Trump Administration Blames Iran for Attack on Oil Tankers, but Provides No Proof W.J. Hennigan•Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that intelligence demonstrated Iran’s culpability, but he provided no evidence to support the assertion.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for attacks on two foreign tankerstransiting through the Gulf of Oman, escalating the tensions between the Trump Administration and Tehran.It was not immediately clear who was responsible for Thursday’s attacks. Pompeo said that intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials demonstrated Iran’s culpability, but he provided no evidence to support the assertion. “This assessment is based on intelligence, weapons used, level of expertise needed, recent similar Iranian attacks, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” he said.It is the latest of several recent attacks in the Middle East that Pompeo attributed to Iranian government. The incidents, he said, included an earlier assault on four tankers in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz, armed drone attacks against Saudi oil facilities, a deadly bombing in Afghanistan and a rocket attack on the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, where the U.S. embassy is located.“Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Pompeo said.Although he stopped short of threatening military force, tensions between the U.S. and Iran have increased since President Donald Trump walked away from the landmark multilateral nuclear deal a year ago. The Administration’s mounting pressure on Iran began with a war of words but has escalated toward more serious confrontations.Last month, Trump authorized deploying additional troops and firepower to the Middle East to deter what his Administration says is “malign behavior” by Iran that is intended to damage the United States and its allies. A squadron of 12 jet fighters, several spy planes, Patriot missile batteries, a B-52 bomber task force, the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets have already been dispatched to the region.In the latest incident, the U.S. Navy confirmed it received two separate distress calls from the two attacked ships, Marshall Islands-flagged MT Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous, beginning at 6:12 a.m. local time. Images taken at one of the incidents show flames blanketing the ship’s hull while clouds of black smoke billow into the clear sky.The U.S. Navy dispatched the USS Bainbridge destroyer to respond to the Kokuka Courageous. The crew of 21 was forced to abandon their damaged ship and clamber aboard the Bainbridge. According to two U.S. officials, who spoke to TIME on the condition of anonymity, American sailors found an unexploded magnetic mine, called a limpet mine, attached to Kokuka Courageous.An investigation is underway, and the innards of the unexploded limpet mine will provide clues that could help identify a perpetrator. One of last month’s attacks attributed to Iran was also carried out with a magnetic mine.Adm. Michael Gilday, the U.S. military’s Joint Staff director, told reporters at the Pentagon last month that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an elite arm of the Iranian military, was directly responsible for the sabotage of four tankers in the Gulf of Oman. When pressed about the evidence, Gilday said the intelligence was too sensitive to disclose.One U.S. official said the assessment that Iran is responsible rests partly on the idea that “only Iran has the resources to do this.” While that makes sense, this official said, limpet mines are relatively simple and cheap, and could be triggered remotely or by timer like a roadside bomb, without advanced triggering mechanisms.While it’s far more likely that Iran did this, this official said, it would be better have positive intelligence rather than an absence of other likely suspects before responding with military action, given the danger of escalation.Another issue, said one official after Pompeo’s remarks, is distinguishing between the Revolutionary Guard and its Quds Force on the one hand, and Iran’s civilian government on the other. “The Revolutionary Guard is an entity unto itself, so it’s conceivable that the IRGC could have launched these attacks without orders from [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani,” the official said.In April, the Trump Administration designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization, which restricts members’ banking transactions and ability to travel. It marked the first time the U.S. designated an arm of a nation’s government as a terrorist group. “After being designated a terrorist organization and sanctioned, the Guard certainly had a motive, given the effect the sanctions will have on its economic interests,” the official said. “It’s not like Iran has civilian control of the military, so what’s the right response?”The escalating tension in the Gulf puts Trump in a difficult position, officials say. On May 19, Trump tweeted, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”Not responding to the latest attacks, if they were perpetrated by Iran, could encourage even more in coming days. Ruling out even limited military action, such as sinking several small fast-boats belonging to the IRGC, which often harass U.S. Navy ships in the region, could make it look as if Iran called Trump’s bluff.A large military response would spike shipping insurance rates and oil prices, cost lives and further destabilize the region, officials said. The Gulf of Oman, where the attacks took place, is near the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, through which much of the world’s oil passes.
“We have no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East,” said Lt. Col Earl Brown, a military spokesman. “We will defend our interests, but a war with Iran is not in our strategic interest, nor in the best interest of the international community.”
There is no dispute within the Administration that Iran is a bad actor intent on expanding its influence in the Middle East, either directly as its military forces and Iranian-backed political groups have done in Iraq, or by funding and equipping proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine. The dispute is how to respond.
However, while Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton have argued for a more aggressive response, Trump has been reluctant to use military force and some officials in the intelligence community, the military and the State Department have warned that a military response could easily spin out of control.
“It is quite stunning that Pompeo gave no time and space for conducting a proper investigation before blaming Iran,” said Ali Vaez, the Iran project director at the International Crisis Group. “If Iran was behind these attacks, it clearly shows that Trump’s maximum pressure strategy has rendered Tehran more, not less, aggressive. If Iran is not the culprit, it is clear that some other actor could be trying to engineer a Gulf of Tonkin-type of incident to push the U.S. into a conflict with Iran.”
Either way, the Administration’s aggressive maneuvers and Iran’s responses have created an environment ripe for inadvertent conflict. Officials at the State and Defense Departments and in U.S. intelligence agencies blame Bolton, a longtime Iran hawk, for much of the tension.
The assessments within the intelligence community don’t square with Bolton’s and he often ignores them, officials at two agencies say, again agreeing to speak only anonymously. For example, while Bolton says Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons that could hit Israel, Saudi Arabia and other friendly states, the U.S. intelligence assessment—shared by other nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency—is that Iran continues to abide by the 2015 nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Since abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump Administration has turned the global financial system into a weapon against Tehran. The policy has triggered an exodus of corporations and financial institutions that would rather abandon their investments in Iran than risk U.S. Treasury Department sanctions.
Iran’s economy-sustaining oil exports have plunged to historic lows from their peak of 2.5 million barrels per day peak in April 2018. As a result of U.S. sanctions, more than 2 million barrels per day have been taken off the market, which has crippled the Iranian economy.
“No economic sanctions entitle the Islamic Republic to attack innocent civilians, disrupt global oil markets, and engage in nuclear blackmail,” Pompeo said. “The international community condemns Iran’s assault on the freedom of navigation and the targeting of innocent civilians.”
FEC Chair: It’s Illegal To Accept Election Help From Foreign Governments
WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday that his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, will be leaving the White House at the end of the month. Sanders served as the face of the Trump presidency since the departure of her predecessor, Sean Spicer, in mid-2017. Her tenure was notably lengthy in an administration that has seen record turmoil; in recent months, however, Sanders virtually eliminated the practice of holding regular public press briefings.
“After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas,” Trump wrote on Twitter, adding, “She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”
Both Sanders and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about her departure. Sanders joined the president on stage at an event in the East Room promoting measures from the administration designed to increase job opportunities for former prison inmates. Trump praised Sanders as his “warrior.”
“She’s very popular. She’s very popular. She’s done an incredible job,” Trump said of Sanders. “We’ve been through a lot together and she’s tough. … She’s tough and she’s good.”
Sanders, who said she would “try not to get emotional” because “crying can make us look weak” called her time as press secretary an “honor” and “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“It’s truly been something I will treasure forever. It’s one of the greatest jobs I could ever have,” Sanders said, adding, “I’ve loved it. I love the president.”
Sanders has held only two briefings in 2019 so far. Her last one came 95 days ago on March 11, the longest period without a White House press briefing in modern history.
Before stopping briefings altogether, Sanders had been holding them approximately once a month. In prior administrations and under Spicer, there were typically multiple White House briefings each week. Sanders’s briefings were also shorter than the public press conferences had been in the past.
Sanders’s departure has been rumored for about a year. According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, “in recent weeks” Sanders has been having private conversations about running for governor in her home state of Arkansas. Sanders’s father, Mike Huckabee, served as governor of Arkansas from 1996 until 2007, and his daughter was one of his campaign advisers.
When he spoke alongside Sanders in the East Room, Trump said he was going to encourage the outgoing press secretary to run for governor.
“I think she’d do very well. I’m trying to get her to do that,” Trump said.
The reduction in White House briefings during Sanders’s tenure provoked criticism from advocates of press freedom and transparency. Sanders repeatedly argued that President Trump speaks to the press more often than his predecessors through nontraditional means, including Twitter and his frequent, impromptu comments at events in the West Wing and on the White House lawn before leaving on trips. In one September 2018 interview, Sanders suggested the briefing had become obsolete because Trump had new “ways to communicate with the American public.”
“I always think if you can hear directly from the president and the press has a chance to ask the president of the United States questions directly, that’s infinitely better than talking to me,” Sanders said.
During her brief remarks at the White House on Thursday, Sanders said she planned to “spend a little more time” with her “three amazing kids.” However, Sanders hinted that she also was going to remain in the political realm.
“I’m going to continue to be one of the most outspoken and loyal supporters of the president and his agenda,” Sanders said.
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By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to Polish President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday that he will deploy 1,000 U.S. troops to Poland, a step sought by Warsaw to deter potential aggression from Russia.
Despite their strong show of unity, Trump disagreed with Duda’s attempt to force the retirement of some Polish Supreme Court judges, a decision last year that prompted protests. „No,” Trump said when asked if he supported the move.
Trump announced the troop deployment at a joint news conference with Duda in the White House Rose Garden shortly after the two leaders signed a joint declaration affirming defense cooperation and watched a U.S.-made F-35 fighter jet fly overhead.
Duda, who is considering naming the U.S. installation „Fort Trump,” said the new influx of troops was needed because of Moscow’s past aggression against Poland and to help solidify his country’s ties to the West.
„Russia again is showing its unkind, unfriendly imperial face,” he said. „Russia is always looking out to take our territory.”
Trump said earlier the troop contingent could come from the U.S. force in Germany, which he has accused of paying too little for NATO’s common defense.
The decision by Trump represents an effort to cater to the interests of Poland, a key NATO ally, while not overly antagonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Trump would like to have friendly relations. He and Putin are to meet in Japan in two weeks.
„I hope that Poland is going to have a great relationship with Russia. I hope that we’re going to have a great relationship with Russia,” said Trump.
The United States already has troops in Poland as part of a 2016 agreement with the NATO military alliance in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Poland’s eastern neighbor Ukraine in 2014.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement welcoming the deployment.
„Today’s announcement is part of NATO’s measured, defensive and proportionate efforts to strengthen our deterrence and defense,” he said.
Duda denied backsliding on democracy when asked about his attempt to remove the judges. He said some of them dated back to Poland’s communist past and that he wanted to remove them as part of judicial reforms.
„This is a very complex issue,” he said. „Everything that we were doing was aimed at retiring those people … Let me assure you, freedom of speech is absolutely respected in Poland. Poland absolutely respects all constitutional standards.”
With Trump to turn 73 on Friday, Duda wished Trump a happy birthday at an evening White House reception whose audience included Polish-Americans. Some in the crowd launched into a happy birthday song in Polish.
„This first term of your presidency will be the introduction to your second term,” Duda told Trump.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Matthew Lewis)
Iran Persian Gulf Tensions
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on Mideast developments amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region (all times local):
Iran’s U.N. Mission is calling for an urgent dialogue among all countries in the Persian Gulf region to ease tensions following attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
A statement late Thursday from the mission also called on the international community to prevent „the reckless and dangerous policies and practices of the U.S. and its regional allies in heightening the tensions in the region.”
„The Islamic Republic of Iran reiterates that the only solution to the tension in this region is the active and constructive engagement of all regional countries within the context of a genuine dialogue based on mutual respect, inclusivity and basic principles of international law,” it said.
The mission said it is „ironic” that the United States, which unlawfully withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, is now calling on the country to come back to negotiations.
It dismissed as „inflammatory” acting U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen’s statement after a closed U.N. Security Council meeting on the tanker attacks Thursday afternoon that Iran should meet the United States with diplomacy — „not with terror, attacks on ships, infrastructure and diplomatic facilities.”
The mission called the statement part of „another Iranophobic campaign.”
Iran’s U.N. Mission says the government „categorically rejects” the U.S. claim that it was responsible for the latest incidents against oil tankers which it condemns „in the strongest possible terms.”
A statement from the mission Thursday evening said „Iran stands ready to play an active and constructive role in ensuring the security of strategic maritime passages as well as promoting peace, stability and security in the region.”
It warned of „U.S. coercion, intimidation and malign behavior” and expressed concern „over suspicious incidents” involving the two tankers on Thursday.
The mission dismissed as „inflammatory” a statement by acting U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen after a closed U.N. Security Council meeting on the tanker attacks that Iran should meet the United States with diplomacy.
Kuwait’s U.N. ambassador says he is pleased that all Security Council members condemn the latest attacks on two tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and want to see a thorough investigation.
Mansour Al-Otaibi’s country holds the council presidency this month. He told reporters after a closed meeting Thursday called by the United States that he wasn’t authorized to make any official statement about the latest attacks.
But he said: „We are really pleased to hear that all council members condemned what happened.”
„It is a violation of international law and it’s a criminal act,” Al-Otaibi said.
„Everybody wants an impartial and objective investigation,” he said, adding that there was no discussion on who should conduct it and no discussion of evidence.
Acting U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen said he briefed the council on the U.S. assessment that Iran was responsible.
The acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says Iran should meet the United States with diplomacy — „not with terror, attacks on ships, infrastructure and diplomatic facilities.”
Jonathan Cohen told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors Thursday at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s request that the United States assesses the latest tanker attacks to be „yet another example of Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”
He said the „litany of incidents … demonstrate the clear threat that Iran poses to international peace and security.”
Cohen said „no proxy group in the area has the resources or the skill to act with this level of sophistication.”
„Iran, however, has the weapons, the expertise and the requisite intelligence information to pull this off,” he said.
A 20-year-old man pleaded guilty Wednesday to raping and killing a young Arab-Israeli student in Melbourne, one of a spate of attacks that sparked fears about women’s safety in Australia’s second biggest city.
The body of Aya Maasarwe, 21, was found by passers-by near a tram stop on an early January morning, hours after she was attacked on her way home while she was speaking on the phone with her sister in Israel.
Codey Herrmann was arrested and charged by police with the attacks several days later.
He pleaded guilty to one charge of rape and one charge of murder in the Supreme Court of Victoria state. His sentencing hearing is due to take place in early October.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets calling for an end to violence against women after Maasarwe’s killing.
There have been several violent attacks against women in Melbourne in recent years, fuelling concerns that authorities are not doing enough to improve safety in Australia’s major cities.
During an interview with ABC News this week, President Trump unveiled a new color scheme for Air Force One that he said he designed himself for the next generation of the presidential fleet of Boeing 747s. But lawmakers who have to approve the cost might have different ideas.
The red, white and blue layout Trump came up with is a departure from the blue-and-white scheme that has been in place since the 1960s. Last year, Trump struck a deal with Boeing to purchase two Air Force One planes at a cost of $3.9 billion.
However, the president’s design dreams were potentially undercut across town at Wednesday’s House Armed Services Committee’s markup of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., put forth an amendment that would require congressional approval for changes to the paint scheme and interior design of Air Force One. Although Republicans said it seemed like a poke at the president, Courtney defended it as an economy measure.
“Additional paint can add weight to the plane, additional fixtures inside the plane can also add cost and delays to the delivery of the plane,” Courtney said, noting that he was retaining flexibility for the Air Force and Boeing.
With final design specifications not due until 2021, a Democratic victory in the 2020 election could make any planned changes irrelevant. Trump would not have much time in the new Air Force One even if he wins a second term. The Air Force expects the first of the new planes in September 2024, so even without any overrun in production he would be limited to a few months.
„As I understand it, these planes are not even going to be delivered until late 2024, 2025,” said Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash. “This president is not going to fly on this plane under any circumstances … we’re simply trying to exercise our oversight responsibilities to try to save the taxpayers money.”
Trump agreed during the ABC News interview, saying, “”I’m doing that for other presidents, not for me.”
Trump first described the changes to the presidential aircraft last year.
“Air Force One is going to be incredible,” said Trump in an interview with CBS News. “It’s gonna be the top of the line, the top in the world. And it’s gonna be red, white and blue, which I think is appropriate.”
Charles Leerhsen, who served as Trump’s ghostwriter from 1988 to 1990, wrote for Yahoo News in May that the president has long been obsessed with interior design.
“A real go-getter, right?” wrote Leerhsen. “But Trump’s portfolio did not jibe with what I saw each day — which to a surprisingly large extent was him looking at fabric swatches. Indeed, flipping through fabric swatches seemed at times to be his main occupation. Some days he would do it for hours. . . It was true that the carpets and drapes at his properties needed to be refreshed frequently, and the seats on the renamed Trump Shuttle required occasional reupholstering. But the main thing about fabric swatches was that they were within his comfort zone — whereas, for example, the management of hotels and airlines clearly wasn’t.”
Some of Courtney’s colleagues were more explicit in the desire to protect the current color scheme.
“The Air Force One plane is iconic,” said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif. “It is known throughout the world. It has been the representation of the United States, the power of the president. It is used in diplomatic and international relations as (a statement) that the United States has arrived.”
“If someone wants to change its appearance, its scheme, we ought to have a say in it … If somebody wants the fixtures to be gold-plated, come back here and tell us why it ought to be that way.”
The House Armed Services committee passed the NDAA on Thursday morning by a vote of 33-24. There is no guarantee Courtney’s amendment will survive until the final version of the bill, still needing to be voted on by the entire House and then reconciled with the Senate’s version.
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Two tankers ‘hit by torpedo’ in Gulf of Oman attacks amid simmering US, Iran tensions
The ships may have been struck by a torpedo, according to some reports.
The latest incident comes after Washington alleged Tehran used mines to attack four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah last month, a claim denied by Iran.
As many as 44 crew members have been rescued this morning, Iran said, from the two ships were involved the Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair.
They have been taken to an Iranian port, according to state TV.
“Forty-four sailors from the two foreign oil tankers which had an accident this morning in the Sea of Oman were saved from the water by the (navy) rescue unit of Hormozgan province and transferred to the port of Bandar-e-Jask,” IRNA said.
Crude oil prices rose on news of the attacks.
The Kokuka Courageous was carrying methanol and the Front Altair, a petrochemical feedstock.
The first alert was put out by United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, a maritime safety group run by the British Navy.
Japan’s trade minister says he has received information that two ships carrying cargo related to Japan have been attacked near the Strait of Hormuz. https://iran.liveuamap.com/en/2019/13-june-japans-trade-minister-says-he-has-received-information … via @ali_noorani_teh #Iran
Images posted on Twitter showed one of the burning tankers following the incident.
The incident happened some 25 miles off the Iranian coast. The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet was also assisting.
The timing of Thursday’s reported attack was especially sensitive as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Iran on a high-stakes diplomacy mission.
On Wednesday, after talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Mr Abe warned that any “accidental conflict” that could be sparked amid the heightened US-Iran tensions must be avoided.
His message came just hours after Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels attacked a Saudi airport, striking the arrivals hall before dawn and wounding 26 people.
Mr Abe met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday, the second and final day of his visit.
Tensions have escalated in the Middle East as Iran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord that the Trump administration pulled out of last year.
Washington accuses Iran of being a destabilising force in the Middle East
The US sent an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the region at the start of May in response to what it said was an unspecified plan by Iran-backed forces to attack US forces in the area.
Iran has rejected the claims and has accused the US of aggressive behaviour.
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LINDEN, N.J. – When faced with danger, Timothy McCormack, the pilot who died in a helicopter crash in New York, was not one to flinch.
As a volunteer fire chief for the Clinton Fire Department in New York, he would study the scene of a fire, using knowledge and training to battle the searing flames and to save lives.
And on Monday, as the Agusta A109E helicopter he was flying pierced the dense fog over midtown Manhattan, he once again appeared to steady the scene, crash-landing on the top of a building, likely saving the lives of dozens of people on the city streets below.
“I think he tried to land on the building to save the people on the ground,” said Paul Dudley, the manager of Linden Airport, where the helicopter was based. “Because if he went to the ground it would have been carnage.”
Shortly before 2 p.m. Monday, McCormack appeared to make an emergency landing on the roof of a 51-story building at 787 Seventh Ave., authorities said. The crash resulted in a fire that all but incinerated the helicopter. McCormack was killed in the wreck.
NYC helicopter crash: ‘When I hear an explosion like this, it makes me think of that day. You don’t forget’
By reputation, McCormack, of Clinton Corners, New York, was a consummate veteran of the skies, having flown for helicopter companies and as a private pilot, Dudley said. He had been flying for 15 years, receiving his commercial pilot certificate in 2004, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. Just last month, he passed a medical exam.
“He is a highly experienced, highly trained commercial helicopter pilot,” Dudley said. “He’s been flying around the New York area and different places for many, many years.”
At the Clinton Fire Department, his reputation was much the same, with his colleagues remembering the well-trained, knowledgeable chief who guided them through blazes.
„Tim was a dedicated, highly professional and extremely well-trained firefighter,” the Fire Department said in a statement. „Tim’s technical knowledge and ability to command an emergency were exceptional.”
About four years ago, McCormack stopped working for helicopter companies and became a private pilot for Daniele Bodini, who owns the helicopter, Dudley said. A message left at a number listed for Bodini did not draw a response.
The crash and the minutes leading up to it are still a mystery. Most helicopter pilots knew not to fly in the foggy conditions, said Mike Isler, a helicopter pilot and aerial film producer who is based at Linden Airport. On Monday, the conditions were so bad that the helicopters at Linden were grounded.
“Shortly before his accident, a weather system came through here that I thought it was the end of the world,” Dudley said. “I couldn’t see the cones.”
The fog was so thick that helicopter tour companies in New York City were told to stay grounded, said a representative for Liberty Helicopters, one of the city’s helicopter tour companies.
‘No nexus to terror’: Helicopter crashes onto roof of New York City high rise; pilot dead
As of Monday night, McCormack’s flight path from the 34th Street heliport was still unexplained, even by fellow helicopter pilots. Because of the low visibility from the dense fog, McCormack may have experienced spatial disorientation, Isler said.
So questions still lingered about what happened to McCormack amid the clouds, even for Dudley, himself a helicopter pilot.
“Something had to have happened,” Dudley said. „Either something mechanical or something weather-related that overwhelmed the pilot. Because you had a highly trained, highly experienced veteran pilot in a top-notch aircraft. Something must have happened to overwhelm him.”
This article originally appeared on North Jersey Record: Helicopter crash pilot ‘tried to land on the building to save people on the ground,’ airport manager says