President Obama today offered an empathetic and informative statement on the nuclear nightmare in Japan, expressing U.S. grief, detailing the ways in which we are helping the Japanese and American in Japan, and advising that the situation is not likely to be a threat to the United States.
I know that many Americans are also worried about the potential risks to the United States. So I want to be very clear: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it’s the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific. Let me repeat that: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific. That is the judgment of our Nuclear Regulatory Commission and many other experts.
Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts do not recommend that people in the United States take precautionary measures beyond staying informed. And going forward, we will continue to keep the American people fully updated — because I believe that you must know what I know as President.
I hope this was accompanied privately by a careful reminder to Surgeon General Regina Benjamin that she is in fact the Surgeon General, and that she can’t just go making random statements about what Americans should do to protect their health.
Yesterday, she suggested it might not be a bad idea to take potassium iodide tablets as a precaution against radiation floating across the Pacific to California, an assertion clearly at odds with Obama’s statement today.