Thursday, September 11, 2008 

Crying over spilt liquid part 4.

Almost certainly the last post on this for now, but Lewis Page over on El Reg has written an excellent piece going into great detail on why the liquid bombs plot in his opinion was viable. Considering that he was a mine clearance diving officer and knows his stuff and I on the other hand have never so much as touched a chemistry set, I'll more than take his word for it.

There are of course still considerations to take into account though. There was, as we know, no evidence they had concocted a viable bomb, although Sarwar does seem to have boiled down the hydrogen peroxide to the right dilution. That still doesn't mean that it necessarily would have exploded - I would have expected they would have wanted to test it first, something more feasible than testing the bombs which the 7/7 and 21/7 attackers made. Considering it took the boffins as Page calls them 30 attempts it wouldn't be surprising if Sarwar had to make a similar number of efforts before getting it right, and even then it wouldn't be certain that he would have got it right for every single one of the devices they were going to make. It has to be remembered that Sarwar had a finite amount of HP and a finite amount of time, although he did have a decent quantity. It does also make you wonder if indeed he had failed repeatedly whether they would then have considered changing their plans to targeting something other than planes, if indeed that was what they were plotting to destroy. Again, then there's still the problem of getting through airport security, and Charlieman on Lib Con thinks this would have been potentially more difficult than Page does.

None of this affects however the trial itself, which didn't rest on their ability to make bombs - although it was certainly a matter of question whether they truly could have done, and one which most certainly needed looking into as I attempted to do - but on the fact that the prosecution, police and the politicians all claimed that they were to explode these bombs on aircraft causing "mass-murder on an unimaginable scale". That still was not justified, nor has it been proved in a court of law, and nor could the plotters have done so due to the amount of surveillance they were under. Exaggerated then yes, a potential threat to our liberties through over-reaction yes, but completely impossible? Definitely not.

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