When Your Only Tool Is A Bomb Squad, Everything Looks Like A Bomb

from the boy-who-cried-wolf dept

A few weeks ago, we saw the city of Boston totally embarrass itself when it massively overreacted to a silly guerrilla marketing stunt gone awry. Apparently nobody learned the lesson as other places are adopting the "when in doubt, blow it up" mantra. In New Mexico, some pranksters placed three CD players in a church on Ash Wednesday, and had them play vulgar messages to disrupt the service (via BoingBoing). The police were summoned, and they soon detonated two of the three CD players, while the third one was taken back for fingerprint testing. This is ridiculous for multiple reasons. For one thing, it should have been clear that the CD players were placed there as a cruel prank, as evidenced by what they were playing. And if some people were going to make a bomb in the shape of a CD player, they wouldn't have them play noise that would attract attention to them. The fact that they took the third player back to the lab is basically an admission that there was no way they were bombs, otherwise they'd have detonated that one too. Stories like these are really disturbing for what they say about the way we handle security these days. With so many out-of-proportion responses, how is law enforcement going to respond when there's a real threat?


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    dataGuy, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 8:29am

    The final solution

    "how is law enforcement going to respond when there's a real threat?"

    The answer is to place all assets at the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean, fortified with hundreds of feet of concrete. Then all live in the solar system must be terminated.

    That is the only way to truly lower the risk of a terrorist ever recurring.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 8:45am

    Not so sure about that..

    You know, if I were looking at a cd player, that might be a bomb, no matter how remote that may be, would I not go the safe route and blow it up? I think my life is more important than making an assumption that might not be correct.

     

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      Matt, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 8:54am

      Re: Not so sure about that..

      If you are scared of a CD Player, the terrorists are winning.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:08am

        Re: Re: Not so sure about that..

        No, it's if you are NOT wary of an out-of-place object being placed in a crowded area then you are just dim witted.

         

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          Tyshaun, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Not so sure about that..

          No, it's if you are NOT wary of an out-of-place object being placed in a crowded area then you are just dim witted.

          And this is perhaps the "saddest" statement I have heard. Welcome to paranoia 101. Let me state this in a way that everyone can understand:

          When it's your time to go, the game is over. You can choose to either try to insulate yourself in a protective bubble and basically "self imprison" yourself or you can enjoy life.

          I remember a quote from a movie called "Under Siege" and the basic paraphrase is that if someone is really committed to killing you, they will. This is true. What is my point, very simple, of course we should avoid things that are obviously harmful to us but we should also not be afraid of everything because it "might" harm us, this sentiment is just a recipe for even more draconian public policy in the name of public safety and "to protect the children". We are buying into the fear culture and those in power are using it to subjugate even more of our freedoms (sorry to sound so "conspiracy theoryish").

          Also, I would also like to assert that perhaps their are too many self important narcissistic people walking around the planet that thinks the world revolves around them and they are so critical as to be targets for terrorists attacks. Sorry to crush egos, but unless you are a member of congress or the President, you propbably aren't important enough to be a deliberate terrorist target.

          On a final note, if I were a terrorist my goal would be the maximum carnage for the work. Would placing a bomb in a church in New Mexico be a place where you'd expect a lot of people to be? New Mexico is like 36 out of 50 states in terms of population.

           

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      a clue, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:12pm

      Re: Not so sure about that..

      but such a small devise as a CD player it would be hard to put explosives in it, and if they wanted to do harm they woulded have chossen a device like a cd player. Also they were playing so they were not stripped out of there parts and replaced with explosives, a big clue to say they where not explosive.

       

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    shanoboy (profile), Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 9:07am

    This is crazy

    This is what shows like 24 do to us. Don't get me wrong, I adore the show and shows and movies like it. But too many American's are letting the drama of shows like it run their lives.

    We've become so paranoid that we think everything is a bomb, next we'll start thinking its okay to torture anyone at the drop of a hat to get 'answers'. which is totally illegal and against the constitution (even though you see the president order it regularly on 24)

     

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    Corey Smith, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 9:21am

    Sounds like a sales person to me.

    This is like most sales people I know. They think that the only thing they can sell is the thing they have to sell. They don't realize that just because your customer has a problem doesn't mean that you can actually solve that problem.

     

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    bryan, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 9:36am

    hmm...

    Isn't blowing up a bomb kind of like lighting a "fire"? If it's a bomb, they're going to blow it up, and the bomb in return is -- probably going to do what it was created to do. "boom"

     

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    Withersteen, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 9:44am

    Real Threats

    I'll tell you how authorities reacted to the real threat of Katrina...too little- too late. Then, once the city flooded, the authorities themselves closed the only viable exit route out of the city- the Crescent City Connection bridge- and forcibly kept people in the city for several more days- at gunpoint!

    The Bridge to Gretna

    When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.

     

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    wolf0579, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 9:56am

    If anyone has ever taken a ghetto blaster apart, they know there is plenty of empty space inside those larger players. Plenty of space for 4-8 oz. of semtex or c-4 (in the example of a church pew with ten or so religious idiots sitting on it.) and it's timing circuitry. But, yes, 99.99 percent of the time, these events will be minor pranks, but how would you like to be the public official who didn't take adequate precautions that one time when someone (or several someones) get killed? It's huge public expense to respond to this type of event. Public security has gotten much more complicated since 9/11, and the rise of people who just want to kill in the name of religion.

     

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    Luke, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:04am

    Actually...

    Actually disposal of a bomb usually requires you to blow it up. The average small bomb is designed to be effective - thus it must be stable. You blow it up using a secondary expolsive that should destroy the triggering mechanism and controlling and the secondary blast. People do go to school and learn the physics and chemestry behind such things. That's what bomb squads are designed to do...

     

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    Wisconsingod, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:06am

    What is Clear?

    it should have been clear that the CD players were placed there as a cruel prank, as evidenced by what they were playing.
    i'm an optimist, but I allow myself that freedom because bomb squads and law enforcement officials take the the pessimistic role. The moment that our protectors assume something is safe because "they wouldn't have them play noise that would attract attention to them.", is the moment that some terrorist will see that loophole and exploit it. Yes, it may be overkill, but I would prefer that to having a "simpsons" police force. Yes, humans are innocent until proven guilty, but all other objects (bombs, weapons, cd players) are guilty until proven innocent. Any mass violance threat to a school results in the school being shutdown and evacuated. If we expect that level of security to be held by school administration with our kids, shouldn't we hope for that same level of security from our police force?

     

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    Enjoying the show, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:22am

    There is no hope...

    for any remaining intelligence among the American public servants. If this is the average level of intelligence, maybe we shouldn't survive.

    C'mon guys. Only in the movies do bombs have blinking lights, countdown timers and play loudly.

    Are they really that worried about terrorists? Odds are better that you're gonna get run over by a drunk.

    Don't worry about it. Just enjoy watching the fools blow things up and run around like chickens. It's funny. Get a sense of humor about these guys. Are they really that afraid? Or are they trying to appear important and inflate their self-importance?

    Chuckles all.

     

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    Max, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:26am

    Thugs

    Who needs to learn here? These are maliciously childish pranksters with revolutionary delusions.

    How did they decide that disrupting someone's sacred religious event was something they should do? This is thuggish vandalism.

     

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      Tyshaun, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:53am

      Re: Thugs

      Who needs to learn here? These are maliciously childish pranksters with revolutionary delusions. How did they decide that disrupting someone's sacred religious event was something they should do? This is thuggish vandalism.

      ... or perhaps just a bunch of teenagers doing what teenagers do, dumb stuff without weighing the consequences of their actions? What are you basing your "revultionary delusions or "thuggish vandalism" heavy handed cliches on? One mans insult is anothers prank and perhaps we all need to chill the heck out a little more.

      I know, I know, everyone should be PC and respecting of the feelings of others. Actions have consequences, etc, etc. At some point, however, we have to realize that sometimes people aren't PC or particulary smart about decisions they make, that doesn't necessarily mean they should be condemned or punished with an iron claw.

      I put this up for discussion. If the same stunt had been pulled in a high school cafeteria, do you think the end result would have been the bomb squad blowing up 2 perfectly good CD players (or would they have even been called?).

       

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    Someone outside of the terrorist media attack, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:32am

    Attack the causes!

    There are 2 wrong things about the way terrorist attacks are being handled. 1st you are not attacking the causes; 2nd the objective of a terrorist group is to cause terror, and all the security measures and the media are only helping all the terrorist groups A LOT on this.

    So first, find why the are willing to give they life as a suicide bombers. As an outsider I know that american foreing attitude is a pain in the ass for everyone... maybe there you have a clue of how to fix things.

    Second, stop believing media bull shit and investigate for yourself. Find really how many people are killed by terrorist acts and compare that to people killed by hunger, diseases, "normal" murders, etc. You'll find out that there isn't such a BIG risk of being affected by a terrorist attack (just compare: terrorist group: little people, small budget; US: lots of people, lots of budget. The won't do any significant damage unless the media helps them by making big the small attacks they are able to do).

     

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      Amen Brother, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:48am

      Re: Attack the causes!

      If you want to control a group, the first thing you must do is align their thinking. The easiest "thinking" to manipulate is fear. It's built into the animal in us. And fear of something we never see is the easiest to magnify because it is so hard to evaluate.

      Someone with a bomb is not necessarily a terrorist. We have more bombs than anyone. A person who kills innocents is not necessarily a terrorist. Our military regularly does that. A terrorist is someone who our government wants us to fear.

      I see the victims of drunk drivers regularly. I never see the victims of terrorists. We lose 50,000 people a year to traffic accidents. That's a whole viet nam war, each and every year. We've lost 3,000 troops in Iraq. That's only three months road kill here in the states.

      Align your fears with reality, as difficult as that task might be.

       

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    a, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:34am

    How many people have shot themselves because they were sure the gun was unloaded?

     

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    Joe Schmoe, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:45am

    "When Your Only Tool Is A Bomb Squad, Everything Looks Like A Bomb"

    Alternate title for ya Mike,

    When Your Only Bomb Squad Is A Tool, Everything Looks Like A Bomb

    ; )

     

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    MindTrigger, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 10:54am

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

    Am I the only person here who's wondering where the precedent is for these actions? There are NO bombs going off in ANY PART OF THIS COUNTRY. You people act like we are living in the day to day reality of Bagdhad here in America.

    Look at what happened in Boston. They shut the whole damn city down and spent 2 million dollars because someone finally noticed some LED signs, which had been up for two weeks. Being cautious and being completely batshit paranoid are two different things. They could have pulled ONE LED sign down and took the time to figure out what it was before shutting the entire city down. Then they blame two viral marketing employees and the cartoon network for the overreaction? Give me a break.

    Caution in this case should have involved TESTING the radios to see if they had explosives. Why does a city have a bomb squad if they have no bomb sniffing dogs or bomb detection equipment? Surely a swab in a sniffing device, like what is done at many airports, would have turned up any potential explosives.

    Let's also not forget that we are going against logic here with the design of the bombs themselves. Who in history has ever made a bomb out of a sign with flashing LED lights that screams "look at me, I'm a bomb, come defuse me!!". Who has made a radio bomb that first played music/sounds which similarly alerted everyone of it's presence before detonating?

    I'm ok with caution. I'm not ok with paranoia, overreaction, and fear-mongering. This is where the patriot act kicks in, people. Some stupid kids played a prank at a church, and can find themselves charged as an enemy combatants for placing "bomb replicas" to "terrorize" churchgoers. This was the line the local government in Boston tried to railroad those viral marketers with.

    If in the future we are living in a society where bombs in public places are an actual concern, then these reactions will be justified. For now, I would like to enjoy life without being told every other day that some invisible, mysterious bogeyman bomb maker is lurking around every corner. It's bullshit, and it's cowardly to live this way.

     

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      WOLF0579, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:02am

      Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

      Explosive "sniffers" are very expensive and pretty much unavailable to local police and FD's. The safest (and least expensive) approach is detonation of suspect devices.

       

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        Cixelsid, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:16am

        Re: Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

        We live in a pretty fucking sad world when its cheaper to blow something up than using a trained animal to sniff out its danger level.

         

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    Beefcake, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:13am

    Devices Were Handled Before Bomb Squad

    My concern from this story arises from the fact that it indicates church leaders took the CD-Players down to the basement, then called the police who sent the bomb squad. I think the church needs to re-think it's procedures (if they have any) for these situations.

    If they thought the players were bombs, they should have left them alone and evacuated the church.

    If they thought the players were players and the church had been vandalized, (as appears to be the case), they should have left them alone and not compromised a crime scene.

    If I were a church-goer concerned about security, I would ask my church some questions. Churces have regularly scheduled and publicly announced gatherings of sometimes hundreds or even thousands of people. There should be no mindset that just because they're "good" or "charitable", they are exempt. They're prime targets, and have been in the past.

     

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      Tyshaun, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 12:05pm

      Re: Devices Were Handled Before Bomb Squad

      My concern from this story arises from the fact that it indicates church leaders took the CD-Players down to the basement, then called the police who sent the bomb squad. I think the church needs to re-think it's procedures (if they have any) for these situations. If they thought the players were bombs, they should have left them alone and evacuated the church.

      Or, perhaps the church officials didn't think it was a bomb? Perhaps it was the police who overreacted and the church folk just wanted an officer to come by and take a report or something? We are assuming that the bomb squad was initiated by the church, but the article doesn't say that.

      If they thought the players were players and the church had been vandalized, (as appears to be the case), they should have left them alone and not compromised a crime scene.

      True, but imagine yourself as a Catholic Priest in this situation. What's your bigger concern, preserving the scene so the bumbling keystone cops can come and do their best rendition of CSI OR stop the bad language spew that was probably not making your parishioners feel very close to God (or very comfortable listening to dirty talk in the middle of a church!). Contrary to popular belief, not everyone thinks every impropriety is worthy or a full court forensic analysis.

      So funny, I sent a friend of mine a link to this article (he lives in Great Britain). He sent back a message saying "just like americans, you see nothing wrong with shows of extreme violent tendencies [exploding harmless CD players] but the shows of overt sexuality [the dirty talking CDs] send you over the deep end.

       

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    MindTrigger, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:15am

    @WOLF0579

    And what, you think the bomb squad, and C4 blowing everything up you find suspicious up are cheap alternatives? That is a ludicrous excuse.

    What is your definition of a 'suspect device'? Should we now fear anything with wires and a battery as a bomb? iPods, cell phones, baby monitors, laptop computers?? I saw on a movie once that a vending machine was used to hide a nuclear weapon. Should we create a Vending Machine Security Force? Where does it stop exactly?
    What other bogeyman should we protect ourselves from? You people sound like the conspiracy theorists you used to make fun of.

     

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      Cixelsid, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:20am

      Re:

      I'm with you MindTrigger. Nuclear Vending Machines, the fucking A man. I wonder if anyone will think, hey, maybe we should get some sort of a trained animal to check this thing out before we start shooting at it, hmmmm maybe a monkey with a roast beef sandwich....fuckit I could go for a roast beef sandwich, lets blow this baby to kingdom come.

       

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      Fritz Reinders, Feb 25th, 2007 @ 11:55pm

      What does a bomb look like?

      Mind trigger

      You make a slight mistake. A disguised bomb may in fact have fancy flashing lights, behave like a radio or play MP3s the important thing for the bomb maker is that the damned thing not look dangerous. If making it look like a toy store version of a bomb complete with fancy displays will defuse paranoia then it will be done.

      The fancy timers and such are real and the bomb squads in places like Northern Ireland really do try to deal with them so that the evidence isn't blown up.

      US bomb squads take the safer route and destroy possible bombs after making sure that the explosion will be either contained or directed in a safe manner.

      For a terrorist, a bomb that says hello come over and investigate me is a good idea. It ensures that it will detonate while the targets are busily trying to get it to shut up :)

       

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    Streaker, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:25am

    Well, actually...

    The way I see it, the police are doing what they are paid to do. Protect the public.

    I sure don't want to rely on the rest of you idiots who see something that's suspicious and just continue on their merry way.

     

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    Verum, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:29am

    What's happening to society?

    Is it possible to leave your door unlocked without being robbed? Of course it is. Does leaving your door unlocked increase the likelihood of being robbed? Yes, but not by very much. Does owning a car alarm make it less likely your car will be robbed? Statistically, yes, but other than that slightly higher chance of protection how many of us even pay attention to car alarms anymore.

    The thing I find most ironic is that people aren't calling bomb squads for random suitcases, because a suitcase is the most likely thing to be a bomb. A hoax will NEVER be a bomb. Anything that announces itself can be automatically ruled out as an explosive device, because if you designed an explosive that advertised itself, chances are someone would destroy it (like we've been doing with non-explosives). In that church, someone could've slipped C4 in between the pages of the bible, that'd be a more likely explosive, but nobody went around blowing up the bibles "just in case" (though imagine the stir that would've caused).

    My point is that we're all WAY to paranoid in this "post 9-11" world. Terrorism happens, it will always happen, there's nothing we can do to stop it with 100% effectiveness. The only thing we can do is save the injured, mourn the dead, and live on.

     

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    @Streaker, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:31am

    Again, I ask you, oh vigilant one: Will you please DEFINE SUSPICIOUS? I mean, if my new job as a red blooded American is to be constantly looking out for bombs, I sure would like someone to tell me what they all look like. So far on my list I have LED (Lite Brite) signs, radios and vending machines. Care to help me out with my list?

    I guess I can watch 24 or some action movies to expand my list if no one is willing to help.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:38am

    With so many out-of-proportion responses, how is law enforcement going to respond when there's a real threat?

    The minute an ordinary looking device explodes and kills people, you and others will be complaining that the police weren't careful enough.

     

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      Mischa, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 1:34pm

      Re:

      Well, you might, but I wouldn't.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 3:03pm

      Re:

      The minute an ordinary looking device explodes and kills people, you and others will be complaining that the police weren't careful enough.
      NO, I wouldn't. You probably would, but I wouldn't. By saying that I would you are now telling falsehoods. I think there's a word for that.

       

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    Mindtrigger, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:44am

    @Wisconsingod

    You said: "The moment that our protectors assume something is safe because "they wouldn't have them play noise that would attract attention to them.", is the moment that some terrorist will see that loophole and exploit it."

    So what you are saying is, potentially everything is a bomb and we shouldn't assume it's safe. Someone mentioned bibles. You know how easy it is to hollow the pages out in a book and turn it into a 'device'? What I'm trying to tell you people is two things:

    1) There have been no bombs detonated since, Oklahoma City (and that whole scene is suspicious)

    2) You can make a 'device' out of NEARLY ANYTHING.

    So what will you do? Live in fear of everything? I can only assume you people spend your days watching out for "out of place items" and assume they are bombs. That is no way to live. By God, If I get blown up one day, then I hope people will learn from it, but I will not live in fear of that imaginary day for the rest of my life.

    I'm a HUGE advocate of Emergency Preparation. I actually keep disaster supplies at home because I live in souther california (earthquakes) and because of the world political climate. I think it's possible to live your life in a way that you are prepared to take care of you and yours, pay attention to what's going on around you, without living in fear. Had these same radios been found in the church pre-9/11, they never would have been handled this way. At best there would have been a small investigation, and very little money spent on it. The church would have asked Jesus for retribution, and the police would have had a hearty laugh over coffee and donuts.

    In this case, the bomb squad was called in, and 2 radios were blown up. A third radio was sent for fingerprinting and DNA testing. DNA testing??? For a prank? Times truly have changed.

     

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    Sanguine Dream, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 11:59am

    What scares me...

    is the fact that the media is always blowing up little like this. If the media keeps blowing these little things up people will either become scared of everything or they will begin to turn a blind eye on the real stuff. And neither of those outcomes can be good.

     

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    MindTrigger, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 12:06pm

    This will be my last comment on this subject, because fear is much stronger than logic. Any more attempts to change minds here would be futile.

    What I want to say, is that I don't want to live in the world you people are creating here. Suspicion of everything and everyone will not make us safer. You cannot possibly secure everything. Hell, Bush leaves our southern border wide open. He clearly is not concerned.

    The government is taking a larger role every year in protecting us from ourselves. We act, and are treated like cattle. We are told on TV to fear, so we do. We fear radios, and signs, and vending machines. We fear taking water on airplanes. We have a war against terrorism in a country that doesn't even know what the hell we are talking about. They are busy fighting themselves for the table scraps left over from our government removing the dictator we helped put in office in the first place.

    What you people are fearful of may actually come to pass one day. We are creating a lot of very pissed off people in the Middle East, where only a few previously existed. In my opinion, fearing bombs around every corner is the same as fearing that aliens may come down from the sky and exterminate us all. Could it happen? I suppose, but should we hide out in our basement bunkers, peaking up at the night sky, watching for the enemy mothership?

    I will stand and defend this country against the enemy if they come here. I will not fear them or act irrationally in the mean time.

     

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    skh, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 12:11pm

    The level of ignorance and lack of real-world experience among a lot of you people is appalling.

    One reason that a number of you think that this incident is overkill is because of the vigilance of other segments of society. Go to Israel or lots of Mid-Eastern countries, where the threat of terrorist action is very real, and detonating just about anything "out of place" is matter-of-course. The consequences otherwise have been learned the hard way.

    Furthermore, individuals of Arab extraction have caused lots of deaths in this country...more occur on a weekly basis, and those who are unsuccesful express their rabid desire to kill as many of us as possible. "When it's your to go, you're gone" isn't really an effective way for a society being attacked to perpetuate itself.

    Despite your collective nihilistic approach to the very real threat of being killed by terrorism, hiding behind sophomoric catch-phrases does nothing to make anybody safer or improve their lives.

    Amen Brother: "We lose 50,000 people a year to traffic accidents. That's a whole viet nam war, each and every year. We've lost 3,000 troops in Iraq. That's only three months road kill here in the states." Not only are your numbers wrong, your math is atrocious. We lost 43,200 people to traffic accidents in the most recent year that stats are available (over 3,000 of which were caused by illegal immigrants), so you are high by about 17%. We lost 58,235 soldiers in the Vietnam conflict, so you are low by 14%. And, using your erroneous traffic fatality number, three months of "road kill" would be 50,000*(3/12)=12,500. That would be a goofy comparison anyway, since those 3,000 deaths occured over 4+ years. But don't let math and rational thinking get in the way of your America-bashing screed.

     

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      Tyshaun, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      One reason that a number of you think that this incident is overkill is because of the vigilance of other segments of society. Go to Israel or lots of Mid-Eastern countries, where the threat of terrorist action is very real, and detonating just about anything "out of place" is matter-of-course. The consequences otherwise have been learned the hard way.

      Israel is not the United States. Perhaps the leadership of this countries problem is that we are so empathetic with Israel for some reason. I have nothing against the country but the fact that they are surrounded by countries that hate them yet they seem to show little restraint in using large amounts of force, that may be the reason they are having so many terrorists incidents. It has already been said but the biggest problem with "the war on terror" is that it does nothing more than increase the probability of attack by ticking off more people. If anything, your Israeli example is the perfect case study of how not to stop terrorism effectively. They have been "fighting" a war on terror for years by primarily attempting to beat the terrorists into extinction, and as you pointed out by the continued need for "in-place" explosions, that method has been extremely ineffective.

      Despite your collective nihilistic approach to the very real threat of being killed by terrorism, hiding behind sophomoric catch-phrases does nothing to make anybody safer or improve their lives.

      Very real? Based on what? In the United States, in all the terrorists attacks on our soil commited by non-citizens (all 2 of them since the end of the revolutionary war!), there have been a total of 2981 deaths (approx 2973 from 9/11 attacks, 8 from the first WTC attack in 1993). You can't put a monetary value on life but for a population of over 300,000,000 people (legal anyway), seems a bit extremist to say that 3000 deaths over a 14 year period by foreign terrorist attacks warrants the level of paranoia where blowing up CD players found in pews of churches is not only standard, but defensibly reaonable behavior.

      I know, I know, let me save you the trouble and spew some Bushisms, we haven't been attacked because the current "war on terror" is going so well. Pass the absynth and booze I think it's time to go off to happy land if you believe that one.

      BTW, let's dispell some of the comments where people have called comments made by people sharing my world view "naive" or sophomoric. I volunteered for several years as a medic for the local sherriffs department bomb squads and SWAT teams. Prior to 9/11 the procedures and policies for dealing with 99.9% of suspicious packages favored analysis and containment over in-place exploding however the emphasis in recent years have led to a much more aggressive stance in several areas of police work, and that is my fear. On this site we have discussed SWAT teams assisting in seizures of bootleg CDs, using bomb squads to detonate CD players that had already been handled extensively, what's next? With every level of accepted escalation of police use of force comes a corresponding decrease in your ability to truly be secure.

      Absolute power does corrupt absolutely

       

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    skh, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 12:14pm

    "We are creating a lot of very pissed off people in the Middle East, where only a few previously existed."

    Yeah, seems like since the late 70's, when Iranians kidnapped 444 of our citizens, that the majority of Muslims (Arab or Persian or whatever) just loved us to pieces. Figuratively and literally.

    Nice try at sounded intellectually enlightened, though.

     

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      Tyshaun, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 12:56pm

      Re:

      We are creating a lot of very pissed off people in the Middle East, where only a few previously existed." Yeah, seems like since the late 70's, when Iranians kidnapped 444 of our citizens, that the majority of Muslims (Arab or Persian or whatever) just loved us to pieces. Figuratively and literally. Nice try at sounded intellectually enlightened, though.

      First of all, I believe the Iran hostage crisis involved 63 hostages held for 444 DAYS, not 444 hostages.

      Also, do you remember why the Ayatollah and company came into power (the folks who did the kidnapping)? After WWII the US basically backed the son of the Shah of Iran at the time (who supported Hitler) to overthrow his father. "Our Shah" turned out to be utterly despised by much of his country and some argue the only reason he stayed in power as long as he did was because we backed him. Now, after he was finally overthrown by the zealots, I mean Islamic revolution, they were pretty recentful of years of US intervention in their affairs (Hmm, that sounds a little familiar).

      At any rate I in no way think the Iran hostage crisis was appropriate but my point is that our government wasn't innocent and the true victims were the hostages who had to pay for bad policy. No different than the American, Israeli, Iraqi, Lebanese, and other innocent civilian populations that must suffer because of hedgemonic and arrogant leadership.

       

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      Sick of all this, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 1:02pm

      Re: skh, you're numbers are wrong

      "Iranians kidnapped 444 of our citizens"

      No. The Iranian hostage crisis involved 66 American hostages. 52 of them were held captive for 444 days.

      "Nice try at sounded intellectually enlightened, though."

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2007 @ 12:59am

      Re:

      "We are creating a lot of very pissed off people in the Middle East, where only a few previously existed."
      Yeah, seems like since the late 70's, when Iranians kidnapped 444 of our citizens, that the majority of Muslims (Arab or Persian or whatever) just loved us to pieces.

      Many people are 'pissed off' and for many reasons. Some reasons are enough to get people to take actions.
      In the 1970's, a few people were pissed off over the action s of the 1950's (ousting an elected leader).
      The killing of family members and destruction of property going on now will be the seeds that grow into future problems.
      If the US can't afford the present 'protection efforts' (aka borrowing to pay the bills) - how will the future efforts be paid for?

       

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    jack Sombra, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 12:21pm

    "how is law enforcement going to respond when there's a real threat?"
    Stupid question because answer is so obvious, they will nuke the whole city

     

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    MindTrigger, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 12:37pm

    @skh

    Since you engaged me:

    I suppose you think we should fear Germany too, since we once fought a war against them.

    I'm particularly interested in the weekly attacks in the United States nobody but seems to know about but you, and the ones that should make me fear radio and sign bombs in this country. Please enlighten me.

    You can question my patriotism all you want, if that's how you wish to attack my position. Smacks of redirection to me.

     

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    The Dukeman (profile), Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 12:58pm

    who's...

    Who's being naive now? Surrepticious activities anywhere not on one's own property deserves punishment by any means necessary to deter that kind of behavior. Intent only goes so far as a defense for any crime, be it crimes against persons or against property. Certainly not far enough to deflect guilt. Most of these crimes can be considered against both persons AND property. Every action does cause a reaction, just maybe not what the perpetrator thought the reaction should be. Intent should be only an issue pertaining to the severity of the punishment, not whether a crime has been perpetrated. The action had already been committed, and the damage resulting from the action already wreaked against the victims.

    The agencies behind this type of response are not without culpability either. These knee-jerk responses by bomb squads are politically motivated. They report ONLY to political figures, so their actions must, in order to protect their jobs, be aimed toward protecting those Politicians. If our public service agencies were really geared toward protecting the public, they would use investigation as a prerequisite to other actions, not as an afterthought. An example: a suitcase was recently detonated by the bomb squad in a Texas store's parking lot. The suitcase was fired upon after it had been x-rayed and could not be identified as a bomb. Instead of opening the case to find that perhaps someone had lost their suitcase, they destroyed it. This action was NOT in the interest of the public safety. It was, in fact, a crime against the property of the person who did lose the suitcase. It was perpetrated by those responsible for making the Politicians look like they were protecting someone besides themselves. I'll bet that if the person who lost their suitcase turned up to claim it, they would be arrested for a "crime" by the very agency that destroyed their property instead of being apologized to and compensated for their loss. This shows the real disparity between what should be done and what actually occurs.

    That said, the perpetrators of the acts cited in the article should be prepared to pay a real price for any actions they commit that is against the interest of public safety. ANY person that sneaks onto MY property or any public property that I use on a regular basis and plants ANY DEVICE risks being shot as a Burglar, Sniper, or Terrorist, and deservedly so. The mere fact that they have to "sneak" around should be a wake up call to them that their actions are not in any way serving the public. I'm certainly not going to wait around for someone trespassing on my property to prove that they were "only playing a joke." The joke's on them. Play on your own property. It is that type of behavior that encourages Terrorists, and gives them not only an incentive to continue, but a "defense" as well.

    There are places designated for advertising and as such are safe places to advertise. Just because the ad agencies are running out of interesting ideas does not mean they have the "right" to commit acts against the public safety. They are victims of their own success in that they have saturated our lives to such an extent that their messages are being ignored as noise. That's why there are buttons on some DVRs that allow commercials to be skipped over during playback, and MUTE buttons on our entertainment devices. They were requested by CONSUMERS, the same people the advertisers want to reach. If the ad agencies can come up with a new idea, then get permission from the owners of property to display this "data", then I applaud them. If not, they have become criminals against persons and property, and should be stopped by any means necessary to provide for public safety.

    "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. Don't do it! Don't do it!"

     

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    Bill, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 1:16pm

    fun for the squad

    Come on bomb squads don't actually get to detonate things verify often. Let them have some fun blowing up a couple boomboxes.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 1:22pm

    Not so

    One of the first things taught to soldiers when making improvised munitions and using them against (presumably) military targets is to detonate one explosive device, which attracts attention to the first explosion, then detonate multiple others around the original.
    What better way to attract people to a small explosive device than to place it on top of something that would attract attention to it, and then detonate it when it is moved or deactivated?
    This technique goes at least as far back as WWI and has been used heavily since.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    Added for education purposes

    Anyone who has spent any time in the military knows that attracting soldiers or even noncombatants to something that gains their curiosity is the easiest way to maim or kill with a small explosive device. Not all bombs are big and blow holes the size of city blocks, most IAD's are small and effective over only a short range. During the Vietnam conflict, children were taped with grenades and then sent into bases that held American personnel in order to kill the few soldiers who were close enough when the child entered, often times the child knew little or nothing of what was really going on.
    It is a sad fact that one would have to be so concerned over a CD player playing a vulgar message, but really, in todays day and age where bomb making materials abound, and the internet has so many recipes for destruction to offer, who shouldn't be a little more careful?

     

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    MindTrigger, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 1:32pm

    There was no question that a real crime was committed here. I was addressing the fear-mongering public show of blowing stuff up as the problem for me. If a prank breaks the law, it should be punished accordingly. I have no problem with that. How much should the public spend in bomb squad visits and DNA lab tests for pranks though? Who's watching over our tax dollars?

    In the case of Boston, the advertisers and/or Network should have been fined for multiple counts of littering or other charges related to placing stuff where permission was not given. The Boston authorities wanted to charge the two sign placers with placing Hoax Bomb Devices, and throw them in jail, even after it was clear they were part of an advertising campaign. When that didn't work, they went after the network for the money they pissed away in while overreacting

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 1:47pm

    Sleepwalking Towards a Police State...

    ...welcome to Dumbfuckistan.

     

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      Tyshaun, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 2:12pm

      Re: Sleepwalking Towards a Police State...

      ...welcome to Dumbfuckistan.

      Amen!

      This all reminds me of the anthrax scare a few years back. At the time I worked on a volunteer rescue squad in a non-descipt suburb in NJ. At one point we were answering 4 or 6 calls a day for "suspicious powder". For every response we dispatched at least one police car (crowd control), a fire engine (decontamination), and an ambulance (patient care). This went on for about 3 months until people finally learned that sometimes if it looks like dust or flour, it really is dust or flour.

      It also helped that that SOP for potential anthrax contamination at the time involved stripping the subject down and hosing them down with a low pressure fire hose (think icy cold water being splashed on you while you stand in a plastic pool set up in the middle of the street trying to keep your private parts private). After the word got out mysteriously the reports of "suspicious powder" started to fall too. Maybe that's the answer for suspicious devices, OK, let's treat every fracking one of them as though they are an explosive device at detonate where they lay (in peoples houses, airports, churches, cars, whever!) I wonder how long until people start using their brains before employing a blasting cap.

      Btw, to those who used the IAD example, has it really reached the point where this is an appropriate and reasonable comparison, New Mexico churches are just as dangerous as a street in Baghdad?

       

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    zcat, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 2:08pm

    Real Devices

    The last case of any real terrorise devices that I can recall in America was the UnaBomber.

    The only device I can recall offhand looked like a stray piece of wood with a few old nails left in a carpark. You might want to start phoning the bomb squad every time you spot a bit of 4x2 lying around where someone might pick it up, it could be a bomb.

    Similar devices include the explosive-packed coke can, McDonalds burger carton, large paper cup. You can pack a good amount of C4 and a movement trigger into any of those.

    Then of course there's the car bomb. Any car parked anywhere could be packed with half a ton of explosives.

    Speaking of cars, I was driving down our street yesterday and noticed someone had placed one of those 'car counter' things. Metal case strapped to a powerpole. plenty of room for an explosive charge and a good quantity of ball-bearings. It even has a pair of rubber strips which could detect stop-and-go traffic conditions for maximum effect.

    In a post-911 world, these things all need to be reported and disrupted by the appropriate agencies.

     

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    Amen Brother, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 2:30pm

    Read the thread above and...

    Read the thread above and figure out how many of these whackos you run into every day.

    We have so sanitized the environment that the typical American can't recognize a real threat. So everything is a threat.

    The good part is that anybody living in this level of fear will probably die of hypertensive stress. Unfortunately, their paranoid fear may make them do something irrational first. Maybe take out the ice cream man because his tinkle bell was suspiciously off key.

     

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    Unafraid Australian, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 7:02pm

    Suspicious devices

    A couple of years before September 11, in Lismore, Australia - a resonable sized country town - there were boxes placed out in the open with wires sticking out of them and a phonecall was made to the police alleging that these were bombs. Because of various reasons this was concidered highly unlikely but the area was cleared and the bomb squad was called in to detonate the "devices" as a precation.

    Now with these they would probably be clasified as "suspicious devices" whose only purpose could be assumed to be a bomb or to make people think it was a bomb concidering the phone call. Everyone knew they wern't really bombs but they had to be treated seriously because a theat had been made.

    With the cd players they had an obvious alternate use (even I would find the idea of little old church goers being shocked by bad language seeming to come from this air inside a church slightly amusing - let alone what a bunch of bored young kids would think). So there was a slightly malicious obvious reason for them to be there, no threats made and they had been safely moved by untrained civilians? What on earth made them suspicious?

    The only purpose of fear like this is to keep people in power which is why the theory that the US government did the trade towers attack was potentially plausable - as unlikely as this is they did use the attack to their advantage to get the population behind them.

    The only good thing I can say is that despite his best efforts John Howard (our prime minister) hasn't managed such a sucess as Bush has - I havn't heard of anything in Australia being blown up since that prank in my hometown - I just hope Howard himself doesn't try blowing anything up to stay in power.

     

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    Karl, Feb 24th, 2007 @ 3:52am

    This sounds familiar

    Read 1984

     

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    everydayjoe, Feb 24th, 2007 @ 1:20pm

    ...from the Book of Armaments

    Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ... Now did the Lord say, "First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."

    ...get a grip.

     

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    Fritz Reinders, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 12:18am

    An after thought

    In the late 1980's Spokane Wa had bombs placed outside downtown buildings. Some of them detonated causing damage to the buildings from shrapnel. Some were blown up by the police.

    These were the classic pipe bombs. an 8" length of 1-1/2" diameter pipe with caps on each end ... inside was the detonator, explosive and shrapnel.

    They worked & made the 3rd page of the city newspaper. Not sure if the story was picked up by anyone else. In those days a minor terrorism incident was noted and forgotten once the police said they were looking for who dun it.

    More recently a terrorist was stopped crossing into Washington state. Maybe he would have made the national news if Customs hadn't searched the car...

    With the war on terrorism as it is today those simple pipe bombs would have been world news. Much more effective as an anti-terrorism measure was the way the media handled it at that time.

     

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    skh, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 6:46am

    Thanks for the correction on the number of Iranian hostages.

    "Stories about terrorism that only I know about?" I'm not going to go look all of them up, but there are stories about Islamic radicals causing death and destruction in the US continually. The asshat in NC, IIRC, who ran over ~12 students on campus. The recent shootings by the Islamic terrorist whose father said that he was "a good boy." The guy who blew himself up outside of a football stadium in OK (?). The Islamic extremist who shot up a Jewish temple in Seattle, IIRC. The Islamic asshat who shot and attacked the ticket counter employees at an airport. The commune of Islamic (American) radicals in GA who advocate sharia over US law.

    Ignoring the reality of Muslim extremism isn't going to make them like us. They want us dead. The only reason that we haven't seen more carnage here in the States is that there aren't enough of them here yet. Look to Eurabian countries to see how the US will look in a decade.

     

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      Fritz Reinders, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 12:45am

      Re:

      SKH

      The reason you haven't heard about those "terrorism" incidents is that in US they are classified as hate crimes. US doesn't make a special category for Islamic hate, they lump it in with KKK, White Supremacist, Black Supremacist Anti Gay, PETA, ELF and any other crime that is based on dislike of another group.

      If you reclassify all the "Hate Crimes" as terrorism (which they are) you will find US domestic terrorism to be reported virtually every day. Of course most of the US domestic terrorism is not Islamic & quite a bit is attacks on Moslems by Christians.

      This doesn't help advance the War On Terror of course so it is quietly brushed under the carpet unless the perps are Moslem.

       

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    Sick of all this, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 2:17pm

    In some places, people have mentioned Israel, Iraq and Ireland as examples, a coke can at the side of the road could be considered "suspicious" and no one would question it. However, whether or not something is suspicious depends largely on the environment it is in. A very silly example, although it illustrates the point, is that a pipe in a plumbing warehouse could be a pipe-bomb, but more likely it is just a pipe. It would be different if the pipe was on the steps of the White House or on a crowded bus or train. It would still probably just be a pipe, but it would be more reasonable to assume the worst. If the cd players were found in a Synagogue in Jerusalem no one would think twice about blowing them up, but the fact is they were found in New Mexico.

     

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    Gaston, Feb 28th, 2007 @ 5:54pm

    Duck and cover

    When was the last time a real bomb was exploded by our courageous captains of defense?

     

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    Fido, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 11:25pm

    Whew, you think YOU had a ruff day! You should try sniffin out bombs for a living.
    Fido,
    Workin Class Dog

     

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