Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

July 24, 1979 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-07-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page 4-Tuesday, July 24, 1979-The Michigan Daily
H Michigan Daily
Eighty-nine Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, M. 48109
Vol. LXXXIX, No. 50-S News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Dubious energy relief
JUST OVER a week ago, President Carter came
down from the Cactoctin mountains to
acquaint the country with sacrifice while it looks
to 1990 for the results of his new energy program.
His televised speech revealed that Mr. Carter was
donning a new image - apparent in his stern
speaking and manicured hairstyle.
The nation responded by boosting the
president's popularity some 12 points. Americans
generally were heartened by the president's op-
timism and faith in the country's ability to over-
come this crisis of resources and confidence. But
already the positive reactions and willingness to
turn off air conditioners and stay home is dwin-
dling. Energy austerity is likely to diminish even
more once the public realizes purchasing power
will shrink more by 1990 than oil imports.
Growing gas lines have brought home what
the speech lacked in convincing evidence of the
energy crisis's existence. But already the high-
ways seem more populated than they were a week
ago. And while gasoline demand fell 2.1 per cent in
the first six months of 1979, and a full six per cent
in June, now experts are predicting an oil glut at
summer's end.
The president will have greater difficulty per-
suading the public to reduce consumption after
the domestic oil companies disclose their annual
profits this week. Earnings are expected to ex-
ceed last year's by 40 per cent, and that is not
likely to sit well even though more modest profits
are predicted for 1980.
The foundation of Mr. Carter's program ap-
pears even shakier when analyzed from a finan-
cial standpoint - something his administration
has not yet done in detail. The windfall profits tax,
which the Senate Finance Committee postponed
for consideration until September, is the prime
basis for the plan. The tax was lowered already in
the House, and has a dubious future in an upper
chamber often accused of bowing to oil interests
(who naturally oppose the tax.)
Meanwhile, the Energy Mobilization Board
Mr. Carter proposed, to cut red tape and speed up
approval of pipelines and refineries, is being
questioned on constitutional grounds. Likewise,
the president's expressed commitment to syn-
thetic fuel production and nuclear power have
aroused environmental fears.
Mr. Carter's support of nuclear power con-
cerns many who do not want the push for energy
independence to outweigh safety priorities.
Economic and safety threats combine in the area
of shale and coal mining and conversion. To ob-
tain these abundant sources means digging up
land the size of Delaware, as well as shifting
workers and water supplies to traditionally dry,
sparsely populated areas of the country.
So, despite the positive ideas of a solar bank and
increased federal aid to mass transit, Mr. Car-
ter's program is hardly promising. Unfor-
tunately, he seems to be aiming these actions and
his recent Cabinet purge more at the 1980,
l w F ts l i nfl'satiws

Letter questions gov't secrecy

Editor's note: The following letter
was written by four atomic scientists
to Sen. John blenn tD-Ohio, and
declared classified by the U.S. Gover-
nment. Copies were sent to other
members of Congress and other
newspapers. The Daily Californian at
the University of California was the
first one to print it, and its editors
have been threatened by the gover-
nment with 10-year prison sentences
and $10,000 fines. However, no fur-
ther action has been taken to follow
through on those threats since it was
published June 13. The Daily Illini,
student newspaper at the University of
Illinois, and University of Wisconsin s
Daily Cardinal also have published it.
The Michigan Daily joins them in
printing the classified letter in the
name of freedom of information.
The government has released
classified information that iden-
tifies the nature of the design
concept upon which U.S. ther-
monuclear weapons are based.
The release occurred in the cour-
se of a legal proceeding to
prevent publication of an article
by Howard Morland about the
H-bomb in the Progressive
magazine. We ask for a
Congressional investigation into
why the government has released
classified information it claims to
be trying to protect.
The U.S. Government has
alleged that publication of
Morland's article would breach
national security because it
assembles certain facts about
thermonuclear weapons that the
government regards as
Secret/Restricted. During the
course of the litigation, and in
spite of efforts to alert the gover-
nment, several potentially sen-
sitive affidavits were made
public. The documents released
by the government collectively
identify the design concept on
which U.S. thermonuclear
weapons are based, and reveal
that this design concept is far
superior to all other known con-
figurations. It is now clear that
the government's management
of this information has resulted in
a breach of its own security.
position is that information in the
Morland article could significan-
tly decrease the development
time and effort necessary for a
non-thermonuclear country to
achieve thermonuclear status.
The utility of this information,
according to the government's
arguments, follows from the
historical experience of the U.S.
thermonuclear weapons
program. In view of the large
amount of relevant scientific in-
formation currently available,
we doubt the correctness of the
government's argument.
However, we will describe that
,rggngnt i, or . to, pvi4e 4

The successful detonation of
any thermonuclear weapon, the
argument goes, requires that a
variety of competing processes
be delicately balanced under
physical conditions that are ex-
treme even compared to those
found at the center of the sun.
There are many design ideas and
concepts that can be aimed at
achieving this delicate balance.
Determining which of these
design concepts work, how easy
they are to implement, and how
efficiently they are relative to
each other is a major activity in
any weapons program. Since
each design idea might itself
require an enormous industrial
and scientific effort, and iden-
tification of which design concept
should be most favored could
dramatically reduce the amount
of redundant effort necessary to.
achieve a militarily useful
In the context of the argument,
consider the current situation. In
Edward Teller's 1976 En-
cyclopedia Americana article on
the H-bomb, a possible solution
as to how a fission trigger and
fusion might be arranged relative
to each other within the casing of
a thermonuclear weapon is
outlined in a diagram. In an af-
fidavit submitted amicus curiae
by Gerald Marsh, George Stan-
ford and Alexander Devolpi to a
federal court through the
American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU), this configuration was
identified as conceptually similar
to a diagram which the gover-
nment wants to supress in the
Morland article. Teller's peculiar
geometrical arrangement of
separated elements requires that'
the weapon casing play an essen-
tial role in achieving ther-
monuclear ignition ina high-yield
device, and is unique among
possible design concepts.
A FURTHER significant piece
of information was released
through a two-part affidavit
submitted by T.A. Postol. He at-
tempted, in the second part of his
affidavit, to demonstrate how
certain concepts discussed in the
Morland article would follow
from principles of elementary -
hysics and pieces of public infor-
mation. As the government wants
to suppress this reasoning, the
second part of the Postol affidavit
was classified. Both the classified
and unclassified parts were ac-
companied by a detailed list of
references which included
specific page numbers to these
concepts. The government
refused to delete these page
numbers from the unclassified
affidavit, in spite of the fact that
the inclusion of the page numbers
was called to their attention.
In an alarmingly detailed af-
fidavit solicited by the gover-
nment from Jack Rosengren, it is
stated that Morland's diagram
(and hence Edward Teller's
diagram through the unclassified
Marsh, Stanford, Devolpi af-
fidavit) reveals "the nature of
the particular design used in the
tternronuelear- weaponsin tIhe'

declared this configuration to be
"the basic design concept(s)" on
which U.S. thermonuclear
weapons are based. This affidavit
was made available to the media.
The Rosengren affidavit further
identifies this design concept as
one that is particularly practical
in that it is easier (relative to
other configurations) to im-
plement successfully and is far
more efficient than any other
known type of design. The
general correctness of the
Morland article is further confir-
med by the deposition of Defense
Sec. Harold Brown, which was
also placed in the public domain.
It is inexplicable that thee af-
fidavits were not classified, if one
accepts the government's
arguments as to the sensitivity of
the contents of the Morland ar-
The nature of the designtcon-
cept on which U.S. ther-
monuclear weapons are based,
and the efficiency of this design
concept relative to others, appear
to have been closely guarded
secrets. Although we regard
much of this information as
already in the public domain, the
consistent protection of this in-
formation by the government
would have dictated that the
Teller diagram never be
published, the Marsh, Stanford,
Devolpi reference to that
diagram be classified, Postol's
references be classified, and no
statements that either draw at-
tention to, or rule out any ther-
monuclear design concept be
THUS IT seems that those en-
trusted with handling classified
information associated with this
court case have already released
much of the information that the
suit was brought to protect. Fur-
ther, even if the Morland article
is not eventually published, the
bootleg copies that will inevitably
get into circulation (some
already having reached
Australia) now have their
credibility certified by gover-
nment impramatur.
Another particularly distur-
bing aspect of the government's
handling of this information per-
tains to the possible use of
classification and
declassification for political pur-
poses. The government's confir-
mation of the general accuracy of
the Morland article might be a
conscious attempt to influence of
the outcome of the case by in-
creasing the apparent sensitivity
of Morland's information in
hopes of establishing a legal
precedent for prior restraint.
Such use of the classification
process for political purposes is
not in the national interest. The
United States is currently facing
a wide range of policy decisions
associated with the use of
technology transfer, strategic
arms limitation, proliferation of
fission weapons, and a com-
petitive test ban treaty. The
power to selectively classify
documents that contain infor-

presiadentri ampagatnacaea
and energy pinches.

fainewO -.the. discussion..
I that follows.

U' ' 'stdLl it "' " d Ui'tN *r" " + " "fee Ewit1 , 'age 6

Back to Top

© 2021 Regents of the University of Michigan