Regarding Annie Jacobsen’s intriguing article, I just got word from Dave Adams of the Federal Air Marshals Service (FAM). Adams confirmed that he spoke to Annie Jacobsen, was quoted accurately in her story, and confirmed some of the basic facts outlined in her article (there were 14 Syrians on the flight; they were questioned by the Los Angeles Police Department, FBI, FAM, and so on; they were a musical band).
Update: I agree with many readers that some skepticism is still warranted, especially if this is the same Annie Jacobsen that wrote the piece. (Update to the update: James Taranto notes that the Jungian Annie lives in Toronto, not Los Angeles). Another quick thought: Building a bomb in mid-air using 14 operatives to take down one plane seems like a rather inefficient means of terrorism. If al Qaeda has been driven to such pathetic plots, maybe (no thanks to Norm Mineta) we really are getting somewhere.
Update II: By the way, my friend and Philly talk show host Michael Smerconish was the first to pick up on the idiotic policy that Jacobsen mentions which punished airlines for pulling over more than two Arab/Muslim passengers for secondary questioning. More info here, including Smerconish’s testimony about what 9/11 commissioner and former Navy Secretary John Lehman told him.
Update III: Good discussion at Ace of Spades and via Volokh, Jeff the Baptist thinks the Syrians were just praying. Hmmmm. Thomas Galvin had his own experience observing a passenger with “an oblong object wrapped in cloth.” Via Daniel Drezner, here’s the February 2004 London Observer article on intelligence related to mid-air bomb plots. David Horowitz had an eyebrow-raising flight experience last month.
Update IV: The always incisive Michele Catalano writes:
If this story is real and these men were what Annie thought they were, it’s a frightening story, indeed. Enough to make me start doing that nervous twitch everytime a plane flies a bit too low over my house. I thought I got rid of that twitch.
The more I write about it (as I’m reading other bloggers’ reactions to the story while I compose this), the more I think, why not? They keep saying they’re going to do something, why would I think this story is not true?
Again, I don’t want it to be true. The implications are not something I can let my brain chew on right now. Head, meet sand.
But what if? What if they were making a dry run? You can’t really protect the country by dealing in what ifs. So what’s the solution? Or is there one? And what do you make of this story?
Update V: Just a side note. The air marshals’ spokesman, Dave Adams, was a bit defensive in confirming the story, which seems to lend unsettling credence to Jacobsen’s account, in my opinion. Also, I’ve been trying to get a hold of the p.r. reps for WomensWallStreet.com. A receptionist said they’ve been swamped with calls since this morning. Am hoping this means my colleagues in the mainstream media are digging into the story, too.
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