March 16 (Bloomberg) -- A missing passenger jet “most likely” went down in the Indian Ocean, and authorities in Malaysia should stop resisting international help in finding out what happened on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, U.S. lawmakers said today.
“A lot of folks that I talk to believe that’s probably the most likely, the most probable circumstance, that in fact it is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean,” Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.
“But you cannot quite yet rule out everything because we don’t have the physical evidence we need to come to that conclusion,” said Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent.
Malaysian officials have been resisting help from the FBI and Interpol, said Representative Peter King, a member of the House homeland security committee who leads its panel on counterterrorism and intelligence.
“My understanding is that Malaysia is not really cooperating at all. They’re very reluctant to lay what they have out on the table,” King, a New York Republican, said today on ABC’s “This Week” program.
Malaysia has asked 25 countries to support the hunt for the Boeing aircraft carrying 239 people as it prepared to extend the search to an area stretching from Kazakhstan in the north to the two-mile-deep waters of the Indian Ocean off Australia in the south.
U.S. officials said there are no signs of terrorist connections in the disappearance of the passenger jet.
“There’s been no terrorist chatter. There’s nothing out there indicating it’s terrorists,” King said. “Doesn’t mean it’s not, but so far nothing has been picked up by the intelligence community from day one.”
“It’s too early to rule anything in or out yet. We simply just don’t know enough information,” Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
Representative Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House homeland security committee, said on “Fox News Sunday” that terrorism couldn’t be ruled out although “we don’t have any evidence” of that. “All the evidence is pointing toward the cockpit,” he said, though “much is unclear at this point in time.’
If it was a terror plot, the lack of evidence means ‘‘we have to use our imagination,’’ the Texas Republican said. One such hypothetical scenario -- for which he said there is no evidence -- would be that it was an attempt to steal the airplane to use it as a flying bomb, similar to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Peter Goelz, former managing director of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, said on the same program that the sequence of events, with some of the tracking communications turned off before the cockpit gave air traffic control its final signal that all was fine, was ‘‘damning evidence that something was going on in the flight deck.’’
He said the search and investigation would continue for as along as necessary, ‘‘whether it takes months or years’’ because ‘‘a vacuum is unacceptable.’’
Satellite transmissions that weren’t turned off along with other communications systems showed the jet operated for almost seven hours after last making contact with air traffic controllers on March 8, Malaysian Prime Minister Razak Najib said yesterday. That may have taken the Boeing Co. 777-200 more than 3,000 miles from where it was last tracked, west of Malaysia, and pushed it to the limits of its fuel load if it stayed airborne the whole period.
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