3 years, 2 months ago
According to Bob Woodward who has recently completed his book entitled Obama’s Wars, an interesting view of terrorist attacks has emerged from the White House.
Woodward’s book portrays Obama and the White House as barraged by warnings about the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and confronted with the difficulty in preventing them. During an interview with Woodward in July, the president said, “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger.”
I’m not particularly fond of Woodward’s use of anonymous sources, but let’s assume for the moment the complete accuracy of this position. At a minimum, it hasn’t been denied by the White House. It’s difficult to imagine a more important opinion on the future of terrorist attacks on the homeland than that of the President. It’s also impossible to underestimate the horrible confusion, naivety and childlike grasp of homeland security that this opinion betrays.
I had originally passed over this quote as something that would quietly die, that didn’t really represent the thinking of the Department of Homeland Security, and that wouldn’t prevent the administration from doing what was necessary to prevent attacks on the homeland to the degree possible. But Bob Woodward was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly tonight, and neither of them actually had a problem with the quote other than simply that the President of the U.S. shouldn’t say such things in public.
In a brief attempt to address this mistaken notion of the inherent capability to absorb any attack, I will pose one that we simply cannot absorb. The scenario I am about to describe can be accomplished by simple, direct attacks and without reference to more complicated organizational skills except for weapons, dedicated fighters and effective timing. The scenario I am about to describe would quite literally destroy the economy of the nation for a long time. I am hesitant to describe it in detail; when I do this sort of thing I usually get charged with giving the terrorists ideas.
But the fact of the matter is that the terrorists already know these things, and it is important to educate the American people to the dangers right outside the gate. It’s also important to reflect on what it means to kill terrorists on foreign soil and destroy their sanctuaries rather than allow them to perpetrate attacks with which we cannot cope. That said, it’s time to describe the attack.
I don’t want to divulge too much detail concerning what could be regarded as nuclear safeguards information. But the reader will have to trust me when I say that commercial nuclear power plants are hardened. They were so prior to 9/11, but they are even more so now. They are not fertile ground for terrorist attacks, even for the most well trained, well armed and educated group of fighters. I cannot go any further in discussing the details of nuclear security, but the terrorists also know that nuclear reactors are not fertile fighting ground. Forget about them.
Not so for commercial fossil facilities. They are not hardened and not well guarded. The most vulnerable structure, system or component for large scale coal plants is the main step up transformer – that component that handles electricity at 230 or 500 kV. They are one of a kind components, and no two are exactly alike. They are so huge and so heavy that they must be transported to the site via special designed rail cars intended only for them, and only about three of these exist in the U.S.
They are no longer fabricated in the U.S., much the same as other large scale steel fabrication. It’s manufacture has primarily gone overseas. These step up transformers must be ordered years in advance of their installation. Some utilities are part of a consortium to keep one of these transformers available for multiple coal units, hoping that more will not be needed at any one time. In industrial engineering terms, the warehouse min-max for these components is a fine line.
On any given day with the right timing, several well trained, dedicated, well armed fighters would be able to force their way on to utility property, fire missiles or lay explosives at the transformer, destroy it, and perhaps even go to the next given the security for coal plants. Next in line along the transmission system are other important transformers, not as important as the main step up transformers, but still important, that would also be vulnerable to attack. With the transmission system in chaos and completely isolated due to protective relaying, and with the coal units that supply the majority of the electricity to the nation incapable of providing that power for years due to the wait for step up transformers, whole cites, heavy industry, and homes and businesses would be left in the dark for a protracted period of time, all over the nation.
The economy would collapse, regardless of how much good will and positive hope there was among the ruling elite. The hard facts of life – America in the dark – would soon become apparent to everyone, and the economy wouldn’t be able to absorb it.
That’s only one of the many possibilities, and in order to avoid the charge of divulging too much detail to terrorists, I will stop here. But suffice it to say that if you give me weapons, ordnance, time and 300 or 400 dedicated fighters with a calendar and a watch, I could collapse the economy of America.
Where would these fighters come from? Recall that we have previously discussed two very good papers on Hezbollah and their activities in the Americas. They’re around, lying in wait for orders, and it’s best not to have them on our soil. It’s best to confront them away from the infrastructure that is proving itself to be so vulnerable to their malicious aims.