Terrorism

Domestic Terror: Destroying the Economy of America, for Some Time

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A "not technically feasible" terror plan involving blowing up jet fuel supplies and pipelines from a guy who sounds like he'd be incapable of intelligently planning a raid on a refrigerator ("Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow … they love JFK—he's like the man….this can destroy the economy of America for some time") leads to four arrests and big headlines: JFK airport is safe….for now!

See here for a survey of how many of these other domestic terror threat arrests have panned out.

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  1. I’d like to know how they thought they were going to blow up several miles of pipeline? At best, C4 could knock out supplies, but unless the pipeline is gravity fed and not running liquid full, the best you could hope for is a very localized fire being fed until someone shuts the nearest block valve.

    Its good to know terrorists are as inept as they apparently are.

  2. All I heard and saw on the news were the claims and worries from the investigators and prosecutors, and I was frankly astonished at how inflated and overwrought they were.

    Does anyone know any details of the actual plans? Unless you are able to get air into the explosion as well, blowing up fuel tanks, pipelines, etc., is simply not that destructive.

    A “not technically feasible” terror plan involving blowing up jet fuel supplies and pipelines from a guy who sounds like he’d be incapable of intelligently planning a raid on a refrigerator

    Perhaps Al Qaeda’s strategy is to plan and have the authorities discover so many incompetent plots that the authorities let down their guard and presume that nothing really bad could ever happen.

  3. They are all clowns until they get lucky and succeed. Honestly, if they had caught Atta and company on 9-10, they would have looked just as rediculous as these guys. Highjack a plane with a box cutter? That sounds just as infeasible as this stuff.

    That is the problem. These guys are not Lex Luther. They are morons. But, it just isn’t that hard to kill a bunch of people. No one is going to confuse Tim McVeigh and his little flunky for rocket scientists, but they still managed 162 people.

  4. They hijacked the planes with bomb threats, not box cutters.

  5. John-

    The difference between Atta and a lot of these clowns, the difference that made him so dangerous, was his meticulous planning. He flew the routes that he eventually attacked, he flew several times, he noted plane layouts, he noted routines of passengers and crew, and he paid attention to every little detail. Supposedly he even went to the WTC and got a GPS reading. Everybody on his teams had a specialty and a role, with a division of labor between pilots and muscle. They could do a lot with modest tools only because of their preparation.

    That attention to detail is what a lot of the idiots caught since then have lacked. Thank God most of them are less organized.

    A big part of it (correct me if I’m wrong) is that Atta and some of his crew went to training camps. Those camps, like a military boot camp, do more than just get a person in shape, teach him to shoot, teach him to march, and pound some doctrine into his head. They teach people to follow orders, work as teams, and make and execute plans. They also produce a group of people who have gone through the same indoctrination and hence can work together with a level of trust.

    Since the invasion of Afghanistan, the would-be terrorists have had to organize on their own, without the benefit of those training camps to instill discipline and cohesion. We’re seeing all the pathologies inherent to angry people with incoherent grievances, and so their plans are total jokes.

    Thank God for that. Whatever else might be said about things that have been done since 9/11, disrupting the training camps in Afghanistan was a MAJOR accomplishment, and will probably do more to keep us safe than anything else.

  6. “Since the invasion of Afghanistan, the would-be terrorists have had to organize on their own,”

    Thoreau, I wish this were true, but I’m afraid the terrorists have pretty much free reign in the border regions of Pakistan.

  7. “They hijacked the planes with bomb threats, not box cutters”

    So, the reports of flight attendents having their throats cut are all lies? Maybe I missed it but the story I always got was they attacked the crew with box cutters and took over the cock pits. Regardless, without the hindsight of seeing how well it worked, the plane would have looked pretty stupid at first glance.

  8. Good points Thoreau. Atta also had money. To do it well, you need money and time and need to put a lot of thought into it. Even then, 9-11 was still basicaly a Willie Coyote scheme that only worked because the people on the planes didn’t think to resist. It would never work now because the passangers, figuring they were dead anyway would go Flight 93 on them.

  9. One should always be skeptical of law enforcement claims of preventing a crime, because 99% of the time it means that law enforcement was intimately involved in plotting the crime. How else would they know about it?

    That’s not to say that sting operations are completely useless. They serve a purpose, but it isn’t preventing the crime at hand – it’s deterring other crimes.

  10. John,

    Like thoreau just pointed out, theres a difference between a seemingly simple plan and an outright dumb plan. Just because the media decides that every potential terrorist deserves a new government department to deal with him doesn’t mean he was anywhere close to doing something, it just means that the MSM is constantly looking for a shadow to jump at.

  11. John,

    It was a risk that the terrorists took, but if you observed the typical rowdy passenger on a plane, you’d notice a trend of “passing the buck” that passengers usually have and you’d realize that herd mentality makes people very pacifistic by themselves, needing leadership to get them to do anything.

  12. I rate this as “smarter than the Brooklyn Bridge/Blowtorch” plan, and about equal with the “We’ll mix up a liquid explosive on a plane” plan.

    It’s still a bunch of stupid. Frankly, I don’t know what worries me more….

    People thinking these idiots are a threat, people wasting time stringing these idiots along when they could be looking for the smart ones, or the thought that we have no clue where the smart ones are or what they’re doing.

    In five years, we’ve caught only idiots. People with a blowtorch and a hatred of the Brooklyn Bridge. People with a handful of chemicals that they couldn’t make a bomb out of if they even knew how. People who apparently were trying to con the FBI out of money, rather than actively trying to blow things up.

    Hell, maybe the flypaper thing worked. Maybe all the smart ones are off in Iraq blowing up actual Americans with little risk to themselves.

  13. John,

    “So, the reports of flight attendents having their throats cut are all lies?”

    No, John, you just don’t seem to be very informed.

    The same sources that reported the hijackers killed a flight attendant – the passengers from Flight 93 – also reported that the hijackers issued a bomb threat, and had sprayed some sort of chemical.

    And considering that the training and practice for plane crews for the past several decades had been to go along with the demands of hijackers (sort of like bank tellers obeying the orders of everyone who can write “I have a gub” on a deposit slip, the idea of hijacking a plane with a bomb threat doesn’t look even remotely implausible.

  14. This plot seems a bit more serious than the bootless “Sears Tower Bombers” in Florida or the Brooklyn Bridge plot. These guys appear to have gone looking for help for a plan they already had, rather than the FBI sending somebody to put ideas in their heads.

  15. On 9/11, before any details came out about how this was accomplished, I was watching the news with someone who said, “This had to be an inside job.” Thinking about it, I responded, “This can be done with two people per plane: one a pilot, and one a person who can break people’s necks.”

    In reality, they hijacked the planes with the common wisdom that one should cooperate with people who hijack planes, as well as the shock and fear that accompanies merciless killing. That wisdom has now been replaced with the opposite.

  16. joe, I don’t always agree with John but I think you’re being a bit more confrontational than necessary here.

    And I will agree that this was a more worrisome threat than some that we’ve seen. But being at the top of the class in Clown College means you’re still a bozo.

    I’m glad that we disrupted the training camps in Afghanistan.

    I’m aware that the Al Qaeda leaders are able to move about and plan with ease across the border, but I don’t think they can go so far as to set up camps openly. The central authorities are unable to control the area well enough to go in and nab the guys, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t or wouldn’t do something about a very open and obvious target.

    It’s the difference between a criminal who moves freely in a city because he’s paid or intimidated the right people, and one who sets up a “Crime College” right smack in the middle of town. Fortunately, the later is still off limits to Al Qaeda.

  17. There is a huge difference between far fetched but plausible plans and plans relying on physical impossibilities. Believing that blowing up a fuel line will destroy several city blocks and JFK Airport falls firmly into the latter camp.

  18. Remember the South Park episode where Butters decided to become an evil James Bond-style villain, and tried to destroy South Park in a cataclysmic flood by leaving his garden hose running?

    Our government would make no distinction between him and a guy plotting to blow up Hoover Dam.

  19. A big part of it (correct me if I’m wrong) is that Atta and some of his crew went to training camps. Those camps, like a military boot camp, do more than just get a person in shape, teach him to shoot, teach him to march, and pound some doctrine into his head. They teach people to follow orders, work as teams, and make and execute plans. They also produce a group of people who have gone through the same indoctrination and hence can work together with a level of trust.

    From the Wikipedia entries on the 19 it appears: (i) over half of them had been to Afghanistan; but (ii) most of them didn’t spend much time there; and (iii) they were not all there together.

    Atta is the one it gives actual dates for. Supposedly he was there December 1999 – Feb 2000. He video’d his will there in January 2000.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think the US had a right to go into Afghanistan and catch Bin Laden and disrupt these camps. However, I wouldn’t get too carried away with the role of camps in enabling the attacks. I also think the US involvement in Afghanistan should have been more in the nature of a police action and less in the nature of a decade long war.

  20. Thoreau and Joe,

    I defy anyone to truthfully say that they wouldn’t have laughed off Atta as a kook had the plot been disrupted. I know I would have. I think anyone who says otherwise either should be head DHS or is lying. Maybe these guys plot wouldn’t have worked. I frankly don’t know and I think it takes more than a few early media reports to determine that. Further, who is to say they wouldn’t have lucked into doing more damage than they probably should have or figured out a better plan? My point is that just because these people seem like bozos and their plan seems crazy, doesn’t mean that we should just blow off everyone like them. All of the terrorists are nuts and bozos. That doesn’t mean that one or two of them can’t luck into doing something really damaging. Reason’s attitude seems to be that just because this or that plot is screwy means that all of the plots are not a threat. I think that is a foolish way to look at it. All it takes is one stupid plot to actually work and the consiquences are very dire. The fact that there are people out there, bozos or not, intent on killing large numbers of innocent people is something to take seriously.

  21. John-

    I doubt I would have laughed. Hijackings have happened before. Whether I would have laughed would depend on what I heard. If I heard that one guy with a crude knife was going to do it, yeah, I would have laughed. If I had heard that a team of guys that included a guy with pilot training and some muscle trained in guerrilla camps were going to take control of an airplane, and they’d been doing months of surveillance runs, a chill would have gone down my spine.

  22. “…from a guy who sounds like he’d be incapable of intelligently planning a raid on a refrigerator…”

    Speaking of raiding refrigerators, looks like they finally indicted Rep. William Jefferson.

  23. “I defy anyone to truthfully say that they wouldn’t have laughed off Atta as a kook had the plot been disrupted.” Zacharias Moussaoui scared Cathleen Rowley so much that she tried to go over her boss’s head and get his computer searched. The French had already broken up a plot to hijack a plane and crash it into the Eiffel Tower.

    Atta was a scary guy, and this 9/11 plot was pretty freaking scary. And let’s not forget, 5-10 of the hijackers went as far as attending flight training schools.

    So there are two groups of people who wouldn’t have laughed Mohammed Atta off – Democrats working for the FBI, and the French! 😛

    This latest plot seems to be somewhere between the 9/11 conspiracy and the Brooklyn Bridge caper.

  24. “In reality, they hijacked the planes with the common wisdom that one should cooperate with people who hijack planes, as well as the shock and fear that accompanies merciless killing. That wisdom has now been replaced with the opposite.”

    a dose of reality. and a perfect answer to the question of what happens if we dump most of the passenger screening and put some of that resource into cargo and luggage screening. post-9/11, anyone tries to take over a plane with a weapon or a threat or the shock-and-awe of offing a stewardess will find himself beaten to a pulp- pretty much what happened to richard reid.

    archie bunker’s anti-hijacking plan doesn’t sound so ridiculous these days.

  25. Maybe Thoreau. Without question Atta has his act together a lot better than these guys. But, that doesn’t mean the next group of nutjobs won’t be smarter.

  26. Re: William Jefferson:

    As I predicted, this is an indictment for violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (trying to help bribe a foreign official):

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/118732.html

    rather than an indictment for being bribed in his own capacity as a Congresscritter.

  27. And if the next group of nutjobs are smarter, then I’ll be scared.

    The purpose of busting the idiots is not really to stop them, since they probably don’t need stopping. The biggest benefit of busting the idiots is that it makes the other guys more afraid to trust anybody, more worried about who might be listening to them.

    In other words, it’s to send a message to the dangerous guys and anybody who might think of helping them.

  28. The fact that there are people out there, bozos or not, intent on killing large numbers of innocent people is something to take seriously.

    Serious enough to arrest them? Certainly. Serious enough to track them? Sure, particularly if they stumble upon a more significant terror network. Serious enough to warrant the breathless “could have been worse than 9/11!!!!” media reports? Not even close. Surely there has to be some modicum of plausibility before we (a) declare that a serious terror plot has been foiled (hooray for us!), and (b) devote several news cycles to covering the moronic musings of a marginally employed airport worker.

    Of course, I don’t harbor any illusions about media attention signifying genuine importance (this story barely beats out the breathtaking ‘Paris in the County Jail’ story), but I do get annoyed when I hear feds puffing thwarted plots to justify ill-conceived budget appropriations or unnecessary infringements of civil liberties.

  29. Prior to 9/11, hijacking were considered hostage takings. The purpose of the hijacker was to extort something of value; the purpose or the negotiator was to provide that something (or to pretend to provide that something); and the purpose of the hostage was to survive.

    9/11 won’t be repeated, becasue everyone knows now that hijackings are an assault. The people on Flight 93 discovered that and then responded accordingly.

  30. You might be right, edna.

    Still, it’s probably a good idea to, you know, pat down everybody for grenades and such.

  31. 9/11 won’t be repeated, becasue everyone knows now that hijackings are an assault. The people on Flight 93 discovered that and then responded accordingly.

    and the Air Force first figured it out at ten fifteen on a Tuesday morning. Or so the story goes.

  32. “Some law enforcement officials and engineers also dismissed the notion that the planned attack could have resulted in a catastrophic chain reaction; system safeguards, they said, would have stopped explosions from spreading.”

    From the NYT today. “Some law enforcement officials” and “some engineers” none of whom are willing to speak on the record think the safegaurds would have prevented the plan from working. That is hardly conclusive evidence that the plan wouldn’t have worked. Further, who are the law eforcement officials and engineers who think this? Yeah, I bet the company that built the pipeline thinks or at least will swear that the safeguards work.

    It is interesting how Reason is normally skeptical of government and law enforcment officials unless of course they are telling Reason what they want to hear, in which case reason immediately takes everything as gospel truth.

  33. John is completely right here. If the WTC hijackers had been caught months in advance, the vast majority of you reading this post would be saying “What the hell is a WTC hijacker?”. It would have been a media story for a few days. Maybe a week. It would not have been taken seriously by most people. “Box cutters!? Yeah, right, like that would work!”.

    Ditto for everyone else. They’re all idiots, until it happens. Richard Reid is a walking punchline, but if he had gotten that explosive lit before they grabbed him, he’d be Atta all over again. The difference between idiot and terrorist mastermind is a couple of minutes, in that case.

    How many of you can honestly say that if you had turned on the news today and read that this group burned down just one building at JFK, you wouldn’t be posting comments about how our stupid government can’t catch anyone, this proves Bush is an idiot, why are we in Iraq, etc. But when they do catch them, they’re idiots, it doesn’t count because these guys are nothing, etc. Smoke and a panckake? Cigar and a waffle? Bong and a crepe? There’s just no pleasing you.

  34. John,

    Commercial airliner fuel (Jet-A) requires oxygen to combust. Highly pressurized fuel lines do not contain oxygen. Any breach in these lines would cause fuel to spurt from the breach. Regardless of whether there are safety measures, the notion that the fire would travel up the pressurized fuel line absent an external oxygen source is clearly fantasy.

  35. Some All but the most gullible law enforcement officials and engineers also dismissed the notion that the planned attack could have resulted in a catastrophic chain reaction; system safeguards, they said, would have stopped explosions from spreading.

    There, New York Times, fixed that for you.

  36. One other thing. All of the engineers who builthe WTC swore prior to 9-11 that you couldn’t take the towers down with a commercial jet. They never calculated the effects of burning jet fuel on the temper of the steel. Who is to say that the engineers who are now saying this plan wouldn’t have worked aren’t ignoring something and are wrong? Maybe this plan would have worked maybe it wouldn’t have. What irks me is how Reason will believe anyone who tells them what they want to hear without any skepticism. I think it owes it readers more than that.

  37. Are you an engineer MikeP? Do you know anything beyond your desire to believe what you want and hear what you want to hear? If not, then you statement “all but the most gullible” doesn’t mean shit. Same with you Chris S. Unless you are intimately familiar with the design of those pipes then you are just talking out of your ass because it feels good.

    Of course, a serious magazine would go talk to engineers who know something about the design and are willing to talk on record and figure out whether it was really possible or not. Reason, just chooses to believe whatever fits its agenda.

  38. How many of you can honestly say that if you had turned on the news today and read that this group burned down just one building at JFK, you wouldn’t be posting comments about how our stupid government can’t catch anyone, this proves Bush is an idiot, why are we in Iraq, etc. But when they do catch them, they’re idiots, it doesn’t count because these guys are nothing, etc. Smoke and a panckake? Cigar and a waffle? Bong and a crepe? There’s just no pleasing you.

    Dave, I would be saying “holy shit, these guys managed to ignite jet fuel without oxygen — and as of today — without a bomb or a clue on how to make a bomb.” So yeah, I would be pretty surprised. “Bong and a crepe,” you say — nah, I would need about 12 tabs of acid and a baseball bat to the head before I started buying that fantasy.

  39. John,

    You don’t need to be an engineer to know that most fuels require oxygen, and jet fuel is no exception.

    I turn on my gas stove every day and I marvel about why the whole city doesn’t explode… Oh wait, no I don’t, do you?

  40. Are you an engineer MikeP?

    If I answered yes, would that matter to you?

    Name me the last time a pipeline exploded. Name me any time a pipeline exploded.

  41. Name me the last time a pipeline exploded. Name me any time a pipeline exploded.

    Gas pipelines explode all the time. Further, oil pipelines will explode. They explode all of the time in Iraq. The point is neither one of us know shit about it. Further, if it were half as obvious as you and Chris would like to think it is, the NYT would have had more than just unnamed engineers and law enforcement officials to say it wasn’t possible.

  42. MikeP-

    The last time I remember hearing about a pipeline exploding, it was in Nigeria. And IIRC it was a warlord who carried out an attack.

    However, Im pretty sure the United States has better safeguards than Nigeria (I hope).

  43. “I defy anyone to truthfully say that they wouldn’t have laughed off Atta as a kook had the plot been disrupted.”

    If the news came out today of such a plot, yeah, I would have laughed it off. But in late summer 2001, no, I probably wouldn’t have. The difference between then and now is that the administration has built up every Brooklyn Bridge and Sea of David plot as “OMG TEH TERORRZZ!!!”.

    They have little to no credibility left. They certainly don’t have the credibility that they had in 2001. Of course, that was back when people probably thought the administration treated terrorism as more than a campaign tool.

  44. So what’s your point, John? Given that there could always be some vulnerability that we overlooked, should we just shit our pants and cringe in terror?

    I’d rather live my life while accepting that perfect security is impossible.

  45. …But being at the top of the class in Clown College means you’re still a bozo…

    LMAO!

  46. John,

    I wouldn’t have laughed, either. I’d been predicting (to my friends) that someone would use a hijacked plane as a suicide missle since 1998. It just seemed too effective a strategy to ignore. Admitedly, I thought they would go for the White House first, but I thought the threat was real. I’ve also been predicting that New Orleans would end up under water for years.

    What’s next? Who else thinks major earthquake hitting San Francisco?

  47. Gas pipelines explode all the time. Further, oil pipelines will explode.

    Absolutely, and they never travel up the length of the pipeline as envisioned by this dopey baggage handler. That’s the point, John.

    Further, if it were half as obvious as you and Chris would like to think it is, the NYT would have had more than just unnamed engineers and law enforcement officials to say it wasn’t possible.

    Wait, if it were half as obvious as I think they would need a named expert to make the point? They need experts to state the obvious? What!?

  48. There were all sorts of terrorist plots foiled in the 1990s. Airplanes over the Pacific, LAX, Millenium Dome in England.

    I don’t recall ever encountering the response, “Yeah, right!”

    I think Seitz makes a good point.

  49. I would just like to congratulate law enforcement for using lawfully obtained evidence to arrest people attempting to engage in murder, and for accumulating the necessary evidence to bring this case to a court of law.

  50. I can agree with that, thoreau (assuming it’s true).

  51. Well, Chris, even if the allegations are not substantiated, I salute them for using lawful means to bring a case to a court of law in accordance with our customary and constitutional rules and procedures.

    That’s the sort of thing that should be encouraged.

  52. Anyone else catch the news that one of the alleged plotters used to be an MP?

    Guyanese citizen Abdul Kadir, a former member of Guyana’s parliament, and Kareem Ibrahim, from Trinidad, are in custody in Trinidad and Tobago.

    So at last, we’ve found one politician nuttier than Cynthia Mckinney.

  53. I agree.

  54. So at last, we’ve found one politician nuttier than Cynthia Mckinney.

    Hey, give McKinney some credit. As far as we know, she would jump on this opportunity given the chance.

  55. Prior to 9/11, hijacking were considered hostage takings. The purpose of the hijacker was to extort something of value; the purpose or the negotiator was to provide that something (or to pretend to provide that something); and the purpose of the hostage was to survive.

    And all these roles were enforced by Federal law. Had they survived, the Heroes of Flight 93 would have been liable for Federal prison time.

  56. Crimethink-

    “And all these roles were enforced by Federal law. Had they survived, the Heroes of Flight 93 would have been liable for Federal prison time”

    I’ll make you a bet. If somebody ever invents a time machine, we’ll go back to 9/11 and make sure flight 93 doesn’t crash. If the guys who overpowered the hijackers do one second of prison time, I will pay you four trillion dollars. If not, you owe me.

  57. Oh, this is well past a McKinney. This is like nine McKinneys. This is about two and a half Dornans.

  58. Which law was that, crimethink?

  59. I’d have been scared of the 9/11 hijackers were they caught on 9/10. Their plan was a good one. Planes are big containers of flammable stuff, and even if they hadn’t brought down the Towers it still would have been deadly, terrifying, and unexpected. Heck, if they’d landed in the middle of Manhattan it’d have been effectively terroristic.

    This, the London 2006 foiled plot, and the various other post-9/11 ones, all have been laughably implausible rather than chillingly simple and dangerous.

  60. Gas pipelines explode all the time. Further, oil pipelines will explode. They explode all of the time in Iraq.

    As Chris S. notes, I’m not talking about point explosions along a pipeline. I am talking about the pipeline exploding — the presumed catastrophe the villains imagined they could wreak.

    The last time I remember hearing about a pipeline exploding, it was in Nigeria. And IIRC it was a warlord who carried out an attack.

    And was this someone blowing a hole in a pipeline, causing very localized destruction, or did the pipeline itself explode, destroying everything along it?

  61. Dave,

    Well, obviously they wouldn’t have actually been prosecuted, or they would have been pardoned, given the fact they’d just thwarted a terrorist attack. But, it was technically illegal to resist hijackers at that time.

    joe,

    It was quietly repealed after 9/11, but it was in effect at the time. I’ll have to look it up…

  62. I wonder if the drug dealer, in trying to save his own ass, was the instigator of this plan?

  63. I’m not busting your balls, crimethink, I’m genuinely curious.

  64. And was this someone blowing a hole in a pipeline, causing very localized destruction, or did the pipeline itself explode, destroying everything along it?

    Exactly. Do a two second google search for “ruptured gas main”, and see how many stories talk about the ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE PIPELINE exploding. The fire comes out of the hole in the pipe. It does not travel up and down the pipeline.

  65. Haven’t yet been able to find a regulation number, joe, but here’s a reference from everyone’s favorite presidential candidate:

    The complacency of the airlines is one thing, but the intrusiveness of the FAA is another. Two specific regulations proved to be disastrous for dealing with the thugs who, without even a single gun, took over four airliners and created the havoc of 9/11. Both the prohibition against guns in cockpits and precise instructions that crews not resist hijackers contributed immensely to the horrors of 9/11.

  66. This is sort of like when that villain on 24 decides to put nerve gas (a volatile organic compound) into natural gas pipelines, reasoning that when it entered homes it would kill everybody.

    Except that when the valve is opened to let the gas out it enters a flame and gets oxidized…

  67. I tracked down a number of pipeline explosions in Nigeria. It appears to be a perennial event due to impoverished peasants puncturing the pipelines to steal gasoline.

    Between dozens and hundreds die, depending on how many people are standing ankle deep in gasoline scooping it up with plastic cups when the spark goes off. The worst of them killed upwards of 1,000 in 1998. As reported by the BBC…

    Many of those killed were trying to scoop up fuel from a broken pipeline, which had been spewing petrol for three days when the explosion occurred…

    The pipeline was switched off 8km down the line in either direction, leaving a considerable amount of fuel to be burnt off.

  68. With all due respect, crimethink, that doesn’t appear to apply to passengers and “precise instructions” could simply mean unenforcable guidelines or suggestions. It’s unlikely that this was a criminal prohibition, although I could be wrong.

  69. Hmm, looking on FindLaw reveals only the new portions of the US Code mandating that crews be trained to resist hijackers. They don’t mention whether contradictory language had been repealed.

    But, I’ve heard from several reliable sources that resistance was punishable under Federal law.

  70. Both the prohibition against guns in cockpits and precise instructions that crews not resist hijackers contributed immensely to the horrors of 9/11.

    How is this the same as a law that would lead to criminal prosecution leading to prison time for passengers resisting hijackers?

    At most, I could see a reprimand or something similar for a member of a flight crew who didn’t follow the regulation. Perhaps a civil suit for wrongful death, with the regulation as evidence for the plaintiff, if a passenger was killed by the actions of a crew member which violated the regulation.

    That’s a long way from prison time for a passenger who resisted a hijacker.

  71. thoreau,

    I found that 24 plot point amusing, too.

    “Distribute your noxious agent into a house through a flame? Brilliant!”

  72. “Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States.”

    Well, I guess if there isn’t a Brad Pitt International Airport, JFK will do. Are you sure there isn’t a Brad Pitt airport??

  73. I tracked down a number of pipeline explosions in Nigeria. It appears to be a perennial event due to impoverished peasants puncturing the pipelines to steal gasoline.

    Between dozens and hundreds die, depending on how many people are standing ankle deep in gasoline scooping it up with plastic cups when the spark goes off. The worst of them killed upwards of 1,000 in 1998. As reported by the BBC…
    Many of those killed were trying to scoop up fuel from a broken pipeline, which had been spewing petrol for three days when the explosion occurred…

    The pipeline was switched off 8km down the line in either direction, leaving a considerable amount of fuel to be burnt off.

    Interesting, so all that stands between this plot and success is three days worth of gas spills and a couple hundred desperate Nigerians?

    Perhaps we haven’t taken this threat seriously enough…

  74. Someone fantasizing that Richard Reid was anything less that a moron?

    ugh

    Dude tried to light C4 on fire without benefit of a detonator or blasting cap… (without the pressure supplied by a detonator, the shit won’t explode, you can use it for cooking even)

    that’s some villain you’re exalting…

    (not to mention the “official bomb maker for Al Q” that supposedly sent him into play with c4, but no detonator. Can you say “fool’s mission”?)

    Why are some people so eager to be frightened that they’re ready (nay, eager) to trust our spectacularly dysfunctional government to defend us from highly propagandized bogymen?

    fucking clown shoes

  75. Thoreau – of course, the downside of the last several years is that we may have encouraged the formation of terrorist training camps, with live-fire training, in a certain large Middle-Eastern country…

  76. Lamar,

    You have heard of the insidious terror plot to kidnap our leading celebrities so as to weaken our resolve, right?

  77. Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States.

    Wow, those chicks working as pages for Massachusetts senators must really be hurting the United States.

  78. My kitchen stove takes a bit to light – so I’d be dead if I lived in 24ville.

    My favorite 24 blunder was when Jack pulled a cord out of a lamp to shock some bad guy. He touches the ends together to demonstrate the presence of electricity via the sparks. Well duh, did these people have pennies in the fuse box or something? The only way to not trip a 15 or 20 A fuse/breaker when doing this is if he was only shorting one long strand of very thin wire (like 30 AWG or finer), which didn’t appear to be the case.

    And at the end of Blades of Glory, you know, when the two dudes just fly through the air on their ice skates….

    Damn TV. Ya can’t believe none of it!

  79. No, the dumbest 24 story was when the villain had a remote control for every nuclear power plant in the country.

    Even if such a thing existed, you could always turn off the power plant’s internet connection (with a bolt cutter, if necessary) and end the villain’s control of the nuclear power plant.

  80. Who the hell are these “re-re’s” that “plot” these things. A friend and I were musing today, can they bust you for plotting something that isn’t feasible?

    Like, could they bust us for planning to destroy the East Coast using an Antimatter Collision machine?

  81. As I predicted, this is an indictment for violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (trying to help bribe a foreign official)

    u don’t read so good, dave w.

    The 16-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., charges Jefferson with solicitation of bribes, honest services wire fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, racketeering, and conspiracy. The indictment alleges that from in or about August 2000 through in or about August 2005, Jefferson, while serving as an elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives, used his position and his office to corruptly seek, solicit and direct that things of value be paid to Jefferson and his family members in exchange for his performance of official acts to advance the interests of people and businesses who offered him the bribes.

  82. you could always turn off the power plant’s internet connection (with a bolt cutter, if necessary) and end the villain’s control of the nuclear power plant.

    But what if the villains also have remote controls for the bolt-cutters?

  83. Everyone knows that nuclear power plants have Wi-fi — duh! You would have had to shut down routers, which everyone knows is impossible, because shutting them down emits nerve toxins.

  84. Also, everyone knows that nuclear power plants are designed to be fail-unsafe.

    If the internet connection breaks, you’ve got a meltdown on your hands. That’s what happened at Chernobyl, except back then it was a Compuserve dial-up.

  85. I guess I haven’t been missing anything.

  86. Like, could they bust us for planning to destroy the East Coast using an Antimatter Collision machine?

    Paul, you have been declared an enemy combatant for plotting against America. Report to Guantanamo at once. And, bring some Saran wrap cause we’re running low.

  87. Unlike UBL, he JFK Pipeline schemers suffer from a serious lack of imagination. Pipe is relatively easy to replace, it’s the pump stations that would be a kick in the taint.

    http://www.colpipe.com/home.asp

    Happy motoring!

  88. Whatever the soundness of this terroist plot, it sure is good that the Gov’t stopped them. Just like all of the other plots they stop at non-specific intervals.

    Otherwise I’d start to get real worried about the erosion of civil rights and billions of dollars being spent on the War on Terror.

  89. This is about as bad as it gets with pipeline explosions, but keep in mind that the line wasn’t blowing up along its route, just where it was detonated

    http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2006/11/12/top_story/01local_11-12-06.txt

  90. This is sort of like when that villain on 24 decides to put nerve gas (a volatile organic compound) into natural gas pipelines, reasoning that when it entered homes it would kill everybody.

    Except that when the valve is opened to let the gas out it enters a flame and gets oxidized…

    Wouldn’t that depend on what the combustion products were? PVCs have some nasty toxic incomplete combustion products. You have to burn them at 3,000 degrees C to ensure the intermediate products are gone completely. Sarin has florine – I don’t know if the temperature of the natural gas flame would liberate F(2) or combine it with something else to make a neutral molecule.

    One could also design a molecule which would yield a toxin when partially combusted in a natural gas flame.

  91. This is sort of like when that villain on 24 decides to put nerve gas (a volatile organic compound) into natural gas pipelines, reasoning that when it entered homes it would kill everybody.

    Except that when the valve is opened to let the gas out it enters a flame and gets oxidized…

    What if, instead of nerve gas, he had used simple Freon? When it burns it turns into phosgene, a kind of nerve gas.

  92. Lost In Translation:

    I went and took a look at your link and read the article. Pretty impressive! I’d hate to think of something like that going off in a crowded urban area. Rather than being like a bomb, it would be more like a huge blowtorch or flamethrower. And if there were fuel storage tanks in the area….

  93. Smartass sob-

    Stop it! The point everyone needs to see here is that this plot was nothing and would have caused virtually no destruction. You’re totally breaking with the script here!

  94. And if there were fuel storage tanks in the area….

    …then they might have caught on fire too.

    You know, had I heard that one of the pipeline plotters was an expert in fuel-air explosives from Trinidad and Tobago, the nation second only to South Africa in their competence in producing FAE bombs, that probably would have worried me quite a bit.

    If I heard that another of the plotters was superb at handling primacord and could zip open a mile of steel pipe with a single trigger, that would worry me even more.

    If I heard that yet another plotter was an expert at the magical removal of many feet of dirt above miles of pipeline in order to expose the pipeline to the air and allow the laying of the primacord, then I might start using words like U.S. Attorney Mauskopf’s “unfathomable damage, deaths, and destruction”.

    Until then, these are bozos who could have caused an explosion and started a fire. Could they have killed a few people? Yes. But only if those people were near the explosion and fire.

    Do U.S. Attorneys need a refresher in what is and is not fathomable? Most definitely.

  95. And all of these hypotheticals, major and minor, require that this be a real plot to begin with.

    Given the recent history of these things, helpfully linked to by Mr. Doherty, that certainly is not a guaranteed proposition.

    The whole basis for the accusation seems to be the drunken ramblings of an ex-pipeline employee a decade ago. He doesn’t seem to have been in any great hurry to actually move this plot along. And in this day and age, the involvement of an FBI informant makes me suspect an [i]agent provocateur[/i] that potentially gets the whole case tossed.

  96. What if, instead of nerve gas, he had used simple Freon? When it burns it turns into phosgene, a kind of nerve gas.

    Trust me, the writers just weren’t that clever with their plot devices last year. Or this year.

  97. Re: ‘scientific’ plot-holes in 24.

    Whaddya expect? It’s a show written by liberal-arts majors and shown on Fox!

  98. bad LA majors at best.

  99. No, the worst episode was the one where Jeff Goldblum
    played a quirky megalomaniac who hated kids. Pure evil.

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