investigation by Fox affiliate WFXT in Boston showed crews penetrating security checkpoints at Logan with knives and other weapons in nine of 10 tries.
Elson says the crew, led by reporter Deborah Sherman, walked through with Leatherman tools concealed in fanny packs. The Leatherman is a fancy utility knife. The 9-11 hijackers used utility knives. Sherman says she also had no luck getting Kerry to act on the video he apparently saw.
“It was always being ‘reviewed’ every time I called,” she said. “There was no comment or action taken on the senator’s part other than passing the tape along to someone else.”
Sullivan – a registered independent who’s also critical of Bush’s handling of aviation security, both before and since 9-11 – thinks Kerry could have saved the Twin Towers, which were toppled by the Boston jetliners, and thousands of lives.
“John Kerry should have – and could have – prevented 9-11,” he said.
How? “He could have taken direct action to address the concerns we had identified by visiting Logan and the MassPort authorities at Logan or the Massachusetts State Police,” he said.
If that didn’t work to bring about corrective action, he could have applied political pressure by having Sullivan and other agents testify before Congress, he says.
“Enhanced security would have prevented the hijackings, virtually without question,” Elson agreed. If nothing else, it might have discouraged ringleader Mohamed Atta, who monitored security procedures at Logan weeks before the hijackings.
Phone calls to Kerry’s campaign were not returned.
Right after 9-11, he told the Boston Globe that he’d triggered an undercover probe of Logan security by the General Accounting Office in June 2001, based on the TV report.
Only, he wrote Sullivan no such thing in his July letter, stating only that he passed his warning and the tape on to Transportation, not GAO.
And GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, did not test security at Logan. (Kerry confessed he didn’t know the outcome of the probe he says he initiated.)
GAO spokesman Jeff Nelligan says there is no evidence Kerry requested anything specific with regard to Logan, although he says GAO had communications with “a number of interested members and staff, including Sen. John Kerry’s office” about airport screener testing work in 2001.
He would not elaborate.
Sullivan and Elson, joined by aviation-security experts David Forbes and Andrew Thomas, want to see Kerry called before the 9-11 Commission, as well as President Bush, to answer questions about what he knew about Logan’s lapses, and specifically what he did about them, before that fateful day. They also recommend GAO and Transportation officials testify to sort out discrepancies in Kerry’s story.
Calls to the panel were not immediately returned.
“We don’t have to wait for a tragedy to occur to act,” Sullivan urged Kerry in his letter.