Donald Trump was quick to call the crash of the EgyptAir plane into the sea an act of terrorism. He said so almost immediately after the news of the disaster hit the internet. Virtually every other leader in the world stopped short of saying it was, in fact, a terrorist attack. Later at a Trump rally, Trump said: “If you don’t think the plane was blown out of the sky, you are 100 percent wrong.” Hillary Clinton conceded that it appeared to be an act of terrorism by mid afternoon. The question many have, why was Trump able to make the terrorism claim long before Hillary Clinton, the White House, and many other government officials? Was it a calculated guess? Who did he consult with?
Late into the evening most experts were still hesitant to conclude that the crash was an act of terrorism. No images of explosions were captured by satellites. Mechanical failure cannot be ruled out aviation experts kept saying all night. “We need all the evidence before we jump to deep conclusions,” one expert said on Fox News. Former Defense Sec. Robert Gates accused Trump of jumping the gate and said it is always useful to have the facts before you draw conclusions about such matters. “He seems to think that he has all the answers” without consulting with staff, Gates said about Trump.
We agree with Gates. Although it is likely to turn out that terrorists, or crazy people, were behind the disaster, Trump was without sufficient information to draw the raw conclusion that terrorists were behind the attack before even the slightest investigation had been conducted. He then used his unsupported conclusion to rally his supporters at a campaign event to gain political advantage over Clinton. We think it is one thing to say in the general sense that “we will kick the hell out of ISIS”, and quite another matter to prematurely declare that a particular and recent incident is an act of terrorism. The loss of 66 innocent lives merits careful investigation and outweighs potential political gain from one-upmanship.