July 16, 2004

TERROR IN THE SKIES UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has checked out the story I linked earlier, and it's apparently true, at least in major outline.

UPDATE: Hey, maybe the whole story is really good news.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has still more information, and reports that the Washington Post has been working on the story, but hasn't published yet. On the other hand, Donald Sensing remains skeptical.

Daniel Drezner would like to see this get more media attention and investigation. So would I.

MORE: Additional thoughts from Spoons and Steven Den Beste on what people should do. More here, and here, too.

STILL MORE: Eric Scheie shares an experience from September of 2001. And reader Bruno Behrend emails:

I've been scanning the stories on the airline incident. As of yet, no one
is raising the possibility that these people on the plane are decoys to
distract attention from something more important.

Good point.

MORE STILL: Pilot reader James White emails:

1. I share Rev Sensing's skepticsm on most aspects of the report. There are a lot of details in the article such as those involving crew actions that are either flat out wrong or that she couldn't possibly have known enough about to assess things as she did. Based on subsequent news (like Malkin's confirmation of some aspects of the incident), I'll accept that the gist of her story is valid but embellished with uninformed speculation and conventional wisdom.

2. I find the idea that this was a suicide hijacking/bombing team (even on a dry run...) extremely unlikely - I don't know what the "chicken out" rate on suicide attacks is but I know there is one, and that alone dictates the smallest team possible for any suicide operation. It stands to reason that the greater the number of suicide attackers, the greater the possibility that one or more of them WILL chicken out and compromise the operation. I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised to discover that that was how we found out about the 1995 plot to blow up multiple airliners over the Pacific. And it's probably why you can build a reasonably strong circumstantial case that the "suicide mission" nature of the 9/11 hijackings was news to most of the hijackers.

3. I'll bet it's within the power of any number of entities (the Syrian government comes to mind given the passports in this case) to assemble a group of people with "clean" records who can be briefed on how to go right to the edge of behavior that will get you arrested in an effort to sow fear and uncertainty among our population. Is it possible this was a psychological operation of some sort? The one way tickets, the abnormally large group, the bizarre behavior on the airplane (assuming these details are accurate) all point to people who wanted to be noticed.

Hmm. Perhaps we should return the favor by leaving a horse head in Assad's bed.