Mylroie was paid roughly $75,000 to produce a 300-page study, "The History of Al Qaida," for the Defense Department think tank, known as the Office of Net Assessment, a DOD spokesman tells us. The study, which is dated September 2005, was posted on an intelligence blog last month. It documents the development of Al Qaeda and spends many pages dancing around the theory that has defined Mylroie's career — that key Qaeda leaders acted at the behest of the Iraqi regime. She also argues that group-think among U.S. analysts has obscured the true nature of the terrorist group. Those who know Mylroie's work are shocked that the Pentagon would hire her.
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The weeks before Christmas brought no hint of terror. But by the afternoon of December 21, 2003, police stood guard in heavy assault gear on the streets of Manhattan. Fighter jets patrolled the skies. When a gift box was left on Fifth Avenue, it was labeled a suspicious package and 5,000 people in the Metropolitan Museum of Art were herded into the cold.
It was Code Orange. Americans first heard of it at a Sunday press conference in Washington, D.C. Weekend assignment editors sent their crews up Nebraska Avenue to the new Homeland Security offices, where DHS secretary Tom Ridge announced the terror alert. “There’s continued discussion,” he told reporters, “these are from credible sources—about near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experienced on September 11.” The New York Times reported that intelligence sources warned “about some unspecified but spectacular attack.”
The financial markets trembled.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Army Research Office awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to iRobot to create the flexible military bot. The maker of the Roomba and Scooba, along with University of Chicago researchers, showed off the oozy results at the Iros conference (the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems) in St. Louis this week. DARPA envisions the palm-size ChemBot as a mobile robot that can traverse soft terrain and navigate through small openings, such as tiny wall cracks, during reconnaissance and search-and-rescue missions. It gets around by way of a process called "jamming," in which material can transition between semiliquid and solid states with only a slight change in volume. In ChemBot's case, a flexible silicone skin encapsulates a series of pockets containing a mix of air and loosely packed particles. When air is removed from the compartments, the skin attempts to equalize the pressure differential by constricting the particles, which shift slightly to fill the void left by the evacuated air. In that way, the weird little blob inflates and deflates parts of its body, changing size and shape--and scaring the living daylights out of us. We don't know exactly when ChemBot will join the Armed Forces, but we can only beg: please, oh please, keep it away from us.