September 25, 2001

September 25, 2001 | News Releases on Department of Homeland Security

For Missile Defense, Analyst Says

WASHINGTON, Sep. 25, 2001-The "homeland defense" policy being contemplated by Congress must include a defense against ballistic missiles, which almost certainly will be the future weapon of choice for terrorists, says a new Heritage Foundation paper.

"They're clearly escalating their tactics," says Baker Spring, Heritage's Kirby research fellow in national security policy. "They used to kill small groups to scare and intimidate large numbers of people. Now they're killing large numbers to frighten and demoralize whole nations. Missiles are the next logical step."

This isn't mere conjecture, Spring says. A commission headed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warned Congress in 1998 that terrorist-sponsoring nations such as North Korea and Iran were developing long-range missiles that soon would be capable of directly threatening U.S. territory. North Korea's "next generation" missile, he notes, has a range of more than 6,000 miles, which would put the entire western half of the United States at risk.

As U.S. airports become more secure, he says, terrorists will be forced to reach for the next option-and that means missiles. Consider what Libyan leader Muammar Quadhafi told his followers after the U.S. military responded to his bombing of a Berlin discotheque in 1986: "If we had possessed a deterrent-missiles that could reach New York-we would have hit it at the same moment."

Congress and President Bush shouldn't feel the need to choose between missile defense and homeland defense, Spring says. "We can-indeed, we must-have both."

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