“We Don’t Freak Out In Situations Like This.” Chill Pill, Anne?

OK, who was the threat?

LOS ANGELES | July 22, 2004 – 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.

(hat tip Patterico)

Read the whole thing.And I’ll go back to my earlier comment about

Similarly, there are two competing narratives we can construct out of Jacobsen’s story.

On one hand, a dry run or failed mission by a group of terrorists, as she suggests.

On the other, a group of foreign musicians, already somewhat out of place, being bad-vibed beyond belief by the rest of the passengers, and so acting with a less-then affable demeanor, and doing what I’ve done in the past when flying with large groups of people, which is to walk around and congregate so we can chat.

What makes me anxious is the level of blind fear and rage that this story provoked. Comments like “eject them midair” were made, which makes me worry both out of concern for the innocent (except of being Middle Eastern) who will be affected by this (and I’ll note, whose opinions of the West will be lowered) but because when we start acting out of unthinking rage, we risk losing the fight.

I’ll refer readers back to this post:

…in the actual conflict, in the actual decision to fight and fighting, I’ll take Cooper’s ‘concentration’ and Musashi’s ‘settled yet unbiased’ spirit. Showing anger – standing in front of the enemy or potential enemy, and frothing at the mouth in rage – does two bad things. First, it helps create a fight where it might have been possible to avoid one. And second, if your enemy is at all strong, it shows weakness.

Update: I forgot to include the best quote from the article at all…in fact, I think it’s so good it ought to be a national motto:

“We don’t freak out in situations like this,” the air marshal responded.

I’ll buy that guy a beer anytime.

“We Don’t Freak Out In Situations Like This.” You betcha.

140 thoughts on ““We Don’t Freak Out In Situations Like This.” Chill Pill, Anne?

  1. I think this says it all:

    “We don’t freak out in situations like this,” the air marshal responded.

    Good.

  2. But of course we do see what the “entitlement” and “victimology” society of the past decades has wrought.

    Being Middle Eastern males, do they not have genuine obligation to at least be cognizant of the nature of the world around them by, um, it’s a lot to ask, but NOT “standing up after the crew has announced that landing approach has begun and seat belts are mandatory”, and the like?

    I would note many would say it is “unfair” to expect certain people to be a smidge more, um, “sensitive”, to such things and to act, or not act, accordingly. I would also note that Japanese-American males by the thousands were rounded up for concentration camps, and then went on to join the US Army, where they fought with extraordinary courage, valor, and loyalty. Does it bother any of us to know that we have created a society where that sort of forgiving loyalty, and belief in freedom despite it’s flaws will NEVER be seen again…. EVER? Imagine what academics would say to those Japanese-American soldiers today about their decision to fight and the context in which it was made. Those days are gone, forever.

    One other point, I have not seen this mentioned at all, and am surprised. Does it occur to anyone that this group of Middle Eastern males, feeling aggrieved (yeah, that’s a stretch), just decided to Eff with us all? They WERE totally innocent, and they acted like terrorists casing the joint, knowing that their reasons for flying were unimpeachable, they carried NOTHING suspicious or illegal, and that all they did was “act weird” in a way that five years ago would have meant nothing. It’s very possible they are NOT in any way related to terrorists. They are young men playing games with us…. quite successfully.

  3. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
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    “they acted like terrorists casing the joint”

    How? By using the bathroom and speaking to each other? What would you have them do, remain in their seats for the whole flight and pee in their pants?

    I don’t even buy the notion that these men were “playing games” with anyone. I think the only place where games were being played was within the confines of Annie Jacobsen’s head.

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  4. Every time I read about this, I keep asking myself the same question – if Jacobsen and other passengers were concerned about what these Middle Eastern men were doing, why didn’t they walk up to them and try to start a civilized conversation, just to find out more about them?

    That seems like the most reasonable thing to do – at least, it’s more reasonable than outing an air marshal.

    (although I’ve heard that they’re pretty easy to spot – if Jacobsen’s article helps them work harder to blend more into the normal passenger population, that would be a good thing)

  5. Anne Jacobsen has the inalienable right to stop flying or going to any public places where those nasty foreigners might ruffle her feathers (or scales).

    The human experience is a shared one. Does flying with Arabs make you nervous? Tough shit. Stay home.

    Everyone has a right to their personal neuroses. What they don’t have is the right to infect the commons with it.

  6. Somehow I don’t expect the WoC and One Hand Clapping commenters who babbled that liberal weenies are in denial, don’t understand 9/11, over-value civil liberties, sabotaged the passenger screening program, are sheeple, hate America, and worst of all won’t vote for Bush are going to show up on this thread.

  7. Andrew J. Lazarus (4:39pm):

    That would qualify as an ad hominem attack, I think. Straw men or red herrings, why bring them up? Why start a “flame war”?

    Many commenters here do subscribe to the idea that important aspects of our civilization are threatened by militant Islam, and that one small part of that problem is the continuing threat posed to domestic civil aviation by people–militant Islamists–associated directly or indirectly with Al Qaeda or the International Islamic Front.

    In open comments, some people are going to write in to say, “Islamist terror? What Islamist terror?” Others will chip in with “throw ‘em off the plane?” For a discussion to be useful (the signal), these posts (the noise) have to be only a small part of the conversation.

  8. OK, without assuming “she was right” or anything, let’s just take a look at what she said.

    “For the next hour, the men congregated in groups of two and three at the back of the plane for varying periods of time.”

    “In a quiet voice she (stewardess) explained that they (crew) were all concerned about what was going on. The captain was aware. The flight attendants were passing notes to each other…”

    “About 20 minutes later the same flight attendant returned. Leaning over and whispering, she asked my husband to write a description of the yellow-shirted man sitting across from us.”

    “Finally, the captain announced that the plane was cleared for landing……… The fasten seat belt light came on and I could see downtown Los Angeles. The flight attendants made one final sweep of the cabin and strapped themselves in for landing…… Suddenly, seven of the men stood up — in unison — and walked to the front and back lavatories….”

    “I have since learned that the representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Federal Air Marshals (FAM), and the Transportation Security Association (TSA) met our plane as it landed.”

    Now, in a word….. c’mon. Either she is flat out lying in all of the above, or we can assume that there was enough activity, innocuous singly, but suspicious as whole, to alarm…. “the stewardesses, the captain, the FBI, the LAPD, the FAM, and the TSA”. Other than that, no big deal, I guess.

    I’ve omitted a number of things that she wrote that they did that, I agree, taken alone, are no big deal. But ya know what? Not one of us writing here was on that plane (I assume). Whatever happened, it was enough to set a significant number of people’s radar ablaze. Just one of the examples…. Final approach and SEVEN guys stand up to use the bathroom?? Pardon my French, but What the F***? I don’t buy it. Somebody is playing games here.

    So, given that they were (I assume) questioned and cleared, I stand by my assertion that these guys were pretty in tune with what they were doing, and were largely playing games. MAYBE one has an AQ brother and he’s reporting back details, maybe not. But either Jacobsen is lying…. Not paranoid, not misinterpreting… but lying….. or SOMETHING was going on on that plane.

  9. Go ahead libs, keep whistling past the graveyard.

    *This* time, everything is OK. *This* time, the Syrian passengers were legit. But if they had not been, then many people could have died. Because they were not challenged by the authorities in any way. And the behavior *was* suspicious.

    So what is your message? Go back to sleep, America? Forget it.

  10. ‘But either Jacobsen is lying…. Not paranoid, not misinterpreting… but lying’

    Exaggerating is the term I would have used. When you’re scared (and Anne was clearly freaked out), its easy to exaggerate normal responses. For instance, maybe one or two of the Syrians stood up when landing, and Anne though that everyone had stood up.

    I wasn’t on that plane — I can’t tell whether her actions were sensible or not. I would say that they were probably not unreasonable. But, and this is important, her continual insistence after the fact that they were terrorists on a dry run, that was aborted, and that the government didn’t check them properly at any place and let them go tends to reduce her credibility greatly in my eyes. Even the topic of her message is “Terror in the skies”, which is admittedly accurate, since Jacobsen seemed to be terrified, but that is not the interpretation that Jacobsen puts on it.

  11. Yeah, right, Eric. So by your logic, every time a cop sees a thugged out kid, they should perform a felony stop, right? Can’t be too careful, and, after all, gang violence has killed a lot more Americans than terrorism has.

    So when they follow your advice, and start doing that, three things happen. First, and foremost, crime goes up, because the cops are spending all their time proning out and processing would-be hip-hop stars; meanwhile real criminals get to enjoy a virtually police-free street. Next, as the number of false positives skyrockets, fatigure and boredom set in, and the police themselves start doing a sloppy job. Finally, we create a bunch of kids who have neither fear nor respect for law enforcement (and the government behind it). Success all around, eh?

    Should we pay attention to groups of Syrians travelling around in this country? Of course. What does that attention look like? Probably pretty much like what happened, with the exception of one overwrought writer, who’s doubtless out shopping her book deal this week. Her contribution to the safety of her family and fellow passengers was nil – in fact, it was negative, as was the contribution of the hysterical guy who walked the homeless guy of the the building at UCLA with me. He not only made a confrontation more likely through his behavior, but managed to be an obstacle I would had to deal with if things had gotten all furry and bad.

    If you think I’m against winning the war on terror, can I suggest that you spend an hour and read my stuff? Hyperventilating isn’t an effectiveantiterror technique, last time I checked.

    A.L.

  12. Erg –

    You’re missing the primary point…..

    Is she “exagerating” the stewardess telling her “we are all aware”? Asking her to “write a description”? Jacobsen was not the one who called authorities, the crew was. And whatever the crew said to them was enough to get no less than three federal and one local law enforcement agencies to meet the plane.

    So is it your assertion that these flight professionals were themselves “exagerrating”?

    My primary issue is, either she is telling the truth that the crew and other passangers were “exagerating” the situation exactly as she was, or she is lying. She is NOT just “one witness” here….. unless we are being given “facts” in her article that are not mis-interpatations, but lies. I don’t think that is the case, but there are too many others involved here for this to be one woman’s paranoia.

  13. “This time, everything is OK. This time, the Syrian passengers were legit. But if they had not been, then many people could have died. Because they were not challenged by the authorities in any way.”

    Except that this isn’t true. The air marshals checked the bathrooms, the Syrians had already been searched, and they were being monitored throughout the flight. If they had not been legit, they would have been stopped.

  14. Eric Coe suggestions: “Because they were not challenged by the authorities in any way.”

    Incorrect. They were searched by TSA in Boston. They were searched again on the ground in Las Vegas. And the TSA followed up with the hotel that they were performing at.

    You should be applauding the TSA on their diligence and success, not running around warning that the sky is falling.

  15. And, according to this latest article, the gig was cased, they were fingerprinted and entered into the system, etc. etc.

    So can someone pleeeeeeeease articulate what, if anything, the Feds did wrong here?

  16. In the dog that didn’t bark category, this story has now gotten a fair amount of play. My expectation was that other passengers on that flight would have come forward via comments on Sensing’s or Malkin’s web-logs or phone calls to Jacobsen or the NYT. “Yeah, it was scary!” or “What’s she going on about?!” Nothing yet, to my knowledge.

    This absence might suggest that events were scarier to Jacobsen and her husband than they were to most of the people on the plane.

    A story from NY is that some anarchists are planning to celebrate the Republican Convention by riding the subway with backpacks containing stuff that smells like explosives to bomb-sniffing dogs. As suggested earlier in the thread, it seems fair to wonder whether some of these Syrian musicians, feeling hostility or ‘disrespect,’ decided to use their behavior in the same way–to make a statement by acting ostentatiously “suspicious.”

    It’s another layer of difficulty that we (society) has to contemplate and discuss. Flagging people mimicking terrorists isn’t a “false positive,” but it’s not a “true positive” either. I think concerns that we are willing to sacrifice our civil rights because of the “political” actions of non-terrorists is justified. On the other hand, most of us remember that story about the Boy and the Wolf, and strive for a happier ending than he found.

    These considerations hold true whether the musicians on the flight were figuratively flipping the rest of us the bird, or whether they were doing the equivalent of “driving while black,” as some have claimed.

  17. Exactly my point AMac –

    These guys are feeling all grumpy and pissy about the deal in general, and decided to eff with us all, quite successfully, it appears.

    Occam’s Razor…. the most likely scenario is probably the truth.

  18. To praktike: far as I can tell the Feds — FBI, TSA, marshals — did nothing wrong. Their attention was directed to something and they examined it; nothing out of line with police-detention procedure, it seems. No wrongful arrest or conviction.

    My only worry might be whether their attention was misdirected in incidents like this, that they were wasting their time when they could have been watching other passengers and aircraft. That’s the trouble when someone fibrillates like this — or, worse, when something like CAPPS II picks out the wrong passengers and the bad guys still get through.

  19. “Is she ‘exagerating’ the stewardess telling her ‘we are all aware’?

    Sure, that’s entirely possible; how would we know? We weren’t there; all we have is the account of an apparently extremely hysterical woman. Even taking the above as definitively, literally, true (which we can’t), if I were an attendent, and I was faced with a woman having a crazed panic melt-down, I’d certainly sooth her as best I could by trying to allay her fears by telling her something like that, even if she was reacting to George Washington and the Continental Congress on the plane.

    The point is, we have no idea; the account of a single person, already cast into major doubt, simply can’t be replied upon. If four or so other direct witnesses come forth, that’s another story.

    […]

    “Asking her to ‘write a description’?”

    An excellent way to distract someone, let them feel that something is being done, that they are being taken seriously, even, again, giving this any credibility at all (which there is no reason to), or assuming it wasn’t a case of “should I write a description?” “Yes, definitely do that, please” being described as “I was asked to write a description.”

    “Jacobsen was not the one who called authorities, the crew was.”

    Prudent, and no harm involved, but hardly evidence of anything other than 14 Arab men and a hysterical passenger.

  20. my problem with all the comments on this is that theyre all binary – they assume either the Syrians WERE doing a probe, or they werent. In fact we dont know. The searches etc prove only that they werent doing an attack. OTOH there behaviour DOES seem suspicious. Would it not be more correct to say “there is a 10% probability that they were doing a probe” ? Of course they could not be arrested on that basis, pace Ms. Jacobsen, but is the general focus on probes wrong? Wash Times reports airline employees and others suggesting there have been multiple apparent probes recently.

    My apologies to all the black teen males in hoods i see on city streets at night. I dont think they should be arrested for that – but I dont regret crossing to the other side of the street, either.

  21. Hysterical or not, what her story brought to my attention was the ridiculous ruling (guideline?) by the TSA not to screen too many middle eastern men.

    Just last month I flew down to California from Oregon on a business trip with five co-workers. Four of us were white males and one was an Indian male. We all had purchased our tickets at the last minuet, and to save money we were using two different airlines, one to go down, and one to return.

    Each of us was taken into the high security line and thoroughly searched. We all assume it was because of the nature of our plane tickets.

    Now however I learn that if all of us had been middle eastern we would not have been searched because they would have looked like profiling? That is what makes me see red. That rule needs to be changed this instant.

    Something is seriously messed up if the least likely group (white males with American citizenship) are allowed to be searched the most while the most likely group (middle eastern males) have some artificial search limit put in place for some made up PC reason. I can understand the argument for why pure profiling is bad, but it is idiotic to me to check and see if you happen to meet some profiling match after you have used non-profiling methods to get your initial match.

    I agree though, after the screening I am happy with the way the government handled things. I worry though that action after the fact will be pointless.

  22. I know the story checked out and all, but am i the only one who finds it odd that a Vegas casino books a band from Syria of all places?? This isnt like the Smithsonian folk festival, and internation tickets cost money, and there are musicians who play mideastern music right here in the US.

    Call me paranoid, or just not up on Vegas “culture”.

  23. I know the story checked out and all, but am i the only one who finds it odd that a Vegas casino books a band from Syria of all places?? This isnt like the Smithsonian folk festival, and internation tickets cost money, and there are musicians who play mideastern music right here in the US.

    Call me paranoid, or just not up on Vegas “culture”.

  24. liberalhawk –

    First, what makes you think that the possible responses are binary? The issue is that you need to look past appearance ant to behavior in making decisions; all good self-defense classes teach you this (Ted Bundy, anyone?). By getting completely hung up on appearance, you spend all the attention you have, and can’t pay as much attention ot behavior.

    Go read this, it’ll give you an idea of what I mean by the distinction.

    A.L.

  25. Washington Times

    ‘Her account was confirmed by David Adams, spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), who said officers were on board and checked the bathrooms several times during the flight, but nothing was found.
    “The FAMS never broke their cover, but monitored” the activity, Mr. Adams said. “Given the facts, they had no legal basis to take an enforcement action. But there was enough of a suspicious nature for the FAMS, passengers and crew to take notice.’

    “THERE WAS ENOUGH OF A SUSPICIOUS NATURE FOR FAMS .. TO TAKE NOTICE”

    Has Mr. Adams since retracted his statement? If FAMS thought the behaviour, NOT just the appearance, was enough to take notice, why is everyone insisting that there was nothing to see here, and FAMS checking it out was a response to a hysterical woman?

  26. liberalhawk –

    If the FAMS on board had thought the behavior was an issue, the Syrians would be in seats with cuffs or zipties on their wrists.

    The FAMS were on board because someone said – “Huh. 14 one-way tickets to guys with Syrian passports. Let’s make sure we keep an eye on this.” Keeping an eye on it is a good thing. Running in circles screaming ans shouting isn’t.

    A.L.

  27. i read your article about the Latino programmers. Im glad you didnt shoot them ;) I see nothing particularly paranoid or hysterical in your getting nervous. And I would suggest that what the Syrians were doing was rather more suspicious than some youths arguing – maybe it made sense in terms of their culture, maybe not. But FAMS found it suspicious, and i fail to understand the attacks on Ms. Jacobsen for finding it suspicious.

  28. But liberalhawk, I wasn’t nervous, I was attentive. Does that difference make sense to you? I saw something potentially of concern, and would have paid attention until I decided that either a) it wasn’t of concern, or b) it was of enough concern to go to the next level, which would have been to go chat them up (or leave the premises).

    What concrete action was Jacobsen proposing or precluded from? I set out a very explicit thing to do in situations like that:

    So what would I have done? TG wanted to know, and the answer is pretty simple. I’d have walked up to them and chatted. Annoyingly cheerfully. “Hey! How you doing? You waiting for the bathroom, too? Where are you guys from? Where you going? Isn’t that cool?” Their responses – both verbal and nonverbal – would have determined what happened next.

    A.L.

  29. might i add that every day on the DC metro the PA system asks passengers to report “anything suspicious” to metro authorities – thats also been the word from Tom Ridge to citizens in general – with NO specifics on what is to be considered suspicious.

    And now when someone DOES report something suspicious, shes held up to public ridicule? Hardly a good way to encourage citizen vigilance, is it?

    Ok, citizens, you can help win this, please report suspicious behavior, but if it turns out youre wrong, or even that its probable that youre wrong, than prepare to be called a paranoid, racist, hysteric.

    I very much doubt that Israelis take this attitude. I hope we continue to have the luxury of taking this attitude ourselves.

  30. One of the previous commenters could be paraphrased thusly:

    “Since they were searched, and the bathroom was searched, it is impossible that they were doing anything other than, perhaps, a dry run.”

    1) There’s a hole in the bathroom.
    2) Innocuous items _can_ be dangerous in knowledgeable hands. Even forcing all the passengers into orange jumpsuits and allowing _zero_ carry on luggage is not enough _IF_ someone was left alone in the bathroom for 4 hours.

  31. liberalhawk,

    Maybe the FAMS themselves were drawing attention. Note the recent NY Times article on the “marshals’ dress code”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/17/politics/17marshals.html.

    And in any event there is a difference between reasonable suspicion — that exact concept is what law enforcement is trained in — and simple hysteria, especially when it misdirects security personnel.

    One question I have for j about his flight from Oregon: was the Indian male with you of Asian and not American Indian extraction? If the former, was it all possible your group _was_ profiled? A fair number of Americans would confuse, say, a Sikh from an Arab, and a recent ACLU case involving a person barred from flying had a Bangladeshi as a party.

    Food for thought.

  32. well maybe thats why im not an “armed” liberal, but i would think that in such a situation reporting it to the flight attendant is preferable to trying to handle it oneself.

    When you mentioned your level going to orange i used the term nervous – perhaps vigilance is a better term – anxiety is really a form of vigilance that our bodies are evolved to use – if you prefer attentive thats fine (I see nothing shameful in ones parasympathetic system engaging at a time of danger – there are reasons we have it, it can be functional)

  33. “when it misdirects security ”

    Sigh. But according to FAMS, they WERENT misdirected. Even if Ms. Jacobsen WAS hysterical, the behavior she pointed out WAS suspicious, and DID warrent being checked out by FAMS. I think the problem people have is with her SUBSEQUENT article – nothing she did ON THE PLANE led to ANY misdirection of security personnel.

  34. As many have iterated there are still several points that need to be addressed that are beyond the sequence or telling of events.

    First a couple of things to prove a point that drives to the heart of the issue.

    You’re a gambler and you like the casinos especially the roulette tables. You follow the game and play red all the time forget about the numbers. Once the wheel is spun it’s a 50 / 50 chance the ball lands on red. It does and you win so you play red again and you win. Now if this happens every time you play you have to wonder about several things:

    1 – Why isn’t everyone playing red?
    2 – Am I really that lucky?
    3 – Am I controlling the ball and wheels movements?
    4 – Is the wheel rigged so it only lands on red?

    Having determined red is always a winner you would be foolish to play black regardless of the odds.

    What did I do?
    1 – I discriminated against black removing all possibility that black will ever win.
    2 – In doing so I’m only interested in red and now I might look at the numbers to increase my newly found windfall.

    Here’s the rub. Common sense is not being applied given the odds of who will or will not commit terrorism. Should ME(s) be more of a suspect in committing terrorist acts? I think we can all agree this is a set we need to observe. Is it the only set? No. I would agree Annie doesn’t pose a threat as much as ME(s) simply because of the odds but I can’t rule her out? or Can I?

    Annie is I assume and American citizen, is a frail looking woman from what I’ve seen of her during her interviews on TV, is white, has a child with her, is traveling with a male companion. I assume she has been put through all of the rigors as I have myself to board that plane.

    As a passenger, crew member, or sky marshal. What I don’t know is Annie recently converted to Islam, the companion is a friend, the daughter belongs to the male not her, she has papers in her briefcase that contain correspondence with her ME husband telling and instructing her to observe the actions of the plane’s crew, sky marshals, and passengers when the team of ME(s) on the plane carry out their pre-planned routine. Finally she is to write the article to show all Americans how vulnerable they are and scare the living S— out of them. In effect causing reactions based on emotion not logic.

    My point being here, is all of this ludicrous? Yes. Can we trust the people we have made responsible for our safety? In Annie’s mind no? In my mind it’s still up for debate as to whether we have done all we can do and what means to accomplish the end goal of safety.

  35. look – we’ve got an anonyous source saying one thing, and the official spokesman for FAMS saying the exact opposite – also on the question of whether FAMS broke cover.

    If the source is true, than Adams is lying. Rather more important than if Ms. Jacobsen is hysterical, no?

    Of course since Jacobsen made a fuss in her ARTICLE, and said some things that make people uncomfortable, there COULD be an attempt to smear her. No there couldnt be, anonymous leaks are NEVER used that way, right?

  36. I, for one, find this story comforting.

    A large group, all male, from a country that is a known state sponsor of terrorism, gets on a plane after going through metal detectors. Federal air marshalls follow them on board and monitor the situation, making sure that the bathroom is clean. After the flight, the Syrians are detained, questioned, their records are checked out, and their story is confirmed. They are entered into a database along with biometric identifiers. Their concert is watched. Seems like the system is pretty good.

    What’s the problem?

  37. prak

    I see no problem – but according the anonymous source in the LAT story, the Marshalls identies were compromised cause of a hysterical woman, who turns out to be the real threat – indeed our overreaction to suspicious behavior by middleeasterners is the REAL threat. So theres a BIG problem.

    Pardon, but i suspect an agenda.

  38. So can someone pleeeeeeeease articulate what, if anything, the Feds did wrong here?

    You mean, besides failing to note that the Syrians were flying on expired visas, even after copying the visas and passports for the official report?

    Armed Liberal, I understand the point you’ve been making in your series of articles, but there are a few differences between your situation with the homeless guy and the air flight in question.

    First, you presumable had many options in dealing with the homeless guy. If a serious threat had emerged, you presumably had other ways out of the building, rooms you could hide in, phones you could use to get help … in other words, to a fair degree you were in control of the amount and kind of interaction you could have with him. Secure in that, you opted for a low key approach.

    Passengers in an airliner 25000 feet up don’t have the same set of options. In fact, they are by the airline and TSA rules mostly passive and not in control of decisionmaking. To be sure, they can decide to engage in conversation, but beyond that there is little they might do except, perhaps, attack hijackers if the hijacking is obvious.

    Second, AL, in your exchange with the homeless guy, you were not responsible for protecting your very young son or daughter. And THAT makes a very large difference.

    Add the two together: very limited options, no safe way out of the plane if a dangerous situation was emerging, travelling with one’s young child …. and in this situation your suggestions carry less than convincing weight with me, despite the fact that I’m sympathetic to your desire to encourage people not to panic.

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    “Pardon, but i suspect an agenda.”

    Yes, on the parts of Annie Jacobsen, Michelle Malkin, and all those who are trying to use this story to push through their “lock up the A-rabs and seal our borders” agenda. If you look at Malkin’s latest post, you’ll see that even her accusation that the men had overstayed their visas doesn’t necessarily check out. The closer one looks at this story, the less there is to it, and yet we’re supposed to believe that the problem is with the skeptics?

    There’s a phrase to use to describe a thesis like this one that has been immunized against all falsification – it’s called a “conspiracy theory.”

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  40. “…the ridiculous ruling (guideline?) by the TSA not to screen too many middle eastern men.”

    Do you have a cite for this, please, or is this just an unsourced rumor?

  41. This is my favorite detail:

    “‘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.”

    So, was the concert any good? What does Syrian lounge music sound like? What was the set list?

    * (That would be Dave Adams, the spokesman for FAMS, quoted extensively, by name, in the KFI piece. And yes, that’s the same David Adams quoted in the Moonie Times piece.)

  42. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
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    “Do you have a cite for this, please, or is this just an unsourced rumor?”

    It’s just another urban legend (as I’ve already noted on my own blog).

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  43. Abiola Lapite,
    What’s with the PGP? Are you really that worried about someone spoofing your name or changing your comments?

  44. “Sure”:http://www.womenswallstreet.com/WWS/article_landing.aspx?articleid=711&Titleid=1&titlename=&start=13695

    “During the 9/11 hearings last April, 9/11 Commissioner John Lehman stated that “…it was the policy (before 9/11) and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that’s discriminatory.” ”

    It is in her original story, and she goes on to say how United Airlines, Continental Airlines and American Airlines all were fined by the DOT for “discriminating against passengers who appeared to be Arab, Middle Eastern or Muslim”.

    As I said what I find to be ridiculous, and dangerous, is any rule that will punish an airline for sending multiple men through higher security, even if they were selected by non-discriminating means (say because they had one way tickets) just because it looks like they were discriminating.

    This is what worried me about her story. I agree with praktike that after suspicion was raised the government did a great job. My concern is with the fact that no extra screening was done before hand out of some PC fear.

    I know that we will never be able to raise a flag on every possible set of suspicious circumstances ahead of time. I also agree with what USMC was saying about making sure to check as many things as possible. In the end it will be air marshals and average passengers that will make the difference I am sure. Still the risk is greatly increased when you deliberately do not take advantage of screening possible red flags ahead of time.

    Oh and if this really has been discredited I would love to learn that I am getting upset over nothing. Have a link to your blog Abiola Lapite?

  45. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
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    “What’s with the PGP? Are you really that worried about someone spoofing your name or changing your comments?”

    Uh, yes – at least the name spoofing part. It isn’t merely a theoretical worry either, as I’ve certainly seen it happen often enough – check out Jay Allen’s ordeal for instance:
    http://www.jayallen.org/journey/2004/05/from_troll_to_doppelganger

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  46. bq.. “Sure”:http://www.womenswallstreet.com/WWS/article_landing.aspx?articleid=711&Titleid=1&titlename=&start=13695

    “During the 9/11 hearings last April, 9/11 Commissioner John Lehman stated that “…it was the policy (before 9/11) and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that’s discriminatory.” “”

    p. No, a cite. A verifiable citation. Not an assertion from someone whose accuracy is in question. Please give me a citation that is verifiable for a) Lehman having said this; and b) verification that it is accurate.

    Otherwise, this response is as useful as if I claimed the moon is made of red cheese, and then offered a “cite” of my having said so on my blog. Now, if I could cite the Encyclopedia Britannica….

    The 9/11 commission hearings on online. Please give me the URL for the transcript of Lehman saying this. I’ll settle for that without asking for a cite for the regulation in the Federal Register.

    ” Have a link to your blog Abiola Lapite?”

    Um, try clicking on his name, of course. Or look here. (Thank you, Abiola.)

  47. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
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    “Oh and if this really has been discredited I would love to learn that I am getting upset over nothing. Have a link to your blog Abiola Lapite?”

    Yes – see the first trackback to this post.

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  48. “So can someone pleeeeeeeease articulate what, if anything, the Feds did wrong here?”

    Well, perhaps they should have stripped the musicians, put hoods on them and guarded them with dogs at the back of the plane. I’m sure that would have made Annie feel more secure.

  49. >>”Pardon, but i suspect an agenda.”

    >Yes, on the parts of Annie Jacobsen,

    >>”What’s with the PGP? Are you really that worried about someone spoofing your name or changing your comments?”

    >Uh, yes – at least the name spoofing part. It isn’t merely a theoretical worry either, as I’ve certainly seen it happen often enough

    Nice irony Abiola. Annie Jacobsen was worried about her life on a flight. You’re paranoid about your “good name” on the internet.

  50. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
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    “Nice irony Abiola. Annie Jacobsen was worried about her life on a flight. You’re paranoid about your “good name” on the internet.”

    Ergo … what exactly? That bigoted paranoids should be freely indulged? Ever heard of the story of the boy who cried wolf? This woman’s hysterical actions actually *increased* her risk of losing her life, as the air marshals pointed out in the linked article. Methinks *you’re* the one who has a paranoia problem – harassing all swarthy foreigners simply for breathing may make you feel better, but it won’t do a damn thing for security.
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  51. What interests me most about this whole story is the trajectory it has taken in going from one end of the discussion to the other.

    When it first made the rounds on the ‘net, the majority opinion that I noted might be summed up as “What a scary story – we are NOT doing enough to safeguard our airways from terrorists!” Some fairly… strident… views about middle-eastern men in particular were expressed.

    Now we’re at the other end: “That hysteric! Why, I NEVER would have overreacted like that. There was no problem at all!” There is even a suggestion, right here in this very comments section, that the whole thing is really part of some grand conspiracy to round up the “A-rabs” and presumably put them in detention camps or some such.

    Good grief.

    Given what Jacobsen described, can anyone honestly say that they would’nt have been mightily concerned in her place? I know I would have been. This is a PLANE people. It crashes and you die. There is not a lot of margin for error. And to write the whole thing off as hysteria on her part does sort-of ignore the fact that the flight crew was also concerned enough to alert the authorities on the ground. Would they have done that if they thought it was just one passenger acting skittish? I think not. And would the FAMS have bothered to search the lavatories – multiple times – if they thought the only strange behavior was coming from Annie? Come on.

    If we extrapolate it too far either way – “round up the Arabs” on one end, and “Nothing to see here but a paranoid kook” on the other, we do a great disservice to everyone trying to puzzle out how to keep our airlines safe in the best possible way, without steamrolling over the rights of law-abiding citizens (regadless of race or ethnicity) while we’re at it.

    What I’d like to know is this: given that we KNOW 100% of the hijackers on 9/11 were middle-eastern males, and given that it is reasonable to expect that the next attempt to bring down a plane (or two, or more) will also be undertaken by middle-eastern males, how do we account for that without taking steps that many (including me) would be deeply uncomfortable with?

  52. “KNOW 100% of the hijackers on 9/11 were middle-eastern males,”

    Correct.

    “and given that it is reasonable to expect that the next attempt to bring down a plane (or two, or more) will also be undertaken by middle-eastern males”

    That, we don’t know. It’s “fighting the last war” thinking. The 9/11 Commission report specifically states that al Qaeda learns very quickly — far more so than we have tended to do — and changes tactics in response to measures taken against them. Expecting them to repeat what they did two and a half years ago is quite unwarranted, and focusing on that belief is Maginot line thinking.

  53. BooPear:

    given that it is reasonable to expect that the next attempt to bring down a plane (or two, or more) will also be undertaken by middle-eastern males,

    But is that a reasonable assumption? As has been mentioned before in recent threads on this site, look at Richard Reid, John Walker Lindh.

    As I believe I’ve mentioned before I suspect it may be necessary to give increased scrutiny to Middle Eastern men. I don’t relish that situation—it’s been thrust upon us. But it’s clearly not sufficient.

  54. “”…A member of the 9/11 Commission was incorrect in telling… that the Federal Aviation Administration used a quota restricting the number of foreign passengers that could be subjected to secondary screening at one time. Despite the testimony… cited in your column, secondary screening of passengers is random or behavior-based. It is not now, nor has ever been based on ethnicity, religion or appearance.””

    Thank you for the link Debby.

    So it seems that the quote from her first article was correct, but the commissioner him (her?) self was incorrect. Lets hear it for follow up.

    As that was the main part of her story that bothered me (the actual reaction of the various federal agents during and after the flight seemed to be exactly what I would want them to be doing) I feel much better now. In hindsight I suppose it was just easy to get caught up in the tone of her article and thus assume something really was messed up with a policy or procedure.

    So I guess I will say that I am glad she wrote it, even if I think she took the wrong tone which could cause people who did not dig very hard to draw the wrong conclusions.

  55. Amac: I’m the one making an ad hominem attack?? Puhleeze. Just go back and read the comments sections, or where Armed Liberal and Donald Sensing [look for sheeple remark in this post] talk about the viciousness of the criticism directed at them.

    And the rumormongers won’t give up. Now it’s about the Syrians’ visas being expired: allegedly sure proof that they’re up to no good. Now, I’m not sure the FBI is the world’s best police force, or even close, but how could they be so stupid as to overlook this? (And if they were, how could that be the liberals’ fault?) I like Sensing’s explanation that the “expiration” date being cited here is the last day the visa could be used to enter the United States, after which it expires entirely 60 (or 90, etc.) days later. I do know that at least some US visas have such a “use-by” validity date, and that seems much more probable.

    j: I think there is some confusion between airlines’ screening and TSA screening, and between random screening and screening for cause. The airlines aren’t really in the screening business, and restrictions on their screening don’t interest me nearly so much as what the TSA screeners are doing. And the story right here is that suspicious behavior (like cash tickets) gets you extra attention for cause. So does my sister-in-law’s artificial metallic hip. So, one suspects, do 14 Syrian travellers, especially those with prostheses and musical instrument cases. But that doesn’t stop Joe Scarborough. Here’s how he signed off yesterday’s show: [my emphasis]

    We would also ask any people that flew on that flight, No. 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles, where the 14 Syrians were running all over the plane and some people believe may have been doing a dry run for a future terror attack, if you were on that flight that the FBI is investigating, that other homeland security officials are investigating, please contact us.

    Can you imagine that? That “some people believe” gimmick.

    That wasn’t all Scarborough had to say. Furst, there were several minutes with his “investigative reporter” on the anonymously-sourced expired visas. I guess if he had gotten FBI comment, it would have spoiled the “gotcha” fun. Then he brings on his guest, “the author of the upcoming book, ‘Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11.’” Yeah, and I’m the one with the ad hominem attacks.

    Andrew X: Consider the possibility that the flight attendants, crew, and law enforcement were there to mollify a hysterical, paranoid passenger—and a cursory double-check of the Syrian band members. All the “corroboration” of Jacobsen’s story is really the hypochondriac claiming corroboration from the presence of an examining physician, nurses, and lab techs.

    Sensing’s latest speaks for me:

    Also, I now retract my previous claim that in fact “nothing actually happened aboard Flight 327. It’s now obvious that something did: an American husband and wife panicked for no reason whatever and potentially put the flight in jeopardy.
     
    In fact, I now think I was much too generous and tolerant of her in my previous posts. She should be deeply ashamed and should say so in her next piece on WWS. But I’m not holding my breath.

  56. BooPear
    _”how do we account for that without taking steps that many (including me) would be deeply uncomfortable with?”_

    That is precisely what is at the root of the matter. Is it reasonable to screen everyone? Metal detectors, hand held wands, x-ray machines, strip searches, the list goes on and on.

    What is reasonable? Two flights to every destination one for luggage and one for passengers? All passengers, crew members, pilots must travel nude no exceptions?

    Fortified cockpit doors, armed pilots, sky marshals, and detection devices are the best we are doing now. What more do we want to do? Give the crew members mace possibly AK 47’s. As you say it is a question of comfort with limitations.

    The issue concerning ME being highly suspect and treated differently because of their beliefs or origin is a valid argument even if the odds favor such treatment. It doesn’t address the entire range of possibilities. This I believe is what is driving everyone loony.

    We are a nation of diversity. We have been from this nations inception and will continue to be for as long as this nation exists. I doubt this will change and it definitely rules out isolationism. Should we have controls on diversity? If so what kind of controls?

    On the other hand I don’t think we can ignore that the issues we face pierce the soul and fabric of American culture and beliefs. To continue with current or past policy and do nothing is sheer folly.

    Citizens must have a vested interest in this nation and its’ beliefs to effect changes required for self preservation. Fortunately we can make some choices but they should be sound, logical and benefit all.

  57. Andrew J. Lazarus (10:50pm):
    Amac: I’m the one making an ad hominem attack??

    Well, here’s what you wrote (4:39pm):

    Somehow I don’t expect the WoC and One Hand Clapping commenters who babbled that liberal weenies are in denial, don’t understand 9/11, over-value civil liberties, sabotaged the passenger screening program, are sheeple, hate America, and worst of all won’t vote for Bush are going to show up on this thread.

    Pointing out that “they started it, and besides, other people are even worse!” is an unusual approach for somebody with a reputation for thoughtful commentary.

    See the Donald Sensing smoke-but-no-fire post that you reference, where he manages to refer to Michelle Malkin’s somewhat inflamed commentary in a civil fashion. And credits her website with the notion that “expired visa” is not synonymous with “overstaying.”

    The point is to keep things signal-rich and tolerably civil, or the interesting commenters will drift off to other conversations.

    Pace my earlier comments, I’m not convinced that this was simply the story of a panic-prone reporter. But I’m not ready to sacrifice my civil liberties for illusory absolute security. I suspect that in the end, my position and yours are not all that far apart.

  58. and … just for the record:
    ———
    1. FIRST PRESIDENT EVER TO BAN RACIAL PROFILING

    President Bush is the first President ever to ban racial profiling on the federal level. Shortly after taking office in 2001, President Bush directed the Attorney General to develop a specific plan of action to end racial profiling at the federal level, stating that “[i]t’s wrong and we will end it in America.” The Justice Department issued final policy guidance barring federal law enforcement officials from engaging in racial profiling in June of 2003. [SOURCE: DOJ Press Release, “Justice Department Issues Policy Guidance to Ban Racial Profiling,” 06/17/2003]

  59. I suppose the basic concept is that, if your’e a passenger, the next time a plane is hijacked, you can decide whether you want to die on your ass or on your feet.

    Those are your choices, so if you give a damn at, all choose the man most likely to minimize the necessity of making the choice.

    Thanks Annie, some clarification was necessary.

  60. Gary & Dave re my statement:

    “given that it is reasonable to expect that the next attempt to bring down a plane (or two, or more) will also be undertaken by middle-eastern males”.

    If your argument is that there are non-middle eastern males who might be interested and / or willing to participate in a 9/11 or similar style attack, you won’t hear me disagreeing. It is indeed a possibility, and one which should not be overlooked.

    But would you be prepared to agree that for every Lindh there are very likely — what? 100? 1,000? Saudis, Syrians, Egyptians, who might hold the same interest? We could argue the ratio for a while, I suspect, but it wouldn’t change the thrust of what I’m saying: a betting man’s got to put his money on middle-eastern males.

    Gary — re: the Islamofascists being adaptable. I won’t argue that point with you, either, but I will say this: my view is that they have to work with the materials at hand, and I don’t think they’ve got a tonne of Lindh’s queing up. Maybe some, but not a lot. And, Mark Steyn’s already done a much better job than I ever could pointing out just how willfully “the system” turned a blind-eye to many of the eventual hijackers before 9/11, despite some of the pretty obvious “terrorist-y” stuff they were up to that should have been noticed but wasn’t. So I’m not quite prepared to accord them evil-genius status just yet.

    What it boils down to for me is this: do we really want to take the chance that we might overlook the next batch of them, too, for nothing more than a fear of offending?

  61. “what? 100? 1,000? Saudis, Syrians, Egyptians, who might hold the same interest?”

    No. The point is that there are just as many Pakistanis, Indian Muslims (particularly from Kashmir), Baluchis, Tajiks, Indonesians, Iranians, Muslim Filipinos, and on and on, who are as apt to be terrorists, not a single one of whom of the millions of possibilities are “Arabs,” and with the exception of Iranians, none of whom are from the “Middle East.”

    I don’t understand why this point is so hard to get across. Was Hambali an Arab from the Middle East? The largest Muslim nation in the world is Indonesia, and the Bali bombing was one of the worst terrorist acts from an al Qaeda-affiliated group. This is not obscure information. I could list further incident after further incident: were the attempted Singapore bombers from “the Middle East”?

    “What it boils down to for me is this: do we really want to take the chance that we might overlook the next batch of them, too, for nothing more than a fear of offending?”

    Yes, I agree. And what we can’t be afraid of offending are the feelings of those who seem to not understand where most Muslims live, and what their ethnicity is, and where terrorist acts have been committed, besides the “the Middle East.”

    Other than that, I’ve not said a word about “not offending” anyone, nor has anyone else in this comment thread, so that’s an argument with people who aren’t in this conversation about some non-existent (in this conversation) political correctness.

  62. Gary, I hate to break it to you, but in the 9/11 report, KSM explains that the vast majority of those who trained in the camps were Saudis. Which is why 15 Saudis hijacked planes on 9/11.

    Waving your hands in the air about Indonesia doesn’t change that.

  63. BooPear
    _”Mark Steyn’s already done a much better job than I ever could pointing out just how willfully “the system” turned a blind-eye to many of the eventual hijackers before 9/11, despite some of the pretty obvious “terrorist-y” stuff they were up to that should have been noticed but wasn’t.”_

    There is no doubt that our government was asleep at the wheel concerning our national interest. I don’t think anyone with a sane mind could see it otherwise.

    What I do want to make clear though is private industry specifically our Airlines had no reason to believe or the resources available to even imagine such an incident as 9/11. Private industry operated that day SOP. In some cases it could have been sloppy SOP but none the less it was SOP.

    What our government and hopefully the American populace are quickly realizing is that private industry is not prepared to deal with these issues financially. One could make the argument that on a technological standpoint they could. TSA another government institution was specifically designed to secure our air travel industry. This agency is paid for and funded by all Americans through the tax system. Fly or not if you pay taxes you pay for it.

    My point here is one must be careful on where to place onus for failure. What we have now for security is a mixture (hopefully cooperative) of government and private policy. (I can see the finger pointing coming folks) As stated earlier I fail to see where the current process broke. I also fail to see any suggestions that would enhance our security to alleviate the fears Annie obviously had. My suspicion is Annie has problems on any flights. To be honest I’d like to know how many flights she’s been on since 9/11. I’d bet she isn’t a frequent flyer. Though her job title and past trip to India seem to indicate otherwise.

  64. “‘We don’t freak out in situations like this,’ the air marshal responded.

    I’ll buy that guy a beer anytime.”

    I’m really not supposed to tell you this, but this statement is mine. How do I get the free beer?

  65. >harassing all swarthy foreigners simply for breathing may make you feel better, but it won’t do a damn thing for security.

    They weren’t simply breathing, they were blatently ignoring flight crew’s instructions. If you think they were simply busting whitey’s balls, I’d take the same approach as the smart asses who joke about having a bomb in his baggage. Those idiots enjoy a few nights in the slammer and a hefty fine. These guys deserve likewise.

  66. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
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    “They weren’t simply breathing, they were blatently ignoring flight crew’s instructions.”

    Or so says Hysterical Annie. Nothing from the Air Marshals confirms that any such ignoring of instructions took place, and in fact, it seems that any regulations they *could* theoretically have contravened were only put in place 2 days *after* the flight in question. The problem here was with Little Miss Annie, not with some uppity Middle Eastern swarthies.
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  67. “Similarly, there are two competing narratives we can construct out of Jacobsen’s story.”

    No, there are three: the two you mention plus a third:

    On yet another hand, a group of Arab men holding Syrian passports who are acting very strangely. Period. Full stop.

    Jacobsen’s reaction may *in hindsight* appear to be hysterical, but the tendency of many in the blogosphere to instantly dismiss her claims as racist fear-mongering — absent the facts — is just as hysterical.

  68. Purple Fury (9:44am):

    A dozen Arab men acting strangely on my flight would concern me, too. But following the threads on Jacobsen’s article at WoC, OneHandClapping, and MichelleMalkin.com has changed alarm into alertness.

    Re-read Armed Liberal’s post on his encounter with a threatening homeless man.

    Sensing pointed to these two LGF comments describing normal behavior by passengers on El Al flights; check ‘em out.

    The 9/10 “what me worry” attitude seemed right in those bygone times. You won’t find many people in this conversation who lament its passing.

    Post 9/11, we seek better ways for dealing with the Islamofascist menace; traveling Syrians are one piece of that. My mind’s made up, don’t bother me with the facts isn’t the way to go.

  69. Guys,

    One of the most frightening aspects of Ms. Jacobsen’s article is that airlines have been told by the U.S. government not to choose more than three people of the same ethnicity for additional screening. I noted this frightening allegation on my own blog months ago, in April, shortly after Commissioner Lehman questioned Condoleezza Rice about it.

    You all seem quite convinced that this is some sort of urban legend. I hate to break it to you, but it’s not.

    Here is the quote regarding the allegedly debunked claim, from the transcript of the 9/11 Commission hearings (via the Memory Hole — the official online transcript breaks off after a few paragraphs). In this excerpt, the Commissioners are speaking to Edmond L. Soliday, the former Vice President of Safety, Quality Assurance, and Security for United Airlines:

    MR. SOLIDAY: . . . The problem is — and you can make light of it, if you like — a citizen does not have the right to search and seize. There are privacy issues and, for example, as a company who was prepared to roll CAPPS out and did roll it out long before any other company, a visitor from the Justice Department who told me that if I had more than three people of the same ethnic origin in line for additional screening, our system would be shut down as discriminatory.

    MR. LEHMAN: That is an important point.

    You bet it is.

    The blog post mentioned by commenters here that purports to “debunk” this “legend” relies on a journalist who claimed to have read the transcript, but apparently missed the exchange I just quoted.

    What is the significance of such a statement by a Justice Department official to an airline representative? Well, consider this: since 9/11, the government has filed lawsuits against at least three airlines (American, United, and Continental) for alleged discrimination against Middle Eastern passengers. Collectively, those lawsuits cost the airlines millions of dollars.

    While my guess is that those lawsuits probably related to specific instances where passengers were removed from airplanes, the filing of those lawsuits has likely caused airline officials to pay special attention to what Justice Department officials tell them is discriminatory.

    So, even if there is no specific regulation on the books preventing more than three individuals of the same ethnicity from being screened, there is evidence that the government has, in effect, told the airlines that they had better not do that, or there will be consequences.

    I find that disturbing, and I note other commenters here do as well. If Ms. Jacobsen’s piece has done nothing but highlight this ridiculous policy of our federal government, it has performed a valuable service.

  70. Those who react as Jacobsen did, do so in large part because they feel helpless to defend themselves directly. In this case, she felt constrained to depend on government decisions for her immediate safety — and that of her young child, no small issue for most mothers.

    Those who see her response as racist or hysterical ignore the fact that she did not feel she could realistically do anything in the face of an possible deadly threat.

    As I commented above, what worked for AL a situation where he had a lot of options is not necessarily a strategy that a mother travelling with a small child feels she can afford to try in that air cabin.

    I’m not saying her judgement about the degree of threat that day was valid — I simply have no way to tell and neither does anyone else here. Nothing happened, no one was arrested … but there are clear constraints on air marshall actions which leave some window of vulnerability. More to the point, if this was indeed a probe into airline security, it’s important that the public have a realistic — not exagerated, but not minimized either — picture for the degree of ongoing threat.

    The wider issue is, in what ways can we as individuals feel that we are contributing to our own security? Those who ask that we just sit back, calm our anxieties and let the government take care of things are placing a huge amount of trust in a hastily assembled bureaucracy. I am not ever willing to entirely give up my own responsibility and ability to defend myself.

    That said, vigilante action or hysterical reactions aren’t very helpful either.

    It’s a tough balancing act: giving in to panic that causes airlines to go bankrupt isn’t helpful; neither is degrading the openness and diversity of our society. Moreover, it’s a huge mistake to assume that by screening middle eastern males you will likely catch future attackers.

    What was missing in Jacobsen’s account is a reaction from the rest of the passengers to the effect that threats would not be tolerated. I’m not talking about some beligerent SOB trying to menace back. I am saying that it surprises me that no adult male in that group politely but firmly let the Syrians know that menace would not be tolerated. AL recounts one occasion where an apparent threat was dissolved by kind words, and that’s great if it works. But if not, a message needs to be sent that we all are prepared to put an end to attacks or to the deliberate menacing of our populace.

  71. Patterico, I don’t see how what you write refutes Rivka’s debunking. Do you have a cite of the alleged U.S. Code that mandates this alleged policy? If so, it certainly would need to be changed. If not, a bit of confused testimony doesn’t establish that it exists.

  72. Specifically, the Department of Transportation stated:

    “…A member of the 9/11 Commission was incorrect in telling… that the Federal Aviation Administration used a quota restricting the number of foreign passengers that could be subjected to secondary screening at one time. Despite the testimony… cited in your column, secondary screening of passengers is random or behavior-based. It is not now, nor has ever been based on ethnicity, religion or appearance.”

    That doesn’t seem unclear.

  73. Specifically, the Department of Transportation stated:

    “…A member of the 9/11 Commission was incorrect in telling… that the Federal Aviation Administration used a quota restricting the number of foreign passengers that could be subjected to secondary screening at one time. Despite the testimony… cited in your column, secondary screening of passengers is random or behavior-based. It is not now, nor has ever been based on ethnicity, religion or appearance.”

    That doesn’t seem unclear.

  74. Gary, why do you assume a change to the law would be required? It’s been a while since I worked in the transportation market (and then primarily in mass transit, not airlines) but AFAIK this could be implemented simply as a regulation without changing the Code.

  75. It’s worth keeping in mind that the actions law enforcement agents take may be optimized to deal with larger situations, but not optimized for the welfare of individuals in a given situation.

    Example: in 1987 I was in the Middle East on business and spent 2 days in and around Jerusalem. One late afternoon I was heading out of the confusing maze of streets in the souk within the ancient part of Jerusalem. The sun was low in the sky and the whole area felt tense and too quiet.

    I came up to a T intersection, knowing that if I turned right and walked 2 blocks I’d be outside the medieval walls and close to my hotel. On my right were Border Police and an angry mob of Israeli men. On my left were Arab women and children. At my feet was the body of a yeshiva student in a pool of blood.

    The Border Police could have let me through to escape the impending riot. I identified myself and asked permission to do so. The only place I could have gone, if they had done so, was up the stepped street and out of the way.

    Instead, they waved me BACK into the souk. Where it was increasingly dark, hard to find my way and likely to get ugly very quickly. But the BP were focused on their crowd control techniques and were unwilling or unable to do the common sense thing that would have protected me without impeding their own work.

    Finally, an Arab woman sent her young son over, who tugged at my jacket until I followed him. They threw a headscarf over me and walked me out of the Arab quarter to the Damascus Gate. It was a 2 mile walk or so to my hotel from there. By the time I arrived, the english-language news show reported apartments being burned, shots being fired and an angry mob at work.

    I don’t blame the BP for their decision … at least, not very much. The situation was ugly and getting uglier and they were trying to impose overall control. But I’ve never forgotten how expendible I felt for one short moment as I stood there between the forming crowd of men demanding vengeance and the law agents who would not let me pass by their line.

  76. “We Don’t Freak Out In Situations Like This.”

    Yeah. Apparently, we also don’t screen out 14 Syrians on expired visas, or confront them when they violate security orders by congregating at the bathroom, or getting up after the pilot is preparing to land.

    Thanks, but I have a lot more faith in the Annie Jacobsens of the world than in our TSA bureaucrats.

  77. *Patterico*
    “filed lawsuits”:http://patterico.com/archives/002120.php

    Is this “lawsuit”:http://lawlibrary.rutgers.edu/fed/html/ca02-2683-1.html you are referring to?

    After reading the complaint and the decision rendered in this case I would have to say these people had a valid complaint and it was settled justifiably so (IMO).

    The case IMO was brought about simply because of actions precipitated by passenger reactions such as Annie’s.

    Was it wrong for the airlines to tell these people to get off of the plane simply because a passenger was suspicious / uncomfortable and filed a complaint with the crew? Given what the complaint alleges I would say yes.

    If I were the passenger that initiated the complaint and felt that uncomfortable I would have asked for a later flight. Which I can only surmise the passenger did not ask to do. Could it be that this passenger wanted no ME(s) on the plane period?

    One other thing I might note. The only reference I could find to the case is in the Rutgers law library. If anyone can provide a link to the actual Judicial court rendering itself (IE government link) I’d greatly appreciate it.

  78. “Gary, why do you assume a change to the law would be required?”

    Okay, a cite for said alleged regulation, which the Transportation Department denies exists, in the Federal Register.

    I mean, we have a statement from the Transportation Department denying this allegation, and specifically refuting its source, the confused information provided to and from Commissioner Lehman. I rather think that this is fairly definitive, unless someone has more definitive contradictory information, such as a more recent Transportation Department official statement, or a quote of the regulation, or somesuch. Wouldn’t you agree?

  79. Not sure.

    I suspect that what happened is that there was no official regulation that anyone signed – and which could be traced back to them for criticism – but that a clear message was given to the airlines informally.

    I’ve had things like that happen in government contract situations …. no formal contract direction was given on paper, but my point of contact made it very clear that if I didn’t move in a certain direction, the agency wouldn’t be pleased with our performance. And that could make our lives much harder, make it harder to get more work with them, hold up payment while reviews stretched out etc. etc.

    It’s deeply unfortunate that the atmosphere immediately after 9/11 turned to finger pointing and law suits and remains so today. The airline official is probably trying to head off legal liability and public criticism … so too is the government agency.

    I doubt we’ll really know exactly what was said or done. But just because you can’t point to a signed document demanding the airlines limit their screening doesn’t mean that the government didn’t make it clear they did NOT want a racial profiling challenge on their hands.

  80. Keep in mind, too, the fragile financial condition of the airlines and the fact that since 9/11 they have essentially been in ongoing battles with the federal government about who will bear the burden of implementing security.

    In that situation, informal policies carry a lot of weight.

  81. Robin
    You make a valid argument concerning informal policy. I don’t deny that most if not all employers have implemented informal policy at various levels within their structures for what ever reasons.

    It is obvious that there are those who would never trust TSA and those who would never trust the airlines to provide for our safty.

    Where I see this conversation heading though is who should shoulder the responsibilty for public transportation from soup to nuts.

    Arguments can be made on both sides of the fence government vs private sector.

  82. Is there no end to bogosity?

    Yeah. Apparently, we also don’t screen out 14 Syrians on expired visas, or confront them when they violate security orders by congregating at the bathroom, or getting up after the pilot is preparing to land.

    The “expired” visas appear to be a confusion of the entry date of the visa with the amount of time allowed to stay in the USA. Do you really believe that law enforcement personnel are that stupid? That they can’t read a date on the visa right in front of them?

    All of the other worrisome behavior is attested only in Jacobsen’s account. While I’m sure the passengers went to the lavatories, the way the sequence of events terrified her seems to have arisen in a pre-existing belief (that you share) that liberal sabotage of the security services has left us completely unprotected. At the end, law enforcement was more worried about what a hysterical, paranoid passenger might precipitate.

    Thanks, but I have a lot more faith in the Annie Jacobsens of the world than in our TSA bureaucrats.

    Vigilantes R Us. Although in the movies, the vigilantes usually get the right bad guys. This woman you have such faith in is demonstrably 0 for 14 already. Your allegiance has much more to do with shared prejudices than Jacobsen’s capacity to make travel safer, which is apparently less than zero.

    As far as the legend of secondary screening, I don’t see the airlines as entitled to pull Arabs off flights whom the TSA has searched already. Please note that according to the DoT, passengers may always be searched again on the basis of their behavior.

    See also here on the irony of Bush [!] supporters certain we are still jeopardized on every airline flight (at least, every one that allows brown people).

  83. Andrew,

    Speaking on a purely philosophical level here… no, there is no end to bogosity.

    Sorry.

    According to many spiritual traditions, however, there may be an end to _your unpleasant experience_ of bogosity.

    Hope this helps somewhat. Shabbat shalom.

  84. Gary,

    Things change when there is a war on. Always. And not necessarily in a humanitarian direction.

    I think if there was a Muslim reformation where 95% of the Moslems and all the maor preachers renounced violence to accomplish their goals the moslems might get their full civil liberties back.

    The problem is guerilla warfare.

    If moslems don’t want to be treated like guerillas they must expell the guerillas from their midst. Or else we are going to have to be suspicious. Most unfortunate.

    It is the kind of war their brothers want to fight. If the results are untoward they ought to suggest normal open warfare. It is easier on civilians. We got rules for these things. You can look them up.

    Well any way. Things would go better for muslims in general if so many of them weren’t starting wars in so many places. People notice these things, after a while. You know then people start thinking. And they start making up categories. You know like flame hot, muslim kill. And so people become more careful around flames and muslims. It is only natural.

  85. I mean, we have a statement from the Transportation Department denying this allegation, and specifically refuting its source, the confused information provided to and from Commissioner Lehman. I rather think that this is fairly definitive, unless someone has more definitive contradictory information, such as a more recent Transportation Department official statement, or a quote of the regulation, or somesuch. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Perhaps more to the point, would Martha Stewart agree?

  86. Just trying this on for size and sense:

    If Christians don’t want to be treated like guerillas they must expell the guerillas from their midst. Or else we are going to have to be suspicious. Most unfortunate.

    It is the kind of war their brothers want to fight. If the results are untoward they ought to suggest normal open warfare. It is easier on civilians. We got rules for these things. You can look them up.

    Well any way. Things would go better for Christians in general if so many of them weren’t starting wars in so many places. People notice these things, after a while. You know then people start thinking. And they start making up categories. You know like flame hot, Christians kill. And so people become more careful around flames and Christians. It is only natural.

    And:

    If Jews don’t want to be treated like guerillas they must expell the guerillas from their midst. Or else we are going to have to be suspicious. Most unfortunate.

    It is the kind of war their brothers want to fight. If the results are untoward they ought to suggest normal open warfare. It is easier on civilians. We got rules for these things. You can look them up.

    Well any way. Things would go better for Jews in general if so many of them weren’t starting wars in so many places. People notice these things, after a while. You know then people start thinking. And they start making up categories. You know like flame hot, muslim kill. And so people become more careful around flames and Jews. It is only natural.

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  87. Just trying this on for size and sense:

    If Christians don’t want to be treated like guerillas they must expell the guerillas from their midst. Or else we are going to have to be suspicious. Most unfortunate.

    It is the kind of war their brothers want to fight. If the results are untoward they ought to suggest normal open warfare. It is easier on civilians. We got rules for these things. You can look them up.

    Well any way. Things would go better for Christians in general if so many of them weren’t starting wars in so many places. People notice these things, after a while. You know then people start thinking. And they start making up categories. You know like flame hot, Christians kill. And so people become more careful around flames and Christians. It is only natural.

    And:

    If Jews don’t want to be treated like guerillas they must expell the guerillas from their midst. Or else we are going to have to be suspicious. Most unfortunate.

    It is the kind of war their brothers want to fight. If the results are untoward they ought to suggest normal open warfare. It is easier on civilians. We got rules for these things. You can look them up.

    Well any way. Things would go better for Jews in general if so many of them weren’t starting wars in so many places. People notice these things, after a while. You know then people start thinking. And they start making up categories. You know like flame hot, muslim kill. And so people become more careful around flames and Jews. It is only natural.

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  88. “Just trying this on for size and sense:

    If Japanese-American citizens don’t want to be treated like guerillas they must expell the guerillas from their midst. Or else we are going to have to be suspicious. Most unfortunate.

    It is the kind of war their brothers want to fight. If the results are untoward they ought to suggest normal open warfare. It is easier on civilians. We got rules for these things. You can look them up.

    Well any way. Things would go better for Japanese in general if so many of them weren’t starting wars in so many places. People notice these things, after a while. You know then people start thinking. And they start making up categories. You know like flame hot, Japanese kill. And so people become more careful around flames and Japanese. It is only natural.

  89. Gary,

    You are missing my point. Please read my comment again.

    The “debunking” quotes a journalist who claims that she read the transcript, and didn’t see anything relevant to the issue of airlines being punished for “having more than two people of the same ethnic persuasion in a secondary line for line for questioning.” She purports to give relevant quotes, and fails to give the directly relevant quote I gave in my comment above.

    You seem to think this has to be a formal policy, written down somewhere. But I already said that

    even if there is no specific regulation on the books preventing more than three individuals of the same ethnicity from being screened, there is evidence that the government has, in effect, told the airlines that they had better not do that, or there will be consequences.

    Again: if you are running an airline, the government is suing your airline for discriminatory practices to the tune of millions, and the Justice Department is telling you that a particular procedure is discriminatory, whatcha gonna do?

    If you still want to debate this, the debate will be more prodcutive if you confront that issue, not a strawman issue (it must be a written-down regulation or statute) that I have already addressed.

    Don’t you agree that the statement of the Justice Department official to the former United Airlines safety official is contrary to common sense, and hampers efforts to deter potential militant Islamist hijackers???

    USMC,

    No, that’s not the lawsuit I am referring to. The lawsuits to which I refer were affirmatively brought by the government. Save me some time and follow the links I provided.

    If you do, you’ll see that I acknowledge that I don’t know the facts of those lawsuits, and that they may have merit. My problem is that the lawsuits may be counterproductive to fighting terrorism — given the context of the related “no screening three Arabs on one flight” policy of the Justice Department.

  90. Gary,

    If the Japanese were doing such things nothing in those paragraphs offends me.

    I might have interned them myself. In war time respect for individual rights is not always observed. Did you know we had German and Italian Americans in camps too? I didn’t either until recently.

    The people were not mistreated. After the war some ammends were made and down the road they even got an apology.

    Again my advice to the Muslims is the same as my advice to the Japs. Don’t start wars with Americans. They have a tendency to get real nasty if their peace gets disturbed. Other waise they is real nice folks. Give you the shirt off their backs if you need it.

    So again I say to my muslim brothers: War will get you death and mistreatment. Don’t do it. No matter what the Koran says.

    Jeeze Gary – the sumbitches are starting wars all over the planet and you are complaining about a little discrimination? Shit happens in war. My further advice to my Islamic Brothers: Practice true surrender. America will accept.

    Problem solved now don’t you think Gary? BTW we still discriminating against the Japs, and Germans, and Italians? I married an Italian so they are off my list. But what exactly ought my attitude towards the Huns and the Japs be? Have they quit warring so we can be friends? Well any way when the Islamics clean up their act I’ll put my animus in the closet.

    And finally in America we no longer discriminate with ax handles, machettes, ropes, chains, and rifles like some of our muslim brothers do.
    I know. There were some good Germans and the allies killed some of them. War is a fookin bitch. I think it is time you advised the Islamics that war is not in their best intersest. And if you have done so I can’t wait till they start listening.

    You know I have friens here from Persia. If every one takes up my attitude it will be rough on them. Still better than living in Iran. They are Americans. They will understand. They will not like it. But they will understand.

    You know as a Jew in this world I live under threat of violent death every day. My Persian friends know this. They factor it into their political caculations.

  91. Patterico, what you have is hearsay. Edmond L. Soliday, the former Vice President of Safety, Quality Assurance, and Security for United Airlines saying “a visitor from the Justice Department who told me that if I had more than three people of the same ethnic origin in line for additional screening, our system would be shut down as discriminatory.”

    In contrast, there is an official statement from the Department of Transportation. To demonstrate that the hearsay is more accurate than the official statement, one would need some credible additional evidence, meeting at least a minimal standard of, say, “the preponderence of the evidence.”

    Do you have any evidence whatsoever to support this hearsay that has been specifically, officially, refuted as incorrect?

    If official refutation is insufficient proof, what would be sufficient proof? Are you making a falsifiable assertion, or not?

  92. Gary, I think you’re being tendentious on this.

    I can understand the desire for things to be black and white. This may be a pretty grey situation, however – as the actual words of the Airline executive suggest.

  93. Gary,

    DoT is not the Justice Department.

    Absolutely nothing about what Soliday said has been refuted — by you, by that pathetic about.com article by Kathy Gill, or by anyone else on this thread.

    The Justice Department has sent the airlines a message: that this sort of secondary screening will be considered discrimination. Given the financial penalties involved (witness the lawsuits), the airlines had better heed that warning. And that spells danger for airline travelers.

  94. Gary, will you at least admit that the refutation you keep linking is based on an article by a journalist (Kathy Gill) who completely missed the relevant quote in the transcript?

    She would have had to write a completely different article if she had printed the relevant quotations.

  95. You know I’m getting f***in sick an tired of this attitude that if there is a problem in the word it is either America’s fault or America ought to fix it.

    Arabs and Islamics don’t like being discriminated against? Let them stop the butchery. How hard can that be?

    Feeling sorry for the poor? Me too. There are quite a few dictators that need to be taken out and shot and capitalist systems installed (per DeSoto) to replace the dictator’s kleptocracy. Well Iraq is a start. Afghanistan is having elections in September.

    And Gary – these particular blokes were Syrian. Whose government is not on the friendliest terms with our government. You don’t suppose the flight crew knew this from the manifest do you?

    Let me tell you I think Bush is a bigot. I also think anti-Bush has come off the rails. My prediction for Nov? Bush in a landslide. As another commenter has pointed out: people will wonder why they ever thought Kerry had a chance.

    I can’t wait till we hear his Winter Soldier testimony 24/7 with Republican spin. Do you really think America will elect a war criminal President? Well I suppose a lot of people right now think that is a good idea. I don’t think it will sell well in October. By November it wil be stinkin tainted goods.

    Sam Nunn, Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman. The opposition has some people serious about this war. Unfortunately none of them (How about that Zell Miller?) are in the Kerry camp.

    Suppose Kerry is Watergated on the Berger bit. You trust Edwards to run the country? I’ll take a half dead Chenney over a fully alive Edwards any day.

  96. “The Justice Department has sent the airlines a message: that this sort of secondary screening will be considered discrimination.”

    Yes, you keep asserting this, but proof-by-assertion doesn’t work, you know.

    “Gary, will you at least admit that the refutation you keep linking is based on an article by a journalist (Kathy Gill) who completely missed the relevant quote in the transcript?”

    Yes, and no. Yes, Gill’s quotation from the Commission testimony is insufficient. No, because the relevant quotation is from the DoT:

    “…A member of the 9/11 Commission was incorrect in telling… that the Federal Aviation Administration used a quota restricting the number of foreign passengers that could be subjected to secondary screening at one time. Despite the testimony… cited in your column, secondary screening of passengers is random or behavior-based. It is not now, nor has ever been based on ethnicity, religion or appearance.”

    I completely agree with you that if there were, or is, such a policy as you assert, that it would be idiotic, and, of course, if it existed, it would need to be gotten rid of immediately.

    However, I certainly don’t see any reason to take an old bit of obscure hearsay, officially denied by the DoT, as sufficient reason to believe such a policy is in place, informally or however. I’m certainly entirely willing to be convinced; I have no reason not to be. I just need actual sufficient evidence to believe in something; it’s one of my quirks.

    If you can come up with some substantive, checkable, evidence, I’m all with you. Until then, I can’t exhort against a policy that doesn’t appear to actually exist, no matter how alarming it would be if it did.

  97. Can you provide the proof that the DoT has denied that the Justice Department, a completely different part of the executive branch, has not told the airlines that such screening is discriminatory? Since you keep saying that DoT has “refuted” Soliday’s testimony, you must have this proof. I must have missed that. I keep reading a quote about policies of the FAA or the DoT. This is not refutation of Soliday’s testimony regarding the DoJ’s position on what constitutes discrimination.

    I’m starting to get irritated. This is a serious issue, and I have the annoying feeling that I am enmeshed in yet another internet debate with someone who is deliberately pretending not to understand my points because they don’t want to admit they’re wrong. I think I’ve said all I can say on this; other commenters can make their own judgments.

  98. Gary,

    If some one was present at an event testified about it is not hearsay. It is evidence. Even if some of the other parties to the event are anonymous. Now the evidence may be weak but it is not hearsay. It is uncorroborated.

    Now what we have here may be one of those situations where there is official policy and policy as actually applied. Or you could be seeing a fight between security and discrimination functions. There are all kinds of reasons for government error.

  99. “Has anyone read the 9/11 Commission report?”

    Yes. I have.

    “Does anyone know if Soliday’s testimony or its implications are discussed at all?”

    Not that I noticed, though I might have missed it.

  100. Patterico,

    bq. _I have the annoying feeling that I am enmeshed in yet another internet debate with someone who is deliberately pretending not to understand my points because they don’t want to admit they’re wrong._

    I was having one like that with the “tike”. I kept asking how Kerry might shore up his national security team after Wilson, Berger, and the “Bush lied” bit (Clarke) fell flat. Nada, nothing, zero. Kerry’s National security team is fine. Beers, Holbroke, Ross, a Senator whose name I forget. He wasn’t too bad but he was no Lieberman.

    We have Beers who engineered the war on drugs fiasco in the Andes. Ross who never met a situation in thre Middle East he couldn’t improve by cozying up to thugs. Which leaves Holbroke as a major quality player.

    Well I made some suggestions. No response.

    Instead we played Socks, Pants, Jacket.

    Do you get the idea that the opposition is losing touch with reality? That is always the first sign of impending disaster. The facts no longer match the internal map.

    The problem is alway this: It is generally better to adapt a bit at a time rather than having to make violent changes unprepared.

    Well hatred and bigotry always work like this. First you get a target of hate. Then you find reasons. Problems is if your reasons are no good rational people begin to doubt the value of your hate.

  101. M. Simon: “Unfortunately none of them [Zell Miller, Sam Nunn, Joe Lieberman] (How about that Zell Miller?) are in the Kerry camp.”

    Would you provide some evidence that Nunn and/or Lieberman are not in the Kerry camp?

    I used to get upset by your claims that Bush would win in a landslide. Now I compare you to pundits who expect Bush’s Texas Rangers to win the World Series, 4–0 yet.

  102. There is this recommendation:

    Recommendation: Improved use of “no-fly” and “automatic selectee” lists should not be delayed while the argument about a successor to CAPPS continues. This screening function should be performed by the TSA, and it should utilize the larger set of watchlists maintained by the federal government. Air carriers should be required to supply the information needed to test and implement this new system. CAPPS is still part of the screening process, still profiling passengers, with the consequences of selection now including personal searches of the individual and carry-on bags.The TSA is dealing with the kind of screening issues that are being encountered by other agencies.As we mentioned earlier, these screening issues need to be elevated for high-level attention and addressed promptly by the government. Working through these problems can help clear the way for the TSA’s screening improvements and would help many other agencies too.

    Paragraph #1943 (on page 392)

    Not helpful on this question, though.

    I’m still wondering, Patterco, what would be sufficient proof that the DOJ isn’t enforcing such a policy? And are you making a falsifiable assertion, or not?

    Do you have a hypothesis as to why, if this policy is in effect, it hasn’t leaked out to the mainstream press, and a scandal raised?

  103. Gary,

    I think it would help if the DoJ were to go on record as saying that it will not seek any sanction against an airline for setting aside any number of people on the basis of ethnicity.

    My point is this: executives of any company fear litigation. In the airlines’ case, rightfully so. A policy like this doesn’t have to be very “official” at all to cause CYA policy changes at the airlines, to the detriment of our safety. Were I Soliday, I would feel duty-bound to communicate the DoJ official’s comment to high-level executives at my airline; and measures would likely be taken accordingly.

    No “leak” is necessary — this issue came up in April when Lehman mentioned it while questioning Dr. Rice. I thought it was significant. Lehman did. A few other bloggers did. But the mainstream press has not seemed interested. Who says they’re always interested in the things that matter?

  104. Gary, one problem with CAPPS II or whatever “no-fly” list that’s out there is, at least the way it’s working now, is that people’s names are getting fed in from a variety of sources, no one seems to know who exactly maintains the list (TSA? one or more of the airlines? a credit agency?) so there’s no easy way to clear errors off the list.

    Then there’s the problem with ethnicity, and that kind of profiling isn’t going to work if (1) Americans aren’t familiar with other cultures (how many Americans know a Sikh from a Shi’ite passenger?) and (2) we are particular on screening even from “friendly” countries. (Worth remembering that the 19 hijackers came from Egypt and Saudi, which were allies (their gov’ts profess to be, anyway) or certainly not on the Iran-Syria-Libya et al State Dept list of hostile countries as of ’01. For that matter, London and Hamburg are danger points so far as terrorism is concerned.

    And, finally, if you have a really egregious profiling case, that means someone with standing to sue and a real chance that the US courts will take an interest. We’ve already had several “profiling” cases in California from the War on Drugs (Operation Pipeline etc.) that are working up into higher state and Federal courts and no sense in making airport security even more vulnerable. Never mind a suit for damages, what happens when someone gets an injunction against, say, TSA?

    And remember that all of this is screening the departure terminals. What, exactly, are they doing about protecting the main airport concourses, especially when you have people lined up in front of the security barriers and vulnerable as can be?

    To get back to what started this thread, we need some calculated efforts to detect threats. Not jump every time someone sees a turban, starts hyperventilating, and sics security on what may be a waste, even a misdirection, of effort.

    Haven’t read the 9/11 report yet but these are the kind of questions I hope that are being answered.

  105. Overreact? Are you nuts, “Armed Liberal”? Did you actually read Annie’s story? I’m wondering. The problem is that noone did anything at all! These Syrians were allowed to run around unchallenged during the flight. The air marchalls were AWOL.

    The attutude you portray is part of the PROBLEM. With that attitude, there will be more hijackings.

  106. *Patterico*
    “7th Public Hearing (PDF)”:http://www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing7/9-11Commission_Hearing_2004-01-27.pdf (your link is incomplete) I think everyone should read the entire transcript and line of questioning specifically pages 86 – 89. When read in context it takes on a whole new light to issue concerning profiling.

    If you read the entire testimony what should be more concerning is the follow on to the questioning:

    “MR. ARPEY: Commissioner Lehman, let me just add a follow-on to his point. You know, Ed, you’re talking really CAPPS I in the pre-9/11 environment and I think coming back to what Senator Kerrey was saying earlier, some of this does defy common sense. In a post-9/11 environment, we had situations where our crew members were uncomfortable with passengers on board the airplane, they hauled them off the airplane and I think — there was 10 or 11 of them — and today we’re being sued by the DOT over each one of those cases.”

    MR. LEHMAN: That’s something we should definitely follow up on because if DOT is still pursuing that policy that we will get involved.

    MR. STUDDERT: I think last month United was actually fined. We should follow up for you on that.

    MR. LEHMAN: Is that right? Could you get us data? We’d be happy to take up your cause.

    “9th Public Hearing Condeleeza Rice Testimony (PDF)”:http://www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing9/9-11Commission_Hearing_2004-04-08.pdf
    “MR. LEHMAN: Thank you.

    Were you aware — it disturbs me a bit — and again let me shift to the continuity issues here. Were you aware that it was the policy of the Justice Department — and I’d like you to comment as to whether these continuities are still in place. For instance, before I go to Justice, were you aware that it was the policy and, I believe, remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning, because that’s discriminatory?

    MS. RICE: No. I have to say that the kind of inside arrangements for the FAA are not really in my purview —

    MR. LEHMAN: Well, these are not so inside. Were you aware that the FAA up till 9/11 thought it was perfectly permissible to allow four-inch knife blades aboard?

    MS. RICE: I was not aware.”

    Why tie Dr. Condeleezza Rice and her testimony together with the FAA? If she had in fact been aware what course of action could / should she have taken? Why would Dr. Rice be responsible for FAA actions / inactions? I could say Dr. Rice should have known because it was made light of in previous testimony.

    That is the line of questioning you are referring to.

    “Your WoC post references”:http://windsofchange.net/archives/005251.php#25301
    “Here”:http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/commission_site/www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing7/9-11Commission_Hearing_2004-01-27.htm
    “Official online transcript”:http://www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing7/9- (broken link) should be “Link”:http://www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing7/9-11Commission_Hearing_2004-01-27.htm

    “filed lawsuits”:http://patterico.com/archives/002120.php
    “reports”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/04/politics/04CONT.html
    “ranting Prof.”:http://nationalreview.com/comment/smerconish200404150849.asp
    “The End of Racism”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0684825244/qid=1081059914/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-2219604-4219843?v=glance&s=books

    In any case you tie Condoleeza Rice, (Mr Soliday, Mr Arpey, Mr Studdert), a book, a news report on lawsuits and various other items together to get your point across.

    If it’s not too much trouble please let me know what lawsuits you are talking about. I don’t think it’s that difficult to provide a link more substantive than a news article. What it really boils down to is if the lawsuits are in fact valid.

  107. Americans aren’t familiar with other cultures (how many Americans know a Sikh from a Shi’ite passenger?)

    Come on, Bob – that’s the same condescending, and incorrect, blather I got from European business colleagues a decade ago. Yes, I know the difference. Yes, I have a passport (my 3rd or 4th). Yes, I speak and / or read multiple languages besides English. Yes, I know a fair amount of history. Yes, I have travelled and done business on multiple continents.

    No, I’m not that unusual.

    Pfah.

  108. es, I have a passport (my 3rd or 4th). Yes, I speak and / or read multiple languages besides English. Yes, I know a fair amount of history. Yes, I have travelled and done business on multiple continents.

    No, I’m not that unusual.

    Respectfully, Robin, having a passport puts you (and me) in a distinct minority of Americans. So does speaking/reading a second language, particularly if it’s not a mother tongue, let alone if you have three. So does having travelled to three continents.

    I’m surprised you would not know these are all distinctly minority attributes in America. Would it be helpful for me to provide stats and cites on that? Do you really think the majority of citizens have these attributes? (How much history we all know is distinctly harder to measure, of course.)

  109. I was having one like that with the “tike”.

    No you weren’t having a discussion. The bottom line is that you support the current policy and want Kerry to support it, too.

    He doesn’t.

    So vote for Bush.

  110. Andrew J. Lazarus,

    Do Lieberman, Nunn, or Miller have significant positions in the Kerry campaign? Not just outside supporters. Actual positions. Like Berger or Wilson.

    None of the Democrats who have asked Kerry for one of those guys on the Kerry team think that any of those three has an official position in the Kerry campaign.

    Please advise with name and rank of any of the three if I’m wrong. Did any of the three take Berger’s or Wilson’s place in the campaign? Haven’t heard of it.

    In fact who are the replacements for Berger and Wilson in the campaign? And if there are no replacements why were they need in the campaign?

    Bush in a landslide. Because America does not want an admitted war criminal as President. A lot of Vietnam vets are in the 50 to 60 year age bracket. The peak voting years. Many of those who supported Kerry in 1971 do not now support him because of the re-ed camps he said wouldn’t happen, the mass slaughters he said wouldn’t happen, the boat people which he said wouldn’t happen. OK he did what he thought was the right thing and was horribly wrong. Has he apologized? Said he was dupped by the communists or….? Nope he stands by what he did then which got several millions killed. I’m personally sorry for supporting that policy. I was wrong. Dead wrong. Ever hear such an admission from Kerry?

    I look forward to a rehash of Winter Soldier Kerry. When they get done playing that tune people will cross the street to avoid Kerry. He will be the social outcast he deserves to be. His commanders in Vietnam said he killed recklessly without regard for the lives of innocents and children. What happens when the Bushies rehash Kerry’s admitted war record? Not the secret stuff. Or obscure files and follow the dates and when and what. Just stuff Kerry has admitted to. It will destroy him.

    I heard another commenter say that by 3 November 04 people will wonder why they ever thought Kerry had a chance. I concur.

    BTW I do believe the polls are rigged for Kerry. It does him no favors because he is flying with the wrong map.

    This is all so sad for me because Bush is obviously a religious bigot. Not good. But I want a fighting President. So far Kerry has not shown he will fight or put a fighter on his team.

    Bush in a landslide. Because we are stuck with him. Stoopid fookin Democrats. With the right team Bush is easily beatable. Oh well.

  111. Well ‘tike,

    You are correct. Again. I was trying to have a discussion and you ignored my questions. Thanks for the response. Finally. But I was not incorrect. In general the Ds want to avoid the national security question. Can’t blame them. It is an embarassment for a party that claims to want to win. I’m no stranger to such situations, though. I used to be a Libertarian.

    It is as I have said all along and emphasized this past week.

    Bringing in a guy like Lieberman or Nunn to shore up Kerry’s National Security creds would ruin his position with his base. There is no chance Kerry could do anything to get my vote. So I guess you are right ‘tike. I’m stuck with Bush the bigot if I want a fighter.

    Bush in a landslide so big the left will never rise again. Because they do not understand the concern of 60 to 70% of the American people. We are not the Phillipines.

    Should Kerry get elected he will get impeached for making a huge mistake in a war he does not take seriously. (Sandy Berger? The leave Osama alone guy? What a great advertisement for Kerry. You couldn’t ask for a better advertisement of the Kerry position on the war.) It is 9/12 guys. No one can get elected who does not take the war seriously. (and even if they do they won’t last) Kerry can cut. Kerry can run. But he can’t stop the war and America is not in a mood to surrender. And even if it was the Islamics will not let us. Nice to have such a dedicated enemy.

    By 3 Nov 04 there will be no Democratic Pary. People will be embarrassed to admit they ever voted for them.

    Even life long Democrats are comming to the conclusion that the Ds (well the current center of the party) have no war policy other than surrender. And thanks for confirming it ‘tike. Kerry has already helped carry out such a policy and gotten millions of innocent killed because of it. Winter Soldier is going to embarrass Kerry and the Democrats. Some of us still remember and if not I’m confident of Bush Campaign reminders.

    The slicing will begin in October. By Halloween Kerry will be fully diced.

    Bush in a landslide.

    BTW have you read where Obama, the keynote speaker, is coming from? His policies are socialist/communist. Funny thing is he is a UC alum. Evidently he has never heard of Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boyz. And he is a lawyer. (is that a D trend this year?). I expect we will be stuck with him for 6 years because of the dissarray of Illinois Republicans. It will be interesting to see if he can do any better than Braun. We havent had a responsive Senator since Percy. Boy was he organized. If you had a question or complaint you got a response in days. With our current Senators weeks or months.

    Any way I expect Obama to win. (He is another of the “What war? The Islamics are just misunderstood” guys). I expect that by 2010 socialsm will be so thouroughly dead and the Kerry war policy so discredited that Obama will not stand a chance at re-election.

    Unlike some Bush supporters I do not fear a Kerry election. We have impeachment for just such situations.

  112. >>>Americans aren’t familiar with other cultures (how many Americans know a Sikh from a Shi’ite passenger?)

    Come on, Bob – that’s the same condescending, and incorrect, blather … <<< Dear Robin, that was not directed at you, and as far as I knew the shoe didn’t fit, so no need to try it on. What I _do_ know was that some of the victims of hate attacks in the immedate aftermath of 9/11 in my part of the USA were Sikhs, or Arab Christian storekeepers, or … well, you get the idea. You may have travelled quite widely. I have. A lot of Americans have not. And then they fibrillate when they see someone outside their experience on an airliner. QED.

  113. Moving back a bit in the thread to the discussion of USG policy towards the airlines regarding profiling and passenger searches.

    Michael Smerconish of the Philadelphia Daily News has a 4/29/04 article online that includes an excerpt from an interview with Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest. Responding to a question on political correctness in security practices, Kelleher says:

    “As a matter of fact, it goes back to the Clinton administration when the Justice Department said they were concerned about equality of treatment with respect to screening, and my understanding is that’s why the random element was put in, in other words, where you just choose people at random as opposed to picking them out for some particular reason, and that of course caused a great many more people to be screened.”

    That’s another airline executive who doesn’t think that the USG is entirely focused on best security practices. Smerconish’s piece is broadly supportive of Patterico’s position on this thread, though (Gary Farber and USMC) there are no citations of pending or resolved lawsuits.

    PS–Joe, the Preview window tells me I’m posting in July 2006. Wish I could say more, see the rest of you in two years.

  114. USMC,

    You have the references I have. If you think it’s easy to find a link to the lawsuits, provide one. I’m getting bored with the topic. The NYT article is good enough for me.

  115. M. Simon, I ought to hold my tongue, but I really don’t think you know where the center of the country is right now. After all, you were a Libertarian, right? And those guys are dead-on-middle. Right. Milton Friedman does not speak for America, no matter how much you may wish it to be true. People like Social Security, public education, national parks, the postal system, and Medicare. Sorry if it hurts.

    When the American people realize in October that Iyad Allawi is not actually in control of much more than the Green Zone, they’re going to be very upset with George W. Bush.

    America’s history is to swing between idealism and isolationism, broadly speaking. The backlash has already begun.

    If Bush tries to pull out the Winter Soldier stuff in a commercial, it’s going to get ugly in a hurry. Very ugly. The Kerry campaign doesn’t play nice.

  116. *Patterico*
    That’s my problem it’s in the news and not verifiable. Just because it is in a paper and I have tried like heck to find lawsuits supporting the papers and testimonial claims. I can only find one that seems very justifiable to me. IMO it’s still open for debate as to whether the airlines are being unjustly harassed by frivolous lawsuits concerning profiling.

    I’m more inclined to believe that the statements brought up in the 9/11 testimony are valid concerns over current policy / legislation regarding discriminatory practice. Which I think we all agree is a subject for review. Am I concerned about the commission looking into it and finding out if in fact this is happening. No. Am I concerned that the commission will make a recommendation allowing profiling without some basis for concern other than origin, religious or ethnic background. No. I doubt the current laws which seem to serve us well will change nor do I believe they should be based on the events of 9/11.

    Given both days of testimony concerning the “7th hearing”:http://www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing7/index.htm when taken in context it covers what we believe to be the entire scope of security in place from entry to exit and travel within the US. Is there more we could have done? Absolutely. Is there potential for failures within our current systems (government and private sectors)? Absolutely. The basis for the hearings and testimony were to find out how our processes work and their effectiveness. As much as one might want to place blame on a single individual or entity the hearings were not conducted to establish blame. Such a finding would have been sheer folly because it would indicate that the current system is not broken and serves the public well if followed to the letter. We now know our current processes are not as effective as we thought they were and in fact have been neglected for many years due to complacency.

    What we are grappling with now is common sense and what people should or shouldn‘t do when taking potential threats into account which is what gives rise to Annie trumpeting the alarm. The fact that the 9/11 commission discovered our current process is flawed only adds to Annie’s frustration because 9/11 testimony clearly brings to light that not only do we need to change the system the potential for threat is still in country with no viable way of determining exactly who and where they are.

    I for one believe we can use common sense and current laws without compromising our civil liberty.

  117. re: Americans allegedly unfamiliar with other cultures,

    I grew up in an ethnic blue-collar town in eastern Pennsylania. Within 2 blocks of my home, the following immigrant and 2nd generation ethnic cultures, languages and religions were alive and well:

    German Lutheran
    Italian, Czech and Austrian Catholic
    Polish Catholic
    Ukrainian Orthodox
    Japanese Shinto/Buddhist
    Plain Sect Pa. Deutsch

    I regularly ate ethnic meals, participated in ethnic and cultural events, learned snatches of languages and discussed books and politics with people from these countries.

    So did other blue collar workers and small business owners in our town of 5000.

    The passports and travel are icing on the cake: I knew about the different values, histories, grievances and arts of different cultures before I ever left that small town on a scholarship to a good college elsewhere.

    And if you don’t think that gives an insight into cultures and world events, consider that my family were the only eastern-European Orthodox in a German/Czech/Austrian Catholic neighborhood during WWII. Or that the Japanese grandfather of a friend of mine fought in the Japanese army in that war, as well.

    No, not all towns in America are this diverse. But Northampton, PA wasn’t all that uncommon in the 50s-70s, either. This is an ongoing theme in the US and will continue to be one in our future. My daughter’s friends as she grew up had parents from (and in some cases were born in ) Latin America, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Taiwan. I have two brothers-in-law. One was born and raised in Germany, the other born here but raised for several years by his grandparents in Italy. Their kids have all spent summers with family on the continent, thanks to cheap airfare and careful savings on the part of the parents.

    We’re not wealthy or unusual, Bob. It’s a pretty typical American story.

  118. IMO it’s still open for debate as to whether the airlines are being unjustly harassed by frivolous lawsuits concerning profiling.

    Me too — as I have said. I just think that, when the government sees it as discrimination when you single out four Arabs for further screening, you have to wonder at the strength of their other evidence. After all, there were at least four Arabs on each of the 9/11 flights . . . Is the government still frowning on the only procedure that might actually have stopped the attacks??

  119. “I just think that, when the government sees it as discrimination when you single out four Arabs for further screening, you have to wonder at the strength of their other evidence.”

    This remains an assertion, not an established fact. You keep treating an unproven hypothesis (it might be true; it is neither established nor proven) as fact.

    To use that as evidence in a question as to “whether the airlines are being unjustly harassed by frivolous lawsuits concerning profiling” is a classic begging of the question. A hypothesis cannot be used to establish itself.

  120. Robin, I’m glad you grew up in a great melting pot, for the food if nothing else.

    The fact remains that Americans are unlikely to speak a foreign language, unless they are first or second generation and it’s used in the home. Even then… it breaks my colleague “Ivan”’s heart that his kids won’t study Russian, not even to communicate with grandparents who don’t really speak English. And for better or worse, we dominate so much of world culture, we don’t watch a lot of foreign cinema or read foreign books (unless you count Harry Potter).

    When I went to a study-abroad program in Mexico after 12th grade, I was the first Jew that most of the kids from the Midwest had ever met. (Do you know how disappointing it was to have the prettiest girl in the program stop me on the street and say, “Andy?” and when I halted with my heart pounding in anticipation she went on, “Andy, why don’t you believe in Jesus Christ?”) I suppose I should add that I learned something about America too: I had never before heard “jew” as a verb.

  121. AJL,
    Tell us the rest of the story. Did you answer her question? Didn’t you mention that using ‘Jew’ as verb may be offensive? Tell us, please. What happened next?

  122. Yes, and yes, although they were two separate incidents. As a matter of fact, the fellow who used “jewed” for “swindled” was one of my friends in the program—he apologized and said he’d never thought about it (and he’d never knowingly met a Jew).

    As to the former incident, I respectfully listened through the explanation of why I was going to Hell (given that my family would be joining me there, I didn’t mind so much). At the end of it, I gave her a goodnight kiss right on the lips (a first for me, I was somewhat behind…) never saw her again (it was the last night of the program for her), and as soon as I remember her last name, I’m hitting Google.

  123. Gary,

    I find it amusing that you find uncontroverted sworn testimony from an airline executive to be a “hypothesis” — but you find conclusive proof in a sloppily researched article by a woman who can’t even read a transcript.

    Readers can read the entire thread and make up their own minds.

  124. “I find it amusing that you find uncontroverted sworn testimony from an airline executive to be a ‘hypothesis’

    Correct, since it has been declared to not be correct by an official statement of the Department of Transportation of the United Statement.

    ” — but you find conclusive proof in a sloppily researched article by a woman who can’t even read a transcript.”

    Incorrect. I’ve declared conclusive proof of nothing.

    I’ve repeatedly invited you to provide proof of your hypothesis regarding federal policy. I remain interested in that hypothesis. You remain welcome to provide said proof. I think you should go for it, if you have it.

    “Readers can read the entire thread and make up their own minds.”

    Absolutely.

    It’s federal policy, you say. I’d condemn it, if it were. Give us a statement from the government as to this policy.

    If not, it’s rumor.

  125. Yes, it’s certaintly true that there are Americans with little exposure to other cultures.

    What I object to is the assertion, often based on little more than political prejudices, that narrowness is the norm in America as opposed to other countries.

    Annecdotal data point: From time to time I’ve dialogued with a Greek poster in another forum, a man who generally is quite critical of the flaws he sees in America.

    Last week, after I cited some European conversations I’d had, he admitted that he has only briefly travelled outside of Greece (a weekend in Paris, I believe he said) and that he doesn’t know anyone from another country.

    No shame in that, uless one spends a lot of time (as he does) criticizing Americans as shallow and uninformed.

    Why is this important? Because Bob Harmon made a point of connecting air passenger profiling with his assertions about American ingnorance of other cultures.

    I would add that one group of Americans who tend to have some first hand experience of other cultures are the military dependents who live overseas. Even those who are cocooned on large bases tend to spend at least some time travelling and meeting people in the region — travel they otherwise might not afford.

  126. AJL,
    I’m with Robin on this one. It’s not clear to me how in-depth knowledge of another culture automatically makes you more enlightened or tolerant. Familiarity can breed contempt or indifference, perhaps more often than understanding. Is learning English a sufficient step to understanding America? No, I don’t think so. Neither is traveling, especially the touristy type. The European bemoaning of American provincialism looks pretty shallow in this light. How many of them make the effort to know the other? At least Americans are typically honest about their ignorance. And Americans are more culturally open to the other than the vast majority of peoples.

    Let’s look at your own experience with the folks from flyover country. Once they found out your heritage, it seems they were fairly accepting of you. You even got a kiss. That’s a pretty good example of cultural acceptance. Perhaps you fit the “bad boy” archetype?

  127. Well, to get back to the start of this thread, the issue is whether selective profiling (all right, or indiscriminate profiling) is going to be either just or, more to the point, effective. (And this has to do with the average run of passengers and screeners on US flights, not you, Robin).

    And there is ignorance or at least bureaucratic stupidity at work; go back and read my posting above on CAPPS II and the Bangladeshi plaintiff (mistaken for an Arab? some vague “other” and suspect?). Another plaintiff, whose name was Adams, got a “no-fly” tag because, the ACLU thought, she edited an anti-war magazine; turns out that people with “J Adams” appellation were having trouble — some clerical glitch that apparently would screen out John Quincy Adams but maybe not a real live terrorist.

    So, is ethnic screening going to a panacea? Or are we going to find out that we screened out everybody but the next bunch of perpetrators? Or, worse yet, focused on airliner security and didn’t protect the airline concourses, or the container ports, or the petrochemical plants?

    Footnote to Robin: I’ve lived in a number of countries (Central America, not Middle East) where the average person knew far less of us than we did of them, countries that had maybe two or three newspapers and damn few book publishers. I can remember being told, told resentfully, by one Guatemalan bookseller that we North Americans were rich in information, never mind the money. So it isn’t meant as a stereotyping of US citizens, Robin, and certainly certain Islamic views of us sound equally ignorant.

    The issue here is this thread is whether we’re picking out the right suspects for further interrogation. I’m not confident we are. And if we think screening is going to be the cure-all for our insecurities we’re being terribly mistaken.

  128. if we think screening is going to be the cure-all for our insecurities we’re being terribly mistaken

    On this, we are in total agreement, Bob.

  129. Bob / Robin / Gary / Lurker
    On that we all agree. I don’t think anyone here is ready to settle for internment camps either. That’s not to say if it becomes a necessity it wont be done.

  130. We are in agreement, it seems, though this _has_ been a popular thread.

    A couple of cautionary tales would be the US reliance on internal security in the two world wars. In the first war, the Alien and Espionage Acts didn’t necessarily prevent the Imperial German “campaign of sabotage”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0912697989/qid=1090810202/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/002-5499771-0426407?v=glance&s=books which may have included “a terrorist bombing”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005VYW7/qid=1090810290/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-5499771-0426407?v=glance&s=books in San Francisco. Those acts did prove useful for deporting Russian aliens, crushing the Socialist Party and the IWW, and leaving some memorable dissents by Justices Brandeis “and Holmes”:http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/abrams.html.

    Ditto for WWII, in which we did indeed intern over 100,000, mostly US citizens, among them Fred Korematsu, who is still alive and whose “brief”:http://www.jenner.com/files/tbl_s69NewsDocumentOrder/FileUpload500/88/Fred_Korematsu_amicusbrief0104.pdf is a good caution to us now. The people locked up had committed no espionage, “but that just proves how devious their planning is,” credited to then-California Attorney General Earl Warren among others, simply shows how damaging it looks in retrospect to those who said it at the time.

    “Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.” — Brandeis, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 at 376 (1927)

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