US's New Spirit Of Sharing Intelligence Apparently Included Putting Nuclear Secrets Online

from the nice-work! dept

So, just after we spoke about how the U.S. intelligence community seemed to be intelligently adopting social media tools for sharing intelligence, along comes a story of when they may have gone too far. Apparently, due to a lot of political pressure to show what kind of weapons research was going on in Iraq, the administration put a bunch of the documents they’d found in Iraq into an online portal. Among the documents were plans from the early 90’s, that according to various nuclear experts could act as a “roadmap” for helping other nations build nuclear weapons. The site has been taken offline prior to the article being published, for obvious reasons. At the very least, it’s not quite as bad as in Japan, where a contractor leaked nuclear secrets on a popular file sharing program.

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Comments on “US's New Spirit Of Sharing Intelligence Apparently Included Putting Nuclear Secrets Online”

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Tack (user link) says:


You can find construction diagrams for a modern (i.e. 90’s) nuclear warhead in any one of several college textbooks. That’s not exactly the “secret” most nations keep about nuclear weapons. The big secret is the various methods and machines used to take uranium or plutonium – which in itself creates explosions that can barely destroy one house, less than conventional weapons – and refine that to something that’s at least “weapons grade” stuff, i.e. 90% of maximum explosive potential.

I wouldn’t be even halfway surprised if Iraq was doing research into this area, however they had yet to ever produce an actual weapon. For obvious reasons, creating the blueprints for the machinery necessary to create this level of potency is therefore a very important and valuable national secret. Depending on what kind of information was published, this could be something that saves another nation (like iran) 50 dollars plus shipping on a textbook, or it might save them 10 years of research and millions of dollars in failed attempts. The point is that at no point has any treaty prevented a nation from developing the schematics or calculations to refine this stuff. It’s when a nations acts on that knowledge that they violate a law. Even if the Iraqi’s had formulas that could top 98% potency (which even we in America can’t do) then unless they built a facility with the equipment to do so, simply having this knowledge still does not justify an invasion nor does it make it “legal” in an international sense.

In effect, we broke the law when we invaded Iraq. The only reason we haven’t already been sanctioned – or worse invaded – is because quite simply nobody can or wants to. Sanctioning the US is bad for the entire world economy and would devastate not just the US, but the entire global market to a point somewhere close to the Great Depression. Needless to say, invading the US militarily is suicide for most of the world. Some estimates even say that it would take an army stronger than every country in the EU combined just to invade more than 20 miles inland on the east coast successfully, and those estimates are considering only the US Military power they’d come up against, not counting all the citizens with guns of their own who would no doubt put the second amendment to very good use. Even though either of these two options is justified by international law, nobody would be foolish enough to act on it.

So, in effect, the US is trying to create a defense for a crime which nobody is trying to prosecute it for. It’s like a thief trying to prove he wasn’t on the scene of a robbery before the cops even know who did the crime – it’s pointless. However, that’s why stuff like this information gets leaked.

Besides that, this does prove two things. In response to dorpus, sure, Al Qaeda has done just that, but in doing so, this shows both that Al Qaeda has this much money to spend, and also shows that they’re interested in building a nuke – two really scary things. A 747 can be steered. A nuclear bomb or missile isn’t a directional weapon. If targeted at new york city, for example, even a mid-grade nuke would destroy over 35% of America’s Mulsim population (which is highly concentrated in NY, one reason they were able to pull off the attacks on 9/11 so well.) Yes, it would destroy many Americans (good from their point of view) however what does it say that they’re willing to kill this many of their own people just to hurt us? Of course, the fact that they have several million dollars just to throw away on what is more than likely a small ball of lead suggests they’ve probably thrown away that amount of money several times, and at some point, they might throw that same money at something that’ll actually explode.

At the same time, since this information that was leaked was dated as “early 90’s” and Saddam Hussein (sorry little asshole that he was) himself said they had discontinued their nuclear weapons program in the “early 90’s” doesn’t this leak, if anything, prove that Saddam was telling the truth? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for invading Iraq, but if he didn’t have these weapons at the time, couldn’t we have finished what we started in Afghanistan first?

Anonymous Coward says:

Rumor has it this information was publicly posted after some Republicans, convinced that Saddam was currently pursuing WMDs, were dissatisfied with the official US intelligence assessment that he wasn’t. (This, of course, after the invasion.) By posting the documents publicly, they hoped other researches would be able to find evidence of WMDs. But, as pointed out, all they found was pre-1990 information (though apparently it was some good information).

Rumor also had it that most of this information was in Arabic. So just to make sure everyone is keeping score: Republicans, whose only claim over Democrats is “national security,” posted plans to build a nuclear bomb in Arabic on a public web site. Hopefully, someday we’ll be able to look back on this and laugh. (Hopefully, that day will be next Wednesday.)

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