Ricin round-up

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks, War On Terror at 3:27 pm by George Smith

Attempted suicide in Texas:

Corpus Christi fire and police responded to a condominium complex in the 14200 block of Whitecap Boulevard at about 8:30 p.m. Monday.

The call was described as a mental health issue with threats of suicide, police Lt. J.C. Hooper said.

Hooper would not disclose the man’s condition on Tuesday.

Fire Capt. James Brown said the man made the mixture by extracting oil from castor beans. He did not know exactly how he made the liquid.

“He somehow constructed ricin on his own,” Brown said. “I’m not sure on the process, but he extracted oil from the beans and ingested it.”

Corpus Christi Medical Center confirmed that a patient suspected of ingesting ricin was admitted to the Bay Area Hospital.

Confusion reigns. If the young man was unable to get castor seeds, just castor oil, there was no ricin. Ricin is present only in the mash of castor seeds. Castor oil, on the other hand, has various uses in human society.

As a laxative is one.

In Derby, England, a video (which I have not seen), connected to an ongoing terrorism trial:

A factory worker contacted a man he believed was an IS commander to pledge allegiance to IS and ask for “an order”, a court has heard.

Munir Mohammed, 36, from Derby, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of plotting a terror attack using a homemade bomb with Rowaida El-Hassan.

The jury watched a video about making nerve agent ricin that was found at his home and they were told he exchanged messages with Ms El-Hassan about it.

They deny preparing terrorist acts.

Despite one of the accused’s alleged training in pharmacy, the level of expertise was quite low. One suspect was on video purchasing the wrong ingredient for a notional bomb plot:

Asda CCTV footage shows a suspected ‘bomb maker’ buying the wrong type of nail varnish remover for ‘terror attack’ explosives, a court has heard.

Sudanese immigrant Munir Mohammed allegedly enlisted the help of a chemist he met on a dating website in his plot to make explosives or deadly ricin poison …

The court was shown footage of the defendant visiting an Asda store near his home on December 1 last year.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told jurors when Mohammed was in the supermarket, he spoke on the phone to El-Hassan who sent him a link via WhatsApp to a website advertising a bottle of hydrogen peroxide,

Ms Whyte also told the court his till receipt showed he had bought a bottle of Sally Hansen acetone-free nail polish remover.

The prosecution say he saw the word “acetone” and assumed he was buying a component of TATP explosives, when in fact he had bought the wrong product.

Despite being technology enabled — the Internet, WhatsApp — obviously no remedy for fairly obvious goof-ups.

Sixteen years on, the technical knowledge required to make bombs, exotic poisons and WMDs outside of warzones and government labs remains quite low. In inverse proportion to using a rented truck or a guns as murder weapons, so to speak.


Fighting to maintain biodefense labs

Posted in Bioterrorism, War On Terror at 1:59 pm by George Smith

Bioterror defense is out of fashion. Once untouchable, it’s budgeting is now open to cost-cutting so that security agencies and work responsible for building alls — immigtration — can be boosted.

From this week’s New York Times, a short piece:

The Department of Homeland Security plans to close a New York-based laboratory that has helped the city’s Police and Fire Departments develop systems to detect nuclear and biological threats, a move that some local officials fear could hamper efforts to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks.

The radiological program that the laboratory, the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory, developed with the New York Fire Department is widely considered the national standard, and technologies it has tested are in widespread use across the country. It has also worked on systems to combat drug trafficking and money laundering: Portable card readers it tested have helped officials recover millions of dollars in drug proceeds smuggled across borders using gift and other prepaid cards.

“The lab has provided an invaluable amount of information to us over the years, including helping us understand biological and nuclear threats when nobody understood that stuff,??? said Gerard McCarty, the director of emergency management at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “And they continue to provide critical support to us in researching and testing technologies.???

Curiously, the article never precisely specifies what the laboratory does. It’s web presence at the Dept. of Homeland Security is here.

A brief fact sheet indicates it is in involved in first-responder training and monitoring radiological threats through a “radiation network for cities” called REMS. It seems to be a training service for response to the “dirty bomb” threat, too, although the WMD is never mentioned by name. And here is where the New York Times erred big time: The lab isn’t about germs. It’s involved in the network to combat radiological threats and a big partner of the New York Fire Department.

A far more detailed news story shows it’s a primary defense in Manhattan, as far as training and testing goes, against the dirty bomb threat.

Its history reads: “The lab at 201 Varick St. in lower Manhattan was established in 1947 as part of the Manhattan Project and has been a global leader in studying background atmospheric radiation. It provided critical scientific research that helped make the case for the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. which banned testing on atomic bombs in the atmosphere, underwater or in outer space.”

That’s quite a provenance, an important bit of information quite overlooked by the New York Times.

“The Trump administration has proposed closing the lab as part of larger cuts it envisions for the Department of Homeland Security’s scientific research and development programs,” reads the NYT. “The administration’s budget would cut funding for these programs by more than 18 percent, to $627 million this year from $771 million…”

For the Times, a local politician that lab’s cost, $3.4 million, was “a pittance” in the federal budget, equivalent toa rounding error. The lab employs thirty in Manhattan. It seems an accurate representation.

The cut allows “focus on the administration’s top priorities, including border security, counterterrorism, explosives and cybersecurity,” reports the NYT.

Of course, countering dirty bombs involves border security, counterorrism and explosives all rolled into one. But it’s robably safe to say the fact that terrorists have neither developed nor used a dirty bomb in the last 16 years, never in US territory, also a big factor.

What was in the news almost daily over a decade ago, often even in common hit television scripts, has faded.


Tom Friedman’s Cream Pie Moments

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 2:37 pm by George Smith

Last week Tom Friedman was bowled over by American servicemen and their multi-billion dollar war network infrastructure at Al Udeid airbase in Qatar. It’s in service to what Friedman loves, traveling the world to bring back what he thinks are teachable examples of how things are done with excellence for the rest of us.

First up was national unity And Charlottesville. In this the US military was held up, as it has been by by many, as the shining example of integration, unity and how to treat others with respect.


Just one glance at our traveling party and the crews at this base and you realize immediately why we are the most powerful country in the world … In the control center I’m introduced to the two Russian-speaking U.S. servicemen who 10 to 12 times a day get on the local “hotline??? with the Russian command post in Syria to make sure Russian planes don’t collide with ours. One of the servicemen was born in Russia and the other left Kiev, Ukraine, just five years ago, in part, he told me, because he dreamed of joining the U.S. Air Force: “This is the country of opportunity.??? [Keep in mind how the -opportunity- arose, pip squeak. The US military destabilized Iraq and, subsequently, Syria.]

Then we get a briefing from the combat innovation team, which is designing a new algorithm for dynamic targeting with colleagues in Silicon Valley.I ask their commander about his last name — Ito — and he explains, “My dad is from Cuba and my mother is from Mexico.??? The intelligence briefing was delivered by “Captain Yang.???

The very reason America is the supreme power in this region is that the U.S. military can take all of those different people and make them into a fist.

“Pluralism is our true source of strength at home and abroad,” Friedman concludes. You knew this was coming.

You also know he could have just gone to the supermarket in Pasadena and interviewed the day staff to find the same thing. The US military is not magical or special. Neither is its military. You find the same things in it, much of the time, as you do anywhere else.

Coincidentally, a colleague reprinted an article on the nature of domestic terrorism, taken from the archives of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in 2014:

The military and the far right. Throughout the history of US far-right extremism, many of its most influential and infamous members have had ties to the military. A small sampling includes the former Confederate soldiers who founded the Ku Klux Klan in 1866; its first leader was a former Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forest. The highly influential Willis Carto served in World War II before a 50 year career with far-right extremism that encompassed, according to the Anti-Defamation League, “nearly every significant far-right movement in the country, from neo-Nazism to militias, segregationism to Holocaust denial.??? An aide to General McArthur, William Potter Gale, oversaw guerilla resistance in the Philippines during World War II before helping establish the racist, anti-Semitic, and apocalyptic Christian Identity movement and the virulently anti-federal government umbrella organization Posse Comitatus. The North Dakota Posse leader Gordon Kahl, who died in a 1983 shootout with federal agents, and whom many far-right extremists consider to be the Posse’s greatest martyr, earned two purple hearts as an aircraft gunner in World War II. Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler served in World War II.

The trend has continued in more recent years: Neo-Nazi Louis Beam was a Vietnam veteran. The founder of one of the leading racist groups of its time, White Aryan Resistance, Tom Metzger, spent the early 1960s in the US Army. Metzger is often credited with being the “godfather??? of the racist skinhead scene. Timothy McVeigh, whose actions during Operation Desert Storm merited him the Bronze Star, later killed 168 people, including 19 children in the 1995 Oklahoma City truck bombing; his accomplice, Terry Nichols, was also a veteran. Army of God adherent and Centennial Olympic Park and abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolf was an Army veteran. In August 2012, Army veteran Wade Michael Page killed six people in a racially motived shooting rampage at a Wisconsin Sikh temple. Radicalized during his time at Ft. Bragg, Page told an interviewer, “If you don’t go in the military a racist, you’re sure to leave as one.???

To be clear, the homeland security department’s 2009 report on far-right extremism did not denigrate US military personnel or exaggerate their past or potential for terrorism. Many studies and reports demonstrate that veteran and active-duty US military personnel account for only a miniscule part of far-right extremist plots and attacks. But the percentage of individuals and members in far-right groups with military experience is larger than the corresponding percentage of those with military experience in the population at large. And in a 2008 study, the FBI reported that veteran and active duty military personnel “frequently occupy leadership roles within extremist groups …

However, Friedman can’t get over the alleged perfectly synchronized pluralism of the US command at Al Udied. (Or maybe it’s just its mind-numbing infrastructure of war.)

We toured the command center here with its wall-size screens that take the data from satellites, drones, manned aircraft, cyber, sensors, human intelligence and aerial refueling tankers and meld them into a series of strategic targeting decisions. Watching the choreography of all this is both chilling and mesmerizing.

We are moving “from wars of attrition to wars of cognition,??? explained General Goldfein. These new integrated systems are simultaneously “state of the art, unparalleled — and too slow for the future.???

What if all of this talent and energy and idealism and pluralism were applied not to propping up a decrepit Arab state system against Iran, but instead fixing the worst neighborhoods of Baltimore, Chicago and Detroit?

And this is where it’s at its most intelligence-insulting. The idea, that we get again and again in the culture of lickspittle, that if the magnificent US military were just repositioned to point our way, if they came home, they could work magic.

Reality makes a hash of it. What is the accomplishment from Al Udeid?

The Middle East’s versions of Stalingrad in Mosul and Raqqa. And today, a Times front page story on a plague caused by cholera in Yemen where we’ve assisted Saudi Arabia in bombing the country’s water sanitation facilities into rubble.

“The world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” reads part of the headline. It’a quite a notch on the belt. What doesn’t follow is how people who bring about humanitarian crises, who break things globally, could fix things domestically.

“We need to have a national discussion about this,” writes Friedman. No we don’t. Surely not with him as impresario. Get the cream pies.

Tom Friedman, hit by pie.


Otto Skorzeny would have frowned on SEAL Team 6

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 12:38 pm by George Smith

After World War II, Hitler’s top commando, Otto Skorzeny — the man who rescued Il Duce, became a globe-trotting businessman and general purpose p.r. man and re-entry resource for old Nazi soldiers. He even promoted movie-making on them to slight success. While a biographical war movie about himself was deep-sixed, Skorzeny was successful in helping gather interest for making a Hollywood blockbuster, The Battle of the Bulge, a partial character study of a leading German panzerman, and getting a retired Wermacht officer a job as a consultant to it.

Robert Shaw, years later better known as “Quint” in Jaws, was cast as ruthless German army tank commander “Martin Hassler.” But “Hassler” was a dodge. The part was originally to be Jochen Peiper, a Waffen SS tank commander whose unit was responsible for the Malmedy massacre of American prisoners of war. Realizing members of the VFW-American Legion wouldn’t think highly of such a movie, the Peiper part was replaced by a composite ringer, Hassler, who was portrayed in the regular Germany army. The Battle of the Bulge was an atrocious bomb redeemed by the odd twist that it can now be viewed as comedy, a monument to stumblebum movie-making employing Hollywood’s A-list.

Starring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson and Telly Savalas as American heroes, the battle starts in the winter. Or at least shows snow and pine trees. By the end though all historical pretense is abandoned. A climactic tank battle takes place on what looks like a dusty summer plain — in Franco’s Spain. Where there were plenty of American tanks to use as German panzers.

Today the Intercept reports on another messed up operation by SEAL Team 6 in Yemen, one that was aborted before action:

NAVY SEALS attempted to conduct another raid inside Yemen earlier this month but aborted the mission at the last minute, according to a senior U.S. military official.

Members of SEAL Team 6 deployed to Yemen in early March for a ground assault targeting suspected members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group U.S. officials view as the most dangerous branch of the terrorist organization. The aborted mission followed a botched January 29 raid in the village of al Ghayil, in al Bayda province. That raid left a Navy SEAL dead and two others seriously injured, and killed more than two dozen Yemeni civilians, including at least 16 women and children.

But why Otto Skorzeny, the reader may ask. Why not? If you need a reason: Because SEAL Team 6 has degenerated into nothing more than a deadly and never-ending shaggy dog story.

On Otto Skorzeny:

In a bunch Skorzeny’s men ran into the entrance of the hotel and collided with a stream of Italian soldiers, struggling with their weapons and helmets, trying frantically to get outside. The Germans cut right through them and booted the support from beneath a machine gun set up in the hall.

Skorzeny ignored the Italians. He butted his way through them: they were too close and too intermingled with his own men to allow him to use his machine pistol safely. He ran up the nearest flight of stairs, and at the first turn of the landing saw Mussolini, guarded by two young Italian officers.

Skorzeny hesitated. The two Italians were similarly hesitant. Lieutenant Schwerdt came through the door behind the CO. At the nearest window two faces appeared, surmounted by the brimless German paratroop helmets. His men had shinned up the lightning conductor. The Italian officers realized that they hadn’t a chance of fighting it out, and raised their hands in surrender.

The Italians were hustled out and Skorzeny posted Schwerdt as the Duce’s new bodyguard. Now dragging in the two men, Holzer and Benz, he stared out at the scene below. Radl, followed by his team, was running towards the hotel, and behind them crawled Obersturmführer Menzel, who had broken his ankle during the landing. Some way off the men from Glider No. 5 were also rushing towards the hotel …

There was some bewildered shouting, then a bareheaded, moustached colonel appeared.

‘I ask your immediate surrender,’ Skorzeny said in French. ‘Mussolini is already in our hands. We hold the building. If you want to avert senseless bloodshed you have sixty seconds to go and reflect.’ Skorzeny waited anxiously, watching the terrain for signs of further Italian resistance. But he need not have worried. Before the minute was up, the Italian colonel reappeared, and in both hands he carried a glass of red wine. With a slight bow he proffered the big German commando the token of surrender. ‘To the victor,’ he said simply.

Skorzeny thanked him and drank the wine; he was thirsty anyway. Outside there was the sound of cheers. Someone had flung a white bedsheet out of an upper window as a sign of capitulation, and the hotel was theirs.

Skorzeny thanked him and drank the wine; he was thirsty anyway. Outside there was the sound of cheers. Someone had flung a white bedsheet out of an upper window as a sign of capitulation, and the hotel was theirs.

At last Skorzeny had time for Mussolini. The Duce was unshaven and wearing a blue-grey suit that was too big for him, but there was no mistaking the joy in his broad face. Skorzeny clicked to attention. ‘Duce,’ he proclaimed formally, realizing that this was an historic moment, ‘I have been sent by the Leader to set you free.’

From Otto Skorzeny: The Most Dangerous Man in Europe by Charles Whiting.

According to The Intercept’s ongoing coverage of SEAL Team 6, the commandos had a favorite Nazi soldier, or group of them. But they weren’t real, rather being just characters in some paperbacks about ex-Waffen SS men performing atrocities in Viet Nam.


Otto Skorzeny didn’t fight a forever war

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 12:45 pm by George Smith

Otto Skorzeny, the Third Reich’s top commando, didn’t go on missions for fifteen years. After the war ended he became a globe-trotting businessman, consultant and something of an ombudsman and one man p.r. operation for old Nazi soldiers. But more on this a bit later.

From the New York Times a couple days ago when Andrew Bacevich, one of the few military men who writes honest pieces on the state of the greatest nation in world history, contributed:

What are we to make of the chasm between effort expended and results achieved [in Afghanistan]? Why on those increasingly infrequent occasions when Afghanistan attracts notice do half-truths and pettifoggery prevail, rather than hard-nosed assessments? Why has Washington ceased to care about the Afghan war?

The answer, it seems to me, is this: As with budget deficits or cost overruns on weapons purchases, members of the national security apparatus — elected and appointed officials, senior military officers and other policy insiders — accept war as a normal condition.

That our impulsive commander in chief may one day initiate some new war in a fit of pique is a worrisome prospect. That neither President Trump nor anyone else in Washington seems troubled that wars once begun drag on in perpetuity is beyond worrisome.

Andrew Bacevich is just about the best writer we have on the modern US military and its never-ending employment in decade-and-a-half-long campaigns.

When “worrisome” is the best word NYT editors will let him employ in describing the state of everlasting war that runs itself, everything can be said to be broken. Language fails. There really is no way out and no end in sight.

From Hitler’s Warrior, on Otto Skorzeny (he’s not the book’s primary subject):

Thw SS colonel was still in touch with Otto Skorzeny, who was wheeling and dealing in the scrap metal business from Spain when not jet-setting with his wife, Ilse, to South America, Paris or the Alps. Even if unspoken, Skorzeny always made it known to Jochen Peiper that should things get too bad in Germany, there was always a haven for him under Franco’s protection in Madrid. For his part, Skorzeny was living completely open, unafraid, and a publicity hound. Amazingly Skorzeny was working with a literary agent in Los Angeles, attempting to bring his life story to the big screen in Hollywood: Commando Extraordinary! Warner Brothers and United Artists nearly bit on the script. But such cinematic planning halted suddenly when focus groups revealed a shortcoming in brilliant contrast to the box office smash of George C. Scott as Patton; the new story would glorify a Nazi hero! In the end Skorzeny’s efforts to portray himself as an apolitical commando hero disintegrated…

Times have changed.


Otto Skorzeny didn’t pilot a drone

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 11:15 am by George Smith

Headline at The Guardian: US retires Predator drones after 15 years that changed the ‘war on terror’.

Superseded by more capable “Reaper” drone.

Fifteen years with no end in sight. Empirically determined, not a war winning weapon.



Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, The Corporate Bund, War On Terror at 4:12 pm by George Smith

From the archives, “That’s Logistics,” satire using a ubiquitous v commercial ditty and one of the deadening news stories from America’s war on terror.

If you’been here all along it now seems like ancient history.

What should be obvious by now is that it’s inspired by a longstanding admiration for Tom Lehrer.

From his Wiki bio:

In 1953, inspired by the success of his performances, Lehrer paid $15 for some studio time to record Songs by Tom Lehrer. The initial pressing was 400 copies. At the time, radio stations would not give Lehrer air time because of his controversial subjects. He sold his album on campus at Harvard for $3 (equivalent to $27.00 today), while “several stores near the Harvard campus sold it for $3.50, taking only a minimal markup as a kind of community service. Newsstands on campus sold it for the same price.”[20] After one summer, he started to receive mail orders from all parts of the country (as far away as San Francisco, after The Chronicle wrote an article on the record). Interest in his recordings was spread by word of mouth; friends and supporters brought their records home and played them for their friends, who then also wanted a copy. Lehrer later recalled, “Lacking exposure in the media, my songs spread slowly. Like herpes, rather than ebola.”

The album—which included the macabre “I Hold Your Hand in Mine”, the mildly risqué “Be Prepared”, and “Lobachevsky” (regarding plagiarizing mathematicians)—became a cult success via word of mouth, despite being self-published and without promotion. Lehrer embarked on a series of concert tours and in 1959 recorded a second album, which was released in two versions: the songs were the same, but More of Tom Lehrer was studio-recorded while An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer was recorded live in concert. In 2013, Lehrer recalled the studio sessions:

“The copyist arrived at the last minute with the parts and passed them out to the band… And there was no title on it, and there was no lyrics. And so they ran through it, ‘what a pleasant little waltz’… And the engineer said, ‘”Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,’ take one,” and the piano player said, ‘”What?”‘ and literally fell off the stool.”


America’s Wehrmacht launches missiles!

Posted in Bombing Paupers, War On Terror at 7:41 am by George Smith

The Tomahawks are back in use, those missiles Americans love to see, being shot off at night, almost always in bombardment of people or desperately poor and wrecked places which have no equivalent method of retaliation. This time, fired by the USS Nitze, at targets vaguely indentified as hostile radar sites in Yemen.

And it’s part of the war in Yemen, waged by American-proxy Saudi Arabia, whose military is adept at bombing civilians, carrying out various war crimes and atrocities in that country.

“The U.S. has been providing logistical support and refueling to the Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthis and other rebels,” reads an NBC News report. The Houthis are the ones being bombed by the Saudis — with the best US-made weapons and training their money can buy.

This most recent exhibition of American military might came about as a result of a missile attack that badly damaged a United Arab Emirate ship conducting operations off Yemen.

NBC news describes it this way:

An Emirati-leased Swift boat came under rocket fire from Houthis in the area last week, suffering serious damage. The United Arab Emirates described the vessel as carrying humanitarian aid and having a crew of civilians, but Houthis said it was being used as a warship.

And here we see the American news media being somewhat deceptive, as is its fallback position when something uncomfortable has been uncovered and judged necessary to finess.

Because the “leased Swift boat” doesn’t quite pass muster as a humanitarian ferry. In fact, any web survey of it (the ship is designated HSV-2, paradoxically, similar to the mouth/venereal virus) shows it has spent most of its years as a logistical support unit in the US Navy.

Indeed, for the USN, HSV-2 did not look like a “ferry” at all. It looked like a warship.

And even the densest among us will have to concede something that looks like a warship, even if only a logistical one, is fair game in a bitter civil war.

As a consequence of the attack on the HSV-2, we sent two warships into the area, probably knowing full well they’d draw some manner of attack. Which they did. This, in turn, can lead to what our Sec’y of Defense, Ashton Carter, weirdly might call a virtuous cycle, one in which the US military deliveries retaliations upon mostly defenseless targets all out-of-proportion to the nature of whatever insult to American power has previously occurred.

Virtuous cycles, a much better term than hit jobs, right?

Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East.


Designated Survivor: Awkward cognitive dissonance

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 11:54 am by George Smith

On the latest Designated Survivor, Kiefer Sutherland as President Tom Kirkman is confronted with a crisis: Michigan, Michigan (!) under the governor, cast to vaguely look like the guy who poisoned Flint, won’t recognize the federal government and its governor has ordered a pogrom against Muslims which results in the a young man being beaten to death by batons, captured on smartphone. Plus there’s a general roundup of Muslims, one vignette with a B-list character getting a stop-and-frisk.

Kirkman gets the governor to order his police force to stand down and release its prisoners by telling a lie, that undercover Feds have been jailed and must be set free to continue their investigations.

Remarkable that the President can make a video conference call and get this done. Too bad the country can’t jump into the Hollywood script and order a stop to street executions, eh?

The second installment of Designated Survivor continues down its awkward path of unintentional cognitive dissonance. I’m sure Sutherland and a few other cast members are acutely aware of it, too.


Both were Americans

Posted in Bioterrorism, Ricin Kooks, War On Terror at 3:48 pm by George Smith

From an Associated Press story on August 23rd, on exotic weapons and emerging technologies in the hands of terrorists:

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that technological advances have made it easier for terrorist and criminal groups to obtain materials needed to make weapons of mass destruction, and some are actively trying to obtain nuclear, biological and chemical weapons to target civilians …

Gregory Koblentz, director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University, said there are several emerging technologies that present challenges to international efforts to curb WMDs, including gene editing.

“Instead of gene drives being used to eliminate disease, they could be used to introduce new diseases into plant or animal populations,” he told the council.

Other potentially dangerous emerging technologies include the use of drones and the use of the Dark Web, which can only be accessed using special encryption software, guaranteeing anonymity to its users.

Koblentz said that in 2014 the U.S. arrested two people who had sold the toxins abrin and ricin — ricin is classified as a chemical weapon under the Chemical Weapons Convention — to customers in Austria, Canada, Denmark, England, India and the United States via a Dark Web marketplace called Black Market Reloaded.

“The global reach and anonymity of the Dark Web provides a new means for criminals and terrorists interested in dual-use equipment or materials to do business,” he said.

Black Market Reloaded was fairly quickly infiltrated by US law enforcement. Agents subsequently used identities on it to initiate sting operations involving the promised sale as well as the buying of poisons like ricin and abrin.

The two arrested on the Dark Web, specifically — users of Black Market Reloaded, were both Americans. Jesse Korff and James Christopher Malcolm.

Both accepted plea deals from the federal government with Malcolm sentenced to five years, Korff much longer.

Both were connected to the case of Ryan Chamberlain for which I served as a science consultant to the defense.

Considering the nature of the investigations and the results (there were about half a dozen arrests coming off BMR), the continued belief that the Dark Web provides anonymity in such instances is rather laughable.

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