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We rmly believe in freedom and free markets. We
are Christians, or at least most of us are. We re your
average janes and joes with no particular ax to grind,
except this one---Osama bin Laden must pay in full
measure for what he has done.
The American Curling Club formed in order to play
a key role in bringing bin Laden to justice: namely, to
locate him. It seemed to us to be an important and
doable project. If our government couldn t or wouldn t
nd him, we would. And when we found him, if only
his grave, we would for ward his coördinates to the rele-
vant agencies. We would do this as a public service, not
for the $25 million State Department bounty on him.
Though our mission was lawful, we realized that
pursuing it might require us to bend a few rules and
make a few enemies. So we pledged our own lives and
liberty to each other and swore an oath of secrecy. We
established appropriate security protocols to shield
the ACC core group.
Collectively, we had expertise in a number of elds,
including telecommunications, biochemistry, the mili-
tary, civil government, and nance, but our contacts
extended far into other areas. Each of us was charged
with organizing further assets---networked cells and
task groups---behind strong rewalls. Initially we
chipped in our own savings to bootstrap our enter-
prise, but eventually our swifty cells became adept
at targeting bank transfers in large o shore money-
laundering operations. Soon we were able to nance
ourselves by imposing "sin taxes" on dr ug cartels and
playboy dictators. To name a few.
In the summer and fall of 2002, while we were
recruiting our go-to, wizard, swifty, lineman, and
expat cells, we met frequently to bat around ideas
for achieving mission success. Because truly brilliant
ideas can sound crazy at rst, and because committees
smother ideas, we declared that during our freewheel-
ing brainstorming sessions no idea was too outra-
geous to say out loud.
What if we invented a surrender dust, keyed to
bin Laden s DNA?
Or what about informer dust storms?
Our powers of imagination were r unning a bit hot
in those days. What with all the news of war and
rumors of war. What with the anthrax, Saddam, and
the shoe bomber who ruined air travel forever.
What if we embedded artificial memories in
people throughout the Middle East so that they were
certain they remembered Osama mocking the Prophet
What if we a icted all adult males taller than six foot
three in the tribal regions of Pakistan with the mother of
all tooth abscesses, requiring immediate dental surgery
in Peshawar, and then watched the dentists?
With righteous fer vor, in sessions that lasted
through the night, we loosed the dogs of ingenuity
upon the Sheikh of Saudi Arabia.
What if we made the mountains of eastern Afghani-
stan begin to hum? An unrelenting low-frequency
thrumming that seemed to rise from the very rocks
and that drove people out into open spaces scream-
ing and tearing their hair?
My own résumé nominated me to form and coördi-
nate our go-to cells, including an elite cell that I headed
myself. Among my rst recruits were several Desert
Storm vets whose toughness and loyalty were known
to me. They, in turn, helped me do background checks
and inter views to ll out their own cells.
People claim that this nation of ours is too polar-
ized, that we hardly recognize the other half that
doesn t think as we do. But I m here to say there s
one issue that all Americans can agree on, no matter
where they stand on most everything else: our nation
won t rest until Osama bin Laden faces justice. This
truth alone was our most e ective recruitment tool.
We characterized the ACC as an o -the-books gov-
ernment black op with one simple mission. The fact
that we paid well, and in cash, helped, too.
Eventually it was time to tether our brainstor ming
to reality. Our wizard cells were up and r unning, and
we passed them our favorite ideas for critical feed-
back. They, in turn, fed us weekly "News-to-Use"
summaries of developments across a broad range of
elds. Our brilliant ideas became somewhat tempered
by scienti c reality.
For instance, geneticists are cultivating plants that
grow medicines in their leaves and fr uit. They already
have a potato rabies vaccine and a tomato HIV drug.
Transgenic tobacco plants alone produce dozens of
"farmaceuticals," everything from human growth hor-
mone to cancer drugs.
What if we engineered a hybrid tomato or lettuce
crop that contained a therapeutic dose of Xanax or Prozac
and introduced it to the Middle East? Could that help
reduce the bloodshed? Seriously, treat a whole region
like a patient.
Or: Does Osama use sunscreen? For decades, sun-
screen was whitish and opaque because of the properties
of one of its chief ingredients, zinc oxide. In the 1990s,
researchers found that if they made the zinc oxide mole-
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