07 May 2007

Poppies...Poppies...

Even experts in concocting fantasies can go too far and come up with magical devices that no one would believe in but themselves. Take this dispatch today from the Associated Press:

An odd-looking Canadian quarter with a bright red flower was the culprit behind a false espionage warning from the Defense Department about mysterious coins with radio frequency transmitters, The Associated Press has learned.

The harmless "poppy quarter" was so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors traveling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The worried contractors described the coins as "filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology," according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the AP.

The silver-colored 25-cent piece features the red image of a poppy--Canada's flower of remembrance--inlaid over a maple leaf. The unorthodox quarter is identical to the coins pictured and described as suspicious in the contractors' accounts.

The supposed nano-technology on the coin actually was a protective coating the Royal Canadian Mint applied to prevent the poppy's red color from rubbing off. The mint produced nearly 30 million such quarters in 2004 commemorating Canada's 117,000 war dead.

"It did not appear to be electronic (analog) in nature or have a power source," wrote one U.S. contractor, who discovered the coin in the cup holder of a rental car. "Under high power microscope, it appeared to be complex consisting of several layers of clear, but different material, with a wire-like mesh suspended on top."

The confidential accounts led to a sensational warning from the Defense Security Service, an agency of the Defense Department, that mysterious coins with radio frequency transmitters were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances on at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006 as the contractors traveled through Canada.
And the poppy was presumably a sly saboteur's reference to the first President Bush's nickname.

2 comments:

Jo said...

how interesting and what a nice coin thanks for that insight.

k said...

that's very amusing!
I can't believe how something as silly as a coin could be misinterpreted as espionage.
We all the poppy coins were quite lovely and I don't think one Canadian freaked out like the American's did.
Goes to show... not everyone is against you