As most of you know by now (this is what happens when I go to bed early; I miss the breaking blogger news), a reader of Powerline
did a bit of research and discovered the name of the band
that was on Annie Jacobsen's flight
. Clint Taylor writes
Anyway, this is good news. Nour Mehana's band might have acted like jerks on the plane, but it appears safe to say they were not casing Northwest Airlines for a suicidal assault, and we can quit worrying about this being a "dry run" or an aborted attack. And if Jacobsen was wondering why one man in a dark suit and sunglasses sat in first class while everyone else flew coach, well, it seems pretty clear that this was the Big Mehana himself.
Which is definitely not the same as saying Jacobsen was wrong to worry. The proven existence of this band confirms one of the last details of her story, and her story confirms some of our worst fears about airline security. The mindset of passengers, of the crew, and even of the law-enforcement personnel (Jacobsen said a flight attendant reassured her husband by pointing out that air marshals were on the flight), and decision makers higher up the ladder was reactive, not proactive.
I stated in my first post on this subject that there were parts of Annie's story that read like fiction to me. I still think the story has been somewhat embellished. Did Annie really think the man who had been so nice to her pre-boarding had turned and glared at her when they were on the plane? Or was she just remembering details that didn't exactly occur, but were more like dramatic flair?
But that's really neither here nor there, is it? What we have here seems, on its face, to be an ending, a conclusion, the closing statement on a now legendary (in internet terms) story.
Or is it?
The really story here is one of security.
June 29 was no ordinary day in the skies. That day, Department of Homeland Security officials issued an "unusually specific internal warning," urging customs officials to watch out for Pakistanis with physical signs of rough training in the al Qaeda training camps. The warning specifically mentioned Detroit and Los Angeles's LAX airports, the origin and terminus of NWA flight 327.
That means that our air-traffic system was expecting trouble. But 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. Given the information they were working with at the time, almost everyone should have reacted differently than they did.
Jacobson's fears turned out to be, thankfully, unfounded (though she still maintains
that the Wayne Newton look-alike singer and his traveling band are not the people she saw on the plane). And now we delve once again into the land of what ifs
; what if her fears were not unfounded? What if these guys were terrorists on a dry run? Given the circumstances of the day, that should have been a real fear. Perhaps Annie Jacobsen overreacted and, in my eyes at least, retold the story in a way that was a little too over-the-top in the drama department, but the pilots and the air marshals that were supposedly on board should have reacted differently considering what the warning of the day was.
Today, splashed all over your news, we see stills from the video
of four 9/11 hijackers at Dulles Airport. It's chilling to look a these pictures because we know what comes next. It's like watching a horror movie you've seen ten times already, but you still want to scream at the screen at a certain point: don't go in the basement
! But they always do. And no matter how many times you look at these pictures and you want to say don't let them in!
the scene has been acted, directed and wrapped. You can't change it.
You can leave a theater after seeing a slasher film laughing in the knowledge that even though you just watched fifteen people die, it wasn't real. You look at the pictures of the hijackers entering the airport, you look at pictures of the burning WTC, and you wish
it wasn't real. And sometimes there's a part of your brain that still can't grasp the reality of it and you look with kind of a disconnect, much like you do with movies.
Unlike the movies, where fifteen more horror films will make their way to your local theater and the dumb girl will go into the basement/closet/dark room every single time, we have the power to make sure that what we see on the Dulles surveillance tape never happens again.
That's my issue this election year and it's my only issue. My vote will be selfish. My vote will be about me and my family and nothing else. I will admit right here that I am not considering social security, spending, health care, taxes, gay marriage, education reform or any other issues of 2004. They are all secondary to me. What is the use of all those wonderful things like health care and the right to marry whom you want if we're not safe? First things first. Make this country safe for me. Win the war on terrorism. Make sure that we never have to scrutinize surveillance tapes or have a commission figure out where we went wrong ever agin. Then we'll talk about everything else.
See, I am a security mom
. Michelle Malkin speaks for me when she describes what makes her a security mom
Nothing matters more to me right now than the safety of my home and the survival of my homeland. I believe in the right to defend myself, and in America's right to defend itself against its enemies. I am a citizen of the United States, not the United Nations.
I want a president who is of one mind, not two, about what must be done to protect our freedom and our borders. I don't care about the hair on his head or the wrinkles in his forehead. I am not awed by his ability to ride a snowboard or fly a plane. Nor does it matter much to me whether his wife speaks four languages or bakes good cookies.
What I want is a commander in chief who will stop pandering to political correctness and People magazine editors, and start pandering to me...
I have a place this election. I have a stand to make. Remember soccer moms? I never understood that phrase nor did I understand what made the soccer moms such an appealing part of the constituency. What did they stand for? Better soccer fields? Nicer SUVs? More after school programs? It was disingenuous to describe young, suburban mothers in that way and frankly, it pissed me off. I felt it was an insult, that we were being thought of as no more than the appendage to the family, the cheerleader for the husband and kids. Looking at me in that light was no way to get my vote. I really don't remember anyone
liking the soccer mom label. It labeled us as passive observers to the political arena whose vote could be had by offering us free coupons for diapers. Condescending.
But, security mom. Now there's a label I can sink my teeth into. It means something. It shows what I stand for. It shows where my vote is going and why. Security moms are not passive. We are knowledgeable. We are aware. We are active. Most of us were thrust into this role after 9/11 and we accepted it gladly.
I probably do myself - and others like me - a disservice by saying my vote is a selfish one. Just because I am not putting your right to marry or your education concerns first does not mean I don't care about those things, or you. National security is for all of us. I care about this country and its future. I care about your family, your children, your safety.
Somehow, our national security has become little more than a platform of partisan bickering. The release today of the 9/11 commission's report (speaking of partisan) will relieve both Clinton and Bush of any outright blame for what happened in September of 2001. Mostly, that's a good thing. Our presidents were doing all they could to protect us, right? The problems can be fixed and future terrorist attacks can be prevented.
Administration officials familiar with the report told reporters late Wednesday that “neither President Bush nor President Clinton would be blamed for failing to act.” They said the panel would include an appendix praising the Bush administration for its actions since the 2001 attacks that had made the nation.
The report will also debunk several “myths” that have built up around the terrorist strikes that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania, the officials said.
According to the report, they said:
* The Saudi government did not fund the 19 hijackers.
* Relatives of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden were not allowed to fly out of the country until after air traffic was allowed to move freely after it was grounded following the attacks. Moreover, those family members had no connection to the terrorist plot.
* Bush did not know about the specific threat beforehand, and there was little more that he could to prevent it.
Still, the report is expected to provide fodder for arguments in the presidential campaign.
Advisers to the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, have said they hope to use the report to show that the Bush administration was inattentive in the summer of 2001 to threats of a possible attack.
Well, damn. The report is good. What a shame for the Kerry campaign. Instead of saying, look, we did all we could, let's not place blame, let's look forward
, Kerry's advisers are disappointed that they can't blame Bush for everything. They're hoping
to get political mileage out of it.
That shows me that Kerry is not
pandering to me, other security moms or anyone who cares about the future security of this country. He is pandering to the people who think Bush made it happen or let it happen (MIHOP or LIHOP for those who swim the dark waters of Democratic Underground). He is pandering to those who believe Michael Moore's fallacies. His people think that security is an issue to be used to be divisive, to drive a wedge between the Kerry supporters and the Bush supporters. He should be embracing the findings of the report and telling his supporters - and his rival's supporters - what he will do to ensure that he follows up on those findings by making this country a more secure place.
Here's a man who had as his security advisor a guy - Sandy Berger - who was, by the admission of his own friends and collages, a bumbling, error-prone, careless man. And obviously a man who didn't know much
about the man who was advising him on security matters:
John Kerry to Tom Brokaw tonight:
Brokaw: "Did you know that [Berger] was under investigation?"
Kerry: "I didn't have a clue, not a clue."
Brokaw: "He didn't share that with you?
Kerry: "I didn't have a clue."
Not very comforting.
I am a security mom. It's a label I wear with pride
. It's the reason I am voting the way I am in November. I don't think a man who is disappointed in the findings of a committee that says our president and our recent past president were doing all they could would make a good president. I don't think a man who knows so little about the people in his entourage would make a good president. And, if I can be frank here, I think John Kerry would be the worst thing to happen to national security since Jimmy Carter. Instead of pandering to me, to the people who are worried about the future of this nation, to the people who want protection and the people who want their safety concerns addressed, he panders to the far left liberals who think making up with France is a priority.
I am a one issue voter this year. I find nothing wrong with that because it's an issue that directly relates to every single other issue. Without a good national security, without a strong president who will not cave in to terrorists, without a president who will stand down the antiquated machine of the UN, we will likely be looking at pictures just like this
some day and asking why.
[At this point in the rambling thought process, I have to leave for work. I probably did not tie all the above thoughts together and I will most likely have more to add to this later, though I'm sure some of you will not hesitate to point out any inconsistencies.]