20 July 2004
Related DNC insecurity report by James Atkinson: http://cryptome.org/dnc-insec.htm
James Atkinson, Granite Island Group, writes on a threat to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, July 26-29:
The Boston Medflight helicopters to Massachusetts General Hospital will have normal operations during the Democratic National Convention and they will have an extra helicopter in service during this time period.
Spaulding will not be accepting helo flights on their pad, and anything going into Shriners will go to the the Beth Israel roof and then to the ground there. I would be most concerned about "MedFlight 2" as it holds a huge amount of fuel, and can fly at over 200 MPH (with 2,000+ pounds of cargo), and has an extremely high operating ceiling. The French-made Dauphin II flown as MedFlight2 is a popular military model/variant and would most likely be the aircraft if a terrorist was planning on snatching and using it as a flying bomb (after easy-to-obtain flight training).
A 7300-pound helicopter, slamming into either the DNCC or nearby building at over 200 MPH would rip a huge hole in the building, plus the resulting fire due to the extended fuel capacity (350 gallons) and the lack of safe egress from the Fleet Center presents some serious problems. There are no ground level exits from the Fleet Center, and the entire North and East faces of the building are completely exposed to any incoming high-speed air traffic so a hijacked/stolen helicopter or airplane attack would be devastating. The Fleet Center is quite literally "built on stilts," and an timely emergency evacuation is quite impossible (especially in a stampede of burning Democrats).
While having a "36-mile no-fly zone" around the Fleet Center may make the general public all warm and fuzzy, it does not fool someone who realizes that modern aircraft can cover an entire six-mile by six-mile "no-fly zone" in less then 90 seconds, and that a 200 MPH helicopter can penetrate the 3-mile radius and impact the target before anybody could do anything to stop it. In fact an attacker in a helicopter located 20 miles away could start its engine, take off, hug the road (fly low on the Interstate) and slam into the Fleet Center before the FAA controllers even knew there was a bird in the air.
With over 19,000 seats in the building, plus staff, security, police, catering, and other support people, the number of people occupying the building could easily exceed 20,000 (plus protestors, etc., just outside the building). When you consider the low percentage that could quickly evacuate the building in the event of an emergency (i.e., fire) the casualties could exceed those experienced during the 9/11 attacks.
The Fleet Center is perhaps one of the worst possible places to hold this convention. You would almost think the Republicans selected it.