As you know, I just returned from Las Vegas, so I'm not a person who is normally against a little innocent gambling fun, and as you also know, I'm not a big fan of the BushCo administration, but even I'm a little shocked and dismayed by stupidity of their latest scheme.
The Mid-East Terror Market Future Betting Plan would have set up an online gambling site where "players" could wager on the likelihood of assassinations, bombings, and other fun activities. The idiots behind the site? None other than your government; specifically DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Pentagon).
The Big Idea was that our "intelligence" community could interpret the likelihood of such events by seeing how the odds on them would change. They wouldn't worry about long-shots, but when something got close to even odds, they'd get into defensive mode. After all, markets are perfect, aren't they? Buyers and traders wouldn't invest their money where they have a low expectation of getting it back, right?
Let's just leave aside for a moment the absolute vileness of your government encouraging people to bet on other's misery. Let's instead think about the very real possibility of encouraging assassinations to collect on a bet. Or, how about the fact that terrorists would have inside information and be able to game the system? Example: public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden, sees that certain a certain action is a long-shot. He places the bet, has the means to get the job done, then collects his winnings money (from your government) and uses that to finance more actions against us!
Congress, in a rare act bi-partisan intelligence (which is rarer? Bi-partisanship or intelligence?) has wisely put a stop to this $8 million mistake. But, now that the idea is out there, you know some enterprising young dot-com genious is going to make a reality.
DARPA press release cancelling FutureMAP (pdf)
Yahoo! news story about Congress' reaction