Navy Will Attempt to Down Spy Satellite
Bush Orders Destruction, Citing Hazardous Fuel
By Marc Kaufman and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 15, 2008; A01
A Navy cruiser in the Pacific Ocean will try an unprecedented shoot-down of an out-of-control, school-bus-size U.S. spy satellite loaded with a toxic fuel as it begins its plunge to Earth, national security officials said yesterday.
The announcement set off an immediate debate on defense blogs and among experts who questioned whether there is an ulterior motive. Some experts said the military is seizing an opportunity to test its controversial missile defense system against a satellite target.
"There has to be another reason behind this," said Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a liberal arms-control advocacy organization. "In the history of the space age, there has not been a single human being who has been harmed by man-made objects falling from space."
If it hits the ground, it could leak gas and cause potentially fatal injury over an area of the size of about two football fields, he said, adding that "this is all about trying to reduce the danger to human beings."
If I had to choose between getting hit with a bus-sized satellite filled with hazardous fuel or a government cover-up that could further jeopardize international relations...I would choose the latter. And that, I realize, is why I am just a cog in the fear-machine.
It's also why, in the movie version of this news story, I'm one of the extras seen watching the announcement on television.