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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Annie's flight: liveblogging Scarborough follow-up 

Joe Scarborough is updating his story of last night (liveblogged here) that discussed Annie Jacobson's account of the 14 Syrian musicians on a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles at the end of June.

Scarborough has two airline types - a first officer and a woman from the flight attendant's union, and Dave Adams from the air marshalls service.

First, the pilot (not the pilot from the flight), Latane Campbell: "I would have to back up the passengers in this case.... I want to commend the passengers who were speaking with the flight attendants in particular.... Arabic men congregating around the men's room when the seatbelt sign is on is highly unusual."

Scarborough brings up the Woods case again, in which actor James Woods saw such a "practice run" involving four the cretins who murdered our people on September 11.

Jeanne Elliott, the flight attendant union rep, defends the actions of the crew on the flight, suggesting that there was lots of crew responsiveness behind the scenes, notwithstanding Jacobson's account.

Adams, the air marshall (apparently speaking for the Air Marshalls Service, says that the 14 Syrians were under surveillance the entire time, and that the marshalls were "constantly vigilant." The marshalls notified the authorities in Los Angeles.

Scarborough invites anybody who was on the flight to email Joe@MSNBC.com, and then moves on.

My question: Why didn't he ask why the investigators didn't ask to see the alleged band's instruments?

UPDATE: I just sent the following email to Scarborough:
Mr. Scarborough:

First, let me suck up: You are awesome, and have turned me into a committed viewer.

That having been said, I was disappointed that in tonight's show you did not ask Dave Adams, the fellow from the air marshalls service, to respond to Annie Jacobson's charge last night that the investigators didn't ask to see the band's instruments. That seemed like an unbelievably obvious question to ask, yet Jacobson said that the investigators said they hadn't "gotten that far into the weeds," or words to that effect. If you do follow this story, I would love to see you follow up on that.

Let's see if he follows up.

UPDATE (10:55 PM): Professor Bainbridge has published a reader email with a less dramatic but nevertheless curiously similar story.

The dilemma behind these stories is terribly difficult to resolve. Are we prisoners of observer bias, hunting for witches on 21st century aircraft instead of in 17th century Salem? It would be comforting to think so, were it not for two facts. The first is that we know there are many Muslims -- perhaps not as a proportion of the total but certainly in absolute numbers -- who want to kill American civilians as dramatically as possible. The second is that we know the 9/11 killers ran "practice runs" and reconnaisance missions. Does the second fact in particular decrease the probability that we are victims of our own assumptions, or increase that probability?

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