Secure? What do you mean you don't feel secure? - Yesterday, Michelle Malkin posted on the continuing saga of the Northwest flight 327 and Nour Mehana and his band of thirteen Syrian musicians who acted at best like bad attitude artists or at worst like terrorists about to take a plane hostage.
She points to the Dallas Morning News (registration required) where it is confirmed that the thirteen Syrians where flying the unsecured skies with expired Visas.
Isn't that just ducky?
As I've discussed previously, the reporting is a bit murky on the technical difference between visa expiration date and duration of stay, but the strong implication seems to me to be that they had indeed fallen "out of status." Translation: They were here illegally. The key point here is that nobody bothered to check. An immigration official stated that those questioning the band members did not include an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official and that "checks on the status of the visas should have been conducted at the time."
James Langton, for the Telegraph to whom Malkin also referenced, quotes several pilots:
Gary Boettcher, a member of the board of directors of the Allied Pilots Association, wrote to Mrs Jacobsen, saying that he and many fellow captains had witnessed similar practice runs. "I am a captain with a major airline," he said. "I was very involved with the Arming Pilots effort. Your reprint of this airborne event is not a singular nor isolated experience. The terrorists are probing us all the time."
Another pilot, Mark Bogosian, with American Airlines, said: "The incident you wrote about, and incidents like it, occur more than you like to think. It is a 'dirty little secret' that all of us, as crew members, have known about for quite some time."
Interestingly, Langton also points out that in general, US Marshals do not occupy every flight in the U.S. There just isn't enough U.S. Marshals for that. But what is odd about this particular flight, is that there were reportedly several marshals on this one plane. As Langton notes, that's "unusual." So maybe the authorities were tipped off to a possible danger and planned accordingly.
Only they probably didn't plan for observant passengers with media connections and a Blogsphere that would let the story die.
It still remains a question as to whether these Syrians were indeed on a dry run or attempted hijacking. Maybe they are just what they claim to be, musicians with bad flight manners. But the issue of safety continues to be highlighted by the real happenings upon this flight and what appears to be many others like it.
Vigilance remains one of our best weapons, but we must keep our wits about us and hold our authorities responsible for their inaction in the arena of immigration.