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Tilting at Windmills

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August 17, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BINARY EXPLOSIVES....Here's what Time had to say last week about the mechanics of the airline bombing plot:

Their plan was to smuggle the peroxide-based liquid explosive TATP and detonators onto nine different planes from four carriers....

[According to the FBI,] "TATP was popularized as a main charge explosive in suicide bombs used by Palestinian terrorist groups." Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted in 1996 for plotting to simultaneously bomb up to a dozen U.S. commercial airliners flying in the Far East, had manufactured TATP detonators....More recently, British shoe bomber Richard Reid tried to detonate his device with TATP as the initiator.

In other words, TATP is dangerous stuff. But the airline bombers weren't planning to take TATP aboard their flights. They were planning to take its liquid precursors on board and then mix them together while the plane was in the air. That's why we're not allowed to pack gels or liquids in our carry-on bags anymore.

So: just how easy is it to mix up those precursors and blow up a plane? The Register's Thomas Greene provides would-be terrorists with their marching orders:

Don't forget to bring several frozen gel-packs (preferably in a Styrofoam chiller deceptively marked "perishable foods"), a thermometer, a large beaker, a stirring rod, and a medicine dropper. You're going to need them.

It's best to fly first class and order Champagne. The bucket full of ice water, which the airline ought to supply, might possibly be adequate especially if you have those cold gel-packs handy to supplement the ice, and the Styrofoam chiller handy for insulation to get you through the cookery without starting a fire in the lavvie.

Once the plane is over the ocean, very discreetly bring all of your gear into the toilet. You might need to make several trips to avoid drawing attention. Once your kit is in place, put a beaker containing the peroxide / acetone mixture into the ice water bath (Champagne bucket), and start adding the acid, drop by drop, while stirring constantly. Watch the reaction temperature carefully. The mixture will heat, and if it gets too hot, you'll end up with a weak explosive. In fact, if it gets really hot, you'll get a premature explosion possibly sufficient to kill you, but probably no one else.

After a few hours assuming, by some miracle, that the fumes haven't overcome you or alerted passengers or the flight crew to your activities you'll have a quantity of TATP with which to carry out your mission. Now all you need to do is dry it for an hour or two.

The genius of this scheme is that TATP is relatively easy to detonate. But you must make enough of it to crash the plane, and you must make it with care to assure potency. One needs quality stuff to commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale," as Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson put it. While it's true that a slapdash concoction will explode, it's unlikely to do more than blow out a few windows. At best, an infidel or two might be killed by the blast, and one or two others by flying debris as the cabin suddenly depressurizes, but that's about all you're likely to manage under the most favorable conditions possible.

There's more at the link. The good news is that it will make you feel a little more confident about the safety of flying overseas. The bad news is that it will make you feel a little less confident about the terror announcements of our national governments. Caveat emptor.

Kevin Drum 2:18 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (141)

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Comments

Yep,

Mixing high grade explosives on the fly...that and other male fantasies, brought to you by your radical religious nuts...in three flavors...Muslim, Jewish and our local flavor Christian.

Posted by: S Brennan on August 17, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

You mean there really wasn't a serious terror threat from these bozos? No way! It's like the Bush Administration uses these so-called threats for purely political stunts. Shocking, absolutely shocking!

Does this mean the War on Liquids is over?

Posted by: kidkostar on August 17, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

That sounds about as easy as spreading democracy in the Middle East.

Posted by: keith G on August 17, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Being less confident in our government's ability to use fear to intimidate the masses should be regarded as a benefit.

Posted by: Hostile on August 17, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

So, Kevin, are your "marching orders" bash them when the catch terrorists before the plot and bash them when they don't?

Posted by: Augustus on August 17, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

The good news is that it will make you feel a little more confident about the safety of flying overseas.

I would be even more confident if there was a Muslim only check point line at airports. Then it would be easier to figure out which one of them are Islamofascists who are trying to blow up the plane and kill dozens of innocent passengers.

Posted by: Al on August 17, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, if a nuclear bomb can be made in six months anything is possible!

Posted by: elmo on August 17, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

That's bizarre, as 'BINARY' is the title of a paperback thriller I read some time ago, written by Michael Chrichton (Jurassic Park, Rising Sun) under the pseudonym of 'John Lange'. It was about federal agents on the pursuit of terrorists who plan to ignite a binary liquids bomb at a fictional Republican convention in San Fransisco. It was a good little suspense adventure thriller, but I didn't know how prescient Chricton was.

Posted by: Johnny Tremaine on August 17, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

That's bizarre, as 'BINARY' is the title of a paperback thriller I read some time ago, written by Michael Chrichton (Jurassic Park, Rising Sun) under the pseudonym of 'John Lange'. It was about federal agents on the pursuit of terrorists who plan to ignite a binary liquids bomb at a fictional Republican convention in San Fransisco. It was a good little suspense adventure thriller, but I didn't know how prescient Chricton was.

Posted by: Johnny Tremaine on August 17, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

That's bizarre, as 'BINARY' is the title of a paperback thriller I read some time ago, written by Michael Chrichton (Jurassic Park, Rising Sun) under the pseudonym of 'John Lange'. It was about federal agents on the pursuit of terrorists who plan to ignite a binary liquids bomb at a fictional Republican convention in San Fransisco. It was a good little suspense adventure thriller, but I didn't know how prescient Chricton was.

Posted by: Johnny Tremaine on August 17, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

MSNBC tells me that yesterday a flight from London to Washington was diverted to Boston because there was a woman having an anxiety attack; she wouldn't stop pacing the aisle "muttering about Pakistan".

Don't they *WANT* us all to be pacing the aisle muttering about Pakistan?

Posted by: Robert Earle on August 17, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for the triple posting. I got a wierd error message and pressed post a couple of times.
Kevin, can you delete 2 of the posts?

Posted by: Johnny Tremaine on August 17, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Given this explanation, it appears entirely likely the plane would have landed before the mixture was ready. Bush seems to have added a new definition to the word "imminent."

Posted by: tomeck on August 17, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Peroxide? Acetone? That stuff kicks up a stench worse than the GOP's bullshit. There's just no way these jokers could have smuggled acetone on board in a Starbuck's mug.

Posted by: Gregory on August 17, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

there was a woman having an anxiety attack; she wouldn't stop pacing the aisle "muttering about Pakistan

and then she dropped her pants and pissed on the floor.

Posted by: cleek on August 17, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yep.

This was linked in The Incredible Shrinking Bomb Plot thread. It is must reading -- better than the Wikipedia entries on acetone peroxide; it didn't state there was a sulphuric acid precursor, or that you had to mix the H2SO4 very carefully and keep it from heating up in order to make a truly blastworthy Mother of Satan ...

Yeah, they could do all that in an airplane loo -- just like they could cook up a quick batch of crystal meth, no doubt. But they could also toss a chunk a chunk of sodium into the toilet much easier, too ...

Now the question is how much play will this debunking get on Fox.

Heh. None at all.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 17, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Reading here and there that the Brits may not be able to prosecute these "terrorists" cuz our foot-stomping spoiled Preznit made them arrest the guys before they could even do a "dry run." In our law, that would maybe be the step a conspiracy needs to make it actually criminal.

These bozos will do ANYTHING to make political hay out of the War on Terra.

Posted by: Cal Gal on August 17, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

( guess i should include a link to the pissing on the floor part of that story )

Posted by: cleek on August 17, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't understand your point here, Kevin. You seem to be harping on the fact that this conspiracy seems to be more or less incompetent. But isn't it good that these guys were clowns? And planning an incompetent conspiracy to commit mass murder is just as illegal (if not as dangerous) as planning a competent one. Shouln't we be glad that these guys have been arrested, assuming the Brits can make a credible case for the charges?

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

At best, an infidel or two might be killed by the blast, and one or two others by flying debris as the cabin suddenly depressurizes, but that's about all you're likely to manage under the most favorable conditions possible.

I think an explosion of that magnitude, in the rear lavatory, could bring down the plane by disrupting the tail controls. I would not want to be on the plane where this proposition was tested.

Posted by: republicrat on August 17, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, deep in their lab at the South Pole, the evildoers are researching new methods of manufacturing binary explosives from Head & Shoulders Shampoo and Laplait Yogurt.

They already seem to have made a lot of progress with their Mentos and Diet Coke mixture.

Posted by: modus potus on August 17, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory -- they probably could have smuggled acetone on board in a nail-polish remover bottle.

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, if a nuclear bomb can be made in six months anything is possible!
Posted by: elmo on August 17, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, look for the busting of a terrorist cell in the US on Nov. 2, the plan being that the terrorists will steal the neutron source out of the xray airport machine, and the microwave oven from the galley, smuggle the components into the lavatory, and fashion a crude nuclear device, using plans downloaded from the internet.

They won't die from the radiation exposure, see, because they'll be detonating the device long before radiation sickness sets in.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 17, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Since oct 04 only the bush cultist, MSM outlets and morons take this adminstrations terror warnings seriously.

I guess morons is kind of redundant isn't it?

Posted by: klyde on August 17, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

mjk;

You know much about the chemistry of concentrated hydrogen peroxide?

Not that 3% stuff you wash your cuts and scrapes with.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 17, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

If the 9/11 conspirators had been apprehended before boarding the planes, everyone would be laughing at the Bush Administration for trying to make political hay from a bunch of losers armed only with boxcutters.

Eventually, someone will bring down an airplane with nine pounds of simple stuff that got sneaked onto the plane. Since we can not be perfect, we have to choose which errors we favor; I prefer that we always err on the side of caution. I flew the day after the plot was revealed, and the increased restrictions slowed me down less than a minute, if at all.

Just be glad that the conspirators were caught before even one person was killed.

Posted by: republicrat on August 17, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Could the morons stop talking about a "Muslims only" airport line? You don't mean "Muslims only", you mean "Muslims must use this line". The other line, then, would be "non-Muslims only". If you can't even say it right, you can't be coming up with much of an idea.

Posted by: DonBoy on August 17, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

rmk1 -- I know conc. H202 will oxidize the hell out of all sorts of stuff. Other than that, not specifically, no.

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

I remember, back in the good ol days, when the mobile weapons labs were discovered in Iraq. I thought anyone who had taken an undergraduate biology lab course would know that it would be very difficult to get a mundane experiment to work under such conditions. I could not imagine how someone could manufacture potent biological weapons in a truck with canvas sides in the desert. You wouldnt even have the electricity you would need. And anyway, why not put a lab in a building?

Just madness.

Given the past bamboozles and wanton overestimations, this comes as no surprise.

It is surprising that in order to defeat the Saudi box-cutter brigade that perpetrated 9/11 the Cheney administration chose to invade Saddam Husseins Iraq.

Posted by: bellumregio on August 17, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Torture of the kind practiced by the Pakistanis makes Orwell's 1984 depiction of torture desirable. Under this kind of physical torment anybody will say anything to stop it, including turning in your mother, wife, child, or any loved one. It should not be surprising that the numbers of predicted victims began to reach the hundreds of thousands, or that the Bush regime jumped on that number to publicize the plot. Those put under this kind of agonizing, never ending torture will make up bizarre stories in order to make the torture stop. We should be very wary of any confessions obtained through torture.

What is also disconcerting, is the way people automatically form single file lines and start dumping their possessions without any critical thinking or protest.

Posted by: Hostile on August 17, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

How do you deermine that some one is a muslim by looking at them. In fact every brown person who is not African would have to go through the line wouldn't they? what would you do about muslim from the caucusus or white converts, Asians, Asian Pacfic Islanders? Would there be criminal penalties for those folks who didn't declare themselves. And what about Arab Christians? I mean how can we be sure they are really christians? I wonder if I can get newsday to ask that foob peter king these questions.

Posted by: klyde on August 17, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

These guys wanted to kill people just like you and me. We are all glad they were apprehended. That is not the point of this post.

The point is that every minor threat is being dramatically overblown for political reasons. The villagers are getting pretty tired of the boy who cries wolf, and as we know from the fable, the real danger comes when that "boy" loses his credibility.

Posted by: Zac on August 17, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

30% Hydrogen peroxide and acetone could be smuggled onto a plane very easily in plastic bottles, and in multi-liter quantities.

The type of explosive mentioned probably could not be cooked up in the plane and in the time necessary to deploy, but that is not what should concern people about explosive/flammable organic liquids, all of which could be smuggled onto planes in plastic bottles, at least before the plot was uncovered.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 17, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

mhr:

That it does. There's also no supplier for concentrations in excess of 30 or 40%, so you have to make your own. (There are, though, applications. Model rocketeers like to use H202 as a self-oxidizing monopropellant). But not only is concentrated H202 extremely caustic and difficult to handle (as you say, it oxidizes the hell out of things) -- it's also extremely dangerous to distill by boiling off the water. This is why you can tell the Palestinian explosive experts by their missing fingers and sometimes hands. To refine H202 safely, you can't just cook it up on a stove, you need a well-equipped chemistry lab. And you'd hardly be able to pour the concentrate into a beaker on an airplane without wearing gloves, as it would burn your skin on contact, and corrode through most plastics. The very idea of storing it in something like an energy drink bottle is extremely shady.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 17, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

You know much about the chemistry of concentrated hydrogen peroxide?
Posted by: rmck1 on August 17, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I do know that X-Prize entrant, John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace, chose concentrated hydrogen peroxide as their rocket fuel (because it's a very simple mechanism, all you do is pipe it through a platinum screen to catalyze the reaction).

One of the reasons they did not succeed is because the huge hit they took to their test schedule when concentrated hydrogen peroxide became nearly impossible to obtain in any significant quanity post-9/11.

I believe they eventually ended up trying to manufacture it themselves, which caused more expense and delay. As far as I know, they're still working on a commercial reusable suborbital spacecraft.

There was also a toymaker in Washington (widely assumed to be a crackpot) who was building a large peroxide-fueled rocket to launch himself, but had similar problems obtaining fuel and test-flight permits.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 17, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

What is truly pathetic is the security theater will continue.

One moron tries to set his gym shoes on fire and we have to take off our shoes three years later. So even if the chances of a successful liquid bomb are nil we will have fly liquid free.

And for the record, Semtex is solid and can't be detected in carry on luggage 'cause there are no explosive detectors there.

The Register story is a great one, by the way.

Posted by: Mark on August 17, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

So, just to review:

The alleged conspirators didn't have have the explosive precursors necessary for the alleged plot to go forward.

They didn't have any experience working with said precursors.

They didn't have tickets to get on the airplanes.

Some of them didn't have passports (necessary to board the international flights allegedly being targeted).

Now we also learn that:

In order to mix the precursors successfully, they'd need a pile of equipment (beakers, eyedroppers, thermometers, cold gel-packs, and a recently-filled ice-bucket) in addition to the precursors.

They'd also need to get all the above into the lavatory unnoticed.

They'd need to commandeer the lavatory for multiple hours as they carefully stirred their stuff together.

They'd need no one to notice the powerful stench this would produce, again for hours.

Given all the above, it was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to IMMEDIATELY turn all international and much domestic air traffic upside down, as multiple teams were on the verge of pulling off this plot simultaneously on multiple flights.

I'd rather have the real Keystone Kops running security. They'd take less salary and at least they'd be entertaining as they slipped on banana peels and goofed up everything.

Posted by: jimBOB on August 17, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey:

I'd think concentrated H2O2 would need to be stored in a Thermos, not a garden-variety plastic bottle.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 17, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

"To refine H202 safely, you can't just cook it up on a stove, you need a well-equipped chemistry lab"

--rmck1

I could safely refine H2O2 on my porch with a canister of dry air. I'm a chemist though, so I sort of know what I'm doing. You're right, you'd wouldn't want to boil off the water on the stove. This is how Abdull gets singed eybrows (and third-degree burns).

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I prefer that we always err on the side of caution.

If that meant avoiding killing innocent civilians with American gifted F-16's in Lebanon, not invading a country for no good reason and not having Marine snipers shoot ladies and children in the face in Fallujah, I would agree. But that is not what you meant, is it repubicrat? What you meant is incarcerate, torture and toss in the hole any suspects who are percieved as enemies who might hurt a hair on your head.

Posted by: Hostile on August 17, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I prefer that we always err on the side of caution

then we should immediately ban guns, knives, any vehicle which can go faster than 10mph, alcohol, and buildings taller than 10 feet.

Shorter GOP: we have nothing to offer but fear itself

Posted by: cleek on August 17, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't understand your point here, Kevin. You seem to be harping on the fact that this conspiracy seems to be more or less incompetent. But isn't it good that these guys were clowns? And planning an incompetent conspiracy to commit mass murder is just as illegal (if not as dangerous) as planning a competent one. Shouln't we be glad that these guys have been arrested, assuming the Brits can make a credible case for the charges? Posted by: mjk

Where have you, and way too many other people like you, been for the last four year or so? The point of this post and so many others is to expose and discuss the countless abuses of the threat of terror by the Bush administration. This is just one more example of crying wolf. The Bush adminstration can't be trusted to be honest about anything. At this point I would go outside and check just to be sure if Bush announced at a press conference that the sky was, indeed, still blue.

This doesn't mean that we shouldn't take the terror threat seriously. However, this is three for three now in about a month's time where a "plan" has been hyped well beyond the true level of the threat. It sounds like they could have sat on this group for easily a couple more months to see who got passports, who went shopping at chemical supply stores and the like. The Brits should be ashamed of themselves for being, once again, strong-armed into doing something stupid for the Bush administration.

Posted by: JeffII on August 17, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I bet this is how Jack Bauer gets out of that Chinese tanker!

Posted by: Martin on August 17, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

"I'd think concentrated H2O2 would need to be stored in a Thermos, not a garden-variety plastic bottle."

A plastic bottle would probably work as well as anything else. Fischer ships 50 percent H2O2 in a plastic bottle, if memory serves correctly. It says "stablized" though; I'm not sure how. In any case, if one is to bring unstablized conc H2O2 onto a plane in either a plastic bottle or a thermos, try hard not to drop it.

Posted by: rmck1 on August 17, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

mjk,
Where did Kevin complain about terrorists being arrested? What he did say was:

"The bad news is that it will make you feel a little less confident about the terror announcements of our national governments. "

How can you trust these bozos in charge when they disrupted so much air travel based on an impossible scheme cooked up by some clowns?

Posted by: DR on August 17, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

The type of explosive mentioned probably could not be cooked up in the plane and in the time necessary to deploy, but that is not what should concern people about explosive/flammable organic liquids, all of which could be smuggled onto planes in plastic bottles, at least before the plot was uncovered.
Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 17, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Never mind that.

A gallon of ordinary household bleach, coupled with a gallong of ordinary household ammonia could easily, and very quickly, KILL everyone (including the flight-crew) on large jetliner, when mixed, say, in the lavatory sink, by a release of Chlorine gas.

While it's possible that the flight-crew could respond in time to release the oxygen masks - their response is usually queued to cabin pressure drops. In a real situation, the response to a sudden release of large volumes of deadly chlorine gas might not be quick enough.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 17, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I meant to address that last post to rmck1, not post as rmck1. I apologize.

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

"The bad news is that it will make you feel a little less confident about the terror announcements of our national governments. "

Impossible.

Posted by: JRI on August 17, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

No, it is stored in plastic bottles (I have one 15 feet from me as I write). It is advisable to store it at temperatures less than 22 C, but it is not difficult to handle or transport.

There is a higher grade that I am aware of (50% in water) but I have no experience with it, however, I would expect is stored in a similar manner.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 17, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

mjk:

Not a problem; your email was still you :)

Stuff happens, as they say ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 17, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

"I'd think concentrated H2O2 would need to be stored in a Thermos, not a garden-variety plastic bottle."

A plastic bottle would probably work as well as anything else. Fischer ships 50 percent H2O2 in a plastic bottle, if memory serves correctly. It says "stablized" though; I'm not sure how. In any case, if one is to bring unstablized conc H2O2 onto a plane in either a plastic bottle or a thermos, try hard not to drop it.

This is the post I mistakenly posted as rcmk1. Sorry.

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

DR -- I didn't see Kevin complain about the terrorists being arrested, nor did I mean to imply that he was. I just don't see why he seems somewhat dissatisfied with breaking up this plot. Incompetent plotters or no, a busted terror cell is good news, right?

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

and then she dropped her pants and pissed on the floor.

No, that was GOP...and Al, Jay, mhr, rdw...

Posted by: ckelly on August 17, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm gonna keep repeating this - This story is contrived nonsense, designed to keep people fearful and complacent. The neoconservatives need to keep people distracted and afraid, so they don't notice how horribly they are governing and how their policies hurt the vast majority of the American people. You have more to worry about from mosquito bites (i.e. West Nile), than you do about al-Qaeda. Keep your eyes on what these criminals are doing to dismantle our civil liberties, not on some mythical Muslim bogeyman with a turban.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 17, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, did y'all hear they caught JonBenet's murderer?

Posted by: jonjon on August 17, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

JeffIII -- If the Brits were strong-armed by the US into moving in prematurely on the cell, then they should be ashamed. I haven't seen much credible evidence that's the case though. We have one unnamed british offical saying that the yanks wanted to move faster on the bust, but that's pretty much it. And even if that's true, it might be a mistake to assume the US wanted the cell busted early for political purposes. There's a risk/reward to this kind of thing. You can wait for more evidence, but unless you have an ironclad understaning of the plot, and all the players, it would be difficult to know when the "optimal" time to bust these guys would be.

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

This story is contrived nonsense, designed to keep people fearful and complacent.

What if this is true?

There is nothing that can be done about it.

The Blogs do not reach a wide enough audience, and the mainstream media has innoculated the public with "that's just extremist paranoid conspiracy theory stuff".

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 17, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile wrote:

"...and not having Marine snipers shoot ladies and children in the face in Fallujah..."

Hey, that's one I hadn't heard before. What's the substantiation for that charge, Hostile?

Posted by: Trashhauler on August 17, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, did y'all hear they caught JonBenet's murderer?
Posted by: jonjon on August 17, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad it didn't turn out to be Michael Jackson.

Now THAT would be news.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 17, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile wrote:

"...and not having Marine snipers shoot ladies and children in the face in Fallujah..."

Hey, that's one I hadn't heard before. What's the substantiation for that charge, Hostile?

Posted by: Trashhauler on August 17, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think an explosion of that magnitude, in the rear lavatory, could bring down the plane by disrupting the tail controls.

Strangely enough, I would agree with republicrat here. Passenger airlines aren't designed to withstand explosions onboard, and it's certainly conceivable that even a failed attempt could bring down a single aircraft.

But the likelihood of pulling off ten simultaneous explosions is absurd.

I would not want to be on the plane where this proposition was tested.

Personally, I don't see the downside there.

they probably could have smuggled acetone on board in a nail-polish remover bottle

Yeah, the large economy size. Sheesh.

Posted by: Gregory on August 17, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

If the 9/11 conspirators had been apprehended before boarding the planes, everyone would be laughing at the Bush Administration for trying to make political hay from a bunch of losers armed only with boxcutters.

Yeah, and a few jeers in exchange for an unaltered NYC skyline would really suck.

Hey, "republicrat", if I could coax you back to the real world for a moment, could you please name one action Bush took in response to the August 6 PDB? You know, one that might have stood some small chance of having your fantasy come true?

One of the hallmarks of a true Bush cultist is the absurd rationalizations they adopt to stave off the cognitive dissonance caused by Bush's failure to defend the nation.

Posted by: Gregory on August 17, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

"a paperback thriller... about federal agents on the pursuit of terrorists who plan to ignite a binary liquids bomb at a fictional Republican convention in San Fransisco."

sounds more like comedy to me. a republican convention in sf? now that's funny.

you wouldn't need bombs, you could just let the cognitive dissonance explode all the attendees brains.

Posted by: hM on August 17, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, did y'all hear they caught JonBenet's murderer?
Posted by: jonjon

'Cept for the small and inconvient matter that his ex-wife testifies that she knows that he was nowhere near the Ramsey residence...

Just another obsessional wannabe.

Posted by: CFShep on August 17, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

hM,

LMAO!

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 17, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Just another obsessional wannabe.

If memory serves me right, the police withhold information about the crime scene specifically so they can weed out false confessions. Of course, the JonBenet case has been publicized to hellandgone, but the fact that this guy confessed to the media doesnt' hold a lot of water for me. We'll see soon enough how seriously the authorities take his confession.

Posted by: Gregory on August 17, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Does anybody actually know:

--how big a volume of each liquid would be required to create an explosion big enough to rip a hole in an airliner

--how long it would take to dry that amount under a fan or something (presumably not a blow dryer)

--if the hydrogen peroxide and acetone can safely be transported mixed, so all (all!) you'd have to do is add the sulfuric acid and dry the mixture?

Posted by: anandine on August 17, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

DR -- I didn't see Kevin complain about the terrorists being arrested, nor did I mean to imply that he was. I just don't see why he seems somewhat dissatisfied with breaking up this plot. Incompetent plotters or no, a busted terror cell is good news, right?
Posted by: mjk

Its not that they broke the plot up, that it was broken up early for no good reason. They were not any where near ready and watching them for a little longer is what real intelligence agencies do to keep the population safe. You gather all the threads you can for as long as you can so you can get the whole picture and stomp on the right people at the right time.

What has happened is that the bust was rushed for what looks to be political gain. This administration and their poodles across the pond seem to be sacrificing real security for hand waving and chest thumping. Its happened several times now and all this noise and misdirection is making it harder for real security and threat investigation to succeed.

Posted by: gc on August 17, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

You can wait for more evidence, but unless you have an ironclad understaning of the plot, and all the players, it would be difficult to know when the "optimal" time to bust these guys would be. Posted by: mjk

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and I guess you can fool mjk all of the time.

Given what they know, what we all know, I'd say that "optimal time" would be when they actually had evidence against the suspects, unlike the circumstances now where they apparently have nothing - no tickets, "co-conspiritors" without passports, the chemicals and such.

They are freaking out in Britain right now because they are reaching the limit on holding these guys (they've already released two) without charging them.

If all this doesn't sound rushed, I guess you have special standards for a well-handled criminal investigation.

Posted by: JeffII on August 17, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

On a related note, it seems that although the White House has installed the technology to detect liquid explosives, they didn't want to give DHS the money to do it at airports:

    Joe Reiss, AS&E's vice president of marketing, said his company's SmartCheck systems are used at the White House and the US Supreme Court. But they're not widely used in airport security. TSA agreed last year to conduct tests of the system. But Reiss said those tests had not yet begun...

    ``Now they're embarrassed because they have to say that we have nothing in place," said Slepian. ``Shame on us. We've had the science for years."
Quick more taxcuts for the wealthiest 2%!


Posted by: cyntax on August 17, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

If memory serves me right, the police withhold information about the crime scene specifically so they can weed out false confessions. Of course, the JonBenet case has been publicized to hellandgone, but the fact that this guy confessed to the media doesnt' hold a lot of water for me. We'll see soon enough how seriously the authorities take his confession.

According to the guy's ex-wife:

1) He was in Alabama at the time of the murders,

2) He was obsessed with the Ramsey murder (as well as other murders of kids), and learned everything he could about it. He only came to the attention of the cops this time because he started emailing a Prof who has specialized in the case.

Note that his ex-wife has little reason to lie in his favor, since she divorced him after he was arrested on child porn charges in 2001. He subsequently fled to Thailand where he became involved with the child sex trade.

I think the Boulder cops are once again screwing up. The guy is obviously a sick freak who should be behind bars for the rest of his life, but it also looks like he had nothing to do with the murder.

Posted by: Disputo on August 17, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK
If the 9/11 conspirators had been apprehended before boarding the planes, everyone would be laughing at the Bush Administration for trying to make political hay from a bunch of losers armed only with boxcutters.

It worth remembering, as is often forgotten,that the whole "armed only with boxcutters" idea (or even the "plastic knives and boxcutter" version) is a popular myth derived from selective reading of the phone calls from passengers and flight attendants which related variously "knives and boxcutters", people being disabled by "chemical sprays", passengers having been "stabbed or shot", etc.

Posted by: cmdicely on August 17, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Link to pictures of young children, women, ambulance drivers and old men shot by US snipers in Fallujah.

OK Trashhauler, they were shot in the neck, not the face. Try not to come all over your deskbot.

Posted by: Hostile on August 17, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I don't see the downside there.

give a thought to the other passengers.

Slightly aside, it wouldn't take a lot of sarin gas to kill the whole crew and all passengers. The discussion of explosives might be a smokescreen.

Seemingly tiny and insignificant weapons can do considerable damage when used creatively. The fact that these conspirators had seemingly tiny and insignificant weapons does not imply that the conspiracy was negligible.

Posted by: republicrat on August 17, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, actually, the Time article didn't mention taking precursors on board. It said explosives and detonators. I wonder how stable said explosives are after they've been mixed.

Hmmm, some sort of incendiary might work better than an explosive. Unless you are on your toes, a fire on an aircraft can get out of hand pretty quickly. However, it wouldn't happen so fast that you couldn't get out a Mayday.

No, I'd guess they'd want some kind of explosive. However, it would have to be powerful enough to cause structural failure. Even a big hole in the fuselage will just cause decompression. And putting the bomb(s) in the lavs might not put them next to anything particularly critical to aircraft operation or structural integrity.

Posted by: Trashhauler on August 17, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

What has happened is that the bust was rushed for what looks to be political gain.

CEO's are often accused of being short sighted, maximizing profits for the short term in order to obtain higher stock prices or to please financial analysts, regardless of the long term opportunity costs. Since Bush is the Harvard MBA president, we should expect him to try and maximize political profits for the short term at the expense of, well, just about everything else, including our security and well being.

Posted by: Hostile on August 17, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

He was in Alabama at the time of the murders

If that's so (I've been actively avoiding following the developments; I figure I'll get an earful on the radio whether I want it or not) I'll be pleased to see my skepticism validated.

He was obsessed with the Ramsey murder (as well as other murders of kids), and learned everything he could about it. He only came to the attention of the cops this time because he started emailing a Prof who has specialized in the case.

This bit is one thing that gave me pause...there's an awful lot of lurid information about Ramsey's death, and it occurred to me that someone might be able to make a plausible-sounding confession.

Note that his ex-wife has little reason to lie in his favor, since she divorced him after he was arrested on child porn charges in 2001. He subsequently fled to Thailand where he became involved with the child sex trade.

...which also made his involvement in her rape and murder at least plausible. Then again, if he got nailed by the Thai police on a sex crime rap, I can see why he might want to cop a fake plea and get extradition.

But I agree this guy seems -- indeed, is a self-confessed -- Grade A sicko.

Posted by: Gregory on August 17, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

But Rush said Jonbennet's Mother is guilty as sin.Damn who do you believe?

Posted by: Mann Coulter on August 17, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

It would definitely be almost impossible to do on a plane. But somebody could just get to the airport really early and do it all in a bathroom stall, no?

Posted by: dave on August 17, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

give a thought to the other passengers

Oh, it's fine with me if you fly solo, "republicrat."

Slightly aside, it wouldn't take a lot of sarin gas to kill the whole crew and all passengers.

By Jove, you're right! All they'd have to do is figure out how to transport it successfully through the airport and onto the plane -- recalling, of course, that Aum Shinri Kyo's attack, as bad as it was, was rather badly botched due to the difficulties involved -- and they'd be home free!

The fact that these conspirators had seemingly tiny and insignificant weapons does not imply that the conspiracy was negligible.

Um, if you'd been busier paying attention than carrying Bush Administration water, you'd have noticed that the components of this bomb are evidently not tiny and insignificant. The fact that the conspiracy seems so half-assed does indeed imply that it was negligible -- which hardly excuses the Bush Administration from pressuring the Brits to jump the gun. Just like Shotgun Dick Cheney, these guys can't shoot straight.

Posted by: Gregory on August 17, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

We will kill the moose and the squirrel with liquid explosives.

Get the recipe Natasha and send it encrypted over the internet to me.

Posted by: Boris on August 17, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler: Uh, actually, the Time article didn't mention taking precursors on board. It said explosives and detonators. I wonder how stable said explosives are after they've been mixed.

Forget the Time article, check out the one Kevin linked to; this TATP stuff is a goddman nightmare for anyone trying to move it.

    By now you'll be asking why these jihadist wannabes didn't conspire simply to bring TATP onto planes, colored with a bit of vegetable dye, and disguised as, say, a powdered fruit-flavored drink. The reason is that they would be afraid of failing: TATP is notoriously sensitive and unstable. Mainstream journalists like to tell us that terrorists like to call it "the mother of Satan." (Whether this reputation is deserved, or is a consequence of homebrewing by unqualified hacks, remains open to debate.)

Posted by: cyntax on August 17, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK
Slightly aside, it wouldn't take a lot of sarin gas to kill the whole crew and all passengers. The discussion of explosives might be a smokescreen.

Or the whole plot could be a smokescreen; terrorists use fear to influence the actions of others.

Actually killing people is a means, not an end.

Posted by: cmdicely on August 17, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Seemingly tiny and insignificant weapons can do considerable damage when used creatively.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I give you Bush's brain.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on August 17, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yes boss.

Posted by: Natasha on August 17, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, it could only blow out a few windows...and it's kind of hard to make? You're right way overblown terror plot. Muslims are our friends. You people are wussies with a capital P.

Posted by: Dan Redmond on August 17, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Seemingly tiny and insignificant weapons can do considerable damage when used creatively.
...
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I give you Bush's brain.

That one is funny. But has Bush's brain been used creatively?

Posted by: republicrat on August 17, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

I put up a post of an incident here in Texas City and also a comment at the end of the post on another incident that happened in PA:

http://scoop.epluribusmedia.org/story/2006/8/10/233139/822

1997 - government successfully prosecuted (none / 0) (#1) a PA resident for conviction for possession of an unregistered destructive device in violation of 26 U.S.C. SS 5841, 5861(d), and 5971.

here is the appeal:

http://vls.law.vill.edu/locator/3d/Mar1998/98a1817p.txt

Posted by: avahome on August 17, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile wrote:

...pictures of young children, women, ambulance drivers and old men shot by US snipers in Fallujah.

OK Trashhauler, they were shot in the neck, not the face. Try not to come all over your deskbot.
______________

Well, Hostile, I only asked because such stories are easy to write, but not so easy to substantiate. Here is a picture of the standard US sniper rifle:

http://world.guns.ru/sniper/sn11-e.htm

Note that the weapon is a .30 caliber, bolt action. That makes it hard to get a three round grouping on a moving ambulance. Are you absolutely sure your correspondent was correct?

Also, a head or neck wound caused by a high velocity .30 caliber round is almost always a kill shot. These folks were very lucky, indeed. It might have happened - however, I noted the disclaimer at the bottom reminding the reader that the article had not been checked for factual accuracy.

My nephew Josh is an Army sergeant in Iraq right now. He finished sniper training just before his unit's deployment. He's running a squad, so he doesn't do much sniping, though he still has the M-24 he was issued.

Snipers are usually more careful than your correspondent reports finding in Fallujah. And better shots. Their normal job is providing overwatch for dismounted infantry and counter-sniper protection. They normally don't give their positions away simply to shoot women and kids.

Of course, Fallujah was a Marine show. We all know how undisciplined those devildogs are.


Posted by: Trashhauler on August 17, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

While it seems implausible that this stuff could be mixed up on the plane without being detected, it could be more easily done at the airport prior to boarding.

Posted by: kkelly on August 17, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

What no one mentions is breast implants. The 800lb gorilla of explosive gel smuggling.

Posted by: cld on August 17, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Its not that they broke the plot up, that it was broken up early for no good reason. They were not any where near ready and watching them for a little longer is what real intelligence agencies do to keep the population safe. You gather all the threads you can for as long as you can so you can get the whole picture and stomp on the right people at the right time."

Yeah, that sounds good. But all sorts of things can go wrong while your watching. First, it sounds like there were 20+ people in on the plot. Do you have any idea how hard it would be to keep tabs on all these people without them getting wise? I don't, but I'll bet it's pretty damn hard. All it would take is one guy -- a guy they may not even know is in on the plot, or someone they're not watching at the moment-- to drive to the airport and buy a ticket. His flight leaves in an hour, and that's when he buys the ticket. Boom.

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Trashhauler: Uh, actually, the Time article didn't mention taking precursors on board. It said explosives and detonators. I wonder how stable said explosives are after they've been mixed.

Forget the Time article, check out the one Kevin linked to; this TATP stuff is a goddman nightmare for anyone trying to move it."

Eh. TATP is unstableish, but if I was trying to blow up a plane, I'd much rather transport the pure substance than try to make it on the plane. Just don't drop it. And if you get a premature by some guy bumping into you in the terminal, at least you'll take out the rude, in-a-hurry infidel. If you transport it slightly wet, it'll be a lot less explosive. Then you can dry that shit off in the bathroom (a hand held, battery powered fan would work great). Then shake it up, light it on fire, etc. Boom.

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, that sounds good. But all sorts of things can go wrong while your watching. First, it sounds like there were 20+ people in on the plot. Do you have any idea how hard it would be to keep tabs on all these people without them getting wise? Posted by: mjk

Probably no more difficult than for the three or four months they'd already been watching them.

I smell a polite troll.

Posted by: JeffII on August 17, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

What no one mentions is breast implants. The 800lb gorilla of explosive gel smuggling.

I've been wondering something similar, if the next big scare will be a plot to smuggle explosives in falsies, at which point the GWB admin will react by banning bras from planes.

Posted by: Disputo on August 17, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Probably no more difficult than for the three or four months they'd already been watching them."

Probably not, but maybe the police they felt like they weren't able to keep track of all of the plotters as the plan was closer and closer to being executed. It could be that they felt the level of survellience the subjects were under wasn't enough to keep them from executing the plan if the police were wrong about the timing.

The truth is, you have no idea what the issues really are, nor are you likely to. I guess it's fine to assume the worst of the British and American governments, but that's all you're doing is assuming.

Is your definition of a troll anyone who disagrees with what you say?

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Eh. TATP is unstableish, but if I was trying to blow up a plane, I'd much rather transport the pure substance than try to make it on the plane. Just don't drop it. And if you get a premature by some guy bumping into you in the terminal, at least you'll take out the rude, in-a-hurry infidel.

Maybe, but that wasn't what they were trying to do by all accounts, so I'm inclned to think that transporting it in the manner you describe wasn't really an option. The idea that they're going to combine these various elements in a plane's bathroom is pretty bizarro.


If you transport it slightly wet, it'll be a lot less explosive.
I didn't find any info on the slightly wet option; where'd you find this?

Posted by: cyntax on August 17, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

"I didn't find any info on the slightly wet option; where'd you find this?"

I'm a chemist; one of my colleages pointed this out. I have no reason to believe she is lying. She could be in on the plot, tho.

Posted by: mjk on August 17, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a chemist; one of my colleages pointed this out. I have no reason to believe she is lying. She could be in on the plot, tho.

Not so much a question of lying as trying to get access to more information. But again, that isn't what they were trying to do, so either that's not an option for some reason neither you, nor I, nor your friend know about or these guys are complete morons. Whichever it is the efficacy of this plot is quite suspicious and rolling it up at this stage after having been observing them for months seems even stranger.

Keith Olbermann has interesting piece charting the coincidences of these terror plots with other political happenings.

Posted by: cyntax on August 17, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

I don't particularly wanna go against the flow here. It does look like this threat was exaggerated at this point.

But I thought there was a successful use of this kind of attack on an airliner that killed a Japanese passenger in 1995. The fact that the damage was limited to a single passenger speaks to the idea that it would be hard to take a plane down, but, still...

Posted by: JayAckroyd on August 17, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

But has Bush's brain been used creatively?

"Those who enter the country illegally violate the law." --George W. Bush, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2005

"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you." --George W. Bush, Gulfport, Miss., Sept. 20, 2005

"I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend." --George W. Bush, on visiting Denmark, Washington D.C., June 29, 2005

[I'm] occasionally reading, I want you to know, in the second term." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., March 16, 2005

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on August 17, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Good Science fiction!

Posted by: curious on August 17, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of unused brains...

...and it's kind of hard to make? You're right way overblown terror plot. Muslims are our friends. You people are wussies with a capital P.

It's kind of hard to make? Dan Redmond either you can't read or you're a moron [I've seen it spelled moran], or both.

Hard to make, Its fucking impossible to make!
NO Windows, zero windows were going to blown out.
None.
You didn't pick that up when you read the article?
What the fuck were you doing while reading that article?

I ask you Is our children learning?

These folks were under surveillance.
The intelligence came via a torture session in Pakistan.
They're idea was stupid, and Dan Redmond, so are you.

These arrests and the ensuing headlines were about US politics.
About the War on Terra? Not so much.

Have a nice day, Butthead.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on August 17, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

But I thought there was a successful use of this kind of attack on an airliner that killed a Japanese passenger in 1995. The fact that the damage was limited to a single passenger speaks to the idea that it would be hard to take a plane down, but, still...

Yes, there was such an attack (using a liquid bomb, but not a "binary" one), but no, it doesn't suggest that it would be hard to take a plane down. The incident occurred on a Philippine Airlines flight in 1994. The bomb was made of nitroglycerin disguised as a bottle of contact lens fluid. It blew a two square foot hole in the floor of the cabin and killed the passenger in the seat it had been placed under. If the bomb had been larger, or had been placed against the fuselage of the aircraft, it might have brought the plane down.

Posted by: GOP on August 17, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

I guess some things have to be layed out in an explicit format for the quarter-wits who just dont' get it.

  • There is zero likelihood of making TATP anywhere within the lavatory of an airplane - zero, nada, zilch, ain't gonna happen - got it?
  • There is zero likelihood of making nitroglycerin anywhere within the lavatory of an airplane - zero, nada, zilch, ain't gonna happen - got it?
  • Outside of nitroglycerin and TATP, there are no other candidates for high explosives that can be made by combining readily available ingredients
  • TATP is only mildly explosive in the liquid form, and then it must get hot. It must be dried to a powder before it can be used. That is not going to happen in a public lavatory due to the obnoxious vapors which would be released.
  • Liquid explosives are extremely poor choices for downing an aircraft. The reason is the shape of the container which does not conform to the shape of the aircraft shell. If you can't get the explosive to lay-up into the shape of the shell, then all the explosive energy just gets released into the cabin where it can do little harm. This is why an explosion anywhere inside the cabin offers no credible threat to the shell, the flight controls, or the crew.
  • Incendiary liquids are also extremely poor weapons for downing an aircraft. To be effective, incendiaries would need to be contained within close proximity to a vertical surface and stoked to temperatures exceeding 1000dgC, a very difficult task indeed. And all this implies that the crew has already been overcome, a scenario which is highly unlikely these days.
  • Liquid explosives do present some threat for one-on-one anti-personnel weapons. You can burn the hide off your hands, lose an arm, lose an eye or possibly commit suicide. That is why there is some justification for using liquid detectors at the Supreme Court and the White House. There is zero justification for using them at airline terminals and thus, the expense cannot be justified.
  • There was no legitimate terror cell discovered in England - no tickets, very few passports, and no chemicals found, except for a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a jar of peanut butter and a few cans of bean. LMAO!!!

Here are a couple of links that will help clarify the human side of this political scam:

To round out Murray's closing admonition, I would like to add a concise statement of the operative truth in this matter, which is:

Liquid explosives? Nah, that dog won't hunt.

Posted by: stonehinge on August 17, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just spitballing here, but what about an already prepared explosive suspended in a gel? A clear gel in a plastic bottle might look like Evian, if you don't shake it. And that would explain all the hoohaw about confiscating the gels and ointments and toothpaste.

Posted by: Trashhauler on August 17, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

stonehinge,

Liquid explosives? Nah, that dog won't hunt.

On the contrary, that dog already has hunted, on Philippine Airlines flight 434, using a bomb made of a small quantity of liquid nitroglycerin.

Do you have a source for the bullet points you make in your post? Many of them seem to be contradicted by explosives and security experts:

"Andy Oppenheimer, the editor of Jane's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence Directory, said: "A lot of mixtures can be concocted from some very common materials that are harmless in themselves. We are talking about everyday chemicals used in perfumes, cosmetics, drain cleaner, batteries, or that could, for example, be stolen from school labs. ... These materials are easy to obtain and hard to detect and could be smuggled in small containers. It does not take much to blow up an aircraft."" [source]

"Prof Michels, an explosives expert at Imperial College London, said: "We could well be talking about nitroglycerine, which has been around for many years. It is easy to make and you do not need very much. It can be colourless, pale yellow or brown but you can add colour to make it resemble anything you like, such as fizzy drinks or even baby food."" [source]

"The bottles used to hold contact lens solution, for example, would hold enough nitroglycerin to open a plane's fuselage. ... "You're talking a few ounces," said Mike Barrett, a counterterrorism expert with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a New York think tank. "All you have to do is blow a hole in it."" [source]

"National security experts said terrorists easily could slip a few apparently innocuous items past airport security and assemble them into a lethal device once aloft. Some envision a group of two or three terrorists mixing up explosives in an airplane bathroom, using commonplace materials such as hydrogen peroxide and detonating their bomb with the battery from a cell phone or some other small electronic device. "In midflight, you could go into the toilet, attach the mobile phone to the explosives and, as the plane makes a final approach over a densely populated urban area, you detonate it," said Irish security analyst Tom Clonan. To puncture an aircraft's fuselage would require an explosive charge "half the size of a cigarette packet," he said." [source]


Posted by: GOP on August 17, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK


I read the Register article yesterday, thanks to Mr. Bostrom who posted a link to it on a previous thread. Brilliant article. It really does illustrate how overblown this whole incident has been.

I never watch Fox at home, but I was at the car dealer getting my car serviced last week, and was forced to listen to Fox in the waiting room. The whole day was nothing but this incident, reported over and over again in the most ominous of tones. I turned the volume down when those who had been watching it left.

One of the car dealer guys came in later and asked if I wanted it turned up. I said no because I was tired of hearing about this incident over and over. He just rolled his eyes and said that he was sick of hearing about terrorist plots. I suspect that a lot of people feel that way these days.

I went onto the Register and got the actual link and forwarded it to all my email buddies, many of whom will forward it to their e-buddies. And I assume that others on this board have done the same, so hopefully this article will get disseminated.

OBF:

"A gallon of ordinary household bleach, coupled with a gallong of ordinary household ammonia could easily, and very quickly, KILL everyone (including the flight-crew) on large jetliner, when mixed, say, in the lavatory sink, by a release of Chlorine gas."

From a chemical standpoint, true. However, how realistic is it that you would be able to carry a gallon of either bleach or household ammonia onto a plane? Especially after this incident has been blown so out of proportion?

Not to mention that both substances have a distinct and noticeable odor.

Yancey:

"No, it is stored in plastic bottles (I have one 15 feet from me as I write). It is advisable to store it at temperatures less than 22 C, but it is not difficult to handle or transport."

22 C or less is often a feasible temperature even in the summer, in England, or in the Northeast of the U.S. I live in Tucson. Temps in daytime ca. 40 C and higher. Most of the continental U.S. is rarely that low in temp, at least in the daytime. And while temps in airports are around 22 C, theyre higher in the planes while on the ground. And if you have a delay in takeoff

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on August 17, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Wolfdaughter,

From a chemical standpoint, true. However, how realistic is it that you would be able to carry a gallon of either bleach or household ammonia onto a plane?

Easy. Multiple terrorists, each carrying a small quantity disguised as an innocuous liquid, which they then combine on the plane.

Anyway, if you use nitroglycerin as the explosive you wouldn't need anything close to a gallon. Just a few ounces. The bomb on Philippine Airlines flight 434 was the size of a bottle of contact lens fluid, small enough to conceal in the pocket of a life preserver under a seat, yet it a blew a 2 ft hole in the floor of the passenger cabin, through to the cargo hold, and was powerful enough to rip the body of the passenger sitting above it in half.

Posted by: GOP on August 17, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Be afraid. The goal of terrorists is to make you afraid. The goal of the Bush administration is to make you afraid. If you are not afraid, then the terrorist don't win. If you are not afraid, then Republicans don't win. Apparently Republican politicians and terroists share the same goals.
Just like Iraq.
Did I mention you are more likely to drown in a bathtub than be killed by a terrorist? Well at least that is what those liberal pansies at CATO say.

Posted by: Run away on August 17, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's time to bring back the trans-Atlantic ocean liner. A bigger target perhaps, but people survive ships being blown up; most people don't fly with parachutes these days.

Posted by: Linus on August 17, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Run Away,

Did I mention you are more likely to drown in a bathtub than be killed by a terrorist?

Many possible causes of death, from a plane crash to non-terrorism-related murder to food poisoning to second-hand smoke, have only a very low probability of killing any particular randomly-selected individual. We nevertheless spend considerable resources, and endure significant restrictions on our liberty, in order to reduce the risk of death from those causes. The same principle applies to terrorism also.

It is hilariously ironic to see liberals, who are usually such enthusiastic supporters of expensive nanny-state laws and policies that restrict people's liberties in order to reduce various kinds of risk, suddenly transform into hard-line libertarians when the issue is terrorism.

Posted by: GOP on August 17, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Some envision a group of two or three terrorists mixing up explosives in an airplane bathroom..."

Some envisioning. Has this guy been in an airplane bathroom lately? I can't envision getting two or three terrorists, or even two or three midgets, into an airplane bathroom, let alone having them do chemistry experiments in there.

Posted by: Evelyn on August 17, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

GOP,

Your response is expected, especially given the moniker you have chosen. This discussion has been primarily focused on TATP, the material that has been associated with the non-terrorist event in Britain. However, TATP has already been shown to be a non-starter in this forum. So, I see now that you want to switch the topic.

Well, as I have already mentioned, nitroglycerin is a candidate, but it is a very unlikely one due to it's notorious instability. What is most interesting, is that the data from the Phillipines flight supports my conclusions. In that event, where the charge was placed by a professional, in an area where the overpressure would be momentarily contained, there was the loss of one life and that was in the immediate proximity of the blast. Nothing even remotely close to the "destruction of life at unprecedented levels", as it has been projected by members of the security community, occurred in this event. Note that the outer shell of the aircraft was not penetrated, exactly as I have predicted.

As for the credibility of your references, only Michels has any apparent expertise in the chemistry and physics of explosives, and his comments concentrate on color and such. And even though nitro is "easy" to make as he claims, the components are actually fairly difficult to obtain. There is no "over-the-counter" use for concentrated nitric acid just as there is no such use for concentrated hydrogen peroxide. In case you haven't figured it out, that's how we keep this stuff locked-up.

The rest of your references are just talking heads:

  • Tom Clonan's scenario has been already been burnt to ashes here in this forum.
  • Mike Barrett's observations seem to be tied to extensive observations of movie special effects. It is not so easy to bring a liquid explosive into intimate contact with the shell of an aircraft, a point which I have already made.
  • Andy Oppenheimer has said nothing at all.

Not surprisingly, you haven't even addressed the stunning lack of evidence recovered from the non-terrorist arrestees in Great Britain. The police are already releasing these people because they have nothing on them. So it should be eminently clear to all that this non-event is just another head-fake to divert attention from the quagmire in Iraq and the abject failure of the IDF in Lebanon. The sad thing, for Bushco, is that they have already pretty much spent their propaganda capital before the news broke about the real estate collapse. Now, just about everybody is gonna get a chance to sport a negative equity on their house. What you gonna use to cover that?

Posted by: stonehinge on August 18, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Of course the conservatives believe this. They either didn't pay attention in College Chemistry, or better yet, never even took it (it's that science and math thing...). Wait, they took Faith-based chemistry 101????

Under normal conditions, this is a very unstable mixture and difficult to safely produce in sufficient quantity (except in a lab).

They could do far more damage with a bit of Sodium. But, it looks like the "terrorists" didn't take Chemistry either.

I see Dumb Asses... What's next? Fossil Fission Watches?

Posted by: MLuther on August 18, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

stonehinge,

However, TATP has already been shown to be a non-starter in this forum.

I don't know why you think that. You made a number of unsubstantiated claims about it. I don't see that you've "shown" anything, as opposed to merely asserting it.

So, I see now that you want to switch the topic.

I wasn't switching the topic. I was responding to your post, and in particular your claim "Liquid explosives? Nah, that dog won't hunt." The evidence I presented indicates that your claim is false. Not only will the liquid explosives dog hunt, it already has hunted, in the Philippine Airlines incident I described.

Well, as I have already mentioned, nitroglycerin is a candidate, but it is a very unlikely one due to it's notorious instability.

Nitroglycerin can be stabilized, and the fact that it has already been successfully used to bomb an airplane demonstrates that instability is not a serious enough problem to prevent its use as an explosive by terrorists on airplanes.

What is most interesting, is that the data from the Phillipines flight supports my conclusions. In that event, where the charge was placed by a professional, in an area where the overpressure would be momentarily contained, there was the loss of one life and that was in the immediate proximity of the blast.

The terrorist's biography states that he was a communications engineer. Whatever expertise he may have acquired in explosives, other terrorists could obviously do the same thing. The bomb was placed in the interior of the plane's cabin, on the floor, away from the fuselage wall. If it had placed against the wall instead, the explosion may have blown a hole in the fuselage resulting in explosive decompression and the loss of the plane. And the bomb he used was very small--only the size of a bottle of contact lens solution. If it had been bigger, its destructive power would obviously have been greater and the risk to the plane and its passengers even higher.

Posted by: GOP on August 18, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

What no one mentions is breast implants. The 800lb gorilla of explosive gel smuggling.

Gives a whole new meaning to TSA.

Posted by: Whack a NeoCon for Christ on August 18, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

MLuther,

You are actually quite right about the destructive potential of dropping a block of sodium in the commode. But the problems here are two-fold - getting the block in the first place and getting it thru security. Sodium blocks are tightly regulated these days, so you will need the right credentials to get it. And, that block is gonna show up in the Xrays as you will need a pretty sizeable chunk, let's say something like a pound or more, maybe five. Obviously, I haven't done the scaling experiments to be sure - LOL.

Have we exhausted enough possibilites yet? You know, I can lead the discussion on almost any chemical variant you might propose. But the point I've been making here is that there was no legitimate terror threat in Britain. My intent here was to make it obvious to even a quarter-wit like GOP, that this is just another big distraction to cover the ongoing failure of our Glorious Leader. And even though these concepts will never hit Faux Snooze, I count 1000 enlightened individuals for every one of you who reads these words with understanding. That is worth my time for sure.

Good nite for now!!!

PS: GOP, go on back to your gameboy now and leave the heavy lifting to us professionals. I'm sure you'll be much more comfortable thatta way.

Posted by: stonehinge on August 18, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

stonehinge,

As for the credibility of your references, only Michels has any apparent expertise in the chemistry and physics of explosives, and his comments concentrate on color and such.

I quoted a professional security analyst, a professional counterterrorism expert, the editor of a leading weapons reference, and an academic explosives expert. Two of them explicitly state that only a small quantity of an explosive such as nitroglycerin would be required to blow a hole in an aircraft's fuselage. Michaels states that nitroglycerin is easy to make and disguise. I have also cited an actual, real-world example of nitroglycerin being used to bomb a commercial passenger airliner in flight, killing one passenger, injuring others, and blowing a 2 ft hole in the cabin floor. And that was from just a very small nitroglycerin bomb.

I asked you to identify the sources of your own claims, but you have provided nothing. Your original post contained two links. The first link is to a blog post that contains nothing at all about the use of nitroglycerin or other liquid explosives on aircraft. And your second link doesn't work for me at all. When I click on that link, I get a long delay followed by "Page Not Found."

Do you have any expert sources to substantiate your technical claims about liquid explosives, or don't you?

Not surprisingly, you haven't even addressed the stunning lack of evidence recovered from the non-terrorist arrestees in Great Britain.

I wasn't talking about that. I was responding to your claims about the feasibility of terrorists using liquid explosives on aircraft. As I have explained, your claims appear to be false. If you think you can substantiate them with links to experts sources, then do so.


Posted by: GOP on August 18, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

I was thinking they could take a chuck (or several chunks) of sodium and hide it in a dummy spare laptop battery. Then they could use it to start a fire. Don't know that they could bring down a plane with that approach.

Jeez, what am I thinking? They could just bring a Dell laptop and set fire to the whole cabin. ;-)

Posted by: MLuther on August 18, 2006 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Additional expert opinion stating that liquid explosives could be used to bring down a plane:

"... terrorists could simply carry aboard a plane the two chemicals used to make TATP. When the chemicals are mixed together, "chances are it will instantaneously and violently react," said Neal Langerman, a chemical industry consultant who acts as a spokesman for the American Chemical Society. "If it didn't, you can stick in a detonator, hook it up to the battery in your iPod, and you're dead." Even if the chemicals fail to create an explosion, a major fire will probably be sufficient, Langerman said."
"Fire aboard an aircraft is a very bad thing," Langerman said. "If you create a hot, energetic fire, the aircraft is in very big trouble."
[source]


"While it would be difficult to blow a plane up completely from within with a small, liquid-based bomb, it could be done by concentrating on weak points such as windows, or by combining several bombs on the same aircraft.
Professor Peter Zimmerman of Kings College, London, said: "Many kinds of explosive can be used to destroy an airplane in flight, because the air pressure in the cabin will add to the destructive power of the explosive. An airliner is a very fast-flying big balloon, and speaking very figuratively if the cabin is ruptured and the fuselage skin torn by an explosion at cruising altitude, the aerodynamic force on the rip and the air trying to escape the cabin can greatly multiply the destructive power of a bomb."
If positioned correctly by someone with knowledge of aircraft operating systems, a small device could also sever hydraulic control cables with catastrophic consequences. "You wouldnt get the spectacular effect of the plane falling apart in the sky, but if it becomes uncontrollable it is going to end up in the sea five minutes later," Dr [Andrea] Sella [senior lecturer in chemistry at University College London] said."
[source]

Posted by: GOP on August 18, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

GOP,

As a chemical engineer and as a licensed pilot, I most certainly have sufficient expertise to speak with authority in these matters. I do not need to reference authorities on the Internet to make statements of fact concerning the chemistry and physics of liquid explosives. In these discussions, I have already pointed out ways that a variety of explosives could endanger the flight of a commercial airliner. However, the argument which I have successfully brought forward in every case is that we already have sufficient safeguards in-place to reduce the threat of such occurrences to a near-zero probability. Since you have failed to offer any factual information which refutes my statements, there will be no further discussion with you on these matters.

The debate is finished. You lose, I win.

Good nite.

Posted by: stonehinge on August 18, 2006 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK

GOP needs you to be afraid. Does anyone believe that GOP is afraid of terrorists, plane crashes, being murdered, bad shellfish, and second hand smoke? Is GOP so afraid that he/she has voluntarily given up some of his/her liberties and no longer eats seafood or poultry?

Since even GOP concedes there is a very low probability of any particular individual dying as a result of terrorism why is he/she so afraid or pretending to be so afraid? Implementing policies and procedures to secure the homeland (particulary securing enriched uranium) are certainly commendable if they adhere to the Constitution. GOP just like his/her realife namesake doesn't spend a lot of time on the positive steps to be taken to thwart terrorists (illegal wiretapping being the exception) but instead concentrates on conceivable ways a terrorist could kill you. In the comments section these scare tactics are just a harmless game played by a persistent advocate. When the same tactics form your principal election strategy such fearmongering is beneath contempt. As a Chicago Trib columnist recently wrote , the GOP will attempt to scare Americans into re-electing Republicans.

According to the DOD 'terrorism is the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies...' If citizens don't allow themselves to be frightened into changing their way of life and governments continue upholding their laws, policies and treaties, terrorists can not achieve their goals.

Democrats: Their is nothing to fear but fear itself. Republicans: We have nothing to hope for but fear itself.

Posted by: Run Away on August 18, 2006 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

stonehinge,

don't sweat it, that's GOP's M.O. -- produce bogus talking points, then demand references from anyone who disagrees, regardless of whether they have expertise in the field under discussion.

this reminds me of a class I TA'd back in grad school where a student questioned a point the professor made in lecture. the professor referred this student to a standard source, and after the next class the student reported that he was convinced. the professor then pointed out that he was the author of the source that had convinced the student, so in effect the student was unconvinced until the professor cited himself.

i'm trying to imagine how this would have worked out if the student had been GOP. perhaps the student would have cited sources from outside the field whose opinions contradicted the professor, without actually providing any specific factual basis for that disagreement, then simply refused to acknowledge there's any difference between expertise and opinion.

Posted by: keith on August 18, 2006 at 6:36 AM | PERMALINK

"As a chemical engineer and as a licensed pilot, I most certainly have sufficient expertise to speak with authority in these matters. I do not need to reference authorities on the Internet to make statements of fact concerning the chemistry and physics of liquid explosives.... The debate is finished. You lose, I win."

Stonehinge's arrogance in the above is astonishing! I do not need to cite sources or references...I am THE SOURCE! GOP actually cited academic specialists with reference to the effects of pressurization.

I also cite your sophomoric attempt to effect closure as evidence of the weakness of your argument... "The debate is finished. You lose, I win."...is truly pathetic. Like a desperate undergraduate trying to get the last word..."End of Story"/"Enough said"/"Period"...who gave you authority to end this debate and attribute victory? Oh, I forgot. You are THE AUTHORITY.

Posted by: Peter on August 18, 2006 at 6:55 AM | PERMALINK

Peter:

Works for me.

Stonehinge's authority, that is. GOP is a notorious troll who's entire MO is arguing for the sake of arguing.

One great point in The Register piece is that all these "terrorism" authorities make their livings from leveraging Homeland Security pork. They thus have a vested interest in overstating the case.

I'll take the word of garden-variety chemistry professors over these bureaucratic wankers any day of the week.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 18, 2006 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Peter:

Oh, and as The Register cites, depressurization won't necessarily take down a plane, as the notorious Aloha Airlines incident attests.

The depressurization was so severe it tore the entire top off the plane from the windows. While a few people blew out of the open-topped plane, most managed to grab and hold onto their seats, and -- amazingly -- the plane landed safely.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 18, 2006 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, a pound of explosive (about the size of a coke can), punching a 20-inch wide hole, was enough to bring down Pan Am 103.
Aloha didn't have a bomb on board - Pan Am did.

Posted by: ajay on August 18, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and the Pan Am bomb wasn't "in intimate contact with the shell of the aircraft", contra stonehinge. It was in the forward cargo hold.

Incidentally, I've been writing on aviation for the last few years and never heard anyone call it the 'shell' - 'fuselage', 'hull' or 'skin', yes. Is your first language something other than English?

Posted by: ajay on August 18, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not miss the obvious. Every year grain elevators face explosion risks from grain dust suspended in the air.

How about Abu and his pals each have a small quantity of flour, a small funnel and some tubing. They attach the tube to the funnel, pour the flour into the funnel, then simultaneously blow into the tubes creating a flour aerosol. One spark or open flame and BOOM, the plane explodes.

Posted by: Tripp on August 18, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Those who claim that it is hard to obtain the components for making homemade explosives from items that have no household use, are completely ignorant.

It is not easy to purchase a lot of these items, but there are thousands of legitimate buyers (organic chemistry laboratories of all kinds, industrial users, etc), and their security is not the security of a bank vault, or even often the security of your typical burlar-alarm protected home. These kinds of items are not locked up, for the most part, and can be easily stolen in broad daylight, and the disappearance of such items might go unreported and/or unnoticed

With regard to this particular plot, it may very well have been the plot of half-wits, but criticizing the busting of it, or mocking the seriousness with which authorities are treating it, on the basis of its low likelihood of success, is borderline psychotic. Many here are asserting that the US forced the British to bust the plot "too early", and I have yet to see any evidence of this other than one lone, anonymous quote from some security official in the UK. Indeed, I don't see how anyone commenting here can possibly know with any confidence what "too early" is. What, is it OK if you watch this group, 20 plus people by my reckoning, for 2 more years, expending resources that cannot now be used to do other investigations? I don't know the answer to that question, but neither do any of you. And it does not stretch the imagination to conclude that had one or more of these cretins had jumped the gun and had "unsuccessfully" killed only himself in the process of trying to bring down a plane, many of you would now be commenting here on how the investigators had let the actual surveillance go on "too long" and had unnecessarily risked the safety of the lucky passengers; and I don't doubt that many of you would have come up with some sort of contrived reasoning on how it was due to the Bush Administration putting pressure on the British to delay the roundup until some more opportune political moment.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 18, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

I guess the quagmire in Iraq just isn't interesting enough to talk about anymore.

So what about vaginal cavities and rectums? I don't think we are safe in the air until we have 100% body cavity searches. Short of this YOU WILL NEVER BE SAFE IN THE AIR!

Scared?

A vote for the GOP is a vote for cavity searches.

Posted by: Michael Buchanan on August 18, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey:

I don't think anyone is mocking the fact that security and police agencies took the threat seriously, or even really that they acted in on way or another. the point of the criticism that I have seen is mostly the timing (it appears likely that there was political pressure to wrap up the investigation before charges were ready to be filed) and the overwhelming hyperbole of the annoucements and reaction of various political authorities.

So the bobbies busted some vague terrorists. good for them, it's their job. does it need to be the headline on every paper, in several countries, for a week? as the reality of the threat unravels under scrutiny, it makes the next announcement of a threat and investigation a little less powerful. Boy who cried wolf syndrome, you know. when the alert levels get raised, and the government enters panic mode, only for us to learn that it was a group of nutcases without the capability to fulfill their intentions in any way shape or form, it makes us all look really stupid, and we stop believing the next one. And that is really dangerous.

Posted by: northzax on August 18, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

A question for Stonehinge, who seems pretty damned knowledgable:

Is the chemistry (and its required expertise)required to build the kind of bomb the British terrorists had in mind more or less difficult than is required to cook up a batch of crystal meth?

I've seen pictures of crystal meth being produced in a home kitchen and it's more elaborate than I expected.

Which is to say, I can't imagine someone producing crystal meth in the toilet of a trans-atlantic airplane.

From what's been posted here, it sounds to me high unlikely, even operationally impossible, to lock oneself in a plane's toilet shortly after departing Heathrow and producing a weapon before the plane arrives at JFK.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: Auto on August 18, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK


gop: It is hilariously ironic to see liberals, who are usually such enthusiastic supporters of expensive nanny-state laws and policies that restrict people's liberties in order to reduce various kinds of risk, suddenly transform into hard-line libertarians when the issue is terrorism.


lol....the good old days....

It is hilariously ironic to see conservatives, who are usually such enthusiastic supporters of libertarianism that says government can't be trusted suddenly transform into supporters of expensive nanny-state laws and policies that restrict people's liberties in order to reduce various kinds of risk when the issue is terrorism.

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on August 18, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

I am always surprised by how many people believe that anything this administration and its British counterparts do is automatically above criticism.

Posted by: zak822 on August 18, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

peroxyde needs to be at least 98%, stored in a thermos, plastic bottles wont handle the liquid highly corrosive however very difficult to get , aceton or isopropylic alcohol must be in pure form, sulfuric acid is used to remove traces of water. A blasting cap is required to detonate the mixture. All together an unlikely and unstable candidate to blow up an airplane when other means such as the sodium, or nitro can be smuggled onto an airplane.
after this terror plots craziness, lies and threats, when will they have us all to get in line, naked, and "rubber gloved" before getting on the airplane, nitro cotton, or "nitro cellulose" is an explosive that can be made after nitration of cotton, such as clothes or sheets, like the terrorist attack on the Drakkar building in Beirut in 1983.
a pile of teeshirts can then become a powerfull explosive.
instead i will travel swiss air or avoid companies or destination that are targeted because of their blind support to those who took someone else land

Posted by: gmdh on August 19, 2006 at 5:25 AM | PERMALINK

Pages and pages of comments about the feasibility of bringing down a plane with various elaborate chemical concoctions that may or may not work -- when you could get a much higher body count by blowing up a terminal at say, LAX. Nobody is searched on entering and almost everybody is carrying some kind of suitcase. I think about that a lot while standing on those long "security" lines. But I also think about something else: if it's that easy, why hasn't anybody done it? And how were the 9/11 hijackers able to pull of an immensely more complicated plot? Maybe because most terrorists don't have that capability but somebody here (who stood to gain huge political power from 9/11) gave them a helping hand?

Posted by: dalloway on August 19, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

The Register story was derived from material written on the Dick Destiny blog, here -- when it posted the peer-reviewed literature syntheses of the compound earlier in the week. Read them close -- none of them are particularly adaptable to on-the-fly mixing.

Posted by: Urnst Kouch on August 20, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

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