WHAT?!?

A jaw-dropper in today’s Washington Times:

A second pilot said that, on one of his recent flights, an air marshal forced his way into the lavatory at the front of his plane after a man of Middle Eastern descent locked himself in for a long period.

The marshal found the mirror had been removed and the man was attempting to break through the wall. The cockpit was on the other side.

Pardon me for shouting, but WHAT?!?

If that little anecdote is even remotely accurate, why the hell wasn’t it reported to the public? Don’t give me any bureaucratic BS about “ongoing investigations” or “we don’t want to spook the big fish,” either. If a “man of Middle Eastern descent” was caught trying to break into an airline cockpit, we damn well ought to know about it before he’s had a chance to try out the shiny new toilet in his maximum-security holding cell.

And if this is a matter of being politically correct and not ‘profiling’… then the hell with you, Norm Minetta. Your personal squeamishness is not worth risking the lives of the people you’re supposed to be protecting. That goes for you too, Tom Ridge.

UPDATE: In the comments, Jeff Harrell says,

I think there’s an argument to be made that keeping thwarted terrorist attacks secret is a key aspect of our strategy in this war.

My reply: I can see where you’re coming from, but I don’t agree. Among other reasons, I’d be too afraid that people will get lulled into apathy again if reports about possible terrorist attempts get squelched. No attempts might mean they’ve given up, right?

Speaking as somebody who flies–a lot–I want the people around me to be part of a very alert pack ($1 to Instapundit). I’m not going to hope there’s a sky marshall on board–I want my countrymen to be just as aware of the threat, and just as ready to deal with it as anybody with a government badge.

And damn it, if some freaking jihadi was really trying to break into a cockpit, I want to know about it! And I want all his buddies to know that he got the ever-loving crap kicked out of him by the infidels that caught his sorry ass.

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25 Responses to “WHAT?!?”

  1. Steve Says:

    Nothing to see here. Please move along. We’re fromt he govenrment, and we’re here to help…

  2. Steve Says:

    Nice to see fear of racial profiling trumps the lives of innocent travellers.

  3. Mike M Says:

    These stories have been floating around but they’re not getting much play. No idea why. The government may not want to panic people, or the media might not want to focus attention back on the war on terror, but someone ought to be getting this story out. Air travelers ought to have a right to know that terrorists have essentially been practicing for hijackings…

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20040721-101403-1508r.htm

  4. Jeff Harrell Says:

    Will, I’d like to hear your opinions on this. Short version: “The Americans, they are much tougher than we thought. We sent fourteen shuhada to strike them down, but they were never heard from again. Our attack was not even considered newsworthy by their CNN International. What have we accomplished, other than sending fourteen good Muslim men to their deaths? Perhaps we should consider a different course of action.”

    I think there’s an argument to be made that keeping thwarted terrorist attacks secret is a key aspect of our strategy in this war.

  5. pedro Says:

    Jeff, I appreciate the secrecy angle, but I don’t think it washes here. There are too many passengers, flight attendants, and pilots involved. And if it were secret, the marshals themselves wouldn’t be talking. It looks like fear of racial profiling to me, and a PC bumbler for SecTrans.
    And the worthy muslims are not lost to the cause. They may be fingerprinted and added to the database, but they’re already here in the country, ready to spray automatic weapons fire across your local shopping mall.
    Let’s keep the Men of Middle Eastern Decent out of the country until the WOT is mostly won.

  6. Will Collier Says:

    Jeff, I read your post, and I can see where you’re coming from, but I don’t agree. I’d be too afraid that people will get lulled into apathy again if reports about possible terrorist attempts get squelched.

    Speaking as somebody who flies–a lot–I want the people around me to be part of a very alert pack ($1 to Instapundit). I’m not going to hope there’s a sky marshall on board–I want my countrymen to be just as aware of the threat, and just as ready to deal with it as anybody with a government badge.

    And damn it, if some freaking jihadi was really trying to break into a cockpit, I want to know about it! And I want all his buddies to know that he got the ever-loving crap kicked out of him by the infidels that caught his sorry ass.

  7. MartiniPundit Says:

    Terrorists and Airplanes

    The stories are proliferating. I will say that if Annie Jacobsen did nothing else, she's concentrated attention on the ongoing airplane fetish of the terrorists. I have not personally observed any such behavior on aircraft, but the very number of …

  8. denise Says:

    There was information of this type before 9/11 too (e.g., the James Woods incident).

    But the info did not get to the general public. And that is the one thing that could have made a huge difference on 9/11. But not only is the 9/11 Commission not talking about it, it appears the government and press have not learned that lesson.

    Disclose the truth too the people, and we can do a lot to protect our country (a big scar in a Pennsylvania field is proof).

  9. Lance Says:

    Yep, if I’m on a plane, and somebody starts acting weird, I’m standing up first and apologizing later. With both feet firmly on the ground after a safe landing.

  10. InTheBullpen.com Says:

    More Airplane Terror

    Women

  11. Cybrludite Says:

    If us not knowing the specifics about failed attack attempts means that the bad guys don’t know what went wrong or even if their guys are alive or dead, I can live with that. I don’t want these SOBs to be able to learn from their mistakes & get it right the next time.

  12. cauthon Says:

    “It’s a probe. They are probing us,” said a second air marshal, who confirmed that Middle Eastern men try to flush out marshals by rushing the cockpit and stopping suddenly.

    Has this happened more than once? Does anybody really know definitively just what the hell is going on on our airplanes?

    Trying to flush out air marshals sounds like end-stage activity. All the other parts of the plan are wrapped up, just tying up loose ends, etc.

    If we suffer another successful air attack, I blame the media. Not racial profiling, not Norm Mineta (though I do think he should be handed his hat), and not structure (as the 9/11 commission focuses on). Awareness is the only thing that can keep us safe. As a nation we hold the worlds biggest spotlight. Where are the media?

  13. pete Says:

    Jeff- Terrorism, from the dawn of time, has had damn near a 100% failure rate. Yet, terrorists still exist. i don’t think their stoppin’ any time soon. In fact if they dont make it on CNN I’ll bet they figure their not tring hard enough.

  14. erp Says:

    Aren’t the mirrors in aircraft lavs made of some shiny metal and not glass.

    And … why was the air marshall racial profiling? I’m surprised he wasn’t brought up on charges.

  15. Sydney Carton Says:

    erp,

    I suspect the marshall was “racial profiling” because he thought that the suspected Jihadi was going to destroy the goddamn plane, you idiot.

  16. punslinger Says:

    I think all determinations of what should be secret and what should not should be voted on after informed debate.

    Wait, then they would not be secret, would they?

  17. David Gillies Says:

    If I’d been one of the passengers on that plane when Richard Reid tried to detonate his shoes I would have been doing my level best to kill him. Not restrain him, kill him. I rather like the response that a couple of hijackers got when they tried to take over an Ethiopian Airlines flight. They were overpowered, and a couple of airline security people asked for a load of towels to be put on some seats. Then they tied the hijackers down, looked ’em straight in the eye, and cut their throats.

    Yeah, brutal. Whatever. I’m on record as saying I’d hang 90% of the population of Camp X-Ray. The other 10% I’d shoot.

  18. Publicola Says:

    I keep going back to my Jefferson; specifically his thoughts on prefering the inconveniences of too much liberty rather than too little.

    I’ve been wondering this for quite some time (even before the Taking Scissors Away people got organized: where is the part that says “except in airports & airplanes”? It has to be somewhere in the 2nd amendment, otherwise the feds wouldn’t be able to deny passengers the most effective means of self defense.

    A lot of the panicking over “men of middle eastern descent” doing questionable things on planes (& trying to break ito a cockpit via the lavatory is at minimum questionable) could be eliminated if A: pilots were armed & B: passengers were’nt prohibited from exercisng their Right to Arms.

    It’d be replaced by soccer moms & nanny-state advocates fretting over a “columbine in the skies” but I think it’d be much preferable to have them worry over such unlikely possibilities than it is for use to keep hearing bits & pieces about attempted hijackings or “test runs”.

    We live in a country where a disrespect of the people’s Right to Arms made it possible for 19 men with boxcutters to kill 3,000+ in about an hour. Am I the only one who sees the problem not as being inefficiency in taking potential weapons away from passengers, but rather that the government, despite written prhibitions on such activity, is making them incapable (or at least ineffecient) in their own defense?

    Stop making airports & airplanes “2nd amendment free” zones. That will make us relatively safer.

  19. MarkD Says:

    I take this as a good news/bad news thing. Good news because the Al-Qidiots haven’t come up with a new plan, and we know how to stop the old one. The bad news is we can’t do it because the America-hating liberals masquerading as civil rights advocates are telling us we can’t can’t do it and the government, for reasons I can’t understand, is letting them.

    Eventually we will defeat Al Qaida and any other outside enemies can be defeated, it’s the enemies within that I’m not so sure about.

  20. Nick Says:

    http://schweitn.blogspot.com/2004/07/so-whats-more-important-here.html

    This is a huge story (more on VodkaPundit). Where is the massive air play? Why the tiny little mention in the Washington Times? Here the 9/11 Commission is criticizing everyone from former President Clinton, to current President Bush, to members of Congress for not seeing the warning signs and doing something about it. Now we have warning signs all around that this is going to happen again, and hardly anything is being reported. Would someone care to explain to me why? I personally have a few theories, ranging from pretty sane and rational, to a pretty off the wall. I’ll share them all anyway.

    Theory 1: The federal investigative services looking into these events are trying to keep this quiet so as not to create a panic. While I can see something to that, I think it’s stupid. People who are on these flights have every right to know the risks. They need to know what to look out for. They’re lives are at risk here, and if there is something they can do to prevent tragedy, they should know about it. After all, they are the ones who will have to prevent these tragedies. This is probably the most reasonable theory, but that doesn’t mean I like their reasoning.

    Theory 2: The media is not reporting this because they see the other stories as having more traction against the current administration. Still more deaths and kidnappings in Iraq, embarrassing tidbits are still to be found in different reports coming out on 9/11, and there is work to be done deflecting criticism against Democratic candidates and their advisors. You just can’t report everything now can you? This theory is probably still pretty reasonable, and not mutually exclusive with Theory 1.

    More theories on my blog… 🙂

  21. Jeff Harrell Says:

    I respect the folks who disagreed with my take on it. I’m not convinced, though. A fundamental premise of operational security is to keep your methods secret from your enemy. There’s absolutely no reason why anybody needs to know how many air marshals we have or how many attempts at shenanigans they thwarted last month.

    I’m still on the fence about it.

    Riddle me this, though: if it’s true that we’re being probed regularly, and since it’s certainly true that we haven’t been the victim of a terrorist attack in the air since 9/11, how can it also be true that HomeSec and the TSA aren’t doing enough to protect us?

    Maybe I’m naive but from where I sit it looks like it could break one of two ways: either there have been attempts at funny business and our security agencies have protected us admirably, or those agencies aren’t doing their jobs and we’re lucky that nobody’s tried anything so far.

  22. New England Republican Says:

    Another Terror in the Skies Update

    I was watching Joe Scarborough on MSNBC last night and he was discussing the Terror in the Skies story (see previous posts here, here, and here). He had a reporter on from WNBC, Scott Weinberger, who reported that the 14 Syrian band members on the f…

  23. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Stephen Green
    RE: They Call It a “War”, People

    And everybody is ‘involved’, one way or another.

    So, everybody should be (1) aware of what is going on around them and (2) ready to do something proactive about it, if something ‘interesting’ happens.

    The only way to have ANY chance of surviving in a ‘close ambush’ is to take IMMEDIATE and VIOLENT action against the enemy. And the government cannot be counted on to help you in every circumstance. Something to do with personal responsibiity, I guess. After all, it’s YOUR ‘person’.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Remember, you are responsible for national security. — Old Army adage]

  24. Chuck Pelto Says:

    P.S. A healthy sense of paranoia keeps free men alive on the field of battle. And, these days, we’re ALL on the ‘field’ of play.

  25. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Jeff & pedro
    RE: Reporting

    I’ll opt for the reporting of such incidents. Tell me about every one of them.

    But then again, I’ve been raise in such an environment.

    I suspect the driving force behind NOT reporting them is the airlines paranoia about dropped business.

    The blood, next time, will be on THEIR hands.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)

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