Sunday, March 27, 2005


Robert Seltzer: "Stupid & Inept"

In his column today Robert Seltzer is upset because various scenarios involving terrorist attacks were "inadvertently posted" onto a website in Hawaii. The scenarios included blowing up a chlorine tank, spreading pneumonic plague and infecting cattle with foot-and-mouth disease. Mr. Seltzer is mad because he feels that by posting this information onto the world wide web the Homeland Security Department is giving terrorists ideas about ways to attack us. This is absurd. He says:
The terrorists are evil and ingenious enough on their own. They do not need our stupidity and ineptitude to serve as accomplices. You can bet your duct tape on that.

No offense to Mr. Seltzer, but it is stupid and inept to think that the terrorist have not already thought of this on their own. Sure, it was stupid that this information was posted onto the web, but that is a far cry from then claiming that the act was criminally negligent, which is a leap Mr. Seltzer seems all to happy to make. Just take a look at this, from a CIA report dated January 30, 2002:
"Terrorist groups also have expressed interest in many other toxic industrial chemicals -- most of which are relatively easy to acquire and handle -- and traditional chemical agents, including chlorine and phosgene and some groups have discussed nerve agents."

"Terrorist groups are most interested in chemicals such as cyanide salts to contaminate food and water supplies or to assassinate individuals."

So as early as 2002, the CIA reported that terrorist had already considered using toxic industrial chemicals, specifically mentioning chlorine, as well as the contamination of food supplies. In fact, al Qaeda was very interested in poisoning our food supply, as documents found in Afghanistan show:
Al Qaeda's interest in American agriculture was more than academic, according to government officials. A significant part of the group's training manual is reportedly devoted to agricultural terrorism - the destruction of crops, livestock and food processing operations.

Plans to target our agricultural system were developed with good reason:
Agriculture is an obvious target for terrorists: infecting plants or animals with deadly disease is easier, cheaper and less risky than infecting humans directly; the economic consequences of a widespread attack would be enormous; and the panic and fear such an attack might reap could lead to wide-scale social disruption.

So we have evidence of two of the three scenarios Seltzer mentioned, but what about the third, biological weapons? As the Council on Foreign Relations reports, al Qaeda was experimenting with biological agents in Afghanistan prior to 9/11:
U.S. officials say they found a laboratory under construction near Kandahar that seems to have been intended for developing biological weapons...

As I already mentioned, it is almost certain that our terrorist enemies have considered anything we have thought of to prepare for, and the publishing of the documents on the web, while unfortunate, did not increase the danger to ourselves. If Mr. Seltzer would come down off his pedestal for a short while he might have known this.
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