NORAD tells FAA to pull public transcript of ADIZ meeting

The FAA has yanked the transcript of a Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) public meeting from the Web, after being ordered to do so by the Department of Defense and security officials.

AOPA promptly filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get the information back in public view. “These were public meetings covered by the news media,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “Nothing was said that wasn’t already in the more than 21,000 written comments. Do they honestly think security information was disclosed during the public meetings?”

Apparently they do.

FAA officials say they were ordered to remove the transcript of the first of two Jan. 12 meetings from public record so Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Defense Department officials could delete any security-sensitive information. The FAA never posted its transcript of the two Jan. 18 meetings

One wonders what the fuss, initiated by the North American Air Defense (NORAD) command, is all about. Those who attended the meetings say that security and FAA officials sat silently through the meetings, revealing nothing.

The only thing those who have read the transcript can imagine might have rattled NORAD’s nerves is a comment by a Navy F/A-18 pilot, who spoke as a private citizen. Lt. Commander Tom Bush pointed out that a pilot could comply with all ADIZ security procedures, set up an approach to Dulles International Airport, then turn and be over downtown Washington within four minutes.

Administrative procedures do not ensure security, he said. “Freedom and security are polar opposites, and I am not willing to give up my freedom for the sake of terrorists,” the combat-experienced Naval Aviator said.

Apparently NORAD thinks he said more than he should have, although pilots at airports just outside the ADIZ frequently say much the same thing and many of the 20,000-plus written comments sent to the FAA stated it pointedly.

NORAD media relations chief Michael Kuchaerk claims that NORAD has no problem with the pilot speaking as a private citizen, but “We want to make sure he didn’t reveal any operational security information.”

In a memo to the FAA, Maj. Gen. M. Scott Mayes, commander of the Continental NORAD region, insisted that Bush’s statement be removed from the public record until NORAD had a chance to do a security and policy review.

The FAA says the transcripts can be made public again when the TSA had completed its review. TSA says that its review is finished and nothing sensitive was found but, as of March 13, the transcript remained out of sight.

The shape of things to come?

While the ADIZ isn’t likely to go away, despite its proven uselessness, it may morph into a more practical shape.

Several sources tell us that the powers that be – mostly those in the security services – are considering a more-or-less round ADIZ rather than the current appropriately-shaped but very error-prone outline, which looks like Mickey Mouse ears. The fear is that the ADIZ will grow larger, not smaller, in keeping with Secret Service and Homeland Security mentality. Any new shape is likely to encompass airports now outside its rim.

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