September 2, 2006

Agency wants FAA execs disciplined over 9/11: NYT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Department's
inspector general has urged the FAA to consider disciplining
two executives who failed to correct false information provided
to the commission that investigated the September 11 attacks,
the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing the report by the acting inspector general, Todd
Zinser, whose office acts as the department's internal
watchdog, the Times said the Federal Aviation Administration
executives, as well as a third, now-retired official, learned
after the fact that false information was given to the
commission in May 2003 about the FAA's contacts with the Air
Force on the morning of the attacks.

That information suggested that the FAA had made contact
with its Air Force liaison immediately after the first of the
four hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center in New York,
the Times said.

But the commission's investigators found that the liaison
did not join a conference call with the FAA until after the
third plane crashed nearly an hour later.

The time gap is considered significant because it helps
undermine an initial claim by the North American Aerospace
Defense Command, which is responsible for domestic air defense,
that it moved quickly and had a chance to shoot down the last
of the hijacked planes still in the air, United Airlines Flight
93, the Times said.

Now the inspector general's report, compiled to address
complaints from the independent September 11 commission, has
found that the three FAA executives failed to act on an
"obligation" to correct the false information given to the

The FAA declined to identify the executives and their names
and titles were not disclosed in the inspector general's
report, the Times said. The agency also did not say whether it
was considering disciplinary action. There was no evidence that
the executives provided false information knowingly, the
inspector general's office found.

The FAA said the "inspector general's investigation has
clarified the record and found no evidence that FAA officials
knowingly made false statements," the Times said.

The Pentagon's inspector general said in a similar finding
last month concerning military officers who provided inaccurate
testimony to the commission that their inaccuracies could be
mainly attributed to poor record-keeping.