Yesterday, when pointing out how the nomination of Rick Perry to be Secretary of Energy could be dangerous, I wondered if the nominee actually knows about the most important task assigned to the department he would oversee. As Coral Davenport pointed out, about 60% of the agency’s budget is devoted to administering the National Nuclear Security Administration, which “manages the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile and runs American programs on nuclear nonproliferation and counterterrorism.”
It turns out that concern might not be a stretch, given that the Trump transition team seems to be uninformed as well.
To demonstrate, let’s go back to one of those moments during the campaign where the eventual Republican nominee demonstrated his own ignorance. It came during one of the debates during the primaries when Hugh Hewitt asked Trump about his priorities with regards to the nuclear triad (nuclear weapons that can be dispatched via air, ground and sea).
It was truly breath-taking to hear a presidential candidate highlight the importance of having a Commander-in-Chief who knows what he or she is doing, only to have them demonstrate that they don’t even know what Hewitt was referring to when he asked about the nuclear triad.
Of course Trump used the opportunity to tell one of the lies he became famous for repeating throughout the campaign – that he opposed the war in Iraq. But then he went on to criticize the Obama administration for suggesting that climate change is a threat in order to say that nuclear weapons and their proliferation are, in fact, the biggest threat we face right now.
In light of that, Stephen Schwartz brings up a critical point about the questionnaire the Trump transition team sent to the Department of Energy. We’ve heard a lot about the ominous attempt to potentially target federal employees and contractors who have been involved in Obama administration climate change efforts (with which DOE refused to comply). But this is equally important:
Trump transition team asked DOE officials 74 questions. Number concerning DOE's core mission, nuclear weapons? Zero. https://t.co/GwctTrVOBm
— Stephen Schwartz (@AtomicAnalyst) December 13, 2016
At the link Schwartz provided, you can see all 74 questions from the transition team to the Department of Energy. There is not one related to nuclear weapons security and/or proliferation.
Let’s summarize. On the issue Trump once called the most important problem our nation faces, his transition team did not direct one question related to that issue in a questionnaire to the federal department that is responsible for dealing with it. That is frankly not only stunning…it is alarming.