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Cheney Worries Extremists May Wield "Dirty Bomb"

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday told a Canadian audience he fears extremists might launch a radiological "dirty bomb" strike, the Calgary Herald reported (see GSN, Sept. 7).

"I worry about that," Cheney said at a private gathering in Calgary, Alberta. Atomic systems have evolved to the point where "a relatively small number of people can do damage to a city," he said.

Counterterrorism analysts believe there is a greater likelihood of terrorists mounting a dirty bomb attack than a nuclear strike, given the wider availability of materials needed to build a radiological weapon. Such a device would use explosives to disperse radioactive materials that can be found in medicine, industry and other sectors. While the death toll would be far less than that of a nuclear strike, a dirty bomb could still cause substantial health, economic and environmental damage.

Cheney was in Calgary promoting his new book, "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir," which includes heavy criticism of some former colleagues in the Bush administration (see GSN, Aug. 25).

Cheney wrote that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came to him in tears, saying she recognized she had erred in offering an apology for the discredited claim made in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union that then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy uranium in Niger for a nuclear weapons effort.

Rice insisted the described scene in the vice president's office never occurred; she also rejected Cheney's assertion that she provided bad guidance to Bush in efforts to deal with North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has also lambasted the book, the Herald reported (Robert Remington, Calgary Herald, Sept. 28).

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