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than forty years ago I thought the advice was funny: When government
comes knocking at your door announcing they are there to help you,…run
for your life! Unfortunately, personal experiences over the years
have taken much of the humor out of that old one-liner for me.

virtually everyone else in America, my first reaction to the news
that American Airlines Flight 587 had crashed in New York was the
terrorists have struck again. As the day passed the details being
reported seemed to ease my concerns of a terrorist act. Toward evening,
however, an NTSB spokesperson assured America that all evidence
gathered so far indicated it was an accident rather than
an act of terrorism. Immediately I began to have doubts about the
veracity of such a claim.

government spokesperson was not "telling it like it is!"
Indeed, the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 may be due to
a catastrophic mechanical failure and have absolutely nothing whatsoever
to do with terrorism. Let's hope so! But the further reality is
that nothing in the evidence so far justifies a claim that
terrorism was not responsible for the crash of the airliner, or
to be more precise, only biased and slanted propaganda can argue
it was an accident rather than sabotage that caused the crash. At
this point in time it is unknowable what initiated this horrible

was clear to me that "government had come knocking at my door,"
delivering a message they wanted me to believe, even though there
was absolutely no way they could support their claim. Suddenly I
realized the powerful motivation that both the government, and the
airline industry, had in conveying the "accident" message.
What was important was not that they themselves believed the message
they were delivering to us but, instead, that they convey their
message with firm conviction to America so we would believe it.

since the horror of September 11, the government and the mainstream
press have been engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to convince
airline travelers that only the federal government can provide security
to the flying public. Overwhelming public opinion has adopted the
statist mentality that future effective security is only possible
if provided by the same people who run the post office. Lengthy
security measures have already been imposed at airports transforming
air travel into an unpleasant and time-wasting experience for passengers.
The army is at the gates as little old ladies have their nail files
confiscated from them. Every effort is committed to creating the
perception that government, and only the federal government,
can provide security to air travel. Without question, the government's
propaganda and actions have been totally successful in achieving
their goal to date.

just imagine how the possibility of sabotage on Flight 587, rather
than a mechanical accident, would undermine these governmental efforts?
Up to now everything proposed or discussed about government-provided
security has been focused upon baggage handling and passenger loading.
The government's attempts to restore passenger confidence have been
built entirely upon adopting draconian security measures targeted
on the passenger and his luggage. After all, that's how the terrorists
struck before and wouldn't that be how they would strike again?
But just what if the terrorist's tactics are different the next
time? What if a terrorist attack on Flight 587 was mechanical sabotage?
Such a disclosure would expose the illusion of government security
for all to see.

carnage of September 11, as well as some disturbing events about
Flight 587, makes me question the simple and preferred government
answer, "it was a mechanical accident." The timing of
the "accident"alone should be enough to give one pause.
Of course an accident can occur at any moment, but let's face it,
we are today in a moment of high alert for further acts of terrorism.
Maybe it's just my natural tendency toward skepticism which begs
the question, but could not an act of sabotage explain the crash
of Flight 587, and be just as likely, as a catastrophic mechanical
failure? Sadly, I believe the answer must be yes.

cause for my skepticism and harboring such a horrible thought is
based on a report almost totally ignored by the press and government
spokespersons. I first learned of it from a comment by Mary Schiavo,
the former Inspector General of the Department of Transportation.
In a television interview she casually mentioned that Flight 587
had gone through an American Airlines A-check maintenance procedure
the night before the disastrous flight. If true, this A300 aircraft
had American Airlines mechanics crawling all over it performing
routine inspections somewhere in a JFK hanger before returning it
to service the morning of the flight. We know further that the flight
was delayed for over an hour beyond its scheduled departure. I have
no idea why, but cannot help but wonder if the delay was in any
way related to the A-check maintenance procedure performed the previous

most people, sabotage is perceived as a bomb in someone's luggage
or on the person of a terrorist. But what if the sabotage resulted
from tampering with the structural integrity of the aircraft by
a terrorist disguised as an American Airlines mechanic? And what
more opportune time for such a despicable plot than during a routine
maintenance procedure at JFK airport just before the departure of
the ill-fated flight? Anyone who believes that security in JFK maintenance
hangers would make such an encroachment impossible is either very
naive, or ignorant of employee working conditions at major airports

course, going public with such suspicions would instill unnecessary
fear unless further evidence evolves to support such a horrible
thought. And in the aftermath of the crash an intriguing question
still haunts me: How did a virtually intact vertical stabilizer,
minus its rudder, end up in Jamaica Bay, far from the crash site?
Many such questions will inevitably arise in the days ahead, but
the even greater danger is that should sabotage be discovered as
the cause of the crash, the government may choose to conceal it
"because we are at war." It has happened before and it
can happen again. The government in it's futile effort to protect
air travelers, will choose to keep America ignorant of the truth.
Hopefully such concerns will prove to be an unrealized danger, but
we know that the first casualty in war is the truth! So, remain
on guard for those who come "knocking at your door," for
truth does not always out easily!

15, 2001

G. Anderson [send
him mail
] is a Misesian economist
and pilot retired in Wyoming.

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