Saturday, October 13, 2007


Lingle, the military, and the Superferry

by Larry Geller

Hawaii's governor Linda Lingle has canceled her planned trip to Korea, China and Japan to be here for a likely special session of the Hawaii Legislature. She is supporting the Hawaii Superferry Corporation in breaking through the state's environmental protection laws and starting business immediately—over the objections of hundreds if not thousands of Neighbor Island residents.

Why? Maybe it's because the ferry's military usefulness would be lost if it isn't allowed to ply the whale-filled waters around Hawaii. A huge ferry exempted from environmental protection laws is just what is needed to move those Stryker vehicles from island to island.

Is this a "hidden agenda?" It has been discussed largely on the Internet. Lingle has had a hidden military agenda before.

On her June 2007 trip to Indonesia, even though she was accompanied by a reporter from the Honolulu Advertiser, it only came out from stories in the foreign press that a secret (to us) deal had been concluded for military cooperation between Hawaii and Indonesia. The deal was for maintenance of military equipment for the bloody Indonesian military:

"We should build up cooperation between the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) and the Hawaiian National Guard to beef up professionalism at the level of soldiers and low-ranking officers on maintenance of military equipment, such as helicopters and other equipment made by the United States," [Indonesian Defense Minister] Juwono said.

"In the coming months, scores of our soldiers will be sent to Hawaii to get trainings of the maintenance which could boost the capacity of troops," he added.

An Advertiser article did report on meetings but omitted the details found in the foreign press reports:

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The governor will meet with Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla tomorrow morning, the third of a series of meetings with high-level Indonesian leaders to discuss a state military partnership with the country.

The Indonesian government supports torture and atrocities against its own people by its military. For more on why Hawaii (or anyone else) should have nothing to do with the Indonesian military, here is a recent article, Funding Indonesia’s Abusive Military. Lingle was accompanied on that trip by Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state adjutant general, among others.

Lingle has just canceled her planned trip to Asia in order to push the Superferry exemption through the Legislature, but the press release announcing her trip is still on her website. In Governor Lingle to Strengthen Business, Tourism and Education Relations with Korea, China and Japan, we read that

The Governor will be accompanied by members of the Administration who will take part in various segments of the trip, including Marsha Wienert, state tourism liaison; Ted Liu, director, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT); Major General Robert Lee, state adjutant general; and Lenny Klompus, senior advisor-communications.  Dr. David McClain, president, University of Hawai‘i (UH), as well as Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and DBEDT staff will also participate in portions of the trip.

Nowhere in the rest of the article does it mention why General Lee is accompanying the Governor. We can only guess. Will there be military talks? If so, what does Hawaii, as a state, have to do with international military matters?

Back now to the Superferry.

The link between the Superferry and military interests is clarified in this comment by ConcernedOnMaui to a  post on David Shapiro's Vocanic Ash blog. I know it's bad form to steal a whole comment from another blogger, but I've not seen anything this well stated, so I steal with great appreciation and admiration:

Let’s be clear about the persons and interests that are behind the Hawaii Superferry.

The Board of Directors of the Hawaii Superferry reads like a roster of revolving door ex-military officials. Like John F. Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy and founder of the investment firm JF Lehman, a company that specializes in investing in military industries with a controlling interest in the Superferry.

Lehman is associated with the Heritage Foundation, the notorious Right Wing think tank that intellectually and politically influenced such anti-Native Hawaiian and anti-environmental groups as the Grassroots Institute, Pacific Legal Foundation and Aloha for All. He is also associated with the Project for a New American Century, the folks that cooked up the illegal and catastrophic occupation of Iraq and a blueprint for U.S. Empire (well, they euphemistically called it “Pax Americana”).

Lehman proudly announced that the Hawaii Superferry would partner with the military as a “Westpac Express” to shuttle Strykers and other military personnel and equipment between islands and beyond. The first Westpac Express was a contract between the U.S. military and the Austal Corporation, makers of the Superferry, to move U.S. military personnel and equipment around Australia and Southeast Asia.

According to testimony from Sean Connaughton, Maritime Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation before the House Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces of the Armed Services Committee (March 15, 2007), U.S. taxpayers subsidized $140 million of the $180 million price tag for two Superferries through Title XI loan guarantees.

Connaughton said that “Although the Administration has not requested funding for new loan guarantees since 2001, Congress has periodically appropriated money for this purpose.” He seemed to suggest that the Superferry was another pork barrel earmark project.

Further he stated,“The ferries are also militarily useful and [Transportation Command] has expressed an interest in them. The Hawaii SuperFerry vessels will be offered for enrollment in the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement, or VISA, program.”

Like the Strykers and the UARC, the Superferry is a conspiracy by politicians, the military and corporations to impose their profit and military driven agendas on Hawai‘i over the opposition of affected communities and regardless of the ultimate costs, consequences and impacts. Kaua‘i’s powerful assertion of their right to live in peace and protect their island from invasive and destructive forces is an example we can all learn from.

Lingle didn't tell us she was going to Indonesia to make a deal to maintain military equipment, and we don't know why she was planning to take Maj. Gen. Lee with her on a business/tourism/education trip to Asia. So it would not be surprising to learn that there is also a military motive behind her unrelenting stance re the Superferry.

We don't know what promises might have been made, though we can see the energy Lingle is putting into the fight. That alone makes me wonder what has been left unspoken.

Maybe we are all being taken for a ride by the Superferry.



Larry, mahalo for this post. I was watching a show on Akaku with Andrea Brower and Kat Brady talking about the military connections, and Andrea mentioned that was right in the SF's PUC filing, about running Stryker-related loads between O'ahu and Big Island, but I'm not sure if I've seen reference to that elsewhere. Have you seen that?

Thanks for mentioning that. No, I hadn't seen it. I don't know much about it, but I'll bet the SF PUC filing is a fairly long document. If it's not on-line it should still be available to look at and copy. I might try that during the week. So thanks again!

Frankly, I am disturbed that the Governor of Hawaii would want to develop ties with the Indonesian military. The East Timorese who seek independence from Djakarta have been prime targets for the Indonesian military. Establishing a military relationship between Hawaii and Indonesia is tacit support of the brute force used against dissidents in that country. Perhaps General Lee is accompanying Governor Lingle to learn how to deal with dissidents in Hawaii. The stench emanating from the fifth floor of the Capitol is starting to rise.

Thanks for your comment.

I got really upset about that earlier trip. Try putting Indonesia in the search box on the left, it will fetch four previous articles. Or a Google search outside the blog with indonesia lingle . My little search box isn't working as well as it should. You'll see that I really got upset because yes, I knew about the genocide in East Timor and Aceh province, and the TNI is not yet reformed. IMHO we should have nothing to do with them.

A whole trove of SF stuff is available at the PUC website.

Page 9 of their harbor use agreement. I don't have a copy but have been told be reliable folks that's where the reference is. It's not Stryker specific but "military charter" is mentioned.

Thank you. I wonder if the harbor use agreement is online somewhere. I'll try looking around for it.

So why is it that the Island of Hawaii is now getting $s to widen and improve Saddle road?
Sure doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out!!!!!!!!

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