Mysterious Syrian Band Identified

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That purportedly suspicious band of Syrians on a June 29 Detroit-L.A. flight that caused a wave of terror about potential terror in the blogging world has been positively identified on National Review Online. Clinton W. Taylor does some deducing and makes some phone calls and discovers that, in fact, these guys were perfectly normal passengers, the backup band for Syrian singer Nour Mehana, on their way to perform at the Sycuan Casino & Resort, near San Diego.

Strangely, after explaining that these guys were perfectly innocent musicians, Taylor still concluded that there was something wrong with the fact that

rather than land the plane in Las Vegas or Omaha, it was allowed to continue on to Los Angeles without interruption, as if everything were hunky-dory on board. It certainly wasn't. If this had been the real thing, and the musicians had instead been terrorists, nothing was stopping them from taking control of the plane or assembling a bomb in the restroom.

Wait–what about Annie Jacobsen, whose breathless account of her nerve-wracking experience watching these musicians run amok with their standing and bathroom-going started it all? What if she had instead been a terrorist? By the same logic, nothing was stopping her from taking control of the plane either, or assembling a bomb in the restroom.

In fact, even today, the skies are filled with people who, just like on that flight, are not terrorists and have no intention of taking control of a plane or assembling a bomb in it. Yet they are, as NRO points out regarding Jacobsen's sub-Shatnerian nightmare at 20,000 feet, blithely allowed to continue on to their destination without being brought down in some other city instead. I can only thank NRO for bringing that problem to our attention.

NEXT: Fear and Loathing

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  1. If one was asked to spend the night alone in a rumored old haunted house in the middle of nowhere, every normal creek and noise within the house at 2 AM would make the person’s imagination run wild (assuming that the person is at least open to the idea of ghosts/supernatural). Each little sound, perceived or not, plays in the mind like it’s a poltergeist getting ready to swallow someone inside a TV set.

    I’m wondering if this is similar to the experience of Annie Jacobsen (and others on the flight). Every gesture, every eye contact, and every shadowy movement among the Middle Eastern men on that flight were “spiced up” in the Mind’s Eye. I find it difficult Ms. Jacobsen would intentionally make up or greatly exaggerate details of this story. It’s one thing for a magazine author to make up a story about teenage Internet hackers and Monicondoms (a la Stephen Glass of The New Republic). But to deliberately fabricate a terrorist plot on a commercial airline seems a bit too gutsy in order to merely create some paranoia. Either the men’s action were overtly suspicious, or the author noticed smaller-scale occurrances and just hiked-up the significance in her subconscious mind. But I don’t think she was out to deceive.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. Just because they were members of a real band, does that also mean they were definitely not terrorists? As someone noted on an earlier thread, if terrorists can learn to fly a plane, they can certainly learn to play guitar.

  3. Steve: obviously they were terrorists cuz they took over the plane, overpowered all the air marshals and then replaced all the passengers and crew with pod people before landing safely and continuing on their mission of mass replacement.

    random person: that story, although interesting and possibly the least hysterical yet, is clearly a plant by AQ to intimidate panicky passengers into silence. i don’t care what anyone says, i will continue to be paranoid and nervous wherever i fly. we’re at war here, people! when we stop feeling panicky around foreigners, the terrorists win.

  4. I dunno if these musicians were terrorists but if the band’s behavior was even half as obnoxious as described I would have been annoyed as hell with the airline for permitting it to go on.

    My pertinent question is why did the flight crew not tell these asselonians to sit down and shut up. If it was my kids or some drunk behaving in the manner described the flight crew wouldn’t have hestitated to intervene.

    Aside from that, I thought it was already established that these folks penciled out as musicians. That isn’t really news. What? NRO just found out? Oh.

  5. Meanwhile, my east indian coworker who drives our company truck, often with 2 55-gallon drums, gets reported to the police more often than you think. Last check, he was up to 3 calls in the last 2 months and about 30 calls total since 9/11.

  6. Terrorist won’t have to make a bomb, they just have to make something that looks and smells enough like a bomb so that they can take over the aircraft.

  7. Check this out. It looks like the air marshalls were more concerned with Miss Annie causing a panic than with the musicians.

    The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen?s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.

    Way to go Annie, you really help Americans live up to the whole “land of the free, home of the brave.” Her story may have elements of truth in it, but as anyone that follows the criminal justice system knows, a single eyewitness account isn’t likely to get you very accurate specific details.

  8. No one has yet pointed out the obvious reason for the band’s “suspicious” behavior–they were performing the Salat, the ceremonial ablution ritual before prayer. But then, Annie Jacobsen didn’t know what the Salat is, and why it might be, er, important to Muslims. Ignorance is, as always, the primary source of fear.

  9. Oops, random person already posted the url.

  10. Oops, random person posted the link already

  11. Paranoid Xenophobia: 0

    Reason: 1

  12. If Annie Jacobsen had been writing instead about a group of 14 pharmaceutical salesmen, and how they were acting suspiciously and making obscene gestures and undressing her with their eyes, and waggling their eyebrows at her, and spending indecent amounts of time in the bathroom (implication: wack wack), and otherwise creating a hostile environment for women on the plane, I expect she would have been immediately dismissed as a delusional leftwing feminist kook.

  13. “There were apparently specific warnings on the day of the flight about potential terrorist activity on a flight originating in Detroit, bound for Los Angeles.

    Since that warning matched this flight’s itinerary, the author is speculating that some elevated response would seem to have been in order.”

    That warning was about Pakistanis who looked like they’d been roughing it in camps, not about Syrians in showbiz and probably get facials.

  14. Misguided and erroneous as she was, I still have trouble placing much blame on her. For a couple hours, she actually believed there was a good chance she’d wind up in a fireball before she landed in L.A. Those types of thoughts do strange things to your psyche. And while she made gestures that compromised security protocol, it wasn’t like she started screaming or going hysterical. The air marshalls seem to be nailing her more than the raucous on-board behavior of the band (“innocent” as it was).

    And while it’s safe to say that these particular group truly were not terrorists, I don’t see any reason why them being a music group would’ve automatically make them free of suspicion in the first place (as Steve mentioned). If you wanted to get over a dozen Middle Eastern men on board a U.S. aircaft to carry out an operation without looking very suspicious, forming a “traveling band” is actually a very smart idea.

  15. “I expect she would have been immediately dismissed as a delusional leftwing feminist kook.”

    WRONGO, Gloria Alred would be holding a news conference right now to announce the filing of her legal action against the air carrier.

  16. Shannon Love writes: “The bands members behavior didn’t just set off alarms in the passengers but in the flight crew as well. Enough so that they had authorities on the ground meet the plane when it landed and investigate the band members.”

    The plane would probably also be met by authorities if a surly rich white Christian teenager from the Hamptons were talking about bombs on the plane.

    In this case, it was apparently met *solely* because of Ann Jacobsen’s suspicions. That seems to be policy. Crew members and air marshalls can’t override a passenger’s baseless suspicions.

  17. I wrote: “I expect she would have been immediately dismissed as a delusional leftwing feminist kook.”

    TWC writes:
    “WRONGO, Gloria Alred would be holding a news conference right now to announce the filing of her legal action against the air carrier. ”

    And this shows I’m wrong how, exactly?

    The sort of right-wing people who rallied behind Jacobsen after she ran her story about terrorists would undoubtedly have ridiculed her, had her story been about sexual harrassment by businessmen, even if her ‘evidence’ were of the same quality as that in the terrorist story.

  18. this is completely retarded. way to prove your utter disregard for thought, america.

    I think the point is: If they were concerned enough to have authorities meet the plane when it landed why didn’t they ground the plane in mid-flight?

    i think the point is that far too many paranoid white suburbanites (yes, and you know its true) see imminent disaster everywhere there’s a person of color — by making xenophobic interpretations of every sigh and whisper and leg-crossing. on the last international flight i took, i was immensely entertained by the american white couple in front of me who nearly has a conniption becasue someone on the flight was wearing a turban.

    in the last ten years, there have been some 80 million domestic flights in the united states. god knows how many muslims have been on those flights, but it numbers in the tens or hundreds of millions. and there have been four hijackings and 19 terrorists.

    people, wake up and smell the shit you’re being shoveled. you can take a flight every goddamn day for 36,000 years before you can reasonably expect to be involved in a crash of ANY cause. you are definitely NOT going to die because the guys in 23 E-F are speaking in arabic.

  19. One more qestion. When one Syrian mouthed “No” to the other, did he do it in English? That doesn’t make sense and I’m positive Annie doesn’t speak Arabic. Unlike most European languages, the Arabic word for no doesn’t start with the letter “N”. In fact, it starts with an “L” and would look like more like lay than any other word in English.

    Dahler Mendi had better watch out flying in during his US tour. He actually wears a turban, no telling what kind of panic that will cause.

  20. If Arab musicians want to fly without attracting suspicion they should either sit down and keep their mouths shut during the long and boring flight, or else travel as Paula Abdul’s backup band!

    Everybody knows that going to the bathroom and talking to friends during a flight is the exclusive privilege of the white passengers.

    What’s next? Naturalized Arabs being allowed to vote? The humanity of it!

  21. > “you are definitely NOT going to die because the guys in 23 E-F are speaking in arabic.”

    How does this relate to anything in Annie Jacobsen’s story? Who said anything about a couple guys merely sitting and chatting?

  22. “One more qestion. When one Syrian mouthed “No” to the other, did he do it in English? That doesn’t make sense and I’m positive Annie doesn’t speak Arabic. Unlike most European languages, the Arabic word for no doesn’t start with the letter “N”. In fact, it starts with an “L” and would look like more like lay than any other word in English.”

    My theory was the guy who did that, who also allegedly ran his finger across his throat, was doing so in reference to the stink he just made in the bathroom. ie, he was telling his friend/bandmate “Don’t go in there if you know what’s good for you. heh heh. Phew, I really shouldn’t have eaten that falafel.”

  23. Wow, the details of the story are changing quicker than I can keep up with in this thread. The Strawman arguments are coming out in a rapid pace, I see.

  24. ryan,

    Fear, axis armies conquoring the world, and the possibility of an atomic chain reaction setting the atmosphere on fire.

    But other than that, nothing.

    Oh, and biological warfare agensts air-lifted across the Pacific.

  25. thoreau writes: “Everybody knows that going to the bathroom and talking to friends during a flight is the exclusive privilege of the white passengers.”

    Also, Arab passengers should get priority seating so that they’re always seated together, no matter how many are travelling together, or even if they aren’t travelling together. Non-Arab passengers should be reseated as necessary.

    Because it’s suspicious when Arabs are travelling together but sit separately.

    Never mind the fact that it would be highly unlikely that a group of 14 white Protestant Americans could obtain adjacent seats unless they booked months and months ahead of time.

  26. As a woman, I can say this without being accused of sexism–I read much of Ms. Jacobsen’s story and it sounds to me like she’s going through the start of a really, really bad menopause. This could have been a good story had she used it to make the point, “Silly me. See how I got myself so worked up over nothing? We as Americans have to make sure we don’t let ourselves get carried away.”

    Mo-
    Is is possible that the Syrians were mouthing a word which looks like “No” in English but in Arabic actually means “hysterical Stepford bimbo?”

  27. Who said anything about a couple guys merely sitting and chatting?

    doug, the point is that all SHE saw — and yet she managed to imagine that she was minutes from plummeting to her death.

    there seems to be a willful denial (perhaps unsurprisingly) of the severe state of delusional paranoia that has gripped millions in our nation with respect to muslims since 9/11. it causes constant fits of stupidity in otherwise normal people, and has even gotten a great many americans hip to the idea of just jailing all of “them”.

    not to draw on a tired parallel, but i think its not so different from how the german populace viewed jews about 60-70 years ago — or how americans viewed communists 50 years ago. a one-off event has led to a xenophobic mania. just as then, there simply is no chance that you’ll die at the hands of an arab terrorist — and yet the whole country is geared for the primary purpose of making sure it doesn’t happen. amazing.

  28. Im still wondering, what racious behavior did these guys commit again? Using the bathroom and talking to eachother and standing in the aisles??

    Good thing me and 14 of my buddies were not on that plane, because let me tell you, racious behavior doesnt even begin to explain the last few flights we have taken. Have we been asked by flight crew to keep it down, yep, have we been shushed by numerous passengers, hell yea. Have we stood up in the aisles gesturing to eachother and being lewd, all the time. Have we had the captain over the loud speaker tell us that we really have to keep it under control, we live for that.

    We would I have told Mrs. Overreaction to fuck off and die… this whole terrorist thing, its good scaremongering…. but I refuse to change my life to pacify a bunch of whining bitches…

    I thought this site was full of libertarians, and all i see is a bunch of scared pussies afraid of a few Muslims sitting around them…. how sad, pathetic and close minded. You really think they are all out to get you, it is paranoia and it shows how weak minded you truely are.

    A very small percentage of middle easterners want to harm you, the same small percentage of christians that want to harm non christians, skin heads who hate blacks, blacks who hate whites, blacks that hate other blacks, mexicans who hate blacks, mexicans who hate whites… the list is endless.. And dont even tell me that none of those people have ever not done anything like a terrorisit, what do you think killing abortion doctors, or drive by shootings, or lynchings, church bombings, hangings, burnings, dragging behind trucks with chains are.

    I dont see any of your paranoid fucks crying when you see a black man looking at white men in an airport with shifty eyes, or mexicans with too low of a bandana gang signing his homie on a plane.

    I dont fear any middle easterners, but I fear people like you.. I fear for what America is becoming with people like you running around…

  29. Freedom Fighter: you make a good point about racious behavior, i wish i’d thought of that. one man’s racious behavior is another man’s… uhm.

  30. freedom fighter,

    your requested “I Desperately Need Attention” t-shirt and next batch of ultra-testosterone pills are in the mail. enjoy.

  31. Right triag, cuz you know writing paranoid articles in womanswallstreet certainly show a lack of attention whoring, look at me, look at me….

    Being rowdy and racious and slightly over filled with testosterone is one of the joys of being young and male, and when you get a group of them together its one of the few pleasures in life… I certainly dont want to give it up any time soon…. so I take your comments as a compliment of the highest regard.

  32. Just don’t shave your head and start shouting “Oi!,” kid.

  33. What is “racious”? Is that somebody raucous who raises a ruckus?

  34. Some people here think the Syrian musicians were being obnoxious ? Imagine if Van Halen and crew had been aboard !

  35. On the bright side, this incident brought to the world’s atttention that there exists a publication called “women’s wall steet” !

  36. now, had it been the group “aqua”, this annie jacobsen would have been defending that group from the beat down it would so desparately deserve. shudder. euro (trash) dance “music”. shudder.

    is it too early for that drink?

  37. drf: no, by all means, have a drink. just don’t get too racious.

  38. As a Detroiter, I’m amazed that anyone boarding a plane in this city would even blink at the sight of Arabs. The airport sits about 2 miles away from Dearborn, one of the highest-density Arab areas in the nation. My guess is Ms. Jacobsen is not from here, but as often as I fly in and out of here, it seems that a person reacting in that way, IN DETROIT, must be very sheltered indeed.

  39. Muslims on a plane do nothing for me. A crying baby on the other hand….

    This thread aside, I wonder how Annie is feeling right now? Is she defending the terrorist idea srill or is she slapping her hand to her forehead and thinking about the Southwest Airline motto, “Wanna get away?”

  40. Right on, folks.

    Because it means you are a racist pig if you are on a flight and you start getting nervous when you notice a group of Middle Eastern men, speaking arabic, looking at each other nervously, getting up simultaneously, going to opposite ends of the plane in evenly split groups, refusing to sit at the pilot’s request, and so forth.

    I guess the feds are a bunch of racist pigs too, for packing the flight with air marshalls, and meeting the flight when it landed in LA, and then calling the casino where the band was booked, just to make sure. As well as the air crew being racist pigs for being nervous and apparently radioing ground control about it.

    Yep, just a bunch of neo-con racists, the lot of them – how dare they question the right of groups of men to stand up and congregate at the front of the plane during landing. How anybody could draw any kind of conclusions, or even get the slightest bit nervous about that kind of behavior, coming from those poor innocent young men, is beyond me. Everybody knows that 80 year-old anglo grannies from Greenwich deserve just as much security scrutiny, as groups of mostly young Middle Eastern men traveling together on our planes.

    And of course the nice thing about living in Libertaria, is that I can do a 180 on all of this after the next big attack and scream about how we should have paid closer attention to all those damn furrn terrists on our flights, checking them out prior to the attack – unlike people actually on flights, piloting planes or charged with securing them, my only job is to bloviate.

    Kinda makes the criticism kinda cheap, don’t it?

  41. A thought on the musicians: What if the McDonald’s bag that they took to the bathroom contained their weed stash? Maybe they needed an illegal smile to deal with a flight full of paranoid white people πŸ™‚

    Wouldn’t be the first time musicians did a little weed…

  42. Along those lines…

    I’ve heard that if you exhale into the airplane toilet while flushing, it sucks down all the smoke and the smoke detector won’t go off.

    At least, that’s what I heard.

  43. Has anyone (besides myself) considered the possibility these young men were screwin with the people who keep giving them the evil eye?

    Mak Nas, do black people worry less about (potential) Islamic nutjobs less than white people? I read some Michael Moore-type racism into your comment. (not saying I find you racist, but the sentiment is) Most black people are not from “the hood”.

  44. Stephen,
    The other side of that coin is why are all the security hawks still freaking out about this incident. They got searched when they came in, there were air marshalls aware and watching them (and going to the bathroom after they went, something Annie never mentioned) and the FBI followed up on a passengers afterwards because of the hubub caused by the passengers. The guys weren’t on any watch lists, their stories check out and there’s a picture of him and Ronald Reagan hanging out.

    In short, the system worked the way it was meant to. It worked so well, the marshalls’ biggest concern was a hysterical woman causing a panic and blowing their cover. Yet, this hysterical woman is media whoring it up on the mainstream media telling the same “harrowing” story as if these guys were doing an actual dry run instead just being an ethnic lounge act. Oh and a note for the future, if you see a bunch of Arab guys in matching outfits on a plane, chances are they are they aren’t terrorists. They try to be a tad bit sneakier about things like that.

  45. Thanks to Stephen Fetchet for the only reasonable comment yet in this thread.

    Wonder what it’s gonna take for most of you to realize WE’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A FRIKKIN WAR, and that, yeah, the enemy happens to be some Middle Eastern people. It’s not “racist” or “hysterical” or “paranoid” for someone to worry about Middle Eastern people on an airplane.

  46. Sam I Was: I already used that joke at 1:14. Get your own material.

  47. So, summing up, what do we conclude about Annie and her ilk?

    “paranoid, terrorist, hysterical, causing problems, overreacted, isn’t likely … very accurate, didn’t know what the Salat is, Ignorance, Xenophobia, baseless suspicions, sort of right-wing people, completely retarded, utter disregard for thought, white suburbanites see imminent disaster everywhere there’s a person of color, doesn’t speak Arabic, privilege of the white passengers, really bad menopause, hysterical Stepford bimbo, willful denial, state of delusional paranoia, Mrs. Overreaction, bunch of scared pussies, weak minded, lynchings, church bombings, hangings, burnings, dragging behind trucks with chains, paranoid fucks, people like you, causing a panic.”

    If I see anything suspicious on a flight, I’ll keep my mouth shut. Better to be silent than to suffer this kind of calumny from my supposedly fellow Americans.

  48. “getting up simultaneously, going to opposite ends of the plane in evenly split groups,”

    Hm. Maybe there’s something that Muslims do in groups, simultaneously, at various times of day?

    Oh, yeah, they pray. And that’s every day, not just before engaging in a terrorist act. Many devout Muslims pray so much they get a callous on their forehead.

    What do they do before they pray? They wash up. Where do you wash up on a plane? In the bathroom. Where are the bathrooms on a plane? At either end. How many people can use an airplane bathroom? 1, as a practical matter, thus the lining up.

    What do they need to pray? If possible, room to kneel. And a blanket or something to kneel on.

    Where does a person find extra space on a plane? Usually, at the tail end of the plane, where there’d be room for 2 or 3 people to kneel and pray, I suppose. That would imply 5 or six “shifts” of praying, for all 14 to get it done.

    Given the length of the flight, two of the daily prayer times would have happened. With hours of dead time on the plane, why not get the prayers done then?

  49. Yep, we’re in the middle of several frikkin’ “wars”, all with about the same legitimacy. The war on Drugs, Poverty, Illiteracy, Obesity, and now Terrorism.

    And yet there have been more “terrorist” acts against the United States commited by its own citizens than by foreigners. mcVeigh was only the most high profile of them, we have a history of bombing clinics, churches, synagogues, mosques, voting registration offices, laboratories, you name it we’ve probably bombed it. So Sam I Was, don’t get too caught up in W’s rhetoric. It may not be racist to be worried about these guys, but the numbers say it is paranoid and hysterical.

    Or how about if the terrorists could learn to fly a plane they could learn to run a business, better check up on those convention travelers. Or they could learn to take a vacation, or they could learn to go to school.

    Funny though how no one is scared of Africans hijacking planes (Uganda 1976, Somalia 1977, Ethiopia 1993)or Singaporeans (1991). Nobody is concerned about Pakistanis specifically, though they do get some grief over looking “too Middle Eastern” (1998, 1999), and let’s not forget that of all the hijackings by Arabs, only ONE in the almost forty years history of plane hijacking has it been intended to kill right from the start.

    I know, to stop any further unrest among the good white people, we should make a law prohibiting the BSP’s from flying. From now on unless you’re a very white or very dark, you shouldn’t be getting on a plane. Granted this policy may unfairly exclude some light skinned African-Americans (or exceptionally tanned whites), but that’s what you got to do to be safe.

  50. mak_nas, thoreau, now Agammamon, all seem to have problems with white people. What’s up with that? Are they racist?

  51. Only three calls in two months for your East Indian coworker? When my German professor was a kid during World War Two, there were daily calls to the FBI telling them “There are lights on over the German restaraunt after hours!” — well, yeah, his family (who owned the restaraunt) lived upstairs. Of course, it’s only natural for people to report these things, and the FBI agent was pretty good-natured about the whole thing, but it goes to show this is far from a new phenomenon.

  52. OK dagny, name the German professor (he’s dead now, right?) I think you made the whole thing up!

  53. Ridiculous! There certainly was something that prevented them from assembling a bomb in the restroom. Namely, that they had been screened for those sorts of materials, as we all are, before getting on the flight.

    Taylor and Jacobson have the same agenda– to make sure we are all paranoid. When the evidence is thrown in their face that nothing untoward was going on, they declare, “But still, it could have been a terrorist attack that you should have been paranoid about.” Jacobson is, apparently, still promoting the idea that this was a “probe” by terrorists who have learned to play instruments, even though the FBI cleared them.

  54. Jacobsen is the terrorist. Her hysterical story abt the undeniable “dry run” has struck fear (terror!) in the hearts of wingnuts across America.

  55. If Jacobsen’s account is truthful, the band members were acting in a way that would get a reasonable person worried. It sounds to me as if the incident was properly handled — neither ignored nor blown out of proportion.

  56. I think you missed the point.

    The bands members behavior didn’t just set off alarms in the passengers but in the flight crew as well. Enough so that they had authorities on the ground meet the plane when it landed and investigate the band members.

    I think the point is: If they were concerned enough to have authorities meet the plane when it landed why didn’t they ground the plane in mid-flight?

    It is a mathematical certainty that any good security system for the airlines will produce false alarms by at least three orders of magnitude for every positive it finds. The fact that the current systems doesn’t produce a lot of false alarms suggest that the system is not sensitive enough.

  57. Namely, that they had been screened for those sorts of materials, as we all are, before getting on the flight.

    The 9/11 hijackers were also screened. The shoe bomber made it through security. We can screen and inconvenience ourselves all we like, but if one is motivated enough to sacrifice him/herself, you can be certain that that person also has enough motivation to figure a way around airport security.

    And this story may or may not be another example of “paranoia”, however, it’s not as if it’s paranoia not rooted in past experience. *shrug* I’d rather have overly paranoid fellow passengers than not.

  58. Shannon, you seem to assume that because Annie Jacobsen didn’t notice a response on the plane, there was none.

  59. The context for the quote you gave was rather important to understanding the author’s concern.

    There were apparently specific warnings on the day of the flight about potential terrorist activity on a flight originating in Detroit, bound for Los Angeles.

    Since that warning matched this flight’s itinerary, the author is speculating that some elevated response would seem to have been in order.

  60. Fying naked is the best way to avoid problems.

    “Fly nude, dude” – new slogan for Hooter Air!

  61. I guess there really isn’t anything to fear but fear itself.

  62. According to this article, Jacobsen was the one causing problems on the plane.

    http://www.kfi640.com/ericleonard.html

    Sorry, I’ve never learned how to use tinyurl, etc.

  63. Absolutely. Nothing to fear but fear itself. And, of course, Axis armies conquering the world.

  64. Shannon-
    With a name like “Jacobsen,” it’s a pretty good bet that she’s white. Furthermore, had her skin been of a brownish hue, she likely would have mentioned this, to give credence to her “I am not a racist” theory.

    Secondly, while I can’t speak for others, I have already said that I don’t fault her for being nervous during the flight, but for continuing to be nervous even after nothing happened, and her insistence that “something should have been done” to protect us from the non-existant threat.

    Also, had you read any of the links which Mo and others posted here, you’ll note that the air marshals only gave her the “Relax, we are here” message because they were worried that SHE was going to make a ruckus with her behavior. If air marhals go out of their way to calm a woman down, I’d say the word “hysterical” is a good description of how she’s behaving.

    Seriously–the government DID pull these guys aside after the flight and interviewed them extensively. They were NOT a threat. What more should have been done, to protect us from these non-threatening non-terrorists?

  65. “I can do a 180 on all of this after the next big attack and scream about how we should have paid closer attention to all those damn furrn terrists on our flights,”

    The obvious way the U.S. government could reduce the chance of another terrorist attack, is to quit meddling in foreign nations.

  66. RB Is Na?ve obliviously knows nothing about the history of US covert actions around this world. Heck, he/she probably doesn?t even know about things that happen in this country unless it’s blasted at him/her by our so-called media. For instances, I would guess RBIN didn?t know that during the Gary Condit hoopla over Chandra Levy a woman, Lori Klausutis’, was found dead in former congressman Joe Scarborough?s Florida office. Or that George Bush?s son, Neil, was scheduled to have diner with Scott Hinckley the evening after Scott?s brother, John Hinckley, shot President Reagan. And, no I will not provide the links to these stories because if you, RBIN, are as well informed as you think you are about the history of American covert actions around the world finding out what happened in your own country should be no problem for a dedicated researcher such as yourself. But my guess is Rick Barton is not the na?ve one.

  67. I think it’s really cute that the new definition of “naive” is apparently “One who doesn’t put complete faith in his country.” By that standard, Rick is indeed naive. As am I.

  68. Without a doubt, being the richest country in the world with the greatest military capabilities in the world will always attract some enemies. There will always be nutjobs who hate modern civilization.

    So I’m actually sympathetic to the notion that hard-core Al Qaeda terrorists hate us for our freedom.

    But terrorists don’t live in a vacuum. They are surrounded by other people. They depend on some of these other people for money and recruits. They depend on far more of these other people for benign neglect. If every non-psychotic foreigner out there had more respect for America, Al Qaeda would be dismantled tomorrow. Their neighbors would turn them in. Their funding would evaporate. Their pool of recruits would be greatly diminished. (Not completely gone, but greatly diminished.)

    Hmm, why might much of the world dislike our government? Hmm… Could it have anything to do with the behavior of our government around the world? With some of the tyrants that we call allies? Including, say, the decidedly unenlightened Egyptian regime? Or that 2-faced House of Saud that oppresses its people, exports Wahabbism, and still enjoys friendly relations with the gov’t? Or maybe the way we supported Saddam Hussein back when he was using WMD against Iranians?

    Could it be that a lot of average people around the world look at US support for dictators and thugs and guerrillas and conclude that the US gov’t is a threat to their life, liberty, and property? Could it be that much of the world actually likes our domestic values (economic, political, and social freedom) but hates the way that we behave elsewhere?

    Nah, couldn’t be. And the mere fact that I say this means I must hate America.

    Oh, and when Jennifer wrote:
    Whoops. Make that, “The CIA put the Shah’s FATHER into power in the 50s.” Apparently, democracy is only good for Americans–the rest of the world deserves hereditary monarchies, so long as our money is protected.

    That’s right, here in America we NEVER pick leaders based on whom they’re descended from! πŸ™‚

    P.S. Interesting aside based on that: Two of the 3 US Presidents directly descended from former Presidents lost the popular vote: George W. Bush and Benjamin Harrison (grandson of William Henry Harrison). And John Q. Adams lost the electoral vote (some states appointed electors without a popular vote back then, making a complilation of the popular vote impossible) but won in the House of Representatives.

    It’s almost as if every time a Presidential Scion runs for office we Americans say “No thanks, there’s a reason we killed redcoats!” but something in the Constitution says “Sorry, you’re stuck with him anyway”.

    God Save the King. πŸ™‚

  69. Thoreau-
    Why, oh why, do you hate America so? We all know Bush II wasn’t put into office because of his Daddy–he EARNED everything he ever got!

    Did I just write that? Hmmm–I don’t REMEMBER having taken any drugs. . .

  70. M. Simon writes: “I know you are going to find this hard to believe but there were definite reports that the 9/11 guys flew on a lot of airplanes checking out various details before taking the planes on the day they wanted them.”

    The 9/11 guys kept a rather lower profile than the 14 Syrians musicians, don’t you think? It does them no good if they attract attention to themselves, resulting in an interrogation and background check at the destination, resulting in capture.

    I’d expect that only a few of them flew on these flights, rather than the whole 19. They probably flew solo or with another hijacker.

  71. Rick, do you really believe that the USA is a terrorist target because the USA is a “meddler”?

    C’mon, do you REALLY believe that?

    Let me set you straight: the USA is targeted because we are the most powerful, most economically successful, most influential nation on earth.

    Your ignorant viewpoint implies that the USA could escape terrorist attacks by changing its foreign policy; i.e., by “meddling” less.

    I doubt it. There’s nothing we could do that would make us less hated, less a target. There will always be a global minority that hates wealth and power (e.g., Michael Moore; OBL; Zawahri.)

    The instant that we try to conform our way of life to try to appease our enemies, is the beginning of our downfall. Isolationists like you really need to decide whether you want to live in the USA or not.

  72. “Wouldn’t be the first time musicians did a little weed…”

    I fly a lot. I’m a lighting director for a recording artist of fairly major renown.

    Believe me: if another terrorist attack is thwarted on an airplane, those rotten bastards are not going to have anything to do with it. It’ll be the passengers onboard who do it. I never miss an opportunity to abuse TSA, because they’re all stupid fux, nothing but in my way.

    The last time I went through Philadelphia, I had a live one at gate security. I gave him all the gas I could think of, just abusing his raggedy ass up one side and down the other. He and his dink buddy ran me through the whole wringer, and they still missed the quarter-ounce of reefer I was traveling with. Dumb-ass losers.

    Having pointed that out, I say Jacobsen is an idiot.

  73. xray,

    I know you are going to find this hard to believe but there were definite reports that the 9/11 guys flew on a lot of airplanes checking out various details before taking the planes on the day they wanted them.

  74. Rick has yet to come to the conclusion that the basis of human politics is the alpha male problem. #2 is always gunning for #1. It is human nature. It is what we like to fight about. And we do like to fight. Humans are not basically peaceful. Our history is not a history of defects. It is a history of our nature.

    Rick and the Libs will never understand politics until they come to terms with its biological origins. It is not about ideas (they can help). It is about how power is gained, lost, transfered.

    Because of our human nature there will always be a #1 and no matter how good #1 is – a #2 promising to do better. Or just taking all the marbles if possible. Power vacuums will be filled. Given the state of the world I’d rather have America filling the alpha male slot than any other current power I can think of.

    Course the Libertarians do have a valid complaint. “It ain’t utopia”.

  75. Agammamon,

    As I understand it no drugs have hijacked airplanes although I have heard rumors that the avacados are marching.

    Rumor has it that terrorists (of the Islamic variety as pointed out in the 9/11 report and that was suspected by some Americans before the report) have actually taken aircraft. And killed all the people on them by crashing the aircraft.

    Such reports tend to make people pay attention.

    BTW given the fact that it is impermissible to block the isles in aircraft and that aircraft often turn in flight how does one do Moslem prayers on an aircraft?

  76. There wasn’t anything wrong with her being nervous during the flight, if what she says is true; the problem is that after the flight ended with no harm done to anybody she STILL went and wrote an hysterical story about her bugaboos. Turns out the guys were NOT terrorists, yet she’s still upset because “nothing was done?”

    I wonder if she’s familiar with Aesop’s tale of the boy who cried wolf?

  77. Uh, Rick,

    Even if our government was perfect according to your lights America would still have enemies.

    It is not the nature of America but human nature that is the problem. And you sir are a perfect example of the very thing you complain about.

    Reason should be quite happy to have you. As an example.

  78. I can tell you what happeneed to the boy who cried wolf. In America they rounded up or killed every wolf they could find until wolves were no longer a major problem. In fact few wolves are found any where but zoos.

    It is unwise to behave like wolves around Americans. They tend to get very focused and very methodical.

  79. M. SImon-
    And now we have a wolf-free country populated by nothing but sheep. Three cheers for the Home of the Brave!

  80. Updated ending to out National Anthem:

    “Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave,
    O’er the land of the Sheep, where we all are afraid.”

  81. Oh come one people…doesn’t anyone recognize this women? This is the woman who calls the cop about every teenager in her town. This is the woman who down south in the fifties worried that her daughter might be touched by a black man. This is the woman who believed that Iraq MUST have sent the anthrax. This is the woman who is just sure that single is gay. This woman ia everything amusing and disgusting about middleclass suburban America. Now what I’ve been chuckling about is her p..sy whipped husband.

    Cower little chickens, cower in the corner….

  82. “Your ignorant viewpoint implies that the USA could escape terrorist attacks by changing its foreign policy; i.e., by “meddling” less.”

    But that is exactly what the facts point to. The overwhelming evidence is that then 9/11 happened as a direct result of our government’s hyper-interventionist foreign policy, vis a vis the Mid-East. Note that the 9/11 commission findings reveal:

    Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who conceived and directed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was motivated by his strong disagreement with American support for Israel, said the final report of the Sept. 11 commission.

    http://www.kentucky.com/mld/heraldleader/news/nation/9222612.htm

    In his 9/11 Fatwa Bin Laden told us the three reasons for the 9/11 attack:

    1. The American military in the Arabian Peninsula too close to Mecca. (This idiocy is at last ended)

    2.The blockade if Iraq.

    3. American government support for the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestinian land.

    http://www.ict.org.il/articles/fatwah.htm

  83. I’m with Rick on this one. I’d even go so far as to say that there might not be any worldwide Islamic revolution if not for us. After all, it all started in Iran, when the Iranians threw out the evil Shah and replaced him with Khomeini, and then numerous other Islamic dominoes started to fall. But where did the Shah come from? Why, the CIA put him into power in the 50s, after overthrowing the democratically-elected Mossadeq before he could nationalize the Iranian oil fields and–gasp!–cause American oil companies to lose money.

    I never bought the idea of “collective guilt,” but if I did I’d say America pretty much deserves what is happening. After fifty years of our meddling, chickens are coming home to roost with a vengeance.

  84. Whoops. Make that, “The CIA put the Shah’s FATHER into power in the 50s.” Apparently, democracy is only good for Americans–the rest of the world deserves hereditary monarchies, so long as our money is protected.

  85. Some observation on this thread:

    (1) People who accuse Jacobsen of racism and prejudices themselves make sweeping bigoted assumptions about her race, education and life experiences.

    Her race is completely unknown from all the news stories. She is financial writer who travels often and widely. She writes in the story itself that she traveled extensively in Pakistan and India and stayed in many rural, traditionalist Muslim homes.

    Yet most of her critics here (with knees in full jerk assume) she must be a white, ill-traveled, poorly educated racist with absolutely no experience with Muslim culture.

    (2) The same behavior that alarmed Jacobsen also alarmed the flight crew and the on-board Air Marshals. When the plane landed it was met by the FBI, TSB, LAPD and other Air Marshals. A week later the TSB issued a directive disallowing passengers from congregating in the isle or visiting the restrooms in groups.

    I don’t understand why Jacobsen is a considered whinny hysterical racist for being concerned about the same behavior that set off alarms in the professionals.

    (3) I find it disturbing that people who claim to be libertarians find fault with a person who pays attention to her own surroundings, assumes responsibility for her own security and who questions the competence of the government officials.

    I find it disturbing that many here seem to feel that, having witnessed behavior that prompted a response from the security professionals, she should have just laid back serene in the knowledge that government always know best and would never let her down and once having arrived safely she should have never written anything critical of the government’s handling of airline security.

    To passively accept that everything is just fine is considered brave, principled behavior. To question and investigate is “sheep like.”

    Weird.

  86. “WE’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A FRIKKIN WAR”

    Iraq? Our government was wrong to attack a nation
    that was no threat to our security.

    “the enemy happens to be some Middle Eastern people.”

    Yeah, and there is just no end to the to the enemies our government can make for us. Capitalism breeds worldwide partnerships. War, on the other hand, is the health of the state.

  87. thoreau,

    Your last post was very much on point.

    The neocon “There’s nothing we could do to make them hate us more” meme begs the question of who “they” are. It assumes that there’s a fixed supply of terrorists. But terrorists are recruited from somewhere. It’s reasonable to assume that there is a large number of people in the Islamic world with a generic, ideological hatred of the U.S. who don’t currently feel strongly enough to risk their lives; but for a significant segment of those, on the margin, that could change in response to specific triggers.

    The “They hate us for who we are, not what we’ve done” meme is also far from self-evident. I saw a C-SPAN program on a recent Zogby poll of the Middle East in which the majority of people had favorable views of American culture and society, but very negative views of its foreign policy.

    I also have trouble grasping the “reasoning” involved in dismissing as “defeatism” any revision of U.S. foreign policy in response to blowback from past meddling. Apparently, every country in the world EXCEPT the U.S. is supposed to be deterred by the threat of force, and to reassess its own past course of action in the face of negative results.

    The U.S. is the ONLY country which is never supposed to learn from the negative consequences of its own behavior. One of the corollaries of American exceptionalism, it seems, is that it’s “defeatist” to learn from mistakes. You can’t stop banging your head against the wall, because it would be letting your headache dictate your course of action. You can’t stop whacking a hornet’s nest with a stick, because only a pussy lets them gol-durned insects tell him what to do.

  88. Annie Jacobsen is proof that weed should be commonly smoked on all flights. She would have mellowed out along with the Syrian band and they would have been singing the theme song to Friends all the way to LAX.

    Obviously, she is being repressed by her governments domestic policies.

  89. One of the corollaries of American exceptionalism, it seems, is that it’s “defeatist” to learn from mistakes.

    Good point. The rationale seems to be that what we were trying to do is Right and Good, and if we stop trying to do it then we are letting the Bad Guys win. Although it’s dressed up in macho, resolute language, it’s actually similar to the left’s arguments on failed social programs: Just because the past attempts failed doesn’t mean we should stop pouring money into social programs, because those programs are For the Children, and giving up would be abandoning the Children.

    In other words, our intentions were good and the problem is bad, so even the worst failure around is better than not trying at all. It might make sense in motivational seminars, but when there’s an ever-mounting body count (blow-back from foreign policy) or ever-mounting price tag (failed social programs that only make the problem worse), sometimes benign neglect really is the best course.

  90. In case anyone cares, I did a Google image search on Annie Jacobsen and found her Women’s Wall Street photo. As I suspected, white with a preppy Greenwich-style haircut. Big surprise.

  91. I did a Google image search on Annie Jacobsen and found her Women’s Wall Street photo. As I suspected, white with a preppy Greenwich-style haircut. Big surprise.

    Jennifer, are you as good at recognizing white Greenwich preppies at a glance as Annie Jacobsen is at recognizing Arab Muslims?

    Furthermore, had her skin been of a brownish hue, she likely would have mentioned this, to give credence to her “I am not a racist” theory.

    Why does brown skin make someone not a racist? Has the color of Louis Farrakhan’s or Osama Bin Laden’s skin tempered their anti-Jewish rhetoric at all?

    Let me head off the inevitable reply that “those people” would never be racist against “their own kind.” Many, many ethnic groups in the world have brown skin, and among them you will find fully as diverse a scheme of politics and racial animosities as among white-skinned Europeans.

    I think it’s a sign of progress that media writers don’t always announce the color of their skin – perhaps we’re starting to recognize the world as a broad palette of peoples and cultures, rather than seeing everything in – well – black and white … .

  92. In other words, our intentions were good and the problem is bad, so even the worst failure around is better than not trying at all.

    In other other words, since we’ve had security failures in the past, we should just give up.

    That’s a pretty sensible position in its own way I suppose, if you are a nihilist, and I’d advocate it too, as long as I could be sure you were among the first few thousand slaughtered in some preventable attack causing massive casualties, just to prove my point in a manner that would make it abundantly clear to you how wrong you are.

    I presume, by the way, that you are starting from the premise that the reason the U.S. hasn’t had any major attacks in the last three years, is because Al Qaida simply hasn’t tried. Otherwise, you would be conceding that the ongoing security efforts aren’t a complete failure.

  93. By “ongoing security efforts,” Stephen, are you referring perhaps to Sec. Minetta’s ban on racial profiling?

    To the Air Marshall program, whose troops basically called this woman hysterical and said she endangered their operations?

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