(August 5, 2003)
Some 150 top U.S. officials and military contractors are scheduled to gather Thursday in Omaha, Nebraska at the U.S. Strategic Command Center. The meeting's agenda is secret as is the guest list. But observers say the Bush administration will likely agree to launch a new nuclear age.
This week marks the 58th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, 150 top U.S. officials and defense contractors will quietly meet in Omaha Nebraska to develop plans for the U.S. to expand its nuclear arsenal. The meeting was supposed to be top secret. The list of attendees hasn't been released. Rumor has it that Vice President Dick Cheney will be in attendance. A man often compared to Dr. Strangelove, Keith Payne will be there. There are expected to be no advocates for nuclear disarmament.
The agenda of the meeting is also unknown but observers say the attendees are expected to begin rewriting the country's nuclear policy. Calls to resume nuclear testing are expected. So are calls to build a new generation of nukes.
To get an idea of what will likely be discussed you can just browse some of the headlines that have appeared in the nation's press over the past year.
To protest the government's return to nuclear-friendly policies, over the weekend hundreds gathered outside the gates of the U.S. Strategic Command center, better known as Stratcom, where Thursday's meeting will take place. Four survivors from the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in attendance. Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich addressed the crowd. And a handful of attendees attempted to conduct citizens weapons inspections at Stratcom. Among those citizen weapons inspectors was Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group. His organization revealed earlier this year that the government was planning to hold these secret nuclear talks.
Greg Mello, director of the Los Alamos Study Group which monitors arms labs. He took part in protests in Nebraska and attempted to conduct a citizen's weapons inspection at the United States Strategic Command but was denied entry.
GREG MELLO: Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: Good to have you with us Greg. Tell us more about this meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, at Stratcom.
GREG MELLO: It's Almost unprecedented to bring this many senior decision makers in the executive branch and their contractors together to discuss nuclear policy. On the terms of reference for these meetings are topics like how to frame the discussion in congress. What kind of authority do we need to begin small production runs of special weapons. Is the production complex agile enough to make these special weapons at short notice. What kind of nuclear testing do we need. And of course what are the weapons we want that will be as they put it most likely to be used. It is really a breathtaking agenda and yesterday I learned that those congressional staff members, committee staff members who want to just come and observe are being barred from the meeting. So we have a meeting which is pretty much stacked with contractors and it would be inaccurate not to say just idealogues and congressional oversight is being stiffed at the door.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you say about Pentagon saying it wants to develop a class of relatively small nuclear weapons, what does that mean?
GREG MELLO: It means many things. There are quite a few different candidates for production that will be discussed. We know this because the subject has come up in the 1990's. These plans aren't exactly new, but they have legs in the Bush administration. They didn't have before. So they're going to be high yield weapons discussed. There are going to be earth penetrating weapons. Socalled agent defeat weapons which are optimized to attempt the crazy mission of trying to incinerate biological weapons or chemical weapons. They're going to be enhanced radiation weapons. You remember that neutron bombs, there may even be some microwave weapon ideas brought to the table. We don't know all the kinds of weapons. But we know that they will run the gamut.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Keith Paine?
GREG MELLO: Keith Paine wrote an article in 1980, I think the title was, why not victory. There he suggested that the United States might be able to absorb losses of 20 million dead in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.
Which as you may remember is not too different than what Buck Turgidson said in "Dr. Strangelove" he has been very active in think tank circles that are close to the Bush administration. The national institute for public policy(NIP), I think he is or was the president, I haven't kept up whether he is in government, in Mr. Rumsfeld's shop at this moment or gone back to NIP. In any case our best information is he is going to be there. Whether that's true or not, it's not too important because his coauthors of that 1980 article in are the Bush administration as well. People that were on the margins at one time are now very central in policy making .
AMY GOODMAN: So, what are your plans for this week, how did you discover that this meeting was taking place at Stratcom.
GREG MELLO: a document kind of fell into our hands. We can't take a lot of credit for it wasn't one of the documents that you struggle for a year to get. It just kind of fell out of the sky. We would like to know who exactly is going to be there. We'd like to know what exactly is the agenda. We'd like to know what are the socalled prereads, the material circulated to the committee members and what will be the outcome of this meeting and how will it be applied in the decision-making process. All of this is hard to pry out and I'm afraid that one of the things that makes it more difficult is that the democratic opposition to these nuclear weapons policies is not firm enough. People are most of the democrats are a little passive about this. Perhaps because they don't understand how dynamic this process is. And how many of the cards in the deck already are in the hands of those who would proceed with your testing, with development of these weapons.
AMY GOODMAN: Greg Mello, head of the Los Alamos group. Part of the protesting outside the Stratcom this week in Omaha, Nebraska, where major meeting that could launch a new generation of nuclear weapons is taking place, the United States strategic command which is host of this meeting controls the nation's deployed nuclear arms and writes the war plans for their use.