Friday, March 21, 2003
1. MISSILE DEFENSE: WILL NORTH KOREA PUT BEACONS ON ITS MISSILES?
Undersecretary of Defense Pete Aldridge assured the Senate
Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that a rudimentary missile defense
in Ft. Greely Alaska would be 90 percent effective in stopping North
Korean ballistic missiles. Senators were openly skeptical, and the ranking
Democrat, Carl Levin (D-MI), suggested Aldridge go back and look at the
numbers. The most notable success of the missile defense was to destroy
the ABM Treaty (WN 14 Jun 02), but against ballistic missiles its success
rate is only 62% - and that was with homing beacons on the missiles. The Pentagon plans to go ahead and deploy 10 interceptors near Ft. Greely anyway. A 1983 law prohibits deployment of systems that have not been shown to work, but Secretary Rumsfeld argues that missile defense is so important we should deploy while we're
testing (WN 28 Feb 03).
2. SECRECY: BUSH POLICY RETURNS TO "WHEN IN DOUBT, CLASSIFY."
Faced with a mountain of classified documents created in the Reagan years, President Clinton issued an order in 1995 requiring automatic declassification of most documents after 25 years and directing that nothing be classified unless the need for secrecy is perfectly clear. The draft of a new executive order being circulated among federal agencies makes classification once again the default position and postpones automatic declassification to 2007. Every government seeks the power to keep whatever it wants secret. Bad news is kept secret, while good news is leaked.
3. ENVIRONMENT: SENATE VOTES AGAINST DRILLING IN WILDLIFE REFUGE.
In spite of rising gas prices and rising concern over the
effect of war with Iraq on energy supplies the Republican-controlled
Senate voted against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
It was a major defeat for President Bush, who had made opening of the
Refuge one of his top priorities. But it's Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), the powerful chair of Appropriations, who decides which Senators get a slice of pork, and he promised payback. "People who vote against it [drilling] are voting against me, and I will not forget it." Brr,
I feel a cold draft.
4. DIVERSITY: STATE REPRESENTATIVE IN NEW MEXICO REACHES OUT.
State Rep. Daniel R. Foley (R), whose district includes Roswell, introduced a bill in the New Mexico Legislature to designate an annual Extraterrestrial Culture Day to recognize contributions of space aliens to the culture and economy of Roswell.
5. COLUMBIA HEARING POSTPONED: IRAQ WAR PREOCCUPIES WASHINGTON.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, chaired by John McCain, had scheduled a hearing for yesterday, March 20, 2003 on the Space Station Columbia Investigation and Future Space Policy. WN notes that since the safe return of Apollo 17 from the moon in 1972, no human has been any further from Earth than Baltimore is from New York. Assignment: What has been learned in the space program that has led to the quiet shelving of the dream of interplanetary space travel by humans?