Now is no time to jump to careless conclusions

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2001

Airplanes crash. Sometimes the cause is mechanical failure. Sometimes it is bad weather, Sometimes it is pilot error. And sometimes, it is a terrorist attack.

On Monday, American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 with 246 passengers and nine crew members aboard, went down at 9:17 a.m. in clear, sunny weather in the waterfront neighborhood 15 miles from Manhattan.

Following the Sept. 11 airborne terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and New York City's World Trade Center, speculation that Monday's crash also resulted from a terrorist attack is unavoidable.

Yet, as a senior Bush administration official said, ''It's looking like it's not a terrorist attack.'' However, the official added, ''We can't reach a firm conclusion yet.''

... Until the responsible agencies find credible evidence to determine the cause, speculation is pointless. And potentially more harmful than that.

If panicky Americans believe, without any hard evidence, that terrorists brought down Flight 587, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, will win a victory -- perhaps by default.

-- The Muskogee (Okla.) Daily Phoenix & Times-Democrat

Nov. 1 2

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