EMAIL PAGE FOUR
COLUMN SEVENTY-THREE, JULY 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
BY ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
FW: Penny-Wise, Dirty Nuke Foolish
Date: Fri, 3 May 2002 22:00:53 -0700
From: "venire" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Arianna Huffington <email@example.com>
Dirty Nuke Foolish
President Bush's goal is to make the United States a safer country, he's got an
odd way of doing it. In a desperate attempt to trim the budget and minimize the
projected $100 billion deficit, the Bush administration has slashed by 93
percent a Department of Energy (DOE) request for $379 million to better secure
America's storehouse of nuclear weapons and waste -- the number one item on
every terrorist's shopping list.
makes this latest bit of budgetary bloodletting particularly confounding is that
it strikes at the heart of the president's highest priority.
"Nothing," he proclaimed, "is more important than the national
security of our country. Nothing is
more important." Well, apparently something must be.
how can one explain the White House's massive reduction of funds that Bush's own
Energy Secretary, Spencer Abraham, called "a critical down payment to the
safety and security of our nation and its people"? The money had been
earmarked for such essential front line items as fortifying protective barriers
and fences at atomic storage sites, ramping up cyber security on Energy
Department computers, and installing equipment to detect explosives being
smuggled into nuclear facilities.
know from the diagrams, computers, and "Jihad for Dummies" manuals
found in the bombed out caves of Tora Bora and Mazar-e-Sharif that the madmen of
Al-Qaeda have their black hearts set on unleashing weapons of mass destruction
on the people of America -- and would love nothing better than turning our own
nuclear materials against us.
vast amounts of nuclear weapons and radioactive waste stored at Energy
Department facilities are enough to make a terrorist's mouth water, but,
evidently, not enough to stay the red pens of Mitch Daniels and the ruthless
number-crunchers in the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB),
who clearly have a very different definition of homeland security than
the rest of us.
Bush administration has been shameless in its willingness to play the national
security trump card to promote the things it most cherishes -- from tax cuts to
drilling in ANWR to the drug war to subsidies for corporate fat cats.
So it's more than a little ironic that when it comes to doing something
that will actually protect us, the president is suddenly unwilling to put our
money where his mouth is.
have submitted a budget that prioritizes homeland defense and our national
security," he announced grandly. "A budget that puts ample amounts of
money in place to respond should the enemy hit us again." Unless, of
course, the enemy decides to hit us again by stealing enough weapons-grade
plutonium to cook up a suitcase nuke.
the devastation if suicidal terrorists were able to break into a DOE facility,
quickly construct a down-and-dirty homemade atomic bomb, and set it off inside
the lab, blasting tons of radioactive material into the atmosphere.
labs," OMB director Mitch Daniels told me in defending his decision,
"are probably the most secure sites we have. This was one place where Gov.
Ridge and others have established that we are in pretty good shape. There are
other places where more catching up has to be done."
the labs are in such good shape, why did the energy secretary, who after all has
jurisdiction over the labs, not know about it? And if things are so peachy, how
come, according to government documents unearthed by the Project on Government
Oversight, federal agents posing as terrorists made it past security forces
guarding nuclear labs more than half the time? Even though security officials
were often notified that the mock attacks were coming, they still weren't able
to keep the "terrorists" from claiming their deadly prize.
sieve-like security is eerily reminiscent of the woeful results airport
screeners chalked up for years in similar tests, routinely failing to detect
knives, guns, and bombs before the horrors of September prompted Washington to
finally get serious about airport security. Are we going to have to wait until
we have a nuclear 9-11 before our leaders do all that they can to protect our
not like we're talking about an outrageous amount of money: $379 million to keep
the ingredients of nuclear devastation out of the hands of mass murderers.
That's only a few million more than the $250 million rebate the
president's beloved rollback of the alternative minimum corporate tax would have
given to Enron alone. And it pales beside the billions Bush wants for Star Wars.
administration," says Rep. Ed Markey, a longtime critic of the security at
nuclear facilities, "has requested almost $8 billion for missile defense,
which won't do anything to prevent suicidal terrorists from attacking nuclear
facilities and blowing up dirty bombs or homemade nuclear weapons."
the mid-90s, there have been over 50 reports, commissions and congressional
hearings highlighting the vulnerability of America's nuclear facilities.
well past time to stop the studying -- and start the spending. "We are
storing vast amounts of materials that remain highly volatile and subject to
unthinkable consequences if placed in the wrong hands," warned Spencer
Abraham in goading the White House to loosen the purse strings. "Failure to
support these urgent requirements is a risk that would be unwise."
To say the very, very least. ##
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