Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cartoon physics

The latest disrupted-in-the-nick-of-time terror attack, and the improbability of the mayhem that would allegedly ensue, reminds me of this news item from last summer:

WASHINGTON, July 7 (Reuters) - A plot to bomb New York's Holland Tunnel in an effort to flood the Wall Street financial district has been uncovered by the FBI, with a suspect arrested in Lebanon, New York's Daily News reported on Friday.

The newspaper, quoting unidentified counterterrorism sources, said the investigation involved what officials considered a "serious plot" to detonate enough explosives inside the landmark tunnel to destroy it and send devastating floodwaters through lower Manhattan.

The idea that puncturing an underwater tunnel would cause land the lies above sea level to flood is absurd, in the absence of a tremendous pressure that would force the water out of the tunnel and onto Manhattan.

Now comes word that an Islamist plot to blow up a jet fuel terminal at JFK airport would cause fuel lines buried underneath the Bronx to explode. A US Attorney who wants to keep her job says "“The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable, one of the most chilling plots imaginable.”

Yes. Right up there with covering yourself with vanishing cream so you can sneak past a mean guard dog in order to kidnap Tweety Bird. The Bush Administration, in yet another desperate attempt to scare the bejeeezus out of us, is still resorting to cartoon physics.

MSNBC quotes Richard Kuprewicz
, a pipeline expert and president of Accufacts Inc., an energy consulting firm that focuses on pipelines and tank farms, who said the force of the explosion would depend on the amount of fuel under pressure, but it would not travel up and down the line.

“That doesn’t mean wackos out there can’t do damage and cause a fire, but those explosions and fires are going to be fairly restricted,” he said.

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