Loose Nukes And The People Who Track Them Down
January 17, 2013 6 Comments
Back on 1/7, Ezra Klein warned us of one of the direst consequences of going over the Debt Ceiling Cliff (is it a ‘cliff’ too? can I call it that? are we sticking with the ‘cliff’ metaphor? cuz I kinda liked that one):
The people responsible for tracking down loose nukes will lose their jobs.
A week later, on 1/14, President Obama did a talk-on-TV-while-reporters-are-there thing in which he coincidentally warned us (direly):
…specialists who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn’t get their paychecks.
Now, one possibility here is that President Obama reads week-old Ezra Klein for speech material. Let’s rule that out. That’s absurd. Equally absurd is that Ezra Klein was fed if-we-don’t-raise-debt-ceiling talking points by someone in the Obama Administration. Come on people. That’s just dumb to even think.
Obviously both of these deep thinkers have simply independently hit upon the most salient, crucial implication of not-raising-the-debt-ceiling of all. That implication – the single direst implication, which (you can be sure) has alone among all these things kept me sleepless for lo these past seven to 10 days – is the possibility of not being able to pay Specialists Who Track Down “Loose Nukes”. I mean, is there any other more important or crucial function of the US Government? To ask that question is to answer it. This raises some questions, however. Questions like,
- Are we really paying an army of People Who Track Down Loose Nukes? Is this really such a gigantic budget item that it makes everyone’s top 5 list of Things We’d Have To Cancel? Seriously how many full-time employees are attached to the Department Of Tracking Down Loose Nukes? From the way these guys are talking, I gather it’s in the thousands. At least. I mean if it was like 7 guys rolling up under some Defense Department undersecretary who mostly collected radiation readings with ion-chamber radiometers, filled out forms, and made powerpoints, surely it wouldn’t merit all this prominent mention?
- Of what does this “tracking down” activity consist precisely? Do they have a bunch of guys out in the field like Jack Bauer, 24/7, hot on various trails? Are they following clues? Undercover? Staking places out? Do they sometimes ‘just miss’ a loose nuke that was there right before they got there, but then it was moved, but they can totally tell the people holding the loose nuke just left, because the stove is still warm and some wisps of smoke still rolling off a cigarette left in a coffee cup?
- For crying out loud, just how many “loose nukes” are there anyway?
This is really freaking me out. From what I can tell, the world is a far scarier place than I had ever imagined, consisting primarily of (1) “loose nukes” and (2) the people who “track them down”. Hold me.