Dropping the Ball on Terrorists' Nuclear Bomb

Just days before this year's presidential election, the majority of Americans considered terrorism to be a low-on-the-totem-pole concern. Studies by CNN put the average citizen's fear of a terrorist attack at its post-9/11 low. One month later, with at least 188 people murdered by terrorists in Mumbai, terrorism concerns are -- surprise, surprise -- with us again. Suddenly, the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) falling into the hands of terrorists is being headlined across the media stage.

This comes, in part, because of a bipartisan, congressionally mandated task force report released this week, one that says that America will likely face a nuclear or biological terrorist attack by 2013. "In our judgment, America's margin of safety is shrinking, not growing," the report says.

But this is not new. The report was over a year in the making. Countless high-profile WMD threat experts have been saying the very same thing for years. Americans seem to face or ignore these facts at whim. The attacks in Mumbai simply shifted people's perception. They had to come to terms with the fact that while many folks were telling CNN pollsters that terrorism was on the way out, suicide squads in the tribal areas of Pakistan were practicing aiming AK-47s at hotel guests.

Ostrich buries head in sand; jihadist sharpens swords.

The low-technology attacks in India dominated the world's attention for days. (You can buy a Russian-made AK-47 for $899.00 at GunBroker.com.) Imagine what a nuclear event would do. "Psychologically, a nuclear attack would stagger the world's imagination," says Graham Allison, an advisor on nuclear threats for decades, from the Reagan to the Clinton administrations. For years, Mr. Allison has been saying that terrorists getting hold of nukes is a threat that is very probable and real. In fact, he puts the odds of a nuclear terrorist event in the next decade at "more than 50 percent."