Yesterday, we heard about Nicaragua's problems with maintaining control of its shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. Today as I was driving, I heard on WTAM that several communities near Hopkins Airport in Cleveland have complained so bitterly about jet noise that the government has responded with a web site ... where you can track passenger jets. That's right. According to WTAM, you can log on to a web site and make sure passenger jets are at their designated altitudes and in their correct flight corridors.
Now, assuming I heard the radio report correctly, am I the only one who sees a problem here? We've potentially got missing SA-7 surface-to-air missiles floating around on the black market, a new web site reveals location and altitude information for air traffic around a major international airport, and just up the road in the metro Detroit area there's a very large community of Muslims. Heck, we have our own home-grown terrorist fundraiser here in town (and don't tell me he's alone).
Hello? Is anybody home at the Department of Homeland Security?
I'll keep looking for a link to the aircraft tracking web site, which I've not found yet. Boy, I hope I'm mistaken.
UPDATE (12:02 PM): I just got off the phone with WTAM's news room. I've got good news and I've got bad news. The good news: I heard wrong ... there is no jet tracking web site. The bad news: Hopkins Airport is indeed putting such a web site together (according to WTAM). I've already left phone messages with Marty Flask, the Security Director at Hopkins, and with Laura Farmer (position unknown ... I got her number from the Media Relations Manager, Pat Smith, who didn't answer my question about the web site).
UPDATE (3:21 PM): Andrew Cochran of The Counterterrorism Blog just let me know that the Department of Defense has been chasing down Nicaraguan SAMs for two years already, which wasn't in the original story. That's reassuring, since I suppose that if the terrorists had a workable SAM they'd have used it somewhere by now (in Iraq or Afghanistan if not in America). The idea of the jet-tracking web site still sounds foolhardy, though.
UPDATE (9:16 PM): Just to clear up what might otherwise be murky in my hurried post, the government entity involved here is the airport itself, which is owned and run by the City of Cleveland (except security of course, which falls under the TSA). So far as I can determine, this web site idea is not a state or federal one. The feds ought to take notice of this, in my opinion, if it truly will allow detailed jet tracking online.
UPDATE (9:30 PM): Jeff Quinton has thoughts on a similar-sounding system he's seen before, and I sure hope what Hopkins has got planned is no more detailed than that.