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January 1, 2004
International Flight Cancellations Due to Intelligence

The US, in cancelling at least one of the several international flights grounded during the holiday, acted on specific intelligence and not just names from passenger manifests, national security sources told the AP:

U.S. authorities were acting on intelligence information — and not just suspicious passenger names — when they boarded a British Airways jet on New Year's Eve at nearby Dulles International Airport, a national security official said Thursday. Meanwhile, the security concerns affected the same British Airways scheduled flight again on Thursday, when the airline canceled one of its three daily flights from Heathrow Airport to Washington.

Thursday's decision was based on security advice from the British government, a spokesman for the airline said.

I think terrorist groups were either trying very hard to make a statement over the holidays, or they were engaging in a counter-intelligence mission to uncover spies and moles within their organizations. Regardless of which was true, American security agencies appear to be responding tremendously well to the information they're receiving. For the most part, they are getting cooperation from international carriers and foreign governments, although this setback is mildly disappointing:

Armed air marshals will not be on New Zealand flights in the near future, say aviation security bosses.

Claims that the United States Government had ordered foreign airlines travelling to the US to put on-board marshals in place had been grossly over-exaggerated, said New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority.

From our perspective, the message from Homeland Security was quite clear; all airlines traveling into or through American airspace must be prepared to supply air marshals when requested for specific flights, or be prepared for denial of access to the US. The New Zealand Herald even covered this statement on the same day as NZCAA denied it meant what it said.

Congratulations to our security forces these holidays; thanks to them, we've been free of terrorist attacks during a high-profile period of time. The Bush administration has delivered well on its promise to secure our nation from the murderers and fanatics that want to kill us, and while there is always room for improvement, I am grateful for their hard work.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 1, 2004 5:33 PM

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