Monday, July 19, 2004

Annie Jacobsen Redux... (and rant)

Here are my thoughts on the second installment of Terror in the Skies, Again.  Actually, let me start out with a couple of the critiques. 
Donald Sensing used a misapprehension  (namely, a TSA "no-congregate" order) to draw the conclusion that Ms. Jaconbsen's story is simply fear-mongering and lacks objectivity.  He dwells over the fact that we learned "nothing new" about NWA flight 327.  That's a little silly: what if she had disclosed something "new" about Flt. 327?  Would Sensing have accused her of sandbagging the story: rendering the same effect of a three-part Dateline NBC shock piece?  Sure, he has criticisms about "objectivity;" but when imputed into the crux of the story, these concerns are irrelevant.  How objective would Walter Cronkite, Matt Lauer, Donald Sensing be on a hi-jacked flight?  But, let's not nitpick. 
As I said, the compelling nature of this story rests on its plausibility.  We are under a serious threat; and it's from a cunning enemy that is crazy but not stupid.  They took their dear time planning September 11th, and it was our ineptitude/naivete that allowed them to succeed.  We need to push the following out of our consciousness:  "Who would do such a thing?"  Go to lower Manhattan and you'll know. 
I don't blame Bill Clinton explicitly for 9/11.  I don't think his years of decadence and indifference helped much.  But, I always believe that if Bill Clinton had known this would happen, he would have done SOMETHING.  However, we can no longer plead ignorance.  That's what's so compelling about Ms. Jacobsen's experience.  No longer are these occurences the fodder of Tom Clancy novels and Bruce Willis movies.   It's quite real.  And, I'm sorry to say, it's not going away any time soon. 
The layman (you and I) couldn't possibly comprehend the depth of the efforts our goverment is devoting to this problem.  The September 11th commissions was convened to discuss our failures: not our successes.  When an FBI agent busts up a terror cell, when a CIA agent steals a CD-ROM, or when a Coast Guard cutter stops illicit weapons coming into our country, Congress doesn't convene a special commission to investigate the success.  If our Syrian musicians were in fact terrorists, Dave Adams isn't going to tell us.  For all intents and purposes, those 14 Syrians could be chilling in a cell in Guantanamo right now; and we are none the wiser. 
Because of Donald Sensing's reasonable skepticism and the blatantly naive ridicule of the World O' Crap crowd/conventional liberalism; we can see perceptions of not only the threat, but our political climate.  I think it takes a little bit of hubris to demand objectivity during such a harrowing moment.  While her fear might undermine the story, the facts (at this point) certainly don't seem to. 
However,  I'll take Donald Sensing's high standards over the condescension of the World O' Crap crowd any day.  It takes a special type of cycicism to gloss over this story and say,  (paraphrase) 'What a racist, emotional, white, WASPY snitch.' 
As far as the nature of the article, it turned out exactly as I thought it would be.  She presents a problem, and then solves it (end political correctness in the Terminal).  I don't think it gets any simpler than that. 
I'm flying to Seattle in August.  I can't wait.  Am I scared?  Nah.  Neither should you.  No one is asking for you to be afraid. 
Vigilance, on the other hand, could go a long way. 


At 6:11 PM, Blogger Mojo said...

I think you've missed the point here. You state, "She presents a problem, and then solves it (end political correctness in the Terminal)". However, there is no indication of political correctness as a problem in this episode. What should have been done differently in absence of alleged PC restraints? They all went through security (everybody does). The author has no way of knowing whether or not any or all of them were subject to additional screening because she was on a connecting flight so she didn't see them go through security. Should they have been banned from flying at all? Should they have been strapped into their seats? Should they have been tackled immediately when an American citizen expressed suspicion? Since Al Qaeda is known to recruit non-Arabs, including blonds, who specifically is "safe"? She gives no specific actions (related to PC issues) which should have been taken that weren't. What we really have here is a poorly researched, hysterical rant. There are no PC policies in place right now that compromise security and implying that there are just feeds the fear and actually aids the terrorists. Note, there were a few security breakdowns alleged here, but none related to PC. FAA rules forbid loitering near the cockpit. Confirming whether air marshalls are on a flight or not is a crime. Releasing flight information of passengers is ethically wrong and probably a violation of FAA rules.

BTW, enjoy your upcoming trip to Seattle. I just got back and it's a beautiful city. The airport is also easier to get through now that most of the construction is done.


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