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BA Washington flights and security threats (merged)

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BA Washington flights and security threats (merged)

Old 2nd Jan 2004, 19:18
  #61 (permalink)  

Why do it if it's not fun?
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How would you handle a security concern?

How would you handle this security concern?

You receive credible intelligence that a specific flight is likely to be targetted by terrorists. Do you a) cancel the flight, b) monitor the flight and its pax extremely closely, or c) take some other course of action?

Have you picked an answer?

Now, put yourself into the position of a terrorist. You have planned to hijack a specific flight. American authorities have been made aware of your plan, and cancelled your flight. Do you a) go home and vow never to plan another attack on the US again, b) go home and decide which flight to target next, and how best to avoid this being leaked to the Americans, or c) something else?

Have you picked an answer to this question yet?

If you answered b) to the second question, then go back and look at the first question again. If you cancel the flight, is it true to say that there is now every chance that some future flight will be targeted in the same way, but that there's less chance of you hearing about it? Wouldn't you rather let the flight go ahead, put extra effort into monitoring the flight, the passengers, the baggage and so on, and stand a reasonable chance of actually catching the terrorists in the act so that they can be locked out of harm's way for however long the law allows? Why have BA and the FBI not taken this approach to the Washington flights? Am I missing something here?

(And, if anyone who's actually involved in this type of security issue feels that this question can't be answered publicly without revealing anything which shouldn't be made public, then an answer along the lines of "There is more information which you are not party to, but which I can't tell you - but cancelling the flight really was the best option" would be more than sufficient!)


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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 19:25
  #62 (permalink)  
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"whats_it_doing_now", wouldn't it have been better to have had the supposed terrorists check-in, then arrest them?

By announcing the cancellation of a flight, all chance of capturing them is lost - and worst of all, they are free to try again.

- Michael
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 19:31
  #63 (permalink)  

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Thumbs down

The next person to answer Basils rhetorical point of view will be diverging way off topic. DON'T!

I'm sorry, but the current hysterical announcements that appear to be coming from the US causing the current media feeding frenzy about the security issues with the BA Washington flights are just another example of how to let the terrorists know that they have succeeded. I have never known any security service deal with the threats they claim are now pending in such a public, "cry wolf", way.

If they had credible information then they should be dealing with it in as low key as possible. I know of no security agency that makes public annoucements about their operations in as much detail as has been coming out of the US in recent weeks. Any intelligence service worth its salt gets on with their job in the background and whilst they often get little credit for any of their successes because there is nothing in the 'news', in this case we appear to have very public announcements in some apparent attempt to justify their lack of 'obvious' success.

What we appear to have is a farce. If they have credible evidence then they should be dealing with it in a quiet and efficient manner. If all they are trying to do is prevent the terrorists from boarding in the first place then they are doing a good job but now they will just move to a different target flight. The intelligence (sic) services only have to cry wolf a few more times and the terrorists job will be made that much easier.

It does smack of 'job justification' with little understanding of the nature of the job at hand. If they are successful then there is no public fanfare. That's the nature of their jobs. If they're unsuccessful then they have failed. This latest farce appears to be an attempt to justify some future failure they are fearful of being blamed for.

Please excuse those if us outside the US who observe what is now going on as a monumental over-reaction. They would probably have much more success if they got on with their jobs without all the pronouncements. I have already made plans for a trip to Canada to avoid having to go through a US airport even though it would have been cheaper. Not a scientific poll but certainly now enters my mind that I will avoid having to transit through the USA. Not because of the fear of insecurity but because of the overreaction and the way they have decided to handle security in the first place. I wonder how many other passengers will be thinking this way? And... before those Americans of a sensitive nature get all angry and gung-ho, I still love their country and will visit again. I just can't stand the hype and apparent over reaction to situations we have been deaing with outside the US for many years.

Last edited by Danny; 2nd Jan 2004 at 19:55.
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 19:31
  #64 (permalink)  
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I take your point, but it is very difficult to keep the security covert. I also think that the work of arresting these guys is done in a different arena, the priority at the airport on the day is to make sure no flight is put at risk. Also to arrest these guys after check in you need to know exactly who they are, which I am sure isn't always the case.

I am no expert in security, but I think it is easy to make false assumptions about how things should or shouldn't be done with out really knowing what the exact issues that are faced by those in the know. Kind of like press assumptions on how pilots do their jobs really.
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 19:38
  #65 (permalink)  
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You have just asked the million and one dollar question with no correct answer.

Depending on what the intelligence actually is/ the source of information / the reliability or credibility of the source/ the corroboration that may or may not be available to the intelligence will make the difference to what action you take in this situation.

Even when you make the correct decision the conspiracy theorists (aka the terrorists best friend) will give you a hard time and jeopardise any similar decision you may have to make in the future.

For what its worth I think that if you have not identified the persons involved you cancel the flight and hope the intelligence improves on the next occasion. Remembering that what ever action you take, will influence the terrorists next move and may also disrupt the flow of intel you have.

The ultimate no win situation with a very big 2nd prize

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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 20:04
  #66 (permalink)  
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BBC reporting that todays BA Washington flight is to depart as planned 1505 local from LHR.
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 20:25
  #67 (permalink)  
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 20:41
  #68 (permalink)  
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This latest farce appears to be an attempt to justify some future failure they are fearful of being blamed for.
My thoughts exactly.

Surely they should interrogate suspect(s) and allow the flight to continue? Or is that too easy? I thought the law enforcement bods (especially in the US) had great powers of anti-terrorist arrest now. Guantanamo Bay is full of suspects so why the disruption and fuss with this scenario?

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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 20:43
  #69 (permalink)  
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They better have a bloody good reason for this. The more cynical amongst us might suspect a wiff of protectionism.

I can see it now US Airlines only allowed to operate North Atlantic

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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 20:51
  #70 (permalink)  
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Well said Roobarb. Not to mention the vast sum of money BA are losing from not only these cancelled flights but from people who are now 'scared to travel'. And all when aviation was just starting to get back on its feet. Not sure who to thank for this anymore. Just seems to be getting a bit out of hand!


p.s how about 'US Airlines only allowed to cross the Atlantic because other carriers are unsafe' Says a US source!
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 20:58
  #71 (permalink)  
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Apparentyl the 18:40pm flight is going ahead according to Sky News.

Just wondering: Is it at all possible that it is a simple case of the captain not wanting to go? Which is fair enough.

Would the airline overide his decision, or is it not his decision in these kinds of cases, ie BA would find someone else?

cheers ifly. (at least trying to!!)
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 21:01
  #72 (permalink)  
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Lol, 18.40 flight....Good old sky news. Where to, the moon? They make me laugh so much.
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 21:01
  #73 (permalink)  
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Its cancelled again, today 2nd January.
I just checked the BBC again and it confirms that it is off.
Whats going on????
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 21:11
  #74 (permalink)  
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Garbage in/ Garbage out!

The FBI computerised system makes US Administration appear ridiculous:

They are unable to transcript arabic, chinese, far-east names....
They are unable to check alerts with human skill at a level creating a kind of "trust", either negative or positive.

In this flights cancellation affair, they took an old chinese grandma, a young arab baby, and a few other peacefull passengers for dangerous terrorists....

I don't think this blocade was due to the current anti-French or xenophobic feeling in Bush's Administration, just normal stupidity.

Now they created another important problem:

If American paranoia is making a mess of International Air Transport, If world economy has to suffer in other sectors from unresponsible decisions made by officials unable to face the multiple pressures and stress ahead....isn't it by itself a victory for Al Qayda et al. ?
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 21:16
  #75 (permalink)  
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I have this sneeky suspicion that there is something more to this whole sharade than BA/gov are leading on. Very strange.
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 21:28
  #76 (permalink)  
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On the radio now

BBC are saying that this afternoons cancellation was a direct order from the Government (UK), not a BA decision based on advice
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 21:36
  #77 (permalink)  
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What is wrong with BA 223? Is it the same a/c each time? This is 3 times now that this flight has been a problem.
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 21:50
  #78 (permalink)  
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'In this flights cancellation affair, they took an old chinese grandma, a young arab baby, and a few other peacefull passengers for dangerous terrorists....'

Actually that was the report in the Wall Street Journal; Reuters said:

'However, a source close to French investigating judges handling terror cases told Reuters the newspaper report could not be true, because U.S. terrorism investigators had never given French authorities passenger names, only flight numbers.'
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 22:09
  #79 (permalink)  
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There is something not quite right about this.

The same flight has been considered an extreme threat for three days now.

I think it's a fair to assume that the flights were canceled because there was someone, or something, on board that was considered a terrorist threat.

Was this same threat present on all three flights?
If so, surely it would be easy to isolate and neutralize?

Conversely, if they don't know quite what they are looking for why are they being so specific about this particular flight?

Something just doesn't sit right.
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 22:10
  #80 (permalink)  
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If I were a terrorist hellbent on carrying out some attrocity I would imagine I would be avoiding Heathrow like the plague and using some other USA route starting from a less obvious airport or do they have some help from the ground???
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