SIX RATHER UNUSUAL PROPOSITIONS. SIX PROPOSITIONS. ABOUT. “Critical threats” to the United States. Foreign policy goals % saying “very important”. 1. Terrorism generally has only limited direct effects. --60 Minutes (CBS), 16 February 2003.
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Previous high: 329 in 1985 when Air India plane blown up by Sikhs
The mass production and widespread distribution of increasingly sophisticated and increasingly powerful man‑portable weapons will greatly add to the terrorist's arsenal and the world's increasing dependence on nuclear power may provide terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.
--Brian Jenkins, 1975
rarely, if ever, used
Aum Shinrikyo experience
spread as aerosol
explosion can destroy
World War I experience
Aum Shinrikyo in 1995: kill 12
Iraq in Halabja in 1988: 5000 dead?
Gas made war uncomfortable--to no purpose
A ton of Sarin nerve gas perfectly delivered under absolutely ideal conditions over a heavily populated area against unprotected people could cause between 3000 and 8000 deaths. Under slightly less ideal circumstances--if there was a moderate wind or if the sun was out, for example--the death rate would be only one-tenth as great
A ton of nerve gas or five tons of mustard gas could produce heavy casualties among unprotected people in an open area of one kilometer square. Even for nerve gas this would take the concentrated delivery into a rather small area of about 300 heavy artillery shells or seven 500-pound bombs
Oklahoma City 1995
Aum Shinrikyo 1995
But WWI, WTC 1993
The greatest threat is from al-Qaeda cells in the US that we have not yet identified.
al-Qaeda maintains the ability and the intent to inflict significant casualties in the US with little warning.
That threat is increasing partly because of the publicity surrounding the DC sniper shootings and the anthrax letter attacks.
--Robert Mueller February 11, 2003 testimony
FBI's counter-terrorist accomplishments in 2004
1. They picked up evidence in that year that bad guys had conducted surveillance of financial targets and called an expensive orange alert.
2. The Brits picked up some bad guys, and the FBI dutifully set up a "task force" to see if there was a "U.S. nexus" to these guys.
3. After receiving information "suggesting" an attack was being planned "possibly timed to coincide with the presidential election," they set up another "task force" consisting of "thousands of FBI personnel." Over the course of six months, these thousands of spooks found no evidence not only of a plot but even of whether "an operation was indeed being planned." On the positive side, however, he is "certain that the FBI's tremendous response to the threat [not "suggested threat" or "imagined threat"] played an integral role in disrupting any operational plans that may have been underway."
4. They made three (3) arrests. One was of a "spiritual leader" in Virginia who may actually have been worth arresting. Another was of a guy in Minneapolis who admitted to doing some sniping in Afghanistan and Chechnya in the 1990s. And the third was arrested on money laundering charges "connected" to a "possible" plot to kill a Pakistani diplomat.
--Robert Mueller February 16, 2005 testimony
2. The costs of terrorism very often come mostly from the fear and consequent reaction (or overreaction) it characteristically inspires
9/11: economic costs
If terrorists force us to redirect resources away from sensible programs and future growth, in order to pursue unachievable but politically popular levels of domestic security, then they have won an important victory that mortgages our future.
An incentive to pass along vague and unconfirmed threats of future violence, in order to protect themselves from criticism in the event of another attack.
Stay away from crowds
Treat official reassurances circumspectly
Ask yourself where you stand in the hierarchy of terrorist targets
Determine whether someone is paying too much attention to one particular thing
Keep in mind that a terrorist may be one of your customers
Be wary of odd-looking neighbors
Try yoga-type breathing exercises to relax
Separate small pets from large ones
Know the five primary means of assassination
Never take the first taxicab in line
In a department store or other crowded public place, be careful not to get trampled
Forgo eating food from salad bars or restaurant smorgasbords
Wash your hands after returning from an outing, especially if you used mass transit or a taxicab
Don’t eat, drink, or smoke around mail
In a multipurpose household, designate one person as the primary mail opener
Make it a standard practice to wash with antibacterial soap immediately after touching mail
Never shake a suspect piece of mail
Avoid long waits at U.S. border crossings
Don’t exchange currency at the airport
Never park in underground garages
Avoid aisle seats on airplanes
Spend as little time at the airport as possible
Stay away from heavily glassed areas in airports
At an airport baggage carousel, position yourself near the luggage chute
Try to fly wide-body planes, because terrorists often avoid hijacking them
The Islamists in al Qaeda, in other similar groups, and ordinary Muslims worldwide have been infected by hatred for U.S. policies toward the Muslim world. America’s support for Israel, Russia, China, India, Algeria, Uzbekistan, and others against Islamists; its protection of multiple Muslim tyrannies; its efforts to control oil policy and pricing; and its military activities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula, and elsewhere—these are the sources of the infection of hatred spreading in the Islamic world….
Until those policies change, the United States has no option but an increasingly fierce military response to the forces marshaled by bin Laden, an option that will prolong America’s survival but at as yet undreamed of costs in blood, money, and civil liberties.
--Anonymous, Imperial Hubris (2004), cheery last pages
To secure as much of our way of life as possible, we will have to use military force in the way Americans used it on the fields of Virginia and Georgia, in France and on the Pacific islands, and from skies over Tokyo and Dresden. Progress will be measured by the pace of killing and, yes, by body counts. Not the fatuous body counts of Vietnam, but precise counts that will run to extremely large numbers. The piles of dead will include as many or more civilians as combatants because our enemies wear no uniforms. Killing in large number is not enough to defeat our Muslim foes. With killing must come a Sherman‑like razing of infrastructure. Roads and irrigation systems; bridges, power plants, and crops in the field; fertilizer plants and grain mills‑‑all these and more will need to be destroyed to deny the enemy its support base. Land mines, moreover, will be massively reintroduced to seal borders and mountain passes too long, high, or numerous to close with U.S. soldiers. As noted, such actions will yield large civilian casualties, displaced populations, and refugee flows.
I would like to thank Ms. Christina Davidson who labored mightily to delete from the text excess vitriol.
--Anonymous, Imperial Hubris (2004), pp. 241-42
Myers: do away with our way of life
As serious and potentially catastrophic as a domestic CBRN attack might prove, it is highly unlikely that it could ever completely undermine the national security, much less threaten the survival, of the United States as a nation....To take any other position risks surrendering to the fear and intimidation that is precisely the terrorist's stock in trade.
WORST CASE FANTASIES
--Gilmore Commission, 1999
4. Policies designed to deal with terrorism should focus more on reducing fear and anxiety as inexpensively as possible than on objectively reducing the rather limited dangers terrorism is likely actually to pose
It is easy for us to provoke and bait....All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin...to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al‑Qaeda in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses. Our policy is one of bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. The terrorist attacks cost al‑Qaeda $500,000 while the attack and its aftermath inflicted a cost of more than $500 billion on the United States.
Get on the damn elevator! Fly on the damn plane! Calculate the odds of being har med by a terrorist! It’s still about as likely as being swept out to sea by a tidal wave….Suck it up, for crying out loud. You’re almost certainly going to be okay. And in the unlikely event you’re not, do you really want to spend your last days cowering behind plastic sheets and duct tape? That’s not a life worth living, is it?
Watch the terrorist alert and go outside again when it falls below yellow.
--John McCain, Why Courage Matters (2004)
Watch the terrorist alert and go outside again when it falls below yellow.
--John McCain, Why Courage Matters (2004)
one in 13 million
one a month
Botulism 1 in 2,000,000
Fireworks 1 in 1,000,000
Tornado 1 in 50,000
Airplane crash 1 in 20,000
Electrocution 1 in 5,000
Firearms accident 1 in 2,000
Automobile accident 1 in 100
Asteroid impact 1 in 6,000
Keep track of predictions
Check literature on witches
people tend greatly to overestimate the chances of dramatic or sensational causes of death
realistically informing people about risks sometimes only makes them more frightened
strong beliefs are very difficult to modify
a new sort of calamity tends to be taken as harbinger of future mishaps
a disaster tends to increase fears not only about that kind of danger but of all kinds
people, even professionals, are susceptible to the way risks are expressed‑‑far less likely, for example, to choose radiation therapy if told the chances of death are 32% rather than that the chances of survival are 68%
when presented with two estimations of risk from reasonably authoritative sources, people choose to embrace the high risk opinion regardless of its source; that is, there is a predilection toward alarmist responses and excessive weighting of the worst case scenario
High end of low level radiation range 10,000 total mrem
Well-known cause of cancer 30,000 total mrem
Blood cell changes, infections, temporary sterility 200,000 short-term mrem
Death with days or weeks 400,000 short-term mrem
Don’t have porcelain crowns or false teeth
Don’t use a gas camping lantern
Don’t have X-rays or a CAT Scan
Don’t live in a stone, adobe brick, or concrete building
Don’t wear a luminous wristwatch
Don’t watch TV
Don’t use a computer terminal
Don’t have a smoke detector in your home
Don’t live within 50 miles of a nuclear or coal-fired power plant
Don’t consume food or water
Live in Biloxi
Don’t fly or go to airports
40To live at 245 mrem per year:
1 mrem per two hours in the air
Airline crews: 100 mrem per year
Source: National Safety Council
5. Doing nothing (or at least refraining from overreacting) after a terrorist attack is not necessarily unacceptable
6. Despite U.S. overreaction, the campaign against terror is generally going rather well
How much security is enough: when the American people can conclude that a future attack on U.S. soil will be an exceptional event that does not require wholesale changes in how they go about their lives.
The entire nation...must be organized for the long, deadly struggle against terrorism.