9. The Pentagon’s Mysterious HAARP Project

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

Source: EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL, Date: Fall 1994, Title: “Project HAARP: The Military’s Plan to Alter the Ionosphere,” Authors: Clare Zickuhr and Gar Smith

SYNOPSIS: The Pentagon’s mys­terious HAARP project, now under construction at an isolated Air Force facility near Gakona, Alaska, marks the first step toward creating the world’s most powerful “ionos­pheric heater.” The High Frequency Active Aurora] Research Project (HAARP), a joint effort of the Air Force and the Navy, is the latest in a series of little-known Department of Defense (DOD) “active ionospheric experiments.”

Internal HAARP documents state: “From a DOD point of view, the most exciting and challenging” part of the experiment is “its poten­tial to control ionospheric processes” for military objectives. Scientists envision using the system’s powerful 2.8-10 megahertz (MHz) beam to burn “holes” in the ionosphere and “create an artificial lens” in the sky that could focus large bursts of elec­tromagnetic energy “to higher alti­tudes … than is presently possible.” The minimum area to be heated would be 31 miles in diameter.

The initial $26 million, 320 kw HAARP project will employ 360 72­foot-tall antennas spread over four acres to direct an intense beam of focused electromagnetic energy upwards to strike the ionosphere. The next stage of the project would expand HAARP’s power to 1.7 gigawatts (1.7 billion watts), making it the most powerful such transmitter on Earth.

For a project whose backers hail it as a major scientific feat, HAARP has remained extremely low-pro­file-almost unknown to most Alaskans, and the rest of the country. HAARP surfaced publicly in Alaska in the spring of 1993, when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began advising commercial pilots on how to avoid the large amount of inten­tional (and some unintentional) electromagnetic radiation that HAARP would generate. Despite protests of FAA engineers and Alaska bush pilots, the final Environmental Impact Statement gave HAARP the green light.

While a November 1993 “HAARP Fact Sheet” released to the public by the Office of Naval Research stressed only the civilian and scientific aspects of the project, an earlier, 1990, Air Force-Navy doc­ument, acquired by Earth Island . Journal, listed only military experi­ments for the HAARP project.

Scientists, environmentalists, and native people are concerned that HAARP’s electronic transmit­ters could harm people, endanger wildlife, and trigger unforeseen environmental impacts.

Inupiat tribal advisor Charles Etok Edwardsen, Jr., wrote President Clinton on behalf of the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and the Kasigluk Elders Conference expressing their concern with the prospect of altering the earth’s neu­tral atmospheric properties.

HAARP also may violate the 1977 Environmental Modification Convention (ratified by the U.S. in 1979), which bans “military or any other hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-lasting, or severe effects.”

HAARP project manager John Heckscher, a scientist at the Air Force’s Phillips Laboratory, has called concerns about the trans­mitter’s impact unfounded. “It’s not unreasonable to expect that something three times more pow­erful than anything that’s previously been built might have unforeseen effects,” Heckscher told Microwave News. “But that’s why we do envi­ronmental impact statements.”

COMMENTS: Co-author Gar Smith said that to his knowledge, “there has been absolutely no cov­erage of Project HAARP and its implications in the mainstream media. The only report that I am aware of was an exchange of letters in Physics and Society and an article in Microwave News. I had written an article on the Eastlund patents in Earth Island Journal in 1988, the same year that OMNI magazine ran an article on Eastlund’s work. As far as I know, there has been no cov­erage of this story in the environ­mental press. Given the nature of the proposed experiment and the covert-defense-related implications of the project, I believe that Project HAARP deserves a full and thor­ough public debate.”

Smith said the public should be aware of Project HAARP since, as taxpayers, they have already paid for the demonstration phase of the pro­ject and will be footing the bill for the costly, vastly expanded version of the ionospheric transmitter. “Perhaps of greater importance, is the possibility that HAARP may expose nearby human populations to health and safety hazards and­ given the planet-wide nature of an experiment that would interact with the Earth’s ionosphere and mag­netic fields-potential risks to the entire planet. I believe the public should be entitled to determine the real purposes of HAARP, the pos­sible risks, and the process by which this proposal was promoted.”

The limited amount of coverage given the issue tends to benefit the Navy and Air Force scientists who are involved in Project HAARP and would rather conduct their research without undue interference. Also, says Smith, Pentagon strategic planners are clearly interested in the “secret agenda” behind the public face of HAARP — i.e. “trig­gering ionospheric processes that potentially could be exploited for DOD purposes.” Smith added that the ARCO oil company and its sub­sidiaries are involved in the project to various degrees.

Gar Smith, co-author of the article and editor of Earth Island Journal, said that one of the biggest obstacles he had to overcome to get the article published was his own staff. “Both the assistant editor and managing editor insisted that the article should not be considered for publication because HAARP had ,no environmental impact’ and the article, by its nature, was `too jar­gony’ to be understood by the average reader. This served to demonstrate a critical problem that stymies environmental criticism: without `positive proof’ of a harmful impact, some people argue, it is irresponsible to specu­late on potential hazards. This, of course, is the technique that Rush Limbaugh uses so effectively to dis­miss claims of `global warming.’ “Non-experts are not supposed to ask questions concerning rar­efied scientific matters. As my managing editor put it, being con­cerned about the possible environ­mental impact of HAARP was tantamount to being concerned about the impacts of `farting into the wind.’ I consoled myself with the thought that, had more non-­experts asked more questions about CFC gases, we might still have an intact ozone shield.

“I was struck by the argument of HAARP’s scientists that heating the ionosphere and altering the region’s electron densities should not be a matter of concern because the energy released by HAARP was `insignificant’ when compared to the energy pouring into the magne­tosphere from the sun. This is another logical fallacy favored by Rush Limbaugh, who has argued that there is no reason to be alarmed by the release of man­made atmospheric gases because volcanoes release much larger vol­umes of similar vapors. This is something like advising jaywalking pedestrians that they needn’t worry about being hit by motorcycles because, compared to being run down by a Sherman tank, the con­sequences would be `insignificant.’

“When I attempted to obtain a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) from the regional EPA, I was told that I would have to go `to Seattle or Alaska to see it.’ Project HAARP officials were diffi­cult to locate. It required two hours and a dozen misdirected calls to establish contact. Several attempts were made to obtain the HIS from HAARP officials.

“The documents didn’t arrive until after the article deadline had passed. In order to complete the article, I haunted the local libraries to educate myself about the Earth’s geomagnetic fields, trolled a variety of scientific conferences on com­puter networks, and called a dozen scientists for comment.

“I was able to contact a number of correspondents in the U.S. (and one as far away as Australia) who were lay-experts in electromagnetic phenomenon. They provided useful commentary and suggestions.

“Lacking the FEIS, I was able to draw from my own clipping and document files and from an article on the PAVE PAWS radar that I had written for New West magazine many years ago. Library research suggested that the frequency and power range of the proposed HAARP transmitter would be com­parable to the PAVE PAWS radar. Using this information, I was able to extrapolate a number of poten­tial harmful effects that might be expected from the operation of the HAARP transmitter. When the HIS finally arrived, I was pleased to see that these issues were, in fact, cited as problems that were expected to accompany the activa­tion of Project HAARP

“I sent drafts of the developing article to scientists at the American Federation of Scientists, Union of Concerned Scientists, NOAH, and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. I also sent copies of the article to leading environmental writers, including Dr. Steven Schneider, David Suzuki and Paul and Anne Ehrlich. Everyone contacted has expressed concern about the project but pro­fessed ignorance about the nature of ionospheric experiments.

“A copy of the magazine reached the desk of Ryan Ross of the Washington, DC-based Environ­mental News Service. I have spoken with Ross and shared information. Ross hopes to produce an article based on the journal’s initial disclo­sures.

“At the same time copies of the articles were being sent to scientists for comment, I was engaged in a parallel campaign to get the atten­tion of members of Congress. Copies of the article were faxed to Washington and copies of the mag­azine were sent in the mail. The hope was that a public debate might take place before an expect­ed vote on full funding of the 1.7 billion-watt transmitter.

“Finally, in late November, I suc­ceeded in reaching Lee Halterman, Rep. Ron Dellums’ (D-CA) aide, at the House Armed Services Committee in Washington. After a flurry of faxes and a telephone con­versation, I received a faxed copy of a letter sent by Rep. Dellums to the Pentagon’s Deputy Under Secretary for Environmental Affairs request­ing a halt to the planned “test’ of the HAARP demonstration trans­mitter on December l.”

The planned “test” of HAARP did not occur on December 1, nor was it known when the test might take place; it seems that no money had been budgeted for the test.