The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'assassination'
A retired Australian police detective has claimed that anti-monarchists attempted to assassinate the Queen in 1970, by derailing her train in a cutting near Orange, New South Wales with a log.
They had been aware of the service's schedule and had managed to avoid a "sweeper" locomotive that passed through the area a short time before.
But the log failed to derail the train carrying the royal party and became stuck under its front wheels, bringing the train to a stop at a level crossing.Det. Supt. Cliff McHardy (retired) was involved in the investigation of the incident, but was hampered by a ruling keeping the incident secret. To this day, it's not clear who was behind the plot; in fact, their description as "anti-monarchists" seems more tautological than anything else. (It could have been anyone. One of various flavours of Communists, perhaps, or some fifth-generation Irish-Australian still angry about the potato famine, or some troubled individual just wanting to make the mind control rays stop, or perhaps none of the above.)
Charlie Brooker weighs in on the issue of product placement, with a modest proposal of his own:
Let's say you're trying to launch a new soft drink. Traditionally you'd have to spend millions on a commercial, and millions more booking airtime for it. Screw that. Here's what you do: put up one billboard. Just one. Somewhere on a route near Buckingham Palace or Downing Street. Point a camera at it 24/7. Then simply pay a sniper to assassinate someone of global importance when they pass in front of it. Bingo! The clip will run on an endless loop on every news channel in the world, for eternity. Even as viewers gasp in horror watching the victim's head explode like a watermelon, they'll simultaneously be thinking "What's that? New Plum-Flavoured Pepsi? Cool!" each time a chunk of skull flies past your logo.
Details of how the NSA hacked cryptography machines from Swiss company Crypto AG, inserting an undetectable security hole which allowed them to read the traffic of users (including Iranian government orders to assassins and terrorists including the Lockerbie bombers):
On the day of his assassination and one day before his body was found with his throat slit, the Teheran headquarters of the Iranian Intelligence Service, the VEVAK, transmitted a coded message to Iranian diplomatic missions in London, Paris, Bonn and Geneva. "Is Bakhtiar dead?" the message asked.
"Different countries need different levels of security. The United States and other leading Western countries required completely secure communications. Such security would not be appropriate for the Third World countries that were Crypto's customers," Boris Hagelin explained to the baffled engineer. "We have to do it."
Juerg Spoerndli left Crypto AG in 1994. He helped design the machines in the late '70s. "I was ordered to change algorithms under mysterious circumstances" to weaker machines," says Spoerndli who concluded that NSA was ordering the design change through German intermediaries.
The ownership of Crypto AG has been to a company in Liechtenstein, and from there back to a trust company in Munich. Crypto AG has been described as the secret daughter of Siemens but many believe that the real owner is the German government.
Charlie Stross has a characteristically sobering assessment of the Litvinenko assassination:
Anyway, to the point: this wasn't simply an assassination. There are any number of poisons out there that would do the job painfully well but much more rapidly, and without the same scope for a diplomatic incident. Likewise, a bullet to the back of the head would have worked just as well (as witness the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya).
What this is, is a warning: "we have the capability to detonate a dirty bomb in central London any time we feel like it, so don't fuck with us". (Just take Polonium and add a little TNT.)
Given that Litvinenko was promoting a book that asserted FSB agents blew up two apartment buildings in Moscow and pointed the finger at Chechen rebels in order to justify Putin's subsequent war on Chechnya, one possibility that must be considered is that elements of the FSB may be responsible — and willing to use radiological terrorism as a tool of foreign affairs. It may well not have been ordered by the Kremlin: all it takes is for Vladimir Putin to mutter "will nobody rid me of this turbulent priest?" over his breakfast one morning, and Shit Happens in a foreign capital thousands of kilometres away. (Or it may be entirely deliberate, merely "plausibly deniable", to use the charming CIA-surplus weasel words for "we did it but you can't prove it".)
And what disturbs me most is that all the other possibilities I've been able to think of are worse ...And as a bonus, here is Charlie's analysis of the Iraq débâcle
Despite all that, despite the Abu Ghraib photographs and the evidence of mass murder of civilians by soldiers, and a thousand daily petty atrocities, it's not immediately obvious that bringing the troops home won't make everything a whole lot worse in the long run, up to a worst-case scenario in which the "failed state" of Iraq turns out to be not so much a "failed state" as a voracious cancer of social breakdown that spreads inexorably to its neighbours, until the entire region is effectively government-free. "Government-free" does not mean some libertarian pipe-dream of a night watchman state and respect for individual liberty: it means that eventually the whole region will come to resemble Afghanistan under the Taliban, with authority — any authority — welcomed as an antidote to blood feud and starvation.
Former Russian spy turned defector Alexander Litvinenko has died in a London hospital, having been mysteriously poisoned. The authorities still don't know what substance was used to kill him, though thallium and radioactive agents were both suspected. The Russian secret services have denied poisoning him (though they of course would). Some are pointing the finger at Russian President Putin, an ex-KGB man, whose government Litvinenko had criticised.
A former KGB colonel and critic of the Russian government resident in Britain appears to have been poisoned with thallium, after investigating the recent murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya (another critic of the Putin government). Alexander Litvinenko, who was granted political asylum in Britain in 2001 and was reportedly a British citizen, had made a number of claims about the Putin government, including that the Russian security services orchestrated a catastrophic terrorist attack on Russian soil to create a pretext for an offensive in Chechnya. Could the Russian security services once again be assassinating troublemakers abroad, as the KGB and their Warsaw Pact allies did during the Cold War?
Medical specialists from Britain, the US and France claim that Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yuschenko was poisoned in the run-up to the country's (now invalidated) presidential election. Who ordered the poisoning (believed to have been done with a rare poison) is unknown, though it could go all the way to Moscow (which stands to lose influence if the pro-Western Yuschenko comes to power).
JFK Reloaded, a game which allows you to play Lee Harvey Oswald. It features realistic bullet physics, and registered users can enter a competition, with the most accurate reconstruction of Oswald's fatal shots (according to the Warren Commission report) winning up to US$100,000. All in the name of historical research, of course. (via jwz)
16 people have been arrested in the central Asian state of Turkmenistan for attempting to assassinate the President, Saparmurat Niyazov. It is not known whether the incident arose from an ideological dispute over the naming of months or the precise delineation of the Ages of Man.
A 12-year-old boy in Russia has hired hitmen to kill his parents because he disliked having to tidy his room, brush his teeth and do his homework. Seems like they do things a bit differently over there. (via rotten.com)
Was one of the actors in a recently acclaimed Iranian film about oppression in Afghanistan a fugitive assassin, wanted for murdering an Iranian dissident in 1980? US officials insist that he is.