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How Real Is Nuclear Terrorism?

by Joel Rosenberg
[novelist] 5/4/07

To answer the question many of you have emailed me about: yes, I am working on another novel, Dead Heat. I'm about half-way done at the moment. I hope to finish it later this summer and, Lord willing, it will release in the spring of 2008.

A political thriller set in the midst of a presidential campaign, the novel explores a "what if" scenario that concerns me more every day: what if a terrorist network or terrorist regime were to actually launch a nuclear attack against the United States? How might they do it? What cities might they target? How would we stop them? How would we retaliate?

The Copper Scroll


Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of THE LAST JIHAD (2002), THE LAST DAYS (2003), and THE EZEKIEL OPTION (2005), with more than one million copies in print. He previously served as a senior advisor to several U.S. and Israeli leaders, including Steve Forbes, Rush Limbaugh, former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has been interviewed on more than 300 radio and TV shows, including ABC's "Nightline," CBN's 700 Club, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, the Michael Reagan Show, the Rush Limbaugh Show and the Sean Hannity Show.. Website - [go to Rosenberg Index]

The Ezekiel Option

The Last Days

The Last Jihad


To develop the most realistic scenario possible, I've been meeting with top military and intelligence experts in the U.S. and the Middle East. While these conversations have been off the record, I can tell you that there is a growing (if reluctant) consensus that it's not a matter of "if" but "when" such an attack, or series of attacks, will occur.

In February of this year, for example, James E. Goodby of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies wrote: "It's only a matter of time. That's what the experts say when asked whether a terrorist organization might detonate an atom bomb in an American city."

Yossef Bodansky, former director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, said in 2004 that the United States is losing the war on terrorism and faces an "inevitable" al-Qaida attack with weapons of mass destruction that will be worse than 9/11 -- "All of the warnings we have today indicate that a major strike - something more horrible than anything we've seen before - is all but inevitable.'"

Graham Allison, author of the 2004 book, Nuclear Terrorism, warned: "If policy makers in Washington keep doing what they are currently doing about the threat, a nuclear terrorist attack on America is likely to occur in the next decade. And if one lengthens the time frame, a nuclear strike is inevitable."

Former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Georgia), once head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told National Geographic in 2005: "Increasingly, we are being warned that an act of nuclear terrorism is inevitable. I am not willing to concede that point. But I do believe that unless we greatly elevate our effort [to secure nuclear materials] and the speed of our response, we could face disaster."

Now ex-CIA chief George Tenet is issuing the same warning, saying al-Qaeda's top priority is obtaining nuclear weapons to attack the U.S. directly.

Excerpts from an L.A. Times story: "The main threat posed by Al Qaeda lies in its quest to obtain a nuclear bomb, former CIA Director George J. Tenet writes in his new book. In At the Center of the Storm, Tenet writes at some length about Al Qaeda's attempts to obtain or develop a nuclear weapon. 'I am convinced that this is where [Osama bin Laden] and his operatives desperately want to go,' Tenet writes. 'They understand that bombings by cars, trucks, trains and planes will get them some headlines, to be sure. But if they manage to set off a mushroom cloud, they will make history.' Tenet details several attempts by the CIA to prevent Al Qaeda from acquiring nuclear weapons. Just weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, a Pakistani organization, Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, or UTN, had met in Afghanistan with Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, to discuss how Al Qaeda 'should go about building a nuclear device,' the CIA was told. Tenet also sketches out details of an attempt by Al Qaeda leaders in Saudi Arabia to buy what he described as three black-market Russian nuclear devices in 2002 and 2003."


--Every day 30,000 trucks, 6,500 rail cars, and 140 ships deliver more than 50,000 cargo containers into the United States, but only 5 percent ever get screened. But even this screening, which rarely involves physical inspection, may not detect nuclear weapons or fissile material.

--There are approximately 130 nuclear research reactors in 40 countries. Two dozen of these have enough highly enriched uranium for one or more nuclear bombs.

--If terrorists bought or stole a complete weapon, they could set it off immediately. If instead they bought fissile material, they could build a crude but working nuclear bomb within a year.

--In Russia, 10,000 nuclear warheads and fissile material for 30,000 additional weapons remain vulnerable to theft.

--Pakistan's black marketers, led by the country's leading nuclear scientist, A. Q. Khan, have sold comprehensive "nuclear starter kits" that included advanced centrifuge components, blueprints for nuclear warheads, uranium samples in quantities sufficient to make a small bomb, and even provided personal consulting services to assist nuclear development. CRO

copyright 2007 - Joel Rosenberg




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