Friday, August 31, 2007

A Near Miss

Iraqi Terrorists Fire on Plane Carrying U.S. Lawmakers

WASHINGTON — "A military cargo plane carrying three U.S. senators and a member of the House of Representatives had to take evasive maneuvers and dispatch flares Thursday night to avoid ground fire after taking off from Baghdad's airport.

The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes as they left for Amman, Jordan.

"It was a scary moment," said Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, who said he had just taken off his body armor when he saw a bright flash outside the window. "Our pilots were terrific. ... They banked in one direction and then banked the other direction, and they set off the flares."

Two other Republican senators, Richard Shelby and James Inhofe, and Democratic Rep. Bud Cramer also were on the plane.

"We were jostled around pretty good," said Cramer, who estimated the plane had ascended to about 6,000 feet (1830 meters). "There were a few minutes there where I wondered: `Have we been hit? Are we OK?"'

Let-'Em-In Mel came closer to reality than he desired, I imagine. Only an insensitive man would say that it was too bad the terrorists had such poor aim.

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