9/11 Remembered: Al Gore’s Legacy

Posted on Fri 09/10/2010 by


By Jim Kouri, CPP.

Since he lost the 2000 presidential election, it seemed as if no day was complete without some Al Gore rant about global warming or national security or civil rights or government corruption or other issues he can use to hammer his own country.

His speeches are so filled with rage and vitriol that one almost feels like getting down on one’s knees and thanking Almighty God that this man never got into the Oval Office. Gore obviously believes that he’s staked out the moral high-ground as his own. Well, perhaps someone should remind Al Gore of a sad time in his past when he served as Vice President of the United States. You can bet the farm, the mainstream media won’t remind him.

In mid-1996, President Clinton created the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security and assigned it three specific mandates: to look at the changing security threat, and how the US could address it; to examine changes in the aviation industry, and how government should adapt its regulation of it; to look at the technological changes coming to air traffic control, and what should be done to take best advantage of them.

In the wake of concerns over the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800, President Clinton asked the commission to focus its attention first on the issue of security. He asked for an initial report on aviation security in 45 days, including an action plan to deploy new high technology machines to detect the most sophisticated explosives.

From its inception, the commission took a hands-on approach to its work. President Clinton announced the formation of the commission on July 25, 1996 and a few days later, Vice President Al Gore, commission chairman, led a site visit to Dulles International Airport where he and other commissioners saw airport and airline operations firsthand, and discussed issues with front line workers. This was the first of dozens of such visits. Over the next six months, the commission visited facilities throughout the United States and in various locations abroad.

The Gore Commission held six public meetings, hearing from over fifty witnesses representing a cross section of the aviation industry and the public, including families of victims of air disasters. Recognizing the global nature of aviation, the commission cosponsored an International Conference on Aviation Safety and Security with the George Washington University. More than 700 representatives from sixty-one countries attended.

There were a number of recommendations made the by Gore Commission, whose commissioners included family members of the victims of Flight 800. The recommendations included several measures to improve screening company performance, including a national job grade structure for screeners/security officers and meaningful measures to reward employees. It also called for airlines to hire security companies on the basis of performance, not the lowest bidder.

The Gore Commission called for criminal background and FBI fingerprint checks for all airport and airline workers who screen passengers for weapons or have access to secure areas. The airlines industry had long opposed mandatory criminal checks.

Two weeks later, as reported in the Boston Globe, Gore retreated from his own commission’s proposals in a letter to Carol B. Hallett, president of the industry’s trade group, the Air Transport Association.

”I want to make it very clear that it is not the intent of this administration or of the commission to create a hardship for the air transportation industry or to cause inconvenience to the traveling public,” Gore wrote. To reassure Hallett, Gore added that the FAA would develop ”a draft test concept … in full partnership with representatives of the airline industry.”

The day after Gore’s letter to the Air Transport Association, Trans World Airlines donated $40,000 to the Democrat National Committee. By the time of the presidential election, other airlines had poured large donations into Democrat Party committees: $265,000 from American Airlines, $120,000 from Delta Air Lines, $115,000 from United Air Lines, $87,000 from Northwest Airlines, according to an analysis done for the Boston Globe by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks donations. A total of $627,000 was donated to the Democrats by major airlines.

Two of the commission members — Victoria Cummock and Kathleen Flynn, who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack on Flight 800 — believe that campaign contributions by the airline industry were a direct result of Al Gore backing away from the commission’s security recommendations. Don’t bet on the mainstream news media reminding Al Gore of this flagrant example of homeland security taking a back-seat to campaign cash the next time they quote one of his frequent fever-pitched rants.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Jim Kouri, CPP is currently vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and a staff writer for the New Media Alliance .

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