VERMONT DEMOCRATS DEFEND BOONDOGGLES AND MILITARIZATION
By William Boardman Email address removed
Opponents of the F-35 nuclear-capable stealth fighter bomber being based in Vermont are planning non-violent direct action against the Democratic supporters of this multi-billion dollar military boondoggle. They will start in December with Vermont's senior Senator, Patrick Leahy, who has offered no cogent analysis of the issue beyond reflexive support of the military. This he has in common with most of Vermont's political leadership, which has taken the Air Force's lead unquestioningly on this issue.
At the same time, project managers of the Pentagon's costliest weapons program ever ($396 billion and counting) are issuing stern warnings to Lockheed, the plane's builder, that it had better shape up on its performance and start solving the F-35's problems in a cost-effective way -- since the plane is already a decade behind schedule and 100% over budget. The initial anticipated cost-per-plane of $89 million is now $207 million for fiscal year 20012, and still rising.
The Marines plan to set up the first operational squadron of F-35s in Yuma, Arizona, by December, with little or no local opposition, although they don't yet have approval to fly the planes there. The first of the F-35s arrived in Yuma on November 17 and the full complement of 16 planes is expected to be complete in early 2013, but may eventually number as many as 182. The Marines will be the first military service to use the F-35, but not till 2015 at the earliest. Plans for a possible F-35 base in Tucson have met with resistance similar to Vermont's.
Vermonters Plan to Confront Their Senator
Already expressed in petitions, demonstrations, forums, websites, legal action and other tactics, Vermont's opposition to the F-35 will soon try non-violent direct action. In response to the refusal of members of Vermont's Congressional delegation even to meet with the thousands of Vermonters most directly impacted by the F-35 base, the Stop the F-35 Coalition has issued a call to action for a "crowd supported" request to Senator Leahy to conduct a public hearing:
Our plan is to gather a large crowd at Senator Leahy's office one day in the second week of December to demand that he organize such a meeting very early in 2013. We plan to bring a crowd to his office and to stay until he agrees to such a meeting. We are not planning any illegal actions. We simply want him to meet with the impacted Vermonters.