- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2005

Blame Mr. Angelos

With regard to your story about declining ticket sales for the Baltimore Orioles (“Orioles ticket sales fall in 2005,” Page 1, Wednesday): Club officials are blaming it mainly on the arrival of the Washington Nationals. What a load of pine tar.

I live in Baltimore. I was born and raised here. And I’m one of the many who haven’t purchased any Orioles tickets for the 2005 season. It has nothing to do with the Washington Nationals. It has to do with the facts that the team stinks, the ticket prices are too high, the cost of a hot dog is too high, and the cost of parking is too high.

The fact that the team has added a temperamental has-been slugger, Sammy Sosa, who is tainted by the steroid scandal, further dissuades me from plunking down my hard-earned money for an afternoon or evening at Camden Yards.

I grew up when the Orioles were managed by Earl Weaver and had players such as Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell and Jim Palmer. That was before Peter Angelos bought the club and ruined it.

Rather than blame Washington’s new team for slumping ticket sales, Mr. Angelos ought to look at how he has systematically destroyed this once-great baseball organization.

Physician, heal thyself. Better yet, sell.

CHUCK MUTH

Baltimore

Debating missile defense

I wanted to take this opportunity to address some of the outrageous comments Peter Huessy made in his Tuesday Op-Ed column, “Defending missile defense.”

From the perspective of missile defense proponents, Mr. Huessy repeatedly refers to “our critics” in his commentary when referring to members of Congress who have raised legitimate concerns about the Bush administration’s approach to missile defense.

He is not an administration official. Nor does he work for the Missile Defense Agency, and he is not an elected official serving on a committee that has direct responsibility for reviewing the missile defense budget. Because Mr. Huessy feels the need to disparage members of Congress, including myself and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., I believe it is useful to correct his several misleading comments about missile defense.

Without speaking for my colleagues, I have always been supportive of a missile defense system that works. I believe the Pentagon, working with Congress, has a duty to explore any promising technology that has the potential to protect the American people.

Let me be clear: Protecting the American people should be our highest priority. We should not rush to deploy a system that has not been tested just to meet an arbitrary deadline or have a photo op.

Serious concerns have been raised with all aspects of the Missile Defense Agency’s approach to providing a missile shield — from the development of the system to the focus of the program to the adequacy of the testing to the cost in taxpayer dollars of a program, more than $85 billion since 1985 — that has failed to shoot down a single ballistic missile under realistic conditions.

Although Mr. Huessy may not appreciate the value of congressional oversight, I intend to keep paying close attention to the administration’s budget requests for missile defense and asking relevant questions until we have an effective system that actually defends against a missile attack.

REP. ELLEN O. TAUSCHER

U.S. House

Armed Services Committee

Washington

In a recent Op-Ed column, Peter Huessy writes, “Former Department of Defense official Philip Coyle says we should test for 10 to 12 years.”

This is not correct. What I have said is that the Missile Defense Agency itself — not me — has laid out a set of 20 to 30 developmental flight-intercept tests for its Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system that could take decades.

The last successful flight-intercept test was well more than two years ago, and at this rate, it could take 50 years to successfully complete those 20 to 30 developmental tests, and this does not include the time for realistic operational testing to follow. Testing for 10 or 12 years is the least of the agency’s problems.

The United States has been testing various continental missile defenses for more than 40 years, but none has been shown to be effective against enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles under realistic operational conditions.

The Missile Defense Agency has claimed that the system being deployed in Alaska and California could be 80 percent effective, but, considering recent flight-test failures, this cannot be true. The three most recent flight-intercept tests have failed, and in two of those, the interceptor failed even to get off the ground. If those tests are any measure, the system being deployed is closer to zero percent effective than to 80 percent.

The Missile Defense Agency could demonstrate the real operational capability of the GMD system in just a few tests if those tests were conducted the way it is being deployed. But this would mean relying on existing satellites and radars because the more sensitive Space-Based Infrared System satellites and seagoing X-band radars are years behind schedule and unavailable to detect and track an enemy launch.

It also would mean no longer relying on information from the “enemy” on the exact date, time and location of launch; intended target; flight trajectory of the enemy missile; and advanced descriptions of the target re-entry vehicle and other objects, decoys or countermeasures in the target cluster. It also would mean removing the artificial targeting aids (GPS and radar beacons) that have been flown on the surrogate targets in all the flight-intercept tests so far.

In the five successful tests to which Mr. Huessy refers, the defenders have had early warning and detailed information about the “enemy” missile, including tracking beacons on the targets, that no enemy would intentionally provide.

To have confidence in the GMD system, Congress and the American public need successful tests in which the Missile Defense Agency withdraws — one by one — such artificial targeting aids. Because the system is still early in development, it would be unwise to take all these aids off at once.

If deprived of all this information today, the system would be expected to fail. Successful tests, with the uncertainties and lack of warning of realistic battle, will show whether it is the critics or the proponents who have unrealistic expectations.

PHILIP COYLE

Senior adviser

Center for Defense Information

Former assistant secretary of defense for testing and evaluation

Washington

It’s no surprise that Dr. Neal Barnard believes chocolate is addictive, because milk chocolate is the most popular American variety (“Chocolate’s dark little secret,” Metropolitan, March 22). Dr. Barnard, a career animal rights activist who is president of both the PETA Foundation and the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, has also concocted the idea that meat and milk are addictive, comparing them to heroin. At a recent FDA hearing, Dr. Barnard referred to milk as a “drug” and even called cheese “morphine on a cracker” and “dairy crack.”

When Americans start holding up convenience stores to get their next cocoa “fix,” Dr. Barnard’s crazy addiction theories about dairy foods might merit a second look. Until then, they’re just the rantings of an animal rights activist.

DAVID MARTOSKO

Director of research

Center for Consumer Freedom

Washington

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