Tags: Emerging Threats | Ashton Carter | Pentagon | Senate | Dick Cheney

Politico: Ashton Carter, Likely New Defense Chief, Known as 'Dr. Doom'

Monday, 09 February 2015 09:57 AM

Nuclear physicist Ashton Carter, President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, is known as the "Dr. Doom" of the Democrats, according to Politico.

Carter has been warning for two decades of the dangers a nuclear bomb could have on the United States, following in the footsteps of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

And Politico says that if confirmed as head of the Defense Department, Carter would bring to the job "an unprecedented expertise in epic disaster."

Cheney, especially around the invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, often issued statements alerting the public that a weapon of mass destruction could kill off thousands of Americans.

Cheney's fears were amplified by a chilling policy paper co-authored in 2007 by Carter, who has a PhD in nuclear physics, called "The Day After: Action Following a Nuclear Blast in an American City."

In a frightening scenario straight out of a Hollywood action movie, Carter warned of mass evacuation from cities, highways being shut down for emergency responders only, negotiating with terrorists to prevent the destruction of another city, plus setting up an emergency governing body, especially if Washington is hit.

In 2006, Carter publicly called on then President George W. Bush to consider striking a North Korean missile site before the country tested an intercontinental missile that could eventually be fitted with a warhead targeting America.

"It undoubtedly carries risk," Carter, then a Pentagon official, wrote in a paper with former Defense Secretary William J. Perry. "But the risk of continuing inaction in the face of North Korea's race to threaten this country would be greater."

Before the attacks on 9/11, Carter warned about the threat of catastrophic terrorism, while more recently he's concentrated on the effects invisible gamma rays could have on crucial electronics, according to Politico.

Graham Allison, the Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, said "these are issues that (Carter) has wrestled with for his whole career.

"With all of the noise about all of the issues on the agenda you lose sight that there are [threats] a whole lot worse than what's happening in the Ukraine, or with ISIS, or whatever."

Describing Carter as an "evidence-based" pragmatist rather than an "alarmist," Allison said that Carter is more acutely aware of the widespread dangers to the U.S. "that may seem like science fiction to folks who are just captivated by today's news."

A longtime friend of Carter, Allison added: "What's current is not necessarily what's most important."

Carter, who is expected to be confirmed later this month with little pushback from the GOP, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week about the "very real dangers we face" while talking about Iran, Ukraine, and the Islamic State.

But despite the doomsday scenarios he's often spelled out in the past, Carter at least gave one cautionary upbeat note, saying that American strength "makes me proud and hopeful, and determined to grab hold of the bright opportunities in front of us."

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Nuclear physicist Ashton Carter, President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, is known as the "Dr. Doom" of the Democrats, according to Politico.
Ashton Carter, Pentagon, Senate, Dick Cheney
Monday, 09 February 2015 09:57 AM
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