Friday, September 11, 2009

Coast Guard Causes Panic With Potomac Excercise

EVEN THE SECRET SERVICE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING. Panic set in as the U.S. Coast Guard's staged a training excercise on the Potomac River, spitting distance from the Pentagon, on the 8th Anniversary of September 11. Thousands of workers in the Pentagon tuned into CNN to watch what was initially believed to be a real challenge by the Coast Guard to a civilian boat that had breached a restricted area of the river. Hundreds of thousands of Americans heard the news alerts of Coast Guard boats "firing shots at a suspicious boat on the Potomac" this morning. On any other day that would cause concern, but on September 11 it caused much anxiety. A lack of communication by the Coast Guard with other law enforcement agencies help fuel the confusion. reports that "A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said federal agents scrambled to the river scene after the initial reports, because the local FBI office had not been told ahead of time about the exercise. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the incident." The local police were not informed either, reports "Gwendolyn Crump, spokesperson for DC Police, tells 9NEWS NOW they have been notified of the drill by the Coast Guard. Crump says they were not notified of the drill before it occurred." WUSA9 also reports that the confusion and resulting fear caused departures from nearby Reagan National Airport to be delayed from 10:08 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. according to FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere. NBC Washington reports that "Coast Guard spokesman John Edwards told the Associated Press that references to shots fired were picked up in radio chatter. As part of its exercise Friday, the Coast Guard aired simulated instructions to participants to fire 10 rounds. The Coast Guard conducts this sort of training everyday, according to the AP. The training had nothing to do with the 9/11 anniversary, Edwards told the AP." Okay, but couldn't they have taken a one-day break on this significant date? Or, perhaps, couldn't the Coast Guard have moved that excercise way down the river, where it would not have cause unnecessary stress for tens of thousands of local residents and workers? At approximately 10:35 a.m. (EDT), CNN and MSNBC finally learned that it was a drill, just an excercise. One of the CNN talking heads called it "felony stupidity" to have conducted such an excercise on this day without first alerting the media. She's right, and she was also right to suggest that the Coast Guard should apologize. They caused unnecessary stress and fear among a lot of Americans this morning, not just among 20,000 workers at the Pentagon, but across the nation and, indeed, around the world. You've not heard the last of this. There will be demands for explanations and for an apology from lawmakers in D.C. The media will mock the Coast Guard leadership for its bad judgement. Homeland Security's role in this will also be questioned. Keep an eye on this story. COVERAGE: Washington Boat Sparks 9/11 Security Scare - ABC News Potomac security threat merely an exercise, police say - CNN Coast Guard training exercise on Potomac raises security scare - USA Today Coast Guard Training Exercise on Potomac Raises Sept. 11 Fears - Bloomberg Reports of Washington coastguard firing on boat dismissed - US coast guards fire at ship in Washington on 9/11 anniversary - Xinhua (China) Cool Hats & Shirts for Cool Conservatives Leave a Comment... Chicago News Bench RSS Feed We're on Twitter...