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USAF cites New Testament and Nazi to Indoctrinate Officers on the 'ethics' of using Nuclear Weapons
by Jason Leopold via stan - TruthOut Friday, Jul 29 2011, 1:33am
international / peace/war / other press

They prayed before they carpet-bombed/murdered 4 million INNOCENT civilians in Indo-China!

The United States Air Force has been training young missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons by citing passages from the New Testament and commentary from a former member of the Nazi Party, according to newly released documents.

Wernher Von Braun
Wernher Von Braun

The mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session, which includes a discussion on St. Augustine's "Christian Just War Theory [3]," is led by Air Force chaplains and takes place during a missile officer's first week in training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

St. Augustine's "Qualifications for Just War," according to the way it is cited in a 43-page PowerPoint presentation [4], are: "to avenge or to avert evil; to protect the innocent and restore moral social order (just cause)" and "to restore moral order; not expand power, not for pride or revenge (just intent)."

The Air Force documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and provided to Truthout by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation [5] (MRFF), a civil rights organization. MRFF President Mikey Weinstein said more than 30 Air Force officers, a majority of whom describe themselves as practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics, have contacted his group over the past week in hopes of enlisting him to work with the Air Force to have the Christian-themed teachings removed from the nuclear weapons ethics training session. [Full disclosure: Weinstein is a member of Truthout's Board of Advisers.]

Included with the PowerPoint presentation are more than 500 pages of other documents [6] pertaining to a missile officer's first week of training, which takes place before they are sent to one of three Air Force bases to guard the country's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) arsenal and, if called upon to do so by the president, launch their nuclear-armed Minuteman IIIs.

One of the most disturbing slides quotes Wernher Von Braun [7], a former member of the Nazi Party and SS officer. Von Braun is not being cited in the PowerPoint as an authority on a liquid hydrogen turbopumps or a launch vehicle's pogo oscillations, rather he's specifically being referenced as a moral authority, which is remarkable considering that the Nazi scientist used Jews imprisoned in concentration camps, captured French anti-Nazi partisans and civilians, and others, to help build the V-2, a weapon responsible for the death of thousands of British civilians.

"We knew that we had created a new means of warfare and the question as to what nation, to what victorious nation we were willing to entrust this brainchild of ours was a moral decision [emphasis in document] more than anything else," Von Braun said upon surrendering to American forces in May 1945. "We wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had just been through and we felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the world be best secured." [emphasis in document]

Von Braun was part of a top-secret military program known as "Operation Paperclip [8]," which recruited Nazi scientists after World War II who "were secretly brought to the United States, without State Department review and approval; their service for [Adolf] Hitler's Third Reich, [Nazi Party] and SS memberships as well as the classification of many as war criminals or security threats also disqualified them from officially obtaining visas," according to the Operation Paperclip web site [9].

Von Braun and about 500 or so other Nazi scientists who were part of the classified program worked on guided missile and ballistic missile technology at military installations in New Mexico, Alabama and Texas.

Ethical Questions and The Bible

The Air Force has been mired in numerous religious scandals [10] over the past decade and has been sued for allowing widespread proselytization at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. It has been citing Christian teachings in its missile officer training materials since at least 2001.

One Air Force officer currently on active duty, who spoke to Truthout on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media, said he was trained as a missile officer in 2001 and vividly recalls how the chaplain leading the training session on the ethics of launching nuclear weapons said, "the American Catholic Church and their leadership says it's ok in their eyes to launch nukes."

Last year, however, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican representative to the United Nations, said [11] in speeches in Washington and New York City that "nuclear weapons are no longer just for deterrence but have become entrenched in the military doctrines of the major powers."

"The conditions that prevailed during the Cold War, which gave a basis for the [Catholic] Church's limited toleration of nuclear deterrence, no longer apply in a consistent and effective manner," the Archbishop said.

The 381st Training Group and 392nd Training Squadron are responsible for training every Air Force Space and Missile Officer. Several emails and phone calls left for spokespeople at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where the squadron is based, were not returned. The PowerPoint identifies Chaplain Capt. Shin Soh of the 381st Training Group as leading the nuclear ethics presentation.

One of the ethical questions contained in the PowerPoint presented to missile officers asks: "Can you imagine a set of circumstances that would warrant a nuclear launch from the US, knowing that it would kill thousands of non-combatants?

Another question trainees are confronted with asks: "Can we train physically, emotionally and spiritually for a job we hope we never have to do?"

To help the missile officers answer these ethical queries, the PowerPoint presentation cites numerous examples of characters from the New and Old Testament fighting "just" wars.

For example, in the Old Testament, "Abraham organized an army to rescue Lot," God motivated "judges (Samson, Deborah, Barak) to fight and deliver Israel from foreign oppressors," and "David is a warrior who is also a 'man after God's own heart.'"

In the New Testament, citing Timothy 2:3, according to the PowerPoint, "Paul chooses three illustrations to show what it means to be a good disciple of Christ":

* Farmer--work hard and be patient
* Athlete--be self-disciplined, train
* Soldier--be willing to put up with hardship

Moreover, in Romans 13:4, the PowerPoint notes, "In spite of personal blemishes, God calls the emperor to be an instrument of justice," [emphasis in document.]

A PowerPoint slide also contains a passage from the Book of Revelation attempts to explain how Jesus Christ, as the "mighty warrior," believed war to be just. The PowerPoint goes on to say that there are "many examples of believers [who] engaged in wars in Old Testament" in a "righteous way" and notes there is "no pacifistic sentiment in mainstream Jewish history."

Constitutional Violation?

The documents' blatant use of religious imagery and its numerous citations of the Bible would appear to be a violation of the First Amendment establishing a wall of separation between church and state and Clause 3, Article 6 of the Constitution, which specifically prohibits a "religious test."

Weinstein, a graduate of the Air Force Academy and a former Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG), said a section of the PowerPoint presentation that has been cited by MRFF clients as being at the top of the list of "unconstitutional outrages" is the one "which wretchedly asserts that war is both ethical and part of 'the natural order' of man's existence on earth."

"Astonishingly, the training presentation grotesquely attempts to justify that unconscionable concept of 'war is good because Jesus says it is' by specifically textually referencing allegedly supportive bible passages from the New Testament Books of Luke, Acts, Hebrews, Timothy and, finally even Revelation," said Weinstein, a former White House counsel during the Reagan administration. "If this repugnant nuclear missile training is not Constitutionally violative of both the 'no religious test' mandate of the Constitution and the First Amendment's No Establishment Clause then those bedrock legal principles simply do not exist."

A senior Air Force Space and Missile officer who reviewed the materials, said the teachings are "an outrage of the highest order."

"No way in hell should this have been presented as a mandatory briefing to ALL in the basic missiles class," the officer, who requested anonymity, said in an email. "It presumes ALL missile officers are religious and specifically in need of CHRISTIAN justification for their service.

"If they wanted to help people with their spiritual/religious/secular justification for serving as missile officers, then they should've said something like 'for those of you with religious concerns about missile duty, we've arranged the following times to chat with chaplains from your particular faith group.' For those with secular concerns about the morality of missile duty, we'll have a discussion moderated by a professor [and/or] counselor, a noted ethicist, too. If you're already good with your role and duty as a missile officer, then you're welcome to hit the golf course or gym."

The senior Air Force officer added that the commander of the training squadron "that approved this, along with the Training Group Commander at Vandenberg, should be fired instantly for allowing it."

"Jesus Loves Nukes"

Former Air Force Capt. Damon Bosetti, 27, who attended missile officer training in 2006 and was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, said he and his colleagues used to call the religious section of the ethics training the "Jesus loves nukes speech."

"What I went through in 2006 didn't have that level of inappropriateness in it, but it was still strongly religious," he said of the PowerPoint presentation the Air Force now uses for training missile officers.

Bosetti, who is represented by MRFF, said he believes the intent of quoting Bible passages was to make officers feel "comfortable" about launching nuclear weapons and signing a legal document stating they had "no moral qualms" about "turning the key" if ordered to do so.

The legal document from the Department of the Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, which was also released under the FOIA, states, in part, "I will perform duties involving the operation of nuclear-armed ICBMs and will launch them if lawfully ordered to do so by the President of the United States or his lawful successor." [emphasis in document]

Bosetti, an officer who left active duty in the Air Force last year, said officers were immediately presented with the three-page document to sign after the end of the training session on nuclear ethics.

"I think the average American would be and should be very disturbed to know that people go through training where the Air Force quotes the Bible," Bosetti said. "This type of teaching sets a dangerous precedent because no one above you is objecting. It shifts the group definition of acceptable behavior more and more off track."

Weinstein said the combination of citing fundamentalist Christianity and a Nazi scientist as a way of explaining to missile officers why launching nuclear weapons is ethical is a new low for the Air Force.

"Leave it to the United States Air Force to find a way to dictate the 'ethical' value of nuclear war and it's inevitable role in the 'natural order' of humanity's existence, to it's missile launch officer trainees by merging unadulterated, fundamentalist Christian end times Armageddon doctrines with the tortured 'people who are guided by the bible endorsements of a former, leading Nazi SS official," Weinstein said.

Links:

[1] http://www.truth-out.org/print/4535
[2] http://www.truth-out.org/printmail/4535
[3] http://catholicism.about.com/od/beliefsteachings/p/Just_War_Theory.htm
[4] http://truthout.org/files/nuclear_ethics.pdf
[5] http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org
[6] http://www.scribd.com/doc/61068592/ICBM-Training-Material
[7] http://www.operationpaperclip.info/wernher-von-braun.php
[8] http://www.operationpaperclip.info/
[9] http://www.operationpaperclip.info
[10] http://tinyurl.com/3bbvjqw
[11] http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/georgetown/2010/05/vatican_questions_nuclear_deterrence.html
[12] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
[13] http://twitter.com/share
[14] http://www.truth-out.org/content/jason-leopold
[15] http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6694/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=2160
[16] https://members.truth-out.org/donate
[17] http://www.truth-out.org/?q=CoerciveReligionMisplacedinUSArmedForces/1311096375

Author retains copyright.

COMMENTS

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Yes, Jesus, we bombed 4 million innocent Asians
by atchala Friday, Jul 29 2011, 9:38am

Thank you sir for mentioning the USAF carpet bombing neutral nations in South East Asia.

I have also seen US Air Force personnel praying prior to their murderous bombing missions in the Australian documentary film, "Bomb Harvest."

Laos and Cambodia were the hardest hit nations not at war with the US. Both nations suffered appalling civilian casualties as a result of America's criminal attacks.

We note the ICC is currently prosecuting members of the Pol Pot regime; perhaps one day justice will prevail and America will be prosecuted for the many ATROCITIES it committed in South East Asia AND is committing in Central Asia and North Africa TODAY.

We are Buddhist and we know America will be forced to confront itself and the reality that it is the world's most criminal nation. America has not made the slightest effort to assist the nations it bombed in the dangerous task of removing unexploded ordnance from the countryside.

To this day our children and farmers continue to be maimed by unexploded bombs and cluster bomblets dropped by the Americans 40 years ago. No reparations, compensation or financial assistance has been extended to Laos by successive American governments. Only Australian engineers, of their own free will, are assisting the Laotian people in the very dangerous task of clearing the land of UXOs. And for that we thank Australia from the bottom of our hearts.

USAF pulls Christian Brainwashing for now
by Jason Leopold via quill - truthout Friday, Aug 5 2011, 2:00am

The Air Force, in response to an exclusive report published by Truthout earlier this week, has withdrawn materials used in a training session that relied upon passages from the New and Old Testament and a quote from an ex-Nazi SS officer to teach missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons.

The Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare training "has been taken out of the curriculum and is being reviewed," said David Smith, chief of public affairs of Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. "The commander reviewed it and decided we needed to have a good hard look at it and make sure it reflected views of modern society."

Smith said the ethics training has been in place for "20-plus years" and the decision to remove it was made on Wednesday after Truthout's report was published. He added that it will now be "given thorough scrutiny" and "folks will be appointed to look at what we have and determine its utility and if they think its useful to continue having an ethics course they will develop a new course."

The course was led by Air Force chaplains and took place during a missile officer's first week in training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Officers who train to be missileers were required to attend the ethics course, which included a PowerPoint presentation on St. Augustine's "Christian Just War Theory" as well as numerous examples of characters from the New and Old Testament the training materials asserted engaged in warfighting in a "righteous way."

St. Augustine's "Qualifications for Just War," according to the way the Air Force characterized it in slides used in the ethics training, are: "to avenge or to avert evil; to protect the innocent and restore moral social order (just cause)" and "to restore moral order; not expand power, not for pride or revenge (just intent)."

One of the PowerPoint slides also contained a passage from the Book of Revelation that claims Jesus Christ, as the "mighty warrior," believed some wars to be just.

At the conclusion of the ethics training session, missile officers were asked to sign a legal document stating they will not hesitate to launch the nuclear-armed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) "if lawfully ordered to do so by the President of the United States or his lawful successor."

The documents' blatant use of religious imagery and its numerous references to the New and Old Testament would appear to constitute a violation of the First Amendment establishing a wall of separation between church and state and Clause 3, Article 6 of the Constitution, which specifically prohibits a "religious test."

The 43-page PowerPoint was included with more than 500 pages of other documents pertaining to a missile officer's first week in training that was released by the Air Force under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and provided to Truthout by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a civil rights organization.

Another PowerPoint slide quoted Wernher Von Braun, a former member of the Nazi Party and SS officer who is regarded as the father of the US space program. Von Braun was not cited in the PowerPoint as a scientific expert, rather, he was specifically being referenced as a moral authority, which is remarkable considering that the Nazi scientist used Jews imprisoned in concentration camps, captured French anti-Nazi partisans, civilians, and others to help build the V-2, a weapon responsible for the death of thousands of British civilians.

MRFF President Mikey Weinstein said more than 30 missile officers contacted his organization over the past week to complain about the Christian imagery and biblical passages in the ethics training. He said the decision by the Air Force to pull the ethics course material is a "great victory for the constitution." [Full disclosure: Weinstein is a member of Truthout's Board of Advisers.]

"We are not going to commend the Air Force for doing something they should have done a quarter-century ago," Weinstein said. "It's an outrage and a deliberate attempt to torture and distort our constitution when the US Air Force mandatorily teaches its nuclear missile launch officers that fundamentalist Christian theology is inextricably intertwined with the 'correct' decision to launch nukes."

Creative Commons CC.

[It seems the Prince of Peace is not the appropriate proponent for nuclear war after all, doh! But yanks are fuckin' dumb; they continue to pray to Jesus before they directly and remotely (UAV drones) kill innocent women and children in Central Asian Corporate wars!]


 
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