A view of 9/11 from the 9/11 Commission’s border counsel

There are different ways to look at 9/11. I’m familiar with the reconstructions of Vice President Cheney’s actions in Washington on that day, and of President Bush as he flew around the country on that day (the only plane in the sky).

But what about the activities of the hijackers on that day, and in the months preceding that day?

All of this was examined by the 9/11 Commission. As a result of its investigation, this body made significant recommendations, some of which have only taken nearly two decades to implement, assuming they ARE implemented as (re) scheduled.

By Cleanup by Andrew_pmk (talk · contribs); straightened and cropped by Holek (talk · contribs) – http://www.9-11commission.gov/press/911report_cover_HIGHRES.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2376314

Janice Kephart was border counsel to the 9/11 Commission, and has been involved in homeland security ever since that time. She is currently CEO and Owner of Identity Strategy Partners.

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Kephart has released a documentary. As she explains, the documentary contains a wealth of information from the 9/11 Commission’s investigation of the hijackers, much of which was never officially released. Her hope:

If we are never to forget, we must educate. That is the purpose of this documentary. It is history, it is legacy, from the person who knows the details of the hijacker’s border story and has continued to live it for the past 20 years. I hope it resonates and educates.

When listening to Kephart’s documentary, keep in mind how much our world has changed since 9/11. Yes, you went through a security screening before you boarded a plane, but it was nothing like the security screenings that we’ve gotten used to in the last 20 years. Before 9/11, you could walk all the way up to the gate to send off departing passengers or greet arriving ones. And identity documents were not usually cross-checked against biometric databases to make sure that applicants were telling the truth.

I personally was not as familiar with the stories of the hijackers as I was with the stories of Bush and Cheney. The documentary provides a wealth of detail on the hijackers. (Helpful hint: don’t be afraid to pause the video when necessary. There’s a lot of visual information to absorb.)

Toward the end of the documentary, Kephart concentrates on Mohamed Atta’s return to the U.S. in January 2001, when his tourist visa had already expired and his student visa application was still pending. Kephart notes that Atta shouldn’t have been allowed back into the country, but that he was let in anyway. The details regarding Atta’s January 2001 entry are discussed in detail in a separate report (see section III.B).

(Incidentally, Atta’s student visa application wasn’t approved until July 2001, and his flight school wasn’t notified until 2002.)

Kephart wonders what might have happened if Mohamed Atta had been denied re-entry into the United States in January 2001 because of the visa irregularities. Since Atta was the ringleader and the driving force behind the attack, would the denial of entry have delayed or even terminated the 9/11 attack plans?

If you want to view the documentary, it is hosted on YouTube.

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