By Jack Minor –
Tired of government keeping secrets?
Tired of scandals that never get investigated by government?
Think of how family members of the victims of a shoot-down of a commercial airliner 30 years ago today feel.
On September 1, 1983, Korean Air Lines flight 007 took off from New York’s JFK airport, destined for Seoul, South Korea, with a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska. After the aircraft left on the last leg of its journey, it was subsequently shot down by Soviet aircraft.
The shoot-down of the aircraft, which carried 269 passengers, including 61 Americans, becomes even more intriguing when one considers KAL 007 had a very distinguished passenger. Rep. Larry McDonald, a Democrat from Georgia who was the chairman of the John Birch Society as well as one of the fiercest anti-Communist in the House of Representatives, was flying to Seoul as part of a conservative delegation led by Sen. Jesse Helms for the 30th anniversary of the signing of the United States-South Korea Mutual Defense Treaty, which was intended to be a thumb in the eye of the Soviets.
In the days following the attack President Ronald Reagan issued a scathing rebuke against the Soviet Union calling the attack a “crime against humanity” and decrying “the savagery of their crime.” Reagan noted the attack was far from an isolated incident.
“This is not the first time the Soviet Union has shot at and hit a civilian airliner when it over flew its territory. In another tragic incident in 1978, the Soviets also shot down an unarmed civilian airliner after having positively identified it as such,” Reagan said. “In that instance, the Soviet interceptor pilot clearly identified the civilian markings on the side of the aircraft, repeatedly questioned the order to fire on a civilian airliner, and was ordered to shoot it down anyway. The aircraft was hit with a missile and made a crash landing. Several innocent people lost their lives in this attack, killed by shrapnel from the blast of a Soviet missile.”
It did appear the attack was indeed a brutal act by the Communist government of the Soviet Union. The Russians had tracked the 747, which had some of the most sophisticated navigational instruments in the world, for 2 1/2 hours prior to giving the order to shoot down the aircraft.
While what happened may seem to be a simple cut-and-dry case of Soviet aggression, there is more to the incident than meets the eye.
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