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Friday, 23 March, 2018

DHS — A Disaster Waiting To Happen

Date: 01 October, 2006

By: Chief

Imageegrettably, I fear the Department of Homeland Security will cost us a whole lot more than just dollars and cents.

The latest fable from the British side of the Atlantic, working in close cooperation with our very own Department of Homeland Security, has for reasons unknown convinced quite a few citizens of both countries that those pesky cowards, also known as terrorists, were fixing to blow up a bunch of commercial jets over the Atlantic using binary liquid explosives. Of course having quite a few purported counter-terrorism "experts" spinning their own tale of how such a plot could take place adds more fuel to the ignorant fire. Why it's the stuff that Hollywood movies are made of.

Hydrogen peroxide, acetone and sulfuric acid. All easy to obtain and when mixed together create an explosive of such force that it could blow a 747 to smithereens along with all the infidels aboard it.

Or so DHS and all the purported counter-terrorism "experts" would like us to think.

From what I have read manufacturing a binary liquid explosive using hydrogen peroxide, acetone and sulfuric acid of a sufficient amount, and more importantly of sufficient strength, to down a 747 is not as easy as our homeland protectors tell us. Quoting from the Register (UK):

"First, you've got to get adequately concentrated hydrogen peroxide. This is hard to come by, so a large quantity of the three per cent solution sold in pharmacies might have to be concentrated by boiling off the water. Only this is risky, and can lead to mission failure by means of burning down your makeshift lab before a single infidel has been harmed.

"Now for the fun part. Take your hydrogen peroxide, acetone, and sulfuric acid, measure them very carefully, and put them into drinks bottles for convenient smuggling onto a plane. It's all right to mix the peroxide and acetone in one container, so long as it remains cool. Don't forget to bring several frozen gel-packs (preferably in a Styrofoam chiller deceptively marked "perishable foods"), a thermometer, a large beaker, a stirring rod, and a medicine dropper. You're going to need them.

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

Brewing the bomb will take some time. And then there are the fumes to contend with which may just knock out cold the wannabe coward. Oh, don't forget the mixture which has just been concocted has to dry which may take a few hours to accomplish.

By the way the Register confirmed their thesis with a Rhode Island chemistry professor.

So old Joe Abdul who is on a self proclaimed mission from God just might incinerate himself in the airplane bathroom, but blow up an airliner? I don't think so. In other words folks — good guess, wrong answer DHS. Jet airplanes can take quite a bit of damage and still remain airborne. Aloha Airlines Flight 243 is the perfect example. Flight 243 was a Boeing 737 that suffered an explosive decompression at 24,000 feet. "The resulting explosive decompression tore off a large section of the roof, consisting of the entire top half of the aircraft skin extending from just behind the cockpit to the fore-wing area" (quote from Wikipedia). The airplane was able to safely land.

But what about other types of chemicals? Isn't there something, somewhere that can kill a whole bunch of us infidels? Glad you asked. As a matter of fact there are numerous substances that can kill. Many are natural.

Take for instance Oleander, Datura and Jimson Weed. All are plants. All are extremely lethal. So is Foxglove. And (y'all thought I would forget - well I didn't) so are Caster beans. Ever hear of Ricin? An extraordinarily powerful poison courtesy of the Caster bean. Then there is Oleandrin, Scopolamine and Astropine. Any one of them is more than sufficient to send a person on a one way trip to the Pearly gates or to Hell's gate. Take your pick or choose your poison. The results will be the same.

But the humdinger is also an organic chemical compound called dimethylmercury. Dimethylmercury is a colorless liquid and one of the most powerful neurotoxins in the world. Indeed it may very well be the most powerful organic neurotoxin in the world. Quoting Wikipedia:

"Dimethylmercury passes through latex, PVC, and neoprene rapidly (within seconds), and is absorbed through the skin. Therefore, most laboratory gloves do not provide adequate protection from it, and the only safe precaution is to handle dimethyl mercury while wearing highly resistant laminated gloves underneath long-cuffed neoprene or other heavy-duty gloves."

One or two drops, got that, drops of that stuff will kill you deader than the proverbial door nail. Period. See ya. That happened to a Dartmouth chemistry professor back in 1997. Nasty stuff.

Now I could be completely wrong about this but it seems to me that dimethylmercury or something similar is just a whole lot more dangerous, not to mention lethal, than 3% bottles of hydrogen peroxide that you can buy just about anywhere, anytime.

Department of Homeland Security

The DHS was formed in the aftermath of 9/11. Congress, at the specific request of King George the Bush, created the cabinet level department and transferred existing agencies from other departments into the newly created Department of Homeland Security.

DHS's mission is to secure our country from the bad guys, including "critical infrastructure" and help out during emergencies (FEMA is a component of DHS). Wonderful. We all know how well DHS did during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. And to achieve these lofty goals there are approximately 180,000 people working for DHS.

The budget for DHS is huge. Here it is for your enjoyment (keep a barf bag handy):

That is a total of 208.4 billion dollars. And the only thing the department has to show for all that money is a color coded threat advisory that nobody understands. Do you know what to do when the threat advisory changes? No you do not. Neither do I and neither does anybody else for that matter.

We, as a country, are not one lick "safer" today than the day before the infamous and cowardly attack of 09 September, 2001. And we have spent 208.4 billion dollars — to prove it.

Here are a very few examples of what I am talking about:

This is hilarious in a not so funny kind of way. The nuclear detection sensors that DHS has in place at some container shipping ports are 14 feet tall, cost approximately 180,000 dollars each and the trucks transporting containers are, believe it or not, driving around a pair of pillars instead of between them. Hence containers are not being checked for gamma radiation, a tell tale sign of natural urainium (1 percent impurity) deterioration. Besides, one would think that detecting a nuclear weapon at sea is far, far preferable than attempting to detect such a weapon after the ship has made port and is securely moored to the quay.

According to Wired news:

"New DHS-ordered monitors will come from Raytheon, Thermo Electron and Canberra Industries at a cost of $300,000 to $600,000 apiece, according to Vayl Oxford, director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, or DNDO."

But guess what (quoting Wired news):

" 'We are ordering 80 units initially into New York container terminal,' Oxford said at a July 14 press conference announcing the project. 'We're also taking some out to our permanent test bed in the Nevada test site for follow-on testing.... Starting early in this calendar year, we'll begin deploying these systems to Customs and Border Protection into the secondary screening locations'."

Once again these new and real expensive nuclear detection sensors are not portable. Placing nuclear detection device in container ports is like closing the barn door after the horses have run out.

At the same time on the west coast a group of physicists and engineers have produced and are testing a portable nuclear detection device. Again quoting Wired news:

"Here on the San Francisco Bay, a group of do-it-yourself volunteer researchers is not waiting for the mushroom cloud. They say they are close to perfecting a portable device that could do much the same thing right now, for total out-of-pocket costs of about $12,000.

"The group, led by physicist and Sandia Lab weapons subcontractor Stanley Glaros, says it has already built a boat-mounted scanner with off-the-shelf parts that might reliably spot radiation spikes in container ships at sea from a kilometer away. The team's detector has been up and running for eight months, and the group plans to publish its test findings in the Review of Scientific Instruments.

" 'Can we detect hazardous material at a distance'? said Glaros. 'Yes, easily'."

The sheer beauty of Glaros' system is the boat can meet the ship 12 miles off shore and should the device say the ship is dirty — has a nuclear weapon onboard — there is ample time to alert the Coast Guard and let them do their thing. At a far, far cheaper price tag. Both in money and, more importantly, in lives.

Therefore, as one can plainly tell, our federal government has wasted somewhere near the vicinity of 1/4 of a trillion dollars and the only thing they have managed to create is a threat advisory system that nobody understands. Wow. I am impressed. While this may not be the appropriate time for airy persiflage it is nonetheless true.

The Department of Homeland Security is the federal government's way of saying — fooled you.

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