Accuracy in Media

“Big guns try to peddle nuclear-terror film” was the headline over a Wall Street Journal article about a new film backed by U.N. apologist and CNN founder Ted Turner. Titled, “Last Best Chance,” the Journal said that its backers also include Warren Buffett, Tom Brokaw and former Sen. Sam Nunn. It stars former Senator Fred Thompson, who was an actor before he became a Senator, as the American president desperate to prevent Al Qaeda from using nuclear weapons on U.S. soil. The purpose of the movie, financed by the Turner-backed Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), is to “rally the nation to action against nuclear proliferation.” Well, not really. The NTI, which is co-chaired by former Senator Nunn, says the film is actually designed to “build awareness about the threat posed by unsecured nuclear weapons and materials.” And that means more federal funding for a bill named after former Senator Nunn.

We’re all against nuclear terrorism from Al Qaeda. But the film’s agenda is really to promote and pour more money into the so-called Nunn-Lugar bill, named also for the current Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar. Formally known as the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, it is supposed to provide financial assistance for the purpose of dismantling or safely storing the weapons in the old Soviet nuclear arsenal. But that’s not how it has worked out.

Citing various reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the American Foreign Policy Council charges that Nunn-Lugar funds have been “used mainly to destroy obsolete weapons that Moscow will replace with high-tech arms currently under development” and that Nunn-Lugar funds “have been diverted to fund some of this development.” It charges that Nunn-Lugar money has

  • Been diverted to fund development of weapons of mass destruction;

  • Paid Russian nuclear scientists working on weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons testing and nerve agent research, and

  • Helped Russian plants continue to manufacture high-tech weapons.

Rich Kelly, an independent defense analyst based in Washington, D.C., wrote a paper for the Cato Institute calling the Nunn-Lugar Act a “wasteful and dangerous illusion.” He reports that “the evidence suggests that CTR may in the long run threaten, rather than enhance, American security. CTR funds have eased the Russian military’s budgetary woes, freeing resources for such initiatives as the war in Chechnya and defense modernization. Congress should eliminate CTR funding so that it does not finance additional, perhaps more threatening, programs in the former Soviet Union.”

Nunn-Lugar appears to be one of those feel-good programs promising international cooperation. The reality is that U.S. taxpayer funds get diverted for other purposes. The false implication of this new film, which is supposed to show “the threat posed by vulnerable nuclear weapons and materials around the world,” is that international programs like Nunn-Lugar help solve these problems. The next step will be for the U.N. to get more deeply involved.

Turner, of course, is a big financial backer of the U.N.  Media conglomerate Time Warner Inc., the parent company of CNN, recently helped to honor Turner with a “peace award.” Turner is a board member of Time Warner. Actor Michael Douglas, named a “U.N. Messenger of Peace” by U.N. boss Kofi Annan, called Turner a “visionary” in a letter advertising the event.

The film’s star, Fred Thompson, who is now a regular in the popular NBC series “Law & Order,” is a very good actor. He probably did the film as a courtesy to Nunn. But he’s also sharp enough to know that there are better ways to fight nuclear terrorism than send American tax dollars around the world to subsidize Russia.

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