Monday, October 18, 2004

Homeland Insecurity - Episode I

I hope this won't have to become a regular feature of Boring Diatribe, but you can see by the title of the post that I'm not optimistic. This is an old story, but it recently caught my attention, and I don't recall a lot of coverage of the experiment in the news:

Customs Fails to Detect Depleted Uranium

Sept. 11, 2002 On July 4, in a train station in Europe, a suitcase containing 15 pounds of depleted uranium, shielded by a steel pipe with a lead lining, began a secret 25-day, seven-country journey. Its destination was the United States.

It was the kind of uranium that — if highly enriched — would, by some estimates, provide about half the material required for a crude nuclear device and more than enough for a so-called dirty bomb — a nightmare scenario for U.S. authorities.

"I would say that the single largest, most urgent threat to Americans today is the threat of nuclear terrorism," said Graham Allison, an expert on nuclear terrorism. Allison is the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a former assistant secretary of defense.

This suitcase's journey was not part of a terrorist plot, but rather part of an ABCNEWS investigation into whether American authorities could, in fact, stop a shipment of radioactive material. The depleted uranium packed in the suitcase was not highly enriched and therefore not dangerous, but similar in many other key respects.
ABC News Investigates

Maybe if the Bush Administration would bother to watch the borders instead of chasing ghostly threats in foreign climes, I'd feel a little safer.


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