Cessna threat thwarted

Tony Auth
Tony Auth (Click picture to enlarge)

The dimwits vs the clueless

I feel so much better now, knowing that the nation's capital can be protected against threatening Cessnas.

A Cessna 150 wandered into Washington DC airspace, and the securers of the homeland brought out the top guns to deal with the threat. As the plane "bore down on the capital," Capitol hill, the Supreme Court, and the White House were evacuated. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was lifted off her feet by zealous security personnel, causing her to lose her shoes in the fracas. Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan, visiting the White House at the time, were rushed to undisclosed locations.

Cessna 150

Let's be clear about a Cessna 150. It is a fixed-wing, two-seater airplane last manufactured in the 1980s, airspeed approximately 125mph. I took flying lessons in a Cessna 150 during the early 1970s. It's the airborne equivalent of a Volkswagen Beetle.

To deal with the Cessna 150, the Air National Guard scrambled F-16 fighter jets, top airspeed Mach 2.


Potential terrorists around the world may have taken an important lesson from this episode. Forget trying to commandeer jet airliners. Forget about anthrax and other weapons of mass destruction. Look what you can do with an old Cessna!

At the Pentagon, Rummy is still trying to make Star Wars missle-to-missle interceptors work. Weaponeers salivate over designing the biggest, baddest, high-tech, gazillion-dollar, whiz-bang weapon systems. Once again we see an incredible mismatch between the toys in the arsenal and the requirements of threats, real or imagined.

The spectacle of government workers and visitors streaming out of buildings, chivied along by yapping security personnel shouting "Run! Run!" doesn't play well on the TV news. The Keystone Cops were more convincing.

Bush returning from his bike ride
Biker Bush returning to the White House. Who do they think they're fooling by having W carry that big thick book? Is this to counter the image of W reading My Pet Goat on 9/11? (Click picture to enlarge)

mystery solved

At the White House press room, reporters grilled the president's spokespeople, demanding to know why W wasn't told about the evacuation until after he finished his bike ride. This is not a hard question. Would you want to be the one to say, "Mr President, Commander-in-Chief, leader of the free world, I think you should know we've scrambled F-16s to chase a Cessna 150"?

Officials are gamely telling us that "the system worked" and we should take comfort in that. Tell that to the people of D.C. who were left completely in the dark until after the all-clear was sounded. If you really thought there was a threat, wouldn't you want the police and fire departments to at least have a heads up?

A lot of speculation has focused on the clueless pilots who thought they could just cruise over the White House. I'd focus attention more on the dimwits who can't tell what is a genuine threat and what is not.