Chapter Seven

The log home sits in a clearing in one of the small timber stands which carpet much of Alaska - the largely silent tracts of spruce called "the bush". The small house is within hailing distance of a two lane paved road. On the February day that Nick Begich and Jeane Manning visited, the remains of a moose carcass dominated the driveway.

Stepping around a snowmobile parked beside the house, the burly owner offered a warm handshake. Wally wore a National Rifle Association baseball cap, plaid flannel shirt over sweatpants, unzipped snow boots and a brief smile of welcome.

Up to this moment the two writers knew of him only as a man of diverse skills - from trucking to wildlife management - who spent up to $500 a month on phone bills to oppose HAARP.

Inside the family home, parkas and boots were shed in the kitchen, then the trio moved into a larger room. The wooden table that they settled around held a Mac computer with modem and printer. At the far end of the room, a large TV screen dominated a seating area that faced a wood burning furnace. Peeled pine logs supported the ceiling.

As he turned off the television, Wally commented on how life in the bush had changed in only twenty years. A satellite receiving dish in his backyard collected a world of communication channel signals out of the sky. He often tuned in news from an English speaking station out of Moscow, and regularly listened to radio broadcasts from Australia and New Zealand. Cabin bound months in the winter give bush dwellers time for short wave radio as well as reading, he noted. With all this and the Internet too, they could become better informed than some city dwellers. However, he did not find all the news reassuring.

He paced nervously on wool-stockinged feet and then suggested his guests climb into his four wheel drive truck for a drive to the HAARP site near Gakona. On the way they could ask him questions.

Wally recalled how he had stumbled into the HAARP controversy. Through forestry fire-fighting courses he had previously known one of the other protesters from the bush country, whom he referred to as Ed. Wally recognized the man's name under letters to the local newspaper, the Copper River Journal and to the Anchorage Daily News.

Of most concern to these local activists were HAARP documents that clearly stated the project was intended to find out how the ionosphere could be exploited for military purposes. It was not pure auroral research. They were also suspicious of the HAARP environmental impact statement that said there would be no impact on climate, the ozone layer or weather.

As Wally talked about his reluctance to get involved in the NO HAARP campaign. Jeane Manning remembered a 1994 letter from a Northern homesteader who ran a mail order business she carried the letter in her pocket with the intention of phoning the writer while in the North.

"...Most Alaskans are anti-environmentalist," Howard wrote. "It has something to do with the frontier mentality and the fact that almost all of our money comes from the oil industry and other mineral extraction."

He then zeroed in on HAARP.

"The E1S and various Department of the Air Force press releases have disingenuously pictured the project as a swell international research project where - in a really sappy detail - even local high school students would be free to use the facility to conduct science project research on the aurora borealis! Of course, the project is pure Star Wars, aimed at enhancing the ability to disrupt enemy communications by disturbing the ionosphere."

Two main groups opposed HAARP, he said - trappers, miners and others in the bush who rely on ham radio communications because they have no telephone service, and pilots.

"I'm sure the military planners, as do most Americans, considered Alaska to be empty enough that a trapper here or there or an unlucky bird would be of minor consequence, and were perhaps surprised by the volume of local opposition."67

Wally and Nick were chatting as the vehicle bucked along into a white landscape with occasional glimpses of black asphalt ahead. The discussion returned to HAARP. Because his background included computers and government contracts, Wally had looked into getting work with APTI, which held the contract to build HAARP at that time.


The effort to get the jobs went nowhere, but Wally had a look at the HAARP contract.

"I saw the site had to be 'open for inspection according to Intermediate Nuclear Defense Force Treaty or something. Saw a number of things in provisions of the contract... The way information was handled didn't add up. Everything had to go through (John) Heckscher (HAARP project manager) in Massachusetts; people here locally didn't know anything."

"The further we dug, after we had a look at the contract, we knew it was a secret project; there was hokey pokey going on that the government didn't want to disclose. There were provisions in the contract that tripped my bells. 'Contractors can't disclose if there's something injurious'...clauses like that."

Wally said he had then telephoned two men who publicly opposed HAARP. Clare Zickuhr, who was at the time still an accountant with ARCO in Anchorage, told Wally that for environmental reasons Clare wanted to see the site shut down. Ed agreed and added that as a ham operator he had concerns about whether the high power RF beaming would interfere with life-and-death situations in the bush.

67 The "guys in the bush" have been given pseudonyms in this book, at the suggestion of three of them who are concerned about keeping low profiles in their communities.

"Ed prodded me into doing computer searches on the Internet - go into the Library of Congress and different databases. As soon as I started looking stuff up, that was all she wrote. Eventually some of us formed a network."

Some of the people were concerned about possible military applications of a technology that could knock out the Internet or blackout the power grid. More close at hand, they figured, what goes up must come down, especially if the radiations bounce off the ionosphere. Wally worried when he heard talk of the HAARP technicians planning to install filters on the radio and satellite receiving dishes in and around every home in the vicinity. The filters would screen out incoming radio wave interference, he was told. He got together with an electronics whiz who lived on an even more remote homestead, to study the proposal for high power beaming.


Concerned about their families' health, they came to a conclusion.

"It's not innocuous."

Nor was the proposed violation of Earth's atmospheric electrical system, he said.

"You read about a tremendous heated plume rising, and raising part of the upper atmosphere with it, and that it could change weather conditions and that the actual effects can be intensified. Then (HAARP spokesmen) come back and say 'don't worry'."

He did worry - about his family on the ground receiving reflected radiation, and then about swans, ducks, geese and other frequent flyers that could be fried in the intense radio frequency beam above the project site. The ionospheric heater, as the HAARP antennae were called, would beam upward in a prime corridor for migrating waterfowl.

Another of the guys in the bush worried that migrating salmon might lose their way, as they use the geomagnetic field as part of their road map for returning to spawning grounds. The magnetically-sensitive material magnetite had been found in salmon, as it had in human brains. Therefore changes in the magnetic field would be confusing, he said.


A powerful ionospheric heater such as HAARP could create an artificial electromagnetic storm high above the earth.

"All we have is John Heckscher's comments that there'll be no more magnetic disturbances than what occurs naturally," Wally said skeptically.

The bush dwellers and their science advisors, on the other hand, contended that even naturally occurring disturbances, caused by solar storms, do disrupt living systems. A psychologist at the University of Alaska did a study trying to connect Alaska's high rate of suicides to disturbances from geomagnetic storms generated by the aurora borealis.68


And scientific articles about the sensitivities of living cells and nervous systems said it doesn't take strong magnetic fields to make a difference; fluctuations of very weak fields can dramatically affect the cellular level of life. Leaning against the passenger side window of the truck, Nick nodded agreement with the NO HAARP researcher. His years of research had uncovered studies that proved this point.


68 Vancouver Province newspaper, "Electric Impulse", Apr. 4, 1995

As his pickup truck swayed in the strong gusts of snow driving wind, Wally recalled the early days of their battle.

"We tried to find ways to bring it to the public's attention. But the newspapers just blocked the thing out; they didn't want to deal with it. We thought we had a good contact with (a large Alaskan newspaper), but the reporter told me the story was being quashed."

The loose network of activists tried to keep up their momentum despite the lack of publicity.

"We had our meetings by conference call. Seemed like every time we turned around we were bringing up new information...Joe knew a lot about this directed weapon stuff. Ed on the other hand knew the technical end very well. He performed all the calculations on his computer and his calculations didn't jive with the reports put out by Mitre Corporation."

Wally glanced over to see if his listeners were paying attention to this part of the story.

"Mitre Corporation does all the work for NSA (National Security Agency). They're NSA, owned, operated, signed sealed and delivered. Mitre corporation is the main defense communications contractor for the United States government. Another bell goes off. What are we talking about here? Satellite communications, ASAT (satellite) weapon or what?"

Members of the rural NO HAARP group researched different aspects of the puzzle, each taking a different slant. They never sat down together in the same room, but collaborated long distance. Wally met Clare Zickuhr once in Anchorage, and received copies of documents that Clare had dug out of the library. When Wally returned home to his computer, he filed "a whopping big request" for more information on HAARP.

"I thought it was going to Heckscher, but it was forwarded to Kirtland Air Force Base. When that happened, 1 remembered that Kirtland hosts the Air Force space command and it also stores atomic weapons. And they do the black (hidden budget) stuff for Los Alamos. It shocked the hell out of me that my request came back from Kirtland Air Force base. Then 1 knew this project probably has a lot of classified stuff."

Wally's brow creased in an anxious frown.

"You're gut checking yourself all along the way - 'am I damaging national security?' Ed and I a lot of times would kick this back and forth on the phone, always second guessing what we're doing."

Despite their desire to be patriotic, he said, it always came back to a gut feeling that they were correct in opposing HAARP. So they spared no expense. Wally estimated the few individuals spent between five and ten thousand dollars on photocopying and mailings of information packets.

"The last package we did, with Clare, went to a writer in New York who was from a national environmental news service. Said he could do a good job. I drove all the way into town and sent this stuff out to him FedEx. Yeah, its' a seven or eight hour round trip. How do you determine the cost of our time?"

As he casually steered through waves of snow drifting across the road, Wally recalled the meeting which he and Ed had in the city of Fairbanks with Paul Brodeur, the author of books such as The Zapping of America.

"He told us about a situation where a community put up a stand against a proposed project, but (their protest) never panned out. The people even got injunctions, but the Air Force never gave in. It was about a similar type of system, where it could be increased incrementally...He told us about the hazards involved in HAARP."

Wally abruptly steered off the road and onto a plowed driveway. The locked gate of a fence stopped the truck, and signs hung on the wire mesh warned that the three were looking at a,

"Controlled area. It is unlawful to enter this area without permission of the Installation Commander. Sec. 21 Internal Security Act of 1950 USC 797. While on this Installation all personnel and the property under their control are subject to search."

A black "No Trespassing" sign hung beside one of the warnings.

The trio jumped out of the truck to survey the site from which antennae would zap the upper reaches of the sky with more power than the human race had previously been able to throw. Beyond a line of spruce, a box like building, appearing to be about the size of an industrial warehouse or grain elevator, loomed between them and the gravel pad base for the antennae.


Manning remembered that Clare Zickuhr once came up with a melodramatic name for this innocuous appearing installation - the Monster in the Wilderness. She also recalled that a scientist from Princeton, New Jersey, Dr. Richard Williams of the David Samoff research laboratory, coined a simpler name for HAARP type ionospheric heaters - skybusters.


He said high energy experiments pose a danger to the upper atmosphere and could cause irreversible damage in a short time. Effects could spread around the globe.

 "What we do know," the physicist had added, "is that secrecy always lowers the standards of environmental accountability."

In the cautious manner of a scientist, Williams had taken his concerns to me journal Physics and Society instead of to the mass media. An equally polite reply printed in the next issue came from Caroline Herzenberg of Argonne National Laboratory who wrote as a private individual, in 1988 and again in April of 1994.


She warned that the advanced type of ionospheric heater could be used as a weapons system, and its use might violate the Environmental Modification Convention ratified by the United States in 1979. The atmosphere, ionosphere and near-Earth space are included in the convention. Herzenberg called on the physics community to closely critique the HAARP technology. The analysis hasn't been done.

Manning shot a photograph of Nick shivering in the February wind, but Wally did not want to be photographed. They joked half-heartedly about climbing over the fence and getting arrested. Clambering back into the cab of the pickup felt like a better idea.

On the drive back, Wally said he doubted if there would be the vaunted economic benefits to locals, from money spent by contractors who come in to complete the site.

"It's a short term deal - one summer, two summers and the construction jobs are out of here, We were sold a bill of goods; they said there would be u lot of spinoffs. Visiting scientists. But in the contract it states that this facility is built to be remotely operated. 'Remotely operated'? The only person that's going to make out here is the fuel oil dealer, from the millions of gallons of fuel that'll be burnt there. They sold us a lot of bullshit."

There were long silences on the ride back, as if all three were reflecting on how down to earth concerns of life in the Alaskan bush contrasted with the multi-gigawatt beam which will rise from that desolate site. The high energy beam could have global consequences, according to a few independent scientists.

As if sensing that his companions in the wind buffeted truck needed a hearty laugh, Nick told about a telephone call from a reporter for a major newspaper who had heard that Nick was researching HAARP.

"(The reporter) said he had talked to the people at E-Systems (the defense-contracting corporation that bought APTI), and they had heard there were rumors in Alaska about black helicopters and aliens and black cars harassing people... guys being beat up by men in black! I said 'You know, it's funny you would hear those rumors in Washington, D.C., when I've never heard any of that in Alaska.


And I live here.


'I laughed at him; I wasn't going to feed into that."

Nick shrugged off the memory of the reporter's attempts to elicit rural paranoia to quote.

"He was playing games, when I look back on it."

When the reporter's article was printed, the Alaskan researchers were outraged to see what the leading sentences said;

"The rumors are buzzing across the Internet that a Pentagon physics experiment on a wind whipped tract of U.S. Air Force land in Alaska has a secret purpose - digging up bodies of UFO Aliens. Another rumor has it that men in black suits...are jumping out of a black sedan to beat up Alaskan opponents of the project. Countering these odd speculations is all in a day's work for Ramy Shanny,.."69

Playing games. The phrase stuck in Manning's mind. Is that what defense contractors and the military public relations men are doing? The PR man tells a reporter that nah, we aren't going to do any ambitious tests on the upper atmosphere, Just some megawatt stuff. If the reporter digs a bit farther, however, he or she would find a paper from Penn State, for example, It shows a graph of the hierarchy of thresholds that increasing input of radio frequency (RF) power makes in the ionosphere. Heating comes first, then "parametric instabilities and stimulated electromagnetic radiation".


Pump in more RF power and you accelerate electrons until the air glows. The next threshold is "shock fronts and stimulated ionization". The Penn State experimenters proudly say they don't know what will happen when the new super powerful HAARP instrument drives the effects past a new threshold.


69 John Mintz, "Pentagon Fights Secret Scenario Speculation Over Alaska Antennas", Washington Post, Apr, 17, 1995, A3.


When the trio returned to Wally's home, his wife sat on the sofa with the weary look of a school teacher resting after a day in the classroom. Three teenagers came in and joined her in front of a TV newscast.

While Nick telephoned the local newspaper editor to ask for a photo of the HAARP site, Jeane asked Wally if the project was still controversial among local residents. He replied that many of his neighbors scattered through the Copper River Valley had attended public meetings earlier.

"They came forward one after another saying they were concerned. Then later (the HAARP organizers) came out and said they'd addressed all of the concerns, and started building the project. People still feel powerless."

They half listened to Nick's conversation. Apparently the local editor was quite impressed with what charming gentlemen the HAARP manager and his associates were.

Wally rummaged through books on the table and found one, written in 1993 by science journalist Bill Sweetman70, which one of the guys in the bush had passed on to him.


Wally pointed to a section about a strange how to lie manual, and read aloud:

"The U.S. Air Force's credibility is further undermined by the fact that the Department of Defense explicitly authorizes the dissemination of misleading information in order to protect classified programs. In a supplement to the National Industrial Security Program manual, released in draft form in March, 1992, the DoD told contractors how to draft cover stories that 'must be believable and cannot reveal any information regarding the true nature of the contract'."

Wally pointed out that the next paragraph contained a comment by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.

"Once we know that the DoD practices this type of deception, it becomes harder to discern what's for real and what is not."71

Snapping the book shut, Wally said he was already suspicious of certain individuals who leave messages on Internet files as if planting them for the gullible, and he distrusted Department of Defense public relations releases. Aftergood's comments only confirmed his gut feelings. What can a guy trust?

Outside the window, the wind hammered at the log walls. The farewells were brief.

70 Bill Sweetman. Aurora: The Pentagon's Secret Hypersonic Skyplane. Motor Books International, Wl 1993.

71 Ibid.

"I think HAARP could be a disaster."

Phillip S. Callahan, Ph.D.

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