Monday, August 21, 2006


The new fad of making secrets of old and basic information in the public domain on America's Cold War nuclear arsenal is startling but perhaps not surprising. The Bush administration and the Pentagon -- in penchants for secrecy -- have withdrawn, or attempted to withdraw, much legitimate information from the public record. This is an impossible task, particularly with respect to old numbers from the nuclear arsenal, and the foolish and annoying nature of this work doesn't seem to have occurred to our leaders.

One can view it as the cost of gross ignorance in positions of power and leadership.

" . . . The Pentagon is now trying to keep secret numbers of strategic weapons that have never been classified before," said one person to the Washington Post, the paper that first reported the story.

"It's yet another example of silly secrecy," said Thomas Blanton, the archive's director, to the Post.

A government fugleman, Bryan Wilkes, "spokesman for the National Nuclear Security," said just the opposite. White was black.

"There's no question that current classified nuclear weapons data was out there that we had to take back . . . And in today's environment, where there is a great deal of concern about rogue nations or terrorist groups getting access to nuclear weapons, this makes a lot of sense."

"The report comes at a time when the Bush administration's penchant for government secrecy has troubled researchers and bred controversy over agency efforts to withhold even seemingly innocuous information," wrote the Post.

As example of material being classified, or redacted, came from an old chart presented by Melvin Laird to the House Armed Services Committtee in 1971. The chart showed "that the United States had 30 strategic bomber squadrons, 54 Titan intercontinental ballistic missiles and 1,000 Minuteman missiles." These numbers have been blacked out in a copy of the chart viewed in January, according to the newspaper.

Dick Destiny blog, with GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow official T-shirt in place, went to its bookshelf to consult "The History of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal," by James Norris Gibson, published by Brompton in 1989.

On page 14, under "Number of [Titan] missiles deployed: 54 . . . " With 163 constructed and 67 flown as of 1989.

On page 16, in the book's entry on the Minuteman missile program: Minuteman 1A -- 150 deployed, "none in service after 1969"; Minuteman 1B -- 650 total deployed, "none in service after 1974"; Minuteman II -- 500 deployed, "450 in service as of 1986." By reading the text, one can determine about 1,000 Minutemen 1B and II missiles were deployed in 1971.

The book, full of color pictures and figures, is for sale on Amazon. Using the upside down logic quoted in the Post piece, the information in it should set the hair on fire of the dangerous ninniesnational security mandarins, working under the Bush administration.

Before the normalization of this flavor of cracked thinking, it was accepted that publishing the numbers of weapons in the U.S. arsenal was useful in demonstrating the maintenance of deterrence. And productive, ahem, in instilling confidence in adherence to strategic arms limitations treaties.

One also assumes the game of nuclear confrontation, Ultimatum, made by Yaquinto in 1975 and much admired by this blog, also contains material that ought to be classified.

One would also not be surprised to see a withdrawal of common information on warhead yields, missile ranges and the number and types of platforms nuclear bombs are delivered by.


Blogger Dick Durata said...

Everything about nuclear has to be classified, or the terrorists will win.
Cheers, Dick!

7:13 PM  

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