Look to the Skies

In a column in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, Ray Lemoine, co-author of Babylon by Bus, recounted his recent brush with the Department of Homeland Security. Lemoine was stopped at JFK airport while returning from Dubai. He'd been red-flagged because of a former job. Lemoine isn't a retired shoe-bomber or an ex-terrorist mastermind– a few years ago, he used sell bootleg t-shirts at sporting events. “Why did you infringe on the Boston Celtics' copyright in Boston in 2003?” the man from Homeland Security demanded to know.

Lemoine's story will be unsurprising to anyone who has been paying attention to the Bush administration's farcical approach to homeland security, though it would be surprising if the Bush administration ever responded to the critics of its incompetence in security matters with any reply other than the accusation that critics have a “pre-9/11 mentality”. “Pre-9/11 mentality” are the Bush administration's magic words for dismissing the opinions of just about anyone. But yesterday in Geneva, the administration demonstrated it unswerving loyalty to a particularly dangerous bit of pre-9/11 thinking.

Back in the early days of the Bush the Lesser Era, the administration was dedicated to ignoring decades of international understanding, and a treaty, and really making space the final frontier by building and deploying orbital weapon systems. This idea was denounced by just about everybody who wasn't on the Bush payroll, and was widely seen at the time as an indication of just how out of touch with reality Donald Rumsfeld was. The idea faded into to the background after 9/11, but yesterday in Geneva it came roaring back.

As Reuters reports:

The United States on Tuesday reasserted its right to develop weapons for use in outer space to protect its military and commercial satellites and ruled out any global negotiations on a new treaty to limit them….

John Mohanco, deputy director of the office of multilateral, nuclear and security affairs, said the United States faced a threat of attacks from the earth or from other countries' spacecraft. He did not name any potential attackers.

Of course he didn't name any potential attackers. Who was he going to name? The broke Russians? Al-Qaeda's space program? The Klingons?

Weapon systems in space were long ago recognized as a dreadful idea, because of their destabilizing potential. That's why there's a treaty against them. But you know the Bush administration and treaties.

A 1967 U.N. treaty bans weapons of mass destruction from space, but some experts believe the United States would not shy away from withdrawing from the pact.

In 2002, it pulled out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty to begin deploying a missile defense shield.

Remember the missile defense shield? Remember Star Wars/SDI? Remember how it doesn't work? You might think that would cause the Bush administration to have second thoughts about pulling out of a long established international accord to pursue a fanciful defense scheme– but, of course, the Bush administration has never allowed reality to stand in its way.

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