The Protocol War … An Update – S. Russell, J. Muir, R. Jehn

Since I blogged about the new terrorism protocols in airports, I just got a first look at those backscatter scanners. There might be some controversy there.

You stand up in front of this doo-dad fully clothed and to the person reading the scan you are naked. This is no exaggeration. It pretty much amounts to strip-searching everybody.

Personally, I have no objection to being strip-searched but I would object to being singled out for that treatment.

I got this one grad student who is a very shapely female, and she gets searched every time. As does her husband, who is Puerto Rican but looks Middle Eastern.

I dunno about this.

It seems to me that if strip search becomes the norm, then they will hide the stuff in body cavities. One of the bombs already used (but did not bring down the plane) was hidden in little bottles for contact lens fluid. You could hide those without K-Y.

Steve Russell

Hypothesis: far from being thwarted, the liquid explosive bombers achieved their goals, on their timetable, and their achievement is greater than it would have been had they carried out the bombings. Sound crazy? Consider the following:

Having already demonstrated their ability to wreak havoc in US (9/11), jihadists have no need to do it again; all they have to do is appear to be planning to do it again. Planning to blow up planes was simply a way to cause massive disruption in Britain and the U.S. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. And what different course of action would BushBlair have taken had the planes exploded than they’re taking now? Hard to think of anything, isn’t it?

Now, instead of combusting with their victims, the Bombers will use their trial and its 24/7 worldwide media frenzy to advance their political agenda. Of course, they’ll have to put up with whatever indignities their jailers might conjure. I wonder what those will be, in light of Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, et al? Does world opinion matter anymore to BushBlair? Can they be sure they can keep torture secret anymore?

An assumption in the hypothesis is that the Bombers (shorthand for the cell, their handlers, the masterminds, al Qaeda, whatever) controlled the operation from start to finish: they planned to be caught because they understood the potential for a bigger political payoff, not only in terms of the propaganda opportunities, but also the potential to influence mid-term elections in the U.S. The Vietnamese, of course, were masters at timing their military offensives to achieve maximum political impact in the U.S. (I don’t have to explain why jihadists want Republicans to remain in control, do I?)

“In June, the F.B.I. arrested seven people in Florida on charges of plotting attacks on American landmarks, including the Sears Tower in Chicago, with investigators openly acknowledging that the suspects, described as Al Qaeda sympathizers, had only the most preliminary discussions about an attack.” (NYT 08.13.06)

“Britain Says Two Dozen Major Terrorist Conspiracies Are Under Investigation” NYT headline, 08.14.06.

James Fallows, in a Q&A with the DMN, 08.13.06: “Osama bin Laden has boasted that the $500,000 he spent on that attack (9/11) provoked at least $500 billion in military and security spending by America, for a million-to-one payoff.”

“One, two, many Vietnams.” –Che

John Muir

Perhaps someone else, and not our friendly, street-corner terrorists, achieved an objective. If we’re going to work in conspiracy theories, may as well make it whole hog. That reminds me of a delightful barbeque story from a couple of years ago ….

The idea that high explosive can be made quickly in a plane toilet by mixing at room temperature some nail polish remover, bleach, and Red Bull and giving it a quick stir, is nonsense. Yes, liquid explosives exist and are highly dangerous and yes, airports are ill equipped to detect them at present. Yes, it is true they have been used on planes before by terrorists. But can they be quickly manufactured on the plane? No.

The sinister aspect is not that this is a real new threat. It is that the allegation may have been concocted in order to prepare us for arresting people without any actual bombs.

Let me fess up here. I have just checked, and our flat contains nail polish remover, sports drinks, and a variety of household cleaning products. Also MP3 players and mobile phones. So the authorities could announce – as they have whispered to the media in this case – that potential ingredients of a liquid bomb, and potential timing devices, have been discovered. It rather lowers the bar, doesn’t it?

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Richard Jehn

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