Ashcroft, Depleted Uranium, and Other Dense Metals

Phil Carter (who I really have to buy a cup of coffee one of these days – he’s local) has a typically-for-him great post on Ashcroft and the politics of the Patriot Act and its successors. He has a great point on the cost of lost legitimacy:

The net result of this distrust was seen very clearly in the debates over TIA and the Pentagon’s planned terrorism futures market. Americans — and their legislative representatives — didn’t care how these programs actually worked. They didn’t care that academics on the left and right supported such ideas in the abstract. Despite TIA’s fate, we still need computerized tools to look for “non-obvious relationships”. And a closed-access futures market for experts could have been a great way to quantify collective expert opinion. Nonetheless, the American public answered these programs with a resounding “Enough already!”

Go read the whole thing.

Michael McNeal has a great compilation post on the health consequences of Depleted Uranium (DU) – often used in U.S. military projectiles (via Volokh). Hint: there don’t appear to be any.

(changed title)

7 thoughts on “Ashcroft, Depleted Uranium, and Other Dense Metals”

  1. A.L.,

    That is a very good point about public distrust of past federal excesses inhibiting creation of legitimate new anti-terrorist programs.

    The Bush Administration is indeed clueless about public attitudes in home security and the need for public support there. It treats us, and thinks of us, as subjects rather than citizens, which Glenn Reynolds and others have noted.

    This top-down attitude is common to the feds in general, and its mindless adoption by Administration officials such as Ashcroft indicates a thorough lack of interest by the Bush Administration in home security.

  2. They really do need to get better public relations people. The way TIA and the future’s market were presented to the public was incompetent.

    This (excellent) blog No Cameras has a (wonderful) post on the hysteria over Depleted Uranium: “Do you realise self-righteous ignorance has a half-life of over 4.5 billion years?” One of my favorite posts of his questions whether or not human shields are war criminals: “Use of human shields is a war crime, because it forces one’s opponent to fight with one arm tied behind his back (if the opponent has any shred of decency). Even the use of human shields who volunteer is a war crime. It is therefore also illegal to volunteer to be a human shield.”.

  3. Armed Liberal:
    Didn’t Joe post a link to an alternative to depleted uranium? I think the substance is some exotic form of tungsten?
    In any case, I’ve always been suspicious of those critics that debnounce the Western military’s use of depleted uraniym munitions. They want to negate the comparative advantage of Western tanks guns. Modern tanks even the T72/90 and T 80 are invulverable to HEAT munitions. Further our potential enemies use the same munitions how come they don’t get denounced?

  4. TIA and the futures market weren’t so much presented as they were leaked. Leaked and spun. There was no chance to make a presentation, really.

    There probably are *some* health effects associated with depleted Uranium – the same problems you would have with many heavy metals. But, yeah, it’s way overhyped.

  5. Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done. Did somebody really, I mean really, think it was a good idea for our government to make book on terrorism? That’s taking the concept of free markets a little to far. What’s next, human organ auctions?

  6. Lurker,
    Churchill sacrificed the population of Coventry to protect one secret (Ultra). Compared to that, running a futures market (with limited total payoffs, btw) in terrorism is not even an issue!

    I hear a lot of insane sqeamishness about this futures market. Good grief, if it saves lives, do it!

  7. Phil Carter wrote,

    But the prosecution of these little fish — in the absence of any big fish prosecutions — makes Americans feel threatened.

    I don’t feel threatened by the prosecutions, but I find the heavy handed and self-glorifying manner with which they have been pursued to be quite troubling. Ashcroft’s dismissive and accusatory stance against any criticism also fails to inspire.

    The left has drawn parallels with McCarthy and they are more right than they know. Back then, there really were communist infiltrators and they really did need hunting. McCarthy’s only accomplishment was to discredit that activity, not further it. To be fair Ashcroft has a ways to go on that score but the trend is bad and we can ill afford a credibility gap in these dangerous times.

    The case is simple. Americans need to have faith that the Justice Department has a clue, or we won’t support government powers that are likely necessary. Ashcroft has squandered that faith with deafness and demagoguery. He should be replaced.

    It is known that loyalty to Bush is a necessary condition for members of the administration. We will now see if it is a sufficient one.

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