Could it be true? Privatized water and more drone warriors are coming to the Gorge?
The Columbia River Gorge is one of our state’s most precious resources. Like elsewhere in Oregon, its natural resources have not always added up to an abundance of family wage jobs. Right now, the future of this area is in the balance, as two multinational corporations are positioning themselves to take advantage of our unemployment pains and offer Oregonians some nefarious jobs in return for our rights and our values:
- InSitu, a Boeing subsidiary that produces unmanned military aircraft (i.e. drones), plans a major expansion of their Gorge facilities. Tomorrow, Washington Governor, Christine Gregoire, will visit an InSitu site in Bingen, WA.
- Nestle is champing at the bit to open a new water bottling plant in Cascade Locks, and to sell Oregon’s spring water for a hefty profit. At a "town hall" next week, they will push for a transfer of water rights that will pave the way for privatization of these waters.
Both companies promise their projects will bring economic benefits and more jobs for local communities. But what kinds of jobs will be created and for whom? At what cost to the environment and the local tourism industry? Not to mention, that the promise of high-quality jobs are just that — promises, which historically have been a disappointment. Perhaps more fundamentally, is access to drinking water a basic human right or a commodity to be bought and sold in pursuit of profit? Is the increased production of bottled water and military aircraft what our economy and communities really need?
In a Democratic People’s Economy, people (not corporations) control decision-making regarding economic development. Public ownership allows for sustainable and transparent management of natural resources. Economic activity generates jobs, goods & services that benefit communities and the environment.
- InSitu Protest: Join local peace activists who will gather to protest Gov. Christine Gregoire’s visit to InSitu in Bingen, WA (317 Hwy 14) this Friday, Sept. 4 at 2:00 pm. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org (503-543-8417) for more info.
- Nestle Town Hall: Attend a Nestle-sponsored town hall on Wed. Sept. 9th in Cascade Locks at 7:00pm. A four person panel will present, including reps from Nestle, ODFW and Oregon Water Resources Department. Extra Credit: Volunteer to flyer Cascade residents in advance of the meeting. Scroll down for an action alert from Food & Water Watch with more info.
- Petition: Sign the Food & Water Watch petition to keep Nestle out of the Gorge.
- Articles in the Yakima Herald and Seattle Times explore InSitu’s business in the Gorge.
- Scroll down for an excellent op-ed by Susan Crowley (of the ROP member group, Columbia River Fellowship for Peace) published in the Hood River News, which takes a more critical look at InSitu’s operations.
- Check out clips from the new documentary, Tapped, about the bottled water industry.
- Read Food & Water Watch’s "All Bottled Up" report on Nestle’s dubious corporate practices and pursuit of community drinking water.
Food & Water Watch Action Alert
INSITU DESERVES A HARDER LOOK
By Susan Garrett Crowley
Insitu, a local drone developer now owned by Boeing, has approached the city as a part of a public relations campaign to develop public support for its operations. Since Boeing/Insitu has initiated this discussion, residents may want to carefully consider the true nature of what it is designed to do for the U.S. military.
Insitu drones were developed to track moving targets on the ground. Early Insitu scientists had hoped to develop a product that would track fish schools for the kill, but found a limited market. Instead, its drones will probably be used directly or indirectly to track humans for the kill, as well as for simple surveillance.
Boeing/Insitu now choose to emphasize reconnaissance, not the targeting assistance, but their development history shows that both are intended. A development report dated April 14, 2005 and then posted on Insitu’s website described testing of its drone ScanEagle at White Sands Missile Range: The drone “ . . . provided . . . targeting support and [was] used to derive targeting information for the delivery of an ATAC missile and JDAM missile.”
According to the website, in March and June of 2004, the ScanEagle flew with a larger Predator drone – which is not made by Insitu, but which is armed and used in assassination missions — during tests of “hand-off strategies” with the Predator as they “prosecute targets.” Preliminary results indicated “that ScanEagle was among the quickest for target acquisition and most accurate for target location designation.”
Insitu drones have now been used by the U.S. Marines, Navy and Air Force and in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Boeing/Insitu website is no longer so frank.
From miles on high there is no way for a drone to project exactly who the human beings inside targeted buildings or vehicles might be. Many are individuals who die tragically in a crossfire not of their making. Inevitable targeting mistakes have already created more enemies for the U.S. in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, whose citizens refuse to consider their lost family members merely “collateral damage.”
Drones facilitate arm’s-length killing with no risk to the killer. Warfare without apparent cost can result in warfare without thought. It makes it easy for us to think we can occupy a foreign country and then savage our opposition and assassinate inconvenient local leaders – all by manipulating a computer joystick many miles away.
Moreover, it’s now assumed that the U.S. government can execute targeted assassinations of foreign citizens without benefit of any judicial process, an idea that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago and violates norms of international law. An official acknowledged this week that 367 people are now on the U.S. military’s kill list (New York Times, 8/10/09).
This is all done in our name, and Boeing/Insitu has an important role in it. Do we want to accept this with our silence? We already pay for it with our tax dollars.
We might take the lead of Insitu founder Tad McGeer, who left the company in part out of discomfort with its growing military focus. If Boeing/Insitu is asking for an endorsement of that kind of development in our communities, before we take their 30 pieces of silver, we might at least have an informed discussion of the role they play in forming the world our children will inherit.
Susan Garrett Crowley is a retired Hood River attorney and former mediator.