May 27, 2008

Obama Touts Los Alamos Nat'l Laboratory's Potential; Praises for Gov. Richardson

Steve Terrell--The Santa Fe New Mexican

Los Alamos National Laboratory would remain a weapons-research facility under a Barack Obama administration, Obama said Monday. But if he's elected, LANL also would be at the forefront of research for technology to aide in nuclear nonproliferation.

Obama, who was in Las Cruces for a Memorial Day ceremony, was asked in a phone interview whether he would keep LANL as a weapons research facility. "Absolutely," he replied.

"Los Alamos has been one of our premier research facilities, and we need to do more research in this area, in part because we've got to deal with the critical issues of nonproliferation," the Democratic contender said.

Obama said he would put a priority on developing technology to detect "loose," unaccounted-for nuclear material. He also said there needs to be a technology to ensure nuclear materials designed for civilian purposes in countries that don't currently have nuclear weapons are not turned into bombs.

"There's a whole host of areas that involve significant research and development, and Los Alamos needs to be at the forefront of that," Obama said.

Nancy Ambrosiano, a LANL spokeswoman, said Monday that the lab has a Nuclear Nonproliferation Division that's more than a decade old and is in fact working on some of the projects Obama advocates.

Democrats in recent years have advocated making nonproliferation research a higher priority.

The candidate spoke to a group of veterans and their families in Las Cruces at an event that was closed to the public but open to reporters.

He said the government should give the same priority to building a 21st century veterans administration that it does to building a 21st century military. The country should have "zero tolerance for veterans sleeping on our streets," Obama said. He also said protesting at military funerals should be banned. This was in a reference to a rabidly anti-gay church in Kansas that has become infamous for protesting at the funerals of those who died in Iraq, claiming their deaths are God's punishment for allowing homosexuality.

Obama in the interview had praise for Gov. Bill Richardson, who, several weeks after folding his own presidential campaign, endorsed Obama's White House bid. "I think Bill Richardson's one of the best public servants we have in American life."

Asked whether Richardson was on his short list for vice president or another top-level job in an Obama administration, the senator from Illinois replied, "I am not discussing vice presidential choices at this point because I haven't locked down the nomination yet. But I think Bill Richardson would be on anybody's short list for top assignments in the federal government. Now, he may decide he prefers being governor of the state of New Mexico. He loves this state and he loves the people. But he's an outstanding public servant and I'm very proud to have his support."

Recently Richardson, appearing on Fox News, was asked about Obama's statements he would meet with governments not friendly with the U.S.. Richardson pointed out he's met face to face with Fidel Castro and other "bad guys."

"I think you don't talk to (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad. You talk to some of the moderate (Iranian) clerics," Richardson said. The Republican National Committee seized on that statement, implying Richardson was contradicting Obama.

"The Republicans are scrambling to distort my position on this issue," Obama said Monday. "I've been very clear that you meet with our enemies and not just our friends. That's the essence of diplomacy. I've said that with appropriate preparation I would meet with leaders of adversarial countries. I think Bill Richardson's point is a point I've made repeatedly-- that Ahmadinejad isn't the most powerful person in Iran and might not be the person with whom you end up cutting a deal. In fact, we don't even know what his position's going to be because they've got elections coming up in 2009 and his party was weakened in the last legislative elections.

"You know, the Republicans want to engage in fear mongering, and Ahmadinejad's such an unattractive, incendiary figure, they want to prop him up as an example of people they'd refuse to meet with," Obama said. "But, of course, they've refused to meet with more moderate clerics in Iran and lower levels as well. And that policy has failed. It's strengthened Iran. Iran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons. They're undaunted by the bluster coming from this administration, and I believe that's a policy that both Bill Richardson and myself believe that we need to change."

So why is Obama -- who still faces primary contests with U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton in Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana -- spending Memorial Day in New Mexico? Don't other states have veterans?

"Well New Mexico obviously has some just outstanding veterans that I wanted to make sure to honor," Obama said.

But perhaps realizing this might sound like pandering, he quickly added: "And we're going to be competing very hard here in New Mexico in the general election.

"I only had the opportunity to campaign during the primary, the caucus, because it was during Feb. 5, when there were 23 contests. We wanted to make sure we get back here and talk to the voters and give them the attention they deserve."

Obama lost the state's Democratic caucus to Clinton by a narrow margin. "Oh yeah, it was painful," he said.

What will he do to win over Hispanic voters, who tended to support Clinton in the primaries?

"The truth is we did very well with Hispanics here in New Mexico," he said. "Senator Clinton edged us out, but ... I know we got a higher percent of Hispanics here than just about anywhere. We're going to keep making sure that the Hispanic electorate here is familiar with my track record because when they are, we do very well. ... But obviously they were more familiar with Senator Clinton. As they become more familiar with me, the better we do."


Anonymous said...

Wow, was I mistaken. I expected Obama to come to a swing state and talk about how he did not want to keep the lab.

I expect he'll remember this promise at least until November 2008.

Anonymous said...

Obama will say anything to get a vote. But, when the DOE High Energy Physics budget was really stripped last December, he stood by and watched it happen in spite of the consequences at the FERMIlab and at Argonne, both in his district.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he'll be sure to keep the non-proliferation part of the Lab.

Anonymous said...

Like he really has so much clout , the Congress will decide the future of LANL, and it won't be good. Any canidate will say positive things in which ever State he or she is in, the real test will be in the next four years.

Anonymous said...

Obama knows nothng about LANL, except what was hurriedly crammed into him by an advisor prior to his short visit. Ditto New Mexico, the West, and rural America in general. He's a born 'n' bred, dues paying product of the corrupt Chicago political machine, who has succeeded in fooling almost everyone, almost all of the time. His middle name ain't Hussein, it's Hubris.

Anonymous said...

Even a large number of Republicans have no love for LANL's nuclear weapons work. LANL's budget is at serious risk of decline if it stays wedded to the NNSA's central themes of RRW, plutonium research, and an expensive, new production complex.

No one wants it, and that includes the military brass who recently gave nuclear weapons work an importance rating of only 2%!

LANL needs to expand the project base in non-proliferation, intelligence and DHS technology, and energy research. We need to become more tightly integrated as an allied research lab for many of the 3 letter DC agencies (DHS, CIA, DOD, FBI, etc.).

Unfortunately, the dinosaurs who control things at both NNSA and LANL are intent on taking the lab down a different path, a path that ultimately leads to extinction.

We can reduce our outrageous costs to make LANL more competitive.

We can get rid of the bureaucratic policies that are stifling work and making LANL feel more and more like a prison (Sig Hecker's term, not mine).

We can expand and diversify our project base into other areas that have greater relevance to national security.

In the words of our future President, Barrack Obama...


Anonymous said...

The Messiah has spoken...allah save the LANL :)

Anonymous said...

And on the other side of the ticket:

Anonymous said...

Maybe President Obama will come and visit LANL, just like Clinton. He'll come here and tell us how important we are to the nation. Then, soon after the visit, we'll learn that our salaries have all been frozen, just like after the Bill Clinton visit.

Anonymous said...

Could we examine Mr. Obama's words? First of all, What does non-proliferation mean? I've worked for the Department of Energy and my friends knew it. They asked me what I do and if I was feeling a certain way I say "non proliferation" They smiled and seemed to like that and probing questions rarely followed. What were they thinking when they respond so nicely? Didn't they realize that the cat is out of the bag? Did they fail to read about Mr. Khan during the more than 20 years of irreversible proliferant activity beginning about 1980? What does anyone think the lab is doing now? This is not a magical solution that will restore the budget. How can people pin their hopes on such a lost cause? I suggest that anyone who believes in this magic should try and find what it means.
I look at the hope that the lab will diversify and help solve the energy problem in a similar way. What do we think we have at LANL? Is it a large, expensive group of poly maths with a proven record of accomplishment? There are other places with alternative energy experts and there are other laboratories that actually generate valuable patents. LANL has to learn to respond to requests for proposals on means of solving some of our energy problems. It has to engage in open competition and leave the era of no real peer review and inappropriate secrecy. It seems very unlikely that LANL will become competitively successful without very large changes in staffing and administration.

Anonymous said...

An additional task for the future of DOE/NNSA and the National labs:

1) Directed Energy Weapons.

2) Missile Defense.

3) Space Weapons.

(As, conferences, peer-reviews, consultants, work on specific programs.)

Anonymous said...

8:45 pm: "They asked me what I do and if I was feeling a certain way I say "non proliferation" They smiled and seemed to like that and probing questions rarely followed. What were they thinking when they respond so nicely? Didn't they realize that the cat is out of the bag?"

Exactly right! Nuclear nonproliferation has been an abject failure. It cannot be resurrected. The only thing left is "proliferation management" which given some reality, would have been the goal from the beginning. We have North Korea, Pakistan, India, Iran, and shortly, Japan and South Korea, and maybe Syria, to manage. "Nonproliferation" is a pipe dream, let's get real on the right mission: keeping the US from experiencing a mushroom cloud.

Anonymous said...

Federal Authority

A Department of Energy representative stopped at a ranch in New Mexico and talked with an old rancher.

He told the rancher, "I need to survey your ranch for potential placement sites of electrical power line towers"

The old rancher said, " Okay but don't go in that field over there."

The DOE representative said "Mister, I have the authority of the Department of Energy and the Federal Government with me.

See this card? This card means I am allowed to go wherever I wish on any private land. No questions asked or answered.

Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?"

The old rancher nodded politely and went about his chores.

Later, the old rancher heard a loud scream and saw the DOE Rep running for the fence and close behind was the rancher's bull.

The bull was gaining on the DOE Rep with every step.

The Rep was clearly terrified, so the old rancher immediately threw down his tools, ran to the fence and shouted out ............

"YOUR CARD ! YOUR CARD! SHOW him your card."

Anonymous said...

Come now. Let's not quibble over the meaning of our Orwellian words.

"Nonproliferation" = "Proliferation Management."

Anonymous said...

"YES WE CAN!" - 5:22 PM

Sorry to pop your distorted reality field buddy, but...



Tom D'Agostino, Mike Anastasio, and the Bechtel Boys

Anonymous said...

Geeze, isn't non-proliferation the exact same area that Wallace was trying to f*ck up just last week with his plans for an unnecessary re-org and Form-B'ing of TR employees? Not to worry, Mr. Obama, our boy Terry is on top of things for you.

Anonymous said...

From the Senator's Website
Invest in the Sciences: Barack Obama supports doubling federal funding for basic research, changing the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology. This will foster home-grown innovation, help ensure the competitiveness of US technology-based businesses, and ensure that 21st century jobs can and will grow in America. As a share of the Gross Domestic Product, American federal investment in the physical sciences and engineering research has dropped by half since 1970. Yet, it often has been federally-supported basic research that has generated the innovation to create markets and drive economic growth. For example, one recent report demonstrated how federally supported research in fiber optics and lasers helped spur the telecommunications revolution.


In the past, government funding for scientific research has yielded innovations that have improved the landscape of American life—technologies like the Internet, digital photography, bar codes, Global Positioning System technology, laser surgery, and chemotherapy. At one time, educational competition with the Soviets fostered the creativity that put a man on the moon. Today, we face a new set of challenges, including energy security, HIV/AIDS, and climate change. Yet, the United States is losing its scientific dominance. Among industrialized nations, our country’s scores on international science and math tests rank in the bottom third and bottom fifth, respectively. Over the last three decades, federal funding for the physical, mathematical and engineering sciences has declined at a time when other countries are substantially increasing their own research budgets. Barack Obama believes federally funded scientific research should play an important role in advancing science and technology in the classroom and in the lab.

Anonymous said...

So Obama's interested in increasing science funding that LANL cannot touch as a government entity. Great. Guess we all should be working for universities. Oh wait, we did.

Anonymous said...

I happen to like Mr. Obama and think he's a really nice guy. Probably one of the nicer guys we've had run for the Presidency. He's certainly one of the more intelligent candidates of late. I wish both him and his family well.

However, I can guarantee you that once he is in office and has to make hard budgetary decisions, he and his Administration will decide to wallop the budget for the nuclear weapons complex. They'll want to use the government's limited financial resources for more pressing problems (health care, education, bail-out of home owners, etc.).

At best, we'll see a little extra money to support things like energy research and non-proliferation, but a whole lot of money cut from the nuclear weapons budget, which is the bread and butter of the NNSA weapon labs.

This will be an easy choice for Mr. Obama to make. A recent poll showed only a 2% level of support from the military for spending on nuclear weapons advancement. To this, add in the fact that some powerful members in Congress feel like they've been hood-winked by the NNSA and their selling of the Complex Transformation plan.

Regardless of who wins this next election, by 2012 LANL will be about 30% smaller and science will suffer. This figure isn't that far off from what NNSA has been telling the public over this last year. The difference is, money saved by downsizing the labs won't be going into the coffers of NNSA's Complex Transformation plan. Instead, the money will be going into other government budgets.

The time to begin weaning LANL off of heavy reliance of the nuclear weapons budget was 10 years ago. Sandia managers saw this coming and took corrective action. It takes time to turn around a big ship, and LANL has now run out of time. LANL managers followed the easy route and stayed with the status quo for too long. We'll see the results of their poor decision making play out over this next decade.

Anonymous said...

The sooner we get rid of nuclear weapons, the sooner we'll learn how powerless our way of life is; and the sooner we'll make nuclear weapons again.

Let's do it. The US needs some humility.

Anonymous said...

Why do people like 10:48 imply that cutting back nuke R&D is the same as disarmament? Dishonesty, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

what did clinton do besides visit?

Anonymous said...

"Maybe President Obama will come and visit LANL, just like Clinton."

Or, he may not come and visit and decimate LANL like Bush.

Anonymous said...

5/29/08 12:25 AM

who cares what clinton did. what matters is what bush did/does which is...?

Anonymous said...

Rupert Murdoch predicts landslide for Democrats - Reuters News

Thu May 29, 2008 8:30am EDT

CARLSBAD, California (Reuters) - News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday predicted a Democratic landslide in the U.S. presidential election against a gloomy economic backdrop over the next 18 months.

Murdoch has yet to endorse a U.S. presidential candidate but considers Barack Obama very promising, the media magnate said in an interview by two Wall Street Journal reporters at an annual conference for high-tech industry insiders.

News Corp recently acquired ownership of the Journal and its parent company Dow Jones & Co.

"You have got the Obama phenomenon. You have got, undoubtedly, a recession ... The average American is really getting hurt financially and that all bodes well for him (Obama), Murdoch said.

"You have probably the making of a complete phenomenon in this country," Murdoch said in describing what he predicted will be a sweeping victory for Democrats in November.

...Murdoch is associated with conservative political views but has a reputation for a pragmatic streak in major national races where he has shown a willingness to switch sides when he detects major political changes afoot.

"I think it (a recession) is one we will be coming out of for quite some time," Murdoch said. "In the next 18 months, this country is going to be in for a very hard time."

Anonymous said...

Obama is wasting his time if he thinks he'll ever win over the Johannasburg of northern New Mexico.

Anonymous said...

7:58 am: "who cares what clinton did. what matters is what bush did/does which is...?"

Why does either one matter? Clinton was impeached, Bush will not be. No effect either way. Why not worry about the future rather than the past?

Anonymous said...

5/29/08 2:18 PM

Thank you for making my point. clinton was impeached and was still a more effective leader. By the way, bush is still the president (even though he doesn't act like one). I guess you have given up on bush too since you council to forget the past (clinton and bush) and look to the future.I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

6:41 pm: " I guess you have given up on bush too since you council to forget the past (clinton and bush) and look to the future."

How can a citizen "give up on" a President? I don't even know what that means. If you think it matters at all to anyone or anything what you individually think about the President, you have seriously overestimated your role in the world. I didn't make your point; your point was meaningless.

By the way, I "counseled" not "counciled". You apparently have as much respect for language and spelling as you do for punctuation and capitalization.

Anonymous said...

This is the same guy who was politicking up in Washington and was asked about the Hanford clean-up funds. His response "uhhhh....I'm not aware of Hanford but I'll sure find out before I leave the state."

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh when I see people driving around with '04 Bush/Cheney stickers still on their cars. Have they no shame?

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh when I see people driving around with '04 Kerry/Edwards stickers still on their cars. Have they no shame?