Sept. 11 panel questions federal airport security
Sept. 11 panel questions federal airport security

Online Exclusive, May 27 2003

A two-day public hearing last week by the independent commission studying the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks focused on vulnerabilities and security failures within the nation's aviation system before, on and since that day.

At the hearing, commission members pressed Bush administration and military officials about whether the government should have been more prepared for a terrorist attack that would use airplanes as weapons.

Former Transportation Department Inspector General Mary Schiavo said the aviation industry escaped accountability when Congress bailed out airlines and federalized airport security after Sept. 11.

Those actions, she said in written testimony, "guaranteed aviation will again be attacked by terrorism." Now a transportation disaster attorney, Schiavo and her firm represent the families of 47 passengers killed on Sept. 11.

Witnesses and commission members tried to pinpoint specific failings by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before and on Sept. 11. Commissioner Tim Roemer, a former congressman from Indiana, recited a list of warnings issued in the years before the attacks that terrorists might try to fly airplanes into buildings.

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