Morton Mintz

Morton Mintz is a former chair of the Fund for Investigative Journalism and a former Washington Post reporter. An earlier version of this article appeared on TomPaine.com.

Recent Articles

Bush's Judges Matter to Jane and Joe Sixpack

Last month, a New York Times Magazine cover story took an in-depth and valuable look at judicial radicals. Like Janice Rogers Brown and other court nominees George W. Bush and Bill Frist are trying to ram through the Senate, these professors and think-tankers pass themselves off as conservatives. Yet they are leading what the writer called an "increasingly active" movement that seeks deregulation "in a manner not seen since before Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal." It's a movement that even Supreme Court Justice Antonin A. Scalia couldn't abide. The article was impressive, partly because of the many quotes gathered from the radicals by George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen. But at the risk of being accused of complaining that he didn't write the article I would have written, I'll say that very real issues of life and death for vast numbers of Americans were lost or obscured in the article despite the spaciousness of 7,265 words. The judicial radicals want to abolish...

Hair-Raising Hair Triggers

T housands of ready-to-fire U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons are susceptible to unauthorized launches by terrorists, who might either capture a missile or electronically hack into a missile launch-control system. This reality has gotten nearly zero attention in the press. And it gets worse. Cyber-terrorists might also succeed in fooling early-warning systems, inducing a false attack warning that increases the risk of a mistaken retaliatory launch. Although terrorism has dramatically intensified these perils, there has been no progress on nuclear "de-alerting" -- reducing the operational readiness of nuclear forces -- since the September 11 attacks. Last May, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin agreed to a treaty that would cut the number of missiles by more than half over a 10-year period. But they and the treaty ignored the issue of de-alerting. Testifying at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the treaty last July 23, retired Air Force Gen. Eugene Habiger,...

Two Minutes to Launch

T he bitter disputes over national missile defense (NMD) have obscured a related but dramatically more urgent issue of national security: the 4,800 nuclear warheads--weapons with a combined destructive power nearly 100,000 times greater than the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima--currently on "hair-trigger" alert. Hair-trigger alert means this: The missiles carrying those warheads are armed and fueled at all times. Two thousand or so of these warheads are on the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) targeted by Russia at the United States; 1,800 are on the ICBMs targeted by the United States at Russia; and approximately 1,000 are on the submarine-based missiles targeted by the two nations at each other. These missiles would launch on receipt of three computer-delivered messages. Launch crews--on duty every second of every day--are under orders to send the messages on receipt of a single computer-delivered command. In no more than two minutes, if all went according to plan,...