U.S. Air Force pilots are ready to shoot down civilian airliners if there's another 9/11-style attack, Reuters reports."We practice it several times a week. Sometimes we practice three or four times a week -- the connectivity and having pilots airborne and go through mock exercises," Air Force Gen. Ralph Eberhart, the chief of the U.S. military's Northern Command, says.He adds that "pilots and ground controllers were screened to make sure they would not refuse an order to shoot down a suspicious airliner packed with civilians such as the hijacked jets that crashed into the World Trade Center."THERE'S MORE: Defense Tech reader JMW says shooting down a commerical plane would violate several international conventions.
Any such act is forbidden to anyone in military service by the Geneva 1949 Treaty on rules of warfare, as approved by the United States.Article 33 reads, "No protected person may be punished for an offence heor she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."According to Article 3, protected persons include "Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms".Don't these passengers have a right to live? Hague IV of 1907 (Article 23 says, "It is expressly forbidden . . . To declare abolished, suspended, or inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party."Notice that there is no mention of whether such nationals are combatants or not.So our own citizens are lower than enemy troops? Less valuable than enemy spies?Why do we keep getting collective punishments from this administration? At Guantanamo (Taliban soldiers), in Iraq (US and UK soldiers), and now civilians in the air over the United States? What is it that Mr. Bush does not understand about facts or individual responsibility?AND MORE: "Excuse me, but isn't it crushingly obvious that every passenger on those aircraft are dead at any time the people in control decide to crash the plane? And isn't it just as clear that they're going to die anyway, since that's the whole point behind a '9/11-style attack?'" James Rummel asks."JMW asks if the people on the aircraft have a right to live. It's obvious that any such right is going to be violated by the very terrorists who have taken over control of the cockpit. Why isn't he concerned for the thousands of people on the ground who might lose their lives if nothing is done?"AND MORE: "There are at least a dozen recent cases of hijacking in which the passengers have overcome the hijackers," JMW repsonds."The NY towers were admittedly designed poorly and were uniquely vulnerable to collapse. It is extremely unlikely that we ever will sit around for an hour again, or sent firefighters to their deaths again that way. So, deaths of 'thousands,' or even hundreds, is an exaggeration caused by fear and the wish to 'do something,' even something despicable, about terrorism."