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According to Gen. Obering, the MDA director: “In January 2002, just a little more than five short years ago, the Secretary of Defense directed the Agency to restructure the missile defense program to deal with the urgency, enormity and complexity of developing, testing and building a missile defense system. This bold initiative required the adoption of an evolutionary acquisition strategy to be executed by a single agency, a strategy that relies on continual assessments of the threat, available technology, and what can be built and fielded to provide a militarily useful capability in an urgent manner.”

The “test firings” to which Mr. Orman and Gen. Fox refer were, in fact, actual intercepts.

The American people will not care on the day a North Korean or Iranian rocket is launched at an American city that there was no defense because we were still engaging in endless “realistic operational testing” for the 10th year or 100th test. They will want to know why a technology our hardworking and patriotic defense workers had produced was not deployed for lack of political courage. The Constitution says “provide for the common defense.” Let us get on with it.

PETER HUESSY

President

GeoStrategic Analysis

Potomac

Gibran academy gets bum rap

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. inflames opinion about Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), a secular public school in New York City open to all students, subject to law and overseen by a chancellor who has said he will not tolerate the promotion of religion or political ideology (“War of ideas’ homefront,” Commentary, July 24).

KGIA will teach New York state’s mandated curriculum, supplemented by additional instruction around a theme, in this case Arabic language and culture. This theme-school model has proved highly popular and successful in New York City, with graduation rates 20 points above the city average. In addition, the school’s principal, who has nearly 15 years’ experience in the public school system, will be held directly accountable for the performance of her students in core subjects. The school will receive a grade based on its record of improving performance. All of the teachers will be state-certified and will use materials approved for all New York City public schools in core content areas. For Arabic instruction, the school will use translations of classic American children’s books published by Scholastic.

At a time when the need for Arabic speakers is so dire that the Bush administration has pumped millions of dollars into a national security effort to create more Arabic speakers, public school systems across the country should look to KGIA as a model for helping prepare American students for the world in which they’ll live.

DAVID CANTOR

New York City