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Soft target attacks
October 18, 2005 9:26 AM   Subscribe

What's next — Soft Target Attacks : Aerosol mists of biohazards in public places, like shopping malls. Or the National Mall in Washington DC on Sept. 24th of this year (see also: Salon story). Coincidentally (?) the University of New Mexico and Cerus Receive $23 Million to Develop Tularemia Vaccine (the agent detected on Sept. 24th). More terrorism scare released now to distract from the Plame indictments soon to come?
posted by spock (26 comments total)

 
Be afraid, very, very afraid - then vote Republican in the next election. I hear they are running Voldemort next time.
posted by caddis at 9:31 AM on October 18, 2005


Terror Terror Terror!
posted by eriko at 9:33 AM on October 18, 2005


Am I the only person that is just not that afraid of terrorists?!

I'm far more likely to be shot by a cop, have a car accident, or drown in a pool, so why should I expend a single penny of my taxes preparing for contingencies that will almost assuredly never arrive?

"Conservatives"?
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:34 AM on October 18, 2005


sonofsamiam,
You don't want Defense Contractors to go hungry this Christams, do you?
posted by lyam at 9:35 AM on October 18, 2005


Soft Target Attacks?
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:37 AM on October 18, 2005


Personally, I love that Salon--for all it's "hey, we're the opposition" statements and attacks on administration boogeymen--follows exactly the same playbook that the Republicans use: Be afraid, be afraid, but we're telling it to you straight.
posted by thecaddy at 9:40 AM on October 18, 2005


I hear the terrorists have been flushing baby alligators down our toilets for years and have amassed a huge army of sewer dwelling mutant crocodiles that only eat liberal scum traitors (like me).

I always thought a soft target attack was when you kicked someone in the balls.
posted by fenriq at 9:49 AM on October 18, 2005


How can you talk like this when there is a bomb in Baltimore? Traitors.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:55 AM on October 18, 2005


You don't want Defense Contractors to go hungry this Christams, do you?

If I could starve those leeching SOBs to death, I would. I'm going to be paying for their Christmas bonuses until I'm 80.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:06 AM on October 18, 2005


You don't want Defense Contractors to go hungry this Christmas, do you?

Never happen.
posted by homunculus at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2005


It's a good thing for the Bush administration that they never investigated the Anthrax attacks after 9/11. This way they can mysteriously reappear after the Fitzgerald indictments come down. Fear trumps bad news any day of the week.
posted by any major dude at 10:12 AM on October 18, 2005


Wow - crashing planes into stuff (Tom Clancy's Debt of Honour and Executive Orders) followed by aerosol mist biohazards (Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six). Those terrorists will likely try a nuclear weapon next (Tom Clancy's The Sum Of All Fears). We'd better bust those evil terrorists before they start working the Mexican illegal immigration angle (Tom Clancy's Teeth Of The Tiger).

You know what? Let's just arrest Tom Clancy since he seems to be primarily responsible for every plan so far.
posted by longbaugh at 10:13 AM on October 18, 2005


Personally, I love that Salon--for all it's "hey, we're the opposition" statements and attacks on administration boogeymen--follows exactly the same playbook that the Republicans use: Be afraid, be afraid, but we're telling it to you straight.


This has been, overtly or no, a tactic of governments across the political spectrum since the beginning of time. It's not surprising when the Bush gov't does it, it's not surprising when Salon's writers do it, and it won't be suprising 200 years from now when our robotic overlords do it.
posted by dhoyt at 10:17 AM on October 18, 2005


How can you talk like this when there is a bomb in Baltimore? Traitors.

Nevermind. Traitors.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:33 AM on October 18, 2005


"Conservatives"?
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:34 AM PST


What? I'm with dhoyt. With the note that I'd like it to stop as well. Hell, I'm for smaller govt. and less taxes. This starting at every little mouse thing and throwing money at it drives me nuts too.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:35 AM on October 18, 2005


What we need to do is run models of such attacks, using harmless informational virii instead of real biological agents, and reduce public places such as shopping malls to testbed platforms for fine aerosol mists of slander.
posted by nervousfritz at 10:38 AM on October 18, 2005


I AM OH SO SURPRISED that anti-war protesters would be targeted by mysterious biological agents... who wants to lay even money that this stuff is a strain that *mysteriously* went missing from some army lab somewhere?

FURTHER, I am DOUBLY SURPRISED that half-baked terror warnings should start to pop up, again, at the same time as news that the current administration wishes to bury is in the headlines.


shocked. shocked I say.
posted by stenseng at 10:57 AM on October 18, 2005


Hey, one attack is a statistical blip -- if we applied the same methods used to test for problems in ordinary industrial life, it'd be negligible.

We should require an effects test, not an intent test, for harm to people.

Why is someone who "hates our freedom" more dangerous than someone who "loves our money" doing the same kind of damage -- when the one who "hates freedom" does it one time and runs away, while the one who "loves money" does it over and over for decades?

Business as usual does damage that if they were done "with the intent" of the result, would be called terrorism.

"If you visit American city
You will find it very pretty
Just two things of which you must beware
Don't drink the water and don't breathe the air."
-- Tom Lehrer, "Pollution"

Vinyl Chloride is detected in the ambient air in excess of established standards up to 1.5 miles from Vinyl Chloride industrial facilities .... Elevated Vinyl Chloride values in the ambient air were detected on September 6, 2004 at all five monitoring stations: Farnsley Middle School 0.2 ppbv, LPFTC 0.17 ppbv, Ralph Avenue 0.13 and 0.11 ppbv, Cane Run Elementary School 0.11 ppbv and Chickasaw Park 0.07 ppbv .... ... the authors are hiding serious violations of ambient standards by burying them in long term average values. .... (PDF, 2004)
posted by hank at 11:20 AM on October 18, 2005


Soft Target Attacks?

no, soft targets attack!

(disclaimer: i do know these guys but i promise this isn't self-promotion...)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:44 AM on October 18, 2005


nervousfritz's comment is the best I've read on MeFi in a week. Just sayin'.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:27 PM on October 18, 2005


Y'know, I often think that about nervousfritz's comments :)
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:49 PM on October 18, 2005


"What we need to do is run models of such attacks,"
posted by nervousfritz at 10:38 AM PST on October 18 [!]

"We should require an effects test, not an intent test, for harm to people."
posted by hank at 11:20 AM PST on October 18 [!]


Er, no offense, but I don't know if you folks're being facetious or not (in light of the fact that very often recently actual attacks have coincided with drills and simulations).

But we do/have in fact run models and test things (pretty much a wet dream for an RPG and/or strategy gamer).
There was even a tiger team that simulated terrorist attacks and scenarios that got in trouble for being over the top a bit back.


*yeah, that's right: "folks're". Just call me Humpty.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:58 PM on October 18, 2005


kidding (and derailing in general) aside, although i agree there's a tendency to be too alarmist about the threat of soft target attacks in the US (especially on the part of various parties with something to gain from the hype), the possibility is real. am i worried about it? not especially. because statistically, the odds are in my favor. what does worry me, though, is stuff like this... at least, taking the story at face value, this kind of thing doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence in our ability to respond to a large-scale biological attack should one occur...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:09 PM on October 18, 2005


Here is how secure your nation is. I could fly in tomorrow and with maybe $5,000 could wreak havoc for about three solid months without being caught. I could detonate IEDs, snipe randomly at law enforcement individuals and civilians and generally scare the living shit out of a good 75% of the population (without even being in the same timezone). Anyone with a modicum of training could do it with virtually no difficulty at all. Purchasing an untraceable rifle is as easy as cake, making and setting explosives is also simple. Even not getting caught is easy if you have an eye for basic sanitisation and forensic practice. I would wager there are at least 10-20 people on MeFi perfectly capable of running a single person covert guerilla war on the people of the US for several months without discovery.

The fact that a bunch of Islamic terrorists (feel free to substitute your bogeymen de jour) hasn't done this doesn't mean it can't happen. It also doesn't mean that anyone need live in fear. If they really wanted to terrorise you they'd set a bunch of IEDs off in various crowded malls in the middle of the USA. The social effect would be massive compared to the piddly casualty rates (please don't assume from this I do not care for my theoretical dead - trust me when I say that their theoretical faces keep me up at night). Overnight security conscious civilians would go nuts, you'd see mosques torched and vandalised and the government would take the opportunity to push even more disgraceful laws through a cowed congress.

The fact that they haven't done this does not mean that they can't. This shouldn't be seen as some sort of congratulatory statement about the "flypaper effect" in Iraq, all your doing there is toughening up the flys, showing them what you can do (and more to the point showing them your weaknesses). When they decide to attack the USA they will not have trouble doing it. Who knows whether they will decide to make a big effort like 9/11 or if they will try and really fuck with the US economy by randomly bombing some shops? Nobody. Just go about your daily lives and look out for traffic coming the other way. It's way more likely to top you than some random guy in a headscarf.
posted by longbaugh at 5:28 PM on October 18, 2005


Another bomb scare about the Harbor Tunnel? Feh, they've been having those since at least the '70s. And from the article pollomacho linked to it sounds like somebody's snitching out ex-friends he owes money to or something; I predict this will be another unsubstantiated bullshit rumor from an unnamed source that we won't hear anything more about -- except in Republican speeches to renew the Patriot Act or get one of 'em re-elected. You know, "Senator Aloysius Foddlesmurf is concerned about YOUR safety!" With of course not a peep about how it turned out to be slander from some kid over a chat-root set-to or whatever.

Why would "terrorists" bother to actually do anything to us when our own politicians and media poisonalities frighten us enough already? What's changed since "9/11" is this country has become a nest of craven castratos addicted to their own campfire fear and cultivated helplessness. "BOO!"

And nervousfritz, if you bottle some of that wit I'll buy a dram or two.
posted by davy at 6:19 PM on October 18, 2005


I have a better idea--have a device that sprays stinky manure throughout the shopping mall, making everyone go home.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:24 PM on October 18, 2005


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