Thursday, May 06, 2004

Good evening Mr. Phelps

Recordings Contained Accounts of Communications With Hijacked Planes

[...].. Hours after the hijacked planes flew into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, an FAA manager at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center gathered six controllers who communicated or tracked two of the hijacked planes and recorded in a one-hour interview their personal accounts of what occurred, the report stated.

The manager, who is not named in the report, said that his intentions were to provide quick information to federal officials investigating the attack before the air traffic controllers involved took sick leave for the stress of their experiences, as is common practice.

According to the report, a second manager at the New York center promised a union official representing the controllers that he would "get rid of" the tape after controllers used it to provide written statements to federal officials about the events of the day.

Instead, the second manager said he destroyed the tape between December 2001 and January 2002 by crushing the tape with his hand, cutting it into small pieces and depositing the pieces into trash cans around the building, the report said.

The tape's existence was never made known to federal officials investigating the attack, nor to FAA officials in Washington. Staff members of the 9/11 panel found out about the tape during interviews with some controllers who participated in the recording.

The bold part is the most perplexing part of this story. I could understand a simple beauracratic snafu in which the manager destroys the tape as part of a union agreement (though I would think any reasonably intelligent person might wonder if that was such a smart thing to do regardless).

But why the "stake through the heart, drawn-n-quarter, burnt it and scatter to the four winds" procedure?

Even the IMF didn't have that exacting a standard for the destruction of tapes.


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