Patterico's Pontifications

6/1/2007

Air Marshal Goes on the Record Stating His Opinion That Flight 327 Was a Dry Run

Filed under: Air Security,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 12:10 am

As most of you know, Audrey Hudson recently ran a piece in the Washington Times stating that current and former air marshals believed that Flight 327 (Annie Jacobsen’s “Terror in the Skies” flight) was a terrorist dry run. Some of my commenters complained that Ms. Hudson did not support this claim with a quote from a current air marshal, saying unequivocally that he thought Flight 327 was a terrorist dry run.

Today, in this post, current air marshal P. Jeffrey Black does exactly that.

Mr. Black is one of the current air marshals quoted in Ms. Hudson’s article:

Agency management was not only covering up numerous probes and dry-run encounters from Congress and other federal law-enforcement agencies, it was also hiding these incidents from their own flying air marshals,” said P. Jeffrey Black, an air marshal stationed in Las Vegas.

When Mr. Black talked about these “numerous probes and dry-run encounters,” did he mean to include Flight 327 in that description, as Ms. Hudson had implied? I asked him, and he responded with a long and interesting statement, which is reproduced below in its entirety, with Mr. Black’s permission. All emphasis and links are his:

Patterico,

I’d be happy to address a few of the questions submitted by your readers in regards to matters of public safety and concern.

Last year, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain a copy of the Flight 327 Inspector General’s report about the same time The Washington Times filed their FOIA request. Last week, I received my copy of the report, so yes, I have obviously reviewed the report extensively.

Do I personally believe flight 327 was a terrorist probe or dry run?

In my opinion, and based upon my experience flying hundreds of missions since 9/11, my answer is, yes it was. Do I know 100% for sure? No, of course not. Short of obtaining signed confessions from all 13 Syrian “musicians” involved, only they know for sure what their true intentions were for acting so “suspicious” during the flight. And this is exactly why the Inspector General’s report doesn’t conclude, without a doubt, that their actions were positively construed as a probe or dry run. The only people who know this for sure were allowed to freely leave the country and fly back to Syria without ever being thoroughly interrogated. And remember, a third of the Inspector General’s report is still highly redacted.

Nevertheless, many air marshal collegues I have spoken with concur with my conclusion, but don’t expect them to go public any time soon. Every air marshal that has whistleblown publicly so far has been summarily terminated one way or another. It is just a matter of time before I receive my retaliatory pink slip. I am sure there are TSA/FAMS management bureaucrats in a basement somewhere at this very moment, scheming and drawing up battle plans to attack my character and veracity. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Transportation Security Administration.

What I do find most disturbing is that some of your readers tend to discredit the word or opinion of any Federal Air Marshal who has been terminated from the Transportation Security Administration –– for whistleblowing. Former air marshal Robert MacLean was terminated for exposing to the public a dangerous TSA/FAMS policy which removed air marshals from all cross country flights –– similar to those flights hijacked on 9/11 –– because the TSA wanted to save money by not having to pay for hotel rooms for the over-nighting of air marshals. Mr. MacLean was a former distinguished Border Patrol Agent who graduated from the very first air marshal academy class soon after the events of 9/11, and has flown more missions than most air marshals still flying today.

The public should be embracing Mr. MacLean’s ideas and opinions, and not unjustly ridiculing and labeling him as just some “disgruntled fired employee”. As all whistleblowers ultimately end up doing, Mr. MacLean sacrificed his federal career to inform the public of a government policy that seriously endangered the lives of the traveling public. Taking into account the amount of retribution and retaliation he has received from TSA for his whistleblowing activities –– he has every right to be disgruntled.

I know this first hand. In August of 2004, and just two months after the events of Northwest Flight 327, I reluctantly chose to become a whistleblower. The dangerous agency internal policies I wished to expose were so egregious, which seriously jeopardized the health and safety of every air marshal, flight crew member, and passenger, that I chose to take my disclosures straight to Congress. I gave testimony to the Chief Counsel of Oversight and Investigations, and went on the record with the House Judiciary Committee, that I had personally experienced what I believed to be numerous probing incidents aboard domestic flights, and that I believed the Federal Air Marshal Service was not only hiding the details to these incidents from other federal law enforcement agencies, but that they were also keeping this vital information from their own flying air marshals. I also had reason to believe, from speaking to other air marshals across the country, that I was not the only air marshal experiencing these probing incidents aboard domestic flights.

My testimony specifically outlined exactly what I had experienced on my mission flights –– and the Committee staffers were shocked at what they heard. In response to my testimony, in addition to other information it had received from other sources, the House Judiciary Committee just four weeks later, sent FAMS Director Thomas Quinn, a seven page letter questioning not only the number of probes air marshals had been allegedly experiencing, but also in regards to numerous other internal policies I had informed the Committee about, that were additionally endangering the flying public. Some of these other dangerous policies included: forcing air marshals to adhere to a formal dress code, substandard procedures for air marshals bypassing security checkpoints, forcing air marshals to conspicuously board aircraft in full view of waiting passengers, and requiring air marshals to use over-powered non-frangible ammunition aboard aircraft.

After numerous delays, in October of 2004, the Federal Air Marshal Service finally submitted a 29-page letter responding to the questions raised by the House Judiciary Committee. In May of 2006, the Committee concluded their inquiry and released their Investigative Report entitled “In Plane Sight” (highly redacted).

Numerous federal air marshals, pilots, flight attendants, passengers, and terrorism experts, all believe in their humble opinions, that Northwest Flight 327 was in fact a terrorist probe or dry run. Yet, the management and bureaucratic “experts” in the Transportation Security Administration and in the upper echelon of the Federal Air Marshal Service, who lack any prior aviation security experience whatsoever, tell you that it was nothing more than a few innocent tourist musicians with expired visas, visiting from a terrorist sponsoring country, and who were doing nothing more than acting a bit “suspicious”.

So what is the moral of this story? Never depend on your government to save your life. It is the public citizen who is our first line of defense –– the John Does –– not the federal government. Stay vigilant.

Best Regards,

P. Jeffrey Black

121 Responses to “Air Marshal Goes on the Record Stating His Opinion That Flight 327 Was a Dry Run”

  1. Yo – Phil, Andrew, Steve, Bradley.

    What’s next in your arsenal of denial? Is Jeff lying? Is he disgruntled? He’s addressing your questions directly.

    Oh, he can’t conclusively say it was a dry run. He addresses that as well and he sounds a lot more credible than you Bozos.

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  2. Good job, Patterico!

    The ironic thing is, after you have not responded to Bradley Fikes unprofessional attacks in kind (“crickets chirping,” “beam in your eye,” etc), but instead getting and presenting actual testimony from a witness, I promise he will not say he is wrong and apologize.

    Instead, he will say that you claimed multiple sources and you only named one.

    Sheesh.

    About that “Syrian musical group.” Have they had more gigs? Are they composed of the same people now? Where are they, now?

    And even if they were yanking our chains, trying to reveal our nasty anti-Arab racism, they would still be idiots and endangering the lives of passengers with their antics.

    After all, what happens to a passenger who jokes about bombs on an airplane? If he is a non-Arab, I mean.

    Seriously, thanks for the new information. You got more information instead of mudslinging. Kudos.

    sadlyyes (2b8b3d)

  3. TSA IS just ANOTHER great Bush agency appointment. I’m sorry, but this state of affairs is the fault of our president, as is the border, the incompetent execution of the Iraq War, and any one of a hundred things that have happened in which Bush has acted recklessly with respect to the nature of his conduct, consciously disregarding substantial and unjustifiable risks that include almost everything. In this case the actual baboon would have to have been David Stone, not the new guy, Loy.

    It’s Bush, stupid—but we have to wait for either providence or revolution to get rid of him and his horrible team.

    Howard Veit (4ba8d4)

  4. So what is the moral of this story? Never depend on your government to save your life. It is the public citizen who is our first line of defense –– the John Does –– not the federal government. Stay vigilant.

    Precisely. But then, Annie Jacobsen was just a paranoid, right Andrew, Bradley, Phil, etc…?

    Have you ever noticed that Islamists in Iraq are so competent and vicious as to be unstoppable, while Islamists in America are all sweet, innocent pussycats that we shouldn’t have so much as a second look at?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  5. Howard, if you seriously think that a different president would make the bureaucrats at TSA display any more sense, write any better policies, or be any less retributive, you have no idea of the nature of government and many of the people it employs. Governmental agencies have a a mind, a will, an inertia all their own, and neither he president, the DHS secretary nor the TSA director can do very much about it.

    Diffus (2431e5)

  6. Patterico, it is great that Mr. Black provided us with his opinion. Your blog is a terrific resource for these kinds of direct communications from people in the field on issues like this. I do give a lot more weight to the opinions of people with experience in these matters, such as the air marshalls.

    The great dividing point between people in the discussion of Flight 327 is the threshold between accepting that the activity could be a dry run, and forming the opinion that it was a dry run.

    I respect that Mr. Black acknowledges that he can’t proove this was a dry run. I’d like to know more of why he truly believes this was a dry run — because that’s what’s sorely lacking everywhere. His letter doesn’t provide many details at all about why he formed this opinion. It does provide a lot of information indicating the marshalls may be dealing with poor policies generally, though, and that’s usefull. If anything, it is absolutely clear that what we don’t know about flight 327 is our own fault, for not conducting further investigation. My criticism has never been that people are investigating too much — it’s that they’re presuming too much.

    Phil (427875)

  7. [...] Patterico has an air marshall confirming that this indeed was a dry run. Please, read it. This is a big story that happened in the LA Times’s back yard. Is it laziness or a slavish [...]

    Don Surber » Blog Archive » Flight 327, where are you? (78dd76)

  8. Congratulations, Patterico!

    You did a much better job than Audrey Hudson. You actually got a current air marshal on the record as saying Flight 327. I will update my blog post to reflect that.

    Commenters such as daleyrocks have it all wrong. I was never challenging the idea that terrorists have made dry runs. I simply said the Washington Times article never quoted a current air marshal saying that, contrary to Patterico’s headline. Hudson made an important claim she didn’t back up. That’s just sloppy reporting.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  9. [...] active duty air marshal says he believes flight 327 was a dry run. Good read, especially since Petterico has a statement from the marshal [...]

    American Pundit » Quick Link (b45940)

  10. [...] 9:15 a.m.: Read Patterico’s related post about one air marshal’s belief that Flight 327 was a terrorist dry run, and that feeling gets [...]

    BizzyBlog » Couldn’t Help But Notice (060107) (34f45e)

  11. I was just reviewing Phil’s amusing comments on this subject from yesterday. Remember that he is not an air marshal, yet seems to consider himself an expert on whether or not airline behavior is suspicious or not.

    One of his posts from yesterday includes:

    “For example, maybe the passengers own fear of terrorism caused them to see actions that would not be frightning from a white person as terrifying because they were done by an Arab. Maybe the Arabs had no interest in scaring anybody. Is that possible? Not according to your tiny three-option view of the universe.

    I see this assumption of nefarious intent being accepted without question, and it makes me wonder, what else is being accepted without question? Is this really rational thought, or is it simply justification for a simplistic, scapegoating of an entire religion?”

    I believe that we now have a new posterboy for the word “disingenuous.”

    We get testimony from a person who has been freakin’ THERE, and Phil still plays the “you can’t prove” and “you must be anti-Arab” cards. If ANYONE acted like those “musicians” acted, do you honestly think that there would have been no worries or investigation?

    Heck, does anyone think that if a bunch of whitebread types decided to say anti-American slogans in the gate area, and then started to pray in a foreign language (saying “Allah” over and over again), the TSA folks would be winking and saying “Those wacky non-Arabs!”

    Hardly, and I think Phil knows it.

    I think that Phil needs to be onboard a flight when this kind of thing happens. My guess is that he would change his tune, in a hurry, and quit suggesting that being suspicious of behavior that is forbidden on airliners is somehow racist profiling. At some point, the “arabs” who are acting this way on the flights must bear some responsibility for their own actions.

    Oh, I get it: everything is our fault. No one has any responsibility for their own actions.

    Sheesh.

    sadlyyes (2b8b3d)

  12. Oh, and Bradley Fikes? How about your comments that Patterico was “running away” from proving his points? What about the “unfairness” you accused him of, and your “beam” comment I have read about?

    Patterico decided to get some facts…just not quickly enough to suit you.

    sadlyyes (2b8b3d)

  13. BTW, I am all the more perplexed by Hudson’s failure to quote Black. If he said the same thing to her that he did to Patterico, why not quote it? That simply seems to be common sense.

    If space was a concern (although it would not be on the Web), why not take out one of the quotes of the former air marshals?

    Some other questions:

    Did Hudson ask Black about Flight 327?
    If so, did he tell her what he told Patterico?
    Did she even interview him at all?

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  14. Oh, and Bradley Fikes? How about your comments that Patterico was “running away” from proving his points?

    Okay, I apologize to Patterico.

    However, as a mitigating circumstance I plead that the ruckus I and others caused challenging the story actually resulted in Patterico doing work that provided important information.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  15. Video shows joint Iraqi Army & Mahdi Army operation in Baghdad:

    [Link]

    Uniformed Iraqi soldiers provide cover for Mahdi Army fighters in t-shirts and tracksuits while attacking a mosque in Baghdad on May 10.

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  16. It’s true, Patterico did better than Hudson. What that says about the Washington Times…

    Nevertheless, I think there are a number of good reasons to doubt that this was a dry run, first and foremost of which is that Black has to substitute his reading of secondary sources for the experiences of people on the ground at the time. If Black had actually participated in the event, his “vibe” about the musicians’ behavior might have been significantly different.

    Black should do read more carefully. He writes that the musicians (and, yes, they are a genuine band) had expired visas, but in fact their extensions were already pending and were granted. It’s extremely difficult for Syrians to get visas in the first place. The consular officers in Damascus already vetted this band once.

    The Syrian government would absolutely not want to be the return address for an Al Qaeda like attack in the USA.

    Agencies which performed something of an investigation cleared the band, and no new information has come up to doubt their conclusion.

    But most damning of all, even though the TSA seems from this description to rise to a FEMA-like level of incompetence, the idea that we are flooded with “probes” and “dry runs” is incredible. If nothing else, we have know how many dry runs Al Qaeda made for 9/11, and we know how many, or more accurately how few, terrorists they were operating with. We are flooded now with false positives, unless Al Qaeda has been able to increase its infiltration capabilities a hundred-fold. (While I doubt that, if it were true, it would sure make a mockery of “We fight them in Iraq so we don’t have to fight them here.”)

    Andrew J. Lazarus (24eb94)

  17. sadlyyes, I stand by my comments, as quoted. If it bothers you that I refuse to simply accept an unproven hypothesis as fact, that’s your problem.

    You are not addressing my real concern, which is that we distinguish between established fact and speculation. I fully agree that it is possible that this was a dry run. You, on the other hand, refuse to agree that it’s possible that these were simply arab musicians, concerned only with flying from point a to point b, who didn’t act the way the witnesses expected arab musicians to act.

    While Mr. Black does say he is of the opinion that this was a dry run, his letter doesn’t explain why he thinks that. Because we know he has the experience of an air marshall, I freely admit that he can draw from resources the rest of us cannot in order to form such an opinion; however, it’s just an opinion.

    Flight 327 may not have been a dry run. Mr. Black does acknowledge that, too. In fact, his opinion that this was a dry run appears to be at least in part rooted in his frustration about the fact that it may have been a dry run, but he’ll never know for sure because so many questions were left unanswered.

    Phil (427875)

  18. the musicians (and, yes, they are a genuine band) had expired visas, but in fact their extensions were already pending and were granted.

    Andrew, do you have a source for that? The allegation that the musicians had expired visas is raised a lot, and I’ve always wondered what the whole story on that was.

    Phil (427875)

  19. Bradly, Hudson did quote Black, but not at lenght. In fact, she stated everything Black provided Patterico with regard to flight 327 — namely, he’s of the opinion it was a dry run. That’s really all he has to say on the subject, the rest of his letter addresses general security and administrative problems he has observed.

    I’d also like to point out that stating you are of the opinion that flight 327 was a dry run isn’t whistleblowing at all. It’s just speculation about what was really going on. Whistleblowing requires disclosure of actual facts that are not know.

    From what I can tell, the only otherwise unreported fact Mr. Black discloses to support his opinion is that other air marshalls are also of the opinion that this was a dry run.

    Again, I do appreciate Mr. Black’s willingness to communicate, and certainly encourage him to continue to discuss the other information in his letter regarding general proceedural problems. But his letter doesn’t give us much help with flight 327, beyond what was already reported by Hudson.

    Phil (427875)

  20. @ bradley j. fikes

    I have to disagree with you. While Hudson’s article doesn’t go into the depth that patterico’s exchange does I believe when read in context it has Mr. Black saying essentially the same thing. She probably cut the 5 paragarphs of background information for the sake of both clarity and space.

    The comments of yours that I have read in the past have always seemed reasonable, but in this case it appeared to me that you were out of line.

    chad (582404)

  21. Phil,

    Bradly, Hudson did quote Black, but not at lenght. In fact, she stated everything Black provided Patterico with regard to flight 327 — namely, he’s of the opinion it was a dry run.

    Show me the quote.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  22. While Hudson’s article doesn’t go into the depth that patterico’s exchange does I believe when read in context it has Mr. Black saying essentially the same thing.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  23. Sorry for the mangled comment above.

    While Hudson’s article doesn’t go into the depth that patterico’s exchange does I believe when read in context it has Mr. Black saying essentially the same thing.

    No, it is not. Hudson quotes Black about a pattern of dry runs taking place. That is a general statement. He does not say a word about Flight 327.

    Since you disagree, please post a statement of Black’s from the Washington Times article that references Flight 327.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  24. Andrew, have you talked to airline employees? I understand that there is lots of evidence of probes. Such as holes drilled into the cockpit from forward lavatories and opening of storage areas. One issue is where is the equipment to drill holes coming from ? Catering employees ? This is not an isolated incident. “Dry Run” may not be the best term. These may be probes to test security and to plan alternate scenarios. TSA has little incentive to let this information out to the public. They may fear a drop in air travel plus there may be legitimate reasons to conceal how much we know. From my experience with the government’s agencies involved in travel and border security, the best explanation is incompetence and ass covering.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  25. @phil

    It is in the OIG report. The visas had expired on June 10 2003(?) but extensions had been filed, just not acted upon at that time. It is my understanding in that case a person is allowed to remain in the US until it is decided whether the extension will be granted or not.
    The shortcoming that the report notes is that:

    a. One person did not notice the expiration date
    b. A second person did but never called in to check on the validity of the visas.

    chad (582404)

  26. He had a quote which read literally was general in nature, but read in context encompassed Flight 327. It’s in the post above.

    I think some of you were giving Ms. Hudson’s article an overly crabbed reading. She made an assertion — current and former air marshals opine this was a dry run — and didn’t necessarily have the space to provide a quote from every source who provided the foundation for her assertion. So what?

    Andrew Lazarus called her a liar, and I believe his accusation was flatly false. This post is further evidence of it. Will he apologize?

    Patterico (eeb415)

  27. These may be probes to test security and to plan alternate scenarios.

    When I say “dry run” I am including events of that description. Do people not generally agree?

    Patterico (eeb415)

  28. Here’s the part I was referring to, on the first page of the web version:

    The report comes three years after the incident, which was not officially acknowledged until a month later, after The Washington Times reported passenger and marshal complaints that the incident resembled a dry run for a terrorist attack. After reviewing the report, air marshals say it confirms their earlier suspicions.

    An air marshal who told The Washington Times that he has been involved personally in terror probes that were ignored by federal security managers, called such behavior typical.
    “Agency management was not only covering up numerous probes and dry-run encounters from Congress and other federal law-enforcement agencies, it was also hiding these incidents from their own flying air marshals,” said P. Jeffrey Black, an air marshal stationed in Las Vegas.

    Actually, rereading Black’s comments here, both quoted and paraphrased, it’s hard to tell whether he ever directly addresses flight 327. He just calls “such behaviour typical.” The words “such behavior” may not refer to the actions regarding flight 327, although that’s how I interpreted it.

    Phil (427875)

  29. @ bradley j. fikes

    I did in the previous thread, but here it is again:

    After reviewing the report, air marshals say it confirms their earlier suspicions.
    An air marshal who told The Washington Times that he has been involved personally in terror probes that were ignored by federal security managers, called such behavior typical.
    “Agency management was not only covering up numerous probes and dry-run encounters from Congress and other federal law-enforcement agencies, it was also hiding these incidents from their own flying air marshals,” said P. Jeffrey Black, an air marshal stationed in Las Vegas.

    Since the report deals specifically with flight 327 and he reviewed the report and is commenting on his experience with dry runs I think we can safely assume that he felt flight 327 was a dry run. Is it the most artfully written sentence? I don’t know I can barely spell my name, but that is definately how I read it.

    chad (582404)

  30. Patterico delivers on Flight 327…

    Patterico does something the newspapers couldn’t: he gets a Federal Air Marshal to go on the record and confirm that in his opinion the thirteen Arabs on Northwest Flight 327 were conducting a dry run for the next attack, probing……

    Out on a limb at Mike Lief.com (0d19bc)

  31. Patterico,

    Again, my apologies for my harsh tone.

    He had a quote which read literally was general in nature, but read in context encompassed Flight 327. It’s in the post above.

    The quote didn’t mention Flight 327 at all. A general statement about dry runs by itself says nothing about whether a specific flight was a dry run.

    I think some of you were giving Ms. Hudson’s article an overly crabbed reading. She made an assertion — current and former air marshals opine this was a dry run — and didn’t necessarily have the space to provide a quote from every source who provided the foundation for her assertion. So what?

    I don’t think it is overly crabbed to demand that a claim be backed up with an unambiguous statement on the subject. Black has already said that terrorists are making dry runs. This quote doesn’t tell the reader anything that hasn’t already been reported:

    “Agency management was not only covering up numerous probes and dry-run encounters from Congress and other federal law-enforcement agencies, it was also hiding these incidents from their own flying air marshals,” said P. Jeffrey Black, an air marshal stationed in Las Vegas.

    That quote could have been given a year ago. It says nothing about Flight 327.

    Let’s contrast with this quote:

    “The overt behavior of the 13 men on Flight 327 was indicative of a terrorist probe. It appeared rehearsed, coordinated and planned. It was menacing activity,” Mr. Denning said.

    And with this quote that you got from Black:

    Do I personally believe flight 327 was a terrorist probe or dry run?

    In my opinion, and based upon my experience flying hundreds of missions since 9/11, my answer is, yes it was.

    That quote could only have been made in response to Flight 327. It is specific and directly backs up the reporter’s claim.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  32. chad,

    The quote of Black’s you gave doesn’t mention Flight 327 at all, either directly or by implication. The reporter implies that it does in the preceding paragraph with the phase “such behavior”. But the quote does not back it up.

    Contrast this with the very clear and unambiguous statements from the former air marshals on Flight 327. Since that is the story topic, why not use quotes that reflect it? This is simply good journalism. It wouldn’t have taken any more room, not that this is an issue on the Web.

    Even better, Hudson could have stated how many current air marshals she talked to who agreed that the flight was a dry run. One is the bare minimum for her claim to be even technically valid. But let’s say she got more, and all but Black declined to speak for the record. She could say that much at least without compromising their identities.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  33. Wow, Patterico. I didn’t know you actually looked for and interviewed that air marshal just because Bradley Fikes started criticizing you. Amazing powers, he has.

    sadlyyes (2b8b3d)

  34. This says it all:

    When Mr. Black talked about these “numerous probes and dry-run encounters,” did he mean to include Flight 327 in that description, as Ms. Hudson had implied?

    If Hudson had done her job properly, there would have been no need to interpret what she implied. We could have read what Black said. This is Journalism 101. Make a claim, back it up.

    And no, I don’t claim to have single-handedly induced Patterico to have contacted Black. But I was one of the most vocal critics of this aspect of Hudson’s story, and Patterico told me in the comments last night to look for a new post on the subject.

    Maybe in Hudson’s next story on the dry runs she can ask Patterico to interview the air marshals.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  35. @bradley j. fikes

    we obviously disagree.
    I think when it says marshalls reviewed the report then Black calls the behavior typical of what he has observed in past dry runs that you can say the point was addressed.

    At this point it’s obvious neither of us is going to budge on this point, especially given your last post to patterico, so I am done with it.

    chad (582404)

  36. chad,

    OK, we agree to disagree. Since Patterico has a current air marshal on the record about Flight 327, we can move on.

    I’d like to hear more about those expired visas.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  37. I guess the real question is, why is the left so angry at the idea that this may be a dry run scenario? Why the insistence on “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”? What is in it for the left to fight tooth and nail any claim that terrorists are actually engaging in such behaviour? That is what I find the most interesting.

    I’m pretty confident, reading the comments, that unless we get a full-on confession from someone involved saying that yes, indeed it was a dry run, or test of security, then our leftist friends will never believe it was. Indeed, I’m pretty sure even if we had such a confession, they wouldn’t believe it. Why? What is in it for the left to pretend there is no such thing as terrorism? I wonder.

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  38. I think some of you were giving Ms. Hudson’s article an overly crabbed reading. She made an assertion — current and former air marshals opine this was a dry run — and didn’t necessarily have the space to provide a quote from every source who provided the foundation for her assertion. So what?

    Apparently, Hudson failed to realize how utterly useless the opinions of former air marshals are. So, she wouldn’t have understood the importance of directly quoting a current air marshal in the context of 237 specifically. Because once you leave that job, you apparently become an ignorant liar.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  39. Er…327 not 237.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  40. And no, I don’t claim to have single-handedly induced Patterico to have contacted Black. But I was one of the most vocal critics of this aspect of Hudson’s story, and Patterico told me in the comments last night to look for a new post on the subject.

    Maybe in Hudson’s next story on the dry runs she can ask Patterico to interview the air marshals.

    So now it’s not about disbelieving in dry runs, it is about the quality of journalism? While I generally agree with you on the quality of journalism, I must point out that 99% of what you read in most papers is B.S. Every time I have personal knowledge of something the papers report on, they get it mostly wrong. J-school hardly teaches anyone anything concrete and certainly does not improve intelligence. It’s like having a “poly sci” degree. A lot of hot air with no actual substantive knowledge included.

    But, regardless of the quality of the Hudson piece, you will never believe this was a dry run regardless of the facts or opinions of experts. You are requiring a burden of proof that is pretty unreasonable, and I’m not sure why. Again, why is the left so strident in trying to bury any story of terrorist activity in the U.S.? Could it be that the left is about 1/2 step away from being “truthers”?

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  41. I have one more comment about Mr. Black’s letter:

    So what is the moral of this story? Never depend on your government to save your life. It is the public citizen who is our first line of defense –– the John Does –– not the federal government. Stay vigilant.

    Whatever criticisms we have of airline security, you have to balance those criticism with results; for three years since this “dry run, no actuall attacks have taken place. No commercial U.S. planes have been hijacked for nearly six years since 9/11.

    Maybe the security, whatever its weaknesses is actually effective enough for the threat. Maybe there’s just been nobody attempting actual attacks in a competent enough manner to get through even bad security. Either way, the relevance of this particular possible dry run to changing our policies must be judged in light of the passage of time without any actual attacks.

    That’s the one point where Mr. Blacks’ expert opinion is actually less credible than the rest of us in a way, because he has a conflict of interest. The more security measures and investigations we have, the more employment opportunities exist for people in Mr. Black’s line of work.

    So when he tells us we need to beef up security, it’s sorta like General Motors telling you you need a new car every five years — they know about cars, but they also benefit from you buying more cars.

    Phil (427875)

  42. I think the standard of proof that an incident constitutes a dry run required for reporting and logging of the suspicious circumstances, should be very low.

    “Was it or wasn’t it?”, while an important question, is ultimately a matter of opinion (absent 13 signed confessions &c.). If it isn’t logged in a central database and analyzed in a larger context after the fact, the TSA is utterly failing its job.

    Whatever route the intel on dry runs takes, it’s garbage in, garbage out. And if a wide body of suspicious incidents is not recorded, the body of data is not useful in recognizing not only dry runs, but the real thing.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  43. Again, why is the left so strident in trying to bury any story of terrorist activity in the U.S.? Could it be that the left is about 1/2 step away from being “truthers”?

    If by “bury” you mean “verify the factual basis for” then the explanation becomes rather clear.

    And, in return, I ask you, why are certain people (I won’t say “the right”) so determined to persuade America that “posible terrorist activity” is the same thing as “actual terrorist activity?”

    Could it be that these people prefer being in an indefinite state of “war,” because it creates a persuasive justification for a bunch of things they really want, like greatly expanded law enforcement power, reduction in privacy and other civil rights protections, an excuse to put off dealing with domestic concerns that they would prefer not to address, and massive expansions in military spending?

    Just an alternative theory for ya.

    Phil (427875)

  44. Great Banana,

    You are making unwararranted assumptions about my motives. Try reading my piece on the Festering Swamp, (at the link) to see what I think about the dry runs. I find it plausible that some have taken place. And I’d have been very nervous at the reported behavior of the musicians.

    The question with Hudson’s story is why she did not use the strongest piece of evidence she had, a current air marshal, to directly comment on Flight 327. She so quoted former air marshals to that effect. Black is demonstrably articulate, so he must have said something quoteworthy.

    Hudson’s piece had two heads. The headline stressed the security flaws. But further down, it also said current and former air marshals who reviewed the report said Flight 327 was a terrorist dry run. Hudson’s quote of Black didn’t address either point. That may have been part of the problem.

    Another commenter has pointed out that Black testified about dry runs in 2004. So Hudson’s quote of Black tells us nothing new. Her first job was to nail down the statements of the current and former air marshals that Flight 327 was indeed a terrorist dry run. Then she could have pointed out that the air marshals say this is part of a longstanding pattern.

    Patterico also said space considerations could have played a role. I find that unconvincing. It is easy to write stories that run in full on the Web but marked for optional trims in print. I do that at my paper regularly.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  45. I guess by Brad’s reasoning we are supposed to ignore the phtrase “After reading the report” in the original article, which report dealt with the incident and follow-up on flight 327. The obtuseness continues, but I am encouraged by a glimmer of hope as he recognized the the ridiculousness of his position before he began backtracking. Perhaps Black didn’t want to add any more to his potential job woes by being quoted more specifically in the original article. He mentions that as a concern above.

    Lazarus, however, tenaciously continues to hang on by his fingernails.

    By the lefty commenter standards here, why did the dems bother to trot out any retired military members to comment on Iraq, when obviously such opinions would be considered worthless?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  46. “By the lefty commenter standards here, why did the dems bother to trot out any retired military members to comment on Iraq, when obviously such opinions would be considered worthless?”

    As someone who’s been branded a “lefty” here (so I must be one, right?) I’ll answer that: For the same reason that the air marshalls’ opinions are being touted as proof that flight 327 was a terrorist dry run. Namely, they wanted what the generals are saying to be true, but they couldn’t convince anyone who doesn’t already want to believe, so they appealed to authority.

    I bet those generals didn’t convince you. They didn’t convince me. Are you convinced by Mr. Black?

    Phil (427875)

  47. Great Banana and daleyrocks:

    Patterico has provided a great service by going directly to an important source for a valuable opinion and also to shore up the credibility of that source. That doesn’t correct the deficiencies of the WaTimes article, i.e. that it made blanket assertions about dry runs without referring specifically to #327. It just didn’t.

    I see Bradley fully acknowledgin what Black wrote to Patterico while standing on his original objections to the article at the time. I see you trying to make political hay out of his very logical stance.

    It is your right to right to “read between the lines” of the WaTimes article and see whatever you want to see. That doesn’t mean it was there, and in this case, it wasn’t, even if you now have a dozen explanations for why it may have been there but was cut for editorial reasons, &c.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  48. And, in return, I ask you, why are certain people (I won’t say “the right”) so determined to persuade America that “posible terrorist activity” is the same thing as “actual terrorist activity?”

    geez, Phil, and here I thought that Americans had left the days when, say, a person stalked, harrassed and threatened was turned away by the police with the line “well, your stalker hasn’t actually harmed you. Call us when something real happens.”

    Say, Phil, I guess you would have liked the Fort Dix six to have actually..you know.. bought and used their weapons before calling in the authorities

    you know…the difference between possible and actual ….

    feh.

    Darleen (187edc)

  49. daleyrocks,

    To the contrary, the sentence you referenced grabbed my attention:

    After reviewing the report, air marshals say it confirms their earlier suspicions.

    That was the claim. But the only quotes that specifically addressed Flight 327 came from two former air marshals. Just one current air marshal was quoted, and he didn’t specifically discuss the flight in question. That struck me as very odd.

    Now perhaps these current air marshals didn’t want to speak for the record because of fear of retaliation. That is understandable. Perhaps Black asked not to be identified as one of the air marshals saying that Flight 327 was a terrorist dry run, and it took Patterico to coax him out of his shell.

    These are just hypothesis. We shouldn’t be left hanging like this on the important question of how did Hudson know what she wrote. She could have written that these air marshals spoke anonymously. She could also have said how many air marshals she interviewed. If we take her claim literally, there was at least one other air marshal whose comments appear nowhere in the story.

    Perhaps Hudson was embarrassed at relying on anonymous sources, and hoped no one would notice. Without any statement from her, we have no way of knowing.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  50. Phil – Are you saying you had a prejudgement that the incident was not a dry run? That is how your argument plays out. You cannot be convinced.

    I have a problem with the word proof that you use for the reasons many comments outline above. Unless these “musicians” are subsequently connected to terrorism and even then, we may never have proof. The incident does fit the pattern of a dry run in the eyes of people with more expertise than me. I prefer to fly safe and a little inconvenienced than to worry. I don’t see where my civil liberties have been encroached upon. Please point to specifics, specifics rather than hypotheticals and a discussion might be possible. Otherwise you’ve still got magical thinking.

    It might surprise you to find out that there are differences of opinions among military minds. Where are those military experts now that the dems originally trotted out? Are they not quoted now because they are saying something inconvenient?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  51. #37, indeed, that is the question. I’d go a little further, and say, WHO CARES? Who cares if this particular incident was a probe? Do you geniuses deny that there are muslims who want to kill Americans, and who are actively probing our defenses? All of this folderol about this and that, and carping about who said what betrays a mindset of total denial. Either that or a political agenda. I’ll bet if we get a Democrat administration, suddenly and magically we’ll be in a war, and these people will support any measures taken to fight it, including so-called profiling.

    Oh, and the economy will be great, and the homeless will disappear.

    CraigC (9b74e7)

  52. The argument is moot. Bradley J. Fikes is no lefty; he’s hard to peg politically and stands for fussy exactness when explaining important facts. Isn’t that what we want him to do? . He thought the original material felt thin; he didn’t say it was wrong, merely not-nailed-down. Patterico nailed it down. That’s what everyone did want. That’s the way the process is supposed to work.

    Gary McVey (6e43a4)

  53. biwah – I am merely pointing out that Brad is backtracking after acknowledging Patterico’s efforts and that it is a dangerous argument to make that unless you are currently employed in your field of expertise you have no credibility. Opinion of former Air Marshals do not do the job for Brad. Failing that, the obvious implication is that the reporter is lying by Brad standards.

    Simple.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  54. With all respect to Gary McVey, I am very easy to pin down. I am a Libertarian.

    And once again, my compliments to Patterico and apologies for my snark. I was frustrated that Patterico didn’t say anything at all about my objections, while responding to others I thought were much less substantive. So I was hasty and intemperate. Had he said earlier, “Hold your horses, I’ll have a response” I’d have waited.

    By the time Patterico told me so, the snark was out of the bag.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  55. The question with Hudson’s story is why she did not use the strongest piece of evidence she had

    As I understand it, that was Brad’s objection. You were comfortable to assume that the strongest (i.e. most specific) piece of evidence was being hip-pocketed for any number of reasons. But that’s a heck of a presumption, even more so when referring to a journalist.

    Gary McVey nails it above. Responding logically to new evidence/info is not backtracking. I guess I’m piping up because your crowing is typical of certain rightwingers who feel that their most extreme suspicions constitute hard evidence, or alternatively that hard evidence is for sissies.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  56. I guess I’m piping up because your crowing is typical of certain rightwingers who feel that their most extreme suspicions constitute hard evidence, or alternatively that hard evidence is for sissies.

    That’s satire, right, biwah? Need I list the endless accusations by the unhinged Left for which there is no evidence, or even evidence to the contrary? Bush lied, people died, right?

    CraigC (9b74e7)

  57. [...] Whistleblower air marshal P. Jeffrey Black stepped up, did the right thing, and will accept the consequences: Every air marshal that has whistleblown publicly so far has been summarily terminated one way or another. It is just a matter of time before I receive my retaliatory pink slip. I am sure there are TSA/FAMS management bureaucrats in a basement somewhere at this very moment, scheming and drawing up battle plans to attack my character and veracity. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Transportation Security Administration. [...]

    Pursuing Holiness » Blog Archive » The Difference Between Whistleblowers and Leakers (e6211d)

  58. hmmm, there’s no evidence that Bush lied…

    Rather than take the bait, I’ll just say it happens on both sides. In the context of the issue at hand, #55 how I characterize daleyrocks and others’ various statements that, e.g.

    it is a dangerous argument to make that unless you are currently employed in your field of expertise you have no credibility.

    I guess by Brad’s reasoning we are supposed to ignore the phrase “After reading the report” in the original article

    you will never believe this was a dry run regardless of the facts or opinions of experts.

    The incident does fit the pattern of a dry run in the eyes of people with more expertise than me.

    …All in response to this basic argument by Bradley that

    the Washington Times article never quoted a current air marshal saying that [he thought flight 327 specifically was a dry run, as opposed to merely that "dry runs have occurred"], contrary to Patterico’s headline. Hudson made an important claim she didn’t back up.

    So who’s unhinged (on this thread, not in your view of the universe)?

    biwah (2dcf66)

  59. [...] Pontifications is running an excellent piece today, Air Marshal Goes on The Record Stating His Opinion That Flight 327 Was A Dry Run. Patterico tracked down current Federal Air Marshal, P. Jeffrey Black, quoted in the Washington [...]

    Air Marshal Who Testified For Congress Speaks Out » The Aviation Nation (65322d)

  60. CraigC, I agree that many, many leftist stories are badly sourced, full of wishful thinking and assertions that can’t be backed up. Patterico does an excellent job of clobbering the LA Times for just this sort of this.

    So–does that mean that we should let “our own guys” off the hook? No, of course not. We have to be tough with ourselves. Fikes nowhere excuses the left; he demands that the right makes dead sure we’ve got the goods before opening our mouths.

    Gary McVey (6e43a4)

  61. I think we should be tough with everyone who makes a claim. By “tough,” I mean supplying evidence to back up a claim. If you can’t back it up, it shouldn’t be in the story. This is something I learned as a wee reporter pup, being interrogated by grizzled editors.

    (DRAMATIZATION)

    GRIZZLED EDITOR: “How do you know that?”

    ME: “It’s obvious.”

    GE: “It may be obvious to you, but it’s not in the story, and I’m not a mind reader. How do you know that?”

    ME: “Because . . . (long-winded explanation).”

    GE: “Wake me up when you get to the point.”

    ME: “(More concise explanation)”

    GE: “Put that in the story, just the way you said it.”

    Eventually, I learned to internalize the GE and run the VirtualGE™ software in my mind before turning in the story. I also use it when debugging stories written by others.

    Bradley J. Fikes (a0b4c2)

  62. “geez, Phil, and here I thought that Americans had left the days when, say, a person stalked, harrassed and threatened was turned away by the police with the line “well, your stalker hasn’t actually harmed you. Call us when something real happens.”

    Well that’s a good question, Darleen. If I see evidence of actual (rather than implied) threats and harassment, that’s one thing. But nothing cited as evidence so far would be threatening or harassing if it weren’t for the fact that the musicians on the plane were Arab.

    Case in point: The much-repeated allegation that one of the men “rushed toward the cockpit and at the last moment veered into a first-class restroom.” What does this mean? Anyone who’s been on an airplane knows that if you have to use a bathroom, you have to get up and either walk toward the cockpit, or away from the cockpit. When you reach the restroom, you then “veer” either right or left, into the restroom.

    Therefor, anytime someone hurries to a bathroom in the front of the plane, they are “rushing toward the cockpit” and then they “veer at the last minute into a restroom.” Any time an Arab runs to a bathroom in the front of the plane he is rushing toward the cockpit.

    Saying such an action is an attempt at terrorism is like saying that a man who shops for groceries regularly is stalking the cashiers because every time he goes to the grocery store he circles around the store, and ends up walking right past a cashier.

    Phil (427875)

  63. Fix Bayonets!

    MikeH (e9e89c)

  64. Oh, I get it: everything is our fault.

    No it’s Bush’s fault according to #3 above.

    dubya (753723)

  65. Phil

    The ‘rushing at the cockpit’ also took place in the context of all of these “musicians” acting in such a matter as to draw the attention of the passengers.

    How do you think Loss Prevention people pick out petty thieves? Because all manner of certain behaviors … innocent in isolation … become a suspicious pattern in totality and context.

    Now, Loss Prevention can afford to let the thieves stuff booster bags or strollers or their own kids with goods and walk past the cashier

    But at 30,000 feet, at what point do you want people to ignore behavior that puts them at risk or is designed to identify air marshals?

    I find the advocation of a Kitty Genovese strategy disturbing.

    Darleen (187edc)

  66. All this debate about whether it “appeared to be” or “in fact was” an action by terrorists just shows that some folks won’t believe there’s a problem untill it affects them personally.

    Here’s another example of how something that’s obviously mideastern terrorism gets buried because it didn’t fit the worldview of lefties at the time who were railing against white fascists.

    dubya (753723)

  67. I didn’t know the TSA was run by lefties.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  68. biwah

    the TSA is run by “civil” servants

    ‘nuf said

    Darleen (187edc)

  69. Darleen:

    Indeed. Ayn Rand would have a field day with this.

    ‘nuf said

    I agree, but the folks who can’t resist laying this failure of the system at the complacent, indolent, effete intellectual left (as exemplified by the application of critical thinking to an ambiguous reporting in a partisan newspaper) can’t resist getting in their shots, no matter how tangential.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  70. biwah,

    The argument as I understand it, is that the TSA doesn’t want bad publicity. If dry runs are taking place, it could also be interpreted as meaning the TSA isn’t doing its job. So there is a pressure to minimize any threats. Airlines would be worried that publicity about dry runs would scare people away from flying. The idea behind all this is that the public is like children who need to be shielded from this knowledge.

    That argument is plausible, since the TSA is a bureaucracy, and bureaucracies have a history of downplaying information that could be interpreted adversely. Of course, whether there is evidence to support that argument is a separate issue that can only be settled by accumulating facts and judging their merit.

    Bradley J. Fikes (a0b4c2)

  71. Andrew Lazarus called her a liar, and I believe his accusation was flatly false. This post is further evidence of it. Will he apologize?

    She isn’t a liar; she is merely misleading.

    If we look at a continuum:
    No air marshals say it was a dry run.Two air marshals say it was a dry run.
    Most air marshals say it was a dry run.
    A consensus of air marshals is that it was a dry run.
    The TSA (or other branch of the government) believes it was a dry run.The story’s actual contents, as it was written and even as supplemented by Patterico, is somewhere between the second and third items in the list. The topic sentence phrasing “which air marshals believe&hellip” and Patterico’s headline about “Feds” suggest a level of belief much further down the list; I’d say equivalent to item 4.

    I was indeed mistaken in believing the actual situation was line 1.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  72. Bradley:

    I was being facetious (see 67 in light of 69).

    But to follow the thought process you attribute to the TSA:

    For lack of information on dry runs, an actual attack occurs…and then the TSA looks really bad. But it seems that these agencies would prefer to avoid opening itself up to scrutiny & criticims in the short-term, at the cost of failing its entire mission.

    That’s horrible. And that’s why Mr. Black and the others he is speaking for need to be heard on this…which is why I give Patterico major kudos.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  73. It’s all just semantics games – arguing back and forth. Lovely! Pay no attention to what’s actually going on, it’s FAR more important to score points on the playground!

    JB71 (e1d60a)

  74. biwah,

    I’m way too literal sometimes. And I agree that Patterico deserves much thanks for getting this out in the open.

    Bradley J. Fikes (a0b4c2)

  75. The musicians (and, yes, they are a genuine band) had expired visas, but in fact their extensions were already pending and were granted.

    Andrew, do you have a source for that?

    See pages 31–34 of the report itself.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  76. “But at 30,000 feet, at what point do you want people to ignore behavior that puts them at risk or is designed to identify air marshals?”

    Nobody’s saying anything about ignoring anything. In fact, I have not once suggested that anyone was wrong to be concerned about anything, and I don’t think anyone else has either. I myself am a very cautious person, and I am very risk-sensitive.

    Being risk-sensitive requires a rational analysis of facts, however. Otherwise, you’re just a paranoid panicker.

    Any perceived, fixable security vulnerabilities should be fixed. Whether or not this was a dry-run for the terrorists, it’s always a dry run for the airlines and the marshalls. That’s why the post-incident analysis is so important, and why I’ve never defended TSA for omissions that were made.

    What’s being criticized is the claim, after the fact, that the behaviours were in fact a dry run. Because an actual dry run and a possible dry run have, in fact, very different implications for security. The former implies that we now know where the next attack is coming from. The other doesn’t. And the latter is much more accurate for purposes of risk analysis.

    If we know that individuals are conducting dry runs, then obviously there are individuals with the means, opportunity and motive to hijack our planes, and they are actually in the process of doing so. It’s only a question of time.

    On the other hand, if we’ve just seen behaviours that could be a dry run, but our suspicions were never substantiated, we have very different situation for purposes of risk analysis. We have to recognize the possiblity that there is in fact no such immediate threat. And that is very important. Not just to say “oh, there’s no threat anywhere.” What if the real terrorist threat is elsewhere?

    What if we throw tons of resources into protecting airlines from attack when, in fact, muslim extremists gave up on hijacking airliners after 9/11 and the shoe bomber because the risk of failure in light of new awareness was just too high? Frankly, I would not consider a passenger airline much of a target after 9/11. There are far easier targets in our country today.

    Phil (427875)

  77. Yes, facts matter, and they matter most when what you are after is intel regarding a future attack. In the calm before the storm, nuance matters because nuance will help us identify the actual threat when it’s going down.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  78. Phil

    I consider “dry runs” to cover intelligence gathering.

    And the bad guys are never going to do the probing themselves. You get someone “clean” to do it.

    It’s not the gangbangers that get jobs in police departments/courthouses/jails…it’s their “clean” girlfriends or relatives. It’s not the gangbangers that get jobs in retail stores in order to steal credit card info. It’s not gangbangers that steal mail from mail boxes.

    But all the info ends up with them.

    Darleen (187edc)

  79. 9/11 was the military doing a test for exactly what happened. London was the same, but a private security firm. They are covering up because of the terror potential if it is known.

    TR (3d0ee5)

  80. What’s being criticized is the claim, after the fact, that the behaviours were in fact a dry run. Because an actual dry run and a possible dry run have, in fact, very different implications for security. The former implies that we now know where the next attack is coming from. The other doesn’t. And the latter is much more accurate for purposes of risk analysis.

    Fair enough, but lest we miss the forest for the trees, this has never been a debate in which one side argued that Flight 327 was absolutely, positively a terrorist dry run while the other argued that some doubts exist as to whether or not it might be. It was and is a debate where one side argues that it was likely a dry run, while the other, led by Snopes and TSA, smugly “knows” it was not. If you’re not in that camp yourself, great.

    Xrlq (bc8348)

  81. Yeah, Xrlq, not “absolutely, positively”—only “indeed”. As in

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

    To my mind, indeed is much closer in connotation to “absolutely, positively” than it is to “likely”. Are you arguing the contrary, or did you forget this Patterico headline?

    Nor do I approve of “Feds” as a collective for some number of air marshals, speaking individually. As I posted earlier, no one would use “Feds call Iraq War Indeed a Failure” on the basis of the various military officers who have said just that.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  82. This has never been a debate in which one side argued that Flight 327 was absolutely, positively a terrorist dry run while the other argued that some doubts exist as to whether or not it might be.

    Wow, that’s exactly the debate I’ve been having this entire thread, arguing exactly the latter point, and on at least two previous post threads. That’s really the only thing I’ve been arguing, and I’ve been called, at best, a “lefty” and at worst, of course, a terrorist sympathizer for doing so.

    Phil (427875)

  83. Phil @ #82

    Wow, that’s exactly the debate I’ve been having this entire thread, arguing exactly the latter point, and on at least two previous post threads. That’s really the only thing I’ve been arguing
    Phil @ #42
    Could it be that these people prefer being in an indefinite state of “war,” because it creates a persuasive justification for a bunch of things they really want, like greatly expanded law enforcement power, reduction in privacy and other civil rights protections, an excuse to put off dealing with domestic concerns that they would prefer not to address, and massive expansions in military spending?

    Yeah, right…you’re only argument. That’s the ticket.

    Darleen (187edc)

  84. Lets Be for real!

    Most likely than not with all odds of Probality this was a test run and probes happen more than we will ever know. Why is this, lack of Air Marshals and untrained Flight Staff.

    Jeff and Robert are speaking the truth and giving you the birds eye view the Service, TSA/DHS does not want the public to see. Why one may ask well how do you get a pay raise and bonus by doing a good job. This is not being done, do you really think your much safer than 9/11?

    Lets face it terroist are in the USA and every other country and waiting like a snake in the dark to attack. it will happen again its a matter of when, if these agencies do not pick up the pace and stop being a disgrace.

    B4REAL, says you better know the deal.

    B4Real (2b210c)

  85. Who on this thread has been arguing that Flight 327 was absolutely, positively a terrorist dry run?

    aunursa (5d3c5b)

  86. Who on this thread has been arguing that Flight 327 was absolutely, positively a terrorist dry run?

    Well, let’s see …

    In post 6, I say “The great dividing point between people in the discussion of Flight 327 is the threshold between accepting that the activity could be a dry run, and forming the opinion that it was a dry run.”

    there’s post 7, “Patterico has an air marshall confirming that this indeed was a dry run.”

    In post 11: We get testimony from a person who has been freakin’ THERE, and Phil still plays the “you can’t prove” and “you must be anti-Arab” cards.

    In post 17, I say “I fully agree that it is possible that this was a dry run. You, on the other hand, refuse to agree that it’s possible that these were simply arab musicians, concerned only with flying from point a to point b, who didn’t act the way the witnesses expected arab musicians to act.”

    Post 37 – “unless we get a full-on confession from someone involved saying that yes, indeed it was a dry run, or test of security, then our leftist friends will never believe it was. Indeed, I’m pretty sure even if we had such a confession, they wouldn’t believe it.”

    Post 66, Dubya says: “All this debate about whether it “appeared to be” or “in fact was” an action by terrorists just shows that some folks won’t believe there’s a problem untill it affects them personally.”

    Finally, there’s the original post itself. “Do I personally believe flight 327 was a terrorist probe or dry run? In my opinion, and based upon my experience flying hundreds of missions since 9/11, my answer is, yes.”

    Why is it such a big deal that a federal air marshall is of the “opinion” that this was a dry run if he doesn’t supply any additional facts to allow us to form our own opinions? The only reason I can think of is to convince people who are saying “hmmm . . . I’m not sure if this was really a dry run or not, based the witness reports” to change their minds and say “well, if a federal air marshall thinks it really was a dry run then that’s what it must have been.”

    Phil (427875)

  87. I think where the greatest amount of friction on this issue arises it the degree to which Phil and AJL seem to be invested in this NOT being a dry run, and requiring a level of proof otherwise reserved for the courtroom. When you couple that with their “Republicans are afraid/scared” memes that they, and LA trotted out in prior threads, it makes one question them even more.

    It does not surprise me at all that the TSA will not state, unequivocably, that there have been dry runs, or that this particular incident was a dry run. As we have seen with intelligence, there is rarely a consensus. Even if there is a “consensus”, as with global warming hysteria, that does not make the consensus correct.

    JD (68b9b3)

  88. Darleen, there’s nothing inconsistent about those statements. I am suggesting a possible motivation for why some folks are insisting this was, without question, a true dry run, and refusing to accept that alternative explanations exist.

    That’s one possible motivation for refusing to distinguish between a possible dry run and an actual one. If you don’t really care about actually catching terrorists, but rather just appreciate the benefits of being in a state of frenzied fear, regardless of the rationality of the fear, then such distinctions don’t matter.

    Phil (427875)

  89. Along the same vein; The recent news that the ACLU will sponsor a lawsuit against Boeing for transporting CIA prisoners should be met with a RICO investigation against the ACLU for conspiracy to engage in a criminal enterprise. While the egregious ACLU is has long been ripe, this would be great opportunity right now for the Justice Dept to hit back terrorism with a gut punch.

    Reynolds Sterling (f17706)

  90. Phil

    Follow along, slowly and take as many breaks as you want in an attempt to absorb the following.

    There is always the possibility that flight 327 was not a dry run/probe… it is just improbable in light of the all the other factors involved. 100% assured? No, not at all. Just a preponderance of evidence.

    However, it seems the “absolute dry run deniers” are exhibiting some sort of investment in debunking even the probability of a dry run/proble. Whether it’s the from the usual defensive flinching of entrenched bureaucracy in the TSA, or from the insipid anti-American knee-jerkiness of Koskiddies or DU denizens… they immedicately attacked the passengers as “crazy” “racist” etc.

    Then we have CAIR attempting to use lawsuits in order to intimidate John Does into silence.

    It’s reminiscent of all those schlocky sci-fi movies of the 1950′s where the amoral scientist keeps insisting the monster is perfectly harmless and makes nasty and elitist insinuations about all the people trying to warn about the monster … the scientist will even cover up the murders of the monster..right up until he himself is a victim.

    Darleen (187edc)

  91. Here’s something to lighten things up as the weekend begins: Transcript of The Bush-Rummy-Cheney 9-11 Conspiracy!

    BUSH: So, what’s the plan again?

    CHENEY: Well, we need to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. So what we’ve decided to do is crash a whole bunch of remote-controlled planes into Wall Street and the Pentagon, say they’re real hijacked commercial planes, and blame it on the towelheads; then we’ll just blow up the buildings ourselves to make sure they actually fall down.

    RUMSFELD: Right! And we’ll make sure that some of the hijackers are agents of Saddam Hussein! That way we’ll have no problem getting the public to buy the invasion.

    CHENEY: No, Dick, we won’t.

    RUMSFELD: We won’t?

    CHENEY: No, that’s too obvious. We’ll make the hijackers Al Qaeda and then just imply a connection to Iraq.

    RUMSFELD: But if we’re just making up the whole thing, why not just put Saddam’s fingerprints on the attack?

    CHENEY: (sighing) It just has to be this way, Dick. Ups the ante, as it were. This way, we’re not insulated if things go wrong in Iraq. Gives us incentive to get the invasion right the first time around.

    BUSH: I’m a total idiot who can barely read, so I’ll buy that. But I’ve got a question. Why do we need to crash planes into the Towers at all? Since everyone knows terrorists already tried to blow up that building complex from the ground up once, why don’t we just blow it up like we plan to anyway, and blame the bombs on the terrorists?

    RUMSFELD: Mr. President, you don’t understand. It’s much better to sneak into the buildings ourselves in the days before the attacks, plant the bombs and then make it look like it was exploding planes that brought the buildings down. That way, we involve more people in the plot, stand a much greater chance of being exposed and needlessly complicate everything!

    . . .

    Bradley J. Fikes (a0b4c2)

  92. “It’s reminiscent of all those schlocky sci-fi movies of the 1950’s where the amoral scientist keeps insisting the monster is perfectly harmless and makes nasty and elitist insinuations about all the people trying to warn about the monster … the scientist will even cover up the murders of the monster..right up until he himself is a victim.”

    What’s like that? Do you really think I’m going to run around covering up the murders of terrorists just because I refuse to assume that an Arab running to the bathroom is actually checking to see if he can hijack the airplane?

    OK, yeah, I suspect the same thing of you guys I guess. I worry that you’re only interested in this being a dry run because you want Americans all terrified so that they’ll elect more pro-war republican politicians.

    You think I’m the evil scientist, and I think you’re the boy who cried wolf. Neither of us are gonna change our minds. Fortunately, we’ll never have to meet each other in person. It’d be pretty disappointing for each of us to discover that the other is just an ordinary blog commenter who leads an otherwise normal middle-class American life.

    Phil (427875)

  93. Phil

    It was not one Arab guy with irritable bowel syndrome. It was a group of Syrians acting together over a period of time in a highly suspicious manner.

    And if Norwegian grandmothers had spent the better part of the last 40 years strapping on bombs in order to rid the world of Joooos and infidels, I’d be attune to watching the group of white, bluehaired members of a visiting knitters club when they started doing feints and acting conspiratorily up and down the aisles.

    Good lord, please don’t ever manage a retail store… you’d be robbed blind by refusing to believe criminal conspiracies exist.

    Darleen (187edc)

  94. Phil,

    I think your concerns are misplaced. I doubt that reasonable people are terrified at the thought that 13 Syrian musicians are probing commercial flights or that our enemies are scouting American society for targets to hit. After 9/11, we should assume they are doing this.

    What does scare me is the thought that our government is ignoring indications that our enemies might be doing this. That ought to scare all of us.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  95. I’m mightily confused here, because the article I’ve been reading from Ms. Hudson does indeed quote Jeff, as I stated on yesterday’s blog.

    An air marshal who told The Washington Times that he has been involved personally in terror probes that were ignored by federal security managers, called such behavior typical.

    “Agency management was not only covering up numerous probes and dry-run encounters from Congress and other federal law-enforcement agencies, it was also hiding these incidents from their own flying air marshals,” said P. Jeffrey Black, an air marshal stationed in Las Vegas.

    Sorry guys, barking up the wrong tree.

    And also I slightly disagree with Jeff. I think it was a probe rather than a dry run, which is different in many ways, but that’s just quibbling over terms for the most part.

    FAM (ecfdd6)

  96. FAM,

    If you actually read Mr. Black’s letter to Patterico, you will see the following:

    Do I personally believe flight 327 was a terrorist probe or dry run?

    I emphasis the word “or”. Mr. Black is not stating he thinks it was specifically a “dry run”, he’s obviously leaving the door open that it could have been a probe also.

    Bill (f30c24)

  97. P. Jeffrey Black was neither on the flight nor part of the investigation. He darkly warns us, “It is just a matter of time before I receive my retaliatory pink slip.” Such information might be relevant to the determination of his credibility and potential bias.

    In any case, he’s not “100%” sure anything was terror-related on Flight 327. And even a named agent outside the loop does not warrant a headline like this:

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

    It would be like a ADA blogging on a police shooting he wasn’t handling and a sympathetic website blasting: “DA says Cops Indeed Acted In-Policy.”

    steve (6830b3)

  98. So, Phil -

    I’m really genuinely curious here. There doesn’t seem to be much argument about what these guys did – spent a lot of time in the restroom with a McDonald’s bag, hand signals even though they otherwise made efforts to keep apart, switching seats, lots of calls to the flight attendants. If not a probe/dry run, what meaning would you assign to it? A dozen nasty kids kicking the back of their seats? A bad in-flight meal generating a lot of bathroom traffic? There’s clearly some purpose to this other than a bunch of guys simply going for a trip. So I’m really genuinely curious what you think they were doing.

    And I will stick one little requirement on you: if they were trying to act in such a way as to create an incident for whatever purpose, that does qualify as a probe. At a pragmatic level – “honoring the threat” is the term I believe the military uses – someone who deliberately creates an incident in the air is not much different than someone who falsely claims to have a weapon or bomb when coming through security. Motivation doesn’t count; actions do.

    unrepentant (8071a7)

  99. The term being used in the media is “dry run.” I agree Jeff left the door open in this statement but I was associating and equating his stance with the Times statements, which is perhaps unjust.

    I’m waiting for Jeff to call me back and then I’ll know his exact thoughts, although I’ll leave it to him to decide if he wishes to share them here or not.

    Still and all, I personally feel it was a probe and not a dry run.

    FAM (ecfdd6)

  100. Steve-

    Jeff would be considered a subject expert on the matter. That’s why he can respond to it, much like when you see such people on CNN, etc. who were not directly involved but who are subject matter experts.

    FAM (ecfdd6)

  101. Such information might be relevant to the determination of his credibility and potential bias.

    Because you’ve got to have something to work with when you don’t like the conclusion a guy reaches.

    So, now it isn’t just former air marshals who must be ignored, it’s those who will be former air marshals at some point in the future.

    Is that about right, steve? I’ve got an even better idea. Just find out if he’s a Republican.

    Pablo (99243e)

  102. FAM,
    Any thoughts as to how much of this type of thing is going on? Thanks to you and Jeff for your contribution to the discussion.

    Pablo (99243e)

  103. I congratulate Mr. Black for coming forward. He has performed, as have other Air Marshals, a public service that is sorely needed. The bureaucracy has become the real government; almost too entrenched to correct. It is unfortunate that his and other careers will suffer. Been there, done that. But what I found is that to do otherwise, if one has a sense of morality, you would find it hard to live with yourself. What I discovered was that there were people in positions of power who knew that what I did was necessary and needed and who knew me and why I did it, so after a long month of panic, my career was restored. Good luck Mr. Black and those who put country above career.

    amr (1f0f07)

  104. Pablo-

    I personally haven’t experienced anything close to this on my flights, although I have been on some flights where people have raised my suspicions. But definitely nothing this substantive.

    That said, many FAMs I know, including Jeff, certainly have. You just never hear about it. Its not in the interest of FAM management and the airline industry for these kinds of stories to get out. Which is criminal, in my BS opinion.

    FAM (ecfdd6)

  105. More Andrew Laughable statements:

    “The Syrian government would absolutely not want to be the return address for an Al Qaeda like attack in the USA.”

    Why not? Syria killed the Lebanese Prime Minister, various journalists, politicians, and so on, with no come back. What would Bush do? Nothing. Andrew trusts a murderous regime that is a state sponsor of Anti-American terror with a habit of killing Americans (Achille Lauro anyone). That says it all.

    This was a dry run so there is no come-back at all anyway. Andrew and the rest are carrying the water for terrorists. Well, if your priorities are enforcing Political Correctness (the religion of Liberals) then people’s lives don’t matter.

    The Left is FURIOUS at the suggestion that “it moves.” That their PC views of the world, their religion (for the Left, PC is a religion a way of life) is false. That we have enemies, they are Muslims, and they want to kill us. The fear of PC that the Left has put into the TSA and government makes us pathetically defenseless against Muslim jihad aggression is pretty clear, and the Left is desperate to have their own Inquisition to prevent the actual truth from coming out.

    The Left prefers PC to public safety and will punish anyone for thought crimes that go against their PC religion. In this they are remarkably like their Muslim allies when they see their religion insulted.

    Bottom line: AQ threw down the gauntlet with Azzam the American, aka Adam Gadahn the Garden Grove Al Qaeda (wouldn’t you know it, another liberal family). They’ve promised something bigger than 9/11. People will die. And it could have been stopped if Liberal PC religious beliefs did not get in the way.

    Thank you Mr. Black for coming forward. I hope your warnings can prompt the people to act (the government out of fear of PC though crimes won’t) to at least minimize the killing.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  106. “The Syrian government would absolutely not want to be the return address for an Al Qaeda like attack in the USA.”

    “Why not? Syria killed the Lebanese Prime Minister, various journalists, politicians, and so on, with no come back. What would Bush do? Nothing.”

    —–

    The one common thread through all these lefty/righty exchanges is that neither side appear to trust the Bush Administration to protect them, and both sides think the administration is incompetent and motivated by political considerations.

    Seems they agree on more than they disagree.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  107. Why not? Syria killed the Lebanese Prime Minister, various journalists, politicians, and so on, with no come back. What would Bush do? Nothing. Andrew trusts a murderous regime that is a state sponsor of Anti-American terror with a habit of killing Americans (Achille Lauro anyone). That says it all.

    In case you didn’t notice, Syria seems to try their best to stop International Tribunal over Hariri’s murder. They are not eager to have their return address on such thing. So far, there’s absolutely no proof that Syria killed Hariri, it’s just widely alleged. And, in case you also didn’t notice, the result of Hariri’s murder was the Cedar Revolution which lead to expulsion of Syrian army from Lebanon, so it’s not like this was a trifle. And, in case you didn’t notice, Syrian soldiers died protecting American embassy from Al-Qaeda last September. And what does the reference to Achille Lauro mean? As far as I know, the PLO people were denied docking in Syria, so what’s the point?
    This is not to say that Syrian government is in any way good, only that wild fantasies should be distinguished from reality. Whatever are the actual policies of Syria (which is a big question in itself; Sunni extremists are the natural antagonists of Alawite minority that is in power; Muslim Brotherhood was not long ago the biggest enemy of the current government — Bashar’s father killed up to 30.000 of them), they’ve not been caught red-handed with murder or terrorism for quite a long time. This probably means that they don’t want to.

    Speaking about “PC religious beliefs”, the only important victim of these beliefs seems to be George Bush with his dreams about the goodness of Iraqi Democratic Government.

    And it could have been stopped if Liberal PC religious beliefs did not get in the way.

    How do liberals prevent stopping terrorists?

    Nikolay (f7fc50)

  108. Bradley J Fikes #106:

    “The one common thread through all these lefty/righty exchanges is that neither side appear to trust the Bush Administration to protect them, and both sides think the administration is incompetent and motivated by political considerations.

    Seems they agree on more than they disagree.”

    You may be right, Bradley, but this comment illustrates the good and bad of libertarian philosophy. Libertarians do an excellent job of exposing problems but they generally fail to offer workable solutions that have a chance to be implemented.

    Libertarian philosophy is so tempting, in part because it puts the burden on the individual to do the right thing. And it’s definitely a plus that libertarians are relentless in identifying problems because we can’t fix problems if we can’t identify them. On the other hand, it seems to me that libertarians are prone to stand on the sidelines and tell others where they’ve gone wrong, safe in the knowledge that their way won’t be tested and can’t be found lacking.

    It’s almost as if libertarians see themselves as the world’s umpires, officiating while the rest of us play the game.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  109. great job patterico. maybe you should work for the times, this is more raw meat than their articles usually have.

    a point that hasn’t been adequately made is the need, on the part of traveling syrian musicians, to avoid making provocative group gestures on airplanes. an air cabin is not a courtroom. since there is no appeal from the adverse result of being rammed into a building at 500 mph, principles and standards such as the presumption of innocence and guilty beyond a reasonable doubt apply only in a diffuse, advisory sense, they do not control. i rarely fly, but i would go caveman far short of no reasonable doubt left that you’re a terrorist. americans are always being told (rightly) to observe and respect the unique cultural sensibilities of foreign countries they visit, same goes for when those folks visit here, we’re a little sensitive about air terror now, as surely the whole world knows, and when you fly here, you will be presumed to have this knowledge and its concomitant obligation: don’t do anything stupid!

    assistant devil's advocate (cba790)

  110. It’s almost as if libertarians see themselves as the world’s umpires, officiating while the rest of us play the game.

    Cato Institute has made many positive recommendations as to what should be done, backed up by solid research and consideration of real-world situations. They’re worth a look.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  111. Plame was in New York.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07154/790568-44.stm

    The terrorists had a Caribbean connection and that’s where the guy before Gates(CIA Director) cancelled some programs. His book is about five Presidents and that’s who handles the big screw ups, retired Presidents.

    There are two new Congressional Intelligence Agencies; NG(Intelligence)A(gravity is disappearing at the pole) and the Energy thing(here is the Clinton Foundation-alot like USAID) . AFRICOM is new too.

    JOM Banned (4cead2)

  112. Bradley J. Fikes (and all of the original doubters of Annie Jacobsen’s story):

    What perplexes me is why you feel that Black’s comments are so vital and why you felt the need to question Hudson’s reporting when she LINKED TO THE REPORT ITSELF in the article.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/elections/DHS-IG-Northwest-327.pdf

    The report was compiled by interviewing various airline and law enforcement officials – as well as at least 6 passengers on the flight (2 of which were presumably Annie Jacobsen and her husband). The report itself confirms the following:

    12 of the men in question were Syrians, 1 was Lebanese.

    The Lebanese man was listed in an FBI database for acting suspiciously aboard another flight months earlier. (He 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.”)

    The Lebanese man was detained a THIRD time in September on a return trip to the U.S. from Istanbul [details of which were redacted in the report].

    All of the Syrians were traveling on expired visas.

    All purchased one-way tickets from Detroit to Los Angeles.

    During the flight, 8 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.”

    “Six of the men arrived at the gate together after boarding began, then split up and acted as if they were not acquainted.”

    “According to air marshals, the men also appeared sweaty and nervous.”

    “An air marshal assigned to Flight 327 observed their behavior and characterized it as ‘unusual,’ but made no further reports at the time.”

    Flight attendants first notified air marshals of suspicious actions by the passengers 20 minutes after the flight departed.

    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 [Lebanese] 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.

    So after reading all of this, why would you poo-poo a suggestion from ANYBODY suggesting that this is a terrorist dry run? Why do you feel that Black’s own opinions are even necessary in this regard when you have access to the original document? Why is a debate over Annie Jacobsen’s credibility necessary when the report was compiled from interviews with SEVERAL passangers, law enforcement personnel and witnesses??

    This entire debate has struck me as bizarre from the very start. To me it proves just how far people will go to stick their head in the sand.

    The next time that Middle Eastern males engage in objectively suspicious behavior on an airplne, do we now have your permission to suspect that it might be a terrorist dry run based on our own perceptions and common sense? Or do we need to find an air marshall to give an on the record pronouncement to a newspaper first?

    Justin Levine (20f2b5)

  113. Bradley J. Fikes (and all of the other original/current doubters) –

    Here are the facts that are asserted in the government report itself (compiled from interviews with various law enforcement officials, airline staff and at least 6 passengers) WHICH WAS LINKED TO IN HUDSON’S ARTICLE THAT YOU FELT THE NEED CRITICIZE:

    12 of the men were Syrians. 1 was Lebanese.

    The Lebanese man was listed in an FBI database for acting suspiciously aboard another flight months earlier. He 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.”

    The Lebanese man was detained a THIRD time in September on a return trip to the U.S. from Istanbul [details of which were redacted in the report].

    All of them purchased one-way tickets from Detroit to Los Angeles.

    During the flight, 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.”

    “Six of the men arrived at the gate together after boarding began, then split up and acted as if they were not acquainted.”

    “According to air marshals, the men also appeared sweaty and nervous.”

    “An air marshal assigned to Flight 327 observed their behavior and characterized it as ‘unusual,’ but made no further reports at the time.”

    Flight attendants first notified air marshals of suspicious actions by the passengers 20 minutes after the flight departed.

    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 [Lebanese] 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.

    [end of report excerpts]

    So with all of this being demonstrated based on interviews with MULTIPLE WITNESSES, why is/was Black’s declaration so important in your mind? Even if you have reason to discount both Hudson’s reporting and Annie Jacobsen’s original account, wouldn’t an objective reader be able to look at this report and at least reasonably SUSPECT that it might be a dry run for a terrorist operation?

    If we encounter similar suspicious activity on an airline in the future, do we have your permission to characterize it as a possible terrorist dry run? Or do we need to get an official declaration from an air marshal in a newspaper report first?

    Your criticisms have struck me as bizarre from the start of this debate. While I am gratified for Black’s response, it is ultimately unnecessary and doesn’t change anything here.

    Justin Levine (20f2b5)

  114. Thank you to Mr. Black and Patterico.

    Is it possible that the appropriate lawyer readers can take up Mr. Black’s cause if necessary?

    So, the next time I’m on a plane (never cross-country) and I see suspicious activity by a number of Moslems going into the bathroom, do I get up and get in line to interfere??

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  115. Justin, I don’t think the debate is about whether it is reasonable to suspect that this behavior was a dry run, but about whether it actuall was. And to determine that, there are some significant omissions in the report. For example, I don’t recall how many passengers (other than the small number who were concerned at the time) were interviewed. That’s the sort of question that makes it relatively difficult to substitute one’s own judgment for the air marshal on the scene. (Someone on this thread pointed out that the band’s behavior was also consistent with upset stomachs.)

    Incidentally, I believe that the band had return tickets already, but on Jet Blue.

    You’ll note that I’ve quoted that report several times. My favorite paragraphs are where the TSA and FBI state that on further investigation, they don’t believe the band is connected to terrorism.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  116. Justin,

    I criticized the Washington Times article for failing to back up what it claimed. The article claimed that current air marshals who read the report concluded that the flight was a terrorist dry run.

    Nowhere in the article is that claim backed up with a quote from even current one air marshal. So your quoting from the report itself shows you didn’t really understand what my objection was in the first place.

    Patterico did get air marshal Black on the record specifically stating that the flight was in his opinion a terrorist dry run. Yet the Washington Times article nowhere quotes him to that effect, although it does quote two former air marshals.

    AND ALL CAPS IS SHOUTING.

    Bradley J. Fikes (60379e)

  117. Bradley J. Fikes –

    Given the fact that the Times article linked to the actual report for everyone to read, I’d characterize that as “backing up” what it reported. It was quite easy for everyone to read the report and draw their own conclusions.

    Justin Levine (0a75c9)

  118. Andrew J. Lazarus –

    Re: # 155. Your argument comes across as a triviality. The original debate was actually whether or not writer Annie Jacobsen was justified in writing her original article expressing fear about her experience on the plane, or whether she was a delusional paranoid who wanted to stoke bigotry against Middle Eastern men. It is now quite clear that she was quite justified and that she was smeared by some in the press and in the blogosphere, and her doubters come across as buffoons who are liekly to make the skies less safe in the future.

    Justin Levine (0a75c9)

  119. Justin,

    You still haven’t a clue what my objection was. You should reread my posts, this time carefully and not just skimming through like a NYT legal reporter. :-)

    Or go ask Patterico. He understands why I objected, even though he doesn’t agree with me.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  120. lebanon ford…

    news…

    lebanon ford (536fd9)

  121. Good Lord, sounds like our agency at the DOI as well.

    Traci Hallstrom
    Federal Whistleblower

    Traci Hallstrom (2f076b)


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