Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

How Stupid Are They at the NY Times?

In David Stout's article on the report that al Qaeda may have originally had ten targets instead of just four, there is this paragraph:
Mr. Atta said he thought the White House would be too difficult a target, though it was not clear why. Better to hit the Capitol, Mr. Atta reportedly argued. "Atta selected a date after the first week of September so that the United States Congress would be in session," the report states.
Anybody who has ever visited Washington, or seen pictures, should know why the White House would be a much more difficult target than the Capitol (or the Pentagon or especially the WTC)--It is a much smaller building. It is surrounded by trees. There are much taller buildings on three sides of it. The only relatively open approach for a jet plane would be from the angle shown in this photograph

(Click here for larger image)

But that photo was taken from the top of the Washington Monument, meaning the hijacking pilot would have to maneuver around a 550-foot building and aim right down the middle between rows of trees to have any hope of doing more damage than just setting the Rose Garden on fire. In contrast, the Capitol is much larger, sits on a hill, is much farther from the Washington Monument, and the National Mall provides all the approach guidance any suicide hijacker could hope for:

(Click here for larger image)

Anyone who has ever played with a flight simulator program knows that precisely controlling altitude is much more difficult than steering left and right--if you don't know exactly how to balance the use of the throttle with the aerodynamic controls, you can easily overshoot or undershoot your intended landing point by a half-mile or more in a big jet. A target that sticks up well above its surroundings, like the Capitol or especially the WTC would be much easier to hit.

Really. A reporter who can't figure this stuff out has no business writing for the Crawford Republican, much less the New York Times.