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Who Killed All Those
British Star Wars Scientists?
Did 22 SDI Researchers really ALL Commit Suicide?


Fifty-year-old Alistair Beckham was a successful British aerospace- projects engineer. His specialty was designing computer software for sophisticated naval defense systems. Like hundreds of other British scientists, he was working on a pilot program for America's Strategic Defense Initiative--better known as Star Wars. And like at least 21 of his colleagues, he died a bizarre, violent death.
It was a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon in August 1988. After driving his wife to work, Beckham walked through his garden to a musty backyard toolshed and sat down on a box next to the door. He wrapped bare wires around his chest, attached the to an electrical outlet and put a handkerchief in his mouth. Then he pulled the switch.
With his death, Beckham's name was added to a growing list of British scientists who've died or disappeared under mysterious circumstances since 1982. Each was a skilled expert in computers, and each was working on a highly classified project for the American Star Wars program. None had any apparent motive for killing himself.
The British government contends that the deaths are all a matter of coincidence. The British press blames stress. Others allude to an ongoing fraud investigation involving the nation's leading defense contractor. Relatives left behind don't know what to think.
"There weren't any women involved. There weren't any men involved. We had a very good relationship," says Mary Beckham, Alistair's widow. "We don't know why he did it...if he did it. And I don't believe that he did do it. He wouldn't go out to the shed. There had to be something...."
The string of unexplained deaths can be traced back to March 1982, when Essex University computer scientist Dr. Keith Bowden died in a car wreck on his ay home from a London social function. Authorities claim Bowden was drunk. His wife and friends say otherwise.
Bowden, 45, was a whiz with super-computers and computer- controlled aircraft. He was cofounder of the Department of Computer Sciences at Essex and had worked for one of the major Star Wars contractors in England.
One night Bowden's immaculately maintained Rover careened across a four lane highway and plunged off a bridge, down an embankment, into an abandoned rail yard. Bowden was found dead at the scene.
During the inquest, police testified that Bowden's blood alcohol level had exceeded the legal limit and that he had been driving too fast. His death was ruled accidental.
Wife Hillary Bowden and her lawyer suspected a cover-up. Friends he'd supposedly spent the evening with denied that Bowden had been drinking. Then there was the condition of Bowden's car.
"My solicitor instructed an accident specialist to examine the automobile," Mrs. Bowden explains. "Somebody had taken the wheels off and put others on that were old and worn. At the inquest this was not allowed to be brought up. Someone asked if the car was in a sound condition, and the answer was yes."
Hillary, in a state of shock, never protested the published verdict. Yet, she remains convinced that someone tampered with her husband's car. "It certainly looked like foul play," Hillary maintains.
Four years later the British press finally added Bowden's case to its growing dossier. First, there appeared to be two interconnected deaths, then six, then 12--suddenly there were 22.
Take 37-year-old David Sands, a senior scientist at Easams working on a highly sensitive computer-controlled satellite- radar system. In March 1987 Sands made a U-turn on his way to work and rammed his car into the brick wall of a vacant restaurant. His trunk was loaded with full gasoline cans. The car exploded on impact.
Given the incongruities of the accident and the lack of a suicide motive, the coroner refused to rule out the possibility of foul play. Meanwhile, information leaked to the press suggested that Sands had been under a tremendous emotional strain.
Margaret Worth, Sand's mother-in-law, claims these stories are totally inaccurate. "When David died, it was a great mystery to us," she admits. "He was very successful. He was very confident. He had just pulled off a great coup for his company, and he was about to be greatly rewarded. He had a very bright future ahead of him. He was perfectly happy the week before this happened."
Like many of the bereaved, Worth is still at a loss for answers. "One week we think he must have been got at. The next week we think it couldn't be anything like that," she says.
This wave of suspicious fatalities in the ultrasecret world of sophisticated weaponry has not gone unnoticed by the United States government. Late last fall, the American embassy in London publicly requested a full investigation by the British Ministry of Defense (MoD).
Members of British Parliament, such a Labour MP Doug Hoyle, copresident of the Manufacturing, Science & Finance Union, had been making similar requests for more than two years. The Thatcher government had refused to launch any sort of inquiry.
"How many more deaths before we get the government to give the answers?" Hoyle asks. "From a security point of view, surely both ourselves and the Americans ought to be looking into it."
The Pentagon refuses comment on the deaths. However, according to Reagan Administration sources, "We cannot ignore it anymore."
Actually, British and American intelligence agencies are on the situation. When THE SUNDAY TIMES in London published the details of 12 mysterious deaths last September, sources at the American embassy admitted being aware of at least ten additional victims whose names had already been sent to Washington. The sources added that the embassy had been monitoring reports of "the mysterious deaths" for two years.
English intelligence has suffered several damaging spy scandals in the 20 century. The CIA may suspect the deaths are an indication of security leaks, that Star Wars secrets are being sold to the Russians. Perhaps these scientists had been blackmailed into supplying classified data to Moscow and could no longer live with themselves. One or more may have stumbled onto an espionage ring and been silenced.
As NBC News London correspondent Henry Champ puts it, "In the world of espionage, there is a saying: Twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action."
Where SDI is concerned, a tremendous amount is at stake. In return for the Thatcher government's early support of the Star Wars program, the Reagan Administration promised a number of extremely lucrative SDI contracts to the British defense industry--hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars the struggling British economy can little afford to lose.
Britain traditionally has one of the finest defense industries in the world. Their annual overseas weapons sales amount to almost $250 billion. The publicity from a Star Wars spy scandal could seriously cut into the profits.
It would appear that only initial promises made to Prime Minister Thatcher hold the U.S. from cutting its losses and pulling out. A high-ranking American source was quoted in the SUNDAY TIMES saying, "If this had happened in Greece, Brazil, Spain, or Argentina, we'd be all over them like a glove!"
The Thatcher government's PR problem is that the scandal centers around Marconi Company Ltd., Britain's largest electronics-defense contractor. Seven Marconi scientists are among the dead.
Marconi, which employs 50,000 workers worldwide, is a subsidiary of Britain's General Electric Company (GEC). GEC managing director Lord Wienstock recently launched his own internal investigation.
http://mparent7777-2.blogspot.com/2007/09/whos-killing-star-wars- scientists.html


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