In the spring of 1981, two years before President Reagan's Star Wars speech, New Solidarity reported that the President was "known to favor a space-based ABM system." The FEF promptly held a seminar in Washington on "anti-missile beam potentials" and other national-security implications of fusion energy. But the LaRouche campaign for beam weapons did not get into full swing until the following winter, when LaRouche supposedly received a message from a mysterious personage known only as "Mister Ed."
LaRouche had received dozens of messages of advice from Mister Ed since the mid-1970s, often in the form of "E to L" (Ed to LaRouche) memoranda. This time the message suggested that he launch a major push for beam weapons. LaRouche, believing that Mister Ed spoke for a faction of the Central Intelligence Agency, "accepted the assignment," according to a report LaRouche's attorneys filed in Boston federal court five years later.
In February 1982, LaRouche held a forum in Washington to propose a campaign for beam weapons. It would be a good counter to the nuclear freeze movement, he said. The next month he issued a research and development proposal followed in May by an FEF "white paper." In August the FEF circulated a report on Capitol Hill regarding a scheme for X-ray laser weapons favored by Dr. Edward Teller, the father of the H-bomb. The FEF held briefings for congressional aides to promote Teller's idea.
LaRouche's publications reported on the various high-level lobbying efforts for space weaponry—including the September 1982 White House meeting between Teller and President Reagan. New Solidarity printed the text of Teller's speech the following month at the National Press Club, and dubbed his proposal the "LaRouche-Teller initiative." The FEF's Dr. Bardwell embarked on a tour of college campuses to convince audiences to join "the higher peace movement."
LaRouche apparently was forewarned about Reagan's March 1983 speech. The previous month he had instructed his followers to intensify their campaign of petitions and lobbying and to make beam weapons "a household word in America . . . during the month of March." The day after Reagan's speech, LaRouche hailed it as probably the most important action "by any President in twenty years," adding that "true greatness . . . touched President Ronald Reagan last night . . . a moment of greatness never to be forgotten."
The media turned to the FEF to explain Reagan's proposal. The wire services, syndicated columnists, and The Washington Post all quoted FEF spokesmen. Meanwhile LaRouche began to assert that he was really SDI's "intellectual author." According to Dr. Ray Pollock, the National Security Council's director of defense programs at that time, LaRouche's followers "flooded Capitol Hill" with literature claiming this. Pollock said that although some White House officials were annoyed, no steps were taken to set the record straight.
The FEF was undeniably one of the best sources for up-to-date information on SDI in its early stages. An October 1983 FEF seminar in the U.S. Senate's Dirksen Office Building was packed with government officials and foreign diplomats to hear FEF scientists explain the latest developments. John Pike, associate director for space policy at the Federation of American Scientists, recalled that he first learned about Teller's Excalibur project from the LaRouchians. Pike said it was apparent that they had talked to "people with access to classified information." Beam Defense, a 1983 book by the FEF's staff, contained, Pike said, "one of the most comprehensive and detailed studies" publicly available on particle beams and X-ray lasers. It won a 1984 award from the Aviation/Space Writers Association.
The LaRouchians were reaping the rewards of their foresight and hard work. When they published their first article on beam weapons in 1975, warning about alleged Soviet breakthroughs, they attracted little notice. But they persisted, building their network of contacts among scientists.
One of their first targets was Teller. As late as 1976 they had described him as a Rockefeller agent and a plotter of genocide. But when Teller delivered a speech attacking the ecology movement and its zero-growth theories, the LaRouchians began praising him. LaRouche set his sights on a private meeting with Teller to explore the possibilities of an alliance. FEF staffers hoped that Dr. Stefan Possony, a Teller colleague at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, would arrange it. LaRouche dedicated his magnum opus, The Case of Walter Lippmann, to Possony and Teller as "the writer's former opponents who exhibited the integrity to modify their views on important questions." (They were not his only dedicatees; the list also included Fidel Castro, Helmut Schmidt, and the ghost of Benjamin Franklin.) But Possony, whose taste in rightist politics ran more along World Anti-Communist League lines, never delivered the goods, although he did address two FEF conferences before dropping away.
In a 1984 phone interview Teller called LaRouche "a poorly informed man with fantastic conceptions." Teller said he had chatted with FEF members on the phone from time to time, but had rejected all invitations to meet with LaRouche. He acknowledged he had made a mistake in not objecting when they began publishing articles suggesting he was working with them. "I was reluctant to criticize someone for agreeing with my ideas," he explained.
In 1983 the LaRouchians strongly urged Teller to reciprocate their support. He asked a close personal friend, Dr, Robert Budwine of Lawrence Livermore, to take the matter in hand. Budwine knew very little about the LaRouchians, but agreed to meet with them to take the pressure off Teller. He ended up traveling to Paris and Bangkok, at LaRouchian expense, to speak at beam weapons conferences sponsored by the LaRouche publication Executive Intelligence Review.
Budwine became deeply intrigued by the LaRouchians and was drawn for several months into the periphery of their cult life. Among other things, he attended the NCLC annual conference in January 1984 at LaRouche's Virginia mansion, where the baroque harpsichord background music struck him as "an attempt to re-create an eighteenth-century salon." He formed friendships with Uwe Parpart and other NCLC members, and spent several hours in private discussions with LaRouche on Indo-European root languages, Riemannian geometry, and other LaRouche hobbies.
Budwine's scientific training ultimately made him a poor target for recruitment. "They kept talking about this great method they have, but I kept asking: 'What kind of method is it that consistently gives you the wrong answers?' " He began to read up on cults and brainwashing, and came to the conclusion that "LaRouche is not a serious man, he's even less than that . . . LaRouche is crazy."
The LaRouchians continued to go to great lengths to entice Star Wars scientists. Roy Woodruff, former head of arms development at Livermore, recalls at least twenty phone calls from Chuck Stevens, a Fusion reporter and former nuclear engineering student. Again and again, Woodruff refused to speak with him, but Stevens persisted. "He sat at the West Gate and waited for me," Woodruff said. "I went out another gate to avoid him."
New Solidarity articles often praised Dr. Lowell Wood, chief of Livermore's "O Group," a top SDI research team. Wood said in 1984 that FEF representatives called him from time to time and that he also ran into them at scientific conferences. Asked if they had influenced the development of SDI, he was hesitant to deny it. He said they had boasted to him about meetings with top presidential aides and Pentagon officials. Although he never attempted to confirm these claims, he said that many administration officials had mentioned to him the "quality, speed, and accuracy" of LaRouche's intelligence operation.
Dr. John Nuckolls, Livermore's associate director for physics and the man to whom the O Group reported, received calls from the LaRouchians throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. Their attempts to "break the classification barrier," he said, made "interaction difficult." He couldn't decide if their promotional activities on behalf of fusion energy and SDI were "positive or negative." However, he thought it might "be useful to have someone at the grass roots—assuming they are at the grass roots." He said he didn't want to either attack or defend them. "We have a common interest," he said.
For Dr. Winston Bostick and Dr. Friedwardt Winterberg, physicists on the outer fringes of Star Wars, this common interest involved more than SDI. Bostick, former chairman of the Stevens Institute of Technology physics department, participated in beam weapons-related research at the Kirtland Air Force Base weapons laboratory from 1979 to 1983. He was also a leading figure in the FEF, speaking at its conferences, writing for Fusion, and serving on the editorial board of another FEF publication, the International Journal of Fusion Energy. In a 1984 telephone interview he said he supported LaRouche's attempts to promote "German military, scientific, cultural, and economic traditions."
Winterberg was a fusion specialist with the University of Nevada's Desert Research Institute. He volunteered ideas on beam weapons to the Air Force in the late 1970s, and later speculated on the subject for LaRouchian publications. In 1980 he described LaRouche as having the "most scientifically founded" program of any candidate for the U.S. presidency. The FEF published his Physical Principles of Thermonuclear Explosive Devices (1981) and also sent him on overseas speaking tours.
One of the most important government scientists contacted by the LaRouchians was Dr. Richard DeLauer, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering from 1981 to 1984. DeLauer, who first became aware of their activities in the late 1970s when he was executive vice president of TRW Inc., granted an interview to an Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) reporter in his Pentagon office in 1981. He fulminated on the weaknesses of American science, which he blamed on the "greening of America" and "gurus" who "took advantage of food stamps." Asked about his assessment of Soviet progress on space-based ABM systems, he said his views came in large part from reading EIR—"you guys are supposed to know more about it than anybody else."
In mid-1984, after being attacked by the LaRouchians for alleged foot dragging on SDI, DeLauer claimed that his statement about EIR's expertise had been mere sarcasm, an expression of his "exasperation" with the interviewer. "I have no use for that guy [LaRouche] and his opinions." he said. But he praised the FEF for its pronuclear stance: "In their support of nuclear power—in that sense—I support them." He had even donated money to the FEF as "the only active group that opposes Jane Fonda." Asked about a sexually demeaning anti-Fonda bumper sticker sold by the FEF, he chuckled and said: "I got another one [FEF slogan] for you: 'More people have been killed in the back seat of Ted Kennedy's car than in a nuclear accident.' "
A far more useful contact was the NSC's Dr. Pollock, one of the key policymakers behind Reagan's Star Wars speech. Pollock said the LaRouchians first contacted him while he was working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the late 1970s. He began to chat on the phone with Fusion reporter Stevens to find out the latest gossip about the fusion research community.
When Pollock moved to Washington to work at the Department of Energy, he sometimes lunched with Stevens. After his appointment to the National Security Council he continued the relationship, and during the months prior to the announcing of SDI he met on several occasions with high-level LaRouche aides such as Uwe Parpart. They urged on him a plan for a beam weapons "Manhattan Project." He found merit in their ideas on the potential economic spin-offs. They offered to pay his way to conferences overseas, but he declined.
Pollock met twice with LaRouche at the prodding of National Security Adviser William Clark's right-hand man, Richard Morris. Morris was present at the first meeting, as was Helga LaRouche. They discussed German politics, and Pollock found LaRouche to be a "frightening kind of fellow." Pollock's recollection of the second meeting is that LaRouche explained his conspiracy theory of history. LaRouche in a 1984 deposition said they also discussed the "economic implications" of SDI. Pollock says he put LaRouche's views into a one-page memo and sent it across the street to the White House.
In 1986, LaRouche wrote that his personal contribution to SDI had been to demonstrate that it was affordable. Obviously the United States could pay for a "first-generation" system. The problem lay in the costs of deploying second-, third-, and fourth-generation systems if the Soviets developed countermeasures. LaRouche claimed that he had proven, via his LaRouche-Riemann economic model, that the "spillover" of SDI technologies into the civilian economy would produce profits fully offsetting SDI's cost. He had thus proposed "a 'crash program' . . . as the best way to cause this 'spillover' to occur." In other words, LaRouche had proposed that the Reagan administration adopt one of the key points of his own Grand Design: pay-as-you-go total mobilization.
The LaRouche organization chiefly contributed to SDI by publicizing and organizing support for it in Western Europe. They held numerous conferences and seminars in Paris, Bonn, and Rome, attracting many high-level military officers. The first such events occurred months before Reagan's Star Wars speech, with audiences being told something big was in the works. (This led many Europeans to subsequently regard LaRouche as a major player in SDI policy.) The LaRouchian effort was strongly supported by Colonel Marc Geneste, a French neutron bomb expert, and General Giulio Macri, a former NATO expert on high technology weapons who ran for the Italian Parliament as a LaRouchian beam-weapons candidate. Several retired German officers joined with the LaRouchians to launch Patriots for Germany, a pro-Star Wars political party. A similar group was launched in Paris under the suggestive name France et Son Armée. In much of their propaganda, the LaRouchians presented themselves as allies of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Lieutenant-General James Abrahamson (USAF), the director of SDI. When Abrahamson went to Europe in July 1984 to build NATO support for his program, the LaRouchians boasted that their organizing efforts over the previous two years had prepared the ground for his favorable reception.
The success of LaRouche's European campaign hinged on maintaining an image of legitimacy. In this he received help from the highest levels in Washington. The State Department sent a priority cable bearing George Shultz's name to the Bonn embassy. Entitled "Anti-LaRouche Disorganizing Activity," the January 1983 cable quoted a complaint from a LaRouche aide that "certain U.S. embassy officials abroad" were trying to dissuade individuals in foreign countries from associating with LaRouche. The cable then reminded the embassy that negative characterizations of U.S. political figures "are not authorized" and directed staff members to "refrain from offering personal opinions while acting in their official capacities." (The cable was based on a DOS press guidance statement that EIR had quoted from the previous month.)
LaRouche's followers also promoted SDI in Japan, which they said could thereby be transformed into an "unsinkable aircraft carrier." Uwe Parpart and other FEF officials made several trips to Tokyo. According to General Yoshio Ishikawa, the Japanese defense attaché in Washington, these trips were sponsored by "several private associations concerned with defense." When a Japanese translation of Beam Defense was published in 1984, Parpart met with Liberal Democratic Party legislators in Tokyo, then addressed a defense industry seminar.
When Japan's Cabinet began formal consideration in 1986 of whether or not to participate in SDI, the LaRouchians staged a Tokyo conference to urge "full strategic commitment." In addition to LaRouche's usual gaggle of scientific experts, the speakers included a retired French general, a retired American colonel (who was receiving $2,000 a week from LaRouche as a consultant), an engineer from a California firm involved in SDI, and spokesmen for two Japanese research institutes. According to EIR, the conference was intended as an antidote to the "treasonous" influence of Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, who had visited Tokyo several weeks previously. EIR called him an agent of the "Mossad-linked Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs" and accused him of trying to undercut Japanese participation in SDI.
The LaRouchians also kept up a vigorous propaganda effort throughout the United States: signs at airports, FEF speaking tours, lobbying for pro-SDI resolutions in state legislatures, beam-weapons election campaign slates. They brought over General Macri and Colonel Geneste for speaking tours in 1984. Macri, who had previously urged American military officers to "begin to concern themselves with politics," was given an official Pentagon briefing on SDI. Geneste spoke at the U.S. Air Force Academy and met with Edward Teller. The Pentagon also furnished its own speakers for LaRouchian events. In May 1984 two top officials of the DOD's International Security Policy Division accepted an invitation to address a LaRouchian rally in Crystal City, Virginia. DOD spokesman John d'Amecourt said in September 1984 that the department regarded the LaRouchians as a "conservative group . . . very supportive of the administration in general." As LaRouche's notoriety grew, Pentagon officials became reluctant to speak at such events, but EIR continued to gain interviews with top brass (for instance, a 1985 interview with Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, Admiral Wesley McDonald).
In 1986 the Fusion Energy Foundation became the target of multiple criminal investigations. According to prosecutors, evidence showed that FEF fundraisers, along with those of other LaRouche front groups, were defrauding elderly persons in every region of the country by soliciting unsecured loans with no intention of repaying them. FEF officials were indicted for loan fraud in New York and Virginia, and for credit-card fraud in Massachusetts. (The LaRouchians denied the charges.) Federal authorities raided the offices and seized the assets of the FEF and other LaRouche front groups to collect fines levied by a federal judge after they failed to cooperate with grand jury subpoenas.
Despite these troubles, the FEF was not abandoned by its friends in the fusion and SDI communities. The July 1987 issue of Spectrum, published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, carried a full-page ad signed by many scientists and engineers from Star Wars-linked corporations and laboratories protesting the government's shutdown of the FEF. The ad's signatories included twenty-two employees of Lawrence Livermore. Dr. Stephen Dean of Fusion Power Associates, which is supported by major Star Wars contractors, sent out a letter defending the FEF and calling the government's charges "quite far-fetched." Urging FPA members to take action, he suggested they contact LaRouche aide Carol White.
On balance, LaRouche's twelve-year campaign for fusion power, beam weapons, and SDI brought him more benefits than problems. His followers learned to operate in influential mainstream circles, not just among right-wing eccentrics. Many scientists and government officials found the LaRouchians useful and thus were willing to overlook their anti-Semitism and other unpleasant qualities. Some of these alliances of convenience lasted for years, involving frequent low-profile exchange of favors. LaRouche built up a pool of influential people whom he had compromised, and who thus had a vested interest in downplaying his extremism to avoid embarrassment to themselves.
Many SDI figures refused to have anything to do with LaRouche, others distanced themselves from him when informed of his background, and some, like General Daniel Graham of High Frontiers, publicly denounced him. Yet far too many SDI proponents quietly winked at his involvement in the politics of SDI. Such people wanted the American taxpayer to pour vast sums into building a supposedly invulnerable military shield against the Soviet Union, yet were themselves far from invulnerable politically and morally when a totalitarian movement appeared under their noses.
Many of the early claims for Star Wars were prompted by political enthusiasm and unsupported by scientific data. As in many historic cases of pseudo-science, the motives of critics were impugned to divert attention from theoretical and research flaws. This is where the LaRouchians played their most insidious role. In an atmosphere in which a scientist as important as Roy Woodruff could be demoted at Lawrence Livermore for questioning dubious data, hundreds of Fusion and EIR articles accused SDI critics—or persons such as General Graham, who advocated technological approaches different from Teller's—of being unpatriotic or worse. Although Teller himself denounced an especially nasty EIR attack on Graham, many SDI supporters continued to chat with the LaRouchians (for instance, Dr. Robert Jastrow, who told a Fusion reporter in 1984 that it would take a psychologist to explain the attitudes of anti-SDI scientists).
The use of the LaRouchians as SDI's cat's paw was a reflection both of the program's ideologically driven nature and of the cynicism underlying the ideology. But the LaRouchians were not merely pawns in all this. They had their own unique agenda.
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