Magazine article Insight on the News

Cohen Fires Back

Magazine article Insight on the News

Cohen Fires Back

Article excerpt

The inventor of the neutron bomb would set the record straight about his critique of the House select committee that investigated Chinese espionage at U.S. national labs.

In my freshman year in college, I took a course that identified common fallacies of logic. One of these was ad hominem, an attack on an opponent's character rather than an answer to contentions made. For this reason, and reasons of simple civility, I avoided ad hominem two weeks ago when I criticized that part of the report issued by the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns With the People's Republic of China dealing with Chinese nuclear espionage ("Check Your Facts: Cox Report Bombs," Aug. 9). I disparaged the committee's understanding of nuclear weapons, but I carefully refrained from making any negative personal remarks against members of the committee -- including Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, whom I generally respected as a conservative Republican.

However, in his response to my article ("It Was O'Leary!" Aug. 21), Weldon got off to a bad start, at least with me, by depicting me as "the self-described ... father of the neutron bomb." And he wound up with a worse ending, at least with me, by accusing me of making "false claims" in my article. Such attacks are personally demeaning and not true.

Take, for instance, the issue of the title "father of the neutron bomb." That epithet was ascribed to me by others, mainly in the media. Insight refers to me as "the inventor of the neutron bomb." I accept that because I did invent the concept of this nuclear warhead. In the many articles I have written during the years, that description has been my preference. Weldon's additional phrase, "self-described," is a low blow, but silly.

Second, accusing me of making "false claims" without even a smidgen of evidence to back up the charge in his Insight rebuttal is an even lower blow. I don't mind that Weldon charges me with vanity and self-aggrandizement so much as that he accuses me of dishonesty. Isn't "false claims" just another way of saying I lied? Maybe the truth hurts. Or maybe his angry reaction was intended more to attack the Clinton-Gore administration, which he does far more vehemently.

In my article, I brought up a number of nuclear-weapons matters discussed in the report, with special emphasis on the committee's claims that the Chinese stole U.S. neutron-bomb-design secrets. It was the report's claims that were "false," Weldon notwithstanding, based on the committee's appalling ignorance of what a neutron bomb is.

The committee's charge that the Chinese stole the neutron bomb depends upon the committee's assertion that the W-70 is a neutron bomb, which, as I pointed out, simply isn't true. …

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