An LA Times columnist, Robert Sheer, comments on the release of the 9/11 Commission Staff Report. However, instead of actually reading the Staff Report, Sheer appears only to have read the NY Times article about it, which was biased against the FAA (and thus, in the context of 9/11, pro-NORAD). This despite him having noted: "For the last three years, administration apologists have tried to make the FAA the scapegoat for the 9/11 attacks." Sheer, unfortunately, helps perpetuate the scapegoating, even though his primary target seems to be Condi Rice.
According to Sheer:
The warnings provided by intelligence agencies to the FAA were far clearer and more specific than suggested by Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission when she reluctantly conceded the existence of a presidential briefing that warned of impending Al Qaeda attacks. Rice had dismissed those warnings as "historical," but according to the newly released section of the 9/11 report, an astonishing 52 of the 105 daily intelligence briefings received by the FAA -- and available to Rice -- before the Sept. 11 attacks made specific reference to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Condi Rice, of course, used "historical" to refer to the president's daily briefings (especially the 6th August, 2001 PDB), not to the FAA's daily intelligence briefings. And the 105 briefings were not received by the FAA - they were generated, and disseminated, by the FAA's own security branch.
One of the FAA's liaisons to the intelligence committee told the Commission that he sensed, particularly in June and July 2001, that "something was going to happen" that summer. Most of the community, he said, was looking for the event to occur abroad.
Much of this threat information was contained in the daily intelligence summaries produced by FAA's security branch for the agency's leaders. The summaries were based on reporting it received from the US intelligence community and other sources. Among the 105 summaries issued between April 1, 2001, and September 10, 2001, almost half mentioned Bin Ladin, al Qaeda, or both, mostly in regard to overseas threats.
Of the 52 summaries mentioning Bin Ladin or al Qaeda, 5 mentioned hijacking a a capability al Qaeda was training for or possessed. Two mentioned suicide operations, but not connected to a threat to aviation. One of the summaries, which will be discussed later, mentioned air defense measures being undertaken in Genoa, Italy, for the G-8 summit to protect the event from possible air attack by terrorists (including their use of an explosives-laden aircraft as a weapon. [p.55, 9/11 Commission Staff Report]
So the FAA was pretty clued up about the gathering threat, even if, with hindsight, it didn't adequately raise security levels. But what was NORAD doing over the same period, when the intelligence "system was blinking red", to ensure that its systems were prepared for a Genoa-type event?