Wednesday, September 26, 2007

CHOLERA IN IRAQ: Chlorine shipments hosed in failed state

Back in June, DD blog noted:
By annoying contrast, cholera -- an extremely serious microbial intestinal illness --has been spotted in Iraqi children recently.

This is primarily a result of the the United States having created a failed state in Iraq, conducting and setting about the smashing of the country's infrastructure, severely damaging its capacity for producing and distributing clean water in a region that has always had a shortage of it.

Nevertheless, the US continental security apparatus continues to hoot about the imminent dangers posed by the use of chlorine although there is no indication that terrorists have the capability to strike with masses of the halogen here.

At the time, it was fairly obvious cholera would get worse because of the relatively unwarranted hysteria over use of chlorine gas cylinders in terrorist bombings.

Today, Lewis Page at the Reg, reported:

"A senior Iraqi government official has said that water treatment plants are critically short of chlorine gas which they need to purify public water supplies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that supplies of the gas are being held up due to fears it might be used as a chemical weapon, and adds that chlorine is vitally necessary to control an ongoing cholera outbreak in Iraq."

One can place this tragedy directly at the feet of the American occupation.

The US government and military has always had an inordinant fear of chlorine in Iraq. Minor use of it in terror bombs has resulted in overreaction to control it, making sanitation of water even more difficult in a country where clean water is at a premium. The hazard posed by potential chlorine bombs against US forces is not proportional to the hazard posed by serious epidemics of intestinal illness caused by lack of safe, clean drinking water.

Read the rest at the Reg here.

In June -- cholera in Iraq.

Impossible to bypass practical limits to terror use of chlorine in Iraq.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


It would seem purely coincidence that the same week the mercenary group, Blackwater USA, would be in the news for pumping fire into civilians in Baghdad, it would appear on Futureweapons peddling automatic shotguns, armored cars and the application of massive firepower.

Futureweapons, hosted by the shaven-headed ex-Navy SEAL Richard Machowicz, is the most dreadful of "reality" shows on cable television.

As such, it's been pilloried on these pages and, to summarize, it is television which exists only as a p.r. outlet for arms manufacturers, mostly American, and their corporate videos of cluster bombs, fuel air explosives, robotic mines, artillery pieces and super-machine guns. (This season the show appears to also have a prime directive to advertise for Bofors, a Swedish arms manufacturer.)

This week's episode was devoted to a trip to Blackwater USA's sprawling installation in North Carolina.

On display was the the Grizzly, a fifteen ton armored car invented and made by Blackwater USA, and automatic shotguns that fire as fast as machine guns. The automatic shotguns were claimed, by a Blackwater employee, to be the most powerful of their kind, capable of shooting small grenades.

A common Futureweapons theme is the massive amount of firepower that American-made weapons can put downrange and onto "the enemy."

This massive firepower is always said, with much grinning, enthusiasm and lip-smacking, to "strike fear" into anyone being subjected to it. That such massive firepower appears not to have had quite the desired effect in Iraq is never commented upon. However, the Blackwater USA segment of Futureweapons did not depart from the script.

Everyone on camera marveled at the flamingly massive firepower of Blackwater's weaponry down on the various ranges. Naturally, it was not hard for any viewer to imagine a detachment of Blackwater men, as a proxy American security force, deploying this massive firepower into Iraqi civilians, perhaps from behind the machine gun ports of their Grizzly armored cars.

If this segment from Futureweapons, like others, was ever played as part of an evening network news show it would be viewed as psychotic and tasteless, an advertisement for atrocities-on-demand.

One would view the part where the hopped-up host uses a Blackwater machine gun to riddle a civilian automobile with a dummy behind the wheel as magnificently and malevolently mentally ill.

However, Futureweapons is only on cable where most people cannot see how crazy it is. And that is really a shame.

Futureweapons: Extolling the virtues of weaponry designed for massacres.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

FIGHTING FOR THE AMERICAN RIGHT TO POSSESS SAFE SLAVE LABOR TOYS: A noir photo essay taken from current events

"I guarantee that toys made by our Chinese slave labor partners will be the safest ever this Christmas," Mattel CEO Bob Eckert told Congress.

"How can I be sure my baby is getting safe slave labor-made cheap toys from China?" asked one young woman as she posed with her toddler.

"I will do everything to ensure American children get absolutely safe slave labor-made toys, so help me God!" said Senator Amy Klobuchar.

The US government has ascertained that this Chinese toy is absolutely safe and not laminated with lead sprays and paints.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Readers of your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow's articles on jihadi poison documents know their intrinsic net worth.


Having examined them in detail over the last four years, it can be said with certainty that not one grants a terror capability. They indicate only an astonishing amount of wishful thinking by authors who apparently have no education in basic high school science.

Nevertheless, news of such terror tracts has been repeatedly published in the mainstream media claiming the opposite.

It has always been an odious thing to see, fit to be judged as an intellectually bankrupt practice which entails misrepresentation and a purposeful distortion of the meaning and relevance of jihadi poison recipes derived from Maxwell Hutchkinson's The Poisoner's Handbook.

Published by Loompanics in 1988, the "recipes" in The Poisoner's Handbook have been copied throughout the web, in English and in Arabic. In some form, they are commonplace in jihadi papers purporting to describe capabilities in chemical or biological warfare.

This silly paragraph from The Poisoner's Handbook does not constitute a recipe for a biopoison or a WMD.

One of the recipes, for botulinum toxin, is infamous.

It is found littered throughout the terror literature on biological poisons and requires the reader to be so stupid he or she actually believes botox can be made from randomly tossing meat, some dirt and a couple vegetables in a can.

"Botulism is fun and easy to make," crows Hutchkinson, convincing only idiots that he knows what he's writing of.

Hutchkinson's plan is no more a recipe for making botox than a regimen for vigorous full squat weight-lifting is a way to condition your legs for an Incredible Hulk-like jump to the moon.

No matter, Hutchkinson's formula has been published in slightly different forms in jihadi documents which can advocate subsitution of animal excrement, horse dung or cow dung, for various ingredients.

To pretend that Hutchkinson's recipe, or anything derived from it, is valid is fundamentally dishonest. It is usually accompanied by an argument from authority claiming that some manner of terror capability and activity is demonstrated.

DD has been chipping away at these specious presumptions for the past few years. It is no longer possible to go on the Internet, search for these documents, and NOT FIND the critical analyses on them authored by me.

Nevertheless, many publications and experts continue to spread disinformation on them.

The most recent entry in this sham is an article entitled "Chem-Bio Cyber-Class: Assessing jihadist chemical and biological manuals," by Anne Stenersen writing in the September 2007 issue of Jane's Intelligence Review.

The argument is now more muted as to the threat posed by such manuals. The conclusion is that jihadi knowledge, as exhibited in poison documents, is "shallow."

However, the article still makes claims which are untrue.

Jane's fudging of Hutchkinson's ridiculous botox recipe.

"The manuals contain very few details of laboratory experiments with biological weapons, although some describe the testing of botulinum toxin on rabbits ... " writes Stenersen. "The poison is given to rabbits in several ways: dissolved in alcohol or water and given orally or by injection, or dissolved in another chemical (details of which cannot be provided here because of UK terror legislation) and applied to the skin. The rabbits die in all the experiments ..."

Stenersen, in declining to name the other "chemical" means dimethyl sulfoxide. (More on this below.)

To understand how this particular bit is distorted requires the reader to know from which document Stenersen is paraphrasing. In no place in the Jane's article are any of the poison documents referred to by their actual titles.

In this instance, Stenersen is discussing The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, in particular its entry on "Betaluminum Poison," a jihadi syntactical error for a derivation of Hutchkinson's 1988 botulinum toxin "recipe."

Snapshot 1 of Mujahideen Poisons Handbook derivation of Hutchkinson recipe for botox.

Snapshot 2 of 2: The person or persons who wrote the entry for "betaluminum poison' could not possibly have achieved the results claimed because it is based upon Maxwell Hutchkinson's nonsense. This throws into question everything printed in the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, a publication which appears to often be an exercise in making things up -- a succesful effort -- for the purpose of leading others to believe that a very sinister capability has been achieved.

Part of the Mujahideen recipe is in the second snapshot and this is where Stenersen gets her information on alleged jihadi animal tests with botulinum toxin.

At this point it is important for the lay reader to be informed there is no evidence anywhere that terrorists have as yet produced botulinum toxin. And botulinum toxin cannot be made from this formula.

Yet Stenersen and Jane's ask the reader to believe something quite the opposite without pointing out the author of the document is really full of it, quite possibly making it up, as is often the case with dodgy anonymous writers.

"[One ml] of the solution was dissolved in [dimethyl sulfoxide]," writes the jihadi author. "The solution was touched onto the rabbit's skin. It died ..."

Botulinum toxin, in any case, is not a skin contact poison.

In August 2005, the Washington Post published the above snapshot from the Betaluminum/Hutchkinson botox recipe found in the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook for its Sunday feature on page 1. (This copy is reduced in size.)

The above snapshot was published in the Washington Post two years ago. It is still on the newspaper's website and the full-sized version is here.

At the time, the Washington Post tried to make the case that this most unserious recipe was one example of determined al Qaeda training in the making of poisons, abetted and amplified through the spread of such documents on the Internet.

Two years later, Jane's Intelligence Review repeats the same script with minor variations.

To put this another way, Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce is a real world example of botox in a can. The recipes of Hutchkinson and jihadists, as interpreted by terror analysts and newspaper reporters, are not.

Relevant past articles:

From the Poisoner's Handbook to the Botox Shoe of Death.

Ultimate Jihadist Poisons Handbook.

Horse dropping or cow dropping?

Terrorists, the Internet and the Betaluminium Threat -- at the Federation of American Scientists.

Monday, September 17, 2007


"Psychological operations (PSYOP) -- military programs that seek to influence the attitudes and shape the behavior of a target audience -- have the potential to increase the effectiveness of the armed forces they support while minimizing violent conflict. But the U.S. military is not notably good at conducting such programs," writes Steven Aftergood with diplomacy and gracious balm on his Government Secrecy blog at the Federation of American Scientists.

Aftergood makes available two recent Army Field Manuals on the subject plus a National Defense University review of recent Army PSYOPs.

"In 2003, a U.S. information operations officer produced posters picturing Saddam Hussein as Homer Simpson and other figures of ridicule. 'The posters enraged Iraqis and led to conflict that resulted in casualties for U.S. forces,' according to a 2005 study of PSYOP lessons learned," continues Aftergood.

Just prior to Iraqi Freedom, US military PSYOP men were in high gear with this example from a leafletting campaign. That certainly worked well.

Years ago, when we were all much younger and brimming with enthusiasm, not cynically burned-out husks of our former selves, America leafletted Iraq in a massive PSYOP campaign just prior to the invasion.

However, when things started going all to Hell, the Pentagon -- which had proudly shared its leaflets with the world -- began sneaking them off the web, the most embarrassing images leaving first. Today they're officially gone although an archive remains at GlobalSecurity.

It was a perfect example of a PSYOP program of astonishingly poor conception and one can read of it here. It is also unintentionally hilarious if one is in possession of a very bleak sense of humor.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

SLUDGE IN THE 70's: Flash -- The homeless man's Yes

In the mid '80s I hosted a weekly college radio show at Lehigh University called "Sludge in the '70's." DD played classic hard rock, but my classic hard rock wasn't "classic rock FM." If it was a name band, I usually played something from before they were famous — or after they'd slid out of favor. But mostly it was devoted to the hard rock acts which had little or no hope of headlining arenas but which were still quite capable of making enjoyable albums.

In other words, the primary stuff of my record collection.

These bands all had some crucial things in common: A love of the guitar, of simply doing hard rock for the sake of it plus a desire to be loud and exciting. They could be musos, stumblers or anything in between, and they didn't even necessarily have to be from the '70s. That era was merely a golden time for my tastes, when imposing a "now" sound on the music — like the inappropriate disco-ey gated machine drum sound on ZZ Top records — wasn't an overwhelming practice. In other words, '80s acts were fine, too, as long as the records didn't sound like they catered to passing fancies in pop-rock production.

Sludge In the 70's bands were acts most wouldn't consider buying an album by. They were the bands who always made up the undercards of the shows you may have seen. Occasionally you may have been surprised by them and momentarily thought of buying a record if you spied it in a store during the next couple weeks.

Most often, even if you saw that record, the reaction was, "Nah, maybe next time." And there was never a next time.

To expand the show, I often read one paragraph entries from rock 'n' roll books, now out of print, which cataloged such bands and their discographies. Or mediocre-to-bad reviews from issues of Rolling Stone.

If you would compare your tastes to mine, consider mine an upside-down barometer. I like music most shun. A band whose record I drag out once or twice a year twenty-five years after it was unsuccessfully first published is a success in my book, a piece of the very necessary gravel making up the never-ending road of hard rock.

Consider Jimmy Page's unauthorized "No Introduction Necessary," a grab bag of cuts assembled from the guitarist's studio work BEFORE he became famous.

The last six tunes on No Introduction Necessary come from 1970's Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends. This was an album dubbed "the worst of all time" in a BBC poll about a year before Lord Sutch committed suicide.

That was harsh and wounding.

The Sutch record, a natural for Sludge in the 70's, featured most of pre-Led Led Zeppelin and there presence is unmistakable on "Thumping Beat" and in the jaunty "Union Jack Car." David Sutch was clownish antic party fun set to hard rock.

None of that "Stairway to Heaven"-like stuff and songs from Tolkien. You'd probably had heard that enough by 1983 although I'd bet you still haven't heard Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends.

I've always wanted to make a review book of Sludge In the 70's records. The blog is a convenient way to put some of it down in a scratch pad.

Already pissing off people they couldn't afford to, rock critics, in 1972 with this cover which was somewhat more memorable than the grooves.

Flash, an English band, had four albums. Only two are worth owning. Hmm, maybe one. Almost two, though, if you're a little like DD.

Flash was Peter Banks' band. Banks was the first guitarist for Yes, the lead axman on the Yes albums you don't own. Banks did, however, leave Yes with its signature guitar sound, one which would be copied by Steve Howe and put to much better commercial use on Fragile.

Banks surrounded himself with musicians just a cut below those he played with in the more famous band, the result being a homeless person's Yes. Yes got Roger Dean for cover art. Music fans stared into the famous illustrations for hours.

Flash got Hipgnosis. Rock critics scorned the salacious cover shots on the first two albums.

Flash's instrumental attack was more direct with the guitar far more front and center than in Yes. Any benefit in this was largely offset by the fact the writing wasn't nearly as catchy.

"People who love Yes will probably like this spinoff and imitation," wrote Robert Christgau in reviewing Flash's debut in 1972.

Christgau, who has never been good at judging anything even remotely hard rock, was wrong. People who loved Yes didn't give any of it to Flash.

Christgau was not impressed by the Hipgnosis cover, harrumphing: "Nor do I believe music gains body (or sexuality) by capillary action from its cover --the 'advance' from Yes's psychedoodles to Flash's rear-view crotch shot only make me wonder whether this band comes by its name lysergically."

Way too much declaration and speculation!

Flash got no respect and it seemed to annoy them, protesting in one magazine interview that they were not like Yes when everyone else was insisting they were.

"From the minute Flash comes on stage there is little question that Peter Banks is the star," wrote R. Serge Denisoff in a 1972 issue of Phonograph Records Magazine.

"[Banks] stands alone on the far corner of the stage picking Hendrix runs. Each song features a long — very long — solo. Dreams of Heaven [from the self-titled first record] is a showcase for the lead guitar. The lightning bolts and other electronic effects only highlight Peter. He raises his arms as a Teutonic demigod while washed with flicking strobe lighting ... The bolts and other electronic effects now focus on Peter Banks as they never did with Yes."

" 'They're just like Yes,' someone says. 'Yep, they are,' I respond, resisting the obvious pun."

"Flash, as in 'he's a flash,' exists due to the generosity of English film financiers who feel that collecting rock groups as an investment is nearly as good as stocks and bonds," continued Denisoff, amusingly but somewhat uncharitably.

"Peter talked Bolting Brothers of British Lion Ltd. — and all that — into bankrolling him as he was the lead in 'the greatest rock and roll band in the world.' With $15,000, he was ready to go."

You're not allowed to write stuff like that in rock journalism anymore. It's be stricken prior to publication.

Flash's debut contained five tunes -- three long loud ones separated by two short and relatively soft numbers. If there is one to remember, it is "Small Beginnings," which received some play on FM radio.

"In the morning when you start your day," sings vocalist Colin Carter. It's the only lyric you can remember from the entire record, an LP that worked best when given completely over to Banks and Ray Bennett duking it out on lead guitar and lead bass.

"Dreams of Heaven," the other signature Flash tune, is Yes tanked-up on cheap beer and brawling in a pub, crunching bass morphing into delicate acoustic guitar, senseless interludes of twee singing stitching together the rest of the number between furious passages of guitar careening between jazz fusion and fuzzy early metal. It's thirteen minutes long.

Flash didn't give much thought to song composition. The idea was to beat the audience over the head with energy and virtuosity. This Flash did very well.

It being the case, the album to start with is the live CD, Psychosync, issued in 1997, put together from bootlegged radio and TV broadcasts in the US in 1972.

The sound is raw and rough in front of a small audience at an FM radio station in New York.

"In the morning you ja dart ya day," sings Colin Carter in a familiar way, muffing the only memorable line from "Small Beginnings" to no ill effect before Banks'six-string volume swells. Everything including the kitchen sink is tossed into "Dreams of Heaven" which includes Banks inexplicably playing "Oh, Susanna" in the middle of the tune just because he can.

" ... Jon Anderson was prettier," writes someone on Amazon where copies of the second album appear to be selling for an unreasonable $44.00.

Who needs pretty, though?

Flash's "In the Can." Art once again trumps content.
TURNING CHINA-NESE: I really think so. Chinee attack world, PLA hackers more dreaded than nuclear weapons. Congressman on the ramparts in Florida suggests bombing would be decent punishment for vicious attacks on "our cyberspace."

Indeed Grasshopper, the Chinee soul is everywhere, from the bowl of humble dogfood to the tubes of light we call the internets. -- Master Po

From the September 10 Congressional Record.


Cliff STEARNS (R-Florida): Madam Speaker, my colleagues, the control of information is critical to national security. This asset was compromised as reported in the London Times AP story in the Washington Post recently, last week. It was compromised from a cyber attack against the Department of Defense's unclassified e-mail system, which included the e-mail accounts of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. While the Pentagon does not have sufficient proof to formally make an accusation, China is the prime suspect. The responsibility is unclear, because China is home to many insecure computers and networks that hackers in other computers could use to simply disguise their locations and launch these attacks, making proper attribution difficult.

The Chinese Government replied, ``It has always opposed any Internet wrecking crime, including hacking, and crack down on it according to their law.'' This is not true. Last June was not the first cyber attack that points back towards China. In 2005, a group with ties to China compromised secure networks from the Redstone Arsenal Military Base, to NASA, to the World Bank. In one case, the hackers stole flight planning software from the Army. The files they have obtained are not classified, but many are strategically important enough to require U.S. Government licenses for foreign use. Experts note China's military has openly discussed using cyber attacks as a means of defeating a more powerful conventional military such as ours. In fact, other governments have also been the targets of these vicious cyber attacks. Unidentified officials in Germany and Britain reported to the media that government and military networks had been broken into by hackers backed by the Chinese Army.

The Guardian reported that Chinese attackers launched online assaults on the network in Britain's Parliament, the Foreign Office, and Defense Ministry. My colleagues, last month the German weekly Der Spiegel also reported that computers at the chancellery and three ministries had been infected with so-called Trojan horse programs, which allowed an attacker to spy on information in those computers. The report, which appears on the eve of German Chancellor Merkel's visit to Beijing, said Germany's domestic intelligence agency believed hackers associated with the Chinese Army might have been behind the attacks. Motives for such hacking may range from the stealing of secrets or confidential technology to probing for system weaknesses and placing hidden viruses that could be activated in case of a conflict.

The reported Pentagon attack was the most flagrant and brazen to date, said Alex Neill, an expert on the Chinese military at London's Royal United Services Institute. Quoted by the British newspaper, The Guardian, Neill said such attacks begin at least 4 years ago, and are increasing at an alarming rate.

Now, this is a substantial threat to the security of the United States and its allies. In January 2005, Japanese officials had reported that Chinese hackers were routinely attacking web sites and Internet services. According to the Korean Information Security Agency, a total of 10,628 cases of hacking were reported in the first half of the year 2004, 30 times higher than for the same period in 2003. In 2005, Chinese hackers assaulted South Korean government computers, gaining access to information concerning the country's National Assembly, Atomic Energy Research Institute, Democratic Progressive Party, and even the itinerary of the South Korean president himself. Whether or not cyber attacks are government sponsored, China has become a growing focus of global antihacking efforts. In a report earlier this year, security software maker Symantec Corporation listed China as having the world's second largest amount of computer activity. Experts say the attacks originating in China often employ standard weaponry such as Trojan horses and worms, and many other sophisticated techniques. In some cases, hackers slip in after launching viruses to distract monitors, or coordinate multiple attacks for maximum effects. China denies backing such attacks, and foreign governments have declined to openly accuse Beijing. Yet, after the threatening test of the Chinese anti-satellite weapon, the reports are further illustrations of China's pursuit of new methods of nconventional strategy. Chinese military thinkers frequently debate these strategies, including the use of attacks on satellites, financial system and computer networks. ``In the information age, the influence exerted by a nuclear bomb is perhaps less than the influence exerted by a hacker,'' a pair of Chinese colonels wrote in a key 1999 work on asymmetrical strategies titled Unlimited Warfare.

We must ensure the legal authority is clear for our government agencies in tracking and responding to cyber attacks. It is vital that we swiftly detect attacks, accurately identify the source and intent, and respond forcefully against all malicious intrusions.

My colleagues, our enemy needs to know attacking our cyber space is the same as attacking our homeland, and we will respond accordingly.

Monday, September 10, 2007

YELLOW PERIL: PLA cyberwarrior lore and the Pentagon

"It will be the acme of skill to defeat the prideful military of the Americans through the righteous uniting fists of stealthy digitized roaming mobile code."

-- People's Liberation Army military theorist Fu Man Tzu in "Cyber-Wars Like Grains of Sand," translated by China scholar, Hue Pflong Pu, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Unnamed Pentagon figures continue to get big ink for their thesis that Chinese military cyber assault is a threat of trouser-moistening magnitude," reported Lewis Page skeptically at the Reg today.

"Last week's media bandwagon, initiated after Financial Times hacks in Washington obligingly got things rolling, is now thundering along unstoppably as foaming tech-dunce scribes pile aboard.

"On Friday it was [The Times of London's] turn to play ventriloquist's dummy.

" 'Chinese military hackers have prepared a detailed plan to disable America’s aircraft battle carrier fleet with a devastating cyber attack, according to a Pentagon report obtained by The Times,' " says the Thunderer."

Read the entirety here.

Last week your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow was contacted by a journalist from an English-speaking Asian radio station. The enterprising fellow wanted to know what was going on between alleged Chinese cyberwarriors and the Department of Defense.

DD told him that -- historically speaking -- Chinese cyberwarriors have regularly been "seen" to invisibly smite the Pentagon.

Going back ten years, one is not challenged hard to find anonymous sources in a variety of news stories pumping up a cyberwar said to be prosecuted by the PLA.

It's a wearisome beat.

DD learned to ignore it some time ago and even to make fun of it at VMYTHS.COM where the Chinese were in the press so much we made a joke of it, referring to the menace as "the Chinee."

The stories on "the Chinee" are always the same.

Anonymous sources insist some Pentagon network has had its intellectual treasure stolen or something bad but invisible done to it. There may be some nugget of truth in the thicket of produced claims but it is impossible to get at because no one comes clean and the journalism is so lousy. Sources have always tended to either be exaggeraters or simple dissemblers passing on nebulous gossip. When attempts are made to nail down claims with verifiable details, they blow away like leaves in the wind.

In such stories there is always said to be evidence of a new dawning of digital warfare!

Reporters never look into Lexis to see how insubstantial and repetitive the memes are, how deadening the scripts recited by the anonymous. Last week was no different. The journalist who wanted to question me had his own thesis about what was going on. It was so compelling I have forgotten the details of it.

DD's mind carelessly wandered while the current truth was being explained to him.

Should I water the hanging plants on the patio at once or wait another day?

But the Chinese? Oh, yeah. Whatever you say, guy.

DD has dredged up some old stuff from VMYTHS and the electronic Pearl Harbor archive to illustrate the inanity of the Chinee-on-the-digital-attack meme.

From late 2001 at Vmyths:

At the rate of about once a week, sometimes even more, the Chinee will be accused of doing something vague but bad in the mainstream press.

The Sunday, July 22 edition of the Washington Times rolled out a general from Chancre Jack China (Taiwan) to accuse Commie China of planning to use weapons that have never been demonstrated to exist — "Electromagnetic pulse missile warheads that can disrupt the electronics of weapons systems by creating an electronic shock," computer viruses, which do exist, but which allegedly "can be unleashed against both military and civilian computer networks, such as banking and stock market systems, to cause social unrest and create chaos," and the always popular sleeper agent, or spy "who could sabotage computer networks in wartime."

The primary target: Chancre Jack China. But America is in for its share of trouble, too, warned the Taiwanese fugleman.

The U.S. geo-political climate [then] more or less dictated that the designated enemy [was] China. How much substance [was] in the claims or if there [was] any at all, [was] beside the point.

In August of 2001, the Washington Times reported that "all intelligence services, including the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and especially the National Security Agency, have launched major searches for [an] elusive computer hacker" named "Red Crack." [Stifle your urge to make a joke of the name or you'll be labelled as unserious.]

It was so decreed, the newspaper said, by unidentified officials from the Bush administration. Anonymous "Internet security specialists" were alleged to have implicated the clever "Red Crack" in cyberwars between the U.S. and the Chinee.

Close upon its heels, MSNBC added even more pages to the already thick book of nauseatingly unimaginative and repetitive text on the subject. Perceptively entitled "the U.S.-China Information War," it contained all the hackneyed usages, packaged as eye-opening revelations, common to the brand of literature.

For MSNBC's "U.S.-China Information War" you had your anonymous sources of alleged gravitas ("senior government and military officials"), your claims of plans to strike at electronic Mammon ("30 high-ranking [Chinese military] experts called for the development of weapons that can throw the financial systems and army command systems of the 'hegemonists', i.e., America into chaos") and the always trusty saw that computer viruses will be unleashed ("China appears interested in researching methods to insert computer viruses into foreign networks...")

It produced the silly expert, in this case Army analyst Tim Thomas, mildly infamous on for a Nineties article in Parameters magazine that crazily spoke of a Russian virus -- named 666 -- that could cause heart arrhythmia and nuclear missile silo operators said to be in training to resist telepathic attack by malicious computer program! (In the MSNBC report, the Russian 666 virus was no longer the object of interest. Now it was possibly Chinee network-striking "shock brigades.")

The story closed with a routine brag on the utter supremacy of U.S. cyberwar might, supplied by another pro forma anonymous source. "A high-ranking U.S. intelligence official says, U.S. info-war capabilities far outstrip those of China or any other potential adversary."

If that is not sufficient to tickle your funny-bone, consider the following excerpts from 1999, on Chinee cyberwarriors threatening US interests.

November 18, 1999: "Internet Warfare Concerns Admiral" was the title of an article by Bill Gertz of the Washington Times.

"The Pentagon's top intelligence official said yesterday that China's announced plans to conduct 'Internet warfare' poses a future threat to U.S. military dominance on the battlefield."

"We are clearly interested and concerned about this whole idea of information attack," said Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), to Gertz for the Times.

Richard Allen, national security advisor during the Reagan administration, [was]produced as an expert on cyberspace and information warfare.

"Richard Allen . . . said the Chinese could inflict strategic damage from military-backed information warfare attacks."

"Mr. Allen said the recent computer attacks on the Pentagon by an Israeli hacker and two teen-agers in California would pale in comparison to a Chinese military computer strike."

"This is something about which we ought to be mightily alarmed," said Allen to the Washington Times.

A day earlier, Gertz had run with a story entitled "China Plots Winning Role in Cyberspace."

"It is essential to have an all-conquering offensive technology and to develop software and technology for Net offensives so as to be able to launch attacks and countermeasures on the Net, including information-paralyzing software, information-blocking software, and information-deception software," Gertz quoted a Chinese military publication as stating. Gertz neglected to mention that US Department of Defense printed and prints similar tripe fairly regularly -- and has done so for well over a decade.

Pentagon "anonymoids" showed up on schedule: "A senior Pentagon official said he was notified about the article, which has raised concerns among defense officials who see China's information warfare capabilities as a potential threat to U.S. civilian infrastructures . . ."

An "expert," "William Triplett, co-author of a book on the PLA," said: "All of this offensive-warfare talk, when China is not threatened by anyone, shows that the dragon is at the point where it doesn't have to hide its claws."

Then the scary hypothetical scenario of catastrophe was produced.

According to Triplett, "China could launch a devastating computer-run sabotage operation by attacking U.S. oil refineries, many of which are grouped closely together in areas of Texas, New Jersey and California."

"A [Chinese] computer attacker could penetrate the electronic 'gate' that controls refinery operations and cause fires or toxic chemical spills . . . "

An electronic Pearl Harbor primer on DD blog.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

WEBSITES TEACH MURDER WITH RICIN AND BOTOX SHOCKER: Poison recipe joker Maxwell Hutchkinson continues to delight and amuse world

"Fanatical British Muslims are using the internet to plot a fresh wave of terror to mark the sixth anniversary of 9/11, The People can reveal," revealed the Brit celebrity tabloid, The People.

Brit lad Ziggy wows Chanelle on UK Big Brother, perhaps not with recipes of chemical weaponry downloaded from Internet.

"We have infiltrated a string of vile websites that spell out in chilling detail how to bring carnage to the UK," informs The People.

"Deadly ricin poison and DIY chemical agents" form part of the curiculumn of al Qaeda distance-learning courses on the Internet.

"[These] include manuals with titles like The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook and The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook."

Maxwell Hutchkinson's "The Poisoner's Handbook" takes center stage although the tabloid does not realize it.

"A horrific 23-page manual spells out a series of recipes for killer poisons," reports the tabloid, referring to a jihadi document which is one of multiple translations of the substance of Hutchkinson, published by Loompanics in the USA in 1988.

"It details toxins like arsenic and cyanide but also looks at poisons that can be made from everyday items such as tobacco, potatoes, cornflour and mushrooms," referencing Hutchkinson's trivial fascination, and subsequently -- jihadi interest, with nicotine (tobacco), solanene (chips) and botox made from cornflour, dust and meat thrown together in a can.

"Deadly ricin is made from castor beans - and is an al-Qaeda favourite."

This refers to the infamous common recipe for ricin, a process which simply grinds castor seeds and degreases the resulting mash, denaturing a significant portion of the ricin by the action of it.

Attractive jewelry tin of castor seeds -- pretty enough to help rationalize the invasion of Iraq.

In related news, the Dallas Morning News informs a vaccine can now protect mice against inhaled ricin.

"Previous research, led by Ellen Vitetta at UT Southwestern Medical Center, showed that the vaccine prevents death [in mice] via ricin injection," reported the newspaper. "But bioterrorists would probably spray ricin in the air or on food. So scientists wanted to be sure the vaccine would protect mice exposed by those routes."

"In the new study, appearing in a recent issue of the journal Vaccine , Dr. Vitetta and colleagues showed that the vaccine protected mice against highly lethal doses of ricin delivered to the lungs or gut, and with little damage to the lungs."

"If I had put in for a federal grant for ricin vaccine pre-9-11, it would have come back in a garbage pail," Vitetta said in a recent article on biodefense for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

"The drumbeat for more biodefense spending as part of the war on terror resulted in passage of Project BioShield in 2004, which appropriated $6 billion for research [on a ricin vaccine] over 10 years," reported the newspaper. An additional 15 million has been awarded to DOR Biopharma, a small company developing Vitetta's vaccine.

"Ironically, if ramping up fear among Americans about the threat of biological warfare was intended, in part, to drum up public support for biodefense spending -- as some conspiracy buffs theorize -- then the downside is that accidents may result in an overreaction by the public and in the media," continued the newspaper oddly, rushing to the defense of the industry after accidents at Texas A&M's biodefense research facility were brought to light by Edward Hammond of the Sunshine Project.

The resulting scandal and recrimination brought down the vice president of research at the laboratory.

"Ultimately we don't need 400 institutions across the U.S. working on biological-weapons agents," Hammond said to the newspaper. "We've gone way overboard. I request records from universities, and there are wildly divergent interpretations of what constitutes security."

Staying in Texas, we read an interesting question on the gardening page of the Houston Chronicle.

"What can you tell me about the old-fashioned castor-bean plant?" asks a reader. "I believe my parents had them for shade for the chickens."

The Chronicle's gardening columnist replies: Castor bean (Ricinus communis) is a fast-growing but tender tropical that becomes a rounded shrub with purplish-red stems and large-lobed, burgundy foliage. The small, whitish flowers are followed by showy red, prickly seed capsules.

"The seeds are marbled brown-gray-white.

"An old Southern favorite, it's handsome in the landscape. Oil from the seeds is used in medicine and other substances. The seeds and other plant parts also contain ricin, which is highly toxic to people and animals, including chickens. The seeds are especially dangerous; if ingested, they may be fatal ... Therefore, avoid planting castor beans near play areas."

Biodefense story on Texas A&M accidents at the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

Friday, September 07, 2007

WASSERSTOFFPEROXID: Hydrogen peroxide stuff for Friday

Pic of peroxide carboy signage submitted to DD. Note masking of vendor for photo which would presumably make tracing of initial purchase point simple.(Slightly reduced from original.)

"German officials said the peroxide could have been made into an explosive equivalent to 1,200 pounds of TNT," reported the New York Times today.

"However, investigators have not said what other chemicals they found or what they believed the suspects planned to make ... Outside experts like George Smith, a senior fellow at the research organization, said that without additional information, it was not possible to guess the size of the threat. 'That they accumulated so much material certainly deserved scrutiny,' Dr. Smith said.

"Common industrial uses for 35 percent hydrogen peroxide solution include the bleaching of wood pulp for paper production and the treatment of wastewater. 'You have an everyday product, more or less, that is used under normal circumstances to improve people’s lives,' said William Gulledge, manager of the hydrogen peroxide panel at the American Chemistry Council, an industry group."

The entire piece is here.

Application of common sense produces a number of sensible indications. Accumulation of such a large quantity of the chemical, suitable for production of the touchy terror explosive, triacetone peroxide, is serious business. That much material would allow the terrorists to quickly move into the manufacture of improvised bombs.

Application of common sense allows for the realization that it would be impractical for a sub rosa team to efficiently mix all of it. It is difficult to estimate the explosive capability which could be achieved because of a variables in methods of synthesis, plans and the simple fact that a certain portion would be lost to waste.

Logically, the terrorists would have planned to subdivide it for use in a large number of smaller bombs.

However, one must wait for more information to emerge.

Some news reports have glancingly indicated that authorities were able to substitute something else, unspecified but not concentrated peroxide, inside the shipping containers. While the veracity of such statements cannot be determined, it is of some importance to track down the truth of it, if any, and the general details of any such substitution.

And today the Los Angeles Times reported the terror cell had been vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping for some time.

Therefore, it would seem certain that at some point in the investigation, German authorities new with certitude where the chemical was being obtained.
THE MYTHOLOGY OF THE LONDON RICIN CELL REFUSES TO DIE: Kept alive by the scholarly hobby of 'publish or perish'

A significant and noticeable part of the US and European academy of terrorism studies is like a shark. If it stops swimming forward, it dies. This has two consequences: a drive to publish or perish which, in turn, motivates it to creep onto past battlefields, assessing which bodies can be ignored for the sake of renewing mythologies; or new terror analyses that purport to show Byzantine networks and capabilities.

As an example from the dog days of summer, we consider an article entitled "The London Ricin Cell," written by Glen Segell of London for the August edition of Strategic Insights, succinctly self-described as "a bi-monthly electronic journal produced by the Center for Contemporary Conflict at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California."

DD's longer piece on the distortion of the ricin trial case for the sake of an American scholarly publication devoted to the study of terrorism is here at the the Reg.

It is no secret in England that the Iraq disaster coupled with the leadership of the Bush administration has damaged the United States' relationship with one of its best international friends.

This is poorly understood in the US. In fact, it's ignored, consigned to backpages where Brit generals, writing their memoirs, are reported to be calling Donald Rumsfeld a fool and dubbing American plans for Iraq post-Saddam as trash.

However, the seeds for British distaste for the Iraq war can, in part, be traced to convicted murderer Kamel Bourgass's jewelry tin of castor beans. Although never shown, it was used to bolster the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq.

However, unpleasant and disagreeable information contrary to the Bush administration's script on the matter did not come out until 2005. When it did, it was virtually ignored by the US newsmedia.

At-the-time allegedly rock solid intel, furnished by Colin Powell with the backing of the CIA, at the UN Security Council prior to war with Iraq.

Looking at Colin Powell's famous slide illustration, basic common sense requires most to come to the conclusion that a lame jewelry tin of castor seeds found in a dingy apartment should not have constituted any legitimate part of a reason to go to war with a foreign country because of assumed production of weapons of mass destruction.

Unsurprisingly, no one in the US government has ever seen fit to explain how the insubstantial tale of the London ricin ring -- and the lack of any poison -- was twisted to fit a case for war.

The contradictions of the case, however, were not lost on many in England. These contradictions became part of a growing conviction that the US government had been engaged in fixing an argument for war with Iraq. The London poison cell was a convenient addition, used to link Iraq to al Qaeda.

Information from the London ricin cell trial has also been inconvenient to terror experts fond of arguing that it demonstrated capability and training in chemical weaponry by al Qaeda men. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

However, the Strategic Insights article indicates such incongruities never hinder such experts from attempting to change the story.

Reporting from 2005 on the Bourgass ricin trial at GlobalSecurity.Org

Thursday, September 06, 2007


"How US foiled a 9/11 repeat" was the laughable headline in the Hindustan Times. If you are the suspicious sort, you might think the Bush administration, desperate for good news as the anniversary approaches, has resorted to planting stories in the foreign press on great victories you have missed.

An assortment of wind-up toy terror experts no one has heard of or who are now known mostly for being expert witnessess with jobs as contract employees of the US government, on call to rattle juries, are trotted out to deliver wondrous claims.

"It is a 9/11 anniversary ritual," writes the newspaper. "With the date approaching, Bush administration officials are everywhere pointing out it’s now been six years and the US has yet to experience a sequel to Al Qaeda’s first spectacular terrorist attack ... Vice-President Dick Cheney attributes it to administration policy: 'There has not been another attack on the US. And that is not an accident.' But experts say the source of US immunity is more complex."

One alleged "inhibitor: Al Qaeda’s own psychology."

Cue the replay of the pleasing tale of the Mubtakkar of Death.

It is claimed: "Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a vice-president of the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies [and terror expert for a think tank you've never heard of] says, 'Al Qaeda set a very high bar for itself: Zawahiri cancelled a chemical attack on the New York subway because it wasn’t on the level of 9/11.'"

Ridiculed by an assortment of people when famous journalist Ron Suskind rolled it out in 2006 for his "One Percent Doctrine" book, the story was shotgunned into US news agencies. But even with the extra media gunpowder it still crashed. Suskind's collection of anecdotes from the US-led war on terror failed to set bestseller lists on fire.

We dare you to ask someone in the street, "What was the Mubtakkar?"

"However, few US analysts are complacent about the future," it is wisely said. "Gartenstein-Ross says, 'Our weakest link is that we are losing ground overseas. Al Qaeda has regained a safe haven in Pakistan's tribal areas.'"

So "India is a country most believe should be at the forefront of ... US anti-terrorism efforts."

"The solution is not a charm offensive, the US should pursue its national interest," claims one nobody.

Stay the course! Stay the course!

While the military has been overused, now is no time for America to be overly concerned with what the world thinks of it even though "we have lost the sense of shared purpose we enjoyed with much of the world."

"America Effective!" shouts the Hindustan Times, in case you still haven't gotten the point.

Translated: "Bush Effective!"

Pathetic terror cases are trotted out as measures of effectiveness: the patsy old man with the alleged plan to blow up the "fuel line at JFK," the loquacious crew alleged to be plotting to shoot up Ft. Dix, and a nebulous Manhattan train tunnel plot.

"Experts ascribe the US ability to avoid the sort of low-level terror attacks that trouble the UK, Indonesia and India to a number of reasons."

You see, "US authorities ... incorporate common people into their counter terrorism network. Truck drivers, garbage men, sales clerks and building security men are urged to report anything unusual to law enforcement officers."

Yes, it's true, DD has seen many suspicious types lurking in Pasadena and I've ratted them out. Three terror plots you haven't yet heard of have been averted by my actions. I expect to be awarded the Medal of Freedom next year.

"Many receive basic training on what to watch out for," it is claimed. "New York City pays for television ads thanking the over 14,000 people who reported suspicious activity to the police last year."

And now -- drum roll, please: "Most experts feel the 'war on terror' has done little damage to civil rights, at least within US borders."

Next, the ludicrous and unsupportable assertion from the radically right-wing and pathologically authoritarian-supporting think tank windbag: "The best attribute of US counter-terrorism, says terror analyst James Carafano of the conservative Heritage Foundation, is it does 'a very good job of protecting and respecting the civil liberties of individuals ... It does a poor job of defending itself against spurious allegations of abuse or incompetence."

Try not to laugh cynically. I heard you!

Civil rights have been protected and "[the] judiciary's assertiveness is a key reason."

"Intelligence is the spearhead of counter-terrorism," says Rohan Gunaratna to the newspaper.

Gunaratna has become one of the professional witnesses tapped by the US government to shake the chains and wail for juries. He was recently on hire for the atrocious Jose Padilla case.

"By investing in intelligence, the US, Canada, Europe and Australia have prevented over 100 terrorist attacks since 9/11," it is claimed, a figure which even the Bush administration wouldn't repeat to the press. (Well, I could still be proven wrong on that.)

"The US, with 16 separate intelligence agencies with a spook budget of at least $50 billion, maintains an easy global lead in electronic and signal espionage."

Yes, the CIA is always doing a bang-up job and no one's snooping on Americans in defiance of the law. Our civil liberties are safe and the intelligence agencies are the best in the world.

Everyone knows that.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

THAT'S A LOTTA PEROXIDE: 1,500 pounds of 35 percent Wasserstoffperoxidlosung (hydrogen peroxide concentrate)

In regards to today's breaking news on terror plotters in Germany, seizure of 1,500 pounds of thirty-five percent hydrogen peroxide reveals a significant and dangerous hoard.

Hits on TATP and peroxide bomber stories from this blog ticked up strongly all morning.

Peer-reviewed literature syntheses of the touchy explosive triacetone peroxide (TATP) have often gone with 50 percent hydrogen peroxide but other studies have shown thirty percent sufficient if one is willing to allow the reaction to go longer and furnish less product by volume. A find of thirty-five percent hydrogen peroxide in large quantity in the hands of bad men is a significant event.

Since news is incomplete, it is important to know what other compounds, materials and methods were seized in addition to what has already been reported.

Thirty-five percent hydrogen peroxide is used in water sanitation, fifty percent in paper pulp bleaching. A photo of a label on one of the barrels distincly shows 35 percent concentration and should furnish enough information to tell authorities where the bulk chemical was purchased, who originally placed the order and for what purported reason. Even if stolen or diverted, some helpful information should turn up. (Upon looking at pics of seized barrels, the manufacturer or distributor seems to be obscured by tape.)

If the accused had all their ducks in a row (or even lucked from incomplete intel that they had) -- all reagents necessary and adequate plans and procedures for improvised explosive synthesis -- it was time to move on them.


Grades of hydrogen peroxide. Thirty-five percent used in waste water treatment.

Peroxide, TATP, terror cases. From the archive.

Monday, September 03, 2007

FUN WITH PIX: Guitar mag ads

DD occasionally purchases Guitar World magazine at the supermarket and it always shows the guitar trade publication industry to be a merciless place. Regular readers are apparently a very fickle and childish crew, requiring the musical instrument industry and its press to work together for magazines in which heavily illustrated stories compete for space with intelligence-insulting advertisements aimed at getting the bedroom guitarist to purchase something.

So today I've strung together a few ads from recent Guitar Worlds to show what kind of humor magazine, based on rock music, I'd like to see. (Next week, perhaps a look at Combat Handgun or Shotgun News magazines.)

First up, DD returns to a favorite, Eddie van Halen.

Readers may recall a recent posting about Eddie's Frankenstein relic guitar, sold for $25,000 to lunatics. The Eddie van Halen relic, which even has an early Seventies quarter nailed to it like Eddie's original, was first featured in March of this year in Guitar World which put him and it on the cover.

"We found a guy on eBay who was selling rolls of uncirculated 1971 quarters," Eddie van Halen's guitar builder informed the magazine. "That was a weird year for quarters, they didn't mint many of them in 1971."

Then Eddie van Halen suffered a collapse and checked into rehab.

Earlier this summer, Eddie was again wheeled out for the cover of Guitar World as well as in ad photos for the relaunching of his $25,000 guitar and line of amplifiers.

Behind the tight smile, impending trouble.

New hair and fresh dentures make a man feel fine.

Moving along, businesses have long recognized the selling power of rock icons in full page advertising. Ernie Ball electric guitar strings uses Jimmy Page of Led Zep.

Five decades! Has it been that long?

Oi, Guv'nor! Make that at least six decades of rough road. In sight of the stairway to heaven.

When DD thinks of guitar gear, he thinks of children and adults with the aspirations of children. This being the case, amplifiers have to be made to cast the impression that if only you will buy it, you too will be a "Guitar God."

Nigel Tufnel's guitar amp only went to "11." If "Guitar God" fails you in front of an audience, there's always "Psycho." Personally, I'd prefer a switch for "Homeless Busker on Sidewalk."

When guitar magazines become entirely devoid of editorial content, there will still be ad photos of gypsy he-man Dave Navarro.

For f--- sake, can't you put on a damn shirt? We've seen all your nipple rings and tatts.

After spending 25 K on an Eddie van Halen guitar with its hard-to-find 1971 quarter, you may not have enough liquidity to k-k-k-cure your s-s-s-t-tt--tuttering prob-buh-buh-blem.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND OUR WORLDWIDE STRUGGLE AGAINST TERROR: National struggle given a seasonal bye, no al Qaeda men seen at tailgate parties

College football season is DD's favorite time of the year. It's possible to put aside my natural skepticism and actually believe that most of the kids one sees on Saturday TV match-ups are doing it for fun. And that a reasonable number of them take a handful of classes which they try to pass as opposed to just being thugs-in-residence at school until tossed out for academic insufficiency or an end to athletic eligibility.

If you tune in to ESPN's College Gameday on Saturday morning, you must see that despite opinion polls to the contrary, most Americans -- by their mass actions -- don't give a shit about the war on terror.

Americans can't really feel mortally threatened by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, even as we creep up on another anniversary of 9/11. No one acts like they believe George W. Bush when he implies the country is in a titanic struggle of Good vs. Evil, the American way of life is in jeopardy from Islamofascists, and if we don't continue to wring more blood from the battlefields of Iraq, they'll follow us home.

If they did, it would logically follow that not so many of us would be crowded into stadiums over the weekend with the youngest, strongest and fastest among us --NOT IN THE MILITARY -- but on the gridiron.

In an elliptical way, college football shows al Qaeda can't win the war on terror.

It says: "Most of us just don't care about you clowns. We'd rather watch football than send our best to stamp you out permanently like we should have done at Tora Bora but GWB had to attack the wrong people in Iraq so ya got off. Maybe you shouldn't count on that happening a second time."

Another aspect of opening day college football is the everpresent need for doormats.

The doormat is a patsy team, one from a college eager to win a big TV paycheck for its athletic department. This entails volunteering to be mugged by a much stronger and more famous opponent.

The Penn State Nittany Lions' Saturday doormat was Florida International University, a team known only for brawling en masse with the Miami Hurricanes in a game it lost, anyway, in 2006.

Winless in 2006, the FIU gridders entered Happy Valley and were predictably and justly slaughtered, 59-0. Even as a bunch of losers, they had it coming.

DD often feels sorry for those trapped in the process of being selected as doormats.

One views it as making student athletes jump on grenades for the sake of bags of cash to the Dean of Athletics. If college students really had a choice in the matter, do you think all of them would volunteer to have their heads beaten in for a few hours by guys they know are taller, stronger, heavier and faster?

In southern California, Idaho was USC's doormat in hundred degree heat.

No one from Idaho has any business in southern California. The demographics are wrong. Los Angeles County has more people in it than the entire Spud State. Embrace reality, losers.

Idaho is the definition of pathetic and lame, Mr. Bizarro world, when compared to southern California. It's everyone's civic duty to scoff at a school from Idaho.

Idaho is a place where gay people are feared and shunned so much an odious senator, a closeted Republican homosexual, must insist he is not gay even when he has revealed to everyone that he is. To give anyone from Idaho a tour of West Hollywood or Sunset Boulevard would be to put them at risk for stroke. In southern California you can be gay and go to college football games and not be arrested. That'd never fly in Idaho. You'd have to pretend to be not gay for an afternoon of fun.

The Trojans were sloppy and not particularly with it for Idaho. This did not matter. The Vandals, from a town called Moscow -- not to be confused with the real Moscow, were thrashed as the Trojans rotated through the entire squad. On television it was painful. Trojans, almost all of them twice the muscle mass of Idaho's freshman quarterback, regularly ran over Vandal footballers.

The TV announcers had a hard time finding anything encouraging to say about the Vandals other than numerous references to the fact their new coach had brought fresh spirit and enthusiasm to his program.

What should he have brought? Promises that as his first official contribution, the team would be sent out-of-state for a thrashin' in a cash in? Great!

Idaho eats it. They deserved to have their teeth kicked in.

Occasionally, however, doormats bite back, Appalachian State -- from Boone, North Carolina, surprised Michigan in Ann Arbor, potentially ruining the Huskies' -- ahem -- rather, the Wolverines' entire year and guaranteeing the retirement of Lloyd Carr at the end of the season.

While on the subject of doormats, three classic examples of such are found in Army, Navy and Air Force.

The days of Doc Blanchard and Glen Davis (Army) or, more famously, Roger Staubach of Navy, were long past when DD started attending Penn State football games in the late Seventies.

America's best athletes were not then and have never been interested in playing football at the service academies.

Why should they be?

Student athletes can get scholarships, be on national television, and play for teams with much better coaching and facilities. Plus they don't have to tolerate being formally hazed by upperclassmen for a year or two as part of their process of seasoning and education.

Being in State College, Pennsylvania, in the middle of winter can seem grim. If you're on the football team, though, you'll get a trip to a sunnier clime for a big bowl game and have played for someone famous, Joe Paterno.

If you're at West Point, NY, in the middle of winter, it's dire. You're stuck. If a miracle should happen and the team wins six or seven rather than the usual three out of twelve, the best that can be hoped for is a trip to a place with a name like the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, NC. Can you even name Army's coach? How about Army's most famous coach? Give up?

This was obvious to even a child during the Sixties. My grandfather, who was old enough to have seen Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard, would always ask if I wanted to go with him to see Army vs. Navy in Philly over Thanksgiving.

"Are you nuts?" I would think to myself before declining the offer.

In 2007, the football programs of the service academies are the worst for schools of their repute. On Saturday, Army lost to Akron by a touchdown. Air Force beat an even more obscure doormat, South Carolina State, and Navy struggled past Temple, a team with a longstanding tradition of being the most wretched of the wretched.

"Leading 14-0 late in the first quarter, the visiting Midshipmen could not deliver the knockout blow to the downtrodden Owls," reported a local newspaper. "Slowed by turnovers and penalties on offense and hampered by missed tackles on defense, Navy needed three field goals from kicker Matt Harmon in order to hold on for a 30-19 victory ... 'The good news is that we found a way to win the game. When you make mistakes, it's better to be 1-0 than 0-1,' said Navy head coach Paul Johnson..."

Navy, while a reliably sub-mediocre-to-dreadful team like many much less prideful, has figured out a way to cobble together a schedule which always theoretically gives it a way to claw its way into a basement-tier bowl game, one played well before the New Year, preferably before Christmas.

Last year, for example, Navy made it to the aforementioned Meineke Car Care Muffler Bowl. Pitted against an average Boston College team, Navy led for the entire game before finding a way to lose in the last thirty seconds.

Navy could make it to a bowl game in 2007 because its schedule has just the right number of stiffs.

Five of its opponents won four games or less in 2006, two of them being among the worst in the nation, the already mentioned Temple Owls and -- Duke -- which lost all twelve of its games in 2006. Duke was crushed by powerhouse Connecticut on Saturday.

The Middies are banking on having at least four sure wins in the schedule. Temple is already a notch on the belt. North Texas, Army and Air Force, a trio which won only nine games between them last year, are part of this cagey strategy.

Of course, Navy must also play Pitt, Rutgers, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Northern Illinois. The Scarlet Knights, with Heisman Trophy candidate Ray Rice, will make pemmican of the Midshipmen next week.

Getting beaten lifeless early in the season could make eking out two wins among those left a tough business for Navy. The only team Navy would seem to realistically have a chance against is Pitt. And while Notre Dame looked very bad against Georgia Tech yesterday, the Irish are never so poor they can't beat Navy.

“A lot of [our] guys are young and no one has heard a lot about them,” said Navy's coach to a local newspaper. “We aren’t going to intimidate anybody," he added sensibly.

Americans pay much lip service to the notion that the US military is a treasured and highly-regarded institution in everyday life. However, no one acts like it when it comes to practical matters. If you can't get out of Dullsville because your parents can't afford to send you to college, you can join the military.

But if you can get a ride out of town on an athletic scholarship, it's never refused in favor of an appointment to a service academy.

The American war on terror is an option, one most silently choose to decline.