the hysterical skies update

Zack puts things in much needed perspective, and points out the analogy to the Alligator Alley incident, where again the accused were completely inncoent, but in this case ended up losing their medical residency in Florida due to death threats against them. And wait until you read about Ansar Mahmood.

I'd also like to note that the Reverend Donald Sensing, whose reaction to the Alligator Alley incident I found particularly odius and offensive, has been a voice of reason on the "hysterical skies" incident. Kudos to you sir, and my apologies for my earlier umbrage.

NRO solves the mystery of the unknown Syrians. But true to form they are more concerned with:

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.

Their outrage over such "egregious violations of protocols" apparently does not include why airline stewardesses would confide in the presence of US air marshals on the flight with a passenger. Priorities noted. I've egregiously violated the supposed bathroom protocol myself many times, as noted above, and an air marshal has yet to body-check me, but I'll keep you all posted.

Reporters from KFI AM 640 in Los Angeles actually got comments from the air marshals aboard the flight, who reveal that the entire thing was an over-reaction by Mrs. Jacobsen and that their main concern was that she would panic the other passengers, and blow their cover. Excerpts:

Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, �overreacted,� to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS.
�The lady was overreacting,� said the source. �A flight attendant was told to tell the passenger to calm down; that there were air marshals on the plane.�
Jacobsen and her husband had a number of conversations with the flight attendants and gestured towards the men several times, the source said.

�In concert with the flight crew, the decision was made to keep [the men] under surveillance since no terrorist or criminal acts were being perpetrated aboard the aircraft; they didn�t interfere with the flight crew,� Adams said.

The air marshals did, however, check the bathrooms after the middle-eastern men had spent time inside, Adams said.

FBI agents met the plane when it landed in Los Angeles and the men were questioned, and Los Angeles field office spokeswoman Cathy Viray said it�s significant the alarm on the flight came from a passenger.

�We have to take all calls seriously, but the passenger was worried, not the flight crew or the federal air marshals,� she said. �The complaint did not stem from the flight crew.�

Several people were questioned, she said, but no one was detained.

Jacobsen�s husband Kevin told KFI NEWS he approached a man he thought was an air marshal after the flight had landed.

�You made me nervous,� Kevin said the air marshal told him.

�I was freaking out,� Kevin replied.

�We don�t freak out in situations like this,� the air marshal responded.
The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen�s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.

Air marshals� only tactical advantage on a flight is their anonymity, the source said, and Jacobsen could have put the entire flight in danger.

The bottom line is that Jacobsen put the plane in more danger than the musicians - by forcing the marshals' hand. If you're a passenger, stay vigilant, but keep calm and don't freak like Jacobsen did. Just stay calm, and observant. Clearly Jacobsen thinks she's a hero, but in reality she was the real problem aboard that flight.


Andrew said...

You know, the last part of that NRO article (the words to the effect of "It was all okay, but we should still be very, very worried about Arabs on our planes") seemed to me like it was very much a pro forma thing. It's now a standard talking point of the right wing media that we must vigorously profile. The result of that consensus is that such a sentiment gets tacked onto an article whose whole point is that it was a false alarm. The conclusion felt forced to me, and the article would have been better without the last few paragraphs.

Razib said...

i liked the carrot top references.

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