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Who Should Manage the Nuclear Weapons Complex, Civilians Or Military? 183

Lasrick writes "For the first time since 1946, Congress is seriously debating whether the U.S. nuclear weapons complex should be under civilian or military control. That the article is in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is significant, as it was many of the scientists who founded BAS who argued for civilian control in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They believed that atomic energy was too destructive, and the military too secretive, which would possibly thwart scientific discovery and erect a major obstacle to international control and cooperation. The article talks about how management has changed over the decades and explains the discussion that needs to happen before Congress acts."
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Who Should Manage the Nuclear Weapons Complex, Civilians Or Military?

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  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Friday December 21, 2012 @03:16PM (#42362571)

    In fact, if anything, corporations are more entangled in the military side of government than the commercial side. DoD facilities are full of commercial contractors of various kinds, some of which only exist to get government contracts (i.e. they have no real private-sector clients).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @03:30PM (#42362753)

    I work on a military site as a civilian contractor. We have MARINE GUARDS on the site to protect sensitive items stored on the base. Those marines are taught to "shoot ANYONE who violates the rules, and ask questions later." I remember a time when a 4 star ADMIRAL was made to go prone in the mud by a 19 year old marine guard, and NOTHING happened to the guard. That is the kind of security I want to guard WMD. I do not want some civilian cop wanna-be guarding nukes, I have done my share of security when I was in school, and the average guard is not able to tie his own shoes without help. The military takes that kind of job VERY SERIOUSLY.


  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Friday December 21, 2012 @04:11PM (#42363287)

    No general has been prosecuted for torture after the Bush administration

    If you mean that rendition stuff, that's because it has been determined they didn't break any laws. Sorry, but if you're talking accountability by the top brass for that, anything they did was at the direction President Bush and his civilian leadership. They can't go down unless he goes down since it appears Bush didn't take the convenient step of throwing one of them under the bus.

    If you mean the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, up to lieutenant colonel rank was tried, as that was the highest level of person who was actually involved (unfortunately, someone didn't read him his rights, letting some charges be dismissed). Above that, his colonel received non-judicial punishment for dereliction of duty, and his general was demoted just because that happened under her command.

    But as far as generals in general (haha) being court martialed, it does happen. Just recently they tried the highly respected BG Jeffrey Sinclair of the 82nd Airborne for sexual misconduct with subordinate officers and abuse of his power. This guy was like a god in his unit, practically revered like Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, and he still went down. Even if found not guilty, his career is over.

    There is much more accountability if it's military. They don't even have to break a regular criminal law to go down, a simple finding of dereliction of duty is enough. Imagine if our recent high-profile CEOs could have been criminally prosecuted for dereliction of duty, without even having to try to prove intentional fraud.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @04:45PM (#42363717)

    That never happened, you Trekkie idiot.

    I guarantee the 19 year old guard was brought to the admiral's quarters, naked, to be raped by the Admiral and his entire staff, after which, the EM was forces to felch his own ruined asshole with a feeding tube.

    It does happen, I saw a full Commander laid out on the deck of a missile tender during a nuclear weapons security drill. When the marines come running and say hit the deck, you damn well better hit the deck. The new (to the tender) Commander didn't think he had to, why I can only guess. Myself and the enlisted guy beside me backed up against the wall and slid down to our butts and sat there. After being told 3 times by the marines, and ignoring them, lets just say the sound of the butt of a weapon against the back of the head is a sick sound. The Commander did try to have the marine brought up on charges, the CO of the tender informed him of who was actually in the wrong.

    I worked with the Poseidon sub based missile system, the military makes NO JOKES about safety and deadly force is authorized to protect them, period. Security of anything nuclear, including say spent fuel from a boats nuclear reactor is guarded like For Knox and you will be killed if you try to access any of it you are not authorized and this was before 9/11. I can only imagine it has been even more tightly controlled since then.

    So next time, make sure you know what your talking about before calling someone an idiot.

  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Friday December 21, 2012 @05:33PM (#42364223)

    A friend of mine at an air base guard post in Cold War Germany had a blacked-out limo pull up. The driver showed ID, and said there was a general in the back, and allow him through. My friend's orders was nobody gets in without ID, period. So he demanded those in the back roll down the window and present ID. They did not. He demanded this to the driver again, and he refused, getting all agitated and angry, threatening to just drive through.

    So he pointed his weapon at the back of the limo and demanded ID immediately, or he shoots. At that point the general's aide rolled down the window, leaned into view and handed him the IDs of all in the back. He looked them over, gave them back, stood back, presented arms (what you do instead of saluting when you're armed), and they drove off.

    I think this was a test, because he was given a commendation not long afterwards.

  • by tiqui ( 1024021 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @04:44AM (#42367825)

    I was based in San Diego, and once lived up near the San Onofre plant (had a good friend who worked there). I would have no worries having my family live right nearby in San Onofre (the neighboring community, for those not familiar with the area). First, the plant has a containment facility designed to handle a direct impact by an airliner or a worst-case meltdown, and also designed for SoCal earthquakes. Second, while I have MANY issues with the horrendous civilian oversight of nuclear activity in the US, my main complaint is that they are far too stringent on things that do not matter and not strict enough to make me happy on some things that do. Having said that, however, the record is that the civilian overseers in the US are sufficiently cautious that no American plant has ever killed anybody. Even three Mile Island where the operators completely screwed-up harmed precisely zero people. Unlike Chernobyl, we mandate adequate containment.

    You are correct that the US Navy has an amazing track record with nuclear power. I used to have a buddy who was an engineering officer on a boomer, and he and his associates were sterling. I never cease to be amazed that the US Navy can take a bunch of 18 year-old kids from high school and 22 year old college kids and teach them to be competent, disciplined, and exacting ..... and then put them in charge of nuclear reactors, jet aircraft, nuclear weapons, etc and have such results.

    I have long thought that no nuclear plant in the US should be civilian ... working in these plants ought to be a second career we offer to the best members of our nuclear navy when they choose to retire and want a stable family life at a fixed street address. Such people could not only be trusted to be fully-competent and willing to sacrifice to protect their fellow citizens, but also would be competent to defend the facility should that need ever arise.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser