Friday, September 29, 2006

IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY: Dick Destiny taught the band to play. We've really gone out of style but I'm still guaranteed to raise a smile . . .

Just posted to the net, another old review of "Arrogance," by Dick Destiny & The Highway Kings, courtesy of a reprint on Dave DiMartino's blog at Yahoo.

DiMartino, now executive editor of Yahoo! Music, was editor of CREEM magazine in 1986 and the following is excerpted from an Eighties year-end wrap-up:

"Yo! Let's party!

"And what better way to party than to get a hold of Dick Destiny & The Highway Kings' Arrogance, a hard-rockin' metal extravaganza that takes up where the Dictators left off with even less class! Yep, you may have a hard time finding this record--and if I had any sense of moral responsibility I'd go downstairs and get it, but I don't--so find it anyway . . . "

The entire piece, which is hilarious in the old style of CREEM is here. Dig the pics of David Lee Roth and the Monkees!

I wrote some things for CREEM and DiMartino, including my first paid-for-record-review ever, a live set by of Hawkwind. They're lost somewhere in the CREEM archives or a dusty box in the closet.

Some MP3's from the old albums and performance, sprinkled through the pages, here and here.
DICKHEADS 2.0: Two awards for intellectual excellence in meaningfully framing the threat of agroterror. One expert says casualties of 9/11 a bonus for al Qaeda, then compares it to theoretical foot-n-mouth plague

DD blog didn't think it would need to signify the intellectual excellence of our war-on-terror experts so soon after the Chris Shays nomination.

But then the second annual International Symposium on Agroterror in Kansas City came along, affording the chance for members of the bioterror-is-inevitable lobby to put hooves into mouths.

From the Kansas City Star, an FBI agent make this comparison:
Kansas City FBI agent David Cudmore said that the Sept. 11, 2001, attack was not necessarily designed by terrorists to kill a lot of people.

“That was a bonus for them; they wanted to attack our financial structure . . . They’re not going to kill people with foot-and-mouth disease, but boy will they hit our pockets. We’d lose billions; it will almost cripple us economically.”

Yes sir, it's obvious that ramming large jet liners filled with fuel and passengers into the World Trade Center buildings and Pentagon during the work day was not necessarily designed to kill a lot of people, that many fatalities were a "bonus."



A secondary award goes to the conference, as a group. Again, according to the Kansas City Star: " . . .experts say the vulnerabilities are endless."

Of course they do. It's their job.

Read The Kansas City Star.
LOW-TECH ANTHRAX STILL DEADLY? FBI research widens suspect list. 'Weaponized' theory undermined . . .

Writing for today's Register with GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow T-shirt on, DD digs into the data provided by a recent paper on the anthrax letters of 2001.

. . .While the FBI seems stalled in its hunt for the bioterrorist, it hasn't impeded the publication of good science on the anthrax letters.

To this end, we point you to the forbiddingly entitled "Forensic Application of Microbiological Culture Analysis To Identify Mail Intentionally Contaminated with Bacillus anthracis Spores," by Douglas J. Beecher of the FBI's Hazardous Material Response Unit in Quantico, VA.

Published in the August issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a peer-reviewed journal, the article is fascinating for the many things it says about mailed anthrax . . . Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NO SPECIFIC THREAT: But the enemies are out there, you bet

"There hasn't been a specific terrorist threat against the U.S. food supply, but Americans should not take the safety of their food for granted, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Wednesday," wrote AP, reporting from the second International Symposium on Agroterrorism, in Kansas City.

"The bacterium that has infected some of our fresh spinach was not, to the best of our knowledge, the result of an intentional contamination . . . But it illustrates how much damage can be inflicted by an intentional act on our food supply," said Johans via AP. Since great minds think alike, it's a repeat of a knee-jerk comparison in the last few days. One could just as easily say every case of food-poisoning reported in the United States in the past month "illustrates how much damage can be inflicted" by agroterrorists.

It was said there was no "specific or current threat" to the agriculture or food sectors.

But, "We know that there are individuals who want to harm us, and we are aware there are people with the knowledge and the capability of sabotaging our food . . . "

The US government, it was reported, wants to tag the 9 billion livestock animals in the country so they can be monitored for bioterror by 2009. It's a plan likely to go nowhere since it faces strong opposition in Missouri from farmers and Congressmen.

The entire news clip is here.
AN AGROTERROR SIDESLIDE SHOW: Don't forget to visit the Protect-Our-Food vendor expo!

The second annual International Symposium on Agroterrorism in Kansas City this week serves a couple of functions. One is to allow a segment of the bioterror-is-coming lobby to run through its usual warnings and predictions. The second is to increase opportunity for commerce and profit in the war on terror.

Regarding the symposium, the FBI brightly says: "A Protect-Our-Food Expo will also be available, assembling vendors from a variety of disciplines to share information and promote relevant products and services."

And the vendor expo would not be best served if there weren't declarations coming from the presenters, declarations which indicate goods and services are needed, like cameras, more locks, various gadgets, security assessors, etc.

For example, Peter Chalk, a not-biologist or farmer or person even slightly trained in a hard sciencepolitical scientist at RAND, quoted on vulnerability to agroterror, for the Dow Jones newswire, in US Animal Production Vulnerable to Attack: "There also is a widespread lack of security and surveillance in place at [farms], [Chalk] said. Many simple items like locks and gates are lacking."

And animals on farms are packed together, which increases their stress, increasing their vulnerability to agroterrorism:

"The close confinement practices of U.S. agriculture in livestock production not only increases the contact animals have with each other, but it is thought to increase stress levels among the animals, which by itself increases disease susceptibility, Chalk said."

The FBI's symposium site also helpfully includes presentations from last year's confab, so DD decided to have a look and sample some of the best for you. And when DD says best, it means best in the sense of parts of presentations in which the alleged experts are caught clowning, phoning it in with material that is either stupid, deceptive or designed to indoctrinate a simple-minded audience with the idea that agroterror is inevitable and easy.

First off, parts of a colorful slide show put on by Jerry Jax, Associate Vice Provost for Research Compliance at Kansas State University.



This is a picture of the terrorist weapon known as the "anti-cow gravity bomb."



What does anthrax have to do with agroterror? Good question. It furnishes an opportunity for scary quotes.



What does the ricin-loaded umbrella that was used to assassinate Georgi Markov in 1978 have to do with agroterrorism? Perhaps al Qaeda is planning to use them to inject potatoes or apples with ricin pellets!



It's always good to remind the audience, in case they've fallen asleep from boredom, that agroterror is "#1 . . . nothing but Bad News."



Here's what the presenter didn't show in his slide. It's the most interesting part, too.

From a common college textbook, "Fundamentals of Microbiology" by I. Edward Alcamo:

"Perhaps the most famous and controversial use of [Serratia marcescens] was the US Army's 'Operation Sea-spray,' conducted in 1951 and 1952. To study wind currents that might carry biological weapons, scientists filled balloons with cultures of [the organism] and burst them over the ocean near San Francisco . . . Shortly thereafter, doctors at close by Stanford Hospital noted an unusual outbreak outbreak of pneumonia and urinary tract infections among hospital patients. They isolated Serratia in some of these cases, but could not establish the source . . . Serratia pneumonia is accompanied by patches of bronchopneumonia, and in some cases, substantial tissue destruction in the lungs . . . In addition, it is a widespread agent of urinary tract disease."




Wow!



Although this Jax slide is a mysterious bit of Photoshopped gibber, given that the President is a teetotaler, it could have used a better caption, like: "If only I still had Saddam to accuse of supporting bioterror, I could go back to drinking beer at the ranch."

Another slide show on-line at the FBI's agroterror symposium site is that of Joseph Annelli, Director of Emergency Programs, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA. It was entitled "Agricultural Threats -- Livestock and Crops" which seems a bit clumsy, leaving the reader to puzzle over whether or not livestock and crops actually are threats to agriculture.

The presentation's message was similar to Jerry Jax's, often using the same colors and styles.



Good thing that's "Unclassified/For Official Use Only."

Annelli also tried to build a case for an al Qaeda capability in agroterrorism. However, since the evidence of capability is nil, what one can only display is a desire of some kind. To this end, "documents" -- and the term must be very broady applied -- found in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban, were presented.

Documents, in this case, meant some Arabic [?] scribble on a sheet from a legal pad, more scribble on a partially burned piece of paper and a pamphlet from a model helicopter flight simulator computer game called AeroChopper. Lame!

[Note: An alert reader points out the legal pad notes may not even by in Arabic. The slide was such that it was difficult to magnify.]


Looks dangerous!



Tuesday, September 26, 2006

AGROTERROR CANT, AS PREDICTED: Al Qaeda interested in it, says FBI man, to crowd of pros whose livelihood depends on taxpayer spending on the matter

As predicted in the blog Sunday, a story entered the newswires today on the threat of al Qaeda-launched agroterrorism, courtesy of a second annual conference on the matter, held at a posh hotel in Kansas City.

Expect a few more before the end of the week, none mentioning the confab's function as an effort to boost commerce to academia and the private sector through anti-terror spending.

From the Kansas City Star:
Al-Qaeda has studied U.S. agriculture, which is in need of defense, FBI deputy director John Pistole told about 900 people gathered at the Westin Crown Center . . .

“I believe that the terrorist threat is changing and even adapting — but so are we,” Pistole said.

The second annual International Symposium on Agroterrorism opened to a packed crowd, primarily industry leaders from across the country and 20 countries. Those attending the five-day event represent various aspects of food production, as well as law enforcement and food scientists.

In his speech, Pistole discussed the potential threat of agroterror attacks. As evidence, he pointed to documents found after Sept. 11 detailing information on U.S. agriculture and translated into Arabic.


Ding, ding, ding goes the bullshit detector.

When an official declaims at a professional conference on what is said to be contained in al Qaeda documents post-9/11 re agroterror, the readers knows to ask for examples. Or to take it with a couple salt-shakers full.

Yes, jihadist documents certainly have discussed bioterror. And they've done it in the most imbecilic manner.

While the naive quality of such documents is never discussed, there is always plenty of testimony on how inevitable the worst possible outcomes are.

[Keyphrase: Agroterror tools can be bought at Home Depot, along with stuff for atomic bombs and hydrogen cyanide smudge pots.]

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I SEE DUMB PEOPLE: Columnist conflates spinach contamination and bioterror

Bacterial contamination of food is a subject taught in every introductory microbiology class. And that is because it is a significant and ever present cause of human disease.

For example, on the subject of typhoid fever -- of interest because of the rumor of Osama bin Laden's death, "Fundamentals of Microbiology (3rd Edition)" by I. Edward Alcamo, typhoid fever is listed under "Foodborne and Waterborne Infections."

"Typhoid fever is in the series of classical diseases that have ravaged humans for generations," reads Alcamo.

Caused by Salmonella typhi, a Gram-negative rod, the organism is resistant to "environmental conditions outside the body."

"This factor enhances its ability to remain alive for long periods of time in water, sewage and certain foods. S. typhi causes disease only in humans and is transmitted by the five F's: flies, food, fingers, feces and fomites."

"In the small intestine it invades the tissues, causing deep ulcers and bloody stools but little diarrhea . . . [b]owel perforation and gall bladder infection are [possible] complications."

The disease also causes "mounting fever, lethargy and delirium."

If the death of Osama bin Laden from typhoid fever is not a rumor, there will be delicious irony in the fact that the leader of a terrorist organization interested in bioterror experienced the terrible fright that must come while dieing, untreated, from a painful microbial illness. (But if not, forget I said it.)

Moving along, "The outbreak of E. coli O157: H7 linked to fresh spinach was blamed for five more cases of illness Saturday," wrote Associated Press, "raising the number of people sickened to 117 . . . "

Ninety two people have been hospitalized, said the report. One has died and two other deaths "are under investigation for possible links to the outbreak."

California state have traced the contamination to three counties in the Salinas Valley where spinach is grown.

And earlier in the week, the Los Angeles Times ran a story in which scientists stated that most, if not all, of California's waterways in its growing region were contaminated with E. coli as a result of run-off and manure from domestic animal excrement, and that some of the contamination was likely, by odds, to be O157:H7.

While contaminated spinach has reminded everyone that foodborne poisoning is always with us and sometimes deadly, DD was waiting for some clown to use it an excuse to go on about the evergreen menace of bioterrorism.

And sure enough, Martin Schram, a political columnist for Scripps Howard, turned out a column entitled "Spinach and bioterrorism prevention," today.

To do it, Schram had to go back to the case of the Rajneeshee cult in the Oregon town of The Dalles in 1984. In an attempt to rig an election by making people ill -- this would, the idea went, force people to stay home -- the Rajneeshee contaminated salad bars in restaurants with Salmonella typhimurium.

Wrote a scientist from the CDC:


A communitywide outbreak of salmonellosis resulted; at least 751 cases were documented in a county that typically reports fewer than five cases per year. Although bioterrorism was considered a possibility when the outbreak was being investigated by public health officials, it was considered unlikely. The source of the outbreak became known only when FBI investigated the cult for other criminal violations. A vial of S. Typhimurium identical to the outbreak strain was found in a clinical laboratory on the cult's compound, and members of the cult subsequently admitted to contaminating the salad bars and putting Salmonella into a city water supply tank.

However, instead of noting anywhere in his article that bioterrorism has remained exceedingly rare, despite the desires of some and the case of the Rajneeshee, and that foodborne poisoning is common throughout the world, Schram goes in the other direction.

That other direction is the one well known to daily readers of DD blog when it has its GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow T-shirt on.

This could have been bioterror because it's easy. The nation's not ready and we're not ready. Someone or some agency is always horribly unprepared. Everyone is in need of wake-up calls and a good shaking.

This time, writes Schram, we're "understaffed" in the search for bioterror.

Schram writes it as if unaware of how many people deadeningly repeat the same bioterror message through his medium.

For instance, ABC's evening news broadcast rang the bell today, too. Agroterrorism -- it's easy, the news network reported. Richard Clarke was produced to say unnamed enemies had the capability to destroy or poison an entire food crop. It's not science fiction, reported ABC.

The spouting of prediction and warning on bioterror is long past the point of providing even the slightest bit of useful or even vaguely interesting information. It's now always the blurting of repetitive memes, all careful thought squeezed from the matter which is degenerated into a flavor of terror war propaganda designed to grab the listener, reader or viewer's attention and create unease.

Yes, I get it, Martin Schram. Everyone does. Having been beaten over the head with hype and cant so regularly, how could we not? Thanks for repeating the script. (It will be repeated again this week, just as soon as reporters start filing stories from an agroterror conference being held in Kansas City.)

"We have just witnessed a demonstration of how terrorists might use our food conveyor belt to spread their deliberate contamination from coast to coast," writes Schram. "Even while we think our food detectives are on the case, eyes wide open."

So order the bodybags and lime.

The next time Schram is sitting in the bathroom, his gut gripped by Staph food-poisoning, we should hope he has time to compose another essay on witnessing a demonstration of how terrorists might have used his food to put him on the commode.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AL QAEDA: Terrorists led by the business practices of Max DePree, says pol

The first job of a leader is to define reality.

Leaders are concerned with substance, not artifice.

Leaders don't inflict pain - they share pain.

We cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are.

These are the aphorisms of Max DePree.

DD had no idea who Max Depree was until earlier in the week when Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra whipped the name on an audience at the American Enterprise Institute. Hoekstra was there to sell his "Al Qaeda -- The many faces of an Islamist Extremist Threat" report, distributed through the auspices of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

In a rambling, sometimes unintentionally nutty speech, Hoekstra warmed to his subject: how al Qaeda must have read from the work of his mentor, Max DePree, CEO/Chairman of Herman Miller Corp.(a manufacturer of office furniture), who wrote the books "Leadership Jazz" and "Leadership is an Art."

Al Qaeda was nimble, entrepreneurial and agile. It ran its business of terror along the advice of DePree and had good bosses who empowered their employees, according to Hoekstra. The mind wandered.

At one point, Hoekstra said al Qaeda liked its operatives to blend into the local population, to have no criminal records. A couple minutes later he said al Qaeda was recruiting in American prisons, which would seem conceptually the opposite.

Hoekstra pretended that his report, which is full of pretty pictures -- one of which we will reprint below -- was a cooperative effort between him and with his good friend Jane Harman, the Democratic Congresswoman from California.

This is what the Democrat minority portion of the Committee, among other sings, had to say about their cooperative effort, included in appendices at the end of the thing.


That takes the wind out of the sails.

Or this, from minority member, Anna Eshoo:


Hoekstra's report goes on to say that the Internet is an enabler of al Qaeda. There is much hand-wringing about the fact that the terrorist organization is able to use the technology of cyberspace. From a reading, one gets the idea that if Hoekstra could make it illegal to have Internet-connected computers everywhere but in the United States, that would be a good battle for us to win in the war on terror.

There is much talk about how the United States must win a "war of ideas" against al Qaeda.

Although having the United States being thought a torturer is not exactly a winning idea, the report does not mention it.

There is, however, much requote from the speeches of Osama bin Laden.

But most interesting is a map of the United States, one that takes up the center of the House select committee report. Although probably not intentionally designed for the way it is
employed, its purpose is to clearly show the US is infiltrated -- border-to-border and wall-to-wall with terrorists.

So fittingly, it's reproduced below with an embellishment.


"The first job of a leader is to define reality," said Max DePree. Hoekstra got that part right.

"Leaders are concerned with substance, not artifice," also spragt DePree. Not so hot on the second, though.





As this was going to blog, rumors of Osama bin Laden's death by typhoid, were hitting the news.
"The chief of al-Qaida was a victim of a severe typhoid crisis while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006," wrote the Associated Press, reporting from a document reprinted in the French newsmedia. "His geographic isolation meant that medical assistance was impossible, the French report said, adding that his lower limbs were allegedly paralyzed."

Even if not true, it is still logically consistant. Typhoid is a serious problem in Pakistan. And it can cause paralysis.

Friday, September 22, 2006

RUBBISH SCI-FI CHANNEL PROJECT promises to look into Bigfoot, the Mothman and UFOs -- Perhaps doesn't answer existential quantitative and qualitative question, "Do we really need more?"

Back at the beginning of summer, Dick Destiny was contacted by a journalist named Roger Trilling doing scouting work for a reality version of the 'X-Files' in development in southern California. The idea, as it was explained over the phone, was to assemble a team to go out every week and look into some aspect of the alleged unknown, most notably, UFOs.

It was hard to take seriously, and I wrote:
So I told the fellow in charge of the search -- a good journalist by the name of Roger Trilling -- that I didn't believe in UFOs, which more or less destroys the point of such a reality-based television show. And I answered a number of progessively more foolish questions.

"What would I do with an air force man or a civilian who had a UFO on film or in a photograph that was not explained away by reflections and optical phenomena?" Besides roll your eyes? Answering the truth, of course, would have been impolite.

Such questions made me feel dumb. And it wasn't the interviewer's fault they were idiotic. Anyone having to actually find a team of serious people with more than half a brain for such a project is going to be hard put to avoid the ludicrous.
At the time, I figured Sci Fi channel was a good candidate for the show, mostly for its love of trash like the "investigating" of ghosts or alleged news inquiries into how the world might end.

But I do watch the channel -- Battlestar Galactica is a favorite as was Farscape until the latter's cancellation. And I saw a teaser for a new program called Sci Fi Investigates tonight.

Seeing the premise -- the quick flash of a man in a bigfoot suit, a grainy old upside down plate as UFO photo, and a collection of pandering ninnies -- I knew I'd found the show I'd been interviewed for.

After the interview I was certain I wouldn't get a callback and didn't.

Reading the press release for Sci Fi Investigates confirmed my original dim impression of the project.

Slated for "investigation:"
Bigfoot – New sightings are making news and SCI FI Investigates does whatever it takes to secure legitimate evidence of the legendary creature's existence.

Mothman – A real-life nightmare that made headlines around the world, recent sightings of a terrifying winged apparition, known as the Mothman, takes SCI FI Investigates deep into the mountains of West Virginia.

Paranormal Hotspots – As hubs for such uncommon occurrences as UFO sightings, cattle mutilations and unexplained paranormal activity, Dulce, New Mexico and Sedona, Arizona are quite unique. SCI FI Investigates gets to the root of the disturbances that have put these cities on the paranormal map.


The complete summation, along with more ludicrous material, at Reality TV, is here.

The "investigative" team includes someone from the reality TV show, "Survivor," and an author (a believer in UFOs) of a self-published book on them and how the US national security state is covering it all up. [No link for obvious reasons.]

" . . . the UFO subject has had a corrosive, toxic affect on our civil liberties, freedoms, and sense of national identity," writes one citizen reviewer on Amazon. "Every concerned citizen should pay attention to this subject mainly because UFO disclosure has ramifications throughout our entire political and social system."

Surely that is indisputable.

[Keywords: John Greenewald, Boston Rob Mariano, Bill Doleman]
AMERICANS, MORE THAN TERRORISTS, ARE CRAZY FOR RICIN: Couple nabbed in murder plot

Journalists, pundits and terror experts are nuts for stories about Islamic terrorists and ricin.

They routinely pop off about how easy it is to "make" the plant poison at home, in a shed, or in some simple terrorist abode, even when a Porton Down chemical weapons expert informed a British court in 2005 that a popular Internet recipe that professed to show how to do it, actually destroyed a great part of it in the "extraction."

They go on and on and on about the dead terrorist, al Zarqawi, and how he was making ricin in the north of Iraq prior to the invasion, even though US intelligence survey teams looking for evidence of WMDs didn't find any at his camp.

And under government largesse caused by the war on terror, taxpayers continue to throw money at companies for widgets to find ricin and cures for it even though there has been only one political assassination by ricin in the last thirty years or so.

But when Americans are caught trying to make ricin, which is about once every two months, it's never significant news.

"A south Jackson couple has been indicted by the federal government for allegedly producing a biological agent to use as a weapon," reported the Jackson, MS, Clarion Ledger newspaper, recently. Note: It's below the news on a robbery of a local barbershop.

"Steven and Kimberly Edwards are accused of trying to make ricin, a poison, to kill her parents with. The indictment says Steven Edwards obtained a recipe from the Internet for ricin, and in early May, obtained castor seeds, an ingredient of ricin."

Kimberley Edwards, according to the federal indictment, here, was -- astonishingly -- even a Ph.D. chemist -- like DD.

But why did the Edwards couple -- dumb and dumber, so to speak -- believe ricin was easy to make?

Because they, and many others like them, have been told so again and again by ace biological and chemical terrorism journalists from the big newsmedia.

So when they go to Google and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky!" for the phrase "how to make ricin" -- this is what they find -- one of the scientifically trashed, but famous, net poison recipes.

The indictment adds that Steven and Kimberly Edwards were engaged in a conspiracy to murder the parents of Kimberly a with a biological weapon. As motivation, money -- the inheritance of an estate worth in excess of one million dollars.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

THE CIA WANTS YOU! Especially if you enjoy Fox's animated series, King of the Hill

The last couple of nights, DD has noticed commercials for employment at the CIA between reruns of Fox's "King of the Hill" comedy cartoon at dinner time.

The CIA wants you!

And Dick Destiny is unsure what placement in the middle of the "King of the Hill" hour (two reruns) says about shared interests and skills among fans of the series, like me, and ideal candidates for employment at the CIA. Run, Dale Gribble!

In any case, I noticed the commercials after an excellent Los Angeles Times story entitled: "Spy Agencies Outsourcing to Fill Key Jobs."

"Largely because of the demands of the war on terrorism and the drawn-out conflict in Iraq, U.S. spy agencies have turned to unprecedented numbers of outside contractors to perform jobs once the domain of government-employed analysts and secret agents," wrote the Times.

The paper related "more than half the employees are not U.S. government analysts or terrorism experts" at the National Counterterrorism Center.

Problems and benefits associated with the reliance on outside contractors, or the private sector-ization of intelligence work are discussed in the Times article. On the plus side is the management and maintenance of the intelligence apparatus' computer systems and the necessary "plugging" of holes created by staff cuts during the previous decade.

On the negative side: The introduction of the profit motive which impacts the analysis and interpretation of intelligence as well as morale of employees in operations.

DD has discussed the issue previously, in Annals of Terrorism.

It comes down to being wary, as most people should be, of for-profit firms that purport to either compete with or replace functions of the work of national intelligence agencies, no matter how lousy one may think such agencies are.

An inescapable fact of the war on terror is that capabilities and threats are frequently exaggerated.

To get people to listen to your story or stories, to make them buy something you are selling, to make them believe you are providing value for your analytic labor, you must frighten them. And if the evidence at hand isn't sufficiently scary, or the people who you're serving aren't attentive enough, then the temptation is strong to embellish and sell the goods like something they ain't.

Unchecked, it's destructive to analysis. It also selects for the hiring of people who are good at telling you things that currently blow with the winds of received wisdom, as opposed to the delivering of information which is true, as far as it is in the best of your ability to know it, but which runs counter to the same.

Another way of looking at it is the pleasing of two bosses -- your corporate manager, who wants to keep the client thinking the vendor is producing great things, and the client, whose agency more urgently needs critical thinking as opposed to interesting, but not necessarily true, "stuff."

"The spike in the use of contractors is likely to diminish as the bumper crop of recruits at the CIA and other agencies rises through the ranks," concludes the Times. "However, officials said that was a process that would take years."

The entire story is here.

So you saw the CIA ad, too, and you think you want to be a spy?

Well, "[The] CIA is interested in hearing from you," I wrote -- way back in 1992.

"It interviews thousands of Americans for jobs as spies, intelligence analysts and technical specialists every year. But because of its classified mission, hiring methods are unusual and Kafka-esque, taking at least a year to complete and bound in smothering bureaucratic process, comic ineptitude and secrecy."

Hiring was a long process involving multiple interviews, essay writing, test-taking, background checks and the completion of an extensive personal history file.

One might reckon, unless you're Nick Fury, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. coming out of retirement, it still is.

Whether or not the agency still employs a brain-damaged personality test from the Fifties, one I took, to screen its applicants is an unknown. If you find out, let Dick Destiny know. That is -- if you can, without being fired or charged with treason.

Read Job Openings at the CIA. It's one of a kind. Nothin' else exists like it on the net.

The CIA also thought very highly of polygraphs. At the time, all candidates, if they were given an offer, were required to pass one.

"David T. Lykken, a psychologist who did pioneering research and public education on the limits and abuses of polygraph testing, died last week at age 78," wrote Steven Aftergood in today's Secrecy Blog at the Federation of American Scientists.
[Lykken said] the use of the polygraph for security screening of personnel, as is commonly done by U.S. intelligence agencies, cannot reliably achieve its purported goal of identifying spies or traitors and in many cases becomes counterproductive.

"I think it is now obvious that polygraph testing has failed to screen out from our intelligence agencies potential traitors and moles. On the contrary, it seems to have served as a shield for such people who, having passed the polygraph, become immune to commonsense suspicions."

A fascinating obit, read the rest here.
TERRORISM ISOLATES A TOWN IN KANSAS: Still a week to go until bin Laden's American Hiroshima, so you can sneak in one episode of 'Jericho' tonite

From The Daily Fallout, more on bin Laden's plan:


An ominous warning has apparently been issued by Abu Dawood, reported al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan. According to him, another massive attack upon the U.S. is in its final stages of planning, and is about to be commenced.

The leader specified that Muslims living around the New York and Washington area should leave immediately. This proposed attack has been dubbed the "American Hiroshima", an apparent reference to the 1945 American nuclear attack on Japan.

He continued to say that Americans will be receiving a recorded message from Osama bin Laden, which is being referred to as a "final" message. It is unknown whether Dawood's claims are credible, or the actual extent of his connections with bin Laden.

The Short News Any relation to the Short Count?


An attack from both borders

NUKES ARRIVE IN MEXICO

Concern about Shukrijumah's extended stay in Mexico was heightened in November 2004 with the arrest in Pakistan of Sharif al-Masri, a key al Qaeda operative. Al Masri, an Egyptian national jihadist with close ties to al Zawahiri, bin Laden's No. 2 man, informed interrogators that al-Qaeda had made arrangements to smuggle nuclear supplies and tactical nuclear weapons into Mexico. From Mexico, the weapons were to be transported across the border with the help of a Latino street gang. The gang was later identified as Mara Salvatrucha, the gang that Adnan had trekked across the North American continent to meet in a Honduran café, and the plans that he discussed with the gang leaders were the plans that had been purportedly finalized at the terrorist summit in Waziristan . . .

A NUCLEAR MISSION IN CANADA

Following the success of 9-11, Shukrijumah became singled out by bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to spearhead the next great attack on America -- a nuclear attack that would take place simultaneously in seven U.S. cities (New York, Boston, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C.), leaving millions dead and the richest and most powerful nation on earth in ashes.[xii]

To prepare for this mission, Shukrijumah and fellow al Qaeda agents Anas al Liby, Jaber A. Elbaneh, and Amer el Matti, purportedly were sent to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, a facility that boasted a five-megawatt nuclear research reactor, the largest reactor of any educational facility in Canada. At McMaster, Adnan reportedly kept to himself, made few new friends or acquaintances, kept strictly to his studies, and left the facility at the same time as his colleagues.[xiii] He also managed to obtain employment at the reactor - - allegedly as a guide.[xiv] Adnan's"normal' behavior on the Hamilton campus, a source said, gave him entry to places where dangerous materials were stored without raising undue suspicion. Bit by bit, the al-Qaeda operative allegedly managed to pilfer approximately 180 pounds of nuclear material from the university - - enough to build several radiological bombs.

Canada Free Press


Today's LA Times delivered a preview on CBS's "Jericho," entitled "Terrorism surrounds a town in 'Jericho.'

" . . . a mushroom cloud appears on the horizon and all communication is lost."

"Snippets of radio broadcasts hint at nonspecific escalating 'global violence' and 'extreme reaction' and the heard-not-seen president (vaguely Bush-like) burbles the word 'terrorism' before turning into static. But there are no specific details, nor enemy proposed."

One star of the series, Gerald McRaney ". . . brings a bit of sit-comical wit into the mix and is a cool voice of caution and reason among the hysteria."

"Are we going to use our imagination to solve problems or to cause them?" he says, according to the Times.

No way Dick Destiny is gonna miss the premier. Now don't let me down, CBS.

Monday, September 18, 2006

THEIR VERDICT WAS IGNORED: Speaking truth to power, jurors in the London ricin trial protest overturning of justice

In April 2005, a jury in England destroyed one entire plank in Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council on why Iraq was a terror menace to the United States.

It had been long in coming and was not sexy. It was a complicated and annoying finding to those who desire a smooth narrative of clear cut good and evil in the war on terror.

Powell's presentation, recently addressed here, presented a "UK poison cell" as connected to the terrorist al Zarqawi, who was connected to al Qaeda, which was in league in some way with Saddam Hussein. Information in the Senate intel report, released recently, confirmed what had been revealed in an English courtroom between 2004-2005, information that had been kept from the public.


The jury's verdict contradicted Powell's assertions -- and by extension, the American government's -- on anything having to do with the "UK poison cell."

But the American newsmedia, so hip to cover the story when ricin was allegedly discovered in London prior to the invasion of Iraq, was not at all eager to correct the historical record when the jury verdict reversed all such claims in April of 2005.

As GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow, DD was the only person who wrote about it in detail. I was consulted during the course of the trial by the defense and given access to evidence, proceedings and thoughts that were going on in the case before the legal gag order came off in the United Kingdom.

And when I published on GlobalSecurity.Org on April 11, 2005, the US newsmedia essentially ran the other way. [And GlobalSecurity.Org is very well known to journalists, who --as a group -- publish their use of it daily as a valued source of military and security information. As many have come to realize, however, 'information' often has to be just the right kind, something that doesn't demolish previously received wisdoms.]

I was on the phone as the end of the trial came in and quickly discovered it was an embarrassment that American journalists hadn't bothered to attend it. The result was the press published all the risible claims made by the UK police and government prior to the trial, claims and assertions which in no way reflected what had just transpired.

The news that the reporting of a ricin positive in London, evidence of an al Qaida gang preparing for a chemical attack, was a negative -- a false positive -- was unwelcome.

That the mistake was a product of professional bungling which in turn had formed part of an elaborate mythology/hoax presented as a piece of the larger embarrassment of Colin Powell's UN speech was more shunned news. Even more appalling was that alleged key intelligence in the case had been derived from tortured informants.

A well-known reporter for the Washington Post growled at me over the telephone that I had put "them" in a awkward position by publishing the results of the trial before the newspaper could get to it and develop its own confirming sources.

"How dare you!" was the implicit message.

Since then, the newsmedia has neglected to return to the history of the London ricin trial, even when in the UK press, it has had a great deal to do with the mixed British reaction to the plot of the airplane liquid bombers.

Perhaps it is considered a small thing here.

It has, however, always been a significant undercurrent to the war-on-terror beat in the English press.

"When a buff envelope containing a jury service summons drops on the doormat, most people can look forward to spending two weeks in a local court. Our experience was different: in April last year we completed seven months at the Old Bailey sitting on a terrorism case, the so-called ricin trial," wrote jurors in the trial today, for the Guardian.

"The crown alleged a conspiracy by Algerian men, all loosely linked through the Finsbury Park mosque, to produce poisons, one a deadly toxin called ricin. We found one guilty and four not guilty. But there was a problem: despite hysteria in the media, no ricin was found. And rather than accept the fact that they were not conspirators, there was an assumption that those acquitted "got away with it.

"We were annoyed after the trial at the amount of misinformation in the news, but this turned to anger when the government announced that the acquitted men were to be deported to Algeria, where they could face imprisonment, torture or death. We took an unusual step in talking to the media about our concerns over the deportations and how we felt our verdicts had been disregarded. Two of the men from the trial were arrested last September and put in Belmarsh prison, labelled a threat to national security. They were 'released' on bail four months later on condition that they wore electronic tags, limited their movements to a small area and observed a curfew, among other measures."

The entire piece, on the overturning of legitimate justice, is here.
THERE AREN'T ENOUGH TERRORISTS: To do all the terror attacks the security apparatus predicts

"Since 9/11, it has been generally assumed that Islamic extremists have an almost infinite capacity to wreak large-scale destruction . . . " wrote Manhattan Institute scholar Heather McDonald in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal.

"The most pressing question for homeland security officials accordingly was: How do we shore up the country's equally limitless vulnerabilities? There is reason to think, however, that we may have overestimated Muslim terrorists' reach. To find out whether this is true, the next stage of the homeland security enterprise should be oriented around one overriding goal: determining the actual capacity of jihadists to strike the U.S. . . " she added.

McDonald's nicely done essay adds to the words of a growing number of experts who criticize the process of the nation's war on terror because of its working assumption that every form of attack is possible and inevitable, even in the complete absence of inkling of a verified threat.

Read the rest of McDonald's WSJ piece here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

THE DAILY FALLOUT: How to use nuclear war as a wedge issue, the nuke Iran now lobby, electromagnetic pulse barrage and American Hiroshima


Potential political strategy. If you can make sense of their statistics, you're better than me.


This is a great wedgie for Republicans. While a majority of Republicans oppose the use of pre-emptive nuclear attack, enough right wingnut extremists support it, and the Bush Administration wants to keep this option open. That makes it just about impossible for a Republican, right wing candidate to back this one. Bring it up. "Would you support the non-defensive use of a nuclear weapon? And then come back with, when you opponent replies affirmatively, come back with "So you're willing to start a nuclear war?"

OpEd News





The United States will occupy Canada after an atomic attack.

Canada's culture of complacency threatens our survival as an independent society. We drift along without properly addressing our challenges, whether it is the never-ending menace of Quebec separation or our vulnerability to the vagaries of the American economy. Sometimes we do not even see the gravest threats to our survival. Here, for example, is a terrifying but far too plausible scenario: A terrorist group infiltrates the United States through Canada, and launches a radiological or nuclear attack against a major American city, like New York or Washington. Tens of thousands of people are killed, and the United States reacts by demanding unfettered access to all Canadian territory for its military, intelligence and internal security forces. As America establishes a continental security perimeter, Canadian sovereignty ceases to exist -- in fact, if not in law.

The Ottawa Citizen



But one Canadian wants to nuke Iran now. Why? Because it would be churlish not to.

It is surely obvious now to anybody with even a basic understanding of history, politics and the nature of fascism that something revolutionary has to be done within months -- if not weeks -- if we are to preserve world peace.

Put boldly and simply, we have to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran.

Not, of course, the unleashing of full-scale thermo-nuclear war on the Persian people, but a limited and tactical use of nuclear weapons to destroy Iran's military facilities and its potential nuclear arsenal. It is, sadly, the only response that this repugnant and acutely dangerous political entity will understand.

The tragedy is that innocent people will die. But not many. Iran's missiles and rockets of mass destruction are guarded and maintained by men with the highest of security clearance and thus supportive of the Tehran regime. They are dedicated to war and, thus, will die in war.

Frankly, it would be churlish of the civilized world to deny martyrdom to those who seem so intent on its pursuance. Most important, a limited nuclear attack on Iran will save thousands if not millions of lives.

The Toronto Sun



Plan American Hiroshima.

Hamid Mir, the famed Pakistani journalist who obtained the only post-9/11 interviews with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, believes a nuclear attack against the United States is on the horizon, to be coordinated by the cleric-fascist state of Iran and its terrorist surrogate, al-Qa'ida. "Al-Qa'ida and Iran have a long, secret relationship," Mir says, and they've named their plans for a nuclear attack on the U.S. -- using nuclear devices that Mir believes they already possess -- "American Hiroshima."

In one interview with Mir, bin Laden boasts, "It is not difficult [to obtain tactical nuclear devices], not if you have contacts in Russia with other militant groups. They are available for $10 million and $20 million." At the time, bin Laden claimed already to be in possession of such devices, and Mir believes that they may already be forward-deployed within the United States. While this information is, of course, not confirmable, and may be no more than enemy misinformation, it is plausible.

. . . Our only strategic option and our best hope of averting a nuclear attack, though it's certainly no guarantee, is pre-emptive warfare against our enemies. As the five-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, let us be mindful of Islamic fascism's deadly determination. Let us match it with a deadly determination of our own.

TownHall



Not Plan American Hiroshima, dummy, electromagnetic pulse barrage!

The gist of the various EMP scenario analyses inform us that as few as five weapons in the 10 Megaton range, properly deployed would wholly incapacitate the US electrical grid.

Let us assume that either the Iranians and/or North Koreans have managed to build five nuclear weapons of suitable size and have launch systems suitable to deploy them.

But this also includes virtually every other system that is even more vulnerable… such as the entire communications network (including radio and television), GPS and all satellite-dependent systems, most computers and ground transport within range that has an electronic ignition system. How will you even get your money out of the bank? The ubiquitous credit card? Useless. How will a business even ring your purchase? Business will grind to a halt, aircraft must land (if they can still fly… think ‘fly-by-wire’). The list is much longer than you think because our many, if not most of our societal systems are inextricably interdependent on electronics and communication.

Men's News Daily




Humor, the best medicine.

Over 87 percent of Americans are unprepared to protect themselves from even the most basic world-ending scenarios, according to a study released Monday by the nonpartisan doomsday think-tank The Malthusian Institute.

Despite "more than ample warning" for the most likely means of worldwide destruction, less than one million American households have taken even the simplest precautions against nuclear shockwaves, asteroid impact, or a host of angels bearing swords of fire, the study concluded.

Millions remain vulnerable to the all-devouring terror of Jesus' wrath.

The Onion



American Hiroshima/nuclear-Qaida: Bin Laden to attack with nuclear warheads in late September. Google Arabic translator still in Beta-test.

Adnan Chakri Friday. Nuclear-Qaida?

He added Hamid Mir that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden allegedly assigned people Adnan Chakri . . . for the implementation of new attack inside the United States so that more attacks September 11, 2001. He pointed out that his information was that Adnan Jumaa made explosives and nuclear materials into the United States across the Mexican border over the past two years, He disappeared somewhere in the United States has not been able Office of the FBI, "FBI" from disclosing the place until now.

. . . The name is Adnan Chakri Gomaa. Western press reports claimed the existence of nuclear technology base, has been trained by the latter and also the title of the "nuclear Qaeda." The American writer Paul Williams, in his book "association rule : international terrorism, organized crime, disaster assistance "to the nuclear arsenal of base comprises at least 20 nuclear briefcase bought bin Laden gunmen Chechnya compared with 30 million and 20 nuclear warhead obtained by the different ways of the former Soviet Union.

Al Arabiya, by way of translate.google.


Product tie-in: You'll surely not want to miss "Jericho," the story of hope and survival during an American apocalypse, new on CBS!
JERICHO: New CBS drama on nuclear apocalypse everywhere except Heevahavaville, USA

Sunday's LA Times sported a brief piece on "Jericho," a new drama set to show the struggle of a Heevahavaville in the Midwest after the rest of the United States is nuked. It was a good read, if only for the unintentionally amusing declarations from the show's executive producer, Jon Turteltaub.

" . . . the creators of 'Jericho' . . . weren't surprised when their [show's] premise met with heaps of rejection," read the Times. "More than a half-dozen networks passed on the project . . . "

"Everybody [but CBS] thought it sounded like something Americans wouldn't want to watch," said Turteltaub to reporter Martin Miller. " . . . CBS was able to hear hope and survival."

If you've been reading the blog this summer, and the Daily Fallout series, from alpha to omega, you've seen there's no shortage of Americans wrapped up in anticipatory discussion of nuclear war.

One supposes, however, that Hollywood-types wouldn't be up on this.

A very pleasant picture, says producer of 'Jericho'
"There's something very pleasant about all the noise from L.A. and New York just going away," said Turteltaub to the newspaper.

"There's something exciting about a survival story where you get back to a simpler life where neighbors matter."

This is the first time Dick Destiny has ever heard someone claim a nuclear attack which destroys all of the nation's cities except for a few, like HeevahavavilleJericho, in the Midwest, might be simplifying and good for getting the leftovers to bond with each other. That's creative marketing!

Well, Dick Destiny recommends Turteltaub have Congressman Chris Shays write a few episodes of "Jericho."

"And don't expect a quick resolution into the origins of the nuclear blasts," reads the Times. "That's a mystery . . . that will continue for a long time," finished Turteltaub.

Sorry folks, but Dick Destiny already has it figured out, courtesy of Shays. Since he said you can make a nuclear bomb from materials found at Home Depots, it's simple.

Teenage boys destroyed America.

Teens downloaded The Poor Man's Atomic Bomb from the Internet and then went shopping at their local big box hardware store. And all the little towns, like Jericho, those without a Home Depot, survived.

Gotta be the best comedy series this fall. Count me in as a fan, already.


Please to send a copy of The Doomsday Scenario by Douglas Keeney, to DD.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

THE DICKHEAD: New award for intellectual achievement of week, granted by Dick Destiny blog

Dick Destiny was mulling over whether the next short entry should be saved for its regular series, The Daily Fallout.

But it's so exaggerated, even by the gold standard of Congressional war-on-terror utterances, it deserves its own place in the diseased sun.



Chris Shays (Rep. R, Conn.): "I believe there will be a biological attack against this country. I believe there will be a radioactive attack against the country. I even believe there will be a nuclear attack. I have been to Los Alamos and I have seen a weapon made with material you could get from Home Depot. The only thing you need is enriched uranium," Shays said [in a press conference.]

Christian Science Monitor


Astounding! Just a couple months ago the bar for what weapon of mass destruction you could make by shopping at Home Depot was set at a subway cyanide bomb in Mubtakkar of Death.

If you're a regular reader, now you know the assessment of what can be done at the hardware store has just been revised upward to the crafting of an atomic bomb. Just add enriched uranium because, you know: "It's easy for terrorists."

In an America that suffered intelligence-insulting fools less gladly . . .

Thursday, September 14, 2006

LEANNE KINGWELL: AUSTRALIAN FOR 'ROCK!' -- Plus some tipological listologic from the Gooze

Looks good in black and sang a couple dirty words for the camera, too

That's Leanne Kingwell, on Australian ROVE Live TV, in primetime a couple days back, DD was informed. Kingwell, hailing from Kilda, which I think is a bit like Venice in SoCal, except with the seasons reversed, was recommended in "So you have bad taste." [Excerpts from the show on YouTube, here.]

And the title was a joke on the phenom of New Times firing the Village Voice's music editor over "matters of taste."

But back to Kingwell's album, Show Ya What, on her own Krill rekkids:

"Show Ya What" has many choices for singles. Leanne goes to hell where she wrote a book in "Look At My Life" and pistol whips her cheating ex in "Holding Your Gun." She loses a beau to swinging Tommy James and the Shondells chords in "So Long" and bawls emotion as a relationship crashes in "Blind," the latter with bonus tear-jerking organ by Chris Copping of Procol Harum who did it all for a bottle of red wine.

On the back of words like these, plus reviews from others from the Voice who thought she was very keen, Kingwell garnered college radio airplay in the US. And subsequent to that, interest picked up in Australia, resulting in a new distribution deal for the album and the appearance on ROVE live.

And you can find the album of which I speak plus lots more, here. Now, if she'll send a burned DVD o' that . . .



Plus, the Gooze checks in with his "Greatest Albums of All Time," parts 1 and 2.

It's seventy to eighty percent of what I'd pick for select hard rock from the 70's and 80's. For my spin, you need a little more Texas. (See Point Blank. )

And selections from it were pickings for the "Sludge in the 70's" college radio show at WLVR-FM at Lehigh University, about twenty years back.

Turbonegro, however, were not worth the dust the wind might blow in their faces, as opined here and here.

I also would've pushed Status Quo Live and Slade Alive! into the Top 50.

Gooze -- delete the spammer at the foot of column one.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

SCIENCE STORIES THAT GIVE THEM ERECTIONS: From the famous glossy comic book, Wired

When not doing groupie-like hagiography of the alleged geniuses of the tech world, Wired comic book also has had a long fascination with stories of exotic weapons, usually the kind that are always coming, just a year away, just a minute, then -- pfoof!

Premature ejaculation.

Reset the clock: This awesome weapon/computer/gadget, from American scientists is going to revolutionize warfare, and it's a half decade away, a couple years away, it's in your backyard, and it's starting to get hard . . .

The following flew into the DD mailbox, from Science Projects That Scare the [blank] Out of Us.

Lo:




Nanobomb
By manipulating the properties of metals on the nanoscale, Defense and Energy Department scientists are figuring out how to make faster and more energetic explosions. The goal? Compact weapons that pack several times the detonative force of even the MOAB (mother of all bombs). Next up: a briefcase nanonuke.

Ionosphere Heater
Here's an idea: Build an array of 180 antennas in Alaska to beam radio waves at the ionosphere – the upper layer of Earth's atmosphere – creating an electric field that interacts with charged particles. Operated by the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, this disruption can raise the temperature of the ionosphere by as much as 30 percent over a 9- to 40-kilometer radius. It's targeted global warming.

Pain Gun
Scientists with the US military are working on an electromagnetic pulse weapon that induces the sensation of pain from a distance. Ultimately, they hope to fine-tune the pulses to control muscles as well. Fantastic: a gun that turns people into puppets writhing in a theater of misery.

All of them, around for years.

Nanobomb is a jargon take on the hafnium bomb and its ilk. And Sharon Weinberger's excellent "Imaginary Weapons" gives it the examination it deserves.

As for "atmospheric heater," just Google "HAARP" and be astonished at all the conspiracy talk going back a decade or more.

The "pain gun"is another long-in-the-tooth wonder weapon.

Known as the V-MADS, or the Sheriff, it has shown up in stories for years in which journalists get invited out to Albuquerque to be burned by an inside-out microwave in the equivalent of a strapped-down chicken test. Ouch, they say. (The alert reader may note DD had no interest in being burned by a military microwave oven. I cook food with it. It makes things hot! Remarkable!)

Idealized pictures of it show a huge broadcast antenna mounted on a shed, or a Hummer. As GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow, I have a "science paper" authored by the military that purports to show it was effectively tested on US soldiers to see if it could make them howl and squirm out of the way. (Think of it as many strapped-down chicken tests.)

The Defense Department, a few years in the past, once ludicrously called the thing "the biggest breakthrough in weapons technology since the atomic bomb."

And it will be shipped to Iraq for crowd control! Only it never quite happens, the Sheriff never quite comes to town. Perhaps because Iraq is a little beyond "crowd control" and it would last about thirty seconds against a machine gun and rifle-propelled grenade armed rabble.






The theory driving the Sheriff is that it is "non-lethal," an alternative to gunning down an assembly. Although not entirely reflected in news on the subject, the "non-lethal" crowd of inventors in the military isn't highly regarded, many perceiving their projects as simply abuse of science in the development of machines that either don't work or which are for torturing people.

On the 12th, Reuters published a story in which an Air Force man described the dilemma in unusually frank language:

The United States should test nonlethal weapons it has developed for crowd control or police actions at home before using them for military purposes overseas, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said said on Sept. 1 2.

"We need to start using that here in the United States on Americans," Wynne told reporters. "If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation."

He said use of nonlethal weapons such as high-powered microwaves in wartime situations could lead to loud protests by those targeted about injuries or health effects.

"If I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claimed that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think I would be vilified in the world press," Wynne said.

The article, which essentially addressed the Sheriff system, also mentioned the Air Force was still reviewing its health effects. Since the USAF has been reviewing the Sheriff's "health effects" for a number of years, one might interpret this as codespeak for "we're trying to figure out a way to rid ourselves of it."

DD blog applauds Wynne's statements. The world press would be ready to villify the use of it --and was.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the producers and crew of a German TV program came to interview DD, as GlobalSecurity Senior Fellow, over unusual weapons that might be used in the war. One of their questions was: Are you going to use a death ray?

Although it's not a death ray, the military's microwaver was, even then, perceived as one. I believe the military would agree it would be tough to spin the employment of a death ray.

So, I think the army should be compelled to proceed at once with deployment and use in the United States, perhaps at peace demonstrations. Lease the Sheriff to the police or a special detachment of non-lethal Truppen from the Dept. of Homeland Security. Enough with the years of dithering.

This would serve a number of purposes.

It would reveal whether the Sheriff works at all in the real world. And it would immediately set a platoon of lawyers loose on the military, with suits from people who'd been injured by it -- whether in a way the military argues is intended or not -- burned in an unusual way and/or crushed in the stampede of a crowd. It would also mean the quick and deserving end of the careers of those who designed and deployed it.

Nasty? Not really. None of this is going to happen. The military has enough smart people to argue the same points. Litigation, career destruction, horrendous publicity. The lands-of-foreign-dictators market, where people can only throw rocks, might be an option though.
PIN THE TALE ON THE ZARQAWI: The favorite game of journalists who don't like reading intelligence reports

"9/11 -- The Movie -- And the Cynical Tragedy of Zarqawi" whined Rolling Stone's National Affairs Daily on the 11th.

What did the ABC's "Path to 9/11" have to do with al Zarqawi? Nothing, as far as I could tell and I sat through all but the last five or ten minutes of it.

For Rolling Stone, it was just a lead-in for what reporter Tim Dickinson really wanted to address. Bush didn't bomb al Zarqawi when he had a chance!

Although the Senate intelligence report, released last Friday, contained much ammunition to add to the assault on the administration, the music magazine's journalist, who maybe didn't bother to read it, instead resorted to a story that was wretched in 2004.

What it boils down to is this: Saddam didn't have weapons of mass destruction, but Zarqawi did! And Bush wouldn't launch missiles at him!

One news story in 2004 is the touchstone for the mythology.

Everyone who wants to bash the Bush administration over the head on al Zarqawi links to it: Jim Miklaszewski's "Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind," here.

A brief one source item, the meat of it from Richard Clarke associate Roger Cressey, it is written around the premise that Zarqawi was making poisons -- weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration, it was said, was presented with intelligence on this, and failed to act because it was more "obsessed" with Hussein.

" . . . intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin for attacks in Europe," reads the NBC piece.

If you try this convenient DD blog-approved search string, the Miklaszewski article is at the apex, the font from which all mythology on the matter must flow.

In April of this year, before the US military offed the terrorist, Harry Reid issued a press release clubbing the Bush administration over it.

" . . . intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe," read Reid's release, reiterating from Miklaszewski.

"In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq."

Except it's not true. As GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow, DD has gone over the subject repeatedly. I was a consultant to the so-called "ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq" trial.

The linkage Colin Powell made between al Zarqawi, an alleged detained al Qaeda man, and a "UK poison cell" did not exist. It's detailed most recently, here.

Historically, it was destroyed in 2005 by the verdicts and results from the actual trial of the UK poison cell.

In the trial, prosecutors desperately tried to link a group of Algerians associated with a loner named Kamel Bourgass to al Qaeda. And they failed. A jury found everyone but Bourgass not guilty. A subsequent prosecution set to run and predicated upon favorable results from the first then collapsed.

No ricin was found at Wood Green, the haunts of the alleged poison ring. Early news from the site had indicated a ricin positive but a scientist from Britain's biodefense laboratory, Porton Down, found it to be a false positive soon after, a fact that was never actually conveyed to the media.

What was present? Only a jewelry tin of castor seeds. And this did not emerge until the end of the trial in 2005.

There was no link to al Zarqawi. There was Kamel Bourgass, a loner, convicted of the charge of conspiracy to create a nuisance with poisons and explosives, and guilty of murdering of a police officer, during his arrest.

DD blog contacted Reid's office over the press release and asked about the material. All a Reid staffer could do was point lamely to the NBC news piece.

Did Reid's office know the results of the London ricin trial? Did it know no ricin had been found in London, just a lame handful of castor seeds? No, of course not! Staffers couldn't talk about that. It contradicted the attack plan.

But US journalists, politicians and bloggers love to keep coming back to the myth of Zarqawi and poison plots in Britain or Europe.

Perhaps it is because they never actually covered the London ricin trial in any significant way, or because the material is very complicated. To try and evaluate it requires drawing together different sources of hard intelligence and evidence presented in a terror trial -- not just reading whatever comes up first in Google and judging its worth by how many people requote from it.

And it doesn't lend itself to simple assertions and pleasing terror stories, like theirs and Colin Powell's, that the now dead terrorist was a poison spider sitting in a web in northern Iraq, obviously pulling strings to launch attacks in Europe.

But back to Rolling Stone.

Dickinson quotes from another alleged grail, Michael Scheuer, from a single newspaper article in Australia.

“Mr Bush had Zarqawi in his sights almost every day for a year before the invasion of Iraq and he didn’t shoot… Almost every day we sent a package to the White House that had overhead imagery of the house he was staying in. It was a terrorist training camp … experimenting with ricin and anthrax … any collateral damage there would have been terrorists.”


That Zarqawi was experimenting with "anthrax" is also an interesting claim. The comprehensive report from the Iraq Survey Group, a better source than a short newspaper article, found no anthrax anywhere in Iraq. But it's a long and heavy treatise so perhaps this is why many journalists and bloggers, who quote from the Scheuer-talking-to-an-Australian-newspaper piece, prefer the latter.

Hard evidence on Zarqawi's production of alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as opposed to short bits of journalism and opinion on the subject, is extremely thin. For example, "overhead imagery" can't tell you whether anthrax, ricin or Boone's Farm are being made at any compound. And as for newspaper reports on production of biological and chemical weapons in Iraq, one name suggests why, as a practice, they should not often be taken too seriously: Judith Miller.

In any case, the first section of the Roberts/Kennedy report on Iraq intelligence returned to the matter of al Qaida's alleged training and development in chemical and biological weapons. DD blog discussed it last week and republishes pertinent snapshots from the documents.



The relevant quotes: "A variety of reporting led CIA analysts to believe that al Qaeda maintained a toxins laboratory in Sargat . . . Abu Taisir [who was associated with Zarqawi in Iraq in Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council] reported was preparing contact poisons and ingestible compounds consistent with cyanide and possibly ricin."

At this point, while provocative, the intelligence is not firm. "[V]ariety of reporting" is simply not conclusive in the milieu of Iraq prior to the US invasion, particularly in the absence of hard physical evidence and the now known unreliability of sources.

The report continues " . . . there was no evidence explicitly linking the facility to the production of toxic substances." (Note: INR is an acronym for the State Department's intel operation.)

However, when the US invasion destroyed the Hussein government, it was possible for a variety of teams, like the Iraq Survey Group and others, to enter the country and search areas of interest for evidence of chemical and biological weapons.

In this case, "The DIA reported that the exploitation of the Sargat site revealed the presence of cyanide salts, which seems to confirm suspicions of work on cyanide-based poisons . . . "

No evidence of ricin production by Zarqawi is included in the report. And while the presence of cyanide salts is potentially troublesome, it is not remarkable. Grasping the elements of cyanide production is not indicative of any special capability in chemical weaponry, particularly when contrasted with the reality on the ground in Iraq. Where the weapon of choice is improvised explosives.

In fact, no chemical or biological attacks have as yet been reported in Iraq.




Interesting review in the Los Angeles Times Calendar section today of Frank Rich's book, "The Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina."

Reviewer Tim Rutten lauds the book. And he makes an enticing argument for something DD blog might like to read. But the message seems to be that "truthy" stories replaced "truth" following 9/11, and that it was primarily the active business of the Bush administration and its advisors and fuglemen in the newsmedia.

Naturally, there seems to be -- hah-hah -- quite a lot of truth to the assertion.

But today's blog shows there's a certain percentage of those on the other side of the political fence who also have no problem with "truthy" stories.

And it's by no means a recent phenomenon. The Cardiff Giant lives. It is a "peculiarly American superstition that the correctness of a belief is decided by the number of the people who can be induced to adopt it."

Monday, September 11, 2006

LA TIMES TERROR BEAT AND ANNIVERSARY WING-DING: Details, details

Like every newspaper, the Los Angeles Times has been in overdrive on terror stories tied to the 9/11 anniversary. At the newspaper, as at the rest, they tend to be the same -- monotonous mullings over whether we are or we aren't safe. The conclusion is phoned in ahead of time, you don't have to read to the end to get it. It's always, "No, we aren't safe."

A very limited variety of experts are brought in to be the chocolate jimmies on top of the cupcake of terror assessment. They all say the same thing. "Nope, ain't safe yet."

And then comes the long harangue on how the terrorists are one step ahead, the terrorists can do this and that in various flavors of easy, there hasn't been enough money spent, and there's not enough gadgetry installed.

The Times was firing on all six for today's "Danger Abides at L.A. Ports." In an accompanying story -- "In LA, 'You Can't Protect Everything'' with the qualifying subhed, "The region is safer today, but new security measures might not be enough," readers got the dimestore alarmist, a former official from the California Office of Homeland Security.

The menace is apparently nearly demonical and omnipresent: "I don't want to be an alarmist (yes, right), but I think the scheme of threats out there now is of a proportion that we have not even begun to fathom."

Of a proportion we have not even begun to fathom!!! Well, then the alert reader might ask, what was the point in asking? Just stock up on lime and bodybags.

As Senior Fellow at GlobalSecurity.Org and on this blog, DD has worked its way through the turgid mess of American doomsday threat assessment, the journalism on it, and the "quote" from experts that is always delivered hot and fresh.

And it's all been said. Many times over.

Reading it is a little like being strapped in the chair in the movie, "The Marathon Man," in which the Nazi dentist, Dr. Zell, is working your teeth over with his sharpened pick. Only this time, Zell is saying "We're not safe, we're not safe!" instead of "Is it safe?"

And he doesn't care if you furnish an answer. There will be no oil of clove.

For examples of the intellectual mind rot, here -- on the day after the 9/11 2005 anniversary, and here, in "Army of Fearmongers."

On Sunday, remarkbly, stuffed way down inside the Times' keystone frontpage terror piece:

"Indeed, some national security experts -- like John Mueller of Ohio State University -- argue that the terrorist threat has been overblown and that a terrorist industry of consultants, government contractors and politicians is hyping the problem out of self-interest."

So, paradoxically, in today's "Danger Abides . . . ", up pops Stephen Flynn, "consultant and expert on port security."

". . . are we keeping pace with terrorist capabilities and the potential consequences five years after 9/11? The answer is no."

Of course that is Flynn's answer. It always is. Here is his bio, from Congressional testimony on the terror menace to unprotected chemical plants back in 2005.


America the Vulnerable. America -- Still Unprepared -- Still in Danger. Yes, yes, we get the message.

Keep in mind Flynn has no experience in chemistry or the chemical industry, but there he was, putting in his two cents, as part of the threat-announcing national security apparatus/industry.

Dick Destiny blog dealt with this issue during the summer in its examination of Richard Falkenrath, another national security apparatchik.

But with regards to port security, Flynn was in the Coast Guard.

And he was also on the front page of the New York Times one Sunday back in June in a story entitled: "US Homeland Security, Inc."

Wrote Eric Lipton:

When the storm erupted several months ago over plans by a United Arab Emirates-based company to take over management of a half-dozen American port terminals, one voice resonated in Washington.

Stephen E. Flynn, a retired Coast Guard commander who is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, repeatedly told lawmakers and reporters that domestic ports were so vulnerable that terrorists could easily sneak a radioactive device into something as innocuous as a shipment of sneakers. And he offered a solution: a cargo inspection system in Hong Kong that scans every container, instead of the fraction now checked in the United States.

"The top priority should be working with the overseas terminal operators and putting in place a system that is being piloted in Hong Kong," Mr. Flynn told a House panel in March. "We have to view every container as a Trojan horse."

Homeland Security Department officials and lawmakers had been aware of the innovative port security approach in Hong Kong, but they had been reluctant to embrace it, convinced that screening every container at a port would be impractical. Mr. Flynn's forceful advocacy has changed that view.

But as Democrats and Republicans rushed to act on his advice, one fact usually remained in the background: From 2003 until 2005, he was a paid consultant to the Science Applications International Corporation, or S.A.I.C., the San Diego company that manufactured the system . . .

In one Congressional appearance this year, Mr. Flynn had acknowledged some involvement in the Hong Kong project, saying, "I've been a leader of the side putting it together." Four publications this year also mentioned his ties to the company.

But in most of his public comments this year — in at least three television interviews, two other appearances before Congress, opinion pieces in The New York Times and Far Eastern Economic Review and in nearly two dozen newspaper or magazine articles — Mr. Flynn's connection to S.A.I.C. was not noted.



"A key vulnerability, Flynn and others say, remains . . . the cargo container, the mainstay of international commerce and a potential Trojan horse in the age of terrorism," wrote The Los Angeles Times today.

"Shipping industry representatives and maritime safety experts say that some of the problems might be overcome if a pilot program in the port of Hong Kong, the world's busiest harbor, is successful . . . There, a system designed by Science Applications International Corp. in San Diego X-rays containers, notes their identification numbers and scans them for radiation . . . " it continued.

The LA Times did not mention Flynn's connection with Science Applications.

Moving along, DD blog again comes to Rand's Brian Jenkins, another terror expert.

Last week, the Times unfurled a terror readiness exercise prepared by Jenkins. And promptly confused the alleged terror weapons chosen for it, anthrax and ricin.

DD blog was interested in nailing down where the error came from, so it went digging around in the writings of Jenkins and came across his new book, published by Rand, entitled "Unconquerable Nation."

As well as hardcover and softcover, it's available as a free .pdf on Rand's website. Just Google the title.

Reading it, DD blog came across:


And there you have it. Anthrax is not a derivative substance.

However, while Jenkins is not so hot on chemical and biological weapons, the book is an engaging read. He writes in an impassioned voice that torture must be out if we're serious about being the good guys.

"Torture can never be legal," Jenkins writes. "American values are not luxuries."

Jenkins also discusses the mechanisms of "vulnerability-based assessments," which is how the US national security industry now conducts business, and which has led to many of the things excoriated on this blog.

"What begins as hypothetically possible evolves into a scenario that is probable, which then somehow becomes inevitable, and by the bottom of the page is imminent . . . this encourages threat advocacy in which individuals, propelled by professional knowledge . . . champion specific threat scenarios.

"Threat advocacy is not threat mongering . . . "

Yes it is, most of the time. The monograph is thought-provoking but we'll have to disagree with that bit for now.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

THE TORTURED DEBATE ON TORTURE: More readings, for purposes of intellectual and moral clarity, needed

How grim is it when five years after 9/11 the United States still can't make up its group mind that carrying a reputation as a torturer is a bad thing?

That's the only conclusion Dick Destiny blog came to last week while reading the fop's proclamation from George W. Bush that Americans don't torture juxtaposed againt the Senate intel report that they do, here. (It must have almost killed Pat Roberts to sign off on it.)

And what was the product of this particular torture session? A confession that was later recanted and exposed as trash, a product of total corruption, but one that was convenient to use as an argument for war.

It sucks the breath out of anyone reading it!

Or, in the New York Times today: "At times, Mr. Zubaydah, still weak from his wounds, was stripped and placed in a cell without a bunk or blankets. He stood or lay on the bare floor, sometimes with air-conditioning adjusted so that . . . [he] seemed to turn blue."

The New York Times article goes on to voice arguments for and against the torture, with the CIA on the pro side and the FBI, the con. Allegedly, useful information was extracted.

This is debatable and the reader is left to ponder, for example, if there was any benefit at all to being told Jose Padilla, the wanna-be dirty bomber, was an incompetent boob.

News stories which ran nationwide after Padilla's arrest made it reasonably clear he was little but a criminal numbnuts, through simple examination of his life, without having to learn it by torturing "Mr. Zubaydah."

The New York Times wrote Padilla was "ignorant of nuclear physics and believed he could separate plutonium from nuclear material by rapidly [swinging it] over his head in a bucket . . . "

Wow!

Or, one could read in the Columbia Journalism Review, the same week, as DD did:



The files, the [New York] Times reported on May 20, 2005, offered “ample testimony that harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity.” The beatings and other interrogation tactics — prisoners deprived of sleep, threatened with dogs, and sexually humiliated — were later used at Abu Ghraib. Dilawar, who officials later acknowledged was innocent, had been repeatedly hit with a “common peroneal strike” — a blow just above the knee. The result, a coroner later testified, was that his legs had “basically been pulpified.”

Faced with such a collection, it becomes impossible for a logical person to do anything but gag when reviewing a Whitehouse press release which quotes from the alleged "al Qaeda manual's" chapter entitled "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages."

Written of by this blog last week, it contains much more of general interest than the obvious that it's the most bankrupt of hypocrisies to quote from as a reason for why we fight the enemy.

Certainly it is an embarrassment worthy, not something to flaunt, when there is plenty of news around indicating that Americans have their own manuals -- perhaps much superior -- for administering beatings to hostages.

The thin Manchester manual, which is not an al Qaeda manual (the group's name is never mentioned in it), is thought to have been put together prior to the birth of our present foe.

It's easy to read on Cryptome because it is brief. Perhaps that it why it was so attractive to George W. Bush or his staffers. If that was the case, they outsmarted themselves.

The Bush administration's version is incomplete. This is explained "because [the US government] does not want to aid in educating terrorists or encourage further acts of terrorism."

But everything is not as it seems.

Left out of the US government's edited version of the Manchester manual -- but viewable in the Cryptome copy -- is a section on torture. It is not a section on how to torture, but one that tells its readers what they might face if they are incarcerated in a Middle Eastern jail.

For example:



Also worth a gander, after reading the New York Times article on the abuse of "Mr. Zubaydah," this bit, from the same section.


And this one:

The Manchester manual, this part out of it edited out by our government, also includes the statement that its readers should take these methods seriously because they were compiled from stories of prisoners in the jails of Middle Eastern countries.

The United States isn't mentioned. One might reasonably think this was because it was a long way off from being regularly thought of as in the business of torturing captives.

See here:

What grand company to be keeping! What grand traditions to be extending!
REGULAR IRREGULAR PURE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS: Hot topic round-up

This week's flypaper for the best and the brightest is slightly more cheering than the last two. That is, excluding most of the usual requests on how to make cyanide bombs, nail polish bombs, bombs from campfire tablets and reprints from the poisoning handbooks of Maxwell Hutchinson and Abdel-Aziz.

military studies in the jihad against the tyrants -- George W. Bush's Moldy Oldy

jim newton los angeles times -- journalist Googling himself, finds evidence of his shoddy work.

how to make an explosive with household items -- Daily Anti-terror gadgeteers and their remedies stories from around the media.

cbs's supernova -- Zayra's crazy girl shtick wasn't good enough to save her.

not craw claw -- Flypaper for fans of Get Smart's "The Amazing Harry Hoo." Perhaps they find this annoying. Ha-Ha.

richard falkenrath nypd terrorist -- The telegenic anti-terror man.

telephone interview cia hiring process -- Every week, someone fresh and new wants to work at the CIA. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be doing anyone any good.

the dixie chicks press agent The Dixie Chicks "live" on Larry King.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

MORE UGLY DETAILS FROM SENATE REPORT ON IRAQ/AL QAEDA CHEM-BIO WEAPONS COLLABORATION: Torture extracted a 'confession'

Friday's report from the Senate's Select Intelligence Committee on Iraq, al Qaeda and assessments of collaboration and production of WMDs has already been much discussed in the news.

But one section of it deals indirectly with materials presented by Colin Powell during his presentation to the UN Security Council.

In that presentation, Powell connected al Zarqawi in the north of Iraq to a "UK poison cell" alleged to have been making ricin for attacks in Britain. Eventually, the verdicts and evidence from the trial in April of 2005, reported first at GlobalSecurity.Org here, destroyed the entire argument.

The Senate's report adds some cement to what was already known, most importantly reiterating that a source of information in the Powell presentation of the Bush administration's claims, was tortured into a confession. A confession he later recanted and which the Senate report accepts as valueless.

This information was presented by Powell and the Bush administration as a linkage between al Qaeda in Iraq, the Hussein regime and export of a terrorism plot to England.

The sources name was Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, portrayed as the alleged "Detained al Qa'ida Operative" in one of Powell's UN slides, pictured below.


The "UK poison cell" did not exist. Only a loner, Kamel Bourgass, had a handful of castor seeds and a raft of silly recipes for poison-making, copied into handwritten notes from information sequestered on American computer servers.

The first section of the Senate's report doesn't get into this but it does extensively address al-Libi's "confession," one that purported to yield provocative information on al Qaeda's training/development of chemical and biologicial weapons in Iraq.

All of this was trash, indicates the report. al-Liby made it up, first after being told by Americans that he would be handed over to a foreign country where they could torture him, and later in the foreign country where, in fact, he was tortured. In fact, he made up that he was an agent of al Qaeda.

The nut of it is in the pages below:



It is damning material and a national disgrace, among many others. The pages make it perfectly clear that a "confession" extracted under torture, torture al-Liby's US captors knew he was going to face, was used as evidence to make an argument for going to war in Iraq.

Other materials from the report address what was and is known about al Zarqawi and his alleged production of chemical and biological poisons -- ricin featuring prominently in the "lore" about his camp in Sargat, northern Iraq.

Testimony and physical evidence remains very thin -- not at all up to the legend surrounding the man. It in no way supports the breathless claims on ricin production made by an NBC Pentagon correspondent in 2004, as fed to the reporter by an associate of Richard Clarke.

It was only after the war that a Defense Intelligence Agency inspection team discovered only evidence of "cyanide salts" at Sargat. This "seems to confirm suspicions of work on cyanide . . . " reads the report.

In terms of production of chemical weapons, the recovery or discovery of such is not particularly remarkable and reveals no special capability or training. And in light of how things have gone in Iraq during the intervening years -- no chemical attacks, but no shortage of daily bombings -- it is even less notable.

Friday, September 08, 2006

RESTRICTED INTERROGATION TECHNIQUE: Detail lacking, sleep deprivation OK, duct tape no longer OK

"The Department of Defense, having concluded that its interests would be best served by public disclosure, released a new directive on policy towards enemy detainees and a new Army Field Manual on detainee interrogation," wrote Steven Aftergood in the Federation of American Scientist's Secrecy blog yesterday.

"The new detainee policy explicitly bars 'cruel, inhumane and degrading' treatment of detainees who are in Defense Department custody and defines a minimum standard of humane care. The new Field Manual identifies 19 interrogation techniques that may be used, three of which are new, and prohibits others."

Aftergood posted the manual on FAS and it can be downloaded by following this link.

In many ways the manual goes into great detail on permitted modes of questioning -- including description of a Good Cop/Bad Cop routine which the Army calls "Mutt and Jeff."

The Army's transparency in much of this is to be applauded, as well as its willingness to leave the material unclassified.

However, the Army field manual on permissible interrogation is a large document. And while it is, for the most part, clear reading -- it is not easy or light. It is filled with jargon and procedural detail and that is proper for its purpose.

Except for one chapter/appendix at the very end.

The chapter in question purports to describe a "restricted" method of softening up detainees -- prisoners -- for questioning. The method is called "separation" and although there is a wealth of detail on the permissions and paperwork that must be filled out along the chain of command to get OK for the use of it, in stark contrast to the description of methods of questioning in the rest of the manual, there is little detail on what "separation" is.

This raises warning flags, for reasons which are clear in the following excerpts:


The above language appears to leave open the door for getting the United States into the same kind of trouble that has led to the outcry over secret prisons and squishy classification of those captured and subsequently claimed to be outside the protections from torture afforded by the Geneva Convention. Others, of course, may see it differently.


In the above graph, the Army frankly -- and in clear language -- recognizes the negative impact of torture and being perceived as torturers, even if the practice is no longer allegedly condoned. Note call for presence of medical personnel for action in emergencies. The chapter on "separation" in the manual includes multiple citations of the need for medical personnel.


This appears to be carefully and responsibly reasoned.


Here is the first -- in bold type -- of the red warning flags.

Remember, the Army --nowhere in the document -- describes in precise language the expanse of physical procedures allowable in "separation."


Here, the reader is given the outline of how long "separation" can be conducted on a prisoner without a break -- thirty days. Keep this in mind, it will be important.


From this, it can inferred that it used to be OK to duct tape the eyes of prisoners for long periods of time, perhaps as long as thirty days. Since it is now prohibited, it is left open to deduce for oneself what is now permissible, or not permissible, in shutting the eyes of prisoners for thirty days, in order to isolate them from their surroundings. Goggles and earmuffs are options.


The above sentence comes virtually at the very end of the Army's field manual.

And it obviously addresses sleep deprivation as part of "separation."

And it would seem logical to assume that many reasonable people, upon reading the chapter thoroughly, might come to the conclusion that allowing only four hours of continuous sleep for thirty days (with or without mandatory wear of goggles and earmuffs), among whatever other things are conducted in "separation," constitutes abuse, or inhumane treatment.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

BUSH DIGS UP MOLDY OLD MANUAL OF AFGHAN JIHAD: Tries to make it a reason for why we fight

How do you know when a leader is being deceptive about "al Qaeda" documents? His lips are moving. Another explanation, more benign, is that he's utterly clueless.

From Associated Press, today, in the story: "Bush reminds Americans U.S. is at war."

"Bush said that despite the absence of a successor on U.S. soil to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the terrorist danger remains potent," wrote AP.

"Bin laden and his terrorist's allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them," the president was said to have said before an organization called the Military Officers Association of America. "The question is `Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?'"

"Quoting extensively from letters, Web site statements, audio recording and videotapes purportedly from terrorists, as well as documents found in various raids, Bush said that al Qaida, homegrown terrorists and other groups have adapted to changing U.S. defenses . . . " continued the wire report.

"For example, Bush cited what he called "a grisly al Qaida manual" found in 2000 by British police during an anti-terrorist raid in London, which included a chapter called "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages."

Readers of my work from GlobalSecurity.Org and this blog know that when someone quotes from a "document" attributed to al Qaeda, it's time to review it. Because you either won't be getting the entire picture, or its historical context and provenance will be distorted in some interesting but politically expedient manner.

The 'grisly al Qaeda maual' is the same 'al Qaeda manual' that was posted to the US Department of Justice website years ago. It is more accurately known as the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" or "Military Studies in the Jihad [Holy War] Against the Tyrants." (Or simply the Manchester manual, from its place of confiscation.)

You can think of it as a moldy oldy, dragged out and banged about to shake loose the dust of fear when leaders need some to sprinkle on the polity.

From some of my older material on GlobalSecurity, here.


The "Manual of Afghan Jihad" was obtained in Manchester [not in London] in April 2000 by British anti-terrorism agents and subsequently turned over to the FBI's Nanette Schumaker later that month and contains sections on poisons. Its ricin recipe is clearly taken from [US authors] Hutchkinson and Saxon and although it is of similar nature to the recipe in the [Kamel] Bourgass trial, it is not identical.

. . . A further knock on the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" as an al Qaida source comes from its apparent origin in the first jihad against the Communist occupation of Afghanistan, prior to al Qaida. [Hint: Read the text carefully for date cues as well as references to Communists.] The "Manual of Afghan Jihad" was the property of Nazib al Raghie, also known as Anas Al Liby to the US government. At the time the manual was taken off al Raghie in Britain, UK authorities were apparently not that interested in him. Neither, apparently, was the FBI. And he was not arrested. These days, al Raghie, as Al Liby, is on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists.

An entire translation of the same manual and an image of its cover is on Cryptome, here.

During the London ricin trial, the defense considered the description of it as "the al Qaeda manual" a title manufactured by the U.S. government.

In any case, it has been widely sampled and distributed around the web -- and to journalists -- who cited it extensively in newspaper and magazine articles purporting to show al Qaeda capabilities in chemical and biological warfare.

For example:

Manual of Afghan Jihad 'poison' recipe

This entry, a piece of a larger fragment, was submitted to GlobalSecurity.Org last year by a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

The Times reporter was looking for an assessment and was told it was trash, originally from the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" where it had been pulled from American sources, much discussed at GlobalSecurity and later written of here and here.

When this assessment was heard, along with judgment on other alleged al Qaeda documents purported to showing similar capability, the story was abandoned.

The illustrative excerpt shows a standard and very old, naive fancy that botulism poisoning can be simply produced by putting some meat and crap in a can.

It originates from American sources, those associated with the neo-Nazi right and its samizdat literature. It is accompanied in the "Afghan Manual" by other idiotic recipes all pulled from the US books cited above.

The complete fragment of the manual, as submitted by the LA Times reporter: -- mistakenly labelled as an Al Qaeda document.

So whatever George W. Bush meant by using the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" as an example of the thoughts of evil men, he wasn't giving his audience the real picture.

The Afghan manual was seized during a British info-gathering raid in which its owner was not arrested. And it was not written by al Qaeda.

And some of what has been portrayed in it as "evil thought" originates from "evil thought" put to paper by ninnies from the extreme fringes of the US gun lobby, then published in how-to-make-mayhem books in the Eighties.

Presumably, this material was thought to be useful when Afghans were fighting the Communists. (Paradoxically, there is also material in it devoted to describing what to expect when imprisoned and facing torture at the hands of various authorities in Middle Eastern nations, but not the United States.)

Portions of the DOJ-mislabelled "Manual of Afghan Jihad" are still on Department of Justice servers.

For example, four parts, of which the third contains the section: "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages."

Manual of Afghan Jihad, Part1

Manual of Afghan Jihad, Part 2

Manual of Afghan Jihad, Part3

Manual of Afghan Jihad, Part4

However, it also seems the Department of Justice, perhaps out of bad publicity, no longer wishes the public to have easy access to it. Part of the manual is missing and the original place holder for the page is long gone. (The Cryptome version is an accurate duplication of the Manchester document.)

But getting back to the Associated Press on President Bush's speech:

"[Bush] also cited what he said was a captured al Qaida document found during a recent raid in Iraq," continued the report. "He said the document described plans to take over Iraq's western Anbar province and set up a governing structure including an education department, a social services department, a justice department, and an execution unit."

This may be true. And it also may be more complicated, with the so-called writings and documents better viewed independently by voters and scholars.

If one learns anything about the interpretation of terrorist documents by leaders and politicians, it is always to ask to see the originals.


Ripley's 'Believe It or Not' content from the Afghan Manual: Upon scanning "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages," it is found: "Religious scholars have permitted beating . . . In this tradition, we find permission to interrogate the hostage for obtaining information. It is permitted to strike the non-believer who has no covenant until he reveals the news, information and secrets of his people."

And, indeed, this is the material favored by George W. Bush.

Now, only the cynical would think of the didactic purpose inherent in substituting "administration lawyers," "secretary of defense" or "command staff" for "religious scholar." Right?

"Bowing to critics of its tough interrogation policies, the Pentagon is issuing a new Army field manual that provides Geneva Convention protections for all detainees and eliminates a secret list of interrogation tactics," wrote the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

"They will not apply to CIA interrogators working in [secret] prisons run by other countries, although under the McCain amendment those prisoners . . . cannot be tortured," it continues.

The Pentagon wanted to keep secret a second list of methods, informed the newspaper.

"But when State Dept. officials saw a draft of the manual earlier this year, they raised reservations . . . They expressed concern that even if the techniques were humane and lawful . . . other countries would assume the worst and insist that by maintaining a secret list , the United States must be allowing torture."

Be careful when considering both George W. Bush's citation of "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages" and US war-on-terror policies on interrogations, particularly with regards as to why we are so different in philosophies and ideas. Your head might explode.


Staffers at Whitehouse.gov linked to the Afghan Manual of Jihad, which they erroneously still insist on calling the "al Qaeda" manual.

Curiously, they do not link to it at the US Dept. of Justice, where it was originally put on-line. DOJ makes finding it difficult, so the Whitehouse links to a mirror at the Air Force's Air University.

"The Department is only providing the following selected text from the manual because it does not want to aid in educating terrorists or encourage further acts of terrorism," reads the mirror from when John Ashcroft was in charge.

The material on food poisoning above, foolish as it is, was part of the material edited out by the US government.

Monday, September 04, 2006

LOS ANGELES TIMES GETS INTO TERROR PREP BIZ: Screws up simple facts on front page

Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times and a local TV station distributed press releases announcing they'd conducted a terror simulation, one in which LA was attacked with anthrax and ricin. The press release stated the exercise had been developed by Rand Corporation's Brian Jenkins, a terror expert. Local government functionaries were also involved and the game exercise was conducted at the Times one day in late August.

Today, the results appeared on the front page, entitled "Hypothetical Terrorists Put Regional Officials to Test," written by Jim Newton.
Hmmm, this anthrax chemical sure sounds bad!
". . . a routine fire probe rapidly spun into an international investigation, uncovering a terrorist weapons lab in Mexico and a plan to douse the nation's second largest city with anthrax and ricin," wrote the newspaper. "By the 40th day of the crisis, panic-stricken residents were flooding area hospitals, which buckled under the strain and then reeled as terrorists targeted them as well, poisoning emergency rooms with the same deadly chemicals."

Whack! Full stop. Anthrax isn't a chemical. Bacillus anthracis is a spore-forming bacterium and it causes disease. Remember Amerithrax?

The Los Angeles Times mixes this simple fact up throughout the story, conflating anthrax with the plant protein, ricin, as if the two are apples and pears to be easily mixed in a terror bag.
That anthrax chemical is nasty stuff.
"Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert with the Rand Corp. who designed the complex and guided the group through it . . . " continued the newspaper.

At which point, the informed reader might ask: Did the expert not make clear the differing nature of the two alleged terror weapons? And if he didn't and the mistake is shared, why should anyone take seriously an exercise based on bad information?

"Rushing to investigate, Americans and Mexican officials took suspects into custody. Under questioning, they revealed they had been paid by Middle Eastern contacts, one known only as 'jefe' to manufacture chemicals. Authorities concluded that 4 pounds of ricin and 10 to 20 grams of anthrax were unaccounted for, as were four dispersal machines, resembling leaf blowers. How serious were these chemicals? Two workers at the ranch where they were being made became ill and died."

At this point, DD blog, with GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow T-shirt on, threw up his hands.

When one of the biggest and most important newspapers in the country, one that has gone to the trouble to bring in a raft of "experts" to game a terror attack excercise, gets even the simplest of facts wrong, it deserves a rebuke.

Listen up big newspaper and Rand expert, ricin and anthrax aren't the same thing. They aren't like two different types of candy that can be made at a candy factory. They aren't even apples and oranges.

One, anthrax, is alive. It's produced by culturing and bacterial fermentation. Ricin is a toxic plant protein, an enzyme. It is not alive. It is contained in small amounts in castor seeds and it must be separated from the mixture contained in the seed by biochemical purification. They take two different sets of skills, equipment, procedures and knowledge to "produce."

Since they are so different, who gave you the idea that one could mix them like ethanol and gasoline? It doesn't even make faint intuitive sense. And no terrorists have ever mixed the two. If the newspaper was informed this has "been built upon the actions of real terrorists elsewhere," it was told wrong.

At National Security Notes on GlobalSecurity.Org and in this blog, readers know I've spend a lot of time digging into the details of bio and chemical attack. And some of the work has been on
documenting how terrorist capability in this domain is distorted or simply made up for consumption in misguided threat assessment exercises. Such activities are then passed off as public services in the name of national security, work superficially aimed at raising awareness and bolstering preparedness. For notorious examples, see here.

It's disappointing, then, when you see it in the newspaper you subscribe to.

"Funding for this event was provided by the Times' 125th anniversary fund," writes the newspaper, in a sidebar at the end. Dudes, ask for your money back.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

CONTINUED OUTPOURING OF PURE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS: Labor Day weekend round-up

Like virtual flypaper for the best and brightness, selected stories continue to reveal true motivations. All of this is sent straight off to the FBI, of course.

botulism super milk -- Annals of Terrorism

gamma ray blast disaster -- Apocalypse Inevitable

the mujahadeen poisons handbook 1996 abdel-aziz -- Horse-dropping or cow-dropping?

1970's hard rock lexicon -- Actually, this is definitely the place.

+cia +analyst +employment +qualifications -- Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Hiring at the CIA.

three chicks one dick -- Ha-ha! That's me! The Dixie rebels who shared a tourbus toilet Or Natalie and friends Googling themselves.

iranian leader kill five million israel nuclear -- The Daily Fallout

modern elamites -- More Daily Fallout

dhs for official use only -- Department of Homeland Security Googling for leaks.

drano bomb -- Oh, you kids.

best end of summer songs -- Big hard rock end o' summer rundown.

Friday, September 01, 2006

THE DAILY FALLOUT: A series of apocalyptic fun and comment, taken from the news

Most have no idea how many people seem to enjoy anticipating the great bomb sling.

Consider it a spittle foam of craziness spattering from the US group mind.

No doubt readers do not recall that the Washington Post did a poll in the run-up to the Iraq war in which a majority of Americans were revealed to think that Saddam should be nuked. How times change! Now we want to leave! Fickle, fickle, fickle!

One thing is certain: If and when it comes, the great bomb sling will be a source of terror war infotainment, an opportunity for experts, philosophers and miscellaneous talking heads to get their shots in on TV (and in print). At least, until there's a near miss on them.

[Fine art at left from one old paperback edition of the novel, "Fail-Safe."




Dick Destiny, with GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow T-shirt on, Official Public Service Announcement!

At left, what a 12-20 kiloton atomic shot over Manhattan might look like. Pretty nasty! Could spoil your morning. But wait, it gets better.















The adjacent image is a 10-megaton thermonuclear shot, a hydrogen bomb, obliterating all five boroughs.

Which would you choose? Well, that's easy! I'll take the first, please!

The good news is our potential foes are not going to be capable of 10-megaton Sunday punches unless the Russkis give them one. So if you were counting on the first one, you can still slightly rationalize wasting time on Reallyready.org.

[Source -- Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb.]


Robert Spencer agrees with the analyst Reuven Paz that Ahmadinejad is attempting to "hotwire" the apocalypse. I'm just not convinced of that, perhaps because my research focuses on Sunni movements which, historically, have not ascribed to the doctrine that "destroying the world might be the prerequisite for making it right." From what I can gather in Arabic books and websites, the Sunni world at least is already convinced the ummah (Islamic community) is already at its absolute historical nadir--so there's no need to increase the oppression of Muslims.

What I am more concerned about is the possibility that Sunni and Shi`i views of the dire straits of the ummah, and the need for the Mahdi/UnHidden Imam to appear, will increasingly converge such that sizable factions of each branch of Islam would be willing to accept a charismatic leader as the Mahdi. And since I'm convinced that Usama bin Ladin, the most charismatic leader in the Islamic world (still outshining Nasrallah), is in Iran being protected by the ayatollahs, there is a very real possibility that UBL could emerge in the near future as the "ecumenical" leader of the jihadist world, both Sunni and Shi`i. And if Tehran has nuclear weapons by then....

FP: Osama in Iran? Yes I have seen some evidence suggesting that. A truly frightening thought of the combination here . . .

Ahmadinejad's Apocalypse


An apocalypse multiple-choice quiz.

This possibility is ever more frightening because we are now dealing with tribal factions, wild-eyed religious sects and rogue nations at a time when America's battered global image is at its nadir. So, fellow citizens, here is the ultimate multiple-choice question we must address: America will suffer a nuclear attack on its own soil A: Within five years. B: Within 10 years. C: Within 20 years. D: Never.

For the answer, go to the Indianapolis Star.






In one scenario — a nuclear blast in lower Manhattan — an estimated 52,000 people would be killed immediately and another 10,000 would receive lethal doses of radiation. But the fate of an estimated 200,000 people downwind from the blast — up to 48 kilometres away with a wind speed of 16 km/h — depends on the government's planning, Helfand said.

Those people "might live if we have a plan in place to evacuate or shelter them effectively," Helfand said in an interview Wednesday. "But at this point, we don't have a plan, and that's fairly shocking, five years after 9/11."

From the Associated Press, reporting on some collection of experts who insist the government doesn't have a plan as good as their's to survive atomic attack. Screw them, the second photo -- above -- encapsulates it better.



No to appeasement, says acolyte of Rumsfeldian thought.

Currently, the U.S. has an arsenal of 18 Ohio class submarines. Just one submarine is loaded with 24 Trident nuclear missiles. Each Trident missile has eight nuclear warheads capable of being independently targeted. That means the U.S. alone has the capacity to wipe out Iran, Syria or any other state that supports terrorist groups or engages in terrorism – without risking the life of a single soldier. . . . I'm not suggesting that we rush to use our nuclear capacity to crush states that support terrorism. I'm sure there are other less drastic military options. What I am suggesting is that I know of no instances where appeasement, such as the current Western modus operandi, has borne fruit."

Should the US Nuke Iran and Syria?





Die in nuclear fire, appeasers!

Less than a year after Munich, Nazi panzers rolled into Poland. Instead of fighting a short, limited war over Czechoslovakia, the Western democracies ended up fighting a world war, the most destructive in history. The war with the Islamists is coming. It is only a question of whether it will be at a time or on a ground of our choosing, or theirs—and whether it is fought within the shadow of a mushroom cloud.

-- from some other right-wing thing.




You know they're never going to be serious, so bomb them now and get it over with.

AT SOME point in the not-too-distant future, Iran may deliver a final reply to international demands that it stop trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The message probably won't be embedded in diplomatic code. It will come in the seismic rumble of an enormous underground explosion, or perhaps in a blinding flash of light and a mushroom cloud rising over the Iranian desert.

Then even the most tolerant and conciliatory Western diplomats will finally understand that the ayatollahs were never serious about negotiating an end to their nuclear program.

. . . The Bush administration must also consider brandishing the ultimate stick: military action against the Iranian nuclear program.
The Alabama Register




Illiterate son of ice cream vendor framed in terror trial could have brought atomic bomb to Lodi?!

What causes misgivings [in the result of the Lodi terror trial and conviction of Hamid Hayat] is not only the shaky evidence but the whole new ball game after 9/11. The one that holds that traditional law enforcement and military response are outdated.


America can't wait to act until the first mushroom cloud, because by then it is too late.

Constraints on presidential power, international checks on American unilateralism, rights for suspects, rules against torture - all are obsolete. In the Lodi terror case, that philosophy justified surveillance, wear-'em-down interrogations, deportations, imprisonment, stigma and great legal expense for defendants.

If authorities are right, maybe they prevented The Unthinkable: Valley Version. If they are wrong - even though they got convictions - then the feds blew a whole lot of money and alienated a pious community in a two-imam version of the Japanese Relocation.

Oh lord, stuck in Lodi again.





Finally, there are the Crocodile Christians. They have been patient also, slowly building their base within government so that now they can even claim the President as one of their own (sort of). Having long since disposed of Gentle Jesus on the trash heap of history, the Crocs for Christ want Armageddon, and they want it now, dammit. Haven't they earned it? Why wait? They're here to give Crocodile Rambo Redeemer a boot in the ass to get Him going, if that's what it takes. Nobody ever said Armageddon couldn't be nuclear, and if the Christian Crocs have to blow up the whole world (including you and me) to achieve their 'dream', well it's God's way, and the American way. No more waiting on some cold mountaintop for shit that isn't going to happen. Everyone knows Americans make things happen. Usually bad things.

That's a bit harsh.

Peace, Earth and Justice News.




It appears the Department of Defense is proposing to use a limestone quarry in Southern Indiana to test the effectiveness of nuclear detonations on underground facilities and bunkers such as those they expect to find housing Iran’s nuclear development facilities. The explosion, oddly called the “Divine Strake” using a whopping 1,400,000 pounds — yes, you read that right, almost a million and a half pounds, that’s 700 tons of explosives, will not make use of any nuclear material, thus enabling the test to circumvent existing test ban treaties.

The test was originally intended to be conducted at the Nevada test site until local opposition scuttled the project over concerns of health risks to the local population from toxic materials released by the explosion and dispersed by a predicted 10,000 foot mushroom cloud. So the site has now been moved to the Bedford-Mitchell area.

. . . I can’t tell you how incensed I am over this story. Why is the Department of Defense so unconcerned that it can put at grave risk the lives of the very citizens it’s supposed to be “protecting?”

Letter to editor in Indiana.




Last week's Daily Fallout.
VILLAGE VOICE FIRINGS: Room for more sex

Upon opening the morning's e-mail, I learned one of my favorite editors, Ed Park, has been let go from the Village Voice.

Sackings have been the thing at the Voice since the Phoenix-based New Times chain bought the altie, late last year or so. Almost everyone associated with the 'old' flavor of the Voice has been tossed, arts criticism diminished -- to make room for more hard-hitting journalism (presumably like this, as noted by another) and less punditocracy. The latter, of which it is said, can be delivered through blogs. (And include some recent mumble on making the Voice more driven by writerly talent, as if it wasn't.)

When one is told such things, it's interpreted as cant and phlogiston.

What it generally means: more fluff and crap, less news, more of making like NYC is a -ville or a -town in the middle of the country and the fulfillment of a desire on the part of the owners to finally get rid of all the wretches who've plagued them from the snob city by the sea.

Chuck Eddy, music editor, who worked with a great deal of my copy for the Voice for half a decade, was tossed in early summer, for the sin of having bad taste. Don Forst, original Voice managing editor, who had commisssioned my old "Weapon of the Week" Iraq war column for the paper, left at the end of last year. And now the Dean of Rock Critics, Robert Christgau (again, for matters of taste), and book editor Ed Park, as well as many others, are gone, too.

As for journalism at the Voice, viewers from the web have been able to tell for a the past few years what's most popular at the paper.

Sex columns, photo shoots of partying and club-going -- Keeping Married Sex Hot (!!), Advice for Young Queers (!!!) and "JonBenet" !!!! And don't forget the regular cartoons or this syndicated journalistic bottled lightning.

Utterly scintillating.

Consider Dan Savage whose syndicated sex column is written from Seattle where he edits The Stranger -- a direct competitor of New Times/Voice Media publication, the Seattle Weekly, has regularly been the most read at the Voice, if one goes by the paper's net metrics.

One can only imagine the heights of journalism that could be scaled with at least half the mag devoted to even more erections from the man-sodomized-by-horse-then-dies beat.

Now, it would have occurred to a logical person to dispense with the gnomic wits of sex content, gossip and like-minded probings in favor of preserving columns by Robert Christgau and Chuck Eddy, book reviews, etc.

But that's just me. I'm not only an idiosyncratic hermit but I have bad taste, too.