Re: Media ignores Ballistic Missle Defense.

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Mon Aug 27 2001 - 10:30:32 MDT

>From: Eugene Leitl <>

>Do you have doubts that a Cessna or a lorry will be unable to
>deliver a 200 kg object? I'm pretty certain you can ship a piece
>of slightly subcritical Pu239 with UPS, and no one would give a
>damn. If it needs be, I'll just use a cartwheel.

Why is it that international drug cartels don't ship their product
via UPS or FedX then?

>Why are there no instances of properly done WOMD terrorism, yet?
>Well, you have to be evil, irrational, wealthy and reasonably
>competent, and marginally lucky. Such traits are more or less
>independently distributed, though some of them are correlated.
>There's a probability of such an event occurring, and with every
>passing year it is getting easier. So, this hasn't happened, yet.
>Will this happen, eventually? It sure seems so.

I tend to agree with you on this. Of course the first successful
terrorist attack with a weapon of mass destruction will probably be
it's last since undoubtably the retaliation will mean complete
elimination of said group.

>But I don't have to burn gigabucks on improbable scenarios, hein?
>Would seem rather wasteful, if not entirely pointless.

Since we know the current system is "not ready for primetime" I
agree that deployment at this time is inadvisable.

>> Biological warfare is considerably more difficult than most
>>people believe.

>Well, given a choice between aerosoling VX in the subway, or
>dumping MDR anthrax spores into air ducts of said subway, or doing
>airburst during a large sports game, or obtaining fissibles and
>building a few kTon nuke I'd probably choose anthrax. VX would
>come a close second, nukes I wouldn't even consider, until someone
>helpful would supply me with more or less useful Pu, and even then
>I would have a hard time. I would be a lot more comfortable with
>vacuuming off anthrax in a suit than trying to make a few
>100 kg of VX with heavy protection in the desert somewhere. Have
>you ever worn heavy protection for prolonged periods of time? It's
>not fun.

Getting an airborne form of anthrax is not easy, the Japanese cult
Aum Shinrikyo despite being technically very sophisticated failed
in it's attempts. Good luck playing with VX.

>Why would a terrorist want to use ICBMs? Tell me why this is

Terrorists no, rogue nations yes.

>No, but if you're smart about it you apply your resources so that
>you get optimal ROI. Star wars rapidly gets ridiculously
>expensive. You have to add a zero to the officially published
>numbers, then you're roughly in the ballpark of the real costs.

I would once again argue that we are not talking Star Wars here,
but a limited number of ABMs.

>You mentioned China, for some strange reason, so I felt compelled
>to point out that such umbrella is useless against a superpower.
>You keep harping that terrorists are nice enough to make it easy
>for you, which is somehow unconvincing.

I have stated a number of times that the system we were discussing
was not designed for either superpowers nor terrorists, but rogue

>Okay, tell me a few good arguments as to why you think the
>umbrella will work against a sneaky terrorist type of attack which
>won't use ICBMs. Trust me, they won't. They won't advertise it on
>prime time TV, either. In fact they won't even tell you afterwards
>who nuked you. They're crazy, but they're not that stupid.

Again the system is not designed to thwart terrorists, except those
that head a rogue nation. Whether or not we successfully identify
the terrorists in you theoretical attack would remain to be seen.

>18 minutes is a great long time, particularly if the average
>distance to the next shelter is short. Like, really short.

You couldn't even begin to successfully alert a population in 18
minutes, much less get them to move anywhere unless they were
completely prepared.

>So, how many shelters can you build for 300 gigabucks, or so?

Not enough by far.

>Useless? Them are few nukes, we agreed, since this is a limited
>scale attack. You're not carpet bombing the target, and you're not
>laying one after another with some few min pause in between. If
>you want to get killed, you choose a clear day and stand in the
>open exposing maximum amount of skin. The IR flash fries your
>skin, and if the shockwave doesn't finish you off the burns will,
>eventually. If you stand behind something as flimsy as a white
>sheet of linen, and after the flash rapidly duck behind a sturdy
>wall, the kill radius suddenly shrinks, a lot. If you sit in a
>simple cellar, the kill radius shrinks a lot farther. If you sit
>10 m underground, in a more or less intelligently designed bunker
>the typical weak terrorist nuke (which will be typically not a
>ground explosion, as you want to fry as many as possible) could
>explode within few 100 m radius, and you should still survive it.
>With enough material between you and the nuke, and if it doesn't
>couple to the ground the thing could explode on top of you, and
>you would be still fine.

There you go, your attack by your terrorists, using your scenario
isn't even worth building a defense against.

>So, unless you explain the kill mechanism which is supposed to get
>the people in the bunkers I'm so far unconvinced.

My mistake, when I think of ICBM I think fusion not fission, so we
don't even need to build bunkers.

>> underground shelters of the type you describe are far more
>> expensive and essentially useless.

>Subways are expensive, but they're there. Underground parking lots
>are expensive, but they're there. Integrating bunkers into houses
>translates into extra reinforced concrete and more earthworks,
>it's an incremental cost on existing houses. Few hundred gigabucks
>can buy a lot of these.

A smart terrorist would place his bomb in the largest shelter he
could find.

But this is again besides the point, the system we were discussing
was to defend against a limited number of rogue state launched
ICBM's not a terrorist attack. This does not make it useless.

Since the system in question does not currently function, the rest
is academic.


Extropy Institute,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
SBC/Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

Disclosure notice: currently "plonked"
"Joe Dees" <>
"Party of Citizens"<>

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