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Missile Hit Got a Little Help
Published on Monday, August 20, 2001 in the Madison Capital Times
Missile Hit Got a Little Help
by Dave Zweifel
Dr. Jeff Patterson, the UW physician who has spent a great deal of his life trying to educate us all about the perils of nuclear weapons, is more than worried that the Bush administration's scheme to build a national missile defense system will do nothing more than make the world more unsafe.

And he's concerned, like a lot of other people, that the administration will stop at nothing to get this incredibly expensive system under way during this term in office.

Evidence of this is in a piece the doctor sent along. Written for the online magazine Salon by nationally syndicated columnist Joe Conason, the article contends that the Pentagon rigged last month's missile defense test.

"Precisely according to plan, the target was instantly vaporized on impact and along with it, or so the Pentagon's uniformed salesmen hoped, the perennial concern that missile defense won't work," Conason wrote. "With the cooperation of major news organizations and conservative pundits, that test provided an enormous propaganda boost to the Bush proposal, which conveniently enough had been brought up to Capitol Hill by Defense Department officials just two days earlier.

"There was only one thing that all the happy salesmen forgot to mention about their latest test drive," he continued. "The rocket fired from Vandenberg was carrying a global positioning satellite beacon that guided the kill vehicle toward it. In other words, it would be fair to say that the $100 million test was rigged."

Conason's article complained that the mainstream media didn't pick up on this even though the Pentagon confirmed the role of the GPS device to a reporter for Defense Week magazine several days after the test. They either buried the news or ignored it, the columnist said, because they "had so obediently celebrated the technological breakthrough two weeks earlier."

But this is just the tip of what's going on in an effort to sell the defense system, Conason insisted.

"The Pentagon and the Bush White House mean to stifle any dissent about the capabilities of their favorite toy," he added. "They have repeatedly sought to reclassify documents that show that the system doesn't function as advertised. And within the past few weeks they have blatantly attempted to intimidate Theodore Postol, a professor at MIT who is currently the country's leading critic of missile defense."

Conason continued:

"Bogus tests and bullied critics are the hallmarks of a defense establishment that fears facts. With billions in contracts at stake, the salesmen for national missile defense must conceal the many defects in their dangerous product. And the press corps, reverting to the bad habits of the Cold War, has done little so far to penetrate the propaganda.

"So when the next 'successful' missile defense test is announced with fanfare and fireworks, don't necessarily believe what you hear. You are the buyers targeted by this massive sales effort - and you should most certainly beware."

Copyright © 2001 Madison Capital Times


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