August 9, 2005    Issue #65

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Sixty years ago today at 11:02 a.m., under the 
guise of hastening the end of World War II and 
avoiding further U.S. blood shed by invading the 
home islands of Japan, a United States Air Force 
bomber --- "Bock's Car" --- dropped a plutonium 
bomb --- the Fat Boy --- on Nagasaki, killing 
about 80,000 people.

Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito recalls "in an instant, 
the resulting heat, blast and radiation descended 
upon Nagasaki and transformed the city into a 
hell on earth.".

While Hiroshima, where the first atomic bomb was 
dropped three days earlier, has over the years, 
received most of the attention, Nagasaki's loss 
of human life and long-term causalities is 
perhaps even more scandalous and an indelible 
stain on the American moral conscience.

For in 2003 alone Nagasaki added 2,692 people to 
a list of those who have died from aftereffects, 
bringing that city's count of the total number of 
bomb victims to 131,885 at that time.

If one ignores the growing body of historical 
evidence that the reason the U.S. dropped its two 
atomic bombs was to simply impress the Russians 
--- who in fact came into the war against Japan 
the day before the Nagasaki bombing --- and 
accepts the Truman rationale that we did it to 
frighten the Japanese into surrendering without 
invading their homeland, then the reasoning 
behind the Nagasaki bombing falls apart.

After the Hiroshima bomb was dropped on August 6 
with a loss of life of 140,000 and a city left in 
ruins the Japanese high command in Tokyo still 
had not pieced together exactly what had happened 
in Hiroshima. In other words even before they 
were able to adequately assimilate what had 
happened in Hiroshima news of the Nagasaki fire 
and destruction reached them.

Thus, one can conclude that the U.S. determined 
after spending billions of dollars in developing, 
at the time, its two atomic bombs they were going 
to use them both, come hell or high water. In a 
perverse sort of way they got what they wished 
for -- a living "hell on earth" but for tens of 
thousands of innocent human beings and for the 
dubious distinction of our being the only nation 
in the history of warfare to ever use atomic 
weapons in anger.

One can only say in response:

"Vengeance is mine, sayth the Lord !!!"


The Catholic Worker
September, 1945

Mr. Truman was jubilant. President Truman.  True 
man; what a strange name, come to think of it. 
We refer to Jesus Christ as true God and true 
Man.  Truman is a true man of his time in that he 
was jubilant. He was not a son of God, brother of 
Christ, brother of the Japanese, jubilating as he 
did. He went from table to table on the cruiser 
which was bringing him home from the Big Three 
conference, telling the great news; "jubilant" 
the newspapers said. Jubilate Deo. We have killed 
318,000 Japanese.

That is, we hope we have killed them, the 
Associated Press, on page one, column one of the 
Herald Tribune says. The effect is hoped for, not 
known. It is to be hoped they are vaporized, our 
Japanese brothers, scattered, men, women and 
babies, to the four winds, over the seven seas. 
Perhaps we will breathe their dust into our 
nostrils, feel them in the fog of New York on our 
faces, feel them in the rain on the hills of 

Jubilate Deo. President Truman was jubilant. We 
have created. We have created destruction. We 
have created a new element, called Pluto. Nature 
had nothing to do with it.

The papers list the scientists (the murderers) 
who are credited with perfecting this new weapon. 
Scientists, army officers, great universities, 
and captains of industry-all are given credit 
lines in the press for their work of preparing 
the bomb-and other bombs, the President assures 
us, are in production now.

Everyone says, "I wonder what the Pope thinks of 
it?" How everyone turns to the Vatican for 
judgment, even though they do not seem to listen 
to the voice there! But our Lord Himself has 
already pronounced judgment on the atomic bomb. 
When James and John (John the beloved) wished to 
call down fire from heaven on their enemies, 
Jesus said:

"You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of 
Man came not to destroy souls but to save." He 
said also, "What you do unto the least of these 
my brethren, you do unto me.


Editor & Publisher
August 5, 2005

In the weeks following the atomic attacks on 
Japan almost 60 years ago, and then for decades 
afterward, the United States engaged in airtight 
suppression of all film shot in Hiroshima and 
Nagasaki after the bombings. This included 
footage shot by U.S. military crews and Japanese 
newsreel teams. In addition, for many years all
but a handful of newspaper photographs were seized or prohibited.

The public did not see any of the newsreel 
footage for 25 years, and the U.S. military film 
remained hidden for nearly four decades.

The full story of this atomic cover-up is told 
fully for the first time at Editor & Publisher, 
as the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings 
approaches later this week. Some of the 
long-suppressed footage will be aired on 
television this Saturday.

Six weeks ago, E&P broke the story that articles 
written by famed Chicago Daily News war 
correspondent George Weller about the effects of 
the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki were finally 
published, in Japan, almost six decades after 
they had been spiked by U.S. officials.

This drew national attention, but suppressing 
film footage shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was 
even more significant, as this country rushed 
into the nuclear age with its citizens having 
neither a true understanding of the effects of 
the bomb on human beings, nor why the atomic 
attacks drew condemnation around the world.

As editor of Nuclear Times magazine in the 1980s, 
I met Herbert Sussan, one of the members of the 
U.S. military film crew, and Erik Barnouw, the 
famed documentarian who first showed some of the 
Japanese footage on American TV in 1970. In fact, 
that newsreel footage might have disappeared 
forever if the Japanese filmmakers had not hidden 
one print from the Americans in a ceiling.

The color U.S. military footage would remain 
hidden until the early 1980s, and has never been 
fully aired. It rests today at the National 
Archives in College Park, Maryland, in the form 
of 90,000 feet of raw footage labeled #342 USAF.

When that footage finally emerged, I corresponded 
and spoke with the man at the center of this 
drama: Lt. Col. (Ret.) Daniel A. McGovern, who 
directed the U.S. military filmmakers in 
1945-1946, managed the Japanese footage, and then 
kept watch on all of the top-secret material for 

"I always had the sense," McGovern told me, "that 
people in the Atomic Energy Commission were sorry 
we had dropped the bomb. The Air Force --- it was 
also sorry. I was told by people in the Pentagon 
that they didn't want those [film] images out 
because they showed effects on man, woman and 
child. ... They didn't want the general public to 
know what their weapons had done --- at a time 
they were
planning on more bomb tests. We didn't want the 
material out because ... we were sorry for our 

Sussan, meanwhile, struggled for years to get 
some of the American footage aired on national 
TV, taking his request as high as President 
Truman, Robert F. Kennedy and Edward R. Murrow, 
to no avail.

More recently, McGovern declared that Americans 
should have seen the damage wrought by the bomb. 
"The main reason it was classified was ... 
because of the horror, the devastation," he said. 
Because the footage shot in Hiroshima and 
Nagasaki was hidden for so long, the atomic 
bombings quickly sank, unconfronted and 
unresolved, into the deeper recesses of American 
awareness, as a costly nuclear arms race, and 
nuclear proliferation, accelerated.

The atomic cover-up also reveals what can happen 
in any country that carries out deadly attacks on 
civilians in any war and then keeps images of 
what occurred from its own people.

Ten years ago, I co-authored (with Robert Jay 
Lifton) the book Hiroshima in America, and new 
material has emerged since. On August 6, and on 
following days, the Sundance cable channel will 
air "Original Child Bomb," a prize-winning 
documentary on which I worked. The film includes 
some of the once-censored footage --- along with 
home movies filmed by McGovern in Hiroshima and 

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an 
atomic bomb over Hiroshima, killing at least 
70,000 instantly and perhaps 50,000 more in the 
days and months to follow. Three days later, it 
exploded another atomic bomb over Nagasaki, 
slightly off target, killing 40,000 immediately 
and dooming tens of thousands of others. Within 
days, Japan had surrendered, and the U.S. readied 
plans for occupying the defeated country --- and 
documenting the first atomic catastrophe.

But the Japanese also wanted to study it. Within 
days of the second atomic attack, officials at 
the Tokyo-based newsreel company Nippon Eigasha 
discussed shooting film in the two stricken 
cities. In early September, just after the 
Japanese surrender, and as the American 
occupation began, director Sueo Ito set off for 
Nagasaki. There his crew filmed the utter 
destruction near ground zero and scenes in 
hospitals of the badly burned and those suffering 
from the lingering effects of radiation.

On September 15, another crew headed for 
Hiroshima. When the first rushes came back to 
Toyko, Akira Iwasaki, the chief producer, felt 
"every frame burned into my brain," he later said.

At this point, the American public knew little 
about conditions in the atomic cities beyond 
Japanese assertions that a mysterious affliction 
was attacking many of those who survived the 
initial blasts (claims that were largely taken to 
be propaganda). Newspaper photographs of victims 
were non-existent, or censored. Life magazine 
would later observe that for years "the world ... 
knew only the physical facts of atomic 

Tens of thousands of American GIs occupied the 
two cities. Because of the alleged absence of 
residual radiation, no one was urged to take 

Then, on October 24, 1945, a Japanese cameraman 
in Nagasaki was ordered to stop shooting by an 
American military policeman. His film, and then 
the rest of the 26,000 feet of Nippon Eisasha 
footage, was confiscated by the U.S. General 
Headquarters (GHQ). An order soon arrived banning 
all further filming. It was at this point that 
Lt. Daniel McGovern took charge.

In early September, 1945, less than a month after 
the two bombs fell, Lt. McGovern -- who as a 
member of Hollywood's famed First Motion Picture 
Unit shot some of the footage for William Wyler's 
"Memphis Belle" --- had become one of the first 
Americans to arrive in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He 
was a director with the U.S. Strategic Bombing 
Survey, organized by the Army the previous 
November to study the effects of the air campaign 
against Germany, and now Japan.

As he made plans to shoot the official American 
record, McGovern learned about the seizure of the 
Japanese footage. He felt it wouldbe a waste to 
not take advantage of the newsreel footage, 
noting in a letter to his superiors that "the 
conditions under which it was taken will not be 
duplicated, until another atomic bomb is released 
under combat conditions."

McGovern proposed hiring some of the Japanese 
crew to edit and "caption" the material, so it 
would have "scientific value." He took charge of 
this effort in early January 1946, even as the 
Japanese feared that, when they were done, they 
would never see even a scrap of their film again.

At the same time, McGovern was ordered by General 
Douglas MacArthur on January 1, 1946 to document 
the results of the U.S. air campaign in more than 
20 Japanese cities. His crew would shoot 
exclusively on color film, Kodachrome and 
Technicolor, rarely used at the time even in 
Hollywood. McGovern assembled a crew of eleven, 
including two civilians. Third in command was a 
young lieutenant from New York named Herbert 

The unit left Tokyo in a specially outfitted 
train, and made it to Nagasaki. "Nothing and no 
one had prepared me for the devastation I met 
there," Sussan later told me. "We were the only 
people with adequate ability and equipment to 
make a record of this holocaust. ... I felt that 
if we did not capture this horror on film, no one 
would ever really understand the dimensions of 
what had happened. At that time people back home 
had not seen anything but black and white 
pictures of blasted buildings or a mushroom 

Along with the rest of McGovern's crew, Sussan 
documented the physical effects of the bomb, 
including the ghostly shadows of vaporized 
civilians burned into walls; and, most 
chillingly, dozens of people in hospitals who had 
survived (at least momentarily) and were asked to 
display their burns, scars, and other lingering 
effects for the camera as a warning to the world.

At the Red Cross Hospital in Hiroshima, a 
Japanese physician traced the hideous, bright red 
scars that covered several of the patients ---- 
and then took off his white doctor's shirt and 
displayed his own burns and cuts.

After sticking a camera on a rail car and 
building their own tracks through the ruins, the 
Americans filmed hair-raising tracking shots that 
could have been lifted right from a Hollywood 
movie. Their chief cameramen was a Japanese man, 
Harry Mimura, who in 1943 had shot "Sanshiro 
Sugata," the first feature film by a then-unknown 
Japanese director named Akira Kurosawa.

While all this was going on, the Japanese 
newsreel team was completing its work of editing 
and labeling all their black & white footage into 
a rough cut of just under three hours. At this 
point, several members of Japanese team took the 
courageous step of ordering from the lab a 
duplicate of the footage they had shot before the 
Americans took over the project.

Director Ito later said: "The four of us agreed 
to be ready for ten years of hard labor in the 
case of being discovered." One incomplete, silent 
print would reside in a ceiling until the 
Occupation ended.

The negative of the finished Japanese film, 
nearly 15,000 feet of footage on 19 reels, was 
sent off to the U.S. in early May 1946. The 
Japanese were also ordered to include in this 
shipment all photographs and related material. 
The footage would be labeled SECRET and not 
emerge from the shadows for more than 20 years.

The following month, McGovern was abruptly 
ordered to return to the U.S. He hauled the 
90,000 feet of color footage, on dozens of reels 
in huge footlockers, to the Pentagon and turned 
it over to General Orvil Anderson. Locked up and 
declared top secret, it did not see the light of 
day for more than 30 years.

McGovern would be charged with watching over it. 
Sussan would become obsessed with finding it and 
getting it aired.

Fearful that his film might get "buried," 
McGovern stayed on at the Pentagon as an aide to 
Gen. Anderson, who was fascinated by the footage 
and had no qualms about showing it to the 
American people. "He was that kind of man, he 
didn't give a damn what people thought," McGovern 
told me. "He just wanted the story told."

In an article in his hometown Buffalo Evening 
News, McGovern said that he hoped that "this epic 
will be made available to the American public." 
He planned to call the edited movie "Japan in 

Once they eyeballed the footage, however, most of 
the top brass didn't want it widely shown and the 
Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was also opposed, 
according to McGovern. It nixed a Warner Brothers 
feature film project based on the footage that 
Anderson had negotiated, while paying another 
studio about $80,000 to help make four training 

In a March 3, 1947 memo, Francis E. Rundell, a 
major in the Air Corps, explained that the film 
would be classified "secret." This was determined 
"after study of subject material, especially 
concerning footage taken at Hiroshima and 
Nagasaki. It is believed that the information 
contained in the films should be safeguarded 
until cleared by the Atomic Energy Commission." 
After the training films were completed, the 
status would be raised to "Top Secret" pending 
final classification by the AEC.

The color footage was shipped to the 
Wright-Patterson base in Ohio. McGovern went 
along after being told to put an I.D. number on 
the film "and not let anyone touch it --- and 
that's the way it stayed," as he put it. After 
cataloging it, he placed it in a vault in the 
top-secret area.

"Dan McGovern stayed with the film all the time," 
Sussan later said. "He told me they could not 
release the film [because] what it showed was too 

Sussan wrote a letter to President Truman, 
suggesting that a film based on the footage 
"would vividly and clearly reveal the 
implications and effects of the weapons that 
confront us at this serious moment in our 
history." A reply from a Truman aide threw cold 
water on that idea, saying such a film would lack 
"wide public appeal."

McGovern, meanwhile, continued to "babysit" the 
film, now at Norton Air Force base in California. 
"It was never out of my control," he said later, 
but he couldn't make a film out of it any more 
than Sussan could (but unlike Herb, he at least 
knew where it was).

At the same time, McGovern was looking after the 
Japanese footage. Fearful that it might get lost 
forever in the military/government bureaucracy, 
he secretly made a 16 mm print and deposited it 
in the U.S. Air Force Central Film Depository at 
Wright-Patterson. There it remained out of sight, 
and generally out of mind. (The original negative 
and production materials remain missing, 
according to Abe
Mark Nornes, who teaches at the University of 
Michigan and has researched the Japanese footage 
more than anyone.)

The Japanese government repeatedly asked the U.S. 
for the full footage of what was known in that 
country as "the film of illusion," to no avail. A 
rare article about what it called this 
"sensitive" dispute appeared in The New York 
Times on May 18, 1967, declaring right in its 
headline that the film had been "Suppressed by 
U.S. for
22 Years."

Surprisingly, it revealed that while some of the 
footage was already in Japan (likely a reference 
to the film hidden in the ceiling), the U.S. had 
put a "hold" on the Japanese using it --- even 
though the American control of that country had 
ceased many years earlier.

Despite rising nuclear fears in the 1960s, before 
and after the Cuban Missile Crisis, few in the 
U.S. challenged the consensus view that dropping 
the bomb on two Japanese cities was necessary. 
The United States maintained its "first-use" 
nuclear policy: Under certain circumstances it 
would strike first with the bomb and ask 
questions later. In other words, there was no 
real taboo against using the bomb. This notion of 
acceptability had started with Hiroshima. A firm 
line against using nuclear weapons had been drawn 
--- in the sand. The U.S., in fact, had 
threatened to use nuclear weapons during the 
Cuban Missile Crisis and on other occasions.

On Sept. 12, 1967, the Air Force transferred the 
Japanese footage to the National Archives Audio 
Visual Branch in Washington, with the film "not 
to be released without approval of DOD 
(Department of Defense)."

Then, one morning in the summer of 1968, Erik 
Barnouw, author of landmark histories of film and 
broadcasting, opened his mail to discover a 
clipping from a Tokyo newspaper sent by a friend. 
It indicated that the United States had finally 
shipped to Japan a copy of black & white newsreel 
footage shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The 
Japanese had negotiated with the State Department 
for its

From the Pentagon, Barnouw learned in 1968 that 
the original nitrate film had been quietly turned 
over to the National Archives, so he went to take 
a look. Soon Barnouw realized that, despite its 
marginal film quality, "enough of the footage was 
unforgettable in its implications, and historic 
in its importance, to warrant duplicating all of 
it," he later wrote.

Attempting to create a subtle, quiet, even 
poetic, black and white film, he and his 
associates cut it from 160 to 16 minutes, with a 
montage of human effects clustered near the end 
for impact. Barnouw arranged a screening at the 
Museum of Modern Art in New York, and invited the 
press. A throng turned out and sat in respectful 
silence at its finish.

(One can only imagine what impact the color 
footage with many more human effects would have 
had.) "Hiroshima-Nagasaki 1945" proved to be a 
sketchy but quite moving document of the 
aftermath of the bombing, captured in grainy but 
often startling black and white images: shadows 
of objects or people burned into walls, ruins of 
schools, miles of razed landscape viewed from the 
roof of a building.

In the weeks ahead, however, none of the (then) 
three TV networks expressed interest in airing 
it. "Only NBC thought it might use the film," 
Barnouw later wrote, "if it could find a 'news 
hook.' We dared not speculate what kind of event 
this might call for."

But then an article appeared in Parade magazine, and an editorial in the
Boston Globe blasted the networks, saying that 
everyone in the country should see this film: 
"Television has brought the sight of war into 
America's sitting rooms from Vietnam. Surely it 
can find 16 minutes of prime time to show 
Americans what the first A-bombs, puny by today's 
weapons, did to people and property 25 years ago."

This at last pushed public television into the 
void. What was then called National Educational 
Television (NET) agreed to show the documentary 
on August 3, 1970, to coincide with the 25th 
anniversary of dropping the bomb. "I feel that 
classifying all of this filmed material was a 
misuse of the secrecy system since none of it had 
any military or national security aspect at all," 
Barnouw told me. "The reason must have been--that 
if the public had seen it and Congressmen had 
seen it --- it would have been much harder to 
appropriate money for more bombs."

About a decade later, by pure chance, Herb Sussan 
would spark the emergence of the American 
footage, ending its decades in the dark.

In the mid-1970s, Japanese antinuclear activists, 
led by a Tokyo teacher named Tsutomu Iwakura, 
discovered that few pictures of the aftermath of 
the atomic bombings existed in their country. 
Many had been seized by the U.S. military after 
the war, they learned, and taken out of Japan. 
The Japanese had as little visual exposure to the 
true effects of the bomb as most Americans. 
Activists managed to
track down hundreds of pictures in archives and 
private collections and published them in a 
popular book. In 1979 they mounted an exhibit at 
the United Nations in New York.

There, by chance, Iwakura met Sussan, who told 
him about the U.S. military footage.

Iwakura made a few calls and found that the color 
footage, recently declassified, might be at the 
National Archives. A trip to Washington, D.C. 
verified this. He found eighty reels of film, 
labeled #342 USAF, with the reels numbered 11000 
to 11079. About one-fifth of the footage covered 
the atomic cities. According to a shot list, reel 
#11010 included, for example: "School, deaf and 
dumb, blast effect, damaged ... Commercial school 
demolished ... School, engineering, demolished. 
... School, Shirayama elementary, demolished, 
blast effect ... Tenements, demolished."

The film had been quietly declassified a few 
years earlier, but no one in the outside world 
knew it. An archivist there told me at the time, 
"If no one knows about the film to ask forit, 
it's as closed as when it was classified."

Eventually 200,000 Japanese citizens contributed 
half a million dollars and Iwakura was able to 
buy the film. He then traveled around Japan 
filming survivors who had posed for Sussan and 
McGovern in 1946. Iwakura quickly completed a 
documentary called "Prophecy" and in late spring 
1982 arranged for a New York premiere.

That fall a small part of the McGovern/Sussan 
footage turned up for the first time in an 
American film, one of the sensations of York Film 
Festival, called "Dark Circle." It's co-director, 
Chris Beaver, told me, "No wonder the government 
didn't want us to see it. I think they didn't 
want Americans to see themselves in that picture. 
It's one thing to know about that and another 
thing to see it."

Despite this exposure, not a single story had yet 
appeared in an American newspaper about the 
shooting of the footage, its suppression or 
release. And Sussan was now ill with a form of 
lymphoma doctors had found in soldiers exposed to 
radiation in atomic tests during the 1950s --- or 
in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In late 1982, editing Nuclear Times, I met Sussan 
and Erik Barnouw --- and talked on several 
occasions with Daniel McGovern, out in 
Northridge, California. "It would make a fine 
documentary even today," McGovern said of the 
color footage. "Wouldn't it be wonderful to have 
a movie of the burning of Atlanta?"

After he hauled the footage back to the Pentagon, 
McGovern said, he was told that under no 
circumstances would the footage be released for 
outside use. "They were fearful of it being 
circulated,"McGovern said. He confirmed that the 
color footage, like the black and white, had been 
declassified over time, taking it from top secret 
to "for public release" (but only if the public 
knew about it and asked for it).

Still, the question of precisely why the footage 
remained secret for so long lingered. Here 
McGovern added his considerable voice. "The main 
reason it was classified was...because of the 
horror, the devastation," he said. "The medical 
effects were pretty gory. ... The attitude was: 
do not show any medical effects. Don't make 
people sick."

But who was behind this? "I always had the 
sense," McGovern answered, "that people in the 
AEC were sorry they had dropped the bomb. The Air 
Force --- it was also sorry. I was told by people 
in the Pentagon that they didn't want those 
images out because they showed effects on man, 
woman and child. But the AEC, they were the ones 
that stopped it from coming out. They had power 
of God over everybody," he declared. "If it had 
anything to do with nukes, they had to see it. 
They were the ones who destroyed a lot of film 
and pictures of the first U.S. nuclear tests 
after the war."

Even so, McGovern believed, his footage might 
have surfaced "if someone had grabbed the ball 
and run with it but the AEC did not want it 

As "Dark Circle" director Chris Beaver had said, 
"With the government trying to sell the public on 
a new civil defense program and Reagan arguing 
that a nuclear war is survivable, this footage 
could be awfully bad publicity."

In the summer of 1984, I made my own pilgrimage 
to the atomic cities, to walk in the footsteps of 
Dan McGovern and Herb Sussan, and meet some of 
the people they filmed in 1946. By then, the 
McGovern/ Sussan footage had turned up in several 
new documentaries. On September 2, 1985, however, 
Herb Sussan passed away. His final request to his 
children: Would they scatter his ashes at ground 
zero in Hiroshima?

In the mid-1990s, researching Hiroshima in 
America, a book I would write with Robert Jay 
Lifton, I discovered the deeper context for 
suppression of the U.S. Army film: it was part of 
a broad effort to suppress a wide range of 
material related to the atomic bombings, 
including photographs, newspaper reports on 
radiation effects, information about the decision 
to drop the bomb, even a Hollywood movie.

The 50th anniversary of the bombing drew 
extensive print and television coverage --- and 
wide use of excerpts from the McGovern/Sussan 
footage --- but no strong shift in American 
attitudes on the use of the bomb.

Then, in 2003, as adviser to a documentary film, 
"Original Child Bomb," I urged director Carey 
Schonegevel to draw on the atomic footage as much 
as possible. She not only did so but also 
obtained from McGovern's son copies of home 
movies he had shot in Japan while shooting the 
official film.

"Original Child Bomb" went on to debut at the 
2004 Tribeca Film Festival, win a major 
documentary award, and this week, on August 6 and 
7, it will debut on the Sundance cable channel. 
After 60 years at least a small portion of that 
footage will finally reach part of the American 
public in the unflinching and powerful form its
creators intended.

Only then will the Americans who see it be able 
to fully judge for themselves what McGovern and 
Sussan were trying to accomplish in shooting the 
film, why the authorities felt they had to 
suppress it, and what impact their footage, if 
widely aired, might have had on the nuclear arms 
race --- and the nuclear
proliferation that plagues, and endangers, us today.


Los Angeles Times
August 5, 2005

Sixty years ago tomorrow, an atomic bomb was 
dropped without warning on the center of the 
Japanese city of Hiroshima.  One hundred and 
forty thousand people were killed, more than 95% 
of them women and children and other 
noncombatants.  At least half of the victims died 
of radiation poisoning over the next few months. 
Three days after Hiroshima was obliterated, the 
city of Nagasaki suffered a similar fate.

The magnitude of death was enormous, but on 
August 14, 1945 --- just five days after the 
Nagasaki bombing --- Radio Tokyo announced that 
the Japanese emperor had accepted the U.S. terms 
for surrender.  To many Americans at the time, 
and still for many today, it seemed clear that 
the bomb had ended the war, even "saving" a 
million lives that might have been lost if the 
U.S. had been required to invade mainland Japan.

This powerful narrative took root quickly and is 
now deeply embedded in our historical sense of 
who we are as a nation. A decade ago, on the 50th 
anniversary, this narrative was reinforced in an 
exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution on the 
Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first bomb. 
The exhibit, which had been the subject of a 
bruising political battle, presented nearly 4 
million Americans with an officially sanctioned 
view of the atomic bombings that again portrayed 
them as a necessary act in a just war.

But although patriotically correct, the exhibit 
and the narrative on which it was based were 
historically inaccurate. For one thing, the 
Smithsonian downplayed the casualties, saying 
only that the bombs "caused many tens of 
thousands of deaths" and that Hiroshima was "a 
definite military target."

Americans were also told that use of the bombs 
"led to the immediate surrender of Japan and made 
unnecessary the planned invasion of the Japanese 
home islands." But it's not that straightforward. 
As Tsuyoshi Hasegawa has shown definitively in 
his new book, Racing the Enemy --- and many other 
historians have long argued --- it was the Soviet 
Union's entry into the Pacific war on August 8, 
two days after the Hiroshima bombing, that 
provided the final "shock" that led to Japan's 

The Enola Gay exhibit also repeated such outright 
lies as the assertion that "special leaflets were 
dropped on Japanese cities" warning civilians to 
evacuate. The fact is that atomic bomb warning 
leaflets were dropped on Japanese cities, but 
only after Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been 

The hard truth is that the atomic bombings were 
unnecessary. A million lives were not saved. 
Indeed, McGeorge Bundy, the man who first 
popularized this figure, later confessed that he 
had pulled it out of thin air in order to justify 
the bombings in a 1947 Harper's magazine essay he 
had ghostwritten for Secretary of War Henry L. 

The bomb was dropped, as J. Robert Oppenheimer, 
scientific director of the Manhattan Project, 
said in November 1945, on "an essentially 
defeated enemy." President Truman and his closest 
advisor, Secretary of State James Byrnes, quite 
plainly used it primarily to prevent the Soviets 
from sharing in the occupation of Japan. And they 
used it on August 6 even though they had agreed 
among themselves as they returned home from the 
Potsdam Conference on Aug. 3 that the Japanese 
were looking for peace.

These unpleasant historical facts were censored 
from the 1995 Smithsonian exhibit, an action that 
should trouble every American. When a government 
substitutes an officially sanctioned view for 
publicly debated history, democracy is 
diminished. Today, in the post-September 11 era, 
it is critically important that the U.S. face the 
truth about the atomic bomb.

For one thing, the myths surrounding Hiroshima 
have made it possible for our defense 
establishment to argue that atomic bombs are 
legitimate weapons that belong in a democracy's 
arsenal. But if, as Oppenheimer said, "they are 
weapons of aggression, of surprise and of 
terror," how can a democracy rely on such weapons?

Oppenheimer understood very soon after Hiroshima 
that these weapons would ultimately threaten our 
very survival.

Presciently, he even warned us against what is 
now our worst national nightmare --- and Osama 
bin Laden's frequently voiced dream --- an atomic 
suitcase bomb smuggled into an American city: "Of 
course it could be done," Oppenheimer told a 
Senate committee, "and people could destroy New 

Ironically, Hiroshima's myths are now motivating 
our enemies to attack us with the very weapon we 
invented. Bin Laden repeatedly refers to 
Hiroshima in his rambling speeches. It was, he 
believes, the atomic bombings that shocked the 
Japanese imperial government into an early 
surrender --- and, he says, he is planning an 
atomic attack on the U.S. that will similarly 
shock us into retreating from the Mideast.

Finally, Hiroshima's myths have gradually given 
rise to an American unilateralism born of atomic 

Oppenheimer warned against this "sleazy sense of 
omnipotence." He observed that "if you approach 
the problem and say, 'We know what is right and 
we would like to use the atomic bomb to persuade 
you to agree with us,' then you are in a very 
weak position and you will not succeed…. You will 
find yourselves attempting by force of arms to 
prevent a disaster."


Seattle Post-Intelligencer
August 8, 2005

No one at Hanford Engineer Works knew they were making history.

There were signs, but all told them to keep 
quiet. They were told they were serving their 
country and furthering the war effort.

But they were curious.

Why were they --- thousands of men and women --- 
converting an isolated Central Washington farming 
community into a bustling industrial complex, 
virtually overnight? Where were trucks and 
railcars filled with tons of precious steel and 
aluminum going? Why did they have to wear 
radiation meters? What was so top secret?

The answer came on August 6, 1945. With the 
bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, the people of 
Hanford and Richland finally discovered what they 
had been working on for two years: the Manhattan 
Project's atomic bombs.

Later, those workers would find out it was their 
"Fat Man" bomb that devastated Nagasaki on August 
9, 1945. Both bombs led to the deaths of hundreds 
of thousands of people through the initial blasts 
and subsequent radiation.

On August 14, 1945, headlines in a Richland 
newspaper blared: "PEACE! OUR BOMB CLINCHED IT!" 
in announcing the Japanese surrender.

Employees of the Hanford Engineer Works believed 
--- and still believe --- the end of the war 
justified the means. As part of the massive work 
force that made up the world's first plutonium 
producing plant, they carried the firm conviction 
that hundreds of thousands more would have 
perished had the bombs not been detonated. They 
also faced the stigma of being labeled as 
warmongers, or worse.

"It scared us to think of what we had made," said 
Larry Denton, 80 of Kennewick, about four hours 
east of Seattle. "Everyone was dubious as to 
whether it should have been done. But when you 
piece together all the American lives that would 
have been lost if we hadn't dropped the second 
bomb, I feel like it was worth it."

Denton was 18 when he followed his father --- a 
World War I Marine --- to Hanford to work on the 
project in September 1943. The younger Denton was 
4F and denied military service. His older brother 
was stationed in England with the Air Corps; 
buddies from high school were also fighting 
abroad. The Idaho lumberjack started as a 
shipping clerk at Hanford, sharing a tent with 
three other men. He retired in 1987 as a manager 
of maintenance surveillance of all the reactors.

"I was destined to find something else where I could be used," Denton said.

Denton and his co-workers lived in a world in 
which the war was the No.1 priority. Rationing 
limited food and gas, newsreels played in-between 
feature films and it seemed like everyone had a 
loved one fighting Axis troops halfway across the 
globe or knew a boy who hadn't come home. By 
August 1945, more than 400,000 U.S. soldiers had 
been killed.

Patriotism was so strong that all 51,000 workers 
at Hanford donated a day's wages --- $300,000 --- 
to purchase the aptly named "Day's Pay" B-17 
Seattle-built bomber for the war effort.

While the country celebrated the end of the war 
in Europe with V-E Day on May 8, 1945, reminders 
of the combat raging in the Pacific were 

Pearl Harbor had become lodged in the American 
psyche. Returning soldiers brought home stories 
of Japanese kamikaze pilots, hand-to-hand combat 
in the Pacific islands and the Bataan Death 
March. Hard-fought victories at Guadalcanal and 
Iwo Jima came at the cost of thousands of 
American lives, while stories circulated about 
how Japanese soldiers and civilians chose suicide 
rather than surrender. The idea that U.S. forces 
might have to invade Japan gained momentum. Under 
these conditions, Hanford support for President 
Truman's decision was nearly unanimous.

"They regret that Pearl Harbor was attacked. They 
regret that Hitler and Tojo and Mussolini came to 
power and ruined their youthful times by pulling 
them into war, absences from home, terror and 
exhaustion. They regret that they had to learn to 
kill, and to be thrust into terrible situations 
in combat and in manufacturing armaments," said 
Michele Gerber, a Richland-based historian and 
president of the B Reactor Museum Association, 
which is trying to preserve the world's first 
nuclear reactor in Hanford. "But the bombings 
they do not regret. They believe that the 
bombings ended all of this horror."

The U.S. government contracted DuPont to oversee 
the Hanford project, so employees came from all 
over the country, many of them employed by DuPont 
or its subsidiaries.

Hanford appealed to them because of the steady 
work (many still felt the sting of the 
Depression), plentiful subsidized meals, cheap 
housing and the chance to contribute to the war 
effort. The average age of the mostly male work 
force was 40 and those with families found the 
living camp at Hanford and the burgeoning town of 
Richland provided for all their needs: schools, 
all kinds of stores, post offices, fire stations, 
dog pounds, barber/beauty shops and even movie 

Secrecy was sacrosanct. Signs posted throughout 
the facilities urged workers to shush. Husbands 
did not talk to their wives about work. 
Undercover agents looked out for loose lips. Most 
of the workers were isolated in their specific 
tasks; few could conceive of all the elements 
that went into building the atomic bomb.

But Roger Rohrbacher, 85, of Kennewick, said 
hints were all over the place. As a chemist and 
physicist -- jokingly called "peons with Ph.D's" 
-- he probably had an advantage over others. He 
noticed restricted supplies like aluminum and 
steel pouring into Hanford, and the presence of 
uranium was a dead giveaway.

Dee McCullough, 91, of Richland was fixing radios 
and movie projectors when he got to Hanford in 
January 1944. The Utah native was 30, a father of 
three and told his choice was either the 
Manhattan Project or the Army.

He became an instrument technician, installing 
and testing meters that measured neutron flux. He 
remembers wearing "pencils" --- radiation 
detectors. Later, he assisted the initial startup 
of B Reactor with Enrico Fermi, a Nobel 
Prize-winning physicist and the leader of one of 
the Manhattan Project teams whose experiments led 
to in the first controlled nuclear chain reaction.

"Some people criticize us for making the bomb and 
killing so many people, but they don't realize 
how many people we saved," McCullough said. 
"Armies were ready to go to Japan."

Hanford's role in ending the war remains part of 
local lore in Richland and the surrounding area, 
where being "Proud of the Cloud" is a common 
saying and alums from Richland High School 
bristle at changing the school's mascot: The 

Shirley Gilson Schiller (Bomber class of 1947) of 
Tacoma was 14 when she followed her parents to 
Hanford. "We were really thrilled and happy to 
hear the war was over, but it was a terrible way 
to end it. We felt bad about that, but we 
rejoiced that more of our own people didn't have 
to die."

Virginia Miller, 74, of Richland (Bomber '49) 
still beams with pride when she talks about her 
father, Harry Miller, a works engineer who 
arrived in Hanford in 1943.

Miller said the children of those Hanford workers 
were always aware of their shared heritage.

"I'm very proud of living in history," Miller said. "We were making history."

Hanford Engineer Works (1943-45)

* Construction completed over 30 months at a cost of $230 million.
* 554 buildings spread over 640 square miles; 158 miles of railroad.
* 51,000 workers (only 4,000 women); seven-day workweeks.
* In one meal, employees consumed 2,500 pounds of 
pot roast; 18,000 pork chops; 900 pies; and 5,000 
heads of lettuce.
* Three reactors built, including B Reactor, the 
world's first full-scale nuclear reactor.

For more information: or

* "Fat Man" bomb detonated at Nagasaki Aug. 9, 1945
* Weight: more than 10,000 pounds; a similar bomb is shown above.
* It was an implosion type of bomb with a 
plutonium core about the size of a tennis ball 
surrounded by more than 5,000 pounds of high 
* Equivalent to a little more than 20,000 tons of TNT.


Washington Post
August 7, 2005

Sixty years ago today, the world went black for 
Keijiro Matsushima, then a 16-year-old Hiroshima 
schoolboy. He vividly recalled an airplane he now 
knows was the Enola Gay shimmering in the sky 
like a "flying Popsicle" before the great flash 
from the atomic bomb vaporized tens of thousands 
and left a ghostly parade of "the half-living 
covered in ash and burns" to die in the months 

Since those days, Matsushima said he has felt a 
"deep if troubled" connection to this Pacific 
island, about the size of Manhattan, that housed 
the runways and staging area for the U.S. atomic 
strikes. The same can be said for Michael Kuryla, 
79. He is among the few remaining survivors of 
the USS Indianapolis, sunk on July 30, 1945, by a 
Japanese submarine after delivering parts of the 
bomb to Tinian. Kuryla spent five days adrift 
before being rescued, watching scores of his 
fellow crewmen drown while others were devoured 
by sharks.

On opposite sides of the fateful mushroom cloud, 
Matsushima and Kuryla are bound by invisible 
links that drew them and 200 others this week to 
an extraordinary and controversial commemoration 
here. Few questions in modern history remain more 
divisive than whether the U.S. bombings of 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified. Six 
decades after the war, and with their countries 
now the closest of allies, no two groups remain 
more polarized on the issue than U.S. Pacific war 
veterans and Japanese survivors of the attacks.

At what most participants described as the last 
major gathering at this historic site for a 
vanishing generation of World War II vets, the 
local organizers did the once-unthinkable --- 
they brought the two sides together.

For some, like Kuryla, who raptly listened to 
Matsushima's accounts, the event became the final 
act of cleansing of a long-harbored hatred. The 
stocky Chicago resident staunchly believes that 
dropping the bombs saved countless lives by 
forcing Japan's early surrender. He gradually 
came to forgive, he said. And after hearing 
Matsushima's recollections in a conference room, 
Kuryla stood up in tears to offer his hand in 

"Yes, it was a horrible thing," Kuryla said. "You 
suffered the bomb effects, and I wish we didn't 
have to do it. We feel sorry about that. Believe 
me. But it was war."

"I did not come here to blame," said Matsushima, 
a slight man with a strong command of English. 
"You veterans did your job. But at the same time, 
what you dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was 
very horrible. Now, if possible, please, just a 
drop of your tears, and a prayer that this never 
happens again."

The two men then embraced, taking one step toward 
a reconciliation that -- like the ultimate 
question of the bombings itself --- is not that 
simple. The unprecedented attempt had successes 
and failures. Most here reached their limits at 
agreeing to disagree.

The Japanese remain on a campaign to force the 
world --- and Americans in particular --- to 
remember and reflect on the horror of those 
bombings. But many no longer see merit in 
discussing it. Dozens of American veterans of the 
Pacific theater chose not to attend the event, 
including the surviving crew members of the Enola 
Gay and Bock's Car, which delivered the August 9, 
1945, bomb on Nagasaki. Some cited ill health.

Others bitterly opposed the mayor of Tinian's 
proposal to turn this commemoration into a "peace 
conference" by inviting the Japanese delegation. 
It included Japanese veterans who fought here and 
on nearby Saipan --- Tinian's sister island in 
the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 

Those who did come, including 38 U.S. vets 
involved in some way with the atomic bomb 
missions, mostly welcomed the chance to engage 
the Japanese. But U.S. military authorities did 
not attend. One poll by a Saipan newspaper 
indicated that only one in three island residents 
supported the event, some claiming it would 
dishonor the memory of American veterans.

"This was not easy for us to pull off --- a lot 
of people were against this idea," confessed 
Francisco M. Borja, mayor of Tinian, a lush 
island with 4,500 residents. His mission is to 
create a museum here "that will tell both sides" 
of the atomic legacy, he said.

That legacy remains the last major sore spot in 
the extraordinary peacetime relationship of the 
United States and Japan. As the 60th anniversary 
of World War II's end in the Pacific is marked on 
August 15, Japan is still struggling to mend 
fences with China and South Korea over charges 
that the Japanese have yet to fully atone for 
wartime atrocities.

In stark contrast, the United States and Japan 
are jointly developing a missile defense system 
and beefing up strategic cooperation with the 
long-term goal of serving as a counterbalance to 
China's growing might. Japan, which has embraced 
pacifism since the bombings, now seeks to play a 
major role on the world stage. The government is 
moving toward changing its constitution, which 
renounces war, and hopes to gain a permanent seat 
on the United Nation Security Council.

Yet the atomic bombs --- which killed about 
140,000 in Hiroshima and about 80,000 in Nagasaki 
while leaving tens of thousands survivors maimed 
or plagued by radiation sickness --- still haunt 
the United States and Japan. A joint poll last 
month by the Associated Press and Japan's Kyodo 
News Service found 75% of Japanese still feel the 
bombings were unnecessary, while 68% of Americans 
called them unavoidable.

Matsushima said many in Hiroshima were also 
opposed to his visit. But he said he thought it 
was a chance to share his story with American 
vets and "see this place in honor of the bomb's 

He and Kiyoshi Nishida, a 76-year-old Nagasaki 
survivor, were driven by event organizers to the 
now-overgrown runways where the U.S. B-29s 
carrying the bombs took off. They stoically 
studied the condition and quality of what in 1945 
was the world's largest airfield. But at the now 
glass-encased pits that had stored Little Boy, 
the bomb that hit Hiroshima, and Fat Man, which 
hit Nagasaki, their reserve shattered.

"So this is where it came from. Somehow, I am 
glad to have seen it with my own eyes," 
Matsushima said, softly crying and clutching a 
bracelet of wooden Buddhist prayer beads. "This 
is what human did. So many dead. Maybe they were 
doing their jobs, but for us, it was hell."

Matsushima later participated in a panel 
discussion with one of the best-known American 
vets here, Harold Agnew, 84, who measured the 
yield of the Hiroshima bomb while in flight 
alongside the Enola Gay. During the 1970s, he was 
director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, 
where the bombs were developed.

"So, you saw the mushroom cloud. I was underneath it," Matsushima said.

"Yes, you're lucky to be here," Agnew said.

Agnew nodded in agreement when Matsushima seemed 
to concede that the bomb, at least, had helped 
shorten the war. Last month, Agnew was flown by a 
Tokyo television station to Hiroshima, where he 
held a discussion with bomb survivors who had 
demanded an apology. Agnew, a tall, blunt man, 
had stood up in disgust and proclaimed "Remember 
Pearl Harbor!" The discussion abruptly ended.

"There is nothing to apologize for," Agnew later 
said in an interview. "This is exactly why the 
Chinese are still upset with them. Many Japanese 
still refuse to take responsibility for what they 
did, for starting that war. They can point at us. 
But believe me, they did some awful bad things. 
We saved Japanese lives with those bombs -- an 
invasion would have been worse."

Such tensions rarely flared at this reunion, 
perhaps because the organizers divided the 
Japanese and Americans into different dining 
times and distinct tours. There were carefully 
arranged encounters between both sides -- but 
many impromptu ones, too.

Fumiyaki Kajiya, 66, who saw his three-year-old 
sister impaled by searing steel in Hiroshima, was 
visiting the pit where Little Boy was stored when 
he came across Leon Smith, the weapon's test 
officer who had been in charge of maintaining the 
bomb in Tinian. The men struck up a conversation 
through interpreters about the horror of the 
victims, the American rationale for dropping the 
bomb, and the paradox of Japan's ongoing 
protection under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. 
Beside the atomic pit, the two shook hands.

"This is not something that can be resolved or 
agreed upon," Kajiya said. "But I feel that we've 
achieved something very important. We've finally 
started talking."

Special correspondent Taeko Kawamura contributed to this report


August 6, 2005

Hiroshima marked the 60th anniversary of the 
first atomic bomb attack Saturday with prayers 
and water for the dead and a call by the mayor 
for nuclear powers to abandon their arsenals and 
stop "jeopardizing human survival."

At 8:15 a.m., the instant of the blast, the 
city's trolleys stopped and more than 55,000 
people at Peace Memorial Park observed a moment 
of silence that was broken only by the ringing of 
a bronze bell.

A flock of doves was released into the sky. Then 
wreaths and ladles of water --- symbolizing the 
suffering of those who died in the atomic inferno 
--- were offered at a simple, arch-shaped stone 
monument at the center of the park.

Outside the nearby A-Bomb Dome, one of the few 
buildings left standing after the blast, peace 
activists held a "die-in" --- falling to the 
ground to dramatize the toll from a bombing that 
turned life to death for more than 140,000 and 
forever changed the face of war.

Thousands of paper lanterns symbolizing the souls 
of the dead were to be floated in a river next to 
the park.

Fumie Yoshida was just 16 when Hiroshima was 
bombed. She survived but lost her father, brother 
and sister. On Saturday, she chose not to attend 
the formal memorial, but paid her respects 
privately with a small group of friends in the 
peace park.

"My father's remains have never been found," she 
said. "Those of us who went through this all know 
that we must never repeat this tragedy. But I 
think many Japanese today are forgetting."

In a "Peace Declaration," Hiroshima's outspoken 
Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba vowed to never allow a 
repeat of the tragedy and gave an impassioned 
plea for the abolition of nuclear weapons, saying 
the United States, Russia and other members of 
the nuclear club are "jeopardizing human 

"Many people around the world have succumbed to 
the feeling that there is nothing we can do," he 
said. "Within the United Nations, nuclear club 
members use their veto power to override the 
global majority and pursue their selfish 

In a more subdued speech, Prime Minister 
Junichiro Koizumi offered condolences for the 

"I offer deep prayers from my heart to those who 
were killed," he said, vowing that Japan would be 
a leader in the international movement against 
nuclear proliferation.

Though Hiroshima has risen from the rubble to 
become a thriving city of 3 million, most of whom 
were born after the war, the anniversary 
underscores its ongoing tragedy.

Officials estimate that about 140,000 people were 
killed instantly or died within a few months 
after the Enola Gay dropped its deadly payload 
over the city, which then had a population of 
about 350,000.

Three days later, another U.S. bomber, Bock's 
Car, dropped a plutonium bomb on the Japanese 
city of Nagasaki, killing about 80,000 people. 
Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, ending 
World War II.

Including those initially listed as missing or 
who died afterward from a loosely defined set of 
bomb-related ailments, including cancers, 
Hiroshima officials now put the total number of 
dead in this city alone at 242,437.

This year, 5,373 more names were added to the list.

In central London, more than 200 anti-nuclear 
activists and others gathered at Tavistock 
Square, where a cherry tree was planted in 1967 
in memory of the victims of the Hiroshima bombing.

Jeremy Corbyn, a lawmaker in the governing Labour 
Party and vocal anti-war campaigner, urged people 
to remember the "unique horror" of what happened 
in 1945.


Seattle Post-Intelligencer Columnist
August 4, 2005

On Saturday, we will observe the 60th anniversary 
of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Seattle, in 
1945 as now, was enjoying glorious summer 
weather. After Hiroshima, and the strike three 
days later against Nagasaki, sunsets here and 
across the Pacific became vividly red.

War in Europe had ended, but war with Japan had 
not. Many local families' kids had been killed or 
wounded in the fierce Okinawa and Iwo Jima 
battles just completed. Heavy bombing raids over 
Japan were exacting a frightful toll. Yet 
Japanese resistance remained stiff. It generally 
was estimated that a million casualties would 
result when U.S. and allied troops mounted an 
invasion of the Japanese homeland.

Only a few in the U.S. government and scientific 
communities knew nuclear weapons were being 
developed. Thousands were laboring at the secret 
Hanford Works in the Eastern Washington desert. 
President Harry Truman, when he assumed office in 
April 1945, after President Franklin Roosevelt's 
death, was briefed for the first time on the 
weapons and their potential.

Three years ago I wrote a column questioning the 
rightness of Truman's decision to drop nuclear 
weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most readers 
responding argued that Truman had no choice. A 
land invasion of Japan would have taken far more 
lives. The use of the bombs shortened and ended 
the war.

Yet there were other options. The prevailing 
mind-set prevented their serious discussion at 
the time.

A blockade of the home islands would have cut off 
Japan's depleted petroleum and other vital 
supplies and ended its war-making capability. A 
nuclear weapon dropped on a lightly inhabited 
northern Japanese island could have demonstrated 
dramatically to Emperor Hirohito and his 
government the weapons' potential for destruction 
and led to peace negotiations.

There also is a legitimate question as to why the 
Nagasaki bomb was dropped so soon after the one 
on Hiroshima. The Japanese government needed time 
after the first bomb to absorb its implications 
and reach an obvious decision to sue for peace. 
The Nagasaki strike simply took additional lives 
without reason. Some 120,000 mostly civilian 
lives were claimed immediately in the two 
strikes. A larger number died later, sometimes 
years later, from the effects of radiation.

The main thrust of U.S. thinking was that nuclear 
weapons were like other weapons --- only more 
powerful. During the Cold War period, school kids 
practiced "duck-and-cover" drills in anticipation 
of Soviet nuclear attacks on the United States. 
Gen. Douglas MacArthur urged use of nuclear 
weapons against North Korean and Chinese targets 
in the Korean War. Vice President Richard Nixon 
unsuccessfully lobbied President Eisenhower for 
their use to bail out French colonial forces at 
the decisive Indochinese battle of Dienbienphu.

Doing reserve duty as an Army intelligence 
analyst, I helped prepare a1960 report on the 
anticipated effects of nuclear attacks on U.S. 
regions and metropolitan areas. It found that 
only Oregon and northern Maine would be spared 
from both blast and lethal fallout. Neither 
contained a target or would be swept by 
prevailing radioactive winds. Post-attack aerial 
photos of Seattle would have resembled those of 

Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy 
in his 1960 campaign charged the Eisenhower 
administration with dereliction in allowing 
Soviet ICBM production to exceed our own. (As it 
turned out, this "missile gap" charge was false.) 
Then, in 1961, while serving at the Pentagon 
during the Berlin Crisis --- when the Soviet 
Union erected a wall between East and West Berlin 
--- I took part in planning based on the 
presumption that a Soviet/Warsaw Pact invasion of 
Western Europe could be stopped only with 
tactical nuclear weapons. Use of the weapons 
would have devastated Germany. It also could have 
led to an exchange of intercontinental ballistic 
missiles. The Cuban Missile Crisis, in 1962, 
again almost resulted in use of nuclear weapons.

Since those years, we have been leaders in trying 
to limit nuclear weapons proliferation and risk. 
Yet, because technology cannot be contained, 
additional countries continue to acquire the 
weapons. Most of the new and aspiring nuclear 
powers --- countries such as North Korea and Iran 
--- hold the view that we once held: Namely, that 
nukes are like other weapons, only more powerful. 
Al-Qaida and other groups want them not only to 
terrorize the West but to exert leverage on 
behalf of their political aims.

There is menacing news: Sixty years into the 
nuclear age, we and others not only have been 
left with self-inflicted wounds of nuclear 
contamination, we also must face the reality that 
the nuclear-weapons genie is not in its bottle, 
after all. The danger that nuclear weapons will 
be used is again growing, not receding.

Our conventional bombing attacks on Japan killed 
far more civilians in 1945 than did the Hiroshima 
and Nagasaki bombs. Yet, in deciding to use them, 
we set in motion later consequences not yet fully 
seen. Saturday will be not be a time for 

Ted Van Dyk has been involved in national policy and politics since 1960