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Washington was 'warned of hijack risk'
(Filed: 13/09/2001)

THE American government was warned eight years ago that the Pentagon and White House were vulnerable to attack from hijacked jets.

Military adviser Dr Marvin Cetron says he prepared a 250-page report for the US intelligence agencies in 1993 which detailed his concerns - but it was ignored. "I said ... aircraft could hit the White House or the Pentagon - making a left turn at the Washington Monument and running into the White House, or a right turn and going into the Pentagon," Dr Cetron said.

He added: "They understood and they ignored it, they took it out of the final draft. I think the reason they didn't want that published is because they felt they couldn't do anything about it. It would scare people and the flying public, which it probably would have, and therefore why worry about it."

Republican Senator Wayne Allard, a member of the US administration's armed forces committee, said he was part of various hearings where the suggestion of possible attacks from hijacked jets were made. He said the warnings were similar to the terror attacks which saw four planes hijacked to deadly effect, but not exactly the same.

He added: "Obviously it's hard to evaluate the likelihood of something like ... I think it's a shock to all of us, even though we talked about various scenarios that terrorists may use to cripple the United States."

Asked how clear were the warnings he got while sitting on the intelligence committee he replied: "They weren't clear, they were just speculations. They were suggestions of what could happen. "Then you're faced with what is the likelihood - what's a reasonable approach to try and defend yourself."