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Tell us everything! Well, not quite everything…

21st February 2004, the wee hours | Comments (27)

The George Bush Center for Learning Good

Now here’s an odd thing: if you’re a terrorist with an overwhelming urge to confess, or you’re the friend of a terrorist and you’re thinking of cashing him in, the CIA have thoughtfully provided a web-based form where you can spill your guts.

The form, complete with handy further reading, has one odd feature though, and it’s odd for two reasons.

Part of their instructions read: The size of your submission may not exceed 25,000 bytes.

Now, not only is that dumb in terms of user-friendliness (I don’t know how much information 25,000 bytes is), but, what the hell are they doing limiting the amount of information they want to receive?

Bearded fiend
Hi, my name is Osama Bin Laden, you may remember hunting me in such countries as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. I run the World’s largest terrorist network and in a sudden change of heart I wish to tell you everything about my evil schemes… (24,653 bytes later) …but enough background, let me tell you my operatives’ names, their plans, and how you can stop them…
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Buddy! Can’t you read? It’s 25,000 bytes only! You had your chance and you blew it, now take a hike… come on, move along there… Okay, who’s next? Well make it snappy — no amusing childhood stories, no wretched hand-wringing, and enough with the ‘George Bush Center for Intelligence’ jokes; we’ve heard them already.

Very odd.

The Bearded Fiend

A photo of Bin Laden

As a point of interest, I just Googled “where is osama bin laden”, and while I didn’t get a definitive answer (man, Google sucks, I bet Yahoo know), I did spot one reason why the hunt may have stalled slightly: The FBI and CIA have him listed as “Usama Bin Laden”, while the rest of the World has him down as “Osama Bin Laden”. People, some communication, please.

That said, it’s not surprising that such confusion is rife, he is, after all, a Master of Disguise. His FBI Most Wanted page shows the levels this man will go to to hide his identity. Two of his known aliases are listed as: “Usama Bin Muhammad Bin Ladin”, and “Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin”.

With devilishness like that, I doubt we’ll ever capture him…

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Comments (27)

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  1. Mark Fusco:

    A byte is the equivalent of one character. Assuming an average of six characters per word (I just pulled this out of nowhere), a 25,000 byte limit would be more than 4,000 words.

    Anyone who would write 4,000 words in a web-based form should probably be detained anyway.

    Posted 1 hour after the fact
  2. Ak:

    Osama (Usama) looks very distinguished with his new specs :D

    Posted 1 hour, 1 minute after the fact
  3. Stefan:

    So dunstan, about who did you write a 25,000 byte story? That's the only reason I've come up with why you could be at the FBI's Iraqi Rewards Program site...

    Posted 1 hour, 16 minutes after the fact
  4. Zelnox:

    Funny stuff. ^_^

    Posted 2 hours, 16 minutes after the fact
  5. Colin D. Devroe:

    "I'm gonna stop at Starbucks and fill out the 'Where in the hell are these guys?' CIA web form. Be back soon." (Message on door for the local "Weapons of Mass Destruction" utility store.)

    Posted 2 hours, 32 minutes after the fact
  6. Stuart:

    I must confess, I'd never have thought of googling for "where is osama bin laden". I wonder if the CIA did? Brave new world.

    Posted 2 hours, 54 minutes after the fact
  7. Mathieu 'P01' HENRI:

    Dunstan, are you sure it's Osama on the picture ? รต__0

    Posted 3 hours, 40 minutes after the fact
  8. Kitta:

    Apparently any terrorist activities can be explained in 25,000 bytes or less. :)

    Posted 6 hours, 23 minutes after the fact
  9. Lee:

    "People, some communication, please." LMFAO

    I think you'd better add:

    And for all you Americans, this is a piece using sarcasm, it's a form of humour, not too far from irony, repeat, this is not a serious piece of commentary, well, except for the 25,000 byte limit thing."

    Posted 7 hours, 23 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  10. Dunstan:

    Actually, although I gave the Americans a ribbing a few posts ago, I get just as many daft emails from Brits as from them - so I guess lack of humour isn't geographical.

    After all, we are the Nation that has requested (directly or not) up to four series of the tv show, 'My Hero' [1], so I don't think we can be too complacent on the humour front.

    And cracker jokes - they're ours as well... I tell you, we commit some terrible crimes in the name of Comedy...


    Posted 7 hours, 39 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Lee
    Inspired: ↓ Lee, ↓ Jack
  11. Lee:

    I wasn't suggesting we don't have problems with poor humour (though it's well know British humour is by far the best, the Germans and the Canadians love it apparently) (that's another joke just in case you got confused), or that the Americans don't have any humour.

    I was just trying to ensure they didn't take your post seriously in a similar vein to your railway post of a few days ago. Just trying to cover your a** against further nasty emails.

    (Though I suspect I may be getting a few now ;) )

    Posted 7 hours, 53 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dunstan
  12. Jack:

    Hey, My Hero is a quality show! I watch it during ad breaks here in Australia (My Hero is shown on ABC which has no ad breaks).

    Talking baby = comedy gold.

    Posted 9 hours, 51 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dunstan
  13. Jeremy Flint:

    I am just going to assume that My Hero is a british show because I have never heard of it.

    That being said, there will probably be an American equivalent coming out soon. Seems to be that way with TV.

    One example: Changing Rooms = Trading Spaces.

    I know there are others, but they escape me at the moment.

    Posted 11 hours, 3 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Jennifer
  14. Andy:


    But why is your picture back to front? Is that directly from the USA?
    Are the same people hunting for Osama BL?

    Posted 11 hours, 56 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  15. Matt:

    Was anyone else freaked out by the Netscape favicon?

    Posted 19 hours, 59 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Doug
  16. Dunstan:

    I flipped the image - it's a pun on the subject, and the source of the image - The George Bush Center for Intelligence.

    Posted 23 hours, 13 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Andy
  17. James Paden:

    More to the point I the heck do they expect people to calculate 25,000kb?

    I'm tempted to submit 30,000kb to see if I'd crash the form or what would happen......but I'm sure that's a federal felony somewhere so I shouldn't be joking about it :-)

    Posted 1 day, 3 hours after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Doug
  18. Jason Kaiser:

    To Mr. Lee
    Hey, I'm an American (Indiana to be precise) and I would like you to know that we don't like this "humour" you speak of, and besides you misspelled it anyway! (you Brits always have to have just ONE more letter to feel superior don't you!) I think I read somewhere that this "humour" is a WMD.....maybe I'll send your post to the CIA!!! Humor...BAH! Who needs it.

    Posted 1 day, 10 hours after the fact
  19. Joshua:

    Haha just as thought sooner or later an american would post and prove one of many points the brits try to make against us. anyways when americans watch british tv it comes out boring as all hell. so instead of showing the series in its brit format it is then changed.
    now how many american shows are on tv in the uk that arn't even remade. you watch our crap straight.

    might add its dangerouse to watch too mutch tv :P

    From : a Lonely moronic American couch potato :D

    Posted 1 day, 16 hours after the fact
  20. Doug:

    Matt: I too was thrown off by the Netscape icon and wonder how such a thing could become part of the CIA website, even accidentally.

    James et al: In addition to the 25 kB limit, there is a strict warning not to "submit an empty comment form." Considering the fact that it would never occur to me to submit a blank form (except accidentally), I too wondered what would be the consequences. So I tried it. It responds with a convoluted error message obviously written by a computer. Apparently, this form was not reviewed by humans before being place in production.

    Posted 1 day, 19 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Matt, ↑ James Paden
  21. Trent:

    I know you were joking, but...

    Regarding Usama Vs. Osama, this is a serious problem in law enforcement.

    I'm currently doing programming for law enforcement databases. There must be at least 5 different ways people spell "Al Qaeda". This has always been a problem with gangs, but it's even worse when you have English speakers trying to write Arabic groups or names.

    Posted 2 days after the fact
  22. David:

    Hey, how come Osama's not listed on your Blogged People page? :)

    Posted 2 days, 1 hour after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  23. Dunstan:

    Because he's evil!
    No, because I forgot... fixed now - thanks David :o)

    Posted 2 days, 7 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ David
  24. Chris Hester:

    I'd suggest it's a measure aimed at preventing spam from hackers trying to fill their servers with megabytes of porn.

    Posted 3 days, 11 hours after the fact
  25. Jennifer:

    Is it just me, or does "Changing Rooms" sound like the place where you would take your baby to change its diaper (the Brits would say nappy, right)? Glad the American version is called "Trading Spaces". :)

    Posted 3 days, 21 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Jeremy Flint
  26. Neil:

    In those glasses Osama looks just like ol' whats-his-name from Digital Underground in the Humpty Dance video. Maybe Osama is closer to home than we think! (yes, I too, am an American)

    Posted 1 week, 2 days after the fact
  27. Waynes:

    I just hope all this terrorism stuff will end soon. The world doesn't need them...

    Posted 1 month, 3 weeks after the fact

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