Nuclear State = Police State

The Barton Report

"Is it surprising if we begin to ask ourselves whether it is not these repressive and harshly authoritarian aspects of the nuclear industry that make it so attractive to some people and some interest groups"
-- Robert Jungk, The Nuclear State


On October 31, 1975, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission published "The Impact of Intensified Nuclear Safeguards on Civil Liberties," also called the Barton Report after its author, Stanford University law professor John H. Barton. It is a study of the breakdown in basic civil liberties that would result in a future plutonium economy. Among its conclusions is a startling prediction that detention without charge and even torture might be used against dissidents in the future, since the legal barriers against such practices would evaporate after a declaration of nuclear emergency, especially a theft of "special nuclear materials." [NRC contract AT(4924)0190.]

The full report suggests a nuclear reprocessing economy is going to have a major degradation of civil liberties. Guantanamo Camp and the USA Patriot Act make this prediction the topic of the daily news.


"Intensified Nuclear Safeguards and Civil Liberties"
John H. Barton -- October 31, 1975

"this paper was prepared under Nuclear Regulatory Commission Contract No. AT(49-24) - 0190. ... An NRC - sponsored Working Conference on the Impact of Intensified Nuclear Safeguards on Civil Liberties was held at the Stanford Law School on October 17 and 18, 1975."

p. 27

An additional question in this area is the technical one of whether wiretapping is authorized for the specific criminal offenses that might be involved. Tapping is permitted for the enforcement of only certain laws, 18 U.S.C. 2516. In the nuclear area these include those sections of the Atomic Energy relating to Restricted Data (including models, instruments or appliances incorporating such data), 42 U.S.C. 2276, but do not include the laws relating to possession of special nuclear materials. Laws relating to sabotage, riots, and extortion, among others are also enforceable through wiretaps. Perhaps the possibility of such actions following nuclear theft is great enough to satisfy probable cause requirements. Perhaps wiretapping without a warrant, but under procedures somewhat more flexible than those of the Safe Streets Act, is legal under _U.S. District Court_. Wiretapping during an emergency may therefore require clarifying legislation.

Detention of Dissidents. Finally, dissidents might be seized and detained after a plutonium theft. Detention might be justified as a way to isolate and immobilize persons capable of fashioning the material into an explosive device. Conceivably -- although the interrogation issue has not been researched for this paper -- detention could also be used as a step in a very troubling interrogation scheme -- perhaps employing lie detectors or even torture. The normal deterrent to such practices -- inadmissibility of evidence in court -- would be ineffective under the conditions of a nuclear emergency.

Clearly, the third-degree methods -- impermissible even in combat -- are illegal and unconstitutional. Indiscriminate arrests and detentions without formal charges or the opportunity for bail are also contrary to the constitutional norm, as indicated by the Congressional report

p. 28

accompanying the repeal of the Emergency Detection Act of 1950 ...

However, detention of persons potentially capable of crime has been upheld in three unusual types of circumstances: (1) relocation of alien and U.S. Japanese citizens on the Pacific Coast early in World War II ... (2) denial of bail to aliens pending appeal of deportation proceedings if the aliens are threats to the national security ... and (3) Presidential protection.

It seems incredible that something that cannot be felt, and is invisible, tasteless, odorless and silent, can have such damaging biological effects. This undetectable nature of radiation contributes to public fear. (One can see radioactive materials, but their deadly emanations can not be directly sensed.) Pringle and Spigelman in their history of the atomic age "The Nuclear Barons," noted "To most people, [radiation] was a total mystery and they were afraid of it. The nuclear advocates labeled such a response irrational, but their awareness of it reinforced their normal penchant for concealment. This, combined with their unshakable self-confidence, turned them into an arrogant, secretive elite." (The Nuclear Barons," p. 364)
Our Plutonium Economy And A Free Democracy
Are A Contradiction In Terms