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The Will and the Means

From the AP:

Iran and North Korea both have the capability to produce nuclear weapons but al-Qaida is the CIA’s top nuclear concern because it is most likely to use them, agency director Michael Hayden said Tuesday.

“There is no greater national security threat facing the United States than al-Qaida and its associates,” Hayden said, according to a copy of his remarks prepared for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

With regard to North Korea, a known nuclear power, and Iran, Hayden said: “The question is not of capability, but intent.”

The point about intent over technology is an astute one. It’s the will to annihilate that made al Qaeda so dangerous to begin with. I never understood all that talk of “genius” and “brilliance” in regard to 9/11. Anyone with enough cash to put a team through a Florida flight school could have done the same thing. The genius comes in designing flying machines and constructing hundred-story buildings. (Even King Kong was able to throw one into the other.)

The planning involved in pulling off a nuclear attack calls for a much greater degree of operational proficiency than what was brought to bear on 9/11. The purchase, transfer, and detonation of a nuclear device (to say nothing of the construction of one) would require that al Qaeda get a series of absurdly challenging steps exactly right. It’s not box-cutters and seating arrangements. For this reason, it’s as critical that the U.S. goes after technologically advanced potential al Qaeda collaborators as it for us to take down al Qaeda itself.



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