Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) has dealt first-hand with nuclear weapons — on the Hollywood big screen. In 2005, he starred as President Charles Ross in Last Best Chance, a docudrama about terrorists trying to smuggle nuclear weapons into the United States.
One of Hollywood’s favorite plots is the threat of so-called suitcase nukes, like the one featured in the show “24.” But these nuclear bombs cleverly concealed in suitcases don’t exist in real life:
Nuclear bombs cleverly concealed in suitcases don’t exist in real life. Even so, they have long been a popular Hollywood plot point. [...]
Arms control expert Charles Thornton of the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland calls the scenario “so highly unlikely as to be approaching fantasy.”
It appears that Thompson is allowing his Hollywood experience to shape his budding presidential campaign. During an event in South Carolina yesterday, Thompson raised the made-for-Hollywood scenario of terrorist Cubans smuggling in “suitcase bombs”:
In his speech, Thompson assailed “unbearable tax burdens,” called for restrained spending, and argued for a smaller federal government. He expressed his opposition to the immigration bill in Congress and decried the flow of illegal immigrants from Cuba, saying: “I don’t imagine they’re coming here to bring greetings from Castro. We’re living in the era of the suitcase bomb.”
Thompson should focus on the real nuclear threats to the United States. A 2004 CRS report for Congress explained:
Scenarios for smuggling a nuclear weapon across unguarded coasts or borders are similar to those for smuggling bales of marijuana, many of which are reportedly flown in, brought by small boats, or carried across land borders; the difficulty of patrolling the borders makes such scenarios feasible.
You can take the man out of Hollywood, but you can’t take the Hollywood out of the man.