Monthly Archives: July 2004

The Debate Over Northwest Airlines Flight 327

 The Debate Over Northwest Airlines Flight 327

Terror in the Skies, Again? (Parts 1 & 2) by Annie Jacobsen has sparked an interesting debate in the blogosphere. As could be expected people are largely split into two camps:

The first camp, led by Michelle Malkin, believes that the incident highlights flaws in airport/airline security, problems with our air marshall system (starting with the dress code), the need for individuals to be aware of the potential threats around them, and the importance of tossing political correctness out the window where security issues are concerned.

Some in this camp might have gone a little overboard and immediately declared that this incident was in fact a dry run by terrorists. One Houston radio personality even went so far as to say that the now infamous McDonalds bag was suspicious because he doubted that McDonalds could be a component of a Middle Eastern diet.

Camp 1 Reading via Michelle Malkin:
Terror in the Skies, Again?
Terror in the Skies (Continued)
Terror in the Skies III
Terror in the Skies – Skeptics Edition
The Saga Continues
I Believe the Jacobsens
Strike up the Band
Lost and Found?
A Band of 14 Illegal Syrians?!
Who’s Freaking Out?

Michelle has obviously been on top of this story and her site is a great place to get all the details regardless of your opinion. Now onto camp 2.

The second camp, led by Donald Sensing, smelled something fishy about this story from the start. Some thought it was an outright hoax. Others thought it read too much like paranoia-infused fiction to be taken at face value. They pointed to Annie’s fixation on a Syrian musician with a McDonalds bag and raised questions about her judgment. As more details emerged some in camp 2 started pointing fingers at Annie and suggesting that her overreaction might have been the real security threat on the flight.

Camp 2 Reading:
Red State: Seems Like a Hoax to Me
Donald Sensing: Casing Northwest #327 – threat or hoax?
Donald Sensing: Gaps that need filling
Donald Sensing: Terror in the Skies – Jacobsen writes more
Donald Sensing: I must be masochistic . . .
Donald Sensing: Flight 327’s Syrian band identified
Donald Sensing: Air marshals “not worried” aboard Flight 327
The Politburo Diktat: Jumping at Shadows
Winds of Change: “We Don’t Freak Out In Situations Like This.” Chill Pill, Anne?

The best thing about this incident, and the drama surrounding it, is that the more moderate members of both camps are correct. It does raise important questions about airline security. It does highlight problems with the air marshall system. It forces us, and security personnel, to think about how in-flight security issues should be addressed. However, it also raises uglier issues related to racial profiling and the newfound need for people to walk a fine line between vigilance and paranoia. This story is going to fade away but the issues raised are going to be dogging us for quite some time.

Update: Snopes Weighs in on Annie Jacobsen’s “Terror in the Skies, Again?”