March 26, 2007

In July, the Washington Examiner ran an item that said the U.S. has a system in place that “is poised to shoot down anything launched from North Korea that threatens the American homeland or the critical interests of our regional allies like Japan and Australia.” This development, the piece argued, has led long-time skeptics to become “noticeably absent,” as if our defenses have finally reached a point that proved the merit behind the missile-defense idea.

Around the same time, while Kim Jung Il was poised to start testing his missiles, our defense system was having some trouble. Apparently, it was raining.

Torrential rains wiped out a quarter of the U.S.’ intercontinental ballistic missile interceptors in Ft. Greely, Alaska last summer — right when North Korea was preparing to carry out an advanced missile launch, according to documents obtained by the Project On Government Oversight.

“The flooding occurred during a three-week period between the end of June and early July 2006,” POGO notes, in a statement. “The flooding damaged 25% of the U.S. interceptor missiles’ launch capability. These silos house the interceptor missiles that would be used to attempt to intercept a missile aimed at the United States. No interceptors were in the flooded silos.”

Noah Shachtman asked, “What exactly are we getting, for the $9 billion a year we’re paying for missile defense? And why can’t it take a little (ok, a whole bunch of) rain?”

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