[J]udging from past history the de facto procedure is that an airborne threat to the White House or the Capitol will not be shot down if doing so poses a meaningful risk that one or more bystanders will be killed. I applaud the policy. But if I'm able to figure this out, I have little doubt that al-Qaida figured it out long ago.It ain't necessarily so. A lot depends on the response (or non-response) of the pilot of an aircraft that ventures into the no-fly zone above Washington, D.C., as well as other information that might be gathered about an intrusive aircraft.
Yes, shooting down an intrusive aircraft might pose a risk of casualties and damage on the ground, but that risk must be weighed against the risk of a catastrophic strike on the White House, Capitol, or other symbol of American pride. The loss of such a symbol -- and the disruption of government that might accompany it -- would be far more damaging to America and Americans than the collateral damage from a shoot-down.
Perhaps Noah is cheering al-Qaida on, in the hope that it will again venture an airstrike against a prominent government building. It would be in keeping with his Leftist anti-Americanism.