America Attacked: The Sequel

(link will eventually drop out from behind the pay wall)

Richard Clarke spins out a terrifyingly plausible look back from 2011. Why is it so scary? Because every single thing he mentions would be trivial to pull off, is entirely too easy to envision, and right now we cannot stop a single one of them. There’s footnotes explaining why each is plausible.

  • 2005 - Indonesian Al-Qaeda members - which don’t match any profile - come across the border from Canada. They simultaneously blow up trucks and detonate explosive suicide vests in Disneyworld, a Las Vegas casino, a California water park, and a few local casinos, killing 1000 people and wounding 4000. People stop going to these public areas of recreation. Armed gangs assault mosques in Detroit, New Jersey, northern Virginia, and southern California. The National Guard is required to quell the riots. The economy of Las Vegas collapses. Unemployment in Nevada reaches 28%. Civil liberties are shaved away more, more mass detentions from Muslim communities. Government says we’ve stopped them.

  • Next summer, 2006, The Mall of the States in Minnesota is attacked by Iraqi fedayeen militia members armed with semi-automatic wepaons, radicalized by the American presence in Baghdad. They kill 300 people before they are stopped by local SWAT teams. Simultaneously, malls in Dallas, Virginia, and LA are attacked by suicide drivers with explosive truck bombs. Retail shopping grinds to a halt nationwide. GDP growth goes negative. National unemployment hits 9.5%.

  • 18 governors announce they are abolishing their national guard units, funneling the troops into state militias that cannot be sent overseas and can be used to defend domestic security points. Bush pushes to suspend the Posse Comitatus Act, which prevents the military from domestic involvement. Military begins unmanned aerial vehicle survelliance of the United States.

  • Subway day. Bombs are detonated on the Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia subways, killing 200 and injuring 3000. The traffic networks into major US cities collapse under the increased personal commuter load.

  • Two days later, IEDs are detonated on 5 interstate train lines, killing 100. The railroads file for bankruptcy, unable to secure their lines.

  • Shortly after, Senate filibuster of Patriot Act III is broken. 40,000 troops are withdrawn from Iraq to defend domestic security. US military goals in Iraq official changed to defense of military bases that can be used for forward projection to attack terrorists. National security id card passes.

  • 2007 - US cannot stop Iranian nuclear development, and Iran has 7 mobile nuclear weapon launchers deployed. We luck out on intelligence and manage to destroy what looks like all of their fabrication plans and mobile launchers. Iranians respond by launching SCUDs at the Saudi oilfields, and the Iranian navy attacks Saudi tankers. Oil hits $80 a barrel.

  • A few weeks later, Stinger Day. Shoulder-launched missles are launched at incoming planes in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, and LA, killing 1200 people. Airline pilot unions refuse to fly until all planes are equipped with countermeasures. Airline executives halt flights until military troops guard runaway approaches. Delta, US Airways, and United file for bankruptcy.

  • The US bombers that struck the Iranian nukes refueled in Saudi Arabia. This is the final straw that inflames the budding Saudi Whabbi insurrection, many of whom returned radicalized from fighting US troops in Iraq. A coup takes down the Saudis. New leaders cancel all oil contracts with the United States, renegotiate with China as preferred long-term customer. US unemployment hits 15%.

    1. Iran launches a cyberattack on US routers, infecting them with a worm that disables the entire backbone of the United States internet. Banks, freight trains, power plants, the stock market, major hospitals, power grids, and traffic lights grind to a halt. Millions of americans sent home from work, unable to produce anything. Ensuing debacle gives China a strategic opening to push their new jointly developed free operating system, significantly cutting into US software dominance.
  • 2008 elections - third party wins 12% of the vote on a platform composed solely of shoring up civil liberties.

  • 2009 - A “domestic draft” is passed. Conscripts given first-responder, monitoring, or security jobs domestically.

  • President announces shortly after inauguration the detection of an Iranian/Hizbollah plot to bring nuclear weapons into the United States in retaliation for the US bombing. All ships within 200 miles of the united states required to broadcoast their location and cargo 24/7 on a satellite frequency or be sunk. Radiation detectors and cargo shipping tracking system installed at all US ports. Passage of “nuke squad” laws, giving nuclear detection teams the right to go anywhere, anytime in the United States without a warrant based on Geiger counters and other probable nuclear cause. Northern and Southern walls are built funnelling all Mexican and Canadian traffic to checkpoints.

  • 2010 - hijacked private executive jets are flown into chlorine gas facilites in New Jersey and Delaware. The resulting poison cloud kills 1,500 and wounds 4,000, many in the ensuing panic.

I really can’t do it justice; it’s the most terrifying thing I’ve read in years. My reaction is “I have got to get out of this goddamn country before I get killed.” Really, go pick it up.

Oh, and the following bloodless article by James Fallows where he interviews multiple nuclear experts in bloodless fashion is even worse. It’s a general article about all the things we haven’t done to stp terrorism and help domestic security, instead preferring to waste our time on pointless feel-good security measures like shoe removal before getting on planes and first-responder teams for Wyoming. Worst part:

Twice when I was interviewing authorities for this article, I heard a phrase that made me stop to be sure I had caught the words correctly. Once was when I was speaking with Stephen Van Evera, in his office at MIT. The other time was when I was speaking with Steven Miller, at Harvard. The word Van Evera used were “the worst failure of government in modern times.” Miller’s were only slightly different: “the single largest public-policy failure in recent memory.” They were referring to the same fact: that thirteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was in no apparent hurry to be sure that the 30,000 nuclear warheads in the Soviet arsenal had been safely locked away.

They’re not kidding. We are doing literally nothing about the loose USSR nukes.

What to think about all this? For the first time, I seriously considered moving out of the United States. Really, how implausible is all this? We’re just going to continue ever stupider-reactions overseas, blowing up and torturing Iraqis, sucking up to the craven Saudis, refusing to seriously come to consensus with the Iranians because that’d be “appeasement,” ditto for the North Koreans. The most stupidly hawkish candidate will always win. Mass death will result in ever-bigger cycles of retaliation, until eventually someone nukes a US city and democracy here ends.

Thousands of people are going to die, untold numbers outside the United States, and our political system & political values are apparently simply incapable of stopping it.

God bless the Free Republic chowderheads for stealing the whole thing. It’s available here:

The comments are hilarious. And a perfect example of why I think we’re doomed.

  • 2009 - The X-5 block of Project Manticore make a daring attempt at escape. Zack, the leader of the X-5 unit, helps Max Guevara to successfully escape. Terrorists set off an electromagnetic pulse 80 miles above the US, which single-handedly brings it to its knees. An electro-magnetic pulse disables any electrical apparatus within its blast radius. Data stored on hard disks and other storage media (including financial information stored on a bank’s computer) is completely erased beyond recovery. America becomes another broke ex-superpower looking for a handout.

Yeah yeah, go ahead and laugh. We cannot stop a single thing on that list, and our foreign policy is making it ever more likely someone’s going to decide to do them.

That all sounds like a novel. Something made up that could never possibly happen. I know it could though.


That’s what I thought back in 2001. Sure, it’s possible, but who would bother?

Example footnote: Survelliance tapes obtained in 2002 by the Justice Department in Detroit & Spanish authorities in Madrid had survelliance footage of the WTC, Las Vegas casinos, and Disneyland. Alerts issued? Nope. Security increased? Nope.

A commentary from Free Republic :

“And every time he opens his mouth he just adds more proof the Bush was right.”

Yeah, we’re doomed.

“In 2010, Jason McCullough stopped replying to himself. We knew this was a serious sign of the apocalypse.”

Clarke has inside knowledge! He must be a terrorist!

Any them terrorists come south of 47th, I’m-a bust they ass. I’ll be like, POP POP POW! Then I get in my motherfuckin’ Escalade and run over they ass.

The future is now!

Jason- Uh, yeah, that’s fiction. “18 governors”? Come on. It’s written in the same breathless style as the Turner Diaries.

Did you want to move out of America when you saw Independance Day?

So we should continue pouring 10s of billions into Iraq and do next to nothing to improve our border security and air and sea ports? I’ve yet to see one scenario written out in detail on how exactly democracy will springboard from a democratized Iraq to the rest of the Middle East.



The article is fearmongering of the worst sort. It’s the kind of thing liberals castigated Bush & Co. for during the previous four years - it really does read like something written by Tom Clancy.

That being said, it’s also useful to expose some of the (many) deficiencies in domestic security.

The problem is breathless stuff like “omg I’m going to move to Canada!” isn’t going to do anything - if you want to have a dialogue about this stuff, I’d suggest presenting something to support Richard Clarke’s attempt at genre fiction.


Jason, you wouldn’t give in to the bullshit fear tactics used by the Bush administration, would you? Don’t be so quick to believe the same tactics used by the other side.