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A Hundred Holocausts: An Insider’s Window Into U.S. Nuclear Policy

Posted on Sep 10, 2009
AP / Joseph Kaczmarek

Firestorms caused by thermonuclear weapons would be the major cause of fatalities. The radius of firestorm damage would be two to five times the radius destroyed by blast.

By Daniel Ellsberg

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of Daniel Ellsberg’s personal memoir of the nuclear era, “The American Doomsday Machine.” The online book will recount highlights of his six years of research and consulting for the Departments of Defense and State and the White House on issues of nuclear command and control, nuclear war planning and nuclear crises. It further draws on 34 subsequent years of research and activism largely on nuclear policy, which followed the intervening 11 years of his preoccupation with the Vietnam War. Subsequent installments also will appear on Truthdig. The author is a senior fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

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American Planning for a Hundred Holocausts

One day in the spring of 1961, soon after my 30th birthday, I was shown how our world would end. Not the Earth, not—so far as I knew then—all humanity or life, but the destruction of most cities and people in the Northern Hemisphere.

What I was handed, in a White House office, was a single sheet of paper with some numbers and lines on it. It was headed “Top Secret—Sensitive”; under that, “For the President’s Eyes Only.” 

The “Eyes Only” designation meant that, in principle, it was to be seen and read only by the person to whom it was explicitly addressed, in this case the president. In practice this usually meant that it would be seen by one or more secretaries and assistants as well: a handful of people, sometimes somewhat more, instead of the scores to hundreds who would normally see copies of a “Top Secret—Sensitive” document.


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Square, Site wide, Mobile
Later, working in the Pentagon as the special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense, I often found myself reading copies of cables and memos marked “Eyes Only” for someone, though I was not that addressee, nor for that matter was my boss. And already by the time I read this one, as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, it was routine for me to read “Top Secret” documents. But I had never before seen one marked “For the President’s Eyes Only,” and I never did again.

The deputy assistant to the president for national security, my friend and colleague Bob Komer, showed it to me. A cover sheet identified it as the answer to a question President John F. Kennedy had addressed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff a week earlier. Komer showed it to me because I had drafted the question, which Komer had sent in the president’s name. 

The question to the JCS was: “If your plans for general [nuclear] war are carried out as planned, how many people will be killed in the Soviet Union and China?”

Their answer was in the form of a graph (see representation below). The vertical axis was the number of deaths, in millions. The horizontal axis was time, indicated in months. The graph was a straight line, starting at time zero on the horizontal—on the vertical axis, the number of immediate deaths expected within hours of our attack—and slanting upward to a maximum at six months, an arbitrary cutoff for the deaths that would accumulate over time from initial injuries and from fallout radiation.

The lowest number, at the left of the graph, was 275 million deaths. The number at the right-hand side, at six months, was 325 million.


That same morning, with Komer’s approval, I drafted another question to be sent to the Joint Chiefs over the president’s signature, asking for a total breakdown of global deaths from our own attacks, to include not only the whole Sino-Soviet bloc but all other countries that would be affected by fallout. Again their answer was prompt. Komer showed it to me about a week later, this time in the form of a table with explanatory footnotes. 

In sum, 100 million more deaths, roughly, were predicted in East Europe. There might be an additional 100 million from fallout in West Europe, depending on which way the wind blew (a matter, largely, of the season). Regardless of season, still another 100 million deaths, at least, were predicted from fallout in the mostly neutral countries adjacent to the Soviet bloc or China: Finland, Austria, Afghanistan, India, Japan and others. Finland, for example, would be wiped out by fallout from U.S. ground-burst explosions on the Soviet submarine pens at Leningrad. (The total number of “casualties”—injured as well as killed—had not been requested and was not estimated; nor were casualties from any Soviet retaliatory strikes.)

The total death toll as calculated by the Joint Chiefs, from a U.S. first strike aimed primarily at the Soviet Union and China, would be roughly 600 million dead. A hundred Holocausts. 


*  *  *

I remember what I thought when I held the single sheet with the graph on it. I thought, this piece of paper should not exist. It should never have existed. Not in America. Not anywhere, ever. It depicted evil beyond any human project that had ever existed. There should be nothing on Earth, nothing real, that it referred to.

But I knew what it dealt with was all too real. I had seen some of the smaller bombs myself, H-bombs with an explosive yield of 1.1 megatons each—equivalent to 1.1 million tons of high explosive, each bomb half the total explosive power of all the bombs of World War II combined. I saw them slung under single-pilot F-100 fighter-bombers on alert at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, ready to take off on 10 minutes’ notice. On one occasion I had laid my hand on one of these, not yet loaded on a plane. On a cool day, the smooth metallic surface of the bomb was warm from the radiation within: a bodylike warmth.

I was in Okinawa in the fall of 1959 as part of a task force organized by the Office of Naval Research, which was there to study and improve nuclear command and control for the commander in chief of the Pacific Command (CINCPAC), Adm. Harry D. Felt. I was on loan from the RAND Corp., which I had joined as a full-time employee in June 1959 after a previous summer there as a consultant. This particular study took us to every command post in the Pacific that year and the next—from Oahu to Guam, Tokyo, Taiwan and the command ship of the Seventh Fleet—with license from Adm. Felt to “talk to anyone, see anything” in the field of nuclear command and control. 

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By Amrion Amir, June 25, 2010 at 11:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Are you comparing it with Jewish holocaust?

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By kristy, April 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and
an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a
football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very
least you need a beer”

Frank Zappa

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By Night-Gaunt, April 7, 2010 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

Miki you are confused, it is the neutron bomb you speak of, the one that is outlawed. The Hydrogen Bomb needs an A bomb to trigger it and it is dirty very dirty. Places like Bimini an Bikini atolls and Utah attest to the lingering traces of death they leave even today.

Even without it we have DU ammunition, Depleted Uranium which isn’t very depleted at all poisons hundreds of acres and millions of people from Iraq to Serbia and is still in use by certain countries including the USA.

Now we have both sonic based and microwave based human control devices that cause intense pain but without the damage. Some will be used here anytime soon in case the populace gets restive and demands change away from the incipient fascism we have been getting for the past 21 years.

I suspect that when we finally lose what is left of our republic the Afghanis will get a taste of the second most powerful ordinance in the world—-fuel-air bombs. Then the Grave Yard of Empires will itself be killed by a new kind of empire, then it will be rendered as just a huge grave yard itself. But that is only going to happen if the oligarchs here win their battle against democratic-republican gov’t. So far they are winning.

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By devonnielson, April 7, 2010 at 2:52 am Link to this comment
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The united states think that they are the best superpower which consists of nuclear energy to unilaterally manage any kind of assets it requires and the government of any nation that appears in its way of doing this.

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By Lisa Lebowski, February 14, 2010 at 8:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Overarching principle is that secondary effects of violence always exceed primary effects. Persons who employ direct violence may see themselves as successful, however they misunderstand the process. Chickens come home to roost. The “offense” of JFK and the other genuine leaders who’ve been murdered has been to recognize this fact and get in the way of sociopaths who either do not recognize it, or can’t.

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By travailsurinternet, February 5, 2010 at 2:29 am Link to this comment

I would like to Thanks for the informative post. I really appreciate it. I hope that I can get more benefit from Important question.
<a >travail sur internet</a>

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By lisa lebowski, December 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment
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While there are many thoughts - here’s just one: The idea that atomic explosives are weapons is false.

Genuine weapons throughout history - clubs and cannon and so forth all carry with them counter-weapons, means of defense. There is no defense against these essentially simple atomic machines, and, worse, they can be made small (down to roughly 50 pounds or so). They are essentially trivial from a technical perspective. Properly understood, these machine are not weapons, they are suicidal infernal machines.

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By kc, September 24, 2009 at 7:21 am Link to this comment
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...sir! stands up out of his wheelchair I have a plan. Heh. pauses, realizing that he
is standing… Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!
Multiple scenes of exploding bombs, dancing to the tune of “We’ll Meet Again.”


(too bad they cut out the pie fight)

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By Claus-Erik Hamle, September 24, 2009 at 1:36 am Link to this comment
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The US Navy can track and destroy all enemy submarines simultaneously (Robert C. Aldridge: Nuclear Empire, chapter 9). The Trident missile engineer Bob because a disarming and unanswerable first-strike capability is suicidal. Listen to Ellsberg in the interview with Scott Horton on, antiwar radio. See also
The explosion of 100 warheads will cause Nuclear Winter. What are the others for ? How many times can we commit suicide ? But with “only” 100 warheads, a First Strike would be out of the question and that would be very good.

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By Charlie Bell, September 23, 2009 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment
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Amazing! I was born in 1956 and it is hard to believe that even back then we had this capability. We have been very fortunate so far, that since WWII, these things have not been unleashed on humanity. I keep thinking about the Tom Clancy book “The Sum of All Fears”. We have also been blessed that some maniac who really doesn’t care hasn’t gotten a hold of one and made Clancy a prophet!

The History Man

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By ardee, September 17, 2009 at 2:46 am Link to this comment

Sepharad, September 17 at 1:47 am #


re “This world of ours, walking on the roof of hell gazing at flowers”—this sounds very familiar but I can’t place the poet

Old Haiku poem, author anonymous…..

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By Sepharad, September 16, 2009 at 10:47 pm Link to this comment


re “This world of ours, walking on the roof of hell gazing at flowers”—this sounds very familiar but I can’t place the poet. Auden? Rupert Brooke? Surely someone in the belly of the beast, wondering why it’s not general knowledge.

Am a great admirer of G.B. Shaw. (Once chose him and his work as the subject of a first-year English Comp. term paper when, half-way through, one of the grad students told me that my professor was a major Shavian scholar and suggested it would be prudent to select another writer. I didn’t; figured that even if he didn’t like it his criticisms alone might make it unnecessary to read more lit-crit books on the man.) I think he was a little harsh saying that newspapers couldn’t distinguish between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization—maybe because he was an ardent Fenian living in the oppressor England?

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By prosefights, September 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

SEPTEMBER 15, 2009 Bret Stephens

Events are fast pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, probably by next spring.

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By Jean Gerard, September 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Folktruther is on the right page.  People are afraid to talk about the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, either intentional or accidental.  Unfortunately for all of us, the glorified American self-image militates against Americans facing any unpleasant truth and learning more about it.  There are already international agreements to limit and decrease nuclear weapons, and there could be more. Promoting that agenda would help, and requires that our people support the U.S. taking the initiative.  Write your Senators and Representatives. Join and support anti-nuclear organizations (research online). Talk to your friends.  Form local branch organizations.  Study.  Do something constructive. Hopelessness is debilitating.

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By michael mayo, September 15, 2009 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ellsberg, as usual, does us a great public service by writing what he knows and was involved in. many thanks.

may i quote from part of my poem The Day After writeen in 1983-84

To what shall I compare the earth the day after nuclear exchange?
Shall I begin by counting the warheads as grains of sand, soon enough to fill all the beaches of cape cod?
Shall I begin by numbering the days to Armageddon and start counting backwards until I fall asleep?
Shall I begin by saying that bomb now wears the disguise of terrorist mailman, has all our addresses in his plutonium backpocket?
Shall I say that unlike human being bomb has never wanted to be alone, has gathered unto himself all the resources of Europe America and the Soviet Union?
Shall I say bomb has no need of human fixtures the waterfaucet the incandescent bulb the doorlatch, that he comes and goes as he pleases among the heads of state?
Shall I say that it was bomb thought up the appropriations poured the cement wired the electric circuits, that it is bomb repairs the B-52 runways of nuclear oblivion?
Shall I say that bomb has been done without sexual relations, is fruitful and multiplies upon the face of the earth and is rising even now into the glory of the sky?
Shall I say then that bomb is god greater than Zeus Caesar Allah and Jehovah rolled into one, exacts his tribute into the hundreds of billions of dollars?
Shall I say bomb sits content in judgment at electromagnetic vanishing point of history, with a wink of his cosmic eye wishes us all good luck?
Shall I say bomb is eleventh and final plague upon the house of humankind?  Woe!  Woe unto them who would step into his way!
One trident submarine has more explosive power than all armies in warfare history.
What plebiscite commissioned monstrosity?
What ivy league graduate signed his name to requisition form of megadeath?
Who broke champagne bottle against hull of apocalypse sea serpent?
What annapolis crackpot pandered congressional seal of approval?
What will good housekeeping have to say about the mess?
What crime great enough in the making to stir conscience of nation?
Who woke up in the middle of the night with this bright idea I want to know!
Shall I go on and say there is intelligent life in the universe that knows nothing of these plans and lives in peace O where are you now?
Shall I issue my appeal for help in some as yet unknown galactic tongue?
Shall I say they might be able to teach an old and dying species a new trick or two?
What odds, Jimmy the Greek?
Which roulette table, Las Vegas?
How to get from here to there?
Will secret service transport presidential entourage the day after by rickshaw?
Will soviet politburo have to walk to work?
How many tibetans on their way to marketplace when the big one rock ‘n rolls the himalayas?
Will washington burn down the house to roast its russian bear?.....

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By NYCartist, September 14, 2009 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

Sepharad, thank you.  Small world dept.:I was working pt time for LCDC in NOLA, in the mid60s as I began my art career.  (Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee, on Dryades St. across from the Black WYCA.
I did research, art charts for court and “general dogsbody” work. I leaned towards law and teaching history as a student, but the “art” drive was strongest, and I made the break with teaching for art. I was “helped” by the strong bias against women teaching at the college level, when I was a grad student, as well as bias in law firms.
Am still fond of lawyers.)

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By thebeerdoctor, September 14, 2009 at 2:39 am Link to this comment

All of this historical archival material concerning the premeditated murder of humanity, seems like a relic from the cold war era, but is it?

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By Ouroborus, September 13, 2009 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment

The sheer arrogance of the leaders of world’s nuclear
powers is rotten enough; but further, they presume to
take on the role of the gods. The absurdity of this
is that they lack the wisdom and the humor of the
gods. They have been consumed by the game they
invented and now even it’s out of their control, and
ultimately, they become victims along with ourselves
of their very own game. MAD (mutually assured
destruction) is the culmination of our nurturing of
sophist thought and couldn’t have been more
appropriately named. Fortunately these megalomaniacs
can only destroy civilizations and not the earth
itself; at least not yet.

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By Folktruther, September 13, 2009 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

The Amerircan people, especially the Educated, do not want to know the simple truth about the US power system.  It is disguised by the Patriotic bullshit in the learned and mass media and other truth organs.  I am using the simple concept of ‘bullshit’ here in a philosophical sense, following the learned droppings of H. G. Frankfort in his trenchant philosophical treatise ON BULLSHIT.

The American tradition is a homicidal tradition.  It was founded on the homicide of the original Amerians, the Indians, and continued in the homicidal slavery of the Africans.  The Founding Fathers were a homicidal ruling class, governing a people who all had guns to hunt and kill game and Indians and each other.

The US Revolution was a business decision taking by the ruling class to disconnect from England.  the 1812 war was an attempt to appropriate Canada.  But of course schoolbook history is largely an exercise in public relations and none of these obvious truths are not only not emphasized, they are excluded from the mainstream truth, and thus from the conscious thought of Americans.

the point is that the major danger of nuclear war in the world comes from the US power system.  It is saddles with an obsolete economic and political system and so tries to maintain its power by war and police violence.  It’s threat of invasion under the War on Terrorism causes the spread of nuclear weapons among small nations to fend it off, or to fend off Israel, which the US uses as a threat. Not that it isn’t a threat on its own, as Seymour Hirsh outlined in THE SAMSON OPTION.

The US is the major danger of nuclear war in the world, and homicide of hundreds of millions of people.  This threat of war is called Defense in the US, or Security.  If the American people want to reduce this threat, the population must oppose its own powere system.  Americans are afriad to do so which contributes to the main problem.  Since we are afraid to talk about it, we are afraid to think about it.  And unless we think about the dirty truth, we can’t mobilize to stop it.

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By Ouroborus, September 13, 2009 at 7:26 am Link to this comment

PSmith, September 12 at 12:16 am #

Thanks for the link; excellent! And yes, the 1st 15
minutes was boring but the rest was superb, thanks.

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By ardee, September 13, 2009 at 5:12 am Link to this comment

Couldnt verify that particular Zappa quote, but:

The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.
  Frank Zappa
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
  Frank Zappa

I’ll give you a simple formula for straightening out the problems of the United States. First, you tax the churches. You take the tax off of capital gains and the tax off of savings. You decriminalize all drugs and tax them same way as you do alcohol. You decriminalize prostitution. You make gambling legal. That will put the budget back on the road to recovery, and you’ll have plenty of tax revenue coming in for all of your social programs, and to run the army.
  Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993), Interview with this submitter, New York City, 5/08/1980

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By PatrickHenry, September 12, 2009 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer”

Frank Zappa

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By ardee, September 12, 2009 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

The Cold War was an absurd concept to begin with. It was, in fact, a contest between two major Capitalist forces vying to see which would reap the most profit. A contest to win market share if you will.

From the decades of this stupidity to the decades of the stupidity called a “war on terror” leaves in place the profit for the military industrial complex.

Now it seems that, after the short hiatus caused by the disappearance of the USSR the “cold war” is once again ramping up with Russia, again a fight to control market share.

It doesnt help that the people of this world, including our own nation and Russia as well, are in the dark as to motive and method.

The so-called “free press is , in large part, responsible for this, I offer:

“Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.” GB Shaw

“This world of ours,
walking on the roof of hell,
gazing at flowers”

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By Sepharad, September 11, 2009 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment

NYCartist, appreciate all your posts on this topic. If I remember correctly, LBJ became quite sarcastic when someone on the Joint Chiefs suggested a “tactical” nuclear weapon. The idea resurfaced to a friendlier reception under Nixon. And the mind boggles at the JCs under Kennedy who seem to have been actually gaming nuclear attack results on China and the U.S.S.R.

I do remember the Pentagon Papers issue, and helped write an amicus brief on behalf of the NYTimes after they published it (as sr. researcher at the Freedom of Informationn Center).

And I share your feeling that if there ever would be a nuclear exchange involving this country I’d just as soon that me and mine would be at Ground Zero.

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By JonesHenry, September 11, 2009 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is all true, but Russia and China today would take atleast 100-million Americans with them! Out of 300-million that is not really “that much” But Americas “natural population” is around 200-million. The rest are immigrants arrived ever since the great 1965 immigration, legal or illegal.

Chinas next generation nukes already in use can reach anywhere on US soil. I doubt the US has the actual ability to destroy all Chinese nuke subs in time. Close to any possible “conflict” China would just shoot down the US navy, if it was operating off there coast. Unlike the Japs in Pearl Harbour, they will have there coastal artillerty backing them up! Both Russia and China have a mobile deterrent! Against that Americas current overhyped “missile defence” is just a wet pipedream! 100-million Americans dead will mean eternal chaos! The US and western world will NEVER recover from that!  But then again, the will end both globalism and capitalism! The “overpopulation problem” will also be solved as well. Global death toll will be around 1-3 billion. Should slow down the “overpopuation problem” atleast a little bit;=))

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By Sepharad, September 11, 2009 at 11:24 pm Link to this comment

NightGaunt, the Holocaust was actually much higher than 11 or 12 million when you add in the Russians, who lost 20 million people (see “Ivan’s War”). I’ve never seen it as an exclusively Jewish tragedy. But some of us Jews took—take—it so seriously because it killed one-third of the world’s Jews. There aren’t that many of us. A camp full of Russian POWs, by the way, were the first human beings exterminated with cyclon B; the Nazi techs were just trying to remove the bugs from the system and the Russian POWs were handy, would stop trying to escape, and would not live to fight another day. Oh—the Russians were the first to liberate a killing camp, Majdenek, and took a lot of photos which were sent to FDR and Churchill, who found them completely unbelievable, and dismissed them as a Russian fake.

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By Mark Goldes, September 11, 2009 at 10:30 pm Link to this comment
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Ironically, Stan Ovshinsky was ignored in the U.S. when he suggested amorphous silicon was an important discovery. It was the Japanese who gave him recognition.

I have been a guest in his home. His first hire was a member of our Board until his passing. On several visits to his labs I witnessed the early development of the Nickel Metal Hydride batteries.

Our new technologies are understandably met with skepticism. However, as they reach the market in practical applications, they will assist in meeting the energy challenge in ways that will be far less expensive than nuclear power.

They also preclude developing nuclear weapons under the guise of power plants.

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By bachu, September 11, 2009 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment
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There is nothing to worry about for now. When you see congressmen, senators and their families being evacuated to underground bunkers in west virgina,  that is the time to flee and take cover.

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By Jean Gerard, September 11, 2009 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So where, where, where are the comments from people saying: “I will do this, this and this to help prevent nuclear war?  I have joined this organization.  I have sent a contribution to that organization.  I have written a letter to my local newspaper editor.  I have held an educational meeting at my house.  I will promise to educate my family members about what can be done to prevent nuclear war. I will ask my co-workers, my family, my church members to sign a letter to the President in favor of making agreements to prevent nuclear war.”
It’s the least we can do, and every effort is a step in the right direction.  To do nothing but moan and criticize is useless.

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By Claus-Erik Hamle, September 11, 2009 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

According to former Trident missile engineer Bob Pentagon aims to achieve a disarming and unanswerable first-strike capability.And according to Bob Aldridge the US Navy can track and destroy all enemy submarines. Minuteman-3 and Trident-2 D5 linked to NAVSTAR obtain a CEP of 30-40 metres, enough to destroy any hard target. Please see the article by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press, “The Rise of US Nuclear Primacy” in the 2006 March/April issue of Foreign Affairs. A First-Strike Capability won´t be complete without the missiles in Poland to shoot down any surviving Russian missiles. Even if it´s only for blackmail, the Russians may have no choice but implementing Launch On Warning. Bob Aldridge resigned because a disarming and unanswerable first-strike capability is suicidal.

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By Mark Goldes, September 11, 2009 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment
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The love affair with the automobile leads to surprising alternatives. Revolutionary new technology will be able to turn parked cars into power plants. These breakthrough systems will be in mass production relatively soon.

They include magnetic generators - sometime soon a plug-in hybrid will no longer need to plug-in. In mass production, solid-state generators of this variety will be able to replace batteries, making possible electric cars that never require a recharge.

Hybrid engines will run on fractional Hydrogen. This makes possible the use of water as fuel. A barrel of water becomes the equivalent of 200 barrels of oil. Engines that run on fractional Hydrogen are anticipated to require perhaps one gallon of water for each 1,000 miles of driving.

Vehicles are likely to be able to pay for themselves over a reasonable period of time, based on the wireless sale of electricity to local utilities.

All of this will seem impossible to anyone with a background in science or engineering. However, breakthrough technologies have begun being validated by independent laboratories.

Recently, Rowan University reproduced fractional Hydrogen experiments that produced heat - with no other reasonable explanation. National laboratories, as well as better known universities, can readily repeat the experiments.

See the article: 4 Steps to Revive the Auto Industry and the Economy at for an overview leading to a new perspective regarding energy.

As development of these revolutionary breakthroughs reach mass production, the need for fossil fuels and nuclear power plants can begin to be left behind.

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By NYCartist, September 11, 2009 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

@PSmith, Thanks. Help always appreciated.

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By NYCartist, September 11, 2009 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

(Posting this before I read the newer comments, after reading the excerpt/article.)
My reaction was so strong, that having read it in print format (less peripheral visual distraction), I accidentally deleted myself from the internet.

As a woman, on this day, nearing 70, I have some initial thoughts: Memory - said as an adult, if there’s going to be a nuclear attack on NYC, I want to be near the Empire State Building (where I actually do ((st))roll, as my illness permits getting out infrequently with spouse pushing my wheelchair), the reputed “ground zero” (before the WTC got the name).  I want to miss the aftermath.

  Reading the piece, right from the top, as a woman, (who knows something about the “nuclear” problem), I kept thinking how it was kind of a report of the mechanical, the war machines and exercises which I do not relate to, in any way.
As a teacher in my early 20s, I marched in 1961, taking the day off from work, not as a sick day, saying, “fire me, if you must” to get JFK to sign the nuclear testing ban.  A big march of mostly women,in Manhattan.  I was one of the young teachers who refused to take part, telling our junior high school students to go into the hall, and cover their heads at the alarm, for “safety”.  We refused to do it, citywide resistance of teachers because it was stupid, it would not protect anyone.
The NYC Bd. of Education discontinued the drills because of teacher protest.  And JFK signed the ban.
So, it is possible to have some small positive results through resistance.

  My other thought was, while reading this piece, as
Ellsberg, for whom I have HUGE respect, seemed to be
calling on the public to do something to stop the government from using nuclear weapons in the future.
I’m not so sure we can.  I do recall hearing that
Nixon didn’t use nuclear weapons because of the mass protests against the Vietnam War that were going on.
Is it true?

  I also remember that when India and Pakistan were near one of their armed conflicts recently, a showdown time, people in one of the countries, who had no idea of what happens after nuclear bombs are used, were “for” using them on the “enemy”.  So, people need to know, especially the young, what happens to people who are exposed to radiation, as well as what happens when a bomb is dropped.

  The results of the US using depleted uranium in Iraq, for example, as well as the aftermath of Chernoble, and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors and ilness are good “teaching” materials to show what nuclear “does”.  There’s the examples of workers in the US being sickened, and their kids and kids’ kids, from working in, with or near uranium mining in the US.  I have faith in the people of the US and of the world.  (Howard Zinn’s “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train” is my favorite book.  He is the ultimate teacher of social change and faith in people.)

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By Night-Gaunt, September 11, 2009 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

“But planned slaughter of 600 million civilians—10 times the total death count in World War II, a hundred times the scale of the Holocaust?”

The Holocaust has the number 11-12 million dead, but the Jews who suffered most from it have taken it as their own. We are to ignore the other 5-6 million people, that is what disgusts me. Every time I see this I am reminded of it and how these others must also be remembered too.

I am glad he is addressing this serious problem that hangs, like a Sword of Damocles over all our heads. So many weapons and so little control. We have missed nuclear war by accident at least 4 times. In our world anyway. [You can bet that various alternate realities didn’t do so well.] Now we are in an even greater risk now with the proliferation of such technology and the lack of safeguards on them. Only a misanthropic self loathing species would put a knife to its collective throat and risk mass suicide.

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By Jean Gerard, September 11, 2009 at 8:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Those who think nuclear war cannot be prevented are adding their weight to the Last Days religious kooks and “terrorists” who think total destruction is inevitable—even desireable!  More realistically, we do have time and ability—if we unite and use it—“we” being the human race.  Every minute counts.  Every single individual counts. It’s THE over-riding issue we face. If not now, when?  Etc.  Organizations working together were listed in Ellsberg’s article.  Refer back—and Pay It Forward. That’s why he wrote the article and TD printed it.  Otherwise . . . . ?

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By Ouroborus, September 11, 2009 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Blackspeare, September 11 at 10:51 am #
But on the other hand a strategic world wide nuclear
attack coupled with a protective umbrella aka SDI could
very well usher in a thousand years of Pax Americana. 
However, it must be understood that any medical
condition arising from such action will be considered
to be pre-existing.
Hey, that’s not funny; it’s hilarious.

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By Blackspeare, September 11, 2009 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

But on the other hand a strategic world wide nuclear attack coupled with a protective umbrella aka SDI could very well usher in a thousand years of Pax Americana.  However, it must be understood that any medical condition arising from such action will be considered to be pre-existing.

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By tomack, September 11, 2009 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

For my part, little as it is, I joined each of the organizations Ellsberg noted. I was already in one, but these seem good—for what they are…well intentioned. 

“Every little bit helps.”
-Harpo Marx

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, September 11, 2009 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

I have actually been considering the nuclear cascade we see happening around the world these last few months.  It is an unfortunate fact that this genie, released from its bottle in 1945, can never be returned.  The cost of acquiring nuclear weapons goes down with each new generation of development.  The technical knowledge, once the exclusive property of a very small group of very intelligent men and women, has now become all to common.  The specter of Dr. Kahn selling Pakistan’s nuclear secrets to anyone who was interested indicates how far down the rat hole we have fallen.  The very desirable idea of eliminating all nuclear weapons is one we should pursue but I doubt it will ever happen.  Humanity seems all but incapable of making the leap.

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By tomack, September 11, 2009 at 6:15 am Link to this comment

Track those who profit from war and ye shall find those who start war.

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By prosefights, September 11, 2009 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

The liberal arts educated have stolen our $22,036.00.

We’re trying to get it back.

We’re going to try to use LOGIC on them.

Rule 79. Books and Records Kept by the Clerk and Entries Therein
(a) Civil Docket. The clerk shall keep a book known as “civil docket” of such form and style as may be prescribed by the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts with the approval of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and shall enter therein each civil action to which these rules are made applicable. Actions shall be assigned consecutive file numbers. The file number of each action shall be noted on the folio of the docket whereon the first entry of the action is made. All papers filed with the clerk, all process issued and returns made thereon, all appearances, orders, verdicts, and judgments shall be entered chronologically in the civil docket on the folio assigned to the action and shall be marked with its file number. These entries shall be brief but shall show the nature of each paper filed or writ issued and the substance of each order or judgment of the court and of the returns showing execution of process. The entry of an order or judgment shall show the date the entry is made. When in an action trial by jury has been properly demanded or ordered the clerk shall enter the word “jury” on the folio assigned to that action.

“They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought.” 

Liberal arts grads think differently, we learned from experience.

People educated similar to Ryan Crocker will likely be making the decision as to whether Iran is bombed or not. Be terrified.

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By pawel, September 10, 2009 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

thanks Mr Ellsberg. I was born in 1961 in a Warsaw, one of those places surely on the list. Well, I guess most of us were, when one considers the true consequences of megaton bombs going off in the vicinity. But has the list ever been published?

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By Bisbonian, September 10, 2009 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

”  Have the UN under a Swiss committe ascertain that every nation’s capital city
have placed in it two or more nuclear bomb tha will automatically go off within
minutes of nucekar attack by anone against anyone else. For strict compliance
and technological needs have Japanese technicians certify installations.”

We could even give it a name…like “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Love the Bomb.”

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By NYCartist, September 10, 2009 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

pre-read comment: Howard Zinn tells the story of Ellsberg and his wife, coming over to the Zinn’s home
(Roslyn, Zinn’s wife) and the four friends going to the movies.  (I don’t know the name of Ellsberg’s wife.)  Ellsberg asked if he could leave a package while they went to the movies - “Butch Cassidy and the
Sundance Kid”.  The package was the Pentagon Papers and I think it was the night before Ellsberg was going to give them to Congress.  Zinn said he didn’t know
what was in the package.*
  *Sen. Mike Gravel (Alaska,Dem) tells the story,
on DemocracyNow, of how he got to read the Pentagon Papers on the Senate floor - all of it,
I think.  He got it into hearings in a committee
on buildings and went on reading for hours…

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By omop, September 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

While the following might sound Kafkaesq it may be the only tru/practical way to
stop “mna” from obliterating hisself. Still here’s omop’s proposal:

  Have the UN under a Swiss committe ascertain that every nation’s capital city
have placed in it two or more nuclear bomb tha will automatically go off within
minutes of nucekar attack by anone against anyone else. For strict compliance
and technological needs have Japanese technicians certify installations.

A “brave new world” maybe, hopefully could emerge from this final Holocaust!

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By Dave24, September 10, 2009 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

“Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war? ... He said war
was too important to be left to the generals.  When he said that ... he might have
been right.  But today, war is too important to be left to politicians.  They have
neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought.”

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By Jean Gerard, September 10, 2009 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks, Mr. Ellsberg for this detailed reminder. In the face of so much horror in the world, it is easy to “forget” the worst horror of all. Such forgetfulness may do us in, eventually, if we can’t concentrate on getting rid of the “nuclear option.”  And I think we will have to get rid of it in both power and weapons because it is a beast that ultimately cannot be “caged.” Human beings seem not to have the foresight or will power to act wisely, but are easily angered and frightened, and in that condition, will stop at nothing. The US as the inventor, first user, and purveyor has the most responsibility to take the initiative in eliminating nuclear dangers, and must find ways to get international cooperation.  As individuals, we can all help organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, for instance.

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