What will the world look like in October 2002? Slate asked experts on terrorism, strategy, the military, the Middle East, and the economy to describe how they think events will play out in the coming year.
Something I wrote somewhere else:
Wed, 17 Oct 2001 13:38:46 CDT (60 lines)
More thoughts about why the anthrax releases could be part of the
same campaign as the WTC/Pentagon attacks.
1. Think of this as an ongoing campaign against us. It may have
started with a succession of bombings with fairly long casualty
lists, but that doesn’t rule out other tactics. Saying that the
Anthrax release couldn’t be Bin Ladin because it isn’t like anything
he has done before would be like saying the allies must not have
dropped saying the A-bomb on Hiroshima because they had never used an
A-bomb against a target before. It is reasonable to expect a range
2. Even ignoring what is happening at the capitol, the scale of the
releases is by no means small. While relatively few people have been
affected, the attention commanded is quite significant, especially on
compairison to how little risk was incurred by the perpetrator(s).
3. As I have already mentioned, the anthrax releases seem like
relatively low exposure & low coordination actions. They can succeed
at keeping the heat on even if many terrorist cells in the country
are either forced to lay low or are disrupted by anti-terrorism
4. Viewing this as one tactic in a larger campaign, the anthrax
releases seem likely to succeed is an act of indirection. They must
be diverting resources that would otherwise be deployed elsewhere in
the anti-terrorism effort. This might provide enough cover to
organize and execute a larger scale operation like the ones Bin Ladin
seems to favor.
September 11th while in some ways appears as just another event in
the escalation of terrorism in general and in Bin Ladin’s terrorist
campaign in particular, in other ways it is quite unprecedented. We
would be wise to expect other unprecedented acts.
In that vein, I think the notion that it takes millions of dollars of
equipment to make “weapons grade” anthrax (as the anthrax release at
the capitol appears to be) needs to be challenged. I have no doubt
it takes millions of dollars to produce if you have millions of
dollars to spend on its production. If you do not have millions of
dollars, I would wager you could produce weapons grade material for
less. There would, of course, be tradeoffs.
You might, for example, need to rely on antibiotics for the safety of
your workers, rather than sound containment facilities, probably an
acceptable risk if you consider yourself to be at war.
You might only be able to construct a “pilot plant” which would be
incapable of turning out quantities required for large scale attacks,
but you would be able to turn out enough high quality material to
make people take notice, including people who might fund an expansion
of your capacity. Small releases against highly public targets
wouldn’t be a bad way to go
Or maybe you aren’t making it at all. Maybe you are just getting
whatever you can beg, buy or steal. You’d take what you could get
and spread it around where you are sure it would get noticed.
I, of course, have no idea what really is going on, I am just trying
to make sense of this all.