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"Anyone can act presidential. "
It's a lot harder to do what I do.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Fighting Back

The Herd At Newark, just mindlessly waiting. . .

This is NOT a good example of maintaining Situational Awareness. . .

I was asked in an email

"As for the herding aspect - how would you prevent your daughter from sacrifice at that alter?

My own daughter & her husband as well as my dad were travelling the other last week.

Each would have unquestioningly followed directions to be herded. Sigh."

Considering my own experience with airport non-security in the wee early hours New Year's morning I'm not sure. My daughter, too, would have likely followed the instructions.

Part of the problem with herding is it is far too easy to trust that someone wearing a uniform knows what they are doing and has your best interest in mind. And to fall in with the crowd following the instructions. The Safety In Numbers mindset.

The other problem here is that the people being herded probably did not know what the threat was. Terrorist or Fire in the Terminal bathroom? To the first following the herd is probably bad. To the second herding would probably be good. But they had no way of knowing.

At the very least if caught up in the herd your Situational Awareness (a phrase the vast majority of the population know nothing about) that you should always be using, doubly so in high profile attack venues like airpots, needs to be hyperactive. Don't blindly put one foot in front of the other just shuffling along to daylight, eyes on the floor or the back of the head in front of you. KEEP LOOKING AROUND. Watch your fellow herdmates for anything suspicious. Keep planning and changing ways to move away from danger if it should suddenly appear as you move along. There could be a bomb in that trash can. Move away from it. That sort of thing. And if something absolutely seems wrong trust your gut and question it.

Don't get crazy, but a modicum of paranoia may save your life.

And remember, once aboard the plane, if the shit hits the fan, it can no longer be assumed that you're going to just have an unexpected layover in Cuba. And you no longer have the flight option you had in the terminal. Don't assume someone else will do it.


Human Events:

How to Recognize and Fight a Terrorist on a Plane
by Randy Plante
Posted 01/05/2010 ET
Updated 01/05/2010 ET

The attempted bombing of Delta/Northwest 253 on Christmas Day was not the first from the Islamic terrorists nor will it be the last. Since I am a pilot, I have had people ask what can a passenger do onboard an airplane to help thwart a terrorist attack. Having personal experience with a few events myself, as well as reading articles and hearing stories from other crewmembers, I can give you some information which might assist you in dealing with a suspicious passenger or situation.

The first thing to realize is that there are a few different scenarios which the terrorists could be using on your particular flight. (Also realize that it could happen on any flight, not just one originating from a non U.S. location.) Options include testing TSA and law enforcement personnel, testing passengers and crewmembers, observation, dry run/practice, and actual execution of an attack. Of course it is hard to differentiate which scenario is playing out until after your flight lands, but it might assist you in recognizing the threat and knowing how serious your reaction should be if you know all of the options. In most of these instances, their job is to also scare you. Terrorists create terror. If you stop flying, they win. So be pro-active. Maybe something you do will cause them to call off the attack.

As a passenger you must be observant and vigilant. Most often someone notices some unusual activity or behavior. It doesn’t have to be just a person either. Suspicious bags, luggage, packages, notes, pillows, and electronic devices have been found on planes. One of the biggest advantages you have is the ability to profile. TSA refuses to do the obvious thanks to political correctness. Everyone knows who is committing these attacks -- Muslim, Middle-Eastern men between 18 and 40. Maybe al Qaeda is trying to recruit others than don’t fit this profile but it sure fits the mold right now.

Some things to look for: groups or pairs of men, a passenger talking to themselves, speaking Arabic, watching crewmembers (this is different than looking), staring at the cockpit door, long stays or multiple trips to the lavatory, reading a book but not turning any pages, nervousness, being unusual by trying to fit in, taking pictures/videos, not making eye contact. When you are at the boarding area and on the plane if you notice a suspicious passenger, look for others. How many? If it is one or two then they could be planning on bombing the aircraft or just making observations of crew procedures. 6 or more? Then this cell’s objective would be hijacking the plane by brute force. Also remember that there are sleepers that try to blend in with the other passengers and could be very hard to notice. A website reports a well-dressed man in custody that was also a passenger on Delta Flight 253. After an incident, your entire plane might be delayed for security and they will treat everyone as suspects. Also expect the government and airline to try to cover up parts or all of an event.

A recent example of a possible test occurred on Nov 17 with an Airtran flight from Atlanta to Houston. Eleven Muslim men got on the plane and caused a big disturbance and ended with passengers assisting the flight attendants in the commotion. TSA was called, they took the men off, talked to them, and put them back on. The crewmembers walked off the plane refusing to fly it, and then passengers walked off as well. The terrorists tested the TSA and passengers but probably also threatened lawsuits to the government and Airtran. This could be setting up a later mission with hopes the TSA and airline would be afraid to take them off the plane. Just like the Delta flight, the final layer of security, the crewmembers and passengers, are the ones who might have prevented an attack, nothing the government did was successful.

The best time to do something is prior to boarding and before the aircraft pushes back from the gate while the door is still open. This is when you have some control in the situation and easier for the captain to get involved. Before you board you can talk to a TSA employee or gate agent and explain your concerns. The gate agents are usually very busy and might give you the brush off. Talk to other passengers. While on the plane you will have to find a flight attendant, which could prove difficult because at times the boarding process can be quite chaotic. If one flight attendant seems to ignore you then talk to the other one. Maybe ask to see the captain. Write a note. If you are really scared, grab your bags, say you are sick, and get off the plane. Some crewmembers can be just as ignorant about the serious nature of the threat as our government officials. One time after a flight years ago a flight attendant asked me what the captain did about the suspicious passenger. She had called the cockpit inflight to report the behavior to the captain (since retired) and he neglected to tell me anything and did nothing.

While seated look for able-bodied men, military personnel, or deadheading crew to assist you. Maybe you notice a suspicious passenger but do not feel it warrants a visit with TSA/Flight Attendant or it happens inflight . Volunteer yourself or change seats on your own to sit next to or right behind any suspicious passengers. A recent crew moved a soldier to sit next to a nervous Middle-Eastern passenger before pushback. Once while I was deadheading in coach during a flight, the captain told the flight attendant to move me next to a suspicious passenger.

Once airborne there are limited options. Talking to the flight attendants and moving seats is basically all you can do. A divert takes time and would be a major emergency. On the flight I diverted for security issues we had an F-16 on our tail, ready to shoot us down if we didn’t immediately land.

If an actual attack occurs, then all bets are off. Take Action! DO NOT wait for crewmember instruction! This is a life or death situation. The terrorists will be hoping for the element of surprise. You will probably die anyways if the terrorists are successful so you might as well die giving them a fight. If it is a hijacking, block the aisles and do not let them get to the cockpit. For a bombing, jump on the passenger and separate him from the ignition source. For a suspicious package, box, etc. there is a place on the plane to move it to, but do not move it until necessary and with guidance from the crew.

The airlines are doing their best just to stay in business with the recession, bad weather, tough competition, and low fares. The employees are very frustrated with pay cuts, long hours, full planes, grumpy customers and poor morale. The commercial aviation system wasn’t designed to fight terrorists. And don’t necessarily blame the TSA and law enforcement agencies. They have some really hard working personnel trying to protect us. It is the policies implemented by people working in the U.S. government that is the problem, and amazing enough, it is the federal government that is required by law to defend us by the U.S. constitution. So what do they do? President Obama decides to take legal action against CIA employees for using special interrogation techniques to obtain information from terrorists to keep us safe. It was an obvious emotional, liberal, political decision. This will only make it much more difficult for the intelligence agencies to do their jobs and recruit/retain top talent, as well as lowering morale.

Another government employee, the DHS Secretary herself, said after the 12/25 attempted bombing, “the system worked” when it was obvious to the world that it did not. The news media gave President Bush an amazing amount of grief for not connecting the dots with 9/11. Regarding the underwear bomber on Flight 253; his father warned the government, was on a watch list, paid cash for his ticket, no passport, no luggage. A third grader could have connected these dots. The Republicans had to undo the laws and policies enacted by the Clinton Administration that impeded communication between intelligence and law enforcement agencies while President Bush implemented new ones to protect us after September 11. Now Democrats are acting like it is September 10 again.

Government by definition is a bureaucratic monopoly. It is managed by politicians and career bureaucrats. Slow, inefficient, unaccountable. Lots of finger pointing, blame games, commissions, hearings, conferences, meetings, and reports, but do you know anybody that got fired after 9/11, Fort Hood, or any other government blunder? Deja vous with this security lapse? It feels like we are on a team that wants to lose. And I don’t like being on a team that likes losing and neither does millions of people across the United States.

Unfortunately, until the Obama administration, Congress, and our government officials get serious with national security and the war on terrorism, then what we will lose is more of our freedoms and the lives of more American citizens.

Randy Plante is a former Air Force Captain and F-111 pilot. He flew a C-130 with the Air National Guard and served two tours in the Bosnian War. Currently Mr. Plante is a Captain with 19 years at a major airline.


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posted by midnight rider at permanent link#


Anonymous Frank Sinatra said...

Strangers on my flight?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 6:21:00 pm  
Blogger midnight rider said...

Now THAT'S funny.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 6:29:00 pm  
Anonymous revereridesagain said...

Something to hum under your breath while checking out the ME man-couple muttering to each other in Arabic in the boarding area...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 7:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or, they can just arrest Michael Yon for not disclosing his income.

This is a government seriously out of control - not interested in really keeping US interests and citizens safe - interested in putting US citizens in their places. Don't speak unless spoken to, follow orders and bend over.

This is not just incompetent - this is evil. As they say - it's a feature - NOT a bug.

Our country is gone.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010 7:14:00 pm  
Anonymous revereridesagain said...

Flight 253 on 12/25/09 was obviously a genuine bombing attempt. However, even though it failed, consider the ginormous amount of information AQ has acquired both from what happened during the flight itself (with or without the possible videotape) and from the coverage thereafter.

Now that they know the FUBAR is beyond even their wildest dreams, what use will they make of it?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 7:16:00 pm  
Blogger Epaminondas said...

Can I bring my Louisville slugger on board?

What could be more american?

Louisville slugger and Al Capone !

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And here I thought it couldn't get any worse . . .

Cameras Didn't Work At Newark

TSA Apparently Didn't Know Number For Continental To Get Other Footage

Thousands of people found themselves bunched together inside Newark Liberty International Airport after a security breach prompted the closing of a terminal for several hours Jan. 3, 2010.
It's a tale of shocking ineptitude: CBS 2 has learned a series of missteps unnecessarily added to the mayhem at Newark Liberty International Airport on Sunday. The six-hour delay stranded thousands of people, creating extreme crowding and chaos.

The mistakes made at the airport give new meaning to the term "domino effect." It was a cascading series of missteps that cry out for action.

The sign at the Transportation Security Administration screening post at Newark read: "Premises Under Constant Video Surveillance."

What is should add is: "If We're Lucky."

That's because CBS 2 has learned that when an unidentified man breached a secure area at Newark on Sunday night, delaying thousands of passengers for hours, the TSA cameras weren't working.

That's right – they weren't even recording, sources said, and needed a reboot, which the agency apparently didn't ask for. That set off a chain reaction of even more missteps that caused needless chaos and inconvenience for several thousand hapless passengers.

With the cameras inoperable, the TSA tried to get a second set of surveillance video from Continental Airlines. But the TSA apparently didn't know the correct telephone number and the specific procedures to get the footage. That caused a two hour delay in identifying the intruder and closing the airport to look for him.

When they finally got the footage, they couldn't find the intruder, discovering later that he had slipped out another entrance 20 minutes after he arrived.

"The question I would ask is should there be an independent camera system there. Who should be responsible for the law enforcement?" said Sen. Frank Lautenberg.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010 4:16:00 am  

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