Friday, February 26, 2021

There's always something mysterious about a qualification sample

From the pages of The Washington Post, this book excerpt about a Syrian chemist in their chemical weapons program, and his communications with the CIA: 
...The chemist appeared to anticipate the question. One late December day, he sent a cryptic signal to the case officer requesting a meeting. He had something to give the young American, but it had to be in private — not at his house, and not in a cafe or another public place where the exchange might be seen.

The arrangements were set. On the agreed evening, the spy and the case officer sat together in the front seat of a Peugeot parked on a quiet Damascus street a few blocks from the U.S. Embassy. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, the scientist produced a small package.

“It’s nearly Christmas. You’re a Christian,” the chemist said, handing over the bundle. “Here’s a Christmas present.” A few minutes later, the American was left alone to ponder what was inside the parcel’s plain wrapping.

The younger man had an inkling, so, as a precaution, the CIA arranged to send a pair of technical specialists to his Damascus apartment to help with the initial assessment. Donning respirators and protective suits, the specialists carefully removed the outer packaging to reveal a small box.

Inside the box was a sealed plastic vial. And within it, visible through the plastic casing, was a clear liquid. The chemist had boasted of his prowess in making exceedingly effective nerve agents. Now he had given the Americans a sample.

Several days passed before the liquid could be fully analyzed. The vial was first repackaged and placed in a shatterproof container, then stuffed inside a diplomatic pouch to be flown out of the country. Once in the United States, it was rushed to a military laboratory, where scientists in hazmat suits gingerly opened the vial for a first look at what was inside.

Always good to make your work known to the world, I suppose. If you're a manufacturer of nerve agents, what are you gonna do, write it up for JACS

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, that seems like it could be straight out of a movie


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20