Report and Pictures from the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space Meeting
Colorado Springs, April 7-9 1998
Global Network Challenges New U.S. Space Domination Plans
Like its Colorado College counterpart five years ago, the 1998 meeting of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space was appropriately held last month at CC to counter the National Space Symposium meeting at the Broadmoor Hotel. This year's Space Symposium was the occasion for the unveiling of the Space Command's Long-Range Plan, calling for outright U.S. domination of space, and the need for a unified global peace movement response was clearer than ever.
Luckily, such a response is ready for mobilization. More than 50 participants came from around the nation and the globe, including representatives from new affiliated groups like Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy. In addition to attending workshops and strategy sessions, Global Network participants took their message to the streets, visiting Falcon and Peterson Air Force Bases on April 7, and picketing the Space Symposium at the Broadmoor on April 9.
GNAWNPS was formed in 1992 through the impetus of Citzens for Peace in Space in Colorado Springs and Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice, along with many other groups. The coalition was created to have a common umbrella opposing U.S. space policies, and the use of nuclear-powered space probes. Since the group's founding, the Pentagon has turned to a language of dominance in its use of space that has been unprecedented in the 31 years since the U.S. signed the Outer Space Treaty.
The effort to make links with Europe in 1997 paid off for Global Network organizers this year. Five women from the WoMenwith Hill Peace Camp, at the National Security Agency mega-base in Menwith Hill, England, came to the conference, a group that included the conference's keynote speaker, Helen John. Also on hand from the Yorkshire region was Dave Webb of Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who briefed the conference on opposition to the Fylingdales missile-defence radar.
From Germany, Regina Hagen of the Darmstadt peace group, and Wolfgang Schlupp of the Muntlangen group, attended. Tina Bell of WILPF and Merav Datan of LCNP came from New York, while Bill Towe of Peace Action represented the Carolinas.
Despite some organisational turmoil in Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice in the last few months Florida turned out a stimulating group of activists. Mary Beth Sullivan is pulling together several groups on space millitirization issues. Bruce Gagnon, who resigned his FCPJ position, and Louise Mills, have agreed to serve as GN co-ordinators along with Bill Sulzman of Colorado Springs. And Brian Keancy, new co-director of FCPJ, has pledged to work closely with the Global Network, including arranging for a dedicated GN Web site through FCPJ ties.
To follow up on the Cassini launch, two Cassini experts gave us special updates: Michio Kaku, physics professor with City University of New York, and Karl Grossman, author of The Wrong Stuff.
Workshop leaders did not have to make up scare stories regarding the intentions of the Space Command and the intelligence community. At the nearby Space Symposium, speakers like Gen. Howell Estes, commander in chief of the U.S. Space Command, and Keith Hall, director of the super-secret National Reconnaissance Office, were providing scary scenarios in very blunt language.
Key to the new Space Command Long-Range Plan is the view that all planetary space is a U.S.-only resource, which the U.S. government must seek to control. This will require both wars in space, and the pinpoint co-ordination of ground battles from satellites in space. Since many private multinational companies are launching large constellations of imaging and communication satellites this year through 2002, the new theme of Space Command and NRO was "partnering" with industry. In practice, this meant that Space Command pledged to protect the space assets of the multinational corporations, as long as the industry agreed to let the NRO have the final say on the resolution of imaging satellites, and as long as NRO was free to "borrow" communication satellites when it needed to.
This type of collaboration already is occurring. The French satellite SPOT, once seen as an "enemy platform" by NRO, is now feeding images to Space Command for integration with NRO images. Col. James Clark of the USAF Chief of Staff office, said that SPOT has participated with the Air Force in a series of programs called Eagle Vision, National Eagle, Joint Eagle 2, and Eagle Vision Future. By the time the latter program is put into place, the Air Force will augment NRO intelligence with images from at least 37 commercial satellite systems.
But more is coming to an orbit above your heads. The White House revealed at the Space Symposium that it is seeking $ 100 million in fiscal 1999 for a Space-Based Laser Demonstration platform to test a hydrogen-fluoride laser to shoot down "enemy" missiles (and who is the enemy with intercontinental missiles, anyway?). In fact, after a protofascist speech from Republican Congressman Curt Weldon, a White House official was put in the uncomfortable position of insisting that he wanted to rip up the ABM and Outer Space treaties and put weapons in space as badly as the Republicans did. The only reason President Clinton had vetoed three military space projects last fall, said special assistant for national security Robert Bell, was that members of Congress wanted to launch systems that had not been proven to work, and that had no viable military utility. Such is the "debate" among the branches of government on military space policy.
Only a strong and united movement can defy the plans of the space warmongers, and this is what Global Network members pledged at their counter-conference. Helen John provided an excellent example of organising in her Tuesday evening keynote. John lived for years at the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp that challenged cruise missiles and Pershing-2 missiles in Europe, and she applied many of the lessons learned at Greenham to her work at Menwith Hill.
Menwith has become the world's largest "Regional SIGINT Operations Center," a joint intelligence base in which the NSA and NRO share responsibilities. John said that although the women's camp did not begin until 1993, protests have been going on at the base since the mid-1970s. Menwith Hill was established in the early 1950s by the Army Security Agency, but the NSA took over as the U.S. wanted to make clear that the base was solely an American facility. Even though a set of new bye-laws tried to claim Menwith was a Royal Air Force base, the women challenged the laws on the basis that Menwith has no British military involvement whatsoever. John called the U.S. "the biggest rogue nation there is."
John described how the women changed the structure of the peace camp to insure more local publicity, and how they launched a deliberate campaign of criminal damage against NSA assets. She said that teams of women were able to find out frightening things about U.S. sovereignty claims at the base, since "the spying that has been going on for years has led the military-industrial complex to believe it can get away with anything it wants."
The women of Menwith Hill believe that providing technical details about the base will not change many people's minds about the NSA and NRO. Instead, the peace camp participants try to show how women and children will be directly affected by the operation of multi-billion-dollar space warfare and intelligence systems.
"They treat us as though we're the enemy" John said. "I suppose they're right, because we're coming to get them - and we will!"
Even members of the intelligence community, are beginning to realise the dangers of being too brazen. Jeffrey Harris, former director of the NRO who now heads Space Imaging Corp. in Denver, warned that space dominance should not be used to reinforce inequities, because a "hungry mother, particularly with access to the Internet, can be more dangerous than a terrorist."
The Global Network conference also featured a special noon keynote on Wednesday by Michio Kaku, who called for a scientists' signature campaign to oppose nuclear-powered space exploration, in the same way a campaign had been launched against Star Wars. Students from local high schools were on hand to listen to Kaku give a history of his work as a protege of Edward Teller, and his later moves to oppose Star Wars and the Cassini program.
The Global Network business meetings emphasised immediate goal-setting over theoretical structure. While some groups expressed concern that the coalition's name was too long, and suggested decisions needed to be made about possible nonprofit and NGO status, many of these decisions were postponed in favour of making sure a minimal working information infrastructure is in place. Camy Condon of New Mexico and other participants helped hammer out a structure for an information network, using a Web site coordinated by Louise Mills. While this is being set up, Louise will work with Karl Grossman on grant issues.
Disseminating information about the Space Command's new plans was seen as a primary goal for 1998. Bill Sulzman of CPIS got one of the earliest chances to do this on April 13, when he appeared before a Disarmament NGO at the UN in New York. CPIS also was asked to prepare a position paper for the Non-Proliferation Treaty "PrepCon" meeting in Geneva at the end of April.
On the action front, groups were encouraged to support actions in August, one year before Cassini is slated to make its flyby of Earth. Everyone left the conference in high spirits, after spending many fun hours in hearing stories about each other, and participating in an entertainment night on April 9. We're all looking forward to next year, when Regina has pledged to pull together a conference based in Stuttgart. But Global Network members also realise their job has never had a clearer focus than now, when the U.S. is actively putting plans in place for space domination.
Membership in the Global Network can be obtained by individuals or groups by paying between $25 - $100 annual dues (pay what you can best afford in this sliding scale) and send it to the above address. We are now in the process of applying for 501 (c) (3) status. We are also applying for NGO status at the United Nations. We have also asked for affiliation with the Abolition 2000 Network.
Cassini No-Flyby Actions are planned for August 15 all over the globe. We urge you to organize some event in your local community and to let us know so that we can help keep track of what actions are planned.
On July 4th actions by Global Network members were held to protest against U.S. plans for military domination of outer space. Actions took place in Colorado Springs, Menwith Hill U.S. spy base in England and in the U.S. spy base at Bad Ibling, Germany.
The next official meeting of the Global Network will be held in 1999 in Darmstadt, Germany. The date is now being arranged for around March to coincide with cheaper airfares from the U.S. (like $350 roundtrip from New York). More info later.
Two print newsletters this year are planned and regular e-mail updates are sent out.
Pictures from the Conference
(Click on each picture to get a bigger version)
|Colorado Springs - host to the April 1998 meeting of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space|
|Cheyenne Mountain which houses NORAD. Information from the BMEWS at Fylingdales in Yorkshire, England is fed here directly as part of the "Star Wars" system.|
|Falcon Air Force Base - Colorado Springs has more than its fair share of military bases. A coach took us to Falcon Air Base (home of the 50th Space Wing - and the "Space Warfare Center" and from where the satellite controlled Global Positioning System is run) just as it began to snow ...|
|... Here, we were in time to see the shifts change and were able to advertise the "British Women & the U.S. Space Technomonster" public meeting that evening...|
|... Some of us stood around just outside the perimeter line at the entrance to the base taking pictures and and chatting to the police who pulled up to see what we were up to.|
|Peterson Air Force Base - (home of NORAD, USSPACECOM, AFSPC, 21st Space Wing and 302nd Space Wing). The BMEWS and Space Tracking radar at Fylingdales on the North Yorkshire Moors, has a direct link to the NORAD blast-proofed battle management and surveillance installation inside nearby Cheyenne Mountain. So there was a Yorkshire connection in more ways than one on this day. Despite asking politely, we were not allowed into the Visitors Centre on Peterson Air Base but two women P.R. officers did come and talk to us on the bus. Later, one of the officers did come to the Conference to give a slide presentation.|
|Later still (after the Conference had finished) some of the women from the Menwith Peace Camp and one or two local women (who, due to their participation in actions against the base, had been banned from entering) paid another visit. They innocently asked if they could visit the Visitors Centre and were allowed in. Inside they obtained some interesting and useful information and made appropriate comments in the visitor's book.|
|Demonstration at the 14th National Space Symposium being held at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs at the same time as the Global Network Meeting. 500 people from industry and the government came together to discuss the future of space technology. Gen Howell M. Estes III, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (CINCNORAD) and United States Space Command (USCINCSPACE), and commander of Air Force Space Command (COMAFSPC), delivered a speech entitled Convergence of Space Sectors - A New Symbiosis.|
|The U.S. has $50 billion invested by government and private equipment in space. This is expected to increase tremendously in the near future as the number of satellites increases from 550 to more than 2,000. The military are looking to "protecting the sovereignty" of US military and commercial satellites.|
|On the morning of April 9th the Symposium was opening the doors of its exhibition centre to the general public. We went with a number of imaginatively worded and well made banners. The exhibition hall was packed with high tech companies displaying and selling their wares in a most impressive manner to the military, to government and to the public. The glossiness, the images, the messages on show were awesome and more than a bit scarey!|
|The police on the door recognised Helen John who was the only one not allowed in to the exhibition hall. She had to wait outside with her own private "minder" while the rest of us went in and filled carrier bags full of shiney propaganda and posters.|
|Of course, grandmothers for peace were there too - represented by Rita.|
|Afterwards we took our places outside with the banners. Amongst the literature on display and available wasthe USSPACECOM's "Vision 2020" and the Executive Summary of its Long Range Plan (some copies of the full version were obtained from the Symposium).|
|And there was still some time during all this to visit the "Garden of the Gods". A beautiful, peaceful place - so named by native Americans.|
|A memorable sight in the "Garden of the Gods" was "Balanced Rock" - like the world, balanced on a knife edge, it looks like it could topple over at any minute.|
Pictures by Dave Webb and Regina Hagen