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Feeling More Secure, Yet? Bush, Security, Energy and Money

Bush, Security, Energy and Money

by STAN GOFF

Contrary to its assertions of deep concern about the domestic security of the United States, the Bush administration has substantially degraded "homeland security" since September 11 while facilitating a massive transfer of public and private wealth into the coffers of the energy industry. The Bush administration, itself composed predominantly of energy industry insiders, has cynically invoked (information) "security" to conceal this degradation of domestic security, to attack government and corporate whistleblowers, and to protect the enormous energy conglomerates from accountability.

Associated Press, November 7, 2003:

Washington. The latest warning from the Homeland Security Department that al-Qaida may be plotting an attack is renewing calls for stricter security on cargo planes.

The department advised law enforcement officials Friday night of threats that terrorists may fly cargo planes from another country into such crucial U.S. targets as nuclear plants, bridges or dams, Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said.

Leon Laylagian of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations security committee said the government must take air cargo security as seriously as it takes air passenger security.

Mark Hertsgaard, "Nuclear Insecurity," Vanity Fair, November 2003:

Over the past two years, the Bush administration has talked tough about defending the United States against terrorism, pointing to the September 11 tragedy to justify much of its domestic and international political agenda, from invading Iraq to limiting civil liberties to relaxing environmental regulations. But… the Bush administration is in fact failing disastrously at the practical job of keeping the American homeland safe from terrorist attacks. In particular, the administration is doing worse than nothing … leaving serious flaws in the nuclear-security system unrepaired, it is silencing the very public servants who are trying to fix the problem before it is too late.

Argonne National Laboratory, for the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 1982:

[A] large commercial airliner striking the reactor dome… would easily penetrate the reactor dome… obliterate the reactor core’s primary containment thereby immediately releasing massive amounts of radiation into the atmosphere without any chance of evacuation. Thousands of people would quickly perish and thousands more would perish over time… the explosive force of jet fuel exploding inside the containment dome would… convert the containment dome itself into a bomb.

Tale of a Professional (Government) Nuclear Terrorist

In a recent article in Vanity Fair, author Mark Hertsgaard writes an account of Rich Levernier, a reluctant nuclear whistleblower who was fired after 22 years with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), two years before he became eligible for his pension.

Levernier coordinated mock-terrorist, laser-tag commando attacks to test Department of Energy nuclear weapons facilities for six years prior to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The facilities failed to stop attackers in half the exercises, even when prior notice, issued for safety reasons, eliminated the advantage of surprise.

Levernier pushed aggressively to upgrade security at DOE for years, and was ignored until his persistence was rewarded with a job termination and cancellation of his security clearance.

The Levernier story is emblematic of a Bush administration antagonism toward all whistleblowers, public and private. That antagonism has vastly increased domestic vulnerability to attack. The administration is deploying "homeland security" concerns as justification to shield Bush-friendly corporations from public security upgrade costs, to conceal backroom deals, and to marginalize–and sometimes even criminalize–insiders who speak their conscience.

Since this administration took office, it has declared virtual war on whistleblowers.

Silencing the Witnesses

In May 2003, Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan and deputy Tim Hannapel simultaneously resigned from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the agency that investigates wrongdoing often reported by government whistleblowers. Kaplan had overseen the transformation of the OSC from yet another toothless watchdog into an agency that was as relentless in pursuit of investigations as it was protective of its sources: especially whistleblowers. The Project on Government Oversight called her tenure a "virtual revolution." Her efforts ran headlong into a heavily Republican Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that has shown an implacable hostility to government and business whistleblowers.

The Federal Circuit interpreted the whistleblower protection in a way that raised the bar for protection only to include whistleblowers whose information is "undeniable and incontestable," a standard that is more appropriately applied to court proceedings. The court granted the government agencies themselves the "presumption of good faith," and wholly shifted an extreme burden of proof onto whistleblowers.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) bristled that the Federal Circuit had "corrupted the intent of Congress" which had crafted the 1990 Whistleblower Protection Act to shield civil servants from retaliation who spoke out about suspected waste, abuse, neglect, and malfeasance.

When federal judicial hostility to whistleblowers was combined with the aggressive anti-whistleblower interventions of the Bush executive branch, of which the OSC is a part, Kaplan left the agency.

It is perhaps not surprising that prior to her appointment to the OSC, Kaplan was deputy General Counsel to the National Treasury Employees Union until going to the OSC in 1998. Among the first targets of the Bush administration, after it declared the "war on terror," were government employee unions, particularly the whistleblower protection clauses of their contracts.

The Bush administration began accelerated planning for agency consolidation within the Department of Homeland Security immediately in the wake of 9/11, a department where one might assume that abuse, corruption, or neglect would be a primary concern encouraging open-door policies for whistleblowers.

The door that opened, however, was the exit. Now it might even be the entry to a jail cell.

Whistleblower protections were excised from proposals for the Department of Homeland Security and the newly formed Transportation Security Administration (TSA). To his great credit, Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa–breaking ranks with many in his party–issued a call in 2002 to restore whistleblower protection to all jobs and contracts.

"Government agencies too often want to cover up their mistakes," said Grassley, "and the temptation is even greater when bureaucracies can use a potential security issue as an excuse. At the same time, the information whistleblowers provide is all the more important when public safety and security is at stake."

This was precisely Rich Levernier’s intent when he became a nuclear gadfly: to overcome bureaucratic inertia that left weapons grade nuclear material vulnerable to theft.

President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney both have strong personal financial ties to energy companies. This year Executive Order-13303 was issued. It repeals whistleblower protection for employees who report human rights violations, mismanage accounting, or falsify shareholder reports for companies with contracts for Iraqi oil commerce. Chief among these corporations is Halliburton, for which Dick Cheney was the Chief Executive Officer before taking office, and from which he still receives a six-figure annual check.

Another egregious example of this pattern was the Ashcroft Justice Department’s attempt to railroad Congress to accept Patriot Act II, humorously called the Domestic Security and Enhancement Act, in which the Bush administration managed to slip clauses that undermine previous regulatory law, like the Clean Air Act, by classifying data available to the public on hazardous emissions. Nat Hentoff, in Bush-Ashcroft vs. Homeland Security (Village Voice, April 18, 2003) details this bit of trickery. He quotes Tim Edgar of the American Civil Liberties Union, who points out that the Clean Air Act requires that "corporations that use potentially dangerous chemicals must prepare an analysis of consequences of the release of such chemicals to the surrounding communities." In section 202 of Ashcroft’s ploy, this public oversight would have been summarily killed and even stating the location of one of the facilities no longer under public scrutiny would have become a felony. Edgar told Hentoff that "government whistle-blowers who reveal any information restricted under this section commit a criminal offense, even if their motivation was to protect the public from corporate wrongdoing or government neglect." This clause of the Domestic Security and Enhancement Act, had the act passed (which it thankfully did not), would have done nothing to increase public security, its clear intent being to wrap a cloak of secrecy around corporate patrons to enable maximization of profits while neglecting public safety and health.

The primary beneficiaries of weakened clean air regulation are energy companies.

Lies, Damn Lies, and 103 Dirty Bombs

A May 2003 report from NC WARN reveals that there are nuclear facilities with far less protection than nuclear weapons plants. Nuclear power plants contain immense quantities of highly radioactive material, are already located near large urban centers, and any one of them could be activated as a "Predeployed Radiological Weapon" (a term coined by Dr. Gordon Thompson, a nuclear security expert).

On September 11, 2001, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which oversees security at all 103 nuclear power plants in the United States, issued a public statement that nuclear power plants were designed to sustain an aircraft attack like those that had just destroyed the World Trade towers. This was a lie. Ten days later, when confronted from several quarters with information to the contrary, the NRC admitted that the statement was not true.

As it turns out, the Argonne National Laboratory/NRC studied the question of the impact of a large commercial airliner in 1982. Their own results (published as NUREG/CR-[REDACTED] pp. 61-65) contradict the September 11 claim. "[A] large commercial airliner striking the reactor dome… would easily penetrate the reactor dome… obliterate the reactor core’s primary containment thereby immediately releasing massive amounts of radiation into the atmosphere without any chance of evacuation. Thousands of people would quickly perish and thousands more would perish over time… the explosive force of jet fuel exploding inside the containment dome would… convert the containment dome itself into a bomb." Impartial security experts as well as 27 state attorneys general, now agree that the spent fuel pools at nuclear plants present an equally devastating and far more easily accessible target than the reactors. The results from a reactor core melt would be more acute, while the result of burning waste fuel would take longer to materialize, but both scenarios are unthinkable.

The nation’s 103 nuclear power plants have packed the waste fuel from each reactor into water-filled cooling pools like sardines. In addition to the threat of intentional activations of these cesium-bombs for malicious motives, accidental loss of cooling will also cause a pool fire, which Brookhaven National Laboratory estimates could cause–depending on the location and conditions–up to 140,000 cancer deaths, $500 billion in off-site property damage, and contamination of thousands of square miles.

This nightmare scenario can be rendered moot by simply re-racking these waste fuel assemblies back to the original design distance, where air convection can prevent self-ignition. Unfortunately, few elected officials want to confront the nation’s powerful utilities about their irresponsible behavior, and the putative Nuclear Regulatory Commission has its leadership appointed by people who win elections with generous contributions from the very utilities that continue to gamble with public safety to protect profit margins.

The NRC’s September 11 lie, that nuclear plants could withstand aerial suicide attack, was recanted and replaced with yet another lie. On September 21, while admitting that an aircraft could destroy a nuclear plant after all, the NRC spokesperson said that the nuclear industry was unprepared for this contingency because "nobody conceived of this kind of assault."

In fact, the federal government, including the NRC, had been considering the possibility of just such an attack since 1994, after the Algerian "Armed Islamic Group" hijacked an Air France plane with the intention of flying it into the Eiffel Tower–a plot that was foiled because none of the hijackers knew how to pilot a plane. Later asymmetric warriors corrected that deficiency, as we were to find out in 2001.

In Spring of 2003, when a study developed at Princeton showed the vulnerability of spent fuel pools to attack and its consequences, Commissioner Ed McGaffigan of the NRC issued a memorandum to his staff directing them to discredit the study; not to review the study to determine its merits and weaknesses, but to "discredit it deeply." That study, in fact, had been strongly validated in Princeton’s peer review process.

At around the same time, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a nuclear industry public relations consortium, issued a report purporting to show that nuclear plants would withstand a suicide pilot attack. Neither McGaffigan nor the NRC criticized this report that was quickly exposed by the scientific community and the media as little more than a fraud. Nor did McGaffigan or the NRC even once take the nuclear utilities to account for repeating the false conclusions of the EPRI study in public in order to rebut community concerns about nuclear risks.

In a recent exchange of correspondence with Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear safety engineer David Lochbaum, McGaffigan admitted that the NRC deliberately stood back while the EPRI falsifications were propagated by the industry. Lochbaum, responding to the Department of Homeland security alert that al Qaeda might be planning to hijack cargo planes to hit nuclear plants, confronted McGaffigan with the contradictory reaction of the NRC. Why did this commission try to discredit a scientifically valid report and simultaneously stand by while the industry repeated the dangerous EPRI deception to the public?

McGaffigan claimed to Lochbaum that the NRC had publicly criticized the EPRI study, but this writer has searched in vain for a single instance of this alleged criticism. McGaffigan claimed that this "lost" criticism was issued to acknowledge weaknesses in nuclear plants, and that the NRC attacked the Princeton study because it was "overstated." Yet in the same breath, McGaffigan told Lochbaum that the NRC opted not to rebut the EPRI study because it might "call al Qaeda’s attention to soft spots." Either the NRC publicly criticized the EPRI study or it did not. Commissioner McGaffigan told at least one lie during his exchange with Lochbaum.

And yet again, "security" was cited as a reason for reducing public accountability and sustaining inaction.

Black Hats & Cruise Missiles

While European nuclear plants began in the eighties to harden their own plants–especially spent fuel storage–against aircraft crashes, accidental or intentional, the NRC made a conscious choice not to impose this financial hardship on the U.S. nuclear industry. The basis upon which the NRC evaluates the security posture of a nuclear power plant is something called the Design Basis Threat (DBT), a scenario upon which all security mandates are predicated. The NRC failed to upgrade the DBT to include an aircraft attack after the 1994 Algerian hijacking, even though as early as 1982 the agency acknowledged a crash could convert a nuclear plant into a hellish catastrophe. The DBT for attack that it continued to use was a scenario where only three armed intruders on foot attempted to gain access to the plant.

This brings us back to the story of Rich Levernier, a career expert in testing the defenses of nuclear weapons facilities. Nuclear weapons sites are given a far higher level of protection than commercial power plants. Nuclear power plants are not authorized to use (as nuclear weapons facilities do) automatic weapons, and power plants cannot employ (as weapons facilities can) relaxed standards regulating the use of deadly force. Nuclear weapons facilities have SWAT-like teams and far more robust external barrier and sensor systems. Nuclear power plant security personnel are barely trained above the level of mall security guards. When surveyed, some of these personnel have openly stated that if they are out-gunned, and if faced with a determined attack they would likely "run like hell."

Given that September 11 involved a minimum of 19 attackers, and given that Levernier’s "black hat" mock terrorist teams, who are all ex-military, used teams of ten or more people who succeeded in stealing weapons grade material from the more heavily guarded nuclear weapons facilities in half of the canned exercises, it is safe to assume that the DBT of three terrestrial attackers for commercial power plants was inadequate.

NRC Chairman Richard Meserve claimed after 9/11 that the risk of attack at power plants was "too speculative" to warrant upgrading the DBT. Bush administration NRC Chair Nils Diaz, who replaced Meserve in 2003, was forced by public pressure to act. But the NRC did so grudgingly, and the minimal changes in the DBT (reportedly from three attachers to five) are now classified and unavailable to the very public whose safety is at stake. This seems to infer that the federal government, far from enhancing the physical security of people in the United States, is using post-9/11 security-state measures to preserve and protect private sector negligence.

The alarming fact is that in the real world–with the element of surprise that actual attackers would have–a trained and committed force of fewer than ten people, with nothing more than what they could carry on their backs, could breach the security of a U.S. nuclear power plant almost one hundred percent of the time and demolish either the spent fuel pools or the reactor–or both.

Of course, the NRC has altogether refused to include any one of various air attacks in the revised DBT.

On November 7, 2003, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had information that led it to believe elements of the al Qaeda network were planning to hijack cargo aircraft outside the United States and fly them into nuclear power plants. Apparently "al Qaeda" figured out that there is no need to transport a radiological weapon into the United States, when 103 of them are already deployed around the country, invariably near urban centers.

What the Department of Homeland Security apparently has not figured out is that it is likewise not necessary for attackers to hijack airplanes outside the country to activate the huge "dirty bombs." The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report in September 2003 that showed 70 general aviation aircraft had been stolen inside the United States within the last five years. That is an average of 14 aircraft a year. These are small planes at short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) airfields.

Cursory research shows that the most common light aircraft in the United States is the Cessna Skyhawk.

A Tomahawk Cruise Missile is a precision weapon that can hug the earth, evade radar, travel to a range of 600 miles, and deliver up to 1,000 pounds of high explosive onto a target. A Cessna Skyhawk has a range of 687 miles, can carry a payload up to 675 pounds, and likewise can hug the contours of the earth to evade radar and deliver its payload with pinpoint accuracy.

These general aviation aircraft then, with the simple addition of a committed pilot prepared to die and 500 pounds of high explosive, could be employed as a "poor person’s Cruise missile."

In a different report, the GAO recently released a sharp criticism of the NRC’s nuclear power plant security program, stating not only that the system was inadequate to ensure genuine security, but that "aspects of its security inspection program reduced NRC’s effectiveness in overseeing protection of the nation’s plants."

The GAO pointed out that:

. the NRC’s force-on-force exercises are completely unrealistic,

. the NRC had no centralized system to upgrade industry security,

. NRC inspectors (whose numbers have been dramatically reduced by the Bush administration) now classify many security lapses as "non-cited violations."

The latter problem is particularly troubling, because it gives credence to the suspicion (alluded to above) that understating the threat at nuclear plants is the intent of the NRC. This would be consistent with a longstanding NRC tendency to prioritize the financial health of nuclear utilities above all other concerns, including public safety.

Cooking the Books

The "non-cited violation" is among several changes that the NRC has implemented in the reporting of security and safety compliance failures by nuclear utilities. These formerly documented lapses are simply no longer written down. These changes have consistently resulted in fewer industry violations being reported without any actual improvement in security performance by the utilities. It is logical to assume then that minimizing the numbers of violations reported is the actual intended goal of NRC procedure.

In response to criticisms that the NRC is loosening oversight just at the moment when tighter control is called for, Richard Meserve, the chairman of the NRC after 9/11, claimed loosened regulations were merely "better analytical tools" that let the NRC "assess the risks and make judgments in a more precise way than we were before. And where we believe things were overly conservative and unnecessary or imposing an undue burden, we back off." (emphasis added)

It is very difficult to understand how (1) muzzling whistleblowers, (2) concealing security criteria from public scrutiny and accountability, and (3) "backing off" on reporting security violations are consistent with this administration’s rhetoric about "homeland security."

Since September 11, state and local emergency services budgets have been stripped bare, National Guard troops have been sent to Iraq, reservists who worked in local police, EMS, and fire departments have been subtracted from net manpower, the entire northeast was blacked out, California burned, children across Southwest Asia and North Africa wear Osama bin Laden t-shirts, and Iraqis are more and more often naming their newborns Saddam.

Perhaps the most substantial threat to U.S. domestic security, aside from breeding millions of new enemies with international arrogance and lethal military provocations, is bureaucratic obfuscation.

Homeland Insecurity

When whistleblowers in the U.S. government point to serious flaws in our current security posture, they are not rewarded with bonuses and promotions and their insight acted upon to correct the flaws. The Bush administration has been more ruthless than any executive branch since the McCarthy era at punishing them and railroading them out of government service.

The Joseph Wilson case demonstrated the lengths to which this administration will go to punish any government employee who dares to tell the truth if it has embarrassment potential. Wilson exposed the Niger uranium deception that was used to further justify the invasion of Iraq. A "White House official" (probably Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby) retaliated against Wilson by telling the press that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent. This exposure forced her to be brought in from the field and permanently demolished any chance she can ever again operate in her former capacity, ironically enough, specializing in weapons of mass destruction.

Rather than increase the security of people inside the United States, this administration has used 9/11 as a pretext for imposing secrecy–under the guise of national security–to protect big business, particularly nuclear power, from regulatory mandates that would heighten safety and security measures.

This has led to a situation in which public health and safety, and most paradoxically security against attack, has actually been degraded under the pretext of "homeland security."

White House counter-terrorism advisor Rand Beers resigned in disgust with the administration in March saying, "They’re making us less secure, not more secure. As an insider, I saw the things that weren’t being done."

A recent Project on Government Oversight (POGO) study of mock attack evaluations at nuclear plants showed that "in the months leading up to a mock attack test, the utilities hire security-training consultants and additional guards to improve their security posture and chances of success. Even a nuclear industry representative acknowledged that utilities spend ‘millions of dollars’ getting ready for the tests." Even with this massive and artificial preparation, in which some guards were worked in repeated 14-hour shifts, the plants failed the exercises 46% of the time.

POGO executive director Danielle Brian commented, "This dumbed-down test cannot offer any assurances of adequate security."

In a rational system, the regulators (NRC) would be grateful to those who pointed out this serious security flaw, and even reward them for creating the opportunity to correct it before a tragedy occurred.

The NRC, however, claiming POGO was violating security, directed them to retract publication of a letter to NRC Chairman Nils Diaz that outlined POGO’s security concerns.

On the Bush administration’s coziness with the nuclear power industry, Nevada Senator Richard Bryan said, "Bush is so close to the nuclear industry that when you turn off the lights he glows in the dark."

Bush administration perks for energy companies are hardly surprising when the Bush cabinet and the contributors to the Bush 2000 election campaign are taken into account.

Stacking the Energy Deck

The Natural Resources Defense Council called the Bush cabinet an "Energy Industry Dream Team." Newsweek opined in May 2001, "Not since the rise of the railroads more than a century ago has a single industry [energy] placed so many foot soldiers at the top of a new administration."

The real nuclear power story however is the Bush "Energy Transition Advisory Team" (ETAT). It has 48 members, and 14 of them are from nuclear utilities, led by Joe Colvin, CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute. Nevada Representative Shelley Berkley said that the ETAT "reads like the who’s who of the nuclear power industry." Thirty-four of the 48 members of the ETAT gave personal campaign contributions to the Bush presidential campaign. One top member who was the biggest single contributor to the Bush campaign was then-CEO of Enron, Kenneth Lay. Lay was quietly eased aside after the huge energy trading company was exposed as one of the biggest criminal enterprises in history, and one that wiped out the life savings of tens of thousands of people.

It is little wonder that nuclear utilities (all of which are also coal utilities), along with the petroleum sector, have done so well under the Bush administration. They run it.

"It appears to me," quipped Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, "we have the [energy] industry directing policy."

The Bush administration’s public relations people have spun out a series of Orwellian narratives implying that the energy needs of American society are synonymous with the financial imperatives of the huge holding companies that now own most public utilities, that nuclear energy is cheaper, safer, and cleaner than all fossil energy (it is none of these), and that emotional rhetoric about homeland security somehow suggests that this is an administration that is showing a genuine material commitment to public safety.

On Saturday night, November 15, 2003, the Bush administration secretly slipped new provisions into their execrable so-called Energy Bill that included a 1.8 cent per kilowatt-hour nuclear production tax credit that could cost taxpayers over $7.5 billion, according to the Nuclear Information Resource Service. Previously existing subsidies and public support of nuclear energy amounts to almost $4 billion a year now, with a cumulative total of $140 billion since the industry began, making nuclear generated electricity the most expensive in existence.

NIRS spokesperson Cindy Folkers sardonically remarked, "Apparently the Bush Administration only upholds free market principles when it isn’t inconvenient for their campaign contributors."

But the most remarkable aspect of the new provisions is that they gut terrorism protection provisions written in the original House-passed bill, and "repeal a ban on exporting highly enriched uranium to other countries, increasing the chances that nuclear reactors could be hit by terrorists, or that nuclear bomb material could fall into terrorist hands," said Folker.

Conclusion

The first step toward understanding what this administration is doing is to connect the energy-security nexus dots. The stakes are incredibly high on many accounts. This report has attempted to show the connection between putative national security measures and what appears to be a massive assault on environmental, health, safety, and security oversight any time genuine oversight threatens the expansion of already-substantial energy sector profits.

This is an administration that has shown an alarming willingness to use national security as a pretext for going after its political enemies and undermining constitutional protections of freedom of assembly and speech, including the scapegoat roundups of thousands of immigrants without due cause. The same people who call these racist roundups an issue of homeland security willingly deploy the pretext of national security to erase corporate accountability and even to criminalize truth-tellers on behalf of private companies.

Given the administration’s penchant for demonizing opponents of its domestic and-or foreign policies, and the symbiotic relationship between this administration and the private energy sector, they could well change their name from the Bush administration to "Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft, Inc." Their corporate logo could be a giant panopticon eye in the background with an oil well, a smokestack, and a cooling tower in the foreground, and the emblazoned red, white, and blue motto: Patriotism For Profit! Public Safety for Sale!

A starting point in any campaign to reverse the dangerous direction of domestic and foreign policy with regard to energy is to continue to confront the most dangerous and expensive form of that energy: nuclear power. The immediate concern must be plain security, and this is a tremendous political vulnerability of the Bush administration policies, precisely because there is such a glaring mismatch between word and deed coming out of Washington. So the fight to harden nuclear power facilities, heighten security, thin the spent fuel pools, and bunker in the dry storage modules remains a high priority, even for those who want to decommission all nuclear power facilities. Whether plants are running or not, the waste material must be secured for many generations. So much for those who argue that we should abolish the state!

The issue of nuclear risk reduction is embedded in the framework of a much larger question about the whole Bush energy agenda. That agenda, when subjected to close scrutiny, is one of the most egregious instances of social and environmental vandalism in memory. Environmentalists, nuclear watchdogs, labor unions, consumer advocates, civil libertarians, campaign finance reformers, corporate welfare opponents, anti-sprawl activists, public health advocates, fuel efficiency advocates, transportation reformers, those who want genuine domestic security, and many other organizations and advocates share a common interest in fighting back against this so-called energy plan when it is inevitably resurrected.

The Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft Homeland Energy Plan was a disaster in the making. It needs a stake driven through its heart.

Andrew McKillop, a founding member of the International Association of Energy Economists, said in 1998, "Energy … is certainly linked to, or behind almost any international event, crisis, war, military adventure or environmental catastrophe that we are forced to witness almost any day." One wonders whether he was staring into a crystal ball. Four years later, the Bush administration’s energy wars have destabilized the globe and husbanded a proliferation of hostile, committed, and dangerously sophisticated non-state actors. Meanwhile, the Bush administration’s symbiotic relationship with energy profiteers at home is lowering our ability, behind a veil of official secrecy, to protect the public from this increasing hostility.

Early in the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 men boarded airplanes as people who worked at the World Trade Center reported in for an average day, never considering that history was about to lethally converge on them. We might have learned something about international provocation, bureaucratic complacency, and political arrogance. This administration apparently has not.

STAN GOFF retired from the United States Army in 1996 having served since 1970. He is a veteran of eight conflict areas from Vietnam to Haiti, and author of two books: Hideous Dream: A Soldier’s Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti (Soft Skull Press, 2000), and Full Spectrum Disorder: The Military in the New American Century (Soft Skull Press, 2004). His assignments included the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Ranger Battalion, 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, 3rd Special Forces Group, and 7th Special Forces Group. He also taught small unit tactics at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama and Military Science at the US Military Academy at West Point. He has performed vulnerability assessments on chemical weapons and nuclear weapons facilities, including force-on-force exercises. Goff is now a security analyst for North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network. He can be reached at: ncwarn@ncwarn.org.