I was quite pleased with an interview I heard during Morning Edition today. Discussed was Timothy Naftali's newest book, Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism, a comprehensive look at how the United States' position on counterterrorism tactics have dramatically changed in the last fifty years.
Of particular note was the fact that hijacking used to be taken as a mere inconvenience. Many hijackers of passenger aircraft would instruct the flight crew to take them to Havana, Cuba. This happened so often in fact, pilots who frequented the southeastern United States had maps of José Martí International Airport on-board just in case.
Additionally, the Swiss government — the United States' representative in Cuba — had a standardized pre-filled form prepared that only needed the flight number and date entered which formally requested the return of the airplane, passengers and crew.
And finally my favourite bit, the Cuban government decided to profit from the regular dispatch of hijacked Americans and started giving out Cuban sandwiches. Billed, of course, to the United States Department of State at thirty dollars a piece.
You can listen to the story at npr.org.
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