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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


For the week of December 10 - 16, 2003

Opinion Column

Keeping America uninformed and overexposed

Commentary by Dick Dorworth


"A weapon is an enemy even to its owner."

ó Turkish proverb


"You may be obliged to wage war,
but not to use poisoned arrows."

ó Baltasar Gracian


"He has made his weapons his gods.
When his weapons win he is defeated himself."

ó Rabindranath Tagore


The Bush administration is gearing up to begin testing nuclear weaponry in the desert sands of southern Nevada, close to where the nuclear industry would store the nationís bountiful and ever growing harvest of nuclear waste. While it is incumbent on all patriotic U.S. citizens and defenders of the U.S. Constitution to criticize, ridicule and oppose the Bush administration for any number of its unique policies, actions, deceptions, assumptions, attitudes and assaults upon the world at large and the rights and well-being of American citizens, nuclear bombs have been detonated above and below Nevadaís sands before. The use of nuclear weaponry is a quagmire that makes better known ones like Vietnam and Iraq seem in comparison like small mud puddles in the middle of a difficult, dirty road.

History, even poisoned history, repeats itself, especially among the learning challenged, the arrogant and the greedy.

Here, it seems, we go again.

Between Jan. 27, 1951, and Aug. 5, 1963, the U.S. government set off nearly 100 atomic bombs in the atmosphere above Yucca Flats, Nev. Another dozen or so were detonated underground "at depths from which some atmospheric release of radioactive material was possible." Each cloud of radiation that drifted over America and around the world carried amounts of radiation comparable to those released by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in 1986. The U.S. government was rightfully incensed that the Soviets waited three days to warn its citizens and the rest of the downwind world of the accident and its inescapable dangers. That delay kept people from protecting themselves and getting out of the way. That delay undoubtedly killed and will kill many people and destroyed and will destroy the health of many others. Radiation kills people and makes them sick. The U.S. government could not be righteously incensed about the Sovietís lack of candor and care because it had remained silent for 30 years about the consequences to its own citizens and the rest of the downwind world of more than a hundred times the fallout of Chernobyl.

A hundred Chernobyls is a lot of radiation.

During all that time, before and after all those nuclear explosions in the Nevada desert, despite the knowledge and testimony of every scientist with the integrity of a unsplit atom, against the dictates of common sense, and, most important, in the face of the deaths and illnesses of those known as "downwinders," the U.S. government maintained that the tests were harmless, perfectly safe, of no danger to people, animals or the rest of the environment. This was untrue then; it is untrue now; it will always be untrue. An atomic bomb is an enemy even to its owner.

It was not until 1980 that the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce concluded, in regard to those atomic bomb tests, that the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), now the Department of Energy (DOE) had "engaged in a sophisticated scientific cover-up aimed at protecting the testing program at Nevada at any cost, including the governmentís credibility." It was also at the cost of the well being of all people and the entire environment in the immediate vicinity and downwind from those tests.

In the public mind, downwind is usually associated with southern Nevada and southern Utah, and that is true. But the winds are indiscriminate and blow everywhere. Radioactive fallout falls in surprising places. The states receiving the heaviest fallout from global nuclear testing have been Iowa, Tennessee, California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The Nevada nuclear tests deposited the most fallout in the mountains and in the Midwest, particularly Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Idaho. For some reason, Idaho is favored by the winds of the nuclear age. Most people reading this live in Idaho, specifically in Blaine County, a place so lovely as to be paradisal. There are people who think of Ketchum-Sun Valley as "fantasyland" and who live here because it is not "the real world." Whether the fantasy is more in the mind or in the real environment and culture of a protected paradise, maps of the fallout paths of all those nuclear tests show Blaine County received as much radioactive fallout as anyplace in America. Neither the most deluded fantasy nor the most delightful paradise and the inhabitants of both escapes the consequences of nuclear weaponry.

The interested, uninformed and concerned can find an excellent treatment of a tragic subject in Carole Gallaherís "American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War," which can be ordered through any book store and Amazon.com. The scientific and statistic minded can find a different perspective on the same situation in "Exposure of the American People to IODINE-131 From Nevada Nuclear-Bomb Tests," available from the National Cancer Institute.

Both books show that Tagore, Gracian and the Turks have it right.

 

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