WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration received repeated warnings in the months prior to Sept. 11, 2001, about al-Qaida and its desire to attack airlines, according to a previously undisclosed report by the commission that investigated the terror attacks.
The report by the 9/11 commission that investigated the suicide airliner attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon detailed 52 such warnings given to FAA leaders from April to Sept. 10, 2001, about the radical Islamic terrorist group and its leader, Osama bin Laden.
The commission report, written last August, said five security warnings mentioned al-Qaida's training for hijackings and two reports concerned suicide operations not connected to aviation. However, none of the warnings pinpointed what would happen on Sept. 11.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency received intelligence from other agencies, which it passed on to airlines and airports.
But, she said, "We had no specific information about means or methods that would have enabled us to tailor any countermeasures."
Brown also said the FAA was in the process of tightening security at the time of the attacks.
"We were spending $100 million a year to deploy explosive detection equipment at the airports," she said. The agency was also close to issuing a regulation that would have set higher standards for screeners and, for the first time, give it direct control over the screening work force."
... and how close to doing something useful like putting bars on the cockpit doors? Not very, I suppose.