Patterico's Pontifications


Anonymous Air Marshals and Flight Crew Members Continue to Contradict Annie Jacobsen

Filed under: Air Security,Terrorism — Patterico @ 10:30 pm

More from the Federal Air Marshal Service on the “Terror in the Skies” incident, courtesy of the New York Times. (Link via the Commissar.)

(If you are unfamiliar with this incident, the background is available in my “Terrorism” category.)

Today’s article, by Joe Sharkey, opens this way:

One of the major remaining questions about Northwest Airlines Flight 327 on June 29 from Detroit to Los Angeles – the flight that was met by federal agents and local police responding to a possible terrorist incident – is this:

Did, as a passenger reported, 7 of the 13 Syrian musicians whose behavior was terrifying some passengers stand up in unison and take strategic positions by the lavatories and the exit door during final approach to Los Angeles, an act that would have been a frighteningly overt and unambiguous provocation?

They did not, according to the Federal Air Marshal Service, which had previously left unchallenged assertions by Annie Jacobsen, a freelance writer on the flight, that they did.

“What happened was, they were already standing up in the aisle before the seat belt signs became illuminated,” said Dave Adams, a spokesman for the agency, which represents air marshals who travel undercover on airplanes.

“The flight attendants asked them to sit down and the men respected the orders and sat in their seats. Two gentlemen asked why they had to, and a flight attendant told them ‘Because, so please take your seats.’ And they obeyed,” he said.

The new information, he added, came from “subsequent interviews of flight attendants on this matter by our personnel.”

So there was absolutely no sudden move by the men on final approach?

“None,” Mr. Adams said.

Spoons says:

I’m sure that the fact that that they’ve recently been called to account by Congress for the Marshals’ lack of action during the flight has nothing to do with it.

I have previously expressed such suspicions about comments made by anonymous air marshals on the flight — who, by the way, remain anonymous. As I said, “the air marshals, having done essentially nothing on the flight, have a motive to justify their inaction by making Ms. Jacobsen sound hysterical.” For all the accusations levelled at Annie Jacobsen for being a coward, she is the only person on the flight so far who has had the guts to make her name public. And that includes the flight attendants, who (perhaps unlike the air marshals) have no pressing need to keep their identities secret.

I’ll point out that Sharkey’s column ends this way:

It is important to note that the Jacobsens’ anxiety was not created out of thin air. Whether or not they misinterpreted the Syrians’ possibly loutish behavior, the account of Flight 327 comes as flight crews are being routinely warned by their operations departments that terrorists are “testing the system,” as one pilot told me, to see how crews behave and undercover air marshals can be flushed out with provocations.

“It’s just common sense,” said G. Bruce Hedlund, a pilot for 20 years for a major airline. “Any bad guy, from a smuggler to a terrorist, if they have any sense at all, they would case the job. These guys who did 9/11, some of them had flown so much they had frequent-flier status. What better way to probe the flight operation than from on board the plane?”

I’ll save the postscript for the extended entry:

John Kerry Fakes Love for Blue-Collar Food — Again!

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 10:05 pm

Will this guy ever learn?

Justin Levine on the Right of Publicity and the Schwarzenegger Bobblehead Doll Settlement

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 10:04 pm

When the man’s right, he’s right.

My E-Mail to an L.A. Times Reporter Asking Why the Paper Ignored John Kerry’s Failed Marine Photo-op at Wendy’s

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 9:56 pm

Goaded by commenter David Crisp, I have sent this e-mail to L.A. Times reporter Michael Finnegan:

Dear Mr. Finnegan,

I have a question regarding the story you and Edwin Chen wrote the other day in the Times titled “Kerry, Bush On the Road Again.” You described a visit to a Wendy’s restaurant by the Kerry campaign this way:

Kerry and Edwards, traveling with their wives, stopped for lunch in Newburgh, N.Y., population 28,000. In keeping with the Edwards’ wedding anniversary tradition, they ate at Wendy’s. “I’m treating,” Kerry told his running mate, as they entered the restaurant to a round of applause.

Nothing more was said about the Wendy’s visit.

I saw news stories published elsewhere that reported that, at the Wendy’s, Kerry saw a group of Marines and went over to chat. The Marines answered Kerry’s questions tersely. Afterwards, when reporters asked them about the incident, the Marines said they felt used by Kerry. They said they were 100% in favor of Bush and against Kerry. “He imposed on us and I disagree with him coming over here shaking our hands,” one said. They added that they supported what President Bush is doing in Iraq.

I am wondering why this story did not make it into the L.A. Times. It appears that your paper had a reporter there at the Wendy’s. Isn’t this story significant?

To illustrate my point, let’s turn the tables. Let’s pretend that Bush stops at a factory and approaches a couple of factory workers, with whom Bush poses for a photo-op. Bush asks the workers some questions, to which they give terse responses. After Bush leaves, the workers tell reporters that they are offended that Bush took advantage of them for a photo-op, and they support Kerry 100%, because Bush’s policies are costing factory workers jobs.

Don’t you think a story like that would make its way into that day’s Los Angeles Times story about the Bush campaign?

Full disclosure: I mentioned this omission on my blog (Patterico’s Pontifications). The address of my post addressing the issue is: While my blog currently receives an average of only about 900 visits a day, my complaint was picked up by a popular blogger (, and as a result several thousand people have read this complaint.

One of my commenters suggested that I write you to give you a chance to explain why this incident did not make its way into your paper. I initially resisted the idea of writing you, as I am guessing I know the reason: you simply didn’t think the incident was important. I disagree, and I doubt either of us will convince the other on this point. But my commenter suggests that there may be other explanations for the omission — for example, perhaps you were in the restroom when the incident happened. (It’s also possible that you included the story, but it was removed by an editor.)

Upon reflection, I have decided to write you to ask about this. If you purposely omitted this as a matter of news judgment, I’d appreciate it if you would respond to my hypothetical regarding Bush and the factory workers. Would such an incident be reported? If so, what’s different about the incident at the Wendy’s restaurant?

I would be happy to print your response in its entirety on my blog.

As an aside, I have also read about two other amusing incidents relating to the Wendy’s visit. Apparently Teresa Heinz-Kerry pointed to a picture of a bowl of chili and asked “What’s that?” Also, according to a local paper, while Kerry and Edwards were eating at the Wendy’s, they had gourmet meals waiting for them on the campaign bus — including shrimp vindallo, grilled diver sea scallops, prosciutto, wrapped stuffed chicken, and steak salad. I saw neither story mentioned in your article.

Minor points? Perhaps, but many voters of modest means might be offended at an apparent attempt by Kerry and Edwards to seem blue-collar, while such gourmet meals awaited them on their bus — and while the rich wife of the presidential candidate couldn’t even recognize a picture of a bowl of chili. Again, imagine these amusing stories — but the candidates are rich Republicans rather than rich Democrats. I have to believe they would have been reported in your paper under those circumstances.

I’d be interested in your reaction to all this. If you were not the correspondent who covered the Wendy’s visit, please let me know who was, and forward my e-mail to them.


Patrick Frey
Patterico’s Pontifications

I’ll let you know what he says.

Pakistan Captured Terrorists Even Before the Democratic Convention

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:36 am

To those who say that Pakistan didn’t capture any Al Qaeda terrorists until the Bush Administration pressured them to, to distract from the Democratic Convention, Steven Taylor has a little history lesson. (Via Wizbang.)

Free Brain Scan

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Patterico @ 6:25 am

So yesterday I got a call from a friend who says she knows a guy who wants to scan my brain.

I’m not kidding. Apparently this guy is doing an experiment to see whether the brains of Republicans scan differently from those of Democrats. He is based in L.A., and has Democrat volunteers coming out his ears — but can’t find a Republican anywhere in the vicinity.

So he asked his friend to find him some Republican brains to scan, and she called me.

I think I’ll do it. The experiment sounds a little goofy, to be honest, but a free brain scan never hurt, right?

P.S. By publishing a post like this, I know I am asking for some partisan and/or insulting comments. All I can ask is: try not to make them too obvious, mmmkay?

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