Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Defending Against the One Percent Attack

An interesting discussion was initiated over at G-Scobe today concerning whether or not the government is wasting its time worrying about low probability (one percent chance) terrorist attacks that if pulled off would create massive destruction.

My theory is if you add up enough one percent chances you end up with a pretty big threat.

While it may seem a waste of time to worry about something that is unlikely to happen that is the best way to defend a country. By definition the least likely avenue of attack is going to be the most vulnerable. A smart enemy is going to launch a low probability-high impact attack. A dumb enemy will charge into the teeth of your common sense defenses and should get caught or killed.

That is why VP Cheney, as stated on G-Scobe, has to give a high level of credence to something like Osama gaining nuclear weapons technology or even worse a working weapon. Is it unlikely that Osama is humping a tactical nuclear warhead around in his backpack. Yes. Would one such 30 kiloton weapon, say from the old Soviet stockpile of tactical nukes, wipe out Boston. You bet.

The US Army and Navy did not think the Japanese had the capability or nerve to strike Pearl Harbor. The French did not think the German Army could attack with heavy armored forces through the dense Ardennes forest in June 1940. Osama knew we did not take our airport security seriously (and still don't in my mind.) In each case an enemy picked the weakest and least likely place to strike and pulled off a massive victory. History is littered with similar cases.

On the other point brought up that our government is torturing mentally handicapped terrorists to gain information, well, that is tough to figure out. Personally, if you align yourself with a terrorist organization then you deserve a little torture. But that is a personal feeling.

From a practical standpoint I seriously doubt a tortured individual will give out any valuable information. They will say anything to simply stop the punishment. If the point of the torture is to punish fine, but if its intel is needed then there are better ways of obtaining the data.


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