Monday 3 March 2008

Calling Guam! - Did Misty Debris Bring Down B-2 Stealth Bomber?

by Trowbridge H. Ford

Almost always when any airborne object crashes - whether it be man-made or not, an aircraft or a satellite, a commericial airliner or military one, involving casualities or not - the media and the agencies responsible go into immediate overdrive to explain what happened in the hope of calming fears about something sinister being afoot. Since 9/11, all authorities have wanted to reassure their respective subjects that they are in control of events. When something most unexpected happens, and they suddenly clam up, everyone should immediately expect the worst, especially if they throw a security blanket around any reporting about it.

Just think of all the wild reporting and speculation about the crashes of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21 1988, and the TWA Flight 800 over Long Island more than seven years later. While the press was convinced that both were similar attacks of irrational terrorists simply wanting revenge, there was wide disagreement about who did it, and why - everything from Colonel Gaddafi's terrorists to more home-grown culprits of various sorts.

While Juval Aviv's New York firm, Interfor, hired by Pan Am's insurer to investigate the crash, determined that it had been caused by drug-dealer and arms merchant Monzar Al-Kassar to protect his operations from being exposed by an official CIA investigative team, headed by Major Charles McKee, Washington and London settled for sticking the crash on the Libyans. While former JFK Press Secretary Pierre Salinger and others were sure that the TWA had been shot down by an errant missile, the National Transportation Safety Board finally concluded that it had been the result of a spark in a fuel tank.

The curious often conspiratorial interest in air crashes reached its zenith when millionaire Steve Fawcett went missing last September, and was never found despite the continuous efforts by many, both public and private, especially the Civil Air Patrol. Ultimately, a high-tech supervision camera aka ARCHER on an airplane was brought in to help make up for human deficiencies in the hunt, but it too never found the adventurer who had recently circumnavigated solo the globe in a balloon.

Of course, all the while the conspiracy theorists were working overtime about this disappearance, especially after CNN's crash expert Miles O'Brien speculated that he may have been swallowed up when he flew over Nevada's dreaded Area 51 or that he had unfortunately discovered some new secret while flying over Nellis Air Force Base. There was even thought that he had been kidnapped to help cover up the fact that a nuke might have gone missing when that B-52 took an unscheduled trip over the States with all those others aboard.

In light of this history, it is truly amazing the silence surrounding the first crash of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber on Guam's Andersen Air Force Base a week ago Saturday, just when most of the debrís from the knocked down Misty satellite aka USA 193 was expected to be coming down there to earth. The satellite had collided with a US Navy SM-3 missile about 3.30 AM local time the previous Thursday over Hawaii's Maui island, and the bits and pieces continued to circulate the globe every 90 minutes, arriving over Guam 39 rotations later at around 11:00AM Saturday local time, just when a flight of four B-2 bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing was in the process of taking off one after another. The B-2 that crashed - the second one cleared for takeoff - had done so around 10.50AM.

Of course, the stealth bomber could have just crashed because of some mechanical failure or pilot error, but this seems highly unlikely, given where the crash started, and how the pilots reacted to it. The aircraft suffered some catastrophic failure just as it was gettting airborne, one so bad that the pilots immediately opted to eject rather than try to bring to stricken craft safely back to earth. The most likely explanation of why they did this is that they knew that they had been struck by a flying object - what their radar had shown - and must eject immediately.

Andersen AFB is a gigantic place - an emergency landing field for the Space Shuttle, if required -covering the whole northern tip of the island, and the pilots had, consequently, a great deal of space to engineer a safe landing if it were possible. In fact, the plane seems to have crashed near the control tower according to the best evidence available on the internet to the public - the four videos, taken from a considerable distance away - about it.

Of course, officials could have immediately quelled any damaging speculation about the crash if they had wanted to since the control tower had had a clear view of what happened, and the two pilots miraculously survived the crash in good health, obviously able to tell what they knew, and reacted to. Instead, air base officials declared a complete news blackout of the crash, failing to even identify the pilots in question, and it has continued down to right now. All that is available about it is what a few private individuals had been able to tell the press about what they had just heard, and seen - what authorities then induced others from engaging in. They heard the crash, rushed to where they could see the thick, black smoke rising from where the B-2 had ended up, and mentioned another explosion occurring at the site about 30 minues later - a most unexepected event given the fact that the aircraft was apparently unarmed.

The second explosion raises the possibility that the B-2 is nuclear-powered despite all the claims to the contrary. The Air Force tested a B-36 bomber back in the 1950s to see if it could be made to use a nuclear reactor, but apparently the shielding of the crew from its radiation - about five tons of it - proved too much for efficient flying. Then, of course, the explosion could have been the result of another nuclear reactor - i.e., the one from the shattered Misty satellite - finally reaching the 2,000 degrees C. required in the ensuing fire to degrade its fuel so much that it started melting, triggering a nuclear accident. Of course, any nuclear accident, as a result of the crash, would render the site unsafe for anyone - what apparently resulted since it seemed free of any equipment or emergency personnel when the burning wreck was video taped.

The crash, in sum, seems to have been caused by the US Air Force and Navy involved in the two operations not paying enough attention to what each other was doing. The Misty satellite belonged to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and was the responsibility of the Air Force until General Kevin Chilton, head of its Strategic Command who was monitoring its coming down, signed it over to the Navy to shoot down. Once this was done, the Air Force forgot, it seems, about the debrís, assuming that it was no longer a problem.

How else can one explain the four B-2s taking off from Andersen when the satellite remains were coming around overhead? It was just an preview of what critics of ballistic missile defense (BM0) - the neocons' successor to Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) - imagined might happen in the confusion of real combat, given its technical complexity - i. e., your missile mistaknely shoots down your satellite and rapid response to it rather than the other guy's weaponry.

And this could not have happened at a less opportune time - just when the USA is deeply involved in trying to reorganize its strategic 'defense' in reaction to the end of the Cold War. During it build-up, Washington had taken advantage of the territory it obtained in Guam, the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico by winning the Spanish-American War - what consolidated what it had already obtained by a contrived coup d'état in the Hawaian Islands against Queen Lili'oukalini. For a measly $20,000,000, the USA was ceded by Spain all this territory and more by the Treaty of Paris.

From this base, the Americans expanded their grip on the globe by exploiting fear of communist
infiltration and aggression in the name of individual freedom and ecomonic liberalism. By the time Washington triumphed over the Soviet Union, it had nearly 1,000 military bases spread around the world. "They have helped turn us into a new kind of military empire," Chalmers Johnson has written in The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, "a consumerist Sparta, a warrior culture that flaunts the air-conditioned housing, movie theaters, supermarkets, golf courses, and swimming pools of its legionnaires." (p. 23)

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington began reorganizing its empire so that it would never be confronted by another antagonist - what led to a doctrine of preventive war against any possible threat, and the realignment of its forces to meet it. The new areas of concern were, of course, the Middle East, and South East Asia, explaining why facilities in Diego Garcia and Guam became increasingly important in meeting the new challenges, especially given the growing hostility to American forces being in the Philippines, Japan, Okinawa, and South Korea. The nations of Asia are becoming increasingly opposed to the costs of the Pentagon's perpetual presence, as Johnson explained.

These problems were made more pressing by America's continuing commitment to defend Taiwan no matter what it entails and costs - what made its relationship with Australia so special. The China Lobby, the forerunner of the Israeli one, has committed the United States into defending Taiwan even if it were to invite a mainland China invasion by declaring unilateral indepedence. To meet the needs of this policy, Washington has required the continuing assistance of Canberra. Australia, Dr. Helen Caldicott has written about her native land in Missile Envy: The Arms Race and Nuclear War, is an essential partner for the National Security Agency (NSA) and the US Navy not only keeping track at places like Pine Gap of what China and Russia are doing, but also directing operations from stations at its Northwest Cape.(p. 126ff.) These secret facilities are so important in Washington's plans that it saw to the overthrow of newly elected Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975 when he threatened to expose, and stop it.

Now Australia is back there in its relations with Washington, thanks to Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister John Howard doggedly following the neocons' war on terror into the Middle East and beyond. In the November Australian General Election, Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd secured a substantial majority, promising to recall Australian troops from the fray. Then, just when the debris from the Misty satellite really started coming down, the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the conviction of four members of Christians Against All Terrrorism cutting their way into Pine Gap in December 2005 for an "inspection" so as to put it on trial. By quashing the $3,000 fine, Chief Justice Brian Martin has succeeded in their objective - what he will explain in due course. ("Pine Gap four cleared," The Australian, February 23, 2008)

Guam seemed to have matters in hand, though, when these changes occurred as the island is increasingly well prepared for any build-up of forces and facilities required by any new challenge in Asia. Its harbor has been improved to handle carrier battle groups, and the island is to be the new home of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force - moved from Okinawa because of growing hostility to the American presence there. Then the Wharf has been expanded to handle a nuclear submarine
squadron, working waters around Indonesia and off China since it has become increasingly difficult to use the pens at White Beach, Okinawa. And nuclear weapons are stored at its Navy Magazine. In sum, Guam is well on its way to becoming a totally militarized bastion, headed by the commander of the Pacific Fleet.

The crash of the B-2 bomber can only intensify Australia's second-thoughts about having American forces using its bases. Now it seems B-2s and B-56s using its Delamere Air Weapons Range, 130 southwest of Katherine in its Northern Territory, for bombing practice is also in jeopardy. Pine Gap's role in the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) of satellites - designed to pick up signals of missile launches anywhere in the world, part of Bush's BMD - might well also be on the block, forcing Guam to assume yet another role in the homeland's defense. The Assies just cannot be happy with what Washington continues to have planned for them when it comes to preventive attacks and unplanned disasters in the so-called war on terrorism.

Given this prospect, little wonder that the US officials responsible for the B-2 crash have taken over its investigation under a news blackout in the hope of limiting the fallout as much as possible.