|ICBM defense test in California
Hypocrisy, thy name is Alabama.
The successful intercept test was launched on Tuesday from a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. That was encouraging news in a time of heightening tensions with North Korea. But it prompted massive amounts of political hypocrisy in Alabama.
Yellowhammer News (YH), a right-wing propaganda Web site, reported with jubilation that the ICBM defense system was housed, and largely had been created, at Boeing's site in Huntsville, Alabama. From the YH report:
In a critical exercise over the Pacific Ocean yesterday, the U.S. Military successfully intercepted a mock ballistic missile similar to the ones North Korea has been testing or attempting to test. The mock target was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the same type weapon North Korea would use to deliver nuclear payloads if it attempted a real strike on the United States.
Huntsville, Alabama is the proud home of the defense system used yesterday that is so critical to our national security. Built by Boeing, the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) was recently featured in an article by Forbes as the only system that can successfully protect the U.S. from an ICBM. Yesterday’s exercise again proves its capability in detecting and destroying these advanced ballistic missiles.
As Boeing stated, “GMD is an integral element of the United States’ layered ballistic missile defense architecture, with interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base and Fort Greely, Alaska. The program comprises command-and-control facilities, communications terminals and a 20,000-mile fiber-optic communications network that interfaces with ballistic missile defense radars and other sensors.”
So, right-wingers now are proud to have Boeing in Alabama. A few years ago, those same wingers opposed Boeing in the bidding for a $40-billion tanker-refueling contract. That's mainly because the competition, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS), planned to build a large assembly plant near Mobile, Alabama. The competition was so fierce that journalist/attorney Andrew Kreig reported at Huffington Post that the political prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman likely was driven, in part, by desires to land the project for EADS. From our post on the Kreig report:
According to an article by veteran attorney and journalist Andrew Kreig, Siegelman was prosecuted as part of a broad, Republican-driven campaign to land the $35-billion contract for the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS).
How did Siegelman get caught up in a heated competition that pits EADS against U.S.-based Boeing? If it wins the contract, EADS has pledged to build a large assembly plant near Mobile, Alabama. And Kreig's sources say "pro business" forces in Alabama decided the state would stand a better chance of landing the assembly plant if a Republican was governor instead of Siegelman, a Democrat.
The Republican turned out to be Bob Riley, who defeated Siegelman in 2002 when votes for the Democrat mysteriously disappeared overnight in heavily Republican Baldwin County, near Mobile.
Kreig's reporting had the ring of truth, according to the man at the center of it:
Siegelman himself has discussed the possibilities that his ties to Boeing helped make him a target. Writes Kreig:
The EADS-led plan would replace Boeing Corp., the previous tanker builder. Years ago, EADS used competitive intelligence agents to show that Boeing had bribed an Air Force procurement officer. My article noted that an EADS victory would enable an assembly plant in Alabama, as advocated by four European heads of state, major global financiers and some U.S. politicians.
"The ring of truth in the article," Siegelman wrote me last week after publication and follow-up, "is that Republicans wanted EADS, and I was close to Boeing because I had helped them expand their National Missile Defense Center in Huntsville and had them locate a manufacturing facility for the Delta IV and Delta II Rockets in Decatur, AL."
Richard Shelby so bitterly opposed Boeing on the tanker contract that he put a hold on many of President Barack Obama's federal nominees. When EADS lost the contract competition, Shelby pouted and took a shot at Obama, blaming it on "Chicago politics."
But Shelby was aglow after Boeing's ICBM-defense system passed a big test on Tuesday. From the YN report:
Senator Richard Shelby provided a great summary of the test on his Facebook page, writing “Great news for our country and for Huntsville! Yesterday the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), based on Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal, successfully intercepted and destroyed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) target during the first live-fire test of MDA’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. The GMD is designed to stop missiles – such as North Korean missiles – during the midcourse of their flight through space. This is critical in defending our homeland from U.S. adversaries.”
Alabamians probably will keep sending Shelby to Congress when he is a corpse. But they should remember that he is a world-class phony -- and he's un-American, too. The EADS proposal, as we reported in 2011, was not all that good for Alabama, and it certainly was not good for the United States. It mainly would have been good for Alabama politicos, like Shelby and Jeff Sessions (who seemingly can't accomplish anything these days without running into a Russian ambassador):
The pro-EADS crowd cited the contract as a possible jobs bonanza for Alabama. But our source says that is way overstated. Most of the jobs in Alabama would have been in construction and would have been over in two to three years, our source says. The actual manufacturing would have been done mostly by workers in France, Spain, and Italy, with aluminum from Russia. About 2,700 permanent workers would have put those parts together in Mobile. But the Boeing deal, our source says, means about 50,000 jobs in America--from Washington to South Carolina and several points in between. Boeing has a major presence in north Alabama, and the contract is likely to mean a growth in jobs for that part of the state.Bottom line: The EADS deal would have been a moderate boost for Alabama, but it would have been a major net negative for our country. Richard Shelby, of course, didn't care, as long as the outcome made him look good. That's why he's crowing about Boeing now.
Selfishness, thy name is Alabama.
Here is video of Tuesday's missile-intercept test: