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"Dial in for Mayhem" (transcript of Dateline NBC's September 1, 1994 segment)

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Omega sez:
Transcript of Dateline NBC's September 1st, 1994 segment entitled: "Dial In for Mayhem"

Transcribed by Omega
Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc)

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

JANE PAULEY
STONE PHILLIPS
DEBORAH ROBERTS
EIGHT TEENAGERS IN TEXAS
STEPHAN CRUZY
STEPHAN'S MOM
DETH VEGETABLE
DR. LOUISE LABERGE
DET. JOHN MADDEN, ILLINOIS POLICE
MICHAEL HOY, PUBLISHER OF LOOMPANICS UNLIMITED
CONGRESSMAN MARKEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON
TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND FINANCE


JANE P: Good evening. If you want some control over what your child watches or listens to, you can lock out certain cable TV channels or even block out those 900 phone services.

STONE P: But there may be one device in your home over which you have little control when it comes to the information your child sends and receives. And as Deborah Roberts reports, it's setting off an explosive chain of events.

[CUT TO VIDEO OF IDIOT KIDS BLOWING UP MAILBOXES, TOSSING MOLOTOV COCKTAILS.]

DEBORAH R: This is what a group of 15 and 16 year old Texas boys did for kicks earlier this year. They blew up mailboxes. Tried to torch someone's home. They even tossed home-made molotov cocktails into the street. As if that weren't enough, the eight teenagers were even bold enough to record their mischief on this home video tape. They were all later arrested.

If you're thinking that your child would never even know how to make an
explosive. Think again. Especially if there's a computer in the house.


[CUT TO CANADIAN 12-YEAR-OLD DIALING A BBS.]


Take the case of 12-year old Stephan Cruzy of Montreal. Like many of
today's kids, he owns the latest computer, complete with music, games and
something else his parents never counted on: a direct line into files on how
to make explosives.


STEPHAN C: [unintelligible] stuff like smoke bombs. I could make that. Get
a few household ingredients. Maybe a little sulfur.

[KID MAKES SULFUR-SPRINKLING NOISES, AN IGNITION NOISE AND A COMBUSTION
NOISE. CUT TO STILL OF DETH VEGETABLE'S FILE ENTITLED "ANARCHY FOR FUN AND
PROFIT". DEBORAH ROBERTS QUOTES FROM IT.]


It may sound like child's play, but the file Stephan found goes far beyond
smoke bombs. Labelled "Anarchy for Fun and Profit", it was written by
someone named Deth Vegetable. And inside there are step-by-step, easy-to-use
instructions on how to make things like pipe bombs, and plastic explosives.
There's even a list of household products to substitute for hard-to-find
chemicals.

[CUT TO STEPHAN CUTTING SOMETHING FROM THE COVER OF A MAGAZINE ENTITLED
"LIVING IN SAFETY"]


STEPHAN'S MOM: Cut this picture out.

DEBORAH ROBERTS: [Over Stephan's Mom] Stephan's Mom found the
information and stopped him before he could build anything...


[CUT TO AMBULANCE RUSHING INTO HOSPITAL EMERGENCY AREA IN MONTREAL]

But no one was there to stop two other boys. A 14 and 16 year old were
rushed to this Montreal emergency room after experimenting with a copy of
Deth Vegetable's bomb instructions. They had just made a pipe bomb.


[RE-ENACTMENT: HOSPITAL TECHNICIANS LEISURELY PUSH AN EMPTY GURNEY TOPPED
BY AN IV-BAG FROM AMBULANCE TO EMERGENCY ROOM. TV VIEWER IS MEANT TO IMAGINE
BOMB-INJURED BOY ABOARD THE GURNEY.

CUT TO DR. LOUISE LABERGE, ST. JUSTINE HOSPITAL. IN BACKGROUND X-RAYS
SHOWING A HAND MISSING A FINGER.]


DR. LABERGE: It was like I couldn't believe how badly injured they
were. One of them had a chest trauma. And another one had his ear-drums
blown from the blow of the blast.

DEBORAH R: Dr. Laberge thought the accidents were unusual, until...


DR. LABERGE: A month later comes another boy who was then 14 who also
was injured with a very similar type of bomb. And I started asking questions.


[CUT TO DR. LABERGE NARRATING X-RAYS OF ONE BOY'S HAND.]


DEBORAH R: The boys wouldn't talk with us, but they learned the hard
way how easily home-made bombs can unexpectedly blow up.

[DR. LABERGE POINTS TO HER OWN HAND AS SHE NARRATES THE EXTENT OF THE
DAMAGE.]


DR. LABERGE: This all this part of the finger was missing and part of
the fourth finger was also missing.


[CUT TO COMPUTER SCREEN. MALEVOLENT HACKER TYPE'S REFLECTION CAN BE SEEN.
DETH VEGETABLE IS IN #HACK ON IRC DISCUSSING HAVING TALKED WITH NBC REPORTERS
ABOUT THE THEN UP-COMING SEGMENT FOR DATELINE. SOMEONE HAS TYPED "HACK NBC,
HACK NBC."]


DEBORAH R: And this is the man who helped teach the boys how to build
bombs.

DETH V: I'm a firm believer in freedom of information.


[SIDE VIEW, CLOSE-UP OF DETH VEGETABLE, HAIR PULLED BACK. HE
IS WEARING A
HOHOCON '93 T-SHIRT WHICH SAYS "I LOVE FEDS" ON THE FRONT. THE T-SHIRT'S
MODIFIED SLEEVES SHOW SEVERAL OF THE PUNK ROCK BAND The Misfits' SKULL LOGOS.
HE IS FURIOUSLY TYPING AWAY AT A COMPUTER.]

DEBORAH R: Meet Deth Vegetable. A 20-year-old Boston college student named Erik Skoog.


DETH V: I never really made the explosives. I never expected anyone else to.
I was 15. I didn't really think anyone would really take it seriously.


DEBORAH R: Deth Veggie says he wrote the material as a joke. Including this poem
he threw in:

[DEBORAH R READS DRAMATICALLY FROM DETH VEGETABLE'S FILE: ]


DEBORAH R: Bombs are fun,
Bombs are great,


[DETH VEGETABLE COMPLETES THE POEM, INTERRUPTING DEBORAH:]


DETH V: Bombs help you lose that excess weight...
Lose that finger, lose that limb,
Bombs help keep that body slim.

That's...it was just... I thought it was funny...


[DEBORAH ROBERTS' NARRATION DRONES OUT THE REST OF DETH VEGETABLE'S
EXPLANATION:]


DEBORAH R: But after hearing how his recipes caused three kids to lose
some of their fingers, he isn't laughing any more.


DETH V: As I found out about it I was...devastated. I mean, it's... it
never occured to me anyone would hurt themselves. It never...


DEBORAH R: Do you feel like you're to blame for what happened to those
kids?

DETH V: Um, no. I feel bad about it, but this information is out
there, whether it's my file or someone else's. There are hundreds of these
things out there...


[DEBORAH ROBERTS' NARRATION AGAIN DRONES OUT THE REST OF DETH
VEGETABLE'S

EXPLANATION. FADE TO CRUDE ANIMATMARKEYOCK-UP OF COMPUTER, KEYBOARD, CRT,
TELEPHONE AND MODEM OVER WHICH ROBERTS CONTINUES:]


DEBORAH R: And here's how Veggie's information got out there. He wrote his
bomb-making recipes and then placed them in what's called a computer bulletin
board system. Anyone with a telephone and a computer modem can call in and
read them. And there's nothing illegal about it. It's all covered under
Freedom of Speech.

[CUT TO DETH VEGETABLE AND DEBORAH ROBERTS]


DEBORAH R: Why should this information be out there anyway for kids to get
hold of?


DETH VEGETABLE: Why not? I mean...


DEBORAH R: Should kids who are 10 or 12 years old be able to find out how to
build a bomb?

DETH VEGETABLE: There shouldn't be legal limits. It's not the government's
place to limit this sort of thing. Because once you let them start
restricting one kind of information, they're going to restrict everything.


[DETH VEGETABLE IS LOGGED ONTO The Works -- A CULT OF THE DEAD COW SYSTEM.

DETH VEGETABLE IS SHOWING DEBORAH THE FILES SECTION.]


DEBORAH R: And since there are no restrictions, anyone who gets into the
bulletin boards can copy whatever they want, which is how Veggie's
information spread to Montreal, and how other bomb-making recipes made their
way to the Midwest.


[FADE TO SIGN THAT READS "BURR RIDGE." THIS IS SUBURBIA, LATE WINTER OR
EARLY SPRING.]


DEBORAH R: Burr Ridge, Illinois is a suburb of Chicago. Well-known for its
quiet streets and expensive homes. But last year it took on a different
reputation when someone began planting small bombs throughout the community,
mainly in trash cans and mailboxes. The local police called in Federal
agents and what they found shocked even the most experienced officers.

[CUT TO AN EXPERIENCED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER WITH A VERY BAD TOUPEE]


DET. JOHN MADDEN: I never expected to recover steel pipe bombs from a kid's
playhouse -- if you want to call it that, or hangout.


[CUT TO SCENE OF EXPENSIVE HOMES IN THIS QUIET SUBURBIA]


DEBORAH R: What Detective Madden uncovered was a ring of five teenagers who
planted nearly 50 home-made bombs throughout Burr Ridge and a neighboring
town. Police found an arsenal of explosives stored over the garage of one of
the boys' homes. Enough they say to blow up the entire house.


DEBORAH R: What _is_ this?

DET. MADDEN: This is home-made Napalm.


DEBORAH R: Napalm?! That's the same chemical used in Vietnam. And there was
more. Including nine pipe-bombs almost ready to go. An entire collection of
fuses. Plastic and metal pipes. And bags and cannisters of chemicals and
gun-powder.


DEBORAH R: So this would create quite an explosion.


DET. MADDEN: Exactly. The shrapnel would be the thing that does the damage.
So, you can see how heavy this steel is. And the steel fragments would be
flying at approximately 3000 feet per second.

DEBORAH R: The five would-be bomb-makers also got their information from
computer bulletin boards. Police seized these print-outs as evidence.
Inside was this document.


[CUT TO COMPUTER PRINT-OUT]


DEBORAH R: "REAL PIPE BOMBS", written by the so-called Dark Lords of Chaos.


[CUT TO OFFICIAL-LOOKING BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS LOGO, SUPER-
IMPOSED OVER MAP OF UNITED STATES.]


DEBORAH R: Kids and bomb-making are now a serious problem for the department
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

[MAP OF US HIGHLIGHTS ARIZONA, COLORADO, MISSOURI, INDIANA, ALABAMA, NEW
JERSEY, CONNECTICUT.]

Officials are investigating at least twelve cases in seven states of young
people making bombs with information they got from computer bulletin boards.

[CUT TO DETH VEGETABLE TYPING AT COMPUTER. A CAP EMBROIDERED WITH "CULT OF
THE DEAD COW"
IS CLEARLY VISIBLE ATOP HIS MONITOR.]


Just like the files we found in Montreal, written by Deth Vegetable.


[CUT TO WAREHOUSE FULL OF BOXES, REMINISCENT OF LAST SCENE IN _Raider's of
the Lost Ark_. DEBORAH ROBERTS WILL IMPLY THAT DETH VEGETABLE IS IN
COLLUSION WITH 'UNDERGROUND' PUBLISHING COMPANIES TO SPREAD DESTRUCTIVE
RECIPES TO U.S. KIDS.]

DEBORAH R: Where does Deth Vegetable get his information? Usually from a
publishing company like this one just outside Seattle. It stocks more than
800 different kinds of bizarre and unusual books with titles you might not
believe. There's a book on the _Techniques of Silent Killing_; _Execution:
Tools and Techniques_; _Kitchen-Improvised Plastic Explosives_. It sounds
like fiction. But open them up and the information is all too real.


[CUT TO DEBORAH ROBERTS WITH WHAT LOOKS LIKE THE PUBLISHER OF LOOMPANICS. HE
IS WEARING A DAY-GLO T-SHIRT THAT READS "ANARCHY IN HIGH HEELS."]


PUBLISHER: I guess I'd characterize it as books for hackers, slackers and
pistol-packers.

DEBORAH R: Michael Hoy is the owner and publisher of Loompanics Unlimited.
One of a handful of companies in the US that sells bizarre books. He's
rounded up authors who've written on subjects like: _Building Your Own
Bazooka_, _How to Commit a Successful Armed Robbery_, and _How to Make Knives
and Guns in Prison_. He also sells books on bomb-making. Including this
one: _Uncle Fester's Home Workshop Explosives_. Police say it's information
from books like these that ends up on computer bulletin boards.


DEBORAH R: What do you expect most people who order these books will do with
them? Just read them and that's it?


MICHAEL H: Yes. Yes, I do.


DEBORAH R: So why...giving recipes, step-by-step instructions on either how
to build a bomb or how to kill someone if you don't expect people will use it
in that way.

MICHAEL H: Well, the information is useful for other purposes. Any mystery
writer, for example, would benefit greatly from a lot of the books in our
catalog for research purposes.


DEBORAH R: Let me just read something. It says, "Dangerous and caustic
materials: so, a small bit of preaching is called here to help prevent
needless accidents from befalling careless experimenters." You're obviously
suggesting here that people will experiment or try these recipes and make a
bomb.


MICHAEL H: It's very possible that he's urging extreme caution and safety.


DEBORAH R: But what's the point anyway? Why even give someone instructions
on this?

MICHAEL H: It's a great American tradition to blow stuff up and blow stuff up
real good.


[CUT TO LOOMPANICS CATALOG WITH DISCLAIMER]


DEBORAH R: Hoy includes a disclaimer in his catalogs saying the books are for
adults only, but he admits he will sell to anyone who sends in an order.


DEBORAH R: How do you control the hands that these books fall into?

MICHAEL H: We don't.


DEBORAH R: Does it bother you that you don't.


MICHAEL H: Uh, no. I really don't see any way that we could be expected to.


[CUT TO CONGRESS PERSON IN AN OFFICIOUS LOOKING SETTING WITH AMERICAN FLAG IN
BACKGROUND]

CONGRESSMAN: It's an outrage...


[DEBORAH ROBERTS NARRATES: "Congressman Ed Markey is the Chairman of the
House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance which deals with
computer issues."]


MARKEY: This is an open network that sends sewage, in many instances, into
the homes and minds of children without any safeguards whatsoever.


[AS THE CONGRESSMAN AND DEBORAH ROBERTS WALK PAST THE CAPITOL BUILDING IN
WASHINGTON, DC, ROBERTS NARRATES:
"Markey says there has been no discussion
on Capitol Hill about kids and computer bomb recipes. But after hearing our
report, he says something must be done."]

DEBORAH R: Is it even feasible to think that you _could_ limit this
information when you're talking about Freedom of Speech?


MARKEY: We have laws that protect parents against dial-a-porn coming in
through the telephone. We are now going to have to construct a new set of
laws that give parents the power they need to protect their children.


[DEBORAH ROBERTS NARRATES OVER SHOT OF MICHAEL HOY: "But Michael Hoy is
confident that no law will ever stop him from selling his books. And for the
moment, orders continue to pour in. He says sales last year hit $1.4
million."]


DEBORAH R: There were some teenagers in Montreal who blew up their fingers,
essentially, by trying to build a bomb from information similar to this.

MICHAEL H: Mhm.


DEBORAH R: How do you feel when you hear that?


MICHAEL H: I don't really feel anything. I don't know these people. I'm not
happy that they hurt their fingers, or whatever, but it's not up to me to
police other people's kids. I'm not going to get into raising other people's
kids.


[DEBORAH ROBERTS NARRATES: "That's a point not lost on Congressman Markey,
who says it's up to parents to keep watch over their kids' computer habits."]

MARKEY: Parents have to wake up. They have to understand it. Their child is
at risk. That there are real dangers.


[FADE TO STONE PHILLIPS AND DATELINE NEWS DESK]


STONE PHILLIPS: Congressman Markey is pushing for hearings on Capitol Hill to
look into what can be done to stop kids from getting information on making
bombs through their home computers. What do you think should be done? Give
us some FEEDBACK.


1.900.678.4622 (95 cents per minute; 3 minute max.)

1.212.664.3330 (FAX)

dateline@news.nbc.com




Omega's comments: This whole Dateline report completely side-steps the Elansky
case. It was on Elansky's BBS in Connecticut where one copy of Deth Vegetable's file was found, nearly five years after he'd authored it. The file is not all that remarkable and by Deth Vegetable's admission, hardly anybody in the community had ever heard of it. As far as he knew, the file did not get much distribution. The file had never been downloaded from Elansky's board (according to his logs) until the day the local police motivated a 14-year-old to download it so they could bust Elansky. It was the publicity of that bust which sparked interest in Deth Vegetable's file, in the same way that the Knight Lightning bust sparked so much interest in a thoroughly boring and harmless file about the E911 system. Kids' thinking was probably something like, "If the cops busted a board over this file, this file in particular out of hundreds like it, there must be something to it. Where can I get it?!" Shortly thereafter, kids in Montreal and elsewhere called anywhere they could think of to find it.


These files have been on BBSs for over a decade. Why are kids now suddenly blowing themselves up? It's not because this kind of information has just become available to them.

And if this matter is of such great urgency, why did Dateline postpone airing this segment till nearly two months after its originally-scheduled air-date, continually pre-empting it with OJ Simpson coverage? Is OJ more of a threat to the public than the supposed proliferation of bomb-making recipes to America's teenagers?


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