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, April 14, 2012


Global Network board member Loring Wirbel (Citizens for Peace in Space, Colorado Springs) writes about the new NSA data center in Utah:

  • James Bamford, author of The Puzzle Palace and other books on the intelligence community, wrote the cover story in the April Wired magazine on the National Security Agency's new data center in Bluffdale, Utah (formerly known as "Storage Station Freedom"). While the link to this story has been widely proliferated around the web in the last couple weeks, I read it in detail last night and came away with important new takeaways. While there are few true surprises, the story basically confirms with multiple sources the worst-case analysis of activists who feared the NSA was going back to full surveillance of U.S. citizens, and trashing out anything that was left of the 1978 FISA restrictions. But here's a few wrinkles:

  • The 2004 flap about "FISA Bypass" and "warrantless surveillance" was largely a cover ruse. The NSA planned to implement a program called Stellar Wind, in which deep-packet-inspection equipment manufactured by Narus was installed at dozens of major telco switching centers in the U.S., the architecture being planned long before Sept. 11. The Patriot Act and FISA Bypass were used as an excuse to put Stellar Wind into action - and this was the project that Joe Nacchio refused to implement when he was CEO of Qwest. Since it was initiated, Stellar Wind was expanded so that all major land-line telcos in the U.S. and all major wireless operators, surrendered years' worth of billing records to the NSA, giving the agency full identity trackers for all U.S. citizens. A few conscientious NSA employees went to Obama and Holder early in the Obama administration, suggesting that the decency of an automated warrant request should at least be preserved, and they were turned down flat. Obama and Holder are as solidly behind Stellar Wind as Bush, Cheney, and Ashcroft.

  • Those same "liberal" NSA insiders suggested that it would be a more efficient use of resources if the NSA only retained data for U.S. citizens to the degree to which the data matched NSA keyword schemes. They were told that the reason the NSA is building the Utah facility is that the agency wants to retain all phone calls, email, social network activity, credit card records, etc. of U.S. citizens for a minimum period of several months, so that more interesting data mining and social factor analysis can be performed on that data. (Of course, the NSA has been doing this globally for many years, through sites in Menwith Hill (UK), Misawa (Japan), etc.)

  • Up to one-fourth of all new construction activity at Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee is now under the NSA budget, not the Department of Energy, because NSA is using the front of nuclear-weapon analysis to build dedicated code breaking computers, similar to what they did in the 50s and 60s. The computers all are resident in Tennessee, not at Fort Meade headquarters in Maryland. Researchers are using a variety of parallel-DSP and quantum-computing search tools to break the supposedly unbreakable codes such as public-key crypto and Advanced Encryption Standard. (I always figured that was true, but didn't know details.) Incidentally, and not discussed in the Bamford article, NSA and CIA both have established public-source search divisions in their headquarters to integrate public Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, etc. into the records established in Utah.

  • The Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley AFB in Aurora, CO, now employs at least 850 NSA employees, in addition to Air Force and NRO employees, for processing information from U.S. spy satellites. The number of dedicated NSA employees probably exceeds 1000 by now. (If you go to Centre Tech Parkway next to Buckley, you will see dozens of contractor facilities that have vastly expanded in recent years, all in huge, windowless buildings, and likely involved in intelligence pre-processing.)


South Korean citizens gathered in Gangjeong village on April 14. A declaration for the "Direct action for the Peace of the Gureombi Rock" was announced.

Imprison 10,000 of us! Even though you jail us for fear, we will be jailed with joy. As the masters of this country, we have the right to enter the Gureombi Rock in peaceful way, The wall of police cannot stop us. This is to save the value of Life and Peace. Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘The mystery of struggle is to go to prison. And feel happiness in the jail.’ Here Baek Ki-Wan said, ‘Let’s all go to jail. The Spring of History comes not from election but from jail.’

Citizens took action to break the fence... total 12 including two women were arrested yesterday.


Members of the Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice oppose the testing and deployment of missiles from the world's largest missile range: Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Lockheed-Martin's Aegis missiles are shot regularly in tests from Kauai at Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. And once those missiles are tested, they are deployed in bases all around the world. Currently, on the South Korean island of Jeju, villagers are being jailed for protesting the destruction of their food-giving, pristine reef and fertile farmland, in order to make way for a navy base that will house Aegis destroyer warships.

PMRF is one of over a thousand U.S. bases in the U.S. and all over the world contributing to widespread pollution and destruction on the planet.

With this many bases, we are more than sufficiently defended. We need to bring those billions of dollars back home, into education, health and jobs for Americans.


  • I did another radio interview yesterday afternoon in Santa Rosa. It was on KBBF which was the first bi-lingual station in the country. They had a signed poster from Cesar Chavez on the studio wall. He helped to train me as an organizer when I went to work for the United Farm Workers Union in 1978.
  • In the evening a pot luck supper was held before my talk at the Peace & Justice Center. I was glad to see several of the students from my community college the night before come back for a second dose. Lynda Williams sang again to kick things off.
  • This morning Lynda drives me north to Boonville (redwood tree country) where I do a noon time talk. My host John Lewallen is running for Congress and wants me to focus on economic conversion of the military industrial complex.
  • I had an email two days ago from Diana Bohn in Berkeley who is a member of the City of Berkeley Peace & Justice Commission. She said she heard me on the KPFA show called "Flashpoints" but missed my talk. She intends to bring a resolution to the city that calls Berkeley a "Samsung Free Zone". There we go. Let's have some more of that.

Friday, April 13, 2012


  • Lynda Williams is a peace diva! Last night she turned out 66 students, faculty, and staff at Santa Rosa Community College at 7:00 pm. I was doubtful that they'd show up so late after a day at school. Most were her physics and chemistry students and she proceeded to warm them up with her singing of the above song "War in Heaven". We had a great discussion during the Q & A. It's quite clear that this generation knows they are being sacrificed to the gods of feudalism. They are just looking for what they can do about it. I told them to start with decolonizing their own minds. I ended with the question: "And we are going to boycott....?" and they responded right on time in unison....."Samsung". Made me proud.
  • Business Insider reports:
    The Russian military anticipates that an attack will occur on Iran by the summer and has developed an action plan to move Russian troops through neighboring Georgia to stage in Armenia, which borders on the Islamic republic, according to informed Russian sources. "Iran is our neighbor," Dmitry Rogozin, who recently was the Russian ambassador to NATO, said. "If Iran is involved in any military action, it's a direct threat to our security." Rogozin now is the deputy Russian prime minister and is regarded as anti-Western. He oversees Russia's defense sector. Russian Defense Ministry sources say that the Russian military doesn't believe that Israel has sufficient military assets to defeat Iranian defenses and further believes that U.S. military action will be necessary. The implication of preparing to move Russian troops not only is to protect its own vital regional interests but possibly to assist Iran in the event of such an attack. Sources add that a Russian military buildup in the region could result in the Russian military potentially engaging Israeli forces, U.S. forces, or both.
  • It's increasingly becoming clear that the U.S. is poking a sharp stick at Russia and will eventually get a reaction. Russia is being encircled by an eastward expanding NATO and by Obama's ground and sea-based "missile defense" deployments. I still maintain the U.S. is doing this because Russia sits on the world's largest supply of natural gas and significant supplies of oil. Hasn't it become clear that the Pentagon is now the resource extraction service for corporate globalization?
  • This morning I did two radio interviews. One was with Peter Phillips from Project Censored that aired on KPFA in Berkeley and the other was the nationally syndicated Gary Null Show. When I arrived at Lynda's house yesterday Peter came by for a couple of hours and we had a great talk about the work of the Global Network and Project Censored. Project Censored picks out the top 25 most censored stories each year and gives them big play in the alternative media. In 1999 and again in 2005 they included articles I had written about space issues in their most censored series.
  • The U.S., Japan, and South Korea are making a big deal about North Korea's failed rocket launch. They pumped up the fear about the launch to justify deployment of PAC-3 systems in Okinawa two weeks ago. But this is all a lark. They don't fear North Korea. Instead they use North Korean missile tests as a ploy to frighten and justify U.S. doubling of Pentagon operations in the Asia-Pacific that instead are being aimed at China. Anyway, isn't it total hypocrisy for the U.S. to lecture any country about building, testing, and deploying nuclear missiles or war-fighting satellites? This is why people around the world detest U.S. policies so much.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


  • I am back on the train heading to Santa Rosa/Sebastopol where I will be for the next two days. Global Network board member, and physics teacher, Lynda Williams will host me for talks at the community college where she teaches and in a public event sponsored by the local peace and justice organization. While there I will do three more radio interviews.
  • I pre-recorded one interview for a Santa Rosa radio station that airs today. The host did a nice job of putting together an Internet page with graphics to highlight what I had to say. You can see it here
  • I spoke twice yesterday in Sacramento. After lunch my host took me to Sacramento City College where I talked with 50 students and got a tremendous response. Usually when I speak to students they are very quite and don't engage much. In this group there were many questions and several of them made very strong statements opposing U.S. policies overseas and at home. I played the Jeju Island video made by Dennis Apel (Guadalupe Catholic Worker) after he returned from our GN meeting there in February. Best of all the kids were working class and represented a diverse ethnic mix. Then in the evening I spoke at a local library in an event sponsored by several groups including Peace Action and VFP.
  • The Washington Post has a story this morning reporting that a majority of Republican voters are now opposing the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. This is great news and should give us all the confidence to go out and push hard for an immediate exit from that war ravaged nation. 70% of American citizens now oppose this madness. We are wasting $10 billion a month in Afghanistan. What we spend there in one year could wipe out the debt of the 27 states across our nation that are in fiscal crisis. That would mean that the attacks on education, health care, mental health programs, etc would not have to be made. Now is the time to be heard. Will the Democrats in Congress listen and begin to lead?


Activists in Seoul, South Korea take to the streets in a flash mob to express support for Gangjeong villagers fighting the Navy base.


Time to hit the streets again....people of the world unite.

The way we fight against corporate globalization and neo-liberalism is by creating a non-violent global movement to stand against growing militarism, corporate domination of democracy, and control of our governments by the oligarchy.

Resist and live.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The police keep coming in huge numbers to Jeju Island from the South Korean mainland. The National Assembly elections were held yesterday and it appears that the right-left divide is going to be nearly even in the assembly.

The people though continue trying to get onto sacred Gureombi rock.

We've all got to keep calling the South Korean embassy/consulates near where we live and we must keep spreading the word about the struggle on Jeju. Let's get more people involved.

Jeju is the epi-center of Obama's "pivot" of U.S. foreign and military policy into the Asia-Pacific. It's a peace, environmental, and human rights issue.

Remember the Samsung boycott too.

Listen to the radio interview I did on a Santa Rosa, California station here


Align Center
High school friend Ron San Miguel joined me in Berkeley last night
Bring Our War $$ Home art show opened last weekend in Maine

  • Last night I spoke in Berkeley at the Unitarian church. An old high school friend, Ron San Miguel who now lives in Oakland, met me at my radio interview on KPFA and then we had dinner together before my talk. We both went to Wheatland High School north of Sacramento, California when our dads were stationed at Beale AFB. Ron's brother Rick and I were in a rock-and-roll band together. Ron is an excellent musician and teaches young people. He is a special person and it was a real pleasure to see him after so many moons. I can thank Facebook for connecting us.
  • I am on the train to Sacramento where I speak at a college this afternoon and then do an evening talk at a public event organized by Peace Action. I had a great sleep last night which refreshed me and seemed to knock out a sore throat I was developing. Got to stay strong.
  • The photo above of the Bring Our War $$ Home art show was sent to me by Natasha Mayers from the Union of Maine Visual Artists. We've been working with artists around Maine for the past couple of years to get images produced of how our endless war $$ could better be spent here at home. The month-long art show opened last weekend with 100 people showing up. Our theory is that we need to use more cultural expressions to reach the public with these messages. Poetry, music, art, radio, and videos are important vehicles that fit nicely with our more traditional marches, rallies, and public speaking around these issues. People respond to different stimuli so it increases our effectiveness as organizers to use all these mediums of communication.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Yesterday’s train ride took me through Vandenberg AFB where the Pentagon launches rockets carrying top-secret military satellites into space. In addition the base also test fires nuclear missiles that hit targets in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Now and then launches from Vandenberg test “missile defense” hit-to-kill technologies.

As the Amtrak train headed north to my destination in San Luis Obispo I saw what others have long described as one of the most beautiful places along the west coast. The military often captures these incredible spots for their bases. They do it because they can I suppose. With the striking ocean views on my left side and beautiful spring wild flowers growing on the green hills to my right I was amazed at the size of Vandenberg. It seems as though the base goes on forever as the occasional lonely launch tower and support buildings are all spaced far apart among the dusty dirt roads that connects these launch pads for war in the heavens.

I thought about the times in the past when peace activists have done back country actions where they tried to enter the massive base launch areas in order to symbolically interrupt these military launches. Recently Vandenberg officials have announced that they will use mini-drones to hover over this vast expanse in order to more closely watch out for such determined protesters.

It's amazingly hypocritical of the U.S. to berate and threaten to attack Iran and North Korea for doing what happens all the time at Vandenberg. No wonder so many around the world detest U.S. nuclear policies.

I arrived in beautiful San Luis Obispo and was picked up by Henriette Groot who I met many years ago in Florida. We have mutual friends in Al and Wendy Geiger in Jacksonville. Henriette, who originally hails from the Netherlands, was one of the first to respond when I emailed my west coast list asking who might be interested in hosting me during this speaking tour.

Henrietta did a fine job of bringing together such diverse groups as Women for Peace, Transition towns, Green Party, and WILPF to co-sponsor my talk last night. (I like it when groups reach out and try to work with others – its something we all need to do a better job at.)

During the question time after my talk two people, including one elected city councilman, objected to my having offered strong critiques of Obama and Secretary of War Leon Panetta. The local official said that Panetta (a “liberal” Democrat) was once the congressman representing this community and that he was a good man. Panetta might be a good man but that doesn’t change the fact that he has alarmingly called any cuts in the gargantuan military budget as a “doomsday mechanism”. Hardly so.

The council man also maintained that the Crown family in Chicago, who gave Obama $500,000 and raised funds for him within the military industrial complex prior to the 2008 election, surely did not have any influence on the president. (The Crown family was then majority stockholders in General Dynamics.) It’s rather hard not to notice that Obama has made the Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with missile defense systems, his preferred deployment option as he surrounds Russia and China and restarts the Cold War with his “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific. The Aegis warships are built by General Dynamics at Bath Iron Works in Maine.

One woman who sat in the front row was the first to speak and strongly objected to my “negative” attacks on her president. I told her that I was not telling people who to vote for – voting is a sacred right I said – but I am just telling the story as it is. I told the audience that if George W. Bush was still president and I was reporting these facts the entire bunch of them would be wildly cheering. But when a Democrat comes into office many people suspend critical thinking. After the event was over the woman came up to me and apologized and said she was new to all this and had been shocked by my comments. I told her that her question was appropriate under the circumstances and thanked her for coming.

I write this on the bus from San Luis Obispo to San Jose. From there I jump on the train again for the ride into Berkeley. I do a radio interview at 5:00 on KPFA and then speak tonight at the Unitarian Church.

I’ll keep telling the truth about Obama and his subservience to the corporate military industrial criminal syndicate.

Monday, April 09, 2012



Tens of thousands of students in the Canadian province of Quebec have been protesting over plans to raise university fees. Until now, they have been paying just over $2,000 a year, the lowest in the country. For seven weeks, there have been class boycotts, demonstrations and occasional confrontations with police. The students now plan to target Quebec's unpopular government. With an election expected next year, the students are threatening to use their votes to keep tuition fees low. Al Jazeera's Daniel Lak reports from Sherbrooke.


  • Father Moon pictured in the hospital on Jeju Island after the accident several days ago where he was pushed/fell from a tetrapod. He is lucky to be alive. I imagine him working full time on his cell phone and Twittering to his legion of followers all over South Korea. We all send him our love and best wishes for quick recovery.
  • I am on the train again heading north from Ventura to San Luis Obisbo (the conductor just told me they call it SLO town). I do a talk there tonight. The train runs right along the coastline so I am getting wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • I had the day off in Ventura yesterday and slept until about 11:00 am. I did an hour video interview with Cindy Piester who works with Veterans For Peace and does a public access TV program that she also puts on the Internet. My hosts Frank and Lucy live in a beautiful house built on one of the hills overlooking Ventura. Frank built the house with his own hands - largely from recycled materials. It is an enormous and wondrous house. The ocean view in the distance was magical. Frank is a Korean War veteran and Lucy took me for a long walk on the beach yesterday afternoon. Lucy is still trying to hang in there with Obama so we had a good hearted debate over whether Obama is for real or not. We have a $10 bet about whether he will actually do some good after his likely reelection this November. I tried to make the bet for $100 but Lucy was not that confident.
  • On Saturday I spoke to a good crowd at 3:00 pm inside the Ventura library. For the first half of my talk I noticed that my mind was slow in making my transitions from one point to another. I was obviously feeling tired. But a second wind kicked in about half way through the speech and I was able to find the energy I needed. I met some really great folks and got an excellent response.
  • All along the journey so far I am finding that activists are in deep despair about the course our nation is presently on. Many people feel betrayed by Obama and even more are wondering what we can actually do as our democracy has been drowned by the corporate oligarchy. I tell people that the progressive community has to keep reaching out to each other - the days of organizations going it alone are over. Some of this is happening now but many of the new local/national coalitions being created by labor, environmental groups, and social justice organizations tend to exclude the peace movement and our message of opposition to endless war. When you look at the membership of many of these new coalitions they are primarily made up of the standard Democratic Party constituencies and they don't really want to talk about the "controversial" war in Afghanistan (costing us $10 billion per month) or the expanding militarism of the Obama administration. It seems that these coalitions are primarily "election season" oriented - intended to mobilize the growing rage against the system on behalf of the Democrats who are not building much energy on their own.
  • In the end I don't see any progress toward economic recovery unless and until we deal with the nearly $1 trillion a year military budget. Where will $$ come from to invest in rail, solar, wind and other sustainable job creating programs? The corporations are moving jobs offshore so they can maximize profits from cheap labor. Without the tax dollars that are presently flushed down the black hole of growing militarism I think hopes for significant job creation in the U.S. are a fantasy.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


Carne Ross was a British diplomat for 15 years before leaving the foreign service to found Independent Diplomat, a nonprofit consulting firm that offers diplomatic advice to poor, politically marginalized governments and political groups, including Kosovo, Somaliland, and other NGOs and institutions. He’s written two books: Independent Diplomat: Dispatches From an Unaccountable Elite and Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century.


This Kinks song requested by Canadian activist

Low Budget

Cheap is small and not too steep
But best of all cheap is cheap
Circumstance has forced my hand
To be a cut price person in a low budget land
Times are hard but we'll all survive
I just got to learn to economize

I'm on a low budget
I'm on a low budget
I'm not cheap, you understand
I'm just a cut price person in a low budget land
Excuse my shoes they don't quite fit
They're a special offer and they hurt me a bit
Even my trousers are giving me pain
They were reduced in a sale so I shouldn't complain
They squeeze me so tight so I can't take no more
They're size 28 but I take 34

I'm on a low budget
What did you say
I'm on a low budget
I thought you said that

I'm on a low budget
I'm a cut price person in a low budget land

I'm shopping at Woolworth and low discount stores
I'm dropping my standards so that I can buy more

[Quality costs, but quality wastes,
So I'm giving up all of my expensive tastes.
Caviar and champagne are definite no's,
I'm acquiring a taste for brown ale and cod roes ]

Low budget sure keeps me on my toes
I count every penny and I watch where it goes
We're all on our uppers we're all going skint
I used to suck cigars but now I suck polo mints

I'm on a low budget
What did you say
Yea I'm on a low budget
I thought you said that
I'm on a low budget
I'm a cut price person in a low budget land
I'm on a low budget
Low budget
Low budget

Art takes time, time is money
Money's scarce and that ain't funny
Millionaires are things of the past
We're in low budget-ville where nothing can last
Money's rare there's none to be found
So don't think I'm tight if I don't buy a round

I'm on a low budget
What did you say
Yes I'm on a low budget
I thought you said that
I'm on a low budget
I'm a cut price person in a low budget land
I'm on a low budget
Say it again
Low budget
One more time
Low budget

[I look like a tramp, but don't write me off,
I'll have you all know, I was once a toff
At least my hair is all mine, my teeth are my own,
But everything else is on permanent loan.
Once all my clothes were made by hand,
Now I'm a cut price person in a low budget land.
I'm on a low budget
I'll have you all know
We're on a low budget
I'm on a low budget]