Saturday, October 31, 2015

Aviation Update

Another passenger jet falls out of the sky at cruising altitude.  This is getting a bit weird.

Weird or not, the loved ones of those lost on Metrojet flight 7K-9268 deserve a factual investigation.   Lots of speculation now as in every aviation disaster--early claims of terrorism by the terrorists should be taken with a grain of salt until more facts are established.  That said, claims by officials should also be scrutinized for accuracy.  They may be lying (for a variety of reasons) or just bungling the facts.

For instance, there is already confusion about the final minutes of the flight.  Many news sources are reporting something similar to this:
Ayman al-Muqadem, an Egyptian official with the government's Aviation Incidents Committee, said air controllers lost contact with the plane’s pilot after he radioed that the aircraft was experiencing technical problems and that he needed to make an emergency landing.
At the same time the Egyptian "Civil Aviation Authority" has said that communications were normal until the moment the aircraft disappeared off radar scopes, giving no indication of any technical issue. 

The above is very easy to confirm since it should be available on ATC voice tapes. It will also be on CVR recordings and we know both CVR and FDR were recovered. The distinction is critical in this case since it could mark the difference between sabotage or terrorism, ie, the plane suddenly disappeared as in the MH17 shootdown case, or a plane having issues and in crippled flight, trying to find a place to land before catastrophic failure occurred.

At any rate, this does not appear to similar to a TWA-800 type event since the aircraft was confirmed to be at an altitude where only sophisticated anti-aircraft systems can go as with MH17. If the plane was shot down using such a system it was either inadvertent or something very troubling.  But there's a ways to go before anyone should be reaching such a conclusion based on open source info.

SPEAKING OF 800..  11/2/15

Here's an interesting comment in a WaPo article on the doomed flight:
Modern planes don’t usually fall apart in flight, barring an explosion caused by a bomb or missile..


This is now being reported:
CBS News' national security correspondent David Martin reports a U.S. infrared satellite detected a heat flash over the Sinai at the time the Russian plane went down. The data is still being analyzed in an effort to determine what caused the flash. One possibility is a bomb, but an explosion in a fuel tank or engine as the result of a mechanical failure is also possible.
Since it almost surely has to be associated with the jet it would seem to rule out a sudden structural failure of the hull due to the old tail-strike repair, as some in the aviation business are guessing.   It also seems to line up with the video shown by ISIS propagandists.   At the same time, it doesn't completely rule out a mechanical issue.  An uncontained engine failure could blow parts out of the turbine and perhaps cause some kind of flash of heat, especially if it somehow caused a fuel fire.

That said, if the ISIS video is real then why would someone be randomly photographing a passing jet at over 30,000 feet?   It's not as if the photographer heard something and began filming (since the speed of sound would prevent that anyway) or saw something and began filming (video shows a jet before a small explosion).  

These questions can probably be easily answered by analyzing the aircraft debris for explosive residue and performing autopsies on the victims.  Whether this analysis comes out anytime soon is another question entirely.  It may depend on the conclusion.  Lots at stake for Egypt, Russia, the airline, the victims' families, and perhaps regional security.   

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Classified Relativism

The NY Times has an interesting feature today on former diplomat Robin Raphel, charged last year with delivering classified information to Pakistan.  Why interesting?  Because, as the story notes, the case against Raphel has "fizzled".  Hmm, as the bloggers say.

The Times goes on to mention numerous figures on the right and left who've been involved in mishandling classified information--yes, even Hillary.  For some reason they forgot to mention "Obama's favorite general" Hoss Cartwright, a person of interest in leaking Stuxnet intelligence on Iran to the media.  At last check that had fizzled due to complexities with the Iran nuke deal or something. 

That aside, it's been well-reported that the Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers than all other administrations combined, mostly lower level folks.  The Times article notes that current FBI Director James Comey was a little upset with the Justice Department's deal with General Petraueus as they feared it might set precedence for future cases--indeed that's exactly what Raphel's defense team seems to be doing.  But who cares about Raphel, right?  How does this relate to anything else?     

The cynic might say this points in one direction--the Clinton server in Chappaqua.  The cynic might also say the left needs a way to dumb-down the severity of mishandling classified information with their leading 2016 hopeful in the situation she's in.  So, have the media point to the relativism of past prosecutions and make everything muddy with hopes the peeps can get past such peccadillos worthy of putting lesser luminaries in Leavenworth.  Is that what's going on here?   

By the way, in a previous mention here of Ms Raphel there was a link to this 1996 LA Times story.  It's truly one of those "must-reads" from the past that shines light on how messed up things got later.  A snip, emphasis added:
And a Taliban official, Shirmohammed Stanekzai, gave public assurances this week that under the Islamic militia's rule, this country will no longer serve as a training ground or haven for foreign extremists. "As the Islamic movement of Taliban, we don't want to interfere in others' affairs," Stanekzai said. "We don't want to send people to create problems in other countries."
If foreign terrorists fall into the Taliban's hands, he said, "we will punish them hard."
Such words--uttered at a news conference for the foreign media, which have flocked to Kabul since the Taliban captured this capital last Friday--will be sweet music for officials in Washington. Combating terrorism and the global trade in narcotics are leading items on the U.S. foreign policy agenda.
The current conspiracy theories are understandable, even plausible, given the great mystery that still shrouds the Taliban's rise and rapid advance. How did a ragtag force that emerged in late 1994 among Muslim religious students in the southern region of Kandahar and adjacent areas of Pakistan grow so quickly that two years later, it has become master of three-quarters of Afghanistan?
Who paid for its weaponry, ammunition and vehicles? Who organized its training and logistics? Is intelligence or military assistance received from outside one of the reasons the Taliban has enjoyed astonishing, and relatively bloodless, successes over experienced moujahedeen commanders who, for nearly a decade, fought occupying Soviet troops?
Generous support for the Taliban from Pakistan, which wants to pacify its war-racked neighbor for its own strategic and economic motives, has been well documented. But is Pakistan's powerful ally, the United States, also involved in some way? Many in Kabul believe so, though again, their proof is circumstantial.
Notice the LAT refers to it as a conspiracy theory, but who remembers hearing that the Clinton administration propped up the Taliban back before 9/11?  Surely Ms Raphel has a memory of it.  Maybe she has a book in her?   And maybe Robert Redford can do another "truth" movie about this whole thing... maybe get Valerie Plame to star as Ms Raphel.  If they get to work soon they can have it out right after Hillary gets the nomination.  

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Not Your Day..

Good Lord...

Aside from a cop driving around drunk, which is bad enough, they posted that picture with the headline.  Does he need any further punishment?