Letters to the Editor

August 30, 2010

Andrew Duck's letter attacking Bartlett was dirty-pool politics

To the editor:

I find myself in an awkward situation because I am defending an opponent, but having read the letter to the editor written by Andrew Duck in the Aug. 16 edition of The Herald Mail ("Bartlett's statement on Iran's nuclear capability is dangerous, page A4), I find his attack repugnant and an attempted character assassination.

This dirty-pool politics is what the American people are tired of. We need to be arguing about important things, namely the sad state of our economy.

Having said that, let me give you my background. I received a master's degree from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School with a major in physics and a minor in high velocity impact physics. This degree program was intended for an officer preparing to manage a naval weapon system program.


One class that I thoroughly enjoyed was on radiation transport of nuclear weapons. The professor who taught the class had actually worked on some of the later H-bomb tests done in the mid-1950s and early 1960s, so he had hands-on practical knowledge of the effects of radiation from a nuclear blast. I do not profess to be an expert, but I am not speaking in ignorance when I give my own personal opinion on this subject.

Reading U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's article in the Aug. 3 edition of the Washington Times titled "What if Iran already has the bomb?," I see nowhere does the article mention the destruction of the United States. The article's punch line is if the Iranians manage to set off a large enough electromagnetic pulse (EMP) over the country, it is possible to have devastating effects on the lives of millions of people.

The takeaway that I got from my classes on the subject was there is no definitive answer as to what the actual effects of EMP would be on our power grid. Every atmospheric blast that was done taught those studying it something new. The yield, the altitude, even the time of day had effects that were not predicted. So there is no definitive answer as to what the actual effect on our daily lives an EMP blast might have.

There have been instances where solar flares have knocked out portions of the grid, so there is some basis in reality. Most military specifications are for products that are resistant to EMP, so we know that military installations and equipment again, theoretically, should be protected and will have no ill effects. However, civilian power grids, cars and homes are not designed with that in mind. They are vulnerable, but to what extent might never be known. It could be just another Y2K-type problem that never really was a threat.

The probability of Iran actually being able to put such a device into the atmosphere is low, as is the probability it would wipe out our entire electrical system. However, if they were able to place an EMP and it actually destroyed part of our electrical grid, the devastation would be like nothing this country has experienced. I know as a country we would rally, pull together and move forward, but the death and suffering would be immeasurable.

So is the risk worth the reward? That is the question being asserted in Bartlett's article. A power outage on the entire Eastern Seaboard is not even comparable to that of recent power outages in the D.C. area anymore than flooding last winter along the Potomac River compares to Hurricane Katrina.

Is it worth doing something proactive against Iran to prevent an event with a low probability? This is an important question that will affect our country for years to come if we decide to take no action.

It is such a pity that Duck is resorting to the politics of personal destruction in hopes of bringing down a sitting congressman. There are many, many problems that this great country is facing, but trivializing an argument pertaining to rid Iran and its nukes is puerile. Do you want more of this in Washington?

Dan Massey

Editor's note: Dan Massey is a Libertarian candidate for the Maryland 6th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives held by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.

Seniors deserve opportunity to 'age in place'

To the editor:

The Maryland Federation of Chapters, National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), recently surveyed the 523 candidates for the Maryland General Assembly. Each candidate was asked if they would support these three primary issues:

o Equalize the dollar value for the senior exemption for all seniors over the age of 65 or blind.

o Allow an annual tax credit for the payment of long-term care insurance premiums.

o Reduce the property tax burden on senior homeowners.

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