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Astropolítica

"Se se pudessem interrogar as estrelas perguntar-lhes-ia se as maçam mais os astrónomos ou os poetas." Pitigrilli

Astropolítica

"Se se pudessem interrogar as estrelas perguntar-lhes-ia se as maçam mais os astrónomos ou os poetas." Pitigrilli

Not really lost in space: the new National Space Policy

Novembro 19, 2006

Vera Gomes

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, November 13, 2006

Ever since the new National Space Policy was released on October 6, partisan pundits on both the right and the left have been commenting on it with limited degrees of knowledge or logic. After reading their work, one gets the sense that very few of the commentators actually bothered to read the ten-page policy. Rather, they read articles about the policy, and comments about it by people they dislike, and then fit it into their standard partisan model of good and bad. Because all politics are tribal these days, there is no need to actually think. All that matters is whether one is a Crip or a Blood, an Eloi or a Morlock, a Republican or a Democrat. Rather than analyze and discuss, the pundits reach for the nearest rock.
Many foreign journalists, as well as left-leaning newspaper editorial boards, have attacked the policy, claiming that it indicates that the United States is seeking to become a new “space cop” and planning on denying access to space to countries that America deems unacceptable. The policy does not say that, however, and merely states (more forcefully than is probably warranted) that the United States will not accept a situation whereby other countries can deny America access to space. There’s a big difference between acting as a space cop and stating that you will not allow another country to push you around.
Commentators on the right side of the political spectrum have been less vociferous, but have done little better as far as their facts are concerned, overstating or at least misstating the current threat to American space operations. For instance, Michael Goldfarb, writing in The Weekly Standard, manages to make a lot of erroneous claims about space warfare in his discussion of the new space policy. He starts by claiming that China recently tested “an anti-satellite laser” and “disabled a U.S. spy satellite in the process.” This event was widely reported on the Internet, although not in the print media other than trade newspapers—neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post reported it, but Defense News, which broke the story, did report it, as did Space News. The event was publicly confirmed by a Department of Defense official, who did not state that this was an “anti-satellite weapon,” nor that the satellite was damaged, nor that the target was an intelligence satellite, as opposed to a weather or navigation satellite. In fact, even considering The Weekly Standard’s erroneous claims, the reaction on the right to the Chinese action has been curiously muted. If an American satellite had indeed been “disabled” by a Chinese laser, it could easily be interpreted as an act of war. Yet pundits on the right surprisingly have not called for retaliatory action against China. In fact, the White House has not even indicated that a diplomatic protest was filed with the Chinese over the incident. How serious was this incident?
The Weekly Standard also repeated the long-discredited claim that China is seeking to develop “parasitic microsatellites” capable of attaching themselves to other spacecraft in orbit. This claim, first made in a 2003 Department of Defense document (and later repeated in 2004), has been shown to be based on nothing more than a Hong Kong tabloid newspaper story that itself was lifted from a Chinese Internet bulletin board. The lesson of this story is not that the Chinese are necessarily threatening, but that American intelligence on the Chinese threat has occasionally been incredibly sloppy.
The Weekly Standard also noted the “attempt by a foreign military to interfere with American military satellites,” referring to the incident during the American invasion of Iraq when the Iraqis used a localized jammer to try to disrupt GPS signals. The article quotes an interview in Military Aerospace Technology where General Lance Lord of Air Force Space Command quoted then-Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche who had claimed that this incident indicated that “the war in space has begun.” Then Lord added a quip of his own: “And I’d add: ‘We didn't start it.’” Roche and Lord’s comments are more than a little disingenuous, especially considering the overwhelming American military presence in space. What The Weekly Standard article failed to recognize was that the Iraqi effort was a) ineffective (the GPS jammer was destroyed with a GPS-guided bomb), b) lame, and c) hardly an example of Iraq initiating (an unprovoked) “space war” (the United States was, after all, dropping GPS-guided bombs on them). But to believe The Weekly Standard, American satellites are currently already under attack.
Fortunately, although the partisan discussions have not been in short supply, they have not been the only discussions of the new space policy. More sober analysts have explained that in terms of actual policy positions, the 2006 National Space Policy is not fundamentally different from the 1996 Clinton-era policy that it replaced. Equally worth noting is that the new policy document is not really different than the overall Bush administration national security policy of the past five years.
Origins of the new policy
The development of a new space policy to replace the 1996 Clinton administration policy was first initiated in 2002 with an order by President Bush to the National Security Council and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Previous policy documents concerned remote sensing; position, navigation, and timing; space transportation; and the Vision for Space Exploration. The National Space Policy was therefore the fifth space policy document to emerge from the Bush White House, and the existence of these previous documents provides some context for the latest one.
The policy document’s release had been publicly expected for almost two years. It reportedly went through 35 drafts before it was finalized, but persons knowledgeable with other senior-level policy documents indicated that this is not an unusually large number of drafts. The delay, however, was unusual, and was reportedly due to conflicts over the roles and responsibilities of the new Directorate of National Intelligence. Previous policies divided responsibilities between the Department of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence, but a new intelligence bureaucracy demanded different considerations. The ten-page document was signed by President Bush on August 31 and released at the end of the day on Friday, October 6—a release clearly intended to gather minimal attention. That ploy was relatively successful, as the document was not discussed in the trade press until over a week later, and it was only after it appeared in the trade press (specifically Space News) that the Washington Post took note of it, thus leading to much wider exposure.
Unilateralism vs. multilateralism
The new document states that the United States will be guided by several principles in its space policy. What critics of the policy have overlooked is that one of the document’s seven principles—stated right at the beginning—declares that: “The United States is committed to the exploration and use of outer space by all nations for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity.” Another principle declares that: “The United States will seek to cooperate with other nations in the peaceful use of outer space to extend the benefits of space, enhance space exploration, and to protect and promote freedom around the world.” These have been long-standing US policy goals dating from the Eisenhower Administration. But despite the criticism, the policy clearly indicates that the United States is committed to the peaceful use of outer space.
Most analysts who have compared the 2006 policy with the 1996 policy have focused upon the tone of the document, particularly its adoption of a more unilateralist approach to the subject of access to space, and the policy’s rejection of new treaties or other limitations on American access to or utilization of space. They have also focused on the policy’s greater emphasis on national security space issues, noting, for instance, that whereas the 1996 policy outlined five goals for the US space program and mentioned national security for two of them, the new policy outlines six goals for the US space program and mentions national security in four of them. However, despite earlier reports, the policy does not specifically endorse the deployment of weapons in space, but it does make clear that the administration is opposed to any actions that may limit such deployment.
The new space policy clearly reflects both the overall policies of the current administration as well as the decisions that the administration has made in the past several years. For example, the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in June 2002 and the space policy reflects the fact that the United States is no longer constrained by treaty from testing and deploying anti-missile weapons in space. Similarly, the United States developed and adopted its Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices in 1997, after the earlier policy was released, and they are therefore incorporated into the new policy.
The unilateralist tone of the new policy is immediately apparent. The policy states in its principles section that: “The United States will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space.” Compare this to the language in the 1996 policy: “The United States will consider and, as appropriate, formulate policy positions on arms control and related measures governing activities in space, and will conclude agreements on such measures only if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the security of the United States and our allies.” Whereas the 1996 document emphasizes “considering” arms control policies, the new document makes clear that the administration is wary of arms control in general and views it as a possible threat to American space operations.
The new tone is also reflected in what is no longer included in the new policy. For example, the 1996 policy used the word “cooperation” in reference to international activities approximately a dozen times; the new policy does so only four times. The 1996 policy used the words “arms control” seven times (including reference to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency), whereas the new policy uses the words twice, with no reference to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency’s role in space policy-related issues. Content analysis—counting the number of times that a word or phrase is used—is an old technique for judging the importance that certain policies or ideas have in official documents. Clearly, international cooperation and arms control are greatly deemphasized in this new policy.
Changing times, changing issues
What few partisan pundits or dispassionate analysts noted about the new space policy is the degree to which it reflects not merely the change in ideology or political control since 1996, but also the change in issues facing the American space program compared to 1996. Although the document appears to place a greater overall emphasis on national security space issues, this may also reflect the fact that the administration views national security space as more troubled, and therefore in greater need of attention, than civil space. The civil space sector received clear direction from the White House several years ago, and the primary issue now is implementation, not policy and planning. Another example of this is the issue of space launch, which received specific attention in 1996, a time when the United States was still awarding study contracts for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. Now that the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 rockets have reached operational capability, policy guidance is relatively less important than in 1996, and hence space launch is not given much attention in the new document.
Perhaps most notably, the policy includes several government guidelines that are undoubtedly a response to the problems experienced by the national security space sector in the past decade. These guidelines include developing “space professionals,” improving systems development and procurement, increasing and strengthening interagency partnerships, and strengthening and maintaining the US-based science, technology, and industrial base.
The space policy also includes a section on access to the frequency spectrum and orbit management and interference protection that was not included in the 1996 version. This subject may be addressed now because of several changes in both the space environment and the political situation. The primary factor is probably that the frequency spectrum is much more crowded today than it was only ten years ago. With the available resources diminishing, everybody who wants access to the frequency spectrum is much more concerned today than a decade ago. Second, the US military is concerned about access to the frequency spectrum more so than a decade ago, both because of the greater demand for it, and because of greater demand in areas of the spectrum that used to be primarily occupied by the military, such as the Extremely High Frequency/Ka-band. Whereas the only satellites that used Ka-band a decade ago were US military and intelligence spacecraft, today many commercial satellites, such as EchoStar’s Dish Network, use those frequencies. One of the provisions of the new space policy is that government agencies must “explicitly address requirements for radio frequency spectrum and orbit assignments prior to approving acquisition of new space capabilities.” Clearly, the drafters of this policy want this issue to be dealt with upfront, and not as an afterthought.
In addition to changes in the space policy environment in the last decade, the document also reflects the various actions that the administration has already taken in the space policy field. For instance, several independent observers claimed that the lack of attention to civil space policy in the new document indicated decreased administration interest in the subject, or worse, an administration that was backing away from its own space exploration goals. However, subjects such as the Vision for Space Exploration did not need to be substantially addressed in the policy because they have already been addressed in previous policy documents. The National Space Policy did not have to cover all subjects in the space field, only those that in the minds of administration officials currently lack sufficient guidance. Similarly, NASA is affected less by this document—and concerned less about it—precisely because the agency has its own separate guidance.
Civil space and Earth observation
The new space policy reflects the goals of the 2004 Vision for Space Exploration and NASA’s new focus on exploration. However, it also makes clear that exploration is not the sole goal of the agency, stating that the NASA administrator shall: “execute a sustained and affordable human and robotic program of space exploration and develop, acquire, and use civil space systems to advance fundamental scientific knowledge of our Earth system, solar system, and universe.”
In contrast, the 1996 policy was more expansive, stating that NASA: “will focus its research and development efforts in: space science to enhance knowledge of the solar system, the universe, and fundamental natural and physical sciences; Earth observation to better understand global change and the effect of natural and human influences on the environment; human space flight to conduct scientific, commercial, and exploration activities; and space technologies and applications to develop new technologies in support of U.S. Government needs and our economic competitiveness.”
Although the new policy document does not have to cover every issue in the space policy field, the omission of certain subjects does appear rather curious. For instance, the new policy includes no mention of the International Space Station nor the Space Shuttle, which remain the current major focus of NASA activities. Although they were addressed in the Vision for Space Exploration document of January 2004, it seems odd that they are not even mentioned here. Similarly, whereas the 1996 document outlined a considerable role for international cooperation in civil space policy, the new version lists only two civil areas for cooperation: exploration programs and Earth observation. Either by accident or intent, other space science opportunities are not mentioned. This might be because the administration views “exploration” to include subjects such as solar system and astrophysics missions, or it might signal that the administration sees fewer useful opportunities for such cooperation.
Another major change compared to 1996 is that the earlier policy devoted considerable attention to the subject of Earth science or Earth observation, mentioning it over 20 times, and devoting an entire section to the subject. In contrast, the new document mentions this subject only six times. To some extent this reflects the fact that the Earth Observing System was in full-scale development in 1996 and it has now been deployed. The 1996 policy also reflected government interest in promoting the budding commercial remote sensing field, which has now matured. The new policy might also reflect the fact that NASA has been awaiting direction in Earth science from the National Research Council’s forthcoming decadal survey. However, even all of these factors combined seem insufficient to explain the lack of discussion of this subject in the new policy. Whereas the 1996 policy mentioned the importance of studying global change, the new version does not. This diminished attention to Earth science and observation reflects the current administration’s policy agenda, as well as the fact that Earth science no longer has a champion in the Vice President’s office.
One unusual aspect of the new policy is the section on space nuclear power. The section in the new policy is considerably longer than in the 1996 version, despite the fact that after the effective cancellation of the civilian Prometheus program, the United States (specifically NASA) no longer has plans to develop space nuclear reactors in the near future. Much of this section is also devoted to “non-government spacecraft utilizing nuclear power sources.” There are currently no known non-government spacecraft proposed that fit this description, and the operations and development costs of such a vehicle would be prohibitively expensive. Yet they are included in the policy. Is this a real issue, or a quirk of the policy deliberation process?
Implementing American space policy
Although documents such as the National Space Policy serve an important function in guiding the activities of the federal bureaucracy, the role of senior space policy documents should not be overemphasized. This document was started in 2002 and yet was not issued until four years later, after a tempestuous process. During those four years, American space policy changed in important ways, yet the 1996 Clinton policy was still technically in effect (the new document indicates that it supersedes the previous one). For all intents and purposes, the 2006 National Space Policy will become moot at the end of the current administration in January 2009—even if it is not formally rescinded—because whoever enters the White House at that time will have a different set of policy objectives.
More importantly, the annual budget cycle, not to mention the interaction between Congress and the White House, play major roles in determining what space policies get implemented and how. Clearly the new space policy reflects both a different space environment and the priorities of a different administration compared to ten years ago. But this document does not automatically signal a change in direction for the current administration’s plans for space towards a more militant space policy. Rather, it reflects the priorities of the current administration, priorities which should be well-known by now, nearly six years into the Bush tenure.
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Dwayne A. Day currently teaches a space policy class at The George Washington University. He can be reached at zirconic@earthlink.net.


Mais em: http://www.thespacereview.com/archive/745a.pdf

Changes in Congress May Mean More Oversight, New Challenges for NASA

Novembro 15, 2006

Vera Gomes

By Brian Berger
Staff Writer


As Democrats take charge of the U.S. Congress for the first time in more than a decade, NASA and its reinvigorated space exploration agenda will face new challenges.

While analysts do not foresee the new Congress dismantling the agency’s plan to field new manned spacecraft systems and return to the Moon, they do expect Democrats to submit the U.S. space agency’s space exploration plans to more scrutiny and use their greater say over federal spending to bolster NASA science and aeronautics programs hard hit in recent budgets.

“NASA should expect continued support of robotic and human space exploration beyond Earth orbit, balanced with an increased emphasis on providing benefits to taxpayers through Earth and space science and aeronautics,” said Lori Garver, a prominent Democrat in space circles and a former senior NASA official who consults for DFI International here. “This support will likely be met with more vigorous oversight of operations plans, budget changes and programs that are experiencing technical problems, delays and cost overruns.”

Traditionally, the most vigorous NASA oversight has been done by the House Science Committee. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), the presumptive chair of that committee in the new Congress, said that would not change under his leadership.

“An important part of the Committee’s agenda will be serious and sustained oversight of all of NASA’s activities,” Gordon said in a written response to questions from Space News. “In that regard, we will of course be examining the Administration’s exploration initiative — including its objectives, its schedule and funding, and the roles of international cooperation and the commercial sector —‑ to make sure the nation gets the best return on its investment in this important initiative.”

Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), whose Boulder congressional district is home to Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., the Southwest Research Institute and the National Weather Service’s Space Environment Center, is expected to become chair of the House Science space and aeronautics subcommittee.

Udall, who has said he is committed to helping NASA maintain momentum on its space exploration goals without “hollowing out space and Earth science” or sacrificing aeronautics research, would replace Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), who frequently expressed concern about China sending astronauts to the Moon before the United States can make its return. Calvert, congressional sources and other political analysts said, may stay on the subcommittee as the ranking Republican now that his chances of getting a more coveted seat the House Appropriations Committee appears shot.

Consultant Bill Adkins of Adkins Strategies LLC, the science and aeronautics subcommittee’s Republican staff director until this summer, said NASA should not see a dramatic difference between Gordon and current House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert, a moderate New York Republican who did not seek re-election this year.

“Boehlert and Gordon were largely coming from the same direction on NASA,” he said. “Both were supportive of the [space exploration] vision but had questions and talked about

NASA being a balanced, multi-mission agency.”

“House Appropriations is where NASA is going to have a trickier time because a Democratic chairman may come in with a different set of national priorities,” Adkins said.

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) is expected to chair the House Appropriations Committee in the next Congress. As ranking Democrat, Obey attempted to cut $200 million from NASA’s 2007 budget earlier this year and give it to local law enforcement programs. During a debate on an amendment that would have prevented NASA from spending any money on a manned Mars missions, Obey accused some of his colleagues as having “Mars fever.”

Obey was also one of 15 House members to vote against the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 when it first came to the floor. That bill provided the first congressional endorsement of NASA’s space exploration agenda and authorized the higher spending levels for the agency than the White House has requested. Analysts generally described Obey as NASA’s biggest problem in the new Congress, given the combination of his new clout and past opposition to human spaceflight programs.

At the appropriations subcommittee level, where annual spending bills are drafted, NASA should find itself in more familiar — and friendlier — territory, analysts agreed.

The chairmanship of the House Appropriations science, state, justice and commerce subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over NASA, generally is expected to go to the current ranking Democrat, Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia.

Mollohan’s Fairmont, W.Va., district is home to NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation facility.

Analysts said Mollohan’s support of NASA is tempered by the congressman’s liberal use of budget earmarks to direct federal dollars back home. Some of those earmarks, directed through non profit groups he helped start, came under scrutiny during his campaign. He left his post as the top Democrat on the House ethics committee in April amid questions about personal financial dealings he had with beneficiaries of earmarks he pushed through.

After winning his 13th term on Nov. 7, he was unapologetic about his use of earmarks, telling a local paper, the Times West Virginian, the next day he was “not going to change a bit.”

Some analysts said Democratic leadership could pass over Mollohan when doling out chairmanships, but most felt he would get the job.

Mollohan’s approach to earmarks, analysts said, stands in contrast to outgoing subcommittee chairman Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who managed to keep NASA’s budget earmark-free all the way through passage by the House this summer.

Other strong NASA supporters expected to remain on the House Appropriations Committee include Reps. Robert “Bud” Cramer (D-Ala.), Chet Edwards (D-Texas), Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), and John Culberson (R-Texas).

In the U.S. Senate, where the Democrats will have a slim one-vote majority over Republicans, NASA’s budget will fall under the jurisdiction of Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), an ardent NASA supporter who is championing a $1 billion increase for the agency. Mikulski, another lawmaker not shy about earmarking bills, already has considerable say over the NASA budget as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee and has wielded that power in the past to the benefit of NASA science programs, particularly those managed by Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

Her influence will only grow when she becomes the subcommittee’s chairwoman in the in the new Congress. Mikulski spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said her boss “will continue to make NASA a top priority.”

How much room to maneuver Mikulski and other NASA supporters on the subcommittee, including outgoing chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), will have will depend largely on the budget allocations handed down by the full committee at the start the year.

Paul Carliner, the subcommittee’s Democratic staff director, speaking at a space exploration seminar here several days before the election, said a Democratic Congress likely would push a slight increase in domestic discretionary spending and that, in turn, could translate into more money for NASA. “Clearly, if additional funding becomes available,” he said, “one of the things we’d like to see is some of the funding cuts to science restored.” Carliner also hinted that aeronautics could see an increase. “No other division of the agency has taken a bigger hit to its budget over the last 10 years than aeronautics,” he said.

In addition to Mikulski and Shelby, other NASA supporters on the Senate Appropriations Committee include Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). All three have significant NASA presence in their states.

NASA also has a strong supporter in Sen. Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat favored to become chairman of the Senate Commerce science and space subcommittee, replacing Hutchison who is expected to stay on as the ranking Republican.

Nelson, whose state is home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, flew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in January 1986 while a member of the House. Along with Hutchison, Nelson has been the Senate’s most vocal critic of NASA’s plan to retire the space shuttle before fielding its replacement, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. He and Hutchison pushed for, but did not get, a provision in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 that would have prohibited NASA from retiring the shuttle before its replacement was ready to go.

This year’s elections also returned to office another strong NASA supporter, Democrat Nick Lampson, who narrowly defeated write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs to win the Houston-area seat vacated by ousted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Lampson was the ranking Democrat on the House Science space and aeronautics subcommittee until he lost his seat in 2004 in a congressional redistricting engineered by DeLay. Analysts said Lampson could be given a plum Appropriations Committee assignment to bolster his chances of winning re-election in a heavily Republican district.

With DeLay gone, NASA has yet to find a new political champion in the House with the same clout. Analysts, however, said NASA has cause for optimism if Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) beats out Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.), a prominent Iraq war critic, to become House majority leader in the next Congress. Hoyer is closely allied with Mikulski and has paid heed to space interests in his state.

While the space community has no clear ties to Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), analysts said NASA and its contractors could find an in through Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), a close Pelosi associate who has been active on issues affecting the Mountain View, Calif.-based NASA Ames Research Center, located in her district.

in: http://www.space.com/spacenews/businessmonday_061113.html

Demissão de Rumsfeld

Novembro 10, 2006

Vera Gomes

A demissão de Donald Rumsfeld de Secretário da Defesa dos Estados Unidos, anunciada hoje, põe fim a seis anos de uma perspectiva belicista da política internacional que se saldou com duas guerras longe de estarem resolvidas.
Considerado um cérebro brilhante, Rumsfeld, de 74 anos, cumpriu a sua segunda passagem pelo Pentágono – depois de ter sido nomeado pela primeira vez pelo Presidente Gerald Ford – sem ter alcançado os principais objectivos que levaram os Estados Unidos para a guerra no Afeganistão e no Iraque.
Figura charneira dos neo-conservadores dentro da Administração de George W. Bush, Rumsfeld manteve uma relação distante e conflituosa com as lideranças das Forças Armadas, fiel da máxima de que a guerra é demasiado importante para ser deixada na mão dos militares, mesmo tendo em conta que conseguiu aumentar o orçamento e o peso dos militares na sociedade norte-americana.
Sujeito a uma pressão cada vez maior por causa do Iraque, o Secretário da Defesa não sobreviveu às críticas provenientes de todos os quadrantes, principalmente entre militares e ex-militares, que culminou esta segunda-feira com um editorial conjunto publicado pelo “Army Times”, “Navy Times”, “Marine Corps Times” e “Air Force Times” a pedir a sua demissão.
“Rumsfeld perdeu o seu crédito com as chefias, com as tropas, com o Congresso e com a opinião pública. A sua estratégia falhou, a sua capacidade para liderar está comprometida”, lia-se no editorial que tornava público o desconforto em todas as forças armadas em relação ao seu Secretário de Estado.
Apesar de ainda durante a campanha para as eleições de terça-feira, que se saldaram por uma derrota esmagadora dos republicanos, o Presidente Bush ter reiterado a sua confiança em Rumsfeld e em Dick Cheney, garantindo que iriam ficar até ao final do mandato, as críticas eram já demasiado ensurdecedoras para deixarem de ser ouvidas na Casa Branca.
O Presidente não teve outro remédio do que aceitar a demissão de Rumsfeld: “Ambos éramos de opinião de que era necessária uma cara nova à frente do Pentágono e da guerra no Iraque”, declarou hoje em conferência de imprensa.
O bichinho da política
Licenciado na Universidade de Princeton, piloto de aviões na Marinha dos Estados Unidos, Rumsfeld deixou-se seduzir pela política muito cedo e foi eleito pela primeira vez para o Congresso em 1962, com 30 anos.
Em 1969, foi convidado pela Administração de Richard Nixon e assumiria vários cargos intermédios até ser nomeado embaixador na NATO em 1973.
Voltou a Washington com o Presidente Gerald Ford, que assumiu depois da demissão de Nixon, para ser, primeiro, chefe do seu gabinete de transição e, depois, chefe de Gabinete.
Quando Rumsfeld passou para Secretário da Defesa foi substituído no cargo precisamente por Dick Cheney.
Depois da derrota de Ford pelo democrata Jimmy Carter, teve uma carreira de sucesso no sector privado, dirigindo a farmacêutica Searle (1977-1985) e depois uma empresa de alta tecnologia, a General Instrument Corporation (1990-93). Entre as duas foi assessor especial de um banco de investimentos.
Porém, nunca se afastou da política executiva, sendo conselheiro especial da Administração Ronald Reagan para questões de armamento e sobre o Médio Oriente, além de ter coordenado a Comissão para Avaliar a Ameaça de Mísseis Balísticos.
Identificado com os princípios ultraliberais da escola de Chicago, Rumsfeld chegou a pensar candidatar-se a Presidente em 1988, sem nunca ter assumido verdadeiramente essa vontade.

in, Lusa

NASA crê que mudança no Senado americano pode mudar rumo da Politica Espacial

Novembro 10, 2006

Vera Gomes

Democrats wrested control of the Senate from Republicans Wednesday with an upset victory in Virginia, giving the party complete domination of Capitol Hill for the first time since 1994. Jim Webb's squeaker win over incumbent Sen. George Allen gave Democrats their 51st seat in the Senate...."

Editor's note: Sen. Allen has just conceeded the election to Jim Webb.

It is one thing if only the House is run by Democrats. It is quite another if the Senate is run by them as well. Given that the Democrats seem to be intent upon placing all of the Bush Administration's activities under closer scrutiny, NASA should expect much more oversight than it has had in previous years. And that scrutiny is no longer going to be modulated by the White House.


Sen. Byrd (D-WV) would be in line to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee (more good news for IV&V). The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee would likely be chaired by Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) (good news for GSFC). Of course, this means that Sen. Shelby (R-AL) would find his ability to bully NASA into a corner (when it comes to MSFC issues) greatly diminished.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation stands to be chaired by Sen. Inouye (D-HI). The Science and Space Subcommittee will almost certainly be chaired by Sen. Nelson (D-FL). If Sen. Allen (who is on the committee) does indeed lose, then LaRC will lose a supporter. Sen. Hutchison (R-TX) won re-election and will continue to serve to represent JSC's interests.

At first glance, it is likely that the Senate's oversight of NASA is much less likely to undergo any dramatic changes in the short term given the way that the Senate has been handling things. Indeed, Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Hutchison (who sits on both the authorizing and appropriations committees that oversee NASA) have had an interesting mutual cooperation pact for the past few years, so it is likely that this will continue. Mikulski and Hutchison have developed a plan whereby they hope to give NASA $2.4 billion over the course of several years so as to allow NASA to gain back the funds it had used to cover the aftermath of the Columbia accident.

Of course, it is likely that oversight as to the Shuttle fleet and its replacement by the CEV will increase once Nelson assumes the chairmanship. Issues relating to the use of the ISS will also be of interest to the committee.

It is much more likely that we'll see some political theatre in the House Science Committee. Things to watch out for: hearings on the cost of the VSE and its architecture, balancing the VSE against science cuts, and the Administration's stance on global warming research.

One thing is certain, however. While there is a Republican majority in Congress, explaining the rationale behind the VSE as being "because the President has directed us to do this" works well enough. However, with the prospect of losing control of both the House and Senate, this will no longer suffice as far as Congress is concerned.

Supporters of the VSE at NASA and the White House (if there are any left) are going to need to find a new, non-partisan underlying rationale for the VSE. The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 was a start - but it is going to take more than a piece of legislation to keep the VSE on track as a new Congress puts its costs and plans under a microscope.

in: http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2006/11/election_implic_1.html
Mais informação em: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=22508

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