11/28/05 — A suggestion: For those Johnston County protesters

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A suggestion: For those Johnston County protesters

According to The Associated Press, some 60 protesters showed up at Johnston County Airport recently to demonstrate their disapproval of Aero Contractors’ operations there.

Aero Contractors is a private firm that has been leasing eight acres of airport property there for more than a quarter of a century. It pays the county about $300,000 a year rental — a significant part of the airport’s budget.

The company provides aircraft and pilots for commercial services.

A few weeks ago, CBS claimed on one of its “60 Minutes” programs that among Aero Contractors’ customers was the CIA. Ostensibly, it chartered aircraft to shuttle terrorist suspects to foreign countries for abusive interrogation.

(Some countries are said to be a bit less lenient than ours in their interrogation tactics.)

The protesters descended from such places as Chicago and St. Louis — and, of course, Chapel Hill — to object. Like many among us, they did not cotton to the notion of slapping around any detainees, even those intelligence sources indicate probably have knowledge of plans to hijack airliners and crash them into skyscrapers and kill thousands of innocent people.

All the protesters had to go on was speculation from CBS and The New York Times — hardly unimpeachable sources.

Aero Contractors apparently had no reason to apologize for or comment on any of its activities. That notwithstanding, it steadfastly denied it was involved in any covert operations involving delivering terrorist suspects to countries for abusive treatment.

The protesters, nonetheless, demanded that Johnston County kick Aero Contractors off the premises of its airport.

Johnston County has ignored the demands.

Better than that, Johnston County sheriff’s deputies handcuffed the protesters and hauled them to the county hoosegow for trespassing.

Perhaps we should load them on the next plane to Iraq and let them preach their humanitarian sermons to their brethren who are car-bombing churches, food markets and schools. And let them travel the highways where our American troops daily risk their own lives trying to protect lives of others — and the freedom of people to protest.

Published in Editorials on November 28, 2005 9:56 AM