New Sept. 11 report shows U.S. blunders

Feb. 10, 2005 at 7:43 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- A previously undisclosed report from the U.S. Sept. 11 commission shows the risk of suicide aircraft attacks was known months prior to the 2001 attacks.

The report said the Federal Aviation Administration warned airports in the spring of 2001 if "the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable," the New York Times reports.

The report criticizes the FAA for failing to invoke domestic security measures that could possibly have altered the events of Sept. 11, 2001, like toughening airport screening procedures for weapons or expanding the use of on-flight air marshals.

However, an agency spokeswoman defended the measures taken.

"We had a lot of information about threats," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told the newspaper. "But we didn't have specific information about means or methods that would have enabled us to tailor any countermeasures."

Completed last August, the report said FAA officials appeared more concerned with reducing airline congestion, lessening delays, and easing airlines' financial woes than deterring a terrorist attack.

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