Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Doubts surface on North Korea's role in ship sinking

Some in South Korea dispute the official version of events: that a North Korean torpedo ripped apart the Cheonan.

By Barbara Demick and John M. Glionna

Los Angeles Times

July 23, 2010

Reporting from Seoul

The way U.S. officials see it, there's little mystery behind the most notorious shipwreck in recent Korean history.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls the evidence "overwhelming" that the Cheonan, a South Korean warship that sank in March, was hit by a North Korean torpedo. Vice President Joe Biden has cited the South Korean-led panel investigating the sinking as a model of transparency.

But challenges to the official version of events are coming from an unlikely place: within South Korea.

Armed with dossiers of their own scientific studies and bolstered by conspiracy theories, critics dispute the findings announced May 20 by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which pointed a finger at Pyongyang.

They also question why Lee made the announcement nearly two months after the ship's sinking, on the very day campaigning opened for fiercely contested local elections. Many accuse the conservative leader of using the deaths of 46 sailors to stir up anti-communist sentiment and sway the vote.

The critics, mostly but not all from the opposition, say it is unlikely that the impoverished North Korean regime could have pulled off a perfectly executed hit against a superior military power, sneaking a submarine into the area and slipping away without detection. They also wonder whether the evidence of a torpedo attack was misinterpreted, or even fabricated.

"I couldn't find the slightest sign of an explosion," said Shin Sang-chul, a former shipbuilding executive-turned-investigative journalist. "The sailors drowned to death. Their bodies were clean. We didn't even find dead fish in the sea."

Shin, who was appointed to the joint investigative panel by the opposition Democratic Party, inspected the damaged ship with other experts April 30. He was removed from the panel shortly afterward, he says, because he had voiced a contrary opinion: that the Cheonan hit ground in the shallow water off the Korean peninsula and then damaged its hull trying to get off a reef.

"It was the equivalent of a simple traffic accident at sea," Shin said.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Shin was removed because of "limited expertise, a lack of objectivity and scientific logic," and that he was "intentionally creating public mistrust" in the investigation.

The doubts about the Cheonan have embarrassed the United States, which will begin joint military exercises Sunday in a show of unity against North Korean aggression. On Friday, an angry North Korea warned that "there will be a physical response" to the maneuvers.

Two South Korean-born U.S. academics have joined the chorus of skepticism, holding a news conference this month in Tokyo to voice their suspicions about the "smoking gun:" a piece of torpedo propeller with a handwritten mark in blue ink reading "No. 1" in Korean.

"You could put that mark on an iPhone and claim it was manufactured in North Korea," scoffed one of the academics, Seunghun Lee, a professor of physics at the University of Virginia.

Lee called the discovery of the propeller fragment five days before the government's news conference suspicious. The salvaged part had more corrosion than would have been expected after just 50 days in the water, yet the blue writing was surprisingly clear, he said.

"The government is lying when they said this was found underwater. I think this is something that was pulled out of a warehouse of old materials to show to the press," Lee said.

South Korean politicians say they've been left in the dark about the investigation.

"We asked for very basic information: interviews with surviving sailors, communication records, the reason the ship was out there," said Choi Moon-soon, an assemblyman with the Democratic Party.

The legislature also has not been allowed to see the full report by the investigative committee, only a five-page synopsis.

"I don't know why they haven't released the report. They are trying to cover up small inconsistencies, and that has cost them credibility," said Kim Chul-woo, a former Defense Ministry official who is now an analyst with the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a government think tank.

A military oversight body, the Board of Inspection and Audit, has accused senior naval officers of lying and concealing information.

"Military officers deliberately left out or distorted key information in their report to senior officials and the public because they wanted to avoid being held to account for being unprepared," an official of the inspection board was quoted as telling the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

The Cheonan, a 1,200-ton corvette, sank the night of March 26 about 12 miles off North Korea. The first report issued by Yonhap, the official South Korean news agency, said the ship had been struck by a torpedo, but soon afterward the story changed to say the ship sank after being grounded on a reef.

The military repeated that version for days. The audit board found that sailors on a nearby vessel, the Sokcho, who fired off 35 shots with a 76-millimeter cannon around the time of the sinking, were instructed to say they'd been shooting at a flock of birds, even though at first they had said they'd seen a suspected submarine on radar.

On April 2, as Defense Minister Kim Tae-young was testifying before the National Assembly, a cameraman shooting over his right shoulder managed to capture an image of a handwritten note from the president's office instructing him not to talk about North Korean submarines.

Such inconsistencies and reversals have fueled the suspicions of government critics. U.S. officials, however, say the panel's conclusion is irrefutable.

Rear Adm. Thomas J. Eccles, the senior U.S. representative on the panel, said investigators considered all possibilities: a grounding, an internal explosion, a collision with a mine. But they quickly concluded that the boat was sunk by a bubble-jet torpedo, which exploded underneath the vessel and didn't leave the usual signs of an explosion, he said.

"The pattern of damage was exactly aligned with that kind of weapon," Eccles said in a telephone interview. "Torpedoes these days are designed to drive underneath the target and explode. They use the energy of their explosion to make a bubble that expands and contracts. It is designed to break the back of the ship."

Pyongyang, meanwhile, denies involvement in the sinking and calls the accusation against it a fabrication.

South Koreans themselves appear to be confused: Polls show that more than 20% of the public doesn't believe North Korea sank the Cheonan.

Wi Sung-lac, South Korea's top envoy for North Korean affairs, says the criticism from within has made it difficult to get China and Russia on board to punish Pyongyang for the attack.

"They say, 'But even in your own country, many people don't believe the result,' " Wi said.

Friday, July 23, 2010


This is the key question of our moment.

This war is a massive welfare contribution to the very corporations who want to control global resources and also cut social spending. This story is the same all over the world. Governments are militarizing and cutting back on human progress. Simple as that. They are working us to build weapons and fight their wars so they can control the declining "stocks" of planetary resources.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) had a district-wide conference call last night and one of the questions came from Sally Breen (a key leader in our Bring Our War $$ Home campaign) from Windham, Maine who asked: "Thank you for your leadership on saying “no” to more war funding. You are a hero to us. What can we, here in Maine, do to support you in opposing more war funding, and even more important, begin economic conversion and spend more money on the environment and education?

Pingree Answer: Thank you for your kind words. The war supplemental is $37 billion and it is now in the Senate and expected to be heard next week. I voted “no” to more war funding because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing us $7 billion each month, and that is being added to the deficit. We are spending $1 trillion on unfunded wars. We can’t afford to spend this money. I’m hearing from more and more of my colleagues and constituents on this matter. They say we are building roads, bridges and schools in Afghanistan, but we need to be doing that right here in Maine. You mentioned economic conversion. We have excellent workmanship right here at Bath Iron Works and Pratt and Whitney. We have wind turbines where I live on Vinalhaven. The blades for those turbines came from outside the USA. I believe that we should be building the blades right here at Bath Iron Works, and the materials for the blades should be being made in Maine. Pratt and Whitney builds some military equipment, but some of the equipment they build are for commercial uses. We should be seeing more of that here in Maine.

My hope is that everyone will find a small way each day to help kick this debate and new thinking into action. God knows we need to stop this corporate domination madness now while we can still breathe.

One friend told me about a Maine summer party encounter with a fellow worker who defended the military friend challenged the thinking of his peer in front of others. Not something that is often done in that particular social setting. When this happens more often we have a movement of consciousness on our hands.

Please water the seed, even those of you living on an island.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


  • I sent around a copy of a new article by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman this morning called Deficit Doves. It's all about the federal budget crisis and the need to cut military spending. In the article she mentions our Bring Our War $$ Home campaign. It got picked up by Common Dreams web site and they put a link to our campaign web site and within a very short time I got an email from a Catholic nun out in the Midwest who said our site had been shut down. I called our web master Dan Ellis and he got on the case and found out someone had accused us of "spamming" and the web site company shut us down. Dan got them to put it back up but we likely lost hundreds of hits in the meantime. My guess is that someone who opposes our work called the server company and accused us of spamming. A version of cyber warfare.

  • At 7:30 am this morning I was on the phone doing a half-hour radio interview with a station in Kingston, Jamaica about U.S. policy toward North Korea. Also on the interview was Dr. Han Park from the University of Georgia who over and over again said he agreed with my analysis on U.S. aggressive military expansion to control Russia and China - using North Korea as the excuse; the unlikelihood that North Korea sunk the South Korean ship Cheonan; and that Obama's foreign policy was turning out to be generally the same as that of George W. Bush.

I also got in at the end the fact that Obama is calling for the spending of $175 billion over the next two decades to build new nuclear weapons factories, testing and simulation facilities, and modernizing and extending the life of the nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile. In addition there will be more than $100 billion for the Pentagon during that same period to build the platforms needed to deliver the nuclear warheads. This includes a new class of ballistic missile submarines, a new long-range bomber, and a new tactical fighter-bomber. I made the point about total U.S. hypocrisy as Bush-Obama lecture North Korea and Iran about the "evils" of nukes while we keep setting the pace with new generations of such weapons. Add in our space technology developments and it is double hypocrisy.

  • I finally got around to reading the final article in the Washington Post three-part series called Top Secret America. I made a few more additions to my previous blog post about it. See it here The 3rd article focuses on the massive expansion in the greater Washington DC area of the NSA and NRO and there is much more to come. It's your $$$ being flushed down the rat hole of surveillance and endless war.


Chemists tested several water and sand samples for oil content and one test actually exploded.....and some parents are allowing their kids to play in the water and sand.

Hello, anybody home!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


U.S. forces in Afghanistan kill a 92 year old man in his bed. Shoot him 25 times.

Your money at work making us all safe back home - bringing us freedom and democracy.

Liberty.....and all that rot.


  • I do our weekly radio show tonight with Peter Woodruff who works at Bath Iron Works (BIW) building Aegis destroyers. Each week we have a theme, tonight it is families and gardens. Lots of room to roam..... Peter is trying hard to help move BIW into building wind turbines. He is quite courageous.

  • I've been working in the garden lots lately. Made some good pesto from garlic scapes and basil from the garden. Very good reviews from housemates. Yesterday I thinned the carrots so will make some kind of salad from them when I finish this blog. Our green beans are ready for picking if we can beat the Japanese Beetles who are devouring the leaves.

  • Tomorrow night is the meeting of Maine Veterans for Peace. We are now one month away from the national convention which our chapter will host in Portland. We are trying to raise funds for the confab and will hold an event at Flatbread Pizza in Portland on Tuesday, August 3. We will get a cut on every pizza sold so please come join us for a fun night and help Maine VFP out.

  • Our new housemate Amanda had a baby yesterday - a girl named Anda. That will make seven of us in the house now. Should also count the two skunks we've seen in the yard lately...they nightly bless us with their foul smell.

  • One of my favorite musicians, Tom Neilson who lives in Western Massachusetts, will be doing a garden party concert in Brunswick on September 19. I am organizing it and always enjoy Tom's wit and his skill at using lyrics to speak the truth to the rich and powerful on behalf of working people. Tom grew up on a dairy farm in New York and is still grounded in those early roots. His latest album is called Biomess.

  • Our Bring Our War $$ Home vigil continues here in Bath every Monday for 1/2 hour. Last Monday I was on my own but still had a good response. We've been counting honks and positive waves and have seen a slight jump in the numbers since we began doing this last winter.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Talking so-called education reform - more like education de-form. It's all about privatizing education like everything else the corporations are screwing up these days.


Knowing that many of you won't have time to read the long Washington Post expose on privatizing intelligence and war I thought I'd post a few interesting bits from the series.

In the end the story is not a surprise but the rich details give some insight into how the corporations have taken near total control of foreign policy and are becoming fat rich bastards to boot.

  • In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials - called Super Users - have the ability to even know about all the department's activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation's most sensitive work.

  • The result, he added, is that it's impossible to tell whether the country is safer because of all this spending and all these activities. "Because it lacks a synchronizing process, it inevitably results in message dissonance, reduced effectiveness and waste," retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines said. "We consequently can't effectively assess whether it is making us more safe."

  • With so many more employees, units and organizations, the lines of responsibility began to blur. To remedy this, at the recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, the George W. Bush administration and Congress decided to create an agency in 2004 with overarching responsibilities called the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to bring the colossal effort under control.

  • "You can't find a four-star general without a security detail," said one three-star general now posted in Washington after years abroad. "Fear has caused everyone to have stuff. Then comes, 'If he has one, then I have to have one.' It's become a status symbol."

  • When hired, a typical analyst knows very little about the priority countries - Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan - and is not fluent in their languages. Still, the number of intelligence reports they produce on these key countries is overwhelming, say current and former intelligence officials who try to cull them every day.

  • Within the Defense Department alone, 18 commands and agencies conduct information operations, which aspire to manage foreign audiences’ perceptions of U.S. policy and military activities overseas...... And all the major intelligence agencies and at least two major military commands claim a major role in cyber-warfare, the newest and least-defined frontier.

  • So great is the government's appetite for private contractors with top-secret clearances that there are now more than 300 companies, often nicknamed "body shops," that specialize in finding candidates, often for a fee that approaches $50,000 a person, according to those in the business.

  • "This is a terrible confession," Robert Gates said. "I can't get a number on how many contractors work for the Office of the Secretary of Defense," referring to the department's civilian leadership.

  • The privatization of national security work has been made possible by a nine-year "gusher" of money, as Gates recently described national security spending since the 9/11 attacks....
    With so much money to spend, managers do not always worry about whether they are spending it effectively....."Someone says, 'Let's do another study,' and because no one shares information, everyone does their own study," said Elena Mastors, who headed a team studying the al-Qaeda leadership for the Defense Department. "It's about how many studies you can orchestrate, how many people you can fly all over the place. Everybody's just on a spending spree. We don't need all these people doing all this stuff."

  • The National Security Agency, which conducts worldwide electronic surveillance, hires private firms to come up with most of its technological innovations. The NSA used to work with a small stable of firms; now it works with at least 484 and is actively recruiting more.

  • Contractors can offer more money - often twice as much - to experienced federal employees than the government is allowed to pay them. And because competition among firms for people with security clearances is so great, corporations offer such perks as BMWs and $15,000 signing bonuses, as Raytheon did in June for software developers with top-level clearances.

  • Hiring contractors was supposed to save the government money. But that has not turned out to be the case. A 2008 study published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence found that contractors made up 29 percent of the workforce in the intelligence agencies but cost the equivalent of 49 percent of their personnel budgets. Gates said that federal workers cost the government 25 percent less than contractors.

  • [General Dynamics] embraced the emerging intelligence-driven style of warfare. It developed small-target identification systems and equipment that could intercept an insurgent's cellphone and laptop communications. It found ways to sort the billions of data points collected by intelligence agencies into piles of information that a single person could analyze.....It also began gobbling up smaller companies that could help it dominate the new intelligence landscape, just as its competitors were doing.....The company reported $31.9 billion in revenue in 2009, up from $10.4 billion in 2000. Its workforce has more than doubled in that time, from 43,300 to 91,700 employees, according to the company.

  • Another official, a longtime conservative staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee, described it as "a living, breathing organism" impossible to control or curtail. "How much money has been involved is just mind-boggling," he said. "We've built such a vast instrument. What are you going to do with this thing? . . . It's turned into a jobs program."

  • From the road, it's impossible to tell how large the NSA has become, even though its buildings occupy 6.3 million square feet - about the size of the Pentagon - and are surrounded by 112 acres of parking spaces. As massive as that might seem, documents indicate that the NSA is only going to get bigger: 10,000 more workers over the next 15 years; $2 billion to pay for just the first phase of expansion; an overall increase in size that will bring its building space throughout the Fort Meade cluster to nearly 14 million square feet.

  • Loudoun County, ranked as the wealthiest county in the country, helps supply the workforce of the nearby National Reconnaissance Office headquarters, which manages spy satellites. Fairfax County, the second-wealthiest, is home to the NRO, the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Arlington County, ranked ninth, hosts the Pentagon and major intelligence agencies. Montgomery County, ranked 10th, is home to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. And Howard County, ranked third, is home to 8,000 NSA employees.

  • The schools, indeed, are among the best, and some are adopting a curriculum this fall that will teach students as young as 10 what kind of lifestyle it takes to get a security clearance and what kind of behavior would disqualify them.

My Comments:

All this reenforces for me the whole notion that America's role under corporate globalization of the world economy will be "security export".

I am reminded of the Crown family from Chicago that have been significant owners of General Dynamics. They were early supporters of Obama's campaign for president and early on did national fundraising for him. They also opened the door to national Jewish community support for him. You could say they have an investment in Obama.

As one line above says, this is becoming a jobs program. And good paying jobs, with huge perks, for those hired. All you have to do to be hired is bury your judgement and your conscience. You have to be willing to advocate and lobby for a continuation of this massive gravy train. This puts you in league with fascist elements who are then using people's greed to help construct a global military machine whose principal purpose is to advance the interests of corporate capital.

I'd love to see the "fiscal conservatives" and Tea Baggers take a crack at this one. Instead of complaining about immigrants getting treatment at the hospital emergency room they ought to be publicly taking on the corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse that is now at unheard of levels.

More than that the conservatives and Tea Baggers should be first in line to question our "liberty and freedom" being lost as we lose our democracy to the forces of denial, secrecy, greed, and imperialism.

All being funded by working class people who won't get anything out of all this except the tax bill and fewer rights.

Monday, July 19, 2010


A Washington Post Investigation

The warfare- and combat-related air and space activities and operations of the military, intelligence agencies and the federal government. The Air Force is the primary organization here, but the Navy and Marine Corps also fly large air wings, as do Customs and Border Patrol as well as the FBI. The NRO is the national organization responsible for the development and operation of reconnaissance satellites of all sorts. Those air activities primarily involved in intelligence collection are included under technical spying.

434 results for Air and satellite operations

27 government organizations/50 companies

Government Organization/HQ Location/Number of Locations/Number of Contracting Companies

Africa Command Stuttgart-Moehringen, AE 2 19
Air Force Arlington, VA 99 392
Air Force Intelligence Arlington, VA 113 153
Army Arlington, VA 106 353
Army Intelligence Fort Belvoir, VA 93 120
Customs and Border Protection Washington, DC 56 56
Central Command Tampa, FL 6 64
Central Intelligence Agency McLean, VA 36 114
Coast Guard Washington, DC 15 44
Defense Intelligence Agency Arlington, VA 22 317
Department of Energy Washington, DC 18 87
European Command Stuttgart-Vaihingen, AE 2 11
Federal Bureau of Investigation Washington, DC 448 173
Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Org. Arlington, VA 4 68
Marine Corps Arlington, VA 24 82
Navy Arlington, VA 56 385
Navy Intelligence Arlington, VA 31 104
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Bethesda, MD 8 121
National Reconnaissance Office Chantilly, VA 6 124
National Security Agency Ft. Meade, MD 19 484
Other civil departments and agencies Washington, DC 31 4
Pacific Command Camp H.M. Smith, HI 6 27
Special Operations Command Tampa, FL 12 125
Southern Command Miami, FL 9 29
States and National Guard Washington, DC 3 3
Strategic Command Omaha, NE 14 99
Transportation Command Scott AFB, IN 2 11

To see the Frontline trailer click below:


I am coming to the conclusion that the power structure is so happy with Obama's ability to give the corporations virtually everything they want, and demobilize the left while doing it, that they are working to ensure his reelection by keeping Sarah Palin's presidential hopes alive with non-stop national media coverage.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

The Gallup polling organization has just released its latest on likely presidential candidates’ popularity within the GOP. Not surprisingly, Sarah Palin leads all the guys with presidential aspirations (Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Bobby Jindal) … not counting everybody in the US Senate, all of whom believe themselves to be presidential timber.

Palin’s at 76 percent “favorable” among Republicans – at least 10 percentage points higher than any of the guys.

The oligarchy does not worry about her winning though. Her national unfavorable ratings with the entire electorate now stand at 52.3% while only 36.9% see her in a favorable light. This "refudiate" bit won't help her much.

Palin's response to this latest verbal dust-up? She tweeted her fans saying, "English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!"

The rich and powerful, who play with our democracy like a personal water toy, are surely enjoying this spectacle.

They want elections? We'll give them circus!


Part of the street I live on here in Bath, Maine has been torn up for several weeks. When a road is not resurfaced properly it has to eventually be rebuilt. That is what is happening across the nation as local and state governments, currently in fiscal crisis, don't have the funds for proper road maintenance.

All across the country the road repair bills are mounting up to the point many communities are returning them to gravel. In Spiritwood, North Dakota residents report seeing ducks floating in big potholes in the road.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as "poor man's pavement." Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

Rebuilding an asphalt road today is particularly expensive because the price of asphalt cement, a petroleum-based material mixed with rocks to make asphalt, has more than doubled over the past 10 years. Gravel becomes a cheaper option once an asphalt road has been neglected for so long that major rehabilitation is necessary.

Some experts caution that gravel roads can be costlier in the long run than consistently maintained asphalt because gravel needs to be graded and smoothed. A gravel road "is not a free road," says Purdue University's John Habermann, who organized a recent seminar about the resurgence of gravel roads titled "Back to the Stone Age."

These are just small examples of how America is literally falling apart as our Congress funds two endless wars in the Middle East and Central Asia and continues to increase military spending for an already bloated Pentagon.

Until the public begins to make these links and demands that the politicians cut war spending then we will continue to see a decline and reversal of life here in America.

The U.S. is no longer #1 in most indicators of the good life. But we just might be #1 as the country in quickest decline - we are witnessing the Third Worldization of America.

EQUAL TIME POLICY - The Clash singing "I'm so bored with the USA"

Sunday, July 18, 2010


The military doesn't want to talk about this....the country must talk about this. GI suicides are happening for a reason.

You want to support the troops? Then end these wars now.


Lisa Savage (right) having a little "quality time" with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) before the parade began. Snowe said she would not vote against war funding - saying we had to support the troops.
Click on photos to enlarge

We did another parade yesterday. This one was called the Old Hallowell Days Parade, held in a small town near the state capital in Augusta. There was a very large crowd there and we had 17 of us doing our war $$ home message.

When we hit the thick of the crowd we stopped and began chanting "Bring Our War $$ Home" and for the first time ever in one of these parades some of the folks watching the parade began chanting with us. It was unusual and very exciting.

We were the 52nd entry in the parade so we had to wait awhile to get going and as we waited the Democratic Party group marched by us. There in clump of folks was our Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and several of our folks ran out into the middle of the street and thanked her for voting NO on the war supplemental two weeks ago. She has seen us several times now at these kind of events so she knows we are working hard around the state and that we will not let go of this knot.

After this parade some of our folks drove further north to Bar Harbor so they could protest where Obama is on vacation with his family. Have not yet heard how that turned out.

I came home and washed the car and worked in the garden. It was a hot day but a good one. The public is catching on to our message.