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A Chilling Tale of Terror in the Skies!

Turns out that the person on Annie Jacobsen’s infamous flight from Detroit to LA that most worried the air marshals was Jacobsen herself:

Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger overreacted to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS.

The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service.

Full story link here (you’ll need to scroll down a bit).

As so many bloggers so often say about the working press — I wonder if this bit of information will get the same play on blogs as the initial story by Jacobsen. I doubt it. I will of course not speculate as to why that might be, and instead leave that fun to you.

However, I should say that although Jacobsen’s piece got the most play — and the most overheated reaction — from the right side of the blogosphere, I really don’t see this as a red v. blue issue, I see it more as a “who is hysterical and who is rational” issue. Perhaps this is misplaced confidence on my part, but if 14 Arab men, who all seem to know each other, are placed on a plane I am also on, I’m going to assume that the TSA — not my favorite government agency, to be sure — is not so monstrously incompetent as to not have checked them out. As indeed it seems they had in this particular case. I know, I’m an incurable optimist. But there it is.

There’s also a matter that, inasmuch as Detroit is home to one of the largest Arab populations in the world outside of the Middle East, and Los Angeles in turn has a not insignificant number of Arabs as well, the unusual thing would be if there weren’t a fair number of Arab men on the flight. Finally, to be entirely blunt about it, between air marshals and the general determination by Americans post-9/11 to chuck the whole “don’t mess with hijackers” thing to the wayside, if it came to that, whoever the hijackers might be, they wouldn’t be allowed to use our plane as a missile against any one else. Basically, a rational person wouldn’t have been all a-feared and vaporous.

Does this mean we should forget Arab men hijacked the planes on 9/11? Nope. It does mean we should remember that July 2004 is coming on three years later. It’s a different world. Also — again, call me nutty — I do like to go on the assumption that most Arabs, even the men, board a plane to be a passenger, not a hijacker. The odds really do seem to be in favor of the former rather than the latter.

As I said, none of this is conservative, none of this is liberal. It’s a matter of thinking things through. It’s entirely possible I could be wrong. In which case I’ll be dead. You got me there. On the other hand, I myself have flown out of Detroit a number of times since 9/11 — most recently this last May — and while I’ve not been confronted with a Syrian band’s worth of Arab men, I’ve seen a fair number Arab-looking men on flights I’ve been on, thrown into the usual polyglot airplane US passenger mix. I’ve made it through all those flights just fine (and so did they).

I doubt none of this will ever make Annie Jacobsen feel more secure on a flight with its share of Arab men; from her writing she seems to be the twitchy type. I don’t suggest political re-education for her; this isn’t about her politics, it’s about her and her fears. I do suggest a sleeping pill.

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