all the stresses and trauma surrounding September 11, 2001,
followed by the anthrax attacks, followed by the war in
Afghanistan and Iraq, it was easy to forget the first attack
on America that occurred during the Bush Administration.
The first attack was on
April 1, 2001 - April Fool’s Day.
Commander Shane Osborne with a crew of 23 was flying an
EP-3E on a
reconnaissance mission over the South China Sea when a
Chinese military jet collided with them. They were
forced to make an emergency landing at a military base on
Hainan Island. By
crude estimation, the island is over 1600 miles from
Japan where the flight originated.
According to the pilot's
story, they were just
cruising along on auto pilot over
international waters on a standard flight path that had been
used for decades when the Communist Chinese jet clipped the
outside propeller of the EP-3E.
The Communist Chinese military held the crew for 11 days before releasing them. They would only release them after George Bush issued an apology for allowing the Chinese jet to collide with the relatively slow and bulky EP-3. They kept the airplane and gutted it of the state-of-the-art electronic equipment.
This was a hostile act by the Communist Chinese - but is there more to this story than most newspapers reported?
Question: Lt. Osborn, with regards to the emergency destruct plan. Were you able to destroy everything that needed to be destroyed?
Lt. Osborn: Can't get into that. We activated the emergency destruct plan well out, well off shore.
Question: How about on the ground?
Lt. Osborn:I don't want to talk about what happened on the ground. We were more interested in what they were going to do.
According to one article in the Taipei Times, the EP-3 was collecting information on a Chinese destroyer - a Russian-made Sovremenny-class destroyer.
This airplane and crew were on a six-month temporary assignment to Okinawa. Their permanent home base was Whidbey Island, WA.
Knowing the plane was loaded with state of the art electronic surveillance equipment, why didn't the pilot dump it in international waters?