|REPORT FROM VANDENBERG AFB, CA.
25 Sept 1999
by GLOBAL NETWORK COORDINATOR BRUCE GAGNON
Since I arrived in California I've been extremely busy and it has proven to be a good trip. I began in Oakland and met with Andy Lichterman from the Western States Legal Foundation that does work around DOE facilities and they are active in Abolition 2000. We spent several hours discussing the links between the technology development programs at DOE and he assures me that all the latest technologies developed for nuclear weapons are "dual" technologies that will be used in space weapons. I invited him to speak at our April, 2000 conference in DC on the subject.
I drove south to Vandenberg from Oakland and spent the day before our protest doing alot of media calls and I visited the base with my local host Bud Boothe. At the base we discovered that the Air Force has created a caged area that they wanted our protest to be in on 9/25 so we had to explain to them that we were not stupid and knew that we had the right to protest in front of the main gate. We had the ACLU call them from Los Angeles and when we arrived for the demo on 9/25 the fenced area had been removed and we had no further problems from them.
The day before the protest we had four articles in newspapers in the region and one of them in Lompoc (the town nearest the base) had printed my letter to the base commander which detailed our reason for being here and our call for base personnel to "lay down your missiles." We also discovered that the base paper had a front page warning to base personnel about the demo which was a help in creating discussion on the base. I really believe in this kind of activity because this is how I learned of the peace movement while being in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and seeing the impact of small demonstrations at the base I was stationed at in California during that period.
On the day of the demo we had 60 folks come from as far away as Los Angeles north to San Luis Obispo. So we got great support from the whole region around the base and beyond. The demo went well (vigiling and speakers) and when it was over a delegation of us took my letter to the commander, which by now had been signed by all present, and asked to see the commander. They said he was not available but that we could give it to a Col. Lamb if we wished. So they called him on the phone and soon enough he arrived. I looked him in the eye and explained it all for him and asked him to tell his boss to send the letter to his bosses in Washington DC. He said that he would do so.
We got extensive coverage of the demo on TV (first story on all three local stations) and good stories in the three pepers in the region the next day. I had brought along the Darth Vader costume which a local man wore for the entire demo holding a sign that read "No weapons in space" and that image was the primary visual that came across on TV and in the newspaper.
Since then I've done another newspaper interview with a weekly in Santa Barbara and two radio shows. One of them invited me to write a 90-second editorial which they had me come into the studio and tape and they will broadcast it twice. While in their lobby I noticed that the station had been voted the best radio station in Santa Barbara by readers of the local newspaper in 1997.
On 9/29 we will go back to the base for a early morning vigil from 7-9 am. Folks from the Catholic Worker House in Los Angeles who could not make the 9/25 demo will come and join with us. After that I'll head home.
The test had originally been planned for 9/29 but was changed to 10/2. We feel quite certain that they postponed it due to our presence at the base.
The best thing is that my expenses for the trip have only cost $500 (airfare and car rental). A local person gave me a check for the GN in the amount of $500 so this whole thing cost us very little. I can assure you that local activists are very grateful that we have done this and the cooperation has been wonderful. People from different cities who haven't met before have now and I hope that they will continue to protest the BMD system at Vandenberg in the near future.
One thing I have been telling everyone is that I read in "Aviation Week & Space Technology" last week that the Air Force is moving quickly on space based lasers that they hope to deploy soon after they get the go-ahead to deploy the BMD system. It is my belief that the so-called "defensive" BMD system is really intended to get the foot in the door, and then they bring on-line the other technologies that will surely be "offensive" in nature.
I've been handing out copies of the Space Command's "Vision for 2020" to all the media I meet and I'm sure to point out the picture in the back of a space based laser firing at a target on earth.
I do hope that people worldwide will pick up the pace on resistance to Star Wars as we move closer to the June, 2000 date where Clinton is expected to give the go-head for early deployment. Please help us build the pressure.
I conclude my suggesting that the GN consider holding one of our future meetings in this region. The level of space warfare work going on in southern California is staggering.
(See also press report on demonstration and original call to action)
The contents herein are Copyright
2000, Global Network/Bruce Gagnon, the article may be reproduced
for non-profit purposes as long as the source is recognised,
otherwise reproduction can be arranged through the Global
The contents herein are Copyright 2000, Global Network/Bruce Gagnon, the article may be reproduced for non-profit purposes as long as the source is recognised, otherwise reproduction can be arranged through the Global Network.