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Mystery Flight: Two passengers trigger alarmsand fresh echoes of 9/11.

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Roland99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-05 12:02 PM
Original message /

Arpil 25 issue - It's part of the routine for air travel since 9/11. Fifteen minutes after KLM Flight 685 took off from Amsterdam for Mexico City on April 8, Mexican authorities forwarded the names of all the passengers to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The reason: the flight was scheduled to pass through U.S. airspace after making a long swing over Canada. The information was then passed on to the U.S. National Targeting Center, based at a secret address in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. That's when the routine became extraordinary: by the time the Boeing 747 had finished its three-hour crossing of the Atlantic, Homeland Security screeners were on high alert. The names of two Saudi passengers aboard the KLM flight had begun producing "hits" on the screening center's lists of 70,000 suspect foreigners.

One of these hitsfrom an FBI database of terror suspects known as TIPOFFsmacked investigators right between the eyes. The two Saudis, the database reported, were brothers and pilots who had attended the same Arizona flight school as 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour. Soon the multiplicity of U.S. terror databases started pumping out similar hits. Fearing that Flight 685 might be a 9/11-style plot in the making, U.S. authorities refused the plane overflight rights, and Canada rejected a request to land. Much to the chagrin of its 278 passengers, the KLM jet made an exhausting odyssey back to Amsterdam.


Even so, by the end of last week the reasons the Saudi brothers gave for their trip to Mexico appeared to be holding up, U.S. investigators conceded. The men told authorities they were visiting their ill father, a retired Saudi diplomat who is living in Mexico. A Saudi official in Riyadh later told NEWSWEEK that the father was a former "administrative employee" of the Saudi Foreign Ministry, but that he has not worked for the government for 10 years and has a Mexican wife. One counterterrorism official said authorities were aware of the family and had been watching the brothers for some time, adding, "I just don't think this was a plot along the lines of 9/11." Much as some intelligence officials insist that the Saudis have Qaeda links, no Western agency made a move to arrest them. (Because of the ambiguous nature of the case, NEWSWEEK has decided not to publish their names.)

So did the United States overreact? "There are so many people on that watch list that shouldn't be on it," explained a U.S. official privy to the KLM case. "But you have to err on the side of caution in the post-9/11 world. You've got a plane with unknown quantities hurtling towards the U.S. You're going to act first and think later." Unfortunately, some foreign governments now think Washington does too much acting and too little thinking. While the Bush administration has made the case that this is a war without rules, Europeans still tend to see counterterrorism as a law-enforcement problem. That is partly why Dutch and other European authorities, lacking direct proof of a crime or plot, decided not to detain the two Saudis. Yet even the Europeans aren't completely on the same page. Officials with Dutch and U.S. intelligence say that after the two men arrived back in Amsterdam, they flew to London, where they were refused entry. Then they flew back to the Netherlands, where they were under surveillance before returning on their own to Saudi Arabia. British officials were later peeved that Dutch authorities failed to communicate to them the full tale of KLM 685. A Saudi official later told NEWSWEEK the two men had been detained for questioning.
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DrDebug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-05 12:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. But still the US government wasn't allowed to know

U.S. officials said Mexico provided the names after accessing the KLM list and comparing it with a list of suspected terrorists. Such sharing of information is allowed under U.S.-Mexican security agreements, they said.
(...) /

And that's the real point. KLM - the carrier - had a privacy policy saying that this data was not allowed to be shared by other parties other then the country of destination. So it still strange that Mexico send all the flight information on knowing that they were violating the privacy policies of the carrier. So the real incident was not the hole in the homeland security safety net, but in the data which was redistributed illegally in violation of international.

If (B) gets data from (A) under a no distribution then (C) cannot get the data from (B) even if (B) and (C) have an agreement.
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Roland99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-05 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. The Propagandist can and will do anything.
He's impervious to recrimination.
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theliberalavenger Donating Member (204 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-05 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
3. Idiot Alert!
How long until Michelle and Jesse Malkin turn this non-story into a major issue for wingnuts to wring their hands over?
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