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Videogame Character Threatens National Security? 396

Watchful Babbler writes "Apparently, 'the lead item on the government's daily threat matrix one day last April' was clear and definite: a reclusive millionaire had formed a terrorist group with the intent of launching chemical weapons attacks on Western cities. The White House was notified and the Director of the FBI briefed as the government raced to find information. But then, according to, a White House staffer decided to Google for information on suspected threat Don Emilio Fulci and found him -- in a video game - Sega's action title Headhunter. No word on exactly which sources and methods came up with this gem, but word in the E Ring is that Fulci had issued the cryptic warning, 'You have no chance to survive make your time'."
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Videogame Character Threatens National Security?

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  • Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:32PM (#9110921)
    Sounds like the government was trolled.
  • by foidulus ( 743482 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:32PM (#9110922)
    Could the world's most elaborate April fools be amiss?
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:33PM (#9110931)
    Government sues Mario. Nintendo execs in jail...
  • Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

    by DiscordOfFive ( 778099 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:33PM (#9110935) Journal
    Wow. At least we know their intel gathering stuff works.... It just can't tell reality from fantasy.
    • Aha! (Score:5, Funny)

      by sterno ( 16320 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:42PM (#9111016) Homepage
      That would explain the missing WMD's quite nicely :)
      • by macshune ( 628296 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:03PM (#9111203) Journal
        While I won't say whether I agree with the war or not, a spontaneous parody is definitely in order.

        In A.D. 2003
        War was beginning.

        Saddam: What happen?
        Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
        Operator: We get signal
        Saddam: What!
        Operator: Main screen turn on.
        Captain: It's you! We met in the '80s!
        RUMSFELD: How are you gentlemen!!
        RUMSFELD: All your Iraq are belong to U.S.
        RUMSFELD: We are on the way to your weapons of mass destruction.
        Saddam: What you say!!
        RUMSFELD: You have no chance to survive make your time.
        RUMSFELD: Ha Ha Ha Ha...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:34PM (#9110938)
    Just recruit Mario Mario and his brother Luigi Mario. They're able to stop any trouble that comes their way.

    Oh, you may need to pardon them for their mushroom usage, but it's for a good cause.
  • Is it me.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WarlockD ( 623872 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:34PM (#9110940)
    ... or is terrorism winning?

    It certainly feels like evey time we get a false positive we panic.
    • Who's "we"? I don't remember panicking about Fulci. It sounds like the only people reacting to this were FBI employees, and that's their job.
    • or in fact ask any questions or even allow yourself in the solitary darkness to in any way doubt the true path that our holy warriors have been set by our commander in chief and recipient of the true word, then the terrorists have won.

      A relocation expert from sunny Guantanamo Bay will be coming by in a few minutes to assist you in understanding the heretical error in your ways. I hope you're photogenic.

    • Re:Is it me.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:50PM (#9111101) Journal
      The poster says the lead item on the government's daily threat matrix, in quotes as though he was quoting the article, which says no such thing.

      Keep in mind the nature of the source, sort of a tongue-in-cheek political gossip column as well.

      Some guy phoned in a tip, some low-level FBI grunt kicked it up the chain - as is his job. It was later found to be a hoax and thrown out. There was no panic or mayhem.

      This happens all the time, everyone from assholes to crazies phone in to report bad guys from movies, etc. I remember reading an article about the rash of calls law enforcement got after Silence of the Lambs came out - people actually thought Hannibal Lecter was a real guy.
    • Re:Is it me.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lpangelrob2 ( 721920 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:05PM (#9111216) Journal
      Okay, fair deal. You try being National Security Advisor for a day.

      It's their job to separate real threats from, well, fantasy threats. It always has, and they happened to suck it up one September day three years ago. Repeatedly, may I add.

      What's the alternative? Close your eyes and hope? Iraq or not, September 11 or not, there's always going to be someone that doesn't like America, and there will always be people shouting "1984" when the gov't decides to do something, and people holding pictures of loved ones killed by terrorists when the gov't doesn't prevent incidents.

      Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    • It's not just you (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Barlo_Mung_42 ( 411228 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @08:41PM (#9112499) Homepage
      History shows that war on any common noun does not go well. Where are we with the war on drugs? How's that war on poverty going?

      For a war to really get traction and be effect it needs to be against a Person or Place, not just a Thing.
  • Again an example... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by j0keralpha ( 713423 ) * on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:35PM (#9110950)
    Of a very knee-jerk reaction to security here in the US... What I dont get is how Grade B (uncorroborated, domestic, single-informant) information winds up at the top of the threat matrix, unless someone was trying to play a joke?
  • by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:35PM (#9110959)
    ...that the Princess has been captured again. Good thing Google is up to date on terrorist kidnappings too.
  • CAPPS II (Score:4, Funny)

    by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <> on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:36PM (#9110961) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if he was added to the CAPPS II system as a "no fly" person.

  • by L-Train8 ( 70991 ) <> on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:36PM (#9110965) Homepage Journal
    I don't think the Dreamcast game Headhunter was ever released in the US. You can find PAL versions on eBay, and some game websites have old stories on the game, (for example, []), but the stories don't indicate a release date, or if the game ever actually came out. Only in Europe and Japan apparently, although the sequel, Headhunter: Redemption [] is slated for US release on PS2 and XBox
    • It was released in the US, on the PS2, and its initial retail price was more than I paid to have the European Dreamcast version imported (note: Dreamcast games don't have PAL/NTSC distinctions, the video output is dependent on the console used).
      • Some DC games will not display properly if you go between NTSC/PAL. This is mostly just the early ones. This is because NTSC and PAL video have different resolutions. Similarly, many games don't work in VGA mode, for the same reason. It (like NTSC and PAL) is considered to be a separate video mode.
    • As other replies mentioned, it was indeed ported the PS2 and released in the US.

      If you ask me, that was a terrorist act.
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:37PM (#9110973) Journal
    When asked for a name, he responded "I. P. Freely".

    This links comes from what amounts to a trashy "dc insider" gossip column. Though, this sort of stuff happens all the time. People phone in bogus tips all the time. If they sound legit, they get investigated.

    I also object to the articles description of Headhunter as "popular".
  • by sPaKr ( 116314 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:38PM (#9110988)
    If the US can so call intelligence community can be fooled into sending out alerts based on a Sega game how hard can it be fore AlQuda to send out false threats to yo-yo with the servalince. Since all this does is tell real people to do things sooner or later they will get tired and ignore the warnings thus allowing for a real threat to go further then it would without the DOS attack. I mean the terrorist aholes should start scaring people left and right, force the threat level up and down. How much risk is there to leak false intelligance.. then not follow through. Sooner or later we will get fed up, let our guard down and whamo they get a free ride. Jebus I really should wash my gray hat its looking darker and darker every day.
  • "Against what?"

    "Every single military installation worldwide!"

    "Really? What did it say?"

    "'All Your Base Are Belong To Us."
  • by stefanlasiewski ( 63134 ) * <> on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:39PM (#9110995) Homepage Journal
    The story is so silly it's almost unbelievable.

    But then Powell used a Graduate Student's Thesis [] to justify a war against Iraq in front of the entire world.
    • by cheezedawg ( 413482 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:20PM (#9111335) Journal
      The story is so silly it's almost unbelievable.

      Its a freaking rumor. It probably has little truth behind it.

      But then Powell used a Graduate Student's Thesis to justify a war against Iraq in front of the entire world.

      No he didn't. Here [] is the text of Powell's UN address. He didn't mention anything from the UK dossier.
      • by stefanlasiewski ( 63134 ) * <> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @01:24AM (#9114185) Homepage Journal
        He didn't mention anything from the UK dossier.

        He praised the document. Here's a quote from Powell's speech [] (On 2/5/03):

        I would call my colleagues' attention to the fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed yesterday which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities.

        The paper in question [] was "Iraq - its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation []".

        Number 10 Downing Street later admited that they plagerized a document from a Graduate Thesis [] (Search for "Iraq"). This certainly puts the quality of some of the intellegence in question.,2763,8909 16 ,00.html

        I'm not arguing with accuracy of the text itself. But look,
        this was Bush's chance to provide inarguable evidence that we should go to War.

        Powell was presenting the President's argument for War in Iraq in front of the whole world.

        The US is supposed to be the greatest nation in the world. We go to war only as a last resort and only when are arguments are sound and just. Right?

        Bush could have convinced the entire world if he had used quality evidence, when a huge percentage of the world (and the US) doubted the reasons for war.

        So what does Powell, when presenting this inarguable evidence, cite as a "fine paper"? A document was was largely lifted from a Graduate Student thesis.
  • Funny, I googled [] and got nothing but the news story. Even googling without the quotes [] doesn't give anything about the game.

    Does the US Gov't have hooks into google to prevent "Terrorist" information from being found?
  • *NSA Laughs and nervously rubs neck*
    Yeah, that Splinter Cell is just a silly ol' game too.
  • by raehl ( 609729 ) * <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:41PM (#9111012) Homepage
    NYC sewer system may be target of a disgruntled mafia splinter group, ringleaders believed to be two brothers named Mario and Luigi.
  • Here's proof... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sirgoran ( 221190 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:42PM (#9111020) Homepage Journal
    That the government flunkies don't get out enough.

    Don't they know that "all work and no play makes jack a dull boy"?

    Perhaps we need to coin a new acronym.

    How about "DSFR".

    Do Some Freaking Reasearch.

  • by HermesHuang ( 606596 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:43PM (#9111035)
    Once this story gets out someone's going to realize that they can disguise an underground movement by naming it after a video game's bad guys. Then the FBI will think it's just a video game clan.
  • Something's fishy. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jamonterrell ( 517500 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:44PM (#9111044)
    When I just googled, I saw nothing of the like... only 3 results, the usnews article was the top then some french article I didn't bother to read. Anyone know of this character or even the game? I'm not really a Sega person... speaking of which... Sega? When was the last time you saw a Sega? And htis happened last April.... hmm... something fishy.
  • Somebody better tell the US government there's flaming skull guys [] floating around too (and they look like they're up to no good).
  • Gameshark (Score:5, Funny)

    by The_Rippa ( 181699 ) * on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:45PM (#9111050)
    We'll, then all the FBI has to do is plug in their Gameshark and enter the following codes...

    Hero Is Immortal 24509328 36F055F8
    Enemies Are Blind 24109228 36705568
  • Update... (Score:3, Funny)

    by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:45PM (#9111058) Journal
    > 'the lead item on the government's daily threat matrix one day last April'

    Slight typo, that was supposed to read:
    'the lead item on the government's daily threat matrix day one last April'

  • by DrugCheese ( 266151 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:46PM (#9111066)
    Sorry Mario, but our princess is in another castle ...

  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:47PM (#9111068)
    They've already kept steps to keep this dangerous terrorist from getting his hands on a handbook for computer crime [].
  • BULLSHIT (Score:3, Funny)

    by Profane MuthaFucka ( 574406 ) <> on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:48PM (#9111077) Homepage Journal
    Try googleing on "Don Emilio Fulci" and you will get two links. One is the story that we saw, and the other is in Italian.

    Are we expected to believe that our security agents were able to decode a web page written in Italian? That's just asking us to believe too much.
  • I don't see how... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cranx ( 456394 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:51PM (#9111109)
    I don't see how so many of you conclude that the government doesn't know a real threat from a video game character. A threat can crop up in any one of a gazillion ways. Once made, they have to verify threats before they take them seriously. They did. They determined it was a video game character.

    How else does it work? Magic? When a threat comes in, they use telepathic powers to determine that any given name is a real one and not a video game character? A quick google isn't to everyone's liking?

  • by mbkennel ( 97636 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:52PM (#9111121)
    Rumors among the jihadi-message boards say that Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have started communicating to each other and their followers "in the open", under code names "Darth Sidious" and "Darth Maul".

    The National Security Agency said that comment it will not, but you mustn't underestimate the power of the Emperor.
  • Lame, really lame.
  • So, it seems that all you need to do to get a terrorist plot ignored is to frame it with the plot from a popular videogame ...
  • contrarian... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ( 745183 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:00PM (#9111178) Homepage
    (Swimming upstream to find a contrary perspective on this...)

    Consider the Pentagon folks who looked at this "threat" and suspected sagely (and rightly) that it was too fanciful to be credible.

    How closely do they resemble the Pentagon folks who, in early 2000, looked at jet-hijacking scenarios and suspected sagely (and wrongly) that they were too fanciful to be credible?

    (See answer in back of book.)

  • by HaloZero ( 610207 ) <> on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:02PM (#9111190) Homepage
    Law enforcement agencies all across the United States are searching for Tommy Vercetti []. He is wanted for a string of felonies including (but not limited to) murder, assualt, battery, weapons sales, grand larceny, and above all else Grand Theft Auto.
  • by Zhe Mappel ( 607548 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:02PM (#9111193)
    Leave it to the extremists in charge of our nation to have their wettest dreams confirmed by...a Sega game. And a subpar game at that.

    People without moral or practical imagination--the types who have gutted our liberties with the Patriot Act, and led us to invade and torture Iraqis--exemplify the kind of simpleminded sorts who shouldn't be allowed to play M-rated video games.

    Or run governments.

  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:12PM (#9111265) Homepage Journal
    So, billions of dollars later, this is what we can expect from Total Information Awareness? I'll bet a nickle that this floated up their system from being automatically gathered off people's computers and web pages. Enough hits made it right! I want a refund, my privacy back and for those morons to quit thinking that they can prevent crimes by reading my email, browsing and text on my computer.

    • Save you indignation until after we come to a collective realization that the trillions of dollars spend on Missile defense and the War on Drugs were also a giant waste of money. In some sense, worse than a waste of money. Cracking down on drugs simply made the profit margin insane. Going off and actively researching missile defense involved shredding a few disarmerment treaties with the Russians (not to mention pissing them off.)

      Back on the subject, information by it's very definition is measured by it's

  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:13PM (#9111280) Journal
    ...WMD [].
  • Way back (way back!) in 1990, Steve Jackson Games roused the ire of the US Secret Service for making a pencil and paper RPG called Cyberpunk, which was supposedly a handbook for computer crime. Never mind the fact that the game took place in a speculative future, SJG was raided. Thus began a legal wrangle that involved the nascent Electronic Frontier Foundation [] and sparked a much wider discussion about electronic civil liberties.

    In the process of fighting the Secret Service [], even with help from the EFF, Steve Jackson Games almost went under.

    BTW, I'm not saying that the Steve Jackson case is the same as the FBI's current screw-up. But law enforcement makes mistakes, and sometimes they make big mistakes because they're simply not clued in to popular culture, not to mention computer technology as it is actually used in society.

  • Et tu, Steve? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MiceHead ( 723398 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:24PM (#9111382) Homepage
    Steve Jackson Games []' venerable story on how the US Secret Service raided them [] (and was subsequently forced to pay damages) is a good read, for those who've heard of the case, but are not familiar with the details.

    On March 1 1990, the offices of Steve Jackson Games, in Austin, Texas, were raided by the U.S. Secret Service as part of a nationwide investigation of data piracy... More than three years later, a federal court awarded damages and attorneys' fees to the game company...

    The EFF also has a Top Ten most mis-reported elements [] of the case:

    10. Steve Jackson Games is a computer game company.

    9. GURPS Cyberpunk is a computer game.
    8. We're out of business.
    7. We were raided by the FBI.
    6. Some of our staff members were arrested by the Secret Service and charged with hacking.
    5. This was part of Operation Sun Devil.
    4. The raid was after GURPS Cyberpunk.
    3. There was a hacker threat to sabotage the 911 system.
    2. We have an employee named Lloyd Blankenship.
    1. Steve Jackson Games is the second largest game company in the USA.
    This instance with Sega's fictional character, though embarassing for the FBI, is certainly preferable to the above.
    I long for the day when Google stops asking me, "Did you mean: inigo rage []"
  • by unperson ( 223869 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:25PM (#9111395)
    An FBI employee recieves a detailed tip about some immenent terrorist threat. Instead of researching first, he makes a calculated judgement that since a specific threat was mentioned, he *might* just go ahead and send the info up and down the pipeline so people can be alert...after all, wouldn't it have been better to have a national bulletin that said "Immeninent attack!" at about 6:00am EST on 9/11/01 than to have a detailed summary four hours later!?

    I just don't see how we should be upset about the handling of this event. Yes, its kind of funny. The linked article seems to indicate that everything happened in the timeframe of one day. I mean, don't tell me you expected this guy to recognize some character from a video game?
  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:35PM (#9111497) Journal
    So, if I am a terrorist, all I have to do is have my name come up under some video game, or other innocuous topic [like slashdot postings] more often than fringe websites and usenet groups, and I'm free and clear with the Feds?

    heh, that will throw them off the trail. lol

  • by Black Cardinal ( 19996 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:54PM (#9111663) Homepage
    From the (extremely brief) article it sounds like the system put in place to evaluate threats worked. A potential threat was identified somehow, then dismissed once it was turned out to be a nonthreat. Its not like any action beyond evaluation was taken. Even if the "potential threat" in this case was a videogame character, I would prefer to have a human being make that call then let some automated search engine do the screening based on some rules. Whatever automated system they are using is probably only designed to identify potential threats, not evaluate them.

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra