- THE SCOOP for June 1, 1998: The Conqueror & Other Bombs
Date: Wed, 03 Jun 1998
Subject: Great column -- THE SCOOP: The Conqueror & Other Bombs
Love the column! Got it right for a change.
But I regret, as I always do when this story gets some additional ink, that no one ever goes on to finish the story. The rest of the story on this one remains to be told: That Hughes in his madness realized that nothing could protect him from radiation from Nevada bomb tests, even the looney practices he did to protect him from germs; that Hughes felt personally responsible for all those deaths of the crew, and from that was born typical Hughes' action.
After moving to Las Vegas in 1966 Hughes attempted to buy the State of Nevada and the White House in an effort to stop nuclear testing in Nevada, offering LBJ $1,000,000 if he would, and pouring out the bucks on Dick Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and Paul Laxalt.
In fact it was money from Hughes for exactly that purpose that ended up being the infamous $100,000 in Beebe Robozo's safe that helped bring Nixon down. In fact during the time from 1966-1971 close to $20 million in Hughes money went poof and disappeared in the Hughes-AEC battle. Much of it ended up in the pockets of politicians from everybody running for president in 1968, to a former Utah Governor, and a Salt Lake City Mayor.
The man hired by the Hughes organization to run the Hughes ban the bomb tests in Washington, DC was none other than Larry O'Brien, and it was concern over how much he knew of the Hughes-Nixon nuke-tests bribes that lead to the witch hunt among Nixon's aides that sent the burglars into O'Brien's office, and the plumbers into trying to open the safe of Las Vegas Sun Publisher Hank Greenspun. Thus it is so fitting the memo flashed to Hughes from his chief lawyer the night before Nixon resigned, "Nixon will resign at 12:00 EDT tomorrow to save both himself and his friends."
Hughes money poured out of the cage of the Sands in nondescript $10 and $20 bills and into a wide variety of efforts to stop the bomb tests, including the Utah Peace and Freedom Party in 1968, WILPF, involved such well know figures as Barry Commoner and Linus Pauling, and funded covertly a march down Salt Lake City's State Street of over 1,200 carrying signs, "Ski Utah the Hottest Snow on Earth". And on and on!
It was also this raging battle between Hughes and the AEC that gave birth to the downwinders'-fallout victim's movement in southwest Utah, and all of us original community activists who started it go back in one form, or another to those days, and that battle. Eventually we won! We got the media's attention locally, regionally, statewide, nationally, and finally internationally, and one of the most effective media actions we took was to leak the story of poor John Wayne and that damned movie to British tabloid journalists and stood back and watched the media freak show, knowing they may not give a shit about those of us who lived around Snow Canyon, but they'd hold the presses for good old John Wayne. And when they did we were there waiting to line up the survivors for People mag, LIFE, and the morning tv shows, and the hundred or so others, to hit the tv talk shows, and to demand Congressional action.
Trouble is the real rest of the story behind this is that it wasn't just Snow Canyon, St. George, or John Wayne, as the National Cancer Institute fallout report forced out last summer and fall clearly shows -- it was all 160 million Americans living during those "hot years". Those 160 million American's all got just about the same fallout levels as did we folks in St. George, and just as much as did good old John Wayne! And what happened to John Wayne and what happened to the people in St George happened, and still is happening all across this country.
The NCI fallout report was only concerned with ONE radioactive isotope produced by the bomb tests -- Iodine 131. There were 359 others, and many of them were far more deadly than Iodine 131, and unlike the thyroid cancers the Iodine caused, the ones they did were not 95% treatable, and survivable. The NCI report said the Iodine alone caused 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer nationwide. Add the toll from the other 359 not discussed, and the total number of American dead, including John Wayne, would reach into the hundreds of thousands at the least and into the millions most likely.
People should rent that movie, should watch it, and should quickly learn to understand the full meaning behind it, and the tragedy of it all not only for John Wayne, or the people in St. George, but for themselves where ever they live, and for this nation as a whole. Absent such an understanding, we have no hope of ever surviving the endless nuclear crises of which India and Pakistan are todays current chapter. Because only the truth of how many of our own we have already killed will ever make us free of the nuclear testing demon!
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