Patterico's Pontifications

5/27/2007

Feds Say “Terror in the Skies” Flight Was Indeed a Terrorist Dry Run

Filed under: Air Security,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 3:37 pm

The Washington Times‘s Audrey Hudson reports:

The inspector general for Homeland Security late Friday released new details of what federal air marshals say was a terrorist dry run aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on June 29, 2004.

This is the “Terror in the Skies” flight previously reported by Annie Jacobsen. Hudson says the full report will be available Wednesday; in the meantime, there are excerpts (see Captains Quarters, for example) that shed a little light on the subject, but not much.

This will be interesting.

My previous coverage of this flight includes these posts:

P.C. Consequences?

Government vs. Common Sense

A Different Perspective on “Terror in the Skies”

Ridiculous Government Policy Not Debunked

“I’m Not a Pessimist. I’m a Realist.”

Airline Hijacking Attempts Are Still a Concern

“Terror in the Skies” Update

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

More from Alleged Lone Hysteric Annie Jacobsen

UPDATE: When I first read this story, I wondered whether we would really have to wait until Wednesday for the whole report. And indeed, we don’t. Thanks to reader steve, here is a link to the report.

I see already that commenters are noting that the report doesn’t say the flight was a terrorist dry run — and indeed, it does not. But read Ms. Hudson’s article again. She doesn’t claim that. She says the report releases new details of what air marshals claim was a dry run. And indeed it does.

I am interested in hearing more about Ms. Hudson’s support for the assertion that air marshals have made this claim. I recall that air marshals at the time were remarkably defensive about the idea that this might be a dry run. But I have respect for Ms. Hudson and will continue to read her articles for more information in coming days.

In the meantime, some of you commenters need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

UPDATE x2: Here are some of the details noted by the report:

During the flight, about eight of the 13 Middle Eastern males behaved in a manner that aroused the attention and concern of flight attendants and passengers, and later of the air marshals and pilots. Suspicious activities noted by flight attendants and other passengers included:

• One man, with a limp, sitting in the emergency row area, repeatedly refused to exchange seats, pretending not to understand English, even though he spoke English to the gate agent. The promoter eventually helped convince him to change seats.

• One or two men walked the aisle, appearing to count passengers.

• One man rushed to the front of the plane appearing to head for the cockpit. At the last moment he veered into the first class lavatory, remaining in it for about 20 minutes.

• One man carried a large McDonald’s restaurant bag into a lavatory.

• Several men spent excessive time in the lavatories.

• Another man, upon returning from the lavatory, reeked strongly of what smelled like toilet bowl chemicals.

• Some men hand signaled each other. The passenger who entered the lavatory with the McDonald’s bag made a thumbs-up signal to another man upon returning from the lavatory. Another man made a slashing motion across his throat, appearing to say “No.”

• Several men congregated in the aisles, changed seats, and arose when the seat belt sign was turned on in preparation for landing.

Well, I don’t see anything suspicious there! Anyone who finds possible terrorist activity in that list is either a hysteric or a racist!

Right?

UPDATE x3: Another nugget from the report is the description of a prior flight in which the group’s promoter engaged in similarly suspicious activity:

Per TSA’s Suspicious Incident Report, the promoter was one of eight passengers acting suspiciously aboard Frontier Airlines Flight 577 from Houston, through Denver, to San Francisco. Flight attendants reported all eight passengers 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.

File under: “Things that make you go: Hmmmmmmm.”

90 Responses to “Feds Say “Terror in the Skies” Flight Was Indeed a Terrorist Dry Run”

  1. How many warnings will it take to wake up the perenially obtuse?

    Or, will we have to erect another monument somewhere with several thousand names upon it?

    And it only took 35 months to determine a threat existed! Unbelievable.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  2. How about the “flying imams” who are trying to sue the passengers who got them booted from a flight in Minnesota after they tried to provoke that very action?

    dubya (c16726)

  3. I’d wait to see the rest of the report. The excerpts in the story are of the allegedly suspicious behavior, not the conclusion the air marshals may have made (on what new evidence?).

    Color me very, very skeptical. Oh, and about those mobile weapons labs

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  4. Though Lazerus is said to have arisen, AJL will have greater difficulty digging himself out of that pit he’s in. It’s tough to coordinate appendages when suffering from cranial-rectal insertion syndrome.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  5. Here’s the report. Someone can scan it to spot an official conclusion this “was indeed a terrorist dry run.”

    http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/files/DHS-IG-Northwest-327.pdf

    steve (d2dde1)

  6. There is absolutely nothing in the report lined in 5 supporting the conclusion that the incident was indeed a terrorist dry run, only that it appeared suspicious to an air marshal and some passengers and crew at the time. Nothing. Most of the report is about improving coordination between law enforcement agencies, but it does also say

    Overall a key element when considering the response to this incident should be noted,
    which is that the 13 Syrian musicians were not terrorists and that the law enforcement
    assessments made by the FAMS and FBI on June 29, 2004 were appropriate. This is of
    particular importance when considering the involvement of the HSOC.

    [snip]

    According to IAIP, both DHS and FBI investigated the-suspicious incident
    concluding that while there were visa issues involved, it was not terrorist related.
    There was no evidence that any the individuals had terrorist group connections.

    So, just who has a head up an ass here? Oh, I forgot. It’s OK if you’re a fucktarded bigot.

    The report also suggests that the incident got the attention it did only because of the Washington Times and Scarborough, and I think that explains the egregious distortion needed to turn the paragraphs above into a determination of a terrorist plot.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  7. Steve,

    I agree the report doesn’t expressly say this was a terrorist dry run, although this report has been heavily redacted and it’s possible that portion was redacted for security reasons. Nevertheless, it certainly leaves the door open to that conclusion. A reasonable person might well conclude this was a dry run since the group’s promoter was involved in a similar incident on a previous flight. Once may be coincidence but twice suggests a pattern.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  8. You need to read more carefully, Andrew, and I really think you need to take a break. The people at this website are not your enemies.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  9. DRJ, which part of “Another Drew”‘s comment 4 did I misread? And the bold-faced part of the WashTimes article that Patterico posted—don’t you agree that it’s a statement that air marshals have determined that this was a dry run and that this is not supported by the open parts of the report?

    I didn’t misread these things. The Washington Times is lying about the report, and Another Drew prefers their lies to his own eyes.

    You need to change sides. :-)

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  10. Andrew,

    Two points:

    First, the OIG disagreed with the DHS and FBI conclusions and recommended that corrective action be taken by those organizations. Therefore, while I agree the OIG did not find that the 13 suspects were dangerous, the OIG did indicate the investigation was questionable. If that’s true, I don’t think we can rely on conclusions drawn from an incomplete or improper investigation.

    Second, the FBI claimed its investigation commenced June 29 when the flight landed and denied that it only began an investigation after the story went public on MSNBC and the Washington Times.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  11. DRJ, so that we don’t get Another Drew’s hopes up, OIG disagreed with the DHS/FBI belief that their investigation was adequate. They didn’t disagree with the conclusion that there was no sign of a terrorist plot, notwithstanding the WashTimes write-up. There’s nothing in the report recommending further investigation of the passengers, either. The recommendations are all about improving law enforcement procedures.

    But that isn’t the way it’s going to play with Michelle Malkin, Annie Jacobsen, and the rest of the 28%.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  12. Oh, I forgot: one FBI agent did say the investigation began only after the original WashTimes reporting (other than what was done on the day of the flight). The FBI says that isn’t true. I suspect it is, but I agree that the official story is otherwise.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  13. I generally agree with you, Andrew, but I think we also have to agree it’s possible there may be contrary information or conclusions contained in the redacted sections of the report. If so, I hope and expect the government is smart enough to redact that information from public view.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  14. DRJ, If, as you say, we can’t “rely on conclusions drawn from an incomplete or improper investigation,” why is careless journalism or a misleading headline a better resource?

    steve (d2dde1)

  15. I have updated the post to add the link to the report, which I have so far only scanned.

    I will say this: you folks need to work on your reading comprehension skills. Hint: did Ms. Hudson say the report claimed that the flight was a terrorist dry run? Hint #2: the answer is no.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  16. steve,

    Can you point us to the careless journalism or misleading headline?

    Ms. Hudson says that federal air marshals (which I would call the “feds”) say this was a dry run. Even if the report doesn’t say that, I trust that she has support for that statement, and we’ll see more about it in coming days.

    Of course, my faith in her could be misplaced. But I think she has a damn good track record on these issues, so I bet she has the support she claims to have.

    So far, we don’t have careless journalism or misleading headlines, as far as I know. We have only careless and misleading comments by you and Andrew Lazarus, both of whom are showing off your poor reading comprehension skills.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  17. In this case at least, AJL happens to be right: the facts presented in this article confirm Jacobsen’s story about the band’s suspicious behaviour, but do not confirm that there was in fact anything to it. Bear in mind that it has been definitely confirmed that Nour Mhanna did perform at the Sycuan casino two days after this incident, and that he did bring his own band. It remains possible that since they were traveling anyway they were asked by some terrorist organisation to test the airline’s security and report on what they found; that would explain their behaviour, but there’s nothing in this report to confirm that speculation.

    Milhouse (ac13c2)

  18. Patterico, by the time you finish reading the report, you will see that the air marshals did not say or in any other way conclude that the incident was a terrorist dry run. They did believe that the group’s behavior was suspicious, and they acted upon those suspicions, alerting law enforcement agencies. And the Washington Times reviews what this allegedly suspicious behavior was. I don’t think the report adds any new details about what the Syrians (allegedly) did, only about which law enforcement agencies did what afterwards.

    Unless you produce some section of the report that I missed, I am justified in concluding that the Washington Times summary is in error, to put it mildly. They have turned something air marshals thought might be true into something that they “said”, and therefore presumably believed. But in truth, so far—pending some yet-unreleased revelation—the section you have bold-faced and headlined is an unsupported assertion of Ms. Hudson’s. Amazingly, even though you appear to agree, you again, in your update, adopt her characterization.

    In summary, the report seems to show neither that the feds as a whole have concluded this was a terrorist dry run, nor that any air marshal said that it was “indeed” a dry run. Instead of quibbling about my reading comprehension, show us the warrant for your/Hudson’s characterization of the report. (Hint: as of now, there is none.)

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  19. Instead of quibbling about my reading comprehension, show us the warrant for your/Hudson’s characterization of the report.

    Andrew,

    First, it’s “my” characterization of nothing. I am simply quoting Hudson and nothing more.

    Second, I repeat: Hudson doesn’t say the *report* calls it a dry run. I have read the report and, while it has plenty of details that suggest to me that it was a dry run, I see no conclusion to that effect.

    Nor does Hudson say that the report so concludes.

    I am curious enough that I am going to try to find Ms. Hudson’s e-mail address and ask her about this directly. I agree that, so far, her assertion about what the air marshals say is unsubstantiated.

    I’ll stay on top of it, and while I don’t need you to keep me honest, I trust that you will anyway.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  20. One hopes she has something to show us. Hudson does seem overly fond of the “it was a terrorist dry run” phrase, repeating it with airy or nonexistent attribution:

    The incident on Flight 327 highlighted concerns that terrorists have been making “dry runs” on commercial jets in preparation for attacks.

    http://washingtontimes.com/national/20040729-111508-5912r.htm
    http://washingtontimes.com/national/20040727-123853-7608r.htm

    steve (d2dde1)

  21. I don’t like to speculate but … what the heck. Based on the phrasing of the first sentence of the linked article, I think Ms. Hudson interviewed one or more of the air marshals and that her “terrorist dry run” assertion was based on the interview(s).

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  22. Steve,

    It seems unlikely to me that Ms. Hudson employed non-existent attribution for her assertion that this was a terrorist dry run. First, she would seriously jeopardize her career and reputation by fabricating or misstating information. Second, she was specific in attributing the terrorist dry run assertion to “federal air marshals.” They may be unnamed but I doubt they are non-existent, especially since we know from the report that there were at least 2 air marshals on Flight 327.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  23. I think Andrew Lazarus has a good point—we shouldn’t fear people aboard airplanes who behave like terrorists—we should fear Michelle Malkin !

    Desert Rat (de5a83)

  24. Of course it was a terrorist dry run. If you burn a cross in a black person’s front yard, what the heck is that if not a hate crime?

    If you pull that stuff as reported, what else could it be but a hate crime?

    It’s not surprising that Syrian Musicians would be used to conduct this dry run, given Syria’s state support for terrorism, including Hezbollah (the #2 killer of Americans after AQ) and of course Andrew’s buddies Al Qaeda.

    Let’s face it, according to the Pew Poll 25% of American Muslims 18-34 support suicide bombings; over 60% of ALL American Muslims don’t think Muslims did 9/11.

    These guys should have been arrested and spent time in jail. If they hadn’t been Muslim and the forces of PC which Andrew personifies, had not stepped in they would be in jail. Perhaps to this day. But just as in Britain, where Tony Blair charged Left-Wing Judges and Parliament put terrorists rights (for foreigners) over public safety, we are compromising the basic right of people not to have their plane hijacked into a building for Andrew’s right to PC platitudes and moralizing.

    And why not? Folks like Andrew don’t ride with the peons. Liberals take private Gulfstreams (ask Laurie David and Sheryl Crowe). They exist to tell ordinary people how many squares in the bathroom and to take it and like it when terrorists attack.

    Out in the real world, the lack of the government to recognize the problem: Muslims are a massive terror threat, and need watching has led IMHO to a another, real law.

    There is the phony, ridiculous, and stupid PC law that informs the life of Patterico. No one respects or believes (sorry Patterico) for one second that the Law is on the side of public safety instead of PC. So any suspicious Muslims will have people interrogating them. Some folks will fight them, others refuse to board (as happened on British Airways). Because it’s your life. We all know it wasn’t old ladies or Presybyterians, or the Mormons flying planes into buildings. The real law, the one that says, give in to PC and you’re dead, screaming as the plane crashes into a building, means Muslims may not face profiling by the Government, but sure as hell will by their fellow passengers who wish not to be killed.

    Funny that. How people will react to the failure of the government for it’s first (and really only duty): prevent predators from killing them.

    No matter how much Andrew loves the terrorists.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  25. From Steve’s second link:

    Since the report, several other pilots and marshals have come forward and confirmed that groups of men are conducting what looks like dry runs for a terrorist attack.
    “We are being constantly surveilled and probed” by terrorists, one air marshal said.

    and

    “Organized terrorists have been and are doing probes,” a second air marshal said. The Jacobsens’ account is credible “because it is eerily similar to previous incidents that have happened on planes.”

    It sure sounds like she’s been talking directly to air marshals. While identifying them would strengthen the story, I assume that they can’t go on the record, given the undercover nature of their work.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  26. Once may be coincidence but twice suggests a pattern.

    No, the correct quote is “Once is happenstance, twice is circumstance, but three times is enemy action.” — Goldfinger

    dubya (c16726)

  27. Dry run, cry run… the thing that’s got the lefties underwear in a bunch is the “profiling” aspect.

    A bunch of mideastern-looking and sounding guys do a bunch of suspicious stuff on an airplane. Mideastern terrorists recently hijacked four airplanes simultaneously and used them as human-guided missiles, killing nearly 3,000. People get scared because the guys fit people’s internal “profile” of terrorists. Scared people report the suspicious guys to the authorities (exactly what they SHOULD do, hopefully before the plane takes off!).

    “Oh, we’ve got to criminalize people’s internal profiles of terrorists and sue them when a bunch of imams provoke reactions based on these profiles, because, you see it’s discrimination and against our agenda of tolerance of diversity,” say the lefties and American Criminal Liberties Union.

    Profiling works — just ask El Al airline’s security folks. Criminalizing profiling is providing aid and comfort to criminals and terrorists.

    dubya (c16726)

  28. steve and Andrew Lazarus,

    If Hudson does end up having support for her assertion, will you apologize for the things you’ve said here?

    Patterico (eeb415)

  29. Patterico: two points. You need to add “Right-wing newspaper reporter says” to the beginning of this post’s headline if you really don’t want to be criticized for adhering to these unsourced claims.

    Second, let’s see what Hudson’s support looks like. While I realize that air marshals have to be anonymous, one air marshal (who might not even have been on the flight) saying on behalf of himself and no one else, “Yeah, that was a dry run” doesn’t have much weight with me, any more than an anonymous Army officer saying Iraq is messed up beyond repair and we should withdraw would matter to you. If Hudson manages to provide a conclusion or finding of the air marshal service, obviously I would have to retract what I’ve said.

    I don’t expect that to happen. The WashTimes is already on the hook for spreading this story; why shouldn’t they double down?

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  30. Andrew:

    I expect Hudson will report details corroborating exactly what she said: that federal air marshals (plural) say this was a dry run.

    When she does, will you apologize for falsely claiming that she “lied” about what the report said?

    She is not to blame for your inability to read simple English. She said federal air marshals said it, you read that as a claim that the report said it, and you called her a liar.

    I would qualify my headline if I doubted the story. I don’t.

    Patterico (89f00a)

  31. On July 29, 2004 (see steve’s link) the same reporter wrote

    Since the report, several other pilots and marshals have come forward and confirmed that groups of men are conducting what looks like dry runs for a terrorist attack. [my emphasis]

    Over the passage of time, the “looks like” has morphed into “says”. This is from the current article.

    The Times first reported on July 22 [presumably 2004 –AJL] that this and other probes and dry runs were occurring on commercial flights since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

    See? Now the July 2004 articles are cited as evidence, not speculation.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  32. It strikes me as a matter of common sense that this was a dry run, simply based on the facts as we know them. In some respects semantics (“looks like” vs. “say”) are somewhat beside the point, although I am glad to see that the government finally seems to be admitting that Ms. Jacobsen and others on the flight were not hysterics.

    I can’t help wondering, why are some folks so invested in this incident *not* being a dry run?

    Best wishes,
    Laura

    Laura (de5a83)

  33. Andrew, what exactly is your metric for determining whether something is a dry run or not? Obviously, if it’s a dry run, there isn’t going to be a smoking gun. And air marshals don’t have a mechanism for making official findings or conclusions, they’re the front line. So, the only thing left is confessions. Is that what you’ll require, or does the opinion of those trained to spot such things and prevent such attacks carry any weight?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  34. The fact that DHS and the FBI don’t think the band is connected to terrorists (comment 6) seems to me a splendid counterargument to the idea this was a dry run. I don’t think it’s healthy for either people or countries to be terrified of bogeymen under the bed.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  35. Andrew,

    On the other hand, the tendency of the FBI, CIA, and other government agencies not to worry about “bogeymen under the bed” gave us 9/11.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  36. If this is characterized as a “dry run,” then it gives credibility to the idea that terrorists want to kill us.
    And no matter what the body of evidence is, guys like Andy Lazarus just can’t bring themselves to reach the same conclusion asserted by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Michelle Malkin, and all the other players in the “right-wing” cabal who are plotting to make people who behave like terrorists appear to be….terrorists !
    After all, terrorists don’t exist, and in the words of Johnny $400 Haircut, “The ‘war on terrorism’ is just a catch phrase !”

    This is otherwise known as “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

    Desert Rat (de5a83)

  37. Andrew, I asked what it would take to convince you that this was a dry run, and whether you put any stock in the opinions of the air marshals.

    Just which governmental entities are you willing to put your trust in? Or does it depend on what you want the answer to be?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  38. The “full report” is to be available Wednesday. Why don’t we all just step back and see what it contains, along with any other edification that may become available?

    Perhaps at that time, those who have gone into attack-mode may be able to re-assess their positions, and actions.

    Personally, I have always thought that when it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, etc etc., it is a duck.

    This one will be found to be a duck! There are too many dots to ignore, which we (as a country) famously did during the 90′s.

    I, for one, never intend to ignore dots again. When we ignore those pesky things on a micro level, we literally walk into situations that are not good (muggings, assaults, etc). On a macro level, we had 9/11!

    If you do not wish to see, please do not irritate the rest of us with your self-destructive tendencies.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  39. First I’ll admit my knowledge of the facts of the event is limited to what I read in blog and news reports at the time, and reading the Captain’s Quarters blog entry that Patterico cited above. The CQ entry is essentially a synopsis of what I recall from postings about the event at the time.

    From that limited set of facts, a fairly obvious, mundane, and entirely innocent explanation of the musician’s actions came to mind. I’m not wedded to the speculation as an ironclad explanation, but I do wonder whether those investigating the event and interviewing the suspects ever asked the specifically appropriate questions, or checked available physical evidence, to support or discount it. I’ll toss the speculation out here for slicing, dicing, pounding and pontification:

    Sometime before going to the boarding gate, the players shared a meal at a restaurant. They carried away a “doggie bag” of the remnants of the hurriedly consumed meal.

    Upon or shortly before boarding, several of them began to notice symptoms of “Montezuma’s Revenge”, or similar affliction from misprepared food.

    Before boarding, they split up because they figured it was better to board that way, since trying to find eight seats together on a crowded flight was likely difficult or impossible. Or, alternatively they hoped that by splitting up one could find a group of seats and “save the seats” for the others.

    After boarding, becoming increasingly uncomfortable, and being a tightly knit social group as musicians sometimes are, they congregated and conversed among themselves to learn the severity and extent of the symptoms among the group. Being embarrassed by their plight, they were disinclined to discuss it with stewards and other passengers. Several made beelines for the nearest available restrooms as their symptoms became more severe. The one among them who had carried the “doggie bag” flushed the remainders of the misbegotten meal and signaled a “thumbs up” to one or more others that he had done so, and they need not be concerned about inadvertantly consuming more of it.

    Please remember, it’s a hypothesis, not a statement of fact. Maybe others have suggested such an explanation previously, or maybe not. I am unaware of any, but I have not followed the story in detail. But because it is so simple and obvious explanation of some of the public facts, I wonder if the question has ever even been raised. As I said above, it may be an entirely erroneous hypothesis, and it is based on very limited knowledge of what the facts are. But I hope that any dismissal would indicate the specific facts that it does not explain, or known facts that contradict it.

    Occasional Reader (94e6ca)

  40. Our intelligence agencies said “bin Laden Determined to Strike at US“. It just got lost in the macho brush-clearing clown show in Crawford. The DHS and FBI conducted something at least resembling an investigation into the Syrian band, and decided they were not terrorists. If the air marshals made some parallel investigation reaching a different result, then by all means, let’s see it. One (or even two!) of them telling a Washington Times reporter that it looked suspicious is not an investigation. And so far, that’s what we have.

    Seeing the terrorist conspiracy everywhere is a good way for the 28 percent dead-enders to reinforce the folly of Bush Devotion Syndrome.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  41. AJL
    “It just got lost in the macho brush-clearing clown show in Crawford”

    Your insistence on inserting this little dig raises all of the red-flags to the readers. A straight-up discussion has no need for these petty insults, and your reasoning would be better received without them.

    Please grow up!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  42. I don’t think it’s healthy for either people or countries to be terrified of bogeymen under the bed.

    The idea behind the bogeyman is that he doesn’t actually exist. Less than six years from the worst attack on our home soil, making that comparison strikes me as astonishingly naive.

    So let me make sure I understand this; terrorism doesn’t exist, muslims of middle-eastern origin certainly do not commit that terrorism that doesn’t exist, and they sure as heck wouldn’t do anything with airplanes, right? Right.

    I suppose unless planes begin dropping out of the sky left and right it’s bigoted hysteria; a lot more people have to die before it crosses that threashold into reasonable concern. And even then, we would have to cross back over that dark line to do anything about it, so why even worry about it? I’m with you man.

    thelinyguy (2122e5)

  43. If you don’t want to answer my question, Andrew, you should just say so.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  44. Here’s a clearer version of my answer: I tend to be a little skeptical of everything, but I give more credence to a government agency that I know has at least worked on an issue. So since DHS and FBI made an attempt to see whether the Syrian band were terrorists, then that counts for something. If (big IF) some other unit of the government made a similar investigation and thinks that the Syrians were helping terrorists, then let’s see why they came to a different conclusion. But this is all hypothetical. Right now you have The Washington Times 2007 misquoting the Washington Times 2004 quoting air marshals saying that the behavior was suspicious (not that they had concluded it was indeed terrorist-affiliated). I strongly doubt your case will be any better Wednesday, either.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  45. Audrey Hudson will more than likely reprise her omnibus, three-year-old, “terrorists are doing dry runs all the time” quote from one unnamed air marshal whom she confronted with Annie Jacobsen anecdotes. Certainly nothing doubled-sourced, much less on the record, will update the record this week.

    The Jacobsen account was disparaged in Hudson’s own follow piece (#20) and by radio station KFI’s reporting, widely summarized in the blogosphere:

    http://www2.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2004_07/004356.php

    That KFI story contains what may be the only on-the-record comment by the air marshal service. I’m unable to find the URL, but could paste what seems to be a true copy.

    steve (49046a)

  46. Here’s a “trial run” story we know is true. It’s very similar, don’t you think?

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  47. Steve, you might have copied over the part where the crew were more concerned about Malkin-wannabe Annie Jacobsen panicking the passengers than about the musicians. Great link. I’d forgotten that.

    We can go around like Chicken Littles seeing terrorism in every brown person—no wonder we need Abu Ghraib, and Gitmo, and universal warrantless wiretapping, and Manzanar [panicked bigotry 1942 version], and keeping Republicans in office at all costs; or we can show some sense, wisdom, courage. So far there is zero evidence of a “dry run” outside the hysterical tantrum of one right-winger echoed by a like-minded reporter. And, yes, Steve, I think we’re safe guessing it won’t be any different on Wednesday.

    [Aside to Another Drew: what exactly can I say to you, who ascribes my opinions to cranial-rectal insertion and then complains about petty insults? Kiss my cranium?]

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  48. We can go around like Chicken Littles seeing terrorism in every brown person…

    There’s your problem, Andrew. You seem to think that this must be either an all or none proposition. It isn’t. It also isn’t brown, black or white.

    no wonder we need Abu Ghraib,

    We don’t need Abu Ghraib, Andrew. You need Abu Ghraib.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  49. AJR: The more you post, the more evident it becomes that you have a strange view of reality. I’m not the only one who observes that. I am very sorry for your condition.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  50. “We can go around like Chicken Littles seeing terrorism in every brown person—no wonder we need Abu Ghraib, and Gitmo, and universal warrantless wiretapping, and Manzanar [panicked bigotry 1942 version], and keeping Republicans in office at all costs…”

    This is the key point AJL makes – indeed it summarizes every comment he has made for years: fear of terrorism is racist and worse yet, will keep Republicans in office. All concerns for terrorism must be subordinated to partisan interest.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  51. All concerns for terrorism must be subordinated to partisan interest.

    Unfortunately, that’s exactly right. Isn’t it sad that all the presidential candidates are campaigning as if George W. Bush is the ’08 Republican candidate?

    That’s understandable coming from Democrats — just look at how much money they raised for their campaigns by raising the Jerry Falwell bogeyman for 25 years or so after Falwell was seen as irrelevant by Republicans? What’s hard to understand is how the current crop of Republicans are also primping themselves as “non-Bushes.”

    dubya (c16726)

  52. Audrey Hudson will more than likely reprise her omnibus, three-year-old, “terrorists are doing dry runs all the time” quote from one unnamed air marshal whom she confronted with Annie Jacobsen anecdotes. Certainly nothing doubled-sourced, much less on the record, will update the record this week.

    Let’s see if Ms. Hudson comes up with more than one air marshal opining that this was a dry run, as her article promises. Let’s see if any are named. Let’s see if steve disappears into the shadows if she does, or if he steps up to the plate like a man to admit he was wrong.

    Same goes for our pal AJL.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  53. At what point do you recognize that the Washington Times isn’t even ten miles from credible? Is it shoddy, baseless story #10,000? #10,502? Are you waiting for some great landmark metric of crackpot, partisan-hackery ‘journalism’ before you and other right-wingers stop citing this paper and making yourselves look like buffoons? The more you pile on those houses of cards you construct (see, e.g., this week’s Iraq Food Shortage Memo clusterfuck, which Patterico seems to have avoided to his credit), the more it just settles the facts in the liberal corner. The facts don’t have a liberal bias because because of some great media conspiracy–it’s because the right can always, always be counted on to have fled the places where facts reside.

    multum_in_parvo (ff7b02)

  54. I’m just curious. For all you lawyerly types, if you had to take this behavior to court on a conspiracy charge what do you think the chances of making this stick would be.

    Using the reasonable man standard I would say they were guilty especially given the previous similar incident. I would also say the Air Marshalls should be beat with a bag full of oranges. Can a jury do that? :-) Once they got the hit in that database that the promoter had been involved in a similar incident that flight should have been diverted immediately or not allowed to take off if they were still on the ground.

    My god imagine if it had been a real attack if it hit in the SFV it may have wiped out the American Porn Industry.

    chad (582404)

  55. By letter dated September 28, 2004, the House Judiciary Committee asked the Federal Air Marshal Service of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to answer several questions, including question 8 which contains detailed inquiries regarding whether terrorists are probing our air transportation system. The Federal Air Marshal Service responded by letter dated October 20, 2004, and both letters were appended to a Judiciary Committee report dated May 25, 2006. Here is a link to that report.

    The Judiciary Committee letter starts in Appendix 1 at pages 40-47. The Federal Air Marshal response is in Appendix 2 at pages 48-78. The answers to question 8 appear at pages 69-71, although it appears the answers were incomplete and/or have been heavily redacted. Further, the report briefly discusses Annie Jacobsen’s Flight 327 on page 69.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  56. By letter dated September 28, 2004, the House Judiciary Committee asked the Federal Air Marshal Service of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to answer several questions, including question 8 which contains detailed inquiries regarding whether terrorists are probing our air transportation system. The Federal Air Marshal Service responded by letter dated October 20, 2004, and both letters were appended to a Judiciary Committee report dated May 25, 2006. Here is a link to that report: http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/FAMSRpt060606.pdf

    The Judiciary Committee letter starts in Appendix 1 at pages 40-47. The Federal Air Marshal response is in Appendix 2 at pages 48-78. The answers to question 8 appear at pages 69-71, although it appears the answers were incomplete and/or have been heavily redacted. Further, the report briefly discusses Annie Jacobsen’s Flight 327 on page 69.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  57. DRJ–That’s fascinating. Thanks for posting it.

    So far, I see on page 11 a very important–if cryptic–caveat to Quinn’s statement about probing on p.69. Apparently there’s some relevant stuff he didn’t tell the committee.

    See Dubya (0ff54f)

  58. See Dubya,

    Thanks for reading more at the link. I only had time to skim the report and I’m sure I missed other important points.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  59. Re: the link at #55, I recommend reading pages 125-127, a Federal Air Marshal (FAM) resignation letter that lists several concerns, some of which involve actions related to dry runs or probing. The author wrote other memos that were also included in the documents provided at the link. He seems well-qualified and knowledgeable but he was clearly frustrated with the FAM management.

    In addition, I also recommend Appendix 10 that begins at pages 128-129. Appendix 10 is a 2002 daily threats/info sheet distributed to FAMs. It is mentioned in page 11 of the report as containing additional FAM information about probing that was not provided by the FAM management in its response letter dated October 20, 2004. The Judiciary Committee stated this information should have been provided in FAM management’s response to question 8 (regarding possible probing).

    The first item in Appendix 10, page 130, states a clear concern that a specific passenger was engaged in “pre-operational planning.” The first item on page 129 is redacted but it appears to express a similar concern.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  60. Here’s a “trial run” story we know is true. It’s very similar, don’t you think? – DRJ

    Since you’re linking Snopes, why not the incident in question?:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/skyterror.asp

    steve (d32b82)

  61. Steve, what’s your point? That Snopes has an annoying habit of pre-judging facts, reaching strident “true” or “false” determinations while the jury is still out, and then ignoring any new evidence to the contrary? Nothing new there.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  62. As long as we’re linking Snopes on Flight 327, why not link me making fun of Snopes for its conclusion on Flight 327?

    Patterico (eeb415)

  63. multum_in_parvo,

    For every example you come up with of a story distorted by the Washington Times, I’ll give you 20 distorted by the L.A. Times.

    Without even breaking a sweat.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  64. I can see this all coming like a slow-motion train wreck. Tomorrow Hudson will publish a story with air marshals (plural) calling Flight 327 a dry run. I’ll go out on a limb and predict one or more will even be named.

    steve will pronounce this “nothing new” despite the greater number of air marshals saying this, and the fact that some were named. He will not retract his false characterization of the recent Hudson story as “careless journalism.”

    Andrew J. Lazarus will focus on the fact that the characterization does not come from the air marshals who were on the plane, and that the conclusions of the air marshals are not an official conclusion of any government entity. He will not apologize for having said Husdon “lied.”

    Meanwhile, Hudson will have provided backup for her assertion that Flight 327 is a flight that “federal air marshals say was a terrorist dry run.” And none of the people who called that a lie or careless will acknowledge that.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  65. So far we have the TSA, DHS, and FBI all concluding that the Syrian band were not terrorists. I’ll go out on a limb and say that the story Patterico is so eagerly awaiting will be unsourced and provide no evidence for anything it says.

    I will say one thing. Patterico is an honest man, and he’ll apologize.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f37f86)

  66. Andrew, where did you get the idea that DHS concluded that the Syrians weren’t terrorists? Chapter and verse, please.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  67. Ms. Hudson says that federal air marshals (which I would call the “feds”) say this was a dry run.

    As best I can tell (and I may have missed something) she is not claiming the air marshals who said this include either of the two air marshals actually on the plane. She may, for instance, have found two air marshals who have read press reports and speculated that this was a dry run on that basis. Actually, that would be my guess; surely she would have mentioned if one or more of her sources were actually there.

    I haven’t followed all the ins and outs of this story, but e.g. this Time article quotes the lead air marshal on the flight. He doesn’t comment specifically on the “dry run” concept, but he seems generally skeptical saying e.g. “that kind of activity was unusual but not a security incident.”

    Crust (399898)

  68. Let me clarify my previous comment. My guess is that her sources don’t include the two air marshals actually on the plane. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have access to non-public information, not just press reports.

    Crust (399898)

  69. multum_in_parvo:

    At what point do you recognize that the Washington Times isn’t even ten miles from credible? … The more you pile on those houses of cards you construct (see, e.g., this week’s Iraq Food Shortage Memo clusterfuck, which Patterico seems to have avoided to his credit)

    I have zero interest in defending the reliability of the Washington Times as a general matter, but I believe they also steered clear of the Iraq Food Shortage Memo controversy.

    Crust (399898)

  70. Xrlq: see my comment 6 for a quote from the report that DHS had investigated.

    Crust: Thank you for your link to the Time article.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  71. Audrey Hudson has filed. The new government report, she writes, shows “marshal complaints that the incident resembled a dry run for a terrorist attack” were, indeed, actual suspicions. Put another way, the unnamed marshals can confirm their earlier suspicions that the Flight 327 behavior resembled a dry run.

    http://washtimes.com/national/20070529-040125-8213r.htm

    steve (5b676d)

  72. From the article:

    Portions of the report remain redacted. However, current and former air marshals who reviewed a copy provided by The Times say the activities of the men details a dry run for a terrorist attack.

    “This report is evidence of Homeland Security executives attempting to downplay and cover up an unmistakable dry run that forced flight attendants to reveal the air marshals and compel the pilots to open the flight deck door,” said Robert MacLean, a former air marshal who was fired last year for revealing that the service planned to cut back on protection for long-distance flights to save money.

    You got some backpedaling to do, pal. Better start now.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  73. It doesn’t say them men were conducting a dry run for a terror attack, it says their activities *detail* it.

    Same stanza, different verse.

    Apparently anonymous air marshals are good enough for Snopes.com. – Patterico

    And apparently good enough for WashTimes reporters with online Thesaurus.

    steve (fde90e)

  74. Look, she raises valid points. The incident and others like it exposed flaws. I’m glad it was nothing and suspect actual terrorist “dry runs” might be missed if procedures aren’t improved.

    But she overpromised. No agent – even off the record – flatly states the Flight 327 actors were terrorists drilling for an attack. It’s all “suspicions” and activities “resembling” what could have been a dry run.

    steve (fde90e)

  75. I must say, your plural was correct. Hudson found three ex-air marshals to say that the attack resembled a dry run, working from (AFAICT) the same version of the report that we’ve been arguing over for two days. No evidence in the story linking the Syrians to terrorists. No evidence to suggest that this actually was a dry run. In short, nothing new at all about what actually happened. And nothing changing the fact that the FBI and TSA still don’t think there was anything nefarious here.

    I’m sure you’ll recall the chief air marshal on the flight saying it was the panic of Anne Jacobsen, not the Syrians, who endangered the flight by potentially forcing the marshals to reveal themselves.

    I’m also fascinated by the article’s explanation of why the incident got more attention after the right-nuts started to hype it. They didn’t pay more attention to this incident because it deserved it. By their own description, couched in bureaucratese, they paid more attention to it because of the external feeding frenzy, as CYA.

    You’re a lawyer, Patterico. You know what evidence is. This is speculation from people who weren’t there and whose opinion is contradicted by those who were. But if you want to say that “Three ex-feds say it was indeed a dry run”, that would be correct.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (e1b27a)

  76. “This report is evidence of Homeland Security executives attempting to downplay and cover up an unmistakable dry run . . .” — a named former air marshal.

    As for your parsing of the word “details” — are you Bill “steve” Clinton?

    Patterico (eeb415)

  77. The questions in this comment are well worth reviewing.

    It’s worth pointing out that the former air marshal who used the word “unmistakable” is on bad terms with his ex-bosses.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (e1b27a)

  78. Andrew Lazarus:

    Do you think the air marshals who were there might have a vested interest in playing this down?

    But if you want to say that “Three ex-feds say it was indeed a dry run”, that would be correct.

    From Hudson’s article:

    current and former air marshals who reviewed a copy provided by The Times say the activities of the men details a dry run for a terrorist attack.

    There are numerous online dictionaries you can use to look up the word “current.”

    Thanks, guys, for playing so neatly into my predictions as stated in comment 65:

    I can see this all coming like a slow-motion train wreck. Tomorrow Hudson will publish a story with air marshals (plural) calling Flight 327 a dry run. I’ll go out on a limb and predict one or more will even be named.

    steve will pronounce this “nothing new” despite the greater number of air marshals saying this, and the fact that some were named. He will not retract his false characterization of the recent Hudson story as “careless journalism.”

    Andrew J. Lazarus will focus on the fact that the characterization does not come from the air marshals who were on the plane, and that the conclusions of the air marshals are not an official conclusion of any government entity. He will not apologize for having said Husdon “lied.”

    Meanwhile, Hudson will have provided backup for her assertion that Flight 327 is a flight that “federal air marshals say was a terrorist dry run.” And none of the people who called that a lie or careless will acknowledge that.

    This is so perfect, people will accuse me of writing your comments for you!

    Patterico (eeb415)

  79. None of the current marshals are quoted, even anonymously.

    But you’re right. Hudson has one fired air marshal who says it was a dry run. You’ll excuse me, but I think that’s pretty weak. Remember Pablo asking me which government agencies I thought were reliable? Well, here we have a couple disgruntled ex-feds in acknowledged disagreement with the TSA, the FBI, and DHS. I guess my answer to Pablo is: all of them. And, by extension, you and he find all of them conspiratorial and incompetent. So, we ask, what’s the marshals’ revolutionary evidence?

    Well, none. The article recounts the same version of the flight that we already read. You think you could win a conviction on that, Patterico?

    You have made two claims. You claimed that Hudson would find a plural number of “feds” who would say that this was a dry run. She almost did; they mostly appear to be ex-feds, and they certainly aren’t speaking with the authority of any agency of government (something that people might believe with your casual use of “Feds”, often used as synecdoche for the government as a whole). You also said that you believed their claim. That remains a very long shot. When you have some real evidence for it, post again.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (e1b27a)

  80. Hudson sure buried the lead if by “current and former air marshals who reviewed a copy provided by The Times say the activities of the men details a dry run for a terrorist attack,” she was telling us they actually *believe* Flight 327 held terrorists drilling aloft for attack. Her sources saw the outline of a practice run-through in the accounts – same as saying the “incident resembled” a dry run.

    steve (fde90e)

  81. “But you’re right. Hudson has one fired air marshal who says it was a dry run.”

    Do I need to look up the word “current” for you, Andrew?

    Or perhaps it’s the word “and” that you’re not understanding?

    Other than that, or pure stubbornness and a desire to try to bluff your way through this, I’m not clear on what part of “current and former air marshals” you don’t understand.

    Let me repeat it for you yet yet again:

    “current and former air marshals who reviewed a copy provided by The Times say the activities of the men details a dry run for a terrorist attack.”

    Current and

    Current.

    She has more than one fired air marshal.

    Current.

    Now — if you want to amend your claim to “only one of her air marshals is named, and he’s been fired” — then you’d be getting closer.

    But so far, you just look like the guy who doesn’t want to admit he was wrong, no matter what.

    If you think I’m just going to let you get away with that, well, hopefully you’re starting to see that I won’t.

    I may turn this into a post. Your Daily Kos entry still up, calling her a liar?

    Patterico (eeb415)

  82. Hudson sure buried the lead if by “current and former air marshals who reviewed a copy provided by The Times say the activities of the men details a dry run for a terrorist attack,” she was telling us they actually *believe* Flight 327 held terrorists drilling aloft for attack. Her sources saw the outline of a practice run-through in the accounts – same as saying the “incident resembled” a dry run.

    – Bill “steve” Clinton

    Patterico (eeb415)

  83. I am interested in hearing more about Ms. Hudson’s support for the assertion that air marshals have made this claim. – Patterico

    Did any “federal marshals SAY this was a dry run?

    Not one.

    Hudson tells us marshals who were not on the flight but who have read accounts, found activities they consider consistent with, having the details of, or resembling a terror dry run.

    If that supports her assertion, I’m Ethel Merman.

    steve (fde90e)

  84. If that supports her assertion, I’m Ethel Merman.

    In point of fact, I have no idea *who* you are.

    But let’s compare her assertion in her recent story:

    The inspector general for Homeland Security late Friday released new details of what federal air marshals say was a terrorist dry run aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on June 29, 2004.

    To what the latest story says:

    [C]urrent and former air marshals who reviewed a copy provided by The Times say the activities of the men details a dry run for a terrorist attack.

    Granted, most of the current ones are staying anonymous. But to argue that the latter quote is only a claim that it “resembles” a dry run is Clintonian parsing of the slipperiest variety.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  85. Steve -

    Do you work for an airline or are you just a dickhead?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  86. I think a lot of you should remove your hands from your keyboards and just read the article again a few more times. The answers to your questions are right in front of you. FAM P. Jeffrey Black is a current Air Marshal working Las Vegas, who gave testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in August of 2004, regarding probes and dry-runs (do a Google of his name). FAM Jeffrey Denning recently resigned for a much better job. FAM Robert MacLean was fired after whistleblowing (Do a Google of his name to find out why he was fired). He is fighting his termination and his case is currently in the 9th Circuit. All indications are he is going to win. In regards to the air marshal in the Time Magazine article, he was told to do the article AND there were agency Public Disinformation Officers standing in the same room during the interview. Always question the authenticity of any interview of an employee who’s authorized by the agency to participate in an interview. The air marshal was told exactly what to say, and he played the part perfectly defending the agency. How many more current, resigned, or fired federal air marshals will it take to convince you that DHS/FAMS is negligently not doing its job? 10 more? 50 more? Signed sworn statements from every air marshal? Wake up people and smell the airline food.

    Federal Air Marshal (f30c24)

  87. These dry runs are getting to be like voter fraud, of which many have heard but few have seen. Seriously, are we (inconspicuously) arresting and interrogating terrorist affiliates, or have we merely set up a reflex “Aaah, another dry run” whenever someone brown spends too long in the lavatory?

    Andrew J. Lazarus (e1b27a)

  88. Thank you so much for encapsulating the self-righteous position of the left on this issue, Andrew.

    Because that’s all that happened here. Someone brown spent too long in the lavatory.

    If I had written your comment myself, I couldn’t better illustrate the lack of seriousness on terror by you and people just like you on the left.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  89. Something here many people confuse is the official statement (from say the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) or FBI) which comes from headquarters and the beliefs/statements that come from the rank and file agents on the ground doing the job (Federal Air Marshals (FAMs – little s, etc.)

    The FAMS stated that it wasn’t a dry run, but most of the FAMs actually flying disagreed. That is where Ms. Hudson is claiming Air Marshals think it could have been a dry run or probe (personally I think it was a probe or people angling for a lawsuit (like the Flying Imams)), but that’s just my BS opinion on the matter.

    mavsfan (ecfdd6)


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