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Parity in Democracies in the Atomic Age

By       Message Andrew Kishner       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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The survival of a democracy depends on the ability of the governed and the governing to check up on each other. If one is up to no good, the other is expected to seek -- and it usually, eventually, finds -- implicating evidence to hold the guilty parties or agencies responsible. This is a more difficult task when it concerns atomic activities, which historically have been the realm of military factions of governments, and are topics oft mired in secrecy. 

Since the dawn of the atomic age, wartime (or war-related) secrecy has been used as justification for denying oversight of government applications of fission - from making bombs to operating bomb-material breeding reactors.

Although in the 1990s the veil of secrecy surrounding 1940s, 1950s and 1960s Cold War nuclear activities in the U.S. lifted slightly and revealed covered-up nuclear crimes worthy of a Nuremberg-style Doctors' Trial, the governed remain shockingly submissive to the slow pace of clumsy environmental monitoring and remediation efforts and biomedical study of the impacts of "legacy" radioactive pollution that is constantly filtering through and becoming re-released into the biosphere -- and supplemented by atomic energy and weapons installations.

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This is where we find ourselves at this moment in time -- the role of monitoring and studying the environmental radiation effects from the Fukushima releases is in government hands and the governed are not clamoring for parity (in two-way oversight) but instead are complaining. Look around and no one is doing anything but that. As would be expected, some - and perhaps the most important parts -- of the government's environmental monitoring radiation data (and collection and analytical methods) relating to Fukushima since March are classified, withheld or confusingly presented. These quasi-secret datasets will undoubtedly join the collections of Cold War era data and maps about past radiation events that are still state-secrets.

It is the duty of the citizen to prevent the government from hoarding power. Philosophers have long noted the importance of checks and balances involving each participant from President to mill worker -- simply put: absolute power corrupts absolutely. And there is no question in my mind that governments have committed heinous nuclear crimes in the past because of the power-grab by governments during the Cold War -- tragically, and especially troubling to our present circumstance, these human rights abuses (the nonconsensual radio-biological assault of the masses during the Cold War) are still not fully understood nor appreciated by the governed.

The governed still have insufficient oversight of nuclear activities of the governing and sharply remain unconvinced that the vestigial veil of secrecy relating to governing nuclear activities is unbeneficial to national security. This veil of secrecy is unbeneficial, and has created a less secure world and destroyed the health of one or more nations -- the premature deaths (a phrase that can also mean murder) of millions of Earthlings were brought about by the invisible hand of weapons testing radioactive fallout. The dividends of Cold War fallout will be paid for generations, as will the global Fukushima releases.

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It may very well be too late to "work within the system" to reform government in order to rectify the power imbalance when it comes to atomic activities. My contention is that citizen-based radiation monitoring and scientific efforts are the necessary means to instating a watch-dogging function, which has been an absent feature of U.S. nuclear activities since the beginning of the atomic age in the early 1940s. We should be working towards such large-scale citizen projects and endeavors that would increase oversight and parity on atomic matters.


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Andrew Kishner is author of nuclear non-fiction books dealing with the EPA's rigged monitoring of the Fukushima disaster and atomic veteran claims of human experimentation during 1950's A-bomb tests.

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