WASHINGTON – A new version of the Sept. 11 commission's (search) report on the four hijacked flights was released Tuesday with recently declassified information about terrorist threats and holes in airport security before the attacks.
At the request of the Sept. 11 commissioners, the Bush administration declassified much, but not all, of the material it had blacked out before turning the report over to the National Archives (search) in January.
The new version provides fresh details on the repeated warnings about Al Qaeda and its desire to attack airlines in the months before Sept. 11, 2001.
For example, on page 61 a previously classified section shows that the Federal Aviation Administration's (search) intelligence unit received "nearly 200 pieces of threat-related information daily from U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly the FBI, CIA and State Department."
Also unclassified was the conclusion that the domestic aviation system had, since 1996, "operated at a security level that was, in effect, a permanent code orange."
The new report revealed that the civil aviation system was under under "Aviation Security Alert Level III" on Sept. 11, which meant that screeners were supposed to hand wand or pat down suspicious passengers — but only those who had checked their baggage.
Other details about security gaps before the attacks were also disclosed in the revised report. It described, for example, a report for the FAA in 2001 that showed "both carry-on and metal detection screening performance has declined significantly from 1999-2000."
Airport security has been tightened since then.
Many details were revealed in the original report about what happened on the four airplanes, but at least one detail was classified and then declassified: a knife concealed in a cigarette lighter was found at the crash site of United Flight 93, the one that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Former commission chairman Thomas Kean and former vice chairman Lee Hamilton said in a statement that they appreciated the Bush administration's making the information public.
"While we still believe that the entire document could be made available to the public without damaging national security, we welcome this step forward," they said.
The Bush administration has been criticized for its secrecy. Government watchdog groups this month said that federal agencies spent a record $148 last year creating and storing new secrets for each $1 spent declassifying old secrets.