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The new tapes obtained by CNN
August 19, 2002 11:17 AM   Subscribe

The new tapes obtained by CNN are somewhat disturbing. Has anyone else been able to catch some of them, either online, or on CNN Live? The chemical testing on the dogs is particularily interesting. Suddenly, experts are wondering if Al Qaeda has more technological capability then was previously estimated. Do you think that they have indeed made it past the stage of torturing dogs, and could pose a serious chemical threat? What is the likelihood that these weapons will be used?
posted by dgt (36 comments total)

 
There seems to be much uncertainty concerning the nature of the gas used on the dogs... One can create a toxic gas by mixing chlorine and ammonia. From what I understand, the problem is to deliver the weapon.
posted by ALvard at 11:35 AM on August 19, 2002


Yes, they really can't seem to agree on the chemical.

This is just speculation, but does anyone know if a dog's acute sense of smell would at all intensify the symptoms of the gas?
posted by dgt at 11:47 AM on August 19, 2002


Do you think that they have indeed made it past the stage of torturing dogs, and could pose a serious chemical threat? What is the likelihood that these weapons will be used?

How about 'How the fuck would I know?' Only people who masterbate to Tom Clancy novels would answer that kind of question.
posted by ToothpickVic at 12:01 PM on August 19, 2002


The chemical testing on the dogs is particularily interesting.

Actually I find that particularly depressing - they should've used an Al Qaeda member (and promised him salvation).
posted by Bernese Mountain Dog at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2002


Take a deep breath and count to ten, Toothpick, it's really not that outrageous of a question. In such a case its better to hold your tongue, even if you think it's the world's dumbest question, as you add nothing to the site with such phrasing. There are interesting things to talk about in this thread, I hope the poster and/or others don't get hung up on your comments.
posted by cell divide at 12:05 PM on August 19, 2002


Although this is a topic of serious concern, does our current discussion have the potential to provide anything beyond off-color remarks, speculation, and rumors? If not, let's delete it.

Well-informed Mr. Blix can't answer these questions without looking for himself.

RFE/RL Iraq Report

Comments on CNN and war censorship
posted by sheauga at 12:07 PM on August 19, 2002


These tapes are scary, but one should remember they were filmed before the US attack on Afghanistan.

It's not trivial to run a normal medium-sized business in peace time in a western country with solid infrastructure. Just imagine how hard it must be to run a multinational terrorist organization filled with fanatics when your H.Q. has been wiped out and half your lieutenants have been captured.

Before the war al Qaeda could mount a coordinated attack every 2-3 years. That time probably went up some thanks to the US attack.
posted by Triplanetary at 12:16 PM on August 19, 2002


Sheauga, I think it muddles reasoning if one lumps Iraq and Al Qaeda together, like the Bush administration does. With the best information we have now, it appears they are separate problems.
posted by Triplanetary at 12:24 PM on August 19, 2002


I'm having a little trouble swallowing the authenticity of CNN's new secret video stash. If nothing else, the timing is impeccable, seeing how we're in the middle of the slowest news month. That's easy to rationalize, seeing how, obviously, if I was a major news network and I found these tapes, I'd save them for the slowest month of the year too.
I think, though, that now is a good time to remember that CNN also played a huge part in hyping up the pre-Gulf War "Iraqis stealing incubators and leaving babies to die" story, which turned out to not only be a lie, but a lie produced by a US advertising agency. Casting one's enemies as evil puppy killers is around up there with calling them evil baby killers. A little over the top.

Now, I'll admit that the videos could quite possibly be legit. In which case, it's important to remember that America has no moral ground here. We're committed far worse atrocities in testing our chemical and biological weapons, and on unwitting human subjects as well as on animals.

Uncle Sam: "Yo, Osama!"
bin Laden: "What is it, damnit?"
Uncle Sam: "Guess what dude?"
bin Laden: "Time to die?"
Uncle Sam: "No, not yet. I just wanted to say, to say... I'm a pot."
bin Laden: "Oookaay...."
Uncle Sam: "And you're black!"
bin Laden: "JIHAD!"
posted by jbrjake at 12:49 PM on August 19, 2002


I dunno, CNN's decision to run so much graphic footage of the dog seemed spectacularly gratuitous to me. I guess it's the species-specificity that separates the CNNs from the Al-Jezeeras of the world.

I'm being acerbic because it was just so damned unpleasant. I get it: the bad guys can do bad things. Enough.
posted by DenOfSizer at 12:49 PM on August 19, 2002


Oh no! They're now killing cute little doggies?

BOMB THEM!!! BOMB THEM!!!
posted by bondcliff at 1:09 PM on August 19, 2002


if I was a major news network and I found these tapes, I'd save them for the slowest month of the year too.

You clearly don't have any idea what network news people do for a living. They would NEVER sit on this for 15 minutes longer than they had to. To think they'd toss them in a file for a "slow news month"...Preposterous.
posted by luser at 1:22 PM on August 19, 2002


Al-Quaeda Terrorography

1993 Bombing of the World Trade Center
1994 Thwarted assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II
1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia
1998 Bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania
1999 Thwarted bombing attempt of Los Angeles International Airport
2000 Bombing of the USS Cole (DDG-67) in Yemen
2001 Attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon
2002 Fuel tanker explosion on the Tunisian island of Jerba at a Jewish synagogue

*Update*
Killed a dog.


I don't know, to me it sounds like CNN is hyping this 'Lethal Tests of Terror' story a bit much.
posted by ToothpickVic at 1:23 PM on August 19, 2002


"...one of the most interesting tapes to me that was recovered was a documentary about Saddam Hussein, and it criticizes Saddam Hussein for a wide variety of issues, including gassing Kurdish civilians in Iraq. But it is not only a sort of Western critique of Saddam, it is actually an Islamic critique of Saddam, calling him sort of a Muslim. So this videotape, to me, kind of confirms my general view that al Qaeda was, in fact, rather anti-Iraqi throughout its history."

Did CNN run that tape right behind the 'gassing dogs with a mixture of those household cleaning products labelled "don't mix!"' one?
posted by riviera at 1:28 PM on August 19, 2002


<sarcasm>
Thank God FOXNews didn't have these tapes. We all know how they are the only news channel to sensationalize these kinds of things.
</sarcasm>
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:56 PM on August 19, 2002


You know, with the US case for toppling Saddam falling apart, the appearance of these tapes could be legit. But they could as easily be disinfo planted by the US.

You really can't rule out anything when it comes to media manipulation these days.

(I'm gonna put my tin-foil beanie back on now)
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:20 PM on August 19, 2002


By the way, they'll gas dogs, but they won't eat pork?? That just strikes me as fundamentally wrong.
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:25 PM on August 19, 2002


I have to agree with Fupped Duck and the media manipulation idea. I think what sealed it for me was the poll at the bottom of the front page: "In light of the al Qaeda videotapes acquired by CNN, do you see the group as more of a threat?"

Is that how CNN wants me to see them?

*sigh* Who knows anymore...
posted by thinkdink at 2:31 PM on August 19, 2002


The transcript from riviera makes it clear that Al Qaeda experiments gassing animals are not the same thing as serious mustard gas attacks during WWI, or the Iraqi attack on Halabjah.

No doubt all that intrusive "we're gonna delete pirated movies from your hard drives" technology is not being developed for motives of greed, but rather by a secret DARPA - SPCA - PETA conspiracy, for the purpose of deleting these noxious instructional videos. Taking a quick poll on "Are you more scared now???"is a great way to set the "World Ends at 9, Details at 11" tone!

Any chance we'll ever hear a more detailed explanation of why Al-Qaeda doesn't think Saddam Hussein has it straight regarding Islam-- or is the general public still considered too dumb to actually care what the people on the other side are thinking?
posted by sheauga at 2:42 PM on August 19, 2002


When they show us tapes of Al Qaeda exposing dolphins or whales to strange chemicals, then you can bet it's propaganda. Americans would get behind any war effort to stop dolphin-haters.
posted by edlundart at 3:24 PM on August 19, 2002


I'm having a little trouble swallowing the authenticity of CNN's new secret video stash. If nothing else, the timing is impeccable, seeing how we're in the middle of the slowest news month.

If this was a massive dis-information exercise, some one REALLY took Wagging the Dog too literally.

(I know, I know the poor puppies...this might be in bad taste...)
posted by phyrewerx at 3:46 PM on August 19, 2002


I just got this in email from CNN:

Subject: CNN Breaking News
To: TEXTBREAKINGNEWS@CNNIMAIL12.CNN.COM

White House considering attack on suspected al Qaeda chemical and biological weapons test facility in Iraq, U.S. officials tell CNN. Details soon.


All because of these tapes? Is that what Bush needed to push some slight public support his way? The timing is too good to be true (I wrote about this on my site earlier)
posted by mathowie at 4:17 PM on August 19, 2002


They're banking on the fact that many Americans don't know or don't care to know the difference between Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Palestine, and Iraq.
posted by skallas at 4:22 PM on August 19, 2002


man these terrorists sure are dumb to tape everything they do and then to keep "losing" the tapes to our supposedly inept intelligence agencies at strategic moments.

Coincidence?


!!! OR PRELUDE TO ALIEN INVASION !!!!
posted by sic at 4:31 PM on August 19, 2002


Iraq Mission Aborted
President Bush Calls Off Operation to Take Out Al Qaeda Poison Gas Laboratory
posted by homunculus at 4:53 PM on August 19, 2002


The funny thing is I saw an article about this in Time magazine today. And I thought that CNN just broke the story last night. Seems odd to me. Plus, this just stinks of "look, they killed a puppy, what meanies, let's attack Iraq".
posted by Hall at 4:57 PM on August 19, 2002


thinkdink: I think what sealed it for me was the poll at the bottom of the front page: "In light of the al Qaeda videotapes acquired by CNN, do you see the group as more of a threat?"

I really wouldn't give CNN's front page polls much thought. This little gem is one of their previous polls, and I was so baffled I had to take a screencap.

Some friends and I have an ongoing joke about said polls, which usually ask participants questions they couldn't possibly answer. For example:
CNN.com POLL: Did Osama bin Laden escape to Pakistan?
A. Yes
B. No
C. Undecided
posted by Danelope at 5:16 PM on August 19, 2002


There's a level at which this is new information (at least publicly) that will be taken seriously, and there's also a level at which it's being ridiculously hyped by CNN (based on comments, I shut off my cable).

I mean, a dying dog? How can they resist.

Still, just like back during the Clinton years when Freepers were making constant snarky comments about "the sheeple" (not to mention endless ridiculous wag-the-dog scenarios), I don't think it flatters Metafilter to play that game.

The truth is that chemical weapons are difficult to deliver. In wartime you need lots of preparation and logistics, safety at all stages being a paramount concern. When delivered you need to have an enemy concentration -- and favorable winds. Your troops need to pre-treat themselves with atropine or another appropriate drug. The enemy needs to be in range. Saddam's SCUDs just aren't good delivery systems for biological or chemical weapons, at least in a military sense, though it's undeniable his officer corps knows more about using them than any other active army save one. Still, chemicals could make an effective weapon of terror, the Tokyo subway experience shows. It's not at the scale where individuals need worry. The subway scenario I'd worry about is biological.

riviera wants to play this down like it's easy to make a chemical weapon. Um, yes, it's easy to make a lethal chemical combination, but it's much harder to develop an effective delivery mechanism. The latter is what should concern us. Al Qaeda may have developed some chemical expertise, but Iraq has delivery expertise, honed on real battlefields. I'm happy to hear they hated each other back in '98, though I think the equation is less clear now, given their similar aims and positions. Heck, if Riyadh and Tehran can make up .... and I'll leave the whys to the ulema insofar as it probably has little to do with anything important to us. We only care about the whethers.

And hitting a camp in Iraq? It's been called off, but would be a wise side mission if we ever do something about Iraq proper. Ansar al-Islam is a Kurd-connected group, but has worked closely with Saddam in the past for attacks inside Iran et cetera, and they are a radical Islamist group with connections to al Qaeda as well. Even so, we attack targets in Iraq all the time as part of Operation Southern Watch. In any case, we'd want to time it for surprise, otherwise it's pointless.
posted by dhartung at 5:27 PM on August 19, 2002


A senior Bush administration official, who was shown the tape by CNN, said he was "very troubled"

Good lord. A senior official was shown this tape by CNN? Not the CIA? Was he troubled by the contents of the tape or by the fact there had been another major intelligence lapse? Both? Wouldn't the CIA want to secure these kinds of tapes and use them to their own purposes? Instead they got scooped by CNN.

And then we get this on again off again battle plan against Iraq. W. is messing with us friends. By the time he invades (in time for his "re-election") we either won't care, or we won't believe it's happening.
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:59 PM on August 19, 2002


CIA scooped? Thank goodness the media manipulation angle is always out there. Of course, it takes a good deal of humility on the part of the feds. According to Judith Miller's article in today's NY Times, when asked why CNN got to the tapes before the CIA did, agency spokeperson Bill Harlow said, "There are more of them in Afghanistan than there are of us, and they are paid better."

Let's just eliminate the middle network and give George Tenet's job to Nic Robertson.
posted by jellybuzz at 6:15 PM on August 19, 2002


I sure am glad that none of our morally correct U.S. corporations practice animal testing.
posted by fatbobsmith at 7:07 PM on August 19, 2002


Well there's certainly a difference between testing medicines on an animal versus poison gas versus cosmetics...
posted by owillis at 7:34 PM on August 19, 2002


Bernese Mountain Dog said:

Actually I find that particularly depressing - they should've used an Al Qaeda member (and promised him salvation).

Unfortunatelly, they can't do that as Heaven is Running Short on Virgins for martyrs.
posted by Grod at 7:55 PM on August 19, 2002


Calm down with the conspiracy theories, folks, and let's review what we know:

The tapes were made years ago. The attack on the Iraqi/Kurdish site was planned weeks previously and discontinued a week ago. Abu Nidal seems to have died a few days ago. So why are we only hearing about them now?

Easy. The newsies were all on vacation. The kids start school soon, so everybody's back, and catching up on what they've missed.
posted by oddovid at 10:37 PM on August 19, 2002


64 tapes and they're just now having them made available by a paid "source"?

64 tapes in the same place showing all of these"tests" and "conferences", and we're just now hearing about it?

64 tapes going back years and we're just now getting to see them?

Pure propaganda.Propaganda from who remains to be seen.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 11:22 PM on August 19, 2002


fatbobsmith, and all else interested:

A link from PETA about the wonderful history of tests the U.S. Military has performed on animals, including exposure to radiation, live-target ammunition tests, response to being immersed in boiling water (here's a hint: it fucking sucks,) and my personal favorite, the shaving of monkey stomachs to attach cartons of disease-spreading mosquitos to them. Your tax dollars at work.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:58 AM on August 20, 2002


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