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Agency wants FAA execs disciplined over 9-11

Reuters | September 2 2006

The U.S. Transportation Department's inspector general has urged the FAA to consider disciplining two executives who failed to correct false information provided to the commission that investigated the September 11 attacks, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing the report by the acting inspector general, Todd Zinser, whose office acts as the department's internal watchdog, the Times said the Federal Aviation Administration executives, as well as a third, now-retired official, learned after the fact that false information was given to the commission in May 2003 about the FAA's contacts with the Air Force on the morning of the attacks.

That information suggested that the FAA had made contact with its Air Force liaison immediately after the first of the four hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center in New York, the Times said.

But the commission's investigators found that the liaison did not join a conference call with the FAA until after the third plane crashed nearly an hour later.

The time gap is considered significant because it helps undermine an initial claim by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which is responsible for domestic air defense, that it moved quickly and had a chance to shoot down the last of the hijacked planes still in the air, United Airlines Flight 93, the Times said.

Now the inspector general's report, compiled to address complaints from the independent September 11 commission, has found that the three FAA executives failed to act on an "obligation" to correct the false information given to the commission.

The FAA declined to identify the executives and their names and titles were not disclosed in the inspector general's report, the Times said. The agency also did not say whether it was considering disciplinary action. There was no evidence that the executives provided false information knowingly, the inspector general's office found.

The FAA said the "inspector general's investigation has clarified the record and found no evidence that FAA officials knowingly made false statements," the Times said.

The Pentagon's inspector general said in a similar finding last month concerning military officers who provided inaccurate testimony to the commission that their inaccuracies could be mainly attributed to poor record-keeping.

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