— -- Senate Votes to Arm Pilots in Cockpits
W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 5 — The Senate voted today to allow pilots tocarry guns in the cockpit.
The 87-to-6 vote came on an amendment to the bill creating anew homeland security agency. The measure also calls for self-defense training for flightattendants.
The vote came shortly after the Bush administration changed its position today on the issue. The Bush administration is considering a plan to arm a limited number of commercial pilots, as long as a variety of safety and training concerns are addressed. However, administration officials said they had not yet worked out a formal proposal, a senior Bush administration source said.
Supporters say pilots are the last line of defense against ahijacker.
The House of Representatives has already passed separate legislation to arm the nation's commercial pilots, also on a voluntary basis. But the Senate's plan is slightly different. For instance, it also would provide self-defense training for flight attendants. Differences in the two measures would have to be worked out during House and Senate negotiations on the Homeland Security bill.
— Wire Reports
Intruder Reported at Chemical Weapons Site
T O O E L E, Utah, Sept. 5 — Officials at the Deseret Chemical Depot,which stores and destroys nerve agents, sounded a terrorist alertthis morning after a possible intrusion.
One person was spotted within the heavily guarded perimeter,said Shelia Culley, joint information command center manager. Itwasn't immediately clear if that person was caught. The possible intruder was within the fenced area between thestored chemicals and the outer perimeter. Chris Kramer, publicinformation officer with the Utah Department of Public Safety, saidthe person was seen about one mile north of the weaponsincinerator. Wade Mathews, with the Tooele County Emergency Management, saidsheriff's deputies setup a roadblock around the depot after thealarm sounded at 9:24 a.m. and the Utah Department of Public Safetywas using a helicopter to search the grounds. There were no immediate evacuations of the depot or surroundingareas, he said. The depot, about 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, storeschemical and nerve agents such as mustard gas. It has beendestroying a stockpile of deadly chemical weapons since 1996. Earlier this year, it finished destroying the largest stockpileof sarin nerve gas in the United States. It is scheduled to destroy1,300 tons of VX, a more toxic but less volatile nerve agent, and6,100 tons of mustard gas, a blister agent that can dissolve tissueon contact.
— The Associated Press
Gov’t Announces Sept. 11 Flight Restrictions
W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 5 — The federal government today announcedflight restrictions coinciding with public ceremonies at the threeSept. 11 crash sites.
The temporary rules are less stringent than those presented tothe aviation industry last week. The proposal would have bannedinternationally owned airlines from flying over the sites on theanniversary of the terrorist attacks.
The rules limit flying within a 34.5-mile radius of the eventsites below 18,000 feet. Passengers on commercial airlines will berequired to remain seated for 30 minutes after takeoff and 30minutes before landing in the three areas.
Private flying will be banned or in some cases limited toaircraft operating under instrument flight rules. Sightseeing andtraining flights will also be banned.
In New York, the restrictions will be in effect from 7 a.m. ETon Sept. 11 until 8 p.m. on Sept. 13. Private planes will bebanned shortly before, during and after public outdoor events onall three days.
In Washington, the restrictions will be in effect from 8:30 a.m.until 11 a.m. on Sept. 11. Flights will be banned over a ceremonyat the Pentagon.
In Somerset, Pa., flights will be banned over and near theoutdoor ceremony.— The Associated Press
Lawsuit Links Iraq to Sept. 11 Attacks
N E W Y O R K, Sept. 5 — A new lawsuit tries to link Iraq to terrorismtargeting the United States, alleging that Iraqi officials wereaware, before Sept. 11, of plans by Osama bin Laden to attack NewYork and the Pentagon.
The suit, filed Wednesday on behalf of 1,400 victims of theSept. 11 attacks and their families, also claims Iraq sponsoredterrorists for a decade to avenge its defeat in the Gulf War.
"Since Iraq could not defeat the U.S. military, it resorted toterror attacks on U.S. citizens," said the lawsuit filed in U.S.District Court.
The suit names bin Laden, al Qaeda and Iraq as defendants andseeks more than $1 trillion in damages. It was brought by Kreindler& Kreindler, a New York law firm specializing in aviation disasterlitigation.
It relies in part on a newspaper article published July 21,2001, in Al Nasiriyah, 185 miles southwest of Baghdad. The law firmprovided The Associated Press with a copy of the article written inArabic and an English translation.
According to the lawsuit, a columnist writing under the bylineNaeem Abd Muhalhal described bin Laden thinking "seriously, withthe seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert, about the way he willtry to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House."
The columnist also allegedly wrote that bin Laden was"insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on thearm that is already hurting," a possible reference to the 1993bombing of the World Trade Center.
The lawsuit says a former associate of Muhalhal contends thewriter has been connected with Iraqi intelligence since the early1980s. It also says Muhalhal was praised by Iraqi President SaddamHussein in the Sept. 1, 2001, issue for his "documentation ofimportant events and heroic deeds that proud Iraqis haveaccomplished."
Jim Kreindler, a lawyer for the firm, said Muhalhal had advanceknowledge of al Qaeda's specific targets on Sept. 11 and that"Iraqi officials were aware of plans to attack Americanlandmarks."
"Further, we have evidence that Iraq provided support for binLaden and his al Qaeda terror organization for nearly a decade,"he said.
The lawsuit said there have been numerous meetings between Iraqiintelligence agents and high-ranking al Qaeda members to planterror attacks.
The suit said bin Laden's chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, whosewhereabouts are unknown, met with Iraqi intelligence agents inBaghdad in 1992. An Iraqi serving with the Taliban who fledAfghanistan in the fall of 2001 and was captured in Kurdistan hascorroborated the meeting and confirmed that Iraqi contacts withal Qaeda began in 1992, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit noted that Ramzi Yousef arrived in New York on Sept.1, 1992, with an Iraqi passport to begin planning the 1993 tradecenter bombing that killed six people and injured more than 1,000others. Yousef is serving a life prison term after being convictedin the bombing and a plot to blow up a dozen airliners over the FarEast in 1995.
The lawsuit alleges that Yousef was an Iraqi intelligence agentwho traveled to the United States using travel documents forged inKuwait during the Iraqi occupation of that country in 1991.
— The Associated Press
Flight Attendants Want Better Self-Defense Training
W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 5 — Many flight attendants say they haven't beenadequately taught to defend themselves or their passengers fromterrorists because each airline offers different training fordealing with potential threats.
Congress passed a law in November ordering transportationofficials to develop training guidance for flight attendants. Butsome flight attendants say the guidelines that resulted are lax andallow as little as two hours of training.
"We're really no more prepared to defend ourselves and todefend our passengers than we were on the morning of Sept. 11,"said Dawn Deeks, spokeswoman for the Association of FlightAttendants, which represents 50,000 flight attendants.
About 100 union members, including United Airlines flightattendant Alice Hoglan, plan to lobby Congress today for stricterself-defense training requirements. Hoglan's son, MarkBingham, was among the passengers who officials believe fought withthe hijackers on United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvaniafield on Sept. 11.
The union surveyed the 26 airlines whose flight attendants itrepresents and found training ranged from two hours to 16 hours.Sometimes the training involved little more than lectures or videotapes, and some trainers focused on dealing with disruptivepassengers rather than fighting off terrorists, the union said.
According to the survey, one training program taught "verbaljudo," designed to redirect behavior through words.
The rules haven't been made public for fear of helpingterrorists. They reflect a change in philosophy to activeresistance from the passive resistance taught before Sept. 11,according to Laura Brown, Federal Aviation Administrationspokeswoman.
The rules describe different responses based on different levelsof threat, instruct flight crews to issue precise commands andindicate that any passenger disturbance should be consideredsuspicious, she said.
They were worked out with significant input from flightattendants and pilots, Brown said.
Mollie Reiley, trustee for the local union chapter representingabout 8,500 Northwest Airlines flight attendants, said thegovernment's training requirements aren't comprehensive enough togive flight attendants confidence that they could protectthemselves.
Members of the union, Teamsters Local 2000, asked Northwest forbetter training and got it. The airline agreed to pay flightattendants to take a voluntary eight-hour self-defense course froman Israeli security firm.
Reiley took the training. "It's great," she said. "You comeout of it with a sense of, 'Why be worried?'"
Alin Boswell, a US Airways flight attendant, said the traininghe got didn't give him confidence that he could defend hispassengers from a terrorist.
Boswell said his training included a 45-minute session in whichsix people in a large classroom pretended they were trying toprotect themselves with items they could find in the cabin.
"It's almost like we're going to be MacGyver turning a stirstick into a lethal weapon," he said, referring to the televisioncharacter known for making weapons out of common items.
David Castelveter, US Airways spokesman, said the airline'straining procedures comply with Federal Aviation Administration andTransportation Security Administration directives on cabinsecurity.
The House approved a bill that, besides allowing pilots to carryguns, spells out requirements for flight crew training that arestricter than those passed in November.
A Senate committee chaired by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., willbe discussing aviation security issues, including flight attendanttraining, on Sept. 10.
Hollings opposes guns in the cockpit, preferring to make thecockpit impenetrable. New bulletproof doors are scheduled to beinstalled in planes by April.
"He recognizes that if you're going to achieve the goal ofmaking sure the cockpit is impenetrable and inaccessible, then youhave to give the flight attendants all the training they need,"said Andy Davis, Hollings spokesman.
— The Associated Press
Flag Raised at Ground Zero Disappears
H A C K E N S A C K, N.J., Sept. 5 — The American flag raised by threefirefighters at Ground Zero on Sept. 11 — a famous image capturedby a New Jersey newspaper photographer — has disappeared.
The flag featured in the photograph came from a yacht, the Starof America, that was in a Hudson River marina that day, near theWorld Trade Center. Firefighter Dan McWilliams took it from theyacht and walked back to Ground Zero, where he and two colleagues,George Johnson and Bill Eisengrein, raised it on a slanted pole.
The spontaneous action was captured by Thomas Franklin, aphotographer with The Record of Bergen County. His photo is amongthe most enduring images of the terrorist attacks, and was laternominated for a Pulitzer Prize and used on a postage stamp.
During the next two weeks, New York City officials removed aflag from the pole. It later flew on U.S. ships serving inAfghanistan before being returned to New York City officials inMarch.
However, the flag that McWilliams took from the yacht measured 4feet by 6 feet, while the flag that city officials preservedmeasures 5 feet by 8 feet. The discrepancy was discovered lastmonth when the yacht owners, Shirley B. Dreifus and her husband,Spiros E. Kopelakis, borrowed the flag for an event on board the
The couple had been preparing to formally donate the flag to thecity, but when they saw that the flag was too big to be theirs,they realized a switch had occurred.
"It's a mystery," Glen T. Oxton, an attorney representing theyacht owners, told The Record for today's editions. "Who knowswhat happened to it after the firefighters put it up and thephotograph was taken? There was so much activity down there."
While officials are unaware of anyone claiming to possess theoriginal flag, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has asked cityfire officials to investigate what happened to it.
"It's just a really awkward and difficult situation," saidLark-Marie Anton, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg. "What itrepresents is really what's important."
— The Associated Press