Homeland Security

Most Powerful US Nuke On The Chopping Block

The United States’ most powerful nuclear weapon is now being dismantled over at Pantex:

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) - The last of the nation’s most powerful nuclear bombs _ a weapon hundreds of times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima _ is being disassembled nearly half a century after it was put into service at the height of the Cold War.


Put into service in 1962, when Cold War tensions peaked during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the B53 weighed 10,000 pounds and was the size of a minivan. According to the American Federation of Scientists, it was 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, killing as many as 140,000 people and helping end World War II.

The B53 was designed to destroy facilities deep underground, and it was carried by B-52 bombers.


With its destruction, the next largest bomb in operation will be the B83, said Hans Kristensen, a spokesman for the Federation of American Scientists. It’s 1.2 megatons, while the B53 was 9 megatons.

Thank goodness.

While I’m sure it would irk some neoconservatives and chickenhawks, it is always a good sign to see such destructive weapons be laid to rest. The time of nuclear deterrance ended in the late eighties, and we’re in a different period where simply having the biggest nuke won’t protect us from foreign threats.

Can we just call them the Gendarmerie already?

I’m certainly not the first to notice this, but can we just give up on the fiction that our police officers are actually civilians? If you needed further evidence to see that they are becoming another wing of the armed forces, take a look at this monster:

Big SWAT Tank

What you are looking at is the new “PitBull VX” from Alpine Armoring, a vehicle specially designed for SWAT teams.

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Cool!” Or maybe, “Actually, they could probably use one of those.” And, true, Detroit and Philly might need one of these. But anywhere else?

I thought one of the commenters thoughts best expressed my own:

Also, the whole argument, “We should do so-and-so to save lives” is the most ridiculous government argument I’ve ever heard.

The purpose of (local, state, federal) government’s is to serve their populace. “Saving lives” is surely a good application of serving your populace. No one seems to understand that money and budgetary constraints exist even when it comes to “saving lives.”

You simply cannot get 100% coverage in anything like this. First, it is probably impossible to and secondly, it would be far too expensive even if you could. It is all boils down to math and statistics. You do certain things/make certain purchases in the hope that it will “save more lives.” If this 200k purchase of a police vehicle or 750k purchase of another ladder truck will save more lives, that’s great - it’s all touchy feely.

A Hero In Nashville

From the Tennessean:

A 41-year-old Clarksville woman was arrested after Nashville airport authorities say she was belligerent and verbally abusive to security officers, refusing for her daughter to be patted down at a security checkpoint.

Andrea Fornella Abbott yelled and swore at Transportation Security Administration agents Saturday afternoon at Nashville International Airport, saying she did not want her daughter to be “touched inappropriately or have her “crotch grabbed,” a police report states.

After the woman refused to calm down, airport police said, she was charged with disorderly conduct and taken to jail. She has been released on bond.

Now, I don’t support violence towards anyone. Even acting violent to TSA security screeners, who are now officially a notch below police officers, is unacceptable. Yet, nothing I’ve seen says she actually threatened violence, she just “swore.” And quite frankly, when you’ve observed the TSA’s child unfriendly policies after the last few months, wouldn’t you swear at them too? (Although apparently the TSA has “revised” the policies, it will only reduce, not eliminate, child patdowns. In other words, they will have a lesser amount of government-sponsored child molestation, not have eliminated government-sponsored child molestation*. Got it.)

I’m not going to take this as a bellweather of anything, since there are far too many people who go through this insane process without thinking, blindly following the state, but it is refreshing to see someone stand up to this insanity. I hope to see more of it as time goes on, hope to see more people just stand up and say “ENOUGH.”

Photo of the Day: It’s for your own protection

Via David Rittgers at Cato @ Liberty comes this photo of a TSA agent “inspecting” a passenger with his pants pulled down to proved he isn’t a terrorist:


WikiLeaks releases another round of cables

WikiLeaks has dropped another load of secret cables, putting the United States in an embarrasing situation:

WikiLeaks has dropped its bombshell cache of U.S. diplomatic cables, ripping the cloak off scores of secret deals and duds, including clandestine North Korean support for Iran and the Bush administration’s failed attempt to remove nuclear material from Pakistan.

The release — more than a quarter-million back-channel cables that include brutally candid assessments of world leaders and previously undisclosed details of nuclear and antiterrorism activity — represents the most embarrassing and potentially damaging disclosure of American diplomatic material in decades.

“I don’t see the world ending … but lots of red, sputtering faces in D.C., embassies and capitals,” a senior American diplomat told POLITICO early Sunday, just before the release of the documents, which chronicle the sprawling growth of the U.S. diplomatic and intelligence corps after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The diplomat also predicted that governments and individuals overseas are likely to clam up as a result of the disclosures, “since no one will trust us to keep a secret for a while,” while “various and sundry interest groups will cherry-pick whatever can be found in the documents to support whatever version of reality they are peddling.”

Oppose TSA procedures? You’re an extremist

Are you frustrated with how the Transportation Security Administration is treating passengers? Did you encourage travelers to participate on National Opt Out Day? If so, you are a “domestic extremist,” according to the Department of Homeland Security:

Following the publication of my article titled “Gate Rape of America,” I was contacted by a source within the DHS who is troubled by the terminology and content of an internal memo reportedly issued yesterday at the hand of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Indeed, both the terminology and content contained in the document are troubling. The dissemination of the document itself is restricted by virtue of its classification, which prohibits any manner of public release. While the document cannot be posted or published, the more salient points are revealed here. emists.”

The memo, which actually takes the form of an administrative directive, appears to be the product of undated but recent high level meetings between Napolitano, John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA),and one or more of Obama’s national security advisors. This document officially addresses those who are opposed to, or engaged in the disruption of the implementation of the enhanced airport screening procedures as “domestic extremists.”

George Will: Paging John Locke

No doubt the invasive tactics being used by the Transportation Security Administration have people angry. They feel like they are being abused and treated like criminals by a government that’s supposed to protect them.

In a way that only he can put it, George Will discusses the underlying philosphical problem with what the TSA is doing to Americans:

When TSA personnel began looking for weapons of mass destruction in [John] Tyner’s underpants, he objected to having his groin patted. A TSA functionary, determined to do his duty pitilessly — his duty is to administer the latest (but surely not the last) wrinkle in the government’s ever-intensifying protection of us — said: “If you’re not comfortable with that, we can escort you back out and you don’t have to fly today.”

Tyner: “I don’t understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying.”

TSA: “This is not considered a sexual assault.”

Tyner: “It would be if you weren’t the government … “

TSA: “Upon buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.”

Oh? John Locke, call your office.

The theory — perhaps by now it seems like a quaint anachronism — on which the nation was founded is, or was: Government is instituted to protect pre-existing natural rights essential to the pursuit of happiness. Today, that pursuit often requires flying, which sometimes involves the wanding of 3-year-olds and their equally suspicious Teddy bears.

George Carlin On Airport Security

It’s Carlin so it’s a little NSFW, but funny and spot-on:

TSA is out of control

TSA groping

You want to know why so many people are bothered by these invasive “pat downs” being conducted by the Transportation Security Administration. It’s because they are treating us, including children, like criminals. Check out this video from November 19th at Salt Lake City International Airport:

Just this past week a couple of cancer survivors were forced to go through humiliating security process. A North Carolina woman was forced to remove her prosthetic breast and show it to a TSA officer in order to pass through the security check point:

The TSA screener “put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’ ” Bossi told the station. “And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that.’ “

Bossi said she removed the prosthetic from her bra. She did not take the name of the agent, she said, “because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”

It’s time for TSA to go away

The outrage directed that the Transportation Security Administration over its use of full-body scanners and “pat downs,” which can be more accurately described as sexual harassment, has been palpable. People are angry, they feel like they are being assaulted and harassed. It doesn’t stop at passengers. And at this point, you have to ask if the actions taken by the TSA, which amounts to invasive security theater, is terrorism itself.

Over at Forbes, Art Carden explains that it’s time for the Transportation Security Administration to be abolished:

For fiscal conservatives, it’s hard to come up with a more wasteful agency than the TSA.  For privacy advocates, eliminating an organization that requires you to choose between a nude body scan or genital groping in order to board a plane should be a no-brainer.

But won’t that compromise safety?  I doubt it.  The airlines have enormous sums of money riding on passenger safety, and the notion that a government bureaucracy has better incentives to provide safe travels than airlines with billions of dollars worth of capital and goodwill on the line strains credibility.  This might be beside the point: in 2003, William Anderson incisively argued that some of the steps that airlines (and passengers) would have needed to take to prevent the 9/11 disaster probably would have been illegal.

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