Thursday, August 31, 2006

ARMY OF FEARMONGERS: The biggest and best in the world, for many reasons

On Tuesday, DD blog regaled you with tales of Doctors Strangebug and Acid-Thrower, testimony from some of the leading lights of the biochemical terror-is-coming lobby. Dating from 1995, al Qaeda hadn't yet demolished the WTC, but already the mechanisms and experts were in place to pin the capability of easy bio and chemwar to Islamic radicals. Osama bin Laden and company just needed to appear on the stage of history.

Consider the following slide, presented twice during the Strangebug and Acid-Thrower seminar held by the biochem terror lobby in Bethesda, MD, by James A. Genovese, a U.S. Army "expert" on chemical attack.


Wow!

And it pointedly illustrates the US has a ready corps of experts on methods of terrorism, an army that would tell and does tell anyone who listens -- from politicians to journalists to small children -- that everything is easy to do. And that it is all inevitable.

It is, of course, logical that they do so. Their job security and career development depends upon it. Their paycheck depends on you, and the people in power, understanding that the most macabre types of attack are easy to do.

Dick Destiny blog has documented its regular appearance this summer.

Take, for example, Mubtakkar of Death, peddled by a famous journalist, The Botox Shoe of Death, frightening exaggerations and lies peddled by many, and most recently in what appeared to be the overstated capabilities of the liquid bombers -- here and here and here.

In all these pieces, no shortage at all of experts, sources in-the-know and terror-beat journalists delivering claims on how easy it is for the jihadists to deliver varieties of explosive, chemical and biological ruin.

As this blog moved through the summer, it fashioned search strings for Google so readers could see for themselves the army of fearmongering experts and their professional cant on the inevitable nature of bioterror.

Every week, the same declarations.

"The nation's farms and food supply are highly vulnerable to terrorism and the Department of Homeland Security isn't prepared to deal with the 'catastrophic' consequences of an agro-terror attack, Georgia agricultural experts warned a U.S. House subcommittee [last] Thursday, cried a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Compared to bioterror, agro-terror is appallingly easy," said Corrie Brown, professor at the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine, invoking the specter of terrorists introducing foot-and-mouth disease, avian influenza, swine flu or some other animal-borne disease that could disrupt the U.S. economy . . . "

Not just easy, appallingly so!

And why might this be? Because the University of Georgia, and Corrie Brown, want to be the recipients of funding for a new government lab to fight and research terror, and they're competing with other states for it. And the other states have their army of experts who want the funds and the lab and they're just as capable of saying agro-terror is easy, as many times as necessary.

One way of looking at the practice is to divert for a moment to the story of the Cardiff Giant.

In the late 1860's, a con man induced a farmer near Syracuse, New York, to bury a cheap gypsum statue that had been crudely altered to resemble a giant, fossilized man. The statue was then "discovered" and proclaimed "the Cardiff giant," the scary remains of a specimen of a lost race said to have wandered the hills prior to the coming of man.

Although immediately dubbed a fake by a few who smelled a rat, there was a great deal of popular acceptance of "the Cardiff giant," which spilled over into the news media of the time.

Andrew D. White, the first president of Cornell University and one of the "giant's" earliest skeptics, remarked in his memoirs of the affair: "There was evidently a 'joy in believing' in the marvel, and this was increased by the peculiarly American superstition that the correctness of a belief is decided by the number of the people who can be induced to adopt it."

And it's possible to look at the "correctness of a belief . . . decided by the number who can be induced to adopt it" in this unscientific aggregation, here!

Holy smoke! One is almost tempted to say there are more Google hits for experts saying agroterrorism is easy than there are actually terrorists to carry out easy agroterror.

"Our agricultural system is so vast and so integrated, if something gets in, it's going to be all over and the terrorists know this," the expert added for good measure.

"Georgia is one of 11 states in the running for the Department of Homeland Security's proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which would address such threats . . . The state has offered two locations, both in Athens, as sites for the $500 million center . . . "

Job security, career development and scientific academic/corporate welfare -- the war on terror is great for it.

Naturally, there are terrorists. Dick Destiny blog's essay isn't saying they're Cardiff giants, or that bioterrorism is. What is being said is that the picture is never so cut-and-dried, so easy -- to use one of the fearmongers' faves, or so simplistic and obvious.

But often even experienced journalists, people who should know better, get dizzy from all the hot air.

As example, Dick Destiny blog cites one newspaper war-on-terror beat writer (name withheld to protect the underserving) who had requested an interview last year to talk about "what was easy" for terrorists.

So swept up in the repetition was he, the reporter was amazingly convinced it would even be easy for him to bring about agroterror. Why, all that he had to do was cut the feet off an infected animal and toss them in a cattle pen. The U.S. beef industry, destroyed!

Over a year ago, I wrote this on the phenomenon of professional fear-mongering masquerading as threat analysis:


After I read a stack of these articles, I thought for a moment I was in the wrong business and should devote a couple months and publications to predicting the ways in which terrorists could attack. Terrorists could imitate the methodology of the Washington sniper and his accomplice. Why haven't they? Terrorists could go into the forests and high chaparrals of southern California during fire season and ignite calamitous blazes, making national news and sewing panic. Local arsonists do it. It would be easy for terrorists. Gang members from central Los Angeles shoot into cars on the freeways. Surely that would be easy for terrorists... [Anti-terror celebrity Richard Clarke did do this in a long piece for the Atlantic Monthly.]

It's a good game. It needs to take no account of what terrorists are actually doing, no knowledge of what tough to get human intelligence sources and materials may show, or historically -- what preferences, capabilities, experiences and limitations terrorists carry with them. It can assume that there are more terrorists expertly trained in many degrees and methods of mayhem and working themselves into place than there are actual terrorists. For the anti-terrorism effort, it is only necessary to assign a simple universality to fragility and vulnerability and degrees of omniscience and unlimited resources to the adversary. It is easy, so to speak, to think of things that are easy for terrorists to do.

It's part of a larger original here. [Helpful hint: You might enjoy the article "Over invested in anti-terror widgets and nostrums," too.] And it was revisited a few weeks ago in "One year later on the Doom line."

It comes as a slight surprise then to see the same idea starting to be entertained in a place which is usually seen as the intellectual home of the professional cadre of threat assessors, Foreign Affairs, the policy journal published by the Council on Foreign Relations.

"But if it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it?" asks the author of the article.

"Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that, according to security experts, could so easily be exploited?"

Incredible!

It's a bit like seeing the town whore begin suddenly applying for correspondence courses with the Church Universal and Triumphant. You can't help but be astounded and then begin to wonder how long the seizure will last.

"A fully credible explanation for the fact that the United States has suffered no terrorist attacks since 9/11 is that the threat posed by homegrown or imported terrorists . . . has been massively exaggerated," the article continues at one point.

"The massive and expensive homeland security apparatus erected since 9/11 may be . . . taxing all to defend the United States against an enemy that scarcely exists."

Coming from a learned organ of the CFR, it's virtually heresy. And someone may have to be imprisoned in a tower until a recant is delivered.

But don't fear for the professional fear-mongers. Because next week they'll be right back with something else, for after all:
JOE STEFANO: Passes at 84

Joe Stefano, one of Dick Destiny's inspirations, has died at the age of 84.

Stefano, creator of the screenplay for Psycho, was -- in this scribe's opinion -- far more influential for the Gothic sci-fi tv series, The Outer Limits.

As a kid, Dick Destiny was genuinely frightened by many episodes of The Outer Limits, a series that captured an early cold and clammy doom in black and white Cold War television.

Stefano was heavily involved in the creation of Please Stand By, the pitched series which became The Outer Limits.

"Stefano's education in the tasks of producership was furious and rapid," relates the book, "The Outer Limits: The Official Companion." "From the day 'Outer Limits' commenced, it absorbed all his time. When he wasn't writing or rewriting, he was meeting with writers, screening actors or holed up in editing rooms . . . "

Tremendous Stefano-pennded episodes included "A Feasibility Study," in which inhabitants from the ruined planet, Luminos, kidnap an American neighborhood as breeding stock, and "Nightmare," in which a future American world federation enlists the help of an alien race to perpetrate the sham of an interplanetary war. "Feasibility Study" was so effective, it was recreated for the much less successful resurrection of the series in the 90's.

Other Stefano episodes included "The Zanti Misfits," a story in which palm-sized ants, criminals from the planet of the same name, land in the southwestern desert and are exterminated by a regiment of the army, "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork," a dark study of an energy being made from a mote of dust and the corporate weapons lab trying to control it, and "The Invisibles," a claustrophobic and paranoid tale of trilobite-like aliens, the size of pumpkins, parasitizing leaders in US government. All were variable allegories on the modern American belief, and the costs associated with it, that evil forces from outside are always on the attack.

A special Dick Destiny favorite was the sombre and rainy, "The Forms of Thing Unknown," starring David McCallum, "Ilya Kuryakin" from "The Man from U.N.C.L.E," as the inventor of a time machine beset by unscrupulous women.

"[T]he scheming Kassios and the meek Lennora," who have just killed their vile boyfriend, Andre Pavan, are befriended by the lonely and naive McCallum, a scientist called "Mr. Tone." Tone is the creator of a "time-tilter" -- and uses it to bring Pavan back to life during a thunderstorm. It ends very badly.

The dramatic atmosphere and morality of the Outer Limits has never been duplicated in modern television science-fiction. (Although the new Battlestar Galactica comes close.)

At its best, it was black and unrelenting, but always with a strong moral thread, exotically capturing the Zeitgeist of the American military industrial complex and the Cold War. Joseph Stefano was the show's beating heart.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

DRANO BOMBS 2.0: Expert anti-terror education and our law & order society

Last week, DD blog set aside for special ridicule one example of "security training" in the war against terror. Produced in a master's thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, the work was judged utterly out-of-touch.

DD blog excerpted a paragraph discussing the teenage boy-fueled phenomenon of "drano bombs," the mixing of the popular pipe cleaner with balls of aluminum foil in capped plastic soda bottles. The thesis from the Naval Postgraduate School framed the same thing in the context of domestic terrorism.

Dick Destiny found this so absurd and intelligence-insulting, it decided to take another whack at the thing, entitled Common Chemicals as Precursors of Improvised Explosive Devices: The Challenges of Defeating Domestic Terrorism.

Once again, consider the excerpt:



DD blog, with GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow T-shirt on, then produced a link to a video showing some nerds making drano bombs in a basement. It was so popular, now it's unavailable.

"Try again later," Google Video brightly recommends.

(Almost everything comical or stupid Dick Destiny blog links to goes poof in a couple weeks. Drano bomb demos, photo albums of Lafayette athletes and their women in drunken stupors, etc. Sheesh.)

However, an adequate substitute is found in the work of the River Road Rednecks, here. The River Road Rednecks set their drano bomb instruction and demonstration to country music, with the firing rangesetting in a white-trash country backlot.

Dick Destiny blog might have chosen Big & Rich's "Comin' To Your City" or something off the new Montgomery Gentry LP as background music rather than rustic "Deliverance"-style theme. That would have made it more attractive for coverage in altie weeklies, preferably located in the south, where the writers can take 250 words to marvel over the miracle of being able to mash popular music together with inane home-movie slices taken from American life.

But the River Road Rednecks appear to have done a bang-up job on drano bombs, one more momentarily entertaining than those available from YouTube in the same genre. The rules of journalism now require this article to tell you, or imply, that YouTube is the fountain from which all wisdom and culture flows.

In any case, what is to be thought when a graduate school is teaching courses in national security in which students are benightedly allowed to believe drano bombs are something connected with terrorism?

That's rhetorical.

In any case, careful with those drano bomb vids, fellows.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

DOCTORS STRANGEBUG & ACID-THROWER: Official testimony from 1995

Bill Patrick, the United States' dark guru of biowarfare, was in the news recently.

"Although liquid bombs are in the news these days, a possibly more harmful weapon could become a reality within the next few years," wrote a Louisiana newspaper.

"William Patrick III, who has more than 50-years experience in biological warfare, said dissemination is the main hurdle left to perfecting biological warfare. The biological agents are out there, Patrick said Wednesday at the Fourth Annual Instructor Professional Development Conference sponsored by the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training at LSU. The only thing lacking is getting those agents to a target. But some governments and terrorists are working on that process, said Patrick . . . "

One can question the utility of Bill Patrick, other than as a teller of scarey stories, at any professional development conference on biomedical research and training.

After all, what does Bill Patrick offer? Think a moment. How good for the nation is professional development and training in the making of germ weapons?

If one wants to violate the Biological Weapons Convention, an arms control treaty the US is signatory to, then Bill Patrick would be the perfect choice to drag out of retirement.

But Patrick was known prior to the Amerithrax mailings as one of the primary voices from the bioterror-is-coming lobby. Journalists, particularly those at the New York Times, loved his tales of how easy it was to cause microbial mayhem. Always bragging about making wonderful infectious powders for the US military, one would have thought Patrick was a scientist on a par with those who worked in the Manhattan Project.

Not quite.

Quoting from the blog a few months back:

No longer did [Bill Patrick] tell tales of how good his microbial preparations had been. Newspaper articles on him flying about the country to deliver seminars on bioterror, one -- for example, in Hollywood, for an audience of the well-to-do and reported in the Los Angeles Times, stopped. His rambles to reporters on how easy it was to dispense powders of . . . death over Maryland and the capitol were silenced . . .

In a review of Judith Miller's book, Germs, for which Patrick was a primary source, I wrote:

On Sunday, October 14, Judith Miller of The New York Times wrote of her personal anthrax scare, "As I washed my hands and tried to dust off the powder that clung to my pants and shoes, I thought about what Bill Patrick, my friend and bioweapons mentor had told me . . . "

We should all be so lucky to have as friend and "bioweapons mentor" someone who, according to Miller's book, Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War, infected "volunteers" with Q fever microbes to see what dosages were effective in producing illness, a man who was "overjoyed" when a field test on animals went south and people who weren't supposed to get sick did, because it proved his team of sorcerer's apprentices were producing "a product that was very, very good." The reader is informed that everyone survived. That made it all right?

In a better world, a Bill Patrick would have been given the bum's rush a long time ago . . .

For the most part, Bill Patrick has been given the bum's rush since 9/11. This is a good thing. No cornucopia of lurid quotes about his splendidly made powders of death crept into the Lousiana newsmedia.

To get the flavor of Bill Patrick, it's useful to see what he actually had to say when speaking to a crowd on bioterror.

The following quotes come from a conference on biological and chemical terror preparedness, held back in 1995, in Maryland. (Thanks to RMS for pointing it out.)

Patrick's comments start on his scenarios to attack the World Trade Center with germs. Keep in mind, this is well before Osama bin Laden and the hijackers made a monkey out of his claims about the utility of biological weapons, as compared to jetliners.

"The size of the building is also very important," said Patrick. "The World Trade Center, a heck of a big building, contains 10 billion liters of air, huge building. We are going to grow bacillum toxin in garbage cans and we are going to assume that we get good growth of the toxin.

". . .Already you can see that this is getting out of hand. We are going to disseminate this amount of material in a 2-gallon garden sprayer. Can you imagine spraying 264 gallons by means of a garden sprayer in a building intake?

"It does not make any sense.

"Anyway, using the number of human doses we have available, it did not work. You got 0.00002 human doses per liter of air so you would have to be in that building for several years before you could accumulate that level of dose.

"Why did botulinum toxin fail? We all know that botulinum toxin is the most toxic substance known to mankind. It is highly effective when you go around shooting into the gut or giving it by the oral route, but it is significantly less effective by the aerosol route. Let me give you an example. It takes 1,500 mouse gut doses to give you one mouse aerosol dose, over three logs difference. You see that limits the effectiveness of botulinum toxin on an open-air target.

"We are going to attack the World Trade Center with the old U.S. spray-dried botulinum toxin. Notice that our concentration is much higher, that we have a very small particle size; the dose per man is the same. This time we are going to use a disseminator, the ADC fire extinguisher using C02. It makes a beautiful disseminator. You get about 40 percent of your material up as an aerosol, and it only takes one kilogram. That is what we are going to disseminate, one kilogram, and I can hide one kilogram on my person and not be obvious. If people are in the building for one minute, they do not, of course, get sufficient material, but if they are in the building for 20 minutes, we reach our first LD 50. Of course, most people are in the building where they work for more than 20 minutes."

Don't be flustered by the jargon and figures. It's just standard Patrick boasting.

You should be scratching your head right now, asking the question: "What the heck does this have to do with defense or preparation against bioterrorism?"

Almost nothing.

It's simply Bill Patrick going on about how he could fatally sicken people in the WTC with his products from the US's old Cold War bioweapons arsenal.

It's entirely about Bill Patrick and his bioweaponeering talent back in the days when he was employed by the military.

"In this next situation, we are going to attack the World Trade Center with crude tularemia; francisella tularensis," continues Patrick.

"I want to use 1,000 blood auger plates that you can buy practically anywhere: hospital supply houses, for instance. I can scrape 1,000 of these plates in 2 hours without a problem. I am going to scrape with a cotton swap so that I get confluent growth. In about 36 hours I am going to wash off the material that has grown there. I am going to wash it off with saline. If the terrorist is wise he is going to add a little sugar to maintain isotensity of the cell wall, cell membrane. I am going to Waring-blend this mixture and then I am going to filter it through cheese cloth.

"I am going to use a garden sprayer to disseminate the material. The critical point here, in addition to the agent, is that the garden sprayer has got to develop 90 psi; if it is less than that, you can forget it.

"One thousand plates with this little scheme will yield 5 liters of product or 1.32 gallons of material. Trust me on this. The agent concentration is not like a sophisticated production facility, but we have five times 108 of these cells per milliliter. The dose for man is a very conservative 50 cells; I could as easily have used 10 cells if it is fresh material. The garden sprayer has a 2-gallon capacity, 90 psi, one split orifice. I am going to disseminate at the rate of 1 gallon per 10 minutes, and I am going to use a very low disseminating efficiency because
garden sprayers are not very efficient. I am going to get 0.001 percent of the material that I have. Attacking the World Trade Center with your good friend tularemia!"

". . . Finally, I believe that a dedicated terrorist group can produce crude BW agents with simple procedures, with readily available equipment. I think they can jerry rig disseminating devices from equipment that can be purchased from a local hardware store. They can infect and kill large numbers of people in confined areas like buildings. The Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnel was a very interesting study, classified, of course. The subway systems in New York, Chicago, and Washington. They will certainly produce panic and hysteria."

If you read Patrick's entire presentation in the original, along with the rest of those from the old bioterror-is-coming lobby, the audience doesn't quite get Bill Patrick. A couple venture to say, logically, that if everything is possible just as he says it is, there's nothing anyone can do. The terrorists will strike, lots of people will get sick and die, and emergency services will be crushed.

Just get lots of body bags and quicklime.

Of course, Bill Patrick doesn't have an answer to any of it. At least, not any good ones. It was only ever his job to convince people that bioweapons capabilities as developed by clandestine national programs, like his, could now be assumed to be within reach of small terrorist groups.

The testimony included in this long .pdf (link at the foot of this article) include words from members of the it's-easy-to-mount-a-chemical attack lobby, too.

Consider Army expert Fred Sidell. Chemical attack -- mass acid-throwing -- is easy for Fred. All the information is on the Internet. You can make poison gas in your home. All you need is one book, Silent Death, by an author called "Uncle Fester."

"It is great reading if you enjoy this kind of thing," says Sidell. "I read it in one sitting; it was great. There are a lot of different types of processes here for how to make chemical agent materials. There is also some basic toxin materials in here as well, on how to make ricin and other things. Other books out there are The Anarchist's Cookbook, the Poisoners Handbook and the Poor Man's Atomic Bomb. As someone just mentioned, there is a lot on the Internet. So it is not even difficult for the bad guy to figure out . . ."

Dick Destiny blog has written quite a bit about these books. See here on The Poisoners Handbook. And I deal with the infamous Silent Death here and here.

What these books are and were good for is mention by the chemical and bioterrorism lobby as evidence that anyone can make weapons of mass destruction in their kitchen. It's not important that anyone know what is actually in such books. It is only important that the myths being spun about them are believed.

Knowing that, the one way to view such testimony as Sidell's, is with contempt.

Those in attendance or transcribing are being told stories of substantial distortion and exaggeration to scare them into a frame of mind that accepts the idea that exotic terror weapons can be assembled from materials in your house, simply by following scribbles found on the Internet or in thin, error-filled tomes, put together by dodgy small publishers.

Make a chlorine weapon in your bathroom, says Sidell.

"If you want to check out chlorine, take some household ammonia and some household bleach, lock yourself in the bathroom, turn off the ventilator fan, and put it in a bucket. Shake it up and let it sit a little. What you will produce is chlorine gas. You will see green gas come off the mixture and it will burn out your larynx."

Such clowning and showing off! Yes, yes, sir, mothers told us never to mix ammonia and bleach or you might see spots and stars before your eyes, but it's not a weapon of terror.

Sidell also goes onto mention how terrorists could spray people with malathion or some other insecticide. He mentions teaching FBI agents about the terror danger. No recognition that illegals and immigrant farm workers in California get sprayed with insecticide when they're in the fields and that the state compiles statistics on it.

Remember, all this was delivered in 1995 in a seminar called "Responding to the Consequences of Biological and Chemical Terrorism" at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. It's not so much about responding or training responders as it is about the lecturers telling people how easy it is to create a variety of terror weapons and plans.

Shameful, don't you think? Here's the ugly thing.

Monday, August 28, 2006

CONFISCATE ALL CAMPFIRE TABLETS

Not TATP peroxide bombs, but HMTD peroxide bombs, claim the usual anonymous sources. This from today's New York Times in: Suspects Not Ready for Immediate Strike.

The newspaper story backed off the stock hype that's been the rule on the plot. It's not easy to tell why.

In any case: "Despite the charges, officials said they were still unsure of a critical question: whether any of the suspects was technically capable of assembling and detonating liquid explosives," wrote the Times. Bravo!

"A chemist involved in that part of the inquiry said HMTD, which can be prepared by combining hydrogen peroxide with other chemicals, 'in theory is dangerous,' but whether the suspects "had the brights to pull it off remains to be seen.'

And that is a quote worth preserving! It sets into play a somewhat different set of technical requirements for the making of a so-called instant bomb. It inspires new questions about the origination of blanket rules for dispensing all types of liquids prior to flight. It also asks why the original feeding frenzy was so joyfully indulged in.

Below, see formulation for HMTD, also derived from the Journal of the American Chemical Society paper, "Decomposition of Triacetone Peroxide is An Entropic Explosion," discussed here.
In essence, this one involves synthesis of a compound similar in nature to TATP, from only slightly different "household" chemicals, again with all the caveats and baggage previously described. In this case, substitute hexamine (or hexamethylenetetramine) for acetone.

Hexamine, in this case, being equivalent to campfire tablets. Numerous pages on the commercial products are littered around the web.

"They say the estimate of 10 planes [to be attacked]' was speculative and exaggerated," wrote the Times. "In his first public statement after the arrests, Peter Clarke, chief of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Police, acknowledged police were still investigating 'the number, destination and timing of the flights that might be attacked.'"

As has been said, being circumspect with regards to the statements of Peter Clarke is good policy and practice.

"In retrospect . . . there may have been too much hyperventilating going on," said one of NYC's former anti-terror officials, the standard reasonable quote by the chocolate jimmy on top of the cupcake in terror plot reporting.

Below, see diagram of HMTD reaction, excerpted from JACS paper cited upstream. Don't be floored by the formulas. Think of it like, perhaps, an amateur terrorist -- someone with perhaps little or no know-how would, working from some scribble on a piece of paper:

Campfire tablets plus peroxide plus lemon juice ----> Pow!




Late breaking, sort of: The New York Times embargoed its complete story -- In Tapes, Receipts and a Diary, Details of the British Terror Case -- Martyrdom Motive and 'Bomb Factory' Cited -- in deference to British laws which prohibit publishing of materials which might be prejudicial to criminal cases.

Cryptome put it on-line here.

During the case of the alleged London ricin ring, similar although not precisely identical conditions led me to hold back publishing on the case until April 11, two days before the gag order was lifted in Britain.

The Times article mentioned law firms for the defendants in the peroxide bomb case declined to comment. Dick Destiny blog bets one of the firms in question is that of famous Brit human rights lawyer, Gareth Pierce. Her firm was also one tapped during the trial of the London ricin ring.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

THE DAILY FALLOUT: Part IV or V in a series


The good news about nuclear destruction, seriously.

Tragically, though, most Americans today won't give much credence to this good news, much less seek out such vital life-saving instruction, as they have been jaded by our culture's pervasive myths of nuclear un-survivability.

Most people think that if nukes go off, then everybody is going to die, or will wish they had. That's why you hear such absurd comments as: "If it happens, I hope I'm at ground zero and go quickly."

This defeatist attitude was born as the disarmament movement ridiculed any alternatives to their agenda. The sound Civil Defense strategies of the '60s have been derided as being largely ineffective, or at worst a cruel joke . . . In fact, though, the biggest surprise for most Americans, if nukes are really unleashed, is that they will still be here!

Most will survive the initial blasts because they won't be close enough to any "ground zero," and that is very good news . . .

-- from WorldNetDaily, in an editorial by the CEO of a company developing "Civil Defense solutions to government, military, private organizations and individual families."


Your insurer won't cover you or your property in case of nuclear attack.

Another major provider . . . states: "We will cover customers if they are injured as a result of 'conventional' terrorist activity, ie caused by explosives, guns, knives, etc."

So, while it is always advisable to check with one's insurer, most customers need not worry unduly about nullifying cover in a war zone. It is vital, however, that they do not participate in violence . . . Acting in a foolhardy manner likely to result in injury could also leave you unprotected. In addition, policies exclude cover for treatment arising from chemical or nuclear attack.

-- from The Daily Telegraph



Don't be a pessimist.

The pessimists assume that the dangers of a nuclear confrontation will increase exponentially as the number of nuclear powers grows and that a future catastrophe is all but certain. Since little can be done to avert such a terrible outcome or mitigate its consequences, the argument goes, efforts to stop proliferation in the first place must be redoubled. The optimists, by contrast, assume that the stability that nuclear weapons seem to have brought to the superpowers' Cold War confrontation will be replicated. Far from being a sure disaster, they argue, the spread of nuclear weapons could be a relatively cheap and easy (albeit nerve-racking) solution to the age-old problem of war.

-- from Foreign Affairs


Youtube video, the font from which all wisdom flows.

"Iraq - The Truth?"
features very little graphic violence. The narrator speaks English as somber orchestral music plays in the background. He argues that the war in Iraq is unjust. There is also a veiled threat that the U.S. will face nuclear attack. He finishes by complimenting Americans on their ability to produce great leaders with a subtle suggestion that they violently overthrow the current administration.

Another antagonizing news story on the miracle of Youtube


Feeling anxious?

If you are the anxious type, you're in trouble if you've read even this far, and no doubt there is more . . . Now, we can either shrug it off, reasoning that we can't possibly protect everybody against everything, or we can get more serious about security at the ports.

Let's get more serious. Port security is much improved, compared to a few years ago. But that's comparing it to relatively little at all.

A Seattle Times reporter as an experiment recently infiltrated the Port of Long Beach and discovered that sneaking himself in doesn't take the imagination of a RAND researcher. You just hop a truck and roll right on in, showing no more credentials than a driver's license, which nobody really looks at anyway . . . If you were scared by our second paragraph, how does the handling of truck security strike you? A nuke doesn't have to arrive only by ship, does it?

An editorial in a soCal newspaper.


God favors nuclear war waged by the righteous.

Since God is partial on righteous wars, this “… self-sacrificing love that is willing, if necessary, to lay its life down for another…” – the very essence of God’s war versus evil that the likes of Cindy Sheehan mock with disdain -- “… includes the legitimate and deadly use of force…”

Which means that if the evildoer of Iran launches the first nuclear attack to wipe Israel off the map and at the same time strikes and harms us because of our strategic alliance with Israel, we apply the law of Moses… lex talionis [“the law of like for like”].

In other words, simply drop the nukes on the aggressor with divine justification that we are no longer engaged in carnal warfare but we are launching a Godly War to end all evil wars, which proves my premise that under Christ’s Gospel, this ultimate war is not necessarily evil. Judgment day is perhaps a prelude to another biblical genesis – mankind’s new beginning.

-- from The American Chronicle


With enough shovels, we're all going to make it, but not the Democrats. The draft is coming back, too. All out war with the Middle East.

. . . the fallout shelter is coming back, too . . . when dealing with a possible strike from a single weapon, or at most a mere handful of weapons, the logic of the fallout shelter is compelling. We’re going to need to be able to evacuate our cities in the event of a direct attack, or to avoid radiation plumes from cities that have already been struck. Tens or hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved by such measures.

For starters, the dovish Democrats are doomed. In “Hawkish Gloom,” I pointed in broad terms to the imminent hawkification of the United States . . . the revitalized George McGovern-Howard Dean wing of the Democratic party cannot survive much past the moment when Iran gets the bomb. . . .

Funny how the very thing the doves don’t want — a preemptive strike on Iran, is the only thing that can save them.

. . . the only middle way between helpless acceptance of nuclear terror and massive nuclear retaliation against countries that may not even have attacked us, is going to be through conventional invasions.

From Walter Groteschele, at The National Review.



Histortical backgrounder: T.K. Jones, patron saint of the coming great bomb sling!

From Robert Scheer's "With Enough Shovels:"

"Thomas K. Jones, the man Ronald Reagan had appointed Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Strategic and Theater Nuclear Forces, told me that the United States could fully recover from an all-out nuclear war . . . in just two to four years . . .

"T.K., as he prefers to be known, added that nuclear war was not nearly as devastating as we had been led to believe. He said, 'If there are enough shovels to go around, everybody's going to make it.' The shovels were for digging holes in the ground, which would be covered somehow or other with a couple of doors and with three feet of dirt thrown on top, thereby providing adequate fallout shelters for the millions who had been evacuated from America's cities to the countryside. 'It's the dirt that does it,' he said."

Excerpt here.

EVIDENCE OF THE PURE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS

The articles on Dick Destiny blog are flypaper for the best and brightest. As evidence, consider the following search strings before journeying to favorite pages:

"TATP" and "peroxide nail polish bomb" -- self-explanatory

"hydrochloric acid bomb" -- Improvised cyanide munition

"how to kill a person by poisoning" -- Botox Shoe of Death

"how to make botulism" -- Horse dropping or cow dropping?

"where can I buy cyanide" -- Mediocre terror/nuisance all-purpose flypaper.

"bible codes explosion bomb new york" -- The Daily Fallout

"destroy western civilization + iran's' plan" -- The Daily Fallout, Pt. III

"bioterrorism inevitable" -- Bioterror inevitable: For second or third time this week Ha-ha!

"comet and draino bomb" -- Drano bombs & duds What, not Mentos & soda?

Now that I'm done with today's minor record-keeping, the best headline and picture combination of all time: The New York Times doesn't know Dick (Destiny)

Although now I look like this . . .

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

KEEP THE BULLSHIT DETECTOR HANDY

Now that you've had a chance to let the Monday news of the charges against the alleged British liquid bomber terrorists sink in, let's review some of it.

Dick Destiny addressed deputy assistant police commissioner Peter Clarke's reputation here.

Generously, you have to take whatever Clarke says about evidence that's been gathered with a shaker of salt for reasons not apparent to most of the American newsmedia but obvious to many in Britain.

Although the journalists in the States don't get it, when Dick Destiny was talking with a journalists from the BBC over the weekend, there's ready admission from that end that a substantial portion of the English polity -- especially in the law-abiding Muslim population -- views terror announcements from the authorities with anywhere from a fair to a credibility-roasting amount of suspicion.

This is characterized in quotes taken from the British newsmedia a week ago here.

Restated, in brief:

". . . Many Britons believe that ministers not only exaggerated but lied about intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to provide a basis for the 2003 invasion, an affair which has done untold damage to public trust in the government . . . The Iraq intelligence debacle was followed by a string of security and intelligence blunders, the most tragic being the police shooting of an innocent man mistaken for a suicide bomber . . . It later emerged that police had been acting on only the flimsiest of intelligence . . .

"Most recently, a dramatic raid on the home of a Muslim family in Forest Gate, east London, has again highlighted the fallibility of intelligence . . . [the June raid] . . . resulted in the police shooting of one of the suspects, later found to be innocent. [A] suspected chemical weapons factory was never found . . . "
The chap from the Beeb also mentioned the Forest Gate incident as an extreme sore point.

In addition, British prosecutors have been seen as ludicrous in the case of a framejob instigated by a newspaper and handed over to authorities, known as the trial of the Red Mercury Gang.

Red mercury is a long-standing hoax and prosecutors asked that the jury not take that into account.

"The Crown's position is that whether red mercury does or does not exist is irrelevant," said the prosecutor in the case. The jury subsequently cleared the men in the dock.

In today's Los Angeles Times, reporter Kim Murphy recounted the appearance of the eleven accused liquid bomb plotters in court where eight were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and terrorism.

One American diplomat, granted anonymity, furnished quote on terror capability of the kind one has come to expect and despise from those usually granted anonymity.

"The diplomat said U.S. officials have taken the evidence seriously despite the public skepticisim in Britain . . . ," wrote Murphy.

Although only hydrogen peroxide has been attested to as part of the evidence, with no specificity as to its amount or grade, "With some scientific background, some guidance from someone knowledgeable of the chemicals and processes, no it would not be very difficult [to presumably make a bomb]."

It's a quote anyone could have furnished. So why not either leave it out or find someone willing to have their name printed? As for, "it would not be very difficult to do" -- readers can review what Dick Destiny blog thinks of such claims.

This doesn't rule out that someone could sneak bombs onto an airplane. But it doesn't get the press off the hook in scrutinizing arguments from authority.

So far, the best that has been produced is some talk of hydrogen peroxide and a "17-year old boy, who was not identified because of his age, was charged with possessing a book on bombs, suicide notes, and the wills of people who were prepared to commit acts of terrorism. He also had in his possession a map of Afghanistan containing information 'likely to be useful' to a person preparing an act of terrorism . . . " This, from the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

While the evidence has been described as immense by British authorities, the substance of it devoted to accurately describing materials and methods -- which would allow one to get a handle on actual capabilities rather than just murderous desire -- is still thin tea.

The New York Times put Alan Cowell on the story and his reporting was not substantially different from that published in the LA Times.

Cowell, however, merits special attention because he did a patently awful job while attempting to do catch-up coverage on the foul-up that was the London ricin trial in April 2005.

Dick Destiny blog recounts Cowell's wretched performance, written of on GlobalSecurity.Org here.
On April 13 [2005], the New York Times covered the Bourgass trial. The Times has had a documented rough time of it reporting on the intersection between alleged exotic al Qaida weapons and the war in Iraq/war on terror. Its article on the alleged poison ring in London did not depart from tradition.

Reporter Alan Cowell furnished a piece that was largely a mixture of UK anti-terror forces jive and frankly weird mistakes brooking no intrusion of reality. In the story's fourth paragraph, Cowell writes, "Details of the trial emerged only today after a judge lifted strict reporting restrictions on two secret jury trials of Mr. Bourgass, arrested in the aftermath of the reported discovery of traces of ricin in an apartment in north London in January 2003."

In the very next sentence, Cowell writes: During [Bourgass's] arrest, in Manchester in the north of England nine days after the ricin was found ..."

It is not until well down into the Times story that the reporter gets around to printing quote from a defense lawyer that "no traces of manufactured ricin had been found," perhaps confusing himself, editors and readers . . .

[Cowell] further wrote, "[The terrorists] were said to have used household ingredients like tobacco, cherry stones and castor oil to make poisons." Ricin does not come from castor oil and "poisons," those discussed in the Bourgass trial, cannot be made from it. Attention, New York Times! Castor seeds were recovered, castor seeds!

This was journalistic clowning of the worst kind. Dick Destiny blog had access to evidence presented in the London ricin trial and Cowell's say-so bore absolutely no resemblance to what those with direct experience had in hand.

Why would this be of importance?

For that, it is necessary to again recall the London ricin trial, one which the US newsmedia largely declined to cover.

The verdicts -- not guilty for everyone but murderer Kamel Bourgass, whose knifing of a British constable during his apprehension was not a direct terror action, were awkward. Bourgass was also convicted of the unusual crime of conspiracy to create a public nuisance with poisons and explosives.

Bourgass and the other Muslims roped in with him had taken part of the central stage in the run up to the war in Iraq. In Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council, the London ricin ring was connected through an intermediary -- who it later turned out had been tortured -- to al Zarqawi in Iraq. This was evidence, it was said, that al Qaeda was directing chemical attacks aimed at England.

During the trial, none of this was proven. Indeed, the original hearsay presented to the newsmedia, wasn't even brought. The prosecution could not connect any of the defendants to al Qaeda even though it tried to do so through the use of a variety of documents on chemical weapons and poisons obtained in Afghanistan after the route of the Taliban.

The story is long and complicated, recounted here, in the articles dated from April 2005.

Additional evidence, provided by the British metropolitan police in a videotape of Operation Springbourne, or the breaking up of the alleged Bourgass ricin ring is here.

Watch closely.

The first envelope contains a handful of ground spice. Quite the weapon of mass destruction, capable of poisoning many! The round things in the dish are cherry pits. England was going to be attacked with the fiendish cherrystones of jihad! Plus, a coffee grinder.

It was these things, along with some foolish recipes scribbled off an American web server, and a jewelry tin containing a handful of castor seeds, which were presented as the basis for mention of the London ricin ring in Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council. And, therefore, part of the evidence for war with Iraq.


It looks absurd and it is. A reasonable person would be enraged by it. But it was not taken so at the time because no one had any idea, outside of authorities, what the evidence looked like. And they weren't furnishing the details.

The U.S. press covered the ricin ring story but asked no serious questions. And then it promptly forgot about the matter. The Brit press went into hyserical overdrive, one tabloid proclaiming of the al Qaeda chemical threat: It's Here.

Had the U.S newsmedia made any attempt to seriously cover the London ricin trial, it would now be obvious to its reporters why extra effort is called for in scrutiny of the airplane liquid bombers.

Perhaps the liquid bomb plot is just as British authorities have said. Or maybe it is something different, threatening, but not of the degree of menace described in early days of reporting. And perhaps it is -- and let us hope not -- London ricin ring, the sequel, or something similar.

We'll be the worse for it, if so. Becuase the U.S. press won't be able to keep its attention on the ball for the couple of years it's going to take to get this into and through the Old Bailey.
OH, YOU'RE SO RUDE!

The Left furnished truth in packaging. The stark visual cues let it be known that this was garage punk for suffocating the annoying--presumably those in Hagerstown, where the band was formed. The blasting noise of the band--Jim Swope’s guitar through a Fender Twin set to crushing treble and singer Brian Sefsic chanting as charmlessly as Iggy on The Stooges--combined in a mix to scratch diamonds. You imagined them to be churls who meant exactly what they sang on "Fuck It," a tune about barflies. Read the rest in the Baltimore City Paper here.

Next on today's menu, Killola's Louder, LOUDER! Astonishingly, used copies are already going for about 40 bucks on Amazon!

Defending the good rep of ’70s lippy girl new wave, Killola commit to all the pop tricks of Holly & The Italians, Sue Saad & The Next, Pearl Harbor & The Explosions and a couple other ampersand bands you can't remember for [the kickoff tune] "Barrel of Donkeys." "I guess you could call me talkative" chatters vocal chameleon Lisa Rieffel straight off, then proving it by mixing annihilating putdowns—"Your manners are poor and your nails are dirty!” with ... And the rest is on PaperThinWalls.com, here.



In other rude matters, The Washington Post reported Tower Records filing for bankruptcy and up for sale.

With a Tower in Pasadena, for over a decade it's been where Dick Destiny has bought most of his records. The prices were the highest in town but the selection catered to my tastes. Where else would I have bought the uncouth work of Point Blank or the cheesy rock of the Angels and Teazes, written of yesterday? Plus there's a Stampeders collection I've been dawdling on. "Hit the Road Jack," Tower! No!

BestBuy moved into town with much lower pricing. And while I do shop there a few times a year, it's obvious their selection is worse. BestBuy offends. From the pics on the front wall of the neatly uniformed seven dollars-or-so-an-hour employees, it's a store, like many patronized by Americans, built primarily on slave labor goods and modelled on the Walmart way of doing business.

And you know that process where someone has to run up to you in greeting, asking if you need assistance within 30 seconds of entering? That's not because they like you or BestBuy is particularly interested in a good service reputation. It's because businesses like these glommed onto the idea years ago, an unprovable one, that if patrons were met in such a way, it deterred shoplifting.

This model thrills everyone with cheap stuff made by people who earn a handful of pebbles living in deplorable conditions Americans who buy the same stuff would rather not think about, until, that is, that model of business has destroyed every local competitor that paid better but made things priced just a bit too high. And if Americans should somehow be thrown out of work by this process, eventually the truth of it hits home. By then it's too late.

Recorded music, on the other hand, can't be made the US imported-good slave labor way. People can make it on their own dime, but it will have cost them money. They can choose to give it away. Or, if they're lucky, they can get a record company to underwrite them, at which point a considerable amount of money will be spent. And then people, if they so wish, can choose to steal it digitally.

But for the physical good, it can't be priced as a slave labor item, like a CD player or a 175 dollar electric guitar in a cardboard box.

The labels overprice and overpriced their artists. Small changes have been made but not significant ones. And digital distribution is cheaper when it caters to the single downloader, or the mix-and-match listener.

But while Dick Destiny has been on-line longer than digital music, it doesn't fit that demographic. I like to buy something I can hold. I don't enjoy listening to music sitting in front of a flat-panel screen and when I go mobile, it's with a Walkman-like CD player, not an iPod.

So while I'm an old and in the way piece of meat, I'm still here to whip people and whip them I shall. Tower had a purpose and provided goods I enjoyed until the end of its existence.

"They're going to force you to going online now; it's like forcing you to ride the subway," said one man to the Post. "It's the last of an icon around here . . . At Circuit City and Best Buy, they're just throwing whatever up on the shelves. [At Tower] the selection is wide."

One curious graf stood out in the Post article, the contributed quote of the "expert" deserving of a horselaugh:
Tower's popularity extends beyond its customer base, said Geoff Mayfield, an analyst with Billboard.

"The industry wants it to survive," he said. It got a standing ovation from the crowd when it recently won retailer of the year from the major recording merchandisers' trade group, he said.

Perhaps, like some other stores, it could diversify by selling shoes, posters, games and other goods that would appeal to its audience, Mayfield said. "It needs to become a destination," he said. "Otherwise, people will just pass it by."
One wonders where Mayfield has been. Tower did move toward selling both outside and inside-the-mission goods in the past few years. Porn DVDs, racks of trashy pop culture books, a wall of magazines equivalent to a newsstand, dolls, candy, beverages, guitar strings, comic books, and other things I never paid attention to. One thing, however, they did not sell was shoes. Yes, Geoff Mayfield, Tower did not sell shoes. How could they have been so stupid?

The guy's worse than the usual government and anti-terror experts Dick Destiny ridicules.

The rest of the article includes the usual about fickle consumers moving on to other tastes and the merciless ubiquity of the digital realm.

Monday, August 21, 2006

BIG HARD ROCK END-O-SUMMER RUNDOWN

Could you make that wrist a little more limp? The photo to the left is from Angel's The Singles Collection, Vol. 2," a Russo-American import, it's libretto written half in Cyrillic, half in English. Notice -- this is not Vol. 1.

Angel were a Baltimore band swept away to Hollywood and signed on the say-so of Kiss' Gene Simmons around '76 or so. Their first two albums on Casablanca were a mix of heavy metal and trudging prog set to embarrassing Dungeons & Dragons lyrics . (You want that stuff, go for Vol. 1.)

The purist hard rock fans usually prefer them over the later material, when the band was pressured to write singles or appeal to girls by looking like dolls.

Despite white satin garments and too shiny hair, I had all of the records and have come to like the dregs of their catalog best. The Singles -- Vol. 2 collects all of this bubblegum metal including a song about Christmas, delivered twice, one with non-denominational winter lyrics. Best of the lot is a warm and sincere cover of The Rascals' "Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore," sounding a lot like Alvin & the Chipmunks doing rock 'n' roll. Or was it the Evolution Revolution?

"Stick, stick, stick like glue," sings Angel's Frank Dimino on "Stick Like Glue." Indeed, couldn't get it out of my head for two whole days. The CD one also includes "20th Century Foxes," disco rock title tune for "Foxes," the movie, about white-trash & high-life San Fernando Valley girls and Scott Baio with a bad case of blueballs.

Does not contain "Wild & Hot" which may have had the lyrics "'Cuz I'm wild and I'm hot/And I'm ready to trot!"

Imagine having to sing that when you're in your thirties. That'd really suck the air out of you night after night. And that's just what happened to Angel.

'Cuz I'm wild and I'm hot! No, no, damnit, that's the other band, not us, Angel! Canada's Teaze were wild & hot, too. And the lyrics on their first album, reissued this summer, aren't quite as humiliating as Angel's but of similar flavor.

This was another group who sang they were "hot to trot."One guitarist played sans shirt in spandex pants, suspenders and bow-tie, taking on a Chippendales look in venues where women into the real Chippendales would not dare to venture.

It wasn't the lyrics that were important, though, because Teaze-type bands, of which there were many, always write the melodies and riffs first, then glue on words. And so you get basic themes on being cool, like "Boys Night Out," vigorous muscle car rock with lyrics about how the dudes are really going to tear up the town smoking cigarettes, cursing and drinking until daylight.

Wow, guys, get in a chain fight with a biker gang, why dontcha?!

With that as example, you know there's nothing about doing krank until your teeth are gone or being busted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for running a meth lab. It's all dirty clean fun, not like Texans Point Blank, who were singing songs about shooting people and the true purpose of wife-beating around the same time. (You don't have to be an ogre to do hard rock, although, for some people, it really helps.)

"Rockin' With the Music" & "Hot to Trot" -- are titles that furnish you with the Teaze philosophy and while it's fashionable to dismiss such efforts as cliches beneath notice there's gritty pleasure to be had hearing the band work it's way through forty minutes of gutsy, tuneful, and very joyfully played hard rock. Teaze's music sounds as firecracker as the cover looks.

Black Stone Cherry include a show-and-tell DVD on their new one. So you find they're white trash from Kentucky, just like the kids thirty years ago where I grew up. It's reassuring to know that, contrary to the popular conception in the media, the genome of young people hasn't changed one molecule in the intervening decades.

What you get, however, is hard rock by guys who spent hours hanging out on the local auto mechanic's property, spitting chaw on the asphalt, talking about dirt bikes or girls, and urinating on the side of the building after the proprietor went home. Until, inspired by parents who were or are in rock bands and who -- perhaps, told them they looked vaguely like Lynyrd Skynyrd, they decided to take a whack at it themselves. Black Stone Cherry are harmless and friendly enough but should have stuck with chewing tobacco for their satisfaction. (Gooze, you're gonna pay for recommending this one.)

The first eight tunes on the CD are slow, downtuned, serious-man's straining hard rock. It grinds and hollers and you can't remember a blessed riff as soon as it's finished. At tune number eight, Black Stone Cherry mystifyingly decide to do classic rock, "Hell or High Water" having a melody that can be sung along to in the arena. The Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things" follows but while both are fine, neither are strong enough pegs to hang an album on. The first half of the record should have been tossed out before delivery with nary a look back.

The Flairs are a current Canadian band, the beneficiaries of a first round of publicity for Shut Up and Drive, one which netted them almost nothing. I saw the band in one of the guitar mags, and to frame this right, you have to know that the practice in such pubs is to essentially give out freebies to new product in the front of the book. And that more than half the article will be dumbass discussion about what it's like to be a girl doing rock and roll in a man's world. And the specs on the guitars and amplifiers used. It's not always that predictable, some would say so comfortingly so, but the practice is dependably formulaic.

What this also means is that The Flairs are one of those prole hard rock bands deemed completely uninteresting by the vast majority of music editors running reviews and profiles of altie product.

They're not quirkyor literary and they're obviously influenced by 80's-Sunset Strip pop metal and meat-and-potatoes punk rock. (They do a version of Skid Row's MTV hit, "18 & Life." It's not the best song on the CD.) So if you're a music writer you can pitch them around for review and have it met with a shrug or a gratuitous insult on how boring they allegedly sound. And if they get covered, it will be by an intern at a weekly writing for free or almost free, way in the back, limited to a sentence or two connected to an appearance at a local firetrap where they're on the bottom of the bill, or at best, the middle.

The Flairs, in other words, make just the kind of charging hard rock I like. You can play them alongside Teaze and the major difference is only that the songs are sung and written by girls and Flairs lyrics are better. They perform with vigor, tackle their material with enthusiasm, sound like they'd be a heckuva treat for thirty minutes in person, and have written one excellent end-of-summer tune in "Falling Into Pieces."

Suplecs' Powtin' On the Outside, Pawty On the Inside is just right for today, too. Watching Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke strikes the mood for their history. Suplecs were a poor man's stoner rock band who, like everybody, lost everything. They also saw this record, scheduled for release just as Katrina hit, get washed out to sea. CD-Rs went out but no one seemed up for them except the usual fanzine perps.

As a year old relaunch, it deserved another listen. Repeat spins reveal it easy on the ears. The art is standard Man's Ruin slum stoner rock in bib overalls but the delivery is more subtle. Suplecs, for instance, has a singer who tries. There is dynamic to the record and the guitar backs off on the big, fat and heavy knobs here and there, adding colors lighter than electric mud. Suplecs' ship won't come in with this one because they're not elegant, just like all the rest of the CDs reviewed today. If they'd been around in the mid-70's they would have had a fair chance of making four or five records, none of which they would have had to spend their own money on. They might have even made a little on a couple of them.

So make no mistake, they are part of the definition of why people listen to hard rock bands with no chance of even faint commercial success. Not easily expressed in words, it's a vibe from lives that share some sort of community with the listener.
BUSH ADMINISTRATION MYSTIFYINGLY CLASSIFYING ANTIQUE NUCLEAR ARSENAL INFORMATION: The cost of having dangerous ninnies in control

The new fad of making secrets of old and basic information in the public domain on America's Cold War nuclear arsenal is startling but perhaps not surprising. The Bush administration and the Pentagon -- in penchants for secrecy -- have withdrawn, or attempted to withdraw, much legitimate information from the public record. This is an impossible task, particularly with respect to old numbers from the nuclear arsenal, and the foolish and annoying nature of this work doesn't seem to have occurred to our leaders.

One can view it as the cost of gross ignorance in positions of power and leadership.

" . . . The Pentagon is now trying to keep secret numbers of strategic weapons that have never been classified before," said one person to the Washington Post, the paper that first reported the story.

"It's yet another example of silly secrecy," said Thomas Blanton, the archive's director, to the Post.

A government fugleman, Bryan Wilkes, "spokesman for the National Nuclear Security," said just the opposite. White was black.

"There's no question that current classified nuclear weapons data was out there that we had to take back . . . And in today's environment, where there is a great deal of concern about rogue nations or terrorist groups getting access to nuclear weapons, this makes a lot of sense."

"The report comes at a time when the Bush administration's penchant for government secrecy has troubled researchers and bred controversy over agency efforts to withhold even seemingly innocuous information," wrote the Post.

As example of material being classified, or redacted, came from an old chart presented by Melvin Laird to the House Armed Services Committtee in 1971. The chart showed "that the United States had 30 strategic bomber squadrons, 54 Titan intercontinental ballistic missiles and 1,000 Minuteman missiles." These numbers have been blacked out in a copy of the chart viewed in January, according to the newspaper.


Dick Destiny blog, with GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow official T-shirt in place, went to its bookshelf to consult "The History of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal," by James Norris Gibson, published by Brompton in 1989.

On page 14, under "Number of [Titan] missiles deployed: 54 . . . " With 163 constructed and 67 flown as of 1989.

On page 16, in the book's entry on the Minuteman missile program: Minuteman 1A -- 150 deployed, "none in service after 1969"; Minuteman 1B -- 650 total deployed, "none in service after 1974"; Minuteman II -- 500 deployed, "450 in service as of 1986." By reading the text, one can determine about 1,000 Minutemen 1B and II missiles were deployed in 1971.

The book, full of color pictures and figures, is for sale on Amazon. Using the upside down logic quoted in the Post piece, the information in it should set the hair on fire of the dangerous ninniesnational security mandarins, working under the Bush administration.

Before the normalization of this flavor of cracked thinking, it was accepted that publishing the numbers of weapons in the U.S. arsenal was useful in demonstrating the maintenance of deterrence. And productive, ahem, in instilling confidence in adherence to strategic arms limitations treaties.

One also assumes the game of nuclear confrontation, Ultimatum, made by Yaquinto in 1975 and much admired by this blog, also contains material that ought to be classified.

One would also not be surprised to see a withdrawal of common information on warhead yields, missile ranges and the number and types of platforms nuclear bombs are delivered by.
SILL LOOKING GOOD IN LEATHER: More Vic Tanny, one presumes


The iconography On "Denial of Death," The latest CD by NYC's The Brain Surgeons (or Brain Surgeons NYC), resembles that of a motorcycle gang. Call it a revision of the "Transmaniacon MC" Boozefighters-from-the-Algonquin-Hotel mythos off the first Blue Oyster Cult album. Although said by others, it's worth repeating -- the Surgeons are Blue Oyster Cult 2006, while BOC is a cover band doing old hits and other stuff no one listens to. The former never come close to that flavor of kitsch, instead making records still draped in fogs of creepy and creaking-house heavy metal. If they could dig up the guy who did the Me 262-in-Paraguay album art for "Secret Treaties," I'd be even happier.

Upgunned by the addition of Ross the Boss from the Dictators on lead guitar, Denial of Death is a lot louder than any previous Brain Surgeons LP. With no a cappella songs like previous favorites "Biloxi" or dusty blooz ala "Stones in My Passway," the album rips a fair to tremendous trench from "Constantine's Sword" through to the closer, "Change the World Henry," reaching climaxes of Texas shout on "Lonestar" and Motorhead stampede on "1864."

Surgeons singer/guitarist and former rock critic Deborah Frost looks good in leather at the mike and the band insists Ross is a star to Russkis greatly impressed with his old classic Manowar-style guitar-playing. For that you'll want to check "Death Tone" from Battle Hymns, the best, and probably only, heavy metal concept album devoted to the Vietnam vet. I think.
TERROR CHARGES ANNOUNCED IN LONDON: Uh-oh, though, it's Peter Clarke

Terror charges against the liquid bomb airplane plotters were just announced. The news is still thin on the ground.

From the Guardian:
At a joint press conference, the head of the Metropolitan police's anti-terrorist branch, revealed that investigations had uncovered bomb making equipment, the chemical hydrogen peroxide and a number of "martyrdom" videos. In addition to these materials, there were more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones and 8,000 computer media items such as memory sticks, CDs and DVDs

Deputy assistant commissioner Peter Clarke said police also had "highly significant" surveillance that would be used in evidence against the suspects.


From Peter Clarke's statement, on the website of the Metropolitan Police:
This is the first time we have been able to release information about the progress of the investigation, since the morning of the arrests on 10th August.

"This is not because we have wanted to withhold information from the public on the contrary, we want to tell the public as much as we can about the terrorist threat. But we have now reached the stage where I can give you more details. I cannot give you a running commentary on the enquiry. Neither can I give details of the specific evidence against individuals. What I can give is an indication of the type of evidence that will be presented in support of the prosecution.

"First, there is evidence from surveillance carried out before 10 August. This includes important, indeed, highly significant video and audio recordings.

"I can also tell you that since 10 August we have found bomb making equipment. There are chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents and other items.

"We have also found a number of video recordings - these are sometimes referred to as martyrdom videos. This has all given us a clearer picture of the alleged plot.
Even less from Associated Press:
The investigation discovered bomb-making equipment, including chemicals and electrical components, along with the existence of martyrdom videos on the computers belonging to those in custody, said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke. He didn't say if those in custody had made the videos.

Hydrogen peroxide? Of what grade? And no acetone or acid?

Looks like we'll have to wait for more and hope the press is diligent in their digging. That's because Peter Clarke doesn't have such a hot reputation in speaking the bald truth to the public.
During the trial of the alleged London ricin ring, the trial that found no ricin and only laughable materials and plans in the hands of one convicted man, Kamel Bourgass, Clarke was known to exaggerate.

"In fashioning the news [on the London ricin ring], Peter Clarke, the Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner in charge of anti-terrorism, delivered a particularly inflammatory statement to the media. 'The impact on the public, if he [Kamel Bourgass] had succeeded in what he wanted to do, is incalculable,' [he said].

Read the rest from that mess, and it ain't pretty, here.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

DRANO BOMBS & 'ASK PARNEY': Pranks & duds

It's often disappointing to read the 'work' of America's experts on security and terror. Errors are astounding in nature. What's more surprising is that few seem to care. If you don't know what's going on, just pretend you do! It's even better when you have a title!

For example, a 2005 master's thesis from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, entitled "Common Chemicals as Precursors of Improvised Explosive Devices: The Challenges of Defeating Domestic Terrorism," contains the following howler, among others.



The author, a director of homeland security at some unfortunate county in Minnesota, contributed the thesis in fulfillment of requirements for a master's degree in "Security Studies (Homeland Security & Defense)." And while the paper is about chemicals, it's not obvious its creator knows any chemistry.

In any case, the quote on the "draino bomb" is one found ad nauseum on the Internet, usually among the collections of hoarders of anarchy files. You know, the ones made by teenagers, now grown men seemingly bereft of any of the benefits of a solid education, but still devoted to the idea that everyone needs access to poorly conceived homemade formulae for incendiaries and bombs.

In any case, the "draino bomb" file is witless, obviously composed by a kid, who at some time in the past, got a kick out of the idea of riling elders by writing some menacing-looking graffiti on the walls of cyberspace.

"Information wants to be free!" used to be their favorite saying.

What the Naval Postgraduate School author of the thesis doesn't get, however, and this is the disappointing part, is that the recipe for the "draino bomb" is trash.

And since it is trash, there should be no interest in controlling it or even wondering what point its "information" serves. The correct answer is: It doesn't matter!

The violent chemical reactions it purports to tell you how to instigate are more well-illustrated on the Internet in legitimate science courses which few would think of censoring.

But if you cast around on Google looking for references to drano bombs (spelled either the S.C. Johnston way, or the dumbass teenage way), YOU WON'T FIND THEM. And because your comprehension of the science is poor, you'll fail in understanding the risk, or lack of it, and appear a ninny!

Drano bomb files address a couple of different chemical reactions, none of which the various authors of the files seem knowledgeable of.

One is the reaction of aluminum with water and sodium hydroxide, a strong base. It's well described here, at a university chemistry department in Germany.

"This reaction is used in drain cleaners," writes a professor genially. "They are mostly made out of strong alkalis, to which [aluminum] or zinc has been added. The alkalis break down organic residues chemically. In addition, the formation of hydrogen leads to a bubbling effect which adds an additional mechanical cleaning mechanism. "

A slightly pooched nerdy white-trash spin on this chemical reaction, or the making of a drano bomb in the basement before a small but annoyingly admiring audience, is illustrated in this brief video.

Watch it or you'll put your eye out, kid!

Other formulations for prankster "bombs" of this variety include the reaction of bleach, or sodium hypochlorite, and hydrogen peroxide. Note that the scientific exercise for students, here is much less exciting than the unsupervised teenage interpretation here, from a New Jersey newspaper:

The two plastic bottles, filled with chlorine, bleach and peroxide exploded about 2 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. Sunday on a Market Street baseball field, bringing a response from the Bergen County Police Department Bomb Squad and the county's hazardous materials team.

Police said they have reason to believe teenagers were responsible for the devices and that they may have gotten the idea after seeing an episode of the Discovery Channel science show "MythBusters," called "Mentos and Soda," which aired Saturday night.

That episode featured the show's hosts mixing Men- tos candy with diet soda to simulate geysers and explosions, but a description of the show on the TV network's Web site did not mention any experiments with [bleach] and peroxide.
Other variations on this riff include "science camp for small children and idiots" stuff like vinegar and baking soda or adding acid to bleach and capping the bottle. The former reaction generates carbon dioxide, the latter -- chlorine, which is more interesting to the teenage anarchy hobbyists.

The astute reader may have noticed that none of these reactions fit the bill of making a "car explode like in the movies." Indeed, the "draino bomb" file cited by the Naval Postgraduate School student, is idioticcounterintuitive in a number of interesting ways.

Formulations of scouring powder, or Comet, for instance, contains only minor amounts of bleaching powder, or sodium hypochlorite.

Now while all this is very entertaining, it's not so entertaining when one reads it as part of something that's supposed to be part of a serious postgraduate schooling in national security matters.

"Approved by Dr. Douglas Porch, Chairman, Department of National Security Affairs," reads the thesis ominously.

Next up, we return to another Dick Destiny favored terror expert, Civitas Group director and ex-Department of Homeland Security bigwig, Penrose Parney Albright.

Parney Albright, while assistant secretary for Homeland Security, was involved in allegedly improving the nation's defenses against bioterror, among other things.

If you pump his name into Google, like this, your first choice is Parney Albright hosts Ask the Whitehouse at whitehouse.gov.

Outstanding!

"Hi, I'm Parney Albright, and I'm the Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security. It is a real pleasure to be here and I'm looking forward to answering your questions," he writes to attendees at an interactive question-and-answer session on terrorism, one that focused on the biological side of the threat.

Some of the questions were posed by imbeciles, like this one:

"Should we develop the ability to quarantine sections of the country with an electromagnetic wall, to prevent bio spread in case of attack?"

One doesn't really know how to respond when confronted by such a ninny except, maybe, "Silencio!" or "Next!" or the Willy Wonka-inspired fallback, "I don't know what you're saying because you're mumbling."

"I’m unaware of any technology though that would cause an electromagnetic wall to prevent the escape of biological pathogens," answered Albright.

"As much as we’d all like to have these types of things, we are a long, long way from having the shields that Captain Kirk, for example, can call upon to protect his people."

That's game.

But better stuff was on display in another session of "Ask Parney," archived here.


Question -- I keep wondering why, if no biological weapons or chemical weapons have ever been used against us with the exception of anthrax, do we spend so much money on this? Or was the money for this type of funding nonexistant before the previous terrorist attacks? thanks you.

Parney Albright -- That's a very good question . . . Let me try and answer it in a couple of ways.

The first is that the anthrax attacks were not the first time we had had an incident of bioterrorism in this country. You might remember many years ago a cult in Oregon tried to poison a whole bunch of local salad bars with botulism in order to disrupt a local election. So these sorts of things--bioterrorism--has a very long history to it, going back to millennia, when people used to catapult diseased animals over city walls to infect the population of the city under siege.
Parney, arghhh! The Rajneesh cult used Salmonella typhimurium to cause salmonellosis. Botulism is caused by toxins produced by the microbe, Clostridium botulinum.

So, readers, do you think it's (or was) important for someone who was in charge of allocating dollars in the Department of Homeland Security's science and research operations on bioterrorism to know the details?

Further down:


Question -- What type of bio-drugs are the most needed and why?

Parney Albright -- . . . Let me make an important point here—this BioShield legislation not only deals with bio threat, it also deals with developing medical countermeasures for all of the threats. It includes medical countermeasures for chemical attacks. It includes medial countermeasures for radiological attacks as well. The kinds of drugs we are interested are of course vaccines. Ideally you would like to develop a vaccine that would in effect take a particular pathogen off the table entirely. But we also understand that is hard to do and that in many cases what makes more sense to do is to develop a therapeutic to help people who have been exposed. You might recall when we had the anthrax attacks over here on the East Coast, the treatment of choice was something called Cipro. We need to develop more block spectrum anti-virals such as Cipro so that we can deal with a wide variety of threats and we can also deal with threats after the attack has occurred.
Agghhh, Parney! Such clowning! BioShields are failing, Captain!

Cipro is not an anti-viral drug, it is an antibiotic. And anthrax is a bacterial disease, not a viral one.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY REPORT ON MANPADS DEFENSE KERFUFFLE

A few weeks ago the Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy Project, run by Steven Aftergood, posted a DHS reported entitled "Counter MANPADS Progam Summary" on its website. And so the report was downloaded by quite a few people, until this week.

"A July 31 Department of Homeland Security report to Congress on the status of defenses against shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles was removed from the Federation of American Scientists web site after DHS objected (pdf) to its publication," wrote Aftergood.

"DHS urged that the unclassified report, marked For Official Use Only, be taken offline and, upon consideration, we agreed to do so.

"The Report has never been released by DHS to the public because it contains sensitive information such as the transition of military technology for potential civil use, systems performance of the prototype systems being developed by DHS and its partners, and the reliability of such prototype systems," wrote DHS deputy associate general counsel William H. Anderson."

Then Anderson threatened the Secrecy Project.

"Due to the sensitive nature of the Report, I request that your organization immediately remove the Report from its website."

"If the Report is not removed from your website within 2 business days, we will consider further appropriate actions necessary to protect the information contained in the Report."

Aftergood's Secrecy Blog added further comment from a Congressional staffer who had downloaded his copy of the report from FAS.

"[The staffer] said that executive branch restrictions on unclassified information had become a growing hindrance to Congressional oversight. If the document is really sensitive, he suggested, 'it should be classified.'"

Aftergood wrote that FAS would mull over whether it would keep the report off-line, republish portions of it, or the entirety.

Of course, Dick Destiny blog, wearing its official GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow T-shirt, had also downloaded a copy of the report from FAS. And actually read it.

And upon perusal, it is possible to see why DHS might want to control its dissemination. The anti-MANPADS systems under consideration, manufactured by BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman for addition to commercial airliners, don't work.

A few days after FAS' posting of the report, Associated Press filed a story on it.

"It could be 20 years before every U.S. passenger airplane is outfitted with a system to protect it from small portable missiles, according to a government report obtained Monday by The Associated Press.Under a test program, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman developed laser-based systems over the past two years that still don't meet the reliability standards set by the Homeland Security Department . . . " wrote the AP.

The DHS' threatening stunt set up a situation in which it's OK for reporters to have seen the summary, but perhaps not private citizens. This left it up to journalists to inform the public. And when AP chose to inform, it wrote:

"Ultimately, Congress is going to determine whether it wants to support a wide-scale deployment of Manpads countermeasures to the aviation industry," said William Knocke, Homeland Security spokesman.

But you have just read, paradoxically, that a Congressional staffer downloaded his copy from FAS, not the Department of Homeland Security. And that government orders restricting the distribution of unclassified materials were becoming an increasing hindrance to oversight.

The AP news article tended to emphasize the sunny side of the DHS report -- vendor-inspired promises and blandishments that the systems would only cost 1 million dollars per item if the purchase and manufacture of 1,000 units could be guaranteed. It was a boiling down of what amounted to a wild-ass guess by the vendors and DHS, backed up by wishfully-plotted cost graphs and charts, none of which bore any data points anchored to reality.

Associated Press did ask for comment from John Meenan, "executive vice president for the Air Transport Association.

Meenan, wrote the AP, "questioned whether the cost of such systems matches the security risk."

"The counter-Manpads proposals we have seen reflect more vendor say so than security prioritization," said Meenan to AP.

Also included in the summary was descriptions of DHS's anti-shoulder-fired missile system strapped-down chicken test, one which the report refers to as a "sterile" military trial.

Such a trial, the report admits, doesn't come close to replicating conditions as they exist at a busy commercial airport. The strapped-down chicken testing involved single shot fires by shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles against the systems being tested.

"Both the contractors meet the requirement for single missile engagements but do not meet the requirement for simultaneous time of impact dual missile engagements."

And since the systems are not deployable and not installed, it is difficult to understand how publishing a report with a sentence describing the results of testing of such systems makes any difference to national security at all.

Additional testing was recommended by DHS because they, again, did not approach replication of a commercial airport's traffic and ground conditions.

Other limitations elucidated by the report:

The current systems aren't reliable enough to use in a commercial flight. They break down and require repair with a frequency which is OK for military use, but far too high for the flight hours logged by commercial jetliners.

But one of the most sticky problems, one not mentioned by AP, are the systems' generation of false alarms.

"Test data indicate that the systems do not meet the requirement at this time," reads the report.

False alarms aren't so important in a war zone but they become critically important in a busy commercial air traffic environment over the United States near urban air terminals.

False alarms would cause the complete halt or disruption of commercial air traffic and the emptying of airports and surrounding areas in a search for terrorists. False alarms would cause notification of what is called the Domestic Event Network. The problems associated with false alarm of an anti-aircraft missile attack on a commercial jetliner could be said to be substantial, economically back-breaking, or worse than terrorists.

The DHS report gave no solid indication of how this problem might be overcome. Near the end of the report, DHS suggests that "processing capability" and software "improvements through discrimination algorithms."

Another significant obstacle is the control of sensitive military technology. Normally, this is handled by the military, but pasting military hardware to a privately owned jetliner creates a system in which airflights must apply for export licenses under the ITAR, or International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The ITAR defines export of weapons and military technology in a myriad of ways which could be broadly applied to commercial jetflights with anti-aircraft missile defense pods strapped to their bellies.

Two dilemmas associated with this issue are pictured below and speak for themselves.

When the government threatens the Secrecy Project over publication of something like the Anti-MANPADS system project summary, the knee-jerk reaction is one of disgust and superciliousness toward the agency.

As has been written previously, DHS is abysmal at providing important information from the war on terror to the American public. It's a type of arrogance which works from the idea that officials in charge know better than everyone else, and that they'll take care of things just fine.

So we don't have to be aiding the enemy by making any information available to citizens.

This is rather easily countered by pointing out that the only thing one can prove about the restriction of information, as in this case, is that it demonstably gets in the way of legitimate oversight and decision-making.

Recall, once again, the words of a Congressional staffer who had downloaded the DHS report in question from the Secrecy Project.

"[The staffer] said that executive branch restrictions on unclassified information had become a growing hindrance to Congressional oversight. "

What sensitive information must be kept from the public, if any, will -- sooner or later -- be determined by FAS. And Dick Destiny blog is betting it will come down in favor of republishing it, or most of it.

Upon examination, I could only find one sentence that might be of theoretical use to terrorists. But it's one that would occur to anyone reading about the threat posed by anti-aircraft missiles aimed at jetliners, anyway. Plus, the DHS systems, not being ready, are only imagined as deployable in the future, at which time a report on the same systems would look quite different.

The mechanics of the Internet being what they are, the report is still available here (Dig those Northrop Grumman Adsense ads!)


If you enjoyed this article, you surely might like the next, on secrecy and security outrages.
PEROXIDE BOMB, EASY TO MAKE! (a continuing series): What the media believed, and what's real = two different things

Updated -- Zazi case link at footer

For the past few days Dick Destiny blog has discussed the making of insta-bombs with acetone and peroxide, as attributed by speculation on the nature of the London airline plot.

With its GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow and chemisty hat firmly on, it has suggested again and again, in very clear language, that nothing is so easy as tossing two liquids together in an airplane washroom. It has written that concentrated hydrogen peroxide, a necessary reagent, isn't available in your household or at the supermarket. And it has published images of the peer-reviewed science on the synthesis of triacetone peroxide explosive in the most vain hope that some journalists would get the idea.

The DD page on explosive synthesis was popular. Clickthroughs to it are ticking along nicely. But it was too easy to sell the insta-bomb myth through the newsmedia. And once the legend is embedded, getting rid of it is like trying to dig a hole in your sidewalk with bare hands.

However, occasionally informative pieces appear. One such was published today in The Register, a Brit on-line news pub, a website devoted to tech reporting.

Once in the distant past, Dick Destiny was published by the Register, on topics having to do with computer security, such as here in Unemployed Virus-Writers Take Heart.

So it knows Reg reporters and mailed its citations and blog entries to one of them, slowly walking the discussion through the science or lack of it, as reported, on the insta-bomb.

And, today, while Dick Destiny's name does not appear in the piece, the fruit of its work is upon the tree of it.

"One needs quality stuff to commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale," as Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson put it," wrote the Reg.

"While it's true that a slapdash [peroxide bomb] concoction will explode, it's unlikely to do more than blow out a few windows. At best, an infidel or two might be killed by the blast, and one or two others by flying debris as the cabin suddenly depressurizes, but that's about all you're likely to manage under the most favorable conditions possible . . . We believe this because a peer-reviewed 2004 study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) entitled 'Decomposition of Triacetone Triperoxide is an Entropic Explosion' tells us that the explosive force of TATP comes from the sudden decomposition of a solid into gasses.

"So, assuming that the homebrew variety of TATP is highly sensitive and unstable - or at least that our inept jihadists would believe that - to avoid getting blown up in the taxi on the way to the airport, one might, if one were educated in terror tactics primarily by hollywood movies, prefer simply to dump the precursors into an airplane toilet bowl and let the mother of Satan work her magic. Indeed, the mixture will heat rapidly as TATP begins to form, and it will soon explode. But this won't happen with much force, because little TATP will have formed by the time the explosion occurs."

"We asked University of Rhode Island Chemistry Professor Jimmie C. Oxley, who has actual, practical experience with TATP, if this is a reasonable assumption, and she tolds us that merely dumping the precursors together would create 'a violent reaction,' but not a detonation . . . So the fabled binary liquid explosive - that is, the sudden mixing of hydrogen peroxide and acetone with sulfuric acid to create a plane-killing explosion, is out of the question. . ."

You can read the rest here.

"Thanks very much for putting me in touch with Jimmie Oxley," wrote the author in e-mail, of the U.S. explosives boffin whose name was on the peer-reviewed literature image posted by Dick Destiny blog.

Interestingly, the mainstream American media made use of Oxley, but not in an informative way, burying what quote they took from her in favor of more exclamatory declarations.

These sensational declarations were a disgrace and it's worth rehashing them. In toto, they painted the picture, again and again, that just sloshing acetone and peroxide together in an airplane bathroom, chemicals obtained from your medicine chest or the supermarket, kills a jet-liner.

In delivering these stories the media neglected to dig for facts over speculation. It passed by the opportunity to discuss the importance of finding out what the actual materials and methods of the alleged terrorists where, subjects that still remain unelucidated.

Why is this so? That's another good question. Why is it that everyone can be furnished with speculation out the wazoo, but description of evidence and methods, is not allowed?

Perhaps it will be. But as of now, nothing in this regard. For example, some American journalists have simply been morons on the story. Take for example, John Nance of ABC News.

Astonishingly, Nance gibbers, "The process [of threat assessment] is ongoing, which is one of the reasons Homeland Security already knew that a wide variety of liquids could pose a threat."

"The problem: The range of liquids is so great it can also include the gin or vodka poured freely in first class."

A vodka bomb! Incredible!

One doesn't know what quite to say when confronted with such flaunting stupidity. Is this really what someone at Homeland Security said to him? And is Nance not even possessed of a slight bit of common sense?

And where is the editor? Could not an editor say, "Waitaminnit, you mean you believe someone can down an airliner with the vodka or gin in one of those little one-shot thingies they serve? That can't be right and we're not going with it!"

Or, how 'bout: Yes, Mr. John Nance, everyone knows ethyl alcohol is what's burning in a flaming shot at the bar, but YOU CAN'T MAKE AN AIRPLANE BOMB OUT OF IT, YOU ASS!

In any case, review some of the clownish chatter on the instant peroxide liquid bomb, delivered by the mainstream newsmedia, again.

" . . . terrorists could simply carry aboard a plane the two chemicals used to make TATP. When the chemicals are mixed together, 'chances are it will instantaneously and violently react . . ."

"I empty the water out, mix them in the bottle, and before I'm done mixing them, the reaction had already occured and the plane is in serious trouble."

"'You don't really need to go to a chemical factory to find these things—it's just common household stuff . . . "

"Anyone with half an hour, a set of instructions found online and about $75 can easily make the stuff . . . "

"An experiment to test the capacity of such combinations was carried out combining an easily bought hair cream, with sodium chloride, or bleach . . . They used half a tube of Brylcreem and a cup full of sodium chloride and they put a crater in the ground with it."





Discussion of Zazi case and previous peroxide bomb plots at GlobalSecurity.Org here -- The Beauty Parlor Supply Store Bomb. With photos.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

HEEVAHAVAS!

First off, Kari Milchman from the New York Press, in a column on a variety of things concerning the foiled air terror plot.

" . . . on Friday, the NYPD decided to improve their five-year-old program designed to monitor local sales of chemicals, such as industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide, which could be used to make liquid explosives like the ones allegedly to be deployed in the foiled transatlantic terrorist plot," writes Milchman. "Under Operation Nexus, as the program is called, investigators contact chemical suppliers in the NYC area and urge them to be aware of any unusual activity and to report any thefts or questionable purchases. What exactly constitutes a legitimate purchase of industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide, I don’t know. Endeavoring to turn the private sector into a PTA snow chain of sorts may just work, but let’s hope that the proprietor being asked to report crazy Johnny-chemist didn’t just have his briefcase rifled through by some suspicious cop on the subway."

Crazy Johnny-chemist! Now that's a great insult. Almost as good as heevahava!

Like many journalists, Milchman must have no idea how things work in modern society. Much to the mild annoyance of those who do know. Dear Kari, in this case, Google is your friend.

"Since it was first commercialized in the 1800's, [hydrogen peroxide or H202] production has now grown to over a billion pounds per year (as 100%)," informs an industrial vendor, genially.

"In addition to pollution control, H2O2 is used to bleach textiles and paper products, and to manufacture or process foods, minerals, petrochemicals, and consumer products (detergents). Its use for pollution control parallels those of the movement itself -- municipal wastewater applications in the 1970's; industrial waste/wastewater applications in the 1980's; and more recently, air applications in the 1990's. Today, H2O2 is readily available throughout the U.S. in drum, tote, mini-bulk, and bulk quantities in concentrations of 35% or 50% by weight."

Next, Dick Destiny was so taken with the heevahava-ness of of Daniel Engbar's "Explainer" at Slate last week, it's repeated.

Engbar began imagining the results if one could drink the components of a liquid bomb to pass through security checkpoints.

"But if you could somehow disguise your liquid bomb ingredients as milk or juice, you could probably get away with a little gulp in front of the airport screeners," wrote Engbar. "In very large doses, acetone also has a narcotic effect, and hydrogen peroxide can cause your bowels to rupture."

How informative, dear heevahava!

"Gentlemen, surely you're not going to take the word of a soulless mechanichal device over that of a flesh and blood man?" asked Harry Mudd plaintively in the Star Trek episode, "Mudd's Women," in re-runs on G4TV a little while ago.

That'd be just the thing for the war on terror! It indulges the classic American conceit that some technology, any technology -- there's gotta be something (!) -- will make the present mess all better.

Kevin Drum was hip for it. Drum imagined DARPA funding one of its military vendors to come up with a electric molecular resonant ray to bathe the brain of those under suspicion at the airport. Thus, terrorists (or nervouse people) will be magically revealed through technology, done in like Harry Mudd.

"As USA Today reported a couple of years ago, 'The Defense Department's Polygraph Institute at Fort Jackson, S.C., is financing at least 20 projects aimed at finding a better lie detector. Another Pentagon office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is exploring magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other technologies.' You can read more . . . about the fMRI research, which is based on recent findings that different areas of the brain are active when a person tells the truth as opposed to when they lie . . . This technology isn't ready for prime time yet, not least because sticking people inside an MRI machine at airports isn't exactly a feasible concept. But I wouldn't be surprised if a better and more reliable version of this technology were available within five to ten years."

". . . I'll bet that it's coming, like it or not . . . "

Yep, when Hell freezes over.
THE DAILY FALLOUT (another in a series): Big daily newspaper on the mushroom cloud beat


Generals seek to prevent attack on Iran.

. . . 21 former generals, diplomats and national security officials will release an open letter tomorrow arguing that the administration's hard line has actually undermined US security.

. . . the group was particularly concerned about administration policies toward Iran, believing them to be a possible prelude to a military attack . . .

"It's not a crisis," [Army Lt. General Robert Gard (ret.), spokesman for the group], said. "To call the Iranian situation a 'crisis' connotes you have to do something right now, like bomb them."

-- The Los Angeles Times



Bland Corporation predicts atomic attack would be unpleasant.

A nuclear explosion at the Port of Long Beach would have catastrophic consequences . . . killing 60,000 people immediately, exposing 150,000 more to radiation, and cause ten times the economic loss resulting from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Two years in the making, the detailed analysis by the BlandRand Corp.'s Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy paints a terrifying picture . . .

"It would be bad enough if a terrorist organization were ever able to get a nuclear device inside the boundaries of the United States," said Walter GrotescheleMichael A. Wermuth, director of Rand's homeland security research . . .

-- from The Los Angeles Times


60 Minutes interview with Iranian lunatic -- oddly comforting, according to TV reporter, perhaps writing a book on nuclear war gags.

. . . it was oddly comforting, redolent of the Cold War, a return to the days when there was evil but you knew its address.

OK, so maybe Ahmadinejad is committed to the destruction of Israel and has suggested that the Holocaust is a European-made myth and wants to rule the Middle East while leading us down the path of mutually assured destruction. But at least you can fly to Tehran and MapQuest it the rest of the way.

-- from The Los Angeles Times


"Research" site predicts thermonuclear doom unavoidable because air force officers worried about their careers.

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.

Nu-klee-ur con-frun-tay-shun! Toe to toe with the imams!


If you liked this entry, you might also greatly enjoy Ultimatum!
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Monday, August 14, 2006

PEROXIDE BOMB: TATP synthesis methods, from the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), January 2005

Updated -- Zazi case discussion, link at footer

Lay readers of Dick Destiny blog may be surprised to find syntheses of triacetone peroxide, validated in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, have been on the web for some time. And I'm not talking about the ones which invariably rise to the top in Google, provided by the enthusiastic amateur chemists and hoarders of anarchy files.

Many peer-reviewed articles are available through the digital object identification (or DOI) tracking/catalog code used by scientific library services. You can, for example, find that dogs can be trained to sniff TATP but that volatility of the scent homed in on presents a challenge. Clever and even not-so-clever Google Fu returns many scholarly papers quickly.

But sometimes you don't even have to go that far. One article of particular interest was published free and clear on the web by the Journal of the American Chemical Society in January of last year. Received by JACS for consideration in June of 2004 and authored by a team of chemists from La Jolla, California, to Jerusalem and Haifa in Israel, it is part of the work of Ehud Keinon, an Israeli scientist who distributed a press release on peroxide bombs after the news broke late last week.

"Decomposition of Triacetone Peroxide is An Entropic Explosion" is a study of the explosive degradation of TATP. The explanations of kinetics and methods discussed in the reaction are beyond the average reader, but the syntheses of TATP, as taken from original literature and shown in the graphic at the end of this article, are not so opaque.

The original syntheses, which the authors utilize, shed light on why stories of terrorists throwing together acetone, peroxide and a little acid from the household into an insta-bomb inside an airplane washroom needed better editing. Can you purchase 50 percent hydrogen peroxide at your pharmacy? Do the syntheses cited mix up instantly? No and no.

See here, where "1" is equivalent to TATP:
























Coincidentally, the original Journal of the American Chemical Society paper by Milas, duplicated and referenced in method above, is also on the web. While I can't ascribe a date to its electronic arrival, the abstract was published through the auspices of the American Chemical Society.



















And you might also want to read this --> still more on the technology of liquid bombs versus the newsmedia's ideas on them. Make a vodka or gin bomb!

Update! Confiscate all hexamine campfire tablets!



The Beauty Parlor Supply Store Bomb at GlobalSecurity.Org here. With some photos.
THE DAILY FALLOUT (one in a continuing series): Gettin' pets ready, book sales, the gadget you need plus intel that Iran hasn't kept up with advances in US bomb-making

Hawaii: Getting the pets ready!

(KHNL) - Hawaii's airport alert levels went up after an international plot to attack America's airlines was uncovered. But that is just one of many possible scenarios that could strike the Islands.

Another is a nuclear attack, something the state and military have been preparing for, for the past year.

This week, they'll put that plan to the test.

On Sunday, members of the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team met with local agencies to discuss a disaster plan for animals.

"Have your animals' records together, know where things are, put your animals' foods together, medication for your dog just like for yourself," said Garry Goemann with VMAT.

It's all part of the state's efforts to create an emergency response plan. Beginning on Tuesday, state officials will test that plan. They're holding an exercise simulating a large explosion.

The mock drill will take place at Honolulu Harbor. But theoretically people living as far away as Ewa Beach will feel the blast. In the drill, 10,000 people will die and downtown Honolulu will lose a big chunk of its communications.



VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Some Islamic scholars worry that Iran's president may launch an attack on Jerusalem, perhaps with a nuclear missile, a week from Tuesday . . . Professor Joseph Kickasola, an Islamic scholar at Regent University, says Ahmadinejad believes he has a God-given mission to prepare the way for the Muslim messiah, or mahdi, who will arise from end-times chaos to convert the world to Islam.

Kickasola says that while a nuclear strike on Jerusalem would kill Muslims as well as Jews and Christians, Iran's president believes the Muslims would be ushered into paradise.




Nuke Iran Idea Dropped At Insistence of Chiefs

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney abandoned a plan to include "the possible use of a nuclear device" to destroy Iran's uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz because of Pentagon opposition, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has said.

"Bush and Cheney were dead serious about the nuclear planning," a former senior intelligence official told Hersh. But Joint Chiefs of Staff's Chairman Marine General Peter Pace "stood up to them," he said. "Then the word came back: O.K., the nuclear option is politically unacceptable." Hersh termed this a "major victory" for the military, but one that has left "bad feelings" between it and the civilian hierarchy in Washington . . . The possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons to destroy Natanz's buried laboratories was held to be "politically untenable" as the device could "vent fatal radiation for miles," Hersh wrote. Natanz is about 200 miles south of Tehran.

Instead, the Air Force has proposed dropping large "bunker-buster" conventional bombs in quick succession on Natanz to "generate sufficient concussive force to accomplish what a tactical nuclear warhead would achieve, but without provoking an outcry over what would be the first use of a nuclear weapon in a conflict since Nagasaki," Hersh wrote. This approach, however, might fail owing to the enormous heat generated by the first bomb would liquefy the soil, one Pentagon consultant said. "It will be like bombing water, with its currents and eddies. The bombs would likely be diverted."



They haven't kept up with the performance of our latest penetrating bombs

Quite obviously rational deduction does not have a place in the mentality of Hezbollah's leader, the Rev. Hassan Nasrallah, or in the mentality of the Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who raves on about how Israel must be destroyed and the misery he is going to cause America. Rational deduction does play a role in the mentality of the Israelis and the Americans. Both are now aware of how dangerous Hezbollah, Syria and Iran are. And the clock is ticking, for as the distinguished scholar of Middle Eastern affairs, Bernard Lewis, noted in the Wall Street Journal the other day, "It seems increasingly likely that the Iranians either have or very soon will have nuclear weapons at their disposal."

. . . Our forces, mainly the superb soldiers of the English-speaking countries, are stretched; and one would not expect support from NATO's mainly ceremonial armies. They do well in military parades and occasionally even in military maneuvers, but they avoid war zones. As I say, their armies are mainly ceremonial, and if they have any plans to upgrade them it might be best if they contained their refitting to sartorial matters. Perhaps they might adopt colorful sashes and plumed helmets after the manner of the uniforms they wore in the 19th century, what for them constituted the "good old days."

. . . First, let us take up the Syrians. Writing in the New York Sun, the veteran Middle Eastern reporter Youssef Ibrahim suggests that the Israeli air force "stop bombing Lebanon and start bombing Hezbollah's primary enabler, Syria, with crippling blows to its leadership, air force, infrastructure, and, yes, oil industry." He adds: "A 21-day bombing campaign will shift the balance of power . . .

. . . Edward Luttwak, a respected student of warfare modern and ancient, argued in the Wall Street Journal this past February that "the odds are rather good" that our vastly superior aircraft and bunker-busting bombs could "demolish a few critical installations to delay (Iran's nuclear) program for years -- and perhaps longer because it would become harder or impossible for Iran to buy the materials it bought when its efforts (to build nuclear weapons) were still secret." Luttwak believes that we need only destroy a handful of the Iranians' nuclear sites because the route to nuclear weaponry devised by the Iranians "requires a number of different plants operating in series." They may be hardened, but he believes the Iranians have "not kept up with the performance of the latest penetration bombs."

from CNN



Buy my books because they've got the advance poop.

It is hard for many Americans to imagine an Iranian leader (or any other world leader) actually trying to bring about the end of the world by launching a nuclear attack to destroy millions of Jews and Christians. But it is precisely this type of attack that I wrote about in my recent political thrillers, The Ezekiel Option and The Copper Scroll. One of my goals was to help people understand this brand of radical Islamic thinking and its implications for Western civilization. On page 358 of The Ezekiel Option, a fictional Islamic character insists that Israel is going to be “wiped off the face of the map forever.” Five months after Option was published last June, Ahmadinejad gave a speech vowing to wipe Israel “off the map” forever. In the novel, Iran forms a military alliance with Russia and starts buying state-of-the-art weaponry from Moscow to accomplish its apocalyptic objectives. Last December, fiction again became reality, when Iran signed a $1 billion deal with Russia to buy missiles and others weapons.

. . . Jews and Christians who take Ezekiel’s prophecies seriously believe that at the last minute the God of Israel will supernaturally intervene to defeat Israel’s enemies in this war. By contrast, the Muslim version of the “War of “Gog and Magog“ found in the Koran concludes with Muslims winning. The Ezekiel Option and The Copper Scroll imagine how such prophecies could play themselves out in modern times. But suddenly this is no longer the stuff of fiction. Ahmadinejad actually seems intent on launching the “War of Gog and Magog.”
The National Review



The Gadget you will need!
[We have] heard rumblings in military defense and tactical circles that it's simply a matter of when, not if, the United States will experience a nuclear detonation on her soil via either a terrorist armed with some type of portable nuclear device (i.e. bomb) or a ship with a device hidden somewhere inside her parked in a port or harbor or off the coastline of a major city. In fact, one of my contacts informed me ahwile back that it's quite possible that more than one city (possibly as many as 5-7) could be hit either simultaneously or in rapid succession in a coordinated nuclear attack, and that the nuclear materials and components necessary for this type of attack could already be inside our borders.

. . . So, why am I writing about this? Well, 1) because I think it's relevant and important to at least touch on it once, however briefly, and 2) I recently received a nifty little item in the mail from [KI4U, Inc.] that could potentially (eventually) prove to be a real life saver, or, at the very least, give the owner some peace of mind--or scare the hell out of him/her--if the above-outlined scenario were ever to occur (God forbid).

. . . It's called the Nukalert, and it's a key chain-size, pocket-carryable nuclear radiation detection device, or "personal radiation detector and alarm", as the company website refers to it. . . If dangerous nuclear radiation (i.e. nuclear fallout) is present in the air, the NukAlert will start "chirping" in repeating groups of rapid countable "chirps". A table on the back of the unit allows the owner to determine the the actual radiaton [sic] level . . .

CHASING THE TERROR: Send mo' money, please

Today's peroxide-bomb detecting gadget comes via the Google News tab. Google News does a great job of distributing press releases as news. But it doesn't do a great job of distributing news from Dick Destiny blog. So please suggest this site and keep doing it until someone listens.

But back to the gadgeteer beat.

Behold the the zNose.

The zNose Detects Liquid Bomb (TATP) and Its Chemical Components.

"An innovative homeland security product called zNose, manufactured by Southern California high-tech company Electronic Sensor Technology, Inc., has a proven capability in detecting a liquid bomb called TATP and its related chemical components in addition to detection of conventional explosives, according to Dr. Teong C. Lim, President and CEO of the company.

". . . This crystalline material can be produced from common acetone, peroxide, and sulfuric acid, yet it has the explosive power of RDX . . . TATP is a relatively volatile explosive and readily produces vapors which can be detected by the zNose. The most publicized account of TATP usage was that of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, but TATP is often used by Hamas "human" bombers in Israel.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

GADGETEERS CRAWL FROM THE UNDERBRUSH: They have the technology to detect bombs, just send money

The next worst thing to terror journalism driven by speculation on the ease of bomb-making is terror journalism that trots out salesmen and gadgeteers with the answers, if only we'd spend more money on them.

Before Dick Destiny blog gets to them, however, two late additions to the "it's easy to make bombs" from household items file.

First, from today's Lompoc Record: "The process is frighteningly simple, the result deadly. You take a small bottle of acetone, available at any hardware or home-improvement store, pick up some hydrogen peroxide, available just about anywhere. Then, as one chemical bomb expert explains it, you mix the two together in the restroom on an airliner. The explosive reaction has been set in motion and, in all likelihood, the lives of everyone on board will soon be snuffed out."

No futzing around! Hoo-haw!

But the next opinion piece, from the Taunton Gazette, is best. Readers of Dick Destiny may vaguely recall the Taunton Gazette recommend you keep looking over your shoulder for atomic attack a week or so ago in The Daily Fallout. (It's the fourth entry down.)

Today the Taunton Gazette's editor informed his readers: "The terror plotters, according to authorities, had planned to mix a sports drink with a gel-like substance to make potent explosives that could be ignited by an MP3 player or a cell phone. The sports drink could be combined with a peroxide-based paste to form an explosive cocktail. . ."

Gatorade and a paste! Pow! Better laugh at the stupidity or you'll have to cry.

"How can our nation avoid an attack when we are dealing with this kind of sophistication using such simplicity in the concept?" asks the writer, plaintively.

The answer? If you can make a bomb from a sports drink, the defense, sophisticated in its elegance and simplicity, is furnished by Dick Destiny. Everyone has to take off their clothes and don a uniform made of thin paper (or perhaps a bath robe), distributed before boarding, and which can be disposed of upon exiting the plane.

But if we are not to take off our clothes and submit to cavity searches, then perhaps it is time to put in a call for the gadgeteers.

Since you have me with GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow hat firmly on along for the ride, don't fear. You'll be safe from their pitches.

The Pooting Machine.
First up, the pooting machine. Dick Destiny saw it on many TV newscasts and McClatchy distributed a graphic of it in numerous newspapers. You know it. It's the gadget that blows little farts of air into the clothes of the passenger, hoping to return a sniff of explosives.

"Even state-of-the-art systems suffer from false positives, detecting non-existent explosives, or false negatives, which miss real threats. They can be fooled by background clutter or strong odors, such as garlic and mint. They're subject to human error. What works well in a laboratory may fail miserably in the field," began the McClatchy article. At that point, it would have been good to stop. The sentence sums up everything you need to know.

Discussion of the lackpresence of skill and suitable training in your average airport screener, who -- as a class, are probably the worst paid security-workers in the nation, was pretty much absent in the journalism of anti-terror gadgeteers.

"A process called Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance scans people or objects with low-frequency radio waves to identify the molecular structure of a substance. The waves produce an echo that gives a signal for each chemical element . . . A suspicious target also can be bombarded with subatomic particles called neutrons. When a neutron strikes an atom, it gives off a distinctive gamma ray that identifies the atom," wrote McClatchy reporter. Just the thing for the barely high-school-educated airport workers cum nuclear resonance chemists to operate!

"HiEnergy Technologies, of Irvine, Calif., is developing such a neutron-gamma ray detector for the Army," wrote the reporter. "It could identity a bomb hidden in a trunk or an explosive device along a highway in Iraq."

And how did this matter, even if it wasn't exaggerated, the device undeliverable? The reporter furnished no answers.

"A far-out device, sometimes dubbed an artificial nose, is being developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee," added the news wire. Of this, Dick Destiny is certain. It's also certain that the "artificial nose" has been in development for at least ten years.

The next quote -- that terror plotters are using computer scientists, from the Denver Post, was simply baffling. It was, of course, delivered by someone selling security services and consulting. So, in the land of news journalism, there was no need to test it for bullshit bombs.


Terrorist organizations are relying on skilled engineers and computer scientists to get around existing aviation security systems and "look for soft spots," such as concealing liquid explosives in Gatorade bottles, said Chaim Koppel, managing director of International Security Defense Systems, a Dallas-based aviation security firm.

"This is going to take funding,” said Sean Moore, vice president for sales and marketing at Irvine, Calif.-based HiEnergy Technologies, Inc.," wrote the St. Petersburg Times in its story, "Technology rushing to catch up with liquid bomb threat."

"Moore’s company has developed a scanner that bombards packages with neutrons to determine the molecular structure of the contents within. It reportedly can locate explosives in both solid and liquid form, but so far hasn’t been sold to any airports . . . 'We already have the capabilities. It’s just a matter of getting aligned with the right partners,' Moore said."

Of course, it really is just a matter of finding the right partners. And the right partners are at The Civitas Group. Ask for Penrose "Parney" Albright. Civitas is a K Street lobbying and consulting firm designed to hook you and your device up to the government teat.

Associated Press dug up Ehud Keinon, "an explosives expert at the Technion Research Institute in Haifa . . . " Readers of the blog will remember Keinon. He was the expert sending around press releases on himself the day the news broke. (Read down to see it here.

Keinon repeated his press release to AP reporter Arthur Max and it was duly republished in quite a few newspapers, including The Washington Post.

“The raw materials to make this compound are available anywhere, in hardware stores, agricultural stores, pharmacies, supermarkets,” he said. “And they're really cheap. I have calculated that to bring down an airplane it will cost you, at retail prices, $35.”

Keinon was also selling a peroxide explosive detector. While Keinon's gadget isn't suitable for the screening purpose it was being peddled for, he claimed it would be "[developed] for large-scale use in coming months." Would you say otherwise, given the same real estate to talk of your great gadget?

If Keinon wasn't enough, AP dug another detector-gadgeteering firm.

"One device on the market, developed by the U.S. company Guardian Technologies of Herndon, Va., uses image-analysis software attached to existing X-ray screeners and circles items matching the density of known explosives," wrote Max.

The cost, according the company's VP?

"The software costs $50,000 to $100,000 per unit . . . "

Software pirates, go to work! Your fellow citizens and their pocketbooks depend on it!

Friday, August 11, 2006

A JAUNDICED VIEW FROM ENGLAND: Thankful a terror plot was averted but skeptical over results in the war on terror

If you've relied on the US newsmedia for your information on the airplane terror plot, you've been fed the general line that British intelligence and anti-terrorism efforts have been great in the war on terror. This is not quite how it's seen in England. There, opinion is somewhat jaundiced, the news more complicated, largely because of a series of counter-terror intelligence failures which have never been well reported, if at all, by US journalists.

"The deep skepticism with which many Britons have responded to the news of an alleged plot to blow up airliners en route to the United States highlights an endemic lack of trust in the intelligence and security services," wrote Hannah K. Strange, UPI's UK correspondent on Friday.

"A series of blunders from faulty intelligence over Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction to the police killing of innocent civilian Jean Charles de Menezes has undermined the confidence of the British public both in the efficiency of the security services and their independence from political influence."

". . . Many Britons believe that ministers not only exaggerated but lied about intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to provide a basis for the 2003 invasion, an affair which has done untold damage to public trust in the government . . . The Iraq intelligence debacle was followed by a string of security and intelligence blunders, the most tragic being the police shooting of an innocent man mistaken for a suicide bomber . . . It later emerged that police had been acting on only the flimsiest of intelligence, and that a certain amount of confusion and panic among the officers involved had contributed to his death. The killing undermined confidence both in the competence of the security services and the reliability of the intelligence on which decisive actions were often taken," Strange wrote.

"Most recently, a dramatic raid on the home of a Muslim family in Forest Gate, east London, has again highlighted the fallibility of intelligence . . . [the June raid] . . . resulted in the police shooting of one of the suspects, later found to be innocent. [A] suspected chemical weapons factory was never found . . . "

However, Strange added that British security experts were "united" in their belief that a horrible plan had been nipped in the bud. She finished with the admonition that the government work to restore the public's trust by being forthcoming with substantial information.

In this, the British government has the same abysmal record as the American in informing the public on the particulars of the war on terror.

"This government's response to the real threat of terrorism has only made things worse" was the title of an opinion piece in the Guardian, also on Friday. It made points similar to those in Strange's report.

"The alleged plot to attack aircraft and passengers announced by Scotland Yard yesterday obviously concerns us all and, for the time being, we have to take it at face value, wrote Dan Plesch, a research associate at the University of London. "There have so far been some modest successes by the security services in bringing terrorists to trial. But the government's actions have also been marked by misinformation and false scares. The supposed ricin poison plot, the Forest Gate raid and the "padded jacket" Jean Charles de Menezes never wore when he was shot dead by police last year come immediately to mind."

The entirety is here.

American coverage of the same issues, that is supposedly telling readers about the British side of the war on terror, took little notice.

"British pros at foiling terrorist plans since 9-11," claimed Associated Press on Friday. The article which lamely touted alleged counter-terror successes, without listing the numerous horrible mistakes, was republished in many newspapers.

One of the "successes," according to AP:

"In January 2003, police raided a London apartment and claimed to have foiled a plot to spread the deadly toxin ricin in London. Eight men were charged; four were acquitted and the other four were not tried. No traces of ricin had been found in the apartment . . . "

No major US news organization covered the London ricin trial in 2005 in any significant way.

While some stories appeared at the end of the trial, they were notable for their lack of detail and their reliance on the passing on of police and government claims which had been dismissed by the jury. In essence, because the US newsmedia did not attend the trial, it ignored its verdicts. Dick Destiny blog, with GlobalSecurity.Org hat firmly on, was the only U.S. source to publish a significant account. (See here, here and here. )

It becomes understandable, then, to see weirdness unsupported by fact in the US newsmedia.

"But there have also been [British intelligence] successes," wrote the Wall Street Journal. "Some have been publicized, such as a foiled plot to poison Britain's food supply with ricin."

This appeared in an opinion piece trying to convey the message that "liberals" have opposed the government methods that have led to "success" against terrorists. It was entitled Mass Murder Foiled.

While the merits of the immediate domestic political arguments which erupted on release of the news of the terror plot largely escape Dick Destiny blog (if the "liberals" were in charge, the terror plot would have succeeded; if the "Bush administration" hadn't been in charge of the war on terror, less people would hate us, and by extension -- Britain, and there would be less terror), it knows frank mistakes when it sees them.

By not struggling to include the story of the ricin ring, one which was an embarrassment to British authorities, The Journal could have preserved the tenor of its argument.




In the news:

"Some have wondered if, by not immediately trying to shut down sites that post information about making bombs and poisons, authorities aren't taking a fatal risk in the name of acquiring intelligence about a bigger plan. Not to worry, says George Smith, a senior fellow at the public-policy and research organization GlobalSecurity.org. Smith dismisses the effectiveness of al-Qaeda's online training information. "The level of sophistication is equivalent to what teenagers were distributing about 10 or 15 years ago," he says . . . [he] describes the general level of Internet security maintained by al-Qaeda as 'really lousy,' and says that its sites are routinely invaded by people within U.S. borders."

I've never been much interested in jihadists on the Internet stories, so I appear -- predictably -- as one of the token nay-sayers in this one, The Man Who Put Al-Qaeda on the Web. This long and well-written article tells the tale of ihabi007, now sitting in a British high security prison.

It springs from my born-out-of-experience antipathy toward the alleged danger posed by so-called al Qaeda biochemical warfare documents passed around on jihadist websites. For recreational reading, click here in Annals of Terrorism and The Botox Shoe of Death.
PEROXIDE BOMBS EXPLODE: Usual memes, easy to make, deadly, etc

Updated -- Zazi case beauty parlor supply store bomb, at foot

The second wave of stories on the airline plot delivered exactly what Dick Destiny blog predicted would be the fallback position of it's-easy terror journalism. Lots and lots of articles on how simple it was to pour acetone and peroxide together on an jet-liner, add a little acid, and pow!

In the absence of real news on what materials and chemicals were found in the possession of the arrested terrorists, the speculators ran wild. And readers of this blog know there is never a shortage of people for the imagining of worst case scenarios linked to the "ease" with which terrorists can make bad things. Plans go forward without hitch -- except this one time, whew (!) -- and no one makes mistakes, buddy boy!

So with GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow thinking cap on, if the story is not to degenerate into a poorly understood but sensational legend, it is critical to know what compounds, materials and training the terrorists had. And it will not be sufficient to receive this information second and third-hand solely through the prisms of anoymous U.S. government officials or British law enforcement.

The current blizzard of news stories required someone with the common sense to ask, in the face of the mass-feeding, "If it's so easy and the jihadists so clever, why haven't we all been reduced to boarding airplanes in our birthday suits because of the successful employment of peroxide bombs?" They required someone to timorously query, perhaps in a paraphrase from Blazing Saddles: "Are we informing people, Lord, or are we just jerking off?"

But common sense had left the room.

There are answers to these questions. But they're not and won't be short or simple. And they won't lend themselves to stories peppered with one-sentence speculations, delivered by experts.

Now, let's look at today's mess:

" . . . terrorists could simply carry aboard a plane the two chemicals used to make TATP," wrote the Washington Post. "When the chemicals are mixed together, 'chances are it will instantaneously and violently react,' said Neal Langerman, a chemical industry consultant who acts as a spokesman for the American Chemical Society. 'If it didn't, you can stick in a detonator, hook it up to the battery in your iPod, and you're dead.'

Langerman was one of the sources of the day for the newsmedia. His quotes stressed how easy it was to make a peroxide bomb. Perhaps because stressing the ease with which chemicals of all types can become, are, or made into hazards is his business.

"All I have to do is take them in the restroom with a standard water bottle," said Langerman to the Los Angeles Times for its story, "Humble Ingredients for a Deadly Purpose." "I empty the water out, mix them in the bottle, and before I'm done mixing them, the reaction had already occured and the plane is in serious trouble."

The Times qualified Langerman's insta-bomb chatter with the statement "[B]ombmaking is not as simple as some website proclaim . . . " and the differing opinion of another expert on explosives. " . . . [a professor] said she doubted TATP was strong enough to bring down a plane without added strength from a detonator."

A simple search for "Neal Langerman" turned in this top link. More to the point, across the entire breadth of the US, the big newspapers of the country settled on an ambulance chaser from the world of industrial chemistry as their source on terror bomb capabilities.

The New York Times also used Langerman, identifying him only as president of Advanced Chemical Safety. It is not quite as descriptive as this, from the litigation page: "Dr. Neal Langerman provides litigation support and expert testimony for both defendants and plaintiffs in litigation involving a wide variety of chemical-related issues. Dr. Langerman has trial-proven expertise in Failure-to-Warn litigation as well as litigation involving chemical contamination, pollution, explosions, fatalities, chemical misuses, and product liability . . . "

"Experts: Liquid bomb easy to make and hard to find," cried the Chicago Tribune. "Although many would-be terrorists have been killed while trying to make the mixture, its instability might not be a drawback for a suicide bomber intent on destroying an airplane. The easy availability of the ingredients would make it especially attractive to terrorists, experts said."

"'You don't really need to go to a chemical factory to find these things—it's just common household stuff,'" said SonBinh Nguyen, a professor of chemistry at Northwestern University."

So simple! Do you have concentrated hydrogen peroxide in your house, not the stuff from antiseptic shelves at the supermarket?

"The fact is that most common explosives are fairly simple to make," said another chem prof to the Tribune.

Then it qualified the statement: " . . . and many other experts noted that although recipes for making such explosives are widely available through the Internet, they often contain chemical errors or misleading directions—and gravely understate the risks of mixing together volatile compounds."

Like the recipes linked to on Dick Destiny blog, yesterday. We dubbed the authors of one them incompetent in a variety of interesting ways.

"It's still unclear precisely how a bomber or group of bombers would have used a peroxide-based weapon . . . " continued the newspaper.

One expert dared to be a doubting Thomas, indicating that in the case of small amounts of explosives in shoes, the modus of Richard Reid, there was a great deal of uncertainty as to whether he had enough explosive to down an airplane.

"Hellbrew is cheap, simple to make," blared the Toronto Star.

"Anyone with half an hour, a set of instructions found online and about $75 can easily make the stuff," said the newspaper.

Anyone! Half an hour! You can set yourself on fire with a pint of gasoline in two minutes, too! That could be bad on an airplane if you could also get your buddies to do it!

The Globe and Mail, a much respected newspaper, was even worse.

"An experiment to test the capacity of such combinations was carried out combining an easily bought hair cream, with sodium chloride, or bleach . . . They used half a tube of Brylcreem and a cup full of sodium chloride and they put a crater in the ground with it," [a professor] said.

Table salt! Plus Brylcreem!

Utterly incompetent, the Canadian newspaper lacked even one courageous editor, faintly remembering his high school chemistry or merely the label on the Morton's canister in the kitchen, to say, "Waitaminnuit, you can make a bomb with salt and hair dressing? We're not printing that! It's a mistake!" (This alert local-to-the-Mail blogger, Bruce Rolston,
also spied the gaffe.)

Whatever was told to the Globe and Mail, whether quoted correctly or not, it was fit only for the trash. F minus!

Maggie Fox of Reuters, whose Thurday article for Reuters on how your medicine chest had the correct ingredients, of a kind that should have been spiked, also tapped Neal Langerman.

But for her, he sang a different tune: "That does not mean they are easy to make into bombs, cautioned Neal Langerman, a San Diego consultant who is former chair of the American Chemical Society's Division of Chemical Health and Safety."

". . . some kind of expertise is usually needed to buy peroxide that is concentrated enough to work in an explosive, he noted."

Surprisingly, the small Contra Costa Times newspaper turned in a very good story, emphasizing the uncertainties and variables of making and smuggling peroxide bombs for such an operation.

It would be difficult to make a bomb on board," said one chemist.

And the newspaper really went against the received wisdom of the day when it found a military explosives expert who said: "I think the risk of this happening is really very small."

As has been noted, the war on terror is not complete without its academies and businesses scrabbling for attention and opportunity.

"Prof. Ehud Keinan of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Scripps Research Institute is a renowned expert on peroxide-based explosives," claimed one P.R. piece from a news database. "He can explain these explosives in depth, and discuss how . . . they are easy to make from ingredients available . . . even [in] supermarkets."

So here is the Dick Destiny blog challenge! Using the recipes linked to in yesterday's blog, go to the drug store, or supermarket or your medicine chest, and try to make a peroxide bomb in less than an hour or two. Don't start the clock until you have the materials.

See how easy it is.

If you're working with concentrated reagents, be careful and methodical so not to shower yourself with hot solvent or make a splash and splatter it around the room. Making a mess or hurting yourself doing bucket chemistry will only count as small tactical terror victory. Keep in mind, a teenager blew himself to oblivion in Houston earlier this year doing the same thing.

Dick Destiny blog will point you in the right direction for reagents. You'll need a small amount of an inorganic acid. Go to OSH. They sell hydrochloric acid in their pool supplies department. While there, stop by the paint department. Acetone in gallon cans -- 16 USD.

If you proceed to hydrogen peroxide more concentrated then 3 percent, and you certainly will have to in order to prototype terror plans, you could try here.

But it may not be as advertised. So you'll have to make a purchase and experiment ahead of time, once you have the reagent in hand, to see if it is sufficient for the task.

And this page will tell you some more about grades of hydrogen peroxide. Oh, look! The link on that page to purchase more concentrated stuff isn't working!

Report if you can make something on an airplane in a short period of time. Scale down your quantities appropriately so you don't injure or kill yourself if you make a mistake. Dick Destiny blog will still give you credit for your research.




The Beauty Parlor Supply Store Bomb at GlobalSecurity.Org here. With relevant photos.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

IT'S EASY TO BOMB AIRPLANES WITH LIQUID EXPLOSIVES: Yes, no, maybe?

Read the newsmedia today and ask the questions: Is it easy to make a bomb aboard an airplane with smuggled on liquids? Or isn't it? There's no way of knowing because there has been no substantive information released by British authorities on the materials and methods found among the arrested terrorists.

This didn't stop the newsmedia from engaging in wild speculation and the digging up of a handful of experts, some OK, some worthless, willing to add their two cents.

Reuters was one of the most irresponsible. "Liquid explosives sit on bathroom shelves" was the title of an article written by Maggie Fox. Republished many times, it was most notable at the Washington Post, where editors should have held out for better.

"Chemicals sitting in anyone's bathroom at home could be used to make a bomb that would badly damage a passenger jet, and experts have been warning about this danger for years," wrote Fox. At this point, someone higher up should have driven a spike through the piece.

"An explosive chemical called triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, can be put together with sulfuric acid, found in some drain cleaners, hydrogen peroxide, a medical disinfectant and hair bleach, and acetone, found in nail polish remover," Fox rattled on.

With GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow hat on, it can be said there is no bomb sitting in your bathroom. It's exaggeration for the sake of story-telling. If your ingredients are a bottle of nail polish remover, and a bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, you have two parts for a poor man's explosive called triacetone peroxide. But only as a dilute chemistry set exercise.

If you can identify an inorganic acid in your household, you can, maybe, cobble a synthesis together if you know what you're doing. With the quantities and concentrations available in
households, though, you will never have a jet-liner killer. And other factors involved in the synthesis, which Dick Destiny blog won't go into, make it an awkward choice for synthesis during an airplane flight.

"Why Liquid Explosives May be al-Qaeda's Secret Weapon: Nukes and gases may be on Bin Laden's wish-list, but explosives that can be easily smuggled on board airliners are accessible and potentially devastating," was TIME's chowder-headed contribution. It's title was the best part about a sensational and empty story, so DD blog won't excerpt from it here.

"How terrorists could have made a 'liquid bomb'" wrote The Telegraph. Then it dug up someone who didn't know, except in very broad terms, Andy Oppenheimer, "editor of Jane's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence Directory." "There are a lot of homemade mixtures you can concoct from some very common materials that are innocent in themselves."

"Liquid explosives - easily concealed and deadly," wrote the Independent. The article
fixed on nitroglycerine,
which was more rational.

"A primer on liquid explosives," claimed Newsday. "Terrorists have a broad smorgasbord from which to choose, ranging from home-brew formulas that can be mixed in flight, to touchy but widely available nitroglycerin, to exotic blends, the use of which could suggest the involvement of a nation-state," the newspaper added.

"'The possibilities are endless if they have a good engineer, a mad scientist," said military affairs historian Jim Dunnigan.'" Ding ding ding ding! Jim Dunnigan is many things. Creator of "1914" and "Jutland," two very old Avalon Hill strategy games in Dick Destiny blog's closet. Leading light behind the defunct Strategy & Tactic wargaming magazine, many back issues of which also reside in Dick Destiny's closet. And Dunnigan is the author of books, including "A Quick and Dirty Guide to War" and follow ons, some of which are on DD bookshelves.

Dunnigan, however, is nowhere close to be a chemist on homebrew or improvised explosive compounds. One of the worst sources of the day.

By afternoon, a few more details were delivered through the Associated Press. "One official said the suicide attackers planned to use a peroxide-based solution that could ignite when sparked by a camera flash or another electronic device," was the quote of interest, furnished by someone anonymous within government.

"[A] test run was designed to see whether the plotters would be able to smuggle the needed materials aboard the planes, [officials] said. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject matter."

To get at the truth of the threat, the newsmedia will have to dig for good information on the materials and methods revealed in the operation. If news of it is to be informative, rather than sensational, it will have to get beyond simple proclamations by the British anti-terror forces or anonymous U.S. government sources about a plot which could have caused "unimaginable" death. There will be a need for scrutiny of what, if anything, has been seized in the way of bomb-making materials.

If you need to understand the need for this, consider the AP sentence: "In the days and weeks ahead, security officials in both countries hope to learn more - about the extent of the alleged conspiracy, its financing, its innovations in the black arts of mass killing."

Bluntly stated, the newsmedia must get beyond official interpretations of what constitutes any "black art of mass killing" to understand the nature and actual feasibility of the threat.

Such reporting, if done right, will provide genuine understanding of the terror capability, rather than just adding to the pile of stories which link desire of terrorists to capabilities filled-in by experts speculating on-the-fly.

It is a very good thing if British anti-terror forces disrupted a plot and got the bad men off the street. It will not be so good if nothing more substantial emerges other than the standard cant about a dangerous plot being nipped in the bud.

In this, neither the British or U.S. governments have a good record.

To understand the war on terror and the abilities of those waging it, it is essential to know what constitutes their tools, materials and training -- or the lack of the same during operations.

Explosive made from the reaction of acetone and peroxide was the weapon in last summer's bombing assault in England. Therefore, bombs can be made from the material produced by reaction of the two.

There are complications associated with this poor man's explosive, a compound that is popular because the ingredients are not difficult to secure.

Two recipes place high within Google. They immediately suggest problems to the trained, limitations which indicate the compound a puzzling candidate to synthesize on the fly during a trans-Atlantic flight in an airplane cabin. However, these may not be apparent to the casual reader or reporter.

So Dick Destiny blog is going to briefly touch upon it.

If you inspect the linked recipes at the end of the text, the production of triacetone peroxide is not as elementary as pouring acetone from one bottle into hydrogen peroxide in another and adding a little acid. The formation of the end product takes time.

(Keep in mind, the smuggling of prepared explosive compound onto an airplane is another matter.)

One onf Wikipedia. This is a retarded entry, using "2-propanone" to refer to the common solvent, acetone. The individuals who wrote or contributed to this are incompetent in a variety of interesting ways not worth examining in detail.

This recipe is high on Google's list. Or go nuts.

Major blogs tend to be not so hot on terrorism articles. Kevin Drum immediately reached for the "it's easy" meme right down to the "expert" quote, provided through the BBC.

To wit: Are the [bomb] components difficult to get hold of?
Answer: No, it is very easy. Ordinary household substances could be used.

Scintillating.

But astonishingly imbecilic was Daniel Engbar's "Explainer" at Slate. Engbar began imagining the results if one could drink the components of a liquid bomb to pass through security checkpoints. This appears to have come from the idea that making a passenger takea sip of a chemical or liquid in front of screeners either is, was or might be a good way to screen for "liquid bombs."

Engbar first makes the mistake of thinking you can mix peroxide, acetone and an acid catalyst and instantly have a bomb. Next, he starts theorizing absurdly about diluting the chemicals with "milk or juice" to get them past screeners. Since he doesn't know chemistry, he doesn't understand why this makes him appear silly. (Hint: It reduces concentration, makes recovery of yields more difficult, adds impurity, and so on -- mass action chemistry stuff which can't be escaped by dint of being an Islamic terrorist.)

"These are all nasty chemicals that you wouldn't want to drink under normal circumstances. But if you could somehow disguise your liquid bomb ingredients as milk or juice, you could probably get away with a little gulp in front of the airport screeners," writes Engbar. Amusingly, he appears to want readers to take him seriously.

"In very large doses, acetone also has a narcotic effect, and hydrogen peroxide can cause your bowels to rupture," he writes.

If this is the work of an "Explainer," Dick Destiny blog would never hope to see a Slate blog called "The Obscurer."

And, from The Daily Kos, these howlers:

" . . . it's generally worth noting that the British are a hell of a lot more competent in wrapping potential terrorism up than we seem to be . . . "

"That seems to be one big difference between U.S. and U.K. efforts in the War on Terror. Despite the obvious political and strategic bungles of the Blair government, the U.K. is beginning to show a history of wrapping up terror plots and arresting those involved, and seems even to have managed to have done so within the context of law."

It's impossible to tell if the British are more competent or better at anything in the war on terror. If they are, the ledger sheet isn't in yet. They missed the TATP homegrown bombers of July 7, 2005. And the story of the the alleged London ricin ring argues for an opposite conclusion, too. As do the recent cases of the Red Mercury Gang and the terrorist who wouldn't poison a rabbit.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

THE DAILY FALLOUT (another in a series): Recent print anticipating the great bomb sling, from the WSJ to the Philly Church of God

In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time -- Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the U.S. about nuclear development by Aug. 22. This was at first reported as "by the end of August," but Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement was more precise.

What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. -- from the opinion page, the Wall Street Journal





Those in the violent world of Islam must read this, so that they may know that it is they – not Israel – that are threatened to extinction from the face of the earth.

Waging a proxy war in southern Lebanon against Israel using Hezbollah, Hamas and other mercenaries from terrorist-harboring countries, the uncivilized from the primitive world of Islam led by Iran and Syria still don’t get it – modern nuclear-armed Israel can wipe them off the map in any rocket-raining day.

. . . Still the uncivilized of Islam don’t get it. To the uncivilized, killing Jews and murdering innocent civilians is their – and only -- international diplomacy.

This sheer ignorance and plain stupidity of the uncivilized in the violent world of Islam are forcing Israel to deliver the first blow in a thermo-nuclear war and erase the likes of Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon, and the whole of Syria and Iran, from the face of the earth.

When this happens – God forbids – and the white dust of death clears the air, perhaps only a sleek of oil may be found where Syria and Iran were once there the day before.

The American Chronicle





God will use the German-led European Union to punish the U.S. and Britain: “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (Isa. 10:5-6).

. . . God says this military attack on Britain and the U.S. will not only destroy another one third of their inhabitants, but it will utterly level the cities not already destroyed by the “pestilence.”

Ezekiel 6:6 mentions the cities being “laid waste” and “desolate” (see also Hosea 5:9). Even more graphic, the Bible shows that these cities will be left without one inhabitant! (Isa. 6:11; Jer. 2:15; 33:10). The cities of ancient Israel were not destroyed in this manner. In fact, these prophecies could not have come to pass until the advent of nuclear technology.

How utterly astounding to imagine cities like New York, Washington d.c., Los Angeles, London and Sydney being leveled and left empty by nuclear destruction! But it is coming!

From the Philadelphia Church of God's magazine, The Trumpet.


Sources, curious and otherwise, courtesy of the Google news tab.

If you liked this even a little, you'll surely enjoy last week's Daily Fallout.
MORE CHICKEN-SOUP-FOR-THE-SOUL ROCK

The Los Angeles Times' Calendar section went into overdrive on the rock music as chicken-soup-for-the-soul beat today, erasing the goodwill accumulated over Joan Jett's fullpage Vic Tanny-pic on Sunday.

Repeating from Friday's entry, daily newspaper arts & entertainment sections are nuts for stories on music that's good for you. Rock 'n' roll was not meant to be good for you, 'you' meaning some great whitebread upper middle class mean that's the favored reader demographic. Joan Jett, of course, could've told the Times that on Sunday if they'd asked her, I bet. Her best album -- called Album -- had two tunes on it, a copy of the Rolling Stones' "Star Star" (chorus of "Starf------, starf-----, etc.) and "Coney Island Whitefish" (we used to call them "pink elephants" and the chorus is: "Scumbag, scumbag!") neither of which can be made into inspirational messages for newspaper stories.

But a story of Melissa Etheridge ("She's speaking out through her songs") as a writer of rock and roll equivalent of Hallmark cards for tragic occasions can. Take the published picture at left. Roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news of my honorary degree! Wooh! It's a good cold shower after Monday's blog pic.

Writes Tina Daunt for the Times:

"First, Safeway and Ford Motor Co. -- co-sponsors of the Race for the Cure [for breast cancer] -- asked if she would write a song about the experience for their fundraiser." Etheridge is, so far, a cancer survivor.

"For a VH-1-sponsored Hurricane Katrina telethon, she wrote and performed 'Four Days,' a song about women who lost a child in the storm. BestBuy wanted a Christmas song. For that, she wrote 'Christmas in America,' about a wife longing to see her spouse, who is serving in Iraq. Last Summer, after seeing Al Gore's slide show on global warming, she signed on to write a song for the film version . . . "

Sheesh.

To say nothing more is to say everything.

Matched across the page from it, in case one required more proof of the Times' addiction to sissypants news on pop music as vitamins and medicine for the inner self: "A healing of souls using rock 'n' roll -- Therapists have found that [it] has a therapeutic effect . . . "

As a kid, I consider myself lucky to have had vulgar Creem magazine and another pub, the title of which I forget, featuring Alice Cooper with a dozen stuffed rats glued to his jacket, instead of the daily newspaper, for the print on rock music. It pissed off my mother so much she harbored a grudge for decades, having her vengeance by throwing my record collection out when I wasn't paying attention. However, read what passes for writing on rock and roll enough in 2006. It makes you want to listen to polka anything but.

Monday, August 07, 2006

JOAN JETT MADE ME SWEAT: Overcome by the power of rock & roll
She's how old? 47.
This photo from yesterday's Sunday paper almost made me run out on the spot and buy Jett's new album, Sinner. She's on the Vans Warped tour, a punk rock summer festival generally about as fun as a case of pink eye. The slur shows my age. The tour and CD have put her back on the music pages and if pics could make sales, Sinner would be at the top of the charts today.

Having seen Jett many times in the 80's and 90's, she appears to have become even better on the eyes with additional curing. "Good genes" was the explanation. Could you put that in pills? The horrible crush I had on her over twenty years ago was revived for a few minutes upon reading the feature.

A ringing endorsement of rock & roll.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

FEAR & THE LIKELIHOOD OF TERROR ATTACK: Possibly defined by poll


Take a look at this poll on beliefs about terrorism. It was conducted last week by the Los Angeles Times and my mounting of it is awkward. But the percentage numbers, in columns left to right, are respectively: All, Democrats, Independents and Republicans.

The top line question -- how likely is a terrorist attack within the U.S. in the next 12 months -- is an interesting one. It coincidentally coordinates with the materials published last week on Dick Destiny blog, items facetiously referred to as news from the Doom Line. An overwhelming majority of the polled Americans (78 percent), think an attack is very or somewhat likely.

Dick Destiny blog considers itself well educated in matters of security and terrorism and if it had been asked, it would have answered, "I don't know." It's possible there will be an attack, maybe within twelve months, maybe longer. And maybe there won't be. I'm not privvy to red hot secret intelligence.

But I do see a lot of the reporting in the daily newspapers on the war on terrorism. Much of this reporting, as has been said before, is pointlessly scarey. Although it carries a patina of professionalism and reporting from the standpoint of authority, it is not illuminating. You can read it regularly and not really learn anything about the state of the war on terror. You can divine from it only that you ought to be scared. See here. Or here. Or even here! Yee-hah!

Dick Destiny blog also knows that the US government is a lot more secretive than it has to be in informing citizens about events in the war on terror. It simply doesn't tell anyone anything. It does not share information with citizens. Everything must be pried from it. Information on the improvised cyanide bomb had to be tickled from sources. Documents on alleged al Qaeda work into furthering their capabilities in bioterrorism or chemical attack had to paid for from private information/intelligence brokers, contributed by reporters, or received from a foreign government (like that of the United Kingdom).

In any case, DD blog thinks the lack of honest information from the government, coupled with the weekly doses of fear from the newsmedia, certainly contributes to the high numbers of those who think a terrorist attack is very or somewhat likely.

The second question doesn't interest DD blog so much because it splits along partisan lines.

But the third question purports to deliver attitudes on why there have been no major terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11. One category of answer indicates there is a small core of Republicans who believe the US government's secret efforts have had something to do with it.

I can find no reason to assign belief that US government and intelligence actions have made a difference. And no reason to believe they haven't. There's simply no way to know and it goes back to the reason above.

The US government has been abysmal at substantively informing its citizens on progress or significant events in the war on terror. When it has taken on the appearance of being informative, it has resorted to inflation of threats.

And books like Ron Suskind's One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 don't fill the gap, either. One can get the illusion of learning something substantial about the waging of the war on terror from Suskind's book, but there are too many mistakes and exaggerations, made for the sake of storytelling, for it to be taken seriously as an informative work.

But -- anyway -- the only interesting number for question three falls under the belief: The terrorists are patient and waiting for the right time. Almost fifty percent of the polled chose it as an answer. I don't know if the terrorists are patient. Some aren't, as a number in foreign countries have demonstrated.

But since the standard weekly media wisdom has been that terrorists are capable of anything, that they're relentlessly crafty and plotting, it is not unreasonable to think that the communication of this idea has been effective and central to the forming of the opinion.


Another item of interest concerning beliefs and hunches, perhaps stupid ones, comes by way of Kevin Drum's blog a little bit ago.

ISRAEL AND LEBANON....The conventional wisdom
about Israel's campaign in Lebanon is that it's been a strategic failure. They went in assuming they could substantially destroy Hezbollah's military capability with an air campaign, and when that failed they were forced into a costly ground campaign followed by a belated realization . . .
I read the Los Angeles Times daily and haven't gotten the impression of "strategic failure." Or that the ground campaign has been, so far, particularly costly.

When Dick Destiny blog thinks costly, the Marines storming Tarawa in World War II comes to mind. A US cruiser force going to the bottom off Savo Island in one night was costly. Or Wehrmacht/Russian slugfests on the eastern front. They tended toward costly.

But this is what one gets, I suppose, when people formulating the opinions on military operations would not think of turning to a bookshelf stocked with some materials on the same. If they did, they might look to historical instances of mixed army/infantry assaults along a very narrow frontier into an area defended by an organized fanatical enemy that has had a long time to dig in, familiarize itself with the landscape and stockpile arms. Were they to do so, they would find that IDF vs. Hezbollah south of the Litani is, as yet, on the tepid side of the list.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

WOUNDED BIRD: Successfully catering to middle-aged fan of also-ran & third tier hard rock bands

Wounded Bird is a budget reissue label that has been working the dregs of American and British hard rock, 70-80's style. They specialize in cheaply priced back catalog material too marginal to keep the interest of the mega-conglomerate labels that minted it. They provide just what was enough to make you buy the originals -- the bare recording and minimal album art.

Wounded Bird doesn't inflate their reissues with 'bonus cuts' that were originally left in the studio. They know the records such as this were meant to be under forty five minutes. That's the way I bought 'em and that's the way I want to listen to 'em. I don't want the Who's Live at Leeds ruined with another sixty minutes that subtracts from its original brief and brutal power. Imagine it inflated from two sides to an indigestible six, which is exactly what was done for the CD 'deluxe' version.

I assume the company makes the runs profitable on the undersellers by not having to pay much, if anything, in the way of royalties to the bands, acts which probably signed away all their publishing rights decades ago.

Dick Destiny had vinyl for a lot of the acts Wounded Bird resurrects but lost almost all of them in the great purge of 2000. I had stored my vinyl collection at the old homestead in Pennsylvania and when I made a call to make arrangements to retrieve it to California, my mother, who was well into brain atrophy caused by dementia, informed me she had thrown them out.

Dementia brings out the worst in people and it did so in my mother. It boiled her down to the inner kernel that was her being. She imagined (and imagines) things that never happened and as the disease dissolved her, the only thing left was an inexplicable and corrosive rage, one that had accompanied her through life, and which my brother and I learned to endure as "normal."

With the rage went a desire to get even with people. And since the only people left in her life to get even with were family . . .

So, at some point, she imagined I had told her to throw away all my records. It was insane. But she had always hated my love of rock 'n' roll and, by extension, the record collection. Her mind furnished the delusion and she had someone come to the house and dispose of several thousand records.

That makes me just the right demographic for Wounded Bird.

And, conveniently, they've made reissues of a number of CDs in the past few years which coincide with favorites that were liquidated without profit by my mother.

I've written on some of these.

Loudness: Circumsized, down & dirty is on a Japanese metal band. And I would be distraught without The bad texas bees, Point Blank, an odious but supremely entertaining Texas boogie band that advocated the Republican values of eating pills, less taxes and being mean to women.

Not reviewed but appreciated was the early Brownsville Station catalog. The best of the bunch is Yeah with the hit, "Smokin' In the Boys Room." No B.S., their debut, featuring crazy man drummer T.J. Cronley, who was claimed to be the template for Ted Nugent's arena-busting stage persona in the 70's, is also fun-with-a-capital-F hard rock record.

If you're like me then you don't need to be told this stuff. I'm betting if this is the case, you already have a copy Foghat's Boogie Motel, issued a couple weeks ago on Wounded Bird.

Boogie Motel was the last good Foghat record. At the time ,they were being chipped away at by the label to come up with something more marketable with disco, New Wave and punk rock. Most hard rock bands weren't up to the challenge.

The challenge was not to change style, but to stick to your guns and get laid off rather than make records that alienated your core constituency.

Boogie Motel was the last Foghat record for fanatics.

Also in release this year were More's two albums, Warhead and Blood & Thunder. More were British and were loved even less in their homeland than here. For Warhead, in America they were coupled with Brownsville Station's management and production team. It ensured the album would have a souped-up hard rock sound that almost fit commercially. You can plunk it on before or after late period Brownsville Station records, or mid-period Blackfoot (which also had the same production team) and the sonics merge. All of these records came out of Al Nalli's Subterranean recording studio in Michigan and they had what can be called the "Nalli sound."

The "Nalli sound" was thick guitars, hard rock drumming, and vibrant blues-shout singers, all glued together in a warmly compressed mix that meant pretty good value for dollar to the guys, like me, who went enthusiastically for second and third tier bands.

Warhead had its title cut, about a nuclear tipped missile. "Soldier" was timeless. "Merciless . . . KILLER!" wailed singer Paul Day. Mute the TV and play it loud while watching the evening news. Imagine it as inspirational music in the cockpits of bombers on their final runs on the objective.

Although Day was gone by Blood & Thunder, he gave it his all for Warhead, capping the performance with the philosophical, "I Have No Answers." Warhead is something of a theme record 'though I'm not sure the band meant for it to be so single-minded in its blue collar nihilism.

The Gooze was also a fan of More. Indeed, it was he who originally tipped Dick Destiny on the band. You can read his enthusiasm for More and others here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

METAL BAND INTO SCAT & MEAT BOYCOTTS deemed grown-up

Daily newspaper arts & entertainment sections are nuts for stories on music that's good for you. Their upper middle class editors fancy themselves intellectual gourmands winnowing the wheat from the chaff.

But it's the other way around.

If you start picking pop music to offer your readers on the basis of its worth as chicken soup for the soul it guarantees the selection of chaff and mold spores, of crap, from the unspoiled grain.

Favorite memes on this during the past year have been metal for brainy people articles, much ridiculed in P. T. Barnum Metal. For the calendar period 2005-2006, the New York Times owns the book on the cliche, with a little help from Slate.

So the Associated Press checked in with it's variation, called "Metal is growing up, speaking out," by Justin M. Norton. Since it's AP, it has the potential to be reprinted all over and, indeed, the Los Angeles Times ran it deep inside its Calendar section today.

I'm going to dispense with the theory on class warfare and get right to the dogshit for purposes of comedy.

Start up with the sensitive twentysomething in the metal band, Six Feet Under. It sets up a perfect lead for milksops and pantywaists who, might somehow think at this late juncture, an anti-war-in-Iraq song in any genre of music is remarkable.



Heavy metal singer Chris Barnes didn't know what people would think of his anti-war song [title deleted] he wrote after his cousin deployed to Iraq in 2003.

He heard a number of complaints -- but also received supportive e-mails . . .
The man's against the war. Some people like the idea, some don't. Utterly scintillating.

But the biggest errors in the AP metal artice are ones of omission. That is, the journalist doesn't tell the reader what a band is REALLY LIKE because that would spoil the thesis of the article.

The article shifts to a marginal thrash metal act from San Diego, Cattle Decapitation. Members are vegetarians. And they loudly protest the eating of meat and the slaughter of animals by the corporate food machine. Great! Tofu! Don't wear leather.

"Cattle Decapitation . . . [mixes] charging guitars and an animal rights message in drawing a diverse crowd that includes activists . . . " writes Associated Press.

If your lips aren't curled in a sneer yet, consider the album covers and song titles of Cattle Decapitation, the likes of which AP can't send and didn't send out on the newspaper line. (Now don't write an angry letter. I love animals. I have four cats.)

Since I have no such restrictions at Dick Destiny blog, dig this Cattle Decap title: "Cloacula: The Anthropophagic Copromantik." Now there's a message tune. Or also from the same album, "Polyps." Had a sigmoidoscopy lately?

Cattle Decapitation is preoccupied with anuses and what comes out of them. Surely this shows a band that is an example of "Metal --- growing up, speaking out."

Or how 'bout these titles from the educationally entitled "Human Jerky" CD: "Parasitic Infestation (Extracted Pus, Mistaken for Yogurt and Gargled)," "Constipation Camp" and "Colon-Blo"? The AP writer mentions "Veal and the Cult of Torture" from this album, but somehow misses the above as well as "Unclogged and Ready for Spewage."

Dick Destiny blog wouldn't have characterized Cattle Decapitation as heavy metal with a thoughtful message, unless your idea of thoughtful is a series of incomprehensible tirades about meat, excrement and the digestive system. I would characterize them as into vegetarianism but with the weird psychoneurosis of linking everything to scat.

Naturally, an article with a title like "SCAT BAND CATTLE DECAPITATION: Weird ninnies who want you to change your diet so you don't get colon cancer" would never fly at a daily newspaper like the Los Angeles Times. So the story must be classified as either a stupid trick, disguising Cattle Decapitation as an animal rights band without all the other really screwed-up stuff that they're about, or the work of people who are just witlessly casting around for not-true-but-good-sounding-rubbish to fill out the day's section.

Next, dig up the experts, the chocolate jimmies on top of the cupcake of the this-music-is-good-brain-food story, for quotes.

"Metal is expanding and evolving and becoming more diverse," said Canadian anthropologist and filmmaker Sam Dunn . . . 'Metal artists have responded to the culture and politics of the day,' said Donna Gaines, a sociologist and author of 'Teenage Wasteland,' a study of working class New Jersey metal heads."

Yes, while "Constipation Camp" is not an issue I deal with when considering the culture and politics of the day, Dick Destiny blog recognizes it could be one for other readers.

Another band Associated Press mentioned as a progenitor of the "Metal growing up, speaking out" movement was Nuclear Assault. Nuclear Assault was a marginal 80's act I endured on undercards at the Airport Music Hall while working as a writer for the Morning Call newspaper's features section.

Nuclear Assault were jokey but mostly unlistenable. Their small number of fans did, however, get a thrill out of two songs. One was entitled "Buttfuck:" "We thought [Vince Neil of Motley Cure] should've gone to prison and got anally raped like most young men do when they're put in U.S. prisons. We made the whole thing funny," said one member to a heavy metal fan site. Quite logically, you can't print "Buttfuck" in a daily newspaper.

The other top tune was called "Hang the Pope."

Of course, the other big fault with newspaper stories of this type: They have no sense of humor.

Pop music, including heavy metal, begs for light treatment. Indeed, one could write a very entertaining story about a band like Cattle Decapitation.

Wait! I did just that. Last year, in reviewing the Japanese heavy metal band, Bathtub Shitter.

It begins:

Americans believe constipation to be a fearful evil. The superstition is dressed up in evening TV ads for psyllium that treat it as religion. Purges make one wholesome, and there can be nothing better in life than to be a laxative addict.

It was a belief while growing up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, too, and what the stiff-necked Pennsy Germans feared they wished upon others. As a consequence, shit jokes—specifically, those in which inferiors suffered the revenge of laxatives or brown-stained toilet paper pasted to the shoe—were a source of glee. Indeed, one of the favored local artists was a "Professor Schnitzel," who recorded 45s of comedy routines sprinkled with such tales.
Read the rest of "Dump-Trucking Japanese Turdcore Act here at the Village Voice if you wish. It's not mandatory. There is no social worth to it or the music. If you think so, you are mistaken. But I liked the sound of the Bathtub Shitter CD a little.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

IT'S EASY FOR TERRORISTS: One year later on the Doom Line

At only mid-week readers know the Doom Line is red hot. And it's been that way for a good long time. Dick Destiny blog has purposely portrayed the news in a silly manner. That's why the weird and gross pictures. Expect more of 'em! The sheer amount of official doom, the regular stream of cant, delivered by leaders and terror-fighers vieing for attention and money, invites you to regard it as absurd.

About a year ago I took on an exercise at GlobalSecurity.Org to illustrate one insane aspect of it. This was done by mapping certain types of war on terror news in the newsmedia.

Reprinting from that time:


[The newsmedia] when dealing with potential problems, like the threats posed by terrorists . . . has an extremely poor track record. It does not ask hard questions of anyone. It simply acts as a conduit for the delivery of nightmare claims. Employing a Nexis search, [I] was able to quickly find around one hundred stories devoted to spreading permutations from the last two years containing some fashion of the assumption or assertion that "it's easy for terrorists" to bring on calamity using a multitude of plans and practices.

Rail road yard security is a joke, it's easy for terrorists to walk right in. .50 caliber sniper rifles, powerful enough to shoot down airplanes...are easy for terrorists to acquire [but even easier for Americans to get]. It's [still] too easy for terrorists to get across the border. A new driver's license bill is bad because it makes it easy for terrorists to have them. A blackout reveals how easy it might be for terrorists to knock down the electrical grid. Colorado is vulnerable to terror because federal focus on big cities has made it easy for terrorists to strike in landlocked states. It is easy for terrorists to contaminate water so [a scientist's] new sensor system is a necessity. Be alert for farm terror because it is easy for the enemy to strike there. [A state] [leads or lags] in bioterror readiness and it's a matter for concern because it is easy for terrorists ... Assume a bioterror attack is coming because it is easy for terrorists...

By themselves, they occasionally appear lucid and reasonable. Pile them together and the aggregate is astonishing. The message is everything is vulnerable and terrorists are capable of anything. Because of one terrible day and the cliche "9/11 changed everything," devastating terrorist strikes have been theorized as transferable to almost any imaginable attack scenario.

After I read a stack of these articles, I thought for a moment I was in the wrong business and should devote a couple months and publications to predicting the ways in which terrorists could attack. Terrorists could imitate the methodology of the Washington sniper and his accomplice. Why haven't they? Terrorists could go into the forests and high chaparrals of southern California during fire season and ignite calamitous blazes, making national news and sewing panic. Local arsonists do it. It would be easy for terrorists. Gang members from central Los Angeles shoot into cars on the freeways. Surely that would be easy for terrorists... [Anti-terror celebrity Richard Clarke did do this in a long piece for the Atlantic Monthly.]

It's a good game. It needs to take no account of what terrorists are actually doing, no knowledge of what tough to get human intelligence sources and materials may show, or historically -- what preferences, capabilities, experiences and limitations terrorists carry with them. It can assume that there are more terrorists expertly trained in many degrees and methods of mayhem and working themselves into place than there are actual terrorists. For the anti-terrorism effort, it is only necessary to assign a simple universality to fragility and vulnerability and degrees of omniscience and unlimited resources to the adversary. It is easy, so to speak, to think of things that are easy for terrorists to do.

. . . If one looks at an article published for the August/September 2005 edition of the American Journalism Review, one found a lamenting over the lack of good reporting on homeland security. But in the first few paragraphs, the article promptly fell into the same type of reporting it purported to criticize. The review delivered a titillating and speculative disaster porn scenario, trotting out a reporter to furnish claims about how easy it would be for a terrorist to kill -- again thousands -- by sabotaging a tank of anhydrous ammonia at a chemical plant.

"This particular killer goes for the eyeballs and turns skin into a gooey mass. Respiratory systems are paralyzed by excruciating pain," wrote the publication. "...thousands of people would have died. I have no doubt of that," said a journalist who was a source.

And "To attack [America's electrical] grid, a terrorist need only study publicly available trade journals, which explain where new facilities are constructed," again cried an op-ed piece in the New York Times on August 13, 2005. "A terrorist could then disable a particular system by destroying the computers and relays housed in the poorly protected building."

Article after article can be found warning of dire consequences. No publication is too small, no facet of life too obscure.

The publication Arkansas Business, for example, furnished warning about attacks on rice.

"It would be very easy for terrorists to introduce anthrax or even something as simple as rat poison into rice being exported to the United States," said a rice businessman for the paper.

"A shipload of contaminated rice, distributed throughout the nation, would be a security nightmare, creating not only a panic but possibly an economic meltdown." (The subtext: Buy American grown rice, as only it can be guaranteed to be inspected, pure and clean.)

In any case, the hot button issue is again anthrax, the ultimate weapon, as has already been read, possibly to be blown through cities, worked into beef, poured into fruit juice, or also distributed in bags of rice.

And if not anthrax-tainted rice, how about lunches for school children?

At the end of July 2005, USA Today ran with the brief "School lunches a terrorist target? USDA calls meals 'particularly vulnerable.'" "Currently, authorities are looking at how a popular lunchroom staple, chicken nuggets, may be susceptible to tampering," wrote the newspaper. "Federal officials have distributed a food safety checklist to school lunch providers, who must show evidence of a food safety plan..."

Catastrophe-causing poisoning materials for terrorists are apparently available off the shelf everywhere, too, their capability facile.

"Robert Buchanan, a senior science adviser with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said mounting an attack on the food system would not require a great deal of knowledge or sophistication, and the result could be catastrophic," wrote the Birmingham Post-Herald in July 2005 in the article, "Experts say food supply could be hit."

"The number of biological or chemical agents that could be used in an attack [is huge]," said the government advisor to the reporter. "I'm amazed how many agents are available over the Internet."

[W]hile such news often departs from reality, it generates its own truth and consequences by filtering into reports delivered by expert government, corporate and academic agencies. The action of this process as well as the close uncritical embracing of it dissipates organization into thousands of efforts going in different directions, reducing security to a chaotic scramble for money by crowds of experts and officials, all trying to paint scary scenarios because the more forbidding the manner of doom the easier it is to command attention.

Such collections of news stories and claims frequently lead to hearings, policy, entrenched beliefs, and funding of no immediately visible benefit to average Americans. Indeed, it is not unreasonable to put forward the distinctly not radical idea that given the recent national and local failures in the face of catastrophe, the needy would still take it in the shorts if all that was claimed to be very insecure to terrorists was made secure.

In any case, I concluded that the packaging and delivery of doom and terror stories comprised rigidly casted scripts which destroyed careful deliberation. They inspire a belief that everything must be secured and that nothing is secure. They lead to the perception or even conviction that the work of battening down the nation will never be over.

They fostered belief that it is rational and healthy to be in fear because everyone is threatened, "the world is not a safe place," and maniacs can and will attack fruit juice, school lunches in Iowa, chicken nuggets or tubs of cafeteria spaghetti.

The enemy will also use nuclear weapons so keep looking over your shoulder for the bright flash.
Your children should then be trained to in the wearing of hazmat suits and the disinfecting of the contaminated. And there will never be enough money spent -- locally, regionally or nationally -- to bring peace of mind. Nothing is beyond the foe.

Now the thesis is a year old and it's the same old, same old. The original is still here. It generated a little interest on the basis of this nicely done summary.

And then everyone went back to business as usual. Pass this one around. Link to it. Maybe it could do some good.
DOOMED IN THE GARDEN STATE !

(GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow Alert paper) On Monday readers learned they were doomed because of the proliferation of biotechnology which allows the terrorist or just the plain old disgrunted and crazy to make viral illnesses. And earlier today they were served a sampling of articles from the Washington Post to the Taunton Gazette on atomic doom -- from a fishing boat offshore to nuclear smuggling through tunnels under the Mexican border and into San Diego. "No one can say otherwise," said one nob in a Pennsylvania newspaper.

Yes, the official Doom Line is red hot today, with the Associated Press warning that you in the Garden State -- are doomed when the terrorists make a chemical attack. Here at Dick Destiny blog we imagine our readers to be so shaken by the proclamations, they've bitten their nails until their stomachs need a manicure.

From the Associated Press:
Millions of people in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are at risk from a terrorist attack or accident at chemical plants in the Garden State, according to a report released that calls for tougher security standards.

The report by the New Jersey Work Environment Council estimated a release of chlorine at one Kearny facility could endanger up to 12 million people in northern New Jersey and New York, and a similar plant in South Jersey along the Delaware River could send deadly gas into downtown Philadelphia.

"There has always been a degree of risk associated with living near or around a chemical-handling facility, but in this post-9/11 world, we must recognize the need to safeguard ourselves against those who might attempt to use these facilities as weapons," said Rick Engler, the council's executive director.

The biggest risk cited in the report is posed by Kuehne Chemical Co. in Kearney, where a release of chlorine could seriously injure or kill as many as 12 million people within a 14-mile radius in northern New Jersey, Manhattan, Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York.

Others cited as big dangers include the Infineum USA plant in Linden, where a chlorine release could affect 4.2 million people within 14 miles; the Solvay Solexis plant in the Torofare section of West Deptford Township, where 4.1 million could be at risk from chlorine in a 25-mile radius, and the Valero refinery in Paulsboro where 3.1 million people could be affected by hydrofluoric acid within a 19-mile radius.

"This for the first time gives directions to potential terrorists as to where the targets are . . . It is a disservice to the workers who work there and the communities that surround them. This puts people at significant risk for a terrorist attack that up until today wasn't necessarily there," said a spokesman for the chemical industry.

The group decided to identify the individual facilities because residents and emergency services workers need to know what dangers lurk in their communities.

"Any terrorist with a good pair of binoculars and a high-powered rifle can drive down the New Jersey Turnpike and find targets," shot back a spokesman for the environmental group.
THE DAILY FALLOUT: Get yourself ready - a selection from the recent daily news


"I know it isn't good to laugh about such a serious topic, but when I saw the graphic on Ready.gov suggesting that when a nuclear bomb goes off a hundred feet away you might want to protect yourself by walking around the corner, I just couldn't help myself," said Ivan Oelrich, Vice President of Strategic Security at FAS. The appropriate reaction to a nuclear attack is to hide from the light and heat of the blast, then walk perpendicular to the wind away from the dust cloud. Accurate information like this, not available on Ready.gov, can be found on
ReallyReady.org.




Combining the plain text of Bible prophecy with Drosnan’s information from the Bible Codes, we can piece together more of the puzzle. There is a prophecy in Isaiah 22 that speaks of an attack on Jerusalem that is so fast and so overwhelming that Israel doesn’t even have time to engage in the battle! The prophecy even speaks of slain who are not slain in battle, as though it is over before it even begins. Could this be a nuclear attack? What’s more interesting is that the attacker in this prophecy is not Babylon or Assyria, or even Egypt, but rather Elam. Elam was the old Persian Empire, and is inhabited today by the modern nation of Iran.

Another end-time prophecy, this one in Zechariah 2, refers to God exacting rather severe vengeance on “the daughter of Babylon” and the “North countries” for a merciless and devastating attack on “the apple of His eye,” which typically refers to Jerusalem. The old Persian Empire was a province of Babylon for several hundred years until Assyria overthrew it in roughly 645 BC, so this prophecy could also be referring to present day Iran . . . the modern day “Elamites.” The prophecy in Isaiah definitely states that Elam provides the weapons for this attack, but isn’t clear on who actually launches it. The Bible Codes suggest, however, that it is Hamas that delivers this devastating blow to Jerusalem, not Hezbollah or Iran, and includes the words “from Haniel”.

Isaiah 22 suggests that this attack is completely unexpected and therefore undefended against. If this attack is the one in Zechariah 1 that speaks of a scattering of Israel such that “no man did lift up his head,” then it is unquestionably an ominous and deadly attack. Indeed, it is the attack that precipitates the final seven years of end-time prophecy with all the violence and confusion that go with them. Now less than two weeks away, Israel should definitely be wary of the 9th of Av (August 3rd ) this year. More importantly, she should not forget to look to the real source of her defense, as Isaiah 22:11 warns! Vacationers, businessmen, and CNN News Correspondents should take note of this date . . . just in case.

Jerusalem, and what may happen next, I have copied the relevant pages from my book: America, The True Church & The End of the Age. You can download these pages at no cost from my website: http://www.destined-for-glory.org/.



If a country was serious about wanting to attack the United States with nuclear fire in a manner that would ensure surprise, leave no fingerprints and guarantee success, there's a much easier, better and cheaper way. It's one that could avoid the challenge of smuggling weapons into U.S. ports under the eyes of law enforcement, intelligence, customs officials and the Coast Guard: Put the missile on a ship disguised as a commercial freighter or private craft, sail near American waters and fire.

The North Koreans could adapt a short-range missile, such as a Scud. They already have them, and they know they work. The Scud has a large "throw-weight" (meaning it can carry a very heavy warhead) and could deliver a weapon at close range with ease. Building an improvised vertical launch platform for the missile is no significant technical challenge, nor is figuring how to make firing accurate enough to shoot a nuke at New York or Washington.

What's better (from an enemy's standpoint) is that the missile firing might well go undetected. Even tracing the perpetrator after the fact might be tough, particularly if the ship were scuttled after the firing. We wouldn't know who to retaliate against.

From a Walter Groteschele at The Washington Post.





Black markets are the most likely source of a nuclear bomb for a terrorist organization. For several years A.Q. Khan, a Pakistani scientist, ran a secret network that sold nuclear materials, bomb design and hardware to North Korea, Iran, Libya and perhaps others. It was rolled up late in the game. Too late, in the case of North Korea.

North Korea and Iran have shown the world that the nuclear nonproliferation treaty means little or nothing to them. Others will follow their lead if they get away with it. More nuclear weapons in more hands adds up to a greater risk that an atom bomb will get into the hands of terrorists.

America's borders are porous. Police found an expertly constructed tunnel running between a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico, and one in San Diego. We were told that it was used for smuggling marijuana, but it could have been used to smuggle nuclear materials into the United States.

No one can say otherwise.

These are the elements of a "perfect storm" and they all point to a catastrophe.

Pennsy Patriot News.


Certainly in the event of a nuclear attack, once the explosion(s) is over you would be well advised to move away until the threat from radiation can be professionally assessed. You would also be sensible to wash or shower in clean water and change your clothing as soon as possible.

Family Security Matters, NJ



This is a time to enjoy ourselves. This is a time to celebrate our nation's glory and to be proud that we have our freedom.

But that tranquility can be shattered in an instant.

We are still fighting the war on terrorism.

But now President Bush and our world leaders have a new threat to worry about, a threat we haven't really seen since the end of the Cold War.

In North Korea, there's a leader, Kim Jong Il, who wants to send a message. He's placed his country on the map, especially with this week's launching of seven missiles, including a long-range missile that some analysts feared could reach the continental United States. Luckily, that missile failed right after launch.

We need to strike fast and end this threat, especially if it comes on our country.

President Bush and world leaders are meeting to come up with strategies to change the mindset of Kim Jong II, whom the president says "wants us to either fear him or pay attention to him."

Our nation is not the superpower it used to be. It is not feared throughout the world as one that other countries should avoid.

Terrorism is now a constant threat. A nuclear attack could join that list.

So this is the Summer of 2006.

Enjoy these dog days. Just don't forget to look over your shoulder now and then.

The Taunton Gazette

How to Identify a Nuclear Attack

A nuclear explosion will start with an intense flash of heat and light followed within seconds by an explosive blast. For a small weapon, the flash only lasts one to two seconds. A large bomb could have a flash that lasts 10 seconds or more.

From We're So Really Really Ready - Really, We Are -- We Mean It! An effort way, way too obsessed with itself. They don't really think anyone would somehow miss an atomic explosion, do they?

You might also enjoy Ultimatum: A Game of Nuclear Confrontation.

SUPERNOVA: The summary

The faults which render CBS's Supernova weak weekly remain firmly in place. The choice in rock tunes is crappy for the band the contestants wish to join. Gilby Clarke must be bored shitless listening to the hits of Nirvana ("Pennyroyal Tea") performed by a vaseline-coated Australian barfly or the ridiculous reggae and hip-hop mix turned in by the sissy boy who will never win the competition but who is kept on as show milksop by the network.

The contestant known as "Storm Large" nope,"Dana"-- a young but big girl -- did a slightly better than fair version of the Who's "Baba O' Reilly." This made her the best performer of the night. Everyone else was wretched. (Wednesday update: Dana was booted. Smiles all around, a great experience, we're all stars here, homina-homina. )
Zayra, token affected weirdo
The designated crazy girl -- of the name Zayra -- who almost gets eliminated every week but is retained for her stubborn moxy and aptitude for the bizarre, phoned in a horrible arrangement of Tommy Tutone's 80's 'hit', "867-5309/Jenny." What was a number hard to ruin was ruined in such a way everyone was left stupefied. But stupefaction is the crazy girl's forte. That's her job and she's pursued it with great zeal. Zayra has stupefaction nailed and, what's more, knows it. Just look at her! The picture doesn't even begin to capture her TV image. Crazy girl would fondle herself on primetime if it would get past the censor.

With rock critic hat on, Crazy girl can be described as a combination of the lead singers for the Doctors of Madness, Jobriath and the Skyhooks. You never heard of them, did you?

These were all glammy, theatrical, excessively costumed acts -- Jobriath was a solo artist, none of which rocked very much, and which were avoided like plague in America in the 70's. Guess why? They were all thought of as really swishy, or too interested in Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Perhaps if they had been Liza Minelli? (The Skyhooks were gigantic, though, in Australia).

The crazy girl, unknowingly, recreates them to a T. If the crazy girl did a solo record I would consider buying it as a curio, never to be listened to, but great for whatever costume she wore on the cover.

And the woman with bolts in her chin and witchy hair did "Can't Get Enough" in half see-through leather pants. Wow.

One reader wrote in last week that network rock shows like Supernova were an easy target, with the implication that I should spend my time picking on something else. Everything in the US of A in 2006 is an easy target for criticism, son. The recognition of which separates the pros, like me, from the amateurs, like you.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

THE WAR ON TERROR WILL BE VERY, VERY GOOD TO THEM

The war on terror is great for business, particularly the K Street kind. Take the example of Civitas Group, an investment strategy and lobbying firm for bringing together the private sector security industry and the Department of Homeland Security.

Why the Department of Homeland Security?

Because it is the primary portal through which taxpayer dollars flow to the private sector in the name of making us safe in the endless war. Since the limits of the war are not bounded (in other words, it will never end), being an intermediary in it makes excellent sense. One can view Civitas Group, then, as either an entity that wants to make you safe through private sector innovation, or simply a war on terror profiteer.

Since the Department of Homeland Security is the font from which all good security dollars flow, the Civitas Group has hired Bush administration national security experts, usually from high position in the Department of Homeland Security. The reason for this is obvious. It pays to know people in high places and if you want those contracts, what better people to have on your side than people who used to work there?

Your product could be crap, a nostrum for an unverified threat, or something no one needs, but for it to get anywhere, it has to be in the hands of the right people. You want those who can work the phones, get appointments -- experts with the juice and the connections to cut through the bureaucracy. You want an established network to the inside and since no one in this country gets anywhere if they don't know someone, you gotta know people that were at the top of the heap in the Department of Homeland Security and the Bush administration.

To that end, Civitas Group hired Richard Falkenrath, one of the Bush administration's telegenic anti-terror men who know everything there needs to be known about the war on terror.

While Falkenrath no longer appears on the Civitas Group's team page (he's gone to work for the NYPD as a counter-terror man but assume he served the lobbying group well), Penrose "Parney" Albright, another big man from the Department of Homeland Security has taken some of the reins at the organization.

From Dick Destiny blog, a couple days ago, on Albright:

While . . . at the Department of Homeland Security [Albright] basically served as a person who saw to it that taxpayer dollars were doled out adequately to big business for the purposes of national security.

Penrose Albright is another of the Bush administration's supply of national security adminstrators who are experts on everything, "everything," in his case, being stuff that's not very good, from purported anti-missile systems for commercial airplanes that can't be used but are really, really expensive, radiation sensors that don't work right but which are very expensive and -- well, you get the idea. Anything that the private sector national security industry can make that is costly but not cost effective, that's Albright's bag.

Penrose Albright has a reasonably large footprint in the national news media. If you bother to inspect it, you will find it free of substance but always connected to the linking of the underwriting of private sector gadgets, anti-terror installations and businesses to the taxpayer for the sake of national safety and preservation.

Eyeballing a press release from Sentry Technology late last year, one can get a feel for the glee of the process of joing with Civitas to get at the "homeland security market:"

Civitas Group llc, a leading global homeland and national security strategy and investment firm, today announced that it will team with Sentry Technology Corporation to develop and market solutions to the homeland security market.

SentryVision(R) SmartTrack is the only traveling camera system offering both one and two pan, tilt and zoom CCTV cameras that travel along a ceiling or wall mounted rail. SmartTrack both improves performance and reduces the cost of CCTV deployment by adding mobility to camera systems. Using SmartTrack, security operators can easily circumvent visual obstructions and more effectively analyze anomalous behavior of people. The product is ideally suited for application in the public transportation security market.

"Civitas will focus on assisting Sentry to raise awareness of its solution among security market thought leaders and help the company to establish a footing in the homeland security market," said Rick Gordon, Vice President of Civitas Group.

Civitas principals that will be working closely with Sentry include Dr. Parney Albright, former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology and David Howe, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Emergency Preparedness and Response at the Homeland Security Council.

In the war on terror, opportunity now stands for building local biodefense labs, too.

"Mississippi economic development officials think community support has put the state at the top of the list to land the National Bio and Agrodefense Facility," went a news story in a Mississippi Clarion-Ledger on March 22 of this year. "State officials made public Monday plans to pursue the federal laboratory that would be run by the Department of Homeland Security."

Then things get fuzzy.

"[Penrose Albright], managing director of Washington-based Civitas Group, a consulting firm, said a research consortium created to provide support to for the project helps the state's chances as well," wrote the newspaper. " . . . Albright, assistant secretary for science and technology for Homeland Security, is working as a consultant with [University of Mississippi Medical Center].

Within the space of a paragraph Albright is mentioned as a consultant to the medical center, a managing director of Civitas and and a secretary for Homeland Security.

According to a Dept. of Homeland Security press release, Penrose Albright tendered his resignation to George W. Bush in on May 9, 2005, less than a year before his appearance in the Mississippi newspaper as a lobbyist/consultant for the UMC biodefense facility. Although the DHS press release mentioned a resignation letter had been tendered, it also read: "A resignation date has not been determined . . ." Albright joined Civitas Group in October of 2005.

"Before the [the Department of Homeland Security] was even officially stood up, we knew we needed a facility like this," said Albright to the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger newspaper on April 2 of this year. "Even though I left the government, I felt this was an important project to see it through to completion."

On June 18 of this year, writing in the New York Times for a story entitled "Homeland Security Inc., Profiting from Terror," Eric Lipton wrote: "Federal law prohibits senior executive branch officials from lobbying former government colleagues or subordinates for at least a year after leaving public service. But by exploiting loopholes in the law — including one provision drawn up by [Department of Homeland Security] executives to facilitate their entry into the business world — it is often easy for former officials to do just that."

" . . . veteran Washington lobbyists and watchdog groups say the exodus of such a sizable share of an agency's senior management before the end of an administration has few modern parallels . . . 'It is almost like an initial public offering in the stockmarket,' Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, based in Washington, said of the booming domestic security market. 'Everyone wants a piece of it.'"

But lets move on and not get bogged down in the nasty mire of conflict of interest stories. It's just business and everyone has a right to make a buck, right?

The Citivas Group also issues occasional reports assessing the business market for national security.

With GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow hat thoroughly screwed on, we took a look at one of them just for so.

The name of the report was Sensors and Homeland Security: A Market Assessment, so Google it if you wish to see it in its fullness.

Why sensors? Because they're big business. In the war on terror we need sensors for everything from ricin (hint, they don't work too good) to dirty bombs to any material that could possibly be used as a weapon. If they can't be sold domestically, they can always be sold to the military, too, which also invests heavily in the business.

For the Civitas Group report, the sensors of highest interest are those which will detect chemical, biological, nuclear, radiological and explosive threats.

The report characterizes the threats with statements like this one, describing a chemical weapon: "Blood agents such as hydrogen cyanide and chlorine, prevent the normal use of oxygen by the body tissues so that vital organs cease to function within minutes."

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! Wrong! Don your dunce caps Civitas national security experts. Chlorine is not a blood agent. You got hydrogen cyanide right, though. One out of two is still only fifty percent.

Anyway, chlorine administers what are called halogen burns. Look it up, I'm doing you a favor and furnishing professional advice here.

More interesting to readers is what we'll call the War On Terror Fun Bar Graph, pictured below.
War On Terror Fun Bar Graph
Now, read carefully to absorb the hilarity of this one.

"As we can see above, for all explosives the window of criticality is before the attack. At the moment the attack takes place, the damage is done," says the report.

Fair enough. Can you spot one of the funny parts? Yes, it's with the atom bomb, the bar labelled "nuclear." Yes, we'll surely need those sensors 36 hours after the bomb goes off.

What they mean is maybe you'll want to invest in a Geiger counter if you survive. But with the detonation of a Hiroshima-size bomb, "sensors" might be handy, but you'll be able to tell from the wreckage where the really bad no-go places might be.

VHFs, in case you were wondering, are viral hemorrhagic fevers -- Ebola virus, for instance.

We could spend time arguing technical details over the War on Terror Fun Bar Graph but the underlying message is this: They're making guesses in order to present as metrics what really can't be accurately described so simply.

To take an example from their own report, consider chlorine, which they erroneously classify with cyanide. The human nose, eyes and mucous membranes are excellent chlorine sensors. You can't be around chlorine, even fairly small amounts, and not know it. If you can get away from it, you move away from it -- fast. Which renders sensors to detect an attack as it occurs unnecessary. And -- after all -- that's what this diagram is about.

We'd spend more time on the report but it's no more eye-opening than an article in Popular Science or Popular Mechanics on technology for the war on terror. There's talk of first, second and third generation sensors -- the latter employing revolutionary science, out in the future. Nanosensors, smart dust, the usual jargon for things that either don't exist or which sort of exist but which are neither practical or effective. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's Immune Building program is cited as business opportunity for bio and chemical weapon sensor developers.

Since it's a worthless and unsellable DARPA project, but one that has been around for a long time, it might indeed be something good to try and siphon some money out of.

But sensors are one of the easier technology sells in the war on terror. It's what everyone thinks of first and it means continuing economic development in Fortress America.


BIOTERROR INEVITABLE: For the second or third time this week

If you regularly check the Google News tab for the word "bioterror," you know there are news stories on it and the business opportunities it affords, even though the actual incidence of historically recent bioterrorism resulting in death is very small.

Because of the Amerithrax attack, though, bioterrorism has become a great subject to write about and launch careers on. One can feign a concern for the welfare of the nation and bloviate at length on a threat that lends itself wonderfully to theoretical discussions. Bioterrorism is also great because it means jobs and money for companies, institutions, scientists and technicians.
Bioterror is one of the significant business movers of what's sized up as an endless war.

The Baltimore Sun op-ed page weighed in on bioterror today, partly in response to a news story in the Washington Post on the NBACC, a secret biodedefense/biowar lab complex being installed at Ft. Detrick. Details were furnished in the The fun business of bioterror on Sunday.

When tackling bioterrorism, journalists are good choices to make the tackles because they're so bad it. The make howling errors, the kind that even a cursory examination through Google or Lex-Nex would vaccinate against. And they can be counted on to only interview a small number of sources who deliver the most exciting and doom-filled proclamations.

Wrote the Sun, today:


Plenty of experts believe that a bioterror attack is inevitable, though none has been successfully tried, and cheap and effective explosives remain the weapon of choice for the world's extremists. The use of deadly germs by terrorists would be unlikely to lead to widespread death - because that's a very difficult undertaking - but the psychological impact would be enormous, and that might be the terrorists' real goal anyway. A simple bioweapon does not require tremendously sophisticated equipment or expertise. But does it make sense, in that case, to devote finite research dollars to the most outlandish threats, rather than focusing on the most likely ones?
The words bioterror and inevitable are even more exciting than the combination of bioterror and wake-up call. The nifty official GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow-approved Google search string -- here -- puts an exclamation point to it.

It's a cliche, something to mumble to readers when you have nothing interesting to say but wish to appear on the politically correct and national security-minded side of the issue. Google's return of plus 30,000 hits, while not agonizingly scientific, does indicate that the claiming that bioterror is inevitable is, well, inevitable. Or continuing. Or constant.

The Sun also errs when it writes "none have been successfully tried."

Of course there have, but the number of successful attacks is scant.

The Amerithrax case, for instance, which the Sun obviously knows about, was one. Oddly, the op-ed piece even alludes to it in the column. And in 1984, the Rajneesh group in the Dalles, Oregon, used Salmonella on food.

And, it should be added while there are plenty of experts who believe that the threat of a bioterror attack inevitable, there are also plenty of scientists who believe that the threat of bioterrorism has been overcooked in the United States. And that this overcooking has contributed to the creation of the NBACC and its research plans for cooking up new disease so as to assess threats.

To paraphrase a colleague, bioterrorism may develop into a physically present, rather than largely discussion-based threat, in the future. And it might not. But in either case, it is not one of the most pressing menaces with which the world is faced.

The Sun op-ed does gently lay negativity on the idea that the nation must make more deadly diseases in secret so that it might understand future threats better. It could have added that the United States' reputation in the world is now such that not only will doing such things not make others in the world community not feel better about us, but that it will encourage other nations to redouble their secret efforts in biowarfare. The "Trust us, we're the good guys and we know what we're doing" rationalization doesn't work anymore.

The regular weekly dose of bioterror cant, bioterror business and bioterror this and that in the absence of bioterror in the national news. Book this page as one of your favorites and check back now and then to hit the search string above and this one. Bonus feature: If bioterror actually occurs, you'll be among the first to know!

This will allow you to keep abreast of the fun business of bioterrorism.