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Terror Plot, NASA, DHS Patch Alert 341

Read on for some of the most interesting comments from yesterday's stories on NASA's lost moon-walk tapes, the reported foiling of a large-scale terror attack planned against the U.S. to have been staged from the U.K., and the Department of Homeland Security's sudden warning to patch Windows with the latest security updates, in today's Backslash summary of those conversations.
Reader ShootThemLater arrived at Heathrow airport "just as news was breaking" of the arrests of 21 people alleged to have been preparing a massive, multi-staged attack on the U.S. using binary explosives on planes flying from the U.K., and provides a first-hand account of his experience:

It was a tough decision to part with my laptop, PDA and mobile but I decided to take my chances. It only really then dawned on me the extent to which I depend on these items when I was waiting for hours to clear security ... While I could have found a public pay phone, all my phone numbers are stored in my mobile & PDA and I actually remember very few of them. I could speak to people, after somehow getting their numbers, but they could not call me back. All the usual channels that are normally available to me to get information about a delay were unavailable to me - no web access or even SMS messages to friends with access. You just have to stand in a queue like a sheep.

[...]

As has been reported, items allowed were limited to wallets/travel documents and baby/health-specific products. However, many of us brought books and papers with us also. Interestingly, Duty Free shops were open airside - although I didn't see if any electronics shops were. The focus this morning was really on what can be brought from landside to airside and they didn't seem to have thought about what you buy airside so much (although I would speculate that electronic items bought airside do not pose such a threat in that terrorists would use pre-modified devices to detonate explosives). The search at security was a remove shoes, belts etc. job - rather like being in the US :)

"First, congratulations to the Security Services for foiling this plot," writes reader ettlz, before raising a few relevant questions:

Did they need to detain someone for 90 days without trial to prevent this disaster? Would ID cards have helped?

And how long before I can travel with my notebook onto an aeroplane again, as we all know a cargo hold is no place for a lithium ion battery?

Null537 asks

Is anyone else more angry about the hassle this causes, than anything else? Terrorists spread terror, so they've hit their mark. By being foiled the plot does an amazing amount of damage on its own, spreading FUD.

I don't feel any safer by having my liquids/toenail clippers/pocket vibe/ipod/laptop taken away from me, when there are plenty of other ways to kill/be killed that airlines have no control over. I am more angry at terrorists for making American privacy close(er) to extinction than anything else. With a "war" on "terror" there are going to be casualties, my water consumption/music listening/laptop using/game playing/phone usage habits shouldn't be at the top of the list.

Why does the scapegoat have to be the common citizen?



Reader v1 left one of hundreds of comments on the missing original recordings of the first moon walk, which NASA would like to recover and safely archive before their inevitable deterioration past the point of rescue.

It would not surprise me if these tapes have been in some very rich person's "personal museum" for the last several years, the result of a quiet and large payoff to someone that had access to the archives. Things like this don't just "disappear," they "grow legs."

Ninwa questions the significance of the claim made in the linked article that "The only known equipment on which the original analogue tapes can be decoded is at a Goddard centre set to close in October, raising fears that even if they are found before they deteriorate, copying them may be impossible.":

Is the article honestly trying to suggest that NASA couldn't reverse engineer a format and design a player for it if the original player was lost? I personally find that a little hard to believe. It just sounds like a convenience excuse to create a "give-up searching" date. In my opinion these tapes are very important to our country's history. It's almost shameful to me to think they could have lost them so easily.

According to reader Detritus, "The format isn't a big mystery, it's IRIG 106 if anyone cares" -- but that's not the problem, he says:

The problem is that as part of the continuing budget crunch at NASA, made worse by the need to scrounge money from the existing budget for new tasks like a Shuttle replacement and going to Mars, many activities and facilities are being cut or eliminated. The lab that can handle these old tapes, the Data Evaluation Lab at Goddard, has lost its funding. That means that it will be closed at the end of this fiscal year. The equipment goes into storage or is surplused. The people have to find other jobs or be laid off or retire.

Building a recorder from scratch would be insanely expensive. These recorders cost anywhere from $50-100K when they were new and being manufactured in quantity.

It's easy to say that "they" should keep and maintain the hardware, catalog and store the tapes in climate controlled warehouses, and do all the other things needed to preserve the data for future generations. That doesn't pay the bills. Just storing a tape can cost a dollar or more a year. That doesn't sound too bad until you realize that a single spacecraft can easily generate tens of thousands of tapes. Another problem is that at $100-200 for a new reel of tape, there has always been a large incentive to recycle and reuse tapes for current missions.

Reader Aufero has no trouble believing that if NASA did have to reverse engineer the format, it would run into more than a bit of bureaucratic barbed wire:

If NASA did it, it would require five years, fifteen administrators, and fifty million dollars. The quarterly funding reviews alone (much less the reviews of the reviews) would take up more time than the project, and the funding would be proxmired halfway through to pay for a bridge to an island owned by a friend of some congressman. If they ever find the tapes they should hand them over to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which would probably have them transferred to more durable media in six months at a cost of $30,000.

The problem of preservation sure isn't one confined to NASA, though: reader drDugan writes with an insightful comment on long-term storage of historically important but voluminous data:

I was recently at a meeting in Bethesda at the NIH and heard Don Lindberg, the director of the national library of medicine talk about long term information storage.

After going through all the normal stuff about media degrading and backups, etc -- he made a really interesting point: The only way to really ensure REALLY LONG storage - like tens of thousands of years is to keep having people accessing information. The point he made is that all the storage technology will continue to evolve, and it's only the information we stop accessing that will fall into danger of getting lost.

I thought it was a good point.

Why on earth do we not have access to the original data from the Moon landings? If we did, lots of people would have a copy around. Silly secretive state.



On the announcement that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had issued a strongly worded recommendation that Windows users update their computers with the latest security patches from Microsoft, tholomyes writes that the suggestion is a good one:

This update is as important as it gets. There are vulnerabilities in every major MS program which allow remote code execution, which means that as soon as the exploit is discovered, it can take advantage of holes all over your system.

Affected programs and services:

  • MS Server Services (TCP 139 and 445)
  • DNS servers
  • Internet Explorer
  • Outlook Express
  • Microsoft Management Console
  • HTML Help
  • Visual Basic
  • Microsoft Office
  • Windows kernel

I'm not too surprised that they're trying to push awareness of this patch. It was the lack of patching several weeks beforehand that allowed Code Red to do as much damage as it did.

Many comments suggested that the Department of Homeland Security's motives for issuing its urgent suggestion to patch systems were less than admirable, if not not downright conspiratorial; in response to by ExE122's suggestion that "monitoring 10 million computers to find out what porn sites people like to visit isn't [a government priority]," Shaper_pmp offered a level-headed reason not to discount such suspicions:

How about monitoring 10 million phone calls?

And with a handy backdoor installed monitoring computers would be even easier to automate.

I'm not saying they have, merely that your pooh-poohing of the whole idea is a bit baseless when they've already been caught doing essentially the same thing in a different medium.

[...] The only way this makes sense to me is if you're saying conspiracy theories shouldn't attract tinfoil hat accusations any more... because everyone knows they're watching you, lying to you and breaking the law all the damn time?

Reader twofidyKidd outlines the tension that makes it hard to decide between tempting conspiracies and comforting trust:

The real problem is that our cynicism makes viewing realistic possibilities hard to imagine, and our tools [of] logical deduction sort of seem to fail. Occam's razor can't be used in a situation like this because time has proved over and again that the interests of people at the government level aren't always in the interest of people at the constituency level. This is one of those times that we (the Slashdot conflux) would like to imagine that someone (like Lawrence Lessig or Brad Templeton) has finally said something to an official that he finally understood and as a result has taken this action, but since we often have a hard time getting our own management to listen to the good ideas we put forth, we're hesitant to believe such a thing has happened. In fact, given the recent history of our government, we're much more inclined to consider a sinister purpose. The DHS press release has many of the "hidden agenda" trappings, like specifically indicating which patch to apply, as well as the call of immediacy. ...

Just to put things in perspective; right now, Britons are unloading all liquids and gels into trash cans prior to boarding U.S.-bound planes, while we're wondering if the U.S. government is acting in our best interest by adamantly suggesting we patch our Windows computers.


Many thanks to the readers (especially those quoted above) whose comments went into each of these conversations.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Terror Plot, NASA, DHS Patch Alert

Comments Filter:
  • They're onto me! (Score:3, Informative)

    by matts-reign ( 824586 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:28PM (#15890915) Homepage
    It would not surprise me if these tapes have been in some very rich person's "personal museum" for the last several years, the result of a quiet and large payoff to someone that had access to the archives. Things like this don't just "disappear," they "grow legs."
    Uh oh! Don't look under my desk! /me starts digging secret backyard hole to keep tapes in
    • I hope you didn't install the latest Windows patches, because now they can easily link your IP to your /. UID, and they'll be at your house and place of business shortly.
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:30PM (#15890930) Homepage
    So, from the title, I gather ...
    NASA was involved in a terror plot but the Department of Homeland security patched it up to look like Al Qaeda did it.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:31PM (#15890935) Homepage Journal
    I knew, I knew it along. The terrorists are in cahoots with Bowser, the Koopa Caliph! Think about all the abuse the lizard goes through every time bored airplane passengers bust out their gameboys and play a little Mario. With gameboys now being forced to sit in stowed luggage, Koopa will be free to terrorize the mushroom kingdom.

    Remember, if Koopa can kidnap the princess with impunity, the terrorists have already won!
    • Just when laptop fuel cells were going to be practical "Real Soon Now", and would let us run our laptops all the way across the continent or ocean.... Now you're not going to be allowed to carry the fuel, and may not be allowed to carry the laptop.

      And if they're not going to allow us to carry liquids on the plane, they really should make it up to us by letting us bring dope.

  • by bunions ( 970377 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:32PM (#15890941)
    ... which I have to view as an inevitability. Then we'll all just hop onto the xray conveyor belt with the carryon luggage.

    Still, you gotta figure that in a position like that, a potential bomber would have to be really sure that the flight would leave on time. ;)
    • Not if the trigger was a piezo pad attached to a microprocessor. "Hey, why is that guy playing a drum solo on his belly?"
    • Actually, that's not too far-fetched. I was just thinking yesterday about the possibility that, assuming an adequately determined operative, we might see surgically-implanted explosive devices eventually become a reality (and given that terrorists to-date have shown they're willing to spend months if not years in training just to blow themselves up, it's not inconceivable that they'd be willing to spend a few weeks walking around with a lump in their abdominal cavity -- a lump that goes BOOM upon a good sw
      • I don't see why you'd have to surgically implant them. Just do what the heroin smugglers used to do and wrap the bombs in condoms and swallow 'em. I figured you'd put em on a timer, but as the other guy points out, maybe there's other ways to detonate them.
      • I had a somewhat macabre discussion with my father a few thanksgivings ago about surgically implanting bombs and such in pets. When the fur grows back no scars are visible. They won't act nervous. You could do it months in advance. You could feasibly kidnap someone's pet, implant a bomb with an altimeter in it and then sew them back up (so the pet is "missing" for a few days - some pet owners won't think twice about that). It's easier than finding a willing suicide bomber...
    • a potential bomber would have to be really sure that the flight would leave on time. ;)

      In other news, Chicago-O'Hare International has just been awarded the title of "Safest Airport in the World."

    • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:53PM (#15891090)
      You don't even need that. A latex prosthesis beer belly could hold enough liquid explosives to take a sizeable chunk out of a plane. The detonator can be something as simple as a shorting-out wire, surely. A modified watch could give out enough juice to do the deed.

      I'm just a regular guy, and I thought of it, so if it's viable, some bad dude has thought of it too. The best protection from this sort of attack is to not make someone hate you enough to want to attack you. We can cry "ooh they hate our freedoms", but their problems are more tangible than that. meh. flame on.

      • A modified watch could give out enough juice to do the deed.

        You mean like a Casio digital watch [wikipedia.org]? That is a very suspicious thing to wear these days, and can easily earn you a one way ticket to Guantanamo bay.

        • Well, making an egg timer is not much harder than wiring up a 555 and 4017 decade counter... EE 101 stuff, really. So if there is a will, there will be a way.

          The good news is that a bomb on the inside on a Muslim (swallowed or rectally inserted) is unlikely to do much damage to those on the outside: the fast-flying metal/glass fragments is what kills, not the shockwave per se.

          The bad news is that something IS going on at the moment, with a whole bunch of Mulsims buying up cell phones by the 1000's:

          http://ww [wnem.com]
          • "The good news is that a bomb on the inside on a Muslim (swallowed or rectally inserted) is unlikely to do much damage to those on the outside: the fast-flying metal/glass fragments is what kills, not the shockwave per se."

            Keeping in mind that in the scenario we're talking about, the terrist is on a plane. The shockwave should be enough to tear a hole in the hull. At least, it should be if explosives act like they do on the A-Team, which is where I've learned everything I know about explosives.
            • Yes, I agree. I was actually thinking in broader terms, not just about planes.

              In that case it is a good news is that a Muslim cannot turn himself into a claymore by swallowing a pack and walking into a Yankee stadium; he'd have to strap a shitload of gear and can be picked off from afar.

              Also, there is a difference between 100 people on a plane going down and 3000 in two towers going down; so as bad as it sounds, shooting down hijacked planes might be a good idea after all.
            • You, sir, need to go watch the MythBusters "Explosive Decompression" episode. It takes a fair bit of pressure to breach a modern jetliner hull, and even then, all you have is a hole that's bleeding air out of the airplane (until someone plugs it with something). A passenger would likely do as much (physical) damage by opening one of the emergency exits. The emotional trauma of being splattered with pieces of the person across the aisle from you would be a bit much though. But not enough to crash the jet
      • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:38PM (#15891407) Homepage
        A beer belly wouldn't look quite right on a Muslim.
      • Free [theepochtimes.com] speech [blogs.com] go to hell [zombietime.com]. Why don't you get it?

        My favorite painting of mohammed [zombietime.com] is by Salvador Dalí

    • Just wait until terrorists start swallowing bombs...

      Never happen.

      People willing to die for their beliefs would never do such a thing.

    • What if terrorists start bombing security checkpoints? If just walking through a detector could set off an explosive, what would be the new security method? Manual pat-downs? Strip searches for everyone?

      They would simply have to shut EVERY SINGLE airport becuase the detection method would be a target.

    • by Leuf ( 918654 )
      What about their plan to produce deadly flammable methane gas on the plane?
  • Airlines need to stop losing so many bags now. There is no reason their supply chain should have such massive loss. Also I believe that hotels will start providing toothpaste along with shampoo in every room now that we cannot carry it with us.


    This is a major change in how we travel, but we all will get used to it with time. I would rather have to have to buy new toothpaste because the airline won't get my bags to me for another day than risk having a loved one killed crossing the pond.

    • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:05PM (#15891178)
      I would rather have to have to buy new toothpaste because the airline won't get my bags to me for another day than risk having a loved one killed crossing the pond.

      The only way to ensure someone has no risk of being killed doing something is to kill them beforehand.

      I would rather your perception on risk in no way affects how the rest of us conduct our travel.
    • by lottameez ( 816335 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:08PM (#15891201)
      Are you serious? If you don't want to risk getting killed crossing the pond, I suggest you just don't fly. You can't prevent terrorism thru the so-called security you go thru at the airport. It's not security, its a huge, costly waste of time masquerading as effective security procedures. How hard do you think it will be for terrorists just to put some "toothpaste" in a non-metal container and just sail thru security anyways? So, while they are doing that, the rest of us get to stand around like friggin bare-footed, thirsty sheep going thru the turnstile. Are you okay with full body pat-downs next?

      Put me on the airline that doesn't screw with this. I'm more worried about getting killed on the drive to the airport.

      Sorry for the rant. Your sig. is really funny.
    • How about the risk of them getting run down by a cab crossing the street? It's far more likely. Given the logic of some of these measures, the appropriate thing to do would be to make sure no one was allowed to walk anywhere.

      And, as for putting stuff in my luggage... The main reason I carried items in my carry-on was so they didn't get stolen. If it was in my hands, I could watch it. I'm not even allowed to lock the stuff I turn over to the airline. (And would you trust minimum-wage baggage handlers?)
    • OK, who wants to buy shares in my chain of airport barber shops?
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:37PM (#15890973) Homepage Journal
    Null357 asked "With a "war" on "terror" there are going to be casualties, my water consumption/music listening/laptop using/game playing/phone usage habits shouldn't be at the top of the list."

    Sorry, but your not at the top of the list. Your a casualty of the other side's attempt to make you a real casualty.

    What would you have the government do? The media has already handcuffed them with the help of paticular interest groups from doing what is truly effective, profiling. So whats left? Simple, inconvienence EVERYONE. After all its "only fair". Hence my mother gets harrased trying to board flights with her dog. One day some of ya'll are going to grow up and realize that "the man" isn't out to get you. He is out to get the bad guy and the real problem is that the most effective ways are denied to him because of political correctness.

    The truth is that there is a group of people out there who only want to kill. You are no more an individual target of their aspirations as you are no more the direct target of restrictions of what you are allowed to take on a plane with you. These people don't care. The fact that they are willing to die to kill others means that we going to suffer some extraordinary restrictions just to make sure they don't get the chance. You want to blame someone, blame them. I know, its far easier to blame our government and Bush (in fact its popular among some segments) but the truth is that they didn't create this enemy. Its been around a long time. Time and technology have given them a means to hit people other than in their home areas.

    This will continue until this group is either rendered harmless or their attempts so futile they go back to doing what they did before.

    honestly, what would you expect of your government with regards to this situation? There is no reasonable defense that will work against an unreasonable enemy. The sooner that is acknowleged the sooner many will realize just what a major problem it truly is.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Summary of parent: "Bend over and grab your ankles. The government promises to give back all this extra power just as soon as the perpetual emergency is over."
    • What would you have the government do? The media has already handcuffed them with the help of paticular interest groups from doing what is truly effective, profiling. So whats left? Simple, inconvienence EVERYONE. After all its "only fair". Hence my mother gets harrased trying to board flights with her dog. One day some of ya'll are going to grow up and realize that "the man" isn't out to get you. He is out to get the bad guy and the real problem is that the most effective ways are denied to him because of

    • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland@ya h o o .com> on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:06PM (#15891183) Homepage Journal
      " One day some of ya'll are going to grow up and realize that "the man" isn't out to get you. "
      and perhaps one day you'll bother to open a history book.

      "I know, its far easier to blame our government and Bush (in fact its popular among some segments) but the truth is that they didn't create this enemy."

      Bush failed attempt to deal with this issue has done nothing but create more terrorists.

      "The media has already handcuffed them with the help of paticular interest groups from doing what is truly effective, profiling. So whats left?"

      The media holds the government accountable. The only thing accountability can handcuff is illegal actions.

      "This will continue until this group is either rendered harmless or their attempts so futile they go back to doing what they did before."
      See, some people know this, that is why there created a war on somthing that can never be conquered.

      "The truth is that there is a group of people out there who only want to kill."
      you abviously do not understand what is happening. What there are is people who will kill to fullfill a goal. There where somepeople whon would kill to get amaerica out of the mid east. Now there are a whole bunch more people who want to kill Americans to revenge dead civillians.

      "honestly, what would you expect of your government with regards to this situation? "
      1) Go after the specific enemy, i.e. alquade
      2) not use this issue as an excuse to push there agende to go into other countries and establish military bases.
      3) not lie to the people
      4) increase talks and communication with people in the mid-east
      5) continue good relations with our allies
      6) give the military real adjectives within there training
      7) increase law enforcement while respecting civil liberties
      8) government oversight on military contracts a'la Trumen committee
      9) educate and finance law enforcement. This is how you catch terrorist.
      10) obey the law.

      Yes, the government is only out to get the 'bad guys'. unfortuantly everyone is now a bad guy to some degree.

      Of course, when you deviate from a recorded pattern you are suspect. When all your patterns are recorded, any deviation will make you a suspect. Look at the history of any large body of people who where monitored.

      I don't mind a law that says someoen can tap my wire, but needs to prove to a court of law they have cause. even if they present it to a court 7 days after the action.
      But, if the court rules against thenm I want to be notified, and I want the request removed from all records.

      As for this recent incident, you are aware that there was a nearly identical plot in 1995 that was stopped? So clearly they do not need these new regulation to stop them.

    • If you mean racial profiling, you are an idiot. It won't work, as there is no 'evil' race. There might be a higher percentage of Muslims that are terrorists than say asians, but 0.00001% of a billion is still 100. Profile asians as safe, and yippee, you only miss 100 terrorists, at the inconvenience of tens of thousands of innocent muslims.

      If you mean behavioral profiling, do you honestly think it isn't being done?

      As far as there being a 'group of people who only want to kill', there isn't a group, just man
      • If you mean racial profiling, you are an idiot.

        He didn't say that, did he?

        If you mean behavioral profiling, do you honestly think it isn't being done?

        Actually, it isn't, being as they are searching cripples in wheelchairs and preemie infants in random checks. I mean, if the "Wheel of Rights Infringement" comes up on a soccer mom with one small carry-on bag and two kids in tow, don't you think they should move on? I assure you, it never happens. "Zero tolerance" for all.

      • As far as there being a 'group of people who only want to kill', there isn't a group, just many, many individuals that end up defying attempts to put them in a group. They cut across ages, nationalities, races, religions.

        Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Oh, wait, you were serious? Did you forget to take your meds again? There's absolutely no way anyone in a post 9/11 world can actually say there is not a group of people who desire to kill everyone else, and by that refer to Al Qaeda and like-minded murderous thugs, and not be
        • by mr100percent ( 57156 ) on Saturday August 12, 2006 @12:06AM (#15893284) Homepage Journal

          In 1985, Air India Flight 182 was blown up over the Atlantic by:

          a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
          b. Bill O'Reilly
          c. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
          d. Indian Sikh extremists, in retaliation for the Indian Army's attack on the Golden Temple shrine in Amritsar

          In 1986, who attempted to smuggle three pounds of explosives onto an El Al jetliner bound from London to Tel Aviv?

          a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
          b. Michael Smerconish
          c. Bob Mould
          d. A pregnant Irishwoman named Anne Murphy

          In 1962, in the first-ever successful sabotage of a commercial jet, a Continental Airlines 707 was blown up with dynamite over Missouri by:

          a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
          b. Ann Coulter
          c. Henry Rollins
          d. Thomas Doty, a 34-year-old American passenger, as part of an insurance scam

          In 1994, who nearly succeeding in skyjacking a DC-10 and crashing it into the Federal Express Corp. headquarters?

          a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
          b. Michelle Malkin
          c. Charlie Rose
          d. Auburn Calloway, [wikipedia.org] an off-duty FedEx employee and resident of Memphis, Tenn.

          In 1974, who stormed a Delta Air Lines DC-9 at Baltimore-Washington Airport, intending to crash it into the White House, and shot both pilots?

          a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
          b. Joe Scarborough
          c. Spalding Gray
          d. Samuel Byck, [wikipedia.org] an unemployed tire salesman from Philadelphia

          The answer, in all cases, is D.

      • The people that are dangerous are all Muslims of one sort or another. There are no Jews, Christians, Zoastrians, or Shinto-ists out to blow up airliners.

        We can eliminate the threat completely by eliminating the Muslim's ability to interact in Western society until they decide to be civilized according to our quaint definitions. Their objective in Western society is not to learn and profit but to convert and kill. So, move them out. All of them.
    • by harks ( 534599 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:24PM (#15891308)
      Realize also that if we adopted a profiling policy, we are effectively telling the terrorists "If you make yourselves look like X, you will not be hassled when boarding a plane."
      • by susano_otter ( 123650 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @05:01PM (#15891909) Homepage
        Forcing the enemy to adapt to your tactics is a fundamental principle of victory.

        Profiling would require terrorists to try to beat the profile.

        Now, beating the profile wouldn't be as easy as it sounds; you just can't take a twenty-something Durka male and make him look like an eighty-something Dystopian female. Elaborate disguises would stand out on their own, regardless of the profiling policies. They would be a risky and failure-prone solution to profiling.

        You'd pretty much have to start recruiting outside your most sympathetic demographic, to find people that didn't fit the profile. And that itself would be very risky and failure-prone. After all, not fitting the profile, your prospective new recruits are more likely to turn you in than join your cell.

        Either way, or even if you came up with another solution than the two I've thought of, it's still a new technology as far as you're concerned. You still have to test it, experiment with it, try repeatedly until you get it right.

        Suddenly your current tactics, refined through many years of R&D, no longer work. Many more years of R&D are now necessary. You have to start all over again, with an all-new learning curve. Your mistakes are going to increase in number overnight, and formerly "quiet" operations will now be "noisy" operations. Your whole jihad becomes more noticeable, and easier for security forces to engage.

        As you improve your new tactics, profiling will lose some of its effectiveness, of course. But as long as jihad is appealing in some circumstances more than others, profiling will always be a threat to your operations.

        Meanwhile, as its effectiveness is reduced, profiling will be replaced as the top weapon by other weapons, better-tuned to the new tactics you've been trying to perfect since profiling ruined your old ones. And since you needed some time to practice these new tactics, you've been giving off clues as to how your tactics were evolving. Vigilant security forces will be able to shut down your new tactics even faster than your old ones. So now you have to adapt and change tactics again.

        Pretty soon, you're spending so much time trying out new tactics that you don't have any time to put together a successful and devastating major attack. Plus, with all the fuckups that attend any experimental new technology, your entire organization is falling apart. More test runs are getting busted sooner by security forces, fewer recruits are able to complete a training course without getting caught or killed, etc.

        If nothing else, profiling would be an excellent first step in keeping jihadis on the hop, rather than giving them a free ride to mass murder.
    • The media has already handcuffed them with the help of paticular interest groups from doing what is truly effective, profiling. So whats left? Simple, inconvienence EVERYONE. After all its "only fair". Hence my mother gets harrased trying to board flights with her dog. One day some of ya'll are going to grow up and realize that "the man" isn't out to get you. He is out to get the bad guy and the real problem is that the most effective ways are denied to him because of political correctness.

      Profiling is def

    • "the man" isn't out to get you

      The man may be too incompetent to find me and get me, but I'm pretty sure that the corporations are out to get... my money. This whole "banning food and liquids" thing is waaay too convinient since that means you're now forced to buy the insanely overpriced stuff that is sold by the airline on board the plane. It's almost certain that the airlines jumped on the opportunity to eliminate one of their major sources of lost revenue. This clearly doesn't make you safer ["oh no! he's

      • um.. you don't *need* to eat during a flight (even a cross country flight if you ate before boarding). And all the commercial flights I've been on the only drinks you have to pay for are alcoholic. Remember to ask for the can/bottle when the stewardess drops by with the drink cart so you won't have to keep paging them.

        This is a response to a very specific threat: terrorists were planning on smuggling dangerous chemicals (or dangerous combinations) disguised as innocuous liquids. The solution to ban every
    • "The truth is that there is a group of people out there who only want to kill."

      The very basic problem that you are overlooking is that, because of human nature, 'The Man' can easily become those same evil people who only want to kill. Wasn't Stalin just trying to help the poor to get out of being exploited by the wealthy? Would you argue that Hitler was just protecting the German people from the threat of communists and Jews? Wasn't he "The Man," yet still out to get people? And no, this is not an exampl
    • I'm going to skip all of the many things I have to say in response except for one. We can actually blame the US government to a large extent as the original source of our troubles. It's only the US' deep involvement in the Middle East that created any hatred against us. If our presidents didn't hold hands with Saudi princes, our military stayed out of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc., and we didn't send billions of dollars to Israel every year no one there would hate us. We're not hated for our freedom. We'r
      • Then why did the Barbary Pirates hate us? We had been a country for maybe 10 years when they started capturing our ships and holding our seamen hostage.

        Also, are you honestly suggesting we should've ignored the actions of the Soviet Union during the cold war? We were trying to keep them out of the Middle East so they couldn't lock up the oil supply (an oil supply that was desperately needed in Europe, though not so much in the US). So maybe we did bad things then, and mistakes were made. That's no excuse fo
        • I'm simply stating there's no good reason for us to be there today. We can live without the small percent (13% is it?) of our oil supply they give us. It's certainly not worth the carnage for the slight lowering of US energy costs. We can't adjust the past. But if we stay away for the foreseeable future we'll reduce the cause of the hatred.
    • The problem with profiling is that (1) it tends to be ineffective in the long term and (2) it tends to harrass a bunch of innocent people. In the first case, profiling is based on what has been attempted in the past, and is ineffective defense against innovation in terror or other crime. For instance, we may be looking for young single impresenable males because those are who have in the past been terrorists, and therefore miss the innovation of using older married men. Or in the drug trade, we miss the
    • > The truth is that there is a group of people out there who only want to kill.

      Nonsense - you could just as much say that about the Pentagon. People usually want to kill strangers because they're really angry, or because they're at war and their leaders have whipped them into a killing frenzy ("Shock and Awe, Yee-hah!" isn't much different from "Jihad against the Great Satan!").

      And it's not just religious fanatics who are willing to get killed in the process of killing their enemies.

      • There's lots
    • Isn't the fact that this plot was foiled proof that there is a reasonable defense that will work against an unreasonable enemy? Here's an example of police action overcoming terrorism, warrants and all. So why would you say, "There is no reasonable defense that will work against an unreasonable enemy. The sooner that is acknowleged the sooner many will realize just what a major problem it truly is."?

      Here's a blast from the past:

      "Senator Kerry has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all.

  • Flying naked... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mi ( 197448 )

    Pretty much anything can be made into an explosive strong enough to bring down an airplane — a rather easy target, once you are inside it.

    I suspect, we'll be flying naked without any "carry-on" luggage whatsoever — cloth-curtains separating the male and female sections of the planes...

    It will be bizarre, but we'll get used to it as we did to having to present ID, having to part with scissors and box cutters, etc.

    • Another option might be to make remote/computer controlled microplanes. If each plane only carried 5 - or even 25 people - there would not be as much incentive to destroying it. And it looks like the drone technology is actually pretty good, at least with military spy aircraft.
      • Multiplying aircrafts on already bloated skies, while fuel prices are climbing up the ceiling. That is a brilliant idea. This will surely make flying much more expensive and with so much delays at the airport that walking the distance would probably be worth it.

        Are you sure you're not working for an airline and/or fuel company?

    • Perhaps a better solution would be to knock everyone unconcious before boarding, just as when you're having a tooth pulled.

      Not only would this protect us from terrorists, but it would make flying suck less. Much less. Hey, I might even start flying again if they do that.

    • After terrorists figure out away of packing explosives into clothing (plastic satchels sewn between linings), we'll all be given disposable orange jumpsuits to wear.

      After terrorists figure out how to make explosives out of in-cabin airline parts, we'll all be wearing handcuffs.

      Then they'll move back to targeting trains and buses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:41PM (#15891007)
    Is anyone else more angry about the hassle this causes, than anything else? Terrorists spread terror, so they've hit their mark. By being foiled the plot does an amazing amount of damage on its own, spreading FUD. ... when there are plenty of other ways to kill/be killed that airlines have no control over. I am more angry at terrorists for making American privacy close(er) to extinction than anything else. ...

    Why does the scapegoat have to be the

    When the terrorists first attacked, we were told to keep living our lives and not let the attacks change our lives. The attacks didn't - our Government has.

    As far as I'm concerned, the terrorists have occomplished one of their goals: we are all living in fear. The terrorists just threaten us and we end up having to have more of our civil liberties taken away.

    Congratualations, Bin Laden! You are a fucking genius! You've won. The US is now a cowering giant.

    Watch out world, the trouble with cowering giants, they can turn into the worst bullies! I heard a woman on talk radio this morning who thinks that terrorists should be put into old military bases - in effect, she was suggesting we creat concentration camps for Muslims.

    There's another Holocost coming! But this time its:

    Multi state

    Against the Muslims

    and no one will stop it!

    • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:26PM (#15891723) Homepage Journal
      (Neither is NASA's tape problem, but that's another issue.)


      Here, the cure is the same as the malady it is supposed to be curing. Yeah, yeah, I know, sometimes you have to do things you don't like, but that's really not the issue. The issue is not whether X, Y or Z is necessary, the issue is whether X, Y or Z is substantially different from what they are remedies for.


      If you wage a war to prevent a war, you still have a war. The war you attempted to prevent may now not take place, but since it has been substituted for something that is essentially identical, that isn't much of an achievement.


      The biggest problem is when you don't, in fact, prevent whatever it is - or even causes it when it would probably never have occured on its own. Then everyone gets to suffer twice, quite needlessly. See World Wars I and II for details.


      The current instability in Russia, and quite possibly the two Chechen wars as well, are likely a byproduct of Western countries depriving Gorbechev of the aid he needed to stabilize things after Glastnost. Ronald Reagan and George Bush I denied that aid on political grounds. True, we'll never know what would have happened if a concerted effort had been made at that time to bring Russia to a healthier economic condition. Things might have ended up worse. However, by waging a political war to prevent that "might be", conditions deteriorated to the point where actual wars were fought and actual people died.


      If we look at the current instabilities, it is in populations that have been neglected, where poverty is high, life expectency is low, purpose and meaning are seldom to be found. It would seem obvious to me that smashing property and killing wildly is not going to improve things in such a climate, but this has been the typical response. As responses go, it is flat-out guaranteed to be counter-productive.


      There's an interesting article in The Guardian [guardian.co.uk] (sorry, Teh Grauniad) newspaper where an anti-terror expert claims that 95% of terrorists are acting on secular or political grievances. (Notice the word "grievance". It's important.) The implication of the Palestinian situation, the Russian situation and the Middle East situation is obvious - if we created a tolerable society where we can, and avoided creating an intolerable one otherwise, 95% of the problem would go away on its own, leaving a paltry 5% for the super-paranoid police and intelligence organizations to fret over.


      (I'm not sure I would trust them with much more than 1/20th of their current workload, anyway.)

  • by mugnyte ( 203225 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:43PM (#15891025) Journal

      Au Contraire! When you step off a plane at your destination, be sure to pick up your free-refill selection of lighters, pens, pencils, toothpaste, keychains, etc. Every airport will now have giant barrels of them.
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:47PM (#15891046) Homepage
    Is it just me or is Timothy trying to test how many pictures a /. post can hold? 7, that's got to be some sort of record, right?
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:52PM (#15891081) Journal
    I didn't comment yesterday on this, and thought about it last night.

    Every time there's an environmental regulation (clean air, clean water) or some social program which impacts business, there's an instant outcry from the right side of the aisle that there needs to be an economic impact study to determine if these new regulations are really financially viable. So, where is the cry now? We're looking at billions upon billions of lost productivity, likely slowing of the economy, more people losing jobs and healthcare (and other) benefits beacuse of the increased "downtime" due to these draconian flight regulations.

    There were what, 10 aircraft in all, tops? I want to see the cost of the aircraft and the insurance value of the couple thousand people balanced against the lost productivity. Yes, call me cynical.

    Oh, and I'd just like to point out that they caught these folks without the ban in place, and only catching the extra one or two planes that might slip by just makes my economic argument that much more salient.
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:07PM (#15891587)
    There are a lot more people, far more densely packed, in a typical airport secrity check area.
    Why not just blow up one of those? The building and the equipment there is probably more valuable
    than an aircraft, and a terrorist would not even have to do all that careful planning. You might not
    be able to get through the checkpoint with so much as a plastic fork or a bottle of hair conditioner,
    but you can certainly walk right up *to* the crowded checkpoint with anything you can carry.

    Frankly I'm surprised it hasn't happened.
  • In some way, this can be nothing than the protectionism of Microsoft. Rather than addressing why Microsoft has been allowed to be a monopoly and hold so much influence while giving so little back to the world vs. what they have taken from it (the funds you see Gates giving away are technically our money). The DHS should be pushing Microsoft to spend some of that monopoly gained profit to spend that on fixing the issues once and for all.

    In the end, Microsoft is being supported by them. What the DHS will b

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