Over the weekend, Bill Keller reported in The New York Times that Michael Drosnin, who believes that prophecies can be found in the Hebrew Bible if you lay its text out like a word-search puzzle, has apparently given a briefing on his nutball theory to officials of the Defense Department.
Today, in a letter to the Times, Drosnin says, yes, he has briefed U.S. officials.
If, even in a tiny corner of your brain, you wonder whether there might possibly be something to this Bible Code stuff, please go here immediately and let Brendan McKay, an Australian mathematician, reassure you that what Drosnin's trying to palm off is absolute bollocks.
Drosnin insists that there's something magical and mystical about the Bible -- only there, he says, can so many references and allusions be found. McKay disproves this, with gusto. From the links on his page you can learn, for instance, that references to Chanukkah candles are secretly encoded in War and Peace, and that many assassinations are predicted by Moby Dick, as is the death of Princess Diana. (Others have also had at the Bible Code theory -- this gentleman, for instance; alas, the fellow who, according to this page, found prophecies in the Microsoft Access Developers Toolkit 2.0 license agreement seems not to have posted his results.)
If you have a chance, go to a bookstore and look at Drosnin's book -- not the current book, The Bible Code II, which (conveniently) predicts recent cataclysms, but the first book, The Bible Code, published in 1997. You'll probably find it in the Religion section. Look for Osama bin Laden's name in the index -- not there. Look for a prediction of the 9/11 attacks -- not there either. A nuclear attack by Islamic terrorists is predicted, but its instigator is supposed to be Muammar Khaddafi (and, of course, no such thing has happened yet). Benjamin Netanyahu, elected prime minister of Israel shortly before Drosnin published his first book, figures prominently in its prophecies. Alas, he's no longer prime minister and he's not even foreign minister anymore; as Israel's new finance minister, maybe he'll bring about the Apocalypse by devaluing the shekel, but somehow I doubt it.