|"Forget the Rest" blog|
For immediate release Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Wednesday 9/28/16, 1:00 pm, State Capitol Rotunda, Santa Fe
Sec Def Carter, Senators Udall and Heinrich will be present in effigy (as piñatas) to answer questions from citizens and scholars
Contact: Greg Mello, 505-265-1200 (office), 505-265-1200
Albuquerque – Tomorrow’s press conference has been scheduled in honor of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's visit to the state – to Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
The timing of this visit concerns us (just before a presidential election, with the leading Democratic Party candidate having expressed far more hawkish views – on Syria for example – than the sitting president), as does its content (rallying the military-industrial-congressional complex here, and yesterday in Minot ND, in favor of a vast program of nuclear weapons modernization).
The two energy laboratories are not DoD facilities; Carter has no managerial role at them.
Modernizing and deploying nuclear weapons is expected to cost one trillion dollars over the next 30 years, barring cost overruns. Cost estimates for replacing Air Force silo-based intercontinental missiles have recently jumped from $62 billion (B) to at least $85 B. (The DoD high-end estimate for these missiles is apparently too large to release even to Congress.) Large cost overruns are expected in other programs, including LANL’s expanding plutonium warhead core factory complex, which has been opposed by this organization with some success.
We are particularly concerned that DoD, or a web of influence centered in and incorporating DoD, has become more powerful than the president at this time and is acting independently, as President Eisenhower warned. Ash Carter embodies and symbolizes this power.
In our experience, U.S. nuclear weapons officials have become progressive more inaccessible – to meetings and to sweet reason, both – in this administration. The same is true of New Mexico’s senators, with whom it is virtually impossible to engage at all in person, or even to engage via their own staff on important issues. On nuclear and laboratory issues, our senators depend on the laboratories, and support their programs almost without question.
Therefore this press conference will be a bit "different," in that the above three individuals will be represented by piñatas or doppelgängers if you prefer. We’ve been trying for more than a month to meet with the senators or their staff. We have run out of time, on a number of major issues. Therefore at this press conference we will try to respond on their behalf as best we can, carrying both sides of the dialogue.
The press conference will be videotaped and we are trying to arrange to live-stream it to better enable phone-in questions (which we will screen).
Other Study Group events this week:
 The military, we believe, has recently acted independently and against presidential authority in Syria, in bad-faith attacks against a besieged Syrian Army position protecting a large city, apparently in direct support of ISIS. All available data suggest these attacks were intentional. A DoD spokesperson had already openly stated DoD’s lack of support for the ceasefire laboriously negotiated between the U.S. and Russia by secretaries Lavrov and Kerry, with Obama’s blessing. Former British diplomat and intelligence official Alistair Crooke appears to be correct: “President Obama’s authority is no more – if it runs against the settled opinion of the Pentagon, the CIA, the New York Times, the Washington Post and of the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate” (“New Cold War Spins Out of Control,” Consortium News, 9/26/16). Russia has openly asked, in an emergency meeting of United Nations Security Council which Russia requested, exactly who is in charge in the United States (video in English), and whether the U.S. government has enough internal coherence and stability to be a negotiating partner.