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Americans Less Secure Against Terrorism -
Sep 22, 1999
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States
is increasingly vulnerable to attack from hostile groups using high-tech
weapons and Americans could die "in large numbers" on home soil, according
to a report released Tuesday.
"For many years to come, Americans will
become increasingly less secure," according to the 143-page report drafted
by a high-powered commission sponsored by President Bill Clinton and the
"America will become increasingly vulnerable
to hostile attack on our homeland, and our military superiority will not
entirely protect us," said the report drafted by the Commission on National
Security, made up of 25 eminent defense experts who have served under successive
The report says that scientific progress
has boosted the potential for terrorism, citing the potential horror of
a cyber attack on the air traffic control systems on the US East Coast,
"as some 200 commercial aircrafts are trying to land safely in a
morning's rain and fog."
Worse still, the report indicates,
is the destructive power of biological weapons in the wrong hands.
"The most serious threat to our security may consist of unannounced attacks
on American cities by sub-national groups using genetically engineered
pathogens," it said.
"In the hands of despots, the new science
could become a tool of genocide on an unprecedented scale." Former
senator Warren Rudman brushed aside suggestion it was alarmist.
"This report is hardly apocalyptic," he said. "I have all the facts."
International terrorism expert
Mary-Jane Deeb said the report was close to reality. "The report has not
been released to spread panic but to prompt the US security agencies to
be more prudent and vigilant, especially in border areas," said Deeb, a
professor at American University here.
The report asserts that weapons of mass
destruction are being procured by states and terrorist groups and "Americans
will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers." Targets of
such terrorism could include economic sites such as banks and multinational
companies, the report states. "Threats to American security will be more
diffuse, harder to anticipate and more difficult to neutralize than ever
before," it said.
Space is another frontier ripe for militarization,
it said, and in the next few years space weaponry will threaten world security.
The report follows similar studies released
by the Pentagon in 1997 and Congress last assessing the post-Cold War threat
of terrorism to the United States. According to Deeb, the latest report
will add power to Pentagon arguments for more spending on defense against
terrorism, following last year's bombings against US embassies in Kenya
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