Lost in all the coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy were the sobering words of Vice President Dick Cheney about a calamity facing America that will dwarf anything it has ever experienced as a nation.

Characterizing it as “the greatest threat we face,” Cheney once again raised the ugly specter of nuclear terrorism against the U.S.
“It’s a very real threat,” he said, “something that we have to worry about and defeat every single day.”
Tying the warning to politicking over Iraq war policy, he said a precipitous withdrawal from that country by U.S. military forces would invite and encourage the terrorists to follow Americans home. “The fact is that the threat to the United States now of a Sept. 11 occurring with a group of terrorists armed not with airline tickets and box cutters, but with a nuclear weapon in the middle of one of our own cities, is the greatest threat we face,” he said.

Coupled with this grave caution was another development that occurred under the media radar screen.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will donate radiation detectors to Mexico and help install them in busy seaports to prevent a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon or “dirty bomb.”

Why does the U.S. consider ports of entry into Mexico a national security threat to America?

Because, increasingly, Mexico receives cargo ships from China destined for the U.S. cargo is unloaded in Mexico and transported by land to the U.S. – mostly by trucks getting a free pass at the border thanks to the NAFTA superhighway plans.

Meanwhile, however, America’s own ports are unable to screen the overwhelming number of cargo containers entering the country directly because of the sheer volume of imports.

Once a nuclear weapon reaches a port – particularly in a heavily populated area like New York – it’s already too late. It has already reached its destination and security personnel may be unable to defuse it or rapidly relocate it before the bomb is detonated.

There are plenty of other vulnerabilities in America’s Homeland Security apparatus, too.

Even while small portions of the border with Mexico are being patched with security fences to discourage illicit entry into the country, most of the 2,000 miles between the two nations are still wide open – for smuggling people, drugs, guns, terrorists and small nuclear weapons.

The job of protecting American lives from such threats should be the No. 1 role of the federal government. But it is a big job, an overwhelming job, and, frankly, Washington is failing in almost every imaginable way.

As WND pointed out recently, the federal government has shirked any responsibility for restoring a civil defense plan – one specifically geared for minimizing the loss of life for the worst-case eventuality some officials have characterized as “inevitable.” It has been left to individuals and local communities to do what Washington has refused to do.

A recent study of what such an attack might look like was a sobering wake-up call – but few Americans ever had even the opportunity to see it or hear about it.

Yet, this is a matter of survival – not just for millions of Americans, but maybe even the country itself.

Does America need to experience a disaster like this before government takes the bull by the horns and begins preparing?

Have we learned nothing from Sept. 11?

Don’t we realize this was just the first shot in a long war by determined and utterly ruthless enemies?

I’ve got news for you. Jack Bauer is not going to save us from nuclear terrorism. As much as we may love him, he isn’t real. He doesn’t exist. He’s a fictional character in a TV show.

But the threats he deals with every week are indeed real – more real than any of us would like to admit.

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