Terror Speculations

by Milo Clark

September 17, 2001


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Editor's note: the following was written by the author within one hour of learning about the tragic events on September 11, 2001. Three days later, on September 14, Milo Clark added a few comments. They are inserted between brackets and in a smaller size font.

To get a donkey's attention, hit him across the nose with a 12 x 12.

Whoever is directing this action is immensely talented, immensely talented. Certainly not fighting a last war, rather defining this one. Resources involved are either ultra-sophisticated and simple or simply beyond the capacities of most governments. No silly problem solving is seen. Excellent planning, brilliant execution. A dozen Ralph Peters combining into a masterpiece. Far beyond the capacities and capabilities of a Saudi moneyman hiding out in Afghanistan.

[I am subsequently intrigued at the naming of bin Laden as enemy first class in this case. As he is one of the creations of the American efforts in the Soviet years of Afghanistan, about which I have commented, as well as someone somehow very wealthy through being Saudi, there are far too many loose threads dangling. If a bemused American public can actually believe that this elaborate an operation, involving ever increasing numbers of people spread out around the planet can be master-minded and financed by a loner holed up in Afghanistan, then I will believe wholeheartedly that Bush was elected by a vast plurality nationwide.]

How will this one be tagged onto a lone gunman, acting without accomplices? [for this one, no lone gunman possible, in other words, a vast conspiracy undetected by the billions of dollars spent and millions of personnel devoted to 'intelligence'. c.f. Pearl Harbor awareness of impending Japanese attack. FDR and others knew that Americans needed a disaster to wake up -- no parallels, of course, just a possibility of miscalculation. As the Bushies have been working full bore, all out on enemy creation, luck of the draw?]

Let's try one scenario for openers. At least four sets of airport security were passed without raising a whimper. Even more impressive is that these airports are major eastern hubs with large international and domestic traffic. Purely domestic flights on largely domestic airlines, American and United, were chosen. Who would I use?

Women. Caucasian. Fairly light skinned. Mid 30s to mid 40s. Very ordinary appearing. Traveling with someone, not alone. Mixed couples looking like homebodies ring no bells, tip no profiles. Midwestern or southeastern destinations. Added possibility: flight crew deadheading. Easy to get by security and not necessarily alert flight crew.
[Actuality seems to suggest that high profile male middle easterners felt quite secure in appearing to be who they may be. Apparently, there was little attempt made to provide post-attack security on their part. Curious. Suggests to me that other processes are in the works which have no need to rely on the methods of this one.]

Intelligence capabilities: Wow! Could be the world's best hackers and data snoops. [Another probability is that they had little need for internet or web which, given the intensity of NSA and other scanners, matches the vast international traffic in currencies, et al, operating above and beyond scrutiny. Expect heavy attempts to police internet and web nevertheless.]

Weaponry. While various plastic, minimally-detectable pistols are available, the problem remains with ammunition. No gunpowder as yet is totally without traces. Easier to use would be darts of some type.

Getting through the door to the cockpit could be a problem. Relatively easy to solve except that most solutions would involve a knife or screwdriver type of tool. A small version of the nearly ubiquitous multi-tool gadgets would do.
[Got that one right.]

Familiarity with aircraft. I don't know if all four planes were the same model or not. Could be. It would not be exactly easy to get one to study extensively without causing some notice. [Apparently 757, 767 share cockpit characteristics. Simulator time for someone with multi-engine certification is said to be adequate.]

Flying the aircraft. Probably reasonable to assume that pilots would not fly directly into the targets even if severely threatened. Simple thing to do and which I believe most pilots would elect when it was clear that more than just a hijacking was in process would be to crank it over into a dive and crash. In both NY and Washington, proximity to ocean or large bodies of water would be reasonable spots to aim the plane. Leaves speculation that hijackers were capable of flying the aircraft and doing a good job of it. Solves familiarity problem above. [A pilot friend says you could dial in the GPS data and altitude and then sit back, relax and become a martyr.]

A loaded passenger aircraft with full or near full tanks is a very powerful bomb. No need to bring explosives onto the airplane. No missile defense system could stop this one. Nothing alerted the in-place air defense systems. Gotcha on sophisticated gadgets with that one. Another example of machetes making hash of stealth bombers. [This last sentence is the key observation. There is speculation, as yet unconfirmed as far as I know, that the one which went down in PA may have been shot down. Pilot friend says that air traffic controllers have no easy means of doing anything other than going hysterical or to call on the military -- which, until now, has been frowned upon.]

A couple of novels in recent years have used somewhat similar plots. One put Clancy's hero, Jack Ryan, in the White House. [Is truth stranger than fiction? How many 'knowledgeable' authors have been trying to get official attention?]

Intelligence failure? Not likely. There are too many agencies, above and below sight, no matter how badly run or how much squabbling and interagency bickering goes on, to let this one get by. The talking heads are mentioning Pearl Harbor a lot. I wonder how many are aware that there was excellent intelligence available regarding the Japanese plans. The key codes had been broken for many months. FDR and others clearly felt the loss was worth the effort to get US involved. [This observation manages to piss off a fair number of correspondents who, being good Americans in spite of occasional errant thoughts, steadfastly maintain their patriotic duty to avoid history.]

Who benefits? Lots of possibilities there. I won't bother the obvious, though. Could end up as the supreme enemy creation scheme of all time. Very astute. [Very, very astute. Events are already proving the time-honored efficacy of creating enemies and turning attention outside. Whether Tonkin Gulf redux or what, Congress immediately finds funds and White House finds uses of absolutely no domestic consequence. 50,000 reservists to take on one slightly demented Islamic fanatic holed up in Afghanistan? Come now! My credulity is already strained beyond belief. This whole thing is akin to having a firecracker explode in hand. Our creations are providing unintended consequences and we are standing slack jawed in awe at their nerve.]

[My summary statement: To bomb is ok, to be bombed is not!

Anybody got any spare yellow ribbons left over from Desert Storm? Powell is quoted as saying, "We do deserts, not mountains." Hmmmm! What about mountainous deserts?]



       Milo Clark, a founding member of Swans, had it all: Harvard MBA, big house, three-car garage, top management... Yet, once he had seemingly achieved the famed American dream he felt something was missing somewhere. As any good executive he decided to investigate. Since then, he has become a curmudgeon and, after living in Berkeley, California, where he was growing bamboos, making water gardens, listening to muses, writing, cogitating and pondering, he has moved on to the Big Island in Hawaii where he creates thought forms about sunshine. Milo can be reached at Swans.

       Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Milo G. Clark 2001. All rights reserved.

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Some of Milo Clark's Commentaries on Swans

Two Epiphanies - 08/20/01

Please Be Patient (a five-part series) - 06/25/01

Events - 05/28/01

Perspective and Perspectives - 05/14/01

Project Re-Think Thinking: Serendipity and Sparks of Genius - 04/30/01

Croatan - 04/2/01

Barbaric Silence - 03/5/01

The Resource Base - 02/5/01

Addendum to ...Dream - 01/8/01

...Dream - 01/8/01


Published September 17, 2001
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