Bombs, and the Bush Administration's
Dirty Little Secret
D. HARTUNG, Senior
New York, NY - June 11, 2002. Yesterday's announcement
by Attorney General John Ashcroft that authorities had
a Brooklyn-born Latino man in custody for involvement
in an alleged Al Qaeda plot to explode a radiological
bomb in Washington, DC underscored once again the continuing
vulnerability of the United States to a wide variety of
possible terrorist attacks.
the evidence against the suspect proves to be accurate,
the Bush administration deserves credit for heading off
this plan in its early stages," said William D. Hartung, a Senior Fellow at
the New York-based World Policy Institute.
this case also highlights the Bush administration's dirty
little secret. They
still don't have their priorities straight when it comes
to taking measures to thwart the most damaging -- or the
most likely - kinds of potential terror attacks on U.S.
D. HARTUNG, demonstrated the fragility of our "globe"
during the Nuclear Rally's
20th Anniversary on June 12, 2002, which organized by
is general agreement among experts that the most damaging
effects of a so-called "dirty bomb" "a
conventional explosive set up to disperse radioactive
materials in a populated area" would be psychological
and economic. Loss
of life would be minimal compared to the use of a nuclear
weapon, which could kill tens or hundreds of thousands
of people in a highly populated urban area. The threat of a radiological weapon still
needs to be taken seriously, however, since a crude device
would be far easier to construct and transport than a
nuclear weapon, and the fear and chaos that the use of
one or more of these devices would cause could strike
a devastating blow to the morale of the public, as well
as to the economies of the targeted areas.
the Bush administration's priorities are off the mark
when it comes to dealing with either a radiological weapon
or an actual nuclear bomb," Hartung noted.
"While the U.S. government spends nearly $9
billion per year for an unproven missile defense system
designed to protect against what many U.S. intelligence
experts argue is the least likely method a rogue state
or terrorist group would use to target the United States
with a nuclear weapon "a long-range ballistic missile
-- policymakers have barely scratched the surface in efforts
to secure radioactive materials that might be used to
construct a 'dirty' bomb or establish monitoring systems
to detect dangerous radioactive materials at major facilities
and transportation hubs." As for the threat of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands
of a terrorist group, the most important single step that
can be taken to prevent that from happening "destroying
Russia's vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and bomb-grande
nuclear materials" is completely ignored by the loophole-laden
Bush-Putin accord on nuclear arms reductions.
See William D. Hartung’s Q&A on the “dirty
bomb” case on Washington Post Online, at http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/02/nation_hartung061002.htm
See the June 10th press release from the Institue for
Energy and Environmental Research,
“Radiological Warfare Suspicions Point Up
Need for Materials Accounting and Reporting to Enhance
Security,” at www.ieer.org.
For contact information on other experts on this issue,
see the June 10th press release from the Institute
for Public Accuracy, “Interviews Available on Alleged
Nuclear Plot,” at www.accuracy.org.
212-229-5808, ext. 106