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Thu, May 12, 2005

Aero-News Alert: Fox News Pundit Advocates Shooting Down ADIZ Transgressors

Analysis: Will Foolish Mistakes and Nav Errors Become A Capital Crime?

For those of you who had to suffer through some of the wildly inaccurate and speculative reporting that appeared on various networks as a result of Wednesday's foolish ADIZ transgression, few of the low moments exceeded those associated with a Fox News pundit by the name of John Loftus.

Loftus' own self-promotion describes him thus... "As a former Justice Department prosecutor, John Loftus once held some of the highest security clearances in the world, with special access to NATO Cosmic, CIA codeword, and Top Secret Nuclear files. As a private attorney, he works without charge to help hundreds of intelligence agents obtain lawful permission to declassify and publish the hidden secrets of our times. He is the author of four history books, three of which have been made into films, two were international best sellers, and one was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize."

Loftus (below, right), apparently not a fan of private aviation (and based on his bio, without much of an aviation background), intoned much about the dangers imposed on the public by GA... based on his credentials as a former member of the Justice Department. In addition to some terribly unflattering things uttered about GA, Loftus (billed as a "a security analyst and FOX News contributor") told Fox News that, "Almost nothing worked — this small plane should never have gotten within four miles" (of the Capitol). Loftus also was credited with statements that asserted that the plane was too small to puncture the walls of the building and a "running evacuation" of the federal buildings should not have been called. Loftus added pronouncements about the danger presented by small GA aircraft... while neglecting the other means by which common transportation systems (Ryder trucks, for instance) might be abused as far more effective weapons delivery systems.

It was these, and other, insulting remarks about GA that upset a pilot enough to confront Loftus, by email, about his worrisome pontifications. This pilot (who asked us not to use his name as he is now afraid of potential repercussions), wrote Loftus to note...

Note To Loftus

"Your recent public comments about general aviation pilots being rich, arrogant businessmen who fly around like the rules don't apply to them was way out of line. You of all people should know that a few bad apples are not representative of the entire group,especially when that group has done so much good for our country and it's citizens.
Believe me, NO ONE is more upset about the actions of the jackass that violated the Washington ADIZ than the General Aviation Community."

It was a polite and direct (if restrained) counterpoint to Loftus' inflammatory remarks, rendered in a proper and professional tone (for which  this flyer should be congratulated-- he did a fine job of making his point). Loftus responded... anwering this pilot with one of the most chilling and objectionable statements (apparently rendered on a PDA or Blackberry, due to the mis-spellings and absence of appropriate syntax) on this matter that we have seen thus far. Please note that his response(s) are unedited by ANN, and presented exactly as we received them.

Loftus Response

"BUT IT KEEPS HAPPENING! hundreds of violations a year. everyone except you understands we are at war. either your hobby stops being a threat to national sedcurity, or we start to shoot you down. that might get your attention.

PS: a single pilot cessna with a 300 pount fiberglass tank and a BW sprayer could have killed 85,000 peopleon todays flight path. we cannt risk your navigation errors any more."

ANN was truly alarmed at this response. We simply couldn't believe that someone who claims to have held the positions he has would utter such a foolish (in our opinion) statement... so we asked for verification. The pilot that started this discourse verified it by email and telephone... and then Loftus himself, by email, confirmed the response and added the following...

Loftus Statement to ANN

"I know most GA types are responsible patriotic individuals, but that is not good enough anymore. We have to stop these red zone overflights before a terrorist realizes that it is perfect cover for an aerosol disbursement on the nations capitol. It has happened too many times and the industry is doing nothing about it. i recommend chganging federal laws to seize the aircraft of thise who intrude in the 50 mile zone, and shoot down authority within the 15 mile. GA is a privilege not a right, and you have to balance your hobby against national security."

ANN is astounded by these sentiments. While there is some potential validation in his statements about flying being a privilege, we are amazed that he would advocate the diminishment of flyer's rights while not demanding the same from everyone who operated any vehicle that as equal or more potential to be used as a weapon. Looking over his web site, we've seen no similar diatribes against those who operate rental trucks and vans (such as that used in the first attack on the World Trade Center).

Worse, the above statement is riddled with critical errors... especially the part that states that "It has happened too many times and the industry is doing nothing about it." Mr. Loftus blew it pretty badly with this ridiculous statement in that he is ignoring the immense value of programs instituted by our industry, especially the exceptionally effective AOPA Airport Watch program (among others) which has enlisted (quite willingly and patriotically) nearly every flyer and aviation staffer in the country to become an extra set of eyes and ears in the fight to protect this nation. Even the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Agency, agencies who are loath to credit any entity that they don't, themselves, control has lauded Airport Watch with extravagant and genuine praise -- which is much deserved.

ANN thinks that Loftus is WAY off base (to put it mildly). While it was but a matter of time before someone made such sickening statements (advocating the seizure of errant aircraft and the killing -- via shoot-down -- of transgressing aviators), the fact that someone actually said something like this out-loud, and on an internationally televised broadcast, as a new low in media punditry and a dangerous position for a former Justice official to take. It is also far less than the "Fair and Balanced" approach touted by Fox News... and we're quite inclined to abandon this news channel if they keep employing off-base pundits like Loftus.

What Loftus seems to be advocating is dangerous, poorly conceived and hardly the sentiments we think our Founding Fathers would have approved of. His statements are some of the most un-American we have seen in quite the while... and need to be aggressively and vociferously refuted at every opportunity.

What do you think? More to follow... much more. 



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