Michael Chertoff Claims that Hijackings were Routine Prior to 9/11
I missed this interview with DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff from December. It’s all worth reading, but I want to point out where he claims that airplane hijackings were routine prior to 9/11:
What I can tell you is that in the period prior to September 12, 2001, it was a regular, routine issue to have American aircraft hijacked or blown up from time to time, whether it was Lockerbie or TSA or TWA 857 [I believe he meant TWA 847 – Joel] or 9/11 itself. And we haven’t had even a serious attempt at a hijacking or bombing on an American plane since then.
BoingBoing provides the actual facts:
According to Airsafe.com, the last flight previous to 9/11 to be hijacked with fatalities from an American destination was a Pacific Southwest Airlines flight on December 7th, 1987. “Lockerbie” refers to Pan Am Flight 103 which was destroyed by a bomb over Scotland after departing from London Heathrow International Airport on its way to JFK, with screening done—as now—by an organization other than the TSA. TWA Flight 847 departed from Athens (Ellinikon) International Airport, also not under TSA oversight.
While Wikipedia’s list of aircraft hijackings may not be comprehensive—I cannot find a complete list from the FAA, which does not seem to list hijackings, including 9/11, in its Accidents & Incidents Data—the last incident of an American flight being hijacked was in 1994, when FedEx Flight 705 was hijacked by a disgruntled employee.
The implication that hijacking or bombing of American airline flights is a regular occurrence is not borne out by history, nor does it follow that increased screening by the TSA at airports has prevented more attacks since 9/11.