by Bruce Gagnon / GNAWNPS –
(December 12, 2003) — Fearing another public relations defeat like they got during the 1997 Cassini campaign, NASA has hired a public relations outfit to gather information from potential critics of their latest space nuclear project.
Project Prometheus, the nuclear rocket, is now being developed under the Bush Nuclear Systems Initiative that will spend $3 billion during the next five years to expand the launching of nuclear power into space.
I began organizing the Cancel Cassini Campaign in 1994 by writing articles, speaking to groups around the world, and expanding the numbers of interested contacts. By the time the 1997 launch came around and the media began paying attention to the issue, there was a tremendous grassroots movement in place to oppose the plutonium launch. Even the TV program 60 Minutes covered the issue with a story just a week before the lift-off.
This time NASA wants to be prepared. While Project Prometheus is just now in the development stage, NASA has retained The Keystone Center, based in Colorado, to gather information about potential critics so they can effectively combat any expected opposition.
The Keystone Center called the Global Network office this fall and wanted to send one of their representatives to our office in Maine to “interview” me about our concerns. It was clear from the conversation that the real intention of the visit was to find out what strategies we intended to employ to block the launch of the nuclear rocket. I didn’t want to have any part in helping NASA — they have lots of money and easy access to the corporate dominated media. Neither was I about to help The Keystone Center, which is being paid quite well with taxpayer dollars, I’m sure. I told them I was not interested in being “interviewed” and left it at that.
Just today in the mail, I received a letter from The Keystone Center once again asking me to submit to an interview. In the letter they say that they’d like to “converse with you about NASA’s Project Prometheus Nuclear Systems Program….. We are undertaking a round of meetings and structured interviews with some 25 people, many of whom are long-standing skeptics or critics of NASA. Our sole focus is to understand what public involvement strategies, above and beyond the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), might be appropriate for NASA as they begin to develop Project Prometheus.”
PR Firm Wants to ‘Interview’ Critics of NASA’s Atomic Rocket
So basically The Keystone Center is being paid big bucks by NASA to find out what “critics” are saying and/or planning around Project Prometheus so they can then advise NASA on the best way to sell the project to the public and blunt the critics. And they have the audacity to ask me to help them!
I know we should take this as a supreme compliment. NASA is worried about the work of the Global Network. They fear the public response to Bush’s plan to dramatically expand the launching of nuclear power into space. And so they should! But to ask us to help them create a plan to circumvent our very opposition is the height of arrogance.
What made it fun though was that a reporter from the New York Times also called. The Times is doing a story on Project Prometheus and wanted to know if we were going to oppose it. I told him that we were already organizing and he wanted to know why he had not seen anything in the media. I told him the reason was because the corporate media usually isn’t very interested in what we have to say. He then said that he doubted that NASA was very worried about our opposition and I said, “Hey let me read you this letter I just got from The Keystone Center.” After hearing the content, the reporter asked me to fax him the letter, which I gladly did.
Bush’s Costly New Space Boondoggle Will Be Nuclear
The New York Times called because Bush is expected very soon to make a big announcement about going back to the moon and Mars. The nuclear rocket will be a key component of this plan. At a time when we are facing massive budget deficits Bush is going to promote his “big idea” to spend $50 – $150 billion on this moon base mission.
It just goes to show that our work is being watched by the government and the corporate media. They know what we are doing and, as much as they like to make us think they ignore us, they don’t. They watch all of us like a hawk because they are worried to death that the public might catch onto what we have to say. If anything should tell us to keeping doing what we are doing, this is it.
So put this one into your mental file cabinet — NASA’s Project Prometheus, the nuclear rocket. Keep it close to your heart because it is going to be another hot issue down the road. How do I know that? Well, The Keystone Center told me so.
Bruce K. Gagnon is the Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space [PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011, (207) 729-0517 http://www.space4peace.org, firstname.lastname@example.org