Tommy Thompson: Why don't terrorists poison us? It'd be so easy!

The t and the n, so different, and yet so similar to the lexically dyslexic.

Ding! Ding! We have a winner! Not the family farmers, of course, but the big corp farmers, who often run their farms with the same environmentally friendly mentality as a strip mine in the 1950s. It’ll allow us to throw up some weasel worded excuse to delay sanctions from the WTO and others while we throw up all kinds of tariffs and sanctions against imported foodstuffs.

I figure any decent terrorist worth his salt has already figured out dozens, if not hundreds, of ways to attack this country. And odds are that attacking the food supply has already been picked up among the so-called ‘chatter’ that intelligence agencies are supposedly listening to.

Of course. But having enough normal intellect and the ability to reason normally does not keep the gullible population’s focus on Red Middle Eastern Terrorist Alert, does it?
I can only agree with the comment that the US citizens of M-E descent and especially the shop- restaurant- whatever businesspeople among them will be very pleased by this new attack. Divide and rule, I say.

I would be surprized if there are more then a few people in the US “intelligence” who can even understand this so called “chatter”.
I remember to have heard that right after 9/11 the very few they had were suddenly “suspects” and hence were “sifted out”. And then we don’t even talk about all the other languages and all the Arabic dialects.

I would take that “chatter listening” with a few tons of salt, if I were you. “chatter” listening led the US missiles, bombs and other innocent war toys all too often to where no “target” was visible yet quite a few civilians peacefully doing their daily business.
It is for us also a continious cause of amazement that these Arabic and other language skilled people inside the US “intelligence” after all these years then still don’t manage to have gained one single shred of insight and knowledge about the functions of the societies and civilisation they so called listen to day and night.
Amazing. Really. (The same can count for far too much of the so called “M-E scholars” in the USA. Not surprizing to me however when looking at US university curriculums regarding that study.)
Like I always say in cases like this: If the US “intelligence” could get rid of its arrogance, it would immediately recognize the need to send their people to a few years training within the Mossad.

Salaam. A

The timing of Thompson’s speech was wrong for it to have been solely another example of the administration’s scaremongering. This was a prating shot, and likely reflected Thompson’s frustration with the slow pace of progress in securing our ports.

parting shot

Hm. Parting shot because he’s unhappy with the current administration’s action/lack of action in this area? Trying to goad them into action as he’s walking out the door? Establishing the possibility of being able to say a great big “I told you so!” at a future date?

I’m rethinking my position as to whether what Thompson did was stupid or not. I don’t think it was wise, but I’m no longer sure it was stupid.

Thanks, gang!

Then why doesn’t he just come out and say, “You know, I’ve been telling this Administration for years now that we’ve got to do a better job of securing our ports, or we’re boned. I’m tired of dealing with the morons, so I’m outta here.”? No ambiguitity, nothing that could be interpreted as scare mongering, just a big old bird flashed in their faces.

Because you can catch more flies with honey than shit. Thompson was pretty clear about the deficiencies without assigning blame.
Had this just been more officially sanctioned scaremongering, we wouldn’t be seeing Bush trying to recast Tommy’s remarks:

Bush Downplays Concern of Terror Attack on Food

I agree with your second statement here, Ludovic.

There is a big difference between the following two scenarios, though:

(1) The head of the CIA says, at a news conference, “We are concerned that terrorists might hijack a plane (or several), and crash them into skyscrapers.”

(2) The head of the CIA says, at a news conference, “I am so surprised that terrorists haven’t hijacked planes, and crashed them into skyscrapers! It’d be really easy.”

So, I’m glad that you recognize that what Thompson said was stupid, but I think it was a lot worse than the “run of the mill stupid” that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.

Heh. It was both not particularly stupid nor particularly wise. Pretty much everyone in Washington has a pet theory as to how the terrorists will strike next and many of them aren’t shy about vocalizing it. New York Senator Schumer, for example, has a theory about shipping containers which theory is shared by many. Is it “unwise” to voice that concern publicly? I don’t think so. He wouldn’t be responsible if he didn’t vocalize it, and he wouldn’t be a politician if he didn’t politicize it. Same with Secretary Thompson. He’s going to be running for office soon in a farm state. It only makes sense for him to say things which would call for more money to go into the agriculture industry and/or which would increase the cost of doing business for foreign competitors of American agriculture.

The reason I think it wasn’t particularly wise is that I believe that in fact, Thompson is probably pretty much off base – Schumer’s concern strikes me as more rational. Our food system is pretty highly decentralized. Imports from the Middle East are tiny as a part of our total food consumption. Those imports tend to be of things which are consumed over time (like grains and prepared foods) as opposed to quickly (like fresh fruits and vegetables), which means that only a few people would be affected by any poisoning attempt before the source could be traced and isolated. And in no small number of cases, the primary consumers of the food imported from the Middle East are immigrants from there – not terrorists’ natural targets.

No matter how Islamist terrorists strike us next, some one in Washington will be able to say “I told you so.” I don’t think that that guy will be Tommy Thompson.

I assume that you say this as a joke, but the simple fact is that spam is an excellent medium for sending go-codes to operatives – traffic analysis is defeated because there’s no way to tell which of several million targets is the one for whom the hidden message is intended.

Really, the Feds need to haul in every spammer they can find and anal-probe them for their customer lists. It wouldn’t even involve any civil liberties issues – just leverage their obvious guilt under various existing laws (fraud, trademark infringement, theft of services, etc) and get 'em to sing.

Heck, I say they need to do it on general prinicples.

You appear to have misinterpreted my statement, because I don’t trust much of anything the administration purportedly sources to ‘chatter’. I was trying to ease fears of people who think that anyone who announces a ‘novel’ way to attack the U.S. is actually giving ideas to terrorists.

That, my friend, is a damn good question.

No - it’s not stupid. Does anyone really believe potential terrorists and their organisations need the bleedin’ obvious pointing out to them?

Most truly effective toxins are highly reactive and degrade quickly. Those that don’t are VERY expensive, on the order of botox (>$1000.00 per gram). Shipping contaminated foodstuffs might sicken or even kill some people, but the victims would be so scattered in time and distance that that a terrorist attack might never be recognized as the cause. Its more practical to just shoot or bomb people.

Thompson must be possessed of a near invincible ignorance, not to have picked this up from the dozens of briefings he has had on security.