July 30, 2003 | Washington PostHey, want to make a killing shooting Yasser Arafat? What odds will you give me on a terrorist attack this summer on western tourists at the pyramids? No, it's not a hoax. It's all part of a scheme the Pentagon cooked up for a futures market on geopolitical outcomes in the Middle East. Yesterday's cancellation of the project is the latest political embarrassment for an intelligence establishment already accused of ignoring warnings about a terrorist attack and allowing itself to be manipulated into providing justification for an Iraq war. The plan is also the latest and loopiest manifestation of a near-religious belief within the Bush administration in the power of markets to solve all problems -- or at least those that can't be cured by tax cuts. The idea for using futures markets to predict world events originated at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Program Officer Michael Foster was intrigued with the political futures market run by the UNIVERSITY OF IOWA that seemed to be better at predicting the outcome of presidential elections than pollsters and pundits.
Contact: Robert Forsythe