Sunday :: Dec 2, 2007

Loose nukes


by Erin Alecto

Rachel Maddow brought this story to my attention Friday:

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia: This week's arrests of three men who allegedly tried to sell contraband uranium for US$1 million (€680,000) underscores how a shadowy black market for nuclear components has survived despite tightened security at nuclear facilities worldwide, experts said Thursday.

Slovak police said the material, believed to have originated in the former Soviet Union, was highly dangerous and could have been used in a radiological "dirty bomb" or other terrorist weapon.

Although U.N. and independent experts suggested the uranium may not have been anywhere near that lethal, officials tracking the illicit global trade in radioactive materials said the arrests pointed up the risk of nuclear substances falling into terrorist's hands.

One of the more disconcerting aspects of the incident, in Rachel's opinion and mine, is the relatively low asking price for the material; a well-organized and -funded terrorist group would have no problem coming up with the cash. Since the extent of my viewing of television news is limited to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I'm not sure how much coverage this story is getting, but I'm willing to bet not enough - especially in light of this story:

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration intends to slash counterterrorism funding for police, firefighters and rescue departments across the country by more than half next year, according to budget documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The Homeland Security Department has given $23 billion to states and local communities to fight terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks, but one document says the administration is not convinced that the money has been well spent and thinks the nation's highest-risk cities have largely satisfied their security needs.

One program on the chopping block: port security. So much for this administration's committment to keeping us safe.

Obviously, the nuclear material in the first story is not suitable for a nuclear bomb, but as we learned from 9/11, it doesn't take a huge number of American deaths to panic the populace into throwing away their rights in the pursuit of "security." Imagine what would happen if a dirty bomb were to be set off in the US. Buh-bye Constitution.

UPDATE: Guess who's just been hired back to advise Rice on nuclear proliferation issues?

Erin Alecto :: 7:07 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!