What I Heard LAX Security Officials Say During the 9/11 Attacks
Charles E. Lewis
Although I was no longer employed at LAX on September 11, 2001, I had worked
there until about two months before as the Quality Control Manager for Kiewit
Pacific Construction on the Taxiway “C” project. A large part of
my work involved security in the Air Port Operations, or APO (but now called
the “Airport Operations Area,” or “AOA”), which is where
the planes are. On the morning of September 11, 2001, I listened with great
interest to LAX Security officials in the APO discussing the attacks and trying
to get more information.
“LAX Security” involves the Los Angeles World Airport Police Department,
the Los Angeles Police Department, and sometimes the FBI and/or the California
Highway Patrol. I can, incidentally, testify that LAX Security performed very
professionally on 9/11. Despite extreme pressure, confusion, and fear (they
had received information that LAX was a target), they executed the emergency
After describing what I heard while listening to LAX Security, I will suggest
ways in which my account could be corroborated.
On the morning of 9/11, I was working as Deputy Inspector representing the
City of LA Building and Safety Department for the seismic retrofit of the LA
Hilton Towers Hotel, only a few minutes by car from where I had worked at LAX.
When I realized, after the second strike on the WTC, that the country was under
attack, I decided that I should go to the APO, because I was one of only a few
persons who would know how to fix certain parts of the new security systems
if problems developed. Especially crucial were the systems at Guard Post II,
for which I had managed the design changes and construction. So, after telling
the workers to leave (because of my fear that the hotel might be struck) and
informing Hilton Security of my order, I rushed to LAX Guard Post II. Arriving
at about 6:35 AM (PT), I explained my purpose for being there to the Security
Guards. I then heard some very interesting things.
As on other days, there was “chatter” on LAX Security walkie-talkies
and I could easily hear what Security was saying when they were outside the
guard shack (they would go in and out, but they were mainly outside). On some
of the walkie-talkies, I could hear both sides of the conversations; on others
only one. I do not know who was at the other end of the walkie-talkies, but
I assumed that it was LAX Security dispatch or command.
At first, LAX Security was very upset because it seemed to Security that none
of the FAA’s Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) tracking the hijacked airliners
had notified NORAD as required.
More chatter revealed that ATCs had notified NORAD, but that NORAD had not
responded, because it had been “ordered to stand down.”
This report made Security even more upset, so they tried to find out who had
issued that order. A short time later the word came down that the order had
come “from the highest level of the White House.” Security was puzzled
and very upset by this and made attempts to get more details and clarification,
but these were not forthcoming while I was still there.
Another piece of information that I heard, shortly after my arrival, was that
the Pentagon had been “hit by a rocket.” It’s possible that
the word was “missile,” although I’m quite certain it was
“rocket.” I was, in any case, quite surprised when I later got home
and learned that the media were reporting that an airliner had hit the Pentagon.
There was also a radio station that I understood to be “LAX Radio” (or something like that), on which the following was heard: There were 11 planes
and 11 targets, but at the time only 10 of the targets were mentioned: the WTC;
the Pentagon; the White House; the Capitol; Camp David; the Sears Tower; the
Space Needle; the Trans America Bldg.; LAX; and Air Force One—”if it
could be found.”
This station also reported that two fighter jets had been scrambled and had
successfully shot down a hijacked airliner over Pennsylvania. The point of deployment
of the fighter jets was also mentioned, but I can’t remember the name
of the military base.
Points of origin mentioned included Newark, Atlanta and other locations, but
it was confusing to me, because I couldn’t determine if these were points
of origin for the hijacked planes or the fighter jets being scrambled. Unfortunately,
the names of these airports were not familiar to me or it would have been easier
for me to remember them.
There are several ways in which my account might be corroborated:
1. Videos from LAX Security cameras, assuming they have been retained unchanged,
would substantiate my presence in the APO that morning.
2. I am well known to the officials in the Engineering Department of Los Angeles
World Airports. They would surely testify that I am extremely honest to the
point of being obsessed with absolute truth—a characteristic that was reflected
in my reports when I was the Quality Control Manager, representing the contractors,
for the Taxiway “C” project, 1999-2001, and the Runway 25L/Center
Taxiway Improvements project, 2005-2006.
3. Captain Larry Gray was the head of security in the APO at that time. He
should be able to confirm the fact that the events I have reported did happen
4. The same should be true of Captain LaPonda Fitchpatrick of the LAWAPD. On
June 8, 2006—by which date she was the head of Security in the AOA—she and
I were discussing solutions to security problems in the AOA that I had observed
while working there. During the conversation, I told her that I heard everything
Security was discussing on 9/11 at Guard Post II and that I did not see how
the attacks could have succeeded without inside participation. She replied that LAX security was well aware that 9/11 was an inside job.
5. My account could also be confirmed by Security officers on duty in the APO
during the time of the attacks (the names of whom should be in FBI, LAPD, and
6. Assuming that the LAX Security phone conversations were recorded and have
been retained unchanged, they should confirm my account.
7. The audio recordings of radio transmissions at LAX, if they have been retained
unchanged, would substantiate my account of the comments by Security officers
and LAX dispatch and command.
8. The audio recording of the LAX Radio broadcast, assuming it has been retained
unchanged, would substantiate my account of what was broadcast. (Items 5-7 would
reveal if I have inadvertently confused information attained from LAX Security
and information received from LAX Radio.)