Friday, December 25, 2009

Flight 253: Which Version Shall We Believe?

Is this just a matter of nuance?

The writers' spin in these two articles is so diametrically opposed, I had to double-check to confirm these reports relate to the same flight and incident (they do):

Passenger tried to blow up U.S. flight: Officials (Toronto Star)

A Northwest Airlines passenger landing in Detroit on Friday tried to blow up the flight but the explosive device failed, two U.S. national security officials said.
Passenger Sets Off Firecrackers on Flight to Detroit (New York Times)

A passenger aboard a plane at Detroit Metropolitan Airport set off firecrackers Friday, causing a commotion and some minor injuries, a Delta official said.

It's almost as if these two, early reports on this troubling incident were written by dueling speechwriters from the Bush and Obama administrations.

Who to believe?

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

Update:

The Times report has been changed. Associated Press now reports:

ROMULUS, Mich. – A Nigerian man who said he was an agent for al-Qaida tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane Friday as it was preparing to land in Detroit, but travelers who smelled smoke and heard what sounded like firecrackers rushed to subdue him, the passengers and federal officials said.

Flight 253 with 278 passengers and 11 crew members aboard was about 20 minutes from the airport when passengers heard popping noises, witnesses said. At least one person climbed over others and jumped on the man. Shortly afterward, the suspect was taken to the front of the plane with his pants cut off and his legs burned, a passenger said.

One U.S. intelligence official said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it.

"It sounded like a firecracker in a pillowcase," said Peter Smith, a traveler from the Netherlands. "First there was a pop, and then (there) was smoke."

- GJW

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