Canada: A World Leader in the Militarisation
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 leading force in the militarisation of space.
The best example of this is RADARSAT, the
world's most advanced "synthetic aperture radar" (SAR)
satellite system. Although RADARSAT is commercial, it is probably
Canada's single-most important technological contribution to U.S.
war efforts. (Read
more: "RADARSAT: From Spin to Secrecy" and
"Meet 'the RADARSAT Family of Satellites.'")
A history of peaceful pretenses
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Canadian politicians and the corporations behind RADARSAT have proudly extolled its benefits to humanity and the environment. They explain that since its 1995 launch, RADARSAT-1's SAR sensors have used microwaves to produce earth images, even when the planet is obscured by the cover of darkness, clouds, dust storms or the most adverse weather conditions.
When the Conservative government of Prime
Minister Brian Mulroney announced the RADARSAT project 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, CSA officials repeated the
same refrain, saying 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 concealed the fact that its data has been a tremendous boon to foreign militaries and intelligence organisations. Most significantly, the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and various 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
For more than 10 years now, in exchange for NASA's launch of RADARSAT-1, the U.S. government has controlled 15% of its observation time and gets complete access to all archived RADARSAT after 6 months. Despite this, 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
A "family" of at least five portable U.S. military ground stations, called "Eagle Vision," was 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 controls RADARSAT operations, and downlinks its 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 been understandably grateful for their use of RADARSAT-1 data during Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations in their wars 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. In the case of Iraq, an Eagle Vision ground station was deployed to the Persian Gulf in early 2003 and has been used throughout that war. A Pentagon source told Space News: "It's doing great things... It's working like gangbusters" (March 31, 2003). ). Within weeks of the war's outbreak, NIMA received delivery of RADARSAT data covering 50% of the entire earth's surface, reputedly for "a variety of logistical and planning purposes." (MacDonald Dettwiler & Assoc., April 23, 2003).
Canadian taxpayers subsidising U.S.-led wars
Many Canadians would be dismayed if they knew their taxes have subsidised advanced satellite technology for use in U.S. wars. The design and production of both RADARSAT-1 and -2 have cost Canadian taxpayers 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 covered by Canadian taxes. (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 idea was to privatise RADARSAT and the Liberal government was quick to begin this process. The marketing and sales of RADARSAT data was given to MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) of Vancouver. MDA was, at that time, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orbital Sciences, a U.S. firm that is a top global producer of military rockets, including "missile-defense" weapons systems. RADARSAT-2's privatisation has been much 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 began hiring a coterie of retired U.S. military and intelligence officers, including several whose high-level, Air Force careers were spent championing "missile defense." (Read more: "Meet the Staff at ORBIMAGE.")
The David Emerson connection
In 2000, when MDA was still controlled by 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 the Liberal's pro-"missile defense" Minister of Industry, and is now the Conservative's Minister of International Trade. (Read more: "Meet David Emerson.")
The privatisation contracts are secret
Despite efforts by the NDP and BQ, the contracts between the Canadian government and MDA--which formalised the privatisation of RADARSAT-1 and -2--have not been made available for viewing by MPs. Liberal and Conservative MPs voted together against a resolution asking if MPs could examine these privatisation contracts. (Read more: "The Contracts that Privatised RADARSAT are Secret.")
Secret Annex of Canada-US Treaty on RADARSAT-2
Secrecy also shrouds a Canada-U.S. treaty signed in 2000 by then-Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Michael Byers, a UBC Professor teaching Global Politics and International Law, told Parliament's Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee that the treaty's 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] for a war that was illegal under international law" (February 22, 2005).
Even so, the government refused to let MPs read the Canada-U.S. treaty's annex. Although Canadian lawmakers were not permitted to see what this secret annex obliges Canada to do with RADARSAT-2 data, a combined Liberal-Conservative effort ensured that the "The RADARSAT Bill" (C-25) was passed into law. (Read more: "Canada-U.S. Treaties: RADARSAT and Military Exports" and "The RADARSAT Laws Secret Annex.")
GMTI: The "Holy Grail" of Space-Based Radar
U.S. and NATO warfighters are looking forward to taking advantage of RADARSAT-2 data after its long-awaited launch in December 2006. The most coveted military application of this space-based radar system is its Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) capability. It will be the first satellite ever launched with this cutting-edge capacity to track and target moving, ground vehicles. 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 this agency of Canada's Department of National Defence, "under co-operation with BMDO's Joint National Test Facility." (America's BMDO, or Ballistic Missile Defence Organization, coordinated the this controversial weapons program between 1994 and 2002, and is now called the Missile Defense Agency.)
Planning U.S./NATO "first strikes" for "Theatre Missile Defense"
RADARSAT-2's GMTI is being groomed for use in gathering target data for first-strike U.S. and NATO attacks during "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 deployments in faraway warzones of the not-too-distant future. (Read more: "RADARSAT, Missile Defense and the Holy Grail" and "GMTI and Theater Missile Defense.")
Rendering RADARSAT unto NATO's CAESAR
NATO, and particularly U.S., warfighters have been preparing themselves--during various military exercises, war games and computer simulations over the past eight years--to use RADARSAT-2's 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 RADARSAT-2. Canada was the only country that rendered a space-based SAR/GMTI sensor unto CAESAR, because no other country has such revolutionary military technology.
CAESAR is dead, long live MAJIIC
Although CAESAR expired in 2005, its successor is an expanded and even more ambitious NATO-led pact called the Multi-sensor Aerospace-Ground Joint ISR Interoperability Coalition (MAJIIC). It integrates several new Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensor systems, besides SAR and GMTI, into the warfighters' toolkit. Canada's contribution has grown beyond being the only nation to provide a space-based radar platform (RADARSAT) and now includes providing a Tactical Uninhabitated Aerial Vehicle. In addition, a NATO technical report says Canada will likely play host to a MAJIIC "live-fly" exercise in Alberta this June. This likely refers to the annual "Maple Flag" war game that Canada has hosted at the Cold Lake Air Force Base for 40 years. 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 leading role in the race to further militarise space. To ensure that Canada maintains this position, a RADARSAT-3 is now in the works. Both MDA and the CSA have touted this follow-on project as "the most advanced space-borne land information and mapping mission ever conceived." As such, RADARSAT-3 will be even more useful than its predecessors in the ISR operations of upcoming U.S.-led wars.
policies: "Missile defense" and the Iraq War
Various Canadian government departments, agencies and crown corporations have worked hand-in-glove with military corporations to create, develop and deploy a wide variety of "missile defense" weapons systems. This long-standing complicity did not end with the government's "no" to joining "missile defense."
This hypocritical "no-means-yes" policy on "missile defense" followed the Canadian government's duplicitous non-involvement in the Iraq war. Canada has, in fact, been deeply engaged in that war from the very beginning. As then-U.S. Ambassador, Paul Cellucci, said in early 2003: "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.")
Watching the watchers; debunking their myths
Considering the rapid advances in ISR sensors and weapons technologies, it is crucial for those concerned about war, militarism, state terrorism and increasing human rights abuses--such as the U.S. government's unwarranted surveillance of the public--to ask that age-old question: "Who will watch the watchers?" (Read more: "Learning from Two Commandments of War: Know the Enemy and Take the High Ground.")
Exposing the truth about RADARSAT's part
in making Canada a leading collaborator in space militarisation
is part of the process of "watching the watchers." This
monitoring of the military-industrial complex, and its continually
re-elected political allies, is part of a larger struggle to debunk
the widely-held myth that Canada is a strong force for peace on
the global stage.
The article above 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.)
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)
Canadas Role in so called 'Missile Defense':
Part II, Sea-based, Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense
#56 (June 2005)
Canadas Role in so called "Missile Defense":
Part I, NORAD, Government Largesse and the ABCs of Corporate Complicity
#55 (December 2004)
Missile Defense: Trojan Horse for the Weaponization of Space
For more information, please refer to COAT's website.
To subscribe, renew or order hard copies of Press for Conversion!