WASHINGTON, D.C.—With the five outspoken “Jersey Girls” jumping into the Kerry campaign, the always tenuous alliances among 9-11 families risk being fractured by politicization. And this comes at a time when, largely because of the Jersey Girls’ prodding, more than two dozen former federal employees have come forward to challenge both the 9-11 Commission and the Bush administration’s handling of the investigation. These whistleblowers, who worked in counterintelligence and anti-terrorism units of agencies including the FBI, CIA, and FAA, come from all sides of the political spectrum.
So far, John Kerry hasn’t made much of 9-11. Now with the 9-11 Jersey widows and a few allies—Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken—endorsing him, he has issued a pretty tepid statement, promising to re-convene the 9-11 Commission.
In fact, 9-11 is a minefield for the Kerry campaign. In May 2001, frustrated FAA anti terrorism officials tried to get the senator’s attention because of what they had discovered to be an alarming lack of security at Boston’s Logan Airport, from which two groups of hijackers boarded planes that hit the World Trade Center.
As a March 2004 New York Post story recounted, Brian Sullivan, an FAA special agent in the Boston area, told Kerry in a letter dated May 7, 2001, that security at Logan was lax and warned him to imagine “a coordinated attack which took down several domestic flights on the same day.” Sullivan’s letter cited a sting operation he had helped engineer with a local TV station showing that in nine out of 10 tries, a crew got knives and other weapons through security checkpoints.
“With the concept of jihad, do you think it would be difficult for a determined terrorist to get on a plane and destroy himself and all other passengers?” Sullivan warned. “Think what the result would be of a coordinated attack which took down several domestic flights on the same day. With our current screening, this is more than possible. It is almost likely.”
But the airlines fought efforts to improve security, according to Sullivan, because it would add to their costs, and the compliant FAA went along with them.
Sullivan’s letter to Kerry disappeared into the federal bureaucracy.
Additional reporting: Laurie Anne Agnese
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 7, 2004