PANIC! Missouri Congressman Warns Of Imminent Nuclear Threat To Seattle (And The Rest Of Your Scritti Politti)

07/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

CORRECTION: The headline of this post originally said Akin was from Alabama. ARGH, he is from Missouri. I don't know why I said he was from Alabama. Thanks to Anne Clausen, Merry Leonard, and Judy Grim for being johnnies-on-the-spot with the correction, and mea maxima culpa for my idiotic Miss(ouri)-state-ment.


If you cast your mind back to yesterday, on these pages, we made note of Supergenius Congressman Todd Akin, who doesn't understand why ANYONE would be opposed to climate change, because how else would the cold winter months give way to warm springs and summers. Come on! This stuff is academic! Well, people are going to start taking Akin a hell of a lot more seriously. Why? BECAUSE HOLY NUTS SEATTLE IS ABOUT TO BE NUKED BY NORTH KOREA!

In an email with the forboding title "What if..." Akin expounds at length:

Now more than ever we need to continue a robust investment in missile defense. Cutting or canceling missile defense programs in the face of growing threats from North Korea and other rogue regimes will weaken the national security of our country and increase the threats from these governments that menace the safety and security of our allies and our own shores.

The Missile Defense Agency budget proposed this year by the Obama Administration strips $1.4 billion and calls for canceling or cutting major programs such as the Airborne Laser, Multiple Kill Vehicle, and the installation of additional Ground-Based Interceptor missiles in Alaska.

But wait? What will restoring funding to these programs actually accomplish? And what "other rogue regimes" have nukes that will threaten us? And don't North Korea's missiles have the tendency to sort of not get out of the Sea of Japan? Non-proliferation expert Joe Cirincione told ThinkProgress:

If we thought that North Korea was about to launch a long-range missile with a nuclear warhead, the president should and could destroy the missile on the launch pad. The North's missiles are liquid-fueled, still relatively basic and take several days to transport to the launch pad, assemble and fuel. They are large, stationary, relatively easy targets for U.S. forces.

This "pre-boost phase" intercept" has always been my favorite form of missile defense. A commander would be a fool to wait until after an enemy had launched a missile to see of one of the anti-missile systems we deploy could intercept it. Tests indicated that the Aegis system deployed on Navy ships could not hit a Taepodong missile in its boost-phase, rising from North Korea. Nor could the Ground-Based Missile Defense System deployed in Alaska hit the missile in its mid-course phase if the North deployed even the simplest of counter-measures such as decoys, chaff or jammers.

The missile now crawling to the pad in North Korea does not pose a serious threat to the United States, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pointed out this weekend (and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley concluded following a similar July 2006 test). There is no evidence that North Korea has or is close to having a nuclear warhead that could fit on a long-range missile. That would take more tests and more years to perfect. Nor do they yet have a working long-range missile. If the North tests again it will be only the fourth test of a long-range missile in 11 years. None have worked so far.

That sounds pretty reasonable. Very reasonable. Okay. I'm calming down. Nerves are soothed. Heart rate returning to normal. Hey, what's this picture Akin sent with his email?


Everyone's a Critic: Matt Yglesias finds Mark Kleiman enumerating the many people who responded negatively to Obama's speech in Cairo: "Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, John Bolton, Hugh Hewitt, and the Republican Jewish Coalition, and John Boehner all disliked the President's speech." So, then...where's the downside, precisely?

For Dick Cheney Debunkery Completists: More more more from's Sarabeth. A highlight: Remember, yesterday, how Liz Cheney claimed that "Once it became clear that the report [about Mohammed Atta] didn't hold up, [Dick Cheney] and others in the administration were out publicly saying that." Well, two years after that report didn't "hold up," guess what Dick Cheney was saying?

Rocky Mountain News on January 9, 2004:

CHENEY: On the separate issue, on the 9/11 question, we've never had confirmation one way or another. We did have reporting that was public, that came out shortly after the 9/11 attack, provided by the Czech government, suggesting there had been a meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker, and a man named al-Ani (Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani), who was an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague, at the embassy there, in April of '01, prior to the 9/11 attacks. It has never been -- we've never been able to collect any more information on that. That was the one that possibly tied the two together to 9/11.

Black Box Reporting: Choire Sicha, of the Awl, has a great piece up that demonstrates what a terrible job newspapers traditionally do with airline mishaps and tragedies. Overdramatization, supposition, projection, and just plain terrible writing show up as culprits.

Look Who Is Awling Now: Oh, looky! Ana Marie Cox and I have put silly captions on photos from the White House Flickr pool, because that is what she and I do on weekends now that Battlestar Galactica is off the air.

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