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In September, Max and I got to see a special viewing of "Command and Control," in Washington, D.C. at the beginning of its 10-city tour. We sat next to Sr. Megan Rice of the Transform Now Plowshares and Kathy Boylan of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in D.C.
This was one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. It is about a near-nuclear explosion in the 80s
in Arkansas. At least 1,000 near-nuclear accidents have already occurred, and the author and others
believe it is inevitable that an explosion will eventually happen (unless nuclear weapons are abolished).
The book was written by Eric Schlosser. He was present for the discussion afterwards along with
the movie's director, Robert Kenner. Dan Zak of The Washington Post and author of Almighty: Courage,
Resistance and Existential Terror in the Nuclear Age, was the moderator. This is the book about the
Transform Now Plowshares (Sr. Megan Rice and Catholic Workers Mike Walli and Greg Boerjete-Obed) and their witness at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in July 2012.
The movie is about a 330,000 ton Titan II Missile, eight stories high, that would fly for 20 minutes before it hits its target -- anywhere in the world. The missile contains 3x all the bombs used in WWII, including those used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A wrench was dropped onto the missile by accident. This set off the gas in one of the cylinders, and the launch would take place when this gas interacted with gas in another cylinder. Eventually, the interaction of the gases set off an enormous explosion. This particular nuclear weapons launch site is located in a small town in Arkansas, 50 miles south of Little Rock. The movie demonstrates the confusion that occurred among the workers, enlisted men who are trained to follow orders. Nobody questioned authority. They just followed. In the chaos, no one knew what to do.
Once it was recognized this was a potential disaster, the base commander kept it secret. There was no transparency. If they would have told others how dangerous the situation was, the sheriff would have evacuated the nearby community.
The checklist would not solve the problem. In reality, when something unexpected happens, it’s a traumatic event .
Later, the Strategic Air Command took over the base commander's authority, yet the situation was kept from Governor Bill Clinton, a U.S. senator and the sheriff. They put all these people in danger. They wouldn’t even tell Senator Mondale who was in town because of the Presidential Campaign. That’s when Mondale called Secretary of War Harold Brown and asked, "What’s going on here?" Nobody told President Reagan.
Schlosser spoke of the “illusion of control, sense of enormous power getting out of our control.”
At least a 1,000 nuclear accidents over the years have occurred...
An expert said "It will eventually happen"…
A Hibakasha (survivor of nuclear blast in Hiroshima or Nagasaki) spoke:…"I saw this beautiful light….that then reigned down fire and incinerated human beings…melting them, screaming ghostlike people, melting naked blackened bodies, eyeballs hanging out of their sockets…