Activists Hold Annual July 4th Protest at NSA

a Chronicle staff report
The Baltimore Emergency Response Network (BERN), a group that seeks to halt U.S. military intervention in other sovereign nations and promotes peaceful solutions to conflict, will gather this Fourth of July, as it done since 1996, for its annual In[ter]dependence Day demonstration at the 38,000-employee National Security Agency. At 10 a.m. at 9800 Savage Road in Fort Meade, BERN members will demonstrate for an end to the NSA's secret and overt operations that they charge lead to killing, destruction and domination. They plan to deploy "Star Wars" balloons as examples of what they believe would be a more cost-effective form of missile defense than the "star wars" National Missile Defense program now underway.

"Justice is the only means of security," said BERN member Max Obuszewski in a prepared statement to the press. "It is an ethical imperative that money wasted on spying and warmaking be diverted to satisfy the basic needs of all people of the world. We are interdependent as one human family."

Four BERN members--Ellen Barfield, Max Obuszewski, Sister Carol Gilbert, O.P. and Sister Ardeth Platte, O.P--were arrested in October 2001 at the time of another BERN protest at the NSA. They were charged with trespass, destruction of government property and conspiracy. These charges were dropped in April 2002, but they were warned by a prosecutor at Fort Meade that new charges would be filed. "The defendants welcome an opportunity to challenge the National Security Agency in court," said Obuszewski. The four intend to take part in the July 4 protest.

BERN activists have been seeking to meet with the NSA's director to discuss the agency's involvement with Star Wars, Echelon (which intercepts communications worldwide), and the Space Command Vision for 2020, which calls for domination of the heavens.

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This story was published on August 7, 2002.