The Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of The Commons

The Dark of the Valley: Corrections and connections

Regarding the review of the documentary In the Dark of the Valley that appeared in the January 2022 issue of the Community Alliance, Denise Duffield, associate director for the Los Angeles office of Physicians for Social Responsibility, has provided feedback. While affirming the accuracy of the summary outlining the purpose of the documentary, she had some corrections.

Two of the corrections were technical: 1) The problem with the sound happened only in the initial showing, and it was a software issue with MSNBC that was quickly corrected, and 2) the length of the documentary is an hour and a half, not the three-hour time slot listed.

In addition, the Department of Energy (DOE) is the agency responsible for cleaning the radioactive contamination, not NASA or Boeing. The DOE has not been any more responsive to fulfilling its legal responsibilities than Boeing or NASA.

As for Boeing, coincidentally, ABC 20/20’s 90-minute documentary on the Boeing 737 Max tragedy, broadcast on Dec. 17, 2021, laid out in painful detail the deliberate deceptiveness that resulted in two airliners smashing into the ground at full speed, killing 346 people.

Bob Woodruff, the ABC reporter who struggled for years to recover from traumatic brain injury (TBI) suffered in Iraq in 2006, conducted the interviews and did the narration. His solid, steady style allowed the egregiously inhumane calculations to speak for themselves.

The background for the tragedy began when Boeing was competing with Airbus to provide a plane less expensive to operate. Boeing chose to install cheaper to run but larger engines on its existing 737.

Fearing an imbalance could lead to a stall, Boeing created a system to automatically correct the plane if a single mechanical device signaled the plane was due to stall. It lacked redundancy, and there was no way to override it.

Worse, the system was not listed in the pilot’s manual so no one knew it was there, and the plane was advertised as not requiring any pilot training, something that is a huge expense for airlines. The decision to keep the system hidden was deliberate. While recommended by the engineer in charge of the project, obviously it was signed off on by senior executives. (The only person prosecuted was this engineer.) 

Boeing had a long history of engineering excellence that had gained the deep trust of pilots, but the company lost that when money was made the overriding value. This is the same issue with the Santa Susana Field Lab addressed in the documentary.

Although both radical and highly unlikely, it seems fair that as long as corporations are seen as having the same rights as real people for purposes of contributions to political candidates, they should also be subject to the same types of consequences if found guilty of felony-level crimes, up to and including murder and manslaughter. 

The punishment must be more than or other than financial. The top-level management (president, CEO, the vice presidents, controller, as well as the board) would be the ones to receive the sentences and the punishment. One or two major convictions, and the world would begin to change.

  • David E. Roy, a recently retired psychotherapist after 45 years, moved to Fresno in 1987. His Ph.D. combined psychotherapy, philosophy and theology. He’s worked as a journalist in Tucson, was on Fresno’s Human Relations Commission and was the first marriage and family therapist hired by Fresno County. He’s currently working on a coherent theory about the roots of our species’ current trend toward domination and violence. He oversees 12 rescued cats.

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