Failing to Learn the Lessons of United 93:

Prominent columnist Michael Kinsley writes:

So, what's the lesson [of United 93]? Is it to defy authority and follow your own instincts in an emergency? If so, we haven't learned it. For a while after 9/11 there was talk of changing the official policy regarding hijackings and to start encouraging the passengers to whack the hijackers with their pillows, and so on.... But today, airline passengers are still told at the start of every flight that in an emergency they should remain calm and follow instructions from anyone in a uniform....

Poking around the Web, I stumbled across the official "Hijacking Survival Guidelines" for employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They say, "Stay calm and encourage others around you to do the same. Do not challenge the hijackers physically or verbally. Comply with their instructions. Do not struggle...."

So the U.S. government is kicking in millions of dollars for a memorial to the heroes of United 93. But meanwhile it is officially encouraging people not to do what these heroes did, should the occasion arise.

Should another hijacking occur, I think many passengers are likely to resist the terrorists regardless of what government bureaucrats might say. Flight 93 has entered the popular consciousness in a much more powerful way than any government-issued instructions could. Still, it is deeply troubling that the homeland security bureaucracy can't get this relatively simple issue right. If they can't even learn the most obvious lessons of the last major terrorist attack, I highly doubt that they can effectively prepare for the next one.

Steve Lubet (mail):
Kinsley makes an interesting point (several of them), but the real question is about the crews' new training and instructions. Cockpit doors are now secured, so there is much less likelihood of hijackers taking over the pilot's seat, especially if crews are now instructed to resist such efforts. If crews are indeed going to engage in active resistance, then it might continue to make sense for passengers to remain seated. Imagine, for example, that a pilot is going to put the plane into a dive in order to knock hijackers off their feet. You would certainly want the passengers to be belted for their own safety.
5.13.2006 5:15pm
Joe7 (mail):
What Steve points out is critical. An oft overlooked fact is that had the cockpit doors simply been kept shut on 9/11 (never mind reinforced) none of the crashes would have occurred.
5.13.2006 5:43pm
Bottomfish (mail):
Government instruction books are generally designed for everybody, especially people at the lowest level: Surviving Terrorism for the Complete Idiot. For such people the best advice probably is to stay calm and not do anything. There will always be others who will develop, on their own, some idea of what to do, and they may well be right. They have a sense (made of a mixture of intelligence and character) of when it is best to go by the rules and when not. There are no rules that can tell you when not to obey the rules. Bottomfish might be a complete idiot or he might not.
5.13.2006 5:46pm
Ilya Somin:
It may make sense for passengers to stay put if pilots are going to engage in certain specific types of resistance. But that is very different from saying that the passengers should always remain put and cooperate with the terrorists as much as possible.

I also disagree with the statement that the government manuals are good advice for ordinary people and "people at the lowest lowel." As Kinsley points out:

Don't try this at home" might be a sensible policy if the United 93 passengers had been specially selected or trained. But they were an utterly random collection of Americans, just like you or me or the employees of the Ag Department. If they are heroes, why are we being told not to do what they did?

Finally, people at the "lowest level" and "complete idiots" might benefit most from a set of guidelines that instruct people on how to resist and refuse cooperation.
5.13.2006 6:08pm
Grant Jones (mail) (www):
How typical of our paternalistic government and "liberals" like Kinsley to maintain one has a duty to be a victim. Remain calm until the Jihadi cuts your throat or dial "911" and wait for the police to arrive. If they get to you late, enjoy being a statistic.
5.13.2006 6:37pm
I just know that after Flight 93, all the ordinary hijackers were in a panic. "No, really. I just want to fly to Cuba! Honest! No! No! Aargh!"
5.13.2006 6:44pm
jasmindad (mail):
Grant Jones: next time read with your reading classes on. In this case, it is the "liberal," Kinsley, who is objecting to the government's advise not to resist, and the conservatives such as those whom Bush apppinted to run TSA who are advising passengers not to resist.
5.13.2006 6:49pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):

It isn't clear that these sorts of instructions should be written to cover every extreme case. Most people have a good sense of when the standard procedure has broken down and isn't working and thus will know when it is time to ignore the rules and attack the hijackers anyway. However, if the rules encourage active resistance there is a serious risk of macho passengers jumping up from their seats and obstructing the line of fire for air marshals. Also there very well may be additional lines of defense the average passanger is unaware of.

Quite simply no explicit set of rules is going to be as effective as just saying stay calm and in your seats and letting people use their common sense to realize that standard procedures have failed.

I don't see this as much different than having a fire extigusher say on the side, 'never point at someone's face' rather than saying, 'only point at someone's face if they are threatening your life and this is your only means of defense.'
5.13.2006 6:57pm
David W. Hess (mail):
I am keeping this post as simple as possible so much is left unsaid including the parallels with CCW laws, hostage situations, and the choices of the WTC employees.

Consider the four flights. Three of them reached targets and the fourth did not. Why? Did the air force destroy it? Did the FBI detain the hijackers before boarding? Did CIA provide intelligence preventing the hijackers from entering the country? Did anything the government do cause it not reach its target?

The fourth flight was brought down by citizens not otherwise organized in any formal way. It was brought down by the militia. That is the militia in the original constitutional sense whose training over the past decades consisted of remain calm and obey authority.

So why did they act? Look at the game theory. Here I am going to ignore the choices made at an individual level for brevity and consider the passengers as a group which cannot be done in the case of workers in the WTC before collapse. Each plane's passengers had 3 basic choices:

1. Follow orders.
2. Revolt.
3. Make no choice.

Option 3 in this case is the same as following orders although it is not always so. For decades people have been taught in hijackings to follow orders or they are likely to be killed. In this case, the people on plane four had outside knowledge that doing so was likely to get them killed anyway so attempting to gain control of the plane is more attractive to ensure survival then any other option available to them. This goes against literally a lifetime of being taught otherwise. In my eyes, they are doubly heroes.

Our response has been to create the DHS with various minor adjustments to other agencies and curtail enumerated and unenumerated rights. The citizens making up the militia are still taught the same things which allowed three of the flights to reach their targets despite the fact that they were directly responsible for preventing one of the planes from reaching its target.

By definition the unexpected can not be prepared for. There is a place for individuals alone or in groups to take decisive action when facing the unexpected and we are artificially limiting their abilities and options.
5.13.2006 7:02pm
The Drill SGT (mail):
A couple of points:

1. Post 9/11 cockpit doors are reinforced.

2. No pilot is EVER going to open the door in an uncertain environment, or to save th life of a Stew, etc.

3. Some pilots are armed and for those that aren't, I'll bet that the co-pilot is prepared to defend the door with the fire axe found in the cockpit.

4. I'll bet all are prepared to toss the plane around while they find a place to put it on the ground.

5. I'll also bet that they are prepared to order passengers to rush the hijackers.

Having said that, from Richard Reid on, and more recently, some crazy guy over Colorado, passengers have swamped folks that looked like they might be hijackers or crazies.

As somebody said regarding the folks on United 93, and could be applied to the rest of the flying public...

They were a PACK, not a herd.
5.13.2006 7:12pm
Grant Jones (mail) (www):
Jasminded, Oops my bad. My prescription must be over ten-years-old.

However, I'm still disgusted that the government, at all levels and regardless of which party is in power, expects the American people to behave as helpless victims.
5.13.2006 7:15pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
I'm willing to bet that the Ag. Dept. guide hasn't been updated since 9/11. Or, if the guide has, the html version of it hasn't. Having worked for the gov't for 25 years, I think this smells more of a lack of updating than lack of courage.
5.13.2006 7:51pm
Waldensian (mail):
This is a total non-story. Whatever some dipstick government publication may say to employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (!), the obvious fact is that 9/11 copycat hijackers will certainly face desperate and homicidal business travelers, reinforced cockpit doors, and (quite possibly) gun-wielding flight crew.

Incidentally, the idea that an airliner flight crew can "throw the plane around" to disable hijackers is not so simple. Modern airliners are tough critters, but they aren't designed for significant aerobatics -- "throwing one around" turns airline pilots into test pilots and is a very definite risk to the belted passengers. The innocent passengers may cheer to see terrorists thrown to the floor, but will be less happy when the wings come off.

Perhaps airline pilots are now trained to engage in such maneuvers in a way that stays within the airliners' design limits. Seems like that would be a good idea. I just don't know.

Incidentally, the airliners that hit the WTC -- and particularly the second one, moving at an estimated 503 mph -- were in some danger of disintegrating before impact, because of the aerodynamic stresses caused by high speed at low altitude.

5.13.2006 7:52pm
Humble Law Student:
I'm glad the manual tells people to sit still. Because the ones who you want to make a fight, are the ones who will ignore the recommendation to stay put. The ones who listen are prolly the ones you don't want getting in the way.
5.13.2006 8:08pm
Tareeq (www):
Is Kinsley at all distressed that the Department of Agriculture paid someone to write hijacking survival guidelines? Or that they paid someone to dump them on to a website? Though my job requires travel, I've managed to muddle through without needing such guidelines. I'm sure employees of the USDA can continue to grade meat without them too.

I suppose I should be happy USDA didn't call in a consultant to update its hijacking guidelines after 2001.

Speaking as a pencil-necked coward, I'm confident that I would still make the effort to kill a hijacker without guidelines. I have complete confidence my fellow Americans in the USDA would do the same, even if the obviously pre-9/11 manual advises something else.
5.13.2006 8:21pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Modern airliners are tough critters, but they aren't designed for significant aerobatics

Boeing's chief test pilot did a barrel roll in a 707 many years ago; I think there is footage of it on the web. There was also a China Airlines 747-200 that nearly nose-dived into the Pacific Ocean a few years ago before recovering successfully...
5.13.2006 8:42pm
Chris of MM (mail) (www):
I don't see anything wrong with capable passengers taking things into their own hands, especially in the era of reinforced cockpit doors, but how the hell is that the lesson of Flight 93? In Flight 93, attacking the hijackers resulted in the plane going into the ground. Sure, it would probably have gone down anyway, and the passengers' actions may have prevented more deaths, but I'd be surprised to find that many VC readers are utilitarians (that would certainly imply that the commenters on this post comprise an entirely different population than the commenters on the Rand posts a few weeks ago). It seems to me that the main lesson from Flight 93, and the other hijacked flights, has been learned by the government and the airlines: don't let anyone into the cockpit, no matter what they threaten to do outside of the cockpit. If a flight taught that passenger resistance is important, it was the Richard Reid flight, but not Flight 93.
5.13.2006 9:13pm
BobVDV (mail):
Tareeq got it right. I'm most distressed at the idea that someone is being paid to write hijacking survival instructions for the Department of Agriculture. Does DOL have guidelines that say "resist unless the hijackers have a petition signed by 20% of the flight attendants? Does State have different guidelines (try diplomacy first)? How about the Dept. of Education - no hijacker left behind?
5.13.2006 9:19pm
The Drill SGT (mail):
As The River said:

Tex Johnson was the chief test pilot for Boeing in 1955 during the tests of the Boeing 707. To understand the environmemnt, the Britsh Comet had been the first commercial jet passenger plane. However it developed skin metal fatigue and several disappeared over the Atlantic before it was grounded. The 707 was the second plane. The CEO of Boeing asked Tex to show it off for an aviation convention and the big hydroplane races on Lake Washington. With 500,000 people watching, Tex rolled a 707 prototype 360 degrees. The CEO and the fans were shocked. When asked by the CEO, "what the hell did he think he was doing", Tex replied, "Selling airplanes".. The rest is history. Jet aviation continued.

Here is the link to the footage
5.13.2006 9:22pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
In 1892 members of the Dalton Gang decided to rob two banks in Coffeyville Kansas. Unfortunately for Grat, Emmett, Bob, Bill and Dick, the citizens of Coffeyville weren't about to let them do that and killed all but one of the would-be robbers in a ferocious gun battle that lasted 15 minutes (a really long time for a shoot out). Four citizens were killed. Note how much this picture of a small western town differs from the movie "High Noon."

In 1964 the citizens living in the Kew Gardens (Queens) housing complex passively watched Kitty Genovese get knifed to death. This was the version of the incident that got reported by the New York Times and has been the subject of dispute. Whether it happened exactly this way is not important, because most New Yorkers had no trouble believing it. They were used to being counseled to be passive. I remember hearing that City College Coeds were encouraged by their school to be passive during a rape. "Don't resist, just lie back and enjoyed as best you can." I really don't believe this story either, but it does illustrate the spirit of the time.

About 20 years after Kew Gardens, Bernard Goetz would find that counsel had become mandate. For resisting a robbery attempt (on a New York Subway train) by shooting his would-be predators, Goetz was tried, but acquitted of attempted murder. He also had to face a civil action brought by the Communist lawyer William Kunstler on behalf Vincent Cabey, of one of the thugs that Goetz shot. My using the word "thugs" is not mere hyperbole because all four men who tried to attack Goetz had criminal records with ten outstanding bench warrants against them. Cabey in particular had been collared for armed robbery. It's worth noting that after the subway shooting, three of the predators were later convicted of serious crimes including rape (with sodomy) and robbery. Cabey's criminal career was over because he was paralyzed. It's also worth noting that the New York liberal establishment jumped on Goetz with all the vigor it could muster.

I think these three tales are icons for the changes in American attitudes towards personal resistance to attack. Now United 93 might mean we will come full circle, perhaps back to the spirit of Coffeyville.
5.13.2006 9:32pm
TomHynes (mail):
Suppose there were two airlines: one that encouraged all law abiding passengers to carry firearms onboard, and one that followed normal screening. As a passenger, which would you choose? As a hijacker?
5.13.2006 9:59pm
Waldensian (mail):
Tex Johnson's barrel roll in the 707 proves my point, actually. The reason he did a barrel roll is that a properly performed barrel roll is a constant 1G manuever. Perfect for an airliner that.... isn't designed for aerobatics.

A barrel roll wouldn't knock a terrorist to his knees. On the contrary, the terrorist could actually pour a glass of tea during the experience:
5.13.2006 10:03pm
The Drill SGT (mail):
On the other hand you can porpoise 747 without causing much structural stress and at the same time, spread a jacker across the ceiling. :)

If Jackers have control of the passenger section and are ramming a cart into the cockpit door, some maneuvers and a call for help while you look for the nearest 4000 feet of flat spot (runway) seems reasonable in these post 9/11 times.
5.13.2006 10:12pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
The barrell roll is a bad example because the plain never knows it's upside down.

But, does anyone know what sort of plane the "vomit comet" is? (They use it for astronaut training: a zero-g environment for a short time). It must be a big airliner, and that sort of manuver would make hijacking a lot tougher.
5.13.2006 11:04pm
r4d20 (mail):
It is VITALLY important to engage them before they have you in a position of control. Every minute makes fighting back harder and less likely to succeed.
5.13.2006 11:08pm
r4d20 (mail):
This isn't Rambo shit-talking either. The terrorists also learned from 9/11. If they try that again they will almost certainly NOT simply let the passangers hang around unmonitored where they can freely communicate to hatch a plan. They will separate the people into isolated groups and probably restrain people - plastic zipper-cuffs are perfectly legal and can be brought openly on a plane. Once that happens the odds of successful resistance drop DRAMATICALLY.
5.13.2006 11:12pm
The Drill SGT (mail):
The Vomit Comet was a 707.
5.13.2006 11:13pm
r4d20 (mail):

In Flight 93, attacking the hijackers resulted in the plane going into the ground.

I just got back from a memorial for a family friend who died because he was in the 0.5% who had a degenmerative, eventually fatal, reaction to a heart medicine. He didnt even get to see his daughter graduate High School later this month, but he always said "you play the hand you are dealt". Hell, by the time I was 23 I had already lost two friends to car accidents. Playing it safe is no garauntee of a long life.

I don't know what I would do in the event. Obviously there is a chance I'd completely fail to act as I talk and have to live my life knowing I wussed out when the chips were down. Also, it would mean taking responsibility for the lives of those around you. Anyone who chooses to fight, and put others at risk (possibly without their permission) is thereby OBLIGATED to put their safety and lives above his own. Americans should shower scorn on anyone who starts the fight only to leave the others behind and escape with their own life when they first get a chance. Such a person is WORSE than one who chooses not to fight at all.
5.13.2006 11:31pm
Barry P. (mail):
Drill Sarge:

One detail of your Comet story are a little bit off: there were not "several disappearances over the Atlantic". One Comet crashed shortly after take-off in Calcutta, and two others crashed in Italy in 1953 and 54. After the third crash the fleet was grounded. It came back into service in 1958 as the Comet 4, with round windows. The same basic supersturcture is still flying today as the BAE Nimrod, the RAF's main recon and ELINT vehicle.
5.14.2006 1:22am
r4d20 (mail):

However, it occurs to me that the presence of Air Marshalls complicates things. It would suck to start fighting and get shot by an American who couldn't tell who was the real terrorist - which, given the imaginable chaos, could be understandable.
5.14.2006 1:46am
Kinsley conveniently skipped over the following paragraph.

"The guidance below focuses on avoiding violence and achieving a peaceful resolution to a hijacking. This guidance was developed prior to September 11, 2001 when two hijacked airliners were flown into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. Since then, there has been considerable public discussion of a more active and aggressive reaction to the initial announcement that a plane is being hijacked. As of this writing, the U.S. Government has not developed new guidelines for how to react to a hijacking. The appropriate reaction may depend upon the presumed purpose of the hijacking -- the hijackers' goal a suicide mission to use the airplane itself as a bomb, take hostages to gain publicity for a political movement, or a simple desire to escape to another country."
5.14.2006 4:21am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
The next 9-11 style attacts will probably come from Egypt Air or one of the other Arab carriers that routinely fly into JFK,Dulles,etc. The terrorists won't have to break into the cockpit at all, they'll already be there. I'm especially worried about the flights leaving the U.S. because they tend to have more Americans going on vacation trips and the jets are fully loaded with fuel.
5.14.2006 8:54am
Bottomfish (mail):
Any rules telling airline passengers how to deal with hijackers are by definition public. Future hijackers will read the rules and design strategies to get around them, and passengers will not know what these strategies are. But resourceful passengers can still make their own judgments and at least prevent the greater evil, as seems to be the case with United 93 where at least the hijackers didn't get the chance to crash the White House.
5.14.2006 9:28am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
My suggestion for boarding security, on 9/12, was they ask you if you have a weapon, and if you don't, they give you one.

Hunting knives in every seat pocket.
5.14.2006 9:38am
Waldensian (mail):
The Vomit Comet flies a parabolic trajectory to get basically zero g. I suspect just about any airliner could do the same -- I know for a fact you can do it in a Cessna 152 -- but this is hardly a maneuver that would stop determined hijackers. They would just have to hang on to their weapons. Or perhaps use them in midair!!

My original point was a small one: airliners are not well suited to the kind of violent maneuvering that would be necessary to incapacitate terrorists. Your car would be a much better venue for that. Tex Johnson's barrel roll, and the Vomit Comet, certainly don't indicate otherwise. These are exceedingly gentle maneuvers.

It's possible airline pilots have been trained to conduct anti-terrorist maneuvers within the airplanes' structural limits. But I would have loved to have sat in on the meeting with the insurance company before they actually practiced them.

By the way, I strongly suspect that you cannot "porpoise" a 747 in a manner sufficient to "spread a hijacker across the ceiling" without imposing significant and potentially dangerous structural stress. Probably the last thing you want in a big airliner is oscillations like that. The safety factors associated with large control surface deflections are generally based on deflecting the surface ONCE, not back and forth repeatedly. The latter is an entirely different structural ball game, and it's probably much more dicey the bigger and faster the aircraft gets.

But I don't fly the big stuff, so I could be wrong about this. I'll ask a guy I know who does.
5.14.2006 10:08am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Perhaps apocryphal, but there are stories of a 747 having successfully performed a loop during test flights.
5.14.2006 10:50am
Jeff_M (mail):
As a former US Airways airline pilot active on 9/11 but not today (market forces at work) and before that a USAF fighter pilot, I must throw in my two cents.

1) Every bit of official guidance to airline pilots is vetted by the FAA, the general council of the airline (a large corporation accountable to stockholders), and large insurance companies. If you think these 3 are going to officially sanction some wild maneuvers to counter a highjackering, you're watching too much TV. Of course, just as the flight 93 passengers eventually did, thinking for yourself will be the best course of action in such a situation.

2) Many, if not most airline pilots have zero experience with aerobatics, high performance maneuvering, or max-performing any airplane, let alone a very large one. It's still not part of the mandatory training and probably never will be (see #1), though in my opinion it would save some lives, though not many. Few accidents would be prevented by it, but some might be (e.g. US Airways Flt 427, American Flight 587).

3) The percentage of US domestic flights today with either armed crewmembers or air marshals is probably still very small (less than 10% I'd wager). I'm certain data on that is (properly) not available, but that's my sense.

4) Cockpit doors prior to 9/11 were very flimsy affairs that in fact had large blowout panels designed to blow into the cockpit should a rapid decompression occur from a broken cockpit window. While they did lock, they would not have kept anyone out for long, though the fire ax has always been an available defensive weapon in there.

5) None of the cockpit crews resisted on 9/11. Why? Prior to then, highjackings in the US were either some whack job wanting publicity for some cause or a free ride somewhere, or an extortion attempt. Official guidance reflected the fact that everyone was safer on balance if they did not resist but in fact tried to keep the situation as non-confrontational as possible. Suicide missions were never really considered. Our world changed forever on that day.

6) While it's comforting to imagine that no pilot is going to open the door during a cabin emergency today, the reality is there are many couples flying around with one in the cockpit and the other in the back.

7) Finally, we're fighting the last war. Smart terrorists (and nothing they've done makes me think they are not smart) are going to move on to greener pastures. I can think of at nearly countless ways to accomplish similar results. We're a relatively free society, and thus we are going to be more vulnerable to terrorists than a less free one. That's a tradeoff I'm willing to make.
5.14.2006 11:06am
Joe7 (mail):
RE: Cockpit doors
Solution: Follow El Al's example

The pilot locks the cockpit door before passengers board and unlocks it only after they disembark.

I don't know what the punishment is for violation of this policy, but I'd make it a felony, a permanent loss of the pilot's license (if the violator was a pilot) and a life ban from flying any aircraft in the United States.

(Surely, I am not the only one who was disturbed by how lax cockpit procedures were before 9/11. The worse for me was a late night flight from LA to SLC in the late 90s--during the trip, the cockpit crew left the door open and chatted with a stewardess. It really ticked me off.)
5.14.2006 3:30pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
The only time I saw an open cockpit was on a flight from Pisa, Italy to Milan. I happened to be a row 1 and was fascinated by it. It never occured to me anything might happen.

By the way, 9/11 was a one-trick pony. No one will sit there and put up with anything. Just take a look at the list of cranks who have had their, er, butts kicked for acting up.
5.14.2006 6:47pm
M E Hoffer:
I'm somewhat surprised by the number of posters who are surprised that USDA has their own "terrorist survival" manuals. The FedGov is like a "Reverse-Mushroom"-economy: We're fed the manure(about it), and it grows, larger and largely, in the dark. Y'all should go down to your local government outpost, believe me, it isn't that far away, and check out the titles of the periodicals, that you'll never see on a Newstand, that they receive.

For some bright folks, y'all aren't paying much attention to an organism that is already consuming 40+% of its host.
5.14.2006 8:01pm
Dick King:
Yeah, I like the idea of hunting knives in the seat pockets.

You would have to walk through metal detectors on the way out of the aircraft. The airline wouldn't want people stealing all of their titanium hunting knives [every ounce counts on an airliner].

5.15.2006 1:45am
johnt (mail):
Yer guvmint in action, so to speak. Did you hear the one about the ID card for DOT federal employee's? They've been working on it for close to four years, for an id card! Now let's not challenge them or ask too much of dedicated civil servants and appointee's. The NY Times had the story, the same paper that can't stop calling for more and larger federal programs.
Regarding the USDA survival manuals,[ USDA leads the way in war against terror!], the Food and Drug Admin. used to have their own SWAT teams, why not everbody else does. After some botched raids on legal and public drug stores,were the aspirins stocked with the laxatives, it seemed to go away. With it all people appear to want more of this.
5.15.2006 9:07am
Mark Hagerman (mail):

Suppose there were two airlines: one that encouraged all law abiding passengers to carry firearms onboard, and one that followed normal screening. As a passenger, which would you choose? As a hijacker?

The one that encourages personal weapons, of course.
5.15.2006 3:15pm
Tony (mail):
It seems to me that the moral thing to do when confronted with crimes of this magnitude is to always cut off one's nose to spite one's face. In this case, it means a policy of making life as bad as possible for hijackers no matter what the consequences. Even if the plane crashed because of passenger resistance, that would be the appropriate thing to do.

I might even go so far as to say that the plane should be crashed deliberately if the hijackers demands could not otherwise be frustrated - harsh, yes, but hijacking would certainly cease if that were the prevailing ethic, and lives would be saved in the long run.
5.15.2006 3:44pm
markm (mail):
"In Flight 93, attacking the hijackers resulted in the plane going into the ground."

No, waiting until the hijackers had control of the cockpit before taking them on resulted in the plane going into the ground. If the passengers had jumped on them when they first started slashing with those silly little knives, the pilots would never have been interfered with, 20-40 passengers would have needed a few stitches each after landing, and the airline would have had to cut the carpet out of the airplane and stuff it in body bags.
5.15.2006 8:00pm