Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Bush Administration is not taking seriously the greatest threat to the nation.

Why you're right:

1. A nuclear attack by terrorists is the greatest threat facing the U.S. In last night’s vice presidential debate, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "The biggest threat we faced today is the possibility of terrorists smuggling a nuclear weapon . . . into one of our own cities and threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans." William Perry, the former secretary of defense, believes that a nuclear attack may happen within the next six years, and warns, "We’re racing toward unprecedented catastrophe. This is preventable, but we’re not doing the things that could prevent it." (CNN, New York Times)

2. Nuclear facilities in the United States are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. 40,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel at 104 nuclear facilities in the United States are still vulnerable to theft or detonation. Guard training, fire protection, security of spent nuclear fuel pools, and strategies in case of an attack are inadequate. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission still lacks a "routine, centralized process for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating security inspections to identify problems that may be common to plants." (Dept. of Homeland Security, Council on Foreign Relations, GAO)

3. The administration is not making a real commitment to nonproliferation. The Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction program has helped deactivate over 6000 nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union and the United States. The current funding level for the program is $450 million, down from its $475 million in 2000. Additionally, fewer fissile materials were secured in the two years before 9/11 than in the two years after. (Nuclear Threat Intiative, Public Law 108-87, House Democrats)

Why they're wrong:

Cheney isn’t the only administration official to recognize the threat of a nuclear terrorist attack. Bush also said, "The greatest threat before humanity today is the possibility of secret and sudden attack with chemical or biological or radiological or nuclear weapons." But, they seem to be looking in the wrong places. Iraq has not turned up any chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons and the administration continues to underfund programs with a track record of nonproliferation. (CNN)