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What is the evidence that the hijackers used "box-cutters" and "plastic knives"?
Edward Jay Epstein (website) ^ | 3 June 2002 | Edward Jay Epstein

Posted on 06/03/2002 1:07:58 PM PDT by Kermit


In response to questions about the advance warning President Bush received from the CIA concerning a possible hijacking plot, his press spokesman Ari Fleischer (identified by the New York Times as the anonymous “senior administration official) replied in his daily press briefing on May 15th, 2002: "The administration, based on hijackings, notified the appropriate agencies and, I think, that's one of the reasons that you saw that the people who committed the 9-11 attacks used box cutters and plastic knives to get around America's system of protecting against hijackings."

What is the evidence that the hijackers who took over the Boeing 767s that crashed into the World Trade Center “used box cutters and plastic knives?”


There is zero evidence of box-cutters on either plane that hit the World Trade Center. Not a single flight crew member or passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 or United Airlines Flight 175 reported seeing box-cutters or plastics knives. Nor were they mentioned in the FAA executive summary on any of the hijacked plane.(LINK FAA MEMO.) Only on American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon, was there a near-mention by one passenger that the hijackers in the back of the plane had knives and "card-board cutters," and even that passenger to claim to see what weapons were actually used to hijack the plane. The claim by administration officials that plastic knives were used to hijack the planes is pure invention. (See Fictoid #9)

Since unlike guns, metal knives and bombs, it was legal for airline passengers on September 11th 2001 to carry aboard box-cutters and plastic knives, the claim that they used such devices to commandeer the planes that destroyed the World Trade Center is a functional fictoid. Not only does it serve to shield the airlines, airports and airport screeners from massive liability from the victims at the World Trade Center, it protects the Bush Administration by diverting attention away from concern that airport security at three Federally-supervised airports was dangerously lax.

Collateral Question:

Since CBS News quoted press briefer Ari Fleischer verbatim, why did the New York Times identify him anonymously as a “senior administration spokesman?

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 911; boxcutters; conspiracy
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I'm not a fan of Edward Jay Epstein, but if he's correct here, I for one have been taken in. And I don't like being had. I thought there was good reporting on what the hijackers used for weapons. We do know they killed stewardesses, pilots and maybe others to intimidate the passengers.

Anyone have any other info?

1 posted on 06/03/2002 1:07:59 PM PDT by Kermit
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To: Kermit
People from both the Pentagon and Penn planes that made calls stated what the hijackers had.

I find it silly to assume that the WTC used their bare hands when on both the other planes items were used such as box cutters and knifes.

Just because those hijacked on the 2 WTC planes didn't get a chance to call others and report what was going on does not mean no weapons were used. ALso the victims on both WTC planes really had no idea what was going on. It all happened so quick.

I do find it hard to believe that a gun was aboard either WTC plane as well.

2 posted on 06/03/2002 1:12:42 PM PDT by alisasny
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To: Kermit
Wasn't there a stewardess on the plane that hit the north tower who was on the phone right up until the plane made impact? Maybe she said boxcutters. The guy does raise an interesting question.
3 posted on 06/03/2002 1:13:13 PM PDT by Huck
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To: alisasny
I think the $64K question that no one wants to answer is whether the box-cutters were brought through the metal detectors or whether the weapons were stashed on the plane.

If it's the latter scenario, then the only people who did their job that day were the $4.50 an hour baggage handlers, the people who were blamed and lost their jobs because of 9/11, while the trillion-dollar "intelligence" agencies failed completely, with no high level resignations.

4 posted on 06/03/2002 1:15:48 PM PDT by JohnGalt
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To: Huck
Barbera Olson confirmed knives on #77, that hit the Pentagon:

5 posted on 06/03/2002 1:15:59 PM PDT by Huck
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To: Huck
Here's more from Epstein, it's undated.

Following the September 11th attack, government authorities declared that the weapons used to hijack the planes that crashed into World Trade Center were plastic knives and box cutters. The story about plastic knives and box cutters, implements which passengers then were not legally restricted from bring through security checkpoints at airports, was relentlessly drummed into the public's mind by two of the highest officials in the government. John Ashcroft, the attorney general, Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense.

Ashcroft told ABC News on September 15th that "investigators believed that each of the commandeered planes had been hijacked by groups of three to six men armed with box cutters and plastic knives." Donald Rumsfeld told Fox News on September 16th, that the hijackers used weapons that are distinctively different - - plastic knives." On October 9th, he suggested to Dan Rather on CBS News "plastic knives and the use of a U.S. airliner filled with American people as a missile [were used] to destroy a World Trade Center." On November 7th, he described to Jim Lehrer on PBS " One of our planes is used as a missile to fly into our building and into the World Trade Center. It was beyond one's imagination that plastic knives and our own commercial aircraft filled with our own people would be used as the implement of war."

Actually, it was their imagination, not established facts, that informed the world that the hijackers had used plastic knives and box cutters to commandeer the two airliners that had destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Not a scintilla of evidence had been found then— or to date— that either plastic knives or box cutters were used by any of the ten hijackers who crashed United Airlines flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center. No box cutters or plastic knives were found in the debris. Nor were the cockpit voice recorders ever found from Flight 11 and Flight 175. No witnesses, either passengers or crew members, on either flight 11 or flight 175 ever reported any hijacker having a box cutter or a plastic knife.
Both United Airlines flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11 had departed from Boston. Once both Boeing 767s had reached their cruising altitudes, the hijackers took control of them by unknown means without any of the four pilots warning the ground controllers, even though they had open radios. Both airliners then turned off their transponders and disappeared from the computerized radar screens.

No message was ever received from flight 175 that mentioned any weapons. So, for all anyone knows, the hijackers may have used guns, grenades, poison gas or any other weapon

An executive summary of an unpublished FAA memo stated:

"At approximately 9:18 am, it was reported that two crew members in the cockpit were stabbed. The flight then descended with no communications from the flight crew members. The American Airlines FAA Principal Security Inspector (PFI) was notified by Suzanne Clark of American airlines Corporate Headquarters that an on board flight attendant contacted American Airlines Operation Center and informed that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in 9B at 9:20 am. The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin shot by Satam al-Suqama. One bullet was reported to have been fired."
The information came from two cell phone calls made by flight attendants, Betty Ong and Madeline Amy Sweeney, to Americal Airlines ground controllers. Ong, who was in the first class compartment— and the only witness to the assault on the cockpit. She reported that she had seen four hijackers come from first-class seats, kill a passenger seated behind them, and use a chemical weapon which she described as "some sort of spray" that made her eyes burn and made it difficult for her to breathe." Madeline Amy Sweeney, the flight attendant in the rear compartment, call was not recorded. According to the ground controller, she said that the pilots, another flight attendant and a passenger had been stabbed or killed.
The FAA subsequently said that the report of a gun shot was an error proceeding from a "miscommunication". The ground controller did not recall a gun shot or a bullet being mentioned.
In any case, there were no box cutters or plastics knives on flight 11 were used.

Two other flights were hijacked that morning, American Airlines flight 77, a Boeing 757 departing from Virginia, and United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 departing from Newark. On flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, one single passenger, Barbara Olsen, reported on weapons that some of the five hijackers had in the back of the plane. She told her husband, Theodore Olsen, on a cell phone that the hijackers who herded her and other the passengers into the back of the plane had two kind of weapons: knives and cardboard cutters (presumably box cutters). She did not say anything about the other hijackers in the cockpit and she apparently did not even know that they were piloting the plane. Nor did any other passenger or crew member on Flight 77 describe the hijackers' weapons. It cannot be assumed that all the hijackers on the plane had similar weapons. The hijackers assaulting the cockpit might have needed more sophisticated weaponry to rapidly stun or kill the pilots.
On flight 93, the Boeing 757 which crashed near Pittsburgh, the flight attendant reported over a cell phone that a hijacker in her plane had a "bomb strapped on." Some unidentified person also said over the loud speaker that there was a "bomb" aboard the plane. A passenger, Todd Beamer, talked over a cell phone about the "terrorist with a bomb." Another passenger, Tom Burnett, told his wife over a cell phone that he had heard that a pilot had been "knifed." No passenger or crew member described either box cutters or plastic knives as weapons and, as far as is known, no box cutters of plastic knives been recovered from the wreckage.

Similar weapons thus were not reported in the different flights. A paralytic chemical spray was described in the front compartment of flight 11, knives and card cutters was described in the rear compartment of Flight 77 and a bomb was described on flight 93. Nor is there any reason to assume that different hijackers on different planes leaving from different airports would use the same weaponry. Atta and Alomari, for example, having made a detour to Portland, might have obtained weapons unavailable to the hijackers in Virginia and New Jersey.)

In any case, the Ashcroft's story that the hijackers used box-cutters and plastic knives in the attack on the World Trade Center is a functional fictoid. In this case, the function was diversion. This fictoid serves to divert public attentions from the responsibility, and legal liability, of the government and airlines to prevent major weapons— such as guns, bombs, chemical sprays and hunting knives from being carried aboard airplanes. If such illegal devices had been smuggled aboard the planes, the liability could amount to billions of dollars. If, , on the other hand, it could be disseminated that the hijackers had only used plastic knives, such as those provided by the airlines for meals, or box cutters, which were allowed on planes, neither the airlines, the screeners at the airport, or the FAA, which regulates the safety of airports, could be held legally responsible. Paul Pillar, who had headed the CIA's counter-terrorism, could thus explain that"the attack that killed almost 4,000 people used box cutters." This press accepted it as established fact. The New York Times, for example, reported "the hijackers did not use firearms, which would probably have been detected, but apparently wielded box-cutter knives of the type that were then allowed on board but are now banned."

What made the box cutter and and plastic knives fictoid particularly welcome was that the FAA had found massive failures of airport screeners to find weapons prior to the attacks. Such tests were conducted by FAA undercover "Red Teams." In 1998, for example, one FAA Read team leader told the New York Times, "we were successful in getting major weapons— guns and bombs--aboard planes at least 85 percent the time." The failure rate was as high as 97 percent at some airports. Nor was this vulnerability corrected before September 11th. FAA Special Agent Bogdan Dzakovic, according to USA TODAY, said that FAA officials had ignored security problems before the terrorist attacks.
The fictoid successfully deflected from this gaping hole in security.

6 posted on 06/03/2002 1:18:07 PM PDT by Kermit
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To: Huck
I heard Ted Olson say that his wife called him collect from the airphone. This is not possible to do. No one has brought this up.
7 posted on 06/03/2002 1:19:43 PM PDT by miamimark
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To: Kermit
Because, "IF" the hijackers had used guns, the 2nd Amendment would have been cancelled by now.

The stewardess had her throat cut ... and was vividly described by witnesses .... Why do you doubt what the Bush adminstration said in this case?

Or, asking the other side of that question, why would you ever consider what a democrat was saying would be accurate and worth thinking about?

8 posted on 06/03/2002 1:21:19 PM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE
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To: Kermit
From what I remember of the reports on September 11th, one of the flight attendants was able to call someone from the back of the plane. She was able to give the seat numbers of the hijackers, which is how we found out who they were. I thought at the same time she said they used boxcutters and knives to slit throats and take over the planes.
9 posted on 06/03/2002 1:24:49 PM PDT by BUSHdude2000
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To: JohnGalt
I think the $64K question that no one wants to answer is whether the box-cutters were brought through the metal detectors or whether the weapons were stashed on the plane.

I've wondered that myself.
10 posted on 06/03/2002 1:27:07 PM PDT by wheezer
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To: Kermit
There is one thing that continues to perplex me. Numerous phone calls were made by the passengers to relatives, etc. stating what was occurring.
However, as far as I know, none of them gave a physical description of the hijackers. The photographs of the hijackers certainly made it clear that they weren't "blue-eyed" blondes". Apparently none of the passengers or the stewardess thought that little detail was important.
Just curious.
11 posted on 06/03/2002 1:27:15 PM PDT by Marianne
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To: Kermit
There is zero evidence of box-cutters on either plane that hit the World Trade Center.

Uh...DUH! People were calling family members with their cell phones.
Can't the liberals come up with something smarter than this? How far down into the gutters are they going to dig for new "suggestions" of dirt?
These people are going over the edge. They're losing their sanity, really. Hello? Reality check!

it protects the Bush Administration by diverting attention away from concern that airport security at three Federally-supervised airports was dangerously lax.

He should have personally frisked each passenger since his first day in the Whitehouse! But make sure there's no checks on anyone but Christian white men, otherwise it's racial profiling. Sorry , it's the law.

12 posted on 06/03/2002 1:27:16 PM PDT by concerned about politics
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To: miamimark
BKO called on her cell phone. Several times.
13 posted on 06/03/2002 1:28:25 PM PDT by Phantom Lord
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To: JohnGalt
On Sept. 11, it was NOT illegal to bring box cutters or knives onto planes. This was NOT a failure of airport security. The failure was in CONGRESS and their refusal to protect our borders and allow anyone and everyone into the country on visas as long as the application said "student."

Congress clearly couldnt admit fault, so they targeted the easiest target. Airport security.

14 posted on 06/03/2002 1:30:24 PM PDT by Phantom Lord
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To: Kermit
Not denying they said it, but I don't remember "plastic" knives being mentioned. When I've flown first class, I've received actual silverware.
15 posted on 06/03/2002 1:33:06 PM PDT by JmyBryan
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To: Kermit
It's a good question. I'd be curious to hear more.

As I recall, one or two additional planes that were not hijacked that day were found on the ground with box cutters or knives taped onto the trays, with the trays raised, so the weapons were hidden between the trays and the seat backs. It was also said that some of the hijackers' associates worked for airport food service companies at Logan International in Boston, and therefore possibly also at the other airport in New Jersey. At the time, I thought it likely that some of these food service people might have taped weapons in similar fashion on the trays in the four hijacked airliners, in the seats where the terrorists knew from their reservations that they would be seated. That way, they wouldn't need to bring the weapons through inspection at all.

We have not really seen any of these details followed up on or made public. There could be security reasons for this silence, but I don't see what those reasons can possibly be, and I have very little confidence in the reliability of the FBI or of the people who are running airport security. For that matter, I have very little confidence in "investigative reporters," who are pretty much a mythical breed these days. Most reporters these days are like a bunch of like-minded lemmings, who to sit around the office or attend chic parties, waiting for Democrat politicians and government sources to tell them what they should print.

16 posted on 06/03/2002 1:40:13 PM PDT by Cicero
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To: Kermit
Why has no one questioned the numerous attacks on Americans all through the Clinton administration? What did he know then, and when?
All those attacks, and Clintons open boarder free INS passes led up to 9/11.
The message of this highjaked airline and a terrorist attack goes back to 1995. Where was the Clinton CIA and FBI to stop it?
Clinton had 5 years, Bush had Florida recounts!
Clinton let Bin Ladin go, even though Americans had been attacked so many times before.
Shouldn't we be focusing on why Clinton let the WTC mastermine fulfill his 1995 plans? Bin Ladin fled to Afganistan in 1996! Where the heck was Clinton for 8 years? Hanging out with Monica?
17 posted on 06/03/2002 1:40:22 PM PDT by concerned about politics
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To: Marianne
none of them gave a physical description of the hijackers

Not true. Several of the flight 93 passengers, including Glick and Beamer, described "Iranian-looking men tying red bandanas on their heads".

18 posted on 06/03/2002 1:45:02 PM PDT by buccaneer81
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To: alisasny
In a recent check of airport screeners (post 9/11 mind you) the screeners missed a large percentage of the guns (I think it was 30 or 40 percent). So it's not impossible. Doubly not impossible if the guns were planted prior to boarding.

On the other hand knives are plausible too since trying to get guns aboard the planes is a riskier proposition.

In any case I doubt that it's all that relevent. No system, no matter how good, can stop all possible attacks. I think that many of the attempts to find fault with the government are based on the faulty premise that the government can make us perfectly safe. They never could do that. Unfortunately many of the things government is doing now, like confiscating fingernail clippers and spying on American citizens, will founder on the same foolish premise.

19 posted on 06/03/2002 1:48:32 PM PDT by alpowolf
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To: alpowolf
Still hard to believe that 4 planes were hijacked at the same time with the same similar plans. That 3 of them hit their targets....yet we still cant profile?????

I read somewhere that none of the planes had a full house so it was easy to get the passengers to the backs of the planes with minimul threats.

I can see a bomb threat with a box cutter working wonders on passengers taken off guard....why resist......the furthust thought from the passengers minds as well was they would never crash into buildings....

The only reason flight over PA rebelled was because they were warned and knew what was coming. The others on the other 3 planes had no idea.

20 posted on 06/03/2002 1:59:06 PM PDT by alisasny
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