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Subject: Missile Defense & Back-paxk nukes    8/22/2001 4:01:14 PM
The Smallest Nuke weighs 78 kilos and has minimal shielding. I don't know if you have ever done any back packing, but if you do I would suggest you start off at a lighter load then 160+ pounds! BTW, due to the limited shielding, which made storage a real bitch, not many of the 'atomic demolition mines' were produced. Not much of a 'stealth' weapon. Just keep your eyes peeled for a real big guy who is sweatin, puking, and has his hair falling out, carrying a coffee Thermos that weighs almost as much as he does, and glows in the dark. The Ship Idea is even sillier. The most practical way is putting your device on a private jet, but that has some of the same problems as the ship. Paper Trails. The FBI is real good at following paper trails. A nuke going off in an American harbor like New York, Houston, or Tampa, means the gloves come off. It would be the last terrorist act. ANY Nation that would be seen as harboring these terrorist would be blown off the face of this planet. Even a balless weenie like Jimmy Carter would have no choice, if they didn't take action the American people would get rid of him and get a president who would do something.
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Quinns    RE:Missile Defense & Back-paxk nukes   8/24/2001 9:54:26 PM
LOL! Big guy puking!! That was a good one! The "backpack" was just used to convey the idea of "hand-carried". One way is, from a boat, by hand-truck, into car or truck, (if you want to get specific). I didn't really follow why the boat was silly, either. Every year, hundreds of tons of illegegal substances make it by the FBI, and into the United States -- by boat. And the boat wouldn't have to even go into the harbor, it would only need to sit offshore a short distance. You mentioned another way, by plane. Nut you're right, the paper trail for aircraft is very stiff. Unlike boats. I lived in a harbor for many years and saw how easy it was for boats to come and go as they please with VERY little supervision. You missed my point, though, Tomanbeg. Earlier it was stated that one of the main reasons for building a Missile Defense System would be to protect us from rogue nation leaders. My point was that it would not. If the "rogue leader" wanted to detonate a nuke near a major city, they could, (with relatively minimal expenditure), do so, even if we had a perfect missile defense system in place. I still think we need a missile defense system, but I think the "rogue leader defense" should be cut out of the argument.
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Jay    RE:Missile Defense & Back-paxk nukes   8/24/2001 10:34:02 PM
Quinns, I respect and appreciate your opinions, but I must state I feel you underestimate our ability to intercept covertly transported nukes. First of all you don't build a nuke by yourself. Our human intelligence gathering is second to none. I know many like to badmouth our intelligence agencies, but they have prevented A LOT of terrorist attacks in the US and elsewhere. Second thing not to underestimate is the advanced level of the technology becoming available for detecting hidden nuclear devices, up to and including the use of satellites (If they can read a license plate from 186 miles up don't you think they can read specific frequencies of radiation with the right sensors?). I think we're better protected against terrorist nukes than we think. And I agree that Hasneez and Hachoo aren't going to cook up an intercontinental ballistic missile in their tent. But Momoron Kaddafi or Sodomy Hussein might. So I think the rogue leader is a threat, depending on what your definition of a rogue leader is of course.
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Themba    RE:Missile Defense & Back-paxk nukes   8/25/2001 1:49:43 AM
As a follow on to Jay, I agree that our Intelligence is the best. However, we may have imaging satellites capable of incredible resolution, (I will go so far as to say they can read more then just a license plate, they can tell you if it is heads or tails on a quarter in digital real time.) but our MASINT abilities are not quit to the task of detecting a small well shielded bomb from orbit yet. Part of this has to do with we are dealing with technology that is relatively new, and MASINT as a whole is not well understood. Rest assured however, that we also have the best nuclear response team in the world (NEST). They have the ability to be on site in about 12 hours, and search any area covertly even if it were a crowded shopping mall. I think it is very telling, however, that as the population of North Korea were starving the régime was busy developing long-range ballistic missile capable of targeting the US. That alone tells us these nuts do not place the same value on human life or their own people as any normal leader would. There are very good reasons these people are called rouges, just look at the threats by Libya towards Spain over the rumor that they might participate with their NATO ally, the US, on the missile shield. Anyway, I have already stated my support and reasoning on numerous occasions for the development of the NMD, and my being baffled repeatedly over the only counter-arguments to the system being alternate modes of delivery.
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bsl    RE:Missile Defense & Back-paxk nukes   11/30/2001 5:49:28 PM
As I see it, the mistake is to see small, covertly delivered nukes as an alternative and successor to conventionally delivered nukes. Most of the Missile Defense criticism seems to assume that the presence of the latter means the former no longer exist. That's absurd. Worse. We *know* that conventionally delivered weapons exist, in great numbers and we *know* that the countries we consider the most dangerous who want to acquire nukes ALL want conventional delivery systems for them. So, whatever may or may not be true about small weapons, we will face the old problem of nukes on missiles and on aircraft for the foreseeable future. Thus, a defense will be of value for the foreseeable future. When you go back and look at the trail countries like Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Libya left in their various efforts, you'll find that in EVERY case, those same countries also worked on conventional delivery systems. As for delivering a small device, I agree that there are a number of workable ideas. It's very true that we do NOT monitor our borders well enough to stop large scale movements of people and some goods, such as drugs with any reliability. As for remote sensing, while you can put sensitive radiation detectors into orbit, you can also pack quite a lot of shielding around a device in a standard ship/truck container. You can weld a device under the keel of a ship, and have many inches of steel, plus a lot of cargo mass between a device and a remote detector. (Cofferdam the explosion, somewhat, but generate a lot more fallout.) You could stick a device into a liquid tanker truck and the mass of the right liquid would be a good shield. Has anyone considered that metal ores are moved by ship? Thought about burying a warhead under about ten thousand tons of iron ore? Lead ore? If remote sensing of fissionable radioactives was so easy, we'd have a nuclear submarine detection system, now, wouldn't we? We'd have darned good reason to have ALREADY developed it, too, since we wanted to keep track of the Soviet boomers more than almost any issue in surveillance during the latter part of the Cold War.
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cringe    RE:Missile Defense & Back-paxk nukes   11/30/2001 7:24:09 PM
NMD is a technically improbable defense against a strategically improbable Third World ballistic missile attack. A primitive ICBM, with its dubious accuracy and reliability and *BEARING A CLEAR RETURN ADDRESS* is extremely unattractive for a terrorist (or 'terrorist' state) and a most improbable delivery system for a terrorist weapon. Devoting such massive effort and expense to countering the *least probable*, *least effective* threat would be unwise. In terms of the technology of NMD: hitting a bullet with a bullet may well be possible under lab conditions, but it is far more difficult to design a system that can survive and provide effective protection against surprise attack that may employ various countermeasures, some of which may surprise the defense. The inherent advantages of the offense exceed the inherent advantages of superior technology, particularly if the offense is a rogue state that needs only to succeed with one among many weapons to establish its purpose.. Previous attempts at NMD have collapsed as it became evident that performance was much lower and cost much higher than advertised. There is no evidence that the current systems being put forward will meet or merit a different fate. This is from the November 12 2001 letter by 50 American Nobel laureates and sponsored by the Federation of American Scientists to the House and Senate leaders urging Congress not to fund or build missile defense because it will squander resources that are better used defending America against terrorism.
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Troll Watcher    RE:Missile Defense Cringe=Troll just look at Naval Aviation   12/1/2001 5:56:12 PM
Troll troll troll
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cringe    RE:Missile Defense Cringe=Troll just look at Naval Aviation   12/1/2001 8:11:54 PM
Umm what? Who's a troll and why? I just think you're a moron. Can't post anything in reply to a letter by Nobel laureates to the House/ Senate so you've got to fling the troll label ... go home, loser.
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Themba    RE:Missile Defense & Back-paxk nukes   12/1/2001 10:06:50 PM
As I have said in the past I too am confused as to why arguments against missile defense always go back to the idea that there are other means and measures for deliver without answer the fundamental question of why then are countries like North Korea developing long range Ballistic missile capable of reaching the US. Not to mention those that argue against missile defense often fail to realize that both WMD and Ballistic missiles are a matter of status for dictators. (As for the Trolls [Cringe] I guess he has never heard that close does count in horseshoes, hand-grenades, and Thermal Nuclear Warfare, landing with in a few miles of LA still means LA looses.) There is however a fundamental difference between drugs, and trying to sneak in a device giving off radiation. (We do have remote sensing capabilities for fissionable materials; department of Energy NEST teams have them in vans, on helicopters, and even in briefcases.) As for shielding, most countries currently working on building bombs, and even the new nuclear powers, do not have the ability to provide adequate shielding to prevent detection and maintain the four things needed for a covert insertion. 1. Portability size (This category includes the weight which if you were trying to shield the device in say a tractor trailer would put it well over the weight limit thereby leaving it vulnerable to inspection at a port of entry.) 2. Mobility of operation (They would need to be able to position it quickly to lessen the chance of detection, allow for ease in movement in, and out of the target area.) 3. Accessibility of components (Unless you want the dangers of a fully active nuclear device from the assembly point to the target, much less the maintenance to ensure that once you arrive in the target area that the device will actually work.) 4. Simplicity of design (Without the use of a standoff deliver system, it is likely to be a suicide mission generally ruling out a nuclear scientist as the deliver man meaning that the operation of the device has to be as basic as possible.) (Subs not only have the shielding to protect the crew from radiation, but the shielding that is provided by the vessel hulls themselves and the depth of water makes detection by way of radiation impossible, but they can track them with magnetometers mounted on helicopters.) Most of BSL potential points of access are interesting, but not very practical for a covert entry. For instance, the ideas of a remote detonation would require that the detector be connected by a cable to the device (Any Shielding that will block the escape of radiation would also likely block a radio signal in.), which would mean another device that could go wrong. Not to mention the antenna array would either have to be massive or of limited range (once again the suicide issue). Emersion in a liquid not only presents issues of signals in, and accessibility, but the potential risk of corrosion. However, the idea of hiding it with Iron or Lead ore is particularly interesting because of what would occur in relation to the interaction of the radiation and the heavy metals, but once again it runs counter to point 3, not to mention reduces the potential targets to deep water part cities. (i.e. Baltimore, San Diego, etc.) If you want the best way of covert entry, then go for the least obvious points of vulnerability, a diplomatic pouch, a small boat in minor coastal port, bring it in through Canada and then cross somewhere in Montana, or break the parts down to their components and reassemble them inside an embassy, and send it to its target in an embassy car. Following 1993 WTC and 1995 Oklahoma City everyone was looking at Ryder trucks, now everyone is looking at airplanes, and other major transportation points of entry. Go to where the US is not looking. Of course this all requires a suitcase/portable nuclear device, which only the US and Russia are capable building. Remember Fat-Man and Little-Boy where huge.
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bsl    RE:Missile Defense & Back-paxk nukes   12/1/2001 10:40:44 PM
Sorry, but this is the standard load of wish-fullfillment masquerading as geopolitical analysis which has been making the rounds for more than a generation. "No one in their right mind would attack us with a missile." The fallacy behind this old saw is that implicit assumption that an enemy will share our values, while even sticking purely to the historical record of the 20th century, we know, for a fact, that this is NOT always true. The people making this argument, if drawn out, will put it - "Any enemy who had a nuclear weapon and a missile to put it one would never use it against us because we would know who fired it and be able to retaliate against that enemy." Let's leave aside the fact that many of the people who make this argument are the same people who devote their lives to trying to see that we never, ever use nuclear weapons for any reason whatever - including retaliating for a nuclear attack on us - and move on to the serious critics. First, do people, at this late date REALLY believe that there aren't any people in the world who are capable of deciding that melting New York and Washington and perhaps one or two other American cities ISN'T worth the price? Do any of these people remember what Hitler and Tojo ACTUALLY did, as WW2 wore on? Do any of these people refuse to believe that people such as Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar exist? Do they remember Ayatollah Khomeini? Not everyone subscribes to the tenets of the Society of Friends, Medecines Sans Frontieres, or The Union of Concerned Scientists. Both secular and religious leaders we KNOW have measured the essentials of life in different ways and we KNOW these leaders have, on occasion, chosen courses of action they believed would draw the fires of hell down on their own lands. Calling them "insane" is pointless. (Worse, actually, because it's an excuse not to look at them more carefully.) They have ALREADY done so. Some, like Hitler and Tojo, in context of an ongoing war. Others, like OBL have chosen to START such a war with, from OUR point of view, good reason to expect that they were starting a fight they would lose. I note that I have already outlined two scenarios in which we might be attacked by nuclear weapon on a missile. One involving a war or confrontation which was not originally intended to escalate to that level, and another involving a deliberate choice to begin with a nuclear attack. We began considering leaders who hold different values than we do. Let's not omit leaders who simply make mistakes. They get into something they did not originally intend and wind up at a point where they consider a nuclear attack they did not start out intending to make. This is the sort of thing which actually happens in the real world, in real wars. Value judgments CHANGE in war. Four months ago, the notion that the American people would support a war in Afghanistan was too absurd to consider. That they would support, by some of the largest margins measured in the history of polling a "war against international terrorism where ever it is found in the world" was even more absurd. Notice the change? Those kinds of shifts in decisions happen in other countries, too. Next, while a BMD is sometimes argued against on the grounds that it is destabilizing under traditional deterrence theory, in fact, there is an equally strong argument to be made that it would actually BE a deterrent, in itself, against proliferation. Russia has enough of a nuclear force to penetrate any defense likely to emerge in the foreseeable future. A country like Iraq, however, trying to enter the nuclear club, having to construct an infrastructure from scratch would face a MUCH greater practical problem gaining a measure of power over an America WITH a BMD. It would need a MUCH higher level of it's own capability to gain a reasonable assurance of being able to penetrate the defense, and, so, would face a MUCH higher cost to develop such a force in the first place. Also, increasing the time in which America could detect it's efforts and, so, act before they became effective. Another of those huge holes in the logic of the opponents of missile defense is that since there are suitcase bombs and might be other delivery pathways for a weapon, there's no point in a defense. This conveniently ignores the known fact that the usual group of suspect nations who seek to acquire nuclear weapons have ALL ALSO sought to develop the plain, old fashioned delivery systems, such as aircraft and ballistic missiles. It's always struck me as the height of arrogance for missile defense critics to place their own logic on such a pedestal that they ignore the real history of the real countries who are trying to gain nuclear capability. I don't know if Pakistan has plans to smuggle a nuclear explosive into India under a truckload of prayer mats. I DO know that Pakistan has expended a huge amount of
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bsl    RE:Missile Defense Cringe=Troll just look at Naval Aviation   12/1/2001 10:43:09 PM
I've known three Nobel laureates (economics and physics), and was friendly with the son of a fourth (chemistry). I don't rely on these people for geopolitical insight. What's YOUR basis for worship at this altar?
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