To have been able to do that, the order to intercept would've had to have been given by 7:34 p.m., or almost a half hour after the plane "went dark." That obviously didn't happen. The military either didn't know about a plane that had been flying without being in contact for a half an hour, or they did know about it and the decision was made not to intercept the possible threat.I know what you're thinking; the guy's patting himself on the back. That's hardly the point, which is: "In the news business, you can't lead by following." It was only late yesterday that the Wall St. Journal -- which had pretty much concocted the "they were sleeping" story that the media followed -- finally got around to the more significant angle of the story.
The delay has sparked consternation within the military, concern within the FAA and special oversight by the White House, these officials said, particularly because such time lags were supposed to be eliminated as a result of the lessons learned from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In the event of a hijacking, the military would order fighters into the air to intercept an aircraft and possibly shoot it down.Then the rest of the media picked it up, led by the Associated Press:
"Air traffic controllers repeatedly tried to reach the pilots of the Northwest flight as it continued on course without deviation," (FAA administrator Randy) Babbitt said in a statement. "The plane followed its filed flight plan, the transponder remained on and the plane did not send any emergency or distress signals. However, the controllers should have notified NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) more quickly that the plane was not responding."This morning, local news operations are all parroting the Wall St. Journal's "work," as if it is a new development. They could've asked the same questions at any time. But they didn't. Why not? Because many news organizations are less in the business of reporting; and more in the business of "repackaging." That's not journalism. That's show business.
CBS Early Show host Harry Smith was one of the guests on A Prairie Home Companion last Saturday and produced a nice piece for his show this morning on what it's like to be a guest, including the pitfalls of a last-minute Keillor re-write of a song Smith was scheduled to sing.
Here's an extended Smith interview with Keillor.
In his segment on TV today, Keillor offered this piece of advice to Smith: "Wherever you go in broadcasting, never take calls from the listeners.
Or as we like to say here in the newsroom: The public. At least in these cubicles, we love to hear from you.
At this hour, an utterly amazing exchange is taking place on Capitol Hill on an issue that is clearly the most important and fundamental issue facing the nation.
It's a brutally honest discussion between Tim Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the few members of the House Financial Services Committee who showed up for work today.
Geithner is, basically, calling out Congress for its inaction on closing loopholes that led to financial meltdown in the first place
It's a rare honest debate in which both sides are speaking frankly.
For example, Geithner was incredulous when one member of the committee suggested the "too-big-to-fail" banks should not be subject to the same regulation that smaller, community banks are.
"The important thing to recognize is -- and it's just worth going back to what it was like last fall -- without the ability for the government to step in and manage the failure of a large firm, to contain the risk of the fire spreading, we will be consigned to repeat the experience of last fall. It's a stark, simple thing. And there is no... I know of no person who has stood in my seat -- this is true of (Fed) Chairman Paulson -- in any central bank in any major country that would say the country should be run with no authority to step in and act in that case."
"They are getting into the fundamental issue of regulatory reform and that is the issue of pre-emption by the authority; do they have the right to go in and tell a bank they can't do a certain business, what is the right to take over a certain company if there's deemed to be a systemic risk?" a CNBC analyst noted. "This whole concept of prevention has been out there for, really, decades, that Congress has decided not to do because of these issues that have just been brought up."
Is that an important discussion -- the fundamental philosophical on the role of government -- for the people who were elected to Congress to hear? Not for many of them.
I count at least seven empty chairs. Even the committee chair, Rep. Barney Frank, left after his opening statement, in which he defended Congress by saying the committee has passed legislation that further regulates the banking industry. In fact, however, that legislation has not become law.
Three Minnesotans -- Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Keith Ellison, and Rep. Erik Paulsen -- sit on the committee.(7 Comments)
Now that Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbit has answered the question that even Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano wouldn't touch -- why were homeland security officials frozen out of the Flight 188 situation? -- the mea culpas are coming from the military... sort of.
The Associated Press reports that Gen. Gene Renuart, who heads U.S. Northern Command, said he learned of the incident just four or five minutes before the Federal Aviation Administration regained contact with the Northwest Airlines pilots, who were out of touch with air traffic controllers for more than an hour as their jet sped toward Minneapolis St. Paul.
Renuart says fighter jets should've been airborne. He says Northern Command is conducting an "internal review."
Coincidentally, Gen. Renuart's command is hosting 4,500 military and civilian personnel from around the country next week to take part in a training expercise simulating a terrorist attack in the United States.
(h/t: Sara Meyer)
Meanwhile, the safety woes for the airlines continue. The FAA says a Midwest Airlines jet came within 82 feet of the nose of a departing Northwest Airlines jet at Los Angeles on Sunday, violating rules designed to prevent collisions on runways.
It's not easy being the air traffic controller in charge of preventing these things as this situation in New York a few years ago revealed:(15 Comments)
There's nothing wrong with the world that a good dog story won't cure.
Here's a good dog story:
A funeral was held yesterday for Baxter, one of the oldest working therapy dogs in the United States. Baxter comforted hundreds of patients in their final hours at a hospice, even when he was in his final hours.
Here's a Kleenex.(4 Comments)