Congress enters the missing plane theory game

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Theories surrounding the who, what, where and why of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continue to pile up more than a week after the plane’s disappearance, with even Congress jumping into what will likely be known as the definitive conspiracy theory of 2014.

“It could be used later on as a cruise missile, as the 9/11 hijackers did,” House Homeland Security Committee chair and Texas Republican Rep. Mike McCaul said on Fox Sunday, National Journal reports. “That’s something we have to use our imagination in these situations.”

McCaul’s theory centers around the plane avoiding areas with constant sensitive radar and landing somewhere around Indonesia or Australia, where it would be outfitted as a makeshift weapon.

“What would be the purpose behind crashing it into the ocean?” McCaul said during a Monday follow-up report on Fox Monday. “[I]t could have landed somewhere, filled with explosives and then sent somewhere else to cause some great damage.”

To pursue that line of investigation, McCaul argues, investigators should turn their attention to the pilots.

“I think from all the information I’ve been briefed on from, you know, high levels within Homeland Security, National Counterterrorism Center, intelligence community, that something was going on with the pilot,” McCaul said. “I think this all leads towards the cockpit, with the pilot himself, and copilot.”

Fellow Homeland Security Committee member and Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers told Fox on Sunday that a crash is still the most likely scenario.

“This plane still may be at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, and I think a lot of folks that I talk to believe that’s probably the most likely, the most probable circumstances — is that in fact it is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean,” Rogers said. “But you cannot quite yet rule out everything else because we don’t have the physical evidence we need to come to that conclusion.”

Outside of that scenario, Rogers agrees the pilots should be scrutinized — especially after the discovery of an advanced flight simulator in the home of chief pilot Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

“Think about it. If you’re going to fly over countries that we know have radar and you’re going to try to do it in a way that either saves the aircraft or crashes the aircraft, there is a lot of planning that has to happen,” Rogers said.

Intelligence and Homeland Security Committee Republican Rep. Peter King from New York is leaning directly toward involvement from the pilots themselves.

“Right now it’s leaning toward suicide, either the pilot or co-pilot or someone else who got into the cockpit,” King told Politico during a Tuesday interview. “So then the question is why did he fly over the Indian Ocean? It could be for religious reasons or professional shame, or his family is collecting on his insurance policy.”

“There’s obviously something with the pilot and the copilot, and that has to be drilled down on. … This right now has to focus on the pilot and the copilot,” King told ABC Sunday.

California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell sits on Homeland Security’s transportation security subcommittee, and sought out an expert opinion of his own. According to retired U.S. Airways Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilots could have “ditched,” or emergency landed, the Boeing 777 in an ocean or on a remote field in reaction to a mechanical failure.

Democratic colleague on the Homeland Security Committee and fellow California Rep. Loretta Sanchez believes the disappearance of the flight was purposeful, but is skeptical of elaborate future-terrorism theories like McCaul’s.

“I think that’s pretty far-fetched. Michael has a great imagination,” Sanchez said Monday. “First of all, it’s difficult to find a landing strip and hide it. How many people would be involved to do that?”

“As you know, a secret is hard enough to keep between two people, let alone 239 passengers and crew members, the airport people and people who thought this up,” Sanchez explained. “For me, it’d be too grand a conspiracy.”

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