Friday, April 21, 2006

Canada: A World Leader in Militarising Space

Canada: A World Leader in the Militarisation of Space
The article below summarises a new report called "Canada's Role in the Militarisation of Space: RADARSAT, The Warfighters' Eye in the Sky and its links to Missile Defense." This 30,000-word publication, with more than 350 references, is the latest issue of Press for Conversion!, the magazine of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT). It is now available online. (Access it here.)

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Canada's Leading Role in the Militarisation of Space
By Richard Sanders, coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) and editor, Press for Conversion!

Few Canadians realise that their taxes have long been used to make this country a world leader in the militarisation of space.

RADARSAT: Canada's biggest cog in the U.S. war machine
The best example of this is RADARSAT, the world's most advanced "synthetic aperture radar" (SAR) satellite system. Although RADARSAT is a commericial satellite, it is probably Canada's single-most important technological contribution to U.S. military/intelligence institutions. (Read more: "RADARSAT: From Spin to Secrecy" and "Meet 'the RADARSAT Family of Satellites.'" )

A history of peaceful pretenses
The Canadian Space Agency, Canadian politicians and the corporations involved have proudly extolled the benefits to humanity and the environment of RADARSAT. They proudly explain that since its launch in 1995, RADARSAT-1's SAR sensors have been using microwaves to produce images of the earth, even when the planet is obscured by the cover of darkness, by clouds, dust storms or the most adverse weather conditions.

When the Conservative government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announced the RADARSAT project back in 1987, then-Science Minister Frank Oberle said "This technology is of no particular use to the military." Then, in 1995, when the satellite was launched under the tutelage of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Canadian Space Agency officials repeated the same refrain, saying that RADARSAT would not be used for military purposes. One CSA spokesperson, Mac Evans, tried to have it both ways saying: "We are fostering the use of space for peaceful purposes... That does not exclude military use." (Read more:
"Secret Military Eye in the Sky.")

A boon to warfighters and spies
RADARSAT's cheerleaders have been less than open about the fact that RADARSAT-1 data has also been of tremendous practical use to foreign armed forces and intelligence organisations. Most significantly, the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and various American spy agencies have been among the top users of this publicly-funded, but now privately-controlled Canadian satellite. ( Read more: "U.S. Warfighters get their Hands on RADARSAT Data.")

U.S. control of RADARSAT operations
However, for more than 10 years now, in exchange for NASA's launch of RADARSAT-1, the U.S. government has controlled of 15% of this satellite's observation time. The U.S. government was also given complete access to all archived RADARSAT data that is more than 6 months old. Despite this considerable control of, and access to RADARSAT and its data, U.S. military and intelligence agencies have also purchased many millions of dollars worth of additional RADARSAT time.

Eagle Vision: A U.S. military bridgehead to RADARSAT
And, what's more, a "family" of at least five portable U.S. military ground stations, called "Eagle Vision," was specifically designed to control the operations of RADARSAT-1 and -2. Eagle Vision is "a cornerstone of the [U.S.] military's commercial imagery exploitation" (SIGNAL Magazine, March 2001) in large part because it allows the U.S. military to directly control these Canadian satellites directly downlink their data to deployed soldiers engaged in battle. ( Read more: "Meet Eagle Vision: U.S. Military Bridgehead to RADARSAT.")

Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, and more...
U.S. warfighters have understandably been grateful for this use of RADARSAT-1 data during Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations in such wars as those waged in Yugoslavia (1999) and Afghanistan (2001-present). In 2001, a 3-D terrain map of Colombia--made using RADARSAT data--was sold to the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), a U.S. Department of Defense intelligence agency charged with providing maps to "support America's national security." And then there's the latest Iraq war. One of the Eagle Vision ground stations--that controls and downlinks RADARSAT data--was deployed to the Persian Gulf in early 2003 for use throughout the war against Iraq. A Pentagon source told Space News: "It's doing great things... It's working like gangbusters" ( March 31, 2003). Within weeks of the outbreak of war in Iraq, NIMA had received RADARSAT data covering 50% of the entire earth's surface, reputedly for "a variety of logistical and planning purposes." (MDA media release, April 23, 2003).

Canadian taxpayers subsidising U.S.-led wars
Many Canadian taxpayers might be surprised if not dismayed to learn that they have, in effect, been subsidising various U.S. wars by providing the American government with this advanced satellite technology. The design and production of RADARSAT-1 and -2 have cost Canadian governments about one BILLION dollars. About 90% of RADARSAT-1's $620-million pricetag was publicly funded, while about 83% of RADARSAT-2's $525-million cost was paid for by Canadian taxpayers. ( Read more: "The Growing Costs of RADARSAT-1 and -2.")

Privatising RADARSAT to firm owned by U.S. "missile defense" industry
From the start, the joint government/corporate idea was to privatise RADARSAT and the Liberal government was quick to begin this process. It handed over control of the data marketing and sales of RADARSAT to MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) of Vancouver. MDA was, at that time, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orbital Sciences, a U.S. company that is one of the world's top manufacturers of military rockets, and a top supplier for "missile-defense" weapons systems. The privatisation of RADARSAT-2 has been even more complete, with MDA taking over the ownership and control of this second, more-advanced Canadian satellite. ( Read more: "Selling Off the Rights to RADARSAT and its Data.")

Retired CIA and top military officers sell RADARSAT data to U.S. government
MDA sold the license to market and sell RADARSAT-1 and -2 data outside Canada, to a U.S. company called Orbimage. During the privatisation process, Orbimage and MDA were both owned by Orbital Sciences. In 1998, when Orbimage began selling RADARSAT data to U.S. government clients, it started hiring a coterie of retired U.S. military and intelligence officers, including several who had spent their high-level Air Force careers championing the cause of "missile defense" weapons development. ( Read more: "Meet the Staff at ORBIMAGE.")

The David Emerson connection
In 2000, when MDA was still controlled by Orbimage's parent company, Orbital Sciences, David Emerson was on the Canadian subsidiary's Board of Directors. Emerson had been a high-ranking Social Credit bureaucrat under BC Premier Bill Vanderzalm. Emerson later became Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin's pro-"missile defense" Minister of Industry, and is now the Conservative government's Minister of International Trade. ( Read more: "Meet David Emerson.")

The privatisation contracts are secret
Despite concerted efforts by the NDP and BQ, the contractual agreements between the government of Canada and MDA--which formalised the privatisation of RADARSAT-1 and -2--have not even been made available for cursory examination by MPs. In fact, Liberal and Conservative MPs voted together to prevent Parliamentarians from even asking to look at these privatisation contracts which had served to hand over Canada's publicly-funded satellites to MDA. (Read more: "The Contracts that Privatised RADARSAT are Secret.")

Canada-US Treaty on RADARSAT-2 has secret annex
Secrecy also shrouds an annex to a Canada-U.S. treaty that was signed in 2000 by then-Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Michael Byers, a UBC Professor who teaches Global Politics and International Law testified to Parliament's Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee that this secret annex "could enable the U.S. to demand RADARSAT-2 be used to take images in preparation for a military intervention to which Canada was opposed....[and] in preparation for a war that was illegal under international law" ( February 22, 2005).

Even so, the Canadian government still refused to make the text of this annex available for viewing by MPs. None-the-less, Canadian lawmakers were asked to pass this legislation, even though they were not permitted to read the obligations contained in the treaty's secret annex. Thanks to a combined Liberal-Conservative effort, Bill C-25 (the so-called "The RADARSAT Bill") was eventually passed into law by the last Parliament. ( Read more:
"Canada-U.S. Treaties: RADARSAT and Military Exports" and "The RADARSAT Law’s Secret Annex.")

GMTI: The "Holy Grail" of Space-Based Radar
U.S. and NATO warfighters, warplanners and weapons technicians are looking forward to taking advantage of RADARSAT-2 data after its long-awaited launch in December of 2006. The most coveted military application of this space-based radar system is known as its Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) capability. RADARSAT-2 will be the first satellite ever launched that has this cutting-edge capacity to track and target moving, ground targets. U.S. Air Force General Thomas Moorman, Jr., refered to GMTI as the "holy grail" for U.S. warfighters.

RADARSAT-2 "data exploitation" and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
According to the DRDC's annual report (1988-99), RADARSAT-2 "data exploitation" was developed by Defence Research & Development Canada (DRDC), an agency of Canada's Department of National Defence, "under co-operation with BMDO's Joint National Test Facility." (The BMDO was the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defence Organization. Now called the Missile Defense Agency, the BMDO oversaw America's entire "missile defense" weapons program between 1994 and 2002.)

Planning U.S. and NATO "first strikes" for "Theatre Missile Defense" missions
RADARSAT-2's GMTI is being groomed for use in gathering target data for first-strike U.S. and NATO attacks during future "Theatre Missile Defense" (TMD) engagements. TMD is the most important aspect of "missile defense." Its stated purpose is to protect troops, warships and their weapons systems during deployment in faraway battle zones in wars of the not-too-distant future. ( Read more: "RADARSAT, Missile Defense and the Holy Grail" and "GMTI and Theater Missile Defense.")

NATO, and particularly U.S., warfighters have been preparing themselves--during various military exercises, war games and computer simulations over the past six years or more--to use RADARSAT-2, and particularly its GMTI capabilities, in future wars. Beginning in 1999, Canada joined a NATO-led effort called the Coalition Aerial Surveillance and Reconnaissance (CAESAR) project. CAESAR's focus was to ensure the deep integration of air-based SAR/GMTI assets of three leading military states (the U.S., UK and France), with Canada's space-based SAR/GMTI satellite, RADARSAT-2. Canada was the only country that rendered a space-based SAR/GMTI sensor unto CAESAR, because no other country has this revolutionary military technology.

CAESAR is dead, long live MAJIIC
Although CAESAR has expired, its successor is an expanded and even more ambitious NATO-led pact called the Multi-sensor Aerospace-Ground Joint ISR Interoperability Coalition (MAJIIC). Its goal is to integrate several new Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensor systems, besides SAR and GMTI, into the warfighters' toolkit. Canada's contribution to MAJIIC has grown beyond being the only nation to provide a space-based radar platform (RADARSAT) and now includes the provision of a Tactical Uninhabitated Aerial Vehicle. And, in addition, a NATO technical report says Canada will likely play host to a MAJIIC "live-fly" exercise in Alberta this June. This probably refers to the "Maple Flag" war game that Canada has been hosting annually for 40 years at the Cold Lake Air Force Base. This year, it begins on May 14 (Mothers' Day) and continues until June 23. ( Read more: "From CAESAR to MAJIIC: How RADARSAT plugs Canada in to future NATO-led wars.")

One of the main functions of both CAESAR and MAJIIC has been to enhance the ability of the world's best-equipped warfighters to work together as one integrated team, using their nation's respective SAR/GMTI technologies. These preparations have included huge "live-fly" war games with incorporated computer simulations, practised warfighting scenarios with major "theatre missile defense" components. ( Read more:
"Clean Hunter 2001: RADARSAT in a TMD War Game" and "TMD: Coming to a Theatre of War Near You?")

What's next? RADARSAT-3
RADARSAT-1 and -2 have ensured Canada's leadership in the race to further militarise space. To ensure that Canada will maintain this leading role, a follow-on project is now in the works. RADARSAT-3, to be launched within the next few years, will be even more beneficial to domestic and foreign military/intelligence agencies than were either RADARSAT-1 or -2. It has been touted as "the most advanced space-borne land information and mapping mission ever conceived" by both MDA and the Canadian Space Agency.

Who will watch the watchers?
Besides providing detailed and copiously-footnoted information about RADARSAT, and its significance as a prime example of Canada's contribution to the militarisation of space, this issue of COAT's Press for Conversion! also gives a more philosophical overview of the age-old importance of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaisance (ISR) operations in wars. Considering the many rapid advances being made in the development of ISR sensors and weapons technologies, it has become even more crucial for those concerned about war, militarisation, state terrorism and increasing human rights abuses--such as unwarranted government surveillance of their own populations--to ask the age-old question: "Who will watch the watchers?" ( Read more: "Learning from Two Commandments of War: Know the Enemy and Take the High Ground.")

Canada's "no-means-yes" policies: Iraq and "missile defense"
The information and analysis presented in COAT's latest report, as well as several recent issues of Press for Conversion!, raise many doubts about the widely-held myth that Canada is a strong force for peace and justice on the global stage. For instance, the wealth of evidence presented in COAT's magazine over the past year, reveals that Canadian government departments, agencies and crown corporations have worked hand-in-glove with military-related corporations in the creation, development and deployment of a wide variety of "missile defense" weapons systems. This long-standing complicity did not end when the Canadian government "said no" to joining the "missile defense" weapons program. Canada's hypocritical "no-means-yes" policy on participation in "missile defense" is also reflected in the Canadian government's supposed non-involvement in the Iraq war. Canada has, in fact, been deeply engaged in that war from the beginning as then-U.S. Ambassador was happy to point out when he said: "Ironically, the Canadians indirectly provide more support for us in Iraq than most of those 46 countries that are fully supporting us." ( Read more: "The War in Iraq: Another Canadian “No-Means-Yes” Policy in Action.")


Press for Conversion! issues on "Missile Defense":
The four most recent issues of Press for Conversion! examine "missile defense"-related subjects. Of those, the three latest--released since the Canadian government's February 2005 statements that pretended non-involvement in "missile defense"--have exposed a wealth of evidence to expose ongoing Canadian government, corporate and military support for this controversial, U.S.-led weapons-development program.

See the Tables of Contents and read the articles online by clicking the links below:

#58 (March 2006)
Canada's Role in the Militarisation of Space:
RADARSAT, The Warfighters' Eye in the Sky and its links to Missile Defense

#57 (October 2005)
Canada’s Role in so called 'Missile Defense':
Part II, Sea-based, Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense

#56 (June 2005)
Canada’s Role in so called “Missile Defense”:
Part I, NORAD, Government Largesse and the ABC’s of Corporate Complicity

#55 (December 2004)
Missile Defense: Trojan Horse for the Weaponization of Space

For more information, please refer to COAT's website.

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