Thursday, January 7, 2010

F-15s Escort Airliner Back to Portland

Yesterday I heard the distinctive sound of military jets, thought that they were flying lower than usual, and dismissed it.

F-15 Two F-15 fighter jets escorted a passenger jet that had been headed for Hawaii back to Portland International Airport in Oregon after a passenger in coach became "uncooperative," an airline official said Wednesday.

Hawaiian Airlines Flight 39 took off from Portland at 10:10 a.m. with 231 passengers and a crew of 10 when -- 90 minutes into the flight -- its captain decided to turn around the Boeing 767, said Keoni Wagner, the airline's vice president of public affairs.

The fighter jets intercepted the plane at 1 p.m., North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a written statement.

It landed at 1:16 p.m. without further incident, the TSA said.

Upon the plane's return, the passenger -- a 56-year-old Salem, Oregon, man -- was escorted from the plane with his female companion without incident, the FBI and the Port of Portland said in a joint statement.

The FBI said it was not releasing his name because he had not been charged.

FBI agents and Port officers interviewed the passenger and his companion, the flight crew and others, then released the two and referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney's Office for review.

Local and federal officers searched the plane, then allowed it to depart again for Hawaii, absent the pair.

Oregon Air National Guard spokesman Sgt. John Hughel said command post officials told him they did not know who had placed the call for the escort.

In a statement, the Transportation Security Administration said the captain decided to return the plane to Portland "due to a suspicious passenger who made threatening remarks and refused to store his carry-on bag."

Port of Portland Public Information Officer Martha Richmond told CNN that the plane was turned around "due to concerns the crew had."…

Inserted from <CNN>

If nothing else, this incident demonstrates that the Obama administration is taking the threat of terrorism seriously.  Let’s compare it to how Bush and the GOP handled a more serious threat.  Since the early 1970s, it has been the standard operating procedure of the military to provide an armed fighter escort to all hijacked airliners over or near US territory, to shoot them down if they appeared to be about to crash into a city.  Although Bush had personally received a specific warning that AQ intended to attack the US using airplanes, less than a month before, and although there were four hijacked airplanes over US territory, no fighters were scrambled to intercept them until after the second tower had been struck.  The fighters had been ordered to stand down.  Who issued that order, and why, remains classified.

Considering the above, who do you think is better prepared to defend the US against such threats: Obama or the GOP?


Lisa G. said...

Well, since it took GWB like 10 minutes to process the fact that we were under attack, I'd say someone in Obama's admin was paying attention.

In the days after 911, I remember it being so weird not to hear any planes (if you live even remotely near Chicago, you're in O'Hare's flight path) but the naval jets being scrambled at all hours (I live near Great Lakes Naval Base) and flying low. It was really creepy to say the least.

I'd rather waste a few thousand lbs of jet fuel than have another 911. Those poor passengers must have been scared to death seeing those jets out of the windows. I hope that jerk spends some quality time in jail for his little stunt.

TomCat said...

That's true Lisa. Bush had an excuse. He was involved in what, for him, was an insurmountable task: understanding My Pet Goat.

Lisa G. said...

I think he was reading it upside-down. And understanding My Pet Goat is clearly more than he could handle. Watching Fahrenheit 9/11 was really telling watching him sit there for almost 10 minutes before his staff got his ass out of there. He clearly had no f'ing clue what he was supposed to be doing. I credit his lack of education or any semblance of reality that occurs inside your head, aka a brain.

TomCat said...

Lisa, that picture was altered, but in spite of his Ive League education, he makes Kelly Bundy look intellectual by comparison.