tying up loose ends: the death of michael connell

OK, I’m heading up to bed. If one of you could write something about the curious death yesterday of Michael Connell, a senior Bush administration IT consultant who had been implicated in the Ohio vote tampering that won Bush the White House in 2004, I’d appreciate it.

Really, I wish that I could just mention things here at night, before going to bed, and then wake up in the morning finding wonderful, comprehensive posts written for me. Surely there’s got to be an elf out there who would rather blog that cobble.

update: No elves came through with complete posts, but you’ll find a lot of good links in the comments section. And, here, if you haven’t seen it, is a discussion concerning Connell’s death from Democracy Now:

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  1. Paw
    Posted December 22, 2008 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    In that story about the shoemaker and the elves, didn’t they end up consuming him in the end? That’s the way my daddy used to tell it to me. It was all beautiful, right up until the end, when the shoemaker walked in on them. At that point, their lips slid back revealing sharp gray teeth, and they went about stripping all the shoemaker’s meat from his bones.

  2. Brackache
    Posted December 22, 2008 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    cobbler: I can’t make all these shoes in time!

    elves: we’ll do it for you for free!

    [cannibal holocaust]


  3. Posted December 22, 2008 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    WOIO-TV: Michael Connell Canceled Two Flights on Suspicion his Plane may be SABOTAGED !!! … BUSH – CHENEY CONNECTIONS

  4. Meta
    Posted December 22, 2008 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    See Democracy Now video here:


  5. dragon
    Posted December 22, 2008 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Here’s the best I’ve found:

    Also, some kossacks getting together sun dec. 28th.


    If I could add pic’s, you would now see a kitty with a tinfoil hat.

  6. mark
    Posted December 22, 2008 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all the links. I think I’ll update the original post to include the Democracy Now video. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably suicide, but who the fuck knows. We live in fictional times, and I wouldn’t be surprised by anything at this point.

  7. Robert
    Posted December 23, 2008 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    There’s no way it was suicide. Connell crashed while on final approach. It will be ruled an accident, though of course it’s very obvious it wasn’t.

  8. Prawn
    Posted December 23, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Rumor is that he postponed flying on two previous occasions due to concerns of sabotage.

    Thankfully, the press will stay focused on stuff that matters, like Obama’s imagined ties to Blagojevic.

  9. Robert
    Posted December 26, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I guess I was probably the elf Mark was expecting would visit his little cobbler-shop-of-a-blog in the wee hours of the night to post something substantive on this.

    It is sort of a topic made in heaven for me, because I am something of an aviation enthusiast and it is also one of my hobbies to follow the tactics and methods employed by criminal and otherwise clandestine organizations.

    So in regard to Michael Connell’s plane crash last Friday here’s what I can tell you:

    First off, there were a couple pieces of information that were reported initially which turned out to be false. For the most part these appear to be most likely just the result of miscommunication and false assumptions on the part of the local police and others following the story as it broke. Initially it was reported that the aircraft involved was a Piper SuperCub. It wasn’t. It was in fact a Piper Saratoga, which is a six seat (generally) light aircraft. It happens to be the same type of aircraft JFK, Jr. was piloting when he crashed on approach, and under very similar conditions, to the airport at Martha’s Vineyard. I can’t see any advantage to misreporting the make of the aircraft in the Connell crash so I highly doubt any deliberate deception on that point, though I’ve seen a few bloggers who have seemed to want to imply there might be.

    Another piece of information which was reported incorrectly initially was the identity of the departure airport. It appears to me that local police and reporters in Ohio were under the impression, at least for a short time after the crash, that Connell had been flying in from somewhere in Pennsylvania. This looks like it was just the result of miscommunication and somewhat understandable (but false) assumptions made by an Akron-Canton Airport official or local police. Again, some bloggers are trying to suggest there is something more to it, but it seems very likely that folks around Akron wouldn’t have heard of College Park, Maryland or the airport there. When they heard “College Park” they probably assumed the much more familiar “University Park” which is where Penn State University is located. Some may have even been actually thinking of College Park, Pennsylvania, which is where Bucknell University is located. Far fewer folks, especially in eastern Ohio, are familiar with College Park, Maryland, the home of the University of Maryland. So I highly doubt there was any deliberate deception there.

    Some early information which does, and should, rouse suspicion is the apparently anxious speculation by some in positions of authority to prematurely explain away the crash as an accident. That conduct is quite contrary to protocol. First, it was suggested Connell may have run out of fuel – a suggestion which is extremely unlikely for a very experienced pilot who had flown this route frequently. Then when witnesses described and even recorded video of the burning heap in the yard/driveway where the plane crashed, the ran-out-of-fuel explanation was clearly debunked.

    Next, it was suggested that low visibility and/or bad weather was the likely cause of the crash. However, weather reports from Akron-Canton Airport show that visibility never got lower than 5 miles, and was usually up closer to 8 or so for most of the time around the incident. Armature video recordings made just a couple minutes after the crash show decent visibility in night conditions. There also doesn’t appear to be any precipitation.

    I think the accident will be investigated very rapidly by the current (Bush Administration) NTSB, and I think they’ll conclude that Connell failed to maintain sufficient airspeed on approach and stalled, just as they concluded with their “investigation” of the crash that killed Senator Paul Wellstone in 2002. It’s not likely of course that experienced pilots, as Connell was also, would make that kind of mistake, but it will be a good enough explanation for most folks.

    The truth is, anyone who thinks it is more likely than not that Connell died in an accident, doesn’t have the slightest comprehension of statistical probabilities. If you find yourself wanting desperately to disagree, you should ask yourself these simple questions; First off, what is the probability of any pilot dying in a plane crash? Next ask yourself how much do those probabilities change when the pilot is experienced, and flying a very familiar approach? Most importantly, ask yourself now what the odds are on top of all this that the victim had been for months before the crash seeking protection for himself and his family? Just based on odds alone the incident should be assumed to be a murder, and investigated as such.

    I feel like I have to frequently remind people that investigations are not court cases and do not proceed based on any similar assumptions. They are by their very nature a process which involves the opposite assumptions and goals. Whereas in court, the goal of a prosecutor is to prove that something DID happen beyond a reasonable doubt, the goal of an investigator is to prove that all but one scenario COULD NOT have happened.

    Investigations are ideally guided by likelihoods and probabilities. If an incident, such as this one, is in statistical terms remotely likely to be the result of foul play, the investigation should proceed as such until sufficient evidence gathered ELIMINATES that possibility, or at least reduces the probability to nearly that.

    I’ll say a lot more if any of you folks out there actually give a shit.

  10. Posted March 4, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Anyone wanna start placing bets on Rove’s chances of making it alive to his scheduled appearance before the House Judiciary Committee?


  11. Robert
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    In my lengthy post above I stated in error that Penn State University is located in a town named University Park. Actually, Penn State is located in a town called State College, PA. However, the airport in State College, PA is named “University Park Airport.” There, do I have that all straight now? Ok.

  12. E. G. Penet
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    $1 says he’ll make it to the hearing alive. He have his attorney with him and he will nonetheless lie and not answer a single direct yes/no question. Another $1 says that nothing will ever come of these hearings (sadly). It’s all water, hundreds of thousands of lives, and a great deal of this country’s treasury under the Baghdad bridges.

  13. Robert
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I actually agree with you E.G. Penet. Mostly, I just like to bring up the subjects, so I throw out these offers to make a losing bet.

    I’ll take you up on your two dollar bets, even though I’m pretty certain you’ll win. I don’t mind losing two bucks to you on this. I figure you deserve at least that for giving enough of a shit to post a paragraph on the topic.

    It would also just be really cool to see Rove bumped off by his friends and then get a dollar on a bet over it. I’d frame it and hang it on the wall in my office for a fun conversation piece.

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