- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 29, 2001

Nobles: The passengers and flight crew aboard American Airlines Flight 63, who did what the official airport security apparatus of France apparently could not and thereby prevented their aircraft from being blown to bits last Saturday by a would-be terrorist.
It was they who first noticed Richard Colvin Reid attempting to ignite a homemade plastic explosive device concealed in his shoe; it was they who wrestled the hulking 220-lb. man intent on killing all aboard to the floor and tied him up with belts and other improvised restraints. When a flight attendant sounded the alarm "Help me! I need some big guys over here to help me," she reportedly cried several men onboard sprang into action, including professional basketball player Kwame James. They quickly subdued Reid, and the plane was able to land without further incident at Boston's Logan Airport. Without their firm and timely action none of it pre-planned, and undertaken by ordinary folks with no security training who were just trying to get to their destination it is entirely likely that the former convict and convert to radical Islam would have succeeded in his mission, and another tragedy would have occurred. For their courage and quick thinking, the passengers and flight crew of American Airlines Flight 63 deserve plaudits and have earned the title of Nobles for this week.
Knaves: The embarrassingly inept "airport security" personnel and procedures in place at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport, which failed to prevent a plainly suspicious would-be terrorist from boarding American Airlines Flight 63. Reid not only showed up for the Paris to Miami flight with a just-issued passport, a one-way ticket, minimal baggage and a very fishy appearance enough to warrant a thorough once-over at the very least given the events of September 11 he was actually given clearance to board after having been turned away at first precisely because of his suspicious trappings and demeanor. Yet nothing had changed to allay these legitimate suspicions; the airport authorities shrugged their shoulders and effectively said "go right ahead. Have a nice trip." If this appalling lapse is an indication of the state of airport security in France, to say that something must be done is easily the understatement of the year.
In the case of Flight 63, had Reid used a lighter rather than a match the smell of which caught the attention of a stewardess and led to the gallant effort by passengers to subdue him it's probable that the bomb would have been successfully ignited and the aircraft destroyed, killing all aboard. Reid's stupidity does nothing to efface the culpability of French authorities who easily deserve the dubious honor of being this week's Knaves.

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