Vol. 3, Issue 5, February 15, 2005
Missile Defense Test a Rousing Near-Success, Says White House
The national missile defense system has taken significant steps towards its goal of keeping America safe, according to White House officials.
"We are very pleased with the results of this test, and believe that we have demonstrated our resolve to nations contemplating ballistic missile attacks on the United States," said Richard Lehner, a spokesperson for the Missile Defense Agency at the Pentagon. "The interceptor made some excellent progress towards launching, very nearly rising up into the air and striking the incoming target from the sky."
The trials are part of an effort to install a scaled-down version of the "Star Wars" defense system, proposed two decades ago by President Ronald Reagan to protect against missiles from the Soviet Union. President Bush made deployment of the system a key issue in the 2000 presidential campaign and has supported it vigorously ever since.
In an exclusive interview with Talon reporter Jeff Gannon, Lehner described the feelings of "elation and patriotism" when 46 of the 53 systems necessary to launch the interceptor activated "without a hitch."
"I'm telling you, we were this close," said a jubilant Lehner. "It is gratifying to see American know-how and determination reach such a successful fruition. I predict that in our next test, we will manage to get at least 50 of the 53 systems functioning. Some people think that's overly optimistic, but I have faith in American engineering. Yes, I do."
Critics have pointed out that a missile interceptor system has a somewhat limited value if it does not actually intercept missiles.
"It's certainly embarrassing at a time when the administration has basically decided that its North Korea policy is missile defense," said John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, a nonprofit defense analysis group. "You don't get second chances in nuclear combat."
Pentagon officials scoffed at these comments, however.
"I would suggest - to be perfectly frank - that the individuals making these totally unwarranted statements need to look deep within themselves, and try to understand why it is that they hate America so much," said a concerned looking Lehrer. "Honest, hard-worked American men and, yes, even women, have made a great technical achievement this day. What right do these pundits have to cast aspersions upon their victory? "
The White House is requesting $3.2 billion in 2006 for further testing and development of the system, and Congress has indicated it is willing to support the measure.
"The test was so successful that we are even getting congratulatory messages from other countries," said President Bush. "I got one right here from Pyongyang saying 'great work, keep it up!' Now that's a sign that we're doing something right.
"Pyongyang's in Japan, right?"