Detailed testimony opposing lease renewal of State lands at the Pohakuloa Training Area

May 7, 2024 Testimony on Pohakuloa Draft 2 EIS at Imiloa Astronomy Center by James V. Albertini, president of Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action

No Military Lease Renewal, No Land Swaps, Stop the Bombing and Desecration, Make the Military Clean Up its Toxic Mess, Return the Land to the Kanaka Maoli and pay reprations for destruction of the ‘aina and psychological injuries caused!

The Big Lie – We are Stewards of the Land.”

PTA commander LTC Timothy Alvarado, June 29, 2023, Hawaii Tribune-Herald

A Few Simple Truths:

1. The land at Pohakuloa is zoned State conservation land, the highest protected land status. The land may not have been zoned “Conservation” in 1964 when the State lease was first issued, but it is zoned a State CONSERVATION district now. So NO lease renewal. Zero. NO Action. Firing a wide range of weapons from State leased conservation land into Federally seized conservation land is not pono. Conservation district is for protecting forest reserve, for cultural and archaeological, and biological resources. A Conservation District is Not for firing bombs, rockets, mortars, etc. How more basic can you get.

2. Millions of live rounds are fired annually at Pohakuloa by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and foreign troops involving a wide range of weapon systems from dozens of firing points on land leased from the State of Hawaii. (map on p. 52 of draft2 EIS) Exactly how many firing points are on State leased land? Please list the total number of rounds fired from each of these firing points and the kinds of rounds fired. I believe nearly 20 years ago when the Stryker Brigade was based in Hawaii, the military said over 7 million live rounds were fired annually at Pohakuloa and that number would be increasing dramatically. What is the current number fired not only from leased land but onto all of Pophakuloa from air, land, and sea. It’s been noted that B-52 and B-2 bombers fly non-stop bombing missions from Louissana, Missouri, and Guam to Bomb Pohakuloa. Please list all of the various types of rounds fired. We have a right to know the big picture of what’s going on at PTA.

3. Depleted Uranium (DU) is just one of many toxins used at the 132,000-acre site in more than 75 years of bombing and shelling. DU oxide particles can be carried long distances in the wind and when inhaled can cause a wide range of cancers, birth defects, and even genetic damage passed to future generations. For years, the military lied, saying no DU weapons were ever fired at Pohakuloa. Then when caught in the lie in 2007, they have continued to try and downplay both the number of DU rounds fired and the potential health risk to troops and civilians. The Army has failed to comply with Hawaii County Resolution 639-08 passed by a vote of 8-1 that called for stopping all live fire and all activities that create dust until there is a comprehensive, independent assessment of the DU present and it is cleaned up. Other actions were called for as well. None of the actions have been carried out. The county also named Dr. Lorrin Pang, MD as the official county liaison with the military. Dr. Pang spent 24 years in the Army Medical Corps and was named in the Who’s Who (top 3%) of America’s Best Doctors. The military has refused to consult with Dr. Pang.

Our organization challenges the military claims on p. 223 that “past use of DU has not impacted air quality at PTA or in the surrounding area.” We also challenge the statement on p 198 that “No radioactive material has been identified on State owned land.” These are classic statements of the Fox saying everything in the hen house is fine. NO problem. Our organization on numerous occasions have obtained radiation readings several times background levels with certified calibrated radiation monitors out side the PTA main gate and at Mauna Kea Park, now named the Gibert Kahele Park. Our first elevated readings several times background levels with 2 calibrated monitors was on May 29, 2007 at Mauna Kea Park for the dedication of the Daniel K. Inouye highway. This was several months before the military finally admitted that DU was used at PTA. Another factor is that DU spotting rounds were first used at PTA in the 1960s fired into the Impact area. That impact area has been bombed and shelled for more than 40 +years before any restriction was placed on areas contaminated by DU. Another thing, the military fox in the hen house consistently downplays the number of DU rounds fired at PTA. Army Garrison Col. Howard Killian testified before the Hawaii County Council in 2008 that based on the number of people trained and certified to fire the Davy Crockett nuclear weapon system at PTA, he said that 2000 DU spotting rounds were likely fired. And if the fox in the hen house lied about the actual number Davy Crockett DU spotting rounds (fox claims 400), what about possible lies about other DU spotting and DU penetrator rounds? Col. Killian testified that DU rounds were prohibited to be used in training at PTA since 1996. So what does that say about their possible use before 1996? All this underscores the need for COMPREHENSIVE INDEPENDENT TESTING AND MONITORING” that has the confidence of the community, instead of accepting the fox in the hen house statements that everything is OK on pages 218 – 223. Even the fox admits that DU rounds were fired from at least one firing point –Range 13 on TA 9 located on State leased land.

4. Pohakuloa is a Lahaina firestorm in the making for Hawaii Island and the danger is increasing with climate change. There have been 892 recorded fires attributable to military activities at PTA since 1975 according to the military, but the military says many
fire records prior to 2012 have been lost
.(p. 354). The so called Leilani fire started on Pohakuloa in Aug. 2022 (one year before the Lahaina fire). The Pohakuloa Leilani fire burned more than 17,700 acres, including more than 12,400 acres outside of PTA, including areas of native endangered species .

5. Issue of Land ownership. According to Kanaka Maoli attorney, Poka Laenui, (Hayden Burgess) attorney, there are serious legal land ownership issues surrounding Pohakuloa and Hawaii, involving US law and international law. Simply put, Hawaiʻi is an illegally-occupied sovereign nation under international law. The military claims the leased lands are important to connect to US government owned lands at Pohakuloa. The military claims the 758 acre Cantonment area with the main administration buildings. And also including Bradshaw air field is one area of US government owned land. The other area is the 84,000 + acre area that includes the 51,000 acre impact area and various adjacent training areas. Let’s be clear: the 758 acre parcel was seized by a 1956 territorial Governor executive order (EO 1719) under territorial Gov. Samuel Wilder King. The 84,057acre parcel was seized by a 1964 Presidential Executive order (EO 11107) under US President Lyndon B. Johnson. There appears to have been no payment in either governor’s nor presidential executive order seized lands. Nada. Not 1 dollar. Not 1 cent.

Poka Laenui states:

Jim Albertini has republished an article regarding the lease of Pohakuloa to the U.S. military and asking for thoughts on the matter. Because the issue also applies to many other areas coming up for renewal to the U.S., and feeling that the question is of such wide importance, I am sharing my response here.


There are two legal regimes under which this question of future Hawaii land use could fall into; the first is the American domestic law and the second is the international law under which the principles of decolonization would apply. Which is the appropriate legal regime? The American domestic law gains its advantage by denial of its own history of the aggression against Hawaii in 1893 and applying its own acts of aggression and its step by step justifications for the taking of Hawaii’s sovereignty. It is successful in the buildup of its “legal case” by its self-proclaimed assertion of legitimacy and precedent, essentially bootstrapping itself, with always the silent presence of U.S. military behind it to back its conclusion.

The international law legal regime has reared its head up against the American domestic law regime over the past 50 years, from a new-found awareness that we come from a history which predates Hawaii’s “Statehood” and American “territorial” era, to a time of Queens and Kings and of a time of proud nationhood of Hawaii. That was a time in which the Hawaiian nation stood as an equal among all other nations before the international legal regime.

The United States violated the independence of Hawaii in a sneak attack upon the shores of Hawaii and, through a set of step-by-step transactions with mainly American businessmen, took over the reins of Hawaii’s government.

In 1945, anticipating the end of the 2nd World War, nations of the world set out to develop a “New World Order” by which international law would be respected by all nations large and small. These nations formed the United Nations, and realizing many instances of violations of basic principles of international law, set up a special place within the United Nations for areas which had its rights to self-determination violated, calling these places “non-selfgoverning territories”. In somewhat of an admission of the treatment of Hawaii under U.S. regime, the U.S. submitted Hawaii as a non-selfgoverning territory entitled to exercise self-governance by being presented in the future options for self-determination. 1959 became that appointed time for the exercise of self-determination. The United States used a “statehood act” to be that tool to determine self-determination. But the U.S. cheated in the employment of self-determination for the people who were suppossed to practice self-determination. The U.S. did so in the following ways. It committed an international fraud by altering the “self”, the who, the people who were entitled to self-determination. Rather than the people entitled to be the “self”, the Hawaiian people who were the original people who lost their identity as Hawaiian nationals by American colonization, the U.S. identified the ‘self” in the 1959 referendum as only American citizens who have lived in Hawaii for at least 1 year. In switching the definition of the ‘self,’ the U.S. also included its military within this definition, another violation of international law for an occupying force to allow its military to join in such an exercise of self-determination.

The second fraud of this “double fraud” was the U.S. limiting of choices which should cover “determination.” There should have been 3 options for determination, independence from the colonial power (U.S.), free association, or intergration such as becoming a “State” of the United States. The second fraud was carried out by the U.S. failing to provide other choices beside Statehood. Thus, we were simply not given the choices of independence or free association. Therefore, this act of self-determination was denied the people of Hawaii.

How is this pilikia or trouble to be unraveled? There should be no action taken by the State of Hawaii or by the U.S. government to proceed under the domestic laws of the United States until the issue of the international legal question is first resolved. All land issues as well as exercise of American jurisdiction should be held in abeyance. There is now an attempt to bring this question of jurisdiction to the U.N. for clarification on this matter, and until the matter is resolved, no action should be taken by the State or the Feds to dispose of the title of Hawaii’s lands.”

Poka Laenui, (Hayden Burgess) Attorney

6. Our organization supports the Kanaka Maoli right to restore their independent nation before the government was illegally overthrown in 1893 by US business interest with the direct illegal assistance of the US military. We also support concerns about impacts to cultural and historic sites and practices at PTA, but we will leave it to Kanaka Maoli to address these important issues. However, I want to note for the record that the Cultural Impact Assessment (CIA) in the draft #2 is deficient because it removed approx. 900 pages of informant testimony and analysis (Compare the CIA in the First DEIS vol 2 with Second DEIS vol 3). It’s been also reported that the archaeological survey was not fully completed, so that is deficient as well. And the wildfire analysis is deficient (the Federal firefighters at PTA are not trained or equipped for wildfire; they do airport fires)

7. Whatever happens mauka comes makai. Despite assurances from the fox and mongoose that everything is fine in the hen house, common sense prevails. We are all downwind, downhill of Pohakuloa. The military poisoning of military families and civilians from Red Hill jet fuel leaks into Oahu’s water table is not an isolated military toxic event. Our organization put together more than 20 years ago a map of Hawaii Island with 57 known present and former military sites with a vast amount of hazards. I will submit a copy for the record. Here I will simply point out one site . Around the same time the Army used DU spotting rounds at PTA, it got a lease of state lands in the Waiakea forest area (Hilo’s watershed) located south of Hilo. The Army told the state it wanted to do “weather testing.” The Army was lying. It tested a wide rage of chemical and biological weapons in the Hilo watershed including Sarin nerve gas that kills at 1/50 of a drop. Congresswoman Patsy Mink disclosed the Army lie. Hawaii County Mayor at the time, Sunichi Kimura, and many other people spoke up and said “The Army lied to us. Cancel the State lease.” And the lease was canceled. The same needs to be done at PTA. Cancel the State lease of land to Pohakuloa here and now. And certainly don’t renew the lease.

8. I have received word that the military fox/mongoose may try to sneak its way into the hen house if blocked by current conditions. Word is the sly military fox/mongoose may seek a special district within the conservation zone, or try to change conservation land rules, or try go to the Land Use Commission to take the land out of conservation zoning. Another possibility is that the military fox/mongoose may try to change the designation of the  PTA leased lands to urban, and make a gift of other Federal lands to the state. Seems like the military fox/mongoose is hard at work.

9. Comments not considered substantive about the EIS are put in the military trash can labeled (General Response #1). The EIS states Commenters are directed to General Response 1 for comments not considered to be substantive, which acknowledges that the comment was received and reviewed. Examples include What are the possible wide range of toxins that may be in the impact area from 75 plus years of bombing and shelling. The questions is NOT considered substantive because the impact area is not on State leased lands which is the focus of the EIS, even though the toxins were fired from firing points on the leased lands. Even though continued bombing and shelling could spread the toxins all over leased lands and beyond. It would be like a Nuremberg Nazi war crime trail witness being asked where were the Nazi gas chambers and ovens located at Auschwitz and answering that the question is not substantive because we are only dealing with leased lands and only dormitories are located on leased land at Auschwitz.

Now that’s a theoretical question, but I do recall a high ranking officer at Auschwitz being asked at the Nuremberg trails – How many people tried to escape at Auschwitz? He replied: “No one tried to escape.. Why would people try to escape? Auschwitz was a Family Camp.”

Finally, I recall the Hawaii Tribune Herald headline story about the day LTC Alvarado was sworn in atsPTA Commander in June of 2023. The headline read “We are Stewards of the Land.”

Jim Albertini, President of Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action

May 7, 2024

Claims of US owned lands questioned. Learning from Kaho’olawe — Stop the Bombing of Pohakuloa

Published by jalbertini on October 29th, 2020 in Hawaii Independence, Military, Pohakuloa, Social Justice, Take Action!.

The Conversation: Oral History of Kaho’olawe

By Catherine Cruz & Bill Dorman • Oct 22, 2020 (30th anniversary of the Bombing being stopped Oct. 22, 1990 on Kaho’olawe)…/conversation-oral…


Jim Albertini comments:

Stop Bombing Pohakuloa just like the bombing got stopped on Kaho’olawe

When Hawaii US Senator Sparky Matsunaga died, Pat Saiki ran against Dan Akaka for the US Senate seat in 1990) During one of these oral history tapes I heard on HPR (24 min mark in tape link above) about Kaho’olawe 30th anniversary) was a tape of Pat Saiki. Saiki talks about being invited by President George H.W. Bush to a meeting in the Oval Office. Saiki told Bush Hawaii was a very Democratic state so she needed something that would give her (a Republican) a boost to beat Akaka (a Democrat). Bush said what can I do. She said Kaho’olawe was a very active issue. If Bush could help stop the bombing it could possibly help Saiki beat Akaka. Saiki said Bush could issue a presidential executive order to stop the bombing. Bush turned to his chief of staff –John Sununu and said “DO IT.” The bombing was stopped Oct. 22, 1990. But Saiki lost to Akaka anyway though I’m sure it helped get her some votes.


Today, the Bombing at Pohakuloa takes place (Not on State leased land) but on 84,000 acres seized by a presidential executive order in 1964 under LB Johnson. How do we get a new presidential executive order to Stop the bombing at Pohakuloa similar to the Bush executive order in 1990?

The key thing — we need to build a Kaho’olawe style mass movement to turn up the heat on elected officials at all levels.

The military in Hawaii is out of control and having a deadly impact on the life of our lands like they did on Kaho’olawe.” Walter Rittee quote recently on FB social media commenting on the US Air Force plans to build up to 7 telescopes on Haleakala, Maui.



For the record, we include the videos and article listed below to underscore the destruction, desecration, and dangers of toxic contamination, including DU at PTA

Learn more: See the 11-minute video — How the Army Got to Bomb Hawaii For $1 Pohakuloa 14 min. video “Now that you Know, Do You Care?” Also the video of Dr. Lorrin Pang, M.D., public health officer, retired 24 years in the Army Medical Corps, and listed in the Who’s Who (top 3%) of America’s Best Doctors explaining the health dangers of inhaling DU oxide dust particles Also read – A Brief History Of US Military Poisoning Of Hawai’i – PopularResistance.Org

Jim Albertini Malu ‘Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action P.O. Box 489 Ola’a (Kurtistown) Hawai’i 96760 Phone 808-966-7622 Email Visit us on the web at