Space Ghosts

By Chris Floyd - The Moscow Times
Feb, 2003.

  George W. Bush paid eloquent tribute to the seven astronauts killed in the space shuttle Columbia last week. Too bad he ignored the equally eloquent words of warning about impending disaster in the program from NASA's own panel of safety experts -- experts which the Regime fired after they dared bring their concerns to Congress.

"The Bush Regime's priority is the development of what Pentagon warplanners call "Full Spectrum Dominance": the projection of overwhelming military might throughout the heavens "
And almost immediately after this critical testimony, the panel's chairman was unceremoniously ashcanned by Bush's choice for NASA director, Sean O'Keefe. Apparatchik O'Keefe, who served as secretary of the Navy back in Daddy Bush's day, might not have had any experience in the space program, but he did have something far more important: a reputation as "Dick Cheney's man," The Washington Post reports.

After letting O'Keefe wet his whistle with a plum job in the White House budget office, Cheney and Bush moved him over to NASA, with orders to change the agency's focus from scientific exploration to the full-blown militarization of space. He was also instructed to "streamline budgets," cutting corners to increase the profit margins of the unholy alliance of private military contractors who now control more than 90 percent of the shuttle program. And here O'Keefe did yeoman service for his corporate partners, bragging under oath last year that he had "canceled or deferred" a number of expensive shuttle upgrades, the Post reports.

But do let's be bipartisan about this. For it wasn't Bush but Bill Clinton -- practicing his vaunted "New Democrat" (i.e., "Old Republican") philosophy -- who first abandoned the shuttle program to the tender mercies of the arms dealers Lockheed Martin and Boeing back in 1996. The privatization sweetheart deal (and aren't they all, really?) gave the military mavens "wide latitude" to "set their own parameters," free from pesky government oversight. The result has been a steady corrosion of safety standards, accelerated under the even more corporate-chummy Bush Regime, who kicked in an extra $2.9 billion for the LM-Boeing boys last year.

So where is all the money going? Not to safeguard a bunch of pointy-headed science nerds carrying out experiments in space, obviously. No, the Bush Regime's priority is the development of what Pentagon warplanners call "Full Spectrum Dominance": the projection of overwhelming military might throughout the heavens in order to -- and here's a familiar theme -- "prevent the emergence of any global rival" to American hegemony. "It's an "urgent mission," says the U.S. Strategic Command, to "seize the high ground" and, in Donald Rumsfeld's words, "avoid a space Pearl Harbor," The New York Times reports.

"Pearl Harbor" seems to be a potent trigger word for the Regime, and for Rumsfeld in particular. You'll recall our recent reports on PNAC, the Rumsfeld-led think tank that spent the last decade drawing up plans for the invasion of Iraq and the domination of Central Asia. One key PNAC concept was the hope for a "Pearl Harbor-type event" that would sweep away opposition to imperial conquests abroad and pave the way for a broad militarization of American society. Who says wishes never come true?

Now a similar fate is in store for the global commons of outer space, it seems. As with the Regime's other plans for domination, Strategic Command's reports are all couched in purely defensive terms -- as if some rogue state or terrorist group were about to launch a multi-trillion dollar space armada to encircle the earth with deadly intent. The truth is that only one nation is capable of doing that: the Lord God's own U.S. of A. And the array of whiz-bang weaponry being avidly pursued by the Regime -- including space-mounted lasers, orbiting nuclear arms and death-dealing solar magnifiers -- goes far beyond anything required solely for defense. If implemented, "Full Spectrum Dominance" will be an inescapable, unstoppable loaded gun pointed at the head of every man, woman and child on the planet, giving new weight to Bush's oft-repeated declaration: "If you're not with us, you're against us."

O'Keefe too had bigger fish to fry: After sacking the experts, he spent the summer on the campaign trail, swanning around with Republican candidates throughout the country, including the Bush satrapy of Florida. He was also diverting NASA resources to a joint project with a private firm to develop "brain-monitoring devices" that could supposedly "read terrorists' minds" at airports, The Washington Times reports. To help field-test the mind-reading gizmo, NASA recently "requested" one airline to turn over all its computerized passenger data for a three-month period.

What this vast invasion of privacy has to do with space exploration is anybody's guess, but no doubt the end product will prove profitable for the private firm enjoying O'Keefe's largess. And who is this lucky company? That's classified, of course. Why should American taxpayers know which politically connected corporate player is getting the money that could have gone to those safety upgrades that "Cheney's man" so proudly "canceled or curtailed"?

And anyway, what are seven dead astronauts compared to the rude financial health of crony contractors? As always, the "bottom line" -- money and power -- carries the day. Right, Bill? Right, George?


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