- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Cool to the warming propaganda

Kelly Jane Torrance’s article “Tall ‘Tale’?” (Show, Friday) asks a compelling question: How should we label documentaries that are short on veracity? Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” is illustrative. He presents graphs depicting trends derived from ice core borings that indicate changes in temperatures move lock step with changes in concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

From this he concludes that carbon dioxide is the principle cause of temperature change. He omits the fact that careful analysis reveals that changes in temperatures occur centuries before changes in carbon dioxide concentrations — which falsifies his conclusion.

Rep. Rush Holt, Democrat from New Jersey and a physicist, praised Mr. Gore’s effort as excellent public relations. Herein is the key to properly identifying this genre. Edward Bernays, the father of modern public relations, wrote that the successful practitioner selects only the facts that support the desired position and arranges them in a way to persuade the audience to come to the desired conclusion. This art is manifested in questionable documentaries and they should be categorized in honor of Mr. Bernays’ classic book on the art that he honestly titled “Propaganda.”


Fairfax, Va.

R.I.P ‘huckleberry’

John B. Roberts II’s column on Howard Bane (“Original CIA spymaster,” Op-Ed, Thursday) was a fascinating account of a truly memorable man. And he was absolutely accurate when he characterized Mr. Bane as not being given to self-promotion; I have lived next door to the Banes for the last 16 years, spoke with Mr. Bane often, and never knew most of what Mr. Roberts wrote about.

The Howard Bane I knew once dropped everything on a freezing January day to help me get my newborn daughter back to the hospital for jaundice tests. When it snowed, my sidewalk would magically get blown clear, and since Mr. Bane was the only one on the block with a snowblower, I can only conclude it was him. I tried to thank him, but he’d wave it off.

His favorite movie was “Tombstone” and he loved Doc Holliday’s line: “I’m your huckleberry.” I looked this up and learned it was slang for “I’m the right man for this job.” Howard Bane was our huckleberry in so many ways. He will be missed.



Strategic defense initiatives

Before responding to specific points raised by Peter Huessy (“Airborne laser debate continues,” Letters, Saturday), let us state unequivocally that we recognize the growing missile threat and are fully supportive of the urgent need of a missile defense. Where we differ from some other supporters is in stressing the need for assurance that this urgently needed defense will be effective. Testing in a realistic manner is the best way to provide our commander in chief the capability to intercept hostile missiles.

Like Mr. Huessy, we have been actively involved in strategic missile offense and defense for decades. Stanley Orman was the chief engineer for the development of the British offensive nuclear system Chevaline, designed specifically to penetrate the Soviet missile defense deployed around Moscow. Before signing the approval documentation for Chevaline to enter service in 1982, successful tests were conducted with missiles built in a production facility and fired by the Royal Navy from a submerged submarine. In short, the system was demonstrated to friend and foe to be fit for purpose.

Maj. Gen. Eugene Fox was a leader in the team that designed and tested the Homing Overlay Experiment (HOE) and the Flexible Lightweight Agile-Guided Experiment (FLAGE) program. The FLAGE supplied much of the new technology now used in the Patriot PAC III program. Those programs were the first demonstrations that the hit-to-kill capability now the basis for the missile interception systems under development by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) can be effective. Both programs were designed even before President Reagan made his now famous Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) speech in March 1983, and showed the United States could hit a bullet with a bullet.

In quoting his un-named senior acquisition official who favored the spiral development concept, Mr. Huessy used the phrase “as the system was tested and deployed.” Although we have severe reservations regarding the concept of spiral development because it has dispensed with the rigor of specific design and performance specifications, we could reluctantly accept the change in procedure if sufficient attention had been paid to final proving through realistic flight testing. Much of our concern stems from the absence of this phase of the work.

Mr. Huessy acknowledged that the Alaska facility was originally conceived as a test bed. The urgency of being able to respond to a possible North Korean missile attack in no way undermined the concept of proceeding as originally planned, and still using the test bed operationally if the need arose.

With regard to the airborne laser, Jim Hackett (“Defending against rockets,” Commentary, Sunday) has provided a balanced argument for funding the next stage of development. He acknowledges that more work has to be done to ascertain whether high-energy lasers will be practical weapons in future warfare.

We are well aware that MDA has invested in command, control, battle management and communication suites. These, like the items of hardware discussed previously, have all been exercised and tested individually and to a lesser extent in some system tests. But returning to our original concern, insufficient full system testing has been conducted on representative in-service equipment. Until such testing is successfully completed there remains uncertainty in the performance of the system.

We may be in danger of repeating ourselves but without a proven knowledge of how the basic system is capable of performing, it becomes problematic to make improvements by the addition of further elements such as the airborne laser.




Army (Retired)


Obama’s bold comments

In the article “Obama rules out nukes in terror war” (Nation, Friday), Sen. Barack Obama’s opponents criticize his decision to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan as indicative of his inexperience.

Mr. Obama’s comments were a bold step toward responsible nuclear policy. Keeping all options, including the nuclear option, open may be the reflex of most policy-makers, but considering the consequences is commendable. A nuclear first strike by the United States would shatter taboos against nuclear use, kill tens of thousands of civilians and render the regions uninhabitable.

Because this week marks the 62nd anniversary of the use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mr. Obama’s statement could not have come at a more appropriate time. The mass devastation and deaths from those bombings are good reasons to reconsider making nuclear threats. Mr. Obama should be lauded for ruling out another indiscriminate nuclear catastrophe should he become president.


Scoville fellow

Friends Committee on National





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