By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
Just as during Vietnam, where U.S. commercial planes ferried the troops to Asia and brought back the bodies, the deportation of suspected alien terrorists might become a silver lining for the bankrupt airlines. During FY 2002, an estimated 145,940 people were deported, most of them by air.
Deportees, uncharged but suspected of some sort of complicity with terrorists, are being sent home in small groups aboard scheduled commercial flights, with U.S. planes getting first crack at carrying them out. The Immigration and Naturalization Service pays top dollar. (The one-way fee from New York City to Karachi, for example, is more than $3200U.S. airlines don't fly direct to Pakistan.) The INS has also chartered special flights. Air Luxor, a Portuguese airline, and World Airways, a U.S. airline, were both awarded private contracts from the U.S. government to carry deportees home to Pakistan. Air Luxor got $342,000; World Airways won't say what its contract is worth, but the airline's Web site claims that World has a contract with the air force for $120 million.
As a last resort, the government can call on its own airline, the U.S. Marshal Service's Justice Prisoner and Alien Transport System (JPATS), which flies prisoners from prison to prison all across the U.S. and to foreign countries in a fleet of 727s and Sabre 80s. Save for the flight crew and security personnel, everyone aboard a JPATS flight is shackled.
"While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in 'mission creep,' and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. . . . Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically differentand perhaps barrenoutcome."
The Sunshine Project, a public-interest group in D.C., ran into a stone wall when it tried to obtain scientific papers in the open literature. When the group sought unclassified reports filed by military researchers with the National Academies of Science, it was denied because the documents are on "security hold." But the NAS did give up the titles, which provide an inkling of what's in store for us. A few of the more suggestive:
"Spider Fiber Technology Assessment and Concept Analysis," "Antipersonnel Calmative Agents," "Sticky Slicky Weapons," "Harassing, Annoying, and 'Bad Guy' Identifying Chemicals," "Enhanced Lethality KE [Kinetic Energy] Warhead," "Fishing for Trucks," "Spider Fiber Entangler," "Loaded Speed Bump."