What's at Stake: 2004
|NYC ATOM ATTACK|
|Islamic Group Claims Responsibility|
(FLASH/AP) At approximately 5:15pm EST yesterday, terrorists associated with Ansar al Islam detonated a 15 kiloton atomic weapon in the harbor near Manhattan's battery. Radio reports indicated that the terrorists were operating a speedboat and that a pursuit by the United States Coast Guard was underway when the explosion occurred.
Three Nuclear Emergency Response Teams (NEST) were on the scene and initial casualty reports estimated as many as 75,000 dead and 250,000 wounded. Area hospitals were overwhelmed with cases of severe burns, radiation sickness, and major injuries. A triage facility was established at 103th street/Corona Plaza and all medical personnel were asked to report immediately to their respective facilities.
A shaken president John Kerry addressed the nation via radio at 8 pm EST. "This dark day has tested the mettle of the American people," he stated, "our thoughts and prayers are with those who have died, and those who suffer. Time and time again we have risen to the challenge, defeating tyrants, extremists and dictators who would fight freedom. And this time, it will be no different. I ask all Americans to band together, to help your neighbors, to reassure one another in this dark hour. I can assure you that we will strike back. We will strike hard. And that justice will be done."
Kerry went on to issue a presidential directive reinstating the Patriot Act, which had been dismantled less than twelve months after his election. He also declared martial law in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, and Detroit, where National Guard troops were enforcing a curfew. There were unconfirmed reports of widespread looting and civil unrest in areas surrounding New York City.
Economic Impact Felt Worldwide
The New York Stock Exchange has suspended trading while operations are moved to a backup facility near Philadelphia. Redundant computer operations for most of Wall Street have ensured that account and trading information is intact.
Oil prices skyrocketed to over $70 a barrel immediately after the explosion and then plummeted to $45 as the economic impact of a potential worldwide recession loomed.
Gold shot overnight to 900/oz. and the value of the dollar fell nearly a third in overnight trading.
The NASDAQ stock market intends to resume trading within the week, operating from its redundant Chicago facility.
|Retaliation: Shock and Anger|
Senior Pentagon officials tell the AP that war plans are underway and that a strategic nuclear response "is being contemplated".
Former CIA Analyst Robert Acres told CNN that NEST is capable of determining the source of the nuclear material used by the terrorists. "When that source is located, I can assure you that there will be hell to pay."
A CNN/Gallup Poll taken last night asked viewers which potential target would be struck first in a military response. Over 50% answered Iran, 25% North Korea, 20% Pakistan, 12% Mecca, 3% Medina, and 5% all of the named targets.
There were unconfirmed reports from Norfolk, Virginia that Task Force 134, the US Pacific Fleet's Nuclear Submarine Group, had been ordered to the Indian Ocean.
Continuity of Government
Upon the first reports of the detonation, a Continuity of Government (COG) operation began moving the president, vice-president, cabinet, key congressional leaders, military and intelligence personnel to a secure facility in West Virginia. No further details were available at press time.
Claims of Responsibility
Within hours of the attack, a web site affiliated with the Al Jazeera network posted a claim of responsibility by Ansar al Islam reading "Praise be to God, we have the struck the enemy a shattering blow and we will strike again before it can recover. God is great, and thanks be unto God for delivering us this victory. We will fight the infidel crusaders wherever they may live, from this time forward, until they have been eradicated from the face of the earth."
Harsh Criticism of Policy
Hours after the attack, the president's critics were harshly reprimanding his dismantling of the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security, and his efforts to place the responsibilities of defense and intelligence-gathering with the United Nations.
Former president George W. Bush, speaking from his ranch in Texas, said, "This is tragic in so many ways. The loss of life, the loss of property, the loss of confidence. But I firmly believe that this did not have to happen. The United Nations, or any multi-national coalition, cannot protect the United States. Only we can protect ourselves."
Continued on Page A3.