COMMENTS: Clancy Calling

Maybe one reason why Pentagon correspondents did not cover that Iraq Civil War report was because the building was buzzing with the overnight false alarm that the nuclear submarine USS San Juan had sunk with 134 on board. The families of the crew were awakened with the erroneous alert that their loved ones were dead. ABC appropriately only mentioned it in passing--anchor Charles Gibson said "it could have been the plot of a Tom Clancy thriller"--but NBC and CBS assigned reporters to relate what had not happened. CBS anchor Katie Couric introduced David Martin's report as, you guessed it, something "that sounds like a chapter out of a Tom Clancy novel." The submarine's failure to check in "could be something as simple as a typo in a message," Martin mused. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski explained the deep sea maneuvers the San Juan was performing when the USNavy could not trace it for eight hours: "For the exercise the submerged sub was in full evasive mode." Looks like the San Juan succeeded.

A more interesting deep sea story was filed for NBC by Bob Faw. The oceans are swarming with invisible microorganisms built from undiscovered proteins, genes, enzymes and viruses. Faw used a clip from a Jules Verne movie to describe a two-year 32,000 mile collection voyage by a biotech sailboat. Researchers scooped up this primordial ooze to deconstruct its DNA in a Maryland laboratory.


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