Patterico's Pontifications

7/22/2004

A Different Perspective on “Terror in the Skies”

Filed under: Air Security,Terrorism — Patterico @ 11:20 pm

Apparently the air marshals on the flight say the real danger was posed by the author of the “Terror in the Skies” piece — because she allegedly overreacted.

UPDATE: And yet, all 14 of these Syrians were in the country with expired visas. And let go. (Link via PrestoPundit, as well as Chadster in the comments.)

Not to worry. What harm can be done by someone with an expired visa?

Oh . . . right.

UPDATE x2: A commenter points out that the link above has been updated to reflect the possibility that the Syrians were here legally despite their expired visas. It’s a technical issue of immigration law, and it’s apparently unclear as applied to these folks. So the jury’s still out as to whether they were in the country legally. If so, that changes things.

As I say in the comments, the fact that I pointed people to the link about the air marshals’ view doesn’t mean I agree with it. Before we jump to conclusions regarding this woman’s alleged hysteria, we should look at the motivations of the parties involved. Yes, having written the story, Ms. Jacobsen has a motive to make the incident sound serious. But conversely, the air marshals, having done essentially nothing on the flight, have a motive to justify their inaction by making Ms. Jacobsen sound hysterical.

It sounds like *someone* on the plane with authority took Ms. Jacobsen’s concerns seriously. Doesn’t it? After all, I wonder who radioed folks on the ground to meet the Syrians. Obviously, it wasn’t Ms. Jacobsen. And if she was the only problem on that plane, as the air marshals seem to be suggesting, then why didn’t the FBI meet her instead of the Syrians?

I’ll stay on top of this. I hope readers with information will continue to leave comments.

UPDATE x3: By the way, the hat tip for the KFI link should go to Xrlq, who mentioned it in the comments to this post.

UPDATE x4: Regardless of the extent of Ms. Jacobsen’s alleged hysteria, the most worrisome aspect of her article remains a concern: the ridiculous government policy preventing more than two people of the same ethnicity from being selected for additional screening. Some have claimed this is a myth, but it’s not. I will probably do a stand-alone post on this soon.

UPDATE x5: And still more here. Apparently the Syrians were released before authorities checked their immigration status!

Los Angeles Times Editors Pontificate on Berger

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 7:29 am

I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t followed every detail of the curious Sandy Berger case. But an editorial in this morning’s Los Angeles Times, titled The Berger Smoke Screen, makes assertions about the affair for which I haven’t seen proof:

Berger, who admits he made an “honest mistake,” is guilty of taking copies and handwritten notes (that too is a serious violation of the rules) but not original documents.

The editorial goes on to say:

Anyway, the problem with such theories would be that because the original documents remain in the National Archives, Berger would not have been able to deny the 9/11 commission access to them. Any attempted cover-up would not have covered anything up. Instead, he’s now drawn attention to the documents.

In the accounts I have read, there appears to be some dispute about whether the documents Berger took were true “copies” or “originals.” For example, this AP story says:

The Archives, which is the nation’s repository for presidential papers, is believed to have copies of some of the missing documents.

I find it hard to reconcile that quote with the assertions of the Times editors that all the originals remain in The Archives.

From what I have read, it appears that many of the documents were “copies” of a report on the millennium terror plot, but it also appears that some of those “copies” bore handwritten notes from Clinton administration officials. As this Washington Post story from today says:

[A] government source said the Archives employees were deferential toward Berger, given his prominence, but were worried when he returned to view more documents on Oct. 2. They devised a coding system and marked the documents they knew Berger was interested in canvassing, and watched him carefully. They knew he was interested in all the versions of the millennium review, some of which bore handwritten notes from Clinton-era officials who had reviewed them. At one point an Archives employee even handed Berger a coded draft and asked whether he was sure he had seen it.

At the end of the day, Archives employees determined that that draft and all four or five other versions of the millennium memo had disappeared from the files, this source said.

If the “handwritten notes from Clinton-era officials” are original notes, that would make these particular copies irreplaceable originals. Do the Times editors know the answer to this question?

I just don’t know how the Times editors conclude with such certainty that Berger took only copies. What do they know that I don’t?

As I say, I haven’t followed every twist and turn in this story. Maybe there’s evidence out there that I have missed. But I haven’t seen any proof that only copies were taken, except in numerous quotes from Berger’s attorney to the effect that Berger believed he was looking only at copies. I rather suspect the Times editors have simply decided to take as gospel the word of Berger, as expressed through his attorney — despite the other evidence I have cited.

UPDATE: A USA Today story says:

Other copies of the material still exist, and there is no indication that Berger’s action affected the commission’s investigation, a [9/11 Commission] panel spokesman has said.

I’m not sure how authoritative that statement is, in light of the revelation that the missing documents were copies of a single document — but contained different sets of handwritten notes on them. How does the panel spokesman know they still have copies of each version with the handwritten notes? The article doesn’t say.

UPDATE x2: Reader J.K. points to another quote in the Times editorial that asserts certain knowledge concerning a point that I had thought was still undecided: “By contrast, the motives for whoever in the administration leaked the Berger investigation appear clear enough.”

There are plenty of theories out there suggesting it was a leftist who leaked the investigation. For example, Kevin Drum says: “My guess is that some sharp Democratic operative figured out that this wasn’t going to stay a secret forever and decided (correctly) that it was better to get it into the open now rather than later.”

But Times editors somehow know it was someone in the Bush administration. It’s asserted in an offhand way, as though we all know and agree that this is a fact. The editors are not going to tell you how they “know” this, of course. Just trust them. They wouldn’t say it if they didn’t know it to be true. Right?

Apparently the title of the editorial, “The Berger Smoke Screen,” is also a good description of the editorial.

UPDATE x3: More here and here.


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