FAA ignored warnings from own expert before 9/11

From 1995 to 2001, Bogdan Dzakovic served as a team leader on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Red Team. Set up by Congress to help the FAA think like terrorists, the elite squad tested airport security systems.

 FFA Whistleblower
 Bodgan Dzakovic (USA Today Photo)

In the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Dzakovic says, the team was able to breach security about 90% of the time, sneaking bombs and submachine guns past airport screeners. Expensive new bomb detection machines consistently failed, he says.

The team repeatedly warned the FAA of the potential for security breaches and hijackings but was told to cover up its findings, Dzakovic says.

Eventually, the FAA began notifying airports in advance when the Red Team would be doing its undercover testing, Dzakovic says. He and other Red Team members approached the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, the General Accounting Office and members of Congress about the FAA’s alleged misconduct regarding the Red Team’s aviation security tests. No one did anything, he says.

Then came 9/11.

"Immediately (after 9/11), numerous government officials from FAA as well as other government agencies made defensive statements such as, ‘How could we have known this was going to happen?’ " Dzakovic testified later before the 9/11 Commission. "The truth is, they did know."

About a month after 9/11, he filed a complaint with the Office of the Special Counsel, the government agency that investigates whistle-blower cases. It alleged that the FAA had covered up Red Team findings. A subsequent Department of Transportation Inspector General’s report, ordered by the OSC in response to Dzakovic’s complaint, concluded that the "Red Team program was grossly mismanaged and that the result was a serious compromise of public safety."

After filing his complaint, Dzakovic was removed from his Red Team leadership position. He now works for the Transportation Security Administration, which has responsibility for airport security. His primary assignments include tasks such as hole-punching, updating agency phonebooks and "thumb-twiddling," he says. At least he hasn’t received a pay cut, he says. He makes about $110,000 a year for what he describes as "entry-level idiot work."

TSA spokesman Darrin Kayser would not comment on Dzakovic’s allegations that he was retaliated against for being a whistle-blower. He said in an e-mail, "While TSA transitioned functions out of FAA, many employees were doing work outside of their pre-9/11 duties. Once TSA was established, Mr. Dzakovic did find a productive position within the agency and has been a valued contributor in our efforts to provide the highest level of security in all modes of transportation."


  1. GlennK

    I worked for FAA for yrs. Security is NOT and will never be a priority. We all essentially fly at our own risk. As for the people that work for and run the FAA that’s another joke. All of them are careerists more concerned about their job security and power then the public’s safety. It’s a corrupt bunch of pencil pushers that for the most part are clueless ass kissers. They hire sub-contractors to do all the real work take credit for their work and then fire them when they get to well paid or ready for retirement.

  2. You see? “Airport security” has nothing to do with security. Even now, people are able to routinely board aircraft with pocket knives and other verboten articles in their carry-on luggage. The real purposes of “airport security” are (1) to harass passengers and make them kowtow to authority, and (2) to provide mega-contracts for “security” companies. Further, how could as many as 19 “hijackers” get through security (all on a single morning!) unless it was purposely lax? And how about the paltry amount of money that has been spent on “securing US borders”? We have seen it demonstrated that it’s easy to smuggle in even radioactive materials! “Border security” and “airport security” are a big hoax, just like 9/11 itself.

  3. Miss Grace

    Airport security is a joke. A while back, I accompanied a disabled 88-year-old relative halfway across the country. We departed from a major international airport. We were diverted into a special security screening station. My aunt, in a wheelchair, was forced to stand up and be wanded. As she stood wobbling while leaning on the wheelchair, they then demanded that she remove her shoes. When she explained that she could not bend over to comply with their request, they hassled her until she held her foot out for them to remove her shoe. Then they decided to forget the whole idea.

    In the meantime, I was standing there with our two purses, my briefcase, and a carry-on for her with medication, Depends, and so forth. They never wanded me, nor did they check any of the four carryons. Go figure.

  4. David Rosenberg

    I’m not sure that this shows the government was in on 9/11. Since 9/11 is the problem at hand. If the same things are happening at the same high rate, is what we should be worried about. We’ve seen and heard of instances where banned items have gotten through but, never heard anything the likes of what happened to Mr. Dzakovic.