Thursday, June 10, 2004

Flight Data Recorder

Oh, you mean those Saudis…

Remember the story about the government providing flights home for high-placed Saudis right after 9/11? The White House has steadfastly denied it. But the 9/11 commission has apparently uncovered evidence that three Saudi men were flown from Tampa to Lexington, Kentucky, where they got on a plane that flew them out of the country. Here’s the story from the St. Petersburg Times:

Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with most of the nation’s air traffic still grounded, a small jet landed at Tampa International Airport, picked up three young Saudi men and left.

The men, one of them thought to be a member of the Saudi royal family, were accompanied by a former FBI agent and a former Tampa police officer on the flight to Lexington, Ky.

The Saudis then took another flight out of the country. The two ex-officers returned to TIA a few hours later on the same plane.

For nearly three years, White House, aviation and law enforcement officials have insisted the flight never took place and have denied published reports and widespread Internet speculation about its purpose.

But now, at the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, TIA officials have confirmed that the flight did take place and have supplied details.


The terrorism panel, better known as the 9/11 Commission, said in April that it knew of six chartered flights with 142 people aboard, mostly Saudis, that left the United States between Sept. 14 and 24, 2001. But it has said nothing about the Tampa flight.

The commission’s general counsel, Daniel Marcus, asked TIA in a letter dated May 25 for any information about “a chartered flight with six people, including a Saudi prince, that flew from Tampa, Florida on or about Sept. 13, 2001.” He asked for the information no later than June 8.

Thanks to TPM for the lead.