Only you can prevent a giant nuclear explosion.
October 17, 2005 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Last Best Chance is a docudrama that shows the threat posed by vulnerable nuclear weapons and materials around the world and underscores what the stakes are. The plot: al Qaeda terrorists steal nuclear material to make bombs, and then sneak them into the US. The 47 minute film airs tonight on HBO, and is also available as a free DVD. More interesting are the powerful figures behind the film. It was produced by The Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to reduce the global threats from WMDs. NTI's board is co-chaired by Ted Turner and Sam Nunn (D-GA). The hope is that appealing directly to the public will force politicians to act. The film and its creators were profiled yesterday on CBS News Sunday Morning.

(And to help our discussion here, they've even provided a discussion guide.)
posted by clgregor (22 comments total)
Here's the video link again:
posted by clgregor at 11:57 AM on October 17, 2005

For all of DHS's failings, radiation sensors have been deployed at points of entry into LA and NYC, at least.

I'm more worried about dirty bombs. It would seem easy enough to steal existing radioactive materials from industrial and medical sites within metropolitan areas. Add a group of domestic right-wing or fundamentalist Islamic terrorists inside the city and disaster can easily result.
posted by Rothko at 12:11 PM on October 17, 2005

A free dvd??? Where's the free download link at... i think Turner Inc... can afford the banwidth
posted by matimer at 12:24 PM on October 17, 2005

Kerry had an ambitious plan, beyond business as usual.
posted by stbalbach at 12:29 PM on October 17, 2005

I'm more worried about dirty bombs.

Don't be. The only real danger (aside from the explosion) from a dirty bomb is from the terror it induces. They are not anywhere near the threat of other types of attacks.
posted by srboisvert at 1:01 PM on October 17, 2005

My how far this great nations has come.

Roosevelt: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"

Bush: "Fear, it's what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner"

When did we become such a nation of pussies?
posted by any major dude at 1:13 PM on October 17, 2005

Well, we have a choice.
* A real but remote possibility of a lethal attack
* A considerably higher possibility of a less-lethal attack

I suspect that a radiological attack is at least ten times more likely, even though it would cause considerably few immediate casualties. In either case, the NTI proposals are recommended.
posted by dhartung at 1:20 PM on October 17, 2005

How about a TV special on the more likely scenario, America nuking some entirely innocent nation because of TV specials like this one.
posted by piscatorius at 2:40 PM on October 17, 2005

I'm belatedly in favor of this video and the NTI initiative : my only reservation is the gratuitious Al Qaeada product placement.

I'd be far more at ease if the video showcased a somewhat less tendentious brand.

Not sure what to suggest though....
posted by troutfishing at 2:43 PM on October 17, 2005

“When did we become such a nation of pussies?
posted by any major dude”

I agree with the sentiment, as well as the possibility we might pre-emptively nuke some country because they got their hands on some material. I’m not happy about the whole “terr” fixation either.

But making sure weapons grade material doesn’t get into the wrong hands is and should be a priority.

Of course the ‘wrong hands’ are pretty much anyone that would use them on a civilian population, so that could under the new policies include the USA.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:55 PM on October 17, 2005

This was a fantastic video; I highly recommend that everyone watches it. You may not completely agree with the level of fear it seeks to invoke, but the facts are real and are conveyed in an intelligent and understandable manner.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:01 PM on October 17, 2005

Rothco: I'm more worried about dirty bombs.
At the levels created by most probable sources, not enough radiation would be present in a dirty bomb to kill people or cause severe illness. - U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
And here are some details about how in 1987 Iraq failed to design an effective dirty bomb even with millions of dollars and substantial industrial capacity.

Dirty bombs don't work!
posted by Chuckles at 3:07 PM on October 17, 2005

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

And fear is damn scary.
posted by wah at 3:11 PM on October 17, 2005

Dirty bombs don't work!

In the right circumstance, they would. It's more the fear of radiation than the radiation itself, but a dirty bomb in Manhattan at the right time would probably kill as many as losing One, Two and Seven World Trade Center did -- mostly by people running over each other to run away.

But, in the end, that's punk level. When the bad guys get a real nuke -- even a Hiroshima level fission device -- into Manhattan at the right time, they'll kill that many people -- in the first tenth of a second.

In the end, there are two weapons. There's nuclear weapons, and there's everything else -- and in comparision, everything else -- Anthrax, Sarin, 757s into Skyscrapes, tanks, bombs, bombers -- they're nothing compared to one nuclear weapon in the right place -- and, anymore, once you have the nuke, it's nothing but dumb luck that will stop. All he needs is one bomb, one day, and one bad attitude.

And that's why the Bush Doctorine will go down as a disaster. It's encourging bombs and bad attitudes. They can't stop our tanks or our planes -- the best in the world by a large margin, but we can't stop all thier angry men. Right now, with random explosives and AKs, they're killing us at a pretty good clip.

Nobody will be able to help when they get something more.
posted by eriko at 6:24 PM on October 17, 2005


That is a great point. The war of terror will NEVER end b/c the enemy can't be smoked out or cashed out (like the USSR) the only way is for us - the intelligent world - to change our thinking!
posted by flowfeel at 6:42 PM on October 17, 2005

I see it's Blame Canada time again. The movie features a bomb smuggled in via a Canada-US border crossing which looks more like a lemonade stand than customs post.
Who did their research? A seven year old?
posted by capilano at 7:46 PM on October 17, 2005

They have an agenda, and if they can strike enough fear by getting the easily led to stare with terror at the glowing babysitter, well, they're succeeding.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:51 PM on October 17, 2005

I'm not really that worried about who might get nuclear material and make a dirty bomb.

I'm far more worried about countries who we know for a fact have nuclear material. Specifically, I'm concerned that they may obtain more.

It's sad that nobody has been talking about this since the election.
posted by afroblanca at 8:28 PM on October 17, 2005

This is really kind of pathetic. I'm more than a little disappointed that it takes these propogandistic measures to awaken citizens to the REAL dangers out there, while more than all of resources and being funnelled into a boondoggle of a war which promises to never end.

How much hope is there, if the military-industrial-congressional complex can continue to ignore the less profitable dangers which threaten the nation without rebuke? Is this what Richard Clarke should have pursued after (before?) Bush took office, to shock the American people into thought/action? What about the threats that exist which can't afford a nice production team to churn out a movie of the week to raise all our consciousnesses?

It's one thing to assume that the rest of the world thinks us morons. It's another to act like it. And I really don't fancy the line that "real Americans are just busy getting by, they don't want to have to worry about these things." To that, it must be said tough titty. I, for one, am played out on the 'Americans lose their innocence' stories.

And that moment in Bush/Kerry debate where Kerry nails loose nukes as the greatest threat to our nation (I agree with this, FWIW, and embrace this promo as a necessary(?) evil), and Bush says 'yeah, what he said' was one of the lousiest moments of debating I've seen. It's truly demoralizing to watch your candidate be given a 'slam-dunk' retort to an obfuscating incompetent on national TV, and watch him smile in silence, instead of pointing out that Bush has done less for this problem that Clinton's status quo would have.

It's great to have all the facts on your side, but showing no sense of imperitive for getting the point made is disheartening.

Eriko, I doubt a dirty bomb, even in midtown during rush hour, would cause 3,000 people trampled. It would hurt much more thorugh displacing residents/workers afraid of exposure in the ensuing days/weeks after the attack. But even a large dirty bomb would most likely effect what, 3 blocks, plus wind trail? And really, after getting used to the smell of the WTC's wreckage, radiation is going to be even less effective to scare a people who chomp on Rumsfeld's Aspertame-equipped gum without question.
posted by Busithoth at 5:36 AM on October 18, 2005

The makers need to make this film available via the Web (BitTorrent, breaking it up into small chunks for regular download, whatever).

Additionally, several writers (e.g., this article) have indicated that a high-yield nuclear bomb is quite difficult to make, but a clunkier, smaller one is not as difficult...even so, dirty bombs are the much more likely scenario.

Big question: after Katrina, does anyone have any confidence in Bush admin to handle this? Duh...
posted by WildThang at 6:07 AM on October 18, 2005

A dirty bomb in Manhattan would accomplish exactly what the modified strategy for Al Qaeda purports to do, i.e. bankrupt us.

That being said, for pure killing and slaughter purposes, nothing touches a real nuke.
posted by wah at 7:21 AM on October 18, 2005

That being said, for pure killing and slaughter purposes, nothing touches a real nuke.

Well, nothing outside of a well-organized government anyway.
posted by moonbiter at 12:11 PM on October 18, 2005

« Older San Francisco 16 years later   |   Everett Massacre Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments