Monday, May 25, 2020

OMNI: Star Wars Newsletter #7 March 28, 2020



BUILDING A CULTURE OF PEACE, Justice, and Ecology,

Compiled by Dick Bennett

(#1 December 13, 2006; #2 January 24, 2008; #3 October 4, 2008; #4 October 2-9, 2010; #5, October 1-8, 2011; #6, October 6-13, 2012)

Contents #7,  US Militarization of Space from Reagan to Obama

(#1 December 13, 2006;

#2 January 24, 2008;

#3 October 4, 2008;

#4 October 2-9, 2010;

#5, October 1-8, 2011;

 #6, October 6-13, 2012)

Panel with Air force Secretary Heather Wilson and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), 12-30-17
Letter from Bruce Gagnon, August 1, 2017      
FCNL, Nuclear Calendar
Global Network, Nuclear Conference
Pax Americana Online
Tomgram: McCoy, Super Weapons
Slater, Missile Ban Treaty
Possible New US First Strike, Missile Offense Sites


Panel with Air force Secretary Heather Wilson and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) at Reagan National Defense Forum 12-30-17.  Subject:  US space power, specifically exceeding Russian and Chinese war-fighting capability and US policy if another country attacks a US satellite.  Rogers is Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.  These are the types of automaton warriors deciding US and world future far from and unaffected by the needs and desires of the people of the world.

August 1, 2017  [The first two parts discuss conventional US air war preparation; the third discusses the new THAAD missile base at Kodiak, Alaska, targeting surrounded China and Russia.  –Dick]
Dear Friends,
The last two years I wrote this summer update letter to you from South Korea.  This year I am home in Maine, but in some regards I feel like I am back in South Korea.  The heavy US militarization that so many around the world feel daily as it impacts their lives is bumping up against us here these days more than ever.
On August 26 the Navy Blue Angels flight team will do an airshow in our local community and I am organizing a protest to oppose the event.  Our slogan will be ‘Real Angels Don’t Drop Bombs’.  These airshows are a recruiting gimmick at a time when the military is in desperate need for more of our kids to fight in America’s wars for fossil fuels.
The Blue Angels team burns over 8,000 gallons of fuel in one day and significantly contributes to global warming.  On the one hand our government encourages us to conserve fuel and protect the environment, and then sponsors this wasteful and polluting event.  (It should be remembered that the Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print on the Earth.)
We can’t eat the bombs dropped from these F-18 war planes.  Social and environmental programs are being cut while the Pentagon spends 54% of every discretionary tax dollar on endless war.
In addition, we’ve recently learned that the Navy is preparing for full-scale war games all along the east coast from Florida to Maine. The Navy intends to fire missiles, rockets, lasers, grenades and torpedoes, detonate mines and explosive buoys, and use all types of sonar in a series of live war exercises in inland and offshore waters along the East Coast.

“The Navy must train the way we fight,” says a promotional video for what is called "Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Phase III."
The dates and exact locations of the live weapon and sonar exercises are secret. In all, 2.6 million square miles of land and sea along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico will be part of the aerial and underwater weapons firing.
I mention these two events because they remind me so much about what is happening in South Korea and Okinawa where the Pentagon’s military operations are expanding so much that it must have more land and more off-shore areas, to ‘fight’ its war exercises.  
In South Korea and Okinawa people for years have been daily protesting US military operations.  They’ve been dragged away from newly constructed bases that will service the US Navy, Marines, Army and Air Forces.  They’ve been jailed and beaten.  But they keep going back – day after day.  Many of the people who are doing these protests are older women. Simple farmers and fishing people who see their culture and life being taken from them by these aggressive US military activities in their communities.
I often wonder what it would take for Americans to react in similar ways.  What would it take for Americans to protest every single day for 10 years straight?  Could we ever be so moved and alarmed to take a stand like the people I’ve had the great honor to meet in recent years?
I’d like to share one more story about a place in America that is being heavily militarized against the local people’s will.  It’s Kodiak Island, Alaska.  
Some years ago I visited Kodiak Island on a speaking trip at the invitation of local peace activists.  The mayor of their village came to my talk as the entire community was in an uproar over the plan to build a space launch facility on Kodiak.  Kodiak is famous for bears and salmon fishing and a pristine public beach area called Narrow Cape.  The space launch facility was built at Narrow Cape and today the facility is undergoing a huge expansion.
Israel plans to test its Arrow anti-ballistic missile interceptor from pristine Kodiak Island. Admiral James Syring, director of the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) recently told a congressional committee that the US is Israel’s partner in developing that country’s missile defense system. “Israel has significant range constraints within the Mediterranean. And one of the better places to test is in Alaska, from Kodiak,” Syring said.  The work would be a component of the $80 million contract between MDA and the Alaska Aerospace Corporation.
Also under that umbrella contract, MDA plans to launch THAAD missiles from Kodiak Island in the coming months. The testing of THAAD – Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense program – will include a series of launches. The launch facility at Narrow Cape has been bulldozed and gravel pads have been put down in preparation for THAAD tests. The MDA said there could be up to 300 military and aerospace workers brought to Narrow Cape. Narrow Cape as a favorite public recreation area might now be a thing of the past.
The THAAD ‘missile defense’ system has been deployed by the Pentagon in Guam and just months ago in a melon farming community called Seongju, South Korea.  Protests there have been happening day and night for the last year as the citizens, again mostly elders, are doing everything they can to reject THAAD.  They don’t want the newly constructed US Army base there, they don’t want THAAD there, they don’t want to become a target if war starts with Russia and China (since that is who THAAD would be used against) – the people just want to be left alone.  Like Okinawans they have experienced war and don’t want their children and grandchildren to have to go through such a horrid experience.
Some people speculate that Americans have become spoiled because we make war on others but have not ever had our entire nation devastated by war.  The Russians (who the US media and both political parties love to demonize) lost 27 million citizens when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union during WW II.  That is why they get nervous today as NATO expands up to the Russian borders, and the US deploys ‘missile defense’ systems in Romania and Poland and on Navy Aegis destroyers in the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic seas.
[Bruce with a personal note.  I use his first name because he visited OMNI for 2 days soon after OMNI began, speaking a UAF and other locations.  I hope you will send him a contribution, and to OMNI.  --Dick]
As an organizer I spend my time trying to educate the public about what our country is doing around the world.  I try to get people to react, to join protests, to write letters to the local papers, and to go to places like South Korea and Okinawa to see for themselves what the US military is doing there.  But in all my years as an organizer I can’t think of a time when it has been so hard to turn people out as it is today.  At the same time it seems to me that we are living in the most dangerous time of my life.
I turned 65 just a few weeks ago.  Some folks retire at my age.  I won’t.  I will keep organizing and protesting as long as I can.  I will continue to speak out in solidarity with those around the world who are trying to lift the US military boot off their necks.  I will continue to sit in the streets or step over a ‘forbidden line’ and risk arrest if it helps bring some sanity to our world and helps even just a little bit to protect the future generations.
If you feel the work of the Global Network is still important then please help us continue our efforts for peace on Earth and in space.  We are trying hard but we can’t do it alone.
In peace,
Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502  (blog)
Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. - Henry David Thoreau

Nuclear Calendar [December 23, 2013 for 2014.  Thanks to the FCNL and other anti-nuclear weapons orgs. this detailed, regular calendar continues to this day.]

On Dec. 30, the Nuclear Calendar will not be emailed. Nuclear Calendar emails will resume Jan. 6. Happy holidays and have a good New Year!
Dec. 19-23
Former basketball star Dennis Rodman returns to North Korea.
Dec. 25
Christmas (holiday).

Jan. 1
New Year's Day (holiday).
Jan. 2
U.S. Strategic Command reports to Congress on the underground tunnel network in China with respect to the capability of the United States to use conventional and nuclear forces to neutralize such tunnels and what is stored within such tunnels (Public Law 112-239, Sec. 1045).
Jan. 4
6:00 p.m., Joseph Cirincione, Ploughshares Fund, book discussion ofNuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington.
Jan. 6
Senate convenes.
Jan. 7
House of Representatives convenes.
Jan. 7
Time TBA, Jeffrey Lewis, Marc Quint and Jon Wolfsthal, Monterey Institute, "The Trillion Dollar Nuclear Triad: US Strategic Nuclear Modernization over the Next Thirty Years." Monterey Institute, 1400 K St., NW, Washington.
Jan. 8
12:30-2:30 p.m., Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), report launch of the2014 NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index. At the Four Season Hotel, Dumbarton Room, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington. By invitation only.
Jan. 8
Jim Miller, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, leaves office.
Jan. 8
6:00 p.m., Joseph Cirincione, Ploughshares Fund; and Eric Schlosser, journalist and author, "Reducing the Nuclear Nightmare." Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market St., San Francisco, CA. Register online.
Jan. 10
House floor action on a Omnibus Appropriation/Continuing Resolution for fiscal year 2014 (estimate). Broadcast and webcast onC-SPAN.
Jan. 13
Senate floor action on a Omnibus Appropriation/Continuing Resolution for fiscal year 2014 (estimate). Broadcast and webcast onC-SPAN2.

An email version of the Nuclear Calendar is published every Monday morning when Congress is in session. Subscribe on FCNL's website. Unsubscribe by sending an email to
© 2011 Friends Committee on National Legislation, 245 Second Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002 | 202-547-6000 |
The editor is David Culp. The publication is made possible by generous contributions from the Lippincott Foundation, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Ploughshares Fund, and anonymous foundation, and the individual contributors and supporters of the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the FCNL Education Fund.

Global Network 22nd Annual Conference
Global Network []
 GN List Serve ‎[]‎ 

Monday, December 23, 2013 3:57 PM
Global Network 22nd Annual Conference
 March 14-16, 2014
 Santa Barbara, California
The 2014 Global Network space organizing conference will be held near Vandenberg AFB, California on March 14-16.  We will meet at the La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Center in Santa Barbara.  On Friday, March 14 we’ll organize a 4:00 pm vigil at the front gate of Vandenberg and on the evening ofMarch 15 we will hold a public event at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara

Speakers at the March 15 event will include: David Krieger (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation), Dave Webb (Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament-UK & Global Network board convener), Dennis Apel (Guadalupe Catholic Worker House), Christine Hong (Korea Policy Institute and UC Santa Cruz), Andrew Lichterman (Western States Legal Foundation), and Mary Beth Sullivan (social worker & peace conversion activist).  Music will be provided by singer/songwriters Tom Neilson and Holly Gwinn Graham.

We will have limited sleeping space (dormitory style) available at the La Casa de Maria Retreat center so reservations will be necessary.  (Other hotel information will be available if you would prefer those arrangements.)  We will provide meals for those staying at the conference center.  A sliding scale charge will run from $50-$150 (pay what you can best afford.)

There will be no charge for the Saturday, March 15 public event that will be held at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara.  More details will follow.
 Events will conclude on March 16 after lunch.
  Please sign me up for a sleeping space at the retreat center on March 14 & 15.  Enclosed is _________ (Pay what you can best afford between $50-$150)  Meals are included.
  Please send me local hotel information in the Santa Barbara area.
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502  (blog)

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.  ~Henry David Thoreau 

Pax Americana Now Online
The excellent documentary film Pax Americana & the Weaponization of
Space can now be watched on Youtube. Just go to YouTube and type in the film
name and it should come up for viewing. The film, created by Dennis Delestrac,
has been widely seen in  canada and throughout Europe on public TV. Theaters in Spain and latin America showed it as well. Delestrac was never able to sign a distribution deal to show the film in the US so it is largely unknown to American audiences. We highly recommend you show it in your community.  Space Alert! I (Dec. 2012).  

Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Super Weapons and Global Dominion
Posted by Alfred McCoy at 9:32am, November 8, 2012.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.
At the dawn of space warfare, the first X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle waits for launch in the encapsulation cell of the Evolved Expendable Launch vehicle at Titusville, Florida, April 5, 2010. (CREDIT: U.S. Air Force).
(Click the image)
Artist's conception, circa 2008, of the U.S. Falcon Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle, an unmanned aircraft that will fly at an altitude of twenty miles and destroy targets almost anywhere in the world within an hour. (CREDIT: Defense Advanced Researc
(Click the image)
System F6, a cluster of wirelessly interconnected modules that will form an orbital U.S. satellite system impervious to enemy missile attack, shown in this artist's representation over North America, circa 2009. (CREDIT: Defense Advanced Resea
(Click the image)
[Note for TomDispatch Readers:  As many of you know, without the Nation Institute, a no-name listserv would never have become TomDispatch -- and that splendid outfit has supported this site ever since.  Let me recommend one thing in return: each year the Institute holds a gala dinner to raise much-needed funds to keep its programs operating. (And what programs they are!  Naomi Klein, Jonathan Schell, Chris Hedges, and TD’s Nick Turse are all fellows.  The Institute also sponsors an important fund for investigative journalism and houses the Nation Books imprint, among other things.)  If you have the money, please consider buying a ticket to their dinner as a way to help them by clicking here.  It’s a blast of an event.  This year speakers include Senator Bernie Sanders, NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous, and the Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel, and it’s being MC'd by Chris Hayes.  While you’re at it, check out my recent interview with Bill Moyers.  That way you’ll recognize me and can come by and say hi that night.  I always attend.  Tom]
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Cold War was commonly said to have partially plunged “into the shadows” as a secret, off-the-grid, spy-versus-spy conflict fought between the planet's two superpowers. No one caught this mood better than John le CarrĂ© in his famed Smiley novels which offered a riveting portrait of Soviet, British, and American spies locked in mortal combat, yet with more in common with each other than with either of their aboveground societies.  So many decades later, with the Soviet Union long gone, it’s strange to discover that, in the case of the United States at least, those “shadows” have only lengthened.  Increasingly, as the Iraq War fades into history (and out of memory) and the Afghan War winds down, the American way of war itself is being drawn into those shadows. 
Admittedly, since World War II, control over war -- who to fight, when to wage it, and how to fight it -- has been on a migratory path into the White House and the national security bureaucracy, leaving Congress and the American people out in the cold. In the last decade, however, a high-tech, privatized, covert version of war has become presidential property, fought at the White House’s behest by robots, warrior corporations, and two presidentially controlled “private” forces (a paramilitarized CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command).  With this transformation has gone a series of decisions that have plunged American-style war ever further into darkness.  In the last few years, for instance, two presidents, enveloped in a penumbra of secrecy and without the knowledge of the American people or possibly much of Congress, deployed the latest in experimental weaponry -- weapons that could someday unravel our world -- in the first cyberwar in history.  They wielded what someday will undoubtedly be reclassified as weapons of mass destruction against Iran, paving the way for future global cyberwars which could devastate this country.
In the same years, the same two presidents took control of another new form of conflict, drone warfare.  Across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa, they launched massive, high-tech campaigns of assassination (“targeted killings”) that may have no equivalent in history.  These have involved hundreds of air strikes and thousands of casualties.  Enfolded in secrecy, a complex, increasingly codified panoply of national security processes (including “terror Tuesday” meetings to decide just who to kill), the president has turned himself into our first assassin-in-chief
As the Washington Post recently reported in a three-part series, he has also overseen a process by which ad hoc killing has morphed into a codified, bureaucratic, normalized killing machine deeply embedded in the White House, a “disposal matrix” or “kill list” that will be handed off to future presidents in a “war” (once known as the Global War on Terror) with at least “a decade” to go and possibly no end in sight.  In a language that used to be left to Hollywood’s version of the Mafia, the White House, as judge, jury, and executioner, now regularly puts out hits around the world, while discussing “the designation of who should pull the trigger when a killing is warranted.”
In one Post piece focused on Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti as the key base for presidential war in Africa, a detail caught my eye.  It seemed to capture the ever-darkening nature of this war-making moment.  Speaking of the hundreds of elite special operations forces there, Craig Whitlock wrote, “Most of the commandos work incognito, concealing their names even from conventional troops on the base.”  Put another way, this new form of warfare is far enough into the shadows that the names of a major part of the U.S. military, tens of thousands of elite troops whose command has just gotten its own “secret targeting center” in Washington 15 minutes from the White House, can’t even be known to other U.S. military personnel who work with them. 
Imagine, then, what our world might be like once future techno-versions of presidential war now being developed come online.  What will it mean when, in the third decade of this century, in pursuit of the same Global War on Terror, drone war has morphed into a “triple canopy space shield” and “robotic information system,” as described today in chilling detail by Alfred McCoy, TomDispatch regular and lead author of the new book Endless Empire: Spain’s Retreat, Europe’s Eclipse, America’s Decline?  Imagine when, from outer space to the spreading Camp Lemonniers of planet Earth, the White House can make secret war in a myriad of high-tech and robotic ways without even a nod to you and me.  By then, in at least one possible future, our whole world may lie in those shadows. Tom
Beyond Bayonets and Battleships 
Space Warfare and the Future of U.S. Global Power 
By Alfred W. McCoy
It’s 2025 and an American “triple canopy” of advanced surveillance and armed drones fills the heavens from the lower- to the exo-atmosphere.  A wonder of the modern age, it can deliver its weaponry anywhere on the planet with staggering speed, knock out an enemy’s satellite communications system, or follow individuals biometrically for great distances.  Along with the country’s advanced cyberwar capacity, it’s also the most sophisticated militarized information system ever created and an insurance policy for U.S. global dominion deep into the twenty-first century.  It’s the future as the Pentagon imagines it; it’s under development; and Americans know nothing about it.
They are still operating in another age.  “Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917,” complained Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the last presidential debate.
With words of withering mockery, President Obama shot back: “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed... the question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships. It's what are our capabilities.”
Obama later offered just a hint of what those capabilities might be: “What I did was work with our joint chiefs of staff to think about, what are we going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe?... We need to be thinking about cyber security. We need to be talking about space.”
Amid all the post-debate media chatter, however, not a single commentator seemed to have a clue when it came to the profound strategic changes encoded in the president’s sparse words. Yet for the past four years, working in silence and secrecy, the Obama administration has presided over a technological revolution in defense planning, moving the nation far beyond bayonets and battleships to cyberwarfare and the full-scale weaponization of space. In the face of waning economic influence, this bold new breakthrough in what’s called “information warfare” may prove significantly responsible should U.S. global dominion somehow continue far into the twenty-first century.
While the technological changes involved are nothing less than revolutionary, they have deep historical roots in a distinctive style of American global power.  It’s been evident from the moment this nation first stepped onto the world stage with its conquest of the Philippines in 1898. Over the span of a century, plunged into three Asian crucibles of counterinsurgency -- in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Afghanistan -- the U.S. military has repeatedly been pushed to the breaking point.  It has repeatedly responded by fusing the nation’s most advanced technologies into new information infrastructures of unprecedented power.
That military first created a manual information regime for Philippine pacification, then a computerized apparatus to fight communist guerrillas in Vietnam.  Finally, during its decade-plus in Afghanistan (and its years in Iraq), the Pentagon has begun to fuse biometrics, cyberwarfare, and a potential future triple canopy aerospace shield into a robotic information regime that could produce a platform of unprecedented power for the exercise of global dominion -- or for future military disaster. 
America’s First Information Revolution 
This distinctive U.S. system of imperial information gathering (and the surveillance and war-making practices that go with it) traces its origins to some brilliant American innovations in the management of textual, statistical, and visual data.  Their sum was nothing less than a new information infrastructure with an unprecedented capacity for mass surveillance.
During two extraordinary decades, American inventions like Thomas Alva Edison’s quadruplex telegraph (1874), Philo Remington’s commercial typewriter (1874), Melvil Dewey’s library decimal system (1876), and Herman Hollerith’s patented punch card (1889) created synergies that led to the militarized application of America’s first information revolution. To pacify a determined guerrilla resistance that persisted in the Philippines for a decade after 1898, the U.S. colonial regime -- unlike European empires with their cultural studies of “Oriental civilizations” -- used these advanced information technologies to amass detailed empirical data on Philippine society.  In this way, they forged an Argus-eyed security apparatus that played a major role in crushing the Filipino nationalist movement. The resulting colonial policing and surveillance system would also leave a lasting institutional imprint on the emerging American state.
When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, the “father of U.S. military intelligence” Colonel Ralph Van Deman drew upon security methods he had developed years before in the Philippines to found the Army’s Military Intelligence Division.  He recruited a staff that quickly grew from one (himself) to 1,700, deployed some 300,000 citizen-operatives to compile more than a million pages of surveillance reports on American citizens, and laid the foundations for a permanent domestic surveillance apparatus.
A version of this system rose to unparalleled success during World War II when Washington established the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as the nation’s first worldwide espionage agency. Among its nine branches, Research & Analysis recruited a staff of nearly 2,000 academics who amassed 300,000 photographs, a million maps, and three million file cards, which they deployed in an information system via “indexing, cross-indexing, and counter-indexing” to answer countless tactical questions.
Yet by early 1944, the OSS found itself, in the words of historian Robin Winks, “drowning under the flow of information.”  Many of the materials it had so carefully collected were left to molder in storage, unread and unprocessed. Despite its ambitious global reach, this first U.S. information regime, absent technological change, might well have collapsed under its own weight, slowing the flow of foreign intelligence that would prove so crucial for America’s exercise of global dominion after World War II.
Computerizing Vietnam         
Under the pressures of a never-ending war in Vietnam, those running the U.S. information infrastructure turned to computerized data management, launching a second American information regime.  Powered by the most advanced IBM mainframe computers, the U.S. military compiled monthly tabulations of security in all of South Vietnam’s 12,000 villages and filed the three million enemy documents its soldiers captured annually on giant reels of bar-coded film.  At the same time, the CIA collated and computerized diverse data on the communist civilian infrastructure as part of its infamous Phoenix Program.  This, in turn, became the basis for its systematic tortures and 41,000 “extra-judicial executions” (which, based on disinformation from petty local grudges and communist counterintelligence, killed many but failed to capture more than a handfull of top communist cadres).
Most ambitiously, the U.S. Air Force spent $800 million a year to lace southern Laos with a network of 20,000 acoustic, seismic, thermal, and ammonia-sensitive sensors to pinpoint Hanoi’s truck convoys coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail under a heavy jungle canopy.  The information these provided was then gathered on computerized systems for the targeting of incessant bombing runs. After 100,000 North Vietnamese troops passed right through this electronic grid undetected with trucks, tanks, and heavy artillery to launch the Nguyen Hue Offensive in 1972, the U.S. Pacific Air Force pronounced this bold attempt to build an “electronic battlefield” an unqualified failure.
In this pressure cooker of what became history’s largest air war, the Air Force also accelerated the transformation of a new information system that would rise to significance three decades later: the Firebee target drone.  By war’s end, it had morphed into an increasingly agile unmanned aircraft that would make 3,500 top-secret surveillance sorties over China, North Vietnam, and Laos. By 1972, the SC/TV drone, with a camera in its nose, was capable of flying 2,400 miles while navigating via a low-resolution television image.
On balance, all this computerized data helped foster the illusion that American “pacification” programs in the countryside were winning over the inhabitants of Vietnam’s villages, and the delusion that the air war was successfully destroying North Vietnam’s supply effort.  Despite a dismal succession of short-term failures that helped deliver a soul-searing blow to American power, all this computerized data-gathering proved a seminal experiment, even if its advances would not become evident for another 30 years until the U.S. began creating a third -- robotic -- information regime.
The Global War on Terror          
As it found itself at the edge of defeat in the attempted pacification of two complex societies, Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington responded in part by adapting new technologies of electronic surveillance, biometric identification, and drone warfare -- all of which are now melding into what may become an information regime far more powerful and destructive than anything that has come before. 
After six years of a failing counterinsurgency effort in Iraq, the Pentagon discovered the power of biometric identification and electronic surveillance to pacify the country’s sprawling cities.  It then built a biometric database with more than a million Iraqi fingerprints and iris scans that U.S. patrols on the streets of Baghdad could access instantaneously by satellite link to a computer center in West Virginia.
When President Obama took office and launched his “surge,” escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, that country became a new frontier for testing and perfecting such biometric databases, as well as for full-scale drone war in both that country and the Pakistani tribal borderlands, the latest wrinkle in a technowar already loosed by the Bush administration. This meant accelerating technological developments in drone warfare that had largely been suspended for two decades after the Vietnam War.
Launched as an experimental, unarmed surveillance aircraft in 1994, the Predator drone was first deployed in 2000 for combat surveillance under the CIA’s “Operation Afghan Eyes.” By 2011, the advanced MQ-9 Reaper drone, with “persistent hunter killer” capabilities, was heavily armed with missiles and bombs as well as sensors that could read disturbed dirt at 5,000 feet and track footprints back to enemy installations. Indicating the torrid pace of drone development, between 2004 and 2010 total flying time for all unmanned vehicles rose from just 71 hours to 250,000 hours. 
By 2009, the Air Force and the CIA were already deploying a drone armada of at least 195 Predators and 28 Reapers inside Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan -- and it’s only grown since.  These collected and transmitted 16,000 hours of video daily, and from 2006-2012 fired hundreds of Hellfire missiles that killed an estimated 2,600 supposed insurgents inside Pakistan’s tribal areas. Though the second-generation Reaper drones might seem stunningly sophisticated, one defense analyst has called them “very much Model T Fords.” Beyond the battlefield, there are now some 7,000 drones in the U.S. armada of unmanned aircraft, including 800 larger missile-firing drones. By funding its own fleet of 35 drones and borrowing others from the Air Force, the CIA has moved beyond passive intelligence collection to build a permanent robotic paramilitary capacity.
In the same years, another form of information warfare came, quite literally, online.  Over two administrations, there has been continuity in the development of acyberwarfare capability at home and abroad. Starting in 2002, President George W. Bush illegally authorized the National Security Agency to scan countless millions of electronic messages with its top-secret “Pinwale” database. Similarly, the FBIstarted an Investigative Data Warehouse that, by 2009, held a billion individual records. 
Under Presidents Bush and Obama, defensive digital surveillance has grown into an offensive “cyberwarfare” capacity, which has already been deployed against Iran in history’s first significant cyberwar. In 2009, the Pentagon formed U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), with headquarters at Ft. Meade, Maryland, and a cyberwarfare center at Lackland Air Base in Texas, staffed by 7,000 Air Force employees. Two years later, it declared cyberspace an “operational domain” like air, land, or sea, and began putting its energy into developing a cadre of cyber-warriors capable of launching offensive operations, such as a variety of attacks on the computerized centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear facilities and Middle Eastern bankshandling Iranian money.
A Robotic Information Regime  
As with the Philippine Insurrection and the Vietnam War, the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have served as the catalyst for a new information regime, fusing aerospace, cyberspace, biometrics, and robotics into an apparatus of potentially unprecedented power. In 2012, after years of ground warfare in both countries and the continuous expansion of the Pentagon budget, the Obama administrationannounced a leaner future defense strategy.  It included a 14% cut in future infantry strength to be compensated for by an increased emphasis on investments in the dominions of outer space and cyberspace, particularly in what the administration calls “critical space-based capabilities.” 
By 2020, this new defense architecture should theoretically be able to integrate space, cyberspace, and terrestrial combat through robotics for -- so the claims go -- the delivery of seamless information for lethal action. Significantly, both space and cyberspace are new, unregulated domains of military conflict, largely beyond international law.  And Washington hopes to use both, without limitation, as Archimedean levers to exercise new forms of global dominion far into the twenty-first century, just as the British Empire once ruled from the seas and the Cold War American imperium exercised its global reach via airpower.
As Washington seeks to surveil the globe from space, the world might well ask: Just how high is national sovereignty? Absent any international agreement about the vertical extent of sovereign airspace (since a conference on international air law, convened in Paris in 1910, failed), some puckish Pentagon lawyer might reply: only as high as you can enforce it. And Washington has filled this legal void with a secret executive matrix -- operated by the CIA and the clandestine Special Operations Command -- that assigns names arbitrarily, without any judicial oversight, to a classified “kill list” that means silent, sudden death from the sky for terror suspects across the Muslim world.
Although U.S. plans for space warfare remain highly classified, it is possible to assemble the pieces of this aerospace puzzle by trolling the Pentagon’s websites, and finding many of the key components in technical descriptions at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). As early as 2020, the Pentagon hopes to patrol the entire globe ceaselessly, relentlessly via a triple canopy space shield reaching from stratosphere to exosphere, driven by drones armed with agile missiles, linked by a resilient modular satellite system, monitored through a telescopic panopticon, and operated by robotic controls. 
At the lowest tier of this emerging U.S. aerospace shield, within striking distance of Earth in the lower stratosphere, the Pentagon is building an armada of 99 Global Hawk drones equipped with high-resolution cameras capable of surveilling all terrain within a 100-mile radius, electronic sensors to intercept communications, efficient engines for continuous 24-hour flights, and eventually Triple Terminator missiles to destroy targets below. By late 2011, the Air Force and the CIA had already ringed the Eurasian land mass with a network of 60 bases for drones armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-30 bombs, allowing air strikes against targets just about anywhere in Europe, Africa, or Asia.
The sophistication of the technology at this level was exposed in December 2011 when one of the CIA’s RQ-170 Sentinels came down in Iran.  Revealed was a bat-winged drone equipped with radar-evading stealth capacity, active electronically scanned array radar, and advanced optics “that allow operators to positively identify terror suspects from tens of thousands of feet in the air.”
If things go according to plan, in this same lower tier at altitudes up to 12 miles unmanned aircraft such as the “Vulture,” with solar panels covering its massive 400-foot wingspan, will be patrolling the globe ceaselessly for up to five years at a time with sensors for “unblinking” surveillance, and possibly missiles for lethal strikes. Establishing the viability of this new technology, NASA’s solar-powered aircraft Pathfinder, with a 100-foot wingspan, reached an altitude of 71,500 feet altitude in 1997, and its fourth-generation successor the “Helios” flew at 97,000 feet with a 247-foot wingspan in 2001, two miles higher than any previous aircraft.
For the next tier above the Earth, in the upper stratosphere, DARPA and the Air Force are collaborating in the development of the Falcon Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle.  Flying at an altitude of 20 miles, it is expected to “deliver 12,000 pounds of payload at a distance of 9,000 nautical miles from the continental United States in less than two hours.” Although the first test launches in April 2010 and August 2011 crashed midflight, they did reach an amazing 13,000 miles per hour, 22 times the speed of sound, and sent back “unique data” that should help resolve remaining aerodynamic problems.
At the outer level of this triple-tier aerospace canopy, the age of space warfare dawned in April 2010 when the Pentagon quietly launched the X-37B space drone, an unmanned craft just 29 feet long, into an orbit 250 miles above the Earth. By the time its second prototype landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in June 2012 after a 15-month flight, this classified mission represented a successful test of “robotically controlled reusable spacecraft” and established the viability of unmanned space drones in the exosphere.
At this apex of the triple canopy, 200 miles above Earth where the space drones will soon roam, orbital satellites are the prime targets, a vulnerability that became obvious in 2007 when China used a ground-to-air missile to shoot down one of its own satellites. In response, the Pentagon is now developing the F-6 satellite system that will “decompose a large monolithic spacecraft into a group of wirelessly linked elements, or nodes [that increases] resistance to... a bad part breaking or an adversary attacking.” And keep in mind that the X-37B has a capacious cargo bay to carry missiles or future laser weaponry to knock out enemy satellites -- in other words, the potential capability to cripple the communications of a future military rival like China, which will have its own global satellite system operational by 2020.
Ultimately, the impact of this third information regime will be shaped by the ability of the U.S. military to integrate its array of global aerospace weaponry into a robotic command structure that would be capable of coordinating operations across all combat domains: space, cyberspace, sky, sea, and land. To manage the surging torrent of information within this delicately balanced triple canopy, the system would, in the end, have to become self-maintaining through “robotic manipulator technologies,” such as the Pentagon’s FREND system that someday could potentially deliver fuel, provide repairs, or reposition satellites.
For a new global optic, DARPA is building the wide-angle Space Surveillance Telescope (SST), which could be sited at bases ringing the globe for a quantum leap in "space surveillance.”  The system would allow future space warriors to see the whole sky wrapped around the entire planet while seated before a single screen, making it possible to track every object in Earth orbit.
Operation of this complex worldwide apparatus will require, as one DARPA official explained in 2007, "an integrated collection of space surveillance systems -- an architecture -- that is leak-proof." Thus, by 2010, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency had 16,000 employees, a $5 billion budget, and a massive $2 billion headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with 8,500 staffers wrapped in electronic security -- all aimed at coordinating the flood of surveillance data pouring in from Predators, Reapers, U-2 spy planes, Global Hawks, X-37B space drones, Google Earth, Space Surveillance Telescopes, and orbiting satellites. By 2020 or thereafter -- such a complex techno-system is unlikely to respect schedules -- this triple canopy should be able to atomize a single “terrorist” with a missile strike after tracking his eyeball, facial image, or heat signature for hundreds of miles through field and favela, or blind an entire army by knocking out all ground communications, avionics, and naval navigation.
Technological Dominion or Techno-Disaster?
Peering into the future, a still uncertain balance of forces offers two competing scenarios for the continuation of U.S. global power. If all or much goes according to plan, sometime in the third decade of this century the Pentagon will complete a comprehensive global surveillance system for Earth, sky, and space using robotics to coordinate a veritable flood of data from biometric street-level monitoring, cyber-data mining, a worldwide network of Space Surveillance Telescopes, and triple canopy aeronautic patrols. Through agile data management of exceptional power, this system might allow the United States a veto of global lethality, an equalizer for any further loss of economic strength.
However, as in Vietnam, history offers some pessimistic parallels when it comes to the U.S. preserving its global hegemony by militarized technology alone. Even if this robotic information regime could somehow check China’s growing military power, the U.S. might still have the same chance of controlling wider geopolitical forces with aerospace technology as the Third Reich had of winning World War II with its “super weapons” -- V-2 rockets that rained death on London and Messerschmitt Me-262 jets that blasted allied bombers from Europe’s skies. Complicating the future further, the illusion of information omniscience might incline Washington to more military misadventures akin to Vietnam or Iraq, creating the possibility of yet more expensive, draining conflicts, from Iran to the South China Sea
If the future of America’s world power is shaped by actual events rather than long-term economic trends, then its fate might well be determined by which comes first in this century-long cycle: military debacle from the illusion of technological mastery, or a new technological regime powerful enough to perpetuate U.S. global dominion.
Alfred W. McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A TomDispatch regular, he is the lead author of Endless Empire: Spain’s Retreat, Europe’s Eclipse, America’s Decline (University of Wisconsin, 2012), which is the source for much of the material in this essay.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.  Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.
Copyright 2012 Alfred W. McC  (D: This also appeared in Space Alert! Dec. 2012).

“This lunatic program, dreamt up by Reagan and known by its comic book reality, Star Wars, will never work.”  And “it’s costing billions of dollars and untold losses of intellectual treasure applied to meaningless work.”  Therefore, “it’s time to call for a missile ban treaty.”   But the US has blocked repeated attempts by China and Russia to draft a treaty to ban weapons in space.  -Dick

Global Network []
To: GN List Serve ‎[]‎ 
 Saturday, February 01, 2014 10:29 AM
The Department of Defense, directed by Congress, is undertaking the completion of Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for a potential additional 'Ground-based Mid-Course Missile Defense' (GMD) site in the continental United States. (The other current GMD site is located at Fort Greeley in Alaska.) . . . .
There are several types of "missile defense" systems today.  Some are on Navy Aegis destroyers (testing quite successfully), some are deployed on Army mobile launchers, while the GMD system is based underground.  The GMD system, whose mission is to have an interceptor missile hit an "enemy" nuclear missile in deep space, has not had any real success in their testing program - many of the tests have been scripted to appear successful.

A new GMD site could cost more than $5 billion to build.  Boeing manages the GMD program while Raytheon and Orbital Sciences Corporation build the interceptors ('kill vehicles') and the rockets.
 These "missile defense" systems are key elements in US first-strike attack planning.  Each year the US Space Command runs a computer war game where China and Russia are attacked with hypersonic global strike weapons that attempt to take out their nuclear capability.  After that initial attack China or Russia would attempt to fire their remaining nuclear forces at the US.  It is then that the triad of US "missile defense" systems (ship-based, mobile, and GMD) would be used to pick-off those retaliatory strikes.  One should call "missile defense" the shield that is used after the US first-strike attack sword lunges into the heart of China or Russia.  This is what the Pentagon and the Missile Defense Agency are now developing.

Maine State Rep. Andrea Boland (Sanford) told me last week that North Korea, Iran and Russia are eager to attack the US.  The liberal Democrat wants this GMD base in our state.  Better us, she told me, than someone else. I don't see it that way.  The aerospace industry in Maine wishes to expand their operations across the state....this GMD site appears to be their major effort to make a big splash.
 Now is the time for public outcry against this East coast GMD site.  Activists in Maine, Ohio, Michigan and New York must speak out against the madness of US first-strike attack planning and the colossal waste of our $$$$$ at a time of austerity cuts in social spending.

In the end "missile defense" is destabilizing as it forces China and Russia to make counter-moves that are then used by the Pentagon to justify even more of these kind of programs.  New arms races are fueled by deployment of so-called "missile defense". 
It truly should be called missile offense. 

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502  (blog)

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.  ~Henry David Thoreau 

Contents of #4 2010
PBS film on colonizing outer space.
                              New film on arming the heavens for wars.: Pax Americana
Web sites on Keep Space for Peace Week 2010

Contents of #5 2011
War Is a
Pax Americana Film

Contents of #6 2012
Keep Space for Peace Week (as of August 2012)
Activities 2012
Maine Peace, Justice, Environment


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Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)