Congressional Record: July 29, 2003 (Senate)
Page S10082-S10083

                            TRADING IN DEATH

  Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I come to the floor in part to call to 
the attention of my colleagues an article which appeared in the New 
York Times this morning. The article is entitled "Pentagon Prepares A 
Futures Market On Terror Attacks."
  The article reports that the Bush administration is prepared to spend 
$8 million on a program that actually encourages betting on the 
probability of future terrorist attacks. I am really amazed. This fits 
in that category: "We are not making this up."
  You ask whether there are traders or traitors--T-R-A-D-E-R-S or T-R-
A-I-T-O-R-S. As we understand it, even terrorists would be allowed to 
bet on the likelihood of future terrorist attacks.
  This program could provide an incentive, actually, to commit acts of 
terrorism. We are asking the administration this morning to renounce 
this plan to trade in death. The administration should issue a public 
apology, especially to the families of the victims of September 11. 
This is just wrong: The Pentagon calls its latest idea a new way of 
predicting events and part of its search for the "broadest possible 
set of new ways to prevent terrorist attacks." I don't know how one 
can possibly use the marketplace for that purpose.
  The initiative, which is called the Policy Analysis Market, is to 
begin registering up to 1,000 traders on Friday. It is the latest in a 
series of projects advanced by DARPA, a Pentagon unit that has run into 
a great deal of controversy over other issues.
  But I must say, this is perhaps the most irresponsible, outrageous, 
and poorly thought out of anything I have heard the administration 
propose to date. For the life of me, I cannot believe anybody would 
seriously propose that we trade in death, that we set up a futures 
market on when, as the Web site proposed, the King of Jordan could be 
overthrown, when a leader would be assassinated, when a terrorist 
attack would occur. Most traders try to influence their investments. 
How long would it be before you saw traders investing in a way that 
would bring about the desired result?
  I hope the administration will explain what it is they had in mind, 
why they are doing this, why we are investing taxpayer dollars in the 
probability of future terrorist attacks.
  Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. DASCHLE. I am happy to yield to the Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. I would like to ask the Senator from South Dakota, our 
distinguished minority leader, is it not true that those who find your 
statement incredulous can log on to and find 
this proposal from the Department of Defense to create some sort of 
investment speculation in the possibility of assassination and 
terrorism? Is that not a fact?
  Mr. DASCHLE. The Senator from Illinois has exactly stated the fact. can be called up on your Web site today. The Web site 
can be called up on the Internet and you can see for yourself.
  Mr. DURBIN. In fairness to the Senator, I think the reference is 
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Will the Senator please address through 
the Chair? The Senator from Nevada has the floor.
  Mr. DURBIN. I believe the Senator from South Dakota has the floor.
  Mr. DASCHLE. I sought recognition and the Chair recognized me.
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Very well. I thought the Senator yielded 
to the Senator from Nevada. The minority leader has the floor.
  Mr. DURBIN. If the minority leader would further yield, through the 
Chair, is it not true that the site referenced here is, for those who question whether what you are 
saying is accurate?
  Mr. DASCHLE. That is correct. I don't have the Internet reference in 
front of me.
  Mr. DURBIN. Is it not also, I say through the Chair, that the 
administration is proposing spending $8 million of taxpayer money 
through the year 2005 in creating this marketplace to trade in 
speculation about assassination and terrorism, $8 million over the next 
several years?
  Mr. DASCHLE. It is my understanding they are actually encouraging 
investors to trade in this terrorist probability or possibility. Their 
view is that somehow, by those who invest, in watching or monitoring 
those who invest, they can better determine where this terrorist attack 
may occur. What they don't fail to appreciate is that investors try to 
make good on their investments. So would it not stand to reason that 
once this investment was made and the market moved in the direction of 
assassinating a given leader, indeed, that would be the ultimate 
  Mr. DURBIN. If the Senator would further yield for a question, is it 
not true that on their Web site yesterday they put up some hypothetical 
things that people could invest in, questions as to whether, for 
example, Mr. Arafat, with the Palestinian Authority, would be 
assassinated, whether North Korea would launch a missile attack, 
whether the King of Jordan would be overthrown, and whether Israel 
would be attacked with bioterrorism weapons? Weren't these some of the 
items on which the Department of Defense was suggesting we start 
opening speculation and investment and betting by people around the 
world, including possible terrorists? Wasn't this on the Web site 
yesterday and removed today?

  Mr. DASCHLE. Each of the items that the Senator from Illinois has 
reported were on the Web site yesterday: When the first biological 
attack would occur in Israel, when the King of Jordan might be 
assassinated. Each of these were listed as possible investment 
opportunities. Of course, our distinguished colleagues--I cite them for 
their efforts, Senators Wyden and Dorgan--called attention to these 
particularly unusual investments, and they were pulled from the Web 
site once the fact that these were listed was made public.
  Mr. DURBIN. If the Senator would further yield, I would ask the 
Senator from South Dakota to reflect on the reaction of the United 
States and the Congress----
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Ensign). The Senator will suspend.

[[Page S10083]]

  Mr. STEVENS. Is the Pastore rule in effect at this time?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is correct.
  Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, am I not recognized on leader time?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is.
  Mr. DASCHLE. I appreciate that.
  Mr. DURBIN. If the Senator from South Dakota will further yield for a 
question, would the Senator from South Dakota indicate what his 
reaction would be if we learned that in some country overseas they were 
opening up betting on the assassination of American officials, opening 
up betting on the possibility that America would be the target of 
future terrorism? Could the Senator from South Dakota speculate on our 
reaction if a similar betting scheme were opened in some other country 
in the world?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator will address his questions through 
the Chair.
  Mr. DURBIN. Through the President, I ask whether the Senator from 
South Dakota would respond.
  Mr. DASCHLE. Responding to the Senator, I would simply say where do 
we limit this? What would prevent somebody from offering a futures 
market on terrorist acts within the United States on a leader of the 
United States? If these markets were available to leaders in the Middle 
East, countries in the Middle East, it doesn't take much of a stretch 
of the imagination to suggest that perhaps these new investment 
opportunities on terror for U.S. leaders, U.S. politicians, U.S. 
locations would be a big part of this market of death in a very short 
time. Once this is in the marketplace, as we say, there is no telling 
what the market may do.
  This is something I would encourage my 
colleagues to check out. It is the most amazing Web site I think I have 
seen in my life. I just cannot imagine that somebody seriously would 
propose something as outrageously irresponsible as this.
  Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for one final question?
  Mr. DASCHLE. I am happy to yield.
  Mr. DURBIN. I would like to ask through the Chair, it is my 
understanding from press reports that former Admiral John Poindexter 
has now been associated with this concepted idea, the same man who was 
involved in the controversy of Iran-contra and the same individual who, 
through this same office, suggested a massive intelligence-gathering 
operation across the United States involving the invasion of medical 
records, financial records, that was discredited by the administration? 
Is this the same John Poindexter who was behind this proposed scheme by 
the administration?

  Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I answer the Senator from Illinois by 
saying yes, indeed, the same John Poindexter with the checkered past 
that we have known him to have is back again. This time apparently is one of the projects for which he 
is responsible. This new trade in death is something that I am told he 
is heading. I am anxious to get more information, of course, from the 
administration and others about how this individual as well as this Web 
site came to be.
  Just very quickly, this is the Web site the Senator from Illinois 
cited, the specific possibilities for investment: The King of Jordan 
overthrown, the price they suggest starts at just 23 cents on that one. 
Arafat assassinated, that is worth 23 cents as a possibility. The price 
range may be anywhere from 22 to 33 cents. They expect a volume of 
2,333 investors.
  We can move to the second chart. This is the actual Web site from 
DARPA: King of Jordan overthrown, North Korea missile attack, Arafat 
assassinated. All of these are on the Web site.

       Whatever a prospective trader's interest in the web site, 
     the involvement in this group prediction process should prove 
     engaging and may prove profitable.

  This is one of the most intriguing parts of their assertion, that 
these actual investments in these incidences could actually prove to be 
profitable, as they consider investments in any one of these tragedies. 
I should say, investing in these incidences for purposes of profit.
  Mr. REID. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. DASCHLE. I am happy to yield.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I am wondering if the distinguished 
Democratic leader's reaction, when he and I read the front page of the 
New York Times today, was the same as mine--amazement, bewilderment--
when reading on the front of the New York Times: "Pentagon Prepares a 
Futures Market on Terrorist Attacks"?

       The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on 
     Americans to monitor potential terrorists has a new 
     experiment. It is an online futures trading market, disclosed 
     today . . . in which anonymous speculators would bet on 
     forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations, and coups.
       Traders bullish on a biological attack on Israel or bearish 
     on the chances of a North Korean missile strike would have 
     the opportunity to bet on the likelihood of such events on a 
     new Internet site established by the . . . [Pentagon].

  Did the Senator read that in disbelief?
  Mr. DASCHLE. I actually thought it was a hoax. I could not believe 
that we would actually commit $8 million to create a Web site that 
would encourage investors to bet on futures involving terrorist attacks 
and public assassinations. For the life of me, I cannot believe that we 
would spend the money this administration has committed for that 
  But, as you said, according to the article in the New York Times this 
morning, that is indeed what has happened. The Web site is up. I 
encourage my colleagues to check for 
themselves and consider what this remarkable development may mean for 
us in public policy and for the safety and security of our country as 
we consider its ramifications.
  I yield the floor.