Terrible Tragedy

Disturbing questions about the downing of an Iranian passenger jet

At first, the incident seemed like another deadly confrontation in the Persian Gulf between the armed forces of the U.S. and Iran. But the affair quickly developed into something far worse. On Sunday morning the Navy cruiser U.S.S. Vincennes, while battling several Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz, mistakenly shot down an Iranian commercial airliner. Iran said the Airbus A300 "exploded in the sky," killing all 298 people on board. Officers on the Vincennes had believed the aircraft was an Iranian F-14 fighter jet that was attacking the U.S. ship. The tragedy immediately invited comparison with the 1983 downing by...

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