Ball, Howard. "Downwind From The Bomb," New York Times Magazine, 9 February 1986, pp.
Here is a Professor of Political Science, University of Utah, writing a book, excerpted here in the
Magazine Section, dealing with the tale of government deception over the years of the
"Downwinders": those who lived in the track of the fallout from the aboveground atomic bomb
tests of the 1950s. In recent years, two federal judges, Christenson and Jenkins, have ruled in
favor of the survivors' claims. Certainly this article lends credence to the arguments that they
were lied to and damaged by government.
There are several good quotes here, from the AEC documents recently declassified, concerning
what the government knew and what the government told the downwinders. Apparently these
officials thought it wiser to risk these people than risk an atomic defeat at the hands of the
Russians. If they lied to these people, it was because they thought lying was justified. The
government had its experts testify in favor of the position it had taken publicly.
Government witnesses were saying one thing openly and another thing "behind the scenes." The
government knew the danger but figured the downwinders were expendable. Indeed, the
government carried on a publicity campaign with which these patriotic and conservative
Mormons tended to agree. The government told them that they were part of the entire Atomic
The Downwinders experienced the results of the tests as early as 1961. The entire population
now has a cancer rate which is high. The government's lawyers argue now that government did
not have to tell the truth to these people. It will clearly be years before the issue is settled by the