January 2000


The principle purpose of the trip was to hold a protest at the 17th Annual Symposium on Space Nuclear Power & Propulsion that was held in Albuquerque.

Fifty people (from N.M., California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas & Florida) turned out in the snow on January 31 at the Hyatt Hotel in Albuquerque. Up on the second floor of the hotel, just overlooking where we stood, the conference of 600 people from NASA, Department of Energy, Air Force, nuclear academia and the aerospace industry were meeting to promote the use of nuclear power in space for so-called "civilian" uses and for military use. In recent years the conference attendance had been declining but this year due to the resurrection of the nuclear rocket to Mars and Star Wars the place was humming like a bee.

I went in early and walked through the second floor of the hotel where the displays and meeting room were set up. Several police officers were on-hand to keep the likes of us from disrupting the affair.

Our protest ran from 10am to 1pm and soon after we set up and began bannering (with the wonderful banners made and sent to us by our affiliate group in Bangladesh) five police on horseback stormed into the middle of our group nearly stomping on us and telling us that we must keep a moving picket line and that we could not have our signs on sticks. Rather than protecting us as they maintained they were doing it was very clear that they were there to try to provoke us into a violent response which they failed to do. We did tell them to back off and went about our business while they watched our three-hour protest, occasionally stomping back into the middle to warn us again to keep moving, which we failed to do with the consistency that they demanded.

The local newspaper covered the event, as well as two TV stations that serve the entire state (one of them Spanish speaking). The on-line extensively covered the protest taking lots of pictures and doing many interviews.

The conference participants that walked by us were quite antagonized that we were out there and the conference organizer, a University of New Mexico nuclear professor, claimed in the newspaper article that we had it all wrong, they are not planning to put any weapons in space.

Later in the day a dozen of us went out to Kirtland Air Force Base to protest at Phillips Lab, a key installation working on space-based lasers for OFFENSE in space.

While in Albuquerque I did three presentations to church groups and at the Center for Action and Contemplation.

Andy Mares from El Paso came to the Albuquerque event and on February 2 we drove to El Paso, stopping at the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico for a tour of the missile museum and the base with our visitor's pass in hand. White Sands is the place that the Army flight tests the Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) part of BMD. They've had a string of failures. This is the place that the Pershing & Patriot missiles were tested. The drive across the huge base revealed active Army units practicing in the field with the big mobile missile launch trucks. That evening I spoke to a group at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where Spanish is the primary language.

The next day Andy took me across the border to the very large city called Juarez. He has a friend, a former journalist, who got on the phone and called all the media in the city and invited them to meet us at a nearby restaurant between 1-4 pm. Much to my surprise and delight four newspaper reporters, 2 TV crews, one radio reporter and a popular newspaper columnist came to hear the story about the nuclearization and weaponization of space. With Andy translating we did the interviews right in the middle of the busy and noisy restaurant. The reporters were particularly interested in the Space Command's "Vision for 2020" and the large poster of the space-based laser now under development. Afterwards we went to a local popular talk show radio station and did a live 15 minute interview, again with Andy translating. It was a special experience.

On January 4 I flew into Houston where Herb Rothschild met me and took me to a meeting in the federal building that was attended by three staffers from two local Congresspersons (both who voted in favor of BMD) and the regional director for Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Herb and I made a complete presentation on the issues and each one of the staffers seemed to find a part of it that was particularly compelling for them. It was good to see the staffer for Sen. Hutchison taking lots of notes while looking through the space command document.

The trips underscore the need for local groups to begin educating local activists and political leaders about the depth of the space issue. The nuclearization and weaponization of space is much greater than just the BMD system. But I've found that once people are given the whole picture of our plans for "control and domination of space to protect U.S. interests and investments" they are moved to begin action to stop this revitalization of Star Wars. And most exciting is that people I met are making plans to come to Washington DC on April 14-17. They understand the historic moment in which we are now immersed.

Bruce Gagnon

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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.

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