in the Skies: Why 9/11 Could Happen Again
Audio (Quality starts out
horrible but improves two minutes in when I moved to the front row.)
report says that Annie Jacobsen's famous report was false.
From David Horowitz's email promoting Thursday night's talk:
The Center is hosting
a special evening event on Thursday, September 28th  featuring
Annie Jacobsen who will speak on her new book Terror in the Skies: Why
9/11 Could Happen Again.
first-hand account of her flight with a group of suspected terrorists
forces us to ask: Could 9/11 happen again? On June 29, 2004, Jacobsen,
traveling with her family on Northwest Airlines flight 327, witnessed
what she believed was a terrorist "dry run." The blogosphere quickly
made world news of Jacobsenís article on her terrifying experience,
launching her on a year-long investigation.
In Terror in the Skies, Jacobsen tells, for the first time, the full
story of the events on Northwest 327 and the investigation that followed.
What happened on her flight, she discovered, was not an isolated incident,
and if our air security does not improve, 9/11 is likely to happen again.
Annie Jacobsen is a regular columnist for Women's Wall Street where
her controversial "Terror in the Skies" columns were first published.
After over a dozen installments, Spence Publications contacted her to
write a book of the same title.
I chitchat with Janet
Levy, a firebrand conservative political consultant who was jolted
out of apathy by Israel's second Intifada (in August 2001) and galvanized
to fight Islamic terrorism (after a long career in software).
Her husband's a liberal. They must have interesting conversations over
Janet delivers the introduction: "The role that political correctness
plays in airline security is shocking."
She protests the Transportation Safety Administration giving CAIR
(Council on American-Islamic Relations) a special tour. "We shouldn't
be talking to Muslims," she says.
She protests Muslim sensitivity programs for airport screeners.
She protests the view that Jihad is an inner struggle rather than a worldwide
violent one against non-Muslims.
I sit next to Kevin Jacobsen,
the speaker's actor-husband.
I'm bummed because there's no dessert and no tea and no coffee. I take
comfort in cheese and crackers.
Annie says the Department of Homeland Security does nothing to protect
us and is all about ego, money and control.
Annie talks about various flights with male Muslim passengers who behaved
"Flight attendants all sign waivers that they may not discuss flight
accidents or incidents with members of the press."
Washington Times reported in 2004:
The Homeland Security Department's sense of fashion is endangering
the lives of federal air marshals by making them conspicuous to terrorists,
says the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. Marshals, they
say, must follow a strict dress code and military grooming that is enforced
by the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS). According to memos obtained
by The Washington Times, marshals must wear a suit, or a coat and tie,
when flying from all cities, even traditionally casual locations such
as Orlando, Fla. Their hair must be worn in a conservative style. No
beards are allowed, and dress shoes are required for both men and women.
This dress code was only repealed a month ago, after four years of lobbying
by air marshals, hundreds of articles, and 20-months of Congressional
writes on Amazon.com:
Does the accumulation of four years without further terrorist attacks
make you feel safer when you fly? It shouldn't. The Bureaucratic Bunglers
are out in full force and with them in charge you don't have a prayer.
Or rather, all you do have is prayer. According to Annie Jacobsen, we'd
better do our homework on this one because there is no one watching
out for us.
Back in April, Gates of Vienna posted on Ms. Jacobsen's tenacity and
her willingness to follow this story wherever it led. That post, "Silence
of the Sheep," proved that the author is a sheepdog indeed. Her interviews
with other passengers, with government agencies, with the House Judiciary
Committee, with airline personnel, and with individual people who bear
the day-to-day hazard of working in this field, have made her case.
The tale of her experiences is documented well in "Terror in the Skies".
This is a top-down problem. The guys in harm's way - the pilots and
flight attendants - know the problems but they have no more power to
address them than you do. Less than two percent of pilots are armed.
Want to know why? Because in order to actually carry a firearm on board,
the firearms training must be done on the pilot's own time and it has
to be done in a place far from home, squeezed into his holiday time
or vacation. And flight attendants?
Again, they have to arrange self-defense training on their own time,
at their own expense and without the cooperation of the airlines themselves.
Think of it this way: what if Brink's hired drivers and gave them no
training in handling attempted robberies? What if they expected their
employees to get training - if any - on their own time and their own
dime? How long do you think Brink's would be in business? That's the
situation we have in the friendly skies of America.
When you add to that the cruel joke of the Federal Air Marshals, the
lackadaisical behavior of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the
farce we all know as the Department of Homeland Insecurity, it's enough
to make you want to stay home and do your business by long-distance
Let's take just one: FAMS. This is bureaucratese for the Federal Air
Marshal program. You know the old joke that goes "you're ugly and your
mother dresses you funny"? Well, for this program, the first part may
or may not be the case, but for the second premise - being dressed funny
- you can count on FAMS. Due to the boneheaded policies of those in
charge, Federal Air Marshals are required to wear sport coats and collared
shirts. Yes, that's right: they must look like Federal Air Marshals
at all times because they are a reflection of FAMS and dressing in a
slovenly disguise would somehow bring disgrace to the organization.
Comments about being a lovely corpse would be appropriate here. Then
there's what they do after they're up and dressed. Remember, they're
carrying guns, right? So obviously they can't go through security. However,
there's a second obvious thing they can do - they can fight the current
and walk through the exit lanes for deplaning passengers. How's that
Let's see, what other behaviors might they carry out to make themselves
more obvious? Pre-boarding is one trick they have down well. So is always
riding in first class. And there you have the FAMS spotter information:
check out the guys in first class in the sports coats who got on the
plane before you. But don't worry. Any terrorists on board sussed to
their tricks a long time ago. They know exactly who they have to take
out first, provided that any "taking out" is even necessary. If you're
going to detonate in the restroom, what do you care where the Federal
Marshals are? They're coming with you anyway.
Annie Jacobsen makes a good case for the fact that her flight, 327
on Northwest Airlines, was a "probe," a dry run practice. And she backs
up her contention with:
* eyewitnesses who were on the plane with her,
*a four hour FBI interrogation in which they admitted her intuition
* contact from other passengers on other planes who decry the lack of
security and the lack of follow-up in their cases, and
* communications from frustrated and fearful pilots, flight attendants,
and others in the business who know the skies are anything but safe,
that they are being probed all the time, and that it is only a matter
of time before planes fall from the sky.
Near the end of the book Ms. Jacobsen recounts a conversation with
an air marshal. She asked him to explain what he meant when he said
"it was all for show." Here' what he told her: "You know how youd go
to the airport, before 9/11, and an agent there, somebody who worked
for the airlines would say to you, 'Did you pack your own bags?' Well,
it was all for show. Those agents weren't trained in detecting whether
or not someone was lying. The procedure was there to make the flying
public feel good. That's what happened with 327. They all came running
like in the movies, but it was all for show. Who interviewed the men?
FAMS. We're not trained in interviewing terror suspects. We don't know
what to look for.
And the FBI at the airport? I won't go there. Who really should have
been there? ICE. Period. ICE. But they weren't. Why? Because management
says probes aren't happening on airplanes. The guys were there to make
the passengers feet good, nothing more, nothing less.
Two years ago, I had a probing incident. It may have been one of the
first. After it happened, no one knew what to do, there was no protocol.
The guys involved in the incident sailed off into the crowd. What was
I going to do? Run up, tap the guy on the shoulder and say, 'I almost
shot you, now I'd like to interview you?' Instead, I filed a report
about my probing incident. Basically I was told 'it didn't happen.'
Well, it did happen. Probes have been happening ever since. I doubt
anybody ever even remotely considered you'd attract the kind of press
you did. But you did. That's a good thing." Now you know.
Annie Jacobsen's intuitions about Flight 327 were correct. But you
know even more: the official response to 9/11 is all for show - boondoggle
and brouhaha and folderol and CYA.
Perhaps we should fly the friendly skies of El Al. They know security;
they take it in with their mothers' milk.
After Annie's talk, an old woman asks what can be done about Arabs' emotional
volatility. She fears that if they are scrutinized at airports, they could
become lethally enraged.
I say that the solution lies in a hug. Have you hugged a Muslim today
and told him how glad you are that he lives in your country and that you
want him to bring over all his relatives?