Modern Problems


Reader Honest assures us that s/he is no conspiracy theorist, but that this story of the 9/11 air traffic controllers' taped statements seems mighty suspicious. Six controllers taped their recollections immediately after the attack, but one Kevin Delaney, a manager at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., destroyed the tape a few months later, without turning it over to authorities. A detail in the Reuters story suggests the destruction of the tape (which naturally was "of minimal value" to the 9/11 investigation) may have been a strongman stunt by Delaney that got out of hand:

[Delaney] destroyed the tape months after it was made. He crushed the single audiocassette in his hand, cut the recording strands into small pieces and threw the debris into different trash cans at the center, [Transportation Department Inspector General Kenneth] Mead said.

Mead finds Delaney and center manager Mike McCormick misconstrued an FAA directive from headquarters to save all data related to the attack, though a quotation from that directive ("If a question arises whether or not you should retain data, RETAIN IT") leads this reasonable observer to wonder what there was to misconstrue.

At the risk of searching for the inevitable Reason angle in this story, it's notable that McCormick apparently withheld the tape because he'd agreed with the air controllers union to destroy it once a transcript had been made. Tempting though it is to bring Ronald Reagan out of mothballs to crush that union all over again, the manager in fact went beyond his agreement by not even making the transcript.

But rest easy, America: McCormick is now in Iraq, working for the FAA to set up an air traffic control center.