IN THE WILDERNESS
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
Manning visited, the remains of a moose carcass dominated the
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
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
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
"...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
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
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
"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
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
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
"All we have is John Heckscher's comments that there'll be no more
magnetic disturbances than what occurs naturally," Wally said
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.
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
(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
"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
"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
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
"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
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.
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
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.
'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
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
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.
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.
"I think HAARP could be a disaster."
Phillip S. Callahan, Ph.D.