Thursday, July 07, 2005

" He drove me to the Tower of London, more huge and terrifying than I'd imagined, like a sprawling medieval Alcatraz. We got there just at ten, so I could watch the guards lock the Tower gates. For all their flashy black-and-scarlet unforms, they are grim and frightening as they lock the gates to that dread prison with darkness closing in. You think of the young Elizabeth sitting somewhere beind the stone walls, wanting to write and ask Bloody Mary to have her beheaded with a sword instead of an axe.

' When the gates were locked the guatds marched back toward the huge iron Tower door. It rose to let them pass through, lowered and clanged shut behind them, and the light voice behind me said: "They haven't missed a night in seven hundred years".

' The mind boggles. Even going back only three hundred years, you think of London during the Great Fire, the Great Plague, the Cromwell Revolution, the Naploleonic Wars, the First World War, the Second World War

' "They locked the tower with this ceremony," I asked him "Every night, even during the Blitz?"

' "Oh yes," he said.

' Put that on Hitler's tombstone tell that to that great American patriot Wernher von Braun whose buzz bombs destryoed every fourth house in London.

' He drove me home and I tried to thank him..."

Helene Hanff "84 Charing Cross Road"

33 comments:

American Ronin said...

I read a remark today attributed to one of the men caught in the blast, a man who'd also been in the blitz. "I've been blown up by a better class of bastard than this."

And once again I'm left slightly in awe of the English.

Sam Dodsworth said...

Personally, I'm with this guy.

(And I'm butting out now, until I get over my current overdose of "spirit of the Blitz" tributes.)

Colin S said...

I was in Tooting when it happened. An accident really; I had intended to return home on Wednesday but was delayed by some decorating work for a friend. Come Thursday morning and a phonecall from the friend's sister followed by tv news and a quick realisation that I probably wouldn't be going home that day either. Even if it was possible to get to Waterloo, from where trains were later running normally(ish), all the requests not to travel and the non-essential nature of my journey suggested I stay where I was.

Later, just before six, some shopping was required so I walked westward onto Mitcham Road. A few buses were heading east; I didn't see how crowded they were, and many people, also eastbound.

On country roads walkers and cyclists smile when they pass; greetings between complete strangers are frequent. This afternoon on Mitcham Road no one spoke or smiled and all seemed to be walking east. Perhaps they were the Exodus of London's workers forced out of there usual tunnels.

I found myself noticing the colour of faces- olive, or brown, and it became momentarily important to recall ethnic variations: were all turbans to be trusted. Should I fear all beards.

It was only a moment before I realised something: despite the differences I perceived they were all Londoners; I was the stranger on Mitcham Road in Tooting.

Colin S: back among the green fields.

Paul Brown said...

There's a very fine line between consideration of all possibilities and paranoia and I'm not quite sure which side of the line this puts me on.

The thing is, for so many explosions in such a crowded space the number of casualties seems a lot less than it could have been. This might just be good luck, or it might be that the bombs were not intended to cause death and destruction on a massive scale, but rather to wound, shock and confuse.

Feel free to shoot me down (hopefully not literally) but I can't help thinking that this incident will move the focus of G8 away from poverty and climate change, two subjects that America does not want to discuss, and towards terrorism, a subject the America does want the world to discuss.

Colin S said...

Except that global poverty and climate change issues did make significant progress at the G8 summit. Besides if the idea was for the bombs to change the G8 agenda they would have happened earlier in the conference. If anything the bombing seems to have made the summit more determined to go ahead with what it had initially agreed. Blair can take a deal of satisfaction from what was delivered at Gleneagles, and even George Bush has now acknowledged climate change is real and human activity is in part to blame. So far I have neither heard nor read anything blaming Blair's policies for the bombings, which is rather curious, don't you think.
Colin.

jat8d said...

I admit, when I first heard about this, my initial thought was it had something to do with the Olypics. Admittedly, I was half asleep, since I got it from my radio waking me up, but it took me a bit to decide it was unrelated.

Also, the 24-hour news channel was playing the BBC for awhile, and then switched over. I have to say, the BBC was far better - more accurate, less emotional, less determined to find some instant answer to all questions.

I'm going to strenuously avoid making Blair/Bush comparisons, because I simply can't think of anything kind to say.

Phil Masters said...

There's a very fine line between consideration of all possibilities and paranoia and I'm not quite sure which side of the line this puts me on.

Paranoid. Verging on Meacheresque.

The thing is, for so many explosions in such a crowded space the number of casualties seems a lot less than it could have been.

And all explosions are exactly the same. A firework is the same as a nuclear weapon.

Paul Brown said...

And all explosions are exactly the same. A firework is the same as a nuclear weapon.

... and that's what got me concerned. I know quite a lot about explosives and the main reason that a car bomb set off in the street only kills a few people is that not very many people are close to it and there is space for the pressure wave to escape. Mostly people are hurt by glass / debris which is pushed by the escape of the pressure wave.

Inside a crowded tube train inside a tunnel even a relatively small device would kill everyone inside as they cannot be thrown clear - there's nowhere to throw them to. Add to that the number of casualties caused by the derailment of the carriages behind and the impact should have devastating.

The two possibilities as to why people escaped the blasts are either they were very lucky or the devices were small.

If I were wishing to scare and distract a nation then a very visible disaster would serve my purposes. If I wanted to kill as many people as possible in punishment for perceived wrongdoings then I would attempt to do just that.

Phil Masters said...

Right. So let's see what you're suggesting (and if this isn't what you're suggesting, stop faffing around and come out with what you do mean).

Some ruthless agency of some government may have decided that it needed a terrorist incident at this point. So it planted those four bombs in London to create that incident. But, despite being ruthless and murderous, it cares about the population enough to only want to kill fifty or sixty people, instead of hundreds - so it makes the explosions fairly small.

I'm probably short on imagination, but the idea of a group that's evil enough to let off explosions in crowded tube trains, but moral and caring enough to not make them very big, strains my credulity. And it's not like viciously amoral government agencies are likely to be very short on budget for their explosives (unlike dingbat terrorist death cult cells).

And - treating the whole idea with far more seriousness than it deserves - I don't really see the point of this supposed plot. It's timed to coincide with the G8 summit. But the G8 summit wasn't scheduled to talk very much about terrorism. The big topics were stuff like global warming and African aid. If the idea was to get the discussions off those inconvenient subjects and onto terrorism, then the whole deranged high-risk operation was a predictable miserable failure; after Blair had made his one-day trip back to London, and the other leaders had made some conference calls home, all of them did their best resolute looks for the camera thing, made their "terrorists shall not prevail, and shall not prevent this meeting doing what it's supposed to do" speeches, and went back to the original agenda.

And if some evil government conspiracy wanted to stop the G8 meeting from making certain inconvenient decisions, they didn't need to take the insane risk of running a black op in a friendly city; they just had to tell Bush or somebody to stonewall. Which virtually everyone was expecting Bush to do anyway (because he'd said he was going to). You don't need to sabotage a meeting where one of your own people has an effective veto, for Pete's sake.

(As it turned out, the meeting actually achieved rather more on those non-War on Terror topics than a lot of people feared, though not as much as some might have hoped.)

(And yes, this hypothetical operation is an insane risk. People who go into government/intelligence work may have vaguely idealistic views of their duty to the public at large. If one such idealist found out that his colleagues were bombing said public, he might have something to say on the matter. And if, say, the CIA ran undisclosed black ops on MI5 territory - well, imagine the potential fun.)

So this leaves the hypothetical evil agency (and who do you think we're talking about here, by the way? The CIA? MI5? The oil companies? The Elders of Zion?) with no clear motive other than generally stirring up public panic. But hypothetical evil agencies don't need to plant their own bombs to do that. The death cults are quite happy to do it for them.

Let's face it, politicians exploiting the fear of terrorism (which, God knows, they do) are really just an extreme case of politicians exploiting the fear of crime. And when some little old lady is mugged by some yahoo, we don't assume that the yahoo was commissioned by the nearest law-and-order candidate to perform this mugging; we assume that the world has its share of yahoos, and get back to arguing about what to do about them, and whether they're a major problem in the first place.

So, on balance - I think that your tinfoil hat needs some adjustment.

Charles Filson said...

What happened in London is terrible, and to the people who lost loved ones it is the worst disaster ever. I don't want to minimize that.

And it was also a miracle that so few people were injured. A Miracle being any fortuitious event that might have been worse.

Yet, I have to point out, with my limited knowledge of explosives, that bombs have detonated in Aircraft without killing everybody. In fact most people likely survive the initial explosion to be killed by rapid depressurization or fire or impact.
Example: April 2nd, 1986, a Bomb exploded on a Bowing 727 and only 4 people were killed. August 11th 1982, a bomb exploded on a 747 and only 1 person was killed. Just last year a cleaning crew in Turkey (June 28th 2004) found a bomb on a plane after it landed and the passengers got off. 1 of the crew survived the explosion even though he was a few feet from it.
When a bomb exploded in Hebrew University's Cafeteria (July 2002) only 9 people were killed and 85 wounded. That was in a crouded cafeteria with nearly 200 people. Only 9 killed.

Then there is the question of whether this was a deflagration or detonation. It is far easier to build a deflagrating device than a detonating one. A deflagrating device is usually made by igniting the gas emited by a chemical reaction. Really it is just a fast burning fire that throws stuff around. This is the type that is easily built in a bath-tub from stuff that could easily be smuggled into London or bought there at a hardware or garden store. A deflagrating device will have a pressure wave (by definition) of something less than 3000fps. That's hardly enough to kill with pressure alone.

At less than 3000fps, the force of the explosion is a pushing or heaving power, not a shattering power (Called Brisance). It throws people, it does not kill them. Even if it throws them against a wall they are likely to survive the throw and only be killed by the flying debris or flame. (Deflagrating devices tend to have more flame and heat than true detonations emit. Puund for pound that is.)

This was very likely a deflagrating device, much like the ones used by Palestinian bus bombers. Bus bombings, on average, cause a 49% casualty rate. Only 49%, and busses are far smaller than trains or subway tunnels.

My point is that there is no need to explain away a deadly overpressure wave, because there usually isn't one with small deflagrating bombs. With your knowledge of bombs I am sure you know this better than I do since you know quite a lot about explosives . (Mine knowledge is only theorhetical, gleamed from my classes required for my engineering degree.)

So as Phil said so well: there is little motive and a lot of danger to a 'friendly' government doing this, and I will add that there is little evidence given that the bomb acted just like many other amaturely made deflagrating devices set off by Islamic Jihadists all over the world.

jat8d said...

Does this interesting theory include having someone to blame afterwards? I'm thinking of the four men mentioned by the police. On the one hand, if they are part of the cover-up, how does this agency arrange to have them killed in the explosions? Or do they pick some random victims and announce they are responsible? And does that include any commentary by friends, family and neighbors?

Or, does one leave the perpetrators uncaught, the more-frightening-than-real-people bogey-monsters in the dark? Or does that leave the regular police too likely to keep looking, and maybe find something you'd rather they didn't?

Just curious.

Dan Hemmens said...

My point is that there is no need to explain away a deadly overpressure wave, because there usually isn't one with small deflagrating bombs.

Mind you, didn't they say they'd found plastic explosives at one of the houses in Leeds?

Charles Filson said...

I had not heard that. Platique/C4 is definately a high explosive. The pressure wave expands at about 30,000 feet persecond. Still, a half kilogram of C4 placed in a truck in a garage will destroy that truck but barely touch anything else in the garage.
Just becuase it detonates does not mean it is going to destroy everything in sight.
If the explosion was triggered by C4 then we will know shortly I am certain. C4 leaves a trace of the taggant chemicals behind, and should be easily identifiable.

Phil Masters said...

Latest news stories are talking about it being home-made explosives after all, rather than military-grade, earlier authoritative-sounding leaks and rumours notwithstanding.

Which does sound more plausible to an non-expert like me. Ten pounds of military-grade stuff in a crowded tube carriage probably would be expected to kill more than a dozen people.

(Which still wouldn't have suggested anything more than "some people were extremely lucky" or "the bombs were very badly made" or "the explosives had deteriorated" or suchlike, of course.)

Ah, rumour and speculation. Great substitute for facts, innit?

Eki said...

I'd like to react on what Paul Brown wrote. All the other following posts seem to reject his possible theory that these events were actually created in the first place.

Even though I do not know whether this is true in this case or not, there are numerous examples in political history where citizens have been sacrified on purpose to achieve a "higher" goal, if I may say so.

The Roman Empire is full of these stories - Crassus, a senator, forced the slave army of Spartacus to go towards Rome by blocking all their ways out. By doing this, the people in Rome started to panic and voted full powers to Crassus to crush Spartacus' army, which he did easily.

Hitler also used a so called "terrorist" attack on the Reichstag, staged by his own sections, to blame the communists and eliminate his opposition.

Roosevelt deliberately refused to let Pearl Harbour get intelligence support so that the Japanese would attack the island without encountering must resistance, thus concluding that it was an "agression", to convince a population of Americans largely against the war.

And what do you think of a Prime Minister who manipulates and have fake evidence fabricated in order to launch a war on a country full of petrol ?

I tell you, I would not consider him to be SO naive.

Phil Masters said...

Yes, yes, politicians can be manipulative and amoral bastards. Full marks for observation that man.

However, the idea that they go round deliberately, frequently manufacturing horrible events for minor advantage takes you straight into tinfoil hat territory. Horrible things happen anyway. Once you start believing that everything that happens was made to happen by some cigarette-smoking illuminatus, you're no longer making useful political comments; you're just an idiot.

And bringing up the idea that Roosevelt sacrificed Pearl Harbour to drag the USA into the war shows that, frankly, you've lost it already. (The counter-case can be pretty long and boring, but if you believe that he'd sacrifice the very ships he needed to fight the damn war, you're probably beyond logic anyway.) Next stop is generally the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, if not outer space lizards in Buckingham Palace.

Andrew Rilstone said...

I dunno, Phil. There are some things which, when it comes down to it, I can 't prove, but which seem to be so self-evidently plausible that I am reluctant to call them "conspiracy theories". The idea that the Conservative Party determines what appears on the front page of the Daily Mail is one such. The idea that Prince Charles is an alien is another.

Eki said...

Thanks Mr Masters for the constructive remarks. The Pearl Harbour case can be discussed somewhere else, but just as a note, the american navy didn't need these ships, seeing how fast they crushed the japanese navy after. It's like playing chess. You sacrifice one piece to set a check and mate. I mean, just check ancient history. Nevermind.

Yes, horrible things happen. But when you have no ways to verify the information that is given to you, when the government has a nice story pointing always in the same direction (yes, it's because of Al Quaeda that the weather is so damn hot this summer), you can start to ask questions.

Ever read "1984" ?

Real wars nowadays are fought on the information ground. The fact that the American army prevents journalists from doing their investigations in Iraq is a first step towards information control and public support.

And maybe, maybe it's for the better. For the stability of our countries. If we knew the real agenda going on around, maybe people would start revolting or something and behead politicians just like in the good old times.

To sum up on what happened - I don't know nothing. You don't know nothing.

I'm just saying that : the few ones who know might not tell you everything.

Check their past records.

Phil Masters said...

But if everything we hear and everything we read are likely lies propagated by scheming politicians, then their "past records" are almost certainly full of lies and deceptions too.

In other words, once you stop believing anything, you can't believe anything. (And if you start out believing nothing, you end up believing everything.)

Of course, given that the available history and political news are full of stuff that makes one dislike and distrust politicians, one has to assume that, if they're manipulating the news to their own advantage, they're not doing a very good job of it. Because it'd be much more to their advantage to make us trust and like them more.

Whereas the available reports suggest that they try to manipulate the news to their own advantage, and fairly often succeed to some extent, but fail miserably to close off every alternative channel and frequently leave holes in the wall through which stuff seeps, sooner or later. In other words, they're running round fighting fires and improvising and bollixing stuff up, just like the rest of us, only on a larger scale and with more corpses.

Occam's razor applies. Ascribing to vast and devious conspiracies what can be adequately explained by human pettiness and incompetence is superfluous. As well as silly.

Paul Brown said...

That's a wonderfully polar viewpoint there Phil. Either governments get away with everything or they get away with nothing. Either all criminals are convicted or none are. The fact that governments and other powerful entities are caught trying to cover things up proves that they try; it doesn't prove that they are always caught. Since we're quoting philosophy, try Boolean logic, just because A implies B, B does not necessarily imply A.

My issue with the whole thing is that the timing of four explosions together does not imply amateurs and whether the explosives were military or home made they should have been able to totally destroy the carriage that they were in and then cause carnage in the derailed carriages behind. That's at least 50 - 60 fatalities people per train.

The fact that they did not cause such massive damage could be explained by luck, but several cases of such luck would be uncanny to say the least. Nevertheless it is still a possible explanation.
My leap into apparent insanity was based on the premise that such luck was unlikely almost to teh point of impossibility. The question then becomes, why were the devices used not capable of such destruction?

Option 1 - The explosives were cheap home made rubbish. Issues: even 10kg of the correct home made explosives would have been enough and costed a few hundred pounds. The builders could have been inexperienced, stupid or broke, but that then clashes with their apparent level of organisation and the supposed funds available to extremist groups. Possible but highly unlikely.

Option 2- The devices were deliberatley made small. The question of course here is why? Were the terrorists not wishing to hurt too many people? Not likely. Were the explosives too heavy to carry? No. The bombers all apear to have been young, fit men. More than capable of carrying 10kg in a rucksack. Was the intention to cause a large scene without excessive damage? Not if the people behind the attacks really were terrorist groups, no.

There are, however, many groups who stood to benefit from a visible display of terrorism. Our own government could (and will) use this to push through more anti-terrorist legislation, identity cards and, more than likely, CCTV in all public places. They certainly would've wanted to keep sacrifice to a minimum to acheive their ends, but in this instance I think that Phil is probably right - the cost of getting caught, however unlikely, would be too great.

Other middle Eastern countries with an interest in seeing the war in Iraq go on could have been involved, such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, but these coutries are not known for their sublety and controlled damage does not seem to fit.

And so we come back to the old pantomime villans, the American powers that be (of whom the visible government is only one. The main benefactor of the invasion of Afganistan was Enron for instance).

These events have brought terrorism centre stage again after that scruffy Irish idiot got everyone worked up about poverty. How many times has Live8, the G8 summit or world poverty been mentioned by the mainstream media since these attacks? I have only seen two mentions to date, compared with every newspaper in the country carrying such incredible news as "the police believe they might have some information, but they can't tell us what" on the front page.

But why would they want to keep damage down? Perhaps so as not to test the limits of their "special relationship" to excess. A spectacular but relatively small amount of damage would likely achieve the desired results more slowly (and don't assume that you know what the desired results are; most of the major political manipulations that we know about have onyl come to light 20 or more years after the event), but carnage on a massive scale could be enough to make the worm turn.

We all know that our "special relationship" with America is the same type of relationship that large gentlemen have smaller gentlemen in prison showers, but even a frightened and spineless government has limits.

Now this entire hypothesis is based off several assumptions, but none of them are, in my opinion, unreasonable or indefensible assumptions. Certainly no worse than "there's a bunch of madmen in the world who don't need reasons to do terrible things". There's always, always a motive, even when you don't know what it is.

Dan Hemmens said...

Now this entire hypothesis is based off several assumptions, but none of them are, in my opinion, unreasonable or indefensible assumptions. Certainly no worse than "there's a bunch of madmen in the world who don't need reasons to do terrible things". There's always, always a motive, even when you don't know what it is.

This is, taken out of context, entirely true. "Terrorists are just evil people who do evil things for the sake of evil" is a nonsensical position, and it is to the shame of this nation that our leaders stand by it. However:

It is wrong to say that 2 + 2 = 5
It is no more wrong to say that 2 + 2 = 7

This does not mean that it is right to say that 2 + 2 = 7.

Phil's point is not that governments always get caught, and that therefore they obviously aren't doing anything they haven't been caught doing. That's clearly nonsense.

What he is saying is that because governments *sometimes* get caught, they cannot afford to engage in activities wherein the risk of getting caught outweighs the potential benefits of whatever they're allegedly doing.

Bombing London is an insane thing to do if you want to maintain any sort of friendly relationship with Britain. Orchestrating a terrorist bombing in order to add weight to your anti-terrorism campaigns is the stuff of bad conspiracy theory. Orchestrating a terrorist bombing of a friendly country in order to distract popular attention from a big rock concert is rapidly approaching David Icke territory.

The closest Phil gets to a genuinely polar argument is to point out that anybody who is amoral enough to orchestrate a terrorist attack that kills fifty people is probably amoral enough to orchestrate a terrorist attack that kills five hundred people. The whole idea of a sinister faceless conspiracy that will casually blow up innocent civilians for complex conspiratorial reasons is spurious. The idea of a sinister faceless conspiracy that will casually blow up innocent civilians for complex conspiratorial reasons, but won't blow up too many because that would be wrong is frankly laughable.

The fact that the bombs caused fewer casualties than you believe they should have proves one of two things. Either the bombs were wrong, or you are. Another poster on this thread has already pointed out that, given the nature of the devices used, the casualty rates are about what should be expected.

Phil Masters said...

Dan's covered the greater part of what I would say more than well enough, so I'll try not to waste anyone's time with a long response here. (Though I will repeat; the idea of a political conspiracy considering fifty civilian deaths to be a price worth paying, but a few hundred civilian deaths to be too much, is so bizarre that I wonder what people are on.)

But anyway... My original line about fireworks and nuclear weapons remains a serious point. If someone let off a small firework in a tube carriage, odds are, no one would actually be killed. If somebody let off a nuclear weapon, the city would be devastated. Hence, there is a scale of potential damage. Somewhere along that scale is an explosion just big enough to kill a dozen or twenty people.

Now, we've got a certain amount of garbled and somewhat contradictory information about this bombing. (I assume that everyone knows that early news reports are often a bit garbled.) On the basis of this information, someone who purports to know about explosives claims that more people should logically have died. This suggests various possibilities to me:

(1) The available information is a bit confused. There wasn't enough explosive involved, or it was the wrong sort, or something.

(2) The bombers were, frankly, bungling incompetents who could have done far more damage if they'd had half a clue.

(3) The purported explosives expert isn't actually as clever as he thinks he is.

Any of these strike me as quite plausible. When people add a fourth possibility - that the whole thing was a vast and disgusting political conspiracy with obscure goals and somewhat incomprehensible motivations - I think they're confused. When they seem to favour that possibility, I begin to think that we've got another troll invasion here.

(By the way, I've never heard the figure of ten kilos quoted for the weight of those bombs. Early reports that I saw said ten pounds - less than half as much - but given that no one actually got to weigh the bloody things, I assume even that's in the realm of loose speculation. It's lovely how the lack of hard facts gives people so much freedom, isn't it?)

Dan Hemmens said...

(2) The bombers were, frankly, bungling incompetents who could have done far more damage if they'd had half a clue.

And, just to forestall the obvious rebuttal of this point: the fact that the bombers had the wherewithal to execute a co-ordinated bombing raid on a major target does not mean that they should have had the expertese to build better explosives.

People often seem to assume that if a person is good at a particular thing, then they must be equally good at all aspects of it, and at all things roughly related to it. This simply isn't true. For example: I'm good at maths, but hopeless at mental arithmatic. It is perfectly concievable that these bombers were Extremely Professional in some ways and Utterly Amateur in others.

Charles Filson said...

There are a few other issues involved too. The bombers had to transport the bombs to the desired locations and try to conceal them the whole time. The bombs got bounced about and might have been upset. So even if they were put together very well it's possible, even likely that they were not placed at the optimum point because somebody happened to be sitting in that seat or they were altered in some way while holding them under a jacket to conceal them.

Now to Pearl Harbour: Roosevelt could have just as easily gotten the USA into the war by suckering Japan in to attacking Pearl Harbour and then having tons of AA waiting with a nice CAP of ircraft waiting a few miles east. I am certain that Roosevelt schemed with Churchill (not to mention the Rockafellers, most of Hollywood, and all the investors who had money invested in Europe, etc etc) to draw the USA out of our isolationist neutrality, but there was little need for him to kill tons of servicemen and endanger the USA by letting our fleet get trashed in the process.
The same is true for Bush and Blair now. Setting off bombs in London subway tunnels might just cause the British People to rethink their 'support' of the "war on terror". It might do all sorts of nasty stuff to upset the currently, more or less, favorable circumstances.

Yet, I also accept that there will always be people who will still see Elvis in shopping malls, JFK in grocery stores, and conspiracies in every tragedy.

However, I also find it despicable when politicians try to turn a tragedy to their advantage...and I find it despicable when conspiracy theorists try to hijack the suffering of their fellow countrymen to attempt the expansion of the tin foil hat market.

Paul Brown said...

Alright then, let's clear a few things up:

The purported explosives expert isn't actually as clever as he thinks he is.

Well, I have a degree in Chemistry and four years experience in the Chemical industry in the early nineties working for a company that sold fertilisers to Northern Ireland. If you have better credentials then let's hear them.

because governments *sometimes* get caught, they cannot afford to engage in activities wherein the risk of getting caught outweighs the potential benefits of whatever they're allegedly doing.

Bombing London is an insane thing to do if you want to maintain any sort of friendly relationship with Britain


You would've thought that WPC Fletcher being killed by a bullet which balistics proved came from the American embassy would also have been an insane thing to do to maintain a friendly relationship, likewise using economic muscle to destabilise the economy of Scottish islands, killing soldiers with "friendly fire" and starting a war which has killed thousands of civilians, but yet the comeback somehow has failed to materialise.

The reason is that we do not have a friendly relationship with America any more than the wimpy kid who hangs around with the school bully. America gets the credability of another major nation agreeing with it and we get the reflected glory by association and in return we get to shut the hell up and do as we are told. Did Tony use the "special relationship" to leverage Bush on Kyoto? No, because the relationship does not work like that.

the fact that the bombers had the wherewithal to execute a co-ordinated bombing raid on a major target does not mean that they should have had the expertese to build better explosives

Am I to assume that you beleive that these men attended a terrorist "academy" where they learned how to finance an operation, how to travel undetected, how to coordinate an operation, but neglected to mention enough GCSE Chemistry to enable them to make bombs? Would you like to borrow my hat?

The idea of a sinister faceless conspiracy that will casually blow up innocent civilians for complex conspiratorial reasons, but won't blow up too many because that would be wrong is frankly laughable

I have never said or implied this in any way at all; my entire argument is in fact diametrically opposed to this: since it is as easy to kill five hundred people as fifty, why were only fifty people killed? Blind luck, lack of funds, and/or incompetence could be, but are unlikely for the reasons that I have stated. The only other option is a deliberate effort which, since mercy is clearly ridiculous (so please stop pointing it out) means that whoever did it must have had something to gain from fewer casualties or something to lose from more.

Provided that the chain of evidence is sufficiently convincing - and that does not have to be as good as you might assume - everyone will merrily leap to the conclusion that evil Mulsmis are to blame. Just like Afganistan / Iraq was to blame for September 11th. Not Saudi Arabia. No.

By the way, I've never heard the figure of ten kilos quoted for the weight of those bombs

and you probably won't. I wasn't suggesting that that was the precise size of the bombs. If you read it properly you'll find that what I was suggesting was that 10kg would have been sufficient to cause greater devestation and wuold have been easily within the capabilities of the bombers to carry. Speculation, yes. Loose, no.

Orchestrating a terrorist bombing of a friendly country in order to distract popular attention from a big rock concert is rapidly approaching David Icke territory

Pop quiz, everyone. Most people decide how to vote based on:

a) Reasoned argument about intelligent and well considered policies

b) International events and a party's stance on them

c) How they and their parents and their grandparents always voted

d) What the media says is important

If you answered a) or b) and you live in the West then you are well intentioned, optimistic and delusional. In the last British election the War on Terror TM was an issue, road deaths were not. Were more people killed by terrorists than by car accidents? Aer you and your family more likely to be killed by terrorists on your way to work? No. It was an issue because of media coverage and the media tends to follow the herd when it comes to story selection. Maybe next time road deaths will be the media's pet subject and it will be important, but until that happens the government will do exactly sod all about it because no-one cares until they are told to. If you don't believe me then select any person on the street at random and ask them what the outcome of the G8 summit was. Then tell me that manipulation of the media, either direct or indirect, isn't the path to power.

And finally...

The bombers had to transport the bombs to the desired locations and try to conceal them the whole time.

Please see the whole "10kg" argument

The bombs got bounced about and might have been upset.

Jiggling explosives about can cause them to detonate in some cases. In other cases it could result in the trigger mechanism being damaged so that they do not detonate at all. I cannot find a single case in any textbook where disturbing an explosive reduces its power. Either the chain reaction starts or it does not.

it's possible, even likely that they were not placed at the optimum point because somebody happened to be sitting in that seat

The optimum point was anywhere inside the carriage. In a tunnel the blast wave cannot escape and is reflected back on itself. A kilo of blackpowder in a heap will cause a bright flash and a giant woof when it ignites, but other than possible optic nerve damage and eyebrow removal you'll survive. Now try sitting on the heap. If enclosure was irrelevant then the casing of land mines and grenades could be made of tinfoil, like the hats you all seem so fond of quoting, but they are not. The casing must be strong enough to hold in the explosion long enough for intense pressure to build up. Does anyone need me to draw a diagram?

Dan Hemmens said...

You would've thought that WPC Fletcher being killed by a bullet which balistics proved came from the American embassy would also have been an insane thing to do to maintain a friendly relationship, likewise using economic muscle to destabilise the economy of Scottish islands, killing soldiers with "friendly fire" and starting a war which has killed thousands of civilians, but yet the comeback somehow has failed to materialise.

Possibly because all of these things are either (a) completely ordinary or (b) lunatic conspriacy theories.

WPC Fletcher was not shot from the American Embassy. Why the hell would an American assassin fire from their own bloody embassy? The closest I can find to a source suggesting she was not shot from the Lybian embassy is a - guess what - lunatic conspiracy theory claiming she was assassinated by a Zionist conspiracy seeking to discredit Islam.

America may have pursued economic policies that may have had adverse effects on the scottish islands. This is what is know as "the free market."

And as for starting a war, Churchill killed rather a lot of civilians too, you know.

Your argument seems to be "conspiracy theories must be true, because there are so many of them."

Am I to assume that you beleive that these men attended a terrorist "academy" where they learned how to finance an operation, how to travel undetected, how to coordinate an operation, but neglected to mention enough GCSE Chemistry to enable them to make bombs? Would you like to borrow my hat?

I happen to have a GCSE in chemistry. I don't believe it taught me enough to make plastique.

Co-ordinating a terrorist operation is actually really rather easy. The underground is largely unprotected, and every fool knows how to synchronise watches. Making bombs, on the other hand, is rather tricky.

Phil Masters said...

Probably time to walk away, Dan, but thanks for the assistance. We're clearly dealing with conspiracy loons here, and arguing with them is like arguing with creationists or UFO nuts; you can spend days carefully breaking down some huge, ostentatious, seemingly critical bit of "evidence", and they'll just shrug it off and move on to something else just as spurious and annoying.

Fortunately, this one has slipped up enough to declare that WPC Fletcher was short from the American Embassy. Given that she was, in fact, shot in St James's Square, and as any fule kno, the US embassy is in Grosvenor Square, we can tell we're not talking informed rationality here. (I guess a sufficiently powerful rifle could lob a ballistic shot over Albemarle Street and Piccadilly...) In fact, I'm getting a distinct smell of troll here.

Paul Brown said...

My apologies for the lapse of memory - the building was not the American Embassy, but a building owned by British Intelligence. In future I will not rely on memory and I will link to sources lest I be accused of trolling.
Does this come under the heading of conspiracy theory or ordinary, then?

America may have pursued economic policies that may have had adverse effects on the scottish islands. This is what is know as "the free market."

No, they threatened to starve a dependant economy, and that's called throwing your weight around. Also see here.

Your argument seems to be "conspiracy theories must be true, because there are so many of them."

No, I'm saying that the evidence in this case is inconsistent and that there may well be more beneath the surface than we are being lead to believe. Maybe to you that is a conspiracy theory, but how many there are is irrelevant and, frankly, I neither know nor care who Zionists are other than in William H Gibson novels.

you can spend days carefully breaking down some huge, ostentatious, seemingly critical bit of "evidence", and they'll just shrug it off

Other than pointing out that I had the wrong building, which I freely admit to being wrong about, you haven't actually refuted any of my arguments, resorting instead to ridicule and insults. Prove me wrong, show me the flaws in my reasonings and I will back down. Until then, I will not.

I happen to have a GCSE in chemistry. I don't believe it taught me enough to make plastique.

Nuffield Chemistry syllabus for exam year 1989 included, amongst other things, the chemical structure of TNT and TNB, methods of manufacture and the exothermic reaction of Ammonium Nitrate in the presence of a source of Carbon. I can't link to it because the syllabus is long gone, so you'll just have to take my word for it. If you wanted to make plastique then I presume that you would have needed to do the degree (although my degree was mostly theoretical Chemistry, so don't bother asking me how it's made).

Charles Filson said...

"Jiggling explosives about can cause them to detonate in some cases. In other cases it could result in the trigger mechanism being damaged so that they do not detonate at all. I cannot find a single case in any textbook where disturbing an explosive reduces its power. Either the chain reaction starts or it does not."

What type of explosive are you talking about? Consider an Oil Fertilizer bomb which depends on the ingrediants mixing and releasing gas. If the container is damaged or a portion of the gas allowed to escape, then the explosive force would be reduced. This is actually quite common in home-made bombs that fail to fully detonate, and thus fail to kill a lot of people...or anybody.

It is also obvious that you don't read American news. Your view of the special relationship is as twisted as a person from America who only reads the local paper.

The USA (being run by the Zionist conspiracy :-/ ) would have never on its own put pressure on Israel to alter their stance on the occupation of Palestine and self-rule for same. These were Tony Blair's issues. After a brief meeting between Blair and Bush, Bush comes out with strong pressure on Israel to change their stance.

Then there is the issue of favorable trading conditions offered exclusively to Britain which are far too esoteric to explain here.

The relationship is not one-way. It has in recent years been characterized like that because the stalwart support Britian has offered the US post 9/11. I would be happy to wager you that should Britian decide to invade somebody due to the July 7th attacks, the USA would not only support, but probably come along for the ride.

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