MoveOn.org's bigotry problem
I read Robert Goldberg's Wednesday Op-Ed column, "Do the right thing." My own review of the DailyKos uncovered the same kind of hate speech Mr. Goldberg described, and much of it was similar to the hate speech found at MoveOn.org's Action Forum. Though "Jew gassing is something to be hidden or uprated (whatever that means) but nothing to be ashamed of at the DailyKos," statements about Jews controlling all the media and Jews manipulating countries for their own benefit and about "Catholic Pedophiles of America" and denunciations of prominent African-Americans as house slaves received very high approval ratings from the MoveOn.org community.
Last year, Mr. Goldberg, Jan Poller and I proved that, contrary to MoveOn's claim that it learned about the hate speech last August, MoveOn's moderators knew about this hate speech and exercised editorial control in its favor. That is, comments critical of MoveOn.org or the hate speech were deleted, and their originators' accounts were blocked from posting, but the hate speech was allowed to stand. In addition, MoveOn's official bulletins and a derogatory photomanipulation of Pope Benedict XVI may have encouraged the hate speech. Therefore, any political candidate who accepts MoveOn's support or endorsement should be disqualified for lack of character and integrity, just as if he or she accepted support from the Klan.
WILLIAM A. LEVINSON
Airborne laser debate continues
Stanley Orman and Maj. Gen. Eugene Fox ("Missile defense concerns," Letters, Thursday) continue their misguided criticism of the Airborne Laser (ABL) and Ground Based Mid-Course (GBM) deployments in Alaska and California. Having been involved in strategic missile and missile-defense deployments for the past 24 years on an almost daily basis, I am concerned about these unfounded criticisms.
First, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is not calling for the deployment of "as-yet-unproven systems." The ABL will do an operationally realistic, airborne live shoot-down of a ballistic missile in mid-2009. The midcourse system has had successful intercepts.
The MDA has spent an enormous amount of effort in system-integration work and has deployed a global command and control system. ABL's integrated flight tests will demonstrate the overall command, control, battle management and communications (C2BMC) system capability. According to MDA: "Since 2002 we have fielded and completed the initial integration of land- and sea-based interceptors, mobile and fixed sensors and command, control, battle management, and communications suites to deliver one of the most complex and comprehensive defensive capabilities ever envisioned."
While the ABL will indeed be a high-value target, the Air Force fleet of tankers and advanced early warning planes is equally important, yet none has ever been lost to enemy fire. In any realistic operational assessment of the value and role of the ABL, other weapons systems will be part of any U.S. and allied military presence. The ABL will have a range of hundreds of kilometers, which would be highly capable of shooting down interceptors with air-to-air missiles with ranges in the tens of kilometers. In addition, the Air Force has published a working concept of operations.
Mr. Orman and Gen. Fox make much of life-cycle costs. The assessments to date have put the ABL life-cycle costs over 20 years at around $14 billion to $20 billion. This compares to costs in the hundreds of billions for carrier battle groups. However, the economic loss from an attack on the Arabian Peninsula oil fields from Iranian rocket attacks would dwarf the costs of any missile-defense deployments, including the Aegis, Patriot and ABL. The director of MDA, Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering, has spoken highly of the ABL program; the House Appropriations Committee fully funded ABL; and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor program received an additional $148 million above the MDA budget request, positive actions that Mr. Orman and Gen. Fox dismiss.
The deployed ground-based systems were, in fact, designated as a test bed. However, as the seriousness of the North Korean missile threat became obvious, it became necessary to use the test bed for operational rocket launches if needed to intercept a warhead launched by Pyongyang. By comparison, we maintain 450 Minuteman missiles in our nuclear deterrent, yet we have never fired a Minuteman missile out of an operational silo but out of test assets at Vandenberg Air Force Base. We have redone the entire Minuteman guidance and propulsion systems fleet, and we continue to test assets even as it remains a bulwark on alert providing for our defense.
As the senior acquisition and science and technology official in the previous administration (who asked me not to use his name) told Congress early in 2001, it made excellent sense to acquire missile defenses with spiral development, in a manner that allowed incremental and technological improvements as the system was tested and deployed, rather than waiting for some predetermined end before declaring a defense technology either proven or available.
What Mr. Orman and Gen. Fox apparently do not wish to acknowledge is that the United States is at war with an enemy that has vowed to destroy us and our allies, especially Israel, with ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads. We do not have the luxury of waiting to deploy defenses on a timeline that makes the green-eyeshade folks in the acquisition shops happy but leaves America defenseless. That is why this administration moved forthrightly to adopt spiral development as a process to move missile defenses forward rapidly.
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.
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.
New York City