Thursday, July 23, 2009

Computer Weekly: Hacking dossier exposes US military embarrassment

This latest piece on the Gary McKinnon case, written about extensively here a few days ago, from Computer Weekly (particularly the 40-plus page attachment to the story) portrays glaring vulnerabilities about federal computer networks here in the U.S. This case differs in scope (i.e. cyber) vs. physical terrorism, but nonetheless targeted our military bases and should not be overlooked as part of NOPE's argument against proposed civilian housing at Earle. The aggressive U.S. pursuit of McKinnon's extradition only legitimizes our argument.

Interestingly, Christopher Christie's name is all over the earlier legal documents in that case as a prosecutor; NOPE wonders where Mr. Christie would stand as governor on the Earle issue, and will press his office for an answer. We encourage NOPE's supporters to also reach out to his campaign officials, asking where he stands in relation to Jon Corzine, who sent an advisor to meet with our group in late 2008 but has shown little interest in engaging in the issue.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

NOPE challenges U.S. EPA. Supporters, now it is YOUR turn...

Last week, NOPE sent a certified letter to U.S. EPA Region 2 "Strategic Planning" chief John Filippelli (and cc:d to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson) requesting that the EPA withdraw or amend its response to the Laurelwood Housing EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), and encourages its supporters to contact Mr. Filippelli or Ms. Jackson regarding this matter.

This request stems from our view that the Navy mislead commenters by its unfounded insistence that, to quote the Draft EIS, “The Navy would be in breach of the lease agreement if unimpeded access is not provided at the termination of the in-lease period.” (For those new to the case, the "in-lease" is expected to end next September, at which point the 30-year "out-lease" kicks in, allowing the developer to rent the homes to civilians thru 2040.)

The Navy’s mistaken assertion that it would be in “breach” was inimical to the D-EIS review, since commenters relied on that assertion to dismiss as infeasible all “No Action” options (i.e. to not provide unimpeded access to the homes). After obtaining full-text copies of the Laurelwood lease, and in particular Supplemental Agreement 43, however, we were surprised to learn that there is no “breach” if the Navy does not provide “unfettered access.” Supplemental Lease Agreement 43 states:
"Should the Government fail to provide unimpeded access at the termination
of the Inlease, the Government shall terminate the Lease and compensate the
Lessee in an amount equal to the Lessee's right to use or occupy [through to
scheduled teardown in 2040]."
Note that the word “fail” does not reflect an obligation on the Navy’s part to provide “unfettered access.” Under Supplemental Agreement 43, the Navy is at complete liberty either to provide “unimpeded access” or to let the contract proceed to its default outcome of buyout. Buyout makes the need for “unimpeded access” moot, because the Navy as owner of the Laurelwood leasehold improvements would have many options as to how to use or to remove those leasehold improvements, without building a new road.

Given that it had no such contractual “obligation,” but merely an elective option, the Navy misconstrued its purpose as well as failing to consider its range of feasible actions. Accordingly, we ask the EPA to withdraw its statement and go back to the drawing board for a proper assessment of the situation. The "No Action Alternative" is the only one of the five Navy plans for Laurelwood access that would have zero impact on the environment, its mission and the surrounding Earle communities.

Here is the contact information for Mr. Filippelli (212.637.3754 or and Ms. Jackson (202.564.4700 or, as provided by the U.S. EPA's employee directory search. Please express your concerns about the validity of the Laurelwood EIS and how the EPA responded.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More good news from Menendez and Lautenberg

For those unable to attend the first of NOPE's two summer information sessions (our next one is at Tinton Falls Borough Hall on Monday, August 3 @ 73op), we were pleased to have Jeff Sagnip from Congressman Smith's office and Kellie Drakeford from Senator Menendez's office stop by to address the latest initiatives on Capitol Hill in their fight against the U.S. Navy's Laurelwood housing plan. We otherwise received written correspondence from Representative Holt's office, expressing his continued efforts in support of our battle against civilian housing plans for Weapons Station Earle.

Senator Menendez filed an amendment, co-sponsored by Senator Lautenberg, to the Senate Defense Authorization bill requesting a GAO study for Earle, using similar language crafted by Congressman Smith and included in the House passage of the F2010 (starting October 2009)Defense Authorization Bill. This development, in our opinion, would suggest that the measure has a decent chance of passage, particularly considering the unified, bipartisan support vis-a-vis the requests of the respected Messrs. Smith, Menendez and Lautenberg, and suggests the GAO study will a) fill the obvious void left by the Laurelwood EIS and its lack of fundamental financial analysis, b) erect another barrier for the Navy's intended conversion of the Laurelwood homes for civilian access and c) validate the common sense argument of a contract buyout or outright revocation by the U.S. Navy, within the Navy's contractual rights.

NOPE continues to thank our elected officials for coming thru in defense of our local communities, and in the interests of local security and national defense, and encourages our local constituents to keep making phone calls to their elected officials, expressing their opposition to the Laurelwood housing plan. Also plan to attend our Community Briefing on Sept. 24 and anticipated NOPE rally on October 12 (Columbus Day, site and time TBA).

Otherwise, we will keep you posted of any media developments pertaining to our story. A reporter from the Newark Star-Ledger was kind enough to visit our meeting and spent a lot of time with us afterward discussing our case.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monday night's NOPE meeting, 730p @ CN library

NOPE again welcomes all comers to Monday night's gathering, where we will give an informal update of what is going on with the Earle issue from the perspectives of Washington D.C., New Jersey and locally. We plan to conduct our regular business and open the floor for discussion thereafter. Please join us for this informative meeting.