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Saturday, July 31, 2004

"Terror in the Skies" follow-up 

Regular TigerHawk readers will remember that I blogged the early phases of the "Terror in the Skies" story, in which a writer named Annie Jacobson described her suspicions and her fears on observing 14 Syrian men acting strangely on a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles. My posts were here, here, here and here. My contributions have been trivial, however, so if you want to follow every jot and twittle of the story go to Michelle Malkin and just start scrolling through the last two weeks.

Suffice it to say that Annie reported her concerns, and the 14 musicians were detained in Los Angeles for a while by federal investigators, who eventually concluded that they were who they said they were and sent them on their way. Since then, various people both on and off the record have responded by accusing Annie Jacobson of racism or paranoia, although many people have been very supportive of her vigilence. So the question remains, was she a vigilent and careful patriot exposing yet another hole in our security regime (i.e., that bombs might be assembled on board from apparently benign components brought on the plane notwithstanding airport security)? Or was she a paranoid racist who, at best, is the unfortunate product of the risk inflation peddled by the Bush Administration?

Now Spoons weighs in with a rant against Jacobson's critics, which includes the following:
Remember one of the main criticisms of Jacobsen's story? Namely, that where were the reports from other passengers on the flight?

Here's one:

The passenger, who was riding in first class, said the constant foot traffic and strange behavior she witnessed in the front cabin frightened her as much as it did Annie Jacobsen, the first passenger who publicly reported the incident.

"I thought I was going to die," the second passenger told The Washington Times.

* * *

The second passenger said she did not share her concerns with the flight attendants because "I thought I was just crazy, and I didn't want to be the crazy person on the flight that stands up and says something is wrong, but I will now in the future. I praise Annie for what she did, because I didn't have the guts to."

I'm on Annie's side, too. The ultimate truth of Annie Jacobson's allegations is immaterial. The important thing is that she did what we are all supposed to do, which is be vigilent. The fact that the 14 Syrians may not have been casing the plane for more lethal purposes could not be less relevant. The only guilty people in the event were the "investigators" who failed to ascertain that most of the Syrians had overstayed their visas -- that is breathtaking incompetence in the post-9/11 world, especially when are deporting cute European women (OK, French women) who commit the apparently new offense of coming to the United States too frequently, even if they have always left within the required time. I hope upon hope that the various culpable law enforcement agencies are taking corrective action, and these fools will never again question a huge group of alien men without checking the validity of their papers.

The pantheon of stupidty expands post-hoc to include those who complain that Jacobson was paranoid, or worse, racist. Fourteen Syrian men on one flight, with one-way tickets, walking the aisles in groups while the seatbelt light is on and the plane is descending in Los Angeles for the final approach, and we're supposed to ignore them because to question them or report them might be insulting? Come on. In reporting this event to law enforcement officers Annie did as any strong and loyal citizen should do, and in writing about it she did as any honest blogger would have done.

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