Freedom … because Google’s toffs and geniuses said so:
“Given everything that’s happened, the security implications were very much at the front of our minds,” Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond wrote in a blog post. “But after discussing all the issues, Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be).”
For the last two decades more people in the national security state have been hoping for and predicting, first — “electronic Pearl Harbor,” then “digital Pearl Harbor,” and now “cyber-Pearl Harbor.”
Because they would all benefit from it. And even while it stubbornly refused to transpire, they made out on the subject very well, anyway.
Now that it’s here and gone, figuratively triggered by Seth Rogen, many are a little bit at a loss for words. Because you can’t go to war over a cyber-attack that stuffed Seth Rogen’s movie and Sony, if only briefly. Seriously.
It’s kind of a bummer.
From the New York Times:
When does a cyberattack against an American company, network or government agency warrant military involvement?
Ummm, not now, say all.
“But just because a victim state may be entitled to use its military to take countermeasures does not mean that it necessarily should,” writes Kristen E. Eichensehr, a visiting assistant professor of law at UCLA. “Other options, such as criminal prosecution, international sanctions and old-fashioned naming and shaming, may be legal, available and more effective responses.”
“We will not go to war over Sony, nor should we,” adds James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s frustrating …”
No war. But give more money to the private sector, writes Jason Healey: “[In] nearly every significant attack or conflict, the savior has been the private sector, companies like McAfee or Microsoft that have the agility … The answer to ever-worsening cyberattacks is an overriding priority on defense centered on our true cyber power, America’s private sector.”
Got it. Give more money to large security corporation so they can protect the stuff of the 1 percent, like The Interview.
“For years now, the Obama administration has warned of the risks of a cyber-Pearl Harbor, a nightmare attack that takes out America’s power grids and cellphone networks and looks like the opening battle in a full-scale digital war,” writes David Sanger, also at the Times.
“Such predictions go back at least 20 years…” he continues. You bet.
There is, of course, an anonymous “senior defense official”:
“If you had told me that it would take a Seth Rogen movie to get our government to really confront these issues, I would have said you are crazy … But then again, this whole thing has been crazy.”
Seth Rogen is now a kind of universal IQ test. If you want to see him or his movie because it says important stuff about computer security and freedom, you flunk.
Computer Security for the 1 Percent — from the archives.
Catching up with the Voice of America, which broadcast this hours before Sony withdrew The Interview from wide release on Xmas day. (Today, it reversed itself and is trying to coax it into a 200-300 theater special showing on the 25th, about ten percent of what was originally slated.)
From the Voice of America:
Cyber attacks similar to the recent major breach of Sony Pictures’ computer networks, with which North Korea was allegedly involved, may be expected in future, computer security experts say.
Sony’s comedy “The Interview” makes fun of a fictional CIA plot to assassinate North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, using two bumbling American reporters who were granted a rare interview with the reclusive dictator.
North Korean officials complained about the film to the United Nations in July, but the hacking didn’t start until late November. Films were stolen and released, and private company emails were made public. The hack has cost Sony millions and forced the entertainment giant to cancel release of the film.
But what could be more damaging, said George Smith, senior fellow for Globalsecurity.org, are the vulnerabilities in the Internet itself.
“How many stories have we had in the last couple of weeks on things of this nature? The Sony one has dominated the news, but a month prior to that there was the news of the banks [JPMorgan Chase and other institutions], and earlier in the week there was a story how the Sands Casino network … was heavily compromised, allegedly by hackers sympathetic to Iran,” he said.
Smith said it is very difficult to secure a global business like Sony. He said networks are now so complex, even the people responsible for their security aren’t quite sure how to move forward.
“It’s going to continue the way it has,” he said. “There’s no visible trend on the horizon that sees this improving, OK? But people become used to it.” Also, the original, at VoA.
Me, I’m waiting to see how thrilled the Chinese are over Universal’s American hacker movie that has one of its nuclear reactors blown up by remote control.
Hilarious. Another obvious winner.
Film critic Peter Rainer’s take on The Interview:
What was Sony thinking? In the history of corporate bonehead decisions, the financing and distributing of a slobbola comedy about the assassination of a sitting world leader has to rank right up there with the New Coke …
I remember seeing a movie at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival called “The Death of a President,” a British faux documentary about the assassination of then-President George W. Bush and the ascension of Dick Cheney, whose rise was viewed almost as alarmingly as the assassination. As with “The Interview,” many of the major US theater chains refused to show the film, and it rapidly vanished.
The opposite is true for “The Interview,” which has moved to the nation’s front pages without ever having been released at all. My guess is that Sony greenlighted this movie simply because they thought it would clean up with the gross-out crowd and, besides, Kim Jong-un, with his funny haircut, was a safe target.
Whether it’s hacktivism or our mighty cyberwar machine, knocking North Korea off the net follows the standard American strategy of beating up on the weak or places where the vast majority are dirt poor and have it very bad. Because we can.
I’ve called it Bombing Paupers in the past.
What might further steps look like?
Theoretically, we might make North Korean bank machines (if they even have them) not work for a populace that has no money. Or, my favorite: Turning off the lights in a country that can’t keep the lights on at night.
And if we really wanted to get tough we could mess up the computers at the cabbage and maize processing factories so people have less soup and porridge and are more malnourished over the holidays.
Yep, having a fit over North Korea is a defining demonstration the Culture of Lickspittle reigns supreme in America.
From the New York Times, no link:
The loss of service is not likely to affect the vast majority of North Koreans, who have no access to the Internet. The biggest impact would be felt by the country’s elite, state-run media channels and its propagandists, as well as its cadre of cyberwarriors.
Unless, of course, they’re vacationing over the border in China or in Macau.
A Senate report on torture is issued and nothing is done, or will be done. The Sony hack blows it off the front page.
The New York Times editorial board comes out in favor of investigating and putting on trial Bush administration officials and intelligence ageny helpers instrumental in torture. But knocking North Korea off line, a country run by insane people where the average citizen earns one or two dollars a month, is bigger.
The President attempts to begin normalization of relations with Cuba and finds it eclipsed by the consequences of Seth Rogen’s lousy movie.
I feel sorry for the man. Being circumspect or rational never gets you very far here.
For example, from the New York Times, seriously:
Why doesn’t he ask Sony for a copy of “The Interview,” screen it at the White House and invite the nation’s political and cultural elite to the event? That would send a powerful message to the world that Pennsylvania Avenue respects freedom of thought and speech.
If I were the President I’d make a counter-proposal:
I’d watch The Interview at the White House if Hollywood promises not to employ Seth Rogen, co-director Evan Goldberg and James Franco for the next two years.
Seth Rogen is a new IQ test. If you refer to him with anything but contempt, you flunk.
If you think this is a little unfair consider for a moment how much money Seth Rogen took home for this and how poor, by comparison, the general state of North Korea. Making a movie that relied on making fun of a place so wretched was easy and more than a little bit odious.
“Though most of my students were computer majors [at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology], they did not know the Internet existed, and I wasn’t allowed to tell them,” writes someone at Slate.
“Three comics who acquired a draft of the script of the now-scrubbed Seth Rogen-James Franco flick will produce a reading of the taboo Kim Jong Un satire at the Manhattan’s Treehouse Theater on Dec. 27,” reports the New York Daily News.
“The goal is to strike a blow for creative freedom …” it continues.
“I was completely horrified by the precedent that’s been set,” one of the comedians, Benny Sheckner, told the newspaper.
In another piece, the Daily News informs both Rogen and Franco have hired new “giant bodyguards.”
And from the New York Times, notification of a new movie on “hackers,” called “Blackhat,” from Michael Mann, coming to theaters soon:
Hollywood has always had a hard time turning computer code and venomous software into captivating cinema. But Mr. Mann, who wrung three Oscar nominations from “The Insider,” his 1999 story of a tobacco company whistle-blower, has spent years on “Blackhat,” partly in an effort to bridge the gap between film and what he saw as an underappreciated mass threat posed by hackers.
The stakes are even higher than those in the Sony attack. “Blackhat” begins with a hack-induced explosion at a Chinese nuclear plant …
Mr. Mann, whose films include “Ali,” “Heat” and “Public Enemies,” said he became interested in a hacker-centered story after spending time in Washington with government cyberdefense officials.
Universal [the company making the movie] is slightly concerned that the Sony attack might actually hurt “Blackhat” — ticket buyers could be tired of hacking stories after weeks of media attention on Sony, and a film that is too topical might strike potential viewers as less entertaining.
Imagine, if you will, the actor who plays Thor in the Marvel comic book movies as a hacker in “Blackhat.” It appears to go downhill from there.
Blow up a Chinese nuclear reactor, research advisors courtesy of US cyberdefense officials! Just brilliant.
Again, please feel free to throw something in the Xmas pot. It’s been another hard year and I would like to get something inexpensively made in China for guitar-playing.
And if you’d like a digital copy of Loud Folk Live, say so.
Sony has its morons
Seth Rogen is just one
38th parallel got Kim Jong Un
He’s a cyberwar son of a gun
Yeah, he’s weird and screwy as a man can come
But he’ll throw you for a real big loss
And when the bad guys come on the net at night
You know they all call Kim “Boss”
You don’t put ricin on some tape
You don’t spit into the wind
You shouldn’ta said “Yes!” to Seth’s shitty movie
And you don’t mess around with Kim
To Jim Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.” Fill in the rest of the lyrics.
The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern reviewed “The Interview” and it’s another perfect first graf:
Never has less of a film had more of an impact on the studio—and the nation—that produced it. (And never until now have I discussed a film that, as the situation currently stands, most people will never get to see.) “The Interview” isn’t just a film, of course. It’s a buddy comedy, with a slob aesthetic, that became the provocation for real-world events of shocking import; the quality of the thing wouldn’t seem to matter at this point. Yet the remarkably dismal quality is emblematic of the mind-set that brought the movie, and its attendant crises, into being.
Reactions, the sky-is-falling predictable:
Ex-NSA lawyer Joel Brenner, author of America the Vulnerable: “We can’t ignore this … We can’t let this go without some retaliation.”
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, R. Michael McCaul of Texas: “I would argue that we should be able to respond in kind to hit them.”
North Korea doesn’t have a global movie industry. (Encroaching characteristic in Computer Security for the 1 Percent: Attacking an American company is an act of war rather than a criminal matter.)
Bloomberg News (no link): “The North Korean success likely will spawn additional attacks, either repeat episodes involving the Kim government or others. Next time, the target may not be a Hollywood comedy, but an essential part of the U.S. economy.”
Tacit admission Seth Rogen’s “The Interview” isn’t worth very much.
Secondary admission that using cyberwar to turn out the lights in North Korea might not mean much. Since the lights there are out a lot already.
We could hurt their finances: “[Sanctions] froze about $25 million in North Korean deposits.”
“The Interview” cost $42 million. North Korea doesn’t have much in the way of “finances.”
Bloomberg: “The U.S. electric grid and critical infrastructure, such as water plants, are vulnerable to attack.”
Yes, see here. I did mention that if Sony leaks “The Interview” to the net the next option would be for North Korea to turn off the lights in the United States.
Alternatively, Sony could ask the NSA to host and protect “The Interview” on its servers.
Please feel free to throw something in the Xmas pot. It’s been another hard year and I would like to get something inexpensively made in China for guitar-playing.
And if you’d like a digital copy of Loud Folk Live, say so.
What happens when hackers from North Korea, according to the US government, threaten the American arm of an entertainment giant, Sony, over a mediocre-to-crappy movie, Seth Rogen’s The Interview, set to open Xmas Day?
Americans fold. Despite the lack of any actual credible threat of violence, three big theater chains backed out of showing it and Sony pulled the plug at the same time the US government was attempting to finger North Korea. (Here’s the NY Times piece with the usual array of unattributed sources.)
For the sake of amusement, let’s take a look at Variety’s review of the movie:
North Korea can rest easy: America comes off looking at least as bad as the DPRK in “The Interview,” an alleged satire that’s about as funny as a communist food shortage, and just as protracted. For all its pre-release hullabaloo — including two big thumbs down from Sony hackers the Guardians of Peace — this half-baked burlesque about a couple of cable-news bottom-feeders tasked with assassinating Korean dictator Kim Jong-un won’t bring global diplomacy to its knees, but should feel like a kind of terror attack to any audience with a limited tolerance for anal penetration jokes. Extreme devotees of stars James Franco and Seth Rogen (who also co-directed with Evan Goldberg) may give this Christmas offering a pass, but all others be advised: An evening of cinematic waterboarding awaits.
Variety’s Scott Foundas wrote the review on the 12th, a day after a showing in Hollywood. And the only thing wrong with its lede graph is that, yes, someone was brought to their knees. Sony and Rogen.
This morning, as Senior Fellow for GlobalSecurity.Org, I was interviewed by the Voice of America on the matter. And the best I could say was that Sony had handled everything very badly.
It stumbled into being a shit magnet. Publicity stemming from the culture of lickspittle’s love of celebrity voyeurism served hackers beyond what anyone might have imagined.
Sony is a corporation that is probably too big and sprawling to ever secure on today’s Internet. The nature of its employees, its business and they way everything is now exposed on the global network make it impossible. Just as they do with lots of other big American corporations recently victimized by hackers in massive break-ins. (Part of the occasional Computer Security for the 1 Percent series.)
Once again, the amount of data lost to the net was stupefying. Said to be the equivalent of ten Libraries of Congress, everybody’s e-mail, their credentials, plans, billions of files.
Ten terabytes. How do you analyze, even look, at all of it? No one can.
Computer security experts may lie and say it’s doable but that’s all rubbish, the only thing noticeable being the scandalous, impolitic and rude bits, ephemera, of great interest to the media for all the numbingly predictable reasons.
Sony’s problem is that by canceling the movie it will take at least a 30-40 million dollar loss. Catalyzing it was the laughably poor behavior of the theater chains that pulled the movie from their thousands of screens for Xmas day.
Another problem with long range ramifications is that the corporate response has very obviously crashed morale company-wide. Bring on the fear and loathing and embedded institutional paranoia! It’s a great environment for an entertainment giant reliant on the labor of creative people.
I’ve come to expect absurd, timorous and counter-productive behavior from Americans, particularly the very important people who are in charge of things. I suspect many others have the same impression.
Today the bleak humor of US reality is better than anything Hollywood could have put on the screen. God knows, it has certainly given Seth Rogen enough material for the next couple years.
For example, over the holidays Rogen can contemplate how he, his jokes about stuff being stuffed up the butt written while baked, Sony, a hack of an entertainment company (for cryin’ out loud), and silly threats about nationwide attacks on theaters, have given the President yet another headache.  One that will force him into eventually making a meaningless statement coupled with the appearance of doing something.
When there’s nothing to do. Sony isn’t going to fail.
Retaliate? Against North Korea for allegedly sending hackers to derail a movie that includes:
The slow-acting poison [ricin] with which the characters are meant to contaminate Kim, concealed on a small adhesive strip, practically begs to be passed around like a hot potato, or perhaps lost in a Band-Aid factory, but all we get is a rather lame bit about [Rogen] having to conceal the poison (and its large conical container) inside his rectum.
Seriously. Ricin, yet! Always ricin. Ricin up yer ass! Genius!
By now you should be howling with laughter. Not at the movie, of course, but with what’s happened due to it. It’s the only rational response.
Seth Rogen was paid $8.4 million for the thing. And that brings us back to one of the characteristics of computer security stories for the 1 percent. The people who are paid everything don’t lose anything, really. They’re too important.
A momentary embarrassment over the holidays, perhaps. Six months from now Seth Rogen will be doing something else for a few million more.
Maybe he’ll even get to write a book about it. Something about digital Pearl Harbor. How his battleship was scuttled.
Picked on a paranoid country with the biggest national inferiority complex on the planet, North Korea. Lost and was deserted by his sponsors.
1. Rolling Stones’ story on Rogen, today, lede graph:
It’s not every day you get to sit down with the guys who might be responsible for starting World War III. And it’s definitely not every day that they’re getting baked when you do.
“Hell-o!” booms Seth Rogen on a June afternoon as the door to his L.A. office swings open, revealing him and comedy partner/hetero lifemate Evan Goldberg preparing to take a mighty hit from a bong.
The technology aspect of the story is much less interesting than what is shown about the psychology of a big company. It’s a house of cards.
We know large corporations deal with threats by either ignoring them, dispatching an army of lawyers and fixers or government capture. In this case, Sony had nothing going for it. The lawyers had nobody to go after. The op-ed pieces didn’t work. The rather astonishing publicity did not make theater chains confident.
What did it do, though? Dispatched lawyers to threaten journalists.
Quote from Variety, emblematic of what’s wrong with Sony’s management: “We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public.”
The “American public” was not damaged. I wasn’t. Do you feel damaged?
With the movie canceled nationwide on Xmas day, there is one thing left that Sony, or some of its employees (and perhaps soon to be ex-employees) can do. Even Seth Rogen could do it.
Leak The Interview to the net. If it hasn’t already been done. 
There’s only one way to stop it then.
A real digital Pearl Harbor, one of the parts of it that all the national security experts like to talk about: Switching off the power in the US.
2. An idea, coincidentally, endorsed by Mitt Romney.
Mirrored, at GlobalSecurity. Share, share, share, share, share.
I wrote about something called the “sonic pain stick” in 2003 for the Village Voice as part of a column called “Weapon of the Week” in the run-up to the Iraq war. The mainstream media was publicizing alleged miracle weapons that would make the war antiseptic and the “sonic pain stick” by “American Technology Corporation” (could there be a better name!) was one of them. The “sonic pain stick” was never of use in Iraq or the Middle East because it has no application when people can shoot back with AKs and rifle-propelled grenades.
Today it has the more common name, LRAD, and “American Technology Corporation” is the LRAD Corporation. It’s now commonly used on protesters in NYC.
Excerpted from a write-up on a legal protest from the National Lawyers Guild on the cruel use of LRADs in CommonDreams:
Videos of officers using the LRADs surfaced on December 4 and 5 during marches that came after a grand jury’s failure to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Crowds can be seen dispersing quickly as loud, shrill, repetitive beeps ring out in short blasts over and over …
Initially developed as a sound weapon for the military, the LRAD’s so-called deterrent tone is meant to hit human hearing at its most sensitive levels. As Amnesty International explains, “LRADs can pose serious health risks which range from temporary pain, loss of balance and eardrum rupture, to permanent hearing damage” …One protester who attended the marches when the LRADs were used told Gothamist that he had residual pain from the sound cannon blast for the next six days …
Moreover, the sound cannons can hurt those not actively protesting. “The LRAD can cause hearing damage, and possible neurological damage, to anyone in its path.”
There’s also an armored LRAD truck that has been made available to city police forces.
In 2003 the LRAD was part of a boom in defense spending for non-lethal weapons to be used in the war on terror overseas. Most of the inventions were never used, one of the primary reasons being they’re easily viewed in public as elements of torture. This because they were and are solely designed to cause increasing levels of pain. (Note: Although this seems not to have mattered in the secret overseas sites where, by comparison, simpler, prolonged and far more obvious mechanisms of torturing and administrations of pain were the rules.)
In 2003, eleven years ago, I wrote this:
New methods of American technical torture continue to roll off private-sector assembly lines in the effort to aid the war on terror. One of the most aggressively pitched is a meter-long sonic pain stick marketed to the Department of Defense by the American Technology Corporation of San Diego.
In a recent full-court press to the media, the company gaily described the sonic baton’s potential to agonize terrorists on airplanes, where flying bullets wouldn’t do. Intended for use at short range, the weapon projects sound intense enough to cause temporary loss of hearing, perhaps nullifying its effect, or possibly shattering the hijacker’s eardrums. It would also probably agonize or rupture the hearing of everyone else in an enclosed cabin, blocking the communication of useful commands like “Get that terrorist bastard!”
The soldiers, weirdos, sadists, and tinkerers enthusiastic about acoustic technology envision strapping the sonic pain stick to an M-16. While it would be no good in situations where people can shoot back or even throw rocks, it certainly could have its uses in rousting frightened women and children from closets in an occupied Iraq.
America’s nonlethal-weapons scientists note that in our country, hearing aids and surgery can mitigate damage to the outer and middle ear caused by such a weapon. However, mangling of the inner ear is permanent. But in poor or just bombed-flat foreign lands, access to health insurance to pay for damage claims, hearing aids, and good surgeons may be hard to come by. Nonlethal weaponeers are also vexed by the fact that once one’s ears are ruined, the sonic weapon loses its bite.
Seriously, at the time, that was what was said to push the LRAD: It could be used on airplanes. And that once your ears are damaged by it, it loses effectiveness.
Needless to say, the LRAD is another weapon designed and manufactured thanks to the taxpayer. It is also fair to add that, technically, the American people ought to be owed a royalty on every one sold. But that’s not how things work. The taxpayer is on the hook twice. Once for funding the development of it. The second time, locally, for equipping police departments that purchase them.
So after being designed and built in different models with different looks and varying degrees of broadcast power, a decade later the LRAD has found its primary role in the hands of the state in suppression of free speech and the right to assemble. And the United States in 2014 is its best market because social unrest, predictably and for just cause, is increasing.
Remember the old bullshit everyone was told when we went off to blast the terrorists in Iraq and everywhere else, the thing you still occasionally hear today?
“They hate us for our freedoms.”
Please pardon the excruciating pain in your ear while you’re exercising your right to peacefully protest.
This collection of images shows the spread of LRAD purchases (as well as LRAD-equipped armored vehicles) throughout the country.
Another day, another milestone, in WhiteManistan:
A majority of Americans believe that the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were justified, even as about half the public says the treatment amounted to torture, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
By an almost 2-1 margin, or 59-to-31 percent, those interviewed support the CIA’s brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying they produced valuable intelligence.
In general, 58 percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified “often” or “sometimes.”
The only good news is the pool was restricted to a sample size of 1,000.
I have a hard time believing such a small sample provides much meaningful information in a country as segmented and economically riven as the United States.
Many people just can’t be reached on the telephone anymore, for a whole slew of good reasons.
[One man interviewed by the Post] said torturing people during war was appropriate if there was reasonable suspicion the individuals had important information that could aid the United States.
The person was thirteen when we started torturing people. Representative? I’m thinking maybe not so much.
How a New York Times Dealbook blog post might have read, but didn’t:
Speaking at the Dealbook conference in Manhattan, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein said Wall Street had come to occupy an unwelcome position in Washington similar to where the military was during the Vietnam War protests. “I certainly don’t think it’s a virtue to declare a big segment of the economy off limits,” Mr. Blankfein said.”
““You’ve seen a little bit of a tension between capital and labor,” he said. This response when asked about Uber and the billions being taken off workers by the Silicon Valley predatory system known as “the sharing economy.”
Mr. Blankfein also likes Hillary Clinton, just as she likes Wall Street and Goldman Sachs. He wouldn’t mind if she was
Queen the next President.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Hillary Clinton,” he said.
Mr. Blankfein also voiced dismay that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s vehement opposition to the nomination Wall Street plutocrat Antonio Weiss for Sec’y of Treasury was gumming up the works.
After all, what was wrong with Mr. Weiss getting a 20 million dollar pay-out for leaving the Street and joining government?
“Why does the country benefit from making something hard so much harder?” Mr. Blankfein said.
Times tells us that it stands still in the USA. So you will want to hear “Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein” from the album Loud Folk Live which you should also buy before Christmas because it’s cheap — 5 dollars (!) — and you can hear your host make jokes.
The picture of Mr. Blankfein is really boss, too, perfect for the song. So click that SoundCloud link!
In the last twenty years, nobody has ever been released on bail in a ricin case. That’s NOBODY.
Get arrested for making castor powder. Go to jail. Stay there. Eventually, prison. It’s what happens to everyone in this small uniquely American demographic.
All that changed this week when Preston Rhoads of Oklahoma City was bailed on $200,000 and left to house arrest in the home of parents:
OKLAHOMA CITY – A man who was accused of plotting to kill his pregnant girlfriend with ricin has been released from jail.
Preston Rhoads was granted a $200,000 bond on Friday.
He will now go home to his parents’ house in Ada, where he will remain under house arrest.
Rhoads was charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of solicitation to commit murder in April.
Police received a tip that he was looking to hire someone to slip his girlfriend ricin in order to kill his unborn child.
Earlier, on Preston Rhoads, from the archives:
Today, Preston Rhoads, 30 of Oklahoma City, makes the second young American in 60 days to have been tabbed as influenced by Walter White, Breaking Bad and its secondary plot of ricin poisoning. Rhoads is the fourth young man arrested this year in connection with ricin-kookism, already up one from three arrests in the 12 months of last year.
The first [this year] was young Danny Milzman, a student at Georgetown University, of whom much has already been written here …
Wire news reported: “Test results have confirmed ricin was a substance found in the home of murder-for-hire suspect Preston Rhoads.
“A law enforcement source confirmed with News 9 the substance tested 100% positive for the deadly toxin. However, the substance was only found inside the home and police officers were not exposed.
“Oklahoma City Police and FBI agents say Rhoads was planning a murder before they searched his home on Thursday. The FBI says it processed his place for hazardous materials after finding the unknown substance, now identified as ricin.”
As in the case of Georgetown student Danny Milzman, Rhoads — although much older — was described as a perfect son by distraught friends and family members.
And, indeed, what profiling material exists upon the net supports this view.
Smiling faces of many friends [adorned] his Facebook page. And a self-made video of Rhoads on Vimeo shows an affable young man describing his career and education as a creator of digital art.
This year there have been more ricin cases than ever, up from 2013, which was also a bumper year in this small but nationally famous trend.
In 2013, three people were arrested and two already convicted in ricin, cases, all three which involved mailing castor powder to the president.
This year there have been five young men arrested in ricin cases this year: Rhoads, Danny Milzman of Georgetown University, Nicholas Todd Helman of Hatboro, PA, for a contaminated scratch-and-sniff card sent to a rival, Jesse Korff of Labelle, Florida, for ricin production and sale of abrin, the latter on which he has pleaded guilty, and — most recently, University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh student Kyle Allen Smith.
Smith remains in jail as does Nicholas Helman whose case was complicated by alleged additional death threats made while jailed. Danny Milzman pleaded guilty to making ricin, received a sentence of one year and one day, and will probably be released in January.
Much more on these cases can be found in the Ricin Kooks tab.
The archive of ricin case lore produced by this blog is comprehensive. Nothing else exists, anywhere, like it.
It makes troubling, confounding, and strange reading since the phenomenon of ricin-makers, or castor powder tinkerers, is almost entirely American. No other culture, no other western civilization, has anything like it. It is American exceptionalism in pure form.
While the numbers of people involved in it are small they always make national news.
Why are certain people drawn to pounding castor seeds? It would take a book to explain it.
Initially it was born of the belief in the far right in this country, now virtually universal in many quarters, that one had to be armed to the teeth to fight off tyrannical government, the encroaching UN, or anyone who might be coming for your stuff if civilization collapsed.
That cultural DNA inspired, and still inspires, a voluminous production of samizdat literature on weapons and the making of them from whatever is at hand. Poisons, like ricin, were and are part of it.
But today, ricin-making, that is the alleged easy production of a weapon of mass production, is part of American culture as accepted wisdom and entertainment. Movies and dramatic television (party like Heisenberg/Walter White!), books — fiction and non-fiction, and many related things now regularly stew American audiences in the lore of ricin.
The result: A civilization that thinks it knows a lot about it, the a lot being all rubbish.
No fatalities have ever been attributed to ricin in the war on terror. Indeed, there have been no ricin murders during the same period. Occasionally, castor bean mash is used for suicide. From the information that can be found, most attempts are unsuccessful.
One made the news earlier this year.
This is how we spend our money: Video promotions of big laser guns that can destroy a couple flimsy toys, floating or flying. Mounted on a giant naval vessel in the Persian Gulf. Oh, and set to a synthetic rock soundtrack that wouldn’t have made it on MTV in the Eighties.
The empire’s idea of cool brainlessly set to old shooter video game rock: So bad, virtually beyond words.
From the publicity:
“Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations,” Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research, said in a statement Wednesday. “We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality.”
The laser performed flawlessly through a range of adverse weather conditions and took out moving targets both at sea and in the air, including small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Operated via a “video-game like controller,” the system is designed to go from non-lethal to lethal output to stun or destroy “asymmetrical threats” like small ships and UAVs.
Asymmetrical threats, of course, meaning skiffs and plastic boats with a machine gun or a rocket-propelled grenade launcher on them, manned by paupers, preferably smaller and almost always not-white.
With the largest military in world history the US isn’t capable of winning wars anymore. And that’s because its war-fighting strategies, for all the firepower, manpower and money spent, are appalling to the rest of the world.
Sure, it can wreck things and reduce cities and infrastructure to rubble globally.
But you can’t win when the disdain of the entire planet is on you. Fritzing poor people with billion dollar extravagances in misused technology is always going to be a very public disaster. Almost as brilliant as adopting torture.
Keywords: Ponce, laser, gun, LAWS
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