Tuesday, October 03, 2006
UPDATE 0912 PDT: AP is reporting that the plane was a Turkish Airlines flight from Tirana, Albania to Istanbul and has landed at Brindisi, Italy. A Turkish TV network is reporting that the hijackers are two Turks.
UPDATE 1108 PDT: The two Turks who hijacked the plane said they were protesting the Pope's upcoming visit to Turkey. They have begun releasing passengers and are prepared to surrender, according to this story.
UPDATE 1524 PDT: Now the story is that there is only one hijacker, not two, and that the hijacking had nothing to do with the Pope, but rather the hijacker was motivated by a desire not to be conscripted into the Turkish military--i.e., he is a draft dodger.
What I find interesting about this story is how it has evolved over the course of seven or eight hours. It took that long for people to find out what was really going on.
This is perhaps a microcosmic demonstration of the infamous "fog of war." The hijacking was a crisis situation, but it didn't come close to combat conditions, in which bullets are flying and bombs are exploding. Nonetheless, the media's appetite for information required that something be reported almost from the initial moments of the hijacking. The reports may have accurately reflected what the media were told, but they proved inaccurate. Hindsight almost always gives a clearer picture of what happened in any given incident, because the pressure of time is absent.
Compare this incident with the Haditha case, in which the lives of Marines were in jeopardy, in combat conditions, and they were expected to act on the basis of the information that they had available at the time. I don't know what happened in Haditha, but I am convinced that the "blind men and elephant" phenomenon (or the "Rashomon effect," if you prefer) will be fully operational. One big factor in Haditha is that much of the information that came to light in hindsight was provided by a so-called "journalism student" who could have a very large axe to grind. Thus in that case, hindsight might not be more accurate after all.
I am continually amazed at what high standards we impose on our military, and even more amazed, and proud, that the troops so consistently meet those standards.