Flying Blind

Among the Terminal Ills: Bodies in Wheel Wells

The much heralded crackdown on terrorism over the holidays, which forced delayed or canceled flights from Paris, London, and Mexico to the U.S., is supposed to be evidence of our new get-tough anti-terror policies. These moves were supplemented over the weekend with regulations that will have foreign visitors photographed and fingerprinted.

Amid all these precautions, the body of a man was discovered December 30 in the wheel well of a British Airways plane at JFK on a flight originating from London's Heathrow. The body of another man was found Christmas Day in a wheel well on a flight to New York from Jamaica. What would have happened if one of these people were carrying a bomb?

Also mysterious are American media reports based on unnamed government sources of one sort or another. For example, in a story on January 1, The New York Times attributed much of the information to 32 of these unnamed "officials." Two people with names were also quoted: Tom Ridge, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, who "put foreign airlines on notice that they would be denied entry to American airspace if they refused to put armed air marshals on any incoming flights of concern," and David O'Connor, director of U.S. operations for the International Air Transport Association, who said safety standards varied around the world, thus presenting the U.S. with a challenge "in seeking to strengthen air security."

Who are the unnamed officials? CIA agents? Or maybe they were Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's own intelligence operatives, whose main accomplishment to date has been to persuade everyone that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Are these "officials" members of the private mercenary companies running around in Rumsfeld's employ? Are they from the National Security Agency, which is trying to listen in on everyone in the world? Maybe they're intelligence operatives from the airlines themselves. Or perhaps they're from British intelligence, which has shown itself to be a political weapon used in support of Tony Blair.


Additional reporting: Ashley Glacel

 
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