GOP Plot: Hazel O’Leary Escorted Off Plane, Questioned by FBI

Nashville Tennessean – Police escort Fisk’s chief from plane

Nine days after being named president of Fisk University, Hazel O’Leary found herself being questioned by the FBI last night after being escorted off a commercial airplane. O’Leary wanted to get off the plane as it waited on the tarmac for more than an hour after being diverted to Richmond, Va., yesterday evening because of storms, said Cpl. Frank Donkle of the Richmond International Airport Police. The crew of the Nashville-to-Washington flight told airport police that O’Leary, 67, was ”getting loud and abusive” and had to be physically restrained at one point, Donkle said.

O’Leary, a former U.S. energy secretary under President Bill Clinton, disputed police accounts, saying in a short statement issued late last night: ”I regret the unfortunate misunderstanding that occurred (yesterday) evening. The situation was resolved. At no time was I rude or disrespectful to anyone. I answered all the questions that were asked and resumed my journey.”

The statement did not address why O’Leary was taken off the plane. It was also unclear where she was headed and by what mode she was traveling after the incident.


While waiting to take off again, the aircraft’s female captain went to the restroom, she told airport police. On the way back, Donkle said, the captain heard a male flight attendant tell a passenger something like, ”You can’t go back there.” The flight attendant had to physically restrain O’Leary, who was attempting to get to the cockpit, Donkle said. The pilot, meanwhile, retreated inside the cockpit and locked the door, he said.

This is obviously a Republican plot, orchestrated by Karl Rove, to draw attention away from the Democratic convention. Any criminal actions by O’Leary were certainly inadvertant. She’s well known for her sloppiness, after all.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steven says:

    One thing’s for sure: the timing is quite suspicious.

  2. Jem says:

    Aw, quit pickin’ on the senile…

  3. M. Murcek says:

    Shucks, you got my hopes up. I wanted to read that O’Leary was questioned by the FBI for something she did as Clinton’s energy secretary – like maybe some security hijinx at the DOE…

  4. In all seriousness, we all know what really happened:

    She sat and sat and sat and waited and waited and waited. The plane didn’t go anywhere. The attendants and captain gave little to no news on when they would leave.

    She was trapped on the plane and wanted off, got frustrated, and probably said some things she shouldn’t have.

    When you’re a prisoner of the airline, you can’t really do anything about it these days but to grin and bear it.

  5. Please tell me they didn’t search her pants.

  6. Dodd says:

    I suggest that we refer to this little flap thusly: “Mrs. O’Leary has a cow!”