U.S. Senate Describes the Threshold Conditions for Starting the 9/11 Wars in 1996 Statute

In the early to mid-1990s, there occurred a series of mass-casualty airplane disasters including TWA FL800, Valuejet Flight 592 in the Florida Everglades, the USAF Boeing 737 in Croatia that carried Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, AA Flight 965 in Buga Columbia, US Air Flight 1016 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and US Air Flight 427 in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, North Carolina. During this time frame, the Terror Timeline (http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/) shows that numerous airplane-related incidents and intelligence "discoveries" occurred which established the perception that a terrorist group headed by a Saudi national of the prominent bin Laden family had used and had planned to use airplanes as tools in a variety of terrorist acts. This collective history led the 104th Congress to craft legislation that amended title 49 of U.S. Code to "reauthorize programs of the Federal Aviation Administration, and for other purposes." This short report deals with one particular "other purpose" for this legislation, namely to describe the Congressional state-of-mind as of 1996 regarding the conditions necessary to trigger war between the United States and another country. Note that sections of this legislation dealing with family assistance (especially passenger list information) and airport security appear to anticipate other aspects of the 9/11 attacks.

This act started life as H.R.3539 and was finally given the short title: The Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996. This statute deals broadly with airport development appropriations, airport planning, airport safety and security, and procedures regarding assistance to families of airplane crash victims.

Below is Sec. 314, Sense of the Senate Regarding Acts of International Terrorism. Note that "sense of the Senate" is legislative language which tells the opinion of the Senate on a topic, but does not constitute law.
Public Law 104-264 Oct. 9, 1996 110 Stat. 3213

(a) FINDINGS. - The Senate Finds that -
(1) there has been an intensification in the oppression and disregard for human life among nations that are willing to export terrorism;
(2) there has been an increase in attempts by criminal terrorists to murder airline passengers through the destruction of civilian airliners and the deliberate fear and death inflicted through bombings of buildings and the kidnapping of tourists and Americans residing abroad; and
(3) information widely available demonstrates that a significant portion of international terrorist activity is state-sponsored, -organized, -condoned, or -directed.

(b) SENSE OF THE SENATE.- It is the sense of the Senate that if evidence establishes beyond a clear and reasonable doubt that any act of hostility towards any United States citizen, was an act of international terrorism sponsored, organized, condoned, or directed by any nation, a state of war should be considered to exist or to have existed between the United States and that nation beginning as of the moment that the act of aggression occurs.

By this definition at it's lower limit, the United States, in the sense of the Senate, can enter a state-of-war with just one act of hostility against one U.S. citizen by one person from another country deemed to have condoned the act. Well before 9/11, the Senate set the bar so low that a war-response to 9/11 was easily justified.