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Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:52 pm UTC
by jestingrabbit
Here's a little link to a story about a guy who had pretty much completely assembled a dirty bomb. I mean, there was a little more work to do, but he had the parts it seems to me.

the article wrote:The report says Maine authorities detected radioactivity emanating from four jars labeled "uranium metal" as well as found two jars of thorium. Upon further analysis, the four jars of uranium metal held depleted uranium 238 while the jars of thorium contained thorium 232. The FBI comments included within the report say literature on constructing dirty bombs was found as well as information relating to cesium-137, strontium-90, and cobalt-60.


Hmmm, that's odd, it hasn't been driving the 24/7 news networks wild. How could that be?

Via SchneierHey that rhymes!

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:18 pm UTC
by william
It's a white guy. Everybody knows white people can't be terrorists.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:28 pm UTC
by frezik
White Supremacists are closer (in a relative sense) in ideology to Rush Limbaugh than any Muslem extermists are, so it's harder to get a sense of "other" and dehumanize them. It's much easier to do the same for people who live half way around the planet and have little shared culture. Rationally, extremisim of any ideology forms a terrorist threat, but it's too easy for psychology to get in the way.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:46 pm UTC
by PurpleMint
"Pretty much completely assembled?" Actually, the isotopes he had weren't nearly potent enough for a bomb. There's a correction at the bottom of the article. Plus he only had the raw ingredients for the explosive mixture.

Did his wife know about this? (EDIT: yes she did. gotta read slower) Because I expected her to list it as her main reason for shooting him.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:47 pm UTC
by Brooklynxman
I see no difference between domestic terrorists and foreign, in my eyes they are the same.

Fuck you news media.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:56 pm UTC
by Indon
PurpleMint wrote:"Pretty much completely assembled?" Actually, the isotopes he had weren't nearly potent enough for a bomb. There's a correction at the bottom of the article. Plus he only had the raw ingredients for the explosive mixture.

Dirty bombs don't require any amount of radioactive potency, though - even a highly potent dirty bomb doesn't actually do very much, in terms of casualties - it's all about inciting fear. That is to say, terrorism. So the guy had a dirty bomb, he just wasn't very good at it.

Also, I'm pretty sure the article's wrong about Depleted Uranium - while it's not radioactive, it's not harmless, either, being a heavy metal and thus capable of inducing heavy metal poisoning (and probably not, in fact, being processed through the body quite so easily), though, that's debatable.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:02 pm UTC
by Gunfingers
Wiki wrote:Because U-234 accounts for about half the radioactivity of natural uranium, the external radiation dose from DU is about 60 percent of that from the same mass of natural uranium.

Image

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:10 pm UTC
by Veracious Sole
Weakly radioactive or not. I can't imagine it would be terribly easy to get a hold of those radioactive metals. Any idea where he picked them up?

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:14 pm UTC
by jestingrabbit
PurpleMint wrote:"Pretty much completely assembled?" Actually, the isotopes he had weren't nearly potent enough for a bomb. There's a correction at the bottom of the article. Plus he only had the raw ingredients for the explosive mixture.


That's true, it would have been a pretty clean dirty bomb, just using what he already had. And you're right that the bomb hadn't been put together yet, but you wouldn't do that until you were in the very final stages, else it might prematurely detonate.

But still, he did have some of the materials needed, and was progressing to assembly. Compare the media's response to muslim terrorists who haven't even got any of the materiel assembled at all. Perhaps you recall the coverage of the "chicago plot". From that article: "No weapons were found in the Miami warehouse, and the seven had not posed any immediate danger, the FBI said." But they were front page news for days.

The news here, imo, is the clear double standard that currently exists.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:19 pm UTC
by Brooklynxman
The anthrax mail attacks did get serious coverage, but they were immediatly following september 11th, thus, it didn't matter who was doing it. The plane that crashed in the rockaways got national coverage for days and people were scared shitless.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:27 pm UTC
by jestingrabbit
Brooklynxman wrote:The anthrax mail attacks did get serious coverage, but they were immediatly following september 11th, thus, it didn't matter who was doing it. The plane that crashed in the rockaways got national coverage for days and people were scared shitless.


You're talking about events that happened in the months right after the wtc attacks.

My point is that currently, or at least as recently as mid 2006, there is an irrational hysteria associated with people who haven't even got any weapons, let alone anything more dangerous; because they're muslims, because they're not white. Contrast that with the fact that when a white supremacist is actually getting the material required to create a bomb together its not even worth a brief flicker of interest from the national media.

This is a double standard.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:31 pm UTC
by frezik
Veracious Sole wrote:Weakly radioactive or not. I can't imagine it would be terribly easy to get a hold of those radioactive metals. Any idea where he picked them up?


United Nuclear sells the stuff.

Depleated Uranium isn't that hard to get. There's so much of it left over after processing it for enriched uranium that companies practically pay you to take it away. Any time you want to balance out the weight of something while taking minimal volume (like a plane or a boat), a bit of DU is probably there.

Thorium is also available, in small quantities, in just about any smoke detector.

In any case, it's important to reiterate that the Dirty Bombs are only useful as a fear tactic. In terms of actual damage, you'd be better off with a pipebomb full of nails. Provided the government can control the panic in the population, there's little practical effect. In fact, I'd say a good response to a dirty bomb is to hide the details, evacuate the area on a thin pretext, and only reveal the real reason after everyone is out.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:37 pm UTC
by Minerva
Now, of course, this seems like a bit of a beat-up - but I’m not sure who’s to blame here, the newspaper, or the perhaps overly dramatic (internal) FBI report.

The memo leaked on WikiLeaks reports that:

“State authorities detected radiation emissions in four small jars in the residence labelled ‘uranium metal’, as well as one jar labelled ‘thorium’. The four jars of uranium carried the label of an identified US company.”

“Further preliminary analysis on 30 december 2008 indicated an unlabeled jar to be a second jar of thorium. Each bottle of uranium contained depleted uranium-238. Analysis also indicated the two jars of thorium held thorium-232.”

Now, regarding this US company. I have a pretty good suspicion who this company is - there aren’t too many companies that sell small samples of depleted uranium to the public - but I’m not going to mention the company by name, simply because they do not deserve to be unfairly tarnished or persecuted in relation to this incident, and they will be, again, if the media catches their name. Oh me yarm, they sell the scary radioactive material on the internet! Panic!

This company provides quite a few products which are very interesting and very useful in scientific teaching, education and research, including some items which are extremely difficult to find on the market anywhere else, and they already cop enough persecution and flak as it is. Nothing they sell poses any special danger to the community at large, and small samples of uranium metal are, personally, one of the least dangerous things they sell.

The company in question, from what I recall, sells (depleted) uranium metal samples in 5 gram bottles, and used to sell thorium as one-gram samples.

If these samples were what these bottles possessed by this person were, then you’re talking about approximately 20 g of depleted uranium metal, and approximately 2 g of thorium metal. That’s about 10 microcuries of uranium, and about 0.22 microcuries of thorium. That's a miniscule amount of radioactivity, it's harmless.

There’s nothing that constitutes any radiological hazard to anybody. A bucket full of uranium-bearing rock (which contains natural uranium in equilibrium with radium, radon, polonium, etc) picked up out of the ground would contain more radioactivity than this. Uranium-238 and thorium-232 are some of the least radioactive substances you can find that can still actually be called radioactive. They’re completely, utterly irrelevant to any threat of a radiological weapon, at all.

That said, however, I’m sure it is within the limits plausibility that this person was intent on trying to build a radiological weapon, he simply didn’t go about it in a particularly effective fashion.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:05 pm UTC
by PurpleMint
Indon wrote:
PurpleMint wrote:"Pretty much completely assembled?" Actually, the isotopes he had weren't nearly potent enough for a bomb. There's a correction at the bottom of the article. Plus he only had the raw ingredients for the explosive mixture.

Dirty bombs don't require any amount of radioactive potency, though - even a highly potent dirty bomb doesn't actually do very much, in terms of casualties - it's all about inciting fear. That is to say, terrorism. So the guy had a dirty bomb, he just wasn't very good at it.

Also, I'm pretty sure the article's wrong about Depleted Uranium - while it's not radioactive, it's not harmless, either, being a heavy metal and thus capable of inducing heavy metal poisoning (and probably not, in fact, being processed through the body quite so easily), though, that's debatable.


I'd just say my bomb was radioactive then... ...or load it with mercury and arsenic instead.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:42 pm UTC
by bigglesworth
jestingrabbit wrote:
Brooklynxman wrote:The anthrax mail attacks did get serious coverage, but they were immediatly following september 11th, thus, it didn't matter who was doing it. The plane that crashed in the rockaways got national coverage for days and people were scared shitless.


You're talking about events that happened in the months right after the wtc attacks.

My point is that currently, or at least as recently as mid 2006, there is an irrational hysteria associated with people who haven't even got any weapons, let alone anything more dangerous; because they're muslims, because they're not white. Contrast that with the fact that when a white supremacist is actually getting the material required to create a bomb together its not even worth a brief flicker of interest from the national media.

This is a double standard.


In any case, in the media directly following the attacks, there were accusations flung at Al Qaeda, Syria, Iraq, the Taliban...

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:00 pm UTC
by Mzyxptlk
frezik wrote:In any case, it's important to reiterate that the Dirty Bombs are only useful as a fear tactic. In terms of actual damage, you'd be better off with a pipebomb full of nails. Provided the government can control the panic in the population, there's little practical effect. In fact, I'd say a good response to a dirty bomb is to hide the details, evacuate the area on a thin pretext, and only reveal the real reason after everyone is out.

This.

In that light, the media shouldn't pay attention to a story like this, so they acted correctly in this case (by accident though, they would've taken every opportunity to blow it out of proportions if someone in/from the Middle East had tried to do this).

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:56 pm UTC
by Indon
PurpleMint wrote:I'd just say my bomb was radioactive then... ...or load it with mercury and arsenic instead.


That'd probably be more dangerous, as heavy metal poisoning could resemble radiation poisoning to a layman - and dirty bombs almost can't cause radiation poisoning.

Re: Dirty Bombs, White Supremacists and Not Giving a Rat's Arse.

Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:51 pm UTC
by PurpleMint
That'd probably be more dangerous,


That's what I meant.