[ RadSafe ] xray WMD

roseb at gdls.com roseb at gdls.com
Thu Sep 3 23:29:54 CDT 2015

> So here's the question...I think we discussed this last year when these
bozos were first arrested. Is it a crime to plan to build something with
the intent of causing large numbers of casualties, when the device itself
just won't work?

Yes, it is a crime under

18 U.S. Code Chapter 113B - TERRORISM


2331  "domestic terrorism"
2332a - Use of weapons of mass destruction

Threatening or conspiring to use a WMD [see 2332a(c)(2)(D) definition of
WMD ] is sufficient to make this a criminal offense under federal law.  The
device only has to be "... designed to release radiation or radioactivity
at a level dangerous to human life...;" there is no explicit or implicit
requirement that the device has to actually work.

If the accused persons had actually obtained a functional x-ray or isotope
device (e.g. Isotope radiography source, portable x-ray radiography unit
like those discussed on Radsafe on August 27, 2015, etc.) as opposed to the
non-functional "x-ray tube" provided by the FBI agents, our discussion
would likely be "What level of radiation from the device is dangerous to
human life?" Persons intentionally and maliciously exposed to such
functional devices could receive some dose above ambient background if in
close enough proximity to a source for even a brief period of time.  Is it
a crime to intentionally and maliciously dose or attempt to dose one or
more persons to 0.001, 0.01, 0.025, 0.1, 2, 5, 10 or more rem (0.00001,
0.0001, 0.00025, 0.001, 0.02, 0.05, 0.1 or more Sv)? Could a court
(trier-of-fact) determine whether or not these doses are "dangerous to
human life?"  They (the trier-of-fact, typically laymen) have a lot of
competing "facts" about radiation (many of which could meet the Frye or
Daubert standards; https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/daubert_standard ) to
hear and to the best of their abilities form judgments as to whether the
accused would be innocent or guilty.  Experts both subscribed to and not
subscribed to this radiation safety discussion list to-date do not appear
to have achieved consensus as to whether or not the aforementioned range of
doses, particularly those less than 10 rem (0.01 Sv) are "dangerous to
human life.". The expressed intent and actions toward fulfilling that
intent is what seems to be probative in this case and not necessarily the
success or failure of the intent, whether technology feasible or
unfeasible, to result in causing "harm to human life."

In this case, the threat or conspiracy to deliver the dose even though no
dose above ambient background ([background + 0] rem or Sv) was delivered
was sufficient to find the accused guilty of the crime(s) charged.  Neither
the stupidity nor education level of the accused appeared to be a
mitigating or contributing factor toward guilt in this case.


Boyd H. Rose, CM, CIH, CHMM, EI
Sr. Safety and Environmental Engineering Specialist
Corporate Radiation Safety Officer
General Dynamics Land Systems
38500 Mound Road
Mail Zone 436-10-80
Sterling Heights , MI 48310-3200
Tel: 586 825 4503
Fax: 586-939-4140
E-mail: roseb at gdls.com

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