Entries Tagged "bombs"

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More Links on the Boston Terrorist Attacks

Max Abrahms has two sensible essays.

Probably the ultimate in security theater: Williams-Sonoma stops selling pressure cookers in the Boston area “out of respect.” They say it’s temporary. (I bought a Williams-Sonoma pressure cooker last Christmas; I wonder if I’m now on a list.)

A tragedy: Sunil Tripathi, whom Reddit and other sites wrongly identified as one of the bombers, was found dead in the Providence River. I hope it’s not a suicide.

And worst of all, New York Mayor Bloomberg scares me more than the terrorists ever could:

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday the country’s interpretation of the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.

“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex world where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”

Terrorism’s effectiveness doesn’t come from the terrorist acts; it comes from our reactions to it. We need leaders who aren’t terrorized.

EDITED TO ADD (4/29): Only indirectly related, but the Kentucky Derby is banning “removable lens cameras” for security reasons.

EDITED TO ADD (4/29): And a totally unscientific CNN opinion poll: 57% say no to: “Is it justifiable to violate certain civil liberties in the name of national security?”

EDITED TO ADD (4/29): It seems that Sunil Tripathi died well before the Boston bombing. So while his family was certainly affected by the false accusations, he wasn’t.

EDITED TO ADD (4/29): On the difference between mass murder and terrorism:

What the United States means by terrorist violence is, in large part, “public violence some weirdo had the gall to carry out using a weapon other than a gun.”

EDITED TO ADD (5/14): On fear fatigue—and a good modeling of how to be indomitable. On the surprising dearth of terrorists. Why emergency medical response has improved since 9/11. What if the Boston bombers had been shooters instead. More on Williams-Sonoma: Shortly thereafter, they released a statement apologizing to anyone who might be offended. Don’t be terrorized. “The new terrorism”—from 2011 (in five parts, and this is the first one). This is kind of wordy, but it’s an interesting essay on the nature of fear…and cats. Glenn Greenwald on reactions to the bombing. How a 20-year-old Saudi victim of the bombing was instantly, and baselessly, converted by the US media and government into a “suspect.” Four effective responses to terrorism. People being terrorized. On not letting the bad guys win. Resilience. More resilience Why terrorism works. Data shows that terrorism has declined. Mass hysteria as a terrorist weapon.

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 10:27 AMView Comments

Random Links on the Boston Terrorist Attack

Encouraging poll data says that maybe Americans are starting to have realistic fears about terrorism, or at least are refusing to be terrorized.

Good essay by Scott Atran on terrorism and our reaction.

Reddit apologizes. I think this is a big story. The Internet is going to help in everything, including trying to identify terrorists. This will happen whether or not the help is needed, wanted, or even helpful. I think this took the FBI by surprise. (Here’s a good commentary on this sort of thing.)

Facial recognition software didn’t help. I agree with this, though; it will only get better.

EDITED TO ADD (4/25): “Hapless, Disorganized, and Irrational“: John Mueller and Mark Stewart describe the Boston—and most other—terrorists.

Posted on April 25, 2013 at 6:42 AMView Comments

The Boston Marathon Bomber Manhunt

I generally give the police a lot of tactical leeway in times like this. The very armed and very dangerous suspects warranted extraordinary treatment. They were perfectly capable of killing again, taking hostages, planting more bombs—and we didn’t know the extent of the plot or the group. That’s why I didn’t object to the massive police dragnet, the city-wide lock down, and so on.

Ross Anderson has a different take:

…a million people were under virtual house arrest; the 19-year-old fugitive from justice happened to be a Muslim. Whatever happened to the doctrine that infringements of one liberty to protect another should be necessary and proportionate?

In the London bombings, four idiots killed themselves in the first incident with a few dozen bystanders, but the second four failed and ran for it when their bombs didn’t go off. It didn’t occur to anyone to lock down London. They were eventually tracked down and arrested, together with their support team. Digital forensics played a big role; the last bomber to be caught left the country and changed his SIM, but not his IMEI. It’s next to impossible for anyone to escape nowadays if the authorities try hard.

He has a point, although I’m not sure I agree with it.

Opinions?

EDITED TO ADD (4/20): This makes the argument very well. On the other hand, readers are rightfully pointing out that the lock down was in response to the shooting of a campus police officer, a carjacking, a firefight, and a vehicle chase with thrown bombs: the sort of thing that pretty much only happens in the movies.

EDITED TO ADD (4/20): More commentary on this Slashdot thread.

Posted on April 20, 2013 at 8:19 AMView Comments

Initial Thoughts on the Boston Bombings

I rewrote my “refuse to be terrorized” essay for the Atlantic. David Rothkopf (author of the great book Power, Inc.) wrote something similar, and so did John Cole.

It’s interesting to see how much more resonance this idea has today than it did a dozen years ago. If other people have written similar essays, please post links in the comments.

EDITED TO ADD (4/16): Two good essays.

EDITED TO ADD (4/16): I did a Q&A on the Washington Post blog. And—I can hardly believe it—President Obama said “the American people refuse to be terrorized” in a press briefing today.

EDITED TO ADD (4/16): I did a podcast interview and another press interview.

EDITED TO ADD (4/16): This, on the other hand, is pitiful.

EDITED TO ADD (4/17): Another audio interview with me.

EDITED TO ADD (4/19): I have done a lot of press this week. Here’s a link to a “To the Point” segment, and two Huffington Post Live segments. I was on The Steve Malzberg Show, which I didn’t realize was shouting conservative talk radio until it was too late.

EDITED TO ADD (4/20): That Atlantic essay had 40,000 Facebook likes and 6800 Tweets. The editor told me it had about 360,000 hits. That makes it the most popular piece I’ve ever written.

EDITED TO ADD (5/14): More links here.

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 9:19 AMView Comments

Friday Squid Blogging: Bomb Discovered in Squid at Market

Really:

An unexploded bomb was found inside a squid when the fish was slaughtered at a fish market in Guangdong province.

Oddly enough, this doesn’t seem to be the work of terrorists:

The stall owner, who has been selling fish for 10 years, told the newspaper the 1-meter-long squid might have mistaken the bomb for food.

Clearly there’s much to this story that remains unreported.

More news articles.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 4:19 PMView Comments

The Explosive from the Latest Foiled Al Qaeda Underwear Bomb Plot

Interesting:

Although the plot was disrupted before a particular airline was targeted and tickets were purchased, al Qaeda’s continued attempts to attack the U.S. speak to the organization’s persistence and willingness to refine specific approaches to killing. Unlike Abdulmutallab’s bomb, the new device contained lead azide, an explosive often used as a detonator. If the new underwear bomb had been used, the bomber would have ignited the lead azide, which would have triggered a more powerful explosive, possibly military-grade explosive pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN).

Lead azide and PETN were key components in a 2010 plan to detonate two bombs sent from Yemen and bound for Chicago—one in a cargo aircraft and the other in the cargo hold of a passenger aircraft. In that plot, al-Qaeda hid bombs in printer cartridges, allowing them to slip past cargo handlers and airport screeners. Both bombs contained far more explosive material than the 80 grams of PETN that Abdulmutallab smuggled onto his Northwest Airlines flight.

With the latest device, al Asiri appears to have been able to improve on the underwear bomb supplied to Abdulmutallab, says Joan Neuhaus Schaan, a fellow in homeland security and terrorism for Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

The interview is also interesting, and I am especially pleased to see this last answer:

What has been the most effective means of disrupting terrorism attacks?
As with bombs that were being sent from Yemen to Chicago as cargo, this latest plot was discovered using human intelligence rather than screening procedures and technologies. These plans were disrupted because of proactive mechanisms put in place to stop terrorism rather than defensive approaches such as screening.

Posted on May 25, 2012 at 6:43 AMView Comments

U.S. Exports Terrorism Fears

To New Zealand:

United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has warned the New Zealand Government about the latest terrorist threat known as “body bombers.”

[…]

“Do we have specific credible evidence of a [body bomb] threat today? I would not say that we do, however, the importance is that we all lean forward.”

Why the headline of this article is “NZ warned over ‘body bombers,'” and not “Napolitano admits ‘no credible evidence’ of body bomber threat” is beyond me.

Posted on May 15, 2012 at 6:17 AMView Comments

Overreacting to Potential Bombs

This is a ridiculous overreaction:

The police bomb squad was called to 2 World Financial Center in lower Manhattan at midday when a security guard reported a package that seemed suspicious. Brookfield Properties, which runs the property, ordered an evacuation as a precaution.

That’s the entire building, a 44-story, 2.5-million-square-foot office building. And why?

The bomb squad determined the package was a fake explosive that looked like a 1940s-style pineapple grenade. It was mounted on a plaque that said “Complaint department: Take a number,” with a number attached to the pin.

It was addressed to someone at one of the financial institutions housed there and discovered by someone in the mail room.

If the grenade had been real, it could have destroyed—what?—a room. Of course, there’s no downside to Brookfield Properties overreacting.

Posted on May 8, 2012 at 7:03 AMView Comments

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.