As tomorrow's September 11 anniversary dominates headlines and a former Air Force One pilot recalls his nervousness during the attacks, Japan is in damage-control mode over the posting of President Obama's flight plan to an air traffic controller's personal blog.
Japan's Transportation Ministry said today that an air traffic controller at the Tokyo International Airport at Haneda could be charged for leaking national secrets, the New York Times reports.
The controller posted detailed flight plans for Air Force One--plans usually kept secret--regarding a visit to Asia by President Obama in November. He also posted information about an American military drone that was taking radiation readings near the earthquake-hobbled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Japanese officials said they learned of the leak Monday.
The controller apparently posted the 12 pages of information simply to show his friends, the Times reports, in what seems to be yet another example of someone displaying remarkable cluelessness as to the sensitivity of data and the public nature of the Web.
Earlier this week, a prestigious hospital confirmed that a spreadsheet containing private patient data had wound up online as, it seems, a component of a student's homework assignment. And the Times points out that the flight plan leak recalls an episode in 2007 when a Japanese Navy officer copied classified data about a U.S. radar system and handed it out on CD-ROMs to classmates at his naval school.
The flight plan data, which contained numerical information and a map and has since been removed, was likely unintelligible to the layperson, the Times reports.
But with the specter of September 11 currently looming large, the news could rattle a few nerves. CBS' "Early Show on Saturday" ran an interview today with former Air Force One pilot Mark Tillman, who talked about his fears at the time of the terrorist attacks.
"I was very concerned," Tillman told the show's anchors. "Obviously, I've got the president of the United States on board, so obviously, you have to assume that we are a target."
Citing Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, the Times says Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who's scheduled to meet with President Obama this month, may offer a personal apology for the leak.