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View Diary: Warrantless Searches of Muslim Sites, Whistleblowers Threatened With Firing (203 comments)

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  •  Nice to see that you and (none)
    Condi "mushroom cloud" Rice are on the same page, threatwise!

    Instead of quibbling over ID, methinks this country needs a good dose of risk assessment acumen and common sense.  Or we could go on living in fear of shadows and meekly dying from things like our use of fossil fuels (at 3,000,000 deaths per year, for example, compared to a few hundred due to terrorism).

    •  Condi and I on the same page? (none)
      "Nice to see that you and Condi "mushroom cloud" Rice are on the same page, threatwise!"

      Hmmmmm, guilt by association and personal insult to boot. Well, at least a personal insult around these parts. Do I agree with Condi Rice? I dunno... depends on the policy at hand I suppose. However, I hope you agree that the administration's false WMD claims in Iraq as justification for war in no way mitigates the potential threat from WMD from real terrorists on our soil.

      As for risk assessment, I don't know the answer to that. Neither does you or anyone else posting here. Which is unfortunate - that data ought to be public so citizens can debate these issues on factual grounds. But to dismiss the threat out of hand, when even if the incident risk is small the potential for catastrophe is great, is IMO an irresponsible position for those in authority to take. Whoever might have illicit radiological material - I want law enforcement to know and confiscate that material. Never mind locking that lunatic up to boot.  --M

      Enjoy reading The Proxies, a free crime thriller in short story form.

      by maynard on Fri Dec 23, 2005 at 02:11:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I semi-apologize with the harsh comparison (none)
        with Condi - with the "semi" involving considerations that no DK poster actually deserves such harsh treatment but, on the other hand, buying into the 'terrorists have nuclear weapons' bullshit involves such a suspension of rational thought that a strongly-worded objection is in order.

        First, the whole 'dirty-bomb' scenario is very easily dismissed - while a few people would doubtless be injured (tragically enough) by the explosion itself, background levels of radiation would be minimally affected (unbeknowst to most people, it seems, is that we live in a figurative sea of radiation).

        Also, all thoughtful analyses establish it is not easy to successfully detonate an actual working nuclear weapon.  If it were, the Chechen rebels would have long since done so.  Therefore, a rational risk analysis approach - in a public policy forum - should involve discussion of issues like "is a one in a trillion chance of 100,000 people dying" (the case of nuclear terrorism) a bigger problem than "an one in one chance of 500,000 people dying from cancer and heart disease?"  Most fifth graders could do the arithmetic and come up with an answer - the American masses cannot.

        •  Apology accepted (none)
          With that out of the way, we're now both debating on rational grounds. Here the question becomes, what is the risk of terrorist groups obtaining WMD and what actions (if any) should the government (law enforcement) take to prevent a WMD catastrophe? I don't know the risk, but I do know that a single fission bomb (say 10 kilotons) would easily take out Manhattan. That is not an acceptable outcome.

          What about fissile materials getting into the hands of terrorists? I agree that terrorist organizations directly enriching fissile material is likely out of their capacity. But is it so unbelievable that North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, or Russian mobsters might make the material available at a price? Building the actual device is pretty well understood - the difficulty is in obtaining enough material for critical mass.

          Moving on from nuclear devices, what about biological or chemical? Imagine a terrorist group with the capacity to suicide-infect small pox? Or what about a group that spreads sarin nerve gas in the NY city subway system? Given that this has already happened in Tokyo, I don't think it is unreasonable to consider it a possibility.

          Yes - we US citizens should be diligent in our defense of civil liberties. Yes, by all means, lets get rid of GW Bush. He's a rotten president and well deserving of the boot. But let's not hamper law enforcement when protecting us against potential catastrophe. IMO (as a city dweller) WMD is a very real threat.  

          Cheers,
          --M

          Enjoy reading The Proxies, a free crime thriller in short story form.

          by maynard on Fri Dec 23, 2005 at 03:33:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Until the Bushies came along (none)
            Chemical and biological weapons were generally not regarded as WMDs (besides, industry and nature assault us with plenty of chemicals and infectious agents as to dwarf what a terrorist could do).

            About the nuclear boogeyman - there is simply no chance that a terrorist him or herself could construct a working device without long since killing themselves from radiation poisoning.

            Any pre-constructed, shielded, "suitcase" bombs (whose existence, btw, has never been reliably confirmed) would need to come from a so-called rogue state (it is extremely unlikely that any Soviet era devices that may have gotten loose would still be functional due to the half life of tritium, if nothing else).  As events have shown, even an evil, evil rogue state like Iraq could not construct a nuclear device and Iran with considerably more resources is struggling to do so.  By contrast, North Korea and Pakistan have - but the facilities required are the size of a small college campus and easily monitored by satellite survellence.  Besides, even rogue states such as NK would be loathe to give a fission device to terrorists because of the USA's demonstrated willingness to use these weapons in combat.

            The nuclear threat posed by terrorists simply does not live up to its hype.

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