Bill Stone Column: Mon Sep 1 08:00:01 CDT 2003
- Professional Paranoid
by William Stone, III <wrs@...>
There are no terrorists in the United States. There never have been,
there aren't any now, and there aren't likely to be any in the future.
And I can prove it.
In my "day job" I am an information systems security specialist. My job
is to be a professional paranoid. My clients pay me to think up ways that
an individual might compromise sensitive data, and then to mitigate
against that risk. This ranges from physical security to network security
to procedural security. I've been doing this kind of work for something
like ten years, now, and I don't mind saying that I'm good at what I do.
In my capacity as a professional paranoid, I have occasionally turned my
mind to notions of more general physical security. I have marveled at
the occasional stupidity of America's few terrorists. From a tactical
perspective, Timothy McVeigh was a low-grade moron. Someone with my
training would have bombed a much larger building and never been caught.
Catch me sometime in person, and I'll explain what someone could have done
to the Sears Tower with the same material, yet by simply catching the El
to O'Hare could have been on a plane to South America when Upper Wacker
Drive collapsed onto Lower.
Since September 11, the FedGov has used the claim of terrorists
insinuating themselves into every fabric of American life to justify all
manner of draconian "security" measures.
As to the "security" of these measures, in my professional opinion,
they're worse than useless. One cannot reliably place access controls on
public places short of putting a cordon of armed guards around it with
orders to shoot everyone who tries to breach it. Anything less -- such as
"airport security" -- is a waste of time, from a security perspective.
Similarly, "enhancing" security by violating individual rights as the
FedGov has done achieves nothing but further accustoming individuals to
the notion that they have no rights save those granted by government.
In any case, as I've already stated, there are no terrorists in the United
States, and the proof of this is simple.
The United States -- despite all the efforts of the FedGov to enslave it
-- is still the most free society in the world. No doubt our freedoms
will continue to be curtailed, but for the moment, there is nothing to
prevent terrorists from existing.
Nor, frankly, should there be anything to prevent their existence. In a
free society, one of the accepted dangers is that it's possible for
individuals to harm one another. The great lie about laws is that they
exist to prevent behavior that would cause harm. In fact, laws exist to
punish or exact restitution from individuals who've already harmed others.
The only way to PREVENT harm is a total police state in which individuals
are allowed no freedom whatsoever.
Consider the following, then: given that the United States is reasonably
free; given that in a free society, it is possible for individuals to
harm one another. Now, as an intellectual exercise, let's add a given:
the FedGov's paranoid fantasies are all true, and terrorist organizations
dedicated to destroying America are hiding behind every rock, shrub, and
Here's where my training as a professional paranoid comes into play.
Given these notions, imagine with me that you are a terrorist bent on
destroying America. How would you go about doing so?
You wouldn't do it through direct military confrontation. The United
States military has become an enormous group of individuals carrying out
the Unconstitutional policies of those in power. Direct confrontation
against the military is simply an involved way of committing suicide.
Similarly, because individuals are in many areas of the country still
allowed to carry deadly weapons, attempting any kind of military victory
in even a small town is suicidal. The local residents will kill you the
moment some 12-year-old with a .22 calibre rifle lines you up in his
What options have you? Guerrilla and terrorist tactics.
Terrorist tactics seem the most likely to succeed, given the limited funds
and personnel of a secret terrorist organization. The next problem
becomes, what sort of weapons will you use?
The options are fairly broad in today's era: traditional explosives
(bombs, rifles, pistols, etc.), nuclear weapons, biological, and chemical
Remember, one of the goals of a terrorist organization would be to remain
secret. This being the case, it has a shortage of trained technical
personnel, as well as a shortage of specialized materiel. Remember, too,
that nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons are expensive, difficult to
obtain and refine, and are rife with all manner of toxic side effects.
They're additionally very difficult to transport and deliver with any
degree of accuracy and success.
Given all this, it seems likely that the average terrorist will choose
simple, cheap, easy-to-manufacture, easy-to-hide, easy-to-deliver
explosive-based weapons. In fact, this is what we find worldwide:
terrorists use explosives rather than nuclear or biological weapons.
Now, I realize that there are some among my readership who will object to
what I'm about to do. I'm going to give a very specific example of
something a terrorist COULD do with explosives if they were inclined to.
The objection raised will be that this example is "giving information to
Trust me: if there were an enemy, they'd've done this -- or something
very like it -- already. I may be a professional paranoid, but I don't
spend the majority of my time looking for terrorist targets. They do.
I'm a South Dakotan, so when I turn loose the professional paranoid inside
me, I look to South Dakota's beautiful Black Hills. Hundreds of thousands
of tourists visit every year, concentrated around Mount Rushmore. This
makes it a perfect target for terrorists.
As a major tourist attraction, Mount Rushmore has no access controls.
Access is granted to anyone who has the trivial amount of money to pay the
parking fee. Access is then entirely open, and anyone is free to wander
the visitor's center, the huge amphitheater used for the evening lighting
ceremony, and the hiking trail to the base of the mountain's debris field.
There are no real access controls to prevent individuals from leaving the
hiking trail, though in short order they'd probably be noticed.
The highest concentration of people at Mount Rushmore occurs during the
evening lighting ceremony. During this ceremony, the area is dark to
facilitate a DVD display in the amphitheater. During tourist season,
the ceremony plays to packed crowds. There aren't even enough seats, and
individuals sit, stand, and watch shoulder-to-shoulder in some cases.
It is the PERFECT terrorist target -- like hundreds of thousands of other
all over the United States.
There would be nothing -- absolutely nothing -- to prevent a terrorist
from filling a small knapsack (of the kind worn by hundreds of tourists)
full of pipe bombs. Such explosives are identical to those used at the
Olympic Park bombing and are simplicity itself to make. For a few hundred
dollars, one could fill one's garage to bursting with them, and it
requires only a trip to the local hardware and sporting goods stores to
obtain the materials for them.
If there were hundreds of thousands of terrorists in this country, there
would necessarily be thousands of basements filled with cheap,
easy-to-make pipe bombs to choose from for the job of terrorizing Mount
Rushmore's tourists. They would throw a few into a knapsack, spend a few
extra dollars for a timed detonator, and rent a car in Rapid City. They'd
then arrive at Mount Rushmore in time for the lighting ceremony, take a
seat in the center of the crowd, and quietly slide their knapsack under
the concrete bench in the amphitheater. They'd then leave, ostensibly to
go to the bathroom (if an excuse is even necessary), get in their car and
drive back to Rapid. With appropriate timing, about the time their car
hits the town of Keystone, the explosive will go off, killing dozens and
injuring hundreds. They'd then return the rental car in Rapid and
disappear back into obscurity.
That's just one possible scenario. As I mentioned, there are hundreds
of thousands of potential targets such as this throughout the United
States. If one allows one's paranoid fantasies free reign, one realizes
that if terrorists existed in the United States, there should be a news
story every single day about how some public place was bombed somewhere
There is nothing -- literally NOTHING -- preventing the devious terrorists
the FedGov claims exist from performing such acts every day. And yet,
such acts never occur. Not today, not yesterday, and not ever.
Terrorists aren't stupid -- the ease with which they took advantage of the
way the FedGov immorally disarms airline passengers proves this. If they
wished to plant a bomb in the middle of the evening lighting ceremony at
Mount Rushmore, they'd have done it long ago.
How can we account for this discrepancy? How can there exist terrorist in
the United States -- each capable of coming up with schemes far more
nefarious than my paranoid musings -- and yet, no terrorist acts of this
type have ever been committed?
The answer is simple: there are no terrorists. If there were, we'd see
their acts every day. Terrorism wouldn't be confined to US-occupied
countries like Iraq, they would literally occur every day somewhere in the
United States, in a manner similar to -- or worse than -- that which I
They don't exist. Terrorists in the United States are a stark, raving,
paranoid fantasy -- at best. More likely, it's a cold, calculated attempt
on the part of those in power to terrify Americans into rash actions that
they otherwise would never take.
There is no war on terrorism because there are no terrorists in the United
States. There is a war on your freedom, being waged from the office of
the President, his cronies and accomplices all through Washington, DC, and
in every Federal building in every town and city in America.
You have nothing to fear from terrorists: they're a figment of the
imagination of those in power. The real enemy is those who would
manufacture nonexistent terrorists in order to further their own ends.
William Stone, III is a computer nerd (RHCE, CCNP, CISSP) and Executive
Director of the Zero Aggression Institute (http://www.0ap.org). He seeks the
Libertarian Party's nomination for the 2004 Senate race in South Dakota.