Thursday, July 26, 2007

'I'd Like an Aisle Seat. And Could You Hold the Cheese?'

In what has to be the most frightening development on the homeland security front so far, the TSA has released a bulletin placing beyond all doubt that terrorists in the USA have been conducting dry runs and dress rehearsals for attacks on US airliners.

On at least four occasions passengers, (ethnicity passed over in silence by the too-timid TSA), were found to have checked baggage containing simulated IEDs, outfitted variously with wire coils, electric switches, a 9-volt batteries, cell phone chargers, and sticks of modeling clay or block cheese, which share similar consistency to plastic explosive. That makes it ideal for testing x-ray detection of the working models.

And why would you try to smuggle a make-believe bomb in your Samsonite to be stowed a cell-phone call away below your airline seat? Two reasons come to mind. You’re crazy, or you’re looking for a hole in the system.

NBC News obtained the bulletin and ran it on their website last week. (“Incidents at U.S. Airports May Suggest Possible Pre-Attack Probing”). Without doubt my favorite line from it is this:

“Terrorists may repeat operational tests to desensitize, distract, or adapt plans for specific environments.”

"Desensitize" is the operative verb in this case. We already know a strong pattern is at work wherein domestic jihadists, howl on cue and in unison against “profiling and Islamaphobia” the second there's even a hint of law enforcement action against any Islamist bad guy. This method has achieved astounding success in quieting criticism from the nonMuslim population. Now when some new security test by a Middle Eastern male is reported, the average person just shrugs. What would have been an outrage during those few weeks folowing 9/11 is now just no big deal.

And to a large extent Americans have also gotten desensitized to double standards applied to protect Middle Easterners.

At least we’re desensitized when we’re still on terra firma.

I happen to think that just before takeoff, or at 23,000 feet, Islamic desensitizing or distracting passengers isn’t quite doing the trick. In fact, I’m sure it doesn’t. Similar to the old slogan about there being no atheists in foxholes, I’ll wager even the most conscience-smitten PC chump relapses into rational thinking when he and his loved ones are confined in a tiny cabin in the sky, and suddenly at risk from members of an international gang with a very, very bad record for murderous behavior.

And when post-9/11 passengers or crew in flight have been called upon to come to their own defense, they’ve consistently done so, the way the passengers on the US Air flight did when they refused to take off with the clearly bent six provocateur imams aboard, ("Flying While Still Remembering 9/11"), or the rugby pileup on top of Richard Reid.

In fact, it is only when PC airlines and government poofs apply their deadly rationalizations that the risk factors start to go back up.

For example, when the federal government and the airlines elected prevention of “discrimination” in screening to be the higher priority over preventing the deaths of innocents from terrorism.

Michael Smerconish interviewed 9/11 Commissioner John Lehman, shortly after the April 2004 hearing in which then National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice testified ("Profiling: Street Smarts by Any Other Name"):

“Lehman's focus was the transition between the Clinton and Bush administrations. He told Rice that he was "struck by the continuity of the policies rather than the differences," and then he proceeded to ask Rice a series of blunt questions as to what she was told during the transition.
Among Lehman's questions was this: "Were you aware that it was the fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory?"

Rice replied: "No, I have to say that the kind of inside arrangements for the FAA are not really in my...." (Lehman quickly followed up: "Well, these are not so inside.")

Smerconish realized the significance of the exchange, and interviewed Lehman himself soon after the hearing. Smerconish describes it in a piece at NRO (“Listen to Lehman”):

“’We had testimony a couple of months ago from the past president of United, and current president of American Airlines that kind of shocked us all,’ Lehman told me. ‘They said under oath that indeed the Department of Transportation continued to fine any airline that was caught having more than two people of the same ethnic persuasion in a secondary line for line for questioning, including and especially, two Arabs.’

“Wait a minute. So if airline security had three suspicious Arab guys they had had to let one go because they'd reached a quota?

“That was it, Lehman said, ‘because of this political correctness that became so entrenched in the 1990s, and continues in current administration. No one approves of racial profiling, that is not the issue. The fact is that Norwegian women are not, and 85-year-old women with aluminum walkers are not, the source of the terrorist threat. The fact is that our enemy is the violent Islamic extremism and the overwhelming number of people that one need to worry about are young Arab males, and to ask them a couple of extra questions seems to me to be common sense, yet if an airline does that in numbers that are more than proportionate to their number in particular line, then they get fined and that is why you see so many blue haired old ladies and people that are clearly not of Middle Eastern extraction being hauled out in such numbers because otherwise they get fined.’”

Sort of affirmative action for terrorists. As far as I can find out, the quota system has never been corrected.

Then there was the situation recounted in blogger Annie Jacobsen’s August 2004 account of Northewst flight #327 from Detroit to LA, (“Terror in the Skies, Again?”). In it, she describes how a planeload of passengers, including Jacobsen, her husband, and her young son, were terrorized for four hours by 14 Middle Eastern males doing a dress rehearsal for a hijacking or a bombing. One of the federal air marshals on the plane later admitted all the suspicious behavior actually did happen, but blew Jacobsen's account off because no federal crime had been committed, such as interfering with the flight crew. and Time Magazine (“An Air Marshal’s View of Flight 327”), both tried to certify Ms. Jacobsen’s account as an “urban myth.” They both cited the feds’ explanation that the Middle Eastern passengers turned out to be who they said they were (Syrian traveling musicians), and ultimately weren’t charged with committing an actual crime while aboard (such as interfering with the flight crew). From this they reasoned that Jacobsen’s fears that the men’s behavior was suspicious and far from innocent was just passenger “overreaction.” Besides, the feds claimed, (falsely), only inexperienced passengers got the willies, while no one in the flight crew was concerned.

Whether or not they committed an overt federal crime on that date is hardly the whole point. Nor does it follow that lack of an overt crime indicates all is well. Especially when the terrorist threat we face is ongoing, complex, and requires the connecting of circumstantial dots to ferret out.

A bank robber casing a bank a few days before he plans to pull his holdup wouldn't show up carrying a weapon and a stick-up note, with a getaway car running outside with at the curb. He comes in, looks around, maybe conducts some small transaction, the whole time pretending to be normal and harmless. He’s committing no crime, but he’s not innocent. So why is it incredible that otherwise legitimate traveling Syrian musicians, sympathetic to jihad, are recruited and become willing to do a dry run that stops far short of an overt violent act, are pieces in a terror puzzle? Or, more to the point, why are vigilant citizens who point it out shut down as “overreacting”?

In fact, Homeland Security’s own Inspector General’s report of the Flight 327 incident, released in 2006, confirms that the behavior of the Middle Eastern passengers was extremely suspicious. It also revealed that it wasn’t only passengers who saw suspicious activities, but at least three flight attendants reported suspicious behavior, at least twice, and the captain notified LAX to have security standing by at the request of one of the air marshals. Then, after flight 327 landed, “the names of the suspicious passengers were run through Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) databases, indicating the musical group’s promoter (promoter) had been involved in a similar incident in January 2004.”

According to a TSA incident report of January 28, 2004, the promoter had been “one of eight passengers acting suspiciously aboard Frontier Airlines Flight 577 from Houston, through Denver, to San Francisco. Flight attendants reported all eight passenger kept trying to switch seats while boarding and during the flight, made repeated service requests in what the attendants described as an effort to keep the flight crew occupied. One took a cell phone into the ‘front lavatory,’ remained in the lavatory for over 15 minutes, but did not appear to have the phone when leaving the lavatory.”

Is it so incredible that an Islamist music promoter doesn’t only promote gigs, but promotes opportunities to contribute to the greater Jihad?

Now after three years the statements by Lehman, and stories like Annie Jacobsen’s seem like old news. But it was just last year that the six imams pulled their dress rehearsal in Minneapolis. Nor have we seen many any signs that TSA security has gotten better. And, CAIR and the six imams have used their ejection from the US Air flight to bring a lawsuit against civilian passengers to try to scare future vigilant witnesses into silence.

Now, we get news of multiple bomb rehearsals.

One of the things that struck me about the rehearsal of the six imams was that, if they were trying to gauge the limits of passengers’ willingness to put up with provocative behavior long enough to enable future terrorists to get an onboard plot in motion, then their particular test revealed passengers won’t be willing to put up with it. In case of the six imams, the passengers wouldn’t even allow the plane to take off while these gemulks were still aboard.

The jihadists have likely concluded that post-9/11 passenger vigilance makes destruction of an airplane in flight impractical by means of the “muscle hijacker” method used so effectively on 9/11 to gain control of the passenger cabin and cockpit. Maybe they’ve gone back to the drawing board and decided a bomb stowed in the luggage compartment, activated by cell phone, is a better idea.

The 9/11 Commission found that the 9/11 hijackers had conducted dry runs in advance. Certainly had they been detained on those dry runs they also would have been found to have not committed any federal crime--yet.

I'm not asking for federal law enforcement to arrest Middle Eastern males whose behavior is supicious, but not illegal. I'm only asking for greater vigilance, and maybe a bit more curiosity. When you've got guys coming back from the lavatory smelling of toilet chemicals, or running up the aisle full-tilt towards the cockpit, a bit of voluntary follow up from the guys with the silver stars would be reassuring.

The Inspector General's report was very critical that the FBI and the Federal Air Marshal Service had comletely fallen down by relasing these guys too soon, failing to flag the incident for Homeland Security, and only bothering to do a follow-up investigation after seeing reports on the story weeks later on cable news. The report also described how that both the FBI agent and air marshal weren't interested in taking witness statements after the flight, telling the pilot and co-pilot they "weren't needed," and only taking two passenger statements because the two passengers insisted on giving them.

Hey, fellas, we all know flying tires you out, but this is ridiculous.

It’s an axiom of the mental-health industry that, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Nobody puts together mock IEDs with block cheese because they’re trying to practice their religion in peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding U of M Footbaths:

Well, for anyone who thought that construction of foot baths at the U of M Fairlane Center was a fantasy, let it be known that complete construction plans have been completed for the footbaths and bids from general contractors are about to be solicited. The footbath room is to be constructed using part of an existing women's restroom which is located next door to a storage room which will be dedicated as a prayer room once the footbath construction is completed. . So, Muslims will now be accommodated such that they can wash their feet and tip toe next door and worship in their own room.

If you remember, the University spokes people have said this is something they are doing as a health and safety measure since Muslims are now washing their feet in restroom sinks. Well, I am here to tell you that NO ONE at the Fairlane Center has EVER seen anyone washing their feet in a sink…EVER.

But, even if you accept that lame explanation, one has to ask why construct a footbath next to a room they plan to dedicate to them for a prayer room? Let me see now, what religion is it that they say requires the washing of feet before praying? Could it be those of the Muslim faith? Gee, that sounds as if they are providing facilities based upon religion…something expressly forbidden in the Michigan Constitution …something the writers of that document felt important enough to be one of the very first issues addressed (Article 1, Section 4)!!

I know that Robert Behrens, the Vice Chancellor, has received hundreds of angry calls voicing very strong opposition to the concept of providing footbaths, but it has rolled off his back like water off a duck. If anyone has written to any or all of the U of M Regents, they have ignored it as well. Threats of a class action suit haven't fazed them either. Letters to state representatives and other legislators hasn't done the trick.

And, remember, this is the same institution that refuses to display a Christmas tree or other type of ornaments since it might offend those of other faiths?

I wish I could think of another word that described their attitude other than "arrogant". The word "arrogant" doesn't really fit…it just isn't severe enough. "Criminal", if even in a civil sense, might be a good term since what they are doing ignores the laws of the State of Michigan. Can their actions be described as "high crimes and misdemeanors"? Isn't that the phrase they use when considering impeachment for a president? Can we impeach the regents?

Oh well, I prattle on. What we need is a renewed anger. Call, write letters, write e-mails, demonstrate with placards, etc. etc. Maybe it won't help if those we elected can't be trusted to do the right thing by enforcing the law because they are more afraid of the negative political correctness backlash affecting their next vote count. Goes to show you who and what they value most, doesn't it? It sure isn’t the right thing.

But, let's try anyhow. Write and remember to tell them you are jotting down their names on a piece of paper that you will be taking into the voting booth on your next trip to the polls. Let's JUMP UP AND DOWN, and make some more noise on this issue.

And, as an aside, U of M Fairlane campus is also constructing a "unisex" bathroom for those who are not sure of their gender or their sexual preferences. Ah well….sigh!!

U of M Employee

Tom, once again, please withhold my address and name…it could mean my job otherwise.