Countering Terrorism Countering Terrorism There are currently more than 1500 terrorist organizations and groups being monitored in the United States. Terrorists by definition kill people and destroy property in order to advance a political agenda. We must make every effort to protect American citizens from these attacks. In the future that will require both state of the art measures to monitor terrorist activities and the movement of materials used for these activities, but also response scenarios in the event of an actual incident. The United States has consistently set a good example of no negotiations with terrorists and attempting to bring alleged terrorists to trial.
We need to support humanitarian, political, and educational efforts to decrease the incidence of terrorism across the world. That includes measures to eliminate the production and deployment of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. We need to maintain a high level of vigilance to protect the security of the United States. The FBI is the lead agency in the the fight against terrorism. This FBI has been very effective in coordinating the efforts of other agencies.
They have been successful in finding the perpetrators of terrorist activity and preventing many terrorist incidents. The problem is that no federal agency can be expected to find all of the terrorists, before they commit violent crimes. The bombing incidents at the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City are two examples. In both of these incidents, conventional explosives technology was used to kill people and destroy property. There are current efforts coordinated by the FBI to obtain intelligence on the groups that would use these methods and intercept them before the incidents occur.
These incidents will continue to require concerted efforts by national and international law enforcement agencies. But there are possible incidents that could lead to greater loss of life. Those incidents would occur if terrorists used biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. Bioterrorism Bioterrorism is using biological warfare agents to commit terrorist crimes. There are various estimates of the effects of terrorists releasing various biological weapons on an unsuspecting population.
The Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilian Biodefense suggest that the three most likely biological agents that could be used include smallpox, anthrax, and plague. There are several other bacteria, viruses, and biological toxins that are also considered candidates for biological warfare or terrorism. On October 1, 1999 Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov, a former Soviet military officer who was second in command of their biological weapons division appeared on ABC News Prime Time Live. He had defected from the Soviet Union in 1992.
He wrote a classified report at that time that this program had produced hundreds of tons of anthrax and several tons of small pox virus and plague bacteria. He said that the Russians were continuing to actively work on biological weapons. This allegation was subsequently denied by Russian officials. The most significant threat from biological weapons currently has to do with the security of the Russian supply of these materials. Because these weapons are inexpensive to produce and deploy there are concerns that they may be the agents of choice for some states that sponsor terrorist activity.
The World Health Organization has estimated the lethality of these weapons. The lethality of smallpox, anthrax, and plague are given in the table below: Agent Case Fatality Rate Treatment and Prevention Smallpox 30% Vaccination Anthrax 80% Vaccination, Antibiotics Plague 50% Vaccination, Antibiotics The Working Group on Civilian Biodefense has concluded that of the total number of known biological agents only a few would be suitable as weapons of mass destruction. Various estimates about the lethality of these agents are available. A 1993 report by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment estimates that an aircraft release of 50 pounds of anthrax spores over a large metropolitan area would result in 130,000 to 3 million deaths. This is the same magnitude of the expected casualties expected in a nuclear attack. The main problem in the case of a biological weapon attack is recognition of the illness and taking the appropriate treatment measures.
Some of the symptom presentations are difficult to figure out, and any delay in diagnosis can lead to further poor outcomes and further spread of the illness. If the attack is not announced, the only early sign may be a large increase in serious respiratory disease in a community. Nuclear Terrorism Nuclear terrorism is a consequence of nuclear proliferation and advanced technology. As early as 1980, the Soviet Union and the United States produced working suitcase sized nuclear weapons that could be used for the purpose of terrorism. The United States subsequently disposed of these weapons. Dr.
Alexie Yablokov gave testimony to the Research and Development Subcommittee in 1997 and asserted that these suitcase bombs exist and that many were unaccounted for. The Committee Chairman, Representative Curt Weldon said that in other contacts as many as 132 of these devices were built in Russia and that only 48 could be located. There was some controversy about the health effects of dispersing plutonium into the water supply or air, rather than using it for weapons. The main problem that any terrorist group would have is getting plutonium to produce a weapon. There are currently nine countries that stockpile weapons grade plutonium. They hold approximately 250 Tons of this material. The largest supplies are thought to be in Israel and India. It takes about 3-4 kg of plutonium to produce a nuclear warhead.
This stock can produce about 80,000 nuclear weapons. The real current danger in terms of the nuclear threat of terrorist suitcase bombs is the availability of weapons grade plutonium to terrorists. It is estimated that a few kilograms of this material could be purchased on the black market for several million dollars. There are rumors that attempts to make these purchases have already occurred. The availability of plutonium for sale to terrorist organizations also depends on the stability of a country’s economy.
It is thought that a destabilized economy increases the likelihood of a transaction with terrorists. To directly deal with this threat, Congress has initiated and maintained various program since 1991 to assist Russia in providing adequate security to nuclear materials, assist in dismantling weapons that were not necessary for its defense, assisting in converting reactors from plutonium production to power generation, and providing funding to research facilities so that nuclear scientists and technicians would not emigrate to other countries and provide assistance in nuclear weapons technology. These provisions are known as Nunn-Lugar after the senators who sponsored the initial bill. They are also known as Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs. What Can Be Done at This Time While researching this issue, I frequently came across expert opinion that: It is not a question of if, but when terrorists will attack using some of these weapons.
In spite of this level of concern by the experts there are no visible initiatives at the state and community level. In my opinion those initiatives should include education and organization around prevention and response to terrorist attacks. There should also be more information available on the importance of nuclear non-proliferation and assisting Russia with improving the security of its nuclear stockpiles and expert personnel. I would work on the following anti-terrorism agenda if elected: 1. Rigorous support for Nunn-Lugar or CTR programs: Preventing terrorist organizations from getting nuclear material that could be incorporated into a small device and imported into the United States is a priority. The best chance we have to do this is to assist Russian in dismantling their offensive nuclear weapons and supporting research by their current nuclear scientists into other areas.
These programs have many documented successes, and the potential cost is too high if we become less vigilant in this area. There are signs that we are becoming less willing to fund some of these measures. For example, the installation of radiation detectors at all of Russia’s border locations would cost several billion dollars. Instead we have pledged a few million dollars, or enough to put detectors at a few key locations. We clearly need more resolve in this area.
Another possible advantage of these programs may be new ideas on how to reduce and contain chemical and biological weapons. 2. Halting Production of Enriched Uranium and Plutonium: Both of these elements can be used to build nuclear weapons. The best way to assure more safety for the United States and the rest of the planet is to press for the cessation of the production of enriched Uranium and Plutonium. 3. Support for Recommendations by the Working Group on Civilian Biodefense: In the initial papers written by this group they emphasize the need for increased medical awareness and knowledge of these organisms and toxins. They also prioritize more rapid diagnostic techniques, and better knowledge about therapy, infection control, and decontamination strategies.
Where it is needed they also recommend improved vaccines and increased stockpiles and production capacities of the specific vaccine. In the case of certain bacteria, antibiotic resistance has been demonstrated in the same organisms used for weapons. The Working Group recommends further study of this resistance phenomenon. 4. Local Experts and Treatment Protocols: The knowledge of what to do in a terrorist attack that potentially involves weapons of mass destruction currently exists in a few specialized facilities in the country.
This expertise needs to be disseminated to local multidisciplinary teams and members of the medical community. These groups need access to the latest specialized information and potential hazards. If elected, I will work very hard in this area to make sure Minnesota has the local experts and they in turn have access to the information they need to respond to terrorist threats and actions. 5. Support for Current Counter Terrorism Efforts: The FBI is currently the lead agency for these efforts.
They have been successful in intercepting terrorists in this country and tracking down terrorists who have completed an act of violence. An active dialogue between this agency and Congress is needed to make sure that this agency has the.