faith-based missile defense
In the world of military spending--including the war Bush hasn't said how he plans to pay for, and the enormous package of
bribes incentives the Administration is offering the reluctant Turkish government for their cooperation--this lovely little item almost went unnoticed: an unprecedented funding increase for Bush's missile-defense pipedream, coupled with an exemption for the standard oversight intended to ensure the thing actually works.
First, it totals $9.1 billion. That's nearly three times what Reagan managed to spend on the program in any of his years in office and a 20 percent increase over the $7.5 billion that Congress gave Bush last year—completing the transformation of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency from an insular research shop into one of the flushest branches of the U.S. armed forces.
Second, to go with the big boost, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has asked Congress to exempt Missile Defense from the law that requires all weapons systems to undergo operational tests before being deployed in the field. Carl Levin, the Senate Armed Services Committee's ranking Democrat (and the only lawmaker raising a fuss about this move), noted that the purpose of this law is "to prevent the production and fielding of a weapon system that doesn't work right." Yet Rumsfeld, justifying the bypass, said, "We need to get something out there," in case, say, North Korea attacks us with ballistic missiles soon." [Ed: There's a tremendous vote of confidence in the Administration's ability to deal with a crisis...]
By the MDA's own admission, the $9.1 billion—on top of the $73 billion appropriated for missile-defense R&D over the past 19 years—buys little, if any, protection in the near future; ...in the longer run, again by their own testimony, the MDA's managers don't know where the program is going, what it will look like, when it will be finished, or how much it will cost; and ...the program is still technologically immature—some of its most vital elements have yet to be built, even as prototypes.
(continued in the next post)