Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Terrorist betting pool idea scrapped

From the Times:

The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists has quickly abandoned an idea in which anonymous speculators would have bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups in an online futures market.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today that program was being "terminated."


Those statements signaled the end of a program that was met with astonishment and derision almost from the moment it was disclosed.

Under the discarded plan, traders bullish on a biological attack on Israel, say, or bearish on the chances of a North Korean missile strike would have had the opportunity to bet on the likelihood of such events on a new Internet site established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The Pentagon called its latest idea a new way of predicting events and part of its search for the "broadest possible set of new ways to prevent terrorist attacks." But two Democratic senators who disclosed the plan on Monday called it morally repugnant and grotesque. The senators said the program fell under the control of Adm. John M. Poindexter, President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser.

The real reason they shut it down? "The President gets drunk and chokes on another pretzel" was running even odds.


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