The Panopticon Perplex – Big Other, 5G and the Telecom ‘Coup from Above’


The Panopticon Perplex – Big Other, 5G and the Telecom ‘Coup from Above’

Waking up Watched and Behaviorally Modified in Surveillance Society

By James Heddle – EON
[ An earlier version of this article was posted on Reader Supported News ]

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
Every single day
Every word you say
I’ll be watching
  The Police

Digital Domination

Back in the 1780’s British social theorist Jeremy Bentham and his entrepreneur brother came up with a design for what they thought would be the perfect prison. 

It consisted of a multi-storied outer ring of brightly lit prison cells, each with a floor-to-ceiling window facing a central tower covered with opaque glass. 

The Bentham bros figured that if the inmates believed they were being surveilled twenty-four-seven, they would behave themselves – whether or not there were actually any guards in the tower.  Effortless social control.  Jeremy called it a panopticon.

Benthams’ design was never implemented architecturally in Britain, but a corrupt dictatorship in Cuba in the 1920’s built the Presidio Modelo, a close approximation now long abandoned.

In his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, French philosopher Michel Foucault used the concept as a metaphor for what he called ‘disciplinary societies’ in which the citizen is the target of ‘asymmetrical surveillance’ – “He is seen, but does not see; he is an object of information, never a subject of communication,” Foucault wrote.

Now two recent books are alerting us to the fact that we are on the brink of becoming inmates actually living in what amounts to a digitally enabled planetary panopticon.

Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet, by investigative journalist Yasha Levine, shows the seamless connections between the military and corporate development of the internet – including so-called encryption applications.

Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for A Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, by Harvard Business School emerita professor Shoshana Zuboff, shows in depth how the internet and its data mining and monetization offshoots have morphed into an unprecedented system of societal behavioral modification for corporate profit. 

Taken together these books are a wake-up call that we must quickly develop new concepts, understandings and modes of analysis and resistance if we are to avoid being digitally enslaved, yet so unaware of our enslavement that we are, as Professor Zuboff puts it, “singing in our chains.”

Two Stems from the Same Root – the Military and Commercial Internet

Levine’s book takes us through his process of discovery that the origins of what we now know as the ‘world wide web’ lie in the U.S. military’s quest for effective counterinsurgency methods in the Viet Nam war.   The Internet, he shows, was born from the desire for domination and population control and has never really lost that essential character.

He debunks the popular twin internet creation myths that its origins lie (1) in the military’s quest for a non-decapitatable command structure to survive a nuclear war and (2) the liberatory fantasies of the likes of Stewart Brand and “radical young computer engineers and playful hackers” of the San Francisco Bay Area’s “acid-drenched counterculture.”

The latter was a idealistic, seductive and naive vision, embraced by many at the time (including my young self) and expressed by the subsiquently suicidal poet Richard Brautigan:

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

The reality was far darker than we knew.

“Since the start of the personal computer and Internet revolution,” Levine writes, “we’ve been told again and again that we are in the grips of a liberating technology, a tool that decentralizes power, topples entrenched bureaucracies, and brings more democracy and equality to the world. Personal computers and information networks were supposed to be the new frontier of freedom – a techno-utopia where authoritarian and repressive structures lost their power, and where the creation of a better world was still possible. And all that we, global citizens, had to do for this new and better world to flower and bloom was to get out of the way and let Internet companies innovate and the market work its magic. This narrative has been planted deep into our culture’s collective subconscious and holds a powerful sway over the way we view the Internet today.”

“But,” on the basis of his extensive research he says, “spend time looking at the nitty-gritty business details of the Internet and the story gets darker, less optimistic.  If the Internet is truly such a revolutionary break from the past, why are companies like Google in bed with the cops and spies?”

From ARPA to DARPA to Tor’s ‘Back Doors’

A key revelation of Levine’s book is that the US military not only fathered the Internet, but that it also sired the encryption system, beloved of privacy advocates, known as Tor.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency was created in the Viet Nam era and quickly applied technology to American wartime aims.  By the late 60’s it launched ARPANET.  By the 1990’s ARPA and morphed into DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and ARPANET had evolved into the Internet. 

“Everything was being hooked up to the Internet,” writes Levine, “banks, phones, power plants, universities, military bases, corporations, and foreign governments, both hostile and friendly.” But an open Internet, with every communication traceable to its source is not a safe place for spies operating under deep cover to communicate.  So a DARPA team of mathematicians and geeks came up with a solution they called ‘the onion router’ or Tor.

The Navy set up a parallel system of servers that sat on top of the Internet.  Covert traffic got redirected into this parallel network and bounced around from one Tor shell node to another so that when it finally surfaced in the Internet nobody could tell where it had come from.

But developers realized that if the system was used only by military and intelligence agencies, people would soon come to suspect any anonymized messages were “coming from the CIA.” 

“To truly hide spies and soldiers,” Levine explains, “Tor needed to distance itself from its Pentagon roots and include as many different users as possible. Activists, students, corporate researchers, soccer moms, journalists, drug dealers, hackers, child pornographers, agents of foreign intelligence services, terrorists.  Tor was like a public square – the bigger and more diverse the group assembled there, the better the spies could hide in the crowd.”

So in 2004, Roger Dingledine, one of the system’s key developers spun the onion routing project – still funded by DARPA – into a nonprofit corporation called the Tor Project.

Soon the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a Silicon Valley privacy advocacy group claiming to be against government surveillance programs gave the Tor Project nearly a quarter of a million dollars in bridging funding until it found other sponsors.  The EFF even hosted the Tor website so that users would be reassured by a message from EFF: “Your traffic is safer when you use Tor.”

The EFF has a strange history for a privacy advocacy outfit.  “In 1994,” Levine reports, “EFF worked with the FBI to pass the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which required all telecommunications companies to build their equipment so that it could be wiretapped by the FBI.”

But EFF cover made Tor into an effective Trojan Horse operation trusted even by the likes of such arch surveillance resistors as Glen Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden. 

What better way for the surveillance state to spy on its citizens than to supply them with a system they believe to by surveillance-proof and clears the way for surveillance capitalism?

Understanding the Unprecedented

Professor Zuboff ‘s Surveillance Capitalism offers several sobering definitions of surveillance capitalism.  One of them is, “An expropriation of critical human rights that is best understood as a coup from above; an overthrow of the people’s sovereignty.” 

In a highly readable, felicitously phrased, brilliantly argued and engaging 525 pages (not counting notes and sources), she traces the evolution of what can only be described as a diabolical system of incipient corporate domination.

Because this system is unprecedented in human history, we have no analytical concepts or descriptive terms for its components.  What we cannot name, we cannot understand or resist.  Faced with the unprecedented, Zuboff explains, we tend to respond in ways that may have worked in the past, but are inadequate and inappropriate to the new situation. 

Surveillance capitalism,’ is a term first coined by John Bellamy Foster and Robert McChesney.   “Surveillance capitalism,” she explains, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data.  Although some of these data are applied to product or service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioral surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence,’ and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later.  Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of market place for behavioral predictions that I call behavioral futures markets.  Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations for many companies are eager to lay bets on our future behavior.“

The competitive pressures of this new market have driven prediction product developers to discover that “the most predictive behavioral data come from intervening in the state of play in order to nudge, coax, tune and herd behavior toward profitable outcomes.”  The aim of the game is now to “not only know our behavior, but to shape our behavior at scale.”  This is a new phase of capitalism in which the ‘means of production’ become subordinate to new ‘means of behavioral modification.’

This has given birth to a new species of power that Zuboff calls instrumentalism.  Instead of automating production, it aims to automate us.

Instrumentarian power,” she says, “knows and shapes human behavior toward others’ ends.  Instead of armaments and armies, it works its will through the automated medium of an increasingly ubiquitous computational architecture of ‘smart’ networked devices, things and spaces.”

The vision is to create a synthetic, electronically mediated environment  which is a kind of grotesquely distorted mirror image of the natural ecology in which ‘everything is connected to everything else.’  It envisions an Internet of Things (IOT) in which your refrigerator, your car, your sex toys, your ‘wearable’ heart monitor and your GPS-enabled running shoes and more will all be united into a meta-entity, linked to everyone else’s in what Zuboff terms the Big Other.

Compliance or Defiance…That is the question.

As Zuboff’s work shows, this instrumentarian system of power already surrounds us to an alarming degree, like the proverbial frog in the soon to be boiling water. 

When Google, quickly followed by others, first ventured into these unmapped cyber domains, they were like an invasive species with no predators, pioneers in an unregulated Wild West.  Now that we know what they’re up to, is it too late to hop out of the pot and turn off the heat? 

Zuboff doesn’t think so.  She refuses to buy the corporate myth of technological inevitability. She invites us to ‘be the friction’ which will slow and eventually block this slide into digital domination.

“I say it is not OK to have our best instincts for connection, empathy, and information exploited by a draconian quid pro quo that holds these goods hostage to the pervasive strip search of our lives.  It is not OK for every move, emotion, utterance and desire to be catalogued, manipulated and then used to herd us through the future tense for the sake of someone else’s profit.”

It is a question, she says, “of who decides who decides.”  Democracy itself is what’s at stake.

If democracy is to be replenished in the coming decades,” she concludes, “it is up to us to rekindle the sense of outrage and loss over what is being taken from us….Let there be a digital future, but let it be a human future first.”

5G – Surveillance Capitalism on Steroids

Several recent developments suggest that Zuboff’s ‘human future future first’ agenda may be easier said than done.

A February 12, 2019 article on Health Impact News was headlined “20,000 Satellites for 5G to be Launched Sending Focused Beams of Intense Microwave Radiation Over Entire Earth.” It reported that the companies with the biggest plans to deploy 5G satellites in the coming months are:

  • SpaceX: 12,000 satellites
  • OneWeb: 4,560 satellites
  • Boeing: 2,956 satellites
  • Spire Global: 972 satellites

This is in addition to a global telecom industry push to deploy ground-based 5G in the U.S. and around the world, making the surveillance capitalism infrastructure even more powerful and ubiquitous.

And ‘privacy’ is only part of the issue.

As we reported in our previous post, health impacts of EMR have been systematically suppressed. According to author Arthur Firstenberg, “The telecommunications industry has suppressed damaging evidence about its technology since at least 1927.” Blanketing the planet in 24/7 microwave radiation will mean no human or other lifeforms will be able to escape its biological effects.  There will be no place to hide, no refuge from the electro-magnetic storm.

Amazon’s Core Business is Surveillance

The recent brouhaha surrounding the National Enquirer’s attempt to blackmail Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has further exposed the extent to which the surveillance business model permeates firms at the top of U.S. companies.

Writes the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, “the company that has made Bezos the planet’s richest human being, is a critical partner for the U.S. Government in building an ever-more invasive, militarized and sprawling surveillance state. Indeed, one of the largest components of Amazon’s business, and thus one of the most important sources of Bezos’ vast wealth and power, is working with the Pentagon and the NSA to empower the U.S. Government with more potent and more sophisticated weapons, including surveillance weapons.”

From Surveillance Capitalism to Surveillance Philanthropy –
Planetir and the World Food Program 

Planetir is a company co-founded by Republican billionaire and Trump supporter Peter Thiel with start-up funds supplied by In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital division.  Its software has helped the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) identify and deport immigrants.

Recently the California-based software firm and the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) announced a five-year $45 million partnership.   According to the news outlet IRIN, a humanitarian data analyst commented, “WFP is jumping headlong into something they don’t understand, without thinking through the consequences, and the U.N. has put no frameworks in place to regulate it.”

Privacy International commented, “The recipients of WFP aid are already in extremely vulnerable situations; they should not be put at additional risk of harm or exploitation.” One Privacy International researcher called the deal “breathtaking, and terrifying.”

In what it calls “an experiment to test its cyberdefence capabilities,” Russia has announced plans to disconnect from the World Wide Web. Putin has reportedly called the internet a “CIA project”.

From the foregoing revelations, it looks like he’s right.
============

James Heddle co-directs EON, the Ecological Options Network – EON3.org.  He can be surveilled at jamesmheddle@gmail.com

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5G – With a Capital ‘G,’ and that stands for…Genocide?



“5G is a War on Humanity”

With the publication by Josh del Sol Beaulieu of a letter to then UN General Secretary Antonio Guterez  written by former UN staffer Claire Edwards we have another indication of the willful ignorance about the dangers of radio-frequency radiation of those making policy decisions about the current  push by telecoms for a global 5G build-out.

“In the first instance,” Edwards points out, “5G is likely to make people electro-hypersensitive (EHS).  Perhaps it was sitting in front of two big computer screens for many of the 18 years I worked at the UN that made me EHS.”

Based on her personal experience, she served as editor of the International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space, addressed to the UN, WHO, EU, Council of Europe and governments of all nations. It reads in part:

We the undersigned scientists, doctors and environmental organizations…urgently call for a halt to the deployment of the 5G (fifth generation) wireless network, including 5G from space satellites. 5G will massively increase exposure to radio frequency (RF) radiation on top of the 2G, 3G and 4G networks for telecommunications already in place. RF radiation has been proven harmful for humans and the environment. The deployment of 5G constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law.

The signatories to this Appeal are scientists, doctors and environmental organizations from every continent who have been working tirelessly for many years to call the world’s attention to an invisible assault on us and the entire planetary biosphere.

Everyone — not just scientists and doctors — are now being asked to sign the International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space.

To read the Appeal and sign as an individual or organization, go to: International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space

Evidence of Harm Suppressed for Warfare and Corporate Profit –
Soviet Public Safety Standards ‘Too Low’

Canadian researcher Dr. Magda Havas long ago reported that ” The Defense Intelligence Agency of the United States released a document referenced below that had a security classification as “confidential” and has since been “unclassified”.  This document may help us better understand why the U.S. military is interested in opposing a more protective guideline for microwave radiation.”

Adams, R.L. and R.A. Williams.  1976.  Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (Radiowaves and Microwaves) – Eurasian Communist Countries (U). Prepared by U.S. Army Medical Intelligence and Information Agency Office of the Surgeon General and was released by the Defense Intelligence Agency.  34 pp.  Unclassified.

Dr. Havas continued, “There are two disturbing paragraphs in this document that clearly indicate the U.S. military’s perspective opposing more stringent guidelines for microwave radiation.

‘If the more advanced nations of the West are strict in the enforcement of stringent exposure standards, there could be unfavorable effects on industrial output and military function. The Eurasian Communist countries could, on the other hand, give lip service to strict standards, but allow their military to operate without restriction and thereby gain the advantage in electronic warfare techniques and the development of antipersonnel applications.’ [page vii]

‘Should subsequent research result in adoption of the Soviet standard by other countries, industries whose practices are based on less stringent safety regulations, could be required to make costly modifications in order to protect workers. Recognition of the 0.01 mW/cm2 standard could also limit the application of new technology by making the commercial exploitation of some products unattractive because of increased cost, imposed by the need for additional safeguards.’[page 24]

“Note that the ‘less stringent safety regulations’ refers to U.S., Canada, Great Britain and several European countries as well as to the guidelines recommended by ICNIRP and WHO. It seems that the authors of this document value military and commercial financial considerations above worker health. There is little doubt that the U.S. military played a key role preventing safer and more protective U.S. guidelines for microwave radiation.

“Microwave weapons are outside the scope of this document, although there is reference to antipersonnel applications of microwave technology including inducing neurological effects, metabolic diseases, heart seizures and neurological pathologies resulting from breaching the blood-brain barrier, as well as intracranial production of sounds and possibly words at very low average power densities.  On page 26, a section dealing with microwave weapons seems to have been removed.

“This document clearly reflects the U.S. military’s resistance to lowering the guideline and their distrust of research conducted in the Eastern Block Countries.  That distrust and the power wielded by the U.S. military is largely responsible for the status of the  current guidelines, which fail to protect public and worker health.”

Dr. Havas has assembled an on-line archive of reports by Naval researcher showing clearly that the dangers of RF, or ‘non-ionizing’ radiation have been known for decades.

Here’s a sobering example:

BIBLIOGPHY OF REPORTED BIOLOGICAL PHENOMENA (‘EFFECTS’) AND CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS ATTRIBUTED TO MICROWAVE AND RADIO-FREQUENCY RADIATION

Zorach R. Glaser, Ph.D. LT, MSC, USNR.  Research ‘Report Project MF12.524.015-00043,Report No. 2.   Naval Medical Research Institute,  National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland 20014, U.S.A. 4 October 1971, Second Printing, with Revisions, Corrections, and Additions: 20 April 1972 (Supersede3 AD No. 734391)

https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/750271.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0JreSVhcmpTR3BfJAQ9dJl0GdoywiVLCtVsIfSfZ-_6OspwcUWWy6YSIU

Excerpt

CHAPTER I

Reported Biological Phenomena (*Effects’) and Some Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation (See Note)

A. Heating of Organs*
(Applications: Diathermy, Electrosurgery, Electrocoagulation, Electrodesiccation, Electrotomy)

Whole Body (temperature regulation defect), Hyperpyreyla
Skin
Bone and Bone Marrow:
(a) Lens of Eye (cataractous lesions – due to the avascular nature of the lens which prevents adequate heat dissipation (b) Corneal damage also possible at extremely high frequencies
Genitalia (tubular degeneration of testicles)
Brain
Sinuses
Metal Implants (burns near hip pins, etc.)
The effects are generally reversible except for 4a.

B. Changes in Cardiovascular Function
Striated Muscle Contraction
Alteration of Diameter of Blood Vessels (increases vascular
elasticity), Dilation
Changes in the Oxidative Processes in Tissues and Organs
Liver Enlargement
Altered Sensitivity to Drug Stimuli
Decreased Spermatogenesis (decreased fertility, to sterility)
Altered Sex Ratio of Births (more girls!)
Altered Menstrual Activity
Altered Fetal Development
Decreased Lactation in Nursing Mothers
Reduction in Diuresis (excretion via urine output)
Altered Renal function (decreased filtration in tubules)
Changes in (conditioned Reflexes
Increased Electrical Resistance of Skin
Changes in the Structure of Skin Receptors of the (a) Receptor and (b) Blood Carrying System
Altered Blood Flow Rate

* It is also reported that low levels of irradiation produce a cooling effect – “hyper-compensation”.

Note: These effects are listed without comment or endorsement since the literature abounds with conflicting reports. In some cases the basis for reporting an “effect” was a single or a non-statistical observation, which may have been drawn from a poorly conceived (and poorly executed) experiment.

Alterations In the Bio-currents (EEG) of the Cerebral Cortex
(in animals)
Changes In the Rate of Clearance of Tagged Ions from Tissue
Reversible Structural Changes In the Cerebral Cortex and the Diencephalon
Electrocardiographic (EKG) Changes
Alterations In Sensitivity to Light, Sound, and Olfactory
Stimuli
Functional (a) and Pathological (b) Changes in the Eyes:
(a) decrease in size of blind spot, altered color recognition,
changes In Intraocular pressure, lacrimation, trembling of eyelids;
(b) less opacity and coagulation, altered tissue respiration,
and altered reduction-oxidation processes
Myocardial Necrosis
Hemorrhage in Lungs, Liver, Gut, and Brain J At Fatal Levels
Generalized Degeneration of all Body Tissue of Radiation
Loss of Anatomical Parts
Death
Dehydration
Altered Rate of Calcification of Certain Tissue

C. Central Nervous System Effects
Headaches
Insomnia
Restlessness (Awake and During Sleep)
Electroencephalographic (EW) Changes
Cranial Nerve Disorders
Pyramidal Tract Lesions
Conditioned Reflex Disorders
Vagominetic Action of the Heart; Sympaticouminetic Action
Seizures, Convulsions

D. Autonomic Nervous System Effects
Neuro-vegetative Disorders (e.g., alteration of heart rhythm)
Fatigue
Structural Alterations Lu the Synapses of the Vague Nerve
Stimulation of Parasympathetic Nervous System (Bradycardia),
and Inhibition of the Sympathetic Nervous System

Peripheral Nervous System Effects
Effects on Locomotor Nerves

F. Psychological Disorders
(“Human Behavioral Studies”) – the so-called “Psychophysiologic (and Psychosomatic) Responses”

Neurasthenia- (general “bad” feeling)
Depression
Impotence
Anxiety
Lack of Concentration
Dizziness
Hallucinations
Sleepiness
Insomnia
Increased Irritability
Decreased Appetite
Loss of Memory
Scalp Sensations
Increased Fatigability
Chest Pains
Tremor of the Hands

G. Behavioral Changes (Animal Studies)
Reflexive, Operant, Avoidance, and Discrimination Behaviors

H. Mood Disorders
(V = in vivo)
(v = in vitrt.’
Changes in:
Blood and Bone Marrow
Phagorytic (polymorphs) and Bactericidal Functions of the Liver)
Hemolysis Rate (increase), (a shortened lifespan of cells)
Sedimentation Rate (increase), (due to ,-e. ;n sp, t ” I
levels or ar:ount of fitrino-er. (?))
Number of Erythrocytes (decrease)
Blood Glucose Concentration (increase)
Blood Histamine Content
Cholesterol and Lipids
Gamma Globulin, and Total Protein Concentration
Number of Eosinophils
Albumin/Globulin ratio (decrease)
Hemopoiesis (rate of formation of blood corpuscles)
Leukopenia (increase in number of white cells), and Leukocytosis
Reticulocytosis

I. Vascular Disorders
Thrombosis
Hypertension

J. Enzyme and Other Biochemical Changes
Changes in activity of:
Cholinesterase (V,v)
Phosphatase (v)
Transaminase (v)
Amylase (v)
Carboxydismutase
Protein Denaturation
Toxin, Fungus, and Virus Inactivation (at high radiation dose
levels), Bacteriostatic Effect
Tissue Cultures Killed
Alteration In Rate of Cell Division
Increased Concentration of RVA in Lymphocytes, and Decreased
Concentration in Brain,. Liver, and Spleen
Changes in Pyruvic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Creatinine Exeretions
Change in Concentration of Glycogen in Liver (Hyperglycemia)
Alteration in Concentration of 17- Ketosterolds in Urine

K. Metabolic Disorders
Glycosuria (sugar in urine; related with blood sugar?)
Increase in Urinary Phenol (derivatives? DOPA?)
Alteration of rate of Metabolic Enzymatic Processes
Altered Carbohydrate Metabolism

L. Gastro-Intestinal Disorders
Anorexia (loss of appetite)
Epigastric Pain
Constipation
Altered Secretion of Stomach “Digestive Juices”

M. Endocrine Gland Changes
Altered Pituitary Function
Hyperthyroidism
Thyroid Enlargement
Increased Uptake of Radioactive Iodine by Thyroid Gland
Altered Adrenal Cortex Activity
Decreased Corticosteroids in Blood
Decreased Glucocorticoidal Activity
Hypogonadism (usually decreased testosterone production)

N. Histological Changes
Changes in Tubular Epithelium of Testicles
Gross Changes

O. Genetic and Chromosomal Changes
Chromosome Aberrations (e.g., linear shortening, pseudochiasm,
diploid structures, amitotic division, bridging, “sticky”
chromosomes, irregularities in chromosomal envelope)
Mutations =
Mongolism
Somatic Alterations (changes in cell not involving nucleus or
chromosomes, cellular transformation)
Neoplastic Diseases (e.g*, tumors)

P. Pearl Chain Effect
(Intracellular orientation of subcellular particles, and orientation of cellular and other (non-biologic) particles)

Also, orientation of animals, birds, and fish in electromagnetic fields

Q. Miscellaneous Effects
Sparking between dental fillings
Peculiar metallic taste in mouth
Changes in Optical Activity of Colloidal Solutions
Treatment for Syphilis, Poliomyelitis, Skin Diseases
Loss of Hair
Brittleness of Hair
Sensations of Buzzing Vibrations, Pulsations, and Tickling About the Head and Ears
Copious Perspiration, Salivation, and Protrusion of Tongue
Changes in the Operation of Implanted Cardiac Pacemakers
Changes in Circadian Rhythms

 

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Why Fry the Planet? – 5G as Existential Threat [Updated]

By James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan – EON – September 27, 2018

This will be in addition to millions of ground-based cells.

“Unlike some countries, we do not believe we should spend the next couple of years studying what 5G should be, how it should operate, and how to allocate spectrum, based on those assumptions…. Turning innovators loose is far preferable to expecting committees and regulators to define the future.” – U.S. Federal Communications Commission  former Chairman Tom Wheeler (June, 2016)

“The deployment of 5G constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law.”  –  International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space. (2018)

5G – A Wonderful, Wireless World… or, a Looming Global Public Health Conflagration?

“If the telecommunications industry’s plans for 5G come to fruition, no person, no animal, no bird, no insect and no plant on Earth will be able to avoid exposure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to levels of RF radiation that are tens to hundreds of times greater than what exists today, without any possibility of escape anywhere on the planet. These 5G plans threaten to provoke serious, irreversible effects on humans and permanent damage to all of the Earth’s ecosystems.”  So begins the International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space.

Creeping Telecom Coup 

The attempted telecommunications industry take-over that began with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is now nearing completion as the industry-captured Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issues ever more rules restricting the rights of local elected bodies to regulate the build-out of public health-endangering and local authority-usurping 5G wireless technology – both ground- and space-based.

September 26, 2018, the FCC voted to ‘streamline’ the process for installation of their next generation technology, 5G.

From MDSafetech.org: “Far from being mobile, this technology will depend on thousands of  fixed “small cell” antennae throughout cities and residential neighborhoods, about 300 meters (~1000 feet) apart. In order to function, these short wavelength radiofrequencies (6-100 Gigahertz or GHz) will be pulsing at billions of times a second (1GHz=1 Billion cycles /sec) and will be continuously emitting radiation 24 hours a day.  In a addition, a newer technology which is used in the military for early warning missile radar systems, PAVE PAWS, is incorporated into these systems called phased arrays, whereby more powerful built in “beam steering” arrays scan back and forth from tower to device and from device to tower for easier connection with an individual’s movement, similar to the missile systems. Phased arrays are also used in AM and FM radio broadcast stations and proposed for automotive radar sensing.  The cell phones will operate with higher power and shielding for electrical interference but no apparent shielding for the user.  There has been no premarket testing for health or environmental harm. “

[ Download PDF ] (Developed by Paige Hutson)

Contrary to widespread misconception, 5G has nothing to do with better cell phone coverage or emergency response communication.  The ‘small cells’ are definitely not aimed just for personal wireless services, like phones. It’s aimed at providing the internet of things connectivity and HD video wirelessly to homes and offices.  And contrary to the claim that due to being blocked by trees, buildings, etc., the ‘small’ cells must be placed very close together (every 300 meters) and adjacent to homes, businesses, schools, parks, etc., Verizon’s CEO says they’ve “busted that myth.” 

“We busted the myth that foliage will shut it down. I mean that was back in the days when a pine needle would stop it. That does not happen. And these things — in the 200 feet from a home, we’re now designing the network for over 2,000 feet from transmitter to receiver, which has a huge impact on our capital need going forward. So those myths have disappeared. We’re charging ahead.” (May, 2018)

Continue reading

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Wargaming the Science on Cell Phones and Health

 

Reprinted from the Pt. Reyes Light:

War gaming the science on cell phones and health risks: A conversation with journalist Mark Dowie

We’ve been documenting the development of wireless microwave devices and the independent science on its effects for the past 20 years. So we were delighted by a recent confluence of events: the release of the National Toxicology Program peer-reviewed study and the publication of an article in The Nation, “How Big Wireless Convinced Us Our Cell Phones Are Safe,” focused on how industry war-gamed the science.Soon after, a major study was released in Italy that replicated the results of the National Toxicology Project study. Both found that the same rare cancers appeared in animal subjects exposed to both high and low levels of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation.We couldn’t resist interviewing Inverness resident Mark Dowie about all of it. Mark is a celebrated investigative reporter and historian, the author of many books, the winner of at least 19 journalism awards, a former publisher and editor of Mother Jones Magazine and the co-author with Mark Hertsgaard of the recent Nation article. Here is our conversation.

Jim: How did you decide to write this story?

Mark: [Mark] Hertsgaard, who’s the investigative editor of The Nation, asked me to do a big story on cell phones. I looked at the literature and found that cell phones have been beaten to death. It’s a shop-worn story, impossible to advance.

So I said, “I think the story is how industry has been war gaming science”—‘war gaming’ is their term, not mine—and gave him the history going back to military research that was done on microwaves during the Cold War, then up to the present, and how so much of it has been suppressed, classified, hidden and distorted by wireless defenders who tore pages from the playbooks of the tobacco and fossil fuel industries, then used the same P.R. firms, the same law firms. All to do the same thing: manufacture doubt about the harmfulness of this technology. Hertsgaard said, “Okay. Let’s go with that.”

Jim:  Did you find anything surprising that you didn’t expect?

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We Almost Lost SoCal

Nuclear-Waste-Dump by-the-Sea

September 26, 2018

The controversial loading of high-level nuclear waste in thin-walled steel canisters into concrete silos just yards from the beach at Southern California Edison’s shutdown San Onofre nuclear plant has been temporarily halted by potentially game-changing events that happened early in August.  Some experts say the near accident could have been as serious as Chernobyl and Fukushima all rolled into one.

Here are background video reports and commentary from systems analyst Donna Gilmore.
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UN No Nukes Day – Envisioning a Peaceful, Post-Nuclear Planet

International Day for
the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons



Sculpture depicting St. George slaying the dragon. The dragon is created from fragments of Soviet SS-20 and United States Pershing nuclear missiles. UN Photo/Milton Grant

“The total elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.”
Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament

What better way to honor this day of planetarian intentioneering than with the eloquent statements of participants in the recent Hiroshima Day Commemoration at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, California, a key hub in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex ‘Doomsday Machine.’

Here is EON’s coverage of this spirited yearly event, featuring Key Note Speaker, celebrated Pentagon defense analyst-cum-whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg.
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Iowa Oil Train Spill Poses a Question

June 23, 2018

Silent drone footage from the Lyons County Sheriff Department:

On June 22, 2018 there was a 31-car derailment of an oil train in a flooded region of Iowa, leaking crude oil into the Rock River. The Lyon County sheriff admitted, “We don’t know how much is leaking or how bad it is.”

See also:

Two trains derail in SE New Mexico over the weekend

 ‘Chernobyl in a Can’
The previous month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a series of public meetings in New Mexico on a proposal moving through Congress – HR 3053 – that could result in thousands of metric tons of radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear reactors being shipped across country to that state for ‘temporary’ storage. (see previous post)

Public opinion ran consistently 5-1 in opposition.  Many speakers cited the serious transportation risks involved. Continue reading

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The California – New Mexico Nuclear Connection

Citizen Solidarity at Both Ends of a Proposed U.S. “Fukushima Freeway”

Californians learn that the two industries which most threaten human survival are facing off in New Mexico’s ‘Nuclear Alley.’

By James Heddle – EON  – June 7, 2018

[ Also posted on Counterpunch.  An earlier version of this article is posted on Reader Supported News in three parts:  here here   and  here. ]

Interstate solidarity against consolidated interim storage (CIS) – activists from New Mexico, Texas and California. (from left) Ace Hoffman(CA), Sharon Hoffman(CA), Rosemary Blanchard, Leona Morgan, Nick Maxwell, Noel Marquez, Hanh Nguyen, Sue Schuurman ( behind Hanh next to Torgen) Torgen Johnson(CA), Robin Seydel, Cal McManus, Cody Slama. Photo: Anon.

Target: ‘Nuclear Alley,’ New Mexico

Recently – un-reported in the scandal/crisis-pre-occupied American main stream media – New Mexico has become the epicenter of an on-going national controversy: how to responsibly manage the tons of radioactive waste accumulated at all the nuclear energy reactors around the country so far in the Nuclear Age.

Why, New Mexicans and others around the country are asking, has this region suddenly become the potential target destination for all of America’s radioactive waste? Continue reading

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New Mexico’s ‘Nuclear Alley’ just says “No!” to More Radioactive Waste – EON Reports

 

Nuclear Alley U.S.A.

June 4, 2018

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 2018, HR 3053, known as the Shimkus Bill, passed the House last month on its way to the Senate.

It calls for restarting the failed Yucca Mountain Project in Nevada, and establishing a system of Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) sites for radioactive waste around the country until Yucca is operational.

First on the list of possible ‘temporary’ CIS dumps is a site proposed by Holtec International and the local Eddy-Lea Alliance just outside Hobbs, New Mexico.

Its just over the border from Andrews, Co., Texas – where another high level nuke waste dump is also proposed.

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Rational Insanity – The Mad Logic of America’s Nuclear ‘Doomsday Machine’. [Updated]

DOOMSDAY MACHINE author Daniel Ellsberg addresses a nuclear abolition rally, August, 2017. EON photo

Why the combination of Fear, Uncertainty, and Humanitarian Idealism may destroy most life on earth… unless We the People say ‘NO,’ and make it stick.

By James Heddle – EON.      [ An earlier version of this article is on Counterpunch.org. ]

I want to say – and this is very important – in the end, we lucked out!  It was luck that prevented nuclear war.  Khrushchev was rational.  Kennedy was rational.  Castro was rational.   [Holding up his thumb and forefinger slightly apart.]  Rational individuals came that close to total devastation of their societies…and that danger exists today.

Former U.S. Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara – talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis – in ‘The Fog of War,” a documentary film by Errol Morris

“Today we still have over 20 thousand real world nuclear weapons.  Enough to blow up everybody on the planet several times over.  Those weapons pose the immediate problem of a danger of terrorism, the immediate problem of the possibility of nuclear war.…  I believe we are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race.  It breaks my heart.  Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war. Let me say that again…” [read more=”Read more…” less=”Read less…”]

Former U.S. Sec. of Defense, William J. Perry, January, 2016

A nuclear war anywhere will disrupt—and possibly destroy—civilized life everywhere.

The Cuban Missile Crisis at 55 – James G. Blight and Janet M. Lang

There is such a thing as being too late…. We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation… Now let us begin… let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.

Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1967

[ Editor’s’note: As this version goes to post, the Trump people have just issued a super-hawkish revised Nuclear Posture Review advocating ‘usable’ tactical nuclear weapons, and are considering a ‘tactical, Bloody Nose’ nuclear attack on North Korea.]

Present Threat Level: ‘High’

The current Silicon Valley meme is that Artificial Intelligence, or AI, may – someday – pose a danger to human existence.  But plain old human intelligence already does pose that threat.  And it has for some time. Some critic reportedly quipped that “NATO exists to deal with problems created by its own existence.” Whether or not you agree with that assessment of NATO, it’s hard to deny that this dictum accurately applies to the long much-celebrated geo-strategic system of so-called ‘nuclear deterrence.’

The creation of ‘command & control’ structures by nuclear weapons states – purportedly designed to reduce the threat of nuclear war – are more than likely to produce precisely the outcome they are allegedly created to prevent.

That’s the sobering wake-up call message of Daniel Ellsberg’s important new book THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE – Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

Still at it, after all these years

At eighty-six years of age, Ellsberg – perhaps the world’s most celebrated whistleblower for his Viet Nam era Pentagon Papers revelations – is still going strong, and now working urgently to share even more crucial information, long kept secret from the American public and the world.

He is a man who walks his talk.  I last saw him on a hot day last August, lying on the tarmac with about a hundred other protestors at the gate of Livermore Laboratory, California’s nuclear weapons design shop, which bills itself as ‘The Smartest Place on Earth.’  Their bodies were outlined in chalk, commemorating the Atomic Shadows left by the vaporized victims of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Virtually every weapon in the U.S. Doomsday Machine’s arsenal has been at least partially designed at Livermore, under the aegis of the University of California, Berkeley.  For many years, a rally, march and ‘die-in’ [ video ] has been organized there every year on Hiroshima Day by a coalition of groups headed by TriValleyCARES and its Indefatigable Director, Marylia Kelly.  Ellsberg has been a long-time rally speaker and protest participant. [ video ]  On this occasion, he was lying there, chatting with his old friend Fr. Louis Vitale, as they waited to get arrested – the umpteenth time for both of them.

Daniel Ellsberg (center) waits to be arrested at the gate of Livermore Lab, Hiroshima Day protest, 2017. EON. photo

Evolution of a Nuclear War Planner – Into the ‘realm of madness’

It started in Detroit, Michigan, where his engineer father was a designer of the long, moving assembly lines then being initiated, first for motor cars, then – as WWII geared up – for war planes.  As a high school student at the up-scale Cranbrook boarding school, he was one of the first of his generation to learn about the then new concept of ‘cultural lag.’  Introduced by sociologist William Ogburn, the term drew attention to the fact that technological innovations advance faster than the cultural, moral and political systems needed to manage them.  It was a concept to be epitomized in spades in the coming Atomic Age.

Later, as a Harvard graduate economist with a focus on the then hot topics of  ‘decision theory’ and ‘game theory,’ as well as a former Marine officer with combat experience in Viet Nam, Ellsberg, in his late twenties, was recognized by those who notice such things as having a great set of qualification for a war planner.

Moving from an Honors Fellowship at Harvard to a consultant job at the RAND corporation, in an office with an ocean view in Santa Monica, and colleagues like the famous  (or infamous) Herman Kahn, was a natural transition.

This was in the early days of the now wide-spread practice of ‘contracting’ out government functions to private corporations.  RAND was one of the first of such firms, the number of which is now legion.

The young Ellsberg’s quickly demonstrated abilities soon put him into circulation as a trusted private consultant in the highest circles of the Washington national security establishment with eventually some of the highest ‘clearances’ and a unique breadth of access to information known only to a few. What he discovered horrified him.  With youthful idealism (and perhaps more than a dash of youthful hubris), he set out to change it.

This book tells the story of some of his impressive successes.  But it’s also the story – as the sub-title ‘confessions’ indicates – of some of the ways he now believes his efforts may have inadvertently helped to make things worse.

“RAND analysts, of whom I was one,” he writes, “sought to bring about less insane planning for nuclear war.  We failed.”   As he now sees it, the institutional systems in which they were embedded, “still held us prisoners within the realm of madness.”

His purpose now is to contribute to wide public knowledge beyond the myths, deceptions and cover-ups, which we have long been fed.

“We need,” he says, “a new understanding of the real history of the nuclear age.”

Lessons Learned

Eventually moving from RAND to the Defense Department, Ellsberg once briefed presidents and high officials, and – were he to do so again today – he says the item at the top of his list would be what is, in effect, Washington’s historically consistent first-strike policy:

The basic elements of American readiness for nuclear war remain today what they were almost sixty years ago. Thousands of nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, aimed mainly at Russian military targets including command and control, many in or near cities. The declared official rationale for such a system has always been primarily the supposed need to deter – or if necessary respond to – an aggressive Russian nuclear first strike against the United States. That widely believed public rationale is a deliberate deception…

The required U.S. strategic capabilities have always been for a first-strike force: not, under any president, for a U.S. surprise attack, unprovoked or ‘a bolt out of the blue,’ but not, either, with an aim of striking ‘second’ under any circumstances, if that can be avoided by preemption. Though officially denied, preemptive ‘launch on warning (LOW) – either on tactical warning of an incoming attack or strategic warning that nuclear escalation is probably impending – has always been at the heart of our strategic alert. [Emphasis added.]

But it gets worse.

As an advisor to Kennedy, Ellsberg had the opportunity to query the Joint Chiefs of Staff  (over the President’s signature) if they had done estimates of how many human beings would be killed if U.S. nuclear war plans were carried out against the then Sino-Soviet Bloc.  He was stunned by the answers.

“The total death toll as calculated by the Joint Chiefs,” he was told, “from a U.S. first strike aimed at the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact satellites, and China, would be roughly six hundred million dead. A hundred Holocausts.

“From that day,” he writes, “I have had one overriding life purpose: to prevent the execution of any such plan.”

A Global Machine with no ‘Off’ Switch

As part of his unusual ‘go anywhere, ask anything, see everything’ mandate, Ellsberg was told of the existence of a plan that the military kept secret from the President, the Secretary of Defense and all other civilian authorities.  It was called JSCAP ( pronounced J-SCAP) for Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan.   Out of it had developed, by 1960, the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), the single strategic plan governing the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal including all Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombers, land-based ICBMs and all the Navy’s submarine based nuclear missiles.

In 1961, SAC alone had around seventeen hundred bombers, each carrying thermonuclear – i.e., hydrogen, bombs – many of them between five and twenty-five megatons in explosive power, or ‘yield.’

Each twenty-five megaton bomb – with 1,250 times the yield of the fission bomb that destroyed Nagasaki – was the equivalent of twenty-five million tons of TNT, or over twelve times the total bomb tonnage we dropped in World War II.  Within the arsenal there were some five hundred bombs with an explosive power of  twenty five megatons.  Each of these warheads had more firepower than all the bombs and shells exploded in all the wars of human history. [His italics. ]

In the event of a so-called ‘general war’ with the Soviet Union, the SIOP called for the simultaneous launch of all those world-wide systems.  The pre-determined targets, he learned, would not only include every major city in the Soviet Union and all its satellite allies, but all the cities in China and all its allies

Oh, and Then There’s Nuclear Winter

Two decades later, in 1983, it was discovered what none of them – Ellsberg, his RAND colleagues, the Joint Chiefs, the President, or his science advisors – had known about in the ‘60s: the phenomenon of ‘nuclear winter.’

In retrospect he realized,

It is the smoke, after all (not the fallout, which would remain mostly limited to the northern hemisphere), that would do it worldwide: smoke and soot lofted by the fierce firestorms in hundreds of burning cities into the stratosphere, where it would not rain out and would remain for a decade or more, enveloping the globe and blocking most sunlight, lowering annual global temperatures to the level of the last Ice Age, and killing all harvests worldwide, causing near-universal starvation within a year or two…. Which meant that a large nuclear war of the kind we prepared for then or later would kill nearly every human on earth (along with most other large species.)

But there was more.

The SIOP included no way to separate blanket attacks on both Russia and China once the ‘Go’ order has been given…and there was no desire to do so.

Ellsberg quotes a report from the memoir of colleague John Rubel about his experience at a 1960 briefing at SAC headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska.  It was attended by Defense Department officials, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and military commanders from around the world, and presided over by SAC Commander General Thomas Power.  On a huge screen in the darkened command center, successive overlays portrayed the cumulative bombing of all the SIOP’s targets.  In conclusion, a briefer reported that fallout alone would eventually kill half the population of China, in addition to those killed in the initial blasts.

Rubel recalls,

A voice out of the gloom from somewhere behind me interrupted, saying, “May I ask a question?” General Power turned…in his front-row seat, stared into the darkness and said, “Yeah, what is it?” in a tone not likely to encourage the timid. “What if this isn’t China’s war?” the voice asked. “What if this is just a war with the Soviets? Can you change the plan?”

“Well, yeah,” said General Power resignedly, “we can, but I hope nobody thinks of it, because it would really screw up the plan.”

Ellsberg tells of leaving the Pentagon one afternoon with a colleague to do ‘operational research’ at a showing of the then just-released, now classic, Stanley Kubrick film ‘Dr. Strangelove.’  They were surprised at how accurately the film portrayed the impossibility of reversing the order, once the system has been triggered by a single, rogue commander.

Rewriting the War Plan

Ellsberg had set his sights on changing that plan, and, to some extent, he succeeded.

Under Kennedy and McNamara, he was assigned to redraft the general war section of the BSNP or Basic National Security Policy, civilian guidance for war planning.

In the late afternoon of April 7, 1961, he finished his first draft and realized it was his thirtieth birthday.  “I remember thinking: for the rest of my life, I won’t have done anything more important than this.”

Among many other significant changes, the re-draft he wrote called for

  • elimination of the SIOP as the single, automatic response
  • elimination of the automatic inclusion of China and Soviet Satellite states
  • creation of a command and control system for issuing reliable ‘stop’ or ‘recall’ orders.

A final version was sent to the Joint Chiefs on May 5, 1961.  He reports,

“My” revised guidance became the basis for the operational war plans under Kennedy – reviewed by me for Deputy Secretary Gilpatric in 1962, 1963, and again in the Johnson administration in 1964.  It has been reported by insiders and scholars to have been a critical influence on U.S. strategic war planning ever since.

[ For texts of related memos and drafts, see ellsberg.net/BNSP. ]

But, after all, it was still a nuclear war plan.  He notes, “In years to come, the memory of this accomplishment did not bring me the same satisfaction it brought when I was thirty.”

Delegation or Decapitation? – That is the question

Given POTUS Trump’s growing reputation as a ‘malignant narcissist’ running rogue in the Oval Office, there has been much media and Congressional concern expressed of late about the presumption that just one man, – whether rational or crazed – is the only one with access to the ‘nuclear football,’ its launch codes and ‘having his finger on The Button.’

Harvard Professor Elaine Scary has written a fascinating, in depth, scholarly analysis of this notion in her impressive THERMONUCLEAR MONARCHY – Choosing Between Democracy and Doom.

But it turns out, according to another alarming revelation in Ellsberg’s book, that, from the very beginning of U.S. nuclear war planning, One-Finger-on-The-Button has by no means been the case.

According to Ellsberg, “… the hand authorized to pull the trigger on U.S. nuclear forces has never been exclusively that of the president, nor even his highest military officials.” [His emphasis.]

The operative policy, from Eisenhower and Kennedy on down, has been to delegate ‘Execute’ authority to subordinate commanders,  – even, depending on circumstances, far down the chain of command – to avoid ‘decapitation’ – elimination of centralized authority.

“This delegation has been one of our highest national secrets,” writes Ellsberg.  “The same was true for the Soviet Union, now Russia.”

And, one can assume, to this day, for all other nuclear weapons powers.

Daniel Ellsberg addreses an abolition rally. EON photo

Three Hats

Ellsberg writes from three complementary perspectives:

— as an ‘insider’ with top level security clearances working to discover and mitigate what he sees as ill-conceived, omnicidal policies;

— as an analyst/historian striving to understand how such a system has come into being;

— and as a whistleblowing reformer working to alert and mobilize an informed public to dis-assemble the very system he spent much of his professional life helping create.

His is a rich and complex narrative.  Here are some of its key points.

Inside the Cuban Missile Crisis – ‘The most dangerous moment in recorded history’

Ellsberg, the insider, throws new light on the myths and misinformation surrounding this pivotal historical event.  It’s too complex a story – as Ellsberg’s narrative shows in depth – to do more than summarize here. [ See: Ellsberg.net/Doomsday/cubanmissilecrisis for his files. ] It happened in 1962, but it’s take-home lesson is as current as today’s headlines.

The essence of it is this: none of the participants at the time had a full and accurate picture of what was really going on.

It wasn’t until decades later that the full facts came into focus.  McNamara’s thumb and forefinger, held barely apart, tell the story.  Global nuclear Armageddon had been avoided by “that much.”

In retrospect, it was a tragi-comedy of errors, projections, and miscalculations on all sides – a microcosm of the Doomsday Machine Dilemma.

Yet, the fate of the earth hung in the balance…just as it does in the several nuclear confrontations emerging today.

On Monday, October 22, 1962 President Kennedy went on national TV to announce the discovery that Soviet ballistic missiles were being shipped to Cuba, and that, in response, he was imposing a naval ‘quarantine’ around the island nation.  He said that the launch of any missile from Cuba “against any nation in the Western Hemisphere” would trigger “a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”

Watching Kennedy’s speech from his Malibu home, and knowing full well what “a full retaliatory response’ would mean, Ellsberg headed for Washington.

The global context was this:

In April, 1961, a CIA sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs had failed.

In August, 1961, the long-standing Berlin Crisis had ended with the partition of that German city between Soviet and Allied forces, and the erection of the Berlin Wall.

U.S. and Soviet forces were arrayed against each other across Europe, with American nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey.

The U.S. Joint Chiefs had long been itching to invade Cuba on any pretext.  Remembering the Bay of Pigs, both Cuban President Castro and Soviet Premiere Khrushchev knew this and took the threat very seriously.  Khrushchev had sent the missiles to prevent such an invasion.   U.S. intelligence thought there were thirty-eight.

On arrival in DC, Ellsberg was tasked to “Write a memo on what thirty-eight missiles could do to our strike-back ability.”  The conclusion was, given the balance of American and Soviet nuclear forces, not much.  The Soviet Union would still be turned into a large smoking hole from the U.S. ‘full retaliatory response.’

Throughout the next thirteen tension-filled days, Ellsberg and most of those around him believed that Khrushchev knew he was way out-gunned and would ultimately ‘blink,’ ‘back down’ and remove the missiles.   On October 27, 1962, he did.

It was the day afterward that Ellsberg discovered that Defense Secretary McNamara and others around Kennedy had put the chance of Armageddon happening much higher, like maybe 1 in 10.   Later, McNamara revealed, “the Saturday before the Sunday in which Khrushchev announced withdrawal of the missiles… and a  U-2 [U.S. spy plane ] was shot down…I remember leaving the White House at the end of that Saturday.  It was a beautiful fall day. And thinking that might well be the last sunset I saw. You couldn’t tell what was going to follow.”

Ellsberg was appalled.  “One in ten?!  Nuclear war…And we were doing what we were doing?!”

‘What they had been doing’ included:

  • the blockade itself, at the risk of armed conflict with Soviet warships;
  • forcing Soviet submarines to surface with depth grenades
  • a large-scale airborne bomber alert with significant risk of accidents involving nuclear weapons;
  • continuing reconnaissance, even after several spy planes were fired on over Cuba and one shot down on Saturday; and
  • full preparations(“if they were wholly a bluff,” he says, “they fooled us”) for invasion and airstrike

He thought, “Who were these people I was working for? Were they all insane?

Subsequent research by Ellsberg and others has now revealed that the real situation was much worse than any U.S. officials knew at the time.

In fact, there had been 162 Soviet missiles already in Cuba, not 38.  Some of them were tactical, short-range nuclear missiles to be aimed at invading U.S. forces and the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay.  Soviet submarines being bombarded with U.S. grenades were – unknown to Washington – equipped with nuclear torpedoes.

Neither Kennedy nor Khrushchev had any intention of triggering a nuclear war.  They were both bluffing, hoping to get a better deal.  No invasion of Cuba was planned. But none of their subordinates knew that.  Castro, believing a U.S. invasion to be inevitable and that Cuba would be made to ‘disappear,’ had written to Khrushchev urging a full Soviet nuclear response on the U.S. once the expected invasion was underway.

Finally, when Khrushchev and Kennedy both realized that their brinksmanship was spiraling out of their control, they worked urgently together to defuse it.  Contrary to popular myth, neither country ‘won’ or ‘lost.’

Global nuclear destruction had been averted by just ‘that much.’

A tiny country, previously attacked by the United States, believes another attack is imminent and contemplates ‘the nuclear suicide option.’  Sound familiar?

The Fire Every Time – Incinerating Civilians

Ellsberg, the historian, traces the growth of the omnicidal nuclear mindset from British and American bombing strategy evolved in WW II.

When the war began on September 1, 1939, with Hitler’s invasion of Poland, President Roosevelt issued an appeal to all of the states involved, to avoid the ‘human barbarism’ of targeting civilians, who he described as “innocent human beings who have no responsibility for,  and who are not even remotely participating in, the hostilities that have now broken out….”

With then recent historical atrocities in mind, no doubt like the one immortalized in Picasso’s famous painting ‘Guernica,’ he went on,

I am therefore directing this urgent appeal to every Government which may be engaged in hostilities publicly to affirm its determination that its armed forces shall in no event, and under no circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities, upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents. I request an immediate reply.

Britain, then Germany, quickly agreed.  In fact, none of the countries involved saw this an unusual request, for Roosevelt was simply affirming what was then considered an accepted international norm of warfare: avoid harming non-combatants.

By war’s end, this supposed norm, violated first by Britain, then the U.S., had not only been abandoned, but completely reversed.

Militarists had come to regard war from the air as the one sure path to victory, and civilian officials had come to see cities – that is, civilians – as legitimate targets.

But that was not all.

It had been discovered that – given the right atmospheric and wind conditions – saturation bombing of a city could create ‘firestorms ’ – in effect altering local weather as what would come to be called a ‘force multiplier’ – incinerating entire urban populations and destroying all existing structures.

One such event, was the firebombing of the German city of Dresden, later portrayed by an American prisoner of war survivor, Kurt Vonnegut in his novel, Slaughterhouse Five.   But there were many others.  More than half a million German civilians were killed.  Creating intentional urban firestorms had become the principle objective of aerial warfare, under the rationale that ‘terror bombing’ would destroy moral and end hostilities sooner, thus ‘saving lives’ in the long run.

With the German defeat, U.S. attention shifted to Japan and ‘scientific’ firebombing of cities was honed to a fine art under General Curtis LeMay.  Using his new approach,  reports Ellsberg, “It would be possible, LeMay thought, ‘to knock out all of Japan’s major industrial cities during the next ten nights.’ And he set out to burn the next most populous seventeen cities in succession. After that, the next fifty.”

Creating firestorms, like the one that destroyed Tokyo, with ‘conventional’ explosives required many planes.  With atomic weapons like those used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you could do the job with just one bomber per city.  But, aside from subsequent deaths caused by exposure to radioactive fallout, the deadly results were basically the same.

Later, LeMay would boast, “we scorched and boiled and baked to death more people in Tokyo on that night of March 9-10 than went up in vapor at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.”

Firebombing and mass murder from the air – with or without nukes – had become the American way of war.

In the early 1950s, in the Korean war, LeMay recalled in a 1988 interview, “We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea….”

The legendary Gen. Douglas MacArthur – no stranger to mass slaughter – testified in a 1951 Congressional hearing, “The war in Korea has already almost destroyed that nation of 20,000,000 people. I have never seen such devastation.  I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man, and it just curdled my stomach, the last time I was there.  After I looked at that wreckage and those thousands of women and children and everything, I vomited.”

Taking Bets on Atmospheric Ignition

The high risk attitude of what might be called – with a nod to C. Wright Mills – ‘crackpot nuclearism,’ was born in the New Mexico desert with the July 16, 1945 Trinity Test, the world first atomic bomb.  It has dominated nuclear policy ever since.

Some of the Manhattan Project scientists were doing calculations aimed at predicting whether or not the planned test would ignite the planet’s entire atmosphere thus ending life on earth.  There were arguments and conflicting conclusions.  Nobody was quite sure either way.

On the eve of the test, Enrico Fermi offered to take bets on if atmospheric ignition would occur.  “I am now in a position,” he said, “to make book on one of two contingencies: 1) that the explosion will burn New Mexico; 2) that it will ignite the whole world.”

The odds Fermi offered are not recorded, nor if anyone took his bet.   The consensus apparently was that both outcomes were unlikely…but possible.  The test went ahead anyway.

The Threat of Use is Use – a Terrorist Threat

The gun in the hand of the robber aimed at the victim’s head – whether or not the trigger is pulled – is being ‘used.’  The same is true of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

One often hears that The Bomb was only ‘used’ twice, by President Truman on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  But, as Ellsberg documents, every president since – right down to the current occupant of the Oval Office – has used the Doomsday Machine in the same way the robber uses the gun, as a credible threat to impose his will.

Even one tactical nuclear weapon attacking a heavily populated area could kill hundreds of thousands of non-combatants.  “Thus,” Ellsberg concludes, “virtually any threat of first use of a nuclear weapon is a terrorist threat. Any nation making such threats is a terrorist nation. That means the United States and all its allies, including Israel, along with Russia, Pakistan, and North Korea.”

Dissent as a Family Trait

Ellsberg discloses many institutional secrets discovered in the course of his career.  But there is a personal one he saves until almost last.  As noted above, his father had been a distinguished engineer and factory designer involved in the war effort.  During the whistleblower days, when Kissinger had labeled him ‘the most dangerous man in America,’ Ellsberg says he had little contact with his father.  Much later the two had a conversation in which the son learned that the father, too, had not only had many of the same top security clearances, and had worked on building the A-bomb, but had also been a dissenter.

At the top of his career, the elder Ellsberg had been engaged to design a plant that would produce material for an H-bomb, the hydrogen bomb. It was to be a thousand times more powerful than the A-bombs used on Japan.  In fact, the A-bomb is now simply used as the detonation trigger for the H-bomb.

“That was it for me,” his father recalled at the age of 89. “I went back to my office and I said to my deputy, ‘These guys are crazy.’”

“There was another thing about it I couldn’t stand,” his father continued.  “Building these things generated a lot of radioactive waste…. That stuff was deadly for ever.”

Ellsberg recalls there were tears in his father’s eyes as he went on huskily, “I couldn’t stand the thought that I was working on a project that was poisoning parts of my country for forever, that might make parts of it uninhabitable for thousands of years.”

His father – unlike the many others engaged to make the H-bomb – resigned rather than participating in the project.

Asked what had made him feel so strongly, his father responded, “You did.”

Turns out that back in 1946 the young Ellsberg had come home crying, carrying a copy of John Hersey’s just-published book Hiroshima, a report on the horrors of atomic warfare.  Recalled his father, “You said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to read this. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever read.’  So I read it, and you were right.”

Non-Violent Co-existence or Violent Co-annihilation – That Is Still the Question

Being a nuclear war planner and risk analyst means developing the capacity of imagining the unthinkable.  It’s a great skill set to have.  Especially if, like Ellsberg (and others), you have awakened to the omnicidal danger of the doomsday machine you have participated in creating.

Now, when many despairing pessimists are concluding that the Doomsday Machine Syndrome has taken on an autonomous life of its own, and that it’s political, economic, and military institutionalization on a global level has made deconstructing it ‘realistically unthinkable,’ Ellsberg’s informed conviction that deconstruction IS not only possible, but doable within a year’s time, is invigorating to the soul.  Human ingenuity has created multiple doomsday machines; human ingenuity can take them down.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s erstwhile ‘brain,’ infamously described the prime agenda item of the Trump/GOP wrecking crew as ‘deconstruction of the administrative state.’  In fact, they’re doing it as we watch.  Proving precisely that, what humans have put together, humans can pull asunder.

Ellsberg’s bold, ‘unthinkable,’ essentially revolutionary agenda is nothing less than the deconstruction of the Doomsday Machine itself.

According to his vision, Truman’s proverbial ‘buck’ both stops and starts here, in America, the birthplace of the Doomsday Machinery, the only country to have not only actually dropped The Bomb, but to have ‘used’ The Bomb for the last seventy-plus years, in over two dozen credible international threats (which he documents), as a gun to the heads of other nations of the world.

He addresses the common argument that ‘You can’t uninvent nuclear weapons.’

That has been a widespread and effective argument against a total unilateral abolition over the past seventy years. True, you can’t eradicate the knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons and delivery systems. But you can dismantle a Doomsday Machine. And that, at minimum, is what we must hasten to do. There is no need or justification for us to wait for the Russians to do it to theirs first or in step with us, though that global imperative applies just well to them.

Here’s his Six-Step Program:

  • A U.S, no-first-use policy
  • Probing investigative hearings on our war plans in the light of nuclear winter
  • Eliminating our ICBMs
  • Forgoing the delusion of preemptive damage-limiting by our first-strike forces
  • Giving up the profits, jobs, and alliance hegemony based on maintaining that pretense
  • Otherwise dismantling the American Doomsday Machine.

Being a realist, he observes that, “Both parties as currently constituted oppose every one of these measures.”  Further, he admits, “the news is equally bad when it comes to the prospects of reversing American energy policy in time and on a scale to avert catastrophic climate change.”  He concludes,

The steps I have indicated are only a beginning toward the ultimate delegitimation of nuclear weapons and nuclear threats. But none of the necessary changes can occur without an informed public, suitably alarmed by a situation that properly evokes horror, fear, revulsion, and incredulity, accompanied, hopefully by the determination of the highest order and urgency to eliminate it.

The White House as Madhouse

At the time Ellsberg worked at RAND, U.S. war planners had long been obsessed by belief in a series of ‘gaps:’  a ‘bomber gap;’ a ‘missile gap;’ a ‘deterrent gap.’  Kennedy himself had campaigned and been elected on the fiction of a ‘missile gap,’ with the Soviet Union being erroneously claimed to possess ‘strategic superiority.’

Ellsberg found that none of these supposed ‘gaps’ had actually existed.  They were really claims cooked up by competing branches of the military aimed at securing a bigger share of the defense budget, and a more important role in the ‘Big Game.’  RAND’s whole program had been based on delusion.

He writes, “To recognize that was to face the conclusion that RAND had, in all good faith, been working obsessively and with a sense of frantic urgency on a wrong set of problems, an irrelevant pursuit in respect to national security.”  Yet RAND’s program continued for years after the gap concepts had been debunked.

Donald (My-Button-is-Bigger-than-Your-Button) Trump is not only continuing the trillion dollar nuclear weapons upgrade begun under Obama, but calling for 10 times as many thermonuclear devices as are already in the US arsenal.

In 2017, American Special Forces boots were on the ground in 146 countries.  A new study by the Costs of War Project maps 76 countries in which the U.S. is currently at war.  That’s a lot of flash points, any one of which could potentially trigger a nuclear exchange.

One wonders what delusional ‘risk assessments’ are currently being used by today’s generation of war planners to rationalize this level of institutionalized insanity.

Toward A New Nuclear Consciousness and Abolition Movement

The five ‘original’ nuclear powers – the US, UK, France, Russia and China – have since been joined by Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.  So now there are nine known national Doomsday Machines – one for every nuclear weapons state – all on hair trigger alert for some future wargasm, maybe just around the corner.

And then there are the other – presently operating – DNA-destroying radioactive, electro-magnetic and chemical pollution doomsday machines, as well as the carbonization-of-the-atmosphere doomsday machine already causing catastrophic climate change…not to mention the on-going Sixth Great Extinction.

I chose to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day immersed in Ellsberg’s book.  It may not have been the most pleasant holiday season I’ve experienced, but it was definitely the most informative and enlightening.

It’s my bad habit, with a read I like, to underline sentences, star paragraphs, and dog-ear pages that seem especially important.  I found myself doing that on almost every page.

Ellsberg’s website contains massive documentation supporting his book’s disclosures.

He is not alone among former nuclear war planners that have become nuclear abolitionists in their later years.  Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry, here  and here has joined former Secretaries of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger and Senator Sam Nunn to write a groundbreaking Wall Street Journal op-ed series on the issues.  They have also co-founded the Nuclear Security Project.

Toward the end of their lives, both McNamara and Castro also became ardent nuclear abolitionists.

These are good signs.  Crackpot nuclearism may yet be overcome.

The Doomsday Machine – my nominee for ‘the most important book of 2017’ – is at once an empowering, and a cautionary tale about the ‘power of one’ to catalyze change in a labyrinthine, entrenched, corporate/government bureaucracy … AND, about how the many paths to doomsday can be paved with good intentions.

Get it.  Read it.  And don’t mourn, organize and pass the word!  Spread awareness of both the risks and the mitigating possibilities.  Informed, concerted public action has made a huge difference throughout the Atomic Age, and it can again.

As the UN’s recent historic vote by more than 120 nations to ban the possession, use, or threatened use of nuclear weapons, and the Nobel Peace Prize award to ICAN make clear, the once powerful no nukes abolition movement is again resurgent.

Maybe, just maybe – as Reverend King was warning way back in 1967 – it’s still not too late…

 

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These Jan. 14, 2018 weekend headlinies show the urgency:

Exclusive: Here Is A Draft Of Trump’s Nuclear Review. He Wants A Lot More Nukes.

His first Nuclear Posture Review: more nukes, more posturing.  By Ashley Feinberg – Huffpost

Global Zero Responds to Leaked Draft of Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review

Group Warns Implementation of Trump’s Plan Makes Nuclear War More Likely

Nuclear deterrence is a myth. And a lethal one at that

Nuclear deterrence continues to dominate international relations. Yet there is no proof it ever worked, nor that it ever will
by David P Barash – Guardian

Former nuclear launch officers implore Congress to rein in Trump’s ability to launch nukes first

Jen Heyden – Daily Kos

OOOPS: ‘Ballistic Missile Threat Inbound to Hawaii…This is Not a Drill’

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James Heddle is a filmmaker and writer who co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan.  Their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection is now in post-production.  He can be reached at jamesmheddle@gmail.com

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