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Olympics 2012: A Bruce Schneier Moment

The security theatre is getting surreal:

The Ministry of Defence is considering placing surface-to-air missiles on residential flats during the Olympics.

An east London estate, where 700 people live, has received leaflets saying a "Higher Velocity Missile system" could be placed on a water tower.
...

But estate resident Brian Whelan said firing the missiles "would shower debris across the east end of London".
...

"It [the leaflet] says there will be 10 officers plus police present 24/7."

Lunacy on stilts. (Oh, and let me add, the residents don't get any choice over having missiles billeted on top of their homes.)

If one of those things is ever fired, either in anger or by accident, it'll shower white-hot supersonic shrapnel across the extremely crowded residential heart of a city.

Hmm. It's a good thing I'm a novelist who dabbles in technothrillers, not a terrorist. If I was a terrorist I'd be licking my lips, trying to work out how to trigger a missile launch. Using a motor-powered model aircraft, free flight design (no radio controls to jam) aimed vaguely towards the Olympic stadium, with a nice radio beacon or some sort of infra-red source (a flare, perhaps) on its tail to make it easy to track? These missiles will be the close-in option, because we know the RAF will already be flying combat air patrols over London; they won't have much time to evaluate threats or respond intelligently. So launch from the back of a panel van, like the IRA mortar attacks on places like Heathrow or 10 Downing Street. The twist in the scheme would be to aim past the missile launchers along a vector that would attract a hail of hypervelocity missile launches in the direction of, say, a DLR station at rush hour.

Olympic security is out of control and irrational; the best solution would be to designate a permanent Olympic venue somewhere isolated — Diego Garcia would be a prime candidate — and hold the games there permanently so that they don't endanger life, limb and civil liberties. Alas, that would reduce the corruption corporate sponsorship opportunities, and the games are entirely about milking the host nation for money these days.

Fuck the Olympics in 2012.

(Oh, and incidentally it would be illegal for me to say this if I happened to live in London or my blog was hosted in England—the enabling laws for the Olympics override our basic civil rights, including free speech. Luckily I'm north of the border in a country that remains semi-free. But if a future independent Scotland even thinks about bidding to host the Olympics, you bet I'll be organizing street marches in opposition ...)

304 Comments

1:

As an East London resident, though not one who's received the (in)famous leaflet as of yet, I agree that things are getting crazy in the run up to the Games. Several of my neighbours have organised house swaps for the entire duration, which would have been my preference had work permitted. The other depressingly unsurprising local issue at present is eviction of sitting tenants in order to be able to offer short-term rentals for ludicrous prices.

2:

Readers may be more familiar with the name 'Starstreak' for the missile system.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starstreak

3:

Glasgow is hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Edinburgh will be the site for some of the events such as diving -- the Commonwealth pool on London Road was recently refurbished with those events in mind.

If something crazy does happen at the Olympics this year then you can confidently expect the St. Andrews Square Squad to double down on the level of security.

Politicians can NOT be seen to be playing fast and loose with people's safety. Folks may gripe about the CCTV cameras, the baby-fondling at airports etc. but that will all go out the window if something bad happens at which point they will blame the pols for not protecting them.

4:

So there's going to be two months of missile defences and fighter aircraft patrolling the city in case someone hijacks an aircraft and tries to fly it into the Olympic stadium? This isn't security theatre, it's the result of reading too many self published 99c thrillers on a Kindle.

5:

I used to be disinterested in sports, and simply bored by the Olympics. But this year it has reached the point where I decided to disconnect my TV cable and actively avoid any company that sponsors this event.

If the only way a city can host something like the Olympics is by taking away basic freedoms from their citizens, the logical conclusion should be not to host the event.

6:

I am 100% with you on that.

7:

So if supersonic shrapnel rains down on London and the launching tower block goes up in flames form the exhaust, who gets the blame because it's the paranoid security that leads to the lack of security...

8:

My flat overlooks the main stadium and would be a possible site for the AA missiles, so I'm glad it's not us.

London is going to be a city under occupation this summer. I'm going to be avoiding it as much as possible, and have already arranged a work trip to Munich for the Olympics itself. I suspect otherwise I'll say or do something deemed unolympic and will end up arrested.

So sad to see something that was meant to celebrate peace and individual achievement degraded in this way. The IOC and all the bidding countries should be ashamed.

9:

I was DELIGHTED when Chicago's bid to get the Olympics was rejected.

I can understand how hosting the Olympics might have some value to a city that wants to boost its global profile and promote tourism. The London Olympics will do almost nothing to make the city better known, and, unless there's some disaster, the London Olympics will be forgotten in five years. All this does is boost the egos of politicians and the profits of businesses with political connections.

10:

Exactly, HVM is Starstreak - which is a tiddly little manpad. Talking of raining supersonic debris over London is over egging it, a lot.

Bigger issue is if it managed to take out an airliner that had been hijacked - but in that case there is almost certainly no good option.

And as for Charlie's model aircraft, HVM is command guided. No visual, no homing.

11:

See also the 1977 novel SAM-7 by Richard Cox.

Summary from else-net:

"Chillingly prophetic thriller written in 1977 detailing an airliner shot down by shoulder-fired missiles over London by Arab terrorists. The plane crashes into London's busy Victoria railway station, starting massive fires and causing massive loss of life. Rescue workers struggle to save as many lives as they can while aircraft accident investigators attempt to discover exactly what happened before the pilots and their families are implicated."

I'm not sure where I have the old instrument approach plates for Heathrow that I obtained with a Flight Simulator add-on, but with the usual winds, incoming traffic will be over central London. That hasn't changed since the book was written. The final approach, picking up the ILS, still reaches out as least as far.

The version of the news story that I saw also mentioned Shooters Hill, in Greenwich, as a site. In WW2 a lot of heavy AA was set up there. It's high ground, about 6 miles SE of the stadium.

That sort of distance make sense, and in military terms these would be the innermost ring of defences.

A little Googling suggests that the missile that could be fired from the top of a building would be a Starstreak. That depends on the target being visually tracked by the operator. Range is about four miles. The big advantage is you can fire at a target approaching you, but the whole system depends on a controlled air defence environment to detect, classify, and control the engagement of targets, and London isn't a war-zone.

I wouldn't try using a 'plane myself. I don't think you need to directly attack the Olympics to create a panic.

Apparently, there was big car-bomb near Newry yesterday, spotted and de-fused. Get your bomb ready to deploy, scarper, and tip off the police. Then watch the fun...

12:

Lumps of hot metal raining down over the city is one option, but the launchers are man-portable: if the exhaust was going to set light to the guys launching it, I think that might already have been noticed.

13:

>Diego Garcia

Poor little Diego Garcia never bothered anyone. Why do something nasty to it?

How about a place that *deserves* the Olympics? Pyongyang in North Korea would be a good place.

14:

"showered with white-hot supersonic shrapnel" is a severe overstatement.

Starstreak (and "top of a water tower" does tend to imply VSHORAD) is quite a small missile; carries a tiny amount of warhead (we're talking ounces) and all of the fuel is burnt in the first second or so getting the darts up to "very very fast". They then glide to the target at Mach lots, and rely on one of the darts (they really aren't that big) hitting the target and breaking something vital once they do their tiddly bang inside. It also assumes that the target is a fast jet that is "densely packed"; not so useful if the target is mostly empty space for the self-loading cargo.

It's a manually-controlled system; the operator has to see the target to shoot at it, and to guide the missile onto the target. It wouldn't be firing a "hail" of anything, just one missile per launcher. Similarly, it's very short-ranged, and as such it's the last line of defence close to the thing it's defending. For the historically-minded, Edinburgh's TA Artillery unit was established to use these.

The real damage comes from the thing you're trying to shoot down; all the missile is going to do is to prevent a lunatic from hitting a stadium, by making it have a near-miss. If that means scores die when a plane hits a tower block, instead of thousands dying when it hits the opening ceremony or 100m final, then it's done it's job.

In other words, London won't actually have much more protection than it normally does (the fighters would be on QRA anyway, they aren't going to be turning and burning over London), but it does let the politicians show that "something is being done" to all of the over-excitable leader-writers who've read one too many Clancy novels...

15:

The airspace around London is being locked down super-tight for the Olympics, both for the perceived terror threat and because it's going to be even busier than usual with extra flights, VVIP charters and so forth. The RAF are providing radar cover and a raft of extra controllers in order to create a "known traffic" environment for the duration; all flights in that area are subject to stringent control measures. We're told there will be fighters on hand to pick up any transgressors, and it's hinted strongly that they will be armed.

16:

> the London Olympics will be forgotten
> in five years.

Forgotten, but not without influence. I think the taxpayers in Atlanta are still paying for the huge amount of infrastructure that was built with funds stolen from other purposes.

To anyone responsible for a city's budget and revenue, learning the Olympics are coming to down must be like finding the rajah has just sent you a whole herd of white elephants.

Meanwhile, what money comes in, usually runs right back out again. Hotels, chain restaurants, fuel, department stores, security consultants, major communications contractors... most of those are going to have their HQs somewhere else, and that's where the money is going, less some temporary hires and a handful of local businesses. I imagine hookers and dope dealers would be doing quite well, but they usually don't show up in the city's accounting books.

17:

"...it would be illegal for me to say this if I happened to live in London or my blog was hosted in England..."

I'm not sure which part of your post "this" applies to. I don't see anything that can possibly be illegal to say, sadly.

18:

I'm genuinely beginning to think that the value of the Olympics to the UK is more about selling UK technologies, both military and of social control. It's looking more like a gigantic public arms fair than a sporting event.

19:

Come on, guys, the shrapnel will hardly be supersonic at the moment it crashes down. Of course, if the missile manages to intercept whatever target it's aimed at, the target will also fall down, in pieces (within Pk), but still.

Now to the serious part: the likelihood of this happening is pretty slim, wouldn't you agree? And I frankly can't understand what troubles might be caused by having a guy with a MANPADS on top of the roof - perhaps his taking a leak down the rain drain? Similarly, I am boggled by people complaining about CCTV abundance, say, in London.
What's so bad about it? Considering the multiculturalism-boosted crime rate, it's rather good, I'd say. People who fear this are either criminals or believe that the big brother has nothing else to do than watch then picking their nose. Surprise, if the BB wants to track you, you will be tracked even if you live on the North Pole miles away from the nearest street cam. So I wouldn't worry about that stuff.

What I do agree about is the really inconveniencing elements of the security theater - stuff like taking off you shoes at the airport, the not-more-than-100ml-label-on-the-fluid-bottle thing, closing half the city's streets for traffic so that some dignitary may pass unobstructed, etc. And, of course, the Olympics is indeed a big money-making enterprise.

20:

Forgotten, but not without influence. I think the taxpayers in Atlanta are still paying for the huge amount of infrastructure that was built with funds stolen from other purposes

Not sure about "still paying" - after the nightmare that was Montreal, LA made a profit IIRC.

I went to a competition at Wolf Creek (the Atlanta Games shooting venue). By 2002 the tumbleweed was starting to roll - lovely place, but unaffordable; I think the local PD were storing vehicles there. A couple of years afterwards, they stripped it of any useful kit and AIUI it has been demolished -any US-based World Cups are now held at Fort Benning using the Atlanta equipment.

Don't get me started on the "games legacy" - shooting will have had over £10 million spent on a purely temporary facility that will be used exactly twice, and then demolished. The range equipment is being hired and returned to Switzerland; we won't even see the benefit of that, for all of the £100K it will save.

21:

I live 4km directly North of the main stadium.
EVERYONE I KNOW is vehemently against the fascist (look up Smamaranch & his freindship with the vile Coe) "olympics" [ Herinafter "O" ] but ...
as Charlie says - NO PROTEST IS ALLOWED.

What Charlie does not mention is the corruption and venality associated with the whole thing.
The preferred sponsors, and the IOC & LOCOG and the Zil-lanes and .....

Lying down in the street or even streaking gets you a terrorist trial.
BECAUSE EVERYONE LOVES TEAM GAMES..
Excuse the caps, but, finally, people are beginning to notice what I've been saying all along.
Of course, such draconian measures encourage terrorism.
If you are going to be locked up for 5 years for protesting peacfully, you might as well kill some of the corrupt bastards organising this shit.
The authoritarian fascism gets more obvious by the minute, doesn't it?

No liquids more than 100 ml - just as the airlines are about to relax that restriction.
SAM's on residential apartment blocks!

One of my favourite bike-rides, along the Lea canal is going to be blocked "for security reasosn" (Trans: Because we can) and no boats without special permits, and .....

What next?

Security tagging for all residents within a 5km range of the main arena?

It is almost certain that some innocent bystander is probably going to be killed or very seriously injured by these idiot "security" goons, before it's all over.

In fact no brain cells at all were harmed or used during the entire exercise, as far as I can tell.

Ilm going to risk it, and echo Charlie ...
Fuck the Olympics 2012
And, and hang Coe, while you're at it....

SUGGESTION
Wherever you see the horrible "O" logo(s) graffio a black Swastika over or by it - that is what this is about, actually.

I am certainly, if I detect that a visitor is in London for the "O" (As opposed to normal reasons) be as rude and abusive as I think I can get away with.
We don't want these bastards here....

Kosmogrrrr @ 17
Spot on
"What can we get away with?
Do we really need to relax all those lovely emergency controls, once we've got them in place, and the sheeple accept them?"
Remember the saga of removing ID cards, once WWII was over ???
Yerssss ....

s300pmu1 @ 18
Considering the multiculturalism-boosted crime rate
YELLOW CARD
Unless you can justify that statement, of course?

22:

Olympics = corporate orgy. It has nothing to do with sport anymore. Why do we need to spend £15 billion on a sporting event?

23:

"Fuck the Olympics in 2012."

So, you read my well received, albeit short, comment in the Graun...

24:

It must be over ten years ago now. The Army's Rapier missile units had a base at Kirton Lindsey, and a bunch of them went on a deployment exercise to the big Oil Refinery at Killingholme. At some point, you have to try out what you can see, you can't rely on a plan made from maps.

Somewhere in the process, a local resident saw people with guns and called the Police, who responded with a firearms team.

The base has switched back to the RAF, and if any mobile radar is being deployed, that's where it will be coming from.

25:

Living in Colorado, I'll likely never be bothered with an Olympics in my lifetime. The IOC is still pissed that we explicitly rejected the '76 Winter Olympics via statewide referendum.

26:

As someone who actually lives in London, I'm expecting the summer to be pretty hellish, starting with the Queen's Jubilee at the end of next month, and continuing until after the end of the games. Security theatre apart, there's ludicrous stuff like lanes on the busiest roads (such as my route to work) being reserved exclusively for official Olympic vehicles, gross overcrowding in all tourist areas (including the area where I work), etc.

My cunning plan for this is to take the end of July and all of August off - fortunately I have enough accumulated leave time to do it - and stay well away from tourist areas. It won't be even slightly convenient, but I think it beats the alternative of trying to commute and work under those conditions.

27:

Forgot to add that I have no interest in sports whatever and strongly resent the waste of public funds involved, and the lies about how useful everything will be to the community. It's amazing that this never seems to be an election issue.

28:

Scotland the Brave!

29:

I understand that The Who was asked to perform, and could they persuade Keith Moon to rejoin? Either serious ignorance, or The Laundry isn't as fictitious as I'd hoped.

30:

I have been able to pin down the location concerned using Google Earth and Streetview. It's on the edge of the Olympic Park, about half-a-mile south of the Stadium itself, by the railway. There's a set of grey-roofed blocks of flats, not particularly tall, and two Italianate water towers which could be, by their style, as much as a century old. They're visible on pictures of the matchstick factory which used to be there, and there was some construction in 1911, which fits.

The site is now a gated community—upmarket flats—called the Bow Quarter. I don't expect them to be happy about the presence of a bunch of uncouth squaddies, but I'd be inclined to trust them more than I'd trust the other security farces present in the area.

Some of the male residents are possibly nervous about being compared to a modern British soldier. I think they might be Royal Artillery, who tend to combine brains and brawn.

31:

Because I got this in my RSS feed and wasn't really concentrating, I read most of this thinking Charlie Brooker's getting a bit technical.... :D

32:

I seriously wondered about whether I would be arrested for making a comment about balloons and aluminium foil cubes with each face being a corner cube radar reflector. Hence I have omitted context.

33:
about balloons and aluminium foil cubes with each face being a corner cube radar reflector.

This is probably why they're moving from oxo cubes to oxo tubes!

34:

It's not ill-intent that people are worried about, it is stupidity and incompetence. Put a lot of power in the hands of a small number of people, and they are almost certain to royally fuck something up

35:

If the founders of the "modern" Olympics were alive to day they would applaud the security measures of the London Olympics. All these measures serve to put the lower classes in their places.

The late 19th century and early 20th century founders of the "modern" Olympics were elitist gits who did everything to exclude working men and the lower classes in general from any kind of involvment in the Olympics. The Olympics, in their minds, were reserved for the higher classes who had the money and the ample leisure time necessary to attain high skills in amateur sports. Anyone who took part in professional sports was excluded, since that would have let in the lower classes.

36:

>>>Poor little Diego Garcia never bothered anyone. Why do something nasty to it?
>>>How about a place that *deserves* the Olympics? Pyongyang in North Korea would be a good place.

Good idea. I have a hypothesis that Olympic Games inevitably bring the downfall of authoritarian regimes. Let's see:

Third Reich: hosted 1936, fell 1945. 9 years.
USSR: hosted 1980, fell 1991. 11 years.
PRC: hosted 2008. If the trend is linear, should fall 13 years later, in 2021.

So yeah, Olympics in North Korea, 15 years later the country will be free...

38:

USA hosted it in 1996.
I think that by now its fairly clear that the USA is on the way down. The Empire peaked late 1990s. OBL and subsequent events revealed a paper tiger, as the Chinese used to say.

39:

The IOC is still pissed that we explicitly rejected the '76 Winter Olympics via statewide referendum.

What a superb idea. Now, how to mandate that a regional referendum be held before any bid is accepted...

40:

I doubt you'd need to actually trigger the missiles to cause serious damage or terror. You'd just have to make the system believe they'd been interfered with, and cause an evacuation of the stadiums and the Olympic village, thus setting off a human stampede in the Tube and elsewhere, and a total shutdown of the city. Small investment, big return.

41:

"(Oh, and incidentally it would be illegal for me to say this if I happened to live in London or my blog was hosted in England—the enabling laws for the Olympics override our basic civil rights, including free speech... "

…wait wtf? How does that work? Are you saying London citizens are not allowed to express opinions on the Olympic security theater? Sounds amazingly evil even by today's standard. Can't such a rule be appealed to some court of justice?

(I'm asking out of igorance - I'm from Denmark and don't know how such things work in England.)

42:

I nominate Arthur's comment for whatever prize is available. That was perfect.

44:

You are Anders Breivik and I claim my 10 Kronor.

Now fuck off.

45:

You can't be sure, he didn't mention Cultural Marxism. ;-)

46:

A slight increase in the entropy level should be enough to produce a butterfly effect. Particularly energetic flapping could result in darwinian security measures.

Hopefully only a .8 knife missile will read this.

47:

Actually, the missile would fall as 37kg of very subsonic bits. I doubt it would cause too much damage. However, whatever it shot down would be another matter.

48:
I was thinking something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corner_reflector

That's clever, kind the opposite of stealth; but I still rather like the idea of taking the Olympics down with a couple hundred helium balloons and a few packets of vegetarian oxo cubes...

49:

I read that article on Starstreak, and was unable to find any mention of it being used in real combat. Is anyone else here as skeptical as I am about complicated weapons systems being deployed in anger for the first time? I'm reminded of the original M-16 (magazine jams), the original M1 Main Battle Tank (woefully inadequate air-conditioning is bad for electronics as well as crew), and, of most relevance, the Patriot anti-missile. The Patriot deployment in the first Gulf War was claimed to have success rates between 97% (according to President Bush, who might be innumerate) and 40-70% (varying between operation sites in Saudi Arabia and Israel), when an independent analysis gave a success rate below 10%.

As for damage from the missile itself, what happens when one or more of those darts misses its target? I assume there's no equivalent to a range safety protocol where the warhead (which is about the size and explosive power of a hand grenade by the sound of it) is detonated in air on a miss. So the dart slows down and falls at some point (where? remember that while tracking its target it's doing about Mach 3.5, and is pretty aerodynamic, so it will probably go for awhile), and the blows up when it hits the ground, or whatever else it runs into. Granted it won't destroy a building, but a hand grenade does enough damage to kill people if they're within a few meters of the detonation, and I suspect that a wandering dart could go far enough to fall into the suburbs. Surely if Someone Who Matters™ as opposed to some chav from a council estate, gets hurt or killed there will be a public outcry. </sarcasm>

50:

Of course you can pretty well guarantee a SAM kill with a nuke warhead. Minor probs with collateral damage though.
Lucky Britain doesn't have nuked Bloodhounds anymore.
(If indeed we ever had them)

51:

If I was worried about the anti-aircraft missiles, I'd want them on top of my building; that's almost certainly the safest place to be, right under them.

I don't believe random pieces of metal shrapnel will remain supersonic for very long in dense air, either. Now, if they have to bring down an airplane over the city, that would be bad, but as has been said, ALL the options are bad in that case.

And of course the draconian legal actions to stifle free discussion look totally fascist from over here.

52:

The only good counter I can see is a Type 45 Destroyer in the Thames. RAF fighters could be based to far away to react in time, even if they go supersonic

I'd exploit the lack of security on the biz-jet business.

From breaking away from ATC instructions to impact could easily be inside the reaction time of the defenders, and there are plenty of targets, not just the Olympics.

53:

37 kg of sharp metal bits can do a fair amount of damage if it falls on pedestrians. Oh, and has anyone looked at what propellant is used? Most high-performance solid state fuels are rather toxic; even given the design that prevents the operator from being toasted by the launch exhaust, anyone breathing the air nearby is going to be exposed to either the launch or main stage exhaust. That may be acceptable on the battlefield, but it is considered somewhat gauche for security forces to poison the people they're protecting.

54:

The comparison I have seen is with a 40mm Bofors round, which is certainly enough to ruin your day.

Thirty years ago, RAF and RN Harriers were acquiring some interesting holes over the Falklands, without disastrous effects, so I am disinclined to expect any guarantee of a kill.

55:

Propellants are typically nitrocellulose and/or ammonium perchlorate based.

56:

Having said that, I would prefer a mix of beryllium powder and chlorine trifluoride.

57:

Most sensible suggestion I've heard in a long time. If an air threat is perceived to be a serious problem then parking a Type 45 with PAAMS nearby is going to be significantly more effective than a HVM MANPAD.

Note that in exercises with the United States Navy recently the Type 45s were requested to turn off their PAAMS systems because they were deemed good enough to be "constraining the training". [1]

Effective range of the tracking radar (SAMPSON) is over 200 miles, and the Type 45 can supposedly hit targets as close as 1km (Aster 15) and all the way out to 120km (Aster 30) which sounds considerably more potent than the proposed solution.

Probably a bit more expensive to deploy a Type 45 in the Thames for 3 months versus a few squaddies with a Starstreak on top of a building though...

[1] http://mobile.defensenews.com/story.php?i=7969457&c=FEA&s=INT

58:

It's "The Rapture of the Sports."

I've seen Southern Baptist revivals, with shouting preachers, people screaming "Hallelujah", and others having seizures while possessed by the Holy Spirit.

The fans, on the other hand, are much more numerous, and even crazier. Feetball and NASCAR seem to be the big ones, with basketball trailing along there somewhere. They don't care if their coaches are porking children or their players are fighting dogs or selling cocaine; they're just minor eccentricities to the True Supporters, of little consquence to the Game.

59:

I would be very interested to see a cashflow analysis for the past few Olympics. They strike me as a scheme to redistribute money from the public to a few large companies, but data would be interesting, and should be available since the IOC is so paranoid about tracking revenue.

60:

Fuck the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 Soccer World Cup.

(As someone who lives in the country that will host those events.)

61:

Long term, the surest way to reduce the level of military/police presence associated with the Olympics is to make such events one big *yawn*.

Based on media coverage of global meets (athletic and econo-political over the past 10 or so years, it's as though TPTB go out of their way to plant fear, tag-teaming with the media who fan/conflate dire omens to the point that even the stupidest yahoos feel obligated to respond/riot.

62:

Exercise Joint Warrior, which I think will have just ended, was claimed by an RN Spokesman to be testing the ability to provide anti-terrorism support for the Olympics. That sounds like a funding bid rather than a serious objective for the type of exercise. It's the annual west-of-Scotland combined ops affair. There were paratroops near Stranraer, and amphibious ops training.

It would be a weird Olympics if they were dropping the Parachute Regiment on the site.

On the other hand, with Illustrious and Ocean involved, it pretty well has to include one of the Type 45s, and if you're going to station her in the Thames, the crew need some training general and more specific. Spotting targets over land would be one obvious thing they could have done in Scotland.

This week there seems to be an Olympic-specific exercise in London, so I wouldn't be astonished if a Type 45 turns up by the end of the week. But what they need to be up to speed on is what the normal air traffic movements look like, so they have a chance of spotting something wrong.

63:

Supersonic shrapnel? [citation-needed] My physics-sense is tingling ...

But as to "Fuck the Olympics in 2012." - amen. It's not just London that gets buggered either. We've got the boat bit down south in Weymouth.

Since I do my of my travel by train, and have a chunk of clients up London way I'm going to be screwed both ways with folk travelling to/from London for their events, and folks traveling to/from Weymouth... all on the same line... with me in the middle failing to get where I want to be. The South West trains are awful at the best of times - this is going to break them.

64:

Of the many things that are terrible about the olympics, the bullshit about boosting the local economy is my least favorite. It's going to bring a lot of people to London in Summer 2012? Well, isn't London already a world tourist destination that fills up its hotels 95% every season? How much more money can it bring in? The problem is that for every person who goes to the games, a reagular tourist (or four) decides to skip going to London that year because they don't want to deal with the Olympic crowds. Not to mention the locals who will split town to avoid all the Olympic hullabaloo. And Olympic visitors aren't very lucrative tourists - they pretty much shuttle, exhausted, between events and their hotels, not spending a whole lot of money in the city as a whole.

It's a net money-loser even before considering the expense of all the new venues, the security blanket, and the disruption to regular economic activity. The Olympics are pretty much the worst curse you could wish on a city, and I did a happy little dance when my city fell out of competition for the 2012 games.

Man, fuck the Olympics.

65:

Stross was replying specifically to:

"Considering the multiculturalism-boosted crime rate, it's rather good, I'd say. People who fear this are either criminals or believe that the big brother has nothing else to do..."

'Those darned dirty immigrants, getting in the way of our Brave Government protecting us from all evils! Someone should just buy a pile of guns and shoot all the filthy Muslims already, get it over with.'

I think Stross's response was quite measured, considering.

66:

When it comes down to it, not only is such talk bad manners, but when people are shooting at you, one tends to accept help from any and all gods in the vicinity. Luckily, they agree more than you might think on how a worthy man should behave.

67:

The link states that there would be a 24/7 armed forces and police presence.

In the US this would be unconstitutional. The third amendment to the US constitution makes it illegal to quarter soldiers in private homes without the owner's consent during peacetime.

Now I know the US constitution does not apply in the UK. However we should be worried when our government casually contemplates doing something that would be unconstitutional in the US.

68:

Bruce, Starstreak is the British Army's equivalent to the Stinger -- been in service since 1997, during which time the Army has been involved in no less than five wars peacekeeping missions thanks to Tony Blair, so I suspect it was at least tested against Iraqi choppers. A 1986-vintage weapons system in service for 15 years is probably past the "teething trouble" stage by now.

69:

... and the Pyongyang people have probably been told they've already hosted a few Olympics.

70:

Check wikipedia for the list of members of the IOC. A dozen or so royalty of various sorts, plenty of people rich enough that work doesn't blight their lives, and a token group of not very representative athletes.

I wouldn't be heart broken if these folks disappeared from the face of the earth.

The whole system sucks from bottom to top. The people who actually are the focus of attention, the athletes, pay thousands to hundreds of thousands in training expenses with very slight chance of a return. I've seen child athletes of modest talent subjected to sports abuse by parents who are sure their little darling is going to go to the Olympics.

The staff of the organizing bodies and the officials have a better return for their time than the athletes. A lot of them actually have a paying job for their involvement.

If there were some way to eliminate the International Olympic movement a lot of people would be better off.

Those of you in London have my sympathy.

71:

Colorado had a unique situation in that they'd already won the bid, but in order to cover the costs they put a bond issue to a vote. Embarrassingly for the powers that were, the voters said "hell no!" and the IOC had to scramble for another site.

I believe that's why subsequent Olympic bids have centered on the host city having the cash in hand and the willingness to show their credit worthiness by showering the site committee with largess.

72:

"I don't believe random pieces of metal shrapnel will remain supersonic for very long in dense air"

The bus that carries the three darts falls off after the second stage burn, at which point the missile is going at Mach 3.5

"When the missile is a safe distance from the operator the second stage fires, which rapidly accelerates the missile to burn out velocity of about Mach 3.5 four hundred meters away from the operator. As the second stage burns out the three dart sub-munitions are released."

73:

Personally, I've never met a god who disagreed with me about anything. Come to that, I've never met anyone who'd spoken to a god who disagreed with them about anything, even when two people with flatly opposing opinions said they'd spoken to the same god. Funny, that.

Mind you, to bring this vaguely back on topic, any god who instantiated in London and expressed my opinion of the IOC and LOCOG would presumably be arrested under vaguely-worded terrorism statutes just like a human.

74:

I've never met or heard of a god who took umbrage to the nonsense that many fundamentalist theists of all religions say about them. This makes me very skeptical about their existence: if I were omnipotent and had been insulted like that I'd take action, as in plagues and earthquakes.

75:

I hear they're considering deploying a few Trident-equipped Vanguards to patrol the Thames. No deader terrorist than a nuked terrorist, after all. And I'm sure Londoners will not mind suffering a bit of collateral damage for their own safety. Stiff upper lip, and all that.

76:

Paper eagle, wouldn't you think?

77:

"The Ministry of Defence is considering placing surface-to-air missiles on residential flats during the Olympics."

Isn't this a Monty Python skit?

78:

My understanding is that Starstreak's darts, like most other SAMs or AAMs, detonate their warhead once they run past notional effective range. What you're likely to get in that case is a shower of metal fragments that will slow down rapidly in air. As to how fast those will end up falling, I'd imagine the terminal velocity would be somewhere between that of a penny (which I've seen estimated as around 30 m/s) and a free-falling bullet (60 m/s).

(Yes, people have worked such figures out, to answer questions such as 'will a coin dropped from a skyscraper kill someone' and 'how dangerous are bullets fired straight up'. The answers seem to be 'unlikely' and 'somewhat, but nothing like as bad as one fired at you'.)

79:

I have to admit that when I saw this story I had visions of Rapier Field Standard C being lowered by helicopter onto the top of one of our local tower blocks. (Actually, not that local - although my flat is close to the Olympic site, it is also almost right underneath the western approach path to London City Airport, so this area would probably not be that good for siting ground-based air defence assets. Mind you, whereever you put SAMs you're going to end up with a MEZ (missile engagement zone) with a busy municipal airport in it, which will be fun for the RAF's fighter controllers - sorry, aerospace battle managers - to deal with.

The details coming out suggest that it is in fact Starstreak being considered, which sounds slightly more feasible (if not less bonkers). Mind you, I did wonder if a third option might be under consideration: C-RAM, which was introduced into Iraq shortly after my tour of duty there. If you're familiar with the Phalanx anti-missile system mounted on many NATO ships, it's essentially one of those on a flatbed. There's a video of a test here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAw82h-IhdQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

plus a video of it in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqTyafBaDYM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

(Even five years on, hearing that siren still ties my insides in knots; I feel I ought to be grabbing my helmet and armour and hitting the deck...)

80:

FWIW, almost all of the criticism of the US govt. post-9/11 is over the draconian (and silly) security measures that they have implemented.

So I don't think the govt. is worried about terrorists. I think that it's a useful excuse to do what they wanted to do anyway. Most of the measures wouldn't even be effective against a serious terrorist, or even create added vulnerability.

P.S.: This is about the U.S. govt. I'm not sufficiently aware of the British govt. to properly criticize them. But they *sound* like they're acting the same way.

81:

Hmm. It's a good thing I'm a novelist who dabbles in technothrillers, not a terrorist. If I was a terrorist I'd be licking my lips, trying to work out how to trigger a missile launch.

Stick something in the water to trigger a Block War, shortly before launching a nuclear attack and invasion.

82:

Don't they have something resembling the US Constitution's 3rd Amendment? It doesn't get used often, but I'm pretty sure this would qualify.

83:

It's not ill-intent that people are worried about, it is stupidity and incompetence. Put a lot of power in the hands of a small number of people, and they are almost certain to royally fuck something up

They *should* be worried about ill-intent. It generally does less short term harm, but considerably more long term harm, over a far greater area. (Although, I should perhaps quibble a bit about "ill intent". Many of those I think of as having ill intent would honestly deny possessing it. They would, the honest ones, cop to having a hidden agenda, but would assert that it was ok because everyone had one. True, of course, but details matter, and it's significant what they hidden agenda is hiding.)

84:

"considering the multiculturalism-boosted crime rate, it's rather good, I'd say."

That's a consequence of a lower age and higher birth rate amongst immigrants. If you have more young people, you'll have more crime. Till they generally grow out of it.
I didn't see footage of that many sixty year olds of any skin colour looting in the riots last summer. What's the culture got to do with it?

85:

Michael Bloomberg desperately wanted the games for New York City and was surprised that residents were against it. But residents were just downright skeptical that an event of that magnitude could be handled without major disruptions and curtailments of freedoms. Maybe the games should go back to Greece, with the intention of repairing that country's economy, ending the corporate corruption you mention and making it an athletic event about civic pride and international cooperation while giving back to the people who gave us the idea in the first place.

86:

Nothing, except in the eyes of a racist shithead. Who can consider himself banned, now I've had time to think about his drivel some more.

(Oh, also of note: after one generation, immigrant community birthrates fall to converge with the host nation's birthrate. Even if the community in question is slow to assimilate in other ways.)

87:

The late 19th century and early 20th century founders of the "modern" Olympics were elitist gits who did everything to exclude working men and the lower classes in general from any kind of involvment in the Olympics.

Absolutely wrong.

William Penny Brooks was the man who arguably did most to set up the modern Olympic movement, and he most expressly wanted the working classes to take part.
He set up the Olympian Games in Wenlock, England in the later 19th Century "for the promotion of the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Wenlock and especially of the working classes,.."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Penny_Brookes

88:

The late 19th century and early 20th century founders of the "modern" Olympics were elitist gits who did everything to exclude working men and the lower classes in general from any kind of involvment in the Olympics.

And their reason for getting the upper classes involved in sports competitions in the first place was as a surrogate for war. The Olympics were for the men a nation might need as officers. The founders of the "modern" Olympics were afraid that there wouldn't be enough men suitable as officers, because too many of the men of the social class that officers came from would be regarded as wimps by the cannon fodder and as friends by other nations' officers.

The "modern" Olympics are a nationalistic and elitist reaction against the improving health of the working classes and against increasing international fraternization among the upper classes. What's not to like?

89:

I think you'll find that Greece is still recovering from (i.e. paying for) the last time they had their economy boosted by the Olympics...

90:

David Dyer-Bennett @ 51
i And of course the draconian legal actions to stifle free discussion look totally fascist from over here.

And you think they don't look the same from HERE?
Except, of course we can't say so um er....

SM (Stirling?) @ 59
Exactly
The corruption and money redistribution-to-corporate-corrupt bodies is (maybe not so) amazing!

Stuart in Austin @ 69
Thank You - we need your sympathy.

Dave Moore @ 76
We could wish!

OH & @ 84
Bollocks
Otherwise why were we treated to Dr ROger Bannister's FIRST EVER 4-minute mile in 1954(?)(ish) when it was first done back about 1820 - but it was DONE FOR MONEY as the result of A BET, rather than purely for the egalitarian (NOT) glory of (sham)ateurism???????????

91:

Tow thoughts

(1) We're already being told that at some Tube stations during the Olympics there will be two hour queues. It looks to me as though the Games are going to paralyse the city quite well by themselves with no need for terrorists to lift a finger.

(2) In contrast to the expenditure of billions required for this year's Games, I seem to recall that the 1948 London Games, put on for a miniscule amount, at short notice, in a city still to recover from the War, are generally regarded as a triumph. Perhaps there is a lesson in that.

92:

Oops. Two. TWO.

93:

A Type 45's radars would be badly affected by surrounding buildings.
Put it on Parliament Hill say...
OK it would take a bit of urban redevelopment but a small price to pay for having the glory of the Olympics in London.
An an aside I note than two Brit drugs cheats are now eligible for the athletics team.
I look forward to the forthcoming debate in the media.

94:

Actually, I have applied for a temporary job with G4S for the duration. My holiday from hitech hassle and having to think for a living.

95:

I believe that McDonalds are the sole licensee of snacks and meals sold within the Olympic Park.

Yeah, I'd like some citation for that, too. It's almost too horrible to contemplate, and a major issue for people with special dietary requirements, given the restrictions on bringing foodstuffs into the Olympiad.

What else could go wrong?

For all that I disdain McD, their food hygeine is fairly good; but there's significant risk in centralising an operation this size, especially one running on temporary staff without a well-established management team. Even without malice or terrorism, the potential for an unpleasant food-contamination incident is quite high.

96:

Those who diss McD are obviously not old enough to remember the great British burger. Loadsa kechup and squirting grease with every bite.

97:

I know it has become a bit cliche' but, it always deserves repeating. From the wonderful B. Franklin, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

98:

Why have it in the middle of lots of people. It was something for a some the uppers to see. Why make the lowers pay for their fun now. For that matter the big Olympics was a bit of Nazi propaganda. It seems the four rings that is the ancient symbol of the Olympics was invented and carved on a old stone by the Nazis

99:

I doubt you'd need to actually trigger the missiles to cause serious damage or terror. You'd just have to make the system believe they'd been interfered with

The system you have to spoof is a squaddie with a set of binoculars. These missiles are controlled locally, not through some Wargames style console.

100:

In about four minds about this, remember being profoundly grateful that NYC hadn't won as it would have been so disruptive but gleeful that London had beaten Paris.

As a former Londoner myself, I do totally sympathise with those fearing the three weeks of hell the games will cause but I do think the organisers have made a real effort to leave a legacy of revitalisation in a formerly depressed part of London. I have a fondness for brownfield redevelopment as the state in which I live has managed to turn all of its once glorious cities into nightmares (new jersey, and if you think Newark is bad, visit Camden)

101:

I sympathise.

For the Sydney Olympics I went to Perth (a safe distance away). Which was convenient, as the house I moved out of was within the cordon of some venue and my former housemates got the full military dictatorship treatment - photo ID and proof of residence required to enter their street, background checks and even a bunch of armed goons jumping the back fence and running along the side of the house.

I've also had the misfortune to work within the cordon during one of the G20/WTO meetings in Sydney. During which the plod I made the mistake of leaving work carrying a camera. Plod confiscated the memory card from it and threatened to arrest me when I asked for a receipt. So that memory card and the photos on it are a cost of hosting prestigious world leaders {tm}. It made me glad we had The Chaser crew to show just how little security the Important People gained from the farce.

What did Sydney gain long term? A lot of CCTV cameras (not usually monitored, too expensive) and some really useful exemptions to various rights-enforcing laws. Through some careless oversight very few of those laws expired after the Olympics were over.

102:

Greg,

We in turn deserve sympathy when we host our first Formula 1 race this November. For the privilege of hosting a decade worth of F1 races we are required to cross Bernie Ecclestone's palm with $25,000,000 of state provided money each year for the next ten years.

It will be interesting to see if the billionaires who put up the money to build the track ever see a dime of profit. The F1 race was originally scheduled for June but delays in construction pushed it to November.

I'm curious to see how many people will want to attend races in the summer when the temperature can easily be above 105. The course site has been scrubbed bare of trees during the construction.

103:

I imagine hookers and dope dealers would be doing quite well

Unfortunately not: the Met's having a massive crackdown on sex workers ahead of the Olympics, with all sorts of unfortunate consequences.

104:

Stuart, if the Melbourne F1 race is anything to go by only the F1 owners will see a profit. Well, and the politicians at the top who get both campaign contributions and a chance to put their mates in VIP seats at the event. The rest of us just get the disruption. Although it is much less than the disruptions from the Olympics or other major event. Luckily they tend not to have F1 races right in the middle of the CBD.

I do think there's a case for events like that to be held a long way from civilisation. Like the motorbike racing at Philip Island (see, Australia does the "exile to an island" thing too). Shades of the Hunger Games, perhaps, but wouldn't it be nice to build a single dedicated facility for each of these things and just leave them to it? Maybe on the southwestern corner of the European VFT system? Or extend that into one of the Balkan republics or 'Stans to somewhere that the locals will welcome it?

I fear my preference for the opening Olympic event being "stadium construction" and destination "the Sahara" wouldn't get environmental approval.

105:

I hate to seem U.S.-centric, but similar things happen on this side for one reason, and I sure hope this reason does not apply to your culture -- because it sure as hell does to mine. Because this reason does apply, then abandon all hope.

NOTHTING and I mean NOTHING has more importance in America than sports. Especially football. More important that life itself, religion, government, politics, starvation, happiness, family, or the Austrian School of Economics.

An example. Last week, the university where I got a Ph.D. in C.S. (University of Florida; the best in our state) said they had decided to shut-down the computer science department and lay-off all non-tenured faculty to save less than USD $2M. The CS department produces an incredible number of CS graduates at all levels, and more than pays for itself via research funding.

But they have increased the football budge by a higher amount.

So, you poor people in London: get used to it. Don't even bother to protest (it won't work). At least, if you have the same disease we do.


--Steve

P.S. I got hit by a fragment emanating from a "scatter/shrapnel" device, which fragment had certainly attained terminal velocity due to my position. It hurt. A lot. Left a scar. Okay, a sexy scar that lets me tell an interesting story. But still.

106:

The link states that there would be a 24/7 armed forces and police presence. In the US this would be unconstitutional. The third amendment to the US constitution makes it illegal to quarter soldiers in private homes without the owner's consent during peacetime.

And to pile on, this particular amendment came about due to the British forcing the public to house their "peace keeping" troops in the run up to the US Revolutionary war. But since it is one of the 1st ten amendments it wasn't considered needed at first by the "founding fathers". Only added later to ensure ratification by the states.

107:

You know something! I agree! What a great idea! Something effective for a change and certainly safer.

Of course, they won't do it. It won't look good having a warship in the Thames not in a museum or something.

But damn! The anti-aircraft power of those, and the way they work, actually makes great sense. Please don't view this as a criticism, but maybe three of them would work even better.

On the other hand, the Royal Navy probably did all it could to avoid that clusterfuck, and good for them.


--Steve

108:

Thank you, Sir!

I've always felt that, with all our problems in the U.S., at least we lucked out for historical reasons by having an explicit (and slow and inefficient) mechanism/culture in place to assimilate immigrants of all types, such that, while it might take 100 years (give or take), eventually their children will wind up running things. Example: I live in Miami, born and raised. Cuban exiles arrived circa 1960 and kept coming with literally the clothes on their backs. Their children and grandchildren now run the place, and deserve to and do a pretty good job all things considered. Eventually, that exile community might even wind up with a vice-president or president instead of only having senators today.

Europe tends to lack that assimilation tradition, ala "Yeah, the immigrants might do weird things, and we might not let their children into politics, but their grandchildren. . . ." I do *not* blame individuals, but I notice it as a cultural thing. And why not? This appears, to me, like a radical new idea for European cultural traditions. But we've had hundreds of years to digest it.

I think changing the culture in this area works as key (and I have zero idea on how to do that). Screw genetics/race/ancestry and all that superficial nonsense (on any side of the issue -- I find it no different than morally reprehensible "unto the fourth generation" religious crap, frankly). Wherever you live, you should want immigrants to assimilate the best parts of your traditions, and even better, to improve your culture by adding the best parts of theirs.


--Steve

109:

I don't care how fast or slowly the shrapnel travels: it's a BAD idea. The _very idea_ that a government would deploy armed soldiers domestically in a non-war situation fills me with horror. The specific ordnance used is frankly secondary.

FWIW (and Mike M #85 beat me to it), the Olympics started in Greece, and if they're going to go anywhere on a permanent basis, then northern Greece is a better place than most. And creating a static venue makes it more likely that you'll be able to amortise the investment costs over time.

I often travel to a place near London for work. Like many others, I have already made inconvenient arrangements to stay clear during the olympics and paralympics. I'm already fed up with the intrusive and inconsiderate security preparations for the car-park-come-terrorist-magnet that will cut my place of work in half. And I feel that a vomit coating would improve the aesthetic appeal of the Games(tm)-inspired gaiety already installed at Heathrow.

Having said all that, I do hope the athletes and spectators find it an excellent event.

110:

Hi Charlie, liking your blog by the way. I think all this olympic security stuff makes so much more sense if you stop trying to analyse it as measures for public safety. It's really nothing more than a trade show. The UK gets to show off it's nice new equipment, planes, missiles, aircraft carriers, thousands of police forces, probably some pepper sprays, tazers and watercannons, then there's the surveillance stuff to capture mobile phone signals and track people over several square kilometres, the real-time internet surveillance technology they're trying to ram through parliament etc etc etc. Its all just kit that the sheikhs, oil barons and billionaires are going to be particularly interested in buying up to use back at home. Every measure that we get imposed on us for two weeks will more than likely be exported to a country where they have to live in daily fear of missiles being launched over their heads. What a joke.

111:

It is as if every government in the Western industrialized world has some kind of collective brain disease and can't actually understand the stupidity of their actions or proposals. Missiles on rooftops won't stop a determined terrorist. Intelligence might, but that is hard to come by given the diseased state of government.

112:

Moz@104

A better question would be, how did you find the 2006 Commonwealth Games? I was there in 2005 for a test event, and competed in 2006, and it certainly seemed to have a workable handle on things. I wasn't aware that it crippled normal life, and you got a shiny new housing estate out of the deal ;-) of course, I could be horribly wrong, but life seemed to continue (we used to drive past the CBD every day).. Nice city you have.

The 2005 test event was a week after the F1 GP; most shops in Melbourne seemed to be flogging memorabilia, so it wasn't a total loss to the local economy...

Stephanos@109

While I understand your distaste for domestic military deployment, sometimes the Police just can't cope... the IRA was willing to use automatic weaponry and light mortars, I can't see a current threat being more lightly armed than that. Perhaps I'm more relaxed about it because the UK Armed Forces haven't decided to run the country in the past few centuries (unlike Greece); nor has anyone else's Armed Forces (again, unlike Greece).

113:

It seems obvious, set the Olympics up on a permanent floating barge (Perhaps Pykrete for the Winter Olympics) and then tow them to the general vicinity of whichever nation wishes to feel like they are hosting them this year ... but still far enough from shore to be safe from terrorists, journalists and pedestrians.

114:

I note that Castro was smart enough to use the US as the dumping ground for Cuba's mentally ill and criminal classes. So a rather higher than normal immigrant crime rate might have been expected.

115:

How did it take so long for someone to mention that in Mega-City One EVERY block had SAM turrets mounted the roof?

116:

If we cut the number and type of games down to the ones they actually had in ancient Greece that would remove most of the gigantism and make their hosting comparatively painless. Running, boxing, wrestling, chariot racing, and the pentathalon.

117:

The Olympics should be turned into an Unlimited games - drugs, internal augmentation, gene doping - anything goes. That would really be fun.

118:

Mind you, I did wonder if a third option might be under consideration: C-RAM, which was introduced into Iraq shortly after my tour of duty there. If you're familiar with the Phalanx anti-missile system mounted on many NATO ships, it's essentially one of those on a flatbed. There's a video of a test here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAw82h-IhdQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Moar Dakka!

if you are having to rely on close in weapons systems, especially unproven ones like Starstreak, it pretty much the weapon systems of last resort. The recent Lincolnshire to Oxfordshire helicopter intercept by a Typhoon jet [Mach 1.2 at 2000ft] shows what really will happen if something kicks off the Olympics

The press doesn't really want to contemplate airliners being hit by AAMs and disintegrating in a shitstorm of burning Jet-A over the Edgware Road.

can I add my voice to the
"Fuck the 2012 London Olympics and all who sail in her" consensus?

119:

I was glad when San Francisco lost the 2012 Olympics bid to New York, which you Londoners are now stuck with. We did win the America's Cup sailboat race bid, but that's mainly going to cause the traditional real estate development and public funding scams and not lead to anti-aircraft guns on the rooftops or mines in the harbor or such nonsense.

And of course you don't see 60-year-old immigrants robbing banks. 60-year-olds of any background who rob banks mostly have the sense to do it though embezzlement, commissions on unsustainable loans, ridiculous investments, or other white-collar methods that get a lot more money, and banks keep that sort of thing quiet to avoid losing customers and/or potential future investors.

120:

"(Oh, and incidentally it would be illegal for me to say this if I happened to live in London or my blog was hosted in England—the enabling laws for the Olympics override our basic civil rights, including free speech... "

I'm in London, and yes the Olympics security/propaganda theatre is warming up, but I'm not aware of any new laws or restrictions in place other than the protesting ones. Certainly the usual 'Robin Hood airport' type rules are still there (that infamous case) but as someone critical of the Olympics and the Met and all of that, I don't think they are restricting online speech...yet.

Given a scare I can imagine them pulling all the local services though, inc cellphone and internet, and if they could the social media sites after the riots...

But I echo Fuck the Olympics, most people here it's a real hassle and many are planning to leave. What I'm hoping is enough leave and enough tourists say 'fuck that' that like a lot of the 'OMG THIS IS GONNA BE HELL' type things, like the Nov 30 strike last year, it's actually a ghost town and quite pleasant as most of the tourists and out of towners aren't coming in.

If not, I'm going on a plane out of here, or staying outside of the capital.

121:

He died shortly before De Coubertin and his elitist friends took complete control of the Olympics.

Note that I am well aware of some populist currents in certain sports federations or within entire nations such as Norway or Finland. But they're exceptions.

As Busy Bee put it so well:

"The "modern" Olympics are a nationalistic and elitist reaction against the improving health of the working classes and against increasing international fraternization among the upper classes. What's not to like?"

122:

Ah...I live in Atlanta, and I lived here in '96 for the games. Remember it fondly. We were warned to stay off the interstates because of the probable 20-hour a day traffic jams. Turned out so many locals left the area (most trying unsuccessfully to rent their homes out to Olympic-goers) that traffic was better than I'd seen before or since. The Perimeter was actually usable!

Alas, times have changed. We did have the Centennial Park bomber, of course (and I certainly hope nothing happens in London), but I don't remember any Surface-to-air missile systems being set up on apartment buildings.

123:

So, it seems the Starstreak is controlled locally rather than by some hackable radio link from afar; that's good for its usual employment and I'd have designed it that way myself. A quick read of the article suggests that a single trained operator can run the system and has a non-zero chance of actually hitting something. It seems pretty obvious that not even the dumbest terrorists are going to try a 9-11 style hijacking for the Olympics anyway, and doubly so with these things dotting London rooftops. But it raises another question.

Given that it's run by one guy, how many troops are going to be standing around one of these installations being the Not Standing By crowd? Two men seems a reasonable minimum, allowing one to take a leak while the other watches for Sky Terrorists, but past that - how many fellows will the army really spare during a busy event to stand around and watch? The flyer claims ten officers (not the enlisted guys trained to use this, but officers), plus a police perimeter (during the busiest time for the London police all year, they're going to have spare constables to stand around some residential flats kilometers from all the action, all day and night). Hm, yeah.

But maybe so. Assume a terrorist group that just can't sit back and let the Olympics happen, but feels it must make trouble; a target suggests itself. Now, taking on the British Army even in small numbers is not to be taken lightly...but if they could round up a quite reasonable number of thugs they could overwhelm a small number of defenders by surprise, and they'd need to hold the site for only a few minutes. There's no time at which a surface-to-air missile in central London isn't likely to have potential targets! The minimal terrorist plan is to ignore the stadium entirely, grab a SAM battery, pop off all available missiles at anything airborne, and scamper. With a little planning and luck they might even get away with it.

If I were putting this together and was told flat out by some politician that we had to have SAMs in London, I think I'd blow off the residential scheme entirely and put them someplace that was already inside a security cordon. Atop the stadium, maybe. Certainly not outside it where we'd need to guard yet another thing during the busy period.

124:

We had the Olympics over here in .au back in 2000. Oh wasn't that fun.

For a start, even though it was supposed to be a "summer" games, we wound up holding them in what was, for us, early spring. This was because the various TV companies in the USA weren't willing to have them run any later in the year (or any earlier). Late September was when they had a gap in their schedules long enough for the various events to run, so late September was when the Olympic Games were going to happen. And be buggered to anyone else.

Like, for example, the three major football codes here in Australia, all of which tend to have their finals toward the end of September. All of them had to haul their seasons for 2000 forward by about a month, and thus begin in around late February rather than late March (incidentally, that's the hottest time of the year here). Okay, at least part of that was because one of our major TV companies had the broadcast rights to both the Olympics and one of the major grand finals (the AFL one, if I recall correctly) and wasn't willing to let either of them go, so they threw a tanty about the whole thing too.

Oh, and be buggered to all the schools in NSW and the Sydney region in particular, and certainly be buggered to the kids who were gearing up to their end-of-year leaving high school exams, because they wound up with a completely unscheduled two week break in their school curriculums about a month after they'd just finished one set of scheduled holidays (so they could "go see the Games", or more exactly so they wouldn't be cluttering up the public transport system trying to do things like get to and from school while the games were on).

Be buggered to everyone in Australia who happened to be in a daylight saving state, as well, because we all went onto daylight savings at the beginning of September so Sydney wouldn't be as far out of synch with the US east coast as normal. An extra hour of waking up in darkness, just what we all needed. That was so much fun in Canbrrra in September, let me tell you.

Thanks be to the gods we had John Clarke and Brian Dawe and their wonderful satirical show "The Games" which ruthlessly extracted the urine from the whole damn shebang from go to whoa. Of course, this was all back Before The World Ended (i.e. September 11 2001), so we weren't quite as paranoid about terrorists as we could have been - back then we were still largely operating on the algorithm of "who'd bother attacking us?" (and boy, don't I wish we still were...) and satire hadn't been turned into the social solecism it is now.

Bill Stewart @119 - if the America's Cup leads to the same sorts of things in San Francisco that it did in Fremantle (back in the late 1980s) I suspect the worst you'll get out of it is a new marina or two. Thing is, yacht racing isn't exactly the most plebeian sport in the world, so the folks who come to see it will generally wind up either paying for good hotel rooms and accommodation, or they'll come with their own accommodation on the boats they're going to be watching the races from.

125:

Why would any sane terrorist even attempt to blow up something in London during the Olympics? You can cause nearly as much disruption and -- terror! -- by blowing something up in some other English city, like, say, Edinburgh*.

Or just dial in some bomb/tank/water poisoning threats. Much safer. Mostly the same result.

Also, it's probably going to be a good time to rob banks anywhere in the UK, seeing as the only law enforcement left in the other cities are likely to be on crutches or hauled in from retirement.

* :-)

126:

Isn't the Royal Air Force insulted by the implication that their tight control of the airspace and fighter jet squadrons aren't sufficient to protect against any threat? You'd think they'd squash this plan just out of pride in their own ability.

What scenario is a man-launched missle from the roof of a block of flats going to stop? One where terrorists have, despite heightened security precautions, taken control of not one, but many airplanes simultaneously, causing them to veer off their restricted flight paths in a coordinated wave that so thoroughly saturates the RAF cover that yet another terrorist in a private plane manages to sneak in low and heads toward the stadium with his C4-laden Piper Cub? Are we talking actual terrorists, or Ernst Stavro Blofeld?

I thought the British had James Bond to keep them safe from the elaborate lunatic scenarios of evil masterminds.

127:

Or just dial in some bomb/tank/water poisoning threats. Much safer. Mostly the same result.

More economic, too. Especially if you mention your favourite poison has threshold effects like "sweating, tachycardia and gastrointestinal distress". Nocebo effects, anyone? ;)

128:

Firstly, it's a guided a missile system, not a homing system; it requires a lot of training to hit something with one. Secondly, if you can assemble and arm a team capable of assaulting a firing post, what really exercises the police is the thought of Mumbai, and having to fight six running battles, not one.

Personally, I've got tickets and will be spending a couple of days there, I'm rather hoping it all goes smoothly. I've also lived in places under serious threat of terrorists (for a while, my school did bomb drills as well as fire drills) and so I'm willing to put up with some extra hassle. I've also lived in Easterm Europe pre-90s, so I know what a real police state looks like.

129:

The British Army has decades of experience of armed operations in support of the civil power. I wouldn't say it was an experience of continuous glowing success, but the excesses that were discovered in Iraq were relatively minor. It's the US Army which seems to have the reputation for rape and mass murder.

If you want to scare me, remind me of the armed American FBI and Secret Service agents who will be descending on London.

Nothing they can do now will make the Olympics more tolerable, but I can say I have not heard the same bad stories about the security of the Winter Olympics.

130:

Budget cuts.

I think they're left with Penfold...

131:

"Europe" is not one country; France, for example, has traditionally been very good at assimilating immigrants, the system only breaking down somewhat in the past 40 years, post-Algeria (IIRC the immigrant influx after independence was huge - imagine the USA trying to absorb 40 million people in 5 years by way of comparison).

132:

I think Starstreak needs too much user training, and where would the hypothetical terrorists get trained?

Given what has happened in Afghanistan, with American support for anti-Soviet forces, including the provision of portable SAMs, you can find an operator, and it then reduces to a smuggling problem. No need to go head-to-head with the Army.

If you want to feel really suspicious, you could classify the Libyan Civil War as preemptive Olympic security. The guy had form.

133:

Good point about user training of course. Actually hitting something in the sky would be a spectacular bonus for our hypothetical terrorist group. (The Starstreak has never been used in combat and I've not seen reports of it hitting anything airborne yet; the army may not be too certain of its accuracy either.) The SACLOS system sounds pretty straightforward, but I've got no idea how user friendly the whole Starstreak system might be.

But on reflection I'm not sure it would matter. One two meter tube looks pretty much like another from fifty meters away. The unimaginative 9-11 copycat could be scared away from the Olympics and the over-achieving hopeful marksmen could be attracted to a honeypot far away from actual Olympic targets. Quaker guns work as well as SAMs for both those purposes...

134:

We know Ernst Stavro Blofeld was planning an operation to create a mass outbreak of livestock diseases, including Foot-and-Mouth disease. (On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1963)

Some of the details were very fanciful, but as fictional plotting goes it wasn't outright silly. Ian Fleming wasn't a total duffer. The big UK outbreak of the 1960s came a few years later, in 1967.

135:

There is evil socialism and good socialism. The good socialism is taking money from most of us to pay for the entertain the elite. Not just o but things like opera, a main library that is a place for the elite to meet that starves the rest of system of money. And pro sports of all kind. If they are such a big deal why to they always need more taxpayer money?
The modern big Olympics was a bit of Nazi propaganda. It seems the four rings that is the ancient symbol of the Olympics was invented and carved on a old stone by the Nazis before theirs.

136:

I think the most likely bad outcome of the heightened security during the Olympics is an accident or over reaction leading to a fatal shooting by the police which in turn sparks a panic or a riot.

(Actually, the most likely bad outcome is that we spend money on overtime for the security forces that could have been spent on the NHS and people die as an indirect result.)

As much as the constant chatter about the terrorist threat winds up security minded individuals to over react, the chatter about a police state might trigger the same over reaction in our citizenry who are already a bit hacked off with the economy, the infrastructure they have and the way they are policed.

137:

Actually, the Olympics will be the perfect time for some shopping without paying. The Met will be totally overstretched (they banned holidays during the Olympics) and anyway, quite a lot of the old timers have handed in their public order ticket due to a feeling that the management don't have their best interests at heart.
So chances are there'll be a lot of aid from other forces going to London, hence start a looting spree in Manchester or outer London and they'll be rather slow dealing with it.
(Plus with the privatisation of police functions and attacks by politicians and media morale is really low, which will probably lead to more mistakes)

138:

That's true, but the roof of a condo block isn't in someone's home. Accordingly the question of Un-USian Constitutionality wouldn't even exist if this scenaria was taking place in the USA.

139:

@122:
I don't remember any Surface-to-air missile systems being set up on apartment buildings.

---

No, but there was still plenty of security theater. Georgia Tech's physics department had to shut down its reactor "because terrorists might use it as a weapon." About the only way that thing could have been used as a weapon was if you unscrewed parts and beat someone over the head with them.

I just went and searched through a dozen news articled and failed to find the answer to a question I asked way back then - *who* ordered them to shut down the reactor? (If anyone knows, I'm still curious)

I'm tending toward the theory that GT felt the maintenance funds could be better put to something else, like their feetball team, and used the Olympics as an excuse to shut it down while blaming some unstated "them" for the action.

140:

@133:
But on reflection I'm not sure it would matter. One two meter tube looks pretty much like another from fifty meters away.

---

A Denial of Service attack would be trivially simple.

The more elaborate and extreme your security measures are, the simpler and cheaper it is to set them off. And past some minimal point, "security" becomes counterproductive.

Likewise, as security systems become more sensitive, the cost of setting them off often becomes smaller. Even a child could use some cardboard and spray paint... and they text each other, too.

"It is hard to defend against a highly distributed enemy."

141:

d brown spake thusly:

"The modern big Olympics was a bit of Nazi propaganda."

Funny you should say that. Have a look at

http://www.howtobearetronaut.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Hitlers-racing-car-1-520x420.jpg

142:

*sigh*

Four rings: Audi. (Or Auto Union AG as it will have been known back then.)

Five rings were proposed as the symbol of the Olympics back before the first World War, thus rather predating the founding of the Nazi party. But please don't let that get in the way of loony theories. I'm sure ancient astronauts with time machines were involved somewhere in there, probably meeting up with Nazi scientists in Antarctica.

143:

Auto Union = Audi + DKW + Horch + Wanderer (and not I didn't get that off the web; I actually knew it). Like how I know that the German Government also sponsored Mercedes in the same period.

144:

Diego Garcia would be an *awesome* site for the Winter Olympics!

145:

There's only one sensible venue for a permanent winter Olympics: Svalbard. It may be the only place on earth that permits anybody from any nation to come there to live and work.

Not to mention, the polar bears can probably do with a few more snacks.

146:

I'm late to this party but speaking as an American, I wasn't happy when the city of Chicago did not "win" the right to host the games; I was ecstatic!

147:

Well, speaking as a Briton, I was using the signature line "Totally in support of the Paris bid for the 2012 Olympics".

148:

Strikes me that it’s not just terrorists that can trigger an (over) reaction from the security forces.

I think you have terrorists who want to kill or threaten with death the general population. Currently, likely to have some form of association with Islam but could be Irish. Causing actual death and terror would be a win for those guys. Spoofing the security forces into a reaction would be okay but not really what they want.

There are various protest groups who might consider a security force reaction to be a good media draw but who actively don’t want anyone to be hurt. Anti-capitalists or environmental or civil liberties types. Spoofing the security forces into a massive over reaction might seem like a good idea.

Similarly, there are a bunch of folk who might fancy spoofing the security forces for the lulz.

Then there is your common or garden criminality which might or might not look like a terrorist incident.

Mistaken reporting by the public either to the security forces directly or by Twitter.

Finally, plain error by the security forces.

149:

NB Moderators: 138 (by "Happiness") appears to be spam.

[[ Moderator: now gone ]]

150:

Supersonic shards of metal raining down on East London! You say that like it's a bad thing- a West Londoner.

A Terrorist Group attacking the Olympics which is hosting participants from every nation that can raise an army... they'd have to be mad to try. Boy would those UN resolutions get passed damn quick if they did O_o

151:

You have heard of Black September and what happened at the Munich Olympics, right?

152:

The Met will be totally overstretched (they banned holidays during the Olympics) and anyway, quite a lot of the old timers have handed in their public order ticket due to a feeling that the management don't have their best interests at heart.

the UKBA is massively overstretched also...to the point of desperately requesting help from clerical staff in the rest of the civil service to help man the border points of entry...hiring more staff has not occurred to them.

you can have all the armed guards, missile-on-roofs, and jet fighters you want...they can only react to a situation forced upon them...if the would-be terrorist[s] gets on the airliner or into the stadium, the only thing the various security organisations can do is count the dead, and clear away the wreckage.

all anti-terrorist preparation is a security blanket - nothing else

153:

S J Greenwald @ 105
Yes, u nfortunately, we do have the disiease.
Everyone luves sport (except they don't) and protest is not allowed (again).

Dave Bell @ 129
You are correct, our Army don't scare me as a civilian - it's our POLICE who scare me: as in Brazilian Electrician-scare .....

154:

Missiles are so old school. Charlie's right about DIY minidrones, which have both offensive and defensive capabilities.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-drone-faa-20120430,0,1969574.story

155:

probably meeting up with Nazi scientists in Antarctica.

To discuss the Vril[1] technology transfer for the Reichsflugscheiben and the establishment of the bases on the dark side of the moon?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Sky

SCNR

[1] Suffice it to say I'm not that sure I should be proud I didnt't have to look that up.

156:

I think you have terrorists who want to kill or threaten with death the general population. Currently, likely to have some form of association with Islam but could be Irish

Unlikely to be the Irish -- the remnants of the various mad-eejit groups in this neck of the woods can still cause death and destruction in a very limited way locally, but I would be surprised if they retain the reach and infrastructure of their now less-active predecessors that would allow them to operate in mainland Britain.

157:

We know Ernst Stavro Blofeld was planning an operation to create a mass outbreak of livestock diseases, including Foot-and-Mouth disease.

As I'm just doing IT work for an veterinarian, that's, err, interesting... (*giggle*)

158:

I can just imagine it.
Pakistani terrorists attack the US team so the USA invades Iran, or some other oil rich nation in retaliation.

159:

I find it interesting that all your examples of folks who might perpetrate terrorist actions in, say, the UK are either islamicists or one or another strain of green/left group. Plus "the Irish", leaving aside the fact that I'm pretty sure the Irish government would take exception to that remark (and that the rIRA appear to be incapable of detonating a car bomb in Derry these days).

Meanwhile, you completely ignored the major source of terrorist outrages in Europe and the USA -- extreme right wing/christianist groups. From Anders Breivik through the Oklahoma bomber through any number of gynaecologist-murdering shit-wits, that's the sector the big death toll has come from in recent years. Oh, those BNP guys with a bomb factory who got locked up the other year? Charged under a Victorian-era "playing with fireworks" statute rather than the recent anti-terrrrrst laws, which carry much more draconian sentences (but only for folks with the wrong skin colour).

Sometimes a certain type of blindness can be mistaken for sympathy with that to which the seeing-impaired person is blind. Are you by any chance a christian conservative with a phobia of differently-hued persons? Because if so, you're not welcome on this blog.

160:

Not just the Irish government -- I know for a fact that most of the Irish people (which ever particular part of the island they come from) would be as keen to be associated with the rIRA as the average British citizen would be to be associated with the BNP.

161:

UPDATE: Today's papers report that it's not just MANPADs on rooftops; they're bringing in Rapier batteries (battlefield SAMs, shorter range and rather smaller than Patriot, but still capable of taking down large aircraft at range), and training snipers to shoot light aircraft pilots from helicopters.

The stupid! It burns!

162:

The current UK government is also busily trying to enact a large number of illiberal, anti-social and generally extremely ineffective measures aimed at controlling the general population. Most are being enacted or discussed under the auspices of "Think of the Children!" or "Beware of terrorists!".

Behind all this is a change in how UK political parties are controlled and funded. Around thirty years ago, all UK political parties relied upon large memberships of ordinary members each contributing small donations for funding; control of these parties was mostly bottom-up democracy by the people funding them. These days the ordinary memberships of political parties are tiny compared to the past, and consist of ardently interested people. Funding is either by wealthy donors or companies or in the case of the Labour Party, by rich public service unions. The link to the common voters has largely been lost.

The net effect is that political parties seem out of touch with the UK electorate because they ARE out of touch, and badly so. UK political parties don't know which way their electorate will jump, so are scared of them. Hence the attempts to control the population.

163:

Actually, Right Wing terrorism is fairly rare in Europe:
http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/01/terrorism-in-europe/
Left Wing terrorism seems to outnumber it better than 20:1

164:

The presence of Polar Bears might bring a nice level of excitement to the biathlon at least - they'll probably have to up the calibre of the rifles though :D

165:

Nah, Ghadaffi had made nice with the larger NATO countries, and was selling them oil and keeping those nasty swarthy people on his side of the Middle Sea. He had no reason to attack the Olympics (and its very possible that he wasn't responsible for Lockerbie ... there were signs of Syrian/Iranian involvement)

The NATO intervention in Libya really does appear to have been well-meaning, and contrary to allies-and-resources Realpolitik, although it turned out well for the Cyrenians and NATO by sheer luck.

166:

[ DELETED BY MODERATOR - violation of moderation policy guidelines. Hint: anonymous trolling was also an aggravating factor here.]

167:

He's not entirely wrong if you look at bodycounts rather than counting instances of terrorism. In which case Right Wing terrorists come in somewhere after Islamics and the Left follows on behind. It also matters what the time period of reporting covers.

168:

France, for example, has traditionally been very good at assimilating immigrants

Err, I'd put some qualifiers to that one, as one notorious instance of pre-WW 1 antisemitism happened in France:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_affair

For the problems associated with Algerian immigration, one could argue it was even worse before independence:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_massacre_of_1961

(Not that what the FLN did in Algeria to the Ethnic French was nicer)

And one should not forget one of the fathers of "scientific racism" was French:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_de_Gobineau

On a related note, when talking about minority politics (somewhat the opposite of assimilation, to be sure, but IMHO important to integration) then there is the fun of the French language policy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_policy_in_France

Come on, we have to fight against the evil Anglophone domination, these Bretons just have to go, err...

So I'm not that sure the French were better at assimilating immigrants than, say, the British, the Spanish(weren't there some Spanish aristocrats with Amerindian ancestors?) or the Prussians. And then, France was not that good at assimilating its own proletariat, too...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Commune

BTW, the French were historically quite good at creating immigrants to be assimilated, too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugenots

When talking about those, AFAIK Prussia (the real one, not the bastardized version in the heads of German nationalists and some of their enemies) had a reputation for sucessful immigration policies, too, when talking about building mosques in Germany with people proud of (some) "German" traditions[1], it's always fun to quote Frederick the Great:

"As long as those practicing are an honest people and wish to populate our land, may they be Turks or Pagans, we will build them mosques and churches"

(To play the advocatus diaboli[2]: Religious toleration doesn't mean they are not bloody infidels that should embrace the ONE TRUE CHURCH(TM). As are all non-catholic Christians around me, heretics. Though, well, there are always the natural gifts of men that enable him to find God, err[3])

Never mind quite a few East Prussians had names that made much more sense when you added a -ski or like...

In general, immigration in Europe is not something new, as was migrant work, e.g. high skilled Italians in pre-WW I German canal building. The numbers were not that much lower than later "Gastarbeiter".

And using immigration to ward of demographic problems was not that unheard of, either, AFAIK it was only in the 19th century that European cities were able to sustain their own population with death rates equal or lower than birth rates.

OTOH, the universal identification of the USA as an immigration-friendly nation was not that universal either, e.g. when you look at the original Teabaggers, AKA Know-Nothings:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know-Nothing_movement

So, well, could we agree that xenophobia is somewhat of a human universal? As is catering to skilled immigrants, especially if they have big purses and are a better socio-economic match for your offspring than the bloody peasants around you...

[1] Given the historic regionalism of Germany, prepare for the facepalms.

[2] I still think eliminating that one was a bad idea by Karol, but then, I guess it was not "ex cathedra" and thus is not 'infalliable'...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil's_advocate

[3] Amusing side note: AFAIK one of the 'Catholic errors' Calvin's or Luther's homies thought significant enough to fight against was 'pagans can reach salvation without Christ'.

169:

I am also counting any Nationalist terrorism as Right Wing.

170:

Dirk, you didn't read that Europol report, did you? Because if you had, you'd have noted that the lion's share of terrorist incidents in Spain and France, accounting for around 80% of the total, are described as separatist. (That's ETA, for you.) Mind you, Breivik single-handedly made a huge splash in the EU-wide terrorism stakes -- just, too recently to show up in that kind of decadal retrospective.

171:

Dirk, you will note that the Provisional IRA were campaigning for a united socialist Ireland back in the 1970s, yes?

Nationalism isn't automatically an indicator for right-wing ideology. (Just look at the SNP's political playbook if that puzzles you.)

However, I'd like to serve notice on this sub-discussion. Not Interesting. This is the topic for Olympics 2012 idiocy, not tribal mud-slinging over political violence. I've already shut down one troll who decided to drop in; don't make me do it again.

172:

Now you've done it, Charlie, re: 159. Richard John "Rick" Santorum will be at your door in a minute, riding a coconut-eating T-Rex from the Garden of Eden, as soon as the next spaceship from the Newt Gingrich Moonbase arrives.

173:

But Charlie, deleting the comments of people who disagree with your ideology is precisely why right wing terrorism persists in Europe. When people are shut out of the debate, they find other means to argue. What makes your ideology so sacrosanct? Why are you afraid of criticsm? Why so illiberal and intolerant?

174:

BTW, the 2006 numbers for Germany (zero acts of right-wing terrorism) might need some updating:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosphorus_serial_murders

Also note there is always the fun of actions that are credited to the wrong group (P2, anyone?), or incidents that get labelled as acts of 'mentally disturbed individuals', err.

OTOH, I don't see why we shouldn't subsume Islamism and Breivik under 'Right-Wing religion'...

175:

However, I'd like to serve notice on this sub-discussion. Not Interesting.

I agree. Sorry for somewhat ignoring that note, I was in the act of checking data when you posted this.

176:

I think it safe to assume that there'll be at least a section (squad in US military parlance) to provide security; really effective man-portable SAM systems are the one thing the Provisional IRA never managed to lay hold of, and I dare say the British government is at pains to preserve that happy state of affairs.

And to some of the commenters who've asked about the 3rd Amendment and any UK or European equivalent, there's a couple of key differences to bear in mind. First, we don't have a tier between what you'd think of as the Federal government and the counties, so a lot of things that would be handled by National Guard units Stateside are performed by the Army here.
Secondly, we spent over thirty years fighting an honest-to-God guerilla war on our own soil. This has given us a somewhat more relaxed attitude to deploying the armed forces to deal with matters of internal security.

Besides, I'm pretty sure that the roof of an apartment building wouldn't be covered under the 3rd Amendment anyhow; at most it would require the written permission of the landlord.

177:

You're probably a drive-by troll, but Charlie pays for this entire site, server, o/s and hosting software out of his own pocket. If he says "not welcome here" it's like telling you "Get off my lawn" and backing the instruction up with a pump=action shotgun.

178:

Actually, I was under the impression that hiring more staff was verboten due to budget issues, i.e. the condems want to cut government spending to cut the deficit, which is economically illiterate and wrong, but they are doing it anyway. Hence the double dip recession.

179:

It's so stupid I can't believe it's true. At first I thought it was one of those BBC radio comedy skits.

Now I'm at the point where I think about decoys. I read things like this:

"Dummy missiles will be placed on two buildings in east London and four other sites as part of the exercise"

In this BBC Web articles on the rapier missiles:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17891223

I end up concluding that they really can't be so incredibly dumb as to launch or even take the risk of launching Rapier missiles at planes in the middle of London. Rapier missiles are heavy stuff meant to bring down heavier stuff.

It has to be a clever deception in the end, right?

I mean, They must be planning on placing dummy missiles all the time, and not just during that exercise, right?

180:

The PIRA were socialist by default: they were more interested in the 32 counties part, rather than the left-wing republic. The real ideologists went with the other side of the split.
Why the default ideology of rebel organizations in Ireland is socialism is a very uninteresting question - see James Connolly, Jim Larkin, et al for the answer.

181:

I'm pretty much in agreement with the anti olympic centiment here. But given that it is happening. The security paranoyer / exhibitionism was always going to be high. And of course many politicians get a hardon for this tough weaponised stanse, every eventuality covered (yeah right.) kinda show. I expect some very bored squaddies and coppers and more than usual irritated commuters. I visit family in London every few weeks. Not looking forward to using the tube that month. Especially if it's hot.

182:

The whole missile thing is really another grand security-theatre gesture, again with the emphasis on "theatre". It's being seen to be doing something. It's dealing with the last kind of terrorist threat, while the real terrorists are trying to think up the next.

My suspicion is that if a terrorist act is committed during the Olympics, it's much more likely to be the under-the-radar lone-nut Breivik-style atrocity. The one that is easy to predict but incredibly hard to prevent.

Suppose that right now, somewhere in London, some loner who has never committed a crime, is part of no particular group, party or nationality that is on a watch-list, is carefully stockpiling home made explosive for his very own big day, and has been doing so since London won the Olympic bid. How is any of the grand-gesture missiles-on-the-roof-top ring-of-steel-type-surveillance going to stop this guy?

But the politicians and security folks can't scare the poor dumb public by talking about this kind of threat...

The show must go on!

(This is, of course, random musing on my part.)

183:

"Oh, and incidentally it would be illegal for me to say this if I happened to live in London or my blog was hosted in England—the enabling laws for the Olympics override our basic civil rights, including free speech."

This and a dozen other news articles give the impression that the UK is slowly devolving into a police state. Perhaps England can be renamed Airstrip One and your economic austerity measures promoted with slogans such as "freedom is slavery"?

184:

Well, "Works makes you free" isn't such a good slogan considering the number of unemployed.

185:

The 'dummy' missiles will be the real ones and the 'real' ones the fakes, acting as decoys for wannabe suicide bombers and the like. Who will then walk into an ambush.
Obviously.

186:

There will be dummy fakes and real fakes, also fake real missiles, fake dummies, dummy dummies, real fakes, and fake dummy real missiles!

187:

I'm sure the idea of hiring more staff had occurred to them, but was rejected out of hand for ideolgical reasons

most of the "employees" helping at the Olympics are unpaid volunteers something to do with "the spirit of amateurism" I'm sure ...and not the exploitation of people's good nature for fun and profit

I expect the meat and potatoes job of ensuring the Olympics are safe for all visitors will fall to the underpaid, underqualified, badly trained and underinformed...who will be conveniently blamed if/when it all goes tits up...

188:

Today's papers report that it's not just MANPADs on rooftops; they're bringing in Rapier batteries (battlefield SAMs, shorter range and rather smaller than Patriot, but still capable of taking down large aircraft at range), and training snipers to shoot light aircraft pilots from helicopters.

The question is whether the above are the result of ignorant defence correspondents within the newspapers concerned. I mean, we've seen some real howlers recently (using stills and video from computer games, etc) that wouldn't occur if they had a vaguely competent editor. Whether this is because the editors don't care because it's a nice headline and the punters haven't got a clue, or down to staffing cuts in the papers concerned, is left as an exercise in cynicism.

The problem with Starstreak is that it doesn't work as well at night (optical tracking, remember?). Rapier is bigger, but can be towed by a couple of landrovers - lifting it onto a tower block is feasible if not necessarily sensible. And it's got enough oomph to make sure the speculative airliner doesn't manage to hit what it's aiming at.

Others have alluded to the primary audience for all this fluff; it's not necessarily the public, it may well be the terrorists. Hopefully, the their planners will have an attack of the vapours and concentrate on an easier target - say, one that isn't on an island without easy access to or transport of weaponry, surging its security infrastructure around the event (see: all leave cancelled for police), and running reasonably public exercises involving seaborne, ground, and airborne attack.

After all, who wants to go out in a blaze of martyrdom having failed? More people recognise the name of Timothy McVeigh than of the murderous morons who couldn't even drive a Jeep full of explosives into an airport without getting taken down by middle-aged and unarmed Glaswegian bystanders.

189:

"Europe tends to lack that assimilation tradition, ala "Yeah, the immigrants might do weird things, and we might not let their children into politics, but their grandchildren. . . ." I do *not* blame individuals, but I notice it as a cultural thing. And why not? This appears, to me, like a radical new idea for European cultural traditions. But we've had hundreds of years to digest it."

The US for much of its history, and much of its people, lacks that attitude as well. Note the surge in sheer hatred of Latinos by the GOP base. Also read 'how the Irish became White' (as well as analogous books about the Italians and Jews)

What the US does have is the tendency to lie in history about the reception accorded to immigrants, making it all sunny.

190:

"In the US this would be unconstitutional. The third amendment to the US constitution makes it illegal to quarter soldiers in private homes without the owner's consent during peacetime."


Thanks for the laugh! 'unconstitutional' :)

191:

My mother was born and grew up in the East End during the 30s as the European Jewish Refugees arrived. My grandfather was extremely suspicious of them as many of them were apparently 'communists' and that concerned him.

By the 1960s, the immigrant families were all in the process of moving out to Herts, Essex and so forth, following the trajectories of the previous residents and had been replaced by Bangladeshi immigrants.

My mother still goes to her school reunions and notes that in the last 15 years, her school has gone from being largely Bangladeshi to largely Eastern European - with the previous residents moving out to...

Anybody who actually thinks this doesn't happen, nor that the birth rates don't fall, or that life, generally has been going on with immigration in these islands for several thousand years hasn't been paying attention.

192:

The problem is that new labour demonstrated that an actual police state is quite expensive to build and run. Much easier to talk tough and trouser as much money as you can whilst the going is good before everything falls apart due to lack of expenditure.

193:

"The minimal terrorist plan is to ignore the stadium entirely, grab a SAM battery, pop off all available missiles at anything airborne, and scamper. With a little planning and luck they might even get away with it. "

That would require knowing how to operate it.

IIRC, there's been only one operation which required major technical knowledge - 9/11.

The most likely attacks would be bombs.

194:

Whoops, Rocketship Galileo, from Gingrich Moon Base, carrying heavily armed members of extreme right wing/christianist groups who don't like Charlie Stross, has been delayed due to this guy's problems. "... computer specialist who alleges he was terminated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory because of his belief in intelligent design..." So sockpuppets are spamming, based on their Holy Water-cooled Quantum Computers running "What Would Jesus Blog" simulations.
http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/apr/16/ex-nasa-worker-says-fired-over-intelligent-ap-04/

195:

US 'good' at assimilation?

Hmm... less good at sensible cultural identification me thinks. I lose count of the number of times some yahoo will come up, ask where I'm from and make some comment about being Irish, Swedish, German etc.. or being 'Scots, Irish, Norweigen, Germany, Welsh'

My father was born in Ireland, I have an Irish Passport, but I have never lived there. I'm not Irish (despite what certain members of my family tell me). Never have been. I was born in North London and brought up there.

The only time I've had a problem with being brought up an Irish Catholic has been in the United States where they can't understand why I don't culturally self identify as Irish.

I am astounded that the cultural 'ghettos' in New York remain geographically bounded after entire generations have passed. While London has a couple of very defined cultural areas they are either for tourist purposes, or examples of the opposite of assimilation... and the populations who haven't assimilated all that well aren't the ones the Daily Mail readers worry about.

196:

In a related note Heathrow airport over the last week has been affected by over-security. BAA blames the government for reinstating stringent security checks on every passenger without giving enough resources to do this. Circulating videos taken on phones show long queues and bouts of disorder as people get frustrated with waiting hours (hours!) to pass through customs.

This kind of over-security is as others have pointed out in this thread makes security far weaker. Aside from the fact that vulnerable large crowds are assembled large frustrated crowds of people kept for hours together have the potential to form a violent mob.

197:

What the US does have is the tendency to lie in history about the reception accorded to immigrants, making it all sunny.

Now, now. Don't tag ust the US with this. A history professor made the comment once of something like this.

History tends to be written by the well educated, rich, survivors. So exploring the past for an accurate picture is always a bit hard.

198:

Well, not quite as far as dummies of decoys that are really not fakes but just look like it.

I was thinking more in terms of the Brit tradition of decoys, like in Operation Fortitude, which apparently was good at tricking mister Hitler:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Fortitude

And more recently they managed to use multiple deceptions and tight control of the Press in order to keep the population from knowing the true location of Central Government War Headquarters (also in Wikipedia) near Corsham, Wiltshire.

Of course I might be entirely wrong and the current government of the UK might really be so incredibly dumb that they would take their anti-terrorist Olympic safety ideas from a viewing of "Team America: World Police". Especially the first 15 minutes of that film.

199:

Well the evidence so far from the Leveson enquiry and other things that have happened in the last 2 years indicate that the condems are quite dumb, rather naieve and lack the necessary experience and strength of character to actually govern.

So yes, some of them do have such a basic understanding of anti-terror work as to believe a film. After all, the chancellor wasn't aware of how tax avoidance and tax dodging worked.

200:

Assimilation hasn't been the default mode for any immigrants to the US; for some groups it's been ruled out for very long periods. Consider the treatment of Asians, especially Chinese and Japanese. For the Chinese on the West Coast, where they were most numerous even the beginning of assimilation took something like 4 or 5 generations, and it's not yet complete after 6.

And then there's the worst case: the "assimilation" of African-Americans. That hasn't really happened yet, after more than 10 generations. I guess the US is OK with "quick" assimilation if you're white.

201:

They all speak English. Very few of them know more than a tiny smattering of their original languages. They have all been assimilated. It's all over.

This is true for citizens of African origins, Chinese origins, Japanese origins, etc,etc,.

Just take look at what they read, what they write. They can write English only and read English only.

Then, go take a look at the athletes participating in the Olympics. Each and every one of them can read and write in their national tongues, hundreds of national tongues. Behind those national tongues there are thousands of cultures and sub-cultures.

There is only one tongue in the US, English, and only one culture, the one forged by TV and other media. All else is delusion.


202:

Charlie,

I would have been surprised if they didn't stick a few Rapiers around (helicopter carriage to rooftops is normal), and frankly I'd guess that something longer range would ring London as well. The threat list would look something like:

1) Drone/UAV - Small, disposable, but capable of getting publicity. Generally slow moving. Easy enough to take out with manpad, etc. and with minimal risk from debris.

2) Light Aircraft - Still relatively small, but capable of carrying a noticeable payload. Still slow moving and easy enough to take out with a manpad. Although you'd notice the debris, it's generally not that significant (it's mostly air and thin metal).

3) Large commercial jet aircraft - Not at all small, and can move along at high subsonic speeds. Your average manpad isn't going to take one out on it's own unless you are very lucky. You need something bigger, and frankly Rapier would be unlikely to hack it either (Rapier is quite small). Much more likely to be engaged air-to-air via CAP. Debris would be significant, but less so than allowing it to reach it's target.

In all cases the potential damage caused by engaging the aircraft is less than that expected if it could reach it's destination - even without explosives. So I'd be shocked if they didn't put up some batteries, in case they needed them.

And this isn't exactly new. Hell, there has been a missile battery for the White House for years now, it's well known.

http://cryptome.org/eyeball/wh-missile/wh-missile.htm

The only dumb thing is they are playing with this old tech. Given the lead time, I would have taken a PAAMS vertical launcher stack, hidden it under/in a cargo container, and similarly squirrelled away a Sampson radar on top of a building. I guess nobody wanted to pay, but the capability would have been higher.

203:

I've done some searching, and I can't for the life of me figure out what would prevent you from posting exactly this blog entry even if you lived in East London.

And the barrage of hostile press coverage of the Olympics from news sources *based in London* - makes me think that this "criticising the Olympics is illegal" meme is perhaps... overplayed.

204:

There is only one tongue in the US, English, and only one culture, the one forged by TV and other media. All else is delusion.

Ah, no. Don't go into the construction industry in much of the south (coast to coast) if you don't know some Spanish. You'll not succeed. Ditto restaurant work.

And there are multiple major Spanish US based cable and local channels. So I guess it is a TV language.

205:

Okay, you have an airliner orbiting, waiting for its landing slot at a given London airport. It wanders out of its assigned area and starts heading off toward the target of your choice.

Normally, the tower would radio the aircraft and alert the pilot he was out of position. Then he'd wait for acknowledgement, and then he'd wait to verify the aircraft was moving back into position, and he'd keep waiting until it was either there, or he'd call again and give the flight crew the what-for.

Too late, all your intercept time is gone. Actually, it was gone before the plane even entered the airport's local zone; even if your missiles fired the second they saw a flight deviation, bypassing the air traffic controllers and military authorization, they're still going to be too late.

A big airliner can weigh over half a million pounds when landing. It's going to come down like the hammer of God on some of the highest-density urban real estate on the planet; the only difference would be that it would come down in some random place(s) instead of a particular sports venue.

Small single-engine aircraft and light helicopters, by comparison, simply don't weigh enough to be a big problem. They also don't have enough cargo capacity to hold a bomb big enough to be a major problem.

Your only credible threat would be larger twin-engine business jets and light transport aircraft, which could be bought or rented easily enough. Unlike big airliners, business planes can come in from anywhere, at any time. And since many of them are owned or operated by the ruling elite, it's difficult to simply order them out of the sky for months at a time.


You also have the other problem - even if you somehow managed to determine the plane needed to be shot down, and the pieces miraculously didn't fall on valuable real estate or citizens, you're still talking about up to 800-odd mostly-foreign civilian noncombatants being killed by the British military. The political blamestorm would be spectacular.

206:

Army surplus is cheap enough that anyone who could get an SA-7 or some other militant-ready MANPADS from somewhere could very easily look the part of a rooftop-dwelling squaddie. I doubt most police officers could tell an old Russian rocket launcher from the Starstreak, so nobody would question them. Et voila, one airliner brought down on approach to Heathrow over the games venue.

[/Tom Clancy]

207:

The missile plan, based on the reports that came out Monday, doesn't look silly. It seems a practical way of laying out the launch sites to cover the East of London and the Olympic Park.

But the only way you could secure the area against the large-aircraft risk would be to shut down Heathrow and London City. Bring in a plane to London Heathrow and it comes in roughly along the line of the Thames, over central London.

I don't know when the location was fixed, but it is over a decade since 9/11. There must have been work done before 2003, but that year seems to be when the government became involved.

208:

For one thing, since his publishers aren't official Olympic sponsors, it would be illegal for OGH to use the word "2012" to promote his books.

Right there in a blog post title, too.

209:

"But the only way you could secure the area against the large-aircraft risk would be to shut down Heathrow and London City. Bring in a plane to London Heathrow and it comes in roughly along the line of the Thames, over central London."

What large aircraft risk is this?

Given the spectacular failures of various agencies to stop people taking small quantities of cosmetics onto aeroplanes, we can probably safely assume that an hijack is exactly as likely as ever it was. Should it happen, shooting the thing down when it's over the city like that would not exactly improve the death toll, save perhaps by shifting it from athletes and foreign tourists to the poorer Londoners and protecting the shiny new stadia ... ahh, yes, I see. Protecting those investments is a very important thing, after all. Nevertheless, this represents an attempt to protect them after the point of no return and multiple other points of failure along the way, from a threat with a probability of somewhere between zero and bugger-all.

210:

"After all, the chancellor wasn't aware of how tax avoidance and tax dodging worked."

You forgot the ";)" I think...

I was reading about the siting of the Rapier missiles couple of months ago. IIRC if ever used, it would be to take down an incoming airborn threat heading towards London or a major flight path. i.e. not one already in the capital's air space. Not that the surrounding areas are particularly sparcely populated...

But on the wider picture. The simultanious cutting of posts in the UK border staff and Police, attacks on terms and conditions, whilst wanting to ramp up security measures are indicative of this governments venal incompitent arrogance.

211:

Ah, no. That's not a threat list; that's a list of possible plots for a James Bond movie.

While I don't discount the possibility of the Olympics being a terrorism magnet -- 1972 proved that -- it helps to note that the vast majority of terrorists are stupid. (As in, too stupid to use regular political channels to campaign for whatever it is they want.)

If you want to secure against an aviation threat, then airport security and at most CAP is the way to go, and possibly a crack-down on allowing biz-jet passengers to evade civil aviation security for the duration (a large Gulfstream or a BBJ could do similar damage to a smaller airliner if turned into an improv cruise missile).

But really, my take is that threats boil down to (a) lone wolf types (worst case: Anders Breivik 2.0, Timothy McVeigh 2.0) or (b) small organized cells (worst case: Mumbai 2.0 or a group using IRA bombing tactics).

Lone wolves: you deal with them by police intelligence focussing on extremist watering holes, and by profiling, and by being ready to send armed response units to any trouble spots. Oh, and you keep an eye on folks buying lots of diesel oil and ammonium perchlorate (and similar materials). Already done. Small organized cells: ditto, on a larger scale. I will note that the Mumbai attackers were arguably backed -- funded and trained and organized -- by rogue elements connected to a national-level intelligence agency; that's the sort of level of infrastructure support that is normally needed before a group can mount a credible attack, and again, there are usually intelligence indicators (it's not as if nobody in India knew that the ISI hated them and elements within it were willing to back attacks on Indian territory, for example).

I discount the probability of a national-level agency (say, the ISI -- or their equivalents in North Korea or Whereverstan) attacking the Olympics; the probability of detection and retalliation is high and there's no domestic political gain. (Anyway, aren't Iran and NK in the games? Are any nations not in the games?)

Seriously, though, 90% of the olympic security issue (above the level of crowd marshals and dealing with pickpockets) is a question of having joined-up intelligence about folks who've made threats. And I just don't see it: they're not a relevant target for anyone.

Which leaves us looking at the silver screen of the absurd, populated by the shadow-puppets of our own nightmares.

212:

After all, who wants to go out in a blaze of martyrdom having failed? More people recognise the name of Timothy McVeigh than of the murderous morons who couldn't even drive a Jeep full of explosives into an airport without getting taken down by middle-aged and unarmed Glaswegian bystanders.

Tim McVeigh - Is he one of the characters in NCIS?

As for the other pair, that is partly a comment on the sort of reaction you are going to get if you try and stop your average Glaswegian going on holiday!

213:

Actually that list IS probably the starting point behind a threat list. Whilst biz jets might be a bit bigger than your average Cessna, they would probably end up in the same class - since they rarely get into the 100+ passenger arena where commercial airliners lie. The difference is between 50-100 deaths and 1000-3000.

And while intelligence is important, it is very unlikely that you would use one mechanism alone for such an eventuality, having missiles to hand would be expected. They are essentially on different threads of the strategy - see http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/counter-terrorism/uk-counter-terrorism-strat/ for how the UK views the high level approach.

Oh, and it's wrong to assume that credible attacks require high levels of support, funding, etc. - the evidence shows quite a few small groups, self-funding, attempting to carry out attacks. The key issue tends to be brains - they don't think straight, even if academically capable. They aren't insane, rather, they are fanatics and that clouds their judgement. A small group with a member that has a clear head could do quite a bit of damage.

Iran, NK? Possibly, most likely that a synchronised set of events (inc military action elsewhere in the world) if it's a national-level player.

The Olympics is an obvious target, and given the numbers it's pretty likely that at least one credible attack will be attempted during the timeline. It's just statistics.

214:

release a bunch of big helium balloons, upwind of the stadium

215:

Don't forget that the Pentagon also has anti-aircraft missile defenses in place, and it's under the flight path for National Airport and practically across the street. If you have a competent crew and sensible rules of engagement I suspect the risk from spoofing is minimal. I make no claims as to whether those ifs apply in London.

216:

If you really want to fuck with the security-heads, and their control-freakery ....

How about a series of suitably large kites, which are made ofwood & fabric - v low radar signarure, natch - each of which has, hanging below it, a silvered corner-cube reflector.
Then "launch" (stand on suitable upwind hill) these towards the "O" site in significant numbers (10 -> 100)

Helium-balloons ditto.

And sit back and watch the fun.

217:

You'll note that the high end of Bizjets includes things like the BBJ or Boeing Business Jet -- a tricked-out 737 configured as a very swanky bizjet that seats up to 30. There's an Airbus equivalent too, based on the A318 or A319 (I forget). These are really airliners in drag, with an MTOW on the order of 80 tons.

If I was Osama Bin Laden 2.0, and had a cut-down version of the Hamburg Cell and a quarter million euros at my disposal, I'd consider two aviation strategies:

1. Hijack the Pinstripe Express from LCY. It's an all-business-class A318 -- one of those bizjet airliners -- that takes off from London City Airport in Docklands twice a day, hops over to Shannon for a refueling stop and passport check (on Irish soil) then proceeds to JFK. It's basically what City types use now Concorde is unavailable -- the fastest service from the Square Mile to Wall Street. LCY is a small airport and doesn't attract the security attention of LHR or LGW; it's also very close to the games, so you'd need to hijack it right after take-off, declare an emergency (bird strike?) to account for the deviation, then hit the throttles. Drawbacks: it takes off with nearly empty fuel tanks (LCY is a very short runway: a fully-fuelled A318 can't take off there), and it still involves breaking airport security.

2. Charter a BBJ or equivalent A318 with full tanks from somewhere else in the EU, file a flight plan for the general aviation row at LCY (which handles bizjets), then deviate while supposedly on final approach.

Either strategy, however, is pants.

A BBJ or A318 carries at most a third the fuel load of the 767s used on 9/11; they're a lot smaller, and you're aiming at an Olympic stadium, which is spread-out. At most, the effect would be more like the Pentagon lawn dart than the attack on the Twin Towers. And this is exactly what the RAF CAP is supposed to stop, anyway ...

No, this sort of thing is rubbish.

If I was Dr Evil and wanted to attack the games, I'd find a handful of Useful Idiots™ and issue them with Dasani™ bottles (water from Coca Cola, the official sponsors of the games!) full of liquid dimethyl mercury. Sure it'll leak through the plastic, killing them, but it's not instant. Have them wander around the aisles, dribbling the stuff on the steps. Hmm. On second thoughts: glass bottles would be necessary (it leaches through plastics and could possibly rot through aluminium cans/drinks bottles by forming a mercury amalgam). So, food dye and Coke bottles. For added lulz get a suicide bomber to fizz the stuff up with a SodaStream machine (like the one in my kitchen) so it looks carbonated ... WITH DEATH!

It's the deadliest nerve agent known (LD50 is believed to be roughly 30 micrograms, on a par with botulinum toxin; it's deadlier than ricin), it's liquid at room temperature but has a high vapour pressure, it's horribly persistent -- the stadium would be a biohazard site thereafter.

Procuring the (CH3)2Hg is the hard bit, but it's not hard to synthesize if you don't mind dying for the cause shortly afterwards. In fact, it's piss-easy to synthesize compared to most neurotoxins as long as you don't mind dying afterwards: synthesizing it safely is the hard part. And you're a mass-murdering terrorist so you don't care about colateral damages; just do it bucket-style in a rented lock-up in a neighbourhood you don't care about and use it as soon as it's made.

Note that nobody has done this. Even the Aum cult, who were batshit crazy enough to make sarin and attack the Tokyo subway, didn't go this route. (Probably because dimethyl mercury doesn't have the charisma of a Nazi War Gas. Or kill quite as fast -- sarin kills in minutes, dimethyl mercury in high doses takes agonizing weeks.)

I'm pretty certain nobody's going to run a suicide attack on the Olympics using dimethyl mercury. And anyway, preventing it is easy: ban all bottled liquids -- not just over 100ml, ban all liquid containers of any size. (Ahem. In London. In the summer heat and humidity ...)

218:
release a bunch of big helium balloons, upwind of the stadium

The traditional "bunch" for this purpose would of course be 99.

Neunundneunzig Luftballoons...

219:

My point is that it is relatively simple for a half-bright terrorist who doesn't mind dying to cause a monstrous death toll.

But we don't see this happening routinely. In fact, it's very rare indeed.

The logical deduction is therefore that very few[*] people actually want to do this sort of thing.

The Olympics in particular are unlikely to attract state-sponsored terrorism (due to being an state-level prestige event open to all nations), so we're worrying about non-state actors and lone wolves. Who are generally too inept to mount a credible threat.


[*] It's a non-zero number, but worrying about it is like me worrying about being struck by lightning while in my office on a sunlit day.

220:

What's particularly odd about the Olympics is that it features sports nobody cares about (or don't care about except at the Olympics) or the least popular manifestations of otherwise fanatically followed sports. Nobody remembers or cares who wins the soccer Gold Medal. Champions League, EuroCup, Africa Cup of Nations...fully throttle warcries; Olympics...crickets.

It used to have an appeal as a celebration of the Spirit of the Competitive Ideal, but that died by 1992 at the latest. It would be nice to have a saner version of the Games instituted, but in a world where the draft of NFL players coming out of college has become a prime time media event, I cannot see that happening.

221:

Here's the only olympics I'd have any time for:

http://www.olimpickgames.co.uk/contentok.php?id=853

No multinational sponsers, no TV companies, no billions pissed away. Hell, even our local paper doesn't cover it, because it's going on five miles out of the paper's circulation area. Looks like more fun than the bread and circuses and guns in London.

222:

Yes, The Aum people have been on my mind. If you want terror and disruption, you don't even need anything lethal, stuff made from readily available materials can be bad enough.
For example:
Imagine a little of this stuff released in an Underground jammed with people. Lethal stampedes, heart attacks and a lasting legacy of psychosomatic illness? I hope someone's guarding the intakes for the ventilation system.

Mind you, anyone trying to cook up a batch will have difficulty doing it without attracting unwelcome attention!


223:

Yeowch!

"Recently we found ourselves with an odour problem beyond our worst expectations. During early experiments, a stopper jumped from a bottle of residues, and, although replaced at once, resulted in an immediate complaint of nausea and sickness from colleagues working in a building two hundred yards away. Two of our chemists who had done no more than investigate the cracking of minute amounts of trithioacetone found themselves the object of hostile stares in a restaurant and suffered the humiliation of having a waitress spray the area around them with a deodorant. The odours defied the expected effects of dilution since workers in the laboratory did not find the odours intolerable ... and genuinely denied responsibility since they were working in closed systems. To convince them otherwise, they were dispersed with other observers around the laboratory, at distances up to a quarter of a mile, and one drop of either acetone gem-dithiol or the mother liquors from crude trithioacetone crystallisations were placed on a watch glass in a fume cupboard. The odour was detected downwind in seconds."
That's a corker!

224:

Since we're talking chemical warfare...

Fur defence of Great Britain (a picture).

225:

I'd agree that even Wendyball fans don't care about Olympic Wendyball.

OTOH the biggest complaint (other than lack of coverage generally) that us cycle racing fans have is that there isn't enough of it at the Olympics.

226:

@217:
A BBJ or A318 carries at most a third the fuel load of the 767s used on 9/11; they're a lot smaller, and you're aiming at an Olympic stadium, which is spread-out.

---

You don't actually have to kill anyone. All you have to do is establish a credible threat to shut the Games down. With a little more work, you could create a panic and then tally up the number of people who got crushed to death in the melee.

Heck, just tweet someone - anyone - asking if they know anything about the nerve gas attack at the stadium a few minutes ago, and see how fast the "speed of rumour" really is.

227:

Actually, if you want your "plane of death", you want a 747 on a high level transiting flight across London, at altitude. Grab control and put it on a powered ballistic trajectory for the stadium of your choice.

Virtually impossible to stop and a good few thousand death toll, minimum. PE>KE is king.

Chemical/biological weapons don't have a great rep for actually getting the disposal effect that meets the nightmare scenario.

And as I say, the reason we don't tend to see this commonly is because they take a fanatical approach, rather than a considered one. A bit of thought and you'd use finance to achieve your ends. Legal, easier, and you can make heaps of cash in the process - particularly when the euro is so precarious.

Soros was a MUCH better terrorist than the IRA's wettest dream.

And as for state actors, well there was a coup timed to the anthem being played at a sporting event (I forget which), and the coverage of wall-to-wall sports is good for diverting attention. You can conceive of Iran using that, if they are nuts, or desperate, enough. You can also conceive of Israel using it as cover.

228:

@206

Army surplus is cheap enough that anyone who could get an SA-7 or some other militant-ready MANPADS from somewhere could very easily look the part of a rooftop-dwelling squaddie. I doubt most police officers could tell an old Russian rocket launcher from the Starstreak, so nobody would question them.

Like you said, fantasy. Actors and TV crews given access to proper uniforms can't even manage to look like soldiers in the medium distance, so it isn't "easy" (even less so, given professionally-suspicious types like the police). They definitely wouldn't fool other soldiers. File under "too low a chance of success".

And the UK has been very very twitchy about MANPADS for the past three decades, because of the efforts of the IRA to get their hands on some in order to shoot down Army helicopters in NI (likewise, their failed attempt to mortar Heathrow).

Remember that a man-portable air-defence system has by its nature a very limited amount of fuel to do its job, otherwise you couldn't lift it up; it's designed to take on a low-altitude head-on or tail-on target at short range (i.e. "target about to shoot at you" or "target just has shot at you"), and hasn't got the energy to take on a crossing target (i.e. "target trying to shoot at someone else").

If you can get one, you certainly wouldn't be trying to get them near the Olympics (I'm not sure you'd be able to hit the passing aircraft), you'd be sitting in the MANPADS footprint for an airport. Hmmm, it's not like the organs of the state ever thought about that... (there's a reason that the RAF Regiment are unkindly nicknamed the "Short-Range Desert Group")

A man called Viktor Suvorov defected from the USSR during the cold war, and promptly wrote all sorts of stories about the Soviet "units of special designation" (aka "Spetsnaz"). One of which was a anti-aircraft mine, basically an SA-7 with a timer. The problem is that the IR seeker in the missile is cooled using compressed gas; between that and the battery, the standard missile has just enough to keep the IR sensor cool for about 30 seconds before it runs out and you're left holding a fairly useless firework. Less if it's been sitting on a shelf. Less still if it's well past its expiry date and been sitting in a damp shipping container. Or someone's tried to refill, but couldn't keep the moisture out of the compressed gas. Or didn't have the diagnostic test set, or maintenance kit, or...

229:

Fantastic thread derail. From discussion how irrational the security of Olympic games is, to making elaborate plans of blowing it up.

I wonder how many terrorists and\or secret agents are reading this thread...

230:

Entirely OT, but a story which may interest the Charlie Stross Barmy Army:

In New Zealand, real-life Bond villain Kim Dotcom, currently under investigation for various internet piracy things, has now revealed his dealings with one of the current NZ government's ministers:

http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/so-let-the-sun-shine-in-face-it-with-a-grin

"who knew that letting a fat German ex-hacker with a questionable internet business model into the country would lead to such interesting times?"

231:

You do know that many of the vents are situated in the street? And are easily accessible to anyone who can throw something up on top? It doesn't even need to get through the grill which stops pigeons and bombs getting in either.

Personally I have lots of ideas about how to do terrorism and this thread has given me more. I do however try to avoid discussing them online. Maybe I need to track Charlie down in a pub in Edinburgh...

232:

No idea, but I'd like to hope that there's someone from 5 reading it in case we think of something that they haven't already.

233:

Well, 5 may well have some experience of its own in the terror bombing game to draw on, at least according to some interpretations of this particular episode:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin_and_Monaghan_bombings

234:

Charlie @159

I am far, far from a Christian conservative with a phobia of differently-hued persons. If anything I would describe myself as batting for the other side on that one.

Of successful terrorist attacks in London in my life time I’m aware of attacks carried out by Islamic groups and by Irish Republican groups.

I’m not aware that anyone of a far-right persuasion had exploded a bomb in London since 1945.

I’ve certainly never been ordered out of a pub by a panicked looking police office on account of a BNP terrorist scare.

So, I was thinking of the familiar when I posted. Nothing more or less than that.

235:

How quickly they forget:

"Jump to: navigation, search
David John Copeland
Born 15 May 1976 (age 35)
Isleworth, London
Nationality British
Occupation Engineer's assistant
Known for Known as the "London nailbomber," and convicted of murder after planting bombs in public spaces in April 1999, killing three and injuring 139.

David John Copeland (born 15 May 1976) is an English Neo-Nazi militant who became known as the "London Nail Bomber" after a 13-day bombing campaign in April 1999 aimed at London's black, Bangladeshi and gay communities.[1] Widely labelled a terrorist, Copeland was a former member of two far right political groups, the British National Party and then the National Socialist Movement."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Copeland

236:

That does, sadly, ring a bell.

237:

Tom Clancy's 1994 novel Debt of Honor does actually feature someone trying to shoot down a 747 with a Stinger, and (spoiler!) failing. Clancy tends to do his homework on that sort of thing.

238:

I’m not aware that anyone of a far-right persuasion had exploded a bomb in London since 1945.

So you missed this one and this one (perps caught before they blew anyone up) and this one (BNP member: again, nicked and jailed before he killed anyone)?

They're not very successful as a rule, but they're out there.

239:

According to Private Eye no. 1311:
"Under the so-called "ambush marketing" rules of the 2006 Olympic Games act, even terms such as "summer 2012" are out, along with certian colours.
...
Meanwhile, it's dawning on Locog that it's going to have to try to police the internet as well. It's banned volunteers working at the games from making Facebook posts and has persuaded location based social networking site FourSquare to prevent non-sponsors from creating shck-ins near the games.Twitter has confirmed to the Eye that it plans to police its site, banning, for example, adverts using Games-related tags."

As is common these days, the London Olym[ic and Paralympic Games act 2006 seems more of an enabling framework, rather than a list of things that aren't allowed. Which makes it all seem very nice and useful.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/12/pdfs/ukpga_20060012_en.pdf

Perhaps someone has more information on what the dull legislatese means in real life?

240:

Is anyone else here interested in opening this blog up to more wide-ranging philosophical discussions, as opposed to the usual fare of business, technology and politics? There are a lot of smart people here, and though I probably disagree with them about many things, allowing open discussion is the first step to preempting militancy. I really doubt Breivik, for example, would have gone crazy had he not felt totally shut out by the monolithic/fascistic leftism he encountered in Norwegian society.

What is interesting about an ideological echo chamber? Don't you like to have your assumptions challenged occasionally? If Charlie will lighten up on the moderation a bit, perhaps we can all take a small step toward defusing the ideological cold war that seems to be escalating everywhere these days. Just an idea...

241:

You are Sean the Mystic and I claim my $0.02.

More to the point,you do not get to vote on the subject of discussions on this blog.

That's because it belongs to me and I set the agenda.

Don't like it?

Go get yourself a blog of your own -- I'm not stopping you!

(We will now return you to your usual ban. Have a nice [censored] day!)

242:

I'd say Clancy is inclined to to read the manufacturer's brochure, which is a bit different.

Big expensive USAF fighter: I wouldn't trust the advertising.

243:

Well, I re-read part of Debt of honour a year or two ago. The bloke with a stinger fires it, it takes out one jet engine, but the plane is already on a collision course with Congress so it has no effect.

I thought stingers normally went for hot things anyway, although maybe there aren't so many visible from the front of an airliner.

244:

[[ Content now censored ]]

245:

Charlie @ 219

So we're back to the largest likely threat being that we spend too much on security on people die of not having that money spent on the NHS or traffic calming or whatever.

246:

"Are any nations not in the games?"

Abkhazia
Gibraltar
Kosovo
Kurdistan
Northern Cyprus
South Sudan

It depends on how you define "nations"

Take a look at the section "Unrecognized National Olympic Committees" in the Wikipedia article

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Olympic_Committee

And then you could consider other nations which are not interested in sports.

247:

Be fair; he is completely right about the number of smart people here.

248:

Charlie @ 219
Ahem
The Olympics in particular are unlikely to attract state-sponsored terrorism (due to being an state-level prestige event open to all nations), so we're worrying about non-state actors and lone wolves. Who are generally too inept to mount a credible threat.

Black September, München?
Except, of course, they were not (ahem, cough, directly "State-sponsored.
Difficult, isn't it?

I would suggest that the correct security route to follow is ...
NO security checks at all.
BUT
Make it a condition of a team/state's entry for participation to sign a binding treaty allowin extreme reprisals against anyone &/or any state hosting anyone(like Black September) stupid and arrogant enough to do it ....

TRX @ 226
Credible threats and panics, huh?
Try signalling equipment boxes and cabling for the railways.
Stratford is a VERY busy station, busier than Liverpool Street terminus - everthing that comes into Livp St (Main-&-East) comes through + Central line UndergrounD, + North London loop line + Jubilee line terminus + DLR*2.
Screw with the signalling information feeds, and you are going to have a MASSIVE traffic-&-people jam.

Martin @ 228
professionally-suspicious types like the police
Depends what you mean by that!
Totally off-topic, but have you seen THIS insanity ??
Boggle, boggle, boggles away!

Anatoly @ 229
Precisely
We WANT is stated, becaus WE are not going to be there.
In my case, I'll be sitting 4km up the road, going: "I TOLD YOU SO!"

guthrie @ 239
Yes an ennabling act, now where have we heard that before? (Godwin-alert warning)
And, like I suggested earlier, they might, erm, forget to let it lapse?

erm - Alian @ 246
well
Gibralter is a Crown Colony, so it can't be a nation, most of the others are disputed territories, and South Sudan is too new ....

249:

(bing)(bong)
Troll hunter. Paging troll hunter. Please bring the ban-hammer to post @244.
(krsk)

250:

This guy cracks me up!

Charlie, can we keep him around just for entertainment value? Pleeease!

251:

Alas, the trouble with tolerating trolls is that they eventually drive out the timid or the uncertain-of-themselves, simply by generating an omnipresent climate of FUD around their hobby-horses.

252:

"The total focus on externalities (technology, politics, business) and ignorance of the esoteric and religious dimension to life is something I find truly mysterious and disturbing about modern Western civilization."

You'll find the fantasy section over there....

Why should I want to concern myself with other people's psychotic episodes when objective reality is as fascinating, beautiful, and satisfying as it is?

253:

Sadly, I do agree. Sometimes it's just hard to resist the odd bit of troll-baiting.

254:

@228 - not only that, but the press is now reporting that the Starstreak and Rapier missiles may not actually function in "bad weather"...see the attached link from the Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/9236915/Olympic-defence-missiles-dont-work-in-bad-weather.html

story includes a nice map which details the proposed locations, because it makes sense that everyone know where the proposed defense systems are so they can plot a by-pass route.

255:

From H.G. Wells, The Star-begotten

'A queer little chap,' said the headmaster. 'A queer little chap. Behaves pretty well, but he's somehow disappointing. Doesn't throw himself into things. A streak of something very nearly amounting to—well, scepticism. Yet his people are quite decent people and the Dean of Clumps is his uncle. He asks questions no other boy would think of. The other day he asked, what is spiritual?

'Well,' said Mr. Davis after a thoughtful pause, 'what is spiritual?'

'But need I tell you of all people?'

'What did you tell him? I'm finding a sort of difficulty in putting this in a chapter I am writing about the saintly life.'

The headmaster of Gorpel did not answer the question immediately. Instead he went on to say in a slightly offended voice: 'I find all my normal boys understand the word without discussion, take it for granted. Spiritual-Material, a natural opposition. One ascends, the other gravitates. There it is, plain as a pikestaff. No need to discuss it'
:
:
'He refuses to see. Why, he said, should we make a sort of extract of reality and call it spirituality and pretend the two things are primary opposites?'

More of us about than people might think. And we're not even the products of cosmic ray mutations brought on by Martian tampering..

256:

Gibraltar...

I can see the headline now: "Mutant Barbary Apes Olympic Horror."

And of course if a third party contracted them, well, they work for peanuts...

I'll be quiet now.

257:

"Normally, the tower would radio the aircraft and alert the pilot he was out of position." That oversimplies what I know from my experience as consultant to the Federal Aviation Administration, and to the USAF. The key term to google is IFFN, Identification, Friend, Foe, or Neutral. Then you can read about IFFN jamming, and IFFN spoofing. And GPS jamming, and GPS spoofing. As they say on Facebook: "It's complicated."

258:

Glad you're doing the troll-removal. I actually got to read his comment. Not only did it have nothing to do with the 2012 Olympics, it had nothing to do with the security theatre around them. He did want to talk about his delusion-system, though.

I live about 2 hours away from Toronto, Ontario. Toronto has periodically made bids for the Olympic games (1996, 2008) and is apparently considering bidding for the 2024 games. I hope that they fail-- what a colossal waste of resources it would be.

259:

Have to say I did try to get some tickets as I'm living out in the 'burbs, but nothing came out of it . I'm not a massive fan of the idea of the Olympics being hosted here right from the start ( why? spend a ton of money , have loads of hassle and basically get nothing out of it).

One thing that is interesting is the mayoral election coming this week - as I don't really pay much attention to the media apart from headlines in BBC news and the occasional laugh at the daily mail at work I've not really seen how its going but gut feeling is that Ken will be doing the honours at the opening ceremony rather than Boris - although I'd be more than happy to see both of these attention seekers get the boot to someone else (not likely, sadly).

As for the security hoohar, after hearing the nonsense that went on during the 2010 WC in SA with the girls turning up all in orange to promote Bavarian beer (?? Oranjeboom surely ?) it was inevitable that this idiocy would prevail - its the big organisations and governments who are so out of touch with how people communicate and share and promote things that these crackdowns happen.

The best thing to do would be to publicly ridicule this by calling it the Big Multi-Sport Event 2011 + 1 (tm), continually and obliquely referring to to The World Syndicate in VAT paid heated meat products(tm) .
Its something that this nation's population is brilliant at - mocking those in charge .

If only they would bloody listen - unfortunately they are too bloody used to it.

260:

The point is that they don't listen and don't need to listen. I thought I'd read "The triumph of the political class" by Orborne again. Was it only 4 years ago I got it? Wow.
Meanwhile, the political class has further triumphed in the election of a fully modern political class PM who worked in the media/ image manipulation sector before moving into the HoC, exactly the career path of a modern politician, and critically, totally lacking in any outside referents to things such as "what normal people do/ want/ think" and so on.

261:

So: siting anti-aircraft missiles within a major metropolitan area, where they might have a stab at defend the Olympic park reasonably effectively, but only at the cost of flattening some other part of London, with associated media coverage scarcely any better than a direct hit on the Stadium.

Is this all just some ham-fisted response to political pressure to "do something?" Even if the concept is likely to result in derision and sections of the army being bought into disrepute?

Or else, perhaps this really is all literal theater; some tricksy conjuring act. Cunning misdirection. The magician waving one hand to distract attention from what the other is doing.

Are there, somewhere in the chain of command, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic playing a high-stakes game of bluff and counter-bluff, making us all their unwitting stooges? What are they trying to achieve? What is so important to stop us noticing by acting so clown-like with their high-tech weaponry -- and why now, months before the games begin?

Naah. Crazy talk. Our government might be many things, but Machiavellian is not one of them. For one thing, if they really were that clever, they wouldn't keep playing so hapless all the time.

262:

Wait. . . . Wait. . . . Europe not a single country? Seriously? Well, as an American you have to cut me some slack, after all.

Okay, point taken, and pardon me for writing generically. I have no excuse. For example, last night I asked a recent high school graduate if she knew the location of Australia (an Australian friend said hardly any Americans knew). She didn't know. Didn't even know it resides south of the equator.

Anyway, I think your point about France helps bolster the case. Pro-assimilation policies do the trick. You just don't see the results for a long long time.


--Steve

263:

Ah, but the important thing is: Missile Turrets look AWESOME! (vis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXNWgeQmiOE ) You can really look like you're serious when you mount one of those!

Anyone who complains about them is obviously With The Terrorists, and if they flatten a primary school or a nunnery when they go off, well, Look What Those Nasty Terrorists Made Us Do! All popular themes.

By the way, while you were reading this, the rich got richer, and the poor got poorer, and oh! Look over there! A cute puppy posing in front of some lesbians getting married!

264:

Starstreak may not be at its best in foul weather, but consider this: if the weather is so bad that the launcher can't see the aircraft, then that does mean that the aircraft can't see the stadium. This "hijacked airliner" is going to have to emerge from the cloud base with enough time to locate the stadium, because it would be rather embarrassing if it got lost in cloud and hit an empty Twickenham instead, or had to circle a few times because it was short or long of its target.

I mean, it's not as if airliners have radars designed to track them onto a ground target...

265:

A university I worked at had an AA missile radar set on the roof. It fell off the back of a Navy frigate, honest guv'nor.

We used it as a heavy-duty antenna mount for AMSAT telecommand work with 144 and 432 MHz crossed yagis, nice fast slewrate in X, Y and Z to track the birds as they came over the horizon in LEO but it still had the dish and horn fitted so it looked the part.

266:

And as for state actors, well there was a coup timed to the anthem being played at a sporting event (I forget which), and the coverage of wall-to-wall sports is good for diverting attention

it was the Portuguese military coup of 1974...and the trigger was the broadcast of the Portuguese entry in the Eurovision Song Contast...those macho Iberians, eh!

also one the few left-wing military coups, AFAIK

the last terrorist use of a SAM/MANPADS did not go very well

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Mombasa_attacks#Plane_attack

no-one is sure if ECM/flares/chaff were involved in the airliner's escape...

MANPADS are not a very effective weapons systems - 95 Blowpipe rounds were fired in the 1982 Falklands War by UK forces - result? TWO confirmed kills

the FIM-92 Stinger is a bit more impressive-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIM-92_Stinger#Service

but Starstreak is unproven in combat, or any other situation requiring quick reactions and will be largely ineffective against large targets

the controversy over its alleged deployment is probably a distracting attention away from something even more controversial...

anti-IED countermeasures?

267:

The challenge is entirely bureaucratic, not in cranky sense of word, but organizations inherently have CYA.

You can't blame individuals, it is herd behaviour.

Even entrepreneurial organizations like Google and Facebook who are aware of this have to make heroic non standard efforts to fight this.

How can any public agency(s) even hope not come up with blanket CYA responses?

268:

I think the Army knows very well what could go wrong, and they have come up with a deployment plan, being tested this week, which plugs some gaps. Light aircraft, things like that.

And, partly, it's part of the anti-terror mind game.

One of the biggest arguments about there not being an Al-Qaeda mastermind is that they don't seem to play mind games. They don't "leak" plans, and then snigger around the coffee pot while they watch the camel-racing on TV.

About the only terrorist organisation, in recent British history, that had the command and control structure to do that was the pIRA. And they played their mind games with real bombs and bullets. With all the business of codewords and warnings, they created an image of men who had some scruples.

But I can think of several plausible methods of attacking the Olympic park which might be better as a leak than as a real attempt, because they need too much infrastructure. They could end up as suicide-bomber plans, but that isn't a huge barrier. It's getting the quantity of explosive needed, and assembling the delivery system, which would be the hard part.


269:

Re comment on #226 - I'd agree. For absolute maximum chaos combine it with simultaneous attacks on Clapham and Watford Junctions.

270:

Para 3 - If I was designing outfits for promoting Bavarian beer I'd be thinking riffs on lederhausen and dirndls, with pale blue and white checks, and lion motifs.

271:

Err, everybody knows this is not Dungeons and Dragons. Right?

272:

[checks abilities and skills] - It's more like a mixture of Traveller and Amber RPG. ;-)

273:

"Normally, the tower would radio the aircraft and alert the pilot he was out of position." That oversimplies what I know from my experience as consultant to the Federal Aviation Administration, and to the USAF. The key term to google is IFFN, Identification, Friend, Foe, or Neutral.

Google seems to think IFFN is International Forest Fire News, probably because in the civil aviation sector we call it SSR, secondary surveillance radar. Other search terms are "transponder" and "squawk". But it's just a box that transmits a pilot-selected code and some other stuff back to the radar. Nothing that makes any difference to the original scenario.

Then you can read about IFFN jamming, and IFFN spoofing. And GPS jamming, and GPS spoofing.

You forgot to mention ADS-B spoofing.

As they say on Facebook: "It's complicated."

I thought the original description was quite accurate if you substitute "hold" for "orbit" (terms of art, they don't quite mean the same thing), except that it probably wouldn't be the tower (which generally only handles the final phase of the approach and landing) calling the aircraft, but more likely the Radar, Director or Approach (depends on the airport) controller.

274:

I wonder. You don't suppose anyone might have worked out some system, I dunno, maybe using triangulation on lots of satellites, that could pin down your position to a few yards? And the position of a stadium too?

Nah.

275:

C'mon! That's getting a bit far fetched a SF-nal, isn't it?

276:

Maybe.

And meanwhile, I draw the assembled group's attention to this: RAF Typhoon jets arrive in London to test Olympic security (BBC News)

277:

There look to be some people indulging in axe-grinding in that report.

278:

IME the terms IFF and SSR are used a bit interchangably.

279:

@268

With all the business of codewords and warnings, they created an image of men who had some scruples.

Hardly - consider the Omagh bombing in the 90s. Enniskillen. At the beginning, the Guildford and Birmingham pub bombings. These were not "scrupled".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrington_bomb_attacks

Warrington involved putting two bombs in cast-iron bins outside a Boots (pharmacy chain store) and a McDonalds, timed to go off during peak shopping hours on a Saturday. Without a credible warning (i.e. they said the bomb was in Liverpool, fifteen miles away, and gave half-an-hour's notice). A 3-year-old and a 12-year-old died. No military or economic value to the targets, just a terror attack.

@266

...something even more controversial... anti-IED countermeasures?

Hardly "controversial". The UK police have been practising anti-IED countermeasures for the past four decades. If it's a likely target, expect to see the bespoke closures on litter bins and post boxes, search tape on enclosures, welding spots on manhole covers. One of the (suspiciously convenient) excuses for the cost overruns on the Scottish Parliament building were down to "we had to comply with Home Office guidance for design against IED attack", specifically distances from car bombs. I find it hard to believe that as a public building, the Olympic Stadium wasn't built with all of this in mind...

Where do you think much of the standard counter-IED technology came from? Jammers, etc? It's been used in the UK for years without being in any way controversial.

280:

And we might call it "Global Positioning System" and/or "Satellite Navigation", or maybe something less intuitive such as "Galileo"? ;-)

281:

Oh yes. Perhaps justified.

I never expected to see fighter jets at Northolt though. Scrambling those would make life interesting for Heathrow's air traffic control, given the proximity of the runways. (Though it is now quite a long time since the last place accidentally landed at Northolt instead of LHR.)

282:

"...new labour demonstrated that an actual police state is quite expensive to build and run."

So the UK is becoming "Brazil" instead of "1984"?

283:

Becoming?

284:

conan E moorcock @ 256
ARRRGH!
- please - go and write that sort of thing for a radio show?

UriGagarin @ 259
Well London elections ....
BoJo is a rich pilock - who I voted for lat time to keep Ken out.
Because Ken crawls to islamicist ectremists - not nice.
Local candidate - I have to vote tory or labour, as Lem-o-Crat is a religious entryist.
Sytem-wide I shall vote Lem-o-Crat, 'cause Caroline Pidgeon is really hot on transpoet ..

paws4thot @ 260
Not quite ...
Clapham jn (2 big signal panels) and East Croydon - Watford is totally unimportant in terms of traffic & interchanges.

Dave Bell @ 268
...they created an image of men who had some scruples. (re the IRA)
Well, maybe - but, in their favour, and I find this hard to say, their attitude since, especially to idiots like the rIRA cIRA etc is: "We HAD a war, we signed a Peace Treaty - it's OVER!"
But there are still nutters who won't listen.

davetheProc @ 282
Sadly, you are correct.

285:

I haven't managed to sit through 'Brazil', but presume the point is that in 1984 Bog Brother is omnipresent and omnipotent whereas in Brazil the state is neither but wants you to think it is, no matter what it takes.

286:

Yes, I typed that with tongue firmly in cheek, then realised that it was just the plain honest and uncomfortable truth (remove tongue before teeth-clenching occurs).

The pIRA were, particularly in the latter years of the Troubles, extremely savvy about how to balance their image and mythos versus the actuality of what they did. They continue to do so, which is a big part of why they stamp hard on the current crop of regressive nutters.

287:

I would post my UPP and skills, but they're not great - fine for a redshirt NPC but not a character you'd expect to survive a campaign. 7 terms Other, can't wait for my mustering out benefits.

288:

The great Twitter rumour mill is reporting that the resident who blew the whistle regarding the missile defence plans has today been served with an eviction notice. I can't find any corroborating reports anywhere, so consume with a large spoonful of salt.

289:

"They all speak English. Very few of them know more than a tiny smattering of their original languages."

I don't know where you live, but this is trivially observable to be Not True here in Boston. In a typical 30-minute trip on the subway, I'll overhear between 2-4 lengthy conversations in non-english languages. Not even all the same language; I can't identify them all, but I'd guess their were at least half a dozen different languages in common rotation, and others that occur more rarely.

290:

Err 'Brazil' is named after the song Brazil that the vic retreats into. Its a good movie but a real downer. in it Big Brother can't git it right. And that's how I think it would be. That's why the old USSR gave up.

291:

BRAZIL may be one of the greatest films ever made -- downer ending indeed, but it's an almost perfect movie.

292:

The original tweet came from the man himself, so it is probably true.

293:

As violating the US Constitution has been good enough for the USAian government, it is difficult to imagine any recent UK government seeing that as a problem.

294:

There's starting to be reporting in print media and their websites, but I would be wary of taking the reported details as true. It doesn't seem to be a direct let by the Bow Quarter site management. They apparently lease flats (long term), which some people sub-let on shorter-term deals.

And the reasons for the termination notice might not be anything to do with this affair. The timing does seem a bit tight.

295:

Indeed. Correlation doesn't always equate to causation. And it's possible that Whelan was already anticipating eviction, and decided to break whatever confidentiality he might otherwise have felt bound to as a result.

(Mind you, he's a journalist. As such I rather doubt he'd have felt bound anyway, and that's assuming he'd agreed. As a class, journalists rank somewhere below estate agents for ethics, redeemed only by a minority that act the way they all ought to.)

296:

Although the timing does seem a little too conincidental, I think the "already anticipating eviction" hypothesis seems little quite likely, particulary if he's a journalist.

My cynical mind paints this kind of picture: If he already knew that he was up for eviction, and then was told of the missile defence plan, how long would it take him to put two-and-two together and realise that he could whistle-blow on the missiles for scoop number one, then get the story to run-and-run by shortly thereafter announcing his eviction? I lost the original tweet, but from what I recall he only implicitly linked the eviction to the whistle-blowing.

297:

Today's Los Angeles Times ran a cartoon by Nate Beeler of a London rooftop missile streaking towards Mary Poppins.

298:

I think the taxpayers in Atlanta are still paying for the huge amount of infrastructure that was built with funds stolen from other purposes.

And that's the Olympics that became famous here mainly for the infrastructure being so poor that some sports teams had to hijack buses in order to get to the venues on time.

299:

"If one of those things is ever fired, either in anger or by accident, it'll shower white-hot supersonic shrapnel across the extremely crowded residential heart of a city."

I... don't really see the problem.

Presumably they would be fired at an aircraft being used for a 9/11-style attack? In which case, you've already got tons of aircraft being aimed at an extremely crowded part of a city, namely, the Olympics. And everywhere in the vicinity if the aircraft misses the target.

So you can have mass death at the Olympics, or lower possible death tolls elsewhere. Airplanes crash regularly, in crowded areas, with surprisingly low loss of life. And missiles can do surprisingly little damage, especially when not properly aimed at a target. Think of all the Palestinian rockets that fall harmlessly on Israel, or Saddam's SCUD missiles that didn't do much of anything.

The likelihood of accidental firing seems very low. If one was fired accidentally, it might not be armed to explode. If there's actual need for one to be fired, then the potential damage caused if the missile misses the target seems to be the least of London's worries.

Put it this way: when I worked at Harvard Medical School, there were helicopters flying low overhead on many days, on the way to or from a nearby hospital's helipad. Any one of those flights could have crashed right on the school quad, sending shrapnel and rotor blades spinning off through the windows of labs and classrooms surrounding the quad. Or it could land on top of the building, maybe smashing down through the glass roof of the students' cafeteria.

A crashing medevac helicopter is something that actually happens fairly often, so strikes me as a much bigger risk than a missile launcher. Yet helipads in densely populated areas are not uncommon.

If someone said "We're putting a helipad on an apartment building in East London", they'd probably complain about the noise, not the risk.

300:

"I’m not aware that anyone of a far-right persuasion had exploded a bomb in London since 1945."

Er, 7/7? They weren't liberals, that's for sure.

301:

As noted above, the likely missile to be used is tiny, like 40 pounds. Panes of glass heavier than that fall off hi-rises fairly regularly, with fatal effect.

This isn't exactly a NIKE missile battery or a PATRIOT missile system.

I'd be more worried about RAF jets crashing, especially if maintenance has suffered due to budget cuts.

Also, I'd be more concerned if the military were deploying something that could easily be adapted for police use against civilians. This kind of portable AA system isn't the kind of thing that will turn up being misused by riot police in five years.

302:

I see a new US sonic weapon is being deployed in London for the Olympics - blandly named the Long Range Acoustic Device [LRAD] - it can focus a 150 decibel beam of sound

apparently it will be used "mainly as a loudhailer" according to the MOD

nothing to worry about, I'm sure

aaaaaaaaaargh! my ears!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/feedarticle/10238379

303:

That is one of those things that could be useful, and could be abused. They're painting it as a sort of super loud-hailer for the patrols on the river, and I expect it could do that, but I'm not sure they have enough units deployed to make that plausible. You need at least two, upstream and downstream, plus spares. and if you want the weapon use you have to expect the "enemy" to give you more than one target.

In part, it's like a radar set. They can pump out enough power to be dangerous if you stand close to them, but that's not enough to be a death ray. This thing needs to be very loud to be heard at a distance—the use being claimed—so we get that close range sound level.

If we have a bunch of people as target who have a clubbing habit, that 150dB at 1m is going to be a minor irritation at 30m.

No, it isn't good news. But everyone is using the same Press Association report, and I suspect a lot of people have fallen for the claims in the manufacturer's sales brochure.

304:

" I suspect a lot of people have fallen for the claims in the manufacturer's sales brochure."

Yep ..this sounds like the alternative for lethal force on board merchant shipping that was designed to stop said Merchant ships from Tooling UP with machine Guns manned by Mercenaries .. er ..that is to say Security Companies ..er.." Contractors "..


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=harZGVeHCkw&feature=related


Its a matter of what can be made to be acceptable by the voters. Thus " Kettling " is just a wee bit contoversial if you vote the wrong/right way ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettling


SO ..wot happens if Bad Persons like, say, ..


http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5hPeP1_eyjgtWubbiw-j2QhWOWHjA?docId=B4004391336825981A0


Start to do Naughty Things at the various Olympic Sports venues ?

Its hardly likely that real terrorists are going to be deterred by Expensive Noise Makers ..which, in principle, aren't all that new at a low level Anti THE Others ... Who Aren't Like Us Nice Middle Class People ... type methodology that have been deployed at a subtle level ' move along Now ! ' for years now ...


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mosquito

but at rather lower cost than High Tech -" We are Doing Something Honest , would we lie to you? " -weaponry that will attract the media that might just have noticed that one of the Cost Reduction methods for 'Our 'UK National Deficit is to reduce the size of Police /Security /Border inspection personnel.... for People in the Form of Boots on the Ground cost Pensions and Pay, whilst Hardware of the High Tech Variety although expensive when purchased isn't on index linked pensions as all those security personnel are ... unless you privatize said personel of course?

Oh, well ...set Budgets for Olympics Security on STUN.

Specials

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on April 29, 2012 9:45 AM.

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