View Single Post
Old 01-07-2004, 09:56 AM
Fear Itself is offline
Cecil's Inner Circle
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Flavortown
Posts: 35,840
Let's fight some ignorance right now.

It's a fact Loral Space and Communications hired the Chinese to launch one of their satellites two years ago because Chinese rocket launches are relatively cheap. Technically, that is an export of a U.S. satellite to China.

But Loral says the Chinese never got their hands on the satellite itself. And Pentagon officials confirm sensitive technology was encased in a metal "black box" and watched over from factory to launch pad by Department of Defense employees.

There has been bipartisan support for such launches. President Ronald Reagan first initiated the policy 10 years ago. And President George Bush approved nine while Clinton has approved 11, according to the Congressional Research Service.

But concerns have heated up. To launch satellites, China used "Long March" boosters, the same ones they use for intercontinental nuclear missiles, some said to be aimed at U.S. cities.

They weren't very good. The one carrying Loral's satellite blew up 30 seconds after launch on Feb. 15, 1996, costing Loral's insurance companies about $200 million.

Afterward Loral admits it gave the Chinese a written report about the cause of the rocket failure, without official clearance. A Pentagon office concluded in a still-secret report that "United States national security has been harmed," according to government officials. And Loral confirms it is now under investigation by a federal grand jury as a result.

And one House International Relations Committee source, speaking to CNN on background, said the committee plans to focus its investigation on this cooperation.

Loral's chairman Bernard Schwartz denies Loral did anything illegal. In its own defense, Loral says Chinese engineers found the problem -- the rocket failure was caused by bad solder joints -- without Loral's help. And they say "no 'secret' or 'classified' information was ever discussed with the Chinese or included in any reports provided to the Chinese."

Privately, Pentagon officials minimize the affair. One told CNN that the alleged harm to national security was "not significant or substantial ... about a one or two on a scale of ten."
This is a favorite chestnut that gets dragged out by the Rabid Right, and it gets embellished with each telling. They are getting scared about the prospect of running against Howard Dean in the next election, and would prefer to run against Bill Clinton; having lost to him twice, they figure the third time is the charm.