Did Trump Propose a 10-Fold Increase in US Nuclear Weapons?
October 12, 2017 AntiWar.com & BBC News & Ron Paul Liberty Report
According to a new report from NBC News, Donald Trump responded to a slide at a cabinet meeting showing that the number of US nuclear weapons has gone down since the late 1960s by demanding a nearly ten-fold increase in the US arsenal. Secretary of Defense James Mattis also said the report was "false," and claimed it was irresponsible for NBC to even report that the meeting happened.
NBC: Trump Was 'Concerned'
US Has Less Nukes Than in the 1960s Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(October 11, 2017) -- According to a new report from NBC News, President Trump responded to a slide at a cabinet meeting showing that the number of US nuclear weapons has gone down since the late 1960s by demanding a nearly ten-fold increase in the US arsenal.
This NBC report quoted unnamed officials present at the meeting, who said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had to explain to Trump why both legally and practically such a massive expansion of the arsenal was not practical. It was also reported that immediately following this meeting Tillerson declared Trump to be a "moron."
But as with the "moron" thing, which Trump denied happened but also later challenged Tillerson to an IQ test over, Trump insists that this too didn't happen, and accused NBC of making it entirely up for no reason.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis also said the report was "false," and claimed it was irresponsible for NBC to even report that the meeting happened. There has been no independent confirmation yet.
But President Trump has swung wildly around on the issue of nuclear weapons since elected. Even before inauguration he was sparring with NBC News on a report he wanted to start a global arms race until the world "comes to its senses." Then in February he was widely reported as wanting to build up the nuclear arsenal because he believed America had "fallen behind."
Trump Threatens Broadcaster NBC after Nuclear Report BBC News
(October 11, 2017) -- US President Donald Trump has raised the prospect of challenging media licences for NBC News and other news networks after unfavourable reports. He took aim at NBC, which made him a star on The Apprentice, after it reported he wanted to boost America's nuclear arsenal almost tenfold.
Mr. Trump labelled the report "fake news" and "pure fiction".
NBC also angered the White House last week when it said the secretary of state had called Mr. Trump "a moron".
Mr. Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning: "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!"
Welcoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington later in the day, the US president denied the NBC story. "It is frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it," he said at the White House.
When asked if he wanted to increase the country's arsenal, Mr. Trump said he only ever discussed keeping it in "perfect condition".
"No, I want to have absolutely perfectly maintained - which we are in the process of doing - nuclear force. But when they said I want 10 times what we have right now, it's totally unnecessary, believe me."
He added: "I want modernisation and I want total rehabilitation. It's got to be in tip-top shape."
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis also disputed NBC's story."Recent reports that the President called for an increase in the US nuclear arsenal are absolutely false," he said in a statement. "This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible."
The president's tweet about US broadcast networks provoked a free-speech uproar.
Walter Shaub, who led the US Office of Government Ethics under President Barack Obama, said it could lead to "the point when we cease to be a democracy". The Committee to Protect Journalists said the US president's comment was a poor example for other world leaders.
According to NBC News, Mr. Trump told a top-level meeting at the Pentagon in July that he wanted to dramatically boost the American stockpile of atomic missiles. He reportedly made the request after seeing a downward-sloping curve on a briefing slide charting the gradual decrease in US nuclear weapons since the 1960s.
Attributing its report to three officials in the room, NBC said Mr. Trump's request surprised those present, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The network reported that Mr. Trump had also called for additional US troops and military equipment.
The US has 7,100 nuclear weapons and Russia has 7,300, according to the US non-partisan Arms Control Association. Media commentators say the president would struggle to remove broadcasters' licences if he wished to do so.
The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates US broadcasters, issues licences not to networks as a whole, but to local stations. NBC owns nearly 30 local stations.
It would be difficult to challenge a licence on the basis that coverage is unfair, say pundits. Trump's Unworkable Threat Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter
Last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured reporters that Donald Trump was an "incredible advocate" of constitutional free-press protections. This week, the president is contemplating - just wondering! - whether a broadcaster could be forced off the airwaves because he doesn't approve of its news coverage.
Never mind that the federal government licenses local televisions stations, only some of which are owned by national broadcasters like NBC.
Just because a threat is unworkable in the extreme doesn't mean the president won't make it.
Media-bashing is one of Mr. Trump's favourite pastimes - a means of venting frustration, apportioning blame and, perhaps, distracting reporters who always enjoy a bit of journalistic navel-gazing.
As with the NFL anthem-kneeling controversy, the cultural battle lines form quickly when it comes to questions of media bias. The president knows this and uses it to his advantage.
Taking pot-shots at journalists is one thing, of course. Contemplating the use of government coercion to stifle a broadcaster because of its news content is another.
Even if such an outcome is unthinkable in the US at the moment, there are places in the world where press freedoms aren't as deeply entrenched. Their leaders are watching the president, too. Did Trump Call for Ten Times More Nukes? Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams / Ron Paul Liberty Report
(October 11. 2017) -- The media is having a field day with a supposedly leaked report that President Trump called for a ten-fold increase in US nuclear weapons in July. That is the occasion of Secretary of State Tillerson calling the president a "moron," according to the media. It's all supposed to point to how ridiculous President Trump is for wanting more nuclear weapons.
But whose idea was the current one trillion dollar nuclear weapons "modernization" plan? It was then-president Obama's idea. And who appropriated the money to get started? Congress. More on the bipartisan support for military corporate welfare in today's Ron Paul Liberty Report:
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