July 28, 2003

Now I've seen everything
Defense Dept. Program Taking Terror Bets - Program Models 'Futures' Markets

POSTED: 3:20 p.m. EDT July 28, 2003: A new Department of Defense program allows traders to bet on the likelihood of future terrorist attacks.

The department's "Defense Advanced Research Project Agency" designed what it calls the "The Policy Analysis Market." The program works much like the financial markets where traders buy and sell "futures" based on the possibility of a specific event in the Middle East.

Some of the examples listed on the agency's Web site include the assassination of Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat and a missile attack by North Korea. Bidders would profit if the events for which they hold futures occur.

Defense officials said the market-based system is highly accurate when assessing such things as political and civil stability, economic health and military disposition of Middle East countries.

Members of Congress said the market idea is not only wasteful, but repugnant.

"I think this is unbelievably stupid. That is a gentle thing to say about a program that is so devoid of value," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, said. "It combines the worst of all our values in my judgment. It's a tragic waste of taxpayer money. It will be totally offensive to almost everyone."

"[The] idea of a federal betting parlor on atrocities and terrorism is ridicules and grotesque," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said.

Registration for the site begins Friday and will be limited to the first 1,000 traders. Actual trading will begin Sept. 1 and the Department of Defense plans to open the site to 10,000 traders by Jan. 1, 2004.

I'm REALLY hoping this turns out to be just a sick hoax.

But I wouldn't put ANYTHING past this misadministration.

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