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  • Declining Federal Oversight at Los Alamos, Mello presentation to DNFSB, 22 Mar 2006
    via his blackberry We will be less risk averse and there will be less micro management in our oversight Wilmot said We will be holding lab line management accountable letting them focus on how they will get the work done and meet goals This will require heavy reliance on the LANS contractor assurance model he added I will lead the team to define our oversight and to provide the contract management tools Wilmot said Transforming the weapons complex around RRW was a major theme of NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks message to Los Alamos Site Office employees during his visit February 7th Getting off to the right start is crucial Brooks said He expressed the desire to see the lab taking on more of the getting things done right mode and NNSA standing back and seeing that they do He felt all the talk about risk aversity may be related to the press and political pressure and thinks headquarters should let the sites do their job and for the sites to let him know that things are working okay He said Headquarters would fend off the issues and concerns that come from the Hill and independent advisory organizations 1 If this is the language used in public communication I wonder what is said in meetings in the Administrator s office The new contractor assurance model is not something I welcome I prefer the foxes guarding from outside the hen house As I recall the NNSA nuclear weapons program is already about 96 privatized The same small set of contractors operates and subcontracts at most of the NNSA facilities The NNSA is even letting some of these companies build capital projects at the nuclear weapons plants putting them into the landlord business Many of these companies are heavy political donors raising a further temptation to turn to political solutions to fix problems Some like Bechtel and the Washington Group have fattened their bottom lines considerably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars Whatever you think about those wars it has become clear that the contractor culture involved in them is one of the largest financial scandals in human history 2 The LANL contract could last up to 20 years without re bidding and is therefore worth perhaps 30 billion in today s dollars It is a princely sum by any standard Management will be highly incentivized to fulfill the key missions which include producing plutonium pits in the quantities NNSA specifies Los Alamos National Security LANS is also carefully indemnified in the contract against liabilities arising from its nuclear materials operations and nuclear waste disposal activities This brings us to the change of mission at LANL of which Mr Brooks was speaking On November 7 Congress assigned LANL the job of making plutonium pits for the stockpile including both W88 pits and a new type of pit to be used in the family of warheads called Reliable Replacement Warheads or RRWs As senior NNSA officials have told me LANL s pit production mission

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/DNFSBMar06.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    cannot make a new generation of nuclear weapons under the Non Proliferation Treaty AMY GOODMAN And yet it is GREG MELLO Yeah We are planning on it Yes AMY GOODMAN Can you talk about this new generation and what it means here for New Mexico GREG MELLO Sure AMY GOODMAN I mean some have said that if New Mexico were to secede from the United States it would be the world s third greatest nuclear power GREG MELLO Right There is about 2 500 nuclear weapons just five miles from here just a little south of the main runway AMY GOODMAN Where GREG MELLO At Kirtland Air Force Base at the Albuquerque Sun Port the main airport there And the 27 million that the administration is requesting for a new warhead program which it calls the Reliable Replacement Warhead is really just the tip of the iceberg The acronym R R W appears 60 times in the nuclear weapons budget sprinkled around in different line items and those line items can be redirected toward or to support the so called R R W or Reliable Replacement Warhead program So the actual budget is quite a bit more The intent is to redirect the Stockpile Stewardship program or to say it another way to use the fruits of the Stockpile Stewardship program to get ahead and upgrade the U S nuclear arsenal not just directly in terms of the explosives the nuclear explosives or warheads but to initiate a broad pattern of innovation so that the warheads can keep pace with innovation in the delivery systems and with targeting and with well arming firing fusing you know so that basically so that nuclear weapons can continue to evolve and remain a central part of the goal of so called full spectrum dominance AMY GOODMAN You are saying that the new generation of nuclear weapons that the Bush administration is pushing forward violates the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty GREG MELLO Absolutely And in that treaty we are required to successfully negotiate complete nuclear disarmament This has been a U S law since 1970 As recently as 2000 the United States well in a consensus statement at the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty review conference we agreed to proceed with nuclear disarmament in a series of 13 steps that would actually implement that disarmament requirement The Bush administration has repudiated those 13 steps and the subject of nuclear disarmament and our Article 6 requirement to do so under the N P T is not something the Bush administration wants to talk about especially in the context of Iran And the what we would like we would like to hold Iran to a very high standard under the N P T Ourselves we would not want to talk about what we re doing there AMY GOODMAN Greg Mello who runs Los Alamos Who runs the national lab GREG MELLO Right now it s the University of California but a consortium of four companies well three

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/DemNow3-2-06.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • The Way is the Goal: Disarmament Now!
    dissimulation and denial is candor which expresses who we are and shapes who we become We communicate that first and foremost If we do not express the core human values and the political goals which brought us to speak in the first place who exactly are we and why have we come to speak There can be no solace in the idea that while circumstances call for circumspection our private views may remain intact In the first place this is not how human beings work our social and political face is indeed our face In second place our private views just don t matter in this regard politics as opposed to rule occurs in public In the third place our arguments will be weak What argument can be built from the implicit premise that nuclear weapons are useful and acceptable The weakness of this premise is widely appreciated as polls show In the fourth place dissimulation destroys resistance from the inside by creating a moral problem in its innermost heart rotting its culture and bringing forward leaders few will follow Machiavelli may have advised deception for his prince but democracy can t be rebuilt on a foundation of deception 5 In today s political scene it is primarily social conservatives who have understood the power of candor and clarity of goals and they have acted on this understanding with great effect Second I think failure to condemn nuclear weapons while offering nuclear peer review instead assures political defeat in the long run even when it leads to short term gains which again I do not see For example suggesting that pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory LANL might be a good alternative to the Modern Pit Facility MPF and thus help defeat the latter as some have done is not just bad expert advice but bad disarmament strategy as I have discussed elsewhere 6 Third moral discourse is the only way to communicate and coordinate efforts across large numbers of people organizations and issues and finally across time and history itself It is thus the only way to accumulate any significant political power Conscience con science is what we know together as human beings Our conscience is what makes us human and it makes us human together When the Einstein Russell manifesto calls us to Remember your humanity and forget the rest it is our common human conscience which is to be remembered expertise and clever strategies are as straws in comparison Milan Kundera famously identified such memory with the struggle against tyranny The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting If we do remember in this way we won t need as many conference calls If we do not all the conference calls strategic planning sessions and facilitated conferences in the world won t help Facilitated discussions don t change values if you have a common moral understanding you can skip the extra expense as we are doing here right now You will have intimacy and intimacy after all is said and done is what you need We know that very large institutions if their components are to be flexible and creative and not mere robots must be mostly managed by shared ideology There really is no other way How much more is this true for large numbers of independent organizations and actors most of whom are volunteers with many other important things to do with their time 7 The idea now current in some foundation circles that a large number of nonprofits in our field can be coordinated to take actions toward a vision of nuclear disarmament by means of managerial legerdemain messaging techniques and a common desire for foundation funding is foolish in the extreme What results from this sort of thing is a half hearted lowest common denominator approach to complex problems that is and will remain inherently weak intellectually morally and politically Fatal political weakness in the final product is apparently not considered too great a price to pay for centralized control Instead of high moral purpose which would be a sudden victory in itself and capable of mobilizing volunteers across the country and beyond the central organizing principle is the desire for funding from the foundations involved and the associated fear of not getting any Whatever the goals such a process creates captive professionals and drains away moral inspiration moving the field precisely in the wrong direction It is very difficult for me to see how this kind of approach will help bring about nuclear disarmament despite the best of intentions Instead I think coordination of effort is generally but not always undesirable on any but a small scale There is a tradeoff between scale and intensity in all coordination The only possible means of coordination in large scale efforts is through common human values i e con science as said before Effective large scale managerial collaboration of organizations in the absence of clear common moral goals is doomed It is only through explicit common moral values that broad cross issue campaigns can be built 8 Since it is unlikely that nuclear disarmament can be effective as a single issue even when twinned with nuclear nonproliferation it is to allied and related issues involving human security and dignity that we must turn to add salience to a popular but not otherwise salient issue Clear moral values communicate through time expanding the vital present the only moment in which we can act to include the past and future This gives a terrific expansion of power By placing our struggle in continuity with the partnership of generations 9 the hallowed story of our intellectual and moral forebears becomes our own story and we in turn embody their story afresh The hands of our ancestors lighten our burdens and the children of the future whose very existence depends upon our work call to us and encourage us Many hear them Whether we are conscious of it or not the vehicle which creates this expansion of power is the vow It is vows which comprise the moral bridge between past and future transcending person and mortality I made no vows but vows Were then made for me 10 Vows like promises in the personal context and contracts in the legal one bind the future Contra Marx all that is solid need not always melt into air We do well to emphasize the continuity of our efforts with those of the past It would be to our advantage personally in terms of organizing and in terms of social acceptance Past events often gain prestige by antiquity alone heroic men and women reviled by the powerful in their own time are universally praised today We need to bring their prestige to our own work or shall I say bring ourselves to their level in intimacy with them Such efforts help remind us that nuclear disarmament is an essentially conservative cause based on grandmother values and the deepest core principles of our or any civilization Richelieu once remarked that revolutionaries decrease their power by half by virtue of their rebellion We seek to restore democracy not to overthrow it as Mr Cheney and Mr Bush are so effectively doing today I wish to conclude this theme with a passage from Praful Bidwai an Indian anti nuclear journalist whom some of you perhaps know Such a movement for nuclear disarmament must be broad based and inclusive yet it must be lucidly clear about its goals lest it stray from its main functions It must recognize that people will come to the disarmament platform out of a range of considerations and motives and from different social and ideological backgrounds But at the same time it must carefully articulate principles and doctrines in such a way as to retain its identity integrity and effectiveness Beyond these premises a disarmament movement may have legitimate internal differences Historically such differences have never prevented disarmament campaigns from becoming effective What has crippled them is lack of clarity on the point that nuclear weapons are wholly evil unacceptable and indefensible that is failure to mobilise enough moral force internally Moral force is all important when you are rolling back an epochal injustice Without it India could not have achieved independence nor South Africa liberation from apartheid On such morality there can be no compromise 11 2 Nuclear weapons policies are not all they are cracked up to be Nuclear weapons and policies are an embarrassment to many who make them This embarrassment could be made to grow This is one of the truths of nuclear secrecy namely that a great deal of it is driven by shame and the need to suppress system shattering revelations of a variety of kinds This shame and embarrassment is a great source of strength to us but is of course largely unavailable if we condone nuclear weapons Nuclear weapons are beset with secrecy they are shameful they are also technical which is a de facto secrecy for non specialists For these three reasons nuclear weapons policy is not the result of a fully conscious political process and so is not actually a conscious policy at all There is a policy to be sure it is written in a book but few who write the book read it fewer understand it and fewer still are invested politically in it Policy is to that degree therefore a somewhat unstable and b frequently divorced from practice Further the actual nature of policy formation in general is inchoate distributed in society unknowable and unpredictable There is no describable policy process as in Civics 101 Legislative and executive acts are not always the efficient causes of policy which may be as much or more the result of prior changes in the economy in social norms and practices or stem from other events external to government The role of citizens in governance in other words isn t just to elect lawmakers and policy is not the monopoly of government Policy options available to lawmakers and administrators are limited by various realities and even in a dictatorship one of those realities is public opinion Policy reform likewise occurs in many ways A policy which does not work for some reason will likely be changed and in the meantime cannot be followed Much of what organizations like ours do is not oriented toward changing policy directly but toward finding ways to make existing policies half hearted as they really are for the above reasons fail Many do fail Helping government fail is not always so very hard If a failed policy isn t changed it may remain dysfunctional and moribund This may not be a bad thing More efficient management of bad programs isn t good While we might like Congress to wake up tomorrow and admit to the error of its nuclear weapons ways we may more easily arrange in the meantime for disinvestment senescence declining morale staggering overhead and inefficiency and bad management We can in other words progress in fact when progress in law is stalled Such progress generally requires that our basic condemnation of nuclear weapons remains clear and visible as I will now argue 3 The nuclear weapons complex is both more and less than its appearance its apparent strengths are compromised by great weaknesses What do I mean by nuclear weapons complex First of all I mean the NNSA and Department of Defense DoD nuclear weapons facilities their contractors and subcontractors and so on I mean the materiel the nuclear weapons and nuclear materials the delivery systems and the command control systems We have to include the money the federal appropriations supported by federal receipts and borrowing We must include the people in the executive branch and in the captive portions of the legislative branch those uniformed military involved the contractor personnel and anyone else I may be forgetting So far so good We also have to include knowledge Some of it is objective written down in reports and books and in electronic media of various kinds Other knowledge is tacit the unwritten knowledge held by skilled people craft skills Some is institutional knowledge not really belonging to any one person but held in the functioning organization as a whole If the manner of operations changes the ability to produce a certain complex outcome such as a nuclear test might not be easily restored Making it all work keeping folks on the job and allowing them to communicate and work productively with one another also requires common beliefs commitments ideology and purposes These aspects of institutional software are closely allied with social legitimacy of the enterprise perceived social authority of its leaders morale of the staff and with the perceived moral justification and social acceptance of the institution s mission For the weapons complex this software for which we can take morale as a shorthand expression is a necessary aspect of successful operation recruitment and retention This software is mostly social political moral and spiritual It is subject to sudden changes and it is not governed by strictly quantitative calculations It is understood to be of primary importance by the managers of the weapons complex themselves Understanding it is absolutely key to understanding the quest for novel nuclear weapons as well as to understanding the nonviolent political dynamics of the nuclear struggle So when former STRATCOM Commander in Chief Lee Butler said the nuclear beast has a kind of soul he was right As he said t he nuclear beast must be chained its soul expunged its lair laid waste 12 Indeed That is our mission not to provide better management more security more cost effective pit production or safer operations These issues may from time to time play minor and supporting roles but only if they do not undercut our central mission and message To sum this up we can say that nuclear disarmament is the inverse of nuclear armament Nuclear armament requires many things some material some immaterial All of them must work together just so The negation or destruction of even one key nuclear requirement will result in nuclear disarmament From these considerations it is abundantly clear that the struggle for nuclear disarmament like all conflicts has a spiritual aspect From this perspective changes in fortune can be sudden and we may not even see them As Neitzche said somewhere history changes at midnight in silence The beginning of real nuclear disarmament like a height of land beyond which streams flow to the sea may not be obvious Today s events may have quite a different meaning tomorrow Making nuclear weapons is very difficult many people must do complicated things and the whole must be successfully explained accepted and coordinated Active social investment is required from many actors inside and out Almost complete public passivity is also required Public condemnation of nuclear weapons by only a relatively few people if it is effective can wreck this house of cards Social disinvestment in nuclear weapons is real disarmament Effective public condemnation of nuclear weapons is real nuclear disarmament 4 Disinvestment is disarmament Let s try and unpack this further Can nuclear weapons be effectively abolished by a process of gradual neglect official and unofficial by forgetfulness chaotic policies de facto social and political disinterest and active disapproval by institutional senescence by the imposition of a constraining network of rules given declining mission importance 13 by the decay of skills tacit knowledge the ability to recruit and retain morale and technical ability I think the answer is yes at least to a degree To put it another way in the general decline we face can nuclear weapons in particular decline and do so a step ahead of the means to control and condemn them Who shall decline first we or they Who shall be the last person and what shall be the last argument left standing The last argument or last word is important Nuclear weapons derive their supposed utility from their absolute character They are to be the ultima ratio the final guarantors of victory and national survival the absolute weapons This supposedly is why the U S keeps them The actual reasons nuclear weapons are kept are of course quite different than this They do not confer victory they do not guarantee national survival they do not make citizens safer and indeed there are no circumstances in which nuclear use would be to citizens advantage What nuclear weapons indisputably do provide the U S has nothing to do with their military utility and everything to do with the reputation of their power which brings real power to shape events Attacking the prestige of nuclear weapons directly assaults the benefits they bring the state In nuclearspeak the credibility of the deterrent declines If nuclear weapons are a permanent source of conflict at home and condemnation abroad the utility of nuclear weapons as instruments of state power is challenged at its source Controversy itself discredits the nuclear claim of absolute power 14 When nuclear weapons are no longer a growth industry when they are no longer associated with the creative forces in society and are instead associated with senescence decay and decline something happens to their social prestige and political legitimacy When this happens the ways in which these weapons are not useful and instead burdens and liabilities to the state expand The stories told about nuclear weapons by journalists change All sorts of problems which were not seen before suddenly become interesting to news editors As nuclear prestige contracts the political space in which nuclear decisions can be made such as use in war contracts In this scenario national policy would then finally track what are perceived as constraints imposed by new circumstances Nobody will come clean since discussion of past mistakes would decrease the prestige of the state and politicians involved Perhaps mistakes were made but no one is now to blame and it is time to move on 15 5 We have untapped sources of strength There are many of these and I am only going to mention a few We know disarmament is very popular much more popular than arms control or current policy Polls consistently show this 16 In addition we have very numerous UN resolutions condemning nuclear possession and use which is to say we have the testimony of states We have Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty NPT and its authoritative interpretation by the International Court of Justice which requires complete nuclear disarmament a clear legal mandate under international as well as domestic law Our legal position is very strong and supports per se illegality of nuclear weapons as Charles Moxley Frances Boyle and others have suggested One interpretation of this legal situation is that we do not need new treaties and laws just enforcement of the laws we have societal enforcement most likely If we cannot make treaty law we can make customary law and display the dictates of the public conscience and we should We have nuclear free zone treaties covering much of the earth There have been hundreds of civil society campaigns producing statements of public conscience including the Call for Nuclear Disarmament in New Mexico 17 Beyond all human opinion and law we also have some facts that form the bedrock of our position What facts One of them is that there is a deep contradiction between nuclear weapons and human values Any number of religious statements and positions refer to this but it s important that we ourselves come to understand and believe this in our own context a process which will invariably lead to creative powerful persuasive expression Opinion is one thing Put opinions together and you will have a pile of opinions This may be very useful Belief on the other hand a particular understanding of reality is quite another especially if it involves some of the deepest obligations we as human beings can have This process of investigation clarification and liberation can be described in religious or in political terms It is both Another fact we must face is that nuclear proliferation cannot be controlled if nuclear weapons are considered legitimate by some powerful states Preventing proliferation is problematic under the best of circumstances and it will be impossible if the nuclear weapon states do not comply with their Article VI obligations The so called bargain at the heart of the NPT is deeper than any bargain it s a description of this reality The central idea of the NPT is the idea that possession of nuclear weapons is illegitimate for all states immediately and permanently for all signatories save five and eventually for them as well It is a legal expression of the inherent immorality and hence disutility of nuclear weapons The next useful fact follows from this as well nuclear weapons have no military usefulness Nuclear deterrence is a shibboleth not a strategy Since this is the primary nuclear justification the wound here could be made to go deep and in past decades it has It is not difficult to explain this in common sense terms Finally nuclear weapons have all kinds of costs costs not limited to money and we need to endlessly point these out Even money which can be printed is scarce These costs are very specific very real and very important to everyone Why do I say these sources of strength are untapped Because collectively we act as if we don t believe in them Most of the resources talent and attention in our field are directed as if these realities didn t exist It is not just because the prime movers of the NGO community are directing resources that way It is also because we ourselves are not adequately confident We are influenced by the general atmosphere of helplessness in our culture We are too greatly mesmerized by the spectacle of events and our darkening national prospects Too readily do our thoughts like Hamlet s lose the name of action This is a very grave danger because it is precisely from liberated imaginations and personal investments that all action and power are born Faith and belief are not just powerful they are potentially determinative holding sway over enormous odds and mountains of passive matter Faith but not fantasy indeed does move mountains 6 Politics as usual is over there will be major economic political and environmental disruptions from here on out U S society is in the initial stages of a profound political and economic crisis beyond anything we have seen or can easily imagine This is also true worldwide although some countries and regions e g Europe may cope somewhat better than others at least at first The U S situation is poised to rapidly deteriorate for a variety of reasons many of which are sufficient in themselves and taken together quite overwhelming 18 There is very little any of us can do about what James Howard Kunstler aptly calls The Long Emergency 19 although the timing depth nature and duration of decline are as they were in other declines the product of an interplay of forces including democratic and humane ones A silver lining for us is that there will be more awake and motivated persons under these circumstances if for no other reason than the denial and decadence which holds many back will dissolve And if we can arrange it the star of nuclear weapons may fall before our own To make this happen our own cultural transmission must be more effective than that in the nuclear complex Needless to say our efforts under such circumstances cannot depend upon fads like messaging or the latest nonprofit management buzzwords We do not need very many people to be successful provided they are selfless and can attract and lead others This is a good thing because under rapidly evolving circumstances of privation social collapse and environmental catastrophe there will be no social movement as such for nuclear disarmament either in the U S or internationally unless nuclear weapons are used in war in which case all bets are off There could and will likely be a movement for human security which incorporates nuclear disarmament or disinvestment which I am saying comes to the same thing in the end I think we need just a very few people to harvest the truth to turn the wheel of truth already established by countless personal sacrifices clear thought and humane actions throughout human history We do not need new norms We need to use the ones we have As a dark age dawns we must learn to take our place in the nonviolent traditions of humanity s best leaders traditions which stretch back to the dawn of time If we do this we have enough people Our strategies must not assume too much democracy a common error We need and should struggle for more but we cannot assume we will get it Indeed we are very likely to lose much of what we have As we begin the long emergency we will need as never before to stabilize our own lives and at the same time light beacons against the coming dark Whatever our religious or humanistic tradition we shall have to adopt the equivalent of the radical Bodhisattva position so we can live and die with dignity and contribute what embodied hope we can to those around us Under these circumstances nuclear weapons issues if pursued in isolation will be increasingly pushed down the salience ladder by a chaotic barrage of international domestic environmental economic and cultural problems which will become increasingly severe in the very near future In this environment in which citizens are hard beset on many sides have limited enfranchisement and are the victims of increasing corruption and violence a low salience issue like nuclear disarmament can best be approached as a component of a value and vision based platform which a incorporates broader themes and b includes specific related issues which affect people directly sensibly and negatively In other words nuclear disarmament must piggyback on related issues to be germane but there are plenty of them and there will be more Arms control unless it is a minor and subservient theme in the state s Global War on Terror propaganda a status which it is close to having today will increasingly fail to attract public awareness let alone acquire political momentum Incremental approaches to disarmament involving highly crafted poll tested messages are inherently inadequate in this increasingly unpredictable political environment The best messages at such a time involve permanent truths which people already know in the depths of their being These are invariably moral truths Fear it need hardly be said is worse than useless Under these circumstances I do not see dramatic new nuclear arms control treaties coming from international negotiations barring prior nuclear war Unless we are very lucky we may now be entering a much more violent period than the late Cold War the relative peace and prosperity of which provided the context for the arms control negotiations to which our generation is accustomed The Cold War is over the post Cold War is over and we are now in something like World War IV which the U S Administration calls The Long War or the Global War on Terror It will not be easy to stop this war intertwined as it is with resource and religious issues For the neoconservatives getting this war started a war which enables so many long desired changes in our society for them was an objective in itself one in which they have now succeeded We in the peace and security community must now grasp that we will never again in our lifetimes have either peace or security as they are commonly understood 7 We can make no distinction between local national and international strategies Nuclear weapons are a global problem but they exist in are built in and commanded from specific places States claim to own them and direct nuclear activities but nuclear complexes challenge the sovereignty of nation states as many have observed For all these reasons and more there are no strictly local domestic or international nuclear weapons issues To be effective our strategies must link local national and international efforts drawing what strengths we can from wherever we can find them and applying them to the weakest links in the nuclear chain of being It almost goes without saying that the U S is the principal barrier to nuclear disarmament worldwide today The U S will block every initiative that could delegitimize nuclear weapons and it has largely abandoned the rule of law in relation to nuclear weapons altogether making up special cases and special exceptions as it goes More broadly the U S is also the greatest threat to the rule of law in the world today the world s only military hyperpower responsible for approximately half the world s total military outlays with hundreds of bases around the world and a perfect willingness to flout international law if deemed necessary and possible In all this U S nuclear weapons policy is completely interwoven with its hegemonic ambitions on the one hand and the maintenance of the nuclear complex and contractors on the other If U S leadership is to remain intact the U S must cling to its nuclear weapons If the complex is to remain intact have something to do and support its politicians the nuclear stockpile must be re made with novel weapons The U S is a now highly decadent empire in steep economic social and political decline still largely oblivious to its own peril and doing little to soften the coming blows This is a very dangerous situation for the entire world Experience and common sense tell us the U S especially under all these circumstances will not bow to international pressure or opinion regarding nuclear weapons by any of the means which have been tried up to now in ordinary international venues So whatever the message being crafted for the latest international negotiation or meeting it seems to me that it s all been said and done before and will avail little or nothing That doesn t mean we shouldn t repeat the message but without dramatically more political power for disarmament i e power within key states parties which we do not have and have no way of getting except through work on the ground in those countries we cannot expect any breakthroughs Putting these themes together a central goal of international strategy therefore must be to generate substantial new political power for disarmament within the U S Barring this disarmament activism surrounding international negotiations is mostly futile Take the United Nations UN for instance Civil society representatives have no real standing and no real power there The U N is a forum of states not NGOs after all While in areas such as human rights NGOs have been encouraged for reasons of state interest to play a higher profile role in nuclear weapons policies this is not the case Nuclear weapons address states existentially and the low status of disarmament NGOs and indeed of the U N Department of Disarmament Affairs itself is a symptom of this reality Floating international venues such as the various international NGO conferences which have become fashionable these days are if anything even more lacking in agency Compared to similar meetings conducted in nuclear weapons locales like Los Alamos U S A or Aldermaston U K do such conferences really matter Wouldn t the same efforts applied to meetings in locations germane to the issues generate far more power far more publicity far more life changing experiences to young activists bolster local efforts and bring to bear significant international pressure on vulnerable points in the nuclear chain of being Especially in the U S such events could provide a terrific stage from which to proclaim to the world the hypocrisy of U S nuclear policies in relation to its demonization of Iran complicating the political environment for war When civil society leaders speak on world problems from neutral locations some parts of the world may listen but here in the U S we largely do not and to repeat it is the U S that is the problem Conferences located in arbitrary places disconnected from resistance and constructive action on the ground on the one hand and from national policymaking sites on the other are for many purposes really situated nowhere as far as nuclear issues are concerned What do they accomplish National and international strategies all happen somewhere To the extent they float in a nebulous policy space disconnected from actual nonviolent political power strategies will be starved of that power In Washington DC to pick one key location nonviolent political power comes from elsewhere absolutely none is generated locally For our purposes Washington DC imports political power and then consumes it in the deal making process There is never enough because on the other side of the table is concentrated all the power of the imperial nuclear state What is the logic of focusing so much of our efforts on the place where we are weakest and our adversary is strongest The source of nonviolent political power is people doing things together which they do in real locations mostly the places where they live work go to church raise their children and vote From the media perspective these real places produce real images involve real people and create real stories which in the nuclear disarmament business can move from medium sized city papers to outlets around the world overnight The bigger point is this all politics is local including national and international politics The best international and national strategies are local strategies There are thousand variations but all effective strategies involve one way or another involve lowering the prestige of nuclear weapons nuclear facilities and nuclear ideas and lowering the social and political authority of nuclear spokespersons All involve raising up instead humane values such as human and environmental security and reaffirming the authority and status of civil society over the nuclear aberration The antinuclear forces communicate civilization and life to themselves and to others the nuclear weapons forces invariably communicate violence and death All the other tactical boats quite a fleet float upon these waters It is frequently said that nuclear issues lack salience At the nuclear sites this is not at all true They are inherently salient there There are no effective international strategies which are not also and better local strategies If we take care of the local strategies the international strategies will take care of themselves The opposite is far from true 8 Live nuclear free disarmament now The trumpet of morning blows in the clouds and through The sky It is the visible announced It is the more than visible the more Than sharp illustrious scene The trumpet cries This is the successor of the invisible This is its substitute in stratagems Of the spirit This in sight and memory Must take its place as what is possible Replaces what is not Wallace Stevens Credences of Summer 1947 I want to present this statement as a question not an answer or injunction though it carries an exclamation point rather than a question mark It is an enigma a mystery In a way it is the central enduring mystery of our work On the one hand there are so and so many nuclear weapons in the world and nuclear policies are such and such Such things change gradually we know We sometimes think they change hardly at all or they change for the worse Some day there will be no more nuclear weapons on the planet but this is no comfort Some day the sun will explode Yet in another sense disarmament can be sudden even unexpected How Perhaps we should choose only those strategies which are sure to succeed Since future events are uncertain and just to

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/TheWay.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • United States Military Spending
    as 43 4 B FY2005 45 7 B FY2006 and 47 3 B FY 2007 Other Defense Civil Activities includes outlays for military retirement educational benefits American Battle Monuments Commission Armed Forces Retirement Home Army Cemeterial Expenses Military Reservations Forest and Wildlife Conservation and Selective Service System Our data source Table 27 1 does not offer the same level of detail We have included outlays for military retirement funds and the Armed Forces Retirement Home under past military expenses Rather than risk double counting outlays we have used only the line items we could locate likely underestimating total defense spending by a few billion dollars Historical Tables Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2007 6 February 2007 http www whitehouse gov omb budget fy2007 pdf hist pdf 6 Accounting for supplemental outlays is problematic For current and future years Table 27 1 can only estimate budget authority and outlays and it does not clearly identify unspent budget authority carried from year to year Table 27 1 includes an estimated 70 0 B in future supplemental budget authority for Iraq and Afghanistan in FY 2006 but estimates that only 30 1 B of this will actually be spent in FY 2006 thus presumably carrying over 39 9 B in enacted budget authority into FY 2007 Then in FY 2007 an estimated 50 0 B in new authority is to be added for an apparent estimated total supplemental budget authority in FY 2007 of 89 9 B of which 55 9 B is estimated to be actually spent in FY 2007 apparently leaving an estimated 34 0 B of unspent budget authority to carry over into FY 2008 In other words while the federal budget as a whole runs a deficit the White House expects Congress to enact enough DoD supplemental funding to run a hefty surplus in FY2006 which is to be carried over into FY 2007 and potentially beyond In our table we spend the extra 39 9 B in FY 2006 budget authority in FY 2006 and do not carry it over into FY 2007 Given the high cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it seems unlikely in our view that some or all of the additional FY 2006 budget authority will not be spent in that year We also think it likely that additional emergency budget authority and additional outlays beyond those estimated in Table 27 1 will be considered necessary for FY 2007 We do not speculate on how large the additional FY 2007 authority and outlays will be See also Office of Budget Management http www whitehouse gov omb budget fy2007 defense html 7 Includes funding for the Armed Forces Retirement Home Does not include military retirement trust fund 8 We have left this out of the total because we are not sure if it is included in Table 27 1 Veterans Affairs outlays Appendix Executive Office of the President http www whitehouse gov omb budget fy2007 pdf appendix eop pdf 9

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/MilitarySpending.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Why write letters to editors?
    representative will know that many others saw that letter too Key decisions in society are made by many people not just a few elected leaders Your letter may reach state legislators city counselors business and community leaders and other persons who may read books you suggest come to new insights or otherwise take creative action in their own sphere Writing public letters is an excellent way to develop your own skills in rhetoric and written argument making you more persuasive and effective Published truths often aren t exactly true Distortion by omission especially has become normal Writing to our papers is a powerful tool for supplying some of the missing facts key analyses and obvious but missing conclusions News editors not just editorial page writers read public letters These letters influence the direction of news coverage Our adversaries know this For example there are lab retirees and others who raise hell every time there is any criticism of Los Alamos National Laboratory Writing regularly changes us too When an occasional letter becomes a regular commitment our own identity is enriched We become better known in our communities more influential and more accountable ourselves A series of letters shows that we are paying attention to a developing issue and that our expectation of accountability by others is reasonable and to be reckoned with Writing regularly with a group of people is even more effective Why not invite your friends over to your house or to a local hangout talk about the issues and write short letters summarizing your perspectives By contrast just expressing an opinion to your friends accomplishes absolutely nothing political It s just talk One more step public letters will allow you to share your hard won insights with thousands Public speech is one of the most protected activities

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/what/WhyWrite.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    is to forget that they are in the business of making money and that they themselves are hip deep in scandals elsewhere Highlights of today s study include Department of Energy DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration NNSA operations are almost totally privatized All but 6 of DOE appropriations went to contractors in FY2004 NNSA is worse in FY2006 at least 96 of NNSA appropriations are going to its contractors Fully one half of DOE s total budget outlays for fiscal year FY2005 went to just nine contractors Four of these top nine contractors Bechtel WGI BWXT and UC are partnering in Los Alamos National Security LANS slated to take over management of Los Alamos National Laboratory LANL on June 1 in a contract worth according to DOE 36 6 billion Bechtel WGI and BWXT are partners in contracts collectively valued by DOE at 100 B 74 B and 67 B respectively There is an increasing geographic focus to NNSA nuclear weapons spending namely New Mexico In FY2006 for the first time over half of the NNSA Weapons Activities budget line is spent in or through New Mexico Incredibly NNSA plans further consolidation of its contracts using fewer contractors integrated more tightly across the complex NNSA also plans to use contractors more for higher level policy and decision making functions despite long standing congressional concerns about this practice Increasingly DOE contractors are forming site specific limited liability partnerships and integrated management teams which collectively could be described as committee contracting With few firms involved this trend suggests that to a large extent financial rewards and accountability in the nuclear weapons businesses are being pooled and diffused among a small group of corporations universities and captive nonprofits Safety is in particular risk at LANL where both the quantity and quality of

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2006/PressRelease05-30-06.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    its concern about the planned expansion of nuclear waste disposal in Los Alamos Prior to this year approximately 3 840 New Mexicans had petitioned governors Johnson and Richardson to close Area G in the Can Paign to halt nuclear disposal in northern New Mexico with most paying 3 to convey their wishes on a can of food with a nuclear waste label These petitions included a formal request for nuclear dump closure under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act RCRA the controlling law under which LANL once held an interim disposal permit for all of Technical Area TA 54 including Area G and other nearby nuclear and chemical waste disposal areas Study Group Director Mello Passing the important milestone of 100 organizations and nonprofits is primarily an achievement of Study Group volunteers It s a testimony to the hard work and initiative of a lot of people and a testimony to their civic engagement and active concern about the future Other organizations are now looking at the Call with fresh eyes as the reality of the proposed nuclear weapon renaissance sinks in along with what it would mean for our economic development our security and our environment In the process we ve learned some things One is that it s harder to get people s attention in our information and advertising choked culture than it is to talk them into strongly condemning nuclear weapons The fact that these weapons of mass destruction are one of the state s largest industries doesn t hold people back as much as I thought it would The really hard part is getting peoples attention Another thing we ve learned is that leadership on this issue and a few others doesn t seem to be coming from some of the places you d expect So

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2006/PressRelease03-03-06.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    staff as well as on the Energy and Water staff has been at other times a nuclear industry lobbyist We can only hope that in the coming years the great and conflicted interests of powerful politicians and spokespersons are mentioned more frequently when these individuals are quoted in the press Without such disclosure the public debate will be a surreal and fantastic exercise Both LANL and SNL ostensibly mere government servants have for years helped direct a major strategic promotion of nuclear power with worldwide reach called the Global Nuclear Vision Project GNVP in partnership with the key actors from around the world The great financial incentives mentioned in addition to the prestige ideological fervor and access to campaign cash associated with these great money flows help to explain why the proponents of nuclear power have seldom provided balanced complete and truthful information This we submit is a very well established fact not an opinion a fact which anyone can establish with only a few hours of library research The mere fact that millions are spent in the attempt to influence public policy strongly suggests it The Study Group opposes nuclear power on the basis of study spanning some 30 or more years in some of our cases We come to this conclusion on pragmatic grounds Study Group Executive Director Greg Mello If I thought nuclear power could solve any of our energy supply problems in a safe and prudent manner I would support it Likewise if I thought nuclear power could help prevent global warming I would support it I don t think nuclear power can help us solve either of these problems energy supply or global warming and to attempt it would not only drain away the resources we need to address these twin crises but also would create other serious new problems Study Group Board member Peter Neils comments The most troubling aspect of the current effort to resuscitate nuclear power is that it continues to enjoy an exemption from the type of cost benefit analysis that other types of infrastructure are subjected to prior to authorization and investment After a 50 year investment of billions of taxpayer dollars the nuclear power industry still cannot stand on its own Only a relaxation in the regulatory environment combined with yet another massive public investment has stirred this comatose industry Ironically it is many of the same corporations that have reaped huge windfalls in Mr Bush s military adventures that are poised to chalk up yet more exorbitant profits at the expense of future generations of Americans If nuclear power is the answer and I do not think it is and if private industry will not develop it without massive taxpayer subsidies perhaps it should only be developed as a publicly owned utility Why should taxpayers assume all the liabilities while wealthy investors reap all the supposed future profits If the tens of billions of dollars that have been invested in nuclear power had been invested in safe renewable

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2006/PressRelease01-31-06.htm (2016-02-16)
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