- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Smoke and mirrors?
Last month, when a passenger failed to follow commands of the flight crew and remain in his seat of U.S. Airways Flight 969 on approach to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, he was immediately tackled by armed sky marshals and the plane was diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport.
The next day, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat who happened to be aboard the flight, went to the Senate floor to commend the sky marshals for having "responded quickly with what appeared to be a threat to those of us who were on the flight."
But Sunday on American Airlines Flight 684 from Miami into Reagan, Inside the Beltway has learned, there was apparently no sky marshal aboard, or else the armed officer dozed off.
"The passengers were horrified," says our source. "Several minutes after the pilot got on the loudspeaker and told the passengers they were required by law to remain in their seats until the plane landed, a man of Middle Eastern descent stood up and walked into the bathroom. And nobody did anything.
"It was unbelievable," says the source, whose husband is a recently retired commercial airline pilot. "There obviously was no air marshal on board, or else they didn't do anything. And the flight crew just sat there and did nothing. This is outrageous."
A short time later, as visibly anxious passengers looked on, the man emerged from the restroom and took his seat.
New Federal Aviation Administration rules in the wake of the September 11 terrorist hijackings require passengers to be seated 30 minutes prior to landing at Reagan the last major U.S. airport to reopen after the attacks due to its close proximity to Washington and its landmarks.
However, FAA spokesman Bill Schumann told Inside the Beltway yesterday that contrary to what many airline passengers might have assumed, air marshals are not necessarily on board every flight into and out of Reagan.
"We basically have not discussed numbers or deployment of air marshals," says Mr. Schumann. "We have never said that they are or are not on every flight into and out of Reagan."

Mitchell Plan
Foreign policy and military experts, politicians and humanitarians will lead a national symposium in Washington today on what is being described as a new Marshall Plan for preventing global conflict.
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and a panel of analysts will share insights and examine the results of a new Stanley Greenberg poll on new threats to security and the need for comprehensive approaches to international problem-solving.
Participants include retired Army Gen. George Joulwan, the former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe; former U.N. Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism Philip Wilcox; and Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth, assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs and current senior adviser to the Nuclear Threat Reduction Campaign.
Bobby Muller, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, and Ken Bacon, president of Refugees International, will also weigh in at the conflict symposium, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the J.W. Marriott Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

The least we can do
There is no worse time than when America troops are waging war against an enemy to tinker with Veterans Day.
Last August, the National Commission on Federal Election Reform (the "Ford Carter Commission") recommended combining Veterans Day with Election Day during even calendar years.
If that isn't enough tinkering, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, has introduced a bill to move Veterans Day Nov. 11 to Election Day during presidential election years.
Not so fast, says a majority of Congress.
The House has passed a resolution stating that Veterans Day should continue to be observed on Nov. 11, separate from any other federal holiday, day for federal elections, or national observances.
The resolution states that "maintaining Veterans Day as a legal holiday separate from all other federal holidays is the least that a grateful nation should do in recognition of its veterans."

Kemp for Senate?
"Since when do we raise taxes in a recession? This is the most irresponsible idea Senator Clinton has come up with since her attempt to nationalize America's health care system in 1993."
Former New York Republican Rep. Jack Kemp, co-director of Empower America, condemning Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's call for a tax increase on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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