Were National Security Issues At Stake?
National security... or
That is but one of the questions being asked in the wake of news
that the North American air defense command ordered the removal of
online transcripts of a public meeting on the Washington DC ADIZ
earlier this year.
The meeting, held January 18 at the Airport Marriott in Dulles,
VA, solicited public comments on the ADIZ's impact on area
businesses. The FAA made a transcript of the meeting available
shortly thereafter -- until Major General M. Scott Mayes, the head
of NORAD, ordered an internal review that flagged the transcript as
"problematic", according to CNET News, which led to its deletion
from the FAA site.
Comments made by one pilot at that meeting, in particular,
likely led to the move. Lt. Cmdr. Tom Bush, a Navy F-18 Hornet
pilot who also flies GA and who testified at the meeting as a
private pilot, pointed out how ineffectual the ADIZ actually is to
defending national security.
CNET reports that in his speech before the meeting, Bush
suggested the airspace restriction serves no purpose as a terrorist
could receive clearance to fly through the ADIZ towards Dulles
airport, then make a last-minute turn and be over downtown
Washington, DC inside of four minutes -- not nearly enough time to
scramble an F-16 to the scene.
"Freedom and security are polar opposites, and I am not willing
to give up my freedom for the sake of terrorists," Bush reportedly
said during the hearing, as reported by an aviation website.
Another pilot who was at the meeting told CNET that Bush also
reportedly commented that Americans defeated the British, tamed the
West, won two World Wars, put a man on the moon -- and, they should
start acting like it.
That didn't sit well with defense officials.
"There may be some operational security concerns with the time
line he laid out," NORAD media relations chief Michael Kucharek
"There were some operational security concerns revealed by this
person who had knowledge but appeared as a public citizen, which we
think was out of line. The disclosure of that information could go
directly to national security concerns."
As a result of the NORAD inquest, all 369-pages of the
transcript have been replaced on the FAA website with messages
saying it is "presently unavailable" for download -- per the FAA's
request, it should be noted. (check for yourself here and here.)
In the wake of the transcript's removal, many are questioning
whether is latest incident of government censorship is truly over
national security concerns -- or if it's flagrant overreaction.
Many pilots noted representatives of several government entities,
including NORAD, sat on the advisory board during the ADIZ meeting
-- and stayed silent.
"The fact that TSA is
an out of control dysfunctional agency is a given, so it may be
just another example of their ongoing buffoonery," College Park
Airport manager Lee Schiek (pictured right) wrote in an e-mail
message to CNET. "On the other hand, this could be an attempt to
rewrite history to minimize the public record sentiment regarding
"In any event, since its inception, TSA has consistently
demonstrated their inability to do the right thing, and this latest
example should not go unchallenged," Schiek added.
Of course, this isn't the first time the Bush administration --
and those working under it -- have pulled information from the
public ostensibly over security concerns. In 2003, the US Army
pulled the plug on one of its Web sites after a report embarrassing
to the military appeared on it.
For its part in the affair, the FAA said Thursday the transcript
may be restored on the FAA site soon.
The transcript is currently being reviewed, "and no final
decisions have been made," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said. "I
think that you'll see virtually all of that reposted fairly
Which may mean... Tom Bush who?