WEAPONS IN SPACE: A MEDIA BLACK-OUT

Presentation at Press Freedom Conference
San Francisco
April 28, 2001

by Karl Grossman

The United States is seeking to make space a new arena of war-but you wouldn't know that from mainstream media which limits its coverage to U.S. plans for "missile defense." The wider space military program is laid out in publicly available documents-easily accessible to media-such as the recent report of the "Space Commission" chaired by the new U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and thus a blueprint for the space military program of the new Bush administration. "Power projection in, from and through space" is advocated for the U.S. in the report by the 13-member "Space Commission," formally called the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization. Its report, issued January 11, says: "In the coming period the U.S. will conduct operations to, from, in and through space in support of its national interests both on the earth and in space." It urges the president "have the option to deploy weapons in space." It recommends the U.S. Space Command which now coordinates Army, Navy and Air Force space divisions become a "Space Corps" modeled after the Marine Corps and then possibly a separate "Space Department" equal to the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Rumsfeld "Space Commission" report follows a series of U.S. military reports in recent years that call for the U.S. to "control space" and from space "dominate" the Earth below. As the U.S. Space Command's "Long Range Plan" declares: "The time has come to address, among warfighters and national policy makers, the emergence of space as a center of gravity for DoD [Department of Defense] and the nation….Space power in the 2lst Century looks similar to previous military revolutions, such as aircraft-carrier warfare and Blitzkrieg." A key rationale for Star Wars now is the global economy.

When it first emerged under Ronald Reagan in 1983, the U.S. Star Wars program was purportedly needed to fend off what Reagan regarded as the "evil empire," the Soviet Union. But there is no Soviet Union any longer. Now the U.S. would, from the "ultimate high ground" of space, "dominate" the planet below in part to keep the global economy on track. Says the U.S. Space Command's "Vision for 2020" report , its cover depicting a laser weapon shooting a beam down from space zapping a target below: "The globalization of the world economy will also continue- with a widening between 'haves' and 'have-nots.'" From space-the United States, the engine of the global economy-would keep those "have-nots" in line. "Vision for 2020" declares the mission of the U.S. Space Command as "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict." "Vision for 2020" compares the U.S. effort to "control space" and Earth below to how centuries ago "nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests," referring to the great empires of Europe that ruled the waves and thus the Earth to maintain their imperial economies. The "Long Range Plan" states: "The United States will remain a global power and exert global leadership. The United States won't always be able to forward base its forces… Widespread communications will highlight disparities in resources and quality of life-contributing to unrest in developing countries…The global economy will continue to become more interdependent. Economic alliances, as well as the growth and influence of multi-national corporations, will blur security agreements…The gap between 'have' and 'have-not' nations will widen-creating regional unrest…One of the long acknowledged and commonly understood advantages of space-based platforms is no restriction or country clearances to overfly a nation from space."

The U.S. Space Command seeks to become "the enforcement arm for the global economy," as Bill Sulzman, director of Citizens for Peace In Space put it at the international conference last year of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power In Space. "Missile defense" is described in the "Long Range Plan" other U.S. plans for space warfare as a "layer" in a broader program. "It is the foot in the door," says Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network. Who can be against "defense?" And so the Rumsfeld "Space Commission" report raises the specter of a "Space Pearl Harbor" without missile defense. Missile defense has been the spin-"to get a deployment OK," says Gagnon, "then to be followed up by the real Reagan Star Wars program that includes space-based weapons." And mainstream media have succumbed to the spin.

Retired Rear Admiral Eugene J. Carroll, Jr., vice president of the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C., speaks of trying to get journalists to understand the broader space military program involved. Carroll, for a story that will appear in next week's "Extra!" magazine of the media watch group FAIR: "Missile defense doesn't make any sense and everybody realizes that. The least likely threat we face is some third-rate nation developing an ICBM and launching it at the United States knowing they will get back 50 times what they send. There are all kinds of ways that are cheaper and more reliable-smuggling in a suitcase bomb, for example-to inflict harm and not be subject to instantaneous retaliation." Says Carroll: "You look at the Rumsfeld report and his [Rumsfeld's] statements and the other reports and you have to realize that they are thinking in terms of militarizing space, of space warfare." But "the media just doesn't get it," declares the retired admiral.

And this is all far more than reports and rhetoric. The Pentagon-under Clinton-gave the go-ahead in December for development of the Space-Based Laser, a joint project of TRW, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Public Affairs Office at the Army's Redstone Arsenal describes it as having a "lifecycle budget" of $20 to $30 billion. Says Admiral Carroll: "We are going into space with lasers. Space is seen as a new place to wage war. Already, we are underwater, over-water, on-the-land, in-the-air-and now we want to go to another dimension: space." The admiral says that journalists he has asked why they're not reporting the wider space military program explain that "as long as The White House doesn't present it that way, as long as there is no talking about this in Congress, it is a non-event." "The news flag has to be up so they can report on it," says Carroll.

Gagnon of the Gainesville, Florida-based Global Network sees corporate power as the major influence for media not reporting on the broader space military program. I quote him in the "Extra!" article as saying: "The difference between now and the 1980s when Reagan first pushed Star Wars is the greater corporate control of media. Today the media is more manipulated by corporate forces and so the aerospace industry and their corporate media allies can keep the real plans of 'space control' and 'domination' suppressed." Gagnon says: "My experience is that the staffs from the top to the bottom of newspapers, TV and radio are timid to report on the U.S. program for space warfare because of fear that their corporate sponsors will pull the money strings. The result is that this vital information is being censored. It is a sin of media omission." He adds that the current "downsizing of media outlets" has exacerbated media people's "fear for their jobs." Mike Moore wrote a lengthy story on the Rumsfeld "Space Commission" report which appears in the current issue of "The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists." States the article: "The heart of the report lies in the bald assertion that it is time to weaponize space." The "Space Commission" report, the story by Moore, a senior Bulletin editor and up until last year in editorial charge of the "Bulletin," goes on, shows: "Apparently, Rumsfeld will push vigorously for the weaponization of space, soon rather than later." Before the "Bulletin," a reporter for the "Kansas City Star," "Chicago Daily News," "Chicago Tribune" and "Milwaukee Journal," Moore says for the article in "Extra!" that it "amazes me" that other journalists have "missed" the central message of the report. His view: under the pressure of time and other tasks "very few reporters looked at the entire document" and instead did "superficial" pieces following the lead of government "briefers." He says: "Rumsfeld is our defense secretary and this report should be looked at quite carefully." Rumsfeld is a key to the new Star Wars push.

Bill Hartung, director of the World Policy Institute at the New School University in New York, did extensive research on Rumsfeld and his ties with "the Star Wars lobby" and offered to share it with media. The material was also included in an article-"Star Wars II: Here We Go Again"-by Hartung and Michelle Ciarrocca in the June 19th, 2000 issue of "The Nation." A main focus: Rumsfeld's links with the Center for Security Policy, a right-wing "think tank" in Washington, D.C. whose advisory board includes such Star Wars promoters as Edward Teller and executives of aerospace companies including Lockheed Martin. Rumsfeld, who received the Center for Security Policy's "Keeper of the Flame" award in 1998, has been described by it as a "trusted adviser" and financial supporter. But, complains Hartung in the "Extra!" article, "none of the mainstream articles talked about Rumsfeld's connection to the Star Wars lobby." Still trying to get the information out, he says "I sent several letters to the New York Times since he was tapped as secretary of defense but no response." Says Alice Slater, president of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment, mainstream media have given Rumsfeld "a free ride…It's appalling. The U.S. is opening up a new battleground in space but the mainstream media just keeps reporting on it as a 'protective shield.' Never is it put in the context of the sweeping program to militarize and weaponize space." Slater also sent a letter-to-the-editor to the "New York Times" which went unpublished. Her letter scored "U.S. efforts to take military control of outer space" and linked this to Rumsfeld-"the driving force for a new 'Son of Star Wars' which is causing a new arms race with Russia and China." Rumsfeld has a media connection, too: board membership beginning in 1992 of the Tribune Company which owns the "Chicago Tribune," "Los Angeles Times," "Newsday." It describes itself on its website as "a leading media company with operations in television and radio broadcasting, publishing and interactive." The people involved in the situation can be as blunt as the documents.

Bruce Jackson, vice president of corporate strategy and development of Lockheed Martin, told me in an interview in December: "I wrote the Republican Party's foreign policy platform." I got him on the phone for an interview while researching a book on Star Wars for Seven Stories Press. He proudly noted he had been selected chairman of the Foreign Policy Platform Committee at the Republican National Convention where he was a delegate. Jackson's declaration called out for immediate dissemination and with Judith Long I wrote an article highlighting it which appeared in the January 29th, 2001 issue of "The Nation." Meanwhile, using all the search engines on the Web, I looked for any mainstream media reference to Jackson and the GOP foreign policy platform. I found just one article. The piece, in the "Washington Post" on August 22, 2000 reported that Jackson was chairman of the Foreign Policy Platform Committee at the GOP convention and it included a series of comments by him. Left out: his day job at Lockheed Martin, the world's biggest weapons manufacturer and major player in U.S. space military activities. Jackson is also on the Center for Security Policy's advisory board. Although U.S. citizens, due to U.S. media lazy-and worse-are unaware about what the U.S. is up to militarily in space, other nations do know. Because of U.S. space military plans, last November 20 at the United Nations, a vote was held on a resolution for "Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space." It sought to "reaffirm" the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the basic international law on space, and specifically its provision that space be reserved for "peaceful purposes." Some 163 nations voted in favor. The U.S.-an original signer of the treaty-abstained. Did you read or hear about this in U.S. media? Virtually but, let me note, not totally all of mainstream media have missed the import of the Rumsfeld "Space Commission report. Larry Wheeler, Washington correspondent of "Florida Today," which covers the "Space Coast," wrote on February 9, 2001: "In a matter of weeks and without presidential appointment or decree, the nation's policy toward space appears to have shifted from one of civilian exploration and commercial exploration to one dominated by war fighters. In the weeks since President Bush was sworn in, four-star generals and their aides have stepped forward to flex their new-found muscle, driven largely by recommendations contained in [the] recent [Rumsfeld] report." The legislation that got the Rumsfeld "Space Commission" established in 2000 was authored by Senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican. Of the U.S. "controlling space," Smith in February said for a TV documentary-"Star Wars Returns"-I'm making with EnviroVideo said: "It is our manifest destiny. You know we went from the East Coast to the West Coast of the United States of America settling the continent and they call that manifest destiny and the next continent if you will, the next frontier, is space and it goes on forever." Now it's U.S. Cosmic Manifest Destiny. Canada, our neighbor and in no way a potential rival, has been a leader internationally in seeking to stop the U.S. plan to make the heavens a war zone. At the UN last October, Marc Vidricaire of the Canadian delegation declared: "Outer space has not yet witnessed the introduction of space-based weapons. This could change if the international community does not first prevent this destabilizing development through the timely negotiation of measures banning the introduction of weapons into outer space. It has been suggested that our proposal is not relevant because the assessment on which it rests is either premature or alarmist. In our view, it is neither. One need only look at what is happening right now to realize that it is not premature." "There is no question that the technology can be developed to place weapons in outer space," said Vidricaire. "There is also no question that no state can expect to maintain a monopoly on such knowledge -- or such capabilities -- for all time. If one state actively pursues the weaponization of space, we can be sure others will follow." Where have you seen this reported?

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his first address at the UN, to the "Millenium Summit" in September, stated that "particularly alarming are the plans for the militarization of the outer space" and, in Canada in December, Putin and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien issued a joint statement announcing that "Canada and the Russian Federation will continue close cooperation in preventing an arms race in outer space." From around the world, representatives of governments and NGO's gathered in Moscow for a conference this month--between April 11th and 14th--entitled "Space Without Weapons" and pressed the effort to continue to keep space set aside for "peaceful purposes." Where have you seen this reported?

The U.S. government, meanwhile, boycotted the "Space Without Weapons" conference. And U.S. mainstream media have, in turn, stayed away from reporting on the U.S. program to arm the heavens.

There is only a narrow wind to strengthen the Outer Space Treaty and ban all weapons in space-to stop this move on the heavens by the U.S., to keep space for peace. "Just" missile defense? It's far more-although U.S. citizens aren't being informed.


Karl Grossman is full professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. He has specialized in investigative reporting for 35 years. He is an associate of the media watch group FAIR.
He is a principal of EnviroVideo, a New York-based company which produces news, interview programs and documentaries for television and the Web. Video documentaries he has written and hosted for EnviroVideo include "Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens," "Nukes In Space 2: Unacceptable Risks," "Three Mile Island Revisited" and "The Push To Revive Nuclear Power," all of which have received video festival awards. His new video documentary, "Star Wars Returns," has just been released by EnviroVideo (1-800-ECO-TV46 or http://www.envirovideo.com).
His books include "The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program's Nuclear Threat To Our Planet," "Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed To Know About Nuclear Power," "Power Crazy," "The Poison Conspiracy" and "Nicaragua: America's New Vietnam?" His new book, "Weapons In Space," is forthcoming from Seven Stories Press (http://www.info@sevenstories.com or 212-226-8760). Journalism by Grossman on the nuclearization and weaponization of space have been included six times on Project Censored's annual lists of the ten most "under-reported," "best-censored" stories. Grossman is the recipient of the George Polk, James Aronson and John Peter Zenger Awards.
Grossman's home address: Box 1680, Sag Harbor, New York 11963. Telephone: 631-725-2858. E-mail: kgrossman@hamptons.com
The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power In Space can be reached at 352-337-9274. Its website: http://www.space4peace.org and E-mail: globalnet@mindspring.com Its address: PO Box 90083, Gainesville, Florida 32607.



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