Tuesday, October 06, 2009

THE WAR ON TERROR SALESMAN IS BACK

Today the US government rolled out the classic pitch from authority.

In doing so, it took us back to the worst years of the Bush administration. Whenever bad men were apprehended, no matter how trivial or how far prior to actual execution of plot, they were always evidence of the very very serious threat of al Qaeda.

In this practice, nothing has changed. Just sample today's wire stories for the repetitive single source statements on the nature of the threat, insisting everyone inhale the dangerous gravity of it without a single question.

"Prosecutors said Zazi took a bomb-making course at an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, had notes on how to make explosives his laptop computer and acquired materials similar to those used in bomb attacks in London in 2005, buying acetone and hydrogen peroxide at beauty supply stores," reported Reuters.

"Atty General Eric Holder said the plot, if it had been successful, could have killed 'scores' of Americans, based on the chemicals involved, the history of similar plots and the number of people suspected of being involved."

Fifty six people were called in the London 7/7 plot, many more injured. No one in the United States has been called in an al Qaeda bomb plot since 9/11. And all the peroxide bomb plots uncovered prior to Najibullah Zazi's have been in Europe, primarily in England.

"Holder said Zazi visited Pakistan in 2008, when he allegedly attended an al Qaeda training camp ... 'There certainly was an al Qaeda connection,' Holder said [in a press conference]."

It's worth repeating that if, indeed, Najibullah Zazi visisted an al Qaeda camp and was trained there, the public has no significant indication that the nature of the training was particularly effective.

Consider what we do know about bombings for a minute or two. Bombings occur in Pakistan. They occur in Afghanistan. And they still occur in Iraq. In these places -- where there are experienced bombers -- the bomb of choice seems always to be made of high explosive, not hydrogen peroxide and nail polish remover scrounged from beauty parlors and then tinkered with.

In Los Angeles, there is no shortage of weekly shootings. Or ammunition and guns.

But what does Najibullah Zazi busy himself with in Colorado?

It's a rhetorical question which invites you to assess the threat considering only the facts, not the embellishments, which have been way too long the currency of the US government, regardless of which party is in power.

DD knows the answer to this threat assessment. If you read this blog regularly, so do you.

DD blog owns one of the pages on the Internet with the highest hit rate for variations on the meme 'peroxide bomb easy to make'. As such, it can be used to plot and graph occurences of the peroxide bomb subject in the news. And DD is preparing a Google Analytics-powered survey of the trends which sweep the website on this topic. They are not only tied to published news reports going worldwide, but also to a relatively small but noticeable number of people worldwide always searching for their allegedly so easy to make peroxide bombs.

That landing page is right here -- published in 2006. And the counter has been ticking along picking up statistics on the phenomenon ever since then.

Stay tuned -- in a future edition, this is going to get interesting.

Anyway, today DD went out once again to the mainstream media to see how many brainless stories there were, telling everyone who can read worldwide that peroxide bombs are easy to make. Anecdotally, there weren't as many of them as in past years. Perhaps because it's now virtually impossible to miss the post on DD blog when you are reporting on the subject and you Google how 'easy' it is to make them.

The sampling:

"While experts say hydrogen peroxide-based bombs are relatively easy to make with the correct recipe, Zazi was struggling." -- AP

"It's very dangerous," an exlosive expert told the news service. "In 2006, an explosion ripped through a Texas apartment where two men were making [a peroxide-based explosive]. "One was killed, the other injured."

These were Americans, by the way. Not jihadists. And it illustrates one of the problems which accompanies peroxide bomb-making.

"CBS 2 asked the Illinois Institute of Technology chemist to explain how easy it would be to make an explosive using acetone and hydrogen peroxide." -- CBS2 in "Are Two Chemicals Over the Counter Terror?"

But Najibullah Zazi was not a chemist from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

"Not much training is needed to concoct a peroxide bomb, and it doesn't have to be accomplished in a remote camp," opined the Tampa Bay Tribune. "Information about bomb-building is all over the Internet."

And if there is some significance to this 'fact,' then it is surely astonishing that bombs are not going off daily in the United States. Rather than in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where many real bombers appear to be.

It is certainly appropriate that individuals like Najib Zazi be dragged off the street when their workings are discovered. But there's nothing good in immediately reverting to form and ringing the same old 'terrorism terrorism terrorism' alarm bell.

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