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He Blew the Whistle on Iraq

It’s easy to wonder nowadays if there’s anything Americans won’t do for a buck. This week, however, San Marcos businessman Jerold Kowalsky showed pretty clearly that there is. We’re grateful for that--almost as grateful as we are for the fact that he probably kept Iraq from getting the bomb, at least for now.

Kowalsky, a 57-year-old Naval Academy graduate and former submarine officer, is president of CSI Technologies, which makes specialized voltage capacitors, devices that store and concentrate large amounts of electrical power. They’re handy for all sorts of things, and can be configured to trigger nuclear bombs.

For some years, Iraq has purchased the firm’s capacitors for use in radar and radio transmitters. In 1988, however, Iraqi agents placed an order for devices whose configuration was appropriate only for a nuclear trigger. Kowalsky immediately notified U.S. authorities. Over the next two years, he also participated in an elaborate sting operation that foiled Baghdad’s plot and, this week, resulted in the breakup of a London-based Iraqi-sponsored nuclear smuggling ring.

The Iraqis had long been good customers and there was money to be made in the deal, but Kowalsky’s reasons for blowing the whistle were straightforward and compelling: “With the Cold War winding down,” he said, “I regard nuclear proliferation as a major threat to world peace and (believe) that foreign countries building nuclear bombs is a major hazard.”

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Kowalsky’s willingness to put principle ahead of this quarter’s profit is a welcome affirmation of the notion that there’s a place for conscience on the bottom line.


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