CIA borrowed school bus for training, left explosive material on board while bus carried kids

Both should be no-biggie.


Your tax dollars at work.

Because they’re scent-training dogs. Their own f-ing bus wouldn’t smell at all like old peanut-butter sandwiches and vomit.
Plus school buses sit idle the majority of the time.

And if they weren’t using them for something (anything) else like this somebody would be yelling about waste the other way. “Why does the CIA have to have their own f-ing buses for dog training when there’s a lot full of them sitting idle right down the road?”


The more things change…

A while ago I worked the summer at a college working in the kitchen, cleaning dorm rooms after conferences, etc. After a police conference, one of the other people I was working with found a handgun in one of the rooms…


The CIA guy is pretty sure it isn’t 1)

Byard described it as a “putty-type” material designed for use on the battlefield and which requires a special detonator;

That’s actually super-disconcerting because he clearly believes it’s one of the many ‘stable’ explosives, one of the few situations that can (amazingly rarely) set ones like C-4 off happens to be ‘bouncing around an engine compartment with the ability to generate significant heat, pressure, and electricity’.

It’d be really unlikely without an engine malfunction, but it’s not like engine blocks have never cracked and pistons always stay where they’re supposed to

Isn’t a tire blowout in an unlucky place (e.g. a bridge), followed by tumble into depth, a bit more probable? Where do we put a probability cutoff to handwringing over what could happen?

1 Like

I’d think that’d be a lot less probable than the general set of circumstances that could subject a foreign object in an engine to unusual stresses, but certainly general car accidents are more probable.

Really the only issues there are

  1. The CIA inserted an unnecessary risk that they did not discover (it was found during a maintenence check, otherwise the risk would have continued), and
  2. The CIA, likely made a firm optimistic statement when the reality is likely less flattering.

Since the CIA has a history of being deceptive, we probably should be assuming the worst and not the best unless more detailed information comes in. We shouldn’t be forgetting the past (which statistically indicates OMG) and should not be giving the benefit of the doubt, should we?

1 Like

They screwed up. But the material left in would go off with major power release only in a fairly freak accident. So the magnitude of the actual risk doesn’t look great to me.

So, shrug.

The failure of inventory control is huge, yes. And given that we found it in two days the kids probably weren’t at any real increased risk. But for me the scary thing is that the CIA was not involved in the recovery, so that ‘2 days’ figure heavily luck based and things could’ve gone worse.

But without knowing which explosive they used, what position it was in, what kind of engine the bus had, and hearing a real risk analysis from an engineer that’s NOT a spokesperson from the CIA (who we should be distrusting initially) we certainly shouldn’t be assuming the risk wasn’t great based upon our admittedly amateur assumptions and his unlikely-to-be-trustworthy say-so.


If it was a reasonably recent plastic explosive, there was not much danger to speak about. It’s not like dynamite that tends to sweat nitroglycerin when abused.

A friend used to study the stuff. When he had an excursion of wannabe future students, his “party trick” was to show off a piece of Semtex, roll it into a string, then ignite its end and watch how the visitors go pale.

Later he wimped out of the field and went into religionistics. Waste of good chemistry talent.

I’m totally aware of this, C4 doesn’t go off if you hit it with a bullet or if you light it, it’s not unusual knowledge.

However, even with my casual knowledge of the forces that occur in engine compartments during operation I’m quite aware the scenarios are nothing alike. That’s why I mentioned that specifically in the earlier post. There are plenty of situations within an engine compartment where intense forces can be applied to loose objects.

There’s never been a part of this conversation where I thought that the explosive in question was anything other than a stable plastic explosive rather than an unstable agent like nitroglycerin.

Few of which compare to anything close to the impulse required to achieve high-order detonation.

And I say ‘It’s one of the few places where that sort of thing actually could be possible, so I’d take the CIA’s ‘totally safe’ with a grain of salt’

I’m not sure what you’re going for here.

Edit: Is the difference of opinion that my standard is that if I or anybody screws up we’re supposed to not eliminate bad scenarios during the post mortem phase? I really think that sort of optimism is bad and I’ve never worked anywhere where it was anything other than completely unacceptable if not dangerous.

Ouch. You had me on board until this :frowning:

1 Like

Oh my, look at that. Totes ruins the whole comment, doesn’t it? (edited to add the correct word.)

I am totes back on board now. I must have forgotten I wasn’t anonymous on Slashdot for a moment…

“Possible” and “possible with non-negligible probability” are two quite different concepts.

Only one of those is worth actually worrying about.

But this doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There’s also ‘it may be found by somebody else’, and then the spectrum of Darwin awards comes into play, because we build great idiots. Overall this isn’t a negligible risk and there’s no indication the CIA had any indication anything was amiss.

The risk of somebody getting hurt or killed, accidentally or deliberately, because somebody tried to blow up something that might make a bigger bang isn’t completely nil, right? We’re great at finding shit like that.

It’s a monumental fuckup on many levels and saying ‘the kids were totally safe’ without hearing verification that these specific questions had been answered by people with a trustworthy methodology is premature to me.

Without an initiator it is more or less just flammable. And if somebody tries too hard, well, that’s what Darwin is for.

…I for one wouldn’t mind playing a bit with some boom putty. Would love to try out a shaped charge…

In comparison with e.g. filling an apartment with natural gas and then blowing it up? Virtually nil.

Until a trustworthy methodology says there was a significant non-negligible risk, I don’t see a reason to get my panties in a twist.

This has never been ‘high degree of certainty’ or ‘get panties in a twist’.

This has always been ‘Unless you’re an expert in the field or are delivering their findings then you don’t get to remove things from the risk equation’.

And now you’re concluding that nobody will even be able to figure out how to blow that stuff up! Because nobody has access to google or youtube? Is that why they can’t ever figure out how to blow something up when they want to?

And those rose colored glasses are coming based on very limited information provided by a CIA mouthpiece. For all we know they also took the explosive they used out of the wrong crate. That’s never happened, right? Only happy things happen when the CIA is involved.