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August 10, 2006 12:03 AM   Subscribe

[Newsfilter] Terror plot disrupted. Scotland Yard has arrested about 18 potential terrorists who were planning to blow up UK to USA flights mid-air. The UK threat level is now critical - "an attack is expected imminently". And there's chaos at the airports where hand luggage has been banned from all flights.
posted by featherboa (506 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The cynic in me wonders if the UK conservative party is coming up for election soon.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:27 AM on August 10, 2006


"potential"?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:30 AM on August 10, 2006


The list of things people are allowed to take on the plane appears to be arbitrary and badly thought out.

- contact lenses, but no solutions. WTF?

- according to the list, I cannot take a book, a toothbrush or even a stick of gum on a flight.

- only 'essential' travel documents, i.e. passport and ticket. What about my travel insurance policy? If I put it in my suitcase, and the case is lost, how do I know who to contact to make a claim?

I travel to the US regularly and am fairly savvy about getting through security with a minimum of fuss. As a solo traveller, I can pare my carry-on down to the minimum. But the majority of Brits flying from the UK are families on charter flights to Europe for their annual fortnight in the sun. I anticipate massive chaos at the charter airlines check-ins.
posted by essexjan at 12:33 AM on August 10, 2006


So now that hand luggage is banned, can we skip lining up for the metal detector and X-ray machine now?
posted by Jimbob at 12:33 AM on August 10, 2006


"expected imminently"?

Christ. If they know enough about it to expect it imminently, can't they just stop it?

All those threat levels are nonsense, if fact. It's an attempt to appear quantitative about something that's impossible to quantify. What does a "highly likely" terrorist attack mean, anyway? 90% chance of attack within the next 12 months? 12 days? Hours?

It's fucking meaningless.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:35 AM on August 10, 2006


Clearly a plot by Dell to sell more notebook computers. (as the baggage handlers will destroy hundreds of checked notebooks).
posted by b1tr0t at 12:35 AM on August 10, 2006


No contant lense solutions or other liquids because liquid explosives are suspected. They're even saying on BBC24 baby milk is banned unless you demonstrate (i.e. drink it) it is safe.
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:41 AM on August 10, 2006


It's fucking meaningless.

"We believe that these arrests have significantly disrupted the threat, but we cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted," said the US homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff.

Purely on the face of it, this position seems quite reasonable to me.
posted by Wolof at 12:58 AM on August 10, 2006


Clearly a plot by the US Checked-Baggage Handlers Union looking for over time pay.
posted by shoepal at 12:59 AM on August 10, 2006


They have presumably found a group of people making bombs in a flat. These measures will be precautionary in case they haven't found all involved. In the circumstances I can understand why they have been implemented.
posted by bap98189 at 1:00 AM on August 10, 2006


Wolof writes "Purely on the face of it, this position seems quite reasonable to me."

It's reasonable, but it's inconsistent with the wording describing the threat level, which speaks to certainty ("imminently expected") rather than the claimed uncertainty.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:00 AM on August 10, 2006


For those travelling with an infant: baby food, milk (the contents of each bottle must be tasted by the accompanying passenger)

I'm thinking pre-expressed milk ..... and seeing an unsympathetic check-in clerk.
posted by strawberryviagra at 1:02 AM on August 10, 2006


Do we have a dial as well as the US now? Is it colour-coded? And how much fear and misinformation does it need before it starts to flash?
Sounds like another stab at security in the world, a gesture that keeps us on our toes, but keeps us thinking less..
posted by fsimeta at 1:03 AM on August 10, 2006


It's reasonable, but it's inconsistent with the wording describing the threat level, which speaks to certainty ("imminently expected") rather than the claimed uncertainty.

Agreed, the wording is exceptionally poor.
posted by Wolof at 1:07 AM on August 10, 2006


No b1tr0t it's a plot by Ryanair to get more money from checked in baggage.
(Ryanair is an Irish airline that charge for every bag you check into the hold).
posted by bap98189 at 1:08 AM on August 10, 2006


I presume the range of explosives which could:-
a) Have enough power to terminate a plane in flight (or at least cause a level of damage beyond "humiliatingly inconsequential" for a suicide bomber wannabe).
b) Be reliably carried onto a plane through security checks - even assuming on-plane final assembly.

is quite small?
posted by rongorongo at 1:08 AM on August 10, 2006


The cynic in me wonders if the UK conservative party is coming up for election soon.

The puzzled Metafilter reader in me wonders what on earth this is supposed to mean.
posted by flashboy at 1:11 AM on August 10, 2006


Security at Canary Wharf is jumpy this morning. First time I've seen the vehicle blockers raised since coming to work here.

Purely on the face of it, this position seems quite reasonable to me.

I think the point that is being made is that there appears to be little sense in raising 'threat levels' retrospectively with the announcement that a terror plot has been foiled. Were they meaningful in any way they ought rightly to have been raised prior to the disruption of the cell and lowered after this morning's announcement. I accept that for operational reasons that this is impracticable but I have some sympathy with the fucking meaningless comment above.

A frightened population is a pliant population. We're back at tanks round Heathrow and the Power of Nightmares, aren't we?
posted by dmt at 1:12 AM on August 10, 2006


Just announced on Sky News - Heathrow closed to all incoming and outgoing flights.

No 'liquids' to be brought on-board. Baby milk allowed - if tasted by a security officer(!).
posted by metaxa at 1:15 AM on August 10, 2006


I think the point that is being made is that there appears to be little sense in raising 'threat levels' retrospectively with the announcement that a terror plot has been foiled.

I think that foiled is the media's term. The Home Office is just announcing hightened restrictions and arrests regarding a plot.

Just announced on Sky News - Heathrow closed to all incoming and outgoing flights.

That's odd because the Heathrow spokesman not 30 seconds ago didn't mention a thing about it.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:18 AM on August 10, 2006


Purely on the face of it, this position seems quite reasonable to me.

Turn in your Metafilter posting credentials at the door, Wolof.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:20 AM on August 10, 2006


That's odd because the Heathrow spokesman not 30 seconds ago didn't mention a thing about it.

There it was, in black and white (well, red and white) on the screen 'Do not turn up for flights from LHR'. If I had the ability to take a screen grab, I would.
posted by metaxa at 1:21 AM on August 10, 2006


I think that foiled is the media's term. The Home Office is just announcing hightened restrictions and arrests regarding a plot.

I could be wrong about that thought.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:22 AM on August 10, 2006


Wow, Tony Blair is pulling out the big guns in his desperate attempt to regain credibility. I guess once you get into bed with George W. you are forced to follow his lead straight to hell.
posted by sic at 1:22 AM on August 10, 2006


Airlines could use this as a way to make more money by selling stuff onboard. Do you need baby care supplies? Contact lens solution? Toiletries? The cart will be coming down the aisle in ten minutes.
posted by pracowity at 1:24 AM on August 10, 2006


The Heathrow spokesman just said, "Don't come to Heathrow if it is not essential." He did not say not to come at all. I think I'd listen to him rather than Rupert Murdoch.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:24 AM on August 10, 2006


Wow, Tony Blair is pulling out the big guns in his desperate attempt to regain credibility.

WTF? Tony Blair arranged the terror attempt
from his holiday in the West Indies?

Has anyone ever seen Tony Blair and Dr. Evil in the same
room together?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:27 AM on August 10, 2006


The BBC has the Heathrow closure news - only incoming flights not already in the air though.
posted by jontyjago at 1:28 AM on August 10, 2006


The Heathrow spokesman just said, "Don't come to Heathrow if it is not essential." He did not say not to come at all. I think I'd listen to him rather than Rupert Murdoch.

Yes, because advice isn't worth listening to if it's spoonfed to you from a news conglomerate, no matter how good that advice is.

Seriously, there's *no* chance of anyone who's due to fly out of Heathrow today actually getting on a plane. You may as well stay at home.
posted by metaxa at 1:29 AM on August 10, 2006


From the Heathrow Airport website
"Important Message

10th August 2006 08:22

Due to the heightened security at UK airports, the BAA website is currently experiencing a high level of people visiting the site for information.

All BAA airports remain open but passengers should expect delays.

For further information on the security restrictions (link to BAA media statement)"


And from the BBC twenty minutes ago
" Passengers are being asked to be patient when facing delays

Heathrow Airport has been closed to all incoming flights that are not already in the air, following a police anti-terror operation.

Stringent security measures have been put in place at airports across the UK.

Passengers are being asked to check in all hand baggage except for some essential items and travellers are experiencing long delays.

Flights from Brussels to all London airports have been cancelled. Lufthansa has also cancelled flights to the UK.

BAA strongly advises all passengers not to travel to Heathrow airport unless the journey is essential and there is an increased police presence at London Underground stations leading to the airport.

Long delays

Heathrow management took the decision to close to all flights not already in the air due to the congestion at the airport.

Manchester Airport have said there are delays on all flights of between one and three hours.

Donald Morrison, a spokesman for BAA at Glasgow Airport, said there would be delays at security for all passengers. "
posted by talitha_kumi at 1:30 AM on August 10, 2006


Wow... talk about a cynical crowd...

I think the boys at the Yard have done well and are warning people that it is possible that they weren't able to stop everyone involved... Imminent is about as best as you can describe it... there were people that were going to do this today and some of them could still be out there... and if there are still those out there who mean to do harm, that's pretty imminent to me...

They must have specific knowledge of the possible use of a liquid explosive to be making these requirements... it sounds horrid to make a mother taste her own breastmilk, but a taste is all that is required... you don't have to guzzle the bottle...

I may have more thoughts later... but it is 0332hrs and I'm tired...
posted by WhipSmart at 1:33 AM on August 10, 2006


I think security levels are stupid as a means of informing the populace, but don't they also serve to let emergency personnel know what level of security they are currently enforcing?

The Home Office site on threat levels says "The system also helps the police and other law enforcement agencies determine how they should respond to, and prepare for a terrorist incident." So it seems more of a way of saying that security should be batshit-insane for a while because a terrorist strike seems inevitable.

This part of "threat levels" always seemed reasonable to me, but perhaps I have too much trust in the government's intelligence capabilities.
posted by ztdavis at 1:34 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


I for one look forward to my Monday flight from Heathrow to Arizona. Surely this will all have blown over by then, right?

...right?
posted by papakwanz at 1:35 AM on August 10, 2006


Better this than fishing body parts and wreckage out of the Atlantic.
posted by bwg at 1:36 AM on August 10, 2006


This would have to happen in the middle of international conference season for our company. I've got two staff members supposed to fly out from Stansted tomorrow morning. Couldn't the buggers have waited until next week or something?
posted by talitha_kumi at 1:37 AM on August 10, 2006


Airlines could use this as a way to make more money by selling stuff onboard. Do you need baby care supplies? Contact lens solution? Toiletries? The cart will be coming down the aisle in ten minutes.

That's exactly what the Easyjet spokesman on the Today programme said, words to the effect that 'we will of course make refreshments available throughout the flight'.

Also of note on the Today programme: advice not to fly from the US today, on the grounds that the security services there didn't know what they were doing (citing a recent Washington Post exposé which I don't seem to be able to find).

The cynic in me wonders if the UK conservative party is coming up for election soon.

I'm mystefied by this comment, too. Do you think that the Conservatives control the security services when not in power, or something?
posted by jack_mo at 1:37 AM on August 10, 2006


Better this than fishing body parts and wreckage out of the Atlantic.

Couldn't agree more.
posted by jontyjago at 1:37 AM on August 10, 2006


So, they have arrested 18 men but they don't think these are the ones who will be doing the terror thing on the planes?
I am not sure I follow the reasoning behind messing up travel at all the airports, or even Heathrow.
It is hard to see this as anything other than a waste of everyone's time and emotional energy. If they don't think attacks are imminent what is the point in all the disruption?
posted by asok at 1:38 AM on August 10, 2006


asok, I think they may believe that it is possible that they didn't arrest all of the people involved, that some may have not come up in the investigation or the possibility that another cell will take over seeing that this particular one was apprehended... it seems a reasonable statement given the circumstances...

Better this than everyone celebrating and breathing a sigh of relief that "they got them" while planes start falling from the sky...
posted by WhipSmart at 1:40 AM on August 10, 2006


wow,

the tin hat brigade are out in force this morning. It seems reasonable to me to be cautious when you've just foiled a terrorist plot in case you missed people who might just act anyway.

In any case I would prefer over reaction than under reaction. So what if flights are disrupted for a couple of days. I only wish they overreacted when they where tailing two of the London bombers a couple of years ago.
posted by johnny novak at 1:42 AM on August 10, 2006


So, they have arrested 18 men but they don't think these are the ones who will be doing the terror thing on the planes?

Say they managed to arrest 18 and there are 40 total. They seem to be fairly sure there was a plot but not entirely sure they've arrested everyone involved, so they're just making it impossible for anyone they didn't arrest to continue the plot. Simple redundancy.

On preview, ditto on WhipSmart.
posted by ztdavis at 1:42 AM on August 10, 2006


Are you angry yet? Welcome to the rest of your life. This is just the beginning. Your children will live in a police state. The "terrorists" won the moment that fucking shithead Bush rode into Iraq with his fuckwit buddy Blair riding shotgun.

We're in a fistfight with a big, angry, wasps' nest. The interests of the individual wasps are of no concern, just the survival of the colony as a whole. There is no way at all to protect against a cloud of angry wasps. We just keep swinging stupidly and shouting at the air, while the wasps go about doing the thing that they are programmed to do: Inflict pain on the perceived aggressor.
posted by Optamystic at 1:45 AM on August 10, 2006 [6 favorites]


Better this than fishing body parts and wreckage out of the Atlantic.

Couldn't agree more.
posted by jontyjago at 1:37 AM PST on August 10 [+]
[!]

Yes we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud over Heathrow after all!
posted by sic at 1:55 AM on August 10, 2006


This adds a new color to the missing egyptian story from the other day...coincidence?
posted by Osmanthus at 2:08 AM on August 10, 2006


Although this is a good time to do an attack on the UK/US as regards sympathy amongst the Muslim community who might see the situation in Lebanon as another attack on Muslims, why would a group continue with their plan when they have been half busted? Why do they think that it is possible to get a bomb on board in cabin baggage now, was this impossible yesterday?

Why would you bother trying to get stuff onto a plane when anyone can walk into Heathrow with a trolley full of bags and blow up the entire departure lounge. I suppose it is a challenge.

If they have been following these people for months, maybe they have some idea what they look like?

Let's hope it doesn't turn out to be yet another mistake by the Yard. Their credibility is at stake (again). On the other hand, let's hope it is all a storm in a teacup.

Maybe it's an elaborate plot to give us an incling of what it might feel like to be in Lebanon at the moment.
posted by asok at 2:08 AM on August 10, 2006


departure lounge check-in area
posted by asok at 2:10 AM on August 10, 2006


I don't see how anyone can say that the authorities are over reacting here. A potential plan to blow up nine planes simultaneously using liquid explosives sounds pretty serious to me.
posted by gfrobe at 2:10 AM on August 10, 2006


I would argue that Optamystic's wasps nest is interested in rather more than Dubya and co. If you listen to their pronouncements, their quarrel with the West runs deeper than foreign policy (though I agree it has been provacative) or social exclusion (which also exacerbates this in the UK). What is scary is if you listen closely and read their ideological texts (check out some Al Banna or Qutb) you can see it is an existential question - they hate liberal democracies and open, tolerant societies as both run contrary to a global, theocratic fascist project. When I was at Uni during the Freshers Fair there I was shocked to see fellow students handing out leaflets that could have come from the Third Reich and got curious to what it was all about. This plot come from a similar place...

As others have said, better to be disrupted than dead. Though no matter what, I am sure plenty of Gallowayistas will find a way to see it as some kind of liberation struggle (or MI5 conspiracy etc etc, Yawn.).
posted by The Salaryman at 2:17 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


.
posted by public at 2:19 AM on August 10, 2006


The cynic in me wonders whether this is a cunning plot to get the check-in areas of all UK airports to fill up with people so that when someone standing in the middle of the crowd detonates a bomb in the un-checked-in suitcase they've got in their trolley will kill/main the maximum numbers of people. Reports on the radio are talking about crowds so dense at Gatwick that people can't get off the moving escalators. It reminds me a little of the IRA bomb that went off at one end of a busy street, and then another went off ten minutes later at the other end of the same street, thereby catching all the people who'd just run away from the first one.
posted by talitha_kumi at 2:19 AM on August 10, 2006


talitha_kumi - I hope you are wrong.
posted by handee at 2:21 AM on August 10, 2006


Fun fact: The UK home secretary John Reid used to be a communist.
posted by randomination at 2:22 AM on August 10, 2006


Better this than fishing body parts and wreckage out of the Atlantic.

Fun fact: The UK home secretary John Reid used to be a communist.
posted by dmt at 2:29 AM on August 10, 2006


I hope so too. The death toll if that happened would be awful. The crowds are apparenty so bad that there's major health and safety risks already just from the number of peple in one place. Hillsborough crowd crush anyone?
posted by talitha_kumi at 2:29 AM on August 10, 2006


"Fears of a Parallel Terror Group"

Tomorrow is my last day at a job that had me on a plane to somewhere in Europe every day of the week. For the last four weeks (my notice period) I've been parked in the office, doing pretty much nothing and surely enjoying not flying a great deal.

Heathrow is not fun even when things are running smoothly. My sympathies to anyone caught up in this.
posted by Mutant at 2:30 AM on August 10, 2006


I think security levels are stupid as a means of informing the populace, but don't they also serve to let emergency personnel know what level of security they are currently enforcing?

Correct me if I am wrong but didn't the Government recently merge the public and official warning systems into this single, unified one?

Oh, and to all the haterz: you just don't get it. Now where have I heard that before?
posted by ninebelow at 2:31 AM on August 10, 2006


Fun fact: The UK home secretary John Reid used to be a communist.

Many senior members of the British Labour party who are now ardent Blairites were, for instance Jack Straw.
posted by dmt at 2:33 AM on August 10, 2006


The Salaryman You rock. A voice of clarity amongst all the noise.
posted by vac2003 at 2:33 AM on August 10, 2006


From your link, ninebelow:
The home secretary yesterday gave the thinktank Demos his strongest hint yet that a new round of anti-terror legislation is on the way this autumn by warning that traditional civil liberty arguments were not so much wrong as just made for another age.

"Sometimes we may have to modify some of our own freedoms in the short term in order to prevent their misuse and abuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy all of our freedoms in the modern world," he said.
No. Just, no. Who was it that said that people who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither?
posted by talitha_kumi at 2:35 AM on August 10, 2006


The Salaryman writes "I would argue that Optamystic's wasps nest is interested in rather more than Dubya and co."

Very true. But Dubya and Tony have proven themselves to be excellent recruiting tools. (heh).

Mass murder is insanity. Systemic, organized, mass murder-suicide doubly so. It takes a highly motivated individual to commit to such a course of action. Motivation such as seeing daily photos of fellow Muslim civilians killed by American, British, and Israeli forces. Prisoners tortured, women raped, families murdered in cold blood. Those images and stories will be remembered for many years to come. We are fucked, our children are fucked, and their children are probably fucked, too.

Sleep tight.
posted by Optamystic at 2:36 AM on August 10, 2006


pessamystic
posted by johnny novak at 2:47 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Dear Lord, I hate Heathrow with the fire of a thousand suns. I have never once had a smooth, convenient time flying into, through, or out of that damned airport. I can't imagine what it must be like now. And my home airport is LAX, to give you some idea of my threshold for tolerating inconvenience.

On the other hand, I can just imagine the carnage produced by even a small bomb going off in that godawful communal holding pen Heathrow seems to call a waiting area. Or in the un-fucking-believably long customs lines.

As a bonus, I'm flying from LAX to OTP Bucharest in just under 12 hours. I can only hope the US hasn't yet flipped its shit over this. I'd at the very least like to take a book on the flight.
posted by quite unimportant at 2:51 AM on August 10, 2006


Remember when tanks patrolled Heathrow airport in February 2003, five weeks before the start of the Iraq war?

The then home secretary, David Blunkett, was reported by his biographer as being furious at the tanks' deployment. He ordered their withdrawal.

I don't know who ordered the tanks. Blunkett says it wasn't him, which seems as good a reason as any to believe the government was involved somehow. But now I find it discomforting to hear that John Reid, far from standing aside from the police as is his job, has taken the opportunity of the current situation to call for even more civil-liberty-busting legislation.

Who said "democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend"? It breaks my left-wing heart to admit it was Margaret Thatcher.

Our government has got to stop granting 'terrorists' more publicity than they deserve and they have got to stop meddling with the police.
posted by randomination at 3:11 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


From the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority:
Effective immediately by order of the TSA, passengers may not bring liquids or gels of any size at the security checkpoint or in the aircraft cabin - including beverages, shampoo, suntan lotion, toothpaste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency. Such items may be transported in checked baggage. Passengers may have baby formula, breast milk, or juice if a baby or small child is traveling. Passengers may also have prescription medication labeled with a name which matches the name on the passenger's ticket, insulin, or other essential non-prescription medications. Beverages purchased beyond the security checkpoints must be consumed before boarding the aircraft. For further information, please go to www.tsa.gov. Thank you.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:26 AM on August 10, 2006


Beverages purchased beyond the security checkpoints must be consumed before boarding the aircraft.

Some people are going to be regretting picking up that cheap litre of duty free vodka.
posted by biffa at 3:30 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Why would you bother trying to get stuff onto a plane when anyone can walk into Heathrow with a trolley full of bags and blow up the entire departure lounge. I suppose it is a challenge.

Actually, asok, its difficulty is part of the point -- as if to say no matter what security measures you employ, and I'd posit that air travel has had the most beefing up since 9/11 of all public spaces, they can still strike and kill there. "Your modern attempts at safety are useless and pointless. Feel our wrath regardless of what you do."

Remember when war was about two armies fighting over a plot of land? Ah, the good ol' days.
posted by incessant at 3:33 AM on August 10, 2006


But emphasizing how easy it is to get to anyone in the public arena would be just as effective as getting through tight security cordons. I'm surprised no-one's trying to blow up shopping centres more often. Oxford Street's got to be a tempting target.
posted by talitha_kumi at 3:36 AM on August 10, 2006


they hate liberal democracies and open, tolerant societies as both run contrary to a global, theocratic fascist project.

To an extent, that may be true. Permissive societies suck if you want to ban the sight of women, for example. But this isn't happening in Denmark (or Sweden or Iceland or Canada or Australia or Japan or...), is it? It isn't Copenhagen airport being shut down. It looks like someone specifically wants Americans and their "special relationship" buddies to feel a little of the terror that people in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere feel.
posted by pracowity at 3:37 AM on August 10, 2006


Here comes the draft.
posted by Marla Singer at 3:41 AM on August 10, 2006


[...] as if to say no matter what security measures you employ ... they can still strike and kill there

So far, at least, that tact doesn't seem to be working. So far.
posted by CodeBaloo at 3:42 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


A few disconnected thoughts... How many think that the airline industry (or business travel in general) would survive if these bastards were succesful in executing another large scale attack on, or using, commercial airliners? With all the talk about attacks on chemical plants and the power grid, this still seems like the most obvious place for another strike in terms of terror, economic impact, etc. No reason to believe it's not for real... at this point.

The occasional cynicism on this thread is disappointing (but entirely understandable, given the shoddy way the Administration has conducted its War on Terror(tm) and managed Homeland Security communications), there still are actually people out there that mean to kill us in numbers, lest we forget.
posted by psmealey at 3:49 AM on August 10, 2006


U.S. Threat Level has not been raised, of course. Since there is no presidential election coming up... (Although you'd think with the mid-terms they'd be on the ball. Oh well)
posted by delmoi at 4:04 AM on August 10, 2006


Um, the utter lack of detail regarding the plot seems really dubious. It really sounds like another attempt to whip 'em up in to a fearful frenzy on both sides of the pond. This administration is so heinous that my doubt threshold is pretty much shot when it comes to whether this may be some sort of political theatre.
posted by moonbird at 4:09 AM on August 10, 2006


Scotland Yard has arrested about 18 potential terrorists

This is factually incorrect. And premature. This is a criminal investigation and Scotland Yard has arrested individuals in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation.

Those arrested -- Blair, Reid, Britain's police notwithstanding -- under British law remain innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:11 AM on August 10, 2006


yeah, exactly, delmoi... I just checked the US threat level at the DHS -- and it's the first time I've ever checked it... It hasn't been updated since August 5th?? Is Washington asleep? WTF? Shouldn't it be raised NOW? I mean ORANGE tells me who to vote for in the Fall.
posted by mhh5 at 4:11 AM on August 10, 2006


Some people are going to be regretting picking up that cheap litre of duty free vodka.

There's nothing else to do so you might as well drink it while waiting in the 4 hour queue.
posted by bap98189 at 4:19 AM on August 10, 2006


Mister Bijou - yes, of course you're right, that's why I put "potential" in there, but I realise it wasn't clear. In my defence, I'd just woken up and I was all freaked-out from hearing it on the radio.
posted by featherboa at 4:21 AM on August 10, 2006


Bully for Scotland Yard!!!!
posted by spirit72 at 4:27 AM on August 10, 2006


Wow, the terror color code thing is still around? Who knew? It sort of disappeared after the 2004 election for some reason.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:27 AM on August 10, 2006


I guess the US threat level has been raised now.. for just UK flights to the US.
posted by mhh5 at 4:27 AM on August 10, 2006


Pracowcity, I think you will find that the Danes picked up some heat (literally if you count Embassy and NGO office burnings) over those unfunny cartoons. The UK has long been the European base of Islamism for a variety of reasons and its supporters have been allowed to run riot more than in other EU states for another set of complex reasons. The US has been seen as the 'leader' of Western barbarism in Islamist ideology (seriously, check the texts) since the 1940s, followed by the UK (think of its long association with Middle Eastern elites) Sayyid Qutb had many of his key epiphanies in Greeley, Colorado.

One can argue about how foreign policy can be a spark, but the fuel of the fire is what many seem unable to confront or understand. There was a lot of this terrorism going on before 9/11 (Paris Metro, anyone?). Turn down the emotion about recent wars and look deeper. This hate is more about how we live, love and are than many are prepared to admit.
posted by The Salaryman at 4:30 AM on August 10, 2006


Remember when tanks patrolled Heathrow airport in February 2003, five weeks before the start of the Iraq war?

Seems somewhat useless. What is a tank going to do at an airport?

I don't know who ordered the tanks. Blunkett says it wasn't him, which seems as good a reason as any to believe the government was involved somehow.

Of course, in the US people use the word "government" to mean anything paid for with tax money. The idea of something not the government sending tanks to the airport seems rather strange :P
posted by delmoi at 4:30 AM on August 10, 2006


Either we live with this "security" approach forever, and I throw my iPod and all my books in the hold, or we go back to flying as I remember it. If it's the former, and this is Just How It Is Forever, I'll believe this is a genuine security measure, not a PR stunt from the perpetual warriors. However, if this passes, then it's no more than the shoe bomb response: a temporary, ill-thought-through reaction that does nothing either for our security or our transit arrangements.
posted by imperium at 4:31 AM on August 10, 2006


WTF? Shouldn't it be raised NOW?

The national threat advisory was raised over at tsa.gov.
posted by quite unimportant at 4:32 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think the point that is being made is that there appears to be little sense in raising 'threat levels' retrospectively with the announcement that a terror plot has been foiled.

I think raising the alert falls somewhere between genuine concern that there may still be co-conspirators unaccounted for, and a pure cover-your-ass exercise.

At the moment we are all thankful to the authorities, and rightly so, for having stopped this massacre in its tracks.

However imagine what would happen if they thought they had gotten everyone, had announced it, and then 3 planes were blown up straight away afterwards because of relaxed security? Bad news all around.
posted by LondonYank at 4:33 AM on August 10, 2006


Some people are going to be regretting picking up that cheap litre of duty free vodka.

There's nothing else to do so you might as well drink it while waiting in the 4 hour queue.


The last thing the English need is any kind of encouragement wrt getting drunk. The guys with machine guns in the airports aren't actually there to protect you from terrorists, it's to subdue the drunken yobs coming and going from the Costa del Sol
posted by Flashman at 4:34 AM on August 10, 2006


Turn down the emotion about recent wars and look deeper. This hate is more about how we live, love and are than many are prepared to admit.

Look deeper? Why not just ask these people what's upsetting them? I think you'll find it mostly has to do with the Israeli aggression in the region. As an aside, an (al-qaeda) terrorist attack in the US/UK would really be bad for Hizbollah and the Lebanese, as it would probably (unfairly, IMO) sour western sympathy for the civilian casualties there.
posted by delmoi at 4:35 AM on August 10, 2006


"Um, the utter lack of detail regarding the plot seems really dubious."

Well, I'm willing to give the authorities more than the nine hours or so it's been since the arrests to fill in the blanks. If more details aren't released by this evening (GMT), I'll start to be suspicious.
posted by Mutant at 4:37 AM on August 10, 2006


I can't wait until you have to strip naked, have your anal monitoring probe inserted, and submit to a polygraph before getting your boarding pass.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:37 AM on August 10, 2006


The national threat advisory was raised over at tsa.gov.

Still yellow at DHS.gov. Heh.
posted by delmoi at 4:37 AM on August 10, 2006


how come nobody has mentioned Bojinka yet?

multiple bombings, liquid explosive "converted fourteen bottles of contact lens solution into bottles containing nitroglycerin"

they have known that terrorists planned using liquid in bottles 11 years ago. why suddenly stop all liquids in carry-on now? why not 11 years ago? or 5 years ago? will liquids be "safe" in a few months time when this blows over?
posted by toffee at 4:40 AM on August 10, 2006


Here comes the draft.

I kinda doubt that'll happen, Marla, n the US, at least. The military would rather have people who -- initially, anyway -- are there because they wanted to be, and volunteered, out of whatever motivations, than people who are there because they didn't want to go to jail instead. That means the US pool of military recruits is missing out on a lot of college-bound upper-middle-class kids, but it's also missing out on a lot of snivellers and lowlife oxygen thieves too.

/derail

I'm waiting for a suicide bomber realizing he can hit a Greyhound/Trailways bus station in a big city at the beginning of a holiday weekend. Or a food court at a suburban shopping mall at lunchtime.
posted by pax digita at 4:42 AM on August 10, 2006


why would a group continue with their plan when they have been half busted?

I can see how it would get you extra points actually. "Look, they arrested half of us and we still followed through." Who knows, though.

I find the general sentiment in this thread that this is some sort of fake-out by the UK government quite puzzling. Do you really not believe that there are people currently plotting to blow up civilians in the UK, US, and pretty much everywhere else? That seems, frankly, like willful ignorance.

And regarding the civil liberties issues, I don't see currently any special rush to limit them, unless you consider the right to fly with contact lens solution a fundamental civil right. To me, this sounds like the government in still trying to figure what the plan was and who was doing what. Sure, the terror alert thing is a little CYA, but cracking down on liquids carried onto planes after learning of a specific plot to use liquid explosives is pretty logical considering the circumstances.

Almost my entire family flew back to the US from London two days ago from attending a Bar Mitzvah of my cousin. I'm pretty damned glad that the UK security services are actually investigating credible threats, as opposed to the US ones, which seem more interested in setting out press releases alerting terrorists to possible targets in Indiana.
posted by miss tea at 4:44 AM on August 10, 2006


Of course, in the US people use the word "government" to mean anything paid for with tax money. The idea of something not the government sending tanks to the airport seems rather strange :P

Interesting. I don't want to stray off-topic, but in the UK at least the theory is that government != police. A crucial part of our architecture is the clear division between those who make the laws and those who enforce and interpret them.

Our government seems to be blurring these lines. Once the police and the state have their hands in one another's pockets, you get a police state. Which is what we seem to be wandering into.

The last thing the English need is any kind of encouragement wrt getting drunk.

I live four miles from Heathrow and the only positive aspect to today's news is that I can sit quietly in my back garden with a bottle of wine without being interrupted by low-flying planes.
posted by randomination at 4:46 AM on August 10, 2006


Delmoi, one could argue that is a spark (though given the nature of UK based Islamism it is unlikely Shia oriented groups are involved), though Lebanon is probably too recent to have figured much in their planning, but it is still not the fuel. What kind of societies do these movements want to create and why? Why do issues like Lebanon usually figure much less in most Islamist rhetoric than wider issues? This is what I mean by looking deeper.
posted by The Salaryman at 4:48 AM on August 10, 2006


Featherboa, no sweat. May you spend the rest of the day unfreaked.

Thanks to you, I checked with the BBC News webpage and discovered they are currently streaming News 24. Cheers!
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:49 AM on August 10, 2006


This is an excellent opportunity to have:

  • Due process
  • Explanation of the evidence leading the authorities to learn of this dastardly plot
  • A fair trial

    Pretty sad that these days, I really don't expect the US or UK governments to ever come through with this sort of thing. "We foiled a terror plot" seems to always turn into "we are going to illegaly detain some brown guys for a few years, and I think they once said they'd like to kill people, so they're bad people, just trust us."

  • posted by rxrfrx at 4:54 AM on August 10, 2006


    Do you really not believe that there are people currently plotting to blow up civilians in the UK, US, and pretty much everywhere else? That seems, frankly, like willful ignorance.

    When your only source of information is the government, and the government has misled you on this subject so many times before, you tend to stop believing uncorroborated information of this type.
    posted by rxrfrx at 4:55 AM on August 10, 2006


    > Either we live with this "security" approach forever, and I throw my iPod and all my books in the hold,
    > or we go back to flying as I remember it.

    Just get used to staying where you are. Mass air travel is on the way out, terrorism or no terrorism. Aircraft emissions are hideously bad for the planet and utterly dependent on a wasting resource that will only become scarcer and scarcer. Take this advance opportunity to rearrange your life so as not to depend on flitting hither and yon. If you wait, one day you'll look up and discover you're living by raising chickens in the alley behind your flat.
    posted by jfuller at 5:00 AM on August 10, 2006


    I find the general sentiment in this thread that this is some sort of fake-out by the UK government quite puzzling. Do you really not believe that there are people currently plotting to blow up civilians in the UK, US, and pretty much everywhere else? That seems, frankly, like willful ignorance.

    Well, there have been quite a few bogus arrests and over-reactions that have happened in the US and Canada since 9/11, the government has just cried wolf too many times. But I think there would be a much higher risk in the UK then the US.
    posted by delmoi at 5:05 AM on August 10, 2006


    Yeah, I think the scepticism from here in the UK is less that this is some entirely invented theatrical production on the part of the security services and the government, more that we've absolutely no confidence that this isn't yet another cock-up based on bad intelligence and a willingness to see terrorists around every corner.

    It's perfectly understandable when you consider the recent record of high-profile "terrorist incidents" in the UK - Jean Charles de Menezes (not a terrorist); the Ricin plot trial (there was not Ricin plot); the Old Trafford bomb plot (there was no Old Trafford bomb plot); the Red Mercury plot trial (there was no Red Mercury plot because Red Mercury is an entirely fictional substance); and most recently, the Forest Gate shooting (there were no terrorists, there were no chemical weapons, there might have been some kiddie porn).

    If this was the real thing, then a big woo yay to the good folks of the security services, and thank goodness the hideous bastards didn't manage to carry their plan out. But it's an entirely understandable and reasonable response to recent history if your first instinctive reaction is, "yeah, right."
    posted by flashboy at 5:10 AM on August 10, 2006


    Agreed, Delmoi. I don't mean to dismiss what's gone over here, or imply that I condone guantanamo or any of the other horrible violations of human rights and the US Constitution this administration has perpetuated since 9.11. But considering that there already were subway attacks in London, it just seems like an odd "knee jerk" response to dismiss the idea that the reports of a plot are valid out of hand.
    posted by miss tea at 5:11 AM on August 10, 2006


    The military would rather have people who -- initially, anyway -- are there because they wanted to be, and volunteered, out of whatever motivations, than people who are there because they didn't want to go to jail instead.

    You mean people like the Aryan Nation?

    "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," the group quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, www.splcenter.org. "That's a problem."

    The report quotes Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator, saying, "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members."
    posted by Fuzzy Monster at 5:14 AM on August 10, 2006


    If you wait, one day you'll look up and discover you're living by raising chickens in the alley behind your flat.

    Yup. Happened to me once.
    posted by Flashman at 5:17 AM on August 10, 2006


    The TSA Assistant Secretary just broke it down: no liquids on the plane, de-clutter your bags, and "enjoy your trip."
    posted by tsarfan at 5:19 AM on August 10, 2006


    Amazing how this comes out the day after Lieberman loses, right in the heart of primary season.

    We can't question the president. We're at war.

    Nevermind Tony Blair facing a backbench rebellion over Lebanon

    I wish I didn't have to think this way. But the Bush and Blair administration have this track record of pulling stunts when the news is going against them.

    I would not be surprised to find this was completely fake.

    Now, flying is going to be hell, people with no understanding of risk will piously intone that "we need to do this, the risk is too high" and will continue to die in the thousands from smoking, heart problems and car wrecks.

    I presume the TSA will be walking behind me, holding a lightning rod over my head, given that *lightning* has a better chance of killing me than a terrorist attack.
    posted by eriko at 5:25 AM on August 10, 2006


    I would argue that Optamystic's wasps nest is interested in rather more than Dubya and co. If you listen to their pronouncements, their quarrel with the West runs deeper than foreign policy (though I agree it has been provacative) or social exclusion (which also exacerbates this in the UK). What is scary is if you listen closely and read their ideological texts (check out some Al Banna or Qutb) you can see it is an existential question - they hate liberal democracies and open, tolerant societies as both run contrary to a global, theocratic fascist project.

    This may be true in some cases, but I don't think it's the statistical norm. First up, because until US troops turned up in Saudi Arabia terror attacks by Saudi Arabians on US soil were conspicuous by their absence. Second up, because for all the rhetoric there have been nearly three decades since the Islamic Revolution in Iran and we're still waiting for the first Iranian citizen to attack. The line between religion and mental illness is certainly a pretty thin one at times, but in general suicide terror seems to have fairly clear strategic aims. Robert Pape has analysed a mess of suicide bombings on this.
    posted by tannhauser at 5:26 AM on August 10, 2006


    This is an excellent opportunity to have:

    # Due process
    # Explanation of the evidence leading the authorities to learn of this dastardly plot
    # A fair trial


    Except, in the UK, the proper response to a terror suspect is to pump several 9mm bullets into his body at close range.

    Right?
    posted by eriko at 5:27 AM on August 10, 2006


    Now, flying is going to be hell, people with no understanding of risk will piously intone that "we need to do this, the risk is too high" and will continue to die in the thousands from smoking, heart problems and car wrecks.

    True. That'll happen regardless, though, of whether this thing turns out to be real or not.

    At the end of the day, the only thing we can trust in (hope for) is the professionalism of good people at Scotland Yard and the FBI, and hope their efforts aren't being torpedoed by political nonsense, as well as our own common sense.
    posted by psmealey at 5:31 AM on August 10, 2006


    i_am_a_jedi: You took the words right out of my mouth.

    I'm a bit young, so I am asking honestly, but what was the reaction like after PanAm flight 103 blew up? All this no liquids, no books, on the heels of no toenail clippers, leave your suitcase unlocked stuff just seems stupid and arbitrary to me. The word "terrorists" is used in hushed whispers the way "boogeyman" is used to get your kids to shut up and go to sleep at night.

    And pax digita, there are plenty of middle-class white people in the military, both college-bound, and those who have had at least some college, if not already degree-holders, looking to capitalize on the GI Bill and the Student Loan Repayment Program. I'm a little offended the way people who don't know constantly characterize the military as exclusively poor go-to-war-or-go-to-jail members of the underclass.
    posted by Hal Mumkin at 5:33 AM on August 10, 2006


    From The New York Times
    . . . Vice President Dick Cheney . . . went so far as to suggest that the ouster of Mr. Lieberman might encourage "al Qaeda types."
    Next day, MASSIVE TERROR THREAT.
    posted by eriko at 5:33 AM on August 10, 2006


    Is this the last nail in the coffin for airlines that have been teetering on the brink of economic collapse anyway?
    posted by gimonca at 5:34 AM on August 10, 2006


    At the end of the day, the only thing we can trust in (hope for) is the professionalism of good people at Scotland Yard and the FBI

    I don't know about the UK, but if that's our only hope, we are Seriously and Utterly Fucked.

    I seem to recall the fuckwad that gunned down that guy in the tube was London Met, not Scotland Yard. Maybe there is a liittle hope for the UK -- unless Blair decides this is how he gets ID cards rammed through.
    posted by eriko at 5:36 AM on August 10, 2006


    Amazing how this comes out the day after Lieberman loses

    eriko, your tinfoil helmet has slipped from "reasonable paranoia" to "I am mental".
    posted by ninebelow at 5:36 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Some people are going to be regretting picking up that cheap litre of duty free vodka.

    I don't know, they're guaranteed to sleep through their flight, even without an ipod, and as a bonus they probably won't remember the hassle of queuing to get on the plane anyway.
    posted by jacalata at 5:38 AM on August 10, 2006


    It's perfectly understandable when you consider the recent record of high-profile "terrorist incidents" in the UK - Jean Charles de Menezes (not a terrorist); the Ricin plot trial (there was not Ricin plot); the Old Trafford bomb plot (there was no Old Trafford bomb plot); the Red Mercury plot trial (there was no Red Mercury plot because Red Mercury is an entirely fictional substance); and most recently, the Forest Gate shooting (there were no terrorists, there were no chemical weapons, there might have been some kiddie porn).

    I was just compiling this exact list. The "plot" is utter bullshit until proved otherwise.
    posted by cillit bang at 5:40 AM on August 10, 2006


    Except, in the UK, the proper response to a terror suspect is to pump several 9mm bullets into his body at close range.

    The BBC are reporting that 21 people have been arrested - in a manner, no doubt in accordance with due process. Many of them may be tried and the story of what happened today will become evident then. If they aren't tried they will be released.

    I understand the cynicism that a lot of people, particularly Americans, have about this sort of terror alert. However it is simply overestimating the competence of Government to assume that this sort of thing is some sort of dasterdly plot to boost support for wars elsewhere or whatever. Simply too many people are involved for this to take place without a real basis.

    You might be cynical about the timing but even that would be very difficult to influence without the risk of discovery - and the political risks of being caught misleading the public or using the security services for political purposes would far outweigh any benefit. Occum's Razor applies as much to politics as to science!
    posted by prentiz at 5:41 AM on August 10, 2006


    I seem to recall the fuckwad that gunned down that guy in the tube was London Met, not Scotland Yard

    Scotland Yard = London Met
    posted by cillit bang at 5:42 AM on August 10, 2006


    Yeah, that's it, eriko. It's that damned vast right-wing conspiracy.

    Fuzzy Monster, don't forget to mention all the other gang members joining the military and then using military tactics upon returning to "thug life", also. Oh wait, I just saw your reference was the SPLC... nevermind, they probably accidentally forgot to mention those gang members.
    posted by CodeBaloo at 5:43 AM on August 10, 2006


    Really, Prenitz. Look at what your Home Secretary is saying.
    The majority of the public understood its seriousness but there were those who "just don't get it", whose opposition was undermining the struggle. They included:

    · Politicians who opposed the anti-terror measures the police and security services said were necessary to combat the threat.

    · European judges who passed the "Chahal judgment" that prohibited the home secretary from weighing the security of millions of British people if a suspected terrorist remained in the UK against the risk he faced if deported back to his own country.

    · The media commentators who "apparently give more prominence to the views of Islamist terrorists rather than democratically elected Muslim politicians like premier Maliki of Iraq or President Karzai of Afghanstan".
    Amazing, just amazing, how he says this yesterday, then today, MAJOR TERROR THREAT.

    Here's what you need to be thinking about.
    The home secretary yesterday gave the thinktank Demos his strongest hint yet that a new round of anti-terror legislation is on the way this autumn by warning that traditional civil liberty arguments were not so much wrong as just made for another age.
    HM Government has stated, quite clearly, that those civil liberties you're citing need to be changed. And, amusingly enough, the next day, a MAJOR TERROR THREAT appears, to show why things like due process, access to consel, and freedom of speech are just things that help the terrorists.

    I always thought that Ingsoc was over the top, but this is exactly how it happens, and the first step just happened, today.

    Just watch what gets tabled when Parliament sits again.
    posted by eriko at 5:49 AM on August 10, 2006


    Scotland Yard = London Met

    Ahh. In which case, I'd rather take my chances with the bombers, thank you.
    posted by eriko at 5:50 AM on August 10, 2006


    Salaryman- you write as if these ideas are beheld by the majority of Muslims - they are not. Just as the ideas beheld by the Bush administration on how to fight it are beheld by the majority of Americans or non-Muslims. What we have here are a small radical minority on either side dominating the dialogue. 99% of Muslims do not want to destroy Western society, just as 99% of Westerners do not want to destroy Islam.

    Why do we continue to allow the 1% bent on world domination to dictate the actions of the majority? Because just like Clinton said - in politics "wrong and strong" will always trump "weak and right". We need a worldwide populist uprising to end these corporate sponsored wars of avarice disguised as culture wars.
    posted by any major dude at 5:52 AM on August 10, 2006


    Turn down the emotion about recent wars and look deeper. This hate is more about how we live, love and are than many are prepared to admit.

    According to the theory presented in The Power of Nightmares (transcripts) documentary the contempt for non-fundamentalist societies was not born out of thin air.
    Their reasoning was forged in a crucible of CIA propagated torture:

    Egypt, 1954 VO: Torturers who had been trained by the CIA unleashed an orgy of violence against Muslim Brotherhood members accused of plotting to overthrow Nasser. At one point, Qutb was covered with animal fat and locked in a cell with dogs trained to attack humans. Inside the cell, he had a heart attack.

    VO: Qutb survived, but the torture had a powerful radicalizing effect on his ideas. Up to this point, he had believed that the Western secular ideas simply created the selfishness and the isolation he had seen in the United States. But the torture, he believed, showed that this culture also unleashed the most brutal and barbarous aspects of human beings. Qutb began to have an apocalyptic vision of a disease that was spreading from the West throughout the world. He called it jahilliyah—a state of barbarous ignorance. What made it so terrifying and insidious was that people didn’t realize that they were infected. They believed that they were free, and that their politicians were taking them forward to a new world. But in fact, they were regressing to a barbarous age.


    Following Qutb came Zawahiri:

    AYMAN ZAWAHIRI , in cage, shouting: Now, we want to speak to the whole world! Who are we? Who are we? Why did they bring us here? And what we want to say? About the first question: we are Muslims! We are Muslims who believed in their religion, in their broad feelings, as both an ideology and practice. We believed in our religion, both as an ideology and practice. And hence, we tried our best to establish [unintelligible] Islamic state and Islamic society!

    VO: At the trial, Zawahiri was sentenced to three years in prison, along with many others of Islamic Jihad. He was taken to cells behind the Police National Museum, where, like Sayyed Qutb, he was tortured. And under this torture, he began to interpret Qutb’s theories in a far more radical way. The mystery, for Zawahiri, was why the Egyptian people had failed to see the truth and rise up. It must be because the infection of selfish individualism had gone so deep into people’s minds that they were now as corrupted as their leaders. Zawahiri now seized on a terrible ambiguity in Qutb’s argument. It wasn’t just leaders like Sadat who were no longer real Muslims, it was the people themselves. And Zawahiri believed that this meant that they too could legitimately be killed. But such killing, Zawahiri believed, would have a noble purpose, because of the fear and the terror that it would create in the minds of ordinary Muslims. It would shock them into seeing reality in a different way. They would then see the truth.


    Wanted: Financial backer for global Islamic Jihad movement, megalomaniacs prefered.

    But there was a deep rift within the Islamist fighters based in Peshawar—between the moderates, led by Abdullah Azzam, who believed this revolution could be accomplished politically; and the extremists, like Ayman Zawahiri, who saw violent revolution as the only way. And Zawahiri now set out to extend his influence over the movement, and to undermine Abdullah Azzam. To do this, he seduced Osama bin-Laden—and his money—away from Azzam. He promised bin-Laden that he could become the emir, the leader of Zawahiri’s small extremist group, Islamic Jihad.

    This kind of extremism is matched by the US and UK with their 'bomb them into democracy' crusade which engenders further extremism.

    Do you really not believe that there are people currently plotting to blow up civilians in the UK, US, and pretty much everywhere else? That seems, frankly, like willful ignorance.

    There are people all over the world reconcidering the use of violence as a means to an end as a result of the new millenium of war-mongering on the part of the US/UK. They are leading by example.
    What is needed is to make the idea of using violence to acheive ones goals less attractive, most people realise that violence is self defeating. The radicalisation of public opinion in the UK has been lead by the government and the compliant press. The situation in the US is not much different.

    Just call me y2karl, I will take it as a compliment.
    posted by asok at 5:55 AM on August 10, 2006 [3 favorites]


    preferred, milennium and plenty of others no doubt.
    While I am in a quoting mood, here's Jonathan Freedland on the situation in Labanon:
    The result is that the core conflict has been allowed to fester. Had it been solved, or even if there had been a serious effort to solve it, the current crisis would have been unimaginable. Instead Bush's animating idea has been that the peoples of the Middle East can be bombed into democracy and terrorised into moderation. It has proved one of the great lethal mistakes of his abominable presidency - and the peoples of Israel and Lebanon are paying the price.
    posted by asok at 6:03 AM on August 10, 2006


    If I can't bring my mp3 player and book on a plane, then the terrorists have won.

    :-(
    posted by jaded at 6:04 AM on August 10, 2006


    prentiz, once again, much of the scepticism here has nothing to do with overestimating the compentency of the government - the suspicion is of cock-up, not conspiracy. I can't speak for the tinfoil couture brigade, but for my part, the instinct to shout "bollocks" at this is merely a gut reaction based on the fact that it has so often been bollocks before. It may well not be bollocks. But you'd be a fool if you didn't at least consider the bollocks option a possibility.

    The BBC are reporting that 21 people have been arrested - in a manner, no doubt in accordance with due process... If they aren't tried they will be released.

    The trouble is that no, this simply isn't the case. Due process has been violated repeatedly in recent times. People can be detained indefinitely without trial at the will of the Home Secretary. The Ricin plot suspects were acquitted in court, released, then re-arrested almost immediately on the say so of the Home Secretary.

    ...and the political risks of being caught misleading the public or using the security services for political purposes would far outweigh any benefit.

    Yeah, they might get re-elected, like the last time they were caught doing those things.
    posted by flashboy at 6:06 AM on August 10, 2006


    I'm waiting for a suicide bomber realizing he can hit a Greyhound/Trailways bus station in a big city at the beginning of a holiday weekend. Or a food court at a suburban shopping mall at lunchtime.

    Or that he can board a Docklands Light Railway train (there are no ticket barriers on the DLR) and travel all the way into Canary Wharf, bypassing the security checkpoints that stop every car that wants to get onto the estate, and blow the place up. Or travel on the DLR to Bank, in the heart of the city of London.
    posted by essexjan at 6:06 AM on August 10, 2006


    CodeBaloo, you're right that other gang members use tactics they've learned in the military, but white supremacists are joining up specifically to learn the tactics of domestic terrorism, all on the U.S. tax payer's dime.

    Here's another SPLC link:

    Military extremists present an elevated threat both to their fellow soldiers and the general public. Today's white supremacists become tomorrow's domestic terrorists.

    "Neo-Nazi groups and other extremists are joining the military in large numbers so they can get the best training in the world on weapons, combat tactics and explosives," said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project.

    "We should consider this a major security threat, because these people are motivated by an ideology that calls for race war and revolution. Any one of them could turn out to be the next Timothy McVeigh."
    posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:08 AM on August 10, 2006


    prentiz: The BBC are reporting that 21 people have been arrested - in a manner, no doubt in accordance with due process. Many of them may be tried and the story of what happened today will become evident then. If they aren't tried they will be released.

    Unless the Home Secretary comes up with some other illegal bullshit to keep them locked up/under house arrest as he has with other people who have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism in the UK in recent years. Eight people were locked up without charge for over 4 years in high security facilities, when the Law Lords finally ruled that to be illegal John Reid had them placed under an 18 hour a day curfew, which was then also ruled illegal. He's now imposed 14 hour curfews instead. (Last week in fact, so maybe he's thinking some laws need toughening up.)

    It's also difficult to see how the De Menezes or the Abul Kahar Kalam cases followed due process, but at least the second was only shot and wounded in the total absence of any evidence of wrongdoing.

    Have you been hiding under a rock?
    posted by biffa at 6:09 AM on August 10, 2006


    fuckwad that gunned down that guy in the tube

    Incidentally, they are back on the job without any criminal proceedings or indeed disciplinary action on the part of the police.
    posted by asok at 6:10 AM on August 10, 2006


    I love the way The Power of Nightmares gets quoted again and again as authority for the absence of a militant Islamic threat - watch it again. It doesn't say that. It documents rather nicely the views and the threatful potential of militant islam (as several posters ironically note with their comments on the Muslim Brotherhood, etc) What it does deny is the existence of an organised group with a specific history called Al Qaeda as anything other than an invention of the Western intelligence agencies. So, hands up anyone who still believes in an Al Qaeda = Islamic SPECTRE now? The almost universal vision is of a de-centred "brand" - but that doesn't make it any less threatful, in fact it can make it more so (because of the home-grown autonomous nature)
    posted by A189Nut at 6:11 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    If I can't bring my mp3 player and book on a plane, then the terrorists have won.

    Regardless of the lists on the news first hand testimony says you can still bring books onboard: "I was allowed to hang onto books if they could be carried loose."
    posted by ninebelow at 6:13 AM on August 10, 2006


    I love the way The Power of Nightmares gets quoted again and again as authority for the absence of a militant Islamic threat...

    Yeah. Who did that in this thread? Oh, that's right. Nobody.
    posted by flashboy at 6:14 AM on August 10, 2006


    Flashboy - I'm not ruling out cock up at all - I'm merely saying that a deliberate conspiracy of the type some people are suggesting is very unlikely.

    Eriko Are you seriously suggesting that, if this is a conspiracy on the part of the Government to bring in more repressive legislation they would carry it out the day after a speach on the subject! In fact the fact that this plot has been allegedly identified and dealt with without further restrictions on our civil liberties could be seen as an argument against restrictions.

    Don't get me wrong - I have no doubt that the Government is planning more draconian legislation in this areas and we must be vigilant in opposing it - but the idea that someone in an office in Whitehall says "We need a terrorist outrage on Thursday to support our legislative programme" and puff, one appears, is fantasy.
    posted by prentiz at 6:20 AM on August 10, 2006


    Thread level elevated to batshitinsane.
    posted by NewBornHippy at 6:22 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    How the hell am I going to get my snake on the plane now?
    posted by essexjan at 6:23 AM on August 10, 2006 [5 favorites]


    It appears (from a simple random sample) that the immediate reaction of about 15-20% of MeFiers is to assume that any terror plot must actually faked by the government, for any variety of nefarious reasons. That is scary.

    Other news from the Interweb:

    US raises its alert to red for the first time.

    The plot involved liquid explosives.

    And Drudge (I know, I know) is reporting that those held are of Pakistani descent, for whatever that is worth.
    posted by blahblahblah at 6:24 AM on August 10, 2006


    Hannah Pillinger, 24, seemed less concerned by the announcement. "Eight hours without an iPod, that's the most inconvenient thing," she said, waiting at the Manchester airport. (quote from this)
    posted by poppo at 6:29 AM on August 10, 2006


    A similar plot was foiled in Manila in 1995 - Oplan Bojinka.
    posted by riotgrrl69 at 6:30 AM on August 10, 2006


    And Drudge (I know, I know) is reporting that those held are of Pakistani descent, for whatever that is worth.

    Oh shit, we better send some more nukes to India!
    posted by sonofsamiam at 6:32 AM on August 10, 2006


    I love how our leaders are somehow always smart enough to not be near it.

    msnbc.com says blair is in the carribean "on holiday"
    msnbc.com says bush is on his ranch in texas for vacation
    posted by bmpetow at 6:34 AM on August 10, 2006


    I didn't know they recycled in the UK?

    Operation Bojinka from Cooperative Research Commons:
    Responding to an apartment fire, Philippine investigators uncover an al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the Pope that is scheduled to take place when he visits the Philippines one week later. While investigating that scheme, they also uncover Operation Bojinka, planned by the same people: 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. [Independent, 6/6/2002; Los Angeles Times, 6/24/2002; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/2002] The first phase of the plan is to explode 11 or 12 passenger planes over the Pacific Ocean. [Agence France-Presse, 12/8/2001] Had this plot been successful, up to 4,000 people would have been killed in planes flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, and New York. [Insight, 5/27/2002] All the bombs would be planted at about the same time, but some would be timed to go off weeks or even months later. Presumably worldwide air travel could be interrupted for months. [Lance, 2003, pp. 260-61] This phase of Operation Bojinka was scheduled to go forward just two weeks later on January 21. [Insight, 5/27/2002]
    posted by rzklkng at 6:34 AM on August 10, 2006


    Grrr...what rrrriotgrl said. /sulks.
    posted by rzklkng at 6:35 AM on August 10, 2006


    BREAKING NEWS: The liquid explosives involve some sort of combination of minty fresh mentos and some sort of diet cola product. Updates will be posted as information is made available...
    posted by blue_beetle at 6:37 AM on August 10, 2006


    Amazing how this comes out the day after Lieberman loses, right in the heart of primary season.

    Bahahahahahahahahaha! *wipes eyes* Thanks for the laugh, eriko! You made my morning.
    posted by pardonyou? at 6:39 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    I love how our leaders are somehow always smart enough to not be near it.

    Right, because otherwise they would be flying coach class out of Heathrow
    posted by blahblahblah at 6:39 AM on August 10, 2006


    rzklkng: i mentioned bojinka earlier in the thread, so rrrriotgirl can /sulk as well ;)
    i can't believe the media are not making the connection here. first thing that sprang to mind when I heard about it.
    posted by toffee at 6:41 AM on August 10, 2006


    If Pakistanis are involved, then we must bomb Iran.
    posted by bardic at 6:43 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    15-20% of MeFiers is to assume that any terror plot must actually faked by the government, for any variety of nefarious reasons. That is scary.

    You know, I'll agree. But I live in a country where terror threats have been consistently and repeatedly used for political gain.

    We haven't seen the threat level change once since the 2004 elections, until now -- in the leadup to the 2006 midterms, just after a noted supporter of the president was defeated in a primary election.

    Teresa Nielsen Hayden said it best -- "I resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist" -- But only a fool believes them when they say this is a real threat. They have lied about that before, and the timing was always to their advantage. Now, in the face of a major defeat, bam, MAJOR TERROR ALERT. Suddenly, Ned Lamont isn't on the radar at all.

    It is quite amazing that just as the GOP is ramping up the "Lamont victory proves the Democrats are soft on terror" campaign, this large attack magically appears, our threat level leaps, yadda yadda yadda.

    There's an old saying -- you make your own luck. BushCo and BlairCo are the luckiest people I know.
    posted by eriko at 6:46 AM on August 10, 2006


    From the previous Bojinka plot:
    The first phase of the plan is to explode 11 or 12 passenger planes over the Pacific Ocean. [Agence France-Presse, 12/8/2001] Had this plot been successful, up to 4,000 people would have been killed in planes flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, and New York.

    For the current plot, I didn't get the impression that these explosives were meant to go off over the water; rather, the thinking is that they would have been detonated once the planes were over a metro area, and since these flights were US-bound, that the detonations would have taken place over US cities, thus potentially creating huge ground casualties.
    posted by LondonYank at 6:46 AM on August 10, 2006


    ...is reporting that those held are of Pakistani descent

    Don't remember where I read it, but I saw Brits of "asian descent" I think.
    posted by CodeBaloo at 6:52 AM on August 10, 2006


    CodeBaloo - "asian descent" here can mean Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Indian as well as south east asian.
    posted by handee at 6:53 AM on August 10, 2006


    It is quite amazing that just as the GOP is ramping up the "Lamont victory proves the Democrats are soft on terror" campaign, this large attack magically appears, our threat level leaps, yadda yadda yadda.

    If this had happened on any of the previous 1000 days, you would still be on here saying how it was amazing timing.
    posted by riotgrrl69 at 6:56 AM on August 10, 2006


    BBC said mostly British-born of Pakistani origin.
    posted by riotgrrl69 at 6:57 AM on August 10, 2006


    Yes LondonYank. Here on the news in Australia they've been reporting that the bombs were to be detonated above both UK and US cities.

    I'm as cynical as they come. But, I can't believe they would effectively shut down Heathrow unless there was a real threat.

    Or maybe we should just sit tight and hope nothing happens. At least we get to listen to our ipods.
    posted by Diag at 7:04 AM on August 10, 2006


    "major defeat"?

    Surely you can't still be talking about the Leiberman bit. Can you? I mean, really now. A guy beats the incumbent for a solitary congressional seat -- in a primary, no less, not even a real election -- when everyone (even the DNC) knows that he'll keep the seat anyway as an independent, and that is the so-called "major defeat" that nudged the vast right-wing conspiracy machine into gear prompting another country to pick out 21+ random citizens to arrest and shut down hundreds of flights at an astronomic economic cost -- all so they can raise the terror alert level? Riiiiight.
    posted by CodeBaloo at 7:05 AM on August 10, 2006


    Everybody is a potential terrorist.
    The 18 arrested are suspected terrorists.
    Once our paranoia reaches appropriate levels everybody will be a suspected terrorist.
    posted by spock at 7:06 AM on August 10, 2006


    I can't believe they would effectively shut down Heathrow unless there was a real threat.

    Not to overemphasize the point, but... they'll shut down Heathrow if they believe there is a real threat. And, right now, there's no reason to trust their beliefs.
    posted by suckerpunch at 7:07 AM on August 10, 2006


    "Pakistani descent" from a British source most likely means born in Britain but with Pakistani ancestry. It's not that uncommon, between 10-15% of the population my home town (Bradford) would qualify.
    posted by vbfg at 7:07 AM on August 10, 2006


    Given: Bush/Blair have been the best thing EVAR for terrorist recruitment.

    Result: Terrorists will want Bush/Blair-types to be (re)elected for as long as possible.
    posted by spock at 7:09 AM on August 10, 2006


    will continue to die in the thousands from smoking, heart problems and car wrecks.

    So the issue isn't that this is all becoming too much of a 'nanny state' but its not nanny state enough? Here in hell, Satan even makes sure you dont use too much toilet paper (theres been a shortage). Trust me, you dont want this.
    posted by the ghost of Ken Lay at 7:13 AM on August 10, 2006


    And, right now, there's no reason to trust their beliefs.

    So if the UK security forces are convinced that an event could occur, they should just shut up and see what happens?

    Is that what US security did on 9/11?

    I appreciate your point. But I don't really see any reasonable alternative to what is happening at the moment.

    (sorry, I won't reply - time for bed in my part of the world)
    posted by Diag at 7:16 AM on August 10, 2006


    So I turned on Air America radio just now, and there's a "terrorism expert" on hyping the threat: says it must be Al Qaeda (huh? no evidence of that), intricately planned attack (huh? no evidence of that), great detail (huh? no evidence of that), blah blah blah. I shut it off.

    The liberals in the U.S. still don't get it. All you have to do is poke them in their fear center, which is right next to the solar plexus, and they fall right in line with the message of the day.

    Proper response: have a civil liberties expert on, talking about the loss of freedom. Calculate the billions of dollars lost due to airport delays. Note that these plots wouldn't exist if the U.S. and its buddies Great Britain and Israel weren't bombing the snot out of Muslims every single day.

    How frigging hard is it? Isn't there ONE PERSON at Air America who understands framing and issues on a par with Karl Rove?
    posted by jellicle at 7:19 AM on August 10, 2006


    I love the way The Power of Nightmares gets quoted again and again as authority for the absence of a militant Islamic threat...

    Yeah. Who did that in this thread? Oh, that's right. Nobody.


    No? I count twice (and I didn't say just in this thread). Thanks for the contribution though.
    posted by A189Nut at 7:22 AM on August 10, 2006


    You can always find a way to hurt people if you're motivated enough. Life is a collision between responsibility and risk: The risk that someone else will take some simple and easy measure to harm you, and the responsibility that everyone has not to do that to anybody else.

    If terrorists have been planning a hit that would be interrupted by these measures, they'll simply hold off and wait until they're inevitably relaxed. Meanwhile, the simple fact of all the disruption and cost that they're causing will make the cleverer ones in their midst smile quietly in satisfaction.
    posted by lodurr at 7:28 AM on August 10, 2006


    (sorry, I won't reply - time for bed in my part of the world)

    So you're giving me the opportunity to get the last word in? Awesome!

    I appreciate your point. But I don't really see any reasonable alternative to what is happening at the moment.

    Neither do I. It's reasonable to accept this level of protection for now. There's no evidence in public view for a plot, but there's no evidence against, either. We have to trust Scotland Yard et al for today. When the details emerge, then it's time to make a judgement on whether or not this is a case of incompetency or not. And then, if it is, we'd better start raising hell.
    posted by suckerpunch at 7:28 AM on August 10, 2006


    *sips formula* "Hey! this tastes like diesel fuel!"

    All kidding aside- if this is legit, I'm glad that they caught them, but really, even if we get to the level of "nanny state", there's going to be another attack, and then another, and another. The time in between attacks may be lengthy, but everyday there isn't one, I'm surprised. I'm not terrorized, but I am aware that if people are motivated enough, it'll happen eventually.

    As others have said above, what I'm worried about now is the crowds of people with nowhere to run. Sitting ducks.

    (there is, of course, the other possibility, however cynical, that this is political; while I've seen enough in the U.S. to make that my default response, I somehow doubt that's the situation here- just intuition.)
    posted by exlotuseater at 7:29 AM on August 10, 2006


    Well I'd just like to add my voice to the "well done the lads at the yard" crowd.
    posted by ob at 7:31 AM on August 10, 2006


    msnbc.com says bush is on his ranch in texas for vacation

    That's not news - Georgie has taken more vacation time than any president in history.
    posted by davelog at 7:32 AM on August 10, 2006


    BBC said mostly British-born of Pakistani origin.

    Clearly that's a mistake. They're Iranian, of course; got to stick to the script.

    Do you really not believe that there are people currently plotting to blow up civilians in the UK, US, and pretty much everywhere else?

    No - but the question we never ask is, why are they doing this? What's their ultimate goal?

    To kill a few Americans/Brits? Maybe. Sure.

    To provoke America/Britain/The West into a specific response - a military response that, best case scenario, winds up wiping out as many Muslims as possible so that the terrorists can say - look, they are as murdereous as we said.

    Gee - ya think?

    One of these days I like to hope we'll stop dancing to Osama's tune, stop doing exactly what he hopes to goad us into at every turn. But we won't. We'll turn our socieities into police states in mortal fear of the shadowy threat he and other viral terrorist networks pose, turn on each other, and along with imperial overstretch it will all collapse - gently, one hopes, but maybe not.
    posted by kgasmart at 7:33 AM on August 10, 2006


    Here in Boston:
    Gov. Romney is placing the National Guard on active state duty. The State Police at Logan Airport are carrying automatic weapons and are conducting random searches of autos and luggage. The governor also has instituted a second level of screening at the airport to conduct passenger checks at each gate.

    Is National Guard deployment going on in other cities in the US?
    posted by madamjujujive at 7:34 AM on August 10, 2006


    A189Nut - No? I count twice (and I didn't say just in this thread). Thanks for the contribution though.

    No, The Power of Nightmares was quoted once to suggest that the genuine threat of Islamic fundamentalist violence was originally motivated by Western policies, and once in reference to the public reactions of Western government to genuine threats generally being of high visibility but low utility, in order to sustain fear.

    Nobody quoted it to deny the existence of a threat - quite the opposite. Get some comprehension skills before you bring the condescension.
    posted by flashboy at 7:35 AM on August 10, 2006


    A189Nut, can you point out where in this thread 'The Power of Nightmares gets quoted ... as authority for the absence of a militant Islamic threat'.

    Because as far as I can see it is mentioned twice and in neither post is it suggested that there is an absence of militant Islamic threat(s).
    posted by asok at 7:36 AM on August 10, 2006


    madamjujujive - So now, if the tunnels don't crush us on the way to the airport, we might just get shot while we are there? That's what we get with him running for President.

    I am flying from Logan tomorrow. Checking the website, no liquids or gels allowed on carry-on, including toothpaste.
    posted by blahblahblah at 7:37 AM on August 10, 2006


    Jellicle -- that would, indeed, be the way to spin it. Don't know if they have or not, but AA needs that bald weasely-looking guy Clinton had. He's obnoxious as Hell, but he certainly knows his craft and could wage a Rove-style PR battle. But, until they can figure it out, they remain a joke when compared to the right's radio presence.
    posted by CodeBaloo at 7:38 AM on August 10, 2006


    Five years now and Osama is still on the lam. When will Bush Co. be held accountable?
    posted by caddis at 7:38 AM on August 10, 2006


    A while back I worked at a job where a non-publicized (not secret, but not made a big deal of) security alert level was posted. It was interesting watching the public yellow orange red level change with security theater while the non-public one stayed constantly at level 1 of 3.

    It was called MARSEC, Maritime Security, and administered by the coast guard. (My job was covered because it was an industrial facility on a river, and the MARSEC level covered threats and security on land as well as sea.) The Coast Guard webpage has it. There were serious security responses to it, not just theater, as well, for example at level 3 they would send home the non-essential personnel. The Coast Guard site says it is related to the regular alert level, but I never saw it actually follow.

    I don't know if any other non-PR alert levels exist, but personally I'm not going to worry about "terrorist threats" until MARSEC goes up.
    posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:41 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Can somone explain to me the wisdom of declaring imminent threat and grounding airplanes, yet also leaving large crowds of stranded travellers still in the airports? Are these people not targets if there are still conspirators on the loose, as it were?
    posted by Zinger at 7:43 AM on August 10, 2006


    hums a ditty and attempts strenuously to keep his fat mouth shut.
    posted by the_savage_mind at 7:46 AM on August 10, 2006


    If this had happened on any of the previous 1000 days, you would still be on here saying how it was amazing timing.

    Perhaps you should investigate my comment history before assuming that I'm the guy out there supporting every conspiracy theory in the world.

    Oh, and what the hell. It's a bad day, I'm in pain, I've only used a sockpuppet once. Why not some random flaming.

    FOAD.

    "major defeat"?

    Yes, major defeat. Lieberman isn't nearly as useful to the GOP as an independant that he was as a Democratic senator. This was how the game was played.

    Bush proposes something that guts something.

    Democrats start to oppose.

    Lieberman stands up, supporting the president.

    The GOP goes on the press offensive, showing that even some Democrats (cue Lieberman quote) agree with them, it's just the Whacko Left Wing Liberal that's against the president.

    Opposition folds.

    Bush proposes next program that guts something.

    Losing Lieberman is a huge deal to the GOP. Now, the question is do they think they can get Lieberman in as an I, which means at least they don't lose his vote on the important things, like the next SC justice -- the one that gives them five solid votes, and means game over, as far as liberty is concerned.

    If the GOP really believed that Lamont's win would result in the destruction of the Democratic Party, don't you think they would have done everything they could to help him win?

    So, yes, Major Defeat. The GOP just lost the best Judas Goat they ever had. Zell Miller wasn't half as useful to the GOP as Holy Joe was, but he's useless to them as an Independant, because he can't appear on Fox News with that (D-CT) following his name anymore.

    So the issue isn't that this is all becoming too much of a 'nanny state' but its not nanny state enough?

    No, but I can see how you'd read that, so that's bad writing on my part. A better example. I think the TSA should have people walking behind us wherever we go, holding large poles over our heads, because you are far more likely to die from a lightning bolt hitting you than you are from a terrorist attack in the US.

    I don't object to spending money to save lives. I object to spending billions of dollars to save very few lives. Security is a budget process at the core -- if you had infinite resources, you could protect yourself from just about everything (mod the bad guy with infinite resources.)

    The liberals in the U.S. still don't get it. All you have to do is poke them in their fear center, which is right next to the solar plexus, and they fall right in line with the message of the day.

    A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.

    You're 100% correct in this, but don't think it is just the liberals. The far-right is just as bad as the far left on this, worse, in that they have no problem with thinking of other uses for all these new laws.

    The office manager, now also the "safety officer", who is very GOP, wants to put plastic and duct tape in the conference rooms, in case of a gas attack, but doesn't think escape ladders would be as useful, after all, we're on the third floor, the stairs are right over there. Apparently, you can walk through fire, but not gas.
    posted by eriko at 7:46 AM on August 10, 2006


    TheOnlyCoolTim: Looks to me as though the Coasties have just acknowledged that there will never be less than a siginificant risk.

    I mean, really: Does anyone think there will ever again be a "condition blue"? (Much less a "condition green.") On a personal scale, just walking to work in the morning is Orange, at least.
    posted by lodurr at 7:48 AM on August 10, 2006


    Georgie has taken more vacation time than any president in history.

    President Bush has taken more vacation time than some other presidents were president.
    posted by kirkaracha at 7:48 AM on August 10, 2006


    I find the general sentiment in this thread that this is some sort of fake-out by the UK government quite puzzling. Do you really not believe that there are people currently plotting to blow up civilians in the UK, US, and pretty much everywhere else? That seems, frankly, like willful ignorance.

    (i) There are a very small number of people even plotting.
    (ii) There is an even smaller number who plan to ever carry out any of these plots.
    (iii) Of those, only a very small number actually have a clue what they're doing.
    (iv) Of those, only a very small number will gather the materials necessary without getting caught.
    (v) Of those, only a very small have the will power to go through with it.

    Currently, our plotters are in category (i), at best*. The only people who pose a threat to anyone are in category (v). And most of them have blown themselves up already.

    (* remember there's also a category zero, which is innocent people the police hype as "plotters")
    posted by cillit bang at 7:49 AM on August 10, 2006 [3 favorites]


    Five years now and Osama is still on the lam. When will Bush Co. be held accountable?

    Considering the FBI don't seem to even want him (Osama, not Bush... that would just be wishful thinking) in connection with 9/11 I'd say.... never
    posted by twistedonion at 7:51 AM on August 10, 2006


    eriko: Applying cost-benefit analysis to risk? That's a pretty risky position you're taking. Not that I disagree with it...

    I'd just add, in case folks don't get your point, that making unwise decisions about risk-reduction expenditures can actually result in a net increase in risk. As has almost certainly happened in much of the West since 9/11/2001.
    posted by lodurr at 7:52 AM on August 10, 2006


    I don't understand why airliners are an ongoing target, considering the high security surrounding them. If maximizing casualties is the goal, there are many higher population targets with minimal security, if any. (...although merely threatening an airline attack sure does cost us a lot of money!)

    I suppose I should be grateful for terrorists' collective lack of ingenuity.
    posted by LordSludge at 7:52 AM on August 10, 2006


    The BBC just reported that an attempt to hijack a plane in Qatar has been thwarted, although they said that on news 24 and I can't see anything on the net yet...
    posted by ob at 7:52 AM on August 10, 2006


    Can somone explain to me the wisdom of declaring imminent threat and grounding airplanes, yet also leaving large crowds of stranded travellers still in the airports? Are these people not targets if there are still conspirators on the loose, as it were?

    Don't look to the Government for wisdom. As I get older I get more and more shocked at the stupidity of those who are supposedly superiors.
    posted by twistedonion at 7:53 AM on August 10, 2006


    (i) There are a very small number of people even plotting.
    (ii) There is an even smaller number who plan to ever carry out any of these plots.
    (iii) Of those, only a very small number actually have a clue what they're doing.
    (iv) Of those, only a very small number will gather the materials necessary without getting caught.
    (v) Of those, only a very small have the will power to go through with it.

    Currently, our plotters are in category (i), at best*. The only people who pose a threat to anyone are in category (v). And most of them have blown themselves up already.

    (* remember there's also a category zero, which is innocent people the police hype as "plotters")


    This is by far the best post in this thread.

    It is also something the news media would never allow anyone to utter on-air-- because it would actually ease people's fears.
    posted by wfc123 at 7:59 AM on August 10, 2006


    eriko, you summed it up beautifully in two simple words: "Opposition folds."

    And not only does the opposition cut-n-run, er, I mean "fold", it folds based on the whim of a single man.

    On preview: That damn Bush... he talked Qatar into it, too? He must be really shaken by the "major defeat". Damn him!
    posted by CodeBaloo at 7:59 AM on August 10, 2006


    Wow... talk about a cynical crowd..
    posted by WhipSmart at 1:33 AM PST


    Well, what SHOULD be the reaction to past lies of governements, false flag operations, and malcompentance?

    Should there be a firing of people, or promotions? Should nations that engage in false flag operations not be subjected to questioning?
    posted by rough ashlar at 8:01 AM on August 10, 2006


    bring on the falling airplanes. i'm tired of all the whining over those poopy-face israelites. it's time for some real excitement.
    posted by quonsar at 8:02 AM on August 10, 2006


    Of course with all the new restrictions, they're still letting cargo on the planes, and the vast vast majority of it still isn't screened nor inspected.

    Is this real? I've read the authorities had infiltrated this group for months already--why didn't they just arrest them all once they had the solid info and not shut down airports and stuff?

    Why does this stuff and the raising of the fear levels always happen when Bush is on vacation? Was there another PDB?
    posted by amberglow at 8:03 AM on August 10, 2006


    I've just got back from Heathrow.
    A round trip of several hundred miles.
    More people in the terminals than are strictly comfortable - if you've ever been to terminals 1,2 and 3, you'll realise how extraordinary it is to have the entire floor covered by cheek-to-jowl humanity, barely even standing room, definitely not "push my entire fucking house through an airport on a trolley" room.
    The queue for the ticket (refund) counter for BA stretched around the cordons, out of the airport into the carpark and on for probably a half mile.

    Mr Blair, please stop blithely responding to the calls from US special interests which only serve to forment anger, despair and hatred among the unlucky Muslim communities who get to find out about the consequences. If you do this to my next holiday, I' as wellm going to be seriously pissed, OK?
    posted by NinjaTadpole at 8:03 AM on August 10, 2006


    Currently, our plotters are in category (i), at best*.

    And you know this how, exactly? You're privy to the investigation?
    posted by pardonyou? at 8:04 AM on August 10, 2006


    cillit bang -- Good point. But I'd argue that there a lot (meaning thousands) of folks up thru level iii, and a significant number (a couple hundred?) at level v. That's kinda the core difference when it comes to libs and cons: to what extent should we go to make sure as few as possible reach level v and to neutralize those already there.
    posted by CodeBaloo at 8:04 AM on August 10, 2006


    It's also interesting that the people who are complaining the most about this being an overreaction to a hypothetical threat are also those who complain loudest about the administration's failures to prevent 9/11.
    posted by pardonyou? at 8:05 AM on August 10, 2006


    The far-right is just as bad as the far left on this, worse, in that they have no problem with thinking of other uses for all these new laws.

    See, a no-bid contract is not really socialist, because the entity getting paid is private. Even though there was no competition.

    Also, deficit spending is not taxation, because only future people have to pay it.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 8:07 AM on August 10, 2006


    Considering the FBI don't seem to even want him

    Look at the actions of Bush and Blair over the last five years. About the only way they could have encouraged terrorism more is by direct funding of Al-Queda.

    Currently, our plotters are in category (i), at best*

    Yes, and note that recently, the only ones we have proof of that went beyond Category (i) went all the way to Category (v), and all the vaunted efforts of Scotland Yard, et. al., failed to stop them.

    Meanwhile, there are plenty of apparent Category (i) that were, in fact Category (0). Some of them are now dead at the hands of Scotland Yard. Other continue to be held by bending every rule possible, while accusing anyone who dares complain about such as being almost coconspriators. We don't even know how many they might be, that's classified.

    Of course, that's a better situation than the US, were they just declare you an "enemy combatant."

    As to them being Pakistani, they'll be Iranian before the week is out, just as the 9/11 attackers are Iraqis.

    What really saddens me is not when did American become such cowards, it is why did the Brits become such cowards? The Continental US has been bascially untouched for well over a century. The Brits know what war is really like. They lived through the Blitz. They lived through the IRA1.

    Why are they cowering to this?

    1) Another example of why if Scotland Yard tells you it is raining, grab your sunglasses. It is trivial to get convictions when you can ignore civil rights -- why do you think the Home Secretary is so desperate to get rid of them?

    The anti-terror record of Scotland Yard is full of lots of things, but not justice. The idea of removing restraints from them should strike horror into any UK citizen.
    posted by eriko at 8:08 AM on August 10, 2006


    they hate liberal democracies and open, tolerant societies as both run contrary to a global, theocratic fascist project. -- the Salaryman

    Well, then it looks like they're doing a pretty good job eradicating liberal democracies from the planet, by forcing us to turn into a fascist project to protect us from....a fascist project?

    I'm with Optamystic. I'm pissed off that I have to live like this, and as far as I'm concerned, it's just as bad as being blown out of the sky. YES, I SAID IT. You know, if we just said "go ahead, blow up a few planes and buildings, we don't give a fuck and it's not going to change anything about how we live" THEY WOULDN'T DO IT ANYMORE. Because it wouldn't be getting them what they want, which is for us to be scared, and afraid to fly, and afraid to live freely in our open, tolerant society.

    Every time something like this happens, we run about like a bunch of scared rabbits, making people turn in their nail scissors and breast milk, then do some other damn stupid thing like invade a non-involved country or tacitly support a fucking ridiculous war. GOD DAMN IT TO HELL, when are we going to fucking figure it out?!?

    Sorry, I'm just pissed because I leave for Bermuda in a week to get married, and I won't be able to take my toiletries in carry-on, and they're going to search my bag and fuck up my dress, and then Delta is going to lose my luggage and I'll have to buy shampoo at the hotel gift shop.

    But seriously, for Christ's sake, people, when are we going to say "Enough is enough"? Can it be now?
    posted by jennaratrix at 8:08 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    It's also interesting that the people who are complaining the most about this being an overreaction to a hypothetical threat are also those who complain loudest about the administration's failures to prevent 9/11.

    I fail to see your issue. Or actually, I do, but it's a stupid one.

    The point is, this administration does not really give a damn about terrorism, that's their carte blanche for corporate handouts and consolidation of power.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 8:09 AM on August 10, 2006


    And you know this how, exactly? You're privy to the investigation?

    Oh, we don't know. But just last month, was there or was there not a trumped-up publicity bust of some Nauwabian "terrorists" in Miami?

    Fool me seven or more times...
    posted by sonofsamiam at 8:10 AM on August 10, 2006


    My parents went in with several family members and got a NetJets card.

    You could get one, with a few friends, for the price of a 1995 Camry.
    posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:11 AM on August 10, 2006


    What really saddens me is not when did American become such cowards ...The Continental US has been bascially untouched for well over a century.

    You just answered your own question.

    America, mentally, couldn't withstand what Britain had to endure during the Blitz or even with the IRA without turning into a full-blown fascist state.
    posted by kgasmart at 8:12 AM on August 10, 2006


    It's also interesting that the people who are complaining the most about this being an overreaction to a hypothetical threat are also those who complain loudest about the administration's failures to prevent 9/11.
    posted by pardonyou? at 11:05 AM EST on August 10


    Yeah it seems like the authorities are damned if they do and damned if they don't. There's a very good chance that the authorities in Blighty prevented an attack that would have resulted in huge loss of life. That to me doesn't warrant all this sneering. I know that governments have manipulated the terror threat before, but it would appear that this was a very grave threat (from what one can tell from this historical vantage point). Scotland Yard did what they're meant to do.
    posted by ob at 8:13 AM on August 10, 2006


    But I'd argue that there a lot (meaning thousands) of folks up thru level iii, and a significant number (a couple hundred?) at level v.

    You think there are hundreds of people out there with bombs sitting on their coffee tables just waiting for the right moment. Are you fucking crazy?
    posted by cillit bang at 8:14 AM on August 10, 2006


    I fail to see your issue. Or actually, I do, but it's a stupid one.

    My point had nothing to do with this administration. It had to do with hypocricy. You can't both say "You should have put the pieces together better and acted before 9/11" and "These plots weren't even very far along -- why all the disruption? This is just a scare tactic!"
    posted by pardonyou? at 8:16 AM on August 10, 2006


    BTW, I don't think there into terror. They don't want psychological damage, they want economic disruption. Close commerce for a couple weeks while they search every plane for threats that may or not be there.

    It's how Osama and company ground down the USSR in Afghanistan and eventually facilitated the collapse of Russia. They're executing the same plan now.
    posted by rzklkng at 8:17 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    "they are into terror"...
    posted by rzklkng at 8:17 AM on August 10, 2006


    My point had nothing to do with this administration. It had to do with hypocricy. You can't both say "You should have put the pieces together better and acted before 9/11" and "These plots weren't even very far along -- why all the disruption? This is just a scare tactic!"

    Acting before 9/11 would have taken nothing more than the FBI arresting the weirdoes the flight schools reported to them. No airports closed, no press conferences, no terror alerts - no one would need to know.
    posted by cillit bang at 8:22 AM on August 10, 2006


    And for those of you on the right who don't get why some of us are suffering from terror fatigue...
    Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
    posted by rzklkng at 8:23 AM on August 10, 2006


    My point had nothing to do with this administration. It had to do with hypocricy. You can't both say "You should have put the pieces together better and acted before 9/11" and "These plots weren't even very far along -- why all the disruption? This is just a scare tactic!"

    I understand your point perfectly well. Your objection presumes an argument that is not warranted.

    Had we not been beaten over the head for the last five years with multiple high-profile bogus "terrorism busts", there would be no skepticism. Everyone wants real terrorist plots to be stopped. Everyone wants comptenent law enforcement.

    The skepticism is a direct consequence of the politicizing that the has characterized the "war on terror" from day one.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 8:23 AM on August 10, 2006



    My point had nothing to do with this administration. It had to do with hypocricy. You can't both say "You should have put the pieces together better and acted before 9/11" and "These plots weren't even very far along -- why all the disruption? This is just a scare tactic!"


    When their actions show they still don't have the pieces in place, nor the security, and that they're doing everything in their power to foment more and more hatred towards us than ever before, you certainly can say it. We weren't prepared before 9/11, and we're less safe now and still not prepared. All the false and trumpeted "successes" and arrests have all been much ado about nothing. There's no confidence that they're actually prepared to stop this one, if it's real--terrorists aren't fools. Making us afraid is the only thing they're good at--not stopping terror plots.
    posted by amberglow at 8:24 AM on August 10, 2006


    You and your fancy airplanes and your fancy luggage compartments and your fancy single serve friends.

    Don't you deserve to travel in the style and luxury commensurate with your status? Consider instead, my friends, the grand steamships. White Star Line sets sails daily for New York City, the New World indeed.

    Ah, these are halcyon days. Evening balls, tuxedos and dinner with the captain. The odd iceberg and Nazi submarine are trifles in the face of the impeccable duck a l'orange. Afterwards, would you care to join us on the Club Deck for billiards and brandy? Of course you would.

    Or how about an airship! The dirigible is a vessel of both the noble and noblessed alike. Graf's Zeppelins truly are boats of air, sailing over the heads of the oxen and cattle, both animal and human. This is not travel, good sir, but a journey. Board with me the grandest of all, the 129. Oh, the gentility. Oh, the tranquility. Oh, the humanity.

    This could be you, my friends. Sailing the skies on a boat of air, dining on cabernet and foie, passing judgment on the socialists.

    So enjoy your airports, you sullen beasts of cubicled burden. Enjoy your fast food potatoes and ground beef sandwiches. Enjoy your pizzaed pies. Enjoy your sodaed beverages and your ever expanding waistlines. Enjoy the probations, indignations, and violations of the checkpoint.

    I, for one, shall depart in the grand tradition.

    Portnoy! To the skies!
    posted by Pastabagel at 8:24 AM on August 10, 2006 [15 favorites]


    In tangentially related news another terrorist plot was averted when I remained unimpressed and minded my own business as usual.

    That of course until they day I am blown up by some terror bomb, but after that I doubt I would be caring about anything at all.
    posted by elpapacito at 8:26 AM on August 10, 2006


    I'm watching them gather up garbage bags full of toiletries.

    No iPods?! ZOMG TEH TERORITSTS WIN>.!
    posted by ninjew at 8:27 AM on August 10, 2006


    You think there are hundreds of people out there with bombs sitting on their coffee tables just waiting for the right moment.

    Actually, yeah. There are. Sort of. Not just in the UK.

    ONE. You have millions of former soldiers and young men distributed all over the planet who have the skills to create bombs ( a very simple thing, BTW) who have been discarded by their societies.

    TWO. You have hundreds of thousands with a frustrated political kink who have special force or insurgent training of some form.

    THREE. And then you have thousands with EXTREME views and time on their hands.

    FOUR. And you have openly hostile religouse leaders and States with money to bankroll them telling them that blowing up somebody will make a difference and give an otherwise empty life meaning.

    Yes. There are at LEAST hundreds waiting for an opportunity.
    posted by tkchrist at 8:28 AM on August 10, 2006


    No iPods?! ZOMG TEH TERORITSTS WIN>.!
    posted by ninjew at 11:27 AM EST on August 10 [+] [!]


    You don't even want to bring it with you. What do you think your chances are of finding it in your checked luggage after the flight?
    posted by caddis at 8:33 AM on August 10, 2006


    My parents went in with several family members and got a NetJets card.
    You could get one, with a few friends, for the price of a 1995 Camry.


    From NetJets page:

    "Each Marquis Jet Card represents a sublease of a NetJets fractional share for which Marquis Jet Partners is the Owner. A single year, 25-hour pre-paid lease starts at $115,900"

    You're going to need some well-heeled friends.

    I suspect today's sort of excitement is going to encourage companies to start owning their own airplanes again. Having your execs stranded and their laptops lost/broken in baggage will do wonders to loosen the purse strings.
    posted by bitmage at 8:40 AM on August 10, 2006


    I think they should have banned carry on liquids long ago. Not because of terrorism per say but the potential of combustibles being snuck on board was far too great.

    I was on a flight in the 1980's where a coked-out nutbag said he had gasoline in a sports bottle (it turned out ot be Gatorade). And was gonna burn up his girlfriend. Try hearing that at 30,000ft and not fill your shorts with the running hershies.

    And after 9/11 I was shocked they didn't ban liquids and matches right away. Yet they banned pocket knives? WTF? And that was clue to me that this administration DID NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT SAVING LIVES.

    I think what the British government is doing it completely fair and likely an honest attempt at thwarting a serious threat.

    It is how it is then spun by the Terrorarchy in the Bush administration that fuels fear. And that is a victory for terror groups. They don't even have to blow anything up to achieve wide spread fear and anxiety.

    We, as a society, need to have more of a "Yeah. Well. Fuck You!" attitude to terror. Do what we need to thwart a plot but handle it in public more like we handle a road closure or traffic jam.
    posted by tkchrist at 8:41 AM on August 10, 2006


    ... Yes. There are at LEAST hundreds waiting for an opportunity.

    And we have at least hundreds of rightwing militia people and McVeighs and Rudolphs, yet we don't change things like this because of the threat of them.
    posted by amberglow at 8:42 AM on August 10, 2006


    So, all liquids have to be checked in at UK airports, but the same is not true at all US airports. The terrorists know this. What is to stop them checking their bomb kits in, flying across to the US, then getting another plane and flying back, this time with their liquid hand luggage, and carrying out the plan just in the opposite direction?
    posted by Orange Goblin at 8:42 AM on August 10, 2006


    Yes. There are at LEAST hundreds waiting for an opportunity.

    What the fuck does "waiting for an opportunity" mean? You're saying there are millions of people out there with a motive and the skills to carry out a bombing. Why don't they? Why is there only like one actual attack per year outside of Iraq and Israel/Palestine? The people you just listed do not exist, or at the very least none of them have any intention of actually blowing anyone up.
    posted by cillit bang at 8:43 AM on August 10, 2006


    Remember 2005? That was the year anchored between election 2004 and election 2006. It was also a year lacking in a weekly dose of "terror threats". Interesting indeed that 2005, a year free of elections was also more-or-less lacking in terrorist threats aimed at America's tall buildings and mass transit systems. Too, 2005 was the year that witnessed both Bush and Republicans' polling numbers decline as it related to whether they or Democrats were better at protecting the people from terrorism.

    Interesting too, that Karl Rove said in election year 2006, Republicans would engage in "culture war" issues like gay marriage and flag-burning - and they did. Rove also said Republicans would use the Iraq War against Democrats - and they did. Too, Rove said Republicans would highlight terrorism in 2006 - and suddenly America is awash in terror threats and plots. ...

    posted by amberglow at 8:44 AM on August 10, 2006


    pardonyou?: It's also interesting that the people who are complaining the most about this being an overreaction to a hypothetical threat are also those who complain loudest about the administration's failures to prevent 9/11

    And you know this how, exactly? You've kept track of all the user IDs and have a database of the preceding threads, perhaps.
    posted by lodurr at 8:45 AM on August 10, 2006


    "It's also interesting that the people who are complaining the most about this being an overreaction to a hypothetical threat are also those who complain loudest about the administration's failures to prevent 9/11."

    Really? Can you provide some examples?

    Not that we on the left don't make these absurd generalized group-affiliation-based accusations of hypocrisy all the time. But this fallacy is very common and indicates a viewpoint that has veered away from being reasonable and towards being comfortable and self-confirming. It's actually pretty easy to identify, even in oneself, and thus, given how ibiquitously harmful such thinking is, learning to avoid it is a no-brainer. Assuming one is truly interested in being reasonable and arguing in good-faith.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:47 AM on August 10, 2006


    And we have at least hundreds of rightwing militia people and McVeighs and Rudolphs, yet we don't change things like this because of the threat of them.

    There are many nuts of both wings. Actually. No. At the point where you want to blow up innocent people you don't know to influence policies constructed by the inhuman machinery of government whims you are all part of the SAME wing.

    However, Clinton certainly DID change things after McViegh. Though he did it very quietly. Like his "massaging" of habeas laws and the massive funding increases in our domestic spying and paramilitary SWAT forces.
    posted by tkchrist at 8:48 AM on August 10, 2006


    There are certainly thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people itching to engage in stuff we'd call "terrorism." Far too many, and far too well distributed, to fight through means like those we've seen deployed so far.

    Folks, total security is impossible. We need to invest in prevention (like, trying to help the terrorists of tomorrow before they become terrorists) and take reasonable (like, recognizing that we're just not going to be able to remove all risky items from an airline cabin) and consistent (like, paying attention to air freight) precautions, and then suck up and deal with the remaining cost of living in an open society.
    posted by lodurr at 8:50 AM on August 10, 2006


    ... Clinton certainly DID change things after McViegh. Though he did it very quietly.

    That wimpy liberal. Should have just declared martial law, like a real man.
    posted by lodurr at 8:52 AM on August 10, 2006


    I read the best thing on a local Philly blog (BitchPhd)yesterday, in response to the CATO piece...
    The Terrorism Bubble has Burst
    So, between this paper [CATO], and the cover story for this month's Atlantic, I'm happy to say that the war on terra is over.
    Chalk it up as dead alongside the advantage of incumbency in Congress and the effectiveness of playing the "Anti-Semite Card" when criticizing Israel.
    posted by rzklkng at 8:52 AM on August 10, 2006


    And not only does the opposition cut-n-run, er, I mean "fold", it folds based on the whim of a single man.

    No, it's based on the very powerful frame of "All of the GOP, and even some Democrats, agree with this, why don't you? What are you, a terrorist lover? "

    I don't know if Joe Lieberman was just being used, or if he understood what he was doing and agreed with it, but his role was clear, which is why the GOP argued so hard against him not being the Democratic nominee.

    Once again, if they really believed that Lamont would destroy the Democratic Party's hopes in 2006 and 2008, they would have campaigned for him.

    America, mentally, couldn't withstand what Britain had to endure during the Blitz or even with the IRA without turning into a full-blown fascist state.

    That was my point. I understand why the US is a bunch of cowering fools -- they haven't had to face a real threat since the Civil War, and a real external threat since 1812.

    My point is why are the Brits falling for it -- they know what a real war looks like. The scars are still clearly visible amongst the cities.

    Yet HM Government is convincing those noble folk -- who were offered nothing but blood, toil, sweat and tears, and who took the deal gladly, knowing the price -- that the threat of terrorism is so strong that they cannot be free anymore.

    That's why I cry in despair. I cry in anger at the obvious politics, I cry in dejection at how easily it plays in the US. I cry in despair that it would work in the UK.

    If they can be taken by this, then nobody will stand. The great experiment -- Freedom of the common man, ruled not by kings or consent, but by the will of the common man -- has failed.

    However, Clinton certainly DID change things after McViegh. Though he did it very quietly.

    Yes. I find it very intersting to note that the same people who rallied against the Federal Government after Ruby Ridge and Waco eagerly embrace the TSA, the NSA, and Gitmo.
    posted by eriko at 8:54 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Passengers may also have prescription medication labeled with a name which matches the name on the passenger's ticket, insulin, or other essential non-prescription medications.


    So anyone with access to photohsop, good paper, glue and a medical bottle can sneak explosives aboard? Great. If liquids on a plane are dangerous, then you need to ban all of them, not just a select few



    I can't wait until you have to strip naked, have your anal monitoring probe inserted, and submit to a polygraph before getting your boarding pass.


    Well, at least I won't have to pay for this anymore.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:55 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Amazing how this comes out the day after Lieberman loses, right in the heart of primary season.


    posted by ericb at 8:55 AM on August 10, 2006


    I've read the authorities had infiltrated this group for months already--why didn't they just arrest them all once they had the solid info and not shut down airports and stuff?


    Isn't it obvious? The money is not in the cure, it's in the medicine. Why cure a disease when you can get MUCH wealthier and more powerful selling a maintenance program?

    The illusion of protection is all these jerkoffs have to offer - and all their power flows from that. "You need us. You must capitulate to our programs. We are your big, protective father -the only thing standing between you and fiery, hellish, imminent death at the hands of the godless horde."

    This has been the game plan of all fascists and dictators since the beginning of time. Those who do not learn their history are doomed, and all that.
    posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:55 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    My parents went in with several family members and got a NetJets card. You could get one, with a few friends, for the price of a 1995 Camry.

    My Other Vehicle Is a Gulfstream.
    posted by ericb at 8:57 AM on August 10, 2006


    Why is there only like one actual attack per year outside of Iraq and Israel/Palestine?

    The people you just listed do not exist, or at the very least none of them have any intention of actually blowing anyone up.


    They certainly DO exist. In Egypt. In Serbia. In Chechnya and Russia. In Peru. In Columbia. In Sri Lanka. India? Bali? Gama'a al-Islamiya? Chetchen Rebels? The Tamil Tigers? The Shining Path? Do you read the news at all? My god, you have to on crack.

    Have you ever heard of the School of the Americas? We trained hundreds of thousands of specialist insurgent troops. What do you think happened to those guys?

    One per year? Lol. OMFG. Give me a cite on that. Do you mean aircraft bombings? My friend, there are hundreds of terror/paramilitary attacks all over the planet every year. They don't manifest as bombings only.

    Why don't they attack more often. Good question. I'm not completely certain. Maybe opportunities in the west are rare and most have domestic issues that are better influenced with in the boundaries of their respective nations.

    Anybody else want to field this one? I'm laughing too hard.
    posted by tkchrist at 9:01 AM on August 10, 2006


    Why cure a disease when you can get MUCH wealthier and more powerful selling a maintenance program?

    Same business model as the drug war.

    I find it very intersting to note that the same people who rallied against the Federal Government after Ruby Ridge and Waco eagerly embrace the TSA, the NSA, and Gitmo.

    No kidding. To me, it's utterly bizarre. This is not even a generalization, I could name 10 individuals I know personally off the top of my head who used to rail against the fascist tendencies of our government, who loathed Janet Reno, but love Ashcroft/Gonzales.

    The same people who bitch about social security taxes don't even blink at the 8 trillion debt we will never be able to pay, the majority of which was not even spent on this war, but is pork.

    I have become very disillusioned with the American conservative movement. There is no adherence to principle at all.

    The Omen of the NWO, previously spoken of only in hushed tones, the National ID card is coming in 2008. Let's see how these guys react. I'm betting: cravenly.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 9:03 AM on August 10, 2006


    It appears (from a simple random sample) that the immediate reaction of about 15-20% of MeFiers is to assume that any terror plot must actually faked by the government, for any variety of nefarious reasons. That is scary.

    Hey, 30% of Americans don't know what year the 9/11 attacks happened in! If only 15-20% of a thread's participants are flakes and loons, maybe we're not doing too badly.
    posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:04 AM on August 10, 2006


    National ID card.... Let's see how these guys react.

    It will all depend on who wins / is likely to win the 2008 Presidential election.
    posted by lodurr at 9:06 AM on August 10, 2006


    And you know this how, exactly? You've kept track of all the user IDs and have a database of the preceding threads, perhaps.

    No, I didn't do any research, and don't intend to. I have absolutely no doubt of what such research would show, but who knows? Maybe I'm wrong.
    posted by pardonyou? at 9:07 AM on August 10, 2006


    National ID Cards? Soon they will tattoo "American" at birth on our foreheads.
    posted by tkchrist at 9:08 AM on August 10, 2006


    I'm with Optamystic. I'm pissed off that I have to live like this, and as far as I'm concerned, it's just as bad as being blown out of the sky. YES, I SAID IT. You know, if we just said 'go ahead, blow up a few planes and buildings, we don't give a fuck and it's not going to change anything about how we live' THEY WOULDN'T DO IT ANYMORE. Because it wouldn't be getting them what they want, which is for us to be scared, and afraid to fly, and afraid to live freely in our open, tolerant society.

    Absofuckinglutely.

    Someone mentioned that the terrorists intended to blow up the planes when they were over large cities and thus killing a "large number of people". A few days after 9-11, an American Airlines passenger jet crashed in Brooklyn, New York City killing five people on the ground.

    It's hard to kill a large number of people all at once.

    Until terrorists get ahold of a nuclear weapon or sufficient quality and quantity of a chemical weapon like a nerve agent, they're not going to ever be able to kill anything more than a few hundred people at most at any one time. The WTC attack was extremely unusual and only something almost exactly like it is going to kill that many people again. That death toll was caused by the combination of people being trapped above the point(s) of impact and then the whole building(s) falling down. That would be hard to engineer again. Maybe a very large explosion or an airliner impact into a crowded sports stadium; but probably only if it were an indoor stadium and most people were killed by asphyxiation.

    Anyway, the degree to which we are apparently willing to disrupt our lives in order to prevent such a relatively tiny number of deaths, especially when compared to the large numbers of deaths we're not willing to alter our lives to avoid when we look at auto transportation or things like alcohol and tobacco consumption, is just amazing and irrational.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:08 AM on August 10, 2006


    I want these motherfucking liquids off this motherfucking plane.
    posted by Flashman at 9:08 AM on August 10, 2006


    It appears (from a simple random sample) that the immediate reaction of about 15-20% of MeFiers is to assume that any terror plot must actually faked by the government, for any variety of nefarious reasons. That is scary.

    How is that scary? The US and UK governments have cried wolf enough times that it's simply naive to believe them on their initial, uncorroborated word. What's their record of being right about these things, anyway? About 15-20%?
    posted by rxrfrx at 9:08 AM on August 10, 2006


    Shakes on a Plane
    posted by wfc123 at 9:10 AM on August 10, 2006


    We, as a society, need to have more of a "Yeah. Well. Fuck You!" attitude to terror. Do what we need to thwart a plot but handle it in public more like we handle a road closure or traffic jam.

    exactly, and this is what is disconcerting about these events over the past 6 years. I can't remember how many bomb scares I had to go through in the eighties, a lot. No-one paniced, there was no hype. We just got on with our lives and trusted that the security forces would stop what they could.

    Fuck fear indeed. Statistically you are safe from the terror. Stop worrying.

    They certainly DO exist. In Egypt. In Serbia. In Chechnya and Russia. In Peru. In Columbia. In Sri Lanka. India? Bali? Gama'a al-Islamiya? Chetchen Rebels? The Tamil Tigers? The Shining Path? Do you read the news at all?

    One mans terrorist is a another mans freedom fighter and all that. It's not just black and white as I'm sure you well know.
    If you were to look at this world as a complete stranger you might well think it's a planet filled with terrorist states.In my eyes the biggest terrorists on this planet at this very minute are UK, USA and Israel.

    I just don't believe in good guys vs bad guys anymore. Who do you reckon are more terrorised - Us poor westerners who will have to buy our drink on board a flight, or a bunch of lebanese being shelled every night?

    I'm not saying anyone is right, in my mind it's all wrong... be it suicide bombers or superpowers causing the terror. They are all fuckers.
    posted by twistedonion at 9:10 AM on August 10, 2006


    You don't even want to bring it with you. What do you think your chances are of finding it in your checked luggage after the flight?

    Very good point. Remember, in the US, you cannot lock your luggage. If you do so, the TSA will cut the lock off.

    You can get TSA approved, double key locks. Guess what -- the thiefs on the ramps, in the taxistands, and in the hotels have the exact same master keys.

    I'm wondering how to travel if they bar carryons. I can't risk losing my meds, and I'm not about to risk the notebook that I frequently have to carry (or risk having to fly back home suddenly to deal with a problem -- I can't count on having a secure computer at J Random Hotel.) Right now, they say they'll allow meds, but I'm waiting for that to change by someone hiding something in a med bottle.

    It would make boarding easier, but so will the massive loss of business passengers. Time is money, and time to check and collect baggage. plus the extra screening, means that suddenly a flight isn't worth taking anymore. We saw this with the rise of the TSA, now, add baggage time -- which ranges from merely annoying at some airports to horrible at others, and suddenly, that now 6 hour flight, door to door, isn't worth the cost and lost time.

    The people who fly once a year think the burden of the extra measures are worth the cost. The people who fly more than thirty times a year realize that they almost certainly aren't -- and when they stop flying, the airline loses thirty plus tickets a year.

    So, I suspect that air attacks are going to fade away, right along with the airlines. Between rising fuel costs (and nothing based on a battery keeps an MD-80 in the air long), rising security costs, and enviromental issues, I see the era of rapid air travel ending. Combine that with an almost certain upcoming recession, and I think the ending will be quite ugly indeed.

    US carriers that fail outright: US Air, United, Delta, Continental, Southwest, and all the little guys that work with them. Chatauqua will be the last to fall, but fall they will.

    US carriers that might evolve into a luxury international service, but I doubt it. American, Northwest -- both have routes and planes, limited debt load (that's what kills United) and thier routes don't cross much (NW is mostly Transpac, AA is South America. Both have Europe.)

    Why Southwest? The only way you'll make money is international, and Southwest has zero assets to get into International Travel, and it will be very hard for them to sell the assets they have (short haul domestic routes and short haul domestic aircraft) in order to get the routes they'd need and the aircraft to fly them.

    Southwest has a very good answer to the Intercity Bus problem -- but that's a very bad answer to the Interncontinetal Luxury Liner problem.
    posted by eriko at 9:13 AM on August 10, 2006


    Some people are going to be regretting picking up that cheap litre of duty free vodka.

    And others -- especially those who have inverted Frisbees filled with liquid Ketamine.
    posted by ericb at 9:13 AM on August 10, 2006


    soooo essentially all this is saying is that normal screening procedures are ineffectual?
    posted by edgeways at 9:19 AM on August 10, 2006


    eriko: terrorism on domestic flights isn't going to be that big of a deal, really.

    Right now air travel is much safer then road travel, and a bombing every few years won't change that. People should just give up on 100% perfect security and accept an economically reasonable risk.
    posted by delmoi at 9:23 AM on August 10, 2006


    In Egypt. In Serbia. In Chechnya and Russia. In Peru. In Columbia. In Sri Lanka. India? Bali? Gama'a al-Islamiya? Chetchen Rebels? The Tamil Tigers? The Shining Path?

    tkchrist, you're talking about the sum total of terrorist/freedom fighter/guerilla/rebel army/whatever activity all round the world. cillit bang was talking specifically about the threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism against targets on Western soil, because that's how we got into the discussion - about the how serious homeland security-type threats were. You're talking at cross purposes.
    posted by flashboy at 9:23 AM on August 10, 2006


    Eriko,

    You seem to have figured out the air transportation system of the future, but you've totally ignored the emergence of VLJ's.
    posted by matty at 9:25 AM on August 10, 2006


    it's impressive how this terrorist plot was disrupted thanks to the UK's commitment to the Iraq war. they really cut off the terrorists' oxygen with that, Bush was right
    posted by matteo at 9:26 AM on August 10, 2006


    (i) There are a very small number of people even plotting.
    (ii) There is an even smaller number who plan to ever carry out any of these plots.
    (iii) Of those, only a very small number actually have a clue what they're doing.
    (iv) Of those, only a very small number will gather the materials necessary without getting caught.
    (v) Of those, only a very small have the will power to go through with it.

    Currently, our plotters are in category (i), at best*. The only people who pose a threat to anyone are in category (v). And most of them have blown themselves up already.


    If you read anything about the passion that those in category (i) have for what they believe, then it is exceedingly difficult to accept the proposition that of the people who fit into that category, "only a very small (number) have the will power to go through with it" (i.e., carry out a plot).

    And, of course, with what is going on in the Middle East as we sit here, the number of people who fit into all five categories can only be expected to grow, maybe even grow exponentially.
    posted by blucevalo at 9:28 AM on August 10, 2006


    One per year? Lol. OMFG. Give me a cite on that. Do you mean aircraft bombings? My friend, there are hundreds of terror/paramilitary attacks all over the planet every year. They don't manifest as bombings only.

    Not in the western world there aren't. Half the places you listed are actual warzones. The fact is the number of "terrorists" in the US or UK who are ever going to kill anyone is basically zero.
    posted by cillit bang at 9:28 AM on August 10, 2006


    Anyone remember the lackadasical attitude towards terrorist attacks in the movie Brazil? Bomb goes off in a restaurant, people move their table so they don't get dust in their food and continue eating.

    That needs to be us. It's better if we don't have to live that life, but it's being thrust upon us. Normal life must go on, even in the face of terra.
    posted by davelog at 9:33 AM on August 10, 2006


    If you read anything about the passion that those in category (i) have for what they believe, then it is exceedingly difficult to accept the proposition that of the people who fit into that category, "only a very small (number) have the will power to go through with it" (i.e., carry out a plot).

    But it's self-evidently true. If you add all the actual bombings to the number of people caught in the act, you get a number far smaller than the claimed number of plotters. The only conclusion is that all of the killing infidels talk is just dick-waving.
    posted by cillit bang at 9:34 AM on August 10, 2006


    Just to annoy people further... ;)

    Cory Doctorow nails it.

    The point of terrorism is to make us afraid. The UK response to a foiledplot is to create an unspecified period during which fliers are arbitrarily deprived of iPods, novels and dignity.

    Even Cory's normally over the top "dignity" isn't that far off. "Sir, you can't get on that plane with hair gel." "Ma'am, that perfume has to go." "Son, where do you think you are going with that Mountain Dew?"
    posted by eriko at 9:34 AM on August 10, 2006


    I'm still slightly confused here. Can anyone clarify as to whether they announced today that they foiled a plot that was to occur at some future date or if they announced that they foiled a plot that was supposed to occur today, 8/10?

    Also, the two bulletins that Stratfor released today are informative if they haven't already been linked.
    posted by well_balanced at 9:38 AM on August 10, 2006


    well_balanced: I need a login to view those documents, apparently.
    posted by Prospero at 9:41 AM on August 10, 2006


    but you've totally ignored the emergence of VLJ's.

    I have. I don't know enough about them to guess. However, given the standard of living that we will have to live with, VLJ'S won't be a factor.

    The reason commercial providers will handle international travel, rather than small companies or individuals, is a combination of customs, immigration and security -- I can easily see the UK saying "Only BA, AA and Qantas can enter our airspace, everyone else will be THE TERROR and shot down."

    Here's a hint: in the Post-Oil, Post-Terror economy, you won't see the words "only" and "1.2 million dollars US (2000)" in the same sentence.

    Does VLJ mean what I think it means? Besides, the future was aircars, dammit.
    posted by eriko at 9:45 AM on August 10, 2006


    Amazing how this comes out the day after Lieberman loses, right in the heart of primary season.

    Normally (although not exclusively), I am a proponent of levying civil arguments against statements I vehemently disagree with. However...

    That is the singularly most insipid, ignorant, mind-numblingly-devoid-of-logic statement I've seen in a long, long time. As a result, I seriously question your mental faculties and wonder if you are capable of dressing yourself without explicit written instructions and pictograms.

    What the flying fuck does Lieberman, or US politics in general have to do with UK terror plots!? This isn't even a case of apples -vs- oranges, it's just nonsensical horseshit being spread by someone who's tinfoil hat is strapped on way too tight.

    I get it, you hate the government. That said, not every single world event can be tied to the fucking Republicans. If they truly controlled the world as you seem to believe, you would not have the luxury of sitting in front of your PC and spouting such drivel.

    Let me guess, the moon landing is a hoax, some Russian assassinated JFK, Dubya and co. planned 9/11 and all the people who 'died' are living on some tropical island paradise. If any of that seems ludicrous to you, then perhaps you should take a look at the crap you've spouted in this thread.

    Argh!
    posted by Dark Messiah at 9:46 AM on August 10, 2006


    My bad....hasty postage. Some interesting points from the email they sent out:

    There are claims that the detainees are British citizens of Pakistani origin, revealing that al Qaeda's London management team was still largely intact following the July 2005 attacks against London's transit system.

    There are four takeaway lessons from this incident:

    First, while there obviously remains a threat from those not only sympathetic to al Qaeda, but actually participating in planning with those in the al Qaeda apex leadership, their ability to launch successful attacks outside of the Middle East is severely degraded.

    Second, if the cell truly does have 50 people and 21 have already been detained, then al Qaeda might have lost its ability to operate below the radar of Western -- or at least U.K. -- intelligence agencies. Al Qaeda's defining characteristic has always been its ability to maintain operational security. If that has been compromised, then al Qaeda's importance as a force has diminished greatly.

    Third, though further attacks could occur, it appears al Qaeda has lost the ability to alter the political decision-making of its targets. The Sept. 11 attack changed the world. The Madrid train attacks changed a government. This failed airliner attack only succeeded in closing an airport temporarily.

    Fourth, the vanguard of militant Islam appears to have passed from Sunni/Wahhabi al Qaeda to Shiite Iran and Hezbollah. It is Iran that is shaping Western policies on the Middle East, and Hezbollah who is directly engaged with Israel. Al Qaeda, in contrast, appears unable to do significantly more than issue snazzy videos.

    posted by well_balanced at 9:47 AM on August 10, 2006


    British investigators said terrorists planned "to get on board with liquid substances that when mixed could be turned into something that could be detonated."

    Clearly, the plan was to smuggle Diet Coke and Mentos onboard.
    posted by EarBucket at 9:53 AM on August 10, 2006


    Al Qaeda, in contrast, appears unable to do significantly more than issue snazzy videos.

    Yeah, but don't you think Al Qaeda believes it has a vested interest in changing that perception - perhaps by pulling off another huge attack?

    National ID Cards? Soon they will tattoo "American" at birth on our foreheads.

    No way, dude. Implantable computer chips.
    posted by kgasmart at 9:54 AM on August 10, 2006


    What about snakes on a plane? Have our security forces even contemplated that? They're so preoccupied checking containers for liquid that those snakes are just gonna slip right by them. That's what they do. They're snakes. They're slippery. They're gonna slip on by and then all of the airlines will be infested! Where's Samuel L Jackson, dammit?

    Okay. So. No liquids on a plane unless it's baby's milk. You mean there's no solids or gasses that could be potentially explosive? Obviously the powers that be have never spent an afternoon watching over an infant. Potentially explosive solids and gasses galore as well as liquids coming out of one of those little beasts. I say we not allow anything liquid, solid or gasseous on board a plane. That oughtta cover all our bases. I'd like to see terrorists try to disrupt our lives with no solids liquids or gasses anywhere on planes. Ha! That'd shore show'm!
    posted by ZachsMind at 9:56 AM on August 10, 2006



    A189Nut
    , can you point out where in this thread 'The Power of Nightmares gets quoted ... as authority for the absence of a militant Islamic threat'.


    No. He can't.
    posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:00 AM on August 10, 2006


    Dark_Messiah: What the flying fuck does Lieberman, or US politics in general have to do with UK terror plots!?

    Ahem. Should we assume you're being coy? If so, please ignore my explanation:

    People who draw a correlation between Lieberman's defeat and the terror plot, assume that there is a close linkage between US and British government actions.

    That's pretty obvious. Yet your whiney, snarky response doesn't seem to admit of it as a reason.

    (I happen to think it's a bit over-wrought, as reasons go. But it kind of an obvious answer to your "what the flying fuck" question.)
    posted by lodurr at 10:01 AM on August 10, 2006


    THEY'LL TAKE AWAY MY TOILETRIES AND MY I POD WHEN THEY PRY THEM FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS

    get a grip, people ... the uk government may have just saved a few hundred lives or more ... and all some people here can do is spin conspiracies and complain that their toothpaste won't be in their carry-on luggage

    i have no idea if the terrorists have won, but the idiots certainly have
    posted by pyramid termite at 10:01 AM on August 10, 2006


    What the flying fuck does Lieberman, or US politics in general have to do with UK terror plots!?

    Nothing, unless you think that all terrorists everywhere are secretly controlled by the US. I don't think anyone here thinks that.

    However, the way in which this plot was reported and the timing of the announcements could concievably have something to do with Lieberman.

    Have enforcement been sitting on this case for a while, or did they just so happen to bust these 18 people today? I used to never would have thought twice, but after the Miami thing, forgive me if I am skeptical of the details of these terror bust announcements.

    Let me guess, the moon landing is a hoax, some Russian assassinated JFK, Dubya and co. planned 9/11 and all the people who 'died' are living on some tropical island paradise.

    Put on your critical thinking hat, dude. How do these items compare with the observation that we've seen several so-called plots that turned out to be not much more than publicity stunts?

    There probably was some sort of a threat that needed action and there are probably some components to the story that have been played up for political reasons. I don't understand the irrational leap to 'omgz, conspiracy theorists!' that some people presume at the slightest provocation.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 10:03 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    You mean there's no solids or gasses that could be potentially explosive?

    I hear you can bring plasma aboard if you let the security staff taste it first.
    posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:04 AM on August 10, 2006


    My parents went in with several family members and got a NetJets card. You could get one, with a few friends, for the price of a 1995 Camry.

    The reasonable person in me is curious about why travelers on private and time-share jets aren't subject to any scrutiny at all by TSA when they board.

    The skeptic in me knows the answer: Money talks.
    posted by SteveInMaine at 10:06 AM on August 10, 2006


    I have nothfing to add
    posted by Postroad at 10:10 AM on August 10, 2006


    The reasonable person in me is curious about why travelers on private and time-share jets aren't subject to any scrutiny at all by TSA when they board.

    Suicide bombing your own private jet wouldn't exactly be the most effective way of terrorising the populace.
    posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:10 AM on August 10, 2006


    I'm still slightly confused here. Can anyone clarify as to whether they announced today that they foiled a plot that was to occur at some future date or if they announced that they foiled a plot that was supposed to occur today, 8/10?

    I'm confused about that too. From cnn.com:
    "CNN terror analyst Peter Bergen said two factors pointed to the influence of al Qaeda. He said al Qaeda was "obsessed" with commercial aviation and that the timing of the plot was "very interesting."

    "It's not clear when this was going to be implemented ... but we are coming up on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. They do want to make a big statement," he said on CNN's "American Morning.""

    But, in that same article, they mention "Passengers "were not yet sitting on an airplane," but were very close to traveling, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told The Associated Press."

    So I don't understand when this was supposed to happen, either.
    posted by inigo2 at 10:12 AM on August 10, 2006


    OBL must be sitting in his cave laughing his ass off at us.
    What a bunch of pussies we are.
    posted by notreally at 10:13 AM on August 10, 2006


    Please select the statement you'd like to hear:

    "The terrorist attack was going to happen, but we stopped it."

    or

    "The terrorist attack happened, but we couldn't stop it."

    * * *

    Accepting the first statement requires
    - Trust, in the form of believing the news stories

    Accepting the second statement requires
    - Proof, in the form of burning buildings and dead people.

    But hey, as J.T. Leroy said, snark is the new black. I guess cyncism just makes you cool around you.
    posted by Milkman Dan at 10:14 AM on August 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


    cillit bang was talking specifically about the threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism against targets on Western soil

    Well. Then he should SAY that. What said was:

    You think there are hundreds of people out there with bombs sitting on their coffee tables just waiting for the right moment.

    And then he disparaged a poster for thinking what is a provable fact. That there are MORE than hundreds of people through out the world trained in and waiting for an opportunity to do harm to innocents for abstract political or religious goals... IE Terrorism.

    There ARE. I know. We make them every year. And these wars are creating more. And just because the bulk of them are "outside the west" is small comfort. Failed states are simpler targets. But how soon will we become a failed state? It's possible given how we are bleeding resources. And. Getting INSIDE the west is remarkably easy. They only need a reason and a ticket.

    Getting the resource to create explosives is also ridiculously easy. Depending on the level of sophistication. SEMTEX, thanks to US, Chinese, and Russian funding of insurgent groups through out the world over the last forty years is plentiful, cheap, and easy to get.

    But all you need to bring down an airplane in a quart canister of gasoline.

    Most of these guys do what they do for a paycheck. That is reassuring only so much in that if WE can pay them not to do what they are trained to do.

    let me clarify something. Frankly I feel a hundred thousand terrorists IS a small number. When diluted by the the world population at large and all the potential targets globally. So, yes our risk is small.

    And due to our massive GDP, large distributed populations, geographical diversity, well practiced organizational institutions also well distributed... we in the US are at lower risk than Europe.

    However it is naive in the extreme to believe that a small number of people cannot inflict severe damage in the right circumstances.

    Remember Serbia - the break up of Yugoslavia? The actual number of initial combatants was tiny. Do you know who those guys actually were? Soccer hooligans. The initial Fascist groups were organized through soccer clubs. They had powerful friends. The had a nation on the edge of collapse already. And this tiny number of soccer fans with guns and paramilitary training brought down a country.

    The trick is not allowing the circumstances to "right" for this number of terrorists to achieve their goals.
    posted by tkchrist at 10:16 AM on August 10, 2006


    Half the places you listed are actual warzones.

    They wern't BEFORE terrorism. Why are you being so stubborn and obtuse about this? In generalities we agree. But admit your initial statement was wrong and move on. No biggie.
    posted by tkchrist at 10:19 AM on August 10, 2006


    I guess cyncism just makes you cool around you.

    i might add that some take cynicism to such an extreme point that it moves full circle back to naivete ...
    posted by pyramid termite at 10:20 AM on August 10, 2006


    and all some people here can do is spin conspiracies and complain that their toothpaste won't be in their carry-on luggage


    Ahh, welcome to the blue !!
    posted by a3matrix at 10:22 AM on August 10, 2006


    eriko:Yes. I find it very intersting to note that the same people who rallied against the Federal Government after Ruby Ridge and Waco eagerly embrace the TSA, the NSA, and Gitmo.

    The silence becomes deafening when it's their favored political party in charge.
    posted by dr_dank at 10:23 AM on August 10, 2006


    Wow, first the Lieberman website and redstate go down because of vicious DoS attacks, now this! Busy terrorists!
    posted by DenOfSizer at 10:23 AM on August 10, 2006



    But hey, as J.T. Leroy said, snark is the new black. I guess cyncism just makes you cool around you.
    posted by Milkman Dan at 10:14 AM PST on August 10 [+] [!]


    As sic says, "speak up, I can't hear you over the bleating of the panicked sheep!".
    posted by sic at 10:24 AM on August 10, 2006


    They wern't BEFORE terrorism.

    All depends on outlook. There was no terrorism in most of the places you mentioned before occupation/oppression.
    posted by twistedonion at 10:26 AM on August 10, 2006


    All depends on outlook.

    No. They were not "warzones." As if that makes any difference anyway.
    posted by tkchrist at 10:28 AM on August 10, 2006


    They wern't BEFORE terrorism. Why are you being so stubborn and obtuse about this? In generalities we agree. But admit your initial statement was wrong and move on. No biggie.

    The thread is about terrorism in the UK. It surely goes without saying that any statement I make here may not apply if you're in Chechnya.
    posted by cillit bang at 10:29 AM on August 10, 2006



    No. Just, no. Who was it that said that people who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither?


    That is paraphrased Benjamin Franklin. He said:
    They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.

    I guess what he would have us ask ourselves is whether what we are giving up are essential liberties. There's no question about the security we gain being temporary, and incomplete.

    I think in the US, we have already given up many essential liberties (thanks congress! way to check and balance...). I also don't think that inconvenience while travelling is anywhere near "essential".
    posted by owhydididoit at 10:30 AM on August 10, 2006


    No. They were not "warzones." As if that makes any difference anyway.

    Makes no difference, you are right. It's a nasty circle though... government oppression/occupation... pissed off plebs.... terrorism.... war zone... someone wins... opression/occupation... pissed off plebs

    Guess we need to stop pissing off the plebs. Fighting terror does not work and has never worked. It's bullshit.
    posted by twistedonion at 10:32 AM on August 10, 2006


    Well. Since your modern perpetrators of terrorism in the UK recieve training and funding outside the UK... and the fact this is a world-wide forum, it does NOT go without saying.

    Besides. You'd still be wrong. How many ex-memebers of the IRA are there out there in the UK? A couple hundred? A thousand? Remember: The opportunity people able and willing to blow up shit are waiting for is PART of the the motiviation to do the act.
    posted by tkchrist at 10:35 AM on August 10, 2006


    So what are liquid explosives?

    I did some poking around on the inter-tubes. The simplest liquid explosives use nitromethane. This is the fuel used in drag racers and model airplanes. You can get it from a hotrod shop or hobby supply. You need to mix this with a small amount of sensitizer to make it detonate. Most sensitizers are ammonium compounds, the most readily available being household ammonia cleaner.

    If you want to make this into a water gel explosive, you mix in some water, then add two gelling agents -- one for the nitromethane and one for the water. For the first you can use nitrated guar gum, a polysaccharide food additive used a sauce thickener, or nitrocellulose (gun cotton). For the water part, you can use flour or corn starch.

    Some sites claim this is as powerful as C4 explosive.

    You still need some sort of detonator cap to set it off, either by fuse or electricity.
    posted by JackFlash at 10:39 AM on August 10, 2006


    This is bullshit. Anything to make travel more of a hassle (I'm now stuck in San Francisco looking forward to going home Saturday).

    When I fly I'm not afraid of terrorists. I don't even think about it. My biggest fear is having my laptop or iPod stolen when I put it through the machine.
    posted by mike3k at 10:43 AM on August 10, 2006


    Fighting terror works... hmmmm... it depends. it depends on what extremes you want to go to and what kind of society you want after your done "eliminating" terror.

    I am not opposed to the judicious and prudent use of military/force reactions to terror groups. But you MUST walk softly as you go about it.

    In democracies that's hard. People want to—"have a right to"— know. And politicians want to trumpet how tough they are to get re-elected. We end up serving the PR ends of the terrorist groups.

    But yes working towards justice is far more effective. Then we get into a lifestyle dilemma.

    World-wide social justice and thinking having a cheap oil, an iMac, iPod, SUV, three TV's, 2 DVD players, a 300Sq Ft house as a birth-right are ALL at odds with achieving social justice.
    posted by tkchrist at 10:44 AM on August 10, 2006


    I would like two lines, leading to seperate terminals, and seperate aircraft.

    Coward and No Coward.

    Cowards can get all the screening they feel is needed. The rest of us can just take the risk.

    Which do you think will be the more secure plane? Hint: How many planes per year actually are taken down by terrorists?

    We're hearing that these are Pakistani terrorists. Assuming this is true, that 0-2 in claimed enemies of the US & UK invovled in massive terror plots against US airlines, and 2-0 for supposed allies. The 9/11 Hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Response: Invade Iraq. These bombers came from Pakistan.

    Response? Invade, oh, I don't know, Greece?

    Okay, I'm just kidding. Iran, of course.
    posted by eriko at 10:44 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Third, though further attacks could occur, it appears al Qaeda has lost the ability to alter the political decision-making of its targets. The Sept. 11 attack changed the world. The Madrid train attacks changed a government. This failed airliner attack only succeeded in closing an airport temporarily.

    This is not even wrong.

    In the past 15 years, we've seen purportedly-Al-Qaeda-connected Islamic fundamentalists attack American embassies in Africa, the USS Cole, nightclubs in Bali, and transit systems in Madrid and London. These things happened both before and after 9/11. Only one of them provoked a really dramatic reaction. And the overboard reaction to 9/11 itself was hardly a political imperative.

    Saying that "Al Qaeda has lost the ability to alter the political decision-making of its targets" is like saying "I've lost my ability to make super-models fall madly in love with me with just a single smoldering glance." That one Gisele Bundchen incident hardly constituted an "ability" in the first place.

    Furthermore, if we accept the assertion "The Sept. 11 attack changed the world" as true, then what world-changing effects would we really expect from even a successful airplane bombing today? The Western world's reaction - a desperate, sudden embrace of authoritarianism and violence - has already happened. Of course another, smaller-scale attack would be less influential.
    posted by Western Infidels at 10:46 AM on August 10, 2006


    Wow JackFlash - put in those terms this whole thing is pretty scary.
    posted by Flashman at 10:46 AM on August 10, 2006


    "Also, the two bulletins that Stratfor released today are informative if they haven't already been linked"

    MySQL errors are, indeed, informative. Pertinent, not so much.
    posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:48 AM on August 10, 2006


    Hmmm. The baby formula/breast milk angle has me thinking...

    10 relatively flat-chested female bombers
    One plastic surgeon
    Breat implants
    Explosive #1 - right breast, #2 - left breast
    Breast pumps
    Empty formula bottles
    Detonators
    10 babies

    I wouldn't put it past these nutbars. If I can think that up in two seconds it frightens me to contemplate what al-Queda has in the works. It's a mad world.
    posted by persona non grata at 10:50 AM on August 10, 2006


    But hey, as J.T. Leroy said, snark is the new black.

    Well, since JT Leroy was a hoax and doesn't exist, better to say "as Laura Albert said...".
    posted by ericb at 10:53 AM on August 10, 2006


    (i) There are a very small number of people even plotting.
    (ii) There is an even smaller number who plan to ever carry out any of these plots.
    (iii) Of those, only a very small number actually have a clue what they're doing.
    (iv) Of those, only a very small number will gather the materials necessary without getting caught.
    (v) Of those, only a very small have the will power to go through with it.

    Currently, our plotters are in category (i), at best*. The only people who pose a threat to anyone are in category (v). And most of them have blown themselves up already.

    (* remember there's also a category zero, which is innocent people the police hype as "plotters")


    Even if you concede the point that there are very few people in Category V (which I realistically don't but for the sake of argument) ...What's your point? The cops (used generically here) should just hang around and hope that the Cat 4 folks just give up because they lose their will?

    If any of you are making an argument that the government and the media use terror threats to cow and sway the populace-- agreed. But the way to counter that is not to stick your fingers in your ears and day "la la la there are no terrorists". That just makes most people look on you as an irredemable nutjob.

    I honestly don't understand why being concerned with possible plots, and thinking that the huge sacrifice of flying without iPods isn't the end of the world, gets you labeled as a Bushie or right-winger around here. For the record, I think the loss of civil liberties and the violations of the US Constitution perpetrated by the Republicans since 9.11 have been much *more* frightening than terror threats. Still, I see my responsibility as a citizen in responding to these egregious acttions by the government, rather than running out an donning my shiny hat every time the threat level changes or the foiling of a plot is announced.
    posted by miss tea at 10:53 AM on August 10, 2006


    You know what, I'm not just bitching that I can't take my toiletries in carry-on; that part is true, but I said it as a joke to lighten the tone of my post a little.

    My real problem is this: I am more scared of my government than I am of the potential terrorists who may potentially blow my ass out of the sky some day. I'm scared of the fact that before I worried about getting on that plane next week, I worried about what my government was going to take away from me now, using this latest incident as the excuse.

    There is no such thing as total security. But there is such a thing as a police state (I know, that's almost the Godwinization of this thread), and we are well on our way there. Let's think about it for a minute:

    *When we travel, we have to show proper ID to a governmental authority. Why? Why does the government need to know where we're going? I can see the airlines, they need to make sure the ticket matches the person travelling. But if you think about it, REALLY THINK ABOUT IT LIKE IT WAS NEW INFORMATION TO YOU, you'd realize that the only reason the government requires you to have ID when you travel is to track your movements. It is not for your safety. It is not for your protection. It is for their information.

    *Since 9/11, we have all of us submitted to search and questioning with no evidence of wrongdoing, and without a warrant. Yes, we have. We are boarding a privately owned (although federally subsidized) mode of transportation, and yet are required to answer and show our underwear to a federal agent. Most of us here, I'm guessing, have not been involved in a terrorist plot. Yet all of us, if we have travelled, have gone through a metal detector; been wanded; been questioned about our destination; had our luggage searched. All of us; and we didn't even blink. This is unconstitutional, people, and we accepted it as the price of our "safety" due to an event that now happened 5 years ago.

    What has to happen for people to wake the fuck up already? Maybe I'm in the minority, maybe I'm certifiable, maybe I'm just a paranoid old crankypants, but MY GOD. The US government is stripping away our civil liberties one by one and no one seems to care, secure in the belief that they are only doing it for our own good. They are not. And even if they were, it isn't fucking working.

    There is no such thing as total security from terrorist activity. And if there were, I doubt very strongly our government could provide it. What they are supposed to provide, what our Constitution REQUIRES that they provide is LIBERTY. And they aren't doing it, in fact quite the opposite, and a lot of people don't even notice or care.

    That scares me more than "terrorists" ever will.
    posted by jennaratrix at 10:54 AM on August 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


    Wow JackFlash - put in those terms this whole thing is pretty scary.

    Yeah. But think about being on a crowded plane mid-flight and some guy just squirting gasoline out of a sports bottle and igniting it with a simple match. Holy fuck. Can you image how awful that would be?

    I think banning liquid containers, like water bottles, is far more reasonable than banning pocket knives.
    posted by tkchrist at 10:56 AM on August 10, 2006


    I'm afraid technology will destroy us.

    All it takes is one lunatic.

    There are millions of lunatics.
    posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:56 AM on August 10, 2006


    Someone mentioned that the terrorists intended to blow up the planes when they were over large cities and thus killing a "large number of people". A few days after 9-11, an American Airlines passenger jet crashed in Brooklyn, New York City killing five people on the ground.

    Ethereal, not sure if you're trying to make the point that it's hard to kill people on the ground because it's hard to hit your target or what, but the plane crash you reference smacked down in Rockaway, Queens, not really a population center.
    posted by miss tea at 10:57 AM on August 10, 2006


    I'm with eriko for the two Coward and No Coward lines. Why should everyone be inconvenienced by those who would be more comfortable staying at home hiding under the bed.
    posted by JackFlash at 10:58 AM on August 10, 2006


    Why should everyone be inconvenienced by those who would be more comfortable staying at home hiding under the bed.

    Exactly!


    posted by ericb at 11:01 AM on August 10, 2006


    Some sites claim this is as powerful as C4 explosive.

    I'm trying to find any liquid explosive that's a high order explosive that doesn't require force on the order of a blasting cap to detonate.

    I've found exactly one -- nitroglycerine. If they're mixing nitro in the lavatory, they're going to die quickly. I doubt they'd get enough mixed to really hurt the plane before they pass out from various fumes.

    And I don't believe that the UK bombers used acetone peroxide, because AP is so sensitive that it likes to go off if you abuse it in various ways -- like moving it, shaking it, or ignoring it for long enough. Nitroglycerine is at least twice as sensitive -- nitroglycerine is well into that category of "useless expolsives" -- because useful ones go off when you tell them to, and not before.

    There are plenty of water-gel explosives. They are one of the most common forms of explosives used, second to ANFO (and only because ANFO is cheap.) Water-gels are almost ideal industrial explosives. They're very powerful (they've totally supplanted dynamite, and almost totally supplanted TNT) and they only go off when you hit them with either a very powerful blasting cap or a cap and booster charge.

    Explosive detection, as currently done in the US, is based on finding the nitrogen compounds that make up almost all high explosives, and most of the low order ones. This is why it's really important not to wear your golf shoes to the airport. (They're covered in fertilizer residue, mostly ammonium nitrate. You may have heard of ANFO? Guess what AN stands for?)

    To be honest, a two part liquid explosive that's perfectly stable when apart, acts as a primary explosive when mixed, can be easily mixed by simply pouring into a vessle, and doesn't show an explosive nitrate sign in either component sounds more like magic.

    If they formed a secondary explosive, I would be more likely to believe it, but then they're carrying detontators as well -- which show up on Xray and on chemical tests. It's hard to see various plastic explosives on Xray, but the detonators stand out. You see a jar of peanut butter with metal cylinder in it, you bet bomb.


    But I'm pushing my knowledge hard -- I'm more on the practical side of boom, rather than the theoretical. Any chemistry guys out there have any real ideas?

    posted by eriko at 11:04 AM on August 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


    Coward and No Coward lines

    The no coward flights would also be cheaper... less security needed.

    The problem would be finding the staff to pilot and service the flights.

    My Brother-in-law in a pilot for Delta. Most the "security" precautions are to ease the fears of the flight crew who have repeat exposure to the risks of flying and have accumlative stress dealing with security issues. Even though they themselves KNOW most of the precautions are bullshit. It's an emotional thing.
    posted by tkchrist at 11:05 AM on August 10, 2006


    Bush: Arrests reminder of 'war with Islamic fascists'

    President Bush has just called the British terror arrests "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."

    Arriving in Wisconsin for a previously scheduled event, the remarks were Bush's first on the arrests.
    posted by taosbat at 11:08 AM on August 10, 2006


    National ID Cards? Soon they will tattoo "American" at birth on our foreheads.

    No way, dude. Implantable computer chips.


    Hopefuly they'll be more secure by then.
    posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on August 10, 2006


    I'm trying to find any liquid explosive that's a high order explosive that doesn't require force on the order of a blasting cap to detonate. I've found exactly one -- nitroglycerine.

    Liquid Explosives Sit on Bathroom Shelves
    "Chemicals sitting in anyone's bathroom at home could be used to make a bomb that would badly damage a passenger jet, and experts have been warning about this danger for years.

    ...Such mundane items as nail polish remover, disinfectants and hair coloring contain chemicals can be combined to make an explosion and are not detectable by 'sniffing' machines, which detect plastic explosives but are not used with all baggage.

    'There remains an important explosives threat that our current procedures are not geared up for for carry-on baggage,' added Blumstein, who was on a National Academy of Sciences committee that wrote a 1998 report on the detection of explosives for commercial aviation security.

    Plastic explosives can be concealed in bottles or other innocent-looking containers that would pass through X-ray machines.

    'They don't have the wherewithal to detect it unless it is connected as a bomb because it'll just look like a pile of stuff,' Blumstein said.

    Bombers who attacked London Underground trains and a bus in July 2005 used homemade peroxide-based explosives carried in backpacks.

    An explosive chemical called triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, can be put together with sulfuric acid, found in some drain cleaners, hydrogen peroxide, a medical disinfectant and hair bleach, and acetone, found in nail polish remover.

    Some combinations can be set off using another chemical such as hydrochloric acid, easily carried in a small glass bottle.

    One of the most notorious explosives is nitroglycerin, and the clear yellow or colorless liquid can produce an explosion sometimes with vigorous shaking. Made by carefully combining glycerol or glycerin with nitric and sulfuric acids, it is very unstable and many people have been injured or killed in trying to make or mix it.

    People have tried several times to use such easily concealed explosives on aircraft. Richard Reid, a British-born follower of Saudi-born militant leader Osama bin Laden, was tackled by passengers in December 2001 while trying to detonate explosives stuffed in his shoes.

    In 1994, Islamic fundamentalists detonated liquid explosives on a Japan-bound Philippine Airlines plane, killing a Japanese passenger and injuring 10 others.

    Mark Ensalaco, an international terrorism expert at the University of Dayton in Ohio, said Thursday's foiled operation appeared to be identical.

    'I stress identical with the explosives in liquids, which appear to be assembled on the plane,' Ensalaco said in a statement."

    [Reuters | August 10, 2006]
    posted by ericb at 11:17 AM on August 10, 2006


    Milman Dan is urging us to trust and then he quotes JT Leroy. that's fucking funny.
    posted by mr.marx at 11:17 AM on August 10, 2006


    on post: ericb beat me to it
    posted by mr.marx at 11:18 AM on August 10, 2006


    Bush: Arrests reminder of 'war with Islamic fascists'

    His first instinct is to politicize events. I guess it's time to resurrect the "vote for me or get eaten by wolves" ad.
    posted by JackFlash at 11:20 AM on August 10, 2006


    So non-cowards get to smoke on the flight, but sit at the front of the plane? Hardly a solution now is it?
    No, all passengers should be picked up from and delivered to verified addresses. Oh.. also they should be very heavily sedated and kept well hydrated during the entire journey, via cannula, each of them in their own comfortably padded box. Same thing for all public transport actually. Think of the mechanization advantadges, the time spent loading/unloading versus bording/alighting.
    TravelSafe; we get you their. Alive.
    posted by econous at 11:22 AM on August 10, 2006


    "Yet all of us, if we have travelled, have gone through a metal detector; been wanded; been questioned about our destination; had our luggage searched. All of us; and we didn't even blink. This is unconstitutional, people, and we accepted it as the price of our "safety" due to an event that now happened 5 years ago."

    Foolishness like this started well before 2001.
    9/11 was just an excuse to ramp it up.
    For myself, I had little problem with the slightly inept security pre-9/11. It seemed to do a reasonably good job of keeping out the crazies while not being too much of a personal or constitutional burden.
    posted by madajb at 11:22 AM on August 10, 2006


    I've found exactly one -- nitroglycerine. If they're mixing nitro in the lavatory, they're going to die quickly. I doubt they'd get enough mixed to really hurt the plane before they pass out from various fumes.

    "Peter Neumann, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College, London, said that the 1995 Bojinka plan involved blowing up 11 planes using nitroglycerin mixed in contact lens solution and a battery powered detonator hidden in a shoe."

    [source]
    posted by ericb at 11:26 AM on August 10, 2006


    A couple of points:

    1) I'm not seeing any confirmed reports of seizure of any explosive materials or precursors. (This may be due the D-notice press blackout in UK.) So was this just a "talking" plot?

    2) The panic on screening suggests that all the super-duper screening processes are useless in detecting these common explosives. This makes sense if you consider that most detectors are based on density and not chemical composition. Sniffers should pick up this sort of thing, but evidently they are not used in most places, only X-ray (which dectects density, not composition).

    By the way, fruitcake looks just like plastique on most X-rays. It requires a sophisticated mulitband X-ray to distinguish the two.
    posted by warbaby at 11:27 AM on August 10, 2006


    WhipSmart writes "They must have specific knowledge of the possible use of a liquid explosive to be making these requirements... it sounds horrid to make a mother taste her own breastmilk, but a taste is all that is required... you don't have to guzzle the bottle..."

    First I don't see why it is horrid, it's just breatmilk not a urine sample. Second, how many of these explosives are instantly poisonous in small quantities? Nitroglycerin isn't for example, it is a common medication.

    bmpetow writes "msnbc.com says bush is on his ranch in texas for vacation"
    And,

    amberglow writes "Why does this stuff and the raising of the fear levels always happen when Bush is on vacation? Was there another PDB?"

    Bush is on or traveling to/from vacation about 27% of the time. So at any given emergancy there is a 1 in 4 chance Bush is on vacation.

    "National ID Cards? Soon they will tattoo 'American' at birth on our foreheads.>"

    Where is the money in that? You'll be RIFD chipped like dogs instead.

    eriko writes "I'm wondering how to travel if they bar carryons. I can't risk losing my meds, and I'm not about to risk the notebook that I frequently have to carry (or risk having to fly back home suddenly to deal with a problem -- I can't count on having a secure computer at J Random Hotel.) "

    Yep, I'm not flying if I have to check 10Gs in computer and photography equipment.
    posted by Mitheral at 11:28 AM on August 10, 2006


    Missed it on preview, but TAAP is not a liquid.
    posted by warbaby at 11:29 AM on August 10, 2006


    each of them in their own comfortably padded box


    posted by ericb at 11:29 AM on August 10, 2006


    What's your point?

    You said "Do you really not believe that there are people currently plotting to blow up civilians in the UK, US, and pretty much everywhere else?". I do believe there are. But so what? I don't believe that there's a huge number of "plotters" or that any more than a tiny fraction of them will ever come close to killing anyone.
    posted by cillit bang at 11:29 AM on August 10, 2006


    TATP
    posted by warbaby at 11:30 AM on August 10, 2006


    FedEx it ahead will be the new carry-on, if you can afford it. That's what biz travelers will do.

    I checked into this thread specifically for eriko's thoughts on the logistics of the plot/explosive. His comments were awesome in the last bomb scare.
    posted by Mid at 11:35 AM on August 10, 2006


    Is TATP a gas or a liquid?
    posted by Flashman at 11:35 AM on August 10, 2006


    Second, how many of these explosives are instantly poisonous in small quantities?

    There are not many substances that will make you die or even puke from one sip. Probably a lot fewer if we limit ourselves to things that have non-poisonous uses.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 11:38 AM on August 10, 2006


    There is no such thing as total security from terrorist activity. And if there were, I doubt very strongly our government could provide it. What they are supposed to provide, what our Constitution REQUIRES that they provide is LIBERTY. And they aren't doing it, in fact quite the opposite, and a lot of people don't even notice or care.

    Yeah, but the problem is that most people haven't thought it that far through - Can the government ever provide total security; where does this all lead?

    They're frightened, and their fear is amplified not just by those who seek to capitalize politicall off of it - and Cheney would be at the head of that "coward" line - but by the nature of the media itself, which hasn't stopped yapping about this all day long, filling its time and column inches with story after story, speculation after speculation; it gets to be all terror all the time, and it unnerves people.

    But the media being what it is, that's only going to become more pervasive; they will continue to ratchet up the fear to fever pitch, and people will either respond by tuning it out or by becoming more and more frightened - and more and more willing to give up various little incremental bits of freedom in order to feel safe.
    posted by kgasmart at 2:07 PM on August 10, 2006


    Milman Dan is urging us to trust and then he quotes JT Leroy. that's fucking funny.

    If we can't trust JT Leroy, who can we trust?
    posted by blucevalo at 2:11 PM on August 10, 2006


    Cheney would be at the head of that "coward" line

    The coward line is for cattle. You won't ever see Cheney waiting in it.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 2:12 PM on August 10, 2006


    Milman Dan is urging us to trust and then he quotes JT Leroy. that's fucking funny.

    Jeez, that is funny. I really had no idea JT Leroy was a hoax...

    I'm such an IDIOT! I'm STUPID! I HATE myself!
    posted by Milkman Dan at 2:20 PM on August 10, 2006


    Okay. So. No liquids on a plane unless it's baby's milk. You mean there's no solids or gasses that could be potentially explosive?

    A lot of folks here seems shocked at the banning of liquids, as though that were proof of governmental idiocy. It actually makes sense, if they didn't manage to get all of the people who might have been trying something.

    The government needs no more proof of idiocy.
    posted by hoborg at 2:24 PM on August 10, 2006


    It actually makes sense, if they didn't manage to get all of the people who might have been trying something.

    OK, maybe in the UK. But why in the US? Or were there US-based terrorists with explosives in Pepsi bottles too?
    posted by birdherder at 2:28 PM on August 10, 2006


    I want these motherfucking liquids off this motherfucking plane.
    posted by homunculus at 2:29 PM on August 10, 2006


    Milman Dan is urging us to trust and then he quotes JT Leroy. that's fucking funny.

    Jeez, that is funny. I really had no idea JT Leroy was a hoax...

    Don't give up so easy, MD. You used the JT Leroy quote ("snark is the new black") because of its value as a phrase, not because JT Leroy said it. Is the phrase any less meaningful to your point because the author was a hoax? ("JT Leroy was a hoax! Therefore, snark is not the new black!")
    posted by pardonyou? at 2:35 PM on August 10, 2006


    Pages and pages of paranoia and bitter argument before any salient facts are known. Is this the new media revolution I keep hearing about?
    posted by athenian at 2:40 PM on August 10, 2006


    "It actually makes sense, if they didn't manage to get all of the people who might have been trying something."

    It makes sense if this was some new terrorist method that we needed to get a handle on. But of course it's not new, and since terrorists actually tried something like this back in 1995 there can only be one reason for suddenly banning liquids - Creating fear.

    This threat has been here, and has been well known to the security folks, for the last ten years. If the TSA didn't have a handle on this threat then what the hell are they good for?

    Here's the deal - These guys have been under investigation for months. So FOR MONTHS the TSA has known about this threat. But JUST TODAY they decide to ban liquids?????? To believe this ban was about real security is to believe in nonsense. If it was about security they would have banned liquids months ago.
    posted by Wizzlet at 2:45 PM on August 10, 2006


    TATP is a powder, not a liquid. Making it on a plane from component would likely cause the death of the mixer well before any real detonation occured, if the smell didn't give it away. I'm positing that you're not smuggling on a fair amount of chemistry gear along with your bottles of components.

    The chances of 10 people walking onto 10 planes and setting off 10 large bottles of TATP are basically zero, since it is almost certain that at least one of them will go off early, if not all of them. TATP is very unstable.

    Nitroglycerine is worse. Just drop your bag onto the belt, and BOOM. Nitroglycerine is at least a high order explosive, but you need to be in the right place for a bottle of eyedrop's worth (about 2 fl Oz.) to take down a plane. Decompress, yes -- you could blow a big hole, definitly kill a couple of people, but you'd need to damage the frame enough to cause it to break up, or cause wing seperation, to down a plane with that little explosive. Nitroglycerine is powerful -- right up there with RDX, but it isn't a miracle explosive. I can buy a 20 oz bottle full of the stuff taking out a plane, what I can't buy is the bottle making it from the house to the plane.

    Making nitro on a plane is inane -- you need high grade nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and glycerine. You can use either White Fuming Nitric acid and sufuric acid, or fuming sulfuric acid and azeotropic nitric acid. Note the word "fuming". This will be noticed by the passengers, the crew, the smoke detectors. Heck, the bottles to contain these aren't trivial.

    Next, you mix them. They will get very hot. You now need to wait for them to cool, otherwise, the reaction won't work -- it'll kill you, as the tiny bit of nitroglycerin created explodes and coats you in the acids. But the plane will be fine.

    Okay, now that it is cool, stir in the glycerine. Normally, you'd do this over an ice bath, on a shelf over a large vat of icewater, and if the temperature started to rise rapidly, you'd pull a lever and dump the whole mess into the icewater to try and not die, but given that we're trying to blow up the plane, the right answer here is a hearty stir and a loud cry to whatever God's name you are trying to kill me. So, if you manage to smuggle two malodorous, very corrisive chemicals on board, and mix them, and wait a long time for them to cool down, yes, it would do the job.

    Not only not likley, but not plausible.

    Given that the mix has been said to be "a british form of gatorade and some powder", I'm very confused. What's special about this particular sugarwater. You're not talking very much powder at all. Even if it was powdered cesium, you'd get a big bang -- but it would happen instantly, and it wouldn't down the plane.

    My first thought was "pool chlorine and brake fluid", but that just burns, it doesn't explode. It might harm a few people by fire or by breathing chlorine, but to have a chance of downing an airliner, you'd need a few pounds of powder, and they have fire extinguishers aboard.

    This idea that they can't even trust bottles you buy behind security is insane. If it is just a powder that makes liquid explode, then why are they still serving drinks on airplanes?

    If it is an explosive liquid, why are they allowing this? You save a plane, but wipe out part of the terminal.

    I need a binary explosive that is easy to carry in individual components, and can be easily mixed into an explosive that won't go off before the mixing is complete, but will do so aftewards.

    What we have as evidence.

    A 'British form of gatorade' is involved. So, one of your components is sugar water with some extra electrolytes -- a few milligrams of sodium and pottasium.

    Electronic devices were to be used as detonators. So, this isn't a primary explosive (which eliminates TATP and Nitro -- the detonator for both is "drop kick")

    So. Your mission, if you choose, is to find me a chemical that, in rational amounts, you can mix with Gatorade to form a stable explosive, that you can then use a device to detonate at will.

    That's the problem. I'd almost buy TATP as the explosive, esp. if someone came up with a trick to make it a hair more stable. But what they are telling me is that someone has a trick that will turn sugar water into a bomb able to drop a plane, without a massive, instant reaction. We know there isn't a reaction, because of the requirement for a detonator (that's why we can't have ipods, etc. on UK flights.)

    Not only do I know of nothing that matches this, I don't even know anything close. It sounds like a water-gel explosive, but those show up on explosive tests quite easily. They're very well known, and you still have the detonator.

    Something's not right here.
    posted by eriko at 2:47 PM on August 10, 2006 [19 favorites]


    Ok, I'm encouraging someone to tell me if I'm wrong here... but wouldn't it be possible to put explosive device X containing whatever undetetcable substance into a checked bag and set up some sort of innocuous looking timer (like, connected to a travel alarm clock or even digital watch)? Set for +3:00hrs, and by the time it hits zero, the plane's in the air somewhere. Blammo. And because it was a checked bag, it got on the plane with very little scrutiny.
    posted by ninjew at 2:51 PM on August 10, 2006


    "Is this the new media revolution I keep hearing about?"

    No. This is the new fashion of not waiting for the government to tell us what is going on. It turns out they lie most of the time. Ditto for mainstream media, which tends to be about infotainment rather than facts.

    There are plenty of salient facts known. We're discussing those. But of course others may feel free to just watch the news and be told what to think. Discussion can be hard to follow.
    posted by Wizzlet at 2:52 PM on August 10, 2006


    I would like two lines, leading to seperate terminals, and seperate aircraft.

    Coward and No Coward.


    I'd opt for the Noël Coward one.
    posted by patricio at 2:53 PM on August 10, 2006


    Politicizing the terrorist plot
    posted by homunculus at 2:54 PM on August 10, 2006


    "Nitroglycerine is worse."

    Since terrorists have already used such bombs I find your assertion a bit weak.
    posted by Wizzlet at 3:01 PM on August 10, 2006


    None of the details about the explosive make any sense. There are NO binary explosives made without some very reactive, toxic, or really smelly chemicals. (No, I'm not going to list them here.)

    Gatorade? Sugar? WTF? Explosives made on the plane with "common household" chemicals? This is nonsense. TATP uses one VERY reactive ingredient, requires careful control of temperature and pH, etc. etc.

    The details on this story are just noise.

    I'd say wait for it instead of spinning up a bunch of bootless speculation.
    posted by warbaby at 3:04 PM on August 10, 2006


    > Pages and pages of paranoia and bitter argument before any salient facts are known.
    > Is this the new media revolution I keep hearing about?

    It is the blogosphere, writ small (in a large thread.) But before that for many years it was Usenet--somewhat different in form, identical in (lack of) substance. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
    posted by jfuller at 3:10 PM on August 10, 2006


    Is TATP a gas or a liquid?

    Acetone peroxide (triacetone triperoxide, peroxyacetone, TATP, TCAP) is an organic peroxide...and takes the form of a white crystalline powder. It "...has recently appeared as a weapon in the Middle East. TATP has been used by suicide bombers in Israel, and was chosen as a detonator in 2001 by the thwarted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid."
    posted by ericb at 3:15 PM on August 10, 2006


    Explosives Can Be Hidden In Devices, Liquids
    ”The next terrorist attack could be carried out by airline passengers who hide bomb ingredients in hair gel or baby milk bottles and assemble their weapon in a locked restroom, security experts warn.

    …Bomb experts and troubleshooters for airline security interviewed by The Associated Press said mobile phones, computers, wrist watches or anything else with a battery should be prohibited from flights.

    Perhaps most chillingly, they warned that security staff at airports are not looking for the right things — and the change in tactics required would likely overwhelm current security operations.
    ‘That theater we see, of people taking off shoes, is not going to stop a suicide bomber. The terrorists have already sniffed out the weak spots and are adopting new tactics,’ said Irish security analyst Tom Clonan, who noted that security measures usually are designed for the last attack, not the next threat.

    He said a terrorist group will almost certainly try to blow up a plane with a bomb assembled on board unless security measures improve fundamentally.

    …The technology for the kind of liquid or crystallized explosives possibly involved in the thwarted terror plot is not new." [more]
    posted by ericb at 3:16 PM on August 10, 2006


    This idea that they can't even trust bottles you buy behind security is insane. If it is just a powder that makes liquid explode, then why are they still serving drinks on airplanes?
    - eriko

    Yeah, that struck me as really really strange. Way weird.
    posted by raedyn at 3:19 PM on August 10, 2006


    What Washington can learn from Britain's foiled terror plot.
    posted by homunculus at 3:19 PM on August 10, 2006


    "Plotters hoped to stage a dry run within two days, according to U.S. intelligence officials. The actual attack would have followed within days.

    The test run was designed to see whether the plotters would be able to smuggle the needed materials aboard the planes, these officials said. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject matter.

    ...U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the terrorists planned to use liquid explosives disguised as beverages and other common products and set them off with detonators disguised as electronic devices.

    A counterterrorism official with knowledge of the plot and Thursday’s arrests told NBC News that the plotters, who ranged in age from 17 to 35, planned to use false-bottomed sports drink bottles to bring the liquids on board.

    The terrorists on each plane would combine the separated liquids mid-flight to create an explosive solution.

    An American law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation said it appeared the liquid to be used was a 'peroxide-based solution' to be detonated by an electronic device that was not specified, but could be anything from a disposable camera to a portable digital music player."

    [NBC News | August 10, 2006]
    posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on August 10, 2006


    When we travel, we have to show proper ID to a governmental authority. Why? Why does the government need to know where we're going?

    John Gilmore has been asking that question for a number of years now:
    "I'm suing TSA to make them stop demanding that citizens identify themselves in order to travel. Not only airports, but trains, cruise ships, and some buses, are now "asking for" IDs. You can't read the rules -- they define your rights and obligations, but they're super secret information (SSI). We've petitioned the US Supreme Court to examine whether the Feds can enforce secret regulations.

    If you politely decline to show ID whenever someone asks (or demands) it, you will discover what your rights are. You'll be surprised. Most of the people who were asking for it have no right to demand it. They've been relying on your voluntary cooperation. Hmm, they forgot to tell you that part; but you just found it out for yourself."
    Gilmore v. Gonzales.
    posted by ericb at 3:35 PM on August 10, 2006


    ... the banning of liquids ... actually makes sense

    First came 911 and they took away my pocket knife. Then came Richard Reid and they made me take off my shoes. Today they discover a plot involving liquid explosives and they take away my water bottle. I tell you, the day they find some guy smuggling Semtex up his butt is the day I stop flying.
    posted by JackFlash at 3:38 PM on August 10, 2006



    posted by ericb at 3:40 PM on August 10, 2006


    BurningFarts.com.
    posted by ericb at 3:41 PM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Lieberman Seizes on Terror Arrests to Attack Rival (NYT)
    posted by R. Mutt at 3:50 PM on August 10, 2006


    Holy Joe's being his usual modest self. On Tuesday night after he lost, he actually took a Gulfstream to London and personally busted the 20 or so plotters with his bare, righteous hands.

    Seriously. Dick Cheney was there too, shotgun and all.
    posted by bardic at 3:56 PM on August 10, 2006


    No Safer Since 9/11.
    posted by ericb at 4:00 PM on August 10, 2006


    Netflix delivered "V for Vendetta" yesterday and I got to watch it last night. It was terrific for many reasons; I wish I'd seen it at the movie theater.

    Went to bed, put the BBC on sleep mode (BBC newscasters put me to sleep better than pills or whisky), and they're jabbering politely about the terrible terrorisms, the important new laws that will have to be passed, how it's "good news" for Blair, etc. Perfect! I wish everybody could've enjoyed that combination of media.

    Today's terror show is bullshit. Here are some fun facts: Blair and Bush (and their staffs) have been planning this for over a week. That's right. They've been on the phone every day (Bush in Crawford, Blair in the Caribbean) working out just when to drop this manufactured fear bomb. It's a months-old investigation, most likely involving the usual MI6/MI5/CIA double agents trying to rile up some pissed-off young Pakistanis to do something. Or, considering the bumbling murderers who handle the U.K. terror raids, the whole investigation may revolve around a Jamaican guy selling bootleg dub CDs.

    Apparently, the political situation got much uglier for Blair yesterday. There's a full-on Labour rebellion and as of last night, there were more than 150 MPs ready to come back early from vacation -- to kick Blair's bloodstained ass right out of Downing St.

    From what I can figure, the Bush camp didn't want to waste this act so early -- they wanted to save it for closer to the Sept. 11 anniversary, which is prime General Election campaign season this year -- but Blair was in such trouble that it had to go out now.

    Don't worry, though. Once this is forgotten in the United States (about a week from now, like all the other fake terra), something special will be cooked up to make sure we "never forget" September 11.
    posted by kenlayne at 4:03 PM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    You must be alive to be glib.
    posted by HTuttle at 4:03 PM on August 10, 2006


    A counterterrorism official with knowledge of the plot and Thursday’s arrests told NBC News that the plotters, who ranged in age from 17 to 35, planned to use false-bottomed sports drink bottles to bring the liquids on board.

    This "counterterrosim official" has either never looked at a plastic bottle on xray, or is lying to you.

    A false bottom would very clearly stand out. Polymer bottles are by no means radiotransparent.
    posted by eriko at 4:03 PM on August 10, 2006


    You must be alive to be glib.

    Perhaps. But these days, you have to be dead to be free.
    posted by solid-one-love at 4:10 PM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Live Free or Die!


    posted by ericb at 4:13 PM on August 10, 2006


    Welcome to suckerville. From Times Online
    Although reports that Mr Bush was woken at his ranch in Texas yesterday morning by a call from Tony Blair were denied by the White House, the two leaders had been in regular touch — as recently as Sunday — about British police efforts to track and capture those behind the aircraft plot.

    American authorities were told about a fortnight agoof an “accelerating plan” to target US airlines flying from Britain to Los Angeles, Washington and New York. One official was quoted yesterday as saying that British authorities would not have arrested the suspects “if they hadn’t thought these guys were ready to go — the trip line had been reached — they dropped the hammer when they did because they thought they were out of time”.
    There was no political timing here whatsoever. None at all. Not a single bit.

    If this was a dry run, why the sudden need to arrest them at takeoff? So that's a lie as well -- or somebody's just talking out of thier ass.

    They had these guys watched for two weeks, but felt the need to arrest them today -- after Bush and Blair talked?

    Sure, there's NOTHING FUCKING FUNNY ABOUT THIS TIMING.
    posted by eriko at 4:14 PM on August 10, 2006


    Welcome to suckerville. From Times Online
    Although reports that Mr Bush was woken at his ranch in Texas yesterday morning by a call from Tony Blair were denied by the White House, the two leaders had been in regular touch — as recently as Sunday — about British police efforts to track and capture those behind the aircraft plot.

    American authorities were told about a fortnight agoof an “accelerating plan” to target US airlines flying from Britain to Los Angeles, Washington and New York. One official was quoted yesterday as saying that British authorities would not have arrested the suspects “if they hadn’t thought these guys were ready to go — the trip line had been reached — they dropped the hammer when they did because they thought they were out of time”.
    There was no political timing here whatsoever. None at all. Not a single bit.

    If this was a dry run, why the sudden need to arrest them at takeoff? So that's a lie as well -- or somebody's just talking out of thier ass.

    They had these guys watched for two weeks, but felt the need to arrest them today -- after Bush and Blair talked?

    Sure, there's NOTHING FUCKING FUNNY ABOUT THIS TIMING.
    posted by eriko at 4:14 PM on August 10, 2006


    Given little excuse to grow larger, it would be easy to think that a rectum could never pose a threat to our communal security. Sleeping in bed, undercover of a warm duvet has been considered to be so quotidian that we should look elsewhere for risk. A clever trick played on us I say. For risk exists not only in our beds, and beneath our duvets but up our own arseholes. Yes they do grow larger, each minute and every day. Calm down, please be calm.. we can fight this. We might even win. Ah so now you want my advice? Well I suggest you suck on lemons, and make your sphincters all the more tight. If in life one is given terrorism one should make Gatorade.
    posted by econous at 4:16 PM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    White House Official Gleeful That Terrorists Wanted to Kill Thousands of Americans:

    "'Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big,' said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't 'look as appealing' under the circumstances."

    [Agence France-Presse | August 11, 2006]
    posted by ericb at 4:18 PM on August 10, 2006


    eriko writes "They had these guys watched for two weeks, but felt the need to arrest them today -- after Bush and Blair talked? "

    Here's my question: so they've known about the plot for at least two weeks, which means they've been aware of the danger of allowing liquids onto airliners for at least that long. Why did they wait until today to ban liquids on airliners? Certainly they couldn't assume that the terror cell they were aware of was the only one with this liquid explosive technology? What if another cell had struck with a liquid explosive attack in the intervening time? Certainly, now that this cell has been arrested, the threat of a liquid explosive attack is less than it was yesterday. But the knowledge of the possibility of such an attack is unchanged. So why wait for today to ban liquids?
    posted by mr_roboto at 4:23 PM on August 10, 2006



    posted by econous at 4:48 PM on August 10, 2006


    Jesus Christ, you guys are paranoid bastards. I mean, seriously. You guys make Coast to Coast listeners look reasonable.
    posted by keswick at 4:49 PM on August 10, 2006


    Don't look to the Government for wisdom. As I get older I get more and more shocked at the stupidity of those who are supposedly superiors.

    Lieutenant Laker: He was your superior, wasn't he?
    Graham Marshall: No, he was my boss.


    eriko on the questionable effectiveness of the plot:

    Not only do I know of nothing that matches this, I don't even know anything close. It sounds like a water-gel explosive, but those show up on explosive tests quite easily. They're very well known, and you still have the detonator.

    Something's not right here.


    Well, I can't speak for the UK but the open secret in the US is how insecure all the -other- points of entrance and exit are at the airport. It's hard to get a job as a pilot anymore but I do wonder at the havoc that could be created if they got some folk into flight attendant jobs. Every time I see flight staff going in they get fairly minimal scanning and at Dulles airport there's not one of those puffers where they enter....
    posted by phearlez at 4:51 PM on August 10, 2006


    So why wait for today to ban liquids?
    posted by mr_roboto at 4:23 PM PST


    What makes you think the leadership cares what happens to the citizens?
    posted by rough ashlar at 4:56 PM on August 10, 2006


    The coward line is for cattle. You won't ever see Cheney waiting in it.

    sonofsamiam: i disagree. imo cheney's the worst kind of coward there is. the kind who's afraid to play fair. the kind who stabs you in the back or jumps you in a dark alley and considers it an exercise of 'ingenuinity' or 'toughness' rather than seeing it for the basic act of cowardice, laziness and moral weakness it actually is.

    basically, Cheney's a walking dead man, like the guy Dante wrote about in the Inferno, whose soul had long ago been consigned to eternal damnation even as the hollowed out husk of his body kept right on going through the empty gestures of a human life. that's why nothing ever seems to rattle him.
    posted by saulgoodman at 5:15 PM on August 10, 2006


    I'm baffled. With all the holes in our security and enforcement, why begin screening for liquid explosives after the only known plotters have been arrested? How could we possibly assume that a parallel group wasn't planning an identical plot that was unknown and scheduled to take place last Thursday?
    posted by VulcanMike at 5:26 PM on August 10, 2006


    Another crock---a dry run hadn't even happened, and they did this to 2 countries' flights. Totally political, as usual. We'll find out tomorrow that they had never purchased chemicals too i bet.
    posted by amberglow at 5:31 PM on August 10, 2006


    It's a months-old investigation, most likely involving the usual MI6/MI5/CIA double agents trying to rile up some pissed-off young Pakistanis to do something.

    Like those Canadians and the Miami fools. All these are crocks. Enough already.
    posted by amberglow at 5:34 PM on August 10, 2006


    BoingBoing is carrying pictures of how security officials are disposing of liquids, which allegedly become explosive when mixed. . .
    posted by Jimbob at 5:41 PM on August 10, 2006


    "With all the holes in our security and enforcement, why begin screening for liquid explosives after the only known plotters have been arrested? How could we possibly assume that a parallel group wasn't planning an identical plot that was unknown and scheduled to take place last Thursday?"

    These lines of argument aren't convincing to me. I'm no expert on criminal investigations, but it's well-known how law enforcement is only beginning the investigation when they've learned of a criminal conspiracy. Oftentimes, they have little choice but to wait until the criminals begin their planned action. This is probably even more true with intelligence operations because infiltrating a conspiracy is difficult and usually only results in very limited information as to all the people involved, methods, etc.

    This is the kind of ongoing investigation that is important enough to reach the highest levels of the two governments involved—it's no suprise that both Bush and Blair have been aware of it.

    And putting in brand-new airport screening procedures against stuff that this group was planning to do would of course have alerted the terrorists. For the police, there's always going to be big benefits from waiting and not acting too early against a criminal conspiracy—they're going to wait until almost the last minute, until the optimal balance between public safety and avoiding an alerting of the targets and making arrests that won't result in good prosecutions.

    Finally, given how obvious it is that new restrictions offer only marginal safety improvements, of course the government wouldn't prohibit every single possible thing that could be used to hijack or blow-up a plane. Instead, they'd focus on the most dangerous and the most likely. Certainly after today, many more potential terrorists are aware of the possibilities of liquid explosives than they were yesterday. So these liquid items weren't restricted ten years ago, or yesterday, but they are today.

    I'm perfectly willing to believe that the Bush administration, and possibly the Blair government, could manipulate these sorts of investigations and the resulting publicity for political purposes. I'm sure they do, at least to some minimal degree and probably moreso. But the arguments so far presented in this thread for how this current episode is mostly a political operation all seem extremely weak to me.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:53 PM on August 10, 2006


    *coughs*

    I don't know. But why assume it doesn't exist? I'd bet you $100 it does exist. I'm nearly positive that all the agencies involved are perfectly prepared today to respond to 9-11. Not that it's very relevant anymore. The military is always prepared to fight the previous war.-- August 6th.
    posted by amberglow at 5:58 PM on August 10, 2006


    > Sure, there's NOTHING FUCKING FUNNY ABOUT THIS TIMING.

    Hee hee. That's leadership, eriko, that's Bush and Blair giving you a lead and hoping you get a clue. Exactly what leaders are paid to do.
    posted by jfuller at 6:01 PM on August 10, 2006


    Ethereal Bligh writes "And putting in brand-new airport screening procedures against stuff that this group was planning to do would of course have alerted the terrorists. For the police, there's always going to be big benefits from waiting and not acting too early against a criminal conspiracy—they're going to wait until almost the last minute, until the optimal balance between public safety and avoiding an alerting of the targets and making arrests that won't result in good prosecutions."

    But this is exactly the opposite of what we've seen in police responses to the terrorist cells in Toronto and Miami, where arrests were made and conspiracy charges were filed before the suspects made any concrete moves. Certainly protecting airline passengers from liquid explosives is more important than any individual prosecution: after all, there's no way that law enforcement could have been sure that this was the only terrorist cell pursuing such a technology.

    Also, I wouldn't argue that these particular arrests are merely a political operation. Such claims are pretty feeble, I think. However, I do think that the new security measures are largely a matter of public relations. I would guess that not many potential terrorists learned about liquid explosives today; it's a pretty obvious method, frankly. The public, however, is newly aware of this threat, and security services are responding to this new awareness by going though the motions of implementing new security measures. Like most airport security measures, however, they're mostly just theater.
    posted by mr_roboto at 6:07 PM on August 10, 2006


    Another crock---a dry run hadn't even happened, and they did this to 2 countries' flights. Totally political, as usual. We'll find out tomorrow that they had never purchased chemicals too i bet.

    Not until we invade Iran on the pretext that they might have Gatorade and iPods.
    posted by Foosnark at 6:09 PM on August 10, 2006


    Amberglow, you're really either an idiot or dishonest, aren't you?

    That statement was made in the thread linking to the confusion at NEADS on 9-11. It specifically responded to this question, which immediately preceded what you quote above:

    "So where's the reorganization, what's the plan, and where's the new training? "

    What about this event today in the UK involves the North East Air Defense Sector? Hmm?

    And as far as that quote of mine goes, and the bet, even the linked article that spawned that thread mentions that, since 9-11, the thirty-year old nearly useless radar technology that NEADS was using to track planes has been replaced by state-of-the-art stuff. No one has come along to demonstrate that there hasn't been a reorginization at NEADS (well, many of those people are retired now, that probably counts), or new plans, or new training. But, like I said, that's a military organization and military organizations are always prepared to fight the last war.

    Not that any of that has any fucking thing to do with this thread.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:15 PM on August 10, 2006


    ericb: I'm familiar with John Gilmore, his campaign is actually what got me started thinking about all this. I pretty much skated through my 20s thinking that the way things were was just the way things were, and never questioning the necessity of "security measures." Well, then I found my brain, and started using it. I'm not saying I think the whole thing is some political or other conspiracy, I'm just thinking it all over.
    posted by jennaratrix at 6:16 PM on August 10, 2006


    "However, I do think that the new security measures are largely a matter of public relations. I would guess that not many potential terrorists learned about liquid explosives today; it's a pretty obvious method, frankly."

    Yeah, that's the other reason. As to your other point, well, as you say terrorists have probably known of this for a long time. We know they already tried such a thing ten years ago. I don't really understand your point about "what if others were about to use liquid explosives" because, assuming what you've written is true (about terrorists knowing about such methods for a long time) then we have a long time-span where they haven't been used. So the probability that two seperate groups unrelated to each other would plan to use liquid explosives in the last few weeks is pretty low and thus putting into place such resrictions for any public safety reason not involving this particular plot just wouldn't make any sense, particularly given that it would likely alert these guys that they were being watched.

    I don't think those of you making these arguments are really thinking things through. I understand the temptation to think the worst of Blair and Bush because I think the worst of Blair and Bush. I don't doubt that there's been political maniupation of the threat levels in the past. When you've got an administration that's as corrupt as this one is, then it's hard not to see everything as examples of that corruption. I disgaree with the arguments about large-scale political manipulation/manufacture of today's events not because I don't want to believe it, nor because I don't think they're capable of it, nor because I don't think they've done it before...but simply because the arguments presented have been extremely weak and the actions we've observed are consistent with the way things have generally been done in the past.

    As to your points about Toronto and Miami...well, looking just at Miami for an example, doesn't it seem like this was such a bunch of doofuses that a) the police probably had everything they needed and b) who knows when this group would likely have gotten around to actually doing anything? But, assuming those examples were comparable, then certainly I'll agree that the investigatory agencies don't always wait till the last minute. But I think it's the case that they often wait till the last minutes, or very late, and they do so because of many well-known practical considerations.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:26 PM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    jennaratrix -- yes ... Gilmore brings to light so many issues about which we should all be diligent.
    posted by ericb at 6:58 PM on August 10, 2006


    I read somewhere that more people die in the bathtub than they do on an airplane. I'm gonna stop bathing. That's not overreacting, is it?
    posted by ZachsMind at 6:59 PM on August 10, 2006


    And putting in brand-new airport screening procedures against stuff that this group was planning to do would of course have alerted the terrorists.

    Okay -- so we shouldn't set into place screening procedures for known vulnerabilities because, if we did, the t'ruists would find out? What? Huh?

    Better Airport Security Technology Goes Unused
    posted by ericb at 7:02 PM on August 10, 2006


    Not until we invade Iran on the pretext that they might have Gatorade and iPods.

    Is there a replay in play? Methinks there might be. Boogeymen prevail!
    Iran Bid to Acquire Yellowcake Uranium from the Congo.

    Bush's Famous 16 Words | State of the Union Address | January 28, 2003:
    “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .”
    Paging Mr. Joseph C. Wilson IV.
    posted by ericb at 7:12 PM on August 10, 2006


    Jimbob, that is a great picture. It demonstrates that this whole security thing is just a show for the rubes. I feel so much safer now.
    posted by JackFlash at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2006


    ...Snow said Bush first learned in detail about the plot on Friday, and received two detailed briefings on it on Saturday and Sunday, as well as had two conversations about it with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
    But a senior White House official said that the British government had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats as weak against terrorism. ...

    posted by amberglow at 7:21 PM on August 10, 2006


    I read somewhere that more people die in the bathtub than they do on an airplane. I'm gonna stop bathing. That's not overreacting, is it?

    ZachsMind -- for the benfit of yourself and all mankind, please don't stop bathing! ;)

    Drowning and submersion while in or falling into bath-tub

    Deaths: 332
    One-Year Odds: 876,054
    Lifetime Odds: 11,289

    Transport Accidents -- Air and space transport accidents

    Deaths: 742
    One-Year Odds: 391,981
    Lifetime Odds: 5,051

    Source: National Safety Council estimates based on data from National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau. Deaths are classified on the basis of the Tenth Revision of the World Health Organization's "The International Classification of Diseases" (ICD). Numbers following titles refer to External Cause of Morbidity and Mortality classifications in ICD-10. One year odds are approximated by dividing the 2003 population (290,850,005) by the number of deaths. Lifetime odds are approximated by dividing the one-year odds by the life expectancy of a person born in 2003 (77.6 years).
    posted by ericb at 7:22 PM on August 10, 2006


    *benfit*

    I meant to say Beneful.
    posted by ericb at 7:26 PM on August 10, 2006


    "Okay -- so we shouldn't set into place screening procedures for known vulnerabilities because, if we did, the t'ruists would find out? What? Huh?"

    Yeah, on the timescale of the last few weeks because you don't want to alert these terrorists that you know what their plans are. On the longer timescale, you don't prohibit liquids for the same reasons you don't prohibit every other single thing that terrorists could use...it greatly inconveniences people while making them only slightly more secure. You don't do it until you have a very specific reason to do it, and wiating until an actual attempt or a foiled plot using liquids is best because of course most people will then think the prohibition makes sense.

    We all remember, don't we, that this all started with 9-11 and boxcutters and therefore shortly included fingernail clippers among prohibited items? The problem is that all the most obvious and useful weapons and such have always been prohibited. What remains is a universe of possibilities, each of them not terribly likely in itself. If it were really and truly about maximizing security regardless of cost or inconvenience, everything but an airline-provided pair of sweatshirt and sweatpants would be prohibited and luggage would fly seperately.

    But it's mostly not about maximized safety. It's about increasing safety by prohibiting the things that terrorists are most likely to use, and once something's been used, because of publicitly, it becomes much more likely to be used in the future if it's not prohibited. (No one thought to use knives and storm the cabin before 9-11, but if nothing had changed, does anyone doubt it would only have been a short matter of time until someone else tried this, too?) So they prohibit the well-known things in addition to the obvious and most deadly things. And the prohibit the most well-known things also as a sop to fear.

    The list will keep growing and growing until people finally get fed up with the whole exercise and realize that they're not that likely to die in a plane from terrorism even if we went back to pre-9-11 security.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:29 PM on August 10, 2006


    A friend flying in from Texas to NYC tonight was delayed. I called him on his cellphone and he was stuck at the airport in Houston. He chuckled it wasn't so rough for him as the woman in front of him who had her contraceptive jelly for her diaphragm AND her toothpaste confiscated under the new no liquids on board rule.
    posted by nickyskye at 7:30 PM on August 10, 2006


    "..Snow said Bush first learned in detail about the plot on Friday, and received two detailed briefings on it on Saturday and Sunday, as well as had two conversations about it with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
    But a senior White House official said that the British government had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats as weak against terrorism. ..."


    Yeah, I read that article. I'm remaining skeptical until we get more sources for this. And the other problem with this, as it's phrased in the article, is that it's implied (and amberglow and others are assuming) that there's a cause-and-effect relationship between when the British launched the raid and Cheney's conference call. The phrasing implies a relationship, but literally it's only reporting a statement of fact—the delay between Bush and Blair learning of this on Friday and the actual raid today could be due to any number of non-political things.

    Let's think about this with no assumptions: police and/or intelligence agencies learn of a very serious and credible plot of this kind. When are the heads of government notified about it? The day before the police plan the raid? Two weeks? A month or more when the police are only beginning their investigation? It seems to me that common sense and bureaucratic ass-covering would indicate that stuff would be sent up the chain to the highest levels neither too early or too late. Not at the earliest opportunity (lots of stuff at this stage, the response would likely be "why are you telling me about all this when you don't know very much and can't answer my questions?") and not only immediately before ("why am I learning of this only now?"). In that context, one week before sounds about right.

    Also, assuming the worst implied by that article, we've got Cheney asking for a delay of a two or three days so that he can exploit this politically. That's objectionable and slimy, but it's still a long way from the claim that this is mostly a product of political manipulation. According to the article, Bush and Blair were informed on Friday, and six days later arrests are made.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:44 PM on August 10, 2006


    Here's a quote from the NYT, talking about a memo released today to US and British security services, which describes some of the reasoning for the timing:

    "The American counter-terrorism official who described plans for the dry run said several of the suspected plotters arrested in Britain had traveled to Pakistan in the past two weeks and may have met with at least one person suspected of having links to Al Qaeda.

    The suspected Qaeda operative was arrested within the past two days, the official said. That arrest impelled the British officials to round up the two dozen suspects for fear that they would become wary of detection."

    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:56 PM on August 10, 2006



    “...it's well-known how law enforcement is only beginning the investigation when they've learned of a criminal conspiracy...”
    - Ethereal Bligh

    Like in June of 2004 when Ashcroft saved an Ohio shopping mall from being blowed up by Nuradin Abdi who had been in jail since Nov. 2003 and his buddy (Iyman Faris, also in jail since ‘03, and who told al Qaeda “the weather is too hot” to go through with the plan to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge) who hatched the scheme in a training camp in March of 2000?

    Or like when Padillia was busted in May of 2002 but it was a whole month before Ashcroft announced that he was arrested (coincidentally shortly after congressional testimony about the FBI’s (and Ashcroft’s) failures before 9/11)?

    Or when Ashcroft on On May 26 of 2004 held a press conference to say al Qaeda was "almost ready to attack the United States" and had the "specific intention to hit the United States hard."

    Or two days after Kerry picked Edwards as his running mate Tom Ridge similarly announced “Al Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States.”

    Or the announcement of the capture of Pakistani terror suspect Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani at midnight Pakistani time? But during the DNC on July 29 just before Kerry’s speech on U.S. time? When he had been captured five days earlier?

    Or Ridge again announcing exposives, pathogens etc. in NYC days later - despite the information he cited being three years old?

    Or FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford announcing on the same day Kerry criticized Bushco for not letting lower cost prescription drugs in from Canada that al Qaeda would attempt to attack the U.S. through imported prescription drugs?

    That the sort of high level law enforcement investigation techniques you’re thinking of?

    I’m with you on the skepticism Ethereal Bligh - but I look at it from the other side - these are politicians, not law enforcement personnel. Law enforcement are the guys who investigate and arrest these people and hold them. And there’s a difference between the investigation and the announcements.They don’t have to be aware of all aspects of it, nor aware of it at all for such a matter to be well handled. But they can certainly dictate the press announcements of it. And cops are definately locked down when it comes to talking to reporters. So from the other side of the equation, given earlier exploitation and/or fabrication what about this situation prevents it from being exploited for personal gain by politicians? It has all the elements of a crime, they have motive and opportunity. There is a history of it with this administration (and indeed, from a wide variety of politicians thru history - Clinton of course). Once the danger has passed, if any, there’s no reason not to manipulate the timing for political gain. That said I reserve judgement until I see proof. Coincidences exist. Coincidences happen all the time. This does not mean we should trust coincidences.
    posted by Smedleyman at 7:58 PM on August 10, 2006 [3 favorites]


    "A String of attacks that will continue and become stronger"
    posted by homunculus at 8:04 PM on August 10, 2006


    Eriko + etc, please read this article:

    Washington Post article titled "Making a Liquid Bomb Is Not Hard, Experts Say"
    "Many easily obtained liquid chemicals can be used to produce an explosive capable of causing a devastating fire or blast aboard an airplane, experts said yesterday.

    While hesitant to provide a specific recipe that would aid terrorists, several experts said it would not be difficult to obtain a liquid explosive or chemical mixture that could be smuggled in."
    ....
    "But terrorists could simply carry aboard a plane the two chemicals used to make TATP -- acetone and hydrogen peroxide. Acetone is the same substance found in most nail polish remover. Hydrogen peroxide in a very diluted form can be purchased at any drugstore as an antiseptic. The highly concentrated versions necessary to create an explosion can be obtained commercially.

    When the chemicals are mixed together, "chances are it will instantaneously and violently react," said Neal Langerman, a chemical industry consultant who acts as a spokesman for the American Chemical Society. "If it didn't, you can stick in a detonator, hook it up to the battery in your iPod, and you're dead."

    Is it BS? If so, does it require an apology or at least a reappraisal of the situtation? I'd bet a good deal this "big thing" is the real thing, and not an overreaction. Or realted to Lieberman. Lierberman? Wow. Just wow....

    I would also suggest folks interested in this subject read Ron Suskind's book "The One Percent Solution". It is prety cool look at how the US (both Cheney-bots and CIA folks) reacted to 911. It both nails Cheney and explains how those sorts of folks things in a there--not-dr.evel-butare really fucked in what they think and a device called the mubtakkar, which massively suprising and depressing in that it was a cheap, easy and new way that Al-Queda figured out how to deliver chemical weapons. 911 was a pretty impressive and new idea on destruction. These folks aren't idiots.
    posted by superchris at 8:06 PM on August 10, 2006


    ok, i suck at typing and apologize if things were previously posted regarding this, since this is a huge ass thread, and new info has come out in the press during it, but...

    I meant to write
    "--not-Dr.Evil-but-are-really-fucked-in-what-they-think and "
    when i wrote
    "--not-dr.evel-butare really fucked in what they think and "

    though neither would pass a grammar check and I do not mean to desmirch the reputation of Dr. Evelbutare or his fucking
    posted by superchris at 8:13 PM on August 10, 2006


    desmirch? desmirch? Ok, clearly I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. It was Samuelk Jackson who DDOS's Lieberman's site and setup this whole thing. Who put these mutherfucking sheiks on my mutherfucking plane?
    posted by superchris at 8:20 PM on August 10, 2006


    And more on the timing from the Guardian:
    Downing Street admitted Tony Blair would not have left the country on Monday for his Caribbean holiday if he had known the police would need to swoop so quickly to disrupt a terrorist plot. He has known about it in general terms for months, and has spoken to President George Bush about it on a number of occasions. The two leaders discussed it in more detail on Sunday, during a conversation on a secure line in which the prime minister outlined what he knew of the British cell being monitored by the security services.

    ...

    From his holiday home, he spoke again to Mr Bush on Wednesday around 8pm UK time, again mentioning the security threat, but primarily discussing fresh plans to break the deadlock at the UN on the Middle East. Hours later police and security services were in contact with their US partners to say a specific threat was being acted upon.

    The decision to sanction the raids took ministers by surprise.
    That article, although it raises the question implicitly, doesn't explain the decision to act today. Assuming we can trust the memo the NYT describes, the explanation is the arrest of the suspected Al Qaeda contact in Pakistan yesterday.

    Smedlyman, while I agree with you about this admin's history of manipulation of the press and manufacture or threats, my argument is that in this case there isn't the evidence that this is what's going on. And the specific argument I was responding to when I talked about "investigative techniques" was one that asked why the authorities didn't act earlier.

    You say that this looks like the examples you list. But it doesn't look like those examples at all.

    That Guardian article says very explicitly that the timing was dictacted by the police, not by the politicians. Maybe that's not true. But it's not like the Guardian is the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

    The reason that people make fun of conspiracy theorists is not because conspiracies don't exist. Of course conspiracies exist, and they exist at high places. Conspiracy theorists aren't being made fun of because they're thought to be too skeptical and those ridiculing them think themselves credulous. No, I make fun of conspiracy theorists because they're not skeptical, they're credulous to the point of gullibility. They are motivated by their feelings and their simplistic worldview. The whole point of conspiracy theories is to simplify the world, not complicate it, by virtue of taking as a priori that there are a few guiding principles and/or agencies behind most events. For conspiracy theorists, the burden of proof is always on those who disbelieve, to prove that the conspiracy doesn't exist. Furthermore, while these conspiracy theorists take the position that conspiracies and mendacity are universal among their enemies, they don't expect conspiracies and mendacity from their allies. Thus is explained the craziness of how right-wing libertarians worry about the supposed fascism of the UN, the fascism of the FBI under Reno, but think that the Bush admin are a bunch of heros with everyone's best interests at heart. Where's their vaunted skepticism?

    It's not really very clever to assume that your enemies are always lying to you. What's clever is to learn to tell the difference between when your enemies are lying to you and when they're telling the truth, and, even more importantly, to learn to tell the difference between the truth and lies from your friends. Expecting your enemies to always lie to you and assume they do, without proof or real investigation? That's not cleverness, that's foolishness and there's been a lot of it in this thread.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:24 PM on August 10, 2006 [3 favorites]


    superchris writes "'But terrorists could simply carry aboard a plane the two chemicals used to make TATP -- acetone and hydrogen peroxide. Acetone is the same substance found in most nail polish remover. Hydrogen peroxide in a very diluted form can be purchased at any drugstore as an antiseptic. The highly concentrated versions necessary to create an explosion can be obtained commercially.

    "When the chemicals are mixed together, 'chances are it will instantaneously and violently react,' said Neal Langerman, a chemical industry consultant who acts as a spokesman for the American Chemical Society. 'If it didn't, you can stick in a detonator, hook it up to the battery in your iPod, and you're dead.'

    "Is it BS?"


    Maybe.

    I'm not going to pretend to be an expert here, but I'm pretty sure Neal Langerman isn't an expert either. You see, long ago--long, long before the war on terror--I knew a few guys who liked to experiment with this stuff, and I don't think it's as easy as Langerman describes. You have to run the reaction in very acidic conditions (so that's three chemicals you'll need, not two), and it's a precipitation reaction: the peroxyacetone product is a powder that slowly drops out of solution. If I remember correctly (and again, this is second-hand knowledge, I have never and would never do anything like this myself), the precipitate then had to be dried to get anything other than a slow burn (well, OK, a quick burn, but definitely not an explosion). This took a couple of days. You could get a really nice bang out if then; definitely more impressive than black powder.
    posted by mr_roboto at 8:33 PM on August 10, 2006


    it's occured to me that maybe we're not being told the whole truth here ... instead of mixing two liquids to cause an explosion, perhaps the terrorists were going to mix two liquids to create a deadly gas ... if it poisons everyone on the plane, it wouldn't have to be blown up
    posted by pyramid termite at 9:00 PM on August 10, 2006


    mr_roboto, I don't know the chemistry as well as you, but, in terms of this thread we have ericb (as i incorrectly refered to as eriko, god my typing sucks.) vs Neal Langerman (and some Israeli security guy who many I would discounut because of that description) as reported by the Washington Post.

    Quick Google of Dr. Neal Langerman gives.

    "Dr. Neal Langerman received his bachelors degree in Chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and Thermodynamics from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. In 1980, after fifteen years teaching chemistry and biochemistry, he helped establish Chemical Safety Associates, Inc. In 1997, he established a new firm, ADVANCED CHEMICAL SAFETY, which is specifically dedicated to the prevention of workplace injuries, illnesses and environmental damage. Dr. Langerman consults with many companies, worldwide, in general industry as well as in the semiconductor industry to improve chemical handling practices, develop emergency response teams, and upgrade industry safety practices. His areas of expertise include chemical safety, environmental protection, regulatory compliance, and training. Dr. Langerman is a Registered Environmental Assessor and a Certified Environmental Inspector. He is experienced with air modeling and environmental remediation. He provides litigation support and expert testimony related to Failure-to-Warn litigation and chemical accident investigations, and prepares precautionary labels for chemical containers and Material Safety Data Sheets for chemical products. Dr. Langerman has been providing safety, health, and environmental consultation to the semiconductor industry since 1980. In 1989-90, Dr. Langerman conducted a worldwide review of all arsine exposure accidents. His most recent publications include the book "Precautionary Labels for Chemical Containers", was published by Lewis Publishers/CRC Press in 1994 and a peer reviewed article, "Material Safety Data Sheets: Who Uses Them?" which was published in the American Chemical Society publication "Chemical Health and Safety" in 1995."

    I see him also as refered to as "chemical industry consultant who acts as a spokesman for the American Chemical Society" in that WaPo article.

    But, more importantly, he was quoted in relation to the Diet Coke and Mentos question in the Wall Street Journal. Which, may not be the best of references...but, this must go against the thread's preeminant chemist, ericb's , whose I don't seem to have credentials on hand...

    But, like I said about that Suskind book, extremely determined people have found ways to create extremely simple devices to do extremely dangerous things with chemicals. Never ignore determination. From the book that device was supposed to be an entirely new way to deliver sarin, which scared the shit out of folks. Most people in there right minds would be experts on how to create an explosion from two carryable liquids. Where's the use besides terrorism for the research? Perhaps we should be thankful there aren't many "experts" in the field.
    posted by superchris at 9:04 PM on August 10, 2006


    eriko: I'm with you, it's an interesting question and the incendiary solution would be quite interesting... but calm down friend. Let's not talk too much about bomb recipes in this blue cantina.
    posted by peeedro at 9:06 PM on August 10, 2006


    superchris -- mr_roboto, I don't know the chemistry as well as you, but, in terms of this thread we have ericb (as i incorrectly refered to as eriko, god my typing sucks.) vs Neal Langerman...but, this must go against the thread's preeminant [sic] chemist, ericb's , whose I don't seem to have credentials on hand

    Uh, what? I have made no claims as to being a 'preeminant chemist," but have been posting links to relevant articles which have been appearing on the web these past 24-hours.

    Maybe you are indeed referring to 'eriko' (and not "moi"). She/he seems to claim 'first-hand knowledge' of the chemistry of explosive agents.
    posted by ericb at 9:30 PM on August 10, 2006


    ericb: "Maybe you are indeed referring to 'eriko' "

    arggh....i could blame my typing again, but that was my brain's fault. Sorry for any misattribution. No harm intended. Sorry.
    posted by superchris at 9:34 PM on August 10, 2006


    In other words, superchris (superchris: "Washington Post article titled "Making a Liquid Bomb Is Not Hard, Experts Say") .. I think we're tracking the news together (ericb: "Explosives Can Be Hidden In Devices, Liquids."
    posted by ericb at 9:37 PM on August 10, 2006


    No harm, no foul. Cheers. I take a swig of Lagavulin for you! :-)
    posted by ericb at 9:39 PM on August 10, 2006


    I have to agree that the banning of liquid carry ons in the US is total bullshit. Especially the poring of the possible terror liquids into a big tub. I mean, what the fuck is that, some kind of ritual sacrifice to ward off bad explodo spirits from across the oceon or something? It's certainly not any kind of rational security measure, it's more like some kind of sympathetic magic.

    American security now runs on voodoo.
    posted by Artw at 9:51 PM on August 10, 2006


    I'm surprised it took someone so bloody long to figure out that individual components for making a weapon/bomb/poison gas/whatever would be much easier to smuggle onto a plane than a fully-ready device. I mean, duh.

    The new "security" measures are pointless. There are nearly infinite ways to commit a terrorist act. Until we take measures that demand naked passengers and a good anal probing, there is literally no way to prevent a terrorist act.

    Next move on the terrorists part will be to bring two putty substances aboard, or two powders in baggies to be mixed in urine, or a wodge of plastique up their ass, or a smallpox-infected child, or who knows?

    There is no security, only stupid people who think they're secure.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:01 PM on August 10, 2006


    And the other problem with this, as it's phrased in the article, is that it's implied (and amberglow and others are assuming) that there's a cause-and-effect relationship between when the British launched the raid and Cheney's conference call. The phrasing implies a relationship, but literally it's only reporting a statement of fact—the delay between Bush and Blair learning of this on Friday and the actual raid today could be due to any number of non-political things.

    Every single action or lack of action and release or lack of release of documents concerning both Bush and Blair since the runup to Iraq and since has been timed, and politically motivated to gain support for things they wanted to do.

    To believe that this is not connected is to also believe that the recent US rush delivery of missiles to Israel at the start of a bombing campaign and invasion of Lebanon was also purely coincidental. If this is real, and they knew of this for months, then waiting to inform the FAA and Airlines and public is inexusable. If they knew of this while the suspects were still out there (and if as the US says, there are still suspects out there), and still did not act, is also inexcusable. Since the simplest answer is usually the truth, they knew these people were nowhere near ready to carry out any plot but wanted to divert attention for the civil war in Iraq and the good news for Democrats in what is a very rough election year. Cheney doesn't do conference calls--he only goes on friendly media. He didn't even do one when he shot that guy, nor when he was installed as VP.
    posted by amberglow at 10:03 PM on August 10, 2006


    American security now runs on voodoo.

    It always has. Taking our shoes off has not done a thing to make us safer, and we still have to do that--i'm betting this new stuff will become permanent too, like the "war on terror" is.
    posted by amberglow at 10:04 PM on August 10, 2006


    NYT editorial tom'w: ... It comes like a punch to the gut, at times like these, when our leaders blatantly use the nation’s trauma for political gain. We never get used to this. It never feels like business as usual.
    On Wednesday, when the administration already knew that British agents were rounding up suspects in what they believed was a plot to blow up planes en route to the United States, Vice President Dick Cheney had a telephone interview with reporters to discuss the defeat of Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut in a Democratic primary. Mr. Cheney went off on a rather rambling disquisition, but its main point was clear: In rejecting Mr. Lieberman, who supported the war in Iraq, the Democrats were encouraging “the Al Qaeda types.” ...

    posted by amberglow at 10:10 PM on August 10, 2006


    Every single action or lack of action and release or lack of release of documents concerning both Bush and Blair since the runup to Iraq and since has been timed, and politically motivated to gain support for things they wanted to do.
    Did you leave anything out there or would you like a second go at it? Perhaps you should be calm, and breath with slow deep breaths now. You want to Yawn a bit, that's better. Yawn. Good everything is good.. now chill the fuck out.
    posted by econous at 10:22 PM on August 10, 2006


    ... This comes just two months after the last terrorism scare, the raid at Forest Gate on June 2, when Abul Koyair and Mohammed Abdul Kahar's house was raided in an operation involving over 200 officers. It was suspected that some kind of chemical or biological bomb was being held or developed there. Mohammed was shot during the commotion, their house was clinically taken apart bit by bit, but no charges were brought. ...
    posted by amberglow at 10:29 PM on August 10, 2006


    Bush, foes seek political gains from foiled plot
    11/08/2006

    CRAWFORD, United States (AFP) - US President George W. Bush and his Democratic foes battled over an alleged London airline bomb plot, each side seeking a political edge ahead of critical November legislative elections.

    Bush, on a day trip to Wisconsin, said the foiled conspiracy was "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists" and hammered unnamed critics he accused of all but forgetting the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Bush has tried to shift the national debate from that conflict to the broader and more popular global war on terrorism as his Republicans fight to keep control of the Congress.

    "It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America," he said. "We've taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we still aren't completely safe."

    Firing back, leading Democrats praised the dismantling of the plot but said it showed how the war in Iraq has siphoned resources from the war on Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, which carried out the strikes in 2001.

    "The war in Iraq has become a dangerous distraction and a profound drain on our financial and military resources," said Senator John Kerry, Bush's rival for the White House in 2004. "Osama bin Laden is still on the loose..."

    Muslims bristle at Bush term "Islamic fascists"



    By Amanda Beck

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Muslim groups criticized President Bush on Thursday for calling a foiled plot to blow up airplanes part of a "war with Islamic fascists," saying the term could inflame anti-Muslim tensions.

    ...

    "We urge him (Bush) and we urge other public officials to restrain themselves..."
    posted by taosbat at 11:02 PM on August 10, 2006


    Guardian: ...Karen DeYoung's indictment of the failure of the US security services to talk to each other in this week's Washington Post is truly damning. By refusing to communicate, the US services render their, and by extension our, services less effective. We now know that US officials have a routine seat at Britain's joint intelligence committee, a fact that one of its former chairmen told me makes it hard for the British state to think independently. Do US officials also sit in on the UK's counterterror organisations, and if so how do they relate to the myriad, non-communicating services detailed by the Washington Post? ...
    posted by amberglow at 11:55 PM on August 10, 2006


    ...Government sources tell NBC News that federal investigators recently were able to carry materials needed to make a similar homemade bomb through security screening at 21 airports.
    In all 21 airports tested, no machine, no swab, no screener anywhere stopped the bomb materials from getting through. Even when investigators deliberately triggered extra screening of bags, no one discovered the materials. ...
    (NBC, March 06)
    posted by amberglow at 12:23 AM on August 11, 2006


    So the minimum wage security creeps are completely unable to differentiate bomb materials from everything else. That would explain the ban -- it beats hiring and training people who could actually provide security.

    As the story slowly gathers details, it sounds more and more like a talking plot - no possession, no risk (Brit security is very hep to controlling suspects once under observation), not much more than some people trying to get their war on without either training or a support network. Like no hint of case officers, money transfers, or any of the other typical signs of an intelligence operation. Passionate amateurs (and very likely a snitch.)
    posted by warbaby at 2:53 AM on August 11, 2006


    Now is probably not a good time to be a manager of an airport duty free shop. Whisky, perfume, suntan lotion and all those other last minute temptations for bored travellers are going to be off the shelves for a while.
    posted by rongorongo at 3:53 AM on August 11, 2006


    fff: There is no security, only stupid people who think they're secure.

    I do believe that's the line of the thread, right here...
    posted by lodurr at 6:01 AM on August 11, 2006


    "Many easily obtained liquid chemicals can be used to produce an explosive capable of causing a devastating fire or blast aboard an airplane, experts said yesterday.

    Fire? Sure. That bottle of duty free vodka can easily do the trick. Ditto aftershave, perfume, blah blah blah.

    I've mentioned granulated pool chlorine and brake fluid. Nice fire.

    Small booms are possible as well. But none of this takes down an airplane. You might decompress it, but planes can suvive that, sometimes dramatically -- google up Aloha Airlines 243.

    A small fire gets put out by fire exitguishers, and the guy setting it gets killed by the other passengers. A small bomb might decompress the plane, but it doesn't drop it. Once the planes below 12,000 MSL, enough oxygen is present that people can move again, and if there is a large hole, the asshole with the bomb gets tossed through it.

    The plan is to knock down 10 airlines in flight. I've heard people say "over cities", which implies instant knockdowns -- you need enough force to cause enough damage to cause total comprimise of the structure, or in less fancy talk, enough parts fall of that the plane falls out of the sky.

    We have a "gold standard" on this. Pan Am 103, over Lockerbie, Scotland. 12 to 16 ounces of Composition C4 were placed in the forward cargo hold and detonated.

    As explosives go, C4 is close to perfect. It is very stable -- so stable that it burns nicely, without detonating. You need a detonator explosive to get it to detonane. It is plastic, so forming it into shaped charged (or packing it into hidden spaces) is easy. As to power? It's basicaly RDX with some plasticizers and stabilzers. Detonation velocity is near 27,000 fps, explosive power is about 1.4 times that of TNT.

    14oz of C-4 is a lot of explosive power. The very high velocity means the brisiance is high, so this explosive doesn't move things, it shatters them. 1kg of TNT releases 2.175x106joules. So, 1kg of C4 release 2.045x106. Units tells me that one ounce is .028kg, so one ounce of C4 is about 86100j, and 14 of them is 1.206x106, or 1.2 Megajoules.

    One joule exerts enough force to move one newton one meter, or if you prefer, about three quarters of a pound one foot. So, 1.2 Mj could move three quarters of a pound some 227 miles -- or 450 tons one foot.

    In the case of Pan Am 103, we moved several tons several feet, and blew the nose off the plane.

    So, if I had a bottle of C4 on a plane, could I down it? You bet.

    BUT.

    C4 is a very powerful explosive. Homebuilt explosives are much less powerful, and that power drops rapidly if you mix them incorrectly.

    Imagine a perfect binary explosive, 5 parts A, 5 parts B. You mix 4 parts A and 6 Parts B. You get 8 parts explosives, 2 parts B. If you're lucky, that doesn't break anything.

    Part two -- mixing completely. Mix 2 parts, by mass of Part A and one part, by mass, of Part B. Mix very well. Hit with a detonantor. BANG.

    Repeat, 2 parts A, one part B, don't mix well. Fizzle, and an amazing amount of smoke. (BTW, this is a real mix that will really explode, if you know what the two parts are. People who have enough training to safely mix this can figure out what this makes. Hint: I don't suggest making it, it's too touchy for my tastes.)

    So, mix this wrong on the plane, and you're standing there, hair smoking, alarms going off, hand bleeding from the damage -- and the rest of the passengers kill you.

    I will grant some leeway. 14 oz of C4 is probably overkill. I will accept half that force. If someone can show me the formula, this attack as plausible if you can show me.

    A) An explosive, that is mixable from at least one liquid...

    B) ...that can be kept stable and safe in a polyethylene or polyproplyne bottle for at least two hours, then mixed with another or other components....

    C) ...in very uncontrolled conditions....

    D) ... that will generate about 600kj of energy, with a high (say, half C4, 14000fps) detonation velocity.

    D) ...that will fit in a sport bottle (better if it fits in a 20oz bottle, though 1L is worth some credit)...

    E) ...and that is a secondary (that is, requiring a detonantor charge) explosive.

    Match those conditions, and you'll have a credible threat that matches the supposed theat that keeps us from bringing a cup of coffee on board.

    If you do so -- if you can match all five, then yes, this may have been a real threat. Then we can look at your components for detectability, and see if that is an issue.

    Flammable liquids aren't enough. A large enough fire, over time, will take down an airliner -- fire is the most common way to die on a commercial aircraft -- but there is firefighting gear aboard, with people trained to use it. 10 gallons of gas would probably start a fire too large to contain. They will notice that, though, if you try to bring it on board -- and if they can intentionally decompress the plane, they can put the fire out. There is that dicey line between fire out and all die, but hey, when your options start to run out, you gamble.


    If there is a magical substance that you can mix with gatorade to make a bomb strong enough to bring down an airplane, congratulations -- you have solved the oil crisis.

    Could I, with stuff in the room I'm sitting in, create a small, say, maim or kill ten people blast? Hmm. I might have to go to the basement, but I'm close here. But 10 people killed on 10 planes is bad, but not what this threat is claiming. This threat is claiming a plot to destroy ten airliners, and all aboard.

    So, the quoted statement at the top is an attempt to distract. That threat has always existed. On an international flight, they will sell you EVERYTHING you need to do some real harm to some people on an airplane, if you wish.

    I do not see the path to "mix one part gatorade with some gel hidden in my deoderant to make C4."

    This isn't fucking McGyver folks. Lots of research has been done trying to find the better explosive. If you could make this bomb, dozens of people would have made it repeatedly.

    As to false bottoms?

    Try it. Grab a gatorade bottle, a shampoo bottle, whatever. Make a false bottom that isn't detectable from the outside by X-ray.

    You will find this to be much harder than you thing. Dense polymers aren't radiopaque, but they aren't completely radiotransparent.

    There are many Xrays showing this. They were shot after the "I just sat down" story in the emergency room. Note that luggage Xrays are more powerful than emergency room xrays.
    posted by eriko at 6:02 AM on August 11, 2006 [3 favorites]


    When the chemicals are mixed together, 'chances are it will instantaneously and violently react,'

    Yes. The very small part that has formed TATP explodes, coating you in high grade hydrogen perxoide and very hot acetone. You find out the fun of burning and corroding at the exact same time.

    This is what we call a "Book smart, but dead wrong." He may be a chemist, but he hasn't mixed explosives, or he wouldn't have said something like that.

    There are lots of chemicals that you can dump together and die from doing so. Many of them are explosives.

    But the art of making useful explosives is getting the reaction to make the explosive to a fully complete stage, *then* setting it off.

    And, once again, you only need a detonantor if you want to survive. A suicidal bomber would be stupid to carry such if he really is using TATP. He can bang the container against the wall a couple of times and it will detonate.

    There's also the problem of carrying around high grade peroxide in a plastic bottle. Kids -- DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING THIS AT HOME. 40%H2O2 needs to be kept in passivate containers, or it reacts with the containers. Start to pour that into a empty soda bottle, and you'll probably never finish. If you do, the bottle will be gone in a few minutes. It will probably catch on fire. 3% H2O2 can be kept safely, for a few months or so, but it is slowly reacting with the bottle. The reason the bottle doesn't leak is that there isn't enough peroxide to eat through.

    Acetone's easy to carry. Peroxide isn't, and I'm very surprised that someone who know as much as Dr. Langerman does thinks you can casually make TATP in the lavatory of an airplane, run the reaction to completion, so that you have a large quantity of explosive, and then set it off. You could certainly kill yourself, but that's not the threat.

    You can make TATP from 3% peroxide. Step one is "concentrate the peroxide" This takes heat and time. Hint: They banned camp stoves long ago. BTW, it often blows up, killing the guy running the stove. That's not a martyr, that's an idiot.

    The terrorist who kills himself in a lab accident in the lav of a 767 become a joke, not a martyr.

    If I carry two stable chemicals that can be mixed into a very high explosive, and don't have the gear and time to do so, I am *not* carrying a bomb. If I try to do so anyway, I'm almost certainly not carrying a bomb, I'm carrying a rather strange form of a suicide kit.

    The threat that justified this action is "They had a mixture that was simple, that worked, and would easily create enough high explosive to destroy ten airplanes."

    That's the threat they positied. Nothing that Dr. Langerman, nor anyone else, has published is showing me this explosive. They're showing me lots of ways to die, or to kill 5 people, but not to reliably take down 10 airliners.

    And, since they have things like forks and perfume and alcohol on planes, killing 5 people is obviously an acceptable threat.
    posted by eriko at 6:18 AM on August 11, 2006 [3 favorites]


    Actually, ever since putting away last night's leftovers I've been mulling a method of hiding a liquid in a liquid that could work pretty well, especially an opaque or viscous liquid like shampoo or a paste like baby food. Stop thinking about false bottoms, and start thinking about drug mules, and I think you'll get there pretty quickly. (Except, not in your stomach. But you could still use condoms or balloons.) I think it could work, but I think it could also screw up.

    Now that I think of it, I remember reading years ago about a design for a gas bomb that worked on a similar principle....

    That's not to say that I don't find the lethality predictions to be implausible. But I also don't want to over-estimate the intelligence of decentralized terrorists. Remember Richard Reid? What do they really know about airframes? Maybe a lot less than some of us are assuming. (I.e., they don't know that they won't be able to do what they planned.)

    Now, setting aside for a moment whether the bomb plotters are likely to have their act together or not, the value of attempted attacks -- or even suspected attacks -- to a terrorist organization should not be underestimated. It's been said before, but it bears repeating: Al Qaeda et al get incredible benefit from this attack-that-didn't-happen. They have (assuming it's their work) caused us to devote a metric shitload of effort and resources to a tastk that's well into diminishing returns territory, when we could be devoting effort to more fruitful avenues, like getting a better handle on freight or shipping, or working harder at prevention. (For example, by not being international assholes anymore.)
    posted by lodurr at 6:22 AM on August 11, 2006


    Damn, lost track of something else I was going to say...

    After 9/11, when the relatively small cost and scope of the plot became clear, I mused about the best way for Al Qaeda or any other organization to capitalize on their gains. If you want to inspire real terror, I reasoned, you should strike at randome targets in the heartland: Shopping malls, Greyhound stations, subway stations, streetcorners. The London and Madrid bombings were an example of that strategy, but they were still thinking too big. Lots of small relatively low-casualty attacks -- think a backpack bomb on a South Bend IA city bus or a car bomb at a busy gas station, not even suicide attacks -- would almost certainly create a higher level of "public terror."

    We've been lucky that the current wave of terrorists don't have as much imagination as the IRA and Black September did.
    posted by lodurr at 6:27 AM on August 11, 2006


    Some of the news reports have mentioned timers and watches used as timers. What's the point of a timer if it's a suicide plot? Could just be that they have the facts wrong.
    posted by Mid at 6:29 AM on August 11, 2006


    Mid, at this point, media people and bloggers will basically be inventing details in order to have something to talk about. In any case, I don't think you can really assume the credibility of anything that's in the press releases. If I were writing them, I'd be sure to include some mis-information and exclude some important details, just to confuse the bad guys.
    posted by lodurr at 6:36 AM on August 11, 2006


    On the whole banning-containers-of-liquids thing: Since pretty much everything mentioned as a serious explosives ingredient is pretty explosive/nasty, why not just ban containers that would actually be capable of containing them? Glass would be pretty obviously out, as would heavy rigid plastics.

    I guess in the long term a standardised "aircraft safe" container could be developed...

    Not that the liquids ban is going to be acceptable to the public in the long term or is likely to acheive anything in the short term.
    posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on August 11, 2006


    There's also the problem of carrying around high grade peroxide in a plastic bottle. [etc]

    Strange how your dire warnings contradict my real life: I have a plastic bottle of 30% h2o2 that's been around the house for, oh, must be a year and a half by now. Still pretty active, too; I used it the other day and it fizzed and foamed quite impressively on contact with organics.
    posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 AM on August 11, 2006


    They're showing me lots of ways to die, or to kill 5 people, but not to reliably take down 10 airliners.

    And, since they have things like forks and perfume and alcohol on planes, killing 5 people is obviously an acceptable threat.

    And it's a threat that's been known since it was used in 1994 and people were arrested in Manila over it--one or two people died i think, but the plane didn't crash.

    And we've heard over and over that Al Qaeda acts in small cells--the larger the group (as in Canada, where some have already been released on bail as no threat, and now in UK) the more it is feckless amateurs who aren't at all Al Qaeda, nor truly dangerous.
    posted by amberglow at 7:38 AM on August 11, 2006


    IMO, it's likely the whole "explosives" thing is a canard. Far easier to mix up a poisonous gas mixture. Isn't ricin pretty easy to make?
    posted by five fresh fish at 7:40 AM on August 11, 2006


    I guess in the long term a standardised "aircraft safe" container could be developed... yeah a coffin.
    posted by econous at 7:52 AM on August 11, 2006


    ninjew writes "Ok, I'm encouraging someone to tell me if I'm wrong here... but wouldn't it be possible to put explosive device X containing whatever undetetcable substance into a checked bag and set up some sort of innocuous looking timer (like, connected to a travel alarm clock or even digital watch)? Set for +3:00hrs, and by the time it hits zero, the plane's in the air somewhere. Blammo. And because it was a checked bag, it got on the plane with very little scrutiny."

    Best timer if you don't care exactly when would be chemical.

    eriko writes "There's also the problem of carrying around high grade peroxide in a plastic bottle. Kids -- DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING THIS AT HOME. 40%H2O2 needs to be kept in passivate containers, or it reacts with the containers. Start to pour that into a empty soda bottle, and you'll probably never finish. If you do, the bottle will be gone in a few minutes. It will probably catch on fire. 3% H2O2 can be kept safely, for a few months or so, but it is slowly reacting with the bottle. The reason the bottle doesn't leak is that there isn't enough peroxide to eat through. "

    Doe this apply to those new Polycarbonate bottles that are all the rage right now?

    Mid writes "Some of the news reports have mentioned timers and watches used as timers. What's the point of a timer if it's a suicide plot? Could just be that they have the facts wrong."

    The previous attempt in the 90s using the vector had the bomber hiding the bomb on the plane and then exiting on a stop-over.
    posted by Mitheral at 7:54 AM on August 11, 2006


    If there is a magical substance that you can mix with gatorade

    eriko, it's my impression that they were thinking of putting the stuff in gatorade bottles not actually mixing it with gatorade ...

    We've been lucky that the current wave of terrorists don't have as much imagination as the IRA and Black September did.

    lodurr, they do, but their imagination is strategic, not tactical in nature ... with 9/11, they created a situation where the western world is paranoid, inspired to war against muslim countries and the muslim world is inspired to create ad hoc insurgent and terror networks to fight back

    al quada doesn't need another 9/11 to achieve its goals ... they've already achieved them ... now they can sit back and watch others do their dirty work for them

    it also occurs to me that this current terrorist operation might be a feint ... or used as a cover ... for something else that we haven't thought about
    posted by pyramid termite at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2006


    The Memory Hole tries to FOIA Bojinka.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 8:07 AM on August 11, 2006


    Peroxide stores just fine in polyethylene or polycarbonate containers.
    posted by caddis at 8:16 AM on August 11, 2006


    Foreign Policy Terrorism Index 06: Despite today’s highly politicized national security environment, the index results show striking consensus across political party lines. ...A bipartisan majority (84 percent) of the index’s experts say the United States is not winning the war on terror. Eighty-six percent of the index’s experts see a world today that is growing more dangerous for Americans. ...
    posted by amberglow at 8:31 AM on August 11, 2006


    "despite"
    posted by cillit bang at 9:33 AM on August 11, 2006


    Peroxide stores just fine in polyethylene or polycarbonate containers.

    Just fine in *passivated* polyethylene or PTFE containers. I don't know offhand about Polycarbonate. Normally, I'd be willing to assume yes, but with H2O2, you assuming nothing.

    Grabbing a Sprite bottle, drinking the Sprite, and dumping in H2O2 won't work. I don't know the passivation process for PE, for carbon steel, aluminum and glass, the process is fill with nitric acid, wait 24 hours, empty, rinse with deionized water, air dry, repeat rinse, air dry.

    I just remember something about Polyethylene and Hydrogen Peroxide. The reason you don't use it for normal storage of high test peroxide is simple -- it's fine when it is cold, but if a fire starts (which is trivial with HTHP -- spill some 40% on asphalt. Look, fire!) it can explode.

    So now, I do have an explosive, but I dont think it is that powerful. I'd test, but I don't mess with H2O2. A passivated HDPE bottle, filled with HTPE (don't go over 60%) and a small bottle of something that burns. Go to lav, plug sink. Dump small bottle of fuel into sink, ignite, put bottle of HTPE on fire, wait.

    Query: Enough blast?

    Query: Enough time? The smoke detector is going to go off quickly, and the crew will be coming into the lav shortly after that.

    I don't know.
    posted by eriko at 10:09 AM on August 11, 2006


    And we did...
    posted by taosbat at 10:11 AM on August 11, 2006


    Can the GOP use terrorism to win -- again?
    posted by taosbat at 11:40 AM on August 11, 2006


    The news bit I saw at lunchtime today was very explicit abotu what the supposed plan was.

    Peroxide solution dyed & in a sports-drink bottle, disposable flash camera for detonator.

    This CBC story alludes (near the bottom) to what I saw on the CTV noon news.

    All that speculation, and now we finally have some more specific info.
    posted by raedyn at 12:33 PM on August 11, 2006


    Fear the bogeymen! Be scared! Cower in the closet, imagining the multitude of things that could go wrong.

    Jeez, people. Get over it. Accept a little risk in your lives. I'd rather fly with a 1-in-10 chance of my airplane blowing up (for whatever reason) than fly in this current situation.

    When I travel I require my laptop. There's no way it's leaving my sight. It is my secondary brain, memory archive, indespensible tool to make a living, communication hub, and entertainment center. There's no way I'm putting it in an unlocked bag to be handled by dozens of strangers.

    How do we get these new rules rescinded? Lobby the airlines? If they're deaf, how expensive are charter jets? Who wants to start an international flight ride-share site?
    posted by todbot at 12:43 PM on August 11, 2006


    todbot: The new rules will be rescinded. There's money at stake, after all. As you and others have pointed out, the airline industry is fueled by business travel, which simply will not happen if people can't bring their laptops in their carryons.

    In any case, according to the TSA, there's no problem bringing electronic gear.
    posted by lodurr at 1:11 PM on August 11, 2006


    Reading carefully, it appears the explosive under discussion may be solid TATP concealed inside a watertight container inside a drink bottle. The buzz about liquid explosives could be a garble from the beginning.

    Read "dry explosive concealed inside a container of liquid with a false bottom" and it starts to make sense. Detonators were going to be concealed in some small electronic device like an iPod or a camera.

    There is still no information to indicate that any detonators, explosives or precursor chemicals were seized in the raids.

    It also appears that the Pak rushed things by arresting some people peripheral to the action, thereby stampeding the Brits into arrests. Since the arrests were done in response to external events and the group had been under surveilance since December, it is very likely that the Brits did not have sufficient evidence for prosecution when the busts went down.

    Which will mean this whole situation might just go phffffft.

    This may have only been a "talking" plot without physical evidence.

    Wait for better information.
    posted by warbaby at 1:12 PM on August 11, 2006


    "To believe that this is not connected is to also believe that the recent US rush delivery of missiles to Israel at the start of a bombing campaign and invasion of Lebanon was also purely coincidental."

    No. No, it is not to believe that. Your reasoning is broken. It appears you were issued only two settings, "nothing is coincidence" and "everything is coincidence". You might want to call the manufacturer and see if you can get that fixed. Until then, you're a crazy person.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:54 PM on August 11, 2006


    Reading carefully, it appears the explosive under discussion may be solid TATP concealed inside a watertight container inside a drink bottle. - warbaby

    What's your source for that? What I've read and seen doesn't suggest that at all. The CBC article I linked above said:
    One official said suicide attackers planned to use a peroxide-based solution that could ignite when sparked by a camera flash or another electronic device.
    'Solution' typically (but not always) denotes a liquid. The CTV news report I watched specifically mentioned liquids dyed to look like a sports drink. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a print version of the CTV story at the moment. In both cases, the information was presented as if it was from an official's statement, rather than as speculation of the news agency itself. I'd be interested to read an article that explictly conflicts with the reports I've seen and heard, if you've got a link.
    posted by raedyn at 2:33 PM on August 11, 2006


    No. No, it is not to believe that. Your reasoning is broken. It appears you were issued only two settings, "nothing is coincidence" and "everything is coincidence". You might want to call the manufacturer and see if you can get that fixed. Until then, you're a crazy person.
    Given that nothing Bush or Blair does or says is without political calculation, and statements have already been released of WH officials gleeful over this, i'd say you really need to learn about politicians and how they operate--especially politicians whose approval ratings are in the toilet, and have repeatedly and successfully used terror threats in the past for purely political purposes (that covers both Bush and Blair).

    Another reminder--August 04, NYT: ... he actually rejected the panel's most significant ideas, and thus missed a chance to confront the twin burdens he faces at this late point in his term: the need to get intelligence reform moving whether he's re-elected or not, and the equally urgent need to repair the government's credibility on national security.
    Mr. Bush spoke on a day when Americans were still digesting the terrifying warning of possible terrorist attacks against financial institutions in New York, Newark and Washington. The authorities in those cities did the right thing by stepping up security. But it's unfortunate that it is necessary to fight suspicions of political timing, suspicions the administration has sown by misleading the public on security. ...

    posted by amberglow at 3:30 PM on August 11, 2006


    ...There also were suggestions American authorities, tipped off to impending raids in Britain and chasing leads in the U.S., jumped the gun and forced the hand of investigators in the UK. ...
    posted by amberglow at 3:45 PM on August 11, 2006


    Read "dry explosive concealed inside a container of liquid with a false bottom" and it starts to make sense.

    No it doesn't. That shows up easily on xray inspection, and dry TATP is even less stable than moist TATP.

    Detonators were going to be concealed in some small electronic device like an iPod or a camera.

    That, at least, is believable -- but, once again, detonators don't match the profile. The idea is this explosive is undetectable to current technology, and blasting detonators are very much detectable.

    I can see using a camera (an iPod is bad, lithium polymer battery. You want NiCad or NiMH -- something with low resistance, thus, high current output) to fire a detonator, but you still need the detonator itself. That's what the guys on xray are taught to look for. Blobs of plastic explosive are hazy on xray, but detonators tend to stand out.

    Using an explosive that isn't detectable, and firing with a detonator that is, is really missing the point.

    Why have the detonator if you're carrying TATP? Just go into the lav, take the container, and wail on the wall with it. One to three impacts later, it explodes.

    There's a reason that people who like to live don't touch TATP.
    posted by eriko at 3:56 PM on August 11, 2006


    Guardian: ...in the 24 hours following the arrests in Britain and the security alert, which caused havoc at British airports, we appear to have learned more from the US than from our own responsible authorities here. ...
    they get things wrong because US agencies want to exaggerate the dangers or simply get things wrong. They are guilty of - or victims of - Chinese whispers.
    For example, US agencies muddled up the names of individuals linked to the 7/7 suicide attacks in London, and named perfectly innocent people. Two years ago, in 2004, with the help of Pakistan, they released claims of a terror plot, which they knew had been foiled three years earlier.
    Unnecessary British caution and secrecy helps the US to claim the credit - and get things wrong. ...

    posted by amberglow at 4:32 PM on August 11, 2006


    oops--Guardian link
    posted by amberglow at 4:33 PM on August 11, 2006


    Interesting theory posted on Boing Boing -- the threat was gas not explosives.

    Certainly easier to carry. Both Sodium Cyanide and Hydrochloric acid, while not trival things to handle, are vastly easier to handle than high test peroxide or fuming nitric acid.

    The question I have -- is it enough?

    Alas, we have some data, thanks to the fucking Nazis. The poision used at Auschwitz and Majdanek was Zyklon B -- Hydrogen Cyanide. They typical aimed for concentration was 10-20g/m3, which would kill in about five to ten minutes.

    So. AA was mentioned, Heathrow was mentioned, this means we have a plane -- the 777-200ER, the plane that AA flies to London Heathrow.

    The cargo deck is about 3/8ths of the volume of the plane, at 150m3, judging by section drawings of the plane, so 5/8th is the passenger cabin works out to about 280m3. To reach a quickly lethal concentration, we'd be looking at 10*280, 2800g to 20*280=5600g of evolved HCN.

    2.8-5.6kg, or 6.2 to 12.3 pounds of evolved hydrogen cyanide.

    That's a lot of evolved gas, which implies a great deal of reactants to create it. Furthermore, unlike gas chambers made to kill, an aircraft cabin is very well ventilated -- it has to be, because aircraft are leaky. They stay pressurized by constantly pumping air into the cabin.

    Furthermore, the cargo compartment is pressurized as well. I'm assuming that the there wouldn't be much air exchange between the passenger and cargo compartments. That may be wrong, if so, the volume of air is now up to 440m3.

    Finally, there are readily availble oxygen supplies on a commercial aircraft.

    Given the volume of reactants available in two full 1L bottles (which is more than posited), I don't see how the attack works. HCN poisoning is an all or nothing thing -- you either get sick and die, or you get a bit ill and recover completely. So a half-attack ends up being no attack at all.

    Given the reactants needed to fill the volume with still air, the turnover of air in the cabin, the detectability -- unless you're one of the rare ones with the wrong genes, the bitter almond smell is very prominent -- and the availability of oxygen to dilute the gas further, I don't see the attack working.

    If I were the pilot and this happened, I'd depressurize the plane and dive below 12,000 feet. That would very quickly get rid of the HCN, the passengers would almost certainly survive even without masks (assuming I can reach 12,000 in two minutes) and they'll probably have masks.

    So, it's a theory, but one that I see real problems with. It is, however, the first liquid based attack that doesn't have a real chance of failure by predetonation.
    posted by eriko at 5:53 PM on August 11, 2006


    It also appears that the Pak rushed things by arresting some people peripheral to the action

    Do I correctly recall Pakistan having previously done this? Arrest a buncha people, cause Britain (or was it France?) to arrest a bunch of suspects earlier than planned?

    In my opinion, it is very likely that we've yet to hear a single honest word about what was being planned. It would be utterly stupid for the authorities to tell the truth: they don't want to encourage a bunch of copycats.

    Come to think of it, the "dump everything into a single container" idiocy is probably the strongest indication that this is all bullshit. I can't believe they'd make that choice if they really thought there was a plot to use a mixed-liquids approach to killing people. Security is stupid, sure, but can it actually be that stupid?
    posted by five fresh fish at 7:13 PM on August 11, 2006


    i was listening to npr today and they mentioned that one of the suspects had a bachelor's in bio-chemistry ... wahid zaman (sp?) ... london metropolitan university

    click listen to hear the report
    posted by pyramid termite at 9:25 PM on August 11, 2006


    "i'd say you really need to learn about politicians and how they operate--especially politicians whose approval ratings are in the toilet, and have repeatedly and successfully used terror threats in the past for purely political purposes (that covers both Bush and Blair)."

    I know how politicians operate.

    You keep changing the discussion. The particular assertion I've contested here was that the arrests were delayed until Cheney could make his conference call to the press demonizing Democrats. But there's been tons of information released in Britain, reported by the Guardian (to which you've linked and which is a left-leaning newspaper), that tells the story about the timing on the arrests in some detail. That story is completely at odds with your theory—your theory based only upon your supposed superior insight into how politicians operate. Also, the larger conspiracy claim here earlier in the thread was that this was mostly a fabrication created and publicized as a political stunt. That, too, is refuted by the large amount of evidence to the contrary.

    The best I can figure—and this comes from a lot of careful analysis—is that when you engage in political discourse on MeFi you are not simply reading what people write and responding to what they write. Instead, you (probably) quickly scan what they write; you look for some gestalt quality that is either friendly or hostile to your ideology; if you determine that it's hostile then you "explain" to yourself that hostility and re-interpret what's written using a simple psychological model assuming mendacity that is a hostile agenda in action; and then you respond with either a refutation of the hostile ideology (either generally or a specific example) or a blanket "scarlet letter" accusation against the other person, or both. And you throw in a semi-random quotation that supports your general political position.

    Thus, in this thread, my very specific claim that there's not sufficient evidence to assume that the timing of these arrests was primarily politicaly-motivated results in your assumption that I'm defending the Bush administration in general; that I'm doing so because I'm naive; and you respond with an an assertion that to believe what I believe then I must believe also that the events in Lebanon were only coincidences and you tell me I'm naive. You completely ignore the abundance of evidence supporting my specific claim against yours, going so far as to quote from the same sources as I do without reference or acknowledgment of the passages which directly refute your argument. You keep the focus on what you claim is the larger picture: is BushCo honest or dishonest?

    To me what is insufferable to the point of painful provocation about what you are doing is that you regularly do this sort of thing while, for example, expressing outrage when Cheney responds to Democratic critiques of the Iraq war with claims that Democrats support terror or are possibly treasonous. The Rove playbook is to never argue specifics where the Republicans can be proven wrong, but instead to turn every argument into arguments of ideology and to accuse, implicitly or explicitly, every critic as being traitors to the cause of righteousness. But you follow this playbook every day on MeFi.

    Many different sources in the last two days, but especially the Guardian, have described the events in the last two weeks that led up to the arrests yesterday. The various accounts generaly agree with each other and describe a months-long investigation that was coming to a head, Blair and Bush were very recently advised (last weekend), but that the arrests in Pakistan on Wednesday forced events in England to accelerate and thus forced the police to make arrests slightly earlier than they expected. There have been no indications that the police were ready to make arrests last weekend but were forced to delay for political reasons—in fact, it looks like the opposite happened. They were forced to move more quickly than they intended, indepdently of political considerations. And these various sources of relatively concrete information point to an operation against a real threat that had become imminent and not at all to something that was a political operation which fabricated a threat and response to further political interests.

    You can talk about other events at other places and in other times all you want to, and you can prove to your heart's content how those events prove that BushCo are liars. They are liars, I believe it. But none of that will prove you right in this particular case because you've been proven wrong. And aside from what is annoying to me, there's the simple truth that you'd be doing yourself a big favor if you could assert some self-control and intellectual discipline such that you were more often arguing on the side of truth in the specific as well as in the general. When your specific arguments against BushCo fail they undermine your general argument. And this habit undermines your own intellectual integrity.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:11 AM on August 12, 2006


    The particular assertion I've contested here was that the arrests were delayed until Cheney could make his conference call to the press demonizing Democrats.

    I doubt that happened. It makes no sense. Cheney making his comments using knowledge of the arrests not yet public, that I can see.
    posted by caddis at 6:44 AM on August 12, 2006


    "Cheney making his comments using knowledge of the arrests not yet public, that I can see."

    Me, too. In fact, I don't doubt it at all.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:51 AM on August 12, 2006


    On the latest reports from the Ministry of Fear: ... for me to take this UK “liquid explosives” thing as seriously as the press and Republican operatives want me to, I’d have to believe that:
    1. The press is never complicit with the Republicans in playing the fear card;
    2. The Republicans never play the fear card for political reasons;
    3. Tony Blair would never want to help out the Bush (“British intelligence has learned”);
    4. The facts, when they come out in court, will live up to the first stories;
    5. This “liquids” thingie is a new threat, as opposed to being around, oh, since 1995.
    6. The administration is serious about actually fighting terror, as oppposed to being serious about being seen to fight terror.
    I mean, if they were serious, the ports would be protected, right?
    And they’d be spending money on bomb detection, instead of cutting the budget, wouldn’t they?...

    posted by amberglow at 11:49 AM on August 12, 2006


    BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike … NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!
    posted by homunculus at 1:06 PM on August 12, 2006


    NBC News Blog: We have new information tonight about the foiled plot in Great Britain to blow up airliners headed for the U.S. NBC's Lisa Myers is in London tonight with the latest on the investigation, including news of a disagreement between British and American authorities over the timing of arrests this week.
    posted by amberglow at 1:46 PM on August 12, 2006


    more at Kos: UPDATE: MSNBC is reporting this was an active dispute and that the British wanted the investigation to proceed because some of the suspects did not have passports, airline tickets weren't purchased, and the British wanted one suspect who wanted to do a "dry run" to buy a ticket.
    posted by amberglow at 1:48 PM on August 12, 2006


    here's the NBC News Story: NBC: U.S., U.K. at odds over timing of arrests-- British believed attack wasn’t imminent, wanted to continue surveillance ---NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.
    A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
    In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports. ...

    posted by amberglow at 1:55 PM on August 12, 2006


    more from there: ...The British official said the Americans also argued over the timing of the arrest of suspected ringleader Rashid Rauf in Pakistan, warning that if he was not taken into custody immediately, the U.S. would "render" him or pressure the Pakistani government to arrest him.

    British security was concerned that Rauf be taken into custody "in circumstances where there was due process," according to the official, so that he could be tried in British courts. Ultimately, this official says, Rauf was arrested over the objections of the British. ...

    posted by amberglow at 1:58 PM on August 12, 2006


    Amberglow, are you trying to confirm EB's analysis?
    posted by smorange at 2:35 PM on August 12, 2006


    sure--it seems to make him so happy to go on and on about my supposed motives. I love it too, when he says things like this: The various accounts generaly agree with each other and describe a months-long investigation that was coming to a head, Blair and Bush were very recently advised (last weekend), but that the arrests in Pakistan on Wednesday forced events in England to accelerate and thus forced the police to make arrests slightly earlier than they expected. There have been no indications that the police were ready to make arrests last weekend but were forced to delay for political reasons—in fact, it looks like the opposite happened. They were forced to move more quickly than they intended, indepdently of political considerations. And these various sources of relatively concrete information point to an operation against a real threat that had become imminent and not at all to something that was a political operation which fabricated a threat and response to further political interests.

    So when i find something that shows otherwise, i post it as a comment. It's now coming out that the plot was not imminent, nor coming to a head, and the British did not want to arrest the guy in Pakistan, nor did they want to arrest the guys in the UK. His lack of links or proof for his reasoning never stops him from his analysis of me or my motives, but it's important to provide documentation and links. Every single Administration-trumpeted terror threat has proven to be less than meets the eye and they have all been timed to provide some benefit to the Adminstration and the GOP. Now it's shown that we forced the British to act, and we forced the Pakistani guy to be caught now. It's not because the plot was imminent, and it's not independent of political considerations.

    I really would never deny EB the oh-so-evident pleasure he receives in his analysing and insulting.
    posted by amberglow at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2006


    I just wanted to post a couple of links to George RR Martin's (author) blog about this topic. It sums up my thoughts on the situation precisely.

    August 10

    August 11
    posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 2:53 PM on August 12, 2006


    You've lost perspective. EB linked to Guardian stories that support his case. Furthermore, and as a general rule, when there's no evidence of a conspiracy, reasonable people don't assume one exists. There's no evidence, so EB assumes there's no conspiracy. In fact, there's evidence to the contrary. That seems to be his argument, in a nutshell. It's good and sound, from my perspective.

    You seem to assume a conspiracy at the outset and look for evidence to confirm your presupposition. You rarely engage the arguments presented, and you attempt to discredit skeptics with out-of-context quotations and random blog entries. Almost all of your arguments, insofar as you make arguments, are obviously fallacious in the same way that political attack ads are obviously fallacious. In fact, most of your comments in this thread look very much like political attack ads in their structure and form, which is EB's point. Again, in a nutshell.

    That's a summary of your exchange as of EB's last comment. Now you've linked to an MSNBC story that's closer to evidence, but it doesn't do much to support your argument. Far from suggesting partisan political pressure, the story suggests that, after 9/11, American authorities are quicker to urge action. According to the story, that's what happened here. Still no conspiracy. Look, EB has launched a few mild snarks your way, I'll agree with that. But the offense you take to them is out of proportion. Are you sure you're not conflating criticism with insults? Almost everything he's written qualifies as the former.
    posted by smorange at 3:39 PM on August 12, 2006


    EB would be better off taking a critical look at what he's told by those in power instead of what i say or link to. This thread is not about me--EB should stop trying to make threads so at every opportunity.

    I never spoke of conspiracy--i call this politically-timed and I and others have pointed how these trumpeted and well-coordinated media blitzes of "terror plots" have never turned out to be that in fact at all. Links here by me and others have pointed out the fact that many of these simply raise fear and anxiety and change the media's focus to terrorism--every time.

    Highly-placed Officials in both the US and UK government made specific speeches the day before--Cheney here in a very very rare media conference call, and Reid there (who was supposed to speak on immigration)--both trashing "liberal opposition" and both guaranteed to refocus public attention on terrorism. They primed the pump, and now we find the US rushed the arrests--you can agree or disagree about that, but to repeatedly speak of my motives the way EB does in so many threads I participate in is not simply criticism--it's tiring. It really does seem to give him pleasure, so let him say what he wants. If what he says in incorrect, as in the quoted part above, i'll point it out--and if he continues to insist there were no political calculations nor political interests in any of this and that it really was an imminent threat, i'll point that out too. In return, he can keep on pleasuring himself, i guess.
    posted by amberglow at 5:00 PM on August 12, 2006


    amberglow, I sympathize with your view tremendously. But...

    ... my own observations of politicians and governments lead me to believe it's unlikely that the precise mechanics of something liek this would or even could be orchestrated to the extent that they would be able to delay the raid until after Cheney's CC. (Though if you want to argue that Cheney pushed up his CC to beat the bust, I'd be with you.)

    ... I tend where governments are concerned to follow Napoleon's (or was it Twain's?) advice, and not impute malice where incompetence is sufficient.

    ... as a frequent sinner in EB's current mold, I recognize that his analysis of your motives is really without foundation other than his own gut feeling. But he has a point about imputing conspiracy where incompetence or bad logistics are a more convincing explanation.

    (The last having been said, is it my imagination or has EB gotten a lot more conservative-apologist since he started hanging out on MeCha?)

    Now, to say that I don't buy the full-blown conspiracy explanation isn't to say that I discount the sources you cite. I think these things moer often "just happen" than they are actively planned. Which is to say, everyone in the game knows in advance what everyone else in the game wants, and thinks they know what they can get in return by providing it.
    posted by lodurr at 5:28 PM on August 12, 2006


    "The last having been said, is it my imagination or has EB gotten a lot more conservative-apologist since he started hanging out on MeCha?"

    It's your imagination. My argument in this thread, and any like it elsewhere, is against the "stupid" part of "stupid, leftist arguments" and not the "leftist" part. In fact, my political interests are in serving the leftist cause by fighting against the lazy and self-serving thinking among us. And I don't have any clue why you think I might have been influenced in the conservative direction by MeCha. I have no sense that MeCha is a conservative place.

    "EB would be better off taking a critical look at what he's told by those in power instead of what i say or link to. This thread is not about me"

    This is the sort of thing that pisses me off. Amberglow's version of what it means to "take a critical look at what you're told by those in power" is to say that the Sun is the Moon if the Bush administration claims it is daytime. That's not being "critical". That he thinks he is a critical thinker is a joke. That he's sanctimonious about it is insulting.

    I take a critical look at everything everyone tells me, all the time, especially from those in power. There is a difference between skepticism and cynicism. Skepticism is an intellectual virtue. It requires effort. Cynicism is an intellectual vice. It avoids effort.

    But more importantly, the biggest risk any of us face when we try to understand the world around us isn't in failing to be skeptical about what the people in power tell us. It's failing to be skeptical about what we tell ourselves. The person that lies to us most is oneself. The person that most wants to twist truth to a more convenient version is oneself. The difference between me and amberglow is that when I have a lot of emotional investment in seeing something a certain way, I have trained myself to be become more critical. Amberglow turns all his critical faculties off when he has an emotional investment. You can see this in action in many, many MeFi threads. Here, given how much I hate the Bush administration, I have an emotional investment in seeing them proved, yet again, to be as mendacious and simply evil as I believe them to be. But I don't see the evidence for it in this particular case, so I am careful to not come to that judgment, no matter how attractive. Amberglow has the same emotional investment, so he runs with his conclusion, patting himself on the back all the while.

    The reason that truth-finding is so simple for people like amberglow is that what is "true" is always, without fail what is most emotionally satisfying for them.

    This is why amberglow never admits when he's been wrong about something. While he's engaged with an issue, he's never wrong, of course. And, later, if the evidence accumulates against his position, he's long left it behind and is talking about new things. His worldview never changes, it only becomes more intense, because his methods and the very construction of his worldview itself are self-reinforcing. They're self-reinforcing because they're designed to be self-reinforcing.

    You can see those things at work in this very thread.

    And allow me to repeat a few of things I've said from the beginning of this thread. I agree that the Bush administration has used terrorscare as political manipulation in the past. I agree that minor elements of how this particular episode have played out probably contain some political manipulation. I agree that it's possible that this is political manipulation of a more serious variety. I won't be surprised if evidence is produced that demonstrates that it is. But I don't agree that it's either obvious or necessary, given what we know so far, that this event is a major political manipulation. I don't agree that the few scenarios presented above, including the one by amberglow that involved an intentional delay so that Cheney could make his conference call, fits with the evidence as it was known either before Friday or by today. I don't agree that the information presented by any news sources through today make a case for serious political manipulation.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:53 AM on August 13, 2006


    I don't agree that it's either obvious or necessary, given what we know so far, that this event is a major political manipulation.

    And yet the MSM is reporting the British authorities were holding off on arresting all these guys — there was no imminent danger to their activity — while they got their ducks in line. The US government pressured the Brits into pulling off the arrests.

    How is it not major policial manipulation to make another country's police force jump to your tune?
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 AM on August 13, 2006


    Exactly. I got a huge amount of grief at the top of this thread, and it turns out, in the light of day, that:

    1) There was no immediate threat.

    2) There may not even be a threat, just a plot to create one.

    3) The UK did *not* want the arrests to happen yet.

    4) The US insisted that they be made right now.

    Why did the US insist that they be made early. Why were they made the day after the CT primary?

    The only piece missing is "Did the US insist the arrests be made on Wednesday in the UK?"

    If so, then you know that my posit was absolutly correct -- that these arrests were made soley for political gain. Indeed, I wonder, assuming that this was a real plot, how many of the plotters have escaped by this jumping of the gun.

    What I really want to know -- did the US insist on the arrests being made RIGHT NOW. If so, then they were clearly made to provide political cover for the GOP, and I'll bet (but this part will never be provable) that they wouldn't have been made if Holy Joe had won his primary.

    The GOP was sitting on this "Democrats are weak" attack for a while, waiting to launch it. Then, suddenly, out comes this threat, on the day a major anti-war Democrat wins a primary, and all of these editorials hit the press right then and there, and this arrest happens?

    I'm doubting this threat more and more, and even if it was a threat, the timing, and the new security rules, are nothing but theatre.
    posted by eriko at 10:45 AM on August 13, 2006


    "How is it not major political manipulation to make another country's police force jump to your tune?"

    That's the not way we've been using the phrase in this thread. The way we've been using it is "manipulate the handling of situation (the timing, or largely fabricate it) for political gain". It's not clear to me that pushing for arrests before the police preferred to move indicates a motive of political gain. The accounts that are being given about this say that it's because US security agencies were paranoid about it. And it's certainly not clear that doing this was politically motivated since some of those who were earlier pointing to the supposed delay were arguing that if they were really interested in security they would have acted as soon as possible.

    "If so, then they were clearly made to provide political cover for the GOP"

    Not at all. It's not clearly that in any sense. Do I have to repeat that people that earlier thought there was a delay were arguing that early action would demonstrate a sincere commitment to security and scoring political points?

    Given that this investigation has been ongoing for months, then if you're so sure that the US wanted to score political points with it, and you're so sure that the Lieberman primary mattered so much to the GOP (which is silly), then why didn't they have something done before the primary?

    All these arguments are incoherent. And you are inconsistent. Earlier you said you thought this was theater, but when you said that you specifically and explicitly meant that the whole thing was a fabrication and you said something like you wouldn't be surprised if any actual terrorists ever brought forward. But there's been 19 arrests and the names of some of them have been released.

    You guys keep moving the goalposts. Just like Bush and Iraq and WMD, if you're sure of your conclusion, or if you're wedded to an argument beyond all reason, then it's easy to just keep tap-dancing.

    Put your energy into how this news is being spun to GOP political benefit. Put your energy into how they are lying about it being equal in potential to 9-11. Put your energy into things that are real. This is an example of how spinning conspiracy theories takes attention away from definite and obvious issues that are more worthy of attention.

    Unless what's most important to you is to publicly call attention to how you're supposedly so clever that you know what is going on behind the curtain. In which case, it's not really about politics or the issues at all, is it?
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:34 PM on August 13, 2006


    It's your imagination.

    As the subject of the speculation, you're not really qualified to decide that.

    In any case, as you would no doubt point out should someone else have made a similar retort, I wasn't speculating in regard to this thread. I was speculating in regard to your behavior for teh entire time since you've started hanging out on MeCha.
    posted by lodurr at 1:31 PM on August 13, 2006


    Unless you have reason to believe that I'm profoundly unaware of my inner state and past behavior, then actually I'm far more qualified to decide this than you are. It's almost certain I'm more familiar with what I've written, unless you're some crazy stalker person. :)

    Anyway, in the last year my anger towards and hatred of the GOP and conservatives has gone from white-hot to a daily wishing of murder. I think you'll find, if you look, that I've expressed this a number of times in the last year on MeFi, and have done so in even extreme terms. (Languagehat, for example, was put-off by my statement of desire to shoot Ann Coulter between the eyes.) It occurs to me that overcompensation is one possible answer to the contradiction. But a more likely explanation is that what you're seeing—if you're actually seeing anything—is something different than what you think it is. In any case, I can see no possible connection to MeCha—the timeframe is coincidence.

    What you may be seeing is that in the last six months I've been a great deal more critical of other mefites than I had been for some time. As most mefites are leftist, that increased criticism may appear to you to be a rightward tilt.

    Finally, regarldess of my affiliation with the Democratic Party and leftist nature of my politics, I've never felt the least obligation to follow party policy or ideological peer pressure on any given issue. And that includes assuming a priori that every event such as this one is some sort of nefarious Rovian operation.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:31 PM on August 13, 2006


    The great war reporter Claud Cockburn, who advised journalists to never believe anything until it has been officially denied, must be turning in his grave at the performance of some in reporting the alleged planned terror attack on a number of planes travelling between Britain and America.
    The supine parroting of official truths provided by the police, the intelligence services and government has once again been to the fore among print and broadcast media. It was as though weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the attempted cover up of the Jean Charles De Menezes shooting in Stockwell and the raid by 250 police on a house in Forest Gate never happened. The historic memory of many reporters' minds seems once again to have been wiped clean in the face of officialdom. ...
    It is the job of the journalist to question and probe whatever the story and whatever the source. It is not his or her job to act as a cipher for official information. By parroting exactly what they are told by official sources journalists prostitute the profession. By reporting such things in an objective way they add credibility to something that has not yet been established as credible. ...

    posted by amberglow at 4:48 PM on August 14, 2006


    Could Burning Laptop Batteries Bring Down an Airplane?
    posted by taosbat at 10:10 AM on August 15, 2006


    Josh Marshall just linked to an article he wrote in July about how he's suspicious about the terror alerts in general. So am I—certainly I think there's a lot that smells wrong about pre-election '04. But he also links to an interesting blog entry by Andrew Sullivan, of all people. Sullivan is suspicious about this whole UK plane thing and he brings up something that does seem credible to me.

    I'd like to repeat—you can check my earlier comments if you like—that I've always been pretty sure that BushCo has been spinning this for all its worth, including the Cheney conference call. It's only been two specific assertions I've not felt there was sufficient evidence to warrant: that the whole thing is mostly a fabrication; or that the specific timing of the arrests was chosen (first the claim was that it was delayed, then the claim was that it was forced early) to achieve some immediate political objective such as spinning the CT primary result. (One thing that everyone is agreeing on right now is that this investigation has been going on a long time. If it were about Lieberman, BushCo could have and would have pushed the button before the primary, not after.) The two main reasons I'm skeptical about the forcing-the-timing thing is because I've neither seen any convincing political motive for them to try to fine-tune the timing to the specific time they actually occured (see my point about CT), nor had any of the news thorugh last weekend painted any other picture than a long-running investigation approaching its conclusion. The explanation for a delay was credible: that the investigation was expected to continue for awhile but something happened on the Pakistani end and unexpectedly alerted the terrorists. The explanation for a speed-up also is credible: nervous US officials wanting some action on an investigation expected to otherwise continue for awhile because they fear erring on the side of waiting and being caught by surprise by a terrorist action they didn't expect. Both those things could be expected to happen in the real world, and, I'll repeat that when it seemed like there had been a delay, an argument suggesting conspiracy was built around the assumption that an honest US administration would have pushed for action sooner than later. In short, there were credible reasons for why the arrests occured when they did, even though people seemed to expect the investigation to continue for awhile—the arrests were supposedly triggered by unexpected, but credible, events either way.

    But now I get to something in Sullivan's blog entry that got me thinking. I am suspicious that there's a possibility that someone acting on behalf of the US in Pakistan, perhaps the CIA or just contacts in the friendly Pakistani government, could have prematurely triggered an event with the contact of the terrorists there in order to force something to happen back in the UK. This would only make sense to me if what Sullivan is saying is the case: that the investigation was still a long way away from reaching the point of arrests and BushCo just got impatient with the whole thing and intentionally precipated action that forced the UK to act. I don't see any specific motive looking for a specific timing. I do see a motive in the form of "these Brits could be watching these guys for another year and that's not going to help the GOP politically in the fall—let's get this going and get the word out".

    Of course the counter-argument for that particular scenario is why in the world do it now and not six weeks or two months from now?? And that points to my main problem with the conspiracy theory insofar as it's a "controlling the timing" theory—the timing of the arrests as they've actually occured seem to me to almost the worst adventageous to the GOP and the administration within the span of two months ago on to November. In fact, the more I write about it, the more trouble I have with the idea that the Bush administration forced the timing to now to serve some political purpose of theirs.

    That said, there's something that's bothering me about the Pakistan side of things. I think I'm pretty warm to the idea that there's something fishy that happened there that we don't know about and which well may have this administration's dirty fingers all over it. We'll see.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:09 PM on August 16, 2006


    Of course it was a long way away from reaching the point of arrests! Some didn't have passports, none had airline tickets, and there are no chemicals or liquids found anywhere so far, even after a week of searching houses, stores and parks around where they all lived.

    It could be that the UK itself forced this to happen because of the new terror laws/id cards/etc they want, too, but then NBC would have said that. Chertoff and the Administration is using this very "plot" to push for new restrictions on our rights too, and for more leeway to ignore the constitution and courts.

    August 04 was exactly the same time in an election cycle as this, and that's when they pulled a 3-year-old thing and blew it up into a giant terror plot.
    posted by amberglow at 3:55 PM on August 16, 2006


    Craig Murray weighs in on the latest terror plot.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 4:01 PM on August 16, 2006


    What a very interesting read, sonofsamiam.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 PM on August 16, 2006


    very good Murray thing--and from there: ...In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few - just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered. ...

    and from the Guardian:
    'People are definitely sceptical'

    posted by amberglow at 9:42 PM on August 16, 2006


    The Register has published an article looking sceptically at the feasibility of using a binary explosive such as TATP as a means of taking planes out of the sky.
    posted by rongorongo at 4:18 AM on August 17, 2006


    Thanks Register for that mention of dimethylmercury, as if I didn't have enough stuff to worry about.
    posted by Mitheral at 9:01 AM on August 17, 2006


    "In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political."

    That struck me as weird, just as it has from other people. Only in the very broadest sense can I see the "timing" as political: that the Bush administration pushed the Brits into acting because they feared the investigation could continue for another year or so and they wouldn't get any political benefit if it did.

    But the particularly timing? I don't see it. If you are determined to come up with a reason, you'll find one, and I've read many. Like amberglow's "they did a terror alert at this time in the election cycle before" (which really isn't a reason, just a shaky claim in the particular) or "they wanted to bolster things here in the middle point" or "a response to Lieberman's loss in the primary". All of those are very weak. For example, if it's about Lieberman, why not have the arrest before the primary? Much more benefit there, assuming they wanted Lieberman to win.

    On another site, I read a group of like-minded people discussing this. They all felt as amberglow does. They used the word "obviously" a lot. But one person kept commenting that the whole of 9-11 is a conspiracy and that Al Qaeda doesn't really exist. A number of people ridiculed him. I was struck by how confident they were that exactly their own particular level of wisdom concerning the world's secrets was correct and warranted and everyone else—either those with more far-reaching conspiracy theories than theirs, or those who don't believe their theories—are "foolish". But here I am: I think the theories about this episode are too expansive and unfounded while I'm perfectly willing to believe that the terror alerts of '04 were maniulated and it was "obvious".

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: the only skepticism that really mattes isn't your questioning of authority, or even of your peers, it's a skepticism about yourself, what you believe. If anything, I worry that I'm not skeptical enough. But, if anything, the one thing conspiracy theorists have in common is their lack of self-doubt.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:42 AM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


    For example, if it's about Lieberman, why not have the arrest before the primary? Much more benefit there, assuming they wanted Lieberman to win.

    You presume this is all coordinated by coluding parties in the US and the UK. Much more likely is that someone in the US admin heard about this case and the US pressured the UK to move forward on the arrest. That doesn't mean the US can dictate to the minute when the arrest happens, but it doesn't seem so out there to think we can lean on the UK to a degree in these matters. In fact, articles are starting to appear that support this view.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 9:56 AM on August 17, 2006


    There is new conventional wisdom that timing things too close to the election is bound to backfire, as it's too obviously political. But put things out there that you can use against your opponent for some time, and you've got meat.

    IF this is a political play, I would say it has more to do with general respect for authorities/be afraid/etc. then it does with any particular election. But who knows.
    posted by cell divide at 10:01 AM on August 17, 2006


    I mostly agree with sonofsamiam (I think).

    With a group of similarly-minded people -- or just of people who are intimate with one another's goals, and who undestand the shape of their mutual interests -- you will find a tendency for people to logroll.

    There's no traceable quid pro quo because there's never any need to ask for one. Everyone in the game knows what the other folks in the game want. Where there's "negotiation", it's just over "how much", not "whether."

    For example, perhaps it was made clear to the Pak that the US would like some action. Downing Street probably got the same signal. This was being run on the ground by, who, London Metro? With Special Branch in support? The senior guys there probably develop a fair sensitivity for what their bosses want to hear, and what time they want to hear it by.

    This is how conspiracies work most of the time. Where you have to have people haggling over quid pro quo, it's relatively easy to catch people. This makes it cultural. This makes it a part of the subtext in every interaction.

    This kind of pressure goes on around us all the time. It's how systems of privilege usually work. And sure, there is almost certainly a lot of miscommunication that goes on as part of it. But simple conditioning can account for the system "training" itself to get better at producing the desired results.
    posted by lodurr at 12:58 PM on August 17, 2006


    Oh, yes, I agree with lodurr's point. I almost universally dismiss the sort of scheming, Machievellian, ultra-competent, and far-reaching conspiracy theories that a number of people believe. But I do believe in ad hoc like-minded conspiracies of people with common interests that are usually messy, serendipitous, and incompetent as often as they aren't.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:22 PM on August 17, 2006


    A big stumbling block in the political discussion these days is that the latter kind of conspiracy theories are immediately cast as the former kind of conspiracy theory, which leaves them unaddressed and below the public radar.

    This lazy stereotyping comes from both the genuine tinfoil-hatted and from wise-asses who like to show off how reasonable and skeptical they are.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 1:29 PM on August 17, 2006


    I think it's also very much this: Ezra Klein ... the trust and assumption of good faith with which I can approach the news, and the Republicans, and all the rest. What I found, and what drove me to change, was that my imputation of good intentions and willingness to trust official information were creating a profound analytical deficiency where, time and again, my observations and predictions would be proven wrong because I'd chosen to believe that I wasn't being lied to. ...

    Too many people still choose to believe--in spite of all evidence to the contrary-- that they're not being lied to. There hasn't been one real plot spoiled to my knowledge since the Millennium thing in the Northwest and that was ages ago. They trumpet everything they think will help them, and certainly would have trumpeted any real plot being stopped. The UK officials are just the same, and have killed at least 2 people in mistaken "terror" things.
    posted by amberglow at 8:40 PM on August 17, 2006


    "They trumpet everything they think will help them, and certainly would have trumpeted any real plot being stopped."

    So your secret to knowing the difference between the fake ones and the real ones is...?

    And, again, amberglow, I don't assume that anything anyone tells me is the truth. Assuming that everything someone tells you is a lie isn't being critical or skeptical, it's being credulous in a perverse sort of way. You admit in the sentence above that it's not the case that necessarily everything the Bush administration says is a lie (otherwise when a real attack occured, they'd not admit it), therefore assuming they're lying about everything means that you're going to be wrong. If you claim to be playing the odds, then I'd suggest you consider whether it really is true that it is even possible that they could be lying most of the time. Or even if it is possible that they could be lying about terrorism most of the time.

    And on top of that, you clearly don't think they are lying all the time because I never see you question information coming from the government which validates your point of view. This inconsistency of yours is apparent in this very thread where you simultaneously claim that major media sources of information can't be trusted because they're reporting what the government tells them while you continued to post major media sources repeating what the government tells them. Why do you believe that anyone was actually arrested in Pakistan? Why do you believe that there was some sort of plotting in the UK by some supposed wannabe terrorists? Which parts of what you're told by the government do you believe and which parts do you disbelieve? It looks from here like you believe with little questioning anything that seems truthful to you (which usually corresponds to validating your pre-existing conceptions) and you disbelieve with an ostentatious air of sophisticated wisdom anything which strikes you as false (which usually corresponds to things which go against your pre-existing conceptions).

    What almost everyone does is try to find what they think is a reasonable place to draw the line between credulousness and incredulousness with regard to any given source or situation. You're no different. And, sadly, what most people do is to claim that wherever it is that they draw the line is the one obvious point as to where to do so and that anyone who draws the line sufficiently far away from where they do is "crazy" or "foolish" or "gullible". Here you're certainly no different.

    I have these same tendencies, but I try to fight them—there's self-doubt and self-criticism in probably half of my comments. In contrast, I almost never see you expressing self-doubt about any of your political beliefs. (I use the word "almost" only to be careful—I certainly can't manage to recall any example of it.) There are a number of things you've said which I know are factually wrong—if you happen to be right in this case and generally with the Bush administration, that accomplishment is only measured against your overall level of awareness and critical thinking. Your tendency to be very smug about your politics will lead you to be wrong in many particular cases and perhaps someday you will be egregiously wrong on something of great consequence (such as a future presidential adminstration). Then, you will actually be a nut and this lack of self-criticism will be why.

    My approach to this administration, based upon past proven facts, is that they tend to be mendacious. That means I'm more skeptical of what they say than I would be of an administration I've more reason to trust. But I still require something approaching proof or at least strong indications that in any specific case they are lying. Very often in the case of this administration, such indications are forthcoming within a short time of any given event. I'm more suspicious today that I was a week ago because one week ago there was simply being reported a single event which certainly could have happened while, today, there's mounting inconsistencies. It may be that in three weeks time, I'll decide that they were, in fact, lying about most of this. That'll be after I've gotten more facts.

    There is a difference between what I do and what you and others do, which is to immediately assume elaborate deception and to immediately start constructing theories, without evidence, of what you think really happened. That's not being skeptical, that's fantasizing.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:24 PM on August 17, 2006


    If we are going to consider political expediency as a possible trigger for the arrests then it is not only the US and UK governments who are potential candidates. Pakistan also stood to boost its western relationships by arresting Rashid Rauf and using information obtained from him to tip off Scotland Yard. Indeed the official story is that it was Pakistani intelligence that triggered the arrests.

    Wikipedia has a pretty thorough page on this now by the way. 112 references as I count them.
    posted by rongorongo at 12:52 AM on August 18, 2006


    and you actually went a few whole hours without making this personal again, EB--sad. note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand -- not at other members of the site.
    posted by amberglow at 6:53 AM on August 18, 2006


    I just read that the info derived from the Pakistani guy was gotten thru torture too, rongo--Pakistan has been the source of many of these trumpeted "terror plots"--August 04's 3-year-old financial institutions "threat" was from them as well.
    posted by amberglow at 6:57 AM on August 18, 2006


    Guardian editorial: ...At what point do actions abroad pollute British justice, even if in the short-term they may protect British security?

    Reports from Pakistan suggest that much of the intelligence that led to the raids came from that country and that some of it may have been obtained in ways entirely unacceptable here.
    In particular Rashid Rauf, a British citizen said to be a prime source of information leading to last week's arrests, has been held without access to full consular or legal assistance. Disturbing reports in Pakistani papers that he had "broken" under interrogation have been echoed by local human rights bodies. The Guardian has quoted one, Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, who has no doubt about the meaning of broken. "I don't deduce, I know - torture," she said. "There is simply no doubt about that, no doubt at all." ...


    And just recently in Australia: 'Jihad Jack' terror conviction thrown out (arrested in Pakistan, threatened with torture by our CIA)
    posted by amberglow at 7:04 AM on August 18, 2006


    Schrödinger's cat, self-fulfilling prophecies, and modern American journalism
    posted by amberglow at 2:27 PM on August 18, 2006


    White House strategists are disappointed that the arrest of alleged terrorist plotters in the United Kingdom hasn't increased President Bush's job-approval ratings very much.
    The expectation was that Bush might benefit from the highly publicized arrests as evidence that his tough approach to fighting terrorism, in conjunction with U.S. allies, was paying off. ...

    posted by amberglow at 2:32 PM on August 18, 2006


    Since you post to mefi like it was your personal blog, being personal with you is entirely appropriate.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:05 PM on August 18, 2006


    My, that's an effective rationalization you've got there.
    posted by lodurr at 4:27 AM on August 19, 2006


    lodurr and amberglow, quit being personal. Do I have to quote the commenting guidelines to you guys? Sheesh. Oh, crap, I just did it again. I suppose the only conclusion we can draw is that criticism of another poster is verboten. I look forward to following your examples in building this criticism-free environment.
    posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:11 PM on August 19, 2006


    E_B, I'm not sure what you just did again -- I don't follow the gray drama. All I know is that I saw you engaging in a rationalization to justify "getting personal" with impunity, and called you on it. As someone who's deeply concerned with consistency in behavior, I'd like to assume you'd welcome the notice.

    For what it's worth, I don't personally have a probelm with that kind of criticism, and never have had. So go nuts. Just don't claim a moral high ground as you do.
    posted by lodurr at 1:39 PM on August 19, 2006


    Anti-terror police in Britain have made an angry request to their US counterparts asking them to stop leaking details of this month's suspected bomb plot over fears that it could jeopardise the chances of a successful prosecution and hamper the gathering of evidence.
    ...The request for silence by the British authorities is an early sign that those involved in the investigation have concerns at the way their evidence-gathering is proceeding. It is understood that British anti-terror police wanted to prolong their observation of the suspects for as long as possible in a bid to gather sufficient evidence. There are now fears among some Scotland Yard officers that they may have acted too hastily when deciding to arrest the 24 suspects earlier this month. ...

    posted by amberglow at 7:37 PM on August 20, 2006


    whoops!
    posted by owhydididoit at 8:43 PM on August 20, 2006


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