There's evidence that we're getting over the natural anxiety that followed the terrorist attacks. The number of prescribed sleeping pills and tranquilizers, for example, is down. But that doesn't mean we've become complacent. ...
After boarding Flight 63 from Paris to Miami on Saturday, (Richard) Reid lighted a match, allegedly to ignite a makeshift bomb he had concealed in his high-top tennis shoes.
But he was quickly foiled by a new breed of heroes -- ordinary people who, when pressed, show extraordinary valor and selfless bravery. This new breed of heroes ... includes people like Hermis Moutardier, the American Airlines flight attendant who was quick to spot Reid lighting the match and then confront him. Moutardier called out for help and tried to extinguish Reid's shoes as he pushed and shoved her. ...
It's doubtful that the response would have been so quick or overwhelming before Sept. 11. The passengers and crew aboard Flight 63 were on the lookout for suspicious behavior, and they were prepared to act in the event that they saw it.
They were cautious but not afraid. If they were afraid, they wouldn't have been on that plane at all. ... They boarded the plane, got to work and cracked open novels. Only this time, chastened by a changed world, they kept one eye out for danger. ...
--Daily News of Los Angeles
The shocking drama aboard American Airlines flight 63 from Paris to Miami comes as a salutary reminder that the threat from international terrorism is undiminished. ... Whoever the would-be suicide turns out to be ... his attempt to annihilate himself and his fellow passengers shows that no one -- from governments to airport security officers to the traveling public -- can afford to relax. The extreme vigilance applied after 11 September must still be the order of the day. Flight 63 throws up much that is disturbing about the state of airline and airport security. American carriers might be expected to be particularly rigorous in their pre-boarding safety checks, yet there was apparently no additional security beyond that which is applied as standard by the French airport. ... While there are lengths to which airport security cannot go, it is reasonable to expect that, once a passenger starts to behave dangerously, the crew have the means to restrain him. ... If the lack of restraints and the delay in providing marshals is part of the commercial equation weighed by US airlines, they need to reorder their priorities as a matter of urgency. ... But there were consoling aspects as well ... There was a spirit of active solidarity and collective responsibility that defeated the suicide bomber. If security had been effective, passenger power would not have been needed; in the event, it was crucial.
--The Independent, London
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