Jane Garvey was the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration during the
September 11 terrorist attacks. The agency’s confounding, inept reaction to those
attacks has yet to be fully explained. Over the previous four years: a 2000
Government Accountability Office report castigated the FAA for not conducting
background searches on contractors and “foreign nationals” with access to “critical
FAA systems”; Garvey claimed to have been unaware of hijacking threat information
gathered within her own organization’s intelligence unit, and; a company called
Ptech, which was founded by an alleged terror financier, spent two years in an FAA
building under her watch developing extremely sensitive air traffic monitoring
Garvey became FAA administrator in August 1997. Over the next four years, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, Garvey and her deputy routinely ignored daily briefs from her in-house intelligence shop on CIA and FBI data regarding threats to aviation. That department, which had a staff of 40, was isolated from the FAA’s policymaking, and Garvey had no idea about “a great amount of hijacking threat information.”
In December 2000, the Government Accountability Office released a report noting “serious, pervasive problems” at FAA in information systems, facilities, personnel, and even intrusion detection. Specifically, the report said that the FAA had not completed required background searches of contract employees who were performing “penetration tests” on “critical FAA systems.” Furthermore, background searches of “foreign nationals” had been left undone, leaving critical information systems at risk. The “extent of exposure,” the report said, “is unknown.”
From 1999 through 2001, a Massachusetts software company called Ptech worked with FAA at one of their Washington buildings to create the information architecture for the National Airspace System. Ptech financier Yassin Al Qadi was eventually named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) for allegedly funneling $3 million to Osama Bin Laden, whom he had met in the 1980s. Al Qadi was also accused of sending nearly $1 million to Hamas and helping to found a bank whose investors included Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook.
Ptech was developing “enterprise architecture” for the FAA. Enterprise software is a powerful, ominous new dimension of data mining: it allows wide-ranging access to sensitive information because it creates a “blueprint” of an organization’s networks and can leave an untraceable back door that allows manipulation of the organizations information and assets in real time.
At 9:24 on September 11, 2001, FAA called the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and asked them to scramble jet fighters, believing that a hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 was headed to Washington, D.C. In fact, the flight had crashed into the World Trade Center 38 minutes earlier. The jet fighters, which were supposed to chase the phantom plane toward Washington, headed out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Just two weeks after the attacks, Garvey said, “No one could imagine someone being willing to commit suicide, being willing to use an airplane as a lethal weapon.” However, she later told the 9/11 Commission that she knew of a heightened threat in the summer of 2001.
Sometime between December 2001 and February 2002, an FAA quality-assurance manager destroyed a tape made just hours after the September 11, 2001 attacks by six air traffic controllers who had been in contact with two hijacked planes. Despite the FAA having distributed an e-mail requiring safeguarding of all records relevant to the attacks (“If a question arises whether or not you should retain data, RETAIN IT,” the e-mail read), a May 2004 report from the Department of Transportation’s inspector general noted that the manager smashed the cassette, tore up the tape, and deposited the shards in several different trash cans. The controllers had recorded their recollection of the morning’s events on that tape; no copies or transcriptions now exist.
In June 2002, Joe Bergentino, a reporter at WBZ-TV in Boston, began looking into terror connections at Ptech, the company that helped the FAA build information architecture for its National Airspace System. Bergentino had received a tip from Indira Singh, an enterprise software expert who was alarmed at Ptech’s access to sensitive FAA systems in light of its founder’s alleged terror links.
In August 2002, Garvey left the FAA. That same month, the Treasury Department — sparked by the WBZ investigation, according to Bergentino — began looking into Ptech as part of Operation Green Quest, the largest federal terror financing investigation in U.S. history. (Ptech board member Yacub Mirza was a central figure in a large group of Virginia corporations and charities raided in March 2002 as part of Operation Green Quest.)
Federal authorities asked WBZ-TV, as well as national networks ABC and NBC, to hold their story for three months as the National Security Council scoured government computer systems for malicious code inside Ptech software. In December 2002, the Treasury Department raided Ptech’s Massachusetts headquarters as part of Operation Green Quest, and WBZ-TV was finally able to broadcast its story.
A National Security Agency official assured the public that Ptech’s software was “completely safe” just hours after the raid. However, a senior administration official said, “Something still might be there. We couldn’t prove a negative.”
In May 2003, an FAA official testified to the 9/11 Commission that the agency contacted NORAD immediately after the first strike on the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.. In fact, the two agencies were not in contact until 51 minutes later, after the third plane had crashed. The Pentagon misled the commission as well; one major general testified that NORAD started tracking United Flight 93 twelve minutes before it was even hijacked. In truth, the Pentagon didn’t even know about the flight until after it crashed.
Some on the commission believed they were deliberately misled. The truth about the phantom Flight 11 and the scrambled jets came to light not because of, but in spite of the agencies’ testimony, and the Commission had to use subpoenas to get tapes and other evidence from the agencies. In September 2006, the Transportation Department’s Inspector General released a report accusing three FAA executives of failing to correct the false information given in the testimony to the commission.
In 2004, Garvey joined the board of Mitre Corp., a non-profit whose board is littered with former Pentagon hands and defense contractor executives. Mitre had partnered with Ptech in the two years leading up to 9/11 to develop sensitive enterprise architecture for the very National Airspace System that fell short on 9/11. One of the chief architects of that system, Felix Rausch, is a former Chief Information Officer for the White House; he had left the FAA for Ptech almost exactly two years before 9/11 to be their Director of Government Services. Despite being a Ptech employee, FAA paperwork from that time lists Rausch as having an office, phone, and e-mail account with FAA at their Portals Building on Independence Avenue. (Other contractors have been co-located at the FAA as well.)
Garvey now works at APCO Worldwide, a PR firm that set up a fake grassroots organization created for Philip Morris in the early 1990s to dispute studies on the dangers of second-hand smoke. The organization, called “The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition,” eventually took money from ExxonMobil and launched an offensive against global warming science.
According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, Garvey was one of the “Top Public Officials of the 20th Century.” At LeadingAuthorities.com, she can be booked as a speaker for a $5,000 to $10,000 fee.
- FAA Administrator August 1997 to August 2002: http://www.faa.gov/about/history/history_admin/
- On Mitre board since 2004: http://www.mitre.org/about/bot/garvey.html
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- http://me diamatters.org/items/200508120001
- http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title =The_Advancement_of_Sound_Science_Coalition
- http://www.leadingauthorities.co m/19299/Jane_Garvey.htm
- http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/stor y/0,,1875762,00.html
- http ://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/06/national/06CND-TAPE.html?ex=1399262400&en=3473eb2a a7591d4e&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND
- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/10/ politics/10terror.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5090&en=72bd8d71c9dc962c&ex=12656 91600