I have been out of the loop all afternoon working on other things, so this is breaking news for me:
A passenger who claimed to have a bomb in a carry-on bag was shot and killed by a federal air marshal Wednesday on a jetway to an American Airlines plane that had arrived from Colombia, officials said. Authorities did not immediately say whether any bomb was found.
Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Doyle said the dead man was a 44-year-old U.S. citizen. It was the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks that an air marshal had shot at anyone, he said.
According to a witness, the man frantically ran down the aisle of the Boeing 757 and his wife explained that he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication.
We shall see how this turns out. My initial instinct is to defend the air marshal (as a good young Republican fascist, that is the instinctive response- fealty to authority), but it would just be horrible if this was just a mentally ill man (although I still would instinctively defend the air marshal).
Hard to fault the air marshal given the facts presented (especially since the guy was apparently reaching into his bag when they shot him). Though, this is most certainly tragic.
yet another jeff
My first instinct is that we have our first case of “suicide by air marshall”.
Guy says he has a bomb, reaches into his bag, I can’t say as I blame them for shooting him. Should they take the chance that he really has a bomb in there? I still agree with John that it would be a tragedy if the guy was just sick of course.
Bill O’Reilly rides commercial planes?
Lines, I’m thinking that he knew the plane was full of anti-Christmas insurgents.
All he needed was a hug. This is an outrage! Impeach George Bush!
yet another jeff
Maybe it was just a DVD of Gigli?
If it happened like the story says, I don’t think many people but the straw men will take major issue with the marshall’s actions. Sad, though.
So when it turns out, as it has, that no one has any evidence of a reason to have thought he had a bomb, or even that he said he had a bomb, can we blame the air marshall now?
If he didn’t say he had a bomb, can you link to a story?
Will update as info comes in, Steve.
Good to see that (what is probably) the tragic death of a mentally ill person is enough to entertain some people and get ’em chuckling.
Jesus. Hang around the internets, and you definitely WILL see everything.
What a bunch of fucking sick wankers.
If the guy was babbling about a bomb, ignored warnings, and then reached into his bag, the air marshals did the right thing.
Whether the dude was crazy doesn’t really matter. In fact, even if they knew he was insane, that doesn’t matter. Crazy people do crazy things. That might be an excuse after the fact, but it doesn’t give them license to go through with it.
No need. We already have enough real reasons to impeach him.
That ought to cut down on bomb jokes in security lines for awhile.
Seriously, let’s hope for the air marshal that this was a “clean shoot.” I feel bad for the family of the victim, since it seems like he was mentally ill (and off his meds), yet probably not actually a threat. The cable networks are going to go crazy with this… We’ll know more when they say whether there was a bomb or not.
I suppose it indicates a certain level of security “success”, but it’s hard to find much of a good side to this right now.
A bit different take…
Apparently he was mentally ill, and the woman’s pleas were not heard.
Unlike most Republicans, I don’t regard our Law Enforcement Officials as Jack Booted Thugs. So I’m inclined to believe that the Marshall thought there was a real threat and the man’s wife was unfortunately not heard in time.
I would like to know more about what happened with the wife, however. Was she off the plane? Did someone stop her? What happened there?
This is a tragic accident.
You don’t know that until there is an investigation and all the facts are known.
Having been in the situation his wife was in, and desperately explaining to police officers that someone is off their medication, I can assure you, all the facts are not known at this time. I can also assure you that if you haven’t been in that situation, you absolutely know nothing about it.
I can also assure the others here that there is nothing funny about this story at all.
Bill O’Reilly recently pledged to “bring horror into the world of people” who “diminish and denigrate the [Christmas] holiday.” And let’s face it, there are a lot of Jews in Miami. Let’s just be thankful for the air marshall.
Like I said, there is nothing funny about this kind of story.
If I were you, John, I’d take down this thread. It’s an embarassment.
John, I know you’ll update. The thing is that Avedon didn’t just ask what would happen if it turned out the guy never said he had a bomb, he used the words “as it has,” suggesting that it had already been reported that he said no such thing. I was just asking him to back it up, if so.
That might be why Otto Man said if.
Obviously, it’s not funny — I hope whatever wisecracks here don’t make you think anyone thinks it is, ppgaz. But the last thing we should be doing right now is to have a serious conversation until we know the facts, one way or the other.
So, we should just hang a thread out there and let the hyenas have their laughs?
What the hell for? Are we that hard up for entertainment?
Ppgaz — really sorry for joking if inappropriate. As I said, the thread is up and I think it is better if people stay off of serious pronouncements about the morality of it until we know more about exactly what happened.
Apologies for any insensitivity. None was intended.
Well, I know your intentions are good, but I can’t say the same for some people who dwell in this neck of the woods.
The first post on this thread is pretty much the most accurate one. The whole situation is just tragic, really.
yet another jeff
Sorry, ppGaz…too much tragedy around too take it all seriously.
I also think that some will certainly try to spin this one way or the other. Okay, you know where I stand on this administration, so I’ll come out and say it: this administration will try to spin this in a way that is favorable to itself, probably by making the guy who was shot out to be Al Qaeda or some such, so one shouldn’t let the sadness of the situation get in the way of fighting back on the administration spin. Sorry to have to be so cynical, but you know that what I say is true.
Well, to each his own. I don’t know any other way to react to tragedy, other than to take it seriously.
Now, now. I find it far more likely that someone like Michelle Malkin will try to use this as an example of why we must lock up everyone who doesn’t agree with her. Isn’t she still waging a lonely war to try and link that bomber at the Oklahoma football game to al-Qaeda?
yet another jeff
Awfully reminiscent of that London subway shooting…and if the guy actually had a bomb, there is always that possibility of the dead man’s switch.
I can’t help that I still am more frightened on a daily basis of zealous law enforcement than terrorism.
Althouse sez…he shouldn’t have worn such baggy clothing.
I count 6 posts from ppGaz – sounds like ppGaz is dwelling in these woods just fine. Maybe we can stop reading the threads that bother us? Or do we shut down all the sick humor and violence running on cable TV right now, too? I guess it takes too much will power to use the remote or pull one’s ass away from the computer.
Like I said, I can’t say the same for everyone who dwells here.
Jesus H. Do you ever get off your high horse? Do you sleep up there?
Fuck you. The event is not funny and I’m not going to sit by here and watch people make jokes about it without speaking my mind.
If you don’t like that, tough shit.
asked and answered, i guess…
What is your problem?
Well, I was reading this thread and thought you were being sanctimonious and high-dudgeon-y. I said so, you told me to fuck off in a kind of sanctimonious manner, I made fun of it…I think our positions are staked out pretty clearly, no?
My position is that the shooting death of a mentally ill person is not funny.
What’s your position? Feel free to disagree with me. The floor is yours.
My position is that despite the whistling in the dark reactions earlier in this thread, everyone else in the fucking world obviously agrees with you that it’s sad when a mentally ill person gets shot, and that you could lighten up a touch.
I’ll stand on what I’ve said upthread, thanks anyway.
scratch the “else” in that last comment. Everyone agrees with you.
Ummm, PPGAZ- I was making fun of myself in the post (the fascist part should have been a clue), and not making fun of the situation. If it is a case of a mentally ill man being shot, this is a tragedy.
I have no beef with ya, John.
Well, if you say so. But I am not out to be agreed with. I just say what I think. I really don’t care who likes it and who doesn’t. On this or any other thread. Seriously. Nothing personal.
I will go out on a limb and say that, along with puppy-strangling and baby-fucking, almost everyone is against mentally ill people being shot.
And no, nothing personal.
This incident was conveyed to me by a horrified pax who was in first class when this occured. The wife was running behind him frantically yelling about his mental condition and was definitely heard by the AM’s and fwd attendent. He was even contained at the cabin entrance for a second. Do these guys have a stressful job, no doubt about it. However, having two of them running behind this guy, weapons drawn, locked and loaded, there was absolutly no fuckin reason to unload 10 rounds into this guy in order to drop him. One shot with the military grade shells they use would blow him away no questions asked. These guys travel tons of miles. Fatique coupled with “No Action” is definately a prime recipe for zealous overkill. Thats what I believe took place here. Uncle will once again wind up settling another wrongful death suit of court. These folks are highly trained to not overreact. Given that, coupled with being aware he has a mental condition, they easily could have seen what he was reaching for, if anything, prior to bringing him down. Gotta remember folks, there is not a snowball’s chance in hell CYA wasn’t the primary priority of the AM’s inside that airwalk tunnel after the 10 shots were fired. What will kick their asses and I hope rightfully so, is popping off 10 rounds to bring him down. I just don’t think that dog will hunt…….
You know, I doubt that you’re right. I kind of think that most people would have thought it was a good thing it John Hinkley had been shot before he shot Reagan.
In this case, it is the fact that the poor guy was delusional, and did not actually have a bomb that makes this tragic. If he’d been crazy, yet had a bomb anyway, it would have been sad, but necessary. On the other hand, I’m not going to fault the Marshalls, who did the right thing in the end, at least assuming that the facts are as currently reported.
Argh. I was making the point that defending the seriousness of a mentally-ill person being shot is not exactly going out on a laudable moral limb, not talking about this case and its specifics.
And I think Mark David Chapman might be a better example than John Hinckley.
Off-topic here, but I don’t actually think so. Hinckley was genuinely psychotic, poor bastard. This is shown best by the fact that he’s gotten better during his time at St. Elizabeth’s. (Pace, Maureen Reagan — I agree that he should never walk free.) Chapman was a very different kind of person — sociopathic, perhaps, but well aware of the consequences of his actions.
Like Blue Neponset noted above, that’s why I said “if.”
On the other hand, if the guy wasn’t babbling about a bomb and he was clearly not a threat, then the air marshals need to be investigated.
Our last two presidents didn’t seem to have a problem with executing mentally ill people.
But we don’t shoot them, do we? Except in Utah, I mean.
I was making a joke about who they shot. (Oops, hope ppGaz isn’t reading this) Disclaimer: I am opposed to people shooting presidents and famous rock musicians.
Nothing like a little white propaganda:
Remind us how a man getting killed is reason to cheer for Bush and the fantastic job his administration is doing.
What’s your position? Feel free to disagree with me. The floor is yours.”
My position is that those that don’t like to read and comment on particular threads but then complain about others that do come across as sanctimonious assholes.
Feel free to disagree with me. The floor is yours.
Jason Van Steenwyk
Well, I have no specific insight into the rules of engagement for the Air Marshals, and they would be classified if I did.
But I would not be surprised if the ROE didn’t allow for emptying the magazine as rapidly as possible into someone who claimed he was holding a bomb, and then reached into the bag.
You’ve been watching too much tv.
First of all, if they’re using military grade stuff, it’s going to have LESS knockdown power than a standard hollow-point. Hollow-points are illegal for military use.
I don’t know what kind of ammo they use. I hope it was hollow-point. Anything else would be pretty dumb for a couple of reasons. One of which is a hollow-point is less likely than a standard ball round to exit someone with enough force to penetrate a fuselage from the inside.
Second, even a hollow-point does not kill instantly. Almost nothing does, in practice.
A bomb isn’t like a gun which you can see fall to the deck if you double tap the guy. If a guy has enough consciousness to flick his thumb, he can set off a bomb with his last dying breath.
The imperative with a bomber is to shut off his lights as quickly as possible. Saving his life with medical care afterwards is just not part of the equation until his twitching corpse can be separated from any possible trigger mechanism: Which can be as simple as pressing two wires together between your thumb and forefinger.
I don’t think you have any standing, knowing what you know, to criticize the man on the spot.
Apparently, the prospect of this has not occurred to the inimitable Jason van Steenwyk.
Because quite frankly, I don’t think anyone has any standing, knowing what we know, to criticize or exonerate this incident.
I hadn’t read any cheering in this thread. Everyone is sad about the event. Now the only thing you can accuse the Bush administration of is hiring more Air Marshals. Or wasn’t he supposed to do that?
Where the hell did I indicate it was on this thread? I was referring to the closing paragraph of the story I linked to. As I said, a little white propaganda that was completely superfluous and unnecessary.
A snippet that I have seen coming up in many reports..
This would be the first time an air marshal discharged a weapon on or near a flight since the 9/11 attacks
Could someone please refresh my memory because I do not recall any Air Marshall discharging a weapon on 9/11?
What on earth are you talking about?
I guess read the news reports. There is some question as to a wife running behind screaming “He didn’t take his medication!”
Sadly, I expect we’ll hear Republicans claiming these Marshalls are nothing but Jack Booted Thugs. Just like they did following Ruby Ridge and Waco. :-(
I really don’t think that anyone would argue that the shooting of a poor sick man — essentially, a suicide by proxy — is anything other than a tragedy, for all concerned: the guy, his wife, the marshals.
That said, this was a real “ticking bomb” situation, and in a ticking bomb situation, you have to decide, right then, shoot (and probably kill) or not. If your job is to keep the innocent safe, then there’s no real choice: shoot. If you bring the guy down, and he lives, then God be praised — whether he’s got a bomb or not.
Unfortunately, he didn’t live, and he didn’t have a bomb. That’s awful — but, if the stories are as heard so far, the marshals seem to me to have done their jobs.
The problem is that the marshals could not take the chance that she was a decoy, or, possibly, even the triggerman. (There have been instances where suicide bombers appear to have been detonated by third parties.) If he said he had a bomb, they have to assume it’s true.
It is a tragedy for the family of the mentally ill man (if this is so). It is a tragedy for the air marshall who was required to do his job – and who can hardly be faulted.* Real people. Lifelong consequences.
(*After a little thought, yelling “He’s ill! He’s off his medication!” would be an effective way to get people to retreat or hesitate long enough to allow a subject to access who-knows-what.)
Back in the real world, shooting somebody on a plane is a crime and an outrage. You know, if somebody wants to blow up a plane with a bomb, he doesn’t go around screaming “I have a bomb!” He goes to the bathroom and blows it up, or at least tries to do it from his seat. I don’t believe society is obligated to forgive the mistake of this inept criminal of an air marshal.
By the way, we can now add the air marshal program to the ever-growing list of Bush administration anti-terrorism policies which have cost more lives than they have saved. Why doesn’t anybody take this shit seriously?
According to ABC Air Marshalls were on heightened alert over the last week, specifically for shoe bombers, as the result of an Egyptian man who attempted to board a plane at JFK tested positive for traces of high explosive on his shoes.
But I totally agree with you Neil. It’s all the fault of the Administration’s murderous policies, etc…
As someone whose father-in-law is mentally ill, it has not been lost on me that my life and those of my loved ones are safer staying away from the U.S. Of course, this would hardly be the first thing that’s made me realize that.
As Andrew Sullivan mentioned the other day, he is probably one of the first wave of immigrants to the U.S. who has fewer rights in the New World than he did in the old country. Terrible things are happening in the United States and practically nobody seems willing to recognize them for what they are.
Cuba is the only country left in Latin America with unreviewable military detention and torture. Meanwhile, the United States, land of the free, is unquestionably moving in the other direction. How do you think this looks? There are lots of countries where people have vivid memories of extrajudicial executions. How do you think this air marshal shit looks to them?
Thanks, Al Maviva. It’s time the people here heard the *good news* about a mentally ill person being shot.
Al Maviva, here are some plainly stated facts.
1) No plane bombing has ever been preceded by a man running down the aisle yelling “I have a bomb!”
2) No air marshal has ever prevented a plane from being bombed.
3) An air marshal shot an innocent man to death yesterday.
And yet in the light of these facts, you feel the need to defend the air marshal program and what it has done? Why?
I am deadly serious, by the way. The air marshal program is a failure of an idea. It has not succeeded at saving lives and now it is beginning to cost lives. This is absolutely unacceptable.
I’d like to hear about some basis of defending the air marshal program other than that it “feels” better to have a representative of the Man with a gun on a plane. It’s been four years that we have had air marshals going now, and they haven’t prevented a single crime. Now they have killed an innocent man. And the program is still good simply on the basis that it “feels right?” Maybe show some pictures of the WTC burning in case I’m not convinced yet?
By the way, my mentally ill father-in-law has caused trouble in the airport before, although nothing like this — he had a paranoid fit going through customs once and started shouting that everything his wife was telling the customs official was a lie, a filthy lie. Fortunately, it was not hard to convince the customs official that he was nuts. But who knows? Maybe next time they’ll arrest him and interrogate him for a few days, use a little waterboarding to get to the bottom of the investigation.
John Stewart said it best: “You can fly drunk. You can fly crazy. But don’t fly drunk AND crazy.” Well in this case the crazy guy wasn’t drunk, but he hadn’t taken his meds. You don’t fuck around in an airplane. The marshall did his job and should not be blamed.
There is a parallel incident, long forgotten, which occurred about a year before 9/11. A psychotic man, off his meds, was on a flight (Southwest Airlines is all I remember, perhaps Google will tell all). He became upset, then enraged and began pounding on the crew’s cabin door. Three men from among the passengers wrestled him to the ground. He was still fighting. They sat on him to restrain him. In the process, the man died from suffocation. The incident was publicized (otherwise I wouldn’t know about it, as I heard through regular news channels), but soon forgotten. Again, unfortunate (the word “tragic” gets overused for these things), but one of the better outcomes out of the universe of possibilities. Putting yourself in the public transportation world chemically impaired (by not having your meds, or by being looped on drugs or alcohol) kills at least 20,000 people a year. This latest incident sounds like one more.
Neil, did you father-in-law run down the isle of a plane yelling he had a bomb?
” It’s been four years that we have had air marshals going now, and they haven’t prevented a single crime.”
How can you possibly know that? How many bombings or hijacks have we had in those four years that were prevented by air marshals? None? 10? 20? 100? Does it only count if someone STARTS to bomb or hijack and then is stopped?
“You know, if somebody wants to blow up a plane with a bomb, he doesn’t go around screaming “I have a bomb!” He goes to the bathroom and blows it up, or at least tries to do it from his seat. I don’t believe society is obligated to forgive the mistake of this inept criminal of an air marshal.”
Is there some sort of manual you have to follow? How about DB Cooper? He told the flight attendent he had a bomb. Since he didnt go into the bathroom or blow it up from the seat, if there was a air marshal on board, they should just assume there wasnt a bomb since he didnt follow the correct procedure?
“As someone whose father-in-law is mentally ill, it has not been lost on me that my life and those of my loved ones are safer staying away from the U.S.”
Um, ok. Stay away then. If you want to live your life on what you “feel” rather than based on actual facts.
One of the reasons to have air marshals is to create an atmosphere of uncertainty in the minds of would-be hijackers. They’ll think “Does this plane have one?”. The 9/11 hijackers got away with it was the policy of passively going along with their demands. Air Marshals have the means for hard negotiation.
Air marshalls have, in all probability, prevented quite a number of air crimes. Remember the circumstances under which the program was started. There was a growing incidence of hijackings in the early 70s, including the one by the notorious “D B Cooper” with his parachute, and others who copied him. This trend was stopped instantly and absolutely on the day the air marshalls were deployed.
The Disenfranchised Voter
From what we know as of right now, I think the AM’s acted correctly. If the man said he had a bomb and then refused to comply he is responsible for his own death.
Let’s be honest here, bi-polar does not make you mentally challenged to the point that you know you think you can say you have a bomb on an airplane in order to get people out of the way.
Let’s see what the investigation brings up.
From what I hear of the story, I think the biggest mistake the passenger made was in not cooperating with the Air Marshals after he got off the plane. If someone points a gun at you and tells you to get down to the ground, and you don’t, then that’s a mistake.
You should have seen the coverage on this story, it was biased against the Air Marshalls from the beggining… (CNN) REALLLY REALLY FREAKIN WIERD. Not only that, but on Fox News today, another guy said something to the effect that the Air Marshalls hurt the country or something like that. I don’t know about you but what people are saying about this is really really starting to freak me out…
Jason Van Steenwyk
Too easy. We don’t know what might have happened, because in most airplane bombings, the bomb goes off and the plane goes down and you never know what happened in the aisle, genius! The witnesses don’t survive.
But we do know that a large number of hijackings DO start out with an announcement that “I have a bomb!” Indeed, at least one of the four 9/11 hijackings did involve just such an announcement.
Cf the Boston Globe:
The Disenfranchised Voter
Apparenlty you and the man who was killed share something in common.
You both forgot to take your meds.
Actually, someone in the grips of hypomania might well believe that. One of the facets of hypomania is often megalomania, the belief that the world revolves around you. Another one is delusions of invulnerability. People in the grip of those two things together…bi-polar disease is a nasty, nasty mental illness.
Jason Van Steenwyk
demimondian is correct here. If the guy was really in a screaming manic phase, he may well have had insufficient insight to grasp what he was saying or doing, and may well have had delusions of invincibility.
His wife should therefore not have tried to travel with him until he was stabilized on meds (bipolar is usually treatable).
Unfortunately, it is irrelevant in this case. Air Marshalls are Air Marshalls. Not doctors. And even a doctor could not have made a reliable diagnosis in a few seconds. Even if they suspected mental illness, no one could rule out a diversion.
It’s amazing to me to see people argue as if the use of force can be so carefully calibrated in a crisis, as if you are measuring out spoonfuls of sugar.
Law enforcement training has two purposes beyond education: Tone down the people who can’t control the use of force, and to disabuse stupid people of their idealistic misconceptions about it.
“Oh, couldn’t they have just shot at a limb? Couldn’t they have fired a warning shot?”
Warning shots are for the middle of the wilderness. And shooting at a limb rather than center of mass or the head is for damn fools.
Most people who have pointed something besides fingers and remote controls know that.
The Disenfranchised Voter
Point well taken, demimondian. Thanks for the info.
The Air Marshalls program must be suspended immediately.
This is an outrage beyond belief. There must be a Special
Prosecutor appointed to investigate this heinous crime
against humanity. Preferably an officer of the International
Criminal Court at the Hague. These affronts to the peace
loving people of the world must stop immediately.
US hands off Cuba!