VIDEO: Shoot-down Procedure for Hijacked Airliners

David Edwards
Published: Friday August 11, 2006

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CNN reports on claims that United States military is more prepared to deal with a plane seized by terrorists than before Sept. 11, 2001. In the past few years, several military fighters have been scrambled to intercept private planes that have wandered into protected airspace, the Pentagon claims. Confusion after 9/11 has led to new, more specific shoot-down procedures, which are managed by the military's Northern Command facility in Colorado. NorthCom has the ability to scramble fighter jets from any military base in the country and order a shoot-down if necessary. Before 9/11, it was not clear who had the ability to order the downing of a civilian flight.

CNN's security analyst, Clark Kent Ervin, says that shooting down a plane must be an option as long as terrorists continue to use airplanes as weapons of mass destruction. Ervin sees no alternative to the fact that sometimes civilian lives must be lost to protect more lives.

Some critics say that the current plan is too slow to intercept some private private jets and that the new plan has no way to deal humanitarian or political issues that might preempt a shoot-down. The President can also order a plane to be shot down but military analyst believe that requiring a presidential order would make the shoot-down plane completely ineffective.