Arms Control Wonk raises an alarming question:
Is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld scheming to assume responsibility for the nuclear weapons functions currently held by Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and the Departent of Energy (DOE)?I'd like to add that the other attraction of abolishing the DOE, to conservatives, is the possibility of privatizing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Naval Petroleum Reserve, and all federal oil shale reserves. The Cato Institute's advice, in this regard, is all too typical:
That seems the most likely inference, given the conservative antipathy toward DOE (and its control of nuclear weapons) that dates to its inception in 1977. Hell, Ronald Reagan campaigned on abolishing DOE.
Both the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute advocate turning over DOE's nuclear weapons responsibilities to the Department of Defense.
Congressional Republicans even sponsored a bill to abolish DOE in the 104th, 105th and 106th Congresses entitled, well, The Department of Energy Abolishment Act. Future Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham (R-MI) was a co-sponser of the Senate versions.
[T]he SPR can be turned into an entrepreneurial asset. The reserve can be privatized by selling off either the entire operation or its individual parts....Foreign ownership (by Saudi Arabia, for example) should not be prohibited. Even a decision by the new owners to liquidate the crude and mothball the reserve must be respected. After all, the private market would not have constructed the reserve in the first place.I have no love for the DOE, by the way; it's woefully incompetent and corrupt. But the solution to its problems certainly isn't a power grab by Rumsfeld, especially when you consider the radwaste issues. The thought of the DoD taking charge of Yucca Mountain is not a happy one.