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"News Fit to Transmit in the Post Cassini Flyby Era"

MD Pie in the Sky ^ Environmental Destruction ^ Peltier Congressional Video

15 February 2001

1) Missile Defense is Still Just a Pie in the Sky

2) Air Force Gearing Up for Space Operations

3) Peltier Congressional Video Press Release


President George W. Bush has ordered a review on the way the military will conduct war in the future. The idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure is often a foreign concept for military planners. The first sentence in the Item 2 news story confirms this, "The Air Force embraced a report that cited the 'virtual certainty' of future hostile action in space and said it was moving forward with plans to boost U.S. military strength in the heavens." This virtual certainty of conflict becomes a self-created reality. Instead of war-creating strategies, the U.S. could and should adopt preventing the spread of war and terrorism by endorsing programs that support prosperity, health and well-being in all nations. Yet, while the industrial revolution and the misguided global economy sink icebergs, global warming threatens any realm of hope. The current U.S. Administration is in denial of this real threat. They are considering spending billions and billions of dollars for Star Wars, which not only diverts limited resources, but harms the environment by ozone depleting rocket ships and missiles destroying the outer layers of Earth's atmosphere. This confirms that human fear and distorted logic are our most significant threat to life.

Please consider taking actions, especially referred to at the end in item 3 regarding the Leonard Peltier Congressional Briefing video tape. We need your help to support justice and human rights to lobby the public and the U.S. Congress, which may become our only safeguard in preventing a destructive missile defense system leading to a new deadlier arms race.

Before the three items listed above, following are important environmental news briefs regarding Global Warming from the Environmental News Service.


NAIROBI, Kenya, February 7, 2001 (ENS) - Global warming may be set to accelerate as rising temperatures in the Arctic melt the permafrost causing it to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, a United Nations scientist warned today. An estimated 14 per cent of the world's carbon is stored in Arctic lands.

For full text and graphics visit:

NEW YORK, New York, February 13, 2001 (ENS) - International negotiations to work out exactly how greenhouse gas emissions will be limited to avert global warming are set to resume this summer, the president of the United
Nations process said Monday.

For full text and graphics visit:

By Brian Hansen

WASHINGTON, DC, February 13, 2001 (ENS) - Enforcement activities at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon be carried on very differently now that George W. Bush has replaced Bill Clinton in the White House, according to two of Washington's most prominent environmental attorneys.

For full text and graphics visit:
NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, these materials are distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for research and educational purposes.

1) Missile Defense is Still Just a Pie in the Sky

By Roberto Suro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 12, 2001

As the Bush administration takes the first steps toward carrying out its campaign promise of a global missile defense, a stark reality is setting in: Bush's initiative carries heavy upfront costs -- budgetary, political and diplomatic -- but the benefits to American security and foreign policy lay far off in the future.

During last year's election campaign, President Bush repeatedly criticized the Clinton administration's missile defense plans as inadequate, and he promised to build a larger, more complex shield. But there is virtually no chance that this expanded system can be in place before Bush leaves the White House, according to Pentagon documents and military experts.

Even a token defense would require three or four years of work, according to the most optimistic assessments of the technological challenges and construction schedules. Realizing Bush's vision of a multilayered system with worldwide reach will take a decade or more, the experts said.

Pentagon officials warn that these schedules cannot be accelerated very much, even by infusions of money or exhortations from the commander in chief. "This is not a matter of cranking up assembly lines," said a senior military officer. "It is, in fact, rocket science."

The difficulties of mounting a missile defense have been writ large in the skies above the Pacific, where the Pentagon's most advanced system -- a land-based rocket mounted with a "kill vehicle" designed to smash into an enemy warhead -- failed two flight tests last year. After the second botched intercept in July, the testers put in place higher quality standards and inspected every component. As a result of the two failures, the date for the next test has slipped -- from last July to November, then to January, then to March. Now it may not take place until June, almost a year late, according to a senior Pentagon official.

If everything goes right from now on, a small-scale version of the interceptor system could be operating by 2006. But that is the option the Clinton administration had proposed and which the Bush campaign derided as too limited. As an alternative, some Bush advisers have proposed to adapt Navy "theater defense" systems being developed to shoot down short- and medium-range missiles. However, the Navy recently revised timelines for those programs, which would put new, high-speed interceptors aboard cruisers.

The Navy had planned to build a hurry-up, stopgap interceptor, the Block I missile, and to equip at least two ships by 2006. But that plan has been scrapped so that the Navy can focus on testing and developing the final version, the Block II missile, a senior defense official said. By taking what it considers a more prudent tack, the Navy has put off initial deployment of a ship-based shield to 2010 at the earliest, officials said.

Administration's Logic

Despite the long timeline, Bush remains "fully committed" to building a missile defense to deal with an international problem that will not just go away, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said last week.

"And that problem is simply that there are nations on Earth who are developing these weapons that can threaten their neighbors and can threaten us, and it would be irresponsible of us not to move forward with technologies that have the possibility of being able to stop these kinds of weapons," Powell said.

The Clinton plan called for interceptors based in Alaska to protect only the United States -- not its allies -- from a few missiles fired by a rogue state or an accidental launch by a major power. That approach was "flawed" and the product of "failed leadership," Bush said during the campaign.

Bush has not specified what technologies he will employ. Nor has he said whether the system is intended to be shared with Russia and China, or to defend against them. But he argued forcefully during the campaign that U.S. missile defenses must protect not only the 50 states but also "our friends and allies and deployed forces overseas."

Recent statements by Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld indicate that the new administration is worried that unless the European powers, Israel, South Korea, Japan and other allies feel safe from missile attack, they may be unwilling to join in a future U.S.-led military coalition.

Within a few years, the senior officials predict, a relatively weak military power, such as Iran, Iraq or North Korea, could try to blackmail the United States and its allies by assembling a few long-range ballistic missiles.

Decrying Clinton's inattention to this danger, Bush contended during the campaign that the defensive technology is within reach. "There's a lot of inventiveness in our society that is -- hasn't been unleashed on this
particular subject," he said.

Rising Costs

In addition to technological problems, however, the White House faces the issue of how to pay for the global shield. It will cost an additional $8 billion to $10 billion a year to start with, according to conservative estimates by missile defense advocates.

The price tag for Clinton's plan was estimated at $60 billion. Bush's bigger shield could cost much more, especially if the United States tries to build a network of radars and interceptors to protect Europe, Israel and perhaps also Russia, or if it develops killer satellites and space-based weapons.

The chiefs of the military services have long insisted that any spending on national missile defense must come on top of the substantial budget increases they are seeking to modernize existing forces. The Bush administration has promised new money only for a military pay raise.

Any additional defense spending must wait until Rumsfeld completes a "top-to-bottom" review of U.S. strategy, weapons programs, nuclear forces and military personnel issues, Bush said last week. Even as it decides how to proceed on the technology and budget fronts, Bush will have to wage a diplomatic offensive as well.

Opposition to the president's missile defense goals is virtually unanimous among the European allies as well as in Moscow, where Bush's ideas are viewed as a prescription for a new arms race. China, which sees even a limited shield as a way to defeat its nuclear capabilities, threatens to be first off the starting line, building missiles as fast as the United States can build defenses.

No Apparent Haste

With its early focus on domestic programs and tax cuts, the Bush administration has not hurried to tackle the multiple challenges posed by missile defense.

Senior military officers have been ready for weeks to brief the new administration on options for missile defense testing and development. But the generals, admirals and civilian scientists have been left cooling their heels, according to senior defense officials.

And although Bush has said he wants to overcome Russian opposition to U.S. missile defense plans -- perhaps by negotiating an agreement that would further reduce both sides' nuclear arsenals -- the administration has not announced a schedule for consultations with Moscow.

Last year, the Clinton administration launched intensive consultations with Russia and the European allies in January. The plan was to have some kind of agreement in place by September, when the president was to decide whether to go forward with construction of a new tracking radar on the remote Aleutian island of Shemya. Failure to make any progress on the diplomatic front, along with the two failed intercept tests, caused Clinton to hold back.

The Shemya radar is essential to almost any kind of national missile defense system, and the earliest it could be completed is 2006 if work on the island begins next year, according to the Pentagon. Because all the materials must be shipped by barge from Seattle to be in place for the short summer construction season, Bush will have to make a decision on whether to build on Shemya by November or see the schedule slip by a full year.

Getting a global shield up by the end of the decade would require the kind of urgent commitment that went into the development of Polaris submarine-launched nuclear missiles in the early 1960s, when the nation believed that the Soviets were pulling ahead in strategic weapons, according to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has been a leading advocate of missile defenses.

Heritage urged Bush to use his inaugural address "to assure Americans and America's allies that he intends to stand by his campaign commitment to field a national missile defense system as soon as technologically possible."

But Bush did not mention the subject then, nor has he spoken of it in any detail since. He may say more this week, when he is to visit military bases across the country and discuss his ideas on defense.

In the view of some prominent Republicans, such as Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), Bush by now should have set in motion a plan to scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which prohibits any national missile defenses.

"I think [the administration] should give the Russians six months to accept modifications of the ABM treaty, and if they don't agree, we should withdraw from it," said Cochran, who sponsored legislation in 1999 that requires creation of a missile defense system as soon as the technology is available.

But the Bush administration appears reluctant to upset European allies and infuriate Russia years before the United States will have even a rudimentary system in place.

During an interview Feb. 4 on ABC's "This Week," Powell said it was possible that the United States might someday have to abrogate the ABM treaty "if it is no longer serving our purposes or if it is not something that we can accommodate our programs within."

But, Powell added, "it's not something that's going to happen tomorrow, and it's not something that's going to happen without full consultation with our friends and allies and full consultation with the Russians. And beyond that, full consultation with other nations that have an interest in this in Asia, Japan, Korea and China."

Bush's selection of Rumsfeld as defense secretary initially heartened missile defense advocates, because Rumsfeld chaired a commission that reported in 1998 that North Korea and Iran could threaten the United States with missile strikes within five years. That report spurred the Cochran legislation and helped persuade President Bill Clinton to take missile defense out of the deep freeze.

Cochran and others who saw Rumsfeld as an embodiment of their hopes expected the new administration to quickly reverse Clinton's decision to put off construction on Shemya. But Rumsfeld has deflected questions about how he expects to proceed.

Addressing a conference of European defense officials in Germany recently, he spoke only in general terms about the need for a missile shield. During a session with reporters on his plane en route, Rumsfeld said he could not discuss his views of missile defense plans because "we are working that through now back home, but we are not yet at that stage."

Professing a degree of ignorance about a field in which he is widely considered an expert policymaker, Rumsfeld added, "I had my first meeting earlier this week. It seems it is all a blur. I am trying to think when that was on the subject. And they are working through some things for me now. We are going to be meeting again. We are not in a position to talk specifics."

Coming Tests

Perhaps the first decision he will have to make is whether to go forward with the Clinton plan to put 100 land-based interceptors in Alaska starting in 2006.

The strategy behind that system is to attack incoming warheads when they have begun to descend on targets. Time is short at that stage of an engagement, and the interceptors must streak into space aboard a high-speed rocket.

Development of the booster has proven more time-consuming and difficult than the Pentagon expected. Behind schedule by almost a year already, the new missile is scheduled to undergo its first two tests in the coming months.

Once the interceptor is in space, it is supposed to find enemy warheads with the help of a tracking radar on land and infrared sensors in a satellite system. Both are still in the prototype stage and have never been tested together.

In the final seconds of flight, the "kill vehicle" is supposed to home in on the warhead with its own infrared sensors, then ram into it. Two intercept tests are scheduled this year. With only one success in the three previous tests, top Pentagon officials worry that they need two consecutive hits to restore the system's credibility.

Even as they try to master long-standing technological challenges, missile defense developers are expanding their testing programs. Critics both in and out of the Pentagon have questioned whether the "kill vehicle" will be able to find the right target amid the flock of decoys that might surround an incoming warhead.

While expressing confidence in their capabilities, the system's developers recently scheduled four additional flight tests with more difficult targets so they can prove that it will work. If the tests go right, deployment will stay on schedule. But any misses could add months of delay, Pentagon officials said.
ゥ 2001 The Washington Post Company


2) Air Force Gearing Up for Space Operations

'Virtual certainty' of future hostile action in space

Friday, February 9 5:38 AM ET

Air Force Gearing Up for Space Operations
by Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Air Force embraced a report that cited the "virtual certainty" of future hostile action in space and said it was moving forward with plans to boost U.S. military strength in the heavens.

Donald Rumsfeld headed the congressionally mandated commission that issued the report, although he stepped down from the commission post after being tapped to become President George W. Bush defense secretary.

"The Air Force strongly supports the space commission report and is already moving to implement many of (its) recommendations," said Maj. Gen. Brian Arnold, director of space and nu

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