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NORAD Subpoenaed by Sept. 11 Commission


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By Thomas Frank
WASHINGTON BUREAU

November 8, 2003

Washington - The independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks took legal action against a second federal agency Friday, issuing a subpoena for documents from the military agency that protects U.S. airspace.

The commission said it was "dismayed" at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, for not turning over documents concerning its response on Sept. 11, 2001, to the hijackings.

Commission investigators found, after being assured that NORAD had released all documents, that "a significant quantity of materials ... had not been turned over," commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste said. He said the "failure to comply" has delayed the commission, which has until May to issue a congressionally mandated report on what allowed the attacks to happen and to recommend changes.

Friday's subpoena, combined with one issued three weeks ago to the Federal Aviation Administration, suggests an ongoing dispute about what happened the morning of Sept. 11. NORAD has said it was not notified of the hijackings until nearly half an hour after the first one occurred. The FAA has said it gave informal notice throughout the morning.

"If we're going to improve our air defenses in the future, we have to understand who dropped the ball here and what new procedures need to be put in place to prevent this from happening again," said Stephen Push of Virginia, whose wife was killed in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

Commission chairman Thomas Kean recently threatened to subpoena highly classified White House intelligence documents being withheld.

NORAD had no immediate response Friday.

Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc. |  Article licensing and reprint options


 

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