Democrats & Liberals Archives

NORAD Out, Star Wars In

The Pentagon has announced a decision to mothball NORAD after spending $700 million since 2001 to upgrade its warning systems. The staff will be moved to Peterson Airforce Base. The reason given for the closure: “a missile attack from China or Russia is very unlikely,” says NORAD commander Admiral Keating.

If the US is not expecting a missile attack, and therefore closing NORAD, why was Star Wars revived in 2005? The space-based missile defense system has already cost billions of dollars Since 1993, at least $92 billion has gone into the system. Missile attack is apparently not a US concern. Just remember that when the budget season rolls around again.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at July 29, 2006 9:25 PM
Comment #171907

What the heck are Bush and the Department of Defense doing? Do they have any concept that they are wasting the publics money?

Posted by: Silima at July 29, 2006 9:50 PM
Comment #171908

Actually I think they do know they are wasting taxpayer dollars. I just think they don’t care, since not much of it came from them and they can get plenty more of it quite easily.

Posted by: Silima at July 29, 2006 9:53 PM
Comment #171919

Even as concieved by Ronald Reagan, missile defense was never intended to defeat a concerted attack by the Soviet Union or China. It was supposed to increase their uncertainty. Clinton went slow on NMD, but it was an issue in the 2000 election where Gore promised to continue research.

In its recent form, missile defense is designed to intercept small numbers of missiles form rouge states.

The NORAD thing is unrelated.

Posted by: Jack at July 29, 2006 10:23 PM
Comment #171922

Now some facts….

“In the next few years, some NORAD and USNORTHCOM military and civilian positions at Cheyenne Mountain will be relocated to NORAD and USNORTHCOM headquarters in Bldg. 2 on Peterson Air Force Base. The NORAD and USNORTHCOM facilities at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station will be maintained, ready for use on short notice.”

” The Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center is not NORAD; it is an operations center. NORAD headquarters is located at Peterson Air Force Base and NORAD has regional headquarters in the continental United States, Canada and Alaska.

Not all assets and personnel in Cheyenne Mountain belong to NORAD or USNORTHCOM. NORAD and USNORTHCOM personnel fill approximately twenty-five percent of the positions located at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. “

For the full story …

If you want to know about the horse… ask the horse

Posted by: David at July 29, 2006 10:41 PM
Comment #171925

“If the US is not expecting a missile attack, and therefore closing NORAD, why was Star Wars revived in 2005?”

ummmm……what about Korea, or Iran? What about protecting our allies from attack? And NORAD isn’t being shut down……….some operations are being relocated…. in the age of computers, the site is of little consequence.

Posted by: Ilsa at July 29, 2006 10:46 PM
Comment #171929

SDI has been merged into the broader missile defense strategy (as far as I can tell). The space-based system is certainly not dead. See Missile Defense Program Moves Forward, Jan. 2006 Defense Link:

“The interceptors are part of an integrated system of ground, sea and space-based sensors, ground and sea-based radars and an advanced command and control, battle management and communication system designed to detect and track a hostile ballistic missile, then launch and guide an interceptor to destroy the target warhead before it can reach its intended target in any of our 50 states,” MDA spokesman Rick Lehner said.

NORAD is (was) also part of our missile defense system.

In a press conference in 2002 Rumsfeld responded to a question about SDI as follows:

With respect to the, I think you said SDI, the threat of ballistic missiles. If we’ve learned anything it’s that the terrorist networks that exist in the world and terrorist states avoid attacking armies, navies or air forces and look for areas of vulnerability. They fashioned so-called asymmetric threats that don’t require their going after armies, navies and air forces. That means that clearly ballistic missiles are a threat, cruise missiles are increasingly a threat, terrorism is a threat. We’ll undoubtedly be seeing countries that are heavily dependent on technology such as the United States and the Western European nations. The attacks with respect to cyber attacks and that type of thing.

So what we’ve seen is a growing understanding of that, that those are the kinds of circumstances we’re going to have to face in the 21st Century, and as a result we’re proceeding with our missile defense program and other countries are interested in discussing various aspects of it with us, and I suspect we’ll see continued improvements in the ability to deal with those asymmetrical threats.

Terrorism, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, cyber attacks and the like.

Also from the “horse’s mouth” so to speak.

Posted by: Rowan Wolf at July 29, 2006 10:56 PM
Comment #171938

The missile defense program is a boondoggle, unless they go to boost-phase intercept. It’s too easy for the enemy to defeat the missile’s systems with confusing decoys, and target recognition still sucks. Right now, the limits of our systems is taking a potshot at the passing missile.

We could be paying for more boots on the ground, keeping vehicles in good working order, and doing other things for our military and for other programs instead.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 29, 2006 11:36 PM
Comment #171959

Stephan finally said it. It is a boondoggle. Clinton and Gore were guilty on a smaller scale. You can spend a trillion dollars developing a star wars system that works. Good job. Now the enemy spends ten million dollars and defeats your entire system. Who is going to win that exchange? I guess that the military industrial complex is the winner. The rest of us are losers. Star wars is like being a medieval king and building a castle. You put 2000 people to work for two years building a castle, your enemy puts 10 people to work for 2 weeks building a cannon or one guy to build a ladder. You try to shoot your enemies missiles down with lasers, he paints em with silver paint. Try to shoot his missiles down in space - he deploys Mylar balloon decoys. You use the heat signature of the cold balloons to identify the real warheads - hundreds of billions of dollars - he puts nine volt batteries and flashlight bulbs inside the balloons to keep them warm… The list is endless. Its a boondoggle - another way to loot the treasury.

Posted by: Ray Guest at July 30, 2006 12:57 AM
Comment #171969

Dear Liberals,

Why the mantra that any defense against missiles is wrong / evil / dumb … or other hate-speech against it??

Is it just because Reagan proposed it, and Libs ~completely attacked him then??

Look, y’all didn’t have all the facts in the 80’s, and Wise-Fool bloggers still don’t today.

I am not guaranteeing that Star Wars will *ever* be real success against a full scale ‘Soviet Union’ attack …but NONE(*) of you know for sure it won’t be a real success:
- being able to counter a small Korean, Iranian, Packistani, etc. attack for the next decade or two
- eventually being able to counter even large / sophisticated missile threats.

** I don’t know
** Reagan didn’t know
** YOU don’t know

BESIDES, weapons systems that are defensive (able to assuage the advantage of a first strike) are stabilizing and reduce the chance to “Play a Game of Thermonuclear War”.

(*) NONE — I can tell by your writings, even though some of you have studied enough to pass freshman physics

Posted by: Brian at July 30, 2006 2:14 AM
Comment #171970

1.) Don’t believe everything that a SDI manager tell you re how good it is (don’t believe everything that *any* advocate says about his/her product). PREVENT WASTE.
2.) Don’t listen to idiot Lib reactionaries who tell you this is bad/evil no matter what
3.) It is worth some R&D $$ to look into. This could be really important.

Posted by: Brian at July 30, 2006 2:20 AM
Comment #171971

Well, I’m gonna’ have to study this.

No NORAD? Uh, did China cooperate on the recent North Korean initiative?

I dunno. I’ve really got to study this. One thing off the top of my head (purely suspicion) is that I’ve believed for some time that Bush not only expects, but desires Armageddon. (that also explains him getting all goosey and giggly at the G-8 conference when he got the news of renewed mideast violence)

I just don’t know.


Posted by: KansasDem at July 30, 2006 2:23 AM
Comment #171972


Is this a reflexive negative response to missile defence which is rooted in liberal politics or do you have some other objection to having some kind of defense to missile attack?

Posted by: esimonson at July 30, 2006 2:27 AM
Comment #171981

I’m not so sure closing NORAD all together is the right idea! Everyone is tightening their belt these days because the “allmighty dollar” isn’t going as far as it used to. I had a coach say once “A strong defense is to have a Strong Offense”… I think that applies here as well. “Cutting down seems to be the order of the day and that would go with this action!” That’s the way I see it…think about this strategy!

Posted by: Winston BeLisle at July 30, 2006 4:42 AM
Comment #171991

If you wish to build your sense of security on ignorance, be my guest. I’d rather know the thing works, and not have a false sense of security.

We don’t need a billion dollar defense that can be pierced by mylar baloons and jerry-rigged heaters. When expensive defenses can be easily circumvented by cheap methods, the wise course is to abandon such plans

Even if we got the software down, so that it could distinguish target from decoy on an object moving at thousands of miles an hour, we till have to lift a substantial number of satellites up to Earth orbit, a process that as of yet is extremely expensive.

If we are to have a Missile Defense, boost phase is best, as it is prohibitively expensive to decoy a rocket, as opposed to a warhead on ballistic trajectory.

Last, but not least, even if we do get a missile defense up, it will be cheaper for them to flood the sky with more missiles than it will be for us to do the same with more interceptors.

Right now, the technology simply isn’t there to make this work as a defense. Politics alone will not make this thing work, and in the meantime billions of dollars that could be better used will be wasted on an concept that however well-intentioned, is impractical.

And no, I do not accept arguments from ignorance. You can argue practically anything from that kind of perspective without truly proving yourself the wiser individual in any real way.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 30, 2006 8:52 AM
Comment #171992

I don’t have any object to defense from missile attack. I just require that it be a real defense, not simply one that generates a false sense of security.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 30, 2006 8:53 AM
Comment #172001

OK - let’s see. Say, I am the despot leader of a rogue nation. The US, a nation which I detest, has a Missile that might shoot down my nuclear-tipped missile, and besides, even if they didn’t have such a system, if I lobbed a missile at them, they would know where it came from and immediately incinerate my entire nation, and I would have no kingdom left to rule. After all, “mutually-assured destruction” kept the US and the USSR from going at each other all those years.

SO - I guess a simpler thought would be to load my nuke on a freighter carrying Cabbage Patch Dolls from my country into the harbor in San Francisco. Once that baby blows, no one will ever be able to figure out where it came from. I will have scored big points with my despot buddies and the US will never be able to prove a thing.

Do we really think that in this day and age a missile defense system will keep us safe? Maybe we would be safer if King George stopped alienating every human being on the planet (well, every human being who is not a CEO, anyway).

Posted by: Stephen B at July 30, 2006 10:15 AM
Comment #172008

SDI is the poster child for Defense Department waste. It is a jobs program to keep an Alaskan senator in line. The same one that got the bridge to nowhere. It does not work well,even when we know ahead of time when and where the target missile is launched. Even if it gets perfected it is of dubious utility. During the cold war our protection came from MAD,mutually assured destruction. The system if it worked would tend to de-stabileize that. Conter measures are not difficult and even so N.Korea ,if they chose too,is more likely to send a warhead in a small sub.
Sadly the fear is understandable but we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Even if the system was fully operational and located in New York it would not have prevented 9/11. The fist plane would have gotten through No one knew the intent and just who would have “pulled the trigger” on a cililian aircraft? There was no time to engage the second aircraft. The system is not that fast. Another 9 billion this year alone. Would not the money be better spent on cargo inspection? How about letting tax payers keep it?
Chiyanne Mountain is being put on standby after a 400 million
and rising remodal. Is this the best use of our money?
To coservative readers: We can disagree on specifics but please lets take a realistic look at Pentagon waste. We are spending at near ww2 levels,all on credit,and we are not getting our monies worth. Yes the world is dangerious. As conservatives often point out,throwing money at a problem does not fix it. In the current climate of fear the Pentagon acts like they have a blank check. Congressional oversite has been corrupted beyond all credibility. Key congressmen have been convicted of accepting bribes by defense contractors. I hope we can agree that we need to improve acountability and utility. We spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined. It is at the point where this weakens us as a nation.

Posted by: BillS at July 30, 2006 10:56 AM
Comment #172028


I agree with almost everything that you say… but there are problems with blast phase defenses too. First, we would have to lean too far forward. You have make the decision to fire your intercept in the first couple of minutes - no time to contact the President - not even the General - some Lieutenant is going to have to make the decision to commit an act of war on behalf of the U.S. - and if it is raining and his instruments have incorrectly targeted the heat signature from a Japanese airliner… Who cares about the Japanese - toast em. If our intrepid Lieutenant shoots down a Nuke - no guarantee that the warhead will not fall on Tokyo and detonate. Our friends and know this so a blast phase defense will further isolate us in the world. A blast phase defense is by no means a slam dunk and even if you build a effective blast phase defense it could still be quickly, easily, and cheaply defeated with Roman Candle decoys. They would only need 2 or 3 minutes of fuel. The decoys could literally be made out of card board. If fifty percent blew up on launch - no matter - the other fifty percent would still confuse our intrepid Lieutenant. And of course if the despot (Kim) wants to hit the U.S. he can put his Nuke in a twenty foot shipping container and ship it to a garage in Washington DC.

Posted by: Ray Guest at July 30, 2006 12:22 PM
Comment #172029

Everywhere I said blast phase - I meant boost phase - one starts talking about Nukes and the mind goes to “blast.”

Posted by: Ray Guest at July 30, 2006 12:26 PM
Comment #172030

Missile defense is like the Presidents cod piece - it looks impressive, but it is not real.

Posted by: Ray Guest at July 30, 2006 12:35 PM
Comment #172031

Let me see if I got this right. We spend 401 billion dollars a year for the Defense Department, yet 3,000 of our citizens are killed by 19 guys with 20 dollars worth of box cutters. The solution: throw more money at the problem.

I wonder what the Republican would say if this was the Department of Education.

Posted by: 037 at July 30, 2006 12:38 PM
Comment #172043

Weary Willie

I think we’ve got a second gate stored in Antarctica.

Posted by: ulysses at July 30, 2006 1:19 PM
Comment #172050

Ray Guest-
I think it would be fairly easy to distinguish an ICBM, with it’s rocket motor and suborbital trajectory from a fairly low flying, turbofan-powered passenger airliner. It’s when you have the damn thing already up there, the rocket motor dead, the warhead(s) cruising along on momentum alone, with nothing else but it’s physical presence giving you its position, that missile defense becomes altogether horrendous and costly. You could launch these missiles from ships or the ground, and the signature of a rocket motor would be a lot more difficult to decoy than the warhead inside.

As for acts of war, consider this: the fueling and use of most rockets is something we can detect from orbit. It won’t escape our notice. So, the President or a regional commander would have some warning, as these missiles take some time to prepare and roll out.

Once they are fired, and the trajectory is register in our direction, or the direction of our allies, then that there is an act of war.

As for decoys, you could not build one out of cardboard. The stresses and temperatures for the decoy rocket would be virtually the same as that for the real one, It really wouldn’t be worth it.

With all that in mind, though, the strongest argument against relying too much on missile defense is the one argued by my namesake, Stephen B (no relation), regarding the likely delivery system.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 30, 2006 2:10 PM
Comment #172062

Silima put it properly, what are these people,President and Rummy, thinking? This administration, especially the occupant of the
White House, will go down in history as incompetent and totally clueless on everything that they have touched. In their attempt to satisfy the social conservatives and the mega corporations they have ingored common sense. The one great thing that they have accomplished is to make failed administrations such as Harding, Hoover, Grant and Nixon look good.

As I have said before and I will continue to say, If you want to do something to turn this country around and away from the pathetic and failed policies of this administration and Congress then do something!! Support candidates that want to change the stupidity of the last 6 years. Support these candidates with some of your money and/or your valued time. Volunteer your time, a few hours a week to a candidate who will make a difference. But most of all VOTE. Vote and make sure that 10 like minded people you know also vote. Next Tuesday Kansas has a Primary Election and although it is to late to register it is not to late to register for the general election in November. Kansas State officials predict only 25 to 30 per cent will vote in the primary.


Posted by: C.T. Rich at July 30, 2006 3:49 PM
Comment #172064

By the numbers, here we go for the military & historically unaware … and a one, and a two, and a three …

(#1) Thank the heavens & Ronald Reagan (if you’re an atheist just thank Reagan I guess) for SDI. Whether you think it does have or did have the possibility of defending us … or even if you think it has no ability to do anything, the main reason the USSR is now “Russia” is mainly because of Star Wars.
Reagan looked Gorby in the eye in Iceland and said in essence “We can either play nice together, you can acknowledge the state of your country, and you can give up your dreams of world communist domination or you can continue and I’ll use the US economic power to build up our power and create a missile defense system rendering your’s useless.” Read: ‘Way Up There In Blue’ for more details.
So, it was either the greatest bluff of the 20th Century in which case, “Good on ya Ronnie for the bluff!” Or SDI actually has merit, some now & more later, in which case, “Good on ya Ronnie for getting it started!” Either way, I don’t want kids growing up in Northern Virginia like I did practicing the “kiss your ass goodbye” routine under their school desk like I had to do once a week. Or will the left now debate it was better to have a USSR around?

(#2) We did and are continuing a major revamp of our Special Operations Forces but that doesn’t mean they’re going away. Marines didn’t have MEU’s (Marine Expeditionary Units) until the early 1980’s but that doesn’t mean the Marines could perform expeditions until then. In other words, just because we might be changing a command structure or a name doesn’t mean “it’s all going away and does Bush even have a clue what he’s doing”. Retorts like that are woefully, uhh, … I’m looking for a word more intense than just “ignorant”. (Oh well, I was an engineering major, sometimes I can’t finish sentences.)

(#3) To draw out of this story that we are scratching the whole concept of tracking and possibly defending ourselves against IBM’s … not too insightful in my opinion.

Posted by: Ken Strong at July 30, 2006 3:57 PM
Comment #172068

I’m not often considered well-informed about many of the issues of the day, but could I at least agree with those that say SDI won’t work against a nuclear device smuggled into the country on a ship or train or in the trunk of a car or in a suitcase?

And that’s where the real threat lies, not an intercontinental ballistic missile from China or North Korea or even Russia.

Of course, I do not have the ability to see into the future and what threats we might face.

But to spend trillions of dollars on a defense system that may or may not work against a threat that may or may not exist is ludicrous.

Especially when we have children in this country going to bed hungry at night or people dying from a lack of adequate medical care or struggling to breath air polluted with deadly chemicals.

Now, if the government wants to spend trillions of dollars fixing that, they have my vote.

Posted by: ulysses at July 30, 2006 4:09 PM
Comment #172073

You have a wonderful argument, it is a shame it is full of holes. Thank Reagan for SDI is a very interesting concept. Shoud we thank him for a system that we have blown billons on that still does not work and have a limited posibility of ever working? As an engineering major you should realize that a square peg will eventually fit a round hole if you apply enough force the proper number of times, however, it will never be correct.

Reagan could have had disarment with “Gorby” in Iceland but was too hyped up with his own PR that he did see it. Reagan did not distroy Communism, yes his trillons of dollars of unneeded defense spending did help. Communism in the old Soviet Union was on the vurge of economic collapse for years. It died a long and suffering death, even though there are factions in Russia that want to return to it.

Part of the problem with the present Administration is they have a 19th century military thinking, along with 17th century science, when the world is in the 21st.

Posted by: C.T. Rich at July 30, 2006 4:21 PM
Comment #172092

My understanding is that NORAD’s daily operations would be consolidated at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. Cheyenne Mountain will be ket as a backup and also operational in the event it is needed again. This was all announced on July 28, 2006. Therefore, I would think the “mothball” analogy is a complete arror. They are simply moving operations.

Star Wars is inevitable. Man was made to explore and push the boundaries of civilization and consequently its own demise. Asking man not to explore weapon possibilities and sapce is like trying to stop Lewis & Clark from crossing to the Pacific.

Posted by: Curmudgeon-at-large at July 30, 2006 5:51 PM
Comment #172175

—-Stephen Daugherty—-Since there are the new
laser guns that can take out ten or more missiles
an will seek out an kill many more.

An these laser guns can go any where, they are
deadly accurate. That could be part of the reasons
for some of their changes. Star Wars is live
an well an totally functional as we speak. These guns are also completely automatic an become
Auto-Seekers on their own, some good news for once,

Posted by: DAVID at July 31, 2006 12:18 AM
Comment #172177

—-by the way Israel was offered these guns but
refused, some financial problem ? There would not have been one missile get past these lasers.

Posted by: DAVID at July 31, 2006 12:25 AM
Comment #172188

David, And what do we do on cloudy days?

Posted by: gergle at July 31, 2006 1:56 AM
Comment #172198
Clinton went slow on NMD, but it was an issue in the 2000 election where Gore promised to continue research.

Researching NMD is a fine idea, Jack. The problem is that Republicans are deploying it right now. Doesn’t it strike you as stupid to deploy a system that doesn’t work? Why would anyone — least of all supposedly conservative Republicans — support something wasteful like that?

Posted by: American Pundit at July 31, 2006 3:24 AM
Comment #172380


“Why would anyone — least of all supposedly conservative Republicans — support something wasteful like that?”

I suspect you already know. Most of the research and development, not to mention construciton, are probably taking place in their states. Deploying a non-functional defense system is foolish. I think everyone could agree to that.

The threat is not flying through the air. It is being shipped in from North Korea via China with 1 million cupie dolls. It is coming in through Canada with Ahmed, the recently nationalized Englishman from Saudi Arabia. It is being strapped to the backs of brainwashed Abu to be run into the front doors of any one of our embassies. It is constantly crossing the border from Mexico, virtually unimpeded, to wreak havoc on our border states educational systems and welfare departments and hospitals. It is sitting in the seats within the great walls of Congress, sucking the taxpayer dry, filling their own pockets, getting reelected, lieing through their taxpayer funded pearly white teeth.

vote them all out, clean the slate.

Posted by: Chi Chi at July 31, 2006 5:38 PM
Comment #172463

I’m not sure the Laser idea is necessarily that good. It takes a great deal of energy to destroy a missile with one, and you still have the issue of aiming at the right projectile. They’re going with Kill vehicles now in part because kinetic impact is actually more powerful in destroying the missile than any explosive.

Ken Strong-
The Soviet Union’s decline had been predicted for years by Sovietologists, who were then Red-teamed by a number of Neocons who then alleged that the Soviets were building everything up.

Truth was, the Soviets became a victim of an economy that could only in the end sell military goods and services to the world. SDI probably did more to create economic stresses for us than for the Soviets.

Practically speaking, SDI has mainly been a boondoggle because the computer isn’t smart enough to see past countermeasures that could cheaply be made by our enemies. Such a whole in our defense could mean that the defense only serves as a greater financial burden on us, without preventing any real problems.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 31, 2006 11:48 PM
Comment #172927

Honestly, has Bush, Cheney, Condi and Rummy even considered the threat posed by the Ori or the Wraith? Premature to shut down NORAD with those bad boys out there.

Posted by: Martin at August 2, 2006 10:10 PM
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