Originally published in Talking Points Memo , by Evan McMorris-Santoro
Retired General: Republicans Making Nuclear Terrorism More Likely
A retired Army general is taking to the radio to call out leaders of the Republican party for making it more likely we'll be blown up by a terrorist's nuclear bomb.
Lt. Gen. Robert Gard is the star of a series of radio ads targeting Republican leaders in the House and Senate for supporting "deep cuts to the U.S. Government's signature nuclear security program to remove highly enriched uranium and other dangerous nuclear materials from countries in the former Soviet Union and other unstable regions around the world."
Gard is a veteran of the Vietnam and Korean wars and a top official at Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a nonpartisan group (with center-left lean) focused on reducing the spread of nuclear weapons and other threats.
The Center and its sister group, the Council For A Livable World, say the House budget proposal cut Obama's 2011 request for the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration by more than $600 million, nearly a quarter less than what the president requested. And the current short-term budget resolution, which is keeping the government open while lawmakers duke it out over a long-term spending plan, cuts the current White House request for the NNSA by $551 million. Republicans have agreed to the short-term bills only if they include billions of dollars in cuts from the 2010 budget.
The cuts are dangerous, Gard told reporters today. And they don't make any sense considering the GOP's gung-ho national security rhetoric. He wants the Republicans to restore the NNSA funding now -- and to leave it alone in the future.
The cuts just don't make any sense when contrasted with GOP national security rhetoric, Gard said.
"The House Republicans claim that national security programs were exempted from the cuts [in their budget]," Gard said. "So it was either through gross inattention or gross irresponsibility that they cut funds [for NNSA], apparently because it was in the Department of Energy, not the Department of Defense budget."
Gard is lending his voice to a series of radio ads targeting top Republicans in their home districts over the cuts. In the House, the ads target Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), appropriations chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) and budget committee chair Paul Ryan (R-WI). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and appropriations committee ranking member Thad Cochran (R-MS) (who supported for the House budget bill when it came before the Senate) are also the target of the radio ads.
The message from the spots could not be more direct.
"What I am about to tell you sounds crazy, but it's true," Gard says in the minute-long ads. "Your Congressman... is making it easier for terrorists to get nuclear weapons."
TPM asked Gard if that kind of rhetoric was more fearmongering than legitimate argument.
"This is real, declared threat," Gard said, referring to a 1998 promise by Osama Bin Laden that Al Qaeda would pursue WMDs. "This isn't something we're making up. We need to give it high priority to prevent a nuclear explosion in an American city with disastrous consequences."
To listen to all the ads, please visit our Action Center.
Cantor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Boehner's office declined to comment.