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July 22, 2004

I left this one alone...

...because other people were all over it and I didn't have much to say.

Nice little article on NRO today the gently kicks the media (and blogosphere, a bit) in the teeth for being, well, slackers.

This guy googled his away around and found the band on Annie Jacobsen's scary flight.

This guy doesn't pooh-pooh what Annie said in her piece... but he did ask the questions I was asking. With all that was going on that was in violation of the protocols in place on every flight I've taken lately - how come no one - no one - on that flight did this?

Now, by that I certainly don't mean that the interceptors should have scrambled or the passengers should have started swinging Chardonnay bottles as soon as the oud player took too long in the john. But evidently no one even engaged these guys in a conversation, and no one, not the flight crew, and not the air marshals, challenged their egregious violations of protocols about congregating near restrooms or standing up in unison as the plane started its descent. Nothing was done to alleviate the terror Jacobsen, and probably a lot of the other passengers, felt.

That's the bit that annoyed me - not Jacobsen's disquiet or (depending on your politics) un-pc attitude about it all.

This is the bit that get's me. Put me in Clinton Taylor's corner here.

Liberals will likely decry the suspicion and interrogation the musicians faced on Flight 327. And the principled Right will regret that that was necessary. If the band's English wasn't very good they might not have understood the instructions. But a polite word and some helpful gestures earlier on, rather than a guilty PC silence, might have saved them some embarrassment. In any case, the police-state parallels fade quickly: In a real police state, like, oh, Syria, you are not even allowed inside the country with an Israeli stamp in your passport.

June 29 was no ordinary day in the skies. That day, Department of Homeland Security officials issued an "unusually specific internal warning," urging customs officials to watch out for Pakistanis with physical signs of rough training in the al Qaeda training camps. The warning specifically mentioned Detroit and Los Angeles's LAX airports, the origin and terminus of NWA flight 327.

That means that our air-traffic system was expecting trouble. But rather than land the plane in Las Vegas or Omaha, it was allowed to continue on to Los Angeles without interruption, as if everything were hunky-dory on board. It certainly wasn't. If this had been the real thing, and the musicians had instead been terrorists, nothing was stopping them from taking control of the plane or assembling a bomb in the restroom. Given the information they were working with at the time, almost everyone should have reacted differently than they did.