Going Ballistic

Pentagon Fires on Critical Scientist

The military also seems to have learned from its past embarrassments. When he critiqued the Patriot, Postol had ready access to videos taken by news organizations, the military, and even the defense contractor, Raytheon. Such documentation will be in short supply should anyone wish to analyze the technological stars of the Afghanistan campaign—"smart" bombs. Government officials claim that laser-guided bombs are accurate to within 10 feet, and that satellite-guided ordnance can maintain precision even under smoky or cloudy conditions. But Postol doubts independent researchers can ever obtain enough information to verify those claims. "The data is going to be held very closely," he says. "It's going to be very tough to do." After all, there is no better way to silence criticism than to prevent it altogether.


Brendan I. Koerner is a Markle Fellow at the New America Foundation.

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