Security theatrics and Byron Sonne

‘You guys sure as hell didn’t find any combined explosives, ’cause I didn’t make any’

Pat Hewitt/CP

“You guys sure as hell didn’t find any combined explosives, ’cause I didn’t make any.”
-Byron Sonne, under interrogation by Detective Tam Bui, June 26, 2010

It’s called “security theatre,” the bombastic display of body scanners and bomb squads paraded out in airports and at mega-events like the G-20 to deter terrorists and make us all feel safe. Does it stop terrorists who aren’t scared by the costumes and gadgets? Or does it miss them entirely while ensnaring hapless goofs who stick out from the crowd?

Those are the real questions yet to be answered in the curious case of Byron Sonne. They likely won’t be addressed until his criminal trial is over (the judge is deliberating now, verdict expected on April 23rd). That’s when, if he is cleared, Sonne has vowed to take legal action against the police for incarcerating him for 11 months and ruining his marriage and reputation.

But we may have to wait even longer for answers to the big questions, as the spectacular security show is back on. Yesterday, police bomb-squads returned to Sonne’s former residence in Forest Hill, two years after their first raid, and dug up his backyard.

They found… something, whisked it to the Leslie Street Spit in a massive convoy, and burned it. Initially they planned to detonate it, but apparently it won’t detonate. So what was in it? The cops called it “explosive material” and CTV reported that it was an “explosive device.” Most likely, it was potassium chlorate, a perfectly legal substance found in matchsticks and firecrackers (also in disinfectants and fertilizer) but which is not itself explosive. I’m no chemist, but the Internet tells me that potassium chlorate is very similar to potassium nitrate, or “saltpetre,” (which I used to buy at Shopper’s Drug Mart when I was 12 and liked to make little smoke bombs).

The remains of this new threat will soon be examined, and hopefully we’ll then learn whether Byron Sonne made a bomb or not. If not, here are some new questions:

  • If the substance was so dangerous, why did the police wait until now to dig it up and destroy it, given that they knew about it for months?
  • Is it a coincidence that the police staged the raid during Judge Spies’ deliberation?
  • Is it a coincidence that the individual cop behind the raid is detective Tam Bui, the same cop who led the investigation against Sonne and who will have the most egg on his face (and possibly, the most liability) if the case falls apart?
  • If Bui is trying to influence the verdict, will there be consequences?

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown

 




Browse

Security theatrics and Byron Sonne

  1. This whole thing smells of crooked cops and ass-covering. As far as I’m concerned, this is nothing more than trying to influence the court. No explosives, not an explosive chemical, just the cops putting on a show to further demonize Sonne.

  2. Anything to justify the horrendous ‘security’ costs and behavior of the G8/20

  3. The guy was obviously up to no good.

    •  You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    • Who Officer TAM BUI? I agree TAM BUI was up to no good and should go to prison over this.

  4. Thank you, Jesse.

  5. Disgusting behaviour on the part of police. It is so obviously a pathetic attempt to deflect from what will hopefully be a whopping lawsuit against them. Whatever happened with court rulings over their abuse of power during G20? Are there no penalties such as firings? What about everday abuse of power in the form of slaps on the wrist for ‘accidental’ deaths such as running over people using crosswalks or lights when they are in the right? Then there are the beatings of motorists and others where their charges were completely dismissed as fiction – yeah right.

  6. It sounds like a fairly direct effort to destroy evidence.

  7. What I find most disturbing is the Toronto Star’s headlines which described the seized material as “explosive” when the other media – even the right-leaning National Post – were quoting police themselves as saying that they did not know what the material was.  This is a big city newspaper?

    Your comments are the first that I have read which approached the story with any kind of skepticism.  Thank you.

  8. Scary stuff! Potassium Chlorate vs. a Candy Cane! Good thing that the residents of Forest Hill were told to stay in their basements until bomb squad officers wearing special protective gear (Oakley sunglasses) safely removed the this dangerous substance in a motorcade with “rolling blockades” all the way down to the Leslie Street Spit where its incineration could be covered on LIVE television provided by the police sycophants at CP24 and CityTV 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhJSjXmR6Hw

  9. I’ve been  great friends with Byron for years now. Here’s some info to ad to your story- The crown knew that what was in those containers was Pottasium Chlorate. They knew it was safe. Way worse hazzards travel through Toronto every day without the need for the bomb squad. Worse yet, when they “incinerated” it they used gasoline soaked hay to get the stuff to finally ignite. The “show” would have never even happened had they not done that. And it was a show for the show alone. Video feeds to all the news outlets, helicopters, moving it during rush hour rather than when the roads were clear… All theatre.

    The biggest one though- No doubt you heard of the original bail conditions Byron had on himself. I ask then, if the police thought him to be such a huge danger, why did they only stop by ONE TIME to date & simply wanted to see him? Easy. They know he’s no threat. 

    Please keep pushing on this. There’s people in the justice system who’d rather create criminals than prosecute real ones

  10. From Wikipedia (for us non-chemists): “Potassium chlorate should be handled with care. It reacts vigorously,
    and in some cases spontaneously ignites or explodes, when mixed with
    many combustible
    materials. It will burn vigorously in combination with virtually any
    combustible material, even those which are considered to be only
    slightly flammable normally (including ordinary dust and lint).” So, say a gardener comes along and while whisking away leaves with a gasoline-powered leaf blower drips fuel on the area and the potassium chlorate binds, laying in wait for a stray match or cigarette butt or kid with a magnifying glass. Or say said gardener hits the bucket with a spade, opens it and inhales the irritant (MSDS says “harmful by inhalation and direct skin contact”). This is yet another example in a series where it seems, regardless of criminal intent, Mr. Sonne gave no regard to the consequence of his actions. This should be punished in whatever manner appropriate. And our justice system’s job is to investigate and determine the nefariousness of the actions of its peripheral citizens; Sonne’s past activities are by no means everyday, sanctioned or supervised. Criminal or not, he [messed] up his own life and is now trying to blame his errors on others. What an irresponsible idiotic [person].

    • Gasoline powered leaf blower?! Have you read the data sheets on gasoline. That stuff is super dangerous! We shouldn’t trust people to use such a dangerous substance.

  11. Brown. In your own words “Most likely, it was potassium chlorate, a perfectly legal substance
    found in matchsticks and firecrackers (also in disinfectants and
    fertilizer) but which is not itself explosive. I’m no chemist, but the
    Internet tells me that potassium chlorate is very similar to potassium
    nitrate, or “saltpetre,” (which I used to buy at Shopper’s Drug Mart
    when I was 12 and liked to make little smoke bombs).” Do either of the uses you suggest possibly explain or justify why someone would but such a large quantity and bury it in a yard with the clear intent not to have the item found?
    Do you think before you write? Is there not a duty to be a responsible reporter?

Sign in to comment.