On April 1 Bruce Schneier announced a contest that should get some attention. He will try to hook you up with a movie producer but I wonder if participation will also enter you on the DHS "no-fly" list.
For a while now, I have been writing about our penchant for "movie-plot threats": terrorist fears based on very specific attack scenarios. Terrorists with crop dusters, terrorists exploding baby carriages in subways, terrorists filling school buses with explosives — these are all movie-plot threats. They’re good for scaring people, but it’s just silly to build national security policy around them.
But if we’re going to worry about unlikely attacks, why can’t they be exciting and innovative ones? If Americans are going to be scared, shouldn’t they be scared of things that are really scary? "Blowing up the Super Bowl" is a movie plot to be sure, but it’s not a very good movie. Let’s kick this up a notch.
It is in this spirit I announce the (possibly First) Movie-Plot Threat Contest. Entrants are invited to submit the most unlikely, yet still plausible, terrorist attack scenarios they can come up with.
Your goal: cause terror. Make the American people notice. Inflict lasting damage on the U.S. economy. Change the political landscape, or the culture. The more grandiose the goal, the better.
Assume an attacker profile on the order of 9/11: 20 to 30 unskilled people, and about $500,000 with which to buy skills, equipment, etc.
Post your movie plots here on this blog.
Judging will be by me, swayed by popular acclaim in the blog comments section. The prize will be an autographed copy of Beyond Fear. And if I can swing it, a phone call with a real live movie producer.
Entries close at the end of the month — April 30 — so Crypto-Gram readers can also play.
This is not an April Fool’s joke, although it’s in the spirit of the season. The purpose of this contest is absurd humor, but I hope it also makes a point. Terrorism is a real threat, but we’re not any safer through security measures that require us to correctly guess what the terrorists are going to do next.