First of all, none of the notification systems set up for such an event actually worked. Normally, I would find this hilarious and joke that they shouldn't have put D.C.'s trademark narcoleptic 911 operators on that job. Or, you could argue that I did just make that joke, just now. Either way, if this isn't hilarious, it's at least hilariously disturbing.
At the Homeland Security Operations Center, a command post built after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the D.C. government was relying on a sergeant to keep track of any potential crisis. But it was not until the air scare was nearly over that he got word to police commanders.OF COURSE THEY DID!
At police headquarters, someone had disconnected a phone line that would have provided emergency communications from the Federal Aviation Administration, the officials said.
Of course someone disconnected the emergency hotline phone.
That's the only prudent, sensible thing to do.
After all, the emergency hotline phone isn't going to disconnect itself.
DEAR GOD. THESE ARE THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE.
Wow. As a result, police chief Ramsey and The Bowtie weren't notified of the emergency, and had no idea until it was over. But don't feel bad, guys; the President didn't even know.
That an emergency military operation was underway.
In our capital city.
Well, I suppose after the My Pet Goat incident, they don't bother asking Bush for advice during emergencies anymore.
Anyway... frightening "Emperor's New Clothes" security implications notwithstanding, this probably shouldn't have been as big a deal as everyone made it out to be. I know that we're hypersensitive about air traffic around Washington after 9/11, and rightfully so, but there's a big difference between then and what happened Wednesday, when the threat was merely a Cessna.
Cessnas are the Cooper Minis of aviation. They're tiny cute little planes that only hold four people, tops. There was a great aerial shot in the Post of the pilots being arrested in Frederick that showed the actual scale of the airplane; if you parked four cars side by side, they would be about as wide as the aircraft, including wingspan.
What I'm saying is: this tiny plane isn't about to do a whole lot of damage. If one of these planes hits a building... the building wins. How do I know this?
Because it's happened before! In January 2002, a crazy teenager flew a Cessna into a skyscraper in Tampa. And the building won.
As you can see there was some relatively minor structural damage, and the plane didn't even penetrate all the way into the building. Which means: an evacuated White House or Capitol building wouldn't have a whole lot to worry about if a pilot decided to crash one of these babies into them. There would be some structural damage, the pilots probably wouldn't survive. End of story.
So it's disturbing to read accounts that describe how close the Cessna was to being shot down over the non-evacuated portion of the District.
The aircraft flew over the vice president's residence, a senior federal security official said, came within moments of reaching the White House and was close to being shot down.I'm obviously not in the military. I don't fly fighter jets with cool missiles and such. I'm just a simple unfrozen caveman lawyer; your "modern flying machines" make no sense to me. But it would seem to make more sense to let our already-evacuated buildings take the (tiny) brunt of a kamikaze Cessna pilot, rather than blowing the plane out of the sky and letting it land, at random, on some unevacuated buildings/houses/streets. Even if it's some kind of awful scenario involving explosives or dirty bombs or whatever... I would rather let it land on the evacuated Congress or White House, so that the attack is isolated in a relatively unpopulated area.
In conclusion: let's not freak out over a tiny plane just because a big one hit us before. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go take the batteries out of the smoke detector. Why? Oh, no reason.
Oh hell, let's have one more Top Gun reference for the road. Hit it, Kenny Loggins!
"Take me on your mighty wings; take me on your mighty wings toniiiiiiiighhhht! Bah DUM DUM BA DA DUMMMMMMM.... ba da daaa DA DAAA DUMMMMMM!"