– They’re going to use a special sensor that can smell bin Laden in his cave, says the Times of London:
The sensor is said to be so sensitive that it can ìdistinguish between the smells of different ethnic groups caused by the different foods they eatî, according to John Shroder, a professor of geology at Nebraska University and a leading expert on the Afghan mountains.
Shroder has advised the Americans on Bin Ladenís likely location, judging by the mountain background to one of the Al-Qaeda leaderís propaganda videos.
The remote-sensing gas detection device is part of the array of technology being employed in the hunt for Bin Laden. Other equipment includes airborne gravimeters that can locate tunnels by small variations in the Earthís gravitational pull around them, and infrared heat sensors that pick up movement around the entrances of caves.
Once a target area has been identified by air reconnaissance, ground troops can plant microphones to detect noises below. They can also push miniature cameras into ventilation shafts to watch the insides of caves before mounting an attack; or they can lower foot-high remote-controlled buggies with searchlights and cameras into tunnels.
– At least six dead, 160 wounded in suicide bombing in Israeli pedestrian mall. Enough, damnit, enough.
– Brit SAS troops to lead assault on Tora Bora.
Waging politically correct war
– David Aaronovitch illustrates the difficulty of waging the politically correct war, following the ruckus over the prison battle: “So, as of this week, we have become war criminals. Events at the Qalai Janghi fort, in northern Afghanistan, are to be set alongside the Srebrenica massacre or My Lai. And those in any way implicated ñ the Northern Alliance, the SAS, the United States Air Force ñ are to be compared with Ratko Mladic and Lieutenant Calley. All this without an enquiry. Some people emit outrage like elephants’ piss. The sheer quantity of it soon covers the psychological landscape.” There are complaints that the other side was outgunned — as if war is fair. “The ex-prisoners had the fort and a lot of weapons, their enemies had tanks, American planes and SAS spotters. As a reporter in [one] paper commented: ‘The fighters had wanted martyrdom, and, after a four-day battle, almost all of them had got it.’ At which point, allow me to void my own elephant’s bladder a little by pointing out that their choice was far greater than that of the victims of 11 September, who looked back at the flames in the World Trade Centre, and then decided to fall to their deaths.” Amen. And then he plays the WWII card effectively: “Even so what, so far, we know of Qalai Janghi does not sound like a war crime. Had, in 1944, a chateau full of captured SS men killed their captors and then holed up inside shooting at anything that moved, I doubt whether anyone now would have called their extinction a ‘war crime.’ ” [via Time’s weblog]
– Time’s hour-by-hour version of events at the prison.
– Ken Layne votes in the unscientific, meaningless Person of the Year poll: “I voted for filthy bin Laden, because he started all this horror (Sontag, start your engines). Rudy is great, Bush has done all right, and the people who stormed the cockpit of Flight 93 were True Heroes — as were the firefighters, cops, paramedics, military, rescue teams and random volunteers who either died or risked their lives at the WTC and Pentagon. But Sammy bin Laden, he’s the man. He’s the Target. Why? Because he was the Very Annoying Alarm Clock. We learned some rotten stuff on Sept. 11. Those nuts were serious….”
– And Layne, again, on the UN Afghan talks: “Don’t want to be rude, but can the United Nations solve anything? I mean, I’m glad the body exists, but what exactly can it do? I would be far happier with a U.S./U.K. handling of this meeting. Would like to see a Rumsfeld saying: ‘Get it together, and remember why you have the chance.’ ” Couldn’t’ve said it better myself.
– Times of London: “Talks in jeopardy as goodwill evaporates”