Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mike Chertoff Invites You to Pick a Target

The tragic story of Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle’s plane crash into a New York City highrise, painful as it is to his family and friends, is not about Cory Lidle.

Corylidle
The tragic story of Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle’s plane crash into a New York City highrise, painful as it is to his family and friends, is not about Cory Lidle.
It is instead, an unmasking of the incomprehensible actions (or lack thereof) on the part of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. Here again is every appearance of a lightweight trying to cover a heavyweight’s job—very nearly a Bush administration trademark.
Bushchertoff2 Chertoff, who screwed up the Zacharias Moussaoui prosecution and wrongfully brought down the Arthur Anderson company in a case that wrecked the company and was reversed on appeal (after Anderson went broke and let go 26,000 employees), was co-author of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act represents the largest wholesale raiding of the constitutional cookie-jar in U.S. history.
This current ‘open flight’ around Manhattan Chertoff policy is so egregious, in light of the 9-11 attack, that it defies description. But I will try.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said the Lidle crash occurred at 2:45 p.m.
near a corridor above the East River where helicopters and small planes can fly under 1,100 feet and are not required to remain in touch with air traffic controllers. The corridor runs up the river, over the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and 59th Street bridges that necklace the river. It is commonly used by sightseeing helicopters under "visual flight rules," which means pilots under 1,000 feet must steer clear of other airplanes and helicopters as well as buildings.
Hudsonriver All of Manhattan lies between the East River and the Hudson (where the same rules apply). Manhattan Island, that most targeted (and already devastatingly hit) part of the city, where police officers patrol the subways, is wide open to anyone with a ‘small plane.’ Small planes (however that is determined), are thereby invited to pick their target of choice for another 9-11.
A veritable shooting-gallery, courtesy of your Department of Homeland Security, who won’t let you carry toothpaste onto a plane, but allows free river access to any plane with a novice pilot. Cory Lidle was a novice pilot. He got his license last year during the off-season, bought a nifty half-million dollar light plane and lost control of it over Manhattan.
Cirruss20 News reports don’t yet acknowledge who was at the controls, Cory or his flight instructor. Probably both, in their moment of panic.
Sana Monayair (Washington Post article) described standing on her 37th-floor balcony across 72nd Street about 2:40 p.m. She watched as the four-seat, single-engine Cirrus SR20 plane strayed inland from the East River, climbing briefly upward before lurching down into the building's cliff wall.
"I saw the plane fly directly into the building," Monayair said. "There was a big explosion. It was very scary, the bricks falling and people screaming."
Chertoff, if there was a functioning government in Washington instead of the one that went home to electioneer, would no doubt find himself in front of another enraged Congressional committee.
He might offer a defense similar to his September 3, 2005 press conference over FEMA response to hurricane Katrina. Chertoff asserted that no one had ever predicted a disaster of this magnitude. In your position as secretary, you are charged with predicting every conceivable type of disaster possibility.
Chertoff_1 Listen up, Mike. I am predicting another NY attack if the air lanes surrounding Manhattan are not closed. 
By whose decision are the front and back doors of New York City left open to bang in the wind of anyone who chooses to fly up and down them? What incompetent decided that as long as god-knows-who flys under 1,100 feet, he can be allowed the choice of targets in a city of a thousand targets? Both planes that hit the WTC made contact well below 1,100 feet.
Here’s another clue, Mike.
Among the available plastic explosives these days—so named because they are ‘protected’ by plastic, which makes them somewhat more stable--is Semtex—a Czech explosive invention as easy to slip through airport security as nylons, Semtex has been a terrorist top choice because it’s also odorless and undetectable by dogs and airport security devices.
Very handy. Semtex was responsible for the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Potent stuff. Way more effective than jet fuel.
According to the FBI, Semtex has an indefinite shelf life and is far stronger than traditional explosives such as TNT. It is also easily available on the black market.
Nycsubwaypolice_1 Semtex became infamous when just 12 ounces of the substance, molded inside a Toshiba cassette recorder, blew Pan Am flight 103 out of the sky. A year later, after the Czech Communist regime was toppled, the new president, Vaclav Havel, revealed that the Czechs had exported 900 tons of Semtex to Libya and another 1,000 tons to favored places such as Syria, North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. Some experts now put worldwide stockpiles of Semtex at 40,000 tons.
Breaking a sweat yet, Mike?
So, we have a rogue, undetectable explosive that’s readily available, 12 oz of which can bring down an airliner. None of that is news, not really. What is news, is that the accidental crash of Cory Lidl was the result of ordinary access to airspace that should have been protected.
That event
scrambled military jets over the major cities of America and Canada--talk about a classic locking of barn doors after the horse is gone.
Bushchertoff_2 What good to assign gun toting police to New York’s subway system and leave the airways open to any novice (or terrorist) with an airplane? A half-pound of Semtex can take down a small building. The payload of a Cirrus S-20, such as Cory flew, is a thousand pounds, a half-ton, enough to drop and building in Manhattan.
As George Bush would say,
“Helluva job, Michael.”
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Press sightings of the NYC plane crash;