"Keep space for peace"
British Prime Minster Tony Blair's pledge to give the USA his full support in the "War Against Terror" has rekindled peace activism in the UK. David Webb, during a short visit to Sydney spoke to The Guardian on behalf of the Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). The CND has been working for some time on a campaign against naval bases in Yorkshire. There are two National Security Agency (NSA) bases in Yorkshire — one at Menwith Hill and the other at Fylingdales. They are both involved with George Bush's Star Wars and the militarisation of space by the United States Space Commands. The Menwith Hill base in particular is like a sister station to Pine Gap in Central Australia, so it's great to be able to make contact with peace groups who are working on the issue here as well. Another organisation I'm a member of is Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. Our main effort is directed at getting peace groups around the world who are concerned about these issues networking together, so that we could share knowledge and information on our activities to maximise the success of our protests. Obviously we are up against extraordinarily powerful forces here and we want to be as economical with our efforts as we can. I want to tell people here about the activities in the UK. Mr Blair, our Prime Minister, has joined with US President George Bush Jnr in fighting a war against the Afghan people. He was one of the first people to come forward — not to give aid — but to actually lead the way into the conflict. Peace groups in the UK are obviously not happy about that. Not only peace groups, but other many other groups too joined protests against the war. Thousands of people have already demonstrated in London and there more protests planned. Spy bases like Menwith Hill and Pine Gap are supposed to be intelligence gathering systems, but obviously they weren't able to give enough intelligence to stop what happened on September 11. And yet they carry on regardless; they are continuing to pump money into those bases and systems, especially into the American Star Wars program. We are particularly concerned that the action the US is currently taking — along with their hangers-on — is just another way of forcing globalisation and US interests throughout the world. That's what we think the militarisation of space is all about. In fact, it is their stated aim. Industrial espionage In a document called Vision 2020, the United States Space Command says that domination of space is not only very important for fighting wars, but as a way to control global commerce as well. And dominating space means the ability to deny others access if they wish to. Of course that goes against all kinds of international laws and treaties, like the Outer Space Treaty and the ABM Treaty, which the US is now opting out of. Their six-month notice period for withdrawal is coming up. We believe it's a very dangerous step; further destabilising the situation the world is in. That's why the slogan we are using is Keep space for peace. We have no objection to using space for peaceful purposes. Menwith Hill uses the Echelon system, which was developed and operated by and on behalf of the USA and its partners in the UK/USA intelligence alliance (USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand). In Australia, Echeleon is used by the DSD from its base at Geraldton in Western Australia. In this system computers, known as DICTIONARY are used to select messages which may include combinations of specific names dates, places, subjects its. DICTIONARY automatically searches through intercepted messages looking for particular subjects and people from target lists. Those matching particular criteria are sent for further processing by analysts. Menwith Hill has been investigated twice now by the European Parliament because they were concerned that the US was using the system to intercept faxes, emails and telephone calls to spy on European commercial enterprises. In particular they were questioning how the NSA and CIA hijacked billion dollar European business deals, with the information then given to American businesses so that they could pre-empt those deals. Investigative Journalist Duncan Campbell said, "It is the new Cold War. The United States intelligence agencies, facing downsizing after the fall of the Berlin wall, have found themselves a new role spying on foreign firms to help American business in global markets." Former NATO computer expert, Brian Gladwell said, "The analogy I use is where we were 250 years with the pirates on the high seas. Governments never admitted they sponsored piracy, yet they all did behind the scenes. If we now look at cyberspace we have state-sponsored information piracy." We don't know whether this kind of activity goes on at Pine Gap, but we suspect it does; information on business deals in Asia is being intercepted, and used by the USA. Australia may well be the loser in that situation. Political espionage There are two other aspects; one is that these stations are used for political espionage — we know for that for a fact. Mike Frost, who worked for 20 years as Canadian intelligence officer, announced that back in the '70s Margaret Thatcher used the Echelon system because she suspected there were two Cabinet Ministers who, she said, "weren't on side". We don't know who they were, but she couldn't spy on them because it was against the law in the UK. She instead got the Americans do it for her. Which is, believe it or not, is not against the law in the UK! The same thing could well happen here in Australia — it's against the law for an Australian to spy on an Australian but you can get Americans to do it for you. Bases such as Pine Gap and Menwith Hill assist the intelligence agencies of all countries in America's UKUSA club, so they are all, to some extent, relying on American technology and information provided to them by the US. I think it has been admitted by the Australian Government that 80 per cent of the information that comes from Pine Gap goes directly to the USA without the Australian Government seeing it at all. Star Wars Secondly, we have the Star War application. At Menwith Hill they have built two radomes — enclosed satellite dishes — specifically to relay signals to the United States a component of the Star Wars system. They were built just last year. The US claims they are not being used as a Star Wars component, but we believe it is only because Star Wars is not up and running yet. But that will be their function as soon as it is. The radomes are replacements for now out-of-date early-warning satellites. They are an upgrade that means that these satellites will not just give an "early warning" but they will allow tracking and interception systems to operate. It's a large step towards fighting wars in space, not just detecting and early warning of missiles. So, they are already built in the UK, and when questioned about their use, Tony Blair has made it quite clear that the UK will do whatever the US tells it. We are hoping that the Australian Government can be persuaded not to, though I guess with your current Government that's not likely. We should at least make the Australian people aware of the situation because Pine Gap will also be a relay station for the Star Wars system. That again is specifically stated on the US Space Command website. As to a nuclear threat against the USA — nuclear weapons of mass destruction can be delivered in a much simpler way than by a rocket or a missile. It's expensive, liable to fail. However the weapon can be delivered by a truck, or a ship — lots of ways. A missile is not the most likely form of terrorist attack. So Star Wars is obviously not a defensive system but an offensive system, because it is clearly a component of the US first strike capability. And a "first strike" by the United States has always been a likely scenario. Ever since nuclear weapons have been around there have been crazy American generals who have always called for a "let's hit them first before they could get back" strategy. These are the people who proposed using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, Korea and so on. Thirty or 40 years ago the American military decided that that's what they should aim for — first strike capability — even though they might never use it. And the Star Wars program part of that. Yet so few people are aware of this. We need to inform them that these things are reality, they actually going on. Information is one thing. Protest is another. There are all kinds of protest actions we can take such as non-violent direct actions. We can also make legal challenges through the court systems, like people in Alaska who live where missile silos are being built. What we need is a global response to this and that's what we are trying to do.