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[liberationtech] Mastermind of 9/11 Attacks Designs a Secret Vacuum Cleaner - Slashdot

Chris Csikszentmihalyi robotic at
Sun Jul 14 19:20:54 PDT 2013

This has special resonance if you've ever read "Our Man in Havana" by
Graham Greene.  Indeed, I thought it was perhaps a CIA press handler making
a veiled reference to the vacuum cleaner subplot in that book.  Or perhaps
KSM was a fan of Graham Greene.  Life imitates art imitates...

On Sun, Jul 14, 2013 at 4:38 PM, Kyle Maxwell <kylem at> wrote:

> Keep an eye out for In-Q-Tel investments in home appliance companies...
> On Sun, Jul 14, 2013 at 6:19 PM, Yosem Companys <companys at>
> wrote:
> >
> >
> > AP reports that while confined to the basement of a CIA secret prison in
> Romania about a decade ago, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind
> of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, asked his jailers whether he could design a
> vacuum cleaner. After all KSM earned his bachelor's in mechanical
> engineering, the agency had no long-term plan for him, but might thought he
> might someday prove useful and might even stand trial one day and for that,
> he'd need to be sane. They were concerned that his long imprisonment might
> do so much psychological damage that he would no longer be useful as source
> for information. "We didn't want them to go nuts," said a former senior CIA
> official. So, using schematics from the Internet as his guide, Mohammed
> began re-engineering one of the most mundane of household appliances. It
> remains a mystery how far Mohammed got with his designs or whether the
> plans still exist and even Mohammed's military lawyer, Jason Wright, says
> he is prohibited from discuss
>  ing his client's interest in vacuums. 'It sounds ridiculous, but
> answering this question, or confirming or denying the very existence of a
> vacuum cleaner design, a Swiffer design, or even a design for a better hand
> towel would apparently expose the U.S. government and its citizens to
> exceptionally grave danger,' says Wright. So now, says Doug Mataconis, if
> you happen to start seeing ads for the CIA's revolutionary new home
> cleaning device, you'll know where it came from.
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Christopher Csikszentmihályi
Professor, Media Design
Art Center College of Design
robotic at
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