WASHINGTON, March 15 - The Department of Homeland Security, trying to focus antiterrorism spending better nationwide, has identified a dozen possible
strikes it views as most plausible or devastating, including detonation of a nuclear device in a major city, release of sarin nerve agent in office
buildings and a truck bombing of a sports arena.
The document, known simply as the National Planning Scenarios, reads more like a doomsday plan, offering estimates of the probable deaths and economic
damage caused by each type of attack.
They include blowing up a chlorine tank, killing 17,500 people and injuring more than 100,000; spreading pneumonic plague in the bathrooms of an
airport, sports arena and train station, killing 2,500 and sickening 8,000 worldwide; and infecting cattle with foot-and-mouth disease at several
sites, costing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Specific locations are not named because the events could unfold in many major metropolitan
or rural areas, the document says.
The agency's objective is not to scare the public, officials said, and they have no credible intelligence that such attacks are planned. The
department did not intend to release the document publicly, but a draft of it was inadvertently posted on a Hawaii state government Web site.
By identifying possible attacks and specifying what government agencies should do to prevent, respond to and recover from them, Homeland Security is
trying for the first time to define what "prepared" means, officials said.
That will help decide how billions of federal dollars are distributed in the future. Cities like New York that have targets with economic and symbolic
value, or places with hazardous facilities like chemical plants could get a bigger share of agency money than before, while less vulnerable
communities could receive less.
"We live in a world of finite resources, whether they be personnel or funding," said Matt A. Mayer, acting executive director of the Office of State
and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness at the Homeland Security Department, which is in charge of the effort.
President Bush requested the list of priorities 15 months ago to address a widespread criticism of Homeland Security from members of Congress and
antiterrorism experts that it was wasting money by spreading it out instead of focusing on areas or targets at greatest risk. Critics also have
faulted the agency for not having a detailed plan on how to eliminate or reduce vulnerabilities.
Michael Chertoff, the new secretary of homeland security, has made it clear that this risk-based planning will be a central theme of his tenure,
saying that the nation must do a better job of identifying the greatest threats and then move aggressively to deal with them.
"There's risk everywhere; risk is a part of life," Mr. Chertoff said in testimony before the Senate last week. "I think one thing I've tried to
be clear in saying is we will not eliminate every risk."
The goal of the document's planners was not to identify every type of possible terrorist attack. It does not include an airplane hijacking, for
example, because "there are well developed and tested response plans" for such an incident. Planners included the threats they considered the most
plausible or devastating, and that represented a range of the calamities that communities might need to prepare for, said Marc Short, a department
spokesman. "Each scenario generally reflects suspected terrorist capabilities and known tradecraft," the document says.
To ensure that emergency planning is adequate for most possible hazards, three catastrophic natural events are included: an influenza pandemic, a
magnitude 7.2 earthquake in a major city and a slow-moving Category 5 hurricane hitting a major East Coast city.
Interesting data on a report "accidently" posted to a hawian gov website. This is a pretty good list of "possible" attacks. Everyone should take
a good long look.