US Air Bomb Hoax Involves Lots of Stupidity All Around

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Hey, you know what'd be a hilarious prank? Calling the airport to claim (falsely) that a specific traveler is trying to get liquid explosives past the TSA and onto a plane. If the plane has already left, they'll probably turn it around and arrest him when it lands! Ruining everybody's day for no reason at all! Hah! Hilarious!

This morning a US Air flight from Philadelphia to Dallas was indeed turned around after some jackass called in a fake bomb threat, a call that unlike most such calls named a specific person. The call was made about 7 a.m., but the plane had already left by the time the warning was passed on. The usual cast of thousands (all heavily armed) surrounded and boarded the plane after it landed back in Philly, extracted the suspect and searched him and his luggage. Ultimately they found nothing, and cleared the flight to proceed. "It was a hoax all the way through," an official said.

As to who the jackass caller was, there seem to be at least three theories. (1) Some sources report only that the investigation is still ongoing and that there is no confirmed information as to the caller's identity. Okay, I guess that's not a "theory" yet. (2) The Jalopnik blog, citing "a source on the ground" at the airport in Philly, is reporting that this was "a prank being played on a passenger for his birthday," which, again, hilarious! Your friend will never forget this birthday, that's for sure. (3) ABC News, however, is reporting that authorities "believe the person in custody"—that is, the passenger named by the caller—"issued the threat himself." I certainly hope that's true, because it would be totally inexplicable, but I'm guessing that ABC (or the police) are just wrong. The police spokesman in this video doesn't say anything about a theory that the alleged bomber reported himself ahead of time. Still, nothing is too stupid to be true, as we've seen over and over again.

Note that no one involved seems to have taken the position that, hey, nothing to worry about, because even if this is true he'll never get past the TSA with liquid explosives; that's a crack team on which we can safely rely. No one was detained by that thought for even a moment.

Also, note that the call came in "about 7 a.m.," and the information still had not been passed on by the time the plane departed at 7:39. That is, even though they had a specific name of a possible terrorist and so presumably knew the specific flight he would be on, it took over half an hour to get this information from a phone in the airport to another location in that same airport, by which time the plane was well on its way.

Nor does it appear that anyone thought, wow, you know what, this is probably a hoax, and calling the plane back now really wouldn't do any good anyway. If the guy does have a bomb, he'll just set it off when he sees the plane turning around. If he doesn't, we're ruining everybody's day for nothing. There's no need to worry about him taking over and crashing the plane into something, because if he uses the bomb to blow the cockpit door open then that's pretty much a done deal. So why doesn't somebody just meet the plane when it lands and we'll check things out then?

Nope, bring it back here and let's send in a heavily armed SWAT team. What could go wrong?

At least there is (so far) no evidence that they scrambled fighters to escort the plane back, as they sometimes do "out of an abundance of caution," such as in this case when a non-white person allegedly spent too long in the bathroom. Hey, can't be too careful!

Yes you can.