Monday, December 26, 2005

New Mac Johnson column

Bush Violates Terrorists' Nuclear Privacy
Not to be outdone, U.S. News and World Report put on its water wings Friday and tried to create a splash of it own, by reporting that the same renegade Bush administration has been monitoring radiation levels in the public air -- without a warrant! Gasp! The power-mad Bushies have done this in a diabolical attempt to get early warning of terrorists preparing to use a nuclear or dirty bomb against an American city. According to the story, this program is fraught with all sorts of subtle privacy issues.

I mean, when you don’t have the right to leak radiation into the communal air from a clandestine nuclear bomb, what rights do you have really? Clearly, Bush is Hitler, but worse.

It's funny but it's serious. I know that I laughed reading this but we should really be concerned about the mental stability of journalists and their constant aid to the enemy.

For those of you who have read about this "scandal" in the media, let Mac tell you about it, he's more informative and very witty.

15 comments:

Dare!PDX said...

I remember seeing a news story about this years ago. They showed scientists trying to determine the path a nerve agent or dirty bomb would take as the wind blew it around Manhattan.

Sounds like another nonstory.

Daniel said...

It is a non-story but in the media's constant mission to find a "scandal" in the Bush administration things like this can be front page news if you use the right buzzwords. (Privacy, rights, torture)

You notice how all the non-stories of the past (Halliburton, torture, Tom DeLay, stolen elections) seem to just disappear from the radar. Maybe they weren't so important after all...

Rocker said...

This is a STORY but for other reasons. Nuclear material is a National Securtiy issue.

Joe Average Citizen is not authorized to have possession of nuclear material, period, except for the minute quantities in smoke detector and similar items. This means I don't have a Right to Privacy to conceal nuclear materials in my possession.

I would want, no I demand that the government search for, detect, and remove from my NEIGHBORHOOD nuclear material in the hands of anybody, especially a terrorist. Warrents or No Warrents.

Playin' Possum said...

I agree on the issue, that being the government's right to monitor in public spaces. But there is something a bit unusual here which might or might not be significant.

You say "leak radiation into the communal air from a clandestine nuclear bomb." The original article doesn't mention radiation monitoring but rather "air sampling." I'm wondering if this isn't two different things.

For less than $1000 you or any citizen can buy an ionizing radiation meter that will give you the peace of mind of realizing you are constantly being bombarded by invisible rays...

labsafety.com is one place to go if you are so inclined...

But bombs give off more than radiation. They constantly give off decay products which are measurable by air sampling. The very best equipment can find even the best shielded bomb if they are close enough.

So what? So this. The first testing approach is so generic it's pretty much worthless unless the emitter is strong and unshielded. Most of the time you would need to physically search to tell a properly made warhead from, for example, phosphate fertilizer... That, BTW, is where some of the false reports in Iraq have come from... There is a lot of "generic" radiation in the environment.

A stockpile of material for a dirty bomb would be different, but the people dying from radiation poisoning in the area might give that away first...

The other tests are far more complex, accurate, sensitive, specific... and expensive, of course.

I'm betting even the government doesn't have many of these rigs.

So ponder this: If I'm right about the method, did the government have a reason to be looking for a sophisticated, even state of the art, small or even man-portable warhead?

Now that would be a story...

jwalker said...

Uh, am I understanding this? They are mad because the government was checking for radiation? Did I get that right? I'm missing something right?

Daniel said...

Sadly JWalker, you are correct. It seems that any anti-terror measures that we now take will be viewed as "violating civil liberties" or "trampling the constitution."

Everything is framed in a "Bush is a cowboy who doesn't follow rules" story.

If I was the media's target it would look like this:

Daniel went to his mailbox... WITHOUT A WARRANT.

Daniel said...

Oh, and playinpossum, I don't know enough about the radiation issue to speak intelligently on this. I can only speak in simple terms:

Air sampling and radiation monitoring are vital for our national security, you don't need a warrant, and if you do then I'm suing DEQ for monitoring the air (which contain my private car emissions) without a warrant. I feel so violated...

Playin' Possum said...

Don't be grumpy...

"Air sampling and radiation monitoring are vital for our national security, you don't need a warrant"...

I did agree on the whole... I'm not sure it's vital, and I'm not enough of a lawyer to comment on the warrant... But I'll still add my uninformed "yea" to the rabble... :-)

I'm still curious about the rest. Radiation monitoring? A lot of places do it. Some private companys do it as part of their safety programs. The point is this is common. The whole "mission impossible in a van" shtick is more.

Maybe this is just people who don't know writing about what they don't know about, but there is no such thing as raditaion in the air per se.

If I measure carbon dioxide, I'm measuring a quantity in a quantity, like parts per million. If I measure radiation, I measure a quantity - a count - in a time: Usually millirems per second. There may be emitting particles in an air sample - that's what Radon is - but the radiation itself stops when it's source stops emitting.

But if I'm looking for the decay products of a radioisotope, those may stick around. Furthermore, by analyzing ratios, I can make some pretty good guesses on original source based on decay rates. Using Radon again - it doesn't accumulate. If I detect it, I know there is a constantly emitting source because it decays in only a few days.

But all this is analyzing material substance, not radiation.

So back to the question. The equipment has a limited range. There are infinite possibilities. Even if we limit it to, for example, Mosques, there are thousands of them.

I want to know why they were looking where they were in fact looking... There's the story...

MAX Redline said...

Let's face it; this is just another opportunity to bash Bush. That man could walk on water, and these folks would be jeering at him for being too stupid to swim.

What I find a bit ironic about this hubbub is the fact that, during the 1990's when the Clinton administration was using infrared detection to monitor suspicious private residences, nobody uttered a peep. DEA used the technology to catch several large grow operations that were underway in the attics and basements of suspected traffickers - I saw one of the images obtained of an attic, and the halide lamps up there generated such a strong signature that the roof appeared to glow.

The point is, it seems to be okay when Clinton does it, but not when Bush does it.

Daniel said...

"I want to know why they were looking where they were in fact looking... There's the story..."

I wasn't trying to be grumpy with you. I agree with what you say. The story that we may have intelligence suggesting a radiological attack is big news. The fact that our media takes the non-story approach and alerts our enemies to how we are looking is also a big story.

Jay, you can thank an Oregon pot head for putting a stop to that form of marijana detection. A Florence grower sued and won in the Supreme Court. Hippies everywhere are free to grow in the closet.

But I get your point...

fatrichie said...

It's a pretty sad time for the media in this country. They are so hell bent to (wait, do they believe in hell?) trash GWB that they have to report only inflamatory news on a daily basis. Since the country is not rallying to impeach Bush over the wire tapping, they have to do something else.

I wonder what it'll be tomarrow!

Anonymous said...

Ya don't tell the truth it may hurt us . I'm afraid of the truth . Please president "Dumba" save us , "Joe Average Citizens". "We'z to dum to understands'!"That's why we did vote you in" 25% is a mandate in my reptile mind .

Anonymous said...

Here is a little food for thought, a big what if:

Randy leonard and the mayors devotion on removing the JTTF an PDX from co-operartive work "IF" a radition level was found via space-based insturments in a Muslim area of PDX?

WOULD YOU FEEL THEIR "CIVIL RIGHTS" WERE ABUSED?

With the full Knowledge that the PDX "6" were convicted of supporting and training to work within a terror cell right here....what if they pulled if off, after local pressure made the cops back off?

Just a little food Randy can choke on.

Tony said...

Hey anon, 2 posts above:

Nice use of racist language to suggest that poor black people are stupid.

Who is the idiot now, you latent racist jerk?

And the issue that got everyone hot and bothered was that they were monitoring the air around Muslim dominated areas (Mosques, Vera Katz's office, etc).

Right. They should be checking the Oregon Veterans Home or poking around synagogues. We know that is where the real terrorists hang out.

They are welcome to sweep my neighborhood for radiation anytime.

Tony said...

Oh...and while we are at it we should go back to frisking Senators and old women in "random" searches while the young middle eastern men get on the plane without any secondary check, because it has really only been 99.7% of all terrorist acts that were committed by young muslim men. The rest were committed by old muslim men, or muslim women (nice to see there are finally some good opportunities for muslim women).