Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Funny He Should Ask 

What ho! Occasionally it is our pleasure to find a brace of mutually illuminating items nestled side-by-side, as we did tonight at SpaceWar.com, that delightfully informative site devoted to the celebration of high-tech boondoggles and the Pentagon that loves them. (Regular departments include "MilTech," "SpaceMart," "Robo Space," "NukeWars," "Terror Wars," "Disaster Management," and "Clone Age.") Item the first, from AFP, entitled "Rumsfeld Calls Taepodong Failure A Fact":
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Wednesday said the apparent failure of North Korea's long-range Taepodong-2 missile failed was a "fact." "Let me put it this way," he told reporters. "Why would someone spend that much money and launch that expensive an effort and then only gain 38 or 40 seconds worth of information from it?"
Item the second, also from AFP, entitled "North Korean Launches Put US Missile Defense System To Test":
The US missile defense system was put to its first real test Tuesday and Wednesday with North Korea's launch of a long-range missile and a half dozen shorter range missiles. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he was on and off the phone with top US commanders almost continuously for days before the missile tests . . . .

Pentagon officials were circumspect, though, about how the multi-billion dollar missile defense system performed.

"What I will tell you is that each and every launch was detected and monitored, and that interceptors were operational during the missile launches that took place," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman . . . .

Since the mid-1980s, the United States has spent more than 90 billion dollars to develop a defense against long-range missile attack, a quest that has been fraught with controversy . . . .

In practice, however, the system has succeeded only in five of 10 attempts to intercept a mock warhead in space. The last intercept occurred in 2002, and that was followed by two failures.

Critics contend that even the successful tests were bogus because they were operationally unrealistic and used surrogates for components of the system that were still in development.

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