18 August 2006

Terror, Terror, Everywherror

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Because if you're not sufficiently afraid, you may begin to ask the types of questions that will make those in authority very, very afraid. Questions like, so how plausible was the alleged plot to blow up ten aircraft on route from the U.K. to the U.S. using explosives mixed together in mid-flight, from precursors smuggled on board disguised as sports drinks, hair gel, or other innocuous-looking stuff? The short answer, not very:
Once the plane is over the ocean, very discreetly bring all of your gear into the toilet. You might need to make several trips to avoid drawing attention. Once your kit is in place, put a beaker containing the peroxide / acetone mixture into the ice water bath (Champagne bucket), and start adding the acid, drop by drop, while stirring constantly. Watch the reaction temperature carefully. The mixture will heat, and if it gets too hot, you'll end up with a weak explosive. In fact, if it gets really hot, you'll get a premature explosion possibly sufficient to kill you, but probably no one else.

After a few hours - assuming, by some miracle, that the fumes haven't overcome you or alerted passengers or the flight crew to your activities - you'll have a quantity of TATP with which to carry out your mission. Now all you need to do is dry it for an hour or two.

The genius of this scheme is that TATP is relatively easy to detonate. But you must make enough of it to crash the plane, and you must make it with care to assure potency. One needs quality stuff to commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale," as Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson put it. While it's true that a slapdash concoction will explode, it's unlikely to do more than blow out a few windows. At best, an infidel or two might be killed by the blast, and one or two others by flying debris as the cabin suddenly depressurizes, but that's about all you're likely to manage under the most favorable conditions possible.
The obligatory Slashdot commentary, as one might expect, brings out both the chemistry and security geeks that makes the plot seem even more implausible. But why, oh why, would the U.K. and U.S. authorities make such a show about these arrests? After all, where there's smoke, there's... oh yeah.

Let's here from this gentleman, one Craig Murray, who claims, "Unlike the great herd of so-called security experts doing the media analysis, I have the advantage of having had the very highest security clearances myself, having done a huge amount of professional intelligence analysis, and having been inside the spin machine."

We have heard that the information that precipitated the dramatic mass takedown originated from Pakistani intelligence. Your opinion, Mr. Murray?
Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance. Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way. Trouble is it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth.

The gentleman being "interrogated" had fled the UK after being wanted for questioning over the murder of his uncle some years ago. That might be felt to cast some doubt on his reliability. It might also be felt that factors other than political ones might be at play within these relationships. Much is also being made of large transfers of money outside the formal economy. Not in fact too unusual in the British Muslim community, but if this activity is criminal, there are many possibilities that have nothing to do with terrorism.
But why go to all this trouble?
I think the answer to that is plain. Both in desperate domestic political trouble, they [Bush and Blair] longed for "Another 9/11". The intelligence from Pakistan, however dodgy, gave them a new 9/11 they could sell to the media. The media has bought, wholesale, all the rubbish they have been shovelled.
And here's the perspective of an American skeptic who has plotted the nexus of politics and terror, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. "Keith runs down the timeline from 2002 until the latest UK plot regarding the politicization of terror. Remember when Tom Ridge explained how the administration signaled terror alerts that he didn’t think should have been used?"

Not only have the terrorists won, they're running the place!

[Technorati tags: | | | | | ]

No comments: