WASHINGTON, July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) is designating many documents as Sensitive Security
Information (SSI) not to protect national security but rather to hide
negligence, incompetence and potential liability, former Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) Special Agent Brian Sullivan charged today.
Sullivan, who warned in May 2001 of the risk of multiple hijackings
starting from Boston Logan Airport, joined with the 9/11 Families United to
Bankrupt Terrorism in urging the U.S. Senate to enact language in the House
DHS Appropriations bill that would end TSA's abuses and ensure that only
truly sensitive documents are labeled SSI.
"I know from first-hand experience that roughly 95 percent of the
materials that are labeled SSI have no national security value and should
be released to help the American people arm ourselves against future
terrorist attacks," Sullivan said.
"There are only three explanations for why TSA wrongly labels so much
information as SSI," Sullivan explained. "The first is that TSA is too
understaffed or too lazy to go through each document and redact the one or
two paragraphs that are truly sensitive, so they place the entire piece off
limits. The second is that TSA still has not put in place uniform
guidelines, policies and procedures for making SSI designations. The third
is that TSA is acting to protect the old FAA, the airlines and the
screening companies from legal liability, a possibility that was brought
into sharp relief when TSA attorney Carla Martin's alleged collusion with
aviation industry attorneys was exposed during the Zacarias Moussaoui
"Brian Sullivan was on the inside of the SSI process and his testimony
and support proves that our mission of revealing the truth about how and
why our loved ones died is not only right, but in the interest of our
national security," said William Doyle of Staten Island N.Y., whose
25-year-old son Joseph died at the World Trade Center.
"This man is a truth-teller who warned about 9/11 in advance and told
the FAA how vulnerable security was at Logan Airport," Doyle said. "Anyone
who fails to listen to his view that it will strengthen our security for
Congress to bring TSA under control would be making the same mistake the
FAA did in the spring and summer of 2001."
Sullivan was special agent and risk management specialist for the FAA
in New England, where he analyzed the security vulnerabilities of airports
and aviation facilities in the region. He also served as the security
control point for New England and, in this capacity, received and
controlled the flow of secret information, including SSI. Sullivan retired
in January 2001.
"It is critical to understand that SSI is not classified information --
it is a designation for lower-level 'proprietary information,'" Sullivan
said. "Ironically, all classified materials must be reviewed after a
designated period of time to see if they can be released. Yet the far less
sensitive SSI materials are subject to no such review. All Section 525 of
the House DHS Appropriations Bill would do is apply the same process to SSI
-- have the documents reviewed after three years to see if their release
would pose no security threat."
Sullivan cited two specific examples of wrongly-designated SSI
documents. The first was the Checkpoint Operations Guide (COG) in place on
September 11, 2001. "TSA changed its airport checkpoint procedures,"
Sullivan asked, "so why did it stubbornly resist the COG release for four
years before finally relenting?"
The second document Sullivan cited was the staff monograph on aviation
security that was part of the 9/11 Commission Report. When it was first
released, TSA blacked out more than 50 percent of the monograph as SSI.
Under pressure from the 9/11 families, TSA released another third of the
document. Under further pressure, TSA reduced its redactions to just 2
percent of the monograph. "When you look at the pages TSA originally
blacked out and finally released, it becomes obvious the only reason this
material was first denied to the public was because it was embarrassing to
the FAA and the airlines," Sullivan said.
"This is inexcusable," he charged. "It was my job to protect national
security secrets and the last thing I would ever want is for this
information to get out. But it is equally offensive to hide information
that is no threat to national security just because it would invite public
scrutiny or subject large corporations to legal liability. The public has
the right to know so we can protect ourselves in the future. After five
years of TSA intransigence, it's time to make this happen."
The provision Sullivan and the 9/11 Families urge the Senate to pass,
Section 525 of the House DHS Appropriations bill, would require TSA to:
* Release all information that is more than three years old and not
incorporated in a current, active transportation security directive or
plan unless TSA demonstrates a compelling reason why it would present a
risk of harm to the nation;
* Standardize and justify its practices for classifying documents as
* Turn over documents requested by a judge in a legal proceeding unless
TSA demonstrates a compelling reason why it would present a risk of harm
to the nation.
Language in the DHS Appropriations Bill reported out of the Senate
Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, would impose no such
requirements, instead giving TSA 120 days to report to Congress on the
progress it has made implementing provisions in last year's appropriations
bill requiring it to fix the SSI process. "No one needs another 120 days to
get the job done," Sullivan said. "Congress should hold TSA accountable
The 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism represents more than
6,000 survivors and family members of those who died in the September 11,
2001, terrorist attacks. The 9/11 Families seek to hold al Qaeda's
financiers accountable for their central role in these atrocities and to
make America safer by cutting off the financial pipeline fueling global
SOURCE 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism