Tommy Thompson: Why don't terrorists poison us? It'd be so easy!

Departing Secretary of HHS Tommy Thompson said this:

From: Newsday

Does anyone else thing this is a really, really stupid thing to say? Granted, it’s an easy idea to come up with independently. But wouldn’t it be smarter to just work hard quietly behind the scenes to ensure our food supply is as safe as possible, as opposed to publicly pointing out our vulnerable areas?

I admit I am biased against Thompson, having suffered under his Governorship and subsequent debt before he fled the state. But I still think I’d consider this stupid if said by anyone else.

Yeah, I’m with you, Qadgop! I couldn’t believe anyone with such a high profile could say anything so obviously idiotic. I’m sure he thinks he’s putting pressure on the government to address the problem, but I think the potential is much greater for disasterous harm to be the result rather than any good.

And of course, it gets trumpeted all over the world just to make sure every Tom, Dick and Harry with a grudge against the U.S. gets the message.

Yes, that is profoundly stupid. I’ve witnessed and read many instances of idiocy since 9/11 such as Senator Blabmeister describing how “in the event of a serious problem at (insert critical infrastructure point x) we will switch all operations to …”. Thanks, asshole. Were someone seeking to damage x, now they can also work on the backup plan. :rolleyes:

Don’t forget Sam and Suzy Talkinghead on the 6 o’clock bleat: Tomorrow, Marines are planning a surprise attack on… Surprise, this. Why not just bring in John Madden with a picture of the area and let him scribble all over it so the enemy knows every aspect of the mission? Idiots.

There were some who talked about terrorists flying airplanes into tall buildings prior to 9/11, and no one in the upper echelons of government took it seriously. It was far easier to ignore the potential, and just hope it went away. The same thing appears to be happening now with respect to our ports and food supply. While it may have been stupid for Thompson to be so explicit, it would have been far stupider for him to allow such an obvious problem to be swept under the rug for lack of political willpower.

It’s just another Bushco scare tactic.

Why do the bad guys need to attack us again at all?

Look at all that has changed because of one attack.

Or maybe the food supply is actually very secure, and he’s luring them into an attack that will fail…

Nah, I don’t believe it either.

I’m not all too happy about the “tactics” being used with Homeland Security© either, but the threat is very real.

I wonder if this will be an excuse to “protect” our food supply by banning all food imports from the Middle East, coincidentally removing competitions for our homegrown red white and blue patriotic 100% American farmers?

“You know, for the life of me, I can’t understand why the terrorists haven’t gone after the Internet purveyors of penile and breast enlargement products, Viagra and other treatments for erectile disfunction, credit repair, and non-traditional college degree programs. It would be so easy to do, and it would have such a devastating impact on our country; plus, many of those fine beacons of our modern Western civilization–I speak here especially of the penis and breast enlargement and erectile disfunction treatments–are just the sorts of things those puritanical, intolerant savages would hate the most.”

This would be slightly less inane if it were not for two things:

  1. Thompson is the outgoing Secretary. Wasn’t there a convenient time to bring this up during, say, the last four years when he might have contributed to a solution?

  2. As threats go, adulterating food imports from the Middle East is, well, pretty lame. We do not import a lot of food from the Middle East. Total food imports total less than 10% of domestic consumption, most of which is Mexican produce, Australian and South American beef, Pacific fish, and a slew of boutique items for the wine-and-cheese crowd. See for details
    (Yes, it’s a pdf, but small).

Inflating this to a threat worth discussing in public is a measure of how desperate some people are to be seen as serious about terrorism when they are alarmingly short of ideas. When we secure our oil refineries to the point where a determined boy scout troop couldn’t attack them, I’ll worry about pernicious poison pistachios and back Thompson for Secretary of Homeland Hummus.

As Reeder noted, it’s just another scare tactic to keep the populace fearful.

Scared voters are the easiest to manipulate…

Please, Mr. Terrorist, don’t try to put Botulinum toxin in our water supply! (Was worried before I Googled it, but the link answered my unanswered questions about the toxin’s hardiness, which granted, I suspected the hardiness wasn’t all that great due to it being such a huge molecule.)

The question here is not ‘how many ways can we dream up that won’t work’ but, ‘how many ways are there that might work’, and how can we prevent evil-doers from employing them?

Patience is your friend. Rome was not build in one day either.

No worries there. Only a few banks to buy left and we are ready for business.

No thank you, we have already too much of our own crappy stuff in that department.

You sound like my uncle… He always finds everything easy that I am too lazy for to even think about doing.

No, no and NO… Such a misguided, ignorant, typical Western view once again.
We know that we don’t need credit cards to pay for all these tools to make our 72 Virgins beauty queens and us their eternal virile lovers.
Salaam. A

So, I’m not supposed to think critically about anything they say, is that it? :dubious:

The shame is Qadgop posted a valid issue, until a few of the usual suspects came along and hijacked yet another decent thread. :rolleyes:

I dunno. Do we really think Tommy Thompson has come up with a novel approach to terrorism that the terrorists haven’t thought of yet??

Oddly enough QtM I was thinking this very thing, until I saw the picture of him accompanying the article, and I thought to myself “My God what an awful dye job, it looks like he’s using shoepolish! Is he that clueless?” and thinking on the matter further, I decided that he was.

I’m sure the owners of the thousands and thousands of successful Middle Eastern restaurants all over the US will be infinitely grateful to him for his little parting bot mot.


hmmm, dances, I couldn’t tell if you were referring to me or not. I was simply agreeing in a humorous way to the idea proposed that it could have been a way to trick terrorists into doing something stupid.

That said, to answer the OP, I don’t think it was a really, really stupid to say, merely a run of the mill stupid one. On average, yeah, it would tend to alert our enemies to a previously unknown vulnerablity.

OTOH, they probably know about it already, maybe even our organizational unpreparedness for it.

And also, what if there had been a major news story that the head of the CIA for instance was terribly concerned about planes running into tall buildings? Maybe Al Qaeda might have reconsidered its plans thinking it was being watched more closely?

I dunno, but yeah, not the smartest thing to say.