Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nukes for a Profit

Nukes for a Profit

Privatizing the Apocalypse


Started as the super-secret "Project Y" in 1943, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has long been the keystone institution of the American nuclear-weapons producing complex. It was the birthplace of Fat Man and Little Boy, the two nuclear bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Last year, the University of California, which has managed the lab for the Department of Energy since its inception, decided to put Los Alamos on the auction block. In December 2005, construction giant Bechtel won a $553 million yearly management contract to run the sprawling complex, which employs more than 13,000 people and has an estimated $2.2 billion annual budget.

"Privatization" has been in the news ever since George W. Bush became president. His administration has radically reduced the size of government, turning over to private companies critical governmental functions involving prisons, schools, water, welfare, Medicare, and utilities as well as war-fighting, and is always pushing for more of the same. Outside of Washington, the pitfalls of privatization are on permanent display in Iraq, where companies like Halliburton have reaped billions in contracts. Performing jobs once carried out by members of the military -- from base building and mail delivery to food service -- they have bilked the government while undermining the safety of American forces by providing substandard services and products. Halliburton has been joined by a cottage industry of military-support companies responsible for everything from transportation to interrogation. On the war front, private companies are ubiquitous, increasingly indispensable, and largely unregulated -- a lethal combination.


Full Story

UC put the contract out for bid? Bechtel won (and not a consortium
of UC/Bechtel/BWXT/WashGroup)? There are enough "woppers" in the
very first paragraph of this article to completely turn me off
from reading any further. Counterpunch is worse than even the
hard left-leaning Mother Jones News when it comes to getting the
facts straight.
I was not into reading this either. But if you're at all concerned about the Military Industrial Complex--like Eisenhower (the ultimate insider) was--I strongly recommend seeing the film "Why We Fight" (at CCA in Santa Fe). Only after watching that did I feel I understood why we really went into Iraq. And it did make me question the morality of working the LANS consortium.
Well, good2, maybe it was just dumb luck on the author's part, but she actually pretty much got it right. In a very real way UC did put the contract up for bid, by way of their repeated screw-ups; in particular that last screw-up: Nanos.

Likewise, even though a consortium "won" the contract, we all know that it is Bechtel who will be running LANL.
This is all very interesting, and most of it (author's mistakes notwithstanding) is probably true. But so what? Surely nobody believes that as a result of this article being written, "they" are suddenly going to realize that privatization of a national laboratory is a bad idea and cause everything to revert back to the way it was?

Get real. Those who were responsible for selecting Bechtel to run LANL are several Congressmen, DOE, NNSA and Bechtel. And you can believe that they are not going to change their minds.
This is one of the most incompetent, biased, opinion pieces I've read in recent history. Why on earth put it in the blog, when so much of it is obviously not true and the article is so incredibly biased? This just adds to the reasons why people have given up reading the blog as a source of truth. Perhaps people are reading it for entertainment?

In case you haven't noticed: I put all news about LANL on the blog. Even the incredibly biased articles from the LANL NewsBulletin.

If you don't like it, don't read it.

I can't tell what it is about until I begin reading it. Such articles that have such bias aren't useful and simply contribute to the noise which is already pretty high on the blog. I actually don't think this article is in the league of News Bulletin articles which are mostly simply a description of various activities. (They may be missing information, but they normally aren't flat out wrong). This article has so little right that it sits there right with the rags at the checkout counter at the supermarket. It contributes nothing but venom and hate and flat-out obvious lies.
Did you see the article in the Enquirer that claims that Nanos is actually an alien from Uranus? I guess that would make him a rear Admiral instead of a Vice Admiral.
Do they have an on-line edition?

I did a little research, and found the following about the author:

Frida Berrigan is a Senior Research Associate at the Arms Trade Resource Center of the World Policy Institute in New York ( ATRC is a member of the International Action Network Against Small Arms ( She is also a member of the National Committee of the War Resisters League ( She is the niece of poet-priest-Plowshares activist Daniel Berrigan and the daughter of Plowshares activists Elizabeth McAlister and Phil Berrigan, who co-founded the Jonah House Community in Baltimore (

You may not agree with her views, but it not fair to suggest that people read her material for entertainment.

David's piteous whining about the "obviously not true," "incredibly biased" article is supported by the following snippets directly from the article:

* "Last year, the University of California, which has managed the lab for the Department of Energy since its inception, decided to put Los Alamos on the auction block."
--Obviously, UC is incapable of hoisting anything as montrously huge as LANL onto any kind of chopping block. Ninety-five-pound weaklings whine until someone with some muscle (like Bechtel) help them out.

* "...the high priests of nuclear physics are free to explore the outer realms of their craft"
--The so-called "high priests" are not at all "free." Just ask a bomb designer how "free" s/he feels, priest or priestess (i.e., stockpile steward or stockpile stewardess).

* "The new dress code will be suits and ties, not lab coats and safety glasses."
--Sorry, in T-Division, you won't see either suits/ties or lab coats/safety glasses. The latter identifies a lab tech nerd who's lost in the bowels of the T-Division building, or else wandering about in one of the Ivory Trailers; the former signals the approach of an FBI agent.

* "Many say strong corporate oversight will correct a legacy of embarrassing missteps at Los Alamos."
--The so-called "Many" include the crack Fox-News media and their ilk, who never, ever make any attemp at factual corrections of the prevailing prejudices of our Republican-dominated Congress and the Bush Administration--another crack outfit, whose love of science is so well known, and whose competence is on daily display...OK, so the Media is just a little slack there, too.

* "Remember, the Terrorists are the Competition, Lockheed Martin is the Enemy"
--No, no, no. Bechtel and LockMart are part of The Brotherhood. Friendly competition among the military-industrial elite. "Live to compete another day," is their motto.

These are the only really egregious errors in this opinion piece. Otherwise, it's obviously flat-out fair and balanced.

Relax, Dave. Get a grip. The "venom and hate" you find there is not directed at good science done at the Lab.

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