March 9, 2006 6:46 PM PST

NORAD orders Web deletion of transcript

In an unusual follow-up to a public event, the Defense Department has ordered that a transcript of an open hearing on aviation restrictions be yanked from the Web.

Maj. Gen. M. Scott Mayes, the head of the North American air defense command, ordered the internal review that flagged the hearing's transcript as problematic and led to its deletion from a government Web site, CNET has learned.

The public hearing was held Jan. 18 at the Airport Marriott in Dulles, Va., and was discussed in local news reports. Its purpose was to ask for public opinions about recent airspace security restrictions near the nation's capital, which have cost local businesses some $45 million a year in lost revenue and have even prompted some general aviation pilots to move elsewhere.

One of the pilots who testified was Lt. Cmdr. Tom Bush, a U.S. Navy F-18 Hornet pilot who also flies a small civilian plane and said he was speaking as a private individual.

"Freedom and security are polar opposites, and I am not willing to give up my freedom for the sake of terrorists," Bush said during the hearing, according to a report at

The report also said Bush suggested the airspace restrictions were irrational because a terrorist could pretend to fly through the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) to nearby Dulles airport, make a right-hand turn at the last minute, and be over downtown Washington, D.C., in four minutes. The ADIZ is a ring stretching almost 40 miles around Washington, D.C.

Maj. Gen. M. Scott Mayes Maj. Gen. M. Scott Mayes

"There may be some operational security concerns with the time line he laid out," Michael Kucharek, the chief of media relations for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Kucharek said that "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."

The Bush administration has been criticized in the past by open government advocates for its aggressive efforts to avoid the disclosure of information that historically has been public. In 2003, the U.S. Army surreptitiously pulled the plug on one of its more popular Web sites after a report embarrassing to the military appeared on it. In another example, the names of the members of the Defense Science Board--an obscure but influential advisory body that influences military policy and had a budget of $3.6 million a year--have vanished from the group's public Web site.

A representative for the Transportation Security Administration said Friday that the agency received a letter from the Defense Department requesting a review of the transcript and that process is continuing.

The 369-page transcript of the event (part 1 and part 2), previously posted on the Federal Aviation Administration's Web site, has been replaced with a notice saying it is "presently unavailable."

Lt. Cmdr. Bush could not be reached for comment. One pilot who was at the hearing reported that Bush said that Americans kicked out the British, tamed the West, won two World Wars, put a man on the moon--and should start acting like it.

Some pilots expressed skepticism that Bush disclosed anything sensitive and suggested that the deletion was because he criticized the government's security apparatus. Representatives from NORAD, TSA, FAA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service, and Customs and Border Protection were on the panel hearing testimony and remained silent during Bush's testimony.

"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," Lee Schiek, the manager of Maryland's College Park Airport, wrote in an e-mail message on Thursday. "On the other hand, this could be an attempt to rewrite history to minimize the public record sentiment regarding the ADIZ. 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."

Amy von Walter, a representative for the TSA, said Friday that the review of Bush's comments for so-called Sensitive Security Information was complete. "We did a review of the testimony to make sure there was no SSI contained," von Walter said. "We did not find any."

Von Walter said TSA had not demanded the removal of the information, and that the Defense Department had. After TSA completes its review of the remainder of the transcript, she said, all or some of it will be reposted.

The ADIZ is opposed by general aviation pilots--that is, pilots who fly smaller aircraft such as a Cessna, Mooney or Piper--because it imposes strict security rules that increase bureaucracy and can overload air traffic controllers.

It was created as a supposedly temporary measure after Sept. 11, 2001, but the Bush administration has suggested that it become permanent. More than 21,300 comments, almost entirely critical of the ADIZ, were filed in the FAA proceeding that led to January's public hearing in Virginia.

Many comments said that a terrorist could easily defeat the purpose of the ADIZ by filing the paperwork, talking to air traffic controllers, and then turning toward Washington, D.C., at the last moment. Others said it was odd to worry about general aviation aircraft that typically have two to six seats and can carry less than most SUVs.

The FAA said Thursday the transcript might be restored soon. It is 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 quickly."

See more CNET content tagged:
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Government Secrecy in Meetings a Problem
The only government worth having at any level is completely open, transparent government. Here in Florida we used to have a concept called Government in the Sunshine, that legally required a high level of transparency in government dealings. Needless to say, when the Republicans took control of the state government, and especially after a guy named Bush became governor, the whole concept was progressively undermined. These are ultra-authoritarians who believe that once you get your hands on power, you become accountable to no one.
Posted by steven.randolph (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What a load of BS
Yes, it's clear you think Republicans are Nazis. What a bunch of crap. So Lincoln was such an evil guy, so were all that followed according to you. You are clearly irrational and reactionary which means nothing you say can be taken seriously. I'm sure you think the Democrats are angels, like the Kennedy's or the Clintons? Please give us a break.

As far as this article I think it's written with an agenda. Open societies are not completely open and never have been. Current levels of communication are a double edge sword. It's not like we Americans can have a conversation about something and the enemy isn't going to see it. Don't be stupid and don't tell them how to attack us. Seriously, how ignorant can people be!?

And it sounds like the hearing is mostly about self interest. Pilots don't want to have to make the extra effort and feel they are loosing business and that's all they care about, not about the country as a whole.
Posted by kxmmxk (320 comments )
Link Flag
*Government* secrecy is the problem
*Government* secrecy is the problem, and it's not all Republican. Here in San Jose, CA, there's been a lot of talk about sunshine laws too, because of the repeated problems with corruption in local politics. Only here, it's all Democrats. The problem is if you don't hold politicians accountable, Republicans and Democrats both, they become corrupt. So try voting third party for a change, if for no other reason than to strike a little fear in both Republicans and Democrats elected to office. ...Keeps them honest.

As for the story, come on. You really think terrorists are morons? They don't need to have you or anyone else tell them that all they have to do is make a right turn and they'll be over Washington DC. It's *obvious*.

The interesting thing though, is that it appears that a significant portion of our national security efforts have involved the erosion of our rights, while few have dealt with the obvious vulnerabilities. After all, you can still cross the borders at will, carrying anything you want, without identifying yourself - millions do every year. Your safety is raw and exposed because your politicians prefer to curry favor with certain ethnic groups over keeping you safe. The NAFTA provision allowing Mexican trucks to cross the border without the safety requirements of US trucks and without any inspection whatsoever continues. You can still ship containers from foreign countries to the US without worrying about them being exposed to any effective inspection. So, really now, there is no security, and there is no interest on the part of our government to get us there - it's been five years, after all.

All of this is because the war on terror the government is talking about is one that's being fought in the media only, so the government can lull us into complacency and stupidity.

Meanwhile, I remember laughing once when I was at the airport and the security folks broke off the tiny one inch nail file that was attached to my nail clippers. I then got on board the plane and was handed... a steel fork and *knife* to eat my meal.

So a little visibility is a good thing. It lets our politicians know that we aren't all idiots, and we aren't all fooled by asinine regulations that make no sense.

A little side note: You know that you have to identify yourself before you get on a plane, right? Did you know that you're not allowed to see the laws requiring you to do so? That's right, all those airport regulations requiring you to forfeit your rights are a secret. Shhhh. Meanwhile, answer me this: if you're flying domestically, how does providing identification help with security? You're already searched and X-rayed, so what security benefit is provided by showing identification? Umm, none? Check out <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> for an interesting article.
Posted by airbns (32 comments )
Link Flag
Declan rises to a new height of arrogance in writing how to successfully attack Washington, DC. My wife just said he should be arrested. Personally, I liked reading the article and I'm sure it was also enjoyed by those guys planning to fly into the White House.

TO CNET...This is really stupid and shame on you.
Posted by mosshaven (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
He said nothing that wasn't obvious
As a guy who has landed at Reagan National Airport hundreds of times, it is painfully obvious that the White House is mere seconds from the approach path to National. Any regular traveler to DCA knows that by the time the tower was trying to figure out what was going on, a light plane could be at the White House. It's not like we're going to put a missile battery up in the Rose Garden, nor are we about to shoot down aircraft merely because they've strayed from a path for 60 seconds. Mr. Moss is mistaken in supposing that this article reveals something that anyone wouldn't be able to discover by inspection.
Posted by mminasi (3 comments )
Link Flag
Please tell me you are joking.
No one is this stupid. Well I take that back no one who didn't vote for the Shrub is that stupid. What was stated in the article is pure unfiltered common sense. Something missing from an apparent majority of Americans these days. Which is why the suggestion that OMG OMG! You've let the terrorists know!!!11oneoneeleventy!||i
Would you suggest that we now implement a new Shhhh policy? The don't talk about it and it might not happen defense. Moron.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Link Flag
"harms national security?"
How amusing! You must not have read these two paragraphs that were added to the article:

Amy von Walter, a representative for the TSA, said Friday that the review of Bush's comments for so-called Sensitive Security Information was complete. "We did a review of the testimony to make sure there was no SSI contained," von Walter said. "We did not find any."

Von Walter said TSA had not demanded the removal of the information, and that the Defense Department had. After TSA completes its review of the remainder of the transcript, she said, all or some of it will be reposted.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
This story has the feel of the Ministry Of Truth in Orwell's 1984. The AdminCastration is forever morphing reality to fit their own agenda. Real terror, like the SUV driving, pedestrian mowing, Koran toting Chapel Hill student is conveniently ignored. So was the Mosque attending OK student outside the OK stadium who blew himself up prematurely. According to Minitrue, we have had no domestic terror incidents since 911. It must be true. Because they say so.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pardon Me for Being A Bit Symantical
Not sure what you're trying to say there, Keith, but I'd like to offer one small clarification: What happened on Sept 11th was not a case of domestic terrorism.

mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Link Flag
NORAD's order for deletion
Any pilot used to reading a chart, terrorist or not, can compute distances and the time required to travel it. If you're passing close to the Capitol, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how long it would take from a given point to get to a given target. The ADIZ around the Capitol is a buracratic feel good not founded in reality. One of our Supervisors had a saying..."ignorance is correctable...stupid is forever". I find that often the explanation for many of the edicts from Washington agencies.
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Or maybe not
"One pilot who was at the hearing reported that Bush said that Americans kicked out the British, tamed the West, won two World Wars, put a man on the moon--and should start acting like it."

Or maybe they should not start acting as if this were true, since it's not. The French did a lot of the heavy lifting in the Revolutionary war on land, and all of it at sea. The US played at best a supoporting role in WWI, and although the US ended up on the winning side in WWII, the British, Canadians and especially Russians made crucial contributions that the US has now almost airbrushed out of its own retelling of history. Even the Moon shots relied heavily on German technology.

There is a cost to fictionalising your own history and refusing to acknowledge your debt to others. The cost is the risk of believing yourself to be invincible, and as a result taking on battles you can't win. Korea, VietNam and now Iraq come to mind.
Posted by njlivesey (1 comment )
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Meeting Content Still Available Here ...
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
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