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The Military United States Technology

Mastermind of 9/11 Attacks Designs a Secret Vacuum Cleaner 284

Posted by timothy
from the your-snide-response-must-include-the-word-sucks dept.
HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes "AP reports that while confined to the basement of a CIA secret prison in Romania about a decade ago, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, asked his jailers whether he could design a vacuum cleaner. After all KSM earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering, the agency had no long-term plan for him, but might thought he might someday prove useful and might even stand trial one day and for that, he'd need to be sane. They were concerned that his long imprisonment might do so much psychological damage that he would no longer be useful as source for information. "We didn't want them to go nuts," said a former senior CIA official. So, using schematics from the Internet as his guide, Mohammed began re-engineering one of the most mundane of household appliances. It remains a mystery how far Mohammed got with his designs or whether the plans still exist and even Mohammed's military lawyer, Jason Wright, says he is prohibited from discussing his client's interest in vacuums. 'It sounds ridiculous, but answering this question, or confirming or denying the very existence of a vacuum cleaner design, a Swiffer design, or even a design for a better hand towel would apparently expose the U.S. government and its citizens to exceptionally grave danger,' says Wright. So now, says Doug Mataconis, if you happen to start seeing ads for the CIA's revolutionary new home cleaning device, you'll know where it came from." Sounds perfect for In-Q-Tel.
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Mastermind of 9/11 Attacks Designs a Secret Vacuum Cleaner

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  • admitted? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:58PM (#44267351)

    He was tortured in order to obtain the confession, I don't know what good it is.

    • by Zemran (3101) on Friday July 12, 2013 @10:00PM (#44267363) Homepage Journal

      He was tortured to get a confession and when they read it, it was the plan for a vacuum cleaner...

      • I vaguley recall that this was the plot of an episode of Hogan's Heros.
        The Norton project was not a bombsight.

    • Re:admitted? (Score:5, Informative)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Friday July 12, 2013 @10:13PM (#44267435)

      He admitted to his role in 9/11 several months before being captured, in an interview with Al Jazeera.

      That in no way excuses torture, nor does it mean he's guilty of the dozens of other crimes that they tortured him into confessing to, but he was responsible for 9/11.

      • Re:admitted? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2013 @10:41PM (#44267565)

        This is why you don't torture people who you think are criminals -- it does nothing but contribute doubt to your case. Society learned long ago that a torture-free imprisonment, followed by a fair and impartial trial, was the most effective way to ensure that an admission of guilt (or conviction) was credible and final.

        • Re:admitted? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Raenex (947668) on Friday July 12, 2013 @11:05PM (#44267659)

          To play devil's advocate, if you're looking for information, torture with cross-checking will probably gain you some. It will cost you in other ways, though.

          • by kthreadd (1558445)

            Unless you torture the cross checker I guess.

          • Re:admitted? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by dbIII (701233) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:53AM (#44269111)
            No, it just gets you something else to use in a show trial once you've already decided the person is guilty. In the USSR they were well aware that torture was utterly useless as a means of gaining information when they did things like get someone to confess to blowing up more railway locomotives than existed in the USSR at the time. Torture is only good if you want to put on a show that makes it look like punishment is being carried out for crimes and catching the actual criminals instead of whoever is convenient is a lucky accident.
            As for costing in other ways, guess who tried to kill off the President of France some years ago? It was a group of returned soldiers from Algeria that had tortured doctors, priests and plenty of others that they had seen as authority figures so they didn't see why they shouldn't kill off their President. This sort of stuff has a way of following people home, which may be when some torture was outsourced to Egypt and Syria (two we know about) as part of the "extraordinary rendition" that had large numbers of suspects being flown to places where US law does not apply with people that won't be setting foot in the USA committing the atrocities.
            In my view it's another thing to add to the list, not just having atrocities committed but being cowardly weasels about it.
            • Re:admitted? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:57AM (#44269119) Homepage Journal

              US Soldiers are more likely to engage in spousal abuse, whether that's rape or pugilism. This distinction doesn't even involve combatants; there's enough brainwashing and rape to achieve this goal even for a non-com. I presume it's the same elsewhere. You teach people to solve problems with violence and that they are better than other people (as enlisted typically feel) and guess what happens?

            • Re:admitted? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Raenex (947668) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @08:48AM (#44269301)

              No, it just gets you something else to use in a show trial once you've already decided the person is guilty.

              You need actionable information or some way of verifying it. Example: Leon v. Wainwright [openjurist.org]:

              "Leon [one of the kidnappers] and Frank Gachelin [a relative of the kidnapee] met in the shopping center parking lot at 2:00 a.m. During the confrontation Leon drew a gun on Frank. The police officers, who had accompanied Frank to the meeting, immediately arrested Leon and demanded that he tell them where he was holding Gachelin. When he refused to tell them the location, "he was set upon by several of the officers." Leon v. State, 410 So.2d 201, 202 (Fla.3d DCA 1982). "They threatened and physically abused him by twisting his arm behind his back and choking him until he revealed where Louis [Gachelin] was being held." Id. The officers went to the apartment, rescued Gachelin and arrested Armand [the second kidnapper]."

              Sure, you can practice crude torture, get signed "confessions" and boatloads of real and made up information. But to say you can't get any information from torture is just trying to shortcut the argument.

              • Sorry, but that is not something that is referred to as torture. When you find out what we are writing about here you will be truly sickened and will get a glimpse of how evil people can be.
        • Re:admitted? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mysidia (191772) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @03:17AM (#44268377)

          followed by a fair and impartial trial, was the most effective way to ensure that an admission of guilt (or conviction) was credible and final.

          And then they went and screwed it up, by letting interrogators lie -- imply that they had enough evidence to put 'em away for life, and coax the prisoner into confessing under a false pretense that they'll get off with less prison time, than they'd be certain to have if they insisted upon exercising their right to a trial.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I think the reason you don't torture people is because it is wrong, and because it is prohibited by the document which outlines the terms under which the government maintains it's legitimacy.

          How did we even get here to the point where we have discussions of the utility of our policy of torturing POWs-by-any-other-name? Torture has always been prohibited my entire life, and I was raised hearing stories about the example we set with out treatment of Japanese POWs during WWII.

          Guantanamo Bay vaporizes any high-

        • Re:admitted? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @06:39AM (#44268917)

          You see, right there is your problem. You're arguing it wrong. Don't argue that it leads to better trials, better convictions, yada yada, then they can argue back against you about it. They can disagree. This isn't something that should be a debatable issue.

          Argue: "Torture is evil. If we administer it, WE are evil people. It is all about hate, revenge and there is no excuse, no justification for it, ever. If a man were guarding the knowledge that would cure all mortal illness and the only way to get the cure from him were torture, it would STILL be wrong to commit it. We cannot give up our very souls for security because all we'll truely be secure in is our own shame."

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2013 @11:52PM (#44267845)

        He admitted to his role in 9/11 several months before being captured, in an interview with Al Jazeera.

        9/11 and that interview were clearly an amazing publicity stunt to generate hype for his vacuum cleaner design. Slashvertisement was just the next step in his plan. Next week, he'll open up the kickstarter project and the money will start rolling in like an avalanche.

        Call me pessimistic, but I expect delays in any delivery date he sets.

        All in all, it seems like the ???????????? before PROFIT was "get waterboarded". Who knew?

        captcha: gigawatt

        • by mysidia (191772)

          9/11 and that interview were clearly an amazing publicity stunt to generate hype for his vacuum cleaner design. Slashvertisement was just the next step in his plan.

          Prisoners in general are held to be in the service to the government, while in prison --- so, as if they were an employee, the government gets the rights to their creation, invention, or business.

          So if there was a publicity stunt involved, the guy should have designed it first.

      • Re:admitted? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @12:14AM (#44267923)

        nor does it mean he's guilty of the dozens of other crimes that they tortured him into confessing to

        To the best of my knowledge he didn't give them jack shit despite being waterboarded around 180 times. For a while there was this pro-torture narrative going around that he "broke" after ~30 seconds of waterboarding when later it turned out that the real story was closer to the CIA gave up waterboarding him after ~30 days of doing it to him 5 times a day and getting nothing.

      • by Fuzzums (250400)

        Saying you did it is something different than actually having done that something.
        No matter how great it is to have a confession.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @12:45AM (#44268017)

      Graham Greene rolls over in his grave.

  • Mk 1 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Coditor (2849497) on Friday July 12, 2013 @10:14PM (#44267445)
    If the vacuum starts looking like a giant metal guy with a glowing center light maybe they should rethink this idea.
  • by Guano_Jim (157555) on Friday July 12, 2013 @10:23PM (#44267505)

    ...his design sucked.

    Thank you! I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Friday July 12, 2013 @10:23PM (#44267509)

    It's interesting how many terrorists are trained as engineers.

    • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Friday July 12, 2013 @10:58PM (#44267619) Homepage Journal

      Doctor Octopus
      Doctor Doom
      Doctor Evil
      Doctor No
      Doctor Horrible

      It's interesting how many evil geniuses have an advanced degree.

    • by rasmusbr (2186518) on Friday July 12, 2013 @11:21PM (#44267733)

      It's interesting how many successful terrorists are trained as engineers.

      Fixed that for you. It is interesting, but it is also unsurprising if you think about it.

    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      It's interesting, because while you obviously need good technical skills, you also need some level of blind obedience.

      Now excuse me while I go and bash some followers of the cult of Vi with my Model M.

    • by pla (258480)
      It's interesting how many terrorists are trained as engineers.

      I would call that more of a sampling bias.

      You basically have one core prerequisite for driving someone to acts of terrorism - Extreme belief in a position that most others don't hold, about which you feel the "wrong" opinion will cause massive damage on a large, even global, scale.

      You can then divide that into two groups - The wrong and the right. The former, for some reason, almost always seem to act based on belief in imaginary creature
  • by sgt scrub (869860)

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Making things that suck since 1987.

  • I could do with a decent Vacuum cleaner. My old Henry is losing suction and I read horrible reviews about that new Dyson's cyclone blabla, it sucks everything but dust. So what's out there and doesn't suck?
    • by jd2112 (1535857)

      I read horrible reviews about that new Dyson's cyclone blabla, it sucks everything but dust.

      Apparently Microsoft secretly bought out Dyson.

      • by jamstar7 (694492)

        I read horrible reviews about that new Dyson's cyclone blabla, it sucks everything but dust.

        Apparently Microsoft secretly bought out Dyson.

        Obviously, they hardcoded DRM into the vacuum cleaner's BIOS then, cause it's borderline useless as a vacuum cleaner. If it indeed did suck, it would be a good design.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      My old Henry is losing suction

      That sounds like a line from the Goon Show.

  • Graham Greene LIVES!

    YAY!!

  • Life Imitates Art ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2013 @11:09PM (#44267675)

    Remember the Grahame Greene novel "Our Man in Havana"? The protagonist is a CIA agent who gets tired of his job trying to uncover missile silos and communist plots in Cuba and starts microfilming close-ups of vacuum cleaner schematics and sending those back to Washington.

    So now we have a Guantanamo detainee drawing vacuum cleaner schematics? Which are no doubt being photographed and pored over by CIA agents for evidence of terrorist plots.....

  • grave danger (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thereitis (2355426) on Friday July 12, 2013 @11:15PM (#44267701) Journal

    It sounds ridiculous, but answering this question, or confirming or denying the very existence of a vacuum cleaner design, a Swiffer design, or even a design for a better hand towel would apparently expose the U.S. government and its citizens to exceptionally grave danger

    This kind of hyperbole is what makes people ignore warnings.

  • Vacuum man. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Seiken (1315183) on Friday July 12, 2013 @11:15PM (#44267709)
    I think that if you were to overlap all of the schematics, you would find that they are in fact for a mechanized suit designed to break out of jail and also prevent shrapnel from entering his heart, via a magnetic push.
  • his handlers never watched the first Iron Man movie.

  • Well, there are worse things he can do in his spare time (something he has a lot of in a prison cell) than design a vacuum cleaner. While the world does not need another terrorist since the so-called Third World and American fringe element nut jobs are very good at making those, the world can always use another good vacuum cleaner. My Dyson vacuum cleaner is good but I need one that is powered by a tame black hole for better sucking qualities. Also, with a tame black hole, I won't need to empty the dust

    • Actually, you probably don't want an appliance powered by a black hole, because those convert matter into energy via Hawking radiation [wikipedia.org] and the energy output actually ramps UP as the size decreases. A very small black hole, say, 1 kg in weight (a little over 2 pounds) would convert itself into energy in about 84 attoseconds and release the same energy as a 21 megaton nuke or so.

      You'd need a pretty big one for it to be stable, and I doubt you really want a vacuum cleaner weighing as much as the Everest :p

      On t

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @01:24AM (#44268115)

    Have any number of qualified and competent engineers (good ol' America-loving ones, of course) pick it apart and analyze it. Boom, problem solved.

    There's no danger, it's a chickenshit excuse to avoid the negative PR of a "terrorist vacuum cleaner."

  • The CIA has secret prisons in Romania??? WTF?

  • He didn't come up with the idea, he just watched what Israel and the US were doing on a daily basis. Even the suicide element had already been tried.

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