Ed Driscoll

UNDERPERFORMIN' NORMAN UPDATE: Speaking of

UNDERPERFORMIN’ NORMAN UPDATE: Speaking of smoking, what’s Norman Mineta been puffing lately? Jeff Johnson of CNSNews.com writes:

Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9/11 Commission) Friday that, prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, aviation security officials had not considered that a hijacker might commandeer an airplane for any reason other than taking hostages.

“I don’t think we ever thought of an airplane being used as a missile,” Mineta declared.

But former Rep. Tim Roemer (D-Ind.), who now serves on the commission, challenged Mineta’s claim. Roemer noted that there was consideration within intelligence agencies that terrorists might plan an attack such as the one carried out on 9/11.

“Wouldn’t you view it as a failure of our intelligence community not to tell the secretary of transportation that there was such a conceivable threat, that the people like the Coast Guard and the FAA should be thinking about?” Roemer asked.

“We had no information of that nature at all,” Mineta replied.

“There was nothing in those intelligence reports that would have been specific to anything that happened on the 11th of September,” Mineta said. “There was nothing in the preceding time period about aircraft being used as a weapon or of any other terrorist types of activities of that nature.”

But those statements directly contradict documentation compiled by aviation security analyst Andrew Thomas in his new book Aviation Insecurity: The New Challenges of Air Travel .

“With all due respect to Secretary Mineta, either he’s incredibly in denial or just simply not the sharpest tool in the woodshed,” Thomas told CNSNews.com Friday. “There were clearly – well before 9/11, years before 9/11 – numerous instances where we knew of both al Qaeda and other terrorist groups threatening or actually putting into place the hijacking of commercial airliners and slamming them into targets on the ground.”

Al Qaeda started planning suicide hijackings years earlier

Thomas details a 1995 warning from Philippine authorities to the FBI about a plot by the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, and an accomplice, Abdul Murad.

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Thomas believes that the problem on Sept. 11, 2001, was not that the aviation security system failed, but rather that the aviation security system was – and still is – designed for failure. He recommends focusing on “bad people rather than bad things” through stricter access control and limited use of passenger profiling.

“The need to look at certain passengers differently than others from a security perspective only makes sense,” he wrote. “A World War II veteran simply does not pose the same level of potential threat as a young man traveling from a troubled country.

“To try to argue this point,” Thomas believes, “is silly.”

Of course. But that’s never stopped Mineta from trying.