Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Case Against the Flying American Public

So today USAToday editorialized on the Case of the Flying Imams who were tossed from US Airways Flight 300 after a few passengers and flight attendants decided to play FBI Profilers. The paper takes the position that the lawsuit was expected though not a case of actual discrimination, but highlights that it lists as defendants the actual airline employees and passengers who reported them for "suspicious behavior." The imams in question cooperated fully and identified themselves to authorities, left the plane peacefully, submitted to being lined up on the runway and being sniffed by a police dog, being detained in cells and interrogated by the FBI. And then they were completely cleared by the actual airport security apparatus. The authorities determined there was no cause for alarm. They returned to the airline the next day so they could fly home and the airline refused to rebook them on another flight. Since screaming or calling the ticket agent out to the parking lot for a duel with rapiers is no longer acceptable in civilized society, they sued. An opportunity for the airline to gracefully and responsibly make amends came and went, and now redress will be pursued in the courts of law.

And the courts of public opinion of course. The Police Reports are available via Pajamas Media. Also relayed is a letter from "Pauline," a woman who claims to have been aboard the flight and witness some of the events, and a subsequent interview of her by Pajamas Media. Although repeated claims are voiced that either the imams intended to hijack the plane (using seat extenders of all things) or they were doing a publicity stunt in order to weaken airport security, a repeated lack of confidence in our homeland security apparatus is expressed. Even though the airline and the FBI are held up as under attack from the imams, "Pauline" sleeps elsewhere even though that same homeland security apparatus cleared the imams of being a real threat. Pajamas Media also reported aspects of the police reports different that as actually published, changing the opinions of some of the airline employees from describing the PAX Pauline claims to have seen ask for a seat extender to as "was heavier" than the PAX in first class who also requested one, to "too thin." Pauline's letter also contains claims which stand counter to the witness statements within the police reports presented by Pajamas Media.

Also highlighted are several claims of what should suffice for "suspicious behavior" under which the American flying public should scrutinize their fellow passengers: making a long phone call, asking for a seat extender, arriving as a group but sitting apart, arriving as a group but trying to sit together, speaking a foreign language, praying in another language, not having a pleasing gaze, being unfriendly and not talking to people, being friendly and talking to people, cooperating with the FBI, leaving your seat during a delay the pilot announced was due to incomplete paperwork. Who is not guilty of a single one of these offenses? Who could modify themselves to meet all of these requirements so they are as Pauline would insist we all be "sensitive" to the delicate nerves of their fellow passengers?

The interesting alterations and highlights present themselves as a horrible indictment of the general intelligence and susceptibility to hysteria of con-blogs, Americans, and the flying public. The alteration of the flight attendants words repeated themselves onwards, along with a curious use of the level of baggage carried or checked by the imams. Con-blogs repeat with zest that the police reports indicate that 5 of the imams carried their luggage aboard as a vast amount of people concerned that the airline will loose their luggage do, and that "only one" imam checked his bag. This is presented as something which qualifies as "suspicious behavior" when 4 of the 5 9-11 hijackers checked bags on American Airlines Flight 11 and all 5 9-11 hijackers had checked bags on American Airlines Flight 77. All of these bags were selected and screened under CAPPS 1.

Pajamas Media's report lists the author Richard Miniter as their Washington Editor, but fails to note that it was published 2 days previous as an op-ed in the NewYorkPost, which lists Miniter as a best-selling author and fellow at the Hudson Institute. Although the op-ed got polished in it's second "printing" there's no mistake it's an unaccredited reprint. Richard Miniter worked himself into a tiff that the MSM found nothing more titillating in the story, so he fished up a retired D.C. police detective to look over the police reports and comment. This "retired detective" notes that there are discrepancies between witness accounts and the actual accounts of the police officers that a trial attorney would "have a field day with." However, the retired detective was incorrect in stating that Officer Huddlemeyer was wrong that passengers were rebooked for later flights; CNN interviewed two passengers in the terminal who chose to do so. Officer Windgate was correct in his turn that the plane did take off for Pheonix after the bomb-sniffing dog checked the plane and the passengers were rescreened, as some but not all passengers chose that option. Both were correct. One issue raised was that the witness statements weren't typed and signed. I've been assaulted twice in that detective's city by strangers in public and the responding police has never typed my statement for me to sign. Please. Completely lost on the detective was that the police statements aren't highly detailed after taking the imams into custody because the interrogations were conducted by the FBI with the police only observing. The detective rattles off a laundry list of questions he (or Miniter) feels the cops should have asked about their supposed suspicious behavior, which sports teams and company teams going do presentations in other cities do every single day.

Of course, PJ stands as civilized misinformation when compared to the readers of Free Republic who openly advocate murder as the acceptable response to discovering their is a Muslim passenger on one's flight. They also denounce the imams as trying to destroy homeland security and in the next breath denounce the inconvenience of homeland security. No pleasing some people. Miniter's op-ed makes good fuel for other who advance the idea they might have been attempting a hijacking. However, the vast misinformation of some people remains the real concern; just a convergence of mistakes or deliberate? Misinformation: all six requested seat belt extensions. Only two requested them. Conservative fascination with what amounts to less of a threat that the average skull-and-crossbones style male belt begs to a motivation based on something other than a fear of the actual belts.

In a claim by US Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader to the Associated Press that "police were called after the captain and airport security workers asked the men to leave the plane and the men refused," the Imam's lawsuit gains validity in it's claim to discriminatory treatment by the airline, as that event never occurred. The police state in their report that "all parties left the plane cooperatively." CNN provides a link to a video clip where a female passenger relates that she never heard or saw them refuse to leave the plane, and the only thing suspicious she saw was one of them wearing sunglasses the whole time- not realizing of course that he was blind. So all blind people are terrorists, eh? Or people who wear sunglasses inside? That would include a lot of young men attempting to be beach cool. Yeah. Onward. Imam Mohamed Ibrahim "questioned" by a witness who set out to prove that Imam was a terrorist because he had a Muslim name on his boarding pass made it a point to speak in public that he felt compassion for the man who had accused him, and that his attempt to explain he sought to live his religion as a whole life were misconstrued as advocating violence. None of that's making the rounds, of course.

In the above photo: blind Imam, 2nd from left. Scary looking??

Miniter's post gets echoed: incorrectly claiming that the imans boarded together, worried that two seat extenders meant they were going to hijack the plane, and a passenger who happened to know "Arabic" translated the words of the economy class passengers as mentioning "bin Laden" and condemning America for "killing Saddam." Those two phrases in Miniter's op-ed were incorrectly attributed to a passenger who whispered them to a flight attendant. But if you look at the police reports, the note writer MDM is the same witness who in the first statement in PJ's pdf file states that she overheard that being said by the imams in the boarding area, before they got on the flight. MDM does not whisper them to a flight attendant but tells them to the first police to respond to the scene, who state that they boarded the plane to speak to the note writer but not the imams. Miniter's misinformation (or perhaps he would like it to be called "disinformation?") is oft repeated. There's a concerted effort being made to insist that the imams weren't removed because of the note of just one passenger. However, the police report states just that. U.S. Airways Robby Taylor Davis told the responding officers that they were "going to deny flight service due to their suspicious activity that another passenger witnessed prior to boarding the flight...A note written by the reporting party was brought to the Captain of the aircraft." The largest part of misinformation being bandied about by the con-blogs: the existence of a passenger who spoke Arabic who translated things the passengers said on the plane for the flight attendants. No passenger who spoke Arabic was present, and the remarks relayed were done by MDM and were purportedly heard (only by her and not by the gate attendant or the deadheading flight attendant who also saw the imams in the boarding area). Another spin to that particular piece is that MDM engaged the imams in conversation previous to boarding, which appears to be mismatching MDM with another passenger, who identified employment as "self clergy" to whom Imam Mohamed Ibrahim spoke. "Self clergy" would be the passenger who decided to strike up a conversation with Ibrahim to entice out of the Imam verbal evidence the Muslim was a terrorist.

Investor's Business Daily demonstrates why the Imams in fact do have a case, taking disinformation for their editorial on the incident from the statements of US Airways Spokeswoman Andrea Rader. They also repeat the (mistaken) claim that the men were forcibly removed from the flight, and pay undue attention to the request for seat belt extensions. The editorial gives the implication that to speak any Arabic language on an airplane stands as sufficient for the charge of "suspicious behavior" and then goes on to imply that all Imams are by virtue of their place in Islamic society, prone to repeat the crimes of a few the editorial lists. (As if all Catholic priests are prone to molesting young boys because a few have been convicted for doing so.) The airport itself ensnares itself through the words of Patrick Hogan, who chooses to accuse the Imams of disruptive and antagonistic behavior based on the witness statement of the boarding area agent, even though it stands countered by the witness statement of the deadheading flight attendant who did not find their behavior "unusual" and does not remark that they were ever shouting or loud. Blatant discrimination isn't usually hard to identify when you hear or see it.

These accusations and further misinformation were then repeated in further coverage by con-blogs. As further evidence, although the same con-blogger insists that at the same time it didn't matter how they ended up sitting where they were, they were guilty of causing alarm by where they sat. However, one passenger was bumped to first class because he was in a preferred passenger program with US Airways. They requested to the boarding agent if they could sit together, but the flight was too crowded to honor their request. The seats are assigned at the time the tickets are purchased, and the only Imam who changed seats politely asked a passenger between him and the blind Imam if they could trade so he could assist his friend. Hardly sinister when the truth is out there, so that's likely why it's squashed in the "reporting" around the web. Only one Imam left his seat during the delay, to look in on the blind Imam and the other Imams in the rear of the aircraft. Only two Imams asked for seat extensions, one of which was secured by the flight attendant who brought it to him. The seat extensions were not as claimed "placed on the floor for all to see, brandished as potential weapons or restraints." The only seat extension found on the floor was that of one of the first class passengers (290 lbs) and it was found after the individual had unbuckled and left the airplane at the request of the police. Well of course, you would have to unbuckle yourself to get out of the airplane... but realizing that takes brains. The accusation that they refused to depart the plane- also repeated again, despite the fact that the police refute that in their own reports.

US Airways admits denying tickets to the Imams the following day was a mistake. The Imams' case against them remains fairly solid based on what the airline chose to do following the actual removal of the Imams from the aircraft. US Airways will be hard pressed to justify a defense that explains they developed the behaviors that lead them to defame the Imams in the national press with inaccurate statements of the event. The authorities were summoned to remove the Imams based on the single note of MDM. Neither the boarding agent or the deadheading flight attendant thought they beheld suspicious activity warranting that they should notify the authorities until after the police had arrived, thus excluding them from contributing to the cause of the authorities being summoned. The witness statement of the other passenger was not brought to the authorities until after the Imams had been removed. In this case, the uninformed paranoia of one passenger did result in this unfortunate and costly incident, and that the airline needs to conduct internal reviews. US Airways faces defending it's precedent in denying tickets to passengers falsely identified as passengers and then cleared by the FBI. No hope for the airline.

After all of this, moonbat will finally get to the point. If you make an accusation, it's the American thing to stand by your words. I don't mean anyone who looked at the Imams funny. I mean those two passengers who chose to give witness statements. Either you have given your honest word and have nothing to fear, or you broke one of the Ten Commandments, the one where you don't give false testimony against thy neighbor. I'm curious at all the hoopla that if those who give witness statements and are honest, won't give them if they have to be named in public and could be called to account if they have defamed someone. Slander and libel are crimes in this country, and nothing should be a shield for illegality. Something in shielding witnesses from accountability breeds cowardice, encourages stabs in the back and whispers in the darkness, when justice should be about the searing light of day. After much consideration, yes, the judge should allow the Imams to name in their suit all those who choose to issue witness statements to answer for the charge of defamation. Here's why.

Moonbat is fed up with the flying American public. The ones who think they can spot terrorists and also think their cell phones aren't metal once they turn them off. And she doesn't mean the laughable, she means the petty and ignorant like... so a flustered male passenger pipes up about a crazy looking Muslim woman, speaking Arabic, darting between the lines, who needed to be "taken care of" as she was likely a terrorist. Someone had to do something. He was in front of me, she behind a few people, so I pulled out to the side to "find" my missing pass and get to take a look at her. Yes, a woman in a headscarf, with elegant and expensive jewelry, chasing three very wired children while trying to get her bags and stroller up into the machine, while a sea of men pretended they could not see her. Not Arabic, but black. And she was speaking.... french. Gracious and sweet, she took my hands and babbled something that sounded just lovely after I lifted her things up for her. I have no idea what she said, but her gratitude was clear enough. As for the idiot male: seek and ye shall find. Yeah mister, you can shut the frak up.

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