Why is Jane Garvey on Obama’s Radar
February 6, 200
It’s no surprise that President Obama and his crack vetting team are
considering Randy Babbitt as the next head of the Federal Aviation
Administration. After all, Mr. Babbitt is former head of the country’s
largest union representing airline pilots, and we know how near and dear
to Mr. Obama’s heart unions are.
"The choice, if it goes through as anticipated,”
writes the Wall St. Journal’s Andy Paszfor (who reports on the FAA),
"would satisfy labor leaders who have been urging the appointment of
someone to the FAA sympathetic to their views. Babbitt has labor
connections going back to the labor-management struggles at Eastern
Airlines before the carrier folded decades ago,”
Who suggested Babbitt to the Obama administration? Why none other than
Jane Garvey, the former chief of the FAA, who, Mr. Paszfor said, is now
likely "to get the No. 2 job at the Department of Transportation.”
To understand what a horrible – indeed, dangerous – choice Ms. Garvey
would be in the sensitive position of insuring the safety of Americans’
land and air travel, a little history is in order.
Four months before Sept. 11, 2001, recently retired Brian Sullivan, a
former risk-management specialist (for over 10 years) in charge of
physical security of air-traffic control towers and air-route traffic
control facilities in New England, was so concerned about the lax
security at Logan Airport that he wrote a letter to Sen. Kerry (D-MA),
warning him of the potential for a terrorist disaster at the airport.
His letter held these prophetic words: "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? Think what the
result would be of a coordinated attack that took down several domestic
flights on the same day. With our current screening, this is more than
possible. It is almost likely.”
Sullivan followed up by sending Kerry a videotape that showed the ease
with which undercover reporters had successfully penetrated Logan’s
security screening 10 times with potentially deadly weapons.
For three months, Kerry did nothing with the information, finally
sending it to the one agency – the Department of Transportation’s Office
of the Inspector General: DOT OIG – that Sullivan had specifically told
him had been consistently remiss in taking action after such warnings.
Two of the four planes that attacked our nation on September 11th
took off from Logan Airport and 80 of Kerry’s constituents died. Yet
Kerry, who held evidence in his hands of Logan’s vulnerabilities, took
no action – when his action may well have prevented the horrors of that
Significantly, Sullivan also filed a complaint with the Hotline of the
Federal Aviation Administration’s chief administrator Jane Garvey (a
Clinton holdover) and had the incriminating videotape delivered to her
Who Is Jane Garvey?
In the mid-‘90s, Garvey was the former top administrator at Logan
Airport, where it was no secret that the airport’s security system was
riddled with problems. Strangely, however, the unremarkable job she did
at Logan was thought worthy of reward by the Clinton administration.
In a gesture that served to affirm the validity of the Peter Principle –
in which people are promoted until they reach their ultimate level of
incompetence – Clinton appointed Garvey to be director of the FAA in
During her tenure, Sullivan said, "FAA security personnel were placed in
key management positions despite their limited experience in air
security and their apparent ideological aversion to prescreen
high-suspect people”: i.e., Arab males from the Middle East between the
ages of 20-40.
Two years after Garvey took the helm, the FAA fined the Massachusetts
Port Authority $178,000 for 136 security violations at Logan that
included failure to screen baggage properly and allowing easy access to
restricted areas and parked planes. On one occasion, a 17-year-old man
cut the razor wire on a perimeter fence surrounding Logan and walked for
two miles across restricted areas, finally stowing away on a British
Airways Boeing 747.
Did Garvey’s FAA follow up on those fines? No. In the criminal
indictment she never received, surely Exhibit A would have been
It is public knowledge that during the spring and summer of 2001,
Garvey’s FAA sent out a CD-ROM of potential terrorist threats prepared
by her security chief, Mike Canavan, to 700 airlines and airport
executives. The FAA also had extensive data about Al Qaida and bin Laden
in its Criminal Acts Against Civil Aviation Reports for 1999 and 2000.
▪ In a May 1998 interview, Bin Ladin suggested that he could use a
shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile to shoot down a military passenger
aircraft transporting U.S. military personnel, adding that his attacks
would not distinguish between U.S. civilians and military personnel...
an exiled Islamic leader in the United Kingdom proclaimed in August 1998
that Bin Ladin would "bring down an airliner or hijack an airliner to
humiliate the United States.”
▪ Ramzi Yousef masterminded the 1994 conspiracy to place explosive
devices on as many as 12 U.S. airliners flying out of the Far East. In
September 1996, Yousef was convicted for this plan and for placing a
device on a Philippine Airlines plane in December 1994 as a test for his
more elaborate scheme. Although Yousef is currently in prison, at least
one other accused participant in the conspiracy remains at large. There
are concerns that this individual or others of Yousef’s ilk who may
possess similar skills pose a continuing threat to civil aviation
▪ The terrorist threat remains. The most recent significant
aviation-related terrorist action was the December 1999 hijacking of an
Indian Airlines plane by members of a Kashmiri separatist group. There
continues to be concern that the hijacking may either be copied or spur
others to commit acts because this incident succeeded in gaining the
release of prisoners and the hijackers have never been caught. Another
threat is attributed to terrorist financier Usama Bin Laden...[who] has
both the motivation and the wherewithal to do so.
But when I-don’t-know-nuthin’ Garvey testified before the 9/11
Commission, she claimed ignorance of any threats – saying that she
hadn’t seen the CD-ROM until after September 11!
The 9/11 Commission didn’t believe her. On page 83, its report states:
"... the FAA's intelligence unit did not receive much attention from the
agency's leadership. Neither Administrator Jane Garvey nor her deputy
routinely reviewed daily intelligence, and what they did see was
screened for them. She was unaware of a great amount of hijacking threat
information from her own intelligence unit, which, in turn, was not
deeply involved in the agency's policymaking process. Historically,
decisive security action took place only after (my emphasis) a
disaster had occurred or a specific plot had been discovered."
Further, according to Kevin Berger of Salon.com, commenting on reaction
to the 9/11 Commission’s Report: "But all of the international intrigue,
not to mention partisan sniping over what president or government agency
was at fault, has deflected attention from the one culprit that gets a
universal thrashing in the 9/11 report: the Federal Aviation
Administration.” Translation: Jane Garvey!.
Berger documented the 9/11 Commission’s findings of the grievous
failings of the FAA under Garvey:
▪ Each layer of the FAA that was relevant to hijackings – intelligence,
passenger prescreening, checkpoint screening, and onboard security – was
▪ Although government watch lists contained the names of tens of
thousands of known terrorists, including a State Department TIP-OFF list
with 60,000 names, the FAA's own "no-fly" list contained names of just
12 terrorist suspects.
▪ At Logan’s check-in counters, airline clerks tagged four of the five
hijackers on American Flight 11 (the first jet to hit the World Trade
Center) as suspect, yet they were allowed to board the plane.
▪ Two of the hijackers on American Flight 77 from Dulles, which crashed
into the Pentagon, set off the security gate alarm but the screeners
didn't bother to investigate further and, again, allowed the hijackers
to board the plane.
▪ And most damning, Jane Garvey did not review daily intelligence and so
was "unaware of a great amount of hijacking threat information from her
own intelligence unit."
It was also under Garvey that the then-Computer Assisted Passenger
Profiling System, or CAPPS I was neutered. After 9/11, the program
was renamed the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System,
or CAPPs II, because, according to Sullivan, "of overzealous liberals,
the American Civil Liberties Union and the diversity crowd who are
hell-bent on insuring that political correctness is always implemented
at the expense of our basic security.”
And Sullivan cites additional flaws in Garvey’s FAA, all of them
omitted from the 9/11 Commission’s report. For instance:
▪ A memo dated April 2001 from Joe Lawless, director of security at the
Massachusetts Port Authority, citing terrorist ties to Logan Airport and
the need to address the airport’s known vulnerabilities.
▪ The rejection of another Lawless memo by the Logan Airline Managers
Council (LAMCO) and the FAA's federal security manager at Logan,
proposing that the Mass. State Police begin undercover testing of
screening checkpoints in July '01.
▪ Reported sightings of Mohammed Atta at Logan in May and early
September '01, involved in suspicious activity on the Air Operations
Area and surveillance of checkpoints.
Yet all this is not where Garvey’s egregious mismanagement of the FAA
ends. According to NY Times reporter Matthew L. Wald, Garvey ignored
both past incidents and those under her watch, including:
▪ 1994: The hijacking of two jetliners (one by an Islamic "militant”
group) with the intent of "crashing them into buildings.”
▪ 1994: A man stormed the cockpit of a domestic flight with the
intention, according to his fellow employees, of crashing the plane into
a building in Memphis.
▪ 1994: A lone pilot crashed a stolen single-engine Cessna into a tree
on the White House grounds near the president's bedroom.
▪ 1996: The crash of T.W.A. Flight 800, which to this day many people
believe was a terrorist attack.
▪ 1999: A report of an exiled Islamic leader in Britain who said in
August 1998 that bin Laden would ''bring down an airliner or hijack an
airliner to humiliate the United States.''
▪ 2000: The FAA’s annual report saying that although Osama bin Laden
''is not known to have attacked civil aviation, he has both the
motivation and the wherewithal to do so...bin Laden's anti-Western and
anti-American attitudes make him and his followers a significant threat
to civil aviation, particularly to U.S. civil aviation.”
"But aviation security officials,” Wald said, "never extrapolated any
sort of pattern from those incidents.” That includes the top
official – the FAA’s Jane Garvey.
Yet in spite of mountains of evidence pointing to Garvey’s complete
incompetence, and in spite of the all the security experts in the United
States – which include former or active police chiefs, retired FBI and
CIA operatives and private companies that spend 24/7/365 assessing
threats and formulating "coping” strategies – Kerry chose Garvey as an
"expert” consultant in charge of security for the 2004 Democratic
That’s right, Jane Garvey, who was singled out by the "we won’t point
fingers” 9/11 Commission as taking action "only after a disaster
had occurred ...” and whose FAA got "a universal thrashing” in the
A commentary in Aviation Insight & Perspectives said that: "Appointing
Garvey head of convention security is like making John Gotti the head of
Sadly, according to Brian Sullivan, "one single recommendation from the
Gore Commission in 1997 to harden cockpit doors and enforce rules to
keep them closed would have stopped the 9/11 attack cold. If the FAA’s
Garvey and DOT’s chief Norman Mineta hadn’t been asleep at the wheel,
9/11 wouldn't have happened, plain and simple.”
But it did happen and now we’re left to ponder how on earth the Obama
administration could be considering Garvey for the No. 2 spot at the
After less than three weeks in office, the woefully inexperienced Mr.
Obama has offered our country the services of three tax cheats (Geithner,
Daschle, and Killefer), a man under criminal investigation (Richardson),
and a host of leftist policymakers that would do the Marxist-Leninist
possible appointment of the incompetent Jane Garvey to the deputy’s job
at the DOT – which has oversight of the FAA – should be the last
straw for Americans of every political stripe, or at least those who
care about the still-looming terrorist threat and their own safety on
our roads and rails, and in the skies.