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Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2002 17:03:21 EST
Subject: WoMenwith Hill news update

Menwith Hill - Embrace The Base - 12th December 2002


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News update: December 2002

Thursday 12th December - Embrace the Base - 10 am - 4 pm: 3 pm banner link-up
Friday 13th December - Blockade the Base - non-violent direct action.

The protests are to remember and celebrate the empowerment and impact of the 30,000 women who demonstrated against USA's nuclear-armed Cruise Missiles at Greenham Common Dec 12th 1982

Now, with both the US and Britain threatening to go to war against Iraq, and to use nuclear weapons in such a war, women are coming together again to say -

'No war in our name - stop the war - close the base!'
Woman-to-woman-to-woman - please pass on the message!

Recent News - latest developments in Menwith Hill

During the past year 24 plans for expansion of infrastructure and upgrading of security systems have been submitted to Harrogate Planning Department. Not one of these plans has gone for consideration to the elected Council Planning Committee; the Chief Planning Officer, a Council employee, has decided them all.

It is evident that a large intake of US personnel is anticipated, who will be employed on the station's two main projects -

ECHELON - Menwith Hill is the largest base in the USA National Security Agency's global communications' interception network, commonly (but inaccurately) called ECHELON. The European Parliament (EP) criticised the British Government for condoning the NSA's use of Menwith Hill to spy on European interests. The EP accused the NSA of violating the European Convention on Human Rights. The US NSA is closing its base at Bad Aibling and transferring between 1,000 and 2,000 staff to Menwith Hill following the EP's similar criticism of Germany. The Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) part of ECHELON's interception system has a role to play in 'Star Wars'. The spy satellites can identify preparations prior to the launch of an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) aimed at the USA.

SBIRS - installations and equipment for research and development of the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) components of USA's 'Star Wars' National Missile Defence, were installed in 1999/2000. This system is expected to track a missile at launch and throughout its trajectory. It is supposed to signal the position of the ICBM to the 'shooter' interceptor missile. It does not work.

We have submitted objections to ALL the plans. We have argued that the plans are preparatory to the development of further 'Star Wars' Ops installations. They are unlawful; they are environmentally unacceptable; they increase the threat of 'terrorist' attack on the locality; they are dishonestly introduced in piecemeal instalments so that no individual development will justify a call for a Public Inquiry. We are calling for the 'package' to be viewed as a whole.

We have asked the Harrogate Borough Council to cease the pretence that it is conducting a democratic public consultation procedure. To each of our representations we have received the usual stereotyped format reply. Our arguments have not been addressed. (But they can't ignore us!)

The latest plan is for a 'PX FACILITY'. This means the 'Post Exchange Store'; a supermarket in which goods, on which there is no UK Value Added Tax, are sold to US personnel only. The plans reveal that this is a substantial supermarket, which includes a restaurant, car parks, goods delivery yard, etc. The plans even show internal fittings and fixtures and where the goods will be displayed.

This proposal, plus development of a new Contractors' Compound, extends significantly the built-up area of the base to the West. The PX will be built in the 'lost garden' and woods of Nessfield House (Grade 2 listed?) which the NSA demolished without seeking planning consent.

This 'PX Facility' and Contractors' Compound will be massively detrimental to the environment; thus we have called for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and an Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA) before the construction is permitted to proceed.

There NEVER has been either an EIA or an AIA at Menwith Hill. In practice it is out of control of any British local or national government authority. Alice Mahon MP is raising the issue with The Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon. We shall receive a considered reply from one of his Ministers - see how they'll wriggle out of this one!

The ongoing site surveying and the presence of excavators in this area of the base indicates that, yet again, construction is underway before the Harrogate Planning Department (or Geoff Hoon) has the opportunity to make observations and before EIA or AIA can be conducted. This doesn't even pretend to maintain an appearance of democracy!

Parliamentary Ombudsman Case

We are making complaint that the Ministry of Defence is guilty of misconduct because of its complicity with the US National Security Agency's operational malpractices at Menwith Hill.

We have exhausted every other avenue to make complaints. There is no official scrutiny of the NSA's operations, thus there is no responsible 'body' to which we can submit complaints and which has power to remedy them. It is not acceptable that we, as members of the public, should constantly have to bring the NSA's misdemeanours to the attention of the Defence Secretary.

The remedy we seek is the establishment of an oversight committee, which would ensure that the NSA complies with standards of acceptable practice and also complies with UK and EU Law. (Under the State Immunity Act 1978 the NSA at Menwith Hill 'is immune from the jurisdiction of the UK courts')

The NSA, if it could be forced to comply with UK Law, would thus be obliged to cease what it is doing at Menwith Hill and the base would close. (Sigh! If only...)

We expect to have the complaint ready for presentation in January 2003.

Security? What 'security'?

In June the British Government's Security and Intelligence Committee Report stated that there was a likelihood of 'terrorist' attack on US bases in Britain and as a consequence there would be 'collateral damage'. The euphemism means that people living in the area of a US Base will be killed.

The new security measures do not include any protection for the local people, nor are they anything like adequate to protect the base personnel.

The pathetic inadequacy was exposed by the ease with which an unathletic OAP could cut through the weld-mesh alarmed fence, within yards of the heavily policed Main Gate, on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Anne walked towards, but was foiled from entering, the US NSA HQ only by the unexpected emergence of two senior police officers, who recognised her. This attempt to deliver a letter and speak to NSA's Director of Installations about illegal and unauthorised Menwith Hill developments, revealed measures we resort to in order to 'exhaust every other avenue for complaint' for our case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

District Judge Anderson refused to believe this 'lawful excuse'; he decided that the fence cutting was an 'act of bravado and a publicity stunt'. Convicted. Bound over to keep the peace in sum of £300: costs £613: compensation to US Federal Government (who paid repair bill) £511.13. Appealed to Crown Court.

Don't need any cash to pay fines, 'cos I'm not paying. We wouldn't mind a little donation (big ones are always very acceptable, too!) 'cos we've got another camp van to join Doris. She's an old (no, a 'classic') ice-cream van, but now fitted out with little cooker, cupboards, beds, etc. She's wiccid, so we call her Sybil.

Anne xx

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