December 5th, 2008
03:30 PM ET

WMD terrorism fears are overblown

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/US/12/02/terror.report/art.nyc.station.gi.jpg caption="Police watch over travelers at New York's Grand Central Terminal before Thanksgiving."]

Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst. His most recent book is "The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader."

Peter Bergen
CNN National Security Analyst

The congressionally authorized Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism issued a report this week that concluded: "It is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013."

The findings of this report received considerable ink in The New York Times and The Washington Post and plenty of airtime on networks around the world, including on CNN. And the day the report was released Vice President-elect Joseph Biden was briefed on its contents.

So is the sky falling?

Not really. Terrorists have already used weapons of mass destruction in the past decade in attacks around the world, and they have proven to be something of a dud.


Filed under: al Qaeda • Peter Bergen • Terrorism • War on Terror
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Mario

    On the contrary, I beleive that terrorists do have access to weapons of mass destruction. Even though they will not be able to use them, at least no any time soon, many muslim nations such as Pakistan do have nuclear weapons and they could very possibly fall into the hands of terrorist organizations, whether intentionally or not. The September 11th terrorist attack was planned years in advance. Before that time not many people thought that kind of attack would have been possible either but the terrorists have all the time in the world to come up ideas. On the other hand I beleive that this statement from the commission is no more than a scare tactic to scare the American public into supporting the war on terror. In this age of informational warfare, the government is very strategic about what information they give out and most of the time it is either true but with a different agenda or it is just a straight up lie. This is just another one of those stunts where they make a statement without any real support or evidence and just wait for the media to make a huge deal out of it. In fact it is not so much the fault of government officials as much as the media because the media never questions authority, or look for any alternative suggestions. The lack of objectivity in the reporting about such claims causes for much more fear in the public than the actual statement does and as a result of that fear people are going to lean on the side of safety and support whatever the government wants to do about the situation without hesitating. This is simply another case of psychological warfare that is meant to get a certain reaction from the public in hopes of justifying future actions on the grounds that they have public support.

    December 8, 2008 at 1:04 am |
  2. jim

    Your so called expert security analyst is wrong. The muslims do have WMD's They just don't have the logistics to implement a attack. If they were to get logistics support, we would have numerous terrorists attacks in this country. Especially with a left wing liberal president in office.

    December 5, 2008 at 8:06 pm |
  3. Max

    WHY don't WE just BLOW ourselves UP and GET it over WITH????


    December 5, 2008 at 8:01 pm |
  4. Monika

    I think it's called FEAR-MONGERING, something the U.S. government has so much practice in and is apparently not willing to give up any time soon.

    December 5, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  5. Hollis

    Let's hope the commission IS overblown. We've run into extreme issues in the past when we've underestimated the capabilities of our enemies.

    After 9/11, I'd prefer they err on the side of caution and over warn vs. not warn us enough and then we get blind-sided. Again.

    December 5, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  6. Melissa, Los Angeles

    I wonder if terrorists will go as far to kidnap our scientists so that they could build a nuclear bomb? Sound to far fetched?

    December 5, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  7. Cindy

    I totally agree with Peter on this one. I think the commission went a bit overboard with this. I don't think that the terrorists can get a nuclear weapon at all. And like Peter said they have used bio-weapons that didn't kill many people.

    So yes we should keep an eye out for it but no we shouldn't go into hysterics over what this report says.


    December 5, 2008 at 3:39 pm |