Coast Guard Fires on Suspicious Boat on the Potomac? Not So Much

Genius at work

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

My brush with nothing at all this morning: I drove over Washington's 14th Street Bridge at the same time that it reportedly wasn't in danger.

To catch everyone up: The reports that the Coast Guard fired "10 shots" (wonderful specificity there) at a mysterious boat on the Potomac River? Wrong. There is—according to the latest reports, so "facts" may change by the time I finish typing this blog post—no terrorist boat on the Potomac. And no shots were fired.

It turns out that the Coast Guard was conducting an exercise on the Potomac. Or maybe they weren't. MSNBC is reporting that there was not an exercise in the sense of people and boats actually doing things but was simply an over-the-radio drill that involved the phrase "shots fired."

Two things come to mind: An exercise of any sort on the Potomac on the morning of 9/11 while the president is driving by? It's so mind-numbingly dumb that it must be true.

Second this should spur a new round of media navel-gazing and, hopefully, a bit of self-flagellation. We all remember the tragedy and the bravery of that clear, crisp, awful morning eight years ago. Less well remembered are the reports—breathlessly related by the "news" networks—of a fire on the national mall, a car bomb at the State Department and so on. Hey—at least they got the information out there quickly. There's plenty of time for fact-checking later on.

In the mean time, stay glued to your television: The 24-hour "news" channels are continuing to follow this developing story. (Or is that devolving non-story?)

UPDATE: CNN's Jeanne Meserve is saying that it was a physical exercise; she says that she watched the Coast Guard boats challenge the mysterious boat and that she heard the radio traffic saying that 10 rounds had been fired; what she apparently did not know at the time was that she was listening to and watching a training exercise.

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