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Bogus Company Obtains Nuclear License

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the make-sure-to-check-id dept.

United States 247

i_like_spam writes "As reported in the NY Times, undercover investigators from the Government Accountability Office set up a bogus company and received a license to purchase dirty-bomb nuclear materials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The GAO's investigation shows that the security measures put in place after 911 are not sufficient for protecting the American people." From the article: "Given that terrorists have expressed an interest in obtaining nuclear material, the Congress and the American people expect licensing programs for these materials to be secure, said Gregory D. Kutz, an investigator at the accountability office, in testimony prepared for the hearing."

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The GAO Application (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836301)

Section One: Information
Name: Fakey McNukesTheWhales
Organization: The Organization Against Liberal Rags (TOALR)
Use (check all that apply):
  • X Academic
  • X Business
  • _ Terrorism
Intended goals (from above use):
  • X Making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • _ Energy
  • _ College Prank
  • _ Covertly refining yellow cake uranium with a heated gas filled centrifuge spinning at the speed of sound so that the isotope U235 separates from the heavier U238 therefore making the core of the dirty bomb powerful enough to strike down the heathen George W. Bush and all American citizens--PRAISE ALLAH!

Section Two: Behavioral
Question One: You are walking down the street and you see a box of puppies. Do you
  1. _ Take the puppies home and sell them for profit.
  2. X Hug the puppies and love them until you can find their owner.
  3. _ Curb stomp the puppies
Question Two: You are approached by a man claiming to be from Nigeria offering you nuclear warheads with green, white & red striped flags on them. Do you
  1. X Ask the man for his name and inform the NRC of his proposition.
  2. _ Buy his warheads and forget he ever said anything about his nationality.
  3. _ Curb stomp the man
Question Three: You enter a voting booth on election day but don't know any of the candidates. Do you
  1. _ Vote Democrat.
  2. X Vote Republican.
  3. _ You're too busy to vote.
--
For Internal Office Use Only:
X Approved _ Rejected

See, they only answered one question wrong (the correct answer for Question Two in Section Two was the third option), the system works!

Re:The GAO Application (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836467)

Intended goals (from above use):
* _ College Prank
The funniest college pranks are the ones that end with "Dude! You've got cancer!"

Re:The GAO Application (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836489)

Hmm, I think you got the puppies answer wrong too - surely the "take them home and sell them" is what they were looking for.

Re:The GAO Application (3, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836505)

See, they only answered one question wrong (the correct answer for Question Two in Section Two was the third option),



Not quite. The correct answer for question one, section two is, of course, #1. Only liberal socialist commie hippies would pass up a chance for profit.

Re:The GAO Application (4, Funny)

Gregb05 (754217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836611)

Actually, the correct answer for that question was a write in:
"Train them as hunting dogs"

Re:The GAO Application (1, Troll)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836687)

Actually those immigration forms foreigners have to fill out upon entering the US are not that far off from your questionaire.

First post :) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836307)

EVER!

Law not sufficient (5, Insightful)

schabot (941087) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836315)

The GAO's investigation shows that the security measures put in place after 911 are not sufficient for protecting the American people.

When are people going to get this. The laws existing before (insert grand public hysteria event here) were sufficient. There is a difference between needing to increase the strength of the laws, thereby weakening civil liberties, and properly and thoroughly enforcing the laws which are already in place.

I Use to Work at Bogus,Inc. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836347)

Globaltics [globaltics.net]

Re:Law not sufficient (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836441)

After reading the article I can tell you that the GAO guys are blowing this way out of proportion. The amount of Americium and Cesium that would be obtained in one of the moisture density devices is so small that you would need THOUSANDS, maybe hundreds of thousands of them to make any kind of 'dirty bomb'. The amount of Americium in one analyzer is about the size of a pin head, barely visible to the human eye. This is the same Americium that is in normal smoke detectors all around the country, in every home in every state. Millions of people have them, maybe we should all panic that terrorists will invade our homes and make dirty bombs out of our smoke detectors??

The reality of it is that I can take Americium and hold it in my hands. It's an alpha emission radioactive isotope, meaning the first layer of dead skin on my hands would be enough to block the radioactivity.

This is a scare article, designed to make the Bush administration look incompetent.

They forgot to mention that actually making the bomb EXPLODE would involve an entire process that would probably have sent off flags from other governmental agencies. They don't mention it because they were never going to build a bomb, and besides it looks 'scary' that the Nuclear Regulatory Committee allowed the license to potential terrorists rather than the Department of Agriculture allowing the purchase of a ton of fertilizer.

Why don't they publish an article on how you are being RADIATED every time you fly in an airplane? Or how about every time you go to the airport, you get NUKED by the metal detector!! Oh my we should ban all RADIATION it's going to be made into DIRTY BOMBS by terrorists and the Bush/Republicans/White Male Americans who are complicit since they caused 9/11!!!!!!eleven1!12!

Please...

Re:Law not sufficient (-1, Troll)

will_die (586523) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836661)

The idea with the terrorist dirty bomb would not be to get it to explode it would be to wrap the radioactive material around a conventional explosive get around helicopter height in a city with skyscapers and then explode it. The material would be embedded in the walls of the building or shatter glass and be enbedded in the floors and interior walls of the building; and possibly people.
Then based on the anthrax attacks it would require that the building be destroied. It would be the perfect terrorist attack, fiarly easiy to do provided you have the materials, and huge amount of destruction.
You can make the case all you want that with proper shielding and the low radioactivity of the materials would case harm to future users of the building but with the trial lawyers in the US would you as the owner of the building be willing to take that risk? If anyone in that that building gets any form of cancer you are going to paying millions in lawsuit protection even if the science says you had nothing to do with it.

Re:Law not sufficient (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836971)

" The idea with the terrorist dirty bomb would not be to get it to explode it would be to wrap the radioactive material around a conventional explosive get around helicopter height in a city with skyscapers and then explode it. The material would be embedded in the walls of the building or shatter glass and be enbedded in the floors and interior walls of the building; and possibly people.

Then based on the anthrax attacks it would require that the building be destroied. It would be the perfect terrorist attack, fiarly easiy to do provided you have the materials, and huge amount of destruction.

Screw the nuclear crap. Just hose the building in dioxin [wikipedia.org] or ricin [wikipedia.org] . There's a reason why biologicals have been called "The Poor Man's Nuke."

Or you could use [REDACTED] along with [REDACTED] and really cause a panic. Just [REDACTED], and make sure you [REDACTED]; then just dump [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] or [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] near any convenient [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] - and run like hell.

Hold on, there's some suits from the [REDACTED] who want to talk with me ...

Re:Law not sufficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836863)

Er... isn't Americium is a bone-seeker? So probably fine on your hand, but really bad news if it enters your body at all.

Re:Law not sufficient (1)

darkone (7979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837001)

This is a scare article
It's interesting that an article basically saying DHS "needs" more money is allowed to make it into the news, but say the words "Global Warming" and you find yourself working in Antarctica.

Re:Law not sufficient (5, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837025)

metal detectors don't nuke you.

as to the americium, did you hear of the boy scout that made a working breeder reactor largly from old smoke detectors and coleman lantern mantles?
http://www.dangerouslaboratories.org/radscout.html [dangerousl...tories.org]
-nB

Re:Law not sufficient (4, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836449)

Somewhat true. I actually think that existing laws may have been TOO cumbersome for effective law enforcement, ie the lack of ability for communication between the CIA and domestic law enforcement. The problem with DHS is that it tries to do the job that COULD be done with effective communication between the FBI, CIA, NSA, and military.

Re:Law not sufficient (-1, Flamebait)

nokilli (759129) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836473)

Combined with Senator Santorum's slip-of-the-tongue announcing summer terrorist attacks, and Homeland Security Chief Chertoff's "gut feeling" we'll be attacked this summer, I guess we can now assume the manner in which this attack will take place.

It will be a dirty bomb.

The New York Times story helps create a context in which the dirty bomb attack this summer by terrorists will be more believable. Not the part that we're attacked this summer. Or with a dirty bomb. The part where we're attacked by terrorists.

They can't afford another 9/11 or London Bombings -- where it is so clear that these were attacked orchestrated from within, or from Israel -- they have to dot every i and cross every t this time.

Santorum, Chertoff, The New York Times. Consider the sources here.

--
Censored by Technorati [blogspot.com]

Re:Law not sufficient (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836587)

Wow. Your mind is fucked up beyond belief.

Re:Law not sufficient (1)

sveard (1076275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836599)

Fabricating conspiracies is how we deal with the randomness of these acts of terrorism, it makes us feel warm and fuzzy to think that everything fits in a grand and evil scheme. I, for one, don't believe that this is coming from the inside.

Re:Law not sufficient (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837073)

... except that the cash infusion from the rest of the world ($20 billion in insurance claims) and the expl;osion in federal spending were what ended the recession the US was sliding into ... and we all know how everyone says that one way to stimulate the economy is to have a war ...

The problem with the "inside job" scenarios isn't whether they're true or not - its that this government is so totally ^@%$@'ed up that they are believable to a large percentage of the population.

I mean, where else can a drunk shoot someone in the face and have the VICTIM apologize? Unbelievable! Then again, what other nation has elected an alcoholic coke-head as their numero uno?

The great thing about America - "Anyone* can become president."
The sad thing about America - "Anyone* can become president."

(for some values of "Anyone" - white, well-connected, rich, able to lie convincingly)

Re:Law not sufficient (2, Interesting)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836507)

And the dirty bomb scenario is a complete 100% propaganda fabrication. There is no way to disperse enough nuclear material to make it effective. It could happen, but it won't kill anyone from the radiation. It's pure neocon FUD.

you don't get it (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836797)

fear isn't a neocon invention. setting off a dirty bomb doesn't have to kill a lot of people. in fact, if a dirty bomb killed one person, it would be more terrifying than a regular bomb that killed 1,000 people. a regular bomb: the dead people are gone. it's over. history. you can grive and put it behind you. but a dirty bomb causes a permanent nagging psychological degradation for decades, a permanent worry about nonquantifiable health effects. in other words, it terrorizes more effectively. set one off in midtown manhattan, and you would have reporters walking around with geiger counters talking about the half life of strontium 90 (30 years)

6 years after 9/11 we still have front page news stories about the air quality degradation of downtown manhattan in the weeks after 9/11. then epa chief whitman testifying last month [app.com] , michale moore taking 9/11 rescue workers to cuba [app.com] . a son of one of the workers who died from that went to the state of the union address [wikipedia.org] ...in january 2007. this is 5.5 years later

catch my drift yet?

the people killed on 9/11 are dead and buried. almost 3,000 of them. even the dust from the event is all washed away. and yet the air quality issue lives on, and continues to involve us 6 years later. how many died from the dust? definitely or not? a dozen? a dirty bomb wouldn't have to kill a single person. at the moment of the explosion or ever from the radioactivity

it's all psychological, which is the whole point of terrorism in the first place

now imagine the ongoing media and societal handwringing that would go on with radioactive contamination. no matter how minimal. even if no one died. this is called terrorism. this is called fear. to paraphrase stalin ("a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic"): the endless fretting over a nebulous, low grade continuous degradation to your health, for years, is a more effective terrorist tool than outright killing thousands of people in one sudden event that is then permanently over. radioactive contaimination is not uddenly over. even if the contamination is tiny and insignificant scientifically, you are not thinking about human psychology and how fear works

furthermore, i would like to add that if you are a liberal, and you downplay the effects of terrorism and hype the effects of government abuses, you fail. and if you are a conservative, and you downplay the effects of government abuses, and hype the effects of terrorism, you fail

the only intellectual and morally honest position is to worry about BOTH terrorism and government abuses. to downplay one or the other is intellectually dishonest, and means you are just another lousy biased partisan. terrorism is real and dangerous. government abuses are real and dangerous. anyone who sits there and tries to argue against simple human fear of either government abuses or terrorism has instantly achieved a state of losing the argument and missing the point

Re:Law not sufficient (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836579)

> There is a difference between needing to increase the strength of the laws, thereby weakening civil liberties, and properly and
> thoroughly enforcing the laws which are already in place.

There's also the difference between providing the illusion of safety and providing safety!

Dirty bombs and real nukes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836959)

When are people going to get this. The laws existing before (insert grand public hysteria event here) were sufficient. There is a difference between needing to increase the strength of the laws, thereby weakening civil liberties, and properly and thoroughly enforcing the laws which are already in place.
You can pass laws until you run out of paper, it won't help much when it comes to dirty bomb materials. In 1984 there was a case where a truck loaded with concrete rebar from Mexico made it across the US/Mexico border. The shipment was only detected because the vehicle happened to pass the Los Alamos laboratory complex where it set off a major radiation alarm. It turned out that the Mexican factory that made the stuff had melted down a gamma radiation chamber containing radioactive Cobalt-60 that had been sold to Mexico illegally by an enterprising US based dealer. What is worse a whole string of houses got built with the stuff by the time this truck set off the alarm. The moral of the story is that dirty bomb materials are fairly easy to obtain. Even today medical equipment containing dangerous substances is thrown away as common junk in some countries and I'm pretty sure that's not the only relatively easily accessible source of dirty bomb materials. Even if we assume that the department of homeland security and other responsible agencies have done their job and these materials are hard to obtain in the USA it self (if this article is true obtaining them seems to be easier than it's supposed to be) terrorists can obtain them outside the USA and to smuggle into the country. Even if the US Govt. puts radiation sensors on every crossing point on every land border the US has with neighboring countries and beefs up security measures in the USA's various ports there is still the problem that the USA has thousands of kilometers of coastline some of which is only patrolled infrequently by one or two state cops or a few rangers and the occasional cost-guard cutter. Getting the dirty bomb material into the USA is thus fairly easy.

The same pretty much goes for nuclear warheads. The most difficult part of smuggling a nuclear warhead into the USA is not getting it into the country, it's obtaining it without the USA noticing since the CIA, NSA as well as many non US intelligence agencies keep pretty close tabs on all possible sources for ready made nukes. This brings us to the topic of dangerous and potentially unstable countries like Iran and N-Korea who either can, or are on the verge of, building their own nukes and where the USA has fairly little knowledge of the size or status of these countries nuclear arsenals. What scares most analysts about these countries is not so much that their governments might decide to nuke a US city. Even the Ayatollahs are not likely to be so dumb as to make an unprovoked nuclear strike on the US, they want nukes mainly for the status it brings them and for their defensive value. What really scares analysts, politicians and military/intelligence people is that these regimes might collapse and in the chaos nuclear bombs might go missing. In a situation like that, especially if we are talking about an arsenal whose exact inventory is unknown to western intelligence agencies, nukes could easily disappear 'off the Radar' with no way of knowing who has them.

Where have they been? (2, Insightful)

Bootle (816136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836321)

I'm curious where these GAO guys have been for the past SEVEN YEARS

Re:Where have they been? (2, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836471)

Check the news much? They've been there, all over the place [google.com] actually. They're there as advisers and auditors, not to police everything the USG does. Even the Comptroller General was on the Colbert Report not too long ago.

Re:Where have they been? (1)

Bootle (816136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836553)

They're there as advisers and auditors, not to police everything the USG does

Maybe that's the problem.

Re:Where have they been? (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836871)

What, that we have a government based on 'Separation of Powers'? Write a letter to your congressional representative if you're irritated.

This is shocking! (-1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836331)

I thought our officials cannot be as incompetent as this...or is it the system?

What can we ever do right in these United States?

And my president thinks he's done a lot with his war on terror. Need I mention that our bordewrs are still wide open?

God help us!

Re:This is shocking! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836359)

Hey! Just because the us borders are wider open than Paris Hilton or Britany Spears...

Re:This is shocking! (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836675)

***I thought our officials cannot be as incompetent as this...or is it the system? ***

You really need to read the article. The nuclear device in question is a slightly dirty bomb that probably would do way less overall damage than McVey and Nichols accomplished in Oklahoma City. Nichols and McVey used a van full of diesel fuel and fertilizer. You can buy those just about anywhere for less money and with less hassle than you can small amounts of radioactives.

The radioactive materials involved are small amounts used in instrumentation, and the idea was to buy a bunch of instruments and rip them up to get enough material to contaminate an area maybe the size of a city block.

The nuclear materials license these guys got doesn't appear to have involved any investigation to determine if their company was real, but if they'd needed to slap together a store front office, incorporation papers, etc instead of just renting a Post Office Box, I doubt that would cost very much or required much effort.

They had to alter the license in order to buy enough materials for a bomb. And it isn't clear how they could extract the ratioactives without becoming the first victims of the plot.

The government probably could do better. But really what this probably establishes is that protecting Americans from terrorism is impossible.

Re:This is shocking! (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836859)

Wrong tree, woofing up. As others have noted, your basic microgram of smoke-detector magic powder isnt going to do much damage.

What would be a whole lot more interesting is if they got a license to:

(1) Buy those gamma sources used to radiograph submarine hulls. There's some real zap in those.

(2) Buy or deal in medical radiactives, like large Cobalt 60 cancer treatment devices.

(3) Transport radioactive wastes from power plants.

Now with those puppies you could make a considerable mess.

Obvious solution (3, Insightful)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836333)

Just bomb and invade the nucler regulatory commission and proclaim problem solved, once and for all. Once and for all!

Shocking (1)

53cur!ty (588713) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836351)

At least the Feds were investigating themselves! Wonder if given the findings they will investigate/review all license holders?

blue zig AYB. (4, Funny)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836369)

"Oh no, someone has set us up the bomb!"

Re:blue zig AYB. (2, Funny)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836529)

"Oh no, someone has set us up the bomb!"
That's too obvious - you should've tried the lolcat [wikipedia.org] approach:

"Im in ur Nuclear Regulatory Commission discrediting ur security measures"

Now that's one hell of a cat.

Re:blue zig AYB. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836729)

Can has fiznible matearyal?

not surprising; look at 9/11 commision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836371)

The truth is that we have implemented very little of the 9/11 commission's recommendations. Only the trivial easily seen one's. This admin does not really care 1 bit about what it professes.

Re:not surprising; look at 9/11 commision (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836427)

Of course, one has to pretend that they all made sense as well. It was a committee based on pure politics and politicians' need to look like they were doing something about the problem.

Dirty Bomb? (4, Informative)

fatphil (181876) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836383)

Does anyone actually still believe that myth?

It's just another piece of government propaganda to keep the population scared.

One of the reading rooms of the university library (previously a chemistry lab) was way more dangerous - both mercury and asbestos. I bet near any highway in the average metropolis there's way more carcinogenic shit in the air than from any mythical 'dirty bomb'.

Re:Dirty Bomb? (5, Funny)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836405)

Apparently someone doesn't watch 24, there are atleast 2 to 10 terrorist attack attempts every hour, and we are always only seconds away from stopping them. Yes, some of them are dirty bombs. Maybe someone should educate themselves before posting...

Re:Dirty Bomb? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836493)

I am guessing you mean 24 as in the Los Angeles CTU fictional series, rather than BBC News 24?

Re:Dirty Bomb? (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836583)

Given the content of a lot of news broadcasts, I'm not sure the conclusions one would draw from either are all that different.

Re:Dirty Bomb? (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836593)

Is there a difference?

Re:Dirty Bomb? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836765)

>I am guessing you mean 24 as in the Los Angeles CTU fictional series, rather than BBC News 24?
One is made by Fox, one isn't. That ought to be a bit of a pointer.

Mods on Crack (0, Redundant)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836777)

+3 informative? The parent was obviously trying to be funny. 24 is a _fictional_ suspense show about stopping terrorists. The interesting thing is, it's aired in real time, so an hour-long episode portrays an hour in the show's world.
Here [wikipedia.org] , as the parent suggested, educate yourselves.

Re:Dirty Bomb? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836585)

I bet near any highway in the average metropolis there's way more carcinogenic shit in the air than from any mythical 'dirty bomb'.

... and just think about all the above-ground nuclear tests in the last 60-odd years.

Re:Dirty Bomb? (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836657)

It's just another piece of government propaganda to keep the population scared.

I don't think so. AFAIR most likely dirty bombs would be pretty harmless, but that's not the point - People are scared of radiation (they don't need government help with that), which is what makes even a 'harmless' dirty bomb effective in terms of the panic it would cause. Not to mention the economic cost of evacuating the area and the clearing up every little scrap of radiation.

MOD parent UP (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836793)

You understand the dirty bomb principle. Just those Gieger counters reading radiation at the scene would cause immense panic - one of the main aims of many terrorist actions is just to cause disruption through fear and panic.

Re:Dirty Bomb? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836755)

The funny thing with radiative material is that your skin is a rather good protection agaisnt radiation, but ingesting or breating only micrograms of some radioactive material can kill you in a few weeks. Therefore, a dirty bomb, which is way to spray radioactive material in the largest possible volume of air can be quite dangerous, even hours after the detonation. And all you need is some radioactive (not even fissile) material and a tool to disperse it (regular explosive works fine, but it could also be a spray, or you could just open a can of powder on the roof of a downtown bulding during a windy rush hour day).

Add to that the immediate panic, the restlessnes of the many people who won't know for days, if not weeks if they have been contaminated or not and the horror of a long and painfull dead for the unlucky ones and you've got a perfect terrorism weapon. The only way to prevent such a thing is to control access to the radioactive material.

Re:Dirty Bomb? (1)

curlynoodle (1004465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836989)

True, however terrorism and the "war" on terrorism is all about grand-standing. The threat of sending several tons of asbestos into the atmosphere is not going to have the same psychological effect as radioactive material.

After the New York attack, I wondered why those responsible did not plan a more, truly damaging attack, say to the US power grid. I was once told that a power plant could potentially taken offline for months with simply a few shots of a high power rifle. If that is actually true, I do not know. But it seemed reasonable.

Again, its all about grand-standing, and affecting people on the mental plane.

received a license to purchase... (4, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836385)

received a license to purchase dirty-bomb nuclear materials

I'd kind of expect that just filling in the "Dirty-bomb materials licence form" would lead to instant arrest.

Re:received a license to purchase... (1)

Pingmaster (1049548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836719)

So if you're an agency that is researching ways to detect them or maybe to clean up after and you need samples of the radioactive material used in it to test your solutions, you should be arrested immediately?

Purchasing materials for a dirty bomb != making a dirty bomb.

I know the solution (2, Funny)

crayz (1056) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836387)

We need more blanket wiretaps, data mining, and american citizens and legal residents 'disappeared' into military prisons. We've clearly exhausted every imaginable constitutional & non-invasive security measure

Re:I know the solution (1)

Pingmaster (1049548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836817)

Wiretaps and data mining just aren't proactive enough, someone could still pull something off before they're caught. What we need is a DHS agent following each and every american citizen around 24/7 with weapons locked and loaded.
Try to do something now, citizens!

Re:I know the solution (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836919)

And a DHS agent following each and every DHS agent!

Terrorism (5, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836403)


I don't think this administration is worried about terrorism at all. Terrorism is just a useful justification for what they do, and keeping the people scared.

The thing that really convinced me of this was how they handled the Iraq war. Leaving aside for a moment that bombing the crap out of people is probably a pretty good way to make new terrorists, they did the following:

1) Failed to secure nuclear facilities in Iraq. (They did however make a big effort to secure the oil wells).
2) Distributed in Iraq, without care or record, twelve billions dollars of Iraqs money in cash.

Are those the actions of an administration that is worried about terrorism? To me, they are the actions of an administration that wants to create them...

Re:Terrorism (1)

vfrex (866606) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836545)

Not entirely disagreeing with you, but why wouldn't they secure the oil wells? We're talking about a middle eastern country here. Without an economy, there might as well be no government. And without oil, there is no economy there.

Re:Terrorism (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836603)

The main point is that they did not secure the nuclear facilities. I mentioned the oil wells because actions communicate motives. Your words suggest that you think they secured the oil wells for the benefit of the Iraqi economy and the Iraqis themselves. Other actions of this administration suggest that they aren't really concerned with helping the Iraqis or the economy of Iraq.

Re:Terrorism (1)

vfrex (866606) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836679)

No, I'm saying that your claim is weak. Maintaining the oil industry in Iraq is the ONLY way that the country has a chance to thrive, at least in the short run. Without the oil industry, the country is nothing. Although you can try to claim that the administration had ulterior motives, at the end of the day, what they were doing happened to be very important to Iraq. Without oil, Iraq isn't worth anything, even to itself. If the coalition didn't work to secure the oil fields, Iraq would have collapsed anyway and the situation wouldn't be very different.

Re:Terrorism (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837031)

But, but...I thought the Iraq war was unjustified because Iraq didn't have any nuclear facilities.

Re:Terrorism (1)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836567)

1) Failed to secure nuclear facilities in Iraq.

The what?

Re:Terrorism (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836659)

Reference [armscontrol.org]

Re:Terrorism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836591)

amazing - first us&a starts 2 recent different wars, one of which has the sole purpose of getting oil rich nation under control, second one appears as attempt to control the largest heroin producing nation; all that creates generations and generations of terrorists and then everyone starts crying ohh my they want to nuke us and there is not a security measure which can stop this. the f*ck did everyone think when starting those wars - that there will be no backfire HA HA HA, now that's real cute BUT ITS WRONG!

i see a world power - definitely i do - power of shortsighted stupidity driven by greed and corruption.

rip my beloved usa for you will never become world power

PS does anyone even remotely imagine what will be happening in (hopefully separated by that time) iraq in lets say 15 years from now on? Still a state with civil war written all over it? Pro Iranian and pro US countries formed during this time?

Re:Terrorism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836867)

PS does anyone even remotely imagine what will be happening in (hopefully separated by that time) iraq in lets say 15 years from now on?
I would guess not in the US government. The extent of the poisoning by "depleted" uranium ammo will create millions of angry (maybe partially sick) people who lost family. I cannot imagine a better terrorist breeding ground.

I have a horrible feeling that the US would be better off if there were no tomorrow. There will be an accounting for all of the atrocities committed today.

Re:Terrorism (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836707)

We haven't had an administration that wasn't bent on keeping the population afraid of something in decades. When I was growing up, we were still afraid of the Soviets and a nuclear war. In my teenage years, we were afraid of terrorists (first WTC), right wing militia-types, and we can never forget the constant undercurrent of fear of drug related gang violence and the like. Oh, and SARS, bird flu, swine flu, drug resistant TB... Throw in the occasional blowing up of aspirin factories just to make sure other countries stay riled up against the "Great Satan" and "decadent West" and the politicians are golden. They've got something to look serious about, and other countries don't have to address their internal problems because it's all the fault of "the West."

Protection from what exactly (3, Informative)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836409)

Investigations into the dirty bomb theory have concluded that there was likely to be little damage or loss of life from a dirty bomb other than that caused by the explosion itself and that the effects of the radioactive material would be highly localised and negligible if the area is cleaned quickly. Of course as soon as the T word gets used in conjunction with dirty bombs they are one step away from Armageddon.

Have you RTFAed? (3, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836421)

Slashdot editor has not:

The bomb the investigators could have built would not have caused widespread damage or even high-level contamination. But it still could have had serious consequences, particularly economic ones, in any city where it was set off.

We always complain about government making lives (and business) harder for no reason. Well, getting "interviewed" by the commission, or having to submit pictures of the office and the list of employees to obtain such insignificant quantity of radioactive material could well be argued to be unduly burdensome.

Note, that the "serious consequences" are acknowledged by the article to be largely "economic" ones. Well, having to verify every such application would, likely, have much more of an economic impact. The article laments, that the bogus receiver of the license "had no offices, Internet site or employees. Its only asset was a postal box." So? Do we really want "having an office" to become a requirement for anything?..

The funny thing is (2, Interesting)

Jaaay (1124197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836429)

that most terrorists of the blow ourselves up kind are too stupid to ever do this in the first place. When you look at a lot of the recent bombings or attempted bombings in London the terrorists had all the advantages and were still too retarded to kill a lot of people as you'd expect they could if they had brains since they have the advantage of surprise and crowded civilians.

Re:The funny thing is (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836559)

terrorists had all the advantages and were still too retarded to kill a lot of people as you'd expect they could if they had brains

Their experience as doctors is that people are forever hurting themselves in bizarre ways. Blowing themselves up in Barbecue accidents with propane bottles, etc. It should be so easy to help the process along a little bit and kill hundreds of people.

Of course, it really isn't that easy to kill people. Not their fault they didn't know that. Lets be thankful they weren't engineers like the Malaysian terrorists who did the Bali bombings.

Re:The funny thing is (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837013)

The good news is indeed that suicide bombers can't share their experience, the bad news is that the people who recruit weak or desperate persons and train them to become suicide bomber do. And having their boys miserably fail but still make the main news on every western country TV or newspaper for over a week is still a victory for them.

Re:The funny thing is (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837023)

If recent events in Glasgow are anything to go by the civilians might be the terrorists biggest problem.

John Smeaton ( national hero ) has this message for any terrorists he or his countrymen come across

"This is Glasgow we'll just set about you"

Personally John himself has, famously, tackled one of the terrorists himself, this is what he says about it

"Me and other folk were just tryin ta get the boot in and some other guy banjoed him !"

Re:The funny thing is (5, Funny)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837063)

Additionally, the following highlights the difference between American and Glasweigan responses to terrorism.

America:"Oh my God! there was a man on fire, he was running about, i just
ran for my life..i thought i was gonna die,he got so close to me"
Glasgow: "C*nt wis running aboot on fire,so a ran up 'n gave him a good
boot,then decked him"

America:"I just wanna get home,away from here..i just wanna get home,i
thought i was gonna die"
Glasgow:"here shug, am no leaving here till am oan a f*ckin' plane!"

America:"there was pandemonium,people were running in all directions, we
didn't know what was happening, I thought i was gonna die"
Glasgow:"F*ck this fir a kerry oan,moan we ll get a pint in"

America:"We thought he was gonna blow us all up he had a gas canister,and
was trying to get into his trunk,i thought we were gonna die,i just ran for
my life" Glasgow:"a swaggered by the motor that wis on fire,and the dafty
couldnae even open his boot,he wis in fire annaw so a ran up n gave him a
good boot to the baws"

America:there was this huge explosion,it sounded like war,i thought i was
gonna die"
Glasgow:"There wis a bang,yi know when yi throw B.O basher intae a fire it
wis like that"

America:"i'm too traumatised even to speak,i thought i was gonna die"
Glasgow "here mate,gies 2 minutes till a phone ma auld dear,if am gonna be
oan the telly a want her tae tape it"

Why only minor? (1)

PetriBORG (518266) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836431)

From TFA:

The bomb the investigators could have built would not have caused widespread damage or even high- level contamination. But it still could have had serious consequences, particularly economic ones, in any city where it was set off.

which would have required extracting the radioactive materials from the machines and combining them, a job that could harm anyone in close contact -- they could have built a bomb that would have contaminated an area about the length of a city block, according to the regulatory commission.

So I guess contaminating about a block of NYC would be only minor? Or how about the Reflecting Pool in DC? I'm not sure that I would call contaminating the mall area a "minor" incident. There can be a lot of important things in the space of a block. They compare this to someone hijacking a chemical truck, but I wonder how long the radioactivity would be irremovable from the area as compared to said chemicals.

"The economic and psychological effects of a dirty bomb detonating on American soil would be devastating," [Senator Norm] Coleman [R, MN] said in a statement Wednesday. "The N.R.C. has a pre 9-11 mindset in a post 9-11 world focusing just on preventing another Chernobyl."

But I still don't feel that statements like this do anything but spread FUD. Thats my 2 cents.

Re:Why only minor? (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836625)

So I guess contaminating about a block of NYC would be only minor?

Yes. The standards of "contamination" used by these agencies is extremely strict. The difference between a surface that is "contaminated" and one that actually presents a real health risk to someone is about 3 or 4 orders of magnitude.

Is that all? (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836433)

TFA:

The machines include americium-241 and cesium-137

I had access to cesium-137 at college. There wasn't any real security about it. You could probably rip it off it you wanted to. I personally have a cache of americium-241 on a shelf in my garage. Thats where I put old, non-functional smoke detectors. I don't actually know where I can go to get rid of them and I am not stupid enough to put them in the bin so they stay in the garage.

You can't make a nuclear bomb out of these materials. You can certainly make a dirty bomb which will spread the stuff around, but I don't know how bad that is really going to be. It might release radioactivity embarrassingly close to background with any decent coverage.

Re:Is that all? (1)

scsirob (246572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836635)

I'm sure you will be told what to do with them as soon as the authorities find out that your stash of old smoke detectors in your garage weighs 20 metric tonnes by now..

Re:Is that all? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836763)

Thats where I put old, non-functional smoke detectors. I don't actually know where I can go to get rid of them and I am not stupid enough to put them in the bin so they stay in the garage.

Manufacturers are required by law to accept them for disposal...likewise antistatic dust brushes that have a polonium-210 strip. Check the instructions.

rj

It's even easier than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836439)

I traded a 6-pack of Duff [wikipedia.org] for the contents of Homer's back pocket.

So? (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836461)

From my understanding, these so called dirty bombs are really more psychological warfare than anything else. They're not actually all that effective. This can be seen by studying the effects Chernobyl's fallout had on those who came in it's path (very little).

"Dirty Bombs" (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836477)

This is dumb in so many ways. They could have bought 5000 smoke detectors too! What retards. GAO is a joke.

medical and waste from other countries (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836527)

doesn't matter if they plug this particular loophole. there a few others: radioactive waste and medical equipment. doesn't have to be from this country, ship it in in a lead lined cargo container. oh, we inspect all of those, right?

take a white van, pack it with TNT and strontium-90 [epa.gov] from radiotherapy equipment [cancerhelp.org.uk] or nuclear waste/ nuclear plant parts [epa.gov] and set it off in times square. doesn't have to cause a lot of damage. the real "bomb" is the psychological and economic bomb: no one will want to go to midtown manhattan anymore

after the explosion which would kill a half dozen people and shatter some windows (nothing, right?), you'd have reporters walking around with geiger counters, and talking about the half-life of strontium-90 [wikipedia.org] (28 years). 5.5 years after 9/11, we are still talking about the air quality issue [google.com] of the particles of concrete and steel and diesel fuel and aluminum and asbestos. that's all washed away by now. but radioactive contamination doesn't work that way. it sticks around for decades

in other words, you can kill a bunch of people. ok, they are gone, done for. case closed. people grieve, people move on. psychologically, it's cut and dry. but you can do another kind of bomb, something more sinister and insidious: you can damage a society more by introducing a permanent nagging environmental degradation in the form of low level radiation. this is far more damaging economically and psychologically. it's scandalous, it's a permanent nag in your head, not something you get over. and that's the whole point of terrorism: the instilling of terror. terrorists can't kill us all, but they can influence our thinking. to paraphrase stalin ("a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic"): the endless fretting over a nonquantifiable and continuous degradation to your health for years is perhaps more terrorizing than outright killing someone

that's why a dirty bomb is so nasty a concept, and why we should worry about it

Re:medical and waste from other countries (4, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836631)

*snip* the real "bomb" is the psychological and economic bomb *snip*

QFT. The insane long lines, the stupid restrictions, etc. involved with air travel these days simply indicate that the terrorists have won. They no longer need to actually attack to distrup the lives of hundreds of thousands, the mere mention of the possibility of an attack or even a new attack vector is enough...

well that's the psychology of fear (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837003)

what can you do about it?

until the world is satisfied that the threat from militant islamic fundamentalists is history, this is all you will see in contemporary life. for decades. because militant islamic fundamentalism isn't going away any time soon, no matter what the usa, or israel, or the eu, or any government anywhere does

and can it be any other way? i'm not asking you if it SHOULD be any other way, but i'm asking you if it WILL be any other way considering simple human psychology

yes, your chance of being killed by a terrorist is insignificant. but that's not how human psychology works, for better or for worse. i mean in the summer of 2001, before 9/11, we had front page news stories screaming about shark attacks. what are your chances of being bit by a shark? see my point about how fear works? we are inordinately concerned with stuff that doesn't really impinge on our lives, because of our simple animal fear... and in such a way, terrorism DOES impinge on our lives nonetheless, because of how our psychology works, in ways we can never change unless you want to talk about reengineeering the human mind. pffft

the good news is, people still go swimming in the ocean, and people still fly aircrafts. but psychologically, they enjoy both less, and exist in a greater state of fear

what can you do? this is human nature at work. it drive terrorists in fact, that is what they try to do: terrorize us, and they achieve that state, easily

yeah, mr. living in his moms basement in cleveland: you're not scared of terrorists. you're missing the point. society is, as a whole. that effects you even if you have no fear of terrorism. is tha tunfair to you? what is fair? can it ever be any other way? there is no argument about whether this can be any other way, because it can't, simply because of how the brain of the human beast works, the simple, unalterable psychology of fear

it's a weakness, a soft spot. in the terms a slashdotter understands: it's like an attack vector for hacking a computer system: a weak spot that allows you a way in

the human beast has such an attack vector: our fear. our basic animal psychology, used against us, even though our higher faculties tell us otherwise

we suffer because of it. and i don't know we could ever NOT suffer because of it. it's a weakness we must find a defense against, somehow. and i don't know what that defense is. i don't know how to shortcircuit this weakness in human nature

Knock knock knock (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837051)

Land Shark!

Not quite a stop at Walmart (3, Insightful)

palemantle (1007299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836557)

The undercover operation involved an application from a fake construction company
the investigators, using commercially available equipment, were able to modify it easily
With that forged document, the auditors approached two industrial equipment companies to arrange to buy dozens of portable moisture density gauges

If some terrorists were really keen on getting their hands on some americium-241 and cesium-137, I reckon they might just choose to try and ... steal the stuff instead. Possibly easier and "safer" too.

Re:Not quite a stop at Walmart (1)

Runefox (905204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836655)

But if that's the case, then America would be on guard. If the attack came from nowhere and had those materials included in whatever manner (Dirty Bomb(TM)), there would first off be the element of surprise, followed by hysteria, followed by an inquiry into where the materials came from, followed by more hysteria, followed by sweeping reforms and loss of liberties.

At least, that's how it all happened with 9/11. Surprise strike, hysteria, inquiry, hysteria, "reforms", decay of civil liberties.

Nooooo! (5, Funny)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836563)

>not sufficient for protecting the American people.

Nooooo! Poor widdle Americans! Awwww. *Hugs Americans*

B.

"Dirty" as in "dust bunnies" or "sex"? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836595)

Sorry, I'm unfamiliar with this conversation
Are we talking "dirty" as in when my mistress master tells me "you're a dirty, dirty boy"
or are we talking "dirty" as in when my mistress master tells me "clean up those dirty dust bunnies under the couch"

Deija Vu (1)

pcjunky (517872) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836633)

This seems strangely familiar. Oh yea I read it on nytimes.com TWO DAYS AGO! Come on slashdot find some news thats NEW!

Why Nuclear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836647)

I never understood why you really needed nuclear material for a "dirty" bomb. Couldn't a terrorist be just as, if not more, effective flying a dust cropper over a city or packing a standard bomb with obtainable poisonous chemcials and/or aerosolized glass dust etc? Seems to me there would be easier ways to greatly harm a city rather than having to obtain nuclear materials.

stupid (1)

senatorpjt (709879) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836653)

The amount of radioactive material in a moisture density sensor is negligible, and the price is quite high. You'd get more radioactive material per dollar by going around and stockpiling smoke detectors or camping lantern mantles. And, assuming the "terrorists" are arabs, we've HANDED them the material for making a dirty bomb - the easiest way to get material would be to mine a battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq for depleted uranium shells. Or, they could steal a counterweight from an oil drill or a jet. This is stupid.

If MR Burns can get for his plat and keep with.... (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836693)

bribes what is to stop people who have the cash to pay some one off.

Re:If MR Burns can get for his plat and keep with. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836783)

Somehow, I doubt the Simpsons are real.

Fearful control freaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19836869)

I don't mean to troll, but it often strikes me how afraid you Americans are. Relax and try to be nice to people, so they don't *want* to hurt you. If you think you can prevent people from hurting you by monitoring and controlling everything you are underestimating "everything".

"9/11" not "911" (0, Offtopic)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#19836953)

Go ahead and mod this -1 Pedantic, but:

"9/11" was the mass murder of 3000 people; "911" is a phone number.

Ebay? (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837037)

Talk about a chance to become an Ebay powerseller...

Personaly, we could give them LOTS of nuke material... just tell the terrorists to all gather in one spot and catch....

It was worse in the UK till the 1980s (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837047)

I may have posted about this before. Years ago I took over the "chemistry section" in an industrial R&D Department. It turned out the person in charge wasn't actually a chemist - but he was a tinkerer. In a locked cupboard I found, inter alia, about a kilogram of thorium oxide and some other even more interesting stuff that I won't specify. Before the mid 80s you could just buy it from chemical suppliers with almost no control. He went off to pursue an alternative career, and the substances went off in a van with hazard signs all over after being sealed up in a thick layer of epoxy resin.

There must have been lots of other idiots like him, and there must be lots of other unrecorded samples lying around in warehouses and sheds. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy associated with dumping it is such that many people would just stay quiet about it and hope no-one noticed (it cost us nearly $30000 to dispose of our little store of radioactives, most of which was paperwork.)

I guess you could make quite a neat little dirty bomb with a few kilos of ANFO and a kilo of finely powdered thorium oxide, certainly condemn a fair number of people to a long term death from cancer. A sensible response would be to appeal to all factory owners, medical facilities etc. to look for any old radioactives and hand them in under an amnesty at no charge and with no questions asked, rather than give the impression that the moment you report anything your business will be shut down while they try to charge you with something.

Why is a license needed for this? (1)

kenb215 (984963) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837067)

I feel that this shows two separate problems. The first is how easy it is to fool the regulators and get a license. The second is just how many things are over-regulated, and done so in a completely arbitrary and irrational manner. Why is a license needed to get nearly harmless amounts of nuclear material when found in industrial equipment while, as David Hahn (the Radioactive Boy Scout) [wikipedia.org] showed, the same stuff can be found in common household items?
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