Radioactive Sheep and More

The “national security state” is explained by Sarah Fox saying “the military and government officials’ suppression of accurate information in such cases is a fundamental condition of the national security state” (Home on the Range). Essentially, it is the government trying to hide or cover up an issue such as the nuclear test sites in Utah and Nevada. “Cultures of secrecy” is defined as almost covert operations not seen by the public (Dean). Examples of this is explained by Dean when listing past examples of when the American government “conducted campaigns of sabotage and psychological warfare, attempted to assassinate foreign leaders, abetted authoritarian regimes in the murderous repression of their own people, and developed and disseminated techniques of ‘no-touch’ torture” (Cultures of Secrecy in Postwar America. 

One can see the national security state in rural Utah and Nevada by the government and military not disclosing with the local ranchers and citizens the negative effects of being near/downwind of nuclear testing. Even before they started testing in the continental United States, researchers were aware of how dangerous radiation was after seeing the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and knowing they were radiating the people of the Marshall Islands. Downwind of the test site was the small town of Cedar City. It was a ranching community that boasted their agricultural successes. However, this would change when the government started testing large scale nuclear bombs nearby. The government did so without much approval or consent from the locals. The ones they did speak to told farmers it “posed no danger” (Fox). When the radioactive fallout started affecting their herds of animals, they turned to the government for answers. But, the government denied any of their claims that radioactivity was causing any of it. The ranchers refused to believe that answer. Decades after 1953, documents were released saying that the AEC actually knew that the fallout was killing the animals. They were deceitful in telling the public the truth about the nuclear testing. Along with the loss of herds of sheep and cattle, people in the area started getting sick, too. People started to get cancer in many different parts of the body. People started getting blood diseases. And, babies were born with diseases or abnormalities. Sadly, because of the national security state that was back then, most families were not compensated for their losses. 

Does a national security state still exist today? I believe that it still exists today. Something that is more recent is the Chinese surveillance balloon that was flying over North America last week. The government knew about it since it entered Alaska’s airspace but did not tell the public until it got closer to inland America. I am just confused as to why they didn’t act sooner or inform the public, and I believe that the government wasn’t as upfront about Chinese presence in America as they could have been. There still seems to be a lot of unanswered questions about the whole ordeal that probably will never be addressed. 

2 thoughts on “Radioactive Sheep and More

  1. I agree with you about national security still existing today. I also think it was odd that we did not know about the Chinese balloon until recently even though the government knew about it for a while. Personally, I think it is weird that the families didn’t get compensated for the losses they had from the nuclear test site, I also think if the government knew how deadly the chemicals and stuff are to humans why they would do that to “their own kind” I do not think it is necessary for anyone, but you would think because it is in the US that they would have taken proper precautions to keep their people safe. I wonder if Cedar City is still not safe to this day. I also do not understand why the government lied to the people from Cedar City area and told them that it “posed no danger” I do not understand the benefit of lying to us, people are getting sick and could even die from the affects, I would want those people to move away and be compensated that way. You have to move, but we will help you move kind of thing.


  2. I agree with you that the National security state still exists today. I believe that it’s not right for a government to hide this type of information from the public especially when it is causing harm to American citizens. I hope that these towns are not dealing with these effects still to this date even though it’s been over 60 years since they took place. Radiation exposure can have an effect on land for thousands of years and make it unlivable. I’m also wondering why the public didn’t know about these balloons until the end of their path. The path is also kind of scary because if you look over where the balloon path crossed, our nuclear silos are located on that path, so it’s kind of concerning.


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