Inside the Ring

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The CRS report stated that the Russians viewed prompt global strike missiles as undermining strategic stability. U.S. negotiators countered that the Pentagon does not plan to target them on Russia, nor would the U.S. deploy enough such weapons to threaten Moscow’s strategic deterrent.

Those promises are what U.S. officials say has concerned treaty critics in the Senate. Additionally, START’s preamble mentions that both parties are “mindful of the impact of conventionally armed ICBMs and SLBMs on strategic stability.”

Despite the limits, a State Department fact sheet said the treaty “does not contain any constraints on current or planned U.S. conventional prompt global strike capability,” an assurance about constraints (“any current or planned”) much more emphatic than Gen. Cartwright’s (“any noteworthy”).

Another problem for the treaty is that the Obama administration has refused requests by senators to give the Senate the official transcript of the negotiating record. Congressional aides said the reason is that the record will likely reveal embarrassing assurances and concessions that were provided to the Russians in order to win Moscow’s support.

Mystery plume update

The Pentagon and Federal Aviation Administration remain convinced that the mystery plume captured on video off the coast of Los Angeles was a jet condensation trail (or “contrail”).

FAA spokeswoman Laura J. Brown told Inside the Ring that the agency’s radar records and the lack of exact coordinates of plume prevented pinpointing the specific aircraft flight thought to have made the contrail.

However, extensive analysis and publicly available FAA data led the website contrailscience.com to conclude the contrail was UPS Flight 902 from Honolulu to Los Angeles, Ms. Brown said.

“We looked at all of the radar data out to about 100 miles and could not detect any unidentified fast-moving targets in the time frame the TV station indicated that they shot the footage,” she said.

Ms. Brown said FAA did not have the level of detail used by contrailscience.com “so we did not come to any definitive conclusions about whether this was one specific flight or another.”

What FAA can say conclusively is that “we don’t have any radar data to indicate that any other fast-moving targets were operating in that airspace besides the aircraft that we could identify and knew were there.”

“We’re not the experts on the meteorological conditions that would lead to contrails.”

Pentagon spokesman Dave Lapan also said the plume was a jet condensation trail. “We still believe the contrail to have been caused by an aircraft,” he said.

Amos and gays

The staff of Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, is not happy with the way some news organizations quoted the general’s views on repealing the military’s ban on gays, known as the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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