The Gopher State And the (Alleged) 20th Hijacker


The Rake finds the Minnesota angle in the 9/11 saga, with a profile of Clancy Prevost, the Pan Am flight instructor who tipped off the FBI about suspicious student Zacarias Moussaoui. Writer Dean Staley keeps throwing in boilerplate about how we have to put ourselves back in that pre-9/11 mindset to understand why people overlooked so many clues, but the impression I got was how quickly, and on what scant evidence, Prevost started to form his suspicions. A guy with no law enforcement connection, working for a private company that was under some financial pressure just to take Massaoui's money and not ask questions, still ended up being instrumental in the only domestic 9/11-related indictment to date. There's some kind of lesson there, but I'm not sure what it is.

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  1. How about:
    1. The value of common sense?
    2. Formal Law Enforcement training might blind (or inure) you to the daily sensitivities of regular people?
    3. The FBI is criminally inept (no pun intended).

  2. The economist buried within me says it has something to do with localized knowledge…

  3. The article is very interesting and worth a read. The lesson I got was an individual can make a difference purely by their own convictions.

    “They sat down to lunch in the cafeteria. Prevost asked Moussaoui what he did for a living. Moussaoui said he worked in the import/export business, that his family was covering for him while he was gone.”

    So Zach did imports AND exports? Impressive. I wonder if he’s an architect, too. Fucktard.

  4. Tim & Mr.Nice Guy…
    Let’s see…Mr.Prevost, the passengers on Flight 93, the flight attendents on the other planes who relayed crucial information, the guy at the FAA who grossly exceeded his authority and grounded the civilian fleet, the many people in the WTC who ignored the “all is well, remain at your desks” messages…worked!

    The Air Force sending planes east into the Atlantic, the Secret Service NOT whisking GWB away, the airport screeners who didn’t find anything wrong because there WASN’T anything (procedurally) wrong, the FBI following procedures and not forwarding the Phoneix Memo, the CIA-FBI pissing contest, contingency planning, senario generation,and bureaucratic culture…DIDN’T work.

    Maybe individuals do matter. The casualty list would have been a lot longer if they didn’t.

  5. What Christopher W. said.

    Everytime I go through the invasive airport security protocols and find myself in the “certified weapon-free safe zone” of airport gates I find myself thinking how easy it is for the guy smart enough to smuggle a weapon onto a plane (not exactly a MENSA-level challenge) to do a great deal of damage.

    Maybe I’m just weird, but that feeling that we’re all “certified to be unarmed” makes me feel a lot less safe…

  6. Multiple choice: There haven’t been any buildings destroyed by highjacked airliners since 9-11 because

    • We all know that the threat-level color du jour is yellow.
    • The screeners won’t let me keep my fingernail clipper.
    • The Air Force is standing by to shoot down highjacked airliners.
    • Congress has reorganized several Federal agencies.
    • Every time someone stands up and says he’s taking over an airplane the passengers ignore Federal Highjacker Management Guidelines and stomp him into the aisle carpet.
  7. Uh, I’m going to go with E, Larry. Final answer!

  8. I feel safe flying post 9/11 . . . because we all know that we have to stomp the hijackers. The only .gov actions that made a difference, in my opinion, were a) guns-for-pilots and b) air marshalls. The guns-for-pilots thing is one of the few cases where I’d agree with Senator Boxer.

  9. Don,

    I basically agree with you – as long as the hijackers I’m forced to stomp are basically as unarmed as I am. But it’s a lot less of a fair fight if I’m forced by the security procedures to have nothing but a barf-bag and a copy of SkyMall and the hijackers have managed to evade security so that they’ve got knives and guns.

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