Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control, at KPCC last night

Eric Schlosser signs my copy of his book, Command and Control

Eric Schlosser signs my copy of Command and Control

I went to the Crawford Family Forum at KPCC last night to see a conversation between Eric Schlosser and former NPR reporter Mike Shuster in conversation.

The topic was the safety of controlling nuclear weapons. Always, conversations like these are unsettling. Humans are the ones in “control” of an unforgiving and unwieldy force. Schlosser’s new book,Command and Control, centers around one accident in 1980 at a Titan Missile silo, and explores all manner of accidents and near-accidents involving nuclear weapons.

I live-tweeted throughout the discussion, and my compilation of tweets is here in Storify form.

But — long story short: When Schlosser went to the nuclear weapons labs (Los Alamos, Sandia, Lawrence Livermore) to talk about his book, he got pushback for inaccuracies. As in, you have errors of omission. There are more near-misses that are not covered in your book.

And this: The author got his information through many many FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. He said he could make out some of the censored material by comparing documents. He had two copies of the same document, each with blacked out portions made by different censors. He was able to find out what was censored. Was it information pertaining to the safety of the nation? Safeguarding some nuclear secret? No, the censorship was there to protect the nuclear security bureaucracy from embarrassment.

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