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National Review Online ^ | November 26, 2009 | Clifford D. May
Posted on November 26, 2009

November 26, 2009, 0:00 a.m.

Apocalypse When?
Our enemies are contemplating attacks worse than 9/11.

By Clifford D. May

The Heritage Foundation recently convened a meeting of experts to discuss “Weapons of Mass Destruction and America’s Communities,” the various ways our terrorist enemies might attack us and our allies in the future, and what might be done to stop them. You can imagine what a merry gathering this was.

The most obvious concern: the spread of nuclear weapons. Within the group, there was consensus that if Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, is not prevented from acquiring nukes, the result will be a nuclear proliferation “cascade.” Before long, so many countries would have so many nuclear devices that the chances of terrorist groups getting their hands on at least a few would increase exponentially.

A scenario perhaps even more frightening: Terrorists using biological weapons, setting off epidemics of smallpox, Ebola virus, or other hemorrhagic fevers; a crop duster spreading ten pounds of anthrax causing more deaths than in World War II; genetically engineered pathogens — for example, a super-contagious form of HIV. A bio attack would be much easier to carry off than a nuclear attack; biological weapons can be manufactured in hidden laboratories and spread by unarmed and innocent-looking individuals.

We also discussed radiological dispersal devices (RDD), more commonly known as “dirty bombs.” Such weapons are fairly simple to construct: radioactive materials — e.g. radium, radon, thorium — are wrapped around a core of conventional explosives. Though an RDD would not carry the lethality of a nuclear or biological weapon, its psychological and economic impact could be substantial.

How else might terrorists advance toward their goal, succinctly articulated by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as “a world without America”? Adm. Mike McConnell, until February of this year the director of National Intelligence — America’s top spy — recently told Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes that he was increasingly concerned about cyber warfare, the use of computers and the Internet as weapons.

“If I were an attacker and I wanted to do strategic damage to the United States . . . I probably would sack electric power” throughout as much of the country as possible, he said. McConnell worries also about the possibility that a cyber attacker could destroy the electronic processes and records that keep track of money and its movements, thereby setting off an economic collapse.

In the same report, Jim Lewis, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Kroft: “In 2007 we probably had our electronic Pearl Harbor. It was an espionage Pearl Harbor. Some unknown foreign power, and honestly, we don’t know who it is, broke into the Department of Defense, to the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, probably the Department of Energy, probably NASA.”

Another way to destroy the electric grid as well as everything computerized: an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. In 2001 the U.S. government established a commission to “assess the threat to the United States” from an EMP attack. The commission reported to Congress that if a nuclear warhead were to be detonated at high altitude over the American mainland the blast would produce a shockwave so powerful that it would “cripple military and civilian communications, power, transportation, water, food, and other infrastructure.” Before long, millions of Americans would, as the Wall Street Journal flatly phrased it, “die of starvation or want of medical care.” The CIA has translated Iranian military journals in which EMP attacks against the U.S. are explicitly discussed.

Among the experts attending this conference, all agreed that the use of such terrorist weapons is a more serious and imminent threat than is “global warming.” Yet no summits are being organized to decide how the U.S. and other targeted nations can best defend themselves.

I would argue also — as I did at the Heritage meeting — that defensive measures alone, while necessary, are not enough. Instead, we must recognize that we are engaged in a great global conflict, one that is no less serious because it is unconventional and asymmetrical.

Outreach, engagement, and exercises in “conflict resolution” are useful when the U.S. has a dispute with Mexico or when the Netherlands disagrees with Luxembourg. But this approach makes no sense when dealing with self-proclaimed jihadis eager to use 21st-century weapons to achieve 7th-century goals.

Iran’s ruling mullahs have been killing Americans for decades — for example, in Beirut, Iraq, and most recently in Afghanistan. They write “Death to America!” on their missiles. It would be both foolhardy and irresponsible to let such extremists acquire nuclear weapons in the hope that somehow, when their capabilities match their intentions, they will suddenly decide they would prefer our respect rather than our destruction.

If we are to prevent our enemies from doing the kind of damage they intend, we must stay on offense. We need to keep our enemies nervous, under pressure, and on the run. We’ll need to go after the bad guys in their training camps, laboratories, and safe houses — wherever those may be. We’ll need to force them to continually look over their shoulders and worry that they may be killed or captured — and being captured should not mean they are rewarded with a global stage to spout their propaganda at American taxpayer expense.

We need to choose: Do we intend to advance or retreat, hunt or be hunted — win or lose? There is no fortress we can construct, no balance of power and terror we can achieve, no gesture or concession that will make us inoffensive to our enemies. When the barbarians are at the gate, you need to do more than lock up — and we haven’t even done that yet.

George Orwell articulated a fundamental rule of national security: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Most of the West is now led by people who believe that rule may have once applied but no longer. If that doesn’t keep you awake at night, nothing will.


— Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism
 

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Good read, but the public should not be fooled for one minute into thinking that we don't have people planning on stopping them or planning on their destruction.
 

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Agreed... BUT

Good read, but the public should not be fooled for one minute into thinking that we don't have people planning on stopping them or planning on their destruction.
Unfortunately those sheepdogs charged with our defense are hamstrung by the ROE they are given to work with and that may be revised from one Presidential Administration to the next. :banned: This is of course for federal DHS connected agencies. But the states usually take their cues from the feds. Already the Gorelick associated "WALLS" that separated the agencies and really prevented us from detecting the 911 plot and stopping it in time have returned after the Bush administration tore them down. :twak: Jaime Gorelick was the Clinton staffer responsible for tightly constricting all federal LEO interactions. :nono: She is an idiot but a useful one for anybody who does not truly have the nations survival at heart. Like Clinton and Like OHHHH BABY.
 

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It's never been a questions of if, but when...in my opinion, we are long over due...soon, I suspect.
I also expect Israel to strike Iran before this year is out. OMOYMV
 

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A. I think it is inevitable that someone will have to take out Iran's nuke capability.
B. There will be political and terror fallout from such an action-meaning we will be blamed and retaliated against, even if it is not us (which it won't be due to the Ditherer-in-Chief).
C. Economic and infrastructure consequences will not be fun.
 

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I absolultely believe it is coming (the next wave of attacks)...sooner, rather than later. I also believe it could likely be active shooters (a Mumbai style attack) or homicide bombers. My personal opinion is that it is imperative that individual citizens be armed and prepared (mentally, physically, and through training) to act to stop the threat when it happens.
Gonzo
 

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If terrorists strike again, I think they'll use dirty bombs and will detonate them simultaneously in several major cities.

Chaos will ensue.

It will be up to Israel to take out Iran and/or Syria's nuclear facilities.

Obama doesn't have the guts. He's too worried about offending his fellow muslims.
 

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I absolultely believe it is coming (the next wave of attacks)...sooner, rather than later. I also believe it could likely be active shooters (a Mumbai style attack) or homicide bombers. My personal opinion is that it is imperative that individual citizens be armed and prepared (mentally, physically, and through training) to act to stop the threat when it happens.
Gonzo
I believe this is the most likely way it will happen.

Maybe teams of three shooting, shooting up mails and churches and schools and other very soft targets.

As one man told me "we have not played Cowboys and Muslims yet in this country."
 

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Well of course our enemies are making these plans. Just as we have been making comparable plans against them for decades. That is a significant part of governments and their militaries through out history. Everybody makes plans. Their plans really don't matter until they actually have the capability to carry out those plans.
I find it amusing that we are so concerned over Iran getting the bomb but don't seem to have a problem with Israel having it. Israel says they need it for self defense. I have no problem with that. But are they the only ones that have that Right to nuclear self defense? We say that Iran can't be trusted because they sponsor terrorism. North Korea can't be trusted because of their history of hostility toward their neighbors.
The Soviets and the Afghan government could have claimed we sponsored terrorism during our support of the mujahedin. Should we have had to give up our nukes? How many countries have Iran or North Korea invaded in the last forty years? How many have we?
If we want to be taken seriously we need to get off our moral high horse and simply acknowledge that the reason we don't want them to have nukes is that their national interests are different than ours and we don't want them to be able to achieve their goals. That's not so hard is it?

I don't see a dirty bomb as very likely as it would be more effective as an area denial weapon. Death toll would be comparatively low. There would be the bang at detonation (not too subtle) and the first responders would pick up on the radiation pretty quickly. Unless you had a really BIG boom with a lot of material to scatter you would have a fairly limited area contaminated. Also, it would be fairly easy to identify the victims.

IIRC supposedly the only small pox left in the world are at the CDC, and a single facility in the former Soviet Union. Not too many years ago the World Health Organization destroyed 99.75% of the existing small pox vaccine because it cost them about $25k per year to store it.
We have already seen what you can do with anthrax. That was not fully weaponized military grade stuff but was professionally made. You do not need the resources of a nation/state to produce effective bio weapons.
Bio weapons are a lot more subtle than other weapons. If you have an agent that can be transfered person to person (like small pox) you can have thousands of people exposed before symptoms are present. And with our mobile society the outbreak would not be several cases turning up in one city, it would more likely be one of two cases per city scattered all over the country.
If you have something with an incubation time of several days and you are contagious for say forty eight hours before presenting symptoms, and each person infects five to ten others each day, the spread would be exponential. You could have literally thousands of people infected before the CDC had a clue. Also bio weapons don't need fancy high tech delivery systems. You could simply infect your martyrs before you drop them off at the airport for their flight to the U.S. Nothing in their bags for customs to find. No communications necessary for NSA to intercept. No support network for the FBI to discover. Just a number of people getting sick all over the country.

We as a society need to change our mind set. We have developed our military to the point where few if any foreign powers can compete in a straight up shooting war. Our policies and pursuit of our national objectives have created quite a bit of hostility toward us. People around the world know these things and know that if they want to hurt us they have to use unconventional methods. So we either have to abandon those policies and objectives (and the standard of living they have given us) or accept the reality of the world as it is and be ready to deal with it.
Are we going to get hit again? Probably.
But that is the cost of doing business.
Do I want our government to change it's policies and practices that make us a target?
Nope.
 

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I went to a Speaking Engagement about 5 years ago and the speaker was ex Israeli Massaud. He mention for every 1 successful Terrorist attack on Israel, they stopped 160 others from occurring. And they due this through "PROFILING" and having agent infiltrate various groups
 

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mcp1810 Well of course our enemies are making these plans. Just as we have been making comparable plans against them for decades. That is a significant part of governments and their militaries through out history. Everybody makes plans. Their plans really don't matter until they actually have the capability to carry out those plans.
It's not just the government sponsored threats that are a problem, it's the religious fanatics that train their followers to kill and ship them here. How many groups are flying below the radar that have been in sleeper cells for years waiting to rise up and kill us?
Hell they don't even have to fly below the radar, if their Muslim and serving in the armed forces their superiors ignore the red flags...
If our SEALS give them a bloody lip we prosecute the SEALS, what gives?
 

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Why is anyone surprised by our lack of response/resolve? We now call these terrorist attacks "man-made disasters". We think it is a great idea to bring the scum from Gitmo to our country. We hang our intelligence agents out to dry.

Seems to me we are getting exactly what we should expect.
 

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It's not just the government sponsored threats that are a problem, it's the religious fanatics that train their followers to kill and ship them here. How many groups are flying below the radar that have been in sleeper cells for years waiting to rise up and kill us?
Hell they don't even have to fly below the radar, if their Muslim and serving in the armed forces their superiors ignore the red flags...
If our SEALS give them a bloody lip we prosecute the SEALS, what gives?
So it is sort of payback for the crusades "our" guys waged against them waaaaay back when. They are just sort of late to the party.
Sleeper cells have problems of their own. If the members get together for mutual support and planning and stuff, they may attract unwanted attention and be compromised. If the members stay isolated too long they may become too immersed in the local culture and lose their inspiration. They may just fail to respond when signaled or they may actually turn and tell local officials what they know.
As far as the SEALS go...... Can't we just convict them of not being smart enough to kick the :banned: out the guy before securing him? (They should have at least been yelling "Stop resisting!" when they did it.) Then give them a severe sentence like the next time they go to a movie they can't have butter on their popcorn.
 

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So it is sort of payback for the crusades "our" guys waged against them waaaaay back when. They are just sort of late to the party.
Sleeper cells have problems of their own. If the members get together for mutual support and planning and stuff, they may attract unwanted attention and be compromised. If the members stay isolated too long they may become too immersed in the local culture and lose their inspiration. They may just fail to respond when signaled or they may actually turn and tell local officials what they know.

It would only take a few to create some small scale attacks. I'm sure when the people who set them up in this country foresaw a percentage of them being caught and some having change of heart. That's part of the reason they are in small clusters and have no communication with each other.

As far as the SEALS go...... Can't we just convict them of not being smart enough to kick the :banned: out the guy before securing him? (They should have at least been yelling "Stop resisting!" when they did it.) Then give them a severe sentence like the next time they go to a movie they can't have butter on their popcorn.
I'm all for giving them free popcorn but hey, we'll with-hold the butter and call it even.

 

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Apocalypse When? Our enemies are contemplating attacks worse than 9/11.
Strange you should mention "our enemies". Does America stand together like they once did? ('our' meaning collective). My enemy may not be the same as yours. Our nation's enemies will remain the same, and more get on board every day. We'll take care of our own, ourselves, and those we choose to when it becomes necessary. Things are not as well defined as they used to be. History is constantly being made. On the other hand, enemies seem to be a dime a dozen. Pick the corner where you'll make your stand.
 

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I find it amusing that we are so concerned over Iran getting the bomb but don't seem to have a problem with Israel having it. Israel says they need it for self defense. I have no problem with that. But are they the only ones that have that Right to nuclear self defense? We say that Iran can't be trusted because they sponsor terrorism. North Korea can't be trusted because of their history of hostility toward their neighbors.
The Soviets and the Afghan government could have claimed we sponsored terrorism during our support of the mujahedin. Should we have had to give up our nukes? How many countries have Iran or North Korea invaded in the last forty years? How many have we?
If we want to be taken seriously we need to get off our moral high horse and simply acknowledge that the reason we don't want them to have nukes is that their national interests are different than ours and we don't want them to be able to achieve their goals. That's not so hard is it?
The difference between Iran or North Korea and Israel is that the first two are run by borderline psychotics and the third is a Western style democracy. Huge difference. The old USSR and the USA found a way to avoid WWIII by waging proxy wars and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) because the leaders of both sides were rational.

We don't want them to have nukes because their national goals are the annihilation of an entire people, the subjugation of millions of others and turning back the clock to the 7th century by vaporizing cities full of innocents and terrorizing the entire non-Muslim world. Or in the case of North Korea, blackmailing the rest of the world by holding the free countries around them hostage to nuclear ICBMs. Your right, that wasn't hard. For me. How hard do you think it will be for the Administration?
 

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I was batting this around with some buddies some time ago and we sort of came to the conclusion that there could be three or four levels of terror operative looking to commence hostilities on our home soil sometime soon.

FIRST, there might be the organized cells with specific targets. The cell will have trigger pullers, support personnel to establish safe houses, documents etc and probably recon and security types. These are the folks who will have the WMD assets and be looking to score multiple 911's but oh so much worse than the original.

SECOND there would be trained terrorists with knowledge of field craft but here as sleepers. They may have been here for years. They may have been assigned specific targets or they may have been given an array of potential targets to strike under a given codeword ("GO" CODE).

THIRD would be the random trigger pullers smuggled across the Mexican border since 911. They will be dedicated Jihadis but probably limited in education and salable civilian skills. They may settle into areas with high latino populations since the two at least superficially bear a resemblance to each other in physical features. They will secure typical illegal immigrant jobs and wait to strike. These would be the ones most likely to snap and go into sudden Jihadi syndrome as may have been demonstrated in the past perhaps in this most recent recruiter murder. However, there is no telling how many of these will remain dedicated to their original objectives and how many might succumb to the allure of the American lifestyle and simply move from the mission to the dream. OTOH, there is also no telling how many of the dedicated moles will stay on task and may even recruit new members to the cause, especially if arrested for other offenses and forced to move into the correctional system.

That very correctional system would provide the last and FOURTH wave of a much larger and coordinated plan. The converted are still criminals and now it's like they have a license to kill in the name of their pagan god (lower case deliberate) which they will embrace.
 

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So it is sort of payback for the crusades "our" guys waged against them waaaaay back when. They are just sort of late to the party.
I call BS!

There was no "our guys waging a crusade" until they conquered many millions upon millions including significant portions of Europe. It's called Islamic Imperialism.

Somebody should learn some real history, as opposed to the politically correct crap out there which blames it ALL on Christians.

Now, did Christians do some heinous things? Yes. They were wrong.
But, the start of the Crusades began with Muslim invasion for the purpose of filling their coffers. That's a fact.
 

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The difference between Iran or North Korea and Israel is that the first two are run by borderline psychotics and the third is a Western style democracy. Huge difference. The old USSR and the USA found a way to avoid WWIII by waging proxy wars and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) because the leaders of both sides were rational.
Joe Stalin was rational? Not by any of the profiles I read on him. The guy was a paranoid whack job. And MAD still worked. right now they don't have MAD in that region. That strategic imbalance is one of the main reasons other countries in the region are trying to develop nuclear weapons. And Israel being a western style democracy doesn't mean squat. How long did it take Chavez to turn Venezuela? And, IIRC Hitler came to power in a western style democracy too. We have a western style democracy and it hasn't stopped us from attacking those that are in conflict with our national interests.
We don't want them to have nukes because their national goals are the annihilation of an entire people, the subjugation of millions of others and turning back the clock to the 7th century by vaporizing cities full of innocents and terrorizing the entire non-Muslim world.
No disagreement there.
Or in the case of North Korea, blackmailing the rest of the world by holding the free countries around them hostage to nuclear ICBMs.
Right, they want to be able to do what Israel can do. They just want equality. South Korea didn't have to develop nukes. They had ours there. Our allies in both regions have had the backing of American nukes for decades. They no longer have Soviet nukes to back them up. Now they can be perceived as being weak. You think keeping these "borderline psychotics" as you described them feeling inferior and threatened is the safest thing to do?
Your right, that wasn't hard. For me. How hard do you think it will be for the Administration?
This administration? I wouldn't even hazard a guess.
 

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I call BS!

There was no "our guys waging a crusade" until they conquered many millions upon millions including significant portions of Europe. It's called Islamic Imperialism.

Somebody should learn some real history, as opposed to the politically correct crap out there which blames it ALL on Christians.

Now, did Christians do some heinous things? Yes. They were wrong.
But, the start of the Crusades began with Muslim invasion for the purpose of filling their coffers. That's a fact.
Ok, so let's say the first crusade was in response to Islamic Imperialism. And the other eight? Over the next 170 years?So if we want to extend that logic the British would be justified in invading the eastern U.S. to take back their colonies that we stole from them.
Where do you draw the line?
 
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