More Psywar

South America ? The administration is collecting evidence of al Qaeda operatives involved in cocaine trafficking in Paraguay and Colombia. Islamic fundamentalist cells are operating in a tri-border area of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Evidence has been found of al Qaeda members in this no man’s land, a senior administration official says.

This reraises the issue that I brought up last week–what would be the impact on domestic cocaine consumption (and concomitantly, Andean drug warlords’ revenues) if the rumor were to spread that nose candy supplies have been laced with anthrax?

Trading Freedom For Security

Today, however, we may be facing just such a threat, and one that is largely without historical parallel.

To respond, we as a nation will have to confront some hard choices. The enormity of the risk to civilian lives on American soil is unprecedented, yet despite this the Bush administration has thus far shown remarkable restraint. But as the president weighs what additional measures will be needed, both the administration and civil libertarians would do well to recall that our history demonstrates that war-time restrictions on civil liberties have neither been irrevocable nor have they curtailed our fundamental freedoms in times of peace. Indeed, our democracy can, and has, outlived temporary restrictions and continued to thrive.

And if, as we get thicker into this grim conflict, the administration deems it necessary to enact more restrictive steps, we need not fear. When our nation is again secure, so too will be our principles.

I hope that he’s right, but one of my concerns is the ill-defined nature of the enterprise on which we seem to have embarked. We do not have a formal declaration of war, nor do we know, ultimately, with whom we are fighting, and I fear that this poorly-defined beginning will make it more difficult to define an end, and that those who benefit from the usurpation of our liberties may find it convenient to continue the crisis. I welcome the sunset provisions in the legislation that has been passed, where they exist, but would like to see them broadened.

Of course, I think that we need a Constitutional amendment stipulating that all federal legislation have sunset provisions…

Oz To Fly Fastest (and Cheapest) Scramjet

According to The New Scientist, they’re going to do a scramjet test down under next week.

The scramjet results from the $1.25 million HyShot project, led by the University of Queensland and is due to launch on Thursday 25 October. It will lift off on Terrier-Orion rockets at Woomera, 500 kilometres north of Adelaide.

Lessee, now, how much was NASA’s Hyper-X program again? A couple hundred million? What is that, about two orders of magnitude more? And didn’t their test flight go into the drink?

We’ll see if the test is successful, but apparently, NASA can not only not do it faster, better, cheaper than the private sector, even foreign governments can beat them. Even if their test fails, they can fail much more cheaply than NASA can…

Homegrown Fanaticism

With all the distraction of the affairs in the Mideast, is it possible that we’re ignoring threats closer to home? Another side splitter from Iowahawk–Peace Elusive in Strife-Torn Midwest.

An excerpt:

With growing waves of violence moving ever westward, some worry that California itself is now vulnerable.
“There is a large Midwestern refugee community on the West Coast, especially around Long Beach,” said Whitby. “Many are sympathetic to Gunderson and Uff Da, and police have intercepted several Winnebagos filled with Lutheran radicals as far west as Elko, Nevada.”
“And remember, these men are fueled on a diet of bratwurst, dairy products and 3.2 beer,” Whitby added ominously. “We can’t rule out a biological attack.”

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!