Friday, December 09, 2005

Second Guessing Air Marshals Begins

America's favorite pastime, second-guessing the actions of those required to make split-second emergency decisions, has started in the case of air marshals forced to kill a passenger (identified as Rigoberto Alpizar) that claimed he had a bomb in his backpack. (Washington Post: Passenger Was Mentally Ill, Police Say). Air marshals now find themselves having to defend their actions because of reports that the passenger in question suffered from bipolar disorder.

The facts in this case are quite simple and they have been confirmed by over 100 passengers on the flight. The man looked agitated before boarding the flight. He stated he had a bomb. He ran through the aisle of the aircraft and onto the boarding ramp clutching his backpack to his chest. He repeatedly ignored orders from air marshals to stop and lie down. When finally confronted, he attempted to reach into the backpack in which he had already stated there was a bomb. Is there anyone on this planet that can reasonably conclude the air marshals acted improperly?

Questions are now being raised regarding how much training air marshals receive that assists in dealing with mentally ill travellers. To me it's irrelevant. If someone says they have a bomb on a plane, I don't want to wait for an air marshal to pull up a couch and ask the guy about his childhood. Once someone declares they have a bomb, you take him out of commission and dispose of the potential threat. We can worry about his possible medical condition afterwards.

Lydia Lewis, president of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance said, "In this case, it was a terrible tragedy and I'm not certain all the training in the world . . . would have changed this case." Well, I agree that additional training would not have changed this, but I draw the line at calling this a tragedy. What would have been tragic is if the man's threat were real and the air marshals hesitated because they were told he's suffering from mental illness. Here's a quick tip for you. Anyone that attempts to carry a bomb onto a plane is mentally ill. Mental illness is not a criteria for special treatment, it's the first clue that the passenger is a real threat.

My biggest fear in this situation is that all the second-guessing will cause air marshals to hesitate the next time, when what we truly need are air marshals that react quickly for the safety of the other 300 passengers that are not running through the aisles claiming they have a bomb. The air marshals acted properly. Stop second-guessing them and let them do their jobs.

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4 comments :

Alan Fraser said...

The second-guessing comes because there is conflicting testimony from the passengers and the air marshalls as to what this guy really did. Assuming he did anything approaching announcing a bomb, the left-wing fringe agrees with you: cap him.

Matthew said...

You say to “Stop second-guessing them and let them do their jobs”.

Here is not a second guess: Their job is not to kill people. Their jobs are to keep people safe. They did not keep this passenger safe. They killed him. What kind of country do we want; One that kills people?

Plus you say “The facts in this case are quite simple and they have been confirmed by over 100 passengers on the flight. The man looked agitated before boarding the flight. He stated he had a bomb”

But if you hear that reports, the passengers never heard this guy mention ‘bomb’. The Air Marshals are just using this to cover their butts for killing someone.

Dr. Momentum said...

The facts in this case are quite simple and they have been confirmed by over 100 passengers on the flight. The man looked agitated before boarding the flight. He stated he had a bomb.

I haven't seen one interview with one passenger that said he stated he had a bomb, let alone 100.

No matter how you look at it, this is a horrible tragedy. Someone was needlessly shot. My heart goes out to everyone involved in this accident. In the best case, the needless shooting was unavoidable once the man got on the plane.

If he said he had a bomb, there was nothing the marshal could really do about it. He had to do what he did.

However, can you please provide the link where a passenger is interviewed and says that he heard the man say he had a bomb? I just haven't seen it.

He didn't stop when asked to, and that clearly provoked the situation. That part is corroborated. About the bomb, we really don't know.

It is inaccurate to accuse people of second guessing. By definition, second guessing occurs based on the outcome of a situation (shooting an innocent man) -- things you learn later once the situation is over. Right now it seems that the facts available to the marshals at the time are under dispute, considering the conflicts in the witness reports.

Initially, I read that he was running from the plane yelling that he had a bomb and that he was going to blow it up. In that context, nobody can fault the marshal for doing his job.

And if there are 100 corroborating reports about the bomb, or even a handful of passenger reports, I'll agree that it's just a tragedy rather than a marshal's mistake. But what happened to these passengers that supposedly heard about the bomb?

Alan Fraser said...

I've read further on this and have yet to hear anyone say they heard the passenger say he had a bomb.