Archive for the 'Terrorism' Category



Profiling Domestic Terrorists

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 3 months ago

In July 2012 the Small Wars Journal published Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A Vision of the Future.  It was a touchstone marking their descent into weird collectivism and illegal military operations by the armed forces of the U.S.

The specific scenario was stupid beyond belief, where “extremist militia” takes over the government of Darlington, South Carolina.  My son and I got a good laugh out of that one.  The only insurrection against the local government of Darlington might occur as a result of losing the one remaining NASCAR cup race, but as an aficionado of South Carolina, I can vouch that federal troops won’t be the savior of Darlington.  They might be the target, but the local Sheriff is just as likely to side with the militia.

But laugh as we might, this is serious business, and marks a dark moment in the history of our military.  They are now willing to say out loud what wouldn’t have even been thought a hundred years ago.

Small Wars Journal continues its theme with Political Violence Prevention: Profiling Domestic Terrorists.  The paradigm the author seeks to build is right up front.

… the process of becoming a violent extremist is a series of steps that leave footprints we should be able to track”. A national standard from which to identify individuals who have left these footprints and are on the path to becoming violent would be invaluable to law enforcement, especially at the local level. Without a set standard each local law enforcement agency interprets who may or may not be a threat and what is worth reporting or investigating differently as they have different experiences and expectations about domestic terrorists and terrorism. Domestic terrorists can be identified prior to committing any terrorist attacks through a profiling systems based upon identifying factors that influence committing acts of terrorism.

The entire effort is worthy of funding and support, according to the author.

The area in which profiling could be useful is in identifying Lone Wolf terrorist attacks as they are executed nearly twice as often as other attacks. This is under the assumption that Love Wolf attacks are more successful because the clues that alert the general public and law enforcement are less apparent or non-existent. It would also involve an intelligence agency to track the individual over an extended period of time. An agency that is not concerned with arresting or detaining would be free from the pressures of cased based intelligence enabling them instead to pursue preemptive intelligence where the profiling may be useful (Chalk & Rosenau 2004).

In order to prevent domestic terrorist attacks resources should be allocated into improving existing efforts that have proven to be effective as well as into the development and implication of concepts that improve weak areas of domestic terrorist threat detection such as a profiling system.

Make no mistake about it.  If you believe that the second amendment exists to keep government tyranny in check, you make the grade.  The “thinkers” are figuring out ways to watch you and profile you before you become “violent.”

Rifles: Threat To The Nation’s Energy Grid?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.  I leave for a few minutes and this is what I come back to?

Let’s recall that in A Terrorist Attack That America Cannot Absorb, I described in some detail an attack on the main step-up transformers of the fossil fuel power plants in the nation as being perhaps the most serious threat to the economy and infrastructure that this country faced.  I also linked two papers on Hezbollah fighters already being in America.  I described an attack in which fighters destroyed the transformers completely and thoroughly enough that they could not function.  For this article I relied on a colleague at work who knows far more than I do about the subject.

David Codrea discusses the Obama administration’s reaction to this same type of threat.

Rifles, even .22 caliber models many young people receive as their first gun, are “among the greatest threats to the reliability of the nation’s power system,” U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff claimed at a Tuesday Bloomberg Government Breakfast, Bloomberg News reported yesterday.

Citing “inadequately protected” transformers as easy targets, Wellinghoff told the group that terrorists in “coordinated” actions committed to destroying them “could get 200 yards away with a .22 rifle and take the whole thing out.”

A .22 rifle.  When I learned to shoot a .22 rifle, I did my target practicing in my back yard (we lived in the country) using our aluminum trash can lid as a target.  The .22 round would penetrate that lid, but not much more.  My dad would come home from work, inspect my targeting, and let me continue.

Has Wellinghoff ever shot a .22?  Rather than focusing on Hezbollah they are focusing on backyard shooting with a .22.  Rather than working to shore up the nation’s energy grid and its vulnerabilities, they have put their attention on 200 yard shots taking “the whole thing out!”  Nothing about Hezbollah, nothing about securing the border, nothing about additional security infrastructure around these components, but hand-wringing over .22 rifles.

This is unserious.  It isn’t adult-like analysis.  It’s juvenile and childish.  As soon as I turn my back, this is the kind of twaddle that the Obama administration comes out with.  See, this is why we can’t have nice things.  Everything gets broken.

Apocalypse Now: Top Secret U.S. Nuclear Weapons Plant Infiltrated

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 1 month ago

(H/T Instapundit)

From time to time, The Captain’s Journal has posted items dealing with the shocking vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure to attack by hostile forces, as for example here.

And normally the hypothetical involves sleeper cells from Hezbollah or Iran or perhaps other hostile groups or nations.

These scenarios are scary enough on their own but it is human nature to discount the likelihood of such attacks occurring in order to avoid facing the grim possibilities.

Then we have something like this happen:

Three peace activists — including an 82-year-old nun — infiltrated the highest-security area of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in a predawn protest Saturday, reportedly evading guards and cutting through three or four fences in order to spray-paint messages, hang banners and pour human blood at the site where warhead parts are manufactured and the nation’s stockpile of bomb-grade uranium is stored.

It was an unprecedented security breach at the Oak Ridge plant, which enriched the uranium for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and continues to be a mainstay of the U.S. nuclear defense program.

The protesters, who called themselves, “Transform Now Plowshares,” were identified as Michael R. Walli, 63, Washington, D.C.; Sister Megan Rice, 82, of Nevada; and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, of Duluth, Minn. They were apprehended inside the plant around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, interviewed later by members of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General, and then transported to the Blount County Correction Center, where they reportedly face conditional federal charges of vandalism and trespassing.

Supporters of the activist group said an arraignment is set for Monday.

Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration at Y-12, declined to discuss details of the early-morning events at the Oak Ridge, but he acknowledged that the unapproved entry into the plant’s inner sanctum — a high-security zone known simply as the Protected Area — was unprecedented.
(emphasis added)

And it gets better.   The break in occurred just shortly after the nuclear facility announced plans to cut back on the number of security personnel guarding this critical facility.

Stock up folks, it’s going to be a long, nuclear winter.

Losing the Forest for the Trees: Drone Strike Kills al-Libi

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 3 months ago

Hat tip to Hot Air.

The New York Times as well as other media outlets are now confirming, along with the Obama Administration, that Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, has been killed by a drone strike in a remote, Pakistani village last week:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Central Intelligence Agency drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal belt killed Al Qaeda’s deputy leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, American officials said on Tuesday, dealing another blow to the group in a lawless area that has long been considered the global headquarters of international terrorism but the importance of which may now be slipping.

***

The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said that as a result of Mr. Libi’s death, “there is no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibility, and that puts additional pressure” on Al Qaeda, “bringing it closer to its ultimate demise than ever.”

***

If his death is borne out this time, it would be a milestone in a covert eight-year airstrike campaign that has infuriated Pakistani officials but that has remained one of the United States’ most effective tools in combating militancy.

***

One American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described Mr. Libi as one of Al Qaeda’s “most experienced and versatile leaders,” and said he had “played a critical role in the group’s planning against the West, providing oversight of the external operations efforts.”

As damaging as these “decapitation operations” may be to Al Qaeda, we seem to be losing the forest for the trees.

While the U.S. focuses on sending missiles through the windows of every, significant Al Qaeda leader that remains (and each, new one that sprouts up), the war against Militant Islam has long since moved on to other, more threatening venues.  Iran, for example, is a declared enemy of the United States, bent on developing nuclear weapons, but U.S. policy has never reflected anywhere near the seriousness accorded to Al Qaeda, despite the fact that Iran poses a threat that is orders of magnitude greater than Al Qaeda.  Islamists appear poised to take absolute control of the most populous Arab state in Egypt and are actively taking advantage of the civil war in Syria where U.S. intransigence has created a vacuum among the rebel forces.  Turkey is moving doggedly toward an Islamist state that will seek to dominate the region in direct conflict with U.S. national interests.   Pakistan seems to be increasingly in the grip of Islamists who occupy key positions in its military and intelligence services.   More ominously, Europe is increasingly subject to the influence and intimidation of Islamist immigrants who regularly resort to violence to undermine traditional, Western values.   In the U.S., any talk of Islamists or their ideology is forbidden throughout the federal government.

For all that George W. Bush may have gotten wrong during his eight years in office, and in particular with his war planning, he did understand that the United States (and the West at large) was not fighting only or even primarily against Al Qaeda, but against a broader ideology– islamofascism, if you will– that motivated not only Al Qaeda but an entire movement of muslims determined to impose fundamentalist Islam upon the world.

As a last, side note on the al-Libi assassination, we should be careful what we wish for.  The U.S. may succeed in debilitating Al Qaeda’s operation capabilities to such an extent that they will change tactics and resort to the sort of “lone wolf” terror tactics that traumatized Israeli society in the intifada days of a decade ago.  Anyone who lived as I did in the Washington, D.C. area in the Fall of 2002 well remembers how just two persons, acting on their own in seemingly random fashion, could seriously disrupt an entire region.  It is a wonder that the Islamists have not resorted to this tactic in any concerted way.  Let’s hope that they don’t.   But, considering how little strategic thinking seems to be going on in D.C., “hope” may be the only thing left.

Border War

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 9 months ago

We have previously discussed the adoption of military style tactics, techniques and procedures by the Mexican cartels, the increasing corruption of the U.S. border patrol, and the recruitment of large numbers of High Schoolers by the cartels.  After observing that the use of the National Guard is problematic for a number of reasons (including the lack of training, the lack of appropriate rules for the use of force, etc.), I recommended that:

… we view what is going on as a war against warlords and insurgents who will destabilize the state both South and even North of the border.  I have further recommended that the RUF be amended and the U.S. Marines be used to set up outposts and observation posts along the border in distributed operations, even making incursions into Mexican territory if necessary while chasing insurgents (Mexican police have used U.S. soil in pursuit of the insurgents).

While militarization of border security may be an unpalatable option for America, it is the only option that will work.  All other choices make the situation worse because it is allowed to expand and grow.  Every other option is mere window dressing.

We now know that gang members are being recruited by the cartels to do street-level jobs, and the loss of border security has wreaked ecological disaster.

“I have learned to live with trash,” said fifth-generation Arizona rancher Jim Chilton.

He saw his once-beautiful ranch, just a few miles from the border with Mexico, is now dotted with clusters of crushed trees and cactus, whole hillsides have been turned into charred eyesores, years worth of his award-winning conservation projects obliterated — and the whole thing is littered with trash, tons and tons of trash. And some of the trash was dead bodies.

Chilton had the misfortune of settling in the path of what would become a dangerous drug- and human-smuggling route on the U.S.-Mexican border, parallel with the notorious Peck Canyon Corridor.

“I’ve got 30,000 to 40,000 illegal aliens coming right through the ranch every year, and the Forest Service says each one leaves about eight pounds of trash. That means 100 tons of trash. Some cows eat the plastic bags and about 10 head a year die a slow and painful death. At $1,200 a head, that means we lose $12,000 a year to trash.”

Chilton saw southern Arizona not as the headline-grabbing political flashpoint of the Justice Department’s failed “Fast and Furious” guns-to-smugglers tracking project, but as the land-grabbing opportunism of Obama’s resource management agencies and, sadly, the failure of the U.S. Border Patrol to secure that bloody line separating the United States from Mexico.

The land-grabbing chapter of the trash story has gone largely unnoticed, but surfaced last year when the Bureau of Land Management proposed to shut down target shooting on 490,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert National Monument — and in large swaths of other public lands as well.

The reason? Monument manager Richard Hanson claimed shooters were leaving trash at the shooting sites, an outrageously trumped up excuse, but Hanson’s claim couldn’t be refuted at the time.

The BLM had closed 400,000 acres of publicly owned, national monument lands across three states to recreational shooting activities in 2010, labeling recreational shooting as a resource-harming activity and a public safety threat.

That was a clear signal showing that the SDNM move was just another step in Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s obnoxious “lock-it-up-and-kick-’em-out” plans that have drawn the ire of Congress.

If it seems that the administration is taking an un-serious view of border security (intentionally conflating the trash left by illegals with shooters), then this report shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Federal agents trying to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border say they’re hampered by laws that keep them from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land because it falls under U.S. environmental protection, leaving it to wildlife — and illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed.

A growing number of lawmakers are saying such restrictions have turned wilderness areas into highways for criminals. In recent weeks, three congressional panels, including two in the GOP-controlled House and one in the Democratic-controlled Senate, have moved to give the Border Patrol unfettered access to all federally managed lands within 100 miles of the border with Mexico.

While the cartels develop intricate intelligence networks and adopt military style tactics, the U.S. prohibits access to lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management due to EPA regulations, and blames trash at the border on shooters.  It’s no wonder that insurgents have gone hunting at the border – not hunting for animal game, but human game.

Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show.

A now-sealed federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry says the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.

Commenter Scott Wilson recommends the following:

They should take the 7th Army (and the Ghost of Patton), and all its subordinate units, and move it lock, stock & barrel to Del Rio, TX. They can then patrol the banks of the Rio Grande with Bradley’s, Apaches & Cobras. Then, let’s see how much success these border insurgents, armed with the semi-auto AKs have against that.

Germany has the strongest economy in Europe. It can afford to defend itself from Russian aggression. If it can’t, then we have PLENTY of military contractors that can sell them the weapons that they need. Europe needs to stand on its own. Our resources need to be protecting our borders, not Germany’s.

This sentiment is certainly in line with my own, but unfortunately, roving the border with Bradley Fighting Vehicles won’t work.  This requires combat outposts and Marines (or Soldiers) on foot patrol.  Infantry – not mechanized infantry – is the order of the day.

But it will require more than that.  As long as we continue to treat the border as a law enforcement endeavor, with agents subject to rules such as those outlined in the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner, with criminals imprisoned or sent back to Mexico to try it all again, we will continue to lose the war at the border.  Imprisonment of drug traffickers and illegals won’t work any more than prisons work in counterinsurgency.  Prisons are a costly ruse.

Make no mistake about it.  This isn’t a war against drugs, or a war against the drug cartels, or a war against illegal immigration, or even a war against human trafficking or Hezbollah fighters entering the U.S. at the Southern border.  This is a war for national sovereignty – a border war.

Law enforcement cannot do the job when people are afraid to call them for fear of retribution and are being told to wear body armor to work out in their own fields.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A border war.  Only when we militarize the border with combat outposts and shoot all trespassers will we even begin to wage the war on the enemy’s terms.  In spite of claims that the Posse Comitatus Act applies, this war is against non-U.S. citizens, and it is a fight for the survival of what defines America.  Presidents in both parties have seen America as an idea rather than a location with secure borders.

If America is an idea and the Southern border is to be just an imaginary line, then we have already lost.  If America deserves defending, then we must do what is both uncomfortable and necessary to effect its security.

Prior on Border War: Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Prior Featured: Analysis of Brief For The U.S. In Opposition to Sean Masciandaro

Anwar al-Awlaki, U.S. Citizen, Killed in Yemen?

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

So apparently al Qaeda propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in Yemen by a CIA-led strike.  So this raises some important questions.

First off, while my friend Michael Ledeen wants to support the Green movement in Iran, I want to do this along with (a) reversing the executive order on assassinations issued by President Ford, (b) assassinating General Suleimani, Hassan Nasrallah, and a whole host of other unsavory characters, and fomenting an insurgency inside of Iran.  I pleaded for killing Baitullah Mehsud before his name became a household word, and toasted his demise when it happened (Edit: And now that I think back on this event, quite literally I laughed out loud and celebrated his death, just as I did Zarqawi).  I haven’t changed any of my views.  So let’s not level silly charges that I’m going soft or becoming a leftist.

But we have just rained ordnance down on a U.S. citizen by executive order.  Does anyone see any problems with this?  I (think I) have divorced myself from the fact that Mr. Obama approved this; as my readers know, I am no supporter of Mr. Obama.  But while I think less highly of the high value target program’s effectiveness than he does, I  supported his approval of the mission against UBL.  UBL wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

In this case, though, things are different.  The constitution affords certain protections to U.S. citizens.  I discussed this with co-writer Glen Tschirgi and he suggested some alternative solutions to the dilemma.  For example, Congress could have issued a bill that strips U.S. citizens of their citizenship when a person identifies with a formally designated terrorist entity.  There might be a set of other reasons that a person must relinquish their citizenship.  Now, to be sure, I can think of problematic aspects of such a solution, such as the fact that we would be relying on the accuracy and viability of the U.S. State Department’s program of identification of terrorists, or possibly corruption of the process.

But the fact of the matter is that we didn’t pursue any of these approaches.  Awlaki was still a U.S. citizen when we executed him under executive order.  For some odd reason, that little thing called “due process” keeps coming to mind.

UPDATE: Kevin Williamson weighs in a bit at NRO.  David French responds at NRO with what I consider to be an uncompelling argument.  The issue doesn’t focus on the term “assassination.”  The issue focuses on the protections afforded by the constutition to U.S. citizens.  If it’s legal to execute U.S. citizens without due process, then queue the argument up.  I’ll listen.  And this isn’t analogous to stumbling upon a shooter on the field of battle who happens to be a U.S. citizen.  This is the premeditated targeting of a U.S. citizen without due process.  Again, queue up the argument for this.  Tell me how this fits within our legal framework?

Christianity And Self Examination In Light Of the Norway Killings

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 1 month ago

My regular readers may be wondering why I haven’t weighed in on the horrific killing spree perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway.  In fact, I think that it’s important for Christians to engage in honest, open self-examination in light of events such as this, as suggested by one reader at National Review Online’s Corner (in reponse to thoughts by Mark Steyn).  This sort of thing is extremely serious, and for those on the left believe that there is a sense of unease among right-leaning Christians, you are correct whether we admit it or not.  So I may as well engage in open confessions and admit what we all know to be true.

I have made my position clear on personal ownership and carryng of weapons, and Christian scholars far better than I have already made a case against gun controlBut … evil actions like those in Norway, that cause so many people, so young, to perish in such a violent way, should cause soul searching for every sane individual, and especially so for those of us who claim to carry the name of Christ.

So Mr. Breivik was apparently shooting a rifle (perhaps a Ruger Mini-14?).  He was apparently good with it.  I’m good with my rifle too, and I can put a tight group on target at 100 yards, but I don’t engage in open carry of my rifle.  I don’t engage in concealed or open carry all of the time, only when I consider the situation as warranting such security.  But this event goes to remind us that only God knows the future, and thus, my predilections on personal security and when I might need a weapon are not only foolish, but self-deceiving.

After serious reflection, I hereby vow to carry my handguns more often (both concealed and open, depending upon the circumstances).  But he was shooting a rifle, you say.  Yes, and that means that my moderate targeting skills with my handguns (in contrast to my finely-tuned skills with my rifle) need to get much better.  I hereby vow to buy more ammunition and get to the range even more often than I do.  And, I vow to continue my workouts at the gym and practice my tactics and techniques so that when the awful day comes that I need to perform tactical maneuvers against a shooter in order to defend myself or my family or friends, I am capable of doing so.  If I die defending loved ones, then I die.

As for the Mr. Breivik’s prose, I find it so inconsistent, incoherent, incomprehensible and ridiculous that it has no meaning for me at all.  With a short review of Mr. Breivik and after having sworn an oath to shoot better and more often, I think I have done my Christian duty regarding this event.  Oh, and I will pray for the families of the victims too.

Al Qaida Closer to Nukes? Don’t Bother Telling Anyone

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 5 months ago

Here is a highly disturbing article from February that I would bet most of us never saw featured in any major, U.S. newspaper or given any time on the network news.

According to the article:

Al-Qaida is on the verge of producing radioactive weapons after sourcing nuclear material and recruiting rogue scientists to build “dirty” bombs, according to leaked diplomatic documents.

A leading atomic regulator has privately warned that the world stands on the brink of a “nuclear 9/11″.

Security briefings suggest that jihadi groups are also close to producing “workable and efficient” biological and chemical weapons that could kill thousands if unleashed in attacks on the West.

Thousands of classified American cables obtained by the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph detail the international struggle to stop the spread of weapons-grade nuclear, chemical and biological material around the globe.

At a Nato meeting in January 2009, security chiefs briefed member states that al-Qaida was plotting a program of “dirty radioactive IEDs”, makeshift nuclear roadside bombs that could be used against British troops in Afghanistan.

Lest anyone think that this is an over-reaction by nervous State Department diplomats, the Indian security services have provided their own confirmation:
The briefings also state that al-Qaida documents found in Afghanistan in 2007 revealed that “greater advances” had been made in bioterrorism than was previously realized. An Indian national security adviser told American security personnel in June 2008 that terrorists had made a “manifest attempt to get fissile material” and “have the technical competence to manufacture an explosive device beyond a mere dirty bomb”.

Does anyone have the increasing feeling that we are trying to build ever stronger sandcastles?   The tide is coming in.  The U.S. had better have a well-thought out response.

On second thought, given the current Administration and its responses to international crises so far, the most sensible response may be on a personal level:  food, medicines, water and ammunition.

San Diego Port Authority: Homeland Security Has Got No Clothes!

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 7 months ago

Last week, WKGTV, a San Diego ABC News station, interviewed the Assistant Director, Al Hallor, for the San Diego port authority about security at the port.

During the interview Hallor confirmed that “weapons of mass effect” have been found by U.S. government agencies in apparent attempts to smuggle such devices into the country.

Customs and Border Protection officers clear 80 percent of all cargo before it enters the United States. Congress has mandated that they clear 100 percent of cargo imports by 2012. In San Diego, every cargo container is driven through a radiation detector before leaving San Diego’s seaport.”So, specifically, you’re looking for the dirty bomb? You’re looking for the nuclear device?” asked Blacher.”Correct. Weapons of mass effect,” Hallor said.”You ever found one?” asked Blacher.”Not at this location,” Hallor said.”But they have found them?” asked Blacher.”Yes,” said Hallor.

I could be wrong, but this would seem to qualify as a major news story.

So far, however, the only, other media source to report on this is The Daily Mail in the U.K.

The Department of Homeland Security has sought to tamp down any interest in the story and has explained Hallor’s comments as confusion or nervousness at being interviewed.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps Hallor has yet to get the Administration memo that government officials should never be honest or candid with the public about the grave threats that we face.  In that sense, Hallor is like the little boy in the nursery tale that was too innocent not to blurt out, “The Emperor’s got no clothes!”

Perhaps it is the rest of us who should be nervous.  Very nervous.

A Terrorist Attack That America Cannot Absorb

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 11 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.


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Afghanistan SOFA (4)
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AGW (1)
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