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by Leuren Moret
San Francisco BayView, Sept. 15, 2004, v.29, no.37: p.1
“I think some of these folks would put nuclear tips on ice cream cones if they could.” - U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., on efforts by Bush administration officials to repeal a research ban on low-yield nuclear weapons. Quoted in Global Security Newswire May 19, 2003
UC and nuclear weapons: the kiss of death
The top-secret Manhattan Project was laid out by Robert Oppenheimer the night Ernest Lawrence took him to the Bohemian Club during World War II. It was a part of California’s brutal rise to economic and political power described in “Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin” by Gray Brechin.
In 1939, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr had argued that building an atomic bomb “can never be done unless you turn the United States into one huge factory.” Years later, he told his colleague Edward Teller, “I told you it couldn’t be done without turning the whole country into a factory. You have done just that.” That was after Edward Teller had stuck the proverbial knife in Oppenheimer’s back, and pulled his security clearance.
Teller - also known as Dr. Strangelove - went on to promote a grandiose U.S. nuclear weapons program for decades at the nuclear weapons labs: Berkeley, Livermore and Los Alamos. The program remained under a no-bid University of California management contract for 61 years.
In a stealth takeover by the Carlyle Group, facilitated by five admirals, the management contract will be transferred next year to the University of Texas, where the military and the Carlyle Group will have control. A new “ramping up” of the nuclear weapons program is underway, with program funding at the highest level ever - even higher than during the Cold War – extending nuclear weapons into outer space, into the very atmosphere that makes life on earth possible, and with no “real” enemy in sight.
Estimating the cold war mortgage
In 1995 dollars, according to the Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. has spent approximately $300 billion on nuclear weapons research, production and testing. Today in the nuclear weapons complex there are 10,500 contaminated sites, 2.3 million acres under DOE ownership, and 120 million square feet of buildings.
The DOE Environmental Management program estimates that the 1995 high base cost to clean up the environmental legacy is $350 billion. That excludes the Nevada Test Site, Hanford, the Savannah and Clinch rivers and the Columbia River, which are considered to be “national sacrifice zones” because the technology does not exist to clean them up.
That was the cost for cleaning up the environment. The damage to the human health, not only of Americans but also to the global population, was predicted by the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) in a 2003 independent report on low level radiation for the European Parliament to be 61,600,000 deaths by cancer, 1,600,000 infant deaths, and 1,900,000 fetal deaths. “In addition, the ECRR committee predicts a 10 percent loss of life quality integrated over all diseases and conditions in those who were exposed over the period of global weapons fallout.”
The cost to the predominantly Black community living near the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco is much greater. Shortly after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Navy established the secret Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) at the shipyard to study the biological effects of ionizing radiation. The premier military radiation research facility of the post-World War II era, the lab operated at the shipyard until 1969.
Operation Crossroads ships returning to the Hunters Point Shipyard following exposure to detonation of radioactive blasts were researched and decontaminated, and secret experiments exposing animals, plants, military personnel, prisoners and local residents to radiation were conducted at the NRDL, where 550 civilian scientists worked with 65 Navy officers.
The radioactive waste and dead animals from the lab were dumped on the base, which lies along the shore of San Francisco Bay. The shipyard’s largest dump, filling a stream gorge, is now a 46-acre toxic and radioactive landfill. More waste was sunk offshore not far from the Golden Gate Bridge in a battleship and 55-gallon drums, contaminating one of the richest fisheries in the world.
Studies by the San Francisco Department of Public Health have documented an inexplicably high incidence of breast cancer among Black women under the age of 40, suggesting environmental causes. Dr. Janette Sherman became a medical doctor because of her concern about radiation after experimenting with radiation on lab animals at the NRDL as a researcher there in the 1950s. Her book, “Life’s Delicate Balance – Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer,” identifies ionizing radiation as one of the main causes of breast cancer.
Even worse, the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP), while conducting studies on infant mortality and cancer around nuclear power plants, discovered that milk contaminated with radiation has been shipped into Black inner city communities – a genocidal plan which explains why Blacks have the highest cancer rates, infant mortality and asthma in the U.S., which has been blamed on poverty.
The studies using U.S. government data on radiation in milk revealed that at the time of Chernobyl the Pennsylvania Milk Board had been selectively shipping radioactive contaminated milk from dairies around the Three Mile Island and Peachbottom reactors into Black inner city communities on the East Coast (see Jay Gould, “Infant Mortality and Milk,” a chapter in “Deadly Deceit: Low Level Radiation, High Level Coverup”).
An RPHP study on health improvements by race in San Francisco County after the shutdown of the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant in 1989 reports that health improved for all ages, diseases and races except for Blacks. Black infant mortality also increased after startups and accidents, but unlike improvements in infant mortality for whites and Asians, which decreased after the 1989 shutdown, Black infant mortality continued to reflect startups and shutdowns at other nuclear power plants in California.
UC Regents meeting May 15, 2003: the Point Man
One year ago, Admiral Linton Brooks, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) under DOE, informed California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and the UC Regents that the management contract for the nuclear weapons labs would be put up for competitive bid for the first time, with the award to be made in 2005. When a Regent asked if it would be for all the labs or just Los Alamos, he replied that it would be for Los Alamos. Later another Regent questioned him again, and this time he said, “It would be inconceivable for just one lab.”
He requested a competitive bid from UC, but the Regents were now leery of the politics involved, and Brooks was challenged by a fiery Bustamante. The lieutenant governor demanded to know why UC should waste millions of dollars preparing a bid when the University of Texas was the most favored institution to get the award and had a member on the blue ribbon panel making the award decision.
Admiral Brooks also informed the Board of Regents that “we’re back in the bomb business” because Los Alamos had just produced the first plutonium “pit” since Rocky Flats closed down. He indicated that they would be making “mini-nukes” only, and nuclear weapons testing would start at the Nevada Test Site in 2005.
An hour later, and 45 miles away, he announced to Livermore employees that “we’re back in the bomb business” and they would be making big ones, little ones and more. By this time it seemed to me that Admiral Brooks was a slippery character, and I began to wonder why an admiral was involved.
UC Regents meeting Aug. 17, 2004: Two Admirals stage ‘the Setup’
On Aug. 4, 2004, UC President Dynes, a physicist and consultant to Los Alamos and former chancellor of UC San Diego, and UC Regents Chair Gerald Parsky visited Los Alamos and met with employees over chronic and recent security and safety lapses at the lab. Parsky told them: “The regents will be left with no choice about the contract competition if we do not feel confident that you understand the importance of security, procedures and safety at the lab. If we feel that you understand this and that steps are being taken to address these issues, the regents will not only endorse competing for this contract – we will compete to win.”
During three minutes of public comment before the Regents on Aug. 17, I informed them that the lab contract was going to the University of Texas; it was a “done deal.” I told them that the management contract change was a chess move the Carlyle Group was making to privatize the nuclear weapons program, that Carlyle owned 70 percent of Lockheed Martin Marietta, and that Lockheed a year ago had bought Sandia Labs - they make the trigger for nuclear weapons.
When “Carlyle” was mentioned, I noticed that the chair, Gerald Parsky, and the vice chair, Richard Blum, who is married to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, started shifting around in their chairs. Body language can say a lot. They began a disruptive and loud conversation carried on through the rest of my comments.
As a Livermore whistleblower, I commented that the loss of computer discs with classified information and missing keys had happened almost daily for 61 years under sloppy UC management, and that science fraud as well as health and safety violations had been just as bad.
During my week of security briefing at Livermore in 1989, we had been told the story of a scientist taking classified material home in his briefcase who did not notice it had fallen off the back of his bike. A merchant found the battered briefcase in an intersection, and several days later a horrified lab security employee found that every page of a lengthy report with “CLASSIFIED” stamped on each page had been taped in the window of the merchant’s shop hoping the owner would claim his lost secret documents.
What was even more egregious, I pointed out, was an article in the July 10, 2004, issue of the Daily Mirror about the murder by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of Robert Maxwell, a British publisher. It revealed that Maxwell, who was the former owner of the Daily Mirror, was a high level Mossad agent and had sold PROMIS software to Los Alamos with a back door for the Mossad to spy on the lab. In closing, I told the Regents that no matter who got the contract award, “The University of California would forever be known as the university that poisoned the world.”
References for Part 1
“Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin” by Gray Brechin, UC Press, January 1999.
“Estimating the Cold War Mortgage: The 1995 Baseline Environmental Management Report,” U.S. DOE Office of Environmental Management Executive Summary, March 1995.
“Closing the Circle on the Splitting of the Atom: The Environmental Legacy of Nuclear Weapons Production in the U.S. and What the DOE is Doing About It,” U.S. DOE Office of Environmental Management, January 1996.
“ECRR: 2003 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk – Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation Exposure at Low Doses for Radiation Protection Purposes, Regulator’s Edition: Brussels, 2003,” http://www.euradcom.org.
“Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer” by Dr. Janette Sherman, 2000, http://www.janettesherman.com.
“Asthma; Infant Mortality; Recruiting Foster Parents” by Lynda Crawford, Gotham Gazette, May 5, 2003, http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/children/20030506/2/379.
“Deadly Deceit: Low Level Radiation, High Level Coverup” by Jay Gould and B. Goldman, 1990, http://www.radiation.org, http://www.thebulletin.org/issues/1990/s90/s90reviews.html#anchor203469.
“Letter to Employees of University of California-managed National Labs,” Today at Berkeley Lab, Aug. 6, 2004, http://www.lbl.gov/today/2004/Aug/06-Fri/letter-jump.html.
“A Career in Microbiology Can Be Harmful to Your Health: Death Toll Mounting as Connections to Dyncorp, Hadron, PROMIS Software and Disease Research Emerge” by Michael Davidson and Michael C. Ruppert, Feb. 14, 2002, http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/02_14_02_microbio.html.
Media coverage of Los Alamos security lapse, July 2004, http://www.4law.co.il/lanl1.htm.
“NASA plans to read terrorists’ minds at airports” by Frank J. Murray, Washington Times, Aug. 17, 2002, http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020817-704732.htm.
Air Travel Privacy FOIA Documents: “NASA Ames Research Center Northwest Airlines Briefing December 10-11, 2001,” Electronic Privacy Information Center, http://www.epic.org/privacy/airtravel/foia/foia1.html.
Stop Carlyle! website, http://isuisse.ifrance.com/stopcarlyle/enindex.htm.
Parts 2-4 of this exposé will appear in the Bay View in the coming weeks. The entire article is available at www.sfbayview.com.
Email Leuren Moret at email@example.com (updated -ed)
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