Bogdan Dzakovic is a former security specialist who is the author of the book, “Fortress of Deceit: The Story of a 9/11 Whistleblower.”
Q: What did your role as a security specialist entail?
A: I had four basic jobs as a security specialist. Three with the Federal Aviation Administration leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks and the last with the Transportation Security Administration after the attacks. The first job was a Special Agent in which I documented (thru inspections) the state of aviation security. This was the second most irrelevant job ever invented. Basically just do the same thing every year never improving the system. The second job was serving as an Air Marshal Team Leader. Really liked this, excellent training, world wide travel – was an elite organization at the time, not to be confused with the current air marshal program. Problem was, however, there were so few air marshals that we were basically irrelevant in the ultimate scheme of things. My next job was pivotal. Serving as a Team Leader in the Red Team. The Red Team was an adversary team designed to replicate the tactics and equipment that terrorists would use in the commercial aviation environment. Served in this position from 1995 until 9/11. This job helped put me into the mindset to be able to think like a terrorist. I knew as early as 1998 that a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 was imminent. Attempted to prevent it. Failed of course. But filed a federal government whistleblower disclosure with the United States Official of Special Counsel (which reports directly to the President) right after the attacks. The Special Counsel agreed with my allegations that FAA was a grossly inept organization. Which leads to my last job working for TSA. After 9/11 the government terminated FAA’s involvement in aviation security and established the TSA. As punishment for trying to prevent the 9/11 attacks TSA buried me in an entry level staff job for the remainder of my career spanning from shortly after the attacks until I retired in 2014. This was the most irrelevant job ever invented. You could have trained a monkey to do what I was assigned.
Q: What is Fortress of Deceit about?
A: The book is a professional autobiography spanning my thirty-two years working for the federal government wonderland highlighting some of the more egregiously inept, wasteful, and even treasonous activities I witnessed and/or participated in. ALL of which was and still is considered perfectly normal behavior on the part of federal employees and managers. The first half covers my early years in the military and in law enforcement including a brief stint engaged in the war on drugs. The next quarter concerns the efforts I (and some colleagues) made to try to prevent the 9/11 attacks. The last quarter focuses on how I (and other federal whistleblowers) are treated by the government for abiding by our oath of office and to adhere to the Constitution. An epilogue follows on how to fix this broken system. When President Obama was first running for office he made some comments about having the most open government in history and proclaimed that whistleblowers are an important part of this process. The reality turned out to be much different. Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all the previous Presidents COMBINED. I consider myself extremely lucky to have made it to retirement.
Q: What are some of the things the government could have done to prevent 9/11?
A: Simply hardening the cockpit doors would have prevented the attacks. It was proposed as early as 1992 to do this as some gifted FAA employees recognized that nothing else FAA was doing would prevent a hijacking (I wasn’t involved in this particular event). In my book I go into why this (and other) simple steps weren’t taken in the lead up to 9/11.
Q: Do you think the Patriot Act has really improved national security?
A: Absolutely NOT! In the latter half of the 20th century many countries were plagued with their own indigenous problems of terrorism, guerrilla warfare or low intensity conflict. These were primarily in Central and South America and in Africa. In virtually all of these situations the government’s knee-jerk reaction to combat these threats became an even bigger danger to their own citizens than the terrorists could ever hope to achieve (which is actually a key goal of the insurgent mentality). Before World War II, Stalin butchered millions of his own people. After World War II, Mao butchered even more of his own people in China. All in the name of state security. When it came to killing his own people, Hitler was an amateur compared to what when on in the Soviet Union and China. The point of this being that pin-headed politicians and bureaucrats are the same everywhere. The clowns we elect into office as well as the senior bureaucrats they appoint to run the respective agencies are no different. They’ll do whatever they can get away with. The Patriot Act should be rescinded in its entirety as well as the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. They are all unbelievably wasteful, inept, are black holes absorbing tax dollars and are unaccountable. Yes, we do have a serious problem with terrorism, but there’s a smarter way to go about this and do so while remaining within the Constitutional boundaries of limited federal powers. How federal whistleblowers are retaliated against by the government when they attempt to stop illegal or immoral government activities just reinforces this notion that federal politicians and bureaucrats will do everything they can to maintain the lucrative status-quo they thrive in.
Q: How do you think the Trump presidency will effect international security and terrorism?
A: I’m very optimistic. Take a look at the problems our traditional establishment politicians have caused (not even counting prior to 9/11). President Bush and his inner circle of misfits should be spending the rest of their natural lives in the worst prison in the country as war criminals. What more heinous activity can a country engage in than war – when its not in self-defense (aside from killing its own citizens). Iraq, in particular. Obama and Hillary Clinton should be in the adjacent cells just for what they did in Libya, instigating its collapse. Congress has made itself (with rare individual exception) completely irrelevant to keeping the executive branch in check when the President steps way outside his authority under the Constitution. We started wars in the middle east and central Asia that clearly didn’t meet the minimum threshold as defined in the Constitution, we destabilized much of this area resulting in the killing of who knows how many innocent civilians, thousands of US troop casualties, we have the largest refugee crisis since World War II, and we have the largest national debt since World War II. Trump was elected because Americans had it with these people. He has the opportunity to bring some really creative energies into solving or minimizing a lot of these problems. I think more bloodshed is inevitable given how nutty people have proven to be around the world, but I’m very optimistic that Trump will be a positive influence. WE started a forest fire in the middle-east, unfortunately there’s no way to take it back, WE now have to deal with the consequences. I think Trump will bring a more scientific or rational approach to tackling this problem. Remember a few years ago when the viral contagion exploded out of the Congo. The international community joined together and fought the disease head-on without fogging the situation with political correctness. The place was cordoned off, specialists were sent into the country to kill off the disease using the best tools and understanding we had. Lots of innocent local people died in the process. Anyone that escaped the country was quarantined until the threat was neutralized. No happy way to do this, but it had to be done. Trump will hit the terrorism problem head-on.
Q: What was your oddest work story?
A: This is a tough one, so much to choose from. I checked my big Webster’s dictionary on this to try to narrow down the meaning of “odd”. The definition I am using is: “Not usual or ordinary, singular, peculiar, queer”. Particularly “peculiar”. I mention some anecdotes in my book that some people might ascribe to paranormal activity. But the most peculiar thing was when I had a great revelation: Prior to 9/11, I (and some colleagues) ended up going to Capitol Hill to talk directly with our elected officials in an effort to get them to do something to stave off the imminent terrorist attacks. I naively thought at the time, that our Congressmen would put aside their party loyalties and bickering and actually put their country first. I remember standing near the pool in front of the Capitol Building, just staring up at the enormity of the building and the flag blowing in the wind, saying to myself – “This is a damn peculiar place”. What I later discovered is that Congress very deliberately and willfully sacrificed the lives of the 9/11 victims rather than upset the ways of the bureaucracy or the lucrative lobbying industry they thrive in. They did an excellent job of covering up their involvement after the fact. The 9/11 Commission was a whitewash. Since then I’ve used a bit stronger words to describe the trash we elect into public office – with some exceptions.
Q: What would you change about the media’s coverage of 9/11?
A: The news media needs to take a lot of responsibility for exacerbating each and every terrorist attack by sensationalizing the event. In the eyes of the fanatics and nutjobs watching their dog and pony shows, the news makes the killers out to be heroes and people to emulate. Fighting the Great Satan, what better way to get your name in the world news, by dying in a blaze of glory killing as many infidels as you can. Remember a few years after 9/11 when the space shuttle exploded upon re-entry. I remember the news talking heads making comments similar to: “Was this the result of terrorism and we should live in fear as they can reach out and touch us anytime they want, or was it an accident and you can go about doing your normal life?” Some of the folks in the news media, particularly the TV talking heads, are as crazy and self-serving as the politicians. Yes, we need to have a free press, but when they endlessly sensationalize this stuff I hope they at least have sleepless nights knowing they are largely responsible for egging on the next attack killing innocent folks.
Q: What can Americans do to stay more informed about national security issues?
A: As with many things in modern society this is a very complex issue and can be overwhelming to contemplate. I can’t stand even looking at this crap anymore and I spent a career in it. That’s why we hire elected representatives to deal directly with these issues. The main thing Americans should do is READ the United States Constitution. It’s a beautiful document and provides a working template on how our government is supposed to function. People need to start electing people into federal office that have a track record of supporting and abiding by the Constitution, or at least with a commitment to do so. When they step out of line we need to vote the bastards out. In extreme cases charge these people with treason and hold them personally accountable. Also, federal government whistleblowers need to have protections from retaliation that actually work, and hold government bureaucrats directly accountable when they do retaliate against dedicated public servants. The federal government is so big and so complex that it takes dedicated employees on the inside to make sure the respective bureaucracies and the policies they enforce stay on the straight and narrow. As I put in my book, after 9/11 I met over a hundred federal government whistleblowers, most of whom worked in the various agencies engaged in national security work. The stories they related and the retribution they suffered is nothing short of horrific. US citizens should demand that federal whistleblowers (who work in their behalf) are protected from retaliation and prosecute those who do retaliate against these dedicated federal employees.
Q: How were you selected to testify before the 9/11 Commission?
A: After 9/11 I had some communication with a few of the families of the 9/11 victims. It was my understanding that they pressured the commission to have me testify. Unfortunately, none of my relevant testimony is included in their final book. I’m a footnote on page 400 and something. The Commission also didn’t want to have any of the other good folks I worked with trying to prevent the attacks testify in front of them (namely Steve Elson and Brian Sullivan). More importantly, nor did they want the piles of documentation offered to them. The 9/11 Commission was an excellent whitewash in keeping the government’s bloody hands off the chopping block.
Q: What institutions do you think terrorists are likely to attack next?
A: I document in my book that I have a terribly good track record in predicting major terrorist attacks against the United States – and reference the documentation proving this. Not only 9/11 but others. I use the word “terrible” here because you cannot imagine what it feels like when you KNOW a major disaster is looming around the corner and try to prevent it only to be stymied by self-serving pin-headed politicians and bureaucrats whose only loyalty is their own pocketbook. Then after the attack you get beaten down by these same people for daring to threaten this system they thrive in. So I try not to even think about this anymore. My book is a last desperate attempt to shed some light on this deplorable situation in government and hopefully someone in the next generation will learn from this and start fixing this broken system. I do describe in my book, however, the methodology I used in making these very accurate predictions. Basically it entailed examining the world-wide terrorist trends by looking solely at open source material such as newspapers, periodicals, radio and even TV talking heads, etc. Apply a bit of Sherlock Holmes’ deductive reasoning; combining these two with a Red Team mentality (which helps put one in a frame of mind to think like a terrorist); and presto – you’ve got a really good chance of being right. Unfortunately this methodology is way beyond the capability of our illustrious intelligence, federal law enforcement and security agencies combined; these people couldn’t predict the timing of the next sunrise – at the cost of billions of tax dollars wasted. Generally though, depending on Trumps effectiveness; I think it’s a safe bet that lone-wolf type terrorists will continue targeting venues where lots of people gather around. What really has me concerned though is that critical infrastructures lag way behind the security measures required in this day and age. Not just from terrorism but from state sponsors such as China, North Korea and Iran. Fighting terrorism was easy, fighting bureaucracy and politics was what proved to be really difficult, indeed insurmountable. Hopefully our new President will start fixing things and hole these bastards accountable.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.