AD HOC RUNNING FOOTNOTES ON essay on terrorism in DADT  May 26 2004 warning   Anthrax reports  911 Commission  Bush PDB and Rice , Concern about Soft Targets, Notes on book by anonymous CIA employee , Government Watch Lists, Hacking of websites, Web publishers and sensitive information or analysis,  Popular Muslim uproar over blasphemous cartoons of Mohammed, Misleading registration of websites by terrorists, Blogging as an intelligence tool, 8/1/2004 DHS Announcement about Specific Institutions  Problem with Panhandlers  Iran Photography  Cold Fusion Saudi Arabia and royal family instability  Marriage and terrorist immigration  Nuclear terrorism   fatwa Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)  Threat to Gay Community


The referenced source essay is at and it appears in the new DADT sequel book.


This file was started on the evening of 9-11-2001. When the essay mentioned above was prepared for the book, this file became a repository for additional footnotes after publication. It is set up as a “blog” rather than as a file indexed by footnote number (in the fashion of my other book footnote files.) This blog is essentially in forward sequence. Generally, more recent entries appear at the end.


Before we go on with the running footnotes blog, here is the latest on CIVILIAN PREPAREDNESS:


Wall Street Journal article July 20, 2004: Amy Dockser marcus, “A New Approach in Terror Readiness: Latest Efforts Address How People Dan Respond in Attacks; Where to Find Shelter”

· Checklists with emergency tips: Department of Homeland Security; America Prepared Campaign

· Preparedness for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s): Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

· The George Washington University, Response to Emergencies and Disasters

· The Rand Corporation: “Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear, and Biological Terror Attacks


When I was in the Army (late 60s) and stationed at the Pentagon for a while, part of my job was to survey and read literature like this with respect to nuclear war. My impression from all the evidence is that the chemical and biological threats are overstated, but the practical economic and long term health effect of a radiological attack would be great indeed and could be difficult to stop. And the concern over small “loose nukes” from the fall of the Soviet Union seems to go underreported. I’m not sure what use I would be in a world in which this really happens.




Also, on March 27, 2006 the only person prosecuted in the United States for the 9/11 attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui, “admitted” that he and would-be shoebomber (from 12/2001) Richard Reid would have flown a fifth plane into the White House on 9/11. It was not immediately clear where that would have taken off or why it did not. Since this contradicts the convict’s earlier stories and some other evidence, it is not clear that it is all true. Flight 93 was probably intended for the Capitol. Also, the plane that hit the Pentagon may well have intended to hit the White House first, given the evidence. Moussaoui was sentenced to life in solitary confinement in Supermax in Colorado in June 2006. The court exhibits of the trial can be viewed by the public online at the US District Court website:


EDITORIAL on Terrorism  (Sept. 11, 2001)


For four years, in my three books and on this web site, I have advanced the notion of reduced government, individual freedom and appropriate individual accountability, even to the point of our willingness to question our personal goals.


Some may feel that these arguments have become irrelevant today. We must pull together as a nation, just as we did after Pearl Harbor.


Indeed, this may well be, in lives lost from just two of the hijacked plane crashes, the most catastrophic event in our history. Although we don’t know for sure yet, the number of fatalities here in one city may outnumber the deaths in the Vietnam War, and they may be comparable to the deaths of the first ten years of the AIDS epidemic. (Rev. 9/29/2001: It looks like the number will be less, around 6500).


And come together we must.  But we must take a look at the message sent by terrorists.  What they want is to force our government to take repressive actions against its own people, possibly, in the warped view of terrorists, to start some kind of left-wing revolution.


In some ways, I wonder how this was possible, how such a technologically crude attack could have escaped normal airport security in four instances.  Obviously, the terrorists want to create a situation where Americans cannot move freely without unacceptable costs or downstream risks, and where the American economy can no longer have the confidence of political stability and physical security it needs to prosper. It’s easy to imagine other attacks that could really be far worse, but we shouldn’t elaborate here. It is important for our government to identify the culprits promptly and restore some confidence pf safety and stability, even before financial markets reopen and even airports reopen.   


In the ensuring weeks, there will be moralizing calls for Americans to give up their individualistic life styles—in exchange not just for more security but also for more “moral” collective values. There will be talk of reduced flights and prohibitive prices, gasoline rationing, perhaps attempts to clamp down on unsupervised speech on the Internet, and on and on. We saw this kind of talk in the 1970s during the Arab oil embargo. The moralizing would extend to consideration of personal sexual lifestyles in the 1980s and 1990s as we faced the AIDS crisis and then other controversies. .


There is something disturbing about all of this—the charge by some groups around the world that Americans lead self-serving lifestyles that exploit others around the world and that blaspheme religion especially.  In truth, some of this may be related to specific problems in our past foreign policy. For example, in the past it was “politically” acceptable and advantageous, in macroscopic views, to allow Israel to take over property from Palestinians and from the point of view of human rights (without reference at all to the validity of any religious faith) this has always struck me as morally wrong. (9/29/2001: (There is of course another side to arguing all of this, the historical confiscation of holy lands during Roman times, the Balfour Doctrine of 1917, and so on – consult any major history text, like Brinton, for all the details. Another political reason seems to be resentment over American—particularly non-Muslin—presence in Saudi Arabia essentially to secure the flow of oil.)


Consider what terrorists envision—an authoritarian world, ruled by an elite (possibly religious) chosen by its own rules, and no more fair or egalitarian than any other. They can hide this with the “guilty conscience” problem.  We shouldn’t be so attached to our devices, we shouldn’t be so technologically interconnected, we should be more family-centered or more people-centered—but all to server someone else’s agenda, which is what makes all of this so unacceptable to me.


That’s my take.  There is no retreat from the proper debate of individual rights. 




First, the warnings of possible or even likely future homeland attacks from American officials right before President Bush ordered major strikes on Oct. 7 must be taken seriously.  On Friday Oct 5 ABC Nightline and Ted Koppel rendered a particularly frightening scenario of a fictitious subway anthrax attack that results in over 50000 deaths.  On the other hand, Time and Newsweek have reported that local biological and chemical attacks (or radiological) with huge casualties are much more difficult to deliver in practice than has sometimes been reported by the media. 


What is clear is that the United States and our way of life may not be able to withstand further large attacks, particularly a situation where future large attacks are anticipated and cannot be effectively prevented.  What we have is a medical-like oncology paradigm where early intervention and prevention are essential. Anyone with the mind of a fiction novelist could imagine a long list of possible horrific homeland attacks and diplomatic complications, such as disruptions of oil supplies.  This is no place to enumerate them, but what I will list here is some suggestions that should be implemented immediately to prevent any future major domestic incidents. Some of these may be in place already but may not have been publicized”:


  1. Airlines:


    1. Improve the cat-scanning of checked luggage
    2. Improve the training and qualifications of security employees
    3. Prohibit passengers from bringing items onto aircraft that could facilitate a chemical attack during flight, such as certain kinds of small containers, atomizers, and the like, and gas masks; equip pilots with gas masks and separate the air supply of cockpits while security for cockpits is being hardened.  Again, the Sept 11 attacks could not have been carried out if pilots were armed and cockpits properly secured.
    4. Prohibit cash ticket purchases less than 48 hours before flight time
    5. Provide biometric surveillance


  1. Trains and subways; public events 


    1. Provide “suicide barriers” on metro platforms as is now being done in Paris and London
    2. Provide police and video surveillance for objects left in stations or thrown in stations.  Prepare emergency response plans to shut down systems temporarily but immediately when suspicious behaviors are seen and immediate local medical assistance in the affected city; provide appropriate emergency medical testing and treatment facilities in the cities at risk
    3. Provide random surveillance of metro and train stations with bomb-sniffing dogs. Begin security screening on passenger trains.  This is already done on the Eurostar trains between Paris, London, and Brussels. Even some concerts and discos now have metal weapons screening at entry without significant inconvenience for the public.
    4. Provide biometric surveillance


  1. Surveillance for dangerous substances


    1. Provide for random surveillance of industrial and residential areas for radiological or other “dangerous” substances.
    2. Public policy should differentiate between possession of mass destruction weapons or substance, and drug possession, and normal gun ownership. A society in which law-abiding citizens may own guns and know how to use them may actually be safer.   


  1. Military


    1. Increased naval security for oil tankers;
    2. Increase security through the St Lawrence Seaway
    3. Common security policies throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. 
    4. Careful thought to personnel security clearance issues in all kinds of occupations, but this is discussed elsewhere at this site.




President George W. Bush said Saturday “We’re at war.”   Up through World War I, war was often a conflict between states, with eviction of the defeated state’s government from power. However, in modern times war has increasingly been about ideology, ways of life, religion, and points of view.  Sometimes, as with the War Between the States, it could be about a conflict between economic and moral interests. Often it has been fought in the name of religion.


In the post-Cold War era, war is becoming increasingly tied to attacks on personal values and lifestyles. So terrorism is definitely “war. “ Although terrorism may be, as noted above, may develop out of what others see as “imperialism,” it is also directed at the lifestyles and expressive freedoms of ordinary citizens and holds citizens who use these freedoms in contempt.


Much has been written about the unity of our country during World War II, and even to a large extent during the Gulf War, and our disunity over Vietnam. During WWII, personal sacrifice, even the ultimate sacrifice, was seen as a virtue and during earlier generations one did not question the loss of personal liberties for the common good.  The draft, rationing, blackouts, and censorship were all accepted.


Terrorism invokes a different paradigm, because the restriction of personal liberties would play into the hands of the terrorists in a way that it does not in a conventional state-system war. It is essential to restrict personal freedoms only when credible threats can be perceived from the exercise of these freedoms, not just hypothetical “what if” scenarios.


One possibility would be to severely restrict the mobility of citizens, with restrictions on who can fly, gasoline rationing, closing of public transportation in many areas, and the like.  However these measures, above those listed above and similar measures proposed by others, specifically directed at known threats can often be effectively and efficiently implemented with little loss of mobility by a better-educated public.


A subtle problem may occur with speech, especially with the advent of the Internet and low-cost publishing, which can allow ordinary individuals to make themselves into minor celebrities with very little cost and without “rising through the ranks.”  During World War II and even during the early days of the Cold War there was a lot of talk about the responsibility that ordinary citizens have to avoid disclosure of information that could aid the enemy.  Sometimes specific facts, which by themselves are atomic, meaningless and unclassified, become valuable to an enemy when edited, assembled and interpreted in one place.  Could this possibility surface with ordinary citizens using the Internet?  Another related issue would be, could the expression of opinions critical of government handling of the new “war” give aid and comfort to the enemy?  This could, because of the mechanics of publicity with the new technology, become particularly pertinent for persons whose employment somehow involves the military or other major government functions, even if their job duties are not in themselves sensitive.


This last point is not trivial.  Libertarians have been critical of American foreign policy as interventionist and even oppressive of peoples in whom we have no morally defendable stake (again, this gets back to oil interdependence and the political problems around supporting Israel). Similarly, libertarians have criticized immigration policy as exclusionary, protectionist, and morally unsupportable. I have seen the same criticisms reiterated in the last few days. Moreover, I have been particularly dedicated to criticism of the military’s relationship to the civilian society that it serves—with respect particularly to the draft (which according to recent reports could be reinstituted) and also with respect to gays and lesbians.  Indeed, the military ban, in my thinking, can be construed as a profound insult, a way to declare gays and lesbians (including me) as legally second-class citizens (and we can go on to the marriage and other family issues from there).


In a democracy, free speech and constructive, civilized dissent must always be accepted. This puts us on edge, because other societies do not respect the value of debate and speech (as it undermines religious or political authority) and may, in a superficial fashion, interpret debate as a sign of lack of support for our fighting men and women.  We had this issue in Vietnam, when the issues were more muddy and when the dissent was sometimes not civil. 


But because we are dealing with terrorism and a particularly focused attack on individual expressive rights, it is vital that we maintain our free flow of debate and unclassified information.  However speakers will have to know where to draw the line. In the Internet age, it is possible for ordinary citizens to stumble upon unusual sensitive information that they should not publish but should share with authorities.


I remain committed to participating in and supporting debate in many personal expressive areas that concern me.  Even as I often point out the subtle “moral” problems with the way individuals (myself included) set personal priorities, I remain committed to the idea that some individual rights must not be bartered away by politicians, even in difficult times such as these.  For me, in particular, that means that I cannot accept the idea that a person’s sexuality or intimate interests should be appropriated for someone else’s purposes. 


Likewise, however, I pledge that I will be cautious with any sensitive information that may be shared with me (inadvertently or not).  When necessary, specific information is held in confidence and share with appropriate authorities.


 I personally want to express my support to men and women in uniform who will be defending and repairing the homeland, and going on dangerous missions, possibly protracted, to apprehend the perpetrators of this horrible event and of all entities that have supported them.

AD HOC NOTES after President Bush’s speech  (9/21/2001)


It seems that we face an enemy, Osama bin Laden,  who stands with the “baddest of the bad” – Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein.  Here is a psychopath who for no reason other than his own power – an egomaniacal desire to destroy civilization on his own-- will train young teenage boys to become suicidal killers.  It is hard to fathom the network of terrorists, how, whatever their religious underpinnings, would come to enjoy western lifestyles for several years and still respond to some invisible call for suicide.  This is not the sinister plotting of a Clive Cussler novel; it seems to come out of Dean Koontz.  The drones are truly monsters.  I have known well-to-do young people become violent in challenging the system (back in my post Vietnam days) with “moralistic” leftist ideology opposing the “exploitation” of the “fat, decadent middle class” but I rather think that politics (anti-Israel) and ideology are probably beyond these new terrorist cyborgs right out of “V’.


It may be easier to eradicate bin Laden and many of the terrorist cells abroad than the President says, and it may be easier to do defensively in the U.S. and Canada, even without major suppression of civil liberties that many fear.  Indeed, economic recovery depends upon a public perception that the attacks – some even more horrific – can be prevented without changing the basic character of our now rather individualistic society. 


The biggest problems may be diplomatic and political rather than just military.  For spectacular successes, including bringing bin Laden to justice alive, may instigate other undiscovered cells and may instigate political instability in moderate Islamic states, especially those upon whom we depend for our driving habits.  The worst future damage to our economy could come from political developments that lead to another oil embargo, or even terrorist acts against shipping on the high seas or even in coastal port areas (including the Great Lakes).   Calculation of moves – political, diplomatic, and military will have to be considered with all the care of a chess grandmaster entering a middle game. 


The hatred of Americans that is drilled into the recruits (often without girlfriends) seems to be mostly collectivist politics, but the totalitarian clerics indeed are threatened by the ease with which western culture filters into their lands through the mass media and now the Internet.  Now, information comes not just from corporate enterprises but from individuals with their own agendas—a potentially even bigger cultural threat.  The information age would give younger generations the chance to learn about freedom wherever they are.  The idea of “asking and telling” (“Show and Tell”) or “Do Ask Do Tell” now potentially spreads to the arena of international diplomacy.


Here is a link to an English translation of Osama bin Laden’s video released on Oct. 7, 2001 after President Bush ordered air strikes:

At one point, he seems to indicate that the Sept. 11 attacks were punishment “from God” for non-Muslims occupying Muslim territories supposedly to support Western materialistic lifestyles or for political reasons. (His idea of religion does not allow for free will.) He regards any American “taxpayer” as an accomplice in what he describes as a crime against Islam.  But while he seems to be appealing to a third world indignation (in a classically collectivist sense in which religion is used as a surrogate for economic class or race) about American wealth and disposable income (well pointed out in Rolling Stone and other places), he is simply offering an authoritarian theocratic world in which he would be the center of power. But his dichotomy of “infidels” v. “believers” is striking and uncompromising—and misleading, as he hijacks one of the world’s great faiths to feed his own sociopathic and oddly defensive ego. There was a time, before the Crusades, when Muslim culture was technologically the most advanced in Europe.  .



CIVIL LIBERTIES  (note 9/29/2001)


There is a tremendous amount of debate in the press as to the new balance that must be struck between civil liberties and security.  Much has been written about ethnic profiling and about wiretapping, pen-registers, and various other surveillance and detention measures that may trample upon the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.  For example, individual citizens might not be allowed to encrypt their emails so that only the intended recipients can read them.


There will be a shift away from laissez-faire entrepreneruialism and a greater emphasis on security, which will necessarily lead to even more consolidation and scale in business.  We have many concerns.  One is the possible suppression of individual artistic and political content, which has to date been facilitated by wide-open but risk-intensive and infrastructure-dependent technologies. Another is the breakdown of newer traditions of non-discrimination in employment, which will have to become more security conscious.  Obviously there can be issues of ethnic origin, but also down the road of lifestyle.  For gays and lesbians, there will be a certain threat of a backslide to tie policies of the early Cold War era, that looked upon gays as character-deficient and therefore untrustworthy.  Issues like gays in the military and same-sex marriage—issues that bear upon the capacity of gays to shoulder their fair share of social obligations as dues for first-class citizenship—become more pressing than ever.


Email sent to Ted Koppel and ABC News during the Nightline Broadcast of Tues. Oct. 16, 2001


Mr. Koppel: I am watching your Nightline broadcast interview with Mr. Spertzel. I am quite alarmed about the variations among the preparations used in the various attacks, culminating in the attack against Mr. Daschle, so cunningly prepared that apparently it must have come from Iraq or maybe smuggled out of Russia. 

  One question is what you have posed in previous Nightlines- what if a “Daschle-like” [that is, very small particle size] preparation is released on a subway?  Perhaps it already has been, but we have to hope that even so the concentration of spores would not produce a wide epidemic as your previous programs proposed. The incubation period is perhaps longer than what was reported in your earlier broadcast (Oct 5) and there may be more time for treatment. But 8000 or so weaponized spores would fit into one period in this email--according to the ABC website.

  One question then is whether the transit police in NY, DC, San Francisco, London, Paris, etc. (even Bilbao) are watching carefully enough to shut down systems immediately should any incident be noticed.  I wonder this, but it was not mentioned in your broadcast.

  But what the terrorists may be trying to do ultimately is to force the U.S to attack Iraq as well as Afghanistan, and trigger a widespread war in the Mideast, leading to mass uprisings of fundamentalist "Islamic" youth and particularly overthrow the royal family of Saudi Arabia and control the oil supplies.  It is this possibility that may have Wall Street worried the most.

  Bill Boushka

  612-677-0652 or 800-414-4418 


Notes  Oct 18. 2001


Mr. Koppel did an interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson Wed Oct 17, and the government offered assurances that it could “respond” and provide sufficient  antibiotics quickly after such a speculated attack. The possibility of the future need for emergency widespread smallpox vaccination is being discussed, with mention of an NIH study on dilution of existing vaccine stocks.  However, the government has warned doctors to look for the possibility of (highly lethal) Ebola or Marburg virus as described in Richard Preston’s book, The Hot Zone. As far as I know, there is no conceivable way that HIV could be weaponized for an “attack” although any infected person who intentionally has unsafe sex after lying to his partner could find that his behavior is looked at in a way almost comparable to terrorism.  It does not seem that other slow exotic agents (prions such as Mad Cow) could be weaponized. The government is prosecuting false threats in a manner similar to the way it handles “jokes” at airports. 


For USPS recommendations regarding the mail, see

For the best medical coverage on this, I recommend ABC,

For the best coverage of Afghanistan, including showing of films by Lon Sherman and Sebastian Junger, I recommend MSNBC.


Notes on Oct. 20, 2001


The Libertarian Party has issued a press release suggesting that the terrorist assaults –especially the prospect of “retail terrorism” which the LP maintains cannot be controlled or prevented defensively – might not have happened if it were not for what it sees as inappropriate and meddlesome U.S. foreign policy, especially with respect to Israel and oil supplies.  I believe that this position tends to suggest that “terrorism works” or that “might makes right: and that this position could contradict the usual libertarian position against non-aggression. Furthermore, even though American foreign policy apparently plays a large role in the negative reactions of much of the Islamic world, terrorist attacks can occur domestically and can occur because of hatred of differences and diversity, because of a negation of multi-culturalism and “peaceful co-existence”. For example, some people feel that the propagation of modern ideas through the broadcast media and Internet by itself is a threat, even without an aggressive foreign policy, so a pacifist foreign policy would not necessarily prevent attacks.


The LP foreign policy arguments actually lead down an interesting path.  For example, it appears that Saudi Arabia has supported extremist Islamic schools run by madrassas in other countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, indoctrinating young men and even boys (generally from poor backgrounds)  in the most extreme interpretations of the Koran, which some people try to use to justify anti-Western violence.  It seems that a government that we depend upon as an ally to safeguard oil supplies is engaging, not just in repressing some of its own people, but in encouraging anti-Western violence from outside its borders. Furthermore, the indoctrination exploits a vulnerability of disadvantaged young males, “untamed” by either women or intellectual culture, towards group affiliations and militancy—a subject discussed elsewhere on this site.  


The Electron Frontier Foundation now provides a disturbing report of an increase in Internet and media censorship related to terrorism, not al of it started by government.  Here is the reference:


One point of EFF’s page is that censorship based on subject matter or even political viewpoint alone (violence, terrorism, extremism, advocacy of “jihad”), instead of the specific mechanics of content (that is, explicit pornography, photographic images of graphic violence) becomes a real issue.  This point should not be lost on current litigation before the Supreme Court, such as with the Child Online Protection Act.  Visit the links and detailed thought.


It is only fair to state now that some experts are now questioning how well “milled” were the anthrax spores found in Senator Daschle’s office, calling into question theories that the milling must have come from a hostile overseas sources (such as Iraq).


Notes on Oct. 22, 2001


The information on the anthrax cases is disturbing and sometimes contradictory, but it seems to point to sources from Russia or Iraq.  This does indeed amount to “asymmetric warfare.”


But a critical effort in solving all of this is understanding what made the kamikaze hijackers tick.  We can understand young men from impoverished backgrounds being captured by the idea of martyrdom.  But young men from more privileged backgrounds with graduate school educations in Europe—well, college students in the West (the United States and Europe) are increasingly individualistic, and build worlds around themselves.  If is hard to understand how these young men persisted in such a “religious” ideology when surrounded by the accoutrements of Western civilization.  Men, of course, are “barren” until tamed by women, by love, or at least by aesthetic and intellectual culture that they can master on their own.  That didn’t happen with these men. Moreover, as precisely executed and diabolically planned as were their attacks, much of their other behavior seems to have been ad hoc and sloppy—perhaps consistent with the idea of decentralized cells that come up with their own “plans.” A lot of it still doesn’t make sense.


Sept 15, 2006: Allan Lengel and Joby Warrick of The Washington Post have a story, “FBI Is Casting A Wider Net in Anthrax Attacks,” Sept. 25, 2006. The story counters many earlier reports that the spores were milled with special equipment. They could have been grown biologically by a very careful lab technician.


On Oct. 31, 2006 Warrick reported “Suspect and A Setback in Al-Qaeda Anthrax Case: Scientist With Ties To Group Goes Free,” about Pakastani scientist Abdur Rauf. The story is at this link.


Hacking of websites, suspicion of terrorists involved in hacks


Notes, May 4, 2002


In late March 2002 a large part of my Nov. 2001 terrorism essay was overwritten by a hacker. It was easily restored. Security investigation shows that this was apparently an attempt to “heckle” this site off the web. I can understand that it may seem, in the minds of some, provocative for someone in my position to discuss this problem as bluntly as I do on the net in a pseudo-commercial site. However, this site is about freedom and its limits, and this cannot be discussed with intellectual honesty without getting into details about the terrorism threat, just (as with the case of my COPA litigation) it can’t be discussed without homosexuality. Without the capacity to get into controversial and “dangerous” topics, I have nothing. 


Further investigation of this incident continues. It appears that most to all of the overwriting material consists of “random” characters.


July 14, 2004:

“A file transfer protocol site operated by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department became a cache of Osama bin Laden videos, jihadist songs and terrorist incident videos sometime over the weekend of July 10, 2004. Links to those files then were posted at al Ansar, a radical Islamist Web site, according to Laura Mansfield, who tracks terrorism activity on the Internet for a private consulting firm. A state government spokesman said the FBI took the server out of commission. FBI spokesman Joe Parris confirmed the report but would not say whether the feds are investigating” (Source: “Al Qaeda Messages Posted on U.S. Server,” David McGuire, July 13, 2004, The Washington Post, quote slightly paraphrased here; also distributed by from CNET with an incorrect link to the source). NBC reports that a website belonging to a Silicon Valley mapping company was hacked to show images of American hostage Paul Johnson, decapitated by terrorists in Saudi Arabia. The story (Jim Maceda, “Terrorists practice high-tech tactis,” Aug. 4, 2004,  is at . 

These kinds of incidents may be more common than has been reported.

On July 14, 2004 ABC “World News Tonight” reported on the large number of threats posted on radical Islamic websites that are quickly taken down and become untraceable. Of course, the right to radical speech (within the U.S.) is protected by the First Amendment (until the speech becomes an outright threat or stimulates “imminent lawless action”).  The link is at


ABC “Good Morning America” presented, on July 15, a story “Spy Moms” about volunteers who view radical websites, share information, “connect the dots,” and sometimes contact authorities. If I followed the story right, the organization is called “7 Seas Global Intelligence” and the URL is


I have myself received at least two possible “tips” by email since 9/11. These are turned over to law enforcement, but it is probably “common” for individual operators of controversial political websites to receive such “leads.”  I receive no feedback from what I turn over to law enforcement.


I have been very concerned that amateur or small-business websites (with inadequate security) could be unsuspecting conduits for steganographic information by terrorists, and that such a development, if it occurred, could lead to liabilities, bonding requirements, and the like, at least for ISPs and maybe even for domain owners. In at least a few cases corporate or government sites or sites belonging to domestic individuals (including, probably, me) have been hacked by agents that would appear to be connected to radical Islamic terrorists. The Patriot Act apparently specifies potential downstream liabilities like this, even though there have been (apparently) no prosecutions or DOJ lawsuits against legitimate websites as of mid 2004. As of 2004, it seems that most message relaying by terrorists has been through sites overseas that are taken down deliberately very quickly. (This came out of the arrest in Pakistan on July 13, 2004, leading to the alert on Aug 1, 2004, discussed below.) The Blaster Worm was apparently implicated in the Northeast power failure in August 2003, although it did not reach the relaying equipment directly, it may have interfered with the ability of utility employees to reply to the blackout.


Web Publishers Providing Sensitive Unclassified Information and Combinative Analysis


The government has expressed concern over the “combination effect” of information assembled on private websites, sometimes by entrepreneurs—pieces of information legally unclassified on their own, but capable of being useful to terrorists when conveniently assembled. (This concept is well known in security circles.) For example, John Young’s website (Cryptome) was covered on ABC “World News Tonight” on August 12, 2004 in the story “Too Much Information: Web Site Raises Questions About Public Access to Sensitive Government Info” because it apparently provides maps, roof photos of important buildings, and home addresses of some public officials—enough for the webmaster to receive a call from Homeland Security. Generally, such unclassified information has First Amendment protection unless it purports to aid “eminent lawless action  (though remember the case about Paladin Press’s “Hit Man”). Now Al Qaeda generally behaves as if it likes to pick high profile targets and dress rehearse their planned attacks for years, but combinative interpretations of various topics even by amateurs could suggest soft targets to terrorists. Because of the unsupervised and efficient nature of the Web as a publishing and speech medium, this possibility does seem more troubling.


According to the January 2004 Discover, medical science journalists had met in Washington in early 2003 for a workshop on the possibility of “negligent publication,” or the idea that some material, though legally unclassified, could be too dangerous to let loose with the public because of “asymmetry.” Besides the oft-mentioned problems with weapons and even “homemade nukes,” the writers were concerned about an article in the July 2002 issue of Science concerning poliovirus synthesis, and a Journal of Virology issue in late 2001 on fooling the immune systems of mice with a genetically engineered mousepox virus. There was discussion of “open source” and the idea that amateurs could unwittingly help terrorists “connect the dots” to make WMD’s from ordinary materials. This paradigm concept could eventually have a major repercussion for freedom to publish in low-cost media including the Web.  


In late 2004 the federal government seized servers belonging to Indymedia (from Rackspace Managed Hosting in San Antonio). Indymedia is a global collective of Independent Media Centers and thousands of independent journalists. EFF references is or with secret orders. The details are bemusing but seem to involve the publication of the identities of undercover agents. Indymedia’s direct URL is   This incidents seems to have more to do with publication of classified information than with analytical opinions (like my sites) but I sometimes do receive “tips” which might be viewed as confidential or classified by the government.


The March 2005 Reader’s Digest contains an op-ed by Michael Crowley, “That’s Outrageous: Let’s Shut Them Down: These Websites Are an Invitation to Terrorists,” in which he describes (without naming the domain) a site by John Young, a New Yorker who has “connected the dots” and assembled and published the locations of all kinds vulnerable targets in New York City from unclassified sources (often just walking the streets and taking photos). Other sites have published the names of undercover police (why isn’t that classified?), or aerial photos of the homes of top government officials. 


Mainstream media can cause security problems and backlashes with inaccurate reporting. Newsweek had reported desecration of the Koran (Qur’an) at Gunatanomo based on flimsy information, and this led to deadly riots in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world. Newsweek retracted the story on May 16, 2005. Could bloggers incite similar unrest?


The British tabloid The Sun (Tom Newton Dunn, “Bush probes Saddam’s pants”),,2-2005230454,00.html )and The New York Post ( ) published a photo of an aging Saddam Hussein in skivvies, fat teats but hairy chest, apparently from a compromised confidential military police source, with the possibility of fomenting more violence in the Muslim world, especially Iraq.


Also, see the op-ed “The ‘Scoop’ Heard ‘Round the World. Sadly.” By Chris Hanson, The Washington Post, May 22. 2005. He does discuss the blogger issue in a “flat world” (as with Thomas Friedman). Remember the board game “Star Reporter” from the 1950s (and its interesting map of a fictitious world)?

Susan Llewelyn Leach provides an article, “Watch where you point that camera,” on the increased law enforcement sensitivity to photography in some public places, which is now illegal on some subway and train systems. The Christian Science Monitor, May 23, 2005, link at

Blogging could be a tool for intelligence agencies.

On December 3, 2006. Clive Thompson provided a long article in The New York Times Magazine, p. 54, “Open-Source Spying: … Will blogs and wikis really help spies uncover terrorist plots?” This piece traces the inefficient information sharing and searching among intelligence agencies, whose search tools in 1995 would be dwarfed by Google today. An important system is Intelink. The writers explores the idea that spies and agents could blog (or make open-source wiki entries as in Wikipedia) to stir up chatter and attract tips. One obvious side-effect is that amateur bloggers (like me) sometimes could attract important tips. (This has happened with me.) Obviously this development challenges Cold War, even McCarthy era paradigms about top secret security clearances, and views openness as a possible asset. Another possibility for bloggers is conflict of interest. As one can see from other references on this site, blogging by agency employees or contractors would have to be supervised or approve of in some systematic way, and that itself could create a problem. Welcome to Casino Royale!

Muslim uproar over blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed

In September 2005 a Danish newspaper (Jyllands-Posten) published twelve cartoon pictures of the prophet Mohammed as caricatures, poking fun at him in various ways such as showing a turban as a bomb. Several European newspapers republished the cartoons. Islam does not permit visual images of the Prophet Mohammed; they view this the way we would view child pornography. Radical Islam tends to view blasphemy as a source of personal shame for individual Muslims who do not have access to modern ideas of free self-expression.  The result has been, especially in early Feb 2006, violence and attacks against Westerners in several Muslim countries. Westerners would see the publication as trollish but not objectively harmful.  This is a link to another domain. The drawings are privately authored and therefore copyrighted, and since I have not asked for reproduction permission, I do not keep them on or present them directly from this site.

Andrew Sullivan commented on Aaron Brown’s CNN show on Feb. 5, noting that free speech, even to offend others, is non-negotiable in western modern culture; that one can oppose offense with civil actions but not with the violence of thugs. Radical Islam seems to be predicated in preventing the expression of ideas that would challenge the beliefs of its subjects. Christianity went through this at the time of the Inquisitions. A Washington Post editorial on Feb 8 2006 maintains that Saudi and Egyptian governments, and not Al Qaeda, fomented the unrest over the cartoons.

Other references:  “Why I Published Those Cartoons” by Flemming Rose, Feb. 19, 2006,,13509-2017195,00.html

Bordens and Waldenbooks announced that they would not carry the April-May 2006  issue of Free Inquiry Magazine ( ) because the issue will contain four of the allegedly blasphemous drawings, and could pose a security problem for the store’s employees and customers. This, it sounds to me, is giving in to hecklers and has a major American company and retailer setting a bad example, inviting more of the same, when it refuses to see content that is objectively acceptable by normal public standards (I presume that Free Inquiry had secured copyright permission to reproduce the drawings) because of fear. See  theMarch 29, 2006 AP story by Carolyn Thompson, “Borders, Waldenbooks won’t carry magazine,” from

The Washington Times ran a major editorial on this on March 31, 2006, “Sharia at Borders”, at The editorial points out that there have been no violent incidents in the United States. Certainly, this whole matter challenges journalistic and editorial integrity. A lot of examples are being set by the controversy over these "trolling" cartoons. My LTE reply was published April 1, 2006 at Letter to the Washington Times on Borders  I personally checked with three Barnes and Nobles stores in the Washington DC area that weekend and they all said that they do not normally carry Free Inquiry.

However, on June 2, 2006 I was able to buy a copy of this issue at a “Books-a-million” store.  Four cartoon images, in black-and-white, appear in the editorial by Tom Flynn, “Islam and the Cartoons.” He writes “Islam must learn to conduct itself in the civil sphere as one creed among others, as other world religions have done.”

There has also been a controversy with the “South Park” series on Comedy Central, which blocked an image of Mohammed. See the CNN story at

Shaun Waterman has a United Press International story (The Washington Times, May 23, 2006) “Bill ties animal rights, terrorism: Aims to close third-party targeting, Internet loopholes” concerning the apparent targeting by animal rights activists of companies that do business with places that experiment on animals, and even try to target employees of those businesses on the Internet. The House Judiciary Committee is considering legislation to deal with this problem. This would seem to be related, at least conceptually, to the cartoon problem: businesses can be targeted for selling items or doing things that some activist groups consider morally objectionable.

On Oct 26, 2006 Jan Olsen of the Associated Press reported that a Danish court had thrown out a “blood libel” lawsuit claiming that the cartoons had insulted the prophet. Muslim law does not apply in non-Muslim countries. The link in The Washington Times is here.

A similar story concerns the cancellation by the Deutscher Opera of Berlin of performances of Mozart’s Idomeneo because of an added epilogue showing the parading of Mohammed’s decapitated head (as well as the heads of Jesus, Buddha, and Poseidon). I cover this on a blogspot link.

Misleading Wesbite Registration a security issue associated with hacking


The arrest of Babar Ahmad in London (Britain) for plotting terrorist incidents in Chechnya and Afghanistan (and also under an extradition warrant for the U.S.) in early August, 2004 is important. Ahmad had been using misleading websites (hosted in the U.S. in Connecticut) to raise money for terrorist groups. Apparently these sites had used misleading registration information, in violation of ICANN “accurate location” policies which are often not strictly enforced by registration companies. WHOIS databases are supposed to enable a member of the public with a legitimate concern (a customer or complainant, for example, but not a spammer) to locate the owner of a registrant. I am not sure how this case could play out. But currently it is acceptable to use land-address mailboxes (like Mail Boxes ETC with UPS) and not a true commercial or residential address (as many site owners like me do not have commercial addresses and do not want to publish residential addresses for security reasons—in either case, others besides the registrant (coworkers or family members or tenants in the same building) could become indirectly endangered if a registrant attracted the attention of a terrorist. Registration companies generally also offer “private registration” for additional fees (check for this at a typical company website), in which personal registration information is not published on WHOIS but is instead replaced with pointer addresses managed by the registration company. (WHOIS information is not supposed to be used for improper or illegal purposes, and there have been some mechanisms developed to prevent their use by spammers, such as human readable access graphics, but that would not protect a specific mark.) I wonder how much this potential issue has been thought through. Assumed names also present this issue, as they are usually listed online by states or local governments that register them. (Proprietorships often use assumed names, and because they do not have to provide public financial reports, there is a risk that they could be perceived as a shield for money laundering in a background investigation.) In any case, law enforcement should always be able to track a domain or assumed name back to the owner’s physical whereabouts (business or residence) but the public as a whole should not without some “effort” first (or assistance from law enforcement or legal process). The CNN story is at   (My email contact is at the bottom of this page if you want to respond to me on this one, it looks important.)


Notes, October 2002


Here is a link to material on airline safety authored by Ralph Omholt



Notes: November 2002


The chapter “Terrorism, Individualism, Civil Liberties and Libertarianism” has been included in a book sent to iUniverse on 11/7/2002. Additional notes will be included on this file.


In the Fall 2002 the American Experiment Quarterly published two essays, “Weapons of Mass Destruction: Not a Doomsday Review,” by Ben Brandt, and :” “Understanding the Threat: A Minnesota Response,” by Charlie Weaver. Editor Mitchell Pearlstein invited me to submit a response of 400 words or less but found mine too expansive and suggested that I use it elsewhere. So, for now, here it is:

Response to American Experiment articles.


There are two new provocative periodical references:


Lewis M. Simons, “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” National Geographic, Nov. 2002, p. 2


Sebastian Junger, “Terrorism’s New Geography,” Vanity Fair, Dec. 2002, discusses terrorist and Al Qaeda links in the Triple Border area between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, connections to drug cartels, and connections to neo-Nazi extremists in the United States. “Stephen Jones, the chief defense lawyer for Timothy McVeigh, suspects that convicted Kuwaiti terrorist Ramzi Yousef supplied technical expertise in the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing.” Gore Vidal had offered such similar speculations in early 2001, and there have been anecdotal comments regarding possible connections with the Michigan Militia. Junger discussed his latest article with Connie Chung on CNN on November 7, 2002.


Link to the color-coded terror warning system is


Here is one translation (from the Associated Press) of most of the Al Qaeda Nov. 2002 tape purportedly from Osama Bin Laden; since it mentions recent incidents in Bali, Moscow, Yemen, etc. it is supposed to show that bin Laden is still alive.


On Nov. 16, 2002 Chief investigative correspondent Yosri Fouda, for the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera received another letter purportedly from Al Qaeda, warning the U.S. to stop supporting Israel, stay out of Iraq, get out of Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries, and even (as outrageous as this sounds) convert its civilian population to Islam, or else face (“spectacular”) attacks on New York and Washington again.. The letter went on to articulate the “tainted fruits” theory (previously articulated in tthe 70s by Marxists) that American civilians should be punished for the actions of their governments and businesses. Here is one account: 

Again, the libertarian idea that the West has done wrong, first by abetting the forcible takings of lands from Palestinians in the past, and then by colluding with dictators in the Islamic world for business interests (oil) supposedly (but maybe not in fact) at the expense of the people living there, seems to make our moral position (especially dependence, albeit decreasing, on Mideast oil as a foundation for personal mobility and uncommitted lifestyles) harder to defend today. They call it karma.


The “Poindexter” Homeland Security bill before Congress would allow various government departments to share surveillance information with a new “data mining” system possibly enumerating most transactions conducted by ordinary Americans. The existence of such a system raises questions about checks and balances, oversight, and conflicts of interest for any government or contractor employees with even read-only access to this data.


Aug 7. 2005, The Washington Post, Steve Coll and Susan B. Glasser, “e-Qaeda: Terrorists Turn to Web as Base of Operations,” documents in detail how al-Qeada and perhaps other groups can operate in physically distinct units with no direct contact but communicate through the web, for training and for signaling of operations. Hidden signals can be planted on websites (steganography).  An article in Newsweek on May 22, 2006 by Mark Hosenball and Evan Thomason NSA surveillance of personal phone calls, “Hold the Line: Big Brother knows whom you call. Is that legal, and will it help catch the bad guys” talks about the tendency for terrorists to place instructions on websites (their own??) as well circulate passwords to instructions. 


Hackers have also attacked various other provocative web sites. The terrorism essay (for which this file is a footnote file) was hacked (in the section talking about suitcase nukes) on April 1, 2002 when it was on "hppub".  Sometimes attacks are for financial reasons. A British college student’s site that sells pixels for ads (by Alex Tew) was hacked with a denial of service attack in January 2006 when Tew refused to give into demands, and the hack is now being investigated by US and UK authorities. There is an AP story “Hackers Attack U.K. Student’s Web Site” on January 18, 2006.


On June 11, 2006 CNN reported again on Al Qaeda use of the Internet, to recruit jihadists with ideology, and to lead them to sites with very explicit weapons information.


Nuclear Terrorism / Biological / Chemical


On November 18, 2002 ABC News reported that Congress will be conducting hearings specifically dealing with the possibility of smuggling nuclear weapons or radiological materials by terrorists into the United States through ports or even from Canada or Mexico.


On Dec 29, 30, 31 2004 Dafna Linzer provides a 3-day update T”The World After 9/11”) on the “technology” of terrorists in The Washington Post. The title of the first episode is “The Nuclear Threat: Nuclear Capabilities May Elude Terrorists, Experts Say.” Optimistic thinking! The report starts with a layman’s discussion of nuclear terrorism (and a sidebar on dirty bombs). The possibility of theft of a difficult-to-detonate small weapon from Russia or the former Soviet Union from the Russian mob is discussed. The steps in smuggling the raw materials and making a gun-type (HEU uranium, Hiroshima, “Little Boy” – just 135 pounds of HEU – that is U-235 according to high school chemistry – can, given a catalytic gun blast of sufficient impulse, can vaporize a square mile or so; other sources say that it only takes as much HEU as would fit in a grapefruit) or implosion (plutonium or uranium, Nagasaki, “At Man”) bomb is discussed. No really new information is presented. Uranium is easier to shield (from passive sensors at borders) in smuggling than is plutonium.


In July 2007 both NBC and ABC reported a test of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. An investigator set up a fictitious company with a UPS Store mail box, and ordered construction parts including americium-147, which is reported to be more toxic than plutonium. The NRC has tightened its procedures, and some Al Qaeda chatter reports an interest in americium.  Of course, someone imported polonium (from Russia?) into Britain in order to assassinate an ex-KGB agent, so presumably that could also wind up in terrorist hands. 


Installment 2, on Dec. 30, 2004, is called “The Biological Threat: Technical Hurdles Separate Terrorists from Biowarfare.” Again, it is very difficult to design an agent (even anthrax) that, if released as an aerosol, is really concentrated enough to produce mass fatalities. One can imagine scenarios of a release (botulinum) in an airline terminal, or bioengineering with SARS or influenza (aka “bird flu”) viruses or even smallpox—but they may still be the province of thriller novelists.  The writer gives examples from history, as when during the French and Indian Wars in the 1760s, indians were given smallpox with smallpox-infected blankets. Biowarfare has been “acceptable” previously in history.  In June 2005 CNN discussed a NAS report regarding ways the milk supply could be contaminated with botulinum, and the report was kept password accessed only. The debate ensued as to whether potential terrorists were being given “ideas” by journalists but normally legal censorship only exists with information that is classified (or considered a trade secret or legally confidential).


The Washington Post started a series “Five Years Later” by John Warrick, on July 30, 2006. The first installment was “The Secretive Fight Against Bio-Terror.”

Monday July 31, 2006 “Custom-built pathogens raise bio-terror fears.”


Installment 3, on Dec. 31, 2004 is called “An Easier, but Less Deadly, Recipe for Terror,” discusses chemical weapons agents like VX, Sarin, Tabun, Mustard, Lewsite, and mentions the grim possibility that terrorists could attack a domestic chemical or refining facility and produce a “Bhopal” (India, 1984, Union Carbide) type catastrophe. She discusses some specific scenarios, as the arrest of Texas gun enthusiast William J. Krar who had purchased materials to stage a hydrogen cyanide attack.


Norman J. Ornstein provides an editorial, “Unprepared: Why Inauguration Day is dangerous” in The New Republic, Jan. 17, 2004, p. 15, in which he presents a fictitious scenario where a suitcase nuke goes off on the Mall at noon on that day. A discussion of the order of succession and of who is within the danger zone ensues.


Stephen D. Krasner provides an argument, “The Day After: If terrorists explode nuclear devices in several major cities, expect the principle of national sovereignty to be among the casualties,” Foreign Policy, Jan/Feb 2005, p. 68. In his scenario, the cities are in different countries, not just the U.S.  “The Day After” was the name of a 1982 television film about nuclear war erupting between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (as was the 1983 film “Testament”).


Steve Coll provides “Nuclear Nightmares: What Bin Laden sees in Hiroshima,” The Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2005, p. B1.  Coll argues that while Al Qaeda, as an organization, may not be effective in organizing an event from the top any more, its ideology may well have “infected” small sleeper cells of extremist people capable of stealing nuclear materials and launching a catastrophic attack.


John Mintz provides The Washington Post May 3, 2005 with “U.S. Called Unprepared for Nuclear Terrorism: Experts Critical of Evacuation Plans.” A radioactive dust crowd from a nuclear strike would cause tremendous casualties downwind. The report is critical of the advice in 


On My 5, 2005 Katherine Shrader of the AP reported that the United States had secured less Russian nuclear material in 2004 than in 2003, a fact of great concern to Sam Nunn.


FBI and CIA directors admitted, in Senate hearings on Feb 16, 2005, that Al Qaeda was still likely to be planning WMD attacks within the country, and that the amount of uranium or plutonium missing from Russia could support making nuclear bombs. Iraq was said to be a breeding ground for new members who could attack here, as were some of our prisons.


According to the AP (Lara Jakes Jordan) on March 15, 2005, DHS (Department of Homeland Security) will soon release a report detailing a number of catastrophic attacks that cities should prepare for. Included are (1) Blowing up a chlorine tank or railroad car (17000 deaths 100000 injuries); Chlorine is heavier than air; (2) Planting pneumonic plague in an airport (or possibly botulinum); spreading an anthrax aerosol from a truck driving through several cities or in front of a subway (3) Introducing foot and mouth disease in livestock (which occurred by a careless accident in the UK in early 2001) (4) nuclear bomb (5) dirty bomb.


NBC “Meet the Press” on May 29, 2005, discussed the nuclear threat problem with former Senator Sam Nunn, Sen. Richard Lugar, Gov. Tom Kean, and Sen. Fred Thompson. A clip from Nunn’s film “The Last Best Chance” was shown. The security of nuclear materials in Russia and former Soviet Republics was a major topic. One interesting point is that Osama bin Laden would believe that one or two nuclear attacks against an American city (ies) would get us out of the Middle East (Israel/Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iraq) just as two atomic bombs forced Japan to surrender in 1945, ending World War II.  A good example of “connecting the dots” in history, a good multiple choice question for a history test.  Sam Nunn pointed out that ten percent of our electricity indirectly comes from HEU taken from decommissioned weapons sites, especially in Russia.


Joseph Farah provides an analysis of significant dates to Al Qaeda at  One alarming date would be Aug. 6, 2005 (Sat), the 40th anniversary of Hiroshima.


ABC “World News Tonight” is running a series on nuclear security Oct 10-14, 2005. On Oct. 10, an ABC reporter documented lax security at Los Alamos, NM against suicide attacks and the lack of security for nuclear materials in truck transport. Domestic nuclear materials could be diverted without the need for foreign import. A number of university campuses have research nuclear materials that are not properly secured.


ABC News also has the story “New Dirty Bomb Detection Equipment Boosts Port, Border Security: But Only One Major Seaport Has Installed Critical Technology,”  The technology is called “portal technology.”


The Nov/Dec 2006 issue of Foreign Policy has a disturbing article by Peter D. Zimmerman, Jeffrey G. Lewis, “The Bomb in the Backyard,” at this link., p. 32 in hardcopy. The article describes how a domestic cell could purchase desert real estate and build a “farm” to cover up the building of a nuclear weapon in a manner similar to covering up illegal drugs. The printed edition has a Norman Rockwell style painting on the cover to illustrate the concept (with Osama bin Laden as the “husband”).  Only Al Qaeda and Aum Shinrikyo seem capable of this.


An even more explicit article is in the December 2006 Atlantic Monthly, by William Langewiesche, “How to Get a Nuclear Bomb: It wouldn’t be easy. But it wouldn’t be impossible. A reporter travels the world to find the weaknesses a terrorist could exploit,” p. 80. He describes HEU as a much more practicable than plutonium, and talks about the loose spots in the world. One of them is east of the Urals, a closed weapons production area with the cities of Ekaterinburg, Ozersk, and Chelyabinsk, with access in and out heavily controlled and a very long and improbable escape route for smugglers. The former republic of Georgia is troubling (loose Strontium-90 has been found there), as is the smuggling route from Iran through Kurdistan in southern Turkey and maybe northern Iraq. I once (in Nov. 2002) received  email information indicating that there about eighty such sites scattered throughout Russia and Siberia. The article pooh-poohs the likelihood that any loose suitcase nukes could still be a threat; they would have deteriorated into duds by now. All sounds like material for the movies.


The Oct 29, 2006 issue of The New York Times Magazine has an article by Noah Feldman, “Islam, Terror and the Second Nuclear Age,” in which the ideological foundation for a nuclear state attacking another country as a “suicide” tactic is analyzed. Again, bizarre.


On September 10, 2005 CNN gave a brief report of what could happen if an LNG (liquefied natural gas) tanker were attacked and exploded in a major harbor (especially Boston), resulting in an instant fireball.


There have also been media reports that a terrorist attack exploding a railroad car carrying chlorine in a densely populated area could cause over 100,000 casualties. Many cities are trying to prohibit the transport of certain products in their most densely populated areas.


Time magazine, on June 20, 2006, published a book excerpt of Ron Suskind, “The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11”, in which he reports that Al Qaeda came within 45 days of releasing hydrogen cyanide gas in the New York City subways in Feb. 2003. There was an intelligence operative by the name of “swift sword.” Here is an NBC link:  or at,9171,1205321,00.html  (may require an online subscription).   


On March 27, 2006 NBC Nightly News reported an investigation or border security. Undercover agents reportedly smuggled enough radioactive material through Mexican and Canadian borders to make two large dirty bombs. The crime was demonstrated with forged paperwork. Only about 40% of cargo is checked for radioactive cargo at some ports. The DHS claims it will have its port security plans in place by the end of 2007. There would be questions about how to detect materials hidden in lead containers, but there would be ways to detect these containers, partly because of their extreme density.


On June 3, 2006 MSNBC reported that London (UK) police had raided an east London house early that day after a tip that the house might contain ingredients for chemical weapons or even a dirty bomb. Police did not find the devices. The NBC/Reuters story is “U.K. police hunt for ‘dirty’ bomb; major raid fails to unearth chemical device believed to exist, papers say,” at    It is noteworthy that insurgents in Iraq have started making chemical dirty bombs, using chlorine gas as a product of some of their explosions. But this was done during World War I (as was done with phosgene – or white phosphorus, which is very corrosive). A major attack with two car bombs near nightclubs near Piccadilly Circus in London was averted on June 29, 2007, CNN story here. (It does remind one of what happened in Bali in 2002). On June 30, 2007 there was an “amateur” car fire attack at the Glasgow, Scotland airport.  Citizens in the terminal actually apprehended suspects before the police could arrive, incurring injury in doing so. (As of late Saturday one suspect died of burns, with no other deaths.) Britain went on terror code red alert, but according to CNN no major events have been canceled (as of 10 PM Saturday night British time) (gay pride parade in London was already well under way before this happened).  CNN Glasgow story is here. One irony is that Glasgow is the site of the recent suspense film about a security camera monitoring person in Glasgow called “Road Red”, review here. Some press reporters connect these incidents to the government change in Britain and the appointing of the new prime minister (replacing Tony Blair) Gordon Brown, who is reported to be Scottish. There are alarming reports that some of those arrested are medical doctors from the Middle East. There was even a warning “Those who cure you will kill you.” Because of its doctor shortage (which some attribute to socialized medicine and the NHS, praised in Michael Moore’s film Sicko, Britain has admitted foreign doctors without the usual work visas).


Visit a related blog entry on this story (July 6).  Brian Krebs has a story on the July 6 Washington Post, p D01, here, “Three Worked on Web to Help Terrorists: British Case Reveals How Stolen Credit Card Data Bought Supplies for Operatives.” A woman in New Jersey fell for a phishing scam on her EBay account and her identifying information was used.


On June 3, 2006 Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported the arrest of 17 terror suspects “inspired by Al Qaeda” for large scale explosives possession, claiming that they were planning major attacks. AOL news story (requires subscription) at  The followup in the media shows that the intentions were quite horrific although with conventional explosives in large quantities.


Around June 22, 2006 the FBI broke up and arrested a similar small “sleeper cell” in the Miami area that apparently intended to blow up an FBI building (as in the movie Arlington Road) and the Sears Tower in Chicago, the tallest building in the U.S., using huge quantities of conventional explosives. However, family members of at least one of those arrested claim that this was fundamentalist Christian, not Islamic, cell, and only one other person at their meetings might have somehow had ties to Al Qaeda or a similar base. (CNN, June 24, 2006)   


The “Salars Family Website” in the survival section contains speculations about these things about potential long term disruptions that are quite alarming. Here is the link. Here is the National Football League’s account of an apparent hoax that was spread by someone with no apparent connections to Al Qaeda; it is still under investigation (10/19/2006): 


A Reuters News Story on Nov 10 2006 by Michael Holden and Deborah Haynes reports, “Britain’s Spy Chief Warns of 30 Major Terror Plots.” The chief is Eliza Manningham-Buller, and she mentions Dhiren Barot who was convicted of plotting to use dirty bombs in Britain for repeated attacks (as well as for threats against the New York Stock Exchange). “My officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totaling over 1,600 identified individuals who are actively engaged in plotting or facilitating terrorist acts here and overseas," she said. Here is the link for the story.


In late November 2006, Former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko died in London after ingesting food contaminated with a rare form of polonium-210, which could only have been prepared in a state-owned laboratory or by a terrorist with extremely advanced resources. Russia is suspected of this as a hit, but it cannot be denied that it is possible that Al Qaeda could acquire this material from insecure sites in Russia or former Soviet republics or even North Korea or Iran. The difficulty of using this material is even greater than finely milling anthrax. At least one sushi restaurant in London has been closed during the investigation, and traces of polonium were found in a hotel and his home. The material is dangerous only if ingested, not by being near someone who has been “infected.” Alpha particles are stopped by paper.  The Reuters story by Peter Graff “Toxic Bomb Killed Ex-Spy” is available here. This form of microscopic polonium has been called a microscopic “nuclear weapon.” This kind of “Tom Clancy” type assassination has never occurred before. Subsequent media reports, as emerged on Nov 27, 2006, suggested that this form of polonium might occur in some photography materials as a static electricity counter, so it now sounds more conceivable that it could have been handled by terrorists, without state approval.  This sort of incident underscores the message of the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s film “Last Best Chance.” 


Peter Eisler has a story “Nuclear material secretly moved: East German cache secured in Russia,” USA Today, Dec. 19, 2006,  where 590.3 lbs of HEU materials were moved from The  Rossendorf Research Center, Germany to a secure site in Russia. Previously, 363 lbs. had been moved since 2002. Story link.


On December 22, 2006, British intelligence sources publicly expressed fears of major attacks in Britain or Europe from terrorists returning to Britain and Europe from Iraq. The policies of President Bush and Tony Blair would appear, from these reports, to have exposed the people, at least in Britain, to extra risks. There is always a concern that terrorists trained in Iraq could try to come to the U,S. as well. (ABC World News Tonight.)  CNN reported particular concerns about the Chunnel (as depicted in one of the Mission Impossible movies). In May 2001, I took the Chunnel from Paris to London and then back to Brussels, and encountered security delays myself, well before 9/11.


In early January, 2007, Christian fundamentalist televangelist Pat Robertson was reported to have predicted a major WMD attack with massive casualties in the US late in 2007.


Here is a blogger entry on an ABC World News Report story on March 12, 2007 on loose nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union.




On November 26, 2002 a state in the northern part of Nigeria issued a fatwa against writer Isiome Daniel for (according to some Muslims) a “blasphemous” speculation about the prophet Mohammed in connection with the Miss World contest, a comment that led to riots with many deaths and relocation of the contest to the United States. What is interesting here is that “fighting words” would lead to riots and multiple deaths in a religiously sensitive country. 


An additional bibliographic footnote to notes 19 and 20 of the parent essay: Graham Allison and Andrei Kokoshin, “The New Containment: An Alliance Against Nuclear Terrorism,” The National Interest, Fall 2002, p. 35. (See review of Graham Allison’s book Nuclear Terror with comment on Stephen E. Flynn’s book American the Vulnerable, both of which “CNN Presents” discussed with a program “Nuclear Terror” on 9/12/2004). In 2003, religious mullahs in Saudi Arabia supposedly gave Osama bin Laden “permission” to use nuclear weapons against the United States if necessary to get the U.S. out of Muslim lands; in 2004 this apparently became a “requirement”.


On December 4, 2002 a federal judge confirmed the right of the government to hold Jose Padilla as an unlawful combatant, but that he must be allowed counsel. Julie Hilden writes a column on CNN’s FindLaw, “Why the U.S. Will Not Admit Jose Padilla has Constitutional Rights,” at

She walks through the legal conundrum, and proposes the idea that in this situation Padilla has only modified 5th Amendment Rights (he could be deposed) but still retains 6th Amendment Rights (to have counsel) even if held without charge on military grounds. Now this gets into whether the threats in the U.S. meet a legal definition of war. Otherwise, a constitutional amendment is needed, although I have proposed as much in dealing with weapons of mass destruction.


On December 9, 2002 ABC “Good Morning America” presented a most disturbing segment about nuclear power plant safety (check the 2004 film Meltdown). Foster Zeh, saying he risked his job as a whistleblower (whatever the whistleblower laws) reported maneuvers at       Indian Point Nuclear Planet north and upwind of New York City in which guards were physically unfit and unprepared to repel a mock terrorist ground assault. The only job requirement for some guards was a pistol permit, not a performance test in marksmanship such as is common in the military and law enforcement. Danielle Brian, from the   Project on Government Oversight, reports demoralized staff at ¾ of nuclear power plants. The new owners of Indian Point maintain that they comply with all legal requirements. 

According to the ABC report, 3/4 of the Guards believe they could not protect their plants


On December 17, 2002 Attorney General John Ashcroft and Solicitor General Olson discussed the Patriot Act on “Larry King Live” on CNN.  Their side of the debate on this matter is that the Act is necessary to track a particular person of interest in a cohesive fashion (without separate search warrants as in convention criminal investigations) since terrorist activities are likely to cross so many modes of communication. Holding of U.S. citizens as “unlawful combatants: is seen as justifiable when citizens are connected to acts of war, since prisoners of war, though protected by the Geneva Convention, do not have civilian due process rights. Lavender, in an editorial on Dec 15, 2002, points out the new Department of Homeland Security will not have proper congressional oversight or other conventional due process protections. The Posse Comitatus law (1878) inhibits military involvement with civilian law enforcement, so the use of military law in homeland defense with combatant suspects raises troubling legal questions even given Article I Section 8.


On August 1, 2008 the Los Angeles Times (story by David Willman reported on the apparent suicide of Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who as about to be charged with unauthorized possession and tests with anthrax spores off government premises, link here.,0,2864223.story  The story has a video.

On Christmas Eve, Dec 24 2002, The Washington Post presented a sobering article, "In U.S., Terrorism's Peril Undiminished: Nation Struggles on Offense and Defense and Officials Still Expect New Attacks," by Barton Gellman. Martial law is openly mentioned as a possible response to a large domestic attack.

UN weapons inspectors and IAEA officials will want to examine Iraq for WMD's that might have been smuggled from the Russian black market, including weapons that may be assembled but not be usable. It is possible that weapons could have been passed to other countries from Iraq or to terrorist groups. Inspectors should examine Iraqi scientists outside of Iraq if possible. At the end of 2002, there are alarming reports about activities in North Korea related to nuclear weapons. It seems that in addition to asymmetric warfare by terrorist groups that work outside of established states or that hijack states, we have rogue states that believe they can have effects upon open western society out of proportion to their size or economic scale. Of course, North Korea may be just taking advantage of the "distraction" to US resources. Of course, conservative columnists can make these observations as a diversion from domestic economic and social justice problems, but all issues are interrelated and "inherit" from one another, through "interfaces."

North Korea’s aborted missile tests in early July 2006 were well covered by the media. But former House majority leader Newt Gingrich speculated on “Meet the Press” (MSNBC on July 16, 2006) that North Korea could plant a Panamanian (or Liberian) registry ship with a nuclear weapon near the US West Coast and use it to blackmail the relinquishment of South Korea. During the 1990s, the possibility of major war in Korea was a Clinton administration theory to justify the ability to resume the draft, which makes “don’t ask don’t tell” relevant; during the 90s, North Korea was perceived as dangerous as Al Qeada. And the two could go “in sync.”

On Dec. 27, 2002 ABC "Nightline" presented a study of the detention of over 1000 young men, mostly of Middle Eastern Origin, for months because of speculated connection to terrorist activities. While some were eventually deported for minor immigration violations, others were held without charge for months. Not one was found to have a connection to Al Qaeda, and this is a disturbing observation indeed, as to the sinister nature of Al Qaeda.

In early January 2003 the 4th Circuit ruled that the United States may hold American citizens as unlawful combatants (in military custody with very limited procedural due process rights apart from the Geneva Convention) in time of war (which includes now) if those citizens are suspected by the military of actually participating with an enemy (such as Al Qaeda).

The January 2003 American Enterprise presents a special issue on terrorism, called, “Homeland Dangers: We’re not safe from terrorists how: Here’s how to get there.” That refers to the article by Karina Rollins (“No Compromises: Why We’re Going to Lose the War on Terror … and How We Could Win”). There is an article by Eli Lehrer “Prepared for Terror” about the Arlington, Va. Police department’s preparation, and a detailed article on bio-terror by Scott Gottlieb, “Wake Up and Snell the Bio Threat,” in which the future possibility of genetic engineering of the Stephen king variety by terrorists is mentioned. There is Scott Johnson’s “Better Unsafe than (Occasionally) Sorry: Meet one of the crusaders blocking intelligent profiling of terrorists” and most importantly of all, “A Fatal Flaw: A hole in the Constitutional system could prevent Congress from functioning after a terrorist attack; America needs bold action,” by Norman Ornstein and John Forster. This refers to the possibility that the House of Representatives could be suddenly wiped out (or, in some ways even more dangerous, many members still alive but incapacitated) by an attack (such as a small nuclear explosion), and there is no efficient way to replace the members. (Governors could appoint members of the Senate and there is clear presidential succession, except that this reaches the Speaker of the House). A major study an constitutional amendment would be necessary to address this. This article points out that Flight 93 left forty minutes late, which may have given the passengers time to learn about the ongoing tragedy and overcome the hijackers. Had it left on time, it might well have slammed into the Capitol (remember, the plane that hit the Pentagon overflew the White House because it was disguised in trees), although even if it had at 9:20 AM it is not clear from the record now if the Capitol had already been evacuated. There is also a sobering introduction, “Bird’s Eye” Defend the Homeland – Or Lose It” by Newt Gingrich.

In mid January 2003 the Pentagon began sending emails to Iraqi military leaders as a psychological warfare exercise, trying to get them to defect with the idea of possible war crimes prosecutions. It apparently took Saddam some time to put on his filters. (I don’t think this site has had direct traffic from Iraq as identified by a domain name TLD.) 

Feb 1, 2003:

Preface all of this with the observation that Saddam Hussein had been called “the most dangerous man in the world” in the months before his invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Yet the first Bush administration blundered into letting it happen.

Colin Powell will present detailed evidence regarding Iraq’s possession of WMD’s and possible ties to Al Qaeda on February 5 at the United Nations. What seems to be shaping up is the “chemotherapy” problem.  Saddam Hussein probably would facilitate a terrorist attack on the United States or British homeland if he could, just out of spite. It is not likely that this could happen with weapons he has made. It is much more likely with weapons that he could have stolen or bought on the “black market” from the remains of the former Soviet Union, especially the southern republics. These weapons could conceivably include highly weaponized anthrax, smallpox and botulinum, as well as small nuclear weapons. If this is a real threat, then his behavior seems to be a form of blackmail. He knows that the United States cannot afford to allow him to violate the terms of his 1991 agreement at the end of the Persian Gulf War, yet conceivably he could be in a position to trigger attacks through terrorist groups if we attack, although in the long run that danger exists anyway. Even more than ever, liberal democracy with its style of neo-individualism seems vulnerable to small nilhist groups or even individuals working on their own, with the help of rogue states.

Mar 1, 2003:

Colin Powell did indeed present a large variety of evidence on Feb 5 of Saddam’s hidden weapons with his multi-media “Show and Tell.” Various intermediate steps have followed (for example an order by Hans Blix of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to start destruction of some missiles on March 1), with Saddam constantly offering small pieces of candy to appease the international doves and disrupt the president’s “coalition of the willing,” at least with respect to the United Nations Security Council. But unless Saddam discloses his large stocks of chemical and biological weapons and secret contacts with the former Soviet black market, it is likely that war could start as soon as March 22. 

The government maintained an Orange Alert (“High”) terrorism status for twenty days in February, reportedly because of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Median, the Hajj. To westerners, the Hajj looks like an enormous group spectacle of incredible ritual devotion, prepared at one late point even with male head shaving (there are various media stories about body shaving as a ritual practiced by terrorists). During the Orange Alert, Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge proposed home measures to withstand 72 hours without assistance after an attack, and these include the notorious “duct tape” to seal windows. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on Feb. 27 conceded that at some point the president might consider addressing asking for major sacrifices from individual American citizens. Were war with Iraq to start, it seems possible that securities exchanges and some airports and other transportation facilities could be closed for a few days, depending on noise and intelligence. Some cities might impose curfews for a short period, on the theory that the greatest security threats from terrorists may come from conventional ground transportation and mobility.

Dan Rather did an interview with Saddam in February at a palace in downtown Baghdad. The portion where Saddam denies connection to Al Qaeda or to 9-11 was blacked out on the Larry King Live transmission. Rather reports that Saddam really believes that he can survive and that he might disappear into the population (maybe as did Osama bin Laden). Saddam Hussein also proposed a “town hall” style public debate with President Bush. I don’t think it’s to present a “Bill of Rights 2.”

After the War with Iraq (no WMDs?)

Over time, in late 2003 and 2004, much has been made of the inability of the armed forces to find much in the way of WMD’s in Iraq after the ouster of Saddam. Of course, the arguments about other nations (North Korea, etc.) are important.  But besides the “trafficking” issue (that stolen weapons of materials from various black markets, especially the former Soviet republics, could move through Iraq and “disappear” there is the disturbing report from the IAEA that equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons have disappeared from Iraq, even since the fall of Saddam. .  There are various other reports of small weapons facilities (toxins, ricin, various small arms devices) found after Saddam’s fall that could have been passed to terrorists. Saddam tried essentially bribe his way out of sanctions. Of course he was a menace. The question is, however, that the Bush Administration certainly has lost credibility in the way it “oversold” its case, including Colin Powell’s Feb. 5 2003 multi-media presentation (rather like a documentary movie to challenge Scott Ritter!) to the United Nations—and the Administration may have diverted resources from Afghanistan (especially the Pashtun areas), Iran and especially North Korea, as well as other oil-producing states. The Democrats are right about that, and about the fact that Bush should have gotten more countries to share the cost first.


The government has proposed a “Red, Yellow, Green” (like the childhood playground game like “Mother May I”) profiling of airline passengers with data mining (a system to be called CAPPS II, “Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System”) looking at credit reports, financial history, criminal convictions, and presence on terrorist watchlists. Delta Airlines will start this in April at a few unannounced airports. The risk is that citizens could be wrongly blacklisted (and lose jobs that require travel) without resource, because of errors on credit reports or even identity theft. Why is this necessary, with physical security of airlines so much tighter. We now have air marshals and have started training pilots to be armed? We now screen all checked luggage.  AAA World (JulyAug 2003) reports that the older system (CAPPS) has been in use since 1990, that TSA add names to the list in a classified manner, and there have been some cases of mistaken identity.The Electronic Privacy Information Center has lobbied on this issue; see, for example, the letter at

As of July 16, 2004 we understand that the TSA has decided to scrap this program!!

However, the 9/11 Commission recommends that the TSA consolidate all twelve secret “no-fly” lists. There are serious problems about the government’s accountability in running these lists, and the ability of citizens to clear up errors since the lists and many of the underlying mechanisms are classified. The best excuse seems to be “we’re at war” and individual citizens misidentified (and losing jobs) just have to bear the sacrifice, as there is no criminal charge. “U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who privately reviewed the government's "sensitive" data, ordered the government in June to further explain why it hasn't disclosed certain documents in response to the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act request.” In one case, peace activists who publish a magazine critical of the Bush administration, were detained at an airport. Even Senator Edward Kennedy was on such a list by mistake and it took some effort (at the Tom Ridge level) to get him off. The AP story on Aug. 10, 2004 “No-Fly List Raises Civil Liberties Concerns” is by David Kravets, at

From the ACLU on 8/18/2004: “Under a little-known law from 1977, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, serious potential sanctions apply to all employers and people in the United States, not just to CFC recipients. With the expansion of terrorist watch lists since Sept. 11, the implications of this policy have grown exponentially, but the its existence and broad reach remain largely unknown. U.S. law forbids employers from hiring any individual designated on various government lists. If they hire someone from these lists unknowingly, the person or organization may be liable for civil sanctions, and if intentionally, criminal sanctions can be imposed.”  Employers might be hindered in compliance with this law by conflicts with other laws, like age discrimination laws, when they try to verify the identify of a namesake from the list.


The Customs Service is now checking all persons and belongings or cargo entering the country for radiation. Radiation and chemical detectors are now present in some subways, to the extent that some prostate cancer patients with implants have been stopped by transit police. Radiation detectors along highways will be installed. 

(7/2004) There is controversy as to how effective customs inspect of cargo containers really is. Jamie Dettmer provides in Insight on the News, 2/4/2004, “Tighter Security in Store for Seaports,” at

Senate hearings on the issue are at

A massive WMD attack using materials hidden in containerized cargo would be tempting because Homeland Security would have to shut down all container use for several weeks to investigate the incident. Ironically, when I was in the Army and working with the Transportation Corps (1968-1969), containerization and pallets were viewed as the modern form of logistical efficiency for the military itself, much less corporate America.

Congress has proposed a Patriot Act II (“Domestic Security Act of 2003”), discussed at  

On Saturday March 1, 2003 the government announced the arrest of three major Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, and these include military operations chief Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, involved in planning the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, as the “#3” man.  Khalid had apparently graduated from an engineering school in North Carolina in 1986 and spent his life since that time on radical Islamic causes, including the radical notion of “jihad.” As with Mohammed Atta, it is puzzling while some young men with advantaged backgrounds and educations are spending whole lifetimes on radical militant causes. Is religious conviction the only explanation? 

I sent out a couple of strident emails to the GLIL list server, as follows:  The Graham Allison interview on PBS is at   The USA Today story on Feb 27 refers to other isotopes of uranium and other elements that previously had not been considered nuclear weapons material but usable in dirty bombs or maybe small crude nuclear devices. Strontium 90 could be one of the most dangerous dirty bomb wrappings.

Here are the emails:

Friends: While I watch the stock market and some of my retirement 401K tank as the world "hurries up and waits" for war, I am struck by what seems to be total lack of confidence in the president's leadership.

I think that both investors and some allies overseas have the impression that Saddam has manipulated the president into an overextended position where the U.S. must attack (to justify its domino theory) and risk the possibility of major domestic terrorist incidents and risk possible major breakdown of worldwide financial stability. This is like a situation in a chess game where the attacking player has been forced to gambit a pawn before being developed well enough to justify the sacrifice. The president is getting outplayed positionally.

Saddam can also take advantage of a major fallacy common in many anti-war efforts. Many protestors assume that peace or war is a simple ballot-box issue, and that decisions as to whether to go to war or spend money on social programs for the underprivileged can be made as simple choices.

It is not. Freedom cannot be taken for granted. This is even more true now as, for most of us, freedom is predicated on a certain institutional stability: that domestic law and order is maintained, that property rights are protected by law, that contracts will be honored. It is possible for multiple acts of terrorism, excited cleverly enough, to undermine all of this. That was demonstrated recently on the PBS special on dirty bombs and recent interviews with Allison Graham. Everything that our lives is based on is at risk now.

Of course, the main duty of the president and Congress (and U.N. Security Council) must be to do what is necessary to protect world peace and stability, not just to enforce a "domino theory." A little thought reminds us that the greatest caches of unsecured weapons of mass destruction in the world are two or  three places: the remnants of the former Soviet Union (including much of the present day Russian Federation), and Iraq.  
North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and India may deserve to be on this list (esp. North Korea).

I think that the president, Colin Powell, Dr. Rice and Tony Blair are probably right. The world cannot afford to allow large caches of anthrax, radiological materials, weaponized smallpox, etc. to exist inside
Iraq, and it now appears that they do.  Furthermore, there may well be unpublished evidence that Iraq did have something to do with the anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001 and that Saddam may be helping terrorists secure WMD's from the former Soviet Union through the black market. But if so, the president should make this public.

I don't know where this leaves us.  As a people, we have been careless, to allow ourselves to get into this mess.  One of the biggest problems has been underlying carelessness about the remains of the former
Soviet Union, as well as a lack of coherent policy for handling extremely dangerous materials within this country. Possession of cesium chloride should not be treated like possession of marijuana, and the libertarians are right in a sense, that overzealous drug laws (the arrest of Dell Guy Ben Curtis) confuse the control of truly dangerous materials.

And I understand libertarian theories about our involvement with foreign affairs. We have a history of involvement overseas to promote legitimate business interests (oil) or even security interests (driving the Soviets out of
Afghanistan), of supporting despotic leaders or figures who then "go bad" on us.  The over-dependence of the American consumer on oil is a factor. There is controversy over Saddam, whether he was just a tribal leader who invaded Kuwait in 1990 over an oil production dispute, of whether he is a true monster who has massacred his own people for decades. There is likewise some historical controversy over how we got into World War II and whether FDR manipulated Japan into attacking us because he needed war. This was discussed in a recent press release from Harry Browne.

The fact is, however, that we are stuck with our predicament now. None of us can feel comfortable about our own personal futures until the threat of
WMD's is removed.

And then:

suspect my email yesterday seemed pretty strident to some. One thing that seems clear is that, if terrorists now have WMD's, they will in time use them in the U.S., Europe, or against vital interests (oil fields) to try to permanently disable the economic system, regardless of whether the go to war now. The safest course is to disarm Iraq by force is necessary, but with the full support of the U.N.  This does raise the risk of single actors (like the snipers last fall) of carrying out acts. The other mandatory part of a national security program is to reign in on all dangerous materials around the world and account for them. This was covered in USA Today. Iraq is just one part of this problem.

We could get into all kinds of deliberations about our "morality" as a free people that somehow exploits the rest of the world. The truth is somewhere in between. We have supported dictators, who later turn bad, for what seem at the time like legitimate business and security interests. These dictators then oppress their own people. 

The far Left believes that if we simply gave up all of our own weapons and spent money on "people, not weapons, not words" all problems would dissolve. This is just naive.  Again, freedom requires vigilance.

But I do believe that the president has allowed some very disturbing impressions to be left by the way he has managed his statements.  He sometimes makes it sound like we will go to war because we can.

In response to these, I received some comments. One comment was a reference to an article in the London Observer by Martin Bright, Ed Vulliamy in New York and Peter Beaumont (3/2/2003) claiming that the United States, through the NSA (National Security Agency) was bugging various delegations at the United Nations, even personal communications of the delegates. This story appears to be authenticated by a Baltimore Sun story by Scott Shane and Ariel Sabar on March 4, 2003 (“Alleged NSA memo details U.S. eavesdropping at U.N.”) Another comment pointed out that the largest concentration in the world of biological and chemical weapons is at the Tooele Army Depot in Grantsville, Utah, and that there have been over two dozen thefts of material from this base since early 2002.  I don’t know how either of these statements could be factually verified. But it is true that radiological waste is available in this country, from hospitals and maybe even nuclear power plants, and could be diverted by unscrupulous domestic parties (and this idea has already come up with the anthrax investigations and Fort Dietrich, Md.) 

These comments are displayed in full at this link.

Letter sent March 3, 2003 to Sen. Mark Dayton, Sen. Norm Coleman, Rep. Mark Sabo.

On ABC “Nightline”, March 4, 2003, Ted Koppel held a town meeting in which James Woolsey, former CIA director, stated that Saddam might well be developing genetically engineered anthrax and smallpox to resist antibiotics and vaccines. Most of the debate centered around the necessity for U.N. support – many military actions in the past did not have full U.N. support.

Hans Blix presented his final report March 7, 2003. It sounded inconclusive but leaves the impression that more time could be productive. There may be an amended version of a second resolution setting a deadline for final compliance around March 19.

On March 17, 2003 diplomatic efforts stopped, largely because certain countries (France, especially) threatened to veto any new Security Council resolution that would authorize war, such as that posed by Britain to give Saddam Hussein certain specific benchmarks. In a speech that evening, President Bush gave Saddam Hussein a 48-hour ultimatum to go into exile from Iraq. The national threat level was raised to Orange. The war action appears to be legal and justified by earlier precedents. It might have become illegal had a second resolution been voted on and vetoed or defeated.

War started on March 19 (March 20 Baghdad time) with surgical strikes. The reader should follow standard news sites for detailed tracking of this quickly lengthening war. However, two developments are particularly important. One is that apparently some Russian companies have sold Iraq valuable military hardware and software, and this ties in with the theory that unemployed Russian or former Soviet scientists might provide Saddam (or other terrorists) with unusually virulent biological or even nuclear weapons. The other is the threat for Saddam to use chemical or biological weapons against his own people in Baghdad to try to embarrass coalition forces. This is monstrous beyond imagination. I don’t know if Hitler, Stalin, or even Pol Pot exterminated his own people (the Jews) specifically in order to blame an attacking enemy.

Regarding notes 15 and 24 on the terrorism essay, readers may want to look at “The Devil’s Accountant: Noam Chomsky’s criticism of America’s role in the world has increased his isolation—and his audience,” by Larissa MacFarquhar, The New Yorker, Mar. 31, 2003, p. 64.  It is over-simplification for me to refer to his arguments as “leftist”; rather, they are rather a super extension of a certain kind of relentless logic. Chomsky, for example, has compared the 9-11 attacks to Clinton’s bombing of a factory in Khartoum. Much or his foreign policy writings deal with supporting other international outlaws for short term gains, so in some ways he is almost libertarian.

Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon attracted attention with their public views against the war

to the point that the Baseball Hall of Fame canceled the 15th anniversary showing of his “Bull Durham” film on the theory that showing it would undermine the security of troops in Iraq.

On April 15, 2003 Robbins gave an impassioned speech outlining his views, where he states that the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terrorism is “you are either for us or against us” and seriously undermines civil liberties in the supposed safety of conformity. 

On April 23, 2003 City Pages ran a detailed essay “The Other War: The Bush Administration and the End of Civil Liberties”. The direct link is The essay traces the gradual growth of anti-terrorism legislation, with particular attention first to the 1996 Clinton-era “The 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.” Besides the widely reported stories about surveillance, lack of warrants, secret proceedings, deportations, and airline passenger “no fly” lists, the greatest practical threat seems to be (especially if Congress passes everything in the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003) the legal trouble (ranging from civil suits to criminal charges and possibly even being held as a material witness, or even as an unlawful combatant and loss of citizenship) that can ensue from contributing to or involvement in even the legal activities of any organization deemed by the government to be promoting terrorism (which can be broadly defined). In practice, so far, the usual marks for such a policy seem to be (almost always) Muslim men.  But the law sets a precedent that could apply to any politically unpopular group. Here, again we recall the fears of quarantine by gay men back in the 1980s of AIDS (and of Asians today over SARS). It’s also interesting that early in 2001, before 9-11, the greatest public fears were foot-and-mouth disease and mad cow.

The July 7 issue of The New Republic contains the article by Hudsom Morgan, “Shipping News: The real threat to air travel: cargo.” There is discussion of the known-shipper concept, where only recognized companies may user air cargo (in passenger planes) for shipping, a concept that, at least as a paradigm, would he harmful to less established businesses.

The July-August 2003 of Commentary contains an article by Robert Bork, “Civil Liberties after 9/11: Critics say America is on its way to becoming a police state, but they could not be more wrong.” Important is his discussion of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), where sitting district judges could approve of government applications for surveillance in closed-door hearings. FISA, he says, does not allow a person to be considered a foreign policy when carrying out activities protected by the First Amendment. Also important is his discussion of the concepts of “lawful” and “unlawful combatants,” with lawful combatants as being those organized by a recognizable state and carrying out military operations in a recognizable way. (The definition, however, could trap some of our own intelligence services.)

I have been in more informal discussions from time to time of all of this. Generally, the number of individuals capable of carrying out major terrorist acts domestically is probably much less than had once been feared, but still a significant peril. Smaller attacks at soft targets with ordinary Americans, aimed at disrupting ordinary domestic economic or social or family life, or perhaps targeting families or coworkers associated with moderately prominent persons somehow offensive to terrorists (“heckler attacks”) could still happen. The Malvo sniper episodes in Maryland and Virginia in October 2002 illustrate the disruption and fear achieved by small attacks with simple means by determined terrorists.  The overwhelming majority of alien Muslims detained for suspicions or immigration violations have, upon investigation, no conceivable connection to terrorist cells.  Many people of “average means” may in rare but random situations (as in the workplace or in social connections or Internet activities) learn of bizarre circumstances that point to possible terrorism, and good judgment in pursuing these is not easy. We don’t want a country of tattlers. But see the note on the Yahoo! stories, a couple paragraphs below. 

Many people were disturbed by a small government defense agency proposal for a “futures market” in predicting terrorist attacks.

In August 2003 Details ran a dossier article: “Were the Taliban Gay: Afghanistan’s nights are cold, its women invisible. In a place like this it’s no surprise men end up keeping each other warm.”

October 2003: As the Bush administration find clear evidence of Saddam Hussein’s “intent” to re-develop weapons of mass destruction but no actual weapons, one is left with the obvious question: Wouldn’t Saddam have availed himself of the fpr,er Soviet Union “black market” in biological weapons, chemicals, radioactive materials, and even suitcase nukes? Then Saddam wouldn’t even need to develop the weapons himself; he could just traffic them to get his revenge. It is obvious, but then why doesn’t the administration say so? What’s going on with Russia now? On Friday, October 10, 2003 Vice-President Dick Cheney warned about the possibility of a single day of horror with hundreds of thousands of American deaths in one day, in defending the president’s pre-emptive policy against Saddam. Surprisingly, neither The Washington Post nor The Washington Times played this up the next day, although AOL and CNN did online. What can this mean? Although he could refer to the possibility that North Korea could launch a nuclear missile that could reach the West Coast or that terrorists still could build a single nuclear weapon and smuggle it, the inference seems to be such weapons (especially small ones) could have leaked from the former Soviet Union (conceivably even within our own country). Only a full scale nuclear blast (or small simultaneous blasts) could cause such deaths in one day; dirty bombs and chemical or biological weapons probably could not. The AP story is President Bush himself had himself warned of a “mushroom cloud” in an early 2002 speech. On April 7, 2004 William Triplett II (coauthor with Edward Timperlake of Rogue State: How a Nuclear North Korea Threatens America, Regnery, 2004) provided an op-ed “North Korea and Nuclear Terror” to The Washington Times in which he warns that North Korea might sell its crude nuclear weapons to terrorists like Al Qaeda, although I still think that the greater threat could be poor security in the former Soviet Union and even Russia and China. It is ironic that Condoleezza Rice was planning to deliver a speech on missile threats on September 11, 2001!

Yahoo! (on March 21, 2004) presented an AP story in which Pakastani journalist Mamid Mir reports that Ayman al-Zawahri claims that Al Qaeda has obtained at least one suitcase nuke (or briefcase nuke) from the former Soviet Union black market. The URL is

Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks et al.

On the same day Yahoo! presented a disturbing story about global warming, with Carbon dioxide levels at record levels and rising at a record rate, as measured on the summit of Mauna Loa on Hawaii. The competition between the United States and developing countries, especially China, becomes an increasing political problem. The story is at

More light on Cheney’s statement may come from the November 2003 warnings by the government that Al Qaeda might highjack cargo planes in the Caribbean (a la James Bond villains) or Latin America and fly them into American nuclear power plants or dams. Security for cargo planes is believably weaker in third world countries (again, as in “Threat Matrix,” noted below). A greater risk (and maybe harder to stop right now without some more changes in security) would be the planting of an e-bomb (electromagnetic pulse generator) in a cargo plane and timing it to detonate at high altitude, creating much more damage to electronic infrastructure (including home computers and car electronic ignitions and even backup disks) on the ground for perhaps a couple hundred miles. Such damage would be permanent and create enormous economic losses and long term infrastructure failure (including the electric power grids) in a particular geographical area. Businesses and home users should consider optical (non magnetic) backups (Roxio CD burning) in addition to (for large businesses) mirror imaging databases at offsite disaster recovery locations. Homeland Security must monitor the “known shipper” plans for air cargo very carefully and step up freight inspections by screeners, and improve technology for verification screening of shipments by manufacturers, including electronics. Screening of freight should be a specialized, separate kind of job that TSA hires for. Small businesses and home users should consider that most of the time, ground shipment of electronics (computers, appliances) is safe, economical and adequate.

On the EMP issue, columnist Frank Gaffney (“The Terror Next Time,” The Washington Times, Feb. 17, 2005, p. A17) points out that a rogue state with nuclear weapons (that is, either North Korea or Iran) could launch a conventional small nuclear weapon offshore and detonate it at 40 to 400 miles altitude (200,000 to 2,000,000 feet), and wipe out all electronics in the country (or within trigonometric sight line of the device, to the earth’s horizon). Apparently these were the findings of an EMP Threat Commission. Gaffney warns that such a blast “could instantly transform this country from an advanced 21st Century to and18th Century Society.” In such an event (sounds like a good scenario for a disaster movie) all power would go off and all cars would fail at once. But it would take some time for the public to figure out what had happened, and authorities could be powerless to act. Gaffney advocates “regime change” in Iran and North Korea. In 2002, George Tenet had warned that North Korea could lob missiles to the American Pacific Northwest, and in early 2005 North Korea has admitted to having nuclear weapons. While this is a frightening article, remember that the Popular Science article on the havoc that could be wreaked even by cheap EMP devices (from the air) appeared on Sept. 4, 2001, one week before the 9/11/2001 attacks!  Anecdotal evidence suggests that scuds from Iraq during Saddam’s regime and from Iran today could reach altitudes of about 40 miles; missiles from North Korea (say if launched off a terrorist-owned ship near a US coast line) could conceivably reach an altitude of about 300 miles. A bit of “connecting the dots” here.

Senator Jon Kyl (R-Az) provides an op-ed “Unready for This Attack” in The Washington Post, April 16, 2005, p. A19. Kyl warns that an EMP attack (possibly with a small nuclear device—it is possible that non-nuclear EMP devices could be deployed, toom as discussed in the Sept 4 2001 Popular Science issue, one week before 9/11!) could be launched from an offshore ship (he says that Al Qaeda owns about eighty ships) with a Saddam-Hussein-style scud. He discusses the 24 hour blackout in the northeast in Aug. 2003 and warns that it could take months to bring power back online if a large area of the country was affected. He believes that key infrastructure equipment and backup systems could be developed now relatively cheaply. Of course it could be even more months before average consumers had access to consumer electronics and computers again even if main infrastructure were restored. Could Al Qaeda lauch an EMP scud in the Persian Gulf region and complete disable oil production from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and now Iraq?  If such an attack occurred over part of the continental United States, how would the public gradually find out? One homebound clue would be that no only would all power be down, but even battery-powered laptops would not work (and disc data would be destroyed, but optical CDs and DVDs would not), and cars would not start or operate.

The Washington Times followed up with an op-ed on May 23, 2005 by Maj. Franz J. Gayl, “National Paralysis: Electromagnetic Attack a Grave Threat.” Gayl claims that it would come from a nuclear warhead launched 30 to 400 km above the earth’s surface (up to 230 miles) and would fry everything within line of sight. He writes, “the impact of EMP is asymmetric in relation to our adversaries. The lesser developed countries of North Korea, Iran and other potential EMP attack perpetrators are less electronically dependent and less specialized, while more capable of continued functionality in the absence of modern conveniences.” He refers to the Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack” at   The editorial suggests that computers and power grids could be engineered to make them immune to EMP for about 3% cost increase (Faraday cages)’ it is not clear that this is practical for home electronics and home computers, or for cars.

USA Today echoed Cheney’s statements with a Nov. 28, 2003 story that Al Qaeda was planning another spectacular United States mainland attack, apparently because it does not have the people in place (in “sleeper cells”) to carry out small attacks consistently. Again, it seems to me that air cargo (especially that flown in from overseas, maybe to inland locations) and leaked WMD’s from the former Soviet Union trough the black market create the biggest threat.

The October 2003 Discover has an interview with Scott Atran, “The Surprises of Suicide Terrorism.” Atran discusses the point that many of the Saudi hijackers, especially, were well educated and accomplished.  They are not psychopathic. They may appear nihilistic, and feel that western materialism and even familism (which they apparently misinterpret) undermine their sense of masculinity. They believe that only by bonding together in military fashion in “kin-like” groups and surrendering their terrestrial lives they can “make a difference.” Other observers (including at least one screenwriter) have suggested that the fear of reprisal keeps many terrorists committed in their sleeper cells. In 2005 there would be reports that mullahs manipulate teenage Muslim males into believing that they will have access to sex in heaven if they become martyrs (since they are kept apart from women in Moslem society).

In late October 2003 a pacifist North Carolina college student, Nathaniel Heatwole, was arrested after admitting placing box cutter and sharp objects in the lavatory areas of several planes over a several month period, easily slipping onto airport tarmacs past security, and even warning TSA by email of the threat. The objects were actually found by a janitor. Is he a hero or a criminal? The problem is, of course, that to attract attention he had to commit a crime. Why not just create a website and publish how it could be done (or would it get taken down?)

In the fall 2003 various cable and broadcast networks are making up terrorist scenarios. “Jake 2.0” on UPN had geeky Jake Foley tracking down an e-bomb in Washington DC with his x-ray vision; ABC “Threat Matrix” presented a vengeful scientist working in Iraq smuggling in nerve gas, and then a cargo plane in being stolen in Sierra Leone ( a former haunt of journalist and author Sebastian Junger) and flown across the Atlantic, putatively with a radiological weapon on board and with the possibility of being crashed into a liquefied natural gas tanker in Baltimore harbor. A crude smuggled refrigerator-sized nuke goes off in Baltimore harbor in The Sum of All Fears (2002), so in both cases, “Baltimore Is Missing.”  Fox “24” will present a super-bug being smuggled inside cocaine. It’s pretty obvious that the real threats could be more subtle, such as using ordinary toxins, often widely available in the United States (mercury is only one example), to contaminate residential areas and especially urban condominiums, creating economic chaos. Even the vulnerability of southern California to wildfires could create terrorist targets. Will TheWBSmallville” have Clark Kent go after Osama bin Laden for the $25 million reward?  Two films The Italian Job (Paramount, 2002) and Best of the Best 4: Without Warning (Dimension, 1998) suggest that a terrorist hacker could sabotage traffic lights to gridlock traffic before an attack. Another scenario is presented by the 1996 film Skyscraper. Screenwriter imagination is almost endless here.

The Washington Post, on Nov. 30, 2003, carried the alarming story by Joby Warrick, “Smugglers Enticed by Dirty Bomb Componets: Radioactive Materials Are Sought Worldwide.” The article details a bust of a major theft of cesium and strontium 90 in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, the one known incident of radioactive blackmail, in Ecuador, and the problem of oil “well-loggers” in third world countries such as Nigeria, where there was a major theft with recovery in Germany.

Another article, on Dec 8, 2003 by Warrick, “Dirty Bomb Warheads Disappear: Stocks of Soviet-Era Arms for Sale on Black Market” discusses the Alazan rocket, which was to be equipped with radioactive warheads, in Transdneister Moldovan Republic.

Saddam Hussein was captured in Iraq on Dec. 13, 2003, as widely covered in news accounts. That is two years to the date that my information technology career as I know if ended with a sudden layoff, 92 days after 9-11. He was sentenced to death by hanging in late 2006. Here is the blogspot entry on his execution by hanging on Dec. 30, 2006, a scene that Truman Capote should have attended (like the last scene of the movie “Infamous”).

On December 22, 2003 the government again raised the national threat level to Orange, warning of intelligence chatter that suggests a possible WMD attack. The “threat matrix” had been raised in February (for the Hajj) and May. There is rather perplexing chatter about using aircraft again, which seems surprising given the new levels of airport security. Again, the logical conclusion is that our weakest link may be cargo planes, and our ability to detect explosives, especially e-bombs or radiological weapons intended to be exploded at high altitude. There may be additional concern about cargo planes from overseas. Some countries may have weaker cargo or passenger security. It would seem that electronics shipments from Asian countries might present more risk (because of detection issues for the cargo) to Pacific Coast areas. I have sometimes received Internet computer parts orders directly from Asian countries in only two or three days. It is important to review the standards and procedures for cargo security in many of these countries, and perhaps planes from some countries should be re-inspected before the enter U.S. air space.

There are also reports (Dec 23 2003) that a very few airline pilots in some overseas countries could be Al Qaeda operatives. (Unclear whether this refers to cargo, passenger, or both.) Over Christmas, some Air France flights from New York to Los Angeles were canceled on the intelligence hunch that a few scheduled passengers (who did not show up, at least one a pilot) were on a terrorist watch list and might have intended to fly the plane into Las Vegas.

Another issue that will soon be addressed concerns unusual substances (especially plastics explosives) held in unusual areas around the body, such as underneath socks (not just in shoes), underneath clothing on the body, or maybe even swallowed or placed within the rectum, as with some drug smuggling. It is difficult to imagine effective screening for this right now.

In recent months, news commentators have expressed increasing concern that middle class extremists will commit suicide in attacks in order to give their own lives what they see as “meaning.” On March 10 2006 the FBI reported a series of explicit fictitious scenarios involving sporting events on extremist websites; Brian Ross gives the details at

Lou Chibbaro Jr. writes in the Dec. 26, 2003 The Washington Blade, “Anti-gay group allied with terrorists? Alliance for Marriage includes ‘radical’ Islamic group.” Apparently the Alliance for Marriage included the Islamic Society of North America in its coalition of religious organizations supporting a U.S. constitutional amendment to prohibit recognition of same-sex marriage. Evan Gahr wrote an article in Jewish World Review reporting this, citing research of terrorism jouralst Steve Emerson. Here is a direct reference:  My gay marriage discussion is at

Rowan Scarborough discusses connections between drug trafficking and Al Qaeda in “Drug Money Sustains Al Qaeda: Cutoff needed to strangle cells,” in The Washington Times, Dec. 29, 2003. The article also discusses smuggling of cesium and strontium 90 through the former Soviet republic or Georgia, apparently intended for Al Qaeda to make a large dirty bomb.

The FBI issued a warning concerning reporting on suspicious behavior from people looking at almanacs.

In mid January 2004 the government went back down to Yellow, and is considering a more discrete notification system, which, after all, is mainly intended for law enforcement.

The current political debate over the future of Iraq emphasizes the tendency of many people of Muslim faith (both Sunni and Shiite) to believe that they must accept the decision of their elders without question (the “Presbyterian” concept) even though the Muslim faith does not have a formal organized body of elders the way the Catholic church does.

Footnote 11 on the book chapter (terrorism essay) mentions author Salman Rushdie, who has lived in Britain under tight security after threats by fundamentalists in Iran for his “blasphemy.” Very few writers have actually been intentionally targeted by terrorists or extremists in recent years outside of their own countries or in western countries. (Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan.) However, Tom Brokaw and Judith Miller (both prominent journalists) were targeted by the anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001. (I know of no cases in the United States in recent years where the family of a writer was targeted, although this has happened to judges.) The concern is that a “controversial” “target” author might be at risk and provide an indirect risk to others associated with him or her at work or even at a place of residence, but there is little evidence that this has happened so far. However, during the Revolutionary War eleven of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had their homes burned, according to the episode of “Jack and Bobby” on TheWB on 4/15/2005.

I have wondered if the “Rushdie” issue could pose an issue for landlords, who may have a diligence responsibility to protect tenants from credible threats, perhaps even if those threats are based on “irrationality.”  A credible source for mainstream discussion of landlord responsibilities in the terrorism age is provided by Friedman and Ranzenhofer at as well as and  Relevant concepts include the SDN and Blocked Person lists, as well as public records checks, eviction histories, and sex offender registries; Registry CrimSAFE and RegistrySCOREX (a kind of FICO score for tenants), RegistryCHECK, CrimCHECK; .

In early March 2006 a Denver public school social studies teacher and a student who audiotaped a controversial lecture placing a metaphor between the policies of President Bush and Adolf Hitler both received threats later, according to the media. This case was a major test of free speech in public schools but it also seems to test the concept of heckling.

The Washington Post, on Feb. 15, 2006, reports (Walter Pincus and Dan Eggen) reports “325000 names on Terrorism List: Rights Groups Say Database May Include Innocent People  The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) keeps the list and, unduplicated, the number of persons may be about 200000. It was not clear when this information can be used by businesses, employers and landlords in sensitive situations. Many people may be on the list incorrectly.

George Mason University in Fairfax, VA sponsored a town hall on the National Capital area’s preparedness for any future terrorist attack on February 24, 2004, and it was broadcast by PBS station WETA.

Gary North, in an article called “The Coming Implosion of the American Empire,” suggests that the Muslim world will be perceived as a threat also because of larger birth rates, and that Israel would have an incentive to strike Mecca and Medina and make them unusable. The link is

On March 11, 2004 up to ten separate bombs on four commuter trains in Madrid, Spain killed at least 192 and injured over 1400. It is unclear at this point whether the blasts are related to ETA (Basque separatism) or Al Qaeda (there have been some claims of the latter). I visited Bilbao and San Sebastian, Spain in April 2001 and saw absolutely no evidence of Basque tensions myself while there. I did see the ETA headquarters on a public square near my hotel in Bilbao.  Peter Ford of the Christian Science Monitor provides an interesting perspective in a discussion in late March 2004, at . 

On July 7, 2005 at least 38 persons were killed and scores injured seriously in at least three London Underground subway bombings and at least one double-decker bus bombing. These could have been perpetrated by suicide bombers, and if so would be the first suicide bombing in London’s history. (Later reports suggested remote timing devices, as in Madrid.) See major news services. While commuters are very edgy in major US cities, it is important to remember that transit systems are vital to the economic and cultural health of major cities for personal use in off-peak hours, too—particularly in an era of increasing fuel prices and possible future shortages.

There was a second attempted attack in London on July 21, and a major attack at a resort on the Red Sea in Egypt, Sharm El Sheik. There is some evidence of connections between these and of some direction by Al Qaeda.

On July 11, 2006 there was a series of coordinated explosions on trains in Bombay, India (Mumbai), many near the financial district, that killed at least 140 people. These appear to be related to a Kashmir separatist group and at least indirectly to Al Qaeda.

In October 2005 the Bush administration announced that it had prevented up to ten major terrorist attacks between 2002 and 2005. Surprisingly, despite all the increased airport security, some of these attacks would have involved flying hijacked planes into targets on the East and West coasts. Other plans included attacks on apartment or condominium buildings (possibly for their economic effect), and attacks on Americans overseas, as well as attacks on oil tankers in oil producing areas or in the Strait of Hormuz (near Iran).

On March 22, 2004 Israel, under orders of Sharon, assassinated the quadriplegic spiritual head of Hamas (The Islamic Resistance Movement) Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Hamas now threatens to retaliate against the United States as well as Israel. This could take place with suicide bombings here or with attempted economic boycotts (like trying to get oil producers to embargo). The United States and Israel deny that the United States knew about the attack. However, this would be Israel’s counterpart to our assassinating Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahri.


On April 2, 2004 Washington DC station WJLA (ABC) provided a report of the 2001 anthrax attacks: “Anthrax Attacks: Implications for U.S. Bioterrorism Preparedness: A Report on a National Forum on Biodefense,” by David Heyman with research assistants Jerusha Achterberg and Joelle Laszlo, circulated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, DTRA, April 2002. WJLA (search their site) provided this link: The FAS website is run by the Federation of American Scientists   DOD gave FAS permission to release the report (with some materials excised – see below) in April 2004. The IRP link is the Intelligence Resource Program. One should look at their terrorism page and at their anthrax page as well as nuclear weapons and dirty bombs.  

Some materials on the DTRA report are blotted out.   It is interesting here to review the article “Remember Anthrax: Despite the evidence, the FBI won’t let go of the ‘lone American’ theory,” by David Tell, in the 4/29/2002 The Weekly Standard, at

Also, check the CNN story on the “person of interest” Steven Hatfill (factually, this seems very questionable) at  The Justice Department settled with Hatfill in June 2008, paying out about $6 million.

For more about the new book by Richard A. Clarke Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror visit this link.  Clarke’s testimony, which some administration officials feel is one gigantic canard, is controversial. The website for the 9-11 commission, where Dr. Condoleezza Rice testifies on Apr. 8, is

Her testimony (p.d.) appears at  The Presidential Daily Briefing “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S. (edited for security and then declassified by the White House on 4/10/2004, and now p.d.) appears at this link (or, on this site, this alternate link).

ABC “Nightline” carried a sobering report of the federal government’s “Armageddon Project” on Wednesday, April 7, 2004. Besides the week-long dress rehearsals for staff members (living in tent cities in the desert, missing meals), the program frankly related that a major “unthinkable” catastrophic attack resulting in tremendous loss of life and damage (like a nuclear war or multiple nuclear blasts) would result in the declaration of martial law throughout the country, particularly if no quorum for Congress was available. Kenneth Duberstein, White House Chief of Staff, was specific on this issue when pressured by Ted Koppel. I am not sure what the Constitution or case law says about this, but “fundamental rights” as we know them (which are in a sense secured by the rule of law) would be suspended. In such an environment, someone like me, whose life is predicated on self-direction, would have little purpose or value. I wonder what happens to accumulated savings or wealth and fiat money in such a scenario—and maybe science fiction or horror scenarios where society is reduced to a moneyless system or “merit” or street smarts makes sense. (This happens in my Baltimore Is Missing screenplay contest entry.) This is one of the subtle dirty little arguments for “family values.” I am not aware that martial law was declared anywhere on September 11, 2001, although most of the Project went into operation, with geographical separation of critical people to prevent decapitation of government. This was a shocking and disturbing program.

For more on how a martial law environment might work, visit Sianews-Friends of Liberty/ FEMA Concentration Camps – Locations and Executive Orders--

It is not clear that these provisions to suspend constitutional liberties are really “legal.”

Jonathan Krim provides an article “A Need for Greater Cybersecurity: Report Urges CEOs to Safeguard Computer Networks from Attacks” in which a task force suggests that cybersecurity be an audit requirement for public companies and perhaps most other entities doing commerce or publishing on the Internet. The Washington Post, April 12, 2004, p. A2.

My own comment on 9-11 hearings (4/15/2004):

Having gone through drug tests and fingerprints for some recent employment applications, I have seen how various enforcement agencies can communicate and share information in automated fashion, once there is any information of record (like an arrest) of any individual.  On the other hand, I have also been expected to collect my own BI information from police in places where I have lived!  Why, then, were authorities unable to prevent attacks like 9-11 and Madrid, or the incident in the Russian opera house? One comment in the 9-11 hearings concerns the poor automation of information sharing among agencies with out-of-date computer systems, yet I have seen examples of modern data sharing myself. More of the problem concerns our open society. Most information is kept private to protect individuals until there is a specific need-to-know. The alternative is racial or ethnic profiling, or denial of employment or of air travel (CAPPS) access just because of the contextual appearance of someone’s activities. There is no easy answer. Socialization is part of the equation. A secretive or aloof person is more likely to draw suspicion (especially for future sexual abuse) for any remark or activity than a person with open family and community participation—and this gets back to the debate about marriage (including gay marriage).  On the other hand, we know from social research that some terrorists are motivated by fear of reprisal from families or religious peers in their cultures of origin. Are we headed toward a world depicted by the 2002 film Minority Report?

Herbert Romerstein weighs in with the op-ed “Why we could not connect the dots,” The Washington Times, Apr. 18, 2004. He talks about the inability of the FBI to act on tips (like Middle Eastern students behaving strangely on flying lessons) because of FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or 1979. This law would have hindered the ability of the FBI, CIA, and other agencies to share information across their “Chinese walls.” There may have also been natural bureaucratic competition and turf protection; organizational politics and “people skills” expect employees to cajole and march in step, not to speak up with asymmetric views. Sometimes individuals are more nimble in this area than are agencies or organizations. Connecting the dots involves more than writing shell scripts to pass XML data among agencies. It involves imagination, the kind of a sense of beat, for what make people tick and drives action that literary agents and Hollywood coverage companies look for in novel and screenplay manuscripts.

There is an essay on the Patriot Act at this site, at this link.

Joby Warrick, The Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2003 “Dirty Bomb Warheads Disappear: Stocks of Soviet-Era Arms For Sale on Black Market” gives a chilling account Alazan warheads found in a remote area, the Transdneister Moldovan Republic.


There has been a lot of speculation about Al Qaeda switching to “soft targets,” as with the Bali, Indonesia bombing in 2002. Palestinian terrorists of course aim mainly at Israeli civilians in ordinary locations. Are shopping malls, trains, subways, and public celebrations more tempting? They would seem to be inviting if attacking them created the impression that we could not defend ourselves and go about our lives, or if terrorists blamed ordinary Americans as “infidels” or as beneficiaries of “tainted fruits.” In the 1970s the gay community was sometimes the target of arson attacks on crowded bars, and I have been personally concerned that it could become a target (especially since the prisoner abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib in Iraq). Likewise domestic terrorists (Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber) have attacked undefended and soft targets. At the same time, there is plenty of intelligence evidence that Al Qaeda still is obsessed with large, well fortified targets of political, economic or symbolic value. Read “Gone Soft? Al Qaeda Plans of Attack” in the National Review, Oct. 16, 2003, at  This would be a sensitive issue for secondary school socials studies classes, as many students have grown up in a world that is more secure and are not used to the idea that freedom must be defended and can be lost.

In June 2004 Al Qaeda terrorists decapitated an American engineer Paul M. Johnson, Jr., an event which led to increased calls for American workers to leave Saudi Arabia. It is not clear what effect this would have on oil production, because obviously Saudi Arabia has a large source of underemployed men who could fill well-paid positions in oil production (with training). There have been some specific threats regarding oil pipe lines and tankers, and the blowing up of two pipe lines in Iraq near Basra in mid June may have been related to these threats.

Chechen separatists, associated with radical Islam and possibly Al Qaeda, attacked a school in Beslan, in southern Russia, in early September 2004, taking children and teens as hostages, resulting in over 150 deaths of students and nearly that many adults. William Rusher speculates whether that could happen here in an op-ed “School Terror Here?: If an event such as the one at Beslan occurs in the United States, it will remind us, as nothing else can, of the nature of the evil we face,” The Washington Times, p/ A20, Sept. 16, 2004. “The terrorists who organized and spread across the world in recent decades are the radical fringe of Islam, and they are fueled be despair…But their faith is strong, and they believe that its name can make world dominion simply unendurable for the West.”  ABC News reported (on October 7, 2004), that the Army had retrieved floor plans for schools in Georgia, Florida, California, Michigan and New Jersey from insurgent camps in Iraq in July 2004. This information is seen as more provocative since the Beslan attacks. It is not clear whether the insurgents were either former Saddam “loyalists” or Al Qaeda operatives.

There was apparently a near-miss of an airline leaving from LAX with a “hobby missile”, fired from a hand-held device, in early 2006. Israel protects its airliners with missile defense systems, and doing so for airlines in the US would cost $1 million per plane at least. This was reported on ABC WNT on March 27, 2006.

In July 2006 the government announced that it had broken up an Al Qeada-linked plot to blow up tunnels linking New York City to New Jersey. Early reports claimed that there had been an intention to flood lower Manhattan’s financial district from the Holland Tunnel. Later reports mentioned the Path commuter train tunnels from New Jersey. It is unclear how far along this plot was or whether it could have really been catastrophic (it could not have flooded the financial district, which is above sea level, but it might have flooded some of the WTC site; and it might have started with (multiple) suicide bombers (ABC "World News Tonight" July 7 2006). It is unclear how many of the attackers (if any) were in the US yet; at least one arrest was in Lebanon, which could suggest ties to the Israel-Palesntine problems. The film Daylight (1996) with Sylvester Stallone has a bit of this scenario, although that starts when escaping criminals collide with a truck filled with explosives in a tunnel. John Updike’s novel Terrorist (2006) explores similar ideas.  Sources:

PUBLICATION OF BOOK by anonymous CIA employee: In late June 2004, the news media reported the publication of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism (Brassey’s, Aug. 2004). The author, in disguise, claims that the Osama bin Laden’s motives are geopolitical or geo-religious and not personal, such as the presence of American troops in Muslim holy lands, and the Palestinian conflict. Bib Laden’s focused determination is discussed. The author apparently predicts at least an attempted WMD attack within the continental United States soon. His attorney, Mark Zaid, discussed the legalities of a CIA employee’s publishing a book even with unclassified materials while still working there. My own view does not allow the idea that anonymity makes any difference; go to and  Some media reports suggest that the CIA really wanted this book published to increase public pressure for more funding (mainly from conservatives). There was another anonymous book published this way by Brassey’s in 2002; see my additional bibliography file.


So is the “purification” imminent? Although some of this sounds like a rehash of some material already on the site and in my 2002 “Do Ask Do Tell: When Liberty Is Stressed” book, I want to run through my own perspective on this again in light of the new alarms. Some of it is not comforting.

First, starting about July 2000 (14 months before 9-11), I have received a few communications (and at least one hacking/defacement) that may have been attempts to pass “information” to me. A site with provocative political and social content will, through the search engines, attract people who feel confronted by the kinds of things I say (or who feel that I express a hidden contempt for them), so this does not surprise me. I do share incidents with the proper authorities, which may be my own ISP or may be the FBI itself. ISPs like AOL have regular procedures for processing threats or disturbing information received by their customers.

The government reports that Al Qaeda has grown to about 18000 people worldwide, many individuals not in Arab countries. My own impression is that probably the number of operatives within the United States itself is likely very small, but in Europe (and particularly the most developed parts of East Asia) it may be considerably larger. Al Qaeda may have developed “hidden behind family” techniques (a concept I talk about in relation to family values) to increase infiltration. The FBI has named seven specific individuals, some of them American citizens converted to Islam, that it considers particularly likely to be associated with domestic terror plots, and published their likenesses. There is a danger that Al Qaeda could recruit disgruntled citizens, such as those getting out of prison (especially those with gang histories) to increase its manpower within the United States, but it is not clear that it could easily train new people to carry out horrific acts.

The relatively small size of any “sleeper cell” aggregate population within the United States would suggest that an epidemic of suicide bombings in public places like those encountered in Israel is still improbable here.

Therefore protecting the country would emphasize great vigilance with respect to immigration but especially with respect to freight cargo.

As to the specific WMD threats within our own borders, biological and chemical risks, as well as conventional airplane hijacking, may generally be overstated, but nuclear and radioactive threats (dirty bombs) seem to me to be potentially very grave. (A quirky possibility, as on “Jake 2.0,” is the high-altitude e-bomb blast from an insufficiently inspected, probably international, cargo plane; as on ABC “Threat Matrix” another would be a strike at a liquefied natural gas tanker, rather than a nuclear power plant.) Before 9/11/2001 only Tom Clancy had imagined a suicide attack on buildings with hijacked planes as missiles; now imagination is almost limitless. (Check, for example, novels by Vince Flynn.) Most biological and chemical weapons will disperse if released outside, and would need to be released in a confined space (which could be a railway car or an airport terminal) to be effective. Some scenarios (such as ABC “Nightline’s” 2001 claim that a bottle of anthrax spores thrown in front of a subway train could cause 50000 deaths in one week) sound greatly improbable in terms of actual event mechanics. Furthermore, our ability to respond to many biological threats (like smallpox) has greatly improved. Still, expensive steps like building anti-suicide panels in subway stations like those in London and Paris (installed well before 9-11) sound sensible.

The greatest WMD threat is certainly nuclear-related. The leakage of nuclear materials from many countries around the world (including the former Soviet Union) and possibly from supposedly secure facilities in the United States or Europe is the major risk. Some progressive commentators note that the United States and Russia still have nuclear arsenals pointed at one another, and that a massive exchange could happen by accident (creating a replay of the Cuban Missile crisis—remember the Norwegian rocket in early 1995—or the 1983 movie War Games), or after hackers sabotaged our weapons systems. If so, one wonders why NORAD and other related systems (or, for that matter, or power grid or emergency response system) can even be accessed from the Internet, but perhaps the speakers of this view fear hacking as an “inside job.” More serious is the possibility that North Korea (almost ignored by the Bush Administration) could lob a missile or sell nuclear weapons to terrorists. There are two or three major ways a major attack could happen. One would be to launch an actual (though “small”) nuclear weapon in a major city—terrorists may well have access to nuclear weapons (especially so-called “suitcase nukes”) now but thankfully not have the ability to detonate them. A second is to cause massive contamination of a major city with a large dirty bomb. A third, and maybe more likely method, is to cause minor physical contamination (but maybe casualties in a small space) with a smaller dirty bomb containing more easily stolen but less toxic contaminants, such as those used in hospitals.

Along these lines, the Energy Department is going to start a program to reclaim nuclear materials from various other countries that had acquired them as far back as the 1950s in the “atoms for peace” program, and place the materials under better security. This will take a long time.  

Before diverging into consequences here, one bifurcates what the terrorists hate the most. Is it our foreign policy, or is it our freedom? It is both. Their culture is like the retrovirus, and our foreign policy is like the opportunistic infection. Personally, I do not support any policy whereby one country or people can take away the land of others (especially without compensation) which seems to have happened with the Palestinians. If we condone this, we are “asking for it.” As for our policy in Iraq, I feel more ambiguous. I do not think the President should have launched it without more United Nations support. However, Saddam Hussein’s missing WMD’s may be like missing Martian life. Maybe he was smuggling weapons from the former Soviet Union and handing them off. If so, why doesn’t the Bush administration say so?

Our modern individualistic culture, where anyone is free to make himself outside of the normal constraint of obligation to faith and family, is piped through the media to Muslim countries, and is perceived by younger men as a kind of contempt for them, as they have built identities around their own notion of God and obedience to a patriarchal family. Conservatives have made a lot of gay liberation (such as public gay marriage ceremonies) being waived in front of their noses (especially in view of the prisoner abuse scandal), but radical Islam views the liberal American heterosexual family, where women can work and have social and political equality with men, as an affront too (Islam as a theology is a different matter entirely). In summary, radical Islam has been catalyzed by the indignant perception that our government follows our people in expressing an indifferent arrogance towards their culture and their world.

So what we have is a dangerous situation. People do not like to be made to feel shame or to publicly serve other people’s cultural agendas, and now in a world of global “asymmetry,” a single aggrieved individual or small group might do tremendous damage by acting on its own, without a state. I sense this idea of asymmetry from the “positive side” in that I can reach hundreds of thousands of readers through a search engine with no organization or money. But in our global interconnected world a single determined person (or small group) that is clever enough might do great harm. Asymmetry invokes “L’Hopital’s Rule,” an idea of indeterminateness in mathematics – unmeasurable risk and unmeasurable consequences – solved by relativism.

Indeed, it is the modern “democratic capitalistic” world that offers the stability and infrastructure that lets individuals structure their own lives. Now this may go too far, as society becomes overly competitive, and people lose a sense of obligation to others. It used to be that you dedicated yourself to blood family and community before you earned the right to be respected for yourself. And you were expected to share in sacrifice. All of this bore on my mind as I wrote about both the draft and military gay ban. I love to see young adults become successful before the age of 20, and yet sometimes this seems to happen with no real sense of service obligation to the world that was given to the person.  Warner Brothers offers an essay “Ephram’s fatal flaw” based on its precocious teenage character in Everwood, with the flaw being “inability to change.” But maybe the real flaw is “failure to pay one’s dues.” This also tracks back to what professor David Callahan (in his book) calls our “Cheating Culture” where individual rewards become even more contemptuous and exploitative of others in the world when they are not earned honestly.

That brings me back to the particular peril we face now. No one can take freedom and stability for granted without being able to work to keep it. A small attack would allow authorities to rationalize, that the long-term health risk (from radiation) is acceptable after all. (Although that idea hasn’t worked before. Remember Times Beach, Mo?) And, to be objective, it is true that the government seems particularly focused now on a small list of suspects that announced on May 26, and a small focused list may suggest that a very large attack is less likely than the government made it sound in its announcement. But, what happens if there really occurs a catastrophic attack? Given the scale of damage and the inability of authorities the prevent a repeat of such an attack, financial collapse and martial law sound like very real possibilities. Individuals who lost property to contamination might not be compensated, just as many other financial obligations that provide stability could fail. Breaking our system could provide a motive for such an attack, even by a very small, determined group, and it is not clear how we would meet it. We do have emergency plans for continuance of government (through martial law), but many lives would be ruined. There is no way the enormous losses from a large nuclear or radiological incident could be recouped for individuals with the ordinary legal and financial system. People like me who had not invested in family would not have a place in such a world, say, once the nuclear threshold was crossed. People would be thrown back to living for family, “faith” and clan only, yet some people, I fear, see this as a morally desirable result. One could argue that a society that places lower value on family may have less incentive to keep going or rebuild itself if unavoidable hardship forces sacrifices, and this itself becomes a security concern.

What can we do about this? I don’t know, but we certainly should not take freedom for granted as a birthright. We have become complacent and forgotten how to pay our dues. We are vulnerable as a result.

Readers should check out The New York Times editorial “A Real Nuclear Danger,” May 28, 2004.

The government reiterated this warning on July 8, 2004, and mentioned specific concerns about both political conventions and the elections in November 2004. The government has announced it is looking at the contingency of postponing the general election if there were to be a “code red” threat right before the election.


There was a bizarre sequence of events in August 2004 that points to a possible threat against the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at Annapolis, Md. A female passenger was seen videotaping the bridge by off-duty Baltimore police officers, who phoned Maryland Transportation Authority Police who stopped the car on Route 50 near Annapolis. The tapes were seized and the driver was held as a material witness in connection with possible money laundering for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. But what is bizarre is that the video taping attracted police attention in the first place. Generally, it is not a crime to photograph public buildings or structures from publicly-owned property (unless it is clear that the intention is to pass information on to terrorists or to anyone planning a crime). See the story by Erich Rich and Jerry Markden, “Va. Man Tied to Hamas Held as Witness,” The Washington Post, Aug. 25, 2004.

(Forward News Blog)

A bioterrorism scientist named by the government as a “person of interest” in the anthrax investigations sued the New York Times on July 14, 2004 over the anthrax columns in the paper (provided by journalist Nicholas Kristof). Story is at

On Sunday, August 1, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security announced a targeted Code Orange for certain private and public facilities in New York and Washington, expecting suicide attacks by truck bombs, probably in underground parking garages, or possibly biological or chemical attacks on ventilation systems. Recently there has been specific intelligence, apparently largely from overseas, pointing to such attacks, with details as to pedestrian traffic at various locations. The intelligence may relate to illegal aliens crossing from Mexico (or Canada). Even with Canada, in western provinces there are unmonitored private gravel roads that cross borders (I had driven some of them back in 1998) so presumably these will be closed off, or at least they should be. So far the specific institutions are the NYSE and Citibank (New York), Prudential (Newark, New Jersey – this company had undergone tremendous I.T. restructuring and downsizing in 1999 when I was living in Minneapolis), the World Bank and the IMF. It should be expected that other institutions (especially in other cities) will be added to the list, or that nearby soft targets would become vulnerable as these facilities are hardened. Some of the information goes back to 2000, but some seems current as on early 2004 and is quite chilling in detail, and envisions ideas like casing targets by helicopter in order to dump chemical or biological weapons down ventilation shafts from the air, or attacks with bomb-laden limos or even scuba divers in harbors, as in James Bond movies. DHS did not mention specific intelligence about radiological dispersion devices. Citibank has been the target of email spoofing in phishing attacks (I have received such emails regarding my own credit card) and presumably this is unrelated, although that too should be checked. There have been domestic emails sent to some people purporting to have information about Osama bin Laden, although these might well be hoaxes. Here is the AP story.

Much of this intelligence came from Al Qaeda computers and hard drives captured in Pakistan. See Alan Cullison, “Inside Al-Qaeda’s Hard Drive: A fortuitous discovery reveals budget squabbles, baby pictures, office rivalries—and the path to 9/11,” The Atlantic, Sept. 2004, p. 55.  Cullison believes that 9-11 was motivated by Osma bin Laden’s intention to force the United States to reply militarily and anger the Arab world into revolt.

Street Sense Notes (Impersonation of Panhandlers)

In some cities there are gay clubs and discos in stressed neighborhoods, and patrons often attract panhandlers on the way to these clubs. Sometimes the panhandlers try to extort money to “protect” parked cars. In some cases drug traffickers or, now, terrorists connecting to pass information or weapons may pose as panhandlers in these neighborhoods. Police departments in affected cities should monitor this possibility with undercover officers. In Washington DC, where there are several large clubs near South Capitol street near M and L streets, I have observed such activity near M street (during the summer of 2004). There are some Naval military installations and supporting defense contractors also located in the general area.

Cold Fusion

Jim Wilson (illus. Edwin Hender) provides an article “Dangerous Science: Maligned and Ridiculed, Cold Fusion Gains Respect as a Cheap Way to Produce Nuclear Weapons,” in the August 2004, p. 75 Popular Mechanics. Wilson speculates that terrorists could eventually make tactical nuclear weapons with ordinary materials. The government is interested in cold fusion as a way to replace a lot of the degraded tritium in nuclear weapons, but this would also make it easier to detonate stolen suitcase nukes. Recall that one week before 9/11 Popular Science had produced a grim article warning that terrorists could detonate high-altitude e-bombs.

Michael Hirsh and John Barry provide an article, “Madmen, Rogues and Nukes: Biggest Threat: Bush and Kerry Agree on their Worst Nightmare: Nukes in the Hands of Terrorists; So Who Can Best Prevent It?”  Newsweek, Oct. 11, 2004. Kerry is promising that all the loose nuke in the former Soviet Union could be accounted for in 4 years.


Steven Stalinsky provides a commentary that suggests that militants in Iran are also planning terrorist attacks on America.

“A report on May 28 in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that an Iranian intelligence unit has established a center called "The Brigades of the Shahids of the Global Islamic Awakening."The paper claimed that it had obtained a tape with a speech by Hassan Abbassi, a Revolutionary Guards intelligence theoretician who teaches at Al-Hussein University. In the tape, Mr. Abbassi spoke of Tehran's secret plans, which include "a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization." In order to accomplish this, he explained, "There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them."

The link is

There is also a significant risk that Iran might reduce oil exports (Neil Henderson and Justin Blum, Washington Post Aug. 20., 2004, “Oil Shock”.

It is also obvious that North Korea would have the motive to sell nuclear materials to terrorists.

Saudi Arabia is in particular jeopardy now

On October 15, 2004 ABC “20/20” presented a particularly damning report about the Saudi royal family, with reports on the conduct of a minority of the 5000 Saudi princes who go to Europe to indulge in drugs and prostitution (both male and female, sometimes with minors). The report presented the deteriorating economic circumstances for average Saudis, despite high oil prices (30 years ago it seems the Saudis did much more to take care of the population, after the 1970s oil shocks). Of course, all of this make a figure like Osama bin Laden more “attractive” to young Saudi men and a motive to recruit terrorists. The report makes the current regime look even more unstable. Urban Saudi Arabia, away from the shrines of Mecca and Medina, is a bizarre place, looking like Phoenix but with very strict public religious practices. When you consider the recent rise of oil prices, with problems recently in Venezuela and Nigeria (the problems in the Gulf of Mexico after the hurricanes are short-term), it would seem that the West is particularly vulnerable to a new oil shock at any time, way beyond the current price spike.  It is not clear how well defended Saudi oil facilities, pipelines and tankers in the Gulf area are, but I am aware of some specific threats, at least one of which was sent to me in June and which I shared with law enforcement here. A regime overthrow by fundamentalists would risk a new embargo, or even a “sacrificial” destruction of oil fields by religious zealots who believe they are making some kind of moral point. It does not help that Americans are perceived as using the “tainted fruits” of the behavior of some members of the Saudi royal family.

  1. On December 16, 2004 Osama bin Laden apparently posted an audio file on the Internet urging Al Qaeda insurgents to destroy oil facilities in the Persian Gulf region and to depose the current regime in Saudi Arabia.  He accused Americans of stealing oil from Muslim lands, and claimed that oil from these lands should sell for over $100 per barrel. The AP story, leading to links to the file, is at
  2. Another AP story is  (Dec 19, 2004), where Al Qaeda threatens to strike Saudi oil facilities in the very near term. There were also specific threats against oil tankers in the region late last Spring. Other writers (Dagna Linzer, abover) have noted that oil tankers can shield nuclear raw materials like HEU uranium. 


In October 2005 some experts predicted that Iraq-style insurgents in Saudi Arabia would soon start attacking oil pipe lines within the Kingdom (as has been done in Iraq), particularly to take advantage of the reduction of crude oil (and refinery) production in the United States after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Vanity Fair

David Wise, Ned Zeman, David Rose and Bryan Burrough provide a chilling account “The Path to 9/11: Lost Warnings and Fata; Errors” in the November 2004 Vanity Fair, p. 326. David Wise also provides an analysis of VP Dick Cheney’s decisions (esp. regarding Flight 93) in “Cheney in Charge” on p. 338.

Marriage and terrorist immigration

ABC “Primetime Live,” on Dec. 23, 2004 presented the chilling story of Saraah Olson (Sarah Olson), who was courted in 1992 by Egyptian Hisham Diab, and married him, then helped him get into the country, only to find gradually that he was a terrorist, working with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The story certainly shows the Achilles heel of using marriage, as the ultimate “sanctified” social institution, to justify so much. Diab would help organize a sleeper cell in their Anaheim, CA apartment, that would recruit Adam Gadahm, now a terrorist in Afghanistan, and would serve dinner to Adel Rahman, architect of the first World Trade Center bombing in February 1993. She would also help set up “Charity Without Borders” only to be shut down after the 9/11 attacks. The ABC News story reference is at

The FBI has, in early 2005, indicated that a $170 million case management communication computer system may be inadequate in connecting the dots. But then again, sometimes only alert human beings (even ordinary citizens) can connect the dots.

A PBS Frontline story 1/26/2005 discussed a radical form of Islam called Salafi Islam. “The Salafiyyah movement, is primarily confirmed to the Hanbali, and in particular the Wahhabiyyah, and their theological equivalents. The Salafiyyah movement to return Islam to it's purest roots.”

Threat to Gay Community

In London, UK Gay leaders have received threats of bombing of gay bars and dance venues from Muslim fundamentalists, according to a story by Malcolm Thornberry, European Bureau chief for  The story is at     The story recommended security checks of patrons entering bars or dance halls or events.  There have been occasional acts of arson in the United States at gay bars ever since the 1970s, including a fire in New Orleans in 1973 that killed or maimed many patrons. There was plot to bomb a bar in Seattle around 2001 (  or ) that was broken up.  Olympic Park terrorist Eric Rudolph was convicted of bombing a gay bar in Atlanta in 1997:

Christopher Lisotta, “Radical Islam in your Backyard,” reports about increasing gay bashings and hostility in various neighborhoods with radical Islamic populations in Europe and sometimes in the United States, posing law enforcement dilemmas for police. Washington Blade editor Chris Crain was assaulted in Amsterdam. The Advocate, May 23, 2006. Many Islamic countries (such as Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia) vigorously entrap and persecute homosexuals. This issue of The Advocate has a sidebar “Iran’s Solution for Gays” about torture of gays by police in Iran. Persons should consider this carefully before traveling to such countries. This could be an issue if a person’s employment would require business travel to these countries. Or it could be a problem if a person were publicly known, especially through websites accessible from these countries—a person could be identified by Google, arrested and imprisoned and not allowed to return home.



On November 12, 2005 CBS “60 Minutes” presented a segment on ecoterrorists: the ELF, or Earth Liberation Front, and the Animal Liberation Front. The ELF was responsible for a huge fire of an unfinished apartment complex outside San Diego, which could have burned occupied homes. This was a protest against urban sprawl. There has been arson against SUV’s and ski resorts.  There was an interview with Dr. Jerry Vlasak who indirectly defended violence to protect animal rights.


There has been recent concern about purchases in large numbers of untraceable throwaway cell phones, which were used to start the Madrid attacks. Apparently there was a large purchase in Midland, TX, an odd place (Midland-Odessa is an oil producing region featured in the films “Waltz Across Texas” and “Friday Night Lights”; the oil well rescue in 1987 occurred in Midland.




On Jan. 19, 2005 Al-Jazeera released an audiotape of Osama bin Laden talking and threatening more large domestic attacks similar to those in Europe (the most obvious reference is to trains and subways and possibly ground suicide attacks). It is not certain that the voice is from Osama bin Laden. The content is not new, and seems to be a response to CIA strikes in NW Pakistan on Jan 13, 2006. There is also apparently more threats to major European centers as well as to the American “heartland.” There is a quite explicit reference to terrorism in Iraq and its moving to the west and the US. Supposedly there is a “truce” offer. Bin Laden claims that a major attack(s) is well into preparation. You can watch for more specifics at


Numerous media reports on May 19, 2006 pointed out the fallacy of armed air marshal dress codes and procedures, that compromise their anonymity and could make it easier for terrorists to single them out. For example, The Washington Times Audrey Hudson, “Probe finds air marshals at risk,”  


The July 2006 issue of Discover is called “The Future of Terrorism” and discusses many topics. It downplays the threat of nuclear explosions (it takes about 1500 machined parts to make a crude device) and gives some confidence to the idea that Russians are containing the materials, but warns about the economic havoc of dirty bombs and the relative “ease” of finding the materials domestically. It also discusses the “Dark Web Project” at the University of Arizona, where writings from and communications among radical Islamic websites are collected, collated and analyzed. There is discussion of the notion of an “infectious idea.” There is even discussion of metal-eating viruses that could destroy infrastructure hardware.


HEZBOLLAH and LEBANON:  The “War” that started around July 12, 2006 when the terrorist organization captured 2 Israeli soldiers is well covered. Hezbollah (Shiite) (or spelled "Hizbollah") is well represented in Lebanon’s government, which is unable to control it, and which may be responsive to Iran, which might want to smuggle the two soldiers over to the soil of the oil producing state to produce an economic crisis. See review of the film “Islam: What the West Needs to Know.”  Thom Shanker has a an essay “A New Enemy Gains on the U.S.”, The New York Times, July 30, 2006, Section 4, where he discusses Hezbollah as the most advanced non-state network military organization that can undermine a hierarchal military (but why not say the same of Al Qaeda?)


MAJOR PLOT IN UK INVOLVING LIQUIDS ON AIRLINERS: On August 10, 2006, the Transportation Security Administration held an emergency press conference on all major television networks announcing new rules for domestic and international flights. The new rules prohibit the bringing on to the aircraft in carry-on bags any liquids or pastes. These items would include toothpaste, beverages, gels, hairspray, and probably nasal decongestant sprays. Some medications might be allowed with documentation (probably a prescription). The concern is that terrorists could bring on liquids on separate parties and mix them in the cabin to make explosives. The Ramzi Yousef "Bojinka" plot in 1995 to blow up several airliners over the Pacific involved this concept (the plot was broken by a fire in Yousef's Manila residence, apparently when he was experimenting). In the early morning hours of this day at least 24 persons were arrested in the United Kingdom in association with this plot, which was quite far along. The plot does appear to be directly connected to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The greatest risk may be with flights originating in London. The TSA has a press release at this link. Apparently screeners will have to hand search carry on bags for liquid or pasty items that machines could not detect. There may be increasing concerns about other electronics, such as laptops. Passengers might have to prove that they work and have been fully charged if battery driven. This is still unclear. There is a lot of speculation about all of this, and the visitor is referred to a commercial news story for explicit details, such as On Aug. 21, 2006, NBC Nightly News reported that up to ten of the suspects had been formally charged in Britain, at that at least one had engaged already in preparatory ritual body shaving.

The British plot reminds us that, as with 9/11 itself, ordinary objects can be fashioned into unusual weapons. This idea is well known from the movies (even back to the 1940s, as with some Hitchcock films). Much post 9/11 attention has been focused upon WMD's and weaponizing substances that would he very difficult for "ordinary" terrorists to procure. Films and Internet speech about WMDs may have the benefit of informing the public and politicians (as about nuclear materials loose in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and around the world) without providing practical executable "ideas" to people with bad intentions. Free flowing speech about how to weaponize ordinary objects, which is common on the Internet, could have conceivable consequences of (in a legal sense) "enticing" others to act. So far in the United States (much less so in Britain and Europe) the First Amendment has tended to protect such speech (although there has been some "successful" litigation against writers and speakers, like the Paladin Hit Man novel that was followed as an assassination manual in the early 1990s); we would be concerned about the trends in the future as the public ponders plots such as this one in Britain, using ordinary materials. I do not knowingly or intentionally provide explicit details on how to weaponize items, although I have certainly mentioned movies and books that may have done so. The Aug. 11 The New York Times, p. A8, an article by Kenneth Chang and William J. Broad provides a detailed discussion of TATP ("the Mother of Satan") and how the explosive could have worked.

Around Jan 31, 2007 the AP reported that British police had arrested 9 in a plot to kidnap a British Muslim soldier, decapitate him and post the picture on the Internet.



In September 2006 there was a disturbing report in The Washington Times about health problems of federal air marshals, who have often been terminated. The details are at this blogspot link (mine).  Grad student Christopher Soghoian was questioned by the FBI and his computer confiscated after he posted a utility to create fake airline boarding passes; details are on this blogspot link (again mine).


On Dec 1, 2006, major media sources reported that Homeland Security was assigning individual travelers “terror scores”. Blogspot entry.


On Feb. 26, 2007 Fox 5 in Washington (in its main 10 PM news broadcast, one hour earlier than other network stations in the area) reported on a feared plot to attack New York City bridges and tunnels by Iran Shiite extremists (not Al Qaeda).  I recall the radio talk show outrage after the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985, with the hijackers being called “chicken Shiite terrorists” by radio commentators in San Francisco while I was on vacation, summary here.


Fox 5 News in Washington DC reported (on Feb 26 2007, in the 11 PM supplemental “News Edge”) mailed postal threats from a potential copycat Unabomber calling himself “The Bishop” and instructing certain companies to move their stock ticker prices to the triple six number in the Bible.


CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 (on Feb. 20, 2007) presents an interview with author Stephen Flynn, who discusses his book with documentary narratives of several potential disaster scenarios, described at this blogger link. The terror scenarios include a truck bomb attack on the Sunoco oil refinery near Citizen’s Bank Park during a Phillies baseball game in Philadelphia, with the release of hydrogen fluoride gas in a “Black Sunday” scenario; this attack is preventable if Sunoco changes the chemical processes in the refinery not to use HF. Another scenario is an sea attack on an LNG (liquefied natural gas) tanker in Boston’s Mystic River harbor (Baltimore harbor and Long Beach CA, as well as northern New Jersey, would have similar exposures). Another is an attack on the power grid, or on the levees in central California. Some of these could occur naturally. Flynn denies that discussing these publicly “gives people ideas” as they are already well known, and imagination and public pressure will force preventive measures.


Another part of that CNN segment presented the statistical arguments that small terrorist attacks around the world have increased since the US invaded Iraq, defusing the theory that the US was tying terror groups down into defense.


On March 14, 2007, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, arrested in 2003, confessed to masterminding the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.
Here is the link for the transcript of his confession (PDF).
Here is the link for the CNN news story itself.




On Monday April 16, 2007, a lone gunman killed at least thirty people and wounded many more on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, VA. The lone gunman appears to be dead, possibly from suicide or law enforcement fire. Details are developing rapidly with major media outlets (and this will certainly include the ideological motives of the shooter, if any, as well as detailed narrative accounts), but this appears to be somewhat like the Columbine tragedy in Colorado in 1999. Blacksburg had a major incident with an escaped prisoner in August 2006. It appears that the perpetrator was a disgruntled student, but this is still preliminary as of Monday afternoon. A briefing on April 17 identified the perpetrator of the mass event in the classroom as Korean resident alien Cho Seung-Hui.  Story is here.  My blogger discussion is here.  Investigation is showing that he was an English major from Centreville, VA and that English professors had been concerned about his work in a creative writing assignment, screenplays that allegedly contained gratuitous violence and pedophilia, and apparently a bit of dreamcatching, the possibility that he was portraying himself as having a propensity to commit certain acts. (Later news: The scripts were called "Richard McBeef" and "Mr. Brownstone" and are very graphic.) He also had a temporary tattoo “Ismael Ax” (sometimes spelled Ismail; he used A Ishmael as the sender of the multimedia package to NBC before completing the tragedy). In 1966 there had been a similar incident at the University of Texas in Austin.




Ayman Al-Zawahiri released “into the wild” a 94-minute video “The Advice of One Concerned” in which he predicts the end of the West. There is a link on CNN July 4, 2007 on this:  which gives other links predicting the consequences of nuclear terrorism.  There is also a “Secrets of Survival” website (Biblical in nature) that gives references to Chicago, New York Times, LA and Washington newspaper stories about covert government preparations for nuclear terrorism. Link:  There is a blogger entry here.


On July 11, 2007 Brian Ross, Richard Esposito and Chris Isham reported “White House, FBI Race to Disrupt ‘Summer of 07’ Threat” following increased Internet chatter overseas from Al Qaeda connections, broadcasts from Zawahiri, and anecdotal evidence of a sleeper cell in or on the way to the US. The link is here. Bin Laden is still believed to be sheltered in the tribal areas of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, but he could have escaped through Karachi on the Indian Ocean through heavy contacts in the port city. A related story (by Maddy Sauer, ABC) is Michael Chertoff’s “Gut feeling” comment, here.  The Brian Ross “Investigative Team” Blotter for reader tips is here.


On July 17, 2007 the government released the unclassified part of the National Intelligence Estimates (NIE), here:


On July 19, 2007 NBC Today show reported on a local judge in Montana who, on her own, poses as a jihadist on websites and plays a “to catch a terrorist” game. She have given the government locations of units on the Pakastani-Afghan border. Apparently she did this on her own. CNN has a transcript on it here. She says she carries a gun to protect herself. I have, I believe, attracted at least four tips since 2001 myself.


ABC News Brian Ross Blotter: Exclusive: U.S. Studying Two Dozen Clusters of Possible Homegrown Terrorists:   NYPD is claiming that 9/11, with persons from abroad, was an aberration; homegrown clusters are more dangerous, although this conflicts with other stories comparing the US with Britain and Europe, where Muslim populations are much less assimilated.


Sept. 5, 2007: Major media sources report the arrest of at least three men (two native Germans who had converted to radical Islam) in Germany, planning an attack on American military bases and on soft targets. The men were arrested after a sting in which they tried to purchases what they thought was hydrogen peroxide, but they had been under surveillance since January 2007.


Oct. 25, 2007. USA Today reports “U.S. Lacks Labs to Test for ‘Dirty Bomb’ Contamination” here.


Dec. 2007  Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto assassination in Pakistan. Here.  See Oct 2007 entries on blog for earlier attempts.


March 1, 2008.  Here is a major AP story on the ricin incident in Las Vegas.


On March 4, 2008 NBC released a Department of Homeland Security Mass Transit Threat Assessment, here  (PDF). NBC story by Jim Popkin, here.


On March 6, 2008, a small explosive went off at the Times Square military recruiting office in New York. Media reports indicate that Congressional Democrats have received letters mailed Feb. 28, 2008 with manifesto-like rants about the war in Iraq. However it is unclear that this is related to the incident yet. Here is the NBC4 link; there will be many of them on media sites. Here is CNN’s. The incident may be related to an earlier incident in February at the Canadian border, where now passports are required.


Also, the Pentagon has banned Google Earth from making street-level video maps at military bases; story. 


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