By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
U.S. Drops Bigger Bombs on Darker People
U.S. propaganda portrays Al Qaeda and the Taliban as one and the samea gang of dark-skinned subhuman monsters who must be squashed like cockroaches, by any means necessary. This is exactly how American propaganda depicted the Japanese in World War IIlittle yellow guys who lost their equilibrium at night. The white Germans, on the other hand, were viewed as just like us: clearheaded, tough, clean fighters.
To get rid of these nasty tan bugs, we're hitting them with everything we've got. We can't use nuclear weaponsat least not yet, so the next best thing is the Daisy Cutter. The world's biggest conventional bomb, the Daisy Cutter weighs 15,000 pounds and costs $27,318 a shot. Originally used to clear jungle for chopper pads in Vietnam, the bomb was later employed as an antipersonnel weapon there and in the Gulf War. The U.S. military has 225 of these rigs.
The Daisy Cutter is basically a big drum filled to the brim with an assortment of relatively inexpensive explosives. Dropped from 6000 feet by parachute so the pilot can escape, the bomb detonates about three feet off the ground with a terrifying concussion. Do-gooders portray the Daisy Cutter as a weapon of mass destruction, but the military views it as a psy-ops weapon, calculated to scare the hell out of enemy troops.
Soviet Nukes Give D.C. Big Squeeze
From Russia With Love
All last week Washington resounded with administration scare tactics. First there was a national terrorist alert, issued despite objections from the FBI staff. Then came a growing undercurrent of concern over runaway Russian nuclear weapons.
Here's what we really know about these weapons: The Russians had 84 suitcase bombs, compact explosives weighing about 70 pounds, says nuclear theft expert Matthew Bunn of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Some of them may be missing. John Eldredge of Jane's Intelligence Reviewtold the Voice that British and U.S. intelligence see the missing suitcase bombs as the result of "inadvertent commerce or paper accounting errors." But no one, including Russia, knows for sure. A terrorist could hide a suitcase bomb just about anywherein luggage left at a train station, in the back of a truck parked near the Capitol, or on the deck of a pleasure boat cruising up the Potomac. The resulting blast would have a circumference of half a mile, and a Chernobyl-like radioactive effect across the city.
"You're talking about a bomb, a device with a capability of one kiloton of destruction, which . . . would cause severe destruction of a major inner-city area, perhaps causing a multitude of buildings to collapse with the people inside of them," Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania told PBS two years ago. "So you'd have a massive loss of life, you'd have massive radioactive contamination, and you'd have massive havoc, unlike any that we've prepared for in the past."
Despite such horrifying scenarios, U.S. officials are more worried about small nuclear artillery shells that aren't accounted for. You could shoot one of these out of a gun or drop them like bombs from small planes. The U.S. stopped producing these shells long ago, and they were believed to have all been dismantled. However, one type proved difficult to destroy, and nearly 300 of these are still around. No one knows how many shells are in the Russian inventory. They were supposed to be mothballed by 2000 under a gentleman's agreement, but when Joshua Handler, a Princeton expert on the subject, spoke with a Russian general a few months ago, the general "dodged" his questions. "Several dozen, hundreds, or thousands may exist in storage," Handler said.
Additional reporting: Meritxell Mir and Sarah Park