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I just clued into the other thing that bugs me about the Annie Jacobsen story. Michelle Malkin, among others, writes smugly that this event highlights the stupidity of a policy against secondary questioning of more than two Arabs per flight. See also Ann Coulter’s racist whine, which Annie Jacobsen cited in her original article.

But Annie Jacobsen also noted that the 14 Syrians on her flight were… pulled aside and questioned in LA. This was confirmed by government officials. So, ah, doesn’t that kind of undercut the concept that the airlines have a policy against questioning groups of Arabs?

A lot of people aren’t thinking that one through. Or, more to the point, they’re assuming that a policy restricting “secondary questioning” means that airlines can never under any circumstances pull aside more than two Arabs per flight.

It’s also worth noting that the original source for the information about this policy, John Lehman, never said that he knew the policy was in effect. He said he thought it was still in effect; which, of course, was reported without the element of uncertainty inherent in “I think.” Paying attention is hard! And why should Mr. Lehman worry about getting the details right in something so important as the 9/11 hearings, anyhow? They seem like a fine forum to promulgate unverified beliefs about our security.


  1. Lauren Lauren

    You’re right. Paying attention is hard. If you had paid attention, you would have noted that the 14 Syrians were interviewed after their suspicious activities by guess who? The FBI, FAM and TSA, not Northwest airlines. Seems silly, as Ann Coulter correctly pointed out, that the airlines who can be sued by passengers for allowing unsafe conditions that contribute to a tragedy on a plane are not given the right to take necessary measures to provide safe conditions by selectively screening suspicious looking people. Very few people look like Arab terrorists bent on killing people. Why not pay special attention to people who look like Arab terrorists?

  2. So… if it’s OK for the TSA to interview multiple suspicious Arab passengers, then what exactly is the problem here? It seems to me that the TSA are exactly the people who’re supposed to be in the business of preventing the wrong people from getting on-board airplanes, and that they have the right to do so.

    Also, and I’m going to be harsh about this because this is my blog and I’m in a lousy mood: you’re a stupid idiot. I am eternally grateful that the security of my country is not in your hands. The stupid, foolish assumption you’re making is that people who look like Arab terrorists are more likely to be terrorists, which is plain wrong.

    The risk of paying more attention to people who look like Arab terrorists is that you will pay less attention to people who don’t look like Arab terrorists, and that those people will be the ones blowing up your planes.

  3. Lauren Lauren

    Sorry. Retraction. I needed to pay more attention. I see that you weren’t talking about the airlines themselves but the TSA, and I made a stupid assumption. Of course it’s the TSA that is screening passengers, not the airlines themselves.

    I stand behind my comment about screening and paying special attention to people who look like Arab terrorists. It’s silly to not pay special attention to young, male Arabs with obvious accents who are non-naturalized citizens. That’s the profile of the 19 men who killed thousands on September 11, 2001. They are a very small percentage of the flying public. Certainly a lot of harmless Arabs will be discomfited–as we all are right now–but that’s the price of heightened security imposed by the war declared on us by Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, until we render them harmless.

  4. Lauren Lauren

    I’m curious to know what other groups in recent history, going back about 20 years, have declared war on us that we should be watching out for? With the exception of the Oklahoma City bombers (an entirely different security problem), it has been exclusively Arab terrorists. Their trademark is hijacking airliners or blowing up car bombs. In the last decade it has been suicide bombs. Are there any other groups that we should be paying special attention to?

  5. Bill Bill

    “Laura” and the other guy are idiots. You try to make the point that the TSA DID CHECK these mid-eastern men UPON ARRIVAL. What good does a check post flight do, if they were actually going to blow up the plane in flight. The passengers, crew, and air marshalls had all due reason to be frightened. Lastly, when was the last time that Swedes, Mexicans, or the Chinese commit acts of terrorism in the U.S.? Never. So, profiling of people who look and act like terrorists SHOULD be done. The facts were all there in Ms. Jacobsen’s story. These guys were on a “dry-run” to see what/how best to blow up an AMERICAN plane.

  6. bill bill

    Sorry for name mess-up. Meant for “Lauren” and “Bryant” and any other idiot that thinks profiling is inherently fascist and evil without thinking about the facts. These idiots have and will never listen to reason…

  7. The second most brutal act of terrorism on American soil was carried out by two white guys from Middle America, as Lauren mentions. Good catch. Jose Padilla, the guy who came >

    Or go read this report. What would you say if I told you that federal authorities seized 500,000 rounds of ammunition and over 100 bombs from a terrorist cell in the middle of the US? What if I said that one of them had made a cyanide bomb capable of killing hundreds? I’m sure you’d be very satisfied to learn it was Arabs; alas, this was — once again — Americans. White Americans.

    Maybe the name Eric Rudolph rings a bell. It should; he killed one and injured over a hundred people during the 1996 Olympics. With a bomb. He was not in the least bit Arabic.

    The most significant terrorist nexus in the world, by number of incidents over the last five years, is Latin America. Typically, terrorist acts down there are kidnappings designed to raise money. How long before some clever ELN member tries his hand at kidnappings up in the US?

    And you guys are still missing the point. If we’re to take the story at face value, that flight was full of air marshals. Think! What does that tell you? The system worked. Someone said “Hm, it’d be a good idea to put a couple of people on this flight just in case.”

    But no; for some strange reason this case, in which the government had a potential system under control from the moment it came to their attention (well before the plane took off), is heralded as evidence that we’ve got to start profiling.

    Even though the system worked.

  8. Asher Ailey Asher Ailey

    It’s unfortunate that in a country that prides in its rich diversity and deep cultural mix, we allow a nobody named Annie Jacobsen to turn speculation into a conspiracy theory. Annie Jacobsen’s story is based on a connection of dots of incidents that ultimately meant nothing. Quite simply, we cannot and should not be alarmed every time a person of Middle Eastern descent stands up on a moving aircraft and heads to the lavatory. Articles like Jacobsen’s only turn back the hands of time and incite hateful, cruel and completely unneeded racism.

    We are in the process of forming People Against Annie Jacobsen, P.A.A.J

  9. Jennifer Jennifer

    Having read the Annie Jacobsen account and also read all of the comments posted on this site (up to mine) I have to say this: America, and unfortunately Americans, have gone supernutso when it comes to political correctness. Granted, “supernutso” isn’t a word, but forgive me just this once, will you? If not, I really couldn’t care less. I don’t care WHO you are, or what you look like. If you are flying on a flight with me and you and 13 of your buddies are being so freaking suspicious, I’m going to do everything in my power to take you out. If that means braining you with your own clarinet, so be it. You shouldn’t be hogging the bathrooms. And I cannot understand why no one has mentioned the fact that the stupid air marshals on this flight did NOTHING but sit on their butts while these guys built a bomb. They didn’t build a bomb, you say? What prevented them from doing so, I say. Nothing. No one stopped them from meeting in groups around the bathrooms, no one asked them to return to their seats, no one did a darn thing to stop what could have been another 9/11. If they were black, white, mexican, english, irish, italian, scottish, or french, it doesn’t matter. Any group of people who acts in this manner are up to something not good. And if it turns out that they all just had some bad mexican food at lunch in Denver, so be it. Do something!

  10. Sorry, Jennifer, but you’re wrong. The Syrians were searched — all of them — when they got on the plane in Boston. Thus, what prevented them from building a bomb is very simple. They didn’t have any bomb parts.

    Turns out that the air marshals were in fact worried that Annie Jacobsen was a terrorist who was trying to get them to reveal themselves. She was under at least as much suspicion as the Syrians. Think she should have gotten clobbered with a clarinet?

  11. Jennifer Jennifer

    Bryant, since you are the undisputed know it all of bomb making, what exactly do you think constitutes bomb parts? Can you use components from a camera to make a bomb? How about a cell phone? Would that be helpful? No? Well, then, a video camera, an expensive (or inexpensive) watch, or any number of other electronic devices (such as handheld games, etc.) readily available for purchase at most international airports? Could those be utilized as bomb parts? And could a group of people traveling seperately carry on materials (keeping in mind that a large explosion is not necessary to take down an aircraft as all you truly need to do to put the craft in danger is to puncture the skin of the craft at the altitudes that they travel) that are not necessarily explosive by themselves but when added with other materials become explosive? Think real hard on this one. Or don’t, since you haven’t thus far. Walking around with your eyes closed works for you, does it? Funny, the rest of us tend to trip over things that would be easily avoided if our eyes were open. Hmmm, what a great analogy to our current international situation….

  12. OK, Jennifer, you’re a complete idiot who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. You can make up these little paranoid scenarios in which a ballpoint pen and a airplane meal are turned into a bomb; however, the rest of us are living in a world in which MacGuyver is a fictional character.

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