Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 03, 2008

The WMD Terror Report Is Crap

The Congress Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism published a report titled The World At Risk.

Google News has some 770 links to news item referring it.

The scaremongering headlines say WMD strike 'likely' in five years and Nuclear, biological terror attack 'likely': US commission.

Indeed the very first graph of the executive summary reads:

The Commission believes that unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.

"More likely than not" is a chance bigger than 50%.

But nowhere in the report is there any assessment of likelihood.

The 132 pages include not one paragraph or line which makes a calculation, quantitative or qualitative, that would allow one to come to the conclusion that the executive summary asserts.

The assessment of the commission is that some terrorists would rather try to use biological weapons than nuclear stuff. It also assesses that the capacity to make WMD would require a terrorist group to hire, or win over, specialists in that field.

But there is no assessment at all on how big the chance is that some terrorist would try that or why this would be more likely than not to happen.

Essentially the first line of the report is simply crap that is not supported by anything that follows. It makes for scaremongering headlines as the media, like usual, do not care to really look into these issues.

Decent security experts like Bruce Schneider disagree that the WMD likelihood is big. As he remarks on the Mumbai attacks:

Low-tech is very effective. Movie-plot threats -- terrorists with crop dusters, terrorists with biological agents, terrorists targeting our water supplies -- might be what people worry about, but a bunch of trained (...) men with guns and grenades is all they needed.

If the simple and cheap stuff works well to terrorize, why then would anyone who wants to terrorize a bunch of people put a huge effort into some WMD stuff?

And how then can anyone come to the conclusion that the likelihood of such a WMD terrorist attack is above 50%?

It is simply irresponsible scaremongering to assert such. But obviously, scaremongering sells.

Posted by b on December 3, 2008 at 14:11 UTC | Permalink


Wasn't there a plot by ummm... homegrown Aryan supremacist sympathizers to assassinate a US President Elect? I'm certain the FBI is vigorously pursuing these terrorists, possibly even profiling Anglo Saxons.

Posted by: D. Mathews | Dec 3 2008 14:32 utc | 1

how about a nuclear power plant?

Posted by: outsider | Dec 3 2008 14:33 utc | 2

The government are the terrorists.

Posted by: James Crow | Dec 3 2008 14:53 utc | 3

why then would anyone who wants to terrorize a bunch of people put a huge effort into some WMD stuff?
And how then can anyone come to the conclusion that the likelihood of such a WMD terrorist attack is above 50%?

I could think of some possible though not necessarily plausible answers, but I think you can guess them as well.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Dec 3 2008 15:07 utc | 4


I'm pretty sure that there were all kinds of scaremongering headlines in the wake of the 2001 anthrax attacks that said pretty much the same things - in the subsequent 7 years there has not been one single, itty-bitty WMD attack at all. The only thing that comes remotely close to fitting the bill is the Litvinenko assassination - and, to be blunt, Knightsbridge barely skipped a beat in spite of the supposed radiation trail.

There have been a grand total of 2 terrorist attacks that used chem-bio agents ( note, I'm excluding the Iran-Iraq war from consideration ) - the Aum Shirinyiko attack on the Tokyo underground system and the aforementioned anthrax attack. The combined fatality toll from these 2 events is, if I'm not mistaken, fewer than 30.

Posted by: dan | Dec 3 2008 15:21 utc | 5

Yup. More crap from fear mongers. If they were serious about their job, they might read William Langewiesche's "The Atomic Bazaar."

In it he concludes that stealing bomb from Russia "would have to be a nonviolent inside job; otherwise, the bad guys would not be able to stay ahead of the posse over the 1,200 miles to the Caspian Sea or Caucasus." Same is pretty much true for everywhere else.

He continues, "terrorist attacks can be thwarted . . . but no amount of maneuvering will keep determined nations from developing nuclear arsenals." Post-colonial nations are fed up with the inequality of the nuclear order that makes it okay for the great powers and Israel to have nuclear weapons, but not for anyone else. So, Langewiesche writes, we must accept "the equalities of a maturing world in which many countries have acquired atomic bombs, and some may use them."

Methinks that Congress should spend more time worrying about the security of nuclear power plants dotting the countryside, ready made targets for someone with enough firepower. But real security might prove offensive to the nuclear power industry...

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 3 2008 15:37 utc | 6

Did anyone think they'd say otherwise?

1) The purpose of having such a commission is to justify expenditures.

2) How could such a commission report back anything less than a dire threat?

If no such attack occurs, the commission's stern warning served to wisely guide policy makers to take necessary and proper steps with all deliberate speed, blah blah blah. (didn't they stop having biblical prophets for this very reason?)

If an attack DOES occur, then the stern warning gives commission members cover and boosts their standing as experts, etc. etc.

Has such a commission ever reported back 'No reason for fear, spend money on something else that other people can be in charge of.'

(Of course, I'm excepting commissions that investigate government/corporate wrong-doing.)

Posted by: Schneb | Dec 3 2008 16:35 utc | 7

Notice how fear-mongering rodents in the security industry almost always come out of the woodwork to plague us with tales of terror when terror is already fresh on our minds. But this is nothing more than a fear tactic used by those in the security-industrial-complex to convince taxpayers to pour more public funds their way.

Posted by: Cynthia | Dec 3 2008 16:40 utc | 8

An Mombai style attack with small groups of people going into crowded Christmas malls with the guns that are so easy to obtain here would would finish doing to the US economy what the banks started.

Posted by: Sgt Dan | Dec 3 2008 17:04 utc | 9

It's not irresponsible if the purpose of the report is an attempt (futile) to keep the US as the dominant world power. For this policy to work (i.e., an ever greater part of resources directed to the military), the consent of the citizens is needed, hence the scaremongering. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Juan | Dec 3 2008 17:59 utc | 10

SD 9) And as impossible to prevent by any "improved security measures" envisioned in the "WMD's For Jesus" Commission report, no matter how many more hundred bazillions Pentagon-CIA-Blackwater straps onto it's lard gut. Even Defense folks are starting to admit the Pentagon welfare tax dole marching band is blowing mighty awful sousaphone.

Posted by: Yellow Tiber | Dec 3 2008 18:04 utc | 11

cynthia this is nothing more than a fear tactic used by those in the security-industrial-complex to convince taxpayers to pour more public funds their way.

and what might happen if they don't convince us? maybe they will treat us to a terror attack to help us along a little!

juan, For this policy to work (i.e., an ever greater part of resources directed to the military), the consent of the citizens is needed, hence the scaremongering.

or worse. there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Posted by: annie | Dec 3 2008 18:38 utc | 12

I think the reason that our rulers choose to focus on the WMD threat, rather than the much more likely low-tech threat, is that history has proven rather well that the best counter to the threat of gunmen is an informed, empowered and armed community that can react for their own defense.

But, that runs counter to the true objectives of the war on terror, which is to keep secrets and tell lies in order to justify the dis-empowerment of individuals and the stripping of liberties. So they need to give us something to be afraid about that we cannot defend _ourselves_ against. They need us to be reliant upon the big daddy security complex.

Let us hope that they are not tempted to inflict upon us what they need to accomplish those ends. I am of the opinion that we've had enough convenient "new Pearl Harbor" events for one century already.

Posted by: Li | Dec 3 2008 18:52 utc | 13

I would very much like to be able to command every world leader to write on the blackboard many many times:

All our bombs are in the hands of terrorists

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Dec 3 2008 19:55 utc | 14

Well AK47's and IED's seem fine weapons against imperial overlords, why bother with WMD?

Posted by: Sky News | Dec 3 2008 20:02 utc | 15

nuclear tipped box cutters?

Posted by: whimsy mugwump | Dec 3 2008 20:05 utc | 16

Funny, I've always taken these sorts of things as models to plans of what they intend to do. These are warnings to give them what they want.

Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity.”

Marshall McCluhan

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 3 2008 20:20 utc | 17

No,no whimsy that's, 'Occam's box cutter'.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 3 2008 20:36 utc | 18

Whenever they trot out the nuclear threat, just remember Wolfowitz' justification: "we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on [for occupying Iraq]." Ditto Iran, ditto GWOT, ditto increased "defense" spending...

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 3 2008 21:37 utc | 19

In my crystal ball the Indians react about the same way the Americans did to a brutal terrorist attack, Pakistan starts moving forces to the Indian border, the Islamists begin moving on the capital, and before the Indians get a chance to drop the bomb the United States beats them to the punch to avoid escalation and to remain the only viable threat on the planet. And then we live with the aftermath.

Posted by: Doug | Dec 4 2008 4:21 utc | 20

Commission on the Prevention of Poverty Proliferation and Homelessness Terror has just published a report titled The World As We Know It At Risk. Their recommendation was:
"You know if those 20,000 troops redeploying to domestic security inside the US were deployed to the inner cities, Compton, Houston, South Chicago, North Detroit, and in the day time they knocked down the tenements and built new housing on vacant city property, fed the homeless in canteens, taught wandering street kids, and at night patrolled drive-by galleries, that would be a satisfactory use of taxpayer money."


Posted by: Terrance Michaels | Dec 4 2008 4:38 utc | 21

keeps some rent-a-cop airport security buffions employed.

Posted by: Allen/Vancouver | Dec 4 2008 4:42 utc | 22

Road Construction work launched in Arghandab

Kandahar Surgar: Kandahar Rural Development department officials say a two kilometer road construction project in Arghandab district has been launched by the Japanese government. The road stretches 1753 m from the shrine of Baba Sahib to the village of Tabin in Arghandab district, according to the rural development departments head Engineer, Abul Latif Ashna.

The new construction work was inaugurated by the Kandahar governor, and will be completed in approximately 135 days with a project cost of 426000 USD, Mr. Ashna added, saying the construction responsibility has been handed to a trusted construction corporation which has the capacity to complete the work with quality.

In fulfilling people's demands, Mr. Ashna hoped the newly begun road project will ease many peoples' lives. The rural development head said many other projects are under way, which are expected to be completed in the near future. Mr. Ashna added to his comments to Surgar Weekly, saying he will deliver food supplies to southern districts outside Kandahar, ahead of the upcoming winter.


UNICEF: More violence towards Afghan children

Kabul Surgar: The violation of Afghan children's rights and even child sexual abuse are growing concerns, United Nations Children Emergency Fund said in its recent reports. It has been four years since Afghanistan has signed the international children rights agreement, but still attacks continue on students, children are obliged to do heavy jobs, children are recruited in military operations, sexual assaults and many other child violence-related issues are on the rise, the reports said.

The report was a collection of different data, and talked about an alleged 12 year kid who was going to carry out a suicide attack, while pointing out the thirty innocent children who lost their lives in the indiscriminate coalition forces air raids. While expressing worries over increasing child sexual abuse and enslavement, similar UN reports were publicized last year.

Analysts believe Afghanistan's rising violence and economical downturn are reasons children have no access to education and are obliged to work to survive just like adults. Despite the claims of many funding organizations that they have made endless attempts to make the lives of Afghan children better and safer, the increasing level of violence shows they have failed to meet their criterion.

Jamil, a poor kid who looks tired and has along face, was washing a customer's car to earn money to meet his family's daily life's needs when he told Surgar weekly he has a deep interest in going to school, if he is provided with that golden opportunity. The distressed boy spoke in a thin sorrowful voice as he urged the Afghan government and international communities to help children like him by providing the opportunity to get an education, instead of slipping into the endless cycle of indentured servitude.


Khalili: Help prevent a human catastrophe

Kabul Surgar: While considering the nationwide food supplies shortage a matter of utmost seriousness, the second Afghan vice president Mohammad Karim Khalili said if the international communities failed to provide help in order to avoid a disaster of unprecedented magnitude, there is high possibility that six million Afghans will facing famine in the upcoming winter, leading to the starvation of thousands.

Khalili, spoke at a conference in Kabul on November 23rd, saying hunger is a more important issue than what the international community's considers it. Famine is related to poppy growth for cash instead of grain production, due to the insecurity in the country. If famine is prevented, both the poppy growth and insecurity will be reduced as well, Mr. Khalili said. He urged the international funding communities to fight the famine by granting emergency food relief in order to save thousands of Afghan lives.

Chris Alexander, a United Nations staffer, also criticized international communities for not providing enough food. The UN has warned before that unless people who live in far remote areas of the country are provided food now, that millions of Afghans may face possible famine, even as the winter begins.


6 policemen publicly tried in local court

Kandahar Surgar: The Kandahar province judicial military court has put 6 policemen on trial who were alleged to have lost an Afghan National Army "ranger" vehicle to militants. On November 22nd, one of the prosecuting attorneys announcing the cases said the six policemen allegedly drove up from Panjwaye district to Kandahar city to buy fire wood, but upon their return back to the district, they took a dirt road leading to a sandy area of the city. According to the attorney, the policemen allegedly took the dirt road due to a disagreement, when the police car got stuck in sand, which lead them to flee.

Taking benefit of the opportunity, militants took the police vehicle without facing any resistance.

In order to save our younger friends, we took the sub road, the police chief, Ahmad Shah, testified. The judge and the military court head, General Mohammad Yusaf Safi, found Ahmad Shah guilty and imprisoned him for 12 years, ordering him to pay back the government 28000 USD; the vehicle's cost.

Four of the other policemen tried were imprisoned, each with a four year sentence. A young police cadet who was under 18 was released due to his youth. The six policemen had the right to defend themselves and their defending attorneys made an effort to defend their actions, but to no avail.

Kandahar residents welcome public trials and the capture of criminals by the military district attorney's office, urging the court to arrest those police commanders who are accused of crimes.


Japan Faces Deep Recession, Central Banks Cut Rates

Reuters | 03 Dec 2008 | 09:40 PM ET: Japan may be in a deeper recession than first thought as businesses cut spending because of the worsening global recession, which will likely force central banks in Britain and Europe to slash interest rates later on Thursday. Rates are at historical lows, with Japan's lending rate essentially zero, and the US lending rate at only one per-cent.

China pledged to support U.S. efforts to stabilize financial markets, even as Chinese currency devalues, and said its biggest contribution to the cause is its pursuit of fast, stable growth in the face of what some economists believe is the sharpest global economic slowdown since World War Two.

Japanese companies cut investment in the third quarter by a higher-than-expected 13 percent from a year ago, a report showed, leading economists to expect gross domestic product data, which initially already showed contraction, will be adjusted lower.

"With the decline in capital spending this big, it's likely that third-quarter gross domestic product will be revised down," said Kyohei Morita, chief economist with Barclays Capital. "There's a growing chance that Japan's economy will remain in recession until the second quarter of next year."


500 chefs, 4,000 lobsters and Kylie - recession Dubai style

The Guardian, Friday November 21 2008: The real world rarely intrudes on the artificial playground of Dubai. And last night, the global financial collapse seemed far behind as one of the most outlandish architectural extravagances of recent times opened with a £15m celebration in the company of A-list stars and a feast of 4,000 lobsters.

For the 2,000 guests, it was a heady cocktail of sunshine and as much champagne and oysters as they could wish for. Kylie Minogue was given her very own fiscal stimulus, a £2m cheque to perform at the party thrown by South African tycoon Sol Kerzner, 73, to launch the Atlantis Palm Jumeirah hotel.

Four Michelin-starred chefs masterminded the food, helped by 500 sous chefs and 1,000 waiters. To accompany Minogue's performance, Kerzner laid on a £3m firework show, said to be seven times grander than that which marked the opening of the Beijing Olympics. Among the guests were Robert de Niro, Janet Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Michael Jordan, Charlize Theron, Mischa Barton, and Agyness Deyn. Sir Philip Green, Dame Shirley Bassey, Yasmin Le Bon, Jade Jagger, Lily Allen and Lindsay Lohan also joined the celebrations.


Won't you see it in your heart to send">"">send just $100 to prevent famine in Afghanistan this winter?

Posted by: Shah Loam | Dec 4 2008 5:52 utc | 23

WMD Attack Already Hitting US Shores ... Again!

One in 3 toys is toxic, group says
Environmental group says many items for sale have high levels of lead, arsenic and other chemicals.

NEW YORK ( -- One in three toys tested was found to contain toxic chemicals such as lead, flame retardants and arsenic, according to a report issued Wednesday by an environmental group.

Researchers for the Michigan-based Ecology Center tested more than 1,500 popular toys for lead, cadmium, arsenic, PVC and other harmful chemicals. They said they found that one-third of the toys contain "medium" or "high" levels of chemicals of concern.

What's next, Typhoid Barbie?

Posted by: Jala Peno | Dec 4 2008 6:50 utc | 24

Pat Lang has a paper from one Dr. Silverman on the WMD report. Silverman says (*.doc) it is crap:

Yet the primary finding that has been hyped in the media, beginning before the report was even released, is that there will be a CBR attack somewhere in the world within the next five years, likely in the US, but possibly anywhere in the world. Here's the problem: there does not appear to be a methodology section in the report. There is nowhere in the text any explanation of how this forecasting is being done and the conclusions being arrived at.

Posted by: b | Dec 5 2008 6:53 utc | 25

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