Horror story in the skies

There’s a story ripping through the blogosphere today (fueled by the noxious Michelle Malkin) about a woman’s awful plight whilst on a NWA flight. Insty and Lileks and all the usual suspects are abuzz over what appears to be a very slender and somewhat silly story that underscores yet again our hysteria over “terrorism,” real or perceived. Yes, we need to be concerned and vigilant and cautious. But hysteria is stupid — and dangerous.

Anyway, World O’Crap does a marvelous job fisking the crap out of this non-story. Here’s her conclusion.

So, to summarize: a woman and her hubby are scared because they see a group of Arabic men exchanging glances, and making frequent trips to the rest room. There are air marshals on board. The plane lands safely. The men are questioned, everything checks out, and the men are released — they were merely musicians. BUT there was a report in the press saying that terrorists can assemble bombs in restrooms during a flight, and NOBODY DID ANYTHING ABOUT KEEPING THOSE ARABS FROM USING THE TOILET! She talks to federal officials, who tell her confidential stuff about their policies and procedures for handling terrorists, and give her information about the Arabs’ upcoming flight plans. Thus, we should all be really, really scared, and violate the civil liberties of swarthy men, or just go ahead and start the internment camps. Just in case.

Be sure to read the entire post before you get sucked into the hype and the BS of the original non-story. Very, very funny and sharp as a stiletto.

Oh, and don’t miss all the hysterical, racist comments to Michelle’s post.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

I read that original story as linked by Instapundit. My BS alarm was going off. That story definitely felt like a piece of fiction.

July 16, 2004 @ 7:15 pm | Comment

I hope you read the World O’Crap rebuttal. Magnificent work.

July 16, 2004 @ 7:33 pm | Comment

I haven’t read the rebuttal yet, but I did read the post from Michelle Malkin, and a good deal of the comments under the post. Most of them are the types of words that sometimes cause me to be ashamed of being an American and thus being associated with such perspectives.

I posted there as well, we’ll see how the flame war goes on there…

July 16, 2004 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

Well the World o’ Crap rebuttal lives up to it’s name, as it of course does NOT fisk the most shocking bits of the original story. Like their bizarre hand motions indicating that something was being called off.

Funny that. A true fisking deconstucts the whole piece, not just the bits that support your point of view.

Those guys were acting very weird, and I’d be concerned with such behaviours regardless of their skin color or language.

And they were Syrian, ya know, the country where the Baath Party started and still rules, and their only regret the last 30+ years seems to be that Sadaam out-Stalined them before being deposed.

And the ‘fisking’ of course left out the bit at the end about TSA screeners not being allowed, BY POLICY, to have more than 2 middle eastern men in questioning at an airport at a time, else we seem insensitive and racist. The last line of the original piece is a good one:

So the question is… Do I think these men were musicians? I’ll let you decide. But I wonder, if 19 terrorists can learn to fly airplanes into buildings, couldn’t 14 terrorists learn to play instruments?

July 16, 2004 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

Forrest, I’m with you.

David, the TSA policy about screening only 2 Middle Eastern men is obscene. That’s a separate issue. But the hysteria that this story seems to have whipped up because the guys were Syrian and were making funny hand motions — I thought it was over the top. And they were searched and questioned after the flight and were clean and no one was hurt and they didn’t have bomb-making materials. And the Jacobsen cites Ann Coulter as a source — a big count against her credibility. No, the whole thing really smelled. I thought World O’Crap did an amazing job, so we may have to agree to disagree on this one.

July 16, 2004 @ 10:36 pm | Comment


The correct response if you are on a flight you see an Arab attempting to use the bathroom is to bring him down with a rugby tackle and perform a citizen?s arrest. Keep him pinned down until the cops arrive.
“But I was just…”
“Save it for the ju…

July 16, 2004 @ 11:06 pm | Comment

Please, read the advice Den Beste has to offer for confronting terrorists on a plane in a suitably Three Stooges’ like manner:

“Unless you have a pocket knife, your weapon of choice is a pen. … If you have no weapon at all, extend your forefinger and aim for the eyes.”

That guy takes himself *way* too seriously ๐Ÿ™‚ Either that, or he has taken self-satire to a whole new level…


July 17, 2004 @ 1:45 am | Comment

I just went on that woman’s website:

Images of fairies and elves dancing wildly around a fire in a dark forest often woke me in the middle of the night as a child and I felt a powerful necessity to jump out of bed and write, to make these visions into poems.

She’s a headbanger, M’lud. Case closed.

July 17, 2004 @ 2:28 am | Comment

David: The World o’Crap article did NOT ignore the bit about the TSA’s policy. It points out that there’s no real evidence that such a policy still exists:

Anyway, while Lehman later said that former airline officials told him that there used to be such a policy, I haven’t seen anybody (not even Lehman) state that this is still FAA policy (and I can’t find anybody but Lehman who said there ever was ever was policy — not that I’m saying that he’s a liar, but there doesn’t seem to be anything definitive about this “policy” out there).

If you have credible information about the existence of such a policy (Ann Coulter doesn’t count), please share it.

July 17, 2004 @ 2:48 am | Comment

I believe thats a different Annie Jacobsin.

July 17, 2004 @ 2:51 am | Comment

I stand corrected.

To a scientist, of course, one Annie Jacobsin is much like another. They come in twos to create the illusion of plenty, but at the level of DNA they are well-nigh identical. If you examine, for example, their kidneys your will find that the points of difference are infinitesimal weighed in the balance with the similarities.

July 17, 2004 @ 3:44 am | Comment

Vaara, thank a lot for your very important comment, and I’m sorry I didn’t pick up on it myself — I kept wondering, how on earth could we have such an inanely politically correct rule (about searching only 2 Middle Easterners per flight). For now, I am going to say that I don’t believe we do until it’s documented (and not just by writers for WorldNetDaily).

Yes Harry, it is a different A. Jacobsen, but this only raises more questions! The intro to the article says she is a writer for their site — but no matter how much you Google, you won’t find anything she has ever written! And no one makes any reference to her! Ever. So the BS meter kicks even further into the red zone.

July 17, 2004 @ 10:30 am | Comment

i have received nothing but the most amazing treatment on Cathay Pacific, and after the flight, if you know what I mean.

Terrorism has always been the farthest from my mind.

July 18, 2004 @ 7:38 pm | Comment

HK, please elaborate on the relevance of your comment to the ongoing thread?

And yes, I too love flying CX. Once i got bumped to first class on a flight from HK to Australia — they had to drag me off the plane. I never once thought about terrorism.

July 18, 2004 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

Mr. Duck, the only relevance–isn’t it obvious–is to the correlation between travelling in comfort and travelling in terror laden skies.

It is far better to be on an Asian airline of class than it is to meddle with the small minded paranoid freaks of American economy class. I shudder at the thought.

Just kidding, of course.

Here’s something relevant. There’s nothing in the way of security at any airport I’ve been to, and I am accustomed to the lifestyle of just not worrying about anything. I do just fine.

July 19, 2004 @ 6:03 am | Comment

Okay, I just finished reading Ms. Jacobsen’s part deux.

Another interesting item, and here are my thoughts on the whole story.

First, Malkin – as cute as she is – is funny. She characterizes herself as a journalist. Sweetie, you’re a columnist. Don’t delude yourself.

The WOC fisking wasn’t fisked enough for me, but I see where he was going.

The original post, from Ms. Jacobsen, has to be read with a very suspicious mind. My thoughts on it are: sweetie, you were flying out of Detroit. What’d you expect, a plane full of German blondes? It’s DETROIT.

Second, she’s probably not used to seeing that many A-rabs at once, and freaked. Her and her white bread husband lost their cool, and overblew a situation.

But, let’s be realistic – there will be another attack in the US. Plus, Metro Detroit security is a joke.

July 19, 2004 @ 4:55 pm | Comment

Why are you convinced there’ll be another attack in the US? Could be, but what makes you so sure?

July 19, 2004 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

Honey, that Islamic man is staring at me and going to the toilet suspiciously

The Peking Duck has a link to an interesting take by World O’Crap, on a story about a hysterical lady who had a personal encounter with possible skyborne terror. I mean “hysterical” in describing the woman’s state of mind, of

July 20, 2004 @ 1:45 am | Comment

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