PBS canceled scheduled broadcasts without public explanation
In 2013, PBS World Channel scheduled "Nuclear Savage" for four showings on May 28 and 29 -- and PBS executive Tom Davison emailed Horowitz in advance, saying "Congratulations on this airing." When the airing failed to take place, without explanation from PBS, Horowitz was unable to get a straight answer from Davison, Ferrer, or anyone else in the public broadcasting food chain, although PIC executive Amber McClure wrote with Orwellian deceit: "Your program has not been declined by PBS."
Outright rejection by PBS is required by Horowitz's contract in order for him to regain independent control of his film. In December 2013, in his original letter to the editor of the Santa Fe Reporter , Horowitz summed up his experience to date this way:
"PBS "World Channel' executives accepted, scheduled and advertised the show nationally, only to reverse their decision and cancel the show at the last minute. The show was originally accepted and then later rejected by two different branches of PBS, on three different occasions. PBS executives promised to deliver to me, a list of the precise points in the film that they felt represented "bias,' or questions of "fact,' and I promised to work with them to fix any problems. But PBS has still never delivered any specifics whatsoever of their complaints about the film, a film by the way that they have already completely reworked with their own editors."
The project has also had support from private foundations, including the Kindle Project , where: "We support whistleblowers and rabble-rousers. We give grants to peacemakers and seed savers. We make awards to artists and activists. We support people and projects working towards solutions and alternatives to systems in transition. We seek out the strange, the bizarre, the unpolished, the less likely to receive funding. We fund individuals and initiatives that may seem risky or radical to mainstream funding sources"."
Public information is not always well known by the public
The unsigned " Notes on Nuclear Savage : The Islands of Secret Project 4.1" on the Kindle Project web site from April 2012 talks about the ways the film was succeeding, despite unofficial quasi-government censorship and beyond "the glamorous festival circuit":
"Heartbreaking is the most poignant word that could be used to describe this film, and in my conversations with Adam this word has been uttered more than once. I've often wondered how he has the stamina for this subject matter; the stamina to expose himself to the worst kinds of atrocities that humans inflict on one another. The people of the Marshall Islands have faced similar catastrophic fates as the victims who underwent Nazi medical tests during WWII. Adam was there to tell the world about it. These days, his perseverance comes from the success of the film -- not just from the attention it's getting from the international circuit, but from what's happening in the Islands themselves."
What was happening in the islands was that "Nuclear Savage" was being shown again and again on local and national television channels. It was shown at the Pacific Island conference of Presidents. People were copying and bootlegging the film across the region, with bootleg copies sometimes turning up on television. And Marshallese activists were using the film to resist U.S. government efforts to re-re-settle some populations back to their home islands that were still dangerously radioactive.
"As of now, no one has moved back," Horowitz told an audience after showing "Nuclear Savage" at the International Uranium Film Festival in Window Rock, Arizona, last December. Despite the American effort to re-re-settle the forced Marshallese refugees on their former home islands, Horowitz said the effort had amounted to "just a bunch of empty houses."
Horowitz has been angry about American treatment of the Marshall Islands for a long time. In late 2013 he told a reporter the U.S. "destroyed an entire country that we were not at war with, that we were at peace with. Not only did they blow up all these islands, but they purposely contaminated all these people as human experiments. It's a very unknown story here."
The story was classified top secret until the 1990s, when the Clinton administration declassified documents related to nuclear testing that including previously unknown information on the Project 4.1 program to use Pacific Islanders as human guinea pigs for assessing the impact of ionizing radiation. Even the official historian of U.C. nuclear testing, Barton Hacker, who tries to minimize the criminality of Project 4.1, ended up writing in 1994 that an "unfortunate choice of terminology may help explain later charges that the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission] had deliberately exposed the Marshallese to observe the effects. Like the American radium dial painters of the 1920s and the Japanese of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the Marshallese of 1954 inadvertently were to provide otherwise unobtainable data on the human consequences of high radiation exposures."
The U.S. was an occupying power, and effectively still is
Europeans "discovered" these Pacific Islands in the 1520s (they were named the Marshall Islands after the British explorer John Marshall). In 1874 they became part of the Spanish East Indies. In 1884 Germany bought them as part of German New Guinea. During World War I, the Japanese occupied the islands and later ruled them under a League of Nations mandate. During World War II, the United States took the islands from the Japanese and has effectively occupied them ever since.
In 1946, the U.S. evacuated the entire population of Bikini Atoll (167 people) and logged the first of 23 atomic weapons explosions that have made what's left of the atoll (part of it was vaporized) a largely uninhabitable radioactive tourist destination [one report says 4-6 "caretakers" live there]. Most of the 167 original residents have died, but their descendants number more than 4,000. A 1975 federal lawsuit (seeking roughly $750 million in compensation promised but not paid by the U.S.) was denied review by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2010, but the effort to make the U.S. provide just compensation continues.
Later in 2010, UNESCO named Bikini a "world heritage site" as a symbol of the "dawn of the nuclear age." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that Bikini is close to the "safe" radiation level of 15 millirems -- but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the "safe" level is really 100 millirems, and the contradiction remains unreconciled.