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Annotated Webography: Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
With the attacks on September 11th, 2001, the United States came face-to-face with the reality that our security strategy is far from impenetrable. To the contrary, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and more recently, the Boston Marathon bombing, proved that we are quite vulnerable to mass casualty events. Perhaps most worrisome is the concern that such an event might be carried out with Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). In light of the alleged cause for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and continued tensions with North Korea over its nuclear development program, the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction is what the remains in the headlines and in discussions on America's military and defense strategies. Additionally, a wide range of online resources exist with the design of compiling knowledge, presenting information and promoting defense against the proliferation of WMD. The annotated webography here below is aimed at identifying some of the leading resources available online with this mission in mind.
The following resources concern Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) were located online and offer a broad view on the U.S. policies, intelligence strategies and capabilities in terms of deterring or preventing future attacks.
Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Archive. http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/wmd/about.html
The website for the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction is unique among those selected for inclusion in this annotated webography. This is primarily because the Commission was only created for temporary intelligence-gathering process and has, consequently, ceased to exist. Its mission, upon inception, was cited as "assessing whether the Intelligence Community is sufficiently authorized, organized, equipped, trained, and resourced to identify and warn in a timely manner of, and to support United States Government efforts to respond to, the development and transfer of knowledge, expertise, technologies, materials, and resources associated with the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction."
The website serves two major functions for our research. The first of these is the more obvious value of the site's primary links, which are to the reports published as a result of the Commission's work. All coming in the midst of 2005 were the Executive Order creating the Commission, the White House Fact Sheet justifying this order, the President's statement underlying this fact sheet and the Report to the President of the United States issued by the Commission on March 31st, 2005. This helps to lay out the findings by the Commission on what was known and what was known by intelligence regarding global WMD threats at the time. It also helps by laying out the legislative steps which led to the creation of this useful report.
But a second and perhaps even more revealing point is illuminated by this site. Namely, the creation of the commission at that juncture demonstrated that to that point, the United States did not possess a complete understanding of the threats that it faced in the form of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Again, only in the light of September 11th did the U.S. begin to turn its attention to this critical issue.
Department of Defense. National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction. http://www.defense.gov/pdf/nms-cwmd2006.pdf
Separate from strategies devised by the intelligence community for better identifying threats of WMD, the Department of Defense must also play a strategic role in combating the danger and spread of WMD. Accordingly, this site links to a thorough report by the DoD detailing the tactical, practical and conceptual implications on preventing or responding to any such attack.
This site provides information which is not only instrumental to understanding the nature of the WMD threat from a military perspective, but which also provides an actual and actionable template for combating WMD. Accordingly, the report includes Guiding Principles, a Strategic Military Framework and Operational Guidance. The result is a document which is valuable for both research purposes and for taking preventative and responsive steps in a military capacity.
An important point of recognition made by the resource is that its content is only of value when used in collaboration with other dimensions of a preventative, cooperative and counter-proliferating strategy. According to the report, "although the Department has an important role to play in combating WMD, we must and will integrate DoD efforts with those of other elements of the U.S. Government, allies, and partners." This declaration of collaborative intent is a critical philosophical and practical virtue of the resource in question.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Weapons of Mass Destruction http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/wmd
In the aftermath of 9/11, one of the leading claims was that failures in intelligence resulted in the security lapses making the attacks possible. This is the underpinning theory guiding the design of the FBI's WMD website. Here, the leading intelligence agency indicates that one of the keys to reducing the threat of devastating WMD attack on American soil or elsewhere is to produce a sound and comprehensive body of knowledge on the subject.
The site identifies as its primary purpose to compile a directory of events, incidences, investigations and counter-measures related to the proliferation or intended deployment of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The aim is to use this body of data to improve the capacity for prevention. Among the areas that the site discusses as part of promoting this prevention strategy are the priorities of counter-proliferation, the procedures in place of the federal, state and local levels for combating the threat of WMD deployment and the role that we as civilians can take in contributing to prevention.
The site notes access to the total resource capacity of the FBI in achieving its aims of prevention and information proliferation, indicating that its Weapons of Mass Destruction Direction (WMDD) "taps into the tactical and technical expertise of other FBI operational and support divisions, embedding personnel in these components as needed and coordinating investigations and initiatives."
The site also serves as a portal to an array of important links to be utilized in order to better understand the intelligence steps taken by the FBI to mitigate the threat of a disastrous attack. The WMD Preparedness subprogram, Countermeasures subprogram and the FBI's various investigative activities are outline as a demonstration of the functions served by the FBI where WMD attack prevention is concerned.
Global Security. Weapons of Mass Destruction. http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/
Global Security.org is essentially a portal that provides links to an exhaustive number of resource concerning Weapons of Mass Destruction. The site provides its own database on the subject as well as a massive array of links to external resources designed to offer a far-reaching scope on the subject at hand. Of those resources included in the present webography, this is perhaps the most generous resource in terms of the sheer volume of information available. So too is the organization of the information readily accessible, easy to use and clearly presented.
For instance, the Introduction to Weapons of Mass Destruction offers links to the primary types of WMD considered as threats by the United States. Each of these threat types is further broken down into subcategory threats. For instance, under the Nuclear heading, one can click the heading for Uranium to learn more about the nature of this specific form of weaponization. However, the information which is accessible to non-subscribers of the site is limited. Therefore, the site becomes infinitely more useful to one with a paid subscription.
Intelligence Resource Program (FAS). States Possessing, Pursuing or Capable of Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction. http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/wmd_state.htm
The Intelligence Resource Program website is one of the simplest and most straightforward of those included here. This self-explanatory site uses a series of symbols to identify the Weapons of Mass Destruction capabilities possessed by all nations of the world. The comprehensive chart includes icons for Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile-based forms of WMD. What is perhaps most immediately notable and revealing about the site is that a larger number of nations have achieved some degree of WMD capability than those which are simply identified in national security discussions as possessing nuclear capacity.
This is because, as the list of over 30 nations indicates, the path of entry to biological or chemical warfare is far more accessible. Given that defense against these threats is also difficult to devise, the source in question is especially important as we seek out a global strategy for discouragement program development and, especially, weapon deployment. The website claims to have compiled the information presented from a variety of accountable and credible sources, including A Chemical Weapons Atlas, Sources on Tables Listing Countries of Chemical and Biological Concern and research by the Defense Nuclear Agency. These denote the reliability of the information provided for our further research.
National Defense University. Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction. http://wmdcenter.dodlive.mil/
The National Defense University offers a resource that, as one might expect, leans heavily toward the compiling of strategic documents and information. Whereas some sources identified in the present…[continue]
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