Revelation of secret missile launch proves public review is essential

The proposed secret launch of 20 Scud-like missiles over private and public lands from a university site, used previously for research purposes, was not scrapped because university personnel refused to keep the launch secret. It ended as private citizens pressed for public review. Two conclusions emerge:

First, the military continues to treat Alaska as a military proving ground akin to the depopulated White Sands Missile Range, desert expropriated from ranchers decades ago to test the atomic bomb and other weapons. Its historical indifference to damage mirrors the old Atomic Energy Commission at the Amchitka blast site. If and when damage is discovered, it will first deny and then drag its heels until sufficient political pressure is applied. That was the pattern at Amchitka and when radioactive material was discovered on hunting grounds near Point Hope.

Second, our state university (where I served with pride for many years) has no determined policy regarding its participation in secret military experiments that could harm Alaska resources or populations. This must change.

Revelation of the secret missile launch makes it all the more important to press for full public disclosure of possible damage from missile defense experiments at Fort Greeley and on Kodiak Island. Until the military revises its assumptions about Alaska, we have to look out for ourselves.

-- Stephen Conn
Executive Director
Alaska Public Interest Research Group
Anchorage