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

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  •  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.  


    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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