February 7, 2009
I’ve been planning on posting about Cheney’s rant about another 9/11-style attack, but to be honest, it has made me so angry it’s been difficult and unpleasant to write about it. In case you’ve missed it, here’s what he said:
“‘When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,’ Cheney said.
Protecting the country’s security is ‘a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,’ he said. ‘These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.’
‘If it hadn’t been for what we did — with respect to the terrorist surveillance program, or enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, and so forth — then we would have been attacked again,’ he said. ‘Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the U.S.’
Cheney said ‘the ultimate threat to the country’ is ‘a 9/11-type event where the terrorists are armed with something much more dangerous than an airline ticket and a box cutter – a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind’ that is deployed in the middle of an American city.
‘That’s the one that would involve the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, and the one you have to spend a hell of a lot of time guarding against,’ he said.
‘I think there’s a high probability of such an attempt. Whether or not they can pull it off depends whether or not we keep in place policies that have allowed us to defeat all further attempts, since 9/11, to launch mass-casualty attacks against the United States.'”
I just say a few things about this idiotic, offensive babble. First of all, to insinuate that torture and indefinite incarceration should be our lines of defense against nuclear terrorism is insane. The greatest challenge for a potential nuclear terrorist is to procure the nuclear fuel for the bomb. This could be either plutonium or weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU), however, the more likely candidate is HEU, as that facilitates the use of a simpler bomb design. The actual construction and delivery of a nuclear weapon are relatively easy (that’s not to say they are easy, but are far easier than obtaining plutonium or HEU in sufficient quantity). A terrorist’s bomb could follow a simple gun-type design, as efficiency would not be a major consideration (e.g., it could be bulky and wouldn’t have to fit on a missile, and it could be of relatively low yield – even what could be termed a “dud,” say, with a 1kt yield – and still cause extensive destruction). And it could be delivered into the United States in a shipping container (relatively few are searched, and an HEU bomb in particular does not give off a great deal of radiation and can be easily shielded). Once the device is in the country, it can be taken into midtown Manhattan or Washington, D.C. in a truck.
Given that the limiting factor for the nuclear terrorist is procuring the fuel, and that there is a limited amount of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium in the world, at a limited number of places, one would think that the Bush administration’s top priority would have been to secure this fuel. It was not. The Bush administration spent several billion dollars per year on programs aimed at securing fissile material (the lion’s share in Russia and Pakistan). The Republicans in Congress have been the most outspoken critics of such programs. At the same time, the Bush administration did not hesitate to spend over a trillion dollars on an invasion and occupation of Iraq (including billions of dollars that cannot even be accounted for) that, quite probably, increased rather decreased the likelihood of a terrorist attack against the United States.
But Dick Cheney believes that if there is a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States, it will be OBAMA’S FAULT. And why? Because the Obama administration is not willing to illegally detain and torture people. And this in spite of virtually no evidence that torture has been an effective way of gathering intelligence, virtually no evidence that the Bush administration prevented even one attack on the US through such methods (we’re told that such proof is secret and will be released one day to vindicate them!), and a mountain of evidence that such interrogations are NOT effective.
A number of Republicans, in my opinion, are coming dangerously close to wishing for a terrorist attack against the United States. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen went so far as to point out that if such an attack were to occur, the Democrats would be rendered unelectable (note that 9/11 itself, which occurred on Dick Cheney’s watch, did not render the Republicans unelectable). Also – just as a side note – shouldn’t REAL Americans be named Mark instead of the Frenchie-looking Marc? Did he rename himself Freedom Thiessen after France refused to support the Iraq invasion?
The party that claimed for itself a monopoly on patriotism and all-but-in-name accused the Democrats of treason seems to have an awful lot of important people who have no qualms about pointing out the electoral advantages an attack on the United States would have for them. And now Dick Cheney appears to (a) make predictions about another attack, but this time a WMD attack; and (b) make sure that the blame for that future attack is put squarely on the Democratic president.