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Tens of Thousands Might Have Been Killed

4:32 PM, Mar 20, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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The History Channel notes that today is the anniversary of the March 20, 1995 sarin nerve gas attack in Tokyo -- an attack that might have killed tens of thousands if the gas had been more effectively disbursed.

At the height of the morning rush hour in Tokyo, Japan, five two-man terrorist teams from the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult, riding on separate subway trains, converge at the Kasumigaseki station and secretly release lethal sarin gas into the air. The terrorists then took a sarin antidote and escaped while the commuters, blinded and gasping for air, rushed to the exits. Twelve people died, and 5,500 were treated in hospitals, some in a comatose state. Most of the survivors recovered, but some victims suffered permanent damage to their eyes, lungs, and digestive systems. A United States Senate subcommittee later estimated that if the sarin gas had been disseminated more effectively at Kasumigaseki station, a hub of the Tokyo subway system, tens of thousands might have been killed.

And here's some more history.

Following that attack, the Clinton administration would cite the incident in explaining why Saddam Hussein must be disarmed. According to Time magazine, officials were deeply worried that Saddam might transfer wmd material to "radical Islamist groups." On November 15, 1997, President Clinton told an audience that Americans should not view the current crisis with Iraq [the administration was preparing the nation for possible military action] as a "replay" of the Gulf War in 1991. Instead, he told people to "think about it in terms of the innocent Japanese people that died in the subway when the sarin gas was released; and how important it is for every responsible government in the world to do everything that can possibly be done not to let big stores of chemical or biological weapons fall into the wrong hands, not to let irresponsible people develop the capacity to put them in warheads on missiles or put them in briefcases that could be exploded in small rooms." I wonder if the former president recollects any of this?