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CNN Interview with Ticket Agent Michael Touhey, Touhey reportedly checked in Atta

driver
post Aug 30 2006, 11:27 AM
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http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0501/18/pzn.01.html


January 18, 2005 - 20:00 ET

ZAHN: And welcome back. Day two of our weeklong series, "Defending America," looks back at September 11 and the moment that started it all. Not when the first plane hit the first tower, but the moment when the so-called terrorist ringleader arrived at an airport in Maine, heading towards Boston and a connection with infamy.

Michael Touhey took Mohamed Atta's ticket this morning. His story is one you'll only hear here. Here's Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 9/11 Commission would describe the dawning of September 11 as temperate and nearly cloudless. By 4:00 a.m., Michael Touhey was already at work at the U.S. Air ticket counter at the airport in Portland, Maine.

MICHAEL TOUHEY: Crystal clear blue sky. It was just a fabulous to go to work.

GRIFFIN: One hour and 43 minutes into Touhey's day, two men approached his counter rushing to catch the 6:00 flight to Boston.

TOUHEY: They had a tie and jacket on. All right? And as I'm looking at them, you know, they're holding their IDs up, and I'm looking at them. It's not nice, but I said, "Jeez, if this doesn't look like two Arab terrorists, I've never seen two Arab terrorists."

GRIFFIN (on camera): That was your...

TOUHEY: Thought.

GRIFFIN: ... first reaction?

TOUHEY: That was my thought as I'm looking at them. I'm looking at their licenses, and I'm looking -- and that thought ran through my mind.

GRIFFIN: Where did that thought go?

TOUHEY: I don't know. Immediately, I felt guilty about thinking something like that. I just said, "This is awful." How -- you know, I've checked in thousands of Arabic people over the years. You know, doing the same job. Businessmen. I said, "These are just a couple of Arab business guys."

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But something about these two men was different. Touhey says the younger man, Abdul Aziz Al-Omari, could barely speak English. The other was Mohamed Atta. Touhey says he had the eyes of a killer.

TOUHEY: He did. He had the deadest eyes I've ever seen.

GRIFFIN: Setting aside his gut reaction, Touhey issued the boarding passes. The flight was leaving in 17 minutes. And Atta and Omari still had to clear security. But Atta told Touhey he wanted not only the boarding passes for the U.S. air flight to Boston, but also the passes for their connecting American Airlines flight to Los Angeles. Atta, the mastermind behind the 9/11 plan, was facing the plan's first obstacle, a gate agent with an attitude.

TOUHEY: When I just gave them the ticket, I gave them the boarding cards for the Boston flight. And he says -- he says, "Isn't this -- isn't there one-stop checking?" And I said, "No, you're connecting to American Airlines down in Boston."

GRIFFIN: Had Atta argued, he would have missed his flight. Touhey says the two men turned in a huff and hurried to the gate. Less than three hours later, Touhey was told by a co-worker that American Flight 11 had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

TOUHEY: I said, "Oh, my god." I said, "I put two people on that plane." And I was feeling horrible. You know?

Here I was thinking these guys were terrorists. You know? And I just had a flashback.

I said, "Now the poor bastards are dead." And then you got the word on the second plane and it was like a punch in the stomach.

GRIFFIN (on camera): You knew then that those two guys were involved?

TOUHEY: As soon as I heard it. The second I heard it. I said, "I was right. I was right."

You know, and it was just -- I don't know how you describe it, how your stomach twists and turns. You get sick to your stomach.

GRIFFIN: Still does?

TOUHEY: To this day. Not so much that -- I felt ashamed that I did not react to my instincts.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): His instinct to label the Arab men that morning as terrorists, to slow down their check and to search their bags, to possibly make the ringleader miss his flight, all of that is post-9/11 thinking. On that September morning, hassling two men simply because they were Arabs would not have been politically correct, Touhey says. His job was to get them on the flight, and he did.

Once he and other employees realized what was happening, they called the FBI. And within hours, Touhey found himself viewing this videotape of the two Arab men he had ticketed pass going through security. He told the FBI who they were. He also told them that he observed something curious on the tape.

TOUHEY: And they said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, these guys had on -- they were very business looking. They had on ties and jackets." And I said, "If you look at these guys, they both have like open collar, they have like dress shirts with an open collar." I said, "But that's them."

GRIFFIN: Touhey went home after that and watched the dreadful events unfold on television. His wife, a flight attendant, was grounded in another city. He was alone.

The next day, the self-described tough kid from a Boston housing project broke into tears. He talked with a psychologist the airline referred him to,then he called the one person he knew could help.

TOUHEY: I called my mother and she said, "What are you crying for?" And I said, "I feel bad about all them people that got killed." And she says,"What did you have to do with it?" And I told her. And she says, "I'm coming up."

GRIFFIN: His 91-year-old mother told him it wasn't his fault, a judgment he believes the 9/11 Commission has now confirmed. Warnings had been conveyed to the highest levels of government, but no one had instructed Mike Touhey to be more vigilant.

Had there been any kind of alert, Touhey says he would have acted on his non-politically correct gut instinct. Instead, when he read this report, he learned he was far from the only one to allow the hijackers to carry out their mission.

TOUHEY: That helped. I have to admit, that helped. I -- after seeing all the information that was available, I'm saying, "Well, jeez, why am I blaming myself, if they all knew this stuff?" By the time it got to me, it was already, you know, a done thing.

GRIFFIN: Could it happen again? Touhey, who has now retired to rural Maine, says probably not. He also agrees with the 9/11 Commission that another terrorist plot most likely won't involve airplanes. Touhey says he just hopes that the next person chosen by chance to make that first contact with evil, whoever becomes the first footnote of the next attack, does what he did not and reacts when his gut tells him to.

TOUHEY: I had the devil standing right in front of me. You know? And I ignored him. GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, Scarborough, Maine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Michael Touhey's name is in the very first footnote of the 9/11 Commission's official report, but he says they misspelled it.

Coming up next, a woman who lives somewhere in the Midwest. We can't tell you exactly where, but she's fighting the war on terror in her own home. We'll be back.
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driver
post Aug 30 2006, 11:33 AM
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TOUHEY: They had a tie and jacket on. All right? And as I'm looking at them, you know, they're holding their IDs up, and I'm looking at them. It's not nice, but I said, "Jeez, if this doesn't look like two Arab terrorists, I've never seen two Arab terrorists."






Note in the image they did not have ties and jackets on. In addition,the image has two different time stamps. One from the camera and the other likely from the recorder.

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the flight these two men were on departed at
6:00 a.m.




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driver
post Aug 30 2006, 11:36 AM
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Press Release - Hijackers

FBI website

October 4, 2001

http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel01/100401.htm

The Boston Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking the assistance of the citizens of Portland, Maine, in an effort to help identify additional information regarding the activities of MOHAMED ATTA and ABDUL AZIZ AL-OMARI while in Portland. Sometime on Monday afternoon, September 10, 2001, ATTA and AL-OMARI departed Boston, Massachusetts, and arrived in Portland later that same day. The FBI has developed a chronology of the activities of ATTA and AL-OMARI while in Portland. All times are approximate.

Monday, September 10, 2001

5:43 pm Atta and AL-OMARI checked into the Comfort Inn, 90 Maine Mall Road, South Portland, Maine.

8/9:00 pm Sometime between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm, two Middle Eastern males were seen at Pizza Hut, 415 Maine Mall Road, South Portland, Maine, for approximately fifteen (15) minutes.

8:31 pm ATTA and AL-OMARI were photographed by a Key Bank drive-up ATM located at 445 Gorham Road, South Portland, Maine. They were driving a 2001 blue Nissan Altima rental car bearing Massachusetts license 3335VI.

8:41 pm ATTA and AL-OMARI were photographed by a Fast Green ATM located in the parking lot of UNO's restaurant, 280 Maine Mall Road, South Portland, Maine.

9:15 pm ATTA and AL-OMARI were at Jetport Gas Station, 446 Western, Avenue, South Portland, Maine. ATTA was wearing a half dark, half light colored shirt with light colored slacks.

9:22 pm ATTA was at Wal-Mart, 451 Payne Road, Scarborough, Maine, for approximately twenty minutes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

5:33 am ATTA and AL-OMARI checked out of the Comfort Inn.

5:40 am The 2001 blue Nissan Altima rental car, bearing Massachusetts license 3335VI, entered Portland International Jetport Airport parking lot. It was parked on the first floor directly across from the airport entrance.

5:43 am ATTA and AL-OMARI checked in at US AIRWAYS counter.

5:45 am ATTA and AL-OMARI passed through airport security.

6:00 am ATTA and AL-OMARI departed on Colgan Air en route to Boston, Massachusetts.

The FBI asks anyone who has seen these individuals in Portland, Maine, on the evening of September 10th and/or the morning of September 11th and can provide additional information, contact the Boston FBI at (617) 742-5533. The corresponding photographs can be viewed at WWW.FBI.GOV.
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driver
post Aug 30 2006, 11:44 AM
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Photos from Portland Airport security check point.









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driver
post Aug 30 2006, 11:49 AM
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http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24596

Hijacking ringleader was 'sweating bullets'

Atta's scramble to catch Boston flight casts doubt on notion of flawless plan

By Paul Sperry 2001 WorldNetDaily.com

The suspected ringleader of last week's terrorist assault came close to missing his American Airlines flight out of Boston and showed up at the gate perspiring, says an American Airlines employee at Logan International Airport.

The gate agent who checked in Mohamed Atta and gave him his boarding pass told the FBI that she remembers him showing up for Flight 11 late, his face covered with sweat, the source says.

"The girl that checked Atta said he was sweating bullets, that he was running late," the employee said. "His forehead was drenched."

Sometime after 6 a.m. on Sept. 11, Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, both believed to be trained pilots, boarded a US Airways flight at the Portland International Jetport in Maine and then made the American Flight 11 connection in Boston.

But the US Airways flight was delayed. And when it arrived at Logan, Atta had to make a long jog from the US Airways terminal, which is at the opposite end of the American terminal, to the American ticket counter, where he apparently checked a bag. (He reportedly had purchased his ticket online.) Security video at Portland's Jetport shows Atta carrying a bag on his shoulder. Alomari is not shown with a bag.

At the baggage check-in, the source says, Atta ran into another snag.

"The ticket agent said that when she went to do the security questions on him you know, 'Have you left your bags unattended at any time' he claimed he didn't understand because he didn't speak English," the American employee said. "So she called the supervisor to help.

"But of course, he couldn't interpret because we have no one who speaks Arabic on site I mean, who does?" she continued. "So the supervisor said to send him down [to the gate], because it was getting close to departure."

Atta, 33, then rushed to the security checkpoint and down the concourse about a five-minute jog to the gate, where he showed up perspiring, the source says. He showed up alone, the four other terrorists having checked in earlier.

Flight 11 left the gate at 7:45 a.m. It hit the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:48 a.m.

Curiously, the three other Arab hijackers aboard Flight 11 drove to Logan, while Atta and Alomari reportedly arrived in Boston the previous Sunday, drove back to Portland and then flew again to Boston.

The moves baffle authorities, not only because they almost caused at least Atta the suspected leader to miss his flight, but because they exposed Alomari and him to additional airport security checks.

They also cast doubt on the widely held belief that the assault was flawlessly planned and coordinated.

"The nitwit," said the American employee of Atta. "You know, they'd been planning it for five years, and he's running late for the flight."

She says the gate agent who checked in Atta has been so distraught that she requested to be the agent that worked the gate on Saturday when American resumed flights out of Logan.

"She wanted to get right back into it because she didn't sleep for the whole week, you know, because she checked them all in and then waved goodbye to the captain," the employee said. "I mean, that can do a number on you."

In another development, the employee confirmed reports that the terrorists on Flight 11 sprayed passengers with mace or pepper spray. She says one of the terrorists seated in the last row of the business class section pulled back the curtain and sprayed the noxious gas in the direction of passengers in coach, apparently to disable them and discourage them from trying to stop the hijacking.

She says two of the hijackers sat in first class seats 1G and 1H and three sat in business class. Atta sat in seat 8D.

An American spokeswoman in Dallas would not comment on the developments, stressing that all American employees have been ordered not to talk to the press.
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driver
post Aug 30 2006, 11:54 AM
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From the article above

"The ticket agent said that when she went to do the security questions on him you know, 'Have you left your bags unattended at any time' he claimed he didn't understand because he didn't speak English," the American employee said. "So she called the supervisor to help.


Atta, 33, then rushed to the security checkpoint and down the concourse about a five-minute jog to the gate, where he showed up perspiring, the source says. He showed up alone, the four other terrorists having checked in earlier.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

One obvious problem with this account is Atta was fluent in English.
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driver
post Aug 30 2006, 11:56 AM
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http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/13/flight.schools/

As federal agents pored over flight school student records across Florida, they questioned Saudi flight engineer Adnan Bukhari about two Arab flight school students who lived next door to him in Vero Beach.

Neighbors said Amer Kamfar and Abdulrahman Alomari, both of whom were thought to have trained at Flight Safety Academy in Vero Beach, abruptly moved out earlier this month, The Associated Press reported.

Federal sources initially identified Bukhari and Ameer Bukhari as possible hijackers who boarded one of the planes that originated in Boston. The two men were first identified as brothers, but Adnan Bukhari said that was not the case.

Their names had been tied to a car found at an airport in Portland, Maine, but Adnan Bukhari's attorney said it appeared their identifications were stolen and said Bukhari had no role in the hijackings. A federal law enforcement official said Bukhari passed an FBI polygraph test and is not considered a suspect.

Ameer Bukhari died in a small plane crash in Florida last year, said Adnan Bukhari's attorney.
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driver
post Aug 30 2006, 12:03 PM
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http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch1.htm


9-11 Commission Report

"WE HAVE SOME PLANES"

1.1 INSIDE THE FOUR FLIGHTS

Boarding the Flights
Boston: American 11 and United 175. Atta and Omari boarded a 6:00 A.M. flight from Portland to Boston's Logan International Airport.1

When he checked in for his flight to Boston, Atta was selected by a computerized prescreening system known as CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System), created to identify passengers who should be subject to special security measures. Under security rules in place at the time, the only consequence of Atta's selection by CAPPS was that his checked bags were held off the plane until it was confirmed that he had boarded the aircraft. This did not hinder Atta's plans. 2

Atta and Omari arrived in Boston at 6:45. Seven minutes later, Atta apparently took a call from Marwan al Shehhi, a longtime colleague who was at another terminal at Logan Airport. They spoke for three minutes.3 It would be their final conversation. Between 6:45 and 7:40, Atta and Omari, along with Satam al Suqami, Wail al Shehri, and Waleed al Shehri, checked in and boarded American Airlines Flight 11, bound for Los Angeles. The flight was scheduled to depart at 7:45.4 (1 image)
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driver
post Aug 30 2006, 12:06 PM
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http://www.ict.org.il/spotlight/det.cfm?id=671

According to CNN, the four pilots who commandeered the two airliners out of Boston Tuesday and crashed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center were traced with the help of rental car records from cars left in Maine and Massachusetts. Evidence found in a rental car left in Portland, Maine, led investigators to two houses in Vero Beach, Florida. One had been rented by two brothers from Saudi Arabia.

Inside, police found a photo of Adnan Bukhari and two pilot's certificates--one in the name of Adnan Bukhari, the other in the name of his brother, Amir Abbas Burkari.

On the morning of the hijacking, the two brothers rented a car from an Alamo rental desk at Boston's Logan Airport and drove to an airport in Portland. There they got on US Airways Flight 5930 at 6 A.M. headed back to Boston, the sources said. Investigators are analyzing videotapes at the car rental facility and at the Maine airport. Investigators suspect that the two brothers were aboard hijacked United Airlines flight 175, according to the Boston Herald.
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amazed!
post Mar 12 2007, 11:10 PM
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Sounds like Touhey is working for the feds, and saying what they want him to say. thumbdown.gif
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timzan9
post Aug 28 2007, 01:04 PM
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The whole Atta story rings untrue to me. Why take a multi segment connection to catch the most important flight of your life? Especially utilizing US Air to AA for your connection. If anything screams "you're gonna be late" that does. His bag was left behind with conveniently incriminating evidence? He checks in late at a small regional airline where he is subsequently quad SSSS'd for secondary screening. Not to mention that his name should have hit on a database since the CAPPS system caught on to it and he makes the flight but his bag doesn't. And why bring a checked bag on that trip? Kind of like why take out money from an ATM at the airport? To ensure you're photographed or does Heaven have a cover charge? Not to mention He doesn't look that harried like he is rushing to catch a flight from the videos provided so what gives?
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JackD
post Nov 27 2007, 06:39 PM
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no, it makes perfect sense for Atta.

really -- instead of taking a flight from Boston Logan (where there are NO SECURITY VIDEO CAMERAS AT YOUR GATE B26 or B32) -- you DRIVE to MAINE the night before.

you get on video camera in Maine while buying BOXCUTTERS at WALMART just before it closes. whew!!

get on a VERY EARLY ColganAir commuter flight (which could have been canceled due to weather, insuf. passengers, etc) -- and pack your last will and testament and also video flight manuals in your baggage. why not? it's a suicide mission. your will will get burned up. you cant access the manuals. crap......oh, to boot, you just got on security camera! oh wait, first you make scary terrorist faces at Michael Tuohey the gate agent. he'll be sure to rmember how creepy you are. he does!

you take a HUGE CHANCE That you will be late, miss your key AA11 connection in Boston. You have to RUN across the B terminal at Logan from B1 to B2 area, and go THROUGH SECURITY AGAIN. YOU"RE ABOUT TO MISS YOUR FLIGHT YOU HAVE BEEN TRAINING FOR YEARS FOR> THE KEY TO THE WHOLE 9/11 OPERATION.

nice job mohammed!

Turns out you get lucky, and get on the plane at last minute. but your bag, the stuff with your will, your flight manuals, etc, gets delayed. damn! now the feds will find out who you are! and you also left a letter connecting the OTHER hijackers names, too!! wascally feds! you really meant to bring that will & testament with you, so it could, umm, get blown up??

even though you almost totally blew it, you are now on the right plane. probably sweating a bit. sitting in seat 8G. right near David Angell, the producer of TV's Frasier, in fact.

but crap, this is just not your day! turns out that Israeli-defense-forces trained counterterror commando, specializing in counter-hijack terror, Daniel lewin is seated in the row behind you!! you have no way of knowing this, since Lewin is better known for being a tech start up CEO than Sayret Matkal commando.

now WTF are you going to to?

what an interesting day, as Mr Bush said...
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amazed!
post Jan 1 2008, 11:10 PM
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Great posts you guys! Just the right amount of humor.

The Official Conspiracy Theory stinks to high heaven! laughing1.gif
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albertchampion
post Jan 2 2008, 03:12 AM
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why are you still doing this?

don't you know by now that the "offiical" story is fraudulent? was always fraudulent?

there is no reason to continue to recap the fraud.

let us hone in on the traitors.......

george walker bush
richard cheney
richard myers
ralph eberhart

to name but a few.

the continuing question is this: why are those on this website some of the few who seem to recognize the truth?
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amazed!
post Jan 2 2008, 11:18 PM
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Well Albert, because pilots are cut from a special cloth, that's why. We are smart fellers, sometimes. B)

Happy New Year!

Too bad the AOPA is so damn pig-headed about this question.

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albertchampion
post Jan 4 2008, 11:45 PM
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NO, SOME PILOTS.

a great many are quite content to believe in the fiction.

why would that be? preserving a job? a military background that believes in supporting the cic? or just good old amerikan fascism? or the zeal for being part of a crusade? or members of the reptillian party? or just go along to get along?

a combination of all of the above.

and i suppose that when the usg controls your ticket, that has a chilling effect.

i investigated AS261 pretty thoroughly. and though i found many pilots of this aircraft that agreed with my assessment of that catastrophe, none wanted to go on the record. in a very real sense, the majority of commercial airline pilots are as sheepish as the general population.

your comments regarding aopa are spot on. much to my disgust. it is principally a general aviation[corporate aviation, corporate aviation manufacturer] lobbying entity today. it will do nothing that might cause it to lose influence with the feds.

i have written aopa's magazine about this issue. surprise, though i have been a member since 1947, those letters are never acknowledged, nor published. for all practical purposes, aopa has become an arm of the faa, the ntsb.

dick collins, who i think once published a little rag on aircraft accidents[AIR FACTS], has become a marshmallow for the state. reading his accident investigations from years ago and reading his stuff today - i have to conclude he has become a shill for the gangsters running this country.

and it is just not aopa that is so terrified that it muzzles itself. i know/subscribe to a site[joe brancatelli's] that is equally terrified and is self-muzzling.

i could belabor this issue of self-muzzlement for many more 'grafs. but i think that you understand.

do you think that THEY monitor this site?

i am scared now. aren't you?

hny and tight lines.
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quakergirl
post Apr 30 2008, 03:12 PM
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From the article above

"The ticket agent said that when she went to do the security questions on him you know, 'Have you left your bags unattended at any time' he claimed he didn't understand because he didn't speak English," the American employee said. "So she called the supervisor to help.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

One obvious problem with this account is Atta was fluent in English.
[/quote]
______________
Also it does not look like ATTA and he is not on any list of passengers and his father said he heard from him on the 12 Sept . Those could be passengers who went on to the middle east
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albertchampion
post Apr 30 2008, 07:53 PM
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yes, quite correct about atta. in fact, daniel hopsicker has written extensively about the florida activities of the highly americanized atta. if you are unaware of his research, i think it can be found at madcowprod.com

what is most interesting about daniel's work is how the local new york times newspaper in that area, has totally ignored this story. hopsicker's work is, in many respects, the best needle puncturing the balloon of the "official" story, revealing the existence of a pretty vast conspiracy concerning the events of 11/09/01.
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SR71
post Sep 23 2013, 04:39 PM
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I will be the first to comment on this thread in years....



Events in Nairobi today are interesting in light of all we have learned about false
flag operations in the last 12 years.


Even since this thread was started, new evidence has come to light that

Atta and co. certainly didnt behave like religous people

Atta and co. were not on any passenger manifest

Half of the supposed 19 are cases of stolen identity or are still living, eg the
Morroco Air pilot still alive in 2013;

No plane hit the Pentagon and 93 certainly did not crash at Shankesville.


There was a comical effort to frame Atta by planting his tidy passport on top of rubble
on a Manhattan Street


Atta's father says he spoke to his son on September 12 and nobody in his family
or religous group back in Egypt claimed responsability for the most awesome feat
in military history.....


...and 12 years later Arabs and many many others have had to live with the stigma
and hateful glares of people around them...for something they didnt do.


Today in congress Mr Peter King ( a fanatical devotee of Israel ) wants to racially profile Somalis
because the media is chanting that "el shish kebab" massacred people in a Nairobi shopping mall .



Americans: wake up. We did not have a Civil War and a Civil Rights movement so that
future generations could live in a police state based on the Israeli model of paranoia, harrassment, Islamophobia and racial caste systems; We did not build a great nation to have it turned into Israel's ugly mirror image.

Our constitution is incompatable with the Israeli model: DHS ( Chertoff ) Stop and frisk ( Bloomberg)TSA, etc

Duel Israeli citizens must be evicted from government immediately.


We will not have our laws and our democratic traditions deformed to meet the requirements of a crazed and racist security state that has no respect for the Bill of Rights.

We are not buying it.







QUOTE (driver @ Aug 30 2006, 03:27 PM) *
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0501/18/pzn.01.html


January 18, 2005 - 20:00 ET

ZAHN: And welcome back. Day two of our weeklong series, "Defending America," looks back at September 11 and the moment that started it all. Not when the first plane hit the first tower, but the moment when the so-called terrorist ringleader arrived at an airport in Maine, heading towards Boston and a connection with infamy.

Michael Touhey took Mohamed Atta's ticket this morning. His story is one you'll only hear here. Here's Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 9/11 Commission would describe the dawning of September 11 as temperate and nearly cloudless. By 4:00 a.m., Michael Touhey was already at work at the U.S. Air ticket counter at the airport in Portland, Maine.

MICHAEL TOUHEY: Crystal clear blue sky. It was just a fabulous to go to work.

GRIFFIN: One hour and 43 minutes into Touhey's day, two men approached his counter rushing to catch the 6:00 flight to Boston.

TOUHEY: They had a tie and jacket on. All right? And as I'm looking at them, you know, they're holding their IDs up, and I'm looking at them. It's not nice, but I said, "Jeez, if this doesn't look like two Arab terrorists, I've never seen two Arab terrorists."

GRIFFIN (on camera): That was your...

TOUHEY: Thought.

GRIFFIN: ... first reaction?

TOUHEY: That was my thought as I'm looking at them. I'm looking at their licenses, and I'm looking -- and that thought ran through my mind.

GRIFFIN: Where did that thought go?

TOUHEY: I don't know. Immediately, I felt guilty about thinking something like that. I just said, "This is awful." How -- you know, I've checked in thousands of Arabic people over the years. You know, doing the same job. Businessmen. I said, "These are just a couple of Arab business guys."

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But something about these two men was different. Touhey says the younger man, Abdul Aziz Al-Omari, could barely speak English. The other was Mohamed Atta. Touhey says he had the eyes of a killer.

TOUHEY: He did. He had the deadest eyes I've ever seen.

GRIFFIN: Setting aside his gut reaction, Touhey issued the boarding passes. The flight was leaving in 17 minutes. And Atta and Omari still had to clear security. But Atta told Touhey he wanted not only the boarding passes for the U.S. air flight to Boston, but also the passes for their connecting American Airlines flight to Los Angeles. Atta, the mastermind behind the 9/11 plan, was facing the plan's first obstacle, a gate agent with an attitude.

TOUHEY: When I just gave them the ticket, I gave them the boarding cards for the Boston flight. And he says -- he says, "Isn't this -- isn't there one-stop checking?" And I said, "No, you're connecting to American Airlines down in Boston."

GRIFFIN: Had Atta argued, he would have missed his flight. Touhey says the two men turned in a huff and hurried to the gate. Less than three hours later, Touhey was told by a co-worker that American Flight 11 had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

TOUHEY: I said, "Oh, my god." I said, "I put two people on that plane." And I was feeling horrible. You know?

Here I was thinking these guys were terrorists. You know? And I just had a flashback.

I said, "Now the poor bastards are dead." And then you got the word on the second plane and it was like a punch in the stomach.

GRIFFIN (on camera): You knew then that those two guys were involved?

TOUHEY: As soon as I heard it. The second I heard it. I said, "I was right. I was right."

You know, and it was just -- I don't know how you describe it, how your stomach twists and turns. You get sick to your stomach.

GRIFFIN: Still does?

TOUHEY: To this day. Not so much that -- I felt ashamed that I did not react to my instincts.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): His instinct to label the Arab men that morning as terrorists, to slow down their check and to search their bags, to possibly make the ringleader miss his flight, all of that is post-9/11 thinking. On that September morning, hassling two men simply because they were Arabs would not have been politically correct, Touhey says. His job was to get them on the flight, and he did.

Once he and other employees realized what was happening, they called the FBI. And within hours, Touhey found himself viewing this videotape of the two Arab men he had ticketed pass going through security. He told the FBI who they were. He also told them that he observed something curious on the tape.

TOUHEY: And they said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, these guys had on -- they were very business looking. They had on ties and jackets." And I said, "If you look at these guys, they both have like open collar, they have like dress shirts with an open collar." I said, "But that's them."

GRIFFIN: Touhey went home after that and watched the dreadful events unfold on television. His wife, a flight attendant, was grounded in another city. He was alone.

The next day, the self-described tough kid from a Boston housing project broke into tears. He talked with a psychologist the airline referred him to,then he called the one person he knew could help.

TOUHEY: I called my mother and she said, "What are you crying for?" And I said, "I feel bad about all them people that got killed." And she says,"What did you have to do with it?" And I told her. And she says, "I'm coming up."

GRIFFIN: His 91-year-old mother told him it wasn't his fault, a judgment he believes the 9/11 Commission has now confirmed. Warnings had been conveyed to the highest levels of government, but no one had instructed Mike Touhey to be more vigilant.

Had there been any kind of alert, Touhey says he would have acted on his non-politically correct gut instinct. Instead, when he read this report, he learned he was far from the only one to allow the hijackers to carry out their mission.

TOUHEY: That helped. I have to admit, that helped. I -- after seeing all the information that was available, I'm saying, "Well, jeez, why am I blaming myself, if they all knew this stuff?" By the time it got to me, it was already, you know, a done thing.

GRIFFIN: Could it happen again? Touhey, who has now retired to rural Maine, says probably not. He also agrees with the 9/11 Commission that another terrorist plot most likely won't involve airplanes. Touhey says he just hopes that the next person chosen by chance to make that first contact with evil, whoever becomes the first footnote of the next attack, does what he did not and reacts when his gut tells him to.

TOUHEY: I had the devil standing right in front of me. You know? And I ignored him. GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, Scarborough, Maine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Michael Touhey's name is in the very first footnote of the 9/11 Commission's official report, but he says they misspelled it.

Coming up next, a woman who lives somewhere in the Midwest. We can't tell you exactly where, but she's fighting the war on terror in her own home. We'll be back.

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amazed!
post Oct 1 2013, 11:05 AM
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SR71

Good points all, and a great post!
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