Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Air Marshall Shooting: What Else Could Have Happened?

This is tragic:
American Flight 924, scheduled to leave Miami for Orlando, yesterday afternoon when Alpizar, a Florida resident traveling with his wife, said he had a bomb in his carry-on bag, federal officials said. Alpizar had arrived in Miami from Quito, Ecuador, earlier that day and had stopped in Miami to board the second leg of his trip to Orlando, federal officials said.

Several witnesses said they saw Alpizar run from his seat near the back of the plane to the front toward the cockpit, where air marshals confronted him. [A Passenger], who said she was aboard the flight, said she saw the man identified as Alpizar run up the aisle, and he appeared to be panicked, she told WTVJ-TV in Miami. As he ran, his wife screamed "My husband! My husband!" and said that her husband was bipolar and had not taken medicine, Gardner told the television station.

Officials with the marshal program said two agents, whom they did not identify, confronted Alpizar in the jetway as he left the plane. Officials did not disclose how many shots were fired or where Alpizar was hit. They said the marshals were being interviewed.

Some reports have stated that Alpizar reached for the bag which he had claimed contained a bomb. At this point, what else can an air marshall do? I think so much of the whole terror alert stuff is largely cosmetic. The one aspect that actually makes me feel safer is the presence of air marhsall's on planes. However, some of the chest-thumping reaction strikes me as unseemly:
"This shows that the program has worked beyond our expectations," said Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House transportation subcommittee on aviation. "This should send a message to a terrorist or anyone else who is considering disrupting an aircraft with a threat."

The man was bipolar and off his meds. He had no bomb. At this point, there is no connection to a larger plot or any threat to national security. His death (and that of Jean Charles de Menezes in London in July) should not be celebrated as any sort of triumph over terrorism. They are casualties as surely as if they had been caught in an suicide bomber's explosion.

Update 12/8: Victoria liveblogged the whole thing over at Sundries. Some info I didn't have, and also an interesting look at how breaking news actually breaks. (link via:Kierkegaard)


Kierkegaard Lives said...

Great post. I'm linking specifically to this post this morning. This is one of those sad stories where, on the one hand it seems as if everything was done exactly right and it's a "success" in that regard; but on the other hand, it turns out that this guy was likely not a terrorist but merely a tragic player in the events and it's not so much a "success" in that regard. Based on everything I've seen so far, I tend to agree that nothing else could have been done, though.

vbspurs said...

Thanks so much for the linkage, Pooh!

I had seen your website listed on my Site Metre hits, but didn't realise it was you.

I will certainly return to peruse your blog more carefully.

And I see my old "friend" Kierkegaard here too! Heya. ;)