January 29, 2006

Intelligence Briefing:
Revolution & Terrorism

The Foam That Ate the Space Shuttle?

Part 4: Masterminds of a Coverup
– Continued from Part 3 –

Columbia’s final crew
Columbia’s Final Crew: (From left) David Brown, Commander Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, pilot William McCool, Ilan Ramon
By the time Columbia blasted off on its final mission three years ago, America’s internal security had virtually ceased to exist. Every federal, state, and local agency or program charged with monitoring or investigating Communist subversion had been steadily dismantled since the 1950s. Congressional investigating committees had been defunded, eroded, and later abolished; law enforcement agencies from the FBI to local police departments had been thwarted and stripped of their investigative mandates; the Subversive Activities Control Board, the State Department’s security program, and the Attorney General’s List of Subversives were all abolished; and intelligence agencies were purged of their loyal officers.

The Bush Administration has only made things worse, diverting the little remaining intelligence further away from investigating Communism into chasing mythical “al Qaeda” networks. Today no government agency has the power to fire an employee because of membership in Communist front organizations, nor even to ask about such affiliations. Local police can’t even keep files of newspaper clippings documenting leftist activities.

For decades, nothing has stood in the way of the Communist underground sending its members to join NASA in large numbers. A few such agents, working on space shuttle maintenance, could easily have planted one or more explosives inside Columbia’s fuselage or wings. No one would know, or even suspect the possibility. Yet NASA’s shuttle program is obviously a central target of Communist Bloc intelligence — especially when PLO sympathizers need to send a message to Israelis proud of their first astronaut in space.

Columbia’s destruction caught law enforcement authorities off guard. They were simply not prepared for the notion of sabotage by infiltrators within NASA. All the extra security around Columbia’s launch was designed only to protect against an external threat, such as “a missile or a rogue pilot in a fighter jet,” in the words of one federal official.1 Within minutes, the disaster triggered a search for evidence of terrorism, but no one knew where to look. Confusion reigned among handicapped agencies long unaccustomed to the necessary type of investigation. An FBI official admitted that the Bureau “reached out for everybody… to see how we could help and what our orders were.”2 Other agencies fared no better; having no access to intelligence on subversive Communist networks, authorities were at a total loss on how to proceed.

So just hours after the probe of terrorism had begun, it was abruptly shut down. Evidence of an earlier terrorist threat against Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon was dismissed, and officials informed the news media that they had ruled out any possibility of terrorism.3

Admiral “No”

The Bush Administration had fought serious political battles to maintain funding to the PLO, as well as foreign aid and other subsidies to the PLO’s sponsoring regimes in Egypt, Russia, and Red China. U.S. officials had no intention of allowing blame for the space shuttle disaster to point anywhere in that general direction.

Even if law enforcement agencies refused to look further, NASA itself could have ruled out an accident, opening the door to reviving the terrorism probe. Presumably worried about the possibility, the Soviet Russian publication Pravda weighed in just three days after the shuttle’s fiery end, loudly accusing NASA of fronting for corrupt capitalists and of engaging in a coverup of its own fault in the disaster. The Soviet editorial (written by an American Marxist) nervously called for NASA to stay out of its own shuttle investigation.4

Harold Gehman, Jr.
Moscow’s Favorite Admiral: Harold Gehman, Jr.
The Bush Administration agreed. NASA barely convened a panel of experts before its leading members were pushed aside by several politically chosen outsiders. Retired Admiral Harold Gehman, Jr., became the investigating board’s new head, determined from the outset to blame an accident rather than terrorism — while brazenly proclaiming the reformed board to be “independent.”5

Gehman himself could hardly be described as “independent.” Hand-selected by former President Clinton in 1997 to replace the then-Supreme Commander of NATO forces in the Atlantic region,6 Gehman revealed a strange fondness for advancing the Communist agenda for western military forces:

  • He aggressively promoted the integration of such Communist nations as the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Russia into NATO, going so far as personally take Communist Bloc officials on tours of nuclear submarines and other sensitive facilities while lobbying on their behalf within NATO.7
  • Using the slogans of “modernization” and “transformation,” he led the way in disarming U.S. and NATO defenses. He relentlessly pushed for eliminating powerful weapons systems and victory-oriented strategies in favor of lighter, less potent weapons and peacekeeping-style military operations that cannot hold territory or win battles. And he openly favored taking NATO forces out of Europe, where they defend against Soviet Bloc attack, to carry out missions without clear objectives in remote areas of the world.8 Now he serves on the official federal base-closing commission, appointed by President Bush to help neutralize opposition to the elimination of badly-needed military bases.9
  • Long before the 9/11 terror attacks, Gehman headed efforts to use military forces inside America for police-state actions in the event of any terrorist attack “involving a nuclear, biological, chemical, radiological weapon or device, or a large conventional explosive,” in his own words.10 Shortly after retiring from the navy in 2000, Gehman joined the advisory board of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security, a tax-exempt organization advocating preparations for martial law. The institute’s promoters include the news services of Sun Myung Moon, the cult leader and mysterious financier operating in Communist North Korea; the leftist Washington Post; and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a Fabian Socialist front group that has infiltrated government and other leading institutions since the 1920s. Among Gehman’s fellow ANSER Institute advisors have been CFR members John C. Gannon and Dr. Joshua Lederberg, himself an active spokesman for police-state preparations and various leftist causes.11 The ANSER Institute, parent organization of its homeland security project, works closely with “the Russian Central Aero-Hydrodynamics Institute, the Russian Space Agency, and the Russian Academy of Sciences,” all tightly controlled by the Soviet secret police or military.12

Silencing the Lambs

Already in its official name, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) betrayed its agenda of steering away from investigating terrorism. But board members didn’t try too hard to hide it. “The board’s goal was to connect the dots between the foam-shedding event and the proximate or direct cause of the accident,” admitted board member Scott Hubbard.13

While the investigation was still continuing, Gehman revealed his predetermined goal of blaming NASA. “One of our findings is going to be, ‘NASA, you’re not listening,’” he told the press.14

NASA engineers and scientists quickly detected a hidden agenda in CAIB’s work. Gehman and his carefully selected board members impatiently rejected and ignored NASA input at every turn, forcing their own conclusions onto the investigation. CAIB leaders dodged scientific methods, politically maneuvering to defeat any evidence they didn’t like and running to the news media to publish any finding, real or imagined, that seemed to bolster their case against NASA.15 Board members were not above circulating rumors that Columbia’s destruction resulted partly from shuttle age and poor maintenance — a claim the board later retracted, but too late to save NASA’s reputation.16 They even managed to gain control over the shuttle’s recovered debris, blocking access to NASA scientists from doing unapproved testing.17

The shuttle engineers became understandably furious. “On occasion, board investigators and NASA experts found themselves in shouting matches over the best way to proceed.”18

As resistance to the charade grew, Gehman moved to gag the NASA experts. He squeezed out their technicians and hired advisors loyal to him to interpret the findings, guaranteeing he would control all conclusions. Then he purged NASA’s shuttle program officials out of the investigation, leaving nothing but an emasculated panel to rubber-stamp the official outcome.19 By the time Gehman finished, the board had shifted from acknowledging that foam might not have destroyed Columbia to declaring that the disaster “was indisputably caused by foam debris” — and by NASA’s own incompetence, for good measure.20

NASA had been stomped on, Americans had gone back to sleep assured of no terrorist danger, and Israelis, suspecting the truth, had gotten the demoralizing message in the death of their first astronaut. Mission accomplished.

Gehman’s Soviet Russian friends also benefited more directly. With the shuttle program grounded — there has been only a single flight in the last three years, instead of the usual fifteen or so — America has been forced to pay Russia’s space agency to ferry supplies and men to the international space station, thus helping build the Soviet space program and its hidden military function.


1. Meyer, J., “Possibility of terrorism is ruled out quickly,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 2, 2003, p. A16.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Stanton, J., “What cost life? NASA’s O’Keefe should resign,” Pravda Online, www.pravda.ru, Feb. 4, 2003.

5. Gehman, H., Statement before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, March 20, 2003 (reproduced on www.GlobalSecurity.org).

6. “Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic named,” news release, U.S. Dept. of Defense, www.defenselink.mil, July 31, 1997.

7. Asiedu, D., “NATO / CR,” Radio Prague E-News, Radio Prague (Prague, Czech Republic), www.radio.cz, Oct. 13, 1999; “Ukraine’s Ambassador Shcherbak visits NATO base in Norfolk, Virginia,” news release, Embassy of Ukraine to the United States of America, www.brama.com/ukraine-embassy, July 22, 1998; Gehman, H., “Transforming NATO’s defense capabilities for the 21st century,” U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda, US Information Agency (USIA), vol. 4, No. 1, March 1999 (usinfo.state.gov).

8. Peterson, G.I., “An advocate for jointness: Interview with Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr.,” Navy League of the United States, Arlington, VA, www.navyleague.org, date not listed (late 1999 or early 2000); Gehman, H., “Transforming NATO’s defense capabilities for the 21st century,” Op cit.

9. “Bush names base-closing commission members,” news release, Business First of Columbus, www.bizjournals.com, March 16, 2005.

10. Gehman, H., Opening statement of Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr., before the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities of the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, March 24, 2000.

11. “ANSER Institute for Homeland Security,” SourceWatch, Center for Media & Democracy, www.sourcewatch.org, undated; Cohen, E.A., “Military, Scientific, and Technological: The Answer Institute for Homeland Security,” Foreign Affairs, Council on Foreign Relations, New York, Jan./Feb. 2002, p. 211; Annual Report 2000, Council on Foreign Relations, New York, June 30, 2000.

12. Burns, M., “The strange career of ‘homeland security,’” Online Journal, www.onlinejournal.com, June 29, 2002, cited in “ANSER Institute,” SourceWatch, Center for Media & Democracy, www.sourcewatch.org, undated.

13. Hart, L. & Vartabedian, R., “Shuttle’s ‘smoking gun’ seen,” Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2003, pp. A1, A16.

14. Anderson, N., “Importance of shuttle wing shield’s age is questioned,” Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2003, p. A12.

15. Hotz, R.L., “The fate of a wing shaped by politics,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 24, 2003, pp. A1, A12.

16. Vartabedian, R. & Hart, L., “Shuttle disaster may be linked to peeling paint at launching complex,” Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2003, p. A18; Anderson, N., Op cit.

17. Hotz, R.L., Op cit.

18. Ibid.

19. Gold, S. & Anderson, N, “Molten aluminum on debris aids inquiry,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2003, p. A20.

20. Vartabedian, R. & Pae, P., “Foam was to blame, says shuttle study,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 27, 2003, pp. A1, A14.

21. McFarling, U.L., “Report gives a boost to space station project,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 27, 2003, p. A14.