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H Bomb Free to a Good Home

2004-09-17

Category: politics

For those who haven't been paying attention, in 1958 the United States Air Force misplaced a Hydrogen Bomb. That a particular kind of nuclear weapon that is quite a bit meaner than the ones we dropped on Japan in World War II. After a bit of a search, the bomb was called permanently lost and they stopped looking. Well, now a retired old dude has found the blasted thing. (It's not actually detonated. I used "blasted" as a variation on "accursed".)

The particular retired old dude in this case is a retired Air Force Colonel. It's not just some ancient grandpa in Bermuda shorts and long black socks stumbling across an H-Bomb on the beach. (That's a funny picture though: "Eh, what's this? Kids leaving their big chunks of metal around?when I was a kid we never left metal around. We needed it for the war effort." Whacks bomb with cane?) Colonel Duke was specifically looking for the bomb and he's done a fine job of finding it.

Now that the Colonel has found it (where the pilot said he dropped it) the question becomes one of what to do next. The thing has been in the ocean, rotting away, for decades. There is radioactive material in the bomb (radiation is what led Colonel Duke to the place.) Supposedly the bomb is not set up to detonate. Detonation would be bad, at least for the people in Georgia. "Whew, we survived another hurricane. Hey, what's that bright flash?"

The loss of the bomb doesn't surprise me at all. The fact that it lay quietly for all these years isn't a problem either. I'm actually grateful to Colonel Duke for spending his retired years trying to find this potential hazard and getting it dealt with. I am very annoyed, however, with the media giving the location of the bomb before it has been removed.

"Hey terrorists! If you would like to send some divers to an unsecured area to collect the remains of a Hydrogen Bomb, come on down to sunny Tybee Island. Book your passage today! While you're here, don't forget to ask the Chinese how to get access to our current nuclear secrets."

It always scares me a little when the press belief that "the people have the right to know" gets in the way of "the people have the right to have some things kept under wraps till it's safe". Like telling troop movements on television or repeating that our intelligence community will be failing for the next five years, some things need to be kept quiet to ensure security. Telling state secrets used to be called treason and was punishable by death.

Just a quick aside, on the matter of announcing the weakness of our intelligence community, I'm hoping that's all a ruse. If I'm fighting terrorists and they are worried about my spies more than anything else I have (after all, military can shoot everybody in the hopes of hitting a terrorist, or so I'm told) I might want to say that my spies are worthless. Top-level bad guys probably won't fall for it, but some low-level bad guys may. "We should go blow some thing up." "What about the U.S. spies? If they are listening, we'll have to be extra careful." " Didn't you hear? The U.S. intelligence community won't be effective for another five years. We can just stroll about openly and they can't do anything about it." (Guys stroll out of their hiding place cheerfully singing, "We're terrorists and we're going to blow something up".)


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