August 16th, 2009

Neil Connery STARE

Realistic government assassins?

I am toying with a story about a sort of James Bond/Jason Bourne/etc. type character, but the more I think about the logistics of this guy really existing, the more I'm disturbed by my lack of ability to fact-check. Government agencies like the CIA, FBI, MI5, SIS, etc. all deny that they carry out assassinations, of course. What I really need is some credible information about what real government assassins might be like, if they exist. Some question I'd like to be able to answer include:

1. Are there any full-time assassins, per se, or would the assassinations just carried out by "dirty job" types who deal with anything dangerous where lethal force might be necessary?

2. Who are some people that the government would feel it necessary to assassinate? Other than the obvious (foreign leaders etc.), I'm having trouble figuring out why, say, MI5 would need someone to be killed rather than just dealing with them through the proper legal channels.

There was some cool information in the tags about freelance assassins, but that's a bit different. And Google mostly yields a bunch of tinfoil hat stuff about how the CIA assassinated people after Hurricane Katrina or whatever. I've tried searching "cia assassinations," "government assassinations," etc. but haven't really come up with anything useful.

I know that the "license to kill" is not necessarily a made-up concept, but I really don't want to insult my readers' intelligence by taking things too far into fantasy-land.

Thanks in advance!
Cat - Marten

Flammability of Pepper Spray

Hello. My writing partner and I have hit a bit of a snag in a story that we are writing because of one little detail.

The major question is this: What types of pepper sprays, mace, or any other kind of spray deterrents, if any, are aerosol/flammable and would they be available at all?

And the details for the story are thus: The girl is seventeen. The story is set in early 2005 in the United States. Her father is the chief of police, and gives it to her to protect herself early in the story. The spray would be ignited with a butane lighter (probably a Zippo), held in front of the nozzle of the pepper spray—an impromptu flamethrower.

We’ve done all sorts of search phrases in Google—“pepper spray flammability”, “pepper spray inflammability”, “types of pepper spray”, “pepper spray legality”—and have also pored over every site related to law, pepper spray itself, and weapons’/self-defense legality we can find. The information that we’ve gathered, however, is often conflicted, or just doesn’t say at all. We really need to be sure, however, as it’s part of a major plot point.

If I have left out any specific piece of information that may help get this question answered, I apologize and will rectify the error immediately.

ETA: Edited because of missing information (if editing the post is illegal, feel free to mod-slap me); the state this is set is Washington State.

"Hangon" ritual--supposedly also known as "Calling Back of the Spirit"

I'm looking for any information on a Japanese ritual called "Hangon"--supposedly for reviving the dead. Of course it's a bit fictional, but I want to know whatever there is about it. I've only seen very little information about it in connection to Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga, mostly because typing "hangon" into a search engine just assumes you forgot a space. I'm writing something centering a lot on Japanese occult folklore, and this would be a great addition.