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Time to listen to Dwight

-Kate Bernier
Monday June 10, 2002

To the Editor: 


"The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex." -- Former U.S. General and Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address, 1961.  

Eisenhower's now-famous "Military-Industrial Complex" speech is relevant to two of the items due to resurface at the Berkeley City Council meeting Tuesday night: tritium, a form of ionizing radiation found at Lawrence Berkeley, and microwaves, or non-ionizing radiation that emanates from the new Public Safety Tower. 

Both are an integral part of the "complex" that Eisenhower warned us about. One of tritium's uses is to make nuclear bombs. Are the "scientific technological elite" serving the citizens of Berkeley in exposing them to tritium radiation (and to terrorists), or are they, wittingly or otherwise, bowing to the god of the "military-industrial complex"? Microwaves are also used in weapons research.  

Although the Macro Corporation reported no biohazards in its study of our 'Safety' Tower, the tower hadn't yet been turned on, and worldwide research findings contradict this assessment. The city paid $50,000 for this report, and now Macro wants another $43,000 to study 'field strengths.' Where did the $50,000 go? Why did our council, save two, vote to turn on the controversial (put up without city permits) tower? It would seem a crisis situation had been created--backup generators didn't work, right before a council vote--and the council fell for it. Are our older towers worn out, or were the dropped calls reported by the police, which justified turning on the new tower, really a result of radio frequency interference from Berkeley's many other microwave sources? Telecom and public service providers do share the same waveband, causing dead zones. Read: "Sounds of Silence: Cell Phone Towers Are a Police Radio Nightmare," in the March l5, 200l issue of Law Enforcement News. 

Sattelites offer a safer and more reliable alternative to the Tower. They are less affected by weather and large-scale disasters, like earthquakes. In theory there are no dropped calls. Unfortunately, microwaves from satellites as well as ground-based transmitters, through a process called PLHR, are potentially a threat to the earth's magnetosphere, which protects us from the sun (Parrot and Zaslavski: "Physical Mechanisms of Man-Made Influences on the Magnetosphere," Surveys in Geophysics l7: 67-l00, l996). 

Eisenhower counseled that "we must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."  

Let us, the citizens of Berkeley, become, once again, that "alert and knowledgeable citizenry." Voice your concerns about tritium and the tower (distance is no guarantee of immunity) to the mayor and your City Council representative. Call your congresspersons and ask them to support the Jeffords-Leahy Microwave Bill in Washington.  


-Kate Bernier