We were told a couple of weeks ago that the terrorists are not smart or skilled enough to have chemical or biological weapons.
…These groups are generally more concerned with causing harm than gathering information, so their techniques run more along the lines of denial of service and outright destruction. While their long-term goals are usually something vaguely reasonable, like the reunification of Gondawanaland or the return of all cows to the wild, their near-term goals are things like revenge, chaos, and blood-soaked publicity. Bombings are a favorite; kidnappings also work well. It makes a big international splash but eventually these guys will figure out that a lot more damage is done when O’Hare air traffic control starts vectoring planes into each other. Or that if they can hack the airline reservation system to find out which 747 is taking the congressional delegation to the south of France this summer, their bombings will be all that more effective….and since terrorists generally consider themselves to be personally in a state of war, they have a very high risk-tolerance…
…They have minimal expertise, but can purchase it. They have minimal access,
but they can purchase it…
–Secrets and Lies, Bruce Schneier
All of the above quotes were going through my head as the news reports and reassurances came in. The terrorists are dumb. The terrorists do not have the ability to make chemical or biological weapons. The terrorists are backed by Osama Bin Laden. Well, I have a little equation for you: dumb + $ = purchased skills/intelligence.
Just the other day, it was reported on NPR that now the terrorists are somehow connected with crop dusters. Nothing to worry about, mind you. We have it all under control. Go about your lives. There were only about 16 terrorists. They are all dead now. Nothing to worry about. We have 300 people connected with the terrorism in custody, being questioned, and are looking for 300 more. Wait, what? They don’t have any chemicals or biological agents to deploy, but they have crop dusters?! There are only 16, but suddenly there are 600?
Should we make box cutters illegal now? How about bad thoughts? Ground the crop dusters! Well, we kind of have this intelligence that we forgot to mention until now that many of the countries in the middle east have access to anthrax, smallpox, bubonic plague, and mad cow disease. It kind of makes me happy to be a non-beef eater. Most crops, hence most crop dusters, are in the midwest–with the cows. Anthrax vaccine anyone? Oh, wait. We don’t have enough for everyone in the nation. Also, most people are violently allergic to the vaccine. Nifty. When Steven King’s vision The Stand becomes reality and everyone gets Cap’n Tripps, I wonder if I’ll go with Mister Flagg to Vegas or the old lady to Colorado? I like Vegas.
In unrelated news, two people have died in accidents at Knotts Berry Farm in the past month.