Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

PANIC IN THE SKIES....Via Armed Liberal, local radio station KFI has yet more about the Annie Jacobsen "Terror in the Skies" story today:

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 passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service.

....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.

....Federal agents later verified the musicians story.

We followed up with the casino, Adams said. A supervisor verified they were playing a concert. A second federal law enforcement source said the concert itself was monitored by an agent.

We also went to the hotel, determined they had checked into the hotel, Adams said. Each of the men were checked through a series of databases and watch-lists with negative results, he said.

Bottom line: the Syrians were searched in Boston before they boarded the plane, the flight crew was not concerned about their behavior, air marshals were aboard and checked the lavatory after the Syrians used it, there was more concern over Jacobsen's panic than over anything the Syrians did, and their story was thoroughly checked out after the plane landed. There was no reason to kick the Syrians out the emergency exit without a parachute and no reason for the plane to land before it reached Los Angeles.

The sad part is that I'll bet none of this satisfies Jacobsen. Her memory of her panic will keep her convinced that she was right no matter what the evidence says, and there will be plenty of people out there to egg her on. As Barry Glassner says, we live in a culture of fear and as this episode shows, law enforcement probably spends as much time fighting fear itself as it does fighting actual terrorism.

Kevin Drum 12:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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