Editor's note: Charles S. Faddis is a retired CIA operations officer and the former head of the CIA's unit focused on fighting terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.
caption="A Citrus County Sheriff officer stands guard at the entrance to the Florida Power corp. nuclear power plant."]
Charles S. Faddis
Special to CNN
Several weeks ago, President Obama announced that $8 billion in government-loan guarantees would be made available to Southern Co. to begin construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia.
If built, it would be the first nuclear power plant constructed in the United States in almost 30 years. More importantly, this would be the first of what is expected to be many such projects initiated in coming years.
I am a big believer in the necessity for energy independence. I accept that we will all have to make some compromises in achieving that goal. I am willing to consider that nuclear power may have to be one piece of the plan we put together for how to break ourselves free from our dependence on foreign oil.
I would submit, however, that before we start building reactors we need to address another urgent matter. We need to make current reactors secure.
Roughly 18 months ago I started work on a project that ultimately lead to the writing of my recently published book, "Willful Neglect," on homeland security in the United States.
I examined security at a wide range of potential targets inside the United States, including chemical plants, liquefied natural gas facilities, biological research laboratories and nuclear power plants.
This was not a theoretical study. I did my homework up front, but after that, I went out on the street and I did what my 20 years in the CIA had trained me to do. I looked at all these targets in the same way as an adversary would. What I found was deeply disturbing. Eight years after 9/11, we had done little or nothing to enhance security in most areas.
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