Man Without Qualities

Monday, April 11, 2005

Thar She Blows! (But Should She?)

The Washington Post provides an update on the story of the man-in-black who faced the Capitol with two black suitcases by his sides earlier today, demanding to speak to the President:

With hundreds of people watching from First Street and near the Capitol Reflecting Pool, bomb squad technicians X-rayed the bags. The results revealed that one suitcase might contain an explosive device because it contained wires, batteries and what appeared to be a timer, [Chief Terrance W. Gainer of U.S. Capitol Police] said.

After "disrupting" the bags with an explosive blast about 3:15 p.m., police determined that the bag contained nothing more than a CD player, batteries and a "watch or something," Gainer said.

Gainer and other Capitol officials said officers acted appropriately.

The Post story seems to state that the Capitol Police didn't know exactly what was in the bag they blew up. Personally, I wonder what the consequences of "disrupting" the bags with an explosive blast would have been if the "disrupted" bag had contained a "dirty" nuclear device or chemical or biological agents. If the bag had contained any of these, wouldn't "disrupting" the bag with an explosive device have actually released deadly nuclear, biological and/ or chemical contaminants into the air just a few feet from the Capitol? Contaminants that might otherwise have remained contained? How could an X-Ray have determined whether or not the bag contained a substantial cache of weapons-grade anthrax, for example?

Other news reports indicate the the Senate was actually in session nearby when the bag was "disrupted" just a few feet from the Capitol, and that tourists had been readmitted to the area adjacent to the "disruption."

Chief Gainer must have his reasons for concluding that his officers officers acted appropriately. I don't see those reasons at the moment. But neither am I willing to pass judgment at the moment.

Interesting. We learn something all the time. Thanks and visit us at Seniors
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