The House is scheduled this week to take up a bill that would require the Pentagon to start work on a missile defense system to protect the East Coast from Iranian or North Korean long-range nuclear missiles.
The bill would require the Defense Department to conduct an environmental-impact statement by the end of next year with an operational site in place “not later than the end of 2015.”
Seems a bit speedy, but there’s a quick $100 million in the bill for surveys and planning and such.
Sure, the Iranians and North Koreans don’t have long-range missiles (yet), and the Iranians — best we can tell — don’t have any nukes.
And sure, the general in charge of the North American Aerospace Defense Command has said “today’s threats do not require an East Coast” site and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said last week that we don’t need one.
But what do they know? As Fleetwood Mac told us, “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.”
And what about coastal parity? The West Coast already has two interceptor sites, one in Alaska with 27 missiles and one in California with three.
Granted, the program — price tag about $24 billion so far — doesn’t have a great track record knocking down missiles in tests. But why should we spend all that money to protect Hollywood, for crying out loud? We want an interceptor site, too!
The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday estimated that the cost for 20 interceptors would be only $3.6 billion from 2013 to 2017 — missiles, site prep and facilities included. That’s a bargain!
House Republicans may have the votes to pass the bill, though the Democratic Senate will probably neuter it, as it did last year.
Maybe the Senate doesn’t like it because there’s no protection against nuclear-tipped missiles fired from future Iranian or North Korean submarines or from long-range bombers or yachts offshore?
Or maybe the problem is where to put the interceptors? After all, Alaska deployment is easy. Our coast is a bit more congested.
Loop Fans can help keep America safe!
Yes, it’s the Loop “Pick the Site” contest. Where should the missiles go?
Maybe we could circle Manhattan with interceptors to protect the job creators on Wall Street? Or group them at the Baseball Hall of Fame in central New York to protect the national pastime? Hide them in the Epcot theme park in Orlando? Put a few in Chincoteague to protect the wild ponies?
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One might presume that Oliver North, who as a Marine lieutenant colonel helped broker the sale of weapons to Iran (as in Iran-contra), might know something about “black ops.”
Which explains why he’s now a spokesman for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, the military-themed blow-’em-up video game. As with Wilford Brimley and oatmeal or O.J. Simpson and rental cars, North has a certain amount of . . . cachet, and definite credibility with the product he’s selling.
His debut as video-game hawker was covered in the gaming press earlier this month, but we just caught up with the video. In a short trailer promoting the new game, North appears, his image intercut with footage of drones, explosions and troops. The lighting is moody and the background music edgy.
“I don’t think the average American grasps how violent war is about to become,” he intones ominously, in a voice that approximates the gravelly tones of Clint Eastwood’s recent Chrysler ads.
North raises the specter of American weapons turned against us by hackers, then posits an even more apocalyptic scenario. “I don’t worry about the guy who wants to hijack a plane,” he says. “I worry about the guy who wants to hijack all the planes.”
And North isn’t just a pitchman for the game; he also helped create it. He served as a consultant to the team developing it, contributing ideas for story lines, we hear.
The tables are turning on House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. The California Republican is plenty used to dishing out the subpoenas — as of February, he had issued two dozen — but now he’s getting a taste of his own medicine.
Issa has been called to testify in the trial of baseball legend Roger Clemens, who is accused of lying to Congress about steroid use. In disclosures to the House on Wednesday, Issa said he and the committee have been served subpoenas for the trial taking place in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
An Issa spokesman said his boss and the committee would consult with the House general counsel “about the appropriate response to meet obligations in this matter.”
With Emily Heil
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