From 1991 to 1996, I was stationed at Onizuka AFB or the Blue Cube as we called. It was a tiny base with a really big role in the US space program. My job at the Blue Cube was as Satellite Systems Operator. Although my unit changed names and commands over the years, I ended up with the 5th Space Operations Squadron and worked in Satellite Operations Center 39 for my whole time at Onizuka. We conducted launch and early orbit operations for many different missions including GOES and NATO. We also provide support for the Space Shuttle. During my time at Onizuka, I supported 33 different Space Shuttle missions including the Hubble repair mission and the first docking of the Shuttle with the MIR space station.
Below is an article I found that talks about the importance of Onizuka. I hope you enjoy!
MOFFETT PARK, SUNNYVALE, CA: “STAR WARS” GROUND ZERO
BY EDWARD HASBROUCK
(Note: I copied this from http://www.cs.rutgers.edu/~cwm/NetStuff/Poli-Sci/volume6-2.html and have tried to clean up some of the formatting.)
Moffett Park, an industrial park just north of of Hwys 237 & 101, adjacent to Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, looks like many others throughout the San Francisco Bay area. The barbed wire around it is typical of Silicon Valley corporate security. Its low, monotonous sprawl of windowless and reflective-glass prefab buildings gives little indication of its purpose or products. The name of its true owner appears on no sign.
Its purpose is preparation for a nuclear war started by a preemptive US first strike. Its products are first-strike nuclear missiles and the information needed to aim a US first strike. Its spying and other operations are directed by the National Reconnaissance Office (the largest “black” organization in the US government) and its parent agency, the National Security Agency (the real “Big Brother” of 1986).
On 21 April 1986 I was one of about fifty people who came to Moffett Park on the national “Focus: Star Wars” day of No Business As Usual.
I was didsappointed that, while we made our presence felt by many workers and others in the area, we were unable to make our motives understood by more than a few.
This article was written to accompany a report on No Business As Usual in the Revolutionary Worker (a surprisingly non-sectarian paper which has featured some surprisingly non-dogmatic analyses of Star Wars by once-SDS’er Clark Kissinger). I hope that, through its circulation on electronic bulletin boards and mailing lists, it will convey to those who work at Moffett Park (and elsewhere in high tech and the Silicon Valley) some sense of our response to the question so often posed of demonstrators: “But why do you come HERE?”
THE LOCKHEED D-5 MISSILE
There are two major complexes at Moffett Park: Lockheed and the “Blue Cube”. Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Inc., is the prime contractor with the Department of Defense for D-5 missiles. Most of the 30,000 Lockheed workers at Moffett Park are engaged in production of these long-range, submarine- launched missiles, each carrying multiple, independently-targeted, Hydrogen-bomb warheads (MIRV’s). D-5’s are also called Trident II missiles; they will replace Trident I missiles on present and future Trident submarines.
Lockheed’s D-5 missile, like most other tools of nuclear (or any) war, is itself evidence of the wars for which it is intended. The sole advantage of Trident II over Trident I missiles (and, for the most part, of Tridents over earlier US nuclear submarines) is their ability to be used in a US first strike. The D-5 is the first missile ever built or deployed (by the US or the USSR) capable of launching a large enough warhead from a submarine with sufficient accuracy to destroy “hardened” military and strategic targets. “They will have ‘a counterforce capbility, even a preemptive capability,’ Richard DeLauer, the Under-Secretary of Defense, said [in] 1981.” < ref. 8, p.
130> Its greater range will reduce the warning given targets deep within the USSR from the 20-30 minute flight time of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM’s) to the 5-10 minute flight of missiles launched from offshore submarines (SLBM’s). < ref. 8, p. 132> These capabilities do not deter nuclear war. Deterrence depends on the ability to retaliate — mutual assured destruction. A Trident submarine commander, with Trident I missiles, already controls the 3rd-largest nuclear force in the world, a force greater than the entire US nuclear arsenal in the early 1950’s (when it was considered adequate to dominate the world). If a single Trident sub survived a Soviet first strike, destruction of all significant Soviet population centers would be assured.
By threatening the Soviet ability to retaliate against a US attack, D-5’s provoke the USSR to adopt a policy of launch-on-warning (at best) or of preemptive first strike (at worst). If US war plans (contained in the Single Integrated Operational Plan, or SIOP) were in fact based on deterrence, the D-5 would be worse than useless. The priority put on its deployment is part of the priority put in the SIOP on a US first strike. “If there is a nuclear war, the United States will be the one to start it,” an Air Force strategist who has worked on the SIOP told me.” < ref. 8, p. 107>
Many military workers say they build, maintain, and operate nuclear (and other) weapons “so that they will never be used”. Such rationalizations do not apply to inherently offensive weapons like the D-5 missiles built by Lockheed at Moffett Park. They are built to be used, and they are useful only in a US first strike. Those who work to build them — whether they like it or not, whether they choose their jobs or not — are working not to defend the USA but to “conquer” the USSR with a preemptive US nuclear attack.
Because the Trident submarines and missiles are among the most destabilizing weapons systems ever deployed, they are opposed by people throughout the world who struggle for survival. Those who work against the construction of Trident II missiles at Moffett Park join those who have been working against the Trident shipyard in Groton, CT, since the first US nuclear submarines were built there in the late 1950’s; those who work against the Trident component and missile-tube factory at Quonset Point, RI; those who have been working against the Trident bases at Bangor, WA, and King’s Bay, GA, since those sites were chosen; those who have blocked the “White Train” that carries nuclear warheads to those bases from Amarillo, TX; those who work against the purchase of Tridents by the UK and their deployment at a base in Scotland; and those who have tried to disarm Trident subs, missiles, and missile tubes, to “beat swords into plowshares”.
THE BLUE CUBE
In one corner of Moffett Park, surrounded by satellite antennae, is a square, five-story building known as the “Blue Cube”. The Blue Cube controls, maintains in orbit, and processes data received from military spy satellites; it is the operations center of the National Reconnaissance Office. < ref. 1, p. 263>
According to Daniel F. Ford, former excutive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Blue Cube is “the Air Force’s main satellite ground control center…. It would be one of the likely targets for Soviet attack, or sabotage, in the opening phase of a nuclear war.
Unclassified Pentagon testimony before Congress in March 1983 mentioned the exact site of that ground station when it referred to US strategic connectivity as ‘dependent on the single satellite control facility (SCF) located at Sunnyvale, California.’ (The facility is euphemistically designated the ‘Satellite Test Center.’)… In some cases, a high level of redundancy is built into the strategic command system, with a large number of backup facilities and alternate means for carrying out critical tasks…. The Sunnyvale facility is one of the obvious weak links….
“The Consolidated Space Operations Center now being constructed near Colorada Springs… will be a backup to the vulnerable Satellite Control Facility in Sunnyvale, CA. Its role as a backup is…
questioned…. Something surely needs to be done to avoid the catastrophic effects of a Soviet attack, or an earthquake, that could disable the main control center for US military satellites. Colorado Springs, though, is just as easy a target as Sunnyvale, and having two vulnerable facilities instead of one does not greatly increase protection against Soviet dismemberment of the satellite control system….
“The apparent ‘defects’ in US retaliatory capability, in this context, are a by-product of the military’s unstated reliance on the major first-strike option it has always included in the SIOP…. Shoddy arrangements have been tolerated, Desmond Ball [head of the Strategic and Defense Studies Centre of the Australian National University] said, because ‘down inside, they don’t really believe that this stuff’s going to be of any use’ in the type of war the US would end up fighting. The Strategic Air Command simply does not plan to be in a retaliatory mode, and if US leaders want to push the button first, they do not need to use… such devices…. The military has no interest in limited options and prefers, if it has to fight, to launch a major first strike.” < ref. 8, pp. 64-65, 234-235> The Blue Cube’s ostensible raison d’etre is to give early warning of a nuclear attack on the US and to target a retaliatory attack (based on which Soviet missiles had already been launched, etc.). It could not possibly do either. Its function, location, and vulnerability (above ground, thin-walled, unshielded against blast, radiation, or electromagnetic pulse (EMP)) are as well known to the USSR as to US war planners. Both know that the first explosion of a nuclear attack on the US would probably be a submarine-launched airburst over Sunnyvale. The EMP from such an explosion would instantly destroy all semiconductor circuitry in the Blue Cube (and for hundreds of miles around), blinding all US satellites before any land-based missiles were launched. < timeline, ref. 51> The Blue Cube is Ground Zero.
(Although there are perhaps half a dozen critical points for a first strike against US command control, communications, and intelligence (C3I), most are either “hardened” or inland where it would be harder and take longer for submarine-launched missiles to reach them undetected.)
Although there has been much talk of Soviet “satellite-killing” experiments, there would be no need to destroy the satellites themselves. Even if raw data from satellite sensors could somehow be received elsewhere, no sense could be made of it without the Blue Cube’s computers. The National Reconnnaissance Office is a branch of the National Security Agency, and the NSA is acknowledged to have “the largest and most advanced computers available to any bureaucracy in the world” < ref. 4, p. 60> . The computational requirements for real-time analysis of signals from satellites continuously transmitting images of the earth’s surface with a resolution of 10 cm < ref. 9, p. 40> are vast. Most NRO attempts to decentralize its data processing have failed. < ref. 8, p. 71> , and Star Wars systems will require even larger and more centralized “battle-management” computers < ref. 10> .
The Blue Cube won’t exist once World War III begins, and it won’t help the US retaliate. “‘It is inconceivable to me that if the Russians were going to start a war, they’d not start by knocking out the early warning sites,’ one of the Pentagon’s leading experts on command-system design told me. ‘If I were going to do it, that’s how I’d do it,’ a NORAD general said.” < ref. 8, p. 67> (One implication of the vulnerability of communications is that for the US to be able to retaliate — as it says it will — it must already have delegated authority to use nuclear weapons to battlefield commanders who it knows will be isolated by the first strike.
“According to… Raymond Tate — a former Deputy Director of the NSA — ‘…The codes and devices are set up to allow that.'” < ref. 8, p.143> There are many US fingers on many buttons.) The real role of the Blue Cube — and NRO satellites — is to identify and locate the targets of a disabling US first strike on the USSR.
“As a member of one of the [Department of Defense] connectivity review groups noted, ‘Official policy suggests we’re moving toward long-range war fighting. But in reality we’re moving toward first strike.'”
< ref. 8, p. 130>
This strategy is reflected in the characteristics of many of the NRO satellites currently operated by the Blue Cube. They are intended for targeting and surveillance; their few defensive and warning capabilities are largely incidental.
KH-11 (“Keyhole”) satellites transmit live photos, but they pass over the Soviet Union only intermittently; an attack could be launched while they were on the other side of the Earth (or obscured by clouds). Their high-resolution photos are, however, essential for the US to aim a first strike accurately and with confidence that it hasn’t overlooked any sites from which the Soviets could retaliate. When a KH-11 was reported to have exploded on launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, 18 April 1986, it was considered a setback to US “strategic interests”. Possible delay in US ability to target a first strike was considered more significant than the KH-11’s cost (half a billion dollars or more).
Lockheed 467 satellites also provide only intermittent coverage, and are in any case intended for signals intelligence (SIGINT) intercepting communications — rather than photography. Since most Soviet strategic communications are carried by land lines rather than radio, a Soviet attack might not be preceded or accompanied by any unusual broadcasts detectable by SIGINT satellites, even the “Rhyolite” which hovers continually over the USSR or the “Aquacades” which are to replace it when either Titan 34D or space shuttle launches resume.
The satellites most likely to warn of Soviet missile launches are those of the Defense Support Program (DSP) which use infrared telescopes to detect the heat of the rocket flames. “Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into development of new early warning satellites, and almost three billion dollars will will be spent to deploy them as replacements for the three DSP satellites now in orbit…. Advanced DSP satellites… are scheduled to be deployed over the next few years using the manned space shuttle. The launching of intelligence satellites has been slated as one of the shuttle’s primary missions…
“The new early warning satellites… will have more sophisticated sensors…. The new models will not scan the Soviet missile fields a few times per minute but will stare uninterruptedly at each Soviet missile silo. Current satellites can identify the general area from which missiles are launched, but not the individual silos. For warning purposes, this makes little difference. All that counts is that the Soviet launches be quickly detected.
However, in the new offensive Pentagon nuclear strategy, the more refined data from the advanced DSP satellites plays a key role.” < ref. 8, pp. 201, 202>
Knowing exact launch sites is the first step toward knowing exact missile trajectories and aiming Star Wars anti-ballistic-missile (ABM) weapons. This new ability of Advanced DSP satellites will be especially useful in focusing a limited Star Wars ABM system on the “ragged retaliation” from only a few silos following a US first strike. Most other parts of an ABM system are in the early stages of research. ADSP satellites will be the first operational components of a Star Wars ABM system, and in controlling them the Blue Cube will be the first operational Star Wars facility.
WHO RUNS THE BLUE CUBE?
Although the Blue Cube is officially the “Sunnyvale Air Force Station”
and its costs “are secretly hidden in the classified budget for the Air Force, which serves as a cover for the NRO”, its real owner is the National Security Agency. “Once the satellite achieves orbit, responsibility for both the operation of the ground collection stations and their costs is assumed by the NSA, although actual control of the spacecraft is retained by the NRO through its operations center in Sunnyvale.” < ref. 1, p. 263> The National Security Agency is “the nation’s largest intelligence agency” < ref. 14, p. 29> . It has about 50,000 direct employees; a similar number of military employees are assigned to NSA listening posts. Its budget is several billion dollars a year, ten times larger than that of the CIA and over 90% of the total US budget for spying. < ref. 1, p. 17>
The National Reconnaissance Office, whose operations are centered at the Blue Cube, runs the US spy satellite program. The NRO pioneered the militarization of space and has probably received more Star Wars funding than any other organization. The space shuttle was designed specifically to launch NRO satellites, and NASA “is in fact a minor user and not the driver” of the space shuttle. < Hans Mark, quoted in ref. 6, p. 10> NRO requirements have dominated NASA research since former NSA director and Air Force General Lew Allen, Jr., was put in charge of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. < ref. 6, p. 8> Even before Star Wars the NRO had a budget several times larger than the NSA. Including the NRO and civilian contractors (such as those who build the satellites) the Director of the NSA probably controls several hundred thousand people and several tens of billions of dollars a year. < ref. 3, p. 124>
Details are hard to come by. The NSA is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act; all information concerning the NSA, its budget, or its employees is classified (the majority of all US classified material is produced and destroyed within the NSA); and the NSA actively suppresses public information about itself (after the only book about the NSA was published, NSA agents removed the sources it refered to from the shelves of public libraries, classified them, and locked them in safes). “Similar to the NSA during the early 1950’s, the NRO is considered a ‘black’ agency, one whose very existence is denied by the government.” < ref. 1, p. 243>
The scope of NSA spying is both vast and threatening. “No law has ever been enacted preventing the NSA from engaging in any activity.
There are only laws to prevent the release of any information about the Agency.” < ref. 1, pp. 18-19> “With unknown billions of Federal dollars, the agency purchases the most sophisticated communications and computer equipment in the world…. Every day, in almost every area,… systems and procedures are being adopted… that make it easier for the NSA to dominate American society should it ever decide such action is necessary.” < ref. 4, p. 67>
The “cloak and dagger” spying of the CIA has been largely replaced by the NSA’s electronic intelligence gathering (freeing CIA agents for plainclothes war). A former employee of both the NSA and the CIA described the CIA as “morally principled” in comparison to the NSA, and said the greatest threat to freedom in the US was the increasing use by the FBI and other domestic police of technology developed by the NSA for use abroad.
The NSA’s attitude toward the public is that of Big Brother. It is even more desperate to prevent anyone else from keeping secrets than to keep its own secrets. When IBM researchers developed a computer code the NSA didn’t think it could break, the agency intervened to prevent it from being adopted as a national standard. < ref. 7, pp.
424-427; ref. 1, pp. 433-440> A 1984 Reagan directive gave the NSA responsibility for security of all “private computer systems processing ‘unclassified but sensitive information that could adversely affect national security.'” The NSA is now using this authority to expand its eavesdropping power: “The new algorithms will be buried in computer chips manufactured to NSA specifications and encapsulated so that any effort to read the code… would destroy the chip. ‘I don’t think that the people using the code would even know the algorithm,’ said Edward Zeitler, manager of information systems security at the Security Pacific National Bank in California. ‘We probably couldn’t break our own codes.’… ‘It will give the NSA much freer access to data then the agency has today,’ said Robert H.
Courtney, a former data security specialist at IBM who now runs a private security consulting service. ‘You could interpret it as an effort to increase security, or you could interpret it as a power play.'” < ref. 14, pp. 29, 32>
The NSA is only supposed to spy on foreigners. But it has always spied on US citizens, and its right to do so has been upheld by the Federal courts. < ref. 4, p. 60> . NSA headquarters has a major receive-only node in the US phone system: phone company computers can route calls to the NSA without the need to install any “bugs” or hardware. < ref. 1, p. 228-230> NSA research currently focuses on automated voice transcription systems to search these calls (as it already searchs all telegrams, telexes, and computer messages) for key words or phrases, eliminating the need for human monitors. “Because of the towering barrier of secrecy that surrounds the NSA, determining whether the agency actually has developed such an ability simply is not possible. But from the experiments we know have been conducted by AT&T and other groups, it is not unreasonable to assume that the NSA has such equipment to monitor some telephone calls.” < ref. 3, p. 254> If they don’t yet, they will soon.
In 1983 NSA agents (possibly including some in the Blue Cube) listened silently as the USSR shot down a Korean airliner (which may itself have been on an NSA mission) < ref. 5> . When President Reagan denied that the NSA could have warned the pilot, two former NSA workers accused him of “a major efort… to bewilder the public concerning the capabilities of… the NSA…. We believe that the entire sweep of events… was meticulously monitored and analyzed instantaneously by US intelliogence…. We find the inference made by President reagan…
to be unbelievable and contrary to NSA policy.” < Tom Bernard and T. Edward Eskelson, quoted in ref. 5, pp. 43, 111, 130-131> After the April 1986 bombing of Libya, Reagan claimed to know of “direct orders of the Libyan regime. On March 25,… orders were sent from Tripoli from to the Libyan People’s Bureau in East Berlin… On April 4, the People’s Bureau alerted Tripoli that the attack would be carried out the following morning. The next day they reported back to Tripoli…. Our evidence is direct [and] precise.” < “Transcript of Address By Reagan on Libya”, ref. 13, p. 7> As the New York Times reported, “The Administration has not divulged how it came into possession of this information. But the US extensively monitors radio transmissions and telephone calls to Libya and has the capability to break codes.” < Bernard Gwertzman, “US Says Libyans Around World Are Plotting to Attack Americans”, ref. 13, p. 6>
The NSA has always spied on foreign embassies, and its headquarters is “ideally located” to intercept microwave transmissions between other countries embassies in Washington and their consulates and UN missions in New York. < ref. 1, p. 229; see also pp. 461-467> But it would cause a diplomatic crisis for Reagan to admit that the US routinely violates the supposed sanctity of privileged diplomatic communications. Such an admission would be comparable to an admission that the US breaks into and copies the contents of sealed diplomatic pouches.
As usual, the government is more interested in keeping such activities officially classified “secret” than in actually keeping them secret from the public. The power to define what is and is not known (and thus what can and cannot be talked about), is central to the government’s ability to control both the media and public debate.
This tactic succeeded for a surprisingly long time in suppressing discussion of the “covert” war on Nicaragua. Its ultimate expression is the “black” programs which cannot be questioned because the government does not admit they exist, and the largest of these is the NRO. < For more on “secrecy” as thought control see ref. 12, especially p. 139>
Reagan’s allegations are dubious and unsubstantiated. He may simply be lying, and his “evidence” may be nonexistent, fabricated, or distorted. But the most favorable (to Reagan) interpretation of his statement is that the NSA has once again allowed hundreds of people to be killed or wounded rather than risk exposing itself and its activities by sounding a warning!
This is the NSA’s record: a record of compulsive secrecy, calculated irresponsibility, and callous disregard for human life. Based on this record we are supposed to trust the NSA — acting in complete secrecy, completely without accountability — to operate both our existing system for early warning of nuclear war and any future Star Wars system for “nuclear defense”.
I do not trust them (nor should you) and I will not entrust my life to them. If we are to live, we must take life in our own hands (as millions of us have done by resisting draft registration and preventing the draft). If we are to gain power, we must empower ourselves. If there is to be disarmament, we must disarm the governments.
They won’t listen to reason,
They won’t be bound by votes,
The governments must be stopped from launching World War III, No matter what it takes!
SOURCES ON THE NSA/NRO/BLUE CUBE AND LOCKHEED D-5
< 1> James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America’s Most Secret Agency (Houghton Mifflin, 1982; revised and expanded ed., Penguin Books, 1983)
< 2> Paul Bracken, The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces (Yale University Press, 1983)
< 3> David Burnham, The Rise of the Computer State (Random House, 1984) < 4> David Burnham, “The Silent Power of the N.S.A.”, The New York Times Magazine, 27 March 1983
< 5> Oliver Clubb, KAL Flight 007: The Hidden Story (Permanent Press, 1985)
< 6> D. S. Crafts, “NASA’s Military Payload”, East Bay Express, 4 April 1986
< 7> Katharine Davis Fishman, The Computer Establishment (Harper & Row, 1981)
< 8> Daniel Ford, The Button: The Pentagon’s Command and Control System — Does It Work? (Simon and Schuster, 1985)
< 9> David Hafemeister, Joseph J. Romm, and Kosta Tsipis, “The Verification of Compliance With Arms-Control Agreements”, Scientific American, March 1985
< 10> Herbert Lin, “The Development of Software for Ballistic-Missile Defense”, Scientific American, December 1985
< 11> Robert Lindsey, The Falcon and the Snowman < 12> Howard Morland, The Secret That Exploded (Random House, 1981) < 13> The New York Times, 15 April 1986
< 14> David E. Sanger, “Computer Code Shift Expected”, The New York Times, 15 April 1986
< 15> John Steinbruner, “Launch Under Attack”, Scientific American, January 1984
SOURCES ON SOVIET “STAR WARS” AND “BLACK” PROGRAMS < 16> Zhores A. Medvedev, Nuclear Disaster in the Urals (W.W. Norton, 1979; revised and expanded ed., Random House, 1980) < 17> James E. Oberg, Red Star in Orbit (Random House, 1981) PREVIOUS REVOLUTIONARY WORKER ARTICLES ON STAR WARS AND FIRST STRIKE < 18> Clark Kissinger, “The Compulsion for Mass Murder — First Strike and the Military Realities of Nuclear War”, Part I, Revolutionary Worker #294, 22 February 1985; Part II, Revolutionary Worker #295, 1 March 1985
< 19> Clark Kissinger, “High Tech Armageddon: Star Wars and the US First-Strike Strategy”, Part I, Revolutionary Worker #350, 7 April 1986; Part II, Revolutionary Worker #351, 14 April 1986 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Edward Hasbrouck (415-824-8562) participated in the No Business As Usual focus on Star Wars in Sunnyvale and Stanford, CA. He an anarcho-pacifist and an editor of the draft resistance newspaper Resistance News. He is proud of his convictions, which include refusing to register for the draft, hugging, trespassing, and posting handbills without permission.