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Project on Government Oversight




Nuclear Security Budget Slashed

November 16, 2001 


In a move Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee, the supplemental budget requested by the President to protect the nation's nuclear weapons facilities from terrorist attack was slashed. With bio-terrorism making headlines, it appears that the $18 million intended to provide adequate protection for the nuclear weapons complex has been rerouted to biological detection programs.

"The latest move by the House Appropriations Committee is short-sighted and misguided. We have no doubt that bio-terrorism is a serious issue that requires an increased budget, but doing so at the expense of our nation's nuclear security is irresponsible," said Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). "It is particularly unthinkable to shortchange nuclear security given reports that Al Queda terrorists have recently attempted to gain access to nuclear materials."

In a recent report, "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Security at Risk," POGO reveals that the budget for security forces at nuclear weapons facilities has already been cut by 40% since 1992, at the same time that the inventory of nuclear material has increased by 30%.

POGO's report also highlights the poor security record at nuclear weapons facilities across the country. According to experts who have conducted security tests in the past, the government fails to protect against these mock-terrorist attacks more than 50% of the time - although the exact figure is classified. Now more than ever, the need for an increase in the nuclear security budget should be undisputed.

For 20 years, POGO has fought government waste and fraud and has been an advocate for prudent government spending on behalf of American taxpayers. Careful spending in areas as vital to the national interest as nuclear security is precisely how the government should be using taxpayer dollars.

Unfortunately, government spending is often more dependent on political clout than national need.

"If Congress can find room in the budget to give tax rebates to the tune of $617 million to General Electric, $102 million to K-mart, and $832 million to General Motors, then they can certainly afford to both fund biological detection programs and sufficiently protect our nuclear weapons complex," asserted Brian.

POGO urges the House of Representatives to restore the President's requested budget for nuclear security and look for alternative sources of funding to provide for bio-terrorism programs.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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