In this post-9/11 world it can take more than a bit of courage to turn on the news programs.
For instance, on the morning of December 4, 2013, the major broadcast networks provided the very disconcerting news that a truck transporting an obsolete medical device containing pellets of Cobalt 60 was stolen in Mexico. What a way to start the day!
The immediate concern was whether or not those who stole the truck knew what they were stealing. While the radioactive pellets could not be used to create a nuclear fission or fusion bomb, those highly dangerous pellets could, conceivably, be used to create a so-called dirty bomb. A dirty bomb consists of non-nuclear explosives, but contains radioactive materials that are widely dispersed when the bomb is detonated.
This is not unlike an “anti-personnel” bomb containing nails, ball-bearings or other such materials that, upon detonation, creates high-speed shrapnel to inflict maximum harm as the shards of metal rip into the flesh of hapless victims, as we recently saw in the bombing of the Boston Marathon this past April 15.
A “dirty bomb” would not only inflict damage as a result of the blast, but the radioactive material would create the additional nightmare of killing people who are struck by the radioactive debris. These victims might suffer deadly radiation poisoning even if the immediate injuries were not particularly severe. Additionally, the cleanup of the area where the debris was spewed would be difficult, costly, time-consuming and keep people out of the space for a significant period of time. This would be very disruptive for an entire neighborhood for a possibly lengthy period of time.
A dirty bomb is second only to a nuclear weapon in inflicting damage and depriving access to an area.
As Mexican officials scurried about attempting to locate the truck and its potentially deadly cargo, DHS and the administration attempted to mollify Americans by saying that our ports of entry have sensitive sensors that could easily detect the radiation emitted by the device that was stolen.
What a relief! Now all that we had to hope for is that those who might want to smuggle the Cobalt 60 pellets into the United States would be considerate enough to enter the United States through a port of entry.
What are the odds that they would not evade the inspections process used by smugglers of illegal aliens and narcotics? (Often the smugglers of aliens also smuggle narcotics.)
By nightfall, to everyone's relief, news organizations such as CNN announced that the truck had been found along with the obsolete medical device which had apparently been dismantled.
Fortunately the Cobalt pellets were reported found in the truck so that the only cleanup that will be needed is within the area where the truck was found. Still, according to the report, this is not going to be an easy task.
Because our borders are as porous as a sieve, security failures in Mexico can quickly create nightmares inside the United States. Yet the administration and political leaders who are determined to dismantle our borders think that border security is a punch line in a political stump speech.
On May 10, 2011, President Obama delivered an outrageous “stump speech” in which he said that Republicans want a moat with alligators on the border.
We got lucky – this time!
However, if hope is not a strategy, then dumb luck is not a success!