Secrets In The Desert

From: GroomWatch
Date: Sun, 24 May 1998 02:42:19 EDT
Subject: AREA 51 article in Torrance Daily Breeze, California SUN.
MAY 17
Article on AREA 51 appears in Torrance Daily Breeze newspaper, California:
TORRANCE DAILY BREEZE, Sunday, May 17, 1998 Section B1

by Michael Gougis, Staff Writer: (quote verbatim)

Rumored UFOs aren't the real danger at Area 51 test facility, Torrance man warns.

Stories about alien spacecraft and UFOs surround the military test facility in Nevada known as Area 51, but Norio Hayakawa doesn't pay any attention to them. To him, they just cloud the issue.

The Torrance resident's interest in the long-secret facility 90 miles from Las Vegas has to do with more down-to-earth concerns: toxic pollution; the possibility of weapons tests posing a danger to people far, far away from the remote location; the potential for the abuse of the technology that may be under wraps at the site.

"It is our tax dollars going out there. And it is the only military facility in the nation where you will be arrested if you make it to the guard shack. The secrecy must end," said Hayakawa, 55, a funeral director who also is a member of a civilian intelligence group that monitors covert government operations and black projects - developments so secret they don't show up on the Pentagon's books.

In the past decade, Hayakawa has assembled a file of declassified documents and other documents relating to operations at the base. One makes reference to an antenna system so powerful that it is hazardous to stand within 500 meters of the dish if it is pointed toward you. Hayakawa also has a series of detailed photographs of the base showing hangars, aircraft, radar and satellite dishes and other details.

Hayakawa has been to the edge of the secret base at least 15 times in the past decade. He's going back in June, and he's taking some friends.

On June 6, Hayakawa and others will host a gathering they're calling
The People's Rally, right at the border of the restricted zone, the thousands of acres surrounding the base that the military has sealed off to the public.

Fact and fiction

The rally is designed to draw attention to the amounts of taxpayer
dollars spent at the site, as well as the environmental damage some fear has been done there. It is expected to draw between 400 to 800 people, from as far away as Canada and New Zealand, as word of the event spreads via the Internet. Hayakawa maintains several Web sites, including one devoted specifically to the test facility at Groom Lake.

Area 51 has existed in the world of fiction for some time, perhaps
most prominently as the secret military installation nearly destroyed by very unpleasant aliens in the movie "Independence Day."

The reality is probably stranger than anything Hollywood has come up with.

The U.S. government refused to acknowledge the base's existence for
decades. In 1994, lawsuits were filed against the government by workers who contend they were exposed to fumes from toxic wastes that were thrown into ditches, covered with jet fuel and burned into ash.

In response, the Air Force admitted only that an "operating facility" is located at Groom Lake, a dry lake bed in the heart of Area 51, and said national security prohibited any discussion of what might have occurred there. The federal Environmental Protection Agency, also named in the lawsuits, contended it could not enforce environmental laws at a place that didn't officially exist.

What is actually known about the site reads like passages from a Tom Clancy novel.

Super-secret testing

Established by the CIA in the mid-'50s, the location has served as a test facility for the nation's most secret aircraft, including the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes and the F-117A Stealth fighter-bomber, used so successfully in the Persian Gulf War, military analysts have concluded.

Operations at the site, which employs between 1,800 and 2,300 people, are funded by the government's "black" budget, a $22 billion fund used by the CIA, the Pentagon and the National Security Agency for secret weapons and technological development. The ground outside the buffer zone surrounding the base is laced with sensors buried in the dirt to detect anyone or anything moving toward the restricted zone.

"We couldn't tell you what happens there, and to be honest they don't
tell me anything," Tech. Sgt. Richard Covington of Nellis Air Force Base's public affairs office said Friday. "I could refer you to Washington, but that's what they'll tell you, too. It's on the base, but it's not a Nellis asset."

Hayakawa's interest in the base stems from the years he spent living in Albuquerque, where he befriended people who worked at military and defense industry jobs. "They always talked about the remarkable aircraft that were being developed in secret," he said.

Hayakawa began reading AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY and digging up information on advanced aircraft development. "I always have had an interest in exotic aircraft design and military development," he said.

Then in 1988, he read a number of articles and saw a number of television specials that made intriguing references to the site. He wrote to a magazine in Japan, suggesting it to do a story on the base. Instead, a Japanese television crew contacted him.

"In 1990, I took the television crew from Japan to interview a man in
Las Vegas who said he was a government scientist working on what he called unusual aircraft," he said. "There were about 10 of us, and we interviewed him at his home. He said there was going to be a test, and he gave us a map, but he refused to say what was going to be tested."

Hayakawa and the television crew followed the map and set up cameras. What they saw astounded them.

"We saw an incredibly bright object rise over the Groom Mountains. Its maneuverability really impressed us, as did its brightness," he said.

Some might have concluded UFO. Others argue the object was most probably an experimental aircraft; at extreme distances, high-speed maneuvers performed by Earth-designed aircraft can look positively impossible. Hayakawa sides with the latter.

UFO smoke screen?

"There's nothing extraterrestrial or strange there. It's good old American technology," he says. "The government sits back and watches - and sometimes manipulates - these UFO stories to keep people from asking about the real activities there."

By the way, the two-hour television program produced by the Japanese crew drew an audience of 40 million when it was aired in Japan, he said.

Hayakawa has run into the security forces before. In 1991, he and his colleagues were chased by a helicopter back to the highway, where sheriff's deputies were waiting for them at a roadblock.

Hayakawa's concerns about Area 51 are twofold. The first is laid out in the lawsuits filed on behalf of former workers at the site.

Two of them, Walter Kasza and Robert Frost, since have died. An autopsy showed that Frost's body was laced with industrial toxins rarely seen in humans, the lawsuit contends. Kasza went to doctors for years, but none could explain why his skin was cracking so badly his bed sheets would be covered in blood in the morning.

The lawsuits don't even seek monetary damages. Attorney and law professor, Jonathan Turley is seeking only records that might indicate what the workers were exposed to, or even to have them treated by military doctors in secret.

In a demonstration of just how secretive the government is about the subject, Turley's office at George Washington University was sealed by a federal court order because of the classified documents he has obtained; he can't have visitors or students in the office.

Hayakawa also has concerns about biological and chemical weapons he says may be under development at the site, as well as unmanned surveillance aircraft he said could be used not only in war, but against civilians during times of peace.

"Progress is going to take place, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. But it has the potential for abuse," he said.

"There is a danger that these projects could impact the public, environmentally as well as in the area of privacy."

For more information, visit Hayakawa's website at GroomWatch : Home Page for
Norio Hayakawa
Contributing to this article were Scripps McClatchy News and The Associated Press.


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