Thursday, October 18, 2012


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OSINT News recalls a CNN report, from the President Bush administration, about U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announcing that a U.S. citizen had been arrested and charged with plotting to detonate a "dirty bomb," in Washington, D.C. Dirty bombs do not use a nuclear reaction, but instead use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive materials. After the arrest, CNN Health Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen spoke with CNN anchor Leon Harris about what steps to take after a dirty bomb detonates. It was an interesting interview and revealed useful data for anyone who is unfortunate enough to be near a "dirty" bomb detonation.

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Cohen wanted to know the most important things to do, even before you get to a hospital. It's interesting what she found out. Hospitals are supposed to be able to deal with this particular act of terrorism, but preparation among hospitals vary considerably. On a pesonal level, here's what to do; it's actually pretty simple:

If there has been a dirty bomb detonation, a bomb that emits some sort of radiation, the first thing you're supposed to do is take off your clothes. That may sound strange, but the reason is that if there is any radiation that has gotten on your clothing, or dirt that has gotten on your clothing, you want that off. And once you've taken that off, that is a huge step because you've gotten rid of that surface the radiation might have gotten onto.

The second thing that you're supposed to do is wash up, preferably a shower. If not, then wash hands and face and other areas that might not have been protected by the clothing. In fact, if people come running to a hospital ... the first thing they would do would be to tell you, 'You can't come in here,' and they will theoretically have set up stations outside the hospital to do the kind of decontamination described above.

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The other thing that's very important is that if you have been in the vicinity of such an attack, you must assume the radiation is in the air. There is face mask called an N-95 mask- the number is important, because not all masks do the same thing. Interestingly, Cohen had such a face mask that she retrieved from down the hall because CNN, like other large companies, have or should have them available in case there were a "dirty bomb" attack or a chemical kind of attack, or any kind of accident, that would keep you from inhaling any radiation. Why not obtain an N-95 mask for you and your loved ones?

In sum, if it happens- clothes off, wash up, use an N-95 mask. Pretty simple! Cohen and Harris discussed how many hospitals are equipped to handle a radiological attack via dirty bomb, with an outbreak of radiation in a major urban area. Harris quoted one report that stated there is only one hospital in the country set up to handle that kind of thing. Cohen said that that was not completely right, because there's a difference between hospitals that have set up an area that's exclusively for that or that specialize in that. All hospitals, if they're accredited hospitals, are supposed to be equipped to deal with this kind of emergency or with a chemical or biological attack. Some, obviously, are going to be better than others. Large urban hospitals would have had training for their doctors and nurses, where smaller rural ones wouldn't have had the ability to have those training programs. But all hospitals are supposed to be able to deal with them.

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Cohen also pointed out that it's true that not all hospitals are properly equipped to handle a "dirty bomb" attack. He stated that not all have had the kind of training they're supposed to and that it is unknown whether or not they can deal with it, because America hasn't had that kind of attack. Harris said, "God forbid, if there were an attack today, how many hospitals would handle it well? We don't know. It's never happened. But they're supposed to have the kind of training that would allow them to deal with it."

Harris asked Cohen about "taking off your clothes is the first thing you do." He wondered if the radiation would go through your clothing anyway. Cohen said that could happen. However, it would still be helpful to take off the clothes. It also depends on the proximity. If a bomb went off, God forbid, right between you and me, shrapnel would go into us and radiation would get in through the shrapnel. But if you're talking about people much farther away, taking off the clothes is a huge step.

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OSINT News wonders just how equipped and trained hospitals are in urban areas. We also recommend that Americans educate and prepare themselves for a WMD attack of any kind. Personal preparation can save your life, as well as the lives of your loved ones. A little information goes a long way if terrorists do strike and a dirty dirty bomb  explodes nearby. Do you know how to decontaminate yourself and your loved ones by using items found in your home after a radiological, chemical, or biological agent attack? Have you thought about where you find safe drinking water in an emergency or how you can find or create shelter to save you and your family from blasts, poisons, or radiation? Have you sat down and discussed what your options are for survival if you or your family members ride mass transit buses, trams, and boats? Perhaps, it would also be helpful to list what supplies you should have in your shelter and how much of each item. Also determine what kinds of radios and telephones are reliable in an emergency. 

OSINT News believes the threat of radiological terrorism is increasing. This threat has come to the attention of the international community as it became clear that terrorist organizations are seeking nuclear and radiological material to manufacture and use improvised nuclear devices (IND) and 'dirty bombs'. Terrorists are also focusing in on sabotaging 
nuclear power facilities. But while nuclear weapons and INDs still remain relatively secure from terrorist access, radiological material is more readily available in large quantities throughout the world.

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And, OSINT News believes that Iran's nuclear power plants will soon be producing plutonium-239 residue inside their reactors and "spent" fuel rods. Enter Hezbollah, Iran's long-time terrorist proxy. We wrote an article on this new uncertainty- Iran and it's terrorist proxy, Hezbollah increase likelihood of "super dirty" bomb being detonated inside America.

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A bit about radiological explosives or other dispersal devices- they're easy to make and to use. Radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) come in many shapes and sizes; a dirty bomb uses a conventional explosion to scatter radioactive material. Terrorists could launch an attack by placing a container of radioactive material in a public place and an airplane can easily disperse radioactive material as a powder or an aerosol. OSINT News recalls a crop duster aircraft was stolen by terrorists a decade ago. Fortunately, they were caught. What was their plans?

On a grand scale, a nuclear facility could become an RDD. Intentional damage done to a nuclear power plant or other site could release radiation, contaminating the immediate surroundings or even beyond. RDDs of any kind present a potent and effective terrorist weapon because they threaten to expose civilian populaces to radiation, which would create panic out of proportion to the modest number of casualties likely to result from limited doses of radiation.

Personal preparation for a radiological attack will, indeed, greatly increase the chances that you, and your loved ones, will survive.

Robert Morton, Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO). A portion (10%) of this site's ad revenues is donated to the AFIO. The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. OSINT News is always looking for different perspectives regarding the Intelligence Community- got a thought, article or comment you'd like to submit? Contact us on the SECURE CONTACT FORM

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